Saturday, December 29, 2007

Drawing to a Close: Goodbye 2007!

Wow! Wasn't it October just last week? Like many bloggers, I feel a bit compelled to write about nostalgia for 2007, though I'm not sure why. Next week will really just be another week, and I'll have to start putting 2008 on the few checks I still write. But we make New Year's Resolutions, most of which are broken in January - there are the always-popular diet and exercise plans; we knitters vow to cut back or stop yarn buying, as Ravelry has made us aware of our yarn stash, whether we've photo'd and posted it or not; and we also promise ourselves to try new techniques and projects, to knit more and blog/surf/Rav it less. Yep, those are all vaguely in the works here Chez CBM.

Personally, I have enough yarn to stock a small store, 150 miles of it, not counting what I'd like to sell. Last night I brought home what I intend to be the last purchase of 2007, 2 big skeins of some heavenly alpaca, 1330 yards of DK softness. Stephanie at Unwind Yarns found a small producer in Granby, Colorado, called Lonesome Stone, and their colors are wonderful. When I saw the sample skeins a few weeks ago, I started obsessing about this green, called Forever Evergreen, and after 5 days of trying to talk myself out of it, I ordered 2 skeins. I'm thinking big, warm, use-daily sort of shawl here, maybe Cheryl Oberle's Wool Peddler's Shawl, from her Folk Shawls book, something that will show off the gorgeous colors and yet be a fairly quick knit. The shawl link is to a nice photo of one knitter's project.

At the moment I have several projects going - no surprise to you, of course. I have about a foot of a wider version of Jo Sharp's Misty Garden scarf from Scarf Style; I'm using a 480 skein of Cherry Tree Hill's Sockittome yarn, in a melange of pale greens, blues and lavenders, sort of a mother-of-pearl colorway, a lucky accident from their 'Lottery' line of left-over dye experiments. There are a couple of hats, baby and otherwise, and a couple of baby sweaters on the list for charity projects, and I have to finish swatching for an entrelac vest for DH, using Patons SWS soy-silk/wool yarn in Natural Slate. So the needles are busy here. All this knitting has been making my wrists ache, but I tend to sleep with them curled up, so I've dug out my heavy-duty braces and sleeping with them on for the last few nights has really helped.

My three SnB groups have all had lots of holiday fun. My seniors group was a source of hundreds and hundreds of calories, with all the fudge, cookies and other treats. I gave all of them little tape measures from Unwind; an inexpensive but so-useful gift. My Monday group doesn't exchange prezzies, but we got together 7 of us for lunch last week, and there'll be another fun meet-up on Monday, a very quiet but enjoyable way to see in the New Year (well, the noon-time version, anyway!). And my Friday night group had a potluck at one of our members' home, a lovely time, with several kinds of wine, HoneyBaked ham, shrimp cocktail and so forth. We had our first yarn swap, and I *think* I got rid of more than they talked me into bringing home, several coordinating skeins of KnitPicks Elegance alpaca/silk blend yarn, enough to make a small striped shoulder shawl. Sorry, no photos of the frivolity.

Santa, aka DH, was good to me: I got a bunch of knitting books, among them Jean Frost's Jackets book, the Best of Knitters' Jackets and Clara Parkes' new book, The Knitter's Book of Yarn. Plus a new small camera, a Sony T200; the baby thing is about the size of a business card case. I'm hoping that the smaller size will make it easy for me to carry around and to take more blog pictures.

I will leave you with the same wishes I had last year, since I find that knitting in 2007 has brought more of the same wonderful things. To all my knitting friends, I thank you for your friendship, your morale support, your posts and comments, and all the other things you bring to my life. You do so much for others, with gifts and charity knitting and monetary contributions to those who need your help. Be safe, be warm and be as happy as you can. And tonight or tomorrow or when you can, whether you have already done so or not, listen to the Toast for a New Year; I hope it will provide thoughts, comfort, inspiration and resolve for you as it does for me.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

They Just Fly By, Don't They?

The years, I mean. Tomorrow DH and I will celebrate 16 years of marriage. In October we marked the 20th year of being a couple. I am married to the nicest guy on the planet; I am so damned lucky!

1991 was so different from now, in so many ways. We'd bought the house that April, a major fixer-upper and were learning the trials of commuting from Burbank to West LA - there's no good or quick or public-transit way to get from here to there. After only 4 years, my relatively high-powered job as tax manager for a formerly huge national corporation was vanishing, a victim of the late-80s wave of over-leveraged corporate debts. I was working very long hours, but I didn't have a new job lined up for the day the pink slip showed up. Everything we had saved had gone into the house purchase, so our finances were shaky in spite of good salaries.

So we decided on a very financially prudent, small-scale wedding. We went to Lost Wages and to a little chapel, where the wedding party was just the two of us. It was nice; the minister had Really Big Hair, since her night-time job was Country-Western Singer. But the words she said were touching and appropriate, and the bride cried happy tears.

Midnight and her sister Shadow were new members of our feline community, about 10 weeks old. Now as I write, Middy lies in front of the monitor, an elderly kitty at age 16; we lost Shadow in January and still miss her. The other two cats we had at that time have been gone for some years, both at age 11, our beautiful, feisty long-haired calico Chanel to cancer and our timid tiger, Tigger, to kidney failure. DH and I are closer to 60 than we like to acknowledge. Sixty? Huh?? Us? Can't be.

Fast forward to 2007.
I'm suffering some pre-holiday letdown. My belated gift boxes left yesterday, to Missouri and Illinois, Alaska and Washington State and Vancouver. I'm wrapping my little gifties to my seniors and a couple of other knitting pals. Only the outdoor decorations are up, due to the missing key to our storage space and DH's extreme overtime hours. He promises to take off time to get the tree and so forth on Saturday. Tomorrow I have to go get the manager of the storage facility to cut off the lock and put on a new one, complete with key.

My Friday night knitting group is having a potluck and yarn swap tomorrow, which will be fun. I have several projects fighting it out for first-up in my Ravelry knitting Queue - an entrelac vest for DH done in Patons SWS in Natural Slate, a lovely yarn that stripes slowly from silver-grey to charcoal; a cardigan for me in Cascade's Di.Vé Autunno, a lovely single-ply merino in deep blue-green; the lacy Branching Out scarf in Elann's Super Kydd in the pale blue/grey Pewter, etc. Tuesday night I finished the beautiful Liesel scarf, 2 skeins of KFI's Cashmereno in teal, and wore it yesterday; I craved the feel of the incredibly soft yarn around my neck, blocked or not.

Middy has been hanging out here at the computer all day. She's consented to having her tummy scratched, though the picture shows the difficulty in taking photos of all-black cats. She was very interested earlier in a little video from Cute Overload, a most tuneful and talented feline piano player.

DH's anniversary gift is wrapped, his Christmas prezzies are stashed here and there, waiting for wrappings and boxes and bows. I'm working at cheering up as I write, listening to Josh Groban's holiday album, hoping for some upbeatness. So I leave you with a bit of year-end color, one of our Schlumbergias, a vividly red Christmas cactus.

Happy holidays!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kitties and Their Toys

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Midnight adopted this box, and, since I'd just gotten her this kitty warmer mat from Drs Foster and Smith, I put it into the box. She's in there a lot now. I meant to catch her sleeping, but you know how that goes. So I used I Can Haz Cheezburger? to put a caption on it.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Well, Yes, I've Been Busy

How the heck did more than an entire month go by?

I've had some further unhappy adventures with the Internet. Intermittently, I couldn't get myself accepted by Google/Blogger, not even enough to post comments to my friends' blogs. Most recently AT&T Yahoo refused to recognize my password, and, in spite of my being really pretty certain of my date of birth, ZIP code of residence and favorite color code-word, refused to admit me to the email world.

Now that I think about it, this could have been an angry reaction to our decision to dump AT&T U-Verse TV service after only a few months. For those of you lucky enough not to have yet tried this new optic-fiber service, don't. U-Verse is NOT ready for prime time. (I expect the residents of Cleveland, OH, whose AT&T U-Verse TV service failed them during the 7th game of the American League baseball playoffs, may put their feelings a bit more strongly. I learned about the outage when I tried to get telephone support and was told they weren't dealing with any Internet issues right then.) [Ironically, as I am writing this, 2 hapless sales people from U-Verse knocked on my door. They're gone now. They have only small scorch marks on them; I tried to be as gentle as possible. My cleaning lady can vouch that they were still OK.]

OK. Moving on here. Charter Cable has more or less renewed our TV hookups, and the programs I expect to view at a certain time are there, not the 3-hours-different East Coast feed which was a major problem with U-Verse. As of last Friday, I am able to receive and send email once again.
The working email as of this minute is
catbookmom AT att DOTnet
This morning I got an email about a comment on my last blog post from the talented Dodile, so that blog-to-email link is back. Check out Dodile's lovely lace patterns both free (gratuit) and for sale at this link. Nearly all the patterns are in both French and English.

I've been knitting and knitting, and right now I have a huge urge to knit but my wrists are crying out from overwork, so I'm smelling strongly of Tiger Balm. I've finished lots of gifts: 5 pairs of mitts, 3 hats and 2 scarves, and I have a second scarf half done and a just-started 4th hat. I'm a bit past half-way on a Liesel Scarf for myself in lovely, soft blue-green KFI Cashmereno (stash!!). There's a limit on how many of these projects I can show you now, since many of these are for friends who read this blog. ;-D I really love how the scarf for my uncle has turned out. It's made with Paton's SWS in Natural Slate, using the Habit Forming pattern I found courtesy of Ravelry. The Habit in Habit Forming is the one and only Franklin, of The Panopticon, and the pattern has a very nice photo of him.

Last night I finished 2 quick hats for our honorary DGSs in Alaska. These aren't as nice as the superwash wool ones I made last year, just basic designs with Patons Shetland Chunky acrylic/wool yarn. I love the way the colors stripe and spiral.

All of this gift knitting has been the continuation of a huge amount of knitting productivity the last few months. There have been Afghans for Afghans hats, which went off just in time for the December 3 deadline - 3 hats I made since my last post, made from some lovely bulky Kross Mondial yarn, less than one skein per hat;3 tinier green ones I made sometime earlier in the year and a mohair/wool double-stranded Cloud hat, - all of these were from stash yarn!! - plus 2 absolutely adorable pairs of socks made by my dear friend JM. Check out the Dr Seuss-style fuschia star-toe pair!

And I've finished several baby hats for my seniors' charity group, who have had a special request from our local Temporary Aid Center. I forgot to take pictures of some of them. I've been making very basic stockinette and 2x2 ribbed hats, using some multicolor yarns I had in stash (hey, more stashbusting here!!), some Caron Simply Soft Shadows and Encore Colorspun. Speaking of my seniors' charity group, we had a great boutique this year. In the two days of the boutique, we sold over $1400 worth of scarves, hats, slippers, afghans, quilts and so forth. The following week, we displayed all the leftovers at our usual Friday meeting, and the front desk helped us to let others at the center know about them, and in that one afternoon, we sold another $500+. So we collected nearly $2000 this year! Woohoo!! We've already donated a lot of that to other groups around the community: a local parish's Thanksgiving dinner for the needy, postage to Operation Gratitude (along with our 225 hats for the soldiers), the Salvation Army, etc. According to Burbank's RSVP (Retired and Seniors Volunteer Program) administration, the over-600 of us seniors participating in projects contributed over 153,000 hours to various projects this year. Yay for us!!

Ah, yes, there have been new additions to the CBM Stash. Some Di.Vé. Autunno yarn, loosely spun merino, in a deep blue-green for an Emerald cardi (Knitty, Winter 2006) . More Patons SWS in Natural Slate for the Oat Couture Entrelac Tuxedo Vest for DH - he went wild over the scarf for my uncle, especially after he saw my swatch from trying to learn entrelac. Some absolutely yummy Austermann Inka (suri alpaca and wool) in off-white; this doesn't have a project yet, but oh, how soft and smooshy this is. Plus Elann has some great new house yarns arriving as December holiday gifts to their customers: a Silken Kydd (similar to Kid Silk Haze), a new chunky superwash wool, a lovely blend of wool/silk/bamboo, and a silk noile tweed. Some of the Silken Kydd in this gorgeous Baked Apple and some of the silk/bamboo blend will be coming here.

Last but not least, *of course* I've been spending too much time at Ravelry!! For a couple of weeks, it has been the only source of email I've been able to use. Plus there's the variety of forums and discussion groups. Last week, Stephanie started a new Unwind group. Check it out!! According to Casey, on a daily basis, Ravelry is now accepting twice as many new members as sign up, and as of yesterday there were only about 7500 in the waiting list. Go. Ravel in it!! Bwah-ha-ha!!