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December 2007
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February 2008

Lotions and creams*

As one might imagine, when the temperature dances around between 0F degrees and minus-who-cares-(it's-COLD) on a fierce wind, the chill goes to the bone and also takes a toll on the skin.  Chapped lips, windburned cheeks, flaky skin, cracked fingertips are all pretty common ailments in these parts when the weather turns brutal.

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This winter, I've been using Gloves In A Bottle and Yes To Carrots.  The Gloves In A Bottle was sent as a sample, and the Yes To Carrots was among the items in a Christmas gift basket.  These both sit near my kitchen sink -- along with a few other tubes that DH or the kids use -- and are the ones I use most.  They're quite different, Gloves being a lightweight lotion and Carrots definitely more of a cream; a very small amount is all that's required of either.  I forgot the first few times I used either of these and no kidding about the elbows; I was slathering the excess on every exposed part of my body!

The best thing about both of these is that they're effective yet very light, absorbing quickly -- almost disappearing -- into the skin and not leaving a greasy feeling at all.  That's my number one requirement in a hand lotion.  When I'm finished cleaning up the kitchen, the next thing on my list is usually knitting, and I sure don't want to be greasing up my yarn as a side effect of using a heavy hand lotion!  I go for Gloves and Carrots in equal measure -- sometimes I'm in the mood for very thin and light, sometimes for a bit more creamy.  It just depends.

Dsc01837My other happy surprise this winter is Olay Regenerist micro-sculpting cream.  I was sent a very tiny, teensy-weensy sample of this along with a brochure and testimonial about a difference after only four days' use blah blah... yeah, right.

Well, YEAH!  I don't even use this stuff twice a day as directed, and I've seen a change.  I'm not even wanting miracles, you know...  I'm 49 years old and wear my gray hair with a little bit of pride; 25+ years of smoking will have done some damage, but perhaps I've offset that some by not worshipping the sun much.  There's no expectation of miracles in a bottle or jar over here.  I'll tell you, though, my skin definitely feels more firm and smooth; of course, I still have wrinkles, but they just seem a little softer.  I love the texture of this stuff, and the smell.

With all of these potions, the most important point is to make the application right after washing, when the skin is still moist.  In the past couple of years, I've been in the habit of applying a thin layer of aloe gel on my face, which I continue to do, followed by the Olay and sometimes Clinique Pore Minimizer Refining Lotion, the tube of which has lasted for quite a long while (I don't use it EVERY day)... because I have large pores.  I actually wanted the T-Zone Shine Control variety the day I went to the Clinique counter (the name says it all!), but they were out of stock.  Though not as "active" as it once was, I still definitely have a T-zone.

* * * * * *

Painting progresses!  There isn't much left to do in the upstairs kitchen.  Ali has her sights set on the playroom, where she's carved out that bit of studio space, but that project is complicated by a patch of peeling plaster that will first need repair.  Instead, while at Home Depot to pick up an extra quart of kitchen paint last night and after reaching an impasse over playroom color/technique/process/timeline, we chose new color chips to comtemplate for the downstairs bathroom -- where I've been reluctant these many years to paint over the stencil!  Yikes.  It would be quite a drastic change, from flowery pink-ish to a very new and different theme that we've even already given a sticks-in-your-head name: Innocent Squirrel Eating Walnuts. The trim color is an off-white called Innocence, the wall a medium gray called Squirrel, and the floor would be painted or stained a Dark Walnut.  It's very fitting since I have a black walnut tree in the back yard, the fruit of which many a squirrel has eaten (or buried in my garden).

* * * * * *

*Though participation has been dwindling recently for a variety of reasons, DH has, for many years, been absent many a spring-summer-fall weekend hawking wares at an art fair.  It's a lot of work and a big expense just to get to one of those things -- jury fees, entry fees, travel expenses, lodging and meals, set up, tear down -- not to mention needing a good body of framed, saleable work to hang on the walls under the Oceans and Dreams "big top" and a big (gas hog) vehicle in which to carry it all.  With the economy... blah blah more blah... you know.. it just hasn't been that good.  Anyway, I always joked that with just a little bit of paint we could easily go in a different direction, changing the name on the tent canopy from Oceans and Dreams to Lotions and Creams.  Heh.

WIP Wednesday

WipwedWIP Wednesday is another brilliant brainchild of Anne, inventor of the original ABC-Along.

Speaking of which, can I tell you how thrilled I am with it all?  Some of the interpretations of the project just leave me floored:  The Purloined Letter, for one; Andy in Amsterdam and his appropriate use of Dutch; Hyvetyrant's stunning photography (and may I also direct your attention to a beautiful, new, free pattern she's posted for Reversible Lace Mitts) (thank you, Melissa).  I keep tabs on ABC posts in a number of ways and one of my favorite ways, so far, is via the group discussion board on Ravelry -- simply because it's all in one place and the posts are very concise, as most people make a short statement about the subject and link to a blog post or Flickr page (with the Flickr group page being, perhaps, the second favorite).  Check it out, if you're a Ravel-rouser; there are some interesting posts

Back to the WIPs.  This post is about two: the upstairs kitchen and my Alchemy Monarch project.

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Actually, the whole house is a WIP, but the upstairs kitchen goes to show that even a big-ass home remodeling project is subject to being stuffed to the bottom of the proverbial workbasket, maybe even for years.  I last took a picture of that WIP for the blog three years ago.  The upstairs kitchen isn't used as a kitchen, it's a hanger-on from when our house was sometimes home to two families (and maybe, one day, it will be again).  The cupboards and sink are still intact, because they're handy, but otherwise it's been used to store board games, craft supplies, sometimes my sewing machine, usually the ironing board, and lotsa other stuff.  Anyway, we were a little stuck on exactly how to paint the wood panels we put up, the options being all one color, two-tone paint, or two-tone paint-and-stain.  Alison has had this amazing burst of energy lately and yesterday, she was wielding a paintbrush.  (I've realized that when her BF works second shift, it can be quite beneficial to me.)  She started one section with the two-tone paint-and-stain method and we decided that, while delightful in theory, it was ToO bUsY in reality.  All one color it is!

With the knitting WIP, I wasn't so sure about the Monarch project a few rows ago, but now, just a few rows shy of a full repeat, I'm quite happy.  It's a fairly simple scroll lace pattern, but there's something happening on every single row, so I must pay full attention.  The markers are working wonderfully.  It may seem strange, but using markers to separate pattern sections is a relatively new thing for me.  Oblique is the first pattern I really used markers for something more than marking the beginning of a round in circular knitting (and even then, I don't always).

Sipj08buttonThe weather is brutal today and all schools are closed.  It started yesterday afternoon with freezing rain and sleet, then a little hail, topped off with some snow, and then it all got whipped up with BIG wind!  Oh, and falling -- plunging -- temperature.  It was -11F this morning and I didn't (don't) even want to know about windchill.  It's friggin' cold outside.  Right now it's very bright and sunny, but the wind is still quite stiff making the small, ice-coated branches on the trees glint and glimmer.  Sounds like a good day to work on my plans for Super International Pajama Day!!!

Work in progress

Dsc01996One way to overcome the challenges with the mathematics and counting is to employ every stitch marker that will reasonably fit on the needle!

I'm working flat, from the bottom up, and cast on 170 stitches (plus 2) for a 10-stitch lace pattern with a marker at every repeat.  I've worked four pattern rows and have had only one small, very fixable mistake, so a needle full of stitch markers it is until I train my brain for this project.

Lace sure seems to exercise (challenge) a different part of my brain than texture or color work -- though one of my first-ever projects was cables and lace that turned out great.  Maybe I was too stupid to know!  Maybe now, in an effort not to over-think it, I'm actually under-thinking (or not thinking?).

It's been positively balmy around here since the weekend.  The snow has been melting like crazy and there are puddles everywhere.  The temperature will plunge this afternoon as the wind picks up and the near mid-40s we saw yesterday will give way to barely 5 tomorrow.  There's talk of the dreaded "wintry mix" along with snow.  I may forego knitting out tonight and head straight home to hunker down.  And hunker down well I may, as today is my last day at work this week and I'm staring down an extra-extra-long weekend.

Surprise! It fits!!

Surprise_too_big Surprise_it_fits

On the left, Addison and his Baby Surprise Jacket in August; on the right, same kid wearing same sweater in January (5 months and 8 days later, to be exact).  The hand (or something) is constantly in mouth; we felt his first not-yet-visible tooth yesterday.  To refresh, Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket in Araucania Magallanes, Lamb's Pride Worsted for the buttonband, vintage buttons from stash.

We celebrated birthdays and anniversaries, ate cake(s), had a fun time visiting over the weekend.  Mack has requested that I knit him another sweater -- one with a truck on it; specifically, he'd like it with a flatbed truck.  ; )  Maddy gave me the "I've been waiting years for a sweater" look -- if I could only nail down EXACTLY what she wants (that doesn't cost $200 in materials).  Mack is so amazingly cute these days and comes up with the funniest things (not the least of which is thinking that his Aunt Vicki has knit or is capable of knitting every sweater in their house).  He was at the counter on Saturday eating a snack and got real quiet -- if you could have seen inside his head, you'd have seen the big wheels turning -- a huge smile spread across his face and he asked, "Do I look guilty?"

Baby_foodTo wind up the baby portion of this post, here's a preview of the new contest up at Cara's baby shower blog, Who's Gonna Be "The Boss" Now?

The pieces of Oblique are blocked!  It was a pretty busy weekend, so any thoughts I had about seaming were very brief.  I like to do seaming in daylight, especially with such dark yarn, so it may be a little bit -- but not too long, because I really want to wear this.

There were about three false starts on a maybe-, maybe-not-moebius, almost-lace neckwarmer with the reclaimed Monarch yarn.  The pattern I chose is a 12-stitch pattern and an 18-row repeat, I believe, but really quite "simple" -- or so one would believe.  I can't seem to count or get two rows completed without having a couple of extra stitches on the needles, and I am completely bewildered.  This may not be the thing to take to Tuesday night knitting.

The way it is

In lieu of a Saturday Sky photograph today, I present Saturday Snow... because that's just the way it is... and continues to be... it is snowing as we speak.



I also present snow-on-hydrangea (because it was there) and cashmere.

That almost-half of a 2x3 or 3x4 (I don't remember now) ribbed cashmere-silk scarf has been marinating for quite some time, and it's a shame.  I recall working on it at and around Rhinebeck... 2006.  Not only is it fabulous, ultra-super-soft yarn -- Alchemy Monarch -- it was also a gift from someone special.  It came to mind recently when I was reading The Knitter's Book of Yarn and saw that the Butterfly Moebius Wrap uses the exactly same stuff in exactly the amount I have!  Well, I pulled out the ribbed scarf -- which is so soft and, really, it looks great -- worked a few stitches, and agreed with myself that I just really can't hack ribbing in such a strong dose... which somewhat explains the long marination period.

Last night, after an evening of pizza and snuggling with babies, I didn't have enough time to wash and pin-out Oblique (that's happening today!).  I did have enough time to rip the cashmere, re-wind it on the swift, wash it and hang it up to dry.  I'll wind it up today -- and suddenly, I have a new next project.

Out of the mouths of babes:  My sister Ann told me that she was wearing a run-of-the mill, everyday sweater one day las tweek and Mack, who is always told that "Aunt Vicki knit this" when a handknit is slipped over his head, asked, "Did Aunt Vicki knit that for you?"

My totem pole

For a class assignment, I am doing a little research into morale- and team-building strategies.  I do not have to actually do any of the activities, but I did find one that looked interesting -- designing a totem pole that reflects strengths and weaknesses.  It's to be done as a group, of course, but interesting to contemplate some of these things as an individual...

Am I an Alligator (maternal and vengeful) or a Cow (nurturing and maternal)?

Am I a Cat (protective, detached, sensual, mysterious, magical, and independent) or a Raven (introspective, courageous, self-knowing, healing, protective, tricky, and magical) or a Wolf (loyal, persevering, successful, intuitive, trainable, ritualistic, and spirited)?

Am I a Llama (comforting to others) or an Ox (sacrificing and self-denying)?

* * * * *

I am hoping to soak and pin out Oblique tonight -- tomorrow morning, at the latest.  I think I want it washed and blocked before the seaming and before picking up the collar stitches.  It won't be long before it's finished and I'm so excited.  I'm looking forward to hunting for buttons.  I'm pretty sure I'll find something suitable in the collection inherited from Grandma.

The babies are coming today for the weekend!  Their mom (my sister) celebrated a birthday on Wednesday and our mom is celebrating hers next Thursday (along with her wedding anniversary) so we're all celebrating by going out for Italian tomorrow night.  Mmmmm, yum.  I'll be babysitting the boys for a couple of hours tomorrow afternoon so their parents can get away for a cup of coffee together.

Happy weekend!

Chili chases chillies

I did some cooking over the weekend to help warm things up.  On Saturday, it was Abbey's Chili All Day.  I've made that recipe at least once per year since Abbey first posted it.  It makes a nice big pot of wonderful, hearty chili.  Since roasting is my new favorite thing to do in the kitchen (plus it helps with the "warming things up" part), I roasted the stew meat and onions a la Carole's Roast Beef Soup, just as I did for stew a couple of weeks ago, and then picked up the chili recipe from there.  However you might do it, I encourage you to try it... you'll like it!!

On Sunday, I roasted* a chicken and will use the leftovers tomorrow to make chicken soup.  Ali also has tomorrow off, and we're going to work hard at cleaning out the playroom (where no one has "played" in years, but we still call it that) and carving out a work space for her -- a studio space, if you will.  She is serious about taking on and doing more work, as well she should.

There's a part of our basement that's really, really cold and I use it as a gigantic walk-in cooler at this time of year.  On Saturday, I had to go down there to get a beer for the chili and discovered standing water -- quite a bit of standing water -- on the floor in one area.  There's a floor drain there, and another close by, but it was obviously stopped-up.  The water was crystal clear, so I immediately (and thankfully) ruled out leaky drain pipes from shower, sink, washer, or other "dirty" plumbing fixtures.  Frankly, where the water was coming from wasn't as much a concern as why it wasn't going.  We tried poking then snaking, with no success, and it was determined that we'd have to rent a larger snake and try again.  We snaked the floor drain last night, then the main drain, and again with no success.  In a last-minute desperation move, a simple, lowly plunger was called for and... plunge-plunge-plunge WHOOSH!

Whew!  It's good for now.  The investigative work and any necessary repairs or replacements will have to wait 'til spring.

I cast off the sleeves of Oblique last night and the raglan decreases appear to match up perfectly with those on the fronts/back.  I'm thrilled!  I picked up buttonband stitches on the left front and will work on that at knit night tonight.  Then there's seaming, the collar, and buttons.  I had Katie pick up an extra hank of yarn yesterday, after all; I'm almost certain that it'll be needed.

Sorry for the picture-less post.  Besides dealing with the water in the basement problem last night, there was more than 3" of snow to deal with this morning before leaving for work.  Man, it was scary-slippery on the highway!  Katie originally wanted to go back to Madison yesterday but postponed her departure 'til this morning because of the weather.  I white-knuckled it to work -- it was greasy-slippery and I felt that any sudden move or twitch would land me in the ditch -- I'm pretty sure I skated most of the way -- and intended to call Katie with a warning the minute I arrived.  Too late.  She called me from a ditch just as I pulled into the parking lot -- she's okay and her car is okay (minus one fog light -- meh), but her door was wedged so she needed rescuing, and the car needed to be pulled out.  The sun is shining and roads are improving and she'll be on her way soon; missing her first day of second-semester classes.

Arrgh.  Yeah, looking forward to knitting tonight!!

*Big surprise, I know!

More gridiron bakery (or the effects of football on my thighs)

Since my annhilation of the New York Turnovers seems to have backfired, I had to console myself with half of a Green Bay Packers Long John (green & gold sprinkles, of course) after we lost the big game last night.  As I picked up wayward sprinkles, wiping away tears and frosting, I remembered what a fun and wonderful season it was -- 14-4 overall.  Who'd have thunk it?  No one could have -- or would have -- predicted, back in August, that we'd even have a chance of playing in a championship game.  It stings, and I'll be in mourning for a while, but we did have a very good season.  My first thought when I woke up the kitties woke me up this morning was how the game might have been different if the windchill had been only -10F rather than -24F.  Heh.  I'm not blaming the weather for our loss, but it was brutal and definitely a factor and we didn't handle it as well.  Maybe next year.  I hope Favre plays one more -- his young team became well seasoned as of yesterday.

Aracaunia Lanternmoon Yarnbook

On the left, contest winnings from Friender Jen arrived last week:  mooshy, squooshy, purple-bluey Araucania Ranco Multi.  It's gorgeous!  Thank you, Jen.

In the middle, my first Lantern Moon knitting needles which I snagged from a sale bin.  I bought some once for a secret pal and have always wanted some for myself.  They're so pretty.  It pleases me just to look at them.

There was a recent happy pairing of discounts and coupons which led to an offer I could not refuse on Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn.  It is one of those rare knitting books that makes it up the stairs and into the bedroom to mingle with the "serious" reading material on my nightstand.

In Oblique news:  I am fewer than a dozen rows from finishing the sleeves!  If I hadn't been beside myself at the edge of my seat last night, I might have finished.  Alas, I think I'm going to be just a wee bit short of yarn.  I'm pondering whether I should buy another hank or try to bury a little bit of black in the button band and/or collar.

Alibaby3 Alibaby2 Alibaby1

Yes, she's grown, doesn't wear pigtails, and doesn't do her work sprawled across the big work table any more.  Yesterday, Ali started this portrait of a friend's son from a photograph.

A is for...


A is for art; the artist I married and the three artists I gave birth to, the supplies they use to create, and all the art they have created, are creating, and will continue to create.  A is for the awareness -- my increased awareness -- of the world around me because of the artist I married and those three artists I birthed.

I have learned and admired much, I've been inspired, and I've struggled a bit, too.  I guess I wouldn't change too much, although I would like to wave my magic wand and declare art an undeniable essential to the well-being of all; a non-discretionary living expense not subject to line-item veto on the budget.

Dsc01943 The girls have been creating ever since they could hold implements.  That's Ali and Katie... I'm going to guess ages 3 and 5.  They're sprawled over and on a big work table in the studio, busy with paper, pencils and markers.  We have reams and reams of paper from all three girls, on which their early periods are well represented:  the scribbles-on-paper period, the amoeba-people period, the big-head period, the full-body tracings period.  It's been (and continues to be) an amazing journey, seeing their take on the world, the perception, whimsy, fantasy.

They've even inspired their dad.  That's an extreme close-up of a painting he did many years ago called Porch With Kid Drawings.  Those are actual drawings by our actual kids.  I think the one at lower left depicts a turkey.

When they learned to write, they began illustrating their stories -- wonderful stories about three "witchs" at Halloween (Katie, Ali and their cousin), princesses, families, going to the store.  I'd better watch it as this could easily morph into "A is for Author."  (And again with the reams and reams of paper.)

The avocation of many, vocation of some, art is in their DNA; it's their past, present, and future.  An incredible, creative lineage that includes painters, wood-carvers and -turners, ceramicists, and a glass-blower -- not to mention the sewing, quilting, embroidery, tatting, rug-hooking, knitting and crocheting.  One of their great great great great grandfathers listed "basket-maker and musician" as his occupation when he came to this country from Germany.

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Madeleine just finished the stippled piece on the left; that's only a quarter of one of Ali's pieces in the middle; and Katie's high school freshman self-portrait.  The thumbnails are deceiving -- Maddy's work is about 4x8 inches, while Katie's is more like 2x4 feet, as is the whole of Ali's.

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Detail of Katie's self-portrait.  I always think Renaissance, Da Vinci, Madonna when I look at this piece, and especially the eyes.

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A hilarious cartoon that Maddy did when she was about 8, and Ali x 4.

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Saturday morning, 10 below

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You get the picture.  I will have to venture out to the grocery store this morning, and then it's going to be a soup day.  I haven't decided what kind yet.  I do believe tomorrow will be soup redux, as it isn't going to be much better, and I may as well fill the freezer and have some choices for next week's lunches.

Honestly, there must be something wrong with my nose.  There are two things that I have been smelling a lot lately and most of the time it's for no good reason.  One is cigarette smoke (I'm smelling it now, which is why the mention) and the other is exhaust.  It's not stale, icky, old smoke, it's more like someone is standing a few feet away and it's wafting under my nose, "fresh," if you will, and not unpleasant to this ex-smoker -- I never developed an aversion; thankfully, it doesn't seem to trigger any urges.  It is annoying.  Even when I did smoke, I never smoked in the house.  The exhaust smell is very unpleasant and stings my nose; I've actually gone to see if there's some old truck parked right outside my door, choking the neighborhood.  So weird.  Why can't I smell a freshly bathed baby or fresh-baked bread?

Sipj08buttonTomorrow may also be an unscheduled Pajama Day -- though I will have to change into my "lucky" Green & Gold attire for Ice Bowl II tomorrow evening!  I've been meaning to mention the upcoming Super International Pajama Day (third annual?), which falls on Super Bowl Sunday.  I love Celia and I love Pajama Day!

Abcalong150pxwideAnd now, my last pitch for the ABC-Along 2008 and a few more links.

First:  Deadline for inclusion in the Flickr group and on the blogroll is midnight tonight.  I have no control over the Ravelry group, so we'll just have to see how that goes.  There are new people joining Ravelry all the time, so maybe they'll want to jump in... play catch up or pick up at whatever point they get their invite or discover it, maybe someone will decide to do only vowels or the letters in their first name.  Whatever.  I hope they have fun with it.

Second:  While I do run a loose ship and participants may do whatever they wish, I do wish to say that my intent – what I had in my mind – was ONE well-chosen THING for each letter, though possibly several pictures to illustrate that thing, not twenty different things for each letter.  It forces one to be choosy and disciplined – what is the BEST representation of YOU for a given letter.  I did not choose my words very carefully, however, and left the door wide open, and neither did I set any limits to how many pictures can be uploaded.  I'm not going to go changing the "rules," but it's something to keep in mind and I think, in the end, it would be a much more powerful body of work, both as a whole and as a representation for each participant.

That's all.  Except for a few more blog links that tickle and/or inspire:  1001 Arabian Knits, Art is the Handmaid of Human Good, Dalai Mama, Knitphomaniacs, Knitting and Sewing and All Forms of Procrastination..., Will Knit for Vodka, Will Pillage for Yarn, Yarn and Chocolate, and Yarn Mafia.

Unofficially and without photographic evidence...

A is for accomplishment:  34 months since I smoked a cigarette.

A is for apartment:  My daughter has a pretty cute one!

A is for anguish:  And also sleepless nights (play along with me here) because of the jerks (or you may substitute an "a" word, reader's choice) who live in the apartment below hers.

A is for arrrgh:  Damn corporate property management conglomerations (DCPMC) who ignore their tenants -- both the good and the bad.

Poor Katie.  I had an email from her this morning -- she'd written it at 3:30 a.m. -- after calling the cops for the second time.  The first time, the officer knocked four times on the door of the downstairs apartment and left when no one answered.  I understand the position of the police, but I also don't understand.  She ended up going to Starbucks and didn't get to sleep until 6:30.  Katie practically lives alone, since her roommate simply avoids the situation completely by sleeping elsewhere.  Ultimately, it's a property management issue that is being ignored and the mom in me so wants to pick up the phone and bitch.  The allure of Madison has been somewhat diminished for Katie, and the living situation sure isn't helping.

UPDATE:  A is for ass-kicking, as in the 5-day Notice to Remedy or Vacate that's been served to the downstairs offenders.  Three cheers for the new representative of the DCPMC!  Katie just called with the news; she also indulged in some retail therapy today, too.  Sometimes, nothing makes a girl feel better than new cereal bowls!


A is for ABC-Along 2008Abc

There are 222 contributors to the Flickr group (as of now), the Ravelry group was approaching 200 last I checked, and my already out-of-control Bloglines list has burgeoned beyond belief!  In order to post to the Flickr group and/or be listed in the blogroll, you must request an invitation by midnight (local time) tomorrow -- after that, admin will close the door on that aspect of the ABC-Along and turn to other matters... like posting an "A" herself.

We've barely reached the cusp of "B" -- meaning it's a very long road to "Z" -- and I'm already thrilled.  "A" is well represented by people, places and things.  There's flora, fauna, fruits, veggies, alpaca, angora, anxiety and mathematic concepts.  There's activity, and action, and yarn (lots and lots of yarn), and any combination of the aforementioned -- and then some!  The photography isn't always fabulous, but the subject means something to the photographer, and some of the blog posts just blow me away.  That's what it's all about!

I am also delighted to see the return of some familiar names:  Two Wooden Sticks and A Ball of String, Hyvetyrant Talks, SuZenKnits, and to learn of so many new (to me) and interesting blogs, some linked above, and also (just to name a few):  Infinity More Monkeys (with a name like that?) and KnitXcorE (he's "pretty amazing"), The Ravell'd Sleave, The Purloined Letter.  It is going to be an amazing year.  I can't wait to see what all these people show and share.

My Sandy!  Woefully, I am poetically challenged, but I finally made a haiku!

A,B,C,D,E... time won't you sing with me?
Deadline tomorrow.


Yesterday was all about nephews.  Mack popped in and woke me up with a "Good morning, Vicki," bringing a favorite book and climbing in for a morning read while Addison slept in.

During breakfast, we gave northwoods nephew/cousin Daniel a call to sing "Happy Birthday" on the morning of his 18th and get his day started right.  Turns out we were a few minutes early and he had to be roused from slumber (oops).  Born with Down syndrome, Daniel is a man of few words -- and fewer still when there's still sleep in his eyes.  We're told he had a smile from ear-to-ear during our trio's performance, and acknowledged the finale with a bow.  That's exactly what I was aiming for and I hope he thought of us during the day yesterday and felt the love all over again.

Then Addison woke up!

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On the left, Addison in September, oblivious at 6 weeks; on the right, yesterday, alert and very aware at 5 months.  There were several takes for each shoot, of course; in September it was very relaxed and mostly about getting a good shot of me; yesterday it was all I could do to hold him still enough to get a shot while keeping him from grabbing the camera strap and before he was distracted by something out the window (that's *my* excuse and I'm stickin' to it).  Hasn't he grown?!  Not only did the camera strap catch his eye, he also fell in love with the Hundertwasser Argosy Scarf!


Katie joined us and we went to Off The Beaten Path yarn shop.  She wasn't holding out much hope that she'd find more of the clearance yarn she'd purchased there a couple of months ago, but lo and behold, they still had some!  Based on all the yarn that Mack wanted to take home, it's clear that his favorite color is orange.  Addison was a good little yarn shopper -- in fact, the woolies put him to sleep.  We had lunch at Crema Cafe afterwards -- YUM -- during which Addison slept and Mack had a great time preparing food for us at the play kitchen.  The kitchen was equipped with the most wonderful "food" -- fruits, veggies, bread and cheese -- with velcro so that they could be "chopped" and assembled and the lettuce and tomato wouldn't fall out of your cheeseburger on a sesame seed bun.

Even though my sister has left the carseat-equipped van for me to use every time I've looked after the boy(s), this is the first time I actually made it out of the house!  It went so very well.  I haven't completely lost my pack-the-kids-and-go touch.  Perhaps next time we'll venture a little further from home -- like to Verona and The Sow's Ear.

The best indication of how the day went, from one who matters most, was when my BIL walked in the door yesterday afternoon, just as I was snapping pics of the boys together on the lambskin.  Mack said, "No, Dad!  Go back to work!  I don't want Vicki to leave!"

* * * * * *

Just as that day in September, I stopped on the way down to Madison and had a nice visit in Beaver Dam with Kathy.  She was working on a sweater 'til she messed up a little (talking not concentrating on knitting) and pulled out a sock.  Oh, what a heavenly sock she was knitting!!  I was working on the sleeves of Oblique 'til I messed up a little, too (talking not concentrating on knitting), and, unfortunately, I did not have a simpler project to pull out of my bag!  I ripped the offending lace section down a few rows and fixed it last night, so I'm back on track.  Woohoo.

Time out for babies!

I'm takin' a 24-hour time out.  Mack & Addison called and they need some looking after (and before and during and up and down and over and under and all the way around) tomorrow.

Dsc00146 Addison1

I'm a lucky auntie, and how could I say "No"?  It would just never, ever happen.  I'm also a lucky mum -- school hasn't started for Katie yet and she doesn't have to work tomorrow!  This time, with Katie as my able assistant, I'm actually going to try to venture out with the boys -- yes, even with all the bundling up at this time of year.  Hats and mittens and jackets and boots and let's just hope I don't forget the diaper bag... or my wallet.  Our list of destinations will include the coffee shop that has Mack's favorite play kitchen, and a yarn shop that I've never visited before -- Off The Beaten Path.  Not that I'm actually in the market for more yarn (not that that's ever mattered).  Katie is, though; she bought something at this shop a while back and needs more.

Oblique continues.  Yadda yadda yadda, increases, blah blah blah, sleeves.  I'm getting anxious to finish this for no other reason than that the black/brown yarn makes for less than spectacular WIP photographs.  I guess this is good, in a way, since the finished product is intended to be a neutral, utilitarian, goes-with-everything, go-to sweater.  It makes sense that the knitting might be a bit of a yawner at times.  I have very high hopes for the FO: neutral and utilitarian, yes; boring, no.  Next up: definitely something more colorful.

So, anyway, I'm calling a 24-hour time out.  You may continue comment (don't all rush in at once!), continue to request invitations to join the ABC-Along 2008* Flickr group, and continue to email me with all variety of questions or just to say, "Hey."  Just be aware that ain't nothin' gonna be happenin' 'round here 'til Wednesday night or maybe even Thursday.  I'll have updated pictures.

Your table, sir


This goofy cat.  Every morning he comes in and talks to me, nudges me.  He is relentless.  I pet him, give him some lovin' 'til he nearly drives me nuts.

"Do you want to go out?  Do you need some food?"  He follows me as I walk, then trots ahead, leading me to his food bowl, which is usually already full.  Oh.

"Table for one?  Please, allow me to escort you, sir."

* * * * * *

Since being recently enchanted by Mr. Clean and his Magic Eraser, Madeleine has been on a bit of a cleaning jag.  I came home to a wonderfully clean house on Friday.  It's almost a little scary, as Ali's neatnik was showing a lot last week, too.  Have they become possessed?  Is there something in the water?  I didn't want to delve to deep, you know?  With great appreciation, I had a very relaxing weekend watching football on TV with knitting on my lap.  I believe I'm approaching the fourth of six each-side increases on the sleeves of Oblique, which I am knitting at the same time.  If that's not another one of those black holes of knitting, I don't know what is.

On Saturday, I was all "GO GIANTS," but that's over, man.  My stint as a Giants fan ended when the last whistle blew in Dallas yesterday.  Woohoo!  The Giants will march into Green Bay on Sunday to play the Packers on the Frozen Tundra... and believe me, it will be f-f-f-f-frozen!  If a Cheesehead who lived down the street from Lambeau Field were to have a friendly wager with a New Jersey girl who lived next door to Giants Stadium regarding which team would advance to the Super Bowl, I wonder what they'd bet!?

Weekend Update

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Saturday Sky, which didn't get posted yesterday, and same view on Sunday.  SNOW!

ATTENTION!  KNITTER IN NEED:  One of the knitters in our NE Wisconsin Yahoo group put out a desperate plea for yarn on the message board.  She is in need of 2 hanks Rowan Handknit DK Cotton, Color 311 (Nautical), Lot 15K2.  The LYS doesn't have any more in that lot; she bought a different dye lot and tried alternating, but it's too obvious.  If anyone can help, please let me know and I'll put you in touch.

Dsc01839Almost.  It's been a bit of a struggle with the Oblique fronts.  I ripped back to the beginning of the raglan shaping -- the cast-off stitches -- and carried on from there, but was knitting myself into a black hole, for sure, with some of the decisions I was making about decreases and YOs.  So, ripped back again; this time to where the decreases met the textured lace pattern.  I made much better decisions the second time and I've become quite good at reading my knitting -- and at fixing my mistakes.

It's an "almost" because I think I mixed up my decreases on the last few rows.  The top of the right front, especially, veers suspiciously off in the wrong direction.  I'd stuffed it into my knitting bag with only a handful of rows left to go and when I pulled it out, one side was yanked off the needle.  I may have mixed up left and right when I put it back on.

Or, perhaps I was distracted by football.


What a game!  There was a fumble and heartbreak, snow, fumble and more heartbreak, more snow, running and passing and touchdowns, and SNOW!!  And we WON!  We're going to the Divisional Championship game!!  (Go GIANTS!)

Abcalong150pxwideSign up (to be included in the Flickr group and on the blogroll) continues for ABC-Along 2008 through Saturday (see here) -- which is also the end of "A" on the official posting schedule... though, you know, I'm not a real stickler for the official posting schedule.  To be honest, I fell behind a few times in the middle of the alphabet last time -- I was stymied by the letter or uninspired or just too busy -- so I played catch up.  Whatever, you know?  My enthusiasm for the project never waned, and I sure wasn't going to throw in the hat because I missed a "deadline."  It's supposed to be fun, creative, and inspired -- hopefully, your posts will be something you can look back on at the end of the year and feel good about, that the thing you choose for each letter of the alphabet really means something to you.  That doesn't mean that one should continue to post As and Bs throughout the year -- that's not the point -- but I hope no one gives up because of "falling behind."

Obliquity on "Oblique"

Is it Internet Freak-Out Day today and I just didn't get the memo?  I've had a problem with just about every single service today, most spectacularly craptacularly Gmail and Typepad.  So this here will be one of those "resurrected and remembered as best I can 'cuz I was on a roll but now it's hard to get the feeling back" posts.  I was trying not to swear (I don't really know why), but I can't guarantee that anymore.  That reminds me, I'm also trying to eliminate (or at least severely limit) the use of my favorite (by default, because it's the only one I know) semicolon/end-paren emoticon.  You know the one.  ; )  I've decided to make that my New Year's Resolution:  I will not use emoticon (singular, for reason -- also singular -- already explained).  Fine form.  As I was saying...

obliquity  2 a : deviation from parallelism...

My weekend knitting is cut out for me.  The discovery of an obliquity on the Oblique fronts, however, will require that ripping precede the knitting.  Yeah.  I cast off the fronts last night and they don't measure up to the back.  They are not parallel in any sense of the word.  I don't know why I waited 'til after casting off to lay the fronts upon the back for comparison, especially since (due to the obliquity of the situation) I'd had difficulty determining whether the back raglan decreases began after 14 repeats of the diagonal lace pattern or 15.  Things are just a bit askew with Oblique (that's how I see* it, anyway).  Words found in the close proximity to "oblique" in the dictionary:  inclined, not straightforward, indirect, obscure, devious, underhand, acute, obtuse**, obscure, confusing.

I see now that it was not 14, it was 15.

*One of the reasons for the blog redesign is that I sat down a couple of weeks ago -- at night, in a darkened room, after a long day of staring at the computer at work, and also after some knitting and watching of TV -- and I could not read my own blog!  I tipped my head, looked up, looked down, moved forward, moved back -- it was awful!  I guess it's time to have my eyes checked -- make some adjustments to bifocalness.  I've NEVER had a problem before, and haven't since, but I get it now -- all you people who don't like light-on-dark (which I always summarily dismissed as white-on-black), I get it.

**As in triangle, but then it's not so funny; I'm taking poetic license (here's where I'd insert emoticon).  I'm well aware that this is how misconceptions and rumors get started.  Someone could read this post and think that I don't like Oblique or Gmail or Typepad, but they would be wrong.  I love this sweater (and Gmail and Typepad) and can't wait to finish.  Good thing there will be plenty of knit-along football this weekend.


Heh, redecorating the blog is cheaper than redecorating the house.  No dropcloths are required; there are no paint fumes, no sawdust, no pushing around of heavy furniture.  I've never done such a drastic re-do!  It's almost like a brand new house.  I've also done some paring down of the sidebar items; if there's something you're looking for, you'll likely find it on the Blog Links page.

It's like an open house!  Have a glass of virtual punch with your cookies and take a look around.  ; )


Dsc01832I'm as easily distracted from blogkeeping, it seems, as I am from housekeeping.  I've managed to categorize a few recent posts for the ABC-Along and I made a new ABC-Along 2008 Page for all of the basic info and the blogroll.  The Category Cloud will usually reside in the left-hand sidebar, the link for the ABC-Along page (click on the button) at the top of the right-hand sidebar.  There is still much more I'd like I need to do around here, but Mom called and something about lunch and, I'll admit it, I can't resist an invitation to lunch.

The weather has turned a corner!  Sunshine!  Shadows!!  Crocus!!  At this time of year, I am often drawn into the floral department at the grocery store.  It's not even something I think about, I just find myself navigating my cart through the jungle.  Sometimes walking through is enough, but sometimes I have to bring home a bouquet.  Last week, they had these little pots of crocus for $2.99.  They looked so healthy and green, I just couldn't resist bringing one home.  This is making me very happy right now.

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Here's my downtstairs bathroom stencil, Ann.  (Why, yes, I may have exaggerated a bit... it looks like only five colors -- sure seemed like 8 or 9!).  Did I do this 10 years ago?  Fifteen?  You can see from the photo at right that I wasn't yet ready to give it up when the bathroom was last repainted -- I insisted that there be a "border" to preserve my hard work.  I think I am ready now.  The hooked woolen rug that matches perfectly is almost completely worn out; all the trim needs repainting, the floor; there is some spotty repair due to moisture necessary on the walls; the curtains look old and faded... they are old and faded.  I've given the signal that I'm ready for repainting, redecorating, redoing.  Ditto the living room.  I still like the colors, but I'm tired of them and I'm ready to lighten up.  We'll be planning and gearing up for some painting in spring!

Frackin' fog

...and RAIN!  It continues.  It was amazing at times yesterday -- the thunder, the lightning, the pouring rain.  It seemed a lot more like "April Showers" than "January Thaw."  There were even tornadoes in the southern part of the state.

I've been mighty distracted and a little distraught over daily doings.  I don't have a lot of control, so try not to worry.  Knitting is a bit of a refuge in the evening and I've made some progress, but I am committing the cardinal sin and haven't a single picture to post.  It's a very busy week.  Why does everything happen all at once?  I attended my first-Monday-of-the-month meeting last night.  Tonight is knitting group -- and with the Tuesday holidays, and our "dinner meeting" the week before, it's been AGES since we've actually knit together!  Tomorrow night is book club and, once again, I have not read the book; I haven't even tried (I wonder what it's called).  Thursday is the start of a new semester -- only one class this time.  By then it's TGIF and weekend anticipation.

I'm hoping to catch up on a few bloggy details tomorrow.  The 2007 FO album has been woefully neglected, for one thing.  I changed my banner a couple of days ago and stripped down the sidebars, maybe a few more changes in the wings.

In a fog

Literally.  I think the entire state has been blanketed in fog for the past 24 hours -- and counting.  I had to drive yesterday, but took the long/slow way -- I narrowly missed a deer (the fog confuses them) and was stupefied by the number of people driving without illuminated headlights.  It's the long/slow route to work today, too.  Schools are on a two-hour delay.  Thunderstorms predicted for this January afternoon.

I did some knitting and some ripping over the weekend, exclusive of each other.  I'm about to begin waist increases on the Oblique fronts.  I'm getting a bit bored, but the neckline decreases will be "at the same time" as the aforementioned increases... gripping (hopefully, not ripping).

Smoking_jacket Smoking_remains

My sister -- Hi Sharon (she's been reading here recently) -- gave me the remains of her stash a couple of months ago, including the start of a "smoking jacket" in Rowan Magpie and Chunky Chenille.  Pretty, isn't it?  It's probably been 10 years since she started and I think it nearly drove her insane -- it was a very large overall pattern with no repeats, so every row was different.  I did not wish to continue this project, and a normal person would probably have taken the loss and thrown away "the start" -- especially given the zillion ends left hanging on the wrong side -- but my salvage self took up the challenge.  It wasn't too bad.  Plus it's Rowan... vintage Rowan.  I don't know what I'll do with it all -- 6+ hanks of Magpie, 4+ of Chenille -- but I'll be ready when inspiration strikes.

abc along

Did you see the wonderful new ABC-Along button made by the one and only Alarming Female?  Roll call is now over 100 names and several postings of Letter A have been sighted.

Just a note about joining:  If you already have a Flickr account, the quickest and easiest way is to sign in, go to the ABC-Along 2008 page, and send a request to join from there; if you don't have a Flickr account, I need your email address to send an invitation.  You really don't even have to join Flickr or Ravelry to participate -- because I'm easy like that, y'know, it's pretty loose around here.  The blogroll of participants in the previous post is continually (though not instantaneously) updated as people join -- if you've joined up and your blog isn't listed there, let me know.

Today: Friday (hallelujah!)


Spell With Flickr.

V I C k2 I say I

I can't stop.  The ABC-Along 2008 is gathering steam and attracting participants on both the Flickr group and the Ravelry group.  There have been some A's appearing.  Very exciting.

Sign-up details here and here.  Here's a link to my photo album from v.2006 for a quick intro/overview of the whole idea -- my interpretation, anyway.

UPDATE:  The ABC-Along 2008 blogroll has been moved to the ABC-Along 2008 page.

Bonus blog, has nothing to do with ABCs: Kilted Pride.

Following Cara's lead, I have cast on the fronts of Oblique -- both at the same time.  No, I am NOT knitting from hanks two and three.  I have two very handy yarn cakes and already a few inches under my belt -- always anxious to get through the ribbing.  Speaking of Cara, Ann mentioned some baby shower blog action yesterday, and I stirred things up a little more today.  Let me know if you need the super-secret log-in info.

A new foundation

When you open your underwear drawer each day and make your choice based on stretchiness of the waistband, it's time to go shopping.  One size larger.  White and subdued colors -- and even prints!  I feel like a new (more comfortable) woman.  Great way to start the new year: I resolve to be comfortable.

F is for foundation.  U is for underwear.  ABC-Along 2008 sign ups continue through January 19th (see the previous two posts for details).  It's going to be fun.  I will continue working on sending out invitations and will be working on a blogroll, but it's back to work today.  P is for paycheck.  ; )

ABC-Along 2008 Schedule

Abc_2008_buttonGet your cameras ready!!!  Eventually, I'll make a better button or two, but this will do for now.  The background is hard to make out, especially at such a small size, but it's the ABC part of the "ABC Sweater" that I never finished... should do that soon for Addison.  Influenced by recently viewed cinematic selections, and because it amuses me -- and maybe you -- I deliberately chose the typefaces: the A is Arial Black, the B is Brush Script, and the C is Clarendon; the "ABC-Along 2008" is, of course, Helvetica.  Because it's everywhere and must be here.

I run a very loose whatever-along ship, so the "rules" are simple:  It's a year-long group where participants post a photo to their blog and/or the ABC-Along 2008 Flickr Group every two weeks to correspond with a letter of the alphabet. Photos should reflect the personality of the photographer; the subject should be of importance or meaning to them; photos can be related to fiber, but it is not required.  Post at least one photo in each 2-week period to match the corresponding letter of the alphabet. There are 52 weeks in a year and 26 letters of the alphabet, allowing two weeks per letter (Weeks 1&2=A, Weeks 2&3=B). Example: - "A" is for... Alaska, asparagus, alpaca, astronomy... Whatever you choose, it should have some meaning for you.

That's it!  I've even figured out the posting schedule.  ; )

The first “two week” period is actually almost three, which allows a little extra time for sign up. Invitation requests will be accepted on Flickr through January 19th. The Flickr group is public (can be seen by all), but membership is by invitation only.  You can make me (Vicki Knitorious) one of your Flickr contacts and request an invitation, or send me an email (vknitorious @ gmail . com).

A = January 1 to 19
B = January 20 to February 2
C = February 3 to February 16
D = February 17 to March 1
E = March 2 to March 15
F = March 16 to March 29
G = March 30 to April 12
H = April 13 to April 26
I = April 27 to May 10
J = May 11 to May 24
K = May 25 to June 7
L = June 8 to June 21
M = June 22 to July 5
N = July 6 to July 19
O = July 20 to August 2
P = August 3 to August 16
Q = August 17 to August 30
R = August 31 to September 13
S = September 14 to September 27
T = September 28 to October 11
U = October 12 to August 25
V = October 26 to November 8
W = November 9 to November 22
X = November 23 to December 6
Y = December 7 to December 20
Z = December 21 to December 31/January 3, 2009

Dsc01810 Dsc01811 Dsc01812

In other news, I've almost finished the back of Oblique!  Here it is in morning snow.  I knit the entire second skein, without incident, using the Cornelia Tuttle Hamilton method.  I've got to tell you, there's something about pulling off a length of yarn from a hank draped over my knee/knees/lap without the yanking and pulling -- a gentle sweep of the hand, a little wiggle of the hank -- very elegant and soothing and, yes, refined -- as I suspected.  The biggest drawback is that one has to pretty much sit still and like a lady.  I can't just tuck my leg under or switch which leg is over which knee -- every movement has to be thought out and calculated.  The ball of yarn is the untangled portion of the first hank -- the part I'd had to just cut off because it was so knotted up -- the one that taught me to be more mindful.  ; )

Okay, asking for good thoughts for Maddy this afternoon as SHE'S INTERVIEWING FOR A NEW JOB.  This would be Plum, in so many ways, drawing on skills and nurturing creativity.  It would be a little bit before she'd start.  (In the meantime, I think I've found a cleaning lady.)  Thanking you in advance.

Katie will be heading back to Madison tomorrow, her nice vacation comes to an end when she reports on Friday for her first shift since Christmas Eve.  It's really been fun having her here.  Good thoughts for her, too, while I'm at it; all the good vibes needed to STICK IT OUT FOR ONE MORE YEAR.  She gets all wishy-washy and, I swear, if she wasn't locked into a lease until August, she'd probably be moving home right now.  She knows that the best thing is to finish what she's doing -- and she can do it.  ONE MORE YEAR.

And, you know what, as long as I'm at it, let's think some good thoughts for Ali, too.  She's been so quiet and even seems a little preoccupied the past several days.  I keep asking her Is something wrong? Is everything okay? and she says No and Yes (respectively) but she's SO QUIET -- AND SHE KEEPS THINGS TO HERSELF (huh, wonder where she gets that trait) and, well, basically, I DON'T BELIEVE HER.  But I'll have to wait 'til she's ready to share.