Monday, February 26, 2007

Happiness is finding a pencil

Elemental Snow The blue car in white snow.

I love watching a well played sporting event. A proper sporting event, no matter what sport, has a fluidity and a grace, a finesse to it that can be just as satisfying to watch as a play or ballet, especially when the sport involves little people. Basketball season has officially begun and Little Clover had his first game this Sunday. Despite the loss, his team played quite well. They have one play, but at least they have a play. The play consists of the point guard dribbling across the line, passing the ball to Little Clover, who then passes the ball to a teammate who then passes it to another taller teammate who shoots. The team executed the play with brilliance about three times, then they became little kids and ran all over the court. It was quite cute, especially when they decided they needed to talk to Mom and Dad and would run over to the stands, sometimes while there was still action on the court. Little Clover was the lead scorer of the game, bringin in 7 of the teams 11 points. He was quite proud.

As were Italian and I. Honestly, I can't think of many things more wonderful than watching kids play sports. There is a remarkable excitement at each success and an astounding lack of concern over "failures." Little Clover's team didn't care about the loss. They were excited to play adn were thrilled with their shoots and their steals. They grin with happiness after every shot and stare at the stands looking for approval and a thumbs up from their parents. It's nice to know that my opinion matters to him and it's amazing to see his face beam. Maybe I only love it because Little Clover does. Who knows. His happiness makes me smile.

The blue bath

The blue kettle

In keeping with Project Spectrum, above is a short photo montage of blue (with a little bit of white thrown in for fun). I found out about Project Spectrum late last year, but enjoyed seeing the colors in the blogs I visited. This year, being a part of Project Spectrum has made me more aware of certain colors around me. When I see the sky, it's no longer an expanse of wide sea, now, it's a photo op! Blueberries look edible and photo perfect. I even ventured out of my normal color range and bought (before Lent) an exotic fibre in grey for spinning. More on that later.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Better than Yoga

Have you ever had one of those days? You know, the kind with really high highs and really low lows? I had one of those highs today. I had a day where I felt great about my job. People gave me compliments about my work and told me I was doing a fantastic job. Then, just a few hours later, other people told me that I am doing a horrible job. Normal, I don't really care. Work was just a silly way to earn money to feed my family. It wasn't important. This job, though, matters to me. I like this job, and I like this company. I suddenly found myself attached and caring about the quality of my performance, and the fact that someone was providing unconstrustive criticism was aggrevating. The snippy me came out. I reined her in and only a small snide comment came out in the meeting.

I left work frustrated and angry and wanting to be even snippier. Italian, listened as I vented, handed me my knitting bag, and said, "Have fun at knitting." (There was this sound of a door shutting as he said this.) I did.

I'm sure I've mentioned it before, but it's worth saying again. I have one of the best knitting groups around. With the booming internet, I have the luxury of having knitting friends all over the world. They are always there when I need them. Whether at noon when I need a little pick me up or at 11:00 pm when I finally have a minute to myself, they are there. My local knitting group is there, too, just on a more normal basis. I arrived at knitting and was immediately greeted with warm hellos and a hug. We talked about kids and jobs and patterns and yarns. We laughed as we reviewed patterns and talked about religous traditions and community activity. We complimented each others works, past, present, and future, and we spoke in the knitters' codes of DPNs, worsted, sports, and 4s. I left relaxed and connected and rejuvenated. I'm very lucky to have such a group. Thanks, y'all.

The beginnings of a Picovoli by Grumperina

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Shampoo One

One of the Clovers' St. Valentine's Day tradition is to celebrate the day as a family. Italian and I celebrate the romantic part on our own, usually on the weekend, but on the actual day, we celebrate our family. This does involve chocolate truffles for me and candy for Little Clover. This year, Italian and Little Clover presented me with chocolates from a local candy maker (we try to support local first, then organic). The flavors they picked were Irish Cream (because I'm Irish), cappucino (because I love coffee), coconut (because that's my favorite), and champagne (because it would be fun). Italian easily pointed out the Irish Cream, the cappucino, and the coconut. The champagne one was a little bit harder. Italian explained how every truffle flavor is decorated differently, so the champagne one should be the one that doesn't look like the other. Little Clover looked at the truffles, pointed at one, and said, "I think the shampoo one is this one."

Italian and I smiled and agreed. I wonder how it will taste.

And Now for Something Completely Different
What says "I love you" better than spam?

Alot of Spam! Oh, wait. That's not it. How about:

Italian and I spent this past Valentin's weekend at the theatre watching a lovely showing of Spamalot, watery tart and all. It was spectacular! As a former theatre junky and performer, I loved the acting, the blocking, the dancing, the technicality, and the singing. As a Python fan, I loved the crude humor. All in all, I left the show with an aching side and wanting a catapult and cow. Neither Italian nor I could figure out how they accomplished the Black Knight scene. If you watch it, try not to be distracted by the monk. Go see the show if it stops in a theatre near you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Happy Mardi Gras

I finished these just in time for Mardi Gras!

Pattern: Widdershins (plain sock, toe-up with heel flap)
Yarn: Socks That Rock in Nodding Violet.

I love these socks. Even though they are just a plain stockinette sock, the stitches are beautiful. The yarn has a depth to it and the stitches are slightly textured. The colors are deep and dimensional as well. Plus, they are in a fantastic greens and purples, perfect for Mardi Gras. My timing couldn't have been better.

Quite a few milestones and holidays are passing me by this year. So far, I've missed my blogiversary, the Chinese New Year, and I forgot about Mardi Gras! I've only just realized it in time for...Lent. Yay. (Injecting a very, very deep sigh). For Lent, I give up spending money on things that I do not need. By only buying necessary items, I adjust my reality and focus it once again on what is a need and what is a want. This helps me keep my perspective and be grateful for what I do have. Of course, this moratorium on extraneous purchases includes yarn.

I do have an exception this year. The year for a special wedding gift has not arrive at my LYS yet. Since I placed the order for it a few weeks ago, I will not feel bad paying for it during Lent. What will be a problem is leaving the store without anything else. Fortunately, I realized today, the day before Lent, wonderful Mardi Gras, that I have one last day to shop and a computer to help me buy yarn! All is good.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A love story

When I began knitting again, about two years ago, I did not expect to fall in love with yarn. Instead, I expected to dabble a little here and there. I knitted a dreadfully curly stockinette scarf and an acrylic purse, sans straps, that is still in pieces in the playroom somewhere. I liked it, but I wasn't in love yet. Then, I went to my first yarn store. All the yarn was arranged in colors and fibers all over the walls. I became excited, but overwhelmed. I quickly bought the Brown Sheep recommended in the pattern for the scarf. I didn't look at the gauge or the yardage in the pattern which called for two colors of yarn, one skein each. Fearing I might run out, I bought two skeins of each. Naturally, I have a ton of Brown Sheep yarn in two shades of green left over.

I began simply with my knitting, following a pattern almost exactly as it is written. I played around a bit with the yarns specified in the pattern, and often ended up with an item that resembled the piece in the picture, but didn't quite seem to fit right. Then I discovered gauge and my knitting got better. My yarn substitutions were more thought out, and I began to fall in love. Something happened when I knitted. I relaxed. I could sit in one spot for hours and not feel guilty. I became a little more patient, and I could feel tension leaving my shoulders. I turned my mind off and knitted and knitted and knitted. I loved following a pattern and had absolutely no desire to write my own pattern. I couldn't understand why someone would want to think about her knitting that much.

Then I found socks. I tackled socks because they scared me, they were risky. They require tiny needles. They require proper gauge. They required that I think while I knitted. I didn't want to be scared of knitting anything, so I tried it, and I fell further in love. They were portable. They were quick. They were useful! They didn't fit. I had to tweak the pattern and I found a pattern that required personalization. I found I liked the idea of making the socks just for me. Then the whole heel thing was intriguing and I wanted to know the whys and hows of it. That lead me down the path of making up a leaf pattern for a hat because I didn't want to hunt for one, and then, the next thing I know... Wham! I'm tackling a sweater without a pattern, just with some measurements. With the time and thought and consciousness required to knit blind, it was evident I was definitely in love.

All this time, everytime I said, "Oh, I can't ever see myself doing/making/trying [insert some knitting related feat]!" Italian has just nodded and smiled, knowing I would try it and accomplish it. Needless to say, I had fallen in love with him long ago, and that was one of the many reasons why. I've fallen madly in love. I have the yarn, and Italian has the sweater (and socks), to prove it.

Please excuse the very dorky look on my face. I have no idea what I was doing, but evidently, it was something dorky.
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Tuesday, February 13, 2007

I remember Alaska

With every stitch of this scarf, I remembered Alaska. Finally, after keeping the yarn safe in my stash for several months, I gently took it from its nice warm home and began to knit it into the scarf it was meant to be. The yarn is one of the best breeds of yarn. It is souvenier yarn. It traveled in a suitcase all the way from Alaska to my little stash, where I would go and visit it every now and then. I would visit the yarn when I began to long for the cool wet air of Alaska and it would make me smile.

The yarn though wasn't very happy in my stash. I think it was crowded there. It would nag at me and tell me that it really, really would like to come out and get some air. I finally listened and it rewarded me with this, a soft, warm, airy lace scarf in a blue that, with every stitch, reminds me of Alaska.

This is all that is left of the yarn. Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration. This is half of all that is left of the yarn. I couldn't find the other piece of string.

Monday, February 12, 2007


I've recently finished two audiobooks, The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, in which a youn governess encounters odd going-ons in an English mansion, and A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, in which a young man finds himself screwed.

Both books deal with the supernatural world, but both books are worlds apart from each other. The Turn of the Screw holds true to it's Victorian period. The dark undertone of the book hints at scandals that are too horrific to mention. James does a very good job of scaring you while he's tearing down the setting around the governess. The interesting thing about The Turn of the Screw is the dual way the book can be interpretted. A reader can read the book completely believing the governess and what she is experiencing, or one can read it under the assumption that the governess is losing her mind. Either way, the book has its suspenseful moments. As with a lot of classical books, it can drag in bits due to Victorian era languages and style, but overall, the story draws you in and the book goes by quickly. Plus, the ending is worth the read.

The second book, A Dirty Job, was an absolute riot and one that I will listen to (or read) again. I loved it enough that I immediately went out and bought his latest, You Suck. The book is about a very ordinary man, Charlie Asher, who finds out one day that he has a special job in life and that is to be a sort of a helper to Death. The book follows Charlie as he adjusts to his new job. I laughed out loud in several places and Moore is a fantastic storyteller. He fills the book with wonderful characters and you find yourself becoming attached to almost everyone. The situations are highly amusing and oddly familiar. He also weaves his characters together from one book to another, which makes it more fun to read. A very big warning though, his book is very, very vulgar at times. If you are sensitive to certain language and situations, then this book is not for you. If you don't mind, then read it. You'll have a good laugh.

Friday, February 09, 2007


Wow, and thank you to everyone who donated! Thank you very much for helping out a fantastic organization. I will be sending out more formal Thank Yous to everyone who donated. Thank you, again.

The trip to Minneapolis was an eye opener. I experienced winter like never before, and it was cold. At one point, we drove over the Mississippi River and it was a solid sheet of ice, covered with snow. The landscape was white as the snow made the most delicious sound as you walked on it. It crunched beneath your feet and clings to your hat as you stand outside to take pictures of it, as proof that snow does exist and will last longer than a few hours. While I was outside taking pictures of this beautiful white stuff, I had a couple of people tell that this was not even a lot of snow. Boy, they should come down South for the winter, I thought.

I was fortunate enough to have Anniversary Sweater Part II with me to keep me nice and toasty under my coat. It was finished in a flurry the Saturday before the Super Bowl. I seamed my Saturday morning away and began the blocking by the afternoon. By the time I packed, it was dry and ready.

Anniversary Sweater Part II
Pattern: My own design
Gauge: 19 stitches over 4 inches (pre-blocking)
Needles: US size 9 Denise interchangeable set
Yarn: Cashmere Breeze by Tahki Stacy
Duration: Off and on since November 9, 2006

The yarn is a very lush, soft cashmere that halos just a tad when washed. The sweater expanded just a touch after blocking, but it was hardly noticeable. The sweater was a luxury to knit and is a luxury to wear. It is soft against your skin and is like wearing a warm hug. It is an amazing reminder of our anniversary and I'm very fortunate to have a guy who gives me gifts of yarn.

The pattern has a simple braided bottom and cuff. The body is stockinette with slight shaping. For the collar, I knitted a few rows of garter stitch so the focus would remain on the braided ribbing at the bottom.

As for anniversaries, I completely missed my Blogiversary! Life was busy and the event just past me by. The last year in the blogiverse has been grand! I've met some wonderful people and found new blogs and have an outlet for writing. I hope to continue blogging for a while and if anyone has suggestions on topics, please let me know.

Now, to look forward! I'm geared up for Project Spectrum 2.0! February and March are devoted to blue, white, and grey. I've pulled out an old UFO:

the blue quiviut yarn from Alaska,

and a new project:

a Green Gables in it's raw form.

My needles are jumping to get started.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Did you say -20?

I just got back from Minnesota a few hours ago and I have new posting fodder. I'm tired though, so I'll share a couple of very quick things.


This is a lot of snow to a Southerner. To those in Minnesota, this was nothing.

Secondly, it was -20 F, yes -20 F in Minnesota when we left the dear South for the long trip up north. Fortunately, it had warmed up to around -10 F by the time we landed. This was still a shock to someone (me) who was leaving behind temperatures of 41 F (notice no little negative sign in front of that number).

Finally, I'll have a new FO to post and the results of the prize drawing.

Talk to you guys soon!

Friday, February 02, 2007


For Eye Candy Friday, here is a little bit of proof that winter has arrived:

Our annual snow finally came last night while we were sleeping. To the merriment of my northern coworkers, the schools were closed due to the two inches of snow. For Southerners, 2 inches of snow is quite a lot.

I went hunting for prizes for the Hometeam Huddle Habitat for Humanity fundraising drive. It's not too late to click on the button on sidebar and make a donation. I'll be drawing from all the donors on Monday. Without further ado, the prizes:

Tahki Stacy Merino Yarn, Baby.

Trekking XXL Sock yarn

A copy of Sensational Knitted Socks

For those of you who are non-knitters, there will be a yummy Gift Certificate headed your way.

Thank you for your support in helping out a worthy cause.