Thursday, May 31, 2007

Happy Birthday Laurie

Laurie dressed as "your favorite disease" - Mad Cow

Yesterday was a tough day. I hit a few blogs and it seemed like everyone was having a birthday to celebrate. Wendy's Mom had her birthday yesterday - Stephanie's daughter celebrated yesterday. I had a birthday yesterday too. Laurie, my best friend since 4th grade, had a birthday yesterday. Only - she's not here anymore.

Laurie was someone everybody wanted as a friend. She had MS but you'd never know it. She would use all her energy to do for other people and then go home and be too tired to do for herself. She raised two incredible boys to manhood on her own the last 10 years. They are respectful, fun to be with, intelligent and each has bits of Laurie shine through. Our last vacation together was a couple days at the Black Hills. It was cut short because her ex-father-in-law died while we were out there and we had to drive home early. I have great memories of that all-too-short trip. I have great memories of all the times we spent together from discovering what we could do on our 3-speed black bikes to our final times together discussing "The West Wing". In between we took synchronized swimming classes, went to England together, made bizarre costumes for parties, took Stain Glass classes. The day we made Nativity scenes she was a bit shaky from the MS and Joseph ended up with a bit too much solder and was anatomically correct (OOPS!) Anyway -

Happy Birthday Laurie! I miss you - I always will.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Tale of Three Yarn Shops

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Actually it was an extra day off. I finally finished a huge project so I took an extra day off this weekend. I decided I'd hit a few yarn shops that are out of my normal travel area. The idea was good but the follow thru - not so good.
I started by calling Mom to see if she'd like to ride along. Kind of - kill two birds with one stone. Give Mom some time out because she loves to ride in the car and I'd get a chance to check out a few new places. Mom didn't answer her phone so she didn't get to go long. Hopefully, she'll answer the phone at 4:30 so we can go out to supper together.

I rode part way to the yarn shops and stopped for lunch. Mapped out the best route to the 3 shops I was going to and headed out. I'm not going to say the name of two of the shops I was at because the problems I had today were probably one time things and it's not fair to judge a shop by one bad experience.
Shop #1 - I got to the first shop about noon after going 25 miles from home and found a note on the door - Closed early due to illness. DRAT! Okay there's still 2 other shops I want to go see so - off to number 2.
Shop #2 - I got to the shopping center and discovered it wasn't where it used to be. Fortunately, I figured out it moved down to the other side of the mall. I went in the shop and was all alone. They didn't have an "early warning signal" of any kind so whoever was in the shop didn't know I came in. I looked around for a while and fondled some yarn. The shop seemed out of order. It wasn't the normal yarn shop clutter it was disorder. Some shelves were mostly empty, things were "tossed" around the shop and samples looked old. When no one showed up to greet me, I left. Well, there's always the third shop - off again.
Shop #3 - I will name this shop. I got to it - walked in and was greeted by very cheerful people. Glad to see me there and glad to talk knitting. I haven't been to the Coldwater Collaborative in Excelsior before but I will be back even though it’s a LONG way from home. I grazed through the fields of yarn for a while and came to the front clutching a skein of rayon/cotton blend. Carri and I struck up a conversation about a couple patterns I was working on and planning to write up.
OOH! Pretty!
Before I show you the patterns I have to say something about the 3 shops. I know things happen but the welcome I got at Coldwater Collaborative was what I expect from a shop. The other 2 shops - not so much. I know people get sick and you can't help that but the second shop had an easy fix available to them. Get a bell on the front door and stick your head out to say "Hi" to the person walking in the door when someone comes in. I will very likely not be back to shop #2 but will give #1 another try some day.

Now to the patterns- One is what I've called my Junk Yarn Top. It definitely needs a better name when you're using rayon and other beautiful yarns. It was developed as an answer to the single skeins and hanks that tend to appear in the stash. I told her I'd be writing it up and let her know when I got done.
It starts at the neck and increases at the sleeve seam, front and back middles. Once you get down to the arm pit you split it up to body and sleeves. One of these days soon I'll get it written up.
The other pattern is the Slipknot Ascot. This one is from back in the 80s when I worked at a shop owned by a friend of the family. I'm about half way through writing this one up and testing it. I'll send Carrie a copy when I'm done. I have some friend starting to learn to knit so it's time to rewrite my garter stitch patterns and give them something nice but easy to knit.

I didn't have anyone around the house today (Chief and Bert refuse to wear it to model) so- the lamp is modeling the scarf. It's a great scarf for looking good and staying warm.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

It's great to have friends

Friday night was friend night. The green Sockotta socks got to go out on the town.
My group of friends from school (we've been together for 40 yrs) all got together to enjoy the fire pit and some of the gang decided they needed beer and cigars.
Neither excited me but the chance to spend the evening with friends - count me in. My godson and out friend's daughter from college were there. Godson is turning 25 in a few months and College girl is 19. She had a crush on him her whole life and still gets excited when he's around. Maybe……

Saturday was a quiet day. I didn't go out of town this weekend so decided to truck across the cities to go to Sheepy Yarn Shoppe in White Bear Lake.
I bought some yarn there last week to teach my friend how to knit and decided I should play with the yarn - just to be sure it was okay for her. (that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Well, I decided on a shawl and 1 skein doesn't to it. So - I went back the 25 miles to the shop to get some more yarn.
Well, the shawl is further along. It will be nice to have a few shawls in the living room for company to be nice a cozy warm.

The last couple nights I got some knitting done. I'm getting some dishrags made for presents.
Here's another bias square for Greensburg. I decided to try creating a blended look by doing 2 rows of color 2 then 2 of color 1 before switching to the color 2 section. It makes the color change a little smoother.

I got the first Sock of the month done. It's Sockotta.
I didn't like the patterns heel connection so instead of sl1 every row I decided to do a 1 st garter st at the beginning of each row of the heel flap. I like the look.

Chief thinks this is a great weekend for taking it easy!
Meanwhile - Bert is hiding out under the bed and doesn't want his picture taken today.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Bert likes Knitting

Mom's busy knitting so I get to do the post today. She was looking at some other blogs and saw one about Mayhem. It said Mayhem likes to sit in the bathroom sink. I don't think that's so wrong. Sinks are purr-fect. They're nice and round to lay in. If they're the right size you can rest your chin on the side. I love it!

You know what else I like? Knitting. It's great when Mom knits cause I get a new toy to play with. After she goes to work in the morning I get to carry her knitting into a different room and snuggle up with it for a nap. What even better is when she leaves me a ball of yarn to play with. One day Chief and I had the whole ball of yarn all over the house. It was great! We started in the living room, then rolled it around a few chairs and table before we headed to the bedroom. It fit around the bed real good so we tried the basement. Boy, you should have seen it roll down the stairs. That was so cool we tried it again. Chief carried it up the stairs and let me roll it around a few more chair legs before we tried the stairs again. Before we were done we rolled it around the basement for a while but finally - we decided to take a nap. I don't know why Mom was so upset when she got home. I think it looked real pretty!

Well, Mom says it's time to go to bed so I have to quit talking to you know.

Hi Lucy! Chief says "Hi!" too.

Hi Meyhem! Like your legs.

Hi Guinifer! Hope you survived the storm okay!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

When the boys were babies

I didn't get any pictures taken or any knitting done today so - you get pictures of the boys when they were young.
Chief's "Gizmo" look

Who couldn't love a face like this!
Chief with Mr. Sock who has survived 4 cats and counting (his face is hiding on the back side)

Chief playing Cat and Mouse

Bert's Gizmo look
The first meal together as brothers.
Right now the boys are a little closer together in size but not much. Chief is 18 lb. while Bert weighs in at a very sturdy 9 lb. Just don't tell him he's half Chief's size. He won't believe you!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Summer Reading List

Here’s a list of “light reading” books I’ve enjoyed that are great for the summer. All have a fiber craft theme.

1. Earlene Fowler – Bennie Harper mystery series. Bennie lives in Central California and is the curator of a folk art museum. All 12 books have quilt block names: Fool’s Puzzle, Irish Chain, Kansas Troubles, etc. It’s amazing how many murders can happen in a small town but – they do and Bennie helps solve them.

2. Monica Ferris – Betsy Davenport mystery series. Betsy comes to Excelsior, Minnesota to see her sister and ends up having to solve her sister’s murder. She inherits the “Crewel World” needlecraft shop from her sister and all the characters that come to visit. It’s fun to read about local sites and streets.

3. Jennifer Chiaverni – Elm Creek Quilters series. She writes about a group of ladies that start a quilt camp in an old mansion. No murders just good people stories.

4. Maggie Sefton – Knitting murder series. Her first book in this series was “Knit One, Kill Two”. Kelly Flynn goes to her aunt’s house after she was murdered to settle the estate. In the process she learns how to knit, meets new knitting friends at the shop next to the house and figures out how her aunt died. There’s a lot of good knitting group action in this series, seems Kelly has to run over for a quick yarn fix and cup of coffee a lot!

5. Anne Bartlett – “Knitting: A Novel”. This book is about 2 women with issues. They live in Australia. One lost her husband recently. One lost herself a while ago. They both end up helping each other through setting up a knitting show. The big mystery is – what’s in the 3 bags Martha hauls around everywhere?
There’s other books I may share later but I thought a list of knitting / fiber arts books would be a nice start.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Obsessive Compulsive Knitters

A strange thing happened today. When I find a new knitting blog I’m interested in I like to go back to the first days of the blog and get to know the person better. Guinifer left a comment last week (and today) so naturally I had to go visit her. Was I in the wrong place? This first post sounded strangely familiar! She’s a Minnesota knitter about my age and says:
"I am rather obsessive compulsive about my hobbies. I have lists. Booklists, knitting lists, scrapbook lists, although I must say, the scrapbooking is on furlough right now. I tend to hobby hop. Anyway. Lists. At the beginning of the year I set a goal for myself to read a book a week. That is 52 books in 52 weeks. Did I mention I have lists? I have 19 books to go."

Wait – I am compulsive about my hobbies. Oh no. I make lists – lots of lists. Even a list of what lists I have. I read a book a week last year (and made a list of them all). Did she say she tends to hobby hop. Can’t be. I just pulled out of a quilt phase from a stained glass phase and now I’ve returned to my hand knitting phase (not to be confused with the machine knitting phase). Will this never end!?!?!

It just goes to show you knitters are a breed of their own and if you look long enough you’ll find people out there that are much like you – an obsessive compulsive knitter. Maybe I better start a list of all these people…….

We're the best thing on the bookcase!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Socks and Shawls

It was a busy day with the family but I did manage to get a few pictures to post. My Aunt had a 90th birthday open house this afternoon so I had to coordinate getting Mom & Dad ready to go. Dad's not too hard, I just go over a bit early and get the 2 extra pair of pants and shirts off him. Take off the winter coat and help him comb his hair. What is it about dementia that makes people think they need to wear so many clothes? I noticed that about other people where he lives. Do they just forget they have a shirt on so put on another shirt? Maybe I should look into that some time. Anyway - Mom is the tough one to get ready. She's supposed to be independent still but she really isn't. Last night we talked for about 1/2 hour and decided she would meet me at Dad's (in the building next to her apt.) at 1:45 and we would check his outfit and go to the party from there. I called her at 1:30 to let her know I was on the way and she had forgot all about it. This lead to a panic on her behalf and several - " Oh my, oh Dear" comments. So change of plan. I'd get Dad and drive over to her front door and pick her up there. I finally got both in the car and headed to the party. Mom was all worried because she didn't have a present. We had this conversation about 10 times this week. The card said no presents. Her brother was not bring a present. Her sister didn't want presents. She's not a terrible person for not bringing a present. ETC. I gets very tiring. The party was nice and everyone enjoyed it.

On to the pictures -

First the latest sock. Here's the Amazing Threads Sock of the Month Premiere sock. It's Sockotta yarn Lace Mock Cable Sock. It's on size 2 needles.

Next - The Plymouth Encore yarn. I decided to play around a bit with the yarn I got at Sheepy Yarn Shoppe. I decided to make a shawl. Here's the first skein and I guess I'll have to go get more because I'm I like the shawl and I only bought 1 skein to try out.

Finally - another shawl. I had some mohair looking yarn in the stash from about 10-20 years ago and made a lacy shawl from it. It still needs to be blocked.

Chief - get out of the way!

Well - it's late and I need to sleep before a big meeting tomorrow. And Bert needs to catch his mouse.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Dead Batteries - Dead Head

There was just a clip on the news of the Greensburg, Kansas students who are graduating this year. So I decided it was a sign to remind everyone of the Rebuilding Greensburg Block by Block project. Go to Laura's blog to get the details on knitting (or crocheting) 8" blocks for afghans that will go to all the families in Greensburg.

I spent a very strange day. No pictures because I bought cheap batteries for my camera and it's dead.
I usually wake up long before I actually get up on Saturday's because my internal clock doesn't know I can sleep in. This problem does go away within 2-3 days of being on vacation and I can sleep in with the best of them! Today I woke up to a headache. To make a potentially really long story short - I was in a car accident about 20 years ago that screwed up my internal temperature gauge in my head. Strange but true. I can't take heat like I used to. So- I had too many covers on last night and I got hot. So - a headache. If I catch it in time it won't turn in to a migraine. I decided to go back to sleep and try to get rid of it. By the time I got up it was noon. Nothing else to do but find some food and knit a little. So - I knit.

Yesterday I had a few minutes between meetings and found myself on the north east side of the cities so I went to Sheepy Yarn Shoppe in White Bear Lake. What a deal. I haven't been there for years because I don't live near there but, they were having a sale. I got a couple balls of Plymouth Encore (75% acrylic,25% wool) for a friend I'm going to teach to knit and 20 skeins of Berocco Denim Silk in a light faded gray. The silk was 50% off- how can you say no to that?!?

The Encore may not see my friend. I decided to play around with it today to see how I liked it before having her learn on it. I like it! Good price. Good texture. Fun colors. Guess I'll have to go get more. I started making a shawl for guests. Because of the head thing (heat gives me headaches) my house tends to be fairly cool. I kept it at 66 this winter and was plenty warm, for me. When friends come over the afghans come out. I decided a nice shawl would be a good choice for someone to use here. I have a few friends that are convinced they're "wool challenged" so a yarn with just a bit of wool should help keep them warm but not itchy. I'll post pictures when I get batteries. I'm using a pattern I found at Elann's web site called Aran Weight Victorian Lace Shawl.

The Sock of the Month club socks are coming along. I got the first sock knit to the gusset and when I picked up the extra stitches and knit the first row I didn't like the way the pic up row looked. Too open. I ripped out and re knit the heel flap using my tried and true method. Garter stitch the ends. This time around I did garter stitch on the first and last stitch of each row. I started using this method because of Elizabeth Zimmerman. She wrote a sock pattern back in Fall 1963 called Woodsman's Socks. It was in her newsletter and leaflet #10. I've made a ton of these socks. I don't know if the pattern is still available but you can check out Schoolhouse Press - Elizabeth's business now owned by her daughter, Meg Swanson.

NEWS FLASH! I was just flipping channels and "Stuart Little" is on. I did not know that the father in the movie was Hugh Laurie - as in "House" the obnoxious Doctor on TV. What a completely different character!

Tomorrow I have a family gathering but should have time to get batteries and take a few pictures. We'll see what life brings!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Jill's Chat (cat)

WOW! Somebody actually got my little play on words. But what guinifer doesn't realize is the multiple play on words. "Chat" not only is French for cat but it's is part of my last name.
Anyway- thank you guinifer for playing along with me!
Of course it's all about us!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New Sock of the Month Club

I decided it was time to stop being a closet knitter. I don't know when it happened but it's weird. I used to have my own shop, teach people to knit, show off my designs and suddenly - it stopped. I knit in the privacy of my own house and never showed other people what I was working on. Well, that's over. Saturday I knit in front of friends at a gathering and today I went to my first Sock of the Month Club.
My local Yarn shop, Amazing Threads started a Sock of the Month Club. Tonight we got together to check out our first project and sit and knit for a couple hours. I met many new people but being the dweeb that I am I didn't get any names. Next month I'll be better. We all were very pleased to see out Sockotta yarn and pattern. The package also included a clear tote to keep the yarn nice and clean and a new acrylic gauge. Very nice. I'm going to enjoy this group.
I tried to take a couple pictures of our package but Bert had other ideas.
Then Chief saw something was happening without him and he had to check it out.
The last few days I've been working on blocks for Greensburg. I've got 3 done and a 4th almost done. I plan on getting at least 6 done before the weekend is up so I can mail them out. Please check out the web site and consider knitting some of the bits of leftover worsted weight yarn. The blocks are bias garter stitch and very easy. Take a few hours to clean out your stash and do something to show the people of Greensburg we're praying for them and wish them well.

Chief decided today it's easier to look out the window if the shades are up.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Hello and Welcome!


It's amazing what joining a ring do to your blog site. I put a stat counter on the site a few weeks ago and saw there really were a few people stopping by for a visit. No comments but still - you came and visited me and the boys. Then - the Minnesota Knitters ring kicked in yesterday or today and WOOOSH! the number of visitors went up, up up.
Hello everyone! Welcome to my world. I'm still at work so this must be very quick but - please leave a note saying you were here. Chief and Bert love to read from other people and they promise to say HI!
I'm taking Mom out for our weekly restaurant night but afterward will try and get the non-felted clogs felted and get a picture up. I also want to get a few pics up of some of my stained glass work - we'll see.
In the meantime- say HI, read the old posts and let me know if I'm absolutely crazy to be typing away about the things in my life. Is anyone intersted?!?!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Friends and Family - Bikes and Sheep

It was a good weekend for the most part. Saturday was spend with friends - that's always good. My friends and I have been together since 4th grade with others joining the "gang" over the years. We get together fairly frequently by planning games nights, evening at the theater, dining out, movie night - whatever we can to enjoy each others company.

Saturday was in memory of Laurie. Laurie was my best friend from 4th grade on. We saw each other frequently during the day at school then would rush home to call each other or go to the others house. Then after supper we'd talk on the phone about life, school, whatever. As adults we ended up going on several trips together after she divorced and I was also unattached. Her younger son is my godson. A couple years ago Laurie died very suddenly of a migraine-coma-brain bleed out. (We never got an official name for her problem). She also had MS so last year I decided we needed to get a team together and ride in the MS30/60 bike ride in memory of her. We ended up the top rookie team, mainly due to Laurie's older sister incredible fundraising abilities.

This year's ride was Saturday. We had health problems for some of us so only 5 people actually made the bike ride. Two team members started before I got a picture but - here's a picture of 3 team members.

Laurie's brother, her Dad, Laurie's son (my godson), and my cousin & friend

After the ride we got together with more of the group and enjoyed our incredible Minnesota weather. Laurie's Dad is a great cook. He made a carrot cake to die for! While we were talking I pulled out some knitting to work on afghan blocks for Greensburg. One friend kept staring at me. He couldn't quit watching my fingers move. It was pretty funny. His wife, Robyn, has decided it's time to learn how to knit. Her church has a group that meets Monday nights to work on the Prayer Shawl Ministry. I promised to teach her to knit so both of us can join the group.

Sunday I went to the Shepherds Harvest at Washington County Fairground. Lots of sheep, yarn, roving, wheels, etc. But I wasn't in the right mood and actually went home with nothing. The rest of the day was spent doing very little because I've been fighting with shooting pain in my back since the first trip to Iowa. I absolutely hate hotel beds. I got a back ache a couple weeks ago and it was just starting to get better when I had to go back down to Iowa for a couple nights. Back to a major back ache. Then I went again the third week and that did it. I hope it will go away in a couple more days if I take it easy. If not, I'll break down and go to the doctor.
My Mom wasn't feeling real good either so we're doing Mother's Day tomorrow night.
Chief was busy watching birds and ducks in the back yard so he was tired Sunday night.
The one thing I did do was finish the second surprise sweater and a pair of booties to go with.
The shower is tomorrow at lunch so I had to get this finished. The booties are from Elizabeth Zimmerman's Newsletter #22 (1969). How long have I had THAT newsletter!! The pattern was written to go with the surprise sweater. There's also a bonnet and bunting. Elizabeth ends the newsletter is a great quote -

"Now let us all take a deep breath, and forge on into the future; knitting at the ready."

Friday, May 11, 2007

Rebuilding Greensburg - block by block

I don't have time to write a full post but needed to get this link posted in case anyone is reading.
Please go to this link and start knitting a square to make afghans for the people in Greensburg, Kansas who lost their home in the tornadoes last week.
Thank you.

Sugar Bunny Boulevard - May 8th post.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Some Pictures

Yesterday I promised some pictures. I ended up dealing with some things for my folks so didn't have much time to take pictures but here's a few.
First the felted clogs for my cousin - before felted. I made them with leftover Patons wool. They'll get felted sometime this week between business trip and regular work and getting ready for a bike ride next weekend (MS30/60).
I made Elizabeth's Zimmerman's surprise baby jacket out of some leftover sport weight yarn. Slight problem- the person I made it for is having a boy and what little I know of her husband, having a baby boy wearing a sweater with a bit of pink in the colorway wouldn't make him happy. I started knitting a second one in dark denim blue and red. Manly-man colors.Finally, the boys.
This is Bert's impression of a mint on the pillow. Who wouldn't want to stay here?

And Chief getting ready to greet company.

We've had such crummy weather so far this year that we haven't had a chance to do much with the garden. Dad was always an incredible gardener so you get so see a few pictures from the past years.
Have a great Monday!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Pictures tomorrow

I put a stat counter on the site a couple days ago. I was convinced nobody every came to the site because - it's new and I'm not listed on any blog lists yet and - who would want to read about what I'm doing anyway. SURPRISE! I found out people actually are coming to the site. So- I better get my act together and give you something worth coming here to see.

Work has kept me busy traveling the last couple weeks so I haven't had time to get pictures taken of finished projects. Tomorrow I have a few things to do but hope to have time to get some pictures taken and up on the site. Stay tuned.

Chief as a baby - what a cutie!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Boys will be boys

Well, here I am back in Iowa for a few days of work. At least this time I remembered to bring knitting with me.
Chief and Bert Home Alone

The problem with traveling for work is the boys are alone for a while. That was the reason I adopted a second cat back when I got my first home. I knew I'd be traveling some and didn't want my cat to be lonely. Turned out they not only keep each other company but I've always had 2 cats that ended up with very different personalities that delighted me. My boys are both very sweet and love me but they show it in different ways. Chief is my big boy. 18 pounds of cuddle. He would spend the whole night snuggled up to my neck if I let him. He has to sleep under the covers with me at night and be where ever I am or at least within sight of me. Bert is 8 pounds of energy. He doesn't come into the den - he bounds into the den. He is like a Labrador. Thick chest-strong muscles and a tail that knocks things over when he get excited and wags it. His main problem is he's afraid of strangers. At the first sound of a car in the driveway he's under the bed. Many of my friend don't believe I actually have a second cat- they've never met him. Chief on the other hand is at the door ready to greet the guests and allow them to admire his beautiful coat. He's the perfect host. He greets guests, says "hello", will occasionally shake their hand, allow them to pet him, but doesn't jump up on them. Could you ask for any more?

I finished the felted clogs for my cousin but didn't get a chance the felt them. That will have to wait until the weekend when I'm home. I also finished Elizabeth Zimmerman's baby surprise jacket for someone at work only to find out she's going to have a boy - DEFINITELY a boy. That makes me think she would prefer very boy colors. The jacket is blue-purple-white- and unfortunately some pink. Guess I'll have to make another one and save this one for the next baby or donate it. I don't have pictures with me so I'll have to post pictures of these projects when I get home.