Monday, March 31, 2008

The End of an Era

If 6 months can be called an Era. And given how my life has changed in the last 6+ months, I think it can.

We found out that my husband was (is) diabetic on Sept 15. On Oct.5, I joined Curves, as the Exercize portion of Diet and Exercize that we were undertaking to control his disease (battling Diabetes is a joint effort). It was a pretty major decision given that my middle name is Sedentary (you can look it up), but I dove in, and I worked my ass off (literally-as my granddaughter said recently, "Gramma, your butt disappeared").

Neither rain (not a lot), nor snow (plenty), nor nasty weather (nearly -30F some days) kept me from schlepping my lazy self uptown at 8:00am (9:00 on Saturdays), 6 days a week and elevating my heart rate to 75% capacity for my age group, for 30 minutes (and complaining, every single day about the squat machine, and the one I called Thigh Killer). I met some wonderful ladies at Curves, who have become my friends. We laughed, we cheered each other on, we sweated to the oldies (including a Euro-Techno version of Black Magic Woman, that was a crime against music in general, and Carlos Santana in particular), we gathered canned goods for the local food bank, we made quilt squares for charity, and we lost weight and inches together. One day, we talked so much, and so happily, that I did a 4th circuit on the machines without even noticing.

Over the last 6 months, I've lost 59 lbs (though 7 of those lbs were gone before I joined Curves) and 51" (by Curves' measuring standards, which counts each thigh separately) and I've gone from 47% body fat, to 38%. I started out wearing size 24 jeans and now I comfortably fit into size 12 (and I have a pair of size 10's that I can wear, if breathing isn't important). I've become fit enough that 30 seconds on any given weight machine, with a little jogging in between, doesn't make me sweat much any more.

So where is this leading? This morning was Curves' last day- the branch in my town is now closed. The next nearest outlet is 43 miles away, so I'm letting my membership lapse, but I'll be forever thankful for the push that Curves gave me on the road to fitness and health.

I'm not a new person- I'm the same old person, just a bit thinner, and a whole lot healthier. Since losing weight is the easy part, and keeping it off is the challenge- I'll continue exercizing (on the treadmill until it gets nice enough to walk outside, and as soon as it warms up, I'll start swimming every day). And if I'm being honest (tm Simon Cowell), I've probably moved beyond the Curves workout anyway. But I'm going to miss it, and the terrible music, and Anita, and Mary, and Mary Anne, and Edith, and Coreen, and Roxann, and Jean- my early morning companions. Ladies, it was my pleasure. Long may we sweat.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wooden Needle Video

Here's a video of some Wisconsin knitting needle makers, doing a local news story. It's pretty interesting, and as far as I am concerned, they don't charge nearly enough.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Your Freebies

colliegrl (from Ravelry) made this wonderful pair of Stranded Fingerless Mittens from my Freebie Friday pattern. She adapted the cuff to vertical stranded stripes, and I think they're totally beautiful!

The pattern is posted here:

Send me your pics of items made from any of the Freebie Friday patterns, and I'll post them.

Friday, March 28, 2008

More for your life...

Tim Allen once described Sears' Toughskin (tm) jeans as polyester ugly pants, saying that your knees would wear out before the pants did.
Was he right? Tip-toe through the 1973 catalog with James Lileks of The Institute of Official Cheer, and see (or remember). Warning- don't drink while clicking.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Knit Picks Podcast- April 4

I did a Podcast interview with Kelly Petkun, owner of Knit Picks this afternoon! I've been an enthusiastic customer for years, and I've designed several patterns specifically for Knit Picks, but this is the first time we've *met* in person, so to speak (the interview was was over the phone). Kelly is a warm and gracious interviewer, and I had a great time talking with her. They're planning to upload the interview on the KP site on April 4. I'll be sure to post another link when it's up and running, but in the meantime, you can go to the main KP site and click on Knitting Community and find Kelly's other podcasts.

Thursday Tab- Saalfield Outdoor Paper Dolls #1513, 1948

This is Saalfield's #1513 Outdoor Paper Dolls, published in 1948. I have the original number book, but there was a different version with more clothes and the front cover dolls dressed differently. I have scans of some of the missing clothes and the original dolls.

This is a great *teen* set. I am fascinated by the shorts/ascot/bathrobe outfit on page 2, as well as the peek-a-boo front on the girl's lounge set.

Click on images to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs, print from any graphics program, clothes on plain paper, covers on card stock.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

AI- Top 10 Elimination

I didn't hear most of the group-sing because I was too busy watching the terrible dancing. Not a one of those kids can move with the music.
The recap clips remind me that I didn't even notice Paula's Space Alien outfit last night, though tonight's Saloon Girl Ruffles made an impression. Not a good impression, but at least I saw them.

We start immediately by sending Chikezie to the Stools of Doom (which look like large, metallic martini glasses). Brooke is lucky, and safe, and Carly is forced to explain that she is lumpy, not preggers.

The Ford commercial tonight was too boring to register.

Then Ryan rushed David A off to the Couch of Comfort (does anyone actually believe he chose that song for himself? I smell a Stage Dad in the wings). David Cook inexplicably decided to wear a scarf as a back-pocket hankie, but is safe. Syesha joins Chikezie (was it the song, or the baby crying that did her in?). Though he's missing from my notes, somewhere in the mix, Michael Johns is given a reprieve as well.

Arrrgh! Constantine be gone.

Questions- again with the stupid viewer questions. How about just making the show 10 minutes shorter?

Season 2 was the first, and last, time that I loved the Top 3 equally. It was great to see Kim Locke again (though squooshing her ample bosom into that dress was perhaps an error in judgement). Her song was fine, her voice is still beautiful, she looks great, and I hope her restaurant is a success.

To my surprise, Ramielle is safe, also Kristy, who played the Flag-Waving Card and won, and which leaves sweet, stoned Jason headed for The Stools. Damn. I guess I'd better vote next week.

And it's goodbye Chikezie. I loved his voice, and I liked most of his performances, and his first Beatles' song was amazing. Go out into the world, Chikezie, and sing Luther for us old broads. We'll buy your album.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

AI- Top 10 Performance

So, tonight's theme is The Year Of Their Birth- these children who are all younger (some of them much younger) than my own kids, will remind me, for 90 straight minutes, just how old I am.

Ramielle had the goofiest hair of any baby, anywhere. Born in 1987, she attempts Heart's Alone, which was a major mistake, since Carrie Underwood pretty much put that song to AI Rest. But she gave it a good try in her high waisted shorts.

They're doing it again, even though last year's songwriting contest gave us This is My Now, eh?

Jason, also born in 1987, sings some Sting song with which I am not familiar. But he and his gorgeous eyes do a good job with it. Unlike Randy and Simon, I don't think he's coasting- I think that is what he is. And it's enough for me.

Syesha, yet another '87er, ignores my advice and tries Whitney once again. She sounded okay, but 7 Seasons of American Idol have proven that The Big W is the kiss of death. (edited to add on Wed. morning- not Whitney, but the opinion still stands)

I loved Chikezie's song, and I love Chikezie's voice, and the fact that he wasn't born in '87.

Brooke White, ca 1983, clearly does not understand the stalker vibe of Every Breath You Take. Two stumbles in a row could hurt her badly.

I am confused as to why the nearly elderly (born in 1978) Michael Johns was allowed to sing a medley. I don't remember that ever happening on a performance night. I don't know what the judges heard, but that was pitchy, dawg.

Carly (1983) must be using industrial strength straightener in her hair these days. I thought she sounded fine on most of Total Eclipse of the Heart, but that last note was beyond bad. Why the heck was she talking about bathrooms with Ryan?

David Archuletta was born the year my oldest son graduated from high school, which makes me officially old. I didn't recognize the song, but I liked his performance.

Oh, Kristy Lee Cook, do not trot out the Greenwood (exact quote from my notes: no no no no) .

You know, I still don't like David Cook ('82), and I don't want him to win. In fact, I won't shed even a pretend tear if he goes home tomorrow night. But his version of Billie Jean was not just good, it was the best performance of the night.

So who is going home tomorrow? Ya got me. It could be any of them, but if I was hard pressed to choose, I'd say Ramielle.

SKP2008 #1 Jacobean Socks finished

I had a little bit of extra time over the holiday weekend- not enough to start a new project, and definitely not enough to design new socks for the book, but enough to finish the Jacobean Socks, which are the first pair (of 5) for The Sock Knitters' Pentathalon 2008.
This first pair was a fairly simple pattern and yet it still managed to drag me out of my comfort zone by forcing me to knit the pair toe up, with a wrapped short-row heel. I didn't knit them on circular needles as directed, because I'm more comfortable with dpns, but on the remaining pairs, I won't have that option. I have a feeling that the next patterns are going to obliterate the comfort zone entirely, which is a very good thing for a knitter.

I think I was the 117th knitter to post a pic of my finished pair, so I'm well out of medal range, but I'm mostly just knitting along for the joy of it.

The yarn requirements for Pair #2 will be listed in the middle of April, with the pattern released on May 1. I'm sure it'll be another adventure.

Monday, March 24, 2008

First Yarn

We spent a lovely Easter with a houseful of family- on Saturday, my two granddaughters (age seven, and almost seven) finally noticed the pots full of drop spindles up on the top of the bookcase in the living room. Both are beginning knitters, and I hadn't wanted to muddy the waters with yarn production, so I'd never pointed them out (they've seen me spin, but I haven't had the wheel out for quite awhile). They confabbed and then jointly asked (demanded) to be taught to drop spin. I cautioned them that it wasn't a skill to be picked up in the 20 minute window we had for spinning, but they wanted to give it a shot.

This is the result. Not bad for the first time spinning, eh? Though they only made a short length of plied yarn apiece, they came up with a perfect use for their first yarn. And they're most anxious to make more. We'll have more time to play on their next visit.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Acutal Knitting

I know this isn't just a knitting blog, but since I started work on the sock book, there has been precious little kntiting that I can show off. However, I was in between book projects last night, so I picked up the SKP 2008 Jacobean sock and worked on it for awhile. This is the 2nd sock, and I am past the heel (wrapped short-row, which is not my usual short row style) and have 1 1/2 diamond motifs left before the cuff treatment. The deadline on this pair is May 1, so though I'm well past medaling time, I'll still qualify for the next round (new pattern released on May 1).

This is a pretty pattern and the yarn (from Sunshine Yarns, Golden Snitch colorway) is lovely, and it was fun to work from someone else's pattern for a few hours.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Thursday Tab- Pattern Catalog Easter Card

These files have been removed at the request of the original pattern catalog artist, Maggie Raguse. My apologies to the artist for using the images without permission.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

AI- Top 11 Elimination

So Jordin has replaced my beloved Taylor as the lowest selling Idol winner. Just goes to show that you can lead people to pick up the phone, but you can't make them buy a CD.

The Beatles group-sing was everything that last night's performances weren't. As I watched, I realized that I am liking Carly more and more (which shoulda prepared me for the rest of the show, I guess).

Brooke is safe, no surprise there. Carly isn't: whoa. David A is safely on the tour, as is Michael Johns (I don't love him or his voice, but I fully expect him to make it at least to 4th or 5th place).

We not only have to watch a commercial embedded in the show, but we have to watch a commercial about making the commercial. That said, it was the best shill-job since Ruben and Clay pimped themselves out to win the affections of Kimberly Locke.

As little as I like David Cook, I would have been very surprised if he'd been in danger. Kristy Lee's Bottom Dwelling is no surprise since I fully expect her to go home. Knowing how AI likes to play, there was no way that either Jason or Ramielle (whose hair was out of her eyes for once) were in the bottom, since there were others left to torture.

The live questions are still supremely stupid.

For a fella of possibly ambiguous yearnings, Ryan sure is obsessed with Kellie Pickler's new boobs. Though I still don't like her voice, I did enjoy her performance- she polished up pretty well.

What in the hell did Fantasia do to her hair?

So, it's down to Amanda and Chikezie, but I'm not worried about either one, or Carly (even though she's in the bottom) because Kristy is going home, right?


Good luck Amanda. You should have made it to the tour.
I guess I'd better pick up the phone next week.
(edited to add on Thursday morning- I forgot about Syesha totally. Which says everything that needs to be said about her)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

AI Top 11 Performance

In which we learn that featuring The Beatles two weeks in a row was just about as good an idea as it seemed.

Amanda looks fantastic- much better hair, and wrestling that Harley has done wonders for her upper arms. Back in the USSR was a good choice for her, though it pointed out her limitations as much as her strengths. I'm rather amused that she's blatantly using AI as a springboard. There's no way she is going to win, so she might as well get a career boost out of the show.

Kristy Lee was better than last week on You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, but that's not saying much. It was still the worst performance of the night.

I'm a bit afraid for David Archuletta- he sounded very good, but the fear shows in his eyes now. I wish he'd waited a few years to let the rest of him catch up to that great big voice. I think he might fizzle.

An I-Phone endorsement in the middle of the show? Really Ryan?

Michael Johns continues to be completely bleh. His A Day in the Life was just plain bad- the 2nd worst of the night.

Brooke White made her first misstep with the perky-fication of Here Comes the Sun. When even Paula picks up on the yellow dress=the sun symbolism, you know you're aiming too low.

I hate to say it but David Cook's Daytripper was okay, but Simon is right- he's far too smug.

Carly's Blackbird was lovely. The best of the night, wearing the 2nd worst dress.

Small Digression: Who decided that ugly-ass floaty, polyester prints were this year's Big Thing? Once was enough with that stuff, and that once was 30-some years ago.

I can't help it, Jason makes me smile, except when he's making me laugh out loud. My Bill indeed.

Syesha went with the legs last week, and the bazooms this week, draped in Grandma's shower curtain. I loved the guitar, but not her performance. She'll be in the bottom 3 again this week, but will probably survive.

Chikezie is, hands down, the most improved performer this season. I loved the beginning of his song, but thought he speeded it up too much at the end. Even he suffered from a comparison to last week's superior performance.

I'm puzzled as to why Ramielle got the final slot- she has a huge voice, but it wasn't a good song for her. Her hat reminded me of those Tyrolean things we used to buy at the Washington State Fair, that you could get custom embroidered with your name.

Top 3: Carly, David A, and.... huge hesitation.... David Cook

Bottom 3: Kristy Lee, Michael Johns, Syesha

Going home? Kristy Lee
Please, next week do Polka, or Christmas Carols, or Gilbert and Sullivan. Anything but Lennon/McCartney.

Sigh of Relief

I spent much of last night rehearsing what I thought might be included in the interview with the Morning Living hosts on Martha Stewart Radio, which was a very silly way to spend a night since I only had a vague notion of what they were going to ask me. So this morning, I was no better prepared to be on national radio than I was yesterday, but I was a whole lot more tired.

But the interview went very well- the hosts asked great questions and led me through my 15 minutes painlessly. I don't remember much of what I said, but I think it was okay. I do remember talking about the fact that the grass isn't green here yet but the geese have returned (they asked about spring, so I wasn't just rambling).

Anyway, it was a great experience, I'm pretty sure it sounded good, and I'm very glad it's over.

Pattern Catalog Scan Tutorial- Part 3

These files have been removed at the request of the original pattern catalog artist. My apologies to the artist for using the images without permission.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Martha Stewart Radio!

OMG you guys! I'm going to be interviewed on the

Martha Stewart Radio Morning Living Show on

Tuesday, March 18, at 8:00am EDT!!!!

We'll be talking about felting in general, and I Heart Felt in particular. My segment should be 10-15 minutes. It's a phone-in interview, which won't make me any less nervous, but at least I can do it in my jammies.

Martha Stewart Radio is on the Sirius Network, which means it's a subscription channel. We get Sirius music on our satellite dish, but not the talk shows, so I wouldn't be able to listen to it even if it wasn't live. But maybe some of you can hear the interview and let me know if I sound like a total doofus.

Here's the link to the Morning Living show- last week's schedule is still listed, but I imagine the new agenda will go up soon.

Saturday at Expressions Gallery

I've shopped at Expressions Gallery (formerly the Knit Nook) in Watertown, SD, for years, so it was great fun to go back for a signing, which just happened to coincide with the meeting of the Glacial Lakes Fiber Guild, some of whose members I know from the North Country Fiber Fair that I attend in Watertown every September. As with every book signing at a yarn store, I had a fantastic time- it was good to reconnect with friends, lovely to talk knitting and yarn (and crochet, and spinning, and weaving, and felting, and goat cheese, and banana bread). And, of course, I bought yarn- 3 skeins of Plymouth Boku (their Noro substitute, which is, in a lot of ways, superior to Noro) in a great coral/teal/gold colorway, 2 balls of Patons rust colored tweed Merino (both for worsted weight socks, though maybe not for the sock book), and a skein of absolutely gorgeous Trekking HandArt (hand dyed) fingering weight sock yarn in a colorway called Tundra. It didn't scan well, but it's very dark- deep green, deep browns, deep reds. I can't wait to knit this up. I'll see if I can get a good picture of it outside.

It was a wonderful afternoon, and I was invited back to their next guild meeting. I hope I can go.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Before we start the Pattern Catalog Scan Paper Doll Tutorial

These files have been removed at the request of the original pattern catalog artist. My apologies to the artist for using the images without permission.

Thursday Tab- Pattern Catalog Doll, Daphne

These files have been removed at the request of the original pattern catalog artist. My apologies to the artist for using the images without permission.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

AI Linkage

Graphs and charts and snark- who knew they went so well together?

AI- Top 12 Elimination

Note to David Cook: The Rat Pack called, and even they don't want that hat back.

So, Jim Carey has been reduced to shilling, which he does with a total deer (or rabbit, as per Simon) in the headlights expression. I wonder how Steve Carell got out of that gig.

The goup sing was not great, and I don't know why. But Chikezie and Carly sounded good, and I love me some pointy poses.

It was obvious which one of the first group was in the bottom three (I so want to pat Jason on his sweet, stoned head and send him to his room with a bag of Doritos and a handful of Twinkies). Syesha's faux singout was every bit as bad as last night's, but with more- a lot more- anger.

Because I'm old, I didn't recognize the song in the Ford commercial, but it made me laugh anyway.

And it was obvious, again, which one of the second group was in the bottom three. I have no idea, however, if Kristy's performance was an improvement because we hit the mute, but her St. Pauli Girl blouse was amusing.

Live questions from the viewing audience? No. No. No. No. Please, no.

Katharine McPhee looks good, sounds okay (not a huge fan), and sports a huge rock. Marriage seems to agree with her.

It was even more obvious who was the final Bottom Dweller, and the show totally telegraphed who was going home by the order of their naming. David Hernandez has a better voice than either Kristy or Syesha, but the combo of being totally boring and working in a Pizza Bistro (is that what they're calling it these days?) did him in. But we got to hear Ruben singing a pretty song, and I always liked him.

In the long run, it didn't really matter which of the three went home tonight- the other two will be heading out soon.

Lennon/McCartney again next week? I wonder if they got Sir Paul to agree to appear. I can't think of any other reason to repeat a theme.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

AI- Top 12 Performance

So, here we are, on our new spiffy, space-age stage, with Ryan (who could turn into Ty Pennington if he's not careful), explaining who Lennon and McCartney were. I guess they wrote some songs together, or something.

Syesha looks fantastic (are her legs 6' long?) but sounds terrible on Got To Get You Into My Life.

I figured Chikezie was going to be awful, given that he performed second (which the conspiracy theorists call The Slot of Death), but his blue-grassy change-up of She's A Woman was a great performance (though I enjoyed the beginning more than the end).

Ramielle's In My Life was very pretty, but singing after Chikezie's powerhouse turn did her no favors.

I am more and more fascinated by Jason, and I don't quite know why. If I Fell is one of my favorite Beatles' tunes, and Jason sang it quietly and very prettily, though I'm not so sure that quiet and pretty will be enough for him tonight.

Carly is the actual rocker in this competition, and I can tell that she's a competent singer (who came to LA to work as a waitress, not to record the lowest selling studio album of all time, I guess), but nothing about her Come Together connected for me.

I don't like David Cook, but he did well with Eleanor Rigby. I have a sneaking suspicion that there is a whole lot of forehead under those wispy bangs.

Brooke's Let It Be was another quiet performance, but that was what it needed to be, I think.

David Hernandez's I Saw Her Standing There was karaoke on a cruise ship in a theme park during dinner theater.

Amanda Overmyer's You Can't Do That was a very good song choice for her, and for the first time, she looked like she was having fun on stage.

And for the first time since the auditions, I heard what the judges hear in Michael Johns' voice, though I also heard the goat vibrato.

There are not enough words to describe how excruciatingly horrible Kristy Lee Cook's Country by way of Amphetamine version of Eight Days a Week was. It was the worst of the night- and maybe the worst performance all season.

Which is lucky for David Archuleta- I don't think he's going anywhere, but oh my, that was bad.

Best of the night? Chikezie, Jason, Brooke, and though it pains me greatly, David Cook.

Worst? Kristy, followed by David Hernandez, and Syesha, with wee David not too far behind.

Who's going home? Probably David Hernandez because America is not ready for full-monty strippers sappily warbling cruise ship songs.

Pic from Saturday at Athena

This is Mona (who I met on Ravelry before we met in person) and me, at Athena Fibers in Sioux Falls. It's a wonderful store, and it was a wonderful afternoon.
Mona has lately been designing the most beautiful stranded mittens.
You can visit her blog here:
(just in case it's not clear- I'm the short, gray haired one)

SKP2008- finished first Jacobean Sock

I snuck a bit of recreational knitting in last night, and finished my first SKP2008 Jacobean sock. Modifications were allowed on this sock, and mine were pretty minor: I cast on the sts in the regular way for the toe, rather than using the Magic Cast On (and then sewed the seam closed later), I used dpns rather than 1 or 2 circulars, and since my gauge was tighter than the listed gauge, I had to tear the cuff out and redo it with larger needles and omit the twisted rib (which isn't as elastic as a plain ribbing). I am very happy with the sock, and I have already cast on the mate, and am into the first diamond motif.
The sock is drying on my homemade sock blocker- made from a coated wire hanger, bent into a sort of a foot shape. It's not glamorous, but it was cheap. And it works.

I'm way out of the running for a medal, but I will have a lovely pair of socks when I get done- so I'm still a winner!

Monday, March 10, 2008

On the cover- Prayer Shawl Companion

Last spring, I was invited to contribute a shawl design to a new book that Taunton was publishing, by Janet Bristow and Victoria Cole-Galo, who founded the Prayer Shawl Ministry ( ). I was honored to be asked, and I designed a Prairie-themed shawl for my friend Shirley, using fantastic hand-dyed mohair yarns, brushed Cotton Candy and loopy Lifesavers, from Decadent Fibers ( ).

I was delighted to learn that Shirley's shawl was chosen as the cover project for the book. It'll be published in September, with proceeds going to The Prayer Shawl Ministray.

A: The other side of the door...

Q: Where do cats want to be?

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Saturday Afternoon at Athena Fibers

Boy, if I'd known that book signings at yarn stores were going to be so much fun, I would have started doing them back when I was writing mysteries. My afternoon at Athena Fibers in Sioux Falls was absolutely wonderful. It was bitterly cold outside (temps above zero, but with a nasty, damp wind) and spitting snow, but inside it was warm and wooly and wonderful.

Athena's is in a great old house with high ceilings and fantastic woodwork, with rooms lined with bins and shelves and racks of yarn. Wonderful yarn. And an amazing array of display projects- including an incredibly gorgeous lace scarf with a knitted fringe that one of the store owners, Lauri, designed. She and Judy welcomed me with open arms, and the steady stream of knitters (some who just dropped in, others who stayed for the whole two hours) made for a wildly entertaining afternoon- lots of knitting (I worked on a sock for the book, others were making sweaters, socks, and one incredibly gorgeous lace scarf from Malabrigo), lots of laughter, lots of faces put to names (many from Ravelry), lots of new friends. And of course, some new yarn for my stash.

I bought 2 balls of Freedom Spirit by Twilleys of Stamford- a brand I'd never seen before. It's a soft single, autumn colored tweed that looks like it'll knit up into stripes. Judy says it felts in a flash, which probably makes it unsuitable for socks, though I'm pretty much willing to knit socks from anything. And I chose 4 balls of Rowan Scottish Tweed (to add to the 3 colors I already have) for some future undecided stranded project.

I forgot to ask Mona if I could post the picture she took of us here, so I'll provide a link, and later post the pic itself if she says it's okay. I had gotten to know Mona on Ravelry, so it was fantastic to meet in person.

I had heard many good things about Athena Fibers, and they're all true. I can't wait to go back.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sock Progress

Here and there, I've been able to sneak a few rounds in on recreational socks. I'm past the heel of the SKP2008 Jacobean toe-up sock. My gauge is tighter than listed in the pattern, so I'll have more than the required 5 diamond repeats (I have 5 nearly done already and I'm not past the ankle). It's going to be a lovely sock, and even working in dribs and drabs, I'll be able to finish the pair well before the May 1 deadline.

The other sock is a simple Purl When Ready pattern (picking out the black bits to purl) using Colinette Jitterbug yarn (that I got at Prairie Fibers, in Fargo, ND). I love love love this yarn- and it's going to make gorgeous socks.

Tomorrow, I'll be on the road again- appearing at Athena's Fibers in Sioux Falls, SD, from 1:00-3:00. If you're in the area, drop on by. The local TV station is going to come and do a segment, which shoud be fun.
I'll report on the store and the signing on Sunday (or late Sat, depending on when we get back).

Thursday, March 6, 2008

AI- Top 16 Elimination

I had pinned my hopes on a group-sing with a little Aswad, Belinda Carlisle, big hair, and lacy fingerless gloves. Way to disappoint me, show. At least Paula was a bit more coherent tonight- less with the hesitant rambling and draping herself on Simon, and more with the finishing of one word before moving on to the next.

Unlike much of the country, I was not impressed with Blake Lewis last year. I'm sure he's a nice kid, but I never want to hear anyone beatbox. Ever. (Hey you kids, get off my lawn right now or I'm calling the police. Ya hear me?). So I found Blake's song to be just about as appealing as his shiny pants (both were probably plenty appealing to many viewers, just not me). It was interesting to see Chris Sligh playing in the band for Blake. I liked him at first last season, then I kind of detested him, and now I have a benign sort of tolerance. I wish him well. (edit: evidently the Sligh comment was Ryan's little joke. Shame on me for falling for it.)

As per standard AI MO, Ryan toyed with the Top 16, but surely no one was surprised that David Archuleta and Carly Smithson made it to the finals. And only a few people could possibly have been surprised that Jason Castro, Brooke White, Ramielle, and Amanda made it through.

Maybe a few were surprised about David Hernandez (now with 100% more male stripping), and though I hoped they would go home, I wasn't truly surprised that David Cook and Michael Johns will be around for a few more weeks. Same with Kristy Lee.

And it's not so much that I was surprised that Chikezie is sticking around, though I really was surprised that Danny Noriega didn't make the cut. I thought he was going to Sanjaya himself into 5th or 6th place.

And I was delighted to say goodbye to Kady, and not sorry to see Luke go. However, Asia'h's elimination was a total shock. I really thought she'd be around for the Top 3 or 4.

So, Top 12- start your engines, the real competition is about to begin, and it's anyone's guess who is going home with the trophy (I know that wee David Archuleta looks like a lock, but I wouldn't count Jason Castro out. Or Brooke White).
(p.s. Notice that I forgot to mention Syesha altogether. I wonder if that means something)

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thursday Tab- Saalfield Pre Teen Paper Dolls, N3941

Yeah, I know it's still Wednesday, but I'll be gone most of tomorrow, so I thought I'd upload these tonight. This set is interesting- the very Betsy McCall-ish clothes are obviously from the late 50's-early 60's (this is what I wore in grade school) but the dolls have been redrawn, with 70's poofy hair. It looks like there should be 3 dolls (with the girl on the cover being a part of the set), but there are only clothes for the 2 on the back cover. My guess is that the original book had 3 dolls and more pages of clothes.

Anyway, I love lots of separates in a paper doll set- mixing and matching all those tops and skirts/shorts makes for a lot of different outfits.
P.S. My friend Peggy, who often knows all about paper dolls, says that this book is, indeed, a reprint, of the boxed set #6169 "3 Darling Dolls With Real Wavy Hair" . I will look to see if I can find scans of the original dolls- and maybe the missing clothes for the 3rd doll.

Click on images to enlarge, right click to save as jpgs, print from any graphics program, clothes on plain paper, covers on card stock.

AI- Top 16 Women

This is Paula Abdul.

This is Paula Abdul on whatever the hell it is that Paula Abdul is on....

So, no one did Walk Like and Egyptian. Or Eternal Flame. I am deeply disappointed.

Asia'h wore unfortunate pants, and even more unfortunately, attempted Whitney. Will they never learn?

I have no idea what song Kady was singing, but I enjoyed it (amazing, since I usually dislike her enough to dislike her voice even when she's doing okay), and she kept the faces to a minimum.

Amanda's hair looked much better than her Cruella DeVille-do from last week, and she rocked her song.

The phone rang, so I didn't hear any of Carly's song, though she sounded fine on the playback at the end of the show.

Kristy Lee Cook's Journey performance wasn't nearly as fascinating as Paula draped on Simon's lap during the critique.

Ramielle's embarrassing story was something about a tiny picture going across the street, right? Her Take a Look At Me Now was pretty ordinary. But Simon giggling at Paula made up for it.

Brooke's very interesting take on Love is a Battlefield was the best of the night. I liked it even better on the playback.

Obviously, Syesha didn't hear what I said about stepping away from the Whitney.

Going home? It's hard to tell- it'll probably be one of the blondes not named Brooke, and maybe Ramielle. Or Syesha (mostly because I don't think either Carly or Amanda are going anywhere yet).

And Paula- watching you disintegrate is not entertaining. Get some help. Please.

SKP2008- Jacobean progress

I finished my allotted book knitting and writing early yesterday, so I worked on my SKP2008 Jacobean sock. I am not going to win any prizes for finishing, but I am leaving my comfort zone.
This is a toe-up sock, which I never knit. I didn't try the Magic Cast On (we can do some adapting on this pattern- later in the competition, we have to knit it exactly as written), I just cast on 12 sts and did the increases, and then stitched the toe closed. It looks fine, but next time, I'll give the MCO a try.

I am also not knitting this sock on 2 circs (as suggested in the pattern). I am a confirmed dpn-er, and since I am already out of the running for a prize, and only working on it in dribs and drabs, I saw no reason to slow myself down even further by using an unfamiliar knitting method, but I'm sure I'll have to try it out sometime during this competition.

I am, however, doing the short-row wrap heel described in the pattern. My preferred short-row pattern is a no-wrap style, so this has been an adventure (the instructions are well-written, I just learn new things rather slowly).

I'm working on the heel now, and the cuff should be pretty easy once I get past it. It's a gorgeous pattern, and I love this yarn (gauge: 10 sts=1", 11rnds=1", 2.25mm needles).

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

AI- Top 16 Guys

The men weren't quite as good this week as last, though there were some standouts, and we saw the return of Totally Looped Paula, which is worth the hour, all by itself. The 80's were an iffy decade musically, and we got ample proof tonight.

Luke Menard's voice is thin, and not particularly pleasing, and though he did okay with his Wham-Fest, making us think of George Michael may not have been the best way to go-go (yeah, I had to).

I am becoming more and more enchanted with David Archuleta's voice. I know he's The Chosen One, and I should dislike him on general principle, but I just can't. He's not Taylor. And he's not Clay, but I like him a lot, and his arrangement of Another Day in Paradise was really interesting.

Danny Noriega Sanjayaed himself through Tainted Love, and rendered Paula even more incoherent than she'd been, which was plenty.

David Hernandez has a lovely voice but all I could think about was boogers (and male strippers).

Once again, I am unimpressed with Michael Johns, but I like him better than David Cook, who annoys me just by existing, I guess, though I did chuckle at his take on hard-rocking Lionel Ritchie (and I'm sorry, but I just don't believe that Simon shops for his own carrots).

There is something about Jason Castro- his voice is very interesting (I mean that in a good way), and I got a total Shrek Flashback from his Hallelulia (I mean that in a good way too). If it wasn't that I am pretty certain that they keep a tight reign on the kids' recreational activities, I would bet the farm that he's been sneaking some of Paula's stash.

I'm not sure what I think about Chikezie's song- it wasn't awful, but it wasn't nearly as good as last week's performance.

If I was voting, I'd throw a few to Jason Castro because I'm a little worried about him hanging in there.

Who will probably go home? A combo of Luke Menard, Chikezie, or David Hernandez .

Who should go home? And stay there? Paula
80's song I want to hear most tomorrow night? Walk Like an Egyptian

Monday, March 3, 2008

Confession Time

I may have mentioned that I'm writing a sock knitting book. But what I probably have not mentioned, due to my extreme shame, is that I had avoided learning how to do the Kitchener Stitch, even though I knit socks continually, and have bluffed my way into being paid to write about the subject.

How did I manage that, you ask? I use the Star Toe for nearly all of my socks. The Star Toe is extremely simple (I ususally work with 6 repeats: *K8, K2 tog* etc) and it looks very nice. And there's none of that *grafting together quality* that I found so confusing in other toe styles.

But I figured, since I'm writing a book about it and all, that I should finally learn how to Kitchener. I found a website with instructions (and have since lost the link, but there are many) and good pics, and that walked me through my first try (which came off okay, with only a few tears and only once throwing the needles across the room). But I don't want to finish every single sock sitting at the computer, squinting at the screen.

Enter Girl on the Rocks, and her near-genius stitch markers with the instructions for the Kitchener Stitch right on them. Artistically, these stitch markers are adorable- well made and light (I hate heavy stitch markers), with no sharp or pointy edges to get caught on the needles or yarn. Practically, they're perfect- the #%$@&*! Kitchener Instructions right there in front of me for reference.

I am happy to say that I can now Kitchener right along with the competent sock knitters.

Girl on the Rocks also has other fantastic stitch markers- a set to remind you when to SSK and when to K2Tog (which I also own, though I have less trouble remembering that sequence), and many adorable decorative markers for non-decrease knitting.

The markers are available from:

p.s. don't be alarmed at the $39 price tag in the pic- that's a multiple set for a specific buyer. I think I paid $15 for mine.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

SKP2008- Jacobean Sock

Okay, so the deadline for the Sock Knitting Book is a killer- I need to work every single day on those socks (and the patterns, and the instructions, and the rest of the writing) in order to finish on time.

So what did I do today? I cast on a purely recreational sock. I joined the Sock Knitters Pentathalon- a worldwide competition tied to the Olympics, whereby members get yarn requirements 2 weeks before the start date, and then a sock pattern that has to be knit exactly as written. The first 3 knitters who finish the assigned pair are awarded Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. The rest of us continue behind, cheering, and hoping to finish within two months to avoid elimination.

There will be 5 patterns, sent out at 2-month intervals. The first arrived at midnight March 1. I didn't stay up for the e-mail, but I did download it this morning. And I did happen to buy my yarn a couple of weeks ago (Sunshine Yarns Superwash Merino Sock- Golden Snitch Colorway), and I did just happen to cast on and get a couple of inches knitted. This pattern is a lovely toe-up, textured design, with a short-row heel. It's relatively simple, though I imagine the patterns will become more complex as the competition continues.

I joined, in part, because I really want something I can show on the blog (since I can't post pics of the new sock designs for the book), but mostly because... well... it's 5 new sock patterns. I would not be in the running for a prize even if I wasn't supposed to be working instead- I'm a fast knitter, but there are people out there who knit at light speed. One very quick knitter already has a pair done, with a picture posted. But I feel reasonably certain that I can finish this pair before May 1, and still continue working on the book.

Reasonably certain...
If you're interested in Sunshine Yarns (and if you knit socks, you should be interested):