Sunday, May 28, 2006

Who Invented Slumber Parties Anyway???

Last night we had a slumber party for Miss K's 10th birthday. She invited 6 friends for a total of 7 ten year olds. I don't think an entire football team could have been any louder. What ever happened to the 2 hour party? Maybe a jumper or a pinata, some cake and then you send them all home. Who inveted the slumber party anyway? It must have been some masochist. Every year after one of these parties I always swear - "never again!" But by the time the next one rolls around I have mellowed. Well they are all off to their respective homes now and she is taking a nap! Wish I could. I'm almost too tired to knit . . . ALMOST!

Monday, May 22, 2006

Doesn't Everything Revolve around Knitting???

This weekend was the Art in the Park Festival. Art in the Park is one of my favorite events. It happens every May and is a juried art festival so the artists tend to be really great. Usually I go both days but this year I was in New York on Saturday so I only got to go on Sunday. (BTW - I did sneak out to a yarn store in SoHo so more on that when the box arrives . . . .) I did my best to cover it all and had a great time. It's funny how knitting can take over your life. I find myself looking at the art and thinking of how it can translate in to knitting! There were lots of cool fabric purses and I found myself looking at them thinking "How could I knit something like that!" Also the color schemes in purses and paintings of course MUST be translated over to knitting. Finally, there was an artist named Marion who made these "Jewels in Fiber". Basically they were beautiful rounds stones with string and beads attached to them as pins, necklaces and earrings. She had a lot of gorgeous stuff but I picked out the beauty above with the plan to - you guessed it - knit something! This jewel is a pin and I'm thinking of making a felted purse and putting this on as the main ornament. I just loved it but don't really wear pins. So what do you think? What kind of bag does this one belong on? Would love your suggestions!

Healing Shawl

Can a handknit shawl really help someone heal quicker? I hope so! When we were at my Mom's house a couple of weeks ago she had a gorgeous throw/shawl on her couch. Horsey Girl wrapped herself up in it and I thought she wasn't going to give it back. My Mom said she had made it out of Lion Brand Homespun and that it was called a Prayer Shawl. Now I tend to be a fiber snob but this thing was so soft and amazing I just had to make one. I went to Michaels the next day and bought yarn for not one but TWO of these things. A gorgeous pink to make Horsey Girl one of her own and an incredible deep red for a friend that is having back surgery. This photo does not do it justice no matter how hard I tried. The red is like a deep wine red and just wonderful. The pattern that is on the Lion Brand website has you knitting and purling sort of making some boxes but in reality they don't really show up on this yarn. For HG's I started with that pattern and then just went to straight knitting after about 10 rows. Also the yarn calls for size 11 needle but it wasn't turning out as soft as Mom's. She said she used a size 13 so I frogged the whole thing (SIGH) and started over on size 13's. It was the right move. Why is it that things turn out softer when knit on bigger needles? Since my friend's surgery was coming up I put down HG's blanket to start the red one. I was surfing around the web and found another prayer shawl pattern in something called the trinity or blackberry stitch. It looked really pretty so I decided to try that and I'm really happy with how it is turning out. Here is a close-up look.

Now I'm not real religious but I think of it as a healing shawl. I have been thinking good thoughts for her speedy recovery while I make it and hopefully knowing you have someone who cares about you enough to make this helps your overall health. I'm just about finished which is good because her surgery is tomorrow! Now I may just have to make one for myself!

Monday, May 15, 2006


I'm so excited to be doing the Secret Pal 8 exchange. I have my pal and have been in contact with her. I also bought some stuff for her over the weekend which I can't wait to send but I must pace myself. They sai you must spend at least $65 but it's about impossible to be spoiling someone for 3 1/2 months and only spend that amount. Maybe others are better shoppers than I am. Also my spoiler has been in touch. She sent me an adorable card and several e-mail - THANKS SECRET PAL! I am trying to figure out what she does for a living - she is not a lawyer or latin professor but she got the pun of my blog name - Hmmmmm what could she be???? Since I have no photos of anything Secret Pal to post here is a photo of my cat Topaz - it seems that all knitting bloggers MUST have cats!

Felt Appeal

How is it that things "Grow on You"? You get a haircut that's way too short and people say, "don't worry - it will grow on you." Despite the pun there they really mean that you'll get used to it and perhaps even come to like it. Foods are often called and "acquired taste." Now if you don't like a food why would you try to acquire a taste for it? It's not like there aren't enough foods that I already like to get me in to trouble - why should I acquire another one? Well felted bags were that way for me. When I first started knitting I would go in to yarn stores and see the felted bags hanging there and just think that they were the ugliest thing going. Why would I want to buy beautiful yarn and turn it in to felt? Why would I spend time knitting something bigger than it needed to be just to felt it back down? Then something happened - I started actually looking at those felted bags in the yarn stores - viewing bag patterns on line and - GASP - considering making a felted bag! How had this happened to me? How had they "grown on me"? How had I "acquired at taste for felt?" Alas I'm afraid I can't answer the WHY but I can tell you I've become a felting fiend! My first felted bag was a simple pattern and turned out like this:

For my second felted bag I took the leftover yarn from a felted bag my Mom had made and designed this bag. I took the design from the first bag and made some changes to come up with my own design. I gave this one to my Mom yesterday for Mother's Day and she really liked it.

Then for the Just Bag It exchange for the Month of May I followed the bowling ball bag pattern. Now this is the most "complicated" pattern I have used for a felted bag but I'm happy how it turned out. Also I didn't like the handles in the pattern so I created my own. I wanted a shoulder strap and I needed triangles to match the bag so I made a mini multi-directional scarf. Here it is - I think I'm keeping this one for myself!

Now I'm on to bag #4 - I can't tell you too much about it because it is for my Tote Exchange partner. I'm thrilled with the colors and how it is turning out. I can't wait to tell you all the pattern but that will have to wait.

So why is it that I now love felting bags? Is it the mystery of what you'll get when you're done? Is it the fact that at the end you have something useful? Or is it the fact that garter stitch is mindless and sometimes I just need a break? I don't know for sure but I do know there's more felt in my future!

TODAY'S QUESTION: What's your favorite felted bag pattern?

Monday, May 08, 2006

Transcendental Vegitation

On Saturday I engaged in the ritualistic planting of the vegetable garden. When we were kids my Dad had a big vegetable garden in our backyard. Every year we would have to help him pull the weeds, till the earth and plant the vegetables. My Dad doesn't just PLANT vegetables - there is an entire process that goes with it. First you dig the hole, then you fill it with water, then you mix in extra special dirt and plant food. After that you mix a starter with water and put that in the hole. Only after you have accomplished all of this can you actually so much as put a plant in the ground!

I remember having to water the vegetable garden every night. I remember getting paid ten cents for every tomatoe worm we caught (they are HUGE, green and hideous - think Heimlich from "A Bug's Life"), and I remember eating more zucchini then anyone should ever have to eat in a life time. Our dog Mitzie (a minature poodle) would eat anything on the face of the earth EXCEPT zucchini. Smart dog! Not that I don't like it - just that I don't like it meal after meal after meal. So is it any surprise that I should grow up and start a vegetable garden of my own? Of course if you're going to plant a vegetable garden - you've got to call my Dad! So on Saturday after Horsey Girl had Drill Team and Miss K finished her softball pictures and game, my Dad and I went up to the vegetable garden. Now I must admit that last year was so crazy I just couldn't deal with the garden and I did not plant one. So when we went up there on Saturday we saw this

Yes my friends - that is 2 years' worth of weeds. Now mixed in with the weeds are beautiful poppies because 3 years ago I planted one package of poppy seeds and well - they went from there. While it broke my heart to pull out the poppies I had to or there wouldn't have been room for the veggies. Miss K was horrified - little miss "by the rules" is in 4th grade this year and they are studying California and California missions. So she knows that the State flower is the Golden Poppy and she knows it is illegal in California to pick a poppy. "You're going to be arrested Mommy," she said. "I don't think so" I said, "this is our yard and I planted the poppies so I think it's OK if I tear them out." "Are you sure?" says she. We'll really I'm not sure and I'm really hoping that the cops don't appear at my door any time soon. Just to be sure I think I'll bury the evidence at the bottom of the trash can! My Dad thought there was no way we'd get the entire box weeded and the veggies planted but I told him to have faith. After much pulling we had this:

And a big pile of weeds (I don't see any Poppies in there do you???) that looked like this:

So now we FINALLY get to the fun part - planting the veggies. My Dad keeps complaining that I didn't go to Home Depot because he heard on the radio that they have vegetables in something called peat pots that you just stick in the ground and they disintegrate over time providing nutrients along the way and retaining water. I didn't want to schlep all the way to Home Despot so just went to the local nursery. I swear they are pushing crack there or something because I came home with 10 - yes TEN tomato plants. For any of you who have grown tomatos that is nothing short of a $%# load of tomatos. But there were all this great kinds. There were cherry tomoatos and yellow pear tomatos and something called lemon tomatos. We'll have to see if they live up to their advertising. I also bought some Kentucky blue lake beans and some miniature pumpkins. Just like knitting is NOT a way to save money if you want a scarf or purse, growing your own vegetable garden is not a way to save money on vegetables. Once you buy all the plants, the fertilizer and plant food not to mention the gas of going back and forth to the nursery (good thing I didn't go all the way out to Home Despot!) you spend way more than you ever would if all you ate all summer was vegetables. But that's really not the point of knitting or vegetable gardens is it??!!

So now part of the ritual is for my Dad to tell me that I'm not planting the veggies correctly. I'm not breaking off the leaves at the bottom of the tomato plant or I'm not planting it deep enough. Now let me tell you - I'm 42 years old, the mother of three and people pay a lot of money for my advice but apparently I don't know how to plant a lousy tomato plant! So proving that I learned from the master I turned to my Dad and say, "Hey Gramps" (that's what the kids call him) - your well on that tomato over there SUCKS!! I must say though after about 3 1/2 hours of hard manual labor the garden looked like this:

I'll keep you posted on how they grow because I know you're just dying to know if those tomatos I planted without pulling off the bottom leaves and not deep enough actually bear any fruit! After we were finished Master JET came up to take a look. With all the awe a three year old can muster he gasped and said, "that's AMAZING!" Such gratification.

A little diddy we learned to play on the recorder in 4th grade: Poppies Golden Poppies blooming in the sun, closing up at evening when the day is done.

TODAY'S QUESTION: What's your state flower?

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Thank Goodness for Babies

I went to visit my friend Dana today and see her new baby girl. I am so happy for her and it was great to meet her sweet little bundle of joy. What made the visit extra special was the fact that I had knit her a baby blanket and I finally got to meet the baby I made it for. My friend was appropriately impressed and appreciative. As I said good bye and parted with "my baby blanket" I realized how knitting for babies is such a part of - well knitting! It seems to me that a good portion of what people knit is made for babies. So it's a good thing there are so many babies coming in to the world. It gives us all something - or some one - to knit for. So to keep up the baby knitting I am also knitting a blanket for my friend Vicky who is due late August. I have been working on this one

or awhile and need to step up the pace. I am making the Baby Blocks pattern by Ann Norling which is in the front of Debbie Macomber's book "The Shop on Blossom Street". The pattern is easy and goes smoothly but it is for a big baby blanket. It would have probably looked better on some solid yarn that really shows the pattern but I still think it looks nice with this yarn. I also really like the log cabin (or Baby Moderne) blanket in the new Mason Dixon knitting book - My friend Adam is having another baby late August as well . . . . Better get crackin!

TODAY'S QUESTION: What item that you knit and gave away as a gift did you most want to keep?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Art Appreciation

I just love this photo so I have to share it with all of you. This is Master JET at the Musee d'Orsay on our trip to Paris. In general - he wasn't that thrilled to be dragged through the Louvre or the Musee d'Orsay but from time to time there was a piece of art that caught his eye. I figure this is a good thing in that he was actually looking at the art and maybe some day will have an appreication for it. This sculpture was of two little bears sniffing something with a mythical creature looking over them. Look how he is studying the bears closely with his hands politely together. It just makes me smile every time I see it! It was also amazing how he managed to find fish everywhere. He loves fish and loves dolphins and whales. We'd be walking through a museum and he'd yell - FISHY! Sure enough there would be a painting or carving with a fish somewhere. When he did it in Versaille I thought he was just babbling but then I looked up at the ceiling and there was a painting of someone riding a big fish. It was amazing that he was noticing things that we weren't. I guess that's what they mean by experiencing the world through a child's eye!

TODAY'S QUESTION: What is your absolute favorite knitting blog to read?

Secret Pal 8 Questionnaire

I'm so excited - I've joined Secret Pal 8 and it's just about to get started. I've never done one of the SP's before but I often see mentions of them on people's blogs. I think this will be fun. Any of you out there who have done one of these before I'd love to get your advice. Please let me know what worked well and what didn't. What gifts you liked (or didn't!) So I'm supposed to post my answers to the questionnaire so here goes:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? My absolute favorite yarn is Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk. When I knit with it I just keep feeling it and making everyone else around feel it. I just noticed they've come out with a DK weight so I'm definitely going to have to try that. I love soft yarns, I love yarns that self stripe or have multiple colors in them. I'm not crazy about Mohair.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I have a long plastic container that is now totally full!

3. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I've been knitting for about 3.5 years. I'd say that I'm intermediate. Haven't yet made a s weater so one of these days . . . .

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? I don't but that's a good idea - I'll make an Amazon wish list!

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) Probably lavendar although I like sandalwood and most flowers but I'm alergic to juniper and freesia.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? I do - It's all about the chocolate baby! Oh and Swedish Fish too!

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I like to scrapbook. I don't spin and need to stay away from it because I can't have one more thing I'm trying to do!

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I like lots of different musics. Pop, soft rock, country, big band. I can play CD's in my car or on my computer.

9. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand? My favorite colors are purple and red. But I also like pink and blue and most colors. I don't like forest green but I'm liking the lime green that is in right now.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I am married with 3 kids - two girls and one boy - and have 2 cats and a green anole lizard.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? I wear scarves, mittens I'd prefer without fingers and not too in to ponchos but probably a shawl. I live in California so not much call for real heavy things.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I like knitting things for other people mainly. Something that has a pattern to keep my interest up. I mainly make "flat" things - haven't ever made anything fitted. I make scarves, clapotis, blankets, throws, felted purses and the like.

13. What are you knitting right now? I am making a prawl shawl for a friend who is having back surgery, a throw for my oldest daughter, a baby blanket for my nanny who is due in August, a felted bag for the Tote Exchange, another felted bag for the Oh Bag It KAL and two cabled scarves - one is an Irish Hiking Scarf and one is the here and there cables from Scarf Style. I also want to start a baby blanket from a pattern in the new Mason Dixon Book for another friend who is having a baby in August.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I tend to use circular bamboo needles but I do like straight fancy needles. I don't have any aluminum or plastic so have never tried them.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? I do not and have been in the market for one.

17. How did you learn to knit? My Mom taught me. When I was pregnant with my third child I wanted to knit him a blanket so I asked my Mom to teach me. It was just knit stich back and forth, I made it pretty large and with yarn that had some interest to it. It took me 7 months since I didn't work on it that much! I am so lucky in that now it is his favorite blanky and he has to have it every night. Gratification!

18. How old is your oldest UFO? I have an afghan that I started probably 8 months ago. It is really large. 3 strips with 4 squares each with each square being 18x18 inches. I JUST finished the last strip this week. Now I have to block it, sew it together and put a border on. Hopefully that won't take another 8 months!

19. What is your favorite holiday? Probably Christmas although I also really like doing fun things for my kids' birthdays.

20. Is there anything that you collect? Not really although I love dragonflies so you could probably say I collect those in that I buy just about anything I can find with a dragonfly on it!

21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? I don't have any subscriptions to knitting magazines so if there is one you'd suggest that would be great. I would like the Pursanalities Felted Purse Book (but I think it is pretty expensive) and also the Saxon Braid Scarf and Cotton Candy Scarf patterns from I'd also like the pattern for Rogue.

22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I just heard about something called Tunisian crochet that is a cross between knitting and crochet that is supposed to be cool.

23. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? Too funny - haven't ever knit a sock - see my post "What's up with all the socks!" As to my foot - it is a 9 1/2 wide.

24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) November 18th