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December 2004
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February 2005

NorthstarpalmsI was surprised last night when I reviewed the weekend and realized that I actually got a lot done!  I finished the Natalya mitts for Mom (Happy Birthday/Anniversary Mom!) on Friday night.  On Saturday morning, they were washed and blocked along with the second North Star Mitten.  I've added pics of both to the Recently Completed photo album, as well as a pic of the tassled Tanguy hat!  Here's Kate showing the mitten palms and thumbs of equal length.  ; )  And Mom liked her mitts, once she figured out what they were.

Katie wants Natalya mitts, Ali wants Natalya mitts, Maddy wants Natalya mitts; actually, Maddy only wants one mitt and she pleaded with me to start on Friday night so that there'd be a chance of wearing it to school on Monday.  What's a mother to do?  Well, I'm not like that damn darn Norma.  I ignored the plea, mentioned that it was something that she could knit herself (with help, I would do that, but it would be a tubular straight-needle affair), and selfishly carried on with what I intended to do -- work on St. Brigid.

CapeFrogsFolk20mittensI'll admit that Saturday morning was quite lazy, but Katie, Ali & I got it together enough to go thrifting by early afternoon.  Kate found this cute, handmade, vintage cape -- nicely made (I pointed out how neatly the mitred plaid stripes lined up at the seams) with cute frog closures.  I usually don't find much of knitterly value when thrifting, but I never give up and hey, it paid off!  I found Folk Mittens for $4.99 at Goodwill!  And an issue of Knitter's from '86, I believe; I bought it for the articles.

CeilingOn Sunday morning, while I was making Chili All Day, DH was staining the ceiling.  Once the fumes subsided (early afternoon), I started wallpapering.  As I cut lengths, I discovered that the registration was wonky about half-way through one roll and got increasingly worse.  It's not like there's a color missing or got weird, but it's not nice and crisp.  It'll call for some strategic placement to minimize, because I can't get any more!  It's looking very cute; a sparse design of large pansies in muted colors that is reminiscent of a '30s-40s kitchen -- and that's exactly what this is!  I think I almost reached the half-way point by quitting time.

I think the weekend accomplishment about which I am most thrilled is that I finished the back of St. Brigid last night!!  I'll try to post some pics tomorrow.  I did seven repeats and the length is perfect.  Yowza!  I'll be casting on the front tonight and now I really am beginning to see the light!

Let me hear ya!

My sweet little Ali knows how to make her mother happy.  She came home from school yesterday and tossed two pieces of sheet music under my nose and said, "They're solos."  She'll be performing them at the solo and ensemble competition in about a month.  One is a song from Les Miserables (I don't remember the name) and the other is a song in French.  Some sort of theme?  Happy, happy, happy me!

My dental ordeal is over.  The permanent crown feels great and my choppers are clean and polished.  She did a full mouth x-ray and other than a possible touch of arthritis in my left jaw, everything looked fine.

I knit one round on Natalya last night and then realized that I'll probably be able to work on it at work today, so pulled out St. Brigid instead.  I'm closing in on the sixth repeat and a quick hold-up-and-comparison of the length to the sweater I was wearing tells me that I'll be doing a seventh.  I'll do more precise calculations very soon. I don't think it's unreasonable to think that I could have this piece off the needles this weekend.  That would leave one more piece just like it, sleeve saddles and collar to go!  It's still going to be a while, but I'm catching a glimpse of an FO at the end of the tunnel.

We'll be looking at February next week!  Have a great weekend everybody.

Are you sleeping?

It turned out to be a rather busy evening.  After running around, I finally sat down and worked on Natalya for a little while.  I was contemplating a little work on St. Brigid, too, but fell asleep in my chair at a little after 10:00 with Natalya on my lap.  She's little, but cozies up real nice!

I had the first Natalya mitt on my hand while I knit the second and I think it's a little scratchy.  It occurred to me that Mom has frequent issues with itchiness.  If they don't soften up after a Eucalan bath and blocking, I'm going to have to line them.  Great.

Ali has a plain old sore throat.  I'm still keeping my fingers crossed because the first test for strep isn't always accurate, and it'll be a day or two before we get the more accurate second test results.  After a nap yesterday, and again this morning, she said that she felt a little better.

I met Mom at a household sale on the way home from work last night.  The people lived in the house for 30 years and are moving to a new one.  The house was in a very cool neighborhood and was built in the '30s, I'd say, with likely additions along the way.  It meandered all over the place and it was easy to get disoriented!  Lots and lots of doors and stairways and little rooms -- it was three stories, not including the basement, and the third floor and many of the rooms were not even open to us!  Anyway, when the spring cleaning bug hits me (maybe March or April?), I'm going to keep this sale in mind -- if my stuff (17 years' accumulation and counting) was laid out for sale on tables, would it look like good stuff or like crap?  I'm going to try to weed out the crap.  After 30 years, with all that space for storage, you can imagine how much stuff/crap these people had -- 10 bazillion picture frames and baskets, trinkets and tools and appliances, every toy, game, puzzle and book that children and grandchildren ever played with -- crap, crap, crap.  We did get there late, so I know that most of the good stuff was already gone.  I recognized the name of the antique dealer who bought a chrome and naugahyde rocking chair and I can't wait to run into him again because my sister has the same chair -- I know that he only buys good stuff!  I'm sure it's headed to Chicago.

Built into the wall of one room was a small, arched opening with a door -- a phone cubby!  Those were the days when telephone tables were big, too.  Who sits while they're on the phone anymore?  My mom's parents' house, also built in the '30s, had one of those in the dining room, sans door -- I love little things like that in a house. We've got a crazy little feature (more of a puzzlement) like that in the room we're working on that I'll share with you soon.  (DH has been working hard, by the way, "committing" the paneling to the wall!)

It's a shame that I have to go to the dentist today and have the permanent crown put on -- I've never had a temporary that felt so comfortable and I can only hope that the real one will fit and feel as good.

Sunrise, sunset

Woo!  I did not have to turn my headlights* on when I drove home from work last night.  It was light!  And as I left for work this morning, the eastern sky was brightening.  This is big.

Winter in Wisconsin is cold, dark, and l-o-o-o-o-n-g.  There are certain events I watch for each year, milestones to spring.  One is the RV & Camping Show -- I don't have an RV and I don't really like camping (okay, I really kinda hate camping), but when this event occurs, I know that spring is on its way.  Another is the Boat Show; and you're right, I've never owned a boat.  (I once heard that the two happiest days for a boat owner are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells it.)  The RVCS is over and the BS is coming up.  I do attend the Home & Garden Show or the Winter Parade of Homes from time to time, both held in March, and when those two occur, it's really getting close!

I cast on and did about three repeats on Natalya last night.  I modeled the completed one for Maddy and told her that they were for her Nana.  She was surprised and asked why, informing me that only "punk kids" wear them at school.  Heh, her Nana will be a punk.  Ali loved it and thought about wearing it to school today.  I can see that I'll be making more...  St. Brigid was calling and calling and calling to me, so I pulled her out for a while, too!

Ack.  Ali's had a sore throat.  She says that it's "different" from any she's had before.  I took a look last night and it was very red and there were spots.  At least one friend was hospitalized with mono in recent weeks.  She doesn't appear to have any other symptoms, but we may be visiting the doc soon (like this afternoon); hopefully it's strep (hopefully!?) or maybe just a plain old sore throat!

*My Saturn has dim headlights that are always on when I'm driving, and I like it that way. 

Who's cooking?

Katie has met a boy who cooks.  Twenty-plus years ago, I met a boy who cooked.  He still cooks; currently, he's head chef at our house.  My advice to Kate?  Check the boy's repertoire.  We sometimes find ourselves in a rut 'round here.  I should have known early on...  When we were dating and the future DH had me over for dinner, the menu du jour (every du jour) was Ling Cod, broccoli, and brown rice.  He lived a few doors from a fish market and one wonders if that was the only type of fish they sold.  ; )

Natalya1I finished the first Natalya gauntlet, and I didn't have to stay up past bed time to do it!  Oooh, very nice.  Jodi's pattern is wonderful!  I hope to cast on the second today at lunch time.

Katie's coming home already this weekend for some art supplies that she needs.  My plan is to finish the second gauntlet, then wash and block them at the same time as the second mitten.  She can take the mitts back with her (only a week later than hoped) and I'll have to come up with something else to put in the mail for her.

Ali got her first perm on Saturday.  She didn't want curly, and she didn't get curly, but I think she's a little disappointed that it's not a little curlier.  Have I ever had a perm that I loved?  No.  Mistakenly going for some kind of '80s Barbra Streisand look, I actually had a perm un-done.  You know, that's not real good for your hair.  Thank goodness it grows fast.

Maddy went to see Phantom of the Opera over the weekend and loved it!  She said it was exactly like the stage production ("except it's a movie") that she saw a few months ago with my mom, and she wanted to see it again the very next day.

DH was freaking out over warping plywood last night.  He was ready to return it and buy different stuff at another place.  "Hello?"  I'm no expert, but I didn't see a great probability of the new/different stuff behaving any better.  I didn't really see any benefit to loading and unloading more of the same.  "How 'bout laying it flat?"  He agreed to that and then muttered something about "committing it to the wall" before it got all bent out of shape, so that's what he did.  I knit and conducted an occasional inspection of his work.  Approved!

Blahblahblah.  I'm done now.

Weekend Wrap

Knit pics tomorrow, I hope!  I finished the North Star Mittens during the "Bird Bowl" yesterday (Falcons vs. Eagles), but not in time for Katie to take them with her back to school.  I'll block the second one tonight and then send them to her, along with a forgotten pair of socks and anything else I may find.  Mail is always fun, even if it's mittens and socks.

I decided that I wouldn't have time to knit a bed jacket for Mom's birthday (a week from today), so started a pair of Jodi's Natalya (pdf file) gauntlets for her, instead.  I'm using the Debbie Bliss Merino Aran from a sweater I frogged, re-started, then decided against altogether a few weeks ago.  They're looking very nice.  I have about four inches completed on the first one and am trying to do cabling without a cable needle (more often than not, anyway).  I'll probably make a few more pair from that yarn (stash 'em away for gifts) and a baby thing or two from it, too.   I'd still like to make Mom a bed jacket, but she can help me choose a pattern and yarn; I'd hate to make something that she'd be "bleh" about.

Bathroomsketch1Bathroomsketch2One of the things about doing home improvement with King Futz & Putz is that he's detail-oriented and thorough.  He is also very good at taking my ideas and chicken scratching and making them look better -- with perspective and everything!  It's been a couple of years since the upstairs bathroom was completed, but I still have the sketch he made taped to the inside of the doorway.  It's uncanny how true it is.

Kitchenwall1I'm sure that the upstairs kitchen will turn out just as well.  He's going to have to make a sketch on paper rather than the wall, though.  Yesterday, I cleaned and spray-painted the stripped light fixture bases and we re-installed them.  King F&P went to the lumber yard and brought home wood and paneling and I helped him unload.  The walls are so bad up there, that we actually will be applying thin plywood paneling, rather than just making it look like paneled walls.


Rest in peace, Johnny Carson.  You will be missed.

Twenty years and a day

Well, you guys are just the cat's pajamas.  Thanks for all your kind words about the kitchen, the baby hat, my priceless jewels, and for the happy wishes yesterday.  It was so nice to have people coming out of the wordwork, too!  I'm enjoying the box of chocolates that DH gave me (he knows what I like), and he's been rolling the "Love Dice" that I gave him.  It's really kind of nice to have a wedding anniversary when the lovey-dovey Valentine stuff starts hitting the shelves.  So far, he's rolled a "Rub My..." "Surprise!"  Heheheheh.

I write these posts on the fly, off the top of my head, usually, and the stream is oft interrupted, so I would like to clarify, for Karen, that I did find the pearl... I nearly fainted when I realized that it was probably the "bead" I so carelessly kicked across the floor -- and it sure was.  I'm so lucky I didn't lose it forever.  My sister lost the diamond from her engagement ring a long time ago, and it's believed that the vacuum cleaner ate it before she even realized it was missing.  Anyway, please let me know when I wander off the trail and leave y'all hangin', okay?

OuchI found two wedding snapshots, Katy (I think any others may have been thrown out with the dress -- these may soon follow), and I just can't post 'em.  I'm sorry; they're awful.  I'll try to find something from that era so you can see how "cute" we were.  Kt was flipping through a stack last night and told her dad that he looked like a movie star (yeah, he really needs to hear that); and I think she was trying to make me feel better when she said that everything would have been fine with me if it wasn't for the '80s hair.

But I do have a picture for you.  Kate & I ran down to the thrift store and I found a knitting book from 1972 -- it was full of "pantsuits."  These are called "winter playsuits."  They look like heavy long johns, to me.  There is a pattern for a cute pair of baby patchwork bell bottoms in the book, and a few other tidbits.  Y'all know that I'm old already, so I'm not afraid to tell you that I had a few pantsuits.  The kids totally burst my bubble when they saw an old home movie of us -- me in my favorite pantsuit -- playing kickball and told me that it looked like a Santa Claus suit.  Thankfully, it wasn't just me they picked on; one of my sister's was wearing "pilgrim shoes."

DH patched and plastered the walls yesterday.  It's taken us so long to get going on this project, but once we start we keep on rollin'!  The ceiling fixture came down last week and the many coats of paint on the metal base were pretty flaky.  I threw it in a pot of boiling water and stripped it right down.  Tomorrow, I'll do the same with the matching fixture over the sink, then spray paint them.  They're probably from the '30s and very cute, so I'd like to keep them.

I do believe the North Star Mittens will be finished by Sunday, as hoped.  I ripped down to the missed stitch -- how many times have I knit Row 10?  I dropped a different stitch down a few rows beyond that and fixed a spot in the salt-and-pepper pattern where I had salt-salt, pepper-pepper.  Tonight, I'll put the thumb gusset stitches on a holder and carry on with the hand.  If I have any other knitting time left this weekend, I'll be working on St. Brigid.  Kim posted a picture the other day, a tempting reminder of what I could be wearing right now.  And Katy (same link as above), our lovely knit-along hostess, didn't have much much fodder from the knit-alongers for her update post earlier this week.

Twenty years ago today...

20years1_120years2_1...we were married by a JP at our home in a small Oregon coast town.  We had a very small ceremony followed by a potluck "reception," also at home.  DH had given me this ring, made by an artist friend, a few months earlier and it became my wedding ring.  The pearl and some of the gold is from a ring that was his mother's -- a beautiful ring that I'd never have let him transform, but I wasn't given a choice.  This one is pretty cool, though, huh?  From time to time, I do like to point out that the woman is bending over backwards to do her part -- and speculate.  Out loud.  I do realize that certain parts of the male anatomy might be bothersome to my middle finger if he was also bending over backwards.

Several years ago, I was walking through the kitchen and there was a bead in the middle of the floor.  I was in too much of a hurry at the time to pick it up, so kicked it to the side (where there were many more wayward beads -- the grrs were little, ya know -- the floor was swimming with them).  A little while later I noticed that the pearl was missing from my ring!  Mmmhm, it was the very "bead."

CableringThis morning, DH had his coffee in his 20-year-old mug --  I have gone through innumerable coffee mugs in our years together, but he is still using one the $3.00 mug that I gave him on the day we got married.  The stores were full of Valentine things, being that time of year, and I spied a mug that said, "I *heart* my husband." Hey, I thought, I'm gonna have a husband!  After 7,000+ dishwashings, the black lettering on that mug has all but disappeared; the red heart, however, is still bright as the day I bought it.

Looks like my hands could use some lotion.  As long as I was photographing jewelry, I thought I'd show you what he gave me for Christmas (now that I have one that fits).  When the Harlot had a link to this ring last month as a knitterly gift idea, I immediately forwarded the link to DH.  Obviously, he liked it, too.  With my short, stubby fingers, it's probably not a style best suited to me, but I like it anyway.

CeilingdoneWhen I first met DH, he was doing finish work on a home that he'd built.  I would sit and knit, and enjoy watching him work (yeah, a man with a tool belt).  It wasn't long before I was assisting.  I eventually got my own hammer, but he had me doing grunt work first -- like digging a trench for footings for an addition.  Isn't that romantic?  Twenty years later, we're still swinging hammers.  We finished the ceiling yesterday!

Knitting News:  Thanks for all the nice comments on the conehead hat.  I did get around to making a multi-colored tassel yesterday, but it was past daylight and the picture was crap.  I got the RH mitten back on the needles, knit five rounds, and then discovered a wayward dropped stitch on the palm.  I decided it was time to go to bed...


Tanguy1Isn't it the cutest thing?  It still needs a tassel, and I think that's going to really make this hat.  I do believe his will fit a newborn, and I think I'll make another in the toddler size and switch up the colors.

NorthstarrippedAfter getting the hat off the needles, I pulled out the offending RH mitten and ripped away -- first the thumb, then the hand.  It wasn't as difficult as I feared.  Today I'll get it back on the needles, figure out where I am, and carry on.  I've got more than half a mitten to do, but considering everything, I feel like I'm on the home stretch!  I'd like to finish these by Sunday so Katie can take them back to school with her.  After having her home for a month, it will be weird when she leaves.

Kate helped DH put boards up on the ceiling yesterday before she had to go to work.  They did about half of what needed to be done, and I'll help DH finish it off today.  The last board might be a little futzy, but that's King Futz & Putz's department.

Question.  I've seen this come up now and then over the past few months, but 'til now I really haven't had a problem.  Now, my bandwidth usage is soaring.  I have read the recommendations to rename picture files now and then; I haven't tried that yet, but think it means that I'll have to reinsert the picture file with the new name in the post.  Am I right?  That sounds time-consuming.  What do y'all do?

It fits like a mitten!

I was anxious to unpin my LH mitten last night. I thought about it all day yesterday -- really had doubts that the blocking would give me the extra length I needed -- and was fully prepared, mentally and emotionally, for Plan B.  The first thing I noticed when I slipped that mitt onto my hand was how soft and pliable it was.  Mmm.  The second thing I noticed was that my middle finger, though touching the top of the mitten, was not trying to poke through.  There was room!  It's not Max Headroom, but room enough.  I had the fittin' mitten on my hand a lot last night.

So, the next step is to rip and re-do the RH mitten.  I'll need to rip to where I left off on the thumb gusset, knit the gusset to the proper length, and carry on from there.  Then I'll give it the same wet block treatment.  This will be tedious at the start because I already wove in the ends on that one.  I weave and hide 'em pretty well.  In the end, these mittens will be given to Katie; she has the smallest hands among us and, though I could wear them, they're better sized for her.  I'll move on to another pair, thank you!

I worked on the sweet Tanguy hat last night, but not as much as I'd have liked.  Interruptions prevented it being an FO, but I think you may see one tomorrow!

In the Land of Futz & Putz

Yep, step right up for your daily dose of lunacy!  Bonne Marie calls it "mitten mania" (isn't she kind!).  She linked me in her sidebar and she *hearts* me, she really *hearts* me!  I'll tell ya, it's better than a triple-chocolate brownie for breakfast.  It was while doing an internet search back in February or March for something knitting-related that I happened upon ChicKnits and what a treasure trove of information, inspiration and energy it was.  I sat bug-eyed at my computer for days and days and days.  Her site was my portal to the world of knitbloggers, too; prior to that, I had no idea that there was such a thing and only vague knowledge of blogs in general. I added her to my Favorites and she was my jumping-off point for a long time ('til I started my own blog, I guess).  I would have to say that, unbeknownst to her I'm sure, Bonne Marie is the #1 reason why I started blogging and why I look at my knitting so differently now -- the woman is fearless in everything she does (the way she cuts things up without even a tremble!) -- and shows everyone WHO's the BOSS:  You Are!

Northstarblocked_1I finished the thumb while watching the Eagles send the Vikings packing, then took Stephanie's advice and blocked it -- wet, no steam -- and it's still pinned out so I don't know the result.  I may have found a little extra length, but is it enough?  When I look at my fingers in relation to my thumb on my hand, and then look at the same on this picture, well, they're a lot different.  Results of the jury will be forthcoming tomorrow.  I didn't lose any sleep over it.

The little Tanguy hat is progressing -- the triangles and brim are finished and standing by on the needles to be joined with the hat.  The hat was cast on with an "invisible cast on," which I'd never done before, and I hope it's right; I followed directions from my Vogue Knitting reference book (the only book of three where I found directions).  I'm at the point where I'm making decreases every 3rd row, so it shouldn't be long.  This little thing may be small (I did not swatch), but it's so cute and quick that even if it fits a teddy bear, I'll be just fine.  I love the way it just sits there in Kate's picture and think it would make lovely decor, too.  I'm using lovely beaded stitch markers that Yvette sent me long ago -- finally something on small enough needles to use them.  They're very cute (thanks, Yvette!).

Kitjan16I had a hammer in my hand and nails in my pocket for a good part of the weekend.  This is where we were at game time (noon) yesterday.  If there was a Land of Futz and Putz, my dear husband would be king; he spent nearly the entire day on Saturday working on those little strips onto which we're nailing the beadboard -- cutting them "just so" in order to make the ceiling level, screwing them into the ceiling, putting in shims here and giving a shave there, and Good God, Let's Get On With It!!  The whole damn room and everything in it is off-kilter, but the ceiling will be level!  Anyway, we were more than half-way by the time we called it quits yesterday.  It's looking very fine -- and level.

In between construction and knitting, I finally hooked up our refurbished computer, installed a mouse with a cord on another (the wireless is great but very jumpy), did lots o' laundry, roasted a chicken, and watched a little football.  I didn't leave the house even once.  Too darn cold, for one thing!

Like my new mittens?


Faced with a case of Mitten Indecision, I did what any number of YOU would do, and "swatched" for a baby hat.  Kate's adorable Tanguy pattern, to be precise.  (Oh, and go look at her new shoes!)

I've received a number of very good suggestions about the mittens -- from frogging to blocking to using them as decoration.  Decor:  The decoration idea is familiarBlock:  I might be able to block the left-hand mitten, but that still leaves the right all funky and the thumb is just not right.  Frog:  How I feel about frogging depends on my mood -- sometimes I'm okay with it, let's frog 'em and start over, and sometimes I wonder just how much (or little) I'd have to frog.

Here's what I'm gonna do:  I'll try blocking the left-hand mitten to see if it shapes up.  There's no hope that the right-hand mitten would ever match with its misplaced and mistaken thumb. But if LH succumbs responds, I'll frog RH to the thumb, fix it, and carry on.  If LH does not bend to my will respond, I will rip it a little (maybe half-way or so), figure out how to artfully add the needed extra rows for length, and then rip/fix/re-do RH to match.

Then, I'll figure out what to do with the extra mitten yarn that I sent Kt to get yesterday.  It's wonderful having a daughter who is more than willing to make an emergency run to the LYS.  My cost for her services?  Two hanks of yarn from the sale bin.  Yeah.  And the yarn she brought me is a little different, anyway; I already wound it up, so it's mine in any case.

Meanwhile, the little hat swatch is adorable, no?  My baby sis with the growing bump is going to be 40 on the 23rd and wouldn't this be a cute little addition to her gift?  And then I realized mid-week that Mom's birthday is on the 31st!  When I asked her if there was anything on her wish list and she blew me away by saying that she's been looking at bed jackets!  She likes to read in bed, but doesn't like to take her arms out from under the covers because they get cold.  I said, "Huh, a person could knit one of those..."

Shot to hell

I don't know where to begin.  Let's start at the very beginning (it's a very good place to start) because it wasn't far from there that it all started.  I've been putting the mittens on and comparing feel and fit and trying to figure out what the difference is.  The hands of both mittens were knit from a chart, so there is no variation in the number of rows or stitches there.  The mittens are basically the same size, but they fit very, very differently.

The right-hand mitten has plenty of room for fingers, both length-wise and width-wise -- very comfy there -- but the thumb has always been a bit tight.  It's not uncomfortable, but it's not perfect.  The braid always bothered me a little bit, too; it falls at the bottom of my palm, not at the wrist.  Given that this was my first mitten of this sort, I was willing to live with these little things.

But the left-hand mitten has different problems.  My middle finger doesn't have enough room -- it keeps wanting to poke out the top of the mitten; the decreases for the top start way too soon and it's just tight, length-wise and width-wise.  But the thumb is VERY comfortable and the braid falls right where I want it at the wrist.

Hmm.  There's a perfect top on the right and a perfect bottom on the left.  There must be something wrong in the middle.  And there is.  It's the thumbs -- they're different.  They're in the middle, but they actually start at the beginning, and I don't think I knit the right one correctly.  I think I put the stitches on the holder as soon as I finished with the gusset increases, and I should have knit it straight for a while longer.

What it all means, in a nutshell (what? a nutshell now?? in the fifth paragraph??), is that they're just both wrong and if I want mittens that fit the same, there's a lot of frogging, re-figuring, and re-knitting to do.  I could lay some blame on the pattern -- the one that has directions for Women's Medium, Men's Medium and Men's Large and charts for Women's Small, Men's Medium and Men's Large, as well as directions for the pattern and thumb gore for two right mittens, but no left (mostly just typos, but still), and gauge given vaguely as "7 sts = 1 inch" (is that stitches and rows?).  I suppose I should have verified said gauge somehow, maybe by knitting a swatch, or just quickly calculating stitches/rows/inches.  Truthfully, my gauge is very close.

A small part of me wants to just forget it and move on, chalk it up to experience.  A bigger part of me wants to knit these mittens so they fit.  I love how they look and they really are fun to knit and I've worked so hard that now I want them.  It's like the gauntlet (they're mittens!) has been thrown down. I'm going to have a duel -- and I'm going to win!

Two more nutshells:  1) I was numb 'til nearly 5:00 last night!  2) The upstairs kitchen is looking fine -- very weird since it's empty and hasn't been that way in YEARS.  Work will continue there tomorrow.

Have a great weekend (it's very sunny here, but FRIGID).

Vicki Needle-Fingers

Northstar6I don't care how many mittens I knit, I don't think I'll ever stop trying it on in the middle of knitting the thumb with DPNs going every which way.  It tickles me.  Even when I'm somewhat displeased with the mitten (like now), this little trick humors me.

Yes, I am displeased.  I finished 'er off last night and tried it on.  Hmm.  Somewhere between the first and second snowflake on this little number, I must have given up my loose ways because this baby is SMALL.  I was so happy with the feel and fit at the half-way point, but man, things changed.  It even looks smaller -- noticeably -- than the right-hand mitten.

So what did I do?  I pulled out the Tanguy pattern and drew the Baby Ull near.  I knew that starting the hat, no matter how fun and new (and colorful), was not going to make things right with the mitten, but I needed a diversion -- even if only for a minute.  I read through the hat pattern and contemplated colors, then I picked up the thumb stitches on the mitt.  I'll knit the thumb, then tear out half the stupid mitten (that I really do love very much, just not so much right this minute) and re-knit it.  I'll do it all before starting the cute little hat (or anything else).

Upkit1Before leaving for my dentist appointment this morning, I cleared all the crap out of the upstairs kitchen.  We don't use it as a kitchen, of course (it's storage, what else?), but the cabinets and sink are still there (handy, too!).  The big hunk o' plaster missing from the ceiling came crashing down some time ago while my young nephew was upstairs playing.  I believe he thought that the sky was falling, or that somehow it must have been his fault.  Poor thing.  In reality, it's the result of having hired the roofer from hell some time prior to that.  Yes, hiring a shitty roofing contractor can have major consequences on the ceilings in your home.  Especially an older home with lathe and plaster.  Cheap can end up costing LOTS.

So, it's really been quite some time since that chunk fell down, and the walls suffered from some of our own happy hands at home remodeling downstairs (jacking up a wall, putting in a microlam beam), and we've decided that it's finally time to fix it.  While I was listening to Elton John (quite loudly) on headphones as the dentist broke a sweat scraping plaque and tartar off half my teeth, Kate & DH took the plaster off the ceiling.  He's up there cleaning up the mess (Kt's on her way to a knitting at the coffee shop date with one of her friends!) and I'm waiting for feeling and normal speech to return.  We left the lathe and will staple some plastic over it later today.  I can't staple with a numb mouth.  Then we'll be putting up beadboard -- I love that stuff.  We're going to do a panelled (but not really) thing on the walls that'll go up about 3/4, and I have some pansy wallpaper (scored at a rummage sale last summer) that will cover the rest.  There's a lot to do before we get to that point, though.

Celia's International Pajama Day is on my calendar.  Sunday, February 6th.  It's not official -- cripes, who would schedule that on a TUESDAY? -- but who cares, it's pajamas?  Honest to God, have you ever seen anyone looking more relaxed than Celia?  I want to look like that.  I will!

Okey dokey, how 'bout some knitting

Northstar4Northstar5It's nearly a pair of North Star Mittens!  I ran out of gas at the point where the top shaping begins.  These will certainly be finished by the weekend.  I couldn't be more pleased with how the second mitten is turning out.  I'm knitting looser and, so far, it fits and feels so much better than the first.  I may end up re-knitting the right-hand mitt.

Northstarinside1Northstarinside2See how nice the inside looks?  In both pics, the first mitt is on the left and the second is on the right.  I'm much more consistent with how I'm carrying the yarn.  I like the inside or wrong side of things to look nice, too.  That's been drilled into my head since before I even took up needles of any kind.  My maternal grandmother died when I was in third grade and I don't have any memory of her actually doing handwork, but she did a LOT.  (According to my mom, she rarely finished any of it.  I finished one of her cross-stitch pillow tops long after she died, and it's a treasure.)  Anyway, at every opportunity, my mom would tell us that her mother always said that it's important to make the back look as neat as the front.  I imagine that great grandma was a stickler, too.  With those words rolling 'round in my head, you should see the back of some of my cross-stitch pieces!

Baby20ullK27s20hairMail call!  The whole family shrugged and said, "Oh, it's probably yarn from one of mom's knitting friends."  Right-O!  It was Baby Ull in yesterday's mail; my recent effort to help Jody with stash reduction.  The first thing that came to mind is "Tanguy," one of the cute-beyond-words patterns that I recently purchased from Kate.  I haven't checked to see if this yarn would actually work, but I'm hoping.  Can't you see it?

My very own Kate is having fun with her new short hair.  I'm working on replies, but I'd just like to thank you all again for your comments about her gift to Locks of Love and her cute new 'do.  I was surprised at how many people are growing their hair in order to do the same.  It's really a wonderful thing.

If a person has two left feet...

...might they have two right hands?  If only that were true, the little knitting that was accomplished at Chez Knitorious over the weekend might have been worth keeping.  Instead, after discovering (half-way through the thumb gusset) that I was making a second right-hand mitten, it was recovery mode knitting.  Had it not been for the frogging, I might soon have a finished mitten.  In a pathetic and pitiful attempt at defense, I'm just going to say that there has been very little difference between left and right in any of the other mittens I've made so far.  I'm thinking (hoping) that it's one of those make it once and you'll never forget again mistakes.

ScampDuncan1Scamp and Duncan were nearby as I took down the tree on Saturday afternoon.  The new toilet came in two great new boxes with cut-out handles that I decided to use for holiday decor, so the box that Scamp found so comfy is not really needed anymore.  There are a few things under all the tissue that I still need to rescue -- like the preschool "Angel Ai" gift where her "wings" are her handprints in gold paint and her picture is pasted atop a gold paper "dress," and it's the funniest and sweetest thing ever because she has the most sour grapes look on her face!  Duncan was curled up on the skirt, right under the tree, the whole time.  I found a fair number of cat toys ornaments rolling around on the floor behind the tree, but all were intact.

I continue to be absolutely astounded at how well Duncan has been accepted into our family -- especially by the other cats.  Scamp's "spot" is atop my wingback recliner* in the living room.  He was perched up there last night watching while I was trying to discourage Duncan from using my chair as a scratching post.  Smart little kitty that he is, he went 'round back where my foot couldn't reach and I heard him claw his way all the way up -- right next to Scamp!  There was barely a reaction.

*Once upon a time, several years ago, DH went out of town on business for a few weeks.  I don't think he'd even made it to the corner before I embarked on a sudden mission to clean and rearrange the living room.  I had a wingback recliner then, too, that DH had given me for Christmas some years before.  That's where I'd sit while nursing Mdd, and 4-year-old Ai would use the wing as leverage to swing in and say, "Hi," eventually crippling the wing.  DH "fixed" the gimpy wing by driving in two long, black screws -- right into the side of a chair with very light-colored upholstery.  The chair had other problems, too, having to do with toddlers, grape juice, Silly Putty...  It took me a split-second to decide that if I was going to move it at all, the only place for it was the curb.  In a heartbeat, I was on my way to a nearby furniture outlet where I bought a new recliner.  In an "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" moment, I also bought a second chair.  And an oak entertainment center.  And I could not wait a day or two for delivery -- no adrenalitis here -- so arranged a truck from work to go pick it up and bring it over.  When it arrived at my doorstep, the roar turned into a "What have I done?  What got into me?" wimper and the realization that it was too late to turn back and I'd have to tell DH that I not only bought a chair without even giving him a clue, but two other pieces of furniture besides.  Even at an outlet center, three pieces of fabulously priced furniture does not equal chump change!  I did not fear DH or his reaction, and I did not incur debt, but had never done anything quite like that before and was rather embarrassed to have to admit that I'd gone off like a loose cannon.  Okay, sorry; I'm foaming at the fingertips.  I guess there should be a moral to this story.  Hm, quite a few, but chief is that this was like being high -- and that recliner, so enjoyed by members of my household, serves as a daily reminder of how quickly I can be swept away, almost unaware.

For the record

Kafter1Kafter2_1I'm sorry to have kept you waiting.  For the record, the shorn hunk o' hair belonged to my eldest daughter, Katie.  She of the pin-curled 'do seen on these pages from time to time -- it's still pretty incredible to me that she could get curls like that from such long, long hair.  But that's history now -- she'd be a shoe-in for Little Orphan Annie if she tried that with her new locks.

Kate has been growing her hair out for a while now -- a couple of years -- and was only waiting to find a short haircut that she liked.  She finally found one last week (on another blog, I do believe), made the call, and was in the chair bright and early on Saturday morning.

Kafter3_1Kb4Isn't it great?  It was very, very weird to see and handle her hair like that.  She was extremely proud to measure it (14" was a surprise), pack it up, and address the envelope to Locks of Love.

Katie said it's especially fun to shake her head!  She's been doing a little extracurricular thinning and trimming this weekend, getting it "just so."  With that perfect oval face, she can do anything.

I forget that we don't "see" each other everyday and that there have been lots of new visitors these days, besides, who have not had to endure the endless parade of kid pics on this blog.  I've only posted two pics of myself -- one as a pinhead in a group shot, the other around Thanksgiving -- so can't blame anyone for missing them!  I do not have red hair, myself, though my stylist found one once (and yanked it to show me)!

Thank you all for the fabulous comments.  Katie had a great time reading them all, too.

Stop kicking me!

Jan6th0002Jan6th0001The mitten is kicking my butt.  I did not have the mistake I feared yesterday, but found an earlier mistake -- in the first row of the braid -- and ripped it all the way back.  I'd purled the damn row rather than knit.  That's the third time I've knit that braid.  It can only be lack of concentration -- I was so intent on following directions the first time and didn't have a single problem, me and my cocky attitude are being put in our place with the second.

There are no guarantees that I even did Meg's Jogless Jog correctly, but you see the result at right compared to plain ol' circular stripes (spiral) on the left.  What do you think; is it an improvement or a wash?  I think it's kind of a wash.

ClosureI've been playing with closures for the SP2 Shapely Shawlette.  I wear it a lot and had been making a knot, but then I look like I have a uniboob when I put on a jacket.  When Lynne sent my prize alpaca, she'd tied it all up and included was a sparkly, plastic belt buckle which I used the other day. This is one that I cut off an unused belt I had.  It works very nicely and lays pretty flat -- I'm looking forward to thrift shopping for potential shawl closures!

Jan6thmail_1It was a good mail day yesterday -- two packages!  The first contained books (the redemption of my B&N Christmas gift card), and the second was a leather coin purse that my sister made for me.  Every year, for the past several, she's made "Martha gifts" for our mom, her MIL, Inspectionsometimes sisters and SILs -- always a project from Living magazine.  This year, it was leather coin purses.  She had extra leather, so made one for me -- and look what I found inside!

DuncanI'm ready to talk about Duncan now.  Who knew that the best way to introduce a new cat is to throw 'em all off-guard with a dog, first!  When Ai's friend called before Christmas and asked if we could adopt her 4-month-old kitty because things weren't working out well at her house, my hesitations were 1) do we really need a third cat/fourth pet and 2) the poor kitties have just gotten used to a dog, how will they react to a new cat?  Well, apparently Scamp & Roxie figure that there's strength in numbers -- I cannot believe how well Duncan has been "accepted."  Hmmm, not with hugs and kisses from the others, but not nearly the amount of hissing and spitting and pet mayhem that I was expecting.  Duncan has melted our hearts, for sure, a real sweetie-pie, and he has obviously charmed the other felines, too.

Coming up on Monday:  someone's getting a new 'do.  Have a great weekend!


I had the mitten in my lap -- finally finished the cuff and did the braid (oops, had to rip that back once and re-do).  Man, that braid is so cool.  I goofed up on the foundation row for the hand, so there's a row waiting to be tinked tonight.  The mitten in the book was knit with red and purple yarn and the chart is red and blue, but I'm knitting red and white and what's red in the chart is what I'm knitting white -- yeah.  It's a nice, colorful book, but I really think generic black and white charts would have been easier for people who are not knitting exactly as shown.  I'll try to take a pic tonight to show the cuff striping with and without Meg's Jogless Jog.

I had my visit with the dentist yesterday.  I'll be going back next week and two weeks after that for a crown over the broken tooth and extensive cleaning.  I was happily surprised that the crown was one (the longest lasting and most expensive) of three options she gave me.  She did not say the dreaded words "root canal"; instead, she said the other dreaded words, "periodontal disease."  I have never had a root canal (knocking on wood), but every time DH has a tooth problem, that's how it seems to end. Along with my new toothbrush, she gave me a Reach Access flosser -- I have a small mouth and tight, crooked teeth; of course, I've always known that flossing is important, but it's a HUGE pain in the butt so a rare occurrence.  I know that's bad.

Next up, new lenses for my glasses -- after I pay for all the dental junk.  My current pair, the first with no-line bifocals, are only a year old.  My last two pairs of glasses had non-scratch coating and for some reason on these, the most expensive by far, they neglected to do so and they are bad, really bad.  I've had thoughts of laser vision correction; if I only knew about the long-term.

See the new button?  Knitters Without Borders.  I wish I could have done what Laurie did, but KWB had not yet been born.  Yeah, knitters, over $18K!

Old Mother Hubbard

There's a pathetic lack of knitting content.  I've decided that I don't like the cardigan re-do -- this realization came at about the 12-inch mark on the back.  Maybe it has to do with frogging and giving it a bath, but I just don't like how it feels -- not substantial enough for a cardigan (at least not this pattern).  Hopefully, I can come up with a good use for that yarn, because I do like it.  I gave both St. Brigid and the North Star Mitten a thought last night, but I guess it was late and I was feeling tired.  I was wearing a sweater, too, and it's a struggle knitting with DPNs while I wear a sweater -- like it would be real easy to make mitten and sweater one!  I paged through a few books with baby knitting in mind, instead.  I hope to return you to your regularly scheduled knitting blog soon.

Dsc03409_1Meanwhile, Cara asked about what's in my cupboard yesterday, so I'll show and tell.  Atop are some of the pieces my dad has turned for me from various woods.  Some have covers, some are lazy susans, some have interesting grain features.  The top shelf is home to some porcelain dolls -- all but the dark-haired one and jester were made by my grandma for the grrs.  There's also a playful, ceramic candleholder that Kt made in 2nd or 3rd grade -- I should have taken a close-up of that; it has joyful figures of children around it and never fails to bring a smile.

At left on the middle shelf is a Lefton piggy bank with an iridescent glaze and applied flowers that I got for my 6th birthday.  It was dropped on the fireplace hearth when I was about 8 (I think my brother had something to do with that) and one of the rear legs broke off, but I love my gimpy pig.  There's some pansy stuff -- two plates and a compact -- a glued-together sauce dish (my fault) in the same pattern as dishes one of my great grandmothers had, another Halloween-ish school clay project, a small silverplate jewelry casket that my mom bought at Goodwill ages ago for $1 (in the days when they'd meet and buy stuff right off the truck), Mdd's Cinderella figurine from Disneyland, jars of dried lavender buds from my own garden, and some dried hydrangea flowers from the same.

The lower shelf is more mish-mash.  An old covered sewing basket, more turned wood, some tins, lavender wands that I made years ago, a vintage hat, an old "Mother" motto print with pansies, and a gorgeous vintage tile that looks like it has a marijuana leaf design.  The back of that tile is almost as interesting as the front, the manufacturer's name imprinted with flair and style -- I feel the same about the backs of some of my old cabinet photos.

The cabinet looks like furniture, but we did build it in -- it's screwed to the wall and there's quarter-round all around the bottom.  It's a funny room, part of an addition to the house that was made in the '20s or '30s -- huge for a bathroom -- and until our remodel a few years ago, didn't have a single electrical outlet!  It's toward the rear of the house, but there is one more room beyond -- it is one of my favorites in the house and if I could have everything I wanted, it would have become part of the bathroom.  As it is, there's another huge old cupboard with drawers that I once marked with clothing sizes and used to store the grrs' hand-me-downs, and a cabinet at the top where I store all the Christmas stuff.  Opposite that is a narrow, steep stairway to the attic -- there are drawers built in beneath those stairs.  It is the coolest thing -- drawers in a triangular space.  The entire room is hideously painted and is used for storage (what else?) and needs a good cleaning.

Do you think Stephanie had her little "lie down" yesterday after breaking $10,000 for Doctors Without Borders in about 24 hours?  I think it's more likely that she fainted -- the total this morning is over $15,000.  Unfreakingbelievable!  I think she may have recruiters on her tail soon, and offers in a new career -- fundraising!  Bravo to her for thinking up a great idea, explaining it all very well, and using her popularity to do good, and even more to all of her generous readers.  It's amazing.  And don't forget about the patterns -- socks and wristlets -- the proceeds of which will go to Oxfam or Unicef (I fixed the links in yesterday's post).  My PayPal transfer was finally official this morning, and that's the first thing I did today!


Bathroom0001This is what DH was doing when I got home from work last night.  He said he'd just "see how it goes" and told me (with a grin) that the hardware store was open 'til 8:00.  When he replaced the commode in the downstairs bathroom in May, it took most of a day and a couple of store runs.  This installation was pretty smooth; he was finished before 8 and we had a time out for dinner, too.  Woohoo!

Bathroom0002And that's not all the privy news you're privy to...  My sister called last night and she has a brand new outhouse.  Believe me, it's absolutely thrilling.

I thought y'all might like to see the the cabinet in the bathroom.  We traded some "architectural elements" that DH salvaged from a local remodeling project for this little jewel.  It was originally a built-in, so the sides were single, unpainted boards.  We beefed them up and used some moulding to hide the seam, and then put on a top and a crown.  I matched the original paint and put on a fresh coat, and also painted the outside of the HUGE clawfoot tub that color (a little of that is visible in the potty pic).

Duncan0003Oh, that bathroom...  When we first bought our house, it was a two-family:  the lower unit included one upstairs bedroom, and the upper was the remainder of the upstairs.  We occupied the lower, so I didn't ever see much of this room.  I did know that one wall was papered with flocked wallpaper (every room in the house had one papered wall) -- olive green flocking on a metallic gold background.  Kinda '60s foyer-ish, not bathroom-ish -- at any point in time!  I stripped the flocked paper sometime between tenants.  And a couple of years ago, we did a near total overhaul -- the tub and toilet were all that remained of the original.  Heh, that tub ain't never goin' nowhere -- it must weigh a ton!

I knit a very little bit, but mostly tried to keep my eyes open during a family viewing of "The Terminal" last night.  Soooooo sleeeeeepy.  Oh yeah, say howdy to Duncan and don't even ask me why there's another cat in my house... but isn't he cute?


Hearts are heavy in Salt Lake City; Margene had sad news this morning.  The devastation of the tsunami, half a world away, is unbelievably far-reaching.  For over a week, the family of a friend of my sister's in NW Wisconsin awaited news from a family member vacationing in Thailand.  They finally had word from her yesterday; she'd been completely unaware of events, having gone on an expedition far into the mountains.  I hope more stories end that way.

Hugs & Kisses Sock pattern, proceeds to Oxfam; Eyelet Rib Wristlets pattern, proceeds to Unicef; Mittens Without Borders incentive, benefitting Doctors Without Borders.

The company you keep

It's an honor just to be nominated...  It tickles me to no end that I won a JenLa Best of 2004 award in the Best Family Stories, Please Adopt Us! category.  They wrote, "Seriously, don't you wish Vicki was your mom?"  That humors me because 1) when I was little and people asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd always say, "A mom," 2) my own mom says that I'm often more like the mother than she is (that's part of a longer family story) and that she sometimes defers to me as if I were her mother (I'm sure there's a story there, too, or at least some psychology), and 3) I really do enjoy being a mom, I love my girls, and apparently it shows.  I've made my acceptance speech at the JenLa blog and I'm starstruck to be in the illustrious company of other members of the academy award-winners.

TvKiln This is what it looks like to be stuck in a hotel room, watching The History Channel, while waiting for van repairs when you were supposed to be on the road, heading to Gulf Shores.  They did swing by Gulf Shores and Kiln, MS, too, as you can see.  The kids said that there were lots of folks honking when they posed for the picture in Kiln.  They finally made it to New Orleans and, even though tired, spent a little time on Bourbon Street -- shopping and taking pictures.  They met up with their grandpa (DH's dad) and a good time was had by all.

BourbonstThey stopped in at work on Friday at 10 a.m. on their way home and Maddy went right over to pick up Mickey.  That was one happy little dog!  That evening (after naps) we had our 6th Annual New Year's Eve get-together with friends and family who brought way too much food and, you know, once that bubbly starts flowing... let's just say that I really like it!  This is a tradition that began on New Year's Eve 1999 -- we had a fire in the pit in the ravine, shot off fireworks in the snow, and waited for the lights to go out and ensuing chaos which, of course, never happened.  It was pretty windy this year, so we didn't do the fire; our guests weren't all that disappointed -- in fact, I think one of them wanted to kiss me when he heard the news!

That 1999 New Year's Eve was something else -- remember all the coverage of celebrations around the world and how beautiful they all were?  DH's brother called from the west coast that morning and I got the word, excitedly, to "Turn on TBS."  So I did.  "The Andy Griffith Show" was on and, while I've always liked that show, I wasn't really sure what Andy, Opie & Aunt Bea were doing on that New Year's Eve morning that was supposed to be so exciting.  Oh, he meant PBS and the celebrations being televised!

We had a very lazy New Year weekend.  A little baking to start the new year, eating lots of left-overs, watching a little football -- and knitting!  I worked a little on my mitten, but I'm still not even finished with the cuff.  I wound up all the blue Merino Aran and started the cardigan again.  I have 7 inches of the back done -- I would have more, but I had one false start.  I also spent one of the gift cards I received for Christmas and there are a couple of books on the way -- The Plot Against America for Knit One Read Two and Folk Knitting in Estonia for fun!

I wish you all a very happy new year and look forward to both new and continuing friendships in the knitblog world.