Another Hobby Blog

Monday, January 30, 2006

Here's the picture.... (no. 1)

...You write the post.

It's a new idea, and I'm hoping it will be well received. I'll intermittently post a picture that seems more intriguing, sillier, or just plain WTF than usual, and you'll get the chance to use the comments area to caption it. Sound like fun?

Okay here goes: picture no. 1

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy New Year! (of the Dog)

Chinese New Year starts today! 2006 is Year of the Dog. :)

Zhenya says:

Make every little tiny space luxurious and you will always feel pampered.

Friday, January 27, 2006

New Challenges...

As if I didn't have enough on my schedule!

I've decided to join the Olympics. Not sufficiently proficient in ice-skating, I have joined Yarn Harlot's Knitting Olympics.

I will be competing in the


The rule is to cast on during the Opening Ceremonies on February 10, 2006, and to be Completely Finished (including blocking as necessary) by the Closing Ceremonies on February 26.

I did myself one favor: I committed to finish a project that already has a deadline. The NWRSA project. During the 16 days of the Olympics, I will be turning my Merino-Silk-Martian Lake Cow handspun yarn into a lovely lace shawl. (The real project deadline for the NWRSA project is the end of May, so assuming that I do complete it during the Olympics, I'll be ahead of schedule for once!! Yay! Real Gold Medal time!!!)

There is a problem with this assumption. Actually, there are several problems with this assumption.

1. I don't know what pattern I will be using.
1a. This means the pattern I will be using is unswatched, unmemorized, and unrealistic.
Stupid Idea #1: I am actually considering just casting on the yarn and making up the lace pattern as I knit.
(Yes, I have knit lace before. Twice, I think. One of those projects is still on the needles, so I'm not sure I can really count it. (the Mystery Stole))

2. I haven't completed spinning the yarn yet.
2b. This means the yarn I will be using is unswatched, unmeasurable, and unbelievably overdue.
The good news: completing the spinning of the yarn counts as Olympic Training.

3. My available knitting time during that sixteen day period will be impacted by travel.

What AM I thinking???!!

As if that weren't sufficient insanity for the New Year (Year of the Dog starts in two days!!!), I've concurrently signed up for

I will get my assignment on February 1 and be committed to putting my finished socks into the mail not later than May 2! .. At least I've knit socks before and have an idea what I'm in for. ;)

And speaking of Year of the Dog! I took part in My Lil Mochi's

I designed and created a postcard for the Chinese New Year (Year of the Dog) and sent the postcard to 10 addresses. In return, I will be getting 10 fabulous postcards from other participants! (Plus, Bethieee did the swap, too, so I get to see 20 fabulous handmade postcards arrive at my doorstep!)

I got the postcards in the mail yesterday. Two days before deadline! Whee!!

Plus, I'm having tons of fun taking part in the


I really enjoyed SP5 (Thanks, ROX!) and SP6, and now I'm in it again!

Well, now that you know what I'm up to, I'm off to spin more Mountain Lake Cow! Hugs!

SP6 - You Thought It Was Over ! !

The official end-date for the Secret Pal Six exchange was December 4, 2005.

I had a most wonderful Secret Pal Spoiler (remember the peacock-themed box with the Manos yarn and the Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn? remember the fabulous pink-themed box for breast-cancer-awareness month? the pink yarn, the pink Nalgene bottle, the pink carabiner, and the pink M&M's that didn't last long enough to make their way into cookies? (did you ever read the detail links on that post, btw? click on the asterisked photos if you want all the juicy admiration details!) remember the nekkid-sheepieee personalized stitch-markers?).

With all that she did to remember me and make me feel absolutely pampered and appreciated, the only sadness that I felt at the end of the exchange was that somehow she hadn't ever let me know WHO she was! And since she had been particularly careful, I did not even have an annonymous e-mail address to try to reach her!

Well, it ends up that she had yet Another surprise in store for me!! A package arrived in time for my birthday that was so full of fabulous goodies that I cannot even begin to guess how she managed to find room for the packing peanuts!


Two skeins of a worsted-weight blue wool that should be perfect for felting! Since I already have a pair of mittens for myself, I am pondering: felted house slippers or a felted purse? Or maybe a felted fish! I haven't done one of those in awhile... In fact, I could probably get the felted fish even after I'm done with one of the other projects!

Three skeins of Noro Kureyon! Also perfect for felting, and fabulous colors for fish!! Of course, with three balls of the Kureyon, I might want to consider a larger project... (does Three Fish count? ;) ) I love the colorway! .. so does the Bethieee. .. ..hmmmm..... :)

SoapHenge!! Three bars of Pre de Provence soaps! (I feel a relaxing bath coming on!!!) ... and pedicure lotions! PamperPamperPamper!!!

How's that for a fabulous box!

But wait! There's still room for packing peanuts!!
So look what she added:

Candy hearts for Valentine's Day! My favorite holiday!!
Post-it notes that say "Smile" in flowers!
Notecards that remind me that "Success is simply a matter of getting up one more time than you fall down." Especially worth remembering while I'm ice skating!
A little garden-themed notebook!
A Sparkly Purple blank journal book!!
And tiny little stickers for my freshly pampered toes!

Watch carefully now...

Did you see it??
Did you??

wait, I'll slow it down:

THERE! Those are the Bethieee's fingers!! I'd better keep a close eye on my Noro! ;) (giggle)


But Best of All, my SP6 Spoiler let me know who she IS!!!!!
Janet of KnitaPalooza, Thank You!!!!!

SP7 Birthday Box!

When my SP7 Spoiler found out my birthday fell in mid-January, barely days after the SP7 exchange had officially begun, she sprang into action!

A box arrived on my doorstep on the morning of the 15th! Inside:

A wonderful book all about mittens! Thrummed mittens, fringed mittens, Fair-Isle mittens, children's mittens, adult's mittens, striped mittens, fingerless mittens! All the mittens you could imagine, and nifty tidbits about the cultural history of the mitten patterns. With all the mittens I've knitted this winter, the book is a perfect choice!! It's fascinating. :)

And the yarn!!! Two skeins of Lorna's Lace sock yarn in Tahoe! I love this yarn! The colorway is perfect! and with two skeins, I'm so excited about the possibilities! I could have matching socks and driving gloves, maybe! Or maybe elbow-length arm warmers! ... or maybe the center of a lace shawl- with a solid colored contrast border? So many options!!

A perfect surprise! Thank you for thinking of me on my birthday!!! You are truly wonderfully special, SP7!!!

Thursday, January 26, 2006


After much travel and long delay, my long-awaited OrnaMental giftieee arrived!! It was well worth the wait, and everything a peacock could want!

Just look at all the postal instructions plastered one atop another all over the outer envelope! What a journey this poor package took!

Inside, two wrapped pressies, and one fabulous Christmas card.

I spent all day just staring at them, wondering what was inside, while I waited for Bethieee and Keithr to get home. Opening pressies is so much more fun with an audience, don't you think? Especially when the audience also loves presents and handmade nifty things!

Inside the wrapping paper:

Two carmel filled chocolate koala bears!! (They made the journey suprisingly well!) A teeensie Australian Flag!! (Which, come to think of it, arrived just in time for Australia Day! Happy Australia Day everyone!!!)

An itsy-bitsy-cutesy Platypus!!!! Ohmigosh, how darling! I love it!!!

(The Itsy-bigsy-cutesy Platypus immediately discovered Bethieee's piggieee babies.
One can only guess what mischeviousness they're dreaming up...)

And bestest of ALL, the ornament!!! Purple and blue felt stars with purple and blue glass beads and glass bead fringe!!! SO perfect! Stripey Tiger says she wanted to use peacock-y colors. I think she got it spot-on, and I love the way it sparkles in the twinkling lights.

And look at this amazing stitch work!

"Ornamental 2005 xxx" in the tiniest little hand-stitches!
It couldn't get any better!!

I love this ornament so much!! It didn't arrive in time to spend much time on the tree, and I really don't want to tuck it away in a box for the next ten months! It's far too beautiful! So I'm hanging it from the drawer pull of my yarn-filing-cabinet where I can see it sparkle in the sunlight every day!

Thank you SO much, Stripey Tiger!! You've been fabulous!!!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Martian Lake Cow

My fiber came with a reassuring label: Merino-Silk. It didn't have the proportions listed, so in preparation for the 8oz NWRSA exchange batt, I diligently spun sample skeins from 70-30 merino-silk, and 80-20 merino-silk, a couple others beside.

I started spinning the 8oz batt (for the NWRSA fiber exchange, finished project due in late May) early this week.

There are strange guard-hairs haloing out of my yarn.
None of my sample skeins did this.
(it feels different to spin, too, making it a particular challenge)

some of the guard-hairs are shortish (say 3 inches)
others are quite long (up to 8 inches)

They are neither silk nor wool.
They are not alpaca, cashmere, or angora.
I am quite sure they are not feline.
I am reasonably convinced they are not canine.

My husband calls them Martian Lake Cow fibers.
I think he is right.

These are Martian Lake Cow fibers as distinguished from Martian Mountain Cow fibers.

For more about Martian Mountain Cow fibers, ask Bethieee. Martian Mountain Cow fibers are what she ended up with.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A Thought on Duplicative Gifts

I have noticed a certain dread pop up in people's faces when they realize they've given you something You've Already Got! As if that somehow makes it completely unworthy. And that is something that I don't quite understand.

There could be exceptions, of course. A second pair of tickets to the same theater show the same evening could be difficult to use (barring regifting, that is... bring along a friend or two?). Another dog might not get along with the first, and would entail duplicate extra costs like vet bills and licensing and food and such. But giving a pet is best done with the recipient's full knowledge and participation anyway.

As for anything else, is there truly any harm in having a backup copy? Well, if it's something you really DIDN'T like in the first place, it could get tedious, I suppose. But really! You should have seen the stunned looks of disbelief I got from listing ten purple blankets on my wedding wishlist. What is wrong with the color purple? Do you know how many times I was asked, "What will you do if you get all ten blankets?" in the same tone of voice they might ask, "How will you get out of the house in a fire?" or "What exactly were you thinking when you put the milk in the dishwasher?"

My answer was simple. I'll be thrilled.

I ended up with 5 purple blankets and 1 grey one. I use three of those blankets at a time on each bed (the main bed and the guest bed). Purple goes really well with purple, especially when they were bought at the same time. It goes pretty well with the grey, too. That means I am using all six blankets almost all of the time. Where are the extra four to rotate in while I do laundry? ... It's okay. I can get away with just one in the heat of summer, and in the dead of winter when paired with a down comforter. I manage to get each blanket washed often enough. But seriously, if ten purple blankets had shown up, I would not have been disappointed.

Another example. I have 3 copies of the Ashley Book of Knots by Clifford Ashley. It's a really good reference book and I strongly recommend you get your own copy. Don't expect me to give you any of mine! One was a gift from my father for my birthday. The second was a gift from a dear friend for my wedding. The third is a 1944 edition that I picked up at a used book store. They all arrived in my life within a month or three of each other. I don't really NEED three copies of the book, but each one says that the person who gave it really had a good grasp of something that I'd really truly like. ...and if I do ever decide that I can't live with three copies of the book, I know plenty of people who share my interests and would be thrilled to receive one I'm willing to part with.

And when it comes to yarn and other consumables, well, it goes without saying that if I have loved working with a yarn once, I'm likely to love working with it again! Send on the Manos, the Koigu, the Mountain Colors! Good ideas are worth repeating!! ;)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Leavenworth, Ornamental, SP7

So Keithr took Bethieee and I to Leavenworth for a holiday/birthday present (her Christmas present, my birthday present) over the weekend. We had a blast! The felted mittens came in handy again for the snowball fights. We did some window-shopping, watched lots of dogs pull sleds, saw a cool snow-carving contest, and even tried our luck at snowshoeing! I'm a little disappointed by the snowshoeing. I wanted to try the willow rod and sinew kind like I saw on Sesame Street when I was a kid, but nowdays they're all high-tech plastic and metal gripper teeth. They work pretty well, I must say, and it was kinda fun to trudge through the snow for an hour or so on the way back home.

We probably should have kept the snowshoes for another hour or two because that's how long we spent stuck in traffic on the down-hill side of the mountain. Some sort of traffic incident ahead of us blocked our half of the road entirely. The driving conditions were a bit challenging--hardpack snow and ice on both our lanes, with fresh snow falling on top of it. Just prior to the crest of the hill I considered putting on chains because the car in front of us stopped, so we had to also, and then I had a bit of trouble getting forward momentum again. (yes, I tried starting in 2nd, and 3rd as well as 1st. We weren't moving, even with our all-weather tires.) Just as I was resigning myself to putting chains on the tires (the most recent weather update was still calling for a "traction tire advisory"), the fellow from the car behind me decided he could give the car just enough of a push to get it moving forward for me.

Is that smart? pushing a (what, two-ton?) slab of metal uphill on ice? if he loses his footing or if the car decides to roll backward instead, won't he end up a little flatter?

Anyway, it worked. The car slid sideways a couple of times in the process (since I was probably over-powering the gas in a firm decision not to slide Backward..) and we got enough momentum to make the remaining three-hundred feet to the actual summit. I think Bethieee would have been happier if we'd just put the chains on.

But gravity is my friend, so I figured that I was getting enough traction to brake, steer, and otherwise control the car as long as we didn't get going too fast.

Turns out we didn't have to worry much about that. Most of the downhill slope we spent inching forward about six inches at a time or stopped completely while Incident Response teams worked on clearing the path for us. We thought about using the time to put the chains on, especially since it was actively dropping new snow on top of the hardpack, but we kept inching forward just often enough to make that process very irritating if not dangerous, so we didn't.

As you can tell (because I'm posting today), we made it down the hillside intact despite the absence of chains. It was a fun ride, even at never more than 20mph in the snow.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. It might be true since (photo-bereft that I am) I am rambling on at length more verbosely than usual.


We got home to find, in the mailbox, a package!! to ME! I didn't recognize the sender, and I hadn't expected anything on order.. hmmm... a mystery! .. Turns out my new SP7 Spoiler drop-shipped a package the day she found out it was my birthday!!! Squeak! Two skeins of lovely Lorna's Lace sock yarn in Tahoe! I have worked with Lorna's Lace yarns before and have really enjoyed them. Most recently I made a multi-direction scarf for Keithr from a LL sport weight. Prior to that I made myself a pair of socks and a matching headband. I am simply THRILLED to have a pair of skeins to drool over!! I wonder what they will become... OH!! and a book! Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen. "Best traditional mitten patterns from Fox & Geese & Fences and Flying Geese & Partridge Feet." Thrummed mittens, Fair-Isle mittens, wristies, double-knit mittens, shaggy mittens, so many mittens!! and a couple of hats. It's a fabulous book! It will make a much-loved addition to my library. I think that next year people will get mittens for the holidays. Even if they live in Tucson or Los Angeles!! maybe that's taking it a bit far. Maybe I should stick with cel-phone pouches for the people in Los Angeles. Thank you, Thank you, THANK you Secret Pal!! The box even came with a note saying "Happy Birthday!" YAY! Thank you thank you thank you!!!


And then the next morning the UPS deliveryman woke me from slumber with a long-delayed package from Australia!!! Australia!! I hope some day I get to go visit Australia... Inside the lovely, well-travelled envelope (the one that set off from Australia hoping to reach me in Wisconsin, hung around Wisconsin for awhile before setting off again for Washington), were two little wrapped treasures and a wonderful card and letter!! One of the wrapped treasures held Chocolates! little caramel Aussie bears!! and a little Australian toothpick-flag! and a little plastic Platypus!!!!! Ohmigod the Platypus!! I am tickled pink with the platypus!! The other wrapped treasure held my Ornament! And what a fabulous, beautiful, treasured piece of worksmanship!! It's a beautiful purple felt star with a turquoise inner star encrusted with lots of lovely purple and turquoise glass beads! From each of the star's points hangs a tassel of purple and turquoise bugle beads, and on the back of the star, in teensy tiny back-stitches in metallic blue thread are written "Ornamental 2005" and three little "x" for love! This is so gorgeous and SO perfect for me that I cannot possibly put it in a box for ten months out of the year! I will put it on one of my drawer-pulls!!! Then I can see it every day and smile and remember how beautiful and meaningful a little handmade treasure can be. :) Thank You, Stripey Tiger!! Thank you Thank you THANK you!!!

I will post pictures when I am able.

Background Theme Colors Are Gone Too.

And in other news, my washing machine is making an evil noise, and the soonest a repairman can come out is next Monday. That's a lot of laundry piling up... harumpf.

Computer Glitch

There is some sort of problem with the server system that has my pictures. As a result, my blog is in a bit of a shambles at the moment. Some of my images seem to be here (like my background theme colors) and others are just plain missing. Hopefully they will be able to restore my server and hopefully I will be able to repair my pictures from back-up or from guesswork. It might take awhile.

At the moment, half of the links won't work either - for my blog or Bethieee's (on-my-needles).

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Stripey Socks: The Saga Continues...

Do you remember The Stripey Socks?
(for the complete story, click here.)

Well, they are on the needles again.

The toes never got finished.
Neither did the hat.
They both got unravelled and reballed two weeks ago.

They are now (drum roll please...):
The Stripey Scarf!

My brother loves it. With luck, it'll be ready for his birthday in March.

Thursday, January 12, 2006


I said my feet were size 9. They're really more like size 8-1/2, and I would rather have my socks be a little too short than a little too long. .. Not that anyone's making me socks right now, but just to set the record straight. :)


I will be celebrating my birthday on Friday evening, January 20th. If you are interested in joining me, please call or e-mail for additional details!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Secret Pal Seven!

I'm really excited to be taking part in my 3rd Secret Pal exchange! I have had so much fun with SP5 and SP6, and now I'm looking forward to SP7! I should get my secret pal assignment just in time for my birthday!

In the meantime, you can read my questionaire answers.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Which Brings Me To the Present(s)

I want to take a moment to thank everyone for the kind and thoughtful comments, e-mails, cards, gifts, phonecalls, baked goods, etc! There are truly too many to list them all! so I'll focus on the things that I can take pictures of that are fiber related. :)

From my Ornamental gifter: (no picture yet)
I'm still checking my maibox every day. I know that the box made its way to Wisconsin, where it took an extra week to see the sights before continuing its journey. It is currently in the mail. I have a tracking number. It should arrive this week. (I'm still very very excited to see it!)

From Laura:
Wild Color

Thank you!! I started to pick up this book for myself about three months ago, but Bethieee told me she thought for certain she'd seen it in my collection already, so I put it back down. She turned out to have been mistaken, and I have tried to reach for the book several times and found my bookshelf still empty. Now it's here!!! What a perfect choice!! I will be reaching for it often when spring comes along and I feel the urge to start new dyepots again. :)

From Bethieee:
koigu yarn for a peacock tam!

A year or two ago I made my first real attempt at Fair-Isling: a tam for which I designed the colorwork patterning. The subject (what else?) peacocks. I made the tam in Jamieson's Shetland jumperweight yarns in (could the choice have been any worse?) two shades of brown; one a light tan, the other a two-color featuring the same light tan stranded with a dark chocolatey color.

I think I held the opinion that the similarity in color would mask any tension issues I might have with the stranding. I neglected to comprehend that a strong contrast is much of what makes a Fair Isle pattern so striking. Ever since the tam's completion I have been hoping to make a second one in peacock colors on black. It has been surprisingly difficult to find yarn to match this specification within a single brand and I have been beginning to think that I would need to dye my own. This will be perfect!
...and the digicam!! (no picture. Do you comprehend how difficult taking a picture of a digicam with itself can be? ... okay, okay, I could have used a mirror...) Ever since my own digicam went missing in May of 2003 (or thereabout) I have been using Bethieee's camera. Last year she was given a new camera, and this year she passed along her original camera to me!!! yay!!! thank you thank you!

From Bethieee's sister, Kat:
a skein of peacock-colored worsted!

currently residing in the basket of yarns to be dreamed about, fondled, and planned around.

From Bethieee's mother and father:

a fabulous peacock ornament! Keithr suggests I could use it as a tree topper next year!

From Keithr's mother:
the three missing volumes of the Treasury of Knitting Patterns series by Barbara Walker. (I had volume two. Now I'm getting volumes 1, 3, and 4!!) (no picture. Currently on order.)

From Keithr:
a Lendrum double-treadle spinning wheel!!

Actually, he got it for me last April because I didn't want to wait nine months before I could use it. For Christmas we put a bow on it. :) I've already used it more than I've used the Kitchen Aid he got for me last year (but I'm hoping the Kitchen Aid can catch up in February... (g)).

From my brother and his girlfriend:

and from my father:

I am looking forward to much experimentation with all of the above throughout the coming year! Thank you!!

Happy New Year! part 2

Okay, I admit it, I'm running a little late.
January is a month of multiple new beginnings for me. There is the new calendar year, of course (and trying to remember to write "2006" on checks and paperwork.) There is a slew of renewals that need to occur: vehicle tabs, dog vaccinations, etc. And there is my birthday--a realization that I have arrived alive on the far side of another 365 (sometimes 366) days.

It's a month for reflection on all the things I've accomplished, completed, attempted, and enjoyed. There have been too many to make a complete list. A few of the real treasures:

1. the friends I've made through this blog and the internet exchanges. :)

2. my first real attempt at lace. (Mystery Stole, still in progress)

3. SET exchange, SP exchanges.

4. my first pair of knitted gloves. (well, half a pair, really, but it's a start.)

5. knitting as a reason to socialize -- stitch-n-bitches. :)

It's also a month for reflecting on the things that I haven't accomplished, completed, attempted, or enjoyed. A settling of the emotional books, if you will.

Some of the projects that I am carrying forward into the New Year:

1. The NWRSA exchange spin-and-knit project. I had a "finish by the end of December" deadline for myself for the spinning half of the 8 oz of fiber. But it's January, and I have yet to start spinning. I've made tests, and I've thought about what I want to do, sure, but I'd better get started soon or I will lose the buffer I've tried to make sure I maintain.

2. The Stripey Socks. (more on that later)

3. Cheryl's quilt. The longer I take to finish it, the guiltier I feel.

4. the RF bag project: complete the spinning and weave the fabric.

5. the shrug. Will blocking really help? Will I finish it and find out?

6. the Mystery Stole (now also known as Leda's Dream)

7. the other half a pair of knitted gloves

Friday, January 06, 2006

Remember, Water Freezes at 32 Degrees F.

On Friday, December 23, in Madison, Wisconsin, it was 46 F.

It was Bethieee's idea to bring our ice skates.
Wisconsin = cold + lakes = outdoor skating opportunity, right?
So we packed them. Three pair of skates took up nearly two full suitcases. I'm not quite sure where Bethieee managed to put her clothes.
Three pair of skates weighing, oh, let's say 5 pounds each. That's fifteen extra pounds to lug with us. But hey! how often do you get the chance to skate on a lake?

Our coach said he'd have our hides if we skated on a non-Zamboni'd surface. Do they Zamboni lakes? We were told that they did. We were skeptical, but we packed our skates.

We tried not to panic when our bags got lost between Chicago and Madison. Not only all of Bethieee's clothes except the ones she was wearing, not only all of Keithr's warm socks and warm clothes, not only all of the holiday gifts we'd brought, but all three pair of skates were in those bags. Don't worry, they'll be on the next flight...

They were. They woke me up with their arrival at my hotel room at 6:30 in the morning. As happy as I was to see them, I must admit that 6:30am comes much too early. Especially when you factor in the time change and realize that it's 4:30. I am not a morning person.

Friday was the day that we had set aside for skating on the lake. There were good reasons. Basically, the entire rest of our visit was packed with other things to do. Friday was Skating Day.

Friday was 46 degrees.

Have you ever skated on a sheet of ice that is actively melting beneath your feet?

It's an experience. I now understand and respect the phrase "hot-house skaters" meaning skaters carefully nurtured in an indoor ice rink like tomatoes grown in a hot-house, never experiencing the conditions of true wild growth which include lake skating on slush.

Slush. When you skate on Ice, there is an almost frictionless condition that occurs between the skate and the ice as the fine edge of the blade cuts in to the surface. This effortless, graceful gliding motion is what gives ice skating such an addictive appeal. Once you learn how to keep your balance, gliding on ice skates can feel almost like flying. It's wonderful.

Slush is not like that. Slush bunches up under your skates. Slush hides irregluarities in the ice. Slush is cold and wet and seeps into your clothing when you land on it. Slush is insidious. Skating on slush is like pedalling a bike with the brakes frozen shut. Skating on slush is like rollerblading through a swamp. Skating on slush is like trying to extricate yourself from underneath a full-grown Saint Bernard that has decided not to move. Skating on slush is a cumbersome, laborious, tedious experience.

Skating on slush is Not Graceful.

I leave it as an excercize to the reader to imagine the end result.

We did have a few almost graceful moments scattered randomly throughout the experience, though. Our photographer even managed to catch one!

It almost looks as if we know how to skate!

If you look closely, you can see the skates we are wearing. I'll give you a hint. They are Not the ones we carried with us from Seattle. It turns out that, as we feared, the lake does not get Zamboni'd. The skates are rentals. I never would have guessed they rented skates at frozen lakes. Go figure. One hour and 16 blisters later we handed our skates back to the rental counter and headed off for a cup of hot cider, wiser, more experienced, and sopping wet.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Socks To Keep Me Warm!

When I packed for travel, I brought two very special and treasured items: the hand-knit wool socks I had recieved from Cindy in the SET exchange, and the fingerless mitts I'd made from the sock yarn my SP6 had sent.

Y'see, when the temperature in my house drops below 70, I freeze. I start shivering. I reach for my fingerless mitts so that I can type. I grab a cardigan and a wool hat. I wrap up in a blanket. I drink warm tea. I freeze. It's pathetic, I know, but it explains the measure of trepidation I was experiencing as I realized we would be spending a full week exposed to the snowy, windy elements. In the entire time we spent there, the warmest it got was 46. It spent most of the time hovering around 29.

I wanted proof that I'd brought and worn the hand-knitted treasure I've been cooing over. I wanted pictures of my socks in the snow.

From there, I got the hair-brained idea that it would be even more fantastic if the socks and wristies were clearly visible, not hard-to-see under all the layers of coat and sweater and boots and stuff.

I'm not one to easily give up a hair-brained idea. Enjoy.

Our First Hint

of how cold it would be came from the landscape as we flew overhead.

True to their word, our warm Land's End coats were waiting for us at the airport when we arrived. Our suitcases were not.

We had a nice dinner with Bethieee's family and a decent night's sleep at the hotel. Our bags arrived early the next morning. Good thing, too! I'd had the foresight to pack my wool socks and warm outer layers in my carry-on bag when we left Los Angeles. My husband, unfortunately, had not. He'd preferred to keep his computer close at hand and take the risk with the socks. I think he made the wise choice, but he was understandably a bit worried until the bags showed up at our doorstep.

The view from our window:

Evidentally we'd arrived on a warming trend. On the first day the temperature warmed up to almost freezing!

I didn't see much of my husband for the next week... unless we were indoors, he spent most of the time looking like this:

Can't say I blame him. .. It was kinda cold, after all.

Felted Mittens

The day before we traveled from Los Angeles to Madison, I put the finished mittens into a washing machine and shrunk them down to size and then stitched on unfelted ribbed cuffs. Although I had knitted cuffs for my pair of mittens, I took them back off again because I decided that if it were really truly cold in Madison, I might want to wear my mittens over my leather gloves, and the cuffs made it difficult to do so.

The pattern I used is Double Cuffed Mittens from Kathleen Taylor's Knit One, Felt Two. (I made the undercuffs longer than the pattern specified.) I found the pattern well-written and easy to follow, and I am happy with the results. So is Bethieee. She clamed them all, but then loaned us each a pair so that we wouldn't freeze in Madison. Silly Bethieee!

Cute Take-Out Containers

My mother made the cutest fabric take-out containers for Christmas gifts this year! They're big enough to hold a handful of chocolate treats, a gift-card or two, and an ornament for next year. :)

They're reversible, and easy to make. She used zig-zag stitching around the edges, but if you had a serger, it'd be easy to make them with that instead. I'm not sure where she found the pattern, but it turned out very cute. I wish I could give credit to the source!

Glass Armonica

As we left the Disneyland park, we were given the rare experience of seeing a true glass armonica being played by a gifted musician. He played Waltz of the Sugar Plum Fairies for us. Unearthly beautiful when played on the instrument for which it was composed!!

Unfortunately, he doesn't have sound-snippets available on his website to tempt you, but if you like music from curious and rare instruments, I urge you to support him! His music is beautifully played.

The Cutest House Ever

No, this picture was not taken at Disneyland.

Somewhere in the tangled streets of Tujunga, California, stands a little house that might be supposed to conjure up the days of the Vikings. I call it, simply, "The Hobbit House." It's worth driving by if you can find it.

Any Idea What These Are?

Here's a hint--someone paid about $300.00 for the set of them.
That's a lot of cash to lay out for some aquarium-rock encrusted doorknobs, let me say...

When Chris took possession of her new condo, these doorknobs were left on the kitchen cabinets. She hates them. She gave them to me because I was fascinated by them. I said I'd find them a new home. I figured at the least they'd make a decent blog post...

The next morning, I came to my senses. The set of them weighed at least 5 pounds and filled a cubic foot of space. I realized I didn't want to lug them all the way home in my bags through several airports.

I gave them to my mother as a Christmas present. I hope she forgives me some day... 0:)

Altogether Too Many Eyes...

This is the kind of thing that, at 8:00am, wakes a person up quite thoroughly in a way that a noisy alarm clock, a long, nerve-jarring drive through Los Angeles rush-hour traffic and a heavily caffeinated beverage or two somehow fails to accomplish.

I'm still frightened.

How Much Yarn?

How much yarn do you think it takes to get through a day at Disneyland durying the holiday season of Disneyland's 50th anniversary? A project? Two, maybe?

We got up early to get to Disneyland before it opened. Nonetheless, Traffic was horrid. Los Angeles rush hour must start about 5am.

At the Disneyland gates, they had security teams doing bag checks. Compliantly, we opened our many bags for inspection:

How embarrassed can I be?!
As the security agent asked me to open each new bag, Even MORE Knitting spilled out!
Six skeins of Cascade 220! A partially worked scarf and the skein of Lorna's Lace sport yarn to finish it. Size 4, 5, 6, and 10-1/2 needles in both double-point and circular styles.

And that's only the stuff that *I* brought! Bethieee had at least as much yarn as I did! Too much knitting. I'm horrified.

What was I thinking?

Not only have I brought enough knitting to fill a week's worth of knitting hours, I've exposed my obsession to a scrutinizing audience. I'm flushed as bright red as if I were carrying contraband. I'm stammering in embarrassment and guiltily trying to zip my bags closed again before anyone else can see what I've got. The security guard eyes me icily, questioning my sanity. When I finally smile at him sheepishly, he waves me through, shaking his head sadly.

For those of you who have never been to Disneyland, or have somehow managed to visit only in the off-season, this is what the crowd looked like at the opening gates:

Keep in mind that these are only the people who, like us, got up early enough to be at the gates before the park opened. This doesn't include any of the people who got caught in traffic or slept in late.

We arrived at the park at 7:00am, and left the park a little after 7:00pm. Net gain for the day: 3 rides on Space Mountain, 1 ride on Indiana Jones, 1 ride on Pirates of the Carribean. Also, 2 mittens, 4 mitten cuffs, 1 ribbed hat, and 2/3 of a scarf.

By the end of the day we'd used every single ball of yarn we'd brought with. I'd finished knitting the mittens we would be relying upon to keep our hands from freezing in Madison, and all that remained was to felt them. I'd finished my father's hat in time for our holiday visit the next day, and I'd made substantial progress on Keithr's scarf. Maybe I'd even get lucky enough to finish it before Christmas day present exchange at Kat's house.

Dignity restored, I felt smug again. We hadn't over-estimated our yarn needs after all. The world is aright once more.