Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve

Being that it's New Year's Eve, I decided to show one of the many things one is to do to bring good luck for the next year, a horseshoe over the door. Probably later I will add the silver dollars over the outside doors to bring $$$ into the household during the coming year.

I am ignoring not having any WIP's, having all fiber spun and off the wheel, not washing dishtowels till Twelfthnight, and numerous others.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Graying into Winter

Unpredicted starry night and sunny morning have deteriorated into constant heavy grayness preceding possible winter precipitation tonight.

What better weather than to cook up some stew. DH cut venison round steak and our last beef round steak from the freezer that I'd thawed into cubes for the stew. Have been adding to the stew all afternoon; consequently, a late blog post. So far in the stew are venison, beef, carrots, and from the garden freezer-- tomatoes, yellow squash, peas and corn. Potatoes will be added when space available! I also add garlic, lemon pepper and bay leaves. I'll taste it later to see if it needs beef bouillon. DH always says it tastes better the second and third days, so the stew is actually not for dinner tonight, but for tomorrow.

My knitting goal has been to finish the Everlasting Sock#1 and to start Sock#2 by midnight New Year's Eve. The toe grafting and start of Sock#2 accomplished this afternoon!

Like everyone else, I need to see what I want to make my knitting goals for 2008. I do have my queue on Ravelry. I do want to work on my Wild Apple Bohus I got for Christmas. I also have the Dean Bohus hat I'd gotten from Kimmet Croft at Camp 2 in 2006. I'm glad I got it now, since not only do I really like the Dean pattern, but Kimmet Croft will no longer be in business due to Jan's illness. There is another lady now doing dyeing for Bohus in the Midwest, and she offers the Dean bohus sweater {plus, I really like the name of her business (Stagecoach Yarns)!}. That may be my next Bohus purchase! Just a thought.

I like working on my knitting journal as I work through the projects. It's really not a journal, really more of a scrapbook. But I enjoy seeing which projects were done when and the details. I'd kept several years of fiber photos when I lived in Arizona, but this is better because of the details.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Calorimetry Saturday

Calorimetry is fini!

She was a very quick knit. Soft and lightweight, with a 'vintage' button from the button jar, she feels very good on. The Paton's SWS in Natural blue is super! Not scratchy or crunchy at all now.

As I was sewing on the button last night I realized that for years now I've started at least one new, quick project right after Christmas to have finished by New Year's Day. Think that started in Aztec, NM when it was below zero for two weeks straight with literally feet of snow and I knit cornucopias with sewing thread.

DH took my pic this morning in front of one of his Christmas presents, this one from daughter Robyn, a John Deere clock. DH is fond of his tractors. He's really a 'Red man' (Farmall tractor aficionado) but it's the green tractors that are available most everywhere! And for some reason he gets a kick out of the hourly tractor noises but is irritated by the bird calls on one of the other clocks.

What a great sunrise over the hill! Early, at dawn thirty, it was mostly cloudy, but not right now! It's been so very mild for late December with highs in the 40's and 50's this week. DH was all pleased to look out at the yard this morning at the 'pretty, green grass'!

That's to end on New Year's Day....

Friday, December 28, 2007

Eye Candy Santa Friday

Santas from my collection.

The small dark skinny one was the first I bought, on our honeymoon to Fredericksburg, Texas. The tall Northwoods Santa found its way home with me on a lunch hour as I perused the Coast to Coast Hardware in Willcox many years ago. The sheepy Santa from a Hallmark store in Natrona Heights, PA.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Last night I needed a break from Trekking Sock#1 but wasn't ready to get out the skein winder for Wild Apple bohus. Since I have several single skeins, I remembered that Sarah had posted a Calorimetry (Issue Winter 06) from Knitty on her Christmas blog post. It looked like something quite wearable, especially since what was my worst permanent ever is finally growing out.

I'm following the pattern (!) Patons SWS (Soy Wool Stripes)in Natural Blue #70128 is the yarn I'm using. It feels a bit crunchy yet very soft and shiny at the same time. It's the soy. I'm anxious to see how the patterning works out and how the headband dresses.

Calorimetry is a little over half done and is a quick knit. Will do a FO post about it soon!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Trekking sock update

This poor little guy has been in progress for seemingly forever...the last time he was shown, he was enjoying the nasturtiums by the pond. He hasn't motivated me greatly.

Last night I started the toe decreases. The plan is that he will be finished this calendar year and that his mate will be started before January 1.

He's a very simple, stockinette Trekking XXL sock with 2x2 ribbing at the top. His heel is the opposite of many, but that seems to be working out for fit for him. I did the slip heel with the opposite pickups once before and that pair's fine. It also seems to help in the inevitable shrinkage that occurs, no matter how carefully one washes one's socks.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Last night's Christmas Eve candlelight service at a very small and rural church was what Christmas is all really about. As we left the church, a gorgeous, huge full moon appeared in the East.

Today in Southwestern Pennsyltucky we have this sky....

A 'brown Christmas' is much preferable to me these days than those icy, bitterly frigid, white Christmases. We might just remember that the first and rarely sung verse of the song 'White Christmas' speaks of Palm Springs and other such warm spots wishing for a white Christmas. During this December of horrendous storms and blizzards elsewhere, many are probably wishing for this variety of Christmas weather, too.

This day is gorgeous.

Many wonderful presents found their way to bless us under our tree. And, yes, I must have met the tomtens' exacting requirements. Wild Apple Bohus is here.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Safe Traveling to All.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

Tonight we celebrate Christmas Eve.

I'm sharing my first creche that was from my very first Christmas, and all those thereafter. This year it is placed on one of the china cabinets in the dining room, above all.

Every Christmas Eve, I have gone outside to scan the night sky for that most beauteous of sights...the Star. Though it is not visible yet, it is in my spirit. May it be in yours.

For those curious and especially with children, this tracking site for Santa's journey is so much fun:

Merry Christmas...and to all a good night.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Girl Scout play

Yesterday afternoon was the final performance of Girl Scout Troop 120's "The Best Place to Celebrate Christmas: A Musical tour of Christmas Around the World," story by Eleanor Miller. Two of our neighbors were performing in it.

There are teen angels, little angels and littlest angels plus a teacher (the scout leader) in the first part all in 'angel school'. The angels-in-training's mission is to find the best place to celebrate Christmas.

As the angels check out the books in their library, they find many places celebrating Christmas, including Italy and Sweden, where we find Lucia (artfully portrayed by our neighbor and fellow Super Bus Driver.)

The angels search and search and search.

Finally, there is one book left in the library, the Bible, which teaches us where Christmas was first celebrated, in a manger, because there was no room at the inn (nor could the adult Innkeeper remember his one line and his expletive sent a twitter through the audience...)

We celebrate Christmas, the stories teach us, where it is best and universal, in our hearts.

The girls did a fine job and earned their theater badges.

My shepherd's crook and two of my stuffed sheep even became props. For this, they get to be by the Christmas tree for; once in the Nativity play, one earns the right to celebrate Christmas with the whole family rather than being relegated to normal decorating spots upstairs!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Solstice Saturday

And officially it's Winter, having arrived at 1:08 AM here in Pennsyltucky. This week's snow is gone with us being between weather fronts. The high today is to be 51 with 58 the high tomorrow morning , then dropping temps all day for flurries Sunday night and Monday. Not a White Christmas due here. Weather prognosticators tell us we only ever have a 24% chance of snow on the ground at Christmas, anyway.

Yesterday was the last day of school for 2007. Whether or not anyone's to give presents, thanks and love are more than spoken. Bus drivers are no exception. DH got a load of goodies. A lot of candy and gift cards, a school bus driver mug and gift cards. Some people have all the luck of having an excellent driver and excellent kids.

DH has a very rural bus route. The other drivers say he drives on the turkey trails, which isn't too far from true. He has a 66 passenger bus that has to be driven the back roads, some which are not paved and are just wide enough for his bus to traverse. There is one road he drives on which should he meet a bus from another school district (about twice a year) one of the buses has to back up. He sees wild turkeys and deer almost every day. Last year, in fact, two deer committed deeracide into his bus. One crashed down a wooded hillside into his bus and the other ran right into the side of his bus.

It is a much-loved bus. DH washes and waxes it frequently, sweeps the foot dirt each day and hardly ever has to empty his two wastebaskets. There's a lot of respect and faith riding that bus. Kids tell him they're proud that their bus is the cleanest and best bus in the fleet, even though it's not the newest. But it's a Freightliner, and Freightliners are 'Kewl', so I'm told! They even occasionally will bring a friend onto the bus at loading time to show the friend their bus. There are many good kids in this world, with these being just such an example.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bella Coola arrives

Now, this is more like it! Look, Ma, no poirple!

The final Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock club package arrived in this very mailbox yesterday. (As always, click on pics for detail!)

I am so much more pleased with this selection. Tina's 'basic blueness' that created Blue Moon Fiber Arts shows through here beautifully. Should all the skeins have been so beautiful, I would not have gone on my rant after receiving the last one. Plus, I would have rejoined for next year. But, I'm not rejoining.

And that money will go toward Camp and other projects.

It was such sharing the excitement and packages for two years. Just like a kid, I do "lerve" a good package!

It's time to knit on(ward).

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Navajo Afghan

From 1979 to 1984 I taught on the Navajo Reservation in Northeastern Arizona. It was a public school, not a government BIA school. I loved that land and its indigenous people. I had been living in the Phoenix area before I'd gotten the position and had read every Native American book I could in the Glendale Public Library (of which there were over one hundred). One of the most intriguing and vital things I learned was that Navajo rug patterns are very similar to the Scandinavian patterns of my paternal heritage. I felt spiritually comfortable.

The cafeteria manager at my school gave me the vintage Navajo afghan pattern. I made one for each of my (then) stepdaughters. Never one for me.

Well, I still never have made one for me, but years later crocheted this one for my mother for a Christmas present from my handspun polypay, corriedale and collie.

This 'little' guy is for a seven foot long couch. He has felted a bit throughout the years, but is so cozy and warm and 'loverly'.

And there's still one more afghan to show later on...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

! Whimple !

The very first year I learned to spin, my spinning lesson (yes, just one) was in July. By the fourth day of practice I was spinning cobweb lace weight yarn. That became my 'standard' for a long time.

By the fourth Christmas I decided that my Christmas present to my mother that year would be a handspun, handknit whimple. Lace whimple. It was my first knitted lace. Because the yarn was cobweb lace weight, it took seemingly a very long time to knit it and I remember I needed to add at least one more lace repeat to the pattern. I believe the pattern was in a Spin Off magazine, since that was the only fiber magazine I was subscribing to at that time.

This first picture I took of me in the hallway mirror this afternoon.

This second picture is the whimple on the bed so the full patterning can be seen. The ribbing along the face area is white angora rabbit. The rest of the whimple is corriedale and polypay (the white). I loved corriedale! For several years I would buy at least one corriedale fleece from Moonshadow Farm in Minnesota. I could hardly wait for her sample cards to come of the shearings, both the adult and especially the hoggett fleeces. Oh, those hoggett fleeces were perfection. And so wonderful to spin! And just opening the boxes, the fleeces smelled so-o-o good! I've never had fleeces that smelled so loved. (Something only a spinner and sheep aficionado understands!)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Pi R Square(d)

In preparing for the first year at Meg's camp, I did take two long sleeved shirts with me, knowing that air conditioning can be a bit on the coolish side. Oh, it was cool, all right! The timer was predictably coldest at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. every day. Those shirts did, indeed, get worn. But I wanted something that I had knit to wear, much as I am fond of denim shirts. There's just something wonderful about wearing your own handknits at a knitting camp.

For Camp 2 I knitted one of Elizabeth Zimmermann's all-time Greats, the Pi Are Square(d) shawl. In the first picture, the shawl is blocking on a double bed, which isn't really big enough for the shawl. But Nikki the cat made sure the shawl didn't go anywhere, in his admiring fashion. Every time I block an item on that bed, Nikki is right there, purring away. And, he never gets on the item! The second picture shows me wearing the shawl, taking an infamous mirror shot. (Nothing like the tshirt printing reading backwards in the mirror!) I really did need to crop the picture for the flash!

I used the pattern in Knitting Around but I didn't use wool (gasp!). At that point I almost felt like a traitor since I knit with wool 99% of the time. I had some lovely cotton acrylic light blue and white denim yarn by Bernat that came from the Yarn Elf. It knits like a dream and launders well, too! It even is block-able! The white edging is an Old Shale variation that Andrea and Amy Mielke had posted on their website. I was able to show them the finished product on the Saturday Market Day at camp.

Sorry for the late posting today and no post's getting a bit hectic. Sheba Sue and Tawny Tornado were groomed and bathed in the bath tub by moi today, amongst other activities. It was the first time I felt confident about my bone/muscle/tendon/ligament strength since the flight to bathe a 120 pound or so collie dog.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Embroidered wall quilt

In the transition days between embroidering and quilting, I created this Christmas mini-quilt (click to embiggen) for my mother for Christmas. We lived on Ft. Grant Rd. then, so it must have been about 1991.

I was so proud of it because I had never put embroidery patterns together before, had never made a mini-quilt, had never used metallic thread.

After mother died, I found it at the bottom of a cedar chest.

We don't want to consider her reasoning on that one.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

A Cowboy's Christmas

DH in his Silverbelly Stetson.

For several years when Russ was Operations Manager at KRTZ radio in Cortez, CO, he was ruminating a storyline that became "A Cowboy's Christmas". He wrote it out for recording after we'd been transferred to Willcox. For the recording session, he narrated it while a group calling itself 'Cochise Country' just for this session played in the background. It was recorded on different tracks with each instrument and the narration on separate mikes and separate tracks. I was able to watch the procedure and it was amazing what could be done in such a small space in Willcox, AZ! DH chose to name his record label 'Bobwire Records', rather appropriate for the 'Cattle Capital of the U.S.' as Rex Allen called his hometown Willcox. DH and I took the tape up to Phoenix and it was manufactured into 45's within a week.

He's gifting several copies this Christmas, over 20 years later, and asked me to take photos yesterday. One will be enclosed with each copy.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

St. Lucia Day

Today is St. Lucia Day ... which reminds me that I need to be sure to buy my Christmas pickled herring... at least I don't send for the herring from Norway and pickle it in the basement myself like my father used to do! (My mother used to tell me there'd be no more pickling herring in this house because when she smelled the brine and changed it, she was sure she was in a time-warp of her youth when one of her neighbor families was Jewish and would pickle their fish themselves...)

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Cookie baking day

Making DH happy today meant spending more hours in the kitchen than I prefer --- baking Christmas cookies.

Today's array were vanilla/almond pizzelles and Russian tea balls (as they're known here. Mexican wedding cookies as they're known in Arizona.)

My biggest problem with Christmas cookies is that I don't sample them. Inhalation Therapy is what my mind believes cookies are inherently. I put off baking any for as long as possible. But,since tomorrow is to start several days of wintry mix/rain/accumulating snow, guess the kitchen and I had better make friends.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Yarn Thrum Ornaments

Last year I saw on a blog that there were empty clear glass ornaments that could be bought and filled with yarn ends. Hmmm. Maybe I could find some.

About two weeks later I found some at JoAnn's Fabrics in Lower Burrell on sale. This past weekend I saw them in various shapes at the Yarn N Darn in Lower Burrell;so, they are still available.

Throughout this year I have saved some of my yarn ends from knitting projects and put them in several ornaments. Although I have them hanging from the chandelier in the dining room, I placed them on a wreath in the living room to be better photographed. I find it curious to know that I can look at these ornaments in 50 years and note exactly which thrum came from which project!

You can see just a bit of the outside through the jumped to 60 with hazy sunshine this afternoon. This weekend it's not to get above freezing, so this afternoon is to be applauded.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Some of who I am

Although I am allergic to many pine trees, which is why I no longer have a live Christmas tree, I have always wanted a Norfolk Pine as a house plant. I saw them for years in Arizona looking ever so gracious and at the holidays, often reminding me of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree! They were so beautiful in the country decorating magazines I used to peruse. I just couldn't find any to buy....except for one costing $100.

This past weekend we finished up our Christmas shopping and there was a display of Norfolk Pines, including little guys like this one for $4.95. Now, that's more like my tree budget.

During my last decade in Arizona I learned to spin and to weave. I'll have to go to my cousin's over the Four Way to see if she'll let me take a picture of her grandmother's spinning wheel that was the impetus for me wanting to learn to spin since I could remember. Her grandmother was my step-great grandmother and lived next door until the State of Pennsylvania decided to build part of a divided highway through my hill and taking Becky's house along with six others.

The last years I was in Arizona I'd demo spin at the Willcox Apple Festival. The last three years Greta the Sunizona, AZ ceramic painting teacher was at a table across from us (often it was a threesome spinning -- Layl and Tina and me). Greta always had sheep among her display. The sheep in this picture was from her grouping one year. With my penchant for sheep, I had to buy this one that reminds me so much of my Cleo, one of my first three sheep when I was 5.

And the salesman snowman? He was a present from Tiffany one Christmas when we both worked at the Arizona Range News. Neither of us knew when we might get back to snow country. I had to return before she did.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Soppy Sunday

At least the 1/2 of predicted ice didn't materialize. Snow is melting in 39 degree temperatures added by a cold rain. That venison roast and vegetables in the oven will make for a much more pleasant early evening.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Third Mouse of Week

And what we have here is the third mouse of the week, this year's mouse for Nikki before it's wrapped. (That's a gift bag with animals portraying all the roles in the Nativity scene...)

The perennial favorite pattern from Wendy Johnson served to guide me toward a quick FO. The pattern is available in her archives. It really wasn't hard to find a section of runnered pantyhose to use to contain the catnip. Hint: keep a damaged pair around for just this project. Having a project like this each year takes the edge out of runnered can say, "Oh, well, another catnip mouse in the running!"

Saturday sky is....grey. Supposedly precipitation is over for now...then ice overnight into Sunday, then into 40's.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Meg's KAL stocking finished + Surprise!

We have a finished Christmas stocking! It's attractive and 'ginormous' because I knitted it in worsted as a decorative element, not in J&S shetland as a usable Christmas stocking for someone. I used Coats and Clark and Lamb's Pride and mystery yarn. The first two are courtesy of Yarn Elf...the mystery yarn was part of my unlabeled stash baskets. They were knit on #4 circs, except the hem knit on a #2. DH insisted that it go in the middle of the fireplace between our stockings rather than in the stairwell or on the front door. (Which meant a new place for my quilted and embroidered Christmas mini-quilt I'd created years ago.) He wants anyone who comes to see the stocking. Gotta hug that man!

Stocking has been a real joy as my companion the last few weeks. The name on it "God Jul" basically means "Merry Christmas" in Swedish. I used a Celtic Alphabet generator to come up with the lettering and the number style on "2007" inside the hem. (The KAL will remain up on Meg's website until the middle of January.)

I also added a star on one side of the name section, which matches the stars further on down the piece.

As I always try to knit projects that have elements I've not done before. This one has an afterthought heel which worked up well. And, I had not knit a message in a hem before, so that was fun! I did not make any afterthought pockets since it wasn't going to be a person's stocking. But what a great idea it is to knit pockets into stockings to hide yet more gifts! There is duplicate stitching for the yellow in the stars which I had worked once before. Yet, I had done duplicate stitching in embroidery years ago, so it wasn't a totally new concept.

The substitute postal person still has not brought my stamps, but did find the correct box in which to place this calendar that Marilyn van Keppel puts together from Retreat 2.75 pictures for those of us who wished one. What a joy it is. Marilyn did a great job!

Thank-you, Meg for the many possibilities, for hosting this KAL and for Retreat 2.75!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Baby, it's c-c-cold Outside!

How does a record-breaking 9 degrees at Pittsburgh International sound? (We had a low of a balmy 16 here! We must have been in the banana belt today!)

Yesterday the day was spent taking care of the driveway and walks so VIP's like the mail person and my DH in his truck and bus had passable parking/driving surfaces.

Late yesterday afternoon I took these pictures of the back yard and of DH pushing snow off the driveway with his handy snow pusher he designed and made five years ago. Right after that it was time to go out on his activity run. The roads were not pretty.

Last year about this time it got cold and I got out some of the unspun Icelandic that Meg sells. (Schoolhouse Press has put up the new colors that will be available in January. Hot Tamale!) I'd bought the unspun Icelandic at Camp 2 thinking of a shawl or a Dubbelmossa (Handknitting with Meg Swansen. Chapter 2. Video has been available.) Joyce Williams was concerned that since I hadn't knitted with it before, I might find it temperamental since it is unspun. I responded that since I spin and knit with handspun a lot, I didn't think I'd have problems. Luckily, I was right in that comparison and had no knitting incidents!

Having told you the temperature this morning, yes I did wear it out to the mailbox earlier today....and, the contents of the box from yesterday? ... ('Supposed to be) a Wild Apple bohus (I can't open the box or the tomtens will get me!)....

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Anticipating Christmas

This arrived day before yesterday from Sweden...Santa will be able to deliver it on Christmas morning, thanks to the postal elves. And, I must be very, very good or the yule tomtens will get irritated and I'll get coal in my stocking or worse!

Two knitting advent calendar links to share: One from Garnstudio and one from the Lace Guild.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Snowy Sheba Sweater

Our first sticking snow has arrived! This is our pond as of this morning. Tawny and Sheba were having fun and confusion; after all, one can't proceed with one's essential business when all the smells are covered by white!

Wind isn't blowing nearly 35 mph like it was yesterday, so Sheba's sweater isn't quite as necessary as it was yesterday. I'm really not a dog sweater person. And Sheba isn't shaved in the winter, just trimmed (which she needs again!) But she likes her sweater, sometimes asking for it. She remembers exactly how to stand and move to have it put on and taken off, too! Here, she's just come outside.

In this next picture Sheba is searching for bird and rabbit smells. Nothing is better than the smell (and taste) of rabbit droppings. Sigh.

And now, we're ready to come back in to be a Blog Star!

When we lived in Arizona, I would knit and weave all my Christmas presents for my Mother and Step-father and DH's family. In 2000 (I think, maybe 2001) I decided that rather than send a toy or a small bag of treats for Sheba, I would knit her a sweater. Mom had sent pictures of Sheba in winter, always with a sweater on. (But Mom kept her Schnauzer-shaved.) Bernat had a schnauzer in a camo sweater shown on a ball band, so I modified the pattern for Sheba. I totally guessed at Sheba's sweater size. It was a perfect fit at that point!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Christmas knitting

Here is today's update on the KAL stocking. Michelle has posted Meg's last instructions and a picture of Meg's finished stocking. I'm on the hem at the top of the stocking.

Each year I knit Mr. Nikki Pussybuss a catnip mouse. (My Swedish grandmother lovingly called the family cat 'pussybuss' whoever the kitty was.) These are the mice from the last two years. He loves these. I haven't started this year's...the stocking is taking my knitting time along with some reading... (What is it with mice in two consecutive posts!?!)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Mouse ate my Blog Post

Not this mouse...

My old computer mouse. Had me up till 2 this morning cleaning it to try to get it to function. Which it did this morning...a little. Enough to tell me that it really was a new mouse I needed and not a new computer when Christmas presents have already been bought.


this mouse came to the rescue!

Mighty Mouse!