Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A Christmas Movie Update

Remember last month when I posted my favourite Christmas movies? Well, I have been amassing a nice collection of them on dvd and here is what I have so far and what I still need to complete what I consider the perfect assortment of Christmas nostalgia.

First, these are the ones I own that I have watched so far:
White Christmas
Miracle on 34th Street (in black/white, hooray!)
Charlie Brown Christmas
Muppet Christmas Carol (twice, so far)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (twice, also - and this is the original one)

I own, but haven't watched:

It's a Wonderful Life
The Hogfather

I already know this is going to be arriving from Santa (aka Darth Stevious):
Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas

So that leaves only The Christmas Toy, which is probably going to have to be ordered. Not bad, considering I started the season with only White Christmas, Muppet Christmas Carol, and The Hogfather.

And, for those of you with inquiring minds, Terry Pratchett (the awesome British fantasy writer) wrote The Hogfather and it is, as are all his books, fabulously entertaining, funny in a lovely warped way, and features my favourite character, DEATH (who speaks all in CAPS). If you haven't read anything by him, please run out and buy The Colour of Magic (it's the first in the series) and quickly read it. Then post your review here.

Today's knitting went much better than the previous debacle. I had no problem with the shortie fingerless gloves I'm making for Lynn. One is finished and I'm at the thumb on the second one. I anticipate finishing before I go to bed. Giuli helped me pick out yarn for a couple more projects which must remain hush-hush and I hope to start on them as soon as I finish the gloves. Especially since one is a Christmas gift.

I had fun today with Giuli as we tackled the yarn closet of DOOM over at my dad's house. My mom had a closet that I filled with boxes of yarn from various and sundry stash places around her house. There are, no kidding, hundreds of skeins of yarn - all acrylic - and I'll be making good use of it for charity projects now that I've found Pine Ridge Reservation to donate warm knitted things. Giuli and I actually organized the Red Heart Super Savers, dividing them up pretty much by colour and reboxing them, stacking them in front of the 3 foot high stack of those giant pound skeins of Red Heart. And then there are the boxes of miscellaneous brand yarns that comprise maybe another 6 or 7 boxes, at least. When everything is packed into the closet, which is probably 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide, the boxed and bagged yarn comes up about 5 feet high. Oh yes, and that doesn't include the two boxes of yarn that we took to my house today. When we had it all out on the floor, Giuli wonderered if Grandma has pulled a heist at the local Wally World.

Well, I'm off to knit again so I will leave you with Happy Hannukah wishes this week. I dropped off some Hannukah chocolates at my chiropractor's office today. My dad had bought a bunch of stocking stuffer candy for the kids and he handed us 4 little bags of the foil covered chocolates that look like coins. Upon close inspection, I found that, instead of coin markings stamped on the foil, there were dreidels and menorrahs. So I thought I'd pop over to Captain Chiro's office to share them with him. He was appreciative - tomorrow I have to run back over there and take something to Joanie for Christmas since I don't want to discriminate. :-) Also, I need to have him take care of my achey back, so I'll be killing two birds with one stone.

No pictures today but tomorrow I should have another pair of finished gloves to share.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Houseguests and the Hazards of Knitting

Disclaimer: Lest anyone get the wrong impression, the houseguests were not the cause of the hazardous knitting episode. I just wanted to show y'all the two little furballs who have been staying with me whilst their mama moves to her new apartment. On the left is Captain Jack (who would not cooperate and the first couple of pictures were just of his butt) and on the right, Commodore Norrington aka The Guinea Pigs of DOOM...at least that's what they are known as while they visit. I love to spoil them by giving them fun food like apples, parsley, cucumbers, and peppers. Some things go over well and others just get the cold shoulder. But there's always the old standby romaine lettuce and carrots should their palates not be tempted by the new menu. At least now Norrington will come and sniff my fingers, which is a major accomplishment on the guinea pig social scale. Jack is a little friendlier and I have even let him watch me read blogs and Plurk whilst sitting in my lap. It's fun to have them visit and, yes, for the cynical people out there, I would still have them over even if Heather didn't bring me the XBox 360 as a perk. So, there!

Onto the knitting front -

Another pair of fingerless gloves heading for Texas will fly out of here Monday evening. A second pair, same colour but a different design, is completed and spoken for. Some denim blue shorties are on the needles and I have to buy yarn for a men's pair which was ordered earlier this evening. Whew!

For some reason, this last pair proved to be a temporary thorn in my side. I messed up the pattern twice so I took out first about 3 inches and then 1 inch. Frustrated, I decided to start over. Okay, I also thought I'd change my knitting method from dpn's to using 2 circular needles. It's not a method I'm unfamiliar with, so I thought I'd see if it was faster than using 4 or 5 dpn's. (For the record, the dpn's I've been using are bamboo and I enjoy working with them. I don't want any dpn's out there to feel that I'm prejudiced against them.)

Okay, so I went through my two pencil pouches full of circulars, sizing everything, trying to find two size 7's for the project. One 16-inch Addi Turbo - great! Then there were a couple others that were various brands and lengths. I grabbed one that was much longer and hoped the length wouldn't annoy me too greatly.

For some reason, I had a bad feeling about this glove. (cue Star Wars music) Something wasn't quite right. Some little voice (my Inner Knitter, most likely) was trying to get my attention but I kept telling IK to shut up. Finally, with six rows to go (I kid you not), I decided to walk across the room and pick up the first glove (previously, I had been too lazy to get up. Laziness cost me dearly.) When I compared glove 1 to glove 2, I discovered that the one on the needles was smaller! WTF? I grabbed the needle gauge and discovered the culprit. One of my circs was a size 6. So, I had knitted the entire palm in stockinette stitch on a smaller needle. And it ended up making a difference which, in my "perfectionista" brain was egregious.

--An aside to the knitting audience: Some knitters, who shall remain nameless, might even consider it truly odious if I dared pass off this flawed garment as first-rate. Therefore, a monumental decision hung over my head or (to use another visual) the glove was like an albatross around my neck.

The way I saw it, I had two options. I could either knit two more gloves - a left one to match Thing One (dpn glove) and a right one to match Thing Two (circ size 6/7 glove). Or, I could frog the one on the needles and start over...again.

My decision? Well, I really didn't care for the size 6 needle because it was long and unwieldy and actually slowed down my knitting, so I didn't relish the thought of spending a couple more hours knitting with it. I opted to frog the nearly-finished glove.

Then, after the yarn had resumed its unknit form, I had a brainstorm. Actually, I call it a Scarlett O'Hara moment. "As God is my witness, I'll never use the wrong size circulars again!" And an idea burst forth (I wish it had emerged fully-formed from my head, but I actually had to mosey downstairs to the sewing nook to implement my devious plan). I would make a slap-dash, quickie circular needle holder that I could hang on the wall and store all my needles by size.

I remembered a refashioning that I had seen somewhere on the Net, using a pair of jeans to make a holder, so I grabbed an old pair that are now too big and have a hole in one knee. They were destined to become a skirt or who-knows-what, anyway. I borrowed about 30 minutes from my knitting self, loaned it to my sewing self, and ended up with this.

It's not visually exciting or aesthetic but we're going for function here, folks. Now I can easily find the right needles without spending about fifteen minutes sizing them all. And, whilst arranging all the needles in their proper slots, I discovered the reason why I ultimately ended up with two different sized needles for the glove fiasco. Lo and behold, I only have one number 7 circular needle. Duh!

(Since this unfortunate incident, Heather graciously picked up another size 7 for me - a 16-inch Balene. We'll see how I like working with this brand as I've only used straights and crochet hooks by them before. Thank you bunches to Heather!)

So, on Sunday evening after our regular Chili's dinner, I camped out in Borders' cafe and made a lovely left glove which is happy warming my hand as I write this (not as I enter it into the computer. I actually wrote this entire blog after I finished said glove and was waiting for Ded to get off work at 10pm)

(Note to Syler: Yes, Sis, I wear each pair for a while to see how they fit and assess if I want to make any future design adjustments. So you could say I "broke in" your gloves. I wore Seguin's too, if you recall. The way I look at it, if I'm not happy with the way they fit, you probably won't be either, so I have to take each pair for a test drive.)

So, that's about it on the knitting front. Elsewhere, I've been playing Sims2 because it runs so well now that there's nothing else installed on the compy. Giuli got the 24-hour flu early in the week, followed a couple of days later by Michael and Mary. Heather moved to a new apartment. And the Lost Boys had a cd release gig last night which I missed because I was having way too much fun knitting, frogging, sewing, and wishing Mary wasn't sick or I would have grabbed her and Giuli and enjoyed an evening of "Heroes and Scoundrels". One last picture here - the other pair of fingerless gloves...aka the ones that didn't drive me over the edge.


Saturday, 20 December 2008

I Won't Be Moving Soon But...

I thought this was an interesting little quiz.

You Belong in Paris

You enjoy all that life has to offer, and you can appreciate the fine tastes and sites of Paris.

You're the perfect person to wander the streets of Paris aimlessly, enjoying architecture and a crepe.

hmmm...architecture and crepes...somehow I never pictured that part. Now the wandering aimlessly bit - oh yeah.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

One Step Forward...

...and the inevitable two steps back. Today was strange, happy and sad, successful yet unsuccessful.

The sleep cycle continues to be wacky and crazy. Saturday night turned into Sunday morning and I finally went to bed around 9a.m. Sunday night was slightly better as I tumbled into bed around 5 and read for less than a half-hour before my eyes clamped shut. Monday saw me crashing around 10-something and waking up around 2a.m. so I could write this. As I've always said, normalcy is highly overrated. Why I chose the wombat as my mascot is more obvious all the time when we talk about nocturnal cycles.

One of my Plurk buddies, knitting's podcaster extraordinaire, Miss Violet, had some great news she shared with us which had me very, very happy for her. (Official announcement has not been made, so I'm keeping mum on the topic) but that was quickly followed by a phone call from a friend who had bad news. Somebody I knew through Irish dancing buddies suffered a terrible stroke and is on life support. I couldn't bring myself to call for further information, knowing that the gal I needed to talk to was at the hospital at that point in time. It's just too upsetting and I need time to process the information - I mean, this is someone who's probably around my age. Just can't go there right now.

Spent the rest of the afternoon pretty much in escape land (playing the Sims), watching Sarah Connor Chronicles, knitting on my "sister" Syler's fingerless gloves...only to then find that I have somehow managed to knit a very interesting hole in said gloves which necessitates my frogging about three inches when I was at the point where I had about 6 rows to go and I would have been done. But, the perfectionist in me always seems to win out (particularly in my knitting) so I will muster up the strength to frog it...later...after a few more hours sleep and some coffee. One bright note on the gloves, though. I made one pair over the weekend and have one glove finished for Syler. The patterning for hers is somewhat cabled, prompting me to rename them "My Twisted Sister" in her honour. ;-)

Also, on the home front, Heather brought me houseguests on Saturday so now Captain Jack and Commodore Norrington are hanging out with me in the knitting studio/guinea pig guest room. Although the boys are skittish, I think they are getting a bit used to me. I talk to them a lot to try to make them feel welcome and enjoy it when one of them rings his bell (cue Jack ringing bell - good boy). I look forward to a trip to the grocery store to buy them goodies from produce heaven.

BTW, if you haven't checked Ded's newest post, get a cup of coffee and settle in for a nice long magazine-worthy essay here.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

The Saga of the Clean Computer

So, thank goodness for a technically-savvy son who was available at midnight. Unfortunately, my badass virus completely circumnavigated every piece of protection on my compy and said son ended up wiping and reinstalling until 6am. I downloaded onto jump drives all of my photos and anything else I could determine I couldn't live without, which is one reason that the process that began around 12:30 this morning ended up taking so long.


I lost all my old Sims2 games but, the good news is that I'm sure I can go ahead and get the two new add-ons and they will run just fine.

I lost all my subscription feeds for the umpty-bazillion blogs that I read.

I did manage to save my Favorites and upload that just now.

Since I only read my mail online, I didn't lose any email.

I'm still trying to reinstall Adaware which I paid for through Jan. 09 but Avast, Crap Cleaner, and Defraggler are all installed just fine.

I'm sure every day that goes by will bring yet another *face-palm* experience (OMG I lost that!!!) but it could be worse. The computer runs and it only cost me, in $$ terms, a meal at Chili's on Sunday for the techy son. Definitely could have been worse.

Friday, 12 December 2008

A colourful diversion

Your rainbow is strongly shaded violet and blue.


What is says about you: You are a creative person. You appreciate friends who get along with one another. You are patient and will keep trying to understand something until you've mastered it. You share hobbies with friends and like trying to fit into their routines.

Find the colors of your rainbow at spacefem.com.

More Pics of the Sewing Nook

So, this is the project that started things rolling.
See how nicely the Bernina sets into the opening and see how dad even put carpeting on the drop-in holder so the sewing machine will not jiggle. Also, note how I have the power cords to both sewing machines accessible at all times - no hunting for the proper cord.

Now you can see how the Featherweight sets down into the space after adding the carpeted riser that fits on top of the original holder.

The thread holder is within reach, as is the cute little leather pocket with my nippers and the large rotary cutter.

On the pegboard, I can now store my cutting mats, my other *fabric* scissors (the kids now know that they don't touch the ones on the pegboard or they suffer the lash), all kinds of quilting rulers, etc.

This is still an ongoing project as I'm sure I'll move other things onto the pegboard and rearrange everything a few more times as I get comfy in my surroundings.

Just a couple more pictures to show you the happy sewing machines and the overall picture of the nearly finished nook.

Dad has already put a first coat of shellac on the addition that will go on the right-hand side so I'm thinking that next week we might actually be finished.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Sewing Nook Progress!

The Artist and His Work

Yes, we thought we were finished but this is turning into the "neverending story" (cue my kids to hum the theme) and we thought of a couple more things to add. However, the nook is at the point that I can actually work here now. Note the additions:

A peg board which dad painted and installed. Today we added some braided elastic strapping (which truly may be as old as I am) to hold the cutting mats in place, a cute little holder for the rulers that have no holes for hanging, and some more hooks for various and sundry items. One of my favourite things is the scissors holder - so handy!

Track lighting! I don't know how I could function without it.

The surge protector is now attached to the wall just above the baseboard. Now I can keep both sewing machines plugged in without playing musical plugs and getting on my knees to reach the outlet.

The thread holder is something dad made years ago for mom to put in her sewing room. We had to make a slight addition to it in order to fit around the phone outlet, which I never use...who has a land line nowadays, anyway?

Interestingly enough, this is what started the entire makeover. I moved out ye olde Singer Golden Touch and Sew and wanted my Bernina to fit into the opening of the desk. (On its own, the sewing machine sits too high for comfort.) So, dad created a piece that sets into the opening, bolting it into place (removing the bottom piece of the desk and the extraneous mechanism that held the foot pedal in place if you wanted to use your knee to work it - does anybody use that option anymore?) I'll have to take a couple of pictures of that because I forgot - sorry. So, the Bernina fits down into place and, if I want to use the Featherweight, I have another piece that goes on top of the first and raises said Featherweight to the correct height. The wooden add-on that fits snugly around the Bernina gives me a smooth surface for large projects like quilts. We attached several pieces of weatherstripping to the bottom so it won't move around at all. :-) I'll take pictures of the inside of the drop-down section and also the Featherweight accommodations tomorrow.

Since I didn't want to have to reach over the top of my sewing machine to get to my scissors, dad also brought me a cool leather pouch to hang up under the thread rack. For convenience, I put my little Fiskars nippers there and my larger Fiskars rotary cutter (not shown in the picture because I hadn't decided what was going to live there when I was playing photographer). The cord that is wrapped around the top of the thread rack is for the lights - the control switch hangs down conveniently alongside the desk now.

Still to come: Dad is going to make another wooden attachment for the righthand side of the desktop so there isn't an open space surrounding the sewing machine. Both of these additions are easily movable so I can reach under to change the bobbin or drop the feed dogs, if necessary. Also, I want something underneath the desk to store the unused footpedal. I figure if there is something hanging on either side of the open area underneath, I can pop in whichever footpedal I'm not using and there won't be so many cords and accoutrements under my feet.

All in all, I am so pleased with the additions. Some days I felt as though we had to take two steps backward every time we took one forward but the end project totally rocks. And, the way my dad builds things, if we ever have a tornado, the place to go is under the sewing machine desk!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Yes, I Have Been Knitting

Lest anyone think I had just fallen off the face of the earth, this is what I've been up to. The Giuli Slouch Hat is a design of my own which I think turned out pretty nicely. It's a tad smaller than the other two and I found a nice eyelet pattern in one of my Barbara Walker Treasuries to play with. I haven't blocked it yet, but I kind of like the effect that you get the way it is. Giuli called it a mushroom hat so I think it shall remain so.

The fingerless gloves were made for my pseudo-niece in Texas. She likes purples and I had this plum-coloured yarn which I think will pass for a reasonable fascimile of purple in a pinch. Once again, I rambled around through my many knitting books and found a fun pattern stitch to play with. She received her gloves today and, I'm happy to say, she loves them. :-) Now, I'm working on a pair for her mom.

I forgot to take pics of the black pair of gloves I made in a more manly style. Perhaps I can get a shot of them on their new owner and I'll post them. I did just a 2x2 ribbing on the top and the plain stockinette palm. The latest ones I made, which I need to put up in the Etsy shoppe as soon as I figure out how, are pictured here in a gray and creamy ragg colour. I think I found the pattern stitch in a sock pattern book.

Somehow I am thinking this is probably not the picture I'm going to put up on Etsy, although I'm sure Mary would disagree. If you look closely, you can see a smidge of the sewing nook in the background which Dad and I have been working on for the past couple of weeks.

I can't believe how close it is getting to Christmas. You would think that this is a movable holiday the way it always seems to sneak up on us. I have been getting a bit in the Christmas spirit by watching my seasonal DVDs. Ded bought me two the other day to help fill out my collection - yea! He got the original Grinch (which I watched last night) and Miracle on 34th Street (which comes on two DVDs - the second one has the black-and-white version, thank the gods). I'm pacing myself on the movies with two down and four to go. In Borders tonight, I saw the Charlie Brown Christmas DVD and nearly hyperventilated over it. I don't have it and I NEED it. Yes, yes, I do.

Okay, enough of that. Ded and I inherited a hi-def television last week so we played musical tv fun and games. We hauled my big ol' set up to Gainesville for Heather (which she now has to move in about a week when she relocates to her new digs) and Michael inherited her set. I'm still getting used to the screen - it is awesomely clear but just a tad smaller than mine. Playing San Andreas on it is a whole new experience, according to Ded, and I really enjoyed watching the Sarah Connor Chronicles on it last night. But the best was Prince Caspian. OMG It was truly wonderful! We kept commenting on how unbelievably clear the picture was. I'm sure this will eventually get old but for now, it just rocks.

On the school front, I ordered the entire set of the Key To... math series workbooks for Michael and Mary which arrived today. Better than words, I'll let the pictures describe the unspeakable joy of the kids when they saw all this mathematical fun awaiting them.

And then Mary unearthed the catalog that came with the math books...
So I leave you with this final look at all that Algebraic and Geometric fun that looms ahead of us.

Oh, yeah, I'm up to a Level 19 Barbarian in Knit Wars, too.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Who's Surprised?

What Be Your Nerd Type?
Your Result: Literature Nerd

Does sitting by a nice cozy fire, with a cup of hot tea/chocolate, and a book you can read for hours even when your eyes grow red and dry and you look sort of scary sitting there with your insomniac appearance? Then you fit this category perfectly! You love the power of the written word and its eloquence; and you may like to read/write poetry or novels. You contribute to the smart people of today's society, however you can probably be overly-critical of works.
It's okay. I understand.

Science/Math Nerd
Artistic Nerd
Gamer/Computer Nerd
Anime Nerd
Social Nerd
Drama Nerd
What Be Your Nerd Type?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Monday, 1 December 2008

Facebook...And You Thought It Was Just a Social Network

I will admit that I joined Facebook just for fun and because the Jacksonville office had started a group and I wanted to see what they actually looked like. I mean, answering the phone gave me the unique capability of knowing who was calling by identifying the appropriate voice but putting faces with them was impossible. So, having only met about a half dozen of the Jax people, I finally could see who those wacky creatives were.

Another perk was that I actually reconnected with a few of my high school friends (yes, from back in the dark ages when it was still safe to go to school downtown). And I even have a Facebook friend who I went to school with (get this) back in Los Angeles from 1st to 3rd grade.

So, yes, I thought the social aspect of Facebook was lots of fun and I became addicted fairly quickly. When I started my knitting/quilting business I thought that I could benefit from having made lots of friends there - I can post pictures of my finished projects quickly and easily so, voila, instant free advertising! It's all good (as Herbal from Dark Angel would say).

So, the other day, I found someone I had met years ago when Heather was high school age and she apprenticed at the Gateway Mask and Mime Theatre down in Little Five Points. Also, Caitlin did some Irish dancing for them at an Irish Christmas party...I vaguely remember Mummers and singing What Do You Do With a Drunken Sailor...weird selective memory. Anyway, who knows how anyone finds people on Facebook but I guess I just started clicking one thing which led to another and bam! there was a familiar face. I found John Jaramillo so I decided to send him an "Add Friend" request. Fortunately, he obliged and here's where the awesome Facebook perk kicks in.

For those of you who knew my mom, the fact that I inherited an entire closet of yarn from her (all acrylic) would not surprise you in the least. Right? And, for those of you who know me (and why would you be reading this if you didn't?) you know that I've been doing charity knitting since I think Caitlin was a baby. Most of my items are baby things and they usually go to Birthright as I've known Terry Weaver, the U.S. National Director, for many, many years. In fact, I have a pretty good-sized stash of things to take them this month. Mom always had a soft spot for the Native Americans and she would donate to every American Indian organization that managed to get her on their mailing list, I think. (BTW, I just visited Wikipedia and will admit that I didn't realize that Native American does not only apply to the American Indians, but also Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians, and several other groups.) Now, how does this tie in with Facebook and reconnecting with John, you ask? (of course you do; inquiring minds want to know)

Well...knowing John is a performer of Aztec dances and his background is Pueblo Indian Native American (and please go to his website to check him out - he does wander back to the Atlanta area occasionally) I asked him where I could donate knitted goods to benefit a reservation that needed help. John immediately suggested that the neediest reservations were in South Dakota and the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation would be worth looking into. The description from the website listing numerous charities said: "An online group of volunteers who support the Native American community of Pine Ridge by sewing, knitting, crocheting and donating desperately needed items." I found that they have a Yahoo group which I immediately joined.

Hopefully, you have figured out that Facebook has put me in touch with a charity that will benefit from both my mom's yarn and my knitting skills, and I can donate to them in her memory, thus proving that a silly little social networking site can serve a greater purpose in the grand scheme of things. It was pretty serendipitous that I found all this info so easily and I hope this will inspire some of my readers to remember those who have less than we do (even when the budget is squeezed until it just begs for mercy). I figure that my only cost involved in this project will be my time and postage and I can certainly spare a little of that to help keep somebody warm this winter.

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Christmas Movies

So today I was thinking about my favourite movies that I like to watch during the Christmas season and I thought I would just make a list. Feel free to comment on my choices and leave a list of your favourites, too.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
The Christmas Toy
How The Grinch Stole Christmas
It's a Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th Street
Muppet Christmas Carol
White Christmas

Another of my faves, which is not available on DVD, is John Denver and The Muppets:A Christmas Together from 1979.

Today, in Borders, the music from Charlie Brown Christmas was playing and I got all nostalgic and wanted to go home and watch every Christmas movie I have. Then I remembered that I still need to buy Charlie Brown, Christmas Toy, Grinch, and Miracle. I'm sure a couple of them are on video in Mom's old collection but I would have to play them on the smaller tv so maybe I'll find them on sale somewhere during the holiday season.

Perhaps I will wax nostalgic about holiday music for my next post and list my favourite cd's for the season. :-)

It is Midnight...Happy December!

Nearly forgot - I finished reading Midnight in the Garden (finally) so Heather can borrow it and now I am reading:

Diana Wynne Jones Volume I in The Chronicles of Chrestomanci
Truman Capote Portraits and Observations
Joe Lee Dante for Beginners
Monica Furlong Zen Effects, The Life of Alan Watts

Also, tonight I bought Valkyrie in anticipation that I will have time to read it before the movie comes out later this month. (Except that just this minute I noticed that, in the fine print on the cover, it says it is an abridgement of the book To The Bitter End so I guess I am going to have to order it and exchange this one. I really despise abridgements. sigh.)

And, just so I don't leave out any obligatory knitting content, I finished a lovely black pair of men's fingerless gloves for a customer (yea! money is good) and a plum pair for a special young lady in Texas. The picture of hers will be up tomorrow because I'm just too tired to take pics tonight.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

More Ramblings for Catch-up Posting

Today was Friday? How did that happen? Are you sure it wasn't Saturday? Boy, this is going to be one crazy weekend.

So, today Dad came over in order to work on my sewing nook and get it more "user friendly" - yep. That was the plan. Unfortunately, we kind of had one of those "one step forward and two steps back" kind of days. He is making this really cool addition to my sewing machine desk/cabinet so the Bernina will fit down into it (now that I've relegated the Singer Golden Touch&Sew to Dad's basement). Today's dry run proved that it needs to be a wee bit larger and about 3/4 inch less deep. So, that went back home with him for fine-tuning. When I post pictures, it will be more obvious what I'm talking about here; in the meantime, it's probably difficult to imagine - sorry.

The second project was to install track lighting above the sewing area. This was a two-person job with me standing on the desk and dad on a step-stool. There was much meticulous measuring, drilling, hammering, and screwdriver-ing and the toggle bolts were finally into the ceiling and the base for the track lighting was up and...installed upside down. Don't even ask how we managed it but we did. And, in order to take the track down, we had to take the toggle bolts completely out which means...yes...the toggles are now stranded up in the ceiling and we have to buy more to install it the correct way. The project will resume next week after Dad builds the desk insert and we run up to Lowe's for lots of hooks to use on my pegboard which he installed last week.

The nook is really going to be awesome when we finish. So many things will be handy - either hanging or in the desk drawers. And having the Bernina sit down into the cabinet will be much easier on my back. Oh, yeah, I forgot one thing that did turn out right today. Dad took the cord for my Singer Featherweight and was able to add about a foot onto it so there is more length from the machine to the foot pedal. Previously, the cord was just barely long enough to touch the floor and it was rather annoying. So this is a great improvement. See - we did accomplish something today!

Next post will have more pictures and I'll try to remember what in the heck I did for the past umpteen days.

Terminator Fun

Check this out!

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Happy Turkey Day, Everyone! (Part One of the Blog Catch-up)

I feel like "bad blogger, no cookie" - too many days have gone by without writing. I shall attempt to recap by moving backwards in time, beginning with last night...being Wednesday, 26 November, and Thanksgiving Eve. How about a couple of pictures from the family dinner at Olive Garden? I'll bet everyone will enjoy these.

The wise people at Olive Garden gave us a table that was set in an area that was sort of like a private room. Although it was open space, it still set us apart from the rest of the area (kind of like a little nook) and, well, that's probably the best for this crazy group. We had a great time, as always, with Steve's YouTube comments being the new inside joke.

Also, his new Iphone did its best to impress us by bringing along Raiders of the Lost Ark. We were distracted but not quite enough to watch the entire movie. The entertainment factor of our troupe can't be compared to even Indy on the Iphone.

Desserts are always a highlight (if we actually leave room for them) and last night was no exception. There was much sharing and eyes bigger than our stomachs, but who could resist such decadence?

Actually, sharing was optional and some of us (cough, cough, Steve) did not partake.
And then, there was Michael...

Friday, 21 November 2008

Ganked from a Tasmanian blog (among the many bazillion blogs I read)

From the blog, Loz and Dinny: Go to the closest book to you, not necessarily the book you have just read, or your favourite, but the closest. Turn to page 56 and copy out the 5th line, followed by the next 2 to 5 lines.

"At low volume, one can take enormous strides, a mile long and fifty feet high at the peak, or float gently through valleys and over the tops of trees without rush or noise. At high volume and dressed in a space suit, one can soar into outer space or travel easily at three hundred miles an hour at four thousand feet. Needless to say, every such outfit is equipped with a radar device that brings one to a hovering half the moment there is any danger of collision."

From the entry "The Future of Ecstasy" in Cloud-Hidden Whereabouts Unknown by Alan Watts. I just began reading it this afternoon and am about 1/3 of the way through. Amazingly, this book was assigned to us as sophomores in high school and I don't even think I made it past the introduction. I was so burned out on The Secular City by Harvey Cox that I think I just ran screaming into the night when the same teacher assigned another book for us to read for religion class. And, yes, dear reader, this is the only class I failed in high school. And, when one fails religion in a Catholic high school, one has to pay a visit to the principal. So I had to try to explain to Fr. Kelly why I had this big, fat "F" on my report card. I was honest - I told him I didn't have a clue what our teacher was talking about - he was talking to us as though we were college students and that was so far over my head that the air was probably thinner up there. So, a few (cough, cough) years later, and I can appreciate Watts and thank Ded for introducing me to him...even after my earlier traumatization. I would probably, however, run and hide in a dark closet if someone confronted me with a copy of The Secular City. (Note to kids - Don't even THINK about it)

Back to the passage from the book, though, it makes me wish I didn't have to get in the car to take Mary to Loganville this evening.

Currently reading: Alan Watts (noted above), Dante for Beginners, half-way finished with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Another finished hat - yea!

Well, I just finished the second of the slouch hats and am really loving the pattern but hating working on black yarn. My eyes are so tired and I think I need a miner's hat with the light in the front in order to see what I'm doing. I keep moving from one lamp in the house to another, looking for just the right amount of light. Suffice it to say, I begged Guili to choose a light colour for her hat and, bless her, she chose a mint green. :-)

Pictured above is Mary with the latest Gretel hat. I love the way the patterning decreases are just clicking in my brain now. I can anticipate what the pattern needs to do instead of just being a blind follower. Elizabeth Zimmermann would be proud of me.

Giuli started knitting something for the Squirrel the other day so I'm putting up pictures of her here, also. Today Mary was sewing, Giuli was picking out fabric for a stuffed animal she wants to make, I was knitting...wow! All that artistic talent in just one house. Can you tell we are very right-brained around here?

I'm Not Dead Yet

I promise to write a real post tomorrow but here's a quickie update.

Sleeping patterns have been miserable. Many days I can't get to sleep before about 5 (even after taking melatonin) and Wednesday morning I was still up around 5:30, finally fell asleep until 7-something, woke up with some weird sinus achiness, took some meds, still couldn't sleep, put the heating pad directly on my sinuses and sat up until after 9, went back to sleep (or so I thought) but tossed and turned instead because my RLS (restless leg syndrome) decided to kick in for about an hour, took yet another melatonin, finally got some sleep! and then got up around 1:30. And I was supposed to meet my dad and Squirrel at Kohls/Northlake to shop at 3. Not gonna happen. So I begged Squirrel to move it to 4pm and I was able to get there, after picking up Mary and Giuli. But...

Hadn't had any coffee yet, so by the time dad got to the mall, I was sorely in need of coffee. He and I went to the food court, I had just some regular coffee (but they only had French Vanilla cream and that's just not what I like for my first cup - I wanted the regular stuff, sigh), then we hiked all the way to the opposite end of the mall, hunting for the elusive cheese plane. Thank goodness I found a picture because I was beginning to think that there was some sort of epidemic and all cheese planes were wiped out. Anyway, no success there, I was yawning my head off again, got back to the girls and finally checked out at Kohls. Mary said she was starving, so dad gave us coupons and money and we went to Quizno's across the street. I got a Mountain Dew and finally woke up. Now this is roughly 7-ish and I had been semi-awake since 1-ish. So, it takes me like 6 hours to feel as though I'm not going to fall flat on my face asleep or walk into walls? Sheesh. The Mountain Dew rush lasted until about 8 o'clock when I got in bed with a good book (Midnight in the Garden) and promptly fell asleep after about 10 minutes. So, here it is, after midnight, and I'm awake again.

Squirrel likes her slouch hat (yea!) and has requested a kitty hat with ears next. She is going to be in Louisiana with the Lost Boys for the next 3 weekends for the Ren Faire there. And the Lost Boys' new cd should be out (please don't jinx this) for Christmas. Squee! Methinks all the kids are now taken care of in the Grampa/Christmas department. I scored a major coup while talking with Dad the other day and gleaned not one, but two, ideas for Christmas DVD's which I passed on to Heather last night.

Speaking of last night, what does it say about a couple who, when one of them is having a personal crisis, the partner decides to give said better half some space, partner number one drives to a bookstore at least 30 minutes away, then several hours later partner number two turns up at the very same bookstore whilst driving around aimlessly. Talk about two minds thinking as one! And yes, this shall remain vague except to the parties directly involved but just know that, once again, all is right with the world. But, talk about your Rod Serling moments! (cue Twilight Zone music)

OMG, speaking of Twilight, I just remembered that Mary was supposed to go to the midnight show, I was supposed to contact the mom of the girls she wanted to go with, and I hope it wasn't tonight because I totally slept through everything. Oops. Bad mommie, no cookie.

Okay, tomorrow I shall have knitting pictures and hopefully not such stream-of-consciousness-type content. And, note to Heather, I hope you enjoyed your leftover lunch today. Yummy. :-)

Monday, 17 November 2008

OMG Quantum of Solace was AWESOME!!

Okay, wow, we went to see the new James Bond movie tonight and it was fantastic. I am totally up for seeing it again...like tomorrow, maybe. The chase scenes were incredible, Judi Dench got more screen time (and I think she's probably one of the classiest actresses alive) and Daniel Craig...well...yeah. He is now my favourite Bond. I have to say he just seems to BE James Bond. (And it doesn't hurt that he has a cute butt...I'm just sayin') I won't post any spoilers here so I'll just give it a thumbs-up and say that I was exhausted after a couple of those chase scenes. Damn. Stunt coordinators outdid themselves. If you liked the chase scene at the beginning of Casino Royale, you will love this movie.

Let's see, on the knitting front, I'm at least halfway finished with the second slouch hat. I had to take out one row last night because I was off by one stitch and the cabling didn't quite line up. That's one row of 192 stitches. Yep, that's the perfectionist in me. Even though the hat is black and it might not have showed that much, I would have known the booboo was there.

While I was knitting yesterday, I listened to about 8 or 9 podcasts: 4 were LimeNViolet, the others were Diva Knitting, Irie Knits , It's a Purl, Man , Knit Picks Podcast, and Sticks and Strings. I know there were a couple more but my brain is a little fuzzy on which ones. I'll post when I remember. I have to say, LimeNViolet is still my favourite. I have listened to their 2008 episodes from summer through the current one posted yesterday and I've gone back to the beginning (summer of 2006) and listened all the way through January of 2007. I think I like them so much because they are my kind of people - crazy. And I say that in the most sincere and flattering way possible.

Sticks and Strings I could listen to just for the fantastic Australian accent David has. It's a Purl Man (Guido) went to Rhode Island to interview some folks and that was cool just because nobody usually goes to RI for much of anything that I know of. (waves to my RI relatives) Kelly at KnitPicks had some great ideas for gathering your pre-designing info which I just loved. I think I probably gleaned some tidbits from each of these and I'll let y'all know if there are others you might want to check out.

I am starting to get orders for the fingerless gloves, which is cool. Speaking of cool, I wore one of the scarflettes and a pair of the gloves today to go out to eat and then to the movie. Always advertising... ;-) Actually, that's how I got one of my orders so I'm glad the weather has finally turned chilly. I'll have to start getting out of the house more often so I can wear the samples.

I have a few pictures to post but haven't uploaded them yet so I'll do that tomorrow. Giuli has some knitting that I can show off, particularly since I spotlighted Mary's crocheting the other day. Michael has his YouTube stuff - I guess I'll link to it. Okay, that's enough nepotism.

On the reading front, I finished several more of Truman Capote's short stories and now I'm reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. I enjoyed his City of Falling Angels (which Heather read today and loved) and I really don't want to put this one down. Having been to Savannah many times, it's always enjoyable to be able to really picture where things are taking place. And leave it to John Berendt to find the quirkiest residents. He must put out some sort of pheremones that attract...um...unique individuals.

Lastly for tonight (I mean this morning) I found Blade Runner The Final Cut at a good price at Target and decided I had waited long enough and need to own this. Running time is 117 minutes so perhaps I won't watch it right now (2am). And probably after watching it, I'll want to watch all the extras, and then read the book. Rather like "If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to want a glass of milk" etc. Definitely not a project to start in the wee hours of the morning.

Oh, speaking of DVD's, Hell Boy 2 has a lot of great special add-ons and behind the scenes footage. I haven't watched them yet but Ded has and says they are awesome.

So, we leave off where we began - awesome movies. Go watch some...now!

Saturday, 15 November 2008

It's Not Really 5AM, Is It?

I thought I would start on my weekend wrap-up now (it's 5:18am on Saturday) even though I'm sort of feeling sick to my stomach but I surely don't want to get into bed). I've been reading lots of knitting and quilting blogs and I want to start off with one comment - please don't put music on your blogs. I know, I used to have music back when we had a website for our guinea pig rescue and I thought it was oh-so-cute but, here's the rub, if you're listening to anything else (i.e., a podcast, or perhaps your media player) it really can make one crazy. I love to look at the other people's blogs while I'm listening to podcasts but, if there is music, I totally skip it. Just sayin'.

Okie doke, let's see - this week. I will start with Friday and work my way back (if need be). Today, my dad came over and helped get the sewing nook in shape. I used to go to a friend's house to sew and quilt. She had a full basement and we had this awesome studio set up. Well, she called me this week and said that she needed to store some furniture for her mother-in-law in her basement and we were going to have to move some of my stuff out. Actually, we moved all of my stuff out. So, Dad and I are creating a nice little area in a corner of my kitchen for me to sew. (Of course, I just got "spare oom" fixed up just right to be a knitting studio, right? So, now, I have to regroup and figure out where I'm going to sew.)

So, for starters, I had already moved my sewing cabinet downstairs to the kitchen (thank you, son Michael, for help with that) but I really didn't have many of the sewing/quilting accoutrements nearby. Today, Dad installed my thread holder and we made plans for some awesome additions, including cool lighting, which I think we will do next week. He is going to put up a pegboard for my rulers and such and take the track lighting out of my mom's bedroom to reinstall here. (Thank you, Mom. I hope you're looking down on this and approving. Especially since I'm using mass quantities of your quilting fabric.)

I am really looking forward to having a cozy little sewing area. Granted, a lot of the fabric is going to be upstairs and the actual sewing center downstairs, but that's the way it goes. I shall cope. BTW, let me say right here and now that my Dad is totally awesome - I swear, he can make anything. He's 86 and looks like he's in his 60's and probably has more energy than I do. If you don't believe me, just ask the grandkids. The man is amazing.

Knitting is going along well. I started on Caitlin/Squirrel's slouch hat and am about halfway done. It started off much better than Mary's now that I know what I'm doing on the tubular cast-on. But, I'm at the point where there is a lot of cabling so it goes rather slowly. Why, oh why, do my daughters insist on hats in black, I ask you? I am knitting precariously perched under a light at my desk and really can't sit anywhere else because I just flat-out can't see the stitches. Hey, kids, if there are booboos in this, it's y'alls fault because I could totally see what I'm doing if you would just request a lighter colour. sigh.

I think I've got a couple of orders for the fingerless gloves - squee! I am having such fun designing them.

I finished reading Breakfast at Tiffany's in the wee hours of Friday morning. I am, of course, one of those people who is only familiar with the movie and was surprised to see how different the short story is. I was reading one of those Amazon reviews recently where somebody liked the character of Holly Golightly better in the movie. After reading the story, I have to say that, although the movie is different, I love the way Truman Capote fleshed out the character of Holly. He had a wonderful style and you just have to appreciate the way he wrote it on its own merits. I am enjoying his short stories very much - I never read anything of his before but his writing is really quite an art. Much as Flannery O'Connor's is. You can just see them working and reworking every single sentence to make sure it turned out perfectly. I have to wonder what he thought of the movie version - it is quite toned down from the original characters. It's unfortunate that we have taken for granted that the movie version is the "canon" version and that, when reading the author's version, we might say "ooh, I don't like the way he portrayed her as well." For pete's sake, he did it first, people! Remember that his story was adapted to something more suitable for the movie-going audience of that era. Holly was definitely more of a free spirit in the story. Check it out.

(As a silly digression here, I must admit that I started reading Capote for two reasons - first, I really do love Breakfast at Tiffany's and I wanted to see what the original story was like but second, I know that the character of Zero the Hutt (or however you spell it) was based on him and it was sort of kicking around in my brain. Actually, I have this urge to get a copy of Murder by Death and watch it again. Geez, I loved that movie.

So, I think that's enough for right now - still not feeling one hundred percent but really getting too tired to blog coherently. I shall return to finish at a later point this weekend when I can tell you about - Squee! I got my business cards!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Just to update you on my projects for the week, here are pictures - look, I'm actually finishing things these days. What a difference from years past.

First up, a slouch hat for Mary. As Mary is sick, it is being modeled by Giuli. This is the Gretel pattern by Ysolda Teague. I made it from a wool blend and absolutely love this pattern. I had issues with the cast-on because it was something new and different and, yes, I frogged it several times before it finally sank in. The cable pattern was actually not as hard as I thought it would be, but it does take concentration so this is not a mindless pattern by a long shot. I'm pleased with the result and will be casting on today for another one, this time for Caitlin. Although it is a Christmas present, I am going to give it to her next week so she can wear it when she and The Lost Boys go to Louisiana for the Louisiana Renaissance Festival in Hammond, LA.

Next on the FO list, more shorty fingerless gloves (also being modeled by the lovely Giuli). My own pattern, incorporating a Barbara Walker Shetland Eyelet stitch from my new set of BW Tresuries (cue angel choir here ) and made from a wool blend. And may I add how much fun I am having designing these? Whee! (Also, I was neglectful when first posting about this wonderful book collection, aka the Holy Grail of Knitting, as I should have given a much-deserved plug to Schoolhouse Press. I have bought several things from them over the past few years and they are wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.)

Lest you think that all I do is knit, I finally finished reading Trojan Gold by Elizabeth Peters, started Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote, and am reading aloud Inkheart by Cornelia Funke to Giuli. In the past two weeks, I think I have listened to about two dozen LimeNViolet podcasts, also. I live to multitask. :-)

Where did Giuli go? (And, yes, that is a Jayne hat that Mr. Teddy Bear is wearing in the background.)

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Veteran's Day/Remembrance Day

My family has grown up listening to my dad's tales of navy life during WWII and, I'm sure, thinking that everyone must have had similar wild and wacky experiences. I absolutely love to listen to Dad relive the days when he was a baker on a mine sweeper but today I would like to just take a few minutes to reflect on the much more serious nature of why we owe such a debt of gratitude to those who fought in wars past.

Today was originally dedicated (1938) to the cause of world peace and known as Armistice Day in honour of the veterans of WWI and celebrated on the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the war. However, in 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law a bill proclaiming a national holiday for Veteran's Day and now we pay tribute to all of our veterans.

In Canada, today is known as Remembrance Day -
Background info courtesy of Wikipedia)

Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae wrote the following on May 3, 1915, after he witnessed the death of his friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, the day before. The poem was first published on December 8, that year in Punch magazine. The poppies referred to in the poem grew in profusion in Flanders where war casualties had been buried and thus became a symbol of Remembrance Day.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

— Lt.-Col. John McCrae

Monday, 10 November 2008

Wombat Squeals of Glee!

Too bad we don't have audio or you could hear the estatic wombat squeals of glee due to the UPS guy delivering only the best set of knitting books known to man/wombat. Yes, indeed, it is the holy grail of knitting - every pattern in the known world (or close to it) right here in the four-volume Barbara Walker Treasury. This is designer nirvana...wombat paroxyms of bliss...I simply must swatch every one of these patterns...now...I'll be in my bunk.

Almost forgot, yesterday I finally sauntered to the mail box after several days of avoidance and found a lovely, thick and squishy envelope that came from Australia! :-) Yarn samples...and in purple, no less, from Thicket. Of course, I want many skeins of each because they are just yummy!

Mmmm...imagine scrumptious purple yarn and new pattern books. Life doesn't get much better.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Weekend Wrap-Up Parte Due

And now for the scattered and smothered part of my blog. Things that happened this week that either made me crazy or gave me great delight. I trust you will be able to figure out which is which.

In the "where have all the proofreaders gone?" category:
Seen at Target on Thursday night - a beverage dispenser which I'm guessing was being marketed to redneck moonshiners because, right there on the box in front of the few literate people left in the world, a picture of said object with the word "lightening" emblazoned on it. Mary took a picture with her cell phone because we were in such "shock and awe"...hopefully, I can upload said photo here at a later date. People, people, people - you "lighten" your hair but when there's a storm you could get zapped by "lightning" whilst drinking "white lightning"...sigh.

Even worse, in the same category, I present for your consideration, this full-page ad (sorry it's not clearer) in a quilt magazine that I discovered at Borders later that same night. I guess "lightning" struck twice. This makes my head hurt...but let's just talk about it "tom-morrow", okay?

Switching gears, after I saw the "tom-morrow" atrocity, I needed something to make me smile. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a British magazine with French and Saunders on the cover. Oh glee! It was about 15 minutes until closing (I know this because Ded had just made the announcement) so I had to hurry through the article, shushing all who tried to talk to me at that inopportune moment. Okay, maybe I'm one of the last people to discover this but, much to my delight (and I'm sure hers, too) it turns out that Dawn French is married to Lenny Henry.

Lenny Henry is the comedian who played "Chef" in the Britcom of the same name. If you're never seen the series, run (don't walk) to your nearest DVD supplier and scarf up the boxed set. Picture Gordon Ramsay with a fairly inept kitchen staff and tone down the language a bit and you end up with Lenny Henry's role. The thought of him married to Dawn French makes me giggle.

Next...this week I disovered plurk. After listening to Miss Violet go on and on about it, I had to check out what in the world this plurk thing was. I guess it's sort of like having your facebook status meet instant messaging..but on steroids. It is seriously addicting so, if you don't want to be forever chained to your computer, don't (for the love of all things sacred), I repeat, don't go there. (Yes, dear reader, if you are observant, you will see that I have plurky-type-stuff in my right column. I have gone over to the plurk-side.)

Last, but not least, Mary has caught the Amigurumi bug. Although she was in bed (okay, sofabed) all day yesterday, alternating between severe pain and that feeling-no-pain light-headedness, she managed to crochet a carrot, hamburger with onion, and a mouse AND watch the entire first season of House.

I was not as productive but I did finish two bangle bracelets for Mary (see her mouse check them out here). And, for a final quickie, after much frustration, I discovered a handy way to keep my yarn in check whilst working on Mary's slouch hat. (note the many watchful eyes of the adipose...they let me know if I've dropped a stitch)

That's all for now. Wave goodbye to the cute little adipose.