Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My FLS Mug Shot

I was determined to have at least one more FO to show off before the end of the year so I spent one hour finishing up my February Ladies Sweater this morning and then two hours trying to take a picture of myself while wearing it. This is not a very flattering pose but it's the best I could do with the timer. The floppy sleeves and the opening that draws attention to my tummy bulge are not very attractive when I am standing like a scarecrow, but in motion the sweater actually looks pretty good. I think I like it. I admit I had my doubts about knitting a baby sweater in an adult size until I saw a zillion of them on the racks at the mall. All of which are on clearance today. 75% off.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back in Business

Now that all the holiday hoopla is behind me, I have been able to get back to work on some long standing WIPs in dire need of finishing. Resolution number one will be to get the other sleeve on my Palette Cardi finished. Here it is looking very odd, being modeled by skinny minny daughter. Of course it means cutting steeks again. I thought I had done a spectacular job on the first sleeve but on close examination I now see stitches that did not get caught up in the crochet technique I used and are in danger of doing some damage. The good news is that after trying it on, it does not seem so big after all. That brings me to resolution number two: Lay off the cookies.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Any Excuse

As far as celebrations are concerned, if there are candles and fried foods involved, I am there. For many years, this little menorah was used at school as a part of the "holidays around the world" lessons that were allowed in late December. When such things became discouraged and then forbidden, I had to give it a home. I couldn't just drop it in the dumpster. It is my rescue menorah. Each year it does its job at my house in spite of its political incorrectness in the public schools. The little candles light up the dark days of December and reminds us that no matter who, and no matter where, all things celebrated are good.

Besides, how could you not love something that has such a beautiful blessing:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

There Goes Santa Claus

Yes. I know it's a little late to be talking about Santa, but since it was purchased way back in 1994, Christmas can't be officially declared over around here until the Santa puzzle has had the (almost) last piece put in. I say almost because one top right piece is missing. No matter. We put the first piece in every Christmas Eve and then it becomes a mad race to see who can finish the thing. It can get ugly. While the family went golfing this afternoon I put in a secretive marathon effort. Daughter and I worked as a team for an hour or two this evening and made a lot of ground, but it was me and the SO who made it to the finish line while number two son prepared a curry in my disaster of a kitchen.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Looky What I Got!

In addition to getting my Knit Pick's Gift Certificates (I got two!!!) this pretty little thing was stuffed in a coffee mug as a surprise from the SO. The photo does not show off the sparkle of all the little diamonds very well, so you will have to take my word for just how seriously pretty this little ring is. I was out shopping with daughter when it caught my eye. She was trying on engagement rings-just for fun. It's her new favorite hobby. The appeal of this ring for me was that it was sparkly and FLAT. Which means you can wear it and not get it caught on woolly stuff. How she managed to conspire with her dad to buy it and then keep it a secret for so long is beyond me. I never realized what good liars the two of them are. Makes me wonder.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's Still About the Sweet Stuff

For a solid week I have done little except create ridiculously sugary confections that look much better than they taste. The Buche de Noel, our traditional Christmas Eve yule log cake, on the right, is one of the prettiest I have ever made but it tastes like chocolate frosted rubber. Yucky. Since no one ate it, I think I will shellac it and save it for next year. That gingerbread house needs to be condemned. Even the gingerbread men were laughing at it. As the sun went down on this last day of celebration, all the sweets, including my beloved mince pie, got scraped right into the garbage. The kitchen is officially closed. If it can't be heated up in a microwave, I'm not eating it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Too Silent a Night

Due to work and flight schedules, for the first time ever, our family get together is on hold until after the holiday. Last night, while the rest of the world was celebrating, it was just another Wednesday night for me. It was weird. Really weird. A peppermint martini helped some. So did the mince pie. And the fruitcake. Today I get to go to the airport and pick up number 2 son. Goody. It has been way too quiet around here.
Although I am feeling like a big old Scrooge at the moment, my jolly old Santa wall hanging wants to wish you a Merry Christmas. I am not the only one in my family that is yarn crazy. He was hooked by Granddaddy last year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's a Wrap

I hate wrapping presents. I am terrible at it. The ability to fold paper neatly is beyond me. Everything I wrap ends up looking like I am giving away pillows. Wrapping is messy. Stuff ends up stuck to me and everything around me. I know that I should be using gift bags and only gift bags but gift bags under a tree is just wrong. My grandmother had the right idea. Each year she would box up all her gifts and then invite everyone over for a wrapping party. The kids would wrap and the adults would do mysterious things that always involved whiskey sours and mistletoe. Because all the boxes were scotch taped shut, you never knew whose gifts you were wrapping. I never knew how she knew whose gift was whose but she always did. She departed this life at 11 am one snowy Christmas morning after suffering a stroke several weeks before, catching us all by surprise. Like Christmas, she was supposed to go on forever. I miss you Meme. If you are looking down, please forgive the mess I made of my gifts again this year. It's just never been the same without you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

O Aluminum Tree...

I love my little vintage Pom Pom Sparkler. After years of buying trees that we planted in our yard after Christmas we finally ran out of room. I found this little cutie 6 years ago on Ebay before they became chic again and won her in a fierce bidding war for $49. I do not have one of those colored wheel thingys. I prefer that she remains silver and have instead lit her from underneath with white twinkle lights and from within with a string of extremely tiny white lights I found at Ikea. I consider her my Barbie doll of trees as I take great joy in dressing her up for the holidays. Each year it is a challenge to put together a new look. This year I wanted to knit those little sweater and mitten ornaments to hang on her but got too late a start. I did add a set of glass penguins and nutcrackers to her wardrobe. It was impossible to get a photo. Here she looks kinda like a stick with junk hanging on it but in my living room she is glowing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Meet the Family

Just when I thought I was done my holiday baking I realized that I forgotten to make my favorite cookie. As the holiday stress begins to mount, I always find it very satisfying to be able to bite an arm or a leg off of something. In spite of my gloppy icing and lack of a steady hand, my adorable little family of gingerbread clowns were just what I needed to put an end to this year's holiday baking marathon. It is 9:30 pm and I have just taken the last cinnamon loaf out of the oven to cool. I am so done. Let the wrapping begin.

The Good Stuff

Yesterday was all about the cookies but today it is all about the rum. If you have never made the Bacardi Rum Cake stop reading stupid knitting blogs and go get a yellow cake mix, a box of vanilla pudding, some chopped nuts and a bottle of dark rum. With just those few items and other stuff you probably already have around the house you can make yourself mounds and mounds of little bite sized pieces of heaven. Drenched in a buttered rum glaze, this stuff is so rich that a mouthful is all that you need. Eat one with a glass of eggnog and you might have to call 911.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Gift of Fat and Sugar

At 7 am I was in the kitchen creaming butter and sugar into every bowl I own. This year the cookie baking marathon was going to be organized. I made all the dough in advance, actually chilled them (a step I usually regard as optional) and had all the pans parchment lined and ready to go. I MADE myself wash each utensil as I used it cleverly avoiding the dreaded sink overload. Everything turned out yummy except the one pan of over browned sugar cookies that, although created unintentionally, are always my favorites. Everything is wrapped and ready in a sea of plastic including the chocolate truffles (yes, kids I said chocolate truffles). At 4 pm I am finally sitting down with a strong cup of tea to hopefully coax some of the sugar out of my system after sending several boxes off with the visiting Granddaddy who each year puts the jam in the coconut thumbprints.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another Wet Christmas

I just discovered that it is really hard to take pictures of rain at night. Trying to capture our dismal blend of mist and muck is impossible. I wanted all you people across the entire US of A to see that while you are getting your mountains of snow, we here in the nation's capital are having our usual soggy, gray holiday. The lights illuminating the mud and gloom only make matters worse. Tonight's news reports have tried in vain to make me feel sorry for y'all. I know you have to dig out and that getting around is difficult, but where the hell do you all have to go? I would love to have an excuse to sit by the fire knowing that all the holiday insanity was on hold and that I didn't have to make some lame excuse to get out of it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy 31st Nick!

Number one son turned 31 today. It seems like just yesterday I was measuring his little self up against the closet door on his special day. Look at that hair. Look at those eyes. What a cutie. Think about how cute my grandkids would be, if I had any. Just think about all those cute genes going to waste. I sure do.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

The big 5-5.
One foot in the grave.
Over the hill.
All true.
That's me over there in the grass about 35 years ago documenting my glorious self before putting on a bathing suit became an emotional crisis. Sigh. I can't think of one thing good to say about getting older except that I may get to retire someday and be able to spend my day in my knitting room instead of a classroom. I hate my job. I don't hate teaching, I just hate what teaching has become. Before I drag out my "what's wrong with education" soapbox let me remind myself that this is a knitting blog not a "I HATE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" blog so I'll shut up and go eat cake.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Man Fringe

I made this huge scarf in less than a week by working on it for little more than 10 minutes each morning before work. I am still amazed at how fast you can weave compared to knitting something in the same gauge. Since this is another guy scarf, I had to do something manly with all those loose ends. Since I am not ready to hem the edges due to a total lack of confidence in my weaving ability, I twisted the ends to make fat little fringes which look a bit more masculine. The guy this is intended for has no problem prancing around with snowmen dangling from his ears at Christmas or spray painting his hair green on Saint Patrick's Day so I probably did not need to stress too much about the sexual orientation of his scarf.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Calorimetry Crazy

I finally found something that I can have fun knitting and then actually wear so I have a giant pile of them at the moment and lots of balls of yarn still destined to become one. I discovered fabulous Tweedle Dee put out by Moda Dea at AC Moore and bought every colorway they make. I also exhausted Elann's supply of multicolored chunky acrylic. Some of these are destined for my head and some for gifts. Maybe. I am always very uneasy about giving my projects away as I become hyper critical the moment the thing has been finished. It is too itchy, the color is wrong, my finishing sucks and so on and so on until I convince myself that the thing is better off behind a dust bunny in the bottom of the closet. I still cringe at some of the truly awful things I have given to undeserving friends and family. I lie in bed at night and imagine sneaking into their houses and taking the hideous hat, scarf, etc. and then setting it on fire. Extreme, I know but you should see some of the ugly crap I have made.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Little of the White Stuff

For us Marylanders, the pitiful amount of snow that fell yesterday was a big deal. In the past several years, snow has become a very rare occurrence with little or no accumulation. Winter has become a chilly, damp season with mud being its defining feature. Owning a good coat here is a fashion statement more than a necessity. Thanks to an Alberta Clipper that flew past, for a few lovely hours yesterday afternoon, we were treated to a mini snowfall. My immediate reaction was to throw some cookies in the oven and then grab the tinsel tree and the lights and decorate everything in sight. Good thing I didn't give in to the too-early-for-me holiday spirit. This morning it is all gone.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Second Try

I love my new loom! After my first weaving disaster I have managed to crank out two scarves that can actually be worn. I hate the feel of thick, knitted scarves wrapped around my neck so this woven one is warm but light enough to be comfortable. The best part of weaving is that cheap acrylics make the best weaving yarn so in the past week my stash has grown considerably as I have been buying up everything Micheal's and AC Moore has to offer. Giant bags of yarn for under $50! I have enough stuff to make tons of scarves for lots of unsuspecting family members. Lucky for them that the holidays are only a few weeks away or I'd be filling up the gift bags with these things.

Third Try

Here is my third scarf made from some inexpensive Lion Brand Homespun and Red Heart Soft Yarn. It took me less than a week of after-work weaving. It's rather wide and very long so it's a perfect guy scarf. It got out of hand because I still have no idea how to warp the loom to I get the size I want but with scarves I guess it doesn't really matter. The fringe gave me lots of trouble. Since it was clearly a guy scarf- a granddaddy scarf to be exact- frilly, floppy fringe didn't work. I have no idea what to do with all the loose ends yet so I had no choice but to tie them up into stupid looking fringe. I have tied and retied the ends then trimmed them several times and I still hate them. The fact that the two yarns are different made it even more yucky in my opinion. I guess finishing issues will be my holiday homework.