Thursday, January 31, 2008

AI- Miami Auditions

We open with the Idol Vice logo and segue directly to Shannon, the meat chopping Pro Burper, who had won a bunch of contests without possessing the ability to sing, and without anyone informing her of that oh, so important fact. I did enjoy her Bangle Hat though (similar to the one I posted awhile back, from the old needlework magazine).

Curly-locked Gahleb was 27 the same way I'm 47, which is to say: not. I don't know how his accent qualified him to slobber all over Paula, but she seemed to be enjoying it.

Corliss and Brittany, large ladies who dress very well (not a common combo on AI), were the highlight of the episode for me. I loved both of them but prefer the tone of Corliss's voice. I have already set myself up for the dissapointment of a JHud/Mandisa/LaKisha early elimination (if she even makes it that far).

The rest of the good singers didn't seem that good to me- each one threw in a few bad notes, and almost all of them oversang (hint to auditioners: Bonnie Raitt just sings the notes. no embroidery needed, and Janis Joplin songs only sound good with Janis Joplin singing them). Even the backstories were boring. Single Mom with the adorable little girl was more memorable for Shirley Templing her hair than her voice, and the girl with the recovering addict father wasn't any different from the girl with the distant father (from Omaha) or any of the other dysfunctional family-dynamic stories they keep shoving at us.

And then there was Julie, the former American Junior Finalist. I felt a little guilty being so glad that a 16 year old was so very bad, until her mom tried to put an arm around her and Julie flung it away. There's delusional. There's young. There's overconfident. And there's a bit of early success impairing maturity. But there's also pure brattiness, and I think I know what we saw.

Is it Hollywood time yet? I haven't found my one and I am getting tired of auditions.

Thursday Tab- Lilja Madame Hattie

First- for those who were worried, the Thursday Tabs will continue without interruption, at least until I run out of scans (which isn't going to happen for awhile).

This rare book is Lilja's Madame Hattie. It features 2 of the dolls from last week's Sapphire Queen of the Night Clubs, but all new clothes (except for the one dress with the plaid top- there is a nearly identical one in the Sapphire book). This is a very rare book, and the scans were provided by my friend Peggy. Thank you so much Peggy.
Obviously, the book was drawn by the same artist. My guess is that Madame Hattie is the blonde, and that she is a dressmaker. Maybe somewhere in the Alps.
I love this set.
Click on the pages to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs. Print from any graphics program, clothes on plain paper, covers on card stock.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Announcement! Signed, Sealed and Gainfully Employed- and Contest Time!

Astute blog readers may have noticed that I haven't shown any recent knitting projects (finished or un)- there's a reason for that, and I can finally announce why: I've begun work on another book! The contracts arrived today, so I can go public with the news.

Taunton (the same publisher who did such a marvelous job with I Heart Felt, and lucky me, I'll be working with the same wonderful editor) is going to publish my next book. I'd tell you the working title, but working titles get changed (in my case, 9 out of 9 times), so we'll just call it The Sock Book.

Yep, that's right. I'm writing a sock book. A Big sock book. And the deadline is a killer, which means it'll be all socks, all the time, until July.

The upside is that I am once again gainfully employed, which is always nice (that sort of thing makes the electric company very happy), and that I have another book in the pipeline (which is also very nice, in a purely egotistical way).

The downside is that I can't show any of the projects I'm working on for the book (though I will inevitably talk about the process- perhaps that *talking* will sometimes sound like *bitching and moaning*- and I intend to talk about all the wonderful yarns I'm using. Oh my, the yarns I'm using are fantastic).

But the real downside is that I'm going to have to suspend the Freebie Friday patterns for the time being, at least as a weekly thing. I simply will not be able to come up with a new pattern every week, and at the same time, design, knit, and write up 75 (yep, seventy-five) sock patterns by July. I do hope to squeeze a Freebie in here and there, but my priority right now is the paying job.

As a compensation for suspending the freebies, I think we'll have more contests, starting today.

I happen to have an extra advance copy of I Heart Felt (which won't hit the stands for another 3 weeks). Post a comment for this post between today and Midnight February 1, and one of the commentors will win a signed copy of a book that no one (well almost no one) has seen yet.

Not the same as a free weekly pattern, but I think it'll help.

AI- Omaha Auditions

psst- Show. C'mere a minute. Yeah, you, over there. I wanna tellya something. See, Nebraska... Nebraska is a state. And it's in the middle of the country, an area that coasties dismiss automatically as uninteresting and unimportant, and farmish. And yes, Nebraska is farmish. But Omaha... Now Omaha is a city. A city with a population of nearly one million people. Yep, that's right- almost one million. I've been to Omaha, there is not a cornshock to be found within the city limits unless it's part of a store decoration. And even then, I doubt it. Not that I ever depended on the Fox Channel for geographical information, but sheesh.

On the other hand, without AI, I would never have known that Nebraska had such a concentrated population of Werewolves, Vampires, legging-wearing ex-wrestlers, and strange horned Ren Faire rejects. None of whom can sing (though that's not such a surprise).

Simon was particularly kind to the deer-in-the-headlights-lyric-forgetter, but I doubt he'll get much further than the Hollywood rounds. Gigantic Arm Wrestling lady had a perfectly serviceable Country Singer Yodel that she was told to weed from her repertoire. Poor Angelica Puente thinks going on American Idol will repair her damaged relationship with her father (I liked her voice though, and wish her well). Samantha Sidley was my favorite of the night, though there are rumors swirling already about her being a ringer (along with Australian Michael Johns, Irish Carly Smithson, paralyzed vocal cord boy David Archuletta, and more- people with former major music industry connections and contracts that went strangely unmentioned during their auditions). (For the record, former contracts have always been okay in the AI universe, as long as the contestant doesn't have a current relationship with a company. But not mentioning that so many- and I've heard at least 10 of the Hollywoodites, all people who we've seen, which gives them a leg up on the unseen ones who passed muster- have had fairly extensive experience in the pro-music world, is a little disingenuous).

On the bright side, Omaha saw the return of Loopy Paula- crawling up on the table like a dog, hiccupping loudly, having *plane delays*. Soon she'll be describing the contestants' butterfly auras and weeping openly into her *coke*. Welcome back, Pauler.

Monday, January 28, 2008

The first thing I noticed about this magazine cover...

Was it her weird hairstyle with that amazing bow? Nope.

Was it all the red? Nope

Was it the Barbie things? Well, a little- I always notice Barbie things.

Was it the embroidered chicken? Nope
Was it the smocked gingham chair set?

It was those big, honkin pointy shoes.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What kind of knitter are you?

According to the test, I'm a logical knitter.

But not really- I make almost everything up as I go. That would make me an adventurous knitter.

Or a foolish knitter.

Or sometimes a knitter who says very bad words out loud.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Freebie Friday- Winter White Tam

I've mentioned Decadent Fibers yarn here before, and this week, I'm featuring their wonderful Marshmallow yarn in the Freebie Friday pattern. Marshmallow is a lovely blend of Alpaca and Merino- it's so soft that I want to nap on it. I used their natural undyed yarn for this pattern, but Chris and Pat will also dye Marshmallow in any of their fantastic colorways.

You can make two Winter White tams with one skein of Marshmallow. Go to the Decadent Fibers website and check out their fantastic yarns:

This tam is fun to make- just simple knit and purl textured motifs, for a soft and gorgeous hat.
Click on the 2 pattern pages to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs, print from any graphics program.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

AI- Charleston Auditions

Well, I found my Hated One- I don't want to hear lectures on quitting drugs from someone who never inhaled. I don't want advice on losing weight from someone who is naturally thin. And I never, ever, and I do mean ever, want to be harrangued about sex by a 16 year old Virgin. That Amy had no notion that she was supremely annoying tells me everything I need to know about her. I hope she meets the young man who is determined not to kiss anyone until his wedding day.

Aretha's voice wasn't horrible, but her dress and belt were. If she'd toned those boobs down just a bit, the judges might have been able to pick their jaws up off the floor, and listen to her instead.

I thought we were being set up for a bad audition, but Jeffrey and his sister were surprisingly good. I don't think he'll make it very far once the voting starts though. America is just not ready to embrace a big bald guy who wears a necktie as a sweatband.

What is in the water in Albemarle? First Pickler, and now the waitress who will spit in your food even before you tell her that you wanted your eggs scrambled, not over easy.

I thought the Pilot sang very well, and was sorry she didn't make it through. Ditto New Dad, though all the flourishes killed him, I think.

This was the worst of the audition shows so far.

Thursday Tab- Lilja, Sapphire Queen of the Nightclubs

I am uploading this set with the permission of my friend Peggy, who owns the extremely rare Lilja Sapphire, Queen of the Nightclubs, which was originally published in 1948. I only have very sketchy info on this book, but I believe that Sapphire, and the companion book Madame Hattie, are connected to the comic strip Terry and the Pirates. It certainly is more detailed and adult than most paper doll sets of the time.

I love love love this book. Thank you Peggy, for allowing me to upload your scans.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

AI- San Diego Auditions

Mark my words, in The Great Final Reckoning, Maria Carey will have much to answer for.

For the third time in a row, the show opened with a strong auditon, though I'm with Simon- Tetianna wasn't as good as she thought she was (and her reaction to his comment was very telling). I thought she, and almost all of the other *girls* (as they call them on this show, no matter how old they are) oversang everything.

Young single Father Perry was only okay, but he has such an adorable little boy that I'm glad he made it through (see Producers- your obvious stacking of the deck works).

I really liked Michael, the Australian soul-singer, though he doesn't have the gravel I loved in Taylor's voice. And I also liked David, the 16 year old who had vocal cord problems- he didn't seem to be like most of the 16 year olds on the show (he's not a prodigy, he's not a throwback, he's not whatever Sanjaya was- he just sings well).

I was surprised that the Sister Simon Lover Samantha was that good. I expected her gimmick to outweigh any talent (and I loved Simon's mispronunciation of *Obama*).

So, we finally got to see Carly, the Irish Singer. I have heard rumors about her for a couple of years, and Interweb types are calling shenanigans on her audition for having had an unmentioned huge recording contract in the past, but she was a good singer and we'll see how far she goes.

Fingernail and Fan Boy (sounds like a knitting pattern, doesn't it?) was so over the top that even Gay Stereotype over in the corner, told him to tone it down just a hair. I didn't believe him or his schtick for a minute.

All in all, a good show, though as always, I would have jettisoned the whackos (especially Fanny) in order to see more good singers.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Your Freebies- LeiLani's Easy Lace Fingerless Mittens

LeiLani sent this shot of her Easy Lace Fingerless Mittens. She said that it was her first foray into using dpns. You go, LeiLani!

I love the yarn, and the mittens look fantastic!

Here's the pattern:

Send me pics of the items you've knitted from the Freebie Patterns, and I'll post them too!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

One Proud Gramma

And why am I so proud? Because of this little bit of knitting, right here.

My 6 year old granddaughter picked up the needles for the first time when she was 4 but it never quite clicked with her and she set them aside for crayons and jump ropes. On Friday, she asked to try knitting again. We looked through my stash, and she chose a pretty purple wool, and gave it another go. After much lip biting and squinting, and a bit of help with split stitches, she had her first knitting *lightbulb* moment, and was off to the races. By this morning, she was measuring the piece on her wrist after every row, and was beyond excited when it was finally long enough (turning it into a wristband was her idea, after we rejected sock and sweater). I helped her with the YO buttonhole, and the bind off, but she did the knitting and the weaving in. She then chose a lampworked bead and sewed it on by herself.

Yep, one very proud Gramma.

She asked if people knit wash cloths, and if so, could she try that next.

An extremely proud Gramma.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


It was -20 at 9:00 am, ladies and frozen germs. That's twenty degrees below zero, Fahrenheit. And that's without wind chill, which added (or subtracted) a good ten degrees. It's cold enough that if your car stalls on the highway, you'd better stay in the car and wait for rescue, rather than walking a mile to the nearest farm house, unless you want to end up a corpscicle. It has since warmed up to a relatively tropical -14, but that's still chilly enough hunker down inside with a cup of cocoa and a lap full of wool. Which is what I intend to do.

I hope you're all warm and cozy too.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Freebie Friday- Standed Snowman Mitten #2

Note: The first chart page I uploaded had an error. Please download the correction with the red *revised* on the page. Sorry for the inconvenience- that's what I get for leaving the work until the last minute.

And here is the companion chart to last week's Stranded Snowman Mittens #1. Download those pages for the knitting instructions and specs.

Child Size Stranded Snowman Mitten #1 Chart and Instructions:

Click on pattern page to enlarge, right click to save as a jpg. Print from any graphics program.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

American Idol- Dallas Auditions

Two nights in a row, they showed us some good singers (if you haven't watched this show obsessively, you might not be surprised that a singing show would feature some good singers once in awhile). There were the crazies (creepy father/son locket/key duo? urk. guy who saves his fingernail clippings in a baggie and carries them around? double urk), but there were good singers:
Jessica Brown, former meth addict, now recovering, made me like a song I really hate. Pia Easley made me appreciate blonde mini-mohawks (and whatever other mysterious things she had going on in her hair). Sixteen year old girl who, despite what everyone has told her, and which she obviously believes, is not as good as Carrie Underwood, but who has *something*- she'll be interesting to watch.

And best of all, Farm Boy Drew- with the amazing deep voice. I'm not totally sold on him because country music is not my bailiwick, but he has a chance to grow into the Dread Pirate Idol, I think.
And Paula dancing her fool head off at the end made me smile. I don't know why, but it did.

Thursday Tab- Saalfield Midi Mod #1348, 1966

This one is fun- Saalfield #1348, Midi-Mod Fashions from the mid-60's (and yes, I remember all of them clearly, though frankly, some of these outfits look more '62 than '66, and the dolls look more 35 than 16). It's interesting to note that the same set, with the title Randy & Cher, was published by Rand McNally in '72. I only have a scan of the cover of the reissue, so I don't know if it had all of the clothes from the original (often reprints had fewer pages).
Win-chester Cathedral, you're bringing me dow-won...
Click on the images to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs. Print from any graphics program, clothes on plain paper, covers on card stock.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

AI- Philly Auditions

It was a suprisingly good show. Simon was gentle with nearly everyone (saving the nasty comments for when the auditioner was out of the room at least), Paula was coherent, Randy has a goatee. We got to hear more good singers than we usually hear in an audition show (especially the first one of the season). They kept the crazies to a minimum (and I am firmly convinced that Alexis Cohen, the beglittered vet-wannabe, has a hearing problem. The judges encouraged her to sing with a band, which is where she probably belongs. They most certainly did not say anything that warranted her rant). I am also firmly convinced that Stalker Paul sang his creepy song with tongue planted firmly in cheek (if you were a bathtub, I'd caulk you?).

I liked Joey Catalano (the first singer, the one who has lost 200 lbs), and Angela Martin (the young mother with the special needs child- though in my world, Angela Martin will always be a tiny, uptight blonde secretly in love with Dwight Schrute), and the cage-fighting blonde (though word is that she's a ringer, with a previous recording contract), but no one rang the Aiken/Hicks bell for me.

What I didn't love: I have seen all the tall, leggy, beautiful blonde girls that I need to. Yes they can sing. Yes they're attractive. But I am pretty sure that some average-looking, heavy women with good voices auditioned. I'd like to hear them too.
BTW- If you want real AI recaps, go to Television Without Pity (TWoP link in the Non-Knitting Places I love). Snark is spoken there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's Here!!!!!

So, a watched FedEx does arrive, after all.

I had seen the b/w pages of the book, and of course, I'm intimately familiar with every one of the projects, but seeing it all together, in color, as a Real Book, is a pretty amazing experience (this is my 10th time, and it is still pretty damn exciting).

The book will hit the stands on Feb. 19, and my guess is that it'll be available pretty much everywhere (my other knitting books have been carried in yarn shops, book stores, and online through Amazon, B&N, Borders, and many yarn/wool/knitting vendors). Let me say that Taunton did a fantastic job with this book. The photography is amazing, the layout is great, the colors and design are perfect. Can you tell I'm excited????
And do you see who gave me a blurb? Kay from Mason Dixon. Wow.
Here's a peek at the front and back cover, and one interior shot.

In which you lose whatever respect you might have for me...

As I try not to watch the driveway for the FedEx truck, waiting for the arrival of I Heart Felt, I do have a distraction- a sure thing that has taken my mind off almost everything else. My shameful addiction returns tonight.
That's right. I'm an Idol junkie. I think I've only missed three episodes in the first six seasons (once for an out of town funeral, once because we were in the Minneapolis/St Paul airport on our way back home from a wonderful trip to the west coast, and once to see a good friend at a book signing), and book or no book, I'll be front and center in my living room tonight.

Why do I love American Idol? Beats the hell outta me. I guess I just love watching the transformation from awkward auditioners to polished performers (and sometimes the deterioration of talent and skill). And I love that little thrill when I hear *The One* in the auditions. It happened with Clay Aiken. It happened with Taylor Hicks. It happened with Melinda Doolittle. It also happened with Josh Gracin and Scott Savol but we won't talk about that. And I love finding The Hated One (Mikalah Gordon, Kellie Pickler, and everyone else's faves last year, Blake Lewis and Chris Richardson).

I watch. I obsess. I (insert small voice) vote. And I'm certain I'll blog. From tonight until the middle of May, American Idol owns me.

So go ahead and despise me. I'll be too busy being mesmerized to care.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Squeeless in South Dakota

Well, it's 4:30, and no FedEx truck yet, so the book will probably arrive tomorrow. I'll squee twice as loud then, I'm sure. And I'll post pics.

Like a dog with its nose pressed against the window...

... I am waiting for the FedEx guy to appear with my first copy of I Heart Felt. You probably won't need to log on to know when he arrives, the squee will be heard round the world.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Eating Healthy- Mouse's Spicy Chicken Chalupa

My friend Mouse from Portland was in Sioux Falls, visiting her father, so we drove down to have lunch with her last week. We ate at Granite City (no website- but if you're in Sioux Falls, go there. The food is great) and Mouse had their Chicken Ceasar Chalupa, with added hot sauce, and it was wonderful (we all had a taste). We came home, determined to figure out our own diabetes-friendly version, and we came up with a winner. It's not exactly like the Granite City version (no Ceasar dressing), but it's a keeper.

When it comes to cooking, we use up whatever is in the cupboard, which accounts for the KFC Hot Wing sauce packet, which we had left from the old, bad-eating days. I'm sure other hot sauces would work if you don't have a stash from KFC on hand.

I didn't calculate the fat (our collective cholesterol numbers are fine, so we concentrate on monitoring calories and carbs). You can substitute or reduce the cheese if you want a lower-fat meal. The total calories depend on the kind of low-carb tortillas you use. Ours were 100 calories@, with 6 gr net carb.

Mouse's Spicy Chicken Chalupa- serves 4-6

1 tsp olive oil
6- whole wheat, low carb tortillas (approx 10" diameter)
3 chicken breasts, cut into small cubes
assorted spices (we used some Tabasco and a couple of KFC Hot Wing Packets)
Pizza Sauce (we used Pizza Squeeze)
1 tomato, diced small
5 ozs Pepper Jack Cheese (sliced broken into pieces, or shredded)

optional: shredded lettuce, sliced olives

Preheat oven 400 degrees

Saute cubed chicken breast in a non-stick pan, sprinkle with spices and tabasco, and cook until done and juice evaporates

Spread small amt olive oil in a hot frying pan. Fry the tortilla on both sides (tortilla will not be crispy). Remove from pan. Spread 1 tbsp Pizza sauce on the tortilla, sprinkle with about 2 tbsp cooked, cubed spiced chicken (1/2 breast), sprinkle with 2 tbsp tomato, and top with about 3/4 oz shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

Place the Chalupa directly on the middle rack of your oven, or on a metal baking sheet, and bake until the cheese bubbles and the tortilla is crisp (5-7 minutes). Remove from oven and cut into pieces. Serve with shredded lettuce and top with sliced olives.

Each Chalupa (without lettuce and olives): approx 300 calories, 14 gr Carb

Friday, January 11, 2008

Freebie Friday- Part 1- Stranded Snow Mittens Child Size

I made this mismatched pair of mittens for my granddaughter in '06 (this is an old pic, but they still look pretty good, if a little worn and well-loved). This week's pattern and chart is for the Snowman mitten. Next week's will be the snowflake mitten. These mittens are the same on the front and back, so you can make a pair of either, or replicate my mis-mated pair. If you want to make them shorter, begin the top decreases a little earlier (it won't mess up the snowman heads too much). If you want to make them longer, do a few rows of the vertical striped top before beginning the decreases. If you want to make them wider, add a few stitches to either side of the chart (the same number on both sides) and do a few more increases on the thumb gusset. If you want to make them Adult size, I suspect using DK yarn and size 3 needles will do the trick.
This chart was adapted from a Seasonal Vest pattern that I did for Knit Picks. That pattern is now out of print, and the rights reverted to me.
Click on the pattern pages to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs. Print from any graphics program.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thursday Tab- Saalfield Prince and Princess #2613

No info on this set, except that I suspect it was drawn in the late 30's or early 40's and then reissued- *historical* drawings (movies, TV, etc) almost always reflect, in very subtle ways, the period in which the drawings are made, and those boobs are not 50's nosecones.

I suspect this set was a companion to Robin Hood and Maid Marian (posted earlier). The clothes are beautifully drawn. I have no idea why they're numbered- maybe so that the male and female outfits from certain eras are worn together. The styles seem to range from Medeival to Renaissance- sorta.
Click on pages to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs. Print from any graphics program, clothes on plain paper, covers on card stock.