Archive for December, 2006

Yesterday was a damn fine day.

I had a guest, we went shopping, watched a goofy movie, and stayed up really late.

And I discovered that my camera only takes decent pictures when there is absolutely no natural light. It’s a damn vampire. Let it not be said that my camera defies artificial light. Oh no, it defies natural light. So helpful for color accuracy. Stupid flux-capacitor problem.

Anyway! I had so much fun hanging out with Femiknitter and I probably acted like a squirrely puppy all day because I was so excited to see her. Yes, I did just see her in October, but this time we got to spend all day together and she stayed over and we knit while watching Talledega Nights and that doesn’t happen every day, you know. (I’m usually pretty good with words, but the only way to adequately describe my excitement is to grin all huge, jump up and down, and twirl a bit. See? Squirrely puppy.)

Oh yes, there was yarn purchased (on sale! 20% off! I’ll justify it anyway I can!):

I bought 1 ball of Noro Kureyon #40, 1 ball Noro Kureyon #182, and 2 skanks of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in the Flames (Flames! On the side of my face!). I’ve been coveting that colorway of Lorna’s Laces for a while (and then there was a sale!), and since I announced my love for Lizard Ridge, I thought I’d get a couple balls of Kureyon to have around whenever I want to start that deliciously portable project.

And what’s this?

Why, it’s a centerpiece bowl full of sock yarn on my dining table of course!

(candlesticks = wedding present; bowl = Christmas present; sock yarn = sweet, sweet yarny goodness)

And hey, this is my last post for the year, so I want everyone to have a safe and fun-filled New Year’s Eve! Woohoo!

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See the previous Rule of Sevens posts here and here, know that the lists don’t always make it to seven, and be warned: High Snark Content.

I Totally Despise These Things
1. Shopping for pants. I hate shopping for anything that goes on my lower half, but mostly it’s the trousers and pants that make me insane. Mostly it’s because my lower half is bigger than I think it is, or ought to be, or was last year. But it’s also because there exist only three pairs of pants on this whole entire planet that would fit me, and none of them are located in Northern Illinois.

2. The Illinois Secretary of State’s Office. This has nothing to do with Christmas, except they are screwing us at this most wonderful time of the year. They won’t give us our title because there is a discrepancy between the mileage on the previous title (Nick’s Grandma to his Grandpa) and the mileage on the current title. When Grandpa got the title, he was on his way to dementia and mis-read 12,478 as 42,478. When we got the car from Grandpa at 14,500 we filled out the required mileage discrepancy form, had a police officer verify that the mileage was in fact 14,500, and sent in the form with all our other paperwork (and a check for $237). The IL Sec’y of State’s Office sent us back everything except the mileage discrepancy form, and told us we couldn’t have the title. Our plates expire sometime in January, and we don’t have a title so we can’t get our plates (despite the reassurances of Marion The Phone Lady that she’s sure we’ll get our plates with no problem at all).

3-5. Being poor, or “just starting out.” We decided not to give anyone any presents this year, to keep our finances financed, and we felt pretty crappy about it.

6. These extra 10 pounds that just sit here, mocking me.

7. Stupid, self-centered relatives.

I Am Decidedly Enamored Of These Things
1. Being home for the holidays.

2. Seeing or talking to friends over the holidays. Wooohoo!

3-5. Generous relatives.

6. My husband. He listened to me bitch about a headache one day last week and gave me what I wanted — a refrigeratable gel eye mask. Even though we weren’t giving each other presents.

7. My very clean apartment, awaiting Femiknitter‘s visit — less than 12 hours away! Yippee!

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A Sneaky Update

It’s a new season today, and despite all evidence to the contrary, it is winter (we’ve got misty fog and 45-degreeF temps and all our snow is gone). The days are getting longer (so I’m told, I can never tell until about March), which is the real reason for the season (thanks to the Laughing Librarian for the link), and all is right with the world. At least in the “rotating correctly” category.

I have random bits of information about my knitting (oh, that is funny… as though I knit) and my recent forays into social interaction. Not all of it is pretty. You have been warned.

1. Sock Update
I realize that I haven’t put this project up on my “in-progress” projects sidebar, but in my defense I am extraordinarily lazy. Plus there’s the guilt about working on a project for myself when I have all these gifts (for the bridesmaids. From my wedding. Which was in July.) to work on. But still I work on the socks. Sort of.

Not much difference from a few weeks ago, is there? No. Not really. My defense? Laziness.

This picture shows the colors pretty darn accurately, at least on my monitor. It also shows my heel, where I’m supposed to be turning the, um, heel of the sock. I’m not sure about this maneuver, as Wendy‘s pattern says to start the short-rowing at 2″ before the heel. I’m guessing that’s about where my heel starts on the bottom of my foot. It’s still a long way off, as I’m only sort of knitting on these. It’s surreptitious knitting. Stealth knitting. Right.

2. Margaret’s Scarf Update
Also in knitting (or not) news, the scarf is taking shape.

I’m using an 8-row basketweave pattern, because Margaret will be returning from the wilds of Tallahassee, Florida, to the harsh winters of the midwest and requested a “non-wimpy” scarf. This knit/purl pattern is perfect with its thickness and cushyness and the softness of the sweet sweet yarn. I have about 30 inches, so I’m just under halfway along. Progress!!

3. What I Bought With My Christmas Bonus
Where I work we don’t have a lot of money (public institutions are beloved by all and funded by none, it seems), but I did get a $25 gift certificate to Borders as a year-end bonus (not Christmas, really, because we are non-sectarian) and I got myself a pretty pretty book. You may have heard of it:

I’m totally excited about this, for reasons which are known to many of you already because you own this book. The directions are clear, well-explained, and are good at the hand-holding. This is a good quality, I think, because I have yet to complete a sock at all and I would like to know the ins and outs of every bit of sock construction. And this book (glory!) tells me all I need to know.

4. Knitting While Intoxicated
This amuses me no end. When I was in college, and especially during the times when I was single (we did the break-up-make-up thing a lot), I would drink a lot and get all dancy-squirrelly and generally make an ass of myself in front of people. Now that I’m a married woman (and can I just say how much I hate the word “matron”? God, that is such an ugly word. It reminds me of “apron” and makes me think of forced labor in a kitchen. Ugh. Anyway!) … now that I’m a married woman and don’t go dancing with crazy people for fun anymore, I exhibit different drunk behavior. Case in point:

We were at a little pseudo-Christmas-ish get-together on Saturday the 16th. Nothing fancy, just friends hanging out in the barsement (you know, the basement with the bar). Well, I wasn’t driving home, so I decided to just keep drinking because it sounded fun and Hey, Jaeger Bombs! Okay, so I’ve had a few beers (only one Jaeger Bomb, I think) and… I bring up knitting. Not some redonkulous drunk-talk about how cool that last beer looks, or how silly the dog is acting, or how much your hair is pretty, but knitting. And this isn’t the first time! I’ve done this before, only then I said I could show my friend the best yarn shops in town. What? Who does that while drinking? Who just brings up yarn stores to a bunch of apparent non-knitters?

Anyway, this time I turn to my friend C., whom I taught to knit in March, and ask her if she learned how to purl because I vaguely (remember the Jaeger Bombs) remembered that we only got so far as the knit stitch. It turns out that she’s been knitting garter stitch for 8 months and is eager to learn how to form the mystical purl stitch which will allow her to make RIBBING! (Ah, it warms the heart!) So what is my response? I grab the sock I keep in my bag and sit her down and demonstrate the purl stitch a few times. Luckily, she either was really into it or is really patient and was humoring me.

I was going to write more, including the story of our Toyota (which we have back from the body shop, but isn’t really ours yet — Thank You Illinois Secretary of State! You Suck!) and the story of trying to find pants that fit my (as I prefer to think of it) voluptuous bottom, but I’ve got to pack up a bag for this weekend with the family. We’re leaving tonight and not returning until Monday night, so I have a lot of planning to do. And I’m still in my Curious George pajamas.

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to post from the Land O’ Dial-Up, so if I don’t, I wish you all a lovely holiday full of yarn and safety and good health! Hooray!

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Christmas is the sneaky holiday

Um, so Christmas is a week away, and I only realized its proximity this morning. I’m kind of off my game because we had all the snow at the beginning of the month, and now it’s all melty and warm and feels like spring. It doesn’t make me think of jingle bells and Frosty the snowman.

I think we have two family Christmas parties this Saturday, two on Christmas morning, and we usually get together with Nick’s dad and stepmom and brother and sister-in-law on Christmas Eve, but we haven’t gotten around to making those plans yet. Because Christmas is sneaky and looks deceptively far away.

I’m also planning for Femiknitter’s visit on Wednesday (woohooo!), and our trip to Michigan for New Year’s Eve to see all our friends in one place (woohooo!), and possibly seeing my friend Tony who has been on a US Navy destroyer lo these many months (woohooo?). We are busy people this time of year, even if we didn’t see this whole Christmas thing coming.

Hopefully, I’ll have some time to work on something so I can show you that I do indeed remember how to knit. Stay tuned, as next time you’ll hear all about my annual clothes-shopping excursion, the sordid tale of our car and the Illinois Secretary of State, and how I act when I get drunk now that I’m a knitter.

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… to keep you entertained while I am busy elsewhere. Doing things that aren’t knitting. They mostly involve hot chocolate and schnapps (peppermint). And some rather brilliant conversation, in my opinion.

In the Knitting Blog category:
If you don’t already read Mad Hair Day, and I’m guessing you don’t, go run away and check it out. This delightful lady discusses knitting, life, and (just recently) making chutney. All from New Zealand, where there are like 50,000 sheep for every one person (I may be making up the numbers, as I don’t remember the actual figure. But they do have a lot of sheep.)

And In The Pink is discussing Santa Clams and holiday knitting just now, among other things. I like to watch others get knitty this holiday season, as I’m taking a break from it. [ETA: “it” being holiday knitting and deadline knitting, not knitting in general. No, never that.]

For the knitting librarians and/or readers, let me recommed to you Penguin Girl, who blogs, knits, reads, and is very smart and is also good at writing (much, much better than I am). There is learning and fun aplenty over there.

And I swear I am going to gain 10 pounds just by reading The Knitting Cook‘s blog/podcast site. She’s got a whack of holiday recipes listed, and I’m so very tempted to go make everything she’s talking about. Eeeeeevil. But in a good way.

In the Non-knitting Blog category:
My sister has started up a blog based on answering life’s little reference questions. She’s doing this as part of a library-school class assignment, but I hope she keeps it up because I learn a hell of a lot every time I visit her blog. Did you know that female marsupials develop an extra vagina in order to give birth? I didn’t either, until I read her blog. Run away and read The Actress and the Bishop, and absorb knowledge.

Part of me is ashamed to admit to reading gossip rags in any form and sniffs derisively when it sees a photo spread of Stars! They’re Just Like Us! But another part of me embraces gossip rags and their weird voyuerism (I’m probably spelling that wrong) and just giggle at the inane shit that goes on in that alternate reality peopled by the rich and famous. And that is why I have been reading The Superficial, and why you should too. Because you don’t want to be the last one in your office to know that Britney has flashed her poon again.

(Special thanks to Femiknitter, who introduced me to this site. That’s right, I outed you. Just be thankful I didn’t post the tie-on-the-head picture. You know.)

In the Non-blog, Non-knitting category:
My pet cause, as well you know, is the annual exam and the prevention or early detection of gynecological cancers. This site has a very detailed and clear explanation of what to expect from an annual exam. It’s run by Cornell’s health service, so it’s aimed at Cornell students, but the overall information is stellar. So go schedule your annual. Sing a silly song out loud while you’re being poked and prodded to relieve the tension. Try to get your midwife/doctor/nurse practitioner to join in. And then tell me all about it!

The Gynecologic Cancer Foundation is a great place to find out what is going on in the fight against these cancers, and they have an 800 number (1-800-444-4441) for doctor referrals, in case you don’t have a midwife/doctor/nurse practicioner of your very own. Interestingly, I just found out from their site that September is Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month. My Gram’s birthday was in September.

Check Your Boobies, a site dedicated to preventing breast cancer by making sure women are informed about how to do a breast self exam, when to do it, and how it’s not a scary or shameful thing. Rock. You can even sign up to get a montly email that will gently remind you to get to know your boobies. I signed up for the reminder, because I never remember to do it on my own. I should get one of those hanging things in the shower. (You and I can both get a free one from the American Cancer Society by calling 1-800-ACS-2345)

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*deep breath*

And I’m back.

And it seems my electronic equipment has risen up in arms against me.

See all those horizontal-ish lines? WTF is going on? I mean, it looked way worse in the thumbnail version on my camera and in the photo manager part of my computer (I am a yarn geek, not a computer geek — specifics are lost on me), but it still kind of honks me off that I have lines running through my for-posterity photos of my first attempt at toe-up socks.

And this was the situation on… Sunday (yesterday)? I have no idea. Still with the lines. But the socks are moving right along. They’re both farther than this, and I now have to figure out where to stop in order for the heel to turn out right.

Begun: Saturday, December 2nd, in the aftermath of a snowstorm, waiting to get shoveled out.
Pattern: Wendy’s generic toe-up. I am in love with this pattern. Doing the toe first gives me a huge sense of accomplishment that the cuff-down sock never did. After only a short while, bam! I have a toe! Fantastic. And I’m combating Second Sock Syndrome by working them both at the same time. Forethought!!!
Yarn: Koigu KPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPPM in some colorway that I cannot find on the internets at the moment, but was given to me by Heather as a bridal shower gift (can I get a HELL YEAH! or even a Heck Yes!) and described as “the most Kathy colors I could find.” I would describe it as sherbet-ish-berry-ish-sunset. Which is why I’m not being paid to come up with names for yarn colorways.
Needles: Knitpicks 2.5mm (US 1) double-points. Set of 5. I’m actually using all five and feeling very much like a knitting rock star. Oh yes. Rock star.

I do have pictures of my other projects, but they seem to have vanished (again with the electronics trying to foil me at every step of the way). So I’ll take some more, but later, my dears, later. After I’ve had a good sleep or two.

It turns out that the problem with our camera that is causing these delightful horizontal lines (and I’m sure you’ll be seeing more of these later), is the capacitor, or maybe the flux-capacitor, or maybe I watched too much Back to the Future the other day, and have no real idea of which I speak. But fixing it requires sending it in for an estimate, and then actually paying someone an amount of money greater than or equal to that estimate, and that’s just not on the agenda these days. So, like I said, you’ll probably get to see a lot more of these lines in the future. Charming, I know.

Maybe I can call them a design feature?

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I can’t say “Thank You” enough. Everyone who commented and/or thought about me this past weekend — thank you, thank you, thank you. You all warmed me up with your support and made everything easier to deal with. My mom read the blog and all your responses, and she wants to include my post & your comments in a tribute book / compilation / thingie for the whole family. She thought what you all said was very nice. So did I. (Especially Jau, who I hope will actually go for an annual exam — your family [including your internet family] wants you to be healthy!)

[Please indulge me as I talk little of knitting but lots of Grandma for a bit here]
[it’s a bit on the fragmenty side, and lacks new pictures because my camera is acting like a jerk]
[Edited to add: Thanks to my youngest sister, I have a new picture of the visitation’s centerpiece. Just to break up my wordiness. And because I finally realized I have a camera on my phone, there is a new picture at the end, too.]

The visitation for Gram was on Sunday, and my sister, Mom and aunt had pasted copies of pictures onto posterboard for the occasion. They decided to cremate Gram (no instructions from her beforehand), so there wasn’t a traditional viewing, and it was nice to have three big posterboards of pictures. Some pictures no one had seen before, and some I’m sure my cousins and I wish hadn’t been included (man, there were some interesting fashion choices in the early 90s). But family was her life, so it was appropriate that all the pictures were there.

We also had two of her (many, many) completed afghans laid about the room, and one unfinished project at the table in the center of the floral arrangements. That one made me cry.

When the 4-hour visitation got too much, I retreated to the family room and dug out my knitting, a sock which I began on Saturday (yarn here, scroll down) (pictures later, after I figure out what is making my camera act like a big jerk). It was nice to knit for a bit, chat with some cousins I don’t get to see very often, then go back to visiting with the guests. And there were a lot of guests.

Gram was so active in the church, even when she couldn’t get out of bed. I heard so many people remembering her work at the church bazaars, or teaching Sunday School and bringing the baby twins in a washbasket so she could keep them near her, or sending birthday / get well / anniversary cards to members of the church (the “Sunshine Ministry”). She took care of everyone, and everyone there had good memories of her.

I also heard, several times, about how much she enjoyed going to my wedding, and how lovely a time she had, and how nice everyone was to her, and how she liked the flowers I sent (my boquet & 3 of the bridesmaids’ boquets went to her).

The funeral was Monday, and was in the Methodist Church where my parents got married and in which I grew up. It was built in 1830-something (maybe? yes?) and it was amazing to be back there. I sat in the pew where my Grandma sat every Sunday. I would sit with her sometimes and scribble on the bulletin or doze against her side.

Somehow, we sang ALL SIX VERSES of “O Come All Ye Faithful” at the funeral, because we are Methodists and we are nothing if not thorough. And we sang some other hymn, which I don’t remember, and then the pianist, who was my piano teacher and is Mom’s good friend, played her rendition of “Amazing Grace” which is all very jazzy and gospel and swingy and really perked me right up. Well, in the sense that I enjoyed that musical selection. (I didn’t think it could be done, but “O Come All Ye Faithful” sounded exactly like dirge.)

Then we went downstairs to the church basement and (if you’re a Methodist, I bet you know what’s coming) ate a lot of food. The ladies of the church put on a huge spread for everyone, and sent food home with the family. They just did everything. They are amazing.

So was my Gram, who just did everything for her family, blood-family and church-family.

Oh, and it turns out that Gram left three afghan projects unfinished. My sister is going to finish one ripple afghan (it’s for her boyfriend), my Aunt Pat is taking the granny square project, and I’ve got the odds-and-ends ripple afghan. I will show it off here as soon as the camera’s working.

A visual representation of my inheritance.

At least the camera on my phone is working.

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