Monday, December 22, 2008

In the movies

Oh how I am ready for my Christmas vacation to begin, not so much because work isn't going well (it is despite regular ups and downs), but because I have a lot of things to do and work is getting in the way. There hasn't been any Christmas baking at the house, there has been little Christmas decorating, there have been not Christmas cards sent out, and I'm slightly behind in Christmas shopping (only 6 days left, people!). The worst of it, I'm behind in holiday movie watching. Christmas is the only time of year were I love, love, love being glued to the T.V.

I love catching glimpses of Miracle on 34th Street (the original only please), Charlie Brown Christmas Special, and The Christmas Story among others. My love for Christmas movies really heightened when I became a knitter because there are some beautiful sweaters in these movies. For instance, check out the lovely thick stranded sweaters Ralphie wears in the Christmas Story. They have a classic vintage style to match the movie and make me wonder if I could ever get Little Clover into something like that before he grows too big. And of course, you can't forget the long striped stocking cap Schwarz wears. I know Little Clover refuses to wear one, I've asked.

Another great movie for sweater porn is the Santa Clause 2. The North Pole scenes are more extensive in this film than the first Santa Clause which means there are more Nordic sweaters, hats, gloves, and mittens. I love the sweaters Santa and the elves wear while at the North Pole. They are beautifully knitted with some simple and complex colorwork patterns. When Scott Calvin has to go back to St. Paul, MN to drive the plot of the film, his donns intricate cablework works of art. This is Little Clover's favorite holiday movie, so we watch it a lot. You can find me on the sofa with a glass of egg nog and the remote watching, rewinding, and rewatching just for the sweaters. This behavior no longer seems odd to my family.

A Christmas Vacation also has some pretty sweaters, as does Love Actually. Neither movie has many sweaters, but the ones in the films are appealing. The sweater Beverly D'Angelo sports when cooking has a great 80s look and the sweaters when Colin Firth are in Portugual are cozy lacking in high style.

Monday, December 15, 2008


From Irish Clover

What you see is a free range laptop. For the last few months, my laptop has been tethered to a power cable due to a faulty battery. On a bit of a whim, Italian suggested we visit Batteries Plus to see if they carried the battery for my laptop and for our cordless phones. I was skeptical and thought an entire store devoted to just batteries was kinda pointless, but agreed to at least give them a try. Now I think an entire store devoted to one thing is wonderful. Not only did they have the right battery, but they recycle them, too. Batteries Plus will be my LBS, local battery store. With my laptop venturing out beyond the office, I can show what we've done this week.

We've accomplished a lot the past few days. We finally finished putting up our Christmas tree. I can now sit back and enjoy the festive glow with a little bit of wine and A Christmas Carol playing in my ear. Having the tree up really sparks the Christmas mood and I'm finally getting into the spirit.
From Irish Clover

A Christmas Carol is also keeping me company while I knit away at the Noro sweater. Since it wasn't ready for Thanksgiving, I am aiming for Christmas.
From WIPs

Granted this is still just the back and the only piece I've knitted, but I think finishing the sweater within the next 10 days is doable. Really, it is. Right?

I've also made a big step in my commitment to eat food, not too much, mostly plants.
From Irish Clover

I cooked a very simple pork tenderloin, roasted on a bed of carrots and shallots, accompanied by mashed new potatoes and mashed roasted sweet potatoes. I love cooking, especially when the dishes are simple and uncomplicated, where the flavors of the foods shine. My plans are to keep cooking the rest of the week and not eat out or serve prepared foods. Tomorrow, we'll mix things up by serving breakfast for dinner.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


In the midst of the spinning, reading, and general not knitting, we've managed to squeeze in a couple of our standard Christmas traditions. This weekend, we kicked off the holidady season with the annual local production of the Nutcracker. I think this may be the last year we see the Nutcracker. As Little Clover grows older, the ballet is loosing some of the luster it had in the past, and as Italian summed it up, "he's a plot man." We still had a great time going to lunch before the show at a local Canadian themed restaurant, but I think next year will be the perfect time to find a new tradition better fitted to a growing boy.

After seeing the Nutcracker on Saturday, we headed out hunting for a tree at our locally owned urban garden center and did the urban equivalent of chopping down a tree. Basically, we pointed to one and said "we'll take that one." Little Clover did pick out a beautiful 15 footer right off the bat, and Italian and I then began the annual negotiations, trying to convince Little Clover that a 6 to 7 foot tree would be just as lovely. Plus, we found out this weekend that a 6 to 7 foot tree fits inside my car; yet, one more reason why I love the Honda Element.
From Irish Clover

Little Clover said he felt like he was riding home in front of a hole in a jet plane. I think he loved it.

As we've been slowing decorating the tree a little bit each night, I've been neglecting my knitting in favor of spinning. The Spinning Sundays sessions have been quite fun and productive. After plying up the purple tweed, I was motivated to continue spinning and wanted to try som new techniques. I originally pulled out a 2 pound bump of turquoise merino wool intending to spin it into a sport or dk weight sweater yarn because I need the practice in spinning bigger singles. At the same time, I also need practice on spinning skinny sock yarn singles and there is a bump of lusciously fun merino in my stash. Spinning sock yarn also requires I use the fast whorl for the very first time so I quickly tossed the turquoise back into my stash bin and pulled out the socks-to-be merino. Not only is spinning on the fast whorl very easy and fun, but the fiber warms me up with its hint of summer. Can you guess what the colorway is called?
From Yarn

Yep, Neopalitan. Yum.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Books galore

I've started spinning some new fiber and will show pictures later this week. I'm completely loving the new fiber and have been spinning more than knitting this week. My knitting though is still managing to get some attention. The Noro sweater is growing and the colors are just fun to watch. In the meantime, as the blog waits for yarny pictures, here are reviews on some books I've recently finished.

Book Reviews
In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I hungrily hunted for this book when I finally had a gap in my reading list. The bookstore only had one copy left and I'm glad I snatched it up. This book is different than the Omnivore's Dilemma . It does not explore food history, but instead, focuses on eating habits and how these habits impact health and enjoyment of food. Pollan tells you in the first paragraph the entire premise of the book, and then uses the remainder of the book to explain in depth what he means by "eat food, not too much, mostly plants," and how the Western diet goes against this philosophy. Reading this book renewed my commitment to healthy eating and how the time spent in preparing good meals is time well spent. If you enjoy food and love to eat, then this book is for you.

View all my reviews.

The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime, Book 2) The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars
After discovering Fforde a couple of years ago, I became an avid fan of the Thursday Next series. When the Jack Spratt mystery, The Big Over Easy came out, I downloaded the book, loved listening to it, and then bought a paper copy for my DH. DH actually brought The Fourth Bear home and was the first to read it. I enjoyed the book, just not as much as the Thursday Next series or the first Jack Spratt book. I'm not sure if my reduction in enjoyment is reading it after listening to characterization of Jack in the The Big Over Easy, but the Jack in this book a harsher than I originally expected and Mary Mary is not as strong as in the first book. I'm not sure what Fforde has in mind for Jack and Mary, but I will continue to read the Nursery Crime series.

View all my reviews.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

My review

rating: 4 of 5 stars
I gained an appreciation for Lincoln after reading Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell. This book seemed to be a logical next step and it did not disappoint. The narrative is engaging and the portrayal of Lincoln seems closer to completion than other books. The book could have gone into greater detail and left me wondering if portrayals on all the figures were as complete as they could be. The descriptions of the historical figures tended to be one sided and supported the author's views of the men and women.

View all my reviews.

Since the Christmas season is upon us, I've picked a Christmas book to read, The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore. I find Christopher Moore to be very amusing and funny author. He isn't for everyone, but if you enjoy fluffy dark humor, then give him a try.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Was there supposed to be knitting?

There has been woefully little knitting going on in my life. I'm ok with this, really I am, mainly because I've been filling the time I would have been knitting with spinning. I've been trying to implement "Spinning Sundays" which has resulted in my third full bobbin. The third bobbin was quite a surprise. After filling the bobbin on my wheel, I pulled the other full bobbin out of my spinning basket and then walked to the closet to retrieve my lazy kate, wishing I had enough fiber to spin a third bobbin because I prefer the look of a three ply over a two ply. I reached into the closet, pulled out the lazy kate and lo and behold! a third full bobbin was waiting for me on the kate ready to be plied! I danced a little.

Since no particular day of the week sounds especially snappy with the word "plying," I've been plying the last couple of days. The singles really do even themselves out with plying and I am getting better at analyzing the singles as they zoom through my fingers, knowing what I need to do to improve. I think the yarn will knit up nicely in a tweedy sort of way. I'm hoping I have enough to make a vest.

From Yarn

Plying is one of my favorite parts of spinning, mainly because it goes very quickly and because the end is in sight. Plus, Little Clover seems to always pick up and play with my niddy noddy while I have it out for winding the plied yarn. This time around, the niddy noddy was used as a pick ax while he sang the song "Look Down" from Les Miserable. It was a nice break from seeing him reenact every Sunday football highlight.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Thanksgiving Recap

The Thanksgiving holiday weekend is over and Christmas is quickly approaching (24 days, people!). We headed to the lake house again this year to partake in our regular holiday tradition of campfires and paintball, and we added a couple of new traditions as well. Stopping by Books a Million seems to be a new part of the trip since we stopped there last year to pick up some reading material for Little Clover and then we stopped in this year to pick up a book for Italian and me. Maybe next year we should just try packing better.
From Family

Xavier Guy came with us this year, and I think he rather enjoyed himself. He was a bit befuddled by the picture in front of BAM, but let it go as me just being a blogger. He quickly got into the mix of things with my family. I was a terrible hostess and failed to introduce him. Honestly, I see him all the time, so I just figured everyone knew everyone else. My family is big enough that knowing names is not expected, so he blended in just fine. He did join in our annual post Thanksgiving paintball tradition and headed out into the woods to try his hand at a little battle. Despite my cousin, Red Head #1, bailing on him twice because she ran out of air, Xavier Guy held his own and managed to come back to the campfire unscathed.

Little Clover being the pacifist that he is, contended himself with target practice, shooting tree leaves, soda cans, and a wine cork. He did venture out to watch the big cousins run amok in the woods, but felt no burning need to play. I sat by the fire the entire time knitting away on Italian's sock, managing to finish one.

From WIPs

The sock is the generic Wendy's Toe Up sock knit in Trekking XXL. I've forgotten how much I love Trekking XXL. The sock will be sturdy, yet comfy and soft. Italian tried it on and it seemed to fit him just right. It knitted up extremely quickly in straight stockingette, which yes, is a little bit on the boring side, but extremely portable. I've knitted this sock on the plane, in the car, in a dark movie theatre, while walking. With the holidays making life hectic, I think I'm going to really love the stockingette.

My knitting sparked stories about my great aunts who were avid knitters. I heard about them teaching one of my aunts how to crochet and knit and how they visited their own LYS every week, on the hunt for yarn. I have no idea what happened to their yarn or their needles, but I now have a few stories and shared memories to keep with me.

I shared with my family some of my memories of the things I loved about my childhood. I reminiscence about camping every weekend in Colorado when we lived there and how I ran through the wildflowers. I heard stories about my mom and what she was like, and I heard the story about my arrival to the States from the point of view of my family waiting by the airport gate. I was surprised by how many memories filled the air this past holiday and the sharing of the stories was more warming then the campfires that lit the conversations. I'm hoping one day, Little Clover will look back on the many things, both small and large, we have done as a family and smile.

I know this Thanksgiving will be a special one I will recall for many years. This was the year we watched "A Christmas Story" out on the deck under a night sky. Papa Clover set up a projector and a bed sheet and entertained us with a Fleetwood Mac concert until everyone arrived for the screening. We all huddled by a fire with blankets and coats to keep us warm. We popped popcorn and watched Little Clover play air guitar to Fleetwood Mac.
From Family

This was also the year Little Clover woke up before dawn to play Wii games with my dad on the screen left over from the previous night's movie screening. He watched the sun come up with my dad. Later when asked what his favorite part of the entire weekend was, he told me playing the Wii with Papa outside, adding one more memory to our collective story bank.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Thanksgiving marks one of my favorite times of the year. To me, it is the start of an entire season filled with traditions, good food, fellowship, and simplistic excitements. As preparation for the holiday season, I try to spend some time on Thanksgiving cataloging all the things for which I am grateful. I general keep this list to myself, for no real good reason, but this year, in a time of hardship, I think it would be nice to share the list.

I have to admit, my life is pretty blessed. "Blessed," I don't use that term very often, but it seems fitting. I remember the first time I actually rolled the word around in my mouth and seriously chewed on it as a way to describe my life. Italian, Little Clover, and I were grocery shopping. Little Clover was two months old and I had just recently lost my mom. A random lady approached our cart to tell us we had a beautiful baby and were a beautiful family. Italian and I smiled and replied, yep, we were pretty lucky. She in turn replied, no, we were blessed. What a short little seemingly inconsequential encounter in the produce aisle, yet her impact on my viewpoint has been profound. She was right, I do feel blessed for many reasons and I am grateful to her for pointing it out.

I'm blessed because I have a home. It's not the biggest or best decorated. A few things are in need of repair and some things are very outdated, but it is a home filled with people who love each other. We fill our house with lots of laughter, warm memories, small traditions, and a ton of snuggles and hugs.

I am blessed because I have a job, and not just any job, but one I actually like. I have food enough to eat, can keep my family warm, and have remainders to share.

I am blessed because I have a large extended family made up of blood relatives, people who have married into the crazy mass we are, and people who I've met along the way who are life long friends. I hope to let them all know how much I value them.

I am grateful for my blessings, small and large. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yarn on a plane

Each time I go to Minneapolis for work, I get a better taste of life up north, and this trip was a very different winter experience. I've been in Minneapolis when the high was -6(F) and the actual temperature was -20(F). I've been there and walked around downtown when the weather was around -10(F). The cold temperatures never bothered me and the snow was always beautiful. This trip though, there was no snow and a shockingly cold wind that stole the breathe out of your lungs the second you stepped outside, and it was only 30(F)! Not only was it cold, but people up there don't seem to really notice. I saw women walking around wearing heels with no stockings, let alone something reasonable like Mukaluks. People had on short sleeve shirts with nary a goose bump. Meanwhile, I'm wearing a quiviut scarf indoors with Bohus wristlets and I was still cold. I have a new found respect for everyone who lives north of the Mason-Dixon.

The trip up north did provide me with ample knitting time, especially on the plane where I zoomed through the majority of a foot for a man's sock. During long phone calls home to the boys, I finished up the foot of the sock. The flight back provided me with time to turn the heel and I shockingly worked on the leg while watching Bolt at the movies. For my first attempt at knitting in a dark movie theatre, I think I did okay.
From Irish Clover

The sock is progressing much, much faster than the sweater I wanted to wear over the Thanksgiving holiday. In order to maintain warmth, modesty, and sanity, I will pack other clothes to wear this upcoming weekend.
From Irish Clover

Since this is a picture of the only sweater piece I've been knitting, it is pretty safe to say that the sweater won't be ready for a while.

Oh, and I did find out what a "yarn forward," yfon (yarn forward and over needle), yfrn (yarn forward and 'round needle), and a yon (yarn over needle) mean! According to Knitting Help, they are all the same as a yo (yarn over), which is good, because that's how I was knitting it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Middle School

I came to a shocking realization this week that almost brought me to my knees. It all began innocently enough. I was talking to Papa Clover about Little Clover's upcoming play and was asked if this was the school Christmas play. I told my dad, "Nope, the elementary school does the Christmas play, the Middle School does the fall play." At this point, I stop and the words I just said slowly start to hit me. Little Clover is a Middle Schooler. I told my dad I was too young to be the mom of a Middle Schooler! He just laughed at me.

Little Clover did an awesome job during his play (well, it was more of a musical review). He was one of two kids with a solo out of three grades and his performance was adorable. He had the role of "bowler." At one point, he and his other bowling team mates turned as they sang and the back of their shirts spelt their mascot's name. Trust me when I say it was too cute.
From Irish Clover

We celebrated his stellar performance by taking him out to dinner and devoting our weekend to him. He decided to see Madagascar 2, which was fun and had knitting, and not just any knitting, but sock knitting. It was a rather subtle scene, but when the character produced a sock on knitting needles out of her bag, Little Clover and I cracked up! I'm sure the people around us were trying to figure out why we were laughing.

As for the knitting, I finished my convertible mitten caps and sewed them to the fingerless mitten part.
From Irish Clover

Then, I picked up a Noro sweater and knitted away before I realized I had absolutely no idea what they mean by "yarn front" and "yarn front around." I'm knitting pattern Y785 if there is anyone out there who knows what either of those mean, please let me know.
From 2008 Finished Objects

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Scenery and belated birthday

From 2008 Nov Fly Fishing

There are several things I love about my small part of the US. For starters, when I went to the voting polling station, I was greated with a little party. I walked over to the table to sign in and said hello to one of my neighbors, then I walked to the table to hand over my sign in card, and was shocked to hear them exclaim, "Yay! You made it! Hooray!! The last one is here!" Evidently, Mrs. Soprano, The Godfather, Xavier Guy, and of course, Italian all came to vote before me. The voting volunteers were thrilled to find out we were all related and they kindly asked if I had gotten over my cold. They made this voting experience one of the most memorable and enjoyable.

Then, we spread our wings this weekend and ventured out a bit to another favorite spot of ours, the Arkansas Ozarks, for a little fishing trip. The river remained too high for Italian and I to fish, so we followed a local guide and world class fly fisher to a small stream dedicated for fishers under the age of 16. Little Clover received some one on one time with the guide and by the end of the day, was quite the little pro. Italian and I loved watching him cast and hook each fish and the thrill of seeing them zoom off after being released tickled us all.
Yes, that is a trout, a very large trout. From 2008 Nov Fly Fishing

We also got to watch the trout run, which basically entails seeing several fish jump head on into a waterfall as they try desperately to jump up the waterfall back to their birthplace to lay eggs. When a trout actually made it up the waterfall, we cheered with genuine excitement.
Trout jumping from 2008 Nov Fly Fishing

I did take the fingerless gloves out for the trip since the temperatures were in the 40s during the day. My hands and finger bases stayed nice and toasty warm, but my fingertips were chilled to the bone. I'll knit a cap to make these convertible mittens. While camping, I did work on a few Christmas ornaments for the annual Festival of Trees. An organizer for a local charity sounded the alarm with the knitting groups I belong to. She didn't have enough for the warm knits themed tree. Although five is not nearly as many as I would have liked to finish for her, I hope they help.
From 2008 Nov Fly Fishing

Finally, I need to wish Nana Clover a belated birthday. Her birthday was last Tuesday, election day, and she was a bit under the weather. She is a woman who brings joy to many and who lights my dad's soul. Nana Clover, I hope you are feeling better and have celebrated your birthday in a proper way. I wish you a year of good memories and a year of happiness. We send our love to you and lots of hugs to wrap around you whenever you need one. Each day we are grateful to have you.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Vote, Bohus, Books

Today is election day in the US and if you haven't done so, please go out and vote today. Not only will this election be fun to watch, but this election is the first one I can remember in a long time where there were two strong candidates who are bringing people out to vote. Remember those who came before us, honor their memories and their sacrifices and exercise the right they fought so hard to win. Cast your ballot.

Now for something knitting relate, I vote for a cool front to sweep through because I have finally finished the Bohus wristlets from last year's Bohus knitting class with Susanna Hansson.

I'm actually glad I took a year off between the first wristlet and the second wristlet. My approach to the second wristlet was much calmer and confident. Although, still a challenge, the second one did not seem nearly as difficult as the first one. I also knit the second one a touch bit looser, so I think my stranding technique is getting better. I would say I'm ready to tackle something large, like oh, a Bohus sweater.
From 2008 Finished Objects

Pattern: Blue Shimmer - Part of the class

Finally, a little book review:
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Loved this book! The ending left me wanting more which is no small feat for an audible book of over 28 hours. The book is an investment of time, but an investment which will bring great returns. I found myself looking for excuses to be in the car or doing mindless activities so I could spend more time with the novel. It is essentially the story of two magicians in pre-Victorian England and their rise to fame, but it is more than just this story. It seems to be more of a compilation of short stories which share a common set of characters and interwoven plots. The footnotes alone are a pleasing read. I highly recommend this book, especially around Halloween. Oh, and the ending! This book has a truly fantastic ending!

View all my reviews.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Crazy Eyes

I have discovered the secret to terrifying young eyelashes!
From Irish Clover

This weekend, Little Clover and I attended his annual school Halloween party. He dressed as Annakin Skywalker (again), and I decided to get a little bit crazy and put on blue eyelashes. The reaction was more than I expected. Little Clover brought all of his friends around to gawk at my eyes. One little friend even exclaimed "Whoa! Those are huge!" Children stared at me in shock as they slowly backed away towards their parents in scary ghostly costumes. Parents I regularly see stopped in mid conversation because they just couldn't talk to me with my crazy eyes. Who knew that a little bit of colored nylon could cause such a stir.

Little Clover did have an awesome time running amok with his friends. He is officially a big kid now. When we attend these school parties and get togethers, he immediately attaches to his pod of friends and they gallavant about as a single unit without parents. They are all very good though with checking in with the parentals throughout the night (generally when they want someone to hold something or to feed them). The freedom to socialize is not just for Little Clover now. I've had the opportunity to get better acquainted with the other moms and dads. We generaly look to the ones with older children on how to get through this new milestone. They smile and tell us that when the kids hit college age, they come back. In the meantime, I'll hold Little Clover's jacket, his water, and hand him a dollar for concessions.

Oh, and I'll knit mittens, which are just as wonderful as handknit socks, but much faster to knit.
From Irish Clover

This is one of a pair of modified Pink Sonata mittens from Vogue Knitting. The are modified because I made a few changes and for a brief day, kept on knitting even though I didn't have the pattern with me.

For starters, the pattern calls for sock yarn knit on US size 2 needles. These pair of mittens are for fishing, so I wanted a denser fabric and knit them on size 0 needles and followed the pattern for the medium mittens. Since my row gauge would now be completely different, I increased for the thumb gussett every 4th row instead of every 3rd row and added a couple of extra rounds of knitting at the bottom and the top. Then, I just winged it when I got to the fingers. I'm curious to see what will happen if I follow the pattern.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Daily (Wonder)Bread

First, let me begin by wishing Mrs. Soprano a very happy birthday. Her special day was yesterday and I hope it was filled with all the warmth and love she sends out into the world coming back to bless her day.

For those who know me, you know I am a foodie, and despite setting the microwave on fire at a young age, having meals pre-made for me when my parents were away from home, and marrying a man who did all the cooking for our first year of marriage, I love to cook. When Italian finally convinced me that cooking and new foods are indeed fun, I ended up jumping into it with my typical voracity and began watching the Food Network, collecting cookbooks, subscribing to cooking magazines, and finally, reading non fiction works on food, the food system, and food economy; so when Michael Pollan was interviewed on Fresh Air, Italian naturally wanted to let me know.
The community garden in my dad's neighborhood

Pollan, author of Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food, recently authored an open letter to the Presidential Candidates request a reevaluation of our food system for the sake of health and national security. If you have never read any of his work, this is a great time to be introduced to him and reintroduced to your food. In his letter and interview, Pollan encourages us to become more engaged in our food process and what it is doing to our economy, our environment, and our bodies.
Small tomatoes from the community garden

I think one of the things I love most about Pollan's works is his focus on quality food and enjoyment of food. He's approach is not preachy, but matter of fact, and he takes takes some of the polarizing undertones out of the food argument. There are not moral justifications of eating meat or not eating meat, but there is a strong focus on eating local and building a food community. The eat local movement, or otherwise know as sustainable food cultures, strives to bring the community back together by emphasizing something we all have in common, eating. I kinda like his description of the eat local movement as culinary home schooling. So set the table, find local sources of food, and share a meal and conversation. Happy Friday.

(Oh, I also finished a sweater! Woo, hoo!)
From Irish Clover

Pattern: Green Gables
Yarn: Malibrigo Merino Silk
Notes: I have no idea what I did, but I did something truly wacky. I knit this sweater twice, once in the size 36 and then in the 38 size. The difference between the two sizes was close to 8 inches, not the two inches it should have been. The 38 fits better, but has more ease than I like, but at least I can get it on without it turning into a halter top. I had serious 80s flashbacks.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Me: Hey, kiddo, how was the book fair at school?
LC: Great! They had lots of books and neat stuff.
Me: Did you get what you wanted?
LC: Kinda. They were out of red soccer pens, so I got an orange one and I'll just pretend that it was red and faded. I did get little iPod ear thingies.
Me: Oh, I quite like those.
LC: They were out of $100 bill erasers, so I got two fifties.
(This is the point were I choke on the laugh that almost escaped my lips.)

It has been a week of flashbacks for us at Clover Field. First, sock weather has finally hit the Delta and I was thrilled to be wearing my once again complete Widdershins. I'm not sure how many times I wore them before I lost a sock, but with some luck, this time they'll stick around as a pair a little bit longer. Knitting a third sock was actually good for me. I gained a much, much better grasp on the construction of a toe-up heel flap sock and could knit another pair with more confidence and a better understanding. I don't want to knit three socks all the time, but every once in a while doesn't seen too bad.

From Irish Clover

In addition to the Widdershin flashback, I'm still chugging away at my second attempt at Green Gables. Even though I am only knitting one size up, which should be a difference of two inches, this Green Gables is close to eight inches more in circumference and requires one more entire ball of yarn than my first attempt. I held it up against me last night and it does look like it will be a much better fit. Little Clover looked at me and said, "Mama, you need to keep knitting. That won't even cover your belly." I'll take his advice and work on it for another night or two.

From Irish Clover

The week wasn't limited to just knitting flashbacks, but also to a personal one. My college roommate came into town to attend one of our professor's jubilee celebration for his 50 years as part of a religious order. He was our theatre professor, so a few other former cast members were also present. Professors we hadn't seen in ten years still new our names and greeted us with warmth. We had a chance to catch up and reminisce, talking about our old plays and performances. Then, we had the luxury of seeing our old performance space, recently renovated. A new floor had been installed and some new drapes and panelling were added. The seating space was improved, but the stage still brought back a wealth of memories. Finally, when it was obvious we had been there long enough, we posed for one last cast photo.

From Irish Clover

Who knows if I'll ever act again, but I can smile knowing I have a few years of enjoying Little Clover's performances and the memory of a very cute guy who brought out the actor in me (yep, that's Italian in the photo).

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Veni vidi vici

(or, "Honey, toga up!")

It was a victorious weekend for Little Clover. He had his last soccer game Sunday, and the tension was thick as he and his undefeated team entered the field to face off the only other undefeated team in his league. Not only were the two teams undefeated, but Little Clover's coach's son was playing for the other team. After spending the entire season playing for two teams, the coach's son had to play against his dad. One team would walk away, still undefeated, while the other would have a long ride home.

Little Clover, the future diplomat that he is, tried to negotiate a tie. The ref would have none of it, so the game began and the two teams played hard. Both teams scored one goal each in open play, but our team managed to score one extra penalty shot. With each goal Little Clover made, he held his arms out like an airplane and zoomed across the field, just like he has done since he was truly little. The best part of this season is not really being undefeated (although it is nice) but rather, Little Clover's oblivion to how much his scoring helped his team. When he was asked who has scored the most goals, he genuinely replied, "My team has." I, being the proud mama bird, will easily tell you, my baby scored more than half of the team's goals. I think, his response is better.

I should probably explain the subtitle of today's post. Italian and I had the pleasure of spending some time with our neighbors Saturday. In college, I began thinking of what kind of neighbors I wanted and what would adult life be like. The vision of close knit neighbors who actually hang out together seemed to be a nice idea but also, slightly antiquated. Italian and I found our current neighborhood a few years ago and began to notice more and more houses popping up for sale. The buyers were couples close to our age, mostly with small kids. This looked like it had potential.

Our neighbors have had small social gatherings a few times and for one reason or another, we were never able to make it, until this weekend. When The Pilot and The Pilot's Wife coordinated a progressive dinner, we were thrilled to actually be in town. Now, for the catch, it was to be a progressive toga party, and yes, I have pictures.
From Irish Clover

Everyone was a great sport, wearing togas and embellishments. We walked from house to house with each course, ending at Clover Field for desserts of tiramisu and panna cotta. I can only imagine the looks we must have gotten traipsing through our yards and streets.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Rip it up

This weekend was going to be a weekend of finishing. It was also going to the weekend when the Cubs pulled through an amazing comeback. Neither happened, not really. I did finish the third Widdershin sock, and I must say, I'm glad I knitted a third sock in this pattern. I have a full pair again and a better understanding of the toe-up sock construction. Plus, knitting one sock instead of two is super fast and was good for my ego (look, ma! a pair of socks in just two weeks).

After casting off the Widdershin and weaving in the ins, a black dark cloud appear on the horizon. The Cubs began to complete blow their post season series, then, I finished knitting the Green Gables sweater and it looked extremely small. I tried it on and the sweater was more of a crop top, stretched to its capacity. I flung it off in disgust and frogged the damn thing. I hunted desperately for a new pattern, just so I could say I completed the Green Gables, but nothing really spoke to me for this particular yarn. I gave myself the chance to settle down and later that night, while reveling in Little Clover's stellar soccer wins (He scored 4 of his teams 7 goals across two games), I poured myself some wine and casted on. This sweater better be comfy.
From Irish Clover

Friday, September 26, 2008

i love you period

Since Wednesday was National Punctuation Day and I completely missed the opportunity to celebrate it, I felt like a failed English major and wanted to make amends by providing a bit of work without punctuation. Behold! A poem by e.e. cummings.

when god lets my body be
by e e cummings

when god lets my body be

From each brave eye shall sprout a tree
fruit dangles therefrom

the purpled world will dance upon
Between my lips which did sing

a rose shall beget the spring
that maidens whom passions wastes

will lay between their little breasts
My strong fingers beneath the snow

Into strenous birds shall go
my love walking in the grass

their wings will touch with their face
and all the while shall my heart be

With the bulge and nuzzle of the sea

(The Literature geek in me loves e.e. cummings)

I'm not exactly sure when my love for words and art and design took hold, but at some point in my life it did. I can think of few better examples of the combination of these three elements than Italian's subscriptions to Popular Woodworking and Woodworking. When these magazines are delivered, it's usually a bit of a mad dash to see who can get it first. He likes the pictures, I want it for the articles.

These two magazines share an editorial staff and a common style. The writing is eloquent, their designs are timeless, and their approach focuses on quality. These same characteristics used to be present in what was once my favorite knitting magazine, but which, sadly is becoming less and less enjoyable. Interweave Knits has undergone a layout change and although it still has many very nice patterns, I'm not sure I like the new direction. The new layout seems to focus more on fashion and themes without articles to support themes or techniques. There is already a knitting magazine on the market with a focus on fashion and if I wanted that, I would subscribe to the competitor. Instead, when I began knitting again, I chose Interweave Knits because it seemed to focused on the knitting, the techniques, the designs, the craft. It was a smart knitters' magazine which made knitters smarter in their craft. The patterns seemed to support a knitters journey as well through the craft with great articles on technique and history.

This direction and focus on the craft is waning, being replace by what seems to be a focus on clothing. If I wanted a fashion magazine, I'd subscribe to one. What I want is a knitting magazine that will advance me as a knitter and provide me with years of classic timeless well made designs and technical articles that will make me better at what I do.

Today's blog title is the song "I love you period" by Dan Baird

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Saturday in the Park

Every year, my town's historic commission holds a heritage day at one of the oldest brick houses in the town. The historic John Gray house, built in the very early 1800s, is opened to the public for guided tours and demonstrations and booths are set up. A lady sat and tatted, a gentleman cooked outside in a Dutch Oven, a storyteller was on site to entertain the children, and I demonstrated spinning. Quite a few people had never seen anyone spin before. I think I was just as shocked by their reaction to the spinning encounters as they were with having one. Several people of all ages were just amazed to see a spinning wheel. Some people had no idea what I was doing at all nor what I was making. When asked what I was doing and what I do with what I make, they were just as surprised to hear I knit. I think most people just assumed I would weave with the "thread" (as they called it) and were a bit befuddled when I said I knit.

From Irish Clover

One of the best reactions I received was from a little boy who was close to Little Clover's age. He was walking by all the demonstrators with a definite purpose in his stride and without sparing them a glance. He walked right by me, stopped, walked backwards to me, stopped, watched me for just a few seconds, and then exclaimed, "Oh, now that is just too cool!" Then, he kept on walking. I had to chuckle at his pronouncing spinning as "cool." Spending my Saturday afternoon spinning in a park was definitely a pretty cool way to pass the time.

Knitting progress was not lost this weekend with the focus on spinning. Although, I did tuck away the Widdershin Sock and the Green Gable sweater. Instead, a knitted iPod sock received my attention. It's to keep my new toy nice and warm.

From Irish Clover

Nano 4th Gen Sock
Irish Clover Design
Yarn: Left over sock yarn
Needles: 1.75 mm (US size 00)
Gauge: I didn't knit a swatch, it would have taken longer than the sock

Cast on 40 stitches (I used the long tail cast on) and distribute evenly across 4 needles. Join for knitting in the round.

The basic
*Knit 1, purl 1* repeat across all stitches until sock is 4.5 inches (11.5 cm) long. After completing the last round, distribute the stitches across 2 needles, with 20 stiches on each needle. Using Kitchner stitch, join all stitches together and weave in the ends.

The cable
*Knit 1, purl 1* repeat across all stitches until 4 rows of ribbing are complete.

Cable Rows
Round 1-4: Knit 2, purl 2, repeat
Round 5: *Knit 2 together, but do not slip off any stitches. Knit into the back leg of the second stitch on the left hand needle (part of the knit two together). Now slip off both stitches. Purl 2* repeat to end of round.

Repeat rounds 1-5 until the sock is 4.5 inches (11.5 cm) long. After completing the last round, distribute the stitches across 2 needles, with 20 stiches on each needle. Using Kitchner stitch, join all stitches together and weave in the ends.
From Irish Clover

(Oh, and the iPod, it rocks. The slim design takes a bit of getting used to, but it is sleek and compact. The video resolution is quite remarkable and the shake to shuffle feature is truly pretty cool.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Cowboys and Pirates

Let's face it. Show progress on miles of stockingnette just isn't exciting, especially when progress is slow. I've only been able to knit a few rounds a day on the sweater and not much more on the sock, so today, you will have cowboys and pirates.

Little Clover began horseback riding lessons this week. His joy poured out in the form of unending chatting and the desperate need for cowboys boots and a hat. I took him shopping. He settled on a pair of black boots with a little bit of gold on the toe. He donned them with a swagger and walked about the store, completely enamored with the look.
From Horse

When it was time for his actual lesson Wednesday, I heard he loved it. He learned the names of the equipment used and helped get the horse reading for riding. Then he learned the basics of riding. Finally, his lesson ended with washing the horse. He's the cutest cowboy I've ever seen.
From Horse

And how do pirates fit in? Well, because today is Talk like a pirate day! So pull out your eye patch, matey, poor a glass of grog, and dust of ye parrot. I bring to ye a few lines of pleasure from the smallest mate, Li'l Clover.

What do pirates do when they are together?
They arrrrrrgue.

What's a pirates favorite thing in the sky?

And one final bit o' fun from the Capt Xavier Guy of the Flagship Scion
A pirate walks into a bar. He has an eye patch, a pirate hat, a parrot on his shoulder and a steering wheel hanging from the zipper of his pants. He goes to the bartender and orders a pint of the finest ale. The bartender pours the pint, hands it to the pirate, stares at the steering wheel before finally saying, "I have to ask, what's with the wheel?" The pirate looks at the bartender and replies, "Argh, that. Well, that be driving me nuts."

Happy talk like a pirate day!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Homeward bound

This weekend, I went home for a much needed trip. I haven't seen my family in a long time and the drive across the state would be good for the soul. I love road trips. Of course, being on a trip means packing knitting. My creativity hasn't fully recharged yet from the brain numbing weeks at work, so nothing but miles of stockingnette are on my needles. I'm knitting a replacement sock for the one Widdershin I've lost. I have no idea where the missing sock could be, but I'm sure the washing machine ate it. I just hope the washer doesn't develop a taste for handknits. I've dubbed the project Widdershins III because it is a third sock. At least I don't have to worry about second (fourth?) sock syndrome.
From Irish Clover

A lovely mostly stockingnette Green Gable nestled into my knitting bag next to the Widdershin III. I'm knitting it in a luscious Malibrigo silk and wool blend which my LYS scored before the awful Malibrigo warehouse fire. This is my first experience with Maligrigo and it is yummy. I can't wait to wear this ultra tangible yarn.
From Irish Clover

All the stockingnette must have been what my knitting soul needed. By the end of the trip, as I drove home, my thoughts began to turn to lace. The simple knitting and the trip home was just what I needed.

Home. What a simple word, yet, still slightly complicated. As I prepared for the trip, the idea of going home struck me as extremely odd. Here I am a woman in my 30s with a family and a full time job who has lived in the same city for the last 14 years; and I was excited about going "home," to the place where I grew up. I have officially lived longer in my current city in the delta than the place where I went to grade school and high school, yet the city where I was small will always be home. What struck me even more was the realization that Little Clover will probably always call the delta home and this is one of many ways in which his differences as an individual is obvious. He will hold a fondness for our town I could never have. Our thoughts of home, in regards to a place, will be somewhat out of sync.

Fortunately, I think memories filling our homes will be more closely aligned. We had one of those nights last night that will dwell in my memory at least. Our evening as a family consisted of Italian and Little Clover playing for a while, then us sitting down to dinner together. We told stories of our weekend and exchanged jokes and banter as we shared our meal. Then, as the evening drew to a close, Italian and I shared an a few moments with a new Nina Simone cd, some wine, and some dancing. These simple ordinary events really are what define a home.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Knock knock

From Irish Clover

I love joke books for little people. Really I do. We just spent this evening reading listening to Little Clover read us jokes as Italian and I laughed and inhaled sushi in our mirth. As we listened to jokes told to us by a 9 year old, I couldn't help but think "these jokes are great for explaining grammar mistakes and philosophical fallacies" (because I am that big of a nerd). Yes, it was good times at dinner tonight.

The humor at dinner was much needed after the last couple of weeks. It is good to finally be out of the woods of sickness and work, and I plan on making the most of it with the family, jokes and all. I started making amends to Italian and Little Clover this weekend. Because Little Clover's birthday was not celebrated in a manor that is proper for children, I promised him we'd celebrate all of September. We kicked things off with a hibachi dinner Friday. Since our trip to Japan in Epcot, Little Clover has decided hibachi restaurants are the best. Then Saturday, we went to our annual town festival. This one of the highlights of Little Clover's year. He even has a bit of a routine whenever we go. We have to stop and try out the rubber band guns. Then, he stays in the petting zoo for 40 minutes while Italian and I sip a cool beer.
From Irish Clover

Then, it is off to the inflatable rides and games. I tried out the rock wall.
From Irish Clover

The weather remained sunny and beautiful and it wasn't too hot to be out for a festival. Italian and I even rode our bikes to the festival the next day. Although we missed the annual "Running of the Weenies" weiner dog race, we still managed to have a good time eating festival food and scoping out the vendors.

After the rest and relaxation, the knitting even came out to spend some time with me. I didn't realize just how close I was to finishing the Shaped Tee. It only needed some seaming before it ceased to be knitting and became a sweater.

From Irish Clover

Pattern: Shaped Tee from Knitting Lingerie Style; also know as Krista on White Lies Design
Notes: This was the oddest pattern I've ever knitted, but not because of construction or even the pattern instructions. Overall, the pattern itself is very easy to follow and quite pretty. The oddity of it lays in the sizing. I originally began by casting on the number of stitches required for the 38 in finished sweater. After knitting well past the armholes of the back, I held up the sweater to my frame and realized my instinct was correct, there was no way this sucker was going to fit around my back. I laid it back down and measured across the knitted to piece to discover it was 14 inches across way too small for a 38 inch size.

The back was frogged and promptly reknitted two sizes up. After finishing the back, I decided I didn't like the armhole instructions for the size I was knitting, so I knitted the armholes for the medium size. Then, ripped back the back to the armholes to reknit it to match the front. Then I ripped the sleeves for the two smallest sizes. So I guess I knitted a small-medium-extra large top. At least it looks nice.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Hello? Is there anybody out there

Dear readers who are left after my long hiatus,

I am very sorry for the long silence. Life has gotten the best of me the last few weeks. Work has consumed much of my life which is odd because when I first became gainfully employed as a college graduate, I vowed never to work long hours and to keep time at home strictly my own. Oh, how things have changed, especially when you enjoy (for the most part) your job, work for a company who does good (for the most), you feel as if you are making a difference in the lives of people (generally for the good), and you have probably the best boss ever (I sincerely mean this). So what are long days? Nine to ten hours in the office, plus an additional two to four at home on weekdays and working a few hours on weekends and holidays. Other than a brief three hour time period while traveling, I have not knitted Since August 20. There is an upside to all this working, my family really misses me (and the job I do at home, you should see how much laundry has piled up).

To add insult to injury, a bout of bronchitis hit me and stayed relatively mild, until Little Clover's birthday when my body had enough and forced me to rest and stop working. This meant though that I missed my baby's birthday since laying woefully on a sofa with a high degree fever hardly constitutes "being involved." The bronchitis was bad enough for me to let my mother-in-law clean my house, to which I am very grateful!

Now, this is the part where the blog begins to sound like a country western song, oddly appropriate seeing as I am from Tennessee. Spot, our wonderful family yellow lab was discovered to be infected with heartworm and had to stay in the doggie hospital for a couple of nights while getting treatment. We were all very worried about our poor Spot and a few tears were shed. I was especially worried about the state he would be in when we picked him. Let me tell you that if I ever have to undergo treatment involve toxic chemicals being forced into my body, I hope I leave the treatment with as much joy and energy as Spot did. He's home and doing great.

In case you may be wondering if anything good happened while the blog was silent, there was sunshine in Clover Fields the past couple of weeks. For starters, we took some time out to celebrate my birthday with beer, bbq, and baseball.
From Irish Clover

I got some tickets for our local baseball team from work and some friends and family gathered for a small little celebration. It was grand.

Then, there was Little Clover's birthday. He's getting old now. This is his last year in single digits and I must admit I'm heartbreaken about it. He's a different kid this year. He is confident and decisive and collective. He has a grasp on life and has seized it with zest and joy. He's laugh is richer with the experience of his last eight years. He is blossoming into his own person and has begun challenging me with logic and arguments. I love it! He brings me to task when he disagree and he is armed with facts. You can sometimes find us both on Google researching our positions on very important matters of contention such as the ages of the Jonas Brothers. He loves his school and teacher and there is no hint of the math anxiety that was once present. In fact, he claims he is a math whiz, and he is right. He is become him and it is an amazing thing to watch. I told him that since I was miserably missing from his birthday this week, we would make September and entire celebration to him, so watch for the fun. Thanks to all those who have stuck with me. I appreciate you more than you can know. Oh, and I promise, there will be knitting.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Today's post will be a compilation of random thougths.

First random thought:
As Fay rains down on the Sunshine State of Florida, the weather she brings is slowing making it's way north and has hit the Delta. The days have been gray and cool with lots of rain and small occasional pockets of sunshine. To cope, I have a secret weapon at work. My work office is located across the street from the main building where they keep the Starbucks. I love having a cup of coffee in the afternoon, but the rain hinders my desire to run across the street, so I keep coffee at my desk and this:

A nice mini French press. It is a lifesaver. I've had it for a few months and bought it on pressured impulse. I say "pressured impulse" because I loved it the moment I saw it but wouldn't buy it because I didn't need it. After staring it during multiple visits to the local Starbucks, Italian finally told me to just go ahead and buy the damn thing. I'm glad he did! I've used it several times at work and it's been a great little pick me on gray days. It's even been a little pick me up for coworkers who have stopped by for a much needed break.

Where the mini French press has helped me cope at work, my knitting has often been a coping mechanism outside of work. The watermelon socks helped me cope with long lines at Disney and the Shaped Tee helped with the flight. Sometimes, though, the knitting backfires, like when you realize the armhole shaping in the Shaped Tee is just too deep and really needs to be ripped out and reknitted, which is what I did.

I may have lost some progress, but at least the shirt should fit a bit better when it is finally finished. As for finishing, I did finish the front, as well as a pair of socks.

Pattern: Diagonal Cross Rib from Favorite Socks
Needles: Knit Picks US size 0 (which I still do not like because of the weight.
Yarn: Custom dyed sock yarn in the colorway Watermelon
Notes: This yarn has gotten the most comments from people, both knitters and no-knitters. It's fun to knit because the yarn is just too cute and looks like watermelons. It also reminds people of Christmas. The pattern is quite easy to follow and makes a nice comfy sock. The pattern works well with striping yarn as well.