29 December 2011

Previously on The Ravell'd Sleave ...

I shared our Christmas Eve activities with you.  Christmas Day itself was even better, consisting of presents, stockings, and major amounts of relaxation - never bad for any holiday, if you ask me.

This ceramic decoration was one of the gifts sent to us from our great-nieces and nephew, who live in Tucson, Arizona.  Their mom, Liesl, is a really creative person, and always sends gifts that are such fun to receive!  They usually involve their hands and/or feet, so we have items that show how they have all grown from year to year, which is so cool, since we seldom get to see them in person.  This couple of Santas on a sleigh are actually the hands and thumbs of Lola and Omi, and the sleigh is Jude's foot!  Pretty imaginative, I think.

The real Santa brought Dug the Dog a huge rawhide bone, which was quite exciting.  He could not wait for The Tim to unwrap it for him, then he put it in his mouth, and suddenly started looking around very worried.  This picture is of what has been come to be known as The Great Christmas Bone Hiding Incident.

I guess his instinct was to bury the bone, but as we were in the house, choices were limited.  So he worked his way under the tree (yowza!), pushed all of the items in the Nativity scene to the back of the creche, placed the bone, and then pulled the Christmas tree skirt around to cover it!

We were highly amused, he was quite proud of himself, and the cats were appalled.

Jetsam and Pip got a scratching post toy, and some catnip mice, which were quite exciting.  As if often the case, though, things got a little rough while playing with it ...

Look!  What is this?

 Oooh, fun!

 Hey! Stop!

Aren't we cute???

So there was quite a bit of fun and hi-larity at our house on Christmas Day; there usually is.  This is part of the reason that we love Christmastime so much - we do our own thing, and it's just what we like.  Yes, it would be so nice to get to see our families for Christmas (and we always used to be able to do that, it was great!), but having to stay here because of The Tim's work schedule means that we've had the chance to make our own traditions and have the kind of day we want, and that is a wonderful kind of choice to have.

That's it for now, time to get the evening underway, and it looks to be pretty exciting - paying some bills, making the Holiday Cheeseball, and taking Dug the Dog for a walk.  Don't say you aren't jealous, I won't believe you ...

27 December 2011

Christmas Eve Recap

Yes, I know that some eejits have already started taking down their Christmas decorations, or are getting ready to in the next few days, but you all know me better than that, right?  So you're going to be hearing more about our Christmastime for a while.  If this is boring and/or tiresome for you, don't say I didn't warn you!

The Tim had to work on Christmas Eve, as usual, but that was fine because I still had a few last-minute errands to run one or two things to wrap.   I enjoy going out on Christmas Eve, because I enjoy the hustle and the bustle of the day, and I am hardly ever - well, I guess ever so far - in the predicament of having to get something last minute.  So for about an hour and a half in the morning, I was out and about, and enjoying it quite a bit.  (Though - and here I am sounding like a broken record - it could have been colder.  It was cool, but not cool enough for December 24.  OK, I've said that, now I'll move on.)

When I got home, I decided to go ahead and finish up the couple of things I needed to wrap, as well as put bows on the things that were all ready, otherwise.  Dug the Dog decided to help, but apparently found it terribly dull!

Then, Pip arrived to help, and to keep track of Dug as well:

However, after a few minutes, Pip got tired of a) Dug just sleeping, and b) being too close to the location of the ribbon and bows, which kept him from being able to attack them, so he left.

Then, Jetsam came to explore when I threw an empty wrapping paper roll into the hallway - but wait, as he approached, he too discovered a sleeping Dug!

As a result, he had to keep a safe distance, and was not able to attack the wrapping paper:

The good part of all this, was that I managed to get things finished much more quickly than I usually do with my "helpers"; the bad thing was, I had about 2 feet to maneuver and felt like I was a sardine!

Anyway, the wrapping and bows were finished, and I wanted to clean up a little bit before starting on our Christmas Eve Risotto for dinner.  There wasn't really a lot to do, just making sure of some things, like Jetsam and Pip having their stockings hung where Santa would find them.

(Don't worry - I found an extra we had to add for Dug!).  The place looked pretty nice by the end of the afternoon.

The Tim got home and we had a lovely, leisurely dinner.  Then while The Tim put bows on his gifts and had a chance to decompress, Dug and I took a walk to Rittenhouse Square to see if I could get some nice pictures of the decorations at night.  I did a pretty good job, if I do say so myself.

Rittenhouse Square Christmas Tree (there is also a menorah.  So many people were there, I couldn't get a good picture.  Sorry!)

The Tree, the ball lights in the trees, and part of 
one of the street lights that always lights the Square.

The Christmas Tree, and the police squad detail gazebo
(that has to be one of the best gigs for a police officer).  

It's so Christmas-y and so festive, that it wears off on most people walking through.  On this Christmas Eve, Dug got himself quite a fan club - at one point there were about 8 people all around him, petting him and paying him all kinds of attention.  I think he was a pretty happy boy, since I had a hard time convincing him that we should come home!

By the time we got home, it was time to put on pjs and relax, before going to bed and hoping that Santa would remember us!

It would have been nice if The Tim could have been home all day on Christmas Eve, but in spite of that, it was a Christmas Eve that was as it should be.  Anticipation, preparation, and relaxation.

We are blessed.

24 December 2011

Ready for Santa

From everyone at our house

 Merry Christmas!

22 December 2011

The Problem with Those At Home

Le sigh.  As you may or may not know, most of our family lives out of town.  This means that we have to mail most of the Christmas gifts every year.  Which means that right after Thanksgiving we are in a frenzy of wrapping, etc., followed by many trips to the post office.  Usually by the second week in December at the latest, we are done with all of that.  Which is a nice feeling, that everyone will receive their gifts on time.

The problem is that I usually then feel like everything is taken care of.  Then one day I come home when The Tim has had a day off, and he informs me that he is finished wrapping gifts.  At which point it occurs to me that a) I haven't wrapped any of his gifts, and b) I often have not started and/or finished whatever I was going to make for him.  Then I need at least a day to feel like an eejit, and berate myself, before I can do anything about it.

I know that by the time Christmas morning rolls around, things will be wrapped and ready to open.  And that even if something I am making is neither started or finished, it will be OK.  But it Makes.Me.Crazy. that I fail to take these things into account every year.  A few years I have been ahead of things, but most years, not so much.


In other news, we have a visitor for Christmas:  Dug the Dog.

He arrived a couple of hours ago, and has made himself happily at home.  Jetsam has not ventured downstairs to investigate yet.  Pip is D-Y-I-N-G to investigate, but is unable to make the leap of faith required to do so.  However, Dug the Dog is crate-trained, and will be sleeping in his crate.  I would not be a bit surprised if at that point, the investigations will begin in earnest!

Stay tuned ...

20 December 2011

Happy Hanukkah!

To all of my Jewish friends - 
May the light follow you all through the coming year.

18 December 2011

And So This Is Christmas ...

And what have I done?  Well, for one thing, I didn't mean to be so long between posts!  But the past 10 days or so have been crazy, both at work and at home, and even though I wanted to post, I was generally too tired by the time I would sit down and even check e-mail.

Not that I wasn't ready for Christmas, just that so many things were going on all at the same time, I barely knew for sure when I'd completed one thing and could move on ... but things are quieter now, and so here I am.

A week ago Friday, we got our Christmas tree.  Jetsam loves the Christmas tree - good for sniffing, getting a head rub from the needles, ambushing the unsuspecting - but Pip was really concerned for a few days.  For one thing, every time he would go to sniff it, he'd get poked in the nose by a pine needle - the nerve!  Then, The Tim put lights on it, and it kept flashing, which the Pipster just was not prepared to see!  The shiny glass bulbs and the garland are interesting though ... I guess we'll see what happens once all of the ornaments are on it.

There has been excitement though - since most of our family and friends are out of town, we have been packing boxes to send, and well, you know how hilarious boxes can be!  A lot of leaping in and out, jumping out unexpectedly at each other, and attacking wrapping paper.  One day last weekend, they had a huge "fight" inside of a box, so I dumped them out, but the tussle continued:

As usual, neither was really the "winner," but I'm sure they were both pretty pleased with themselves and their fierce abilities.  They are truly like little kids who get overexcited with all of the things going on at Christmastime, and when they are not driving us crazy, we get a real charge out of them.

The weather has been annoying, and by that I mean too warm to suit me, but the past few days have felt nice and wintery, so maybe there's hope!  I finished knitting the gifts I wanted to send, but on the chance that any of the recipients happens to drop in here before they open them, I'm gonna wait until later to show you pictures.  I still have something in mind for The Tim, but with an entire week to go, I'm not worried about finishing it.  Trust me, it's not something like a sweater, so I know it's do-able.

Yesterday, cookies were made.  The Tim had made pizzelles and some almond biscotti last weekend, and yesterday he made brown-sugar-ginger cookies, and I made a batch of seven-layer-cookies.  We'll probably make one or two more batches before we call it finished for this year.

I cannot believe that Christmas Day is a week from today - we've had a fun Christmastime so far, and I can't see that the next few weeks will be any different, so I'm a happy camper.

OK, that's it for now.  Next time, I want to show you one of our new decorations, and tell you why it's extra special.  Until then, enjoy!

10 December 2011

A Little Bit of Christmastime Fun

I have a bunch of personal days to take at work by the end of the year, or I'll lose them, so I'm enjoying a lot of December long weekends!  I can highly recommend it, since for me at  least, I love being able to take time off at Christmastime.  When you have some extra time off, everything is just a whole lot more leisurely.

Yesterday was probably my laziest day.  I just noodled around in the morning, and then met my friend Kate for lunch.  I owed her an overdue birthday lunch, and we had a really lovely time, and a yummy meal.  Then I came home and just kinda hung out until The Tim got home from work, at which time we headed out to get a Christmas tree.  We found one that is just so pretty, and our house smells so good now, all pine-y and fresh.

Jetsam is thrilled with the tree.  Pip is puzzled by the whole thing, and *very* worried about the lights, as they go off and than on again, and that can't be a good thing as far as he's concerned.  I have a feeling though, that once the ornaments come out, he'll be a little bit too interested ...

Today there was putting lights on the tree and baking (The Tim), and unpacking the non-tree ornaments and putting them in place (me).  Just a few finishing touches are left.  We'll probably decorate the tree tomorrow evening.  I can't wait!!

In the meantime, we will be leaving the house shortly to go to the Christmas concert of the Philadelphia Boys Choir.  Neither of us have seen/heard them in person, and we are excited for the concert.  (The fact the it's being held less than a ten-minute walk away from our house doesn't hurt, either ...)

Have a lovely Christmastime Saturday evening!

08 December 2011

And Then I Knit ...

In the last installment, I showed you the Doughboy Scarf I knit to give to Ben this year for Christmas.  Well, there was no way I was not going to knit something for Halden and James as well!  I hoped that they would like it and wear it when received, and that it would be special because I knit it with them in mind, but that part is not anything I can control.  So I proceeded, because it's what I really, really wanted to do.

Halden's last name before she got married (and James' middle name) is FitzGerald.  In my regular perusals of the Three Irish Girls site, I'd seen a really lovely colorway with that name, and had always wanted to make something for Halden out of it.

So what happened when I went to order some?  It had been discontinued!  I sent a note, asking about it, and they were nice enough to send me a note suggesting a source that might still have some - SCORE!

Next I had to choose a pattern.  I wanted a cowl, and actually had one in mind, but I tried to use the pattern, and it just didn't work.  So I decided to try a free pattern from Madeline Tosh, called Honey Cowl.  It was fun to knit, but I wasn't really sure how it looked - meaning, did it look nice in the yarn?  After several people assured me quite emphatically that it did in fact look great, I continued.  Pretty quickly, it was done and ready to photograph.

(modeled by Barnsie the Bear, with the top turned over like a cuff)

Project:  Halden's FitzGerald
Pattern: Honey Cowl (short version)
Yarn:  Wexford Merino Silk, in the FitzGerald colorway, from Three Irish Girls
Needles:  Size 8US
Modifications: None.  I couldn't afford enough yarn to make the longer version of the pattern, but the small size was just right.  The yarn could not be nicer - soft, cushy, with a teeny bit of shine to it.  It made knitting the pattern extra enjoyable.  It was my first experience with Three Irish Girls, and I can't say enough nice things about them!

For James, I decided to go with a tried-and-true pattern, my Zach Attack Hat.  I have no idea if James is a football fan, but I know that Ben is, and that little boys often like to be like their fathers.  Since Ben's favorite team is the Denver Broncos, and they now live in Denver, I decided to use the Broncos' team colors, orange and bright blue.  I love the result, and hope he will too!

Project:  A Broncos Hat for James
Pattern:  Zach Attack Hat
Yarn:  Nashua Creative Focus Worsted, in Blue and Orange (I lost the ball bands, so cannot give you colorway numbers, sorry!)
Needles:  Size 7US
Modifications:  I decided to try corrugated ribbing, and I really like the way it turned out!  I also knit two additional rows of the orange before switching to the blue yarn.

Here's another picture for you:

(what can I say, Barnsie is a ham ...)

In the end, I'm happy with all three knits, and hope that they will keep the entire family feeling warm and loved.  Now all I need is their new address, so I can put them in the mail!

05 December 2011

So, I Have Actually Been Knitting ...

It's true, I've been knitting away on some things for Christmas gifts.  I finally have some of them photographed, so it's time to share!

After Doughboy died, I decided that I definitely wanted to knit something special for Ben this Christmas.  He and Doughboy were so dedicated to each other for so long, I knew how sad he was that Doughboy was gone.  And with his work, and Halden and James, I knew he didn't get a lot of time to himself.  It came to me one afternoon at Rosie's - I was going to knit him a scarf that would be like a cuddle with Doughboy! And then I could knit something else for Halden and James too, especially since they have moved to Colorado, where knitted things are not just appreciated, but necessary.

So, first up was the Doughboy Scarf.  I chose some soft, squooshy, black yarn, and decided to go with the basic Seafarers' Scarf pattern, but add a pawprint pattern at each end of the scarf.  I found one (unfortunately, I forgot to note where), and when I got the scarf started, asked The Tim if it would be something he'd wear, and not too girly.  He said he thought it looked great, and would be something a guy would wear.  And so the knitting began in earnest!

I am thrilled with the result:

Of course since it's black, it's nearly impossible to see the little pawprint; I tried to get a closeup, but it's not a lot better:

Anyway, I am happy with how it turned out, and hope that Ben will like it, and that he will think of happy times with Doughboy, as well as a cuddle from him,  whenever he wears it.

Pattern:  Seafarers' Scarf
Yarn:  Fibre Company Canopy Worsted, slightly less than 4 skeins
Color:  Obsidian
Needles:  Size 5US
Modifications:  Adding the pawprint pattern at each end of the scarf.  I'm going to poke around and see I can find it again, and will add it to my Ravelry link if/when I do.

The yarn was great to knit with -soft, with a nice halo and not splitty at all.  Some color would come off on my hands, but not a lot, and a vinegar bath will hopefully set the color so it doesn't come off on Ben's neck!  I loved knitting this scarf, because it made me feel like Doughboy was nearby.

Next up:  Halden's and James' gifts.

01 December 2011

Holiday Preparation Post #4 - Catnip Pillow Toy Tutorial

Hooray!  Today is December 1, which means there are only 24 days left until Christmas!!!  Which of course means I am in Happy Town, since I love Christmastime.

Today I wanted to share something that I did a couple of years ago, which was pretty easy and really popular.  I had received a new sewing machine for my birthday, but had not really had many chances to set it up and try it.  Then I read a magazine article about a woman who made stuffed toys out of worn out socks, and I decided to try making catnip toys for my cats and other cats in the family.  I figured it would give me a chance to practice on my new sewing machine, and that the results didn't have to be perfect, since as long as catnip was involved, what the toy looked like would not matter that much!

As I worked on this project, I took pictures to document what I was doing.  Then it occurred to me that maybe others would like to try something like this, so I put together a little tutorial.  At some point (i.e., when I can figure out how to do it), I'll post it separately as a page or something, but in the meantime, I'm sharing it here for any interested parties.  If you do decide to give it a try, please let me know if it worked out for you!


Worn out socks, washed and dry
Worn out pantyhose/knee highs/tights, also washed and dry
Thread (doesn't have to match anything)
Straight pins
Ribbon trim (optional)
Sewing machine

Part 1

Choose the socks you will use to make the pillows.

Cut them into smaller pieces.

Turn them inside out, and sew one of the open ends shut.

Then turn them right side out again; you should have a pocket.

The first part is complete.

Part 2

You will basically be repeating the above, using the tights/pantyhose.  It's worth it to use this material inside, because the nylon keeps the catnip inside the pillow, meaning that the toy lasts longer.

Again, choose the materials you will use for the inside, and cut them into smaller pieces.

Turn them inside out, sew one end shut, and turn them back to the right side; you now have everything ready to start stuffing!

The second part is complete.

Finishing the pillows

Now, stuff each pocket with catnip, and pin shut for sewing.

(Yeah, I know what this looks like ...)

Sew the pinned part of the pocket shut; the inside of the pillows are ready!

Take a stuffed nylon pocket, and place inside one of the sock pockets.  Pin the end for sewing, and then sew the pillows shut.**

**If you are using ribbon or any other kind of trim, you can add it at the same time you are sewing the outside pillow shut, or you can add it afterwards - personal preference.  BE CERTAIN IT IS COMPLETELY SECURE, so that it can't be eaten/swallowed by a cat, which ruins the fun for everyone!

Give to the recipients for many hours of fun!


I made these a couple of years ago, and though they look pretty disgusting by now, they are still played with on a regular basis.  Definitely some of the most successful gifts I've ever given ...