Saturday, December 29, 2007

Just from the stash

The lack of blogging is yet again due to my shockingly busy work life. I was called out to Minneapolis for a last minute three day working session the week before Christmas. Fortunately, Minneapolis was experiencing unseasonably warm weather and stayed in the high 20s (F). Considering I was leaving 50 degree weather, it was still cold. At least I got to see snow. Then once I got home, we began the mad rush which is also know as the Christmas season.

Italian and Little Clover baked the best sugar cookies ever.
The secret is to add a little bit of cinnamon to the batter. The cookies were for Santa and made with an extra dash of childhood belief to compliment the cinnamon.

While the boys were busy making cookies, I baked one of my prettiest apple pies. The pie even received compliments on its taste.

We then cooked a couple of other dishes for Christmas dinner, finished some Christmas shopping, and the wrapping of gifts. Yep, we still had to finish the Christmas shopping. At least the Christmas knitting was done in November.

While we were at the store buying last minute gifts and ingredients, I found an entertainment center at a very reasonable price. I introduced Italian to this lovely piece of furniture and we proceeded to have a "discussion." Italian, being a woodworker, has lovingly offered to build all the furniture we need. He has a slight aversion to actually spending the money to buy the wood. So, I offered (brace yourself) to only knit from my stash for a year, this is how badly I want an entertainment center. Italian turned me down. He knew something I didn't. He knew for Christmas, in addition to the sweater's worth of Noro I received from my parents, I would be getting two more sweaters worth of yarn, five skeins of sock yarn, a Sheep to Sock kit, and three pounds of fibre for spinning. I have added an extra bin to my stash pile.

He doesn't think knitting from my stash would be much of a sacrifice. I think he's right. Plus, he asked how my LYS owner would survive if I didn't shop for a year. I can't be responsible for causing other people stress. After seeing the new additions to the stash, Italian asked if I got too much yarn for Christmas. I assured him there is no such thing as too much yarn.

After Christmas, I did get some more spinning done, and I made a bit of progress on Italian's sweater.

We even got took a little trip to the zoo and saw a reindeer.

So far, the Christmas season has been filled with a little bit of rushing, a lot of fun, a dash of belief and magic, and wrapped up in rest. I'm looking forward to greeting the new year with a rejuvenated spirit (a lots of fun new yarn).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wool hats and 70F

While the temperature outside was climbing above 70F (21C), I was inside finishing a wool hat. Finishing the wool hat is a good thing though because it is suppose to be 35F (2C) tonight.

The hat is a pattern of my own. I casted on 96 stitches and did a knit 2, purl 2 rib for about an inch, then changed to a 6 stitch cable with two stitches of purl between each cable set. The yarn is really the focus of the hat for me. The yarn is a corridale wool I spun. It is the first thing I spun outside of my spinning lessons and I thought the end result was okay, but by no means great. Italian thought the hat was okay and gave it little notice until I casually mentioned I spun the yarn. Then, he became excited about it.

The hat definitely has a homey slubbiness to it which I think is common for most first time spinners. If you look closely, you can see where the yarn is overspun and underspun and too thin and too thick. It will still keep my head warm and I think I love the hat.

Speaking of hats, I had a moment of pride this week. While in St. Louis, I taught Teelee how to knit. I followed the guidelines of the Yarn Harlot who recommends starting off new knitters with a hat instead of a scarf. A hat will provide faster gratification than a scarf, and I agree this is a very good strategy for increasing our numbers. For teaching her how to knit, Teelee in return, sent me a picture of her first FO. I'm so proud!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Is this thing on

Nana Clover comment this weekend that she can tell when I have a busy week because I don't blog. As you may have noticed, I didn't blog last week. Instead, I tidied up the house, preparing it for the mess which is holiday decorating, we had an awesome dinner with a couple of friends, I shopped for presents, we attended a couple of Christmas parties, we saw the play "White Christmas," and we celebrated Christmas with Nana Clover, Papa Clover, and my nephew. Notice knitting was not included.

Yep, we celebrated Christmas. This meant that although Christmas is still 15 days away, my knitting deadline was this past Friday for at least one gift. I think Nana Clover was happy with this years gift of wool. I also have a sneaking suspicion from one of her comments that she did not heed the warnings on my blog to not scroll down and look at the knitting. I know for a fact that Mrs. Soprano didn't heed the warning either, but I think she'll still be a little bit surprised.

Having an early deadline also means I have an earlier reward. Yay! I've been eyeing a Noro sweater at my LYS and my parents gave me the yarn for my gift. I can't wait to cast it on, after I complete the Anniversary Sweater Part 2.

I know I said I didn't get to knit last week, but that isn't completely true. I did actually knit, but not enough to feel as if I knitted, and definitely not enough to satiate my need to knit. The Anniversary Sweater Part 2 is coming along and growing. I've finished the back and have begun knitting the front.

It is being knit in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino which is almost as soft as the Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk I used for the first Anniversary Sweater. The pattern is popping a lot more on this one. I picked a blue with a little bit more gray which makes the blue lighter. He does still have the first one and is more open to me frogging it when I pointed out the sweater has 10 inches of ease now (he lost a little weight) and is 5 inches shorter than it was when it was cast off. The Alpaca silk acts really weird when water hits it. I did promise him he would get another sweater from the alpaca yarn. Plus, I've hidden the sweater so he won't wear it out in public.

I've also cast on for a little winter hat. I'm hoping the temperature will dip below 75 degrees so I can actually wear it.

The yarn for the hat is just plain old corridale wool. It is the first yarn I spun outside of two spinning lessons. It should be a nice sturdy hat. I didn't set the yarn after I spun it, so I have no idea what is going to happen to the hat when I block it. Won't that be exciting?

With some luck, this week will give a little more time to blog and knit.
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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Why I love Donald Sobel

I discovered last week while traveling for Thanksgiving that I greatly underestimated the power of Encyclopedia Brown. We had a 3 hour drive ahead of us Wednesday evening, and being an experienced traveling mom, I grabbed the travel activity bag to ensure it was well stocked. In the bag, I keep some activity books, crayons, a pen, a pencil, a comic book, car appropriate games, a portable dvd player, a case of dvds, and snacks. Everything looked fine so I only added the Encyclopedia Brown Little Clover was currently reading. We hit the road Wednesday evening fueled with coffee and began our journey.

Once we hit the interstate, Little Clover turned on his light and asked if we would like to listen to him read. He then proceeded to read and finish the one book I packed that was intended to last the entire Thanksgiving holiday. So, what did we do? We pulled off the interstate for a detour and found a bookstore.

Once we refreshed his supply of books, we piled back into the car and continued on with the rest or our Thanksgiving tradition of food, bonfires, and paintball.

The food part with family is always a fun experience and this year was no exception. The food continues the day after with a bonfire in the woods of Tennessee, which is also when the paintballing begins. As odd as the whole thing sounds, we have a wonderful time. The teams are split between the older generation and the younger cousins. Before you feel sorry for the older group, I think you should know they include former and current military personnel. They can hold their own.

Before we headed back home, I got to see a memory be made. My dad and my son took out the canoe together and paddled across the lake. Little Clover was thrilled with being in a canoe and even more excited about paddling. I was thrilled with watching the two of them beaming with happiness.

As for the furnace saga, the furnace and I just could not come to terms. I wanted to keep the house, so the furnace left. We found a replacement and are enjoying the new relationship.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Dear Furnace,

Let me begin by expressing my deepest apologies for not giving you the attention you deserve. I am truly sorry for not spending more time with you before this weekend. When we left Wednesday without so much as a "See ya," you must have been crushed and I can understand how lonely you must have felt. I can also understand if you are jealous of the attention we have been giving the fireplace, but throwing a temper tantrum and refusing to work is no way to get my attention. Please believe me when I tell you that the fireplace is nothing more to me than a little flame. You are the one I really need each winter. I hope to have you back soon.

I miss you,
Irish Clover

Thank goodness for big men's sweaters to keep one's lap warm while the furnace misbehaves.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Reality Check

Cliches and phrases are a very common part of everyday speech, but not all cliches and phrases are equally relevant or true. I've heard one particular phrase quite a bit in the last few weeks and I would like to start a campaign to have this phrase banned, for good.

"Perception is reality."

I hate this sentence; I really, really do. I hate it with an amazing passion, and not because it is overused. I hate it because it is dismissive and defeatist and flat out wrong. I think knitters, more than anyone else, know just how inaccurate the statement is.

Think of all the knitters out there who have knit a gargantuan sock, one too large for Big Foot, who honestly perceived the sock as maybe big enough to fit their husbands' feet. They may have even been a bit concerned the sock would be too small. They happily knitted away as the sock grew to the size of Delaware and then casted off, only to be shocked when their dear hubbies slipped the sock over both feet... at the same time. These knitters believed the sock would fit. According to the statement above, their perception of the size of the sock should have been enough to make it a reality, but it didn't because the statement is wrong, people! Just because someone, or a group of someones, perceives something as true and real doesn't mean it is true or real.

Think back to the middle ages when all of Europe believed the world was flat. They looked around and said to each other, the world must be flat because it looks flat. Everyone then acted as if the world was flat because the flatness was part of his reality. People didn't wonder far from home or sail too far out into the ocean because they were worried they would fall off the earth. Then one voice stood up and looked around and decided he was going to question this "reality." He had daring to think beyond the small dismissive thinking of everyone else and to search for what was truly real.

Saying "Perception is reality" keeps people from pushing the envelope and making advances and finding new interest and finding the talents in others. Saying it is the same as throwing up one's hands and saying "Oh, well, that's what someone else thinks. It is right because he thinks it is right. I must now let it impact my reality, and there is nothing I can do to change."

Well, I'm not going to take that attitude. People may perceive me as the voice of doubt or a nonconformist, but really, I'm the voice that asks, "Are you sure you believe that? Why don't you look at that sock one more time. I know, how about trying it on as you knit! You may be surprised by what you find."

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Almost done

Fall arrived this year. For most people, fall is a given. It happens every year at the same time. This is not so for us in the Delta. Some years, the leaves on the trees turn a muddy brown and drop like burnt pieces of paper. This year, though, we are experience the full technicolor joy of fall. Little Clover and I have been watching the leaves change during our drive to school each morning. The leaves are reaching their peak and are starting to strewn the ground in reds, yellows, and oranges. With some luck, the changing leaves will bring cooler weather. I'm ready for sweaters and hats and gloves. I'm also ready to finish my Christmas knitting.

Holiday knitting below
Pattern: Fetching
Yarn: Rowan Cashsoft in dark blue, 2 balls
Changes: I made the cuff longer and the glove portion longer. I also added a seed stitch border at the top and bottom. The top border flares a bit, so I would recommend knitting it on one size smaller needles.
Notes: The Cashsoft is perfect for this pattern. The knit fabric is dense and warm.

My original goal was to finish the holiday knitting by the end of October. Then I realized I didn't need the additional stress in my life, so I'm finishing the Christmas knitting in the middle of November instead. I'm still ahead of the game and I can stress myself out with reknitting the River Forrest Gansey for Italian, by Christmas.

On another note entirely, Sunday was Veteran's Day in America. We didn't do a very good observing the day at Clover Field, so today, I would like to thank everyone in the Armed Services, especially those in mine and Italian's families. Thank you for your sacrifices. Thank you for safeguarding my freedoms. Thank you for doing a job that many of us are unwilling to do. Thank you. To those currently fighting overseas, I wish you safe journeys home.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One Week

What happens when you don't blog for a week? You finish a sweater:

Pattern: Sahara
Yarn: Tilli Thomas Pure and Simple and Disco Lights
Size: Medium
Notes: I hate the yarn. Really, I do. It is a beautiful yarn, but it pills while knitting and the Disco Lights skein had five knots. Yep, five annoying troublesome knots. There is no way I would buy Tilli Thomas again, and I can't recommend it. Other than the horrid yarn, I really like the sweater. It fits nicely and is very flattering. Italian loves it. It is not a difficult knit at all. The shaping is easy to do. The only modification I made was to shorten the length by 2 inches at the hem.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

I started thinking about my goal to finish all the Christmas presents and the Sahara by the end of October and realized my sanity is just way too important. Now, I'm striving to finish Sahara by the end of the month, and I might just make it not miss the deadline by too much. I would love to wear it to a party this weekend and with some luck, I might just have it blocked and ready. This means that Christmas knitting at home has ceased, but it is continuing in small little bits during my lunch break.

I've had a decent amount of knitting time at home in the evenings. We've gotten into the groove with school for Little Clover and soccer season is now over, giving us a little more time. Plus, he has a short week this week which translates into less stressful evenings for us. With this additional time, I've managed to knit the entire body and finish the shirttail hem with the main yarn.

I opted to use Japanese shortrows instead of the more traditional wrap and turn method. I like the slight slanting of the stitches, but I'm not completely sure I did it correctly.

On a practice swatch, the stitches are pretty much invisible. (If I had found the practice swatch, you would have seen the picture here. The practice swatch is wherever I put it when I cleaned up. I should do less of that.) One big difference on the practice swatch is that there are five stitches between each shortrow section because the slope is more gradual. With the shirttail, the shortrows do not have any stitches between each row, resulting in a much steeper slope. I'll see how the stitches end up when I finally blog the sweater.

I'm still not sure how much I like the Tilli Thomas, but the knitting of it has gotten better. Maybe I had a really bad skein.

So, how did I manage to have all this time to knit? Well, the guys kept themselves busy reading Encyclopedia Brown and then playing Detective as they tried to reenact the cases in the book. Here they are with their "Detective" coats, analyzing the "crime scene."

Then, the next night, they had a pumpkin carving party. Xavier Guy even came over to join in the fun.

Little Clover took full ownership of his pumpkin and pretty much carved it all by himself (with supervision).

I must say, I'm pretty impressed.

Happy Halloween

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Happy Birthday

Today we celebrate Mrs. Soprano, and I'd like to send her a very happy birthday wish. She has been a wonderful mother, mother-in-law, and grandmother to our family. I hope she knows she is well loved, and may today be filled with many happy moments. Happy Birthday!

Knitting on the Christmas presents continue and I'm about halfway done. My goal is to finish the presents by the end of October (which is only a week away), so that I can enjoy November and December relatively holiday stress free. I finished another gift last night while we watched the Colts game (picture at the bottom).

Of course, I'm not content without stress, which is why I've decided to knit Little Clover's holiday sweater this year. I think this is borderline crazy, especially since I still haven't finished Sahara.

I am making progress though! The Tilli Tomas still disappoints me. I would not recommend purchasing this yarn. It may be soft and feel heavenly, but it looks dirty and is already starting to pill even though I'm only knitting it and haven't really put it to use yet. For the price of the silk, I think you could find better substitutes. The construction of the piece is very interesting. The sweater is knit flat for the V-neck section and then joined after the very low V is complete. I almost made a huge error in the pattern. The pattern tells you to knit flat until the piece reaches a certain measurement from a particular marker. I added this marker a couple of months ago when I started the sweater, so I was measuring from a different marker, placed much, much lower in the sweater. Fortunately, I caught my error before I had made a huge knitting blunder and am progressing merrily (despite the yarn) along.

I also want to finish this sweater before I start on Little Clover's holiday sweater, and since I can't seem to find a little boy pattern I like, I'm just going to make it up as I go. Yep, this is definitely crazy.

Warning! Christmas Knitting!

Pattern: Fetching
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Sport
Modifications: I made the overall gloves longer by adding an extra set of cables at the bottom and knitting more rib at the top before the seed stitch border I added. I also knitted more rows between the bottom of the cable cuff and the thumb. On my next pair, I think I may not knit those extra rows.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Are we having fun yet?

We have a great group of friends in our life. We have friends we see or talk to on a regular basis and we have friends we may not see for months. Fortunately, with the friends we don't see often, when we finally do get together, we seem to pick up right where we left off. This weekend, we had the chance to hang out with a family we haven't seen since January.

Our two boys have been buddies since they were infants. We all meet at daycare when our sons were in the same little daycare room. Since then, we've spent several birthdays and ballgames together with the occasional playdate thrown in here and there. Since the boys have been apart for several months, we worked out a time when our hectic schedules allowed us to get together.

We had a great time! Although we stayed clear of wearing lampshades, we did allow ourselves to get a little crazy.

The dad is a balloon artist, so he whipped up a couple of crazy hats for the grown-ups. We couldn't let the kids be the only ones having fun.

We also allowed ourselves to let loose a couple of weekends ago as well. We took a trip to Nashville to finally have a belated birthday celebration with my family. While there, we sneaked a peek at the Parthenon, and caught a Predators game. The game was fantastic! Nashville has the potential to become a true hockey town. The fans are very, very supportive of the team, evident by the number of jerseys and face paint we saw. We even got into the spirit with a little face paint ourselves.

Speaking of fun, I allowed myself to splurge a little and bought some fleece from the makers of Socks that Rock.
Yummy!! I can't wait to give it a go!

P.S. The balloon artist does do parties.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I really do knit

In case anyone is wondering, I really am knitting and I've got the FOs to prove it. Granted, these FOs are small, but the small things still count. The knitting is one of the few things keeping me calm and relatively stress free.

Fall is quickly approaching the southern United States and with the onset of Fall comes the onset of Holiday knitting. This Christmas is a knitting Christmas. If you feel you may be eligible to receive a knitted gift under the tree, then stop reading and do not scroll down. I repeat. Do not scroll down. This warning is in place until the holiday season has been lifted. For friends, the holiday season does not expire until gifts have been exchanged.

Mommy Russian, I mean it. Go. (PS, I do still love you).

I think everyone is gone. Let the pictures commence!

Two Christmases ago, I knitted scarves for the girls in my immediate family. This year, I'm knitting them somewhat matching fingerless mitts. Mommy Russian's mitts completely match her ribbed scarf.

I used the same Brown Sheep yarn to finish off her gloves. The pattern is from the front section of the Interweave Knits Fall 2005 issue. It's hard to believe this month marks my three year knitiversary. On one level, I feel that I have not accomplished a lot in three years. At the same time, I've done quite a bit in three years. I can now add "Spinning" to my list of fibre related hobbies.

For the Engineer, I tried by hand at Fetching.

Overall, I like the pattern, but I think it could be longer, both at the top and the bottom. I used GGH Sublime for the yarn and it is yummy! The picture shows off the cables well. I also added a seed stitch border to the bottom and top of the mitts to draw in the mitts. On the next pair, I'm going to try going down a needle size for the seed stitch at the tops of the mitt to make the fit a bit more snug.

I apologize for the rushed feel of the blog. I wanted to get this post out though so I can show that I really am still a knitter.

Monday, October 08, 2007


Life at Clover Field is stormy right now. Both Italian and I are adjusting to relatively new jobs and new projects and our work days are spilling into our personal evenings. In addition, we have had some rough times personally, as our families have experienced various hardships. We needed a change in scenery, so we packed up for a little fly fishing trip.

Now, for those who fly fish, you know the importance of the pause. It is the pause in the cast that allows the fly line to straighten and lengthen. When you cast, giving your fly line a slight tug as you raise the line out of the water gives the line enough resistance to pull out the slack and enough tension to extend and pull more line forward to cast further. The pause is when the line extends and straightens to its full potential. Without the pause, the line becomes a tangled unworkable mess.

I was rushing through the months without a pause and I was quickly becoming the tangled unworkable mess. The purpose of our little trip was not really to camp or to fish, those activities were an excuse for the trip. The purpose was to take a pause, to reconnect with family, and to find our center of peace. We spent the days standing in the middle of a large river watching the fish and the birds. We spent the evenings around a campfire as the sky darkened and then lightened with an infinite number of stars. We laughed as we told stories and running jokes. I even knitted and Little Clover caught his first fish on a fly rod. We paused and as a result, we straighten back out to our full potential.

We saw a very big walking stick bug right by our picnic table. Isn't it huge?

Friday, October 05, 2007


Radiohead is releasing a new album in the upcoming weeks and they are toppling the music distribution model on its head. Instead of releasing a CD through traditional venues, they are offering the album digitally on their website. The buyer determines the price. Yep, there is no set price for the digital album. Instead, the person buyer the record can determine how much he or she wants to pay.

If you are a reader of knitting blogs and a listener to Brenda Dayne's Cast-On, then you may have heard discussions on what a knitted item is worth. How much would a buyer want to pay for a handknitted good, and as an artist, how much should we ask for a handknitted item? Do we as knitters value what we produce or do we downplay it as a craft? Is knitting a craft or is it artform? Radiohead, by letting the buyer decide the price is asking the buyer to determine the worth of their output. Fortunately for Radiohead, they have established the worth of their music. Their fans value their music.

What I have noticed is I value knitted goods more now. Certain prices on handmade knitwear do not shock me anymore. I know the time and the effort required to make sweaters and hats and mittens. I am willing to pay for quality and time. I'm also pickier now about the knitwear I buy. Since becoming a knitter, I try to buy only things I cannot create due to time or desire, and I expect it to be well made.

Now, back to Radiohead, they accepting pre-orders for CDs and vinyls. Shockingly, CD sales are decreasing but vinyl sales are holding steady and increasing for some labels. Vinyl listeners tend to be music fanatics. Generally, they have an entire wall or library devoted to their collection and hardware. They notice the differences in sound quality between vinyl and digital and they view music as an experience. They see their hobby of listening to music as a time to slow down and reconnect to a different era. Sound familiar? When knitted good as easy to come by, the knitting movement is holding strong. It's a time to slow down and to block out some of the noise we hear in our fast pace world.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Comfy Chair

We don't have a dining room. Instead, we have a room that I am sure has been used for dining by other owners of this house. We have re-purposed the room as a "Drunken Reading Room." We keep our wine cabinet and wine glasses there, along with a big chair and a half in the corner. The chair is often referred to as "The Big Comfy Chair."

The other day, while I was cooking dinner, I noticed the house was very quiet. I wondered through the house looking for my guys and found my guys snuggled in the big comfy chair, each with a book, a sight to make any English major happy.

Sometimes, I wonder if I would like a formal dining room for nice Norman Rockwell style dinners, but then I see the pile of books on the table by the chair and the toss pillows strewn about the room. I smile to know the room is being used more than if it were a dining room, and I wonder if I have any patterns for a nice comfy blanket to match the big comfy chair.

Thank you to everyone who expressed her condolences. Your warm thoughts are much appreciated. I also send out hugs to those of you who have lost someone special to cancer. I hope you remember all the good times.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Finally Done

After whipping out one sock in under a week, I finally finished the second sock a month later. Granted, I've had other distractions, knitting and life, between the first and second sock, but I still like to finish socks in under a month.

Part of the long duration was due to reknitting the top of the first sock. The first sock looked long enough and even felt long enough before I started knitting the rib, but when I bound off the sock, it was a couple of inches short of "long enough." Of course, I knit the second sock to be the right height which meant the first sock was definitely too short. I didn't mind reknitting the top of the sock. The act was rather cathartic. It is one area of my crazy life where I have complete control and can fix anything. I need the sense of control right now.

Pattern notes
Pattern: Widdershins
Yarn: Tofutsies color 723 - Put Your Foot Down
Needles: US Size 0 DPN, metal (Knitpicks)
Thoughts: Very easy pattern and I adjusted it to larger number of casted on stiches at a smaller gauge. I think I have a better understanding of the pattern and can adjust it to any number of stitches. I love, love, love the heel flap and definitely prefer toe-up. I used Judy's magic cast-on, which i think is now my new favorite for toe-up socks.

With the socks out of the way and only one project in my knitting bag, I naturally casted on for another project. I'm trying my hand (hee, hee) at mitts. We have some camping trips coming up and I want my hands to stay warm. I found a pattern in an older copy of Interweave Knits. They are knitting up quickly on Brown Sheep wool and I love the sturdiness of the fabric. Instead of using the recommended US size 8 needles, I'm knitting them on US size 6, mainly because I had size 6 DPNs and not size 8. I think the change will work in my favor and keep my hands nice and toasty.

Little Clover is also requesting an knitted moose and since he scored 4 out of his team's 7 goals at yesterday's soccer match, I think he has earned a moose. He and his team played a fantatic game. I'm amazed to watch them play. No matter the conditions, these kids play with a zeal and a commitment lacking in many adult activities. I hope they keep their gusto as long as they can.

Now for the not so good news. We found out last week that Zoo Baby, Nana Clover's sister has breast cancer and there is a chance that their other sister may have some complications from her breast cancer. Please send prayers/warm thoughts/good karma/cyber hugs their way. They need it. The good news about Zoo Baby's cancer is it is Stage 0, the earliest one can find cancer, so the outlook is good.

The news is still scary and it makes me think of all the people who are affected by cancer. September is Children's Cancer Awareness Month and we are quickly approaching Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The opportunities to help out will be great the next few weeks. Tonight, Chili's restaurant will be having St. Jude night. All profits from today's sales at participating Chili's restaurants will be donated to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Go treat yourself to a dinner (and a margarita) and help out a wonderful hospital.

Also, October usually means at least one breast cancer awareness walk. In my city, we will have two. One walk will be sponsored by the Susan G. Komen foundation and the other will be sponsored by the American Cancer Society. I'll be walking with many others to raise cancer awareness. I'd love for you to walk, too.

Monday, September 17, 2007

For Elaine

Last week, we lost a shining star in Italian's family. His Auntie Lane lost her battle with lung cancer. She was a mother, a sister, an aunt, a friend, and young. At her young age though, she had positively touched the lives of many people, and her good-bye wish was to wish us all a life we would be proud to lead. Her enthusiasm for life was palpable and the void her death is leaving was immediately felt. She was generous with her love and the love she sent forth was generously given back to her and this family will miss her very much.

I know the statistics show that more deaths are caused by heart disease than anything else, but not for this family. Between Italian and I, we have lost an aunt, a cousin, and two great grandparents to various cancers. We have the joy of knowing three friends, two cousins, and a step aunt who are all cancer survivors. The cancers that have touched our family have been cancers of all types, attacking all parts of the body, at all ages. As the medical world makes stunning advancements in fighting diseases and ailments, the progress in cancer research has been painfully slow for this family and we want it to move faster.

When Auntie Lane was diagnosed, I knitted a cap and wrapped it with prayer and good thoughts and love. Despite promising I would write out the pattern and post it on the site, I just never found the time. The time was this weekend. In between the grieving and the traveling and the remembering, I knitted one more cap for Elaine. Although she will never wear it, I hope her legacy will continue through it and I hope she touches you. As a thank you on behalf of all those families whose lives have been touched by some cancer in some way, I want to offer you Elaine whenever you make a donation to any Cancer foundation/institute. Just send me an email at irishcloveratgmaildot com, and if you include your amount, I'll keep a running tally.

For those who have lost someone, I offer you a hug of sympathy. For those who are helping someone fight cancer, I wish you strength. For Elaine, I give her a thank you for letting me have a glimpse of just how special she was.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


This weekend, I had the luxury of attending a class on the history of Bohus Stickning with Susanna Hansson. If you ever have a chance to take a class with Susanna, take it! She was a fantastic teacher and has a wealth of knowledge to share. Plus, having the time with other knitters is also a treat.

Bohus (pronounce "boo-hoos") is a stranding technique which also involves texturing by adding purl stitches to the right side of the work. Unlike Fair Isle, which has a two colors per row rule, Bohus can have multiple colors being used on one row. At the most, I knitted with three colors and found myself preforming knitting acrobatics as I tried to hold all three colors in my hand at once. It was quite a sight.

Bohus patterns were primarily designed for sweaters, but for the sake of the class, we made little wristlets. We received little kits for the class containing tiny yarns. I knitted my wristlets on US Size 0 at a gauge of roughly 9 stitches to the inch. These stitches are teeny tiny, but the overall effect is amazing! To show what a difference the stitche size makes, Susanna passed around two samples hat, one matching the traditional gauage for Bohus sweaters and knitted with fingering weight yarn, and one knitted with Shetland/aran weight yarn. The hats were both the same pattern, but almost looked like two different pieces. The color was the prominent feature of the traditional hat, while it was more of a secondary player in the aran weight hat.

At the end of the class, Susanna asked if we would all line up our wristlets so we could we could see the differences between each one. Seeing all the beautiful partially finished wristlets in one place was amazing. Equally amazing was seeing all the balls of yarn attached to the wristlets. Everyone was able to retrieve her wristlet from the pile without tangling a ball!

After the class, I rushed home and found some time later in the evening to finish one of the two wristlets.

Although I did have a ton of time to knit, we also had a very fun family game night. Little Clover recieved a Clue Mysteries game which contains over 40 kid friendly mysteries (meaning, no one dies and all the "crimes" have an accidental undertone). To help set the mood, we donned fake mustaches. Even Italian put on a fake mustache over his real goatee. (That picture was very very blurry. I think the two mustaches confused my camera and prevented it from focusing.) Italian did successfully capture a shot of Detective Little Clover in mid thought.

Oh, we also managed to watch the first (American) football game of the season.
Go Colts!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Since Little Clover and I share a birthday weekend, we try to do special little things on our birthday weekend. Luckily, this birthday weekend is almost always Labor Day weekend, which means an extra day of special somethings. This year, we jammed the entire weekend with fun activities.

We started celebrating Friday with a jaunt to a little fair. Little Clover tried out the hay bale maze:

Rode a few rides, including the Ferris Wheel:

He's blurry from the speed of the roller coaster, that or my camera had a sip of my beer while I wasn't looking.

Little Clover and I went through our first House of Mirrors and boy, the maze was much harder then I expected. I actually ran into two walls and the maze was designed for kids. We even visited two petting zoos, one of which had:

An alpaca! This is the softest animal I have ever felt in my life. Papa Clover asked if I petted it with my scissors. Unfortunately, no, my scissors were in the car. There's always next year, right?

We also took in the sights and scoped out all the food vendors. For some reason, most foods taste better on a stick and the fair did not disappoint us with its multitude of food-on-stick vendors. There was even one I had never seen before (and didn't try this time).

Maybe one day I'll be brave enough.

We spent Saturday at The Lion King. This is only the second show to bring me to tears upon the opening (the first being Les Miserable). The color is breathtaking and the entrance is beyond words. The puppeteers were fantastic and the costuming was superb. Little spent most of the show staring intently at the stage. He loved the cheetah and I must admit, he was my favorite puppeteer as well. The music was good, but not the best, but the visual eye candy made up for the lack of musical variety. The performers did a wonderful job as well. This is a show one should see at least once.

On the way home, Little Clover had the camera. He wanted to show his grandma the pictures from the fair. Then he took a few pictures himself. He took a lovely shot of his grandma:

And a picture of his socks.

Yep, his socks. Obviously, this is normal behavior since his mother is constantly taking pictures of socks.

We rounded the weekend by taking in a baseball game. This time, we had the pleasure of sitting on the bluff seats, which is a huge grassy hill behind left field. Despite the home team loss (we are in last place), a good time was had by all. I think the beer and BBQ nachos helped with that.

Finally, we celebrated Little Clover's birthday on Monday. He has been a part of our lives for several years now and they have been the happiest years of my life.

Now, I did have some time to knit. The sock enjoyed the Lion King and loved the concession line when it had a chance to people watch. The Sahara sweater also received some love this weekend, but it must of been jealous about not seeing the Lion King and greated me with a gigantic knot in the Tilli Tomas silk. I faced the knot with an ultra serene calm and spent 45 mintues soothing the yarn's hurt feelings and lovingly untangling and unknotting. I was starting to lose my patients towards the end, but I perservered. Italian's family watched and wondered why I didn't just cut the yarn and then unknot it, or better yet, throw away the knotted yarn. I told them I didn't mind working out the yarn and it was much better to keep it all intact. I finally wound the formally knotted yarn back onto the ball, looked at the patter and read "at end of row, break yarn." Yep, the yarn won that round.

Monday, September 03, 2007

To my little guy

Once upon a time, there was a little spirit boy. He was very happy and played with the other little spirit children. As the days passed though, he began to become restless. He wanted to be a real boy and to play in real fields. He looked down upon the real world and longed to be a part of it.

He asked if he could go and be with the children he saw through the clouds. The search began for the two people who would become his parents. The spirits searched through every land until finally, the right two people were found. The spirits showed the two people to the little spirit boy and he was glad, but also a bit nervous about leaving his home. He said good-bye to the other little spirit children and made his way to the real world, where on this day, he met his parents and became a family.

Hello, Little Clover. Happy birthday! As you grow another year older, I wish you a world of happiness, laughter to fill the tallest building, and love to warm you through the year. I am so very, very glad I have the privilege to call you mine. You brighten every day of my and your daddy's life.

I love you.

Friday, August 31, 2007

What to do next

I finished up Elly the other night, and as I stitched the corsage in place, I realized I didn't have a replacement project in mind. Life has been hectic lately, and I've been in survival mode, focusing on one day at a time, doing little to no future planning. The end of Elly just happened and left me a bit stranded in the knitting world. Sure I had the Widdershins socks to keep me knitting, but I am not a monogamous knitter. I need variety.

I reviewed the colors for Project Spectrum and thought of working on either my orange or my purple project, but I thought the new Project Spectrum color scheme began in September. Nope, they started in August. I was already a month behind. Then, I had to be honest with myself. I really didn't want to work on my orange socks or my purple scarf. I wanted to knit Sahara. I wanted to feel the pretty pink silk flow through my fingers. I wanted to wear the finished top while there was still some warm weather left in the summer. I dug the yarn out of my stash and started the pattern review process. I think I'm going to like this little top.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Happy Birthdays

The sweater for Little Lolli Lolli Lollipop is almost finished. I've seamed together all the pieces and I've even completed the crochet edge. I only have to complete the corsage flower and the teeny tiny sweater will be done. I am completely on schedule for her September 4 due date. Unfortunately, she's not on track for her due date. She's an early bird and was born on Friday August 24. Welcome to world Lolli Lolli Lollipop! I was hoping she would wait until yesterday so we could share a birthday, but I guess it is much better to have one's own special day.

Now, I'm sure Foxy is wondering how in the world her little person received the name Lolli Lolli Lollipop. Little Clover gave her the name. When we were talking about the new arrival and I mentioned her name, he looked at me with complete shock and said, "They named her already?" I told him yes, and he was a bit disappointed. He told me he wanted to name her because he loves naming babies. I told him he had to wait many, many, many years and then he could have his own baby to name. I offered him the chance to pick her name for the blog. We tried out Munchkin, Monkey, Bay Bay, and finally settled on Lolli Lolli Lollipop. After typing it a few times, I think we should have picked a shorter name.

So, what did we do to celebrate my birthday? We had beer and nachos at a baseball game.

The Iowa Cubs were in town and we arrived in full force wearing the appropriate clothing.

The sight of the Italian family all wearing Cubs gear shocked two of my friends who don't follow baseball (or the Cubs) as closely as we do. I think we scared them a little. They did manage to enjoy themselves in spite of our shenanigans. I hope everyone has this much fun on their special days.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Of Rainbows and Clovers

It has been eight years since my mom died. In previous years, the weeks leading up to this date are generally filled with anxiety and dread. My mood darkens and I turn inward and keep the sadness to myself. I think of all the should haves, could haves, and become rather selfish in my grief. Then, the anniversary of her death comes and of course, tears usually accompany this date. I miss her.

This year, though, I could look at the numbers 23 on a calendar and be okay. The thought of the date wasn't dreadful at all. It seemed more like a regular day. I could think about it and think of the anniversary and not instantly dissolve into a moody revelry. I could remember my mom and smile. It may be a slightly wet smile, but it is a smile nonetheless. I could talk about my mom and how long she's been gone and not tear up. Honestly, I like this approach better.

This year, I was able to remember my mom and think about how fortunate I was to have her. My mom was fun and knew how to laugh. She could be silly and spontaneously burst into silly songs. She also gave great hugs just when you needed it. She loved. She was beautiful. Although these sentences about her are in the past tense, I still feel that she is with me. I know I've mentioned her knack for finding four leaf clovers and following her death, I saw rainbows everywhere. Since then, whenever I see a patch of clovers or a rainbow, which I still see frequently, I have the feeling my mom is saying hello. It's weird, but it is comforting. I may no longer have her hugs or her laugh, but I do have her rainbows and clovers and that works for me. I love remembering my mom and on this day especially, my memories help me smile.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Are we done yet?

I thought my school supply shopping ended on Sunday, the day before the first day of school, but I was oh so incredibly wrong. I revised my assessment and thought my school supply shopping ended Monday, after visiting three stores for book socks and a pencil pouch to replace the pencil case I sent to school. (For those wondering what in the world is a book sock, it is the modern replace for paper book covers, or grocery sacks we used in my house to wrap the outer cover of schools book to protect them from natural wear and tear).

I really did visit three stores Monday night searching for a pencil pouch. The first big box store was completely out of pouches. The national drug store chain was also out. I finally stopped at the regional grocery chain and found a plethora of pencil pouches. I hoped I would never have to shop for school supplies again, and I didn't for a full 24 hours. Then, today happened and Little Clover informed me he needed two more book socks. I think I am finally done (at least for a year).

Little Clover has been doing well in school. Tonight we had the pleasure of story time. He read "My Grandfather's Journey" to Italian and I. It is the story of the author's grandfather's travels between Japan and America. Halfway through the story, we hit the passage of the Grandfather standing in "endless farm fields" and Little Clover stopped reading. He looked at us and said, "That makes absolutely no sense. How can it be endless. He had to get into the field which means there is a beginning, and if there is a beginning, there must be an end." I love his reasoning, especially when it gives insight into how he views the world.

For instance, I bought a "Travel the States" workbook for him over the summer. My intent was to provide him with an educational outlet whenever we found ourselves in a situation requiring downtime or waiting. He's entering the third grade and the focus at his school is America history and geography, so the workbook seemed like a good idea. In addition to the American geography, it teaches map reading skills and state facts. Last week, we did the Virginia worksheet page. The Virginia page had a cartoon picture of Colonial Williamsburg. The instructions on the page were to circle all the modern things that did not belong in Colonial Williamsburg. Little Clover circled the spinning wheel. I said, "Wait a minute. They had spinning wheels in Colonial times." He replied, "Yes, but they said circle the modern things. You have a spinning wheel, so it's a modern thing." He had me on that one.

Monday, August 20, 2007

First Day

Today is Little Clover's first day of school. Despite my protests, he continues to grow up and not many things exemplify that more than the first day of a new grade. We had quite an adventure preparing for this day. We hunted for his school supplies and although we were pretty successful in the beginning, I ended up making three trips to the store, searching for loose leaf paper and manila folders. I probably could have saved myself at least one trip to the store if I had read the list properly and bought manila folders instead of pulling out the manila envelopes I had at home. I was pretty smug with myself, too, when I thought I had everything he needed. Then, last night as I was getting his backpack together, I realized my error and jetted to the store. They didn't have manila colored folders, just the brightly colored ones. I'm hoping his teacher won't notice.

Little Clover is a bit nervous about the new grade. He got the "hard" teacher this year and his first comment about it was. "Well, at least I'll be super smart next year." We'll see how things go, but we are expecting a year with lots and lots and lots of work. Hopefully, he'll still enjoy the learning process. With the colored folder fiasco, who knows. We may already be branded as the flaky family (which would not be an inaccurate statement).

The start of the new school year also brings the start of soccer season. I know have three hours dedicated to knitting as I watch the not-so-little people kick around the ball. The soccer hours are well appreciated now I've had a chance to recharge. The frogging of the Fancy Silk Sock and the Lotus Blossom Tank lifted a weight from my knitting. I've made plenty of head way on the new Widdershins socks and on Elly for addition to Foxy's family. I may just finish Elly this week.

I know it's been a while since I've had a newborn, but the size (or lack thereof) is kinda scaring me. Are babies really that small???

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Every now and then, you need to step back and take a long look at your life. Sometimes, life is going well and you evaluate what is making it good and you try to keep taking the same steps to keep the positive flow. You spend more time with your loved ones to make more memories and smiles. You take the time to relax and just enjoy. You "pay it forward" and pass on goodwill to others.

Sometimes though, you take a look and realize your life needs a readjustment. You may see the stress and the tenseness and wish desparately that you can call a "do over" like you used to when you were little and the game you were playing just wasn't going your way.

I called a do-over, packed up, and headed to the mountains. Before we left though, I called a do-over with my knitting.

I just wasn't feeling the groove with the Lotus Blossum Tank. After viewing the other LBTs on Ravelry, I realized I was knitting it a size too big and it needed to be frogged backed. Then, I looked at the Fancy Silk Socks and admitted to myself that it was too big as well and I would never be happy with it.

But here's the thing, do-overs are one of the many nice things about knitting. When you knit crap, and you can admit it is crap, you can rip it back and start over. Life, is less forgiving. Gone are the days of do-overs. Once you hit adulthood, you have to deal with what is making you long for the simpler days of childhood. Afterall, that is what separates adults from kids (especially the kids trapped in the bodies of adults).

So, this little vacation wasn't a do-over, it was a time out. It was time to spend with my family. It was a time to experience yet another Little Bear first. It was a time to kick back, act silly, and have a little kid-like fun. I'm now reset and ready to move forward.

Little Clover fly fished for the first time. Not only did he fly fish, but he also caught his first fish while fly fishing this trip. He's a natural and he claimed my pole as his own. I guess this means I get to buy a new pole.

While trying to clean up and compact the boxes while taking out the trash, I got my foot stuck in the beer packing. Yes, that is Old Style, the best beer flavored water from the North.

We like to play puzzles and games when camping. The objective of this game is to jump all the green frogs until only the red frog remains. Xavier Guy is seriously contemplating his next move. It took him a while.

I started the Fancy Silk Socks in May. I finally finished the fist sock three months later. I began these socks on the drive to our camping trip and finished it four days later. I think I needed the change in scenery.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Showing off socks

Tennessee was tax-free this weekend and I took advantage of it. Little Clover and I hit the stores early Saturday in the hopes of knocking out our errands quickly. Our first stop at the uniform store was a complete bust. The line to get in was a 45 minute wait. I don't mind lines because I always have a bit of knitting in my purse, but I do mind waiting in line with an unequipped child. I had completely forgotten to bring anything to keep Little Clover busy in long lines, so we left for our next stop, the shoe store, which was closed. I was getting frazzled. I drove to yet another shoe store and was finally able to buy something. From then on, we ran our errands without further problems and even had time for a Mommy/Son lunch date.

I then decided to take a little bit of time to do some Mommy shopping. I dropped Little Clover off at home and headed to the mall, where I hunted for the perfect pair of shoes. I browsed, I picked up a shoe here and there. Before I knew it, I was holding five shoes that tickled my fancy in different ways. A sales person found me and asked if I would like to try any on. I gave her my size and all five shoes. She brought them out and noticed I was looking at the shoes rather intently. She asked if I was looking for anything in particular. I said yes, I want shoes to show off my socks. She looked at me, decided I was serious, and then started to back away. She obviously doesn't knit socks.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Now you see it

Now you don't.

Those of you familiar with Delta summers may think the heat motivated me to chop of my locks. Actually, I donated the 11 inches to Locks of Love, a charity which makes wigs for children with cancer. Check out the site and if you can, try growing your hair. It's a painless way to give.

As my hair got shorter, my knitting has gotten longer. Imade some progress on the Fancy Silk Socks. I'm considering ripping them out. They are a bit big in the leg and I like my socks to be a bit tighter fitting. My next pair of socks will definitely be the Widdershins again, just so I can fully dissect a toe-up heel flap sock. The more I knit top down socks, the more I love my toe-ups.

Even though the socks are still growing (inspite of the thoughts of frogging), the Lotus Blossom is sadly on hold. Well, actually, it's not sad the Lotus Blossom is on hold. I've begun the baby sweater for baby Kay-Kay, my goddaughter's little sister. I must knit fast. She's due in just four short little weeks.

P.S. I finished the first set of singles in the bamboo. I think I've figure out how it wants to be spun. I think I'm doing a long draft, but honestly, I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm just drafting out very long, turning sideways so I have enough room to draft. This is working much better than the inchworm technique I was using before. I think it is time for me to invest in Alden Amos's spinning tome.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I did it

Despite his athleticism, Little Clover is a thinker and an observer. Even as a small child, he was primarily quiet and attentive. He could sit and watch for several long stretches as a time and was meticulous and deliberate with his exploring. He was a sponge and not a baby of action. This made the baby years extremely easy. As he grew, he continued to watch and assess and analyze. He would ask complex questions about what he was seeing, but only after much time was spent on internal processing of his observations. Even in sports he watched and learned. The way he watches a baseball game reminds me of a coach. He watches the plays, comments on where the best play was, and learns the game. We watch baseball, football, hockey, tennis, and some soccer, but never cycling, never, ever cycling.

So, when I finally approached Little Clover and told him the time had come for him to learn how to ride a bike, he looked mortified. I didn't waver. I gave him a deadline. He negotiated. I negotiated. We settled on terms and then, we gave it a go. He was nervous and tentative and a little bit apprehensive. He had not had time to observe. Little Clover isn't much for speed (unless he is running and then I can't even beat him anymore), so he pedaled slowly, but he pedaled and he biked. He beamed as he realized he got and his confidence grew. He even accidentally turned, but then kept going in circles for a while until he worked out how to go straight again. As a mom, I got one more first. I watched my little person zoom off into the sunset on a bike as he cried, "Look at me!"

In knitting news, I'm on Ravelry! I now have a database set up of my projects (both in progress and finished) and my stash. The stash database is scary. I must now come to terms with just how much yarn I own. I have 46 different yarns for a total of 17,775 yards of yarn. That's 10 miles in yarn. Out of my stash, I can make 14 pairs of socks. My family will have warm feet.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


I'm recovering very nicely from my latest bout of Potteritis. I'm feeling much better now, but am experiencing some slight residual effects, namely sadness regarding the end of the series. J.K Rowling did a wonderful job with the series and I wish her much success with future endeavors (because I really, really hope there will be future writing endeavors, not that I'm thinking of myself in wishing her well, nope, I'm only thinking of all of her other fans).

With the final Potter book out of the way, I know only have work interferring with my knitting. I guess it's time for my confession now. I have not knitted a single stitch for over a week. I miss it terribly. I miss the feel of yarn and needles in my hands. I miss having finished objects to show off. I actually think the lack of knitting in my life has made me pretty grumpy, too. Of course, Italian is just way too smart nice to agree with me on this. I did make some progress on the lace sock before my little separation from my yarn. I'll post a picture as soon as I try on one finished sock. With luck, it will fit to my satisfaction. Right now, it's a bit loose around the leg and I am trying to remember if my other Socks That Rock shrunk or expanded when washed and dried.

In the meantime, I keep checking my progress on the Ravelry waiting list and it looks like 68 is my lucky number.

Hmmm, do I see Ravelry in my future today????

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


We interrupt this blog to bring you an important message. The nation is being brought to it's knees as a debilitating afflictions sweeps from coasts to coasts. This virus, commonly referred to as "Potteritis" has now made its way into this blog. Common symptoms include a reduction in mobility, leaving suffers sitting in one place for hours at a time, a lack of desire to engage in others who are immune to Potteritis, sudden intakes of breathe (a.k.a gasping), and insomnia brought on by an overwhelming desire to just read another paragraph.

Fortunately, suffers of Potteritis only experience systems for a few days. If you or someone you know suffers from Potteritis, symptoms will lift soon and the sufferer will return to normal.

We will return to regular blogging (and knitting) soon.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Who will buy

Me: How does this look?
LC: Um, it looks fine.
Me: Come on, you didn't even look.
LC: Well, that pink shirt with the yellow shirt looks fine, but jeans to work, Mom?
Me: I have an out of uniform day.
LC: Oh, well then it looks good.

At a nice young tender age, Little Clover has learned the importance of appropriate dress. I feel like we have hit a milestone. I can now tell him his selection in clothing does not match the occasion and he will understand. Yay! Of course, he may now argue the validity of meeting societal standards, but I think I have a few years before he can come up with really good arguing points.

Hopefully, I can soon add two new additions to my own wardrobe.

The Lotus Blossom Tank is slowly growing. I just finished one complete lace pattern repeat which is a huge hurdle for me. I have found when I knit lace, the first full set of row repeats is always rather arduous. It is slow and cumbersome and I'm pretty much knitting blind. Sure I generally have a picture or a chart to reference, but I prefer reading my actual knitting. After finish the first set of rows, knitting the lace becomes simpler and I have a tendency to knit faster. I can find mistakes easily before I knit too far along and I pick up the rhythm of the lace and can memorize the pattern. Does anyone feel the same way?

I've also been trucking along on the Fancy Silk Stockings made out of wool. These are more socks than stockings, but I think they will be lovely peeking out from under my jeans.

(How do you guys take pictures of your socks in progress? I always feel a bit silly taking pictures of my feet with a partially knitted sock.)

As for the "Who will buy" portion of the blog, I have a bag I would like to send off to a new home.

It is a lovely Offhand Design Zelda Tote that is a year old. A new one retails for $180, so I am asking $80 plus actual shipping. It has 8 side pockets in the main compartment and three internal pockets in the side compartment. The tote can hold several balls of yarn, a knitting book, a knitting magazine, and necessary knitting sundries. The tote has served me well in the last year, so much so, I want another one. I'm sending this one off into the wild simply because I found one I like a bit better. If you are interested, please email me at irishcloveratgmaildotcom with "Zelda Tote" in the subject line. The first person to respond will be the lucky owner. It also makes a great bag for things other than knitting (such as a baby bag) and it comes from a smoke free home.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Do You Fish?

In the past, we try to go on a few fishing trips a year. The last year though has been amazingly hectic and has slipped by us with very few opportunities to relax, much less, go fishing. We are getting antsy. We need to be on/in the water. We need to fish. We didn't fish this past weekend, but we were at least, in the water.

Little Clover returned from Chicago with stories galore. Hopefully, he will do a guest blog entry in the next few days. He unpacked, and then packed again for a trip up to the family cabin. He was gracious enough to allow Italian and me to accompany him on this trip. Once at the cabin, we spent the large part of our time on the lake. Little Clover tried his hand at captaining a boat. Papa Clover acted as his first mate.

Other than getting distracted by the occasional bird or log, he drove rather well. I only moderately feared for my life.

Little Clover also experienced tubing for the first time and he had a ball! He loved being on the tube and pulled by the boat. We could hear his giggles over the motor and if you rode the tube with him, he talked nonstop.
Looking back, part of the fun of this weekend was being able to experience one of Little Clover's firsts. As he grows up, those first moments are getting fewer and farther between. I'm not sure how many firsts he has left, but I hope to be there for as many of them as I can.

I even had a first a couple of weeks ago. I enjoy writing and see the blog as a safe medium for practicing the craft. There is no real rejection in the blog world. There is rejection though in attempting to get a piece published. Recently, I submitted an essay to Cast-On with Brenda Dayne. You may have heard of it. If you subscribe, then you heard my essay. My essay, "Do you fish," aired on June 29 as part of Episode 51. Below is a transcript of the essay. I'm very grateful to Brenda for accepting my essay. If you get a chance, support her podcast. She does great work and adds to the knitting community. Oh, and Sage of Quirky Nomads did a fantastic job of reading! Thank you, Sage.

Do you fish?
In my youth, I was a meadow pixie. We have pictures to prove it. I'm roughly five years old running in a wildflower meadow in the Rocky Mountains. My arms are out stretched and my Peter Pan collar is highlighted by golden sunlight. Thus, my life as a camper began. I wish I could say I excelled at camping from that point forward, but sadly, my skills really didn't progress much past me running amok in a wide open field. My family left the mountains of Colorado shortly after that summer to settle in the hills of Tennessee. We continued camping and I even joined the Girl Scouts for a year or two, but my Girl Scout sash was rather devoid of badges and our family camping trips became more and more sporadic.

Then, I met the man of my dreams and he asked me a very weighted question.

"Have you ever gone fishing?" he asked.
"Not really," I replied. "Once I dipped my uncle's fishing pole into the water when I was about 9 or ten, but that's it."

I didn't realize he was not actually asking me about fishing, but rather, gauging my likelihood as a future spouse. He took me on a fishing trip with his father and brother to a river in the Ozarks of Arkansas and I fell in love again. One look at the riverbank and the burnt out campfire circles and I felt at home. We set up camp right along the bank and I listened to the gentle rushing of water and the wooshing wings of the birds. I passed the fishing test.

A few years later, and after several more fishing trips, my boyfriend and I were married. We then added to the number of campers by having a little boy. He took his first steps at the campsite, surrounded by family and fishing friends. His little feet brushed along the floor of a cabin one night as the sound of the river could be heard beneath our cheers and his giggles. He took more and more steps along the riverbank and soon, he was sitting in our laps with his very own fishing pole, and we guided his casting and reeling. We had another natural camper and fisherman in our midst and as our number grew, camping became more of an event. Of course, we still looked forward to the relaxed atmosphere of camping. We really had no schedules or appoints tying us down. Instead, we had our routines. We would begin the day with a quick jaunt into the river, poles in hand and dressed in wading pants. As the sun travelled the sky, one by one we would leave the river and return at our own times. In the quiet evenings we would gather around the fire and watch the stars and lightening bugs twinkle into existence. We would play games and talk and sometimes just sit and enjoy the quiet.

Then, one day, in between fishing trips, I became a knitter again. I started bringing yarn with me and in the quiet hours of the day, as my little one napped or by the glow of a campfire, I knitted. I knitted hats and socks and swore never again would I wear cotton store bought socks on a fishing trip. I found Knit Picks had a colorway called "Fly Fishing" and I quickly bought enough skeins to make socks for my family. As we camped one autumn, my hands shivered while I knitted and I promised myself I would have wool fingerless gloves for my next winter camping trip. Sometimes, my yarn would come home with bits of leaves and twigs from the campsite. When I found these, I would always smile as I remembered the fish we caught or the stories we told. I would then hold the yarn to my nose and my smile would deepen as I detected the faint smell of a campfire and a hint of the river. If I listened carefully, sometimes, the laughter caught in the yarn from our last trip would escape and tickle my ears again. The spirit of the trip, of the campsite, of our memories would be caught in the yarn and released with every stitch I knit.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Trying something new

In an effort to be healthy, save some money, and make the environment happy, I've decide to ride my bike to stores within a mile or two of my house. Living in the American South where sprawl is king, the number of stores within biking distance are rather limited. Fortunately me, Target and my LYS are completely within the biking radius and I've ridden to both. Both trips have given me a brand new perspective regarding biking, driving, and the city in which I live.

First, biking
Bikers (and pedestrians) have the right away. I knew this fact, but unfortunately, not all the motorists I encountered knew this fact. Well, I like to think they didn't know it. That is a much happier thought than thinking they knew it and found great pleasure in scaring the devil out of cyclists.

Also, Target and my LYS seem very close to my house if I drive there, but they are much farther away when you bike there, much, much farther away, especially in 96 F with a humidity of 76%. I should also get a bike basket instead of wearing a backpack to hold my purchases because my back gets pretty sweaty in 96 F with a humidity of 76%. I may also want to get my own bike before I get a bike basket and return my SIL bike to her, since I've been borrowing it for the last two years. After I get my own bike, I will definitely knit up the saddlebags from Vogue. Who knows, maybe the knitted Vogue saddlebags will make my biking experience more chic as well.

Now, on to cars
Bikers and pedestrians have the right of way, and most motorists are completely oblivious to this. Riding a bike on any major road in this city translates to a very exciting bike ride, and not always in the "wee, this is fun" sense of exciting. I discovered I'm very good at breaking.

I also found I envied the smug motorist with their air conditioning. "At least I was being fit and exercising," I would think to myself. Then a daunting hill would come into my sights and I quickly lost any smugness as I tiredly pedaled up the hills. I almost wondered on some of the hills if my pedaling was doing any good.

Finally, my town
My town has a lot more hills than I realized. Growing in central Tennessee, I was surrounded by hills. Living now in the delta, there is nary a hill in sight, unless you are biking and it is 96 F outside. Then there are hills every where. But hey, those knitted saddlebags are gonna luck darn cute.

In addition to biking around town, I learned how to put in a light fixture. I have this thing for lighting fixtures. In both of our houses, I almost immediately change out lighting fixtures. I'm not sure why they mean as much to me as they do, but they seem to add a very personal touch to a room. Generally, I hold the tools while Italian changes the fixture, but this time, I felt the need to be liberated and learn how to do it myself (with Italian there to talk me through it of course).

We took down the brass fixture in the kitchen and replaced it with a nice new nickel plated light. It looks amazing up! Italian and I stood back and admired our work. As we looked at the new light in the kitchen, we realized the rest of the kitchen doesn't quite match the light. I think we may have more work to do.