Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas is on the way

Believe it or not, I've got my Christmas shopping essentially done. God bless Internet shopping. It's the first time ever that I'm not running around at the last moment. I may buy a couple more things, but I don't HAVE to. I could quit right now and everything would be fine. What an amazing thing. I may actually enjoy Christmas for a change. I made bourbon balls and gingerbread dough -- I haven't cut out the cookies yet, but that's not a huge deal. I've been wrapping everything as it arrives in the mail, so the wrapping is under control too. The only thing out of control is the house, which is a complete disaster -- but the housekeepers are coming today and they'll make it sanitary if not tidy. So, life is pretty good.

I'm working on one knitting project for Christmas so I can't really talk about it, but I'm almost done with it and I think it'll be finished well before Christmas. I didn't do a lot of knitting for Christmas because I don't usually knit for other people. I only knit for people who will appreciate hand-knitted items and usually that means knitters who could knit for themselves. But, this year, Ally borrowed a pair of my hand-knit socks and declared that she really likes hand-knit socks so I knitted a pair for her and for Kate for Christmas (no danger of them reading this blog -- they never do). So, I've got two pair of socks and one more knitting project to go under the tree.

Still nothing on the job front. I've applied a lot of places, but nothing concrete has come up. I'm still waiting to hear about the community college classes that I could teach. There is, however, an opportunity that I'm hopeful about. I can't talk about it yet and I don't want to jinx it, but I'm hoping that anyone out there reading this will keep their fingers crossed for me -- or say a little prayer that things will work out for the best.

So, Merry Christmas to EVERYONE! I hope your Christmas is peaceful and happy and full of love.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Last Day of Vacation

This is our last day of vacation. We're trying to soak up the last bits of sunshine and relaxation. The sun is shining and the waves are pounding and I want to make this last day as sweet as possible. After two weeks away, I'm almost ready to go home. Who knows when I'll ever have this kind of opportunity again though -- so I'm squeezing the last bits of rest and luxury out of the day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Linda and I Have Adventures in Florida

My friend, Linda, has come down to Florida to be with me. Yesterday we interrupted our heavy schedule of reading and relaxing to go into Sebastian and see Mel Fisher's Treasure Museum. The Museum tells all about the Fisher family's salvaging operation and how they've found priceless treasures from ancient shipwrecks -- in particular the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet that was wrecked in a hurricane just off the coast of Florida.

A lot of the items found were religious, like this rosary and cross. And some were more "practical" like this "poison cup" which has a framework in the bottom to hold a beazoar -- a stone that was said to absorb poison so that even if your drink was poisoned you would be protected. Of course, there were also gold and silver coins and huge bars of gold and silver too. There were chains and rings and lockets and candlesticks and lots of other assorted things. One interesting thing was that the gold that was made into necklaces wasn't taxed, so naturally people travelled with huge long necklaces of gold so they could transport the gold without paying a tax on it. Some of the gold necklaces were 6 or 8 feet long and made out of large chunky loops.

Some of the treasures that were salvaged are displayed in the museum and some are actually for sale in the gift shop. Linda bought a pendant that was made from a 1715 silver coin. It's oddly shaped because coins in those days weren't necessarily round. Once they were made by hand they were weighed and if they were a little heavy some of the coin was cut away. Similarly, if you needed to make payment and it cost less than a full coin, you'd just cut away the portion you needed to pay. So Linda's odd-shaped coin is really full of history.

I bought a book on the 1715 fleet and a faux silver coin -- but I already have a silver coin pendant at home that Jeff gave me and two pair of earrings all from salvaged treasure. So, I felt justified in egging Linda on to make her purchase without getting any myself!

After the museum we headed to the Vero Beach Factory Outlet to shop a little. Linda needed a new suitcase, since hers has lost a wheel and we looked around a little at the shops. We found a great suitcase for her at the Samsonite store -- it's bright red and has a shiny hard shell and wonderful wheels.
Today, we're back to relaxing by the pool. I bought "The Lovely Bones" to read and Linda's reading the "Twilight" series. Only one more day until it's time to head for home and Jeff's surgery.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On My Own in Florida

Today is my third full day of complete solitude in Florida. I came down on Sunday and drove to Vero Beach and I have accomplished very little since. I'm supposed to be looking for a cheap used car so we don't have to pay the ridiculous rental car rates, but I've struck out so far. My only real prospect was sold yesterday to someone else while I waffled about whether a 2 hour drive to Orlando to look at another car was worthwhile. I decided it wasn't and then the first car was gone. I've spent a great deal of my so-called vacation time on this car business and now Jeff tells me just to wait until he gets here on Friday.

So, what should I do with myself? When I wasn't looking for cars, I've been knitting a pair of socks and reading a novel. I've been able to relax a good bit, but I've hardly been out of the room. I'm not the type who's afraid to eat out or see a movie alone -- but it's certainly less fun alone. I'm not too keen on swimming and with my melanoma history I shouldn't do any sunbathing and it doesn't seem like too much fun to sit alone by the pool even with a book. I have a fantastic view of the ocean from my hotel room, so I've been reading on the balconey.

This morning I woke up at 5 a.m. (probably partly due to the time change) and when the sun started to come up I took a picture of it coming up over the waves. There were really too many clouds in the way, but I'm a lazy bug and I rarely see sunrises of any type. So, I enjoyed this one.

I know that being alone with nothing to do is a precious gift and I should treasure it and use it wisely and well, but I can't think of anything I really want to do. Any suggestions? What would you do all by yourself in a tropical paradise? Let me know. Jeff'll be here on Friday, so I really just have today and tomorrow left.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Steeking -- Stone Cold Sober

I finally did it. I steeked the Bohus. And I did it stone cold sober.

Following the instructions, I basted in several guideline stitches of yarn -- one in the exact middle, and two five rows away on either side. Then I machine stitched one row away from the middle on each side and then two rows away from the middle on each side. So, those cut stitches have nowhere to go. Then, with wild abandon, I took out my trusty shears and cut my sweater right up the middle on the basted yarn guideline.

So far, the sweater hasn't completely self-destructed. In fact, it looks pretty good and, better -- now that I can try it on properly -- I think it might actually fit.

Now I need to pick up umpteen million stitches along the edges and knit the dreaded button bands. This is Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's least favorite thing. I guess we'll find out how like it.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Felt is Magical

I've been doing one of my favorite knitting projects over the past week. I've been making felt hats. I love it because it's magical. You start knitting with big needles and bulky yarn (or two strands) and it knits up fast. Then it looks like a giant misshapen mistake -- like this. Then you throw it in the washer with a pair of jeans and a miracle occurs. It becomes a solid fabric and the brim turns up and it looks great. I haven't decided yet whether to embellish the hats with some needlefelting or add flowers or something. The teal one looks to me like it needs a little something to make it interesting. The striped one probably has enough going on. The navy blue mohair blend one hasn't been washed yet but when it does it will be really fuzzy and probably won't require any further embellishment.

I've also been spinning a bit of the wool I got at the Wool Gathering. This was interesting -- I bought two tubes of yarn and each tube had maybe ten little puffs of yarn in it, each a different color (but both tubes were the same). I spun each on a separate bobbin and then plied them together and, presto, striped yarn with lots of color.

Last, the Bohus is still waiting to be steeked. I need to get my nerve up and my sewing machine out. I wonder if I'll ever get it finished ... I need a slow day when I can take my time. As if that'll ever happen ...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Wool Gathering 2009

This year we had a caravan to the Wool Gathering in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Lynne and Rachel the Peach went in one car because they had to leave early and I followed in another car, eager to wring the last drop of wooly goodness from this year's event.

The weather was fantastic and everyone took advantage of it ... EVERYONE. As I left, one of the sponsors told me that attendance was record breaking -- and I believe it. It was downright crowded! Good for the vendors and a little frustrating for the shoppers, but everyone was good-humored.

The very first thing I saw as I came in was the sheep dog demonstration. A very talented border collie was herding black ducks through tunnels, up ramps and into enclosures. As always, it was amazing to watch the owner direct the dog and the dog guide the ducks through the course.

I walked the entire place twice -- once to look (and feel and smell) and once to buy. There were two huge tents and booths lining the aisle in between them and they were filled with fiber of all types -- from fresh off the animal to finished garments and everything in between, including the animals themselves. There were sheep and goats and llamas and alpacas and rabbits for sale in addition to the yarn and fiber from them.

Best of all, I got to see a lot of friends from the fiber world: Joan Payne, Pat Maley, Moya Jones, Barb Gallagher, Annette Boose, Lisa Rodenfels, and lots more, in addition to spending time with Lynne and meeting Rachel the Peach.

On the way home I passed a field full of sunflowers and couldn't resist stopping the car and taking some pictures. It was a lovely day.
Now for the goodies I bought! I got 2 oz. of a cashmere/silk blend to spin up for something yummy. I also got some Cascade 220 for making some more nativity figures. I got two tubes of a multicolored roving that's meant to be spun in sequence so you can ply it and make striped yarn. I got a cool bracelet that lets you hang a ball of yarn from your wrist while you knit. I got some turquoise dye and highlighter tape (which I'd never seen before -- genius idea!) and last, but not least, several ounces of tussah silk to spin. I definitely did my part to support the vendors and keep the Wool Gathering going!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

More Progress on the Bohus

I finished the yoke on the Bohus sweater and it's starting to look good. The white and gray colorwork really lifted the mood from the all black background and gave the sweater some life. I still need to knit the 1 inch of ribbing that finishes the neckline and graft under the arms, THEN it's on to the dreaded steeking. I've heard that a couple of stiff drinks may be necessary to work up the courage to cut the knitted fabric. I wonder if pina coladas are too frou-frou to work...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Off to College

We got Ally all settled at Centre College this week. We went down and stayed at Shakertown on Tuesday night and then moved her in on Wednesday.

The college had everything remarkably well organized. We were stunned that a swarm of volunteers -- including professors and even the president of the college -- descended on us and helped us carry all of her stuff up to the room. It took no time at all to get the car unloaded and then we had the rest of the morning to put things in place.

There were a lot of orientation meetings for both the students and the parents and then it was time to leave. Her Dad and I didn't start crying until we were headed out of town, but we felt pretty good about her ability to cope with college life. We've been communicating by email since then at least once or twice a day. She's settling in just fine.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Bohus Update

I started the sleeve of the Bohus, only to find that it was created for an elephant. I started looking for pictures of the finished sweater -- the pattern picture isn't that good -- and found a few on Ravelry. The sleeve is a BELL shape! Well, I don't want that, so I contacted a great knitter on Ravelry who changed the shape of her Bohus sleeves and got some advice from her. With help, I was able to make a regular sleeve with the fancy cable rib cuff and I've started the second sleeve. So, the Bohus is moving right along.

On the spinning wheel, I've spun two bobbins full of the merino/mohair blend that a friend gave me. I need to ply them and I'll probably dye the yarn before I knit it up.

Around the house, we're getting ready for the big change. Ally is going off to college -- our first is leaving the nest. We're trying to get everything ready for her to go -- trying to anticipate every need. I think all of us are both in denial and thinking to ourselves that this will be the last time the family is together living as a family. I shouldn't be so dramatic, but things do change once you're living on your own at college. When you come home, it's like your a guest in your own house. Oh, well. Time marches on. Our goal as parents is to make her independant of us ... but it goes so fast.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Slowly, Not Surely

The body of my black Bountiful Bohus sweater has been finished for at least two weeks. I just got up the gumption to start on the sleeves, only to find that they're bell shaped and only three-quarter length. Why didn't I look at the pattern more closely?!

Actually, the pattern itself doesn't show the sleeves. I had to look at other people's projects on Ravelry to find some pictures of them. I only thought to look when I had done three rows on a sleeve and realized that it could fit an elephant. Anyway -- I think the pattern sleeves are really ugly and now I'm going to have to redesign them, which is going to be unpleasant. I want close-fitting sleeves that go to the wrist. This sweater may not get done any time in the near future.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Knitted Bangle

I finishing the knitted bangle that I talked about in the previous post. I think it came out pretty cute. I used some leftover sock yarn and it just took a little while. I think next time I need to make the knitted strip a little narrower because it doesn't cling very tightly to the bangle. Anyway, I've got two more bangles to experiment with. It's a fun project.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Catch Up Episode

It's been a while since I posted. Since Ally's graduation, the main thing I did was go to Ireland with Kate, Linda and Butch. We were an odd group, but it worked out very well. Linda is a high school friend, who was also my college roommate, and Butch is her husband. Kate, of course, is my 16-year-old daughter.

We were in Ireland for two weeks. The first week we traveled around and the second week we rented a cottage in Glengarrif, a little town in County Cork. It was lovely. I'd say the three highlights were: (1) riding in a pony cart around the Aran Islands, (2) Going to a Maureen O'Hara film and having Maureen O'Hara actually show up to answer questions, and (3) the Irish breakfast spread that Mrs. Maxwell had for us at Woodlands Farm (it was incredible!).

At the moment I've got three things on the needles and three things on my wheel. On the needles I have a washcloth that I'm making out of the KnitPicks spa kit. I bought the kit because I thought it was cute and would be a small and easy project to take with me on the Ireland trip. Unfortunately, the kit is entirely cotton/linen blend and is no fun to knit at all. It's just like knitting with kitchen string -- no give. I'm going to persevere and finish this washcloth if it kills me, but I hate the knitting. I'm not going to do any of the other items in the kit.

The second thing on my needles is more fun. It's a Bohus cardigan sweater for myself. It's knit in the round and steeked and I expect it will take forever and a day to knit. I'm not a small person and this is not a small sweater. The main body is black worsted wool from my stash and the yoke part will be gray and white. Okay, I know it's pretty neutral, but if I'm going to put this much time into a sweater I want to be able to wear it with everything.

The third thing on my needles is a cute little project I've been thinking about for a while. I finally found the plastic bangle bracelets I needed at Walmart last week at a decent price. What you do is cover a cheap bangle bracelet with a knitted piece. I probably won't be able to fit them on my wrist, but I think they'll make cute gifts and I might even make some for the Guild sale. I'm using sock yarn leftovers and the first pattern I'm using is an Aran Braid from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

On the wheel, I'm spinning up some laceweight Shetland from the sheep Lynne and I saw being sheared last spring. I'm also spinning 4 oz. of merino/mohair blend that a friend gave me when she bought one of the baby rabbits. And last, but not least, I'm spinning a bag full of Andy fur.

Sad news, I don't think I reported that Timmy, the little runt rabbit that Kate loved and that we kept from the litter, died just before we went to Ireland. We're not really sure what happened. Kate was home alone and she put him in the outdoor exercise pen for a little while. She said he was so happy to be outdoors and was binky-ing all around the pen. She watched him for a while and then left him for a few minutes. When she got back, he was in the middle of the pen, on his side, and spasming. He died in her arms. The vet said he might have run into the fence and broken his neck. My own guess is that he had a heart problem and that was what made him a runt to begin with. We'll never know, but Kate's heart was broken. We buried him under the crabapple tree with full honors. We've got some of his fur and I'll have to spin it into something special for Kate. I hope it's long enough to spin -- it was baby fur after all.

Look what my sister brought me from her cruise to South America! A huge wad 'o wool! She got it in Chile and she also got one for herself. She's thinking of knitting and felting hers into a bag. I'm not sure yet what to do with mine. I'm thinking felted hat and scarf.

I'm enjoying a peaceful morning. Kate is at camp and Jeff and Ally have gone to Chicago, so I have three days all alone. I don't know what to do with myself!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Graduation Day

Well, it's official! Ally is now a high school graduate.

The graduation was quite an elegant affair. The girls were required to wear full length white (not candlelight, not ecru, not eggshell) gowns with at least 3 inches of sleeve and large picture frame white hats and gloves. The boys wore black tailcoats with top hats, gloves and canes. For the graduation ceremony, each girl carried a dozen red roses. It looked like something from 100 years ago -- very elegant.

Of course, the kids were kids. They were a little subdued by their finery, but not completely.

The evening before the graduation there was a mass and awards ceremony at the school. Ally received an award for having First Honors all year and won the Sociology medal and one of the Drama medals.

The graduation itself was the next morning at Mother of God Church in downtown Covington. It's a beautiful big old church with gorgeous stained glass.
Kate was able to actually catch the moment Ally received her diploma from the bishop on film.
Here is Ally with two of her closest friends: Renu and Laura.
Congratulations, Ally. Well done! We're so proud of you!

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Bye, Bye, Bunnies

Last Saturday, April 25, I loaded up the car and took six of the bunnies to the Troy Fiber Fest in Troy, Ohio. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was sure I would be there for two days and come home with at least half of the bunnies.

What actually happened was that the bunnies sold like hotcakes and all had good homes long before the end of the first day. Many people commented on how friendly they are -- credit for that goes to Ally and Kate for playing with them so much and so gently.

Kate wanted to keep the runt, Timmy, at home and, although I haven't committed to keeping him forever, it's starting to look that way. So, counting Timmy and the little doe that Sandra adopted, all eight bunnies found good homes. I'm so thrilled and relieved. I was concerned that I wouldn't be able to place such a large litter, but their beauty and friendliness won out. I wish them all well in their new homes!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Uncooperative Easter bunnies

Yesterday -- before the rains came -- we took the bunnies out to the playpen and let them run around. Kate and I got a lot of cute pictures, so I'm going to post some of them below. Cute bunnies!!

I was trying to get a picture of them in the basket, but they didn't want to sit still. Instead, they turned the basket over and tried to eat it!