Sunday, January 31, 2010

I'm Not Losing a Daughter...

Though it seems like only yesterday, 28 years ago, I gave birth to my first child. What a thrill she was to me. For the first time in my life, I experienced the meaning of unconditional love and that feeling has not left me.

Even though it doesn't seem possible that so much time has passed, my sweet girl is getting married and I'm gaining another son. I always wanted two sons, so this fits in perfectly with my plans.

I'm not exactly surprised by their announcement as it's been obvious for awhile that this was a journey that would take this particular path. I am surprised though that once they decided that this is what they want, they want it now.

Like in immediately.

Two weeks was the last I heard.

I also heard tonight that they want something small and very private.

There was even talk about going to the Justice of the Peace on a Tuesday, like Carrie and Big did in Sex and the City. Just like that. It's like they've been dancing around the topic and now that they've made up their minds, they're done waiting.

Remind me when I get carried away and start using coercion, that this is what they want and I'm there to honor their wishes. I think they have reasons for wanting things the way that they do, and under no circumstances will I channel MLTL and start dictating how they'll celebrate their new beginning.

However, I do think it's unrealistic for them to think I can find the perfect dress in two weeks, let alone lose ten pounds to fit into it. Lord knows I don't want to be like the woman in the Bluefly commercial that can't find a thing to wear in her closet and so goes naked to the party.

That would not be a pretty sight.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fiber Therapy

Moose Creek

It would seem of late that the yarns I've been working with are a definite reflection of my mood: muddy, murky, dingy. In a word...brown.

Like this Mountain Colors Bearfoot in the Moose Creek colorway. I think it may be prettier than the photo above--at least in color value.

Or the chocolate colored Rowan alpaca cotton that threw me off my yarn diet. Well actually, I think it was the trauma of the week that forced me to fork over my debit card this morning. Having a desire to knit something cozy for myself was just too enticing. I'm on row 6 of a poncho and though the mittens are half way done now, they'll have to wait a bit more. Don't worry though because those mitts are going to look fabulous with the poncho.

Then there's the surprising beauty of my friend Sarah's yarn. She calls this color November. For the life of me, I don't know why it appealed to me a month ago when I purchased it. As a color, it didn't really pop and was unlike my typical selections. It's much prettier than how I usually think of November and the sheen of this BFL is gorgeous. As it came out of the braid, the fiber appeared many shades of brown, gray and even a muted green.

I was expecting to spin yarn a that mirrored my feelings. Thankfully, I got this gift instead. I'll take this as a sign that things don't always turn out the way we expect.

Sometimes they turn out better.

Friday, January 29, 2010

See? I Am Not Chicken Little

It really is that bad out here. If I needed another sign that I ought to be paying attention to the voices I'm hearing, that sign came today.

Carrie Lynn Johnson, a 39-year-old home health care nurse from Royal Oak, was doing the job she cared deeply about when someone entered the Detroit home of her patient, shot and killed both of them and then set the house on fire.

If you want, you can read the entire story here.

I have an interview on Thursday for the desk job. I may have to reside in Dilbert land Monday through Friday, but at least I won't be looking over my shoulder all the damn time.

This lack of respect for life just sickens me.

ETA--I eventually followed all of the links and found this woman's obituary. Carrie was a fellow knitter and spinner. For some reason, this breaks my heart all the more.

Weather or Not, Let the Games Begin

We've had virtually no inclement weather this winter.

A few flurries here and there is about all that Mother Nature has thrown at Detroit. To be sure, it's cold enough to lick metal and have your tongue stick, but there's no Snow. In fact, right now it's a bone chilling 8 degrees F. It sounds more impressive in Celsius. In that case, it's -13 degrees. Definitely wool wearing weather and if you're smart, more than one layer. I used to think the surest way to make it rain was to go get a car wash. Now I'm thinking I may have been the one who brought this dry winter season upon us because I bought a 4WD vehicle to enhance my hospice nursing skills--or at least ensure my ability to get from point A to point B in a blizzard in under 3 hours. My vehicle's snow handling has been tested once, and that was on the day I picked it up from the dealer. We had about 4 inches of snow that turned to slush and melted by morning.

We aren't the only ones without snow. Vancouver has no snow, and they're hosting the the Winter Olympics in just a couple of weeks. They're concerned it's too warm to manufacture their own snow or if they import snow, they're worried it'll melt. This should make for some interesting downhill, cross-country and snowboarding events, don't you think?

Thank the heavens curling will be safe.

Yes, curling. Being so close to Canada, I've grown up with a love of hockey, and, only the Lord knows why, curling.

Today I'll work on selecting my events for Ravelympics. I need to make sure I get these items up on my projects page so that when the tagging begins, I'm all set to go. I've narrowed things down to the following events:
  • WIPs-Dancing--this is where I'll finally take out the long languishing Pretty as a Peacock Shawl and finish it once and for all.
  • Single Skein Speed Skate--I've got a couple of skeins of Manos hanging around--not to mention the book, One Skein Wonders. I should be able to come up with something for this.
  • Hat-Halfpipe--Maybe I can combine the ideas from my second event with this one.
  • Mittens Moguls Nordic Colorwork Combined--While not technically Nordic, I'm going to enter this with the Deep in the Forest Mittens. Definitely colorwork. Definitely Mittens. Technically Latvian. Close enough.
Are the rest of the knitters here playing along? What events will you enter?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Steps Taken

After an inordinate consumption of Pepcid this week, a decision has been made. Today I applied for a transfer within my department for a non-direct patient care position. I won't know anything until the interview process begins, but at least it feels like I'm doing something positive for myself.

The good thing is if I get such a job, I'll be working days and I'll be in an office. The bad thing is if I get such a job, I'll be working days and I'll be in an office.

I get the impression I'm impossible to please.

What do you think?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pass the Emesis Basin--I Feel Sick

I had another kerfuffle at work last night and I'm beginning to think I'm a shit magnet. (Close your eyes Sister if you're reading this).

I've always been assured of who and what I am, but according to the man I met last night doing a home visit, I may be something entirely different. According to him, a learned man of the world to be sure and one with an impressive vocabulary to match, I'm a, what did he say? Oh yeah..."filthy tramp." He was not some demented patient who couldn't see past my clean cut image or someone in the throes of delerium. No, indeed, he was not the patient at all...just a relative who is royally pissed at the world. I'd buy the line that he's just grieving, and verbal abuse is nothing but an expression of his grief, but that's complete BS. I'm convinced, since I'm not the only one he gave unique names to this past week, this guy is nothing but a misogynist. In fact, I'd bet my lottery ticket with a jackpot of 121 million dollars that this guy would NEVER speak to a man like he spoke to me last night. Not in a 121 million years.

I've taken everyone's advice here and when I go into really bad neighborhoods these days, I've been taking armed security escorts. Lord, I wonder what kind of hits do you think my site will get using the words escorts and tramp in one post? I'll have to be extra vigilant in the comment section. The problem with last night is I wasn't in a "bad" neighborhood and I was blindsided by the abuse and people yelling at me. While we're on the subject of neighborhoods, when I'm in really bad ones, it's not the families and patients who are a problem. It's the areas that are dangerous. Indeed, most economically disadvantaged people are so thankful for help and very gracious while I'm there. I have, knock wood, never left a home in the city fleeing like I did last night because in addition to the name calling, three adults, all bigger than me, were yelling at me. And scaring me to death. It wasn't just their verbiage and loud tones of voice I found threatening, it was their body language that screamed to me, "get the hell out, NOW!"

When I got to my car, my hands were shaking so bad I had a hard time getting the key in the ignition. I drove around the corner and called my supervisor. It took six attempts to land the tracking ball device on the number I wanted to call on my Blackberry. I wanted to cry and puke at the same time.

Suffice it to say, I've had enough of this. This is incident number three in as many months, and I can tell you that though I feel this work is still where my heart is (when it isn't in my throat), I am losing the stomach, not to mention the nerve, to do it much longer. I'm on the hunt for a work situation that while it may not be better, at least it may be safer. I say may be safer because under-reported workplace violence is nursing's dirty little secret. Nurses get assaulted every single day and in every type of work situation you can imagine. They get hit, kicked, bit, spit on, threatened with "reporting to a supervisor"and sworn at routinely. Because the perpetrators are usually patients who may not be in their right minds, nothing usually ever comes of it. Ever.

For God's sake people, when we nurses are visitors in patient homes, those domiciles become our place of employment. Think about would you feel if someone came into your workplace and starting screaming at you and calling you despicable names? How would you like to feel fear for your wellbeing in the place you earn your living?

I need to find something else before I lose it completely and start dishing back what these rude people are handing out.

What in the world has happened to common courtesy and manners?

And so you know and won't worry, we do have zero tolerance for abuse. Zero. I don't think my abuser thought about that before he opened his mouth. Too bad, so sad.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Miracles Happen

For years, I've suffered with terrible feet. The skin is dry, flaky, calloused and the skin on my heels cracks. I've tried everything under the sun including pedicures, a ped-egg, daily application of lotions, potions, creams, tea tree name it, I've tried it. I've even tried antifungal remedies thinking it could be a sort athlete's foot. It isn't.

Sometimes, even though my feet get routine attention, the cracks become so deep and tender that walking becomes painful.

The other day, I Googled cracked heels and came upon a site full of testimonials about a remedy from an Australian company called, Flexitol Heel Balm. I thought, what the heck, I'll give it a shot and I picked up a tube from the local Rite Aid on Thursday.

It works. It's a miracle. In fact, I saw and felt a difference OVERNIGHT. It was worth every penny and I'm about to stock up. I think the last product endorsement I did was for my Tempur-pedic bed. I'm still geeked about my bed, but this may be even better.

If you have feet as bad as I've described, get thee to a drug store. I have heard that Target sells this potion for much less than I paid for it, like 50% less, but like I said, it was worth what I paid and more.

I wish I had taken before and after pictures so I could show you the proof, but I didn't think about it. Besides, I've spent a lot of time trying to cover up my feet as they weren't my best feature. I have a feeling that with summer coming, I'm going to have an awesome time shopping for sandals and flip flops.

A word of warning...less is more and you need to put socks on after application.

Go forth and make your feet happy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Training Day

With the weaving soundly in time out for a bit, I've embarked on a training project for Ravelympics. I've been spinning the yarn I'll use for the mittens I'll make in competition and I was stuck not knowing if I wanted to use the alpaca singles or ply them. I had enough wraps per inch to use singles, but I spent yesterday swatching a plied sample while my wheel sat idle at my spinning circle. As is the case on Saturday mornings, one conversation led to another, and Sue asked if I'd seen the new Piecework Magazine. I had not, so Marilyn promptly put an issue under my nose.

The swatching tasks at hand fell instantly out of my mind as I paged through the annual historic issue of Piecework. Once I came to the article on Latvian mittens, it was all over but the yarn selection.

Last night I cast on for the Birch Mittens and today I've started the color work all in leftover Blue Sky Alpaca. I may have bought the magazine, but I've stayed on my yarn diet.

Interestingly, the knitter who was famous throughout Latvia for her mittens was initially limited with the yarns she could use. I think it's possible that some of her techniques for weaving in strands of yarn for detail, may have been done to conserve her stash. For instance, though I didn't do it on my cuff, the directions call for splitting the plies of yarn for the weaving of contrasted stitches (those sideways slashes that look like Morse code).

I'm usually not thankful for the rain, but I am today. It gives me an excuse (not that I need one) to stay indoors and knit. Rachel is watching Winnie the Pooh and I'm engrossed in a complicated, historical pattern. Since this pattern involves color work, I'll just chalk it up to a day in training for the events that start in just a couple of weeks.

Pattern: Birch Mittens from Jan/Feb 2010 issue of Piecework by Barbara Plakans
Yarn: Blue Sky Alpaca from my stash
Needles: US 1.5 (2.50 mm)

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Those Who Can...Do

I've been overwhelmed lately with all of the news coming out of Haiti. Some of the rescues have been amazing and I look on in what has become a detached sort of way. The news reporting has bothered me from a particular aspect. One reporter spoke about how someone came to him begging for water and he felt badly that he could not give this person any. Why not? The reporter didn't appear dehydrated or malnourished and so his words bothered me. Perhaps it was just the way he said them, but I pictured the news crews, who, although they are obviously roughing it, have parent companies like CNN, FOX or MSNBC seeing to their basic needs. Most likely, they have food, water, tents, cots, porta-potties, toilet paper, etc. You get the picture. I find it hard to believe they're going with as little as the earthquake survivors seem to be. Some of the stories the news stations have shown are exploitative to a degree and if I see one more TV personality doctor working only with his mouth, and not the skills he has been trained in, I think I'll scream. While they're reporting, there are suffering human beings who need those skills.

Because I've donated to MSF, the agency sent me one doctor's slide show, and watching this, a clearer and more emotional picture of the utter devastation is laid bare.

Next pay day, they'll be getting another donation from me because I've no doubt they're sharing what they have--even if all they have is technical skill. Though the photos still trouble me, I feel hope when I see the work they do. It can't be easy and on top of all of the thoughts and prayers I send out to the people of Haiti, I'm adding all of the relief workers to my prayers, too. Their burden must surely be heavy.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Getting My Money's Worth

You know you've made a sound decision when the home inspection team is excited about what they're seeing and not in the sky is falling way.

The house, which I'm beginning to allow an emotional attachment to (especially after today), passed the home inspection with only minor glitches. Since the structure is 84 years old, that's not too shabby. We had a camera inspection of the plumbing out to the street and while not as clean as the colon of a human who consumed a gallon of golytely, there were no obstructions. The glitches were mainly electrical and require only minor fixes. Somebody, and not this particular investor, used the wrong outlets (three prong) for outlets that should be two pronged. We're asking the seller to fix all of this and one problem with the hot water heater release valve. All in all, it's a great house.

Though I didn't take a photo of my yarn room, the picture of it is firmly affixed in my mind. The room is about 100 square feet with two windows on the northern exposure and has two large walk in spaces for storage. A little TV, my IPOD, an ergonomic chair or two, locks for the door and I'll be good to go up there. I'm stalking sites for decorative storage solutions and plan a trip to Ikea, soon. Target has those cute little Itso storage options, but Ikea may have more.

Because of mortgage requirements on a house that's being flipped for investment purposes, we can't close until the beginning of March, but that's right around the corner.

I'm dreading another move in such a short time, but at least this time, it'll be my own home...a place where I can hang what I please on my walls and look at dog scratched hardwood and take it all in with a grain of salt.

But first it needs a gate.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Whatcha Gonna Do When They Come For You?

Driving home from a patient's house tonight, three cop cars passed me. Being, generally speaking, a good girl, I checked my speed and tapped on the breaks. Ahead of me, I could see all three make a left and head north on a main road. I approached the intersection where I see a helicopter up above with a spotlight. It's heading south. While I'm contemplating this, a cop approaching from behind me makes a right hand turn in front of my car that I'm prepared to make a left in and heads south. Just as I begin to enter the road, the three cops heading north make a U-turn in the middle of this busy road and follow the rest of the gang heading south.

By this time, I'm getting a little nervous. Not one of these guys has his flashers on and they're out in the dark speeding, pulling U-turns and dangerous driving maneuvers without regard to the safety of the rest of us poor schmoes out there with them. Now I'm annoyed.

I stopped at a Starbucks to let it all die down, get my drink and head back out on the road. Since I'm the one heading north, I kind of let the southbound cops leave my head. Just as I got on the street, I see two cars behind me with no lights on and a posse of cops chasing them. For God's sake, they were all heading north now. With me!!!

I couldn't wait to get home and lock my doors.

I won't be surprised to see someone dead from a high speed police chase in the news come morning. I'm just glad it won't be me.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Weaving Wednesday?

Sloppy on the left, no?

The first ten rows of my sample were perfect. After that? Well, let's just say I'm glad I warped the loom with a ridiculous amount of yarn so I could do some sampling. I mean, who needs a one hundred inch long scarf? Not me. I'll be satisfied if there is enough for a nice and drapey 5 foot scarf.

This is the right side with a rather neat selvage.

I'm having both tension and selvage issues and I'm trying to figure things out. In the first place, though it really helps to blow off steam, I don't think I need to beat the yarn so hard with the heddle (the innuendo doesn't escape me and I think this terminology could be linked to other topics. I'm having a hell of a time choosing my words because I think the male readers of this blog, given half a chance, would run with it: beat the heddle, indeed). In addition to the cruddy looking selvages, it made for some incredibly dense fabric. I'm a tight knitter, so it tends to reason that I'm going to have the same issues weaving.

I don't know what I did to get this, but obviously, it was really wrong.

In the second place, I haven't been pinching the yarn at the point where I'm wrapping the weft yarn to pass through the shed in opposite direction and this may be contributing to my messy selvages on just one side of the fabric. I didn't think I was doing anything differently, but obviously, I was. I had a nice right sided edge and on the left, a bundle of sloppy loops.

This would be a nice design feature if I'd meant it. I didn't see it until I took the sample off the loom. Here we have an area where the shuttle passed over and under the warp and this space was not woven in.

I cut the sample from the loom, but it's still warped for a return engagement. Not today, though. Today was for working until 2:30 AM and then getting up at 9 AM to chart on what I couldn't get to last night. 3/4 night shift nurses ran their butts off last night. The other one slept all night. Lucky wench. I'm hoping that tonight is better, but I'm not going to hold my breath.

The moon won't be full for another ten days. What gives?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No Tangled Webs Woven Here

The loom? She's warped.

It may have taken all morning and most of the afternoon, but I got the job done. I watched one video about 10 times before and during the work of warping. I don't know why, but the directions that came with the loom are just plain dumb. The video was a Godsend.

I'd like to point out that I may be a little dense myself. That's fingering weight yarn for my first project. I think a wiser novice weaver would have selected a phat yarn. The warp yarn goes from top to bottom and is stretched fairly taut across the loom. I used Socrates in dark gray. It's so soft. The middle piece with the slats is the heddle and shifts the yarn's position when I pass the shuttle (the piece wrapped in pretty yarn) back and forth. The heddle also beats the yarn into place after each pass. The weft yarn is moved from left to right and back again, over and over and over. I chose a variegated yarn from Lorna's Laces in beautiful shades of gray, black purple and blue. It's striping on the loom which thrills me to no end.

As you can see, I' haven't gotten too far, but considering how long it took to warp the loom, I'd say I'm making progress.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Not Enough Bottles of Beer in the World

Today I'm going to play a little game. I'm going to set up a little scenario, and I'd like you to attribute some comments to one of the players.

Imagine the scene: Rudee has spent the day cooking a very ethnic birthday feast for her husband who worked all day long. She slaved over the stove making grape leaves, fatoush, lebneh with cucumbers and rice pudding. For the heck of it, she roasted a chicken in case some of the guests didn't want her grape leaves. She thought of everyone.

At around six PM, the small party of guests arrived including Rudee's son, daughter, her daughter's boyfriend, MLTL and lastly, the guest of honor. By seven, they were all partaking of the meal and Rudee was seriously working on her second beer. So now the stage is set and the evening of wit and repartee begins in earnest.

Who said these things?

1. "Rudee? Are you really part Belgian? No kidding? Really? Because if you really are, I found some Belgian cheese at the Italian market and I'm going to buy you a hunk the next time I'm there whether you like it or not.

2. Be sure when you read this, you let it all run on in one sentence to get a feel for what I heard:

"Rudee?are you drinking beer?you know, I used to drink beer, but I haven't had a drop in thirty years. my wife used to drink a lot of wine in fact she was quite a wino. what kind of beer are you drinking? you don't say? it has pumpkin in it? isn't that your second?

3. "You know Rudee, my father used to say only a Jew eats at the table with his hat on." Now picture that Rudee had a guest at the table who did indeed have a hat on during this very casual dinner and you also need to know, this was a blanket statement indicating both hat wearers and Jews are rude in this man's eyes. I never noticed or took offense.

I'm giving you three guesses at who had worst manners at dinner. If you guessed it was the same one who bought his son a used and pilling sweater at the flea market as a fiftieth birthday gift, made derogatory remarks about his dead wife and Jews, slurped his food, smacked his lips and chewed with his mouth open, you'd be right.

Next time, if there is a next time I invite this dolt, I'll start drinking hours before he gets here. Instead of the cheese, I hope he can find me some Belgian beer.

He's a mean old bastard.

The good news? The hat adorned young man figured out the directions for putting my loom together. For that, I paid him with an edible care package.

The old coot got nothing.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Directionally Challenged

Yesterday, I picked up my loom from the yarn store. It's kind of nice to get a late Christmas gift, but today, I'm challenged just putting the pieces together. Most of the loom is one piece, but I have to put on dowels and apron rods. So I've picked up the pieces and put them down a dozen times today already. The photos in the manual that came with this show just one half of the completed loom and not the other, and it shows how to put together the dowels and apron rods, but not how they attach to the loom.

In between attempts at putting the six parts of the loom together, I'm rolling grape leaves and making rice pudding. It's someone's fiftieth birthday at my house today, and since we know I'm older than that, you can surmise I'm not making my own birthday dinner. I'm making the time intensive dinner for someone else. I'm thankful that at least this meal is not one I need directions to make. I could do it blindfolded and half asleep.

That should come in handy.

Friday, January 15, 2010


I simply can't imagine what the people of Haiti are going through right now. A little earlier today, I was watching CNN and listening to an audio report by Anderson Cooper who was talking about the mass graves where no attempt at identification was made before bodies were placed there. How sad. It's such a tragic situation.

I'm hopeful the help these people need will get there soon.

I'm sure by now that those who would donate to a humanitarian support mission have done so by now. I know that my family has. We gave what we could to MSF (Doctors Without Borders). They really do excellent work. I'm amazed at the generosity of doctors and nurses who donate their time or make careers of working in such extreme conditions. I wish them well and pray for their safety.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Yarn Diet

Rudee's new kitchen and the reason she is officially on a yarn diet.

Tonight I had to call the yarn store and tell them to put the yarn they were holding for me back on the shelf.

I can't afford it...not when I have home inspectors to pay, appliances to select and window treatments to buy.

It's all over now except the signing of a gazillion more pieces of paper. We close at the end of our lease here in March and once again, we'll be moving.

Being no fool, I'm going to start packing now.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


After signing a gazillion forms, the ball is now in the listing agent's court. It's been awhile since I've signed mortgage documents, but it's clear that industry is not in least bit green. There were more pieces of paper and signatures for making an offer on a home than I gather to admit patients into hospice. You know, if you really think about that, it's quite an astonishing statement.

Of course, with the deed done, I'm second guessing things tonight, but really? The house is pretty much perfect and I can envision my things fitting there quite well. In my mind's eye, we, and the yarn, are all but moved in.

To help keep me occupied while I anticipate being laughed at for our bid, I started to look up quotes from Winnie the Pooh. I loved Owl in the original movies. He was always so preposterous with the things he said, but at the same time, very polished sounding. My search took me to IMDB where I picked up these lines from Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day:

Owl: This is just a mild spring zephyr compared to the big wind of '67. Or was it, uh, '76? Oh, well, no matter. Oh, I remember the big blow well.
Piglet: I'll remember this one, too.
Owl: It was the year my Aunt Clara went to visit her cousin. Now, her cousin was not only gifted on the glockenspiel, but being a screech owl, also sang soprano in the London Opera.
Winnie the Pooh: [muffled, with a honey pot in his face] Thank you, Piglet.
Owl: You see, her constant practicing so unnerved my aunt, that she laid a seagull egg by mistake. Whoooooooo!

I've seen that video 800,000 times. No lie. It's a particular favorite of Rachel's and we would watch it over and over and over again.

Have you seen this video, or heard the voice of the actor who played Owl? It's the same actor (Hal Smith) who played Otis Campbell, the town drunk, on The Andy Griffith Show. To my ears, they sound nothing alike.

If you're bored enough that your still reading my nervous drivel, Hal hails from Petoskey, Michigan.

Who knew?

Since it's obvious we all need something to do while we wait to hear the news, here's a nice little song to serenade us:

I always thought Carly Simon was a beautiful woman. I saw her once on the ferry going to Martha's Vineyard. As pretty as she was in photos, this woman was stunning in person.

Now, where in the world did I put the Pepcid?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Holding My Breath

We found a house.

The house.

Wish us luck. We're putting an offer in tomorrow at 3:30PM.

Oh, God. I'm nauseous.

When Only Wool Will Do

It's my second blog anniversary. My how time flies. I'm truly appreciative of everyone who follows and comments. I'm even appreciative of those who lurk around but may be too shy or too busy to venture forth into commenting. Really. Feel free...I don't bite. The only people who get their comments deleted are those who spam me, or those who link their less than desirable sites (I swear, I don't need a Russian mail order bride, so would you please quit trying to sell me one?).

Borrowing from the Hobbits, I've begun a tradition here of giving away a gift when I'm the one celebrating. Last year, it was Brenda who won my Clapotis shawl. To hear her tell, she loves it and so does her grandchild.

A contemporary gift for a second anniversary is china and while I like china well enough, I don't make any. A more traditional gift is cotton, but I don't work with the stuff. Once I knit a baby sweater for a friend entirely out of Blue Sky Alpaca's Cotton. It was beautiful, and I hear little Ethan has been wearing that sweater, but I didn't enjoy knitting this. Cotton is hard on the hands, or at least it is on mine. No, I work almost exclusively with wool. Good wool. Soft wool. Once in awhile, I stray into silk or bamboo, and once, camel, but for the most part, it's wool that I like. I had great fun knitting my blog giveaway mittens and especially because I used one of my favorite wools: Manos del Uruguay. This is a special product from start to finish and I feel good when I buy this yarn. Click on the link to find out why.

There could only be one winner of these mitts and I can't think of a person who unexpectedly needs these more right now, but I didn't pick her. The random number generator site did.

Gail, It's freezing down in your neck of the woods, isn't it? I bet you're totally unprepared for weather like this. I'm pleased that when you make the rounds on your farm, your hands will be toasty in these mitts. Please, send me your address again. Even though I just snail-mailed you a thank you note, you'd be wrong if you thought I filed your address in a safe place! Good thing I don't work for the postal service.;-)

Congratulations! I hope they help to keep you warm.

Thanks to everyone for your kind comments and for entering my giveaway.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Last Chance to Win Mittens Interrupted

This is the last chance to win these mitts--quick--before I change my mind. It's freaking freezing here! Entry ends tonight (Sunday) at 11:59 PM. A winner will be drawn by random number generator.

All you have to do to win them is leave a comment. How hard is that? Just be sure to speak up on the original post here. doesn't matter where you live. I'll ship. According to the weather map, these would come in handy pretty much anywhere lately.

May a little luck be with you.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Ixnay on the Ousehay

The adorable little yellow house was absolutely wretched. Wretched, I say. The living room, the size of a postage stamp, had room for perhaps two chairs. The remodeled kitchen? Well, let's just say that nothing was level and the granite is pulling away from the counter. The cabinets, what there were of them, were as cheap as they come. Now I'm no snob, but if those homeowners spent 9 months, and a small fortune on this remodel, then they were fools and so were the bankers who financed them.

The self cleaning oven was filthy, which completely escapes me since with the push of a few buttons, it can clean itself. And the fridge? I made the near lethal mistake of opening the door. The homeowners left it full of now rotting food. Blech.

The master bedroom was a bit larger than the living room and had an adjacent bath and toilet that were right there in the room. There wasn't a door. Now I love my husband, but even after 2,200 years together, there are still some things I insist can only happen behind closed doors. Can you imagine what would get on all of your belongings with every flush? Disgusting to even think about. The straw that broke the camel's back was when my very tall husband whacked his head on the door frame going up the stairs. I think his cursing was heard downtown...something about an effing doll house, or something in that vein. You get the picture.

Now that the bubble has burst, we're back to square one. We did go see another home and while it was cutely decorated, it was tiny, too, and needed work.

I don't get the hardwood floor thing. If you're going to have them, they should be finished. Worn finishes on floors really stretch the boundaries of shabby chic. But really? The chocolate chip cookies were a nice touch, so many thanks to the homeowner for that.

This evening, we're off to see a home that was a complete remodel (I'll believe it when I see it), but lacks a garage. The price seems fairly decent and it's quite a bit larger than the other two we saw.

How expensive can a garage be?

ETA: Well here are more questions: in addition to the garage, how expensive can the closets be (because in a 3 bedroom home, there was only one), or gutters, or landscaping, or hooking up the water supply to the fridge, or a hand rail for the steps, or a gate? Because to my eye, that's what's missing. I'm sure I'm only scratching the surface in respect to the complete remodel. We were told the yard was dug up to lay new gas lines. Any bet as to what's under the 6 inches of snow? All in all? Not such a great house. The kitchen was the smallest I've ever seen.

Reminder: You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


I like yellow. It's such a cheerful color, don't you think?

Be not deceived by the appearance of what's hiding behind so much greenery. Since these photos were taken eight months ago when this house was first listed, someone has done something to tame the jungle. In their wake, they've exposed an adorable Craftsman style home built around 100 years ago. It's so close that I can see it from my bathroom window and I never knew it existed. Who could with that overgrown garden?

It's small, but I'm intrigued.

The last owner paid nearly $250,000 for this place and proceeded to gut this home. They put on the new, cheerful siding, a new drive and deck, a new granite kitchen and two completely remodeled baths. Now I don't know if the tub in the master suite is new or 100 years old, but I'm kind of charmed by the appearance. We were told by neighbors that the rebuild took nine months and the owners threw good money at their projects. The entire house is wired with surround sound--inside and out. The back yard is fenced and that's perfect for welcoming a new pup, or two.

We've scoured this city of ours for a couple of weeks and we're kind of tired of it all. So many are asking exorbitant prices for their homes. Insane by today's standards, but really, I think they're just asking to get out what they've put into them. In better times, I couldn't afford to live where we're looking, but these are not normal times. These homeowners, and undoubtedly, the bank, are all losing their arses. If we like and buy this home, we're the ones who'll be making out.

We're going to see it Saturday.

I'm putting all of my hope in respect to house hunting into one basket. It's exactly one block from our current house. I mean really, a couple of dollies and some strong backs, and we'll be all moved in. Who needs a truck?

Well, I might for the yarn.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Free, to a Loving Home

And no, it's not a puppy. If I find one of those, I'm keeping it for myself.

I didn't have the opportunity to finish up all of my works in progress this past month. I had lots of plans for those three day holiday weekends, but alas, I was led astray by new projects. In between Christmas and the New Year, I knit two neck warmers, one hat and a pair of mittens. I think it was defensive knitting, because let me tell you, cold is such a weak adjective to describe our weather lately. Frigid, biting and arctic come to mind as suitable alternatives.

So I've been using wool and indulging in knitting things to keep a human warm. Instead of the above items, I should have knit a hot water bottle holder, but there's still time.

These are Mittens Interrupted, pattern by Eunny Jang, and were featured in the Fall, 2008 issue of Interweave Knits. Knit with Manos del Uruguay, in two separate colors using linen stitch in the flat and in the round, I wouldn't call this mindless knitting, but neither would I call it difficult.

Do you like them?

Do you want them?

Leave a comment here sometime before Sunday, January 10th at 11:59 PM, and on January 11th, my blog anniversary date, I'll throw your name into the hat for a chance to win these pretty mittens. Since most of the world is in a deep freeze these days, I couldn't think of a better treat to thank you for being such loyal friends.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

In My Dreams

Yesterday, my television was in use for football all day long. Worried I'd miss the premiere of the HGTV dream home, I recorded it on DVR and watched it as I fell asleep. I dreamt I won the house.

When I accept my prize this year, I'll be sure to extend an invitation to all of you to visit. Don't bother trying to win this yourself, as I have it on good authority that it's all mine. That little casita? Well I think I'll turn that into my fiber arts room, complete with a loom, a wheel and more yarn than you can shake a knitting needle at.

Wish me luck...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Flipping Out

When I bought my spinning wheel last spring, I had no plans other than to learn to spin. Although a work in progress, I think I'm doing fairly well on this front. There is a drawback to all of this yarn making business though, and that's figuring out what to do with all of the yarn I make. I've only used a little bit of it, and I've given even less of it away. Some spinners are selling their creations at the local yarn store, but I haven't. I'm hoarding it for some reason.

Needless to say, my handspun is piling up and threatens to take over the house. Some has been sacrificed for the learning process, such as learning cable plying techniques. That took a lot of fiber, and makes an interesting looking yarn. The final product reminds me of rope. I have no idea what I'll use it for, but the process of producing two 2-ply yarns then replying those together in the opposite direction was entertaining.

In part, I love the way the handspun looks when it's finally plied, skeined and twisted. I tend to fill a bowl on the table and display what I've spun as art and there it sits. Once it's knit, my yarn takes on different characteristics that I may not like as much as the presentation of the skein. What's a spinner to do?

Well there is a way to take my yarn and turn it into something that appears to keep the qualities that I like about my handspun, but to do that, I'll need some different equipment and a whole new skill set.

Enter Santa, suspiciously disguised as my husband. He gave me a loom. Though I've yet to receive this back ordered item, it's on its way. For now, it's OK that it's not here because, frankly, I need to study some new vocabulary so I can at least sound half way intelligent when I speak about my spiffy new Schacht Flip Folding Rigid Heddle Loom.

I mean, really, what's a warp? Or a weft? Or for that matter, a heddle? I see I have a lot of prep to do before I even take the loom out of its carrying case.

Those elves better step on it; I'm a very quick learner.