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December 30, 2007

2007 Music Mix & Mitten Thanks

And . . . I'm not sure why my list of 25 is only 23 songs.

Thank you all for the mitten suggestions -- and to Nora whose gentle nudge to look in an EZ book I already own and love . . . of course, I should have done that before bemoaning my mitten. Thank you also to Elizabeth for reminding me about positive ease -- clearly I have knit too many socks! I'm very happy to hear I'm not alone and there are simple solutions. I don't care to avoid mitten knitting, because I'm kind of in love with the idea of knitting some of the mittens in these:

Books of Christmas

More specifically, I swooned over the ones in Clara Parkes' The Knitter's Book of Yarn. Any guesses as to which one I thought was the most awesome? (Hint: Check Flickr Favorites and Ravelry Queue).

The Gypsy Soup was amazing! It will be a repeat and I'll use a tiny bit less turmeric. It was otherwise a hit with my guests, humble as it was.

Please tune in tomorrow -- I'll announce the winner of my hand knit socks.

December 28, 2007

Truthiness :: The Mitten

Truthiness *

I love knitting mittens but I'm not yet at peace with the way my thumbs turn out. It's fast and fun knitting until it's time to complete the thumb -- there's a gaping hole where the thumb meets the mitten. I'll be asking some experts (my co-workers!) to look it over and tell me how to avoid that when I re-knit the mittens. I started the mittens late Wednesday night after taking my oldest son's hand measurements and determining my gauge. And I think he grew overnight -- the finished mitten is WAY too small.

The experience had me a bit frustrated last night -- and it just reminded me of the feeling of being on this side of the learning curve -- and while I know it's just a mitten, it's hard to be unsuccessful after spending a lot of time on something that should be simple. And it doesn't make me a bad knitter, it's just a lack of skill.

So while I wait for our weekend house guests and make a grocery list, I'm going to step back and take a break -- and refresh mind, body and spirit. I think it might be a good time for Gypsy Soup:

Gypsy Soup.jpg


December 25, 2007

Boho Baby Knits

Yesterday I got my copy of Boho Baby Knits (Groovy Patterns for Cool Tots), by Kat Coyle:

bohobabyknitscover.jpg

My sister visited Knit Cafe earlier this month during Kat's book signing there:

Boho Baby Knits

I love all the bohemian baby designs in this book, but my must-knit favorites are the Bobbled Bloomers, Mimi and Bobbi Beatnik Dolls, Story-time Socks, Bite This Book!, Alien Hat, and the Scenester Legwarmers. And even though I don't have any more babies or toddlers in the household, these are just too cute not to knit.

December 23, 2007

A sock is emerging

Another sock is emerging:

Noro Kureyon sock in progress

I'm knitting a sample pair of socks for Twisted Yarns from the much-hyped Noro Kureyon sock yarn:

NORO Kureyon Sock Yarn

Obviously, I love it -- otherwise I wouldn't have made much progress (if any at all) on yarn that I just acquired yesterday.

So if you're intrigued and you're wanting to know how it knits up and what it feels like, I have to caution that you will need to release any expectation that it will be any different than knitting with Kureyon. It is not soft to the touch, but it's not unpleasant either. And it's very much a thinner version of Kureyon, which I happen to already love. If you don't love knitting with Kureyon, you won't love knitting with the sock yarn. If you see it at your yarn shop and you love the color but hesitate due to the way it feels to the touch -- please try it anyway. I've tried on my sock-in-progress and I think it feels MUCH softer on my feet than I thought it would.

For those of you wondering how I've fared on my stash release goals, I am feeling good about what I've done so far. And I realized that I don't regret a single yarn purchase or acquisition in 2007. Nearly everything I want to release was acquired between 2004 and 2006 -- before I really knew what I most enjoyed knitting. So for 2008 -- more Noro (Cashmere Island, Kureyon, Silk Garden, Iro, Kochoran), more Malabrigo (lace and worsted) and more yarns from independent sources -- that is, hand-dyers and spinners. And 2008 won't see me taking up spinning, but I will try more designing. Of course I'll keep knitting socks and will try to finish more of what I begin. And I'll make lots of pom poms.

December 21, 2007

Unfinished posts

I occasionally have a blog entry in draft mode and sometimes I get so stuck I can't finish it or post it. There's one in here now, unpublished. It's not because it's a difficult or unpleasant topic -- quite the contrary! I attempted to go back and find all my favorite 2007 blog posts written by other knitbloggers. It's turned out to be a huge undertaking because I have SO many favorites. I'm going to keep working on it and might eventually post it. But surely you know my TRUE fear -- that there will be that ONE that gets left out -- that one that I should have included and failed to do so.

So instead, I will tell you about my haircut yesterday; I won't show it to you because it's too dark to shoot a photo. I went in wanting what I got this past August -- a concave bob (an inverted v- or inverted u-shape in the back), but I got what I most feared getting -- a PLAIN bob. I've HAD those most of my life. And even a TRUE concave bob eventually grows out to be a plain bob after a month or so. And do you know what a PLAIN bob looks like on me? Anchorwoman hair. Pageant hair.

At least it's better than country singer hair.

For the record, I've never been any of those things. The first photo was for an author bio in a magazine in which I'd had an article published. The second photo has never been seen by anybody except Paul (when we were dating). First he laughed . . . then he forbade me to share them with anybody. I think 15 years is enough time and distance and I hope you all can laugh WITH me. (And, yes, there are more cheesy poses and more bad outfits).

Since my recipe request post, I've been able to try a few of the recipes I've linked to -- and one of the recipes in my comments. I can't take good food photos so I have none to share. But I was very happy with the recipes I've tried -- the Minestra di Lenticchie (quite good and it makes A LOT!), the Salsa Mexicana (I'll add more Serrano peppers next time - I just used two) and the Macaroni and Cheese (though my Vermont sharp cheddar was TOO sharp). All of them were quite good! Thanks for sharing, ladies!

The holiday party with my son's fourth grade class went well -- we had a blast! Nine year olds know how to party! We played holiday-themed Pictionary, made an ornament, decorated some cookies with icing, red hots and M&M's and had a fun book exchange. It's his last year in elementary school which suddenly feels quite strange now that I typed it. The second grader had a similar celebration and between the two of them, they were quite sugared up and we have two new ornaments for the tree. It signaled the official start of our holiday break.

I was just sharing with my family how I'm looking forward to December 26th and some serious relaxation and knitting. I have a lot of lovely yarn to play with too . . .

Malabrigo - Silky Merino


Cinnamon - 2 skeins - Pigeon Roof Studios

What will you be working on when you have no more holiday knitting deadlines?

December 19, 2007

A visual post

While I'm away today, I thought you would enjoy some visuals; as usual, click the photos for more details.

Stitch Markers


Panda Silk Sock


Manos


And finally, please don't miss this bit of inspiration -- I've got a list of projects I want to work on beginning December 26, 2007. Till then, I'm daydreaming about knitting, about Noro yarn ("Cash Island" to be precise), and about making some lovely ornaments for the 2008 holiday.

Details later -- I'm going to go party with some 9-year olds.

December 16, 2007

Am busy?

I'm sorry. Can't post now. Am busy.
Malabrigo Pom Pom

And it's something to cross off the list of things I wanted to accomplish in 2007. Click photo for details.

December 15, 2007

Looking forward by looking back

There's still time to share your recipes! I'll draw a name after the holidays.

For now, I wanted to share that it's been a purposeful thing for me to be doing absolutely NO gift knitting in the days leading up the holidays. I wholeheartedly believe in knitted gifts, and I enjoy seeing what others are knitting for their friends and loved ones; I just made it a point to lower my expectations for myself in the belief that if it wasn't already done, it wasn't going to get done.

So with no knitting to show until December 26th, you'll have to put up with some non-knitting content.

I learned so much last month while both my mom and daughter were here at the same time -- when three generations are under one roof for a couple of weeks, there are some things you can't help but figure out about yourself.

Mom/Me/Daughter

One of the things that Erica told me was that she wants to be able to stay home with her kids (when she has them, that is -- we're not in any hurry, right?) I vividly remember the agonizing choice it was for us to decide that I would no longer work full time, but would be there for her when she got home from school every day. At the time, it was JUST her and we had no plans for other children yet. To sit across from her as a full-grown young woman, and have her tell me that she will be making the same choice -- was a gift. When I quit my job, she was almost 8 -- and I know she remembers how much I enjoyed my job and the co-workers I considered my friends. On paper, it wasn't so clear that we could AFFORD the choice, but once we made the decision, I never went back to work full-time. Since then, whenever I've considered going back to work, even though the opportunities were good ones, the time still isn't right. For now, I'm happy with my part-time position at my local yarn shop.

Now that I have the boys (who will be 10 and 8 next year), I can't imagine not being a part of their day. While my mom was here, she questioned why I go to so much trouble to drop them off and pick them up at school. This is the first year I have done this -- that I haven't taken advantage of the school bus that stops directly in front of our house. I tried to express to her that I do it because I can; because I know that I will never get this time back. When Erica graduated from high school this past May, it was probably THAT day that I realized how quickly time had passed. And frankly, it's the reason I don't knit as much as I used to. And when my mom asked why I make their lunches every morning (and I indulge the limited palate of my youngest son by fixing him the SAME THING every day), I tried to explain it as ONE tiny little thing in the big picture. We don't spoil them, but I do try to indulge them when I can.

The kicker -- each of them has delighted me this past year by confirming in some way that they appreciate my knitting. My youngest has been the most vocal about asking for handknit socks and demanding to learn how to knit (we still have an attention and attitude issue). My older son is quietly appreciative that I knit him some blue socks and he said he would like a matching hat, scarf and mittens. And Erica called and left me a voice mail last night asking that I send her a text message with the name and number of the yarn store closest to her so she can buy find yarn to knit a scarf for her dad. (Oh, I hope they're nice to her there!)

And in this photo, taken the day before she left to go back to Florida:

Erica knitting

She felll in love with the "Geranio" Malabrigo Worsted -- it was so irresistible she had to cast on and start knitting at the store

December 12, 2007

Your recipes

I love it when bloggers share their recipes and post photos of food -- and it's rarely pastries or cake that catch my eye and make me want to cook -- it's the savory, the highly flavored.

Here are a few notables that I am going to share so that I can capture the links and can come back to them:

Lynne's Bacon, Potato, Leek Soup
Catherine's Gumbo
Kim's Minestra di Lenticchie
Leslie's legendary Cinnamon Apple Cake
Lolly's Butternut Squash Parmesan Gratin
Alicia Paulson's Mushroom Marsala
Andy Paulson's Eggrolls
Fluffa!'s Salsa Mexicana
Cheri's Pico de Gallo
Wen's Chicken and Dumplings
Angry Chicken's Curry Cauliflower Soup

Now it's YOUR turn. Share a recipe you've posted on your blog (I love food photos) or on Flickr and if you link to it in the comments, I'll add your name to a drawing for something special -- a pair of knit-to-order socks. If one of your recipes is linked above and you'd like a chance to win some handknit socks, give me a shout-out in my comments.

Thank you guys for reading and sharing and thank you for offering some of the nicest comments and feedback I've ever received (on yesterday's entry). I'm trying to reply to all of your comments personally and I keep getting a bit sidetracked. But please know that I appreciate everyone's words. Nora, thank you for your simple and perfect advice about my other concern. I will follow it.

Sixth birthday
A photo from my 6th birthday -- when I asked my mom to fix hamburgers to go with my birthday cake

December 11, 2007

Wrong impressions

1970 passport photo:

squarejanet.jpg

I've debated even writing about this but it's just lingering in my head; sometimes writing THROUGH something is easier than writing ABOUT something.

On Sunday we had to take my mom to the airport for her trip to see my younger sister. She stayed with us for a month and we were able to enjoy some great Japanese food and spend time with each other. I still haven't picked up my knitting as much as I'd like, but it can wait.

Since she needs a wheelchair at the airport, I typically ask a ticket agent for a pass that will enable me to accompany her to the gate (I've done this a few times in the past with no problems). One of the Continental Airlines employees pointed me towards a set of three ticket agents who were free and I approached them and asked them for a pass -- I gestured toward my mom who was waiting on the other side of the ropes (in her wheelchair) and I asked for a pass to go back to the gate with her. I explained that I was her daughter and the male ticket agent looked at me -- then looked at her -- and I said, "She's Japanese." The ticket agent said, "How do I know you're her daughter?" (Obvioualy, since I'm married, I don't share the same last name as my mom). I told them my mother's name and where she was traveling and he just looked at me and said, "So you're HALF-Japanese?" He didn't believe me. He pointed at himself and said, "THIS is what half-Japanese looks like." And, actually, I could tell by looking at him that he was, in fact, Japanese. I asked him what the other half was and he said, "Dutch." (My other half is Irish-American, but he never asked me that). He very RELUCTANTLY gave me a pass to go to the gate with her and . . . I understand that it's his job . . . and I know I don't LOOK half-Japanese. I don't speak Japanese. I don't read it. I can't even use chopsticks. I didn't have anything on me other than my phone and my driver's license. I thought I was going to have to wheel my 78-year old mother to the ticket counter and let them interrogate her. He must have been feeling charitable -- he let me go to the gate.

I would love to go back and prove it to him, but I won't. I'm sure he's already forgotten about the 5'2" non-Japanese looking potential troublemaker. I had nothing other than my sincere insistence that I was being truthful and genuine. At this point, I'm just glad I didn't have my double pointed needles with me or they'd never have allowed me to go back with her!

Some things have happened recently that are making me wonder if I've given people the wrong impression or offended somebody in some way. I'm typically unfazed by what others think about me (you're free to not like me!), but it would really bother me if I have hurt somebody's feelings or offended them. Those of you I call my friends are those to whom I lend my full support -- and sometimes I'm overly enthusiastic about that. And because I know myself and I realize I'm NOT likely to ever go back and talk to that ticket agent (even though I could . . . and have had imaginary conversations about that in my mind), then it's highly likely that those whom I've offended will probably never tell me about it. That's okay too. Just know that I'm sorry.

By the way, if you're a reader, please know that you're allowed to lurk here and I'll never force you to comment; no delurking contests here. The comment approval system is in place so that when I hit "publish" and step away from my computer for the afternoon, I won't find a lot of spam comments or trackbacks when I get back. (I can count on one hand the times I've had to delete an offensive non-spam comment).

December 10, 2007

Catching up :: Mama Llama Trunk Show

UPDATE: Video added 12/10/2007 in the extended entry below:

On December 1, 2007, I went to the Mama Llama Trunk Show at Twisted Yarns and was again inspired by the wonderful hand-dyed yarns that Catherine creates. I first met Catherine at Yarntopia at the Crazy Aunt Purl book signing. It was good to see her again!

This is what I got and I can't wait to work with it:

Mama Llama Silken Cashmere Laceweight

And it matches the sock yarn I got in October:

Mama Llama sock yarn "Forest"

She had so many beautiful yarns and colors that it was a bit overwhelming:

Yarn Buffet

And, Catherine, I didn't forget that I owed you a knitting video -- see mine after the cut!

You'll have to go see how much slower than the Yarn Harlot I am:

http://www.archive.org/details/irishcottageknitting

December 09, 2007

I can knit with my eyes closed (sort of)

Opal Sock

Yesterday I took my mom to her hair appointment and decided to wait there with my knitting instead of leaving to run errands. While I was knitting my sock, I tried knitting with my eyes closed . . . and it worked . . . just by feel. I don't know that I'd choose to do that very often (I mean . . . why?) but it's a few more stitches in the dark, right?

I know that I've shared before that I always have a sock-in-progress that I can knit while I wait. No thinking. Just knitting. The Opal sock yarn was from a swap with Jennie. Earlier this year (thanks to Flickr) I jumped the gun on her de-stashing plans to let her know I wanted that sock yarn. I'd never knit with Opal and wanted to try it -- plus, I love self-striping sock yarns. It's utterly unsophisticated but a wonderful excuse to knit socks with your eyes closed.

December 08, 2007

Happy holiday knitting

S'more knitting?

The holiday knitting at Chez Twisted Knitter doesn't include gift knitting -- there are no deadlines here this holiday season. Last year, I sent my sister her first pair of handknit socks. We talked last night and she told me that she's worn a hole in the heel. I reminded her that it's the highest compliment that can be paid a sock knitter -- and that they were meant to be worn! Guess who's likely to get more handknit socks?

Last week, I got some new double-pointed needles to test:

New needles to try!

My fellow Pretty Posie, Elizabeth of Trailing Yarn, sent them to me. She also sent circular needles and challenged me to convert to Magic Loop. But where would that leave me with my wonderful collection of DPNs?

I'm intrigued by the Hiya Hiya needles and can't wait to give them a try (today?) and will share my feedback here. Thanks again, Elizabeth!

December 06, 2007

This knitter's story

I want to thank all of my readers for being so encouraging, affirming and receptive to the personal stories I've shared here. Each time I've extended myself even a little bit and given you a glimpse into my non-knitting world, you've been so accepting. However, if you all hadn't dared share your lives first, I probably wouldn't have had the courage to share mine. So thank you.

Next week will be the 4-year anniversary of when I picked up knitting needles to knit some dishcloths for my mom. Four years later, I'm surprised -- not only that I am still knitting but more excited about it than ever. There's just always more room to learn something, to challenge myself and to grow -- those things that I love to do anyway. And a couple of days ago, a timely e-newsletter arrived from Ali Edwards (have you signed up for it yet? You should!)

I'm going to share the quotation that she posted as part of #3 (she gave five points for working through creative fear):


"Eventually I discovered for myself the utterly simple prescription for creativity: be intensely yourself. Don't try to be outstanding; don't try to be a success; don't try to do pictures for others to look at - just please yourself."- Ralph Steiner

There always seems to be an undercurrent of competitiveness during the holidays but I try really hard not to make it about what I'm doing vs what others are doing. I am not trying to be the most organized or have all my shopping done by a certain date; my genuine effort is to give my time and my focus to others -- and to make absolutely sure I am not too busy to really BE THERE. I think it's important not to demand more of ourselves during the holidays than we typically do throughout the year. Do what brings your families, friends and loved ones JOY.

Simply wrapped

I have a lot to share over the next several days, but this is meant as a big thank you to those of you who stop by and read my little knitting blog and take the time to comment.