Saturday, December 31, 2011

What are you doin'?

Now I want them to get married and pop out a dozen adorable, brown-haired, surprisingly-musical babies.

Side note: I've always thought that Joseph Gordon Levitt would be the perfect Odd Thomas.

Happy New Year's Eve All!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thursday Tab- Around the Clock with Peg and Dot

This wonderful book was published in 1943 by Whitman. The scans were shared by a friend who reassembled the partially cut book over photocopies of uncut pages. I love this snapshot of a turbulent time.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

An object lesson

In all of my books, and in all of my classes, and in all of my class handouts, I stress choosing highly contrasting colors for Fair Isle. In order to make sure that your yarns have enough contrast to make the colorwork worthwhile, I suggest scanning your yarns and then turning the scan into b/w in order to check the contrast.  Like so.
See? You can easily tell the difference between the light and dark colors.
 And therefore, there were no nasty surprises when the items were knit.

You'd think I'd remember that, given that it's my own advice, right? Advice, I might add, that I was paid to write, and am paid to teach.
 You might also think that I would take these yarns, which look highly contrasting to the naked eye, and scan them before casting on, right?

If I had done that, I might have noticed that there was really very little contrast between those colors.
 And I would have had plenty of warning
for this...

I should have listened to myself. Sigh.

(and yes, I will take these examples of What Not To Do to all of my classes. It'll be an excellent object lesson).

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

An NaCl Kind of Holiday

So, did you survive?
We had a wonderful, noisy, busy, delicious, love/laughter/family filled Christmas Eve.
 It's not that we like banishing the kids to a different table, it's just that our antique dining room table has no leaves, and can only sit six (maybe eight if we squeeze real tight). So the grownups sat at The Big Table. The centerpiece is a pewter Santa that The Hub smuggled back from Cannon Beach one year after I'd admired it there. He managed to keep it a secret not only on the trip home, but for the months between then and Christmas. It's been our Holiday Centerpiece ever since.

The girls' table was right next to ours (at least they weren't relegated to the basement). Everyone got an ornament, and I love getting out the Christmas Dishes.

The girls were wildly excited, and they absolutely loved their Totem Spindles from Halla, and their American Girl Doll Boots. And for a year in which I had absolutely no gift expectations (we're going to SoCal late in January, that's enough), we made out like bandits.

 The hub got this upside down, inside out, insulated beer glass. It works.
 My youngest sister made me a bracelet and earrings using pennies from 1952, though why she thought that year had anything to do with my year of birth is beyond me. Really, it's just a lovely bracelet featuring a random year. I'm not that old... heh...
 Sorry about the fuzzy pic- but this is a light-up wine stopper. Honest, it pulsates and glows red. I love it!

Several gifts came by mail, and as they arrived, I just put them in their Amazon boxes under the tree, so it wasn't until Christmas morning, after I'd opened the Quick Knits book (edited by my own editor at Taunton) which was a gift from a good friend, that I remembered that I actually ordered the Metal Clay Jewelry book myself. Merry Christmas to me!
Another sister gave me these gorgeous earrings. I can wear wire and dangle and hoop earrings now, and I'm enjoying every bit of the bling.

My friend Jane sent me these wonderful knitting socks. Are you jealous?

And, oh the sodium chloride. The Trader Joe's salt grinders are fantastic (the chili & garlic smoked sea salt is wonderful on leftover turkey). I used gift money to order the Lidded Salt Bowl from The Meadow, in Portland, OR, which is my absolute favorite salt store. Okay, it's the only salt store I know of, but it would be my favorite even if they were on every street corner. The bowl is carved from solid Himalayan Rock Salt, with a lid that fits perfectly. It weighs about 4lbs and it'll be perfect for serving cherry tomato halves, or as a salt cellar, or as a dish for unsalted butter. The two little bottles in front are specialty salts- one made from Oregon Pacific seawater, and the other from Alaskan waters. The Oregon salt is mild and crunchy, the Alaskan salt is wonderfully strong. Who knew that I would end up being a salt connoisseur?

But the best gift of all was the personal calendar that Matt and Cassy made for us. Every month has a picture of our family and friends, many from the wedding in July. Eyes were a little teary, I can tell you.

 And look! I'm a Calendar Girl!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Attention Seasonal Vest Booklet Requesters

Several of you asked for the Seasonal Vest Booklet but neglected to leave your e-mail address in the comments of the original post.  If you asked for the pattern, but have not received it yet, please let me know, and be sure to give me an e-mail address. You can post here or at the original post.

And if you asked for the pattern book and did leave your e-mail address, and still have not gotten the pattern, please let me know. Some requests may have been lost in the shuffle, and at least one e-mail address bounced.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

My wish for you all...

...whatever holiday you celebrate, or if you celebrate none at all, may the hard times be over.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Books and some video

 I know that I said that I was going to read Chrisopher Moore's Fool next (after finishing The Stupidest Angel, which was a hoot- a blend of The Gift of the Magi and George Romero. It's not called A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror for nothing). I started Fool. And I though was enjoying the patented Moore wise-cracking, bawdy narrator, and total goofiness, something felt just a bit off, less joyous than the other stories. I hadn't read any of the reviews, and I'm sorely lacking in my Shakespeare Knowledge, so even though the king's name was Lear, and his daughters were Goneril, Reagan, and Cordelia, it still wasn't until Cordelia was exiled that I caught the drift of the story. Then I read a couple of reviews which said that the book followed the story arc of the play, and so I set it aside. I will read it eventually, and I'm sure I will enjoy it, but I'm just not in the mood for a tragedy at the moment.
 I finished listening to Thuvia, Maid of Mars. Thuvia herself is a McGuffin- she's onstage quite a bit, but only to drive the plot (and all Martian males wild with desire for her). She's no simpering creature, though, and she's not prone to fainting the way Jane Clayton was- toward the end, she shows a prowess for shipboard cannons. But the story is really about Carthoris, son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris, and his journey to rescue the woman he loves. It's a wild adventure, as are all of the Barsoom stories.
 I segued right into The Chessmen of Mars, which features Tara, daughter of John Carter and Dejah Thoris. I've only just started, so she may be McGuffiny as well (given that I'm only on Chapter 3 and she already needs rescuing), but she's a strong character, and I'm liking her. And while Barsoom has lots of weird and creepy creatures, the headless humans with spiders on their shoulders may be the absolute creepiest.

After setting Fool aside, I took up with Graceling, one of Amazon Kindle's Daily Deals, and I'm glad that I did. The story revolves around teenage Katsa, a girl whose different colored eyes signal a Grace, a strange talent. Some Gracelings can cook, others can hold their breaths for long periods, Katsa can kill. She's an unwilling assassin for her uncle, the King, yoked by her unnatural skills and the non-Graceling population's wariness of those with special talents. I'm not very far into the book yet, but I'm totally hooked.

After I finish with the Spider Heads, I think I'm going to give the listening a rest for a bit (I've heard something like 14 Edgar Rice Burroughs books in a row), and do a little watching. I can watch streaming video on my Kindle Fire, which fits perfectly on the little treadmill ledge. I've decided to start with Downton Abbey. I'm pretty sure that'll make exercising a bit less tedious.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A Happy Holiday Gift for you All!

Note: I'm getting the requests sent out right away. If you request a booklet and don't get it within 24 hours, let me know. It may have gotten lost in the shuffle

About 10 years ago, I designed a set of three seasonal Fair Isle vests for Knit Picks, who produced and sold the pattern for years. Eventually, sales dropped enough so that it wasn't worth KP's trouble to keep printing the booklet, so the rights reverted back to me.

As a thank-you to all of you for sticking it out with my blather, I'm making the booklet (in PDF form) available to anyone who asks for it- just leave your e-mail address in the comments, and I'll send the file to you. It's 2.5MB, and there are patterns and charts for V-neck pullover and button-front vests, knit with KP's Palette yarns (though of course, any fingering weight yarn will do, and indeed, some of the original colors may not be available any more). The pattern is sized from Child 24" chest- Adult 52" chest.

For some reason, there is no photo of the Halloween Vest in the booklet, so I'm posting it here. Be warned, the Halloween Vest was once named One of the Ugliest Vests Ever Designed by What Not to Knit, though I absolutely stand by the design. It was not supposed to be beautiful, it was just supposed to be fun. And it could have been even more *fun*, if The Hub had not noticed that my chart looked like I was declaring Boob all the way across the chest. He suggested adding the exclamation point.

At any rate, here are the vests in the booklet. Again, if you want the PDF booklet, post your e-mail address in the comments, and I'll send it out to you.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


I'm nearly done with my shopping (just a few local and online Gift Certs left to buy). It helps that The Hub and I are not giving each other gifts since we're traveling in about a month and that will suffice. Also, I have a sinking feeling that we will be surprise gifting ourselves with a new pressure pump for the well. Sigh.

I'm actually done with my Christmas knitting. Or at least, I'm done with the knitting that has to be done by Christmas. We're celebrating another Holiday in late January in SoCal, and I have to knit a couple of pairs of socks for that, but I have plenty of time (well maybe not plenty, since I'll be in Asheville for nearly a week in the interim, but still... there's no rush right this moment).

All of my packages have been shipped, including this hat.
 I'm not thrilled with the floppy flower, though it really does curl more (and look more symmetrical) than it appears in the photo. I spread it out to show you the lamp work button and bumblebee bead. All of the yarns are handspun.
 I like how this hat turned out. It's knit from leftover self-striping Opal yarn which is easily ten years old, and is at least sort of masculine-looking, something very few of my hats manage. It's already on the way with a shipment of these hats,
which still does not deplete the Hat Surplus in the Big Tub 'o Knitted Things. I love the BToKT.

And we have a new member of our extended family. I was thrilled to finally find a home for this whimsical sweater. I knitted it years ago, confident that the right human being would come along eventually. I'm so glad that she did.

But for the most part, I'm done. Now to sit back and relax... or maybe finish getting my Asheville workshop handouts printed...

Monday, December 19, 2011


Don't tell the girls, but I found some extremely cool boots for their American Girl dolls...
 You may remember that one girl collects Ladybugs, and another collects Bees. The third collects frogs, for which there seems to be no doll-sized boots, but I think she'll be enchanted with the Camo Hiking Boots. BTW, I got the bug boots from A Girl's Treasure, and the Camo boots from eBay.

And while I'd rather set my feet on fire than wear Crocs, these dollie shoes are pretty darn adorable. I found them on eBay as well.

 Over the last few months, I've been gathering charms to match the girls's totems. On Saturday, I sat down for a few hours with jump rings and pliers to assemble the goodies. Each one gets an American Girl necklace, plus...
A necklace for herself (Turtle, Ladybug, Bee, Book, Frog) and earrings. The charm bracelet on the right is for Mom, with each of her girls' totems. And in case you're keeping track, Turtle Girl is not a new member of my extended family, but she now lives nearby, which is wonderful.

All of the above are wrapped and waiting under the tree (and no, the girls don't read my blog) (I hope). We're celebrating a delayed Christmas with Voracious Reader in late January, so she'll get her goodies then.