Wednesday, June 25, 2008

There's No People Like Fiber People

Don't you just love fiber people? You know, the way they're the first ones to help you with a tricky technique or to help you find the last skein of "Mango Melon Surprise" in an obscure dye lot to help you finish a project? They're totally kind, generous and (to the surprise of the non-fiber types) usually a heck of a lot of fun at a party!

I recently ordered some silk hankies from Linda Lee on Etsy. They were a very cool Sunflowers pattern that I just loved. Look at what a beautiful package I got today!

Along with a lovely handwritten note (and future discount!) I had two handwrapped silk hankies. Aren't they amazing?!

And then, just because Linda is a wonderously generous soul, I got this fabulous welcome gift.

Yes, I'm an awful photographer... look at the picture on Linda's site... She sent me a very generous braid of her superwash roving in the same Sunflowers colorway and a beautiful little silk hanky in a teal/green color.

Isn't that cool? I felt like it was Christmas with the carefully wrapped little packages and the free surprises... not to mention the really, really gorgeous fiber! Thanks, Linda!!

While we're on the subject of fiber, I had a spinning evening with Naomi on Monday night. It's always such a nice relaxing evening! We put on some good music and just sit and spin and chat for a few hours. It's almost a throwback to another time, you know? Naomi tells me that it makes her wish she had a fireplace to spin in front of! I started spinning a gorgeous merino roving from Spunky Eclectic that I've had for a while.

It's called "Autumn" and the colors are among my favorites for clothes. I'm spinning it super-thin (for no real reason, other than that's how it started spinning up). I haven't figured out yet if I'll do a two-ply in a lace weight or try navaho plying. We'll see... I'm pretty sure we're a few spinning nights away from that!

That's enough for now... the wool fumes are getting to me!

The Perfect Stash

What would you consider the perfect amount of stash?

That's the question for SP12 this week. And what a wonderful question it is. I could say that the perfect amount of stash is just a wee bit more than what I have at any point in time... let's say enough to justify a visit to Webs! But maybe that's a bit of a cop-out. Let's see what a well-structured stash should have.

First, of course, a great selection of sock yarns. Mostly fingering weight, but a few DK weight, just for variety. About a third would have to be semi-solid or heathered (good for showing off elaborate stitch work) and the other two thirds should be delish multi-colored yarns -- lots of handpainted, maybe a couple of handspun, and a self-striping or two. And a couple of Flat Feet, just for fun. (have you knit with them yet? I haven't tried one, but it's a pretty fun concept -- to actually put frogging to good use!) To be a perfect stash, I'd say you'd want mostly superwash merino or blends, but a few summery fibers like bamboo, or cotton or soy would be nice, too.

So, once we have the sock yarns under control, you'd want some worsted-ish weight for sweaters. Say a bag each of three or four, so you could start a project without a trip to the store if you wanted to. Maybe a nice silk blend, something with cashmere, and of course a nice soft merino.

Can't have a stash without lace weight. A few skeins of alpaca, a semi-solid wool, and definitely something with silk.

And then, some special, colorful goodies just to pet and cuddle with... some Kauni.... some Noro... some Sea Silk, perhaps?

My own stash is not quite so perfect... I'd say this is the mental model I work from, but there are an embarrassing number of "mistakes", too. You know, those novelty yarns that seemed like a good idea at the time, or the acrylic that was on such a great sale you couldn't pass it up...those things that make you say, "What was I thinking?" Fortunately, there's always a cub scout troop or a senior center or one of the kids who wants to practice knitting, so the mistakes don't have to live with you forever.

So, that's my perfect stash.... what's yours look like?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Weekend Adventures

First, an update on the weekend (hopefully some time before it's a new weekend!)

Things were certainly hopping around here this weekend. It's always a hectic time of year in our family with the kids' birthdays and all, but this year has the added fun of our sister Terri getting married at the beginning of August. While this is a wonderful and exciting thing, it adds a whole new set of events to the summer. (not that I'm complaining... who doesn't love a good party!). Anyway, on Sunday, my mom hosted a brunch at the Publick House in Sturbridge for our family (my sisters, our husbands and the kids) and Chris's (the groom) family, so that everyone would have a chance to get to know each other a bit before the actual wedding.

These things can sometimes be awkward, and you never know quite how they'll work out, but as it turns out, it was a very enjoyable morning. Chris's parents are really nice people and his sister and her fiance were a lot of fun, and the food was really delicious, so all in all it was a nice morning.

Of course, it involved shopping for something new to wear (you have to make a nice impression, right?) And, while I was in the store, I found a few other things on sale that I knew I'd be able to use, so I really couldn't pass them up. And, I found these little shoes. (you can see how excited Max is about them!)

Are they not the cutest things you've ever seen?! They're by Converse, and they are so cool! Peace and Love on the sides, and an overall sneaker vibe in a shoe. I just love them!!

And, there was knitting being done, but I can't show you. I finished a gift for my SP12 pal that is beyond cute! In fact, I'm pretty sure that I'll have to make one for myself. But, since it is a secret, after all, you'll have to wait until SP12 is done. Maybe I'll just throw an FO pic up on my Flickr account at some point and see if anyone notices!

Plenty more to share with you... including some fibery pictures... but if I wait to get it all in one post, I'll never post. So stay tuned... more to come.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

SP12 Question of the Week #2

As a kid, what did you look forward to most about summer vacation/break/holiday?

Hmm... good question. I guess most of all, like everyone else, I looked forward to the freedom that summer vacation brought. Being able to stay up late and sleep (a little) late (my mom never let us sleep til the ungodly hour that my teen and preteens do!). But I think most of all, my fondest memories are of summer evenings outside. Staying outside in the dark was a HUGE thing to us when we were small. Seeing fireflies and playing tag in the darkened yard, or roasting marshmallows over the leftover coals from a barbeque almost made it worth the zillions of mosquito bites we'd end up with.

Outdoors is a magical place as a kid... especially after sundown. I can remember how, on really special evenings, Mom & Dad would load us up in the station wagon and take us to the drive-in. Then, of course, you had the double thrill of being outside at night AND being outdoors in your pajamas. (all the kids would come to the drive-in dressed in pajamas because we were invariably asleep by the time the family got home at midnight or so, and it made it easier to carry us in and tuck us into bed)

Alas, there aren't many drive-ins left any more. Fortunately for us there's one left in Wellfleet, on Cape Cod. We usually rent a place at the Cape for a week during the summer, and we make absolutely sure that we get the kids to the drive-in one night while we're there. Because every kid should grow up knowing the magic of being out late on summer nights.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Have I Mentioned the Gargoyles?

It appears I've somehow neglected to chatter on about one of my favorite things -- gargoyles. You know, the creepy winged demon-y animals and other strange characters you find on Medieval buildings? (Think Notre Dame in Paris) For whatever reason, I have a tremendous fondness and affinity for the little critters.

My daughter gave me this gargoyle curio box for Christmas one year. Don't you love it?

The word Gargoyle actually comes from an Old French word: gargouille, meaning "throat" (I think that's the correct spelling... my Old French is a bit rusty). The word is also the root for words like gargle and gurgle. The origin becomes more clear if you understand that a true gargoyle is actually a spout on the eaves of a building designed to channel water away so that the mortar isn't eroded over time (basically an early gutter system). If you look at the gargoyles on old buildings, they have an open mouth where water would flow out when it rained. Look here and you'll see what I mean. (The statue Wayne is standing with is a true gargoyle... see how the water would channel along its back and then flow out the mouth?)

Here's a whole gaggle of gargoyles I found on Flickr (along with credit to their photogs... a very talented lot... be sure to visit their Flickr photostreams and see some more of their amazing work)

1. tarragona, 2. CATHEDRAL GOYLE, 3. gargoyle, 4. Oxford: cheeky gargoyle, 5. Green-Wood Cemetery-John Matthews Monument, 6. Gargoyle, 7. Bury Gargoyle 2, 8. Bad Day, 9. the sad gargoyle -- 3-29-08, 10. Cowardly dragon/Feige Drache, 11. Gargoyle, 12. Gargoyle Teeth, 13. Nose Pick Troll, 14. Gargola, 15. York, 16. CIMG0007, 17. grotesque gargoyle, 18. paris

Generally speaking, people refer to any kind of grotesque figure on a building as a gargoyle, although the correct term for the non-waterspout ones is chimera or simply a grotesque. (Yes, I know, this is far more than you ever wanted to know about gothic architecture)

The unfortunate thing is that gargoyles have gotten a reputation in some quarters as "evil" or "demonic." Not so. Not at all so. In fact, many (if not most) gargoyles live on churches. Gargoyles are protectors, and they are guardians of the buildings on which they live and the people within. Legend has it that they come alive at night and the winged ones can fly around the countryside in the vicinity of their buildings, just to make sure their inhabitants stay safe. But they turn back to stone at dawn, so you'll always find them back in their places by morning. So a gargoyle on your house (or in your yard or on your desk) should be considered a comfort, and a good thing.

I don't push too hard on that "gargoyles are good" thing, though, because apparently my fondness for the critters has earned me a bit of "street cred" with some of my daughter's friends. I am the weird mom who likes gargoyles, so how bad could I be? In fact, any mom who likes dark creatures may even be a little bit cool, right?

Hey, I'll take my credibility any way I can get it. Don't tell the kids that mom hasn't crossed over to the dark side.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

My Favorite Summertime Drink?

The hosts of Secret Pal 12 have decided to help the spoilers to get to know a bit more about their spoilees, so they're posting a new question each week for us to blog about. Since it's always nice to have a simple idea for a new post, I'm liking this idea.

So, what's my favorite summertime drink? Well, I guess that depends. I'm one of those people who really enjoys plain old water. Ice cold, no flavoring, just water. (yeah, I know, it's not terribly sexy, is it?). My other everyday favorite for summer is iced tea. Not sweet tea. (just too much sugar.... if I'm having that much sugar, it should involve chocolate!)

Now, if we're having "grown up" drinks, the list is a bit different. Nothing beats an icy cold beer on a hot day, for my money. Or, if I'm trying to be a bit more "upscale", I'll go for a Mike's Hard Lemonade or a Cape Codder. That's one of those regional drinks that you've probably never heard of if you're not from New England. It's vodka, cranberry juice and lime. Very refreshing.

So.... have you got that? Drink up!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Smarty Pants

Just wanted to take a few minutes for some shameless "mama boasting".

We went to Emma's school last night for her induction into the National Junior Honor Society. (I think the "junior" part is relatively new... when I was in school, it was just Juniors and Seniors -- now the Junior Society goes all the way down to 7th grade). Anyway, she's smart and pretty and funny, and we're very proud of her.

We didn't get a picture of her actually receiving her certificate, since she accepted it at warp speed and rushed back to her seat, but here's a nice shot of her waiting her turn. She would note the sunlight on her hair and point out that she was probably the only person in that darkened auditorium who was sitting in the 100-degree sun for the full hour.... it was definitely warm in there, but she held up with good grace.

And, while we're on the subject of smart kids, I'd be remiss if I didn't brag for a moment on my nephew, Taylor, who graduated from high school last week as valeditorian of his class. (I can barely spell the word, forget about earn the honor!). Just look at all those pins, medals, ropes, sashes... it's a good thing he's a strong kid, or he might not have been able to stand up straight!

Way to go Emma & Taylor!!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Completed Mystic Meadows Clue 1

I've been working on the first clue of the Mystic Meadows KAL this week. What a blast! It's really a lovely design, and I'm enjoying the fact that it's in a fingering weight yarn rather than a lace weight. It's so much fun to see lace work up this quickly!

I've been using KnitPicks Gloss in Woodland Sage. It's a Merino/Silk blend, and the silk gives it a really nice drape. Here's a look at the first clue.

My favorite part is that it has some nifty little bobbles. I love bobbles... all dimensional work, actually. I think it's just so cool to have your knitting pop right off the surface! Aren't they just adorable?

Judging from the abbreviations/stitch list, and the charts for Clue 2, which just came out today, there are some other interesting little tid bits ahead. Can't wait!

I tried something new for keeping my place on the charts this time. I never really had much luck with magnets, and mostly resorted to scratching out finished lines with a pen. But this time I found this highlighter tape.

It's very cool stuff. You just tape it on -- either over the current line or above or below, whatever way you like to work -- and when you've finished a row, it just peels up and repositions with no damage to the chart. One piece of tape can be used all the way up the page. It's also inexpensive. Take a look here to order.

The only thing keeping me from Clue 2 is the mate for this little puppy.

You remember Erica's socks? They were a little time-killer until the KAL started. Unfortunately, we are about 1 week from the end of the school year, and I've said Erica will have her socks by then. Two socks. One for each foot. Did I mention my SSS problem?

Friday, June 6, 2008

Who Am I?

Here's a fun little meme that I found over on Margene's blog. You create a photo mosaic using fd's Flicker Toys. The rules are simple:

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search.
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s mosaic maker.

Who Am I?

1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What high school did you go to?
4. What is your favorite color?
5. Who is your celebrity crush?
6. Favorite drink?
7. Dream vacation?
8. Favorite dessert?
9. What you want to be when you grow up?
10. What do you love most in life?
11. One word to describe you.
12. Your Ravelry name. (this was actually supposed to be your Flickr name, but I liked this picture better)

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Never a Dull Moment

May and June are crazy months. It seems like every weekend there's something -- band concerts, proms, graduations, first communions, weddings, etc., etc., etc. Things are no different in our house, except that the craziness extends into mid-July, when we have one big blow-out party for all three of our kids' birthdays. They're actually all within a week of each other -- Molly & Austin share a date, of course (July 15th) and Emma is July 7th, so we have a big backyard pool/hot tub/barbeque party.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start with the most important stuff... I've actually gotten some knitting done lately! Emma has a good friend who's a sock fanatic (also known as a "knitter's enabler"). I've gotten a bit bored by slogging along on the Sugared Maple socks, and my yarn for Mystic Meadows KAL hasn't arrived yet (even though the first chart comes out tomorrow!!), so the only logical thing to do was to drag out some quick and easy sock yarn and make some socks for Erica.

It's Lion Brand Magic Stripes in the "Bright Spring Pattern" colorway. What can I was on sale. I'm not a huge fan of self-striping yarns, but it makes a cute sock for a teenager, and it knits up quickly and simply in the most basic sock pattern ever. Just what I needed!

As for why I've been so busy, here's a quick peek into my family's recent activities. Emma attended the Semi-formal dance recently (which is sort of like a "mini prom" for the freshmen and sophomores). It was really nice to see all the kids dressed up in jackets and ties and cocktail dresses. This is such a funny age -- one day they look like little kids, and then they dress up and put on a bit of make-up and zing! you have a young adult. Amazing.

(By the way, that hazy kind of romantic effect in the picture is not a filter or software effect... it's a result of letting my little ones -- with sticky fingers -- use my camera!)

Speaking of Molly and Austin, we recently attended the "Wax Museum" at their school, which is just the coolest tradition ever! Each spring, the kids in the 5th grade class each choose a character from their American History book to portray. They need to do an extensive research paper on their character and a poster that highlights his/her accomplishments. Then they write a short speech in the first person and dress up as their character. The kids are positioned all around the cafeteria and they strike a pose until one of the parents taps them on the shoulder to "bring them to life." Then they begin, "My name is George Washington...." or whatever, and give about a one-minute speech as their character. It's a fantastic way to get them to do a very involved project, and it's really amazing to see what some of them come up with.

We had Molly as Amelia Earhart (that was a match made in heaven -- I can't think of another historical figure whose spirit Molly embodies more)...

... and Austin as Paul Revere.

(Did you notice Mom's sewing ability on that one? Who knew you could sew a tri-cornered hat?")

That's it for now...the laundry and cooking and all that other fun stuff doesn't go away just because it's crazy time everywhere else!

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