Sunday, December 31, 2006

New Year's Eve

It's overcast this morning. We had rain last night and likely will get more before the day is over. That's just fine; I like days like this. They are soothing in a way. Our plans for the day include staying in and doing knitting or spinning, so the weather really won't impact that.

I played more with my Bosworth minis yesterday. They are wonderful. The paduak spindle spins better than the walnut, but husband thinks perhaps the hook just needs some adjustment. I spun up the sample fiber that Sheila had started on the spindles and am now ready to tackle either some silk hankies or some silk roving that I bought at SAFF this fall.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have some Christmas money that was given with the instruction to spend it on fiber related goodies for myself. I've had a serious case of lust for Golding's Midnight Sky spindle since the day I laid eyes on it. It is heavier than any of my other spindles at close to 60 grams, so it would fit into the collection nicely. I've heard good things about the spin of these spindles, too. I probably will order this on Tuesday. I'd thought of buying myself a piece of jewelry with my Christmas money, but I think the spindle will likely bring me more pleasure.

We made a trip over to Aiken yesterday with the primary goal of locating a Spring Formal gown for daughter in mind. I'm pleased to say that we were successful! Daughter is part of a social dance class in town, and they have two formals each year--Christmas and Spring. Spring Formal in particular is a BIG DEAL! The bridal shops are pretty good about not selling the same gown to more than one girl which I think is nice. That also means you cannot delay in looking for a gown, and when you find one, you'd better buy it then! We looked through the stock of one of the oldest bridal stores in the area and found several prospects. Unfortunately, many of them had already been spoken for by other girls attending the Formal. We perused a lot of catalogs, and daughter decided on one design company as being her favorite. They had a lot of the "princess" type dresses that daughter fancies. Princess dress = ball gown style. As luck would have it, the store had a gown by this designer on the rack, and it was in daughter's size and color. She tried it on, and husband said he could see her eyes light up when she stepped out of the dressing room. I'm glad he went with us for this shopping trip. I know daughter well, and when she has her mind made up, there's no changing it. She knows what she likes which makes it much easier to shop. This is the dress daughter will be wearing. (Please disregard the hoochie mama pose of the model.) This photo does not do justice to the gown. It is absolutely magnificent in person. It includes spaghetti straps that can be attached as well as a shoulder wrap in matching tulle netting with beading and sequins on the ends of the wrap. Daughter's dress is lilac.

We tried a great wine this weekend by Duplin Winery out of NC. We like sweet red wine, and their Hatteras Red certainly fits the bill. It is delicious. We had it with dinner, but I think it would go well as a dessert wine. The muscadine flavor reminds me of childhood and time spent munching grapes off our grape vine or the vines at my aunt and uncle's house. I am eager to try more wines by Duplin. We found them at our local Fresh Market store, and they are quite affordable.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

What Happened?

I cannot believe Christmas has come and gone, the New Year is almost upon us, and worst of all my vacation from work is coming to a close. UGH.

The best part of the holiday, however, is that the darned Christmas decorations are packed away and stored in the attic. The living room is clean once again, and boy does it look bigger without that tree taking up so much space.

I'm currently working on another illusion knitting project--a skull and cross bones scarf in hot pink and white. I'm not sure that I like this one....

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Show Me the Goodies

It was a bountiful Christmas as far as fiber related gifts received. We received a gift certificate to a not so local LYS. The store is only about 4 hours away in Asheville, NC, and we do make at least a couple of trips per year to Asheville. I imagine they'll do a phone order for us, too, if we decide to take that option. We also received cash, so that will come in handy for a fiber related goody or two! In fact, Mom instructed us to use her cash gift for fiber things, as she was too overwhelmed by it all to know what to pick! She is not a knitter or spinner herself.

Here is some cool yarn given to us by a non-knitter. I like the colors a lot. This isn't a yarn I'd have chosen for myself, but I think it will be fun to knit into a scarf. It will go with my jacket, too!

Here are goodies from husband and daughter. I am thrilled to now own both the Lantern Moon bee tape measure (been eyeing him for a while!) and the tiny little Clover Kacha Kacha! Husband says he'll make me a string to put through it so I can wear it around my neck. That should help keep it handy. Also pictured are 4 ounces of silk roving hand dyed especially for me by husband and two Bosworth mini drop spindles. They, too, were made just for me, as husband specified the whorl and shaft woods. The spindle on the left has a walnut whorl and shaft. It is 13 ounces. The spindle on the right is 12 ounces with a paduak whorl and a cherry shaft. Aren't they gorgeous??

I also received a copy of One Skein Wonders which I'm enjoying very much and Chris Daughtry's CD. Chris was my pick for winner of American Idol, but I believe he's probably better off not having the network/record company dictate to him what his CD will be.

My favorite gift came from daughter. She took art this past semester at school as an elective. Part of the curriculum was clay work. Daughter made this pitcher and gave it to me. She hand sculpted it and hand painted the glaze. I'm thrilled with it. It will get a place of honor on my desk.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

That's The Coolest Thing I've Ever Seen

We had my mom, brother, grandma, brother's girlfriend, and her little boy here for Christmas today. It was good having everyone. We had way too much food, of course, it it looks like I'll make it for the next few days without having too cook!

Believe it or not, we were gifted with yarn! Brother's GF got us two skeins of yarn from a shop in Asheville, NC. It's fru fru type yarn in really pretty blue shades that will make a great scarf! Brother gave us a gift certificate to the same yarn store, so I guess that means we need to make a trip to NC! I think my family is finally getting it about our fiber addiction! They commented about enjoying their visit to the store, how much fun they had, how gorgeous the yarn was, that they wanted one of each....Hmmmmm....future knitters? Maybe? I think that my brother is probably the most likely candidate, so maybe I need to start working on getting some needles and yarn into his hands.

The title of this post sums up my brother's response to his gift of an Alien Illusion Scarf! He was so excited about it that it made the staying up until midnight last night to finish it worth it! He's already wanting more illusion scarfs, so I'm scouring the internet in search of them. So far, I've found a cool skull and cross bones and some robots....I'm thinking skull and cross bones for myself and maybe for him if he's nice to me! We also gave some other knitted gifties--a ribbon yarn scarf for mom, an Eros type yarn scarf for brother's GF, and a simple shawl for Grandma. I think everyone liked those gifts. We got them some other store bought items, too, but the knitted things seemed to be the bigger hit....particularly with my brother.

Oh...we received a hand made gift from a friend of the family. His daughter makes fleece blankets--the kind where you layer two pieces of fleece and attach them with knitted fringe around the edges. Husband and I got one to share, and daughter got one of her own. They are great--so soft and heavy. They'll be perfect for snuggling. Our blanket even has a stripe of burgandy in it that is a great match to the new pillows I just bought for the sofa.

I'll try to post pictures later. I'm too exhausted to think about it tonight.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Christmas Meme

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? I like both, but I prefer homemade to the mix cocoa. Ditto homemade egg nog. The store bought kind is way too sweet and slimy!

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? Santa is too busy to wrap presents. He needs to spend that time making toys, not worrying about gift wrapping!

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? I like both, but my preference is colored lights. We put white lights on the tree this year, and it looks really cold and blah in my opinion.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? No, but I used to. It's not readily available where we live now, but when I was a kid, it grew in the trees in our yard.

5. When do you put your decorations up? Usually the second weekend in December which just happens to coincide with our wedding anniversary. I want the tree down and out of the house as soon as possible after Christmas, though, and have been known to take it down on Christmas Day! It absolutely must be out of the house no later than New Year's Eve.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? I don't have a favorite that isn't a dessert! Christmas cookies are my favorite, especially my mom's special recipe sugar cookies.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child: One Christmas morning my brother and I found "reindeer" hoof prints in our front yard! We were so excited. In actuality, the prints were from white tail deer that lived in the woods behind our house.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I had a feeling about Santa from the time I was 7 or 8. I still played along, though, because 1. you get more gifts when you believe in Santa and 2. I have a brother who is about 5 years younger than I am.

9. Do you open a gift on Christmas Eve? No, not usually. As a child, we opened gifts with my grandparents on Christmas Eve.

10. How do you decorate your Christmas Tree? I have a jumble of ornaments that we've collected over the years. Some are ornaments my parents sent me for my tree when I was in college. We have a large collection of Precious Moments figurines, too. I started collecting these for my daughter her first Christmas. We're up to 14 ornaments now.

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? I like snow well enough, but I'm glad that I don't have to deal with it on a routine basis.

12. Can you ice skate? No.I'm completely uncoordinated.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? As a kid? No....I can't think of anything that really stands out in my mind.

14. What’s the most important thing about the Holidays for you? Spending time with my husband and daughter.

15. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Christmas cookies, especially Mom's sugar cookies.

16. What is your favorite holiday tradition? I don't have one.

17. What tops your tree? Nothing is on top of our tree this year. We had an angel, but I really don't like her anymore....

18. Which do you prefer giving or receiving? Both. I don't care for shopping, but I like giving people things. I know that doesn't quite make sense!

19. What is your favorite Christmas Song? Anything Amy Grant sings. She has a beautiful voice.

20. Candy Canes… Yuck or Yum? They look pretty on the tree, but I end up tossing them all away about March! Who can eat that much candy??

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Looks Like I Made It

Just 10 minutes until I am officially on vacation from work. That is the point at which the computer will be shut down and the phone line unplugged. Hallelujah! Maybe I can learn to breathe again between now and January 3.

Daughter has some sort of mysterious Christmas gathering this afternoon, and I believe I'll hit the yarn shop while she's at that. I am running a little short on yarn for the Alien Illusion Scarf and need to pick up more. I am so pleased with this scarf! It is a breeze to work, and actually, it works up quickly. The patterning is just every other row (the even rows) with the odd rows being all knit or purl. I'm not having any trouble at all dealing with the chart or the two different colors of yarn, but I know this is a very simplistic pattern. I'll try to get some photos of this for you soon.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Winding Down

The countdown until my Christmas vacation is now 3 more work days to survive. *edited out pure, unadulterated bitching about job. I realize my job is really a dream come true. It could be better, yes, but it could be a whole hell of a lot worse! Thank god for a college education is all I've got to say.*

Daughter and I went to the movies yesterday and had a great time. We saw The Holiday starring Jack Black, Kate Winslett, Carmen Diaz, and Jude Law. It was fantastic. Ladies, I think this one is a chick flick, so leave your man at home and either grab your best girlfriend like I did or go to the theatre by yourself. This is the first time I've truly liked Jack Black in a movie. He was so good in this one that I just wanted to pinch those chubby cheeks!

On the knitting front I've come to the insane conclusion that immediate family must have a little something knitted as part of their Christmas gift. What the bloody hell am I thinking?? Husband has taken care of his mom and dad--a beautiful mohair shawl for her and a pair of Fuzzy Feet for him. I finished up a quick and easy cheap yarn shawl for my grandmother. She's all about the color and the feel than she is about the yarn quality, so she'll love it. Bonus--she can wash it in the machine. I completed a ribbon yarn scarf for mom using some of that Lion Brand ribbon yarn that has been in the stash for a couple years now. I just need to weave in the ends. That just leaves brother dear. I think that he needs an Alien Illusion Scarf. I'm not sure why I think this.....I picked up the yarn yesterday and hope to cast on this afternoon. Wish me luck!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Love Will Keep Us Warm

Many thanks to all who sent happy anniversary wishes. We had a rather quiet day of it on Tuesday. Our celebration happened on Saturday night in conjunction with daughter's formal, her friend coming for dinner, etc.

Yes, over these 19 married years, our love has kept us warm. However, sometimes a nice warm blanket is just a bonus. I'd contemplated making Lizard Ridge and even started buying some single skeins of Kureyon for it. That was before I saw this! This blanket just suits my style more than Lizard Ridge. That doesn't mean there isn't a Lizard in my future, but for now, I'm thinking Mitered Squares are in the immediate future. The sample was made in Silk Garden, but I'm going to use Kureyon instead.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nineteen Years Ago Today....

Nineteen years ago today, I married my best friend.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Count Down Has Begun

Yes, I actually took the time last week to enter into my electronic calendar at work "X number of days until my Christmas vacation." I did it on every single work day that I have left until I start glorious vacation time. There are currently 7 work days until my vacation starts, and then I won't even have to think about work until January 3. I can't wait.

For some of this family, vacation starts at 10 AM on Thursday. Daughter has mid-term exams starting tomorrow with early dismissal Tomorrow and Wednesday. Her last exam is Thursday and then she's out until January 3. She's excited, I think.

We've been dashing around tonight getting the last touches on the gifts she's taking for her friends. She baked cookies last night, and we put bags of those together with Hershey Kisses, candy canes, and a hand made reindeer ornament into gift bags for each friend. I think they'll like them.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Lazy Sunday

We've had a lazy Sunday today which is just what we all needed after the Super Spectacular Saturday!

Daughter's Christmas formal was last night, and it was a day full! Her social partner came over to our house, and I made a fabulous and fancy dinner for all of us to kick off the start to a celebratory evening. It was a day of work to get the house in order and get the meal prepared, but it was well worth the effort. I broke out my Best of Biltmore cookbook and made us filet mignon with shitake mushroom and red wine sauce, green beans with caramelized onion. I also prepared Emeril's kicked up mashed potatoes which are loaded with sharp cheddar cheese, bacon crumbles, and green onion. We washed it all down with sparkling grape juice and had creme brulee for dessert. I tried to make dinner extra special for the kids (and for husband and me!) by using our formal china (Lennox Charleston) and our crystal. We even had candle light. I think the kids were more impressed by our nice dinner at home than they would have been by a noisy restaurant.

The dance, by all accounts, was fantastic. All the girls were beautiful in their long gowns and the boys were handsome in suits and ties. Of course, I think daughter was the most beautiful girl there and her date was the most handsome young man. I'm only a little biased. I won't post a photo, because I don't think it's fair of me to post a picture of someone else's child.

After the dance, 8 couples and their parents met at one family's house for a little Christmas cheer. We had a nice time visiting and eating. It was well into the wee hours by the time we got home, but it was a night to remember. I hope daughter will cherish these memories for a long time to come.

Exams start on Tuesday, then school is out for Christmas vacation on Thursday morning. Yay! I think we're all looking forward to it. As for my schedule, just 8 more working days until my vacation starts, but who's counting? I don't go back to work until after the new year.

I finished up my angora mitts this morning. I'm pleased with the way they turned out. They are so soft and warm! I'll try to get a picture of them later in the week.

We got the tree and living room decorated on Friday night. It looks OK, except I'm not happy with the white lights we used this year. The tree looks a little bland and cold with those lights. Next year, it's colored lights for sure.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Angora Love

Mmm....Angora. I love the stuff whether it's in the form of wonderful yarn or a simplyl delightful Angora Bunny. Last night, I finished knitting something that is just about as warm and soft as that little place behind Phoebe's ears--the first mitt of a pair of fingerless mitts for myself. I'm using this pattern more or less and Reynolds Devotion yarn.

The yarn is roughly 50/50 angora/nylon. It has such a nice halo! I just love that. The color is so pretty, too. The photo below is pretty close but perhaps a little more hot pink and less red in person.

My row gauge is a little off from what the pattern specifies, but these things are so forgiving. I just kept trying on my mitt and making notes so that I can duplicate the second one. When I slipped this thing on, my hand wanted to do a happy dance!!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Welcome to Lizard Holler

I am the amazing Lizard Rescue Woman! If there is a lizard in distress, I'll be there to save him--provided he is somewhere in the house here. In the past 24 hours, I've rescued three lizards, or perhaps it has been the same one three times. Who knows? These little guys (or one little guy) keep getting in the house, and the cats just have a field day. Socks greeted me this morning with a strange, deep throated meow and a tail hanging out of her mouth. A good smack on the head made her release her prey so that I could gather it up into a jar and put it safely outside. How many times am I going to have to repeat this before the darned lizards get a clue?

I promised pictures before the week ended, and you're going to get them today. Here's a hat that I made from some of my own handspun yarn. This yarn is a single spun thick on my Lendrum. I started with a batt of Corriedale from Grafton Fibers.

I'm pleased with how this turned out, and I do believe it is easily the prettiest thing I've made with my own handspun so far.

I knit this hat with Patons SWS in color denim.

I am loving that i-cord bind off! It just makes the hat, I think.

My current project is a top down capelet. The pattern is from a friend (not published) and just uses simple raglan increases. I'm using cheap yarn--Plymouth Encore in an oatmeal color--but surprisingly, it's turning out well. I just really prefer natural fibers to the artificial, being the yarn snob that I am!

We have a busy weekend planned. We need to go out and get our Christmas tree which means we'll also need someone *cough* husband *cough* to climb into the attic and retrieve the decorations. Daughter has a paper and a project for school, and she also needs to start preparing for exams which happen in two weeks. We may have someone coming to give us an estimate on closing in our garage and converting it to a rec room.... There's just a lot going on. Of course, I figure that somewhere in there, I'll find time to sit and knit a bit or sit and spin. Wish me luck.