25 April 2013

Here's a Shocker - Another FO!

Thank you for all of your thoughtful and supportive comments on my recent post about recent events.  And I want to point out that I wasn't saying that I didn't think people should be offended at all, I meant that I was not going out of my way to personally offend anyone.  I have some friends and acquaintances that think very differently from me on issues, and I didn't want them to think I was trashing them.  I don't agree with them, but they have a right to their opinions - no matter how "wrong" we each think the other one is!

Anyhoo, a little while ago, I bragged that I had some FOs to share with you, and so far have only gotten to one of them.  So it's well past time for another.  Say hello to the lasting-way-too-long-to-knit Cranberry Waffle Socks:

Cranberry Waffle Socks
Hooray, they're finished!

Cranberry Waffle Socks (truer color)
This is really a truer representation of the color

I started these socks in June 2012, and just finished them in early April 2013!  Ridiculous.  But it gets better - upon finishing the second sock, I realized that I made a size that was too small for myself!  Sigh.  Who knows why I did that, it's so long ago that I started them, and I know no one with small feet (at least not at the moment).  

Anyway, these poor socks were the victim of extreme knitting malaise, and arthritis in my right hand.  They were completely abandoned for months at a time.  The end result is pleasing, if too small.  But I'm glad to have them finished, and I am pleased with how nice they look.  Now if I can just find someone with small feet who might like them ...

The details:

Project:  Cranberry Waffle Socks
Pattern:  Blueberry Waffle Socks (Ravelry link - originally from the Knitlist)
Yarn:  Regia Classic 4-ply (discontinued - I've had this in the stash for a while)
Needles:  1.5US
Comments:  I really like this pattern - it's easy to remember, and makes a lovely, cushy sock.  I've used it for a few pairs at this point, and the result has always been a good one.  I would recommend it to new sock knitters as well as those with experience.

Even though these took me way too long to finish, I still love knitting socks.  They are nice and portable, and for me at least, they are good regular projects to have to work on along with other more involved projects.

And apparently with these, I'll need to do a Cinderella-type test to find the foot that they actually fit ... ;-)

22 April 2013

Earth Day

Love your Mother

19 April 2013

Something to Consider

Before I go any further, I want to let you know that this is not one of my usual blog posts.  Things that have happened this week have made me want to write this.  It is strictly my own opinion, and you are not in any way expected or required to agree.  So feel free to stop reading, because I would rather that than upsetting or deeply offending anyone.

First - the whole thing with the vote to increase background checks for gun owners.  I don't understand why this would be a problem.  If you are a "good guy" what do you have to hide in a background check?  I have had to have them in order to be considered for various jobs over the years, and though I always hope I don't become famous or run for office - because like most people there are things in my past that I am embarrassed by and/or ashamed of - I know that I have nothing to really worry about, or that I don't need to worry that any "secrets" will be found.  And though I am not someone in favor of hunting unless it is literally the only way you can survive, I cannot see the reason that any hunter needs an assault weapon.   And as for the argument that "guns don't kill people, people kill people," a) give me a break, and b) guns aren't made to be benign.  Unlike a knife that can be used to cut things, or a rope that can hold something together/pull things, a gun exists to be shot.

This particular image sums it up for  me.

Second - the deadly explosions at the Boston Marathon.  This is truly horrible, no matter what your "theories" are.  But I not only hate that these things happen in the first place, I hate the immediate blaming and fake patriotism that immediately occurs.  I am not in any way discounting the fact that what happened was wrong, evil, and that the victims were innocent.  I want the perpetrators to be caught and to face the consequences.  What really bothers me is the sort of vigilante mentality that takes over.  Usually from people who are condemning said mentality in all other situations.  Sadly, there are parts of the world where such things happen several times a day.  It is no less horrible and sad there, and the victims are no less innocent. It's like people on the news who say, "We never thought that kind of thing could happen HERE."  There are no 100% safe places, and regardless what anyone would like to think, there never have been.

Third - the explosion at the fertilizer factory in Texas.  An entire town pretty much wiped out.  The victims guilty only of their choice of where they lived.  And yet - it's barely a mention in news stories, or on news sites.  Devastation is devastation, and none of the victims in that explosion are any less important than any person who was at the Boston Marathon.

And finally - if you are even still reading - I would like to share something that my mother told me the morning after my father died, when I was 13 years old.  We got up that morning, and I wondered what we should do.  My mother reminded me that even though our world had been turned upside down, for most other people in the world, it was just a regular day.  And for some people, it was actually one of the best days of their lives.  Babies would be born.  Someone might get a job they wanted.  Maybe people were getting married, or engaged.  An acceptance letter to a desired school might be in the mail that day.  Or someone might just wake up and think that it felt like a good day.  She told me that there was nothing wrong with being happy, even when other people were sad, and that no one should feel guilty because of it.

At the time, this seemed like a revelation, though of course it was proven true when I looked around me.  And I am sharing that with you now, because I think it is important to remember, on any given day.  I truly believe that it's possible to be 100% empathetic, and still be a relatively happy person.  If not, why would any of us get up in the morning at all?

Thus endeth my rant-filled post.  As I said in the beginning, I did not write this to accuse anyone of anything, or to go out of my way to offend anyone.  But I've gone through the entire week wanting to say it, and I appreciate that I can.

Have a good weekend.  Remember to do something for those that need your help, and be grateful for what you can.  And always remember that for the most part, the world is filled with good and caring people.  Who are not Pollyannas.  And who get up every single day hoping for a good outcome.

14 April 2013

Moving on to This Year ...

Now that I finally showed you the final project of 2012, I think it only makes sense to move on to the current year, don't you?

Granted, I started this one in 2012 ... the Sunday before we left for Ireland (that's October to be specific), with the completely misguided idea that I would be able to finish it before we left (in 5 days?  Really?), or during the trip.  Without saying much more, I think we can all figure out how this idea ended ...

But, I did love the yarn and the pattern I used, and I really wanted to finish it, so once all of the busy and crazy of the holiday season was finished, and I stopped being sick, I buckled down and got it finished.  Of course, only when I blocked it did I realize that I had lost count a couple of times without realizing it, so the eyelet "spine" is crooked.  I was not going to rip it all out and fix things, and to be honest, I was just proud that I finished it and couldn't wait to wear it.

Since it was my Ireland shawl, I gave it the name of the "Ath-Udair Shawl"  Ath-Udair is Gaelic for "next time," and I know I'll take it with me and wear it on our next trip to Ireland ... whenever that may be.

Ath-Uair Shawl completed
Blocking, when I discovered the "oops!"

This shows the shading and lovely drape better

The details:

Project:  Ath-Udair Shawl
Pattern:  One from my head, but I'm sure the experienced knitters can take a look and see that it's a variation on many themes.  At some point, I'd like to make another one, and write down what I actually did as I do it, in the event that anyone else wants to try it ... and so that hopefully, I can avoid the mistakes.
Yarn:  Laines de Nord Romeo (colorway #215, primary color forest green), 1 skein
Needles:  Size 11US

I truly do love this shawl!  It's a nice size, and very cozy.  I've gotten lots of compliments on it (and one person made a point to ask me if I knew there were mistakes, because there's always at least one, right?), and though the yarn is a bulky weight, the finished shawl is as light as a feather.  I decided I'd knit until I was as close to the end of the ball as possible.  After binding off, I had slightly less than 8 inches of yarn remaining!

Even if I don't make it to Ireland again anytime soon, I did work on this while we were there, so every time I see it or wear it, I think of our trip, and it makes me very  happy.  Which, when you think about it, should be why we knit anyway, right?

10 April 2013

March Book Report

I'm still surprised to realize it is April.  I'm not sure why, but for whatever reason it is news to me every time I realize it.  Probably because I'm getting older - "they" always say that time goes more quickly when you get old.

In any event, that means that I should let you know what I read, and how I felt about it, during March.  Rather than make you wait even one second more, here is what kept me busy when I wasn't doing a thousand other things.

Saints and Sinners, by Edna O'Brien.  I've had this one on my bookshelves for a bit - actually, mine is an Advance Readers Edition!  But I finally got around to it, and it did not disappoint.  I usually enjoy Edna O'Brien's books, and this one is no exception.

It's not a large collection - there are only eleven stories - but they cover a lot of emotional, as well as geographical, ground.  O'Brien only inserts sentimentality where it logically makes sense, so these are not stories of Ireland and the Irish that contain pots of gold, fairies, or even happy endings.  But they are riveting nonetheless, and the characters seem very real.  From "Shovel Kings," about Irish workers in London hoping to make enough money to return home as wealthy men, to "Black Flower," detailing a social worker's meeting with a man she met while working in a prison, to "Old Wounds," where two cousins reunite briefly, only to have long-held family grudges resurface, each story here is one that on some level, the reader understands and can compare to their own experiences.  We have all been, or known, people just like these.

I think if you enjoy realistic short-story collections, and excellent evocation of time and place, you will enjoy this book.  This also is one of the titles on my reading list for the 2013 Ireland Challenge.

This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper.  I read this book because I read that Tina Fey was going to be in the movie version, and I really like her.  I'd heard of the book, and figured I'd give it a try.

Judd Foxman is on his way home.  His father has died after a lingering illness, and he goes home to attend the funeral.  Besides his mother, his siblings are also there.  None of them have spent much time together in years, but they learn from their mother that the father's dying wish was that they all sit shiva for him.  Surprised because their father was not that religious, they agree because they feel obligated to do so.

Judd, in the meantime, is dealing with losing his job and his wife.  He walked in on his boss and his wife having sex the bed he usually shared with her.  So he quit his job and moved out  of the house.  Not surprisingly, his siblings have their own issues, both personally, and with their respective partners.  The seven days become more and more something to just get through.  During this time, Judd learns that his wife is pregnant, and it is revealed to be Judd's baby, rather than his ex-boss'.  Adding a whole other layer to the story.

This book was interesting, sad, and funny at times.  It underscores something I think about from time to time, which is that when you are growing up, you always think you'll know the daily goings on of everyone else in your family.  Once you are an adult, you're usually lucky if you can keep up with them on a monthly basis.  And when you are away from them, you tend to forget the things that drove you nuts.  For the Foxman family, sitting shiva becomes a challenge in continuing to speak to one another, as much as it is dealing with their grief.

This isn't the best book I've ever read, but it had some interesting twists, and was a lot truer-to-life than some other books I've read about adult siblings reuniting for whatever reason.

The Imperfectionists, by Tom Rachman.  I remember reading about this book when it first came out, and thinking it sounded interesting.  I put it on my list to read for the TBR Challenge, and decided I was in the mood to give it a try.

The overall story is that of an English language newspaper headquartered in Rome, originally started by a millionaire from Atlanta in the 1950s.  As the book opens, it's 2007, and we eventually realize that the book is the story of the history of the paper, told via stories of individual reporters and other employees, and in reverse order.  Each "chapter" is the story of/is narrated by a staff member of the paper, telling how they came to work there, what kinds of things they covered, their individual lives, etc.  Then at the end of that, a vignette on the paper's history.

I liked this book, though it was bittersweet.  I am a fan of newspapers, particularly newspapers in print.  Admittedly, I read a lot of news online, but to me there is nothing better than a leisurely morning with a print newspaper.  During the week, not so much because I'm busy getting ready for work and all related to that, but I am a particular fan of leisurely Sunday mornings with a cup of tea, maybe even a muffin, and a nice big Sunday paper.  And this book reminded me that those "glory days" of newspapers have probably passed.  But the stories of the people and their lives made for interesting reading, and I always enjoy learning about Americans who live and work abroad, and how they came to do that.

There are also some funny parts of the book, and it did evoke the feeling of living in Rome to me (granted, I've never been to Rome, but I have imagined it!), so I read it in a leisurely manner because I wanted each person's story to take its time.  Except for the very last one, which is about the grandson of the original founder, who is not interested in the paper (or much of anything but his dog), who oversees its true closing.  It was disheartening and at the very end, quite upsetting.

Having said that, it was overall very good, and a kind of love letter to our old ideas about newspapers, reporters, and journalism.

A Few Green Leaves, by Barbara Pym.  It has only been in the past few years that I heard of/learned of  Barbara Pym.  Since then, I've read a few of her books, enjoying the experience each time.  "A Few Green Leaves" was no exception.

Emma has moved to a small village for the summer, living in her mother's empty cottage there.  She is an anthropologist, and feels that a summer spent observing the people in a small village will provide vast material for her studies.

The people in the village, for the most part, have lived there for a long time, and still talk about the family who lived in the village manor as if they were still actively involved in daily life.  The church's rector, Tom, and his sister, Daphne (who dreams of life in Greece), are relatively new to the village, but since they are associated with the church, have a certain social standing.  Another person joins the group for a small portion of the time, a former lover of Emma's that she saw on TV one night and impulsively wrote to.  [Yes, I know you should not end a sentence with a preposition.  So kill me for this.]

Anyway, the book deals with the everyday lives of these people, and Emma's thoughts and observations about them, and how her behavior changes as well.  As usual, Pym gives us amusing but pointed prose, and minor characters show as much "character" as the major ones do.  I really enjoyed this book, and hope to read another Barbara Pym story very soon.

Latte  Trouble, by Cleo Coyle.  In this third part of the Coffeehouse Mystery series, Clare Cosi, the owner of the Village Blend coffee shop in NYC, tries her hand at detective work again when one of her baristas is accused of killing someone by poisoning their coffee drink during a Fashion Week reception held at her location.

Like the others I've read in this series, I enjoyed this book.  The story moves along at a reasonable pace, and for me at least, the resolution is not so obvious that you wonder why you  are bothering to keep reading.  This particular one had some interesting commentary about the fashion world, and the usual coffee descriptions and pastries keep you wishing you could step into the book.  There are recipes at the end for some of the things mentioned, but like so much in life, I enjoy reading about it much more than making the effort to actually fix it ...

If you enjoy cozy mysteries, and drink even an occasional cup of coffee (like me), I think this is a series you'll like.  I especially like reading them in between other "more serious" books.  


I only have one book to offer this time, as the others were either ones I read on my Nook, or borrowed from the library.  Saints and Sinners, by Edna O'Brien is the one that I would be happy to pass along to a new home.  If you are interested, leave me a note in the comments by the end of the day on Friday, April 12.  As usual, if more than one person is interested, I'll choose the "winner" in a random fashion.

05 April 2013

You Might Want to Sit Down for This One ...

Because in this post, I am actually going to show you that this blog is not just a "pretend" knitting blog - yep, I've got something to show you!  And, wonder of wonders, there are others to come!

So if you are still with me, let me show you my last FO of 2012.  This was finished on November 11, but various photo sessions did not work out, so rather than show you The Tim wearing this hat that was knitted for him, it was time to rely on the old medicine ball ...

A few years back, I knitted a Turn a Square hat for The Tim for Christmas.  It was a big hit, and was the first time I had knit something with stripes.  At the time, I had no idea what the Jogless Stripe method was, so if you looked closely, you could see where one color changed to another.  Neither of us cared, and to some extent, neither of us still do.  (*Note:  Rather than link to a specific version of the Jogless Stripe demo, I'll leave it to you to choose from the many available if you just Google the term.)

Anyway, The Tim mentioned really liking the hat, and when I found myself with a) some yarn that didn't cry out to be anything else, and b) in need of a birthday gift, I thought I'd go ahead and knit another.  This time, though, I decided to give the Jogless Stripe method a try, and I must admit it does look nicer when the item is finished.

Anyway, here you go:

Turn a Square Squared - top
The top

Turn a Square Squared - front
The side/front/whatever you want to call it

The details:

Project:  Turn a Square Squared
Pattern:  Turn A Square by Jared Flood
Needles:  US size 5 and 7
Yarns:  Brooklyn Tweed SHELTER (gray) and Classic Elite Inca Alpaca (yellow)
Modifications:  None
Comments:  If you haven't  made one of these, you really should.  The pattern is free, you don't need a lot of yarn of either color, and it goes really quickly.  Plus, it's well received.  The Tim started wearing this one, and gave me his original one to repair, as it had become unraveled!  I asked him why he didn't give it to me to repair sooner, and he said, "Because I just like wearing it too much."


And to "officially"close out 2012 (now that it's April!), here is a shot of all of the projects completed last year:

Not a lot, and not necessarily world-shattering, but a) I'm happy with it, and b) it's not a contest!

And now that we have closed out the last year, we can move on to things completed so far in 2013 ...

Some other time, that is.  :-)

02 April 2013

Tuesday Tidbits

Hello there - I hope everyone had a happy Passover, Easter, or that you were able to enjoy a spring weekend recently!  We had a nice Easter, though it was very different than usual.  We headed to my niece's in Baltimore, to stay with her and her husband for the weekend.  Usually they come up here, but it was fun to see everyone there, and it had been a long time since we had headed south.

I have no particular reason for posting today, just felt like it.  So I decided to share some of my recent mind ramblings.  You may or may not find them worth reading.

Winter was stupid.  So many places got too much snow, and we barely got 1.5 inches all winter.  It was chilly a lot of the time, but mostly felt colder than it was due to the excessive amounts of rain we had instead of snow.  I was beginning to think I lived in Venice.

I really hope we have a nice, leisurely spring.  Sometimes we have what seems like two days of spring and then BAM! - summer heat.

I think having a gun is stupid.

Morally righteous and politically correct people bug me.

I have no desire to ever read any of the Twilight books, nor do I ever care to read Fifty Shades of Grey.

I'm tired of people redefining feminism to fit their needs, when they clearly have no idea what feminism is in the first place.

I'm really really really really really tired of the F word.

I'm really tired of people then using it in excess when they learn that about me. Ha ha.  Not.

I have been making a concerted effort to continue to practice my One Little Word, "kindness," since I couldn't agree with myself about a new word for this year.  However, I still need to remember to be kind a lot of the time, so though I am making progress, I still have some way to go.

I love animals.  I am suspicious of anyone who doesn't like them.  I am disgusted by people who mistreat them, and think they should receive harsher punishments than they usually do.

I have never, ever lived someplace (until I moved here) where so many vehicles regularly seem to run into houses and other buildings.

I am thrilled that baseball season has started.  I would like the Phillies and the Pirates to do well, as well as the Orioles, since my little great-nephew is a big fan.

I just got new glasses, and even though I have had trifocals forever, they are harder than usual to get used to wearing.  I am pleased with how they look, though.

I have some knitting FOs to share, as soon as I get some pictures taken - all completed in February and March!  After January was a lost cause from being sick.

"Game of Thrones" started last night, and we recorded it.  I am surprised at myself that I like it, since it is completely made up of things that usually annoy me.  Next Sunday the new season of "Mad Men" begins, and I'm looking forward to that as well.  Even though most of the characters are not that likable, I really enjoy the show.  The Tim and I have figured out that Sally Draper (my favorite character) is approximately if not exactly the age we were during the corresponding times.  Of course, neither of us had similar lives to hers, just the same events going on around us.

Having said all of that, my favorite show ever is still "Mr. Ed."  :-)