First things first–

061711_0012

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:

061711_0014b

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?

061911_0009

061911_0004

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

061911_0001

Not particularly helpful.

051811_0017b

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.

051811_0013b

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.

051811_0003b

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!

P_May_2011_019

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

Let’s see, what else?

My sister enjoyed her birthday present:

061011_0045

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.

061011_0033-b

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

061811_0015

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

050111_0070

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.

050111_0072

Did I tell you I need to buy a zipper?

041511_0041

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?

040711_0056

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?

050611_0006

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?

040911_0043

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?

050111_0080
(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?

050611_0102

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.

110509_0015

120609_0034b

030910_0013v

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.

041511_0037

042011_0002

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.

So, let’s see….

021311_0007

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.

021011_0016

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).

jbyarncrawl_021911_0002
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.

021911_0002
We started at the Stitching Bee in Chatham.

021911_0003
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).

021911_0040
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.)

021911_0047
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!

021911_0006
I took a picture of the owner, but it didn’t come out very well.

021911_0009
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.

jbyarncrawl_021911_0006
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.

021911_0016
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.

021911_0018
Third stop, about which the less said the better, is Accent on Knits.

021911_0019
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).

jbyarncrawl_021911_0007
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.

021911_0021
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.

021911_0024
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.

021911_0023
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!

021911_0027
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.)

jbyarncrawl_021911_0016
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.

021911_0038
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.)

021911_0044
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!

021911_0051
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.

020811_0026b
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.

021311_0013
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.

021311_0004
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!

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.

013011_0092b

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.

012711_0076b

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.

013011_0096b

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.

013011_0094b

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.

012911_0008b

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.

012711_0073b

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.

012711_0069b

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?

012711_0079b

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

020211_0045

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?

020211_0025

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

020211_0032b

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

020211_0036b

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

Man, I love these cables!

012711_0085b

One last look at the icicles before I go.

So, what am I spinning?

122310_0002b

This pretty, olive green Corriedale from the Sheep Shed. This was my birthday gift last year, two 8 ounce loops of the darker green, and one 8 ounce loop of the lighter.

122310_0007b

The amazing part is that I’ve already spun 8 ounces of it, and it all fits on one bobbin. (Got to love that.)

122310_0005b

The bobbin, incidentally, is resting on my new lazy kate. I got it from Ogle Designs. I love the design of their kates–two pieces that fold together, making it easy to carry around. But when assembled?

122010_0007b

It holds the bobbins at a 45-degree angle. They made mine custom for me, with the pins far enough away that it will hold the large, Aura bobbins.

122310_0005b

Right now, there’s just one bobbin on there, but give me a little time … there will be three soon.

122010_0001b

They were nice enough to include some bonus fiber with the order, too. Wasn’t that nice of him?

122310_0009b

Here’s what I’m knitting at the moment. It’s almost impossible, I know, to see anything other than a big, gray blob, but it’s a pretty, SOFT gray blob. Frankly, I’m pretty curious myself, how it’s going to look!

122010_0017b

Chappy’s trying to rest up. Tomorrow is the family Christmas celebration. Today, of course, was Gloating Day, which went really well until Mom had some kind of allergic reaction to her Peppermint Mocha at Starbucks. The only thing we can figure is she got hers with soy milk because I had MINE with soy milk. (She often lets me order first and then just says, “Make that two.”) While we were sitting, gloating, and watching the woman in the chair across from us nap, her throat and lips started to itch. Luckily she had a Claritin in her purse because that seemed to help. It did put a damper on Gloating festivities, though.

Obviously, if we’re Gloating, we’re ready for Christmas. We stopped at the grocery store for stuff for some baked French Toast for Christmas morning. (Like, you know, bread. You can’t do french toast without bread and all we had in the house was rye–not the best french toast bread.)

Now, as a feel-good link for you? Check out this inspiring post over at the Bloggess. If that doesn’t restore your faith in humankind and the power of the internet, I don’t know what will.

121210_0016b

This is what my first bobbin of totally-Aura-spun yarn looks like. That’s a full 8 ounces of 2-ply yarn and is half of my “sweater lot” corriedale from Spunky Eclectic.

121110_0030

Here are the singles of the second half, spun in record time.

121910_0006

And those singles plied and wound off onto my skein winder.

All in all, I have something like 850 yards of yarn here, though I need to wash the second skein.

BIG skeins, too. I’m loving that the Aura has such huge bobbins!

I got a lot of spinning done today, too. Kim came over and brought her new Schacht Matchless and we and our new wheels hung out and spun for a few hours this morning, which was so much fun. Chappy was delighted too, not least because he got to eat the crumbs from our coffeecake.

Just in case you folks were wondering, I just got the results for Chappy’s latest blood platelet count, and they’re excellent! You’d never know he’d been sick … although he’s still on prednisone, as we wean him off. He’s down to one pill a day, which will drop to half a pill in about two weeks, and presumably none at all a month after that. The vet yesterday said that you’d never know he was on prednisone at all, he looked so good.

Actually, he was adorable at the vet yesterday. When we took him for his last checkup/blood test a month ago, he was impatient. He didn’t want to be there, and he fidgeted through the exam, squirming to get off the table. Not in an out-of-control kind of way, or desperate, just … making sure we all knew that he did NOT want to be there. The vet said that that’s not uncommon with dogs who come frequently, because of course, they really don’t want to be there and seem to think, “But, I was just here, why do I have to do this again?”

Well, Friday, it was like Chappy wanted to show the vet how mature he really is. He sat nicely in the waiting room instead of pacing. (Though I could see his fur vibrating a little from nerves, and of course, he did suggest a few times that we could just go back out the door we came in.) When they called us in to the exam room, he went straight to the scale to be weighed (35.4 lbs, which is perfect for him) and was good while the technician took his temperature. After she left and we were waiting for the actual vet, he sat and just watched the door, waiting. There were some out-of-control kids running around out in the waiting area and he would turn his head every time they ran past the door (I don’t know what their mother was thinking), but mostly, he just SAT, watching the door the vet would come in. When she did come in, he stayed seated, instead of darting away or acting scared or immature. He was so GOOD through the whole exam. A little protest when they drew the blood, but otherwise … such a GOOD boy!

While there, I asked about his eyes, because they always seem dilated (something the vet had mentioned in passing a few visits ago, but when we were more concerned with the blood platelets). I don’t remember what she called it, but apparently there’s something not uncommon to older dogs that make the muscles in the eye unable to contract all the way around the pupil? Her description of it was funny. “Well, he can’t read the newspaper any more.” I just love that analogy for how good/bad his vision is … because, naturally, it’s only puppies who read newspapers every day!

121910_0004

One more look at my pretty yarn. I haven’t counted the wpi, but I’d say it’s about sport/DK weight. All worsted spun, for strength and wear. Love the colors.

And, folks, I know there are still problems with my blog. It still keeps ignoring all my recent posts and putting that October “Weekender” post at the top … but only some of the time. And things are still running slowly, and I have NO idea why. I wish I did. I’m living in fear that they’re going to shut the blog down on me again for exceeding my bandwidth when I have no idea how to fix things. I’m trying not to freak out about it, though.

120810_0004b

I think Chappy is feeling better. He stole Mom’s slipper the other day for the first time in weeks, and he fluffed Mom and Dad’s pillows tonight. Something he’s technically not allowed to do, but that he feels obliged to do every once in a while.

But mostly, he’s been playing.

Specifically with this toy. Mom and I pulled it out of his toy basket Monday and played “Chappy in the middle” for a while at lunch. But last night, he decided to play with it. To really play with it.

120810_0009b

He started squeaking it around 8:15 while we were watching the Charlie Brown Christmas special. (He even missed Snoopy’s dance on Schroeder’s piano, he was so involved.) Around 8:45, though, the squeak started to die out, but it didn’t stop him. Something about the flavor, smell, and texture of this toy just had him captivated.

He chewed on this toy for almost two hours straight. I stayed downstairs an hour longer than usual to give him a chance to play, but he surprised me and carried it upstairs at bedtime. I think that’s the first time I’ve ever seen him carry a toy up the stairs. Ever. And then he played with it for another hour or so, took a little nap, and then played for another 20 minutes before bed.

When we moved into the bedroom at 11:45, he gave some serious thought about bringing the toy with him, but decided to leave it behind. But this morning? It was his first stop, running in here to get the toy before heading down the hallway to say good morning to his grandparents. Dad found him napping with the toy between his paws.

120810_0010b

I can’t tell you how enchanting we all think this is. Except for sleeping or walking in a park, I can’t remember the last time Chappy spent three hours doing ANYTHING. Even as a puppy, he rarely chewed on a toy for more than a half an hour or so, and he’s never really been an obsessive dog about toys. This is ADORABLE. Endearing. It’s just so darn cute.

Of course, all this adoration is taking its toll.

120910_0043b

Not only has he torn strips out of this toy, but he’s swallowed some of it, which is why I’ve currently taken it away from him. The latex pieces won’t hurt him, but still … there’s a limit to how much he should swallow in 24 hours, right? Especially considering he’s been under the weather and all.

Still, all this playing is very encouraging in regard to his general state of health. We dropped his prednisone dose last week so now he’s getting one pill a day. (He started at two a day in October, and dropped to one and a half a month ago, and down to one last week.) He’s still thirstier than usual, though nothing like how he had been in October. But … it’s good to see him playing again. I mean, he’s a mature, pretty mellow 9-year old, so it’s not like he plays all the time, or anything, but … it’s good to see.

Now, about knitting.

120910_0046

I finished that sweater I was making but haven’t bothered to sew the buttons on it, yet. It’s done, the ends are woven in, and it’s okay and all, but … Eh. I feel so neutral about this sweater, I completely forget about it for days at a time, which means I might end up frogging the thing and reusing the yarn (whose color, difficult though it is to photograph, is just lovely).

120910_0051b

I started this the other night, using the 5-year handspun I finished last month.

Blue Square Shawl

It’ll be similar to this old shawl of mine (this was my very first attempt at lace, something like 15 years ago), but probably bigger, with the intent that it will be more like a blanket than a shawl. And, well, my handspun!

Speaking of…

120910_0037b

I told you the Aura bobbins were big, right? The same size as a Majacraft jumbo plying bobbin? Five inch diameter? Well, believe me, because this is 4 ounces of fiber, and the bobbin barely looks half full.

120910_0042b

I love the colors of this fiber.

Now, I might have been able to fit the entire 8 ounces on one bobbin, but since I only have three bobbins (that I can use), I’m only putting 4 on each, and crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to fit all of it to ply onto the third bobbin. At which point I’ll have two more free bobbins for the other 8 ounces I’ve got.

Have I mentioned today that I love my new Majacraft Aura?

120910_0049b

Here’s the yarn I plied on it the other day. This was actually soft-spun using some kind of “I’m still figuring this out” long draw, which is why it’s so uneven. The plying though? Really consistent because, again, the Aura … love it.

Okay, time for bed for me!

120510_0001b

Here’s what’s next up for me, spinning-wise. This is a pound of Corridale from Spunky Eclectic, a “Sweater Lot,” dyed just for me in color “Diesel.”

120510_0004b

It’s lovely. Blues, browns, and grays, in a subtle mix. It’s not an almost-solid color like I usually prefer for larger projects, but I love it.

120510_0010

And I don’t think I need to worry about being able to spin fine yarns on this lovely new Aura of mine, huh?

I finished playing with that experimental bobbin of mine, and the other night I plied two bobbins of Humbug that I finished spinning on my Gem a week or so ago. I have to say, this was such a treat for plying. Because of the modified double-drive (and, you know I’ve never spun on a traditional double-drive), the tension and take-up are consistent from the beginning of the bobbin to the end–no tweaking the brake line as the bobbin fills up. It was such a treat!

Mom and I went to the craft show yesterday, the one we go to almost every December. It was fun, we saw some lovely stuff, but we both resisted the temptation to buy anything. We decorated our tiny little Christmas tree this afternoon (still getting used to the idea of a table-top tree). I made about 7 quarts of vegetable soup. I baked a cake today, too. A gingerbread cake with lemon frosting. Oh, and chicken stew with homemade biscuits for supper. Yum!

Dad’s out running an errand for me. I placed an order a couple weeks ago with MAC cosmetics–the first since we moved last year–and even though I specifically changed my address and clicked the “shipping address same as billing address” box, somehow it got shipped to our old house. Several days ago, in fact. I contacted MAC to explain and they very nicely sent me a replacement package which arrived on Thursday. Well, tonight we got a call from our old house, telling us they had a package of ours, which Dad just left to go pick up for me. I’ll have to let MAC know that I got the original package–because that’s the decent thing to do, right?

Chappy’s doing well, though he’s been quiet the last couple days. I think that’s mostly due to the fact that he hasn’t had a walk in days. The weather just hasn’t cooperated. I think he’s bored.

Oh! I just remembered that my laundry is still in the dryer. Since I have a dreadful time remembering that last step, I’m going to go take care of it right now while I’m thinking of it. Hope your weekend was a good one!

It’s the season for gifts, right? Even ones for oneself? I’m so grateful that I was able to buy this guilt-free, what with that Christmas bonus from work. I’ve only ever gotten a couple of those, so it was a special treat this year–and well-timed, too, what with Chappy’s vet bills recently.

About that, incidentally? We’re dropping his prednisone dose as of today to one pill a day, with a follow-up blood test in a week or so. Fingers crossed.

Now, about this lovely new gift.

120110_0009b

It arrived in pieces, requiring a lot more assembly than my Little Gem did.

120110_0016b

The center section gets screwed to the base.

120110_0019b

The treadles are screwed on. (Reminding me that we really need a better Phillips head screwdriver.)

120110_0021v

The spinning head, the crank assembly, et cetera, et cetera, and eventually you have something that looks like this.

120110_0022b

And a box full of styrofoam pieces that make you hope you will never need to try to get this disassembled and put back in the box for any reason whatsoever (grin).

120110_0010b

Let’s not forget the signature and number on the bottom, shall we?

120210_0017

The actual wheel is absolutely beautiful. The Rimu wood has such a gorgeous grain to it.

120210_0005

Here’s a slightly blown-out photo of the back of the wheel. I love the way the crank shaft and rods look.

120210_0006

Here’s a spinner’s-eye view.

120210_0011

The bobbins are HUGE. Here’s an Aura bobbin right next to a regular Majacraft plastic bobbin–a bobbin which is already on the large side, as bobbins go, but dwarfed next to the Aura bobbin. They are pretty, too, made of bamboo with fiberglass centers.

120210_0012

In fact, the Aura bobbins are the same size as the jumbo, plying bobbins. The only problem I have right now is that I can’t use the plying bobbin I have with my Aura. Look closely at the Aura bobbin in this photo–see those two little holes? Those fit over the pins on the spinning head, and only bobbins with those holes will work.

I’m hoping, actually, to trade this older wooden plying bobbin with one of newer vintage. All the Maja bobbins made since last Spring have these little holes, and if I want to find someone who has a newer plying bobbin but NOT an Aura who is willing to trade. If you know any such person, please let me know!

120210_0003-1

Here’s what I’ve spun so far. The wheel … did I tell you I bought it from Copper Moose, who had by far the best price I found … came with two free pounds of BFL, which is a treat because it made me feel free to play to my heart’s content last night. Experimenting with the different settings and such. The Aura is a modified double-drive, you see, so the strength of the pull and the speed of it are controlled by two different drive bands.

I not only tested my old familiar standby of short forward-pull worsted-type drafting, but played with long draw and spinning from the fold, too. I was able to spin as fine as I liked which was reassuring because it was the one thing I worried about, since this is a “slow” wheel. I’m already having fun. As I say, the free fiber is a real bonus because I’m not worrying about “wasting” anything while I play.

Yep. Happy so far! This wheel is a beauty … and, um, it’s calling so … got to go!

First up, an update on Chappy:

103110_0005b

His blood-platelet counts from Friday’s visit … 301! (Normal is 170-400; first visit was 63; second visit was 183.) This is great, because we can start reducing the prednisone … slooooowly. The problem is that she wants to see him about every two weeks for more blood work to make sure the counts stay good as the prednisone drops … but that’s about $100 a visit. Yikes!

Is there any real reason–as long as we don’t see any frightening symptoms–that we couldn’t wait the full month until the next dosage-drop is imminent to go for the blood work? I mean, if he seems healthy, is that interim visit really necessary? Confirming the counts are good before dropping the dose, I understand, but going next week, just to be sure things are still good? This is getting VERY pricey!

Mind you, Chappy’s totally worth it, but since he seems perfectly fine except for medicine side effects (thirsty, panting, weak leg) … as a loving but cash-strapped Mom, is the extra $100 visit in-between REALLY necessary?

Here’s an odd thing, though–the tip of his nose has gotten darker. Like, almost black instead of its usual, matches-the-chocolate-fur shade of brown. The vet says she’s never heard of such a thing!

102810_0001b

Of course, it doesn’t help that I fell down the Buy More Yarn hole. All those reports from Rhinebeck about the Sanguine Gryphon yarns finally got to me.

I bought three skeins of sock yarn–all with incredible yardage, and all on sale (which eases the guilt). I WAS only going to buy one, to scratch that new-yarn itch, but …

102810_0002

First there was this one, Caelus, in a gorgeous, impossible-to-photograph combination of blues and greens, but which I love.

102810_0004b

Then there was this one … perfect colors for me, with that golden-brown, autumn thing, BUT it was the color name that finally sold it … Scorpio. Because you know of course that i am a Scorpio, and with my birthday just a week away, well…

102810_0003b

Then I figured … why not? And went for the pot-luck option and had her add another skein in a surprise-to-me color, and got this beauty. A subtle blend of gray, blue, and green, and really just lovely.

Of course, I ordered all this BEFORE all the expensive follow-up vet visits reared their collective head, but it’s not like yarn goes bad or anything, right? Gorgeous sock yarn is good forever, so it’s just something nice for my stash.

Actually, I really need new socks. I love wearing handknit socks, but tend to get bored making them. I carry an in-progress pair in my purse for spare moments of knitting, but those moments tend to be about half an hour while out for coffee with Mom on Saturday mornings. So, it takes FOREVER to get through a pair. My current sock project dates back to something like March or May or some far-distant date, and I’m not even done with the first sock yet.

This is only a problem because too many of my current socks have holes in them and I stink at mending and, anyway … new socks would be VERY useful. Especially, you know, since I have all this lovely yarn.

103110_0001b

The sweater I’m making is boring me, too. It’s all garter-stitch (except for a small embellishment on the fronts) and … yawn. Pretty and all, but not exciting to knit.

103110_0008b

The shawl is coming along, too, but not exactly speeding. It’s pretty enough, though the color is kind of dull.

I’ve barely sat at my spinning wheel since we got home from MV, either, so it’s languishing with the being-plied silk/merino blend just sitting there. I’m feeling guilty about that. That yarn is never going to be convinced that I love it (and I do) … not when it’s taken me 5 years to get it this far.

But then, I’ve also had my eye on a new one and have been putting money aside to save up for it … until, you know, all these vet bills. Chappy’s vet has pretty much stolen my new-wheel fund, since we’re at about the $600 mark and still counting. Obviously it’s going to be a while before I get a closer look at a Majacraft Aura, huh? Even I can’t justify spending $900 on a new spinning wheel when (1) I’ve got Chappy’s health to think about and (2) am not even spending serious time on the wheel I HAVE.

One thing I HAVE been spending time with? Sherlock over on PBS. Did you see it? It’s a re-imaging of the Sherlock Holmes/Dr. Watson story, but set in modern-day London. (I have no trouble picturing a current Sherlock sending text messages instead of telegrams, do you?) Last week was the first episode (available free online until December 7th if you missed it), and tonight is part 2. I can’t wait. The actors are perfect for their roles (even if Benedict Cumberpatch’s Sherlock speaks rather too fast sometimes, but then, I imagine the “real” Sherlock did, too). I love the friendship between the two of them, and am tickled that the Victorian-era Watson was newly returned from military action in Afghanistan, and so is this one. Some things never change.

Not that I love it more than Chuck, of course. Chuck is still my favorite show on TV.

For those keeping score at home–it was 11 years ago yesterday that I brought Katy home. This is notable because–well, other than that I love her–the days of the week this year are the same as they were in 1999 when I got her. So Thursday night I was thinking about getting the news that her breeder hadn’t received his check. Friday I was thinking about all the phone calls we made back and forth between them and UPS, and her new travel plans, to come on Saturday instead of Sunday. Yesterday, I kept remembering about the trip to the airport (singing “K-K-K-Katy” with Mom in the car), and everybody’s reaction when they saw her. (“Awwww!”)

Not to mention how very weird she must have thought New Jerseyans were on this, her first full day here, with all the very, very odd people ringing the doorbell!

And then, of course, there was this weekend LAST year … movers came on Halloween to pack up my library, and then on Sunday Mom and I packed up the kitchen and all the other odds and ends, all in preparation for the Move-That-Wouldn’t-End on Monday. (Here’s the recap with photos.)

You realize that means that we’ve been here for almost a year now, right? Wow.

101710_0011

I don’t want you to think that all this fuss about Chappy has kept me from, you know, doing other stuff.

Remember how I told you that I hoped to get all my singles spun before we left for Martha’s Vineyard last week? Well, I did. That’s a pound of merino/silk right there. Pretty, huh? I’ve just started plying them. (Though I’ll admit that I haven’t found as much time to sit at my wheel lately.)

102010_0002b

Then there’s the shawl I’m working on. Remember I told you about it? The Faraway, So Close shawl? This is the Briar Rose yarn that I got for my birthday two years ago.

102010_0006b

Even with the white-balance in the camera tweaked, though, I’m having trouble capturing the color. (One of these days I should get a white box.) It’s really darker than this, though the color subtleties are all in there.

102010_0008

And Chappy’s hanging in there. He’s been quiet today, and for a wonder, he didn’t want to finish his breakfast this morning. Though, mostly, he ate around the part with yogurt. I always add yogurt to his food for those active cultures to make his digestive system happy–something I’m making SURE to do right now since he’s on such strong antibiotics. My guess is that his stomach’s a little sensitive right now and the yogurt’s not appealing to him–even though it should ultimately help. Not that he knows that!

Oh, and here’s an internet mystery for you … a couple times this month, all the October posts have disappeared from the main page of my blog. They’re still all there in the Archives, but they’re not showing on the front page–not even in the list of recent posts on the sidebar.

I have no idea how or why that’s happening, or what to do about it. Any suggestions? It seems to be working right now, but it wasn’t this morning.  Any ideas?

First things first–

IMG_2021

Happy 47th anniversary, Mom and Dad!

This picture is actually from Mom’s bridal shower, not the wedding, but I love how happy they look. (Which isn’t to say they don’t look happy in their wedding pictures, of course, but I don’t happen to have any of them handy at the moment.) But, anyway, it’s what they looked like 47 years ago, give or take.

100510_0003b

To celebrate, I brought home a cannolli cake after work, which was fine, I guess, but not as good as it looked.

100510_0008

Though it definitely looked good. It was just the right size, too. Each of us had a quarter, which was just about right.

100510_0010

Naturally, Chappy had some also. (I do so love that pleading look he gets while waiting for permission to clean off a dish.)

100410_0004b

I’ve been neglectful about keeping you informed of my knitting. So here’s a picture of my current project. The yarn color is a blue-green sea-kind of color, Kamchatka Seamoss from Peace Fleece, though it’s darn hard to photograph. The pattern is the Greenfield Cardigan from New England Knits. It’s a nice, basic, top-down, garter-stitch, raglan cardigan. There are a couple leaf details coming up, but really, this is about it. Very simple (yawn). I mean, in a good way! It’s going to be a perfectly nice sweater (I hope), but it’s not exactly a thrill to knit. Because, um, easy and low-thought though garter stitch is, it’s not exactly an adrenalin rush.

Chappy’s not himself today. I think he’s stiff, because he periodically sits up and kind of quiver-stretches his lower spin, and he’s been rather quiet. I think the problem is that he hasn’t had enough walks lately, with the weather being so wet. I’m sitting here thinking about where I might plug in the heating pad so that he might benefit for a while. That usually seems to help. At the very least, it helps me feel like I’m doing something. (You understand.)

Hey–Rhinebeck-goers! Did you know that Stitchy McYarnpants is reviving Blogger Bingo this year? Woohoo! I’ve already signed up to be a square.

My current goal is to finish spinning up that never-ending roving of mine. Remember? I started spinning up the last pound of it last month. (I mean, it’s only taken me 5 years to get this far.) I want to at least get it spun into singles, if not plied by Rhinebeck, and it’s looking promising. I’m on the last 4 ounces now, and am past the halfway point on the last bobbin. I’d actually like to get it done this week, before we leave for MV–just in case I decide to bring my spinning wheel with me. (Because, I only have 4 Majacraft bobbins and this will use them all. I really need to get more of these some day.)

I DID tell you we were going to Martha’s Vineyard, right? We’re so excited. The last time we were there was when we dog-sat for a friend a year ago April. The year before, we went up for the (then) Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm Shearing Festival. We haven’t actually had a “normal” MV vacation since 2007. (By “normal,” I mean just us going up and hanging out–though we hope to see friends, if we can.) We’re leaving on Saturday and we can’t wait.

082910_0040

The body of my bag is done. Isn’t it pretty?

Okay, I know, you can’t really tell yet, but trust me. I’m very happy with the way this is coming along. I finished the knitting tonight, and then ran a row of crochet along the bottom, where the sides meet the bottom panel, to give it just a little more firmness, to keep it from stretching out quite so much. I like the more distinct line there at the edge.

082910_0046

These are the rings I’ll be putting at the top, to thread the handles through.

I’ve been planning all along that I would pull off (somehow) the clips. These are drapery rings, and designed to string onto your curtain rod and then to hang the drapes with the clips. All I wanted were the actual rings, with the plan to attach them to the bag with knitted strips, somehow.

082910_0051

But, now I’m having a “Duh” moment and thinking … why not just USE the clips and attach them to the bag that way?

Though… I’m not crazy about that “industrial” look. And I worry that the clip could, eventually, bite through the yarn and make a hole.

082910_0055

It’s a tempting idea, though. Maybe if I put something sturdy, like ribbon, along the inside edge? At the very least, this will be handy for determining the final placement of the rings for the handle.

But … no. Those clips are SHARP, for gripping curtains and drapes firmly. They’d eat right through my yarn and eventually cause holes, don’t you think?

090110_0053b

So … I pried them apart and sewed them on.

083010_0003b

As to lining … I had a bunch of choices.

My creation

These were my four favorites. I was torn … right up until I tried folding them inside the bag and pretending to open it, at which point there was no question.

090610_0006b

I really love this fabric, too. Sunshiny and bright, and perfect for the lining. I made one, big section for the center, but made two outer pockets as well. (Well, outside the zippered, center section, but inside the knitting.) I like the security of a zipper because I like to know my stuff won’t fall out if I drop my purse, but it is handy for cell phones and car keys if they’re kept separate. I’ve toyed with the idea of sewing my original swatch on the outside, too, for a little extra touch.

090610_0011v

My only problem was that … ignoring the fact that I’ve seen countless purses and bags over the years, all with zippers whose ends extend past the edge of the bag … usually tucked in behind the lining … so that they open ALL the way, and the lining can be attached to the bag all the way around…

090610_0025b

I stupidly ordered a 10″ zipper … just the right length for the side of the bag, but … hard for actually attaching the lining. I considered ripping it out and replacing it with a spare, longer, brown zipper from some sweater or other years ago, but kind of patched in a work-around instead. It’s not perfect, but it looks okay and works, so I’m not complaining.

090610_0029b

The handle, as planned, feeds through the rings. I like the way it came out, too. I wanted it made of the same yarn, but I didn’t want to do i-cord because (other than being endless to knit this much of it), it’s not sturdy enough for a handle. Not unless you felt it or run a length of rope or cord or something down the inside to keep it from stretching. I originally planned on making a rope out of the yarn by twisting, plying, cabling lengths of the yarn together, but it ended up not being quite firm enough for the wear and tear. So, I took my three lengths of 2-ply (made from 4 strands of yarn in each ply–24 lengths in all), and braided them tightly. Love the way they came out.

090610_0015b

All in all? Very happy!

So, back in college, my best friend Dawn had this great bag. It was a combination big purse/bookbag and I know it seems crazy, but I’ve always remembered it. Mostly because the handles were so cool. Instead of regular, you know, handles, the bag had a series of rings around the top that had a long handle threaded through. When you lifted it, the handles automatically cinched it closed, but when you put it down, the handles loosened so you could easily reach in to rummage.

Hmm. Maybe I’m not explaining it very well.

082610_0004b

Still, the thing is, I need a new purse, and I decided that instead of trying to find one that I liked to buy … because it’s been a couple years since I found one that I liked … I’d try knitting myself one, and see what happens. So, I’m making a purse-sized bag inspired by that one. Or at least, inspired by what I can remember of it.

082610_0007b

Of course, mine is knit, not leather, and I don’t actually remember the general shape of the bag–was it round at the base? Rectangular? Did the sides go straight up, or were they shaped?

Hmm. Let’s face it. I obviously just remember the handles (grin).
082610_0003b

It took me a couple tries to find a stitch pattern I liked, but I’m really enjoying this one. It’s a pleasure to knit and also looks great.

I’m also planning ahead, as I like to do, which means I’m worrying about the lining. It’s a must, you understand, but will require sewing, and I don’t actually do that very often!

So, you’ve been wondering how many knitting and spinning books I have, right? Dying to know who would win my extra copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting?

Well, congratulations, Pam! She guessed on the nose, 204 books. Two hundred four.

The range of guesses was interesting, too, from 85 up to 345.

Do you want a closer look?

All my knitting and spinning books are on this one bookcase. (The one next to it is devoted to other crafts and all my writing reference books. The cookbooks are near the kitchen, and except for a few in the hallway next to the bedroom, the rest of my books are all downstairs. I still need to figure out how to catalog all of them, but I think it’s in the 2000-2100 range for total number of books–down about a third from before we moved last November.)

Anyway, here’s the top of the bookshelf.

080810_0001

That’s lace books, sock books, DVDs and spinning books on the top shelf. Basic how-to kind of reference books on the second shelf.

080810_0002

The middle shelf is devoted to pattern books, and the fourth down is for stitch dictionaries and more pattern books.

080810_0003

The very bottom, hiding behind the chair is where I keep all my Vogue Knitting magazines (going back to about 1987), and knitting-essay type books, as well as some of my less-favorite pattern books, that I might not really plan on using any time soon, but don’t really want to get rid of either … which is why they’re on the most inaccessible shelf.

So, Pam, I’ll need your address, please, so that I can send you your book!

Oh, and in Today’s Spinning?

080810_0012

That’s about 4 ounces of that never-ending roving of mine from 2005, that I told you about here. Such pretty stuff, and I still adore the color. It’s not quite so purple in normal light–it needs direct sun or a camera flash to bring it out. Mostly it just looks like this beautiful, medium gray with a hint of purple. I love it.

I’ve also finished the body of my sweater and am working on the hood. I just have to finish that and knit the inside of the pockets and this baby is done!

We’ve had a great weekend, too. The weather, miraculously this summer, cooperated for the second weekend in a row, and we took Chappy to the park on Saturday, where I neglected to take a single picture. (Sorry.) He had a wonderful time, especially walking on the horse trails with their extra-interesting smells, and the chance to get his feet wet in the stream. He completely zonked out after we got home, though–and so did I! I had a nice nap on Saturday afternoon–though my eyelids gave me very little choice.

Today, we had blueberry pancakes for breakfast, and I baked a cake. I made it up myself–a Pineapple-Coconut-Lime cake with coconut-flavored frosting. It came out pretty well, if I do say so.

I didn’t get as much writing done as I should have, but I’m blaming Homefront for that. Do you remember that TV show from 1991-1993? With a young Kyle Chandler? I adored it and still regret that it’s not available on DVD. It IS, however, available on YouTube, and frustrating as it is that the quality is not ideal and each episode is broken into five or six parts to keep the videos short enough for YouTube, I’ve been loving rewatching it. (And yes, I find that I still love Ginger’s hairstyles as much as ever.)

I’ve also been reading about World War I and the immediate social aftereffects as research for my new book, the sequel to my After-Titanic story. You know, because (1) I’m enjoying the characters so much, I want to see what happens next and (2) I’m assuming that After Titanic WILL get published, and having a sequel coming along behind is never a bad thing.

It’s partly because of the WWI research that I got the yen to rewatch Homefront, in fact, even though it takes place after a completely different war. Many of the issues are the same, though not all–no Prohibition to speak of, for example. But still–the idea of men returning from war and expecting things to be the same when in fact they’ve changed is an intriguing (if sad) one.

Which reminds me … I should really be writing that right now, shouldn’t I? So, if you’ll excuse me…

You’re wondering, aren’t you, about how my spinning and knitting are going?

080410_0097b

Here’s a not-very-good picture of my sweater’s progress. Body and sleeves all on one needle and I’m working on the yoke.

080410_0130b

Here’s a picture of it looking, you know, more like a sweater. (Honestly, Chappy DID want to show it to you, he just hates the flash on the camera.)

080410_0071b

He also told me to show you the Twist and Shout yarn I finished the other day (hanging from a doorknob).

080410_0088b

I haven’t given it its final bath yet, but it’s straight and balanced, and so pretty. I just wish I hadn’t lost count while winding it so I’d have an idea how much yardage there is. I really don’t want to have to count all those strands… (grin)

080410_0058b

Current spinning? Here are the singles on my wheel. That’s probably about two ounces or so, and this 50/50 merino/silk roving is just as soft and delectable as I remember.

080410_0117

Chappy says he’s exhausted now!

073110_0023b

This little guy? My Chappy? He’s having a practically perfect weekend. In fact, as “just us, no guests” weekends go? There’s not much that would make it better. (Other than the forecast possible thunderstorms later today.)

First, it’s been blessedly cool compared to, well, basically the entire summer. Like, in the 75-80 degree range, and with no humidity to speak of. You can step outside without automatically saying, “Whoo! It’s hot!” which is a pretty rare event this year.

Then, yesterday, Saturday, we took him out for coffee. That is, Mom and I drank the coffee–Chappy doesn’t need the caffeine. But it wasn’t just the three of us.

073110_0024b

Dad came, too! This is practically unheard of, and only happened because bribed him with eggs for breakfast because we had a Mara’s gift-coupon for buy-one-get-one-free.

Afterwards, we walked around town, I stopped at the bank, and Chappy insisted on stopping at the doggy-specialty store, the one with its own bakery. That was funny, actually. The store is on our town’s main street, and we’ve stopped in a few times to buy biscuits. But, they also have an entrance in the back, on Bloomfield Avenue across from the parking lot where the car was. We were walking back tot he car, and Chappy literally pulled me up the stairs to the door, as if he’d read the “Come visit our bakery” sign next to them. It was funny because we’ve NEVER gone in that way and hadn’t even realized that we COULD, but Chappy read the sign or followed his nose and … there we were. So, yes, my clever dog got a package of freshly-baked biscuits. It’s only fair.

We had a nice, lazy afternoon and then, the four of us all went out AGAIN, this time for supper. We went to Stewart’s, which not only has the best root beer, but has car service. You know, where you pull up in your car, and they bring your food on a tray that hangs on the window? They’ve been around for ages and since it’s about the only restaurant we ever take Chappy to (other than coffeeshops), it’s his favorite. They bring Milkbones out to the dogs, too, which he appreciates, even if he prefers bites of hamburgers and fries.

080110_0001b

Today, we had a walk, I baked a pound cake, and then I plied a couple hundred yards of yarn while watching “Wag the Dog.” I haven’t seen it in years and had forgotten how much the Political-Science major, cynical-side of me really loves that movie. Dustin Hoffman is wonderfully hilarious as the producer. His response to every set-back is “What? That’s nothing,” followed by some Hollywood anecdote about something that was even worse.

080110_0018

The yarn is all plied, though I lost track counting while I wound it on to the skeinwinder, so I’m not sure what the yardage is. It came out pretty, though, and pretty consistent, which is always a treat. Once again, this is “Sock Hop” yarn from Crown Mountain Farms, in the “Twist and Shout” color, which I’ve had waiting to be spun for a few years now.

Next up for spinning?

080110_0009

If you’ve been reading long enough, you should recognize this.

Five years ago for my birthday, Mom gave me three pounds of this merino/tussah silk roving from the Sheep Shed (bought at Rhinebeck a couple weeks before my birthday). Three pounds of it. I don’t know what I had been thinking. Over the next year or two or three, I spun about two pounds of it, but at different times and different skill levels and after referring to it for months as the “never-ending fiber,” finally ended up stashing the last pound of it.

080110_0021

Well, it’s time it got spun, don’t you think? And right now, while I’m “in practice,” too, so that hopefully all 16 ounces of it will make consistent yarn. Because, yes, I still love the color of the stuff. It makes a beautiful purple-tinged gray yarn. So gorgeous.

And, now? We’re having roast chicken for supper (making the house smell really good, I might add), and Chappy’s getting very excited. He ADORES roast chicken and turkey. I’d venture to say that they’re his favorite kind of meat to eat … he doesn’t get this excited about the chicken in his food dish every day, or when Mom cooks a couple chicken breasts for supper. But … roasted in the oven? Ohhhhh, he loves it. Loves it! The house is starting to smell really yummy, and he’s pacing a bit, not quite able to settle down out of anticipation.

I tell you, this weekend keeps getting better and better for my boy.

Yes, of course, 2010 is the year, but do you know what else it is?

072810_0013b

The number of posts my Mom has written here at Chappysmom!

Two thousand ten posts, as of right now. Isn’t it nice of her to let ME write it? I hope you’re impressed. We … I mean, she started this blog in January 2005.

I’m just proud of the the posts that I’ve written. Not to blow my own horn, or anything. (Besides, that would make me bark, and that would just be silly!)

So, let’s see. Mom usually shows you a picture of her knitting.

072810_0034b

She’s got both sleeves of her sweater done, and about 8 or 9 inches of the body. (That’s my foot, there in the corner.) She just started her second skein of yarn and said she’s glad she bought an extra in Susan’s sale last week–just to be safe. That means she has five altogether, which is good because the sweater has a hood.

Did she forget to tell you what the sweater pattern is? The Salem Hooded Jacket from New England Knits. (She really, really loves that book.)

072810_0001

She started plying her “Twist and Shout” yarn, too, which I find kind of boring. And drafty. So I usually sit about as far away as possible while she’s doing that.

072810_0008

Here, she took a couple pictures for you. (She won’t let me use the camera.) She was grumbling about how hard it is to get the yarn to wind on to the bobbin evenly with the plying head, and how she doesn’t like that she can’t get it all the way to the front, but I’m not really sure what she meant by that.

Oh! I almost forgot the best part!

In honor of her 2010th post, Mom’s giving away a PRIZE!

m-d_0001

Her paperback copy of Mason-Dixon Knitting. She loves the book. I see her flipping through it all the time. BUT right now she actually has two copies. The one she bought when it came out, and the one that Potter Craft sent her for review when the paperback came out. She told me to tell you that, as much as she loves it, she doesn’t really need both, so she’s willing to give one up for YOU. Because the book is that good.

To win? Just leave a comment on this post with a guess about how many knitting and spinning books Mom has.

072810_0038

Here’s a hint.

(Comments are closed because the contest is over.)

072110_0029b

I’m getting awfully close to having two sleeves–isn’t it exciting? Just a couple more inches. I only just finished my first skein of yarn, too, about 4 rows back.

And, yes, I’m still loving this yarn.

072110_0009b

Here’s a look at my finished green yarn … with that single skein of golden-yellow adding a little accent (and taking me right back to high school, too).

072110_0015b

I’m really happy with this. And I adore the color … hard though it is to photograph.

072110_0021

The current spinning, you’ll remember, is the Sock Hop in “Twist and Shout.” I love the blue-green thing, of course, and I’m loving how it’s spinning up.

072110_0025b

I love watching the color changes. It’s one of the most fun and satisfying things about spinning multi-colored yarn.

Did you see the preview for the upcoming Interweave Knits? There are several designs in there I think are lovely, but the one that caught my eye the most?

The Hoarfrost Moebius by Annie Modesitt.

072110_0004b

So, I’m planning ahead. Because this requires a very specific yarn.

072110_0001b

Yep. Lion Brand Yarn’s Stainless Steel Wool. It looks pretty much identical to the Habu yarn that I’ve been looking at for ages but never quite sure what to do with. This pattern, though? I love it. Love the color, love the design, love the amazing drape the steel gives to it … so, I ordered some.

Yes, even despite the fact that I really shouldn’t be spending any unnecessary money at the moment. I told you the other day that I’d gotten a new computer because Mom’s had died, right? It’s the one I’m typing on right now, and it’s a perfectly okay computer … except … that’s all it is. Okay. For basic stuff, it works just fine–MS Word, checking email, tweaking photos. But for heavier-duty internet stuff? Like watching videos, uploading pictures, writing blog posts? Um … not so much.

I can’t upload more than 2 photos at a time on Flickr without it locking. Watching a video on Hulu.com, it freezes several times–which my old computer never did. I’m not fond of the touchpad, either–the buttons are part of the pad, not separate buttons. I know this is the new Mac thing and all, but I’m finding it annoying. It’s true that most of the time I just tap on the touchpad to click, and that works fine, but there are times when it’s helpful to hold down the button–like when selecting more than one file, or something like that. And then, when I lift up my finger to click on the button … the cursor moves, just enough for me NOT to click on what I’m aiming for. Sigh. Add to that the fact that the yellows are kind of weird on the monitor and the slow internet speed for God knows what reason, and … the computer’s going back.

The sad part, though, is that Amazon charges a 15% restocking fee for returned computers (unless they’re DOA), so that’s about an extra $90, plus shipping to return it, in addition to the cost of the new (faster, I hope) computer. So, buying more yarn? Um, yeah, that’s got to stop again for a while … but at least I have this pretty Stainless Steel yarn to play with, huh? Not to mention all that great Peace Fleece from the other day.

(And we won’t discuss the broken cap, right?)

Just … cross your fingers for me that this new computer behaves the way it’s supposed to, okay?