Friday, March 30, 2007
WINNER! WINNER! WINNER!
1. The winner of the charcoal grey Elann Esprit is RC!
2. The winner of the navy blue Elann Esprit is Nicole aka The Bookwyrm!
3. The winner of the Elann Sock It To Me Puzzle yarn is Nephele!
Thursday, March 29, 2007
When I left New Jersey last Thursday we had snow all over the place, some in large drifts. When I walked back through my gate on Sunday, these crocuses met my delighted gaze. Wahoo! Spring has finally made it to northern NJ! Now I'm waltzing around my yard, looking for other signs of blossoming.
For those in other climes, what are the first flowers you see blooming in the spring? Have they shown their happy little faces yet?
This project also gave me an excuse to learn spool knitting. (Also called French knitting or corking). The original pattern called for pink ribbon for the ties, but I didn't have any pink ribbon and it's a 45-minute drive to any store that sells such a thing. Plus, I can't tie decent ribbon bows, and ribbon doesn't hold up well to washing, so I decided to knit I-cord on a knitting spool. It's very soft, and stays tied on a squirmy baby.
I didn't have any wooden spools, so my husband made this one for me out of a section of hickory ax handle with a hole drilled through it. Hickory is very hard wood and hammering those four little nails into it was a chore. I thought the process of making the chord was interesting, but wasn't certain what I'd ever use it for beyond ties or perhaps trim on a sweater. Anyone else do French knitting on a spool? What do you use it for?
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Favorite Knitting Books
Knitting books are very personal things. One knitter's can't-live-without favorite might elicit nothing but yawns from another.
I recently purchased two highly anticipated sock books. I'd like to tell you I love them. I'd like to tell you they'll be with me until I lay down my circs for the last time. If I did, I'd be lying to you. (I'd also like to tell you the titles but the author in me finds it tough to say negative things about a book in a public forum.)
What are your can't-live-without-'em knitting books? Which ones will you take with you to the grave? Are you an EZ disciple or do you worship at the shrine of Charlene Schurch or Lucy Neatby?
In random order I give you the following:
- Elizabeth Zimmerman's An Opinionated Knitter
- EZ's Knitting Workshop
- All 3 Sally Melville books
- Lucy Neatby's Cool Socks, Warm Feet (Or is it Warm Feet, Cool Socks?)
- Socks! Socks! Socks!
- Twisted Sisters sock book
- THE Wendy's book
- Nora Gaughan's newest (title not in front of me, but it references nature)
- Compassionate Knitting - Tara Jon Manning
- Men In Knits - Tara Jon Manning
I am the first to admit that I am a drama queen. Goldisox says I see the world not only in technicolor, but with stereophonic sound and a laugh track. I mean, I hate going into the bank because the second I walk through the door I imagine armed robbers bursting in behind me, guns drawn, faces masked, screaming for us to hit the ground or somebody's gonna get hurt. I hear the gunfire. I hear the screams. I see myself scrunching along the tile floor in search of the alarm button that will summon or teeny tiny police force . . . all this in the time it takes to deposit a check.
Let's just say I'm not exactly the kind of knitter/woman you'd figure would be drawn to a Zen Buddhist approach to knitting. But I am. Tara Jon Manning's book resonates with me in a way I can't properly articulate. Knitting is more than just knitting. It's a connection to a deeper something that sooner or later I'm determined to understand. My inner child? Your inner child? All those generations of knitters who came before us? I wish I knew.
STASHBUSTER GIVEAWAY: Elann Esprit in charcoal grey
STASHBUSTER GIVEAWAY: Navy blue Elann Esprit
STASHBUSTER GIVEAWAY: Elann Sock It To Me Puzzle
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Anyway, without further ado (what on earth is "ado" anyway?):
1. GEORG is the winner of the blue Elann Sock It To Me sock yarn.
2. . . . and GEORG is also the winner of the cream Elann Sock It To Me sock yarn!!
As always, the winners were drawn using the Random Number Generator at Randomizer.org - the winning numbers were #7 and #5.
Georg, you know the drill. Please email me your snail mail info and I'll zip these out. (Well, as quickly as I zip anything anywhere these days.)
More to come in the next day or two.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
So I’m going to talk about a book I’m thoroughly enjoying, Bill Bryson’s memoir The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid. Bryson always makes me laugh. In fact, I tried to listen to his book about traveling in Australia while I jogged on my treadmill. I finally had to stop because I’d laugh so hard that I’d fall off the machine.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid is equally entertaining but it’s also a brilliantly vivid description of the 50s, the period in which Bryson grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. Now I grew up in the 60s but my hometown in West Virginia was about a decade behind everyone else so much of what he writes about resonates with me. We had a bomb shelter, we had black-and-white television (although the shows were slightly different and we got fewer channels), we had the same candy and comic books and toys. Bryson’s writing is so evocative that it carries me back to a time and place I don’t think about all the much anymore. What a joy it is!
Bryson writes well about a child’s point of view. He doesn’t pretend he is a child but he remembers clearly what it was like and conveys the pleasures and fears of youth with great accuracy and humor, always humor.
The dark side of the 50s is not ignored. Bryson reminds us of the Communist witch hunts, the hydrogen bomb testing (which people took picnics out to watch!), the polio epidemic and other things which as a child I wasn’t entirely aware of (although I don’t think polio was such an issue in the 60s, even in my neck of the woods). I was fascinated to discover why my favorite comic books changed so dramatically; someone decreed that the muscular Supermen and gorgeous Millie the Models were bad for the moral fiber of the youth of the nation and so they turned them all into cartoonish Archies and Caspers, neither of which I liked nearly as much. Who knew?
If you’re looking for a chuckle, a wash of nostalgia, and some gorgeous and sharp descriptive writing, you might want to give The Thunderbolt Kid a look.
Do you have any favorite books that remind you of an especially interesting time in your lives?
Blue Screen of Death and Help Me, Aruni!
What happened, you ask. I'll tell you.
My laptop died!!!!!!!!!
Here are words a writer in the end run on a book never wants to see on her computer screen:
Hard Drive Failure Iminent! Save your work now!
You also don't want to see Kernel Data Inpage Error followed by the sound of a garbage truck trapped inside your laptop.
Yes, I lost everything. Yes, I had backup . . . for most stuff. My snailmail address book is gone. My Stamps.com print history. Some emails from the last two days or so. Yes, I ordered a new laptop. Yes, I feel like I've lost my last best hold on sanity.
2. Just before it happened, Aruni contacted me with her information. Unfortunately the Blue Screen of Death devoured it. So, Aruni, if you see this please please resend your note.
Is Mercury still retrograde? It's gotta be. Stuff like this shouldn't be happening . . .
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Pretty Purple Socks
Blueberry Hill (AKA Low-Fat & Luscious)
Blueberry Cream Pie
1 Graham Cracker Pie Crust (store-bought works but check fat content)
Mix together in a bowl:
1 14 ounce can Eagle Brand fat-free, sweeted condensed milk
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 Cup evaporated skim milk (in place of heavy cream)
In another bowl, fold together lightly:
2 Cups fresh blueberries (well-dried after rinsing)
(frozen unsugared blueberries work, too)
1 Cup fat-free Cool Whip (or whipped topping of your choice)
Fold 2nd bowl into 1st bowl and put it all in the graham cracker pie crust. Chill in the refrigerator at least 6-8 hours before serving. After slicing, spoon any leftover berries on each piece.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
STASHBUSTER GIVEAWAY: Because it's Tuesday, that's why
STASHBUSTER GIVEAWAY: because it's still Tuesday
Monday, March 19, 2007
Gotta say though, I’m so ready to knit something fun.
What's My Line?
You know who we are. We're writers.
Well, at least we're writers at the moment. We weren't always writers and five years from now some of us (me) just might be standing behind a counter somewhere asking, "Would you like fries with that?"
(Yes, I'm in the end run with the book.) (Yes, I'm struggling.) (And yes, I'm considering throwing myself under an 18-wheeler.)
Maybe you were a pirate before you settled down and became a neurosurgeon. Maybe you are a minister, a goalie, a seat-filler for awards shows.
Before I sold my first book I made it my business to be shamelessly underemployed. Kind of like saving myself for the right career . . .
I did, however, earn money doing the following:
- I worked the stationery counter at Macy's Queens
- I answered phones for Skinner Macaroni in Omaha
- I was a clerk in a psychiatric hospital in Omaha
- I spent one infamous morning frying Filet O'Fish sandwiches at McDonald's in Lakewood, NJ in spring 1970 until Goldisox rescued me
- I segued from frying fish sandwiches to dusting buttons at W. T. Grant's, also in Lakewood
- I worked freelance as a stenotype note reader then taught the skill in Queens during the winter of 1970-1971 while Goldisox was overseas. The woman I worked for was known as The Whore of Wall Street.
- I typed envelopes for a tyrant on Long Island
- I learned data entry then computer programming in the mid-1970s at a small company on LI
- I handled promotion (part time) for a brilliant fiber artist (also on Long Island) while I prayed one day I'd have someone to handle promotion for me (actually I sold my first book right after I quit working for her)
- I worked one day for Dime Savings Bank. I would rather fry fish sandwiches.
How about you? What have you done to earn a buck?
A-Frogging we will go
Friday, March 16, 2007
Erin Go Bragh!
Wherein She Starts Stalking Alpaca
But every time I see one of those adorable alpaca faces I can't help wondering what it would be like to start all over again doing something completely unexpected before it really is The End.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Warning: This post has nothing to do with knitting
I saw this pair of red sandals in a catalogue that I just fell in love with and now I want to go shoe shopping. Not yarn shopping (because, to borrow Barbara’s complaint, I’ve lost my knitting mojo), not bathing suit shopping (I desperately need to do this but you know how much fun it is), shoe shopping! Yes, I know this plays into the worst stereotypes of women’s bad habits but I’ve decided that there are good reasons we like shoe shopping above all else:
1) You don’t have to take off your clothes to try on shoes.
2) Your shoe size doesn’t fluctuate with your weight (except after pregnancy when my feet went up a whole size!).
3) A great pair of shoes can jazz up the oldest, dullest outfit in your closet.
4) You don’t have to buy anything else to go with the shoes. Well, maybe a bag but it’s not a requirement.
5) Shoes don’t require hemming.
So what do you shop for when you’re feeling good? How about when you’re feeling bad? Is it different?
Sunday, March 11, 2007
When Knitter Met Sheep - A Central NJ Adventure
See the happy New Jersey sheep minding their own business on a cold Friday afternoon in winter.
See the happy New Jersey sheep as they suddenly spy the Nosy New Jersey Knitter aiming her digital camera through the fence.
See the Wise New Jersey Sheep who spied the Nosy New Jersey Knitter turn and head for higher ground.
"Run, sheep, run! The woman has Addis and she knows how to use them!"
See the Relieved New Jersey Sheep watch the Nosy New Jersey Knitter as she snaps her last photo and runs back to the relative warmth of her car.
Hear the Slightly Smug New Jersey Sheep as they have the last laugh.
The Nosy New Jersey Knitter is allergic to wool.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
GUEST PETS: Catmum's Grrl Cats
Friday, March 09, 2007
GUEST PET: Colleen and Seamus
Colleen Teerling says: "This is Seamus. I got him a few months ago when his previous owner couldn't keep him. Since I'm hardly indoors during the summer, I figured he should come outside and do things with me. He loves canoeing and kayaking. Being a cat who enjoys life on the edge, his favourite spots are on the deck of the kayak, as
close to the bow as I'll allow him, and on the very pointy little prow of the canoe. (That way he gets to be first off to go exploring the islands we stop at.)"
GUEST PET: Arctic
Thursday, March 08, 2007
ATTENTION ARUNI AND MIZMIKIE: YOU ARE WINNERS!
<==Sister Mary Dominic used to whack the desk with a metal ruler to get the girls' attention but I've found this to be much more effective.
ATTENTION: MIZMIKIE AND ARUNI
You are both sock yarn winners! Please email me your snail mail addresses and I'll pop your prizes into the mail.
GET FELTED - Tanya's Prefelted Mittens
"I finally finished my project for the felt along! Before Christmas I had the whole first mitten completed and started the second when I decided there was no way I would have enough yarn. I did the only rational thing I could do - buried it in a corner of the closet. :) About two weeks ago I decided to try to finish up some odds and ends. Feeling reckless I found the spot in my pattern and started back at the mittens. Sucess!
Here are the before and after felting pictures. The threads you can see in the second picture are all that is left of the yarn - both colors!"
GET FELTED - Tanya's Mittens Almost Done
GET FELTED - Tanya's FInished Mittens
(That's me waving from the Rock Center skating rink.)
Not me, I’m afraid. So this blog is about not knitting. Yes, I occasionally gaze longingly at the two project bags sitting beside my family room couch but I never get to touch them. One reason is that I find the scarf I’m knitting a bit dull; it’s only for those moments when I can’t concentrate on the work but want something to keep my hands busy. And right now I have too much to keep my hands busy! The MIL sweater is at a point where I need help but I don’t have time to go to the LYS for it. What’s a knitter to do?
What stops you from knitting?
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
I Think I'm In Love!
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
A Tale of a Happy Fool
Aren't those clouds beautiful? They're pretty enough to be a distracting hazard for people like me who tend to watch nature when I should be watching what I'm doing. That's what happened last week. There I was, ankle-deep in mud, digging a trench along the new greenhouse. The plan was to direct the snowmelt and storm drainage around and away from the structure instead of letting it continue its natural path right through it. (Somebody didn't plan well, but that's another story.) So I jam the shovel into the muck and start to lift. I notice movement at the edge of my vision and turn my head, just a bit, to gawk at a red-tailed hawk soaring low just north of me. Now, the smart thing would have been to stop digging. But no, not me. I continue both digging and gawking, two dangerously incompatible activities. One misjudged twist, and -- ouch! There goes my back. And just when my strained wrist had recovered almost enough for me to pick up the knitting again.
Shortly thereafter I foolishly tried to at least pull the shovel out of the muck, and my view switched to this:
It wasn't so bad though, not yet. I was lying in this:
The cold water negated any immediate need for an ice pack. I lay there for a while, muttering words unfit for tender ears and contemplating my own foolishness, the uncomfortable days ahead, and the long list of things that would not get done. Blue, my favorite old dog (pictured above), licked my face, in case I needed reviving. Then the other two dogs noticed, and a scuffle over licking privileges ensued. Once that was settled, and I'd worked myself up to moving, I attempted to rise. Ralphie (below on the left) moved in close to help. He's 80 pounds of strong muscle and trained to stand still and strong when I'm slip-sliding on the ice and need his steadiness to help me regain my footing. The tactic works equally well in the muck, it seems. And so, with his help, I managed to stand. And then, it happened. I lifted my fingers from his fur, noticed that the recent warm weather had triggered a bit of shedding. So I bent -- I actually bent over, groaning with pain, and finger combed through his fur for enough hair to hand twist into a thread.
Really, it's a sickness. It has to be. Who else would stand ankle deep in the muck, shivering with cold, soaking wet and injured, in order to finger spin dog hair into a thread to evaluate the season's potential for creating unusual yarn? I worked up a thread about a foot long, then added enough twist to ply it back on itself. I spared another moment to admire how the sun glistened on my little bit of yarn, then turned toward the house.
And I couldn't help myself. I hobbled along the path and planned a sweater. Two-ply, handspun, with a soft nubby texture, most likely knit in a pebble stitch. One ply of the yarn would be a naturally colored blend of sheep's wool, from Tinkerbelle the Babydoll Southdown ewe and Ralphie's soft white undercoat. The other ply would be Tinkerbelle's wool dyed in a colorway that captured the colors of the sky above and the muted greens and browns of the ground where I'd been. I'd call it my Happy Fool Sweater.
I'm taking more care with this little back injury than I did with the wrist. After all, I have things to do. Sheep to shear, a dog to comb out, yarn to spin, a sweater to knit -- and of course, a book to write. And there are many more magnificent clouds in the sky to contemplate . . . carefully.
1. The winners of the peachy-pink Sockotta are:
a. Mary Campbell
2. The winner of the manly Regia is Aruni.
3. And the winner of the shades of blue Sockotta is loribird.
Congratulations to all the winners. More drawings to come. Soon!
Friday, March 02, 2007
AND YET ANOTHER STASHBUSTER GIVEWAY: More Gorgeous Sockotta
ANOTHER STASHBUSTER GIVEAWAY: Regia Line Steps for the Manly Man
This is Goldisox-approved "guy" yarn. Even the most color-phobic male out there would approve of this sober yet sophisticated sock yarn.
Regia 4 ply Line Steps Color #5371 - Anthracite.
100 grams - almost 4 ounces
420 meters - around 430 yards
It knits up like a dream.
Stake your claim in Comments and I'll pick a winner on Tuesday March 6th!
STASHBUSTER GIVEAWAY: More Sockotta!
The thinning of the woolly herd continues.
I found another skein of the pretty blue/green Sockotta.
Available: 1 100-gram skein of Plymouth Sockotta from the Italian Collection. 45% cotton; 40% superwash; 15% nylon. 100% gorgeousness.The picture absolutely does it NO JUSTICE at all. It's a deeper blue with green tones in it, almost marled. Lovely lovely stuff. It's just I've been there, knitted that, and it's time to try new things. (When I buy yarn again, that is.)414 yards. Machine washable. Color #8.
You know the drill. Stake your claim in the Comments section and a "winner" will be announced March 6th.
Thursday, March 01, 2007
WINNER! WINNER! WINNER!
The lucky winner is "Traveler." Congratulations!! Now all you have to do is email me with your snail mail address and I'll pop it in the mail.
My Mother-in-Law is a Hooker
This is the "Oriental" that lies in front of our living room fireplace. She chose the colors to complement the larger Oriental rug in the room.
For my son, she catered to his passion for soccer. It matches the wallpaper border in his room.
My Darling Daughter loves fantasy so she got a copy of the Lady and the Unicorn tapestry in the Musee de Cluny. My marvelous MIL changed the color scheme so it would fit in with DD's bedroom decor.
These are just a few of the stunning rugs we have in our home. So I decided I should knit my MIL something as a reciprocal gesture. She chose:
Not just any sweater but a copy of one she loves which another daughter-in-law gave her several years ago. My skills don't rise to copying so I enlisted my lovely Yarn Lady who came up with a pattern. And she wants it in black. (What's with my family? Everyone wears black all the time!) There's not much of it to see yet so I won't post a photo but it is in progress. She'll probably get it for her birthday in September. ;-)
Just for fun, fill the in the following blank: My mother-in-law is_____________.
(Warning: your MIL might be reading this blog!)