Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christmas Story

Me: I want an official Schacht Spindle Co. Spinning wheel with double treadle, a lazy kate, and a scotch tension. (Giving my biggest grin possible)

Santa: You'll prick your finger. Ho. Ho. Ho.

This year, I asked my family for gift certificates to my favorite LYS so I could buy a spinning wheel. I wasn't sure if it would happen, and I was beginning to feel a little sad. I knew I would still have a fantastic Christmas, wheel or no wheel, but I couldn't help sympathizing more and more with Ralphie from A Christmas Story. His sad, glum, face kept popping in my head and I told Italian that I knew how Ralphie felt. Italian just patted me and said "I know, sweetie," all the while knowing I would have a complete Ralphie experience (minus the pink bunny suit).

On Christmas morning, Italian handed me a gift. I unwrapped it and found a Schacht box. I began to get a bit confused and thought maybe it was a drop spindle to tie me over. I opened the box and it was filled with spindles and a lazy kate. I looked at Italian and he told me the rest was at his parents. Then, I cried. (For those who know me, this isn't a big shocker).
Schacht Matchless DT

Italian went through quite a lot to ensure the wheel would be a surprise. He had purchased it a week before Christmas, when he was pretty sure I would not be going back to the yarn store until after Christmas. Imagine his shock when I announced on December 23 that I was running a few errands and would stop by the Shop. He said he would stay home and get a couple of things done around the house and take care of Little Clover. I drove off. Italian then turned to Little Clover and exclaimed, "Quick! We have to go!" He got the wheel from the attic, called the shop and asked if he would drop the wheel off for a few hours because I was coming over. The owner agreed and the plan was put in motion. Of course, I did my part and glanced longingly at the wheel while I was in the store. I even asked the Spin Meister and shop owner extraodinaire if she rents out the Schachts, since I didn't think I would be able to buy it after Christmas. She smiled and told me that yes, she does rent them out. We chatted a bit more, I paid for my yarn and left. As soon as I walked out, she was on the phone with Italian telling him the plan worked and it was safe to pick up the wheel. You can be sure, this shop will always be my favorite, and that this Christmas was better than I could have hoped.

Now, for some Christmas food!

Suzie's Spicy Sausage Balls
Once upon a time, there were a group of friends who were in their final years of college. They were homesick during the holiday season and decided to have their own holiday dinner. Three friends excitedly volunteered to make old family recipes for dishes that graced their family tables and would hopefully make the dinner more special. So, Foxy called her mom for the family pumpkin pie recipe. Aaron called his dad for the family cranberry sauce recipe. Suzie called her grandmother for the family sausage ball recipe. Each of these three brought their dishes to the dinner and each was very, very, mad at their families. What they had thought were special secret recipes were really recipes from the packages of the ingredients.

I was aggravated enough that I decided to make my own sausage ball recipe, and they've been a hit every year.

1 package (roll) of Sage Sausage
1 10 oz. package of Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 cups of Bisquick
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
Chipotle Chile powder (optional)
Tabasco Sauce (optional)

Shred cheddar cheese. Place shredded cheese, sausage, Bisquick, and minced garlic in a bowl. Sprinkle with chipotle chile powder. Dash Tabasco all over the top of the mixture. Mix all the ingredients together. I mix by hand and stop when my hands are clean. Roll into balls. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Balls should be brown all the way through.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


Time. It is something simple, something that is free, something that everyone has. No one owns it. No one can take it without your permission. Yet, it is one of the most precious commodities and one that seems to be lacking from my life. I need more time. I need time to rest and time to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the season instead of rushing through the time I have.

Today, as the darkest night of the year gives way to growing and increasing light, I find myself looking back on my days and on the year. I have found that my life, despite the fact that I could use more time, has been a very good year. I have had more laughters than tears, more smiles than frowns, and more friends than enemies. We have been healthy. We have had some wonderful experiences. We have had time. I just need to remember to enjoy the time I've had while it happens.

So as the earth turns back towards the warmth of the sun, may you find time to bask in the light.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Tree Envy

LC: Mama?
Me: Yes, baby?
LC: How come it says "Leon"?
Me: We couldn't find our name, so Daddy bought "Leon" since it was on sale.

Little Clover has tree envy. He thinks our Christmas tree is way to small and that his grandparents' tree is just the right size. I believe his exact words were, "Now, that's what I'm talking about," when he saw their tree. Personally, I like our tree. To me, it is the right size.

The hunt for the perfect tree is always an experience. At times, I've been tempted to buy an artificial tree, especially a nicely pre-lit one, but then I think about the hunt and put all thoughts of an artificial tree away. Little Clover begins asking about a tree the Monday after Thanksgiving, when we return home. When we finally go to the roadside tree stands, he begins running from tree to tree shouting, "I like that one!" Each year, the trees he's initially drawn to have gotten bigger and bigger. Our ceiling height, though, isn't growing. Italian and I have fun steering him in towards a more appropriate tree. His excitement and energy makes us feel like we are wrangling a cat.

Of course, once the tree is strapped to the roof of the car, we bring it home to decorate. Again, Little Clover goes at it with gusto. He does a fabulous job of placing most of the decorations at eye level, too -- his eye level. This year, he even organized the ornaments, placing all the "brothers" together.

Finally, the decorating is done and the navity scene is set up. Little Clover is very, very insistent that baby Jesus isn't put out with the navity because he isn't born yet. We have to hide the little baby until Christmas day. I feel pretty bad for the little guy, but Little Clover says that Jesus doesn't mind. I'll take his word for it.

With all the decorating and tree hunting, I haven't had too much time to knit. I was able to start the second entrelac sock and am about to turn the heel.

The entrelac sock provides a steady rhythm and is just complicated enough. The Trekking color pattern is truly amazing and a wonder to watch unfold. I'm in love with the simplicity of the colors and the complexness of the simplicity.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Sew? Where's the beer?


Little Clover's Christmas program is swiftly approaching and all the kids in his grade are angels. Well, more accurately, they are to play angels in the program. Of course, Little Clover was typecasted. Even though there were angel costume premade and available for us, I decided that we could make our own or buy one and the more time stressed parents could use the available costumes. Next year, I don't think I'll be generous.

I thought that it would be nice if I made Little Clover's costume. This would be a good chance for me to try sewing again. I took out the sewing machine, changed the bent needle (don't ask), measured Little Clover, and cut. Hmmmm, the angel costume seemed a little tight, so the piece I cut will be a front instead of a front and back with a single seam. I cut out the second piece and then began cutting out a sleeve. The sleeve didn't have quite the flowy effect I was wanting, but I was getting tired of cutting. I went to the sewing machine and tested it out.

The tension seemed really loose, and I made a couple of adjustments. I began to sew some seams. The thread was bunchy and loose and looked awful. I ripped it out and thought, well this will be good practice. I had the same problems. I cursed a little. I tried again, again had the same problem. I cursed even more. By now, it was time for Church. I cleansed my soul and had a revelation. If I had a beer while sewing, the costume will either look good, or I won't care anymore. Either way, the results will be much better.

I grabbed a beer, looked at my machine, and this time, I put the foot down. That little foot thing makes a huge difference. The thread had the proper tension and the seams were uneven, but at least I finished.

Oh, as for the "Knit a Sweater in a Month" endeavor; I didn't quite make it. I did knit a sweater in a couple of hours this week.

It may be just an ornament, but it's still a sweater.

Pattern: Ornament Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts
Yarn: Left over sock yarn in green, white, and red
Changes: I left the book at the office, so I just made up the yoke part of the sweater. Had I been smart, I would have reference EZ's yoke sweater pattern. Instead, I just joined the sleeves to the front and back of the sweater and started decreasing until it looked right.

 Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

EZ knitting?

This is the latest addition to my knitting library and the first Elizabeth Zimmerman book I've ever picked up. I have very high hopes for the book. I'm hoping to find insightful writings on the hows of knitting. I don't really want patterns, but rather, formulas, guidelines, and priniciples. I know that EZ has been a great inspiration to a large number of knitters and I've always been curious about her books, but I don't think I was ready for them until now.

Trying my hand at entrelac has been an interesting step for me and has shown my journey as a knitter. When I picked up my knitting again two years ago, I had no desire to create my own patterns. Following someone else's pattern and reaping the benefits of her work was completely satisfying. I couldn't imagine going through the knitting and reknitting that is required when creating a pattern. I just wanted to knit and to knit without thinking. I discovered I'm not that type of person.

I have a very strong need "to know." When I was knitting, I was analyzing and deconstructing and thinking through each step. Why did my sock not fit, why does this decrease lean this way, why does this pattern recommend this yarn? As each stitch built upon another to make a fabric, I was thinking. Well, that led to a deeper understanding of gauge and structure until eventually, I made the leap to just knitting without a pattern. I think I understand my knitting enough to just knit, but I know there is a lot of information and experiences I need to discover. Hopefully, I'm ready for whatever guidance is in this book. I'll let you know how it goes. Posted by Picasa

Monday, December 04, 2006

It is the little things

Do you ever have one of those days that makes your shoulders slump and your head pound with exhaustion and frustration? I had one of those days today, and then I step out of my building onto the roof of the parking garage and saw a beautiful full moon in a band of purple sky with the darkness creeping up from below carrying pin-prick stars with it. Then all the yuckiness of my day melted and I said a little "thank you."

The moon was all I needed to remind me of what a great few days I've had. For starters, Italian raked the leaves last week, and what does a little boy coming home from school do when he sees a pile of leaves? Jumps in, of course! Little Clover saw the leaves as we pulled into the driveway and made a beeline towards the largest pile, running out of the car, leaving the door open. He held his nose and jumped! When he saw that the leaves only came up to his waist, he started jumping up and down and kicking. Then he ran to the next pile, jumped, ran through it to the next and kept on going in circles from pile to pile. I loved watching his enjoyment and hearing his laughter.

I had a little joy of my own as well, last week. The entrelac sock has been an interesting project. I'm knitting an entrelac sock sans pattern and after much tweaking and visuallizing, I finally turned the heel:

and kept the entrelac pattern going. There is joy in a turned heel, especially one that you kinda do on your own.

We also experienced an incredible auction for a friend's school. She is a teacher at a small school for kids with learning disabilities. My friend coordinates the auction every year and they had a huge turnout, raising over $30,000 for the school. The kids will benefit from the generosity of a lot of very kind and giving people. My little crocheted scarf that I donated brought in $65 during the silent acution.

We topped the weekend off with a spontaneous trip to see the Titans play the Colts in Nashville. The game was amazing and was decided by a 62 yard field goal that gave the Titans the win. The energy in the stadium was just astounding, and even though Little Clover was quite sad that his favorite QB, Peyton Manning, lost, he was rather excited to get a Titan autograph after the game.

When we got home, he ran around the living room, replaying the game. He even changed the ending, ending the game with a surprise touchdown by the Colts. Now, that is optimism. He even gave me more uplifting moments today by give me all the hugs I needed. Perfect.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

November Book Report, Part II

While traveling for the holiday, Italian and I had a chance to listen to Red Rabbit by Tom Clancy as Little Clover watched a DVD. I enjoy Tom Clancy novels and will pick one up blind. This one, despite the ending, didn't disappoint me. The book had a fair enough of suspense and a lot of great character background. Clancy give the right amount of insight into Jack Ryan's background and introduces characters that are present in earlier novels. He builds the situations up to a burning point that keeps your ears prickling with anticipation. Then he brings you down before rising the suspense again. Chronologically, Red Rabbit takes place earlier in Jack's career even though it was published later than some of the Jack Ryan books.

I must admit, the ending was abrupt. This time, the abruptness didn't annoy me as much as the abruptness of The Time Traveler's Wife, probably because I can read more Jack Ryan books. This book is not the end of Jack Ryan. Fortunately, if I want to find out what happens to Jack, I can pick up another book. Overall, if you are a fan of Tom Clancy, then you will enjoy this one as well.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Family Tradition

How does your family celebrate Thanksgiving? Mine goes out into the woods.

We spend actual Thanksgiving Day doing the more traditional things. We wake up and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade while we lazily drink coffee and chocolate milk. We casually take our time getting ready for the day's parties, and sometimes we cook in the morning. Then, as Santa gets closer, we load up in the car and drive to our first stop, my grandma's house. We eat crazy amounts of food that my aunts, uncles, cousins, have made. We throw the football around a bit, then we pile up in the car again to have dessert with Nana Clover's family. Then, the real holiday celebrations begin.

We load the car up one more time and drive to the cabin out in the woods by a lake. Some of my other aunts and uncles have cabins close by as well, and we have a campfire and play and sit outside the entire day after. There is no shopping. We are not one of those "Make a mad dash to the store" type of families. Instead, we roast hot dogs and marshmellows, eat lots of snack foods, and (this is the best part) we shoot each other with paintball guns.

Now, I would like to state that for the most part, my family is a family of doves. With that in mind, my family also has quite a few former and current military men. Maybe that's why we enjoy the paintballing as much as we do. Plus, it kinda harks back to the days when pioneers had to go and hunt down the Thanksgiving day turkey. Little Clover even got into the paintballing this year (despite the protesting and worrying of his mom). He donned some gear and dueled with Papa Clover. Little Clover won.

We also walked along the bank of the lake, skipping rocks and looking at tracks. Little Clover put on a lively dance for us while shaking the pancake batter. We even got in a game of Scrabble.

In between paintballing, football throwing, and hot dog roasting, I managed to work on a scarf for a charity auction and an entrelac sock.

The sock is knitted with Trekking XXL in 104. The colors are amazing and seem to be made for entrelac. The changes between each section are perfect. I'm not really using a pattern. I found a cuff down entrelac sock online, but the entrelac stops when you get to the heel. I'm knitting these two-up with a short row heel. I thought the diagonal seem on the heel would compliment the entrelac. I'm just now trying to figure out how to rejoin the heel stitches without disturbing the pattern.

The charity scarf is a simple double crochet that I crochet longways. I have no idea what the yarn brand is. The colorway though is called Parrot. I found it deep in my stash and it was one of my first parchuses from a real yarn store. It came in a huge hank and I used exactly one hank. The only scraps I had left where the clippings from trimming up the fringe. Good karma!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Yarn, good

Last night, while tucking Little Clover into bed, we had the following conversation:

LC: Mama, why do moth's eat yarn?
Me: Moths lay eggs in yarn and when the eggs hatch, the larva eat the yarn.
LC: So, daddy moths don't eat yarn?
Me: Nope, just babies.
LC: Why?
Me: Because they are hungry.
LC: Will they eat the baggies
Me: Nope.
LC: So the yarn is safe?
Me: Yep.
LC: Good.

He was worried about my stash! Isn't he the best little kid ever??? Every once in a while, a moth will find it's way inside from the great outdoors. When one does, Italian and Little Clover proceed to execute Operation Yarn Rescue. Little Clover will thrown something over whatever knitting is on the sofa and then yell for Italian. Italian will then have to corner the moth and catch it. We don't like to smoosh most living things. Then, I open the door (because by this time, some ruckus has been made and I've entered the room with the ruckus). Italian will final release the moth back into the wild and everything returns to the way it was. The guys have learned that yarn is good. I must now give them some yummy wooly goodness.

Monday, November 20, 2006

November Book Report

I've finished two books recently and was disappointed by one and taken away by the other.

The first book I finished this month was The Time Traveler's Wife which began rather well and seemed to be a very promising book. The book is about two main characters: Henry the time traveler and Clare, his wife. Clare first meets Henry when she is six and he is in his 30s. Henry first meets Clare when he is 27 and she is 20. The book begins well and does a great job of setting up the rest of the story. The middle section was a bit tiresome and I struggled to get through it. The writing was good, the middle was just a tad bit boring and lost some of the momentuum at the beginning. The book picks back up again and I was enjoying it once more, until the end. The ending was terrible. It had the feeling that the author just got tired of writing and decided to stop. There is no resolution and there is no end. Maybe that was her point, afterall, if one is a time traveler, there is no end nor beginning. Time is one big circle of existence. I, though, am not a time traveler and I prefer endings to stories. Honestly, the lack of ending ruined any enjoyment I had.

The second book I read, The Thirteenth Tale, was absolutely delicious. I was hungry for it when I wasn't listening to it. The words in the book were perfectly choosen and satisfying. The story is about a storyteller who believes that every story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This story fits those requirements. There are stories within stories and each story is interwined with the main story. The characters float from one to another and as a reader, you find yourself drawn into their own stories. The Thirteenth Tale is part fairy tale, part ghost story, part 19th century British Literature. The writer was definitely influenced by Bronte, Doyle, James, and they weave themselves in and out of the book as well. This book is an excellent book for people who love books, especially rich decadent books. I'll read this one over and over again.

Now, the book was wonderful, the story was absorbing, but the best part was the knitting. Yep, there is knitting in the book and not just any knitting, there is sock knitting! In fact, one chapter is titled "Ms. Love turns a heel." You just can't get much better than that.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Quick Trip

I snuck away for a quick little trip to Missouri. A and I have been planning a surprise for Foxy for two weeks. She had mentioned that all she wanted to do one weekend was to go shopping with me, and since I live in another state, it was a wistful comment. A called me right away and we began scheming. We are good at scheming together. I packed up a small bag Friday and headed out for my drive. While somewhere in the middle of Missouri, I searched and searched for a gas station. I searched for over 30 miles before I found one. When I pulled up towards the pump, I was shocked to see a friend from college. He was headed to Tennessee. We chatted and laughed at the randomness of our meeting.

Foxy was surprised and we had an awesome weekend. We stayed up late talking and then spent the next day power shopping. We played with dress up at a Sephora and were asked if we were twins. We responded simultaneously, "No." Mind you, Foxy is definitely midwest German, I'm definitely Asian, yet, we didn't find the question odd. The girl then asked if we were best friends, and again, we simultaneously responded, "Yea." We even had the same head tilt and nod as we responded. I think it was obvious that we had been friends for over a decade.

I had a great trip. Being with Foxy for no other reason than to just hang out was refreshing. Unlike other trips, we didn't have a birthday party or another cause for our being together. We got to just be the friends we are.

Friday, November 17, 2006

How long have you been biking?

Trying to explain to your non-fiber friends that you can't go to lunch because you have a spinning class leads to some interesting comments. First they look at you with some amount of admiration.

"Wow, how great of you to stay in fit," they think.
I see the look and respond to their thoughts by explain that I am learning how to spin yarn, and not spin a yarn as in a story, but to actually spin wool into yarn. They they look at me with the "Why in the world would you want to do that?" type of look.

After the initial shock subsides, they then ask if everyone else who spins is like way older and in their 60s. Nope, I reply with a grin. In fact, my classmate yesterday was about my age and has been knitting for about 2 years now. I actually don't know of any older spinners which strikes me as odd. She was just learning how to spin, and I was just learning how to ply, and what a difference plying makes!

I left the class with a different Louet to try out, and after the first few minutes, I could tell that I did like the Louet 75 much better than the Louet... It spins more like the Schact I tried yesterday, which was amazing!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Just in Time

The socks are complete and I finished them just in time to enjoy this:

Friday, November 10, 2006

Panic! breathe

Quick post, no pictures for this one.

I just realized that I am traveling for Thanksgiving and won't be taking a spinning wheel. My chest just kinda got tight and my breathe stifled under the weight and I honestly felt panic rising up. I will be without a wheel for at least three days. This is sad. I'll still have my knitting. I'll be busy hanging out with my family, yet I am wondering if there is anyway I could spin while with my family. I don't even own a wheel yet! I'm still renting a wheel from my LYS. Oy! I think I have official crossed over to genuine fiber addict.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Not Waiting

I've been patiently waiting for my International Scarf Exchange package. (Let's face it, I don't wait patiently for anything.) Everyday for the last two weeks, I've had an anxious moment when I came home thinking, will it be here today??? Then I'd get disappointed when the package wasn't on the doorstep. came!!!!! It also came at a perfect time. I was having a rough day at work on Tuesday and really need the pick-me up that was waiting for me in the kitchen. I opened the box and was greated with an array of surprises in edition to the scarf.

The incredible entralec scarf was tucked into a beautiful Latern Moon sock bag.

The bag is perfect for me to stick my current sock project into it AND it is thin enough to place inside my purse! I no longer have keys tangling up with my yarn! Plus, Skylar put yummy chocolates and caramel cookies and gum and Jelly Bellys in the package. She also gave me Mint Hot Chocolate. Yummmmm! The hot chocolate matches the scarf which reminds me of mint chocolate chip ice cream. The colors are beautiful and look completely fabulous with my coats and jackets. She did an awesome job with the knitting and DH was very impressed. I love the picture on her blog of the scarf, and it does look good unblocked. The diamonds are puffier and make the scarf look fun. Thank you, thank you, thank you again. I love all the treats and the scarf is perfect!

Monday, November 06, 2006


Dear Irish Clover,

I have recently been notified of your desire to join the National Knit a Sweater in a Month along. In response to your interest, I am forced to ask the below question.

What in the world is wrong with you??!!?!?!!!!!!!?


Your sanity

Oh, as I wrote about the serentity I was feeling and how happy life was now that things had slowed down, my need to be busy and stressed out kicked in and paniced that I was not busy and stressed out, so I decided that I would knit a sweater in a month.

I know, I know, that sounds like a really crazy idea, but hear me out. I need to redeem myself. Italian's annivesary sweater took me 7 months to finish. I can do better than that. I am fully moderately quasi confident I can knit a sweater in a month. It's biggish yarn. Oh, I didn't tell you the super fun part! I don't want to knit any old sweater. I want to use the yarn that Italian gave me for our anniversary. I also didn't want to make it easy for me either, so I'm going to design my own pattern! Hee, hee. I think I am going over the deep-end.

Without further ado, may I introduce you to Anniversary Sweater Part II, the swatch!

Oh, and Italian's sock, too.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Happy Birthday Nana Clover!

A few years ago, my dad called me to tell me he had met someone special and they were getting married. He was right, she is very special. She has the gift of making my dad smile and laugh. She brings him joy. She opened her heart to his family and she is loved in return. She is caring, she is warm, she is thoughtful, and she is full of life. I am happy to have her in my family and I am thrilled to be a part of hers. Happy Birthday, Nana Clover, and thank you for all that you are.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


I don't know if it's because today is November, or soccer season is over, or work is slowing back down to normal chaos, but I feel rejuvinated. The last few weeks, I was on edge, waiting. Waiting for more time, waiting for my marathon meetings to end, waiting for less distractions, waiting for life to return to normal. I don't like waiting. I missed out on enjoying the moments that were happening because I was too busy waiting for them to be over.

I think November is my favorite month. Fall is definitely my favorite time of year, and November seems to be the best month. The leaves in our neighborhood are in their best technicolor glory. There are only 21 more days until Thanksgiving. There will be pies to bake in the next few weeks. I'll be cooking sausage balls and I'll beg Italian to make his Andouille Sausage and Irish Cheese Grits. We'll start to pull out our coats and scarves on a regular basis as we traispe through fallen leaves. Finally, we will have our first real wood fire in our house. I'll claim my spot next to the fireplace with my knitting and egg nog. I love this time of year. I can't wait!

Italian's Socks

Italian is feeling the knitted love. After a couple of false starts, the first sock ended up being a perfect fit. It is Schaffer Anne and the yarn has a beautiful twist. The singles are tiny and perfect looking. Hopefully, one day, I'll be able to spin singles for a double ply sock weight yarn. I'm making up the pattern as I go, following Wendy's toe-up sock formula, but I've added a ribbing pattern. Here, the sock is getting an interesting view of our living room.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween!

Halloween began yesterday for us. We were a bit late in getting a pumpkin to carve, but we were able to find a beautiful fresh pumpkin yesterday. Little Clover was thrilled when he saw all the pumpkins left and wanted to bring home 4. I drew the line at two. We rushed home and converted the kitchen table into a pumpkin carving station. Italian even brought out his power tools. Before I knew what was happening, his drill was poised over the head of the pumpkin and he was drilling into the gourd. This makes Halloween the second holiday when the drill was used in the kitchen.

Italian and Little Clover were elbow deep into the pumpkin. They carved and they scooped and then carved some more. Before I knew it, the pumpkin had been transformed into this:

I don't know if it's just the Irish in me, but something about a carved vegetable really speaks to me.

We continued Halloween today with the annual ritual of Trick or Treating. Little Clover resurrected his Darth Vader costume from last year. Here he is giving us his mean face while holding a glow stick.

Can't you see his mean face? We then proceeded to go from house to house getting candy from our neighbors. The neighborhood was swarming with little people (and some not so little people) in costume. We returned home to find our basket of candy now just a basket. Little Clover is filled with sugar and sleeping. I'm going to knit a few rows in the late witching hour quiet. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

You're It!

Conversation Italian Overheard
Little Clover: You're it.
Lilly: But I don't wanna be it.
Little Clover: But, you are it.
Lilly: But I don't wanna be it.
Little Clover: It's your turn.
Lilly: But I don't wanna be it.
Little Clover: This is how it works, you hide for a little bit while I'm it, then I hide while you are it. It's your turn.
Lilly: Well, I don't want to play anymore.
Little Clover: Fine. What do you want to do, then?
Lilly: I want to play tag.
Little Clover: Fine. You're it.

Yesterday, NPR's sports writer Frank Deford had an essay about school systems banning tag. Evidently, tag is physically dangerous and causes emotional distress and lowers self-esteem. Wow, I had no idea it was such a terrible game! Who knew???? We play tag quite often at our house, and love it. Granted, we could be called psychologically distressed, but we have fun, nonetheless. Now, with tag being banned, what will happen to phrases like "Phone Tag" and "You're it"?

My spinning is getting better and this ball of yarn actually looks like a real ball of yarn. It is keeping Italian's first pair of socks company. I just completed the short row heel on the sock and am moving up the leg. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


We went fishing this weekend for what may be the last time at our little campsite. The owner of the campsite is closing it down and we wanted on last trip. How sad it will be to go some place different on our next fishing trip. Italian has been fishing there for 15 years. I've been fishing there for 11 years. Little Clover has been fishing there since he was in utero and took his first steps there. I still can't wrap my brain around how we won't be fishing there in the future. Maybe I can entice JR with knitted gifts.

We arrived in the dark of night and awoke to chilly mountain air and the sound of wind whipping around the camper. Ocassionally, large ripe walnuts would hit the top of the camper with a loud thud or two. The leaves were changing color and weren't quite at their most brilliant, but the colors were enough amaze me. We fished a bit, and Little Clover started to get tired. He wanted a fish and asked me if I would catch one for him. Basically, he outsourced his fishing. Later, he outsourced his fly tying to Italian. I see management written all over him!

He truly was a little grown-up. He lead us through a round of the Alphabet Game while we sat around a campfire and he kept us entertained with some great dances. I hope he still loves to camp and fish as he grows up.

Knitting Update
For Socktoberfest, I'm knitting a pair of socks for Italian. I'll post a picture. It is going amazingly fast. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Which is better, this or this?

Little Clover got his new glasses this week. We've been putting off as long as we could, but when teachers and classmates begin to mention his sight everytime they see you, you know it's time to get glasses. We've been delaying glasses for several reasons. Mainly, Italian and I aren't quite ready to commit to glasses for Little Clover for the rest of his life. Secondly, Little Clover has been in denial about glasses and took forever in finding a pair he liked. Ever time we went to try on glasses and pick out a pair, he kept commenting on how he didn't need glasses because all the glasses he tried didn't help because everything was still blurry. No matter how much we tried to explain that these were demos and weren't real glasses, he just didn't believe us.

Finally, though, we found a pair of glow in the dark Sponge Bob glasses. He liked them, we bought them, we brought them home. The first day, he kept putting them on and taking them off and putting them on. He couldn't believe how well he could see. He was nervous about wearing them at school, but the first day went well. Two girls told him the glasses were cool and the teacher's hubby told Little Clover that he looked like a professor. Italian and I have been wearing our glasses in a show of solidarity, and I think he is getting used to them. Plus, he looks darn cute!

I've also finished the scarf for my scarf pal!

I've packed a few local chocolates and some KnitPicks Memories sock yarn in the colorway "Fly Fishing." My scarf pals enjoys fly fishing but hasn't fished in a while. I thought the yarn might bring her some good memories. Besides, the sock yarn fits the Socktoberfest theme that Lolly started. I hope my pal enjoys her scarf.

The Pattern: Midwest Moonlight from Scarf Style
The Yarn: 3 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino in blue
Began: Sometime around the begining of October
Duration: roughly two weeks
Modifications: Instead of 25 repeats of the 16 row pattern, I only did 23 repeats
Notes: The scarf is much prettier after blocking, much, much prettier. It seems to bloom after blocking. While knitting, it was just okay looking, but wow! I loved it after blocking.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


To distract you from the recent lack of posts, here are babies wearing knitted hats.
The California twins in their tangerine/pumpkin/UT orange hats.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Halloween is coming

and we made cookies!

I love Halloween. To me, Halloween is special because it has a history connected to Ireland (see How the Irish Saved Civilization which is an excellent book), and it begins the fall and winter holiday season. After the ghoulish holiday, Thanksgiving follows roughly 4 weeks later, and after Thanksgiving is Christmas. All you knitter's who have pledge knitted displays of love this season are probably in the midst of picking patterns and yarn for Christmas gifts. Even though it's only the middle of October, Christmas isn't too far off.

I also love Halloween because it is a night of dress up. As a kid, I never really played dress up. I was too busy climbing trees. Then, I discovered the theatre in college. The technical director was this very cute freshman guy of Italian decent who asked if I was going to go to the first theatre meeting. Of course I said sure despite the fact that I was an introvert, extremely shy, and had never really acted before. It was worth all the agony. Ever since, I have loved being in costume and playing dress up. Italian and I look forward to our friends' annual Halloween party and picking very inappropriate couple costumes. Plus, Halloween means fall weather, pumpkin patches, hay rides, and fall knitting.

I'm dutifully working on the scarf for my scarf pal. It's coming along and growing quickly. I'm keeping my eyes out for little treats to send her way, as well. In honor of Socktoberfest, I think I'll add a couple of balls of sock yarn. I know that this past week was supposed to be reviews, and I do have two Nancy Bush books to review as well as a pattern and yarn. I'll post a review a little later, once things slow a bit. Until then, have a happy Halloween season.

Monday, October 09, 2006


Spinning is not for the fiber weak. I've given up quite a bit of knitting time the last week. Instead of knitting, I've been spinning. My yarn looks more and more like real yarn and the sound of the wheel and the movement of my hands and feet are extremely soothing. I'm still a bit critical of the yarn I'm producing, but it doesn't stop me. Italian thinks I should try knitting up my yarn before I pass judgement. I think he is right.

Of course, life in general has been keeping me away from my needles as well. Last week, we went to the corn maze to give it a go. After about an hour, we were only half way through the maze. The maze was huge! It is in the shape of this famous painting. The ticket stub had a very small sketch of the maze that we tried to use as a map. I think we will try to solve the maze again.

We did see this:
A large field of cotton. I can spin that, ya know.

As the week progressed, we prepared for the twins arriving from California for a Baptism.

The weekend was spent with family, playing with the twins, soccer games, and Little Clover's school open house. We saw the artwork he made, the poem and short stories he wrote, and the human body he glued together. His class even made little pop-up books. He was very proud of all the things he had accomplished, and showed off his school as he lead us around. I must say, he does very good well.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Socktoberfest Questionairre

Readers of Lolly's blog are aware of Socktoberfest 2006. As a good little sock knitter, I've joined. If you can remember from a previous posts, I love socks, and this knit-along is perfect! Afterall, I usually always have socks on my needles. Yesterday, she posted about her first sock and asked readers to do the same. Since Socktoberfest is a celebration of handcrafted socks, talking about socks seems rather fitting. Lolly put together a few questions and asked people to talk about their sock knitting history.

When did you start making socks? Did you teach yourself or were you taught by a friend or relative? or in a class?
What was your first pair? How have they "held up" over time?
My first socks are kinda blurred in together with my second pair of socks. The first pair of socks I ever knitted, I gave them to my dad. They were his Christmas present last year. I had been knitting for about a year, and had made a baby sweater, a tanktop, and a cable purse (that was really a swatch). I was intrigued by the idea of sock knitting and my dad is particular about his socks. He only wears SmartWool socks because they are the most comfortable. I wanted to be able to recreate these socks for him as one of his gifts. I signed up for a sock knitting class because the idea of making socks terrified me. All those teeny tiny needles and lots of stitches going around and around was frightening. I went to the class, bought some fun blue wool and tiny needles and waited for instruction. The class was not the most organized, but it tackled my fears. After an hour, I felt very comfortable and even left the class early. I picked out some wool for my dad, and casted on. I have no idea how they fit or if they even did fit. They did bring a smile to his face when he opened the gift.

The second pair of socks were for me. I followed the pattern for the Yarn Harlot's Tip Toe socks. I was hooked. Unfortunately, the socks didn't fit. he gauge was correct, the size just didn't fit my foot. I was able to find a suitable match for the socks though and they now live happily with my stepmom. As far as I know, both pairs of socks are still functioning today.

What would you have done differently?
Well, for my dad's socks, I wouldn't have done anything differently. For the Tip Toe Socks, I would have made them to the measurements of my foot instead of just following a pattern. At that time, my knowledge of sock knitting was pretty low. I didn't read up on them before knitting them. I would have also gotten a reference book, and I would have done a generic sock pattern first, one that is customizable, like Wendy's Sock pattern.

What yarns have you particularly enjoyed?
I love working with Trekking XXL. I love watching the stripes appear and the socks are comfy to wear and knit. I have some Regia Silk in my stash that I haven't used yet, but it feels like it could definitely be a future favorite.

Do you like to crochet your socks? or knit them on DPNs, 2 circulars, or using the Magic Loop method?
I knit my socks using 5 DPNs. I knit a teddy bear using two circulars, and it was okay, but the DPNs seem to suit me more.

Which kind of heel do you prefer? (flap? or short-row?)
I prefer wearing and knitting a heel flap. Ilove the way the flap looks and it seems to be the mark of handcrafted socks. I love knitting toe-up though and am still working through the math of the heel flap for toe-ups. I have seen toe-up with flap patterns, but I haven't seen a formula for toe-up heel flap socks. I don't want to rely on a sockulator either.

How many pairs have you made?
I have only made four pairs. Pair number five is only needles right now. They are a pair from Italian. I'm using Schaefer Anne in this purple color. I've frogged them once because they were too small and the gauge didn't match my guesstamation for the formula I was using.

I'm also planning on knitting pair six this Socktoberfest and creating a formula for toe-up heel flap socks.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


There is quite an uproar in the knitting community that could definitely dispell any images if grandmotherly knitters in rocking chairs.

Quite a few knitters are in arms over a keystone pricing scandall that has raised the outraged cry of "Price fixing." Sarah's Yarn was notified in early September that Tilli Tomas Yarns received notification from other retailers about her low prices. They stated that unless she adhered to the keystone pricing, they would no longer due business with her. Mind you, she paid the same wholesale price as all the other retailers and she decided to resell it at a price that met her profitability needs. Tilli Tomas was asking her to raise her price, to the same price as all the other retailers. I must admit, but those acts sound like price fixing to me and to several other knitters. These practices go against a free market and seem to go against the Price Fixing Primer I read on the US Department of Justice website.

Knitters, being the close-knit (yes, I meant that pun) type that we are, decided to tell other knitters and to keep telling other knitters. The word about Tilli Tomas's action began to spread from podcasts, to online knitting groups, to blogs. Two new blogs have popped up to help educate consumers on which yarn manufactures artificially keep their prices high by demanding keystone pricing and which yarn companies allow resellers to decide on a fair price. You can find them here and here. And people think knitters are calm. Remember, we have pointy sticks with us at all times and think about how uptight we might be if we didn't have knitting to keep us calm.

Sarah's Yarn has been working with Tilli Tomas who has recently responded to her that they will drop their keystone pricing policy, but they haven't responded to her request for more yarn either. Hmmm, I'm not sure how well that sits with me. Here's my take. I have a few balls of Tilli Tomas yarn coming to my local yarn store for me to pick up. I will still buy them because my LYS owner has already paid form them. I'm not going to leave her holding on to them. To me, that is not the right thing to do. Tilli Tomas has their money, I'm not going to stiff my LYS, which brings me to this aspect of conscientious consumerism.

The internet is a fantastic resource for finding deals and cheaper prices and I use it. I also shop at my LYS on a regular basis because I want to see it stick around. Spending a little bit more at her store is worth it to me because of the services I receive and because I love having an LYS close by. What certain yarn manufacturers is doing is not in the best interest of the consumers, their end customers. Nor is it fair to the LYS, no matter what they say. Discount prices online is not the downfall of LYS, instead, it should be a gateway to the local store. Nor do discount prices cheapen the quality of the yarn, which is an argument some have used. Only the yarn manufacture can control the quality of their yarns. There is a place for online retailers and LYS in the knitting community. Keeping prices artificially high does not help things at all.

If you are opposed to keystone policies, then check out the hyperlinks above. If you aren't, then continue knitting and buying as you do now. It is your decision, that is the beauty of a free markt.

Who would have thunk that I would ever use the word "brouhaha" in a knitting blog. What a great word.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Conscientious Consumer

I work for a large global company. My office campus has a cafeteria which is outsourced to a national catering/food services company. The food services company has designated Tuesday October 3 as "Eat Locally Day." The chef has defined "eating locally" as purchasing food grown/made within a 150 mile radius. He buys all of the food he uses for the cafeteria within a 150 mile radius, every week. I was amazed, not only that everything he serves us is grown locally, but at the variety of food that he provides us. Even the beef is local and it is certified Angus beef. The rancher knows his cattle from birth to slaughter and has a booth at the area Farmer's Market (the one downtown). I knew that we had access to quite a bit of fresh food, but the extent of local food really is astounding. I now really have no excuse for not supporting local farmers. Try, if you can, to eat locally tomorrow.

Eating (and cooking) locally, along with spinning and knitting, has a strong conscientious consumerism vibe. To often, I find myself just consuming things without any regard to what I am consuming, and I don't just mean food. Everything I purchase is a comsumption of some sort. Energy, both human and other, were exerted to make what I am buying. Resources where consumed in the production, transportion, and display of my purchases. Plus, once it gets to my house, it is going to consume space. My purchase is also a vote of support for the production method or for the item or for the practices of the company. All too often, I don't take the time to make a conscientious decision about what I am buying. I just spend my money. For today and tomorrow, I will work hard at thinking through my purchases and will try not to consume anything I don't need. (I need yarn, so I'll consume as much of that as I can. If you don't believe me, you can ask Italian. He'll willing admit that I need yarn to stay calm.)

So, how does spinning and knitting fall into conscientious consumerism? I have found that quite a few knitters out there support local yarn shops or small yarn producers. These knitters want to know the source of their yarn. Some spinners work out an arrangement with sheep herders and recieve their fleece from one particular sheep. I'm not naive enough to think that in this global economy, I will be aware of the full lifespan of everything I buy. It isn't really practical, and it may not be the best, but I can at least work harder at being a better consumer.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The Sweater

This is a sweater
Belonging to a boy,
And the boy is a genuine hunk of burning love
And it is not just some hand-me-down from a father or a brother.
-Maryn Cadel
The Sweater

The sweater is finally finished. I still have to block it, but the knitting is done. I finished it just in time for the 90 degree weather we are having this week. My timing is amazing. Italian loves it though and so do his parents. The Godfather (Italian's dad) was especially amazed. I have to admit, I'm pretty proud of the sweater. It doesn't look homemade at all.

As promised, here is a picture of the Pea Pod sweater. I will be shipped out this week, as soon as I add the buttons.

Now that the anniversary sweater is an FO, and the Pea Pod is complete, I can focus on the International Scarf Exchange. My Scarf Pal likes blue, so I picked out this yarn:

I hope she enjoys the scarf when it reaches her.

Other than working on Italian's sweater, I didn't really do much except make some yarn.

My first ball of handspun, so slubby it's cute.

Anniversary Sweater
Pattern: River Forest Gansey from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk
Started: February 2006
Modifications: None. If I were to make this sweater again, I would not use the Alpaca silk. It is heavy and will stretch with wear. I'd pick a yarn that is more wool.

Pea Pod
Pattern: Pea Pod from Interweave Knits
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in green
Started: September 15, 2006
Modifications: None.

Friday, September 29, 2006

One Sleeve

One sleeve and a little collar are all that stand between me and a finished anniversary sweater. Just one sleeve. I've completed row 88 of the final sleeve. I have roughly 50 rows left, and I am itching to get it done. The weather is cooling and it's becoming sweater weather down here, the perfect time to wear this type of sweater. Plus, after Italian saw how quickly the Pea Pod sweater came together, he made the comment, "Boy, you sure can finish a sweater when you want to." Nevermind that the sweater is for a very little person, and he is not a very little person. Just one sleeve, and 50 rows. One sleeve.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wrong Way

We took a short trip to Ohio this weekend to observe a college student in his natural habitat. Xavier Boy proved to be a good host, offering pizza and beer to us upon our arrival. We then spent the next couple of days staying up late, watching a college hockey game, touring the campus, and seeing the city.

Xavier's hockey team played valiantly, but still ended up losing the game. Xavier Boy took 48 shots on goals and managed to block over 75% of the shots. He even won favorable comments from the referees and the heckler from the opposing team. A large number of students attended the game, treating us to cheers and songs. My favorite cheer came in the third period when it was very evident they would lose. The students began to yell ''that's all right, that's ok, you're gonna work for us one day." Ah ,the battle cry of acedemics. Little Clover kept the hope alive by stating, "Only 9 more goals and we will tie the game!" I hope always keeps that level of hope and optimism.

The campus was beautiful and of course, I forget my camera. Check out the Virtual Tour.

We were sad to say good-bye, but work and school were waiting at home. We loaded the car and began to drive. And drive. And drive. After two hours, we realized that we missed an exit some where. A call to Xavier Boy brought us the realization that we missed it over 50 miles ago.

My friends who are reading this are not laughing. I am notorious for getting lost and I'm proud to live up to my reputation once again. We ended up pulling into a visiting center where we meeting a very nice lady who showed us the way - via a map. Maps are a very good thing.

The missed exit only cost us 30 minutes (even though we were driving towards the opposite side of the state). The detour took us through Lexington which proved to be beautiful. We passed by horse farms and distilleries, and even a Shaker Village. I think a visit to Lexington is in our future.

I did get to work on the Pea Pod sweater which is currently being blocked. A picture is coming.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


It's a quiet evening at Clover Fields, well, as quiet as a house can be with two boys, one grown and one little. It's a night without any commitments, no late night work, no soccer practice, no book club, no errands, no scouting, not even homework. It's a night of rest and silly dancing. We've had the computer up at full blast listening to the latest Weird Al songs followed by a sweet rendition by the Muppet Weirdo, Gonzo. Little Clover loves to dance and he's been dancing with me since birth. We are resting tonight and the rest is long overdue. The cool night air breezes in and mingles with the music from the speakers and the laughter from our hearts. Soon, Little Clover will be in bed. Italian and I will sip our wine as we smile, rejuvenated by the rest.

A plate Little Clover made