31 December 2009

Happy New Year!

I seem to recall that the blogosphere tradition on the first day of the new year (or was it to be the last day of the old year?) was to make a post that consists of the first sentences of the first post for each month of the previous year.

This is basically what I've been doing.

We've had a fairly mild winter compare to other years.

I was sitting and knitting one afternoon at my LYS (String of Purls).

I don't know whether you have this saying on your side of the pond, but over here it's kind of popular: "Put on your Big Girl Panties [knickers] and deal with it."

Done at last!

OK, I've signed up for Secret Pal 14 and that means I've got to post at least once per week here.

Find the Knitting Survey here.

I've broken my self-imposed rule of No New Projects and started in on scarves for my oldest brother's two sons.

This is a mitten I've started knitting from the handspun that my lovely, no-longer-secret pal Mia sent to me in the second package.

The photo is looking west from my back yard last night (Hallowe'en).

This article (link) is from the Omaha World-Herald about a day-care worker who knit 85 pairs of mittens for little kids.

29 December 2009

Knitting Diplomacy

I always have some knitting with me. Usually it's the "no-brainer" knitting project, something I can work out without having to look at it much, something easy to remember (no looking at the pattern). Usually it's a scarf. I've been turning out those 1x1 rib scarves fast and furiously of late just because they are the perfect no-brainer of a scarf to work.

So, Monday morning I went to a hospital for an outpatient procedure. As usual, I had my knitting along (a 1x1 rib scarf that's for a guy in my office, knit from Paton's SWS). The gals at the check-in desk were fascinated. I explained to them that it was a combination of 70% wool and 30% soy, plus it was self-striping. They wanted to adopt me.

This is great. People are fascinated with the knitting. Even if they have knit a washcloth and nearly brag that they couldn't do anything so complicated as a 1x1 rib scarf, they are fascinated by the work and how it all comes out. They become your friends because, after all, you just might decide to knit a scarf for them, right? Well, perhaps not, but these people do become quite friendly and want to talk to you a lot about what you're doing.

Therefore, I think all world leaders need to learn to knit. Yes, they'd still argue over little things like whether to use circular or straight needles, whether the intarsia knitter is more accomplished than the Fair Isle knitter, whether to pick or the throw the stitches -- but at least they'd actually accomplish something constructive in the midst of their constant bickering over nuclear weapons, shady election practices, global warming, and religious zealotry. (And that's just the USA!)

The trouble is that if I (or anyone else) were to send knitting needles to the president or anyone in the cabinet, I (or we) would likely be prosecuted for sending potentially deadly weapons.

Now, I know knitting is powerful, but that would be 'way overreacting! :)

25 December 2009


I photographed this yesterday in the afternoon. I like the tree inside (left) mirrored by its cousin outside.

We slept until about 4:am when my DH awoke with a bit of stomach upset. I watched a bit of television, then went back to bed around 6:30 a.m. When I finally awoke about 5 hours later, we opened presents.

My DH got me

I'm going to go and play with my toys now! :)

Rather Snowed In

The view of our deck (just off the dining area). That peak of snow is about 5' tall.

The rest of the deck is buried about 3' deep in snow all over.

This is on the south side of the house. The front of the house, which faces north, has no snow drifts to speak of.

24 December 2009

Happy and Warm

Well, it's a cold and snowy day before Christmas. I've finally cleaned up the living room enough to get a photo of the Christmas tree. You need to click on the photo to see it larger. Most of the ornaments are hand made (the crocheted snowflakes were done by one of my maternal aunts) or else in a folk style.

My DH made bread pudding for breakfast. He topped it with chunks of pears sautéed in a cinnemon spiced maple sauce. There's enough for breakfast tomorrow morning as well.

I cleaned up the dining table so that we could have a nice little breakfast. Nice to have all of the Christmas cards and bills and notices cleaned up from the table so that it could be only for eating!

We opened one gift each this morning. I had him open the present containing the down-filled gloves and the Polartec® underwear. He'll need it in this weather. He gave me a pop-up book of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, thus combining two of my great pleasures in one -- a love of design and a love of pop-up books! :)

We are taking it easy today. The storm is moving in more slowly than expected, but it is moving in nonetheless. With the delay in arrival, it is certain we'll have snow the remainder of today and through tomorrow night, so there's no hope of going out. Still, we are happy and warm, and there's not much more you can ask for than that.

23 December 2009

"Cancel Christmas!"

Dear Mandella,

The weather forecasters have been predicting a very nasty winter storm for us since this past weekend. It's a slow-moving system that starts with rain and freezing rain (which we have today) that will turn to snow and dump anywhere from 7" to 15" on us over the next two days. All plans for Christmas Eve or Christmas day are changing as the dire predictions come true. Many churches canceled any services or events that were scheduled for tonight on account of the threat of ice (a very real possibility given that the temperature drops below freezing when the sun goes down); it's likely that service for the 24th and 25th will be canceled as well.

We are scheduled to work at least 4 hours tomorrow (President Obama gave all federal workers 4 hours off with pay on the 24th), but if the weather looks threatening I will take 4 hours of leave and not go in. I don't need to drive 15 miles to work, then have to turn around and come back when they decide it's bad enough that we should get to go home early.

So, this means more knitting time is available, at least in theory. I also need to get some laundry done and I'd like to tidy up the dining room so that my DH and I can have a nice place to eat a dinner (instead of in front of the television) or at least breakfast on Christmas day. Plus, my DH has asked me to help him with cooking tomorrow. That means I'll be on hand to find things for him (he puts them away after cleaning them, but he can never find them later), to do some clean up, to help with peeling vegetables or whatever. I really don't cook. I mean, I can follow a recipe, but I just don't have the instinct that so many do.

I've finished all of the Christmas knitting already, truth be told. I don't need to get anything else done for that. But I'm working on a couple of patterns that are being re-jigged for KnitPicks. One of the tops is about halfway done; the other is a major re-work because the gauge is different. Plus, the person who is getting it is going to require the garment with a 42" finished chest, which is bigger than the original test garment which had only a 36" chest. I'm trying to get these done before Jan 31st.

Somewhere in there I've promised myself that I will catalog all of my UFOs and list them on my Ravelry site so that I can keep track of what needs to be done. Have you noticed how often you can put aside a project with every intention of picking it up again in a few weeks, only to discover that it's been 3 years? No wonder we call our unfinished objects UFOs -- they go into some sort of eerie time warp once we have to stop working on them for a bit.

Oooh, did you see the great cartoon over at The Pantopticon? Knitters are pleading with the Pope for extra time to get things done before Christmas. Who knew such an appeal would bring us at least 2 extra days on account of a winter storm?

Hope you're safe and warm. I'll try to give you a call on Christmas day.

Love and hugs,


12 December 2009

More Gauge Lies

Click on the images to see them larger. This is why it's important to wash and dry your gauge swatch before determining gauge. The swatch was worked in pattern on US 4 needles; it was machine-washed (as per instructions) and laid flat to dry. Row gauge shrunk (from 9 rows per inch to about 8.5 rows per inch) and stitch gauge expanded from about 6.5 sts per inch to 6 sts per inch).

Winter Solstice Swap Package

Many thanks to jennspeng on Ravelry for this lovely Winter Solstice Swap package. (Click on it to see it larger.) It contained several items with the initial J on them (including a lovely little box and a set of notes), dog treats in a winter-themed tin along with a dog toy, a knitting journal with a cover by Franklin Habit of the Panopticon (see link at left to his blog), a book for knitting star ornaments, "Believe" in rhinestone stickers (I'm still deciding where I'll use this), a cool coffee mug (it says YO K1 on the handle and inside) and two skeins of corn yarn in a lovely violet color!

Thank you, thank you, Jenn! This was lovely!

11 December 2009

The Kosher Kowboys Ride Again

Happy Hannukkah, Buckeroos & Buckerettes!

10 December 2009

War on Knitting

If I read the little maps correctly, we had 12.4" of snow in my area after this recent storm blew through. For me it meant two days home from work, which I enjoyed. I rested my Knitter's/Tennis Elbow somewhat, but mainly I did the exercises the doctor gave me and I kept knitting. (The doctor knew that a prescription of "complete rest" just wouldn't work for me. This injury is common both to knitting and working at the computer.)

I've been reading about the development of the English language. Nothing seriously academic -- I have textbooks for that -- but a delightful little book called Righting the Mother Tongue by David Wolman. It is as much about intelligence as it is about ignorance, as much about politics as it is about grassroots organization.

But as I read it I think about all of the people who get all hung up about the King James Version of the Bible being the only "authoritative" translation. These people usually know so little about English to begin with, and even less about the pitfalls of translation, to say nothing of spelling. Apparently there was a sort of vanity about some of the early spelling practices, one being a desire to make words look slightly foreign so as to increase their perceived value. It would be as simple as adding a final "e" to "old" (thus making "olde"). It's the same sort of vanity about Bible translations, almost as if the KJV has greater perceived value because of the use of "thee" and "thou" and "hath" and "doth."

(To be sure, I have at times an affinity for that language. Psalm 90 in the KJV begins, "Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place from one generation to another. Before the mountains were brought forth or ever thou hadst formed the earth, even from everlasting to everlasting thou art God." The very sound of the words adds power to the verses.)

Oddly enough, there is a sort of perceived value among knitters for certain things, but it's a bit less easy to pinpoint. Sometimes it is perceived that Continental style knitting (in which the working yarn is held in the left hand and "picked" with the right needle) has greater value -- not because it's a more efficient method of making a stitch but because it's somehow a designation of a better or at least more accomplished knitter. And then there is the cache of lace knitting, which seems to have it's own hierarchy of value. Granted, it's no mean feat to stitch a piece of cobweb lace, but it seems rather silly that the person who can do this is somehow a better knitter than one who can work Fair Isle and other stranded knitting projects.

If you enjoy the work, then knit as it pleases you and with whichever techniques you like. This isn't an Elizabethan Age; it's not worth it to make every personal choice in knitting a political issue the way religion was in the time of Shakespeare.

As we enter the annual "War on Christmas" (no thanks to Bill O'Reilly) and the annual period of stress-knitting-for-Christmas, I think it would be best if we gave it all a rest and just enjoyed our many blessings.

08 December 2009

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Dear Mandella,

We're in the midst of a major winter storm. It looks like we have about 9 inches of snow on the ground at the moment, and more is pouring on.

I was home from work on Monday due to being ill (stomach virus), and then today I was sort of OK and sort of not, but I didn't go anywhere on account of the weather.

The good news is that I finished the last of my Christmas knitting (a scarf for a nephew). As I was going through and organizing my knitting nest I found four balls of a soy/wool blend that I'm knitting into a simple scarf just for the sake of having some no-brainer knitting at hand.

The bad news is that I seem to have developed "tennis elbow" or some such tendonitis from a combination of lots of knitting and lots of computer work (i.e., using the mouse). My doctor said to rest it for 2 - 3 weeks. Is he crazy or what? :)

Hope you're warm & happy.



06 December 2009

Grandma Knits Mittens

This article (link) is from the Omaha World-Herald about a day-care worker who knit 85 pairs of mittens for little kids. Inspiring! :)