Thursday, November 30, 2006

Some pictures...And Real Men Knit

In case you didn't know, Real Men Knit. Check out this video!

Felted clutches before...

Felted clutches after...

Number three is kiwi green, and will probably have brown handles. Number four will either be brown and gold or red and light blue. For some reason I really prefer the clutch on the right that has just a little bit of the second color at the top for the handles. I even prefer it to the solid color first attempt that I made for myself when I first bought the One Skein book.

Did I mention there are cable projects in this book? :-)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Why I knit

"Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crisis."
~Elizabeth Zimmermann

In one of my first blog entries, I mentioned my friend Kirsten, who inspired me to pick up knitting after a girls' weekend in Chicago. The rhythmic movement of the needles as she worked on that knitted tank sweater was almost hypnotic. Within a day after arriving home I was at the craft store picking up needles and yarn and seeking Kirsten's advice for a beginner project.

What I've found about knitting is that it's like meditation. It relieves stress, both physical and mental. It's therapeutic. 99% of what I knit I give away, either intentionally, or because someone admires what I've made. Knitting has helped me lose weight by preventing me from eating while watching television (58 lbs in two years). Knitting has lowered my blood pressure. Knitting has busied my hands during nervous waiting periods. Friendships have been born from my knitting. My knitting has brought comfort to others - most recently through chemo caps, baby sweaters and blankets.

When I'm stressed, I knit. Knit knit knit knit knit. When I'm lonely, I knit. When I'm depressed, I knit. It's so hard to stay in those moods when you're doing something that will turn out beautiful and be for someone else! When life is complicated, I knit. As the stitches come together, the complications unravel. It's magical, in a way.

Today I had the pleasure of having lunch with my Buddy B. Instead of eating lunch, we sat and visited with each other while I worked on the Irish Hiking Scarf. We talked about politics and Barack Obama's "The Audacity of Hope" which we both are reading. We talked about teacher burn-out in the building where I work. All the while I was knitting and cabling. "Is it hard to twist those stiches and make the cables?" he wanted to know. "I taught myself in one evening, in front of the TV," I told him, "so it's easier than I thought it would be."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Never did I imagine I would be so excited about a new vacuum! Hoover just hasn't been keeping up with the kids and the Labs so I decided to try out the Dyson Animal. You know, the purple one. Absent-Minded Professor suggested we conduct our own un-scientific experiment and run Hoover through the family room before using the new vacuum. Poor Hoover. Hoover should be embarrassed. I won't tell you how many times the new Dyson was emptied even after Hoover had the first shot at the room. Bye-bye, Hoover.

The Sheep Shop Wool and pattern for the two-tone raglan have arrived! Yummmy! A whole box of beautiful green wool, colors F29 and F31. The pattern arrived printed on heavy card stock and was already in a plastic page protector. I have put the restriction on myself that I cannot start knitting this sweater until I have completed the holiday knitting. Hopefully that keeps me motivated. Two of the clutches are completely knitted and sewn, and await their trip through the wash to be felted. The third is on the needles.

And cables? What of the cables you ask? What took me so long?! I love the cables! Irish Hiking Scarf is growing by leaps and bounds. It goes with me everywhere. I am looking at other cable projects and books already. One book on my list is the Vogue Knitting Stitchionary Two - Cables. What a beautiful book!

So, I've been knitting like crazy. I've acquired some new yarn and a new vacuum.

Monday, November 27, 2006

I got nothin'... fluff post today

You are The Star

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Star is one of the great cards of faith, dreams realised

The Star is a card that looks to the future. It does not predict any immediate or powerful change, but it does predict hope and healing. This card suggests clarity of vision, spiritual insight. And, most importantly, that unexpected help will be coming, with water to quench your thirst, with a guiding light to the future. They might say you're a dreamer, but you're not the only one.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Saturday, November 25, 2006


Ever have one of those blissful moments that you would just love to capture and hold on to forever? I had one today.

Mayhem and Absent-Minded Professor returned last night around 7:30 from celebrating Thanksgiving with their dad's side of the family. Tired, cranky from too much time in the car, ready to argue about everything... and then finally sleep in their own beds.

This afternoon, after playing outside (it was unseasonably warm), we came inside and the two of them decided to play Battleship. They set up on the family room floor and commenced playing. Yellow Lab plunked his 12o lbs. down beside them to make sure no one cheated.



I decided it was a good time to knit, and curled up in my corner of the corner of the couch with my Irish Hiking Scarf (I now know the pattern by memory). Chocolate Lab decided she was going to supervise the knitting and snuck up onto the couch beside me. After one row she decided it was under control and was snoring softly.

All at once I realized it was peaceful. No TV. No arguing. Kids were playing and being kind. Dogs were snoozing. I was knitting uninterrupted. Bliss. Pure Bliss. Money can't buy it, and I know enough to treasure it.

I would show you a photo, but I didn't dare jinx the moment by getting up to fetch the camera.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Cables and Fog

OK, Liz, I can do cables after four beers. Look! Irish Hiking Scarf (and my first cables) begun.

Too bad the person I first thought of when I saw this pattern will never be the recipient of anything I make. Long story.

And, this is what my drive to and from my parents' looked like today for Thanksgiving. Fog. Fog. And more fog. The photo was taken at 10:4o AM and the trees had ice on them. Tonight there is a dense fog advisory, and after arriving home I learned about a 10-15 car pile-up on the same highway I traveled earlier. I sure am glad I came home early.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I Have a Thinking Problem

I do. Really. I admit it. When something is getting to me, I think and think and think. I over-think the problem. In this case, well, it's complicated. Seriously. Basically, after thinking and thinking, I said some things a few days ago that forced the issue on a complicated situation. Sound too general? I have to be. In the words of Winnie the Pooh, "Oh, Bother!"

Finally, last night, after 4 beers with friends from work, I decided to occupy my brain with something else. I decided it was time to tackle the cables on the Irish Hiking Scarf. Concentrating on something new keeps me from concentrating on that other situation. I've just substituted one complication for another. Hopefully by the time the cables become easy, the other complication won't be such an issue anymore.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. I have so much to be thankful, friends, health, home, job, enough money to pay my bills, yarn, baskets...

Me, with my best friend of thirty one years... THAT'S something to be thankful for! Even if we are going to hell in a handbasket.

Me and the Sibs. (I'm in the brown shirt.) Can you tell we sort of like each other? THAT'S something to be thankful for!

The pumpkin bread is baked and ready to go. All I have to do is drive two hours to Mom and Dad's. And then get back to T-Town in time to watch the two-hour Grey's Anatomy in my quiet, peaceful house.

Count your blessings.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Someone Has to Lose

We're talking football here. Michigan football. Both teams can't win. Unfortunately, MY team didn't win. *sigh* It sure was an exciting game, though! OSU's quarterback had an amazing game, and the boys in Blue were outplayed. Plain and simple. Someone. Has. To. Lose.

I also found out there's a traitor in my house. Someone is rooting for *gasp* the other team! Yes, for the guys in Columbus. It's a sad, sad day. Absent-Minded Professor spent the game shouting "Go Buckeyes!" eeeeewww I shudder when I even type the words. I think the 3 months in the incubator and all that time on oxygen messed up his brain or something. Either that or he's succumbed to the peer pressure at school. Maybe he needs a crash course in the Nancy Reagan School of "Just Say No."

Thank goodness Mayhem still has her priorities straight!

Knitting is going and going and going. This past Thursday was spent sitting all day in a mandatory school inservice for our entire school district. I took my knitting and seamed up the first of the five felted clutches and started another. I also worked for a loooooong time on the diagonal rib scarf. See it below? The second chemo cap for Chris's SIL is finished. Photo is below the scarf.

Scary News: When I arrived home Thursday afternoon, I checked our local newspaper online and found out the credit union that most of our school system's employees use for banking had been robbed that morning. Yikes! My first thought was, "Well, at least we were all safe, stuck in that inservice all day." A short time later, Buddy B instant messaged me to tell me about his exciting day. He walked in on the tail end of that robbery! Double Yikes!!!! He was able to give an accurate description of the getaway vehicle, which was found, abandoned. The bad guys have not been caught. Scary stuff. No one was hurt, which is what matters most. The ladies that work at our credit union are like family.

Coming up: My Sheep Shop wool and pattern for the raglan sweater should be arriving any day now. I have also decided to try my hand at cables by making this Irish Hiking Scarf . My LYS is now carrying Plymouth Encore yarn (75% wool, 25% acrylic) which is washable wool, so I picked up two skeins when I dropped in to get buttons for the first felted clutch. I have the additional felted clutches to make, of course. Number two is on the needles.

You know me... I can't have just one or two projects going. Besides, I'll be sitting at school without students for Parent/Teacher Conferences two days next week. And I'll have two days without kids since they are going with their dad for Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What Am I Doing?

It seems like I'm swamped right now! Thanksgiving is next week, thank goodness I am not cooking or hosting a meal. (Thanks, Mom!) In addition to all the things I am doing, I don't know where I would fit that in.

So, what am I doing?
  • Holiday knitting. One felted "Clutch You'll Never Give Up" finished, four more to go. These will go to my sisters... Bath & Body Works goodies inside.
  • Knitting another chemo cap for Chris's sister in law. She loves the first one!
  • Plugging away at the diagonal rib scarf - currently nearing the halfway mark.
  • Getting ready to start another baby kimono for a friend due in February.
  • Just finished a fundraiser at school with students going on the Washington, D.C. trip.
  • I'm in the middle of a heated grievance at school. As a union rep I hear and see a lot... This one will go all the way to arbitration and involves a change in working conditions for all the teachers in my building. We're one level away from arbitration right now.
  • Reading "The Audacity of Hope" by Senator Barack Obama.

Add to all of that the day-to-day chores that come with running a house and taking care of two active children and two dogs who think they are children.

How do I find time to knit and read? Hmmmm... I skip doing some chores or put them off for marathon sessions. I stay up too late. I knit in the middle of the night when I wake up and can't get back to sleep. I knit during my lunch at school, in the parking lot while I wait for kids to come out of school, in waiting rooms at doctor appointments. There's always knitting and a book with me. While Mayhem and Absent-Minded Professor are at karate lessons or skating lessons I knit and/or read. I knit in the evening while watching the few TV shows I can't live without. When I can get away with it, I knit during meetings.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Mayhem Rules

The Mistress of Mayhem, at the ripe old age of 7, has been on a roll lately. Today, while she is recovering from strep and sort of out of commission, I thought I'd share some of her recent funnies.

Last week, while flipping through channels, I paused at Entertainment Tonight. Joan Collins was touting her latest book of beauty secrets. She was asked the secret to staying so young and beautiful looking. "That's simple. I have lots and lots of sex!" Joan declared. Mayhem chose that moment to come through the room. "Oh baloney!" she scoffed, "I don't have lots and lots of sex and I'm beautiful!" I had to stifle my laughter and didn't dare ask her what she knows about sex.

Early this week Mayhem told me that she no longer loves Noah. She wrote him a letter that she was going to leave on his desk Monday before going on the field trip. I asked to see the letter before she sealed it up in the envelope.
"Dear Noah,
You broke my heart and I hate you for it.
XXXX (Mayhem)"
Then there was her reaction to having 20 doses of antibiotics to take because of the strep. She took dose number one with her dad while I was work. I arrived home to the news that she took her first dose bravely. "It was disgusting! And I have 19 stinkin' more doses to go."
That's just this week. She's done things like putting my favorite lipstick on the Yellow Lab... made Coca-Cola geysers spurt forth from my washing machine by adding full cans to the working machine, locked the babysitter out of the house...

Think her April Fools' Day birthday has anything to do with it?

Friday, November 10, 2006


This weekend, at the eleventh minute, of the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, we pause to honor those men and women who have served in the military in defense of our country.

Thank you for your sacrifices, for your selflessness, for your courage. It is because of you that my family and I have the freedoms and blessings we enjoy today, the same ones we so often take for granted. The time you gave is appreciated!

You are remembered on Veteran's Day.

One of the most stirring, beautiful sights in Washington, D.C. is the wreath laying ceremony at The Tomb of the Unkown Soldiers in Arlington National Cemetery. My students have had the opportunity to participate in this ceremony by actually laying the wreath after receiving instructions at the Tomb. I was moved to tears watching them perform this ceremony, honoring the soldiers buried there.

The soldiers assigned to guarding the Tomb have rigourous training and work guidelines as well, marching in extreme heat and cold and rain. 24 hours a day. Seven days a week. 365 days a year. They consider it an honor to be chosen for duty at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Over 300,000 American men and women are buried at Arlington.

Take the time to remember a Veteran this weekend. Acknowledge his or her time in the military.

And if you know someone serving actively in the armed forces today, take the time to make a call or send a letter letting that person know that his or her service and sacrifice is appreciated.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Challenge found

I've found it! I've found the sweater I am going to make for myself! It's this Two Tone Raglan from Sheep Shop Wool. I've chosen two shades of green for my sweater, though. The yarn colors I picked are F29 and F31. The darker green will be the sleeves and the lighter green will be the body. The yarn and pattern are already ordered.

And I'm not even scared. Yet.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day and Expectations


I don't care how you vote. (Well, maybe a little, I do!) Just go vote!

Guess what I did? (Besides going to vote!) I finished the felted tote. Yay me! And I must say, it's fantastic. Better than expected. Don't you just love it when something turns out better than expected?

(measuring tape showing 17" tall)

There's always that little nervousness when tossing something that took hours and hours to knit into a Kenmore of super hot water with some old blue jeans on purpose.

It's a great deal like inviting some of your life-long friends to your house to have dinner with friends you know from work... you just aren't sure if the mix will be good or not. You fret, and hover, and in the end, it works out to be just fine. A great gathering. The groups blending effortlessly into a sight to behold; so colorful and lively. You find yourself standing back watching and wondering what you were ever worried about in the first place, amazed at the transformation from loosely knit to tightly woven.

The end result is beautiful.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

On Being Flexible...

Sometimes you just have to be flexible. I think parenthood teaches that lesson more than any other job on this earth. Today's plan was to bake oatmeal raisin cookies. You know, the chewy ones from scratch using the recipe on the back of the Quaker Oats canister. Absent-Minded Professor was gone for the afternoon playing with his cousins, and I would only have one child to keep track of. (Some of you know why Mayhem is called Mayhem, and why baking cookies would be a challenge with both of my children underfoot. My sister, by taking Absent-Minded Professor, got the easy part of the day!)

Anyway, back to the oatmeal cookies...

Mayhem had other ideas. In the fridge, courtesy of their dad, the kids had this sugar cookie dough that is, I kid you not, the colors of Play Doh. How appetizing can cookies be once the kid has played with the dough like it's Play Doh?? eeeeww None for me, thanks. I read the baking directions and set the oven to pre-heat.

Then I read further... "will likely stain clothing, furniture and some countertops." WTF??? I know a MOTHER did not create this cookie dough! It's a Mayhem dream-come-true. Red, blue, yellow and green cookie dough that can permanently destroy her clothes and mom's new $20,000 kitchen!!!

Deep breath. Lots and lots of wax paper. Very old shirt for Mayhem.

The results?


Some knitting-related activity did happen this weekend. I didn't get as far on the felted tote Friday night as I thought I would. That's OK. It's nearly done. Good news to report, though. The baby kimono has been seamed and all the loose ends woven in. All I have to do is attach the ribbon ties. And guess what? There's pictures!

As for those oatmeal raisin cookies... Well, it's like I said. Sometimes you just have to be flexible.

NOTE: To give Buddy B proper credit, it was a Venti Starbucks on Friday, not a grande. You know, the biggest one they sell! ;-)

Friday, November 03, 2006

Finishing Touches... Friday Surprises

The knitting on the felted tote is almost complete, thanks to another evening with Grey's Anatomy. I've gotten to the handles and now have only 8 rows until cast-off. Then I can sew up the bottom and toss it into the wash for felting! Maybe I'll finish it tonight, unless I get a better offer.

Baby kimono is blocked and dried. I found adorable ribbon for the ties; sort of a canvas ribbon that says "All Boy" over and over in a rustic red. This weekend I will sew up the sides of that little sweater and attach the ties. This is a good thing, since the staff here at school is throwing a little baby shower for the recipient on November 10. The notice was in my mailbox this morning.

Sometimes Fridays bring pleasant surprises, besides being Friday. Mayhem and Absent-Minded Professer were exceptionally cooperative this morning. They were dressed, teeth brushed and ready to leave before we had to go! We left the house and were greeted by a dusting of *snow* on the ground. I love *snow* To top it all off, I managed to arrive at school on time, not rushed (thanks Kids!), and was greeted by Buddy B bearing a grande Starbucks coffee with my name on it. What a friend!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


"Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course, superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage." ~Elizabeth Zimmerman

Being fairly new to the art of knitting, I still find myself lacking in confidence when it comes to trying new techniques. I haven't tried knitting cables. Nor have I made a sock, much less a matching pair. Lace hasn't made it into the picture yet.

Still, the completed items I've managed to turn out have elicited compliments from the recipients, and from others who have seen those finished works. Shouldn't this be a confidence booster? What's stopping me from plunging in and immersing myself in a more challenging project? I know part of it is the gratification that comes from an easy, quickly finished, item. Nonetheless, I find myself looking with envy upon the hand-knitted sweaters and socks others have completed.

When I came across the Elizabeth Zimmerman quote today, it spoke to me. Lord knows I have plenty of wool and needles. Just ask anyone who has ventured into my (small) house lately and seen my Longaberger baskets full of yarn! As far as the intelligence goes, I would consider myself to have an advantage. I can read and follow a pattern, mostly. My knitting resource library has grown, so I have an expanding wealth of knowledge at my fingertips at home. I know other knitters, online and in real life, if I should happen to get stuck.

Honestly the worst thing that could happen is that I have to frog the project (rip-it, rip-it!) and start over, right? Mayhem and Absent-Minded Professor distract me, and interrupt me, so I might (will!) have to re-count my stitches, or stay up late knitting once they are asleep. I do that anyway. Sleep often eludes me. That's part of why I knit.

It's time, past time, to choose something more challenging to work on. Oh, don't worry. I don't anticipate making up my mind anytime soon.

And then there's always the wool to decide upon.

And the needles.