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.....