Sunday, December 31, 2006

Isn't She Cute?

My husand's brother's wife is one of my best friends. She's one of those people who always does stuff for other people, and doesn't ever seem to expect anything in return. We used to live in the same town years ago, but now we only see each when we go back to the Midwest for the perfunctory parents-in-law visit during the summer. I've spent a lot of hours just sitting on her couch shooting the breeze and just enjoying each other's company. She used to have a nice throw on her couch that looked handknit. I loved the patterns on it and had always thought that I would copy some of them. The last time I saw her throw though, I thought that it was time for her to get a new one; it was looking pretty sad. I have always thought that I would knit her one just like it, but then I found out that Ann was having surgery. I thought I could knit her a more simple throw in time for her to use druing her recooping time. I found some maroon Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece that looked like Ann's color, and I found a simple Christmas tree pattern that I liked. Mind you, this was during one of the most hectic periods of my life, but I still finished Ann's throw in time to send it to her when she got home from the hospital. It was good therapy for me, so I don't want to sound too selfless.

.....but typical of me. I put her finished throw in a box and let it sit in the entryway for nearly two weeks. Russ finally did send it to her for me though, and she says she loves it!!!! That makes me very happy. I'm glad to have finally done something special for her when she's been such a special gal to me!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Happy Anniversary to Me

Today is Russ and my 22nd wedding anniversary. How did we celebrate? Well, I spend most of the day on the couch. I have a terrible cold. Russ had it earlier, and I'm wishing that I had shown him a little more sympathy. I'm miserable. I did work on Paige's Harry Potter scarf though. She gave up on it, and I don't blame her really. It's kind of tedious since it's on circular needles, just knit, knit, knit.

I've also been paging through my most recent knitting mag purchases. I read a blog a couple of days ago making fun of the cover of the latest Knitters. I hadn't thought about it that much, but I agree. Why do they want to be an imitation of Vogue or other slick publications? Lately, I've been buying Knit Simply at Barnes and Noble or Borders. I really like it. They have tons ot articles and "doable" projects. The latest issue has a cute nativity scene to knit. Maybe I could finish that by next Christmas.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Finally, a Reprieve from Chaos

I can't believe that it's been three months nearly since my last entry. It's funny to remember discovering some blogs while I was browsing last year that appeared to have been abandoned. I wondered what tragedy had befallen that person to have kept them from doing something that they seemed to have enjoyed doing so much. I think now that it's more likely that they just were like me. Life just got a litle too hectic to record thoughts about a hobby that you barely had time to enjoy in itself, much less analyze.

But that's over. I'm back! I still have a master's thesis to write, but I'm ready for a little more calm, no more evening classes for me. My regular schedule will seem like a breeze compared to the schedule I've had for the last four months.

Today was my first day to simply waste time with no qualms about papers needing grades or lesson plans needing to be made. I'm excited to see that the U.S. Postal Service plans to issue knitted themed stamps for next Christmas. I have only one question. What's the deal with making us wait so long?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

In Love with Karabella Aurora

Before Paige and I began her scarf, I had never heard of Karabella Aurora yarn, but now that I have worked with it a little; I am in love. It's so soft and easy to work with. It also has great stitch definition, which I like too. I also notice that A Good Yarn has it for $7.25 a skein, so I'll have to remember that I can get it cheaper than the $8.95 I paid. The pattern for the "Ravenclaw" scarf is done in the round, which makes Paige happy because she's not into purling. I'm not crazy about using circulars myself, particularly since the only circulars I had that were short enough for the circumference of the scarf are some cheap plastic ones that I've had forever. That's about the extent of knitting going on this week.

I am planning to proofread my proposal one more time and send it in, then I'll have to celebrate by having a relaxing weekend of working on my Debbie Bliss dress. I even have a recipient picked out if I can hurry before she gets much bigger!

Saturday, September 30, 2006

I've Failed to Indoctrinate my Daughter

I wear a lot of hats, but the hat that I have loved the most and put the most effort into for the last fourteen plus years has been my "mother" hat. I've always loved books, and I wanted to share that love with my children, so I READ to them constantly practically from the moment they came home from the hospital. Even when they were old enough to read on their own, we would still have a book that we were reading together at night or on long trips. I never considered it a chore, and they seemed to love everything I read to them. I initially had the goal of reading all of the Newberry Award winners with them until I discovered that a significant number of the more recent ones were crap. Of course, we covered all of my childhood favorites: The Little House of the Prairie Series, The Betsy-Tacy Series, Eleanor's Estes's books, and Elizabeth Enright's books, just to name a few. I remember driving to Yosemite one year and reading Rascal during the entire four-hour trip up there and finishing on the way home. When we drove to Yosemite last spring, my kids were reminiscing about how they had loved that book and that WE should read it again. Reading has been a huge part of our family, and my kids love a good story; however until recently my daughter didn't read on her own much. (Recently, she says that she and her friends are becoming "book nerds" and she doesn't go anywhere without a book.) My son is equally capable, but he still doesn't read as much as I would like. I could never understand how two kids with parents who love reading and who had such fun listening to stories all of their lives wouldn't want to read for themselves more. I mean these kids would complain when we'd make a quick stop at Barnes and Noble! I always laugh when I read the experts' lists on how to raise a reader; guess what, experts, you don't know as much as you think you do. I'm kind of kidding because my kids have always loved learning and have done well in school: I just thought that they would be...well, bookworms.
ANYWAY, this intro brings me to to my real subject of the day: knitting. My daughter learned to knit when she was five, and she has knit ONE hat since then. She's never been interested in it. Maybe I should have said, "No, no, you cannot learn to knit. Mommy doesn't want you to knit." With her personality, that might have gotten her interested then. She's just not interested in sitting still much. BUT today, we went shopping, and I wanted to stop at my LYS. Since we were also planning to do a little clothes shopping, Paige was in a compliant mood. We passed by a maroon and gold scarf in one of the aisles, and Paige exclaimed, "That's a Harry Potter scarf!" Paige loves the Harry Potter series, so incredibly she said that she thought that she'd like to knit it, then we saw that the pattern included the other "schools." She chose the Ravenclaw pattern because they're "honest and smart." I'm very excited about the prospect of having a knitting daughter. I don't think that I will share with Russ that I bought 5 skeins of Karabella Aurora 8 for $8.95 a skein to make the I, in essence, just bought a fourteen year old a $50.00 scarf. Ugh, when I say it that way...maybe I'm placing a bit too much importance on the whole knitting thing. Nah!! I really do think that it was worth it....but maybe next time we'll look at a little cheaper yarn.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I've Been Scholarly!

I've been a good girl and have nearly finished my proposal. I had so much fun reading my comments about the Debbie Bliss dress from my blogging buddies that I didn't mind that I didn't get to knit much this weekend. I did start one of the little booties that go with the Debbie Bliss dress. The bottom part of the shoes have a lattice pattern like the top of the dress. I'm a little surprised that Debbie would have us use a cable needle to make the lattice pattern though. It's just a two-stitch cross, and somewhere I learned that it's easier to simply knit or purl the second stitch on the left needle first, and then knit or purl the first stitch. I don't know if that made any sense, but my point is that I'm not using a cable needle to make a cables.
I also increased my stash a little this week. A post on the Green Gables Knit-Along mentions that The Sheep Shed is having a sale, so I checked it out. I thought they had some great bargains, even though they have a limited selection. I love Brown Sheep wool for knitting "kitty beds" and for throws, and I think that it was half off, if I remember correctly. I made my order on Saturday or Sunday, and it arrived today, so they have great service too. I'm going to use the pink with some green that I already have to knit a kitty bed for our dog sitter's kitty, and I'm thinking that my son would like a throw knit from the red.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sheep, sheep, sheep

I started buying Debbie Bliss books when my now fifteen-year-old daughter was a baby. I keep buying them because I love the textures she uses for her all of her knits, and because I like knitting baby items since they make up so quickly. I've been meaning for ages to start the little sheep dress in The Baby Knits Book, and I finally did this week. I don't really enjoy doing intarsia because I am lazy; and instead of carefully winding the yarn on bobbins, I just attach each strand of yarn and clean up the mess when I'm finished. Still, I had to knit this dress. I found some Debbie Bliss wool/cotton for half off on the Herrschners website last year. I have been a little snobby about Herrschners in the past, but they have some great yarn sales. Teal isn't a traditional baby color, but I think it will look good anyway. I think Debbie's little sheep are really cute. Even though I have a few mistakes and tension problems, I think that I'm going to be happy with the dress when I am finished. I'm learning to get over the imperfections. Factory-produced clothing is rarely perfect either, and not nearly so charming.

I must devote tomorrow to working on my master's proposal. I should have finished it back in June, but I really did need a break. Now my plate is pretty full again since I'm teaching a night class two night a week and spending the day teaching recalitrant high schoolers, so I've got to budget the time. I read on my university's website that only half of the students who finished the course work for their Master's in Humanities program actually finished the degree. That's a bit scary! I can't imagine devoting all of this time to the classes and not finishing when I am so close to the end. I've got to start using knitting as a reward instead of a diversion. I think I've been knitting more lately than I did all summer when I had time to knit AND work on my proposal. Pleeeeease someone chastise me if you find me writing a long blog tomorrow. I MUST be academic tomorrow, none of this comforting domestic stuff for me until I've shown some discipline.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Getting Inspired

I received my new Patternworks catalog last week, which is always full of fun stuff. I love kits, and they have lots of kits this season. Now, I say that I love kits, but I don't actually have a history of success with kits, like the tulip sock kit that I bought from Knit Picks last spring. I started the tulip socks right away, but I quit after completeing half of a sock. The yarn seemed kind of scratchy and the socks seemed as if they were going to be too big. I might try tackling them again, but it's seems unlikely. At least the yarn looks pretty sitting in my yarn basket.

I've never even tried to start the flowers kits. I just like looking at the cute little box they came in; besides, I think that I'm a bit intimidated by them. Anyway, back to Patternworks. I've been planning to knit some pumpkins using Jordana Paige's pattern from Knitty , but Patternworks has an intriguing felted pumpkin kit also. I don't quite understand the concept. I don't think that they are even knit. They are just felted. Maybe I''ll try both patterns. Kai always feels that we are failures around Halloween because we don't go all out on the decorating thing. This year, I thought it would be fun to have the felted pumpkins on display. Plus, Sunset magazine has a really cute idea where you make "black cat o'lanterns" out of pumpkins. Of course, Kai would like to have lots of ghouls and severed hands scattered about the front lawn, but I think he'll be somwhat satisfied with the pumpkins and cats. So, I guess it's time to get started.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Booking Through Thursday

  • Do you tend to read more books written by one gender over the other? I definitely lean toward reading books by women, not because I chooe women writers intentionally. It's because women are more likely to have women as narrators or as main characters and I am more likely to identify with female characters. One of my favorite books is Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. The main character isn't much like me but I feel connected with her. She's more messed up and tougher than I am and also more independent in some ways, but she's also fairly successful academically but feels like a loser sometimes, which I can totally identify with.

  • If so, which one? Men? Or women? Is this a deliberate choice? Or just something that kind of happened? It's just something that usually happens. I started out reading books like Little Houe on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables when I was young, and I still like books about girls or women on "journeys." The types of journeys have just changed some as I've gotten older.

  • And (without wanting to get too personal), is this your gender? Yep.

  • I love Thursdays! I usually have the entire afternoon and evening to do what I want after I've done a little clean up around the house. I got sidetracked today, but I still almost finished my Fetching fingerless gloves. It was such an easy pattern. I think they'll be cute when I've blocked them. Mmmm. I also think that it's about time for a manicure.

    Saturday, September 09, 2006

    Cheerful Socks

    It's funny how many knitting blogs have entries that say, "I've been a bad blogger lately." That's just what people need; to feel guilty about not doing something that they're only doing for fun anyway. So, I refuse to lament missing Booking Through Thursday or Eye Candy Friday this week again. I have this credo about work: it's that I'd rather be a pretty good teacher and a really good mom than the other way around. I guess I feel that way about a lot of things. If you're really good at something it stands to reason that something else is probably being overlooked regularly. Blogging seems like one of those things that should get overlooked pretty quickly when life gets too busy. Now, knitting itself, that's another story. It's so relaxing to knit that I need to do it. My favorite time to knit is when I get back from running at 6:00 A.M. and I have almost an hour before I have to start getting ready for work. I also love knitting when everyone else has gone to bed although I should be in bed too considering how early I have to get up. During those little snippets of knitting time this week, I finished knitting my fixation socks. It's still so hot that even cotton socks are too warm to consider wearing, but I do like them and think they are very cheerful just to have lying around.

    Monday, September 04, 2006

    Happy Labor Day

    When I was a kid, I always loved long car trips because I got to read the entire time. Later, I also enjoyed, you guessed it, knitting for hours on end. I had one of those great days today. We decided to spend Labor Day at the beach so that meant almost two hours of uninterupted knitting. Living in the Joaquin Valley during August is hardly ever pleasant, but it does help you to appreciate places with nice weather all the more. After a little visit to the Starbucks in Paso Robles, we headed towards Cambria on Highway 46. We stopped at Sycamore Farms one of my favorite places to wander around, even when I don't buy anything. I like looking at all of their herbs usually, but today everything looked pretty tired. There was also a minor technicality that prevented us from buying anything. We were there at 10:00, and the shop itself didn't open until 11:00. We thought it was awfully quiet around there. We hadn't noticed the sign when we drove in. We spent a little time at the beach at Cambria and then we went out to eat at Robin's. It always smells so good walking by there, and today we discovered that the food tastes as good as the restaurant smells. Russ says that Robins is her new favorite restaurant. And what do you know, The Ball and Skein Knit Shop is right across the street. I went in on the pretext of buying some stitch markers, but then I saw some beautiful Nashua yarn, which I fell in love earlier this summer when I bought the yarn for the bunny slippers. I plan to knit Paige and me some of fingerless gloves. Paige, uncharacteristically chose red, but I stayed true to form and chose pink and green. We ended the day with a final trip of the season to the Los Osos Farmer's Market and then on to Avila Beach. Avila has changed so much in the last five years. It used to be such a sleepy place. Now it''s full of hotels. I still like it though. We noticed the shark sign as we were drivingin. I hadn't noticed it before. It was over three years ago that a woman was killed by a shark while swimming near the pier. We had been there the week before with Ann and Sam, kind of freeky. Paige says that she would still boogy board there.

    Sunday, September 03, 2006

    Lazy Sunday

    I'm almost finished with my current sock project. I had planned to spend yesterday knitting at my daughter's volleyball tournament, but the accommodations were less than perfect, as in squeeze into a spot on the gym floor right next to the court and hope that the ball doesn't hit you not perfect. I still got some good knitting time in after we got home and I took a power nap.

    I made our kitty the felted kitty bed from Wendy Knits last spring, and she loved it after initially ignoring it for several days, of course. I decided to wash it one day, and then she decided once again that she wanted nothing to do with it. I got it out again yesterday and put it on the table in an attempt to dissuade her from sleeping on the tablecloth. She loves it again although it is now a might small. I think that I either shrunk it or Josephine is getting even fatter.

    Saturday, September 02, 2006

    Between Projects

    I don't like being between projects. I should always start planning what I'm going to work on next before I finish with my current project. It's funny, I just realized that I no longer have two or three projects going at once as I used to when I was younger. I think that it may be an inadvertent part of my "procrastinating recovery program." I've gotten to be so good about paying bills BEFORE the due date, grading and returning papers BEFORE the kids forget that they ever did the assignment in the first place, and cleaning the kitchen and bathrooms BEFORE the health department should be notified that my knitting behavior has been altered as well. I think I've been more successful with actually finishing things now. BUT, back to my original premise. Now when I finish a project I am sometimes stuck in the knitting doldrums. I knew that I wanted to knit some socks, but I couldn't decide on a pattern. I made my usual mess in the living room, browsing my mags. (No, my magazines were not so neatly displayed most of the week!) You would think that someone who has every Knitters and Knits back to the 1980s would have no trouble finding the right pattern to use. Part of my problem was that I wanted to use Cascade Fixation yarn. It's thicker than a lot of sock yarn, I think, so the patterns that had me casting on 60 or 70 stitches just weren't going to cut it. I finally found a nice, simple pattern at Socks 101. So, I spend the week looking at beautiful sock patterns, which I do have the skills to complete, and I choose a pattern that is "a good beginning project." It figures!

    Sunday, August 27, 2006

    To Frog or Not to Frog

    I finished off a couple of projects that had been weighing on me for a while. I finished one of the pillows that I started back in July. It's nothing beautiful, but it looks OK, and I won't feel guilty about buying all of that Jo Sharp yarn and not using some of it. I read on someone's blog a while ago that she had started the same Jo Sharp throw that I had intended to knit. She had the same complaint that I did. It was all done on a set of circulars and had about 300 stitches with all of these changes in every row. There was no way to memorize the pattern in the beginning or to check that you were counting right. I started about five times and called it quits. I ended up knitting a nice easy Debbie Bliss throw instead. (Thanks, Debbie!) I also ended up with lots of extra yarn. Considering that I spend a bundle on the original twenty skeins, I have felt guilty about not doing something with them. My guilt is now beginning to subside, and it should completely dissipate once I finish my second pillow which I have half-way complete.

    Now to mention my weekend failure. I knit a sweater for my then four-month-old niece back in the spring, but I never put any buttons on it. I used an old pattern from the 40s or 50s that my aunt had had. It looked so cute with its curved button band. I finally sewed on the buttons today. Now that it's finished, it just looks kind of weird. I think I made the sleeves too small, not to mention the fact that my niece is fast approaching a year in age! I spent $1.75 a piece on six adorable Peter Rabbit buttons for it, and I don't want to waste that little expenditure on a dorky looking sweater that I don't know who to give to anyway. I'm so glad that someone invented the word "frog" because I know now that I am not alone in putting hours of my time into something and then deciding to destroy all of the evidence. Oh, I forgot to mention that the sweater is partly cashmere, which isn't as wasteful as it sounds since it was such a small sweater. I still had a relaxing afternoon with the cat who loves to sit on my lap anytime I appear to be busy with something. I'll probably think about it a while longer before I decide what to do about the does feel so soft, maybe I could find a baby who would like it!

    Friday, August 25, 2006

    Eye Candy Friday

    Phew! I'm glad that it's the weekend! I have a busy schedule during the week teaching high school all day and a college class two nights a week. It's not terribly hectic because both schools are about five minutes from my home, but it doesn't leave me with much free time. Luckily I have a husband who does his share of keeping our household running smoothly. He doesn't do so well with folding socks or ironing, and he did shrink one of my brand new linen shirts, BUT he's still about as good as they get in my book.

    In keeping with my knitting theme, I have posted a picture of Rowdy, our yarn loving beagle. He used to be terrible about getting skeins out of my knitting basket and basically slobbering them beyond use. He has been "on the wagon" lately, but we all keep an eye on him.

    My next two pictures were taken on the Mist Trail in Yosemite this summer. We went with a group of friends and acquaintances and had the best time. Yosemite is just about my favorite place in the world. I don't actually like the Mist Trail though. It makes me nervous, just one slip, and...... The first time we went on it, my daughter was a toddler and Russ carried her in our baby carrier. I can't believe I let him do that. I think it was peer pressure, which neither one of us usually give in to, but my brother and a friend of ours were carrying their toddlers on their backs, and we just kind of followed them further and further up the trail. My kids are now twelve and fifteen, so they won't let me hold their hands going up it, but they do have to listen to me say, "Stay away from the edge," over and over again.

    I liked the "Booking Through Thursday" questions too, so I think I'll go ahead and answer them a day late. Booking Through Thursday

    1. Have you ever wanted to travel to a place described in a book? Endless times. Many of the places that I've wanted to travel to after reading a book have been unexotic locations that just sounded appealing. I do want to visit Provence after reading A Year in Provence and all of the other Peter Mayle books, and I've wanted to visit New Zealand and Australia since reading The Thorn Birds when I was in college. Prince Edward Island is probably the top location I'd like to visit after reading the "Anne of Green Gables" series. It seems like the perfect place to go on a "knitting vacation."

    2. Have you ever ACTUALLY travelled to a place because of the way it was described in a book? I've visited several places only because I read about them in books.

    3. And if so, did it live up to the expectations, feelings, emotions you expected from the book? Did you feel like Anne was going to come romping around the corner of Green Gables? Was it as if Jo was upstairs at Orchard House, scribbling on a story? Or was it just a museum, or just a city street? Like Abbey Road without the Beatles? My most vivid memory of visiting a place from a book was a visit to one of those "unexotic" places. My family and I were on a vacation to the Midwest over eight years ago and were visiting a friend in Oklahoma. My friend's mother had grown up in Coffey, Kansas, and I think that she told us that Independence, Kansas was near where Laura Ingalls Wilder's book Little House on the Prairie was set. We drove several hours out of our way to get to the homestead location There wasn't much there, and there was only a replica of the Ingall's cabin, BUT I remember my eyes beginning to sting, walking inside that cabin. It was practically a spiritual experience. I so loved those books as a child and was in the process of re-reading them with my daughter at the time. I don't think I'd visit there again, but it was well worth the trip crossing the Verdigris River, albeit in a car and not in a covered wagon, and seeing basically the same landscape that Laura had seen.

    Tuesday, August 22, 2006

    Too Pretty to Use

    My big accomplishment of the weekend was knitting two dishcloths from Mason-Dixon Knitting I Know that I'm supposed to use them, but I just don't know if I can. I think they're so pretty, and I love the fact that they were so easy but look complicated. I'm going to be fairly busy with work this semester, so I'd better find a few more easy projects if I want to finish anything. Socks! That's what I need. I better start looking for a pattern...Wait a minute, I guess I have to finish the backs of my pillows. Darn! What's the word for stuff you lose your enthusiasm for and leave forgotten and lonley in some out of sight closet? I can be bad about that.

    Saturday, August 19, 2006

    Eye Candy....Saturday, I guess

    Yesterday was Kai's twelvth birthday, so I didn't really have time for "Eye Candy Friday," but I had several pictures that I had planned to post, so I'll just post them today. The first one is of a little Hummel figurine that Russ and the kids gave to me a long time ago for Christmas. Russ has always been good about "respecting" how much I love knitting. He really doesn't know anything about it, but he used to enjoy walking by me and telling me not to "drop a stitch." That finally got old, but he does still tease me about it periodically. The Hummel was such a nice and unexpected gift. I think that there are several other "knitting themed" Hummels, but they are soooo expensive and it's really superfluous for me to want more...mmmmmm. Hummels are special to me also because my mom had several of them as I was growing up and my grandma collected them. I remember them displayed in her hutch. If I remember right, my mom had given many of them to her as gifts after my grandma had babysat for her and my dad. My mom has all of them now, but most of them are chipped because they were victims of the 1994 Humboldt County earthquake.

    My second picture has nothing to do with knitting. It's a picture from our vacation a couple of weeks ago. Our beagle, Rowdy, is running along a tree that came crashing down Guthrie Creek (usually just a trickle) to the beach last Christmas after the endless rains in Humboldt County. There are large branches from other large trees sticking out of the sand like spindly saplings all along the beach now. Guthrie Creek is not a "lay out and get tan" beach, but it's one of my family's favorite places to go, and obviously Rowdy loves it too.

    I'm a bit long winded today, but I am once again procrastinating because the next item on my list is finishing my final proposal and beginning to actually write my thesis. This is much easier even though once I get started, I enjoy writing my proposal too. Kate, in her Knit-Geek Questionnaire asked us what one of our worst knitting habits were. I've decided that I need to change my answer. My worst habit is moving full steam ahead without planning. For instance, I knit one side of a pillow earlier this month. I got tired of that pattern, so I found another pattern to use from the same book, thinking they would end being the same size. Wrong!! Now I have two "fronts " but no back. Luckily I have enough yarn to knit both patterns again.

    Thursday, August 17, 2006

    We Have Linkage!

    Wow! My questions for "Booking through Thursday" were chosen for this week. That's my second link I think. I am ridiculously excited about that. Since I only knit from about 6:30 this morning until 7:00, I don't have much to say about that, so I think that I'll answer my own questions.

    Booking Through Thursday

    This week's questions were inspired by Caroline. She can't read The Joy Luck Club without thinking of potstickers and wontons... And no, we're not talking about cookbooks here. Please leave those out of this discussion. ;-)

    1. Do you enjoy books that have cooking or eating scenes in them? obviously, I do:) I'm even writing my master's thesis about it. I think that it's interesting that ethnic literature seems more likely to have food scenes that have layers of meaning. In one of the books I am using in my thesis, Pears on the a Willow Tree, the protagonists rejects her Polish ancestry by "refusing" to learn to make pierogi. It's only after her mother dies, and she makes peace with her past that she is able to try to make some traditional Polish foods.

      I also remember some of the images of Czech cooking in My Antonia were particularly wonderful. I love the Midwest and the whole pioneer thing, and My Antonia shows how important it was for immigrants to hold on to food traditions to maintain some of their culture.

    2. Have you made or eaten anything that was inspired by a recipe or scene in a non-cooking book? Reply here
    3. It's one of my family's favorite things to do. I've been pretty busy lately, so I haven't been as good about it. The last time we made something inspired from a book was when my son was reading the Series of Unfortunate Events Series. The children prepare pasta puttanesca. It was great, even though the fact that it had anchovies in it was a bit frightening. You couldn't really taste them. They just seemed to add salt to the sauce which is tomato based.

    Wednesday, August 16, 2006

    Unconventional Sheep

    The picture I'm posting today is a picture of the most original sheep I own. One of my son's friend's younger brother often expresses an interest in my knitting whenever he is over at our house. One day, he told me that he knew how to make lego sheep. He asked if I wanted any. I said, "Of course." He got right to work making these little sheep. He even made a few blue and one red and black "devil" sheep. I seem to have "lost" those, but I have kept the others, and I think it's pretty cute for a rambunctious ten-year-old to take the time to make a special little present for his brother's friend's mom!

    Obviously, I don't have any great knitting to share although I have been diligently knitting on my pillow.

    Sunday, August 13, 2006

    I'm Going to Need a Bigger Bookcase

    We went to Borders today because the boys wanted to look at magazines, even though I said that I was tired and didn't feel like going. Since we were there though, I thought I would just check to see if they had Morehouse Farms Merino Knits. They did, which made me happy,even though I came home and discovered that Amazon has it on sale for ten dollars cheaper. I think it may be my new favorite knitting book. It has the most beautiful pictures in it. I like the knitting that they picture, but it's the pictures of the farm and the sheep that I love. I like pattern books, but I like reading about knitting even more than looking at patterns. The author explains how merino sheep had become practically non-existent in the U.S. by the 90s, but have gained popularity recently. They also have a website, Morehouse Anyway, I think it's official. I don't need any more knitting books. I used to collect cookbooks and that started to get out of hand too. So, I hereby declare a least for a while.

    Saturday, August 12, 2006

    Insomnia isn't ALL bad

    I teach English at a high school, but for the last year, I have also been in charge of our school's webpage. I now teach two classes in web design and I love it. I asked to be given some hours to work this summer doing updates, and my superintendent denied me; however, he did approve having two nice- sixteen-year-old "computer geeks" to work on the web this summer. I would have liked to have had them work under my supervision, but it's not a good idea to facilitate being treated like dirt, so I had no hand in what they worked on basically. Of course, now that school is about to start, those boys have all of this stuff that they did, redesigning the webpage that I'm supposed to integrate into our old one. Of course, they didn't pay attention to old file names, links, etc. I am highly irritated, and I'll admit that I have residual bad feelings about the superintendent thinking I'm a good doormat. So last night I was working on getting the teacher's pages ready for the new teachers on Monday until about 11 o'clock; I went to bed and just lay there....and lay there...and lay there. Finally, I just got up and started knitting on the bunny slippers. I knit until 4 o'clock in the morning and nearly finished them. I got up this morning and finished them off, and I feel better today. I used to have this kid in class who would always say to me, "I see how you are." I feel that way about administrators. If you just acknowledge that they rarely have motives that are actually in the best interest of students and teachers, then you can move on from there. It's still frustrating when they create situations where you look incompetent.

    Bun Bun says that these slippers are almost as cute as he is. They were easy to knit and even better, there was very little finishing required. You just pick up stitches around the tops to make the cuff.

    Friday, August 11, 2006

    Eye Candy Friday

    "Eye Candy Friday" was started over at Purly Whites, and I love the idea, so here's my first post. The idea is that on Friday you post pictures that you've taken that have nothing to do with knitting but that you like. I'm going to do that, but I also see this as a good excuse for me to post knitting-related pictures that I like. Foe my first post, of course, I have to use a Carl Larsson print. I can't remember the name of this picture, but I'm pretty sure that I remember that the little girl watering the flowers is his daughter. I saw this print for the first time at the Gazebo in Ferndale, which sadly went out of business this year, and i've loved it ever since.

    Wednesday, August 09, 2006

    Loving Those Bunny Slippers!

    I told Russ that this is officially my last "do whatever I want" day. It's been so long since I've worked on my thesis that it will take me awhile to get reacquainted with what I've already completed. I need to finish The Language of Baklava which has some great food imagery (obvious from the title!). I'm ready to start getting more organized, and I probably need to re-read my novels that I'm planning to use that use food imagery extensively. I have already reread Pears on a Willow Tree which has some great references to Polish food in it. I remember that Paradise of the Blind
    has a lot about Vietnamese food preparation in it, but I can't remember any details, so I have a lot of work ahead of me.

    So, how did I spend my last lazy day? I read other peoples' knitting blogs and knit the bottom portion of the bunny slippers. The bottom part will be felted, but the cuffs, which will be in pink, are not.
    Besides loving the feel of the Nahua yarn, I have gotten to use my new surina swivel knitting needles to knit the little ears. They remind me of the old Brittany walnut knitting needles, both the feel and look of them.What a great day.

    Tuesday, August 08, 2006

    Time to Go Back to Work

    I have taught a night class all of this summer at our local community college. It was been a great experience except for the fact that I've worked all summer when I'm used to having most of the summer off. I took off last week for our vacation, and had a fellow English teacher sub for me. Now I must return to the real world of work (If one can consider three hours of work a day work) I start meetings at the high school next week and that will be real work! Of course, the less time I have, the more I want to do creative things like work in the garden or knit. I'm not really happy with my latest sweater for my neice. I think the sleeves may be too long, and my solution of lengthening the entire sweater with some knitted lace doesn't quite do it for me. Oh well, Quenby (I spelled it right, Stan) won't care, and I know that her mom will love the little leather shoes I bought to match the sweater even if she doesn't care for the sweater.

    When we stopped in Ukiah yesterday, we had one goal to eat at Schat's Bakery, one of the best bakeries I have ever seen. Everything in there looks so good. We bought a free-form sheperherder's loaf of bread and bought some sandwiches too. I had noticed that there is a yarn shop not far from Schat's, but I had never had time to check it out. While Russ and the kids waited for the sandwiches, i ventured over to Heidi's Yarn Haven. There was a group in there happily knitting socks. i was quite envious, so of course, I bought some sock yarn, even though that's about the last thing I need. I also bought a pattern for some Fiber Trends bunny slippers because they had some of them on display and they are adorable. I started knitting on them on the way home, but I decided this morning that I wouldn't have enough yarn to make the medium size, so I started over with the smallest size.
    I don't know who is going to need size 3 month bunny slippers, but I don't care because the yarn I'm using has been a wonderful experience just to knit with. The yarn is Nashua by Kristin Nichols. I'm using "pretty pink" and "natural" in Julia. It's so incredibly soft. I just like holding the skeins and sweezing them.

    Monday, August 07, 2006

    Home Again!

    We traveled twelve hours today from Fortuna to Taft. We're all exhausted, but FORTUNATELY it's not that hot here. It's always depressing to leave beautiful Fortuna and drive endlessly while it gets uglier and uglier outside. I'll write about our fun little segway in Ukiah tomorrow. For tonight, I'll just have fun taking the...
    The Knit-Geek Questionnaire from Kate atÅ Strikke (unrelated to any swaps or secret pal exchanges)

    1. What's your worst habit relating to your knitting?

    buying yarn when I have tons of it at home. I bought WOOL sock yarn today at a little shop today when I know that I have enough yarn to make at least five or six pairs of socks.

    2. In what specific ways does your knitting make you a better person?

    It's a contemplative type thing, which is good I think although I do a lot of TV watching while I'm knitting too. I also like that I often give people the things that I knit.

    3. How might you or your life be different if you were suddenly unable to knit?

    I go through stretches of not knitting, but even then knitting will preoccupy me. I would feel lost without it. It's not that the things that I make are always that great. I don't have a lot of success with sweaters; it's just the process of knitting and the feel of the wool that I enjoy so much. This is morbid, but I've even thought that I would rather lose a leg than an arm because I couldn't knit with a missing arm.

    4. If money were no object, what one yarn, and what one tool or gadget would you run out and buy first?

    I'd get on eBay and buy all of the sizes of the Brittany walnut knitting needles that cost about 50 dollars each now. I can't believe that I didn't buy them all when I knew that they were going to stop making them and they were still only 8 dollars each.

    5. What knitting technique or project type are you most afraid of (if any)? What, specifically, do you fear will happen when you try it?

    I'm not that afraid of trying anything, although I don't usually follow through with knitting intricate lace patterns. I'll start them with all kinds of enthusiasm, but then....I miscount or something, and then I start over...and then I'll think that maybe I could use that yarn for something else.

    6. Who is/are your knitting hero(es), and why?

    Elizabeth Zimmerman..of course, I bought the first issue of Knitters when it first came out in the 1980s at a little knit shop in Lincoln, Nebraska, and I'm pretty sure that Elizabeth Zimmerman had an article in there. I remember hurrying to the library to check out The Knitter's Almanac She was so interesting to me, and I loved her stories about growing up in England. I don't know that much about Debbie Bliss, but I love her books. Her patterns often have such neat definition to them.

    7. Do you consider knitting, for you personally, a mostly social activity, or a mostly solitary activity?

    Knitting is solitary for me mostly because I don't know any other knitters who live near me. I have tried to get my daughter interested in knitting but she tells me to give it up! I'm not sure that I would even enjoy being part of a knitting group unless the group members had other things in common with me as well. For instance, it would most definitely ruin my knitting experience if I were to end up with a bunch of people who talked about how great we are doing in Iraq or how there is no global warning!

    8. Is there a particular regional tradition in knitting that you feel strongly drawn toward (e.g., Fair Isle, Scandinavian, Celtic, Orenburg lace)? Any theories as to why it calls to you?

    I am strongly drawn toward Scandinavian knitting because of my Danish ancestry, I suppose. I haven't ever knit a Scandinavian sweater though, mostly because I don't live in an area that lends itself to wearing wool.

    9. If you were a yarn, which yarn would you be?

    sportweight Brown Sheep wool in light pink

    10. Some statistics:
    (a) How many years have passed since you FIRST learned to knit?

    almost thirty years

    (b) How many total years have you been actively, regularly knitting (i.e., they don't have to have been in a row)?

    I've knit pretty much since I learned when I was thirteen or fourteen.

    (c) how many people have you taught to knit?


    (d) Roughly what percentage of your FOs do you give away (to anyone besides yourself, i.e., including your immediate family)


    11. How often do you KIP (knit in public)? i.e., once a week, once a month, etc. Where do you do it?

    Hardly ever. I do knit at the beach occasionally, but usually I knit at home in the evening or early in the morning after my run and before I get ready for work.

    12. If a genie granted you one hour to stitch-n-bitch with any one knitter, living or dead, who would you choose and why?

    I suppose with my Danish grandmother. My aunt taught me to knit and she had learned from her mother, my grandmother.

    13. What aspect or task in knitting makes you most impatient?

    I hate finishing, weaving in the end, sewing seams, that kind of stuff

    14. What is it about knitting that never lets you get bored with it?

    The possibilities with knitting are endless. There is always a new pattern I can try out or improvise something on my own. I love to try new types of yarn, as well.

    15. Describe how and where you most often do your knitting - where do you sit, what is going on around you, what tools do you use and how are they (dis)organized?

    I usually sit in our old green recliner, which I keep threatening to replace, but it's sooo comfortable. It's often busy all around me since we have a great room. My husband or daughter is usually on the computer and my son is often running through the house with his various friends. I'm pretty well organized. I have a knitting bag with the basics in several nice purses. I like to be able to just take that bag with me without having to plan what to put in it. I also have a basket in the living room with some of my prettiest year displayed and with several knit lambs in it.

    16. Which one person is the recipient of more of your knitting than any other?

    mmm. I would say that my daughter has been, although now that she's a teenager, it's hard to find patterns that she deems worthy of wearing. I've made quite a few pairs of socks for my husband, but he's not into wool sweaters or any sweaters for that matter.

    17. What's the oddest thing about your knitting, or yourself as a knitter?

    I'm not sure.

    18. What do you see yourself knitting - if anything - twenty years from now?

    I definitely see myself knitting for grandchildren. I knit for my kids when they were little, but you're so busy when they're little. It's a long way down the line, but I still buy books with lots of baby patterns in them now because I figure there will come a time when I will be able to use them for my grandchildren.

    19. If you were stranded on a deserted island and could have only ONE SKEIN of yarn, which yarn would it be and what would you do with it?

    I would choose a big skein of some laceweight yarn so that I could knit a difficult lace pattern that would take me a long time to complete.

    20. If you were allowed to own only one knitting-related book, which would it be? (you'd be free to browse others, but you couldn't keep them)

    I would choose No Idle Hands by Anne McDonald. There's so much information in it that I can read it over and over.

    21. Is knitting the new yoga? Why or why not?

    I don't really see knitting as the new yoga for me. I like knitting because of its history, not because it has become trendy. (although I am glad that it has become so popular) It does help me relax like yoga is supposed to though.

    Saturday, August 05, 2006

    Another Beautiful Day on the North Coast

    It's the next to the last day of our vacation, and we again made sure that we didn't waste it. We began our day by stopping at Wildberries Market in Arcata. We usually buy our favorite Zimmermann jam at the Fortuna Farmer's Market, but since they weren't there last Tuesday, we picked some up at Wildberries. I don't know if I would recognize their jam in a taste test, but they're delicious and a nostalic must for us each summer. I was tempted to buy some alpalca wool from Sherria at the Farmer's Market, but I have spent A LOT on yarn this trip. I made a rush visit to the
    Boll Weaver (2748 E Street; 707-443-8145) in Eureka yesterday. I wanted to buy some bulky Brown's Sheep yarn, and they usually have a great selection. I made a b-line to the yarn I wanted and was out of there in five minutes tops. I plan to knit a "kitty bed" for one of Rowdy's "dogparents'" cats. They will never take money when they dog sit, so I thought a kitty bed would be the perfect gift considering that Rowdy probably gives their cats grief. Then we headed north to Patrick's Point and Agate Beach. Dogs are not allowed on most state beaches up here, so poor Rowdy had to stay in the car...but you guessed it...I didn't mind staying in the car and knitting for part of the time. It was about 60 degrees out and a little misty, so I rolled down the window and knit for about an hour. Russ and I traded places, so I did hike down to the beach, but I wouldn't have minded knitting another hour!

    Thursday, August 03, 2006

    Lots of Knitting Imagery Out There

    I have been doing a little reading for my master's proposal which I thought I would definitely have finished before the end of July. The focus of my paper is going to be on the different purposes of food imagery in ethnic and immigrant literature. I started thinking that I wanted to do something with food in my thesis after reading a book about Scandinavian immigrants called The Divided Heart by Dorothy Skardal. Her thesis was we could learn more about the daily lives of Scandinavian immigrants from reading their fiction than from just reading a history book. I've looked at immigrant literature differently since then. Of course, The Joy Luck Club is famous for all of its food imagery, but I've found that almost every ethnic novel I've read in the last couple of years has a portion devoted to food. Food is important in far-reaching ways. So...I've also been noticing knitting in books more lately too. I've always liked Good Night Moon because I love that the old mother rabbit is so quietly knitting, but I hadn't really thought about knitting in many other books. Last night I was reading Lassie Come Home to Kai. Sure enough, there is a cozy scene with an old man and woman (How stereotypical!) The old woman is busy knitting as it storms outside. We learn that their son was killed in the "war," and it's clear that knitting has provided her with some peace during her years of grieving. Then, later I was trying to finish up Great Expectations with the kids while we were in the car on a little trip to Eureka, and there Pip mentioned that Estella was knitting. I never remembered that. How could Estella be such a mess and still be a knitter?? Sadly, this entry mainly proves that I have done very little productive today in the way of writing my master's thesis. Oh well, it is still our vacation after all. I have a year and a half still.....