Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I've Been a Bad, Bad Girl...

...not blogging...not photographing my projects...generally being absent from my online life. At least I've been knitting.

When I'm not sneezing, that is.

I cannot believe I'm sick again. I think DH, Baby M, the in-laws and I have just been passing variations on the same dumb cold back and forth all fall. It hit me Sunday night and by yesterday I felt like roadkill. DH and I both had to stay home from work today; thankfully, MIL came up and took care of Baby M or neither of us would have gotten any rest.

But aside from being sick, it's all those other little pesky life details -- like work and school -- that have been keeping me from doing more of the things I love. There are now only -- count 'em -- TWO weeks of school left; one and a half if you count that this week is already halfway over. WOO-HOO! Although, in semesters past that would have been a much bigger, bolder, underlined and quotated "WOO-HOO"; this whole program coordinator deal is a pain in the a$$ and while I'm delighted that the end is in sight I'm not much looking forward to the amount of extra work I'll be doing as a coordinator to get there.

I am also not loving the class I'm taking this semester. Someone save me from first-run classes. The instructors have all the good intentions in the world but they just don't have their acts together and quite frankly I'm suspicious at best as to the pedagogical underpinnings of our final assignment. So, I've been writing this big-a$$ paper which, according to the way this assignment has been structured, is nothing more than a giant introduction to...nothing. I'm too sick and tired of it all to even go into detail; suffice it to say this project has either a) not been well thought through, or b) not been well explained to those of us unlucky enough to have to participate. Probably both.

The upside is, I've been knitting. I've become obsessed with the Meathead Hat and, in addition to the pale green version I blogged about earlier, I've also knitted up a black one decorated with a funky green crocheted flower and three in Lion Brand Homespun for Soaring Eagles. I haven't made any progress on the family and friend holiday WIPs, but at least I'm feeling good about those hats (which need to be mailed in the first week of December, which is approaching with frightening rapidity).

I've also been watching more DVDs. In a stunning 3-for-4 blowout, the last of my pre-Thanksgiving library borrowings (The Producers, with Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane) sucked even worse than The Ice Harvest and Sideways. I mean, how is that even possible? I love the original version of The Producers, with the brilliant Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder. I like both Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane, who originated the roles on Broadway and got rave reviews there. So why, when Nathan Lane insisted to the deranged Nazi playwright that he should "kill the actors," did I actually hope for an instantaneous murder-suicide that would bring the entire sorry film to a grinding halt right then and there?

At least the third season of Nip/Tuck didn't disappoint. And now DH and I have Season 4 of Family Guy to enjoy as well.

But first, I need some cold medicine.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Afterthought Thrums and a Trio of Hats

Hats first:

I actually finishedg these off several days ago; three more hats for Soaring Eagles. I haven't worked on any Soaring Eagles hats since I finished these off, although I do have one hat body all knitted up and just waiting to be cast off the machine and sewn up.

Instead, I've been working on this:

Here is where, if I were totally cool and with-it and together, I would have a photo of FIL's first finished glitten to show off. Instead, I have the lovely glitten, above, which is utterly not of my construction. Still, it gives the basic idea of what a glitten is. Now picture it in black with a plain 2x2 ribbing and nice and chunky from all the fluffy afterthought thrums filling the insides.

What is an afterthought thrum? Ah, I thought you'd never ask.

A thrum is a piece of fleece that's knitted into a mitten on the inside. Line a mitten with thrums and you get a super-thick, super-warm mitten; it's kind of like putting your hand in a muff instead of just a mitten. The only thrums I've seen are ones that get knitted into an article as you go along. You need to know in advance that you're going to thrum something in order to do it.

However...well, let's just say I had a little problem with gauge on FIL's glittens. The first one I made was a touch on the small side. Yes, I swatched. And yes, I got gauge using the size 3s and 5s recommended in the pattern. And when I actually knitted up the glitten, I found I'd tightened up by nearly 3 stitches over 2 inches. Doesn't sound like a lot, but it did do enough that when I had DH try the glitten on for a test-fit (figuring that even though FIL is on the slight side, DH's hands were a closer approximation than mine would be), the first word out of his mouth was, "Hmmm...small."

I hemmed. I hawed. And I decided to put the small glitten aside and go up two needle sizes to knit another one.

I used the size 5s that I'd used for the first glitten body as the cuff needle; I then went to get my size 7s to knit the body. And that's when I pulled out a size 8 and decided I was too lazy to paw through the tangle of circs to find the 7. "What the heck, I thought, "one size up won't kill me."

And I was right. Using the 8s didn't come close to killing me. It did, however, give me a glitten that was significantly roomier than the previous one. So roomy, in fact, that DH's test fit produced the single comment, "Big."

Which is where the afterthought thrums come in. I figured I could fill some of the empty space in the glitten and make it even toastier and warmer than I'd intended by adding thrums. And when the only instructions I could find online showed how to knit in thrums, I did a little unventing.

I'm sure people have done this before. But since I couldn't find a record of it and since I figured it out myself whether or not other people have done this before, I feel okay about laying claim to the unvention of afterthought thrums. If necessity is the mother of invention, maybe laziness is the mother of unvention. There was just no freakin' way I was going to knit another damn glitten in a different size. Period.

Had I been well-prepared, I would have had black fiber all ready to make into thrums to line my pretty black glitten. As it was, the best I could come up with was a brownish-grey that looked decidedly more brown than grey when held against the jet-black glitten. I used a fine-gauge crochet hook to pull each thrum through two stitches on the inside of the glitten and tie it off in a hawk's head knot. It took a couple of hours, but I managed to line the entire inside of the glitten -- and boy oh boy, does it feel good. Of course, it wasn't until I'd lined the entire glitten that I realized that some of the thrums were visible on the outside of the glitten. Whoops. My glitten looks like it has the pox (those words exactly came out of DH's mouth when he looked at the thrummed glitten: "the pox"), but I don't care. I'm going to pull even more thrums through to the right side and call it a design feature.

Now I just need to knit up the mate and that's another Christmas present under the belt and ready to be put under the tree.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Sign o' the Times and Other Stuff

So, today DH and I took Baby M for her first sit-down with Santa Claus. It happened by accident, actually; DH went to his aikido class in the morning and Baby M and I went along for the ride. She and I headed over to the bookstore in the mall while DH was in class, and that's where we saw Santa. (Don't get me started on how I think it's criminal the way we've pushed Christmas prep all the way to back before Halloween. I was just grateful that the line was short.) Anyway, once DH's class was over, he joined us over at the mall and we lined up to wait for Santa.

As it happened, Santa was just finishing up his lunch break when we got on line (hey, everybody's gotta eat, even jolly ol' St. Nick -- keeping track of every kid in the world is hungry work). As he walked back to his throne, accompanied by a chorus of ooohs and aaahs from the assembled children, he paused to give a high-five here and a handshake there, and at one point he stopped and spoke with one mother for a good couple of minutes. Now, let me just say, this was no college-kid Santa with a fake beard and a pillow under his Santa suit. This Santa was the real deal: a genuine white beard and long-ish white hair that he had clearly curled into ringlets himself, and a belly that left hardly a kid's worth of space on his lap when he sat. The man obviously had been doing this for years and relished his role as the Spirit of Christmas. He spoke with a slight Southern twang and seemed just as happy being there with the kids as they were being with him.

And it was during Santa's chat with the mom three or four spots down the line that the man behind me said, only half under his breath, "OK, Santa, what's the holdup? Let's get it moving here." Merry Christmas, indeed.

Who, you might ask, mouths off to Santa? Sadly, it seems that well-off yuppies who are clearly used to getting everything they want in their stockings is the answer. Though I do wonder, if the punishment for being naughty is a lump of coal in the stocking, what exactly happens if you really piss off the big guy? Does Santa leave you a jack-in-the-box rigged to pop out and slap you in the snoot?

No matter. Except for Scrooge McJerk we all waited our turns with, if not a brimming cupful of holiday cheer, then at least with a modicum of restraint and patience. And it's here that I'd like to publically thank little 5-year-old Juliana, one spot ahead of us on line, who decided to entertain Baby M during the wait. Juliana had a balloon -- a pink balloon -- and with a goodwill that some of the adults nearby could have learned from, she gladly shared it with Baby M. They took turns holding the balloon, tossing it to the ground (the good folks at Nordstrom's, in their wisdom, had attached a plastic weight to the end of the string to prevent an accidental fly-away), holding hands, chasing one another around...it was charming, really. And providential. I cannot imagine the lengths I would have had to go to in order to keep Baby M occupied otherwise. So thank you, Juliana. You have truly helped to make my season bright.

Of course, that just left the minor detail of actually seeing Santa up close and personal-like. Baby M was fine when Santa walked by waving and high-fiving every kid in arm's reach. She was even okay when we walked up to Santa's throne and looked the kindly old elf in the eye. But as soon as I perched her on his knee, she said in a slightly panicked little voice, "Mommy?"

And all holiday heck broke loose.

Kudos to Santa for not jettisoning us both with a swift kick of his boot-clad elfin foot. I told you the man was a pro, clearly as adept at dealing with frantic kids as with frazzled parents. And much as I didn't believe I was either frantic or frazzled at the time, looking back on it I can now see I was a teeny bit -- or more -- of both. (Ohmygod, we're holding up the line. Holding up the line! Is Yuppie Dad back there right now muttering, "Get the lead out"? How long will it take before aggrieved parents started pelting us with fake snowballs and tinsel?)

I picture good ol' Santa in his life the other 11 months of the year. I see him as a 911 dispatcher, calmly explaining to a panic-stricken caller how to tie a tourniquet or correctly pack up a severed finger so it can be reattached later. And the caller would listen and obey, because you just don't backtalk Santa.

"Now listen to me, Mom." Not unkind; firm but gentle, and with that charming twanginess. Maybe Santa's from the South Pole instead of the North...?

"You're going to put this knee up here. Put her right out on the end of your knee and turn sideways. I won't even touch her; I'll just be back here and you'll be out of the way for the photo."

This would have been a brilliant plan had I had a spatula to scrape Baby M off my neck, where she was clinging like a kudzu vine. Several tries (and worried thoughts about Yuppie Dad and his under-the-breath muttering) later and I finally said, "Just take the photo with me in it."

Santa had a plan for that, too. Of course, at this point I was far too frazzled to follow him clearly. I am a college professor -- I teach English, for chrissake -- yet it took me three tries before I figured out what he meant when he said, "I want you to hold her with her back to your front." Not my finest moment, I'll admit.

So we now are the proud possessors of 1 5x7 and 4 wallet-sized photos of me smiling apologetically as I perch gingerly on Santa's lap, an utterly miserable-looking Baby M in my arms. Ah, yes. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.


And now, as promised, I give you The Meathead:


I hereby officially dub I *HEART* Huckabees "A Movie that Does Not Suck." And, interestingly enough, it's all about coincidence and existential philosophy and quirky performances by a bunch of actors you wouldn't necessarily think would be up for something quite this offbeat. It kind of reminded me of Being John Malkovich in that way. (Note to John Cusack, who I'm certain, by the way, is reading this right now: You were brilliant in Being John Malkovich. Simply brilliant. Now fire whoever talked you into doing The Ice Harvest and get involved with more scripts like BJM.)

Anyway, I had plenty of time today to think about coincidence and existential philosophy as I sat with DH and Baby M in traffic for THREE HOURS this evening. And I came to the conclusion that it was no coincidence that I'd blithely yammered on this morning about planning on knitting a Meathead and finishing off FIL's glitten plus casting on the second of the pair, all in this one evening. I blogged and bragged; the Knitting Goddess heard. And she has connections. Apparently with the Freeway Faeries.

So I'm going to very quietly and modestly state that while I did not manage my one-night knitting trifecta, I did manage to start -- and finish -- my Meathead. I took some photos but don't dare post them for fear of riling up the Knitting Goddess yet again (plus, I really need natural light to do the color of the hat justice, and at midnight here in upstate NY you just ain't gonna get that). I'll take a couple of more shots outside tomorrow and hopefully have one that's good enough to post both here and on the Meatheads flickr site. I doubt they would pick my hat to appear in the book (yes, this KAL is associated with an upcoming book, and the knitters who participate have the chance of getting their hats professionally photographed and included) because I didn't use the recommended yarn -- Lamb's Pride Bulky, doubled -- but I still love it. I used my sale skein of Debbie Bliss Big Wool in pale green, and it's so deliciously soft and fluffy I can hardly stand it. I especially like how I finished the hat off (but will wait till I have a photo to show instead of trying to describe it now), and even though it goes with absolutely nothing in my wardrobe, I still can't wait to wear it this winter.

And now that it's officially after midnight I think I'll get myself off to bed. Photos in the morning....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Meathead is Here!

No, that's not an All in the Family reference...it's the Meathead Hat Pattern from the KAL over at Stitch Marker. I'm really excited! First, because I've had a ball of Rowan Big Wool for months now -- purchased at 50% off at Gotta Knit! when the summer yarns had come in and they were trying to make some room -- and I've envisioned it as a hat but never known quite which pattern to use...until now. But the real fun of this pattern is the embellishment. I have an idea of what I want to do, but I'm not saying until it's finished. The pattern looks like a super-quick knit, and I have high hopes of doing it all tonight while watching a movie that does not (please, God) suck.

In other knitting news, FIL's first glitten is a finger away from being finished; if the Meathead goes as super-quick as I suspect it will, I might just finish off that glitten tonight, too, and then cast on for the next one, just to keep the dreaded SMS at bay. I finished off another felted bowl (knitted but not yet felted) this afternoon, thereby freeing up my size 15 circs for the Meathead...not like I don't have another pair or three of size 15s or anything, but I decided that no matter how quick a knit this hat is, in order for me to cast on another project, I had to first cast one off.

And in other, other news...I am totally unmotivated to do anything except knit and play with Baby M. Too bad there's another 3 weeks of school left before the end of the semester. Really too bad I also have a 12-15 page paper due on December 9 for the class I'm taking. If I weren't so far along already into this second master's, I'd chuck the whole thing, maybe do an MFA in fiber arts instead (at least I'd enjoy that).

Will close with the sentiment I feel most strongly right about now:
What Is It With Me and Crappy Movies Lately?

Tonight I watched Sideways, which was nominated for all sorts of awards and got all kinds of buzz. Is it me, or does that movie last for about nineteen hours?

I wish I'd gotten nineteen hours worth of knitting done during it, but alas, no. I did manage to finish off the 3 hat bodies pictured in yesterday's post, though. Plus I picked up the thumb stitches on FIL's Christmas glitten and knit about 10 rounds before putting it aside for the night. Still haven't started DH's hat or fingerless mitts; I figure I'll do that once FIL's gift is finished.

DH is so sweet. Tonight he came home from work and asked, "How much was that spinning wheel you wanted?"
"Which one? The five thousand dollar Golding?" I replied. "About five thousand dollars. Why?"
"Oh, nothing. Just...that's the one you'd want if we could afford it, right?"
Now I'm suspicious. "Depends what you mean by afford. Like, if we hit the lottery for a million dollars, I'd buy that wheel."
DH chuckles.
"Did you hit the lottery?" Hey, it was worth a shot.
"No, but they announced bonuses at work today. Supposed to be ten percent."
So, how sweet is that, I ask you. DH all ready to spend his bonus on a ridiculously expensive spinning wheel for me.
"No, sweetie. Not with your bonus money. But, thank you."

Yep, I did find me a good one. And now that I know he'll have some money coming in at the end of the year, I can get him the Christmas present I've been wanting to buy but delaying over since he wouldn't have the space to put it in: an anvil and, if he can pick out the one he wants and I can weasel the information out of him without his suspecting why, a forge. He'll be able to use some of his bonus money to put up a shed for his workshop, and then he'll have the main things he needs to start his smithy.

The question, of course, is where do I hide a 275 pound anvil between now and Christmas?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The Quick and the Darned

So tonight while watching The Ice Harvest (Note to John Cusack: I love you. I really, really do. You are an inspired actor. You make me laugh; you make me teary-eyed; and I'll never, ever forget you holding up that boom box in Say Anything. But what in the world were you thinking when you made this movie?), I seamed up three more hats for Soaring Eagles. (BTW... thanks, Ren, for jumping on board!) I have three more hat bodies waiting in the wings plus a fourth already cast on the knitting machine. That will bring me to a total of twelve hats plus five bunnies for the cause. I'm actually really enjoying knitting for Soaring Eagles, though you'd think by now I'd be sick of knitting the same hat over and over again. In fact, I think I'm liking it more and more as my little pile of knitwear grows. I also simply can. not. believe. how fast these hats eat up the ol' acrylic. (That could also be due to the ginormous pompoms I insist on plopping down on top of each hat, but whatever.) And I managed to knit about half a felted bowl today while Baby M napped. Between hats and bowls I even joined a funky-cool KAL.

Of course you realize the Knitting Goddess will see this as a perfect opportunity to strike me down for having the nerve to blithely take on so many other projects in the face of holiday knitting. Cue the foreboding music; I feel a smackdown coming on.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


One of the (many) nice things about going to work 3 days a week is that TGIF happens on Wednesday. And do I ever need it this week!

Maybe it's just a "yuck" moment for me. It can't help that today's lunch was a handful of chocolate chip cookies and a bunch of Cheetos. And just this morning I was listening to some self-help guru describe how you have to go "THREE-FOR-THREE" -- think about something, feel something, and act on something -- in order to succeed, and there he went and talked about how a client of his was trying to lose weight and had thought about it and even taken action by starting on various diets, but that she never actually lost weight until she got to the root of her "feeling" issues and decided she felt worthy of losing weight, blah, blah, blah. Where, I ask you, does going THREE-FOR-THREE fit in with forgetting your lunch and grabbing whatever's at hand when you're hungry? Maybe the "acting" part? I should have acted on making a damn lunch this morning?

Anyway. The school knitting club meets in 20 minutes -- yes, I am now heading up a school knitting club, and last week (our first meeting) we had maybe 15 students, including 2 men, attend. I have no idea how many, if any, will show this week, but I suppose I'll find out in a few.

My hands and fingers are holding up, although I will need to do something about this finger at some point. (Thanks for your concern, AP and Ren -- I will take it easy, I promise!) And I even finished most of one of FIL's mittens.

That's all the good news. The bad news really isn't "bad" per se, just more of the same "yuck": un-fun errands to take care of, papers to grade, a pain-in-the-a$$ paper to write, schedules to work out, and the disappointing news that I won't be able to teach with my fave co-teacher after all next semester. Top it all off with a grey city day and the fact that I just spent well over an hour fighting with this stupid blog template (don't ask; simply be glad you're not as anal as I am) I've got a case of the blahs.

And what did I hear about yesterday evening? The dollar store near my in-laws' house just got a bunch of "nice yarn" (according to MIL's neighbor). Not good for my Stashalong participation, but what the heck, the least I can do is check it out, right? I mean, if it really IS "nice yarn" there's no sense in letting it languish in an out-of-the-way dollar store, right? And if it's not...well, we'll just find out, now won't we?

Sunday, November 12, 2006


Oh, OK, and I totally forgot to tell you about this:

Today we saw swimming deer!

Did you folks know that deer can swim? I mean, I guess if I thought about it I'd figure they might be able to swim, but I just never think of deer as swimming creatures is all.

Yet today as DH and Uncle Godfather stood out on the deck, they excitedly called me outside to watch as not one but two deer swam all the way across the lake opposite our house, did a couple of laps parallel to the opposite shore and then hopped out, pretty as you please, and bounded off into the woods.

Was it an exercise thing? Are these deer in training, maybe for the hunting season? Was it just an especially nice day, from a deer perspective, for a dip in the ol' lake?

All I can say is it was quite a sight. I wish I'd had my videocam to catch it all on film.

Swimming deer. Now I've seen everything.
Grosse Pointe Blank

So, here it's midnight -- a minute after, actually, according to my PC -- and I'm sitting here watching Grosse Pointe Blank, groovin' on all the old 80's tunes, waiting for DH and visiting Uncle Godfather to come back from DH's nephew's confirmation party.

And what have I been doing to occupy myself all night, aside from watching cheesy movies?

Knitting, what else.

This is the first "glitten" of a pair from Homespun Handknits, intended for FIL's Christmas present. I must admit, this thing is killing my left wrist. I've been having shooting pains all day and have been reduced to wearing my wrist brace after more than a month spent blissfully brace-free.

Still, I will finish this project -- and others -- before Christmas. I felted more bowls and have decided that while the SWS felts up nicely after only one trip through the washer, the merino definitely needs a second pass. So, that's two more bowls filled with chocolate and wrapped plus two that need a second felting. Two more to knit in merino and one more in SWS and bowls will be done. I'm trying to get these glittens finished up fast so I can start on DH's hat and mitts; and of course, I still need to finish mom's silk stole.

Think I can do it?

Thursday, November 09, 2006


That's the number of hats officially recorded as being received by the Soaring Eagles Project as of today. Eighteen hats...and the goal is 400 by December 18!

Not much time. Not much time at all.

So, today I whipped up a hat on the knitting machine. Nothing fancy -- a simple roll-brim hat in sportweight, but the colors (pink/blue/white ombre) are fun, and topped with a pom-pom I think it'll be cute. I figure I can churn out the hat bodies fairly quickly and then do the seaming and pom-pom-ing by hand afterwards.

Of course, simply getting one hat body done with Baby M around was a challenge. She was into everything from the umbrella swift to the knitting machine itself, and it didn't help when she decided to wear the garbage can on her head as a hat (covering her face completely and causing her to blunder about the room in a blind whirl) or when she then decided to put the garbage-can-hat on the dog (necessitating my immediate intervention...the poor dog puts up with a lot, and a garbage can on the head is more than I can reasonably ask her to tolerate).

Christmas knitting is coming along slowly. I finished knitting up another bowl, which only needs to be felted along with the others. One more in SWS to go, and then a couple in Paton's merino for friends and that will be that. The woven scarf for my teenage cousin is coming along and probably will be done the next time I have an hour or so to sit in front of the loom and work on it. Mom's lace stole is still where it was the last time I wrote. I just have no motivation for that project, and I don't even know why. I still have to start DH's knitted stuff (I was hoping to knit him a balaclava, a skullcap and a pair of fingerless mitts...we'll see how well that goes off) and FIL's mittens. I haven't even planned a knitted gift for Baby M yet, although I'm liking the knitted bunnies so well I may just make a big one for her and call it a day (and she'll certainly appreciate it more than clothing at this stage, anyway).

Can't think any more (this cold is really beating me down)...will post more later, when I hopefully will be more motivated....

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A Quickie (Woo-Hoo!)

OK, so the title sounds far more exciting than the actual post will be, but this truly will be a quickie. I've been sick since Sunday -- slept 18+ hours Sun night through Mon afternoon and stayed home from work both yesterday and today -- and now that I'm feeling just a touch better there are a million things I need to try to catch up on, starting with school work.

However.... This morning while briefly catching up on email/blog stuff, I stumbled across the Squirl website. This is a place where you can itemize and organize all your collections -- free! NAYY and all that...I'm just passing along the info for anyone, like me, who may be looking for a way to organize the ol' stash a bit.

Anyhoo, I signed up and have started the onerous task of listing all my stash yarns. I've decided that this will be part of my Stashalong committment: to get my stash listed as a way of easily seeing what I own, thereby encouraging myself to knit/weave with that yarn and not go out and buy more. (Or, much more. Can't committ to absolutely no yarn acquisitions till all the stash is worked through...that would just be insane.)

If you want to see what I've listed so far (and it's not nearly the tip of the iceberg, you understand -- just the paltry few skeins I have lying around in the cardboard box by the front door -- and why exactly do I have a cardboard box full of yarn lying by the front door, you ask? Because DH gets testy when the box sits on the dining room table is why), go to Splindarella's Yarn Collection. Once I'm done with the yarn, I think I'll move on to categorizing the fiber. Now all I need are a few days (weeks) to devote to the task!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Burnin' Down the House


So, ever since DH and I have lived here -- over seven years now, and where the hell did all that time go, I ask you -- there have been three abandoned hunting cabins on the 100+ acre track of woods across the road from us. Maybe two-three years ago, one of the cabins collapsed from sheer age and decrepitude. Another developed a gaping maw of a hold in its side, possibly from having an ATV run smack through it. And the third...well, this is what the third one looked like at about 7 o'clock this evening.

Here's how the conversation between DH and me went.

DH: I think there's a fire across the road.
Me: Call 911.
DH: I don't know, maybe it's just someone shooting off fireworks.
Me: Someone's shooting off flaming fireworks in the woods across the road from our house?? Call 911!
DH: Maybe someone just wanted to get warm and set a fire in the abandoned cabin....
Me: Call freakin' 911!

The trouble with living in the back end of nowhere in the exurbs is that lots of services that are public and paid for by taxes in the cities -- little things like garbage collection and fire-puttin'-out-tion -- are either private services (hence the monthly shakedown by our trash collectors) or run by volunteers. Hence the response time that had me packing up the baby and getting ready to evac just in case the increasingly worrisome conflagration jumped the road and we had to hightail it to safety.

Let it not be said that when they did arrive, our local firefighters didn't do it right. They must have sent out every engine they had within three towns of us...doubly impressive since these men and women were in all likelihood paged away from a Saturday spent comfortably at home to rush to protect the lives and property of people they don't even know. Seriously, folks, that takes both altruism and bravery to an entirely different level.

So, DH, Baby M and I sat out in the damn-I-can't-believe-winter's-almost-here freezing cold watching the flaming cabin send a plume of sparks and black smoke into the air across the road, and then we retired into the house (amazing how half an hour in the cold outdoors will make you truly appreciate central heating) to eat DH's birthday dinner of BBQ'd steaks (in DH's world, it's never too cold to BBQ) with Junior's carrot-cheesecake for dessert.

Side note: If you've never tried Junior's Cheesecake, run don't walk and get yourself some.

What are you still doing here? I'm serious. Junior's Cheesecake. Now.

For anyone still reading this, I can only assume you either a) are already a fan of Junior's Cheesecake and have a nice, big slice in the fridge ready for eatin' later on, or b) are unable to understand the English language sufficiently. Maybe for you Group B people, if I type it bigger, it'll work.... GO GET SOME JUNIOR'S CHEESECAKE. OK?

Group A folks, let me just tell you, it was a strange mix of emotions watching that little cabin across the road burn down to the ground. On the one hand, I'm relieved; after all, who wants an abandoned building nearby? Abandoned buildings attract all kinds of weirdness and I'm glad not to have that one around any more. On the other hand, that cabin was kinda cute in a falling-down, backwoods, Deliverance-esque kind of way. It was a link to a time when this area wasn't full of brand-new kit houses (like ours) and ex-city-folk (like us); a time when the farm houses really contained farm families, probably ones that built those very same houses with their very own hands. I'm going to miss looking across the road and seeing the greying wood front porch facing out onto the water. It's hard to tell in the dark, but all that seems to be left standing is the stone chimney.

And so passes another tiny piece of history.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I Knew There Was a Reason Why I Charged Up the Camera Battery This Morning

Because look what came in the mail this afternoon:

That's right, folks, it's my very first SP9 package. And I hate to tell all you other SP9ers out there, I somehow managed to get THE best partner of them all. You all may have great partners; you may even have awesome, spectacular, out-of-this-world partners. But I got THE BEST, bar none. Just sayin' is all.

So, lookee what came in my package today.

Check out that batt! It's actually more like one gigantic, long, jelly-roll of fiber that I folded in half just so you could see how gorgeous the colorway is. It's so beautiful to look at, I don't even think I'll spin it up for awhile...I'll just keep it around to stare at and occasionally pet. Though I'm envisioning a beautiful Navajo-plied DK weight yarn in graduated shades of apricot to saffron to chocolate brown and back again, so I don't know how long the plan to keep this fiber around solely as eye candy will actually last.... :)

Next up:

Now, this is where my partner got just a little bit freaky. How in the world did s/he know that I've been wanting to try Noro for at least a year? I didn't put it on any of my questionnaires (I even went back and checked to make sure), I haven't blogged about it...aside from haunting ebay to see if any ever came up cheap (it hasn't), I don't think I've acted on my Noro urge at all. Yet, here is my partner sending me not one but two skeins of Noro Silk Garden Lite! This yarn is definitely earmarked for me to knit something for myself once the holidays are over. And did you catch the little bag of beaded stitch markers sitting pretty on top of all that Noro? I don't know if my pal made them her/himself (I have a sneaking suspicion s/he might have), but they are beautiful! I can't wait to use them.

And check these out:

How awesome are these wrist warmers?? Again, I never mentioned this anywhere I can think of, but I've been wanting a pair of wrist warmers for months now. I haven't made myself a pair because of all the finger problems I've been having and wanting to "save" my finger for holiday knitting and all. But here again my pal had some sort of psychic flash and handmade (I assume) exactly what I'd wanted -- and so soft, and in such a drop-dead gorgeous color, too! The photo doesn't do this deep, intense, ever-so-slightly orangeish red color justice. As soon as I unwrapped these, I put them on (never mind that today I was wearing a kelly-green sweater and it's still too far from Christmas to claim I'm "dressing for the holidays"), and I've only taken them off to cook dinner since. These are definitely my new, cool, wear-'em-everywhere accessory.

Can you believe there was one thing more in my package? As if all the above weren't more than enough, would you please take a look at the piece de resistance, the pressie that completely blew me out of the water and took my breath away?

A spindle! A stunning, blueish-purple wooden spindle, perfectly balanced, smooth as silk, an absolute joy to spin. Again, my photo doesn't even begin to capture the beauty of this spindle or do it justice. How can I ever thank my partner enough?

I've been doing the happy dance all day long over all my wonderful gifts. Thank you, thank you, Secret Pal. You really are The Best!!
Soaring Eagles Project

So, here's the first of what I hope will be at least a dozen knitted bunnies for the Soaring Eagles Project. If you're looking for some charity knitting, consider Soaring Eagles. Go to the blog, read the stories of these children.... Me, I just couldn't not knit for them.

But back to the bunny...she's a cutie pie, isn't she? She fits perfectly in the palm of my hand, which makes me think she'll be just the right size for a pre-K or kindergarden-aged child to hold. Can you believe this is made entirely out of a single 8"x8" square of stockinette stitch, with just the two little ears added on afterwards?

You can find the free pattern here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

I *HEART* the 80's!


OK, the question here is why? Why did we ever wear spandex leggings with slouchy legwarmers and off-the-shoulder bubble-sweaters in neon colors that made us all look like snowballs on sticks? Who could have possibly profited from the big-hair/bulky-headband look except the Aqua Net company? And who in the world went to all the effort to knit that cropped pink sweater-and-short-shorts combo on the right with the bright-white intarsia hands literally groping the wearer? Not your grandma's knitting is right!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Week in Review

Ah, Halloween. This year, Baby M went trick-or-treating for the first time. (No, I do not have any photos to post. I am a bad mommy and forgot to bring the digital camera to Grandma and Grandpa's house, so we had to use the "old-fashioned" film camera. Lord knows when I'll see those photos, but let me tell you, Baby M was cuter than cute in her little green froggy costume.) She seemed unfazed by the parade of strange-looking creatures on the streets (the super-warm weather brought the trick-or-treaters out in droves) but didn't show much interest in what was being dropped in her little pumpkin-shaped goodie bucket until she got a little orange bag of pretzels. Those she recognized from her library story hour -- one of the other little girls had brought the pretzel bags in to share with all the kids -- and then...well, then she realized that the stuff in the pumpkin was important. She clung to that bucket all night like it was full of diamonds (and at 18 months old, a bucket full of Halloween candy is better than diamonds any day). The only thing she really recognized was the pretzel bag -- so far we've managed to keep her fairly candy-free, so she didn't have any concept of what the other brightly-colored wrappers contained -- so getting most of the candy away from her by the end of the night was fairly easy. She kept the pretzels and the little bags of Teddy Grahams (I love the parents who handed those out), and I also saved the little Kit Kat bars for her on the assumption that they're more cookie than candy, really, and if we parcel them out between now and Christmas it'll be fine. Again, at under 2 years old, Baby M is still pretty easygoing (though I do have the sneaking suspicion that after the first Kit Kat bar, there'll be no turning back). All in all, a good Halloween was had by all.

Of course, all that goodwill couldn't come for free. Today at work I had to mediate a crisis of stupid proportions -- way too stupid to get into save to mention that this is why I hate hate HATE doing admin work. As a teacher, I get one crazy student maybe once every few years; as an administrator, everyone's crazy students cross my path at one point or another, which tends to make for a lot of craziness.

I don't even have my knitting for solace. *grumble* Stupid finger. *grumble* Stupid tendonitis. But at least I've figured out something that's nearly as good.

I have one of those Ultimate Sweater Machines, bought in a fit of desire to whip up beautiful handknits at a fraction of the time that handknitting actually takes. While I don't think I would ever knit a sweater with this thing, it does do a good job of churning out large panels of stockinette stitch. Now, I've been wanting to do some charity knitting for quite awhile. I debated the merits of various charities -- the Dulaan Project, Operation Toasty Toes, Warm Up America, Afghans for Afghans -- but nothing really captured my heart...until I ran across the Soaring Eagles Project. They're looking for holiday gifts for impoverished elementary school children in Oklahoma; what had I seen on Ren's blog not two days earlier but a pattern for the cutest little bunny stuffed animal made from a single square of knitted fabric, folded origami-style, stitched, stuffed and embellished with a pair of knitted ears and a tuft for a tail.

Bingo! For the past two days, I've been churning out bunny-colored squares on my knitting machine, and once I have a nice pile I'll start sewing and stuffing. The last step will be to handknit the ears, but they're only 5 stitches wide apiece, so how much knitting will that really take? If I'm lucky I'll be able to put together a box full of these folksy little dolls and help make some kids very happy. And I'll be able to use up a bunch of my old acrylic that's been lying around for ages (they specifically asked for only acrylic or cotton items to avoid shrinking/felting problems once the kids have the gifts) AND stick to my Stashalong "diet" at the same time.

I love it when a plan comes together. :)