Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back from San Francisco

This isn't a travel blog, so I won't spend a ton of time talking about our visit to San Francisco. I do need to, just a little though since it was so fantastic. We met my brother and his family on Wednesday. We hadn't been to San Francisco, other than to drive through, for over ten years. When my brother was in law school, he and his wife lived in student housing for Hastings Law School, which is right on the edge of the Tenderloin District... in other words, in a pretty extremely scary area. A guy tried to mug Russ on one of our visits, and on another someone broke into our car and stole our travel crib. We had fun most of the time otherwise, but you can see that that could put a damper on our enthusiasm about visiting, once my brother and his family had moved from there.

This trip, we stayed at a Day's Inn across from the San Francisco Zoo. It was less than $100 o night, which is unheard of in S.F. We had considered visiting the zoo, but the "tiger incident" nixed that. We got there the morning after the attack, so it was BIG news, lots of hints from the media that those boys had been bating the tiger, definitely not smart if true. I'm not sure what I think. I guess the zoo should still have made the cages idiot proof, but I kind of have the same feeling I get if I hear someone has died in a high-speed car crash or while swimming in shark-infested waters. My daughter was unhappy that they had shot the tiger, but what were they supposed to have done?

The highlight of our visit was going to The Nutcracker Ballet at the War Memorial Opera House. It was incredible. At the end of act I, it looked they were actually dancing in falling snow, which even piled up like it was real. We had "nose-bleeder" seats, but still had a fantastic view.
Our motel was quite close to the Cliff House and Golden Gate Park, and yesterday morning Russ and I went in search of a good cup of coffee around that area. We thought that Louis' looked not only like a good place for coffee, but also for breakfast. We were right. This is a picture of my two kids and my daughter's friend, who went along with us. I am particularly happy about this picture because my daughter's friend has on a hat that she knit on the five-hour trip in the car.

I finished it up for her the night we arrived, but she knit most of it. Paige knit one too, but she managed to lose it already. I was so happy about the knitting because Paige has showed next to no interest in knitting or even having me knit her stuff. They were both so into it that we tried to stop at a knit shop on Divisidero on the way to Fishermen's Wharf. It was closed, but we found a fabric store, Britex that had yarn...and thousands of bolts of fabric. The girls bought yarn to knit legwarmers! Their prices weren't great. I bought Paige two skeins of Cascade Baby Alpaca wool for $15 a skein. I'm not even sure that she has enough, but it's worth it to see her enjoying knitting.

We're home for today, and then may head to Santa Barbara to spend the day with my brother and his family there. It's a little closer, only a couple of hours, so I'm ready to get back in the car again, I guess, especially if Paige and I can knit.

Monday, December 24, 2007

God Julaften

I don't have all of my "Christmas knitting" complete, but I rarely worry about that. All of my projects this year were for my sister and her kids, and she and I consider it Christmas until we've finished sending Christmas cards and Christmas presents, which sometimes doesn't happen until the middle of January!

Somehow, we're ready for Christmas Eve with our little family though...except not a cookie has been baked yet. We're planning to remedy that this morning. Russ is already preparing some sugar cookie dough. We saw a segment on Food Network last night about Eleni's Cookies, and he thinks that our kids should be able to create some works of art at least as good as hers. Mmmmm. We usually have a Danish meal on Christmas Eve. I went to our favorite butcher shop yesterday hoping to buy some Swedish sausage, which is my replacemnt for medisterpolse (Danish sausage). They didn't have any, but they had "country" sausage, which sounded pretty close.

On the 26th, we are heading for San Francisco to meet my brother and his family for a few days. They are flying in from Alabama, so we're very excited to see them. They lived there years ago, so we'll pretty much rely on them for the itinerary. The highlight of the visit is that we have ticket to see the Nutcracker Ballet on Thursday night.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Challenging Week

My knitting accomplishment for the week is mainly the result of a sad event. My 70 year old aunt died last week, and we drove two hours to go to her funeral on Monday. I worked on these "classic" socks from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks most of the way there. She was my mom's sister-in-law and was one of those people who was always so active. I almost had this feeling like: she doesn't have time to die; she's got too many things to take care of. She loved music and directed her church's choir forever. I will always remember the wonderful Christmas Eve services that she organized every year; Her husband and children did such a good job of choosing her favorite songs for the funeral, which, of course, was all the more emotional for so many of us who had those memories of her singing those songs and directing the choir to sing them. There was standing room only, which is a testament to how many lives she impacted. I have seen her only rarely since I've been an adult, but was always happy when I did. I'm mostly sad for my uncle and her children and grandchildren. It was totally unexpected, not really tragic but still very sad. As one of her kids said, "Mom would have had us playing games and giving away prizes at her service, but we're just not there yet."
Anyway, I didn't intend to go on and on about it; it's just something that has filled my thoughts this week. I've thought about my aunt a lot as I finished these socks, and I've been even more contemplative then usual. I know that my grandparents loved my aunt, their daughter-in-law, so I like to imagine ajoyous reunion up in heaven. There are a lot of things I question about the world and why things are as they are, but it's reassuring to me that I have no doubt where my aunt is right now.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Wonderful Winter Books

A couple of entries ago, I wrote about how I love old books so much, but I probably love children's book most of all. I used to read to my children every night long after they were reading other books on their own. When we started reading actual novels, when they were around five, I even kept a journal with both of them in which they would dictate to me what to write about their feelings about each book as we finished it. I usually would ask them what they had learned from the book. I remember that after we had finished reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's These Happy Golden Years, Paige said that she had learned that if a boy starts coming over to your house, it means he wants to marry you.

Each Christmas I would buy each of my children a "Christmas" book for St. Nicholas Day, December 6. As a result of that practice, I think I own every book that Jan Brett published up until a few years ago when I decided that teenager don't appreciate picture books so much (LOL) Of course, as most knitters know, Jan Brett used knitting motifs throughout her books. Two of my favorites are The Hat and The Mitten although I'm in love with all of them.

Yesterday, I was looking for an idea to give to a co-worker who is expecting in a couple of months. I was looking through some of my kids' old picture books, and I decided to buy my friend a Kim Lewis book. She is one of my very favorite author and illustrators. We have three of her books, but I found a different one to buy for my friend. It's called A Quilt for Baby. We have Emma's Lamb, Shepherd Boy, and First Snow. These books don't have any overt knitting in them, but they have sheep, snow, and cozy farmhouse scenes, which makes me just as happy.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas Bunny

I knit a Christmas bunny this weekend. I've mentioned least ten times, I'm sure, that I love Julie's little cotton rabbits. Someday I would like to buy one but it seems unlikely considering she has hundreds of people on her mailing list, so I've tried to knit my own little bunnies. I've never been completely happy with my past attempts. I do like Barbara Prime's patterns that she sells in her ETSY shop, This Chrismas bunny is my latest evolution of her Easter bunny pattern, and I love him and his little sweater. He wasn't cheap to knit exactly since I used a skein of Karabella Aurora 8 which is about nine dollars a skein. For his sweater I used some red Brown Sheep sock yarn and some ridiculously expensive cashmere that I bought a while back for no reason whatsoever.

Garnstudio and Drops Design is one of those great sites that I don't visit enough. They have so many free patterns that I always overwhelmed. I have a kind of wish list in my bookmarks of some their designs but I haven't knit any of them yet. Yesterday I was checking on Knit n Lit, and she had a great link to Garnstudio's advent gift to their users, an advent calendar. It's so cheerful I wish I could just take the month off and knit all of their patterns.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Start of Christmas Presents

I have a lot of people at work who I would like to do a little something for during the holidays that wouldn't make them feel obligated to give me a gift back. I think I've found the perfec thing. I found this cute pattern for miniature hats a couple of days ago. They're super easy. I'm going to knit a bunch of them and then buy a fun bottled drink like a Starbuck's frappacino or Godiva coffee drinik and put a little hat on it. Then I'll leave the drink and hat on my different friends' desks. Not much cost to me, but I'll make some people happy, I think.

I took my cyber-buddies' advice and stuck with myLoksins and finished them last night. Wait a minute..they're not mine. They're my sister's Christmas present. She doesn't read my blog very often, so I think I'm safe to tell. I really did like the pattern. I can easily see myself knitting this pattern again. I do often feel that my handknit socks are too loose, but I think it's mostly that they're just a different fit.
It really is a wonder that I am able to get any knitting accomplished. This picture is not staged. The only animal missing from trying to stake out a position on my lap is our rabbit, and he probably would try too if we let him in the house.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Books, Books, Books

I don't know how many knitting books I have, but I don't feel like I have wasted my money buying any of them. My favorites are on the history of knitting, which I can imagine a non-knitting enthusiast cringing at. "What could be more boring than knitting?...reading about knitting." Well, too bad. I remember buying Richard Rutt's History of Knitting when it first came out. We were on a camping trip, and I lay in the tent for most of the afternoon savoring every word. Knitting books are great!
I haven't really read much from this set of books, Journeys Through Bookland It's special to me because it belonged to my grandparents. They had a fire that destroyed almost everything several years before I was born and these books were one of the few items saved...I think. Now I''m wondering what in the heck they were doing carrying out a set of books from a blazing fire. My uncle and cousin were staying with them that night because my aunt had just given birth to another baby and was still in the hospital. It could have been such a tragedy. Instead, it was something that I always knew about and was kind of intrigued by. My grandpa found my grandmother's wedding ring among the ashes because they knew where the piano she had left it on had stood. Back to the books, I loved going to my grandparents' home. These books were in one of the cozy bedrooms along with another set of storybooks that I would read and read. My own parents aren't too big on nostalgia, but I made sure that they knew how badly I wanted this set. I wa probably a pain about it; I do have three other siblings, and one of them is a bigger bibiophile than I am. But, I ended up with them, and I love having them.
My husand and I have eclectic tastes in books. We use the library a lot, but also like to own books we love. It's probably cheaper than way since we have a little problem with library fines. It's not like we have thousands of books...I think; but we have hundreds...OK, maybe we do have a thousand counting our kids' books.

I've been just messing around all morning, wasting time but having fun. Julie had a link on her page to her Library thing book list. I checked it out and now have another avenue to waste hours of my time. Thanks, Julie! I've started my own library, and have the link in my sidebar. It's really fun to think about and categorize your books. I'm a funny reader for an English major. I'm not that good of a reader, as in not that careful of a reader. I can read well if I want to. I do not like to have to work very hard reading, which may be why I like Barbara Kingsolver and Sue Monk so much. They write contemplative stuff that doesn't require much concentration on your part. I've tried reading Kristin Lavransdatter and Anne Karinina innumerable times, but I can't discipline myself enough to finish them. I have recently read two modern book. One first one was Water for Elephants, which I really liked and pretty much read every word of, but this week I read The Thirteenth Tale, which I also really liked. I wouldn't want to have to take a test on it though. I got kind of bored by the end and started skimming. I do that a lot. And here's another tidbit. i have no intention of correcting this habit!

I've been knitting, but I don't really have anything new to show off, so I'll show off some stuff from my backyard. I'm kind of envious of people who post pictures of snow in their backyards this time of year because of how cozy it is indoors when it's snowing outside. On the other hand, it's kind of fun to see my garden come to life again after seeing everything suffer through our miserable summers here in Central California. So, here are some views of what I'm currently seeing in my backyard this week.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Tenacity Works....Sometimes

I started this Loksin sock at least five times. As I said in my lat post, the problem is not with the pattern, at all. It's an easy one. I don't quite have it memorized but nearly. I'm just too inattentive. I like getting into the rhythm of knitting, and this pattern requires you to think. I kept confusing the symbol "/" which means knit together with "\" which means SSK. I'm nearly finished with the first sock, but, of course, I'm tempted to start something else. That's a habit that I've developed from reading other blogs. Now that I know that lots of other people do it, I'm tempted to give in to it too.

While I was visiting my LYS to replenish several of my "puppy-fied" knitting needles, I could help noticing some pretty Christmas colors of Cascade yarn. I knit my pumpkins out of Cascade, and it's a nice yarn to work with, so I bought three skeins. I'm not sure what I'll do with them, but I might knit some Christmas ornaments. I found this pattern from The Yarnery and might try it.

That brings me to the topic of how I found The Yarnery. They had an ad in the Interweave Knits Holiday Knits that I bought last weekend. I shouldn't even include the link because it's sold out. I can completely understand why because it is wonderful. As I've said before, I'm so happy with this magazine lately. There are at least ten projects in there that I'd like to do, and then I found the link to The Yarnery, which has such fun stuff to order.I have plenty of Christmas stuff to finish up, but I'm about ready to shell out $26 to buy the kit to make these little snowmen. I could leave them up to keep things cheerful after I have to take down my Christmas decorations, couldn't I?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Knit, Rip, Knit, Rip

I have no knitting to report whatsoever. It's not that I haven't been knitting I have knit and reknit my Loksins at least five times. It's not even a difficult pattern. I just haven't concentrated I guess. I also tried to make them with a picot edge, which I love, but I didn't get the tension right; so I'm starting over again. Yikes!

I'll just post a picture of my daughter and her best friend. She's the "red head" (this week) on the left. I'm very proud of her; she letters in three sports and has had straight A's all through high school. She also regularly drives me crazy and is usually the source for any of my "tossing and turning" nights. She has fairly good sense, but she still worries me. She recently got her learner's permit, which is an additional cause for me to worry. I will admit that I much prefer having her in the back seat with her earphones and her books, ignoring us. How can we possibly trust any teenagers to drive? in my teacher and parent opinion, even "good" teenagers like Paige are crazy a good deal of the time. We shouldn't let them behind the wheel until they are twenty at least. I'm just saying.

I'll also post a picture of our sleeping puppy. I like her best when she is sleeping. I no longer think that her diabolical obsession with yarn and wooden knitting needles is cute. She has destroyed at least four of my Brittany knitting needles. The mayhem has ceased only because I have become more dilligent about not leaving my knitting lying around! Yes, there is another dog behind her. Our older (previously not recognized as perfect but now greatly appreciated beagle) Rowdy loves her, except when she bites his ears!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Good Stuff

I received my winter issue of Knits today. I'm kind of surprised because I had thought that maybe I had let that subscription lapse. I'm really glad that I didn't though. I've liked Knits better than Knitter's for a quite a while now, and I think I've blogged about my reasons before. For me, knitting is not simply a hobby. I feel like knitting has greater dept than a hobby. It goes with organic gardening, homecooked meals, and comfortably furnished cottages with white picket fences; it goes with walking on the beach or in the woods. I liked Knitters when it first came out because it seemed to represent that. Here's this old woman (Elizabeth Zimmerman) on one of the first covers, and then you find out she lives in a convert barn out in the country! There were historical pieces about knitting in Cornwall or Wales and knitters who raised their own sheep. Now I feel like Knitters is too slick. It reminds me of Vogue a little bit, and I don't particularly like Vogue either. Knits came out just when I was starting to feel that Knitter's wasn't the magazine I had liked for so long. I liked Eunny Jang's blog before she became editor of Knits, and she seems to have brought her style with her. There's such a nice mix of somewhat trendy pattern ideas that I can acutally see myself or my daughter wearing, an historical article or two, and wonderful classic pattern to consider knitting or just enjoying. Knits has embraced technology without givng up the down-to-earth approach that make me like them in the first place.

What's the yarn sitting there on top of my magazine you ask? Why it's two skeins of Claudia's Handpainted Yarn in Baby Girl that I ordered from the Loopy Ewe on Wednesday night, I think it was. I am almost a Loopy Groupie which basically means that I have spent way too much money on sock yarn lately. I've been finding so much inspiration lately though too. Of course, there are my favorite blogs like Wool Windings and Willow Way Knitting to name a few, but I've also discovered Kniity Chick's Sock it to Mepage, Monica Knit..A Lot, and Yearns for Yarn. I even ordered one of Monica's great patterns this week.

I knit a lot of little pumkins this week, but I also started on my loksin socks. I like the pattern although I'm not sure that my sock look like some the others I've seen.

I haven't even joined the Anne of Green Gables Knit Along, but I've been reading the books, which got me to thinking about other old favorites of that genre. I love A Lantern in Her Hand by Bess Streeter Aldrich, a Nebraska author. I only had a beat-up paperback copy, so I ordered this library edition from Amazon. It was $5.00. I'd say that was worth it. I guess it's obvious that I love "old" books.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

And the Winner is...

Black Sheep, You're the winner of the scrumptious skein of Knittery cashmere yarn. I loved everyone's sock story, and I couldn't possibly decide the winner by the "best" story method; so I decided to complete my contest using a highly scientific manner. I asked Russ to tell me a number between one and ten, which was the number of comments I had. He said, "five" and Blacksheep ws the fifth comment! Blacksheep, if you will email me your address I will have that yarn on the way to Switzerland right away:)

I spent yesterday at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. I'm part of a group of four teachers who take a class of honors students to the Getty every year. We get to go the Getty for "orientation" every year too, to get acclimated to any new exhibits since we're the tour guides. It is an incredible museum, situated on a hill overlooking downtown L.A. Of course, the view was a bit obscurred yesterday with all of the smoke, but the weather itself was perfect. We've been planning to go to the Getty Villa, which is now open in Malibu, but for obvious reasons it's been closed for the last week.

These two paintings are both on dispaly at the Getty. They're both paintings of Venus and Adonis by Vouet and Titian, respectively. I really like Vouet's version (top picture), since it reminds me of the mint candies my grandma used to have when I was little. It's the pastel colors I guess. I even used these two paintings as a subject for one of my papers for an art class I had to take for my Humanities degree. Sadly, that was the only class I received a B in, and the prof. ripped apart the two papers of mine that she graded. I never even got back my third and fourth papers....but I'm not bitter. (LOL)

I haven't been doing any impressive knitting, but I've been happily knitting pumpkins. I found a pattern for these pumpkins Curly Purly. They're so easy but still cute, I think. I think I'm calling the yellow one an apple. I'm planning to donate them for a fundraiser at our church next weekend. I figure they'll look cute on a Thanksgiving table.

Monday, October 22, 2007

100th Post

I just happened to notice yesterday that I was on my 99th post. I knew 100 was coming, and I had kind of thought I'd just let it go un-marked since I didn't have any great ideas about how to celebrate it. However, I was looking through my yarn yesterday as well, and I discovered a beautiful skein of of merino cashmere sock yarn from The Knittery. (I don't even remember where I bought it. Jimmy Bean's maybe. It's worsted weight, which someone in colder climate would have many opportunities to make use of: but sadly I don't think that heavy wool socks will ever be something I'll need more than a day or two a year.

So I'm having a small contest. All you have to do is to tell me a "sock" story. I'm most interested in your favorite pattern, but I don't care what your story is about. it will just be fun to read them. I'll keep my content open until my next post--No! I'm not going to wait a month between post like I've been doing! I'm thinking I'll just choose the winner randomly, but I reserve the right to choose the person who tells me the best story:)

Sunday, October 21, 2007


I could't get Blogger to post my picture of my rabbits yesterday. So here they are today.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Angst Ended

Before I give my monthly excuse for not blogging, there are a few accomplishment I can boast about. I knit some cute little gloves for my little six-year-old neice for Christmas. I accidentally ordered one skein of Claudia's Handpainted yarn in Jill's Pink from from the Loopy Ewe, so I decided to make something with one skein instead of ordering another skein to knit another pair of socks. I love this yarn. It's so soft. I think it's softer than Lorna's Laces yarn which I also love. The color is perfect as well. I also knit another little rabbit so that both of my neices can have one.

I don't live an incredibly stressful life, but it does seem like sometimes I have too much going on to really enjoy it much, and I will begin to feel this growing angst. I usually take a day off work when that comes on, but I haven't even felt like I had time to do that in the last couple of weeks. Some of the sources of my anxiety seem pretty humorous now, but they weren't when I was going through them.

Here is a not completely atypical day in my life. Up at 5 (even though I was up until at least 10:30 to run 3 miles, get to work by 7:40, which is technically ten minutes late. Within five minutes of arriving, I discover that the school's televised morning announcements which I am partly in charge of are not working on the principals computer even though they work fine on mine since I check them innumerable times in the morning because I worry about them not working.--problem is eventually solved. Teach three classes of English to students whose only desire is to sneak text messages to their friends, accuse each other of being gay, or merciless tease members of the opposite sex. (And I teach the "good" ones!) I then teach two technology classes which are fun BUT hectic. And finally go up to another class during my preparation period to tutor students on webpage design since their teacher who is mainly a football coach doesn't want to understand it himself. By the time 3:00 rolls around, I'm pretty beat, but still have to tie up some lose ends, prepare for a evening college class I've been teaching, for the first time. Parent arrives with his son in tow because the son got a deficiency and parent's goal is to humiliate his lazy but decent kid in front of his teacher. I soon discover that I have a bloody nose at about this time which won't stop bleeding. Parent doesn't seem to notice and makes son get all of his make up work and take a make up test right then and there. I finally get rid of this no altogether unpleasant pair, when my good friend comes in all excitied about starting a new college academy thing at our school He also seems not to care that I still have a bloody nose and talks for another fifteen minutes. I make it home to realize that husband has made "dinner"...that is--one item--Pad Thai out of a box from Trade Joe's. (OK, he did work all day too teaching first graders, but...) Somehow I make it through the day, but that was the day that I decided that I needed to slow down. I'm tired again just reading about it. Anyway, I'm really happy that it's fall, and I've been gardening and cooking....and knitting, of course. The only fullfilling thing I haven't been doing is blogging, and I'm going to start doing that again too!

Gidget, our beagle puppy, is still cute and troubesome. She loves yarn like Rowdy used to, and can't seem to control herself around it. Here is what is left of some Nashua yarn I accidentally left in grabbing distance.

Here's why I don't care that much what she does...within reason!