Saturday, December 30, 2006

At First: A Year in Review

An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in.
A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.
-Bill Vaughn

I love this meme - saw it at Cara's and Bag'n'Trash recently.

The first sentence of each first post of the month for 2006:

I thought I'd add a twist and include the quotation from that entry as well, since I always post a quotation in each entry.


Good resolutions are simply checks men draw
on a bank where they have no account.

-Oscar Wilde

I'm out of town visiting lovely (but blogless) friends for New Year's, and really just to visit, so I cleverly split up my reflections and resolutions into two posts.

There is one thing I would break up over,
and that is if she caught me with another woman.

I wouldn't stand for that.

-Steve Martin

Dear Flora-in-Whisper,
You were a beautiful pattern, a nice idea to knit flowers for Mrs. Dalloway, and a lovely color of orange.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure . . . than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. -Theodore RooseveltI am astonished and amazed at all the amazing comments on Am Kamin yesterday, and all your collective support for the Knitting Olympics.

"You can't wait for inspiration. You have to have to go after it with a club."
- Jack London

Hi Everyone, I'm Terri's Mom and the happy recipient of beautiful knitted items.

Summer afternoon, summer afternoon;
to me those have always been the two most beautiful words
in the English language.
-Henry James
Every production of an artist should be
the expression of an adventure of his soul.
-William Somerset Maugham

To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.
-Chinese Proverb Thanks for all the fabulous comments yesterday.
If we knew what it was we were doing,
it would not be called research, would it?
-Albert Einstein

If you've been to the Amazing Lace recently, you know it's hopping.

When you fall into a river,
you're no longer a fisherman;
you're a swimmer.
-Gene Hill

I've seen it, you've seen it, we've all seen it all over blogland - the apologies from bloggers on vacation, bloggers with new jobs, bloggers whose real lives have taken precedence over their blogs (and even - gasp! - their knitting!).

I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, natural history and naval architecture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry, and porcelain.
-John Adams

It has been previously discussed that the most difficult packing challenge for a trip is always the yarn.

This race and this country and this life produced me.
I shall express myself as I am.
-James Joyce,
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The photos from my trip to Texas are long overdue.


The artist is nothing without the gift,
but the gift is nothing without work.
-Emile Zola

The Christmas knitting rush is beginning.

Men invade another country.
It's a whole different way of thinking.
-Elayne Boosler

And now, for some non-secret Christmas knitting.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Very Knitty Holiday . . . Continued

Every day is a holiday;
Every meal is a feast.
-Tim Lebling

If you are lucky, this will be the last of the Christmas posts. No guarantees, but I think I'm nearing the end. In addition to the knitted gifts given, there were a number of knitty gifts received. It's like people think I like to knit, or something! Wonder where they got that idea . . .

The flitgirl
sent me Jordana Paige's Knitter's Satchel. This is one classy knitting bag. As she noted, it looks like an old-fashioned doctor's bag, and sure is a big step up from the backpack I usually carry. It's nice-looking enough to take anywhere, and look how huge the inside is! On Christmas I was carrying a whole bag of cookies, a scarf in progress, and all the wallet, keys, pagers, etc. that a girl needs, and there was still plenty of room. Do you see the nice knitterly features inside? The loop to hold your yarn and keep it from rolling all over the floor? The loops to hold spare needles? The detachable notions case? Plus, the bottom has little metal feet on it, perfect for putting next to your chair at the coffee shop.

In case I really do need to carry around more than will fit there, my sister and brother sent me this great LL Bean tote. Can you believe I lived in New England for 8 years without one?
Peaking out of the tote is a gift from my uncle and his lovely lady. She happens to be a librarian, so she's able to put those nice covers on the dust jackets. You know the kind. It'll keep this book in much better shape than most of the other books that get thrown in the aforementioned knitting bags . . . The book is Knit 2 Together, and it has some fabulous patterns. I must say that I'm pretty impressed two muggle non-knitting relatives were able to get a knitting book that I a) wanted and b) didn't already have. Have you seen the Rowena cardigan? I think I may have finally found a sweater my sister would love.

And, in the "I love handmade gifts" category, my grandmom sent me these towels for the kitchen. How cute are they? Just in time for me to be taking down the excessive many festive Christmas dish towels!

To prove that I am actually doing some knitting, here's a scarf I've been working on this week: It's a simple Feather and Fan variation (free pattern here) in the New Zealand mohair that Meg sent me as some contest winnings back in August. A dear friend of mine suffered a loss this Christmas, and I was wanting to send her a tangible hug, something since I couldn't be there in person. Just as soon as the thought entered my head, I saw this yarn sitting on top of my basket of "nice" yarn. (Reason 462 to keep your yarn where you can see it.) It's soft, warm, and, while the colors are darker than I would usually wear, especially in San Diego, they are exactly perfect for this friend. Interspersed among the black, purple, and dark green are these stitches of a bright red and blue. Just a little hope in the darkness, I think. Sometimes these things just work out, from a knitting perspective.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Well Received

The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree:
the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other.
-Burton Hillis

All the Christmas gifts were well-received and the handknit gifts can now be discussed on the blog. . . . Unfortunately, I neglected to take photos of all of them in my rush to get them in the mail. (So Dad, this serves as your reminder to send the modeled photos along.)

In no particular order, I made
  • Trekking Socks for my dad. See how much he loves Handknit Socks?
  • Fetching for my mom. She also loves handknits. (Blogged here for holiday secrets.)
  • Facecloths (with complimentary soaps) for the beau's family - 3 linen, 2 cotton, and 1 chenille - the beau's eight-year-old neice loved the reverse bloom washcloth
  • A hat and scarf set for my uncle
  • A scarf for my cousin (who made the ornament to the right - how cute, even a little scarred from the move)
The knitted gifts were well-received, but several things were even better:
  • Meeting the beau's whole family. Speaking of being well-received . . .
  • The ornament to the right - it's gorgeous, unique (made from ashes from the Mt. St. Helen's explosion in 1980), and sentimental (Kate D's mom gave it to me last Christmas)
  • And the best surprise? My brother and my beau collaborated for several weeks on a video conference call between me and my family on Christmas. I don't know who was more surprised - my mom or me - but it was great. I even got to say hi to the dog! Definitely the next best thing to being home for Christmas.
I hope all your handknit gifts were just as well-received. If you're now itching to knit for yourself, check out Jen's It's Not a Gift 2.0 Knitalong. Should be a great time.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas!

Christmas, children, is not a date. It is a state of mind.
-Mary Ellen Chase

I chose the above quotation very carefully. I'm working today, all night, and tomorrow morning. Of course. But hospitals are easy places to count your blessings, and this year I have many, not the least of which is work I love. So that Christmas state of mind? It'll still be there tomorrow when the beau and I celebrate Christmas with his family. See how the blessings just pile up if you look? Merry Christmas, all!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Adding to the Tree

The perfect Christmas tree? All Christmas trees are perfect.
-Charles N. Barnard

I've gotten an awful lot of packages this month. A lot. My mailman and I are on a first name basis and my neighbors seem convinced that I must be upto something. It's the compensation for living far from your entire family and most of your friends at Christmastime. But let me tell you about one of the most fun (. . . and if it was the most fun because I could open it already and didn't have to wait for Christmas Day, well, so be it. It's still great.). Paula, the Basset Knitter, was my Knit the Classics Christmas ornament swap partner, and what a partner! The swap was for handknit gifts, and I got three! Paula made the star and tree from Elizabeth Zimmeran's Knitting Almanac. More incredible? The snowman is her own design. Don't you love how warm and cozy he looks? I do. Thanks, Paula!

I'll take some better photos when I put them on the tree, but you may recall that my Christmas tree is actually at the beau's apartment. We're having a staged Christmas starting on Saturday, so you won't have to wait too long.

In the interest of completeness, I sent my handknit ornament to Jane in Maine. She blogged about it here, and that's the only photo of this you'll see, since I didn't take one of my own. It's the KnitPicks Holiday Cheer Holly ornament. Very fun for leftover sock yarn, by the way.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Blogland Christmas Party

At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year.
-Thomas Tusser, The Farmers' Daily Diet

You've all gotten the idea by now that I'm, uh, a little into Christmas, right? It's definitely my favorite holiday, and irrespective of all the other fun, I've been enjoying reading all the Christmas-y blog posts out there. Here are a few of my favorite festive posts:
And so that we have a photo, here's a stocking I made from the Christmas Stockings book - you know the one. I consider this one as a prototype, as it's made out of Sugar and Cream. Wouldn't a fabulous set in wool be great? Someday . . .

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Fun With Macro, er, Manly Gifts

There is no happiness in having or getting; only in giving.
-Henry Drummond

I made my mailing deadline yesterday - hurrah! So I guess I'll actually post about some of the Christmas knitting and not just show you random photographs of things lying around. Apparently I think all the men in my life like neutral tones. I may or may not be right about this, but look at what they're getting for Christmas:

First up - the second to last in the set of Christmas face cloths. This is also in Mission Falls 1984 cotton, in off-white. It took nearly all of 50 grams, minus a previous swatch. I used some random dishcloth pattern. Seed stitch is very manly, right? And second is a scarf that's actually part of a scarf-and-hat set. I was literally weaving in ends of the hat in line at the post office, so no photos of that yet. I'll coerce my relatives in getting modeled photos for me. This is a mistake stitch rib scarf in KnitPicks Decadence. Oh, you wanted the official details to see how it compares to Laura's? Fair enough.

Manly Ribbed Scarf
Pattern: mistake stitch rib on 27sts
Yarn: KnitPicks Decadence in tan or khaki or whatever they're calling beige these days
Needles: Addi Turbos US11 - and boy were they speedy!
Notes: Only two skeins to make a long (5'6") scarf that blocked out plenty wide enough - that's about $12 for those of us on a budget. And for another skein a made a matching hat with a roll-up brim, although I used US10 needles for that and it took every inch of the 50g.Best Thing About This Project: I'm pretty sure the recipient doesn't read the blog. And even if he does? It's a family-wide Pollyanna, so he won't know it's for him until he opens it. Finally some knitting I can blog about!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Inquiring Minds

Let's be naughty and save Santa a trip.
-Gary Allen

You will all be pleased to know that I am half a hat away from finishing the secret Christmas knitting, and that it will be in the mail by 5:00 pm today. Then I may actually have something to show on this blog, other than yet more family Christmas traditions. See those pajamas? They would be my annual new Christmas pajamas. I think we got them as kids so that we would look cute on Christmas morning in photos, but it's a tradition that has continued. . . which is why all my p.j.s are some kind of red, green, or actual-Christmas-scenery festive.

In other news, I'll take this opportunity to answer some blog questions.

Elizabeth asks Inquiring minds want to know how much wool is in your stash right now?
Um, a lot. But the nights in San Diego have been surprisingly chilly. I've been wearing socks made out of Lopi. And why does this sound like a ploy to get me to send her yarn, anyway?
Knitzalot comments that Your apartment is so clean.
That's because I'm spending every third night at the hospital. Ever notice how the people with the cleanest kitchens are those who never cook? Same deal.
And everybody seems to want to know some variation on this theme: Does this mean the beau is also staying in San Diego?
Let me put it this way - pending the selection board results, we had plans A through K. And now that we both got our first choice, we're fortunate enough to be working on plan A. So don't worry about me and my beau - we're got it all figured out.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Back to Christmas Decorating

What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly:
it is dearness only that gives everything it's value.

-Thomas Paine

And now, a return to our regularly scheduled Christmas decorating programming. My mom expressed concern that after all that work decorating the beau's apartment I wouldn't want to decorate my own. For the benefit of my mom (and dad, and grandmothers, and aunts, and any other relatives reading my blog), I thought I'd share some of my favorite touches.

On the right are several of my favorites (as well as proof that I'm being good and not opening until Christmas!) - see the cute snowman? A gift from my mom. See the Santa? A gift from my late grandfather. It used to walk across the floor singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" but now it just makes a funny noise. I am, however, rather sentimentally attached. I think I've had it since I was about 5 years old. And not related to Christmas, but potentially of interest to the knitters - see those cranberry crates? They hold yarn. I love it.

I'd like to highlight in particular the handmade decorations:My grandmother made these angels for me. I think they're technically Christmas decorations, but I keep them up all year. Another fun knitting fact - my grandmom is a wonderful seamstress and knitter but she hadn't been doing much knitting for a number of years . . . until she started reading my blog (Hi, Grandmom!). It was the Mason-Dixon Ballband Dishcloths that did her in. And last I saw, she was making a whole bunch.

And if you needed proof that I really did decorate my entire apartment . . . don't forget the bathroom! This snowman was a gift from my uncle a couple of years ago. With a family like mine, isn't it any wonder that I'm so into Christmas?

Have you guessed that I haven't been knitting much lately? I do have a couple of last-minute secret gifts on the needles, but even with the approaching deadlines I don't think I've knit a stitch in 3 days. Why is that you might ask? Well, aside from the obvious being on call . . . I've been too busy celebrating. Turns out they're going to keep me in San Diego for at least another two years to finish my Internal Medicine training . . . definitely good news.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Three on Tuesday

The perfume of a single flower may call up the whole sweetness of spring.
-Willa Cather

Edited to add: Thanks to Jenn for reminding me that today is not, in fact, Tuesday. It is Monday. Um, I knew that. Really. I was just, uh, being ironical. Yeah. That's it. Ironical.

I interrupt our regularly scheduled Christmas-decorating programming for three actual knitting topics.

1. Some non-secret knitting:I was finally able to join some of the San Diego knitters for some Saturday afternoon coffee, conversation, and, of course, knitting. I took something that required a little attention but not too much and finished 80% of the Reverse Bloom Washcloth, yet another of the Christmas facecloths. Yes, it really is that bright pink.

2. How cool is this? Sock blocker keychains from Felt Up Designs. You can knit all sorts of mini-socks and change out our keychain decoration to suit your mood. I just couldn't resist buying a whole bunch - you never know when someone might want one, or you might need a stand-in for an overdue pair of gift socks. They are handmade and nice and smooth, just perfect.

3. And speaking of perfect and gifts, go and check out Mary Lou's Tiger Hat pattern at Yarnerinas. This is a really fun and well-designed hat pattern that she's selling to benefit Heifer International. It might make you feel less guilty about adding to your pattern stash knowing that it's going to a good cause.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

How I Made the Stockings

Embroidery has a natural affinity for flowers.
It can also, of course, represent nothing at all.
-Chris Rankin

More fun details on how I made the stockings: I went to the thrift store and I got a whole bunch, but the colorwork ones seemed the most promising and felted to the right texture - enough, but not too much. I made a template from my injured stocking out of a brown paper bag, cut the stockings, and sewed them together on a sewing machine. My sewing skills are as rudimentary as my embroidery (very), but even I could handle this (the Craftster tutorials were very helpful). After the first one, I realized that if I used the bottom sweater ribbing as the top of the stocking, I had a built in border. For the first one, I went back and blanket-stitched the ribbing onto the top. I was going to embroider (somehow) our names across the ribbing, but gave up after multiple attempts at a multitude of stitches, all of which looked worse than "country chic." We will tell them apart by their patterns.

Some helpful hints for anyone else felting entire sweaters and making things (anything really:)
  • If the sweater pills now, it will really pill later.
  • Thick Aran sweaters make really thick fulled fabric.
  • For some reason all the red sweaters felted more. I don't know why.
  • You CAN felt in a front loading washer. I used the "Superwash" setting and hot/cold with heavy agitation. Worked great on the first try, then I stuck them in the dryer. I don't have all year, after all.
  • The sleeves creased at the fold line, so if you were going to do something involving the sleeves, I'd take them apart before felting.
  • This is awfully thick for the sewing machine. Patience.
  • There are some really nice sweaters at the thrift store. Shetland wool, etc. $3.99 a piece. Hard to beat that.
Highly recommended, and way faster than knitting the 17 stockings Tam is knitting at Knit Once, Purl Forever. Go cheer her on - that's an awful lot of work!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

By the Chimney

And the stockings were hung by the chimney with care . . .
-The Night Before Christmas, Clement Clarke Moore

I'm glad you all liked my our Christmas decorating. You'll be pleased to know that the beau and I are still on good speaking terms, so long as I don't publish any photos of him crawling under the tree on the blog. Fair enough, I suppose.

Several of you requested a closer look at the stockings, and some even thought that I had knit them. Not quite, but I did make them.
I made these stockings last year shortly after Christmas. (I do most of my Christmas crafting after Christmas, it seems. Beforehand I'm too busy knitting gifts, and afterwards it helps prolong the season for me.) I needed a new stocking, you see, because Santa had put a little too much coal in it. Real coal, not just that overpriced Restoration Hardware stuff. It's a family tradition.*

You probably do not recall that my original plan last year had been to knit Christmas stockings for the family. Let's face it - that's a lot of work, especially when they need to be lined, and I was on a stashalong at the time, and, well, I had other things to knit. So I decided it'd be fun to play with felting sweaters, and betook myself to the thrift store for sweaters to felt. I'll save the crafty details for the next post, but I think they came out quite well.

And since I'm now using them in San Diego, isn't it a good thing I didn't put any names on them? Some day I'd love to make the beau and myself gorgeous Fair Isle stockings in real Shetland wool, or maybe some heavily patterned Aran ones, or something. But you didn't really think I'd knit for him this year, did you?

*A friend of mine has a theory that there are two types of families in the world: Those who get toothbrushes in their stockings and those who do not. We've always fallen squarely in the toothbrush camp - Who doesn't want to open more presents? And even though I am far from home (and working a 30-hour day from Christmas Eve through noon on Christmas day), I'll still get the family experience - my mom's package full of little stocking stuffers has already arrived . . . and it's overflowing. Perhaps we should hang two stockings each this year?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Harder Than It Looks

Once again we find ourselves enmeshed in the Holiday Season, that very special time of year when we join with our loved ones in sharing centuries-old traditions such as trying to find a parking space at the mall. We traditionally do this in my family by driving around the parking lot until we see a shopper emerge from the mall, then we follow her, in very much the same spirit as the Three Wise Men, who 2,000 years ago followed a star, week after week, until it led them to a parking space.
-Dave Barry

Putting up a Christmas tree . . . harder than it looks. The beau and I spent our entire Saturday picking out a tree (all wrapped up in twine from the journey down from Washington State), buying a Christmas tree stand, and some lights, and a wreath, and some garland, and . . . (hey - he told me to get whatever I wanted!), tying it to the top of the car (and this is why we should all date Eagle Scouts), and setting it into the stand. Did I mention that I have a whole new appreciation for my dad these days? All those trees he's put up over the years . . . It was way harder than it looks to get it straight, string the lights, find the perfect angle . . . The decorating was the easy part. But wasn't it worth it? (It was dark when we finished, so excuse the poor photo quality.) There are surprisingly few handknit ornaments on the tree, given my minor obsession with the small round objects. I guess I give most of them away. We also decorated the mantle a bit with pinecones and ribbons. I made the stockings; full post to follow.
In other Christmas decorating news (and yes that was your only knitting content in this post), I'm learning that there are distinct advantages to the masculine way of decorating . . . which is not at all. We primarly decorated the beau's place since his family is coming out for Christmas, and his completely bare white walls were just a tabula rasa for Christmas fun. It actually looks quite elegant . . . except for the chili pepper lights we just couldn't resist. They look great with the kitchen adornments below! Now aren't we all in the mood to finish our Christmas knitting?

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Soul of Wit

Brevity is the soul of wit.
-William Shakespeare

When Rachel succumbed, I had to. This is one meme I've actually enjoyed reading.

It’s Only Words



1. Yourself: trying
2. Your boyfriend: real
3. Your hair: long
4. Your mother: kind
5. Your father: dedicated
6. Your favorite item: socks
7. Your dream last night: sleepless
8. Your favorite drink: coffee
9. Your dream car: mine
10. The room you are in: CCU
11. Your ex: friend
12. Your fear: error
13. What you want to be in 10 years? better
14. Who you hung out with last night: patients
15. What you’re not? rested
16. Muffin: scone
17. One of Your Wish List Items: CottonKureyon
18. Time: more
19. The last thing you did: EKGs
20. What you are wearing: scrubs
21. Your favorite weather: fall
22. Your favorite book: Pride&Prejudice
23. The last thing you ate: coffee
24. Your life: busy
25. Your mood: festive
26. Your best friend: several
27. What are you thinking about right now? Christmas
28. Your car: Felix
29. What are you doing at the moment? this
30. Your summer: changed
31. Your relationship status: bliss
32. What is on your TV? telemetry?
33. What is the weather like? clear
34. When is the last time you laughed? rounds

The Cotton Kureyon above is another wonderful blog gift. Mary Lou over at Yarnernias saw my post about buying Cotton Kureyon and offered to send me her leftovers, seems to be about a skein's worth. Check out the gorgeous blankets she's been making out of it. And if anyone else is coming out of the woodwork, I'm still searching for any and all quantities of any and all colors of Cotton Kureyon. Let me know if you find some, have some, anything. I'm still about 10 skeins short for my grand vision.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Stash Success Story

When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping.
Men invade another country.
It's a whole different way of thinking.
-Elayne Boosler

And now, for some non-secret Christmas knitting. Remember the Christmas facecloths? Remember how much I love Rachel? Remember my frustration at the never-shrinking stash? Remember my struggles about good gifts for men I don't know all that well? (Well, OK, I didn't blog about that. But you get it, right?)

All my problems are solved: The Manly Facecloth. To be gifted with Manly Soap.Rachel assures me that rugged cotton in rugged patterns with rugged soap is Very Manly. I believe her. She has great taste.Again, I'll do a little FO post when all of them are assembled (er, finished). But this used a random skein of Mission Falls 1824 cotton that had been sitting in my stash for at least 4 years after a brief ill-fated swatching episode. That's one line off the spreadsheet . . . and one line off my Christmas list.