Saturday, September 29, 2007


So goes Juliet! Yup! I frogged her! I got almost to the end of the yoke--where the body is joined and discovered that my gauge was significantly off. My swatch had determined that size 9 needles would give me gauge (3.5 stitches/ 5 rows per inch). The yarn label also says size 8 - 9 needles gives this gauge. Wrong! After knitting 20 rows--I found that my gauge was 4.5 stitches per inch and the yoke only measured 3 inches long whereas it should've measured 4 inches. I suspect this is why the fabric felt so dense. I ripped it all out and started again using size 10.5 needles. It seems to be the right gauge so far. I can handle if it is too loose as I am making the size S. Both S and XS have the same number of stitches. Small just has you joining the body after 32 rows instead of 26 rows like the XS. I figure I'll just try it on at 26 rows!

I received a delightful surprise the the land down under today. My Ravelry Caffeine Swap packaged arrived today from Australia! It was a lovely treat! There was a box of Earl Gray Teabags, some special cookies, a lovely mug, a little tea bag rest with koala bears on it, some handmade stitch markers and a gorgeous skein of handdyed merino fingering weight yarn.

Here's a closer look at the yarn and stitch markers!

This yarn is just beautiful! It has shades of dark green, blue and purple and feels like butter! There are 490 yards so I may have to finally knit a pair of socks--unless I decide to do a lace scarf of some sort! I don't know! I'll know what to do when I see the right pattern!

I decided to stop by Borders today since it is Educator's Week and teachers get 25% off all books, CD, and DVD's. I only bought one book. As an educator, I thought I needed to be more educated in this:

Secifically in this:

I fell in love with that top! It's designed by Annie Modesitt which explains it all. I love her designs. There are some fabulous kids sweaters in there among other things--quite a few that I would gladly make. I was hoping to also find "Bag Style." I viewed some of the designs for that one online and found it to be the most interesting book of bags that I've seen yet. All of the Style series books are fabulous. I have Scarf Style and Lace Style as well and love them both.

Another design that I've fallen in love with is Cherie Amour from the fall issue of Knitty. This looks like a really quick knit. It is knit in the round with the sleeves flat knit then sewn in. I studied the pattern and came to realize that the sleeves could be picked up and knit in the round from the shoulder down. I'm seriously thinking of making this. The handpainted yarn recommended in the pattern is lovely but the color I like is out of stock so I will have to wait to see if they restock it.

I took Mikey to the vet for a fructosamine test today. Nomally he just gets a glucose test that involves pricking his ear then using a regular glucose meter like human diabetics use. The fructosamine test involves taking a large vial of blood for a more complex test at the lab. This test can tell what his average daily glucose level was for the last 2 weeks. They use a really large syringe and poke around in his neck until they hit a vein. Sometimes they have to shave him so they can see the vein. He's a good little patient. He doesn't struggle at all. I always feel so bad for him. It's funny how he is so loveable to me after all this. He cuddles and nuzzles me when I sit down. I can't help but think that he knows I'm doing this to make him feel good.

DH and I are going to Pittsburgh tomorrow so I need to get some laundry done.

Bushism of the day:
"I want it to be said that the Bush administration was a results-oriented administration, because I believe the results of focusing our attention and energy on teaching children to read and having an education system that's responsive to the child and to the parents, as opposed to mired in a system that refuses to change, will make America what we want it to be — a more literate country and a hopefuller country." —George W. Bush, Jan. 11, 2001

Kitty Cam:
Mikey takes a nap after his hard afternoon at the vet.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Blah, blah, blah

Ahhh! Almost the weekend! What a relief! Anyway, here is my obligatory photo of me wearing Fifi.

It's not the greatest, but it was the best I could do with the time constraints! Anyway, I'm rather ambivalent about this piece. I just don't love it. I think if I had made it with 3/4 length or long sleeves, I probably would love it. I considered doing one or two more pattern repeats on the sleeves, but when I tried it on, they seemed about right so I didn't. I will probably wear it layered over a peasant top of some sort.

I started Juliet. The garter stitch fabric is rather dense. I like the yarn though. It has a nice feel. I'm toying with the idea of making 3/4 length sleeves. When I get to the point where I join the body, I think I will put the sleeve stitches on waste yarn instead of binding them off. If I make them longer, I will most likely continue knitting them in garter stitch then increase so that I have enough stitches for the lace pattern repeats. Hopefully the lace at the bottom of the sleeve would give it a belled sleeve effect. This is just an idea. I don't know if I will do this or not!

Here's a little eye candy:

I always have at least 2 flower arrangements in the house. I just put that one out yesterday!

Anyway--this is a brief post. Sorry for the lack of cleverness this evening!

Bushism of the day:
"Redefining the role of the United States from enablers to keep the peace to enablers to keep the peace from peacekeepers is going to be an assignment." —George W. Bush, Jan. 14, 2001

Kitty Cam:
The tiny tuxedo twins take a nap!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Finally Fifi!

Here she is!

Fortunately Sophia doesn't mind wearing an unblocked garment! I will model her when she's blocked!
Here are the details--
Yarn: Rowan Calmer in Refresh--3.5 balls
Needles: Knitpicks Options size 7
Size: XS
Modifications: I added 4 extra rows to the sleeves and cast on 7 stitches under the arm when joining the body. I did 12 repeats of the center panel pattern and I did a simple crochet slip stitch around the neck to control the rolling.

Over all--I like this sweater but I got really tired of working on it. Honestly--I would rather do stockinette! I get really annoyed with so much ribbing. I really had to slog through the body section! I don't know what it was! I just became disenchanted with it!

I am starting Juliet in a few minutes! I can't wait! DH and I will be going to Pittsburgh this coming weekend so I can get a little knitting done there. We're going on Sunday for Bird's Symphonic Band concert. He's a senior and we haven't been to any of his band concerts as they are always on Sunday evenings. We decided that we would go to as many of them, if not all of them this year. I guess I'll be out of work some extra Mondays! The drive to Pittsburgh is particularly lovely this time of year because there is so much colorful fall foliage. I'm sorry we can't stay longer. We will probably help Bird get his computer fixed and a few other things. We haven't seen the "new" house. He and one of his roomates from last year moved to a new house at the beginning of the slopes a few blocks away from the old one. He says it's a beauty--fully restored! We'll see!

Other happenings--I've been going through the private health insurance nightmare. Ems comes off my insurance the end of this month and she's still in school. So we have to find affordable health insurance. We have done so, but I suspect when we get the final approval that there will be preexisting condition clauses that won't cover treatment for anything she's been treated for in the last year. I'm really amazed that in the country, we cannot find a way to provide our citizens with affordable health care. The Canadians do it. How hard can it really be? I know that it is really a complex issue but it could be done if the powers that be didn't buckle to special interest groups.

Ok. That's enough! I won't rant anymore! I will go cast on for Juliet!

Bushism of the day:
"I couldn't imagine somebody like Osama bin Laden understanding the joy of Hanukkah." —George W. Bush, at a White House Menorah lighting ceremony, Washington, D.C., Dec. 10, 2001


Kitty Cam:
Greg watches TV on the easy chair while I knit!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: Bathroom II: Week 4

Part of my responsibility as an elementary school teacher involves controlling undesirable behavior. Often this behavior occurs in the bathroom!

It's beginning to look a lot like . . .

Christmas! NOT! This post is somewhat of a rant, so forgive me if I digress from my usual discussion of creative things or shoes. Actually it is two mini rants--the inspiration for which came from the same shopping trip!

First--I had to run into BJ's get a couple of food items. I came across a display which made me want to knock some sense into some marketing executive somewhere. What was this display? Lighted Christmas trees! Yup--that's right! In September on the very first day of autumn. And here I thought that heat index being about 90 degrees was the only fluke that was ocurring. Is this not totally insane? In my mind, anything Christmas should not be happening until the first day after Thanksgiving. Alright, alright, I know that some people like to get in the Christmas spirit earlier than that, but at least get by Halloween first! There should not be Christmas and Halloween displays up at the same time. Period.

Second rant--I think all these "think pink" items for breast cancer awareness are very nice, but wouldn't it really be better just to contribute money to the cause? If I'm buying something I need and part of the proceeds go to the cure, then sure, that's great! But otherwise, doesn't it just make more sense to give money directly? I was stunned at the number of pink things there are out there for breast cancer awareness! Please understand that I'm not criticizing this. I just wonder if money wouldn't be better. Why spend $25 on a pink t-shirt with a small percentage going to the cure when you could just contribute $25 with all of it going to the cure?

That's it. My rants are over. So is my procrastinating. I have 8 stinkin' rows left to do on my Fifi then I have to finish the sleeves which will be very short! I'll be so relieved. I just hate ribbing. I don't know what I was thinking! It will be cute though, so that's certainly a relief! I will post the photos when finished! DH went to a friend's house to jam, so I will find a good flick on HBO and knit!

Bushism of the day:
"You teach a child to read, and he or her will be able to pass a literacy test.'' —George W. Bush, Feb. 21, 2001

Yes George. Isn't that all that matters?

Kitty Cam:
Samantha tries to inch her way to my lap by starting on the end table!

After which she ended up here!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Self Portrait Challenge: Bathroom II: Week 3

This is my first self portrait challenge.

Transformation I

Transformation II

The bathroom as a setting has had different meanings in the different phases of my adult life. When my children were toddlers, the bathroom was stressful. I could not take a shower without having them either with me in the tub or in the playpen in the bathroom. We were always able to turn the shower or bath into fun, usually with water everywhere. As my kids got older, the bathroom became a place of sanctuary. The rule was that Mom was not to be disturbed with in the bathroom. I could kick back and read or just sit and collect my thoughts. Now, as an older adult, the bathroom has taken on a different meaning. It has become a place of transformation. Whether it be transforming me from the aches and pains of a long day of work with a hot shower, or transforming me into a finished product with makeup and hair products, it is a place where change occurs. I like to think of the bathroom as the place where I get to add color to my external self: washing away the cares of the previous day, coloring the gray, camoflaging the wrinkles or painting the lips! I always feel brighter after my morning transformation with my flaws hidden under a fresh coat of paint!

Visit SPC for more bathroom pix!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

How do you spell relief?

N-O S-C-H-O-O-L! That's how! Now before you think that I don't like my job, allow me to clarify things. I love teaching. It's the other crap that bugs me! Most of the other crap deals with misplaced priorities on the part of the "powers that be" within the school system and my school. That is a very long rant that I don't care to bore you folks with! So I won't! We had no school today because it is Rosh Hashanna. Holidays and snow days are "freebies" as far as I'm concerned! That means that I am not obligated to do housework on those days. I will confess that I ran some errands today. I had a bunch of little nitpicky errands--too many to do after work--so I did them all today. I also got my nails done!

Everything old is new again!

I ventured into Nordstrom to replace my favorite all purpose neutral lipstick by Smashbox. Imagine my frustration when I found out it had been discontinued! For those of you who don't know--I LOVE lipstick! I carry no less than four tubes plus the matching lip liners in my purse at any given time! Fortunately I found out that I can find some discontinued items on the Smashbox website and they had my color so I ordered 3 tubes! I felt that I could not walk out of Nordstrom without a new tube of lipstick however so I stopped at the MAC counter. I love MAC lipstick. Typically I buy a new color every spring and fall so I decided it was time. Funny thing was--every color I saw that I liked--I'd turn it over to see the name only to realize that I already owned it! I'm lipsticked out! Go figure! So I went home and pulled out my plastic box under the bathroom sink which contains all my lipsticks that I'm currently not wearing! It was like I had a whole new selection! I came across this one and trust me when I tell you that the color looks a lot brighter than in the photo!

This baby is RED and I mean like Gwen Stefani or Christina Aguilera RED! It's that color that is reminiscent of the 1940's! It is called "Red Hot" and it lives up to its name! I bought this a few years ago and wore it maybe once or twice because I thought it was too bright! Well, when you get nearer the grave than the cradle, your idea of "too daring" changes. I tried it on with a touch of lip glass over it and decided that I rather like it!

It is not as neatly applied in that photo as it typically would be. Lipstick like that takes 3 traffic lights for me to apply on my way to work! I think I will start wearing this color again! Why the hell not!

I have a new assistant. You've seen Sophia, now meet Sylvia! I've decided to stay with the "S" names.

Sylvia was living in the trunk of Ems' car. Ems said that her hairstyle was a "fashion mullet"--not that I ever thought a mullet could be in fashion! Sylvia is fortunate not to have to deal with some of the typcial female problems--menstrual cramps, thigh bulge and saggy boobs--as she has no body. In the photo, she is resting on Mikey's carrier. Sylvia will come in handy when I need a hat model. One of her siblings served this purpose last winter and can be seen in my FO gallery!

I did something today that I rarely, if ever, do. I bought stash yarn! When I buy yarn, it is for a specific pattern. I always get a pattern first then I either have a preconceived notion of what I want for it or I go on a search for the perfect yarn. I have to love any yarn that I get as it may be years before I actually get around to making that particular project. If I really love the yarn when I purchase it, then I usually love it when I get around to knitting it! I was in my LYS and stumbled across a bin of discontinued yarns. I found this Silky Tweed by Elsebeth Lavold.

I had never seen this yarn before. It has a rustic appearence and the color is that of old faded denim--bluer than the photo with flecks of browns. The fiber content is 40% silk, 30% merino, 20% cotton and 10% viscose. I picture this as some sort of tunic so I bought 10 skeins, each having 130 yards. By the time I got home, I realized that this would be perfect for Sahara. I will have to play with the gauge because this is more of a dk and Sahara calls for worsted. I truly love that pattern and I think this would be perfect with some matte finish pewter type beads. Great to wear with jeans! I'll have to play with it when I actually get around to working with it.

A strange kitty thingy--Mikey and Samantha love turtle sticks! What, you may ask, are turtle sticks? They are this little gray floating things that I feed to Elvis. Every morning I go to get Elvis up, which involves turning his lights on and giving him some turtle sticks. Without fail, Mikey and Samantha rush over and start begging. So, softy that I am, I always give them a few.

They look totally unappetizing, if you ask me. They are little gray thingies about 3/4 inch long. When I looked at the ingredients, however, I saw that they are pretty much made of fish which explains the attraction! I guess they are like kitty candy!

I need to get back to Fifi. I have about 10 rows left in the body and then I just have to finish the sleeves and block her.

Bushism of the day:
"Laura and I really don't realize how bright our children is sometimes until we get an objective analysis." --George W. Bush, CNBC, April 15, 2000

Kitty Cam:
Greg sometimes gets impatient when I am on my computer. Here he is showing his frustration by sitting on the table, which he is not allowed to do!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

There's no going back!

That saying applies to more things than I realized! I dropped into DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) yesterday to look around since they are giving double points on their cards. The DSW near me doesn't carry the really pricey designers, but they carry nice shoes none the less. I browsed and didn't find anything. Here's the problem. I've been getting higher end shoes the last year. I haven't bought many because they are just too expensive. But they are worth every penny. I've discovered Cole Haan shoes with the Nike Air padding. They are like nothing I've ever had on me feet--including Danskos. I saw a little pair of Dr. Scholl's sandals with the molded rubber soles on the clearance rack and tried them on, but of course, I was taking my foot out of a $200 Cole Haan sandal and putting on a $25 sandal. Needless to say the $25 one couldn't even compare. Once you've worn really good shoes, there's just no going back. This little experience has motivated me to put a bunch of stuff on ebay because there is a new little bootie in the fall Cole Haan catalog that will be perfect with jeans and for work.

I simply love these. The problem is that they are $375. I've never spent that on shoes. I think $200 is about my max for shoes and higher for boots. I'm thinking these will be in my closet before the end of October! I need to clean out my closet and put all the Nanette Lepore tops I don't wear on ebay as I usually get at least $50 and up for those.

There are other things where price and quality go together.

Premium denim. Yup! That's another one. After my little trip to True Jeans this summer, I realized that good jeans are really worth the price. The fabric is a much higher quality and the fit just doesn't compare.

Cosmetics/ Skin care. This is another biggie. Good skin care products are worth the price.

A good hair cut. I will go hungry before I will skimp on that.

Home grown and/ or organic produce. Once you've gotten used to these, the regular grocery store produce doesn't compare!

High quality natural fibers. This applies to yarn and fabric. I just cannot put polyester on my body! Ever since I started wearing good natural fibers, I can't do synthetics. I may entertain a blend with microfiber, but it has to be good stuff!

Massages! Okay, the choice here is to get regular massages or to go back to not getting them. There's definitely no going back with that one!

I think, in order to possess nice things, one has to live simply. In other words--have fewer things--just choose really nice things! As I get older and start to look toward retirement, I see that I have too much stuff. So my little trip to DSW is really becoming more typical of my shopping these days. I look, but I really don't buy much unless I'm getting gifts. I've come to realize that I wear certain things over and over so I want those things to be nice. I will have fewer of them.

Accomplishments this week:
I've been attacking my mending pile. I had a gorgeous skirt that I bought at Ann Taylor last summer that I had never worn.
Why? Because the lining was too tight! That's right! The lining! I really hate it when a manufacturer makes a lovely flared dress or skirt, then makes the lining stick straight. They do it to cut down on cost, no doubt. This skirt is made of strips of ecrue eyelet which are stitched together at the hip. Then there are about 26 skinny godets inserted to make the skirt flare out.

I split the lining at the side seams and inserted a large godet which gave it much more flare. It fits like a dream whereas before the lining was skin tight on my thighs! Only a year late. At least I got to wear it this season!

I got my yarn for Juliet. I ordered Cascade Venezia in the bulky weight from Yarn Country. It's every bit as soft and dreamy as I expected. It's a very soft off white. I'll have to raid my antique button stash to see if I have some nice oversized mother of pearl buttons for this sweater!

I'm am going to work on Fifi! I am going to try to finish it by the end of this week. That is my goal! My reward will be casting on Juliet!

Bushism of the day:
"This is still a dangerous world. It's a world of madmen and uncertainty and potential mential losses." --George W. Bush, speaking at a South Carolina oyster roast, Jan. 14, 2000

Kitty Cam:
Samantha seems to enjoy the painting scaffold in the dining room!

And she seems annoyed with me for intruding on her privacy!

Monday, September 3, 2007

A day of rest!

That's what Labor Day is and I am using it for it's intended purpose! Here it is almost noon and I'm in my pj's! I have to go to Roots and Ulta then I'm stopping at Weis and getting some Filet Mignon. I promised DH we would grill some for dinner. We rarely eat red meat, but when we do, it is the good stuff! I got a big bunch of fresh asparagus to go along with it! Yum!

I indulged myself and bought the new Zephyr pattern called Juliet.

I need a little off white cardigan and this is perfect! It takes either bulky weight yarn or worsted weight double stranded. I really dislike using double stranded yarn. I found that Cascade Venezia comes in two weights and the heavier one will be perfect. Venezia is 70/30 Merino/Silk. It feels like heaven. They have a color that is very slightly off white so I think I will do that. I have some fantastic antique bakelite buttons which I'll have to look through. Otherwise I may need to make some neat fimo ones. This one will be a really quick knit since it is on size 10.5 needles and seamless.

I did accomplish one home improvement task that I've been waiting to do--I installed the between the glass pleated shades in my French doors. We had some trashy mini blinds hanging on the doors and the cats had literally destroyed them. We get the bright afternoon sun through those doors so we really needed something. The installation was a little tricky but I was pleased with the result plus they match the shades on the windows!

I guess I should go shower and do my shopping!

Bushism of the day:
"The administration I'll bring is a group of men and women who are focused on what's best for America, honest men and women, decent men and women, women who will see service to our country as a great privilege and who will not stain the house." --George W. Bush, Des Moines Register debate, Iowa, Jan. 15, 2000

Oops, George. I don't think you accomplished that one!

Kitty Cam:
Mikey enjoys a quick game of spinny!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

It's "Bawlmer," Hon

That title will only make sense to the locals. "Bawlmer" refers to Baltimore. We Baltimorons say it that way and we call everyone "Hon" as well. This is on my mind because I had to go to Fells Point to pick up our dining room lamp which was at Baltimore Brassworks. My brother, the antiques dealer, had found the perfect ceiling chandelier for our dining room and it was in the rough so it needed a trip to the Brassworks. The shop is right on Thames Street, just steps away from the wharf. Fells Point is quite different than the Inner Harbor in that it oozes true Baltimore character. No Starbucks here! Only coffee shops with names like "The Daily Grind" and "Whole Latte Love." Fells Point and Federal Hill are probably the most historic parts of the city. Thames Street is a rocky brick road which was probably built in the late 1700's. I ended up pulling out the cell phone to take a few photos. Those who know me know that I love the series "Homicide, Life on the Street" which was filmed in Baltimore. It airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on WGN in Chicago, so I set the DVR to record it and I watch it when having my evening tea.
Walking down Thames, I approached the police station used in the series. I love the tug boats that dock at the warf!

It appears that the station building is undergoing some sort of renovation.

Here's the Waterfront hotel and bar, ca. 1771. The detectives met here frequently in the series.

Another view of the water. The rugged brick pavement can be seen.

I love this! This mannequin sits outside of the "alternative" clothing store.

Fells Point is quirky. This shop was 3 doors down from A Good Yarn. I had never been to that shop so I took a little stroll. While walking, I was reminded of one of the things Fells Point is known for--painted screen doors! Many of the screen doors on the old rowhouses have scenes painted on them. I've never seen this anywhere else! Anyway, A Good Yarn is a very nice albeit very small shop. What was nice was the table they had out front on the sidewalk for their Saturday morning sit and knit sessions. It was right under a tree and it was really a perfect day for sitting and knitting outside--something that one would typically not want to do in Maryland this time of year!

I do love Baltimore, but as Ems puts it, it is "really ghetto." Most cities have a ghetto section--you know that part of town where you would never go. In Baltimore, there are some places like that, but the "nice" parts of town are interrupted with mini-slums. You'll be walking down a street with historic row houses and upscale restaurants only to walk through 2 or 3 blocks of crack houses after which you come to another nice section. The problem with this is that you never feel completely safe if you live or work there. Perhaps that will improve over the years. Who knows?!

I must show my aquisitions for the week! I went to G-Street Fabrics to get lining, interfacing and Swiss edging lace for my suit since they were having 25% off for Labor Day when, lo and behold, the leather skin I had been coveting for the last month reappeared in the leather bin! It is a huge skin--23.3 square feet which is easily enough to make a skirt with godets. Leather has no grain so you lay the pieces out however you can to make them all fit! Anyway, it is a drapey garment leather in a delicious chocolate brown!

This will look great with the yarn I got at A Good Yarn! I have been looking for something to make the Textured Tunic on the cover of Fitted Knits. It requires a bulky yarn and the model in the book is made from wool. I just cannot wear a bulky wool sweater all day so I was in the market for something else that still looked like a tweed. It's really hard to find something that is thick enough. I ended up getting two yarns which I will strand. One is Cascade Venezia which is 70% merino and 30% silk. It is a lovely smooth yarn with a nice sheen. The other is called Wool and Silk by Harrisville. It is 50/50 wool/silk and it has that crunch and nubby texture of raw silk. The color is a beige--not a typical color for me, but I thought it would be nice to have a neutral colored sweater.

I stopped in Joann's today since they had McCall's patterns for $1.99. I was thrilled to find this pattern.

This is just what I've been looking for! I needed a skirt with small godets or inserts for lace--the pleats are backed with lace on this pattern. I had bought some gorgeous wool suiting last winter for this vogue jacket and I wanted to actually make a skirt suit.

I'll be making view C with the lace on the sleeves so I wanted a skirt that had lace as well. The wool is lightweight and extremely soft. I was able to find some reembroidered Alencon lace to use so now I will just need the lining and other incidentals.

DH and I ended the day with a trip to the movies to see the Bourne Ultimatum which I think is my favorite of the 3 Bourne movies. It pretty much keeps you on the edge of your seat from the moment it begins! Tomorrow, I will clean and grocery shop and Monday, I will play! How? I don't know, but I suspect there will be fiber involved! Labor Day is a day of rest from one's labor, so I made it a point to NOT bring home any school work! Let's hope I don't regret it! Nah!

Bushism of the day:
"Well, I think if you say you're going to do something and don't do it, that's trustworthiness." --George W. Bush, in a CNN online chat, Aug. 30, 2000

Kitty Cam:
When I got home from the city, I found Bar (Harley) relaxing on the sofa with DH.