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January 2005 Archives

January 3, 2005

Ringing in 2005

Well, we're home! I add an exclamation point because it's nice to be home. It was sad leaving my mom's. It always is. And we had a fabulous time there with her. It was a wonderful Christmas even though there was some unexpected in-fighting. Still, overall, we had a great time. We love being at mom's and with mom. It's always nice to be home though, too.... back to our twin coffee pots (so that I can drink decaf), our super-powerful water flow in the shower, and other little things that make home home. Of course, we leave behind other niceties at mom's and ones even around town like a drive-through drop-off at the local library (something we really need here in SF where you have to walk your books in), every fast food restaurant you could want within a few minutes driving distance (we routinely drive about 20 minutes to get to Wendy's from our SF house), a Wal-Mart just down the road, an ophthalmologist that came in at night when called... there are things to be said for small-time living, for sure.

I've got tons of things I need to blog (including all the wonderful knit-stuff I unwrapped), but the New Year leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed, especially since we just got home yesterday (and then had a power outage for several hours last night), so you'll get things in bits and pieces for a few days.

I did want to show a few pictures to get the New Year rolling...

Mom really liked her Charlotte's Web, and I think it looks beautiful on her. The colors are just right for her, as you can see from these photos.

gramma in shawl gramma in shawl

She would have looked great in a red and purple one, too, (had I been able to find the yarns when I was looking) to go with her Red Hat Club stuff, but I love the look of the teal. It's peaceful and tranquil and wise.

I mentioned before Christmas that I was working on helping mom (Gramma) finish the candy cane hats. I made hat #3 and did corkscrews for the tops of all three hats. Those took forever, but they really were easy to make and very cute once done. (The pattern for the corkscrew is in the Handy Book of Patterns.)

Here are pics of the boys in the hats. We never did get a photo of all three boys at once. The first photo shows Spencer and Matthew (with Megan). The second shows Matthew and cousin Alex (five months older than Matthew).

boys in hats boys in hats

On the plane home yesterday, I made a list of all the things (I could remember) that I knitted in 2004. It was a surprisingly long list, especially for a year in which a new baby arrived. I need to set up a gallery of finished objects, so this list is the foundation upon which I'll do that (when I get the chance). Still, even without photos, it's a list that stands as a testament to work completed.

  • Spencer's baby Koigu hat (started while in the hospital post-cesarean)
  • Spencer's red variegated hat (from Handy Book of Patterns)
  • Yukon fur-fringed hat (based on a LYS store sample)
  • Alchemy baby cable hat (original design)
  • Three rainbow hats from The Purl Stitch for Matthew, Megan, and me
  • Matching rainbow seed-stitch scarf for Matthew
  • Green Big Wool baby cable hat
  • Purple Cascade Skye cardigan (original design)
  • Love Bug vest for Matthew (original design)
  • Love Bug vest for Spencer (original design)
  • Mom's Charlotte's Web
  • Pink Eros scarf w/ ruffled ends
  • Red stained glass fringed Eros scarf for Megan
  • Chili Pepper Fluff scarf
  • Making Waves socks (part of 6 Sox KnitAlong)
  • Cloverleaf socks (part of 6 Sox KnitAlong)
  • Fluted Banister socks (part of 6 Sox KnitAlong)
  • Broad Ripple socks for Megan
  • Splash scarf for sister-in-law
  • Fiber Trends fur trimmed felted tote (which I love)
  • Gauntlets for Megan
  • Gauntlets for me
  • Touch Me scarf
  • Jo Sharp Oriole vest
  • Child's poncho (for school auction)

(Entries shown in red were made as gifts. It wasn't a gift-heavy year.)

Even though most of this list is accessories, I don't think I've ever finished so many things in a year before. I think the blogging community has been really, really good for me, and I'm looking forward to a really productive and blogworthy and bloggable and blogful(l) 2005! Cheers.

spencer new year

January 4, 2005

Uggg, Solicitations

Megan and I are simply not the "solicitations" type. We don't do fundraising. We don't even do garage sales. We'll send you an email to ask a question. But don't expect to see us knocking on your door to raise money. Even if you're our friend, you're more likely to get an email or text message than a phone call or a "hey, I was in the neighborhood so thought I'd drop in."

Unfortunately, these personality traits don't mesh well with the cooperative nursery school modus operandi. To stay in business... to provide a wonderful, nurturing, supportive, creative, safe, forward-thinking, and fun environment for our children, the school has to make money. The school operates, largely, on what we, as enrolled families, are able to bring in through the various annual fundraising efforts.

The biggest of these is the annual silent auction.

Before that, however, is the annual quilt raffle, which takes place at the Children's Art Show where all the artwork we parents paid to have framed (yes, another fundraiser) is displayed.

Quilt raffle tickets are $2 each, and we had to buy 55 of them, whether we manage to sell them or not. Not a huge deal. If we had a big circle of friends and family, I guess we'd have been able to get rid of the tickets no problem. After all, $2 for a chance to win a queen-size velvet quilt isn't a bad deal or a huge bite out of the pocket.

(We don't love the quilt, unfortunately, which makes it a harder sell on some level!)

When we got to KY for the holidays, my mom bought a bunch of tickets, and then, taking pity on our hopeless, woeful fundraising inadequacies, she took them to her office and sold a few. So, we've got a little more than half left. Maybe we'll win.

Attention now has to be turned to the auction, which is rapidly approaching with its March date and February cutoff for delivery of items.

Each family picks at least 10 vendors/companies from the "Big Book" that they agree to solicit either in person or via letter. There is, of course, a monetary goal of what each family is trying to bring in. If you can bring in that amount in 10 solicitations, more power to you.

Obviously, in person probably has a better success rate, but then we're just not the in-person type, so, before leaving for the holidays, I spent a morning customizing my letters, addressing return envelopes, and getting everything in the mail.

I felt hopeful. At the same time, part of me kept saying, "we'll probably get no response."

I probably think that because a few years back I did the Easter Seals thing where I customized and sent out all the letters to people in my neighborhood.

And no one responded.

How sad.

We definitely don't live in a Little House on the Prairie neighborhood.

Imagine my surprise and delight when we got to school yesterday and there were two envelopes in our cubby, both containing gift certificates.

One was from ArtFibers (downtown SF). They gave a certificate for a Sunday workshop, which I thought was really cool.

The other was from a local pizza place. They're one we order from regularly, so I was really glad to see the envelope from them. It just made me feel good to know they paid attention to the letter and care about the kids and the community.

I'm still hoping we hear back from some of the others we solicited.

In addition to certificates, gift cards, donations, travel packages, and such, families can donate items they've made or purchased themselves. Since Megan works at HP, no doubt we'll probably be buying at least one printer for donation. But we're also planning to donate some handmade items - especially since we run BrambleBug.com.

Megan, Mom, and I spent a good bit of time hashing out ideas of things we could make for reasonable cost (or partly from stash; even better!) that we could auction at a reasonable cost - and that we could complete before the February 11 date.

For example, back in the fall, I really wanted to make a Charlotte's Web for the auction. Given that Koigu runs about $10 a skein, that's $50 to make it - not counting any time. Megan was afraid that the audience for the auction wouldn't pay somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred dollars for the shawl. I'm still not convinced, but we took it off our to-make list. Maybe once we see how the items are received this year we'll have a better idea of what we can make next year. (And this year, we'll start making items earlier, hopefully!)

Megan's got a whole list of things she's making, like dolls and teddy bears. Her list is mostly non-knit, though she did start a really cute children's hat out of Pronto and some novelty yarns (Zap and something else, I think) for the brim.

Mom graciously agreed to help make things for us, and we went through her stash and picked out some yarns for her to make a child's poncho (based on the Very Harlot Poncho).

I'm hoping to make a number of things, but during our trip to the annual after-Christmas/pre-inventory yarn sale at a store close to my mom's, I got hooked on this really cool little felted purse. It's made holding 2 strands of a feltable worsted (e.g., Cascade 220 or Galway) and a novelty yarn. You change novelty yarns every few rows.

felted bag in progress

The picture on the pattern wouldn't have even caused me to look twice, but seeing a sample hanging up made in purples, I was really fascinated. And I love it when I see a sample like that and the shop staff knows "what" pattern it is. That's the best.

Of course, this one is turning out so cute that I sort of want it for myself!

January 5, 2005

good eats

Instead of telling you about resolutions to eat less and lose weight in the new year, I'll first tell you about some of the foods that helped shape our holiday 2004.

Mexican caviar. A salsa made with black olives, tomatoes, and green chilies, and eaten with tortilla chips or Fritos, there is a lot to love in this just-mix-it-up recipe.

Mom's cranberry salad. An off-the-back-of-the-bag discovery that will probably become a classic in our house. It's a nice change from jellied cranberry, and with its citrus twist it is, in mom's words, 'refreshing.'

Bundt cakes. To try out both a Christmas tree and a Chrysanthemum Bundt pan, I pored over a book full of mouthwatering Bundt recipes. I had it in my head that I wanted to make something that would be good for breakfast or as a 'with coffee' snack versus a more traditional after-dinner dessert. A bread pudding one sounded particularly apt to me, but Mom doesn't like bread pudding. A lemon blueberry one was my next pick, but I was outnumbered. M. and Mom wanted an Orange Delight recipe. I was resistant, but it turned out amazing. With its sugar, cinnamon, and Craisin topping and homemade orange glaze, it was dense, wonderful, and darned near addictive. Buoyed by the orange cake's success, I next made the lemon blueberry. With a vanilla glaze, it, too, was great. I've never been much on cake, but I could easily be a Bundt cake addict.

Christmas Trash. This white chocolate version of Party Mix has been a holiday favorite for many years. Various Chex-like cereals, raisins, pecans, pretzels, and dried cranberries covered in white chocolate. Oh yeah.

Tortilla Soup. I had never heard of Tortilla Soup, but it's evidently popular in KY since it was on the menu at several restaurants we visited. When we got there, Mom was raving about the tortilla soup she'd recently had and wanted to make for us. I added it to our foods-to-make list, and we finally got a taste on New Year's Eve eve. It was great. It's basically a chicken and vegetable soup you serve over tortilla chips (or Fritos) and top with shredded cheese and sour cream. Loved it.

There were one or two baking/cooking disappointments, of course. Most notable for me was our first attempt at shortbread. I don't think I'd ever had shortbread until last fall when I had a piece dipped in chocolate at a Tully's coffee shop after getting my hair cut. I fell in love with the taste. Then, before Christmas, the Yarn Harlot made some, and among the many comments, someone posted a recipe. So, we gave it a try. For whatever reason, it didn't turn out for us. With so much to make, we never did get around to finding and trying another recipe. Guess I'll have to poke around and see what I turn up.

Now the holidays are over, and the realities of weight and cholesterol set in. I'd really like to go back on Atkins, since that really works for me, but even a hint of soy seems to put Spencer in a reflux tailspin (as best we can tell), and I find it hard to do low-carb without soy.

I guess portion control and common sense will have to tide me through for now.

January 6, 2005

bzzz bzzz neatby bees

I wouldn't call myself superstitious, but I am very ritualistic and sentimental. I attach meaning to things, procedures, and events. Every year, something on my list of New Year's resolutions (a fairly philosophical rather than pragmatic list, so it's one I keep mostly private) involves creativity.

To kick things off right, every year, I try to start a new project on New Year's Day.

(When my grandparents were alive, we played a lot of cards as a family. Playing poker, my grandfather always used to say, "If you don't win the first one, you can't win them all." I think there's something similar in making sure you knit on New Year's Day.)

This year, things were stacked a bit against me. We were scheduled to fly home on the 2nd. We thought> we were flying out around noon. But, a check of the itinerary showed a 9 a.m. flight, which meant we had to head out around 5 a.m. for the airport, a reality that put us in unexpected high gear.

There was a seemingly endless flurry of packing and box-loading and last-day-get-it-all-in playing among the boys and checking off as many things as I could on the mammoth to-do list I'd accumulated while at mom's.

When the house finally cleared out after 9 pm, part of me wanted to just throw tradition to the wind and not start something just for the sake of starting something. After all, in the preceeding week, I'd started both the Falling Leaves shawl (which I still have to blog about) and the novelty-striped felted bag for the auction. So, it's not like I needed a new project. But, the stronger part of me couldn't stand the thought of 'not' starting something to ring in the New Year as a creative and knitfull year.

Socks seemed a logical choice.

As an extra to-do present, Megan gave me Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks book and four skeins of Lorna's Laces sock yarn - two in a purple variegated (for me) and two in the wonderful, whimsical bee stripe with a note to make her bee stripe socks.

(It was actually pretty funny. I knew she really liked the bee stripe colorway, so I ordered her three skeins from Rob at ThreadBear to make a hat for one of the boys. It's sock yarn, yes, but Mom/Gramma has made them several hats now from sock yarn, and they're stretchy but great. M. had expressed interest in making one of them a bee hat when I'd ordered yarn in the summer from Carodan Farm, but they were out of stock on it. So when trying to figure out a to-do gift for her, I went the bee stripe route, as well as copies of two books I thought she'd like: Vogue Knitting on the Go: Scarves Two and Vogue Knitting on the Go: Chunky Scarves & Hats. So, we both opened bee stripe yarn at the same time! By the way, if you haven't seen the Vogue Scarves Two, it's worth a look. We both love the sheep and zebra scarf patterns.)

Prior to the new year, I spent random bits of time perusing the book. It has some nice and really interesting patterns in it. However, for a book that is ostensibly supposed to offer interchangeable components, it's awkwardly and confusingly laid out.

bee sock

Megan selected a pair of Crenellated Toe-Up socks with a Turkish afterthought heel. She picked it partly because she liked the heel. Since I've never made toe-up socks, I was a bit hesitant about starting that pattern. I thought maybe I should just do the basic sock and slot in the afterthought heel, but the only directions for that heel in the book are with the toe-up sock.

Feeling pressured by time, I decided to go ahead and do the toe-up pattern. It was my first time doing a crochet hook provisional cast on, but the directions for it were great. I quickly got things cast on and the square toe picked up. I didn't make a lot of progress (as you can see from the photo) before calling it a night, but I did get started and even learned something new.

For quasi-superstitious me, it seemed like a positive and auspicious start to my knitting year!

(P.S. Christy at Rainbow Chills has made reference several times recently to not liking working with Lorna's Laces. I'm waiting to see what troubles she's had even as I work on my first pair of socks with LL sock yarn. I've used other LL yarns and liked them.)

January 7, 2005

in box #1...

Our boxes from KY just started arriving yesterday. Boxes 1, 2, and 3 showed up late yesterday, which thrilled Matthew when he got home from school since the Rescue Heroes Fire Truck and Robot Jeep were in it, along with a huge Lego X-Wing Fighter and Yoda's House set.

(We spent pre-bedtime time last night building Yoda's house. Very cool! I think I now need to re-watch Empire Strikes Back to see Yoda's house in the movie since the fact that you build a light saber into his bed (e.g., under the mattress) is part of the kit. I don't remember that from the movie, so now I'm compelled to get my copy out and take another look.)

Back to the boxes...

We shipped 7 boxes home pre-holidays, and shipped 5 boxes back to CA post-holidays. To some that probably seems crazy, but to us, it seems manageable and is just part of the holidays. It's worth it to be able to spend an extended Christmas with Mom (2 weeks) and still have Christmas seem normal for the kids. It wouldn't be the same if we did presents in CA quickly before leaving town. They'd not get to play with and enjoy anything they opened. So, we just factor shipping both ways into our plans. It works.

As the boxes arrive, I'll be able to start taking pictures and blogging some of the great things I got for gifts. The UPS site tells me that the next box is scheduled for delivery today. I'm hoping it's got the rest of the yarn I'm waiting for in it.

In the interim...

Here's something funny that happened while we were home... We'd headed out to pick up fast food. I can't remember where we adults were getting food from, but we'd gone to McDonald's to get a Happy Meal for Matthew (since he's not very experimental yet; McD's or Wendy's are about his fast food limit). It was really cold that night, and I'd forgotten my gauntlets at the house, so I had on a pair of foldover mittens Megan had left in the rental. She bought them one year while we were vacationing in Maine. They're pink and dark pink, with Fair Isle patterning, and the top of the mitten flips back and buttons, making it a fingerless mitt when that's what you want.

While we were waiting to pay, I was telling her about the "Mitten Along" idea I've been brewing and how I'd been thinking that one of the kinds of mittens I'd be interested in making was the flip-back top.

I'd just said that when the cashier opened the window. Noticing the mitts, she said, "Cool! I have a pattern for those at home that I'm knitting."

I told her we'd just been talking about wanting to make that kind.

"It's an online pattern," she said. "Just go to Knitty.com."

As we told her we love Knitty and bid her Happy Holidays, we had to laugh.

It seemed a perfect tribute to knitting's mass appeal these days (and Knitty's widespread audience).

P.S. The pair she was talking about: Broad Street Mittens by Janis Cortese.

P.S.S. I'm still thinking of a mitten along. Not because I just love mitten knitting above all else, but like socks, they're good projects to have going alongside bigger ones. Plus, you could really knock out some gifts with a mitten along. I heard from a few of you, but let me know if you're interested so I can get things going.

January 8, 2005

Clapotis Question...

So, I'm making my first Clapotis. I didn't expect to make one. To be honest, while it looks great in the photo on Knitty, the way it is shown in the main photo looks a bit bulky, so I didn't think it was "for me." But then I kept running into it over and over again.

I saw that SequinK is making one in Noro Silk Garden. Then, following a link from Sharon at KnitKnacks, I ran headfirst into Kari's Thirteen Ways of Looking at Clapotis.

For the first time, Clapotis really caught my eye.

In her photo essay, I started visualizing it more as a shawl and less as a bunched-up-around-the-neck scarf. I was really seeing the wonderful dropped-stitch lines. I was captivated.

I started toying with Clapotis in my head.

Then Jodi at SavannaChic blogged about hers. She's using Over The Rainbow's 50/50 silk/merino in a really beautiful colorway.

The reality set in... I had to make one.

Realization dawned...

I could make one for the auction.

Lightbulbs went off...

Something in my stash could no doubt be put to use for Clapotis.

And, bingo, Clapotis went from being on my radar, something that just kept hitting the edges of my consciousness in other people's blogs, to something on my needles.

Indeed, we found yarns in the basement stash that are perfect for this. Back when we first started knitting, we bought several colorways of a yarn called Mouton Bleu. I made my first cardigan from it. It was Hearty by Kim Hargreaves from the Tweed Collection. I had to use the yarn doubled, and it's a huge cardigan, much too large for me now, sadly. But, it'll always be special to me, and when I was very pregnant with Spencer, I wore that cardigan numerous times to Matthew's music class because it offered some coverage when my belly was so big that all my maternity shirts were just a little too short and my maternity pants refused to stay up on my protruding belly!

I brought up a colorway of Mouton Bleu and got started. I love the pattern. It's fast, easy, and addictive.

Plus, the colorway is working up beautifully. I promise pictures in my next entry.

But, I have a question.

As I look ahead to how the stitches get dropped, I'm confused...

When I drop that stitch and go on, and then I later unravel it to the edge, what am I left with at that edge? Do I have to cut the yarn at the edge and then tuck ends? Probably this is all obvious, and once I get there will be painfully clear. But I'm having trouble visualizing what happens.

Can someone who has already dropped stitches clue me in? I'd really appreciate it!

(The one thing I hate is that for whatever reason, the word "Clapotis" sounds like some kind of disease you'd rather not talk about. Maybe it's just how I'm pronouncing it, but I wish for another name for it!)

Clapotis Question Answered!

Huge thanks to Anna at Finally Waking Up for answering my Clapotis question (from earlier today).

Somehow when she described what happens, it made total sense. I think in my head I was envisioning ending up with a length of yarn at the end of each unravel, and I couldn't figure out what I'd "do" with that yarn.

That's of course not what will happen. But, I get it now!

Now I can knit on Clapotis in peace without this naggling worry that when I finally get to the dropping stitches point things will be a shambles - or that I'll end up with huge amounts of tucking in to do and unraveled ends to hide.

It sounds almost foolproof, in fact!

(It would have made sense once I did it the first time, but I knew you bloggers would help set me straight now so that I didn't have to worry about it from now until I get to that point!)

Thanks, Anna!

January 10, 2005

Still Increasing

Clapotis is going well. I was hoping to get to Section 3 last night so I could drop my first row of stitches. (Yes, I'm eager to do tha. How often do we get to drop stitches intentionally!) But, I ended up crashing earlier than I'd expected and never did make it back out to my knitting chair to work on the remaning rows of Section 2.


You can't tell much from the photo (other than that the yarn is curling a good bit at the bottom), but the Mouton Bleu is working up nicely. Being 100% wool, it doesn't have the same kind of substance and won't have the same kind of drape as Lion and Lamb, or another silk/wool blend, would have, but it's nice, lightweight, soft, and will be warm without being heavy.

On non-knit notes... We finished watching Gilmore Girls Season 2 yesterday. I'm sad to be done with them. It's been great to have an episode to watch any time we wanted. We've decided we're going to have to own the seasons sets. They have that quality that you can watch again and again.

For you Palm puzzle gamers out there, give Cubis from Astraware a whirl. I just tried it out recently, and it's a great puzzle. I'm going to have to buy it. I was playing yesterday, and I hit a "you've played all the levels available in the unregistered version" note. It does say there are 50 levels in the registered version. Cool. Alchemy is another one to try. It is like a very old PC game we used to play called Ungaria. And, if you like word games, Text Twist and What Word are both ones I turn to time and again.

Unfortunately, I don't have OS 5, so I can't install Bejeweled 2. I need to swipe M's Palm one morning to give it a try and see if it necessitates an upgrade.


I received a RAOK yesterday from Morgan of FiberAddict.com. She sent me a gift certificate for Adagio tea. I've been poking around their site, and they have a great selection. This was my first RAOK since joining the group, and it made my day. Thanks, Morgan!

January 11, 2005

The Sounds of Clapotis

So I commented the other day on not liking the name Clapotis for the shawl. It turns out it was all because I was pronouncing it incorrectly. I should have realized it needed to be pronounced with a French ending, but I didn't. Instead, I was pronouncing it crassly as "cla-poe-tis" where the "poe" was getting the stress, and the "tis" rhymed with "sis."

Say it aloud a few times that way, and you'll probably agree that it's not a nice sounding word for what is turning out to be a very beautiful shawl. You might even, like me, hear the overtones of disease.

Thanks today go to Jenifer at Knitting at 5337 for clueing me in. Correctly assuming I was just saying it wrongly, she dropped me a note explaining that it's pronounced:

    Cla-poe-TEE, like cup -o- TEA

Jenifer also added that it means something like "waves lapping," which goes along with the appearance of the ladder rungs left by the dropped stitches.

Jenifer wouldn't know it, but in addition to the much softer and more lush sounding name, knowing that it is linked to water and waves completely transforms the whole shawl in my head.

I love the name now. Wow, what a difference pronunciation makes!

January 12, 2005

A year of itty, bitty books

All of our boxes have finally arrived, so I got a chance to take pictures of one of my favorite gifts of the holidays... a set of 12 handmade "mini" blank books (a la BrambleBug). See how wondeful they are:

handmade book handmade book handmade book
handmade book handmade book handmade book
handmade book handmade book handmade book
handmade book handmade book handmade book

If you're like me and love books of all shapes and sizes, you can imagine what a great gift this was to open. That M. covered and decorated them all makes them even more special. I love just looking at the stack of them even!

January 13, 2005

Falling Leaves Shawl

In an ideal blogging world, I would have been able to take photos of all the knit things that came my way in the week leading up to and including Christmas Day. But, it didn't happen. I wanted it to happen. It didn't. So, now, I'm feeling like I'm dribbling this and that into my blog, and it just doesn't have the spark and zest it should have had. I guess that's what happens when you are still talking about holiday gifts on January 13. How did it get to be Jan 13 already? Wow. We've been back 10 days. And in 10 more, I'm headed back to KY again for mom's follow-up surgery.

Clapotis is still ticking along. I'm in the middle of section 3. It just feels like slow going. I don't know why, but it does. Mentally, I work really hard and fast to get to rows 6 and 8 of the 12 row repeat. Because you "do" something different on those rows, they stand out for me, and they're immediate goals every time I sit down and pick it up.

While I'm liking it (it's still hard to fully grasp what it's looking like, especially since I've switched it to a fairly short circular, which helps when I've got Spencer in my arms), I have had more than one moment where I questioned why I was doing this as an auction item. It's taking so long (my mind whines). I could have made something else (my mind whines). But I'm using up stash (my mind counters).

Still, having knit and knit and knit on Clapotis, yesterday, I decided to switch gears and cast on another novelty/felted bag. This time, I'm working with reds (almost all from stash), and I'm making the larger "everyday" size instead of the small one. Hopefully, I'll get around to felting the green one (and maybe even the red one - it's knitting up WAY faster than Clapotis!) this weekend.

While working on these auction items, Falling Leaves has been on my mind, and I'm sort of itching to pick it up again.

My mom gave me the Lavish Lace pattern book and Cherry Tree Hill yarns to make both Falling Leaves and Sangria shawls. Both of these shawls are triangular, which I love. I find the regular and rhythmic increases that constitute a triangular shawl really compelling.

She didn't have the book yet when she ordered the yarns, but Knit Picks had been showcasing kits from the book and were showing both Falling Leaves and Sangria. Mom surfed around and found the yarns somewhere else online (KnitPicks wasn't offering colorway selection), and I ended up with a wonderful box of "to-do" goodness.

Sangria uses Baby Loop Mohair, and Mom selected a really wonderful pink/purple colorway (it's not in here, or I'd check the name). I love the yarn. Falling Leaves uses Ariel, which is a cotton/rayon blend. Mom bought a colorway called Fall Foliage.

I'm not as big on cotton, but of the two shawls, I love Falling Leaves best in terms of patterning, so that's the one I started. And started. And started. And started again. I don't even know at this point how many times I started it. I had serious problems getting it started and then getting past row 25, which is the last row shown of the pattern in the chart. I kept losing stitches or adding stitches, and the whole time, I kept railing against the pattern. I just couldn't "see" how the pieces fit together.

There's no simple square chunk of stitches you repeat. Instead, it's almost like interlocking diamonds, so you're at a different point in one diamond than you are at the one next to it.

My mind railed.

I kept going back to this paragraph in the book:

    "After you see how the first two rows are knit, the pattern stitch becomes easy. There is no complex math and there are no decreases in pattern along a center rib. This type of triangular shawl design progresses in a rhythmic fashion that is easy to knit and easy to grasp conceptually. It is really a self-explanatory shawl."

Yeah, right. Mom and Megan both got quite a kick out of that paragraph when in exasperation I'd pulled the stitches off the needles yet again and then read that section aloud. I think as it kept happening time and time again, and my confusion and frustration mounted, they both got a little worried about me. Neither of them knit lace, so they both were of the opinion that I should just try something else.

But I knit on.

Then, one night, I sat knitting with mom, and all of a sudden it clicked. I don't know what changed, but suddenly I knew how to tackle row 27 and row 29 and the way I needed to approach tracking the pattern fell into place with what had to be an audible snap in my mind.

I was so excited. I was jazzed. I wanted to knit and knit and knit on it.

Then New Year's caught up with us, and I strung it onto a piece of thread so I could bring it home. Once a few more auction items are completed (most of the other things I've planned to make are painted, not knitted), I can pull it back out and get to work.

Photo taken after I took it off the needles to pack it away to come home. This photo doesn't give you a sense of the pattern. It's just a testament to the fact that it's underway.

I love the challenge of each new row. I love the variation in what you have to "do" each row. I love the way it's turning out even if it's not a fiber or a colorway I would have necessarily picked in person.

It's going to be so pretty.

I think 2005 may be the "year of the shawl" for me.

January 16, 2005

Love your brand

Okay. I'm not a huge procrastinator, but I'm procrastinating a bit now. I've got a sudden and big assignment that got about a week turnaround time - a fire-drill, in other words. So, now that I've finally got half my family hustled out of the house and to the grocery and the baby asleep in my lap (how many times can I mention that this child just does not sleep), I'm here in front of my screen trying to take advantage of the maybe 45 minutes of peace and quiet I have to make sense of my myriad notes and craft a winning story out of the bits and pieces I've been given.

Nagging at the periphery of my concentration, however, are all the browser windows I have open with things I wanted to mention. So, to help my concentration, here's a quick list, which will allow me to close the windows and clear up some mental space...

  • I liked Stella's approach to New Year's Resolutions and the way she showed last years and noted whether she "did" them or not. In some cases, she did something similar but different. It's a good list. Interesting. Honest.

  • I really love the photo of the Kureyon scarf Jodi is knitting using a herringbone pattern from here. I'm not sure if it's one colorway or odds and ends. It's really pretty and has a ton of color. I've got some Kureyon in my stash, but I've always felt it's too woolly (read itchy) for me to really "wear" (despite that I love the usage of it in the Rosedale sweater). So, I haven't used it - and I figure it's destined for something felted sometime. But her scarf caught my eye for sure.
  • Wow, Elann's Peruvian Collection Highland Wool comes in a ton of wondeful colors - and catch the price. I've seen many references to making the Ribby Cardi. It's on my radar. I look at those colors and think about my poor Jo Sharp Anjuli. I'd love to "re-make" it out of new/different colors. But then, I'd like to finish the one I started, too. If we could only figure out where we PUT part of it, we'd be all set. Megan and I realized last year sometime that we had each put away part of our in-progress Anjuli's and now can't find them. We searched and searched, but they still have not turned up. Very frustrating. Seeing the Elann colors made me think about it.
  • Spencer wore a blue seed stitch cardigan (Debbie Bliss pattern) I made when Matthew was a baby out of a wonderful blue 1824 Cotton (Mission Falls). It looked so adorable on him. Got to get a picture.

  • SequinK finished her Clapotis. It turned out great. Her photo gives you a sense of how big it is, too.

There. Just a few things. But now those windows are out of my way.

Back to my regularly scheduled project.

(P.S. I felted the green bag just a bit ago. It's drying. I'll report on it tomorrow.)

January 18, 2005

The Felted Bags

As I mentioned on Sunday, I felted the green novelty bag over the weekend. Then, Monday, I finished up and felted the red novelty bag. The pre-felting moment is always exciting. Post-felting is sometimes a letdown. In this case, the bags turned out really cool. But neither felted as much as I expected.

The purple bag I saw in the store which made me want to buy the pattern and make these bags for the school auction was a small bag . My finished green bag is small but it's wider than I expected. When I was making it, I was worried about how small the dimensions say it ends up being post-felting, so for the red one, I made the next larger size. It is a good size, but it's much larger than I expected.

It seems to me that my felted items always end up shorter and wider than I expect. The knitted piece seems to be knit to allow more shrinkage in width and less in height, and I always get the opposite.

(Not that I've made a ton of felted items. I haven't. But the few I've done have shown an identifiable trend.)

While sizing puzzles and often frustrates me, handles may be the bane of the felting process for me. They invariably don't felt enough, or felt unevenly so that parts are skinny and parts or not, and they tend to end up longer than I expect. Pre-felting, I always worry that they'll be too short, and they seem to somehow grow in the felting process.

In this case, the green ones are very long; the red ones did okay.

I think part of the issue with the sizing discrepancies for these particular bags is the presence of the novelty yarns. After all, those yarns aren't going to felt, so the size of the bag can only change so much. At least that's my theory.

The red bag did do one really odd and unexpected thing... I used chenille with the wool throughout the bag. So, I'd do one chunk of a more overt novelty yarn and the wool and then add a section of chenille and wool. In felting, the chenille got loopy. There are places where there are rubber band sized loops of chenille hanging off the bag now. I'm going to go through and trim them. It's just odd that it happened.

(Then again, my Touch Me scarf has so many loops now that it looks too bad to even wear.)

I still have buttons to sew on these and i-cords to make and attach, but here they are.

(Bag before felting.)


(Bag after felting.)

Pretty cute, don't you think?

January 19, 2005

Flashback to Charlotte

Last fall, I was finishing my first Charlotte's Web when my mother ended up in the hospital for emergency surgery. Blocking the shawl, my first lace project, was a really philosophical process for me. I felt kinetically tied to my mother as I worked on pinning the shawl and adding the fringe. The tranquil turquoise tones of the shawl were soothing, peaceful, and gave me hope that she would be okay. Working on the shawl that day had all the qualities of a silent prayer. Even as I struggled to make the Koigu relax enough to stretch to the specified size (it never did), I felt in tune with the universe. The big picture was spinning all around me, out of my control, and yet I was able to find a center of calm, a center of faith, in working on something "for" Mom instead of simply waiting by the phone.

In December, I presented Mom with the shawl (which she loved), and in January, I showed you pictures of her modeling it. It's perfect on her.

Today is the day of her follow-up operation. This time, it wasn't an emergency. It's a major surgery, but we all knew about it ahead of time. It was planned. It was already on my calendar. She was able to pack her bags (and her knitting) to take to the hospital today.

I got the call a few hours ago that the surgery went well and as expected, which was good news. I'm waiting now to hear that she's in a room, came through recovery well, and that things will go smoothly until the baby and I arrive on Sunday to be with her (again) as she transitions to home and another long recovery period.

Unfortunately, I don't have a Charlotte in progress today to work on to again give me a center of calm. Still, I know she'll be fine, and in a few days (mere moments in the scheme of our lives), we'll be home knitting together.

It probably wasn't accidental that I was thinking just yesterday about starting a new Charlotte. I'm trying to figure out what projects to take home with me, and I thought I might take along Koigu to start me own Charlotte. I'd like to make mine with a goal of wearing it to the preschool auction on March 5. That's a reasonable project, and it would be fun to start. But I haven't totally decided yet. This morning, I was leaning against taking Charlotte. Instead, I was thinking of taking a few projects that are in-progress already like a green fizz and ladder-yarn scarf, Megan's bee striped socks, and maybe the Falling Leaves shawl. But, I'm not sure. Charlotte would be more fitting somehow.

January 20, 2005

Hard to Resist

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January 21, 2005

Surprise RAOK

Wow, I've been RAOK'd by Jenanne! I got a totally unexpected package in the mail containing two wonderful little books, a great pink beaded pen, sweet-tart candies, and an orange and vanilla candle that may be the best-smelling candle ever.


In her card, Jenanne writes: "I found these cute little journals, and the accompanying bead pen, and thought of you immediately! They're what I always consider 'disposable journals' the sort I carry in my knitting bag to make notes, etc. Hope you enjoy!"

I will, indeed, Jenanne. I love the journals - and I'm very much a collector of them! - and I love the pen and candle, too. I can't believe you thought of me!

This was a wonderful and touching surprise in an otherwise very hectic week. You made my day!

January 26, 2005

At 30K Feet

I'm here in KY again, and Mom is home (and doing well). Packing to come, I debated forever about what to bring to work on. As I packed this time, it struck me how much of a homebody I am - and how hard that makes it to go places. I pack and pack and pack and always overpack. I look around and think, well, maybe I'll want that. I'm only here for two weeks, and yet I was tormented by deciding what to bring, and deciding what to bring to knit was the worst.

In the end, I brought:

  • Easter-egg colored Eros. Reason: It's easy knitting for hospital sitting. And, we decided an Eros scarf would be a good auction item - unless we love it and decide to keep it.
  • Megan's bee-striped socks. Reason: I debated about bringing these because I had her try on the progress on the first sock before I left, and she thought it might be a little loose. Given that it's a toe-up sock, I worry about working on it remotely. But, I brought it anyway.
  • Koigu to start my own Charlotte's Web Shawl. Reason: when it comes to Charlotte, I'm not sure you need one! But, I've got it in my head now to make one for the auction. It's the perfect opportunity to wear one since I should be child-free for the evening (a very rare thing).
  • Falling Leaves Shawl in Cherry Tree Hill Baby Loop Mohair. Reason: I started this at Christmas, and I felt bad not working on it before starting Charlotte. So, I brought it, too.
  • Clapotis. Reason: It's finished, but I thought I could block it here. Plus, I knew Mom would want to see it in person to see how the dropped-stitches look.

That's not very much. For me, in fact, that's a pretty narrow knit list when it comes to vacation packing. So, I did good, and my choices have so far proven right on track.

While in the hospital all day Monday, I worked on the Eros scarf during Spencer's brief naps. Everyone who saw it used the word "Easter" in their comments. Something about the colors really do bring Easter eggs to mind.

At the house, I've been kntting on the Falling Leaves shawl. My theory was that I could spend the first week on it, and then start Charlotte on week 2. I'm really enjoying the Falling Leaves again though. I'd moved it to a strand of yarn in January before flying home to SF, so when I got here I had to re-needle it. It took me a bit of time to get my bearings on the needles, but once I got things going again, it's going well.

Maybe I'll get a chance to do some pics in the next day or so...

Some things that caught my attention on the plane while thumbing a recent Child magazine:

  • February 14-20 is Random Acts of Kindness Week Supposedly there are 100 easy ideas for "cultivating compassion in your community" at www.actsofkindness.org
  • Children ages 4-8 need 800mg of Calcium a day. 1/2 cup low-fat milk has 150 mg. (We have a dairy-heavy house, and the numbers still surprised me.)
  • In the new whole grains push (have you noticed all the cereal ads), it's interesting to note that kids need at least three servings a day.
  • Unstructured preschools (versus more structured academic ones) have been proven to give kids a creative edge and being "bored" is actually a pretty good thing when it comes to fostering imaginative skills. (All of this I knew, but it's nice to see it reinforced yet again in print.)
  • "Inventor Thomas Edison... zones out regularly as a child. And as a boy, the architect Frank Lloyd Wright would get so caught up in his daydreams that grown-ups had to physically shake him out of them."
  • Recipe for a "vanilla steamer": Add 2 tbsp vanilla syrup (like DaVinci's) to 12 oz. milk. Whisk to make frothy. Pour into two mugs and microwave 1-2 minutes. Sounds good, huh?
  • Great-sounding easy recipe for Golden Corn Chowder. I'm going to have to try it.
  • Wacky Wigglers, a building toy Grandma bought for the boys at Christmas, is listed in the article "Tech Toys that Promote Creativity." We had a great time with them.
  • None of the "10 Best Children's Hospitals" in the country are near us.
  • A "painting" party sounds like a lot of fun for an older kid's birthday party. Really unusual - but they've listed a number of fun activities and ideas to tie the theme together. (Us: We're slated for the "knights" party next month.)
  • Books mentioned: Remote Control Childhood, Play Dates, Spinning Straw into Gold

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