24 November 2008

Chance and Me

I didn't do the best job on taking the red out of Chance's eyes, but at least he doesn't look like the devil dog in this one.

23 November 2008

The Daily Slog

Dear Mandella,

I think it has been about two weeks since I've been able to get to my home computer and take a look at the blog. Work has increased at both of my jobs. On top of that, Chance had a nasty case of doggie-bronchitis that left me exhausted from vet clinic visits and just cleaning up after the little vomit bombs he'd left all over.

But, that's over now. Chance is a happy and healthy dog (we're still finishing up the course of antibiotics, but he's over the contagious stage) and I'm trying to catch up on everything else.

I did finish something, but I'm trying to remember . . . Oh, yes, the Kimono Wrist Warmers. I'll post photos soon. I made it a free pattern that people will get with purchase of the yarn (Berocco Ultra Alpaca Fine) from String of Purls. It's machine washable, which I think is wonderful, and soft as can be.

I've got the top left shoulder together on the Dinan jacket/cardigan that I've been knitting for my friend Jane. The right shoulder is coming along. Just a few more rows on the top right and I can stitch that shoulder. Then it's just the sleeves and the ribbing around the neck and fronts.

I finished up a scarf I'd started some time ago. It is knit with three strands of acrylic yarn on US 13 needles. I used two strands of Caron soft in dark blue and one strand of a Red Heart (or something) in dark blue. The Caron soft has a deepness/richness to the color.

Here's a simple scarf pattern:

Cast on an even number of stitches.

Rows 1 and 2: *K1, P1* repeat to the end
Rows 3 and 4: Knit all sts.

Repeat the four-row pattern until the scarf is about 60" long. Add fringe if you like.

It lays flat, has a nice texture, and works every time no matter how many stitches you cast on. For the above-mentioned scarf, I cast on 22 stitches.

Anyway, I found that scarf at more-than-halfway done, so I finished it on Thursday evening while watching the 2nd half of a Law & Order rerun, a Daily Show/Colbert Report rerun, CSI (original), and Life on Mars (the USA adapted version). I put the fringe on it this morning. Someone will have a nice surprise at the office Christmas party (Dec. 2) when we do that gift-exchange game.

I have since started in on a scarf for the family gift exchange (Dec. 25) from Cascade 220 washable in a lovely colorway that utilizes dark blue, turquoise, and lime green.

Today I finished up the annual Christmas letter, something I usually have done by the end of September. I try to get all of my Christmas cards into the mail by December 1st, especially since I send so many outside of the USA. We'll see how I do this year.

I didn't go over to my mom's house today for sewing -- I was just too exhausted from everything else that has been going on -- but I'll be there all day this coming Thursday, which is our annual Thanksgiving holiday. We'll actually do the Thanksgiving meal on Sunday (a week from today) with all of the family at my mom's, so having a mid-week break for sewing will be a treat. I don't have to work my full-time job on Friday, but I'm scheduled to be at the stationery shop as usual from 2 to 6 in the afternoon. We've gotten very busy as the holiday season has come upon us.

And, as usual, I'm far behind on laundry.

Big hugs!


09 November 2008


Dear Mandella,

Here is the newest addition to our family. We found him on Saturday at the Nebraska Humane Society. He is a black Labrator Retriever, about 2 years old. His name is Grant -- at least that's what the NHS named him and we signed off on it, but we've lately taken to calling him Chance. That's Ed's decision, and this is Ed's dog. Since I like both Ed and the dog, and since I like the name Chance, I'm all for it.

So far I have taught Chance to sit. Yes, he is that smart. Good heavens, I can't even get my husband to sit on command! Unfortunately, I think we gave him too many treats today because he vomited on the carpeting. Well, I think that's better than urinating on the carpeting. And I must add that my husband has never once vomited on the carpeting, which puts him one up over the dog. (In fact, my husband cleaned up the carpeting after the dog vomited on it, which really earns him some Good Husband Points.)

Chance has been acting like he has been with us for ages. He knows where the door is to go out and do his thing (he sat there and barked). He has only chewed on the rope toy we've given him. When I went downstairs this morning to check email he went back to his designated blanket in the bedroom and went to sleep.

The NHS gave us 50% off on the first obediance/behavior class for Chance; it starts on November 23rd. I expect that the class is really to teach adults how to act consistently with a dog, something we've at least had practice with, but techniques have changed from 10 years ago when I was in an obedience class with Charka.

Also today, I finished up a quilt top, a small one I had started some years ago. My mom was looking at the fabric and saying how this one would make her want to quilt again, so we got it all stitched up. I made some miscalculations in the border sashings so I had to piece them, but it was worth it to create something my mom really wanted to work on.

I'm tired and heading for bed. This has been an extraordinarily good weekend. I hope the same for you and Dave.



08 November 2008


Dear Mandella,

Despite feeling still a bit under the weather and despite the weather here having turned quite cold and windy, I went to the wedding ceremony of M & J last night. I didn't wear the dress I'd made for the occasion; instead, I wore camel-colored woolen twill trousers, a cream-colored blouse, my black raw-silk jacket, and a stunning silk scarf (in gold, red, black, and tan) from my mother-in-law's collection. I looked very nice (at least for the one photo that was taken of me with the bridal couple), and I was still warm.

I don't know how to describe M as she processed up the aisle on the arm of her eldest brother-in-law (M's father died 5-6 years ago). The only word that comes to mind (hackneyed as it is) is radiant. It was as if joy had been transformed into light and warmth, something you could see and feel. We all were so happy for her and J that you could just feel it in the air.

And then, when the ceremony was over, it was as if all of that joy were multiplied even more, like a field of flowers that suddenly opened up because they couldn't contain themselves any longer.

The bride was, of course, lovely. She had a white/cream colored dress (not quite either color, really) with a V waist embellished with embroidery and rhinestones. The dress had a modest train. Her chestnut hair was twisted into a simple chignon and decorated with small white flowers. The bridesmaids wore a smoky, dark-blue halter dresses. The gentlemen were in dark tuxes with understated dark green brocade vests (waistcoats) and dark green ties. The bride's mother, whose coloring is very light, wore a light blue dress and the groom's mother wore a tan ensemble that complemented her coloring quite nicely.

The reception was at an historic home about 3 blocks from the church. It's called The Renaissance Mansion, which is a mis-nomer because, of course, it does not date to the Renaissance; however, I believe they use the name in its original French sense of having been re-born from a home into a lovely venue for receptions and meetings. I was in charge of moving the guest book and the two roses (the ones symbolizing the bride's father and the groom's father, both deceased) to the reception site. We took a moment to admire the cake and the surroundings, then went home because I was quite exhausted.

At home, my husband cooked up a lovely warm chai for me as I changed into a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and wool socks. I curled up with my chai and my knitting for the remainder of the evening. This morning I woke feeling refreshed and happy.

Big hugs and much joy to you!


06 November 2008

Sick Again

Dear Mandella,

I'm very sorry about the socks. Was it one skein of hand-dye? Well, at least you can think of them as Dobby socks (you know -- socks that purposefully don't match, a concept described by the house elef Dobby in the 4th Harry Potter book). And they'll still keep your feet warm, right?

Both my husband and I are at home and ailing. There is some sort of bug going around. In me it is manifested as a sinus infection (I get those more than anything). In him we're not sure because he refuses to see his doctor. *rolled eyes*

I have been working on finishing up the 2nd of the hand/wrist warmers I've been knitting up from the Berocco Alpaca/Wool/Nylon yarn (mentioned earlier). I've just held off the thumb stitches and will now finish up the tops of the mittens, but I can't remember how far I went and the first one is at my LYS for show-and-tell. I'll try to snag it back tomorrow. I knew I should have written out the full pattern before surrendering it!

Also on the knitting front, I've made headway on the back of a pullover knit from leftover Cascade 220. I'm getting all sorts of ideas as I knit it, ideas that should be written down as I go except that I've rarely got pen and paper at hand. Who can write when they're knitting, any way?

As for your knitting mojo fading, I'd say not to worry about it. You've been putting in so much time on your home and everything else that all of your creativity must be sapped. You're right: pattern books help. Maybe you'll want to sort your books and your stash and your needles in order to spur the creativity into action. Or maybe I'll let you select from the ton of projects I seem to have going on ALL of the time! (Perhaps I do this to ward off ennui?)

Time for a bit of a lie-down. I'm afraid I'm getting rather giddy thinking about all of that knitting!

Big hugs, and best wishes for your mojo to return!


04 November 2008

Dear Judith

I hope things are settling down a bit for you now after the awful events of the last couple of weeks.

I was watching Stephen Fry on TV tonight. He's doing a road trip through all the States of America. It's nice viewing and very quirky. Tonight I got to see Nebraska, probably for the first time ever. Well it makes a change to be watching him rather than Hugh Laurie, and of course the two are inextricably linked in my mind because of the TV series they did together, and Blackadder of course.

I have been wrestling with my knitting. Here's a pair of mismatched socks I finished. I can't kick up too much of a fuss because the yarn was a gift, but it just shows the variations you can get with a handpaint.

I'm bored with my knitting. I've got a couple of baby items to finish and they're cute, but I'm just plodding through them. I think I need something with a spark, like that book you just gifted!

01 November 2008

Daring and Square-ish

Dear Mandella,

I'm scheduled to go over to my mom's today (instead of on Sunday, which has been the usual day for sewing) because I'll be at a "personal shower" for my friend M on Sunday afternoon/evening. I found a copy of Naughty Needles for M, which I wrapped up with three little skeins of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk. I was going to get Knitting Lingerie Style, but the local bookstores didn't have it. I was only notified of the shower on Thursday evening, so there wasn't time to order it.

So, the coffee is brewing and I'm trying to wake up and type at the same time. I am grateful that we get an extra hour of sleep this weekend (Daylight Savings Time ends here tonight).

We had extraordinarily good weather for the Trick-or-Treaters last night. Most of the time Hallowe'en night is cold and wet; this year it was pleasant and dry. How I remember having the wear a pullover with my costume, and always debating whether to wear it underneath would the costume still fit?) or over the costume (would the costume allow that?). We didn't open our home to the Trick-or-Treaters, though. It's been too busy, and for the past several years there have been very few children coming by. In fact, most people bring their kids to planned venue for trick-or-treats -- the office, shopping malls -- or just stay in their own neighborhoods. In the little town where I grew up we went to every house we could get to! Good heavens, we'd have gone to farmhouses out in the country if we'd had a car and a license to drive!

I've been looking through books of knitting patterns and have happened upon several that make me think it would be fun to knit up a bunch of squares in different colors and textures (i.e., to use up the leftovers of my Cascade 220 stash) and then make them into a blanket. I've knit 1 so far, a bright yellow mostly-square that uses a triangle type of pattern in knits and purls. The 2nd one I've started is called "sand stitch" and it's even easier than the triangle pattern. In fact, I'm rather liking this because it's giving me exposure to some knew knitting textures but in small enough swatches that I don't have to commit to a whole pullover in case I find it too tiring to keep up with. I suppose it's sort of like *gasp!* swatching, except that I'm not working it out on the yarn I intend to use for the final project. And these are much larger swatches (about 7" square-ish).

Well, no time to be thinking about that now. The coffee is done and I've got to get to my mom's and start sewing up that dress if I want to have it to wear to a wedding on the 7th! (AUGH!)

Hugs and good knitting to you!