Saturday, December 30, 2006

Welcome to My 100th Post

Have you ever had anything sort of insignificant that you anticipated in such a way that it got built up to be a big deal when it really wasn't? That's where we are with this post. This is my 100th post and I've been thinking all week about what would be a worthwhile topic. Turns out, I just don't have anything that interesting to talk about. So instead of a monumental post, we're stuck with our average everyday grab bag of a post that we here at Ok! What Next?? have come to hold so dear.

International Scarf Exchange, Go Figure

On Christmas Eve eve, I found a bulky brown package in my mailbox. It was my International Scarf Exchange knit by Kathy. (Who is blogless, as far as I know.)
God Rest Ye Merry Puppy Dogs

We spent Christmas Eve at my husband's aunts' house. They have big dogs and Sally played hard but she was finally persuaded to take a little rest by the fire while we opened presents.
She likes having her picture taken but had just woken up here because someone was clapping. Like me, she is not keen on clapping in the house.

A Beloved New Yarn Companion
I mentioned in my last post that my parents gave me a beautiful wooden swift for Christmas. I love it. It runs so smoothly and quietly and is everything I dreamed of when I asked for a swift.
(That's one of my nieces leaning across my picture to get to the ball winder. I'm doubtful that this one will ever be a knitter but we can hope.)

I Bought a Book
Tuesday night my twin sister and I went to dinner and then to Borders. I shopped for such a long time - my goodness, the options!! - and I came t-h-i-s c-l-o-s-e to buying 3 books to just read. You know, fiction. That would have been nice but then I wandered over to the knitting section and ended up buying this book instead.
I've contemplated buying this book online several times but when I saw it in person and was able to flip through it, I couldn't resist. There is a baby sweater in here that I think will be perfect for my friend Melanie's baby that's due in May. Has any ever knit with hemp?
Also, I think maybe I've crossed the line into the zone of thinking too much about my knitting, because one of the reading books that I nearly bought, I ended up buying as a book on CD instead so I could "read" it and knit, too. There should be some sort of books on CD exchange program for knitters because books on CD, while lovely and a fine idea, could seriously cut into the yarn budget.

And I Knit Something From My New Book. Sort of.

By my own estimation, I am generally a good daughter but for the last couple of days, I have been a delinquent daughter. The Weekend Knitting book led me astray down a path called Not Knitting the Hedgehogs My Mother Has Requested. (In my defense, I didn't even buy the hedgehog yarn until Thursday...)
When flipping through the book at Borders the other night, I saw these tiny sweater egg cozies.

I remembered that Ann mentioned them in a recent post over at Mason-Dixon Knitting. Aren't they cute? I felt the need for some instant-gratification knitting and these little babies seemed to fit the bill. We don't eat many - well, any - soft boiled eggs at my house and, of course, no good pattern goes unaltered. I hate turtlenecks on actual human-sized sweaters and therefore saw no reason to knit little miniature turtlenecks. I thought these little sweaters would make nice Christmas tree ornaments so I cast on and then, all willy-nilly-like, doctored the collars on the fly. (Yes, I know, wild and crazy.)

The orange (actually "papaya") is Misti Alpaca Pima Cotton Silk and the red is a little 3/4 sleeve number in Cascade 220 in shade 8895 (my favorite). Here's a close up of the Papaya.

Not exactly earth shatteringly thrilling knitting but it satisified my need for a finished object or two and now I can plunge into my marathon hedgehog knitting. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hedgehog on the Half Shell

(Please be patient with me. I recently upgraded to the new blogger and I'm still figuring out the spacing. At least I seem to be able to upload pictures with wild abandon now so that is a step up!)
I started this post sometime the first part of last week but wanted to share it with you anyway...
I've made some progress on the first hedgehog and I'm now confident that I'll get them both finished in time for Christmas.
Ok, so the picture isn't the greatest (those hedgehogs are fast) but at least you can see what I've been up to. Once you get going on these, they seem to go pretty fast.

Here are some more pictures of these boys, pre-felting and post-felting.
The only after shot I got of the black one was the group picture from yesterday.

A few notes: I used a much longer "fur" on the brown guy and he has a bit of a porcupine look to him. I think that might have something to do with the sparseness of the quills...I mean fur. I made a mistake with the yarn for the brown fella, too. I used a chunky weight tannish-grayish yarn for the belly and a sort of mocha brown worsted along with the fur for the back. It turned out to be a happy accident, as I was pleased with the results.
For the black hedgehog, I used chunky for both front and back. The black fur is shorter and very dense. He is MUCH fatter than the brown guy. They are so different and each has such personality. It was neat to see how unique they are considering they are made from the same pattern.
These pictures don't show it but I ended up needle felting the eyes and nose. It was my first attempt at needle felting and it really was as simple has everyone says it is and the finished product was exactly what I had hoped for. Thanks to Lois at Elegant Stitch for not only giving me a quick needle felting tutorial on Friday, but also for giving me a needle felting tool!
All of the animals were well received. Mama put in a request for some hedgehogs of her own so I will try to get busy on those in the next few weeks. I give all of these Fiber Trends patterns an enthusiastic endorsement. They are easy to read, interesting without being unnecessarily complicated and the results are everything they promise to be.
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was great, though too quick. My parents bought me a swift (HURRAY!!!) and a Knitter's Satchel from Jordana Paige. My sister got me the KnitPicks Options needles....I am exceptionally blessed to have a kind generous family, who may not understand my knitting but still support it. We had a great dinner and played games and just relaxed. It was a very Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Very Merry Christmas!

What a crazy, exciting, busy, wonderful
week it has been leading up to Christmas.

I hope you are all enjoying time with family and/or loved ones and that you are feeling loved and blessed this joyful season. When I count my Christmas blessings, please know that I count each of you among those blessings and I'm looking forward to the coming year with such anticipation.
I did get all of the felted animals completed - and it didn't include any knitting at all on Christmas Eve. (Though the hedgehogs did get seamed amidst the last of my Christmas Eve wrapping...) Now I'll just hope that the recipients love them as much as I do.

So from me and mine to you and yours,

Monday, December 18, 2006

Show and Tell

Just another quickie to show you the finished Sophie-ish bag for my niece.

As it appears in this picture, it is 16" from the top of the handles to the base. The body of the back is 7.5" tall and slightly more than 10" across at the widest point. I think it is just right for her.

Also, my niece and I went to San Francisco on Saturday night to visit my mother. (She had back surgery on Thursday at UCSF Medical Center. She is doing very well and coming home today.) My niece (the future owner of the above bag) took this picture of the buildings in the city all decorated for Christmas.Try squinting.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Return of Self-Portrait Sunday

Ahhh, how nice to have a little free time on a Sunday to get back to my Sunday feature. As you are well aware, I have plenty of knitting to do so I will get right down to the listing...

1. I am generally content with the status quo…to the point that I have occasionally been accused of being boring.
2. I can be very particular about things (like my food and my Christmas tree and how I want things done.) It might seem that this is a contradiction to #24 and maybe it is, but both are true.
3. It is usually better for me to just do things myself because if someone else does it for me, I will inevitably end up redoing it or reworking it the way I wanted it in the first place.
4. I can be terribly indecisive. (If I were someone else, I would not ever want to go shopping with me.)
5. I like to think of myself as a real go-with-the-flow, spontaneous girl but I am not. I don’t mind spontaneity when it is carefully planned out ahead of time.
6. I love to read but I read a lot less since I learned to knit.
7. I am a really great starter.
8. I am not nearly so good a finisher (though this is improving.)
9. It is very important to me that people like me.
10. I wish it wasn’t so important to me that people like me.
11. Sometimes I wonder if I’m maybe a little ADD or OCD or CRAZY. I am so easily distracted by, well, by pretty much everything. If anything shiny crosses my path, there’s no telling how long it will take me to get back to the task at hand. (Speaking of which, I got online to check on one little thing and here I am blogging when I should be knitting a hedgehog...well, two.)

Speaking of hedgehogs, I've finished one belly and as soon as I'm done here, I'm going to get back to work on him. Hopefully I will have a finished one to show you in the next couple of days. (Also, I will have post-felting pictures of the Kureyon Sorta-Sophie bag. It felted surprisingly small but I like it. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera in my niece's car this afternoon so the pictures will have to wait another day.)

By the way, I've finally got up with the comments over on the Grandmother Purl blog. I just don't have the right words to say how touched I am by everyone's kindness and encouragement and the talk of knitting something for me. Ya'll are so sweet. I wish I had something meaningful and profound to say but I don't, I simply wanted to say thank you. I've said it before and I'll say in 1000 times again, Knitters Rock.

Ok, that's it for now. I hope you are all well. I'll see you as soon as I've completed a hedgehog!

Friday, December 15, 2006

And What to My Wondering Eyes Did Appear

This is just a quick post to say "Hey! Look what I did!"

I stayed up until almost 1:00 this morning finishing it. I am pretty happy with the results. I have never felted Kureyon before but I have every faith that it will be just as lovely as all of the pictures I've seen.

Hedgehogs, here I come!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fa La La La La

Hurray for Christmas songs. Thank you for sharing.

Dorothy, I have never heard of Nothing but a Child but I do like Steve Earle. I am going to have to find this song.

Lori, I am a sucker for O Little Town of Bethlehem. I hate it when whoever happens to be leading the music at church deems it necessary to skip verses, though. I like the whole long version.

Charity, I haven't heard What a Merry Christmas Tree either. Is it a Canadian song, maybe? Who sings it?

Cindi, Mary Did You Know is my second favorite Christmas song.

Kim, I can no longer listen to Sleigh Ride without breaking out in a cold sweat. After all my years in band, I have played that song so much it is permanently etched on my brain.

Erin, is Mr. Sandman a Christmas song?

Bonnie, White Christmas certainly makes my top ten list, though it does make me a little sentimental. I am guessing that the odds of a White Christmas in Altoona, PA are significantly higher than in Oakdale, CA. Promise you will post some pictures if you do intend have a white Christmas, ok?

Dr. B, Winter Wonderland gets stuck in my head. I do love this song though. So festive. And who wouldn't love a song that openly celebrates the fact that it is not Summer.

Tactless Wonder, I don't think I have ever heard Soundgarden's version of Ave Maria. I have only ever heard very traditional versions of this song. I'm thinking this one is another one I am going to have to try to find.

Stefaneer, I don't know many French Christmas carols but I am sure the one about "my dear son, my sweeting, lullay, lullay...blah blah" is beautiful. If you happen to discover or remember the title of this song, I would love to know it.

Blogging has really heightened my inner voyeur. I can't explain why it makes me so glad to have ya'll share your Christmas favorites with me but thanks!

As for me, my favorite Christmas song is and always has been Do You Hear What I Hear? I am very fond of the Bing Crosby version but there are several other very worthwhile renditions of this song running around. It is, coincidentally, also my twin sister's favorite Christmas song. I didn't realize that until last year.

I have made it to the second skein of Kureyon (color 95) and row 23 of the (slightly modified) Sophie bag for my niece's Christmas. I have got to go this weekend and get the yarn for the two hedgehogs. I am about 98% certain I will have Sophie done by Saturday. So then the hedgehogs are all that stand between me and successful completion of the must-have portion Christmas knitting. (Please do not remind me of that ridiculous Christmas knitting plan I posted about a month ago. I am trying to think happy thoughts over here.)

Who thinks I can get the hedgehog yarn bought, the hedgehogs knit, felted, dried, stuffed and sewn up by Christmas day? Hedge your bets. (ha!)

Monday, December 11, 2006

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Have you any prescription sedatives?

Thank you all so very much for your thoughts and prayers. My husband's surgery was a success and he is home and doing well. He is just resting (like he's supposed to) and trying to remember not to itch his incision. (He doesn't have stitches - they used glue instead. He is going to have a nifty little smiley face scar under his belly button.) Anyway, he is doing fine. Sleeping and taking his medicines, like a good little patient. His mother came to town on Friday to be here to take care of him so I am going back to work tomorrow.

While my husband was having his insides cinched up, I was finishing up this guy:
(Susie, the second pictures is gratuitous, I know, but I posted an extra one just for you!) I didn't think I could make a felted sheep that would be cuter than the gray one but it seems I have. This little black guy is adorable. His head sort of cocks a little to the side like he is about to ask a question. Very sweet. I have once again been blog-neglectful and forgotten to take any pre-felting pictures but oh well. If that is the worst thing that happens all week, I will be fine.

Last night was a peaceful night at my house. We watched Christmas with the Kranks and The Christmas Story. We looked admiringly at my Christmas tree. (Don't worry: it's the picture that is precariously tilting, not my Christmas tree.) We drank hot chocolate and/or apple cider and I worked on my ill-fated Christmas knitting list. It was lovely.

Tonight, however, I am at the mercies of my anesthesia-addled husband and his friends who are here to check on him. Which means that I am being subjected to a special addition DVD of Tommy Boy - with all of its special outtakes and bloopers. There is a whole separate disc of special features. A whole.separate.disc.

Two weeks til Christmas. I am in denial. A question for today: what is your favorite Christmas song? Seriously, I want to know. I'll tell you mine in my next post.

Friday, December 08, 2006

I've Got Sunshine

on a cloudy day.

There is a quote and at the moment I can't remember who said it but it says "God gave us memories so that we might have roses in December." I think maybe that is why he gave us California, too. Back around Halloween (which seems a million months ago) I thought the rose bushes along our front walk were done blooming for this year but I guess not. The red one has yet to be without flowers, including these two, that I photographed on Wednesday.
They won't win any beauty contests but they are mine and I am glad to have them. The purple rosebush is oddly silent, though she is shy even in summer so I guess I am not surprised.

What's a girl to do when she has a knitting blog and her world has been upside down for several weeks and the only knitting she has accomplished is about 12 not-so-photo-worthy rows of a sheep that she has been trying to finish for nearly a month? Show you pictures of the sky, of course. (Don't ya'll get bored with the scenery around here? I'm so thankful that you still stop by and visit even though I haven't been making any great strides in the knitting world - or any great strides period, for that matter.) Without further ado...

Sunset, last Tuesday on the way home from work.

Sunrise (progressively) on Monday morning.

Cloudy Sunrise on the way to work this morning.

I may not have snow (which is still sad to me) but at least we have pretty skies lately. As a general rule, winter in the Central Valley of Northern California means fog and lots of it. I'm sure that is coming but for now, I am glad I've had my camera with me while driving to and from work recently.

My husband is having surgery on Monday to repair three hernias and all I can think of is how nice it will be to have three (hopefully) uninterrupted hours in the waiting room where I can just sit and knit. I haven't told anyone this (well, maybe I told Lori...) but I was certain ya'll would understand. Really, I'm not being selfish, I'm just finding the silver lining. Really.

I wonder what the odds are that I will actually finish even a significant portion of my Christmas knitting in time for Christmas. I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Picture This

I have achieved some degree of success with the uploading of pictures. It won't let me put these in the previous post but (obviously) I've been able to upload them here. So this is sort of an addendum to the previous post. Also, it will only let me upload pictures as left justified AND the llama picture shows up sideways even though it really is on its feet in the picture file on my computer. Oh well. Beggars can't be choosers, I guess.

Go with me now on a little pictorial tour of my most recent post.

Here we have Mt. Shasta against the bluest sky I have seen in recent memory. The way the wind is blowing the snow off the top of the mountain, it made me think that the mountain was wearing an elegant, flowy handknit shawl. I hadn't had much sleep the night before.

Next up are these two shots of the snowy road side on the drive home.

Followed by a knitted-as-yet-unfelted llama, standing on his head.

Then last but certainly not least, the finished grey sheep. Who I think is one of the best things I've ever knitted.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

Editor's note: Please use your imagination on the pictures. I have been trying for two days to add pictures to this post with no luck. I will try again later.

At long last, winter has arrived in my little neck of the woods. I use the term “winter” loosely but I use it nonetheless. It has been down in the low 30’s at night and we’ve had to run the heat. I’ve even had icy car windows for 4 days in a row. I don’t have any wintery pictures to show you because if I did, I know I would get lots of comments like “winter-schminter” and “hell, that’s barely even fall” from my colder climate commenters. But it’s all I’ve got, ya’ll, so let me pretend.

Please forgive my long absence. The last three weeks have been simply overwhelming. I can’t think of another word that fits. We have made two trips to Oregon and back. This weekend, my mother-in-law came down to stay with us to attend a memorial service for my father-in-law in Fresno. (Most of my FIL’s extended family lives in that area and weren’t able to make it to Oregon for the service on the 18th.) So it made for a difficult week for both my husband and his mother. It is like rubbing salt in a wound, having to attend a second memorial. Luckily it is over now.

Our Thanksgiving was very nice. It was just me and my husband and his mother and our friend, Matt. It was very peaceful and my husband did some work on some of his father’s projects (i.e. his truck) which I think was good for him. We mostly just hung out and tried to help my mother-in-law gets some things done. All in all, it was fine, emotionally exhausting but fine. And really, under the circumstances, I was pretty happy with that. On the drive up for Thanksgiving, it was crystal clear but had snowed quite a bit the night before.

This is Mt. Shasta on Thanksgiving morning.

We were blessed during the return trip to have snow. I don’t think my husband (who did the driving) was quite as happy about the snow as I was.

It has been almost a week since I’ve even opened my laptop. This is borderline sacrilegious.

As I am sure you can imagine, I haven’t made much progress on my knitting list. I’ve finished the llama. Here is a pre-felting picture.

I’ve yet to take a post-felting picture but it is done. All stuffed and seamed. I’m basically happy with the results but if I make another one, I will use a fuzzier yarn. I used two strands, two colors held together (as per the knitting recipe) and I don’t love the look but it is ok.

And while I’m parading out the knitting pictures, it occurs to me that ya’ll haven’t seen this little fellow:

The grey lamb with black face. He is so cute. I am thrilled with the results. I am currently knitting his inverse cousin. I couldn’t be happy with the results. I was in the midst of photographing this lamb when we got word about my father-in-law’s heart attack. The lamb has sort of been lost in the shuffle.

I am still feeling relatively optimistic about the Christmas knitting. I’m probably delusional but that’s ok. As I have told you before, I am a proud member of the ignorance is bliss club.

Last Thursday, we became the proud owners of a beautiful Christmas tree. A noble fir. We wanted to give it plenty of time to “fall” and acclimate to its new environment so we didn’t decorate it until last night. It is very pretty and smells all happy and Christmas-y. I’ll take some pictures later this week. The house is very festive. That makes me happy. And it tempers my dread a little: Wednesday at 6:00 a.m. (oh yes, really) I have to have an MRI on my ankle to see why it isn’t getting better. Then I get to wait a week for results. It helps to have my Christmas tree. I can just sit and knit and think happy twinkle-lights-and-ornaments thoughts. Fa la la la la….