27 January 2008

B is for ...

Beth Brown-Reinsel! Seen here with me (Bridget, if you are counting B's), at yesterday's class to learn how to knit fair isle, by knitting a sample-sized tam. (I apologize for the grainy picture, someone else took it, and it was the best one of the two they took. Yeah, like mine would be better ...)

As you may or may not remember, last January, I took a class with Beth at Loop, one of the yarn stores near my house, where we knit a mini-gansey to learn those techniques. It was such a great class, and I thought she was such a wonderful teacher, that I decided if there were ever other ones offered, I'd try to take them. When I saw the announcement for her visit to the store this year, I immediately signed up for the fair isle class, as one of my knitting New Year's resolutions was to learn fair isle.

The class started yesterday at 10 a.m., and ran until 5 p.m. Which, when you looked at it on paper, seemed like a long time. It zipped by! There were about 12 people in the class, and everyone was roughly at the same level, which made it nice, 'cause there weren't any know-it-all types who tried to "correct" her. She really is a great teacher, and such a genuinely nice person, that whatever she is showing you seems perfectly logical.

Beth mentioned at the start of the class that we would not have time to finish our sample tams during the class, but that she was guessing we'd get a good start. By the end of the day, most people were at least halfway through the pattern, and everyone was so excited! I can see how fair isle knitting would become addictive, because you knit one row, and then you think, "One more, so I can see how it's going to work" - except then you say that every row, and all of a sudden, you've been knitting for an hour and a half ...

At the end of the class, we all placed what we had knitted so far on a table at the shop together, and it was a revelation. We were all using exactly the same pattern, and the same brand of yarn, but everyone had chosen their own colors - which made each hat appear to be completely different from the others! Amazing.

Here's what I managed to knit under Beth's tutelage (heh, heh, I used "tutelage"):

I am really happy with it. Beth mentioned that my tension was especially even, which made me feel good, because usually when someone is talking to me about tension, there is nothing good about it ...

For those of you who may be appalled that I took at class at Loop, instead of at Rosie's, just get your knickers untwisted, will you? Both of them are nearby, and I spend way more time (and $$) at Rosie's in general. And even the most absolutely perfect yarn store in the world does not offer everything you want all of the time, and I wanted to take another class with Beth Brown-Reinsel. FYI, I am also starting the Krazy Kolors class this Thursday evening at Rosie's, so I am hardly neglecting one place for another. Geez.

Oh, and Carol - I know that you and Veronik are friends, but some of the rest of us know famous people too, so there!

And, on top of everything else, I think I ended up with an excellent entry for "B" in the ABC-Along ...

20 January 2008


One of the best things about long weekends, is that you can accomplish things without having to use up every minute of your long weekend time. I managed to get quite a bit done yesterday and today.

It took part of yesterday afternoon, and most of today to turn this:

Into this:

Still some work to be done, but the bulk has been either put away where it belongs in the first place, or tossed/recycled/added to the stack of things to be given away. I don't know about you, but getting rid of clutter always makes me feel like I've really accomplished something. This room is on our third floor, and is where the computer, knitting supplies, and three bookcases are. It's also where we put all the wrapping supplies, boxes, and anything/everything else related to Christmas gifts, so it gets really cluttered! It's so nice to be able to walk through the room without stepping over stuff ...

While I was working on this, The Tim was on the first floor, putting a fresh coat of paint on the walls, and I would occasionally interrupt my decluttering to work on a big pot of butternut squash soup, which turned out even better than I was hoping. It was a good day for soup, since it is really wintry - or as I like to say, freezingly cold.

It's been quite the homebody weekend, wouldn't you say?

On the knitting front, on Friday evening, I managed to get more done on the reknitting of my Clapotis, and have now gone one repeat past where I had to rip it out. I like the way it's looking, and am hoping that I can make some real progress on it this week. I also pulled out the yarn for a pair of socks I'm planning to make for a Christmas 2008 gift. Yep, next Christmas! It's part of my master plan to make certain gifts for certain individuals who shall remain nameless, as some of them read this blog. If I post any pictures at all, it will likely be on Ravelry, since none of the recipients are knitters, so they won't stumble across items there and ruin the surprise.

However, I am distracted from all of my other projects by my love for the pattern A Kimono-Style Cardigan to Knit, by Ann Budd, in the latest issue of Piecework. Have you seen it? Well, it's a nicely designed sweater, which has cables (always a plus for me), and the photo in the magazine shows it knitted in a beautiful green yarn. And since it's kimono-style, there are no button bands to knit and hope you got the buttonholes and the buttons lined up correctly ...

I have decided that I would like to meet Ann Budd. I find it hard to believe that she is one single person, with all of the patterns, books, and articles that have her name on them. On the other hand, she has to be a single person, because her work is so consistently good, and I think that would be impossible to do that on a continual basis with, say, three people who all worked under the name "Ann Budd" (like all of the people who wrote the Nancy Drew mysteries under the name of Carolyn Keene). However, meeting her is unlikely, as I am not planning any trips to Loveland, Colorado any time soon (where the Interweave Press headquarters are located), and I am even more unlikely to be submitting a pattern I've created to any of the Interweave Press magazines, which would provide the opportunity for us to cross paths.

Anyway, it would be nice to meet her. I'll bet she is a nice, regular person ... who just happens to be amazing!

14 January 2008

The First Letter

I joined this year's ABC-Along, and it took me a while to find something to post about for the letter A. Then it hit me -
A is for ALA!

The American Library Association (ALA) had its Annual Midwinter Conference this year in Philadelphia. This past Saturday, I had lunch with three friends of mine that I don't get to see very often, who were attending the conference. We had a blast, catching up on everyone's news, telling stories about "interesting" patrons, and learning how two in the group were zombies and/or vampires on Facebook ...

(In the front, with the purple sweater, is Erin; behind her, is Becky; across from Becky, Louise; and, in front of Louise, in the blue sweater, c'est moi!)

I would like to be better about keeping in touch with everyone, but I go in spurts, at best. Fortunately, no one in this group gets bent out of shape when you fall off the radar for a while.

Then came Sunday ...

Yesterday was Sebastian's 14th birthday, and to celebrate, he decided he wanted to go bowling, since that had been successful last year. It was such fun, and I was quite proud of myself, as I managed to get a strike, and actually win the first game! In any event, I don't think the Pro Bowlers' Tour will be calling anytime soon ... before we left the bowling alley, we all crammed into one of those photo booths for a picture, which of course was ridiculous. I was kneeling on the floor, and in each picture all you see is the top of my head (my best side??) ...

Afterwards, we came back here and had pumpkin pie and Seb opened his gifts. I pointed out to The Tim, Karen, and Seb that so far this year, we've gotten together every Sunday, and given Seb gifts! (Then quickly pointed out that he should not get used to it ...)

Not a bad way to spend a weekend, you know?

10 January 2008

Booking Through Thursday: May I Introduce ...

1. How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?

2. Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquaintance?

When I first read this, I thought I would probably not respond, because I can't decide if I have a single favorite author, or if I would be able to have a short list, as opposed ot a long one.

Thinking about it some more, I decided that I did have an answer. I decided that I would write about the first time I became aware of an author that I really liked.

A bit of background: my parents were avid readers. They were also the type who felt that it was OK for us to read whatever was around to read. (For example, I am willing to bet that I was the only grade-schooler to read Valley of the Dolls; OK, I didn't finish it, because I thought it was boring, because why would someone keep taking medicine???) I had very few "kid" books, other than the Little Golden Books, and the Readers' Digest Abridged Classics, which were hand-me-downs from my sisters.

But one year for Christmas, when I was around 8 or 10 years old, my parents gave me a copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I remember devouring that book! It was the first thing I had read that was "epic" and dealt with so many primary characters over a long period of time. I decided then that Louisa May Alcott must have just been a fascinating person, and though I did not/have not read everything she wrote, I did read at least two more. When I was older, I read a biography of her (the title of which escapes me), and found her family interesting as well.

One year when we made our annual summer pilgrimage to visit my mother's cousin in Boston (she was the rich relative), she took us to Concord, and we got to tour Louisa May Alcott's home. I just loved that, and felt like I was walking through the book!

09 January 2008


I just realized I never posted about the books I read last month. Lest you feel at a loss as to what I may think about whatever books I read, here is my:

December Book Report

Two books for December, which was quite an accomplishment for me, since I was busy with Christmas preparations, and then during my Christmas break from work - when I thought I would just read and knit non-stop, then ended up just coughing - I felt to lousy to read much at all.

First up: Atonement, by Ian McEwan, which was the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award winner. First let me say that it was a complete coincidence that I read this book during the same month the movie was released. It was the next book on my list for the Book Awards Reading Challenge (because of course I had to read them in order!), and I am sure if I had tried to plan it to happen at the same time the movie showed up, something would have kept it from happening.

Anyway, I enjoyed this book, pretty much for the descriptive abilities of Mr. McEwan. I did not care for Briony Tallis, the main character, whose decision as a young girl on a certain night ruins the lives of so many others around her. She is the kind of child/person who just annoys me to no end, and her actions in the book didn't help things. The two other main characters in the book did not really appeal to me either. Briony's older sister, Cecelia, seemed like an incredibly tiresome person, the kind who would make me wish I was having a root canal if I had to spend much time with her. Robbie, a family friend, and Cecelia's love, was just too self-involved (albeit with good reason) to make me really care about him.

Yet I loved reading the book. The language was so evocative, that I felt that I could actually see the places and people being described. I have not had the opportunity to visit England or France, and was not alive during the second World War, but Mr. McEwan's prose made it seem right in front of me, and that kept me reading.

The second book was my last choice for the Armchair Traveler Reading Challenge. I had originally chosen another title, and even an alternate, but The Tim brought home an Advance Reading Copy of a book that takes place in Ireland, and since it was the same place I had been planning to "travel," I decided to read it instead.

An Irish Country Village, by Patrick Taylor, is a sequel to An Irish Country Doctor, but I don't feel that not reading the first book was problematic in enjoying the second one. It tells the story of Dr. Barry Laverty, who is beginning his assistantship under Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly, an established doctor (and character) in Ballybucklebo (near Belfast), Northern Ireland. The story takes place in 1964, and Barry has just experienced the death of a patient that may have been due to his misdiagnosis. The bulk of the book takes place in the time period when he is waiting to hear the postmortem results, and also trying to regain the trust and respect of the people in Ballybucklebo.

This was an enjoyable read, while also portraying characters that seemed a lot more real than those portrayed in other works about life in a small Irish town. It is also interesting, because it takes place right at the time when women were beginning to challenge the status quo. Barry's girlfriend, Patricia, is an engineering student - in itself unusual - who is hoping to win a scholarship to Cambridge for postgraduate study. Taylor manages to make Barry believable as a man who, on the one hand, wants his girlfriend to stay close, so that they can marry soon, but also understands how important it is to Patricia to continue her education and have a career.

I liked this book enough to want to pick up the first one, and give it a try.

New Year, New Reading Challenges

I have signed up for two more challenges, both of which are relatively low-key in that they let the reader decide how they want to structure things, based on their interests, time, etc.

First, The Short Story Reading Challenge

I'm still finishing up my list for this one, but I should have it worked out by the weekend. This one appealed to me, because whenever I read short stories, I enjoy them, but I seldom choose them on my own.

Then, there's The Jane Austen Mini-Challenge

For this one, I have decided to read Mansfield Park, and Lesley Castle, at a minimum, and I hope to watch all of the adaptations that are being shown on "Masterpiece Theater" starting this coming Sunday (around here, at least). I enjoy reading Jane Austen, and I'm looking forward to becoming familiar with more of her work.

07 January 2008

Philosophy and Bread

Alas, not only a Monday, but Christmastime is now officially over, which always makes me feel a little sad. I guess due to events in my life, I tend to wonder as I put things away if everyone who means something to me will be around for the next Christmas. I don't get morbid about it, I just realize that a year can seem like a lifetime, or a minute, and it makes me feel thoughtful.

Anyway, now that I've gotten all philosophical on you, let me show you one of the things I did this weekend:

Garlic Potato Bread

I saw the recipe for this bread here, and it really stuck in my brain. Possibly because the words "garlic," "potato," and "bread" in one sentence are like a nirvana of language for me. I did change a few things, like adding a cup of whole wheat flour, and kneading it for about 10 minutes. My dough also needed more water than the recipe states, but who knows if that would always be the case. I am not a master bread baker, but I do know that it can be an inexact science, so I just figured I'd try and see what happened. As you can see, two loaves became one and a half loaves pretty quickly! (And your house smells good too! Unless of course, you don't like garlic. But then you shouldn't be making this bread anyway, Sherlock ...)

It was even declared delicious by The Tim (who is pretty close to being a master bread maker), who used it to make a grilled cheese and spinach sandwich for lunch today, and also by Sebastian, who ate two pieces when he was here yesterday. I have therefore deemed it a successful recipe, and will make it again sometime.

Speaking of Sebastian, yesterday we had our Christmas celebration with him and his mom, Karen. They showed us pictures of their trip to Oaxaca, and brought us very nice gifts ... which I assumed were our Christmas gifts, but we got one of those also! I will try to take some pictures to post, since seeing everything would make my descriptions of them make more sense. Seb also brought us a print he had made with his father in his studio, which was really amazing. We received number 1 out of 4 of the prints made. Seb has decided that he really enjoys printmaking, so he's hoping to get supplies to continue here at home.


One of the blogs I regularly read is Romi's, and she has what she calls "Monday's Musing." It's usually a quote, or something that she has experienced recently that has made her stop and think. Today's (though it's dated January 6) really struck me. As I read it, I kept thinking what it must be like to write something that you want someone else to read after you are dead, and how the person who wrote this managed to write what seemed like a conversation with friends. Maybe because it's the eve of the New Hampshire primary, I was especially struck by the whole thing. I don't claim to have any of the answers, but I do know that most of us tend to forget that every single person involved in the war in Iraq, on all sides of things, is special to at least one other person in the world. It doesn't hurt to be reminded that every soldier, every citizen - even every insurgent - is a person.

I just hope that the presidential candidates have someone to remind them of that fact. All of the time.

04 January 2008

Mon Dieu!

Ladies and gentlemen, and children of all ages, I give you the first FO (finished object) of 2008:

Pattern: LeSlouch by Wendy Bernard
Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns Merino Stripes; all but about 4 yards of one skein
Needles: US 8 and US 9 double points
Started: December 30, 2007
Finished: January 1, 2008

Who'da thunk it?? Never, ever (really not ever) have I even been close to finishing something this early in the New Year! I received two skeins of the yarn as a Christmas gift from my friend Sharrie (also a knitter), and decided I would make a hat, or mittens, or something else for cold weather over the Christmas break. Of course, best laid plans and all that - I got sick, and didn't even feel good enough to knit (mon Dieu indeed)!

A week ago today, I decided I felt good enough to at least start something, so I initially started to make mittens. I made it pretty far through the first mitten too, but I just didn't like the way it looked. So I ripped it out, and started poking around for something else. Now if you are like me, you come across free patterns, and you save them "for later" and then either don't remember you saved them in the first place, or never go back to even see what's there. I decided to see if any of my saved patterns looked appealing, and that's when I was reintroduced to Le Slouch.

Of course, I didn't have the right needles, so I had to wait to get them. Then I got sidetracked doing some things around the house, so it wasn't until Sunday evening that I even got started. I worked on the hat most of Sunday evening, a little bit during the day on Monday, and in a couple of long spurts Tuesday, weaving in the ends during the 10:00 news. I am thrilled with how it turned out, and the best part? It even fits my [apparently freakishly huge] head! I'm so proud of myself I could just spit, you know?

Here's a side view. The colors in the picture above are truer than they are here, but it gives you an idea of how much it actually slouches ...

The Garden Kitty approves, and thought it also smelled pretty good. (I'm not going to pursue that.)

The successful completion of the hat also was somewhat comforting, as also on Friday, I ended up ripping out the small amount of my Clapotis that I had already knitted. I failed to write notes to myself so that I would know what I had done, as far as twisting/not twisting the stitches in the pattern, and when I picked it up again after about a month, I could not figure it out no matter what I did. I knitted, ripped, and knitted and ripped, the same six rows on three different occasions, and they just did not in any way, shape or form match up to what was already there. Grrr!!

So I shall start again this weekend, and will definitely write notes to myself on the pattern so that I know what I was doing. (This is all particularly lame, seeing as how I'm the one who organized the KAL ...)

But enough about me and my knitting - this amuses me greatly. I think "Choking" is my favorite ...

01 January 2008


Happy New Year!