28 February 2009

The Final February FO

The calendar tells me that it's time to say goodbye to February, which I know makes a lot of people (particularly the winter-haters) happy. Personally, I like February, and do not think it is that much better or that much worse than any other month. Of course, March arrives right after, with my birthday, St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Day (zeppoles!), and the first day of spring. OK, so I will admit to being partial to March ...

In any event, this morning I added the final touches to what I have decided to call the Lemon Seed Blue Buttons Scarf:

I have been making this as part of a service project for a group on Ravelry. We have been making warm winter items for the Mattaponi Indian Tribe of Virginia. The guidelines said that they love bright colored things, so I thought a yellow scarf fit the bill quite well.

I just knit the entire thing in seed stitch - well, actually not the entire thing. The rows that are covered by the three blue buttons were not in seed stitch as it turned out (though they are kinda close to it). By the time I actually paid attention and realized it, I had knit quite a lot more, and was not willing to rip out and reknit. Once the scarf was finished, I had the idea to sew buttons across those rows - you know, a "design feature!" I found enough blue buttons to sew them on each side of the scarf, so that it truly is reversible; the two buttons on the bottom made it look more like I'd planned it that way, at least to me. So in the end, I think it will be a nice scarf for a little girl who likes yellow.

The actual yellow shade of the yarn (Encore Worsted) is somewhere between the picture above and this picture, where the scarf is being modeled by Morris.

Not a neon yellow, but not a pastel, either. (It's not easy to find good models these days. One of my original choices attempted to eat the buttons right off the scarf!) I am very happy with it, and one day this week it will be sent to the project coordinator, along with the Penguin Pal Hat.

Now it's time to concentrate on some other things to knit in March. Ever since I joined the Year Long Gift-A-Long Group on Ravelry last year, I've gotten into the habit of thinking of what I would like to accomplish in any given month, and trying to go about it in a more focused way. I found that last year it made a huge difference, and really helped me finish a lot of my projects, particularly those that were gifts. Which is not to say that I can't/don't knit something that is not on my list, because how would that be any fun? But as I have mentioned before, I do love lists, and having something "written down" really makes me want to do it, if for no other reason than to cross it off said list!

In other news, I will admit to being relieved that I am not the only person annoyed by the Geico-money-eyes commercial. As Jenn pointed out, who ever thought that the cavemen would be more acceptable?

26 February 2009

Back to the Routine

Well, our company has left, the extra laundry is done, and I'm finally feeling like I'm back into my routine. On the one hand, I tend to get really bored when my routine doesn't vary at all; but then when it's a lot of variation all at once, I welcome the return to plain old everyday life. Last weekend we had fun, going to the shore for the day and walking around, looking in whatever shops were open. Saturday evening, we went to a Mexican restaurant and had a yummy dinner, and then Sunday while The Tim was at work, we walked around town and our guests had themselves a little shopping spree. That evening we watched the Oscars, with the added benefit of commenting on everyone and everything, being that the four of us are, of course, experts.

By the way, I just want to say for the record that I was THRILLED that "Slumdog Millionaire" won the Best Picture Oscar. I.Love.That.Movie. It's one of my very favorites, ever. Trust me, be glad that I have refrained from talking about it here, because I can go on and on and on and on and ...

Not a lot of knitting has been happening lately. Occasionally I've noticed that a week or so will go by, and though I do a little bit here and there, I just cannot sit down and concentrate long enough to make any real headway. Sometimes it's because I become really involved in a book I'm reading, other times, I just am not in the mood to do much of anything. It doesn't really worry me, because it's always a passing thing, but I'm always surprised when I realize how long it has lasted.

I do, however, have a knitting-related picture to share with you. My niece La Liz sent a picture of Zach wearing the Zach Attack Hat I knit him for his third birthday.

(He does love to pose for the camera!) I think it looks really cute on him, and La Liz said he loves it, and asks to wear it whenever they go outside. Yay Zach!

Finally, apropos of nothing, I have to ask all of you this question: Does the Geico insurance commercial with the eyeballs sitting on a stack of dollar bills annoy anyone else, or is it just me? I just think it's stupid, and would like to know who thought it was such a great advertisement for the company ... because maybe they should get a smaller stack of dollar bills in their paycheck? Anyway, every time they show it, I wonder to myself if anyone likes it. I'd be interested to know what makes it appealing, that I am apparently missing altogether.


19 February 2009

I Dodged a Bullet This Time

Last week on Wednesday evening, I walked up to the Knitting Circle at Rosie's. It was the first time I'd gone for a loooonnng time, and I really enjoyed it. I'd been looking forward to going again last night, but around 4:00 in the afternoon, I suddenly had a really serious attack of the chills. I spent most of the evening wrapped in a blanket, with two pairs of heavy socks, and approximately 98 cups of tea to try and warm up. It was disappointing to miss Knitting Circle, but I also dreaded today, when I feared I would wake up feeling sick. Which is bad enough any time, but we are getting house guests for the weekend tomorrow, and feeling sick when you have company just makes it all worse.

This morning I woke up, and guess what? I felt just fine. Well enough to go to the gym even! I was very relieved, because it means I can get the cleaning I would like to do finished in a manner that I consider to be reasonable. Like so many other things, I have a specific way I like to clean the house, especially when company is imminent. Granted, it's different if this is a repeat visit - only first-time visitors see the house CLEAN. After that, you see it clean.

As a result of not feeling well, and getting ready for guests, I haven't done as much knitting as I would like. I worked some more on the Dotty vest for The Tim, where I am nearly finished creating the armhole steeks. (Yeah, once it was explained to me for the tenth time, and I started working on it, the whole thing made sense. Imagine.) I'm also making a scarf for a little girl as part of a service project for a group I belong to on Ravelry. Which will be a good project for down time while our guests are here and we are just hanging out.

In my blanket-covered state last night, I did manage to finish the book I have been reading, Julie & Julia : My Year of Cooking Dangerously, which I enjoyed for the most part. I shall provide further insightful commentary in my February Book Report.

In other news ...

The Tim took the picture below a couple of weeks ago. I waited to post it until now, to see if a) pigs were flying around, b) hell had frozen over, or c) Armageddon was nigh. Since we're all still here, I guess things are OK, at least for the present.

Trust me, this is not a common occurrence. And the whole thing could have ended more successfully (meaning without incident), if Jetsam would have just kept his right front paw to himself. But no, he *had* to keep poking it closer to Tess' face, thereby waking her up, at which point things deteriorated immediately.

The balance of power has since been restored. Let us rejoice and be glad.

16 February 2009

I Have No Good Title for This Post

The weekend was very busy at our house, with Saturday being both Valentine's Day and the birthdays of Garden Kitty (who turned 10) and Jetsam (who turned 3). We had a great day, and as you can see, it really wore out the birthday boys:

"Why are you taking a picture when we are trying to rest?"

Oh and by the way, Mary - you aren't an idiot! I had started to write my post for Saturday on Friday evening, and apparently when I went to update the date for the post, I inadvertently turned off the comments feature. GK and Jetsam do thank you for the birthday wishes, in any event ...

I can finally show you one of my recently finished projects, which I had been making for The Tim for Valentine's Day.

These are knit from the Kaffe Fassett line of Regia yarn. I would never have put these colors together myself, but they look great, and fortunately, The Tim is not concerned that they are not a perfect match, stripe-wise. He told me he was going to wait to wear them this coming weekend, when we have company.

Last week, I gave you a list of some of my favorite things beginning with the letter "L." Well, Lorraine gave me a "B" to do the meme below.

Use the first letter of your name to find a word for each of the following:

Your name: Bridget

4 letter word: Book

Boy name: Brian

Girl name: Bonnie

Occupation: Bookseller

Color: Blue

Beverage: Beer

Something found in a bathroom: Brush

A place: Boston

Reason for being late: Bad timing

A food: Beets

Something you shout: Boo!

It's fun - feel free to give it a try with your name!

14 February 2009

Hearts and Cake

Happy Valentine's Day!

I have always been a fan of Valentine's Day. I think it's because it has always been a day for a card and a treat, nothing more dramatic than that. In my family, it was always a chance to make the day a little bit extra special, and I've always celebrated that way. So I hope anyone reading this has a nice day today, and can find at least one reason to be happy.

Today is also a birthday cake day in our house.

Happy Birthday, Garden Kitty and Jetsam!

Cake (for us) and catnip (for the kitties) - not a bad day, all the way around ...

12 February 2009

From Abe to Zach

Happy 200th Birthday Abe!

This image is one of my favorites of Abraham Lincoln, shown here with his son Tad. I have always been a fan of Lincoln's (even though I have no idea how he feels about me ...), and the whole thing really solidified when I read a biography about him while I was in elementary school. For me, the fact that he was not "perfect" was always what made him seem like an approachable historic figure.

(When I was a teenager, I also remember seeing Martin Mull on some TV talk show, where the host asked him what he had been doing since his work on the show "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" had ended. He responded (completely straightfaced), "I've been finishing the book I'm writing, which is called: Lincoln - the Car, the Man, and the Tunnel." For a few seconds, you could see a look on the host's face that meant he thought it was a serious response. Which of course to me made me think it was even funnier - and I like to think that Lincoln would be amused, too.)

And now for something completely different ...

My great-nephew Zach turned 3 this past Sunday, and, as The Tim had to work, we were not able to go to his birthday party. I had decided that I wanted to knit a hat for him for his birthday, and as you may recall, the Penguin Pal Hat was too small. I got another type of hat in my mind's eye, and after that, nothing else would do. I poked around, and couldn't find anything that was exactly what I had in mind, and also free. So I decided that I would try making up a pattern on my own.

I pulled out my copy of Ann Budd's The Knitter's Book of Handy Patterns, and used the information there to get an idea of sizing, based on the yarn I wanted to use. Then I wrote up some basic instructions for myself, and just started knitting.

Guess what? It worked! I ended up with just the shape that I wanted, but I also wanted it to have tassels. I found instructions for tassels in a couple of other books, but they kept turning out looking like pom-poms on crack. So I decided I would just wing it and see if I could get it to work my own way. Guess what? That worked too!

And as a result, I give you the Zach Attack Hat:

Now I know that for a lot of you, this is no big deal, being a very basic item. But this is the first time I have ever tried knitting anything without any specific written pattern; and then to have it look just the way I I had pictured it - well, I was really excited. I popped it in the mail, and my niece La Liz reports that a) it fits, b) he loves it, and c) she is sending me a picture of him wearing it (which of course you can expect to see here at some point)!

In the meantime, you'll have to settle for a shot of Barnsie, the Barnes and Noble Bear, modeling it.**

**As you can see, it's too big for him, but Barnsie is nothing if not a good sport.

10 February 2009

What the L??

Chartroose posted this on her blog, and it was fun to read her answers, so I asked for a letter, and was given an L.

The rules are simple: choose 10 favorite things beginning with a single letter of the alphabet and explain why you like them. The only catch is that the letter is assigned to you by the person who wrote the post you’ve just read.

Oddly, last night I woke up in the middle of the night, with some real killer answers. But of course I didn't get up and write them down, and most of them were long gone by this morning. So here are L things I love, not necessarily in any particular order, or in a comprehensive list:

1. Lemons and limes - I put them together, because in so many ways they are interchangeable for me. I love either in hot or iced tea, lemon tea bread is one of my favorite things to make, Key lime cookies are another. I could go on, but I'm starting to get hungry ...

2. Lace - I am quite possibly the least-lace-wearing person around, but I love the look of lace, and find knitting it to be fascinating (and extremely difficult). I would love to learn how to tat, though I suspect I would not be all that good at it.

3. Liquor - Now don't go getting all preachy on me (April, I'm lookin' at you), I love various kinds of liquor, but after drinking even small amounts, I get incredibly sleepy. Therefore I am unlikely to ever become an alcoholic. Plus, as a child, I was introduced to many of my mother's "medicinal" cures involving liquor, and most of them still work better than mainstream medicine!

4. Laughter - As far as I'm concerned, life is not worth living if you can't laugh at things, and at yourself. Torture to me is being forced to spend time with someone with absolutely no sense of humor. And if someone has a weird sense of humor, I generally like them even more!

5. Left-handedness - And why not?

6. Letters - both those in the alphabet, and those written and received. I love words, so I also love to write letters and receive them. But I am also fascinated by handwriting, calligraphy, and the look of the letters themselves.

7. Literature - I love to read. A variety of different types of things appeal to me, but I consider them all to be "literature."

8. Lantanas - Especially the multicolor ones. I don't have much luck keeping them alive, though.

9. Lists - Oh lists, how I love thee! I love to make lists, check things off lists, and read through lists.

10. Lisa - Because she can always make me laugh, she loves to talk about and try different foods and recipes like I do, and just because she is who she is. I hoped when she had kids she wouldn't suddenly become A Mom, but if anything, she has become even funnier. And I suspect that her little boys will become as funny in their own ways as she is in hers, 'cause they are already on that path. (Poor Jerry!)

If you want to play along, feel free to ask for a letter of your very own - and you may want to think about writing things down if you have a middle-of-the-night-inspiration-attack ...

08 February 2009

January Book Report and Two FOs

You may recall that I signed up for the Well-Seasoned Reader Challenge, which runs from January 1 until March 31. I finished one book so far, Five Quarters of the Orange, by Joanne Harris.

Harris, as you may or may not recall, also wrote Chocolat, so I was intrigued to see where this book would take me. The story/stories take place in a village in the Loire Valley of France called Les Laveuses, and is told by the youngest daughter in a family, Framboise Dartigen. It begins with Framboise telling of the scrapbook she received as her legacy when her mother died. The scrapbook is a mix of photos, recipes, random comments, and other things her mother felt the urge to write. It is not in any particular type of order, and is written in a language that Framboise is able to "translate," though at first she finds it nonsensical.

The story is told as a combination of flashbacks and the present day, when Framboise has returned to her family village - to the farmhouse where they lived - as a grown widow, but under another name. The background of the story is the tale of her family - herself, her difficult mother, and her brother and sister - during the time of the German occupation of France in World War II.

The story of the family and their relationship to the others in the village, and the German soldiers who were part of the occupying force, made the book an interesting read - I kept wanting to read more to find out what would/did happen. And the characters of Framboise and her mother were the most interesting to me, though neither of them were particularly appealing or sympathetic. I found the writing style to be very evocative of time and place (though admittedly I've never been to the Loire Valley), and using Framboise's voice to tell the story made sense to me.

So though I liked a lot about the book, I didn't really like the characters, and found the lack of regret or remorse about their actions during the war to be disturbing. It's not so much that I wanted a happy ending, or a lot of wringing of the hands about "Oh how could I have done so-and-so," etc. Rather, I would have just liked it if Framboise would have acknowledged the fact that so many of the unfortunate things that happened to others in their village were a result of acts by her family. It seems to me that she never does, and though to some extent I cannot blame her - no one likes to dwell on unpleasantness - it made it difficult for me to feel any empathy for her situation later in the book.

In a nutshell, it was a good read, but not as satisfying as I had hoped. Having said that, if anyone would like to read it, my copy is an old Advance Reader's Edition, and I'd be happy to pass it along. If you are interested, let me know either via e-mail or in the comments. If more than one person is interested, I'll devise a way to draw a name that will give everyone an equal chance.

On to the two FOs mentioned in the title ~

Sebastian's birthday was in mid-January (how is it that he is 15 years old now?), and I wanted to knit him something. The Tim suggested a hat, which seemed like a pretty good idea, since I knew I could finish it between the beginning of the month and when we would see him (or thought we would see him) around the time of his birthday. He's on the wrestling team this year, so I decided to make him a hat using his school's colors, blue and gold. I made the "beanie" version of the House Hats pattern in the book Charmed Knits; I call this Seb's School Colors Hat.

I used Mission Falls 1824 Wool, and then some leftover Encore for the gold stripes, and the resulting hat is soft and cozy-feeling. (And for convenience, machine washable to boot!) As it turns out, we didn't get to give it to him until this past Friday, so I've been sitting on this one for a while! It fit him, and he seemed to like it. To his credit, he wore it on his head from the time he opened it, until we left. (That's one of the best things about Sebastian, by the way - he shows appreciation in a genuine fashion, without making a big deal of it.)

Seb's mom Karen will be celebrating her birthday at the end of February, so I also knit something to give to her. And since it took so long for us to see Seb for his birthday celebration, we took Karen's gifts along on Friday as well, and she opened them. Which means I can show you another FO - Karen's Birthday Mitts:

I used the Fetching pattern, and Cascade 220 for these. My lousy photography skills notwithstanding, they turned out well, and fit her just perfectly. I have a pair that I made for myself, and I wear them a lot during the winter, and since Karen is often saying she is cold, I decided she could use a pair as well.

There's another completed project waiting for its blog debut, but that will have to wait a few days, until I'm sure the recipient has received it.

How's that for suspense?!

04 February 2009

Football, Knitting, Apostrophes, and a Eulogy


I know, you are probably wondering what I will have to say about football, since I live in Philadelphia, and the Eagles didn't end up in the Super Bowl. True, that would have been exciting, BUT the fact of the matter is, the Steelers were in the Super Bowl, and they won!!! Being that I was born, and spent a lot of my growing up years, about 45 minutes from Pittsburgh, and that The Tim is from Pittsburgh, we are Steelers fans as well, so we have been happy campers this week. I didn't mention anything last week, since I didn't want to jinx them - then as the fourth quarter got underway, I thought maybe I'd jinxed them just by hoping they would win ... because of course, I have that kind of power ...


I have been busy knitting, though I can't show you everything I've been working on right now. But as I don't want your day to be ruined because you had high hopes of seeing what's on and off the needles, here are the things that I can show you.

First up, the Penguin Pal Hat. I originally started this as a birthday gift for my great-nephew Zach, who is turning 3 years old. Once I got going on the pattern, I realized that it would be too small for him. So I decided to finish knitting it anyway, and donate it as part of a service project for one of the groups on Ravelry.

I think it turned out OK, though I'm not as happy with it as I'd like to be. In the end, I really didn't like the way the pattern was written - I would have liked the penguin's face to be lower on the hat, instead of on the top. But I think it will be nice and warm for a baby, so that makes it all good ...

This "blob" is the completed Snuggle I was knitting, to donate to an animal shelter as part of the Snuggles Project. I finished it this past Saturday, and wove in all of the ends. It looks better in person, but the main thing that really gets me is the weird color combo in the yarn! Especially since the name is "Sugar N Spice!" Huh? Anyway, in spite of it's weirdness, it is very cushy, so I think it will make some sweet homeless animal feel at least a little bit cozy.

The last knitting item I have to show you is something that I plan to work on for most of the year, so that I'm not trying to finish it up at Christmastime next year. Here's what I've knit so far:

I hope that eventually, it will look like this, which I just think is such a neat idea for a decoration! I know that a lot of people would improvise their own patterns instead of buying one, but I wanted to go ahead and have the pattern as a sort of security blanket. The little hats and mittens knit up easily in an evening, so I figure if I try to make 3-4 each month, I'll be set. Hopefully if I do that, I will then get my act together to add the numbers and the cord ...

Recently, I read on RosieBlogs about a new yarn in the store, made from sugar cane! The other day I had the chance to see it up close and personal, and it's very pretty and very soft. So now there is banana silk, soy, and sugar cane yarn. Maybe instead of the yarn weight system, they need to create a Knitter's Yarn Pyramid, similar to the Food Pyramid ...


My sister recently sent me an e-mail with the subject line, "What is this world coming to?" that read as such:

Yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Apparently that's okay now, and my students tell me that you rarely need commas anymore. But do away with the apostrophe?!!!

and linked to this article. I sure hope it's some kind of joke - because the postioning of an apostrophe actually can/does change the meaning of a sentence. (Plus, I like the word - you know, as if there has been a grammatical catastrophe. Oh never mind.)



Big A$s TV

May 2001-January 2009

Once upon a time, the TV that had lived in Chez Ravell'd Sleave for nineteen years died. We were very sad to say goodbye to our faithful Sony, but it had given all it had to give. This was just when high definition TVs were becoming more prevalent, and The Tim was dying to have one. I told him that getting a new TV could be his decision, as long as we didn't end up with a really big TV. This was largely because the room where the TV lives is not very big, but also because at the time, we had a nice bookcase where the TV sat, and that was fine with me.

Long story short, we ended up with the Big A$s TV (BATV) shown above, which required banishing the bookshelves so that we could place it on a stand that would hold it. Plus, the screen was so large, and the room so small, that for a long time, I felt like I was living at Circuit City!

The Tim truly loved the BATV, and over the years managed to get it to do all kinds of wonderful things through the mysteries of technology. And I have to say that it was good company when I had two eight-week medical leaves in one year, where I mostly had to stay in bed, or sit on the couch (kids, don't try this at home). It showed us countless hours of holiday shows (including, of course "Rudolph"), things we had recorded, events like the Super Bowl and the World Series, and lastly, the inauguration of Barack Obama. Repairing it would have cost nearly as much as a new TV, and there were no guarantees that it would last much longer after that. So, my dear readers, last weekend, we bid a sad farewell to the BATV. It had been placed on the curb Sunday night, with a note explaining the more or less fatal condition. Monday morning it was gone. I like to think that someone took it for repair, and that they will be able to enjoy it for as long as it lasts after that.

Big A$s TV, we hardly knew ye.