Saturday, December 29, 2007

One last party, then I've really gotta go....

I hope you all have survived the Season and the inevitable Christmas Knitting Crush. I finished the final impromptu Nephew Hat on Christmas eve, just before skipping out the door to a little gathering. So I had an extra reason to celebrate!

Christmas morning The Mister and I had a lovely, private little brunch with brioche french toast (bread courtesy of Annarosa's) and mimosas made with fresh squeezed tangerine, accompanied by lovely vanilla/hazelnut coffee from Godiva. Heavenly! I can tell you now that the concert The Mister got tickets for is Laurie Anderson! He was so excited. I didn't realize before but he's never seen her in concert! So it will be an extra special treat - I only wish we'd managed to get closer seats, but the concert has really not been promoted at all so we heard about it very late. I'm considering hanging around after the concert and seeing if I can get The Mister backstage to say "hey". That's how I met her, so I know she's agreeable, but.... well, Laurie is... tiny! I mean tiny. I felt like I towered over the poor girl, and The Mister towers over me, so... but we shall see. I think he'd be thrilled and I know he could do it without going all star-fucker.

The Mister, knowing his new wife very well, gifted me with not one but TWO box sets of Fry and Laurie! "A Bit of Fry and Laurie" (recieved) and "Jeeves and Wooster" (on back order). Is he not brilliant? Is he not thoughtful? Huzzah!

The rest of our holiday week has not been quite so "huzzah"... we were several hours late to a dinner party Christmas Day (take one part "duh" and two margaritas shared with the neighbors, stir slightly and, well....) then we both fell ill for TWO days with coughs, fever, aches... ick! We completely lost Wednesday and almost all of Thursday. Yesterday I decided if I didn't get up and dressed I may never do so again.... besides, with both of us sick, and Miss Katherine away at the folks, there was no one to bring us chicken soup and cough medicine! ;-)

Good news about being sick and bedridden (as well as sleepless from coughing) - you can get alot of knitting and knitting-related work done! heh

I got an enormous amount of knitting done on Rogue

I am really loving this pattern. I'm still not doing so well with the making of multiple stitches from one stitch that's required on the bottoms of the braid, but I am not so proud that I wouldn't go back with a little bit of yarn and a needle and fake it where I couldn't make it. ;-) It looks fine now and it's for me so who cares. Better luck next time. I'm almost to the armpit, then I have to divide and do the front and back on straights. The only math I need to do here is to be sure that the arm holes won't be too big. I'm making the largest size because of my gauge, so if the armholes are designed proportional for a larger woman, and not just a simple scale-up, I'll need to adjust the size so they won't be too large. From all I've seen of this pattern so far, The Girl from Auntie may be too thorough to have simply scaled-up instead of doing a proper resizing. Darn her. ;-)

I also finally washed and skeined the Sangria BFL I spun from Spunky Eclectic

I also skeined and washed the first hank of yarn for The Mister's Christmas sweater. He wants Patrick A-13 from Black Purls Design (I'd have linked you to her website instead of Ravelry, but it's currently under construction) in a grey tweed which I believe is this yarn, from Webs. I bought it on the cone from the warehouse and I must say, I have seldom seen a filthier yarn. These poor cones must have been rattling around warehouses and shipping containers for years. After washing, the yarn had brightened significantly, and there was about 1/16" of silt in the bottom of the washpot. The yarn also fluffed up by almost 50%. It is now fit to be a sweater.

Today is our Mid Holiday Fete, so of course I awoke to this view out my office window...

Ghastly, isn't it. *sigh*

At least it's summer in here.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Ornament Tag!

From Jung at Heart - a Christmas Ornament meme!
  1. Take a picture of your ornament and put it on your blog telling us about it.
  2. Post a link to the person on whose blog you found out about Ornament Tag.
  3. Post the rules.
I have no knitting-related ornaments to share, but we do have alot of cool stuff on our tree.

We collect tiny antique ornaments, like this:

here's The Mister's favorite:

and my personal favorite?...

Biker Bitch Barbie!
I assume she has her
knitting in the saddlebag
she's carrying.
That's where I keep mine...

Merry Christmas to one and all!

Friday, December 21, 2007


I have officially started Christmas shopping! Huzzah!

This is absolutely the latest I have ever let it go. We've had so much going on lately that shopping for presents has been absolutely the last thing on our minds. But - we finally made the decision and The Mister has accepted his new position in Vermont (no we aren't moving just yet) and given his notice at his old job... so it's time to move on and git 'er done!

I have already knit a couple of hats. I have been adamant about not doing any Christmas knitting, but it was *supposed* to be just one hat - for my friend David. I had already knit his partner Thom a beautiful lace scarf earlier in the year, but David only wanted a plain wool cap. *shrugs* Anyways, I bought the yarn last week and cast on. Now, mind you, I've made this pattern several times before. When I finished the hat two days later.... let's just say I am now committed to knitting a second so both of my very small nephews can have matching hats for Christmas. *sigh* So I cast on again, paid better attention to details like, oh, gauge, and had much more acceptable results. ;-)
  • Concert tickets for The Mister? Check! (I'll tell you for what concert after he opens it!)
  • Alpaca socks for almost everyone? Almost check! (I'm hoping to reach Dave at Parker River Alpacas for several pairs of his amazing Criations socks)
Now this weekend is for making up gift baskets. I love making up baskets of goodies. It's so much more fun to pile a bazillion little gems into a basket than to torture myself over that one perfect thing. I just don't have the energy for that anymore. And I used to be so good at it...

Fortunately, there is going to be a Holiday Farmer's Market in Dover, NH on Saturday. Huzzah! That will make quite a dent in my Christmas shopping, and I get to support local farmers. It's a total win-win! White Heron Teas will be there, among others. Mmmmmmm! Then it will be off to downtown Amesbury and Newburyport to do what I can to support the local merchants. A Christmas Margarita at Agave I'm sure will be in order...

I was really hoping to make it up to Purl Diva to get in line for Franklin's 1000 Knitter's photo shoot. It may be the only chance I have to be only one degree away from Dolores... but we shall see. Holiday shopping may win out. :-(


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

FO (finally) and ...more acting (?!)

Thank you Kyle for encouraging me to get some smaller projects accomplished and thereby banish my knitting funk. It's working! I completed a hat for The Mister using up most of the remaining Botto Poalo cashmere/merino left over from last year's Christmas sweater. He is going to LOVE it!

I was worried at first that it would be too long, but now I'm a little concerned it won't be long enough. It's blocking now, so we'll just have to wait until it dries to see the final result.

Yes, I'm blocking using a quite large butternut squash.
No, this has nothing to do with the shape of the recipient's head.

The pattern is not doing what I thought it would, but I still like it very much. And I know it will be just the thing to keep The Mister's head toasty right down to his ears.

This yarn ... I just can't say enough good things about it. It's carried pretty regularly by School Products as it's Mill Ends from Italy. It's the yarn that made me fall in love with cone yarn. It looks and, frankly, feels like cotton twine on the cone. Not at all appealing. But a quick swish in some soap/Soak/shampoo and it goes from this:


I wish you could feel how amazingly soft this yarn is. And it blooms almost instantly on contact with the water. Magic is involved, I'm convinced of it. If I were only allowed one yarn to knit sweaters from, it would be this yarn.

I have a list of other short projects that are next up - fingerless mitts, a reversible cable scarf, some lace scarves, socks, even some coffee mug cozies! I'm going to try to finish two per week, at least until I run out of random single skeins! lol! Next up is a hat I've promised to knit for a friend of a friend - a Halfdome. Yes, I have indeed avoided doing any Christmas knitting of my own, only to end up doing other people's Christmas knitting. *sigh* ;-)

And the acting part of the post? Ah! well! I'm glad you asked!

I came home this evening to a phone message - I've been asked (without auditioning, mind you - !!?) to accept a role in the New Works Festival at the Firehouse! Woweee! I'm so excited! It's just a short 10 minute play, and it's on book, so no lines to memorize (thank Whomever is listening), but how exciting! The rehearsals will be mostly character development and blocking, but it's going to be so much fun! I'm just honestly running in circles and squeeeing with excitement. I wonder who the rest of the cast is? Will it be anyone I know? Oooo! Will it be anyone I admire! There are so many great actors in the area... I just can't believe someone asked me to join them on this project. Me!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Christmas Meme

Thanks go to my knitting heroine, Jung at Heart, for this meme, which I have here stolen. :-)

Christmas Meme

  1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?
    Wrapping paper. It makes the cat happy.

  2. Real or artificial tree?
    Real. I'd like to say it's all about the carbon footprint (real trees beat fake trees, believe it or not), but really, it's all about the smell.

  3. When do you put up the tree?
    The tree must be up at least two weeks before Christmas, or I can't start shopping. Until the tree's up, I just can't get in the mood.

  4. When do you take it down?
    Usually New Year's Day. No matter how much I cry and stamp my feet. ;-)

  5. Do you like eggnog?
    I like it, but it does not like me.

  6. Favorite gift received as a child?
    The set of plastic dinosaurs (complete with palm trees!) that my grandfather gave me.

  7. Do you have a nativity scene?
    No. Although I do have a dancing snowman and penguins display.

  8. Hardest person to buy for?
    my grandmother. You'd think it would be easy - she's in her 90s! - but it's torture!

  9. Easiest person to buy for?
    My husband.

  10. Worst Christmas present you ever got?
    A case of motor oil. I kid you not.

  11. Mail or email Christmas cards? uh oh.

  12. Favorite Christmas movie?
    Probably Rudolph - I love those cheesy claymation/puppet holiday movies. And I can sing all the songs. And I do, every single time. ;-)

  13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
    I'll let you know.

  14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?
    ...I'm going to have to take the 5th...

  15. Favorite thing to eat on Christmas?
    Champagne, caviar, and a roast duck.

  16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
    Clear. Or one color. But I don't like those multi-colored lights very much.

  17. Favorite Christmas song?
    Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt. No other version will do.

  18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?
    This year, it's a dream come true - we're staying home. Hooray!

  19. Can you name all of Santa's Reindeer?

  20. Angel or star on top of tree?

  21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning?
    Christmas eve. I know I'll get so excited about what I got for The Mister that I won't let him wait until Christmas morning to open it.

  22. Most annoying thing this time of year?
    Ads that start before Halloween. Shopping Malls.

  23. Do you decorate your tree in any theme or color?
    It's a strange combination of tiny antique ornaments and anything tropical I can lay my hands on.

  24. What do you leave for Santa?
    An ice cold martini. He deserves it.

  25. Shopping...
    I used to make everything, but outside of a few friends, it's just not worth it. So we shop locally - this year we plan on taking the weekend before Christmas and Christmas eve and shopping Amesbury and Newburyport downtown to fill baskets of goodies for everyone on our lists.

  26. Do you decorate outside for Christmas or just inside (or at all?)
    Both! I love Christmas decorations.

  27. Favorite Christmas cookie?
    Since you can't get Educator cookies anymore, I'd say those thumbprint cookies with the strawberry jam in the middle. I adore them!

  28. Do you own Christmassy clothing or jewelry?
    no. Isn't that silly?

  29. Do you believe in Santa?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

back to knitting

I had a call last weekend from Lainey, the nice lady who wanted my felted bags in her shop, and...

...she sold two.

Now, this is good news, and bad news. Obviously, the good news is that I sold two bags and made a little $$, but the bad news...

... I have to knit more of Those Damned Felted Bags. :-(

So this week was spent doing just that, and I got four done by Friday evening and trotted them over to Lainey's in time for their Holiday Open House on Saturday.

By the time we got there late Saturday afternoon to say "hi" and grab a snack, she'd sold another one. *sigh* Needless to say, I am definately NOT knitting any more bags for this season. I'm burnt out on them and, frankly, I have better and more fun things to do. Not that felted bags aren't fun and super cute, but they bore the crap out of me. I just hope she can sell enough of the rest of them so I can take the $$ down to School Products in NYC and get another sweater or two's worth of those amazing cashmere/merino mill-ends they get from Italy... *drool*

Bad enough I have two orders from friends for felted cat beds like Booger's. Talk about boring knitting, but dang, he does love that bed...

That's pretty much the only view you get of His Boogerness lately, particularly since snow started falling.

Since Friday evening I have been dedicating myself to my *own* knitting projects. Those things which are for ME. I made great progress on Rogue, finishing the pocket and getting up to row 18 of the side pattern...

The cable pattern is just enough to keep me from keeling over dead from those long stretches of stockinette stitch. They're particularly long on mine as I had to go down to size 7 needles and cast on for the largest size to end up with the 39" chest that I wanted. I'm using Paton's Classic Wool Merino in the Evergreen Mix - a pine green and dark blue that I just adore. I love the details on this pattern, like the edging on the pocket and the big hem on the bottom. This is going to be a very "finished" looking sweater. I'm very excited about it!

I also got a bit more of the Bee Fields done. I've finally gotten through the first pattern repeat and have started the second (there are four repeats of the first part of the pattern) and it's finally starting to look like something...

I'm starting to feel like I know what I'm doing. ;-)

I don't think I'd mentioned that I got some truly beautiful yarns from Heather of Sereknity last week. I bought myself some early Christmas presents... a skein of her lovely squooshy sock yarn in Rock Lobster...

My photo does not do this colorway justice. This sucker is RED!

I also got a skein of a wool/silk in the most delicate lavender/lilac. Well, two skeins actually - when I saw the first one I fell for it so hard that I begged her to save me the only remaining skein. So the next time I run into Heather, I'll have two. Now to decide what shawl to make for myself out of it. It's the perfect weight for a Key West shawl - something to throw over my shoulders after sunset, when the temp drops just enough to make bare shoulders chilly, or to take out on the sailboat to keep the slight chill of the ocean breeze from becoming uncomfortable.

Yes, it will be the perfect thing to wear on our anniversary trip. Now to pick a pattern.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

What quote changed your life? Or your mind?

I'm curious - what quote changed your life, or changed the way you look at things? I really want to know. Don't be embarassed - post it anonymously if you must - it couldn't be more embarassing than mine...

"I've been too chicken shit afraid to live my life, so I sold it to you for three hundred freakin' dollars a week." -Joe Banks from "Joe Versus the Volcano"

Knitting, Acting, and other Diversions

The Pay it Forward thread is doing great! I got my three - Kyle, KT, and Annie. Kyle has his three, KT has (I think) two, and Annie still has three spots available, so if you want in, check out her blog and sign up! Go! Do it now! You know you want to.

Knitting is going painfully slow. I'm a slow knitter - none slower - but the Rogue is killing me. The combination of over 200 stitches (my gauge is off, so I had to go with the largest size to get size M - 39" - measurement) and having to knit into the back of each stitch to form the hem is slowing me down even further. I've gotten all of 10 rows done and it's totally killing me. :-( But I will persevere! I want this sweater bad!

The lace is going even slower. I have managed on average 1-2 rows per day, but it's only a drop in the bucket. I'm getting more comfortable with the whole lace knitting thing, but it still required absolute quiet and NO interruption so I don't get off track. And full daylight. Ah well. I'd show you how I'm doing, but nothing looks worse than unblocked lace. I think I see the pattern, but who the heck knows. ;-) Heh.

Okay, the acting part of the title of this post. I have, amazingly enough, been asked to do another staged reading! Huzzah! Now, granted, the asking party was my husband, who is directing, but it was seconded by the other actors and at least one of the folks who's in charge of the project, so I'm fairly certain the decision didn't involve any "casting couch" activities - intentional or not! ;-) So on Saturday, December 17th at 10am I can again be seen embarrassing myself in public at the North Shore Readers Theater Collaborative in Newburyport. Check out the link for all the details. Not only is it a fun time, but you get to tell the actors/director/writer what you thought and as an added bonus you can spend the rest of the day shopping and eating in beautiful Newburyport!

While you're at the NSRTC webiste, make a note of January's offering. It is going to be one incredible event, as it is the world premier of the stage version of The Baghdad Prom: From Conversations with Iraqi Writers and Playwrights. The website links to a YouTube preview of the film. It's going to be an amazing reading and I highly recommend making the trip down to Marc Clopton's theater space in The Tannery. You know darn well you have nothing better to do on a Saturday in January.

This weekend I am dedicating myself to stalking my downstreams' websites to find out what best to gift them with. This is going to be way too much fun! I just love researching and finding/making the perfect gift for someone. Wheee! I may get so Christmasy afterwards that I start decorating the porch. With the snow we're due on Sunday, I may have no choice but to start feeling the holiday spirit. Either that or pack up the cat and all my knitting paraphenalia and head to Key West...

Also upcoming this weekend is another chance at the Alpaca Farm Open House event at Parker River Alpacas. And, another chance to buy those amazing socks!! I have rehearsal on Saturday, but I'm optimistic that I can get there on Sunday (to at least buy socks, if they aren't spinning as well). I'm dying to try the merino/silk roving that my Secret Pal gifted me, and then there's the Apple Butter roving that I have got to get going on for Kath's Christmas gift (Kath, don't read that last bit, ok?).

Hey, get me... "I have rehearsal on Saturday".

Heh. ;-)

And because I hate making you sit through a post without any pictures, here's a shot of something pretty dear to me. The Mister and I bought a lime tree when we first moved in together, to remind us of our beloved Key West, and every fall is blesses us with a few, cherished limes. And here's our first lime baby as a married couple...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

PIF - The Spirit of Handmade

How would you like to promote the spirit of handmade and get something in return? All you have to do is reciprocate and it just goes from there.


“The idea of the exchange is I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on this blog post requesting to join this PIF exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet, and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it before winter's end, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.”

And so I have! Thanks to Phoenix Fiberworks for this fab idea!

Monday, November 26, 2007

The post with no pictures at all. :-(

While on vacation last week, The Mister finally had occasion to wear his Liam sweater - and he took each and every one of them! He loves that sweater so much. If you have been tuning in for awhile, you'll know that I gave him the pattern for Christmas last year, we bought the yarn in NYC after New Years, and I finished it just before our wedding in May. Unfortunate timing for a cashmere/merino cabled sweater! lol!!

It makes me so proud to see him wearing it. I can't believe I actually did that. wow.

In other knitting news, not only did I swatch for the Rogue sweater I've been promising myself, but I have washed the swatch. Yes, I actually washed a swatch. I'll wait while you pick yourselves up off the floor....

The swatch is drying on the dining room table even as we speak, and I believe I'm within 1/2 a stitch over 4 inches - which means I'll throw caution to the wind and wing it. I'm so excited to start this sweater! I've been dying to start another sweater, but which sweater to start has been torturing me. Every design I picked out required a yarn I didn't have in the stash. And, it being so close to the holiday season (and second semester bills being due for The Boy's education, but I digress) there's no way I can justify more yarn for my own projects. So I dug through the archives and found something that not only did I really want to knit, but I had bought the yarn for it almost a year ago. A Rogue is born!

I've also been keeping up on my at-least-one-row-a-day promise to myself on the Bee Fields shawl and it's going very well. I'm up to row 26 and it's actually starting to look like... something. ;-) I am going to try to sit down every morning before work and do at least one row while the light is good. After work there's just no way my eyes are up for it. Over the weekends I'm confident I can get in 4-6 rows before a.) my eyes cross, or b.) I freak out and run from the house screaming.

Other random fun things to report - our friend Josiah graduates this Thursday as a Massage Therapist (way to go! you rock!); The Mister has one, possibly two, new directing projects (the one that's a definite is the North Shore Reader's Theater Collaborative in December); I may have another acting gig (details to follow); and last but certainly not least, The Boy is coming here over his Christmas holiday!!! Whooo hoooo!!! It's always so cool when he comes to visit, the upstairs neighbors actually lament his leaving and miss the sound of acoustic guitar wafting up through the floorboards at night! Heh - imagine how we feel about it! And it's only 3 weeks away!

Uh oh... three weeks away....

I gotta knit him something...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Another vacation shot to hell...

We're getting ready to celebrate our Last Day of Vacation this evening. Waah! :-( I can't believe this week went by so quickly!

Yesterday I spun with the ladies at the Parker River Alpaca Farm. The weather was beautiful, if a bit chilly (I don't think it got much above freezing all day), but we had a lovely greenhouse to spin in. See?

There were snacks and hot coffee, and Kathy even thought to bring some blankets, so we stayed pretty comfy until the sun started to set. I did manage to take a photo of some of the female alpacas at the farm on my way out.

There were a couple of suri alpacas, one of which allowed me to have a quick pat while she had her head in the feeder. Man, are they ever soft! There were also two babies - I think you can just see the bum of Kathy's little girl there on the right. I meant to get photos of them, but they were hungry and I was freezing so we thought we'd wait until another day. ;-)

The folks at the farm were selling these awesome socks - Criations, Smarter than Cashmere. It's a new venture for the farm and the spinners in attendance certainly approved. They're 93% renewable: 74% alpaca, 19% corn, and only 7% assorted socky manmade fibers. I bought a pair for The Mister (and one for Daddy for Christmas) and he says they are the nicest, softest socks he's ever had. So there you go - a testimonial.

While at the farm I finished up the singles of the Spunky Eclectic BFL, but had no way to ply them, having only the two spools for the Fricke. So this morning I puzzled over it for a bit, and decided that I couldn't think of any reason not to try one of the Babe's spools on the Fricke. VIOLA! It worked! It's a little loose and rattles a bit at high speed, but in a pinch... what the heck! So I spent some of today plying the BFL (and yelling at the NY Giants) and here is a not-so-great-but-it-gets-dark-so-damn-early-now photo of my accomplishment.

I thought I was being very aggressive in my plying, and that I was doing a really good job of twisting good and tight, but as you can see I'm still a little loose in spots. I'm just going to have to be less timid next time and really ply the bejesus out of it. This is a "before" shot, as I haven't washed and set the twist yet. I washed the wool/silk sweater and mitten today and after rinsing them about a million times to get the bleeding to stop I just didn't feel like playing in the bathtub any more. Good news is, the sweater only faded a tiny bit, despite the gallons of bright purple rinse water. I know, I know - I went on and on about how this yarn was far too purple and far too dark for me but.... having worn it a couple of times it really grew on me!

Hooray for changing one's mind!

Friday, November 23, 2007

SP11 Reveal package received!

Hooray for Secret Pals!

I received my final reveal package from my Pal and wow! Look at the bounty!

Christmas goodies galore, including a snowman pot scrubbie (?! - lol!) and two ornaments for our first Christmas Tree as husband and wife. (all together now... awwwww!) And then there are the knitting goodies... not one but two sock patterns by Cookie A, a set of short #2 Brittany DPNs, a notebook, and YARN!!! This is the greatest color and it's BFL so what's not to love? It's by The Plucky Knitter in the colorway Pumpkin Latte. And yes, it is exactly the color of a pumpkin...

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And thank you so much PeaceAngel for a lovely Swap!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Vacation Report

I have to say that taking a vacation at home is really working for me! Not that we've gotten anything accomplished like yard work or painting the bathroom or any of the other little errands you tell yourself you're going to finally get done while you're home. Not at all! But we have gotten a chance to hang out and explore our town a little bit and mainly just enjoy each other's company. Bravo!

Knitting has, of course, occurred.

Booger has received and approves of his new cat bed -

Kath was so smitten with it that she's ordered two for her two kitties. We just have to pick out the colors for His Highness and Miss Bee.

I started another sock -

I'm using Amy Swenson's Universal Toe-up Sock Formula again combined with a vine lace pattern from Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. I love that book so much, I should put the second volume on my Wish List for Christmas...

It took awhile, but socks are finally worming their way into my knitting soul. They're fairly quick (at least in the worsted weight yarn I've been favoring) and I just love doing the toes and heels. It's so funny the way it just suddenly turns into something. And the Knit Picks Shine Worsted I've been using is very soft and cuddly. I did just order some actual real sock yarn for the first time. It's from Sereknity in the Rock Lobster colorway. I'd considered Hedera or Pomatomus, but the Twisted Flower Sock is really calling me. I do so love a challenge!

I've also been trying to sit down each morning with the Bee Fields Shawl my secret pal got for me. I've been trying to get 4 or 5 rows done before The Mister gets up and moving. This pattern is pretty intense for a first lace shawl, but I think it's coming along alright -

I also made a run down to the local bead shop and made a couple of orifice hooks - one for me and one for my secret pal. This one is mine (hers is already in the mail!) -

Today the holiday cooking will start in earnest. I got the chestnuts roasted yesterday for Kath's stuffing with only a few minor explosions. But isn't that part of the fun of roasting them yourself?? ;-) Today it's apple pie, baked macaroni (courtesy of The Mister), faux grois (chicken livers instead of duck but it's super tasty!), and possibly the mashed potatoes. I haven't decided yet if I want to do any of the veg ahead of time, since we don't have a microwave to heat them up in. Kath today is making pumpkin pie, stuffing, and possibly a special carrot and squash soup. Mmmmm!!

We'll probably end up with just a few drop-ins after dinner, but who cares. We'll have fun and we'll have food to eat for the rest of the month! And best of all - none of us has to travel! Huzzah!!

The Mister did make a run to Home Depot earlier this week to pick up the lumber for Franken Babe, so hopefully I'll have a report on that shortly. If he's really motivated I might even have it to show off at the spin-in at the farm this weekend... woot!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Knitting Ennui

A whole week off from work - with no plans, no traveling, nothing but hanging around with The Mister, knitting, spinning and other such homey joys.

And I have no idea what to knit.

O sure I have loads of patterns I want to knit, but no yarn in my stash matches up. And I have loads of yarn in the stash, but none of it is inspiring me at the moment. It's embarassing! I'll certainly be giving some much-needed attention to my Bee Fields Shawl, but I really wanted to start another sweater and, well, nothing's calling me! I have some delicious Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk that I'm dying to play with, but I have absolutely no idea what to do with 10 balls of it. Not enough for a sweater... boo. And I do not wear shrugs. I think they're just silly.

Which brings me to an unhappy realization: I have got to stop buying yarn with no project in mind. I have all sorts of lovely yarn, but not enough of it to do anything. I swear, from now on I am going to purchase yarn in sweater quantities... or not at all. This having 400 yards of this and 600 yards of that is ridiculous! It's that I'm cheap, but stupid. I see the yummy yarn on sale, but don't want to spring for TWO bags at $80, so I just buy ONE bag at $40.Which sounds good, until you realize that one bag does not a sweater make. It take 1.5 bags. *groan*

A Silver Lining

I do have happy knitting news to report! I have knit..... a pair of sock. *cue fanfare*

And here they are:

I'm going to have The Mister take a picture of them actually on my feet, so you can see that I have indeed finished an adult size pair of socks. I know, I know - I can hardly believe it myself. What next - Jaywalkers? heh!

I also got a new book in the mail. Favorite Socks from Interweave Knits. It looks great and I'm looking forward to hauling some yarn out of the stash and starting a second pair of socks. Could be the start of something big. Anyways, I got the book with points I had saved up in my book club, so I thought I'd use them up and get a "free" book before canceling the stupid thing. I don't know why I get sucked into book clubs. There's never anything I want to buy, and certainly not for the overblown prices they put on them. *sigh* Still, even with the postage and "handling" fees, I think $9 is pretty good, don't you?


Bought the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner today on my lunch hour. We got a Kosher bird this year, since we realized that being kosher means none of the preservatives, msg, and assorted antibiotics that go into the factory farm birds. Next year I really have to think about it early enough to order an organic turkey from one of the local farms. Also on the menu will be: butternut squash, mashed red potatoes, candied carrots, apple pie, pumpkin pie, possibly a blueberry pie, stuffing, turnips, and who knows what else. Kath and I are splitting up the cooking duties and I'll send out the email to The Usual Suspects this weekend and see who has the holiday off from familial duties yet still wants to eat until they lie down.

I'm sure we can find a few...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mission accomplished... can I lie down now??

Random Acts was a blast. The plays that were turned in Friday evening were brillliant and very funny. I got paired up with a lady I know slightly, and a nice young man from Portsmouth whom I'd never met. Our director was a lady named Sherry whom I've known for a few years. She is just fabulous! The Mister, as usual, received an all-female cast. I don't know how he always manages it when the choices are totally random, but he does. ;-)

The plays were wonderful and we performed to an almost full house of 170. I am happy to announce that not only did I *not* throw up on stage, but apparently I also did not suck. ;-) I made my husband and my director proud, so I assume I did well. It certainly felt like I did well, and I had alot of fun swearing and stomping around on stage. Thank goodness for the stage lighting which makes it nearly impossible to see beyond the edge of the stage! LOL!

I even received congratulations and compliments from David, whose work I admire very much. That was quite a thrill. Maybe I'll even do this again... who knows?

In knitting news, I completed Tim's Hat, and here it is:

I ran out of the grey, so finished it off with the blue merl. He loves it.

On Wednesday we had a spinning circle at A Loom With A View, and I was give a loaner Fricke by an extremely generous Kathy, and here is what I did:

It's BFL from Spunky Eclectic in Sangria and I am completely in love with it. This is the first hank and it took me about 3.5 hours to spin. I'm hoping to start the second hank this week. If I'm lucky, The Mister will get a chance to work on the Babe before I'm ready to ply. ;-)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

My big stage debut announcement

The day is finally here. Random Acts. In which I promised I would act.

on stage

in front of people


Anyways, I promised, and I'm gonna do it. It will be fun. I just keep telling myself that. Fun.

Meanwhile, I want to throw up.

So, for those interested in such local theater things, or who just want to see me throw up on stage, here is the link to the event to be held this Saturday evening at the Firehouse Theater in Newburyport (scroll down a little). Even though it involves my discomfort, this is a great event held every year by the local theater folk. From the website:

Can a play be conceived, written, rehearsed, and produced in twenty-four hours? The answer is a resounding YES if Random Acts is any indication. Writers, actors, and directors are paired by a drawing from a hat on Friday evening. Then the fun begins. An all-nighter by the writers brings about the script, given to director and actors the next morning. One day of rehearsal and onto the stage it goes. Dress rehearsals go right down to the wire, and then up goes the curtain, Join in the fun and see what talent and a deadline can create!

The plays are always interesting and often funny, and Newburyport has an amazing pool of talent.

My inclusion this year notwithstanding.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Free at last, free at last!

They're finished. Finally.

Those Damned Felted Bags...

Saturday was spent finishing up the last little details, like buttons and crochet chain and such, so that I'd be free to attend Spunky Eclectic's Grand Opening on Sunday with a clear conscience. I don't have any shots of the festivities, so you'll have to take my word for it that it was awesome. Yummy snacks, loads of specials, a great crowd, and plenty of wheels to play with and fiber to fondle. The Mister was admirably tolerant, and I got a chance to meet the wheel of my dreams. I've decided - when the time is right, I must have a double treadle Schacht Matchless. It's sooooo dreamy! Just as smooth as can be and beautiful to boot. What more could one ask for?

I picked up some lovely rovings while I was there (of course, duh!)

4 oz of 50/50 Merino Tencel blend in Sailboat. Drool!

and 8 oz of BFL in Sangria. I had been torn between this color and getting more Kites until I saw it in person and fell in love. I still want to get more Kites, but this was just too warming and happy to turn away.

My poor car had a flat tire Sunday morning, so The Mister drove us up and back in his car. This left me plenty of time for knitting! Which is just what I needed to finish my Cheery Winter Raglan! Hooray!

Please keep in mind that I'm no Cheryl, and I hate having my picture taken, but The Mister said it would look stupid if I put the sweater onto my 1910 dressmaker's dummy. *shrugs*

I think this gives you a good idea of the amount of "frump" I built into this sweater. I wanted something loose and soft and warm for icky winter days stuck inside sipping hot tea and knitting. And I think I've succeeded rather well! Hooray me!

Now that my needles are basically naked, it's time, I think, to consider doing some small stash busting exercises. I have far too many single skeins of yarn. But God(dess) bless Ravelry - I was able to track down quite a number of small projects that are just too cute and too quick to pass up. I also found some new uses for yarn I had intended for something else. For example, last night I tried to swatch some beautiful sky blue Araucania Nature Wool to make the Dickinson Pullover from Fall's Interweave Knits. I say "tried" because it was utterly hopeless. The yarn is far too fine for the pattern. But when I did a little nosing around on Ravelry, I found that people had successfully used it to make Rogue, which is also on my short list of Must Knits! Huzzah! So I'm going to give that a try this evening and see if I have better luck. I also found that the two skeins of Joseph Galler Peruvian Tweed Alpaca I scored may make me one of Joan McGowan-Michael's bed jackets. I hadn't thought of trying it until I saw the one that margyzr had done. Lovely!

Ravelry truly is the devil... thank goodness! ;-)

Friday, November 2, 2007

Incoming Storm + Bare Tree =

I get my river view back with a bang!

This, which was remarkable all by itself....

Quickly turned into... this...

I love where I live! :-)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

When Spinning Tragedy Strikes

It's 9am on a rainy Saturday, so what the hell am I doing up blogging instead of staying abed with my new husband?

The Nice Men are here.

My landlord, God bless 'im, sent plumbers to finally, really and truly fix our pipes in the basement. Imagine, doing a load of laundry without mopping up water at the end of the cycle. Magic. I would have appreciated a phone call before The Nice Men arrived but hey, they're here. Quitcherbitchin. ;-)

The Spinning Tragedy

Last night I spun up the first singles of the Apple Butter yarn -

Not bad, eh? I'm very pleased! I showed it off to the intended recipient, Kath, and she was also pleased. Actual squealing was involved.

The tragedy part is that I rebroke the Babe. :-(

I think all the plying was too much for her. I had finished and plied the BFL, then finished and plied the Apple Butter, after which the wheel was definitely running funny. I poked her and oiled her, but she didn't feel quite right. I shrugged and started spinning up another spool of Apple Butter singles and we were really whizzing along! It was going great: yarn was appearing as if by magic - I was in the zone - and then....


Uh oh. Bad noise. Very bad.

A closer inspection revealed that she had re-injured that joint at the back. Classic athletic stress fracture, no? ;-)

Ah well. She taught me to spin and, really, what else could I ask from her?

With the weather as crappy as it is today, the Maine Alpaca Open Farm Day is out anyways, so a trip to Home Depot will probably be in order (and the yarn store, but I digress). If I can get The Mister up and moving in this gloom, I'm sure he can think of something. If nothing else, I realized this morning that the Babe contains all the parts he can't make to build me a wheel - the wheel, the rods, and the flyer assembly. Cool. So the saga continues.

The Babe is dead. Long live FrankenBabe!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

just keep spinning, just keep spinning...

The weather here has just been incredible. Warm, sunny - perfect fall weather!

This past weekend I spun with the ladies of Island Pond Spinners at Strawberry Banke. It was beautiful, and the weather was perfect - plenty of sunshine, and warm with just enough breeze to remind you it's October. What a place!

The ladies of IP Spinners were unfailingly gracious and generous with their time and their wheels! I got to try just about every wheel there - a Majacraft Suzie, Majacraft Rose, two different Saxony wheels (a single and a double treadle), and a Louet (was that a Victoria, Kelly? I forget!). I'd have to say that the Majacraft Suzie was my favorite. I spent most of the day spinning some more of the Apple Butter roving on it and it was a real delight. The Louet double treadle was also very very nice to spin on. I did not love the Rose, nor the Saxony style wheels - but it was fun to try them and I know alot more about what I like and don't like than I did before. For example, I now know that I prefer a double over a single treadle, and a taller over a shorter wheel. Right now, the Majacraft is my favorite, but I am a little concerned about the composite wheel. I'll have to do some more research, but I'm never crazy about fiber board, even if it is a very nice fiber board. I worry about what would happen if it should get wet; a distinct possibility given that I live in New England and love to spin outdoors. I'd still like to try a Ladybug after finally seeing a photo of one. The wheel is plastic, which I loathe, but the reviews are good.

Here is a photo of the ladies and their gear set up under the maples. At this point in the day, we were playing Musical Wheels.

I did do some spindle spinning as well, which mesmerized any husbands that walked by. Something about a spindle really draws them in...

But the best thing that's happened since last week is this:

I'm so friggin' proud of this yarn.

I finished, and plied, the BFL I bought from Amy at Spunky Eclectic when I picked up the Babe. I did all the spinning on the Babe, as well as the plying, and I must say, not only do I love love lurve this yarn and the colorway, but plying is a BLAST! I put chopsticks into the first hole on either side of the base, divided up the singles as best I could based on weight, and just went at it. Seeing the singles turning into actual, real yarn, right there in front of me... wow. It was quite a thrill. I think I'm actually getting pretty okay at this wheel spinning thing. ;-) I ended up with about 93 yards of bulky weight yarn - not too shabby. I have absolutely no idea what I'm going to knit with it, but knit it I shall! And soon!

Some knitting also happened. As you can see, I finished A Sock (no suprise there, right?)

I did love the toe-up thing, and the short rows look pretty good, but picking up and knitting those double wrapped stitches about killed me. Fortunately I have a crocket hook that's about the right size. I used that to do it instead of the knitting needle, then just picked the finished stitch up off the crochet hook and onto the needle. Fiddley, and annoying, but it made the impossible possible, and that's all I was looking for. Julia assured me at knitting circle that there is a way to knit toe up and flap heel at the same time, thereby avoiding at least one set of double wrapped stitches. I will of course take her word for it and wait patiently for enlightenment. ;-)

Also, I made some very good progress on the Cheery Winter Raglan, finishing the body and making it almost all the way down one arm.

I'm going to have plenty of yarn left over, so I'm very relieved. I'm always afraid I've underestimated. But it's taking just a bit over one skein per arm, so I'll most likely end up with two full skeins when I'm finished. Hurrah!

And best of all - I finished those damned bags! *cue trumpets* There's still the i-cords and end weaving and felting to be done, but all that dead boring knitting is over. I will admit, they came out super cute, and once the landlord fixes the plumbing (again) and it's safe for me to run the washer, I'll felt them up and post a photo of the pile of them.

Hey, if they don't sell, at least I won't have to do any Holiday shopping. ;-) heh.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Spinning, and knitting, in public

Knitting in Public
Today was all about the KIP. The Mister had a meeting this morning down at Panera Bread, so I tagged along and set myself up in a corner seat far from the action and laid out all my tools of the trade - crochet hook, large capucchino, US5 double points, scrap yarn, directions, Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns, a croissant, and two skeins of Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Watermelon - then got right down to the business of wrestling my Sock Issue to the ground.

And I succeeded.


The key, as The Lady Wyvern kindly pointed out to me some months ago, is the size of the needles. I am not a size 1 person. No indeed. I need at least a 4, but no more than a 9, to find my comfort level. So the Shine Worsted is perfect. The suggestion for this yarn is US6, but I've heard that for socks you should go down one size, so US5 it is. I love this yarn far more than a cotton blend deserves. There is something about the softness of it, and the beautiful colors it comes in, that really gets to me. I've been collecting up pairs of skeins of this yarn for socks for months now.

I also think it helped that I went with Amy Swenson's Universal Toe-up Sock Formula from Knitty. The toe-up is the only way to go. And the math, and the instructions in general, were easy to understand and follow. I even went a little crazy and found a braided rib pattern to add to it so I wouldn't get bored. And it worked. I can't put this project down!
Spinning in Public

Tomorrow I am joining some of the ladies up at Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth to do some public spinning. I'm bringing my Ashford spindle and that delectable merino/silk roving, as well as a small quantity of wool roving that a friend needs spun up and plied. But the real story is that I'll be given the opportunity to play with a Louet Victoria! Hooray! Kelly started this "sampling" by letting me sit at her wheel for awhile on Thursday night, and it's amazing what a difference a "real" wheel makes. I took the Babe with me, and did spin on it quite a bit, but it is what it is. She's noisy in a squeaky, plasticky way that is quite different from the wooden creaks and sighs that come out of the fancier wheel. But thanks to Cheryl's unflagging enthusiasm for mechanical objects (or possibly just spinning wheels) we determined that not only was the wheel not turning as easily as it could (hello oil!) but the pedal could be moved from where it was, on the left, to a more comfortable position on the right. This made a huge difference in my ability to treadle with a more regular rhythm. And with those adjustments, I was finally able to spin a fine (for me) yarn that, when plied, will give me a sort of light worsted.


I think I'm still underspinning the yarn, but it's a lot better. Maybe soon I'll be able to increase my ratio...

Yeah, listen to me, using spinning lingo like I have any clue what I'm talking about. Feh. ;-)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

SP11 Package #2

After a long and aggravating day at work, what could be better than finding a Priority Mail box on your porch?


The tags read "eye candy" and "pet me". Hmmmm... sounds like my kinda stuff! ;-)

Open it! Open it already!!

A spinning package! There are not enough "e"s in SQUEEEEEE!!!!!!! to let you know how happy this package makes me! There is the Fall issue of Spin Off magazine, which the ladies were just telling me that I must subscribe to. After a quick glance at the interior, I know why. Wow!

Then there's the fondling material. Oo la la! 4 oz of 80% merino 20% silk roving in the color "lichen". Not only is the color awesome and perfect, but the feel of this stuff is just exquisite. I'm thinking this will be spun on the spindle so I can prolong the joy. Then there's something special for my tiny handmade spindle - 4 oz of cultivated silk top. Incredible. This stuff is almost too good to put down. You just want to roll around in it nekkid. But, you'll be happy to know I confined myself to an extended cuddle. ;-)

My pal is super. I mean, she is just made of awesome. Thank you thank you thank you! You make me want to be a better Pal. :-)

Now it's on with my lone handknit sock, and off to spinning night to show off my bounty to the jealous masses!


Sunday, October 14, 2007

O yes I can SPIN!

By Saturday we had the wheel repaired to everyone's satisfaction and it works great! It took a little fiddling, and I learned the importance of ratio, but yarn did happen. There was cursing, foot stomping (yes, I am a frustration stamper), and threats to definistrate the machine altogether, but after a break and a walk around the block, I went back to the box of spare parts and found a much larger spool. That did the trick. And now, I give you, my first yarn spun on a spinning wheel...

It's handpainted BFL from Spunky Eclectic and although I don't think I did it justice, I don't think it's half bad, do you? :-)

This is actually the second spool. The first is not as nice as it was during the ratio learning curve part of the experience. ;-) So I'll spare you that one. lol!

Going shoeless helped, as did taking heed of all Kelly's excellent advice. Thank you so much! I am sitting back in my chair now and I am working about two feet from the orifice. The other trick is to predraft the dickens out of the fiber. It made it so much easier to coordinate my feet and my hands. That part was a little embarassing, I must admit: I'm a biker! I drive a stickshift car! How could it be possible that I can't work my feet and both hands at the same time??? Geez!

I'm not giving up my drop spindles, but this is definately a quicker way to spin up a quantity of yarn. It requires more attention than drop spindling, and it's a little less portable, but I think I really like it.

I have one other piece of knitting news to add, then I've gotta go finish helping cook dinner (hubby is in charge of a big pork roast tonight!). This is especially for my Secret Pal...

I couldn't resist - I cast on for Bee Fields this morning. I made it all the way through the set up rows (although it took me 4 tries to get it right!). It's awesome.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I love autumn so much!

This time of year I just love where I live.

The leaves are just starting to turn...

And soon, the boats will be coming out of the water for the winter, but for now, they're still a handsome sight out there on the river...

While the leaves are just getting going, the marsh grass is going at it in style. Don't you just love the color?

I'm optimistic that the weather will clear over the weekend and I can get some less gloomy shots.

In the meantime, here's something distinctly more cheery - this week's delivery from Boston Organics. They deliver fresh-to-your-door organic fruit and veg and assorted sundries. And autumn is when the service really shines...

And now for the knitting/spinning content, lookee the spindle I made! There was a discussion on the Spindlers group on Ravelry about making your own spindle with an old knitting needle... a trip to the local bead shop later and I give you, my fine .4 oz spindle:

That's a bamboo US6 knitting needle, an etched bone disc, and a very pretty glass bead. Viola! Now to order me some of those fancy fibers I've been lusting after - silk hankies, soy silk, bamboo, etc. Wheee!