Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 Good Things of 2010 6 through 4

6: Trans-Siberian Orchestra Tix Won!
Vicki McKenna runs a talk show on 1130 Am out of both Milwaukee and Madison. We are regulars listeners as well as have her on FaceBook. One day she ran a FB contest: whomever could show her a large, ugly mass of Box Elder bugs won TSO tix. I sent over a picture of our mass of Japanese Ladybugs. Yeah, I was never good on details. Well, she was so horrified by my picture she gave the tickets to us anyways! So off to the Kohl Center we went:

A visually stunning show, great seats, we had a great time.

5: Lunches and Open Knitting On Thursdays
Both of which I miss. When Alex was going to the International Academy, I'd go into Janesville early on Thursday and take him to lunch. We'd end up at places like Subway or KFC, and talk for an hour before going to knit with the ladies. Open Knitting at the Dragonfly is a blast! Whomever would drop by would stop and knit, critique new knitting magazines, show off our stuff, and use some good ol' peer pressure to try new things. I do hope that after my stint as a temp worker, I get to go back to open knitting.

The picture is of Alex at Subway taken during a cell-phone camera fight.

4: AuTrain 2010
Our vacations run like this: One year a BIG vacation to somewhere like Mesa Verde. The next year, it's a week at a campground chilling, fishing and kayaking. This year was AuTrain, Michigan. The campground? Eh, the lake, too big for kayaking. The AuTrain River? AWESOME for kayaking! It snakes about 2 miles to the west and turns 2 miles to the east.

You drop your kayak in, have someone hold it, drive up 1/2 a mile to drop your car off. Then walk the 1/2 mile back and paddle for about 4 hours before getting back to your car. It's more like a large creek than a river. It empties into Lake Superior and is great fun for the last 1/8 mile.

People gather at that spot after the bridge and let their kids play in the sand and the current on the river is such that if you can float, you can float on the current to Lake Superior. It was fun!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Top 10 Good Things of 2010 10 through 7

I'm going to remember 2010 by the good things that happen. Be ready for some funky memories:

10: Gall bladder surgery. Yep, that's a good thing. This stupid gall bladder has been invading my nighttime peace for about 3 years now. It's time that Fred and George the gall stones get a new living quarters of a plastic jar.

9: Firefly and Zoe. Two Shawls that I have designed all by myself. A learning experience to say the least! The easiest part is knitting the buggers, charting however.....

8: After a few years of messing with an old well pump, pressure tank and water heater, I THINK we're done now. Everything has been replaced. Next spring we'll have to do some landscaping where they dug the 4 foot trench but hey....I wanted to plant some new flowers around here anyways.

7: Alex is 18!!!!! My dear son has made it to be an adult! There's minimal scars, no juvenile record, no grandchildren, no rehab bills. We've made it!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

New Job Makes Life just that more interesting

So I picked up a job doing some data entry/mail sorting for a few months; mainly to pay off the debts on that junker of a car of mine. If possible, I'll save up enough for another decent-running yet used car.

The bag selling enterprise is still running, albeit with less inventory. I can still do some sewing after work and on weekends, so I will be doing more fabric buying online. Which is good actually, since I get the better designer fabrics that way.

Christmas is over, and I'm glad of that. The crappy Wisconsin winters make driving a stressful experience and for some reason, I do not do well physically at my In-Law's. I always wake up feeling as though I've been crumpled like a piece of paper. My sinuses were screaming and I could not deal with the lights at church. I ended up looking downward at the Nativity Set during the service.

Our gift giving between Dave and I involved exchanging top-shelf liquor: Bourbon for Godiva Chocolate Vodka. I think it was a great idea, since we've already gotten into our respective gifts.

Tigger had some issues with hurling for a few weeks and I was worried he had gotten some bad disease. He's 13 years old; not a young kitty any more. We switched his food back to the usual stuff and started feeding him less. He's stopped throwing up, which is a relief.

And yes, he does a wonderful impression of Jabba the Hut.

Knitting wise; I'm starting the Gloucester Coat from Interweave. A cabled coat with an intricate collar. Since I'm working on the body right now, I'm still debating whether or not the collar is going to happen or if I will put a simpler hood on instead.

Mine is knitted from Patons worsted in a dark green color. I'm working on the front left side which is about 1/2 done.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Out here in the black

The other day, I was posting on some forum or another about how things were different 'Out here in the black.' which is a term from Firefly. It's amusing how idioms from favorite shows sneak into your every day language. I've been watching NCIS for years, and now things that are just not-right have become, 'hinky'.

But out here in the black means something that is just more than being in the middle of nowhere. Out here in the black...20 miles from the nearest moderately large city...we make do for ourselves when things go hinky.

Like when your well pump goes dead and you have no water. Dave's been teasing me about my obsession with putting gallons of water on the back porch/laundry room. It's not really a porch per se...more like a mud room. I stash gallons of water back there just in case and last weekend we used all 10 of them up plus refills.

But out here in the black, we learn to deal with minor crisis with a calm stubborness. We will not let it get us down, and we will survive. Even if it means dipping water from the pool to flush the toilets. We survive...and get on with life.

So as not to go all wishy washy, I've added a cute pic of the stuffed moose that I perched on my leg at my Aunt and Uncle's weekend.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Zoe is Finished!

Zoe is one of the ladies of Firefly. She's a complicated woman, with great loyalty and skills with guns:
"Zoë:(looking at a dress in a shop window) Too much foofarah. If I'm gonna wear a dress I want something with some slink.
Wash: You want a slinky dress? I can buy you a slinky dress. Captain, can I have money for a slinky dress?
Jayne: I'll chip in.
Zoë: I can hurt you."

Wash is her husband and Jayne is a guy that lives on the same ship that she does.

That is my interpretation of Zoe's 'Slink.' It's light as air and has just enough beads to make it shiny. Knitted from Misti Alpaca, it's knitted so that the diagonals work one way, then the next. I've added a beaded edge to the stole, much like the heavily decorated pallaus of a sari. The wardrobes in Firefly tend to mix Chinese and Indian styles in a very eye-catching way.

Recovery from the surgery has accelerated in the last week. I feel much better and more like myself. I do find myself taking more naps, but what can be wrong with that?Dr. Surgeon has given me the go-ahead to get back to normal life. With the exception of a terse scream emanating from my liver every time I attempt to eat something with fat in it, I'm doing well.

My Brother-In-Law got a deer Thursday, so Dave and I spent yesterday butchering. We have enough venison burger, roasts, loins and sausage to last at least 1/2 the winter. That was the 3rd deer we've butchered ourselves and I do think we're getting quite efficient at both getting as much meat as possible, and getting it packaged as quickly as possible.

Dave's been experimenting with new recipes for sausage and jerky. This time he's mixed up an Italian sausage and a Polish Sausage. We tried the Polish this morning with breakfast and it's very tasty.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

I'm without stones!

Yes, that is what I look like to day. Not bad for a woman who had her gall bladder surgically removed yesterday eh? The saga of the gallstones is at an end. Yesterday I went to the hospital and Dr. Surgeon took them out. Actually I requested them too. Dr. Surgeon was giggling, but did plop them into a jar for me! We've decided to call them Fred and George. Yep, my stones are the Weasley twins.

Today, I feel like the loser in a boxing match. I am very grateful and lucky to have a hubby who is taking excellent care of me. The laptop is perched on my reclining lap while I sip my first latte in two days. AHHH Latte.

Ok, really this was to say yeah I'm ok and to show off the Ptarmigan. I felt a need for a get well knitting gift, so I bought the ptarmigan pattern by Jared flood. I like his designs; they are classic and not overly frilly.

So I knitted this cowl in a few days from some recycled cashmere. I frogged a 50's style sweater for the yarn and it is so soft. I extended the cowl by one lace motif because I find things close to my neck confining.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

A moment of Zen

I don't remember where I found this picture online the first time, but it is a cute pic! Lots of the usual stuff going on around here: Knitting, sewing and harvesting. Hope all is well with you!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Shh, it's a secret!

That's your hint of what will become Zoe. Forgive the graininess of the pictures; my cell does not like low light. I'm still knitting and charting. It's part of a new frenzy of creativity that I'm having. I've been creating new knitting patterns. The other patterns in the works are nook-kindle-ebook reader covers.

About a month ago, I got myself a nook. I've loaded about 30 books onto it, some trashy romances, some Stephen King, some Diana Gabaldon. This is the wi-fi version. The browser is a bit fiddly, but I can spot-check my email quickly and get back to reading. The last book I read was "The Colorado Kid" By Stephen King. We've been watching the TV Series "Haven" on Sy Fy and I wanted to know how close it was to the book.

It's not really close to the book, but I don't really mind. The book is such a short story, that it does lend itself to being like an introduction to the town of Haven.

Update on the Gall Bladder: The surgeon says I have to have my gall bladder out. There's 2- 2 cm stones in there. It's been a running joke in the house. Mama's got stones! Preliminary scheduling puts me under the knife the first week in October.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Image courtesy of Genesis Ultrasound.
For the last 2 years or so, I've been battling a cranky gall bladder. In the dead of the night, I would wake with a gnawing pain right in the middle of my chest. It would gain in strength for a few hours and then subside, usually with a gurgling sound coming from my right side under the ribcage. I did some research and realized that it was my gall bladder and most likely these instances were when I passed a gall stone.

Last Thursday, I had another episode that was different than the others. It was earlier in the evening and it would just not go away. I asked my hubby to take me to the emergency room. There, they took some blood, set up an appointment for an ultrasound the next morning, and gave me pain medication. There's really not much else they CAN do for a gall stone. I get my results on Monday, and I do hope that the gall bladder is empty or is filled with only a few more stones. If that's the case, I hope to persuade the doctor to give me a few pain pills to get me through the next few passings.

Now if that gall bladder is full of stones? That's going to take an operation. Problem is; I have no health insurance. The state-run Badgercare kicked me off of it last December - I made too much money.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

ahhhh fall!

OK, so it might not be the real fall, but it sure is much cooler outside. I am convinced that my 40+ years of living in Wisconsin have made me more attuned to warm than cold. I hate being too hot. There's only so much clothing I can take off before offending the public. I can always put more on though.

The knitting is going well. I snagged a few coveted yarns at stitches: A skein of Kauni and a cone of Habu textiles silk/stainless steel. Stainless steel you ask? yes. It's a very thin yarn and I am knitting it on size 2 needles. I'll have to post pictures when I am finished with it.

I had to knit another firefly to work out details in the chart.

Tigger is modeling the firefly, knitted in one skein of Crazy Zauberball I got in a trade. I've ironed out the details, I'm polishing up the charts and I should be releasing the pattern to the knitting public next week. I do hope it goes well...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Firefly

I couldn't write about it, until after I gave it away....

About a month ago, I started knitting a shawl based on what I thought was a lace pattern from a magazine. It's a common thing for me; see a pattern, picture the lace chart, then start knitting. This time, I was horribly wrong. But it turned out cool!

I present the mistake that I call Firefly.

The yarn is a 50/50 mix of wool and silk in a great crimson color. I beaded the end with black beads. It turned out a lot better than I thought.

Currently, there are three test-knitters testing the pattern for me, then I'm going to offer it for sale. It will be my first effort at writing my own pattern, which means...I'll be a bona fide designer!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Camp Washcloth

While unpacking at the campsite during our last vacation, I realized that we had forgotten a washcloth for doing the dishes! So, while my husband was fishing off the back of the canoe, I knitted a washcloth in the front.

Materials: Size 3 needles – I actually used two dpn's as they were the only ones I had with me.
Yarn: Sample of Color Changing cotton by Wolle's Yarn Creations
Gauge: Um, not really an issue with this pattern. A larger needle/yarn would only yield a larger washcloth or a more dense washcloth.

CO 2 sts
Pattern Row: K1, yo, k to end
Repeat pattern row until there are 33 stitches on the needle.

Knit stockinette stitch for 6 rows
knit Garter stitch for 6 rows
Repeat 3 times, ending with stockinette rows

To decrease:
On Right Side: ssk, knit to end
On Wrong Side: K2 tog, knit to end
Repeat these two rows until two stitches remain, then bo 2 sts and weave in ends.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Queen Anne Shawl - Finished!

Some day I'll learn how to add a to do list to my blog....

Last year, I offered to donate one knitted lace shawl to the Catholic Ladies raffle. Each year, during the Church's Harvest Festival, they hold a raffle to raise cash. Usually it's a very nice handmade quilt and a few gift baskets.

I decided to knit something that could be used as a shawl, a Christening blanket or a tablecloth. So I picked the Queen Anne's Lace shawl by Mmario. It took about 9 months to knit, with many week's off for other projects. Now, it's done and blocked.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I've been spending time revisiting an old skill: Spinning cotton. I've misplaced my brass supported spindle, so I made myself a new one. This one is carved from a chopstick with a whorl of poly clay. The trickiest part of the construction is the hook on the top of the spindle. If you cut too much off, you have nothing but a frayed point.

The deal with spindles like this is that they are supported spindles. That means that they need something to spin on. My spindle cup has a divot in the middle for spinning. It is really a pretty cup; I got it from Mielke's The cotton is from cotton clouds and it is a naturally green colored cotton. Spinning cotton takes practice, much practice. The major jist of it is that it is essentially 'double spun.' As you spin the takli (supported spindle) the first time, you draft the cotton loosely. The second spin of the takli is faster, and gives the cotton thread strength.
It takes a lot of practice. I've been watching the series Firefly on Netflix while spinning. Good Series, and it keeps me sitting still for just long enough to practice without getting cramped up and sore from spinning too long.
About 5 years ago, I managed to spin, ply and knit this from cotton:

It is the feather and fan comfort shawl, knitted in a mixture of brown and white naturally colored cottons. It is uber-soft and pretty warm for cotton!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

New Look, Same Knitting

Hey, blogger got some new bling! Yay!

The knitting continues. A few High School buddies are getting married in about 6 weeks, so there is some covert knitting going on. Something befitting of the couple....

Summer is a time for kicking back and relaxing. So I've decided to stop sewing until many of the bags are gone. Problem is, they aren't getting out of here fast enough to suit me. So I put them on clearance. Go over to my shop to buy a bag dirt cheap.

The ladies that meet on Thursdays have been encouraging me to continue on the featherweight. It's mindless knitting: stockinette for hours and hours.

But the brandywine is finished! I was nervous about not having enough handspun for it, so the body is 13 repeats of chart B instead of 15. But It did turn out stunning.

Difficulty-wise, I'd give the pattern about a middle of the road in difficulty. I did need to keep the chart with me all the time, and there was one time I had to tink back about 5 rows due to a huge blip on the left side. I would recommend the pattern for intermediate lace knitters.

Monday, May 31, 2010

still updating

This blogger does not like me at times.

The next few things on the needles are a bit easier and great for keeping my hands busy while watching TV. The featherweight cardigan is part of the KAL that the ladies have started. A number of us ladies gather at the Dragonfly on Thursdays for open knitting. When I work by yourself all week, it is good to get out and chat with others to keep my sanity.

My featherweight is in orange: Tiger Lily by Malabrigo.

The last item on the needles that is new is the Brandywine Shawl . The initial idea was to knit this using some Malabrigo Sock yarn that I bought specifically for it. I started that things SIX TIMES using that yarn and each time, it would screw up before row 20. Finally I got the idea that this yarn did not want to be that shawl. I picked up a hank of handspun in a beautiful combination of violets and oranges and started knitting with that. It's been easy-peasy since!

Updates on projects

First of all, let Americans take a moment out of their day off to reflect on those who serve in our Military and gave their lives in defense of the United States of America. Without them, USA would not be as Free and Wondrous as it is.

There are times in my knitting journey where I am direction-less. I will start things and then frog them. I will start different things and just leave them alone. It usually happens after I complete a large project. The last episode was about a month ago. During that time, I started some 5 or so projects because the 6 or so that are in progress were not enough.......

The Bee Fields shawl was giving me fits. I had an inkling that the size 7 needles were too big, but was too stubborn to frog the darned thing. It took about a week, but I mustered up the ooomph to do so and then restarted it.

It does look better now. The yarn is a handspun silk that I had custom dyed for this shawl. I wanted a honey colored silk. Kerri at the Dragonfly was happy to help out.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I've got a Kundert Drop Spindle. It spins beautifully and I do like it a lot. HOWEVER.....if I drop the danged thing (and it does happen) while spinning, the cop (Spun fiber wrapped on the shaft) pops off.


I have emailed the maker of the spindles who replied something like, "Hey, I just make them. I don't spin with them. Ask a spinner." Oh OK whatever.

If you have any answers, please let me know!

The picture is of Vicki, with her I MUST KILL YOU NOW! look. Which is just added for fun. Dave is in the background doing...........something.

Monday, March 8, 2010

History is knowledge

I recently was talking to a very knowledgeable person about my reading material in the restrooms of my house. Yes, I have reading material in them....sometimes it is the only place I can get a few uninterrupted minutes to read.

One of the books is the "Great Mortality" about the Black Death plague that hit Europe in the mid 1300's. This visitor to my home enjoyed the downstairs reading: A book about how famous persons died and where they were buried, and asked about the one upstairs.

"It's about the Black Death."
"The what?"
"The black death: the plague that decimated 2/3 of the population of Europe in the 1300's"
About this time I'm reminded of the ex-boyfriend who didn't know what Stonehenge was....
"I've never heard of that."

Ok, what are kids being taught in school these days? Not even that, but the History Channel digs out their documentary on it at least twice a year and shows it. In the scope of humanity, the Black Death was an awful thing, but it caused a major shift in culture, economics, and how society works. When 2/3 of the people around you die in mere months, things are bound to change.

Peasants were given more latitude in negotiations with landowners. The apprentice-type market was altered when millions of craftsmen lost their journeymen or their teachers. Relationship dynamics changed. The arts were given a macabre twist.

And yet.....they don't teach that?

There are many lessons to be learned from the Black Death: whatever causes mass death is one thing, but the changes to the lives of the living is another. Think about all of those incidents where millions of people have lost their lives: The Holocaust, Stalin, Pol Pot, Rwanda....and think about how those who have survived have changed their lives.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What the words say to the right: " In this Feb. 21, 2008, file photo, Holocaust hero Irena Sendler is seen in her home in Warsaw, Poland. Poland's lawmakers have unanimously adopted a resolution on Friday Feb. 19, 2010, marking the 100th birthday of Irena Sendler who is credited with saving some 2,500 Jewish children from the Holocaust. Parliament says Sendler dedicated her whole life to children and was 'good, modest and concentrated only on helping others.' When Poland was occupied by Nazi Germany during World War II Sendler worked as a social worker and organized an effort to smuggle out Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. The children were given new identities and placed with Polish families and in convents. For her efforts Sendler was made an honorary citizen of Israel and held the title of 'Righteous among the nations.' She died in 2008."

Courtesy of the AP News. Irena Sendler spent WWII in Poland, smuggling Jewish infants, toddlers and children out and placing them with families who raised them. She listed those she saved in jars buried in her yard.

The really sad part about this story is almost never told by the media: Irena Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 2007. That year, Al Gore won.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oh look, I knitted a torch!

The Janesville Area Knitting Guild has their Knit-In the first weekend in February. Now, I've known for 8 months what the knitting challenge would be. The challenge this year was mittens. So being a studious person, I waited until I had 2 weeks left to start my entry.

I came across this funky looking fingerless mitts that I thought might just be eye-catching enough to win. So I started knitting and ended up with this:

The basic pattern can be found here
be forewarned: A lot of it is in German. My mitts ended up with a different shape. My cat wouldn't get off my lap long enough for me to check the website to see if I was doing it right. I just winged it.
The pair looks like this
with the right one being the first one done. It got a bit out of hand.

And I won Most Creative! YAY!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Remember the pyramid bag?
Yep. It's cool all right. But I found a flaw. The yarn can get stuck around the zipper pull.

I was using it at my Wednesday class last week. It's handy to secretly slip your hat-in-progress out and start knitting during class. I am pretty sure that the teachers wouldn't have a big fit about me knitting, as I was paying close attention to what they were saying. BUT, I am thinking that some of the other students may be either bothered by it or fascinated by watching a woman knit without looking. So I kept it pretty much hidden on my lap under the table.

The next day, I pull out the hat and yarn and it was stuck in the zipper pull! I had to break my yarn to get it out of there. I KNEW there was a reason that the KIP bag doesn't have a zipper!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

New type of bag?

A few months ago, one of the ladies in our guild had brought along a nifty bag. It was in the shape of a pyramid. She showed it to me and jokingly said, "I bet you can make that." I boastfully replied. "Yeah."
I should learn to shut up once in a while.

It's taken me 2 months. I've made 3 prototypes, all disasters. Then one night I could not get back to sleep. That's when it hit me: I was overthinking the design. Yesterday, I picked up a few scraps and tried out the revised design. It worked!

Sorry about the craptastic pictures. My cell phone does require a very steady hand.

The fabric is upside down, the zipper is too short but it works! The outside is the cows print, with quilt batting middle and an orange fabric on the inside. No pockets. There is a zipper down the middle of the front and a carrying strap.

What I like about the design is the fact that there's this small opening above the zipper pull when it's closed. That is handy to pull the yarn through while you're walking or just sitting. That pesky yarn ball isn't rolling around the floor tempting cats.

To make this ah...professionally done, I'll trade out the quilt batting for peltex. Peltex is a stiffer fabric, but thinner. The zipper will need to be longer, and for Pete's sake...get the design upright! Size wise, I think it's just right for sock knitting. It's about 10" Long by about 8" wide.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year's Goals?

I was thinking recently about goals for the New Year. Yep, it's January 10 and I'm not really working on goals that are widely accepted: Lose weight or stop smoking. Mine are more along the lines of things I'd like to learn or experience.

Knitting-wise, I'm working on a few things that I'd like to finish: A sweater for me, a shawl for the church, and a freaking pair of monkey socks that are celebrating anniversaries on the needles. Other than the projects, I want to try my hand at designing and publishing a few knitting patterns. There are a few patterns I've devised along the way that simply need to be written down: a shawl, a pair of slippers, and a few hats.

I've also joined the Rav group 10 shawls in 2010. The goal is to knit 10 shawls in the span of a year. I've gotten one down:

That's the Travelling Woman Shawl. I knitted it in worsted-weight Malabrigo so it would keep me warmer.

Work-wise: I don't know. I'm torn between learning screen printing to create custom printed KIPS or designing a few new totes. Perhaps a bit of both. There was one tote that I tried that I never did sell that is more like a purse with pockets on the outside. I use the prototype all the time. Perhaps I will revisit that bag, see why it didn't work and fix it.