Monday, November 20, 2006

My life in pictures

Okay, so not really my whole life, but a good chunk of the past two months. For example, the hubbo's parents came for a visit. We took them up in the CN Tower, where we discovered that although most adults get the willies from standing on the glass floor, my son can't get enough:
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For those of you who don't know, this is what he's looking at:
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Then, came pumpkins and more pumpkins.
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Oh, and the boy's favorite new word is "pumpkin", which you can hear about twenty times a day. Usually referring to pumpkin shaped objects, but occasionally referring to Christmas lights, smiley faces, or rotund cartoon characters.

I also discovered that Canadians have a real knack for sophisticated phrasing on signs. Well, at least this one.
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Oh, and then there was this tiny man who could lift a car with his pinky, who insisted on traipsing around the neighborhood in a cape and asking complete strangers for candy.
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He then took off on his tiny supersonic vehicle.

Oh, and he told me to let you know that Superman is soon to get a little brother or sister. Sometime in April. Don't tell Lex Luthor.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Okay, yeah, supposed to add blog entries, right....

Sorry about the long silence (again!). Don't know what is up with me. Okay, that's a lie. I know exactly what's up. I'm doing other things. I really don't know how people can have full time jobs, three kids, and still keep up with their blogs every freaking day. It takes me so long to think of something to blog about, I usually give up.

Anyway, in the works right now, I FINISHED my NOVEL. That's right. Well, the first draft anyway. Finally. It's only taken me, oh, FIVE YEARS. That's just sad. So all writing energy recently has been funneled into editing and revising, a process I've never had to do on something so, well, long. I have resorted to reading a book called "Revising your Fiction", since I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. It has actually been really helpful, even if the examples aren't always. I mean, I respect F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, but what I've written ain't exactly Gatsby, you know what I mean? It's a fantasy novel. Not exactly Great American Novel material. Not that a fantasy novel can't be that. Just not this one. But the advice has worked very well so far. Extraneous words are being excised with abandon. Passive voice abolished. Narrative structure reaarranged. All so that I can get my husband off my back about this and move onto something new.

He thinks it is publishable. I think he's cracked. I have a very good friend who has written two fantasy novels that I have read for her. She is an amazing writer. Her books are both wonderfully written and quick to read. She remains unpublished, even after having an agent for a short while. So I prefer to be realistic about my chances.

In knitting news, I finished something a while ago, took pictures, and never blogged it. So here it is, for the first time ever, the Canteen bag!
Canteen Bag--close up
Isn't she a beaut? I've actually been using it as a purse for a while. The pattern is from Interweave Knits, the yarns are Merino Style from Knit Picks, and Lion Brand Landscapes, and it was felted in a front loader. Ta da! I loved making this, even if the knitting was "Extreme Knitting". I think I finished it in two days, and then spent a week recovering. My shoulders hurt so bad I couldn't turn my head. I don't know what I was thinking.
Canteen Bag--side
I even lined this bag, which turned out all right, even though I made the lining from old jeans, so the purse weighs six tons. I've had to tie a knot in the strap because it has stretched so much. It seems to be stable now though.
Canteen Bag
So that's that, update about my accomplishments. And yes, someday I will actually post photos of my new house.

Just not today.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I'm here! I'm back! I'm not dead!

Hey there, of you. One Blue Tree is back in business. I can't even begin to tell you how stressful the past couple of months have been, but they are over now. Thank goodness. We are now firmly ensconced in our new semi-detached in Markham, Ontario. It has taken an incredibly large amount of spray cleaner and cardboard box removal, but it is starting to feel like our house. Wait, I hear you cry, last time we heard you were planning a move! How is it that you are now moved and we have heard nothing? I have a great answer for you. I...just haven't written anything. I know. Incredible. But here is a short synopsis, with approximate dates:

May 20thish...House hunting trip. Originally planning to rent, we spend four days looking at lease properties. The final day, our real estate agent convinces us to look at houses to buy. We make an offer. It doesn't go through. We resign ourselves to living in a hotel for a month once we get there until we find something. Meanwhile, our amazing American real estate agent sells our house in two weeks for full asking price with no hitches. We think this means the rest of our move with be problemlos, as they say in Germany.

May 21stish....We make an offer on another property we saw the day previously. We get it. Mild panic.

May twenty-somethingish....Packing people come three days before we were expecting. Medium panic. Much garbage and unneeded crap is subsequently wrapped carefully in paper and placed in large, unhelpfully labeled boxes, like "Living Room--Misc." The woman coordinating our move will soon prove to be incredibly unhelpful and incompetent. Ah well.

May 27thish....We drive to my ma's for a little r and r before the final push to Toronto. This comes after three days of living in a house full of boxes, and packing the car to the roof with all the stuff left over after the boxes were finally removed. Once again, I am shocked at how incredibly long it takes to empty a house, even when trained professionals do the big stuff. Each subsequent bag of crap placed in the car takes a little piece of my soul with it until I am a raving lunatic leaving half empty detergent bottles as "presents" for the new owners, just so I don't have to walk to the car one more damn time.

May 31st...The drive to Toronto. Goes relatively smoothly. Immigration takes an hour. Immigration agent lady causes heart palpitations by repeatedly muttering things like "Well that doesn't make sense!" and "This can NOT be right," before telling us not to listen to her, and that everything is fine, only it's been prepared by a lawyer and so is completely unreadable. We understand completely.

June 1st...Henning's first day of work. My first day of living in a luxury downtown hotel, complete with spa-quality shampoos and, my favorite, complimentary incense service and delivery of healing stones to put under your pillow. Not as fun as you might think, seeing as how I am accompanied by a 17 month old and a dog. I would have preferred complimentary diapering service.

June 3rd...I get the heck out of town to visit my (very pregnant) college roommate in Napanee. Anything to get away from my zen inspired, incense stinking hotel suite is an improvement, but the three days I spend in Napanee are incredibly wonderful, and I love my college roommate with a deep and abiding love for her hospitality and patience with dog and baby and me invading her idyllic country retreat. Thank you a million times over, Julie! Just remember, don't catch the knife.

June 7th...Closing. Hot, spicy panic. I won't go into it, just know that we had to write an additional check we didn't know we were going to have to write, in order to finally get the keys for a house we had only seen once a month ago. Terrifying? Yes. Definitely. Absolutely. With keys finally in hand, I troop off to our new home.

June 8th...How, oh how could someone leave their house like this? Did they think cat poop in the basement would be a nice present to leave? Rotting food in the deep freezer? The roll out garbage can full of mold and covered in cigarette ash? The spilled...something on the carpet in the bedroom? I am generally not an anal person, but I was down on my knees with a scrubber for about twenty four hours straight. We rented a carpet cleaner, and after my husband shampooed every single square inch of carpet, the house began to smell like...nothing, which was an improvement of gargantuan proportions.

June 9th...Boxes, boxes, more boxes, some furniture, and a few more boxes are finally delivered. (Do I need to go into the details about how our closing was originally on the 9th, until the moving company told us the furniture would be here by the seventh, so we moved the closing to the seventh, only to have the moving company tell us, oh, wait, the furniture won't be there until the ninth? Do I? No? Thank you.)

June 10th to the present....Unpacking. Painting. More unpacking. Hanging things. Enjoying our new awesome neighborhood full of children Gavin's age. My Ma came last weekend, and the final boxes still located in the middle of our living space were emptied, and we painted my shit-brown bedroom a very soothing blue. The original color of our bedroom inspired some hilarity, when I commented how paint colors are always named pleasant sounding things. "Beach House". "Coffee with Cream". "Sunrise". I suggested naming paint colors after what they actually resemble, in which case my bedroom was painted in "Runny Stool". Our powder room? "Wet Newspaper". The room which was to be the boy's room? "Pepto and Robitussin".

Anyway, that is the saga of our second international move in three years. So now I live in Canada. Crazy, eh?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The Good News... that we are MOVING to TORONTO. Yes, we are finally up and skidaddling (sp?) from the heat of the south, and going back to the north. My hubbo wanted to move to Canada from the start (we moved here from Germany) and now we actually get to. I am also excited since my very good friend and roommate from college lives in Napanee, Ontario, so I will actually get to see her more than once every four years.

The Bad News? We are MOVING. To TORONTO. Anyone who has ever moved, and especially moved to another country, knows what I mean. At least this time there is no trans-atlantic voyage involved. But the selling of the house is what is currently filling our days and nights. We have been furiously (and I mean furiously, as in, yelling and screaming) renovating the bathroom, which has been plagued by mistakes, miscalculations, goofy non-standard building practices of the early 80s, and lots of spackle. Loads. Gallons, maybe. The wallpaper removal might actually turn out to be the highlight of this whole exercise. And that is after I decided that people who put up wallpaper DESPISE other people. I mean that. I felt the hate with every square milimeter of paper I scraped from the wall.

But hey, it's gone now! Yay!

As for the rest of it? I don't want to talk about it.

No, really.

Oh, all right, if you really must know.

1. scraping of wallpaper left many gouges in unprimed wallboard.
2. sink, once removed and destroyed, could not be replaced with appropriate size due to undercabinet drawers.
3. builders of house put holes in walls in order to fit standard sink. appropriate coverings of said holes were sold out of local Lowe's
4. ill-advised silicone "fix" for separating cieling made for bad paint job.
5. self-proclaimed "wallpaper hater" sara of one blue tree must install wallpaper border to cover bad paint job.
6. renovating couple waiting for sixth shoe to drop. can you actually have more than two shoes dropping?

There you go. Read 'em and weep.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Bikers and Bunnies and Bubbles, oh my!

I spent a good part of my Sunday attempting to strip wallpaper in our guest bathroom, an exercise which has so far proven more frustrating than fruitful. I just hate how you have to get the timing exactly right or you're screwed. Spray remover, wait fifteen minutes, scrape. Wait too long, it dries out, don't wait long enough, paper doesn't come off. So my wonderful plan of spraying the entire wall slowly, then scraping, so that I always came to the next section after 15 minutes would have worked great, if it hadn't taken me a half an hour to scrape one freakin' section. Argh. Frustration.

So imagine my delight at being diverted from this torture at noticing an inordinately large number of motorcycles parked in front of my house. And also imagine me not noticing them until I looked out a window. Seriously, these must have been the nicest bikers, ever. The boy was down for his nap and didn't let out a peep.
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My next door neighbor lady, who seems as mild mannered and suburban a mom as you can possibly get, has a big ol' hog. I knew this already. However, knowing that she occasionally rides her 'bike and having an entire biker gang camped in the street are two entirely different things. And I'm not complaining! I actually thought it was kind of cool, and as I said, they were super nice and didn't do any of that revving of motors that makes me despise other sorts of motorcycle enthusiasts. And look how pretty the bikes are, shining in the sun.
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There were about twenty bikes out there, eight alone in front of my house. When they took off again, it was like a parade, I swear. Well, a parade of one. I think I was the only neighbor watching. Probably everyone else was cowering inside in abject terror.

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Here's a nice springy shot of my kitchen, with man and boy. The strange floating bunnies are actually a mobile I made. I copied it from one I found online, because I desperately wanted it, but it was made of paper, and I wanted one that would last in a house with a toddler. (So yes, it is technically a copywrite violation, but I ain't selling it, so no harm done.) I made this one of craft foam, and it has been entertaining us all very well. Mobiles are fascinating, because they never stop moving. And you can blow a puff of air from across the room, and they will react a minute later. Amazing.

Also amazing are these. Zubbles. Read all about their invention and their inventor here. Took the poor guy ten years. Yikes.

And look at these guys. Aren't I the luckiest girl in the world?
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Ta for now.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Links, Links, Links! ( and then maybe some more links....)

Okay, first up in the smorgasbord o' links (multicultural, ain't I?) are craft blogs I visit but do not have in my blog list to the right. Why don't I have them there? Don't laugh, but it's because I like to visit them infrequently so that I can read a whole bunch of new stuff at once, and I use my own blog as a reference for sites I go to every day. Dorky, eh? This should probably change, since a few of the blogs I go to I can only get to by going through certain other blogs, and it gets kinda confusing. I should just put them all in the list at the right, but then where's the adventure?

First up, the aforementioned Loobylu. Then there's Wee Wonderfuls, Angry Chicken, A Bird in the Hand, and Little Birds. Finally, my two new favorites, Whip Up and Thrift Craft. Whip Up is a collaborative craft blog that is, as Kay of masondixonknitting put so perfectly, a rabbit hole.

Need some cool free knitting patterns? There are always Knitty and Magknits, of course, but have you seen Hello Yarn? (I must make the skull cap) How about The Garter Belt? Most of the Garter Belt's patterns are for sale, but look like they are truly worth it. I picked out seven or eight things I'd like to make. Also worth seeing? See Eunny Knit! Great tutorials and lovely patterns.

Next, funnies I have found, such as You Knit What???, which you could call the Gallery of Regrettable Knitwear. Hilarious, sarcastic, occasionally mean, and totally horrific. I spent all day yesterday going through the archives. Also, have you seen the Lego Death Star? I might need to get one to go alongside my 3D puzzle Millenium Falcon. (I think the comments on this guy's photos are hysterical. Make sure you read the titles of the photos first, or you might get confused.)

Oh, and now I MUST OWN EVERYTHING THIS COMPANY PRODUCES. LIKE THIS, AND THIS, AND THIS. Unfortunately, they don't do retail sales from their site, and the sites they have listed don't actually sell all of their products. Something that MUST BE REMEDIED AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. I'M NOT KIDDING. So, somebody get on that, 'K?

Finally, if you like movies, read this guy's blog. Always interesting, always informative.

All right, that's all for now. Sorry if you visited everything I just listed and completely wasted your entire day. Think of it as "creative research". Bye for now!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Best Craft Blog?!?

Okay, I wasn't really paying that much attention to the Bloggies (awards for Blogs, naturally) but when I found out that the Best Craft Blog winner was this, I was a little shocked. I mean, come on. Sure, they make stuff, but I'm sorry, a home made arc welder? Revamping an NES to make it look like a PS2?!? Do these strike anyone as a little, ahem, male? I hate to cry sexism in this day and age, but look at the other blogs nominated: Loobylu, NotMartha, Yarn Harlot, and Angry Chicken. All brilliant, all worthy. And all of the softer, female craft variety. Were the only people to vote teenage boys? I can admit that Yarn Harlot tends to stick to knitting and spinning, but NotMartha is an equal opportunity craft site. One that I constantly visit, incidentally. Okay, admittedly, the winner does have a "Make your own sextant" link, but I really don't think I will be making a sextant anytime soon. And it just doesn't seem very craft-y to me. Maybe I need to look up "craft" in the dictionary...

Okay, so by definition, craft is "to make by hand" so I guess it qualifies. I just find it annoying that the other sites make by hand, and beautify, and this site makes by hand to have nifty gadgets. Could just be a personality conflict, I guess.

edited to add: Hey, Loobylu won for best Australian weblog! That's at least a bit of a relief.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Okay, I might be a little crazy

I love Easter. It's not that I'm some super christian or anything. In fact, you could say I am the dreaded A word. But I love Easter.

It's probably just that celebration of spring thing. And the bunnies. There is nothing I like better than a stuffed bunny at easter. We got one every year when I was a child. And there is something about filling your house with bunnies and candy and bunnies that appeals to me.

That is probably why I bought all of this.
Silly stuff
I think one of the main reasons I had a child was so that I could feel less guilty about buying this kind of stuff. But come on! How could I resist? How could anyone resist the...
Silly stuff
Bunny Paratroopers, for example? Oh, they work great, by the way.

And how about the...
Silly stuff
Tower of Bunnies? Could you really truly walk by this at the grocery store, and not covet it? I know I couldn't. My favorite part is the little bit of text on the upper right, "Fun for Everybunny!" Everybunny! I love that shit!

And finally, in a gesture to a family story that always seems to come up when you get two or three of my cousins together, we have the...
Silly stuff
Duckie Sunglasses.

Okay, so there isn't much knitting content today. In fact, we might just not mention how INCREDIBLY LONG IT TAKES TO KNIT A %#@^& SOCK.

Instead, more pictures of my camelias.
More Flowers
More Flowers
and once more, after the rain:
More Flowers


Saturday, March 11, 2006

Spring, Sprang, Sprung

My camelia bushes are currently glorious, which makes me feel better about the fast approaching hell that is summer around here. (it could be that we move to a somewhat cooler climate, soon, but deals are still underway)

So here are some pictures of my new favorite flowers. These are camelias, right?

First, a white one:
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And a pink one:
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The pink bush:
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Now wait a minute. What's that?
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There. In the bush. I can almost see it....
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Oh! It's my Bay Window Bear! I could hardly see him, what with his green and fuschia shirt. Yes, I knit a bear for a nice little charity that gives handknit bears to orphans in Jamaica. The free pattern(link to pdf) made for a cute little bear, but the original is supposed to be wearing a sweater and a scarf. In Jamaica?!? I don't think so. So my little guy is keeping cool in a short sleeved t-shirt.
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Now he just needs a shoebox and some postage. Wouldn't it be great if we could travel to Jamaica like that?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Magic Loop!

Oh, Magic Loop, how I love thee. Most of the time, anyway. I have started trying, once again, to knit socks, despite my better instincts. It's not that I don't like socks, per se, or that I think handknit socks are pointless and time consuming. I like handknit socks. What I hate, most egregiously, are those damn tiny dps.

Now, you have to know a little about me. I am 6 feet tall, and I have exceedingly large bones. That is NOT a euphemistically kind way of saying that I am fat. I have really big hands, so big that a friend of mine (a friend, mind you) compared them to hams. And he was a man. I play the double bass, after trying the violin and cello and finding them way too delicate. So, hands, big. Is it any wonder that I feel like a giant trying to reassemble a broken birdhouse constructed of toothpicks when I attempt a sock?

Now, I have made a pair of socks. One pair, for my mama, from 6 strand Regia. Those were ok. The needles were large enough that I didn't feel like I would rather stab one of those tiny, pointy little needles in my eye rather than juggle those damn things in my hands for one more freaking round. And I made another sock, from the regular 4 strand Regia. See?
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The problem is this. I figured, in my early knitting days, that if I just used a slightly bigger needle than was called for, the number of cast on stitches would go down, and I wouldn't have to spend quite so much time making the thing. So what I made, basically, is a completely unwearable sock. The stitches are so loose that you feel like you have just slipped chain mail made of dog hair onto your foot. So this sock remains just this. A lone sock, never to have his trusty sock mate. Just imagine how lonely.

So what possessed me to start a Jaywalker sock on size 0 dps? I dunno. I guess I just got tired of reading, on other knitting blogs, how much they loved knitting socks. And I found some Regia in Germany that I liked the color of. So I cast on for the bigger size.

All those who have made Jaywalkers can spot the problem here immediately. The pattern calls for size 1 needles. I wanted to make wearable socks, this time, and was scared off by the larger needles, and figured my gauge would be a little larger anyway. So I used the 0s. No, I didn't swatch. If I swatched, there would be no story, and who wants that?

The first two inches were nightmarish, annoying, frustrating. And beautiful. I kept stopping every row or two to admire it. I showed my husband the two inches of sock with pride, and he dutifully agreed that it was the loveliest sock he had ever seen. I kept my weeping over the dps to myself. I never let on that each needle I traversed felt like a mountain scaled, only to fall back to the bottom again as I reached the next, a Sisyphean task. I cursed Continental style as being a method only useful for long stretches of ribbing on sweaters, and completely useless on dps for a sock.

That nagging voice at the back of my mind? The one that kept whispering that the sock looked awfully small, especially for such a large boned gal as I? I ignored it for as long as I could, finally succumbing to its seductive pull only after researching Magic Loop online. I could try this, I thought, but what size needle to buy? I had to check the size of the sock. I slipped it on some scrap yarn, and slipped it on my foot. It stopped right at my heel. It was never going to fit over it.

So, rather than add eight stitches to the cast on number, something that caused me to feel a little queasy, I decided to use the called for needle size, and try Magic Loop. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's a way to knit socks on one long long circular needle, preferrably an Addi Turbo. Google it, there are plenty of online tutorials.

And I have to tell you, I love Magic Loop. It is so much faster than dps, so much easier, and once you have the hang, feels nearly the same as knitting flat.

Magic %$#@& Loop!

Then, the Incident. The Incident involved much cursing, crying, hyperventilating, and, eventually, the use of one of those tiny crochet hooks from Oma. You see, one bad thing about Magic Loop is, well, the Loop. The Loop likes to swallow your working yarn when you set your work down. The Loop is ever hungry. The Loop is a nemesis worthy of the capital letter. So last night, I picked up my second attempt at a sock, and tried to arrange it so I could start on the next round. Huh, that's funny, I thought. The yarn is looped around the Loop. So I juggled the Loop and the needle points around to free the working yarn. And somehow, it was now double looped. Hmmmmm, I thought, that's odd. I pushed the needles through the Loop, and straightened things out. Triple looped. Hysterical laughter started to rise from my belly, but I pushed it down. I can fix this, I thought. I have always been able to untangle xmas lights, rope, extension cords, I can certainly untangle one strand of yarn. I examined the loops carefully. I followed the path of the yarn with my needle points. I pushed them once more through the Loop. I straightened things out, sure everything would be okay. Quadruple looped. At this point, the panicked hyperventilating began. It only stopped when I realized I just had to knit to the other side of the sock, and slip the loops off the needle point. Oh ho ho, silly me, I thought, and merrily knit my way across. I discovered half way that I didn't have enough stitches between pattern stitches. There were seven rather than eight. Ruh Roh. I had dropped a stitch TWO ROWS BACK right at the increases. So then there was much cursing and use of the aforementioned crochet hook on the dropped stitch and the two others I dropped as I was trying to get everything back on the needles in the right order.

Exceedinly long story short, I am back on track. We'll just have to see if this sock ends up a bachelor, or one half of a commited relationship. Right now, I'm not even sure if he will ever be able to walk. Just gonna have to take it one day at a time

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Here, the lovely Jaywalker sock begun. On the right, too small version done on size 0 dps. On the left, just right version done Magic Loop style.

Edited to add: Just one more thing! Found the craziest thing, today. Check this out. Click on the little flock of sheep on the right for a knitted object I now desperately covet. What size needles would you call those? 100?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Oma's Sewing Box

Okay, the Oma news just goes on and on. While I was in Germany, my hubby rummaged around in Oma's sewing box for me, to find any knitting needles that hadn't been purged by his mother. He only found some rather decrepit steel dps, which I declined to take. However, there were further treasures to be discovered, which I only found when I decided to take a peek in ye old sewing box myself, when I was on a search for a yarn needle.

First, an overview of some oddments:
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They are, clockwise from top, some Regia and Woleza reinforcing yarn for socks, black elastic thread, two packages of Prym hooks and eyes, Inox plastic crochet hooks, teeny tiny wooden crochet hooks, a sewing rolly thingamajiggy (does anyone know what those are called? it's the black thing lower left), and five small pearlescent buttons. The wooden crochet hooks are the craziest things I have ever seen. You can barely see the hook at the end on a couple of them. Oh, and the big wooden stick? Actually hides the smallest rug hooking hook I have ever seen in my life. What in the world could you make with such a thing?

But the best is yet to come.

First, some more buttons:
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The big white ones in the upper left are beautiful mother of pearl, an inch and a half across. The ones just to their right are also mother of pearl, as are the small six sided ones below. The two yellowish ones to the left look like bone to me, but I don't really know. The green Art Deco thing to the right is actually a clasp. Would look great on a capelet. There are various other singles on the lower right, and when I get a chance, I will photograph them so you can see just how incredible they are. I can't believe I just used the word "incredible" to label buttons, but there you go. I'm going insane.

Finally, the find of all finds:
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These are copper monogram plates. I don't know what else to call them. They were in a little paper envelope, with another little envelope holding a piece of blue tint. You tint the monogram onto your fabric, and then you can embroider it. Why oh why don't they make things like this anymore? Now it's all computer files and sewing machines that embroider for you. I am so glad I have these, as memories of my husband's grandparents. I am thinking I'll make a shadow box with these, and probably some of those wooden crochet hooks. Not sure, though. Ideas?

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Oma Ernst and the Buergermeister

Well, I am back from the wilds of Koenigsbach-Stein in Germany. I missed pretty much all of the rest of the Olympics, knitting and otherwise, and yet I have a victory to report.

This trip was mostly to visit my husband's Grandmother, Margarethe Ernst, who turned 95 last wednesday. Our visit was a surprise for her, and when we walked into the kitchen in my in-law's house and said hello, she was totally shocked. I was a little afraid for her heart, to tell you the truth, but she managed just fine.

Then, the mayor came to visit.
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He was a very nice man, and he and a lady from the newspaper got Oma to tell a little of her life story. This is always compelling, as she survived the fire bombing of Dresden in WWII. And, despite her 95 years, her mind is still clear. Her memory does occasionally have to be jogged, but not nearly as much as you might think.

The party was lovely. Many of Oma's relatives and old friends came, and she had a wonderful time. I, however, had to disappear upstairs a couple of times. The German style of having a party is to start at, oh, say, eleven o'clock in the morning. Nice, a brunch, you might think. Yes, but then everybody stays until about 4 pm, when you have coffee and cake. Not so bad, you might be saying, everybody loves cake. Ah, but then people stay until 7 pm when dinner is served. Okee dokey, I hear you thinking, this does go on a bit, doesn't it? So a party which, in the US might last a few hours, takes ALL FREAKING DAY. And that's a little too much German language speaking for me. Makes my brain hurt.

What about the victory? Never fear, for here it is!
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One hat and scarf, knit for Oma Ernst in two days from one Big Ball of Schoeller Stahl. Big Ball is the name of the yarn, and they aren't kidding. It is about a foot across. 7 stitches to 4 inches, size 12mm needles. I didn't have a pattern, so I really winged it with the hat. I knew Oma's head was pretty small, so I planned on a 20 inch circ hat. I finished it once, held it up to the back of her head when she wasn't paying attention to check the size, and knew it was going to be too short. I checked the (scarily little) amount of yarn I had left, and calculated that I could add about 4 rows to the straight part of the hat, and ripped back. Oh, those last few rows were frightening, let me tell you. And yet, the magic Olympic Spirit was with me.

This was how much I had left.
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Alles Gute zum 95th Geburtstag, Oma.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy V.D., Everybody!*

Despite having the world's worst head cold and/or flu, and having to completely clean my house, do my laundry, and pack for a trip to Germany, I thought I would update my blog to talk about CHEEK. As in Joey Cheek. As in the cutest little gold medalist speed skater ever! And he's from North Carolina! Ok, I really only live in North Carolina, and am not really from here, but still the stately pride swells in my bosom. I about had heart palpitations last night watching the men's 500 meter race. I was chanting "Go Joey, go Joey, don't fall, don't fall," over and over. And the voodoo must have worked. Yaaaaay!! Oh, and he's giving his 25K bonus to a children's relief charity in Africa. Be still my heart.

Other than that, yes, going to Germany. Tomorrow. Ugh. Not the Germany part, the "going" part, which of course involves plane travel, which I already can't stand, and also plane travel with a one year old who can walk, which I think might have to involve some kind of muscle relaxant for Mama. Or maybe just a forced zen feeling. Repetitive chanting of "Calm, cool, collected," maybe. Perhaps some discreet incense burning. Ok, maybe not that last one. Hopefully, the boy will sleep, but of course since he's a lap child, if he sleeps it will have to be atop one of us, which is always fun in an already cramped airline seat. I guess I should be glad that we didn't have to pay for a ticket for him. And maybe the plane won't be too full.

Ok, now I've jinxed it. Better stop talking before I say something like "and we will leave on time, arrive early, have no lines through customs or immigration, and no one will be smoking in the Frankfurt airport."

Shoot, I just did. That smoking thing is, of course, a total fantasy, so perhaps that will negate the jinx. Can you jinx a jinx? Can you tell I've had too much cold medicine?

*my high school english teacher always said this. gotta love high school english teachers.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I didn't qualify....

The Olympics start soon, and I wish I could be a part. No, not the Winter Olympics. The Knitting Olympics. This crazy brainchild of the Harlot is beginning with the opening ceremonies, and ending with the closing ceremonies (yes, of the other olympics). I, however, will be in Germany for the majority of this time, and I recently sprained my wrist so I shouldn't push it with the knitting, and I have a one year old child who takes entirely too much time away from insane pursuits like trying to knit a sweater in two weeks.

But man, oh man, I wish I could join the team.

I do have pictures, finally, of the earlier blogged Panta and Cabled Newsboy Cap (from S n' B Nation). First, the Panta, in the traditional "reflected in mirror" shot:

Next, the Cap, photographed by my hubby, modeled my me.
4 great iPhotos
4 great iPhotos

I should probably get a shot of the top of the hat, because the decreasing and the cables look verrrry nice. The Cap was an interesting adventure. My yarn gauge was slightly tighter, and I have a gigantic pumpkin head, so I had to mess with the pattern quite a bit. This resulted in MATH being done, which is always an iffy thing with me. I thought I had it down, thought I was a genius, until I got to the main part of the cap and realized I very much wasn't. I've thrown away my notes, or I could be more specific. Let's just say much cursing was involved. Oh, I almost forgot about the cast on! I managed to, for the first time ever, twist my stitches before joining in the round. I have never done this, because I always check. ALWAYS. Except for this time. So let's just say, after having already cast on, knit an inch of ribbing, realized what I was knitting resembled a transdimensional loop, frogged, re-cast on, knit another inch of ribbing, realized that the MATH had screwed me over, I was not willing to frog again. So I just placed a few strategic increases and voila! Cool hat.

Okay, not really a voila! moment. But definitely a cool hat.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Silent Poetry Reading

Well, here, for better or worse, is my contribution to the Silent Online Poetry Reading, read about on Creating Text(iles), inspired by Grace's Poppies. This a poem I wrote a few years ago, that I have been editing like crazy the past half an hour. I was going to put up a Billy Collins poem, but I couldn't decide on a favorite. So, in spite of the danger of appearing incredibly narcissistic, here's something of my own. Nobody other than myself has ever read this, so we'll see how it goes down (I know my ma will have something to say.)

Could Just Be Crows

I sit here, so far from the ocean,
yet I'm sure I can hear the surf,
sure I can hear gulls,
calling madly to one another.

The only explanation must be
the earth, tilted on its axis,
spilling salt water into landlocked cities.

Or is it just the wind? And crows calling?

Doesn't matter, I can feel it anyway,
Feel the sand, gritty and giving
beneath wrinkled toes,
turning the bones in their matrix
so that by the end of the day,
feet ache with the surf.
I can see glass hiding in the shallows,
smooth and worn, surface cloudy
like an uncut gem, disguising its prior existence.

(A beer bottle perhaps? Or maybe a pair of glasses,
lost in the crashing waves, given up for lost
by the nearsighted fool who left them there
to be a gift for Neptune.)

Today, I am surrounded by
the endless noise of water
beating against sand, a sound that lingers
in some forgotten memory,
my mother's heartbeat perhaps,
lost inside to years of new experiences.

Or it could just be crows,
could just be the wind.

Sara Lukjanovs, 2004

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ms. Crafty Pants and the boy's B-day

So the boy turned one last week, and we had a big ol' birthday bash for him. As previously reported, I spent way too much time on the fun decorating stuff, and probably not enough time on the, oh, cleaning and cooking part of it. Thank goodness the Ma was there to help out, especially with me and my broke-ass right arm.

And what does a little boy's first birthday need most of all?
6 great iPhotos
That's right. Rum, tequila*, and twinkie sushi. The Big Bucket o' Margarita Mix was purchased mainly because it made me laugh at the grocery store. I mean, how can you pass up something that says "New! With Dispens-arita Spout!" on the label. I love that shit. Dispens-arita! Ole! And it wasn't half bad.

The twinkie sushi? Again, something that made me laugh. Of course if you follow the link above, you will also find the version with swedish fish and powdered donuts, which I am kind of glad I didn't see before the party, because I would have had to make those, too.

What else does a little boy's first birthday need?
6 great iPhotos
Tentative cake eating, of course.
6 great iPhotos
And here's my home-made birthday banner, which came out great. I absolutely love this font, Jokerman in Apple Works. Like my color scheme? I did wind up wearing a lime green t-shirt. As did my mother. Oh yeah, dork-o-rama.
6 great iPhotos
Finally, back and front shots of the little monster himself. I made the t-shirt with iron on transfer. It has his name and a number 1 on the back, and a picture of a monster on the front (copied from the invitation by ME into the computer. Ah the magic of computer handdrawing) that says "It's my first birthday, GIVE ME CAKE!!" I know. You are ready to puke from the cuteness. You gotta admit, he looks like a little monster, especially in this shot.
6 great iPhotos
All in all, a successful celebration.

(We're going to ignore the very sad "non-recording video camera during cake eating" incident.)

*edited to add: okay, the hubby wanted me to clarify that the margaritas were for the adults, not for the birthday boy. yes, he really did. I just made the assumption that you'd figure that out. But you know about assumptions. They make an "ass" out of "u" and "umption".**

**not mine. quote from "The Long Kiss Goodnight"

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Identity! (kind of....)

I finally came up with a new name for my internet self! Now, you will probably think I'm crazy, but I have seriously been searching for a name for years. Nothing seemed appropriate, either too cutesie or too trendy, or not "me" enough. Turns out the answer is closer than I ever thought. I was playing around with my name, first and last and what it would be if I had taken a married name, and came up with "Saralude". I like it. Reminds me of both "Interlude" and "Sarabande", both somewhat musical terms. I think it sounds like a Debussy piano piece.

Of course, I am sure someone will write in and tell me it actually means "dungheap" in Mandarin, or reminds them of "ludefisk" or "quelude". At which point I shall go have a long cry in a corner.

(Still typing with the splint on, so this post will not be long. Have developed a kind of combined typing style, where the left hand does the correct typing thing, and the broke-ass right hand does a hunt-and-peck. Not terribly efficient.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Blues Continues...

...with my poor arm. Yep, I screwed up my wrist good and proper. Not broken, but nearly. Last night I did one of those banana-peel pratfalls where your feet fly up higher than your head, before you land flat on your back. Or, in my case, my right arm. And now, after a three hour long visit to urgent care (ugh) I am not allowed to use my arm for a week. Lovely. This of course means no picking up of the boy, no diapering the boy, no dressing of the boy. And no knitting.


Friday, January 13, 2006

Broken Toe Blues

Is it possible to break your toe by stubbing it on the coffee table? I think probably. I have been hobbling around for four days on a black and blue pinky toe. Stupid phone. Why do we have phones? I wonder how many accidents happen in the home because somebody's running for the phone.

I thought I should update my blog. Not that I have anything to say. I have been planning the boy's first birthday party, although "planning" is probably not quite the word. What I have mostly been doing is printing out cute invitations, making banners, and creating a first birthday t-shirt for the boy. NONE of this is actually necessary. But you know me. Ms. Crafty Pants. I also managed to clean up and organize the office. This has, annoyingly enough, not made the rest of the house clean and organized. I was hoping for a kind of domino effect, where the clean vibes emanating from the office would cause dust bunnies to implode and dirty laundry to become clean, folded, and put away, all without the touch of my hands. Somehow, it didn't happen.

Oh! and I bought party supplies. That's planning, right? I've got this lovely purple and lime green scheme, based on the monster invites, and I went a little crazy. Everything will be purple and lime green. I will probably even wear my lime green t-shirt or sweater (depending on the weather) just to cement my complete dorkitude.

In knitting news? I have been working, and working, and working on an accent pillow for my bedroom. The problem? It's this really pretty latvian braid technique that involves a lot of untwisting of hopelessly twisted-together yarns, and goes REALLY SLOWLY. R E A L L Y S L O O O O O W L Y. I had big plans when I started, "Oh, I'll make some pillows for the living room, and the boy's room, and some curtain edgings, and some dishtowels! The whole house will be filled with Latvian Braid!" Uh huh. Now, I will be lucky if this one accent pillow makes it to completion.

But hey, maybe the completion vibes will cause the rest of my knitting projects to knit themselves while I sleep.

Monday, January 09, 2006

My love affair with Emmett

I don't know how to say this, so I guess I'll just come right out with it. I'm in love with an otter. Well, two otters, actually. And a porcupine. And some weasels, ferrets, badgers, foxes, bullfrogs, squirrels, and two rather frightening rabbits. I refer here, of course, to the amazing Emmett Otter's Jugband Christmas, the Jim Henson extravaganza. We used to watch this little tv movie every year when I was a child, and I remembered the song "When the river meets the sea" until I became an adult, because I loved it so much. And guess what. The movie is just as sweet and endearing and full of fantastic music as I remembered it being. Watched it last night on dvd, and just about cried. Absolutely lovely.

And that's not even mentioning the amazing dvd extras, all of which were worth the price times 100. The making of doc is funny and full of interviews with everybody from puppet makers to songwriters (one, Paul Williams) to vocal talent. And the Outtakes! Oh my god! I have not laughed that hard in a long time. To watch Ma Otter say "Sweet Jesus!" and little Emmett ask for spare change to buy his Ma some Ripple, well, words cannot capture the sheer madness of it. I am in love with Frank Oz. And how much does it suck that Jim Henson died. The man was a genius of the highest order.

I definitely need to get every Jim Henson project on dvd. If they are even half as entertaining and informative as this one, they're worth it.

All right, I've said my piece. Go, go and watch Emmett Otter. You won't be sorry.