Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Merry Christmas

I am likely going to be off line for the next week and a half on holidays. Merry Christmas from our family to yours and all the best for the coming new year!

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Holiday Festivities

We spent the day with husband's family yesterday and had a wonderful time! Almost everyone was there--all three sons, the six grand kids, both mother-in-law's sisters. The only one missing was older brother's wife. I'm not sure why she wasn't there. They live in Virginia, so maybe she didn't want to drive all the way to SC? There was also plenty of delicious food. I heard someone comment yesterday that there was enough there for 80 people! Funny thing is that by the time everyone had lunch and then supper later in the day, there wasn't much of anything left.

The neices LOVED their little hats! My oldest neice (she's 9) wore her hat all day. The younger (she's 6) hit me up to knit her a pink scarf to match. Nephew was more interested in his trucks! That's a boy for you. I'll see our other nephew next week, and I bet you that he'll be more interested in his trucks than his hat, too.

The six year old neice was my little knitting buddy yesterday. She kept at me all day to finish the hat I was working on--the blue and black one. I got most of it done, which pleased her. She wants knitting lessons. We'll start those when her arm heals. She fell out of her tree house a while back and is recovering from a broken arm.

Speaking of hats, I have "orders" to make hats for husband's two aunts and his younger brother. I don't mind at all, because I know they'll appreciate them. They've requested the roll brim hats like I made the girls (except brother wants a ribbed one) and those work up in no time. I picked up yarn today for them.

My big job today was wrapping daughter's Christmas gifts. I really do not like gift wrapping, but that task seems to always fall to me. *sigh* Everything is now wrapped and ready to go, with the exception of the last minute items husband and daughter have gone out to buy tonight. These are gifts for me, so I get out of having to wrap them.

I did something today that combined crafts and cooking. I'm making a gift basket for some friends, and I put together some of those mix-in-a-jar things. I did one soup and one cookie bar. I'm so pleased with how they look!! The ingredients are all nicely layered in the jars. I hope the recipients like these.

One and a half more work days, and then I am off for TWELVE whole days. I need this break like you would not believe. Daughter and I are planning to spend the entire time at the beach. When I'm there, I can relax and not feel obligated to do cleaning or anything. I'm also away from my office (which is in the house). Husband is going to be back and forth seeing us, too. He's not taking a lot of time off from work, and so he'll be here to care for the pets.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Sometimes I Amaze Myself

I have a great boss. Work has been like hell on earth lately, and this week--yesterday, actually--was just the moldy icing on the stale cake. My boss, sensing my extreme frustration and realizing how hard I work, gave me strict orders to leave the office as soon as possible yesterday. I work from home but still have an office and hours when I'm expected to be in. I managed to get in an 8 hour day in spite of leaving 2 hours ahead of "scheduled" quitting time. It really helped, believe it or not. I have slightly more energy to face today's onslaught.

After dinner last night (which we actually had at a decent hour due to getting off work early), daughter announced that she needed Christmas gifts for some school friends and wondered if I had any spare yarn. (LOL at "spare yarn." Has this child noticed the stash in my office??) We rounded up some fun fur, Bernat Boa, Patons Twister (a god-awful yarn!), and some sort of soft, feathery type thing without a label. Daughter took off with size 17 needles and the Twister to make a scarf. What a recipe for disaster! Size 17s are not that easy to use--too big and bulky--and that Twister is, as I said, god-awful. It's a blend of something like Boa twisted with a chenile yarn. Chenile. Need I say more?? Meanwhile, I whipped out a scarf on some size 13s in no time. In fact, in about 5 hours total, I made three little frou frou novelty yarn scarfs. I'm rather proud of that accomplishment. Woman as knitting machine.

Husband dear finished off my Kiwi last night. He rubbed it down with steel wool then applied Woodbeams. Following that treatment, he put the wheel together and took it out for a test spin! This was after I'd collapsed in bed for the night.

The wheel is adorable! I'll take photos this weekend and also will let you know how it spins.

The holiday rush officially begins tonight. We have a gift wrap forced march tonight in preparation for the family visit to husband's side of the family on Saturday. We're seeing my side of the family on Christmas afternoon. After that, my vacation time is my own! I like family and friends just fine, but I am a homebody. I am happiest in my own habitat enjoying peace and quiet! Thank goodness we're only invited to one Christmas party this year!!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

How About Walnut?

I sanded all the pieces of my Kiwi last night and tonight I guess is stain night. Husband bought me a can of some sort of Danish oil stain. You can tell I know a lot about woodworking. The stain is in a walnut color. I chose the walnut for a couple of reasons. 1. It matches my new niddy noddy. 2. The color choices were natural, oak, and walnut. Because the wheel itself is MDF, I didn't think natural would look good. Oak seems like it would be a reddish tint, which I didn't want. I hope that I can use this stuff indoors, because it's really cold out on the porch. I am anxious to get the wheel stained so that tomorrow night I can apply the paste wax (hoping one coat of oil stain will be sufficient) and get the wheel put together by the weekend. I really expected husband to be doing all this work for some reason, but I know that once my wheel is together, I'll be proud to have been the one to make it beautiful.

Carolyn, I'm still looking for that Christmas spirit. It's behaving somewhat like that sneeze that just won't come out! It starts sneaking up and just when you think "this is it," it's gone again!

Lissa, unfortunately I'm not close to your area, or I'd be hunting you and Amie down for some spinning fun! Did I miss any other comments? I've been getting a lot of them lately. Keep 'em coming, because I'm also a comment addict!

I worked a bit on the black and blue hat last night during Earthsea. I kind of lost interest in that mini series last night. The hat is coming along nicely. I don't know if I'll finish it in time to gift it for Christmas, but we shall see. I'm eyeing some of my handspun that might make a nice hat for me. It's a corriedale cross fiber in deep teal and magenta. I bought it from Linda at Grafton Fibers during SAFF in October. The yarn is pretty. I'm not really a hat person, but I've never knit any of my handspun and it's about time!

Thank goodness today is Wednesday and next week is a short week. I am mentally and physically exhausted and seriously thinking of asking for next Monday through Wednesday off. I already have off the week between Christmas and New Year. I'm dealing with some major stress at work (it's hard being the boss!) and it's about to take a toll on me. Y'all send some good thoughts my way.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

It's Here!

I picked up the wheel this morning at the post office. What a tiny little box it came in! I don't know what I was expecting, but not anything this little! For some reason, it didn't dawn on me that the wheel was coming as a kit and we'd have to assemble it. I can't think of a better way to get to know a wheel than by putting it together!! We're going to need to sand the wood and stain and seal it. I'm leaning towards a walnut stain rather than natural. The Lendrums, Schacht, and Louet are all natural color, and I want something a little different in the Kiwi. Dave at Merlin Tree suggested sanding the wheel itself a little to give it a woodgrain appearance. It is MDF.

I cast on for a new hat last night. I'm using some Plymouth Encore in a royal blue and black combination. I bought this yarn for another project (socks) but they were turning out too gigantic and stiff. I really love the yarn colors. I would post a picture, but the camera has gone missing. It has to be here somewhere.

I did a bit more Christmas shopping today. The spirit is slowly seeping in, but not overwhelming. I even lugged the gift wrap out of the hall closet and wrapped the gifts for my employees. Those have to be mailed, so I had no choice but to get the wrapping going. We are seeing husband's family on Saturday, so someone better get wrapping those gifts!!

If you have a few minutes, you really need to go visit Lissa. She has a new blog, and I understand she's a bit addicted to comments left in her blog! Go say howdy to her.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Wheel Is In Town...

The new wheel is in town, but unfortunately it isn't at my house! I had a meeting today during the normal time I take my lunch break and go pick up daughter at school. Because of the meeting, she stayed in after school care so that I could pick her up later. Of course, the mail woman had to be running late today!! I came home to find a nice little card tucked in the mail box informing me that my wheel was sitting in the post office. I can pick it up tomorrow, but I sure was looking forward to having it tonight. The high speed kit came in the mail today. I have a drive band and a whorl, but it's not doing me any good at present!!

Husband is getting ready to wind the warp for Mom's scarf. Actually, he's outside building a raddle for his loom. Don't ask me what that is. I don't weave!

I've finally decided this Christmas thing just has to happen whether I'm in the mood for it or not. Shopping is one more thing to have to do, but the Internet does make it easier! I also don't see anyone else rushing out to do it. I'm in the process of ordering gifts for husband and praying they arrive on time! I have already purchased one item tonight and it should be delivered on December 28. That's OK, because that's perfect timing for this particular gift! I can't be more specific since husband reads my blog. (You'll like it, honey. Trust me!)

I was sweating bullets about not getting daughter's annual Precious Moments ornament this year, but Super Husband came through! I sent him a URL last week, and he ordered the ornament while I was in VA. It came tonight. You know, those Precious Moments ornaments really are precious! This year's features mittens. How perfect! This is the 12th annual ornament daughter is adding to her collection.

Brother and I are going in together to give Mom a Christmas gift. He did the shopping yesterday, so I just have to write him a check. Mom had her kitchen redone this year including getting a ceramic top stove. She wanted new pots, and we've gotten her a set of All Clad stainless steel pots. I have two sets of All Clad and they are the best pots and pans I've ever used. Mom is going to be thrilled!!

We are seeing husband's family on Saturday, so I need to get to gift wrapping and make sure we have a present for everyone. Husband is baking cheesecake (he makes the most wonderful cheesecake) and I am likely making a casserole to take along. I think everyone is going to bring a dish to share. Mother in law put in her order for cheesecake. She's addicted!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Seventeen Years Ago Tonight...

Husband and I said I Do seventeen years ago tonight. We were just kids, only 22 years old and almost fresh out of college. Marriage takes work if you want to make it last. It's not some fairy tale like TV or Hollywood would have us believe. The last seventeen years have been hard and easy, good and bad, but it has all been worth it. I can't imagine my life without this man beside me. There is no one else on earth I'd rather share the joys and even the pains of life with than my husband. I hope that when daughter chooses a husband, she finds a man that is as wonderful and loving as her father.

We enjoyed our weekend in Asheville. It was darned cold, though, and it rained, sleeted, and snowed all day Saturday. Biltmore House was gorgeous as ever. We enjoyed the tour very much. I think we all liked the wine tasting at the Biltmore winery much better, though!! Husband and I came home with three bottles for ourselves, a bottle of grape juice (daughter's favorite) and a bottle of wine for a Christmas gift.

We visited Earth Guild where we bought a new reed for the loom and a kniddy knoddy for me. I think these things are going to be wrapped up as Christmas gifts. We went to Yarn Paradise in Biltmore Village. They are still on the second floor of their building while the bottom floor is undergoing renovations. The Biltmore Village area suffered a lot of damage this fall due to flooding related to all those hurricanes that bashed Florida. We drove over to Black Mountain, too, and visited Wild and Wooly, formerly The Naked Sheep. The store changed locations last year and changed names, too. I must say that I was sorely disappointed with the new location and yarn selection. The new store seems terribly crowded to me, and I think they've cut their stock in half at least. I did manage to find some sale bin yarn. I got 12 skeins of Koigu KPPM for $4.50 each. I found two variegated colorways and two solids.

We visited one of the galleries in Black Mountain and saw lots of woven items, knitted hats, and felted hats and a purse. I was amazed at the prices--quite expensive! I guess I looked at those items as a knitter and person knowledgable about the cost of materials. Based on what looks to be a three times cost of materials markup, I'm gifting someone with a $100 purse for Christmas! Mom found a gorgeous yet very simple woven chenile scarf that she liked. It was made in jewel tones and black and was very striking! The price tag on it was around $50. We stopped off in Columbia this afternoon and purchased materials to make one for her (as a surprise Christmas gift) at A.C. Moore. I hope husband can get it whipped out in time!

Speaking of A. C. Moore, I was very impressed with their selection and quality of yarn. They have some of the major brands. I even found 100% feltable wool and some to die for mohair! *sigh* Thankfully, I resisted the urge to buy more yarn. I really need to knit through some of the stash first. I did pick up another knitting bag or possibly it will be a spinning bag. How could I go wrong in getting a great looking tapestry bag for only $4?? Daughter got herself a little tapestry tote bag purse for about $2.50.

The Christmas countdown has officially begun. Daughter has only 4 1/2 days of school this week. I only have 8 more work days, but possibly will spend one of those days working from the beach. Having a portable job does have its perks! I'm really not into Christmas at all this year. It just feels like a big chore to get through. I decorated at the beach but haven't even put a stocking up in the house. I have more Christmas gifts left to buy than are already bought--and I couldn't care less! Forget Christmas cards. I wrote the obligatory cards to the employees, but that's it. *sigh* I'm just looking forward to time off work. I could do without the rest. (And don't go feeling sorry for me just because I'm more bah humbug than deck the halls. I don't feel a bit sorry for not being in the Christmas spirit!)

Friday, December 10, 2004

Due North

We're heading out to Ashville later on today. We'll be meeting some family and friends there and will tour Biltmore Estate on Saturday night. The house is lovely this time of year, especially at night. It has been several years since we've been to Biltmore, so everyone is looking forward to it.

Tomorrow will find husband, daughter, and me exploring some local fiber shops. I know a trip to Earth Guild is planned as well as a side trip over to Black Mountain to visit the yarn shop there. I am looking for Cestari yarn, and the shop in Black Mountain is supposed to have that.

Sunday, we are celebrating our 17th wedding anniversary! We are so excited about that. It really seems like a milestone among people our age particularly. I wonder where the time has gone. It seems like only yesterday we were just kids in college, yet we've known each other for over 21 years now and been married 17 of that.

In knitting news, I've worked almost all of the first fluted banister sock. I need to do one more inch and then start the toe decreases. This is not the current 6 Sox KAL sock, but the one before it. I lost interest in the sock and went on to work on other projects. I also have the second fluted banister to do and the second Little Shell to do. Socks are not good to many people if they are in singles! Both these socks are for daughter. The fluted banister was supposed to be for me, but it is too small. I'm using Plymouth Sockotta which is mostly cotton, and I think that may be why the sock won't fit me.

My Knitty SP (who has not yet revealed herself to me, btw) gifted me with two skeins of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool last month. I have approximately 382 yards and need to find a pattern! I'm thinking scarf and possibly the feather and fan pattern. I cast on for a different scarf pattern earlier in the week and it didn't work out to suit me. I may cast on this scarf over the weekend.

I've been saving some big news for the grand finale here. A new wheel is coming to live with me thanks to my wonderful husband! He bought me an Ashford Kiwi modified to fold. It is a small wheel and quite portable. I'm also getting the High Speed Adapter Kit. The wheel ships today, so I should be happily spinning with it next week. Carolyn, if we manage to make our spinning meet up in a few weeks, you can give the new wheel a turn!

I love my Schacht wheel beyond belief, but it is not very portable. It's also a beautiful and costly wheel, and I always worry about damaging it when I take it outside the house. The Kiwi is a fraction of what the Schacht cost and also much smaller. I'll still be careful with it, of course, but hopefully traval will be a bit more fun with it. I'm going to contact The Bag Lady after Christmas and see about getting a carry bag made for the Kiwi.

I wish you all a wonderful weekend. I won't be blogging over the weekend, but will try to give you an update on Sunday night. I'm taking the camera, so hope to have pictures to share with you!

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Just When You Least Expect It...

You just might find a spinner just when and where you least to expect it! I'm out of town this week attending a business meeting, and I found out yesterday that one of my co-workers is a spinner! She's a knitter, too. We've had a great time talking knitting and spinning. It turns out that of the 25 people at our meeting, 4 are knitters and 2 of us are spinners.

I brought along 3 knitting projects with me this week thinking I'd either have time to knit on the plane or in the evenings after work. As it turns out, I haven't touched any of the projects. The training I'm attending is so draining that I just want to collapse at night. It will be nice to get home and back to my family and my knitting peace and quiet.

This weekend we're heading to Asheville. I'm hoping husband will let me take him to Earth Guild to buy his Christmas present. I don't know for sure what to get him (should consult that wish list again!) but I am sure Earth Guild has some things that will be of interest.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Hats in the Home Stretch!

I've finished knitting the four hats that I had to get done for the neices and nephews for Christmas. I decided to go for the pom poms on the boys' hats, and they look cute. The girls' hats are topped off with I-cord umbilical knots and are adorable, I think. I can't wait to see these on the recipients. The last step is to sew on the decorative buttons. The two boys' hats will get dinosaur buttons; the red girl's hat will get smiley face flowers; and the pink girl's hat will get butterflies. Here's a picture of what the hats look like at present:

The red, dark green (it looks black in my photo), and pink hats are made from Bernat Softee Chunky yarn. The only good things I can say about this yarn is that it knits up quickly and it's machine washable. The yarn was most definitely not a pleasure to knit. The lighter green hat is made from worsted weight Lion Brand Woolease.

Shame on me, but I've got my eye on a new wheel. I'm beginning to think a more portable wheel than my beloved Schacht would be nice for traveling. I am seriously considering an Ashford Kiwi that has been modified to fold. The cost is under $250 which fits my budget fairly well. Hmmm...decisions, decisions.

You have got to see what Carolyn has spun! Take a look at her page to see the lovely yarn she made from fiber purchased at Wild Fibre in Savannah. That lucky Carolyn was even able to go sit and spin in the store this weekend. Yes, I'm jealous!! We're hoping to be able to get together for some spinning during the holidays.

Husband went on a fiber journey yesterday. He came home with a brand new looking Harrisville loom bench to go with the loom we bought last Christmas and some boat shuttles. All of the stuff looks brand new, and he got it for a song. A lady in the upper part of the state is clearing out here fiber equipment, and he bought from her. Husband also took a little side trip over to Yarns to Dye For in Hendersonville and came home with some luscious looking Cascade Pastaza that is destined for the dye pot. The yarn is a 50/50 llama wool blend.

Daughter and I stayed home yesterday so that she could study for a big English test she has Monday. I also conquered Mount Laundry and started packing for my trip to Charlottesville. I leave today for a 3 day business trip. One of my co-workers and best friends is a fiber fanatic, so we're thinking of trying to get over to Stony Mountain Fibers or to The Needle Lady while we're in the area.

I may or may not have blogging time this week. It all depends on how the meetings go. I'll be glad when they're over. I really am becoming more and more of a home body the older I get. I am, however, looking forward to next weekend. We're going to Asheville to visit Biltmore Estate and celebrate our 17th wedding anniversary.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

To Pom, or Not to Pom

I finished nephew 1's hat last night. It turned out cute. The question now is do I top it with a pom pom or not. I'm leaning towards doing it, but husband says no. Hmmm...I think I'll try it, and if it looks freaky, I can take it off. A four year old won't fuss too much about a pom pom, I don't think.

One hat down, and three more hats to go. I'm going to cast on for one of the girls' hats tonight. I'm using a bulky yarn and just doing a roll brim hat. I should be able to knock that out in a day or two.

Daughter and I have been invited to a Chinese Gift Exchange party. I have an idea of what that is, but I've never really been to one. We have to find a gift that costs $10 or less and is suitable for an 11-12 year old girl. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Wednesday is Picture Day

I'm past due in sharing pictures with you, but today is makeup day. Let's start with one from last week's school musical. It's all about the poodle skirt!

The kids were great. I must say that daughter has great stage presence. Here's this 11 year old girl on stage in front of a few hundred parents and grandparents showing absolutely no nervousness. She delivered her lines wonderfully. You could really believe she was Mary Lou, a typical 1950s high school girl. OK...so I'm her mother. Maybe I'm just a tiny bit biased. There were quite a few people coming up to her afterward saying what a great job she'd done, and not all these people were relatives either!

The next few shots were taken at the beach during Thanksgiving break. Here's one of daughter trying to escape from the waves. That water was cold! It was pretty darned windy on the beach, too, as you can tell by that hair.

We enjoy the beach in fall and winter, because we can get away with feeding the seagulls a few crumbs without annoying anyone. Isn't this a great shot? Look at that sky! Gorgeous!

Finally, here's a shot of the "shell seekers." I don't know why we need to collect all these shells, but we seem to come back with a pocket full after every walk. You can see the completed Bzzzz Hat from Stitch 'n Bitch Nation in this photo. Daughter loves it! I think it turned out too big, but she loves it.

Look what I found today! Kitty nap time. On the left is Mocha and on the right is the often camera shy Rebecca.

I will likely complete one of the Christmas gift hats tonight. Last night I worked up to the point where I have to start decreasing. I'm pleased with the results so far. I'm using Ann Budd's Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, one of my favorite books!