Monday, January 31, 2011

January Book List

My friend Paula read 200 books last year. I had started counting, but lost track somewhere along the way. I know that I met the 52 books in 52 weeks challenge, but I don't know that I read quite 200 books to match Paula.

Since Paula is challenging herself to read 150 books this year, I think I'll meet her challenge try to read 150 books as well. That's an average 12 1/2 books a month, which is totally do-able.

You can check in with me on the last day of each month to see how I'm doing.

Books Read in January

01 Fleece Navidad, by Maggie Sefton (1/4)
02 Wicked Appetite, by Janet Evanovich (1/6)
03 Hannah's List, by Debbie Macomber (1/7) Audiobook
04 Boondocks Fantasy, edited by Jean Rabe & Martin H. Breenberg (1/9)
05 Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk, by David Sedaris (1/13)
06 Savor the Moment, by Nora Roberts (1/14) Audiobook
07 The Wish List, by Gabi Stevens (1/14)
08 Blank Confession, by Pete Hautman (1/17) YA
09 Thanksgiving, by Janet Evanovich (1/19)
10 Trio of Sorcery, by Mercedes Lackey (1/20)
11 Big Boned, by Meg Cabot (1/22/11)
12 Running Hot, by Jayne Ann Krentz (1/23)
13 The Search, by Nora Roberts (1/28)
14 The Sugar Queen, by Sarah Addison Allen (1/30)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It usually takes more than three weeks to prepare a good iimpromptu speech. (Mark Twain)

The first episode of the Lilypad Podcast is officially posted. You can go to the show notes for details. Or go directly to the podcast itself to download (especially if you don't care about seeing pictures of the projects discussed).

This episode took me approximately 432 attempts before I finally just gave up trying to get it perfect. I've done the first episode so many times in my head, I never expected it to be so difficult to say out loud.

I'm still not really happy with it. First of all, my voice is still very quiet. And the one taped tale is extremely loud. I need to figure out how to moderate the two parts to a more evenly toned recording. I also need to figure out how to get intro music. And how to stop saying "um" so much.

But for a first episode, I'm pretty pleased with it.

The next episode will be wonderful!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Human beings cannot stand too much reality. (Thomas S. Eliot)

I spent the night at the emergency room with Becka.

Wow, that sounds really bad. It wasn't, really. Other than the whole worrying and waiting and costing lots of money details, of course.

I was supposed to pick up my daughter when she got off at work at 10. Except that her boss decided to keep her until 11. And somehow during the day (or the night before, since it was apparently hurting since early morning) she hurt her arm, bad enough that it was swollen and bruised and she couldn't move her wrist or fingers.

When she did get off, we went over to the emergency room to have it x-rayed. After a short wait, we found out we were at the wrong emergency room; apparently 17-year-olds still have to go to the pediatric emergency. So we moved to the next building, and waited. And waited. And waited. And did I mention that we had to wait.

Naturally, this was the one time that I didn't grab extra knitting before I left the house.

When they finally took the x-rays, it was decided that she only had a severe sprain. They prescribed a couple of Tylenols, and gave her a splint to keep it from getting worse.

So it could have been a lot worse.

But it would have been a lot better if I had remembered to grab my knitting.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Surely there comes a time when counting the cost and paying the price aren't things to think about any more.

All that matters is value - the ultimate value of what one does. (James Hilton)
On Monday, I was asked if I would knit a shawl on commission. The gentleman asking me to do this made it clear that he understood that a hand-knit item was special, and that he expected to pay quite a bit for it. I've been asked to knit other things, but have always shrugged off such suggestions because they usually come phrased along the lines of "because I know that you can make it so much cheaper than I can buy it." Since this time the gentleman seemed to understand, I'm actually considering knitting the shawl.

I did a little research online to see what people are charging for the hand knits, and there was a wide range of advice. Some people felt that you should charge two to three times the cost of the materials. So for my Aeolian lace shawl, which uses 1 skein of Claudia hand-painted silk yarn and two vials of beads, I would charge between $80 and $120. Some people felt that you should figure out how many hours of labor are involved, and then charge a living wage. This would make the Aeolian shawl about $520 (20 days approximately x 2 hrs/day x $12/hour + materials). Yeah, I don't think I'm going to be able to get that.

Actually, this point was brought up by Lottie in a post she wrote last year. She even went so far as to list a pair of socks on Coriandr (England's version of It's a wonderful ad, and I totally recommend that anyone thinking of selling (or buying) hand knits should go to Lottie's ad and check it out. (Really. Go see

So will I knit the shawl? I still don't know. I think for me it will depend on whether he chooses a pattern that I want to knit anyway (because if I'm going to knit it anyway, I might as well take money for it).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure. (Anonymous)

I'm still working on my Pettine shawlette. Every time I think I'm almost finished, I find another mistake and I have to tink (knit it back a few rows) or actually frog (rip-it, rip-it) quite a bit. It's getting so bad, I've been told that I should re-name this my "Now what have I done" shawl. But I am determined to finish this. Surprisingly, I still love the pattern and the project.

At Knit Night, Pam brought in packets of M&Ms for all of us. When we opened them up, they had knitting phrases printed on them. "Knit & Purl," "Incr - M1," "K2tog - SSK," and of course "Chix with Stix." I was impressed. I think Pam deserves some sort of an award for this idea.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

People who like this sort of thing will find this the sort of thing they like. (Abraham Lincoln)

Back in September I fell in love with a name tag that I saw at Florida Fiber In. I would love to show a picture of Rebecca's tag, but unfortunately I didn't take a picture and I'm hesitant to steal one from our Yahoo group's files. Basically, Rebecca had knit a blue and white cup cozy, then embroidered "Hello" and her name on it. This inspired me to make one of my own.

It was difficult to come up with the pattern. I could have saved myself a day if I had done a gauge swatch first, but even with the need to start over twice because I hadn't cast on enough stitches I managed to finish this cozy in just two days. I decided to knit "Hello" into the cozy, and just embroider my name to make it look more like a name tag. I'm very pleased with the results.

I'm still working on my Pettine shawl. And I only finished 1 block on my sock blanket this week, making my count for the year 6/11. So I'm already behind with my resolution of 1 block a day.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Food is the most primitive form of comfort. (Sheila Graham)

It was a long day at work today, made longer because I didn't eat lunch. (Why is it staff always orders lunch delivered, except on the day that I don't have anything with me to eat?) So when I got home, I decided to indulge in a childhood favorite.

I love Pigs in a Blanket. They're wonderful hot from the oven, when the roll is soft and the cheese is melted and gooey. And they are just as good the next day, cold from the refrigerator and easily grabbed as a quick snack.

There really isn't a recipe the way we make them. Just take a package of hot dogs (I prefer the all beef type) and cut a length-wise slit down each. Stuff the slit with a small wedge of Velveeta. (Yes, it has to be Velveeta in order to be authentic.) Cover with refrigerator biscuits (I like the flaky Grands, but crescent rolls are also very good) and bake until the biscuits are done. (If you aren't sure how long or how hot, just follow the baking directions on the biscuit package.)

Traditionally, Pigs in the Blanket should be served either with potato salad (homemade, naturally) or baked beans & cheese macaroni. And if you're really hungry and home alone, potato chips. Just hide the empty bag before your children get home.

Monday, January 10, 2011

People age even when you're not looking. (Randy K. Milholland)

My baby turned 17 today. It doesn't seem possible; I know that it was only yesterday that she was running around in her underwear, fussing because she wanted to color and she couldn't find her crayons and coloring book. Oh wait, it really was only yesterday.

Seriously, I somehow managed to ignore the fact that my children weren't always going to be children. With the older ones, I comforted myself with the idea that I still had my baby. The problem is that my baby is 17, and will be graduating high school in four months. Then she'll be into college, and I'll be left trying to figure out who I am when I'm no longer mommy.

But the cool thing is that my daughter is still the same person she's always been, even if she is older now. She's self-confident, strong-willed, compassionate, and she's willing to take a stand and fight for what she believes is right. She has a wonderful sense of humor, even if it is a little wacky. Best of all, she is able to get along with just about everyone without ever giving up who she is.

Happy birthday, sweetie. And no, you're not getting a car for your birthday.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Yoi otoshi o!

The Morikami Museum held its annual Oshogatsu Festival to celebrate the New Year. I was looking forward to going, especially because the first of the year's tea ceremonies would be demonstrated. I really enjoy watching the tea ceremony.

I knew even before I got to the museum that I wouldn't get the chance to see the tea ceremony. The cars were lined up, waiting to turn into the road before the museum. I was directed to park several fields away from the normal parking lot. I followed the crowd to the main entrance, feeling very smug that I wouldn't have to wait in line to buy a ticket since I had a membership to the museum. Unfortunately, I still had to battle my way through the crowd in order to reach the front door and show my pass.

It didn't get any better once I was inside. All of the shows and classes were sold out. The crowds around the demonstrations made it impossible to see or even hear anything (including the musicians). There were so many people, it was even difficult to walk the pathways through the gardens.

I lasted about 10 minutes before giving up (after being run over by three separate strollers and bumped by at least a dozen people trying to pass me on the path) and I just went home to have a cup of tea in peace.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

distaff (noun): 1. A staff for holding flax, wool, etc. for spinning. 2. Women considered collectively

I had gotten a notice through my Fiber-In group that the Orlando knitting groups were celebrating Distaff Day with a big get-together. Naturally I wanted to be there, and luckily I was able to talk my friends Lisa and Peggy to ride up with me. We had a wonderful time!

There were about 30 knitters/spinners/weavers attending the day, which was held in the student union at the University of Central Florida. (This is a beautiful campus, by the way. Although I was surprised to see a Game Stop next to the university bookstore.) We socialized, played games, showed off our finished work, and in between actually worked on our fiber projects.

There was a table of freebies; people put out items that they didn't want anymore and you could just take what you wanted. I came home with a booklet of washcloth patterns, a copy of Piecework magazine that I had wanted but couldn't find a copy of, and scraps of sock yarn for my blanket. (I have enough to make mini-balls to share at knit-night.)

There was also a table of items for sale. I bought a shawl pin (I forgot to take a picture), some sock yarn (of course), and some fiber (again, of course).

I know I had said that I wasn't going to add to my stash, but you should have known better than to believe that malarky. Besides, everyone knows that sock yarn doesn't count as stash. And fiber isn't even yarn yet, so how could it possibly count?

We did a yankee swap, and I walked away with a copy of Knitwear Design Workshop. This is a book I've been wanting, so I really made out well.

Oh, and did I mention that I met a whole bunch of sock knitters? It's nice to be around people who love socks as much as I do. (Although I was the only one who likes Special K cereal. Go figure...)
Everyone started packing up to leave around 3:30. Lisa, Peggy, and I decided that since there was still daylight left, we would go hunt out a yarn shop. Several people recommended Sip & Knit, so off we went.
It was another brilliant idea on our part, because the store was great. Three rooms of yarn to explore. There were some favorites (Noro, Cascade) but there was also a lot that I hadn't seen before. Lisa and Peggy showed considerable restraint and managed to ohh and ahh without opening their wallets. I wasn't so well-behaved. But at least I have a souvenir. Besides, sock yarn doesn't count as stash. (Sigh. How many times do I have to repeat that before it sounds believable?)
Altogether we drove over 360 miles, leaving at 6 am and not returning home until after 9 pm. Just to spend the day knitting and spinning and friends.

So, who's ready for another road trip?

Friday, January 07, 2011

We come spinning out of nothingness, scattering stars like dust. (Jalal ad-Din Rumi)

It took me almost 4 1/2 hours, but I finished plying the first of the corriedale Peacock yarn. It's a 2-ply plus metallic thread (so really, a three-ply) and it came out to be about 24 wpi. I still have to whack it (full it) and measure it out, but I think I have my first lace weight yarn!

I plan on this eventually becoming either Gwendolyn, Gail (Nightsongs), or I may even pay for a pattern and make it into Pretty as a Peacock Shawl.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Put duties aside at least an hour before bed and perform soothing, quiet activities that will help you relax. (Dianne Hales)

Things To Do:
  • Ply the corredale with metallic thread
  • Laundry (in desperate need of 4 loads!)
  • Clean the house
  • Finish editing and post the new podcast
  • Iron shirt for tomorrow
  • Apply for job
  • Pay the bills
Things That I Will Actually Do:
  • Take medicine for headache
  • Go to bed early
  • Worry about everything else tomorrow

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

One half of the world can not understand the pleasures of the other. (Jane Austen)

These are all the projects I managed to knit in 2010. I didn't do too bad. I didn't finish all the projects in my queue, but that's because the queue is constantly growing and changing. (You can see the entire list in the "Fiber Notes - 2010" page by using using the tab at the top of the blog.)

There are a couple of people that I made items for this past year that I have decided are no longer knit-worthy. For instance, my youngest daughter no longer gets hand-knit socks. I'll knit her hats and mittens and sweaters and whatever else, but no more socks. Anyone who wears hand-knit socks without shoes to walk the dog does not deserve hand-knit socks. No matter how much she likes them.

I'm also crossing off everyone that I knit something for that never used the item. Why bother knitting a baby sweater, shawl, or a fancy hat if it's just going to sit in the closet and never get worn? Maybe I'm being a little hasty in marking a few people off the knit-worthy list; they might really love the item I sent them. But I haven't seen any evidence of it. When my children were babies and I received a gift, I used to take a picture of them in the outfit and mail it with a thank you so that the person who sent the item knew how how cute the kids looked in it. With digital cameras and facebook, it would be even easier to send a picture so that I could see that the item fit and/or was appreciated. It's nice to hear "Oh, I loved the ____! Can you make me more?" But with all the work and love I put into knitting something, I truly want a picture so that I can enjoy seeing that results are being used.

Currently on my needles is still the Pettine shawl. I'm really glad that I frogged it from the size 6 needles and went with the size 7. I'm amazed at the difference the one size makes. I made it past the halfway point, and I'm working on the decreasing side of the triangle. I still love, love, love this pattern! It's such an easy knit, but looks like such fancy lacework for the trim.

One of my goals for 2010 was to knit one block a day for the Sock Blanket. I managed to add 212 squares, for a total of 387 squares completed (40% of the blanket). I'm going to keep the same goal for this year, and I'll try to update my progress. I'm already off to a good start: I've finished 5 squares in 4 days.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin. That, or a kick-ass red lipstick. (Gwyneth Paltrow)

I've recently become preoccupied by lipstick. Which is very strange for me.

I've always been a big fan of the natural look, using as little makeup as possible. The only reason to use any makeup at all (in my opinion) is to even out your complexion and to highlight your features. For me, a light application of foundation and powder seemed like enough. (Other women do a lot more than foundation and blush, and they look wonderful. I'm not against makeup; I just haven't seen any reason for me to make the attempt. Truthfully, I'm just too lazy and rushed in the mornings to make the attempt.)

Most mornings the foundation and powder is enough. Occasionally I will put on a little bit of lipstick, and it's amazing the compliments I'll suddenly get. Apparently lipstick can magically make you look younger, happier, and give the appearance of a new haircut. Since I seldom remember to reapply it throughout the day, the effects soon wear off and I'm once again an unhappy older woman in need of a hairdresser.

This week, I'm pledging to carry a tube of lipstick with me wherever I go and to actually use it throughout the day.

Monday, January 03, 2011

You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. (Robin Williams)

I'm sure that I had something interesting to say. And of course I would have said it in a deeply intellectual, yet still amusing manner. It's possible that the course of your entire life, or at least the course of your day, would have been changed by the truth of my observations.

Too bad I've totally forgotten what I wanted to talk about. And I'm too tired to try to remember.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right. (Oprah Winfrey)

In 2011 I will try to:
  • exercise three times a week (or do some type of physical activity)
  • spin four days a week (at least 15 minutes)
  • knit one block a day on my sock blanket (okay, knit 7 blocks a week...)
  • minimize my WIPs (I currently have 9 projects on the needles, plus 9 more ready to start)
  • knit from my stash whenever possible
  • podcast every 2 weeks
  • blog daily
  • keep my house clean
  • declutter my house
  • stay within my budget
  • mail out cards for special occasions (and even for no occasion, just because)
Maybe I should add:
  • go to bed at a decent hour every night

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Start every day off with a smile and get it over with.

My original plans were to spend the first day of the new year cleaning the house, knitting, blogging, and just generally doing things that I wanted to spend the rest of the year doing.

Then my mom called, and I found myself spending the afternoon on the beach with family.

I guess it was a pretty good start to the year after all.