Announcement: Chappysmom.com

Hey, folks. I bought the domain name www.chappysmom.com a year ago.

If you haven’t yet, you might want to make sure that THAT is the address you use to get here, because, you never know, there could be changes coming. I wouldn’t want you to be unable to find me!

(Hint, hint.)

Okay . . . hold your breath!! Here we go….
And, I’m closing comments until we get to the other side…

The Yearly Recap

I’ve done a recap for the last two years, so I had to this year, also, right?

In 2007, I….

Yuck

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What miserable weather today! It started with sleet, turned to snow for about two inches’ worth, then back to sleet and then freezing rain. All afternoon. Just awful.

I took this picture through the living room window of one of our shrubs, just before the light disappeared altogether. Because, naturally, the trees and all were just getting prettily ice-cased as the sun went down.

I believe that most of the precipitation is over for the night, though, which means that that ice layer shouldn’t be much thicker than this, when all is said and done, and so therefore not as threatening to life and (tree) limb as the massive ice storm that swept through the Midwest states this week.

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The plus side, though, is that my office closed early today. So at 12:00, I headed carefully home to spend the rest of the afteroon with my favorite little boy.

Luckily, that was before the worst of the ice came along, and the roads were already pretty well sanded by then. The only place I skidded was on a curve on my own street, but since there weren’t any other cars nearby at that moment, and I didn’t come near any trees or mailboxes, that was okay. In fact, I think it’s good to get a chance to practice that whole “steer into a skid” thing once in a while, if you can do so without risking damage. The timing was especially good since, thanks to Dad’s shuttling my car around this morning, it not only had its bi-annual inspection but also its annual oil change this morning. It really would have been a shame to crunch a fender after that, you know?

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Still, it was nice to be home for the afternoon. Hopefully the roads will be clear in the morning and we’ll see what kind of storm the potential one for this weekend turns into. At any rate, Chappy was good company this afternoon (even if he was disappointed that this wasn’t “romping” weather), and it WAS nice curling up with the new Spin-Off. (Which, incidentally, explained in the Letters to the Editor section why they had to change from the perfect-bound spine to the stapled one which is harder to see on a shelf. Basically, a cost issue–it was that, or increase the subscription price.)

Otherwise? My tooth still hurts–a nice little throbbing above one of the new crowns I paid dearly for this summer. I tried calling my dentist though . . . he’s on vacation until December 20th. Sigh. But it felt better this afternoon, though it’s sore again now . . . There IS a back-up dentist but if he’s the same one my dentist used last time I had an emergency and he wasn’t there, I don’t think he’d be able to help anyway. So . . . fingers crossed.

Frankly, I’m starting to run out of fingers these days….

I’ve Got My Handknits to Keep Me Warm

It was a good day for handknits at my office today. Not only did it not go above 30-degrees, but there were snow showers/flurries more or less from 11:00 onward. And, did I mention that there was no heat? One of the building’s heating units more or less fell apart yesterday afternoon, so we had no choice but to turn it off altogether. Which means that, this morning, when we came in and it was 23 degrees outside, it was only 58 degrees inside.

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Luckily, those of us who sit up front knew about this ahead of time. We’re in the broken unit’s domain–not to mention near the front door which lets in an awful lot of cold air as everybody gets to work in the morning–and so, it was cold. But we were prepared. I wore my handknit socks with leather boots, my Ribby sweater over a t-shirt, a shawl layered on top and I brought my Fetching fingerless gloves, too, to help keep my hands warm. I mean, sure, the colors didn’t exactly go with the blue/brown of the rest of the outfit, but they’re the only ones I’ve got (so far). My other cold co-worker didn’t have handknits, poor thing, but she layered stockings and socks under her boots, wore a fleece hoodie, and brought a blanket to protect her legs from drafts as the front door opened. (I just sat cross-legged in my chair.)

And, of course, in a pinch, I had my half-done socks in my purse for a little extra wooly goodness. A couple more inches of leg and they’ll be done.Oh, and luckily, they got the heat fixed by lunchtime–though it’s a temporary fix. They have to replace the actual unit . . . three of them, in fact . . . hopefully by this weekend!

Of course, this weather means that, for yet another day, poor Chappy didn’t get a walk. Good thing he had that good, satisfying romp in the snow on Sunday, because he otherwise hasn’t gotten out of the house in days. (Bathroom visits notwithstanding.)

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I did have a nice little surprise when I got home. A box from Scout. (I mean, I purchased it and knew it was coming, just not that it would come today.) That’s a bottle of Soak in the limited-edition holiday scent (which I love). A GoKnits bag, in the Orchid for Alzheimer’s color (of which all proceeds go to Alzheimer’s research). And a little, green Chibu with darning needles.

This last may have been a waste of money because, no matter how many needles I try, I always go back to my 20-year old, plastic, Susan Bates needle. I like the extra flexibility when seaming yarn, don’t ask me why, and I’m terrified that I’m going to lose it, or that it will break, because it’s by far my favorite needle. But, really, the Chibu needles seem quite nice, even if, you know, they’re metal (grin).

Hey, did you know the new Knitty is up?

Salvage Job

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So, once again, the problem has been that odd, poofy bulge at the neckline, where the faux-raglan seam was.

Turning it into a real seam, to take up some of the excess fabric helped, but not enough. It left the back looking fine, but the front still . . . odd.

Which left me with the problem of having to redo the neckband for a third time.

Well, I’ve managed to salvage the neckband. I even had two plans in mind to let me do so.

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First, was just to try tightening that seam with my fingers crossed, hoping that it wouldn’t change the way the neckband lay.

(The second, backup plan was going to be to snip the yarn at the cast-on row for the neckband and then unravel just enough–an inch or three–of the row where I picked up the neckband. The plan then would have been to weave in the two, unraveled ends so that they were secure, and to put the now-live stitches on markers to hold them safe while I fixed the actual seam of the body, at which point I would have re-attached those couple of inches of neckband evenly to now-adjusted fabric of the body.)

Luckily, Plan #1 worked.

I measured out a straight-line from neck outward toward shoulder and did another running-stitch seam, and now the neck of the sweater lays flat.

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Well, mostly.

Because, here is the current problem . . . now, at the front neckband, I have not just the two layers of fabric that I should have (the sweater and the cut steek), but four layers, because of the seam allowance.

Which means, of course, that the sweater still doesn’t actually lie flat. Just that it now wants to.

Still . . . I saved the neckband, which is a relief.

The current plan is now to (1) finish the neckband. Mine is going to be at least twice as wide as the one in the original pattern, for two reasons. One, because I want to fill in more of the neck of the sweater (which I know Cate can relate to) and two, because I need some extra distance between the edge of the sweater and the visible bulk of the steek/seam.

But, after I finish the neckband and (2) graft together the underarms, I will (3) address the bulky-seam problem. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to be reinforcing those now-real seams with more permanent stitching and then trimming the seam allowance.

The potential problem with this is that all those loose ends may become rather . . . itchy to wear. Especially on my now-sensitive shoulder skin. Because Shetland wool isn’t exactly the softest wool out there to begin with. Of course, I realize that there are already loose ends in there from all the color work, but part of it is a location factor–because, well, again, my right shoulder is still kind of sensitive.

One step at a time, though, right?

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Let’s see, we had snow today. About 3″ of very dry, very fluffy snow. Chappy was so excited, he and I went outside to play in it. (Yes, I’m aware that romping in 23-degree … that’s -4 in C … cold may not have been the wisest thing to do with my sensitive state of health, lately, but, well, YOU try telling Chappy that.) Anyway, I brought out his flying squirrel toy (bright orange toys are GOOD in the snow) and we had a good time. I came back in when I was getting tired and popped him in the bathtub just long enough to melt the ice between his paw pads.

In other news? My niece hit a deer with her car yesterday, and while (luckily) she and her car are more or less intact, the deer died and she keeps seeing the poor thing’s face and feeling absolutely terrible about it. And then, this morning, just before I came down to start the waffles, our neighbors across the street called to ask if Dad could take Mr. H. to the hospital–he had a hernia operation last week and woke up this morning with a swollen ankle and was concerned about blood clots (to which he is prone). Luckily so, in fact, because they just called a little while ago, and the hospital found clots in both calves and one in his lungs, so he’s going to be in the hospital for a few days.

Oh, and I did at least get one other thing off my weekend to-do list. I got my Christmas cards written out, addressed, stamped (with the best holiday stamps ever), and ready to go out the door tomorrow morning.

(And, seriously, would it be crazy to buy a bunch more of those stamps? I mean, winter holidays or not, they’re KNITTED, for heaven’s sake.)

Jinx

So, really, it’s peculiarly appropriate that I would get shingles this week. I mean, of course, my birthday was on Tuesday, so that added some extra fun to the day, but otherwise, well, there’s this weekend.

I have to give you a little history, first. Birthday parties and I just don’t get along. While there were a couple of parties when I was a kid that were reasonably successful, I have a history of having birthday celebrations where things go drastically wrong. If I just limit myself to a family celebration, with cake, and maybe a friend over for dinner, things are fine. But anything more tempts fate.

You want examples? Here are just a few:

1. I forget which birthday it was, but I’m guessing 7th because I was in first grade. I actually missed my party altogether. As in, the party went on without me. We had tickets for everyone to go to see a show (Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, I forget which) at the Papermill Playhouse, but I got sick. We couldn’t let the tickets go to waste, of course, so everybody except Mom and me went while we stayed home. To make it up to me, Mom later got tickets for just to two of us to go to one of their other fairy tale productions . . . which had the added fun of my having hurt my foot so that my mother had to carry me from the parking lot. (She really is a good Mom, you know.)

2. My ninth birthday happened the day before we moved out of our old house, and Mom didn’t let me open my presents. Oh, I was allowed to unwrap them, but I couldn’t take the shrink-wrap off things like my Mickey Mouse Desk Set because she had to pack them for the movers . . . And the party that year? Successful enough, I suppose, considering all the guests were classmates I’d only just met, but . . . the party was in December. In one of the only photos, you can see the Christmas stockings hanging in the background.

3. Then there was the memorable party my freshman year in high school. Of my guests, two came down with a bug that was going around and had to cancel. My best friend (!) actually forgot it was my birthday and had agreed to babysit for a neighbor and so could only come for about an hour. One friend had color guard practice after school and was going to be late (understandable). And then . . . by this time, of course, my Mother and sister were feeling really sorry for me . . . the phone rang. The one friend who had been coming for the entire party? Um, well, she got hit by a car when one backed into her as she rode by on her bike. I distinctly remember the conversation. “What? Oh my God. Is she okay? Oh, I’m so glad! And of course I understand that she can’t come!” All while Mom and Patty stood there, wringing their hands and I tried not to laugh in the poor father’s ear because, really, you’ve got to admit, a CAR? Fate was working overtime that day, I thought.

4. My 21st birthday, of course, I alluded to the other day. I had had a penpal in Germany since my junior year in high school and when I was in London for the semester four years later, it seemed the perfect time to physically meet. I’d sent him the dates I could come and got to the airport and onto the correct train (challenging since I don’t speak more than a few words of German) on Friday, arriving in Trier around 4:30. And then waited. And waited. But he never showed up. I found directions to the Tourist Information center and lugged my suitcase down the hill and showed up mere minutes before they closed at 6:00. The woman was very helpful and found a hotel for me and even called to make sure they had a room . . . but she couldn’t tell me (or find on the map) my penpal’s street. Well, fine. It was late, I was tired. I trudged over to the hotel–more like a hostel/B&B, really–and figured I’d figure things out in the morning when there was daylight.

The morning of my birthday  . . . which was rainy, by the way . . . I first tried to find his street, but couldn’t. Neither could the new person at the tourist information center, and he didn’t appear to have a phone. I mean, he might have, but it was probably in the name of one of his flatmates. So . . . I went to the post office and mailed him a postcard telling him where I was staying and that I’d be at the Porta Nigra at specific times. I know, this is a bare step above using a carrier pigeon, but what else could I do? Meanwhile, my camera gasped out its last breath, my Walkman died (probably playing “Nobody’s Side” from Chess too many times), and I couldn’t find a single thing in English to read. The highlight of the day was visiting the house Karl Marx was born in, which might have been more interesting if more of the exhibits had been in English. I saw the old Roman ruins (in the rain). I had dinner at McDonalds . . . by myself. It was just a wonderful day–but memorable!

To fill out the story, the next day while eating breakfast, the man who ran the inn came over and asked (in German) “Do you have a friend named Gerhard?” (Luckily those words sound enough like English, I was able to interpret.) Apparently, he got my postcard late on Saturday and left a letter in the door addressed to me, with a hand-drawn map to where his flat was . . . literally right around the corner, on one of the four corners around the famed, “Porta Nigra” (which makes the fact that the tourist information people couldn’t find it all the more interesting). I tossed a mental coin because, really, all I wanted to do was LEAVE at that point, but decided I could spare him an hour before shaking the dust from my heels. Hey, at least he helped carry my suitcase back up the hill to the train station. I rode back to Frankfurt, trying to talk to a woman from Luxembourg who spoke French, German and a smattering of English and who hadn’t slept in three days. There were such storms that day, all the flights were delayed, but I managed to get on an earlier flight that left only half an hour after my original flight was supposed to take off. I struggled my way back to my own flat in London and, just as I staggered in the door, the phone rang . . . It was Mom, asking brightly, “How was your weekend with Gerhard?”

The reason for all these lengthy anecdotes? Well, Kim and I had decided months ago to throw ourselves a combined spinning/birthday party tomorrow, with some of our favorite NJ Spinners: InaRisa, Jessica, Dorre. Kristy (who knits but doesn’t spin–yet) was going to come but had to cancel.

Which, of course, is probably WHY I’ve got shingles. I thought it would be safe. I haven’t tried to do anything special since that year in college when one friend ended up on crutches with a bad knee that morning. I’ve been happy just doing quiet, family celebrations. But–this wasn’t just for ME, it was for Kim, too. And really, it’s more of an excuse to get the spinners together than a real birthday party. But apparently my jinx didn’t see it this way.

I’m just glad nobody’s been hit by a car. (Knock on wood.)

Hallowbarkingween

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This is exactly how Chappy feels about Halloween.

The rest of us? Not so much throat lozenges, but earplugs…. (Remember? I’ve told you this before. And the year before, too.)

In our house, this least-favorite holiday will always be known as “Barking Day.”

But for all of you who love the holiday? Enjoy yourselves!

Kay Pond

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Mom, Chappy, and I went for a walk . . . well, really, more of a hike . . . at the Cooper Mill County Park today, and while I took bunches of photos, the ones I wanted to show you were these.

Perfect reflections in the still water of this man-made pond. So serene.
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This tree was pretty interesting, too, doing it’s own “Bark Art.”

Chappy really enjoyed himself, too. Unlike our favorite park, the paths were just blazed trails through the woods, not paved, not smooth bridle-paths, but trails with leaves and roots and rocks and, well, wilderness. (Well, wilderness by his standards, since he normally only ever does get to walk on streets and sidewalks.) Lots of good sniffs to explore. And, oh, he brought home one tick, too. At least, I hope it was just one! A tiny black one that I only saw because it was sitting on top of his head. I wonder how many he might have picked up if I hadn’t sprayed him with flea/tick repellant before leaving the house?

We only walked about a mile or so before Mom decided to turn around, but we enjoyed it. It’s a lovely day, after all, and what could be nicer than a walk in the woods?

Well, okay, Chappy enjoyed stopping at the gourmet pet shop in Chester to buy some fancy biscuits, too. Really, I don’t see how his day could have been more perfect!

How the Piecrust Crumbles

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The “foolproof pie dough” looked so promising…. And, except for sticking to the rolling pin every chance it got, it even rolled out fairly easily . . .

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… Until I tried to get it off the counter. It stuck so very badly I had to use my fingers to gather it back into a ball and STILL couldn’t get it all off. (Making this one of those times to be grateful for my bench-scraper.)

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So, I resorted to my old “dump it in the middle of the pie plate and mold it into shape with my fingers, hoping for the best and that it won’t stick too badly to the actual pie plate when it bakes so that we can get the pieces out to eat them later” trick. So, here you see the finger-pressed pie crust, with the lower layer of cranberry filling and the upper layer of apples waiting. Just in time, I remembered my aversion to the texture of whole cranberries–something about chewing on cranberry skins makes my teeth itch–so I ran the pre-cooked cranberry mixture through my little mini-food processor first, making it smooth. Because, darn it, after all this work I want to be able to EAT this pie!

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The upper crust did cooperate at least a little more than the bottom one did. It only really stuck right in the middle . . . and, well, you need steam vents, right?

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Let’s fold our hands and pray… (I do so love when he sits with his paws folded like that.)

Later….

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Well, it looks promising, except for the overflow from the completely-unsealed crusts. (I mean, really, I was just happy they reached the edge at all.)

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Mouth-watering, even.

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For a wonder, it came out of the pie plate relatively easily.

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The apple and cranberry layers are mostly intact. The crumb, or texture, of the crust wasn’t perfect–almost cookie-ish, rather than light and flaky–but all things considered, I don’t know that I can really complain about that (grin).

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Dad definitely liked it, but Mom made some pretty impressive faces . . . apparently there wasn’t quite enough sugar in there to counteract the tart cranberry for her taste. I thought it was pretty good, although for my taste the apples were a little over-cooked. I like my apples to have a little bite to them, not to be mushy, so I think the pre-cooked apple filling was unnecessary (though that’s just me).

Img_5223 My assistant was certainly eager for a taste.

All in all, mostly successful, even if the pie crust STILL didn’t choose to cooperate with me. One of the most labor-intensive pies I’ve ever made, though, and I don’t see how you could follow the instructions and get the whole thing done in one day, either. Make the crust, then chill at least 45 minutes. Make the cranberry and apple fillings, cool them to room temperature. Roll out the bottom crust then chill again for 30 minutes. Assemble the pie, bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes, then lower temperature to 375 for another 20-25 minutes, turn the pie and bake another 20-25 minutes. Cool the entire pie for at least two hours before serving. You’re talking about five hours from beginning to end . . . and that’s assuming you don’t like your pies cold like we do. I got this pie out of the oven at about 11:45 this morning and it was still warm when I put it in the refrigerator around 3:00.

All of which, I might add, I spelled out at the table while we were eating this because I didn’t want Dad getting too attached to this recipe. It came out tasty, it did, but it’s not the kind of pie you just throw together, you know?

Especially if you’ve got pie-crust issues like I have . . . Once again, there are just so many reasons to be thankful to Pillsbury!

Thanks, Mom and Dad!

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My Vogue Knitting Holiday issue came today. I’m already more impressed with it than I was with that book the other day. The articles on British knitting were interesting.  There were even a couple of fair isle designs by Alice Starmore and Debbie Bliss. I’m wondering why the “mystery stitch” they analyzed in the “Spotlight” section was a crochet stitch, though. I have nothing against crocheting at all, but this is a knitting magazine. It seems odd that it would spend two pages deconstructing a stitch that most of the allegedly-non-crocheting readers would never use.

Isn’t that sweater coat on the cover gorgeous? Which it really had better be . . . it’s made out of Classic Elite “Lavish” cashmere yarn . . . from 15 to 19 skeins of it. Out of curiosity, I looked up the cost of the yarn . . . It’s a good thing I’m usually sitting on the floor while I’m on the computer, because I would have fallen out of a chair. $57 a SKEIN. That’s only $855 for a size small. Practically a bargain.

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Chappy and I gave Mom and Dad a thank you card this morning, because, really, we’re both very thankful that forty-four years ago today, my parents got married. His life would have been different if they hadn’t, and mine certainly would have been! So, thanks, Mom and Dad.

Other family news? My nephew had a bad fall in his mountain biking club the other day and is now sporting a cast on his right wrist and is pretty banged up, poor kid.

All in all, I’m really glad it’s Friday. I want to get at least some spinning done tonight–it’s been too long. I’ve been spending too much time in front of the computer lately. I’m so glad that I can sleep in tomorrow! And Chappy? Lucky Chappy gets to sleep on the bed tonight.

Bad

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Well, you know the book has to be bad (to me, at least), if this happens.

Yes. I’m returning the book.

Sure. I know. To normal people, this isn’t necessarily a big deal. To me, however . . . huge. Return a book to a store?? Ha! I don’t even return duplicates. Or books that I hate. Or gift books I’m never going to read.

Generally speaking, if a book comes into my hands, it’s staying here. I mean, you don’t get a library of 2,945 books by giving them back, you know what I mean?

So, the fact that I’m willing to return this book when I’ve kept others that I had as little use for?

Yeah. I really didn’t think much of this book.

Oh, but the best part? When I went to Amazon and clicked that I’d like to return an item, the website crashed on me. I think it went into shock….

Okay . . . back I go to fighting with the computer, trying to figure things out that don’t want to be figured out. I was getting so frustrated, muttering, “What? What!” under my breath . . . because, no, I really don’t swear . . . that Chappy climbed out of his crate, not once, but three times to come over and give me a hug to try to make me happy. And he finally just laid down next to me and let me actually pet him until I calmed down.

I tell you, he’s just the sweetest little boy . . .

Uninspired

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My copy of Inspired Fair Isle Knits by Fiona Ellis came today. I’ve looked forward to this book for months since I liked her Inspired Cable Knits so much, and now it’s here?

Um. Let’s see. You know how your Mom taught you that old saw, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all?”

Well . . . that scarf on the cover is really lovely. . . . There’s a pretty pillow in there, not that I knit pillows. . . . The writing is pleasant, and the little blurbs about different folk tales and legends, scattered through each section of the “elements” (Water, Air, Fire, Earth) are enjoyable . . .

But, um, the rest? Well, you’re not going to be hearing any paeans of joy like you did when the Cable book came out.

How do you politely say that there wasn’t a single thing in there I really liked? I mean, there’s a nice enough tank top, but I never wear tank tops, so that’s useless to me. The “Sway” cardigan is about the only thing I remotely liked, but still wouldn’t consider making it. There are a couple cute kid knits (but, really, put a cute kid in a handknit and you’ve got a good chance at a winner, and it doesn’t hurt that the one kids’ cardigan is the one most “classic” in design). But then there are a disproportionate number of patterns that I found downright ugly, though I will say the color combinations, as a rule, are nicely put together.

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I’m all for creative uses of knitting techniques, and using a fair isle stripe in an unexpected place isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, as much as I love knitting tradition, it’s good to break out into something new, to stretch the boundaries. Eunny Jang’s Autumn Rose sweater certainly isn’t a traditional fair isle design, and yet it honors the tradition–it chooses the more fitted shape, the 3/4 sleeves, the scoop neckline as ways of updating the boxy gansey shape. The sweaters here, though, seem more slapdash, thrown together. Fair isle pockets on an otherwise stockinette sweater, but which only manage to look like afterthoughts. Wildly untraditional color motifs undulating up a sleeve or across a sweater that don’t do anybody any justice–the designer, the sweater, the knitter or the wearer. Sweaters that are half fair isle and half cabled, so that the two halves seem to be competing rather than working harmoniously together. Wide panels of fair isle weighing down an otherwise light, lacy shawl for no reason I can fathom. And then, the photography, while good enough and artistic enough in some ways, is aggravating in others–You get nice detail of, say, the stitch motifs but not of the whole sweater. Is the model standing sideways/hunched over/arms folded because it was the whim of the moment, or because the photos are trying to hide something?

Ultimately, for a book that uses the four, natural “elements” as inspiration, there are a lot of nasty weather systems going on in here, knocking the roofs off the fair isle tradition rather than freshening the air with a good, stiff breeze. In other words, this review comes down to one word: Disappointing. Such a let down. To me, anyway.

Planning

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I’ve already told you I like planning ahead, right?

It’s hard to see the detail in the photo, but here’s my yarn, ready to go. I’ve got the yarns grouped in pairs according to the colors being used together on each row. Each pair is in its own ziploc sandwich bag, with the ends threaded through a hole cut into each corner. That last part I owe to Eva. Usually I just have the ends coming out of the bag at the top, which is marginally problematic as the yarn occasionally gets caught in the “zip.”

So, I’ve pretty much done everything I need to do to be able to swatch. I won’t of course, be able to do anything ELSE until I’ve done that and know exactly what size I need to make, what modifications I’m making to the neckline (because, yes, at least two more inches there, that scoop is kind of low for me). You know, all that fun stuff. Which means, I need to SWATCH!

My Ribby is moving along. The sleeves are about 5-6″ long, so they’re making progress. I was going to seam the side seams tonight but then thought that I should probably block them first. Although, I could get away with not doing that, though the front edge for sewing the zipper has quite a tendency to curl under, so blocking would probably be a good idea. Usually, I’d just check my blog to see what I did for my niece’s Ribby, but of course, since that whole thing was a secret right up until I gave it to her, my blog is just no help whatsoever for this question. The side seams look like they’ll be quite cooperative, so that actually leaves a third option–sew the side seams and then block the entire body in one piece.

Hmm. Too many decisions. But I think it’s pretty obvious that nothing else is going to happen to my Ribby tonight (grin). All those little skeins of Shetland sure look cute . . . I’m so glad tomorrow’s Friday. I’m going to have to make a point of finding some extra time for knitting this weekend. . . .

Reading Material

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Ah, there’s nothing quite like a tower of reading material. This particular pile has a book on word usage, a book on wine, a couple of children’s books, some memoirs, a thriller, some mysteries . . . a pretty nice combination of genres, I think.

And . . . what? Doesn’t everybody buy books like this? In bulk?

I tend to keep assorted titles in my Amazon shopping cart and then buy in dribs and drabs as the mood strikes, but every now and again, I just get tired of it being so full, and splurge to get the list down to manageable proportions. You know, hence the tower.

Right now, they’re waiting to be logged into my computerized database (aka Excel spreadsheet), and then will be shelved according to genre. There’s nothing quite like personal library acquisition.

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Oh yeah, and there’s some knitting reading material, too….

I wouldn’t want you to think I’m not knitting. I’m plugging away at my shawl . . . which is going more and more slowly as the rows get longer, but that’s the way it goes, right? And my socks? I’m past the heel on both of them, and the leg is about halfway done on one of them. I got about three inches done in the car on the way to and from the wake last night.

Otherwise? It’s hot. Hot and sticky. (Ick.) And speaking of sticky, now it’s the “D” key on my laptop that’s causing trouble. The letter that’s sticking has varied over the months, but there’s almost always a letter of some sort sticking. So frustrating. I’ve never had one of these computers before, and while the actual computer works just fine (no complaints, knock wood), the keyboard . . . well, the keyboard stinks.

Did you hear Liz’s good news? They’re getting a new puppy and the pictures look just too cute for words. Chappy and I can’t wait to meet him.

Stay cool, everyone.

And spare a prayer for the people in Minneapolis whose bridge collapsed under them yesterday. Between that and the steam pipe explosion in NY a couple weeks ago, it’s just a little worrying, huh? What happened to our infrastructure? Or is it that all our money is going into the military these days?

What’s that, again?

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Doesn’t look much like a sweater at the moment, does it? But there’s my Tatami, all blocked.

“Closest” to you at the bottom of the picture are the two fronts, then the sleeves, stretched out to either side, and then the back, stretching out toward the top of the frame.

The next step is to fold the whole thing in half and sew the seams up the sides and out the sleeves. Then it will be completely done except for crocheting the ties, which will be fairly quick. Especially since I don’t plan on making them as long as called for in the pattern. If I needed to wrap it multiple times around my waist each time I wore the sweater, it would never get out of the closet–that’s much too much work! So, shorter, more like Carolyn‘s.

But, really, almost completely done. Isn’t it exciting? It’s only been, oh, seven months. Longer, of course, if you include spinning the yarn. Which came from roving (half corriedale, half merino) that I bought at Rhinebeck in October, and which was the very first yarn I spun on my Little Gem last November.

Anyhow, Tatami and I did have one other adventure together last night. It wasn’t clear in the pattern whether the purl-stitch closest to the front openings should be dropped . . . I mean, I thought it should, but I read the instructions five times and still wasn’t sure, so . . . I did NOT drop them. But, of course, I should have–since that stitch runs all the way up the front edge and down to the back edge, which meant there were two rows in the back that were completely wrong. (I should really have gone with my instincts, huh?) So, what did I do? I unpicked the bind-off row . . . not even unknitting it, but just undoing the actual bind-off . . . until I got to the appropriate stitch on both fronts and then dropped it . . . so that all I had to do was re-bind-off. Kind of a pain, but . . . at least the sweater works now. Phew!

Almost….

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Well, I thought I’d be able to change my drivewheel today. Because see what I got today? A cd (with a handsome Ram on the cover), and a 13mm wrench.

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But, well, there’s a problem . . . The wrench is too wide to fit into the available space. It might be the right size for the nut, but it can’t get in there!

Sheesh.

So now, I need to return this wrench, first of all, to the company I got it from. And, interestingly, of all the details I saw listed about the wrench–the size of the openings, the length, the weight, the quality of the metal that makes up the wrench–nowhere did it say the width of the head. Or the height of it. Whatever dimension that is. And, how frustrating is that?

Now I’m worried I won’t be able to find a wrench that will WORK! I mean, it’s not like this one is unnaturally thick in the head. It’s really quite sleek. But I can’t really imagine that they come much narrower than that . . . I guess I really WILL have to trudge to a hardware store in person to try to find one….

So close, and yet so far!

And–on a completely different subject–how is it possible that “To Kill a Mockingbird” never even occured to me yesterday when I was trying to think of the greatest American novel? Because, well, duh! Not only is it a masterpiece, but it’s a masterpiece that I LOVE. Even the movie is a masterpiece. Sorry, Harper Lee!

And, the only saving grace to a Thursday that completely felt like a Monday all day, is that at least it’s being immediately followed by an honest-to-goodness Friday….

Do-Over

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Today?

Basically a repeat of yesterday.

Seaming the sweater. (Done, by the way. Now I just have to knit the hood.)

Reading.

Sewing with Mom.

Spending time with Chappy.

All pretty much just like yesterday.

Which doesn’t leave me a whole lot to talk about, but I did want to share this picture of my African Violet, which is just about to bloom again. The last time it bloomed was in January, just a few days before it needed emergency surgery. I had been thinking that it was looking a lot healthier lately, finally recovered from the shock. Then, seeing the buds made me even happier. It’s so nice when things work out the way they’re supposed to, huh?

Home Vacation 2

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You’ll be pleased to know that, despite the cloudy, looks-like-rain weather we had for most of the day, I did not waste my day off, frittering away the time reading or playing on the internet.

Or, you know, not entirely.

There’s one, last, little, step do on my Mystery Project, and then it’s done.

Really, I can’t wait to show you the whole thing.

Not only that, but I DID spend some quality time with my book, and with Chappy, and yes, I may have spent a little time online, too . . . And while it was wet outside when I got up this morning, it did not actually rain today. The sun even came out around 3:00, so that Chappy and I got to go for a nice walk.

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But most importantly, as a good aunt, I don’t want it raining on my niece’s parade tonight. Or, technically, her prom. Mom went up to see her and take pictures, like a good grandmother should, and I, um, borrowed her pictures so I could share with you. (Yes, you, personally!) Gotta love that 1940s hair-style….

So, let’s see . . . yep. That’s really about it.

Let me think.

I trimmed Chappy’s nails this morning, which was badly needed, but which he hates.

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Oh, and I also transplanted my new violets so they can hang out with the ones I already had. They all seem very happy together.

Another author I liked passed away–Lloyd Alexander, author of the Chronicles of Prydian (The Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, the Castle of Llyr, Taran Wanderer, and The High King.) According to the obit, he was 83 and his wife just passed two weeks ago. That always seems kind of sweet….

Frivolous

Since the more serious topics are breaking my heart today, I thought I’d just touch on light things today.

Like, our refrigerator decor–since Chris posted hers.

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As you can see, we’re big on family photos.

And, of course, Martha’s Vineyard paraphenalia.

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Here’s a closer look at two of my favorites–a Peanuts cartoon from a roll of paper towels (of all things), and a quote from Thomas Edison that I love. “If we all did the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astound ourselves.”

That Nor’easter still isn’t quite gone yet. It’s still been spritzing little bits of rain on and off all day. But at least the roads downtown (or, all the ones I saw) are clear. And most of my co-workers’ basements are at least improved up to the “damp” stage if not actually “dry.” So that’s something.

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And, at least I can make a cup of tea. That’s something, too. (We’ll just ignore the fact that my parents went out to the movies with friends, leaving me home without the means of cooking supper . . . I mean, I told them to go and have a good time, and I meant it, but so much for the “We’re all in this together” attitude. Not that Dad really misses the stove not working . . . I’m not entirely sure he even knows how to turn it on. But that’s another story.)

Oh, and my morning oatmeal cooked quite nicely in my cheap little rice cooker . . . although tomorrow I’m going to need to stir it a little more often to keep it from boiling over….

Back on that serious subject, though? A page of links to online presences of the victims–My Space pages, articles, awards, blogs . . . bunches of things about the way they lived their lives.

Like I said. Heartbreaking.

Oh No.

Oh no. Not again.

My prayers are with all of them . . .