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.

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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.