29 April 2008

Get Thee to a Bookstore!

... or to your LYS, but you really, really need to buy this book, which is now available:

In the interest of full disclosure, I must say that the three people involved in this book - Lisa, Carol, and Laura - are friends of mine (Lisa taught me to knit, as a matter of fact). They are great, funny, smart women, who happen to be amazing knitters and designers as well.

So maybe I am prejudiced. Though not necessarily.

You see, I would be likely to buy their book no matter what, since I know and like each of them.

BUT - about two weeks ago, I stopped at Rosie's for something, and Lisa had her advance copy sitting on one of the tables. So I browsed through it while I was there, and I can truthfully say that even if I never had known that the three people involved had ever existed, I would be buying the book.

The designs are both interesting and modern-looking; there are different types of things, not only sweaters, or scarves, etc.; Interweave Press has made it a visually appealing book; the designs are ones that will not look weird or dated in five years or more, so though modern interpretations, they are classic ideas; and, I think the patterns will appeal to a broad range of knitters.

At this time, I don't know if there will be any parties or book signings in the Philadelphia area or anyplace to celebrate the book's publication, but whether or not there are, get thee to a book/yarn store, and treat yourself to a copy! I really think you'll be happy with it.

And speaking of books ...

I found out over the weekend that the Yarn Harlot will be at the Philadelphia Book Fair on Sunday, May 18! How cool is that? Sadly, I have already made a commitment to volunteer at another event on that day that doesn't end until 12 noon, right when her program begins. So I may not have the chance to see her, which is disappointing.

I was mentioning this to a knitting acquaintance, and she nearly had a coronary that I was not going to drop everything to go - "How can you put anything else ahead of such an opportunity?? Are you crazy??"

Now, let me say that I do enjoy Stephanie's blog, and I think it would be fun to go and hear her, and maybe even get to say hi in person. (Here I will also confess to never having read any of her books. Just have never gotten around to it. Oh the knitterly shame.) However, I made my other commitment a couple of months ago, and I'm not going to back out now. Like I said, I'm disappointed, but in the grand scheme of things I am likely to survive. And I sincerely doubt that no one else will show up ...

Also, speaking of that wacky Samuel Pepys ...

Oh, except I wasn't, was I? No matter, I saw a link in Paper Cuts to Pepys diary, now online. Take a look, it's really interesting. I don't know as much about Pepys as I probably should, but it is somehow reassuring to know that on April 29, 1665, he was hoping to get a better night's sleep, since he had "committed forty blotts and blurrs in my letter..." Some things never change, do they?

23 April 2008

H is for Harry

Meet my dad, Harry:

Isn't this a great picture? On the back someone wrote "Harry 4 months," which means the picture was taken in December 1916. The funniest thing is, this is a perfect depiction of my father - hardly any hair, posed like he's at a bar, waiting for his drink!

When I was a little girl, and first saw this photo, the thing that struck me was that it was my dad, wearing a dress!! Later, of course, I saw other photos of him, taking part in "hilarious" shows for organizations where he was a member, dressed up like a woman (not nearly as upsetting as the pictures where he is in blackface for a minstrel show ... oy with the poodles already!) - but this one was amazing to me, as until I saw this, I had no ideas that little boys *ever* wore dresses, at any time in the universe, for any reason!

Of course, since he was my dad, I thought he was great. But pictures of him as a young man didn't look like anyone I knew, as I remember him when he was heavy set, with a crewcut and dark glasses (a la Drew Carey on his original TV show). This picture to me looks just like him, and it amuses me greatly to boot. I have it framed with other family photos on display when you come in our front door.

The Dad that I remember was really funny, lots of fun (much more than my mom, who was stuck with us 99% of the time), and a really good cook. I also realize that he was prejudiced, though we were not allowed to be. That has always intrigued me - the fact that he couldn't change his feelings, but knew he didn't want us to be that way. During World War II, he was in the Army, and he always said his major contribution to the war effort was his excellent vocal skills as the singer for the base band - it was years before I realized that he was laughing at himself when he would say this (as I was always sure he meant he went on tour with Bob Hope in the USO shows ...).

I also remember a story about my sister Mary Ellen coming home from school one day crying, because someone had laughed at my father's name. We had a last name that is also a first name, so when the teacher asked Mary Ellen what her father's name was, and she said "Harry ______," they thought she meant "hairy" as a descriptive term.

Then there was the time that we decided that we would spend the day speaking to one another using only Gregorian chant. My father called home, and Mary Ellen answered, chanting, "Hello this is the ______ residence," at which point he asked to speak to my mother. The first thing he said to her was "What is in the hell is going on there??" Which of course made us think it was even *more* hilarious!

My dad died when I was 13 years old, from liver cancer. I think of him nearly every day, and thought of him especially when I was going through all of my tests for cancer, and the resulting surgeries.

But mostly I remember him, sitting at a bar, waiting for his drink, pretty much like he is in this picture. Or taking me - just me - to the circus every summer. Or our many trips to the shore, filled with adventure, because he didn't believe in making hotel reservations. And so many other little things, it seems that he has always been around.

Love you, Dad. I hope if there is a heaven, that you are there. And that it's lots of fun.

22 April 2008

Yes, it's Election Day in Pennsylvania ...

And I hope that everyone who could, voted - even if y0u voted differently than I did!

But regardless of what else you did or did not do today, there's one thing I wish we could all remember to try to do all of the time (not just today, which also happens to be Earth Day):

Love your Mother.

20 April 2008


First of all, thanks for all of your comments and well-wishes after my 250th post, I really appreciated hearing from those who wrote. Must be how Sally Field felt when she won the Oscar ...

Now, on to something really important: I received this package in the mail the other day:

What, you may well ask, was the occasion? Well, I was involved in the Favorite Color Swap 3, and this was my box o' goodies! I had received some fun comments from "The Knitting Fanatic," and I couldn't wait to see who would be sending the package. When I opened the box, I couldn't believe that she had even wrapped everything in my three favorite colors - green, blue, and purple - talk about paying attention!

Turns out, my swap partner was Allegra, who lives in Colorado. She obviously took great pains to spoil me, as this was what the packages contained once they were unwrapped:

OK, not the best picture, but she sent me The Story of Chicago May, by Nuala O'Faolain, which I have wanted to read since it came out; note cards; Lantern Moon Sox Stix (I'm too cheap to even think of buying these for myself, though I visit them often at Rosie's); a large tin of African Autumn tea (which she said is particularly good iced); a small tin of Winter White Earl Grey tea; felted ball stitch markers; a tape measure with a lizard* on it, and the part you pull out to measure is his tongue; a stitch keeper, which I never saw before, but it is like a combination of a Chibi needle and a teeny crochet hook, on a ring similar to a keychain ring; and, the yarn - oh the yarn!! Two skeins of Noro Daria (a cotton/rayon blend), in greens, blues, and purples. It is so pretty, and when I saw it, I immediately thought it would make a good bag of some kind, so I'm going to poke around to see what patterns are out there. I had the best time opening all of these packages, and then going through and seeing them again.

Oh ... there were also green, blue, and purple M&Ms ... um, they're gone ...

Thanks so much, Allegra! I am so happy with my package, and am touched by your efforts to choose things that I think are just perfect. It was a wonderful way to head into the weekend.

(OK, this is something that has been driving me crazy. I remember as a child, reading a poem (or maybe it was a story) about three children coming to stay at a house, and their names were _____, Alexis (maybe?), and Allegra. I was completely fascinated by the name Allegra, since I had never met anyone with that name. So once I opened my package, I was once again trying to remember that poem or story. Does it ring a bell with any of you? 'Cause I have spent way too much time trying to track it down ...)

*I am fascinated by small lizards, and love to see them (from afar), see pictures, jewelry, stuffed animals, etc., so even though I didn't mention this to Allegra, she inadvertently got it right! Having said that, as much as I love small lizards, if one ever fell on me, I would need to be hospitalized, as I'm sure I would have a heart attack ...

17 April 2008

Number 250

Wow - this is my 250th post! Who knew I had so much to say? Well, I knew, and since I like to write, I guess it makes sense that I would make it to 250 posts. I guess the more surprising thing is that anyone besides me reads my blog. I've made so many friends, and continue to meet people who I now consider close to me - which is such an improvement over my legions of imaginary friends ...

Anyway, thanks for stopping by, commenting, whatever. I hope you'll stick around.

This week's question:

I’ve always wondered what other people do when they come across a word/phrase that they’ve never heard before. I mean, do they jot it down on paper so they can look it up later, or do they stop reading to look it up on the dictionary/google it or do they just continue reading and forget about the word?

Gee, this has never happened to me - HA!

Most of the time, I try to continue reading to see if I can figure out the meaning of the word or phrase in the context of the story. If it is something that I can't fit in anywhere, I'll generally look it up. To be honest, most of the time I'm too lazy, so I "decide" what it means and move on.

This has led to two instances where I ended up with weird results. The first was when I was a kid, and read the Nancy Drew books. I had never encountered the word "sleuth" until then. However, I figured it out in the context of the stories - except I pronounced it to myself as "slee-uth" (short u), because well, that's what it looked like to me. When I heard someone use the word - pronounced correctly - I couldn't figure out for the life of me what they were talking about ...

The second one is really stupid when you get down to it. I would come across dialogue where one person would use the contraction "c'mon." A lot of the time I realized what it was/what it meant, but occasionally I couldn't remember, and would think it was short for "See you on Monday." Needless to say, I would be really annoyed when one character would be talking to another one and say something (I thought) like "See you on Monday, let's go to the park." I would think to myself *what* are they trying to say??? How dumb! Though even writing it at this moment makes me laugh at myself, so that's a good thing.

12 April 2008

Come Sail Away ...

As promised, here is a picture of my latest finished project, The Sailboat Hat:

I am so pleased with how well it turned out, and how even my somewhat lame sewing skills managed to place and secure the applique pieces so that it actually looks balanced. Personally, I think it looks yar!

For those of you who are interested, here are the details:

Pattern: Sailboat, from Itty-Bitty Hats, by Susan B. Anderson.
Size: 0-3 months.
Needles: US7 double points.
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic in colors denim, red, navy, white. (The color numbers are: 3001, 3818, 3997, 3856, but I don't have the bands in front of me to know which number goes to which color ...)
Started: March 20, 2008.
Finished: The pieces were all knitted by March 30; I sewed the knitted applique pieces onto the finished hat on April 6.

I think that Ben and Halden will really like it. (Doughboy will like it if I show it to him while also holding a treat ...) And hopefully, they'll give us a picture of the baby wearing it. If so, you know I'll post it here.

In other news, look what Brigitte sent to me!

This is adorable! It even includes Timmy (the littlest sheep), which I may just have to make for The Tim.

(I never doubted that someone with such a lovelly name, who also has cats, would be nice - but this is extra nice ...) Thank you so much, Brigitte!

Except now I have the song in my head again ...

08 April 2008

Random Acts of Thinking

Maybe it's just me, but ...

So I finally finished the Sailboat hat for Doughboy's soon-to-be-born baby brother. I took it to work today, to show some of my knitting co-workers. A non-knitting - and incredibly literal - co-worker walked past my desk at some point before I had put it away:

Co-worker: What is that?
Me: A baby hat for my next-door neighbors.
Co-worker: Did you make it for their baby?
Me (in my brain): No, I just give out random baby hats to see what people will do.
Me (in reality): Well ... yes, for their baby who is due at the end of June.
Co-worker: Will it last until then?
Me: If I cover it with a dark cloth, and put it under the magnolia tree in our garden.
Co-worker: Seriously?
Me: Yeah.

(Pictures of the hat as soon as I have a chance to take some. Hopefully before it spoils.)

Congratulate yourselves while you're here ...

blog readability test

See you at the next Mensa meeting!

The Garden Kitty

Thanks for all of your nice comments about the Garden Kitty. But as I told a friend, if he knew that strangers could see him and were talking about him, he'd have a stroke! So I'll just say thanks, and not cause him any more trauma than he experiences on any given day by telling him ...

Virago Modern Classics

I have a pretty decent collection of these books, though I haven't seen any for a while. I was cruising around on some book blogs, and came across a link to this article, which I thought was really interesting. I only knew bits and pieces about how it all got started, and what had changed along the way, so it was nice to learn the whole story. Like any publisher's offerings, some are more interesting to me than others, but after reading this, I'm glad I have as many as I do. And most of them were bought second-hand, but in excellent condition, for one or two dollars at a used book store near where we lived in Chicago. Even better, as far as I'm concerned.


I have been meaning to share this with you since I got my MP3 player, because it was one of the things that The Tim had already downloaded for me. You may have already seen it (as many of you have been in the current century for about eight years now), but if not, take a look, it's really funny! (Keep your speakers on, the sound is part of the fun.)

05 April 2008

March Book Report; The Letter G

I read two books, and otherwise caught up on some magazines for the month of March. Overall, quite a successful enterprise.

My book of the month for the Book Awards Reading Challenge was, coincidentally enough, March, by Geraldine Brooks. (This book won the Pulitzer Prize in 2006.) I chose this book for two reasons: 1. I was curious to see if it worked, and 2. I've read good things about Brooks' writing, and, since my mother's name was Geraldine, figured I should give her a try.

March is the story of Mr. March - the father who is absent for most of the book Little Women. I will admit to being extremely skeptical of this choice - as I told a friend, I really don't like people messing with my classics! And to be honest, I didn't really spend too much time worrying about Mr. March when I read Little Women, though his daughters and wife spent a lot of the book being concerned, and missing him.

I was very pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the book. Geraldine Brooks very clearly made sure to pay attention to the details of the original story, and to be sure that it was told in a proper historical context. Mr. March is, from what I have read otherwise, also based on Bronson Alcott, who has always fascinated me. The story takes us through Mr. March's life, from his time as a young man, traveling through the south selling household goods, to his meeting and eventual marriage to Marmee, to his experiences as a chaplain in the Civil War. The story manages to be complex without being confusing, and I found Mr. March to be pretty interesting, both as an individual, and in his observations about people he knows, including Thoreau and Emerson. Brooks has an excellent descriptive style, so that it is not hard to imagine the places Mr. March visits, even if you have never been there.

I'm glad that I read this book, since it was a complement to Little Women, without being sentimental or too intrusive on the story of the March girls. I would recommend it to anyone interested in seeing what someone could do with the slightest information about a character in the original story.

Next up was Laced by Carol Higgins Clark. I was at the library, and looking for something that I thought would be an entertaining, quick read. I saw this book, and though I have never read any of her titles, I have read a lot of her mother, Mary Higgins Clark. The story was about an antique lace tablecloth that goes missing during the main character's honeymoon in Ireland. So, we have: lace, Ireland, mystery - all things I like. What the heck, I gave it a try.

It was in fact, an entertaining and quick read. The depictions of the people encountered in Ireland, and the places visited by the couple trying to solve the mystery was really enjoyable, reminding me of certain things and locations that I remember from my trip there a few years ago. The mystery was mystery enough, not requiring a lot of tracking of details, which was fine, since my brain was just not in the mood. When I find myself looking for something similar down the road, I may try another Carol Higgins Clark book.

In the meantime ...
G is for

Garden Kitty!

He is my constant companion when I'm home, and often "assists" me when I am writing posts, by sitting in front of the screen, and occasionally pawing the keyboard. He joined the family a few years back, after being a stray who was living in our garden for a month or so. We referred to him as "Garden Kitty" to differentiate between him and the inside cats. When Hurricane Floyd hit, we brought him inside, so he would be safe.

He is a very good kitty, and a sweet boy, if very skittish. He never received a proper name, because we thought of too many good ones, and couldn't decide! His middle name is Ignatius, though, after St. Ignatius Loyola (this is what happens when you are the product of a Jesuit education). So even though Garden Kitty is, as The Tim says, "more of a title than a name," it's what he answers to, and it suits him now like no other name would.

Though ... as you can see from this photo, sometimes it's hard to tell which end is where ...

01 April 2008

Hats and technology

April Fool's Day ...

Because I am easily amused, I got a charge out of Ravelry today - in the forums, they added little hats to everyone's Ravatars, I am guessing for April Fool's Day. I have an Uncle Sam hat, which amuses me on several levels. (Clearly I need to get out more.)

Continuing in the hat theme ...

Over the weekend, I finished knitting the hat that I am making for the soon-to-be baby next door. Now I need to knit the little parts that will make up the sailboat, and sew them onto the hat, but I'm pleased already with how it looks:

I'm sure the rest of it won't take that long to do, and I'm hoping to finish it completely by this weekend. The last couple of days, I have been working on other things, mainly because I'm in one of those moods where it is hard to focus on only one project for any length of time.

Maryland Sheep & Wool

I just realized the other day that Maryland Sheep & Wool is only a month away! I have signed up to take the Rosie's bus again this year, and am looking forward to it. I haven't really saved up much money for it, like I usually do, so I'm hoping that I can have some kind of rough idea of specific things I'd like to buy before I go, so I don't get too carried away. One good thing about taking the bus, is that there is only one rule for the Rosie's bus: no livestock allowed! As a result, I know that my purchases have to be limited in at least one way ...

Last year, I missed meeting up with Barb, but I did get to meet Ann and Liz, who I now think of as two of my favorite people (watch - they'll be going in disguise this year to avoid me ...).

Technological advances at chez Ravelld Sleave ...

Well, who would have imagined, but I have made further advances into twentieth-century technology! I think I mentioned that I received an MP3 player from The Tim for Christmas. Because a) he likes gadgets, and b) he knows I'm slow on the technology uptake, he was kind enough to have quite a bit of stuff already downloaded so that I could enjoy it right away. This past weekend, I managed to download two episodes of Cast-On (all on my own - film at 11!), and listened to one of them during Earth Hour on Saturday evening.

Next up: trading in the ol' abacus for one of them new-fangled calculators ...