Thursday, May 29, 2008

Meme Again

Cindy, aka Baxterknits, has "challenged" me to a meme. Challenge accepted *G*

Here are the rules:Rules:* Answer at least three of the questions. Yes, I know a few look time-consuming and there are several of them. That's why I only ask for three. See? I'm nice!* Post them and the rules on your blog, and please link back to me here. Pretty please?*

Comment here telling me and the rest of our little party where you're at and link to yourself.That's all!* Oh yeah, don't forget to tag others!

What's the last book you read that you thought was really super, inspiring, you'd recommend it to most anyone?

Any of Jennifer Chiaverini's Quilters books. By chance one day, I bought 'Circle of Quilters', which is in the middle, and I immediately had to read more. 'Circle' tells of 5 quilters, how they came to quilting and how it has affected their lives. I'm not a quilter and don't want to be, but I found the stories to be extraordinarily similar to how I - and other knitters I've talked to - feel about knitting and its effect on us. You can get an omnibus of the first 3 novels for about $13 at Amazon, and I'm sure libraries carry these.

What food totally grosses you out, you'd never be able to touch it? Ew. Gag. *hurl*

Snakes or insects. Blech! I've eaten a lot of different kinds of game - elk, deer, antelope, rabbit, squirrel, and yes, Rocky Mountain oysters (no big deal) - and those are really good, especially when cooked properly. I've eaten snails and that's mostly garlic; I have no particular urge to eat more. Raw oysters, yep; DH and I enjoy them.

Did you ever watch a scary movie that frightened you so much you were afraid of the dark afterward? I mean like you're lying in bed trying to sleep, but you have to pee, but you're scared to get up. It doesn't have to be recently; could be when you were a kid. So what movie was it?

I don't usually watch scary movies, though the trailers for 'Jaws' freaked me out and I wouldn't to see it for years and years; finally saw it on cable. I think 'Wait Until Dark' is one of the scariest movies ever.

Is there a song that makes you dance every time you hear it? Would you tap you feet and sing along to it in public?

'Footloose', from the movie; 'Bailamos' by Enrique Iglesias (it's my ringtone on my cell); and 'Shall We Dance' from The King and I.

Tattoos: yes or no? Do you have any? Tell us! Do you think they're gross? TELL US!

Don't have, don't want, don't understand why others want them, especially those people who have big ones or all-over ones. In the words of Robert Heinlein and Michael, I don't grok it.

When's the last time you laughed so hard your ribs ached and/or you nearly peed yourself? What made you do it?

This little video from Cute Overload was the most recent.

Draw or doodle a picture of your pet(s) and post it if possible. Nothing fancy, don't be shy!

No drawing skills here. None.

Go through a stack or box of your old music. Stuff that you may not have heard in years. Pick one and tell us about it. Is it as good (or as bad) as you remember?

I've done some of this recently, to add to my iTunes library. Judy Collins - 'Both Sides Now', 'Send in the Clowns', 'Who Knows Where the Time Goes?' - all good folk. Chuck Mangione - 'Chase the Clouds Away', 'Feels So Good', etc. - oh, YEAH! Johnny Cash's Folsom Prison album - uh, no! (I lived in Wyoming for 10 years, had to listen).

Do you still sleep with a stuffed animal? We won't laugh!

No, but there are quite a few bears around here.

Ok, I'll tag smariek , TracyKM, and Joan If any of you eschew memes you're off the hook.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Sticks and Strings are Moving Along

I'm finally back to doing some knitting, picked it up over the weekend. My good friend Cindy, aka Baxterknits, has a new shawl pattern coming out, and I was jazzed when she asked me to proof-read it. I'm not so advanced a knitter that I can do much knitting in my head (my imagination is something else, lol!), so I cast on and zoomed along.

Like the other patterns from Baxterknits that I've done, this is a good design, more complicated-looking than it is to knit, and a good project for traveling or SnBs. It's essentially a 4-row pattern, which I found easier to knit from the written directions than the charts. This is also another of her patterns that can be done with those lovely one-skein-wonders we have in our stash. This yarn is Dream in Color's Smooshy sock yarn in Blue Lagoon, done on a US4 needle. The final version of the pattern should be available soon at Ravelry and Cindy's blog.

Last year Cindy authored a beginner's sock book for Leisure Arts, 'I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks', (it's part of a Leisure Arts series) and there are a lot of nice patterns and how-to's for newbie sock knitters. This year, she's done a book of kids' knitted designs, 'Lots of Love Knits for Kids; I haven't seen this one, but the cover is really cute! You may be able to find these at Michaels' and Jo-Ann's stores, which carry lots of pattern booklets from Leisure Arts.

I also made a lot of progress on my Woodland Shawl, the shawl for the Elves in the Ravelry 'One Shawl to Rule Them All' KAL. The group chose one knitted and one crocheted shawl for each of the Races of Middle Earth who were the Companions in the Lord of the Rings saga. This shawl is also being done in Smooshy, this one in Beach Fog. For some reason this immediately made me think of Galadriel, all sort of pale and misty.

The pattern is another really easy one, basically one 8-row repeat done twice, offset from the previous repeat, and the stitches on the wrong-side rows are knitted as presented. The edge is scalloped in the shape of the leaves in the pattern, and I think I'm going to block it this way, rather than trying to give it a straight edge. This one is also IMO easier to knit from the written directions.

This Smooshy yarn is really a joy to knit with, nicely sproingy and the colorways are subtle, with just hints of different colors, no striping or pooling.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Heeerree's Tonio!

We've finally conquered the problems with getting pictures of our newest DGS-by love. So here's Antonio (Tonio); check out the
message on the t-shirt at the right - 'Party in my Crib, 2 a.m.!

Call me

I rock!

Left Side? Right Side? Both?

Found this via an OT Ravelry post. This is fascinating. I am able to see the figure go both ways, one for a number of turns, then it goes the other way.

Where What How Why

I've been told I'm weird...... ;-D

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Miscellany in Prose but with Lots of Links

Gilda Radner's Roseanne Roseannadanna was right: "It's always something". BTW, that's the title of her memoir, an inspiring story of her fight against ovarian cancer. Just as I was finally beginning to come to terms with the scratchy-throat bug I've now had for nearly a month (though it is better, thanks), something I ate disagreed with me. So once again I've spent most of the week in the house, though with our current sky-high temps, that's not been so bad. As of 1pm today, it hit 100F in the shade on our back porch; it was over 80F at 9am and was still 80F about midnight. The whole continent seems to be scorching, and it isn't even Memorial Day. Hey, there, you Powers That Be in government, d'you think global warming might really be important enough to do something about and not just Al's delusions?

I've nearly worked my way through all of Nora Roberts' standalone novels, including a couple that I don't think I ever finished before; interestingly, those are from her very first books written for Jove Books in the late 80s (her genre fiction is published by Silhouette). IMO she got better as she went along. I tried knitting, but just didn't have the urge, though I managed to get nearly to the end of the Sea Silk (6g left) and thus the Sand and Sea Shells scarf.

A couple of weeks ago I got into a discussion at Ravelry about favorite hand creams and balms. I have psoriasis on my hands, which makes them very dry, itchy and much-inclined to peel and crack. As most knitters I know have found, working with yarn tends to dry out your hands, and I think most of us have also learned that washing your hands a lot during the course of a day may really help to keep us healthier. But all that washing also adds to the drying-out effects.

I've had my own little comparative testing going for the last couple of years, in search of the best hand creams to keep mine from snagging the yarn. I suppose my favorites are Neutrogena Norwegian Formula, a long-time standby, and The Body Shop's Almond Oil Intensive Hand Rescue (love the scent). My doctor recently recommended using Aquaphor at night, covered with cotton gloves, and I've tried that - wow, that stuff is like Vaseline! - though I'm not sure that it really helps as much as I'd hoped. I've tried Eucerin and most of the other drugstore 'heavy duty' creams, The Body Shop's 'bestseller' Hemp Hand Protector and Blue Sky Alpaca's Knitter's Little Helper, (can't stand the scent of either of these last two), etc. I've found that I am very particular - ok, picky - about the scent of my hand creams, and my nose rejects a lot of possibilities. And even my two favorites vanish in an hour or two.

Anyway, the Ravelry discussion brought Nanette, of the Knitting in Color blog to share her homemade hand balm recipe (here), and yesterday I made my first batch. I was excited about this, since my favorite scent is English lavender, and I can choose that essential oil to put into this balm. I had to put more beeswax in, as she suggests for a firmer balm, but the scent is perfect! I'll let you know how it works compared to the commercial ones.
For what it's worth (FWIW), I'm even more particular about lavender scents than others, and I currently only know 2 places that make lavender-scented products that I like - Norfolk Lavender in England and Jardin du Soleil in Washington State. After I visited Jardin du Soleil in 2002, I quit buying from England, but Norfolk products are excellent. The other lavender scents on the market, including those from L'Occitane (very good products), are mostly scented with other varieties of lavender, especially the most-produced in the world 'Grosso' variety, which has a harsher, sharper smell. IMO.
What are your favorite hand creams and balms? Do you find that wearing cream and gloves overnight helps? Any other ideas - other than standing around, uselessly showing off your jazz hands, and doing nothing - for keeping your hands soft? [Jayne, just for you]

Totally OT (if there is one to this post), if you don't check out Cute Overload on a daily basis, you are missing some of the biggest 'Awww's and laughs and chuckles on the planet. This one had DH nearly ROFL.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Family and So Forth

My mother's side of my family are generally very long-lived; she was the youngest of 5, and was nearly 82 when she died in January. One of the siblings died at 82 in 1995 from cancer. When I was in kindergarten and grade school, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and my aunts. And in the late 70s one of my cousins was stationed at the air force base in Denver, which gave us the chance to become friends as adults. He is the brother I never had, and we are still close in spite of the miles between us now. Last fall my cousin and his dad visited the rest of the siblings, and sent me a photo of them all.

The sibs are sitting in birth order, with my oldest cousin on the left next to her mom and my 'brother' cousin in the back next to his dad. My aunts are 98 and 86, my uncle was 90. Both of these aunts were very loving to me as a kid, part-time mothers. Sadly, my youngest aunt (on the right) passed away in January, from complications of surgery. My oldest aunt was just honored by the local Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), for her years of work as a grade-school aide and, since about 2004 when she had to 'retire' from that level of activity, her telephone support and 'check-in' network for the seniors in her area. She is the last of the original RSVPs in her area, having become a volunteer in 1973 when the program started. I just hope that I am blessed with even part of her stamina as I grow older.

This Just In
Right after I posted about our Family By Love, our newest DGS arrived, after a very short labor for Mom Anna. We're having 'technical difficulties' getting photos from there to here in a format I can post.
But I received photos of Abram, the DGS who joined the family in March, shown here with his Big Brother Noah.

Limited Knitting Content

After quite a hiatus, knitting mojo
has returned. Yesterday I finished nearly 3 repeats of my Sand & Sea Shells stole, with enough Sea Silk left for perhaps 2 repeats and the border. Between Friday night's SnB and last night's work, I also added another few repeats of my Dazed and Confused Zigzag Scarf.

I've promised myself I'm not going to cast on another lace project until I finish Sand & Sea Shells; I've got the new project ready to go, from a new KAL at Ravelry, "One Shawl to Rule Them All" . The group has selected a shawl for each of the four races represented in the Fellowship, hobbits, men, elves and dwarves, and I'm planning to start with the Elven choice, the Woodland Shawl. I have 2 skeins of Dream in Color's Smooshy yarn in the Beach Fog colorway, a pale version, which makes me think of Galadriel.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

We're Getting Spoiled

Just now on Ravelry I came across a forum thread started by a knitter who'd ordered from a small (not an indie) but wonderful yarn vendor on Monday and was worried about her yarn since the website was down today. I've seen other "should I worry?" threads there about slow delivery or slow response from an online vendor after just a couple of days. Some have gone into snarkiness and beyond. WTF? Can we say "Overreactors R Us?" What about the indie yarn dyers or pattern designers who've been touted on the big yarn blogs or podcasts - Yarn Harlot, WendyKnits, Lime & Violet, etc - who are just totally overwhelmed by the volume of orders they get in just a few hours. I expect you've read the stories, and those include lots of people who don't seem to get how big the yarn community has become. When Grumperina announced a contest to pick 6 people to receive skeins of the new Lorna's Laces yarn done in a color just for her, she got 1,000 posts. ONE THOUSAND, people!! Even with Lorna's Laces production capacity, the vendor couldn't keep up for a bit.

Now I deal with Elann a lot. Their orders are always shipped USPS Priority Mail, and it's rare that I don't get my yarn on the 3rd day after I order, unless it's a Canadian holiday or those days include weekends. KnitPicks used to be pretty slow, and so was WEBS, but both of those seem to have improved. Patternworks used to be notorious for shipping by way of turtles. There are a lot of other online vendors, knitting-related and otherwise, who are really speedy with delivery: Amazon, (shoes), etc.

So we can get spoiled quite easily and come to think that good service means just a couple of days. Maybe I'm just more patient than most, especially since I sometimes forget that I've emailed someone about an order and haven't heard back. Since I charge everything to VISA, I figure if it never comes, I can deal with getting a refund through them. Recently I've had transactions with a couple of yarn vendors that had backordered some stuff for me, since they were waiting on product from elsewhere. I'd forgotten to follow up for a couple of months, but I got my yarn soon after I inquired again. Both vendors tossed in a bit of a price cut, because of having fallen behind themselves, or lost my email in the inbox somewhere. That price cut was gravy IMO, and I wouldn't have felt full price was unfair. How do I know I've forgotten these deals? I have a folder in my email where I move all the incoming bits about an order, and I go through periodically and zap the ones that have come; then I check on any open ones. Fairly foolproof works for me.

It seems to me that we need to take a breath and think about what's truly reasonable in terms of response and delivery times. I suppose I'm fortunate that I have a stash larger than some small LYSs, and I've always got more projects on the needles or in my Ravelry Queue than I can possibly knit in weeks and weeks. So a delay of a week or two - or even a month or two!! - isn't a deal-breaker for me, let alone something I'm going to panic about. Other knitters are in a different mindset, and may have nothing else they want to knit than THAT project with THAT yarn. I wonder if there's a larger proportion of rather-new knitters in that group, or if there are other interesting demographics.

So, my little group of readers, what are your thoughts about what's good turnaround, good service?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Or Maybe Lavender?

I found this by way of Marlyn, who commented on my earlier post. This has a very interesting short set of questions. I'm not sure I ever met a purple I didn't like.

You Are Grape

You are bold and a true individual. You are very different and very okay with that.

People know you as a straight shooter. You're very honest, even when the truth hurts.

You are also very grounded and practical. No one is going to sneak anything by you.

People enjoy your fresh approach to life. And it's this honesty that makes you a very innovative person.

Interlude with Floral Eye Candy.

Not much of anything going on Chez CBM. I've been fighting a stubborn sore throat and sinus bug, which is still with me in spite of a visit to the doctor and some prescription-level meds. Just enough to keep me tired and quiet - the voice runs out fast. No biggie, just annoying and tiring as can be. Doctor said 'vasomotor rhinitis' (seems to be popular right now, lol!), and our yo-yoing temps have made it worse - 90F+ one weekend, low 70s the next. Right now it's 58F and overcast, a preview of our "June Glooms". I'm not even having enough oomph to knit, so I'm currently working my way through another re-read of Nora Robert's stand-alone novels. These are 'comfort reading'; I'm continually amazed at the variety of tales she produces in such numbers. Yesterday I started 'River's End', which coincidentally is set in the Olympic Rain Forest at Quinault, WA, where DH grew up.

But the garden is spectacular as more flowers come into bloom. The self-sowed coreopsis are brightening the whole place. It's odd; I planted just a few of the foot-tall variety and the front garden plants have turned into 2-foot giants. I attribute this to the SoCal effect, which also turns our roses into 6ft+ plants when they max out at 3ft elsewhere. And we continue to see blooms from last year's additions to our epiphyllum collection. Two popped over the weekend, another huge yellow and a smaller multi-color that is just amazing. And our huge amaryllis is just stunning.