Tuesday, October 30, 2007

full-on Raveler

Watch out, world. Leah is discovering more features and the joys of Ravelry, where her screen name is cottonhollow.

When we were decluttering the yarn stash the other day, she came across some of her yarn that she likes but didn't have a project in mind for it. (OMG, the horrific sentence structure. Whatever. Need more coffee and maybe a little heat before I'd care.) I suggested that she look on Ravelry for ideas of what some other people have done with it. She was psyched to see that somebody used it for an entrelac scarf, and it works well for entrelac, and entrelac is something she's been wanting to learn!

Then she noticed that she had messages waiting and was excited to see that folks had added her to their friends list.

I gave her a walk-through of how to upload projects into her notebook and she proceeded to add 25 finished objects!

She's already working on a project that she discovered through Ravelry and will be tickled this morning to discover a comment from the designer of one of her projects. Ah, such fun and inspiration for a rabid knitter!
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Monday, October 29, 2007

growing and giving

With very little input from me, the kids put the finishing touches on their Halloween costumes on Friday, then we headed out to help friends move. It was hard work, made so much easier by many helping hands. It was satisfying to see how enthusiastically the kids pitched in and how truly helpful they were able to be, now that they're bigger and stronger and so very capable.

Saturday afternoon and evening were spent volunteering at Old Sturbridge Village's Halloween event, Things That Go Bump In the Night. The forecast was awful, but after the first 20 minutes of heavy rain, the skies cleared and it was a perfect haunted evening. Luckily, it seems that most of the guests were not deterred by that cruddy forecast. Thousands of guests, most in costume (including many adults!), enjoyed a nearly full moon, 1,000 jack-o-lanterns and many torches lighting the village, smiles and shrieks galore. My big kids loved helping to provide a good time for the littler folks and Scott was a big hit as the dancing mummy seen through the fog and the red light in the cider mill.

Leah and I tidied up the yarn stash this weekend and got together a big box to send to the Knitting Ladies group at Interim House in Philadelphia. Lots of leftovers from previous projects, partial to whole skeins, many of which have been gifted to us and others that just aren't likely to be used, for one reason or another. The box is crammed full and ready to go, so we get the double benefit of a cleared out stash and good feelings from being able to help others knit.

While cleaning out, we also came across the Irish Hiking Scarf that Leah knit for charity this spring. Now that the weather is turning cold again, it'll be in the mail to the National World War II Museum's Knit Your Bit program this week.

I cast on this neckwarmer on Thursday afternoon and bound it off Sunday evening. It was my first handspun yarn, from two Grafton Fibers batts. I used the Yarn Harlot's One Row Handspun Scarf stitch pattern. I worked on it during the play Thursday evening and while chatting with Scott's side of the family yesterday afternoon. Because the yarn is bulky, it knit up fast into a super thick fabric. I used almost the whole skein in this neckwarmer scarf, fastened with two of Scott's glass buttons. (They're not a perfect match, but they'll do for now. He hopes to get back to the torch soon, now that the bakery season will be winding down, and I can always replace the buttons later.) It's a little loose on Leah, but it fits me nicely. Because it's so thick, it stays up to keep the full height of my neck warm.

Tonight, in the Halloween spirit, I'll be hanging with the vampires at at apheresis department of the American Red Cross, where they'll take my plasma donation while I enjoy a movie. Scott's a regular donor there too and we joke about it being our spa treatment, our rest and relaxation time.

Whether it's muscle power or Halloween fun or yarn or plasma, we continue to find that the Red Cross is so right on when they say, "Give...all you'll feel is good."
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Friday, October 26, 2007

living and learning

Some things I've learned this week:

1. If a knitted gift is finished early (Ravelry members, look here for an outdated shot), it can be used by the knitter on a chilly, dreary afternoon. This may be considered testing out the merchandise for quality control purposes. Upon item receiving the Knitter's Stamp of Approval, the knitter has time to decide whether to keep the item for herself. :-)

2. If a Parsons Dance guy jumps in the air repeatedly at precisely the same time a strobe light turns on, it looks like he's floating. If he is super duper good at this -- and he was -- it looks effortless to the audience.

3. The Gilbert and Sullivan Society's production of Iolanthe is enchanting in every way, for all ages.

4. Ravelry member + homeschooler + neighbor (relatively) = easy conversation and a great night out. It ends up she remembers me from a homeschooling list waayyyy back, which was a pretty fun surprise.

5. There are 3 Cirque du Soleil shows in cities where we'll be in the next few months. Oh, the temptation!
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Sunday, October 21, 2007

tis the season

This is a quickie because I am Not. At. Rhinebeck. and, even though it makes perfectly good sense for me not to be there, I'm just a wee bit pouty about it. As if I need more yarn and to burn a tank of gas to hang out with sheep. D'oh. Luckily, I can do the same thoroughly irrational things on a smaller (and closer) scale next weekend. :-)

Meanwhile, 'round here there's been sewing of the Halloween costume in time for yesterday's party...
and team weaving of Scott's handspun yarn with friend who was here for a sleepover. This and other similar woven triangles will be made into a shawl for Leah to wear in her role as the...wait for it...weaver in a play she'll be performing next month.
Leah has often asked how I learned to knit. I can't remember the first stitches exactly, but I was under 10 and I'm sure my mom or my Gram taught me. I remember the first things I knit were some little pumpkins.
Zayre's orange acrylic purchased on sale for $0.99/skein, a few garter stitch rows, a few stockinette rows to make the pumpkin sections, sewn up the back, stuffed and gathered top and bottom. Glued-on felt face. I made a bunch of them because they were small projects. See, I didn't know how to fix mistakes, so when I screwed up, I'd just throw it away or tear the whole thing out and start over. It was fun to be at my mom's to celebrate nephew Zach's b'day this week and notice one of those old pumpkins out among the decorations!

And that brings me to the end of today's post because there's a stealth UFO that's about to become a FO!
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

rolling, rolling, rolling

So many things rolling along here, bit by bit -- porch renovation, job evolution, interior redecorating, vacation plans in progress, kidstuff. All good. The knitting and other hobbies fit into the spaces in between, not getting much attention at all, but suddenly, hey, those socks are ready for bind-off!

I don't think of socks as a work-in-progress. I keep 'em simple and always have some on the needles. They're just there -- a pair in the car, a pair in the knitting bag -- waiting to fill some time if the hands aren't busy but the mind is. These are Sockotta yarn, bought way back before I realized that I'm not crazy about its texture. Good 'nuf for growing tootsies.

The stealth knitting project, luckily, also does not require much attention now that it's underway.

Firmly underway. Actually, 2/3 complete! Still loving it, process and product. Pic on Ravelry, where the intended recipient is not a member and cannot peek. Shh! :-) I updated my projects there recently too. And yes, it's wonderfully soft, not nearly as steel wool-ish as it appears in magnified form above. If work on it continues at the present pace, it could be a finished object within a week! Then what? So many options! Eep -- such fun!

Friday, October 12, 2007

on the sly

Guess who managed, completely in secret and on her own, to chart and stitch these hand towels as a gift for our 16th wedding anniversary!

And look what last night's thunderstorm did to the building in which we were married!
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007


I never know where to begin with these blog posts. The blog's focus is on our creative endeavors, so I try to stay fairly close to that theme because the posts would be ridiculously long if I started to describe some of our other activities. But this makes it look like knitting is a major obsession that is overtaking our lives, rather than a hobby we enjoy in small snippets in between and during countless other interests and events and those pesky job things that require some of our attention.

Sometimes you can read between the lines, though, and maybe know that the charity knitting happened with a group at a Revolutionary War Reenactment.

Socks were worked on at a farm's open house event, and the stealth knitting got shown off at a big annual party hosted by friends from high school.

(I'd put up a pic of Jesse enjoying this party too, but it's awfully hard to get a good shot of a kid who's trampolining for hours on end.)

My mom put the finishing touches on a baby sweater for a friend's new daughter while we were enjoying a jazz concert after touring a spectacularly renovated house-turned-B&B.

But today there's awesome potential job evolution in the air and I'm feeling a little too twitchy and excited to type, so I'll finish what I need to for the day and maybe let the knitting take priority for the afternoon while I hopefully reach midpoint on the stealth project and mull over the possibilities.
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Saturday, October 06, 2007


I arrived home from a big work week late on Friday afternoon, tired but still with some work ahead of me, very much looking forward to recharging my batteries with a quiet evening at home. See, there's been an abundance of work available lately so, being a one-person operation and mostly responsible for supporting my family, I need to make hay while the sun shines. I was greeted by excited children who Could Not Wait to show me a surprise. This is the bounty they presented to me...

They weren't even sure what some of the items are, but when my mother-in-law stopped by this afternoon and brought a box of knitterly things from the estate of a friend who recently passed away, everybody here knew I'd be psyched. And I am! I don't use straight needles much, but am happy to have a stash of them to provide pair by pair to folks when we help them take their first stitches. There are tiny crochet hooks, steel sock needles, dollmaking needles, and hairpin lace sets (looms? U's?). I've never made hairpin lace, but always been curious about it, so maybe the time has come to give it a try. This led to discussion of broomstick lace, which is something one of my grandmas used to do and another thing I've always wanted to figure out. Even though my experience is that wrangling the steel cables of old circular knitting needles can sometimes be a challenge, as they seem to have a mind of their own, I get a kick out of the Mary Lamb envelopes they came in and have strained to see the date on the PAID stamp on the back of one of the envelopes. We can only see the tops of the numbers, but have narrowed it down to the 19-teens. I'll probably use those needles for a project just because they're pushing 100 years old.

Coolest little find in that stash is the baggie of these plastic row counters. The back layer of plastic has holes so you can pin them to your work. There never seem to be enough row counters around here and I've never seen any like this, so I'm tickled to have them. Easily amused? You bet.

After a few more hours of work at home to tackle what had been pushed aside during this week's work in a client's office, we had a family meeting to narrow down the bounty of great things to do this weekend, then I settled in for some work on my current stealth knitting project. I can't post a pic here because it's a gift for a reader of this blog, but I thought of a way to blog about it and still be sneaky. If you would like to see a picture and you are not my mother, send an email to livnletlrn at gmail dot com and I'll send you a link to it. I've learned new techniques with this project and am ga-ga over the results. And if I like it in its current state, I can only imagine how much more I'll like it when it's blocked flat and the finishing embellishments are added. Luckily, it's moving along quickly, so hopefully I won't have to wait long for the finished product. But my mom might. >:-)

Friday, October 05, 2007

news flash

Hey, remember when we were hanging with the alpacas last weekend? Look whose name popped up in the Reminder News today!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

metamorphosis in progress

The ugly duckling brown blob of knitting that was scrunched up on two circular needles
is currently undergoing a lacy metamorphosis.

Hemlock Ring Blanket, bound off on round 121, 53" diameter, nearly 2 skeins of Cascade Ecowool used. I soaked it last night, spun and pinned it this morning.

Each member of my family, upon seeing the transformation in progress, reacted with an expression of astonishment and admiration. Them's good knitfam peeps. :-)

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Monday, October 01, 2007

an alpacatlatl kind of weekend

This time last year, we were on a Time and Space Romp , enjoying all sorts of interesting events. The calendar this month is similarly filled with so many incredibly good options that it's difficult to decide which things we'll make it to and which we'll have to let slide.

Leah and I and one of Leah's fiber addict friends spent much of Saturday in the company of adorable fuzzyfaces like this critter at Burgis Brook Alpacas, doing a spinning demo as part of National Alpaca Farm Days.

Since the farm is in eastern CT and Scott and Jesse were heading further east to Rhode Island, they dropped us off and continued to the New England Wireless and Steam Museum's Yankee Steam-Up.

The contraptions and enthusiasm at this kind of thing are as heavenly for my mechanically-inclined guys as a day at a fiber event is for the other half of our family.

When Scott and Jesse arrived back at the alpaca farm, we were hopping to keep up with the many visitors who wanted to learn to spin on our wheels and drop spindles. Since both guys have done their fair share of spinning, they pitched in as mentors for some of the guests.

We stopped at the Atlatl Day and Knap-In in Storrs on the way home. Jesse has always been interested in primitive technology skills and that's why we started going to these events, but it's another one of those things that we all enjoy. And since we've been going to these kinds of events (steam, fiber, primitive, etc.) for a few years now, we're consistently recognizing and being recognized by others who share the interests.

Stopped home to restock the cooler and head out for Pipes In the Valley, the Celtic music festival at Riverfront Park in Hartford. We had such a fantastic time at this event last year that we didn't want to miss it this year, even if we could go for just a couple of hours. We ran into more friends within minutes of arriving and enjoyed the evening in a beautiful location with live Celtic music and an equally lively crowd. Whew!

Sunday? A day of rest and recovery.

In this crazy old house, resting means cranking up the good tunes and trying something new, like learning to build a brick foundation. :-)

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