30 November 2013

FO and a New [To Me] Stitch

I think I mentioned in a previous post that my knitting output this year was underwhelming.  Not that I haven't thought about a lot, I just didn't knit as many things as usual.

However, a week and one day before his birthday, The Tim said casually, "I hope you are thinking of knitting me a hat for my birthday, I could use another knit hat." Let's ignore the fact that he waited to mention this until his birthday was nearly here, and know that I was kind of excited to hear that, since I'd just seen a newly-released hat pattern I'd wanted to try.  I wasn't really convinced that I'd have it ready for his birthday, but I could at least get started.

Another thing in my favor was that I had stash yarn I could use, so I was able to cast on right away.  I got started, and was going along merrily, until my osteoarthritis flared up.  Sigh.  So I had to put things down for about three days.  Meaning that it was even less likely to be ready for the intended day.  But at this point, I wasn't going to worry about it, because it could always become a Christmas gift.

The most surprising thing is, on the weekend before the actual birthday date, I ended up getting quite a lot of it knitted - so much so that I was able to finish it the morning of the day in question!

Welsh Cables

Ta Da!

Project:  Welsh Gathers
Pattern:  Gather, by Alexa Ludeman, at Tin Can Knits
Needles:  Size US4, US6
Yarn:  Garthenor Organic Pure Wool Organic Shetland DK (received in a swap)
Modifications:  None
Comments:  This was fun to knit, as I had never done smocking stitch before, and enjoyed learning something new.  I like the look of it, and this yarn really showed it off well.  The yarn itself was really nice to work with, and made a lightweight but cozy hat.  

I called this "Welsh Gathers" since the yarn was Welsh and the pattern is called "Gather."  I made the Large size, but if I made this again, I would consider making it shorter than the pattern indicates, as it turned out to be a very long hat.  The Tim was thrilled, and just turned up the brim/ribbing, so he was happy with some extra warmth on his ears.  The pattern is very well written, and though the smocking doesn't go all the way around (as I thought it did),* the end result is really attactive.

So for something that had a questionable and shaky start, it all turned out in the end.  I don't know which one of us was more surprised!

*I'm sure I could have figured out how to get it to work so that the smocking was all around, but had neither the time or the strong desire to do so ...

28 November 2013


There are only two ways to live your life.
One is though nothing is a miracle.
The other is though everything is a miracle.
-- Albert Einstein

Remember to be thankful for all of the miracles in your life, today and always.

Happy Thanksgiving!

26 November 2013

Little Things

Today's Ten on Tuesday prompt is:

Ten Things I Am Thankful For

I have a lot of things to be thankful for, and I'm sure if you are reading this, you do as well.  Everyone, everywhere has something - even if not ten things they could list.  And some of the things I'm thankful for are what I think of as obvious choices (at least for me): family, food, a job, clothing on my back, etc. 

So I have decided that I am going to list ten of the little things I am thankful for, and may not think about on any regular given day.  Because they deserve some attention, too!

1.  Deodorant/toothpaste.  I know that it shouldn't matter if someone smells bad, if they are a good person, etc., and I know that this is a First World Issue, but I will admit here and now that if someone smells unpleasant, it's really hard for me to deal with them.  I can, and I do, and I've never ignored someone completely because they don't have access to deodorant and/or toothpaste.  Nonetheless, I am glad it exists, and thankful that most people use it.

2.  The fireplace in our house.  When we decided to buy a house, we made a list of things that it HAD to have, and then other things that would be nice, but are in no way necessary.  A fireplace was on the second list.  Neither of us had lived in houses with fireplaces before, so it's not like we had any expectations.  As it turned out, the house we bought has two fireplaces - one in the living room, and one in our bedroom.  Holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas seem extra special and cozy because we are sitting by the fireplace, and seeing it and hearing the crackle are the best.  And with things going the way they are, I can imagine a time in the near future when use of a fireplace will not be allowed due to air pollution concerns, so I want to enjoy it while I can!

3.  Stuffing.  Yes, I could make it other times of the year, but I don't.  That's part of what makes it so special.  I would marry stuffing if I could.

4.  Seasons.  I love the changes in the seasons.  I would never want to live someplace where the weather is always the same.  Especially if that weather is always hot ... ;-)

5.  Tea.  I do drink coffee on occasion, and of course you probably know my fondness for other, er, "libations" if you are a regular reader, but next to water, the other thing I don't think I could give up completely is tea.  I am somewhat picky about the tea that I like, though not a tea snob.  But it is truly a comfort beverage for me, and does whatever I need it to do.  In the morning, it helps me feel more awake, in the evening it helps me feel relaxed, when it's iced, it quenches my thirst and helps cool me off.  I might have to divorce stuffing and marry tea instead ...

6.  Music.  Even if I am just singing to myself in my head, music is a constant companion, and always has been.

7.  Words.  Language.  Without it, there would be no books, poetry, lyrics, etc.  There are few things more wonderful than well-placed, well-written sentences or phrases.  

8.  Senses.  I am so fortunate to have all of my senses functioning.  It makes me realize that the world is more fantastic than I can ever truly realize.

9.  Laughter.  A world where I couldn't laugh or hear others laugh would not be worth living in, in my opinion.

10. Animals.  All of them, even those I may not like as much as others, or that scare me.  But seeing a bird in a tree, or even seeing the occasional rat in the park* is reassuring to me.  I like knowing that the universe is not just about people.

And there you go.  They may be "little" in some ways, but all of these things are as important to me as the big things.

May all of us have a good combination of the two in our lives!

*Please note: I do not seek out rats in the park, any more than they do me.  And, I do not have any desire to invite one home.  I just think it's good that they have someplace to be rats ...

22 November 2013

Five Favorites for This Friday

Well, I am happy to see the weekend, let me tell you.  I woke up this morning with a terrible headache and a sore throat, neither of which are completely gone, but are also not as bad as they were.  I knew if I could power through the work day, I'd be set.  And I did!

This week was a busy one, and even though it wasn't all great, there were definite high points, some listed below.

1 & 2.  Monday was The Tim's birthday (#1), and both of us took the day off (#2).  It was nice to have an extra day, and to not have any specific plans.  We just hung out, watched movies, drank wine, and went out to dinner.  Not bad.

3.  Related to that, I finished the hat I had been knitting for him, even though I'd figured I wouldn't!  (More details in a later post.)

4.  Pip slept next to me under the covers twice this week.  He is a sweetheart, but when he sleeps right next to you, he wakes up a couple of times, and gives you a rub with his face.  It might bother/freak out some people, but I think it is adorable and love that he does it.

5.  Last night, my yarn shop co-worker Andrea and I went to teach beginning knitting to a women's studies group at a local university.  We had a group of eight very enthusiastic (and some what nervous) women, and at the end of the two hours, all of them had mastered the knit stitch at a minimum.  Only a couple of them had ever even tried knitting before, so they were mostly brand new.  They did so well, and it was so much fun!  Apparently there was even a waiting list!  So who knows, maybe we'll be asked back sometime.

This weekend I'm hoping to play catch-up with some projects around the house and otherwise, and am actually really glad that I don't have any specific commitments.  What about you?  Any good things worth noting for the week, and/or exciting plans?

Whatever the weekend may or may not hold, I hope you have a great one!

19 November 2013

The Purple Blob

A few months ago, I signed up for a Christmas-themed swap on Ravelry.  I enjoy swaps, probably because I love getting stuff in the mail, and also because I've been fortunate to have never been burned, participating in one.**

One of the rules is that you must knit something for your swap partner, and there was a questionnaire to give you info, hints on favorite colors, etc.  My swap partner said that her favorite color was purple, that she liked bulky knits, and texture.  I decided to knit a hat.  Of course, then every single pattern I looked at called for two skeins of bulky yarn, but seemed to only use a small bit of the second skein.  I couldn't really afford two skeins, so I decided to try my hand at knitting a hat using one skein, and got started.

At first, I was just going to do a knit three rows/purl three rows pattern, but as I started, I decided to change it a little.  After a little more than a week, I had a completed hat, that I thought looked very acceptable.  

In the beginning, it was just The Purple Blob, but it turned out to be the 3-5-7 Hat:

Knit three rows/purl three rows; then knit five rows/purl five rows; then knit seven rows/purl seven rows; repeat until you are afraid you are going to run out of yarn, and then decrease, and bind off.

Add a jaunty tassel on the top, and voila!

I think it turned out pretty well, though it doesn't completely cover the wearer's ears (well, it doesn't cover my ears anyway).  But it is purple, it is bulky, and the knit/purl combs give it texture.  That's what she asked for, if you recall.


Project:  3-5-7 Hat aka The Purple Blob
Source:  My brain
Yarn:  O-Wool Legacy Bulky; colorway, Cabbage
Needles:  US9
Comments:  As I mentioned, it probably could have been a little bit longer, but I didn't want to run out of yarn.  The Legacy Bulky is a nice yarn, and the pattern I made up was easy enough to do while watching TV and still required attention to remember when to go from knits to purls.  I think I may try a version - maybe in another weight yarn - and keep notes while I knit, so that I can share the information with anyone who is interested (and now I'm sure you'll all be waiting with bated breath, right???).  I am pleased that I was able to translate something from my brain to the needles, which is something that I wouldn't have had a clue how to do even as recently as a few years ago.

Now I need only to mail the package, and hope she likes it.  But even if she doesn't for some reason, I tried, right?

**There was the time I participated in a swap, where one of the things we were supposed to send was some tea.  My partner was in England, so imagine my surprise/dismay when I opened up the package and there was a box of LIPTON tea!

15 November 2013

Five Favorite [Links] for This Friday

This week, I wanted to do something a little bit different with my Friday favorites. As you may or may not remember, when Google Reader died, I signed  myself up with Bloglovin.  Because it was different, it was "hard" to use at first, but now I am quite happy with it.  However, much more than before, I tend to keep things that interest  me marked as "unread."  I realized the other day that the ones I had were ones I thought worth sharing, and decided to save them for today.

So here are some links that I thought you might enjoy, find useful to know, learn something new from reading.  Enjoy.

1. I know a lot of people have stopped sending holiday cards through the mail, due to postage rates, worries about wasting paper, or just because they no longer feel it's necessary.  I love sending and receiving paper cards, so I was happy to find out that you can send them to St. Jude Children's Hospital where they can be happily repurposed.  And since they use all cards, all year round, there's never a bad time to pass yours along!  Even a cynic like me approves of this idea.

2. The other day on her blog, Steph posted this.  Even a slowpoke knitter like myself can make some tiny hats, and if they do some good, even better!  So take a break from your big projects, and use a few minutes to knit a little hat to make others aware of this aspect of their world they have likely not considered.

3. What's On Your Bookshelf?  (for people like me, who love to snoop ...)

4. This is something every pet owner should read, if you are ever likely to take your pet with you in the car.  It was on our local news the other night, and it seems like something we should all know.

5. It's not the Elf on the Shelf ... but this made me laugh out loud, I have to say!

And on that note, have a lovely weekend!  I hope you have all found at least five things that you like, have been interesting, or have made you laugh this week.

12 November 2013

Oh Wow, Now I'm Hungry ...

First of all, may everyone have a good


And then, we move on to today's Ten on Tuesday, where the topic is:

10 Favorite Thanksgiving Side Dishes

Oh man, this makes me hungry, even though I just ate breakfast and Thanksgiving itself is two weeks away!

Since we are vegetarians, we do not have a turkey (which will give this guy a sigh of relief, I'm sure!); we usually cook some kind of squash, and then have our side dishes, which are a mix of things each of us had growing up, plus some that we added on our own.

1.  STUFFING.  I can already smell it in my mind.  I love stuffing so very much, and to me, the smell of stuffing is the smell of Thanksgiving. The first year Thanksgiving after we stopped eating meat, I was thrilled to realize that our house still smelled like it was Thanksgiving!

2.  Cranberries.  And though homemade cranberry sauce is yummy, I'll admit to loving the canned sauce with the cranberry pieces in it.  I am also perfectly happy with the kind that shows the can idents.  :-)

3.  Mashed potatoes.  One of my favorite foods, period.  Anytime.

4.  Sweet potatoes.  We always fix one type of potatoes for our meal on Thanksgiving Day, and then the other kind with leftovers on the holiday weekend.

5.  Creamed pearl onions.  These are one of The Tim's specialties, and they are delicious!

6.  Mushroom gravy.  Need I say more?

7.  Celery stuffed with cream cheese.  I grew up with this one, and it's not a holiday meal without it.

8.  Green beans or broccoli.  Either way, I'm good. 

9.  Brown 'n serve rolls.  I always liked the store-bought ones, but The Tim likes to make his own, and who am I to argue?

10.  Pumpkin pie.  Yes, technically it's dessert, but it's still part of the Thanksgiving meal.  

And if you don't like that I "cheated" you can just substitute "stuffing" again.  Because in the end, that it is the food I most associate with Thanksgiving.

What about you??

08 November 2013

Five Favorites for This Friday

Hello all - I think it's time to do this again.  It's been a frustrating week at work, and a pretty normal week otherwise, but there are always at least five good things to point out, right?

1.  It's November.  I like November, it always seems like a cozy month to me.  The weather gets cooler, there are lots of family birthdays (including The Tim), and Thanksgiving arrives, which I think is the coziest holiday out there.

2.  Flu shots.  I had a check-up at my doctor's office this week, and got a flu shot.  I had been meaning to get one, and then had to wait until the shingles were well out of the way.  So this week I was able to be shot. (!)  I know some people say the actually get the flu from the shot, but so far, I just have a sore arm.  And hopefully I won't get the flu!

3.  Cardinals.  There have been cardinals in our garden this week.  They are some of my favorite birds, the males being such a pretty red, and both genders being so peepy.  They are also the state bird of Pennsylvania, as well as my home state of West Virginia (and several other states as well).

4.  Knitting students who finish projects during a class.  While I was working at Rosie's on Sunday, my co-worker Andrea was teaching a project class for a bulky, lacy cowl.  The students were not total newbies to knitting, but they were not veterans either.  In spite of the fact that one of them had to start over three times, they both finished their cowls during the workshop time (that hardly ever happens!).   They were thrilled, and they ended up buying more yarn to make the same things for holiday presents.  It's nice when people are happy rather than frustrated when they learn something new.

5.  Manicures that last.  I treated myself to a manicure last Saturday, and only this morning did I remove the polish.  That's a big deal for me, as usually the polish has chipped quite a bit by the evening of whenever I have my nails done, or fix them myself.  I have been making an effort to take care of my nails, since it keeps me from picking at my cuticles.

What about you?  I hope there are at least 5 things you can find from the week!

05 November 2013


The subject line is the description of my knitting output this year.  I only realized it when I went to my pictures folder of "Completed" projects for 2013.  This has been the year of the unfinished and/or frogged project, along with a few bouts of being really sick and also including some plain un-inspiration.

Such is life.  I am disappointed, but will live.  Hopefully I'll be more productive from this point, since I've got lots of things I'm ready to knit in my brain, and God knows, the yarn to knit things!

Remember this post?  Well, the thing I was so close to finishing was my Narragansett sweater.  I was pretty excited.  I managed to get the body knit, and decided to try it all on before starting the sleeves, to be sure that I got the underarm area right.  Well, I put it on, and could have easily fit five of my closest friends in it with me - it was HUGE!  It looked "normal" all the time I was knitting it, so I didn't suspect that it was going to be a problem.  Sigh.  I then decided the following:  1) it was gonna get frogged, 2) the yarn would be put away, and [at least in theory] I would try again next spring,* and, 3) I really did need to finish reading and absorbing the info in Knit to Flatter before I tried another sweater!

Another disappointment, but surprisingly, I wasn't as upset as I would have expected, thinking back on it.  Who knows.  It's in the past now, and in knitting as well as in life, I'm trying to keep moving forward, you know?

Because it's pitiful to be so pitiful.

*Maybe not the same pattern, but I love the color of the yarn, so it needs to be something ...

01 November 2013

Flashback Friday - Dublin

I was realizing today that at this time last year, we were spending our final full day in Ireland, and our second day in Dublin.  In so many ways, it seems so very long ago, then again, it seems very recent.

Then I also realized that I never finished my travelogue of our adventures and photos here on the blog, so I'm going to do that now.

We'd flown into Dublin on our first day, but immediately got our rental car and ventured elsewhere, since we knew we had two days at the end of the trip.  When we had been on our only other Ireland trip in 2003, we'd gotten to spend a day in Dublin, so we knew what to expect, and had fun making plans of what we would do on our return.

As was the case the rest of the trip, we had good weather.  As a matter of fact, the only time it actively rained when we were out, was on our very last day, when we were about 1 1/2 blocks from our hotel, heading back for dinner and the evening.  Not bad, and certainly nothing that interfered with any of our plans.

So, join me for the last part of our trip, before we flew home on November 2, 2012.

Well, you didn't think we wouldn't visit the Museum of Natural History, did you?  (What kind of natural history librarian would I be to skip it?  Besides, even before I started working at one, we both LOVED natural history museums!)

One of the best things about the Irish National Museum of Natural History is that, instead of the approach taken by modern museums, this one makes you feel that you walked right into a true cabinet of curiosities, in the way that it is laid out, and the specimens and exhibits are presented.  It was the best.

This is me standing in front of an Irish Elk, a now extinct creature, but one of my favorites.  We have one in our library's reading room, but the chance to see and Irish Elk in Ireland pleased my inner geek in an amazing way ...


I was excited to see these Blaschka models of scientific specimens.  We have some at our museum, and they are so incredible, even when you see them or hold them in your hands, it seems impossible that they are glass.


Portion of the Hallway of Mammals

Part of the Skull Collection

Then it was on to the National Library of Ireland, where they had a special exhibit in celebration of the centenary of William Butler Yeats.

The skylight dome above the Reading Room.

Then National Gallery of Art of Ireland.  I didn't take any photos inside, but I have to admit that most of the gifts I bought for others were purchased in their gift shop!  Though parts of the galleries were closed for renovations, it was one of those places where each gallery that was open took your breath away with the array of beautiful paintings and objects.

I made a friend after we left there and were walking through town.

We spent our late afternoon taking a tour of the Abbey Theatre, which was so cool, as we had the chance to go backstage, behind the scenes, through some of the wardrobing and costume areas!

The Tim (on the very left here) in front of the Abbey Theatre.  We attended a performance there that evening of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest.  A wonderful and fun way to end the day!

The next day, we headed to O'Connell Street, to walk up and down and go into some of the shops and wander down side streets.

 Daniel O'Connell Monument

 The General Post Office (so gorgeous inside - see below)

This is a bullet hole in one of the columns of the General Post Office from the 1916 Easter Uprising.

Then we visited with one of The Tim's best literary friends, James Joyce.

Then we headed to Powerscourt Townhouse, for some lunch and a trip to This Is Knit!

I bought three skeins of Donegal Irish Wool, and had a wonderful time looking at everything.  The shop staff was so nice, in spite of my blathering on and on.

From there, we headed to another part of town, where we saw St. Patrick's Cathedral. the building and the grounds were truly lovely, though we didn't go inside, because on philosophical grounds we objected to spending money for admission.

And finally, we made our way back to the other side of town, back to our hotel, and preparations to come back home and enjoy our memories.  We covered a lot of miles in those two days, and walked everywhere, so we woudn't miss anything.  It was so hard to leave.  But being able to go in the first place is the real treasure.

Thanks for indulging me looking at my pictures and listening to my tales, both in those post and others.  If you ever have the chance to visit Ireland, I have one word for you - GO!