Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Friday, December 31, 2004


Last night I went to bed in Wisconsin. You know, a foot of snow on the ground, coats bundled tight, frozen tundra, all of that. When I woke up this morning, I had no idea where I was. All of the snow was gone, and left behind was that brownish greenish gooey grassy stuff that you can't walk on, and don't even like to look at. Is is spring already? Did I totally sleep in, for say, three months without even waking up to go to the bathroom? Is this what happens when all of the children surprisingly leave for sleepovers on the same night? Is this some kind of weather retribution for being allowed to watch whatever I damn well pleased on TV last night without hearing, "When does this end?" It's 46 degrees outside at 9:30 in the morning. HUH?

My final list of twenty "things" about me:

81. I don’t like winter. ( How funny. I wrote this a long time ago and it ends up being posted in Winter on a day when the temperature will get over 50 degrees. I like the warm temperature today, but it's creepy)
82. I have asthma, and it is difficult to breathe in winter.
83. I love British television, movies, food, candy, etc. It reminds me of New Zealand.
84. I started going grey before I turned 18.
85. I am now 35 years old and I have been coloring my hair for 3 years.
86. Before I started coloring my hair, I looked like a witch, I was especially grey near my ears, and when I pulled my hair back, I had grey streaks. YUCK!
87. I can’t wear lipstick because I bite it off.
88. I can’t wear fingernail polish because I pick it off.
89. I don’t like jewelry, except for rings.
90. I am not very feminine, except for my fiber related hobbies. (Less feminine hobbies include rustic camping, canoeing, fishing)
91. Billy Joel is one of my favorite singers. He was my favorite even in high school when it was really uncool to like him.
92. I love swing music and jazz music.
93. I love anything related to the 1930’s.
94. I love big cities, but I live in a village of 900 people. I would love to move, but the children have a good school and good friends. Moving would also mean cleaning the house.
95. I always wanted three children.
96. I have two wonderful daughters.
97. I have endometriosis, and I haven’t been able to have another child for 5 years.
98. I love my husband more than he knows.
99. I met my husband at work while I was in college. He was my boss. I thought that if I married him I would get a better work schedule and/or a raise. I didn’t get either.
100. I love being a wife and a mother.

The end of a year brings about the typical reflections of what the New Year will hold, what I hope to do, and all of that. Sorry list haters... today's post is a list-a-doozy!

For 2005 I hope:
  • My husband finds a full time job. Not for the sake of the money (although it will make life better), but for his sake. The man needs to be employed again for his own sense of well being. He has been job hunting for over a year now. The market is flooded with counselors. SHAMELESS PLUG: If your school district needs an awesome school counselor, call. Seriously, he is great. We are more than willing to move for new jobs.
  • To do a lot of camping. In the canoe, on a river, in the Boundary Waters, national campgrounds, state forests, road trip, just CAMP!
  • To follow through with my swimming. First meet is January 16, 2005 in Oconomowoc, WI. (Pronounce that one if you are not a Wisconsinite!)
  • DH and I finally get more healthy - both eating and moving. We don't "diet". I promised myself as a child I would never go on a diet after watching my mother starve herself time and time again only to put all of the weight on again plus more. I'm into lifestyle changes. We gave up all red meat for three years, to lower DH cholesterol and it worked. Sort of. Then his kidney stones made our food choices even more difficult, so we started red meat again. Now I'm trying the South Beach lifestyle change. It is Day 2, would someone give me a BIG PIECE OF BREAD PAAALLLLEEEEZZZZ?
  • The last thing I hope is that my children be happy, have friends, and enjoy life. I hope the same for you!

Happy New Year everyone!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Get It Done, Already!

I was going to finish it last week, before Christmas. I was going to finish it before Tuesday. I was going to finish it yesterday. It's still not done, but it will be done today. Only one row, cast off, then felt and the last pair of clogs are done (except for the pair I will make for me, and they can be done whenever).

Today is "The Day to get Stuff Done" day in my house. I need to observe a student teacher tape and write up the comments, buy a snowblower, visit the library to return CDs and books, finish the clog, pay property taxes, make New Year's Eve plans, watch my daughter at swim practice, have my own swim practice, and do some grocery shopping. BUSY!

The yarn shop didn't have 2-ply anything, so I'm stuck with this 4-ply yarn for my Latvian Mittens that has a gauge of 7 stitches per inch when I need 9 inches... this on size 1 needles. Maybe I will check my gauge for size 0 needles. I know I have some. Cross your fingers.

Here's my list of twenty for the day:

61. I traveled with the Auckland Youth Symphony for a tour of New Zealand's South Island. My home for the year was in Auckland on the North Island, so this gave me a chance to see most of the country. The next year (after I had returned to the US) the symphony toured Australia. Drats!
62. I have been back to New Zealand once since I lived there. That was in 1989.
63. I can’t wait to get back there.
64. I still have a good friend from New Zealand, and we talk all of the time (Hello, Sharon!)
65. Musical talent runs in my family.
66. It comes from both sides of my family.
67. I was always very competitive with my brother about music. He is good at improvisation, and I am good at arranging. We wrote and arranged one song together on the piano. I didn't write the whole thing down and now I don't remember it.
68. He still plays, but I don’t. He plays flute, bassoon, and every type of saxophone. He has regular gigs for his one man band, and plays in some local jazz bands. He doesn't play the piano as well as I do.
69. Everyone wants me to join the local symphony and play my violin again.
70. I’m not sure that I want to.
71. My feet are always cold.
72. I like to have a hot water bottle in bed with me. For years, people thought I was nuts because I used a hot water bottle. A couple of years ago hot water bottles started popping up at Marshall Field’s as Christmas gifts. Who’s nuts now?
73. I first used a hot water bottle in New Zealand, and used one almost every night.
74. I am very sentimental.
75. I am the most un-athletic person you will ever meet.
76. I am only good in individual sports.
77. I was on the swim team in high school, and did ok.
78. I will join the Wisconsin Masters Swimming for adults and plan to swim in my first meet on Jan. 16, 2005.
79. I love rainy days.
80. I love thunderstorms. There was a terrible storm during my entire wedding ceremony. Many people felt sorry for us, but I thought it was perfect! After 131/2 years of marriage, people still bring up that storm.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Another shopping day

So, today we are off to my MILs for her birthday. First we stop at the clinic for my husband's blood draw and then we feed him (he hasn't been able to eat since yesterday). He has an annual physical in a week. Three years ago just before Christmas he had a heart attack. It was terrible. I was an awful wife. I didn't believe that it was happening and I should have known better. My father had had more than 13 heart attacks and was even put into a medical records book because of this (it was unusual for someone in the 1970's to survive so many). Often, as a 5 or 6 year old, I would be home alone with him while he had them and would have to call 911. Our city was the first in the nation to have 911. I have always prided myself on knowing what a heart attack looks like. One day, many years ago, we went to visit my MIL and FIL, my MIL looked grey and was clutching her chest. I said she was having a heart attack. She said she wasn't. I ran right for the phone and called 911. Turned out she was. The entire family was grateful because if we hadn't shown up when we did, they would never have called for help and who knows what would have happened. I know what heart attacks look like, but my DH didn't look like he was having one. So I refused to wake up the girls at 11:00pm to take him to the ER after I had offered to take him to the ER earlier that night when they were awake. It was a school night. He refused to go by ambulance. The next morning I finally took him in, thinking he was having another allergic reaction to the new medicine he was on (he had had several a week earlier, and they had the same symptoms). I actually dropped him off at the corner near the hospital so that I could go to work. I had missed so much school with all of us fighting illnesses more days than not that December. At school, my friends told me to get out of there and finally I realized that I should be at the ER with him. I wanted to die when I found out he had had a heart attack the night before. I'm so lucky he still speaks to me after this. I am thankful every day. My dad had his first heart attack at age 31 and died at age 48 from a heart attack. DH had his first (and hopefully only) heart attack at age 38. History will not repeat itself. Sorry about this brief diversion.... heart problems will always scare me and cause me to blabber on and on.

After our visit with my MIL and FIL, we will go off to the yarn shop and get the last skein for the clogs, and I need to find better yarn for the mittens. I bought a 4-ply and it is WAY to thick for the needles. I'm tempted to try it with larger needles first to see if I can get the gauge (I know I won't be able to) because I really don't want to buy more yarn. Can you believe I said that? It's the cheapskate in me.

Here are my "things" for the day:

41. I love to read.
42. I read at least 10 children’s books each school year to keep up with what is popular for my students.
43. I only read adult novels during the summer (unless Nicholas Sparks or Maeve Binchy publish a new one during the school year, then I make an exception)
44. When I was a kid, I hated reading.
45. My children both love to read and they don’t know that I didn’t like it as a child.
46. I would rather paint a wall than wash it.
47. I’m terrified of the dark. My husband didn't believe me about this when we first met UNTIL he took me up to his family's cottage on the lake in winter when no one was there and turned off the lights. It was black. I screamed like no one had ever heard, sobbed, and begged him to turn on the lights. I screamed at him to turn them on. The lights were only out for 10 seconds, and I had a major meltdown. He believes me now.
48. I don’t like spiders.
49. Daddy long leg spiders are cool.
50. My favorite color used to be white.
51. Because white is not a color, I had to pick a different favorite color.
52. I don’t have a favorite color now. Well, I do like purples and denims.
53. I have owned only stick-shift cars and I will never buy anything but a stick-shift. It gives my brain something else to think about while I drive and they handle better in winter.
54. I taught my husband how to drive a stick-shift.
55. I play the violin very well and the piano not so well.
56. I played the violin for 15 years until my oldest daughter was born. In fact, I played while I was pregnant with her, and to this day she loves classical music.
57. Because I played in symphonies, I got to travel a lot.
58. I have traveled to many other countries. Once to El Salvador in 1979 as a family vacation (during their civil war - we never let our mother forget that one. What was she thinking?), New Zealand twice (see #59 below), Germany three times (once with the symphony and twice with my family), Austria and Switzerland (traveled through with brief one or two day stops), Ireland (a layover, but it still counts in my book!), England, Canada, and Mexico.
59. I lived in New Zealand for a year as an exchange student in high school. It was the absolute best experience of my childhood, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
60. One thing I will spend money on without wincing is travel. But I will make the trip as inexpensive as possible while still doing everything and seeing everything we want.

Till tomorrow!

Oh, by the way... BLOGROLL ME!

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

It's all About ME!

Still knitting Christmas clogs. The last pair for my husband should have been finished... well we won't go there. It doesn't look like I will have enough wool to finish them today, so tomorrow we will have to stop at the LYS near my MIL's house. Tomorrow is her birthday, so we will be in town anyway.

Yesterday I took my Christmas money and bought the Latvian Mitten book I've been drooling over for months. I had enough money to get the wool I need for that, too. What a shame that I will have to put down the clogs to start the mittens (squeaking out a tear here).

Here are 20 more things about me:

21. I love to go camping.
22. I love to go canoe camping without electricity, plumbing, or running water.
23. I like cats.
24. I don’t like dogs.
25. We have two cats and one dog.
26. Both of the dogs I have owned in my lifetime have peed and pooped all over the floor. The dog we have now has forced us to remove all of the carpeting in our finished basement because of this.
27. I hate Christmas, well preparing for Christmas anyway. After all of the presents are wrapped and under the tree, I love it.
28. I love Thanksgiving – no gifts. Only cooking, food, family, and games.
29. My birthday is in September, making me a Virgo.
30. This explains the OCD I seem to have with #3 and #4 from yesterday (not to mention my other crazy quirks).
31. I have one older brother and no sisters.
32. All of my family was born in January except for me. (My dad: Jan. 13th, my brother: Jan. 20th, my mother: Jan. 29th)
33. I am the youngest member of all sides of my family (my mother’s, my father’s, my husband’s, and all of my in-law's).
34. I always wanted a sister, and now I have three sisters-in-law.
35. I'm not as close to any of them as I would like.
36. My father died when I was 7 years old. He died on Jan. 24, 1977.
37. I have never gotten over this.
38. I will be buying a ring soon as a way to always have him with me. The money comes from bonds that were purchased with his social security money. The ring will have a sapphire stone in the center (my birthstone), and have a garnet on each side (my dad’s birthstone and also the stone for the month he died). It will be like his life was surrounding my own.
39. The greatest compliment anyone can ever give me is to say that I am just like my father.
40. People tell me this a lot.

Monday, December 27, 2004

It's been so fun reading everyone's Christmas entries. Most people have had Christmas celebrations similar to mine. Eating, sleeping, knitting, playing games, watching movies, and ignoring the pile of toys surrounding the Christmas tree.

A quick update on the status of gifts and food:
My MIL loved her felted clogs and would have killed me if I hadn't made them
My mother loved hers and was surprised. She wants a pair of socks for her birthday (Jan. 29)
Both of my girls were surprised by their felted clogs. They had no idea how I made them without them seeing! AHA!
DH didn't get his clogs for Christmas Day, and I'm still trying to finish them. He is patient!
The fleece pants I sewed for my daughter while she was at school fit perfectly. It was my proudest moment. Even my mother said what a good job I had done in sewing them and it only took about 30 minutes of sewing time! Woohoo!

The food turned out ok. Beef Wellington isn't for kids... too rare. I took the leftovers and made the best stew in the world yesterday. My mom left the raspberry jello, and as usual, it never made it to the next day. She even doubled the recipe! The olives are also gone. Surprisingly, my pants still fit!

I got the best gift in the world from my DH. Spinning lessons, the freedom to go to the lessons guilt-free, and money to stop off at a coffee shop on the way there and the way back. I get to rent the wheel for a month! The classes start in February, and I know it will come quick! The lady at the yarn shop told him that he should get me a gift certificate instead, but he knows me very well. If he had given me a gift certificate, I would have spent it on yarn and not a class. I can teacher myself to spin! But I would love the socializing of a class and the time to be with other spinners/knitters, so now I'm forced to use the gift the right way. I love him!

I visited Stephannie's site, and my husband loved her husband's felted hat. Looks like I will be making one myself, this would be a good way to apologize for the lack of felted clogs for him under the tree.

For this week... I'm going to post 20 things about me each day as a wrap up to the year. I've seen others post their 100 things... and I sat idly in the wings waiting to post my own at a time when the blogs weren't overloaded with them. The end of the year seems like a good time so:

1. One of my favorite foods is blood & tongue sausage on toasted rye bread.
2. I don’t like to eat head cheese, does anyone really?
3. I used to organize the cupboards with all of the labels facing the front.
4. I never used to go to bed until all of the dishes were done and put away.
5. My husband and children cured me of both #3 and #4.
6. I hate mornings.
7. I love coffee.
8. My family knows that they should never talk to me in the morning until I have had a few cups of coffee.
9. I don’t like flavored anything. (flavored coffee, tea, flavored potato chips, etc.)
10. I learned how to can vegetables so that I could be self-sufficient, and to save money. I
haven’t canned in three years, because I don’t keep a good garden.
11. For three years we never bought a loaf of bread, I baked it from scratch without a machine every week. I wanted to save money.
12. I love to cook.
13. I am known for my pie crusts.
14. Everyone who meets me is surprised to learn that I knit, crochet and tat.
15. I have a sailor’s mouth (except when I am at school).
16. I would love to be a semi-truck driver.
17. I can change the oil in my car by myself.
18. I can change my car tires by myself.
19. I have fixed our toilet twice and replaced both shower heads in our home by myself.
20. I’m a tightwad, and I actually subscribed to the Tightwad Gazette until it went out of print.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Final Checklist

Shopping done............ check
Pies baked..........check
Breakfast ready.......check
presents wrapped............check
knitting done.....................check
cookies & milk for Santa..........check
carrots for reindeer....................check
house cleaned........................check


Thursday, December 23, 2004

Christmas Mayhem - Under Control!

Wow, these elves are great. They must have sprinkled something into my morning coffee to get me working so hard. Despite my attempts to sleep while the girls got ready for school, they tormented me until I had to get out of bed. Had to.

I did not do any buns or braids, however. But I did do one ponytail. I complained a lot while I did it to help my cause, and then cheerily waved them off to school. Buhbye!

That's when the work began:

First, I wrapped their presents. All that we had bought anyway... except for the ones that need special paper.

Then I felted the clogs - and enjoyed another facial while standing over the washing machine. Ah, the smell of wet sheep as the steam seeps into every pore. Definitely the smell of wet sheep is an acquired taste, and one that I have actually acquired.

Next, I took a few thousand deep breaths and started creating the pattern for the fleece pants. I measured, figured, measured again, figured again, and then cursed myself for thinking I could do this. It all seemed so easy as I stood in line at the fabric store two weeks ago. I amazed the women around me as I told true stories of having sewn shirts, pajamas, and a quilt without a true pattern. Damn! Pants weren't so easy, especially when the measurements were off at school, enjoying a Christmas party! After about 45 minutes of figuring, I made the fateful cut. There was no turning back. They sewed up so easily, and looked perfect. When I set them next to the pants I had used for measurements, they looked very similar. Only Saturday morning will prove if I did this right or not. Fingers crossed. Pictures will be posted after the holidays.

Then I started another pair of clogs (and convinced my husband they were for another man, and as he reads this I want to tell him again - they are not for you. Really.) and soon it was time for the cherubs to come home for Christmas break. We picked them up, ran to the post office for the last frantic shipping of gifts and cards, dropped them off at home and finished some last minute shopping for them.

Back at home, we ate, and then the pie factory opened. This was not part of my plan for today, but after being drugged by the elves this morning, I found unlimited energy. One pie is in the oven, the second crust is rolled out (yes, I make the crust from scratch. That means mix flour, shortening, salt and some eggs, handle as little as possible and roll it out after it has chilled. I'm known for my pies, but I haven't made one in a long time). This year we will have apple, blueberry and pumpkin. The apple pie is baking right now, and it smells wonderful. I wanted to bake a mincemeat pie, but I couldn't find the filling.

Gifts for tomorrow at the in-laws are wrapped and ready to go. YIPEE!

Saturday's menu:

Breakfast: Breakfast Casserole

Lunch: Beef Wellington
Apricot Honey Glazed Carrots
Mashed Potatoes & Gravy
Aunt Bernice's AWESOME Raspberry Jello Salad (mom is bringing this)
At least 1500 cans of black olives. Ok, 3 cans.
Blueberry & Pumpkin pie (the apple will be given to my in-laws)

Supper: Are you kidding?

Boxing Day: (for us Americans this is known as the day after Christmas)

Breakfast: Pancakes with fruit topping

and after that.... everyone is on their own!

Hope you all have (or have had) a wonderful Holiday!

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

No School for 11 Days!

School's out! School's out! Christmas break! YIPPEE! Oh, but my poor children will have to bundle up with hats, mittens, scarves, boots, snow pants, and other protective gear until they look like the Stay-Puff man in order to go to school! Poor things. I wish I could feel sorry for them, but tomorrow is my pay back. I start the school year before they do, and they love to sleep in on my first days back, only to get up as I'm leaving and muster a, "Have a good day, Mamma, hee hee". Tomorrow it is my turn.

I will not find matching socks.
I will not braid hair or put it up in a bun.
I will not sign assignment notebooks.
I will not speak, except to taunt them.
I will not open my eyes until after they have left, and then I will only open them to find the coffee and pour myself a huge cup.

I will not scream shouts of joy as they leave for school. Promise. But I may make a sassy face or two.

Ah, the life!

I have the house to myself tomorrow, but there is a huge list of things to accomplish, and it is impossible to warp time during the day, no matter what Stephanie might say! Tomorrow I must:

1. Wrap and ship the last gift that may still arrive before Christmas
2. Mail the last of the Christmas cards
3. Inventory and wrap the gifts for our girls
4. Decide what still needs to be purchased (if anything) for the girls
5. Create a pattern for my daughter's fleece pants for swim meets
6. Sew the fleece pants
7. Felt two pairs of secret clogs (which have been successfully hidden in my knitting bag. I even had my daughter knitting from the bag without knowing they were in there. I rock!)
8. Plan the Christmas meal of Beef Wellington and....... well that's the part I need to plan. Any ideas?

I'm starting to hate knitting clogs. No more. Please. It has taken me forever to knit this blue pair for my daughter, and I have to finish it tonight to felt it tomorrow and have it dry before Christmas. After that, I plan to make more. Ugh. Then I can start knitting what I want to knit. I want to knit Latvian Mittens. I want to knit a gorgeous Aran Cably sweater. I may even break down and want to knit Clapotis. Everyone else seems to like it. Oh, but I can't until after I have finished the ARRRRGHHile sock for TKGA Masters II and then the vest and the swatches I still have left. Not to mention the book reviews.

Then I can knit what I want. Oh, after the baby caps for the kids who will be college graduates soon. Ok, they are only 6 months old, but I've been wanting to make them for more than a year... this will be attempt number 3. Hopefully these will be the right size.

Then, I can knit what I want.

Saturday, December 18, 2004


Still finishing the first clog of the second pair that I'm hiding. I WILL FINISH IT TONIGHT. REPEAT. I WILL FINISH IT TONIGHT!

DH asked me what I would like for Christmas. We don't usually buy each other many gifts. $20 - $30 tops, if we spend anything. I would really like to make the Latvian mittens, but I don't trust him to pick out the colors for me. Poor guy. It's so hard to buy a gift for me who I won't tell him exactly what I want. And then I have the nerve to be disappointed on Christmas - he should be able to read my mind, right? Well, in case he can't - I will put my Christmas wish list here (I know he reads it from time to time). The list is in no particular order.

1. Call the woolen mill down the road and see if I can rent a spinning wheel. You know the place - the one with all of the New Zealand sheep that I insist we drive past every time we go to visit our parents. Buy some good starter roving to go with it. If you don't know what good roving is, ask the lady who runs the place. If I wake up on Christmas morning to a spinning wheel and roving, you will be rewarded!

2. A certificate saying that I can spend money on wool for the Latvian mittens. Oh, and a pattern for them, too. Don't even attempt to buy this on your own.

3. A hurricane lamp. Be careful here... potential Christmas disappointment if it is not the right shape. It must be about 8 - 10 inches in diameter, not be fluted (that means the sides go up fairly straight, they don't curve in and then out), and it should be about a foot tall. Thick glass. They are at BigLots for about $8.00. Don't forget the decorative sand for $2.00 right next to it. Oh, and I'll need a nice thick candle to go in there. Two hurricane lamps and I'll love you forever!

4. New pajamas. Not the kind you would like to get for me, but the kind that are actually nice to wear. Another potential Christmas disappointer here.... better just let me pick them out.

5. A coffee grinder and some good coffee to grind. Any good coffee will do.

That should do for today's installment.


Oh shock and horror. I have been out of the pool since Thanksgiving because of my bought with asthmatic bronchitis. Yesterday I got clearance from the doctor to get in the water again, and guess what he told me? He was thinking of joining Wisconsin Swimming Masters, too! YIKES! I told him that this would not be cool. It would not look good if I swam and my doctor was standing there in the event that I passed out from lack of oxygen. Not to mention, I'm not really ready for people I know to see me in my swimming suit. I prefer to remain ANONYMOUS!

I got in the pool today, a light practice. I did some starts and managed to do some flip turns without vertigo. Always a plus.


Wow! I got comments! This rarely happens! I am so pleased!

Now, to answer your questions.

The pattern for the clogs is from FiberTrends. Here is the pattern link. Scroll down the list of accessories until you find the felted clogs. It is pattern AC33X on the third page. I love FiberTrend's patterns. I also have the pattern for felted hats, and I made a bunch of those a few years ago for my girls. They weren't popular then, but are now, so now they are trying to cram their heads into these hats that don't fit properly anymore. Fads!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year - NOT!

The traditional Christmas expectations are wearing me down - like everyone else.

Feverish knitting after the kids go to bed so they don't see their clogs is wearing thin, even though I'm typically a night owl. I'm on the first clog for the last set of hidden, secret clogs. These are powder blue, my daughter's favorite color.

The calendar plan didn't work. I set up all of the things that needed to be done, and plotted them on the calendar. The thing is, when I get home from work (especially after a bad day like two days ago), I don't feel like doing what is on the "calendar". So it's piling up. The tree is taunting me. I set it up on Sunday, and it still is not decorated. That was on the calendar for Monday night, but a migraine forced me to reschedule for Tuesday. Tuesday night was spent trying to get over a terrible day, and last night was clothes shopping for the Holiday Programs.

Cards are not even out of the box to be signed.
There are no Christmas perishables showing up on my counters.
Shopping has a good start, but there is still a lot left to do.

Where the hell are the elves?? I'm waiting!

On another note....
Happy Birthday to my grandmother. She would have been 104 today! She was the only grandparent I ever knew, and it seems I not only got her diamond engagement ring (it was given to her youngest daughter - my mom - and then to me... my mother's only daughter), but I have also genetically inherited her knitting, crocheting, tatting, sewing, and baking skills. Unfortunatetly, I've also inherited her procrastination genes. She was known to start sewing a wedding dress the day before the wedding, and finish it at 3 or 4:00 in the morning. She made more than 20 wedding dresses for family and friends, and never missed a deadline, and they looked so nice that strangers asked her to sew for them as well. I miss her.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Get Out of the Way! (And other holiday greetings)

I love Christmas shopping. I love the crowds, the scurrying about, and the high impact sport of being the person to get to the last item on a shelf. In fact, I find myself halting when I overhear a store clerk tell a customer, "There aren't many left, but if there are any, you can find them over there." With that I'm off, even though I have no clue what item they are talking about. I find myself consumed with the competition of beating that person to the shelf. "Get out of the way," I yell out to other shoppers as I shout and finally reach the finish line to call out, "A-HAH" as I am the first one to grab for it. Ah, Christmas shopping!

Any shopping trip must also include a little time at Barnes and Noble. Today was no exception. I could sit and pour over the knitting books for hours, if I didn't have a freakin list of things to get done. Years ago, when I was pretty much the only knitter in the state of Wisconsin, it was hard to find knitting books. Most store clerks weren't even sure if their store had any. The knitting book area would always be in some dark, quiet back corner where I could sit by myself without being bothered. I am happy that knitting is more popular now than it had been. I love the resurgence and all of the new materials, but I now I have to share my private space. Today I found myself getting nervous as I came near the knitting section. Would someone else be there? Would I have to push my way through and apologize as I reach in front of someone to get a book? As I turned the corner, I sighed. There were about 5 women, all fighting for the best position to select knitting books. There was no room for me. In the festive spirit of Christmas I was tempted to say, "Get out of the way!" But I decided to go do some other shopping first.

When I returned, most of the women had cleared, but one remained, sitting on the floor directly in front of all of the knitting books. I quickly glanced to see if she, too, was looking at knitting books. She was not a competitor. Her books were about sewing. I was safe. I began to peruse. This is a highly evolved art. It begins with the finger walk. Slowly walking along the bookcovers, my fingers stop at a title or color that intrigues me. Next comes the quick tug to release the book from the shelf. Then, I look at the back for the price (similar to card shopping), and next look at the cover. I flip through a few pages and decide if it warrants a more thorough examination. If so, it is placed on a pile and if not it is returned to the left of where my finger walking ended. As I was completing my finger walk on the second shelf, the sewing book lady broke book shopping etiquette. She reached over to my shelf and took a book from the knitting section, one that I had not finger walked past. "Get out of the way!" She is lucky that my sharp knitting needles were in my knitting bag near where my mother sat with her cup of tea. She would have suffered serious consequences otherwise. I sat with my jaw wide open, in shock. How could she interrupt my obvious finger walking of that shelf? I thought that she had better put that book back on the next shelf, and not slip it in somewhere I had already completed fingerwalking. That could throw the whole perusal off and force me to start over. The undercover knitter, posing as a sewer, looked at the back cover and then the front cover. The book obviously passed her test after she flipped through some pages, and she added it to her pile. Now what would I do? I tried to peek at her pile to see what the book was so that I could find another copy myself, but she caught me in the act. I could see the pride in her eyes as she had beaten me. I decided that I had had enough, so I took my own claimed book pile to sit next to my mother and examine more closely.

Shopping is definitely not for the faint of heart!

After a few hours of high impact shopping, my mother and I went to lunch at Atlanta Bread Company. I have wanted to eat there for a long time, but the rest of my family didn't. This was the perfect occasion, as my mother thought it looked like a good choice. It was good, but not what I was expecting. The menu was very limited, only sandwiches, soups and salads. I guess I was expecting something a little more substantial, but the food was good. My mom really liked it, and that's what matters because today was all about helping her feel better and happier. I think it worked.

I need a nap. Last night I didn't fall asleep until 4:00 am and I shopped from 9:00 this morning until 3:00 this afternoon. I'm heading for the couch for some serious napping, so you better be sure to, "Get out of the way!"

My Third Breast

The beauty of being a teacher is that children say the darndest things. And they are usually right! How funny, then, that a co-worker who I really like was the one with brutal honesty.

Friday I was working with a small group, cutting out snowflakes, only I couldn't get my snowflakes to work. Turns out that in the five or six years since I have cut them out of white paper, my brain decided to file the procedure for successful paper snowflakes in the somewhere between "You'll never want to do this again, so forget about it, " and "You can't cut out paper dolls, either, so don't even try snowflakes".

Another teacher, who happens to have a degree in art even though she doesn't teach art, walked past my door just as I opened my first paper snowflake miracle. It came apart in about 3 pieces, and she saw this and offered to help. Thank you! She reminded me of the basics, hold onto the fold, and cut a cone shape. Oh, yeah! I remember now. Trying to look like this "visiting teacher" had been planned from the beginning, I followed her directions and everyone started cutting. The two interpreters in the room also helped the students get started. Paper snowflakes were all over the room. So were the millions of tiny scraps that the students had cut to create their snowflakes. Now I remembered why I hadn't done this in five or six years. I'm surprised the maintenance staff hasn't banned paper snowflakes in their contracts!

As the kids worked, we began to talk about the upcoming staff Christmas party. I had planned to go (it was tonight), but decided not to at pretty much the last minute. Then, the guest teacher pointed to the front of my sweatshirt and told me that there was something there. I looked down, and didn't see anything.

"Where?" I asked her.
"Right there," she pointed again at the front of my sweatshirt.

This exchange happened at least four more times before one of the interpreters said, "She's pointing to your third breast. I get them, too."

OH MY GOD! Even though I have been losing weight, it seems that my bra wasn't fitting properly, and some of me was spilling out from the front of my bra. GEEZ! The other teacher was so embarrassed, she didn't know what it was (she has NOTHING THERE!) and felt terrible that she had pointed it out. I could have cared less. I was ticked that this was happening with a bra that had always fit me really well. You never know when your clothing will revolt.

Thank goodness my students happily cut their paper snowflakes are were oblivious to our conversation. I sure didn't need them to point out my third breast and tell their families that their teacher is a disfigured freak!

Earlier in the day, I showed everyone these:

Now they all want me to teach them how to make the clogs. I said after Christmas.

I have managed to knit the first pair of clogs for my children without either of them seeing them. The orange one is for my daughter, the green for my mother and the rose for my MIL. My daughter even knit today from my knitting bag with her clog in there and never saw it. I pulled the yarn out for her and told her that I would get her project out and put it back in for her. She thought this was normal, and didn't mind a bit.

Two more pairs to knit before Christmas. No problem.

I had a great start on the Christmas thing. Lists were made, plans arranged and a schedule set. Then I got sick of it and nothing has been done for a week. Crap! Here is where I stand with 13 days to go:

  • Buy Christmas cards
  • Sign and include photos of girls in Christmas cards
  • Address Christmas cards
  • Stamp and send cards (most people do all of these as one step. For me, each one is a process, and I'm happy if I'm done with them in a week)
  • Set up tree (We have waited as late as Dec. 18th in the past.... Dec 24th would work, too)
  • Outside decorations
  • Shop for never-ending small gifts for girls school and girl scout exchanges (Is it really possible to be creative with a $5 gift for a 9 year old?)
  • Finish Christmas gift shopping (I'm pretty proud that I have actually started and have some done - and I haven't bought any boozy chocolate yet)
  • Make cookies (I actually want to this year)
  • Sit through two school Christmas concerts (I will need the boozy chocolate for this)
  • SurviveEnjoy my daughters girl scout troop's carolling in the neighborhood
  • Make Gluhwein (this should be first on the list - the knitting may go even more quickly and the results could be a lot more creative!)
  • Wrap presents so that they can be ripped apart in a fraction of the time taken to wrap them
  • Make Christmas dinner (one person doesn't like turkey, one doesn't like cornish hen, several can't have ham, I am the only one who loves lamb. I'm thinking of a Christmas spaghetti - everyone likes spaghetti, right?)

    Tomorrow is shopping with my mother. My mother hasn't shopped for Christmas gifts in two years. I have gotten the gifts for my girls, wrapped them, brought them to her house, and last year one of my daughters noticed that her paper was the same as mine! YIKES! I offered to take her to the stores in Appleton that have EXACTLY the ONE thing she could get, go in and out quickly to each of the three stores, and then go out for lunch. The lunch bribe twisted her arm. It should be fun.... cross my fingers.

    I better get to bed. I's 1:15 am and I have to be up in 6 hours. The final sole for the last of my daughter's clog will have to wait until tomorrow night.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

More Time to Knit?

Who knew? Why didn't I know? This is great! I used to spend so much time clicking back and forth from the links on my own site to check up on my favorite blogs. After making lists and drinking pot after pot of coffee while the pages loaded, I would sigh. The site hadn't been updated yet. If only I knew that the site hadn't been updated before clicking on the link, I could have saved time.

What? You say there is a site that keeps track of site updates so that I don't have to? Why the #$@! wasn't I paying attention when you told me about it! Oh, I was probably too busy calculating the gauge for baby caps, or making lists from my exploded yarn stash. Well, now I know about Bloglines. God is it wonderful! I have more time to knit, or maybe not.

I think I've become a bit obsessed. Is it a problem to sit on the site and click Refresh every two minutes to see if someone on my list has just updated their site?

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Fire up those needles, only 19 days left!

The frantic Christmas knitting is in full force! Once again, I, like many other knitters out there, will try to defy the laws of time to create an unbelievable amount of knitted items within a time limit. Midnight knitters unite! I plan to make 6 pairs of Fuzzy Feet, two pairs of socks, and some small undecided projects for friends. Can I do it? No way, but every year I try. What's wrong with me? It always seems like a great idea to give knit gifts, until the reality of time becomes more of a reality. Let the countdown begin, warm up the needles, and press "GO" anyway. We're off!

So far, I'm on the last half of the second pair of fuzzy feet. I even had a moment of creativity. The fuzzy feet for my mother are a beautiful lime green, and I have some novelty green left over that I could embroider into the fuzzy feet. I myself wouldn't like that - novelty yarn is not for me, but my mother would love it. A little extra added touch. What will really be the test for me will be to knit two pairs of fuzzy feet without my snoopy children seeing, and then felt and dry them without detection. If I pull this off, there may be a career for me in the CIA.

I'm toying with idea of giving decorative soaps with a knit or felted wrapper. I saw this on another blog, and it seems like a great gift for co-workers. I just don't know if I can fit it in with the other Christmas knitting, cookie baking, card sending, decorating, St. Nick's tonight, wrapping and shipping and all of that. I'm surprisingly more in the Christmas spirit this year than other years. Normally, I hate Christmas, but this year I've been listening to the radio stations that play carols 24 hours a day since before Thanksgiving, and I'm still loving it. Santa must have stuck something into my morning coffee. I'm not sure why I'm liking Christmas this year. I wouldn't say that I have a great head start on other years, but I do have everything planned to the minute so that I can stay on track.

I'm finally feeling better. Well, good enough to walk up and down the stairs without dying from a coughing fit, so I guess it's time to attack that pile of laundry that has been speaking to me in a Darth Vader voice, plotting to take over the house. Maybe, if I left it, it could rise up and do some of the Christmas decorating for me? It may be worth a try.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Yarn Stash Explosion

Illness Day 4:
Sunday was spent not moving very much so that my asthma symptoms could improve enough to go out to dinner for my daughter's birthday. Monday morning, asthma was still terrible and not being controlled very well with the medication I hoard for days like this. I stayed home, hoping that it would wear off throughout the day. Monday night I ended up in the ER, with my knitting and overnight bags packed in case I would be admitted (I've been admitted for asthma before, and this felt like a close one). Luckily, I was sent home with super strong medication - diagnosis: asthmatic bronchitis. I've had this about 85 million times in my life. I know the drill. After getting home from the ER at 9:00pm I knew I couldn't go to work Tuesday, so yesterday I continued my vigil on the couch with the medication all around me and my knitting. I finished the first pair of Fuzzy Feet on my Christmas knitting list, and by the evening, my asthma started to worsen AGAIN!

This morning, I was determined to go back to work. I nearly died in the shower, it was too much moving around for my asthma and bronchitis. Home another day. Now, the medicine is really kicking in, and I'm sick of sitting on the couch, so I worked up enough energy to drag the stash box into the dining room and let it explode onto my dining room table so that I could check it out.

Maybe there is something here I can create into a beautiful project: but I've never been able to look at leftovers with any creativity. HELP!

Here is my stash:


Fisherman's Aran Wool of unknown origin (it was given to me by my aunt many years ago, and I've used up a lot of it already for afghans). It is terrible for felting. I have 20 skeins left. A sweater? Or do I donate it and get it out of my house after more than 20 years?

Lopi: 2 leftover skeins 100 grams each; one in tan; one in brown.

Skol (another gift from my aunt) Felts well. 4 skeins (1.6 oz each) in tan

Galway leftovers: 210 yard when new skeins; one in red; one in cream

Bernat Hot Sox leftovers: 1.75 oz when new. There is quite a bit left; 1 grey; 1 denim; 1 white

Dalegarn Baby Ull leftover: 50 gram when new. There is quite a bit left; 1 yellow

Lanett Superwash merino Ull: 50 grams when new. Why don't I throw this out. There is hardly anything here.. it is dark green.

Leftover unknown wool variegated blues and greens; DK weight. Felts well.

Novelty yarn:

Green lightpipe (just frogged the scarf/shawl I had started with it) What can you make with this stuff?

Eyelash leftovers: green, blue, purple, yellow

Eros - blue ( I call them train tracks)

Some sea green fuzz

Some purple ribbon

Now that I've written this, I'm wondering why on Earth I've kept these leftovers. About 6 months ago I got rid of almost all of my stash, the acrylics that I knew I would never use, many of them were given to me by my aunt, but this box was what I couldn't give up. I have no clue what to do with leftovers.

DH is off to the yarn store for me to pick up what I need to keep working on Fuzzy Feet for Christmas. I'm planning to make 6 pairs total and have one done. He'll call me so that we can pick out colors over the phone. He is doing this after running there for me on Sunday to pick up more wool and not being treated well when he asked for help. He doesn't like yarn shops as a rule, he tolerates them for me, but thinks that most of them are snobby, especially to men and children. Sunday didn't help. I sent him with the skein wrapper listing the lot and dye numbers, so that all he had to do was show it to someone and they could point him in the right direction. When he asked the woman working there for help, she sighed, put down her magazine and slugged over to the display area while grunting, my children told me. And today he is going back without even complaining. I LOVE HIM!

Well.... if you can provide any creative hints for my stash (of mainly leftovers), I would appreciate it. Maybe if I put my stash to the North side of my dining room table, look towards Canada and call upon the mystic creativity of the Yarn Harlot, I can channel some ideas from her!