Monday, December 31, 2007

No rest for the wicked...

Ignore that ugly yellow 70s era linoleum that is still in my kitchen and I manage to rationalize by telling myself it's really "retro"...

...not that I'm all that wicked, I don't think. Unless I'm PMSing, then all bets are off. Or, is it considered wicked to have signed up to be part of a stash knit-down for 2008 -- part of which is to abstain from buying new yarn as much as possible -- and yet go and purchase a boxful of fibery goodness two days before said knit-down begins? Seems rather like the binge the day before you're planning to join Weight Watchers, doesn't it?

Ok, so...I have worked every day since Christmas except Friday. Mind you, this is not a complaint, as I love my job. I just usually only work on Saturdays, which works out well for many reasons, not the least of which is that it keeps my yarn-buying opportunities to a reasonable weekly minimum. However, I offered to work extra over the holidays, and I was taken up on it, which worked out fine because -- unbeknownst to moi -- it is INVENTORY TIME! Yeay! It hadn't occurred to me that a yarn store would have to physically count each and every item in the store once a year. I figured there was software to keep track of these things...and there is...but it seems to make the accountant happy to have those figures physically verified once a year.

So, I counted. And counted and counted and counted. I dragged the step stool and the cardboard box (the one I appointed as my "official inventory box" and quietly named her "Boxy") around the shop for four days, during which time I managed to count virtually every ball of open stock yarn in the whole store. Do you realize what this means? This means I personally touched EVERY BALL/SKEIN/HANK of yarn we have out on the shelves! Hundreds and hundreds of them! And they all felt so gooooood. I love my job.

The whole process was oddly relaxing to me, because I am a geek who loves to make lists and catalog things and count things. I must have a little OCD in me somewhere too, because I came to realize that I could not count without actually touching each ball as I counted it, and if I failed to do so, I had to go back and do it again -- the right way. I got to the 50% off bins. On most days I work, I try hard to avoid these bins as much as possible, because they are dangerous. They act like a big, black hole, sucking away all manner of reason that would otherwise keep me from being able to rationalize the temptation of purchasing 10 hanks of the most putrid color of Cascade 220 ever created. It's this drab dirt color, and so far I have still managed to resist buying it, though the more I think of it, the more I'm convinced that it is so ugly that it HAS to have the potential to be turned into something beautiful and that, my friends, would result in a personal challenge that would have me buy those hanks and set out to prove the ugliness wrong. Thus...the effect of the 50% off black hole.

Anyway, as I excavated those bins today, I found the most beautious yarns that I didn't know were there because I've been good and have been avoiding them as much as possible. But there was the most captivating color of blue Debbie Bliss Merino DK -- enough balls to make a sweater for me. To die for purple DB wool/cotton -- enough for something for my daughter. Various Sirdar Snuggly skeins in different shades of purples, which will be perfect for some baby gifts I will need this spring. Some brand (can't remember which) of this brownish, kid mohair fuzzy yarn that just said "buy me and figure out what to do with me later because I feel so nice to touch." And a couple other odd balls that just jumped into my arms.

So, I filled up Boxy (her inventory career now at an end) and brought home the goods. And considering how much yarn I touched this week, I think I was pretty well restrained.

Truth be told, though, I may have to withdraw from this stash knit-down before it even truly begins. Who am I kidding...buying no new yarn? Inventory might be behind me, but the winter sale is just weeks away! Ahhhhhh.... :}

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sorry, folks...

...but it seems that I've become the latest victim of comment spam. Thus, I've turned on the word verification security thing for commenting. I liked not having it up, but I don't like random advertising in the comments, so... :::sigh:::

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The other side of Christmas...

My last two Christmas knitting projects, finished up in the nick of time!

We successfully made it through Christmas -- I'd say we survived, but that sounds rather bleak! I mean, really, it is a good holiday, after all! The day was full of activity and people. Since the kids had agreed to hold off opening presents until everyone got here around lunchtime, I assumed I'd get to sleep in more than usual. Thus, I stayed up the night before, finishing knitting and wrapping the last gift and generally relaxing.

Got to bed around 1:30, only to be woken up around 7:45 by the phone ringing. It was our oldest son, calling from boot camp! Seriously, this was the best way to start off my day. I hadn't heard his voice since he left back on Oct. 22nd. He only had two minutes to talk, so we made it fast, and of course once we hung up, I thought of at least a dozen things I wanted to say to him or ask him, but still...just getting to hear his voice was awesome. He sounded really upbeat, which was good to hear since he's been healing with a broken foot for the past few weeks and not getting to train. And I was glad to hear he'd gotten my package I'd wasn't much, but it was better than not sending him anything.

My mom and step-dad and daughter-in-law and grandson were all here by noon, when we finally opened presents and had brunch. The afternoon was pretty laid back, then around 4:00, my in-laws arrived after an impromptu invitation to join us for a very casual dinner. We'd already done Christmas with them on Sunday, but it was cool to have them over for part of the day, especially my brother- and sister-in-law who we don't see in settings other than my husband's parents' house very often...not sure why...but it's always nice when they do come over to our house.

So, definitely a full house this Christmas. It was a good day. Everyone was gone by 6:30 (everyone was TIRED), and I was in my jammies and ready to veg and recharge my personal batteries shortly thereafter. I spent the evening knitting...another pair of mitts, but this one for ME out of some yummy blue/brown Malabrigo I picked up a while back. Mmmm. Soft! :) (No picture yet, but will share one soon...are you getting tired of fingerless mitts yet? LOL)

And today began my crazy week of work. I only work on Saturdays usually, but I told my boss I would be available to work some extra hours over the holiday week if she needed me to. She ended up giving me two full days! Not exactly what I had in mind, but it is fine...I love my job, and right now, we're in the middle of end-of-the-year inventory, so I spent the day today counting yarn. I have now personally touched every ball/skein/hank of yarn on two of the four walls of the shop. LOL Not sure if I've got an inner OCD person or what, but I LOVE to count and catalog things and put them all in a big list. I find it incredibly relaxing. I am such a weirdo.

Tomorrow I get to do it all again. Woohoo! =}

Monday, December 24, 2007


...or at least as ready as I'm going to be. At this point, I do not care what goes undone. The only "have-to" knitting left is the pair of fingerless mitts, which will easily get done today. The rest of today will be dedicated to food preparation for tomorrow, church this evening, and (hopefully) a quiet evening at home afterwards.

Merry Christmas. Peace.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Two more to go...

I'm two projects away from being at an acceptable level of "finished" with my Christmas knitting. All other projects that were on the list can wait for the new year without any terrible repercussions.

So, to finish...

One hat: All that's left are the decreases, which I ripped out once because I managed to do something wonky to them. (Why does this happen when you're in a hurry?) This will be finished and wrapped tonight before I go to bed. (Yes, it is after midnight already. Your point?) Will be given tomorrow when we go to my in-laws' for Christmas Part I.

One set of fingerless mitts: Will have these finished for Tuesday, which is technically Christmas Part II for our family. I'm halfway through the first one. The rest will go quickly once I sit my butt down and just KNIT.

I am so, so, so tempted to cast on something fun tonight...something that doesn't NEED to be done. Something just for me. I just have this need to knit something that does not need to be made. After I finish the hat, of course.

Ahhh...just had a "duh" moment of realization! I finally got my m-i-l's shawl all blocked and pretty...was going to take a picture of it before I wrapped it, but I forgot! I was so happy for it to be done that I just wanted to get it wrapped up! Duh! Will have to take a picture tomorrow after she opens it! :}

Friday, December 21, 2007

A reminder to me...

...about something I want to try and knit once I'm not longer knitting Christmas gifts.

I was at the mall (again) tonight (why yes, I am insane...thanks for asking) and was browsing through Hot Topic -- a store that alternately excites me and freaks me out a little -- and I saw these really cool scarves that looked like giant chains. Maybe you've seen these before, but I hadn't. Basically, each "link" is a strip of stockinette fabric grafted together and then they are put together just as you would paper chain links. The links appear flattish due to the natural curl of the stockinette on either edge...though these were curling back toward the purl side rather than forward toward the knit side, which I thought was odd and I'm not entirely sure how to make that happen, as my stockinette always curls toward the knit.

Anyway...they looked so incredibly cool and they can't be that hard to make. Will have to give them a try sometime, just for kicks.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas knitting countdown...

It's getting to crunch time here for gift knitting. While Christmas is technically still five days off, I feel like it is much closer. My mom gets in from Florida on Friday, I work on Saturday, and we're doing Christmas at my in-laws' house on Sunday. Thus, I feel like I only have two good days left to get a lot done. Granted, there are still the evenings. Hm.

Ok, so here's how things stand:

3 pairs of fingerless mitts for friends, already given -- check!

2 pair of children's mittens sent off to Texas -- check!

6 felted bowls filled with bags of white chocolate popcorn, given -- check!

1 white shawl, finished tonight, still needs to be blocked once my #@!$ blocking wires arrive, hopefully tomorrow, to be given on Sunday -- check!

1 pair of fingerless mitts for niece, to be given on Sunday -- check!

I totally love these mitts!

1 ear warmer for my husband, designed on the fly with a slit for the brim of his welder's cap to fit through. If nothing else, this will be good for a laugh on Christmas morning because I am most certain it is way too big. Will need modifying, but at least I tried to fulfill his request. So, check!

Really, it is the goofiest looking thing!

1 scarf for my hairdresser, to be given on Saturday at hair appointment (cheated's my Red Scarf Project scarf that I didn't get sent on least it is going to a good use, and my hairdresser looks really rockin' in red!) -- check!

Yet to finish would be:

1 hat for husband's grandfather...started, about 2" of ribbing. Should be able to finish this tomorrow for giving it to him on Sunday. It remains to be seen if he'll actually wear it. He's 95 and my husband doesn't recall ever seeing him in this type of hat before. But on my side is the fact that he likes me, so maybe... :}

1 pair of fingerless mitts in black Rowan Kid Classic for d-i-l...started the first one tonight, should be able to finish them tomorrow if I keep at it.

2 pairs of fingerless mitts for the kids (one pair each). Have one of my daughter's thinking I'll do one for my son and if worse comes to worst, then they'll each get one with an IOU for the second one soon to follow. At least it is something to unwrap, right?

1 pair of mittens for my grandson who, after trying on a pair of mittens I made too small for my niece declared he needed a pair as well and of course I told him I'd make him a pair. And he'll remember this. Oh yes. He may only be 2 1/2, but he WILL remember. (I'd give him the too-small-for-niece pair, but they're totally girly colors.)

It took three tries, but I finally got the sizing right for these mittens!
The middle one was the winner for the four-year-old niece.

1 dishcloth for my mom...this one is totally negligible, and if nothing else, she'll be here through New Year's, so she could still potentially get it before she goes home. In the mean time, she's got a very nice nightgown coming to her, which she actually requested. Was going to finish the green purse and give it to her as well, which might still happen. We'll see.

I'm feeling very optimistic about the knitting I have left to do and feel pretty certain that, barring any major catastrophes, I should be able to get it all done. It helps that I eliminated all socks and the complicated shawl from my agenda. They'll get made, but after Christmas and at my own leisurely pace. :)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

One of those days... which, at 8:29 p.m., my major sense of accomplishment for the day comes from having gotten my kids to and from their youth group activity tonight on time. That's it. Some days, that's enough, because some days, the rest of the day just kind of sucks.

On a more chipper note, if you aren't already watching Clash of the Choirs, go now and do so. There are two more nights of it after tonight. It's fantastic!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Apparently, I'm intoxicating...

...not to mention hot, complex and crazy. (Ha!) Or so says the "Which Spice are You?" quiz....

Your Score: Saffron

You scored 100% intoxication, 25% hotness, 75% complexity, and 25% craziness!

You are Saffron!

Those other spices have nothing on you! You're warm, smart, and you make people feel really good (and with no side-effects!). You can be difficult to get to know and require a lot of those who try, but you're so totally worth it. *Sigh*

Link: The Which Spice Are You Test written by jodiesattva on OkCupid, home of the The Dating Persona Test

I might add that, if I'm saffron, I'm also expensive! Holy cow! Have you priced a jar of saffron strands lately? Incredible. $13.95 for a one gram jar! I don't want to snort the stuff, for goodness sake...just want to add it to my creamed chicken....

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Went to work yesterday and found a big box of Noro Kureyon Sock yarn -- two bags each of eight fabulous colorways! -- just waiting to be marked and put out on display.

Like I could touch 160 skeins of any Noro and not buy some of it? And like I could buy this new sock goodness and not actually start knitting a sock despite my self-imposed "no personal knitting until all Christmas gift knitting is completed" mandate?

Yeah. Right.

I do not possess that level of self-control.

Ready to be finished...

Please ignore the cobwebs sticking to the basement wall behind my washer and dryer. Ick.


Seriously...these bowls were fun, quick knits, but the felting process? So not my thing. I love seeing how the knitted item transforms during the process, but the process itself? Too slow for my liking! LOL Each of these bowls took at least 15 - 20 minutes in the machine to felt and shrink down to the desired size. (This is about par for how long other felting projects have taken for me.) But since I hate to waste water, I was trying to have at least three bowls to do at a time. But because of the fiber migration that takes place during felting -- and especially with this furry Lopi! -- I was only doing one bowl at a time to minimize how many errant strands I'd have to pick off each bowl in the end. Thus, I spent over an hour on this today, doing these last three bowls. (And let's not even talk about the drying I wish I could just pop them in the dryer! :})

It's so interesting how each one, despite being made in the exact same way with the exception of the yarn colors, turned out slightly differently during felting. Some are taller than others, some have more of a turned in rim at the top -- the black and gold one above really has a nice shape because of the black yarn at the rim (black always felts much tighter for me than other colors). The purple bowl? It took forever to felt and never did get very's shape is more of a flat basket than an actual bowl. This is the one I knitted Stacy Charles Ritratto in with the Lopi as an experiment...which I assume made the difference in how it felted, as the purple felted just fine in the other bowls it was in.

So...felting...fini! Just have to wait for them to dry and I can fill them with their goodies and give them to their intended recipients! Hopefully this weekend.

*For any purists out there, yes, I realize that when you apply this process to an already knitted item, the proper term is actually "fulling," not "felting." Felting is what is done to unspun fibers. But most people today use "felting" interchangeably, so who am I to confuse anyone this close to Christmas? ;)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


I've been trying to teach myself how to spin with a drop spindle for several months now, and while I'd read about it and comprehended the basic idea of it, my results were less than stellar. Thus, my roving and spindles found themselves hibernating in a container under my bed.

On Sunday, I went to a drop spindle class with Cosy at Knit One. What a difference it makes to have someone to show you how to do something, someone to give you little bits of advice that make a huge difference in your finished product!

I'm so excited about my first tiny skeins. The one on the right is what I came home from the class with...the purple in it was my very over-spun yarn that had been on my spindle from my solo attempts, and the blue was what I spun there. Before I left for the day, I was able to ply the two together. How cool is that? The other two little skeins (which would have been one if I could get over this over-spinning issue and thus having my yarns break on me as I'm trying to ply) I did at home yesterday.

I'm spinning some Corriedale top that I bought a while back from Halcyon Yarn. I went by the description of it being good for beginners, but then I learned about staple length on Sunday, one of those little things that matters. The staple length of this fiber seems to be significantly shorter than the merino that others were using, thus affecting my ability to draft the fiber without breaking it. Still, I figure it is good for practicing with. I've got a lovely braid of merino roving that I bought in April at KnitWitz in Jacksonville...I'm anxious to try it out and see how it spins.

And thus begins a whole other obsession, I fear.

My ultimate spinning goal is to own a spinning wheel, but probably not until mid-2008. By then, I hope to get to at least one fiber festival and also to at least one vendor who has wheels on site that I can try out. Until then, I will dedicate myself to perfecting (ahem) spinning with my little drop spindle.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Snoopy vs. the Red Baron...

Why is it, of all the songs played at this time of year, this one always makes me cry?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Odd bits on a Sunday morning...

Last night was the hubby's work Christmas (er, holiday) party. The obligatory "good time was had by all." No, was nice. Huge. Over 400 people this year. I remember the first one we went to 14 years ago...40, 50 people maybe? The company has really grown. It's a good thing. Anyway, after a crazy-busy day at work yesterday, I got home a half hour late, got ready to go (thankful for the good hair day I was having!) and forced myself into small talk mode for the evening. We were home around 11:30, when I promptly changed into my jammies and curled up to knit and relax.

My latest pair of 'em! My favorites so far...

My first felted was a fun, quick knit...perhaps needs to be felted a bit more to make it sturdier, but I like it, which isn't always the case with my felting projects...

And if I turn it upside down and add a tassel, it would make a funky fez, no? LOL

(Please admire the no-make-up-morning-hair- glasses-still-in-my-jammies look I'm sporting here. I am such a fashionista, no? :})

The kids spent the night at their grandparents last night. Kevin got up to pick them up and take them to church this a.m. whilst I opted to be a heathen today and chill at home (and get a couple more hours' of sleep). I'm really coveting my alone time lately, likely because I haven't been getting much of it. At this time of year, I quickly become aware of how much I need it.

Thus, I'm off to make some coffee, tidy up the messy house and try to make heads or tails of what I need to accomplish in the next week. I used to do this regularly...plan the coming week on Sunday. It makes such a difference when I do it. I think maybe I'll try to get back in that habit in the coming year. Right now, Christmas is in just over two weeks, my mom will be in town in just under two weeks, and I need to prioritize.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Hey! Ya'll really like to help a girl out, don't you? LOL Thanks to my friend Lain for posting about my scrapbook supply giveaway...Lain's got an awesome scrapblog and, I must add, the girl is really going places in the scrapping industry. I'm so proud of her!

Anyway, all you Lain readers...PLEASE be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment! blogger does not, for some reason, link e-mail addresses to comments (not sure if it is how Blogger is set up or if it some weird setting issue on my part or what), but unless you have a Blogger blog that has your e-mail addy on it, or where I can leave a comment, I will have no way to contact you about the scrap stuff! So, please leave your e-mail addy for me. Or, if you'd prefer, just e-mail me directly at lmbwrites AT comcast DOT net instead.

Note 12/8, 1 a.m. : I've had way more responses to this than I originally anticipated! I'd love to send stuff out to everyone, but I need to bring the goodie madness to a close now. If you have already received a reply from me, then you're in, as long as you send me your mailing info. Thanks!

To-Do List...

...Send cards
Bake cookies
Hang outside lights
Decorate blog
Finish shopping
Wrap gifts
Finish gift knitting...

Monday, December 3, 2007

The first week of December brings...

...thoughts of getting organized for Christmas. Granted, the decorating is mostly done. (My Dickens-ish village houses aren't up yet, and the outdoor lights aren't up but the weather isn't cooperating for those anyway.) And I have my Christmas knitting schedule in place (and have already deviated mightily from it). Now to plan for the rest of it.

Cookies to bake. Cards to send out. Picture to send out with cards. Presents to wrap. Places to go. People to see. Etc.

My all-time favorite parody version of "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is "The Twelve Pains of Christmas" by Bob Rivers. It's hilarious, even moreso because I think everyone can relate to something in it, even if not to the degree represented in the song. And as the song goes on, the whole thing becomes more frenetic and much like the holidays can be. Art capturing life! LOL If you're so inclined, you can listen to the song's #10. And if you have a warped sense of humor like my family and I have, you might also enjoy song #2, "Chipmunks Roasting on an Open Fire." Mmm...tasty! ;) (Note that there are some song titles on this site probably deserve at least a PG-13 rating.)

That said, in recent years, I've been pretty good about slowing down the pace of Christmas a bit. There are some things I just choose not to bother with. One year I hardly baked and instead bought my cookies from my mom's Cookie Lady. Several years ago, I decided I would only decorate with the things I absolutely loved instead of every piece of Christmas stuff I'd collected over the years. One year I didn't send out cards -- at all! Last year, I gave up the notion of the "perfect" family Christmas picture and instead made use of Photoshop and put together a collage "picture" using shots of each of us individually throughout the year. (So much better and less stressful for us all!) Some years I put Christmas letters in my cards, sometimes I don't.

This year, for the first time in nearly a decade, I bought my Christmas cards instead of making them. I'm doing another collage picture, but no letter. If the outside lights don't get hung, I don't care. Cookies will get baked, but maybe not 12 different types. And knitting...knitting will get done...or not. It's all good.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


The boy becomes a teenager today.


How'd that happen?

Love you!