Friday, October 31, 2008


I'm sadly behind with blogging, but reading and charity knitting have been continuing. I'll catch up with photos in the next few days, I promise. But today I want to urge you, however you choose, please VOTE on Tuesday.

And to mark the day, here are wishes from Basement Cat (the LOLcat version of The Big Bad)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tag, I'm It - Reading-wise

I suffer as much from 'startitis' as a reader as I do with my knitting, so I have several books in various stages of reading going at all times. I have books I'm currently devouring or dipping into in bits (current WIP), books I've started and have left for another that was more tempting (WIPs in short-term time-out), and books that have been in short-term time-out so long they've become UFOs. And some of the long-term UFOs eventually are frogged and de-stashed to the library.

My blogger friend Short Stuff tagged me for this:
Page 56. 2-5 lines of whatever you’re reading right now.

Free-Range Knitter is the newest book by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot herself. This is a 'dipping into' book, since it's a book of essays; I read one and then put it aside till I'm in the mood for another of her thought-provoking tales. Page 56 is in an essay I haven't read yet; I was going to post an excerpt from "Helen", but that's at the end of the book, where I started for some unknown reason. So here's a bit from page 56 of "Denny":
Denny can put on striped tights, a plaid skirt, a handknit sweater in a color that is not present in the stripes or the plaid, top it with a red velvet jacket and a white lace scarf, toss on German shoes, and look inspired. it's a gift. If I put on the same outfit I would look crazy, or homeless, or both.
Otherwise, I'm reading Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs, part of my ongoing fascination with vampire tales. This is #2 in Ms Briggs' newish series. I zoomed through the first 5 Sookie Stackhouse books, four of them courtesy of the library, and then felt 'done' with it. My favorite is Tanya Huff's tales of Vicky, Henry and Celluci, which were loosely turned into the TV Series 'Blood Ties'. Well, favorite after Buffy, of course. There are a *lot* of Buffy books.

On the knitting front, I've finished 2 red hats in Grumperina's Odessa pattern, and both my seniors' group and my Friday night friends clamored for the pattern. I started another, this in the yellow Schoeller + Stahl Hobby yarn (discontinued) that I did first. After working with the red Bernat Satin, the superwash Hobby is scratchy. I'm also working on a scarf using the Satin in a deep jewel-tone multi-color, a design of my own with alternating blocks of knits and purls, which is turning out to look like I've cabled it. ;D. If anyone of my local knitter friends likes it, I'll write up the pattern when it's done.

I'm into Clue #2 of the Pangea shawl KAL. Clue #3 will be posted tomorrow, so I have to move along with it today.

And I'm going to tag Marie for the book meme. Marie, you're it!!

Friday, October 17, 2008

I'm a Good Friend, I Hope

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Samwise Gamgee. A brave and loyal associate full of optimism, you remain true to your friends and their efforts, to whatever end.

But in the end, it's only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer.

Samwise is a character in the Middle-Earth universe, J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings world. You can read more about him at

I found this quiz via Sarah's blog, Short Stuff. Since I took up knitting, I've found very good friends both in real life and virtual, courtesy of knitting blogs and forums. Life is sweeter with them in it.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Serious Post - Trying to Understand Where My $$ Went

Like everyone else, we're watching our savings for retirement dwindling *fast*. Yesterday I saw a statistic that said the Dow Jones had dropped some 36% since a year ago. And despite what many economists and financial mavens are saying, this may not be the bottom, and it probably isn't going to get better any time soon. The rest of the world unfortunately seems to have followed the US into the sub-prime lending bog; Iceland is among a group of countries which are essentially bankrupt.

Our bank statement arrived yesterday and I commented to DH that we had an unusually high balance in checking (last month had 3 paychecks in it). My initial instinct was to get it moved to a better investment, but y'know, the bank is a darn good substitute for the mattress right now. Twelve-month US Treasury bills are paying interest of ONE CENT on the dollar to investors (per the chart, yield is $1.01 per $1). T-Bills are supposedly the safest investment anywhere, being based on the credit of the entire US government. But even large corporate and institutional investors are willing to take that rate of return in exchange for what they're seeing as the best no-risk place to park their dollars.

As I posted a little while ago, I recently got an 80GB iPod, and I've discovered podcasts, courtesy of a couple of groups at Ravelry. One that was being highly recommended was NPR's Planet Money. If you know how to access or subscribe to podcasts via iTunes, it's at the top of the most-popular podcast list. Otherwise, it seems that you can read and possibly listen to these discussions at the NPR site, as with this link to one of today's stories.

In the last 2 days I've listened to all of the 'episodes' since 9/28, and I'm very impressed with the way that all of this money-babble is being made clearer. Yesterday while I was on my way to my Friday night knitting group, I heard the host tell the guest "This is a jargon-free zone." And the guest proceeded to explain LIBOR and the Ted spread, why it's bad that banks are not lending to one another, etc. Right now, the fact that banks are not lending to other banks is a very scary thing, since companies won't be able to borrow to meet short-term cash-flow needs, such as our paychecks.

This may be far TMI (too much information), but I hope that these links will help some of you, my friends and readers, to understand just why we're in the financial crisis.

Friday, October 10, 2008


I had a Blocking Party yesterday, assisted most ably by Midnight. But she was just exhausted with the effort, and insisted on a nap.

I finally have FO pictures of my Woodland Scarf,

Chevron Scarf,

Wavy Feathers Wimple

and Odessa hat. Odessa is the bright yellow object in the foreground of the first photo.

I'm thinking I may have blocked the long scarves too severely; I'll get some feedback from my Friday Night Knitters tonight.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This, That and the Other

Lots of reading and some knitting still going on Chez CBM. Plus a bit of Stash Enhancement, though some is purpose-bought, so it 'doesn't count', right?

I finished the kid's vest for A4A, and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I hadn't knitted with Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride before, and it's quite nice; good saturated teal color, not itchy to knit with, and a sort of silky feel to it, compared to the plain New Zealand wool that's the trim and stripes.

I made another Odessa hat, meaning it for the seniors' fund-raiser boutique, but my friend Irma fell hard for it, so it's a gift for her. When you leave out the beads, Odessa is a fast knit. The pattern was available via the now-defunct Magknits, and now it's free as a Ravelry download. It's one of my friend Grumperina's first published patterns, and I now understand why it's been so popular. The yarn is Schoeller + Stahl's Hobby in a cheerful yellow, retrieved from the stash. I'll make another for the boutique, and I've got some green, too.

I also finished a scarf for the foster kids' charity that my seniors' group supports. This is from some 4-year old stash, TLC Amore; the pattern was off the top of my head. There are 3 bands of [yo,k2tog] 'lace' divided by garter stitch bands at the ends, and the main section is plain garter. Amore is a ribbon of tiny boucle, and the small size of the loops avoids the usual boucle catching on the needle tips. Not the greatest yarn, and it looks better IMO in stockinette, but then there's the curl factor. Hence the garter stitch.

I've been working on a gift for a dear friend, but she reads the blog and Ravelry projects, so it's a mystery project for a while. It's coming out really well. ;D

And another friend, whatifknits, has published a 'mystery shawl' pattern, called Pangea. The finished shawl is shown on her blog, but the clues are coming out weekly, and the design is purposely worked to show off some of the pretty hand-dyed yarns we've all collected and then find don't work for many lacy patterns. Clue #1 is available until tomorrow, and the final full pattern will be available through Ravelry (I think) later this fall. This is the just-right project for some of my See Jayne Knits yarn, some that I bought when she first opened her Etsy shop. The yarn is 50%/50% alpaca and wool, in a colorway she calls 'Meadow'. I have 1060 yards, though I don't plan to use much of the second skein, or the shawl will trail on the floor, lol!

I've been very, very good at avoiding all sorts of wonderful closeout yarns at Elann all summer and fall, but Monday they were offering Lana Gatto's Prestige 100% cashmere (!!!) at $7 for 82 yards. I sharpened up my keyboard skills and managed to snare some, in two colors, a lovely Cape Cod blue and a nice Caramel tan. The Caramel will become a manly scarf for a relative (maybe my cousin in Illinois?), and the blue will be perfect for a small shawl and a scarf.

I met my dear friend Knittess for lunch on Monday, over on LA's busy West Side. Lots of knittery show and tell and chat, plus both of us have discovered podcasts and the other joys of MP3 players; she has a Zune and I've been filling up the new iPod Classic. Whenever I'm in the area, I try to stop by Stitches from the Heart, a LYS that supports the children's charity. I found some yarns for immediate-start projects: Bernat's Satin yarn in deep jewel tones for a scarf for the foster kids and in red for Irma's DGD, a request after seeing the yellow hat. The Universal Yarn Classic Worsted LP in shades of brown will become hats for the troops. This is great yarn, 197yds for $6-7, though it's not stocked by many LYSs; check the store locator at the website. BTW, so far 'my' seniors have produced over 350 hats!

My West LA visit also gave me the chance for a quick run through my favorite Barnes & Noble store. I scored lots of bargains, hardcover remaindered copies of Dick Francis and James Patterson, a couple of 35% off trade paperbacks, and the newest paperback about Anne McCaffrey's 'Pern' universe.

I picked up one new hardcover, the story of Dewey Readmore Books, the adorable cat (a pale marmalade tom >>) who put the Spencer, Iowa, library on the world map, which is going to be a quick and fun read. Even this one was at a 40% discount. Love my book bargains. The Spencer link will give you the one-page version of the story. It's a major 'Awwww' tail, um, tale. ;)