Thursday, August 31, 2006

More Fair pics

After lunch at the fair we did some rides and games. Yes, my husband let the kids find some non-huckster games to try. My DS#1 was too smart to attempt any games, having been coached by me for too many years but the girls have too much dreamer in them (or not enough cynicism) to not long to win the brightly colored stuffed animals and plastic swords. I have to admit, there is something disturbing about the animals they have at these booths. My DDs picked brightly colored animals with bodies that appear to be dachunds but had a unicorn horn. Are they weinercorns? Dachsacorns?

On our way out, I finagled a visit to the vendor halls for myself. I left my exhausted crew outside in the breezes and shade and wrangled the crowded halls by myself.

This vendor won my vote as Best in Show. It was a good thing my girls were sitting outside at a picnic bench with Daddy when I wandered past this booth or we would have been broke. The costumes were divine and the doll exhibit was to die for. I'll be checking out their website for some Christmas gifts this year.

Now, for some knitting news, the Flying Purple Widdershins are finished. I'm waiting for daylight to photograph them. I'm working on the heel flap of the first Dancing sock and have found another lace pattern I want to try sometime. I've also pulled out Felted Knits so I can plan some more Christmas gifts. As usual, the allure of the new is tempting me sorely right now, with the excuse that Christmas is coming giving me all kinds of justification for leaving my poor UFO's in the dust. Oh, and to compound the guilt, while cleaning out my craft closet, I found another knitting UFO buried underneath a pile of plastic bags. How could I lose this beautiful knitting project? I'll snap a picture when the sun comes up, just to show what a tragedy almost occurred.

You know, I feel like a soap opera. Will she stay faithful to her first love or will a new love tempt her to stray? Stay tuned for the stunning conclusion.

I'm beginning to figure out how the Yarn Harlot chose her moniker.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

What a Day!

Whew! We're home and we are all exhausted. Everyone (except the driver - PTL) fell asleep in the car on the way home from the fair. This is how our day played out.

This was our first stop of the day, since it is my favorite place at the fair. We had about 40 minutes to take a look at the exhibits. The little girls loved the miniature houses and I longed to hang out with the Weavers Guild of Minnesota but we had to hurry off to see these guys.
This was at the University of Minnesota Stage and these guys do performances and have a DVD of their fun and wacky demonstrations of the laws of physics. Above they are being really wicked and teaching kids the efficient way to t.p. a tree with a leaf blower. Below, they were setting up to show how air pressure can be manipulated to actually blow a penny into a candy dish.
KARE-11 News had a crew there and my kids will be watching avidly to see if they'll be on the news tonight because they saw the camera do a scan of the audience. Too cool!

After the Physics Force, we headed to the Pet Building for a live Pet Surgery. My 13 yo DH#1 is planning on becoming a vet and is already looking at colleges and preparing his high school course of study, so this was very high on the priority list. I decided not to photograph this part of our day, since one young lady fainted during the surgery and had to be carried out of the area. The operation did not phase my DS and, after the surgery, he had a chance to speak for quite awhile with the doctor who had been describing the procedure, who had some great suggestions for his high school plans (volunteer recommendations, course of study, etc.) and some pretty strong warnings about the commitment veterinary medical training requires. Definitely very productive and worthwhile trek.

Well, this was our morning at the fair. Fiber Arts only got about 40 minutes of the time but with a family of 6, this seems pretty reasonable. Someday, I'm going to get brave and venture off to the fair by myself and spend an entire day wandering through the Creative Arts building and really enjoy myself. Until then, the Physics Force was pretty cool.

We're going to the fair!

You can take the girl out of Iowa but you can't take Iowa out of the girl. Now, my DH will deny I'm from Iowa. Being a born Minnesotan, there is no way he'll ever admit that his wife has any connection to Iowa. He'll tell people I was born in California (true) but he'll omit the fact that I lived my entire life from the age of 2 until we moved to Minnesota in 1989 in Iowa.

Now, I was ignorant of the border war that was raging between Minnesota and Iowa when I met and married my husband. In fact, I think it was a war that exists only on the Minnesota side of the border. When my husband and I got engaged, we were both living in Iowa (a shameful fact my DH will not disclose to most people) and we were invited to an engagement brunch at a friends house in Minnesota while visiting my future in-laws. Little did I know that it really was a roast. When I arrived, the sweetest lady in the world greeted me. She was the mother of one of my DH's best friends and the best man at our wedding. This woman actually kissed my 8 month pregnancy-distended tummy 5 years later, that's how sweet and loving she is. We were ushered in and seated at a graciously appointed table and I was overwhelmed by the grandeur of it all. Then her husband and all the rest of the guests joined us, hubby's high school buddies and their respective girlfriends and/or wives. And the festivities began. It wasn't long before the Iowa jokes started flying and things degenerated into a Comedy Central Shatner-style Roast. And this poor lady who had gone to so much trouble to make this brunch special was sitting at the head of the table blushing and hemming and gently trying to rein in her more raucous guests and I'm sitting there, wide-eyed and flabbergasted, completely side-swiped by the revelation of the hostilities between states of which I was completely unaware.

Needless to say, my DH got a job in Minnesota as soon as he possibly could, and has buried the fact that he married an Iowa girl in oblivion and has tried to live his life as fully and happily between the obligatory visits to my family in Iowa.

All this to say, you can take the girl out of Iowa but you can't take Iowa out of the girl and part of that Iowa-ness is a passion for the going to the fair. I wasn't a farm girl but I was a member of 4H for a few years and I did compete in a couple fairs. But growing up in a small town with not much to do for entertainment, the county fair was big excitement. And I can't help but remember with fondness, looking forward to the fair. The excitement of meeting friends and wandering up and down the midway, riding rides, getting taken by the hucksters at the games, occasionally winning a cheap stuffed animal, eating all that artery-clogging fried food and sugary goodness. Wandering through the animal barns and wondering at the farm geeks that cared so much to try and win prizes for pigs, for Pete's sake, while sneaking over to the 4H building and sneaking a peek at my cross-stitch to see my 2nd place ribbon, disappointed that it wasn't blue. If you were lucky, you might meet a boy by the end of the night, go on a few rides with him and get a kiss good night before going home, tired, coated with grease, dust and sugar and blissfully unaware of the grime.

Now, Minnesota has, arguably, one of the nation's best state fairs. I don't get into the rides anymore and I'm too smart to get taken by the hucksters at the games but I'm excited to take my kids and introduce them to the fair. They have a Miracle of Birth Barn this year, where expectant animals are giving birth on a daily basis, so we'll get to seen new baby animals. I'm hoping to take the kids to an Pet Surgery demo at the Pet Center, since my oldest is planning to study Veterinary Medicine. Of course, the Creative Activities Annex, where the quilt and fiber arts exhibits are is at the top of the list will be visited, as well as the alpaca and llama and sheep barns. And my kids will want to do a few rides and play a few games (hopefully we can find a few true chance/non-huckster type).

I'm bringing my camera and will post a few pictures. Since I'm almost done with my second Flying Purple Widdershin, should I take pictures with it, as an homage to our favorite blogger, the Yarn Harlot?

Sunday, August 27, 2006

UFO Purses

I have a dilemma. Actually, several dilemmas. I have a couple of purses that I've knit in the past that need something to make them wonderful. But I'm a little out of my depth. Don't get me wrong, I'm a great knitter. I can figure out just about any knitting pattern, as long as it's not filled with errors. And, having been a costume designer in my past and a quilter now, I'm a pretty good seamstress, too. However, I haven't made many purses. How do I take a stretchy, uneven surface and stabilize it, without making it all bumpy and bizarre. I need to make linings and I need to make them fabulous.

The top bag is the result of my experimenting with a tile pattern and leftover Mission Falls 1824 Cotton. I believe the original inspiration came from (don't hold me to it, because I only borrowed the book from the library) Nancie M. Wiseman's book Knitted Shawls, Stoles and Scarves. I would love to add bamboo-style handles but I'm at a loss how to stabilize the bag without losing the touchability. I've tried plastic canvas but the fabric just sagged away from the plastic. I don't want an iron on stabilizer as that will just cause puckering and I don't want to "quilt" the bag. Any suggestions?

The bottom bag is one I knitted on my knitting machine. It is felted and has a built in pocket in the side panel for a cell phone. The front flap will be gathered and tucked into a Celtic knot medallion made from felted I-cord sewn to the front. The flap will be edged with more cording. I have two green metallic belts that will be used to make a shoulder strap and I would love to line the bag with a luscious dupioni silk with either a drawstring or zipper for security. I'd love to have multiple sections inside for different items, including my calendar, since this will be my main handbag during the school year. Even having a little sock knitting section with an opening to let my knitting come through would be a plus. Obviously, this bag will take some major tailoring and I'm paralyzed, just pondering the possibilities. This bag will need some major structural support and I'm, again, unsure what to use. Too much bulk and you lose valuable space. Something too stiff and you lose the connection between the fabric and the lining. I purchased one book on making bags but it lacked any practical lining suggestions. So, if anyone out there in cyberspace is listening, send some suggestions my way. I'm trying to clean my UFO closet out so I can justify digging into some of my wonderful new stash acquisitions without feeling guilty about being such a weak woman.

In related news, my Flying Purple Widdershin is progressing apace. I have turned the heel and am working on the heel flap. My goal is to finish it this week, between cleaning and other school prep activities. Since we have church today, and then my DD#1 has a sleepover tonight, I'm not sure how much knitting time I'll get today but tomorrow is our last Fiber Arts club for the summer, so I'm hoping to actually get to sit and knit there tomorrow. A homeschooling friend is also hosting a "oh no, school is starting next week" craft night this week as well, so I'll have one evening of fiber, friends and fellowship to work on UFO's before our school year kicks in.

Well, there is nothing too witty or pithy about today's post. Just perplexity and a plea for help. And a bit of alliteration. I don't know why alliteration appeals to me but it pops out without my even thinking about it much. Weird, huh.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Flower Basket Shawl Finished

Well, after a marathon couple of days of knitting, my shawl is finished. I ended up doing 9 repeats of the main chart and the blocked top edge measures 64 inches. I'm sure it will relax and shorten a little once it is dry and taken off my design wall. Please excuse the poor pictures, there is little natural light in my north facing studio, as there is a deck and 4-season porch above my windows. My knitting companion was very interested in what I was doing with her lastest napping toy, so I snapped a photo of her modeling with the shawl.

In the meantime, I've returned to my Flying Purple Widdershin and am dreaming of the Fall 2006 IK Swallowtail Shawl pattern as my next challenge. But I have some Christmas gift socks to knock off before starting anything new. Then again, in a moment of weakness . . .

The first step to a cure . . .

Hi, my name is Lorraine and I'm a fiberaholic. It all started when I was an innocent kid. I was born into a family of a fiber artist. My mom was a seamstress and master crafter in her own right. I wore hand-sewn clothing, crocheted vests, hand-knit sweaters and slept under a quilt she made. I learned to sew on her machine and was taught to knit and crochet by her. Always being somewhat strapped for cash, she also taught me the value of a dollar and the wisdom of shopping the sale. But, for me, alas, I fear it's become a sickness.

Rewind to yesterday. Picture me in my car outside a LYS. I flip down my visor, look myself squarely in the eye in my vanity mirror and say, "You are going in to get needles. You don't need any yarn. You have enough yarn to last for the next 3 years. Don't look away! Look at my eyes. All that's in those 50% off sale bins is novelty yarn and YOU DON'T NEED IT! Keep your eyes on the prize. Needles!" Mirror flips up and out of the way, I take a deep breath, step out of my car and calmly walk to the front door of the store. The salesperson offers her help (they have great customer service there - darn them) and I politely say, "I'm looking for needles," and head for the wall of notions in the back of the store. Blast them! The sales bins are right by the notion wall. So I give myself a pep talk, "Head up, don't look, just get your needles and breathe."

They don't have all the sizes of needles I want or need, so I check other hooks, just to make sure they're not in the wrong place. That's where I make my fatal error. As I'm turning, I see something out of the corner of my eye. Could it be . . . is that . . . it is, it's Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in black. That's not novelty yarn. That's a staple. But is it an orphan. I mean, what would you do with just one skein? Could there be more? So I dive in like a frenzied drug addict looking for his first fix of the day. Score! I found four skeins and one little skein of Kid Merino in pale pink. An orphan but I'm sure I can figure out something to do with that one skein. After all, I have three girls in this house.

I get to my car and sheepishly flip down my vanity mirror. I look at myself but I'm not on speaking terms with myself. I only shake my head sadly at my reflection. I need help.

In the meantime, I have plans for the Cashmerino Aran. In the back of my mind was another pattern. My son's hockey team's colors include black, so these fingerless mitts and a matching hat will be ideal for hockey games this winter, so I can continue to knit and use up some of this superfluous stash that continues to accumulate, despite the stern lectures, yarn diets, self-imposed exile from the LYS except for emergencies and all the other measures that don't seem to stem the influx of new yarn into the house. I reiterate, I need help.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Insomnia and tinking

I've had a few bad knitting days. I've not been sleeping well, waking at 3:30 am and fretting about this, that and the other thing. I'm sure it's mostly related to PMS, the start of the school year and all the attendant expenses that go along with it, as well as my own world of quirky things to be anxious and stressed about (we won't delve to deep into that dark world of weirdness today - I'm a little too tired and may reveal more than the world is really ready for).

But lack of sleep does not make for good lace knitting. Now, usually, having knitted for over 30 years and being somewhat experienced with lace knitting, I can figure out how to repair mistakes, even several rows back. But this is the first time that I've ever knit a pattern that works on a diagonal from two sides of a center "seam" and I have to admit that it has me a little kerfaffled. Invariably, on this pattern, I've either dropped a YO or forgotten to make a YO in the first place. And when you are within two rows of a YO, it's an easy matter to make a one and knit it up into your pattern. But this diagonal thing just makes me crazy because I cannot seem to find the right place between stitches to pick it up and work it up. So, I've had to tink back at least 4 times in the past three days and it's making me crazy. So there has been little knitting progress to show in the house.

I have managed to get a few more inches along on Samus, not having bought new needles yet, as I have not received a call that my size1 Addi's are in yet and I'm a bit stubborn. Besides, I'm on a fiber diet, and my LYS is a sore temptation right now, with a major sale going on. I'll have to put the blinders on to pick up my needles as it is. I did try a new photo location for Samus and I'm please with the outcome. I like the color of the foliage and lichen against the color of the yarn. Of course, I spent considerable time picking bits of lichen out of my knitting but that's the sacrifice free spirits make in the pursuit of their artistic vision.

Well, this free spirit needs to finish sticking little bits of labels to two different calendars (the big wall calendar and small, portable one) so that we can plan our daily school schedules. I bless the day I figured out that I could print pages of labels out for the different weekly activities we attend. I've saved hours of handwriting and potential carpal tunnel damage since that particular lightbulb (side note: spell check didn't recognize lightbulb and wanted to change it to lustfully - hummm?) moment. But it still takes time to stick the little labels on the pages and it needs to get done this week because I want to go to the fair next week.

Yes, it's STATE FAIR time. I haven't been for a few years and I'm so excited. I'll have so much to report. But until then . . . it's sticker time.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Confessions of a weak woman

Well, the allure of the new has caught me again. I just couldn't resist. I am a weak woman, I admit it. As if I didn't have enough WIP's and UFO's hanging around here. But all the beautiful lace shawls out there in blogland just inspired me, so I dug through all my magazines and found this Flower Basket Shawl in the Fall 2004 Interweave Knits issue and pulled some wool yarn from my knitting machine stash and started a new project. As usual, the photo does not do justice to the color of the yarn, which is a heathery lavender but I am pleased with the progress thus far. I have completed the upper chart and have made it through the lower chart 3 of the recommended 7 times. Since I have no idea how much yarn I have, I will just continue on as long as I can. I am pretty sure I have enough to finish the pattern as written but would love to make it a little larger, if possible. But I have no label or yardage info on this cone, so I'm living dangerously and just guessing that I'll have enough. I'm a wild and weak woman.

I've also been bold and experimented with html and figured out how to add a list of WIP's to my sidebar. Now this may seem elementary to those of you who grew up with computer languages and programming skills but for a 40-something lady who learned how to work within programs but not write them, it is an amazing feat of programming skill and prestidigitation. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a little but I have to admit that I've invested a lot of time and heart into this little blog and the fear that one wrong keystroke will send it into cyberoblivion keeps me from straying too far from the tried and true. I'm very proud of the little baby steps I'm taking towards making this blog more personal and less cookie-cutter every day. So excuse a little button-busting pride here, while I swell with accomplishment. I feel pretty good.

All in all, I think I've had a great day.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Blog education

I'm trying to learn about blogging. I spend an inordinate amount of time reading other blogs and trying to figure out what makes a good blog or a popular blog, recognizing that the two are not necessarily synonymous. I have bookmarked quite a few blogs that I enjoy reading and check back frequently and am trying to analyze them to see what makes them so appealing.

One thing that I have found is that many of my favorite blogs have great photographs. So I'm spending much more time outside with my FO's and WIP's and the camera, trying to get good pictures. For instance, my Flying Purple Widdershins were photographed while I was flat on my back with my foot in the air against the tree (flying, tree, up in air - get it?). My neighbors must have thought I was crazy (I haven't mentioned to them that I blog yet) as I moved my little rug around the tree and repeatedly repositioned myself, looking for the perfect spot where the shade/sun combination would work the best. All of a sudden, taking a picture of my feet in the office where I'm typing isn't good enough and I'm ranging all over the yard with my camera and knitting bag, with one sock on, looking for the ideal spot to take a photo.

As a side note, I think I need to make a big sign or t-shirt or hard hat that says, "Caution - Blog under construction" or something similar, so no one calls the men in white jackets to haul me off to rubber clad rooms, while I search for those unique photo angles. Come to think of it, what was I wearing while my leg was up in the air yesterday? I hope my dainties weren't showing. Yikes!

Then there is the whole editing process on the computer. I love digital photos because it meets that instant gratification side of my personality. I pop my little card in the computer and all my pictures are there and ready to go. But I need to edit them. Not being able to get the stupid date/time stamp off the camera means that I need to leave extra margins on my photos (easy enough to remember when snapping photos) and then I just crop it out. I'm also taking extra shots, with and without flash, close up and far away, and with different angles, so I can pick the best of the best for my blog. No extra prints to throw away. A click of the mouse and bad photos just vanish.

However, before I consign some of my bad photos, I am tempted to post a few of them, just for laughs. After visiting Stitchy McYarnPants blog, there is something to be said for humorous pictures. Then again, my pictures might just be bad, not funny. And nothing is more pathetic than people trying to be funny and just being . . . well, not funny. Hmmmmm. Are the bad angles that make my big feet look even bigger really funny? The photo with the saggy sock ankles humorous or just a reminder of how scattered and forgetful I am about pulling up my socks before snapping a photo? Is the cockeyed Flying Purple Widdershin picture funny to me because I know I sneezed while taking it or would it just look crooked to everyone else? Am I just over-analyzing everything because I have no new knitting progress to show because I was tired of knitting last night and just watched episode after episode of Law and Order, Criminal Intent, just vegging out and being a bum?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Weekend Knitting Progress

I've been a bum this weekend. At least where housework is concerned. I've spent extra time knitting, and I'm unrepentant about it. I have thrown a few loads in the washer today and I did a couple loads of dishes in the dishwasher and I did feed my family, so I can't say I've done nothing family/housework-related at all, but when you have four children, this level of "laziness" is remarkable.

A couple of things led to this . . . 1) Yesterday was Audrey Hepburn's turn on Summer Under the Stars on TCM. I am an immense old movie buff and Audrey is one of my favorites. 2) DD1 had a sleepover Friday night and I had a semi-clean house already and had cooked my famous French toast for everyone Saturday and decided to treat myself to an old movie first thing Sat. morning, then just stayed there (except for kickboxing class) for the rest of the marathon. 3) I woke up with a migraine this morning at 4 am, took my meds and decided to stay up until they kicked in, which, PTL, was quickly on an empty stomach, so started knitting very early this morning. As a result, I have one FO and progress on two other projects.

First of all, I finished the first Flying Purple Widdershin and started the second on Saturday. Then this morning, I remembered my decision to finish the bottom band on Samus when I had some quiet to concentrate. Once my headache was gone, I figured I had my chance, since it was only 5:00 am on Sunday morning. So I finished the band around 8:30 this morning and managed to cast on and knit a few couple inches to boot.

Now, to rant (just a smidge) . . . Ordinarily, I love my Denise needles but for some reason, they are just not working well on Samus. I don't have a long enough cable for the body of the sweater (the fronts and back are all knit in one piece until the armholes) and I had to use a join to connect two cables to make one long enough. The yarn is snagging on the join, which is bad enough but the yarn also seems to be dragging on the rubbery cable material, too. It's a real chore moving the stitches around the cable to the needles and I'm so frustrated with it. So, I'm debating switching to another pair of needles, which I very, very rarely do in the middle of a project. I'm always afraid that no matter how close in size the needles may appear, the place where a change is made will still be obvious. My options are to change now, when I'm within 2 inches of the cable band or to frog it back to within a row or two of the cable band. The most I'd lose is a couple of hours of knitting but I'd have the peace of mind of knowing the change would not be noticeable. Or I could make the change, knit a few rows to see if it's noticeable and then frog it if I had to.

I have no idea how many people actually see this blog, since only a couple friends have actually posted comments but if anyone has any advice, please feel free to let me know what you think. I'm waiting for my size 1 Addis to arrive and would consider adding size 5's to my collection for this project, if necessary. In the meantime, the second flying purple Widdershin and the dance teacher socks are still WIP's in my bag to keep me busy.

Now it's time to do another load of laundry and to work on feeding my family, so I don't look like a total, 100% bum this weekend.

Friday, August 18, 2006


These are photos of the bottom band of the Samus sweater I'm working on for fall. I've not been very diligent on this one, only because it takes concentration to follow the chart and, too often, I'm not in a place to concentrate. I'm hoping the next two weeks of "vacation" will give me a few hours to finish the bottom band and then I'll be able to pick up and start knitting the main body of the sweater, which will be easy and mindless knitting for the time in the waiting rooms at dance and orthodontists and everywhere else to which the ubiquitous knitting bag is always traveling. (sidenote - I'm so proud that I figured out how to do the link thing. Woohoo!)

Of course, during this same "vacation", I'll also be going through school books, setting up schedules, filling out calendars, reporting forms, making final doctor and dental appointments, cleaning out cabinets and drawers and prepping my lessons for homeschool academy. Whew, I think I'll need a retreat to recover from my so-called vacation.

Well, off to the housework treadmill. You know the one I mean, the one you go around and around on and yet never get anywhere on, for while you are working on one thing, something else is getting messed up somewhere else. Doesn't matter how fast you run, you just don't get anywhere . . . at all . . . ever . . . Behind each mountain of laundry is . . . you guessed it, another mountain of laundry. Etc., so forth and so on, ad nauseum. Okay, normally I'm not this bitter but it's been cloudy and dreary for two days and I'm a little sunshine deprived. Time to put some happy music in the MP3 player and just get some work done. Ta ta.

Stash Enhancements

After a day at the park with the kids, imagine my delight when I found my mailbox full of this . . .

Since it's my tradition to give handmade gifts to special teachers in my children's lives, this year I'm making socks for my DDs' dance teachers. How apropos when I received the fall Knit Picks catalog and they had a line of sock yarns called "Dancing" that they were clearing out. So I ordered a number of colors and cast on with my new Addi's last night. As you can see, I'm already several inches into my first sock in the colorway called Tapping. The larger size needles are making the socks progress much faster than my previous three pairs. They should be a little larger, too, which will be better, since I make my own socks very, very, VERY tight. I'm repeating the Gull Wings pattern on this pair but will probably go with something simpler on subsequent pictures, since the patterned yarn will obscure most the of the fancy stitches.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


I picked up this meme from, one of the blogs I check in on frequently and it appealed to the bibliophile in me, so here goes. . .

1. One book that you've read more than once. There are many but the Anne of Green Gables series, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and everything by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
2. One book you would want on a desert island. The Bible
3. One book that made you laugh. Mrs. Greenthumbs, and Mrs. Greenthumbs Plows Ahead. Her kooky and sometimes bawdy look at gardening just cracks me up.
4. One book that made you cry. Anne's House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery, when Anne loses her baby.
5. One book you wish you had written. Little House in the Big Woods. That book awakened my love of books when I was a 7 yo and I'd love to inspire kids that way.
6. One book you wish had never been written. Harry Potter
7. One book you're currently reading. Jane Eyre, again.
8. One book you've been meaning to read. Vanity Fair by William Thackary (not the magazine)
9. One book that changed your life. Created to Be His Helpmeet by Debi Pearl. It completely changed the way I looked at marriage and my man.
10. Now YOU do a book meme!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Socks and Scarves and such

The scarf is one of my favorite FO's. I picked up the yarn at Freyja's yarn shop in Brainerd, MN on the way to a friend's cabin for a women's retreat . During a late night gab fest, I knocked this quickie garter-stitch scarf out, down to the fringe, much to the amazement of my mostly unknitterly or knitting newbie friends. I wish the photograph could capture the wonderful yarn, which is a mix of hand-painted mohair and a fine, rayon boucle yarn, which just shimmers and glows through the misty halo of the mohair. I've tried a couple times to capture it but my less than stellar photography skills just can't catch the illusive nature of it's beauty on screen. This scarf always garners raves when I wear it and I wear it often in the cold, northern winters. Makes living in Minnesota almost worth it, when you can wear something this gorgeous and get to brag that you made it yourself.

The Flying Purple Widdershins, as I've dubbed these socks, are progressing slowly. I need to decide how high to make the cuffs. Being the bad-***ed, kick-boxing mama I am, I have fairly large calves, so the higher I go, the more increasing I'll have to throw in to make them fit. Decisions, decisions, decisions . . . At least with cuff down socks, you have to knit until you're ready to start the heel shaping, and it's early in the project and usually, you're still in the honeymoon phase of the project or you don't like the heel and you're avoiding it, so deciding how long to make the cuff isn't so gut wrenching. And when you get to the foot, you have to make it long enough to fit your foot, or else, what is the point. With a toe up pattern, the decision whether to make an ankle sock or a knee high, is just there (as long as you have enough yarn, which I do). So where do I stop? And even if I'm not tired of the pattern on this sock, what happens if I start the other sock and something dreadful happens and I get sick of it on the other sock, will I end up with my first ever sock orphan? Oh, the horror . . . This is far more serious than I realized. I think I need to have a glass of wine and put my feet up and read a few new knitting books/magazines before I face this life altering decision. Just how long will I make the Flying Purple Widdershin Sock?

I need a nap.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Two of my favorite things

These are pictures of two of my favorite knitted projects. I call the socks my Easter Egg socks. I'm particularly proud of the fact that I made the stripes match on the two socks, which doesn't show on the picture but is true, nonetheless.

The bag is my favorite knitting bag and I carry it everywhere. It gets more comments than anything I've ever made. It's made with Lambs Pride and I love the halo effect that came out when it was felted.

My purple Gull Wing sock is nearing completion. I haven't cast on with the Addi Turbos, only because I haven't figured out if I can cast on with the Magic Cast-On with one needle or if I'll have to use Dbl points and transfer.

Frankly, the reason I haven't had time is I've been surfing blogs, trying to create a list of blogs I read to add to my blog and deciding if I want to join some more rings or not, just to generate some traffic on my blog. I've giving my blog address to friends and a few family members but am unsure how public I want to be. There are pros and cons to the public nature of blogging. Being a Christian in an increasingly hostile society is a little frightening but the call to be salt and light is as true today as it was 2000 years ago. How "out there" do I want to be? I'm not sure yet but I'm doing some homework and lurking to see what others are saying and what the reaction to their postings are before hooking up with too many rings or advertising too many blogs on my site without understanding their viewpoints a little more thoroughly.

Well, off to DD#1 last summer dance camp. One week of running and then two weeks before school starts again. Where has the summer gone? I talked my DH into letting me spend the last two weeks of summer just "vacationing" with the kids. Extra sewing machine time, extra beach time with the kids, maybe some time at a local history museum, and no school books. Sweeeeet!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Stereotypical knitter???

After browsing through many knitting blogs, I've discovered that I'm not alone in being an animal lover. Believe it or not, the cat in the leaves posed herself for this one. We were repainting our bedroom and I had taken down a wreath and she decided it was a dandy place to curl up for a nap. Cats are mysterious creatures because a wreath of prickly grapevine and dusty silk grape leaves would not be my ideal spot for a nap. Perhaps she thought she was camouflaged and could snag that illusive dust bunny under the bed.

My little floofy, an 8 pound, 6 year old medium hair female, is my knitting companion. When I'm curled up with a good sock, she's usually snuggled on my lap. She's a good kitty, in that she rarely attacks my yarn but occasionally, when the yarn gets too feisty, she has to teach it a lesson. She is obviously my cat, tolerating the kids and totally disdaining my DH, which is humorous in the extreme, since he is the cat lover extraordinaire in the household.

Our other cat is a 19 year old black and white tuxedo male. He used to weigh 16 pounds but he's lost weight over the past few years and is down to about 13 pounds. He is our lover. He purrs if you look at him and will cuddle for hours. My DH and I have had him since 2 months after our wedding. He was our first baby and we adore him. When he was younger, he couldn't stand the kids but he has mellowed considerably in his old age, allowing the kids to pick him up and even purring for them, if they are gentle.

One other knitting bit of news, I bought my first pair of Addi Turbos yesterday. After struggling with bad joins on my size 1 circular needles through 4-1/2 socks, I stopped by my LYS to pick up some new needles. They were out of sz. 1 (they'll call me when they're in) but I was planning to make a pair with sz. 2 to anyway, just to size them up and, spur of the moment, decided to give the magic loop method a try. I'm debating whether to finish my current WIP before trying the new needles or just starting a new sock on the Turbos. To quote Dr. Suess, "Well, what would you do?"

knitting at the fair

No new pictures to show. But I did something I've never done before, I knitted at the fair. I tucked my little sock in my fanny pack and pulled it out while kids were on rides and did a round here and a round there. I've started the gusset and am using a different increase, just for fun. I may end up frogging it, if I don't like the look. When you're tagging along with 3 to 4 kids, it's hard to analyze, so I'll do a few more rounds and then take a look.

I did get to look at some llamas and alpacas while at the fair. Granted, this was just the county fair and there were only a few but there was one lovely white llama that I would love to get a fleece from - what a luscious coat on her. Now, being a complete spinning newbie, having only learned to spin with a spindle, it would take me years to complete an entire fleece with a spindle. And there are no plans to add a spinning wheel to my already bursting design studio of equipment. But she was a lovely animal and her fleece was so light that I'm sure that any dye would have transfered brilliantly to her fiber. Yuuuuuummmmmy!

We also perused the entries in the education building. My girls loved seeing all the entries from children their own ages. My eldest was looking for an entry from a dance friend that we were helping with a knitted purse but we were unsuccessful. I am seriously considering having my kids put some of their school projects in again next year. DD#1 put a quilt in several years ago and took a grand champion ribbon for it. She has worked on things since then but never finished them. I should really put my foot down and get some of her UFO's off her list, too. Then she could enter them in the fair next year. Another New Years resolution, perhaps?

I ran out of time and didn't get to check out whether they had a quilting or crafts building. The demolition derby ended and my DH and DS rejoined us and the younger DDs were out of steam. I may sneak out this afternoon and go back to the fair, just to see what else I missed. Or I may stay home and sew on my own MBR quilt. Who knows, I may enter it in the fair myself. Wouldn't a ribbon look good on my design wall?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Sock progress

To the right are the completed anklets from the Widdershins pattern. They'll look great with jeans this fall. I totally love this pattern because I can alter it any way I want to. The only thing I'm unhappy with is the bind off was a little tight and they are hard to get on and off. I'll need to do a little research and find a better binding off technique for anklets. For the longer socks, it doesn't matter so much but my usual technique of using larger needles to bind-off just wasn't adequate.

Above is the third set of these socks in the purple. I've added a lace stitch to the top of the socks called Gull Wings from Socks, Socks, Socks Edited by Elaine Rowley, published by XRX Books. The main attraction was it is a simple, repetitive pattern that is easy to memorize, so I'm not constantly referring to a chart. I always need a no-brainer project to tote around with me. It also had the advantage of having the same number of stitches as the Widdershins pattern, requiring no math to convert the pattern. How slick is that! These I plan to make much longer, so I may make them wider at the top by adding stitches in the purl sections between the lace panels, if necessary. I'll just experiment as I go. That's the lovely thing about toe up socks. I can adjust the pattern as I go.

No sewing yet. My shoulders are still giving me grief. I've bought a new pillow to try and am continuing the ice and ibuprofen route. I feel a little better but am not 100%. I tend to be too focused on the machine when I sew and can get stiff and sore, if I'm not careful. I'm hoping to get back at the MBR quilt before school starts up again but it's not a given, considering school is only 3 weeks away. YIKES! Where did the summer go! And I had such high hopes to finish so many UFO's . . . The new always is so much more alluring than the old. This Widdershins has been quite the seductress . . .

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Yet another UFO

Here is a vest I started 6 years ago in a class based on the book, The Art of Fabric Collage by Rosemary Eichorn. (The link is listed below.) How do I remember the date so well? Well, I was 8 months pregnant with DD#3 when I took this class. I find it so embarrassing to admit to the age of some of these UFO's. I love this piece but because of having a newborn baby, it went into the UFO box and stayed there.

One of the things that keeps me from working on this piece is the pinning technique used. They recommended using straight pins to hold all the raw edge pieces down. In my quilting, I use safety pins but was willing to give this technique a try. But I have impaled myself repeatedly as I worked on the free-motion quilting to hold all the appliqued pieces down. Not being particularly masochistic, I found the pain a deterrent to working on this. So I'll probably pull all the straight pins out and replace them with safety pins before finishing it. I'll also need to go back and re-read the book to recall the garment finishing techniques. If you look closely, you'll notice that the applique pieces overlap the shoulder edges. The seams are supposed to be sewn before the applique is sewn down over the shoulders but I don't remember the specifics on the actual construction details. I read the book, cover to cover when I first bought it (my usual habit, as I'm an avid reader). Being an over-committed homeschooling mom with an overflowing in basket, the idea of reading a particularly hefty quilting book right now is a bit daunting. I'm too obsessive to just skim or just read the pertinent info and skip the rest. But perhaps this old dog can learn a few new tricks. As I said, I just love this vest and having it on my wall is making me long to finish it and wear it. Grrrr. Maybe just one chapter . . .

Monday, August 07, 2006

Teaching Knitting

Here is a the purse I used to teach my Intermediate Knitting class last year. The purse was one of my own design but the flower embellishment came from Nicky Epstein's book, Knitted Embellishments. The publisher graciously allowed me to use a number of patterns from the book to teach more advanced knitting techniques to my girls. They ended up with wonderful, felted handbags and several embellishments to mix and match with their handbags and other accessories (from previous classes).

I guess I am showing it because I am a little sad that I am not teaching knitting at our homeschool academy this fall. I have taught knitting for several years and this year, planned to teach a class for boys. But because of circumstances beyond my control and a special request, I'll be teaching a class on color theory and physics instead. Although the color theory/physics class has some fun elements and will be a great opportunity for the kids to learn about how light and color really work, I'll miss the chance to pass on my passion for fiber arts this fall. My hope is that the spring session will have room for my boys knitting class, because I have all my plans already laid out. And quite a few young men have already expressed an interest in learning to knit, so there is already enough interest to hold the class.

I've been flat on my back most of the weekend with a virus. I'm praying that I don't go into a secondary infection, which is my usual pattern. But I have made lots of progress on my second set of Widdershins socks. The first blue is done, just a short anklet. And I've started the gusset shaping of the second sock already. Silly me, though. I had started the second sock and had the toe shaping nearly done when I realized I forgot to use the included reinforcing thread. So I had to frog it and start over. Fortunately, I am very comfortable with frogging things. And I'm always glad to practice a new skill, like Judy Becker's Magic Cast-on so that I become proficient at it. Practice makes perfect.

Being sick means I got lots of TV time in. A rare thing for me. I'm an old movie buff but of late, I've become a fan of Law and Order, Criminal Intent. They had a marathon on yesterday, so I knit and watched for the whole afternoon. I've always like mysteries. Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden, Columbo, they started it. Now look at me, a whole afternoon in bed just watching TV and knitting. Where will it end?

Friday, August 04, 2006

More UFOs

Here are some more pictures of UFO's in my pile. These are blocks from a Red Hat BOTM I participated in a few years ago. No, I'm technically not old enough for the Red Hat Club but was looking for a quilt for my powder room, which is painted barn red. We had a delightful time meeting each month. The blocks were designed by the owner of the Quilt Sampler in Chanhassen, MN. Originally, they were supposed to be raw edge, iron on applique but being a hand-applique fan, of course I hand-appliqued everything. The challenge of the club was to add embellishments. My particular style was to add hand beading to each block. The high top boot and tea pot are only appliqued thus far and I still have two more blocks to applique to finish the set. As usual, the class ended, life took up its usual frantic pace and these blocks joined my stack of unfinished works.

My blue tweed Widdershins sock is nearing completion, as I only have about 1 inch of ribbing left. I'm going to finish it this morning and then it's laundry and chores for the rest of the day for me. I like going into the weekend with a clean house and no dirty laundry. So heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Photos - finally!

Here are pictures of the finished socks. They are made out of the leftover yarn from a baby project for a dear friend who is having twins (no I won't post the pictures of the finished baby gifts, as she might peek). It is a hand-painted yarn called 'Spicy Lights' from Inspirational Fiber and Textile in Buffalo, MN, that I picked up at the Shepherd's Harvest Festival on Mother's Day weekend. I have enough of it left over that I'm thinking about making the Knucks pattern from the latest issue of with the leftovers. (

With school around the corner, I can't help but start thinking about fall and cooler temperatures. The colors of these socks remind me of the changing seasons and, for better or for worse, the upcoming homeschool year. Feelings are mixed for me. I am always excited, because the return to a schedule means more structure and control and less chaos. But this year is a little scary, too, as my older children are enrolled in a new cooperative and each will be away from me for a whole day each week, taking enrichment classes. It is a wonderful opportunity for them to learn from new instructors and to learn subjects that I have less expertise and ability in but it means more car time (2 hours each day) and sending my children "off to school" for the first time. I know, one day a week for each of them isn't that much, but when you've been with your kids 24/7 since birth and been their sole instructor for 13+ years, this is a big step.

I just hope my apron strings are long enough . . . Just kidding.


The Widdershins socks are done and I've begun the next pair. I'm ready to turn the heel of the first sock with the Lang Yarns Jawoll (the blue tweed). And imagine my delight when I pulled the tail from the center and out popped a spool of reinforcing thread. I had no idea that this yarn came with it's own coordinating reinforcing thread. This will be the first time I've used it but believe me, I'm giving it a try. I spend a lot of time darning my hand-knit socks because I love them so much.

I still haven't gotten back to my MBR quilt. I'm doing so much driving around to dance and hockey camps that my shoulders are sore and spasming. Sitting in my favorite recliner and knitting is far easier than running my sewing machine and pressing quilt seams. I'm in need of some serious exercise, since I've missed my kickboxing classes for two weeks straight but the kids' camps have conflicted with my classes, so I'm OOL until Saturday. I'm hoping to hop on my bike tonight after my DD#2's camp for a 10 miler, just to get the ol' HR up but will see how tired I am after a day of running kids to and fro.

Well, I've tried a number of times to post a picture of the socks but the network is not cooperating, so I'll try again later. Not that they are great pictures. I may try to have my DD#1 model for me and try and get better ones before I post them. Taking pictures of one's own feet is kind of bizarre and twisted, perspective-wise, that is.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

More UFOs

Seeing as I haven't quite finished the second Widdershins sock (1.5 inches to go), I'm posting another UFO picture instead. This is a finished applique block that I've got on my design wall. I'm mulling over whether to finish it as a wall hanging or a pillow or to use it as a center medallion in a larger quilt.

This was my first attempt at Hawaiian-style applique and I enjoyed it immensely, being a needle-turn enthusiast. I found the vibrant colors exciting to work with, since my usual color palette is somewhat more subdued. I'm becoming more adventurous as I age. I'm less afraid of working on something outside the box because I know that nothing is permanent. It's okay to rip it out, sew over it, or even over-dye it later. It is even okay to throw it away if you really hate it. Okay, I don't mean "throw" away but recycle or regift it.

I've taken half finished projects and put them into ziplock bags with their patterns and all the fixings and put them in garage sales or even in charity boxes. One man's trash is another man's treasure. My mom scored some gorgeous yarns at Goodwill and I found a whole collection of 40's and 50's dressmaker patterns at Goodwill that I used for years in my costume designs. Eventually, I passed them on to a young costume designer in a garage sale of my own. One of our local quilt shops has an annual garage sale where you can rent table space and sell off or swap your stuff. How cool is that?!?

So I'm buying yarn and fabrics and kits in colors that don't necessarily go with anything I own or necessarily match. I'm just picking things out that make me happy or just seem to grab me and cry out, "MAKE ME!" In this case, the kit just wow'ed me and I love the finished block. The idea of making this into a Christmas wall hanging or lap quilt seems most reasonable, since the colors are most suitable to a holiday theme. Perhaps finding a Hawaiian pineapple pattern for a border would add a hospitality theme. I'll just mull it over some more.

BTW, the heat here has broken. It is a delightful 76 degrees and a heavenly, drizzly, wet day. After dealing with near drought conditions and 100 degree temperatures, what a blessed relief. And it will be down in the 60's tonight. I'm turning off the air conditioning and opening windows tonight. Alleluia!!!