Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mail Call

What could this be?

Real Dogenal Tweed from Ireland...

be still my heart....

The camera can’t even begin to capture the depth and richness of this color. For those of you who have seen the CPH pattern in the Knitscene magazine, I can describe it by saying that appears to be the same vibrant green as the model was wearing. Up close the yarn has flecks of yellow, olive, black, and teal while the “main” strand is a blend of shades of green. This gives the yarn a dual life. From afar it is an assertive green, but up close it’s a party. I would be swatching right now, but the interchangeable needle set I bought hasn’t arrived yet. I am resisting the urge to drive to the store right now to get some. Be strong. Be strong.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Retail Therapy

Yesterday we spent hours painting and reassembling the upstairs kitchen. Three screws in the door for each hinge, two hinges, two screws for each handle, four screws to attach each door to the cabinet, two screws for the clasp in the cabinet, one screw for the clasp in the door. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. My hands were burning from fatigue, but the final result was worth it.
I wouldn’t normally consider it a compliment to have someone describe a room in my home as sterile, but sterile is a big improvement over the original condition of this kitchen. I thought of taking some more detailed “before” pictures but no one really needs to see years of old house / daycare kitchen crud, right?

We were rather in a rush to get finished since our house was going to be appraised today. In fact, some very nice people came a little over an hour ago and cruised through the place. After all fixing and cleaning and fussing I am glad to have THAT done. The house will get appraised one more time before the school district makes an offer, but it looks like we have some breathing room before that happens.

At this point I have accepted that the school district is going to buy this house. We knew that the school next door was at the top of the district’s bond list when we signed the papers. Emotionally though it’s hard to think of leaving this place that we have been making our own. Even though it is exciting to be looking for another house (and I am excited! We've even made an offer... shhh), it all adds up to a little bit of stress.

So, um, the online shopping pace seems to have picked up around here. I have been cruising the destash blog and ebay, and a plot to knit my first sweater is well under way (some of may have guessed from the recently added KAL button.) Also, a few other little projects might crop up as the yarn was just such. a. steal. The problem I’m having (at least this is what I’m telling myself) is that stuff one buys online just takes so long arrive. I mean, if the sweater supplies were already here, I wouldn’t be spending hours pouring over more patterns and more yarn for more projects, right? Humor me here.

I do want to unveil one fun little retail therapy item that *has* arrived though

Washi Pendant Necklace

Photos are by the Etsy seller, littleputbooks. Isn’t it just too cute? It’s made from a recycled scrabble tile. Well, enough rambling :)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Spring Bling

For my birthday I purchased some yarn to make the seed stitch hat from Vogue’s Accessorize. (Is it just me or does this chick look like she could use one of those jewel tooth implants?) Since the pattern book was still packed up and buried somewhere in the moving debris I thought that one skein would be enough.

After all this was a super bulky knit, wouldn’t 65 yards be enough yarn for a hat? But no, I needed two skeins.
Option A: buy more yarn (this would result in a $30 hat). Sigh.
Option B: Calorimetry
I have been developing a case of the winter clothing blah’s so I’m thinking I might just go in for the quick kill.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

Not long ago I was teaching Oedipus Rex to Sophomores. Tragedy can often be particularly difficult for students to engage with. For some it is the lack of a serious parallel in their own lives. For others, a dark piece of literature is just a depressing echo of an already grim reality. When familiarizing students with the cultural and historical context of a piece of literature, introducing and re-teaching skills, and keeping up with the continuous classroom chores (returning papers, making announcements) the “why” of what we do can often be lost. Why are we reading this? Why have the people before us read it? As I prepared to get students started, this quotation from Susan Snyder came to mind:

“In its unerring movement towards the inevitable conclusion, tragedy enacts the cadential rhythm of every human existence, even while it protests that inevitable end in its countermovement of expanding heroic self-realization.”

These particular kids were sharp, so I gave it to them unaltered and asked them take a minute to read it and paraphrase it in their own minds. When I asked for volunteers to share their thoughts, some of the students clearly resisted the idea that life itself is a tragedy, but a few others explored it. And their musings have led me to think more deeply.

We all must face death, both our own death and the deaths of those we love. Many other kinds of losses in our lives are deaths too – the deaths of hopes, dreams, or relationships. One way to view a literary tragedy is as a means to vicariously experience a loss and come to a more profound self-awareness. Obviously we’re hardly the first to ponder what this is all about – Socrates was exploring this idea when he defined catharsis. But really, what is there to be aware of? We may come to acknowledge that suffering is a real and painful problem – more so than we realized in our ignorant, insulated moments. We may even come to acknowledge our own frailty, arrogance, or transgression. But it is not enough if tragedy only brings us to the end of ourselves, but not the beginning of something else.

In looking closer, I discovered that I believed something much closer to what Victor Hugo put forth:

“The pupil dilates in the night and at last finds day in it, even as the soul dilates in misfortune, and at last finds God in it.” Les Miserables, Jean Valjean: Book Three - Chapter One

There is not an easy answer, because faith is not easy. But God’s transforming love, his sovereign power, his unknowable wisdom – our recognition and reliance on these in our relationship with him is what redeems tragedy.

As Christians all over the world celebrate this day as the start of a 40 day preparation for Easter, they are reminded that from dust we came, and to dust we return. But God’s power shines victorious over death – both physical and spiritual.

“So it will be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body… When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: ‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, I death is your sting?’
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 & 54-57

If you celebrate lent this year, I hope that it draws you ever closer to Him.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Goes Around Comes Around

Or... A Disappearing UFO and Two Gifts

I've been hinting at what would be in this post, but I wanted the three day weekend to put the finishing touches on everything. Drum roll please....

A friend of mine got a classy watch. I admired it and wished for a similar one. She graciously told me where she got it, but requested that I not get an identical one. Alas, when I looked at the watches it was the only one in the collection that caught my fancy. I decided to move on.

She got the watch for me :)

Inspiration for a suitable thank you struck in a rather round about way the other day. I was attempting a Center Square hat from brown Lamb’s Pride worsted and my multi-colored Berroco. It looked like a 70’s era kitchen accessory. I loved the chunky brown ribbing at the edge, but the orange just had to go. Was there anything in the stash that would pair nicely with the brown?

Poking around in the drawer, I found my longest neglected UFO. After I finished my birthday shawl last year, I had some Manos del Uruguay in “woodland” left over. I started knitting it together with some hemp twine to make a purse. Although I was very satisfied with the stitch definition and the overall sturdiness, the shape itself wasn’t charming me. It was going to be one of those purses that always hangs in the closet and doesn’t get any attention. Not big enough, not secure enough and I was tired of knitting the four foot long, 1.5 inch wide strap (can we all just agree that knitted straps should not be attempted?).

Clearly time to move on.

Yes. Ugly no more.

I even stitched in a synthetic fleece lining embroidered with the recipient’s initial.

H: Best wishes on your European adventure. I hope this will keep your ears warm for years to come.

This weekend I also finished off a set of coasters for a friend in my bible study. Gotta love that eyelash.

I am stash bustin! Woot!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Moderate Home Makeover

Since our house is going to be appraised for fair market value in the near future, we spent our day yesterday detrashing and fixin’up. The previous owners abandoned an assortment of empty beer bottles, McDonald’s toys, beauty product fliers and toxic chemicals when they left. We’ve just been stacking it all in the shop and ignoring it. Yesterday we hauled 760 pounds of trash to the dump (fear not, we did not mess with the hazardous stuff).

After that we worked on scrubbing the upstairs kitchen cabinets so we can get them painted and reassembled. This morning I was feeling muscles I didn’t even know I had.

With the lovely weather yesterday I did manage to get some pictures. One of Mr. M’s coworkers is moving away and she sold us this lovely tiger oak set. Of course Mr. M spotted the pieces first. He has an eye for high quality items. I was a little hesitant as I have never owned a piece of furniture that didn’t have an obvious function. Couch to sit on. Coffee table to put coffee mug on. Bed to sleep on. A petite writing desk was not on my list of necessary furniture items. But now that we’ve got them home I am enjoying them so much. The people who sold them to us graciously did so at a cost a young couple could afford.

Next we’re off to spend the rest of the long weekend celebrating a special family event.

Friday, February 16, 2007

House Update

Hello hello… sorry for the silence this week. Our town recently passed a bond to rebuild the school near our house, and we are in the “expansion zone” which means we are looking for a new place to live. Between substitute teaching and scouring the housing market there hasn’t been much time for other things! I did manage to get this curtain put up in our guest bedroom though. Friends and family who visit will no longer have to use flattened cardboard boxes to cover the window. (It’s safe to visit now guys).

The pattern is a little more funky than I would use in my own bedroom, but the rest of the guest room has blue trim that just matches the fabric. I’ve discovered that in decorating sometimes one should “just go with it.” Even with colors I wouldn’t normally choose, an apt accent piece or two that ties things together can make a space work for me.

Today I also raided the change cup to buy a few finishing touches for a knitted gift I’m working on. The poignant story of love, tragedy and redemption will be revealed soon!

Monday, February 12, 2007

First Blog FO

I finished Fetching today. Despite my small needle cast-on the things were still determined to roll up at the edge. I turned to the handywoman’s secret weapon – stretch bead cord. Just ran some around the bottom and tied it off. I don’t like the tourniquet feel so I kept it pretty loose, but it still cuts down on the flair. Imagine my surprise when I dropped by one of my favorite blogs and discovered this. This leads to some interesting questions… if you read a person’s blog do you somehow get on the same “knitting wave length” with him or her? Or does one naturally select other bloggers with whom one shares certain tastes? Anyway, do I even need to post pictures? I mean, those pretty much look EXACTLY like mine (sniff, sniff).

Yes, of course I’ll post pictures… it’s the first blog FO.

Maybe too many pictures.

Last one, really.

Friday, February 9, 2007


2 oz, 390 yard ball of 2 ply alpaca lace weight from American Alpaca Products
Their description: brown
Mine: milk chocolate

Wednesday, February 7, 2007


Had some fun the other day taking pictures of this lovely plant that Mr. M brought home for me.

I love how the petals start out so demure

and then within a day or two they look like some sort of fabulous medieval wimple.

Not too much progress on Fetching. I’m pretty much back to where I started before I frogged the first time. Today the phone rang for Mr. M at 4:30. By the time I got called at 6:40 to go sub middle school language arts it felt as if I had slept in! They had me cover for the science teacher during my prep, so it was a 7 period day. I’m not entirely sure that nature intended a ratio of 26 middle school age children to one adult ;) However I am grateful that it went much better than last time.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Fetching On A Cloudy Day

Yesterday I started working on the Fetching wrist warmers using a ball of Karabella’s Aurora 8 from the stash (hmmmm must have neglected to mention that in the orange post). Although is a relatively small and simple knit, there is a bit of suspense involved. The pattern states that “one pair takes an entire skein with less than a yard of yarn left over… but every knitter is different.” Aurora 8 has the same weight and yardage as Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, but that is no guarantee that I will be able to eek it out. We shall see.

While Aurora 8 is the softest wool I have ever knitted, it is also the most elastic, which has taken some adjusting. Initially, I cast on with size 6 needles as the pattern recommended. Ha, ha. The second time with size 5’s was more successful. As you can see though, my “knitting on” cast on flared out quite a bit from the body of the knitting. This was only accentuated after the cable rounds which drew the knitting tighter.

After taking the above pictures I frogged what I had so far. For the next go I think I will cast on and work one round with 4’s then switch to the 5’s. I'm lovin' the cables, if I can just avoid the rolling edge...

Sunday, February 4, 2007

Orange Horizon

For a long time my go-to colors have been black and green. Black is all about how one wears it; it can be grungy and rebellious or chic and sophisticated.Come to think of it, it can be grungy and chic or rebellious and sophisticated too. Wearing black allows one to become versed in the grammar of silhouette. Black has as many personalities as the average teenager, maybe even more, which made it a great companion through adolescence and into the early twenties.

Then there was green. That’s a story for another day.

Recently though, a whole spectrum of colors has suddenly caught my attention. Some of the credit certainly goes to my grandmother, who has decorated her stylish modern home with warm orange and brown textiles. As much as I have always admired her taste, orange just seemed to brazen and bright to get along with the rest of my wardrobe. An orange shirt or two spent their time with me languishing in the closet before being passed on to better homes.

But this Thanksgiving my grandmother showed me some skeins of yarn that she had bought in Italy. One yarn in particular was enchanting. It was variegated dark brown, deep orange and off white and had a unique roving like feel. Hmmm… maybe just a hat? And with that, orange had its foot in the door… and so did brown. In the last month or so (a la Harlot) I have acquired a few pet skeins.

Malabrigo yarn’s lovely Aquarella line of super bulky thick & thin in the enchanting Coronilla color. A rich chocolaty brown with undertones or orange and purple.

Berroco’s Ultra Alpaca (50% wool, 50% alpaca) #6227
A more rusty, laid-back orange.

Berroco’s Foliage (53% new wool, 47% acrylic) #5954
The yarn that started it all.

This makes a heap of yarn.

The love of my life, who offers both financial and emotional support for the knitting habit, does not really want to encourage stashing behavior, so I've been plotting to turn the mountain into a hat/scarf/wristwarmer set. But don't you know it, the right set of patterns hasn't materialized. Any suggestions?

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Two Chairs

The view during breakfast. What could be lurking on that chair?

Why it's a free color card from Blackwater Abbey Yarns.

Will We Keep the House?