cast of characters

Lani and Ann are the Weaver sisters!

Lani's household consists of Steve, the long-suffering coding genius and computer security guru; Jim, Lani's tall, red-headed and handsome son, currently finishing his second year of college; Hunter, Jasmine, Himari, Chenault, the miraculous Onyx and the even more miraculous Resk, undisputed feline rulers of the house; and Jesse, the man-hating green-cheeked conure.

Ann's household consists of Don, who is not just a computer genius but a pilot, a builder, and a damn good father; their son Steve, the marathon-running, college-bound, funniest teenager I know; and wonder dog Tater.

Other family members are Laurie, Lani's beautiful daughter who teaches at elementary levels; her handsome son Alex, aka Alexander the Great; Mary and Bo, a/k/a Mom and Dad, and Bud and Ann, Steve's patient and wonderful parents.

what's going on

previous posts

Sister, Sister, Sister!!
10 Random Things, Colorado-Style
10 Random Things
Tornadoes and Kitchen Sinks
Flying in and out
Sweets For My Sweet
Knitting - yes, I still do some
The Cake
I'll do anything for cake ....


July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 October 2008 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011

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blog reads

Knit and Tonic

Sister, Sister

the life and times of the Weaver sisters

Saturday, September 30, 2006

First, the color change; yeah, pink really isn't my thing, but we're Going Pink For October and Breast Cancer Awareness Month anyway. I encourage all of you to make a donation; to Elizabeth's Walk for the Cure, or to someone else if you know someone else who's walking, or directly to the Susan G. Koman Breast Cancer Foundation or the National Breast Cancer Foundation, links to all of which are over in the sidebar.

This week has been a little this and a little that. I've been trying to get my house in order, trying to mend clothes and hem skirts and sort through things in preparation for working again. I've also been trying to memorize eleventy-seven airport codes, and ya'll that is a LOT of airport codes, and acronyms and definitions and announcements, and I'm here to tell you it's a lot harder to memorize stuff now that I'm old and have a leaky old brain. (That is still, in my opinion, the funniest column Dave Barry ever wrote and he wrote some humdingers. Probably because it's so true ... and also it explains a lot about why this memorization stuff has been so hard, what with the Knowledge Fairy last visiting me in 1873 and all. It's been a while.)

This whole memorization thing has reminded me of something, though. Do you remember when you were in .. fourth grade, I think it was. And you had to memorize your times tables? You had flashcards and the whole nine yards? Mom promised you a kitten if you succeeded, which you did, and she was a very good kitty too regardless of the whole having-kittens-on-your-bed thing. ANYWAY. I broke the pages and pages of airport codes down into bitesized morsels and made myself a huge teetering scary stack of airport code flashcards, and I've been studiously working with them. I'm pretty sure I'll have them all down pat by Monday, and that's a lot of damn airport codes, and I'm looking around, and where's my kitten? (Of course the reality is that Onyx kitten is probably all this house can handle, but this was hard and I want something damnit.) It seems dreadfully unfair that when you're an adult you have these goals, things, hard things, that Must Be Done leaky old brain notwithstanding, and you bust your ass and wander around the house muttering ACK, YOW, BFD, HPN, GRR, and taking flashcards everywhere even in the bathroom and in traffic and in line at the bank, and in the end you succeed and ... nobody gets you a kitten. Not even a kitten-substitute. Being a grownup sucks sometimes.

Being a kitten, however, does not suck. Not even a little bit. Cats don't have flashcards either. Cats can RELAX. Boy howdy can cats relax. Case in point: Onyx, sleeping through Steve's conference call.
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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Whoooo, whoo-whoooooooo (posted by Ann)

I am mad at Blogger. I've typed a post three times, each time I think of something different I want to say. I sure hope this is it, I'm out of material. Otherwise you'll get a post that says "Humph" with a few pictures and no explanation.

Now on to what I really wanted to say.

The owls are back! We have a nest in the woods behind our house that hosts red-tailed hawks in the summer, and great horned owls in the winter. They breed during the winter months, when they can get more food. I shudder to think of anything living outside during the winter up here, but they do. Poor babies! Anyway, they arrive in the fall and they are very active either finding mates or selecting a nest, I'm not sure which, but they are loud. They have been around for about a week, talking back and forth to each other at intervals during the night. They wake me up, they are so loud, but I love to lay in bed and listen to them. I remember sleeping on Grandy's sleeping porch and her talking to me in the middle of the night asking if I heard the owl.

Anyway, we do have one new twist this year. Tater has discovered the owls. They hoot, and he growls. They talk back and forth, and he barks. It doesn't seem to bother the owls, so they keep on going. And so does he. At night. Repeatedly.


We've had lots going on up here, as is normal. Steve had another big cross-country meet last weekend, so I took this picture of the start of his race. He's in there somewhere, but I really can't pick him out. I was tempted to get in front of the crowd to take a shot of them coming at me, but then I thought about this and decided against it.

Here he is closing in on the finish. He ran a great race, and it didn't rain - much. All good things on a Saturday morning.

I took this picture after the race, and I'm calling it "Reluctant Construction Worker". I think you get the idea. Reluctant or no, there is a window in that opening as we speak.

Don is in San Francisco this week teaching class. He's almost completely healed, which is great. He travels next week to Detroit, and I'm off to GSO for a few days. (Just a little quiz to get you ready for training!)

As far as knitting, I did buy some size 4's to fix the blue sweater, but I haven't done it yet. I've been busy on a pink sweater I started for a baby girl. Here's what the stitch looks like - I love the little bows, and the seed stitch bands are my favorite. This is part of one of the fronts, which I have since finished. I went to New York and back yesterday, and both flights were delayed, so I did 6" of the back. I love baby sweaters, the entire back is 11" so I'm more than halfway done. We sat on the runway forever.

Look at the tag - when 3rd sister gave me the purse she made me, she had a tag in it so I decided to order some for myself. Aren't they cute?

P.S. Don't you dare order yourself some, leave me at least one inspired thing to get you for Christmas.

P.P.S. Will you and Steve come for Thanksgiving? I think Mom and Dad may be here, and I've asked Laurie if she and Alex would consider it. I might be able to wrangle a condo downtown for you and Steve . . .

Monday, September 25, 2006

Knitting Discoveries, and Being a Worrywart (posted by Lani)

I made some Knitting Discoveries this week, one of which was bad and some of which were good. I decided to knit a couple of squares for Grandmother Purl, which managed to not only make me feel good because I was knitting for a good cause, but also let me try some things out that I hadn't previously experimented with.

One of those things I tried was a mitred square out of sock yarn, and I chose bright bright yarn because bright colors, to me, are happy colors -- and let me tell you that mitred squares are the coolest thing since sliced bread. Maybe even since before sliced bread. This was not merely a good discovery, it was a great discovery, because mitred squares are as easy and mindless as ballband dishclothes, maybe even more so. Unfortunately at the same time as making this great discovery I made a bad discovery, and that discovery is: All Sock Yarns Are Not Created Equal. Even if they say on the wrapper that they're the same gauge, they may not actually knit up to the same exact gauge, and as we all know a difference of 1/2 stitch or so per inch adds up over, say, an 8" square. The result of this is that my mitred square, which was striped because I was using random leftover sock yarn, turned out to be a mitred trapezoid.
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I was able to correct this by extremely severe blocking (even though since it's stockinette it's trying to curl up again already), but I learned a valuable lesson here for when I make my mitred square blanket, which I'm more determined than ever to make now.

The other square I made for Grandmother Purl was out of some of the teal alpaca I got in my last big haul, and the discovery I made here was that alpaca is incredible. No wonder knitters say things like "I swear to alpaca" instead of "I swear to (insert diety here)"; it's fabulous and luxurious and easy to work with and well, everything about it is just wonderful. It may not have been the best choice for the square that I made because its fuzziness prevents the butterfly from showing as well as it otherwise might, but the softness, in my opinion, more than makes up for that failing.
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Oh, and that laceweight merino that I dyed a while back and promised to take a picture of?
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It's obviously destined to be something springy, probably a shawl but possibly a lacy cardigan. We'll see.

As to the rest of things ... my apologies for being such a bad, bad blogger. I've been kind of in a funk here, and just had nothing much to say. I'm worried; worried about Laurie, who's been sick again, and worried about Jim, who's been I don't even know what to call it, and worried about Jim's cat because Jim isn't stable right now and cats need stability and I should never have let him keep the cat and now I feel guilty because Jim chooses his life, but the cat doesn't have that choice (anybody, preferably in Florida, want a sweet, loving, playful, already-neutered 3-year old orange cat who unfortunately our Hunter hated at first sight?), and worried because Pippin is not feeling well (poor old doggie), and worried that the intermittent ache in my side is another kidney stone (it's probably not but I'm paranoid now), and worried that my car maybe is reaching the point that it is going to need to be replaced (it's only going on 12 years old and has almost 200k miles, this should not be a surprise), and worried that the leak in the bathroom is more than just a leaky fitting (which we'll find out today when I pull the sink apart), and worried that the pansies I planted in the front yard Friday are going to wash away in all the rain we got over the weekend, and ... worried.

Have you ever noticed that once you start worrying about one thing everything else suddenly seems much worse and you go from one worry to a veritable avalanche of worries, or is that just me? Normally I shake it off and move on; for whatever reason, this week my worries have consumed me and aside from the pansies (which did not, in fact, wash away) and a very little bit of knitting (which I should have worried about instead of worrying about the pansies, as it turned out, due to the aforementioned Sock Yarn Gauge Issue) I really haven't done much. Thank heavens for Steve who quietly noticed my funk and did what he could to make it better, up to and including taking me out to dinner and plying me with alcohol Friday night.

Also thank goodness that Laurie is doing better and will go back to work later this week; she's worried about money now after missing over two weeks of work which makes me worry about her for different reasons (here we go again) but -- and this is a good but! -- this has made her really think about the future, which she's needed to do for a while. It's so easy when you're a young newly single mother trying to support yourself to just live day to day and to make bad decisions, but she's made some GOOD decisions in the past two weeks that have been a while coming. Among other things she's used her time off productively; once she started feeling better she hauled out all her tax returns and other paperwork and has applied for a Pell Grant and made an appointment with the financial aid counselor at the college to discuss other financial aid options. Sadly she missed the deadline for Pell for the spring semester by about 2 weeks so she wouldn't be getting that until fall of next year, but the other aid may not have those deadlines ... we'll see, anyway. And regardless, she's finally serious about it. Thank heavens.

As for me, I'm not going to sit here and worry, I swear; I may not be able to turn off the worrying but at least I'm going to multitask. Today I'm going to get my house clean again since last week I even let that slide, and I'm going to start on the alterations on some clothes I have upstairs that with a little tweaking I'll be able to wear once I start to work next week, and I'm going to get back to all the pre-class studying which I didn't touch at all last week.

And as for you -- I love that picture of you on the boat. I don't think you look worried; I think you look pretty and serious and intent, and the guys don't look worried either so obviously they're comfortable with your abilities as captain of their particular ship, and all in all it's a great picture. I'm also glad you got margaritas once you finally got home Friday night, and while I realize that the delay must have sucked I think we all agree that a delay, however long, has to be better than riding an express train into a tornado. Although, I have to say, that whole riding-an-express-train-into-a-tornado thing does sometimes seem like a perfect metaphor for life.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Margarita, please. (posted by Ann)

It's been a long week, and I'm sitting on the train on the way home, using the extra-jiffy wireless network card I just got to blog on the train. Pretty cool, huh? Well, I thought it would be fun, except that I've now been on the train for over an hour and we're only about two miles out of downtown. There are tornadoes further north of us, and they don't want to go into the tornadoes (Good Idea, Mr. Engineer!) so we're sitting. And sitting. I did buy a bottle of water, and I have an apple, so I shouldn't complain. The guy sitting across from me keeps eyeing my water. . .

One of the guys that works for me sent me a couple of pictures today. I had my team out on the boat earlier this summer. This is the view of downtown when we got on the boat to go sailing. There was definitely some fog, but it wasn't too bad.

And this is what happened after we were out on the water a short time - notice what's behind the boat? Nothing, you think? Actually, downtown Chicago was behind the boat. I think the guys were a little nervous, and I even look a little worried in this shot, but never fear I got everyone back to the mooring safe and sound. By the time we got back you couldn't see the seawall from the mooring, it was pretty much fogged in solid. We had a great time anyway, with tons of beer and food and the guys going non-stop with jokes and stories about each other. I think I heard about 50 sheep-shagging jokes that night! The guy at the wheel is the CIO from the UK, and the guy seated next to me manages the finances.

I actually didn't go anywhere this week - no ORD, no LGA, no nothing. I got to see Steve run in another meet yesterday, and he has one tomorrow as well, so I'll post more pictures this weekend. I have the offending sleeve ripped out but now I can't find any size 4 needles, so it's languishing while I do other things.

The train is moving again, thank goodness! My normal hour and 45 minute commute is probably going to be three hours tonight. I could make a fortune if I had margaritas to sell on the train about now.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Heirloom? (posted by Ann)

I washed the quilt that Grandy gave me today, and hung it out to dry on the back porch. It got me started thinking about what qualifies something as an heirloom, because much as I love this particular quilt it's - well - it's a crazy quilt made of corduroy, and it is backed with leopard print corduroy, and it was quilted by tying little knots in yarn, and face it no one is ever going to say it's gorgeous.

But I love it unreasoningly because Grandy made it for me, and Steve loves it too. It has been cuddled with since I was what - 6? 40 years!!

Maybe none of us should worry so much about what the thing we're making looks like, and concentrate more on the love that goes with something you make for someone. It's the love we're after, isn't it, more than the thing itself? Maybe that's the real definition of heirloom - made with love.

But I'm still going to fix that sleeve.

By the way, the tree behind the quilt is the one we planted on Steve's double-digit birthday so it's been around for almost 6 years now. It's looking tall and almost grown up just like he is.

This week I will be going from ORD to LGA and back, and next week ORD, LGA, GSO, ATL and back to ORD. We can do travel by shorthand since you'll have them all memorized! No ACK or YOW for me, at least for this couple of weeks.

Ack. Yow. (posted by Lani)

You know, you should really never try calculating just far much you have done on a project unless it's a project like a shawl that starts at the large end and gets smaller as you go along. Trust me; leave well enough alone. Look at your pattern, see that you're on row 51 and there are 82 rows, and go WOW! I'm over halfway done! I am COOKING! Blithely ignore the fact that you're working in rounds, and that since each round is larger than the last at row 51 you are obviously nowhere NEAR halfway done. Truly, ignorance in this case is bliss. Because otherwise you'll be like me and you'll start getting curious about just how far along in this pattern you really are -- you'll be feeling pretty cocky, I mean, you ARE on row 51 out of 82, and you've even been weaving ends as you go so there'll be none of that left at the bitter end -- and you'll find out that in all actuality you are only, give or take, just under 39% done. Then you'll curse yourself for being an idiot and go mix a stiff drink and perhaps engage in a little retail therapy and not touch the project again that night.

Here's the current status on the Stitch Sampler afghan; it's looking good, if I say so myself.
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Why yes, it's at the end of row 51, why do you ask? Seriously though, despite my letdown over discovering my actual (lack of) progress I really do like this pattern more and more the more I work on it; I have a feeling I'm going to make several of these (without calculating actual progress ever again, of course).

My window-shopping version of retail therapy was going to KnitPicks and loading up my shopping cart with all the toys and goodies I'd buy if I won the lottery tomorrow. Not yarn, I think we've established that I have enough of that for the moment (cough cough, not that it stopped me from browsing their gorgeous new yarns and there are even some kits that are tempting, look at that Mix & Mingle throw kit, love the New England colorway -- gah, somebody slap me), and definitely not patterns, my WIM list is longer than my arm, but ... oh, the Options needle set, with extra cables in the 40, 47 and 60" lengths; and some extra needle pockets; size 1, 2 and 3 classic circs in the 24 and 32" lengths, now I'm going to need more extra needle pockets; those handy needle size id tags, how cool are those; a view sizer, I seriously need one of those; the chart keeper, that thing is purely the bomb for lace knitting, I must own one ... oi. I saved my cart, because one day I'm going to just go buckwild crazy and hit that Proceed to Checkout button and buy it all, but for now reality in the form of my brain suddenly waking up and going WTF! YOU DON'T NEED ALL THOSE NEEDLES, YOU IDIOT, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? THE YARN HARLOT?? EUNNY JANG?? WAKE UP! kicked in. My brain is such a party pooper.

So, what else? Ta-da, the T&Q Chenille afghan, finally done.
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I'm not ecstatic over it but I know the recipient will love it so I can live with it. It's intended as a 'ghan to snuggle under on the couch in the dead of winter, and it'll be perfect for that. This yarn feels like velvet worked up and I do love the heavy, velvety feel but I just don't like working with chunky yarns and this qualifies. Lighter-weight chenilles, yes; this, no. Never again.

In other news I decided that I'm not happy with the colors in the yarn I dyed the other day; it's brighter than I had anticipated, so I'm going to overdye it to tone down the colors. While doing that I'm also going to dye a skein of sportweight with this shawl in mind; lace worked in sportweight instead of lace-weight is lace that's right down my alley, I tell you what, and this is a one-skein project and I just happen to have one lonely skein of dye your own sportweight merino that meets the yardage needed to a T -- it was obviously meant to be. It'll be a nice portable project too, the pattern looks easy to memorize and I'm going to need one of those to take with me to class.

In NON-knitting and crocheting news, I bought a ton of tulip and daffodil and narcissus bulbs to plant this year; every year I look at all the beautiful bulbs coming up in other peoples' yards and gnash my teeth because I didn't plant any myself. Well, not this year! I'm going to have an orgy of bulb-planting in a couple of weeks, and come next spring MY tulips and daffodils will induce spasms of envy in all who pass my way (such is the theory, at any rate). I also succeeded in my quest to find comfortable, reasonably stylish black pumps for work, hurray.

And speaking of work, a few more days of wandering around the house gesticulating like a madwoman while looking the cats dead in the eye and saying things like 'Please observe as I point out the features of our safety briefing card, seatbelt, and oxygen masks," and "As a reminder, smoking is not permitted in any area of the aircraft, including lavatories," and "YOW, Ottawa International, Ottawa, Ontario -- ART, Watertown Municipal, Watertown, New York -- ACK, Nantucket Memorial, Nantucket, Massachusetts" (please note how easily one can associate things like YOW and ART and ACK with their respective towns and airports, i.e., not easily at all, did I mention this is all rote memorization?) and I'll be good to go. The cats think I've finally lost my last marble. The cats may be right. ACK. YOW.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

This week (posted by Ann)

Well, I can definitely say that it's been busy! Let's start with the fun stuff, shall we? Steve ran in a huge cross country invitational this morning, and he did great. Here he is at the top of a hill that I wouldn't have wanted to run up.

He did very well, he finished 30th out of over 200 and was really proud as you can see in this picture with his friends after the finish. Gatorade and a ribbon are clearly the right reward!

I volunteered to help set up the "team tent", which is for the team to hang out, leave their stuff, etc. Here is the Barrington team tent - the only one like this out of the 40 schools at the invitational.

And here is what most teams had.

But, best of all, here is what the winning team had. Hmmmm.

Now, on to the finished object. It's not pretty, so don't laugh too loud. !
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I've already ripped the seams and frogged back the offending sleeve. Re-knitting is going to require wine, and I have to hurry since the baby is already here. Other than my inability to count increases correctly, the rest of the sweater looks great. Look at this shot of the cables on the back - I can obviously count at least some of the time!

And in closing, it was in some respects a tough week. 9/11 is always hard for me because I think about all the people I knew. Wendy Faulkner, and her 13 year old daughter who carried a teddy bear to the funeral. Michael Opperman, who sent me an e-mail wanting to talk to me at 8:48 AM on 9/11. Steven Poulos, who sang for me on the streets of NYC when I told him I didn't believe the rumor that he was an opera singer on the side, and who died because he went back into the building to get the backup tapes. I remember them, and I think about how it should have been different for them and for all the others, and wonder how it will end.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Too Many Irons in the Fire (posted by Lani)

It's been a weird week, I have to say. I've meant to blog some but just never quite got around to it; every time I sat down and thought I would, something else happened. I've been scatterbrained, I guess; I've done a little sewing, a very little knitting, a fair amount of crocheting, a bit of dyeing, and a little bit of kitty-sitting; Onyx kitty is, well, let's just say he's no longer all boy, and he's feeling a bit puny as a result.

Sewing: Using my $12.99 Singer (another buy from my thrift store, officially the most wonderful thrift store in existence and yes, I seriously paid $12.99 for a 1980s Singer complete with one-touch buttonholder, in dusty-but-working condition) and some fabulous funky fabric off eBay, I made a couple of throw pillows for our sofa. Cording, zippers, they have it all; and the best thing is that even Steve, amazingly enough, was as taken by the pure funky coolness of the fabric as I was.

Aren't these great? And perfect for a couple with 3 cats!

Knitting: Just puttering around, swatching various yarns to see what I'm going to use for Sizzle. No solid answer yet, I've gotten gauge or close to it with a couple of different yarns but nothing is really stirring my grits just yet. Plus I cast on a ballband warshcloth; those things are too easy to resist having one going at all times just for relaxation knitting.

Dyeing: Dyed some laceweight Knitpicks yarn in long, long, long runs of color (I re-skeined it in a 40-foot loop prior to dyeing). It's drying now; I'll take pictures once it's dry and either skeined back up or wound. I have another skein that I'm going to do in shades of blues and greens, but I wanted to try this thing with the long runs first and see how it worked up.

Crocheting: I think I told you I'd finished the T&Q chenille afghan but wasn't sure whether I was going to put a contrast color border on it or not. I've decided that I definitely am going to do that, and picked up the yarn for it today. That'll be done this weekend. Next I started work on a Stitch Sampler (also known as Bobbles & Lace) afghan for Steve's parents, in colors chosen by Steve; here's the beginning of that, along with the various yarns.
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Very Fall-y, isn't it? I was surprised by Steve's choice of colors, but I think the end result will be pretty and I'm really enjoying working on this. You're never working in one stitch pattern, or even one color, so long that you get sick of it (this may change as I hit some of the single-crochet rows towards the outside of the afghan!). I do have a question for anyone who's done this afghan before (Beth, I'm looking at you ...) -- did the center lacey section buckle up for you? I have the correct stitch count and all but it really almost seems like that lacey circle is too big. Maybe once it's washed it'll ease up? It better; I'm damn well not ripping back now! At any rate I'm enjoying working on this pattern to the point that I started thinking -- and you know how dangerous that is.

In my stash, in some of the plastic bins in the top of the closet, I have a bunch of Caron Jewel Box yarn. I'm wondering how this afghan would look in an almost monochromatic look in Jewel Box, using a larger hook of course; I have Pearl, which is creamy white with an iridescent thread; Moonstone, which is creamy white with a gold thread; and Amber, which is golden yellow with a gold thread. If I did the afghan mostly in Pearl and Moonstone, with just a few accents of the Amber ... I'm thinking it might make a great Christmas gift for The Girl Who Loves Pink. OK, I do realize it's not pink, but white and gold are traditionally princess colors, right? So that should work just fine for her. What do ya'll think? Annie? Beth? Anyone else who reads this? Alternatively does anyone else have an alternative pattern they think would look pretty in that Jewel Box?

And Mom -- before you think I've forgotten you, your afghan is in the rotation here too! I'm just constitutionally unable to be project-monogamous ;) My aim is to finish all three afghans in plenty of time for Christmas, along with doing a Sizzle, and at least one of Marlene's modification of the Branching Out scarf, and of course I want to try socks, and I need to make Onyx a Kitty Pi to make up for heartlessly abandoning him at the vet's yesterday for them to do mean, cruel things to him ... I've got my work cut out for me.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Have you ever wondered (posted by Lani)

what you'd get when you cross a wild-eyed kitten like this one Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
with a novice knitter who obviously doesn't weave in ends quite well enough, a damp, sheepy-y smelling wool sweater blocking on a bed, and a bedroom door that doesn't always latch when it's shut? Rest easy; you needn't wonder any longer. I can totally answer this question for you today.

You get this scene of yarn-y carnage.
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Ladies (and gentlemen), I present to you the mangled remains of my Tempting sweater.
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Believe it or not, it's fixable, and I do plan to fix it -- but not right now. And before you ask, Onyx is still alive, although it was touch and go for a few minutes before my sense of humor got the better of me (and I got the camera to memorialize what a softy I am when it comes to kittens).

So anyway -- Ann, I hope your big event goes well and that you don't worry too much, and Don and Tater, I hope you continue with your respective splendid recoveries, and Mom, I hope you feel better, and for all of us, I hope that this week will be better than its beginning.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Update (posted by Ann)

Well, let's see.

Don is much better today, he had a shower which always makes you feel better and he's up in his office. Still on Vicodin, but one instead of two, and recovering nicely. Whew.

Tater got through the night just fine, and is much more mobile today. The worst thing so far is that it's raining, and he can't get his paw with the stitches wet, so I have to put a plastic bag over his paw before he goes outside. He reminds me of a colt the first time they get their legs wrapped - you know, the fancy-pants dance they do where they lift their legs up and shake them, then think they can't step on that foot? Well, Tater is doing the fancy-pants dance. Poor guy, but still whew again.

What's really bugging me is that I have to leave this afternoon. I was invited to this fancy-schmanzy seminar that my company gives (I can't remember what they call it, but it sounds impressive with words like global and executive in there somewhere) and it starts tonight and runs through Thursday. It's here in Chicago, but I have to stay close the the Northwestern University Campus since that's where it is happening. They have us booked from 7 AM to 9 or 10 every night. I keep telling myself that if I don't like what Don sounds like I can just bail out and come home, but I'm stressing. It's an honor to be invited, and I shouldn't turn it down, but I could really use for it to be next week instead of this week.

So, as usual, I'm cooking. Chicken and dumplings, etc. I might not be here, but I'll be represented well.

I'll update when I can, but it may be next weekend. I hope to collapse next weekend and go nowhere and do nothing. That sounds really good to me right now, but it's at least a week away! And I know I'll have the normal weekend stuff - cross country meets, grocery stores, etc. But if we can have no health crises it will feel like a vacation!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

One, two, three . . . . (posted by Ann)

You always hear that bad things come in threes, and I've never been much of one for superstitions but I think there may be something to it. Or at least I hope there is something to it, because then we're done around this joint.

Let's see, around the house - 1) washer & dryer, 2) hot water heater, 3) dishwasher. We've replaced the first two within the last two months, and haven't replaced the last one yet so I'm hand washing. With a fabulous MDK Ball-Band dishrag, none-the-less, but handwashing.

And in other areas, 1) airplane crash, 2) hernia, and now I have the third one on the list. Before I get to that, hernia update. Don's surgery was successful, but he had a negative reaction to the anesthesia so we were at the hospital all day. All. Day. Long. He is better today, and is definitely on the road to recovery. I know that because he's complaining a lot.

And here's #3. This morning, I left the house for 30 minutes to drop Steve off for his cross-country meet. I made the fateful decision to take the dogs with me, since they just love a "go-with". I dropped Steve off, and was driving home, maybe a quarter mile from the house, and a squirrel went across the road in front of the car carrying an apple that was bigger than his head. I laughed at the sight, and then I heard a loud banging noise.

I looked in the rear view mirror and saw Tater tumbling head over heels down the center of the road. He JUMPED out of the window of the Explorer GOING 45 MILES PER HOUR to get the squirrel. Miraculously, there was no on-coming traffic, and he picked himself up and ran to the other side of the road. The landscaping truck that was following me was far enough back they missed him. I screeched on the brakes, and left the car running with Pumpkin in it by the side of the road and went after Tater. He was so scared he wouldn't even come to me - he was shaking all over, and he'd come toward me but then he'd see or hear a car and turn and run. He ran all the way home with me behind him, so I let him in and then ran back hoping I would still find my car with my OTHER dog still in it. Both were there, so about ten minutes after that I had Tater in the car again headed for the vets office. X-Rays, exams, stitches, and he's at home with no broken bones and hopefully no lasting damage, though they've warned me he could still have internal injuries that won't show up for up to 24 hours. Steve will be sleeping on the futon on the ground floor next to him, because he's really sore and stiff, and not moving around much. He looks really pitiful with a bandage on his left front leg, and shaved spots all over where they cleaned up his road rash.

I can't believe he jumped. And then I can't believe he lived through it.

Maybe some of those old sayings are true. Certainly, God does protect a fool, or I'd have a dead dog, and I'm sure hoping about the threes. No more, please, we've had our fill around here!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

$29.11????? For real? (posted by Ann)

I'm glad I was seated.

I'm never buying yarn again, I'll just tell you what I'm making and you can send the right yarn my direction. I could use up 1/3 of your stash and you'd never miss it! Speaking of that, got anything for a baby sweater? I have a need for two more baby sweaters in short order here. Boy or girl, I don't care, I'm sure if I guess wrong someone will have one of the other sex soon enough.

I'm glad to see a cheerful post, we are getting way too medical, but speaking of medical Don's surgery tomorrow morning sometime. We're supposed to be at the hospital at 7:45 AM. I'll let everyone know when we're home. I'm actually more worried about getting him upstairs after the surgery than I am the surgery itself - Don's not a small guy. Maybe he'll be on the couch for a night. Who knows.

Now enough medical. Here's something fun - a slide show of pictures of Steve's trip this summer, including a couple of really good ones of him. I love the picture on the beach by the stump, Steve is the one standing on the left in the yellow T-shirt in case there is anyone reading this who doesn't know him.

HAve fun recuperating - and knitting!

Oops, I did it again .. (posted by Lani)

Well, Annie, you know how I wasn't going to buy any more yarn, because my stash was growing to monumental proportions and Steve was already afraid to enter the Pit of Doom a/k/a spare room? Well, um. I don't feel good, and I wanted chicken soup (note my shameless ploy for sympathy before I make my confession) and the thrift store is right by the grocery store, and I had to go to the grocery store to get parsley to make my soup because the heat purely killed my poor parsley, and, well, on the way to the grocery store I had a little accident involving my credit card and my willpower and some yarn. Would you believe that I was innocently walking by the thrift store when I was overcome by wool fumes, and I staggered inside hoping for relief only to be attacked by evil, manipulatory bags of wool, but despite my desperate plight I was steadfast in my determination not to buy yarn until I slipped, and my credit card flew out of my purse and into the hands of the cashier, and before I could say NO! NO, DON'T DO THAT! I DON'T NEED MORE YARN! she swiped that sucker and forced the yarn into my hands and shoved me out the door? No? Damnit. I was afraid of that.

So, I have a little confession to make, and it's probably not going to come as a surprise at this point that it involves yarn. Er, rather a lot of yarn, actually. Wool, and silk, and alpaca, and linen, and camel hair (seriously!), and I mean, who could resist that? It's more than a woman could be expected to take, seeing bags stuffed full of that kind of woolly goodness marked down to $1.98, don't you think?

Yeah. A picture's worth a thousand words, so we'll start with this one.

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Lotsa yarn, eh? That's today's haul, yep.

Let's break it down some.
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See that pile of green in the upper left-hand corner there? It's darker than it looks in this picture, 9 skeins of a forest green tweed-y wool that's absolutely gorgeous, it's been whispering to me and begging to be knit into a sweater. Just to its right are 2 skeins of teal alpaca and 1 hidden skein of cream; I'm not sure what they want to be, but it'll be soft as a whisper whatever it is. All around it are bits and pieces; green Pingouin Escapade (a wool/linen/acrylic blend); blue Pinguoin Tweed Rustique, some Pinguoin Tweed that says it's 85% wool, 15% vinyon -- wtf is vinyon? whatever it is, I have 2.5 skeins of it; Regia Nomotta sock yarn, 2 full skeins in a beautiful fall brown with flecks of rust and gold and green, a skein of a purple mix and some small balls of other colors. Just to the right of the Regia, see that camel-colored yarn there? Here, look closer:
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Yep, there on the left, that would be Poil de Chameau, or camel hair (51% camel, 49% wool). And see the skein of Euroflax Linen in a lovely blue? Can't wait to work with that, I feel a MDK dishtowel coming on. The white towards the upper right? That would be 5 skeins of Paton Linen Look, an interesting blend of acrylic, cotton, linen and wool that just screams summery tank-top to me. Just below and to the right of it, the off-white boucle is Jaeger Crinkle-Spun, 95% wool 5% nylon. And there's more ...
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Over on the right, in the middle, that ice blue gorgeousness? That's a bit over 5 skeins of Reynolds Orient Express silk/acrylic blend, and it's incredible in both color and texture, just incredible. Behind it are 4 skeins of pink Samband Lava Icelandic wool. Then there are 3 skeins of Fleishers Mannikin Tweed wool; 3 large unmarked skeins and a couple of balls of rust-colored wool; 2 skeins of a mauve-y tweed wool; a ball of a yellow and green tweed wool; 3 skeins of Columbia Minerva tweed wool & shetland wool; a skein of beige and green tweedy Armstrong & Dundee wool/mohair blend; 2 skeins of peachy Brunswick Coolspun, a linen-acrylic blend; and I'm not listing all of it by far, you can see that, but you get the drift. It's a lotta yarn. And see, the thing is, that isn't bad, right? Great score! Until you see this. I love you all so I'm doing thumbnails, don't click them unless you feel strong.


The stash. Actually part of the stash. There's 3 afghans-in-progress worth of stash not shown here, plus a box under the table that today's haul is on. I bought a covered picnic-type basket with some vague idea that I could hide what I did today by stuffing it all into the basket. It's a nice basket. I don't think it's gonna work.

The up side is I only spent, ya'll get your smelling salts or a stiff drink and sit down now, $29.11. Seriously. Yes, for all of it, including the basket. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, I love my thrift store.

The down side is, I better get my butt in gear, because if this yarn starts to plan a revolution we're toast. We're badly outnumbered.

Oh yeah and -- Tempting is done! I gave up and crocheted a neckband, and I'm actually pretty happy with it. It's wool so i won't be wearing it immediately, but it'll definitely be wearable this fall. It's wet and blocking now, pics tomorrow I swear. I'm also done with the T&Q ripple afghan, at least the ripple part of it; I'm going to sleep on it and decide whether or not to add a border or stick a fork in it and call it done.

So, how's your week at home going?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Oy vey, and Hurray! (posted by Lani)

Poor Don. I feel for him, honestly I do, and I'm glad that they were able to schedule him for surgery so quickly (although I'm sure it's not soon enough for him) and I sincerely hope that he makes a very quick recovery. Hernias, from all that I hear, are NOT fun. Hopefully he's got some of the Good Stuff to take until Friday; if we were closer I'd share, because I have a metric buttload of pain medication right now ;)

As for me, sit down while I tell you a funny story. I went to the urologist this morning, still in a LOT of pain; I'd had to not take vicodin this morning so that I could drive without running up onto too many sidewalks and such. I got there, went in, she came in, we talked. I told her this wasn't OUR kidney stone, it was MY kidney stone, and I didn't want it anymore and would she please take it out, I don't care how, don't bother me with technicalities, just get rid of it. She made soothing noises at the crazy woman and when I wound down, she told me they'd schedule me for surgery ASAP, don't worry, we'll take care of you, we've given it a chance to pass on its own, let's get it out. But they forgot to get a urine sample when you came in this morning, let me get the nurse busy on scheduling and you go give me a specimen.

So -- I did. I gave her a specimen, and a kidney stone. Yup, passed it right there in the doctor's office. And it was big, and it was nasty-spiky-jagged looking, no wonder I hurt. So, hallelujah is all I can think of to say. I'm still hurting, which she says is normal; in her words, "your innards are one big bruise right now." There are no more stones in my kidneys though, this bad actor was the only one, so once the innard-bruising heals up (she says a couple of days of serious soreness and then it'll taper off) I'll be ME again. Let me just say hallelujah again.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Bad mojo all around (posted by Ann)

Well, it has spread to Chicago. No, not a kidney stone, and not even me. Don is scheduled for hernia surgery on Friday. He was in pain, and then in more pain, so we were at the doctor when he opened this morning. He sent us to a surgeon, who confirmed the diagnosis and so here we are, ready to go on Friday. Don's first surgery - ever. I think the first time he's ever been in a hospital, other than to pick me up or wait for me, since he was born.

So, in sympathy, I cooked today. Homemade lasagna, chocolate orange panna cotta, fried chicken, rice and gravy, various salads, pine nut tart, and I'm sure there was more but it all blurs together. And then I found out my dishwasher is broken, so I washed. And washed. And washed. I'm not cooking for a week, and I'm certainly not washing any more dishes.

Maybe you can have your procedure on Friday too, and we'll all be recuperating over the weekend! Surely we are owed some good mojo in both our houses.

Your boring black suit is on the way to you, it should be there by next Tuesday. Buy a white shirt, and you're set. Just think, you'll look just like me! I wear so many plain black suits that Don got me a Johnny Cash CD. 3rd sister had me buying fuchsia instead, which is a great improvement.

Feel better, and we'll work on that on this end too.

Monday, September 04, 2006

I'm Jealous! (posted by Lani)

You and 3rd Sister sound to have had an incredibly wonderful weekend, and both of you look glowingly happy in that picture. I swear to God Charlotte looks more fabulous with every passing year, doesn't she? And she's so thin! Wow! What fabulous bags she's making, too, both your purse (how cool, with pockets and tags and all yet!) and that fantastic tote she's -- well, toting. As for me ... well, let me sum up my weekend like this.

The top 5 things I hate:
5. Urinary tract infections.
4. Throwing up.
3. Hospital emergency rooms.
2. Pain.
and the #1 thing I hate is:
1. Throwing up AGAIN in a hospital emergency room, doubled up in pain AGAIN, AGAIN because of a kidney stone, only THIS TIME it had temporarily blocked my ureter and among other wonderful things caused me to develop a nice juicy UTI.
So, yeah, guess what I did on Labor Day? While normal people were at the beach, or having a picnic, or doing fun stuff with their families? Why, funny you should ask! I was, in fact, busily engaged in doing the thing I hate most in the world (at least right now).

Yes, I'm home. Yes, the stupid kidney stone came home with me, as opposed to your mountains of Marshall Fields goodness. Yes, I'm ok, at least loosely speaking; doped up on phenergan and percocet, shot full of antibiotics, and grumpy as a grizzly bear with a whole mouthful of sore teeth. And yes, I have every intention, at my urologist visit on Wednesday, of making plans to get rid of this stone no matter what it takes. Obviously I've given it too nice a home here and it has no intention of vacating on its own, so it's going to get served with eviction papers ASAP.

I'm sure it's equally obvious that no knitting or crocheting was accomplished in this house today, and odds are good none will be accomplished tomorrow either since merely typing is proving to be quite a challenge to both my brain and my fingers. I hope you weren't expecting pictures of any FO's from me any more than I was from you! Although honestly I'm thinking maybe I could finish at least the ripple portion of the T&Q afghan tomorrow while lazing around; even doped up it's only a ripple after all. Maybe after that's done I could cast on for a Heartbreakingly Cute Kimono; that looks simple enough even to knit on drugs (I've got a great chance of being forced to eat those words, I know). As for the mitred square or moderne log cabin question: did you see this Moderne? Fabulous, isn't it? I think that's my favorite of all the Moderne's I've seen. It tempts me, it does. All in all though the mitred square owns my heart. I WILL make one of those for myself, probably in Noro Silk Garden or some cheaper Noro-ish yarn, once I whip the WIPs into shape and deplete my stash enough to justify buying even one more skein of yarn.

And Annie -- I am tickled at least as pink as your walls that you liked Geisha Girl so much that she's already framed and hung. I never, ever expected her to have that honorable a place in your home, but she and you both look pleased -- and so am I :) I have absolutely no plans of doing another big cross-stitch any time in the near future, but then I've said that before, haven't I?

Lots to tell! (posted by Ann)

What a great weekend! First, I have to tell you about the belle of the ball. The most beautiful woman in my house. The envy of all who enter. Of course, I mean Geisha Girl. She had lots of potential, but after framing she is a real knockout. And I have her in the place of honor in my dining room, where she is what you see when you come in the front door. You got the nicest compliment ever when Steve said "Where did you get that?" and I said that you made it. Then he said, in a shocked tone of voice, "She made it? Wow!" I expect that 3rd Sister may be contacting you soon to start a campaign aimed at getting one of her own.

We had a great visit. Let's see - we saw King Tut, went to dinner at my favorite Italian restaurant, Tratorria No. 10, went to see Wicked, and then 3rd Sister and David stayed downtown in one of my friend's apartments overnight. And that was all on Friday! They hung out downtown on Saturday while I ran errands etc., then we joined up for sailing Saturday night. It was a beautiful night, with plenty of wind and calm seas. Then we went back downtown yesterday for shopping at Marshall Fields, where I bought out the store with Charlotte cheering me on. The funniest thing was that we dropped David off by the side of the road with no idea how he was going to occupy his time. Turns out he wanted to go see Wrigley Field, and - guess what - there was a game on! He got a ticket and got to watch the Cubs play! Great timing, huh?

I got a wonderful present - 3rd sister made me a purse. She's been busy making them for her friends, and I was lucky enough to be on that list. Look how cute it is, and check out the monogram! It's lined with a stripe, and it has pockets that fit my BlackBerry and everything. She got some tape with her initials on it, so inside it says "A Genuine CAT Bag" and has a monogram of a kitty. I love it!!

We decided we wanted a picture of all of us together, so the closest we could get to you was the Geisha Girl. Look at her tote bag - I want one of those too!!

While we were playing, Don was busy. The garage/airplane hangar has a roof, complete with shingles, as well as house wrap and some siding. It rained today, so he got a break.

It's back to work and school for us tomorrow. At least I'm not traveling this week - I'm on strike. Last week I had bad travel. Very bad. Very, very bad. Let's just say I stayed overnight in two cities I didn't plan on staying in, and my luggage wound up in a different city than I did. Twice.

Between my travel problems and visitors this weekend, that's why you haven't heard from me. I know that I promised FO pictures, and I can see that you might be confused not seeing any. Actually, what I meant to say was that eventually I would have FO pictures. I'm surprised I have to explain, really, it all seems so clear to me . . . .

I did consider sending you the Mason Dixon Knitting book, but I'm not quite ready to part with it. You'll have to settle for the kimono instructions I e-mailed you, I'm still absorbing miters and log cabins and trying to decide which sounds like more fun. More to come this week, maybe the FO's will even make an appearance.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Temptation is a Bitch (posted by Lani)

Gah. Tempting is kicking my ass, and I'm pissed about it -- so pissed, in fact, that I stuffed the stupid sweater, needles and all, into its bag; opened the door to the Pit of Doom; heaved bag, sweater, needles, stitch markers and all into the room with all my might; and slammed the door. It can just sit in there and think about its misdeeds for a while before I'll touch it again, and maybe next time it'll behave. What's wrong? Well, I hate the neckband in this particular yarn (Debbie Bliss Merino Aran) in the k1p1 rib that the pattern calls for. I hate it in seed stitch. I hate it in k2p2. I've done about 10" of neckband in each of those and none of them have been what I'm looking for, which means I've ripped back 3 times, and attaching the damned thing is a royal pain in the butt, and I'm over it. O-V-E-R it.

So I'm working on the T&Q chenille afghan and should finish it tomorrow, but even there finish is a relative word, because hi! My name is Lani, and I'm a dumbass. No, I may not believe airline ticket agents when they tell me my flight is going to be an hour late, but I believe I can eyeball a stack of 12 skeins of yarn and decide to make an afghan wider than any reasonable human would choose to make it and still believe I've got enough yarn to make an afghan and not a very wide lapghan. So this is a ripple 'ghan, and it's nice and wide, probably doublebed size, and plush and heavy and fabulous, but it isn't going to be nearly long enough. And I'm almost out of yarn. And there's no way I'll match dyelots. I'm thinking that what I'll do is buy a couple of skeins of a contrast color, turn the ghan so the ripples run up and down, make a border that squares off the ripply edges and trims the with the contrast color ... does that make any sense? I think it would actually look pretty neat. Almost like I wasn't a dumbass and planned it that way from the start. This is probably more proof that I'm a dumbass, but I've convinced myself it'll work and by gum I'm going to try it.

Since Tempting is in time-out for bad behavior and I'm in knitting withdrawals (crochet apparently doesn't satisfy those) I also cast on and swatched for Sizzle in some stash Schachenmayer Blue Jeans cotton. It works up nicely and I got gauge by going down to size 5 needles (apparently I knit more loosely than anyone has a right to knit), but -- you knew there had to be a but, right? -- I've only got 6 skeins of the yarn. Which is exactly, precisely, what the pattern calls for. And the comments I've read on this indicate that it's a little short in the torso, which I'm not. And not having even one yard of extra yarn is tempting fate anyway. Sooo ... I'm thinking maybe I'll try to break my dumbass theme and go stashdiving again tomorrow for something in a nice dk-ish weight.

In other news we survived Ernesto quite handily, although there was quite a bit of street flooding and power flickering and our back yard was totally littered with branches and other debris. It's made for a very quiet weekend thus far, though; neither of us have had any desire to fight flooded streets and go anywhere, so we've laid around the house, watched some movies, read some books, and snoozed in the sun. The cats have enjoyed it. Which brings me to my closing thought:

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In my next life I want to be a cat.