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September 2004

What do we have here?

august_30_m2august_30_m1It looks like an intent, little knitter to me! Woohoo. My occasional, in-house knitting companion moved to a college dorm yesterday, and look who's pickin' up the slack? It's M!! She asked me if I'd play a game of Skip-Bo last night and then teach her how to knit again; a refresher course. (She won the card game, as usual.) I happened to have a little-used skein of Lion Brand something-thick and cast on 15 stitches; she watched while I knit a row and then I watched while she knit a few stitches. She got her groove back in no time. I went back to Cromarty and she made good progress -- her stitches were pretty consistent in tension and after several rows she still had 15 stitches on the needle. It'll be a scarf. I'll bet she'd love to knit herself a simple tank.

I had so much other stuff to do last night that there wasn't really much knitting progress -- maybe four rows. I wanted to insert pics of my Cascade 220 swatches for St. Brigid today, but I forgot to resize them and they're huge! They sure look pretty... maybe tomorrow.

PFsnaxIt turns out that A did not stay overnight at the dorm with K. They picked up and assembled the loft kit for the bed, hauled boxes, went to lunch, stopped at Target. A was elated to find Pepperidge Farm 3-Cheese Snack Sticks. Someone locally had them once, but we've not been able to find them in months (maybe years), and A just loves them. She loves them so much that they'd be acceptable as a gift.

K feels much better about her roommate this year. Last year, K was given a framed photo in which she was the subject; my sister gave it to her and hoped that her new roomie wouldn't get the idea that K was full of herself if she displayed it in the room. Her roomie had already moved in by the time we arrived and there were lots of pictures, including a huge display on her bulletin board. Was there a single picture displayed that didn't include her?? No. K didn't have to worry one bit! Her roomie this year seems very relaxed and easy-going, not the party girl from last year. Yay.

I've already received an email asking me to bring a few things on Saturday. Topping the list was $50; granted, I owe it to her, but I just had to smile. Of course, money tops the list!

Weekend doings

AudreyRemainsOn Friday, I had an email from the shop in Madison where I’d inquired about availability of the Cascade 220 I wanted for St. Brigid; I’d been expecting to hear from them nearly two weeks ago. In the meantime, I made my first-ever inquiry at ThreadBear about the Cascade (and also about the extra Calmer that I need); they had it cheaper and with no special order surcharge, so I placed the order and was waiting for Rob to get back to me for billing information. Imagine my utter surprise at coming home on Friday night to find a box, shipped directly from Cascade, with the yarn I ordered for St. Brigid. Granted, ThreadBear knows where to find me, but I'm a lake and a state away and I just can't get over it. Wow.

CromartyAug29On Saturday, I decided that housecleaning was long overdue – and some rearranging and organizing. My house is nearly 120 years old and has been remuddled some over the years. Our main living area was originally three rooms – entry/stair hall, front parlor, and parlor – and is now two offset rooms divided by an oak pillar thing. (The oak pillar thing is one of the three things I saw upon first entering our house that sold it, along with the staircase and the front door with oval window.) Because of traffic flow, the actual space for arrangement of furniture is, let’s say, cozy. Maybe my furniture is just a tad too big, or maybe I have too much. Not too long ago, I was going to rearrange and after pushing stuff around for a while, it all ended up back in its original position! This time, I succeeded, and was organizing the yarn stash when the phone rang. It was Rob, from ThreadBear, wondering if I’d received the Cascade. What trust! We settled payment, and the Calmer will be in the mail on Monday. Woohoo.

cromartyaug292 I’m in the midst of swatching for St. Brigid. I don't have much in the way of fancy needles. I have lots of aluminum Boye and Bates needles, and a few bamboos. I didn’t get gauge with the aluminum US7s (stitches are close, rows are way off), it was closer with the US8s, but I didn’t like how it looked. I switched to bamboo US8s and I think that's what we'll have to go with. I'll be doing some math before I decide for sure. I took a pic, but forgot to send it to myself.

But we do have pics of Cromarty. Way up at the top are newly wound balls from the frogged Audrey; may she rest in peace. All this time, I've left what I'd completed intact -- on the needles, even -- and in my cleaning/organizing mode, I decided that it was time to move on. In the middle is a terrible picture of the overall progress. I am a little over half-way, and I can feel the finish line! At right is a close-up of the three completed main charts flanked by the fixed cables. They are not as crisp and nice as they once were, but there aren't any mistakes, either, so it's a trade-off and I'm happy.

Thanks for all the great comments about Friday's post. K&A stopped by work this morning on their way to the dorm. I'll get to see it on Saturday when we swing by to pick her up on our way up north. It feels funny that I'm not helping her, but that's the way she wants it. I recall telling my own mother that she didn't need to walk me to my 6th grade class (or any other thereafter), and hearing the same from my kids, but a part of me still wants to hold K's hand and make sure everything's okay. It's good this way, I know it is.


Milestones -- I anticipate and take note of every single one in my knitting! Moving on to the second half of the chart for Cromarty was a biggie. I'm anticipating the completion of the third repeat of Chart D (the main one), and have just completed a repeat of Chart C. Starting a new ball is a milestone, also, and since I'm nearing completion of another main chart repeat, that also means I'll be starting a new ball soon! For me, it's little things such as these that help keep me motivated, taking mental note and acknowledging each little step and its importance to the whole. Your wonderful comments about that sweater and my trials and tribulations are extremely motivating, also. Thank you!!

Warning. That's all the knitting news, folks. Some of you may want to click away now. The rest of this is about other milestones -- one in particular -- and it has to do with children growing up and leaving home for college, and it's long and rambly, and I'll probably cry.

At this time last year, I was marking one of the biggest milestones in my life. My eldest child went off to college -- far away.

Once, when this child was three, I was sitting on the front porch and watched as a police car turned into our driveway. He was delivering my three-year-old back to me as I sat stunned, not aware that she was even missing! He told me that she'd been bookin' it down the street with some determination (the street that's "over the river and through the woods" -- literally down a wooded ravine path and across a small creek) -- I have no idea where she was going or what inspired this exploratory trek! By the time she was five I'd already heard many times that she'd be moving away when she grew up, and it continued all through her school years. She applied to an exchange program (Germany) in high school and thank goodness she was a runner-up because that's where she would have been on 9/11 and I don't know if I could have handled that.

Anyway, since her dad is a native of Southern California and since she, herself, was born on the Oregon Coast, and given this yearning-to-leave history, I wasn't surprised that she chose Humboldt State University in Northern California for her freshman year.

When I was a child, we moved at least once a year from the time I was born until the third grade. I was born in Milwaukee, but lived there only a couple of months before the moving began. It's my "hometown," but I never really lived there and never felt very connected (though I loved visiting when my sister Sharon lived there). Sometimes we moved more than once a year; my school career began by attending kindergarten at three different schools. When I was a senior in high school, I decided to live with my dad in a small town in Northern Wisconsin. I went from a class of over 300 in my former school to a class of 36 in the new. In the yearbook, there were pictures of many of my new classmates together in diapers, sharing toys and a playpen. I was always envious of people I knew who grew up in one place and who had true, lifelong friendships, ties to a community, and relatives who lived nearby. I guess that sense of belonging to a place was always something I wanted for my kids, so when Katie was two, we bought a house and we've lived there ever since. Perhaps it's not surprising that my children want to spread their wings (Maddy talks about living in Africa...).

It was all so very exciting... and scary and dreadful.

I drove her to school in California -- 2500+ miles away -- meeting my sister Sharon in Nebraska so she could help with the driving (and emotional support). We stopped overnight in Reno (my first time ever in a casino) and counted our winnings as we left.

The college is in a beautiful area and it's a beautiful school -- there was a lot of excitement and activity (and many trips to Big K-mart) to get her settled. We took in the sites, walked on the beach, visited the redwoods. On my last night there, Kate and I went to see Freaky Friday and I started to cry as the music began, one of my favorite songs ever -- "So Happy Together." I don't know if a more *touching* movie has ever been made. (Yeah, you get the picture.) I know I didn't succeed completely in holding it together after giving Katie one last hug and walking out the door to go home. I was blinded by tears and desperately trying to hold back sobs as I walked through the hall and down the stairs, big burly California-tanned freshman football players telling me, as I passed by, that it would be okay, she would be okay...

I found my way to the car where Sharon was waiting, took a few minutes to pull it together, and we started to drive. We re-traced our route in complete silence for hours. I dealt with the waves of emotion as they came. There are things I will always associate with that trip -- "Freaky Friday" and "So Happy Together," and many songs sung by Eva Cassidy, particularly "In The Early Morning Rain" (written by Gordon Lightfoot). You know, when you're in a heightened emotional state and everything means something.

It was a bit harder after I dropped Sharon off in Lexington, NE, and had to continue alone. I choked back tears every few miles. Finally, about an hour-and-a-half from home, knowing that I had to greet my two younger daughters after being away for a week and show them that I was happy to see them, even while pieces of my heart were strewn along I-80 and I was so, so sad, I stopped the car. I stopped on the side of a road in an industrial park on a Sunday afternoon to let myself cry -- sob and wail and wring out every tear. Just as I was getting going, the stupid phone rang. It was my mom. There was no way I could tell her where I was or what I was doing, so I really choked 'em back. Aaargh. I never did get my good heart-wrenching cry!

Katie flew home at Christmas and she truly was a wonder to behold.  Her own father didn't recognize her! She wore her hair and makeup differently and looked so independent, grown up, mature... I took a high school hippy kid to college and a sophisticated and poised young woman came home.

For various reasons, she didn't return to school at HSU for second semester. I have enjoyed having her home while she's worked for the past 8 months and made plans for school this fall.

She's leaving on Monday.

This time, she's going to an in-state school that's about 100 miles away. This time, her own sister is helping her move (and looking forward to an overnight in a dorm). This time, she will have her car and will feel less isolated. This time, too, her mother won't have to wait 'til Christmas to see her again (that's the best part). It's still bittersweet and I'm going to miss having her around all the time, but it's a piece of cake compared to last year!


My trip to Saturn

Darn it. I think we misunderstood what we were told about A's brake pads. It turns out that they don't need to be replaced yet, but it cost me $20 for that information. They did find something else, of course, but it's not urgent -- thank goodness, because my car service cost a pretty penny yesterday. Ugh. There's still more that they could do, too, but I don't think a functional rear wiper is essential (at least not at that price!).

Mom picked me up, along with K&A, at Saturn and we went to the estate sale. She found a few things, I found a few things, the grrs were b-o-r-e-d. I did find a bag of cute buttons and I know K has been wanting to make another button-trimmed cardi (see July 12th), and though they were various sizes, almost all of them were red, so we passed. My haul did include a bag of reasonable looking yarn-stuffs for $3 -- there were several "unreasonable" bags with "Super Saver" labels visible through the plastic. The one that I brought home had nine balls of some old, 100% wool, Bernat -- are you ready -- sock yarn. Well, it's fingering, but it says "socks" quite prominently. Yeah, I'll be getting to socks one of these days. I do believe I have everything (and more) that I need to start. There were a few balls of some other Bernat yarn (the labels are cute), and some Coats & Clark and DMC thread with small pieces of knitted lace attached -- one of them was still on the (size 1) needle. Buried deep within the yarn were some mechanical things and a contraption made with dowels -- I have no idea if they're related to each other or even to knitting. I will post some pics soon and see if any of you have a clue.

And it's just too bad that this sale was held where it was, and that three doors down from a cute little shop that we frequent whenever we're in that city, and across the street from a restaurant we also like, is a yarn shop. It's a nice one. Trying to keep the cost of car repairs in mind, I dove into the sale bin and came up with two hanks of Classic Elite Waterspun Weekend in a nice gold color, as well as 22 hanks of something Jamieson & Smith (hmm, also in gold) for only $2.75 each. Darn good SExpedition. They had a small triangular shawl/large scarf on display that would be the perfect project for the AlCaMi alpaca from my SP; alas, no pattern. It was all garter stitch, though, and shouldn't be too hard to figure out.

Since A's car needed no repairs, it was done far sooner than mine. Mom & I dropped the grrs off at Saturn and we continued on our little outing alone. Browsing, mostly, hitting some shops that we hadn't been to in quite a while -- fall & halloween stuff is very evident! I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since the kids are heading back to school in less than a week, but it seems like we hardly had a summer. Mom bought some really cute pumpkins made of orange chenille; they were on sale, so likely last year's models, but very cute nonetheless. We strolled through the area's highest quality antique shop, also. Oh, they had some cute little sewing stands... I have a thing for those; I can't afford them, so I have a small collection of sewing baskets, instead. Not that I sew much. They're good for holding small quantities of yarn, too.

Because of the modifications I had to make to Cromarty due to gauge issues, I had to make myself quite a chart. It's so long and wide that I had to cut it in half vertically and score each half into thirds horizontally so I can fold it, store it and tote it. It's really pretty obnoxious. I am happy to report that I've finished the first half of the chart and am a few rows into the second half. And that means that I'm half-way on the first body piece! Woohoo!

I remember how to knit

I finished my hooking gig last night (yay!) and then just had to knit a couple of rows before going to bed! I think it's been almost a week (again) since I knit a stitch on Cromarty. Feels good.

I had a terrific, supportive email from my Secret Pal this morning -- apparently, she's been reading my tale of woe -- and that was so nice. Thank you! I was getting a little miffed because I hadn't heard a thing from the SP that I send things to -- and she should have received a package last week. Well, yesterday I checked the blog that's been set up for nonblogging SPs and there was a note there from her. That made me feel much better. It's a really great thing -- check it out.

Today is my day off! I haven't had a Wednesday (the "usual") off in ages. A & I are going to Saturn this morning. We thought we'd play on the rings... er, she'll get new brake pads and I'll get new engine mounts and something about an intake valve. Anyway, K is coming with us and Mom is meeting us and we'll all go to an estate-type sale. Maybe lunch. I haven't spent much time with Mom recently, so it's good.

Good news, bad news

The good news is that I finished the fixing of the second and last cable last night!

The bad news is that I completely ripped out the first one again!

No remorse. It had to be done. Cromarty looks just like it did in yesterday's post! I had a very strong feeling, as I finished that cable, that it wasn't right and confirmed my suspicions last night. I'm hooking back up to a point where the next row that's actually knit will require use of a cable needle (a fourth row in the 4-row plan), but when I finished hooking that first cable, it didn't end on a fourth row. The problem started all the way back at the very beginning -- I was off by one stinkin' row.

I didn't swear, I didn't even get very crabby; I shrugged my shoulders and ripped it all out again.

Pay attention, pay attention, pay attention!! If there isn't a good foundation, what you build up from there is going to be crap, too.

I am getting to be a pretty good hooker!

Getting my fix

miscrossed20fix1miscrossed20fix2I still didn't count how many rows I had to rip out in each of these sections to fix my mistakes. It's over 60. These pics are after ripping the first 9-stitch cable and hooking up a few rows. I got a rhythm going before too long and it's not hard, just very tedious... I finished the first cable last night and got a start on the second. I hold all the yarn from the ripped rows on a stitch holder and release only the number of threads that I need to fix each 4-row section. There's a cross every fourth row, so I arrange the stitches on a holder (a cable needle), then hook up four rows, leaving the stitches on the crochet hook, then transferring them to a holder -- and then I do it again, and again, and again! Sometimes the stitches are a little bit wonky, so there's some tugging and pulling to get the stitches evened out. I employ a few cable needles, stitch holders and a crochet hook in this endeavor. It's looking good.

sixflagsI love photo booths! The two on the left are from last Sunday -- my two eldest, sister, and niece; the one on the right is from K's before-we-head-back-to-school trip with friends last Thursday. I think I count six faces.

We went to Mom's on Saturday night to watch the second Packer pre-season game. We enjoyed cheeseburgers along with the morning's farmer's market bounty during the first quarter. We then retired to the family room where Mom had the lights very low. I was intending to work on the above-mentioned cables but it was too dark and I thought, well, that's okay. Midway through the second quarter, there was barely an open eye in the place. Do I even remember half-time? By the start of the third quarter -- with my stepdad snoring and Mom sprawled between the sofa and the ottoman, I decided that I'd just go home. I could hardly rouse Mom to tell her and she looked at me glassy-eyed, probably wondering what I was doing there in the first place! I had the lights on a bit brighter at home and got to work on my cable while watching the rest of the game and then the Olympics.

It was SO nice to have a weekend at home. I finished all the transcription I was doing for my sister and updated DH's website. Yay! I borrowed a boom box from work that had a tone control dial and that really helped with the transcription. She'll have more for me (follow-up interviews) in November, I think. I had to chuckle when I started the third interview -- the first two were with men, and this one was with a woman. There was little or no extraneous chit-chat with the men, but with the woman it was, "Oh, by the way, how was your vacation and how are the kids?" It was interesting, really listening to how people speak and putting it down on paper...

Last night, M was in the mood to shop. She got out her school supply list for 8th grade, crossed off what she already had, and circled what was still needed. She hates to shop (though at 13, I think that'll start changing), so I thought I'd better strike! School starts a week from Wednesday! K has already started packing her stuff to move to college -- a week from today!

Lots o' news (and pics)!

MA2Where do I begin? How about the first thing I noticed when I got home last night -- I wasn't even out of my car yet when I saw A with a new 'do. She did it herself! If she isn't an interior designer when she grows up, then perhaps a hair stylist (she did M's, at right, a couple of weeks ago) -- or maybe a hair-styling interior designer and wouldn't that make for an interesting episode of While You Were Out?

Pal2aPal2bThe second thing I noticed was a box -- from my Pal! It was lightweight and it was not marked "fragile." Whatever could it be? Oh yeah, it's "AlCaMi"! Mmmmmmmyummmmy. It's a very fine Alchemy alpaca in a colorway called "Night Sky." It was accompanied by a bottle of Eucalan. Hey, Secret Pal, it's terrific -- Thank You! It was so much fun to play Concentration, too, even though you had to give me numerous hints! Pal2cSo, y'all, what shall I do with this lovely stuff??

SlubsWith camera already in-hand for the SP2 photo shoot, I photographed the "slubby" yarn to better illustrate a "slub." I could not get a good close-up. It doesn't really matter, though, because this incarnation of Lovlund is now Lovlost -- the yarn isn't right and I think the gauge is off, too. I will try again someday, and let's hope it'll be Lovlust. The Cyclone is now destined to be a scarf or two (Christmas presents), perhaps paired with another fiber.

MiscrossedOh my goodness, NO. I am not ripping all sixty-bazillion rows to fix the two miscrossed cables. Over the weekend, I'll be ripping down those 9-stitch repeats, one at a time, fixing the mistake, and hooking them back up. Unfortunately, this is a road I've traveled before. Others have been in this area, as well (June 7th), though she, at least, had a good reason. Mine can only be inattentiveness. Why only those two cable repeats? Why not the ones at the sides? (I might not feel as compelled to fix those!)

On Thursday night, DH and I took the grrs to dinner at Famous Dave’s. We’d never been there before and we all liked it quite a lot. Several years ago, while working at the antique mall, a man came in and made quite a stack of finds in the office; turns out he got to run around and buy stuff to decorate Famous Dave's restaurants. I want that job! Afterwards, we tripped over to Barnes & Noble, where I snagged the most recent issue of Cast-On.

Yesterday, Crafter’s Choice Book Club sent me an email offer that I couldn’t refuse, and coming soon to a mailbox near me will be Knitter’s Handy Book of Sweater Patterns and Knitter’s Handy Guide to Yarn Requirements, both by Ann Budd. I’ve seen the book around the blogs and I think I’d make good use of it; I almost bought the guide at my LYS last week. Meant to be.

Last, but not least, ThreadBear comes through. This is the first time I’ve ever done business with “the boys,” and you can bet that it won’t be the last. Topping the list of the reasons why is the simple fact that they replied in a very timely manner (and I know they’re darn busy these days). They have “tons” of Calmer in my color and lot, so I’m ordering it up. And, they’ll be most happy to supply/enable me, in whatever manner suits me, at a much lower price and without the 10% special order mark-up from another source (that I was supposed to hear from on Monday and, what do you know, it’s Friday and still no reply), with the Cascade 220 (color 4010) that I want for St. Brigid. Yup, I’m a happy girl.

Okay, really, THIS is last… I finally frogged the Silky Wool cable scarf that I started a few weeks ago and cast it on for IK’s Flower Basket Shawl (only one false start) while watching the Olympics* last night. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked it, but I completed the initial 24-row chart last night, and I think it’s okay.

*Way to go Carly Patterson! And what about Paul Hamm the other night? He’s from Wisconsin, you know. **grin** I’ve always loved gymnastics and still get misty with emotion with I recall watching Nadia.

It's just my nature

Easy-going. That's me. Ask anyone. It must be the trait that explains why I can put unpleasantness aside; not just put it aside, but practically put it right out of my mind! Could it be forgetfulness??

Admiring my Cromarty progress after Olympian knitting on Tuesday night, and before putting it away, I noticed a boo-boo. Ooops, make that two boo-boos. They had nothing to do with Olympian knitting; in fact, these mistakes have apparently gone unnoticed for many a moon. There are 9-stitch braided cables repeated across the body of the sweater -- maybe six of them -- including one on each side of the main chart. I forgot to do a cross on those two particular, very noticeable, flanking-the-main-chart-cables about sixty-bazillion rows ago. Okay, I exaggerate; but at least 60 rows (I haven't even counted and I don't think I will). [Insert expletive(s) of choice here.]

No mention of that at all yesterday morning, was there? I did recollect, later in the day, that there was an issue with Cromarty -- and I knew I'd have to fix it. But not yesterday. It's do-able, but I just didn't feel like doin' it.

Instead, I set up the swift and ball winder, made two nice balls of Cyclone, did the cast-on for Lovlund, and knit eight or 10 rows. After reading Wendy's details (see yesterday's post/link) and that she used only four balls of Hanna Silk (just a hair over 400 yards if she used up all four completely), I decided that it just might work. This was after I called The Knitting Tree and they didn't find any more in that colorway (but said she'd do some more digging).

I don't like it. I like the pattern, I like the yarn (absolutely LOVE the color); I don't like this pattern in this yarn. It's too slubby. Big slubs at regular intervals -- way more than I thought it had -- and it looks like... well, it's awful. I can just tell that it would get all fuzzy and icky and snagged in a pretty short time, too. M likes it, though, and thought it would make a nice fashion scarf. I might even make it for her for Christmas.

Speaking of Christmas, I've been doing a little shopping already. I even have Sis-A's and my brother's birthday gifts already -- and they're not 'til January and March, respectively. I think I have enough on my knitting plate with Cromarty (for me), upcoming St. Brigid (for me -- I've joined the knit-along, awaiting word on yarn), the scarf for M (Christmas), and the Flower Basket Shawl (Christmas), so I don't think I'll add anything more to the holiday knitting list.

I can think of two people I know who have "gift closets." They buy stuff all through the year, on sale or whatever, and tuck it away for later gift-giving needs. I have tried to do that to a very small extent, but I often forget about what I buy and find Christmas ornaments on the Fourth of July when I'm looking for sparklers. Sounds like a specific area for this type of activity is important. Do any of you do this sort of thing? Have you any tips for the buying and storing of gifts for later giving? Do you have someone in mind when you buy something, or do you just buy and then figure out who to give it to?


KnittingTreeI was finally able to watch the Olympics last night! Too bad the women's gymnastics team stumbled a bit, but it was fun to watch Michael Phelps win gold twice. It was even more fun to listen to my teen-age daughters talk about which type of athlete has the most appealing body. Girls!!

I flew through 8 rows of Cromarty with very few fumbles last night while watching the Olympics. I even had to put it down a few times in order to watch routines or laps. I must have been caught up in the spirit of competition and beating the clock!

What you see at right is some of the stash infusion of the past week. The book and yarn are from The Knitting Tree in Madison; 400 yards of Cyclone, a hand-dyed, 100% rayon from The Great Adirondack Yarn Co., in a colorway called Sienna -- it's beautiful! I intended to use it for Lovlund, a pattern in Noro Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton Book 2 (pictured). Where was my head? What was I thinking? I'd need at least another 100 yards for Lovlund. Aaargh. Also pictured are some DPNs that I bought at my LYS last week; these were originally intended for my Secret Pal, but I've since found something better for her, so (darn) these are now mine. My purchases from Lakeside Fibers are all about the Secret Pal, so I can't show them off yet, except I did buy a set of Brittany cable needles for myself (but forgot to photograph them).

SkyPizza1It was pizza on the porch on Saturday night! On the bottom step, in the red dress, is Twin-K, flanked by my 7yo Opie-look-alike and 14yo nephews; then K and M. Sitting behind them are Twin-S (in overalls), Mom, A (green pants), my niece (who was a blonde 'til last weekend), and me (a very flattering, just-took-a-bite, burning-the-roof-of-my-mouth pose). Standing in the rear are my BIL with his eldest son, and my stepdad.

I imagine it's related to our unusual weather of the past few weeks -- the skies have been beautiful. Why don't I carry my camera more often? This isn't even close to the best we've seen, but it's the one when I had my camera and it gives you a hint.


Do you live in Chicago-land? If so, that screaming you heard on Sunday afternoon, from the direction of Six Flags Great America, was me. It was good, fun screaming! There were 10 of us in all -- Sis-A, Twin-S and Twin-K, Twin-K's three kids (17, 14, 7), me and my three kids (19, 17, 13). It was all I could do to keep up with my 14-year-old nephew!! We started off the day by riding The Demon, followed by the Giant Drop (I had a lovely view of Chicago -- when my eyes were open -- and that's most likely when you'd have heard me scream) -- the 7-year-old nephew went on that one TWICE! We also rode the Raging Bull, American Eagle, Logger's Run and Roaring Rapids (got drenched on those last two), the double-decker Carousel, and the Trailblazer. It's likely that I'm forgetting a few. The Trailblazer (giant covered wagon that goes round and round) had to be stopped and re-started because of Sis-A's unauthorized use of a camera! She got yelled at on the Carousel, too (twice), for leaving her horse too early. Hehehe. It was a great weather day and the park wasn't as busy as we'd expected.

To backtrack, we all met in Madison on Friday night. Sis-A had won a gift certificate a while back from a photo studio, and decided to have a portrait of all the "grandkids" (consisting of the six above, plus her two stepsons, ages 19 & 16). I can't wait to see the proofs!

Saturday was crazy in Madison -- there's a big shift in housing accommodations in readiness for the beginning of the new school year. Sis-A and her husband own a big, 2-unit Victorian, and we (Mom and her husband joined us on Saturday) all provided labor -- painting, cleaning, laying new flooring -- in the 24-hour window between tenants. It was a blast.

I started my day in a much more plessant way, however, with leisurely visits to two yarn shops -- The Knitting Tree and Lakeside Fibers. The Knitting Tree was small-ish, but well-stocked and abuzz with activity. They were the Rowan dealer but, alas, very limited selection of Calmer and none in my color. I did not leave empty-handed. Lakeside Fibers was on the list with St. Brigid in mind. It's a lovely store -- roomy and well-organized (the Lake Room was my favorite). They are checking availability of Cascade 220 in a specific color and quantity; I'd like to try that for St. B because I just don't like the feel of Soft Shetland so much. Alas, I did not leave there empty-handed, either. Pics tomorrow (except SP2 stuff!).

I looked through Twin-S's stash with her and she really has some lovely stuff. I snagged some Donegal Tweed -- plentiful leftovers from an autumn-colored, leafy-design sweater kit she made for Mom some years ago. I'm thinking a stripey, scrappy cardigan would be fun!

I took some time during the Green Bay Packers first preseason game last night (they lost, but I won the office pool!) to try and fix Cromarty. The spot-fix just wasn't working out, so I ended up ripping about a half-dozen rows and now I'm two rows away from where I was last Wednesday night when I first discovered the mistake! If I'd dropped that stitch on any other row, it would have been easy to fix, but I just couldn't wrap my head around the increases on the first two rows and how it translated on the needles.

It was a busy and hectic, but FUN, weekend. I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming weekend -- at home!

Stop the insanity

Majesty2I received the bill for my Interweave Knits subscription the other day, which is fabulous because things are moving along, but there hasn't been a magazine delivered to my mailbox yet. So when I saw the desired fall issue on a shelf the other day, well, I just had to buy it...

You may have noticed that there was little in the way of knitting content yesterday. I worked a few rows on Cromarty on Wednesday night and just as I was about to wind things up for the night, I found a mistake. I had dropped a stitch between a couple of cables. That would be a fairly easy thing to fix under normal circumstances, but I had just begun a repeat of Chart C where three stitches are made from one on Row 1 and also on Row 2 and those cables are traveling some, too. I believe it's Row 2 where I screwed up. Without really thinking things through, I pulled apart the offending area. With trusty crochet hook in hand, I tried to work up a couple of stitches. This type of exercise is best executed with fresh eyes and clear head; I didn't have either going for me right then... Wisely, I think, I put it away. I am anxious to get back to it, but just didn't have time last night.

MajestyI called my LYS yesterday afternoon to see what the 5:00 plan was; she had to run an errand, but would return to the shop by 5:20 or so. Since there is no parking in front of her store, I parked on a side street where I happened upon a VERY large rummage sale -- perfect for killing time. There were at least a dozen 4x8 sheets of particle board loaded with stuff as well as shelving from top to bottom on the garage walls. I think they've trumped Rummage-O-Rama, and I think all the stuff belonged to just the two guys who were there (compared to the half-dozen or so families that participate in ROR). You see my finds. That's right, I haven't knit a sock or a glove or a mitten or anything that calls for size 1 DPNs, but for 50 cents, I'll be ready. You can see the original price of 39 cents imprinted on the package and it doesn't seem as if they were ever opened or used -- I wonder how old these things are? I think the Majesty is a cutie-pie. And a girl can't have too many cable needles, either; the small one shown is now the smallest one I have. Oh, and I found a little something for my Secret Pal, too. (And I finally got a package in the mail for her!)

BritsI picked up the ball of Calmer that my LYS had set aside for me and then it was all about my Secret Pal. Mostly. Naturally, I can't go into details, but I found a few things that I think she'll like. In the spirit of supporting local business (uh-huh), I bought a pair of Brittany bamboos for myself. It was one of my most enjoyable visits at that shop. There was only one other person there and the classes hadn't begun. It's really tiny and always jammed with boxes and bags of yarn (oh, my), so it's really nice not to have to navigate around a dozen people and all their stuff, too.

I interviewed for a job at an insurance company once where one of my duties would have been transcription. I have never done it, but I've looked into courses in the past (trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up -- still), as well as court reporting and closed captioning. I type like the wind (this, apparently, is one of those days where I'm foaming at the fingertips) and I'm fairly good at the language. As far as court reporting (Hi Norma!), I was most hesitant about learning that keyboard (old dog, new tricks; I know I shouldn't think that way). Anyway, my youngest sister (working on her Ph.D.) has some taped interviews that she needs transcribed and she tapped me. Deadlines are looming and I've been trying to wade through these -- with a boombox in lieu of a transcription machine. (Are you falling off your chair Norma?) Um, ah, I think, well, hmmmm, ya know... I do a little "shorthand" and then go back, listen again, and clean it up. I'm amazed at how I hear things sometimes. I'm glad to do it, but wouldn't do it for anyone other than my very own sister! So, to make a long story even longer, I sacrificed knitting/fixing time for transcription last night.

To make it even more interesting, the kids were going through the record collection at the same time. I was serenaded by Raffi (I didn't even remember buying Raffi LPs!), Meatloaf, and Neil Diamond -- while transcribing... I hope I didn't type anything about paradise by the dashboard lights...

And, finally, I figured out my Secret Pal Concentration clue. Dim, I am, very dim. Al (as in Roker), Ca (as in California), Mi (as in do, re, mi, and as in me). AlCaMi, aka Alchemy (though I'll never spell it correctly again). What a hoot.

Added: I can't believe I'm adding to this insane post already... We're heading to Madison this weekend; shopping tomorrow, Six Flags Great America on Sunday (I got buy one, get one free tickets last night, plus my sis has four free passes, so it'll cost us an average of about $10 each -- vs. $40), and coming home on Monday. Another busy weekend and I won't likely post again 'til Tuesday. We might head up to Dad's next weekend, and then, I HOPE, things will get back to "normal." Wishin' y'all a great weekend.


Book club met last night and, as it was the August meeting, we thought it would be nice to go someplace where we could sit outside…being August and all. We chose a place on the north shore of Lake Winnebago – the building has no ambiance whatsoever, but it has a wonderful deck furnished with dining tables right at lake’s edge. Well, it looked like a wonderful deck; I never actually set foot on it. Damn. The high temp yesterday was 61 (plus it was overcast and breezy with an occasional drizzle) – the average is 80!

At least the sun is shining today.

concentrMy Secret Pal is playing games with me – Concentration! It has something to do with alpaca, Al Roker, California, and The Sound of Music (“Do, Re, Mi,” specifically). I haven’t figured it out completely yet. When I was a kid and home from school due to illness (real or – mostly – imagined), I used to love watching game shows on TV. My favorites were “Let’s Make a Deal,” “Password,” and “$25,000 Pyramid.” The downside was that Mom’s cure-all was a big cup of beef bouillon (ick) because that’s what her mother did. And now, though I don’t often catch it, Donny Osmond is the host of “Pyramid.” Oooooh, I loved him; I wonder if his favorite color is still purple.

Anyway, this Secret Pal stuff is a hoot!

So, do you think I only sold stuff at last week’s rummage sale? I did buy a few things, but I’m sure I spent less than $3 total. My haul consisted of two novels, a framed botanical print for “November” (my birthday month), and two out-of-print hardcover books: “The Caner’s Handbook,” by Bruce W. Miller and Jim Widess (1983), and “The Forgotten Crafts: A practical guide to traditional skills,” by John Seymour (1984).

“The Caner’s Handbook” is for reference and, hopefully, will start acting as inspiration or impetus to get some of my nonfunctional chairs fixed.

“The Forgotten Crafts” is full of old photographs and drawings, and has general chapters such as Woodland Crafts, Building Crafts, Crafts of the Field, and Textiles & Homecrafts. Sub-chapters include Rake Making, Thatching, Dry-stone Walling, Coopering, Net Making, Clog Making, Spinning & Weaving, Wool Craft, Cotton Craft, Linen Craft, Silk Craft, and Dyeing. Good general knowledge stuff!

Dog Days? Hot August Nights?

It feels like September, at least, maybe even October. Crazy. I wear my Birkie sandals for as long as I can every year; yes, even with socks. They're the most comfortable footwear for me; I've tried ordering shoes, but either the fit or the look is wrong. So, Birkies with socks, and I don't care. I should have worn socks today -- mid-August. Craaaazy.

There's more about feet. I used to have a job where I was on my feet almost all the time, and I was fine. More recently, I've been on my butt a lot more, and my feet let me know that they're not used to as much action as they had over the weekend. I sweet-talked M into giving me a foot massage on Saturday night (she gives wonderful back massages -- very long, thin fingers and a nice touch!). Heavenly. And while at Target the other day, I picked up a tube of exfoliating foot stuff. Wow, that felt good. A pedicure would seem to be the next logical step, huh?

Not much knitting news; a few more rows on Cromarty last night. Plugging away. My evening was occupied more with grocery shopping and laundry and feeding hungry kids. DH has been in Madison since Monday, helping with some bathroom remodeling; he'll be home today.

I had another nice e-card from my Secret Pal this morning. What in the world is she up to?? I must get a little package out to my pal this week!

Pal mail

We had a great time at the 15th annual Rummage-O-Rama at my sister's house. There were about a half-dozen parties with substantial inventory to sell, and we were all happy to purge and bring home some cash. There's flow into the St. Brigid fund, and the grrs each made about $45! We'll be heading to Madison this weekend -- a grandkids' portrait shoot on Friday, shopping and painting on Saturday, and a fun day at Six Flags Great America on Sunday -- so there'll be plenty of opportunity for spending!

Food!! Someone brought Blueberry Buckle on Friday morning (freshly baked and still warm!), sis made us a lovely Cobb Wrap and salad for lunch, and since they own a Quizno's, we had "Toasty" subs-to-order for dinner. The grrs made Chocolate Caramel Bars on Saturday, and we had frosted brownies on Sunday. Sis's DH is a sportsman, so we had fresh fish on Sunday night. I may have gained a pound or two.

I did no knitting over the weekend, but I did take out my finished Cromarty sleeve so it could be properly appreciated by both my sister and my niece. Talk about knitting to someone long enough, and they want to do it, too! My sister knit a sweater when she was in college -- she hated it and never tried again. She told me on Sunday that she might like to try again -- felting is intriguing, and she's thinking slippers. That's the second time she's mentioned knitting to me in the past month! Hehehe. I did manage several rows on Cromarty after arriving back home last night.

I phoned home over the weekend, and DH told me that a box had arrived from "S. Pal." I couldn't wait to get home!! The first thing I noticed on the box was that it was stamped "fragile." Hmmm. Fragile yarn?? Nooooo. Look:
It's not yarn, it's dishes!! There are even a couple that are broken, and I couldn't be happier!! They are mostly blue Currier & Ives in various scenes, and one beautiful Blue Willow bowl! These are the best for mosaics because they have a fairly dense, all-over pattern; I like to use the marks on the bottom of the dishes, too, and these are all very decorative. Anyway, I was completely surprised! Obviously, S. Pal has read m'blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

Pal4Pal5As you can imagine, I was full of curiosity and anticipation all weekend, and wondered what color my "alpaca" would be! Ha!! My Pal is pretty good at throwing me off track, huh? I do love the unexpected!

Hitting the road again

First, the knitting news. Today's headline? There's not much. I took A to dinner at Arby's, where K was working, then spent some time paying bills and junk. M was over at a friend's, so that meant I had dog duty, too; it was a very nice evening for a walk. DH returned from a quick visit with his relatives in extreme NW Wisconsin just as I returned, so caught up on all the news from the northland. I didn't sit down with Cromarty until nearly 9:00. I got a little start on the third repeat of the main chart while watching "Jesus, Mary, and Da Vinci" on 20/20, having read and enjoyed The Da Vinci Code earlier this year. I continued knitting through part of the local news. Whooping Cough is bad 'round here; there are over 800 confirmed cases in Wisconsin so far this year, and that's double last year's number for the entire year.

I'll be heading to my sister's in NW Wisconsin (not quite as extreme as DH's trip) after work tonight with the grrs. It's Rummage-O-Rama, an annual event that my sister hosts -- complete with potluck lunch on Saturday. It's always been more about socializing than selling for my sis, though I'm told that the word of the week at their house is "purge"! My earnings will be put into the St. Brigid fiber fund. I may not be back 'til Tuesday and don't know if I'll be bloggin'.

I had the cutest e-card in my mailbox this morning from my Secret Pal! It featured a photo of really cute alpacas in the Peruvian highlands. Do you suppose this is a clue, or is it just 'cuz they're so darn cute? It featured this quote from John Muir: When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. And my SP wrote, "Obviously spoken by a prolific knitter on the topic of yarn." Thank you!

I love alpacas! There is something that reminds me of giraffes (my most favorite animal). And in the makes-no-difference-to-anyone department, my mom has been to Peru with my stepdad to visit his mother who was living there.

Just in case more info is needed or y'all have a hankering to know:

1. I don't think I'm a yarn snob, but I do prefer natural fibers; I've used some Lion Brand yarn recently, but it's been AGES since I've had any Red Heart.

2. I don't spin; I only crochet trim and things. Not that I wouldn't ever crochet, there's just so much to knit!

3. No known allergies.

4. I first learned to knit when I was 6. I knit for a few years while in my 20s. Picked it up again a few years ago (now in my 40s). And I'm a lap-knitter (which means long, straight needles are preferred).

5. I might have an Amazon wish list; if I do, it's woefully outdated.

6. Mmmmmm. Lavender. I like to grow it, too; and pansies. I have a collection of pansy stuff -- mostly old prints and postcards.

7. All of my teeth have a taste for the sweet -- chocolate (any shade of brown)!

8. I putz with a few other crafts; in recent years, counted cross-stitch samplers (teeny stitches on linen) and mosaics; I like to garden, research family history, work on our old house.

9. I like most types of music; not so keen on rap, grunge, newer country.

10. Don't like pastels or really bright colors for myself. Greens, muted or with a name like "lichen," are good, neutrals, rich blues and reds/maroon, even gold (but don't like orange or yellow).

11. I'm married with 3 kids (ages 19, 17, 13), two cats, and a beagle pup.

12. I'd like to travel. DH would drive a not-too-big motorhome as we explore the coast of *anywhere there's a coast* while I knit and enjoyed the scenery. We'd stop now and then to let the breeze blow through our hair, and at LYSs and antique shops (no room in the motorhome, so we'd just be lookin'). I'd also like to take two cruises -- the Inland Passage/Alaska and the Mediterranean. And other stuff...

So, there you go. All you *needed* to know and then some. Y'all have a GREAT weekend!

Calling all Pals

Did you sign up for SP2? Did you create an anonymous email account?? Didja check your mail??? I have purchased a few little trinkets for my SP, but would like to know more about him/her before I go shopping for important stuff like fiber. To that end, I sent an inquiring minds email a few days ago and have yet to receive a reply. Maybe he/she just wants to be surprised altogether! I can do that, too.

I got some good knitting time in last night. The first row tonight will commence the third repeat of the main chart for Cromarty! I am so happy about that. As with the first, the second repeat took nearly a full ball of Calmer. I called my LYS yesterday and she came up with one more ball in my dye lot while we were on the phone, but thought she might be able to come up with more. She's closed for the rest of this week, so will pop in sometime next week. Maybe I'll have had a reply from my SP by then, too; otherwise, I'll just have to buy the kind of stuff that I like!

Am still anxiously awaiting the hoped-for Fall issue of Interweave Knits that will mark the beginning of my subscription. I will likely sign up for the Flower Basket Shawl Along when magazine is in-hand.

Had some internet problems this morning, then a lost post, yaddayaddayaddaaaaa.

Clean as a whistle

SilkyThis is the scarf that will be frogged, but I thought I'd post it for the record. I recently subscribed to Interweave Knits, and hope that my request was timed so that the first issue I receive is the fall one. I've been seeing a pretty, little, triangular, lace scarf from that issue popping up on various blogs (did I see a knit-along, too?) and wonder if the Silky Wool would work for that. It's definitely the kind of thing my sister would like.

CromAug2And that nicely wound ball? I took the swift on her maiden voyage over the weekend. It had been ages since I used my ball winder, and discovered that it works much, much better when the metal yarn guide is employed! Duh. I resisted the temptation to wind many other hanks into balls, saving some of the fun for another day.

CromClose1CromClose2Also pictured is Cromarty as of last evening, BK (before knitting). I'm cruising right along these days -- some rows are more intense than others -- and feel like I have a good rhythm. While I'll never memorize the pattern, I am becoming very familiar with it and with what's supposed to happen, and if I have a brain-fart row (as I did last night), I can feel that something is wrong while I'm working the following row. I don't usually have two bad rows in a row. And I do love, love, love close-ups, so a couple more shots. The pics on the left are more true for the Laurel color.

The repairman was loading up the old water heater as I arrived home last night, so we did a little laundry and dishwasher catch-up, as well as taking nice, hot showers! Thanks for the great tub tip in the comments, Ann! I suppose a kettle of water is heated on the stove to a much higher temperature than you'd ever get out of a water heater, so it wouldn't take as much as one might think to make a comfortable bath. My hope, though, is that no one has a need to test this tip anytime soon.

I'll be in hot water

I hope I'll be in hot water today! What are the forces that conspire to make my water heater rupture on the weekend? Always the weekend. Every time. A&M were very brave yesterday and took cold showers. I was all ready to do so myself this morning, and made it as far as the bathroom before I changed my mind. Couldn't do it -- 5:30 a.m. is a bit too early! I sponged, fluffed my hair, sprayed an extra spritz of perfume -- and let's hope that Sears comes today to make good on their warranty.

DH just called with an update. Someone was at the door at 8:30 to verify that our water heater was, indeed, leaking. He was not authorized to replace it, though; that's a different department. What's this guy's department -- the water heater leak-verifying department? The store called at 10:00 and said that they're very busy, but they'll try to get someone (from the water heater replacement department?) out this afternoon. My fingers are crossed.

We went to the farmer's market early on Saturday morning and came home with an abundance of fresh produce. Bi-color corn, tomatoes, candy onions, blueberries, zucchini and pattypan squash. I love this time of year!

I played around making a chart for the Silky Wool scarf on Saturday. I did it on the computer. K called me a geek, "in a good way"! I cast on, knit a repeat, and it's not as wide as I'd like. And it's cables. While I love cables, I do have Cromarty and Tasha on my plate and St. Brigid is looming; I could use something without cables at the moment. I'll be froggin' and will do something different this time. Maybe something more open and lacy. We'll see... I do like working with the Silky Wool.

I spent some good time with Cromarty on Saturday night and Sunday and am about half-way through the second repeat of the main chart -- there will be 5 in all. It didn't take long to get back in the groove! I'm so glad to have it back home!