Thursday, August 31, 2006

Following the herd

I seem to be following the herd of other knitters out there and just didn't realize it. It's rather easy to get lost in a herd. All the other sheep look pretty much like you with their knitting bags and knitting blogs. Then, without warning, everyone ends up in a similar place. That has been my experience the last few weeks. I'm just glad to be in such great company.

The Yarn Harlot is having gansey issues and I'm just now rebounding from mine. In less than a week, the 68 rows I savagely ripped out are back and growing. They look good and hopefully, I'll be able to continue relatively error free. I'm anxious to see the sweater completed. The large swatches of knitted fabric are beginning to take shape and even look like a sweater. Plus, they look like a sweater that will fit Italian. Thankfully, alpaca has enough weight that it pulls down and expands with gravity. I kinda planned for that, but was greatful to see that my planning is working out, which is not something I'm accustomed to.

Secondly, I'm in the midst of organizing like several other knitters (Ann, Dee, Aunt Purl, Olumpia Blue to name a few). When we returned from our vacation, I was frustrated with the state of the house and began decluttering. I cleaned out the office closet, my scrapbooking area on my desk, the office itself, the spare room, and Little Clover's room. I can now stand in every single one of these spaces and make carpet angels. Yay! I can even stand in Little Clover's closet. After organizing his room, he started coming out of it exclaiming, "Wow! I didn't know I had this!" It's like Christmas for me with all the toys and books and puzzles that he's rediscovering.

A couple of people have asked me what my Me Bag would be. I think it would be my Zelda Tote because it looks vintage and it reminds me of how great "vintage" things can be if one takes the time to give it new life. Plus, it has that little bit of zing that makes it stand out but doesn't scream for attention.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Me Bag

For school, Little Clover had to bring a "Me Bag." The Me Bag was to contain five things that represented parts of him and could be placed in any type of bag decorated in any way he wanted. We talked about his Me Bag and was a bit perplexed as to what he should bring to school. I asked him what he wanted his friends to know about him and he calmly told me that they already know everything about him. Afterall, he has been going to school with these kids for years now, practically his entire life. I tried to help him out by giving examples of what five things I would put in my own Me Bag and they kid had a point. After easily name three things, coming up with items 4 and 5 were much harder than I expect. What facts about me would I end up eliminating? What facts were important enough for a "new friend" to know? What did the five things say about me without saying anything?

It took us two days, but we did come up with a Me Bag for Little Clover. He picked a sports theme gift bag to hold his objects, and I got some insight on what he values. He packed a polar bear to represent his recent trip to Alaska. He's a globe trotter and probably will be his entire life. In his short life, he's seen more than some adults. He packed a baseball because he loves sports, and baseball is his favorite. He also brought a fish so that he could tell his friends about how much he loves to go fishing. He thought about bringing the Wolly Bugger fly he tied but quickly decided against it for two reasons. One, it had a hook and the hook is sharp and could hurt someone. Secondly, it has the word "bugger" and that's not a nice word to say at school. I love his reasoning.

Little Clover also packed a picture of our dog Spot who has been a great companion to the entire family. He also makes a fantastic outfielder when we play baseball in the yard. Finally, Little Clover packed his snow leopard because he loves animals. Snow has been with us for almost five years now. Snow was lost in Dulles International Airport for a frantic three days last year. Snow still keeps Little Clover company at night, which shows that even though he is growing up, he is still a little boy.

As for my Me Bag, I'd pack a picture of our little family (with Spot), my knitting (which is almost always with me), a Wolly Bugger, a kitchen utensil, and a four leaf clover. What would be in your Me Bag?

Monday, August 28, 2006


I was going to totally butcher the Beatles lyrics, but decided against that. Today is my birthday, and the only thing that really bothers me is that I'm not bothered by the fact I'm turning 30. Maybe it will hit later, but I'm happy where I am. So, happy birthday to everyone else who shares this day with me.

In the picture from yesterday, I am wearing a crocheted headband that my Mom made for me. I remember wearing it for days in a row! Maybe that was the start of my love affair with yarn.

Sunday, August 27, 2006


This is the last day of my twenties. Tomorrow I enter a new decade and continue on this amazing journey. When I began my 20s, I had grand ideas of what 30 would look like. I dreamt of having a PhD in English Literature after writing a dissertation on Children's Literature. I'd be teaching in some college and living a artsy bohemian lifestyle. Of course I would be published by the time I was 30, and probably working on my third novel by then. I knew I'd be with Italian who would be the Theatre Director and professor at the same college. The issue of children was hazy. I was non-committal on that topic. My oh my, how time has a funny way of changing things.

I never got a PhD. I didn't even get a Master's Degree. I left Tennessee for a bit, but quickly missed it and came back home. I tried teaching English (at the high school level) and hated it. Instead, I work in the IT industry, which still shocks my friends. Italian and I did make our way down the aisle and Little Clover entered our lives - and taught us what life and love are all about. I have a dog instead of a cat due to my allergies. I used to hate cooking, always dating guys who could cook for me. Now, I cook to relax and destress. I've never been published, but Little Clover loves hearing my made up stories and he truly is the best critic.

Looking back on my 20s, I realized that my dreams didn't come true at all. Instead, my life became better than I could possible have imagined.

Friday, August 25, 2006


I think I jinxed myself by telling people my new deadline for Italian's sweater. I thought it would be safe to tell people about the progress I was making and how confident I felt about finishing the sweater in mid-September. I even believed I was giving myself an ample buffer, just in case something went wrong. Well something went wrong twice! The sweater pattern consist of a four row repeat for a little over 100 rows. Last night while at book club, I noticed I had botched the last four row repeat. Then, I noticed I had botched the four row repeat again about 20 rows back. I was very upset with my knitting and took revenge! I frogged the entire sleeve. "Ha ha!" I thought as I ripped back 68 rows. After I smuggly wound up my ball, I realized that I didn't really take revenge on my knitting. Rather, I think my knitting got the best of me.

In Little Clover news, his mouth is healing just fine. The extra tooth the doctor extracted is huge! His friends are mighty impressed that he had surgery. Finally, we met his teacher and I think it is going to be a good year.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Wie sacht man...?

I work for a large international company with locations in several different countries. Most of the international employees can speak multiple languages with English being one of them. I also have some bilingual cube neighbors near-by who occasionally grace the office space with conversations in other languages. I, like most Americans, can only speak one language. Sadly, and this is the really sad part, I can only speak the second language I learned. Yep, English is a second language for me. My first language was Korean, and I spoke it for the first five years of my life. Now, I can only say a few phrases.

The tragedy of this was illustrated to me when we were in Vancouver and went to a Korean restaurant. We walked in, I said "Hello" in Korean, and the hostess began to continue talking to me in Korean (because I look the part) and I had no idea what she said. I think the blank look on my face gave me away because she started speaking English after a brief pause. That's when I realized just how sad my inabiliy to communicate in my native tongue really is. I never appreciated it growing up and I never asked my mom to speak to me in Korean. Now that I don't have her anymore, I can't rely on her to teach me or Little Clover. It's my responsibility and I owe it to my mom and to Little Clover. My days of being a monolinguist will come to an end! Especially since I've now kinda proclaimed. I better start learning. Wie sacht man "To the language lab" auf Korean?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Weekends are for finishing

I just saw a commercial this week that hit a chord with me. In the commercial, housework and children tending were being accomplished by some sort of invicible force. Then a voice over pops up and asks, "As a Mom, do you ever feel invicible?" I couldn't figure out how this group of marketers had seen into my life! I spent the entire weekend cleaning and organizing the house. I began by weeding the patio Friday. Then on Saturday, I tidied our bedroom and tackled the office. I decluttered the office closet, my desk and drawing table, and then the office supplies. I put away the books that were laying all over the floor and cleaned up the large amounts of Little Clover toys which had flooded their way into the room. Trust me, this was no small feat. As I walked out of the office and down the hall, feeling smug with myself, Little Clover walked into the newly organized and cleaned room. I heard him saw with a little amazement, "Wow! This office looks great!" Then my smile crashed as he continued, "You did a great job, Dad!" Italian replied with a beaming, "Thanks!" Thankfully, there was a wall close by for me to bang my head.

Being slightly invisible did give me a chance to finish a few things this weekend. I finished the front of Italian's anniversary sweater. The back had taken over three months to complete. I was able to knock out the front after only a month of knitting, and that includes the 10 days I was gone on vacation, leaving the gansey at home. At this pace, Italian may get to wear the sweater this winter.

I also finished the Jaywalkers! The socks fit perfectly and remind me of how much I love heel flaps. The yarn is Trekking XXL in colorway 105. They are fraternal socks, but I like them that way. I didn't know if my particular-ness would demand identical socks, but when I began knitting with this yarn, it begged for me to allow it to flow naturally. I'm glad I listened.

The last thing we finished this weekend was summer vacation. Little Clover started school today (and I didn't cry - yet). I think I'm beginning to get accustomed to this school thing. Who knows, by the time he starts middle school, I may be able to make it the entire year without crying over the fact that he continues to grow up despite my protesting.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Everyone told us he would rebound, but Italian and I did not really believe it. Afterall, Little Clover is little and this would be an extraction of not one, but three teeth. We arrived for the surgery and the dental assistants began giving Little Clover the anethesia. He began to relax and we walked him to the back were they had a movie waiting for him. The sugery went smoothly even though the offendig tooth was much larger than they expected. Little Clover was a chatterbox and the staff told us all about how wonderfully he did and what a sweetheart his is. We couldn't agree more. He rested a bit when we got home, but he was ready to be up and playing before long. He also informed me that he didn't want to be home but that he wanted to go out. Honestly, if I had just had oral sugery, I don't think I woud want to go anywhere. He sure does look cute without his two front teeth! Plus, the lisp is adorable!

Before we left for our vacation, I asked fellow knitters what yarn I should hunt down. Almost everyone responded with "Quiviut!" I had heard that the yarn made from musk ox was not only warm and rare, but extremely soft. While in Anchorage, I visited the coop and they only had hat kits with Quivit. I was wanting laceweight yarn, so I left the store empty handed. Italian's parents, found a yarn shop in one of the ports and they had a much wider selection of quiviut, and fortunately for me, they brought back one ball.

Oh, the rumors of its softness proved to be correct!

Monday, August 14, 2006


If there is any type of fall-out from our trip to Alaska, it may be Italian's introduction to wool. He didn't grow up wearing wool, and living in the South, he doesn't have a need for wool. He rarely wears a jacket and isn't a hat/glove/scarf type of guy, so putting on wool was kinda new to him.

When packing for the trip, he did pack most of the wool he owns: two wool sweaters and three pairs of store-bought hiking socks. The other wool sweater stayed home, being a bit too dressy for the outdoorsy activities which waited for us. Suggesting the wool articles was a huge mistake on my part. I should have intervened. I should have swapped out his clothes. I should have bought him cotton sweaters.

Italian began making a few comments here and there. He'd drop a casual, "Boy, I really liked wearing wool," and a "Gee, I didn't realize how nice and warm wool stuff is." Then, the comments became more sinister. He began saying things like "You, know, if you want to knit me anything in wool, I wouldn't mind," and "I would really enjoying having more wool clothes." Finally, the worst comment came yesterday. I innocently pulled out my Jaywalker sock when the attack occurred.
Italian eyed my sock. Me glared at me with furrowed brow. Then came the blow. "You already have a pair of handknit socks. I haven't gotten anything knitted from you."

I've got to finish the anniversary sweater.

The front of the River Forest Gansey. With any luck, I'll start the sleeves by the weekend.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A whale of a tale

After encountering a moose, we sailed on to Juneau and our fly fishing guide. We hopped onto a very small float plane and I got to sit in the cockpit with our awesome pilot. We were flown to a remote location and the plane flew off leaving use with our guide. Our guide treks us across a field of mussels to a rocky shore where the ocean met a small river. He then proceeds to give us the "bear talk" as he loads his shotgun with 12 rounds. 12! We were to let him know if we saw a bear so he could shoot it if it charged. I think I grew a little pale. We have have snakes in the Ozarks, but we don't have bears. He also points out the 10 gallon bucket and calmly tells us that if anything happens to him, we were to open the bucket. The bucket contained enough food for 24 hours, a blanket, emergency flairs, and a radio. Fortunately, the fishing was amazing and helped us forget about the bears.

We caught a fish with almost every cast! We were fishing for pink salmon which is considered small and inedible by Alaskans. They averaged about 9 pounds per fish and in order to land them, we had to play the fish for almost 15 minutes to tire them out. Once they were tired, we could reel them in without too much of a fight. All the fishing was catch and release so no fish were harmed in the making of this blog. Even Little Clover got into it, posing with a few fish from his rod. I think we also impressed our guide by fishing in the rain. The rain did not bother us in the slightest. We were in the rainforest after all.

Being wet in 55 F weather did provide the guide and I chance to talk about wool. He brought it up and talked at length about how great it is. I think there is a knitter in him deep down.

After making it back to the boat from an awesome fly fishing trip, we set sail to Icy Strait Point to go whale watching.

That's one of the many humpback whales saying "hello." We were surrounded by a few pods of humpbacks and they were just as curious about us as we were about them. They played by the boat, breaching and spy peaking in addition to waving their tails and fins. They are amazing mammals.

The next day, we landed in Ketchikan and I decided that when I move to Alaska, I will live in Ketchikan. It is a beautiful town. We saw the Lincoln and Seward totem poles. We went crabbing and Little Clover held a sunflower star.

It was attached to the crab pot and he asked to hold it. When the guide put it in his hands, he just beamed. He is a naturalist at heart.

We ate wonderful food, we saw amazing things, and we had an incredible time. We finally landed in Vancouver where we stayed at a beautiful hotel. The city was quite lovely and the beer was very, very good. Plus, the hotel had the cutest house phone ever.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Outside the lower 48

We set sail from Seward, Alaska, a small town of roughly 800 people. The town had one main street and a huge marina filled to capacity with boats of many sizes and from many locations. In addition to the people and the tourist, Seward had eagles. We quickly learned to look for golf balls in the distant trees. The golf balls were the white capped heads of the eagles perching in the trees. One actually fly over us and the size of the bird and the speed with which he flew was astounding.

In Seward, we found that most cars had a plug coming out of the hood or front grate. The hood was for plugging in the engine block heater that keeps the engine from freezing in the winter. We don't have those down south. Evidently, Alaskans will plug the car in for a while before starting the car.

We boarded the boat and set sail after dinner. We cruised through the night and reached the Hubbard Glacier in the early afternoon the next day. We bundled up in our jackets and hats and stood on the balcony as we approached. The air grew colder and colder and the water became bluer as large chunks of glacier ice floated, almost motionless, around us.

The glacier slowly appeared up a head, a great wall of blue and white with green on either side. Then we heard it. It creaked and moaned as we watched pieces of it cascade into the ocean. The sock was thrilled.

We huddled together on the balcony watching the majestic slow moving wall of ice before us. The ship turned so the other side of the ship could have a view. We run upstairs to the top deck to drink hot chocolate in the slowly falling snow.

Snow! In July! We were very happy.

The next day, we docked in Skagway, another small town. We caught a boat to Haines which was a bit smaller and more remote. Haines is the home to the largest Eagle Preserve in North America. Needless to say, we saw a lot of eagles. We even saw an active eagle nest, with an eaglet being fed by its mama! The eagles were grand, but the highlight of the visit, at least for me, was:

a moose!!!!!!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

What I did for summer vacation

For our summer vacation, the Clover family traveled across two countries to Alaska. To begin the trip, we dug out our winter clothes and with the weather a scorching 99 F outside, we packed. We loaded all of our many bags onto a plane and flew across the country to Minnesota. Little Clover enjoyed the snacks and I worked on the Jaywalker sock. Somewhere between Minneapolis and Anchorage on the six hour flight, I wove in the ends.

Just in time to look out the window and see ice covered mountains and glacier-blue ice.

Little Clover swears he saw polar bear tracks. The three of us kept our noses pressed to the cold and teeny tiny window as we watched the most amazing scenery pass beneath our plane. I fell in love. The mountains where huge, much larger than the Smokeys, the Colorado Rockies, and the Ozarks. As we watched the glaciers and the snow caps pass, we were greated by the largest mountain towering out above the clouds - Mt. McKinley (aka Mt. Denali).

We touched down in Anchorage and as we stepped off the plane, were greated by a 12 foot stuffed Grizzly bear and this:

The oohs and ahhs from the non-Anchorage passengers brought smiles to the people returning home. We found out that Alaskans are truly some of the friendliest people ever and love to talk to you. I think that's why ordering the pizza over the phone took me about 15 minutes. I found out quite a bit about Doug who answered the phone right away. Doug and I continued our friendly chat when he delivered the pizza that night around 10:00 pm in broad daylight. The sun set sometime after we went to bed at 11:45 (and was shining brightly when we woke up at 5:00 am to catch the train).

This was also my first time to ever ride a train. I've been on the mass transit rail systems of Atlanta and Chicago many a time, but this was a genuine train, with a dining car. Traveling by train was fantastic! You get to breathe in the scenery and Alaska has plenty of scenery to offer. I didn't get a lick of sleeping or knitting done because I was just way to busy staring out the window. About halfway through the four hour trip to Seward, the conductor opened the windows between the cars. We moved to the open air sections and snapped plenty of pictures and inhaled the cool Alaskan air. We saw more glaciers, mountain goats, waterfalls, ocean inlets, and tons of mountains. We finally made it to Seward in complete awe of the State. Our traveling was over and our vacation was about to begin.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Back and tired

We are back from our vacation and the pictures have been transferred from the camera to the computer. I'm way too tired to post about the trip, but I did want to leave a small preview of future posts.

Our view from the plane.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Now, spit!

The River Forest Gansey, aka the anniversary sweater, only has a few ends to weave: the beginning end, the bind off end, and the beginning and ending ends of the neck opening. This is not because I have used one ball of yarn for each piece. On the contrary, I have used over four balls each for the front and the back of the sweater. That should come out eight ends to weave. How did I manage to reduce the number of ends? I spat. Okay, I didn't really spit because I just couldn't bring myself to spit in my hand. I also didn't suck on the yarn because I didn't want to walk around with a wooly mouth. Instead, I used a "modified" spit splice technique relying on some water and friction to join my natural animal fiber yarn to eliminate ends. Thanks to Lynsey for showing me how to do this one night at our SnB.

To begin, take the yarn from the old ball and one end of the new ball:

Fray the ends a bit:

Wet your hands slightly. The glare on my hands is the water. I use a drop or two of water (see first paragraph on spit):

Apply some friction by rubbing your hands together:

Continue rubbing the yarn until the two ends are felted together:

This will only work on feltable yarns, such as wool, alpaca, wool blends, etc. It will not work on superwash wool, plant based fibers (e.g. cotton), or synthetic fibers. The yarn I am using is Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk which is an alpaca and silk blend. Enjoy!