Tuesday, November 29, 2005

No Mo Fo-To?

Lately I've been trying to have at least one photo per blog post, because I find blogs are just more interesting than plain text when they include pictures.

However, I'm out of town for work this week, so no home-grown pictures to post on the blog 'til I get home later in the week. I don't typically bring my digital camera on the road with me because I don't check luggage when I travel for work, and there just ain't-no-room for one-more-thing in my two carry-ons, (excuse me -- "ONE carry-on and ONE small personal item, which may be a purse, backpack or computer case"). Plus, I'm afraid it would get damaged with the constant jostling. Which is silly, because the darn thing is already damaged -- the zoom is broken. So, I'm now in a quandary about whether to pay the several hundred dollars it will take to get it fixed, (plus relinquishing it to the vagueries of shipping during the holiday season), or to just throw in the towel and upgrade to a digital SLR.

I used to be a serious photography nut. Took several classes in college -- several black & white darkroom classes, a color darkroom class, a few seminars, a history of photography class, etc., and really enjoyed all of that. That was back before anyone ever heard of digital cameras. My trusty high school graduation gift, a Minolta XG-A, did all the heavy lifting for me. As with every hobby (obsession) of mine, I started buying tons of books and magazines on the subject, and fantasizing about being a professional at it and having my own darkroom. I bought a bunch of lenses, took tons of pictures, and then as has happened with so many of my hobbies and interests, it fell by the wayside. (I often wonder if I have Adult ADD). I think it was all the hassle of dealing with the film, having to buy it, then take it to get developed, then remember to go back sometime later and pick up the prints, (and pay for THAT too), etc. This girl -- who pays all her bills online so she doesn't have to deal with stamps and checks and envelopes and return address labels -- this girl hates unnecessary hassle. (Okay, I'm lazy).

And then I got the digital. I bought the best on the market, (at the time), because I didn't want to have to deal with a piece of junk. I've loved the instant gratification of it, (shocking, I know), and have had a ball with it. But three-and-a-half years later, it's now a piece of junk, compared to what it once was and to what's available now. Perhaps junk is a little harsh, but you get the picture. (No pun intended). It don't work right.

And so, I'm torn. Fix the old one? Or get a snazzy new one with all kinds of new and nifty features? What to do. What to do. Hmmmmmm................

(Could this possibly be the longest ever blog post about photography that contains no photos whatsoever?)

Monday, November 28, 2005

Free Yarn

An early Christmas gift from me, (okay, from Bernat), to you. That's right. That's not a typo. Free. You can thank me later. But this ain't your beloved Noro, or hand-spun cashmere/silk/alpaca:

And keep in mind the terms & conditions of the offer. But who's gonna turn up their nose at the free stuff? Not me, that's for sure! (It's even in the color family I so love!) And if my non-knitter mother just happens to sign up for a ball as well, and then just happens to give me hers, well, who's gonna care? ;-)

Sunday, November 27, 2005


What is that, you say? Why, it is yet another geeky hobby of mine, perhaps even geekier and more spinster-ish than knitting, if that's possible.

About a year ago I got turned on to collecting vintage and antique postcards of my hometown, which is steeped in history. I get a particular kick out of seeing old postcards of buildings I'm intimately familiar with -- (I've eaten there, I've worked there, I've shopped there) -- with horse-and-buggies or Model-T's parked out front. Reminds me that this town had a significant and interesting history long before I showed up.

The danger of this hobby is that, there is so much out there that, you could get sucked in and, next thing you know, your house is chock full, floor-to-ceiling, front-to-back, side-to-side, wall-to-wall, with postcards. And so, you must specialize. And so far, I've been good at keeping it to just a shoebox full of a few towns that I'm very familiar with -- the town where I was born, town where I grew up, town where I went to college, town where my ancestors hailed from.

But yesterday, I discovered that there's another nitch I may get sucked into, which is vintage knitting postcards.

So, I'm thinking I may need to get a bigger house! ;-)

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Knitting Heritage


It pays to ask the right questions. All this time I thought I inherited my love for knitting solely from my maternal grandmother, who was heavy into crochet, tatting, quilting, sewing, and did some knitting, too, although mom tells me that crochet was more Grandma's thing. While at Mom & Dad's house for Thanksgiving on Thursday, however, I found out that my paternal grandmother was a crazy-busy knitter herself, so much so that she earned a medal for it.

Grandmére, as we called her, was born & raised in France. She met my grandfather, (Grandpére, as we called him, although he was American born), when he was sent to Paris as an Army 2nd Lieutenant and put in charge of airplane procurement during WWI. As Grandmére described it, airplane procurement was like discovering the West -- there were no airplane factories in the 'teens. "Procurement" was a matter of finding small firms who would manufacture one part or another and getting these parts together until they made a plane. Grandmére had taken a position in the building assigned to that job, which is how she met my grandfather. They married & honeymooned in France in March of 1919 and moved to the U.S. after the war.

Grandmére came through Ellis Island, as a matter of fact.

Later, during early WWII, but before American involvement, Grandmére led the local British war relief efforts in their Indiana town. My dad remembers her "knitting, knitting, knitting" all the time. And lo and behold, I found this photo of her yesterday, which warmed my heart:

Check it out -- even though she hailed from the Continent, she was a thrower -- I'm so glad to see that, since I'm a thrower, too. Perhaps that was in honor of the Brits she was knitting for....

Later, after the war, she was recognized for her efforts:

I don't know if she ever did receive the actual medal, but no matter. I'm pleased and proud of her all the same, and am thrilled that I come by my newfound love of knitting honestly!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Mo' maps

Have you seen the "Map Yourself" section over there in my sidebar? It has two very cool mapping services.

First, my Frappr map, where you can post a "pin" at your (relative) geographical location (by zipcode in the U.S.) with your picture and a "shout-out" on it. Frappr is currently all the rage in the knit-blogging world, and I, too, am loving it.

More recently I stumbled upon the ClustrMaps hit-counter, which will not only automatically count the number of visitors to my blog, but will also pinpoint them geographically for me. (Don't worry - it doesn't give me names or exact locations, so your anonymity and privacy are ensured. It just puts a red dot for a visitor's general location on a world map.) I think it's way cool. I had a few visitors from Europe yesterday -- Hola, Hallo, Ciao, Cheerio, and Bonjour!

Anyway, if you're reading this, then thank you for visiting my blog. You've just been added anonymously to my ClustrMap. I hope you'll add yourself to my Frappr map, and if you do, please post your blog's URL!

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I love a parade!

There is nothing like a small town parade. Sunday was the 36th annual Ashland/Hanover Olde Time Holiday Parade. Ashland, who unashamedly refers to itself as the "Center of the Universe*", is a charming whistlestop college town just north of the Richmond metro area. Residents are so proud of their cherished small town atmosphere that their tenuous but ultimately unsuccessful fight to keep out big box stores like Walmart became a national story followed by PBS a few years ago.

Sunday brought perfect parade weather, and SIL Jenny & I had unobstructed curb-side seats, where we chatted and knitted when there were lulls in the parade. Brother Pat and his three children were in the parade, walking with or riding their tribe's Indian Guides / Indian Princesses float along the parade route:

Pat is the adult walking & waving on the far left. My cutie-pie nephew Will is the boy on the float on the far right.

Nieces Emma & Sarah, the Indian Princesses, on that same float.

And it wouldn't be a parade without:

The Gospel Chickenhouse Band

Scottish Bagpipers

The Acca Temple mini-cars

What was even more amusing was the mini-car tow truck breaking down right in front of us and having to be pushed to the side of the road:

We must have been in the unlucky spot, because another antique car broke down in front of us later in the parade. Didn't get a picture of that, though.

My favorite car in the parade:

Jenny & I thought this looked like "Mr. Godsey's truck" from the Waltons, although this model is probably a little too early for that era.

Nephew Will's favorite is the Herbie car:

The kids got to watch the rest of the parade after their float got to the end:


(* for another interesting view of the universe, go here.)

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Faux Thanksgiving


As mentioned previously, as per tradition for the past (gosh, has it been that long?) 25 years, we held our big family Thanksgiving 5 days early, this past Saturday, at my brother's home. Ever since my siblings started marrying off and wanted to have "their own family traditions" on the actual holidays, we've not celebrated a holiday on its actual day since I was a teenager. Which is all fine and dandy if you have a family of your own with which to celebrate the holiday on the actual day, but can be somewhat depressing when you're single. But I digress.

Anyway, good food and fun was had by all. And I gave my SIL her hand-knitted "Autumn Rush" birthday scarf about 10 days early, so that she could wear it while it was still technically Autumn and not look out of place when people start wearing their red & green Christmas garments.

Here is my nephew wearing the scarf in a way I'd never imagined:

Swami Ben

Monday, November 21, 2005

Like, tubular, man....


I love Carol Duvall's craft show. I don't do 99% of the crafts demonstrated on that show, but it's still fun to watch all the rubber stamping and polymer clay crafts. And every once in awhile she throws in some knitting, like she did today, which is like serendipity. And I learned a new technique from her today -- tube knitting! Great for someone like me who is more comfortable with straights than with DPNs or circulars, at this stage of my inexperience. She made a felted cell phone holder, (or purse, depending on how much or little you felted it):

Once again, Carol Duvall rocks!

Comfort food.

When the weather looks like this:

...there's nothing like a crock pot full of fixin's for my homemade split pea soup:


(post a comment if you want the recipe)


Update: Here's a picture of the completed soup:


Saturday, November 19, 2005

Movie Hand-Knits

Last night, after a long, tiring week, I crawled into bed early and watched "The Santa Clause 2" on Encore. I'd seen it before, and at the time thought it was a cute movie, and I was in the mood for some escapism, so settled under the warm covers with one of my cats for nice comfy, self-indulgent movie watch. The thing is, I had seen this movie BK, that is, Before Knitting. Watching it as a knitter, however, is a whole 'nother thing entirely! Since the movie is set in the Northern Hemisphere in December, (winter), in a northern climate, there are hand-knits on almost every character, in almost every scene of the movie. (A sight for sore eyes, since we just got past a 75+ degree heat wave here in the mid-Atlantic in November. It's supposed to be cold in November! Why did I move home from Hawaii if it's going to be warm here in near-winter? But, it's cold now, finally.) So, anyway, better than that, the characters are wearing different hand-knits in different scenes of the movie. A feast for the knitter's eyes. I was in heaven!

Feast your eyes on these:

I love this cap for several reasons:
1) It's in maroon & gold, so could conceivably be worn at a Redskins game. (Hail!)
2) It's worn by the cutest kid in Hollywood. Granted, he's probably 18 by now, but when he premiered in the original "The Santa Clause" movie, he was about six years old and you could eat him with a spoon, he was so adorable. And strangely, at that age, he reminded me of my niece, who was about the same age and had very similar features (big brown eyes, cute smile) and coloring. He's growing up nicely, too. I hope we'll see more of him in future movies.

Another cute-as-pie kid in this movie, and she also seemed to be wearing different hand-knits in every scene. Check out that cool scarf she's wearing.

Alot of the movie characters wore these hats with the flaps -- also cool (and warm, too, we can only hope).

All the elves, (except for the tall teenager elf, strangely enough), wear hand-knits in this movie. And not just any hum-drum hand-knits. They're fair-isle and intarsia, all skillfully made. Kudos to the knitters!

A neat set of fingertip-less gloves and matching scarf worn by the Curtis character in this movie. Again, nicely knitted.

Kudos to this movie's costume designer for a job well done!

Now, go out and rent this movie and indulge your eyes!

Today is another premature holiday for my family, who can never, ever celebrate a holiday on the actual day. And so, five days early, we're having Thanksgiving at my brother's house, and two of my three out-of-town sisters are coming with their families. Terry's family can't make it this year (sob!), but we'll see them on non-Christmas, whose date has yet to be decided, but may end up being mid-week between Christmas & New Year's.

Finally, thanks to the two folks who have visited my Frappr map so far and posted pins on it! Yay! Thanks to the venerable (and very pregnant) Kate, from Montreal, (designer of the ever-popular clapotis pattern, which I hope to knit someday!) ;-) And to Tammy of Midlothian - thanks for stopping by, too! Do you have a blog? If so, let me know and I'll visit! Do you go to Stitch-n-Bitch? If you're like me, it's just a bit too far to drive out to Short Pump. We really need to start one on the Southside....

Happy Weekend, everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving, family!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

And yet another novelty yarn scarf....

Take one ball of Lane Borgogesia's "Tibet" in shade #3:

Add a ball of Berroco Crystal FX "Cryptonite" (#4704) --

(it's really a slate green and not purpley like it appears here in incandescent light):

Carry together, cast on 10 stitches on US size 15 needles, knit every row:

And you get this:
A close-up:

...which will be a Christmas gift for one of my friends (who likes green). I had to put aside the teal scarf knitting because (a) it's for me, which means it needs to wait until after Christmas, and (b) I only have one pair of size 15 needles. But I'm eyeing it longingly....

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Delayed vs. Instant Gratification

If you read this post from last week, then you'll know that I love teal. And after salivating over both of the knitted items mentioned there, I ordered yarn for both.

The Pound Cake scarf kit at Knitting Garden is out of stock and back-ordered. They tell me they'll be getting more in within a week or so. (Delayed gratification #1)

The yarn I ordered for the Berroco Bora Bora scarf -- the Optik "Peacock" # 4930 -- is discontinued. I got an email from the folks I originally ordered it from, saying they were out of stock but would look around for me. I don't hold out much hope. (Delayed gratification #2)

However, after some fierce Googling and many inquiries, I think I have found and purchased the one and only remaining hank of Optik Peacock in all of yarndom. It is a precious thing, indeed.
(Semi-instant Gratification #1)

It came last week by mail.
Here it is after I wound it into a ball:

I was so excited after receiving it, along with the Berroco Crystal FX "Caribe" I bought off ebay:

that I couldn't resist "cheating" on my other WIP's and starting to knit up my version of "Bora Bora".

(Semi-instant Gratification #2)

Here 'tis, so far:

And a close-up of the purty knitting:

12 stitches cast on US size 15 needles. Carry both yarns together. Knit every row.

Yay! :-)

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Frappr -- definitely not an original idea...

... on my part, but I love it, and it's definitely worth "borrowing", (okay, stealing):

The lovely ladies at Mason-Dixon Knitting initiated the furor on Friday, and then it was adopted by Rachael and then the Keyboard Biologist, and I'm guessing it has spread all across blog-land by now. I know I don't have the readership those other blogs have, but that's okay - we all have to start somewhere, and so, if the occasional blog-reader stops by, I'd love to know where they're from. If you're a visitor, please go here and put a pin in the map, send a shout-out, and share your blog's URL, if you have one. Thanks!

Who Wouldn't Love a Handknitted Gift?!

That's the name of the new knitalong that Alison has created for those of us furiously knitting for Christmas or other holiday gifts. Nice idea, Alison -- thanks!

And here's the button:

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Not knitting, but shout-out worthy

My SIL Jenny competed in and finished the local marathon today, and shaved five minutes off of her previous record. Besides teaching me how to knit, this is also an incredibly impressive feat on her part. ;-)

Way to go, Jen!!!

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Never thought I'd become one of THOSE people....

...you know, the ones who are apathetically undecided. But this election season I found myself unsure as to which gubernatorial candidate I disliked more, and was stressing out because I'd yet to make a decision on who was going to get my vote. And the nasty, negative TV ads weren't helping, either. Then I woke up yesterday morning and said to myself, "Self? You know what? I don't like either candidate so I'm not going to vote for either one."

And so, for the first time in my adult life, I didn't vote. And I felt nothing but relief. I get the feeling that a lot of folks stayed away from the polls for the very same reason.

Oh well - color me unpatriotic, or un-civic minded or something. Perhaps we'll have better choices 4 years from now.

Meanwhile, I'm almost done with the 3x2 ribbing on the chemo cap I'm knitting, so I'll soon get to switch to just straight knitting in the round for about four inches - yay! And then the decreases start and I'll have to switch to scary DPNs at some point. That's when I'll make another trip to my favorite LYS for a little help. My ribbing is pretty sad looking, I must admit -- there are a few holes, I think I've dropped a stitch or two, and despite my overzealous addition of stitch markers every 5 stitches, I've no doubt mixed up the knits and purls in a few places, but you know what? I don't care -- I think (hope) the fuzziness of the yarn, which has made this such a pain in the a$$ challenge for me, will hide all of that anyway.

If I do finish this cap and am not too ashamed of it, I'll be giving it to its intended recipient, and I think I'll put it in a little box and then wrap the box with this, which I ordered yesterday and which has already shipped. And so, even if she doesn't like the cap, she might like the scarf. I can only hope.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

How a remedial knitter knits her first cap

1) Make a thousand stitch markers out of spare yarn:

2) Cast on 60 stitches on straight needles one size larger than the circulars required in the pattern. Place stitch marker every 5 stitches because counting past 5 is not possible when you're an attention-deficit knitter:

3) Transfer stitches to circulars and beginning knitting 3x2 ribbing according to pattern.

I'm just mad about Saffron...

...or at least the source of saffron:

These cheery little day-brighteners have been popping up in my garden for the past week. They are autumn crocuses I planted at least five years ago and have forgotten about, because they don't seem to come up every year. They sure have this year, though, despite the terrible drought we had in late summer, and despite my terrible neglect.

As you may or may not know, autumn crocuses (and not their spring counterparts) are the one-and-only source of the coveted spice saffron, which is why it is so expensive. Saffron is actually made of the stamens of autumn crocuses - those orange string-like things in the middle of the flower. Every year I think maybe I should go collect all those stamens, but I just can't make myself deface such a happy little flower. So I let them wither away. I'm probably throwing away a good $100 a year by not collecting them. Oh well. Perhaps I'd be more apt to collect them if I were more of a cook and was really into that spice. I think I've only eaten something seasoned with saffron once in my life, and I don't recall that I could detect anything particularly special. Of course, I don't have the most sophisticated of palates, either.

And speaking of neglect, there's a few more pictures of these happy autumn surprises on my much-neglected gardening blog.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Recent Stash Enhancement Acquisitions...

...or "S.E.A.'s", as they are otherwise referred to herein.

First -- an impulse buy at the check-out counter of my favorite LYS, thinking it would make a nice greenish scarf for one of my friends who says green is her fav color:
It is Crystal Palace "Iceland", 100% wool, Color: 9573 Ultramarine, Lot A. 109 yards, 2.5-3.5 sts/inch on size 10.5-13 needles.

Upon further rumination, I felt this might be a bit too bulky for my friend, so am setting it aside for something (??) else. I love the colors, so whatever it ends up being, I'll love. A hat, maybe?

And so, this Tuesday while out of town for work I picked up this yarn at that town's one-and-only LYS:
This is very green yarn - even greener than it appears in this picture. I guess "kelly" green might be the closest descriptor I can think of. It is Baruffa Lane Borgosesia's "Tibet", color: 3, Lot 9045, ~110 yards, 56% Mohair, 14% Virgin Wool, 30% Acrylic, and suggests knitting on size 7-8 needles. (Can't figure out the gauge from the tag, though). It has little poofs of various other colors on a thread carried along with the green. I've tried Googling to find out more about this yarn, but have come up with nothing about it except the Italian manufacturer's website, (which has an interesting little article about pilling, by the way), which makes me think the yarn I purchased has been discontinued for awhile, probably because that color is just too darn green. I'm thinking it could be toned down a bit if carried along with something else....

Next -- yarn for a fun scarf for my niece's 16th birthday in January:
She loves pink and orange, (she painted her bedroom walls bright orange and has pink accents all around her room), and the Dawn yarn on the left has some orange puffballs mixed in with the varying shades of pink. The yarn on the right is "Apart" by GGH, a very soft and furry matte eyelash to be carried along with it. The LYS had a display version of these knitted together (although different colors) which was incredibly fun to touch. I think Jess will like the finished version, if I ever get to it. I need to get cracking, though -- her birthday is New Year's Day and I have a couple of other things to knit ahead of her item.

And remember this? Well, I still need to frog it and start over, and then I'm going to carry it along with some dark teal GGH "Apart", like Jessica's scarf, (above).
This scarf may end up being for me, unless I decide there's someone else who might like it. In any case, I won't be dealing with this until after the holidays.

Awhile back I acquired some pink Berroco "Chichilla" to attempt my first chemo cap, (my first cap of any kind), for the lovely lady mentioned previously. She's now had two rounds of chemo and is now officially "ready" for her cap, and yet, (shame on me), I've not gotten very far with it, as evidenced below:
When I attempted to start it at home, I got frustrated immediately trying to cast on the required number of stitches. I took it to the nice ladies at Lettuce Knit, who let me sit and knit with them for almost two hours, and as you can see, I still didn't get very far. At the end of that third row, we ended up with two extra stitches. I'm also sure that I got the stitch count for the 3x2 ribbing off, and so I'm going to yank this thing out and start over. I want to finish it this week, by God! The trouble with this yarn is that because it is a fuzzy chenille, it's really hard to see your stitches. This makes the process of knitting in the round for this newbie that much more difficult. I think I'm going to be sitting in the remedial knitting circle for a long time to come. That's okay, though - I still enjoy it. But it'll be years before I can knit anything as nice as other folks do.

After staring dreamily at the picture all day yesterday, I caved and bought the kit for this, which should be coming within the week. It'll be hard to keep my itchy fingers off of that project before the holidays.

And, true to my word, I bought some Berroco yarn on ebay for this. Interestingly enough, the Optik colorway recommended in the pattern is Millefleur,
which to my eye doesn't have any green, greenish-blue or teal in it, so all of the teal color for that "Bora Bora" scarf must come from the Crystal FX "Caribe", apparently. I couldn't find any "Millefleur" on ebay anyway, so I instead purchased two hanks of "Tiffany", which are much more pleasing to my eye and should make an even more beautiful scarf when all is said and done.

Here's Tiffany:

I love the purples in it.

But after surfing around, I found an even prettier Optik colorway called "Peacock". Anytime anything is given a color name of "Peacock", I know I'm going to like it. It is discontinued and I could only find one on-line yarn store selling it, so of course I had to buy some! Check out these Peacock colors:

These colors are so me. And they are eye candy. I am thrilled beyond reason to be getting this.

Optik comes with 87 yards to the hank, whereas the Crystal FX carry-along yarn for "Bora Bora" comes with 146 yards, so since I'm getting two balls of the Crystal FX 'Caribe':

I can probably carry it along with both Tiffany and Peacock, and create two lovely scarves in the tradition of the "Bora Bora" scarf.

I can hardly wait!