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.