Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Looking for pumpkin carving videos, I ran across this one. I've no clue who this scientist is, but her laugh is infectious and her carving techniques are quite unique. Sadly, lacking this woman's clever tools, I'll have to carve my pumpkin the old fashioned way.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Literally man's best friend

It's apparent to me, for the first time ever in my relationships with canines, that my dog has attached himself to the males in the house. It's them he adores. Me? I may be the one who feeds him twice a day, and I may be the one who remembers to buy him his favorite treats (Frosty Paws) at the store, but I am not the one for whom he would take a bullet. That honor belongs to the man, any man, of the house. I picked him out of the pack of abandoned Dobermans and rescued him from a life of woe. I took him to the vet for a look-see and shots, I cover him with a blanket when he shivers on cold nights, and I buy him all of his visits to Camp Bow Wow so he can lord it over other dogs. How does he repay my demonstration of love? With devotion to men.

Last night, Leo completely lost his mind when at about midnight, my son showed up with two of his friends and the three of them took over the basement. They camped out here so they could all take off at the crack of dawn to drive to State College, Pennsylvania for the Michigan/Penn State game tonight. I hope they got some sleep because I don't think the dog did. In fact, he got a lot of exercise running between my husband who was upstairs and the young men camping in the basement about 800,000 times last night. He took complete joy in jumping on the air mattresses and distributing his happiness amongst them. He came upstairs to see me once and only because I asked if he wanted a cookie.

Apparently, I'm completely superfluous to this dog.


If you watch the game tonight (8 PM), look for three handsome young men clad in maize and blue. They'll be holding their one friend's over-sized image which is glued to a stick. He was unable to make it to the game and these guys don't go to any Michigan game without Trevor.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Opportunity Knocks?

Right next door to my house, I can see that the neighborhood Morning Glory has set up shop in the stump of a tree. This is one intrepid plant that amazes me. I'm not entirely sure how it got from Kaye's house all the way across the street and jumped on an opportunity that, unlike me, once presented, could not be refused.

While I was busy knitting, Pretty Thing, for my best friend, she was busy hatching a scheme of her own that involved me. On Tuesday, she called and offered me my old job back. Though it's tempting, so close to retirement, I find I just can't do that. My friend has no say over pay, but what they offered was my old job back at 1998 wages. This represents about a 25% cut in my current pay, and while I'm honored they respect my work and would want me back, I'm not so honored they still find little worth in the professional nurse in their practice. The person who made the financial offer told Fanette to tell me that maybe I could stay contingent with my current employer to make up the difference. Why would they think I'd want to work 60 hours a week when I already think 40 is more than I can handle? Even though I can guarantee that working for a urology practice would provide great writing fodder, I accept that sometimes you just can't go back. I would have jumped on this offer if it had been a financially lateral (or even somewhat closer) move.

Recognizing I won't be changing jobs soon, I'm preparing for the loss of daylight on the afternoon shift and have purchased a powerful mag lite. I will not go through another winter of guessing at addresses.

I finished Pretty Thing (you have to double click that picture to really appreciate the glory of this cowl) two days ago, but only got around to blocking it this morning. It's absolutely gorgeous. I found a skein of, Road to China Light (alpaca, cashmere, camel & silk) in Peridot and in my stash, that should make an equally beautiful, Pretty Thing, for my lovely daughter.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sending out an SOS

Eight more days until election day and a respite from the glut of political ads. I've tried valiantly to avoid the advertising by recording the shows I want to watch and then fast forwarding through the ads. It's hard to do when I'm knitting and especially hard when I'm trying to concentrate while knitting lace. The ads sometimes get to play and I'm sick to death of them all.

Knitting lace by the light of the laptop is not the brightest thing, but I make it work.
Notice the clever use of virtual sticky notes I use to keep track of what row I'm on (I think the Yarn Harlot would approve).

Saturday night, I cast on the Yarn Harlot's, Pretty Thing. It was my way of trying to rid my mind of all of the ugly: continued woes with Banksters, mortgage fraud, and possibly illegal foreclosures, disgusting he said-she said, political ads, a dad who scalded and drowned his two toddlers, a local banker who was murdered, a new Al Qaeda threat imploring the Muslim community in Detroit to commit acts of name it...the news is depressing. I needed something pretty to knit and I chose to knit it for Fanette. In 100% cashmere. In fact, it's in cashmere that was priced at $28 a ball (80 yards per ball). Two years ago, I picked up two balls of the pale pink luxury fiber at the bargain basement price of $10 total and I waited patiently for the yarn to talk to me. It finally spoke on Saturday night, so of course, I dropped everything else and cast on.

The pattern is easy to memorize and worth every penny. Only 61 rows long, it should be done sometime today. I hope Fanette likes it and feels every thought for comfort and peace that I put into every stitch.

"Message In A Bottle"
by, The Police

Just a castaway
An island lost at sea
Another lonely day
With no one here but me
More loneliness
Than any man could bear
Rescue me before I fall into despair

I'll send an SOS to the world
I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

A year has passed since I wrote my note
But I should have known this right from the start
Only hope can keep me together
Love can mend your life
But love can break your heart

I'll send an SOS to the world
I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Walked out this morning
Don't believe what I saw
A hundred billion bottles
Washed up on the shore
Seems I'm not alone at being alone
A hundred billion castaways
Looking for a home

I'll send an SOS to the world
I'll send an SOS to the world
I hope that someone gets my
Message in a bottle

Sending out an SOS

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Enhancing the Stash

Wouldn't that make a great title for a book? Of course it would probably only appeal to fiberholics like me, and maybe you, too.

Because of the week I had, I overslept this morning. After a cup of coffee, I took off by myself for the Ann Arbor Fiber Expo, a short 50 mile drive away.

I won't tell you how much I spent, but I did manage to spend all the overtime I earned this week and probably then some. I bought quite a bit of spinning fiber from my friends Sarah and Emily, who happened to have booths there and bought a couple of skeins of alpaca yarn. I even splurged and bought a pair of alpaca socks because my feet were cold. Not that I couldn't knit them myself, but I couldn't for $15, so I bought them. I'm wearing them right this moment and my feet are toasty warm.

The show was excellent, maybe even better than the Allegan event in August, but the best thing of all was how all of the different fiber artists managed to inspire me. I came home and spun a beautiful purple alpaca blend and mixed in hot pink locks of the curly Lincoln for texture. This special yarn, only 52 yards, will be what I use for the cuffs of a pair of mittens. It's the first time I've sat at my wheel since the summer when I injured my back again, and it felt good. Really good.

My friends were geeked because, Jillian, from, came by their booths and loved their fibers. They're such amazing fiber artists and have thrown their all into making this interest their livelihoods. I'm thrilled for them that they're getting the attention they deserve.

Leo would like you all to know that there is no truth to the rumor that he was huffing the angora fumes, even though I caught him red-pawed. When he pulled his head out of the bag, he had white angora fibers stuck to his nose. He also likes the game of swatting at the treadles on my wheel and fiddling with the flyer. He's always entertained by the spinning wheel and the abundance of fiber floating around the room.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Cautionary Tale

Wednesday was a beautiful autumnal day that gave way to a gift from our Canadian friends: a freezing cold front bearing torrential rains. I was driving on Cemetery Road, (would I kid you?), out in the middle of No Man's Land, when the rain started pouring down. It was so windy that it looked like it was snowing gold. Those were the leaves on trees that were blown off during the storm and were flying through the air. I could barely see where I was going in this area with no street lights and I was exhausted. In addition to seeing 3 patients, which doesn't sound like a lot, I drove 194 miles between them, which was. A lot.

Lulled into complacency by the beautiful weather we've had for the entire summer and the months of September and October, I'd not washed any of my sweaters and found myself completely unprepared for the cold. Forecasters say this will be a cold and snowy winter and I've done nothing. Now I'm sorry and have fixed that, but for one sweater, a cashmere beauty, it was too little, too late. The moths had gotten to it and it's my fault because in the middle of moving last March, I'd neglected to wash all of my sweaters. I just put them into moving boxes and forgot about them.

While taking them to the dry cleaner's would have at least protected them by killing the moths that I'd probably brought in on my unclean sweaters, washing them before packing them away would have done the same. I don't like the smell of wool that's been dry cleaned, so I didn't even consider this possibility. I should have, because I knew better. Washing is relatively easy, and one need not fear the potential for felting or shrinking wool if you do it right.

Fill your top loader (which most knitters want) with cold water and a couple of cap fulls of your favorite soak. I use Eucalan.

Lay your like-colored knit wear on top of the water and keep the lid of the machine up so it doesn't engage the motor. The last thing you want is to mix water, soap AND agitation. You'll create felt and give yourselves the makings of a real pity party.

If you live with other humans who know how to use a washing machine, post a sign that uses at least one exclamation point. This lets your housemate know that you mean business.

Set the timer for at least 30 to 45 minutes or do like me and go knit a few rows on a never-ending project. When the time is up, go back to the machine, bypass the wash cycle and go straight to the drain and spin cycle. Say a little prayer and then walk away until the machine signals it's done.

Remove the articles of now clean wool and lay them flat to dry on a towel--reshaping them while you do.

Show your friends a close up of the continued loft of your yarn, fabulous stitch definition and lack of felting they'll find if they follow your directions.

Show your friends the remains of a beautiful cashmere sweater, and proof that there will be a heavy price to be paid for sloth.

Moral of the story? Working can't wait and moths love dirty wool.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

She's on my mind

It crosses my mind that I forgot to give you a review of the movie, Red. My son and I went to see it last Friday, and while it was an OK movie, my advice is wait to see it in DVD release. One thing I learned from my parents is that if you can't say something good about something or someone, it's best to say nothing at all. I will say I'm disappointed that all of the things that made me laugh in the trailers were the best parts of the movie and therefore, I'd already seen the funny parts. Zombieland was better. And free.

Sunday is full moon movie night with my best friend. Since it's the eve of a delicate anniversary for her, and really all of us who loved her daughter, I let her choose the flick. To my complete and utter shock, she has selected, Hereafter. When I asked Fanette if she was sure about this, she said, "what better time could there be?" Hereafter, it is then and between now and Sunday, I'll stock up on tissues.

For the entire summer, numbers and days have been coming up for my friend. Seven. Seven years since we laid her daughter to rest. Twenty seven. The age she would have been right now. Apparently, she's noticed the days have lined up like they haven't in seven years. Her daughter died on Monday the 25th and was buried Friday the 29th. For her, these anniversaries are more painful then previous years and she has been feeling trepidation, particularly with the number seven. She's convinced herself that seven is the amount of years it takes for constant stress to take a toll on a sufferer and make its presence known in the form of something physically horrific.

Though I can't alleviate her burden, nor make her feel better about the number seven, I can be there to watch this movie with her. According to Rodger Ebert, this is an excellent and thoughtful movie from, Clint Eastwood, about what may happen when we die.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

One thing and then another

It started this morning with a glance at the baseboards in the bathroom. I wiped away the offending layer of dust and not a few dobie hairs. This only served to make me notice the spots that hadn't been wiped clean. Four hours later, the lower level of the house is sparkling. Stainless steel appliances, floors and furniture have been polished to within a fraction of their original finishes and the windows are pup-kiss free (for now).

It feels good, and now I (and my hips) need a lie down, but it's time to get ready for the work that keeps my yarn studio stocked.

Maybe I'll sleep well tonight. A reward, if you will, for a morning and afternoon of hard labor. A girl can dream, but only if it's possible for an insomniac to sleep. Tonight's the night.

My knitting accomplishments for Haven are accumulating. I've knit 2 hats, one cowl, and one block for the afghan. Three more blocks and I'll be calling that project a day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Just a dog and his ball...

Um....what do you mean it's not my ball?

Leo invoking the right to keep what's his and stating plainly with that look that possession is nine-tenths of dog law.

Just so ya know, that ball was fully inflated before he stole it off the dining room counter top.

The funeral for Wilson will be tomorrow at 9 AM, sharp.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Adventures of Rudee

While my knitting projects have been straight up and rather boring lately, my nursing escapades have not. I took a vacation day today for the hell of it, and after a nice long lie-in, I'm finally up and preparing something I can knit in the dark while my son and I are at the movies this afternoon. We're going to see, Red.

My son is one of my movie-going buddies. After his classes yesterday, he came home and announced we were going to watch Woody Harrelson in, Zombieland, and promptly turned it on. While this genre of movie isn't typically my cup of tea, and I really hate movies that scare me, this particular picture was funny. We laughed off and on for close to two hours.

It was then that I got the call out to see someone at a campground.

No lie.

Thinking it was a joke, I explored further. I'd seen this person in a brick and mortar home more than once, but had no idea that camping had sounded like a good idea for a rainy October vacation to that family, and now that the patient had a need for a nurse, we were going to drag that nurse kicking and pouting all the way to a campground and just after she'd finished watching Zombieland.

Imagine yourself trying to find a needle in a haystack in the darkness of night and you have an idea of what I was trying to find last night--a camping patient staying forty miles from my home. If I hadn't known this person, I would not have gone.

I did get in and out of there without running into any zombies, but it was incredibly creepy to such an imaginative human. I'm still trying to get the hairs on the back of my neck to lay flat again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Quickie

Is there a better name for a quickie project than, Wham Bam Thank You Lamb!? I don't think so.

Started during a work lull last night, and I may have cursed myself by doing so (late call--late time clocking out), I finished it up this afternoon. It's another project for, Haven, a shelter for abused women, and our Ravelry knitting group, Knit for Good.

It took, maybe, 5 hours, due in no small part to the yarn, Lion Brand Wool Ease--Thick and Quick (another stash-buster). I lost the ball band, but it's a heathered charcoal color. The cowl is a garter stitch rectangle with the cast on and bind off edges seamed asymmetrically. It's gorgeous. I need one of these, too.

The pattern? Free on Ravelry, and no lie, quick and very cheap. This is in keeping with my premise that anything knit from stash didn't cost me a dime.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Quick knits

A group of us are meeting once a month to knit for a shelter for women. Our first meeting was last Sunday, and while those knitting with super bulky yarns finished their first projects in one night, mine took me a bit longer.

I chose a hat, Cabled Beret, a free pattern on Ravelry, and knit it with stash...Nashua's Creative Focus in some shade of yummy green.

I think my next project will be with a bulky wool. I'm thinking the Burberry Inspired Cowl (also free) would be nice (and quick). After that, I have to think up a stitch pattern for afghan blocks. Four of them.

What's on your needles?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

At a loss

Losing important items is at the top of the list of things that concern me of late. I feel a bit like I'm losing my mind--and believe me, with a family history of Alzheimer's, I worry about this losing of things. Michigan lost today, but that doesn't bother me as much as losing my driver's license, the charger for my camera battery, or the neatly bundled double point needles which is what sent me into finally organizing my knitting room in the first place. The needles are still missing in action, but believe it or not, I'm not done reorganizing all that I apparently own.

I've outed my yarn and fiber stash before on this site, but even I'm a little taken aback at what seems to be the beginning of a yarn store. I honestly believe that if I never bought yarn again, I'd still have enough to knit until the end of days. The last time I showed photos of my yarn stash, my sister told me she wouldn't buy me yarn for Christmas because she wasn't "going to feed into that." it's a problem or something. Ha.

Someone who does like to feed the yarn beast is Sara. She made me this project book using ideas from Martha Stewart's website. I've not used it yet, but now that I found it (buried in the mess), I will.

This room is the smallest bedroom in the house. In fact, if I had my bedroom upstairs and had no need of a knitting room, I'd have probably converted this space into the mother of all closets. Before I began reorganizing, that's sort of what it was. Oh who am I kidding? It was turning into a junk room.

I read an interesting article about organizing yarn by color weight. So instead of separating by types of yarn, like lace weight, DK, worsted, or even fiber content, I organized by color family. This is the right side of the shelves with the creams, beige, greens and multi-color blends.

And here is the left side with reds, blues, purples and the bottom shelf which has yarns grouped for special projects. Once I started putting the yarn up, my hands just automatically went to where my eye thought they belonged. Interestingly, when I look at the pictures, it makes sense. Don't red and blue combine to make purple? I didn't plan it this way, but using what I'd read, I just let it happen. It looks good to me, and I have to say, this space feels so right and incredibly special even thought it isn't quite done.

I still need to find the perfect rug and window treatments. I did think about a piece of furniture I had built to fit a mudroom over at Rachel's house. It was a built in bench that a woodworker made for me. We never secured it into the walls and it's not being used now, so I'm re-purposing that piece for bench seating beneath the windows and built in storage. I'll have cushions made for that spot so it'll be cozy.

Grouped together, I think the colors are kind of appealing to the eye.

Now here is the interesting thing...I always thought I bought a lot of green yarn, but apparently, I just buy, and make, an extreme amount of all colors of yarn. Did I mention that this is in no way all of it?

It's a start to being better organized and creating a space that's all my own. Here's hoping those needles show up one of these days.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Blue and Green

Today is a huge day for Michigan football fans as the unbeaten University of Michigan Wolverines take on the unbeaten Michigan State Spartans at, The Big House. That would be U of M's stadium, but to most Michigan fans, it's a place of worship where in Rod (coach, Rich Rodriguez) they trust. Maize and blue or green and white flags are flying everywhere. Pumpkins are painted with an M or an S, people are clad in their team's colors, and the weather, a glorious 71 degrees and sunny, is cooperating. My daughter is coordinating a party today for a couple who were married last night. The couple are interscholastic. She went to Michigan and he went to State. That should make for not only an interesting party, but a marriage with lots of spark.

My son, who is a rabid Michigan fan, will be in the crowd--first row of the student section--and I always love seeing his face on the ESPN post game clips. Look for the kid with the wacky bright blue wig. My son will be the young man standing just next to him. He has yet to miss a home game and has become a regular at a tailgate party hosted by a woman who lives 200 yards from the stadium. For some reason, the boy thinks I should go to one of these tailgates and then to a game. It's not really my thing, but since he keeps inviting me, perhaps I should go. The problem is, I have no maize and blue gear. Maybe I could knit something up...

I have no football plans today. In fact, I'm going to take advantage of the fact that everyone else will either be home watching the game or taking up a seat at a bar, and I'm heading off to look for a storage system to go into my freshly painted yarn room.

I'd be disowned if I didn't add this:

Go Blue!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Puddle of Love

First thing this morning, I was forced to make a snap decision on the paint color for the knitting room. I went to the home depot web site and selected a shade called, Sonata. I loved the name and it's a beginning for this very special room. Still not convinced what I'll do with the rest of the room, I'm thinking basic shelves from Ikea and a rug from my favorite tchotchke store, Leon and Lulu's.

The chair I'll use is the rocking/glider I used to rock my babes when they were just itty-bitty creatures. And I'm on the hunt for a funky desk to use as a work station. Think George Jetson, or rather, Jane.

The windows will be a challenge, but for an organic look, I'm thinking bamboo.

It's coming together, and it all started with a promise from my sweety to get the painting done today. I'm so glad he did.

Thank you, honey.

Of course, it doesn't escape me that he likely wants a place for me to hide my yarn away, but I like to believe he's painting that room because he loves me.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Universe

Something is amiss in the cosmos. We've been slammed at work since late last week and I have to tell you, I'm exhausted. I worked 2 hours on Saturday to catch up from Friday, and on Sunday, a friend plead with me to attend the semiannual hospice memorial. I haven't had a break from hospice stuff in a week and a half. Last night, I ran from 4PM until 1 AM and stopped only once at a local coffee shop to stock up on caffeine and use the facilities--it was the little girl's room that was most important. I then hit the road and put 150 miles on my ride. Once home, I reported off to the next shift and went to bed without shutting off my phone.

That's a mistake I won't be repeating tonight.

I can't believe the day shift people, people. Why would someone call my home at 8:12 AM when report made it plain that I'd worked overtime? There wasn't just one call, there were 3 between the first and the last at 8:35 AM. If people could READ, they'd see that everything they wanted to know had already been reported. Hello? What's the point of killing myself to get my documentation done if nobody looks at it?

Believing the universe to be done crapping on me, and since I was already up early, I went to the Secretary of State to get a driver's license to replace the one I lost. I waited 2 hours with a sea of humanity, many with bad hygiene and some looking too sick to be out mingling with the healthy. I had number 34, which I didn't think was too bad, but when I heard them call number 68 first, I realized there were 66 people ahead of me.

What's a girl to do? I knit. I got two solid hours of knitting done on those socks and so I guess in the overall scheme of it, things weren't all that bad. If I'm sick tomorrow, I'm going to be angry, but at least I'm ahead on the socks.

As the midnight hour is approaching, I'm overcome with desire to call the three women who awakened me this morning and ask them each something stupid, like, is your refrigerator running? If so, you better catch it before it gets away. Better yet, "did I wake you?" That's the one stupid question I like best at 8 AM. Yes, you did. Nobody ever offers to hang up and each only has a quick question. By the time they're done asking, I'm up. For good. I just hate when I forget to shut off my phone.

It's childish, but I really want to call them right now. Instead, I'll just shut off my phone and go to bed as soon as the big and little hands are on the twelve.

Sweet dreams.

Monday, October 4, 2010


I don't like that some people know what I don't and can't know, but feel they must share cryptically with the rest of us in order to keep us safe. Half a story is all they'll share. I'd much rather have the whole story. Really. I think I can take it.

And I don't like that my sister is in London right now. I wish she'd finish up her business and get home.

Once again, terrorists win with tactics and behavior typically used to incite fear.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Food for thought...

While it was so damned good on a cold autumn day, I should have had only one bowl of the bean chili that I made.

There is a possibility that one can have too much of a good thing.

Trust me.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Splitty. Is that a word?

True to their word, and maybe a little quicker than they said, Knitpicks sent me three skeins of Swish. What better way to decide if I like it than to cast on a swatch? In this case, I did two. Mitre number one.

And half mitre number two. It took as long to knit the half mitre as it took to knit the full mitre.

The yarn has beautiful stitch definition, but it is a little splitty. One moment the yarn has great twist, and the next, I'm accidentally sticking the needle between 6 plies of yarn. I could learn to live with that given the price of this yarn and the fact that it's 100% superwash merino.

It's the colors I'm not sure about. I like the medium and dark shades, but I think the light shade, Sugarplum, is a bit too light. Yep. I'm not diggin' it. I noticed in the bright light and in the photo that the light color makes the medium color look brown. Besides, don't you think that the lavender is so predictable for the light color?

I will say that after the way my week wound up going south in a hurry, I'm glad I have nothing more difficult to ponder than what colors to use for my next project. Besides, it's wet, cold and dreary around here today. Just the kind of day to stay wrapped and draped in wool.

Now how will I choose to spend this week's overtime? Splurge on Trendsetter's Merino VI? Or save a bundle and buy Knitpicks' Swish?

Decisions, decisions.