Monday, December 29, 2008

Well Received

We do Christmas and Jim's birthday presents together on December 26th. This year instead of having Inge and the grands here, we were invited to her house. This meant, on reflection, that I only made one eating item for this holiday. I am not complaining.

Inge made us waffles, bacon, pressed coffee (num) and a green jello cake that Jim's mom always made for him for his birthdays. I supplied  White Rabbit Salad from the original Moosewood Cookbook.

After we were full, the packages were distributed by Amelia and Tucker. We go around from youngest to oldest opening each one, giving it its due, ooohing on the item until they are all opened.
I am just going to document the presents from my holiday knitting/sewing list.

Amelia is the youngest.
I waited until she had most of hers before snapping this one. The Calorimetry hat and Bolero sweater went on immediately and did not come off again until bed time. (She is cutting off some plastic from her new English rider doll.)  Near the bottom of this photo is a smidge of Inge's new humbug bag, already stuffed with knitting. 

 Amelia is in love with horses. Takes riding lessons and will now have more sweet horsey dreams.
Tucker's eyes went wide as he opened his mittens package. They also went on and stayed on for several hours, despite the fact that we were inside the whole time.

Next was Inge's hat. The yarn was hand spun from my Roses for You colorway in alpaca/merino/silk.

Jim's mittens, although not officially on THE LIST were completed after brunch. He says he is sure they are warm but declined to wear them indoors.

And on the kitty front, from Rhode Island:
I will tell the truth. Max has not yet deigned to lie down in either bed he was given. This is a photoshopped pic of him superimposed into one just so we could imagine the scene.  

My goodies will be posted tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

10:04am, 12/24

is when I completed the last present for 2008.

Last year I was still knitting Tucker’s Sweater on Christmas Day. When I evaluated the hand made gifts season I was not pleased with the rush for production, the tight feelings, nor the amount of Netflix DVD’s watched into the wee hours. I reminded myself to do fewer items and in a different order for 2008.

This year I started with the largest present, Amelia’s Bolero, and then proceeded to make items in the order in which they needed to be either sent out or gifted. I also replaced the DVD’s with Audible books. Cathy gifted me with a silver Nano a few months ago. I am not a big music listener but do like books on CD, so Audible was the perfect thing to have to be able to download into my iPod. I even got it a set of speakers.

That’s a whole story unto itself as most of the speakers I encountered as we walked from Best Buy to Target at the other end of the mall and back again, were over $100 and 20 times larger than the Nano. I could not reconcile myself to enormous for such a little thing, nor did I want another radio. However after extensive listening we found the smaller speakers to be tinny. Finally, at Radio Shack, mid mall, a nice set of Memorex speakers were on sale (sans radio) so came home with me. Now I can sit at the dining room table and comfortably knit and listen. If Jim is watching football then I just use the earbuds. Knitting while listening to good books goes way fast and is so pleasant. Being a multitasker must have something to do with it too.

Completed this year:
• 4 Humbug bags—sewn rather than knit.  They are perfect project bags.
These are the last two with the first two already gifted as Chanukah presents.

• 1 pair of socks for Jim, although I am not sure if they still count as they were intended for Christmas but then I gave them to him for a wedding present.
• 1 watch cap
* 4 pillow cases- sewn
• 4 Calorimetries
• 1 Bolero sweater
• 2 thrummed mittens-- the very last to get done.

• 2 cat beds
• 1 Showl
• 1 bunny named Orchid as a gift to me

Others certainly have done more. I have in years past, but reason actually prevailed this year leaving me feeling rather light and well. Now there is time to spin again. I feel so light I already started knitting a pair of utilitarian mittens for Jim out of some of his early handspun. These are certainly not on the present list so can be done at leisure and for process.

Wishing you all completed projects and a great holiday.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Snow Day

To paraphrase the Yarn Harlot who was quoting a weather forecaster. 'We are expecting Snowmageddon.'   We were told we would get approximately 14 inches in about 14 hours. Yeow! That’s a lot of white stuff for one day. On top of that it was a broad band of northern weather extending from the Midwest all the way to the Atlantic. Whew! No way was it going to miss us. The time of the start was predicted for 10 am but actually began here about 9:20 and got serious fast. By 10 there was almost an inch on the ground. I normally take the weather headlines as so much hype but this one seemed to be on target.

A few last minute orders were packaged up and taken out to the mail box in hopes that intrepid Adam would be stopping by to pick them up, (he did about 1:30pm) then I packed up my portable office and brought it inside for the duration. By 11:30 we had 2 inches with plenty more coming down thick and fast.  And when Jim got home around 1 he said the visibility and main roads were not nice.

Snow Days are gifts. School Snow Days, when I taught, meant the world stopped. Well the school world anyway and, as a teacher, one could do whatever one wanted for the day without needing to make up for it tomorrow. I decided this was going to be one of those days even though Ithaca did not close.  However since I no longer teach there, I metaphorically did. Holiday Knitting, which is on schedule even with some mishaps, was suspended for the day in favor of the Knitted Rabbit, p8 from Simple Organic Knits by Emiko Kamata.

We can credit Fleegle for this minor diversion. Ever since she debuted her Ninjin Killer Rabbit on her blog I have wanted to knit this little personality. I even started spinning a special hand dyed orchid angora/merino Pixie Batt in this one’s honor.
clockwise from left: Fuzzarelly, abalone merino, hand dyed angora batt, SmokeyBlue

Yup, the whole pattern is in Japanese.  And no, I have not become a linguist overnight, but I have been using a Japanese stitch book for some time now along with a Japanese picture knitting stitch book, and Fleegle’s help (Arigatou). The Japanese use Arabic numbers and metrics so measurements are relatively easy to decipher plus their diagrams are incredibly well done.

The body, knit with two of the singles (abalone merino and hand dyed angora/merino batt) went along quite fast although Jim said it looked like a bowling pin. Then the thumper feet were crafted with 3 singles (the Fuzzarelly and the two from the body) and the pom pom tail with all 4 singles. That was a bunch of fun with a new fangled plastic pompom maker that does make the whole business very easy to manage once I read the instructions.  The bunny is stuffed with very neppy angora acquired somewhere along the way. Stuffing is the best use of it I can come up with.

Somehow the day got away from me leaving one front paw (done in the same two singles as the body) and the ears before other things like eating and laundry took precedence. Not wanting to stress myself over this cutie pie I left the rest for this morning. The storm seemed to have abated by the time I went to bed which was considerably before midnight.

Today dawned winter grey with flakes still/again falling and temps in the low teens. The total count seemed to be more like 10-11 inches than the predicted 14. Before shoveling, the second fore foot was knit, stuffed and both were attached to the body. 

After a shoveling workout (Who needs a gym in the winter around here?) and some warm tea, the ears were knit up from SmokeyBlue, Fuzzarelly and the angora/merino/batt singles. Those fuzzy appendages were shaped but not stuffed and then sewn on.

Orchid was born Saturday, December 20, 2008.
Here she is enjoying 13-degree temps while holding a Phalenopsis orchid blossom.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Otherwise Occupied

This is a busy week, what with getting packages out to you all and getting presents wrapped and out to California, Connecticut and Rhode Island.  

Basel always comes into the shop and sleeps on the mats.  Sparkles only comes in once in a while as he'd much rather be out chasing whatever moves in our snowy frozen landscape.  Today he jumped up on the door and mewed to be let in.

 When I had a quiet minute I looked for him and saw:

that this

had turned into this.

Then my sister sent me this.

They are such joyful creatures.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Plowing Story Winners.

Our two best answers to the plowing story query are below. Thank you to all who answered. 
The Manchu story is wonderful.

Second Place

from Mary,
The reference is most likely to a quote from Luke in the new testament. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
—Luke 9:62

In order to plow a straight row you must be looking forward to where you want to be and not backward to where you have already been.

from Carla (please write to me and let me know your pattern choice.)

The Journey of the Two Worms (Manchu) (Please click on the title to get the provenance)
Many, many years ago, two worms--an older but dumb worm and his younger but clever brother--lived together in the moist soil by Jingbo Lake. Whatever hard work was to be done, you could count on the older brother to do it cheerfully without complaint. As for the younger brother, well, he did all the thinking for the pair.

Now one fine morning, the younger worm, having done some deep thinking, slithered up to his older brother and said, "Say, I have heard that not far from here lives a very old worm, and this old worm can teach worms like us how to become dragons. Let's go seek this old wise worm and ask him to become our teacher. Who knows? Perhaps we'll even become dragons!"

"Splendid idea! Let's go," responded the older worm, and off they went.

After many days of slithering through mud and crawling over rocks, they finally arrived at the spot this wise old worm called his home. The younger worm, used to doing all the talking, respectfully approached the wise worm and asked him to teach him and his brother how to become dragons.

"So, you two wish to become dragons," said the old wise worm. "Very well. I agree to accept you as my students but only on one condition: You must follow every one of my instructions."

"Absolutely, Master," said the younger worm. "We shall follow your words without question."

And so the two brother worms stayed by the side of their teacher and did what he said, working all day long every day, doing what worms do--turning the soil over and over. Needless to say, it was grimy, gritty and thankless work, but still they worked away harder than they had ever done before.

After one particularly grueling afternoon of turning the soil, the younger worm crawled next to his brother and, making sure their master was out of earshot, said to him, "I have just about had it with all this backbreaking work. Why, we're no closer to becoming dragons now than we were when we started. I am beginning to think that this teacher of ours is nothing but a humbug."

"Hush!" cried the older worm, shocked at his younger brother's attitude. "How dare you speak that way about our teacher."

"All right, all right. Just hear me out. Let's just ask him how long it's going to be for us to become dragons. There's no harm in that, is there?"

"I guess not," the older brother answered, and they went to ask their teacher the big question.

Once again the younger brother did all the talking. "Master," he said, "we've been working hard without complaint for six long months, and we have yet to turn into dragons. With all respect, may I ask you how much longer it will take?"

"I've been expecting this question for some time now," replied the wise old worm. "I know you both have been working very hard, and so today I shall tell you how you may finally become dragons. Starting tomorrow you are to go to the nearby farm field. There, you are to plow the field for exactly one hundred days. After one hundred days, you are to make your way to Jingbo Lake. Once you arrive there, you will have become dragons."

The two worms were joyful at the news, and early the next morning they headed for the farm field where they were to plow for one hundred days. Turning the soil was one thing, but actual plowing, quite another. However, plow they did for ninety-eight days.

On the morning of the ninety-ninth day, the younger worm came to a decision. Working like this is crazy, he said to himself. If my brother wants to work for a full one hundred days, he can go ahead. I shall head for Jingbo Lake today and plow as I go. One day can't possibly make a big difference! So while his older brother was faithfully plowing away, the younger brother sneaked off without a word and headed toward the lake, plowing as he went.

He began to feel a bit strange as he slithered and plowed and slithered and plowed his way to the lake. He felt his head grow larger and larger as he made his way. "It's happening!" he shouted with glee. "I'm beginning to look like a dragon!"He was very close to the shores of Jingbo Lake when thunder and lightning sent him scurrying back into the earth. When he reemerged at the shore, he discovered he was stuck and unable to move. He now had the head of a dragon but still the body of a little worm. All he could do was lie with his face in the cold water of the lake, lapping up all the water he could drink whenever he was thirsty. There he remained, perhaps even to this day.

And what of the older brother? He plowed a full one hundred days, and then and only then did he crawl to the lake. When he reached the shore, he discovered that he had indeed turned into a real dragon, a lovely and lucky white dragon that to this day resides at the bottom of Jingbo Lake.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Living in Egypt

I have mentioned in a previous post that I am not fond of metal needles, and especially Addi Turbos. OK, I am in the minority. However there are so many non metal needles out there that this minority must be somewhere close to at least 30-40%. After all Knit Picks’ Harmony needles sell very well and Brypuns do too, and they are pointier. Also Clover keeps itself in a nice profit with bamboo needles of all kinds.

It was time to start the next Holiday present. What exactly it is will not be mentioned here as the recipient reads this blog. She is not a knitter so hopefully will not understand the hints I am giving. This particular project is from Cat Bordhi’s second moebius book. The item is perfect for the many balls of natural colored hand spun South American Alpaca/Llama in my stash. Actually this present will probably use up most of that stash and not require me to buy more. A unique feat. I have done several other projects out of this book but none quite so large. It requires a 60” circular #13 (9mm). The only 13’s in my needle depository are dpns or Denise’s. Neither works well with a 200 count Moebius Cast On. I called up to Hickory’s but she only had that length in Addi Turbos. You know I had to wanted to start the project that very day. There is no time to order Bryspuns in the correct size as the Holiday is fast approaching. I read the pattern again deciding that the Addi's would only be used for a short time while the Mobius section was knit. Metal needles won't be a biggie for just a few inches.

I forgot that a Moebius Cast On of 200 really means 400 stitches. The Moebius section ends with an I-cord bind off. A fleeting memory of the unfinished lavender fuzzarelly EZ vest zipped through my brain but, I reasoned, this project was vastly shorter.

The cast on and first round on a real Moebius are definitely interesting. Once you get the rhythm going the cast on moves quickly, if you are not interrupted. The first round needs to be carefully knit, one stitch ktbl, one stitch knit regularly. The 60” cable is doubled inside the cast on stitches and as the rounds are knit the cable moves further and further apart. It‘s kind of like knitting from the middle out. This is fun magic.

Metal needles do not bend in the least, do not warm like Bryspuns, do not hold the yarn like wood. 14 rounds of 400 stitches are a lot of metal needle usage. But, they were quickly enough completed and the attached I-cord begun. Attached I-cord is this: * k2, sl1, k1, psso, sl3 to left needle* repeat, repeat, repeat endlessly. Really, for every ONE new stitch knit you are still knitting 3 old ones. That means I am knitting 1600 stitches in the I-cord bind off. That means that no matter how many iterations have been done there are many many more to go.

I whined to Jim about my lack of progress and he responded with, “Cleopatra, why did you take on another I-cord project when you know they take so long?” I tried to explain that if every knitter knew how many hours a sweater might take, she might never even start the thing. He chuckled his indulgent laugh. Yes, I live in the land of De Nile where knitting (stash, fiber) is concerned.  

He then mentioned the story of some guy (some myth person perhaps?) who only finished his task of plowing a field by looking forward and at what he had done, not at what was left to be done.  An excellent suggestion.  (I then spent the better part of 2 hours online looking for this story instead of I-cording, but cannot seem to find it.  Not Medea and Jason, not in the Illiad, can't find it in Aesop's Fables either. Maybe I missed something?)

Anyone who can successfully show me this story will win a free pattern.

Friday, November 28, 2008

How Do I Love Thee?

Maybe its because I am coming off the Bolero. Maybe it is just the season, but I am finding the Mini Bulky Showl  (shawl and stole combined) extremely satisfying and delightful to knit and wear.
(and yes, a pin would look better than a 5" dpn)
I started it on Wednesday evening at Knit kNight in Denim corrie singles and completed it Thursday evening.  How fast is that?  ONE skein, a single #11 (8mm) circ, two evenings and now I can put a check mark by my mother's name on the gift list.  This is getting scary.  It's not even December and already there are two check marks.

My name is on this pattern as a co-designer but really, Cathy did the hard parts.  Me, I merely had the idea and helped put Cathy's notes into usable paper format.  Cathy really did all the figuring, draft knitting and thinking.

Look at this collar.  It is ingenious.  The way Cathy has this happening allows the Showl to relax on any shoulder and follow the lines of the person wearing it.

Now who else can I knit this for?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Famous Last Words

In my previous blog the last words were: “Hey, no biggie”.

Spoken way too cockily methinks. The collar is beautiful and was a simple enjoyable knit while watching the 1938 version of Holiday with Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. However, then the sleeves were tackled and no movie is going to make this fun.

Now I remember why vests are my preferred larger project. Sleeves are equivalent to another back or front. Sleeves should be the same. When sleeves are knit I make them one at a time so they are similar but not equal.

Cathy showed me how to do two sleeves, both at once, with one long 40” circ magic loop. I forgot that I do not like that method. I forgot that I have tried socks that way and did not finish them.

The stitches were put on correctly. The knitting was started and almost immediately the great feeling I had from this sweater morphed into annoyance. I don’t like pulling cords out here and there. I don’t like yarns from two balls twisting up. I think I don’t like doing two sleeves at once either. Did I say that before?  Certainly I have always given up when trying to do 2 socks at the same time. I get bogged down. The only way even one sock gets done nowadays is with 2 circs.

So after several rows were accompanied by cursing and the “heirloom in waiting” was nearly thrown across the room, I switched to two circs. I am getting further with two circs but now there are 4 ends to get tangled with two strings coming out of two balls. I am not having a good time. On top of that I just counted and the 2 sleeves are at different totals, probably because it all confuses me so much. So much for equality.  

I just promised myself that once the decreases are done (again) I will go back to doing one sleeve at a time and maybe get the joy back from this sweater. What’s the sense of having potentially perfectly matching sleeves if the process is a nightmare?

Periodically it all makes sense and then somewhere along I lose that and the mess happens. I also just realized that when I switched from one circ to two, the same starting point was retained. “So?” you say. Well the BOR is now in the middle. I stop for a break and have to puzzle my way back to the start of the rounds. If I had used 2 circs to begin with I would be happier as the needles would have been threaded the same way as for socks. Life is so interesting.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn West Danby

(I did grow up in Brooklyn)

Last August, or maybe it was July, sometime in the warmer sunnier months, my granddaughter Amelia, was browsing in the shop, just looking around as she usually does, commenting on colors and textures.  At one point she pointed to Tropical Sea and said, "I want a sweater in this color".  Her normal colors are purples and black, but hey who am I to keep her from branching out?

Last year her brother, Tucker, got a Wallaby in his favorite dark greens so I guess this year is her turn.  I am figuring out that one major sweater for a relative a year is doable.  More than that is my normal insanity (While Alicia was here for the wedding weekend we decided she gets a Wallaby next year or maybe for her birthday in June, in Plummy).

Another time Amelia was visiting I had some sweater patterns out for her to choose from.  We did not settle on one but she did express a desire for cables.  Cables are not my favorite knitting but for a grand, anything is a go.  I had just gotten Barbara Walker's third book, the one with charted designs.   Of course Amelia picked out one of the more complicated designs.  The Twined Tree.  I can't fault her taste as it is a beautiful design.

I decided to use a single worsted in my stash and dyed it in her chosen colorway.  A pound and a half was dyed. Maybe that is way too much for a 9 and half year old but better more than not enough in the same dyelot. Then Jim made center pull balls for me.  One day this Bolero pattern jumped out of a catalog and said it was the exact one for Amelia, made a bit longer in both length and sleeves, but still perfect.

I kept this project as a carrot.  I needed to complete the spinning on the wedding yarn, plus the never ending I cord edging on the EZ Mobius vest.  BTW the vest is done and I am not a happy camper.  The I cord edging will not allow me to block it to the needed length.  It is now languishing in pseudo obscurity.  sigh  Can I ever bring myself to frog out 1600 hours of I cord, block it and then re I cord?  At this point, my answer is a sad no.  Too much holiday stuff to knit. Too many projects waiting in the cue that are much more fun that endless BO-ring I-cord.  But what a waste of luscious fuzzarelly.

I made an extensive swatch.  Yup, I really did.  Well, I wanted the gauge correct (Amazing thought.  Maybe I am maturing?)  and then I was adding cables to the sleeves.  I know they take up width.  Once the swatch was done it was easy to tell that 6 stitches needed to be added to the sleeves.

The Neck Down Bolero is neck down.  I like neck down sweaters but I did not comprehend this fully until Hickory from Knitting Etc mentioned that to me when I told her I was putting the twined trees on the back.  The trees are charted from the ground up. They would be upside down on this sweater.   "OK, now what?", I thought.  So I brought the chart to Knit kNight. Most of the knitters said it was too far advanced for them but Teresa seemed intrigued and spent a good part of the evening working it upside down.   We concluded it was definitely doable but carefully doable.  Thank you Teresa.

Time to break out the Knit Visualizer software.  I love that program.  I use it for my socks all the time. It made the Capeletini way easy to put into format.  Chart the pattern on the screen and it mostly writes the line by line instructions plus a legend.  In this case really only a chart and the legend to follow was needed.  See what a difference it makes?  (That's the original on the left and the new one on the right.)   I added some color too to keep me focussed on the tree parts.   There are 2 stitch cables, 3 stitch cables and 4 stitch cables in this baby.  All of them go both ways at some point, right and left, and all of them are knit/purl cables. Hey, she's my granddaughter!

This is one of the most satisfying knits I have done in a long time.  Granted it had to stay in one place, on the table, throughout the chart, but even so I am loving it.

At this writing, the charted area is done and the bottom border is being ribbed. It is still satisfying.  Next is the collar and then the cabled sleeves.  Hey, no biggie.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sadie, Sadie, Married Lady

What a weekend!  It felt like one big party from Thursday evening, when my son and grands arrived from California, through Sunday afternoon when they headed back up to Syracuse and their flights west.

Matt's flight arrived in Syracuse about 6:50 pm, so after getting the rental car, luggage and really speeding cruising the 60 miles to Ithaca we greeted them at about 8:20.  We arranged to meet at Wegman's as that was the easiest place to find that would have a good variety of food.   What a pleasure to see and talk with my son and his growing children, Alicia, 14 and Andrew, 6.
After running around Wegman's picking up breakfast items and playing cards I led them up the hill to my friend Gail's house just below Cornell.  Gail was about to fly to FL for her niece's wedding so generously invited Matt and kids to bunk in her eclectic century old home.

Friday dawned a bit rainy but cleared up nicely.  I had my hair done by my favorite stylist Michaela and then, of course, mosied over to Fontana's for my shoe fix. ( In honor of this special occasion I allowed myself to purchase TWO pairs.)

 Jim and I met Matt and kids down the hill for lunch at Collegetown Bagels on Aurora Street where we not only ate but introduced Andrew to chess.  Matt particularly wanted to eat there so the kids could taste real bagels.  He indulged in a nice big one with lox and cream cheese.

  Afterwards we played at Stewart Park

until the rehearsal at 4.

Phil, the priest at St John's Episcopal Church, is very funny and kept our small group amused and on track during rehearsal. I was so nervous I needed to be prompted to say "I will".

Right at the end of rehearsal my very own sister, Ellen, who drove in from Rhode Island, walked into the church completing the family gathering. (I have noticed that she cleverly left herself out of all photos--tsk tsk)

We then made a car parade up the west side of Cayuga Lake, past Trumansburg, to the Woodland Roadhouse for our Rehearsal Dinner. Our table of 9 had a great time and the newly introduced cousins ( Jim's daughter, Inge's 2 - Tucker and Amelia) got along amazingly well. While we were trying to choose between all the scrumptious desserts Jim asked if maybe we would rather have fresh ice cream. Our favorite ice cream shop, Cayuga Lake Creamery,  is merely another 10 miles up the lake so off our car parade went for more fun.
l->r: Tucker, Inge, Jim, Andrew, Alicia, my back, Amelia and Matt.  Ellen took the picture.

OK - fast forward to Saturday morning.  Jim and I kept ourselves mightily in check with wedding preparations. We tried not to go overboard and were very happy to delegate responsibilities so we could enjoy ourselves. Jim dropped me at my sister's motel so she could do my make up and check out my nails. I actually had been practicing doing my nails for a month. Ellen pronounced them acceptable. I was very pleased with myself.

Cathy had delivered the knitted shawl a week earlier. It was dyed, blocked with ends tucked in and went to the church with Jim. Cathy met me there to place the shawl exactly so over my soft velvet outfit. I kept showing everyone my shoes. (Now to find more things to wear with them.)

We got a bit nervous, but everyone invited arrived on time so we started on time. For Ithaca that is a rare event.

We kept it a small gathering.
And I remembered my lines.

Our long time friends, Pam and David Monk did the readings, mine from Maya Angelou and Jim's from Ecclesiastes.
Amelia and Alicia were the ring bearers.  They sat in the first pew on both sides of the aisle and remembered their cues.  They were so excited though that they moved rather quickly both to take the blue boxes up to Phil and returning to their seats.

Having my son with us was so special.  Matt and Inge each signed as witnesses for us.  My sister gave each person hand folded golden butterflies which they tossed at us as we walked by after the service.

We all then drove to the other side of town to the Boatyard Grill which is situated right smack in the Inlet of Cayuga Lake.

We reserved the Prow Room where my very own sister had decorated the tables with hand folded cranes in purples and greens.  She gave each guest small fabric lined boxes of purple and green MnM's saying, "Finally!", "Jim and Susan", "November 8, 2008" and "Joy!".

Again, thanks to each and every one of our dear friends and relatives who helped make our wedding such a fantastically wonderful day.

Inge's special friend, Joseph, played soft guitar music while we all visited, laughed and enjoyed ourselves.

And the kids walked and played outside on the peninsula.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We are entering a new era.

"I am proud of my country", spoken by Maya Angelou in an interview on TV this morning.

I too am proud of my country and also to have been part of the nationwide team that helped to put Barack Obama and Joe Biden into a place where we can start to have our freedoms and country back again. A place where people count as people rather than as money sources.

While calling into PA and OH I was hung up on only a few times, but more importantly I was thanked many times. I enjoyed speaking with people who were excited to be voting for someone that would do something positive rather than same old same old.

This is the letter sent out last night by Barack Obama.

"I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,"


HOPE, CHANGE, IMPROVEMENT, EQUALITY and HONOR. Thank you to all who voted for this great new administration.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The week before

Here’s the list for wedding prep. I think we are doing quite well.

• Make batts √
• Spin and ply batts √
• Cathy knits √
Dye shawl in Fern
• Block shawl √
• Tuck in yarn ends.

• After looking in how many stores I finally found an Eileen Fisher pants and top in Eggplant at Fibers & Fantasy! √
• Pick up top after alterations are done √
• Shoes √ which I thought would be the hardest part was the easiest. At Cobbler’s Cottage, right in the window, was pair of 2” heels in fern flowers and reddish brown trim.
How perfect is that?
• Do nails
• Hair appointment

• Meet with the priest. √
• Meet with the priest for last minute stuff. √
• Rehearsal
• Flowers not chosen but colors chosen and left to them to choose. √
• Bring license.

• Make reservations. √
• Confirm reservations.

• Socks knit and presented to Jim. √
Slacks √ maybe
• Vest
• Shoes √

I keep thinking that there must be more but we are keeping this so KISS that this may just be IT.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Carol and Susan's Wonderful Adventure --Rhinebeck 2008

Our day began at Wegmans before dawn, even before the bagels were ready. Actually our day almost began in Watkins Glen, 40 minutes west of us, but thanks to the Ithacans Ravelry group, we were the majority so the bus was making one of its stops in Ithaca. As bleary eyed women lined up for coffee, we immediately recognized them as other knitters, and one from her Ravelry photo. We all gathered in the café with our coffees and food, keeping an eye out for the bus. Most of us that is. 

Susan went into the rest room for one last stop before getting on the bus, and set her full cup of coffee on the toilet paper dispenser, just as the Yarn Harlot did a few days earlier. And like the Yarn Harlot, Susan left her coffee in the bathroom…but also on her clothes, on her undies, on her shoes, on her jacket….never getting to drink a drop. Fortunately she had a dog towel and dry jacket in the car, so she made it to the bus on time, a bit wet, but ready to knit.

As the day dawned and all through the morning, until we arrived at Rhinebeck, all of us spent our time busily knitting and chatting. From where we sat we could see more or less the entire bus of women repeating similar hand motions. That’s almost enough to mesmerize a person. We kept knitting despite the bumps, jerks, and roller coaster motion that, we decided, must be normal at the rear of a bus. However, we don’t recommend knitting at under 55 mph, unless you like nausea nor snapping photos at 55 mph. 
Growing up Susan always surmised that the Hudson River marked the NYS border (another little NYC centrist assumption). Of course it doesn’t but it does cut a large spectacular swath through beautiful hilly countryside. Flashes of green and clear blue sky set off one of the last days of majestic gold, red, and orange leaf display.

Moving along at a steady pace for over 4 hours once we got within maybe 4 miles of Rhinebeck, our bus became one with a sea of slow moving vehicles. We decided to blame it on Ravelry. With close to 200,000 members, more and more knitters, spinners and crocheters are able to spread the word and converge during a two day festival of wool fume overload. Finally though, we made it to the billboard.

A few minutes later, at about 11:30, the bus dropped us at the Main Gate. With instructions to be back by 4 pm. 

Susan and Carol had an agenda. We headed right for the Harlot. NO bathroom. NO food. NO bunnies. Just the Harlot. Most of us Ithacans picked up her new book of essays and had them signed. Susan told the Yarn Harlot the morning’s coffee story whereupon Stephanie sympathized appropriately saying, “The worst part is you had NO COFFEE.”

l->r: Michelle, Susan, Kay, Carol, YH, Kate, and Brenda of wash cloth fame.

That “must do” out of the way, finally we could go relieve our bladders and listen to the rap poetry of The Whoopee Goldberg of the Restroom (minus the braids this year).

“If you don’t see feet, take a seat.” “The lady in green flushed it down clean.”
She is amazing. We felt privileged to use her spotless rest room, where she provided free hairspray, hand lotion, aspirin, Tylenol, and other amenities, along with her good humor and upbeat disposition. We think she earns more tips in a day than most people earn in a week. She is a shining example of how you can take any work and make it into something enjoyable and positive.

Continuing with our agenda, we went shopping! Building A is always our first stop. Usually we have something on our list that we search for fruitlessly all day, like last year’s nonexistent hunter green yarn. This year it was CVM fiber. 

Susan went off to deliver a prize to a customer, while I started the search for CVM, which I immediately located. Amazing!   SCORE!!!

You don’t know what CVM is? It’s California Variegated Mutant. Still don't know?  It seems that a sheep farmer who was improving the Romeldale breed kept culling out what he considered mutants. However, culling to him meant killing, so somebody slipped some live ones out and began to breed them, hence CVM.  At Mountain Spirit Susan, the micron snob, chose a lovely golden shade of dyed CVM and some undyed CVM/alpaca. Carol found some very nice alpaca/merino/silk/mohair in shades of olive green. The men in our lives will be pleasantly surprised with their presents.

Then we proceeded to go round and round Building A looking for Fenwick Alpacas, sellers of the nicest alpaca sweaters and jackets that we’ve ever worn. After we had gone around the building at least twice, we finally looked up their booth number and went circling one more time looking for and asking other vendors about them, only to finally find they had to cancel at the last minute. Major darn! Susan was really looking forward to a new jacket.

Next on our agenda was the herding demo, where some very intense Border Collies showed off their work. Susan thought the dogs were upset and fearful because they were hunkered down and their tails were low, but we were told it really meant that they were working intently. By just using a whistle the handlers were able to direct the dog’s actions, and soon the sheep were around the field and into the pen.

We enjoyed showing a newbie, Ellen, around the fairgrounds, as she exclaimed in awe about the yarn that was everywhere. Despite having 4.5 hours, we barely had a chance to see half of the vendors. We never did catch up with guild member Lisa Merian. But we did get to see the sheep this year, since we weren’t looking for green yarn.
This is a sweet beautiful Longwool Leicester.

Susan got stopped by angora everywhere we went (while Carol kept saying, “Come on. Hurry up. We’re missing something.”).

A beautiful pair of dapple gray Percherons provided wagon tours of the fairgrounds, but we didn’t have time for a ride, just a portrait shot.

And the food….Cajun, burgers, Italian, Mexican, macaroni and cheese, apple dumplings and pie a la mode, decadent desserts, wonderful coffee. Not your typical fairgrounds food. Right next to the food court, a group of Andean musicians played hauntingly beautiful and calming music, using modern and traditional instruments.

3:45 came all too soon. Just one last trip to the restroom to say goodbye to The Whoopie Goldberg of the Rest Room, with hugs and “see you next years.” 

With only 2 minutes to spare we dragged our tired bodies and loot to the main gate to wait for the bus. And wait…since 2 of our group were MIA. Just before we sent out a search party, Kate appeared. She had gotten lost. The bus was more than ready to leave, yet still one was missing. While we waited, we amused ourselves with a delightful Show and Tell. It turns out our missing person just couldn’t tear herself away from a barn. With fiber and yarn filling much of the available space, we joined the long line of departing vehicles, knitting our way home.