Long Update

So, folks, do you miss my blog as much as I do? (That’s a rhetorical question, really.) The poor thing has been broken for almost 18 months. It keeps reverting back to the same post from September 2010 as if nothing had happened since then, and for whatever reason, it’s just eating up bandwidth. And even more recently, the layout of the page has pretty much disappeared. If you go into the Archive, however, or to any specific post, everything looks normal.

I’m not a web designer, as you know, and I don’t know how to fix this. I’m assuming it’s been hacked at some point, but have no clue what to do to make it right. And so Chappysmom just sits here, alone and lonely. (And, ironically, still being paid for by me to the webhosting company that threatens me with shutting it down because of using too much bandwidth. Ah, the irony, when I’ve barely been able to use my own site for a year. But that just reinforces my assumption that I’ve somehow been hacked.

Meantime … life goes on. You just haven’t heard about it.

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Chappy is well and happy. Cute and adorable as ever. He’s ten and a half now, if you’ve lost count. Playful, eager to get out for walks, but taking his napping more seriously these days. He was depressed around Christmas when his best friend, Horatio, died suddenly. They’ve known each other since they were puppies and even though they hadn’t seen each other in a while, they were still best friends.

My niece graduated from college in December. My nephew is a freshman in college. I don’t know how they got so big. Mom and Dad are well, if dealing with a few more aches and pains these days. They both had “big” birthdays this year, too. (You know, the kind that end with 5 and 0, but I don’t want to get in trouble with Mom by telling you what the digit before her 0 was.) She and I will be going into NY one of these days very soon as her birthday present from me, because she loves the city. She’s also willingly tagged along with me a couple times, for Vogue Knitting Live in January, and to see the Harry Potter exhibit with Jessalu in September.

We’ve been having crazy weather. Not extreme, exactly. No, you couldn’t call it that. This is one of the mildest winters I can remember, but we had almost a full quota of snow in OCTOBER when we got 18″ of the stuff the day before Halloween. That was simply tragic. We’d had an usually warm autumn, too, so half the trees hadn’t even changed color yet, forget about dropping their leaves. Then, add 18″ of wet, heavy snow on top of that and, well, disaster. We lost power for 5 days (which has never happened before), and my entire town shut down for days because there were so many roads blocked and power lines down.

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It absolutely decimated the trees. I have never, EVER seen so many huge trees down, or so many branches. Truly heartbreaking.

And that, of course, was just two months after Hurricane Irene in August which flooded the entire downtown. We’ve got a river running through, and there are spots that flood in big storms. That’s not uncommon, but we’ve NEVER had the entire downtown washed out before. Ever. In the history of the town. I’ve never seen anything like it.

On the plus side, I’ve also never seen anything like the community response, either. I’ve been so very proud of my town. People opened their homes to neighbors who were washed out, and they knocked themselves out trying to help the businesses that were washed out. I think there’s only one that didn’t make it back at all, and one–a gourmet Italian deli/shop–hasn’t quite opened again yet. Some of those shops lost everything, so the fact that they were able to pull it together to open again at all is impressive. (This includes the LYS, Nonna’s Yarn Cafe.) There have been follow-up articles in the paper about how my town is practically the poster child for exactly how a community SHOULD respond to a disaster, so that’s kind of nice.

Let’s see. Oh yeah, there’s been knitting, too.

When’s the last time I showed you any knitting? I mean, the last “real” post that wasn’t just a reading list was last JUNE, for heaven’s sake, and I’ve definitely done some knitting since then!

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I finished my EZ Green Cardigan, which I kind of love and wear often.

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I knitted a pair of boot toppers for the Juniper Moon Farm trunk show last Fall, too. The yarn is to die for.

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Then there’s the Deco sweater (by Kate Davies), which I love so much words can’t even say. It’s knit in Spud & Chloe “Fine” in the Goldfish color which I adore. Its gold-orange-yellow color is one of my favorites. (And kind of reminds me of my bedroom-that-was, too. And my new teapot.) LOVE this sweater.

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I made a lap afghan out of Plymouth Encore in green and gray. This is an early photo, but I kept going until it was about 3′ square. Perfect lap size, very cuddly. And it was delightfully mindless knitting.

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Made a pair of slippers for the Juniper Moon Farm design contest. (Actually, I made the first pair for my sister for Christmas and THEN knit a second pair to submit to the contest.)

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Chappy likes them, which counts for a lot.

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Made a scarf (back when I thought the winter would be cold enough that I’d actually NEED one). It’s green to match my new coat which I bought to match the FABULOUS alpaca hat I got from Rhinebeck as a birthday present. (Because, oh yeah, I turned 45 in November.) This was Cascade Venezia yarn and I loved working with it. Loved the olive-green color, too, and keep thinking what a nice sweater it would make.

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Except, my yarn stash is big enough to be going on with, don’t you think?

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Made an “Austin Hoodie” out of Madelinetosh yarn (in Vanilla Bean, which may be one of my favorite colors), though I left off the hood. I never wear them anyway. Love the way the sweater turned out, though, and am particularly pleased with the accenting/coordinating zipper.

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Finally.

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FINALLY. A Hyrna Herborgar shawl, in Juniper Moon Farm Findley. (Which is also an amazing yarn. Wool and silk with a gorgeous sheen, but which actually cooperates, which Zephyr never did.)

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And, currently, working on a Log Cabin afghan, using Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool from my stash. (Every sweater I’ve ever made with this has grown disastrously as soon as I’ve washed it, but I still love the stuff. So … afghan is perfect.) (And, some of the brighter colors were generously contributed by a Ravelry friend who was destashing.)

Oh, and my sister cross-stitched this adorable little Chappy for me. I charted it from one of my favorite pictures of him, romping in our backyard-that-was. Isn’t it sweet? I keep it next to my computer and it makes me smile every time I see it. (But then, Chappy does that.)

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In current television obsessions, now that CHUCK is gone (it finished its 5th and final season January 27th), and now that DOWNTON ABBEY has finished its second season … I’m obsessing on SHERLOCK. Have I mentioned before how much I adore Sherlock?

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s the BBC show by Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat (the team behind the current Doctor Who). It sets Sherlock Holmes in modern day London and it’s BRILLIANT. Absolutely wonderful. Season 1, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, aired in 2010, and season 2 just aired in England last month. It’s so delicious and so addictive, I ordered a multi-region DVD player just so I could order the DVD set when it came out on January 23rd so I wouldn’t have to wait until May when it airs here on PBS. (Yes, MAY. Don’t ask me why it’s 4 agonizing months later. It’s just cruel.)

There are only a total of 6 episodes, but they’re each an hour and a half long, so it’s really more like 6 films, and they’re just wonderful. I was hugely skeptical–Sherlock in modern London? How good could that be? Except it IS. Really good. It’s so easy to forget that the character of Sherlock Holmes was totally cutting-edge in his day. He was like an entire Victorian CSI lab in a frock coat, solving crimes that could have happened right around the corner from the people reading the stories. They weren’t “quaint” little mysteries that took place over 100 years ago when things were simple and sweet. So the idea of imaging Sherlock into a world with computers and cell phones totally works IF it’s done right, and this really, really is.

“Obsessing” is truly the word, too. Not only did I buy the DVD and player from England, but also the soundtrack–which also is not yet available here in the USA–because the music is so good. I’ve watched all three of the new episodes multiple times, and have spent an absurd amount of time reading fanfiction–a trend which I’ve managed to avoid for years. I’ve never been sucked in, before, but it’s been so frustrating being the only person I know who’s SEEN the second season, and not having anyone to talk to about it, that reading fanfic by other people who had (1) seen it and (2) loved Sherlock as much as I do became a welcome release valve.

In other words, you should absolutely be watching this show. Does it help if I tell you that its two stars are just about to become huge? Martin Freeman is playing Bilbo in the upcoming “The Hobbit” (prequel to Lord of the Rings), and Benedict Cumberbatch, just in “War Horse,” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” is going to be in the next Star Trek movie as well.

In other words, it’s really, REALLY good that they’ve already got these two gents locked in for a season 3 of Sherlock. Otherwise that season 2 ender would just break my heart.

Reading-wise … well, I need to get my reading list up, I suppose, because you KNOW I’ve been reading. In fact I did so little writing towards the end of the year ( I lost my writing mojo for a while), I got a lot of reading done. (And that’s another thing about fanfiction. I enjoyed reading it so much, I actually wrote some, which kind of got me started writing again, so … no worries there.)

Well! I think that pretty much catches us up!

I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen here at Chappysmom. I’m not saying this blog isn’t fixable, but it is very definitely not something in my skill set to fix. I don’t want to lose it, I don’t want to lose the archives, but … at this moment, I don’t really see how I can move it forward, either. (And, honestly, I’m not crazy about paying for the hosting that I essentially can’t use, either.)

I’m thinking about setting up a blog over at Knitting Scholar and posting there, but again … I need to figure out HOW to set up a sub-blog on the existing site and again … not my skill set. I do want you all to know that I’m still here, though! Still knitting. Still interested. Still reading all of your blogs. (Though I know I’m not the only one who’s noticed a HUGE drop off in general in comments and blog interactions in the last couple years. And I admit I don’t comment as often as I used to when I read other blogs, either.)

Hope you’re all well!

Reads from August 2011

Here’s what I read in August:

  1. FLEDGLING by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
  2. SALTATION by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
  3. GHOST SHIP by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
  4. DRAGONSEYE by Anne McCaffrey
  5. MASTERHARPER OF PERN by Anne McCaffrey
  6. DRAGONFLIGHT by Anne McCaffrey
  7. DRAGONQUEST by Anne McCaffrey
  8. WHITE DRAGON by Anne McCaffrey
  9. RENEGADES OF PERN by Anne McCaffrey
  10. ALL THE WEYRS OF PERN by Anne McCaffrey
  11. PIONEER WOMAN COOKS by Ree Drummond
  12. REPORTER’S LIFE by Walter Cronkite
  13. FLOUR by Joanne Chang
  14. KNIT, SWIRL! by Sandra McIver
  15. WENDY KNITS LACE by Wendy D. Johnson
  16. ALICE IN WONDERLAND by Lewis Carroll
  17. INNOCENT MONSTER by Reed Farrel Coleman
  18. THE WIDOW’S WAR by Sally Gunning
  19. KNIGHT IN CENTRAL PARK by Theresa Ragan
  20. SUMMER AT TIFFANY by Marjorie Hart
  21. BLUE CASTLE by L.M. Montgomery
  22. WHEN EVERYTHING CHANGED by Gail Colins
  23. WRITE THE PERFECT BOOK PROPOSAL by Jeff Herman and Deborah Levine Herman
  24. COOKWISE by Shirley O. Corriher
  25. KNIT ONE, KNIT ALL by Elizabeth Zimmermann
  26. LORD VALENTINE’S CASTLE by Robert Silverberg
  27. TRUE KNIGHT by Susan Dexter
  28. PRINCE OF ILL-LUCK by Susan Dexter
  29. RING OF ALLAIRE by Susan Dexter

July 2011 Reads

Okay, here’s what I read in July:

  1. The Grand Tour : Being a Revelation of Matters of High Confidentiality and Greatest Importance, Including Extracts from the Intimate Diary of a Noblewoman and the Sworn Testimony of a Lady of Quality by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. Sequel to the “Sorcery and Cecelia” book which I liked rather better, this tells about the wedding trip of both couples, only instead of being written as letters to each other (which gave the first book a better “voice”), this is a journal and a deposition–not nearly as much fun, but still an enjoyable book.
  2. Longshot by Dick Francis. A strugging writer agrees to ghost-write a biography of a famous horse trainer and finds himself in the middle of a murder cover-up.
  3. Decider by Dick Francis. Mystery focusing around a failing race course and one man who owns shares through his dead mother and who may be able to make a difference.
  4. Good Night Mr. Holmes by Carole Nelson Douglas
  5. Good Morning Irene (AKA The Adventuress) by Carole Nelson Douglas
  6. Irene at Large (AKA A Soul of Steel) by Carole Nelson Douglas
  7. Irene’s Last Waltz (AKA Another Scandal in Bohemia) by Carole Nelson Douglas
  8. Femme Fatale by Carole Nelson Douglas
  9. Spider Dance by Carole Nelson Douglas. I do love the Irene Adler mysteries, based on the character from Sherlock Holmes. (Though I skipped the two about Jack the Ripper.)
  10. Fiddler’s Gun by A. S. Peterson. Yawn. A YA book about a misunderstood orphan girl during the Revolutionary War who ends up becoming a pirate … I was bored the entire time, though I suppose for only 99-cents for the Kindle version, that’s okay.
  11. Counterfeit Son by Elaine Marie Alphin. Gripping YA story–the son of a serial killer, when his father is shot down by police, tells authorities that he is actually one of the boys the man had abducted so that he can go live with their family. Considering how awful his life has been for this boy, and the things he’s seen, and the lie he’s telling, this isn’t a happy book, but oh, it was was surprisingly good and has a great twist at the end.
  12. Wrapt in Crystal by Sharon Shinn. Sci-fi murder mystery taking place on a desert planet where someone is targeting the religious sisters from two different orders.
  13. Thinking Like Your Editor: How to Write Great Serious Nonfiction–and Get It Published by Susan Rabiner and Alfred Fortunato. How-to book for getting a book published.
  14. Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Deliciously quirky epistolary novel, told entirely through letters, and about how the island of Guernsey made it through WWII.
  15. Run by Ann Patchett. A lovely book involving the two, black adopted sons of a former mayor of Boston. One is about to be hit by a car on a snowy night when a woman pushes him out of the way and is hit herself, right in front of her teenaged daughter … who tells them that the woman was actually the boys’ birth mother and family lines start getting confused.
  16. Wilder Sisters by Jo-Ann Mapson. Two sisters who haven’t spoken in years but find themselves making up when circumstances force both of them to their parents’ ranch in NM.
  17. Blue Rodeo by Jo-Ann Mapson. Woman heads to NM to be closer to her teenaged son, recently deafened through a case of meningitis.
  18. Local Custom by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Liaden universe, covering the courtship of Er Thom yos’Galan and Anne Davis, parents of Shan. It’s really a lovely little love sci-fi/regency kind of love story.
  19. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. So, imagine there were some people who were genetically able to time-travel. And then suppose that you had always expected your cousin was the one in your family to have inherited this gift but then it turned out to be you instead? Add in some kind of plot/mystery and there you go–the first in this YA trilogy.
  20. No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting by Anne. L. MacDonald. The social history of knitting in America. It’s been years since I read it, and it’s still fascinating.
  21. The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism by Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud. History about Edward R. Murrow and the other radio news pioneers on CBS during and after WWII.
  22. Scout’s Progress by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Liaden universe. Story of how Aelliana Caylon and Daav yos’Phelium (parents of Val Con in later books) met.
  23. Mouse and Dragon by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Liaden universe. Second in the story of Aelliana Caylon and Daav yos’Phelium, telling of their time together.
  24. Seamless (or Nearly Seamless) Knits by Andra Knight Brown
  25. 10 Secrets of the LaidBack Knitters: A Guide to Holistic Knitting, Yarn, and Life by Vicki Stiefel and Lisa Souza
  26. Loop-d-Loop Lace: More Than 30 Novel Lace Designs for Knitters by Teva Durham
  27. Knitted Lace: A Collection of Favorite Designs from Interweave by Interweave Press
  28. The Gentle Art of Knitting: 40 Projects Inspired by Everyday Beauty by Jane Brocket
  29. Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Knitter’s Almanac: The Commemorative Edition by Elizabeth Zimmermann. Because, yes, I’ve got an old edition, but I couldn’t (finally) resist the new one.

Books from June 2011

  1. The Greater Journey by David McCullough. Any time David McCullough comes out with a new book, it’s worth looking into. There’s a reason he’s won the Pulitzer Prize, you know? And this book was great–it’s about 19th century Americans heading to Paris and encountering ideas and inspiration and culture and art and all sorts of experiences that just weren’t available here at the time … and then bringing them back to make a difference. Fantastic. (The color illustrations were stunning, too. I had had no idea, for example, that Samuel Morse of dot-dot-dash-dash Morse Code started off as a really gifted artist.)
  2. Belgarath by David Eddings
  3. Polgara by David Eddings
  4. Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings
  5. Queen of Sorcery by David Eddings
  6. Magician’s Gambit by David Eddings
  7. Castle of Wizardryby David Eddings
  8. Enchanter’s End Game by David Eddings. So, um, you know that I’ve adored this series of Garion and his friends since I discovered them in high school, right? (Though to be fair, my best friend spotted them first.) All of my copies say “First time in Print” on them and I’ve completely lost count how many times I’ve read them. It’s just something I have to do every now and again. Classic fantasy-style epic adventure, with a sense of humor.
  9. Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook by Deb Robson and Carol Ekarius. If you’re even mildly interested in sheep and wool and natural fibers–or even just pretty, pretty pictures of fiber-bearing animals–run, don’t walk, to get your hands on a copy. It’s fantastic, and I go into much more detail here.
  10. Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. Review here at Knitting Scholar.
  11. Sock Knitting Master Class by Ann Budd. Fantastic book. Read my review here.
  12. The Two Georges by Richard Dreyfuss and Harry Turtledove. An alternate-reality mystery novel, taking place in an America that never fought a revolution and whose iconic painting of George Washington and George III–the picture which appears in every government building and on every dollar bill–is stolen and Thomas Bushell must find it and bring it back. It’s well thought out and the occasional cameos from “real” people are fun to spot, and I’ve always rather hoped they’d write a sequel.
  13. The Ugly DachshundG.B. Stern. Oh, my, this book was DELIGHTFUL. All I knew was the Suzanne Pleshette/Dean Jones movie from the 60s, with the Great Dane who thought he was a dachshund. THIS is the book it was (loosely) based on, and it’s one of the sweetest books I’ve read in ages. Tono thinks he’s a dachshund and can’t understand why the “Legs” never scoop him up into their laps like they do with the other dogs, or why “Apron Legs” gives him raw meat instead of cooked meals like the other dachshunds. (I adored how every human in the book is referred to as “Legs.” Master Legs, Supreme Legs, Guest Legs. Relative Legs. It all makes perfect sense if you think about what our dogs LOOK at all day long.) This really had no resemblence to the movie and I liked it all the more for it. So, so fun.
  14. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. Half a story about a writer trying to write her book and half a historical-fiction story that is not only the book she’s writing but apparently a genetic “memory” of an ancestor who had lived here centuries ago. Enjoyable.
  15. Chalice by Robin McKinley. YA fantasy, where Miralys is “Chalice” to her land in a troubled time as they try to introduce a new Master. This book always makes me wish I liked honey more, because she uses a lot of it.
  16. Dragonhaven by Robin McKinley. An alternate-universe YA, where Jake lives in a national park that houses dragons and ends up with an orphaned dragonet–when it’s illegal to try to keep them alive. McKinley is always a treat.
  17. Sorcery & Cecelia by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer. I’ve read this several times, but it’s charming–an epistolary novel set in early 19th Century London, but a London where magic works. It tells the adventures of two chatty, intrepid cousins–one stuck at home in the country, while the other enjoys her “Season” in London. The authors say in their note that they had sheer FUN writing these letters, and it shows.
  18. Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, Smell and Know by Alexandra Horowitz. Interesting look into how dogs experience the world (or so far as we humans can tell. Chappy particularly enjoyed this–I found him giggling at descriptions for bits that I’m guessing she might have gotten wrong. But, still, it was good, and intriguing.

Now, one more thing. Over at Knitting Scholar, I compiled a list of new and upcoming knitting books–and there are a LOT of them. Please head over and check them out–there are so many titles, it took TWO posts! Here’s the first post, of recent and soon-to-be-out books. And here’s the list of somewhat further-out but still coming books.

Graduation

First things first–

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My nephew graduated high school!

And he put the sweater I made him on just long enough for me to snap one (not very good) photo:

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The important thing, though, is that (1) he seemed to like it, (2) he definitely seemed to appreciate it, and (3) it fits! The rest is out of my hands.

As to other knitting, I’m almost done with my EZ Green Cardigan. I’m working on the neckband and when that’s done, the only thing left will be to sew on the buttons and to add loops to hold them. So … which buttons do YOU like for this almost-finished sweater?

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I asked Chappy, his opinion and this is what HE said:

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Not particularly helpful.

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Speaking of green–I made this lovely green yarn out of those three bobbins of singles–two dark olive, one light olive–and am thrilled with the way it came out.

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I also turned my Autumn Dreams sweater (which never fit right) into a purse. I tried so many things to try to salvage it as a garment, but none of them worked, so finally … I just cut off the top altogether, added a lining and some leather handles I picked up at Rhinebeck, and here we go.

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Actually, I was really proud of myself for coming up with a way to attach those handles. They had a loop at the end that couldn’t be opened, so I took the neckband of the felted sweater and threaded it through all four handle-ends and then sewed it to the top of the bag (which is actually the bottom ribbing of the sweater) and tucked it in behind the lining. Those handles aren’t going anywhere!

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Didn’t my nephew look handsome in his tux for the prom?

Let’s see, what else?

My sister enjoyed her birthday present:

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Homemade Vanilla extract by yours truly.

Oh, and it’s entirely possible that I might have put my tax refund (which I didn’t expect to get in the first place) toward a new camera. (Cough)

Chappy had a rough night the other night. We had some big thunderstorms and instead of being stoic like usual, he sat in his crate PANTING at me, nudging the latch every now and again because he so badly wanted to be OUT of the crate. I figured he would quiet down after the worst of them passed overhead, but no. So after about an hour and a half of pant!pant!pant!, I got out of bed (about 4:30, this was) and petted him for a while. He was so GRATEFUL to be out of that crate! I still can’t figure out what made him react that strongly. I mean, I know he hates thunderstorms, but to pant nonstop for over two hours in the middle of the night? When he usually is so calm about it? What was it about this storm that set him off so?

Still, other than that, I swear Chappy spends most of his time laughing at me.

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What can I tell you? Life is just a bowl of …

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Books read in May 2011

Here’s what I read in May:

Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff. A nice chick-lit kind of book about a woman trying to restart her life by opening a vintage clothing store.

Knitters’ Home Companion by Michelle Edwards. Sweet, heart-warming little book of stories, patterns, and recipes.

Philosophical Breakfast Club by Laura Snyder. The history of science, all in one neat little package. Or, well, not the ENTIRE history of science, but it follows four men who, while at Cambridge, got together and decided they were going to transform the way science was studied and treated … and then went ahead and did it. Fascinating and incredibly wide-ranging.

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. The story about the horse, which I decided I had to re-read after re-watching the movie. It’s still a really great story.

World Without End by Sean Russell, and…
Sea Without a Shore by Sean Russell. You’ve seen this pair on my list a lot. I love this duo—both fantasy books, but taking place in a world much like our 18th century with a main character who would have fit nicely in with the real-life mean in the Philosophical Breakfast Club above.

Alleluia Files by Sharon Shinn. Favorite author. Favorite book. Beautiful cover. Good story. There’s a reason it appears periodically on my list.

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach. An interesting and somewhat irreverent approach to the idea of space travel and what we need to do to get ready for a trip to Mars. There might actually be more detail than I really wanted to know about vomiting in space, or how weightlessness affects certain bodily functions, but it’s still fascinating—and entertaining—to read the author’s exploration into sending fragile humans into space.

Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer. Hmm. She’s a good author and talented. The story sounded fascinating, but … I was bored and ended up closing this one before I technically finished it. (Yawn)

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma. Such a nice little memoir. When she is in third grade, Alice and her father decide to challenge themselves to not missing a night of bedtime reading for 100 nights. When they’ve accomplished that, they decide to go for 1,000 … and then keep going. Right up until she left for college. Sweet. Touching, and full of the love of reading.

Last Bookstore in America by Amy Stewart. A Kindle book that supposes that we all—every one of us—suddenly were so enamored by e-readers that we simply didn’t want paper books any more. (Yes, the author knows that’s a stretch.) How do you suppose the last bookstore in America would survive? Light and entertaining.

Only Mr. Darcy will Do by Kara Louise. Light, fluffy little pastiche based on Pride & Prejudice (because that’s nothing new, right?) This one supposes that Mr. Bennet had passed away shortly after Mr. Darcy’s proposal to Elizabeth at Rosings. Mr. Collins therefore moves into the Bennet’s house and Elizabeth becomes a governess. And when Mr. Darcy hears about it? Naturally, he invites the family she works for for a visit… An entertaining little look at the “what might have been” theme.

An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan, and…
Duty and Desire by Pamela Aidan, and…
These Three Remain by Pamela Aidan. Well, while on a P&P-pastiche kick … I reread this trilogy that tells the whole story from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. They’re not perfect (and book #2 is by far the weakest and most ridiculous of the three), but it’s still fun.

Wildwood Dancing byJuliet Marillier. Fairy tale of 5 Transylvanian sisters who go dancing on the “other side” every full moon.

Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum. Because everyone should read the original once in a while, right?

What Ho, Automaton by Chris Dolley. Okay … imagine if P.G. Wodehouse were writing steampunk stories about an airhead named Reginald Worcester and his robot valet named Reeves…

Winston’s War by Max Hastings. History of WWII as shaped by Winston Churchill. I so wanted to love this book. It’s thoroughly researched and chock-ful with information (not to mention a certain amount of hero-worship on the part of the author), but I didn’t. It was wordy with the ridiculously circular, passive-verb sentences that are the worst in British writing styles, and it assumed the reader already knew too much. If you had no idea what happened at Dunkirk, or what the Battle of Britain was, you would flounder trying to catch up. No comparison in interest, readability, or good writing to the two-part Churchill biography I read last month.

Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony, and…
Source of Magic by Piers Anthony, and…
Castle Roogna by Piers Anthony, and…
Centaur Aisle by Piers Anthony. Okay, so I loved this fantasy series about Xanth when I was younger. My best friend and I devoured them in junior high and even wrote fan letters to the author, but it’s been years since I read them. And, well, they’re not as much fun as they used to be. The dialog is hopelessly unrealistic, the puns are already taking over the series (which they had completely done by book #7 or so), and yes, God yes, they are so sexist. How did I never see this before? But, still, they’ve got some good laughs and they certainly are creative so I guess revisiting them every 20 years or so isn’t a terrible idea.

The Wish by Alexandra Bullen. A YA book about a girl who wishes to have her dead twin sister back … and thanks to a magic dress, gets it.

Memoir by Ulysses S. Grant, Volume 1. A little too much with the military tactics but that’s certainly no less than one would suspect. This is still interesting and impressive as memoirs go. (Especially knowing that he was dying of cancer the entire time he wrote it.)

Reading Jackie by William Kuhn. A look at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’s life through her reading, and the books she edited. Interesting look at the woman and the reasons she worked with the authors she did.

Did I Tell You?

Did I tell you that I finished my Celtic Dreams Cardigan?

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You’ll remember that this is a cardigan version of Beth Brown-Reinsel’s wonderful “Celtic Dreams,” knit out of my CSA-share yarn (Cormo/mohair blend) from Juniper Moon Farm. I even had the perfect buttons all ready. I think I’m going to run a ribbon along the inside behind the buttons to make it look tidier inside, but otherwise … done. I finished it almost exactly a year after I finished my last Aran cardigan which I made out of the yarn I recycled from my original Celtic Dreams pullover.

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Did I tell you I need to buy a zipper?

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For something I can’t entirely show you in case a family member who’s not supposed to know about it sees the blog?

Did I tell you that Chappy still has a tick embedded in his face, poor boy?

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He picked up a little, sesame-seed-sized tick a month or so ago and I started to pull it out with one of our “Ticked Off” spoon gadgets–which have never failed me–except the stupid tick was so tiny that instead of coming out, it stripped, with the head left in place. I called my vet to ask what I should do and they said to just leave it alone, which was backed up by the JMF group on Ravelry. So … I’ve tried very hard not to touch it, but I’ve kept an eye on the spot. It’s conveniently located just under an inch from his eye, so the little lump of callous that’s formed around it is easy to spot. (If this were on his back somewhere, you can just forget it. I’d never have found it again in all that fluffy brown fur!

May I just say here what a wonderful dog I have? Because, with that tick an inch from his eye, attached to his sensitive facial skin, he let me poke and prod and pull with tweezers and such without a single complaint. It never fails to amaze me how GOOD he is when I need to do stuff like this.

Did I tell you I’ve been spinning?

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After lots of emails back and forth with Majacraft, I finally got the spinning head on my new Aura replaced. They sent a replacement for it right away when I told them about the crack, but I couldn’t–really Could Not–get the whorls off the original one. I got the little plumb screws out and then … no amount of pulling or twisting would budge the whorls, so they had to send me replacements for those, TOO, which is just crazy but much appreciated. Their customer service is awesome.

So, I’ve just finished spinning my third bobbin of singles. This is corriedale from the Sheep Shed that we picked up at Rhinebeck a couple years ago. (Technically Mom picked it up because it was my birthday present exactly 1.5 years ago.)

Anyway, I’d always planned on these three lots of roving would make a 3-ply yarn. Two plies of the olive green, one ply of the lighter green. And how awesome are these bobbins that they HOLD 8 ounces of yarn?

Of course the plying will be challenging because I only have one other bobbin, so once it’s filled with plied yarn, I’ll have to wind all the yarn off before I can continue. Not ideal, but … hey, I’m still happy that I got all of each color on ONE bobbin.

Did I tell you I had a guest post at Susan’s Juniper Moon Farm blog?

Yep, and doing one of my favorite things–reviewing a knitting book.

For that matter, Juniper Moon Farm is coming out with a commercial line of yarn in the Fall and I can’t wait to see it. Mom and I are seriously hoping Susan comes to NJ on her promotional tour and that we get to see her.

Did I tell you I’ve been doing some writing?

I unofficially participated in Script Frenzy last month–the screenwriting version of NaNoWriMo, only instead of writing a 50,000 word novel, you write a 100-page script. I took one of my unpublished novels–one I’ve always vividly pictured as a movie anyway–and converted it to a script. Of course, I’ve never written a script before, so I’m sure there are all sorts of things I’m missing, or structure things I got wrong, but … that was fun! In fact, I think the story is much stronger as a screenplay than as a novel, so good for that.

Did I tell you that my niece and nephew are getting too grown up?

My nephew is graduating high school next month. How did this happen? My little baby nephew is almost a foot taller than me, turning 18, and finishing his basic education. He’ll be heading to community college for the next two years which I don’t think he’s particularly thrilled with, but at college prices these days, it’s the only option he’s got for higher-education (grin). He’s having a hard time finding a summer job because there just really aren’t that many available where they live (or anywhere?), but we all hope he finds something. Not only for gas money (!), but because he gets bored so easily.

My niece is finishing up her senior year at college–though she has one more semester to go. She’s also working at the Merry-go-Round theater in NY state this summer, building and painting sets, which is exactly what she wants to do for a living. We won’t get so see her all summer, therefore, but we’re happy for her anyway.

Did I tell you I bought some yarn?

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Not a lot of yarn, but enough for a sweater. It’s Spud & Chloe “Fine” in this gorgeous gold-yellow color. I used the $50 gift card I got when I bought my new cell phone last November, so only had to pay $5 for the whole thing. I was thinking that Kate Davie’s “Deco” might be perfect for it.

Did I tell you I’m making EZ’s Green Cardigan?

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(Yes, the yarn really IS green.)

You know, the cardigan that was recreated last year? (You might have read about it in Twist.) I bought the kit from Schoolhouse Press which came with the yarn … though I’m not crazy about the yarn. It also skews because it’s a singles yarn, but … hey, it came with it, right? And I don’t have anything I like better, so …

Did I tell you I have a Chocolate-Mint Plant? Sort of?

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A Ravelry friend sent me a seedling to grow, but apparently the trip from Oklahoma was tough on it. Almost all the leaves came off and I’m left with pretty much just a stem. But, I put it in a pot and am hoping for the best. It’s meant to be an outside plant, but it doesn’t seem sporting to put it out there before it’s got its roots settled, don’t you think?

Did I tell you I think Chappy’s top-knot is coming back?

So far as his other health issues, he seems fine. We stopped going for platelet counts at the vet a few months ago, finally, and I haven’t seen any signs of a recurrence of the problem. Whatever caused it is a mystery. His fur has finally grown back–he lost massive amounts just as he came off the prednisone and my feeling is that it was all a reaction to the medicine. That and having any blow to your system can make your hair fall out months later when what would have been the new growth fails to come in.

Chappy used to have this adorable “top knot,” a tuft of unruly fur on top of his head that I adored.

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But, since the Prednisone last fall and the flaky skin/seborrhea/bald spot thing of the last month or so … his top-knot is gone. The top of his head is sleek and smooth.

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But I think he’s starting to get a little crimp to the fur on top of his head, so I’ve got hopes for his top-knot to return. Handsome though he looks with a smooth head, I kind of miss the top-knot.

Books Read in April

Here’s what I read in April folks:

  1. Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones
  2. The Merlin Conspiracy by Diana Wynne Jones
  3. Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones
  4. Fire & Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones
  5. Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
  6. Cart & Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones
  7. Drowned Ammet by Diana Wynne Jones
  8. Spellcoats by Diana Wynne Jones
  9. Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones–All part of my Diana Wynne Jones memorial tour through the bookshelves, pulling off some books I haven’t read in a while. I miss her already.
  10. Bang the Keys by Jill Dearman–Writing book whose main intent is that you need to sit down and WRITE to get anything done … with tips on how to do just that.
  11. Changeling Sea by Patricia McKillip–YA fantasy about a girl who befriends a prince obsessed with the sea and a water drake obsessed with the land…
  12. Od Magic by Patricia McKillip–Charming little fantasy centering around a school of magic. Beautiful and atmospheric as are all her books.
  13. Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
  14. Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey
  15. Dragondrums by Anne McCaffrey–The news that there may actually be a Dragonriders of Pern movie inspired me to pull out some of my Pern books. Love them as much as ever.
  16. Case Book of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle–The very last Sherlock Holmes collection.
  17. Duty, Honor, Country by Bob Mayer–Story of the Civil War centering around the fact that so many soldiers on both sides went to West Point together.
  18. Screenplay by Syd Field–How to write a screenplay.
  19. Conflict of Honors by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
  20. Agent of Change by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
  21. Carpe Diem by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
  22. Plan B by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
  23. I Dare by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
  24. Saltation by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller–With their newest book coming out that will FINALLY move past the “It’s kinda complicated” point at the end of “I Dare,” I had to reread all the earlier books, didn’t I?
  25. Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller–Officially not out until August, the authors announced that it was possible to buy the electronic ARC (advance reader’s copy) and, well, I couldn’t resist. I was dying to know how the story moved forward! I so wanted to know what would happen with Theo’s “kinda complicated” problem, and how Korval would settle in on Surebleak … so I splurged and bought the eARC. I couldn’t help myself.
  26. John Marshall by Jean Edward Smith–Biography on our first great Supreme Court Chief Justice.
  27. The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure–The explorations of a woman who grew up obsessed with the Little House on the Prairie books and dove right into “Laura World,” bringing her boyfriend along for the trip.
  28. Modern Top Down Knitting by Kristina McGowan.
  29. Knits That Fit by Potter Craft.

Books from March 2011 (Really)

Books read in March:

  • How to Knit a Heart Back Home by Rachael Herron. (Really, this should have been on last month’s list, but somehow I missed it.) The quick review is that I enjoyed this, her second book. The longer review is over at KnittingScholar, as is an interview with Rachael herself.
  • Oathbound by Mercedes Lackey.
  • Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey.
  • Oathblood by Mercedes Lackey.
  • My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart.
  • Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart.
  • This Rough Magic by Mary Stewart
  • Stormy Petrel by Mary Stewart. Every now and again, I just itch to read Mary Stewart. Her books are gentle little mysteries with exotic locales, wonderful food, and a brave heroine with a bold hero and they are just delightful. No scientific, CSI-style crime solving here, just heroines stumbling across mysteries (often murders but not always, usually while on vacation or visiting relatives). They’re just such atmospheric books, they are delightful. I usually can’t read more than a few in a row, though.
  • The Big One by David Kinney. The story of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby, one of the biggest fishing events on the atlantic seaboard, and something of a religious experience for fisherman from the island and off.
  • One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde. The newest Thursday Next book, which should tell you almost all you need to know. Creative, unique, wacky, interesting, full of puns and nonsense. This takes place almost entirely in the book world, where books get “built,” and the heroine is the fictional Thursday Next. As in, she’s the main character of the book written about the “real” Thursday Next, who happens to be missing. Confused? You’ll fit right in.
  • The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery
  • The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery
  • The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets: An Enola Holmes Mystery
  • The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan: An Enola Holmes Mystery
  • The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline: An Enola Holmes Mystery
  • The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer. So what if I just read this entire series two months ago and felt the urge to read them again. You have a problem with that? They’re delightful!
  • His Last Bow by Arthur Conan Doyle. The next-to-last collection of Sherlock Holmes stories. (Yes, with this title you’d think it would be the last, but his audience was insatiable and Doyle regretted ever having created the character in the first place. Lucky for all of us he did.)
  • The Last Lion: Visions of Glory 1874-1932. (Biography of Winston Churchill, Volume 1) by William Manchester
  • The Last Lion: Alone 1932-1940 (Biography of Winston Churchill, Volume 2) by William Manchester. These are the first two volumes of a projected three-volume set biography of Winston Churchill and they are amazingly good. Huge (one is almost 900 pages, the other almost 700). And, sadly … there’s no volume 3. Yet. The author died several years ago and the 3rd volume was supposed to be almost complete and is being finished … but the manuscript still isn’t done. According to Twitter (because yes, the new author responded to a random tweet of mine when I mourned the lack of III), the manuscript should be done sometime in 2011, so the book should be out in 2012, but … we’ll see. Meanwhile, these were amazingly good.
  • King’s Speech by Mark Logue and Peter Conrad. Yes, it’s a movie tie-in book. Yes, that means it’s not as good as the movie, but it’s interesting enough. Based on Lionel Logue’s diaries and other memorabilia, it tells the relationship between him and King George VI.
  • Sheepish by Catherine Friend. I hate to tell you about a book that’s not out yet, but … I got an advance copy to review and I can just tell you that all of you will LOVE this book about a woman who ends up on a sheep farm and falls in love with all things wool. It’s lovely, and it’s due out in May.
  • My Life in France by Julia Child. Something I’d been curious since seeing the “Julie and Julia” movie (which was SO much better than the book it was based on, I thought). This is Julia Child’s memoir of her life in France … duh. Like you couldn’t figure that out. What makes it wonderful, though, is her sheer enthusiasm throughout. It’s a wonderful read about her whole-hearted embrace of everything French in particular, and everything Food in general. Even things I really don’t want to eat sounded wonderful, and she made me long to hop the next flight to Paris.
  • Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn. Beginning with the death of her banished father, Zoe is pulled back to the capital city to wed the King … except, she doesn’t. She slips away instead to find out what she wants for herself and along the way finds that she has more power than she imagined. This is a fantasy, and Shinn is a long-time favorite author, and I am always in awe of her world-building. I like Zoe’s story, but I like almost as much the PLACE, the culture Shinn invented for her. Lovely.
  • Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
  • Archer’s Goon by Diana Wynne Jones. I’ve loved Diana Wynne Jones for years and years—since my best friend gave me a copy of “Charmed Life” for my birthday when I was in middle school, and I’ve adored her ever since. (The author that is, as well as my best friend.) I kept checking her books out of the library until my late 20s when I finally started buying them instead, and I’ve gotten every book she’s written, and loved almost all of them (and liked the ones I didn’t adore). Well, she died on March 26th, which makes me so sad, because her writing was completely unique—as was she. (Read this tribute from Neil Gaiman. Or from Emma Bull. Not to mention Robin McKinley here and here. Not to mention this post from last summer.) I’ve been revisiting some of her books out of respect, and loving them (and her) just as much as ever.
  • Mr. Adam’s Last Crusade: John Quincy Adams’s Extraordinary Post-Presidential Life in Congress by Joseph Wheelan. What a wonderful book. Did you know that John Quincy Adams, AFTER his Presidential term was over, served as a representative to the House in Congress for the next 17 years, until he died at age 80? And that he was pretty much wonderful at it? What a remarkable man, and such an enjoyable book.
  • Knitting Knee Highs by Barb Brown. Review here at Knitting Scholar.
  • Knitgrrl Guide to Professional Knitwear Design by Shannon Okey. Review here at Knitting Scholar.
  • The Nervous New Owner’s Guide to Angora Rabbits by Suzie Sugrue. Review here at Knitting Scholar. (And we won’t make too much of a fuss that she used one of my photos of Jessica’s Stitches in the book, right?)
  • Spinning Around by Jeannine Bakriges. Review here at Knitting Scholar.

    Books from March

    Books from March:

    Honestly? None.

    Between worrying about Chappy and feeling lousy, beset with truly terrible seasonal allergies that made me feel cold-ish and asthma-ish for a couple weeks … there just wasn’t time.

    What? You don’t believe me?

    Just because it’s April 1st??

    So, I’ve Been Lazy

    I know–it’s the 20th and I haven’t posted anything this month except my reading list.

    I’m mostly just frustrated with the weird glitches that are making this blog so … squirrelly. The unusual amount of bandwidth it’s using, the fact that the current posts don’t always show up on the blog … and I have NO IDEA WHY. I don’t know how to fix it, and I’m sorry. I wish I did.

    But meantime, it almost feels like … why should I bother? If I’m getting nasty emails from my webhost (even though I supposedly have “unlimited” bandwidth) which makes me feel like I should cut back on my posting anyway, and then there’s this weird problem so that you can’t always read the posts that I DO write … Sigh.

    I don’t even have any new photos to share … where’s the fun in taking photos if I can’t share them properly? So my photo-mojo has scattered. (But here’s one to break the tedium.)

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    The most frustrating part for me is that I don’t know how to FIX this problem. If I tried moving to a new host, would is the glitch somehow embedded in one of my posts? Could reinstalling WordPress entirely fix the problem? (Though that’s rhetorical, really, because I wouldn’t know how to completely reinstall it anyway.)

    You’ll be glad to know that Chappy is finally off Prednisone, though he’s been having some REALLY flaky skin problems and has lost lots of fur–his entire belly and chest were bald for a couple weeks, though that fur is finally growing back in, once we started using the medicated shampoo from the vet.

    …Although we had to stop that for a little. He wrenched his paw (or his neck, or his back, or his shoulder … we’re really not sure). He tends to be very stoic at the vet and doesn’t show any signs of pain WHILE HE’S THERE, so we kind of had to guess it was his paw because he was reluctant to go down the stairs and was holding his right front paw turned out to the side, like he didn’t want to put full weight on it. So, for a week he’s been on the doggy equivalent of bed rest–no stairs, no walks, and allegedly no jumping up or down off the furniture, though that one’s impossible to enforce. He’s been acting more like himself the last couple days, but because of the  no stairs/no jumping/keep quiet rules, I couldn’t give him the twice-weekly baths, and in the last few days, I’ve noticed some fur loss again.

    Poor little guy! Luckily, he doesn’t seem at all embarrassed at the fur loss, and the weather is warmer so he shouldn’t be cold. And it’s good to see him look like he’s feeling better.

    Oh, and now that I’m carrying him up and down the stairs? Suddenly we started really enforcing that diet he was supposed to be on. He’s usually right around 35 lbs, but had put a little extra on–39 pounds–just before we started the prednisone in October. Then, the meds made him lose muscle tone until he was down to about 26, which has come back as we lowered the dose, but we went a little too far in the other direction in helping him put weight on, and when he was at the vet three weeks ago, was at 39 again. Last week, he had dropped to 38.6, but … well, that’s still a lot to be carrying up the stairs (especially since right now I’m not getting MY walks either), so I’ve been feeding him a little less this week and I think he’s closer to 37 now.

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    In knitting, I’ve got one more sleeve of my Celtic Dreams cardigan, but it’s stepped to the side for a moment while I work on something needed for a gift.

    I went to Jessica’s two weeks ago for her last fiber gathering here in NJ since she’s moving up to New England. I’m going to miss her! (You know, even if I don’t get to see her often–but obviously even less now.)

    Yep. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Sorry if I seem down tonight (I blame my unhappy Spring sinuses).

    Books Read in February 2010

    Books read in February:

    1. The Truth-teller’s Tale by Sharon Shinn
    2. The Dream-Maker’s Magic by Sharon Shinn
    3. Expressive Photography: The Shutter Sisters’ Guide to Shooting from the Heart by the Shutter Sisters
    4. Exile’s Song (Darkover) by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    5. The Shadow Matrix (Darkover) by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    6. Traitor’s Sun (Darkover) by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    7. Why We Make Mistakes: How We Look Without Seeing, Forget Things in Seconds, and Are All Pretty Sure We Are Way Above Average by Joseph T. Halliman
    8. Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
    9. Exile’s Honor (Valdemar) by Mercedes Lackey
    10. Exile’s Valor (Valdemar) by Mercedes Lackey
    11. Take a Thief: A Novel of Valdemar by Mercedes Lackey
    12. Brightly Burning by Mercedes Lackey
    13. Foundation: Book One of the Collegium Chronicles: A Valdemar Novel by Mercedes Lackey
    14. Magic’s Pawn by Mercedes Lackey
    15. Magic’s Promise by Mercedes Lackey
    16. Magic’s Price by Mercedes Lackey
    17. Winds of Fury by Mercedes Lackey
    18. By the Sword (Kerowyn’s Tale) by Mercedes Lackey
    19. The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle

    Taboo and Yarn Crawling

    So, let’s see….

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    We celebrated Mom’s birthday last weekend, but the subject is rather Taboo.

    No, not because we can’t talk about it, but because the Hasbro game “Taboo” kind of took over. We had had a copy of the original edition from something like 1989, but when our basement was invaded by black mold 5-ish years ago, we had to get rid of it, but Mom’s been regretting it since. So, last weekend, she bought a new copy and we played it Sunday afternoon with my sister and her family. Lots of fun (and Mom and I won by 40 points to 38 which made it pretty much perfect since it was HER birthday, after all).

    Then Sunday night, my best friend—who was visiting home after her mother fell and broke her hip—came over and the three of us played. We made up our own rules and just rotated the clue-giving and guessing, and oh, we laughed. I mean, really, really laughed. More than once we had to just stop the timer and pause to regain control of ourselves. Hilarity is definitely the word. (Which was particularly good for Dawn, who really needed the fun break.)

    I took Mom’s actual birthday, Valentine’s Day, off from work and the two of us went up to Ridgewood to Crumbs bakery for some fresh cupcakes. (You remember, we bought some in NY when we went to Vogue Knitting Live in January.) I made supper, we all went for a walk … even the weather was perfect. I told Mom that that was Chappy’s gift to her, and that ordering perfect weather was particularly difficult this year, so he hoped she liked it.

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    So, remember when I told you about the cracked spinning head for my Majacraft Aura? Well, Majacraft was nice enough to send me a new one. (I do love their customer service!) The unfortunate part is that I haven’t been able to use it yet. I simply can NOT get the whorl off the original wheel to put it on this one. The little one, yes. The inner of the two whorls would come off just fine … except I can’t get the outer one off. At all. I’ve been sending emails back and forth to Glynis, and neither of us can figure out why it just won’t MOVE. The shaft spins inside the whorl, it just won’t move horizontally OFF the shaft.

    As a tribute to their awesome customer service, she finally decided to send me a new whorl, which is on its way. Only, in extreme irony, she accidentally sent me a new inner whorl, not the outer.

    I’m starting to think this is jinxed (grin).

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    Today, though, Mom and I went on a yarn crawl—something I haven’t done in ages. It was an official one, too … the first Northern NJ Yarn Crawl. There were 11 stores participating, but Mom and I just went to 5—which was plenty for one day! And tons of fun.

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    We started at the Stitching Bee in Chatham.

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    It’s a small store (especially when filled with yarn-crawlers), and since they sell needlepoint supplies, too, there were lots of canvases being displayed which makes it look like there’s no headroom (grin). The people were super nice, though, and the store is clean (which isn’t something you can say about every crowded yarn shop around).

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    I bought this gorgeous skein of Jitterbug yarn in the brand new “Evergreen” color. (And I’m kind of kicking myself for not getting two to make a shawl, but let’s not be greedy.)

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    As an extra bonus, though, they were giving away grab-bags, and look what I got! This great skein of blue Araucania sock yarn AND a pattern to go with it. That was so generous of them, so thank you!

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    I took a picture of the owner, but it didn’t come out very well.

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    Second stop was the Blue Purl in Madison, which I love. We found this little fellow waiting outside for someone, and I thought this was adorable. Chappy would have known exactly how he felt, except he was at home staring at the door.

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    This is one of my favorite local shops. They’re really nice, very helpful, and the store is just gorgeous with its hardwood floors and even chandeliers. It’s got the rare gift for a yarn shop of feeling spacious. (Mom took this photo, by the way.) I would have felt guiltier about not buying yarn there today if I hadn’t been there just a few weeks ago.

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    I was really excited to meet Ann Weaver, too, (pictured with the store owner) who was there promoting her new book, “Craft, Work, Knit.” She was wonderful—energetic and bubbly and so excited about sharing her patterns and showing off her samples. (And, seeing the samples in person made me love them even more.) She was nice enough to give me a copy of the book to review over at Knitting Scholar, and I’ll be writing up an interview with her, too—so don’t miss it.

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    Third stop, about which the less said the better, is Accent on Knits.

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    Aesthetically pleasing though it may be to arrange the inventory by color (cough), it makes it a lot harder to find things. (And I can only imagine how difficult it would be to find the yarn for a multi-colored project like a fair-isle design!) I thought the owner was unfriendly and while a couple of the sales people were nice enough, I wasn’t impressed. This was the first time I’ve been in their new location and I expect it will be the last. And the store smells of … I’m not even sure … but some strong, perfume-y scent that bothered my asthma and had me driving down 202 with the window open. I have no plans to go back to this store—even if it does have its own parking (which is a small miracle in Morristown).

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    At this point, we stopped at Wightman’s to get a couple doughnuts for lunch. Some frozen pies, too—including a pot pie on the recommendation of the Blue Purl owner who raved about them. I haven’t eaten a pot pie since the Swanson’s chicken pot pies Mom used to make when I was a kid, and I hated them. Ever since, anything that involves chicken gravy touching anything like pastry or biscuits, I can’t stand. Chicken stew with biscuits on the side is fine, but no gravy on the biscuits, please! But I’ll give this a try.

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    We went to Angelfire Studios in Basking Ridge next–a store that does yarn and pottery. This was the first time I’d been there—hadn’t even heard of it before this yarn crawl. We had trouble getting in the door, though, since it stuck so hard for a minute I thought they were closed! I was sorely tempted by some of the Spud & Chloe yarn they had, but since there weren’t as many skeins as I wanted in the color I liked, I managed to resist.

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    While there, I bought a raffle ticket to win this gorgeous art-y shawl. The owner’s husband was in a terrible accident last September and is still in the hospital, and they’re raffling the shawl to raise money. I hope they sold lots and lots and lots of tickets. Mom and I bumped into Kim buying some yarn and tickets for herself.

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    I met two more authors, too. Courtney Kelley & Kate Gagnon Osborn, who wrote Vintage Modern Knits, which I reviewed just a week ago. I didn’t know they were supposed to be there, so this was an extra treat because I was able to tell them how much I liked their book. And to see live samples, too, which makes me want to knit some of them even more!

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    The final stop was Down Cellar in the center of Basking Ridge. (Yes, apparently the same town as the other shop, but I don’t know how they drew that town line because they were not exactly near each other.)

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    This was the only shop of the day that wasn’t in a standard storefront, but in a converted house. Lovely. Great selection of yarn, friendly people, and tons of notions like bag handles and even zippers. Not to mention a sewing room upstairs. And great lighting. You all know how important lighting is when you’re trying to see yarn colors, and theirs was great.

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    I fell on my credit card again there and got this skein of Madeline Tosh DK yarn in “Vanilla Bean”—a deep, warm brown with hints of lavender. (The photo’s a little over-exposed, so it looks lighter than the yarn really is.)

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    And this, this! From their sale room because she’d overstocked on the color. Eight skeins of Rowan Felted Tweed (color 150, a really lovely red) all for 35% off. I am SO glad I went upstairs! My grand total for both yarns was $63. Woohoo!

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    One more “new” thing to show you—these socks. I’ve been working on them for months, because you know what a slow sock knitter I am. This was the first yarn I ever bought from the Blue Purl and I just finished them on Thursday. They are also only something like the third pair that I’ve made that were not plain stockinette stitch and I hope you like them, because I plan on going back to basic socks again pronto. I find that on size 0 needles, with sock yarn, cabling makes my hands hurt, and it’s not as mindless as I like my sock-knitting to be. I won’t say that I’ll never make a “patterned” sock again, but … it’s probably going to be a while.

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    Speaking of yarn purchases. Do you remember when Twist Collective had that article about the long-lost “Green Sweater” that Elizabeth Zimmermann had made for her goddaughter? That was recreated by a knitter for the sweater’s owner? (In, ironically, Stix-n-Stitches. One of the yarn shops on today’s yarn crawl that I did NOT visit.) Well, I loved it when I read about it and the pattern has apparently been available at Schoolhouse Press for a while, so I bought it a couple weeks ago. Even as a kit, the yarn and the pattern were only $36 so I really couldn’t resist.

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    Remember when I moved my furniture around so that the table is under the window? One of the things I wasn’t happy with was the garbage pail. It was one thing when it was behind the door, but now it looked so … ugly. Industrial metal mesh, with a plastic garbage bag, and being able to see the garbage every time I walked into the room. Ick.

    So I did what every knitter would do.

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    I gave it a cozy. This was one of the sweaters I was never happy with, so last month I had ripped back the top, down to the underarms and re-bound it off, figuring it would work as a cowl or a shoulder shrug or something. Turns out, it’s the perfect size for my garbage pail. How about that, huh?

    And with that, I’m exhausted! G’night, all!

    Enter to win!

    Remember when I told you you’d have a chance to win Sara J. Henry’s new book, Learning to Swim?

    Well–now’s your chance!

    Head over to my other blog to enter.

    www.PunctualityRules.com

    In fact, there are TWO chances to win, because she offered not only an ARC of her book, but a signed hardcover copy, too!

    That one is up for grabs over at Booking Through Thursday.

    All you need to do to win is to leave comments–and you’re the only people I’m telling about BOTH chances to win (because you’re knitters and I like you).

    Come leave comments–and spread the word! The book was a really great read.

    Icy

    Let’s see, what’s new?

    Well, we’ve got some snow outside. Lots of snow.

    And icicles! Some truly monster icicles. Chappy’s kind of living in fear of going outside to his bathroom.

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    Seriously, I am NOT complaining about the snow, though. I’ve said before that I think a person can complain about summer heat or about winter cold, but not about both. (Who wants to be friends with someone who complains about the weather practically year-round? And I’m willing to make exceptions for really extreme weather. “Boy, I usually love the winter, but 20-below for two weeks straight is too much even for me.”)

    It is getting tricky to drive around, though, because the piles of snow are so darn big. I think the folks up in tractor trailers are the only ones who can really see around the corners at this point.

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    I got to see my best friend this weekend, which is always good, even if the reason’s not. Her mother fell in one of the storms two weeks ago and broke her hip, so Dawn came home from California to help out for the first couple weeks she’s home. I’m so glad for all their sakes that it’s not more serious. They put a pin in her hip and she’s doing rehab, but she should have a complete recovery.

    Mom and I got to see her on Saturday, too, because there was some kind of mix-up at the car rental place and Dawn was stranded Saturday morning and called to ask if we could give her a ride. Of course! We’ll be there in 10 minutes! (She said later that when her brother suggested calling me for a ride—since he lives about half an hour away—that she said, “But she’s so efficient.” I’m still not sure how that’s a bad thing.)

    She mentioned, though, between thanking us for giving her a ride … and, really, her timing was excellent. Mom and I had just gone out to coffee, but hadn’t placed our order yet. Dawn mentioned that she was particularly upset with the car rental place because she had hoped to visit her Mom today. Um, we can go to Chester! So the three of us went into Chester for coffee and then headed over to visit with her Mom, which was actually kind of fun. She’s not in pain and tells great stories and I’ve always liked her, so it was really pretty enjoyable, except for her being stuck in a wheelchair and all.

    Sunday, I moved (well, Dad and I) two pieces of furniture in my room and what a difference it makes. I swapped the cedar chest which had been under the window with the table which had been near the door, and suddenly the room feels more open. The table is a little deeper than the cedar chest (10” to be exact), but it can be pushed right against the window sill because it doesn’t have a lid that needs room to open, so it only comes an inch or so further out into the room.

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    Something about the way the light streams in UNDER the table makes it look roomier. And the cedar chest by the door actually provides something like a seat for when Mom or Dad come by my room. Before, they needed to pick their way past me, around the computer, past the spinning wheel and the computer cables … mostly they lurked near the doorway. It’s just a shame the edges of the (cheap) filing cabinets look so crappy, from where the tape that held them closed when we moved tore off the laminate.

    I’m even going to try using the table as a desk, kind of—at least I can spread stuff out a little more when I do things like book reviews. Right now, sitting on the floor in the corner between my red chair and its ottoman, I need to either lean things against the spinning wheel treadles or prop them on the chair and then get a crick in my neck. (Because the computer itself is in my lap.) I’ll need some kind of nice, tall desk lamp, though, because it’s kind of dark over there at night.

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    Now, about the spinning wheel. I was sitting in my usual place Friday night and glanced, as I often do, at the wheel and … was that a crack?? It IS. My brand new, two-month-old Aura has a crack in the Spinning Head.

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    I sent an email to Majacraft and (naturally things like this always happen on weekends), they’re sending me a replacement. Isn’t that nice of them? Not only are their wheels stunning and efficient, but their customer service is great.

    What else? Chappy got to romp in the snow a little yesterday at the playground up the hill. It’s full of snow (not surprisingly) and he LOVED bounding through it like a puppy. He told me I called it quits way before he was ready, but I had thought we were only going for a walk, not a romp, so he didn’t have his coat on. His fur keeps him plenty warm for walks (if it’s warm enough for us to want to brave the cold, it’s warm enough for him), but the snow gets him WET and so when we play in snow, he usually has his water-resistant fleecy coat on. I didn’t hear him complaining, though.

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    He did have one of those odd little “events” Sunday. Sometimes it just seems like his back leg locks up and some massaging helps ease it away, but a couple times it’s been very much like a seizure. Yesterday’s was sort of in between—something about his hips was bothering him, but he sat UP instead of lying down, and was very much mentally present (and looking kind of worried). No drool. No shudders. Just “Mommy, I don’t like this!” And—don’t tell him I told you this—he had an accident all over my lap, poor little guy. But in about 5 minutes he was licking his paws and asking what we were doing for lunch, and did we want to go for a walk? (Because yes, it was AFTER this that we romped in the snow.)

    As to his blood work issues and the prednisone? We’re almost done! His blood counts have been excellent (knock on wood) and we’re down to half a pill every other day. This involves some extra mental gymnastics for me (“today-not-tomorrow” or “tomorrow-not-today,” and keeping it straight), but he’s worth it. This is the last decrease before he’s DONE, which also hopefully means I’ll be done with the monthly $100 vet visits.

    This winter sure is keeping us busy, though. I got to work at 8:00 one morning last week and the parking lot looked like this.

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    Completely empty except for my car, though luckily one of the other people (who comes in from Pennsylvania) was in, dropped off by her husband, so the doors were open and the alarm was off. (This last bit is important because I don’t have an outside-door key.) Usually there are about 8-10 people when I get there in the morning.

    Today, though? In the ice storm? The office was open, but … I got there at 8:00 and NOBODY was there. At all! And it wasn’t until about 8:15 that Gail arrived. She does have a key, but she was nervous about the alarm because it had been so long since she entered the code.

    It turns out that we should have been nervous because, she hit the wrong button while entering her code so that, somehow, we sent a distress signal to the police department. Not just the “alarm is going off” alert, but an actual alert as if we were being robbed. Oops! I don’t know how we managed that but we felt absolutely terrible! Thankfully the three officers who arrived were very nice and forgiving, but … talk about embarrassing.

    By 9:30 this morning, there were three of us at the office (there’s usually a full complement of about 35 by then). Around 10:00 there were four. And that was it. At noon, Gail went home and our part-time person showed up, holding the number at four. This was kind of ridiculous, I thought. Essentially nobody came to work today, but I was there, doing other people’s work because I was caught up with my own, so I decided that I’d come home for lunch and take the rest of the afternoon off. Reasonable, don’t you think?

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    This way, I got to watch Chappy barking as the icicles fell.

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    I also sat at the table in the window this afternoon, which worked very nicely. It’s a little drafty by the window, but my cute little handspun lap blanket worked wonderfully. It might get awfully hot in the summer, though, but I’ll deal with that when I get there, right?

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    And, lastly in this very long post—current knitting.

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    Here are the fronts of my Celtic Dreams cardigan, with that center cable broken in half.

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    This is what the back looks like, as a reminder.

    Man, I love these cables!

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    One last look at the icicles before I go.

    Books Read in January 2011

    Here are the books I read in January.

    1. Balance of Trade by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. An old favorite book from their Liaden series, following Jethri as he tries to learn Liaden manners as well as Trade. Love it, and am thrilled that the authors are planning a sequel.
    2. The Paradise War (The Song of Albion) by Stephen Lawhead. I love this author’s King Arthur series, and this book gets rave reviews at Amazon, but … I just can’t get into it. I’ve tried twice now, and while I finished it, I really didn’t care at all about the characters one way or another.
    3. Grant by Jean Edward Smith. Excellent biography of a great man. I didn’t know much about U.S. Grant other than that he won the Civil War and was elected President, but the more I read of this book, the more I liked him for his determination, his fairness, and his generosity of spirit. No histrionics or puffed-up ego, he just did the job he needed to do, every time, if humanly possible—and didn’t make excuses when it didn’t work out.
    4. The Case of the Missing Marquess: An Enola Holmes Mystery
    5. The Case of the Left-Handed Lady: An Enola Holmes Mystery
    6. The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets: An Enola Holmes Mystery
    7. The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan: An Enola Holmes Mystery
    8. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline: An Enola Holmes Mystery
    9. The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye: An Enola Holmes Mystery by Nancy Springer. Oh, oh, oh! These books were so much FUN!! Enola is the (much) younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, living with their mother and never seeing her brothers until, on her 14th birthday, their mother disappears. She sends word to her brothers who come and “threaten” her with boarding school since their mother has so obviously neglected to teach her the things she needs to know. How will she ever find a husband? But she wants nothing to do with boarding school (especially since she knows how detrimental they are to a girl’s health), and so she runs away. Except, knowing her brothers are brilliant, she runs to the last place they’d expect–London–where she starts looking for their mother as well as, along the way, a series of other missing people. All while trying to keep away from her brothers. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed these 6 books. Every time she bumped into or outsmarted her brothers, I wanted to cheer. I started with grave doubts (Sherlock Holmes with a younger SISTER?), but ended up loving everything about them. Except, well, that there are only 6 books. Totally fun.
    10. Learning to Swim: A Novel by Sara J. Henry. An advance-copy of this book which I’ll tell you you MUST read. Remember I told you about the contest I’ll be having closer to its release in a couple weeks? Trust me—you’re going to want to read this book. It all start when Troy, sees what she believes to be a person fall overboard from a passing ferry and, without thinking, dives in to save the life of a little boy. But when she gets him to land and doesn’t see any frantic parents or rescue crews, she starts to wonder—did he fall? Or was he thrown?
    11. Dark Lord of Derkholm
    12. Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones. An utterly delightful pair of YA fantasies by one of my favorite authors. Imagine an alternate universe that’s been turned into an amusement park for … us! And what happens when they all decide to rebel? (You know, in a fun, amusing way.)
    13. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era by James MacPherson. Well! There’s no question why this book won the Pulitzer Prize. What an excellent history of the Civil War. Totally fascinating.
    14. Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley. Retelling of Sleeping Beauty by a dearly-loved author.
    15. The Wealthy Freelancer: 12 Secrets to a Great Income and an Enviable Lifestyle by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Sauvage, Ed Gandia. Because who couldn’t use some great tips on how to be a better freelancer?
    16. Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel.
    17. Vintage Modern Knits: Contemporary Designs Using Classic Techniques by Courtney Kelley & Kate Gagnon Osborn.
    18. Knitting Plus: Mastering Fit + Plus-Size Style + 15 Projects by Lisa Shroyer.
    19. Fearless Fair Isle Knitting: 30 Gorgeous Original Sweaters, Socks, Mittens, and More by Kathleen Taylor

    VK Live

    Are you sitting down? I hope you’re sitting down, because here’s a shock.

    I went into New York this weekend.

    Yes! I know! That’s twice within 12 months. What is the world coming to?

    Well, what was coming was Vogue Knitting Live.

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    I didn’t sign up for any classes. I had thought about it when they announced the STELLAR group of knitters who would be there, but I figured, who knows what the weather would be like? (Not an unreasonable question, considering how storm-filled this winter has been so far.) But I had always thought that I MIGHT go in for the day. And since we had snow on Friday morning, but not Saturday… Mom and I decided to go.

    Can I just say here how much I love my mother? She doesn’t knit at all, but she’s always happy to go to knitting events like shearings and wool festivals and such to keep me company.

    So, Saturday, we got up early so we could catch the 8:14 train into Penn Station. We got one of those double-decker trains, so we went upstairs and chose seats right behind one of the “doubles” that face each other. This turned out to be a wonderful choice because a stop or so later, two moms and their four kids got on board, all dressed “up” for a special day in the city. From eavesdropping … well, is it really eavesdropping when the conversation is spoken at top volume by 3- and 4-year olds? Anyway, we learned that they were all going to the city for Disney on Ice, and they were all very excited. Very. The kids all sat in the seats in front of us, with their Moms across the aisle, and I’ve got to tell you—four children under the age of five can be very, very bad as train companions, but these four were just adorable. Happy. Excited. Just so darn cute.

    They clustered at the window with their noses pressed to the glass. They said cute things while eating the snacks their Moms had brought. And when did kids start having such adorable hats to wear? They told jokes, too. My mom and I both broke into quiet giggles when one of the kids said “Knock Knock” and the other three replied in chorus, “Who’s there?” Except for a little fidgeting, and with the help of an iPad movie to help the time pass for them, they were all so good on the train—especially for their ages. We were highly entertained the entire way. There’s something irresistible about little children laughing together, and this group did a lot of that. How can you possibly complain about HAPPY children?

    After we got to Penn Station, Mom and I did something that neither of us had ever done before.

    We took the subway.

    Mom has been adamant for my entire life that she refused to ride the subway. Now, granted, when I was little in the 70s, this was probably a wise choice. The New York subway was notorious (rightly or not) for being unsafe. But recently? It seemed a safe enough choice. Especially considering how COLD it was yesterday. Walking from Penn Station all the way up to 53rd Street was just way too long when we could catch a train for $2.50. So we did.

    The fun part, though? I have a good sense of direction, and I plan ahead, so even though I don’t know NYC well (read: at all), I knew where we were going. I knew we needed to take the E-train north. I knew what stop we needed. I knew where the hotel was in relation to that stop. But…

    We got to Penn Station and followed the signs to the subway, bought our tickets, and went through the turnstile for the E-train Uptown. But standing on the platform, there were flyers posted saying to use the Express Line. Um … huh? I hadn’t noticed any difference between Express or Local, and this had been the only platform I saw that said E. We weren’t the only ones confused though, and I heard another person down the platform saying, “They said we need to go down the stairs to the the Express,” so I walked further down and, sure enough, there were stairs. I beckoned to Mom and went exploring, all while she’s saying “We should ask someone.” But, yes, sure enough, there was a tunnel to another platform that we arrived at with perfect timing to catch the E train. Excellent.

    We got off at our stop and climbed the (many) stairs to the street and paused to figure out where we were. Going by the map I’d studied the night before, I knew we needed to walk along 53rd toward 6th, opposite the one-way traffic, but Mom was sure we needed to go to the left, so … okay, maybe she knows better. We started walking that way (brrr!) but … nope, that’s 8th Street. So we turned around to walk in the direction I’d wanted to go and found the hotel.

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    We bought our Marketplace tickets and … my God. What a madhouse! Talk about crowded. I said to Mom that it was like Rhinebeck with carpeting, it was so packed. Really crazy! But fun. Lots of vendors selling yarn and odds and ends. And Knitty City had a monopoly on book signings—all day long. I would have been happy just hanging out there all day to meet some of my favorite designers.

    As it was, I met Sally Melville, and told her how much I loved her books and that I’d made her Gray Cardigan and gave it to our Realtor when she found us our house. I met Beth Brown-Reinsel and stupidly didn’t think to tell her that I was in the middle of making her “Celtic Dreams” sweater for the second time.

    I also stupidly didn’t buy the nifty new “Vogue Knitting Knitopedia” book that debuted there. Not sure exactly how I missed that. You KNOW how much I love books of all kinds and knitting books in particular.

    By 12:30, though, Mom and I were both hungry and decided to take a break for lunch. We figured we’d want to leave the hotel, but that we’d look to see what they had first. I headed down the escalator, and Mom said, “But I thought I heard that woman say the food was on that floor?” “Really? I’m pretty sure the restaurant is on the lobby’s level, but…” So we turned around, went back up while she asked and… yep, I was right. Back down. Found the restaurant which (1) was expensive and (2) had a really long line. So we left and paused on the sidewalk to think. “I know right where to go,” I said, and started walking back in the direction we’d come. “Lindys?” Mom asked as we walked by, but no … Europa Café, which Mom loves. As luck would have it, I’d noticed it on the corner when we took our inadvertent detour leaving the subway. (So, chalk that one up to all’s well that ends well.)

    After lunch, we headed back to the VKLive Marketplace and hung out in the Lounge on the first floor for a bit, but then started thinking about how long it would take to get home, and how much Chappy must miss us, so we got up for one last circuit before leaving and, as luck would have it, bumped into a few people we knew. Ina (who took our picture for posterity), and Kim and Annie. I missed meeting Pixie Purl’s Brandy, though, which I was disappointed about. We TRIED coordinating via Twitter, but it just didn’t work. (I don’t know about her phone, but Verizon’s web service stinks, and it’s not like I have a smart phone which presumably is better.) I didn’t get to see Joanna Johnson, either, to tell her how adorable her new book is. (But it IS, and you should absolutely check it out.)

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    Heading back, we stopped at Crumbs bakery. (Conveniently located across the street from the subway AND across from where Mom was sitting while we ate lunch, so that she had time to see it.) Bought tickets, headed down to the E-train Downtown platform, got on the train … and Mom started worrying that it was the wrong train, and making enough fuss that she got ME doubting it, so we jumped off before the doors closed, only to realize that I was right after all and to luckily get on before it left. I told her I was NOT going to listen to her giving any directions for the rest of the day.

    Got to Penn Station, accidentally took the street exit from the subway platform rather than the tunnel back to the actual station, but that was okay. We had missed the 3:11 train by now and had 45 minutes before the next one at 4:11. And we won’t discuss that we accidentally turned the wrong way at the corner, but we realized before were even halfway down the block. Went into Penn Station. Went to the NJ Transit waiting area, and Mom started to freak that we weren’t at the right level for the trains. We needed to be downstairs to get the train. “But, this is the WAITING AREA and we’ve got 45 minutes. I am not going to stand down by the tracks for 45 minutes. They wouldn’t have the waiting area with these nice screens posting departures if we weren’t meant to use them.”

    “Okay, but my cellphone battery died. Call Dad and ask him to go pick up sandwiches for dinner so they’ll be there when we get home.” I called Dad and he more or less refused. He figured he’d be going out to get dinner, but he wanted a HOT sandwich, not something that had been sitting for two hours. And I did manage to get Mom to sit for almost 30 minutes before we headed down to the other platform to wait for them to list our departure track.

    The ride back wasn’t nearly as entertaining as the way in had been. No cute kids. It got dark outside before we were halfway home so looking out the window didn’t work. And I was even too tired to knit on my sock for more than a few minutes.

    Chappy was DELIGHTED to see us when we got home. Me especially (because I’m his favorite). He was also adamant that I was NOT allowed to do this again any time soon, particularly because it made his dinner about two hours later than usual.

    And if you’re wondering if I bought anything at the VK Live Marketplace?

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    Just some SOAK, which I needed anyway. I bought three small bottles in different scents for a change. Usually I use the Citrus scent, but variety is nice, right?

    Today I’ve been lazy. Or, relatively lazy. I got my review for Freddie’s Blanket posted, finished reading an 862-page book on the Civil War, did laundry, baked an apple pie. (Did you know it’s National Pie Day? Good thing Dad was willing to go to the store for the apples since Chappy refused to give me permission to leave the house.)

    I did the tiniest bit of spinning, too, for the first time in over a week. I had a hangnail on my right middle finger that got infected and had to wear a bandaid for a week. I hate wearing bandaids, especially on my finger tips, and that made spinning more or less impossible because I couldn’t feel the fibers properly to draft.

    Oh, and my new Celtic Dreams? I got the fronts (I told you it’s a cardigan version, right?) to the same length as the back while we watched a movie last night. (I know. I’m impressed I had the energy to knit, too.) Tonight I’ll join them together and it will finally start looking like a real sweater.

    I’ll also be watching Downton Abbey on PBS, too. Have you SEEN this show? It’s wonderful, a 1912-1913 period piece with an Upstairs/Downstairs kind of feel. Really wonderful.

    Mid-January

    Honestly, I don’t know what I’m going to do with this blog. I love this blog, but it’s got this weird glitch–not only does it often not show the current posts, but it’s draining a lot of bandwidth–way more than my modest little blog should pull, which makes my hosting provider very unhappy. (They’ve cut me off twice for going over my bandwidth allotment, and since I can’t figure out what the problem is, I wouldn’t be surprised if they cut it off a third time. At which point I’m in serious trouble because they’ve also got a three-strikes-and-you’re-out policy, of which I am currently living in terror.)

    You see my dilemma. I WANT to write new posts, share pictures, tell you folks what I’m knitting and doing, but am terrified that inviting you to come, you know, read stuff is going to cause me to exceed capacity.

    So, you know, try not to crowd.

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    Ideally, I’d re-install WordPress completely on the server and re-install my blog (with the hopes that the problem isn’t stored inside any of the blogpost/comment code), but I have no idea how to do that. I know how to do WordPress upgrades, but stripping the entire site back to the beginning and starting fresh? Way outside my coding skills. (Considering my programming skills are of the “click here to install” “Yes, okay” variety, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.)

    Or, I could change hosting providers, which is an option but certainly involves a fair amount of work–the research, the agony of moving everything. And it’s not just Chappysmom, either. It’s Knitting Scholar, too. But there’s no way I can afford to switch to their more expensive hosting plans, so…

    Anyway, in other news and speaking of being able to afford things, the newest thing here in Chappy’s house is the living room television. Our old TV, which dates back about 18 years, finally gave up the ghost yesterday. It’s not entirely a surprise because it’s been showing signs of failing for a while. We weren’t even sure it would survive the jostling of the move 14 months ago, so we’re grateful to it for hanging in there as long as it could. But, obviously, we need a television, so last night the three of us went out to buy one.

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    As much as I prefer to buy things on the internet (if only because of sheer laziness and entropy so that, once I’m home from work, I want to STAY there), this required an in-store purchase. Like trying on shoes, it’s definitely best if you can SEE the screens beforehand–the clarity, the brightness, the color. All that stuff you can’t see on a computer monitor.

    More importantly, buying from PC Richards means that they not only deliver (and install) the television, they take the old one away. I can’t over-emphasize the importance of this. Our current television is, in a word, huge. Massive. Monolithic. It’s an old-style console tv with shelves, speakers and screen all in one, big piece of furniture. And I mean big. Not only that, it has a swivel base–the bottom inch is a piece of wood on which the rest of the (enormous) unit sits. This is handy because, sure, if you want to turn it an inch or three because of glare from the sun, you can do so without having to move X-number of pounds of electronics. But it’s also incredibly UN-handy because it means moving the actual television becomes impossible without actually lifting it. If you want to move it 6 inches to the left, well, you’re out of luck unless you have a body-builder in the family. (Especially when you’re in a townhouse with wall-to-wall carpeting so you can’t even slide the thing.)

    So, Saturday, they’ll bring us our new television and take away the old, and in the meantime, we’ve got this little 14″ television that used to live in our old kitchen balanced on the top for our television-viewing pleasure.

    Oh–the other thing? Since we’ll now have a flat-screen tv, we need someplace to put it … which means a table. So today, Mom and Dad headed to IKEA to buy a television stand that I’ll put together on Friday to be ready for the PC Richards delivery sometime on Saturday.
    The delivery also includes setup, but I don’t think they’ll be able to handle it. Not really. Because we’re still so old-school a family that we still own and use our VCR. Not only for watching old VHS tapes (yes, we still own a few dozen), but also to watch basic cable when the DVD-recorder is busy recording something on another channel from the cable box.

    We also have a DVD/hard-drive recorder that we use to temporarily record shows … it’s not a DVR. (Much as I would love one, that’s not an option.) No, this is the kind of recorder you need to manually program, but it gives the option of recording to the hard drive (like a DVR) or to a DVD. Which is great, because I like having hard-copy of shows I want to watch again … except the actual DVD drive broke last summer, so we also have a stand-alone DVD-recorder which stands between the HDD-recorder and the television so that we can, in theory, play something off the harddrive, record it to DVD on its way, and watch it all at the same time.

    Hey, I told you we were old-school. It’s a fairly elaborate system of not-entirely-current technology, but it works.

    The trick is that I am the only one in the family who understands where each item stands in the system. The cable comes in from the wall and gets split to the VCR which goes directly to the tv, but also into the cable box, to the DVD/HDD recorder, to the DVD recorder (which we also use to play movies) to the television.

    Adding in high-def into this mix is going to be interesting. Because it’s not like we have a multitude of high-def cables for all of this!

    So, there’s that. I wanted to buy some of the pretty newly-dyed yarn from Juniper Moon Farm, but, well, I just bought a television. (Or half a television since Mom, Dad and I are splitting the cost, but still. You know what I mean.)

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    In knitting, I’m making the Celtic Dreams again, did I tell you? This time in Juniper Moon Farm yarn.

    The difference is that I’m turning it into a cardigan because, let’s face it, I wear cardigans about 98% of the time and pullovers almost never. This means I need to choose a cable for the front edges, even though I love the center-back cable. I thought about just putting it at both front edges and overlapping them with buttons, but it’s 22-stitches wide and I don’t think it would look right. (I think it would look dreadful, to be entirely honest.)

    We celebrated Dad’s LXXIVth birthday this week, too. Just in case you were keeping track.

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    I also spent a lot of time last weekend going through my recipes. I’ve got lots of recipe. I’ve shown you before, a long time ago.

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    So, I went through all my recipes … all of them … and weeded out the ones I didn’t need anymore. And I went back to the original sites of all the ones that came off the internet and then copy/pasted the recipes into Word, so I could throw away the paper printouts. Then I went through yet again and took all the photo copies that I had taken of recipes from magazines and typed all those recipes into Word, too so I could throw away THOSE paper copies.

    What’s left is just index cards. SO much neater! I can actually flip through my recipes without having to cram my fingers between cards. Ultimately, I’d like to get all of these typed into the computer, too (for backup if nothing else),but at the moment, I feel I can live with this (grin).

    Coming Soon: Learning to Swim

    Here’s a special opportunity for you!

    I’ve got an ARC  (that’s Advanced Reader’s Copy) of Sara J. Henry’s new book, Learning to Swim and YOU COULD WIN IT!

    Not only that, Sara is going to be coming here for an interview on her blog tour. I read her blog all the time and I couldn’t be more excited.

    How about you? Excited yet?

    Here are some of the quotes from Amazon:

    • Learning to Swim is a thriller of the most thrilling kinda smart and crafty story with whiffs of Rebecca that insists from the first sentence that you sit down and not stand up again until you’ve read the last word. Tell your loved ones to take care of themselves.” Quinn Cummings, author of Notes from the Underwire

    • “With a strong believable cast of characters and a breathtaking plot, it’s a non-stop thrilling ride that’s impossible to put down.”  Cat Connor, author of Killerbyte and Terrorbyte

    • “If The Usual Suspects and a Jodi Picoult novel had a love child, it would be Learning to Swim—a thought-provoking, evocative, and thrilling read.” Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy

    • “A mesmerizing confluence of mystery, intrigue, and suspense, with undercurrents of deep personal drama…Learning to Swim will hook you from the first page.” —Jamie Ford, bestselling author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
    • “From the grabber beginning to the heartfelt conclusion, Sara J. Henry’s Learning to Swim is an auspicious debut … Fresh setting, well-realized characters, cleanly written, with a mysterious and suspenseful story – just what I was looking for.”  – Daniel Woodrell, award-winning author of The Death of Sweet Mister and Winter’s Bone
    • “Impressive…Henry adroitly handles Troy’s exposure to new emotions as she re-examines her life and relationships.” - Publisher’s Weekly

    • “In her debut, the first in a projected series, Henry proves herself to be a smooth and compelling storyteller. And her lead is highly appealing: An athletic, fiercely independent young woman who, like crime-fiction author Gillian Flynn’s feisty females, is capable of making delightfully acerbic observations.” -Booklist

    So much praise, and the book isn’t even out yet!

    Stay tuned for Sara’s visit–and your opportunity to win this copy of her fantastic new book!

    Full Weekend

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    Mom and I went into the center of town yesterday morning for coffee as we usually do on a Saturday. The unusual thing? Look how empty this street is! There are some cars parked on the right, clustered in front of the diner, but … no traffic. Literally dozens of available parking spaces. All at 10:00 on a Saturday morning. I’ve literally never seen Broadway so empty.
    It was so unheard of, I had to stop to take pictures.

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    I finished my current knitting project–this square shawl/blanket knit in my handspun. (It’s folded into quarters for blocking, so that it fits on my blocking board.)

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    I had THIS much yarn left when I was done!

    Next up? I’m thinking an Aran sweater in my JMF yarn. I wound off 2 balls of it earlier and just need to make a swatch.

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    Unpinned, it’s almost impossible to get a good photo of my shawl/blanket that doesn’t look like a shapeless blob, so the best I can do is to show it in action.

    I’ve spent the weekend reorganizing my closet and my knitting stash–including repurposing some sweaters. I felted three storebought ones that I now just need to figure out what to do with–but at least the fulling part is done. Now I just need to figure out what to DO with them. SUGGESTIONS?? Bags? Slippers? Oven mitts? My only mistake was that one was a wool/angora blend, and while it fulled wonderfully, it generated tons of lint (thank God for zippered pillowcases) and the finished fabric is kind of … hairy.

    Anyway.

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    I took my old Autumn Dreams which NEVER fit right and felted it. The arms, voila, will now be wrist-warmers, and I’m going to turn the body into a purse. I just need to figure out how to attach those handles.

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    These handknits have never been satisfactory, either.

    The Manos Sweater, which I designed (more or less) shortly after restarting knitting in 2004, ended up with Romulan shoulders. The Romulan version of Tasha Yar (whose name I forget) would have loved it. The yarn is gorgeous, though, in that golden brown color (called “Topaz” here) I love so much.

    (I also love how, even unraveled, you can still see exactly how the stitches were laid out.)

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    The other was my Olympics Sweater from the 2006 Knitting Olympics.

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    Oh, and the green one? I’m thinking it would make a nice pillow. It’s always been problematic. I never found a zipper I liked for it, and the weight of the hood makes it pull backwards when you’re wearing it. It’s just … weird. But the cables are gorgeous and I love the apple green Cashmerino yarn. It’s just that … the thought of unraveling all the seams to repurpose that sweater seems very, very wearying. Sewing it into a pillow shape seems much easier.
    So, I unraveled them. With this assistant who helped hold the sweater upright:
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    I must say, it was helpful that I was the one who knitted these sweaters in the first place. Even though it’s been YEARS, I still remembered the direction of the knitting, how they were assembled, when the sleeves were added. All that stuff. They both just took forever because of the colorwork. Frogging colorwork is much harder than frogging all one color.

    Today, I washed all the yarn.

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    I also pulled out ALL my yarn from the closet and sorted through it, reacquainting myself with all the beautiful stuff in my stash. I also weeded out a pile of yarn I don’t really need anymore.

    I’ve come to accept that my stash is made up of three things. Sweater-sized lots of yarn. Yarn for socks. Yarn for lace. Anything else–medium-sized quantities for, say, matching hat and mittens or single skeins that aren’t sufficient for a full pair of socks–tends to never, ever get used.

    I really need to accept that I like larger projects and stop BUYING yarn for small or medium-sized stuff. With the exception of socks, because I like handknit socks AND they’re perfect for carrying in my purse. By rights, I should get rid of bunches more yarn that falls outside my usual knitting projects but … it’s so pretty!

    I hope 2011 is going wonderfully for all of you!