Monday, November 29, 2010


Working full time creates a stinginess in me - a hoarding of sorts, for my weekend time.  The long Thanksgiving weekend is always excitedly anticipated.  Planning begins weeks in advance - the sewing room is cleaned, projects are lined up in order of importance, small busy work is tackled and forgotten, food is prepared and stored.  FOUR days.   
This year I was cheated out of my holiday.  It started on Thanksgiving afternoon, shortly after the dishes were cleared and put away.  The sore throat.  The heaviness in my head.  I took to the couch with a myriad of knitting.  I fell asleep with the needles in my hand - the yarn strewn across my chest.  The following three days passed by like a bad dream - a coughing, sleeping, snotting, drifting testimony to the Headcold Gods.  
I was able to make a tiny bit of progress yesterday on some mittens that I'd started for Hilary last season.   I also cast on for a matching slouchy hat. 
I've frogged the hat at least three times since this image was taken.  Swatching is hateful when healthy, despicable when ill!

Saturday, November 27, 2010


Does your family boast an incredibly tacky 50's kind of platter?  The one that makes its debut but once a year?  Ours does, and it was handed down to me.  Woo-hoo.  Notice the crack in the upper left corner?  You can't destroy these things!
I hope that you all had a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving day.  This guy became a "lap dog" when the turkey aroma finally transformed his good manners -
It's to his credit that he rarely begs.  In his defense, there were some substantial items being passed around that were worth begging for!  We had a beautiful meal and a quiet afternoon.  Sometime during the night I was nailed by the latest viral something - translating into a horrific head cold.  Snot City.  Sorry.

But the good news is that the Briar Rose fiber came - the skein that Chris dyed for me so that I could finish my Hilflowers shawl.  Chris is a magician - there is no way to separate the new from the old fiber.  How does she do that?
The shawl is calling to me from the couch.  Turner Classics, here I come.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


There was a lot happening around here on Sunday.  The ironing of the napkins was abandoned, as
a project that I have been clamoring begging for began to take shape;
The Long Awaited Pen.  The temporary place where Harley will be able to exercise (supervised) when the snow and ice claim the roads that we walk each day.  We do a fast gaited 2.5 miles each morning, much of it up hill, and the pavement can get really perilous - not to mention the drivers.  I could spend a lot of time discussing the people who drive up and down our road.  There is a day care center about one mile from here on our route, and I have witnessed driving that should create legislation, truly.  It is horrifying to see how recklessly parents drive with young children in the car.  Anyway.  The pen will be wonderful.
Harley and I will be safe on inclement days and the expletive name calling and finger waving sign language will cease!  I want you to know that I've spoken to the local police about this matter.  They blew me off with their claim that I walk during the time that they change shifts, so they are unable to position a radar trap.  Nice.
Sunday was the perfect sort of day for pen-building.  It was also good for lace-drying -
This is the Lovely Leaf Lace Scarf from The Purl Bee lounging in the November sunshine.  This merino/silk combo is so gorgeous and dense that it only partly dried after many hours.  Must. Have. More.

We talk about our never-ending parade of UFO's and occasionally post one or two so as to accelerate the finishing process.  This doesn't always work out so well for me, but I like to think that journaling my projects will, in the end, help me to at least CONSIDER finishing them!  Someone is desperate for a holiday outfit-

One of my cousin Lori's creations - an Elf doll, badly in need of a wardrobe!  She has been sitting around for a few years in her perfectly muslin nakedness, and I have vowed to clothe her this season.

Everyone looks better in lace.  About 20 minutes after this image was taken, my stomach started to do a spiraling watutsi dance.  Which lasted for the better part of two days.  Brutal, I tell you.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I went up to my sewing room with the intention of ironing all of the Thanksgiving napkins.  But there was something waiting for me - my old friend Distraction.         
Last season's Kincaid panel which STILL wants to be made into a tree skirt!  I had big plans for this one- complete with hand quilting and beads.  It was peeking out from beneath a massive stack of cottons.  It's unexpected presence started the wheels turning . . . a gift for Andrew, also waiting for closure.
Yes, close ups are available -
Just keeps getting better, yes?
It's going to be a sensational pillow.  And of course - this design work is the brilliance of my friend Linda Hibbert (Silver Linings Originals) If you love to paper piece AND you love your dog, you might want to scurry right on over to her site where you will find just about any and every breed you might imagine!  This piece may be finished with a tartan plaid border, or something equally masculine.  Andrew is currently looking at houses and this could be a nice housewarming gift to accompany the toaster oven that he's mentioned needing.  He doesn't read my blog, so I'm safe posting this stuff!
So - while I was up there in my cave sewing room, the canine theme seemed to have claimed me.  The Yappity Yap blocks that I've recently posted were asking to be sewn in holiday colors!
I was able to crank two of these guys out before Scott-the-Provider staggered in, arms full of groceries and whatnot.  He'd been to Sam's Club.  Needless to say, we are ready for whatever might be brewing out there in Northeast Land.  The weather has turned again and there is a chance that we might see snow for Thanksgiving.  I'll have plenty of food and sundries, just in case.  C'mon over.
No progress to report on the Trees, other than that they look so pretty to me, and serene, resting quietly on the design wall.  I have the patterns set out for the borders, which will include strings of Christmas bulbs winding around all four sides.  It's this terminal DISTRACTION!  And it doesn't stop with quilting projects!

Saturday, November 13, 2010


The last 24 hours have been full, rich.  One of the perks that one realizes when working for an academic institution is the educational discount - this is important since everyone KNOWS that academia rarely provides a living wage!  The hallowed halls, the ivy-covered towers are breath-taking, but the reality is that many work behind those walls for sub-standard wages, present company included.  Vassar is my employer.  I could sing its praises and its pitfalls, but that would be for another time.  Tonight I want to give thanks for the educational discount that allowed me to purchase a GLORIOUS computer for my Bean's 30th birthday.  (Early)

 It's a MacBook Pro.  It's stainless steel.  It's absolutely fantastic and she is in another orbit.  And that's good enough for me!  When Bean is happy, we are all happy!  Moving right along, because I cannot figure out how to download the images ...

Here's an image of cousin Karen -
 She's the one in the gorgeous shade of blue.  Karen is Scott's first cousin - her father and Scott's dad were twins.  This is a shot of some family members sorting through photos for the collage that was displayed at the funeral home - it was taken a few weeks ago.  I want you to pay special attention to what Karen is wearing.  There will be a test.

Karen is one of those special people that, if you are really really fortunate, you will bump into during your life time.  And, if you are UBER lucky, it will be during a crisis, because Karen really shines when things get dicey.  I like to say (and it's a fact) that she is the glue that held this family together when Scott's dad became ill and quickly passed on.  She was ever-present.  She is tiny, but diminutive - a powerhouse who apparently never sleeps.  She always has a kind word, a warm glance, a hug.  She never runs out.  You could wake up with a savage headache and she would know what to do.  You could experience a break with your faith while standing in a mortuary, and she would have the words to comfort you.  When she smiles it is exactly like the sun breaking loose from a cloud-filled sky.  She brought us all through these last few weeks intact.  How do you say thank you for such a gift?
I thought so.  And I KNEW that you all would agree.  Now, I need some help.  The fiber is Perfection.  The color is Perfection (remember what she was wearing?).  Please help me find a pattern for a lace shawl for 800 yards of Perfection.  I've been shifting through everything that I have, but nothing has moved me.  I'm wanting a pattern that is easily committed to memory.  Something beautiful to make the most of this cashmere.  Something that will let Karen know how valued she is.  Cherished.
I spent some time in my sewing room this morning getting reacquainted with UFO's that have been clamoring for CLOSURE!  Do you remember this?
I aggressively promised this piece that it would see closure before the 2010 holiday.  I pulled out it's colors and it's finishing patterns and fabrics.  And then something caught my eye -
This is the view from my sewing room door out into the hallway.  Layers of projects, both finished and not so finished.  Quilts - as far as the eye can see!  This is the way that I like it!  Explosions of color and texture abound.  I wonder what it would be like to begin and finish one project at a time.  B O R I N G ...

I've finished my Lovely Leaf Scarf and am busy memorizing the kitchener stitch.  Why do I have such trouble committing this grafting technique to memory?  I should have started to knit in my twenties.
It's so pretty that I can hardly stand it.  I'm ready to order about a bajillion more skeins of this yarn.  Seriously.  The silk lends itself in such a seductive way - the perfect marriage to the merino.  There is one tiny detail that I've avoided overlooked - with all of this knitting I have managed to hurt myself, again.  I've got a good sized ganglion percolating on the top of my right hand.  It hurts like hell.  It makes me feel OLD.  I'm going to knit through the pain!

Because I PROMISED this project that I would finish it!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


The internet has taken over my life.  When I get to work in the morning I check into Ravelry long before I look at my business email.  Later, I might sneak a peek at Knitty or Amazon or one of my MANY 'favorite' blogspots, gotta see what my friends and fellow knitters/spinners/beaders/quilters/painters/poets are up to!  Before I know it, I've lost an hour or so and have to make up that time during lunch, or worse - report in early...(so that I can check into Ravelry before the day officially gets underway)  And what is worse are the massive amount of patterns out there that are BEGGING me to select them.  At this very moment I have perhaps four piles (each measuring in at over three feet tall) of downloaded patterns that don't have a snowball's chance in hell of being created in this lifetime!  And yet; I. KEEP. ON. DOWNLOADING!!!!  So, I took a long, ragged deep breath and thought about intervention.

Where would I turn - to whom, for download intervention?

It occurs to me that I have been longing for a 'step back' from all that is bright and new, shiny and innovative about the knitting world.  I want to go back and spend some time with my beloved books of patterns and ideas - the ones that I have collected throughout the last two decades and really - have neglected for some time now.  This is the source - this is where I will find inspiration and solitude and renewed creativity.  My intervention.  The beauty part -all of the patterns lie within these books.  Zero downloading.  Here is one of my all-time favorites- 
I truly love Jo Sharp's creations.  I own most of her books and have always enjoyed every pattern that I've made.  The problem?  I do not love her yarn.  I find it stiff and uncomfortable - hairy and itchy!  And, I don't know -  is it even available any longer?  Her patterns are impeccable - classic - extraordinary.  This one has been calling to me for decades -
I'm ready to knit this beauty - 'Woodswallow'.  Does anyone want to join me?
It had me at the collar.  How pretty would this be in a deep crimson for Christmas with charcoal or black fair isle?  Or maybe a creamy winter white with taupe - or a handsome hand painted Something with an equally juicy contrast?  Timeless.
If something clings to your long memory, it needs to be honored.  I want to go to my closet and find this lovely cardigan waiting for me.  This year, and next.  And after that as well.

My butterscotch alpaca Mara came to work with me today.  I never even lifted her out of my knitting bag.  
It's all good.  If I cannot find time to knit a few rows during my work day, I am happy knowing that the knitting bag is close by and at the ready.   

Saturday, November 6, 2010


Remember that you heard it HERE, first - 'Cake Matters'.  My daughter and I, forever in the spirit of true entrepreneurs, have decided that people suffering from celiac disease should NOT go without cake!  There are some food items that cannot be ingested because of gluten issues, but cake should never be among them.

So, we are baking.
Don't imagine, for one moment, that gluten-free is synonymous with penny-wise.  This stuff is EXPENSIVE!  We need to find a wholesaler.  That xanthan gum retails at $10.99.  Yup.  Okay - hoist up the big girl pants and set to peeling some beets.  That's right, I said BEETS!
Fresh beets may be the secret ingredient to successful Devil's Food cake.  Call me skeptical - say the jury is still out, and, while you're at it, give me something that will remove the beet stains so that I can knit later on!
Can you imagine how much wholesome beet goodness you could pass off as 'chocolate cake' to your children IF this recipe really turns out to be splendid?  Holy cow.  Talk about subversive parenting!
The beet puree is gorgeous.  I split a vanilla bean and added its paste to the mix as well as the shell for extra vanilla goodness.  (shell removed before baking!) Little known fact - vanilla extract is NOT gluten-free.  So we go for the purest state.
You can see that I'm cooking carrots down for another cake in the background.  Hilary and I are serious about bringing delicious gluten-free cakes to our little corner of the world.  And who knows?  We could end up being the next famous duo - the cake version of Ben & Jerry!  And, really?  I cannot think of a better person to hang out with in the kitchen than my darling first born!
I'll admit - when it was time to turn these beauties out of their pans I got very nervous!  In the first place, they were WAY TOO HEAVY to be cooked through!  I thought, oh crappers - when I flip these I'll end up with half of the cake left in the pans.  When you've baked as many cakes as I have through the years, you intuitively KNOW if the batter is cooked, or not!  Weight is important.  But, hello?  The absence of gluten makes for a denser batter!  Dense = heavy!  I'm learning.
They slid out of those pans like greased piglets!  And smell divine ...
And I promise you - the flavor was amazing.  Hilary and Carson and Mom loved this cake.  I am still fussing over the texture, as it doesn't meet the standard I have for chocolate cake.  I'll keep baking and tweaking the ingredients, raising that gluten-free bar until it sings CAKE MATTERS!  

In case you are wondering - I still knit and quilt.
 ANOTHER Yappity Yap block.  I had a real love affair going with this design.  And, as you can see, I have always suffered from UFO syndrome (unfinished objects).
At least I'm consistent!  Yesterday we celebrated my mother's 83rd birthday!  She likes to remind us that she's "hanging in there", and she is, God bless her!  With all of the change and turmoil and sadness over my father's condition these last 18 months, she has managed to keep going.  She tends to her beloved gardens, she keeps her house exquisitely clean, she visits my father every other day at the nursing home and she makes time to read and nap and dream.  She's started to knit a little this year - I tempted her with Lantern Moon needles and some delicious yarns.  I don't know what it is about those exotic wooden needles - maybe it's the slide, maybe the deep rich sound that they make when they bump into one another - perhaps the smooth warmth that they exude after some substantial knitting time ... whatever the secret is - ADDICTED!  Does anyone else feel this strongly about their needles?  Anne Hanson's 'Oh, Canada' called to me -
Mom likes to wear small scarves under her coats.  And she likes anything that I create to be beaded!  The yarn that I used for this project was an old stash item - the label long lost.  I know that it is synthetic, but it feels like a baby's cheek.  Mom cannot wear wool next to her skin, so this is perfect.  I'm so glad that she didn't pass that particular (no wool) gene along to her daughter!
It's Saturday morning and I need to go upstairs to reacquaint myself with my sewing room!  Happy weekend all!  Get out there and rake some leaves for me!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Here's one of my Yippity Yap blocks fashioned into a pillow.  And another, one that resides in the ever-growing unfinished drawer!  I need to get back into that mammoth drawer and pitch a fit!
Isn't it time to be tackling the Christmas projects?  I have a printed panel for a tree skirt that I would really like to complete and use this season.  For the past two years I have hauled it out, looked at it, and replaced it on its shelf in January!  I need to get myself on an internet DIET.  This would involve NOT printing anymore patterns from the glorious websites that I visit daily.  Horrors.
It's always a blast to re-discover these old projects.  This block was created during my Bead Frenzy period.  I used to bead each and every Friday night under the Ott light (until my eyes bled!).  I remember that as a very creative period which ended with new and stronger lens and a fishing tackle box stuffed with beads galore. I still love the effect that mixing beads with fiber has.  And French Knots? NEVER grow tired of them either. Thanks again to Miss Bea at Bah Bah Blacksheep for reminding me that I made these long ago!