Saturday, November 15, 2008

One Christmas present 20 to go?

Wow, time is just speeding along and somehow we're halfway through November--not that it feels like it since it's going to be in the 90s today but anyway... I'm trying to pretend it's at least "fall-like" by buying apple cider and pumpkin items at the grocery store this morning. It's hard to knit with wool when it's hot enough to wear shorts but I shall continue as Christmas is only 40 days away. Crazy. Well at least I finished one knitted Christmas present this week--socks for my father-in-law Dave. It's the Rockin Strat pattern I found on Ravelry.

Socks to fit a Men's shoe size 11 foot, made of Knitpicks essential in grass on size US 1.5 needles. Didn't take too long though, suprisingly. I started them October 20th and finished them up at the West Hollywood Stitch 'n Bitch on November 13th. Ok, now to get cracking on the rest of those gifts--before it gets too hot for knitting! Here's a preview--a blanket that's about halfway done, well almost halfway anyway. Those dark brown things are knot holes--I'm going to add echoing lines in brown to mimic wood grain. Well, that's the plan anyway but we'll just have to hope it works out because I'm making it up as I go along.
In other holiday prep news, the Christmas cards I ordered from the Humane Society just arrived today and they're pretty cute. I've also been cleaning and getting the house ready for a Silpada silver jewelry party tomorrow afternoon--if you want to stop by and knock some Christmas gifts off your list, just let me know and I'll give you the details.

Stay cool this weekend if you're in CA and stay safe if you're in the path of those fires in Sylmar and Santa Barbara. I was watching the breaking news coverage last night around midnight and the fires looked like molten lava--very scary. But for those of you not in CA, don't worry because I don't live close to those areas so Tristan and I (along with Amanda, Samantha, Magellan, Pierson, Post and Epstein) are just fine.

Ok, this elf has to get back to the workshop now--peace out!

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


What's that lovely scent in the air? Victory? Hope? Faith in the populace? Nope, a delightful blend of all 3. Barack Obama is our next president! This is history folks, history. Ok, I'going to cry now--I've been holding it in all day and need to let the tension and joy spilleth over. I got up early today, got to the polls at 7:05 (stood in line for an hour and 10 minutes) and cast my vote for the first African-American president of the United States.

While I was waiting in line an elderly African-American woman made her way slowly down the sidewalk, leaning on a cane, her head bowed down. As she got closer she looked up and tears were steaming down her face. The woman in front of me asked her if she was ok, if she needed some help and she said "I'm just so happy. I never thought I'd get the chance, in my lifetime, to vote for a Black man for President!" and then she did a little jig with her cane and shook with joy. God, it was a beautiful thing to see! Ok, I'm kinda crushing on this country of ours--after years of thinking we needed to break up.

Oh happy day!!! Now how am I going to sleep tonight--especially not knowing how these Propositions are going to come out?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Happy 30th Birthday, Danielle--you are missed

Danielle, you would be 30 today. Do you remember how far away 30 seemed when we met at age 19? You should be having a grand old party celebrating 3 decades on this earth (and ribbing me about having to do the same next month). You should be celebrating the end of a great year--a year that saw you earn your Masters in Social Work in May and mark your first anniversary with Geno in June. All this you should be celebrating but an undiagnosed brain aneurysm cut your life short and you never got to see 29, never got to finish your Masters and never got to marry and build a life with that wonderful Geno. Well college roomie, I'll try to live mine up and tell you all about it when next we see each other. And so I leave you with a song:

Thank you for being a friend.
Travel down the road and back again,
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a confidant.

And if you threw a party
and invited everyone you knew
You would see that the biggest gift would be from me
and the card attached would say
"Thank you for being a friend."

You'll always be the Blanche to my Dorothy. I love you and miss you.

Danielle Marie Berger
(November 2, 1978 - January 19, 2007)

Reason #7,688 to vote NO on Prop 8...

Tristan and I attended a lovely backyard wedding in Santa Ana on October 19th. The couple is very much in love and had a wonderful, simple ceremony surrounded by friends. LeAnn & Tiff, may you have many many years of happiness together!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

You might be an obsessed crafter if…

So last night I was up late reading the second in a series of vampire books written for teenagers by author Stephanie Meyers. The first one was Twilight which sucked me in. They are sort of like a cross between The DaVinci Code and Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret but set in Washington State and without the "we must, we must, we must increase our busts" episode. The first one had me up late reading it and last night I found myself in the same predicament with the second book, New Moon. I was only 75 pages from the end of the almost 600 page book and I considered staying up past midnight to finish it but, alas, my heavy eyelids made the decision for me. Anyway, in the book there are 3,000 year old vampires and do you know what my first thought was when I read that? "Wow, how many knitting, quilting and cross-stitching projects could I make if I had that kind of time?" Yes, seems I would sell my soul not just for the promise of immortality and super-strength but because it would give me more time to craft. Honestly.

Hmm, maybe I'm only having these thoughts because I can't quite seem to get started on my Christmas knitting yet--too many other little projects here and there that I need to wrap up first. That will hopefully change by next week. I sent off a box to Socks for Soldiers with the never-ending black socks that I finally finished (forgot to photograph though their image is indelibly ingrained in my brain). Hoping to ship off a box to afghans for Afghans tomorrow for their youth collection--a vest, a pair of socks & a sweater made with scrap yarn (resulting in 10,000 ends).

And I hope to get some bath poofs finished by Sunday night so I can throw them in a box with some makeup and toiletries to send to a battered women's shelter on the Pine Ridge Reservation for their "Diva for a Day" event. Volunteer hair and makeup professionals come in and give the women at the shelter a makeover and they pass out goody bags of makeup, hair and body products. They are still collecting through Oct 22nd if you'd like to contribute. Once those are in the mail Monday I can turn my attention to presents, although I may be distracted by calls for Christmas mittens and socks for kids or something. How is it already a week into October?

Since the holidays are approaching, I decided I'd better book our airline tickets to PA last night and because we voluntarily got bumped to a later flight at Easter (and were given $400 vouchers each for compensation) we only had to pay an extra $50 each per ticket. Woohoo, both of us LAX to Reagan National for a total of $100. Also, the prices seem to go down on Mondays--they were $150 cheaper than when I looked at them Sunday night, exact same flights. Go figure. At least that's all set. Let's hope there's no snowstorms in Cincinnati since we'll be flying through there both going and coming...and if there has to be one, let it be the on the 22nd when we fly out because at least I could finish up the Christmas presents that I will inevitably be scrambling to finish and not on the way back when I'm totally sick of knitting and just want to read.

Ok, back to sewing in the ends of that afghans sweater...

Sunday, July 06, 2008

How I spent the last 6 months...

Yeah, I know, I've been neglecting this blog for far too long... I've been working like crazy and mired in the details of everyday life. But I have had some fun since January.

For Easter, Tristan and I took a trip to Georgia to visit his Dad
and his Uncle Ray and his wife Karen. I had never met Ray and Karen so I was very much looking forward to it. Tristan's Dad, Dave, lives a little bit north of the city, which is where our hotel supposedly was located, according to the travel site where I booked it. When I saw the coverage of the tornadoes that hit downtown Atlanta, I was like, "well, I'm glad we're not staying downtown." Except that when we arrived we discovered the travel site totally lied, we were 8 miles from Dave's apartment and smack in the middle of downtown...which looked like a war zone since all of the streets around our hotel were blocked off to prevent looting. We arrived at 9 PM and drove around trying and trying to get to our hotel which was on Peachtree. Oh, that's another thing, Atlanta seriously lacks imagination in its street naming because everything is Peachtree--Peachtree Place, Peachtree Circle, Peachtree Center...ugh!! We finally had to go down an alley and then the wrong way on a one-way street to reach the hotel. Such a nightmare. Each time we left the hotel we had to go about 8 blocks out of our way just to make it to the road that would take us to Dave's! We stayed at the Ellis Hotel which was nice but the room was rather small and the restaurant in the building was crazy expensive so we only ate there the night we arrived. Here's a picture of our room with its ostrich leather headboard--the bumps totally freaked Tristan out (it was a bit like looking at a skinned chicken but without the sliminess!)

In addition to visiting Dave, Ray & Karen (who I completely neglected to photograph, bad me!) we went to the Georgia Aquarium which is the largest aquarium in the world--they actually have Beluga whales in tanks there (but, alas, caviar is not sold in the giftshop--not that I've ever tried it or have any desire to eat it). And the day we went there we got snowed on. In Atlanta. In March. Crazy!
My favorites were the otters and penguins.

In June we went to the Pride Parade in West Hollywood with one of Tristan's coworkers and her girlfriend. It was a blast even though the day was very warm. I actually saw assless chaps on a person for the first time but did not have my camera at the ready to snap a photo, sorry! :)
It was very cool--they had the attorneys who worked on the CA gay marriage case there and it was just a week or so after that victory--history in the making folks! I was proud to be there and cheer them on for the work they have done. Check out the photos here

I've also been hard at work on quilt which is a gift so I can't tell you much about it yet but I finally basted it this weekend and have started the quilting, which I have about 5 weeks to finish! It's about 90" x 98" pre-binding. I've been working on it off and on for 2 years. It was machine pieced but I will be hand quilting it. Here it is, pre-basting:

The cats were worried the layers wouldn't stay together unless they sat on them...

Finally shooed them out of the room..

And a closeup view. I'm quilting catty-corner through the chain of squares and then around each star with muslin colored thread. Cross your fingers that I get this sucker done in time! I will post pics of the finished project, promise!
Quilting a queen+ sized quilt is not a normal 4th of July activity and I don't recommend it unless your spot on the couch is directly below the air-conditioning vent, like mine is!

Happy 4th everyone!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Few of My Favorite Things...

Ok, so winter has arrived here in SoCal--rain, rain and more rain. This chilly rain makes me want to cuddle up on the couch with a few of my favorite things (or least favorite things of the moment):

1. a cup of Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla roobios tea (caffeine free but a whole lot of flava'). It someone manages to taste "thick" like a latte or something, very strange but in a good way.

2. a cozy fleece blanket

3. a cat or three--preferably ones that just want to sleep and not pounce on my toes

4. either a quaint mystery (like any book from Nancy Atherton's "Aunt Dimity" series) or an engrossing novel (just finished The Kiterunner--amazing!)

5. Trader Joe's Belgian Chocolate pudding or Trader Joe's Mediterranean hummus & organic white corn tortilla chips, or both so I can switch off and get both the salty and sweet tastes 'cause I like that kind of thing--I think one of the most perfect foods is the chocolate covered pretzel.

6. My knitting (you didn't think I would leave that out, now did you?)
Currently I'm working on a baby sweater from a Pingouin book I bought on
Ebay--says "automne-hiver" (Fall-Winter) but there's no year. I'll post pictures
when I get a little more done.

How do you like to "weather" the rain?

Stay warm & dry out there people!
Ok, back under that blanket I go...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Sad Day...

In case you haven't heard, Australian actor Heath Ledger was found unconscious today in an apartment in New York. Paramedics tried to revive him but they weren't successful and he passed away. So sad--they think it was a drug overdose. He was only 28 and had a two-year old little baby at home. I personally thought he was talented and had quite the sexy hint of a smile kind of face. And of course I'm a sucker for an exotic accent (ok, so Tristan's California accent isn't so exotic but I'm from the East Coast so it sort of maybe could be). You can view that sexy smile in a photo montage put together by the LA Times. Brokeback Mountain was probably his most famous movie but I've also enjoyed him in 10 Things I Hate About You, The Patriot and Casanova. I wonder what he would have done in the future...

And an update--have you seen what that awful Westboro Baptist Church sent out today? Makes me sick.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

2007--a Knitting Retrospective

A year in pictures...well, most of the year anyway. I don't always remember to take photos of my projects, particularly some of the smaller things I send off to various charities...

January: Shawl for my boss's birthday in green variegated fingering weight 100% alpaca purchased on ebay several years ago, followed by a close up of the fir cone stitch
Socks for afghans for Afghans youth items' campaign, followed by a close up of the slipped stitch check pattern from the Reader's Digest knitting and crochet stitch compendium. Used up some yellow & green scrap wool.
Close up of the check pattern (sorry for the flash blur):
February: I know I made a few more items for afghans for Afghans and a pink stuffed elephant for a friend's baby but I failed to take pictures of them...will do better in 2008!

March: Bunnies for Easter Baskets for the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation. Friends Darcy and Claudia came over and spent an afternoon helping me to stuff the "baskets" (the pink Easter bags seen in the background (had some blue & purple ones too)) with treats and small toys in addition to the bunnies--I think we made up 36 bags in all...Used various white acrylic yarn--mostly Simply Soft and leftover pink and purple acrylic for the ears (the fuzzy ones are some pink mohair leftover from another project) Also crocheted a baby sweater and some bibs for a baby shower but again, no picture!
April: Baby blanket for afghans for Afghans made from Mission falls wool purchased from Supercrafty. Love that yarn--so soft! Crocheted in a very simple pattern from where else but the Reader's digest book.
May: Purple sweater for my friend April. The top back and panels are made of a lovely cotton hand-dyed yarn (possibly from Blue Heron???) purchased during a Black Sheep sale. The solid purple used for the sleeves and the spider-web type lace at the bottom is 100% corn yarn called Cornucopia purchased from Compatto in Santa Monica. I was very excited--this sweater was completely my own design--1st time not even using another pattern for a "start"-- and it actually fit my friend perfectly!
Close up of the i-cord edging and the lace detail...
June & July : I know knitted several things during these months but darned if I took a picture of them! I did one pair of Big Black Socks for Soldiers but the rest are a blur....I think I was doing some quilting since it was too hot to hold yarn...

August to September: Baby blanket for my friend Claudia made from the now discontinued Cotton Angora (purchased during Black Sheep's sale). The blocks are from Debbie Abrahams' book 100 Afghan Squares to Knit and include a triangle, a hexagon, a heart, a circle and a square. Several of my coworkers wanted to learn to knit so we started a Friday lunch knitting group and in October/November we used these same patterns to make a baby blanket for afghans for Afghans using Mission Falls wool purchased from Supercrafty (the pictures are on my computer at work--I'll have to dig them up)

Close up of Triangle Block--I also added a pair of crocheted baby booties as a "garnish" for the wrapping...
October: did some more knitting for afghans for afghans--several pairs of mittens, two children's vests and two hats--thought I took pictures but I can't seem to find them.

November: worked on the baby blanket with my knitters at work and started my Christmas presents but spent most of my time finishing up my graduate e-portfolio (I barely got any sleep for most of the month and promptly ended up with acute bronchitis and a double ear infection after Thanksgiving which meant a week and a half sick in bed--still trying to recover as the cough continues to linger and I am still soooooo tired).

Pink Snowflake sweater for my sister from the Spring 2007 issue of Knit It. The yarn is a wool/cashmere blend (you got it--purchased during the Black Sheep sale) but the only problem was that I bought it in the summer and when I started to work on it in November I thought I had originally wanted to make it just like the pattern--substituting purple for the grey at the bottom and using the same pink for the top. Realized when I was about a quarter of the way through the sleeves that I apparently had originally planned to switch the colors--so that's why there are purple stripes on the sleeves, as I ran out of yarn and couldn't find the stuff anywhere! Oh well, my sister liked it. Tracking down a zipper (and sewing it in) also made this a challenging project but at least I have figured out a way to knit with both colors at once for the snowflakes, using my regular knitting style and a modified continental style for the color in my left hand--much, much faster than dropping one color and picking up another! I also shortened the sleeves and took off about 2 inches of the length to make it more suitable for a petite.
Knitted Tam for Tristan's Aunt Marilyn (from Knitty--it's Tam "C"). Used some off-white wool/alpaca blend purchased on ebay last year and some rainbow Koigu. Only took about half a ball of each so I'm thinking of making myself one too! The knitty pattern is for worsted weight so I did some crazy math and modified it so I could use my sock weight yarn and do it on size 2s (ribbing) and size 3s (pattern). It only took one weekend day to knit and then another day and a half for it to dry over a dinner plate (stretched it out to the perfect size!).
Ties for Tristan's Uncle Ken (Ellen & Natalie--I too was inspired to make knitted ties! Well, the green one is knit and the blue is crocheted--pattern calls for an "E" hook but I only had an "F" hook or larger so F it was). The green is a Cascade wool/cotton blend and the blue is an alpaca/wool blend purchased on ebay.Close up of the stitches. The blue one needed a tie tack but I couldn't find one I liked so I used a small vintage rhinestone pin (and told Ken he didn't have to wear it but could pass it off to Marilyn if he wanted to, instead!)

I still have one more Christmas project that's not quite finished (yes, I do realize it is now January but what can you do?) so I'll wait to post pictures of that one. I'll try to keep up with the pictures, posting my projects at least monthly because now I can't remember where I got half of the patterns for the above items or the name of the yarns that I used. I also bought myself a handy dandy notebook from the Socks for Soldiers Cafepress store so I can keep track of all my project schematics (so I have a better shot of recreating some of what I've made). I'll let you all know how that works out. Happy New Knitting year!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Resolutions...also known as "decisions"

Happy New Year! Ok, so it's just another day, right? There are very few years when I actually feel that divide between old and new on New Year's Eve. This year was not one of them--Tristan was sick and I pulled something in my neck while stretching to reach a skein of Koigu on the top shelf of my closet the day it was a quiet evening at home, catching up on movies and working on an afghan that should have been mailed out before Christmas. Oh well.

My quiet evening also gave me time to think about things I want to do differently this year or do at all, now that I have all of this free time. Oh, you didn't hear? I finally finished my Masters in Library and Information Science so now I'm looking at about 30 extra hours of free-time a week. Somehow I don't think I'll have trouble filling that time as my to-do list is about 2 1/2 years long. Anyhow, maybe if I post them for all the world to see (meaning the 2 people who actually stop by to see this blog since I haven't updated in months) then maybe I'll actually keep them this year. I need to borrow some of Tristan's thinking. He refuses to call them "resolutions" because you can resolve to do something but not really, truly commit yourself to do it. He prefers the term "decisions." So, I have made the following "decisions," in no particular order:

1. I will read more books this year (made it to 79 this year, aiming for 104 next year)
2. I will call my sister more often--not just on her birthday and major holidays
because her laugh just can't be heard in an email.
3. I will exercise more (or really at all)--gonna wear that pedometer even when it doesn't match my outfit.
4. I will lose some weight and fit into those expensive wool suits I bought in Boston 3 years ago (hopefully as a result of #3)
5. I will try to finish some of my UFOs, particularly the ones for me (selfish, I know):
Black mohair beaded sweater (bottom left)--started it about 3 years ago to wear to a holiday party but every year it gets bumped out of the running by Christmas presents for other people
Brown skirt--really, I think I'm only 1 or 2 pattern repeats away from finishing it
Hexagon Skirt--I have all the yarn, Rowan 4-ply Tweed, now discontinued so lets hope I ordered enough! (still available on ebay, though!) Blues, greens & purples separated by charcoal grey
Brown coat from Rowan's Vintage Knits book (Rowan Tweed chunky--also discontinued...)
6. I will knit at least one item for charity each month, rotating between the following (and any others that strike my fancy):
afghans for Afghans wool children's items, afghans etc.
Socks For Soldiers
primarily big black socks but they also take beanie caps and washcloths for those who
don't do socks
Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation many different groups--last year crocheted 13 bunnies for
Easter baskets
Native American Support warm items like mittens, socks & hats for children & adults
Stitches From the Heart items for premature babies
7. I will make an effort to get to Stitch n Bitch more frequently--I sure do love the WeHo Group!
8. I will try to blog more (aiming for once a week)
9. I will not eat anything from the vending machine in the kitchen at work
10. I will eat more vegetables and fruit (and carrot cake muffins do not count)

Ok, that's my head start. I'll probably think of some others but those can wait until Chinese New Year's.

Hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday and let's hope 2008 is a better year.

Stay tuned for pictures of my 2007 knitting projects--I promise!