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January 27, 2014

Moving Day

It was an absolutely delightful surprise to get so many comments on my last post. A post that, frankly, I thought no-one would see. After all, its been two years since there was anything here to bother about. Thanks so much for your kind words.

So, I do want to blog. But not here. I'd like a bit of a fresh start. And the blogging software on which this blog is built is creaky and not fun to wrestle down.

I am continuing this blog over at the new Claudia's Blog. I would be so happy if you would join me over there by changing your feed readers to that new bloggy address.

Until I figure out a better way, this blog will stay up so that if anyone needs anything from the archives, they are here for you.

See you over at the new place!

January 15, 2014

Hello Again

tap. taptaptap. Is this thing on?

November 03, 2011

Thanks for Everything

For a number of reasons, its the right time to shut down this blog. I have really appreciated everyone over the years who has stopped by here and left a comment or participated in the various undertakings that have gone on here. Through this medium, I've made good friends and had many good times.

Thanks for everything!

April 20, 2011

Lovin' My Holiday

April 01, 2011

Spring Says "April Fools"

February 02, 2011

Scenes from A Snowed-In Life

There has been no end to the snowstorms this winter. As I sit here and look out my window, the snowbanks are so high that I can't see trucks driving by on the street.

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Trying to keep my spirits up, but I'm sure hoping that the groundhog is right!

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My husband informed me that a strange icicle was growing underneath the deck stairs, so I had to check it out. How could this have happened?

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Even Kimba is hunkered down in the warmest part of the house, waiting for it all to end. There haven't been very many cat pictures on this blog lately because Kimba isn't into modeling for the camera. However, she is doing fine, and frankly doesn't appear to miss Igor one little bit. "Igor, who?" says Kimba. Tough crowd.

Thanks for stopping by to check in. Its lovely to have your virtual company as I'm hunkering.

January 07, 2011

Intentions

A post by Jodi inspired me to share my intentions for 2011 here, on my knitting blog with little knitting content. She summed up for me my hesitancy in talking about my weightlifting and exercise stuff here, so no need to repeat it.

If you are interested, great. If not, I respect that. Its not knitting, but its where my head is at right now.

1. Not get injured. Sadly, the day after I made this intention I lost my concentration while holding a heavy barbell and slightly shifted my heel resulting in a minor tweak of a muscle in the arch of my foot. Its feeling better, but I won't be running on it for another few days.

2. Continue to fit into my Hudson jeans. Trust me, there is zero room for weight deviation here. Yup, I am a vain person and I accept this about myself. I reach my goal weight every day by not eating much sugar, flour or starchy carbs and eating lots of lean protein, fruits and veggies. For the better part of two years, my mind has been made up that fitting into these jeans feels better than any food tastes. Its a lifestyle choice, not a diet.

3. Run a 5K race fast. I took up running for the first time in my life on December 2, 2010 - the day after I turned 46 years old. I can run 3.8 miles at about a 10 min./mile pace without much huffing and puffing, due to 20 years of cycling training no doubt. But I am trying very hard not to go too far, too fast, too soon. Running is a different stress on my body than I'm used to, and I respect that. See my number one goal.

4. Get a 200 lb. sumo deadlift. This requires me to add 15 lbs. to my best deadlift. I really love being powerful and strong enough to have this as an achievable goal.

5. Get a 135 lb. squat with good form. I know I can squat 130 lbs. with horrible, terrible form, but that's not what I'm looking for. This goal requires me to go into the gym and do something day after day, week after week and month after month that I'm not good at and for which progress is as slow as a snail on valium. Its primarily a mental challenge, but I'm good with that.

6. Get a 100 lb. bench press. I need 8 lbs. more for this one. At my weight and strength level, I fight hard for every 1/4 of a lb., so this modest-seeming goal will likely take all year.

7. Get a 70 lb. military press. A military press is where you press a barbell from shoulder level straight up over your head. This is probably the hardest goal of them all. I SUCK at these.

I don't actually have any knitting intentions. I'd like to knit more, but actually wanting to do so seems rather out of my control at the moment so I'll let that be for now.

January 01, 2011

Happy 2011!

For many years, my husband has wanted to spend New Year's Eve at the First Night event in downtown Boston. For many years I have resisted on account of I really hate crowds.

But this year, with the fine warm weather and all, I decided "what the hell."

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The giant fish float during the parade.

We saw the parade, heard the fireworks from the pub, ate lots of junk food and generally had fun. Best of all, I was sound asleep before 11 PM. Just like I like it!

My very best wishes for a safe and happy 2011!

December 09, 2010

Saying "HI"

There are no pictures on my camera of note, and not much knitting-wise is happening. But I thought I'd show up here and ramble.

I took it into my head to try running. The last time I ran was in law school. I bought a pair of running tights, pulled on some sneaks and headed out. Only to double over in pain from a nasty side stitch just blocks from my apartment. It kept happening, I didn't know how to get rid of it and then I just gave the whole thing up in disgust.

Turns out, deep breathing instead of shallow breathing was the easy fix, and after figuring that out I managed to run 2.3 miles in about 22 minutes without much difficulty my second time out. Of course, I bought some cute running shoes. We'll see how often I decide to really do this.

About five years ago Norma posted about the good things a neti pot can do for irritated noses and sinuses. Call me a slow learner, but I finally bought one and I completely agree with Norma. I thought it would be weird to use it, but its totally fine.

After many years of having negative holiday spirit, I have been making a great effort this year to keep a positive, well -- neutral, alright an I-don't-hate-it attitude toward the whole Christmas thing. I mean, the holidays are coming up, I can't change that and I might as well handle this with some grace and skillfulness instead of being all "bah humbug".

I even bought a Santa hat. Really.

November 29, 2010

Have Some Cake

Thanksgiving week came and went for me in a blur of work deadlines and cooking a turkey dinner for eight. Luckily for me, the latter was made fun (instead of nightmarish) by having Silvia around to cook with me. Cooking champagne for the win!

The most delectable part of the whole dinner was a dish Silvia made from this Paula Deen recipe. There was almost none leftover, and what leftovers there were got gobbled up.

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The only bloggable moment that I've had lately is the hilarity of the most ginormous piece of chocolate cake I've ever come across. This was dessert for the entire table, Etherknitter's hand provided for scale. I am a harsh critic of baked goods. Most cakes and cookies catering to U.S. tastes are too sweet for me, unlike say the baked goods in Switzerland which are PERFECT. However, this cake was tasty and the buttercream frosting quite good. A B+ in my book.

Plus, there was a cow on the top of it.

I hope your Thanksgiving was grand if you celebrated it, and if you didn't that you had a great week.

November 17, 2010

Fall Self Portrait with Sheep

I haven taken markedly few fall leaf pictures this year, and the time for that is growing short.

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This weekend I had a camera in my bag at sunset and there were lawn sheep. The perfect moment.

October 04, 2010

Thanks to all...

Thanks to everyone who left a kind comment about Igor's departure. I've tried, but failed, to respond to all of you but I appreciate so much that you were thinking of me and him.

The house has been a bit quiet with only one kitty around. Even though Kimba was and is by far the noisiest of creatures and one would think she'd make enough of a disturbance for two. She doesn't appear to miss Igor one little bit. Perhaps that is the self-centered nature of cats. Or maybe its just her.

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Around here there has been working and playing and the occasional row or two of knitting. The fall colors are creeping into the green leaves of the trees and soon I hope to be inspired to take some new pictures.

September 22, 2010

New Favorite

Can I just say that chicken and waffles with pepper infused real maple syrup is my new favorite dish?

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Damn, this was tasty. And after a four ride bicycle ride around Boston on the cafe bike, the calories in this sucker were gone before I even arrived back home. Score!

September 17, 2010

Random Friday

Since I haven't knit a stitch in ages, we are left with a thoroughly Random Friday post.

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1. I haz camera-phone and I know how to use it. Well, sort of.

The hubby and I went to see the Rush concert this past Tuesday night, and for some-odd reason I had elected not to bring any cameras. We were enjoying a thoroughly lovely sunset walk from our secret parking place to the show when I decided to see if my phone has a camera (it does) and whether I could figure out out to use it (affirmative).

The show was great. We hadn't seen this band perform since...gulp...1992. It just doesn't seem like so long ago.

2. We are still running a nursing home for elderly kitties 'round these parts. Despite a relatively dire prognosis, Igor seems to be hanging in here. Eating his turkey treats and enjoying life. His hind end doesn't work so good anymore. Thank goodness for puppy training pads, is all I've got to say about that.

3. This one is hard to believe. But I just had my very first and quite delicious gyro. How I made it forty-five years without ever trying this meaty goodness is beyond me.

4. Continuing the theme of my last post, we have been doing lots of riding to restaurants and riding home again. This weekend, I am gunning for my first taste of chicken and waffles. Mmmmmmm. I can really get behind working for my food treats.

5. What I am doing if not knitting, you might ask. One thing I do is make progress on getting stronger in the gym. This past week I tested out my one-rep maxes (i.e. how heavy a weight I can lift one time) and came up with bench pressing 92 lbs., squatting 130 lbs. and deadlifting 185 lbs. Two years ago I started out being able to lift nothing, so I'm plenty happy with this.

6. I feel the pull of the fall knitting. This is good.

July 07, 2010

Urban Beach Tandem Ride

Nothing says "summer" like putting a pair of flip-flops and a beach blanket into the backpack and riding from home to a cool urban beach for a bit of sun, a fried fish sandwich and a soft-serve ice cream.

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Carson Beach, South Boston - July 2010

And planes! I LOVE watching planes land. Perhaps this has something to do with my early years living in a house which lined up exactly with an SFO take-off runway. Every eleven minutes or so, there would be another plane, low enough to read the carrier's name.

I am so easily entertained.

July 05, 2010

Travels with the Tandem

This weekend was the husband birthday weekend, meaning that he got to decide what fun thing we would do. He chose tandem riding in far Western Massachusetts.

The most scenic part of the ride was Bish Bash Falls.

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I'd forgotten how much I love waterfalls. Its the noise and the power of the water crashing down that I love the most.

In order to get to this spot, there is a three-quarter of a mile hike in from the road. Having neglected to plan ahead for this, we had only our road bicycling shoes with us. These feature a large cleat on the ball of the foot forcing you always to walk uphill, and walking on these cleats really ruins them for clipping into a pedal. Not really the best footwear for a trail walk while pushing a large tandem bicycle. But, whatever. We were committed.

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Proof we were fool enough to do this.

Luckily for us we noticed an access way up to the main road just at the falls. A three minute climb up it and we were freed from the arduous walk/push/mountain bike ride on expensive road wheels back out.

What did I get my husband for his birthday? Nothing. We have taken to buying experiences for special days instead of stuff. Hubby will remember the trip to Bish Bash Falls for a long while, and isn't that really the point of a special day?

June 29, 2010

Some Thoughts on Undergarments

Many years back, I made a very cute tank top. For non-link-clickers, here is the picture:

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Six years later, I can tell you guys that I've rarely (if ever) worn this tank despite its cuteness. Why, you ask? Because I never solved the riddle of what bra to wear under it.

I tried a strapless bra, but that never was comfortable. Who wants to wear a tight ace bandage in the heat underneath an acrylic tank sweater? Answer: not me. I tried sewing in little holders for the bra straps at the shoulders. Alas, that did not solve the rear bra strap issue. And, I'm not one to feel comfortable bra-less due to nipplage. I gave it up, and the tank was banished to the dark reaches of the sweater drawer.

This summer, however, on the advice of my hairstylist (who apparently knows everything about everything) I finally solved the bra dilemma. I went to my local Wal-Mart (I know!) and purchased a Lingerie Solutions Shantina Lite adhesive bra. I'd link to it, but I can't find one that works. Anyway, there is a silicone inside to these two light foam cups, which link up in the front like a regular front-closing bra. You peel off the wax paper, stick 'em on and hook up the front. Done. Then when you are done wearing it, you peel 'em off, wash 'em, let them dry and they magically are sticky again for the next time.

There is a similar product at Target with a different name but also made by Lingerie Solutions. In addition, if one wishes for more cleavage, there are similar products that enhance the front porch but are a little heavier to wear.

So, although I haven't knit anything new for myself in a coon's age, pulling out older items and making them work might hold me for a bit until my knitting mojo comes back.

June 24, 2010

Random Thursday

Judging from the recent entries on this blog, one could surmise that I am doing nothing but stalk wild animals with my camera and shop for shoes.

Maybe there is something to that.

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I'll admit that I stalked these two turkeys as they walked down my street. They looked at me in an annoyed fashion but didn't seem overly concerned. The funny part, however, was when the neighborhood kids discovered them and ran over shouting "turkeys!" These monsters then started up on the GOBBLEGOBBLE and the kids fell back into line.

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It has taken me until the age of forty-five to finally put a pair of peep-toe pumps into my closet. These are Cole Haan pumps, bought for 60% off from the clearance rack. Seriously, since when are Cole Haan pumps in a US size 7 on the clearance rack? I should have bought a freakin' lottery ticket too. Here is the view from the top.

Other than shopping and turkey hunting, its been busy work-wise. Knitting is slow, for those of you coming for that. Alas.

June 18, 2010

New Shoes Friday

I've been on a mission to spiff up my summer wardrobe. Yesterday's shopping effort yielded some summer sandals.

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They are cute from the top too.

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For those of you who are shoe-interested, they are these. I find them comfortable to wear and to walk in for several hours at a time. I might not want to spend an 8 hour day in them if alot of walking was involved. However, I think these are perfect for a dinner out, running errands around town, etc.

Here in a nutshell is my shoe philosophy. I will not buy shoes that hurt in the store. I will not buy shoes unless immediately after putting them on, they feel good. No "they'll stretch out" or whatnot. Shoes get one chance to make a good impression on me.

However, I also will not buy ugly shoes. There was a bit of time a few years back when, after turning forty, I threw out every shoe in my closet that hurt me to wear. For a few years afterwards, I compromised on cuteness and went rather practical. I do not wear those shoes anymore. Now, I put the shopping time in to find cute shoes that are comfortable to wear for long periods of time. Yes, they exist. But its time and attention to find them, my friends.

Life is much too short for ugly shoes.

June 09, 2010

Beads for a Wednesday

I am by nature not a collector. The having of stuff does nothing for me. Its the using and enjoying of stuff that floats my boat. My fiber hobby time is limited these days, so I can enjoy relatively few of the things I have. This kind of drives me crazy.

So, when I go into the Fiber Room and clumsily knock over a bowl of beads, the first thing that I think of (after cleaning up the mess) is "why am I keeping these beads if I haven't touched them in years?"

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I know that things are just things and have no feelings about their fate one way or another. But I do feel bad that the beads aren't fulfilling their purpose of providing someone enjoyment. Plus, beads are expensive and times are tough.

So, if anyone would like me to send them my small bead stash I'd be delighted to mail them off to anywhere in the world. Just leave me a comment before Friday June 11th at 9 AM EST. If by chance more than one person wants them, its random number generator time to select one recipient.

June 07, 2010

Wild Turkey Monday

First coyotes, now wild turkeys.

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What will be next? Lions and tigers and bears?

June 02, 2010

Random Wednesday

How about that...actually having random Wednesday on Wednesday?

1. I had a lovely drive-by-sheep-festival experience this weekend while picking up my wheel at Cummington a/k/a the Massachusetts Sheep and Wool Festival. In an hour (tops) I saw lots of friends, rescued my wheel from potential wheel thieves (you know who you are....Marcy), and had lunch with Lucia and Erica.

2. Then it was off to ride the tandem in the beautiful hill towns near the fair. You can see part of the ride here.

3. Odd things by the side of the road.

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4. I always enjoy visiting Northampton. The food is delicious, as it was here. And I remember my strawberry ice cream cone fondly, even now. Mmmm. Strawberry ice cream. We'll definitely be back sometime this summer for another weekend of riding fun.

5. I love the great outdoors, but it doesn't love me back. Thanks horsefly, for the bite that keeps on giving. Ouch.

May 24, 2010

So, There Was This Coyote....

In some ways, this was the perfect week for a coyote to show up in my yard.

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Keep in mind that I don't live in the middle of the woods, but in the middle of a suburb. Hi Mr. Coyote, how YOUUU doin'?

This past week I won a case in grand fashion. This generally happens more times than a coyote comes to visit, but is still a noteworthy event. Coyote = win? I'll take that.

Besides work and coyote-wrangling, I've been knitting a little, lifting some weights, riding the tandem, and generally enjoying the start of what I hope to be a great summer. All the tank tops and shorts (I own exactly one pair of shorts) and capri pants (my preferred summer staple) are out, and the sweaters and long-sleeve shirts are drawered.

For those who weighed in the on the perfect summer pedicure color, I settled on OPI Hot & Spicy which I currently have on. My actual favorite color was Chanel Orange Fizz, but I just couldn't see paying $23 for a small bottle of nail polish, when the color difference (the Chanel is slightly more pink and a bit less bright) was minimal.

And my new favorite eye shadow is MAC Trax. If you have brown eyes like I do, go to a MAC counter and try this on. Just a little in the crease and outer corner = a good result. Who knew that purples were better for brown-eyed gals than the trusty, but boring, brown neutrals?

So there is a coyote and nail polish in the same post. On a knitting blog. Predictability is over-rated, I think.

May 17, 2010

Weekend = Good

After a long week of work, there is nothing like a relaxing weekend. There was a bike ride with Bike Cam.

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I love graffiti, especially the contrast of a heart and barbed wire.

And, there were long-put-off chores that got accomplished. A few weeks ago I went to my local J.Crew (which I never shop at) and bought a tee shirt for the stupid price of $29.50. Now, in some ways I'm kind of a cheap bastard and I wouldn't usually pay that much for a tee shirt. But it was my favorite cinnamon color (the actual color was called "Moroccan Spice" which you can see here). When I see that color -- and it is rarely -- I will almost always buy the item. So, I bought it and threw it in the wash hoping the long tee would shrink up some in length.

Well, instead what happened is that the lower front hem completely unraveled. So not only did I spend a stupid amount of money on this tee-shirt, but it was now defective. Awesome.

Had it been any other color, I would have taken it back. But I really wanted it, so out I dragged my trusty Bernina sewing machine and the matching thread that I fortuitously had in my sewing basket. The tee didn't shrink in length, so I figured while I was at it, I might as well shorten the whole thing. I carefully measured, then chopped off about an inch and a half. Then finished the cut edge with a honeycomb stitch (recommended by Silvia and worked great). Folded up an inch hem, topstitched it down and called it good.

It is sure nice every once in awhile to have the right skillz and equipment to get a job done.

May 14, 2010

Random Wednesday on Friday

Things I've Learned This Week.

1. Although the first few bites of KFC extra-crispy fried chicken are delicious, whatever they put in there to make it so (fat and salt perhaps?) is just not worth it. I can wait 10 more years before having it again.

2. Red face blotches can appear from out of nowhere. Awesome.

3. Buying a 10x magnification makeup mirror may have been a mistake. See #2.

4. I plan on being her when I am 73 years old.

5. It is possible to make progress on a knitting project a few rows at a time. I am closing in on the armholes on the Urban Aran fronts. I know this project is ancient history around here, but this is nominally a knitting blog so I thought I'd mention it.

May 10, 2010

Slow Start Monday

After a weekend of running around, wet rainy errands, and assembling a Mother's Day brunch, I find that Monday morning is here much too soon. I am wholly unprepared for it.

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The Big Top, Boston, May 2010.

Today will be a circus. But not this kind.

May 06, 2010

Random Wednesday on Thursday

I have no idea what happened to Wednesday. Gone in a poof of smoke.

1. There was, however, a mountain tandem bike ride, and here is the proof. Shot over the head of the front of the bike.

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Battle Road, Concord MA - May 2010

2. As I suspected, there are knitters riding and raising money to fight multiple sclerosis that need your support if you are so inclined. Eli will be riding in her MS Ride this Saturday, and you can support her here. And Lucy of Minds Eye Yarns will be riding a tandem bicycle in her MS Ride in June and you can support her ride here.

And, the always completely-fabulous Debi is running a sock fundraiser to benefit the National MS Society over on Ravelry. I've donated my $5 for the chance to win a pair of handknit socks and I hope you'll consider doing so too!

3. Questions I am pondering this morning include: For how long are new white sneaks blindingly white? What makes a cat meow like a banshee in the early morning hours and how can I make it stop? Does a non-obnoxious shade of coral pink nailpolish for a bright but tasteful summer pedicure exist? If you know the answers to any of the above, please share them with me.

May 03, 2010

On Fundraising

Spring has sprung early and warmly, so much so that we already have a taste of summer.

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One of the four pansies I planted in the front flowerbed this year (click for bigger).

Usually about now, I would be announcing the start of another MS Ride fundraiser.

However this year, my friends, that is not happening. I could say that I don't have time, but that is a cop-out. Could I make time by stealing it from work, family time and my extra-curricular activities? Sure. The issue is that I just can't make myself do that.

As gratifying and uplifting as it was to have my knitter-friends pitch in prizes and donations for this worthy cause, the truth is that the fun has really gone out of this project for me. My first MS Ride and fundraiser was in June 2005. I am just not up for it for the fifth year in a row.

I wish it were different, but its not.

There will be still be opportunities to support research to rid the world of MS. Right around Father's Day, look for Anne to run her wildly successful fundraiser featuring a specially designed limited-edition pattern. And, if anyone out there in knitter-land is riding their own MS Ride or fundraising for this charity in another way, please let me know in the comments so that I can support your efforts.

April 26, 2010

Best Laid Plans

Well, that weekend certainly did not go as planned.

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Lilac buds, a bit early.

Tandem ride - check. Free time to knit -- not so much. Due to a series of unfortunate events, both our office telephone system and the router crashed on Saturday. Being that I am the IT department, that loud sucking sound was my time being vacuumed away to rectify these pressing matters.

Luckily, the voice mail system is back up and the fried router has been successfully replaced. How is it Monday already?

April 21, 2010

Random Wednesday

1. There is nothing like a ride to a parade where folks are wearing Colonial garb.

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Luckily here in New England there is alot of tricorn hat occasions if one likes that sort of thing.

2. The newest additions to the Spring Spiff-Up that is going on 'round here are a cute khaki skirt from Banana Republic, some Nine West pumps that amazingly don't hurt my feet, and an astonishingly expensive lipstick -- Chanel Rouge Coco in Egerie.

3. The new clothes are about a year over-due. At the beginning of 2009, it became apparent that most of my pants were sliding off me and Something Needed to be Done. However, 2009 was not the greatest business year and discretionary purchases were held in abeyance. Luckily, 2010 is proving to be much better. So shopping is game on.

4. In the past few days, I've knit a couple of rows on two long-neglected projects: crazy bright socks and Urban Aran. I was inspired to work on Urban Aran again after seeing my sister's super nice cabled cardi. Since she won't give me hers, there is only one thing to do.....

April 19, 2010

Once Again, Claudia's Favorite Holiday

Ah, the arrival of Patriots' Day, also known around here as "Claudia's Favorite Holiday". It has dawned bright and sunny, signaling a POSITIVE for a tandem bicycle ride later.

I am even considering some pansy planting. The sad overgrown patch of weeds that is my flower bed has been taunting me every time I go or come from the house.

First, though, there are errands to run. Before that, there is tea to drink. Before that I got out of bed, fired up the Olympic bar that was my favorite present from the hubby in recent years, and set a military press personal best -- 65 lbs. for 3 reps.

Ah, a holiday. What a wonderful way to start a week!

April 14, 2010

May Flowers (in April)

Oh, am I getting my money's worth out of spring this year.

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So pretty.

Things I am looking forward to now that the weather is brighter:

1. More sun. The back deck might be opening up as soon as next month.

2. A summer vacation. There is a big wedding anniversary coming up this summer and it must be properly celebrated. I happen to think that a wedding anniversary isn't the time for a big party, but is the perfect occasion for the couple involved to do something memorable together.

3. Wearing my perfect summer lip gloss -- MAC Lipglass Enchantress. Words cannot express how much I love this color.

4. Buying some some tank tops and a summery skirt or two. I haven't bought or worn skirts in years. Currently I own exactly two of them, both black. I need more.

March 31, 2010

Random Wednesday, Flood Edition

1. It has been raining for what seems like forever. Luckily, my house is high and dry. But the roads are rather messy.

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Flood on the bikepath, March 2010.

Notice that back-of-bike cam is back. I haz da happy.

2. I got a real kick out of reading all your comments on the makeup post. Who knew that there was so much interest in prettifying amongst the yarny crowd?

Since writing that post, I've discovered a new mascara that is great for me to wear everyday. It gives a nice natural look with no clumping and no crunchy lashes. Keep in mind that I am blessed with fairly long lashes to start out with, so this may not give shorter-lashed girls enough oomph.

I also purchased new two eyeshadow palettes, which are notable because they are GREAT and yet drugstore cheap. Whereas my high end eye shadows cost me between $14 and $22 a pop, these are like $5 for six colors. If even one color works for me, its a huge deal. And thus far I've really liked all the matte shades -- the frosty ones are a bit much, but might be OK as eyeliner. You can see the colors swatched here.

3. I just had to move Igor's kitty circle (with him in it) fully back onto my desk, as he was half-falling out of it. How a cat can be dead asleep in such a precarious position is beyond me.

March 22, 2010

What I've Been Buying (Not Yarn)

Everyone, I think, gets into ruts. A rut to me is a default pattern of thinking about something. Left unexamined, a rut can linger for years -- and long after that particular pattern of thinking should have been abandoned.

About ten or fifteen years ago I used to be really into makeup. By "really into" I mean that I spent lots of time and money researching, reading about and buying high-end makeup items. But at some point, I gave up interest in this. Largely because of my oily eyelids.

Oily eyelids, you ask? Yes, I say. Because the painstakingly applied eye makeup would go missing after a few hours, making me think "why bother"? So, for the last number of years I've put on a bit of concealer and some mascara and called it good.

Lately, however, I have regained my interest in maquillage. In part because I had a makeup application done on me for a recent event which looked fantastic. And in part because in my opinion (yours might be different) a 45-year-old female with a bit of carefully applied makeup just looks a whole hella lot better than without. Its the young chicas that usually run around with the makeup on -- the exact people who would look just dandy without anything. The ladies of a certain age (me included) -- well, one sees a few bad and age-inappropriate choices, but mostly one sees giving up.

Interestingly, my collection of Stila and MAC eyeshadows from all those years ago are still alive and kicking. But I was way more into the frosts then, whereas these days I'm much more interested in the subtle glow.

So there has been buying. What might you ask?

This stuff in original is the true antidote for oily eyelids. My eye makeup stays put until I choose to take it off. Had I had this product all those years ago, I probably never would have given up on the makeup.

A tinted moisturizer (my color is Nude) is so easy to throw on everyday, instead of what I was doing before of only putting on some foundation if I was getting dressed up.

Blush and bronzer -- (in Orgasm/Laguna). I honestly LOVE this and I've never owned a bronzer in my life and the last blush I bought was years and years ago. I've come to the conclusion that just a little bit of blush (and who can resist the name of this one) is something I really shouldn't leave the house without. It makes a huge, enormous difference.

This eyeliner (in 23L -- the champagne color) is really awesome. I use it to line my "waterline" -- the inner eyeline right above the lower lashes -- and it makes me look instantly more awake and fresh. I had no idea that one could put an eye pencil there until a makeup guy (yes, guy -- he was amazing) showed me how.

And, I've revamped my eyeshadow collection a bit with Guava and a couple of MAC shadows in All Races and Copperplate (a light matte gray and a medium taupey gray).

So, I expect two sorts of comments to this post. Some folks share my interest in makeup and might give me some tips and tricks of their own. To them, I ask -- when is the last time you've thought about overhauling your look? Are you still wearing the same lipstick shade and mascara brand from twenty years ago? Are you in a rut?

Some folks, though, will let me know that they consider makeup to be not relevant to them for a whole variety of reasons. To those folks I would ask: is this a bit of thinking that you haven't examined in awhile? Is it a rut? If not, why not?

Just asking. :)

March 12, 2010

Happy Silvia Day!

Today is my sister Silvia's birthday! So, March 12th has always been Silvia Day for me.

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Sil and me in Interlaken, Switzerland - August 2008.

Sil is seriously the very best sister I could ever have wanted. So, please join me in celebrating Silvia Day with a nice helping of Swiss chocolate and a glass of nice champagne!

March 11, 2010

On Blogging

Recently I read an entry on Norma's blog that caused the little wheels in my brain to spin faster. What caught my attention wasn't necessarily the exact subject about which she wrote, but the absolute honesty in that post about what was happening blog-wise behind the scenes.

Inspired by that, its time for that sort of disclosure around here.

I have been blogging since June 25, 2002. That, amazingly enough, is coming up on eight years. Eight years is, frankly, a long time to blog. Very, very few knitting blogs that started in 2002 are still around (Wendy I'm looking at you). What I've learned over this time is that blogging is an entire hobby in itself. Writing the posts, taking the pictures, making and maintaining blog-friends, interacting with folks who kindly comment -- that is the fun for me.

The problem I need to discuss today has to do with content, not process.

Perhaps you noticed, but this supposed knitting blog hasn't had a whole lotta knitting on it for quite some time. The last sweater that I finished (sort of) was a reworking of this cardigan in July 2009. The last sweater I actually knit start to finish on-blog was back in June 2008.

There have been odd sock projects completed here and there but that is hardly enough knitting upon which the weight of a "knitting blog" can rest.

Now, the disappearance of my knitting mojo wouldn't be a difficulty for my hobby of blogging if other content was readily at hand. However, and here is the absolute crux of the dilemma, it is very important for me professionally not to have my clients accidentally stumble upon this blog and see items which I would feel are too personal in nature. As hard as I've tried to keep this blog from appearing in search results on my full name, there are slip-ups which have made me feel for the last little while quite constrained about the non-knitting snippets I can post here. If I could go back in time, I *certainly* would never have named this blog what I did.

When the subject was knitting, blog content wasn't too much of a concern. Knitting, although not my preferred professional image, isn't really something I'd feel leery about my professional associates knowing about me. Now that knitting content is thin on the ground, I find myself second-guessing what I can and cannot talk about here.

That's not a comfortable place.

Don't be alarmed if you enjoy reading this blog. I'm not going to stop blogging. I'm not going to stop trying to resolve the problem I've just outlined for you. But I thought, my dears, that you deserved an honest explanation as to what is going on 'round these parts behind the screen.

March 01, 2010

A Painful Crunch

I believe that I now know what is among the worst sounds ever.

That would be the sound of my boot stepping on and crunching my glasses. You know, the thing without which I cannot read.

Silly me, but I (used to) keep my glasses in an outer pocket of my handbag not in a case. In the same pocket as my sunglasses, also not in a case. So, on Friday as I was walking down the sidewalk, I pulled out my sunglasses. They hooked onto my glasses and launched the glasses out in front of me. In mid-stride, I then crunched right down on the poor suckers.

Arghh!

The only upside to this sadness is that I had another pair of glasses (my distance prescription) with really cute frames that I never wore. So over the weekend, I got my reading prescription put into those cute frames and I'm back in business.

Some of you might recall that awhile back I ordered some progressive glasses online. They came and the prescription was correct, but the frames were not super cute. I have a really small face, and the only style of glasses that I like on myself are the really tiny kind. Apparently, in order for progressive lenses to really work, the lens has to be a certain size. Which size is just too big. But as a back-up pair for emergencies, they will do.

February 25, 2010

What?

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What on earth could be going on here?

February 15, 2010

Kitty Hijinks

One member of my household creates more trouble than any other.

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Caught in the act! Note how Kimba has managed to stand the mug on its handle to gain better access to the water within. Who's Notsosmartski now?

February 10, 2010

Random Wednesday on Thursday

What could be more random then hosting Random Wednesday on Thursday?

1. There is one Chocolate Cherry sock.

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Pictured in the amazing snowfall dumped on us yesterday by the blizzard....oh. What's that? There wasn't any blizzard after all the TV news hype? Right. Local XC skiers remain screwed, screwed, screwed.

2. Joy's blog is always an interesting read. If you feel inclined to donate to the Tso Pema Medical Emergency Fund instead of buying candy or flowers for your Valentine, well that would certainly be wonderful.

3. If anyone has wisdom to share about spray tans/airbrush tans, please share it. I will leave you all to wonder why I'm asking.

February 08, 2010

A Few Days Off

It wasn't warm, but it was a lovely mini-vacation.

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The husband and I headed up north for a quick getaway to the Mount Washington Hotel for some cross-country and downhill skiing. A rambling hotel built in a by-gone era with enormously high ceilings, an actual elevator operator-guy to work the non-self-service elevator and a dining room where jackets for men are required.

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The view. Especially lovely at sunset with a whiskey sour in hand.

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Part, but by no means all, of the lobby.

I really loved this place. I like unusual places that are real, where actual historic stuff happened. You know, not manufactured by a big corporation to fakely represent some other place or time. Yeah, not so much a fan of disney-esque illusion.

The delicious breakfast buffet (can you say pumpkin stuffed almond french toast with real maple syrup? I can.), a sleigh bed in the room, friendly staff, good skiing.....sign me up for a quick return trip.

After, of course, I deal with the mess on my desk.

February 01, 2010

Monday Escapism

This morning I wish I was here:

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If I remember correctly, this is the beach near the Ritz Carlton Kapalua in Maui, January 2009. Just in case anyone out there needed a beach fix, I'm happy to provide.

I know its folly to spend a perfectly fine day wishing you were somewhere else. And I'll knock it off soon. But that is where my head is at this morning.

Highlights of the weekend:

-- Delicious Mexican food with friends, including good tequila and a dessert assortment featuring a cheesecake burrito, chocolate bread pudding and creamy flan.
-- A good day of cross country skate skiing
-- A fun time and another delicious meal at bookgroup.
-- I may have fallen down at the Lululemon.

Since I am still not at the beach, perhaps its time for reality now.

January 27, 2010

Drive By Blogging

With one work project emergency after another, if there wasn't drive-by blogging there would be no blogging. So here goes.

1. Who-ever it was that warned me about the short yardage situation involved in using Claudia's Handpainted yarn, girlfriend you are so right. I am almost at the toe of my first Chocolate Cherry sock and I'm starting to sweat it. And, these socks aren't particularly tall, and my feet aren't big.

2. I am being forced to give up my bathrobe to a cat. Many years ago, my husband bought me a polarfleece robe as a gift. Its warm and snuggly, as fleece is. Well, one fine day recently I left it on the sofa in the living room. Mistake. Now Kimba thinks this robe is her personal property and won't move off of it. The purchase of a new robe is likely. Now you know who is REALLY the boss around here.

3. Every ski season before my first downhill day, I'm always asking myself if the risk is worth it. As a self-employed person with no paid sick days, a bad crash could be quite a problem. But when I strap on the skis and point them downhill on a steep, wide, icy-hard slope, the adrenaline hits me and there is no longer any question. This is the one sport that really gets me at my weakest point: my need for speed. Now I am counting down the days to my next heart-pounding, quad-burning run.

4. Get ready for some serious Baby Viking Hat cuteness.

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The horns really get to me.

January 20, 2010

Random Wednesday

Its time once again for.....Random Wednesday!

1. There is water! Oh my sweet good lord, was a day without water a huge drag. Finally when I could stand it no longer, I headed to my gym for a lovely hot shower. At that exact moment, the water was restored at my house. Isn't that always the way?

2. Death throes of a pumpkin:

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The Halloween pumpkin finally met its end after a recent thaw led to a total structural collapse. To see the pumpkin in happier times, you can click here and here.

3. There is just no way in hell I am gonna reknit the heel of an almost five-year old Koigu sock. That pair of socks had a good, long, useful life. RIP. If anyone has a good suggestion for an internet source for Koigu sock yarn, drop me a comment. The husband does not do well with change, and I'd hope to replace these socks with a similar incarnation.

4. I went to a yarn shop recently with a friend, and realized that I have not kept up on the new books/yarns/trends in the knitting world. However, it seemed to me after a good look around that there were no great new ideas or groundbreaking designs to be had. I'd be happy to be shown to be wrong on this.

January 18, 2010

Some Days.....

Some days just start off wrong and get even wronger as the day wears on.

This morning I headed into the bathroom and turned on the sink faucet....to be greeted with little more than a trickle. A quick check of the remainder of the faucets in the house generated even less, and then nothing.

No water. No water? NO WATER!!!

No shower. No laundry. No flushing. All I can do is cheer on the public works crew up the street as I see them dig a big hole and search for the break.

Knowing there is no water doesn't stop me from mindlessly going to the faucet and turning it on to draw water for the kettle or wash my hands. Habits die hard.

No water. I wish there were water.

This seems an appropriate moment of chaos to introduce the intended topic of today's post...holes. Knitwear that is useful and worn frequently eventually degenerates into hole-age.

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Exhibit 1: Koigu socks. Many moons ago these Koigu husband-socks were new and shiny. Alas, they emerged out of the ski boots after a four-hour cross-country ski much, much worse than they entered them.

RIP Koigu socks. There is no way I'm attempting to fix two enormous heel-holes. I am in the market for more Koigu to replace these beloved socks with a new pair.

P.S. That may or may not be my middle finger.

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Exhibit 2: Lopi mittens. These are so old that they don't even exist in my blog archives. As I was pulling them on in a frigid ski area parking lot last weekend, I noticed that my thumb was unaccountably cold. Looking down, I saw The Hole.

The worst of this is that I can't locate even a fragment of Lopi yarn in my stash or my five large remnant bags. I'm sure I can find some cream colored wool with which to fix these, but nothing has happened yet. Instead, I've been wearing my Bird in Hands.

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Exhibit 3: Ribby Cardi hole. Ribby Cardi is one of my favorite oft-worn sweaters. I have no idea how this shoulder hole came to be (I blame a cat, yes I do). But it was easily fixed with some left-over handspun still in the stash. In fact, I'm wearing it right this minute.

As far as hole-fixing goes, I'm one for three.

As far as a nice hot shower goes, I'm totally screwed.

sigh.

January 13, 2010

So.....Hair

Apparently just talking about hair and what I've done to mine (remember - keratin treatment) is not enough. You want pictures, say you.

Your wish is my command.

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Smooth, non-frizzy hair. Otherwise unattainable. Or, unattainable for me considering the amount of effort I like to put into hair styling (a smidge north of zero). For an idea of what it looked like pre-treatment, check out this post from last summer.

Once, I mused here that discretionary hair expenditures would be the very last thing to go for me. That has only gotten truer.

Everyone has their weakness, their particular brand of vanity. Maybe yours is clothes or shoes or lingerie or.....yarn for sweaters, socks and shawls that you proudly wear and in which you believe you look smashing. Is that bad? (No.) Who are we to judge someone else's weakness if its not hurting anyone? (Judgment = unskillful behavior).

So, there you have it. Hair.

January 06, 2010

Random Wednesday

1. Laughing at this:

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Yup, the Halloween pumpkin is still frozen to the front steps. Yup, I am still easily entertained.

2. I actually started a new knitting project to replace the completed Viking Hat. The urge to start something new hasn't hit me in a long while, so I was pleased with this.

3. Wavy, out-of-control hair no more. Just before Christmas my stylist finally talked me into getting a keratin treatment. According to her, everyone she's given this to would scrub toilets before not ponying up for subsequent treatments. Count me in on this. Smooth, effortless hair days -- day after day. Honestly, this is the best thing ever for coarse, frizzy, wavy hair like mine.

4. It occurs to me that I'm becoming much higher maintenance than ever. I'm good with that.

December 31, 2009

And So 2009 Draws to a Close

What an interesting year.

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Frozen Charles River, December 2009

I knit less than ever. I lifted more weights than ever. Skiing and bicycling galore. Fun was had. Challenges were met.

May 2010 treat all of us well. Happy New Year!

December 23, 2009

Random Wednesday

1. Thinking about: a shopping list for Christmas Eve dinner.

2. Knitting on: still the same damn Baby Viking Hat. It must be done for tomorrow, as that is when baby + hat = unbearable cuteness must occur.

3. Photographing: the Boston sky scape:

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4. Dreaming about: a warm white sand beach, slight tropical breezes, sunshine on my skin.

5. Totally punting on: sending out holiday cards. My husband did his this year, but I just couldn't get it up to do mine. Maybe next year.

6. Totally hating on: that Mariah Carey Christmas song. Please make it stop.

For them's that celebrate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (and enjoy doing so), I wish you the very finest of days. For them's that are Grinches like me, I recommend lots of good champagne and good company in which to drink it until all is over.

December 21, 2009

Monday's Food for Thought

Christmas is at my house this year, which means that I'll actually have to cook stuff. You know, to eat. Luckily Silvia will be here to ensure that the family doesn't starve.

To warm up my cooking chops for this upcoming event, I made my mother's delicious cheesy potato recipe to take to a holiday party this past weekend. When I was a kid, my mother would always make this for company, and the smell of this dish is one of my favorite smells in life.

One of my friends asked for the recipe and I figured this here blog was a good place to reposit this. Trust me, this is freakin' delicious. Well, it is if you like cheese and potatoes. And it would be hard for me to relate to you if you didn't!

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Cheesy Potato picture courtesy of PK.

Mother's Cheesy Potatoes

5 pound bag of all purpose/russet potatoes
3 blocks of Gruyere cheese, coarsely grated (I bought mine at Trader Joe's and each block was about half a pound)
3 big onions or 4 smaller ones
1 cup white wine (I used some pinot grigio)
Salt
Pepper
Nutmeg

1. Peel the potatoes and slice them in a food processor, but not too thin or they will fall apart. Boil the slices in boiling salted water for about 3 minutes, but don't cook them so long that they fall apart. Drain the potatoes, reserving 1 cup of potato water.

2. Peel the onions and mince them in a food processor. Saute the minced onions in butter until they are transparent.

3. Butter up a large flat pyrex glass dish (Mine is 4.8 quarts/4.5 L). Spread the cooked, minced onions in a smooth layer covering the bottom. There should be enough onions to cover the whole bottom of the dish.

4. Scoop in a layer of potatoes and spread evenly. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg.

5. Spread on a layer of cheese. Do NOT be stingy with the cheese, people.

6. Scoop in the second and final layer of potatoes and spread evenly. Season with salt, pepper and a little grated nutmeg.

7. Spread on the final layer of cheese. Use all the cheese! Cheese is delicious.

8. To the cup of potato water that you reserved, add 1 cup of the white wine. Pour this total of 2 cups of liquid evenly over the entire dish.

9. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake for 30 more minutes. If necessary, leave that sucker in the oven longer to get a nice crispy brown top.

Put a nice big spoon in the dish, place dish on table, eat yourself silly. This will easily feed 13-15 non-Swiss, non-German or non-Scandinavian people. If you are feeding Swiss, German or Scandihoovian peoples, you will run out no matter how much you cook.

December 18, 2009

What Made Me Laugh Today

I always appreciate a good laugh.

Today is December 18th. There are no lights or Christmas decorations either inside or outside the house.

But, we do have a pumpkin. On the outside front stoop.

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Which apparently has rotted on the bottom, and then frozen itself to the stoop.

So that we can't move it.

I just laughed my ass off.

December 14, 2009

Monday Morning Check-In

This is how my Monday is going:

1. Looking at: the work piled up on my desk this morning.

2. Drinking: Pinhead Gunpowder tea.

3. Listening to: well nothing at the moment, but I've once again taken to listening to the radio in the car. Apparently I'm in a teenager phase of life.

4. Reflecting upon: all the kitty puke that needed cleaning up this morning. Thanks kitties.

5. Hoping for: enough snow at the local cross-country place to ski on. There is no bicycle riding, so there might as well be skiing.

6. Knitting on: I-cord braids for the baby Viking hat. This is actually very cleverly accomplished, but I am having trouble focusing on knitting lately.

7. Dreading: having to buy a Christmas tree, decorate it and guard it from the Tree Eating and Then Puking Kitty. Last year we got a table-top tree and it worked out OK. Maybe I can get away with this again this year?

8. Wondering: why apparently I am focusing on kitty puke in this post.

December 09, 2009

Technical Difficulties

I wrote a post, but the blog is rejecting it. It was actually a decent post too.

1. I told you guys about my new phone:

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Not being an ardent cell phone user, I had been getting along perfectly fine with an ancient flip-phone for the occasional call or text message. However, this weekend something came over me and I suddenly had to have a non-embarrassing phone that would actually let me check my email on the go. I bought this one and I can't stop playing with it.

2. Thus far, my favorite thing about the onset of coldness is that I get to wear my Birch as a scarf pretty much all the time.

3. Apparently adding a third random thing is causing my blog to crash. Awesome.

4. Actually, the blog will only crash if I talk about hair.

5. For this, I have no explanation but I guess we won't be talking about taming wild, curly, frizzy hair today.

6. But if you have any tips, please share them. Love, your wild-haired friend with the crashy blog.

Test

test. blog is broken

December 07, 2009

First Snow

This was the view yesterday out my kitchen window.

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I'm already looking forward to pulling out my XC skate skis and skiing here in the very near future.

Don't get me wrong...I'm still dreaming of a nice warm beach somewhere. But when winter hands me lemons, I'm making delicious lemon squares, bay-bee.

December 02, 2009

Thanks!

Thanks for all your happy birthday wishes! That helped make the day really special.

Sil and I had a lovely time shopping for more work clothes for me. That's the good news. The bad news is that I need these clothes for an upcoming project that will pull me even further away from knitting and blogging for a short time. So, bear with me and I'll be here as often as I can in an attempt to amuse and entertain.

November 25, 2009

Thankful Wednesday

Carole has been blogging Thankful Thursdays. I don't blog on Thursdays so I haven't yet participated. But being that tomorrow is Thanksgiving and all, I figured I would have at it.

I am thankful for:

1. Not having to cook Thanksgiving. YAY!

2. November sunshine.

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3. Feeling healthy.

4. The company of family and friends, in person and long-distance.

5. That I have a job and my bills are paid.

6. Tea. The liquid that is bringing you this blog post.

I am a very lucky girl.

If you celebrate Thanksgiving, I wish you a good holiday. If not, have a lovely Thursday.

November 23, 2009

Monday Morning Smile

Its Monday morning.

Ugh.

If you need a smile as much as I do, then I'd suggest watching this.

Weekend recap: no knitting. Nightclubs are interesting people-watching, but too loud. Alcohol is poison.

That is all.

November 20, 2009

New Boots Friday

With respect to #9 on the list in the last post (wearing high heels without hurty feet) I unexpectedly came across a pair of cute boots that are pretty darn comfortable on my feet.

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They are these boots, bought for a better price. Now I just need to buy some cute skirts or dresses to show them off.

November 18, 2009

Random Wednesday

Drive-by blogging continues.

1. The new niece-let is here. The hat? Not done.

2. My tea order arrived, saving life as we know it. I ordered this Pinhead Gunpowder and think it is delicious.

3. I know its not Tuesday, but Carole's "Ten on Tuesday" list was pretty darn entertaining and I thought I'd try my hand.

Ten Things I Wish I Knew How to Do - Likelihood of Actually Learning/Doing
1. Drag race a nitro car and hit over 300 mph in under 4 seconds. -- Never in a million years
2. Squat 190 lbs and deadlift twice my bodyweight -- Absolutely gonna do it.
3. Enjoy cooking -- Low, very low.
4. Keep my kitties alive forever -- Unlikely.
5. Surf -- Maybe. Just maybe.
6. Decorate my house -- Never.
7. Put together a nice outfit without relying on my sister to help me -- uh...yeah. good luck to me.
8. Enjoy a dramatic movie -- Maybe. You never know.
9. Wear high heels without hurty feet -- Does this exist in real life?
10. Win every case -- Unlikelihood can't keep me from trying.

November 16, 2009

Drive-By Blogging

Its been busy, busy, busy at the office so today's blogging is of the drive-by variety.

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If you've got five minutes to find a picture and you look hard enough, find one you will.

A new female baby is shortly to join the family -- probably today -- so I really need to finish this hat.

I actually cooked something this weekend -- this turkey chili and it was quite tasty. Clearly aliens have stolen the real me and left an impostor in my place.

I have piles of undone laundry.

I can't see my desk because of the piles of paper everywhere.

I am almost out of tea.

November 11, 2009

Random Wednesday

Another Random Wednesday.

1. The baby hat, it grows. Any serious knitter would totally have cranked that puppy out by now. Me, I lazily knit a row or two, get distracted. Knit a row or two. You get the picture. Add a couple of inches to the picture in the last post in your minds, and call it good. No worries, as there is no baby yet.

2. Does anyone have delicious recipes involving quinoa? I'd like to like this, but the one time I cooked it I thought the texture was weird and the taste, eh.

3. On the topic of food, my favorite snack recently has been Stacy's Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips. A few of these chips calm down my carb cravings right quick.

4. So far November is treating me OK. There were two tandem rides this week which involved bicycle shorts and not long tights. That is like getting an unexpected gift.

5. What do I want for my birthday? It is now time to ponder this important question.

November 04, 2009

Random Wednesday

Once again, its time for Random Wednesday.

1. Apparently there are lots of November Lovers out there. At the very least, you've convinced me to put up a pretty November picture.

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Taken November 1, 2009. Clearly its not all bad -- yet.

2. I was very interested to read that lots of you associated November with food. Cooking it, smelling it, and of course, eating it. Don't get me wrong. I like food. Sometimes I like food ALOT. But I definitely don't associate November (or any other month) with food.

Not to be a killjoy or anything, but someone has gotta say it. Be aware of the effects of a holiday diet. If you know you are about to embark on a cycle of holiday eating, please consider increasing your activity levels to compensate. If you know that come January 1, 2010, you are gonna make the "I will lose 10/20/30 pounds" New Year's Resolution for the eleventy-billionth time, consider making that decision now and not digging a deeper hole for yourself over the coming weeks.

Its all about the healthy. If you need five concrete suggestions to get started, try here.

3. When will I learn to set ALL the clocks in my house back for the end of daylight savings time? The one I always miss is the most important one: my clock radio right by my bed. Duh.

4. And speaking of the time change, is anyone else having difficulty adjusting? I mean, its only one hour. But its been fucking with me for the last few days -- too sleepy too soon, waking up too early. Yawn.

5. Two rows at a time per night, mean that Urban Aran isn't worth photographing again just yet.

6. Time to get to work.

November 02, 2009

November, It is Here

I would have to categorize November as my least favorite month. December has my birthday in it, so that's good. There's usually some decent skiing to be had in January and February to make up for the cold. In March and April there is the hope of spring to carry one through. And the rest of the months have passable to wonderful weather to entertain me and make bicycle rides a pleasure.

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But, November? November has bare trees, grey skies and chilly days, making a bicycle ride more an act of will than a joyous event. There's usually no snow to ski on. There is Thanksgiving, if you go for such a thing and I don't.

At times like these, its important to search out the very good things, the things that make me smile, and focus on those. What's making me smile today?

-- A pair of great jeans that fit me almost perfectly (Joe's Jeans, Provocateur fit) bought for a good price at the TJ Maxx.

-- My 160 lb. (72.5 kg) sumo deadlift.

-- The two rows per night I knit on my Urban Aran. Hey. Two rows is two rows. Better than nuthin'.

-- The Celtics.

Do you love November? Edumacate me as to why.

October 26, 2009

Musical Field Trip

I'll admit, I didn't knit a stitch all weekend. That makes showing knitting on Mondays (which is my preference) more than a little difficult.

Instead, I will tell you about my Saturday night. My friend Nanyee suggested we see a Beethoven program (Symphonies No. 1, 2 & 5). Its been years since I went to a symphony concert, so I was up for it.

Little did we know until we arrived, that we would be sitting literally in the laps of the first violins.

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That would be me and Nanyee, and yes I could touch the stage from my seat.

Now, Symphony Hall is a big place (click here for a view of the stage from a normal seat) and the usual concert experience is an aural one, far removed from the actual musicians playing the music.

But this was different. I was close enough to hear the small talk among the players, to see their faces and hear them breathe. To hear an individual violin if I chose to listen for one.

What this did was bring me back in no uncertain fashion to an earlier time in my life. I probably haven't mentioned this before here, but my first career was in the front office of a major-market symphony orchestra. Fresh out of college, my first job was managing a chorus and assisting the personnel manager. In other words: herding crazy singers and even crazier musicians.

So, when I saw the different chairs for some of the violins, I knew that a picky long-time player demanded a special chair in order to play. Correct. I saw stand partners happily chatting away, and stand partners that wouldn't so much as look at one another. At the end of show while the applause dragged on, I felt the musicians looking at their watches, anxious to bring their work day to a close (there was no actual watch checking, but the body english was clear -- at least to me).

Now, I don't know anything about the particular musicians at this orchestra. But, any orchestra is a collection of artists forced into close quarters and lock-step cooperation. This creates, as you might imagine, countless opportunities for personal drama (consider how awkward it would be to play one stand behind your ex-husband or ex-affair partner -- or both -- for twenty more years) and work drama (union rules, union rules, management v. players). But being so close to them like I was used to being when I worked in that business, it was like the years dropped away. Frankly I don't miss it.

Long story short, from far away the magic happens. Up close, however, I couldn't miss the man behind the curtain.

The music was lovely, the players top-notch. However, I think I might have focused more on Beethoven from the back of the hall.

October 21, 2009

Random Wednesday

After that text-picture-video postfest on Monday, I think I've gone and used up all my blog fodder for the week.

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1. So, here. Have a picture entitled Yarn Not Purchased. I think this is the Brooks Farm booth. Drool away.

2. Does anyone really buy all that variegated yarn I saw everywhere at the festival? Its certainly pretty, and quite eye catching in the skein. But its actually quite difficult to make a strongly variegated skein turn into a wearable and flattering knitted garment for a grown woman's figure. Granted, kids sweaters are cute in it. But thats about it. Feel free to try and change my mind with links to pics of lovely knitted, variegated things.

3. The snack of choice on the drive to and from Rhinebeck -- Ritter Sport Marzipan. Dark chocolate and almond paste, need anything more be said?

4. Go see a picture of Norma's CIA dinner. Can you tell that I'm hungry?

October 07, 2009

Misc. and Sundry Random Wednesday

Having gotten up at o'dark thirty to make an airport run to drop off mom for her flight back, you are getting the groggy thoughts of a half-caffeinated zombie.

1. Once again, I bagged finishing the sleeve and opted to cast on for the two fronts of the Urban Aran, cardigan version. Always, always, always I knit the sleeves too long. In point of fact, I know that I've knit this particular sleeve too long to the underarm. Under these circumstances, its better to knit the fronts, baste everything together, then get an exact measurement of the sleeve length. Sleeve cap averted!

2. Awhile back I mentioned that I was experimenting with buying progressive lensed glasses on-line. Well, they've arrived. The good news is that the frames look fine and the prescription seems correct. The less than stellar news is that either (1) I hate progressive lenses due to being unwilling to look through different parts of the lens for different distances or (2) there is really something to being fitted individually for these types of glasses. I'm giving them a chance, though. Wearing them a little bit each day. My take on on-line glasses purchases is that I would definitely buy a regular prescription on-line -- for example, distance sunglasses -- but I'd think twice about getting progressives.

3. I have wanted a Gorillapod since forever, and finally ordered one. Seriously, this is the BEST TRIPOD EVER for a little point and shoot camera. Light, bendable, wrapable around poles, branches, etc. and pretty darn inexpensive. No more excuses for bathroom mirror pictures of yourself, or that "arms-length" shot of you and your buds. I'm quite smitten.

4. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Tripod. Note there is no picture in this entry. I'll get right on that.

September 30, 2009

Random Wednesday

Once again, its time for Random Wednesday. The weeks, they fly by.

I was rather out of ideas for randomness today, but Cheryl saved my cookies by giving me a blog award with a requirement: post 10 honest things about yourself that people may not know. Alrighty, then.

1. Although my favorite color is orange, I probably own and wear way more red things than orange things.

2. I eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning. The real kind that I scoop out of the bulk bin and cook for awhile. In a pot. On the stove. Really!

3. My current favorite toenail polish is OPI's "I'm Not Really a Waitress". I haven't had unpolished toes in....years.

4. I count as one of my greatest life accomplishments pedaling the tandem up Mount Washington. Of course, I took a sock. However, this hurt so bad that I'm never doing it again.

5. If I could have any job in the world, irrespective of having the actual skills necessary for the job, I would choose to be an NHRA Top Fuel driver. 0 to 330 mph in 4.4 seconds! Sign me up!

6. And does it now surprise you that I LOVE rollercoasters? I think not. For extra kicks, Sil and I will wait the extra time in line for the front car.

7. My mom taught me to knit when I was a young teenager, but it didn't take until my freshman year at college when (1) I was cold and (2) some cool girls in my dorm knit. Although my passion for this hobby has ebbed and flowed over the years, I can truthfully say that I've had at least one work in progress in an unbroken chain from 1983 until today. I do realize that this is longer than some of you have been alive, but I've accepted this reality.

8. If I won millions of dollars in the lottery tomorrow, there is no way I'd quit my job. I do important work, it challenges my brain and (most days) its really fun. However, for sure I'd travel more and buy more clothes.

9. I really appreciate that you all stop by and read me every week. If I answer the question honestly, "would you keep blogging if no-one ever commented?" I'd answer "no". Hi, my name is Claudia and I'm an attention whore.

10. You know, this is really difficult. After blogging here since 2002, that is fully seven years of telling you guys stuff about me. What don't you already know? Sometimes I catch myself talking in real life to fellow knitters/bloggers who read here, and I say something and they go "yes, we know" cause I've already blogged it. Well, I guess the last thing I'll say is that if you read this blog, you probably won't be too shocked at the real-life me.

September 23, 2009

Falling into Fall

As much as I want to keep the last hopes of summer alive, there are signs all around me that autumn is here.

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So today I'm going to try to focus on all the things I love about fall in New England:

1. How crisp fall mornings smell faintly of woodsmoke.

2. Local apples, cider and cider donuts. Mmmm. Cider donuts. I resisted them yesterday at the farmer's market because they only came in bags of six (I am content with only one, but might be tempted to eat more than one if I bought that). However, I DID NOT RESIST the apple dumpling sold by Red Apple Farm. Oh. My. God.

3. When most of the leaves on the trees are still green, but some have turned a bright, flaming red. Oh, don't get me wrong. I love later on in the season when there is nary a green leaf in sight and the red/orange/yellows are blinding. But the early season avoids what mars the late season: denuded trees right next to the beautiful ones.

4. Boots. I love wearing them, and am currently in the market for pointy-toed dress boots with a fetching higher heel. Fall is the time for one of my favorite outfits: a corduroy blazer, kick-ass jeans and nice boots.

5. You knew this one was coming: ITS SHEEP AND WOOL SEASON! Rhinebeck is a delightful destination, and I'm looking forward to seeing my people, eating at Escoffier, buying a new supply of soap and taking more sheep pictures.

OK, now I'm WAY more psyched for fall. What do you love about autumn where you are??

September 16, 2009

Random Wednesday

Well, that was a relatively entertaining but draining stretch of work. Another summer, lost in a blur of deadlines.

Onwards towards fall with some randomness.

1. Yesterday's thought of the day:

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While exiting this here parking garage in downtown Boston, "I'm glad I didn't park next to the car that was on fire."

2. Having turned the heel of a sock within the last day or two, perhaps the mojo is trickling back.

3. I am almost out of pinhead gunpowder green tea. This is unfortunate, as I've grown exceptionally fond of it.

4. Yesterday afternoon was the farmer's market. I had completed my deadline. The day was sunny and warm. With nothing pressing, I took out my old friend the turquoise Electra Townie (with flowers painted on the frame) to the farmer's market and filled up my milk crate with goodies.

I bought local apples (Macs and Ginger Golds), a ripe red tomato and a ripe yellow tomato from one of the organic farms, a pint of local blueberries (mmm....blueberries), some fresh-caught scallops from the Fish Guy and some local pears and peaches. Oh, and a loaf of delicous potato bread.

Amazingly, this lot fit in the milk crate and I cycled it home without incident. Apparently when I was riding this three-speed, heavy-assed bike last year I was in much worse shape. Last summer there was little to no tandem riding due to the hubby's injury and I had yet to start seriously weight training. Yesterday, having not ridden this bike since last fall, I really noticed how much easier it was to pedal it.

Improvement is always nice to see and feel.

September 11, 2009

I've Got My Official Badge

Yep, this week I got the official badge of the middle-aged -- a prescription for "progressive" lenses (fancy bifocals for you young 'uns).

So, I walked in to my local mall-based chain optical retailer and inquired as to prices for these babies. Told upwards of $500, I walked right out again. Yikes! If anyone has any wisdom to offer about these sorts of lenses (worth the money? how to save some $$ on them?) I'd sure appreciate it.

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Kimba, my office-mate. Just because every blog entry needs a picture.

September 02, 2009

Random Wednesday

I've put this off until I feel good and random. Or bad and random. You can decide after reading the post.

1. Please send your good karma to Margene who has got some medical issues going on. Be well, my friend.

2. The light has turned autumnal. The air is crisp. This can only mean one thing. Rhinebeck is coming! I'll be there, looking for my knitting and spinning mojo. Maybe I dropped it in one of the barns....

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Blue-Faced Leicester sheepy, Rhinebeck 2007.

3. Today I achieved a new personal record in the weight room: a back squat of 125 lbs for 5 reps. I'm pretty darn proud of that. I've been working for about nine months to get here, and at times it seemed that I was getting nowhere. But no wimping out or giving up around here, baby.

4. Last week I asked for knitter karma to convince a certain judge to give me more time to complete a project. Damned if that didn't work like a charm. You are a powerful bunch. Remind me not to piss you off.

September 01, 2009

A Day Late....

I usually blog on Mondays, but here it is already Tuesday (how did that happen) and nothing bloggy has happened yet.

Ah well.

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Bixi Bikes, Montreal.

This time last year, I was on the last month of the BAT/KAT Project. Which, as you might recall, was focused on encouraging alternate modes of transportation other than a car.

I was reminded of this project by the Bixi Bikes I saw in Montreal. The way this works is, there are bike stations like the one pictured above all over the city. If you need to get, say from your home to your office or to shopping or to a friend's house, you would walk to the nearest station, grab a bike, ride it to the station nearest your destination and drop it off.

This is genius because one of the main obstacles to using a bicycle in the city is having to worry about it getting stolen while you are away. When we are out and about on the Big Orange Tandem, the downside is that we can't just lock up the bike and go into a store or a restaurant. The potential risk of loss is just too great.

So, its time to confess. Without the impetus of the BAT/KAT Project, with a busy tandem bicycling and weightlifting schedule, with lots of crappy spring and summer weather, and with less attendance at the local farmer's markets**, I haven't ridden my pretty cruiser bicycle all season. I feel kind of bad about that.

Maybe I need to go for a ride today.


**Apparently, the main draw for me last summer at the farmer's markets were the baked goods, not the veggies. Since then I've really cut back on the white flour and sugar, and even delicious baked goods just doesn't move me much anymore. Don't get me wrong, an occasional treat drops down the gullet. But I don't stock up on rolls and cookies every week like I used to.

P.S. Kern suggested that we all visit Iraqi Bundles of Love. "The man who started it is a friend of my BIL and is stationed in Iraq. He's asked quilters-and knitters!- to find it in their hearts and stash to bundle up their leftover supplies and send them to the women of Iraq. When I first asked him if yarn was good he said he would ask. He said that the Iraqi woman's eyes sparkled when he asked about yarn and so I've sent over three bundles of yarn." Let's see what we can do!

August 12, 2009

Turtle Week

Some weeks, its all about crawling to the finish line.

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1. Dear Impossible Work Project: please let inspiration strike. Today would be good.

2. I am enjoying a new tea this morning, a Pinhead Gunpowder green tea that I picked up from a vendor at the local farmer's market yesterday. Its delicious in a way that reminds me of black tea, but in a healthy green tea. So far, a winner!

3. On Friday, there will be a short, but well-earned vacation. In the fine tradition of Where in the World Is Claudia, I hereby announce

A Blog Contest

Answer in the comments where you think I'm going on vacation, and I will pick one comment at random (even wrong answers count!) to receive a souvenir of the particular destination. Here are the clues:

1. Warm - maybe.
2. Bicycle - friendly.
3. Passport - required.
4. Bagels - indeed!

The answer here in Friday's post, so start up the guessin'!

August 05, 2009

Random Wednesday

Here's what is jumbling around in my head this morning.

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1. I love my deck-beach. The only problem with it, is that it gets full sun for only about an hour and half in the morning. So, what I've been doing is taking my staycation one hour at a time. I'll workworkwork. Then look at my watch and see that it is the Magic Sun Hour. Then its out to the deck with my beach towel and my iPod to soak up some Vitamin D.

2. I am aware that sitting in the sun and tanning up isn't good for my skin. On the other hand, I truly crave Vitamin D. So my compromise is a reasonable amount of sun exposure without sunscreen. As my lovely mother-in-law always says, "everything in moderation". And after the winter and early summer we've had, don't get between me and my rays.

3. Yesterday on the back deck I finished listening to The Curse of the Pharoahs by Elizabeth Peters. I was sorry to hear it end, but luckily for me there are many more Amelia Peabody books in this series for me to enjoy. And, how wonderful that my public library has these wonderful audiobooks for FREE. I do love my libraries!

4. So, the other day I needed to grocery shop and happened to go to the food store that just happens to be next to a really good Marshall's. Being a picky and unadventurous shopper, I often leave stores utterly empty-handed. Imagine my surprise when I found a pair of jeans that actually fit me and nice new bikini, all in the same trip! I was so surprised that I....almost didn't buy them. Because, ya know, I have a bikini and a pair of jeans similar to those already. Yes, I then slapped myself upside the head and bought them. The First Golden Rule of Discount Shopping: buy it when you see it because it will be gone tomorrow when invariably you'll have changed your mind.

5. I am actually considering spinning something. I'll keep you posted.

August 03, 2009

Hot Hot Hot Monday

Nothing but good news on this bright and sunny Monday.

How was my weekend?

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Hot! Hot! Hot! Having waited so long for summer to arrive, there is no way I'm complaining about the heat and humidity. A perfect time to ride a tandem to the beach, and eat a black raspberry soft serve cone. Yum, yum, says I. When it comes to soft serve ice cream, I am weak in the face of such deliciousness.

Kimba the cat is also doing well, and thanks all of you for your good wishes. Well, not really. She's super-pissed-off at humans right about now. See, the good news is that she doesn't have a GI cancer. Instead, she likely has inflammatory bowel disease. But the treatment for this requires that I hold her down (dodging flailing claws and sharp teeth) while the husband squirts foul-tasting antibiotics down her unwilling gullet.

Fun times.

Interestingly, Igor also has this condition. Which is treated long-term with incredibly expensive grilled-chicken flavored steriods. Perhaps the kitties will be joining me in the gym, doing kitty biceps curls with tiny dumbbells and getting ripped?

July 22, 2009

Random Wednesday

1. This is your knitting content for the day, and maybe for the week:

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(Click pic for bigger). Wandering through The Clark this weekend, I ran smack into The Knitting Lesson. Immediately I counted up how many DPNs I saw (4 not 5) and wondered why the little girl had the yarn looped around the finger of her right hand. Was she throwing in the English style? How could that be considering this is a French painting?

2. As a counterpoint to the above knit-geekdom, I knit not one stitch all weekend despite ample opportunity to do so. The mojo is not back.

3. Apparently one can't out-train a bad diet. Despite riding over 80 miles and 5000 feet of climbing, I still gained a pound for every day I was gone. A cone of black raspberry ice cream (with chocolate chunks) here, a shaker-full of margarita straight-up there....it adds up.

4. My sister is a funny girl. Check out her advice to summer travelers.

5. It is entirely unfair to have a huge zit and wrinkles on the same face.

6. I am heartily sick of most of the music on my iPod. Its time to buy some new tunes! What new music are you listening to?

July 15, 2009

Random Wednesday

The longer a certain golden orb sparkles in the blue skies, the happier and more upbeat things are 'round these parts. Thus, this happy Random Wednesday is brought to you by our sponsor, The Sun.

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The tall ships come, the big orange tandem has to ride around and check 'em out.

Its nice when all the numbers match (check out the scrolling "Top Fundraiser" sidebar).

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A weight I can't lift.

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Although there is no official BAT/KAT Project this year, I haven't given up on the shopping by bicycle. Here I am with an entire salad on my back (much to the amusement of the guy behind me). Although the price of gas isn't to the levels of last summer, is anyone out there still focused on alternatively transporting their knitting selves?

Elements of a staycation: a back deck that gets the morning sun, actual morning sun, a beach towel, a nice cup of tea, and an audiobook on the iPod. Even an hour of staycation per day can hold one over until a real vacation presents itself.

Have a great Wednesday!

July 06, 2009

Monday, Monday

Today you get stream-of-consciousness blogging in the absence of actual knitting. Of which, by the way, there has been some. The sleeve shortening project is almost complete and (amazingly) there might actually be a finished project here soon.

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The only picture I took this weekend.

I love the sun. We've had an absolutely crappy summer so far, with clouds, cold and rain -- this after the world's longest, coldest winter. Seeing the weather forecast change from seven days of sun to the next two days of rain almost made me cry.

And, I'm still behind on laundry.

The great Potato Salad experiment worked out quite nicely this weekend using the recipe discussed here with modifications. I love salt and vinegar potato chips, and this potato salad filled that particular craving awesomely.

I also made this pasta salad from a website suggested by Tish. It was easy and delicious. Well, if *I* made it you know that its easy. The kitchen is not my natural habitat. Next time I'd use less garlic. Garlic in quantity doesn't particularly agree with me. Sadly.

I can do one pullup. A pullup (palms away from you) is different than a chinup (palms towards you) and its harder.

This weekend I came across this article and this followup which kind of bummed me out. Would the average woman rather be too fat than too muscular? Really? If you need me, I'll be over here in this corner ducking out on the mainstream yet again.

I returned the Nike Frees for just not fitting me right enough to justify their high price. For some reason, Adidas sneaks fit me best and I should just stick to those. My thought in purchasing them was to use the Frees for weight lifting. But for the few lifts where I want my feet flat on the floor (squats and deads) I am employing the actual FREE solution and just taking off my sneaks and doing them in socks.

There will be a new girl baby in the family soon (what is my niece's kid to me: my grand-niece?) and we all think that the Brunhilde hat would be hysterical.

I'm hitting publish now before things spin totally out of control.

July 03, 2009

Starting Off the Weekend Right

Happy Friday before the Fourth of July. Whether or not that is a holiday for you, cheers!

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I recommend this delicious beer for those whose tastes run toward the malty.

If I owe you a MS Ride prize, I mailed them off today. Look for prizes in your mailboxes soon!

July 01, 2009

Things That I'm Behind On....

Where my head is at this morning is making lists of Things That I'm Behind On:

1. Work. During the best of times I can just keep the top of my head and my eyes and nose above the waterline of the swirling, whirlpool, sucking vortex of work. Imagine what a couple of weeks of fundraising distraction has wrought.

2. Laundry. Enuf said.

3. Knitting. Knitting? What's that?

4. Grocery shopping. The refrigerator is an echo chamber. Yet, there is chocolate. Funny that.

5. Husband-birthday-party planning. Yikes. I need a killer potato salad recipe.

6. Picture-taking. Other than taking pictures of prizes, if there is to be an Eye Candy Friday here this week, I've gotta get busy.

Things I Am NOT Behind On.

1. Drinking delicious red wine with my girls.

2. Shopping. I ordered the Nike Free from Zappos to see how I like them, but they aren't here yet.

3. Blogging. See, I'm here!

June 10, 2009

Random Wednesday and Great Prizes

Before we have Random Wednesday, let me show off today's great additions to the MS Ride Prize Basket:

Julia of Knitterly Things and Vesper Sock Yarn has really come through big-time for the Prize Basket.

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She is offering five lucky winners a copy of the Chevron Love MIttens pattern.

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And one lucky winner gets the special MS Ride edition "Tandem Ride" mitten kit shown in the above picture. I love those colors, but is that really a surprise?

But, that is NOT ALL.

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To really, really entice you to donate $10 or more to my MS Ride, Julia is offering two subscriptions to the Vesper Sock Yarn Club, which is a three month subscription and a value of $90 US. The summer club will be July, August and September. Each month, Julia will send out a skein of special edition yarn to the two lucky winners. Now that is a prescription for extreme summer happiness if you ask me.

To enter the big-ass MS Ride Raffle for these great prizes and all of the other mouth-watering delights in there, please donate to my MS Ride on or before June 28th!

And now for some randomness. Yesterday Carole answered the question "Ten Favorite Things to Do During 'Me' Time". "Hmmmmm...", thought I, scratching my head. How would I answer this?

1. Surf the web. Now, I don't know how proud I am of this one being number one, but that is the damn truth. My work has me at a computer screen for many hours a day, and for a quick break the miracle of the interwebs is ever-present.

2. Ride a bicycle. Although the 75 miles of the MS Ride does take some training, frankly that is not a long or scary distance for me. I've spent years on the back of the tandem, logging thousands of miles. Its fun, and a great way to see the world!

3. Lift heavy things. Now, I totally get that going to the gym is many people's idea of a hard, unenjoyable slog. I happen to love it. I love the immediate feedback - either you lifted that weight the amount of times you had planned, or you didn't. No room for delusional thinking as to how you did that day. Its also an excellent way to get my mind off anything else I might be obsessing over. Pick up something heavy enough to hurt you if you drop it, and trust me. Your attention is riveted.

4. Shop for smaller size pants. See number 3 above. I am a terrible shopper, but this is alright. And hugely necessary to avoid embarrassing nakedness.

5. Pretend to knit. Lately I feel like a knitting pretender. I knit a row here and there, but my focus isn't there. Working on this, I am. Because I DO enjoy it. But in some ways I feel too mentally scattered to enjoy it as much as I ordinarily do. Someone recently related to me a snippet of their grandmother's wisdom, to wit "You become a different person every ten years." Now, I'm not endorsing this as true having had insufficient time to digest it. But it does give one pause to ponder....how different am I as a person then I was ten years ago? For one thing, I sure knit less.

I'm not sure I've had enough "me" time lately to fill up a whole ten things, or really can define "me" time when I'm lucky enough to do *mostly* as I please most days...... Eat at restaurants. Run an enormous fundraiser. Keep up with friends and family. Drink lots of delicious tea. Watch robins. Take the occasional picture (I'd love to do more of this). Wander around aimlessly (preferably somewhere AWAY).

And before this post devolves irretrievably into chaos, I will bid you good day.

June 01, 2009

Happiness Monday

Monday is not usually a day of happiness. The whole going-back-work thing after a weekend is usually a bit difficult. However, since I've worked completely through the last few weekends, perhaps my perspective on Mondays has altered.

Or, more likely, I've just gone and completely lost my freakin' mind.

Be that as it may, recently after a post where I mentioned a simple thing that made me happy, Beadlizard Sylvia sent me a link to the Happiness Project. So, in an on-going effort to improve Mondays, I thought I might make an effort to pull some of that spirit in here on the first day of the work week. Even when the happy thought is small, tiny, nano-like. Feel free to join in.

I am a tactile person. No surprise -- many knitters and spinners are, choosing to feel the world through touch in precedence to other senses. Awhile back, my friend Stasia sent me an out-of-the-blue care package that included some delightful, fancy face cream. This morning I put some on my fingers and was smoothing it all over my face when I stopped to notice how silky smooth the cream was, how it smelled faintly of olives, how soft it made my skin. How lucky I am to have a friend who wanted me to share the particular delight of her favorite moisturizer with her.

Let's continue the happy with some additions to the MS Ride Prize Basket

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Rick of Shepherd's Flock is once again supporting my MS Ride by donating one pair of women's short cuff slippers with sheepskin sole to one lucky winner. I LOVE these slippers (my husband's slippers are pictured: he loves them too) and am so happy that one of you will have the chance to experience snuggly warm feet this winter.

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Speaking of snuggly and warm, Naomi is donating two skeins of Drops laceweight alpaca, perfect for a lovely shawl or scarf.

A reminder that my MS Ride is on Saturday, June 27th so you have until the end of this month to donate and win!

May 28, 2009

Random Thursday

An especially random Wednesday, since its actually Thursday.

1. Feeling socky today? If so, I have prizes of great interest to you that are going into the MS Ride Prize Basket:

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An All-Vermont sock package from Knitigator Kathy, which includes A Piece of Vermont hand-dyed superwash wool in the "Dancer" colorway, plus a set of size 1 Darn Pretty Needles by Grafton Fibers.

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And from Chappysmom Deb comes my favorite sock book ever, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts "Simple Socks". My favorite sock needles ever plus my favorite book ever plus some scrumptious yarn. You can't say that I'm not trying to hook you guys up. Throw in your $10 (or more) to my MS Ride Fundraiser and get a chance to win great prizes!

2. On my second trip back to Peet's, they finally had my Gunpowder Organic green tea in stock. All is now right with the world. Sil was with me and thought I should try a cup of Genmai Cha which I quite liked. Tea and rice....who knew?

3. Left to myself, I am not the best shopper. I routinely leave very cute clothes behind because I'm often not able to wrap my head around wearing some new style, fabric, color or shape on my body. However, when my sister shops with me, I am totally called out on my bullshit and made...nay, FORCED....to purchase the cute clothing. Lo and behold, I found the perfect jeans (Joe's Jeans in the Honey fit, I love you). Now I have exactly three pairs of jeans that fit me, and I think this will do.

4. It wasn't very pretty, but yesterday I was able to deadlift my bodyweight plus a pound or two. Now I need to work on making it pretty and doing more reps.

5. Day in and day out, I work on large projects whether I get no immediate feedback. Yes, eventually I find out whether I win or lose, but day to day there are only small and intangible victories, if any. I love the immediate feedback of lifting a heavy weight. The focus of the mind, the sense of achievement when I can lift more than the previous week or month. Maybe because I live inside my head for most of the hours of my day, I turn to something so physical for a change of pace.

6. There is something horribly wrong when I have to wear fleece yoga pants and wool socks at the end of May. That is all.

May 26, 2009

A Cruel Mistress

I was working away in my home office when all of a sudden the tree outside my window exploded with robins. Dive bombing, screeching robins. Every robin in the neighborhood, it seemed to me.

Rushing outside, I found the robin's nest empty. But out of the corner of my eye, I spied two huddled little masses on the driveway, hopping madly for the safety of hiding under the car. The robin babies had escaped the nest -- or been chased out.

We tried catching one (gently and with rubber gloves on) and putting it back in the nest, but it hopped out again right away. Later on in the day, this little one was still around, hiding in the tall grass.

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These babies can't fly. I've got no idea what happened here, although I suspect a crow attack.

Now, I know that Mother Nature is a cruel mistress and baby critters don't make it more than they do. But I did so want MY robin babies to be OK. I choose to believe that they are.

I'd like to thank all of you who have donated to my MS Ride already. I really appreciate your support! There are a TON more great prizes, so let's see some more of them now:

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Diana from Streets and YOs" made this beautiful (and deliciously orange) box bag so that you could win it as a prize. This is a perfect bag for a lace project or your take-along socks. This would also be great to keep my your digital camera in.

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Margene donated this lovely handspun skein to the Prize Basket. Read all about the birth of this yarn here.

To win these or any of the other great prizes in the Prize Basket donate $10 or more to my MS Ride.

May 13, 2009

Random Wednesday

Before I get into today's randomness, let me put some more great prizes in the MS Ride Prize Basket:

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From kmkat comes not one, but TWO copies of one of my favorite knitting reference books, "Knitting from the Top" by Barbara Walker. She calls herself "ditzy" for buying extra copies, but I'm calling it a planned gift to the cause. Each book goes to a separate winner.

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Lorette came to Boston a few years back, shopped with the local crew and bought this skein of J.Knits alpaca lace-weight yarn (4 oz., 1200 yds) in the color "Boston". Its only fitting that this lovely yarn would come back to become a great MS Ride prize.

To win these or any of the other great prizes in the Prize Basket, donate $10 of more to the cause.

Yesterday I saw alot of Ten on Tuesday posts about the top ten places where people shop. Since its now Wednesday, answering the question today qualifies as random enough.

1. Whole Foods Market is by far where I spend the most money every week. I've cut back on alot of discretionary, impulse spending but I still let myself go a little wild when it comes to organic produce and quality meats. The store has a reputation for being pricey, but I find that if I can rein in my desires for the expensive cheeses (mmmm....cheese) and high-end packaged food, it is do-able.

2. Trader Joe's. Oh, the deliciousness. Here is my source for Ritter Sport chocolate bars. Worth the trip just for those.

3. Lululemon. When not dressed up for work, I favor hanging around the house, running errands or heading to the gym in comfy yoga pants. This place is stupid expensive, but I just can't help myself. Unlike most other yoga pants, these keep their shape and deep black color washing after washing. After buying cheap yoga pants and having them fade/pill/stretch out after only a few wearings, I've decided to pay more upfront and keep them longer.

4. Nordstrom. Shopping for work clothes is difficult. As a lawyer, I work in a conservative fashion arena, to say the least. When I want well-made, classic pantsuits made out of actual high-quality wool fabric that will look good for a long time -- in other words, investment pieces -- there are very few places I can look. I recently had good luck here when a wardrobe-staple black pantsuit needed replacing.

5. T.J.MAXX/Marshalls. For non-work clothes, I look for the bargains, baby.

6. DSW. I am not a shoe-aholic, although I do understand the allure. When I turned 40, I went through my closet and threw out every uncomfortable pair of shoes that I owned (except for a select few evening shoes -- whaddya gonna do?). I won't buy a nasty-ass, ugly shoe, but I also won't buy something that hurts. Thus, my shoe collection is quite small but usually my feet don't hurt either.

7. My local farmer's market. I am SUPER EXCITED that the farmer's market season will be starting soon. I love being able directly to support the farmers in my area.

I note that there are no stores of a fibery nature on this list. That is probably because its been such a long time that I bought a crafty supply. Apparently my meager stash has been sufficient to feed my mojo-less knitting and spinning existence. Or, maybe my stash isn't so meager after all?

May 11, 2009

Fiber Festival Monday

I've been to alot of fiber festivals at this point in my life. Enough so that I've taken the same pictures of the same stuff over and over in the past. So let's see how well I did finding the unusual at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival.

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One unusual thing about this festival is that the vendors are scattered all over a densely wooded fairgrounds in little barns. This is very unlike Maryland or Rhinebeck where the presentation is much more straightforward. Martha and I wandered about in a happy fog much of the time, stumbling upon barns as we went along. I'm sure we missed some.

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Alpacas are universally cute.

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As are llamas. At least, I hope this is a llama and not another alpaca. I've been known to mess this up in the past.

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A self-portrait in an empty milk vending machine. A milk vending machine? Wow.

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Dog parking. Unique, perhaps, to sheep and wool festivals.

I did not take pictures of the real reason for my going to this festival: to see my friends. It had been so long, that I was beginning to think they all were my imaginary friends, when in fact that is not the case at all. Besides some lovely handmade soaps, nothing came back with me except the memories of a good time.

***

While I'm here, let me add another great prize to the MS Ride Prize Basket:

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Here is a beautiful Knit-Purl sock kit donated by Linda M. The sock yarn is from The Lavender Sheep in the color "Cascades", and the kit comes with a pattern by Sarah Worthington called "Cascade Locks". In addition to the yarn and pattern, there is a set of Knitpicks double pointed needles, a cable needle and a sweet socky greeting card.

Enter to win this prize and the other great prizes in the Prize Basket by donating $10 or more to my MS Ride!

May 06, 2009

Random Wednesday

I'll start off this random Wednesday with a thank you to the knitters who got our Knitters Against MS Fundraiser off to such a fast start. I'd also like to put some more great prizes in the Prize Basket:

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This is a skein of Sundara Silk Lace in the Cherry Blossom colorway, a gift from Elaine C.

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And a skein of Socks That Rock Medium Weight in the Muddy Autumn Rainbow colorway, also a gift from Elaine C. Each is a separate prize, which you can enter to win by making a donation of $10 or more to my MS Ride fundraiser.

To see the complete Prize Basket at any time, go to the Knitters Against MS homepage.

1. Guess who has taken up residence in my blue spruce bush:

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A robin family! Unlike a couple of summers ago, this nest is not super accessible to my camera lens without pawing through the branches and thus disturbing the mama robin. But I'll do my best to re-activate Robin Cam.

2. The weather has been rainy and cool, perfect for knitting on my Urban Aran. However, its hard for me to concentrate on knitting when there is basketball to watch.

3. I'm planning to head up to the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival this coming Saturday. Will I see you there?

April 29, 2009

Positive Outlook Wednesday

When last we left our heroine, she was a huddled mess on the couch. Clutching a damp Kleenex in one hand, while staring morosely at her injured right arm.

Luckily enough, today is a new day. Although I'm still worshiping at the temple of Actifed in order to breathe, otherwise I feel OK. My right arm problem turned out to be a pinched nerve (from overzealous yoga of all things!) that is rapidly improving.

With that out of the way, how about some random?

1. Although some people have cute lamb pictures on their blog today, my contribution to the knitblog menagerie is the much-less-cute neighborhood wild turkey.

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2. I've never before owned a pair of cropped capri length jeans before, but I just bought a pair online. Maybe a cute look for summer with some flats?

3. For the first time in many years, I will not be going to Maryland Sheep and Wool. Although I won't miss the plane ride and attendant travel hassles, I will miss experiencing the show and the people that I get to see only once a year. Its a fun time.

4. I usually buy my MS Ride prize at Maryland, so I'll have to rethink that one. By the way, if anyone has a prize to donate for this year's MS Ride fundraiser, please leave me a comment or email me.

5. I picked up the knitting again now that my arm feels better. There. Knit content.

April 27, 2009

Ugh

In addition to a messed-up right arm, I now also have a nasty head cold. Go me!

I do not take being sick well. I do not take being injured well. I ESPECIALLY do not take being sick AND injured well.

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On the bright side, I was well enough for most of the weekend to enjoy some tandem rides. So that's something. However, there has been little knitting as I try to rest my arm as much as possible.

Crawling back into my hole, hoping things will look brighter on Wednesday when you see me next.

April 20, 2009

Claudia's Favorite Holiday

According to Movable Type, this is my 1000th post to this blog. What better to talk about on the occasion of a nice, round big post-number than my favorite holiday -- Patriots' Day.

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In years past, there has been talk of tandem rides to see the Boston Marathon, pansy planting and a combination of bike riding and history.

We will see what fun is to be had today. Happy Patriots' Day you lucky Mass-holes and Mainers! Slog through your Monday with style anyway, I say to the vast hordes of unlucky ones.

April 15, 2009

Random Tax Day Wednesday

Today is the day that the Tax Man comes for the self-employed people here in the U.S. For us, there is never such a thing as a "refund" -- what does that word mean? Nay, nay. What happens today, well...its best to take one's mind off of it.

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I won a prize over at Elisa's blog which arrived just in time to divert my attention from the sad tax situation. Look at the glowing orange merino/tencel fiber from True Love Fiber in Pumpkin and the glorious Hand Jive sock yarn in Coral Bells. The timing of this could not have been better.

As a template for the remainder of Random Wednesday, I saw a couple of Ten on Tuesday posts on "10 Signs You are Getting Older" that prompted some thinking about Things I've Learned in 44 Years.** Uh-oh.

1. I am too old for bullshit. Like many woman, I feel I was coached by our societal norms to be "nice", as in "nice girls don't.....speak their minds, rock the boat, create waves. Screw that.

2. I realize that life is short and you are dead for a long-assed time. Seize the day! Want to do something fun and pleasurable that doesn't hurt anyone else - well do it. If you don't, you'll be another day/week/month/year older when you do. Or you'll die never knowing what that experience was like. Take your choice.

3. If I thought I was blind before, I am SO FAR BLINDER now that its amazingly pathetic. Where are my glasses, again?

4. Age is no fucking excuse for lazy bad habits. C'mon guys. Listen to Etherknitter Laurie -- modern medicine can't fix years of you treating your body like garbage. I hate to burst your bubble, but knitting is NOT exercise. Those extra ten or twenty pounds (or more), the achy knees and back, the crap diet -- addressing these issues is never gonna get easier then it is right this very instant. If you need some help on getting your physical body in order, I'd recommend checking out Precision Nutrition (its a pay site, but there is lots of free information if you register for their free lessons/newsletter) and Women's Weight Training, the best exercise information on the web for females.

5. The older I get, the more I realize what I don't know and can't control.

6. The older I get, the more I value my hard-earned knowledge and experience.

7. Most of the time I am too blind to see the wrinkles. For the rest of the time, I'm a damn fine Photoshopper.

8. Being youthful in spirit is far more important than being youthful in appearance. However, I'm vain enough to strive for being both.

9. Anything really worth having in life is going to be hard work. Nothing is for free -- there is always a price tag.

10. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Scaring myself regularly is the key to growth.

What have you learned that you can share with me?

**Probably prompted by the fact that today I will be attending the wake of a colleague who died in her sleep at the young age of 53. Please especially take notice of Number 4 on this list, my friends.

April 13, 2009

Spring Blogging

Yesterday I noticed buds.

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And, there hasn't been a snowstorm in awhile. And today the sun is out. Perhaps I'll finally allow myself the thought that winter is over, and spring is here.

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Things I Like About Spring

1. The robins are back. No nest within sight but lots of flapping around.

2. Daffodils. They make me unreasonably happy. So. yellow.

3. Riding the tandem bicycle while not-mummified in layers of clothing.

4. The promise of wearing just a short-sleeved shirt. (not that THIS has happened yet).

5. Buds on trees and shrubs. The promise of future beauty sometimes is better than the reality of it later on.

It still, however, is cold enough around here to make knitting on my Urban Aran seem like a fine idea. I'm slowly making my way up the back, but there are no exciting photos to share -- the back is just somewhat longer than last you saw it. Knitting mojo, thanks for coming back a little.

April 08, 2009

Random Wednesday

This is my brain on Random Wednesday.

1. I am not entirely sure why, but sometimes extremely kind and generous knitters see fit to send me delightful and unexpected presents. I don't usually show them on blog (despite the fact that I cherish and appreciate them all), but I think you'll understand why I had to take this picture.

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So. darn. orange. Extremely happy-making! The Peeps and Knotty Sheep sock yarn are courtesy of Stasia and the beaded orangey stitch markers were made for me by Gayle.

2. Today's tea of choice is Peet's Organic Gunpowder Green Tea. Although I was pretty skeptical that I could learn to tell the difference between different varieties of green tea, after drinking through a green tea sampler set I realized that the smokier, stronger taste of the gunpowder teas are my favorite. In the morning subtler teas are lost on me as I struggle to wake up, and I don't drink tea at any other time of day.

3. Encouraged by the commenters to my last post to abandon the Urban Aran sleeve cap math problem in favor of starting the back...well...twist my arm.

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I don't *think* the back will be too wide -- remember, I'm knitting this at a smaller gauge to shrink down the sizing -- but I won't really know until all the charts kick in to draw in the ribbing with the cabling. This is why swatching for aran sweaters is so hopeless. The interaction of all the elements of the design determines sizing, not just how loose or tight you might happen to knit a stockinette gauge swatch.

4. For about half a day, I thought I'd lost my Birch shawl/scarf. Talk about panic, grief and searing pain! I wear this all the time in the winter to brighten up dull, cold, gray days. Replacing this item would mean an expensive foray into the world of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, and countless hours of knitting. Luckily for me, it had simply fallen down behind a bureau and I found it just as I was giving up my last hope. Huge sigh of relief.

April 01, 2009

Random Wednesday

What I am thinking about this morning:

1. I am so excited that spring has sprung around here enough to start off the tandem bicycling season. As fun as the ski season was, I am very ready to move on. Another upside to this, is the return of Back-of-Bike-Cam.

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Old North Bridge in Early Spring, Concord, MA.

2. After months of knitting nothing but socks on tiny toothpick DPNs and lace with DK weight yarn, the aran weight yarn and US size 7 needles feel so freakin' wonderful in my hands. Or maybe I'm just a one-yarn sort of woman and have been pining for the truly unavailable Magpie Tweed and didn't even know it.

3. Why is it when I find a pair of pants to fit me, the store only has one color in my size? I mean, I would totally buy these pants in every color, just to save myself the hassle of shopping for pants. But no.

4. Terry gave me the best audiobook to listen to: Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters. I LOVED this book for the great female lead character, the rich sense of place and the superb job of voicing the characters done by the reader. I started listening to this book in the lodge of the cross country skiing center in snowy Jackson, NH and BOOM, was immediately transported to 1890's Egypt. Luckily for me, this is the first of the long Amelia Peabody series and I'm waiting on the second one (got to read them in order).

5. On a good day, I can do three chin-ups in a row. On a less-good day, I can manage two in a row. I'm pretty darn happy with that, but am still pushing for more.

March 23, 2009

Time to Rip

Over the years I've knit myself alot of sweaters. Every last of one of them made me excited enough about them to spend hours and hours knitting on them. And I'm sure that I've worn (at least once) everything I've ever made.

Recently I read over at the Keyboard Biologist that Theresa had decided that a 2003-2004 era "it-sweater" had sat around unworn long enough. So, she ripped it and reclaimed the yarn.

This started me to thinking. Which is always a dangerous thing.

This winter has been a cold one, and I wore a handknit sweater at least part of every day. Which of my many sweaters did I choose to wear over and over again in order of popularity?

1. Mariah

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This sweater is a great color for brightening up a dreary winter's day. It fits me well and is about the right weight for indoor wear when we keep the thermostat down. Plus, honestly, its freaking gorgeous. Thanks Jodi for dreaming it up!

2. Ariann by the beautiful and talented Bonne Marie I love this sweater because it is light enough to fit under all of my winter jackets (even the close-fitting ones). Its dressy enough to wear with nice pants for casual business meetings or with nice jeans for going out with friends.

3. Ribby Cardie by Bonne Marie. This sweater is warm, but lightweight due to the fluffyness of my handspun yarn (ha!). I love the color and the fit is great.

4. My green Rogue.

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Made of my favorite yarn ever, Rowan Magpie Aran Tweed (sadly discontinued long-ago) this is a stylish sweater that fits me pretty well. Its a bit big in the shoulders and body for me, but still flatters me. I wear it mostly as a jacket in the fall and spring.

The odd sweater out, the one that hasn't gotten worn in at least three (or more) years, is my Red Rogue, the first-ever cardiganized Rogue. The prototype for the cardiganizing instructions followed by many knitters over the last five years.

Why don't I wear this? Well, the sweater is just much too big for me. Despite the fact that I used the same yarn, needles and pattern for both my red and green Rogues, the green one turned out smaller which fits me better. The red one was always a bit big and then stretched out over time. Over the past six months I've also dropped a few pounds, making the fit situation even worse.

Seeing as how this red Rogue contains a ton of now-unattainable Magpie Aran Tweed, there is only one thing to do. Rip the whole sweater out and recycle the yarn into something that I WILL wear. So far, the zipper is off and I'm fighting with the magnificent job I did sewing down the yarn ends.

Soon my stash will be enhanced with a sweaters' worth of my favorite yarn ever, and I will be looking to fall into extreme lust with another knitting pattern.

March 18, 2009

Random Wednesday, Rainbow Edition

Spring is a long time coming in the Northeast United States. In Northern California where I grew up, March is full. on. spring, with gorgeous blooming trees like these in Cookie's post.

Here, though, a day here and a day there might be sunny and pleasant. Interspersed with snow, sleet and cold which can be sort of depressing if you aren't expecting it. Today is sunny and promises some warmth, which makes me feel like this:

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Happy Hawaiian Rainbow, Haiku, Maui. January 2008.

Spring things to which I am looking forward:

1. Riding the tandem bicycle. Last year's riding season was cut woefully short by an injury to the front of my ride. Everything now is healed up and we are ready for lots of back-of-bike cam. Its hard to get picture inventory for this blog when I'm sitting inside much of the time.

2. Trying again for a garden. Last year, Norma got a bunch of us going on small veggie gardens. Although I had marginal success with potted up tomatoes, this year I am trying again. This time with the bigger gun of a raised bed. OK, this probably is going into the front lawn (where we get sun) and our neighbors will think I'm nuts but....oh. They've already seen me prancing around taking odd pictures of myself, so I guess its too late to pretend I'm sane.

3. Finishing my Apres Surf Hoodie. I do really like this sweater and I'm hoping the promise of the correct season in which to wear it will motivate me.

Spring is in the air today, and I'm gonna enjoy it!

March 11, 2009

Random Wednesday

The days are long, but the weeks are short. Again its time for Random Wednesday.

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This picture just struck me as funny. (click for bigger)

1. Rain on top of snow is almost worse than just snow. We've got soggy, gray mush here this morning. Super.

2. On Monday, I did my very-first ever real chin-up. Yeah! I started working on this goal in the beginning of December, wanting to do as a forty-something what I was unable to do in junior-high school gym class. So far I can only do one (at a time) but I'm still happy with that. If you too might like to do this, I'd recommend this article and this pull-up bar.

3. Please go encourage Norma in her fight to the death with evil diet soda. I really want her (and all of the rest of you similarly situated) not to slowly kill yourselves with that shyte.

4. Favorite snack of the week: dark chocolate covered almonds from the Whole Foods. mmm. Chocolate.

5. The Easter eggy/Peeps/Crazy Ass socks in my last post are actually brighter in person. I do not lie.

March 06, 2009

What I've Learned This Winter

I'm thinking this morning about limits, in particular the ones we put on ourselves. Sometimes the limits we set for ourselves are good for us and keep us safe. Like avoiding foods that are bad for our health or relationships that are bound to bring more pain than joy.

But sometimes the limits can keep us from enjoying new positive experiences because we (1) think we can't or (2) think we don't want to.

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Cross Country ski-skating at sunset, Great Brook Farm March 2009.

This winter was a hard one for me, which is surprising because I LOVE all the seasons including the coldest one. Feeling unaccountably bad, the choices were to curse the evil ice and snow, the bitter chill, the grayness, and continue to feel bad. Or to take the musings of Juno to heart.

Learn something new. Expand my world, and the troubled part becomes a smaller part of the whole.

So, back to limits. Having tried cross-country ski skating many years ago and failing miserably at it, I'd resisted all attempts by the hubster over the years to try it again. I couldn't do it, thought I. Too hard. And why would I want to? So cold out there.

In a convergence of all the above thoughts and influences, I ignored the doubting mind and fired up some gear and headed out to ski. Was it hard? Yep. My arms and legs burned. My ass hit the ground a few times. I had to stop every few minutes at first to catch my breath. But as the weeks went by, I stopped less. Got faster. Kept warm in the cold. Enjoyed me lots of winter outdoors.

In the process I busted through the twin limits of I can't/I don't want to with respect to a new sport. Turning what could have been a discontented, miserable winter into one where I learned something new and had unexpected fun. If that is all I learned this winter (its not over, so who knows?) I'm happy with that.

I'm interested in your "I can't/I don't want to" limits. Can you identify them? Made progress with them? Inquiring mind wants to know.

February 25, 2009

The Flying Sheep Problem (or Random Wednesday)

Today's Random Wednesday could be scary.

1. As seen on a bulletin board in Paia, Maui.

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Whoever put together the words "Flying Sheep Problem" is a freaking genius. How can lovers of the sheep not smile at this one?

2. Its utterly surprising to me that today is once again Wednesday. How can the days be so long, but the weeks so short?

3. For the first time in a long time, I saw a sweater that actually made my heart beat a little faster. It was Stephanie's version of Amelia. I had a similar reaction to TMW Cassie's version. Perhaps the sweater knitting mojo is returning.

4. I am beginning to see the merits of stash. At present, I'm not buying any yarn and I doubt my stash includes any sweaters-worth of yarn (although it may, I haven't visited with it in awhile). There is, however, plenty of fiber with which to make yarn. The fact that I'm considering this possibility means perhaps the sweater spinning mojo is returning, helped along by seeing inspiring pictures of full bobbins.

5. After all, I've spun the yarn for and knitted plenty of sweaters but not recently.

6. I really appreciated the comments to my last post about what would be the very last discretionary expense we would all cut out if need be. Its so interesting how different people define "discretionary" and how and what gets prioritized. Thanks especially to the hair obsessed who kept me company in my vain little corner.

February 23, 2009

Going On, On a Monday

Weekends away are lovely while you are living them, but suck on a Monday morning when you feel rocketed into the work week without adequate preparation.

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A covered bridge just for cross-country skiers in beautiful Jackson, New Hampshire

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Skiing in a snowstorm across from Mt. Washington

This will be the last getaway for awhile as we adjust to the realities of the woeful economy by paring down and really prioritizing where money goes. I'm sure I'm not the only one thinking about this.

The other day I was musing on what discretionary expenditure would be the very last thing I'd cut out if necessary.** The actual answer really surprised me. Was it my high-speed internet connection? No, it was not. This shocked the husband. Was it anything yarn-related or related to any other of my hobbies? No it was not. This shocked me.

The very last thing to go (excluding food, shelter, light and heat -- the real necessities) would be the meticulous professional dye job on my hair. My hair?!?! I was incredulous at myself. Am I really that vain that I would rather jettison other very important things so that I wouldn't have to face the world with mousy brown/gray hair or a home-done dye effort?

Apparently, the answer is yes. Then, the next-most uncomfortable question is why? The true answer to this is that I'm very attached to what I fancy to be my own appearance of youth. I'm no Jaime Lee Curtis.

Ah, my superficiality revealed.

What is your answer to that question?

**Luckily for me, this was only a theoretical musing -- I know that for many folks its reality.

February 18, 2009

Random Wednesday

1. My sister is in Dublin and I am not. Granted, I am happy for her. Sad for me though. Is that wrong?

2. If you haven't yet heard about Jacqueline's awesome, prizen-laden fundraiser for the victims of the Victoria bushfires, head on over there and consider helping her out.

3. Anyone else need to see a nice Maui hibiscus flower today?

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I see a few raised hands.

4. This morning's enjoyable tea is Young Hyson. Which frankly I picked out of the cupboard just for the name. A good friend gave me a green tea sampler set a few months ago, but I really have a hard time telling these teas apart. My palate isn't highly evolved.

5. If you are looking for a good audiobook that exudes a very calming and healing vibe in these turbulent times, I highly recommend The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama and a Western psychiatrist. I bought the abridged audiobook from iTunes (I'd rather have the unabridged since I'm always left wondering what they left out, but oh well) and am listening to it for the second time to pick up ideas that I might have missed the first time through. This book is full of really universal wisdom, and useful even if you aren't into the Buddhist teachings.

6. I wish this post had knitting in it. But it doesn't. But I am. Knitting, that is.

February 16, 2009

A Walk in the Woods

I have never been much of an outdoorsy gal. When others wax poetic about the joys of camping, I think "bugs" and "no toilets or showers" and "I don't sleep on the ground".

But lately I've seen more attraction in spending time in the mountains, the forest, by the beach. The natural world is a great antidote for the built-up, busy, urban/suburban paved world that I usually see from my vantage point. Apparently there is some science to back me up here.

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A Valentine's Day snowshoe in beautiful New Hampshire.

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A husband in the wild.

And no, I didn't bring knitting.

February 04, 2009

Random Wednesday

Its that time again, where randomness rules.

1. My evil plan to ski away the winter blahs comes down to one word: endorphins. Ski fun, ski fast and I feel better.

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Evidence of such, with a frozen Lake Sunapee in the background.

2. Perhaps the Universe heard my plaintive wail on Monday that my knitting mojo had left the building, because I promptly went and won Carole's blog contest. With a gift certificate to kpixie in my hot little hands, I did myself a little yarn shopping, picking out two skeins of Claudia's Handpainted in Chocolate Cherry. Mmmmm. Chocolate Cherry. I've worked with the Claudia Handpainted (great name!) before and enjoyed it, so I'm looking forward to getting this in the mailbox.

3. I seem to be continuing a series of shadow self-portraits.

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Kind of different than the last one, aye?

4. So, what are YOU doing to keep your spirits up during the tough month of February?

January 28, 2009

Random Wednesday

As the snow falls outside and my green tea grows cold in my teacup, I feel the need for Random Wednesday. Here goes nothing.

1. Here is Kimba enjoying yesterday's sunshine. She looks like she's swimming, don't you think? You should be able to see another cat lurking in the shadows.

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2. Thus far, this has been a snowy cold winter. I can choose to ruminate on the sun-and-fun of Maui and be miserable. Or I can choose to make lemonade with these here lemons I've got.

3. Yesterday I started squeezing me some lemons by taking up my husband's suggestion to try cross country ski skating at a local XC ski area. This is his favorite winter activity, and I haven't joined him on it in over ten years. This is a racing technique and it takes lots of upper body strength for the pole-ing and cardio endurance to go fast. Last I tried it, I did not have the arm strength nor the endurance to have any fun with it at all. This time, due to the strength training I've been doing I found it alot easier and much more enjoyable.

4. Its also long past time to get out my downhill skis and head north to play on a mountain. The thing that attracts me about skiing is the speed. My absolute favorite ski run is hard, flat and steep, one that I know well so that I can anticipate the terrain (since, after all, I'm quite blind and can't really see it all that clearly whilst actually skiing). On a weekday when the run is empty, I'll point my skis downhill and make the absolute minimum of sweeping turns to stay in control. In my head, I'm a kick-ass World Cup racer competing in the downhill. Yeah, I know. It's weird inside my head.

5. Every day since I've been home from Maui I've bought cut-up pineapple at the supermarket. Mmmm. Pineapple. Its not as good as Maui pineapple, but it will do.

January 05, 2009

January Malaise

There is nothing like a gray spot of freezing rain to start off the first work week of the new year.

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I've been quite looking forward to getting my normal, non-holiday life back. But now that its here, its a bit painful to get started. Perhaps you know the feeling.

A nice cup of tea. Perhaps the choice of a less loathsome work project to ease my way in. The promise of treats in the coming weeks.

The normal life train is leaving the station.

December 31, 2008

Random Year-End Wednesday

Here we are at the last blog post of 2008.

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Were I the resolution-making sort (which I'm decidedly not) that might have been my subject for today. Or, maybe it will be anyway. Although I understand how the making of lists of resolutions for the brand new year might be helpful to some people, its not for me. To be frank, I think that the making of list of resolutions is more hurtful to most people than helpful. Do people make New Year's resolutions because everybody is doing it or because its truly helpful to them personally? Then once made, the failure of a half-hearted peer-pressured resolution is a blow to the self-esteem. I wonder...

If I want to do something bad enough and the doing-or-not-doing is within my control, I'll set my mind to doing it and then go and do it. End of story - New Years resolution not required. Although some of you disagree, I subscribe to the following Yoda theory:

If I've set myself a goal, the achievement of which is in my control, then I don't achieve it, its a Do Not. Obviously I didn't want it bad enough to set aside the time, didn't really believe in my ability to do it or didn't appropriately focus my energy on it. Try? I'm unimpressed with try. That may sound harsh, but welcome to the inside of my head.

On the flip side, I fight against setting goals the reaching of which is outside my control. Example: how much or what I eat or drink, the amount and type of exercise I get, the books I read, the projects I knit, the skillfulness with which I communicate with other people -- all within my control. Whether I win or lose a case -- not up to me. Trying hard with all the skill and effort I have counts there, no matter the outcome.

2008. An odd year. Professionally successful. Personally challenging. Knitting took a back seat, although I made some cute things. I became a gym rat and ended the year *this close* to doing a real chin-up for the first time ever. I could have predicted none of this at this time last year. What will the new year bring? So wonder we all.

Happy New Year wishes from me to you for a great 2009! Thanks for reading.

December 17, 2008

Random Wednesday

1. This morning we woke up to our first plowable snow of the season.

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I don't really mind snow, mostly like it actually, but it did not put me in a festive, holiday frame of mind.

2. I am completely sympathetic to what Cari wrote here. If one inch of snow (today's picture is maybe two inches, max) were to completely stop in its tracks life as we know it, even the most logical, practical explanation for why this was so wouldn't keep me from being made TOTALLY CRAZY by it.

3. I was waiting at the deli counter yesterday when I noticed an older gentlemen, sufficiently portly, wearing a white dress shirt, a fancy medallion around his neck and sandals with bare feet (on a below-freezing day). As he was being served, he spontaneously and unselfconsciously burst into song, singing along with the Christmas carol playing on the store's sound system. The deli server assiduously ignored him. For some reason, this scene briefly put me into a festive, holiday frame of mind.

4. If you are interested in making this holiday season about giving rather than receiving, but times are hard and you only have 5 dollars/Euros/currency of choice or less to spare, I have an idea for you. Sometimes I'm discouraged from or embarrassed about donating just a little bit, and think those few dollars couldn't possibly make a practical difference. But my friend Joy is turning those few bucks into lots of relief from suffering for members of her community of Tibetan refugees in Himalayan India. Scroll down to her December 1st entry for stories about what a difference a few bucks can make, then consider hitting Joy's Paypal button for the Tso Pema Medical Emergency Fund.

5. One of the first things that I do every morning is feed the hungry, marauding feline varmits.

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Igor varmit at rest.

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Kimba varmit on the move.

Because Igor is delicate, he gets special food and is sadly denied the deliciousness that is Kimba's food. This morning in my pre-caffeinated state, I dropped Kimba's food bowl. Sending pellets of dry food bouncing everywhere. Like a shot, Igor pounced quickly on every morsel, trying to beat me to each one as I was cleaning up. The highlight (thus far) of my morning was watching Igor contort his little head underneath the cabinets trying desperately to snatch the little nuggets that had rolled there. I am so easily amused.

December 03, 2008

Random Wednesday

1. Best.

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Birthday.

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Ever.

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Thanks for sharing in it with your good wishes!

2. In my gym, there is a room with all the free weights. Most of the time, there are only men in there. Sometimes during the babysitting hours in the mornings, there are chicks in there.

But, I've never seen a women in the squat cage (scroll down).

Naturally, this means that I would want to.

Yesterday. Three sets of 15, using the 45 pound barbell.

I feel so studly. For better reasons to learn how to do this, read here and here.

3. With respect to the Gretel hat in the last post, I have to correct something. Indeed I made one mod to the pattern. The designer has you do a tubular cast on to make a "stretchy" bottom ribbing. I did not do this and instead used a plain old long-tail cast on. Personally, I find tubular cast on in a 2x2 rib of only mariginal aesthetic value. Tubular cast on looks best to me in a 1x1 ribbing. In addition, if anything this ribbing is TOO STRETCHY for most heads. If you've been wanting to try knitting a Gretel hat and have stalled at the tubular cast on, I say ditch it and use your normal cast on.

4. This post contains oysters, cosmos, basketball players, barbells and knitting. I'd say that is random enough.

November 26, 2008

Random Thanksgiving Wednesday

1. Thanksgiving is one of Igor's favorite days.

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2. I think its a pretty good holiday, as holidays go. Mashed potatoes and stuffing with gravy over both things is enormously tasty. Added bonus: these foods are easy to make, even for me.

3. The Gretel hat is progressing. I'm finally to the point where I'm decreasing for the crown. The faster I knit, the less stitches are left -- so motivating.

4. The jury is still out on slouchy.

5. I ordered a new camera lens off of eBay (happy early birthday to me) and I'm obsessively tracking its progress on the UPS website. It feels sort of wrong to care that much. But, oh yes oh yes I do.

6. Although, what I really need to buy is a new pair of sneakers. I'm thinking that after a year of use, the support in my beloved orange Adidas sneaks might be going/gone. Yeah, orange shoes. Surprised?

7. What I'm thankful for this Thanksgiving is that my family and friends are healthy. When I was a kid, I never really understood what was meant by "if you've got your health, you've got everything." I sure understand this now.

Have a happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate and a great Thursday if you don't!

November 19, 2008

Random Wednesday

What's floating around my brain this morning.

1. Sometimes I go into a ladies room in a restaurant and its just a ladies room. Nothing out of the ordinary.

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And sometimes I just have to whip out the camera (I always carry a small camera in my purse....you never know) to document the strangeness.

2. I am a tea drinker. Although I love the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the taste of it does nothing for me and I just don't feel good after drinking it. For years and years I've made myself a cup of tea first thing in the morning to get the day sort-of started. A morning person I ain't. The cuppa has ALWAYS been black tea.

For some odd reason, after getting over my last cold the black tea just didn't taste right to me. I had a container full of oolong tea, so I've been drinking that. Today I ran out and opened up a container of gunpowder green tea which I'm having now. Pretty good. Maybe by the time I drink through this container, my taste for black tea will have returned. If not, I understand that green tea is really good for me.

3. As I've talked about before, for the past five or so months I've been hitting the gym a couple of times a week for some weight training with a mix of free weights and machines. The two or so hours per week that I've put aside for this have resulted in: 1) really good looking arms -- sleeveless tops, I am ready for you; and 2) a much increased ability to woman-handle heavy grocery bags and lifting chores around the home and office -- big-ass case of copy paper, I now OWN YOU.

I have gotten lots of great information about weight training from this site, one of the only sites I've found to address weight training for women in an informative, entertaining and non-commercial way.

Sadly, my knitting friends, our delightful hobby is NOT exercise and won't prevent you from losing 1/3 of pound of muscle mass every year after age 35. You don't need a gym or fancy equipment -- just a bit of time and focus. Consider it!

November 12, 2008

Random Wednesday

Are you ready for some random?

1. As fall rolls inexorably into winter, out comes the tandem mountain bike from its garage storage spot. Its warmer to ride in the woods, and safer after dark to be off the roads even with the big-ass light we've got.

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Back of bike cam on the Battle Road. The marker says "Near here are buried British soldiers, April 19, 1775".

2. I'm starting to be very sad that I didn't buy some cormo yarn from Alice Field at Foxhill Farm when I had the chance to at Rhinebeck. I'd like to copycat Dr. Steph and make a Gretel. Of course, were I to look even halfheartedly in my stash of single skeins of handspun, I'm sure that I would find something suitable.

3. Things that are delicious: Ritter Sport Butter Biscuit. Chocolate and butter biscuit: how can you go wrong?

4. Things are are not so delicious: most baked goods around these parts. Maybe I've just gotten picky, but I am hugely disappointed in the desserts and baked goods (scones, cookies, cakes) that I've been buying lately. They look delicious, but are only "good" to "marginal" when I bite in. The only things I'm liking are from my Swiss Bakers, who use only butter, flour, real sugar and other top quality ingredients to bake delectable creations tasting just like they do in Switzerland.

Its pretty easy to resist dessert under these circumstances.

5. I can finally do a real, boy-style pushup. Three of them, even. Only I can't get all the way down to the floor and still push myself up. Working on it. What's the knitter push-up record out there for me to shoot at?

November 05, 2008

Some Wednesdays

Some Wednesdays dawn bright and clear with the hope of better days ahead.

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November 03, 2008

Some Mondays

Some Mondays start out like this, all at once:

1. Hmmm, that's a funny meow.... non-caffeinated slowness....she usually only does that when she's about to...

blechhhhh.....

Hurl.

Hurl on the carpet.

2. Hear trash truck sounds. Ooops.....trash must out, NOW.

3. Whistle, whistle. Tea-kettle.

Some Mondays.

Some Monday blog posts are empty of knitting content, because the weekend was empty of knitting content. On days like these, I take out my small camera. The one that rides along with me in my big purse. Just to see what might be on it.

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Seen by the side of the road, a burned bell. I didn't even know a bell could burn, did you? In the background are November leaves. November leaves aren't like October leaves. November leaves have the smell of winter, the look of being over-and-done.

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Goodbye October leaves.

October 15, 2008

Random Wednesday

As all thoughts turn to Rhinebeck, that is mostly the subject of today's randomness.

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This is a recycled picture from last Rhinebeck, but there can never be too much leaf pron.

1. My Rhinebeck shopping list includes soap from Got Soap, in particular I've been liking the spicy scents such as Spiced Milk and Honey and Sweet Earth.

2. I might need a touch more sock yarn, preferably that isn't orange. Now, it might come as a shock to some of you, but there is such a thing as too many orange socks in one wardrobe. I think I'm there.

3. No more fiber enters the Fiber Room until what's in there gets spun. This may mean that I will purchase no more fiber in my lifetime, and I'm perfectly OK with that.

4. I don't happen to need slippers this year, but I always look forward to saying hi to Rick at Shepherd's Flock who is a cool guy and always donates a pair of delectable sheepskin slippers to the MS Ride prize pool.

5. Yesterday at the farmer's market I bought lamb chops for tonights dinner. Despite the fact that I have no idea how to cook lamb chops. Luckily, Silvia should be here before dinner to guide me.

6. Heads up, peeps. Jackie has moved her blog to a new address. Update your bookmarks because you just don't want to miss her.

7. If anyone out there uses an online backup service, tell me which one and how you like it, K?

8. Back to the driver of the slaves, as no work = no pay 'round here.

October 13, 2008

Sort of a Holiday

Today in the U.S. its sort of a holiday. I say "sort of" because its one of those holidays where some people have to work and some don't. Does the mail come today? Are the courts open? Who knows.

However, here in New England Columbus Day weekend is the number one leaf peeping weekend of the season. What is "leaf peeping" you may ask? Well, here is a shot of my backyard.

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(click for bigger) True leaf peepers get into a car or bus and travel to a lovely forest or mountaintop to get the full effect. You, my friends, get my backyard. Which, if you are an exiled New Englander or are looking at a sea of green but boring leaves, is better than nothing, aye?

The small yarn/small needle situation of my Apres Surf Hoodie, combined with my five-row-a-night knitting habit, is making this sweater a slow go. Enjoyable, but slow. Good thing I'm well stocked in the sweater department, because there is no way this is going to be a Rhinebeck sweater, unlike some people.

September 24, 2008

Sock Meme (This Never Happens)

MEME (this never happens here -- except today -- stolen from Terry)

When did you first learn to knit socks? I knit my very first pair of socks probably in 1995. I remember being inspired by a copy of Nancy Bush's Folk Socks to finally try socks. Basically, I learned to knit socks by using the instructions in that book. Its a great book, and I'd still recommend it. But by far my favorite "sock recipe" book is Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' Simple Socks.

What's the first sock you ever knit? It was the "Classic Sock" pattern from the Nancy Bush book, which was a simple ribbed leg with a heel flap and a wedge toe, requiring grafting of the stitches at the tip-toes. I used Brown Sheep Wildefoote sock yarn, which I hated because it was so splitty. I made a second pair of these using another color of Wildefoote (I must have gone wild with buying the Wildefoote at some point -- I still have some in my stash) and then branched out to what remains to date the fiddliest pair of socks I ever knit.

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(click for bigger). These are the St. Peter Port Stripes socks from the Folk Socks book. No, this was NOT self-striping yarn. I carried three skeins of the splitty Wildefoote (black, white and marled grey) around to knit all those stripes without the modern convenience of having the stripes dyed right into the yarn. Although I'm proud of these socks, I don't often wear them. The fancy braid at the top isn't stretchy enough for my big calves and the flap heel just doesn't fit my foot as nicely as the short-row heel which came later.

After these three pairs of heel-flap socks, I was done with sock knitting for several years. I had (and still have) a burning hatred for heel flaps. Knitting the flap (yuck) and especially the tediousness of picking up the stitches around the heel flap. Honestly, I'd rather stick a white-hot poker in my eye than ever knit another heel flap.

Two events brought me back to sock knitting. In the Fall 2000 issue of Interweave Knits, Priscilla Gibson-Roberts wrote an article about her short-row heel and toe method (an expanded version of which is the "Simple Socks" book). Then, over the Christmas holiday of that year my sister Silvia showed me a picot edge.

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I haven't stopped knitting socks since.

Favorite Sock Pattern? There is no contest. Its my picot-edge, stockinette leg, short-row-heel-and-toe sock using the "Simple Socks" formulas. I also really, really like the Monkeys.

Favorite needle method? Well, my friend Terry said it best, so I'll just quote her: "DPNs baby! And don't try and change my mind, I won't try and change yours."

Favorite sock needles? My delicious and delightful Darn Pretty Needles in the 5 inch multicolored DPNs, US size one (for most all sock yarn) and two (for Koigu). I love my needles unreasonably for their prettiness, pointyness and smooth finish.

Who do you knit socks for? Me, the hubster and for friends in sock exchanges.

How many pairs have you knitted to date? For me: 36 pairs. For hubster: 12 pairs. For others, 2 pairs. Total = 50 pairs. When told of these statistics, hubster registered a complaint to the International Governing Body of Sock Parity.

What is on your sock knitting to-do list?
Finish the Twisted Flower socks which have been languishing on the needles for more than one year.

What kind of socks to you like to knit-

Striped? If the yarn stripes for me a la the awesome Vesper Sock Yarn, absolutely. Otherwise, not on your life.
Colorwork? Absolutely, if its dyed into the yarn. Otherwise, no. I do find that lately I'm not as drawn to the faux fair isle striping of the Opal type yarns.
Plain Stockinette? My true love.
Cabled? Sure. Occasionally. For example, I really liked the Conwy socks, but that was more of a twisted stitch than a cable.
Lace? I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into lace socks because I thought "why in the heck make holey socks on purpose?" Margene completely changed my mind on the lace question by gifting me the yarn and pattern for these socks. I am now convinced that lacy socks are warm socks.
Anklets? I don't see the point, since I depend on handknit socks to keep me (a very cold person) warm during our long winters.
Knee Socks? Never say never. But this is a HUGE commitment for one pair of socks. And I'd be concerned about knee socks slip-sliding down my leg during wearing.
Solid colors? Great for patterned socks. There is definitely a place for solid color sock yarn in the current hand-dyed multi-color obsessed world.
Bright and crazy? Usually! Its a long, gray, cold winter here in New England. Sometimes the brightness of crazy socks is all the color there is. Why deny oneself?
Faux Fair Isle (the yarn doing all of the work)? As I mentioned above, I'm less enamored of this sort of sock yarn than I used to be when it first hit the scene. I think its because even the very best of these yarns give an imperfect "faux" fair isle result. Also, I appreciate subtlety in my multi-colored sock yarn. And the faux fair isle is rarely so.

And there you go. You can't say I never do memes.

August 13, 2008

Random Wednesday

My abject thanks for Random Wednesday. Here is my morning.

1. Feed cats.

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Is there anything more predictable then the morning wail of meows (Kimba) or the persistent following-around and looking like a poster cat for Kitty-Darfur (Igor)? I think not.

2. Check on Tomatoes.

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Its hard for me to decide to be happy or sad about the tomatoes. On the one hand, some sort of fungus (due in large part to the monsoon-like summer) has well and truly gotten them. Scraggly, black leaves, stunted and sad looking. No need to buy longer stakes for these poor mites.

On the other hand, the Little Engines That Could of the tomato world seem intent on producing some fruit. How can I not love Triumph over Adversity?

3. Show Evidence of Knitting.

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I'm sure I've said before that one of my personal knitting rules is always to begin the second sock immediately upon finishing the first one. No dawdling. No wimping out. No Second Sock Syndrome. Break this rule at your peril.

E.T.A.: The needles in the picture are Darn Pretty Needles from Grafton Fibers, US size 1 DPNs and they are GREAT! Pretty, strong and very pointy.

August 09, 2008

The Interview

Me: What is your favorite thing about my knitting?
Hubby: *My* favorite thing? My sock collection.

Me: What is your least favorite thing about my knitting?
Hubby: When I try to talk to you but you don't answer because you are counting.
Me: Yeah. That sucks for both of us since I usually lose count when that happens.

Me: What is something I have knitted that you recall as being good?
Hubby: My toe sock for when I had my cast. It kept my toes warm!

Me: Do you think knitters have an expensive hobby?
Hubby: No.

Me: Do you have any hobbies?
Hubby: Yes.

Me: What are your hobbies?
Hubby: Recreational sports.

Me: If we compared money spent on hobbies, who would win?
Hubby: It would be pretty close.

Me: Has my knitting in public ever embarrassed you?
Hubby: No.

Me: Do you know my favorite kind of yarn?
Hubby: I have no idea.
Me: I'm not sure I know either.

Me: Can you name another blog?
Hubby: Yarn Harlot. That's a catchy name.

Me: Do you mind that I want to check out yarn stores everywhere we go?
Hubby: No.

Me: Do you understand the importance of a swatch?
Hubby: Yes.
Me: What is it?
Hubby: You knit a swatch to make sure that you are picking out the right yarn and needles to get the right size sweater.
Me: [Clapping] Very good!

Me: Do you read Claudia's Blog?
Hubby: Occasionally.

Me: Have you ever left a comment?
Hubby: Once.

Me: Do you think the house would be cleaner if I didn't knit?
Hubby: Sure it would. There wouldn't be bits of yarn and fluff from spinning all over the place.
Me: Um, I think the question implies that time spent knitting is time NOT spent cleaning the house.
Hubby: Oh, OK. No, the two things have nothing to do with one another.

Me: Is there anything you would like to add in closing?
Hubby: I like knitters. Its relaxing to be around people who are knitting.

August 06, 2008

Random Picture Wednesday

My day in pictures (with commentary).

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Seen on the streets of Cambridge on my way home from a meeting. Cool, rainy August day. Hmmm, orange pants! I'll bet its almost time for my own orange pants to come back from out-of-season-clothes timeout. Afterthought: I'm not the only person in the world with orange pants. Nice.

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Do I really want my ripe tomato getting wet today?

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Nope! Time to pick it.

August 02, 2008

Tomato Update

For those that care, there is a garden update here.

July 30, 2008

Random Comedic Wednesday

This is a knitting blog, isn't it? Well, in the true spirit of random Wednesday-ness, come with me to Shakespeare on the Common.

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Our merry band did not arrive at the verdant park until shortly before the show, and we were well and truly beaten out for the choice blanket spots close to the stage. So we were all about the listening to "As You Like It" as opposed to the seeing. The tiny actors are in the bottom right hand corner of the stage.

This was the very first Shakespeare play I have ever seen/listened to. I know -- shockingly uncultured of me. I really enjoyed it, in part because of the amazing circumstance of this same play being equally able to entertain me in 2008 and people 400 years ago. I think long ago and far away, I tried to read this play and got not-far. Having talented actors bringing the lines alive makes it easy to get past the archaic language and really understand the story.

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Norma and Sandy knit. Knitting and Shakespeare -- connected.

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Terry rips out in the pitch black dark. Alternatively, I amuse myself by attempting to take pictures in the pitch black dark. (ISO 3200, f1.8).

Leaving the show, I wondered as I always do, why I don't make the effort to take advantage of all this city has to offer more frequently. Its so worth it to just do something different.

July 16, 2008

How Gardening is Like Knitting

I tend to learn new things by relating something I don't know about to something I do know about. Take growing food, for example, as the something I don't know jack squat about. The knitting, yup -- know something.

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Sometimes in knitting, there is ripping. Sometimes in growing tomatoes, there is inexplicably a wilted, brown tomato that must be pulled out and dumped. There were four tomatoes. And then there were three. RIP, Early Girl.

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Sometimes in knitting there is wild, unexpected success from the project for which you had the faintest hopes. Sometimes in growing food, every single beet seed will germinate and grow like the dickens to provide the grower with an unexpected and delicious beet green salad from the thinnings.

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Sometimes in knitting, things go as planned: the yarn choice, the needle choice, the pattern choice combine to produce the intended result. Sometimes tomatoes actually appear on tomato plants.

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And sometimes a knitter expects the yarn/needle/pattern to work out, and there is no discernable reason why it doesn't. Sometimes a Big Boy tomato plant will have yellow lower leaves and a less than robust appearance when treated exactly the same as its healthier tomato friends.

Knitting and gardening. The same, only different.

July 14, 2008

No Knitting Monday

Usually I like to have a bit of knitting here on Mondays. But since I knit not a stitch over this weekend this itch will have to go unscratched.

However, having done the unusual (for me) and actually assembled a dinner party yesterday, I can recommend the following recipes as delicious and so easy even *I* can make them:

Pomegranate Cosmos

Pomegranate is supposed to be good for you, right?

Cellophane Noodle Salad

A light and refreshing dish for a hot summer day.

BAT/KAT Update

The Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project* is still going strong:

My bicycle trips instead of car trips last week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 17
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 38
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants to date: 708

I am usually trying to fit a BAT trip into my work day, which is flexible on the exact hours that I work but inflexible to the extreme in the deadlines I must meet. Here is the typical conversation that occurs in my head (yes, with myself) about, say, a trip to the post office:

C: You have to go mail this at the post office.

C2: You should take your bicycle.

C: But that will take longer, and I have XYZ still to do today!

C2: Dude, it will take like only ten minutes each way longer and you'll actually have fun today if you do it.

C: But its way hot out.

C2: Wimp ass.

C2: And FURTHERMORE, if you don't take your bicycle you will have ZERO BAT/KAT trips to show on Monday. Now won't that be special?

Whereupon, I get on my bicycle and do the errand car-free. Such is the motivation of peer-pressure. What say you, BAT/KATers? How do you talk yourselves out of the car/bus/subway and onto a bicycle/scooter/your own two feet?

*The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip/public transportation trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays.

May 27, 2008

A Very Late Monday Post

Considering its Tuesday afternoon, this is certainly quite a late Monday post. But its so odd posting on Tuesday for me, that I'm sticking with my position that this is Monday -- in a day-late sort of way.

Here in the United States, we are just coming off of a holiday weekend. I mean "we" in the the sense of U.S. persons generally. This writer, in particular, worked all weekend on a project that I happily turned into my court this morning. This afternoon is my first taste of freedom in a long, long time. And I spend it here with you.

Awwww.

Time for the BAT/KAT Update**

My bicycle trips instead of car trips this past week: 1
Total BAT/KAT project bicycle trips by me: 8
BAT/KAT project trips by all participants last week: 62
Total BAT/KAT project trips by all participants: 207

I was convinced that I was going to have to report a big old goose-egg ZERO for my BAT trips this past week. Work seriously kicked my ass and the extra hour, max, that a BAT trip would have taken out of one of my days was undoable. As an aside: how sad is that? Very few of my weeks are like this, though, so I'll stop bitching.

So, where did I go on my one bicycling-on-an-errand trip? Why, the liquor store of course! There was a red wine drought at the homestead at the end of a long day of writing, and luckily there is "packy"*** right off the bike path. I learned from this outing that a wine bottle fits perfectly nicely in a milk crate, and if wrapped in a sweatshirt will stay intact even on rooty, bumpy paths. Feel free to test this knowledge on your own.

After giving a presentation last week, I ducked into Windsor Button and had a lovely visit with Sockpixie Caroline who works there. I was looking for yarn ideas for Apres Surf Hoodie, and she suggested I consider swatching Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino.

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Sure enough, using US size 3 needles for the knit rows and US size 2 needles for the purl rows (because I purl more loosely than I knit) I got exactly the specified pattern gauge: 26 sts and 36 rows to 4 inches. This never happens to me: stitch gauge AND row gauge spot on at the same time.

Although this yarn is indeed soft and yummy, I have two concerns. First, I see this sweater as a cool-summer-night sort of garment. This yarn is very...winter-night-cuddly. Might I be happier with a silk/wool blend that is slippery and cooler to the touch? The second concern is pilling. I've knit before with Cashmerino Aran and I found the finished garment to be quite delicate. Wear that sweater everyday and it will be a pill festival in nothing flat.

Any suggestions of a silk/wool blend that knits up at about 6.5 sts/per inch? I'm yarn shopping, so watch out!


**Bicycling as Transportation/Knitters Alternatively Transporting Project. The goal of which is to substitute at least one bicycling/walking/alternatively transporting trip for one car trip every week. Join us any week you like by making a BAT/KAT Trip and tell us about it here in the comments on Mondays. Or on Fake Mondays like today.

***"Packy" is short for "package store" which is what folks call liquor stores here in Massachusetts. I think this is very cute, being that I'm a transplant from California where these establishments are called "liquor stores".

April 21, 2008

My Favorite Holiday

Today is Patriots' Day here in Massachusetts, also known as Claudia's Favorite Holiday. The fact that my favorite holiday is an obscure one in the global sense makes me happier than it really ought.

I don't love it because I'm especially patriotic: I am deeply suspicious of extreme patriotism/nationalism/any sort of "ism". However, I find the New England history of this holiday way interesting (yes, I was a history major in college. your point?).

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We pass a number of these markers on our rides through the Minuteman National Historic Park. I love that I can get some history with my bike rides. I love that someone remembers the soldiers who lost their lives on the other side of our revered American Revolution.

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Old North Bridge at sunset. This place will be overrun with people today, but I prefer it this way.

Today there is the Boston Marathon, parades and pansy planting. Although after reading this excellent article (found on Cari's blog) maybe I should plant lettuce instead.

Happy Patriots' Day, or Happy Monday!

March 24, 2008

An Easter Turkey and Wild Knits

I know that I'm getting my holidays quite mixed up. But yesterday on our ride I saw zero holiday-appropriate bunny rabbits. But I see did a big-ass wild turkey.

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My new camera has a long zoom, for which I was grateful on this occasion. This turkey wasn't super happy about having his/her portrait done.

There is no real knitting progress to show from the weekend, so I'll show you a Knit in the Wild.

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Here is Thermal which I wore at a family gathering this weekend. (Don't be fooled by the pot on the stove in the background -- Silvia was doing the cooking for which the guests were thankful). There is also a bonus cat, unhappy that he was at having his movements temporarily restricted by a mere human.

So far I've worn this sweater about five times since finishing it. Its been very cold here this winter, and I find that the low neckline dissuades me from choosing this sweater to wear when its especially nippy. I would imagine, however, that it would be the perfect sweater for springtime, should spring ever come. I chose to make the body a bit shorter than specified in the pattern (I was trying to match the length of a favorite sweater) and now I'm kind of sorry. I wish it were a bit longer and find myself tugging it down.

I also wish that I had modified the pattern to put in waist shaping. That styling works so much better with my body shape. Lastly, the ribbing makes the sweater "pooch" a little bit at the waist/hips due to the drawing in -- which is totally the reason why I don't usually put ribbing on the bottom of sweaters. All in all, these are minor nitpicks with the pattern and I still enjoy wearing the sweater.

I really love the light weight of the Knitpicks Gloss and should really consider making another sweater in this yarn or another DK weight. This sweater fits nicely under my winter coats without making me look or feel like a big ole stuffed sausage. There is some pilling along the sides of the sweater and the backs of the sleeves, in other words: at the natural points of fricton. Thus, I don't think the Gloss makes a hard-wearing sort of sweater, but anybody knitting with silk shouldn't expect that. The pilling is within my expectations and thus I'm still happy with the yarn. Especially considering that it is amazingly cheap!

Knits in the wild. Bloggers who are searching for blog fodder: tag, you are it.

March 19, 2008

Random Wednesday

Today, all the blog gets is the left-over flotsam floating around my little brain. Good luck to all of us.

1. I've taken an Igor picture. Mind you, just to test the new camera's cat-picture-taking abilities.

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2. If anyone knows whether the security dudes at Boston Garden will give me grief about a tiny bit of sock knitting (or my p&s; camera), shout out. Why? Because SOMEONE HAS CELTICS TICKETS! The sock knitting is just for the boring bits such as when the Celtics dancers are shaking their assets, and is put away during actual hoop.

3. The snow just turned to rain. Lovely.

4. Despite our Northeast weather challenges we have already gotten our tandem on the road this season. But, I am DYING to ride my snazzy, stylin' bicycle and it is just too cold/wet/icy/road-gritty yet for the sort of errand-running I have in mind.

5. Along with everyone else, I am hearing the news about gas prices and the future of oil (and of course, the carbon emissions situation) and it makes me want to take some concrete action steps. I'd like to substitute as many car errand trips for bicycle errand trips as possible, and am figuring out a way to track gallons of gas saved on the blog. Bicycle riding for fitness contributes to my personal well-being, and that of course is important to me. But bicycle riding as a direct substitute for using the car just seems like the socially responsible thing to do.

6. For those in the U.S., are the higher gas prices changing your choices when it comes to transportation? I live in the greater Boston area where distances are smaller and public transportation is relatively plentiful, giving me the choice to drive less. In the more rural areas, where there are large distances and no public transportation, are there even choices OTHER than car travel?

7. What will it take for me to sit down at my spinning wheel? That hasn't happened in far too long.

February 18, 2008

This Post Brought To You By.....

...the Flu Virus.

Yo. I be the Flu Virus. Blog-jacking this here blog to let youse all know that this post is all youse get.

Thanks to my good work, Claudia is moaning on the couch begging the good lord to take her now (odd, as she's a big ole heathen).

/insert evil cackling noise/

There was sticks and string on that couch yesterday, but today....nada, bay-bee. WOO HOO!

I love my job.

Yo.

January 31, 2008

Random Wednesday (on Thursday)

There is something so right about having Random Wednesday on Thursday.

1. Turns out, I did have a twenty-four hour version of the flu and spent a whole workday on the couch. However, the benchmark of sickness for me is whether I am or I am not too sick to knit. Luckily, I was not too sick to knit.

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I managed to produce a blanket square for the blanket for Elisa's dad out of some left-over Lamb's Pride superwash wool from a long-ago project that I can't even recall. Granted, this blanket is for a grown man, but who wouldn't appreciate some red hearts?

2. Actually, I had planned to open up my Barbara Walker and pick a new stitch pattern to try out, but my just-sick-enough brain could not handle that. Instead I defaulted to the interlocking hearts from my one and only knitting pattern which has made the rounds of the internet for about twelve years. Way back in 1995, the Knitlist was the only Internet-based communication amongst our people. For a few years members would "give" a pattern to the list as a holiday gift and that pattern was my contribution.** Its actually quite a nice pattern....easily memorized, fully reversible and no lacy holes to trap little baby fingers.

3. This morning, Kimba gave me the "bitch, get me my breakfast" look and I thought I'd share it with you.

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4. If anyone owns or knows anything about cheap but decent film scanners, let me know. I've started playing with my new/old film camera and I may not be able to stop. Score one for low-tech, analog, mechanical devices! Yet, the only images I really need are digital ones. A conundrum.

I am, of course, aware that the local drugstore will process color film and then scan (in a low res way) to CD. But I really want to shoot black and white film, and no-one deals with that. Its actually not that difficult (warning PDF link) to process black and white film at home, but commercial scanning of black and white negatives is expensive and would definitely put me off it.

**This was way before I fully understood the ramifications of putting one's full name out there on the 'net. Its really fun for me when clients google me and find my "Baby Heart Blankie". Not.

December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve

In furtherance of my resolution to temper my natural Grinch-iness with a recitation of things I actually LIKE about this holiday, I give you a picture of one of them.

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Snow for the holiday (picture taken while snowshoeing in the woods).

Other things:

1. Presents from my sister. She has excellent taste and always gets me something kick-ass.

2. Glogg. My father-in-law (an old Swede) makes killer glogg. We'll be having some later today.

3. The smell of a fresh Christmas tree (as long as its in someone else's house dropping its needles for THEIR cats to eat and puke up).

4. Chocolate Christmas tree ornaments from Switzerland. These are OK in my house. I realize the inconsistency with number 3. Its hard to be me.

If you are celebrating a holiday today and tomorrow, have a wonderful time. If today and tomorrow are regular days, I hope they are good ones!

December 19, 2007

Random Wednesday

Random Wednesday is itself presented randomly on this blog, something of which I am proud. I think we'll have it today.

1. When there is no knitting of which to snap a picture, this is the reason to have cats.

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So sweet one moment.

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So evil and tigery the next.

2. Yesterday I was forced out into the cold in my grown-up clothes and warmest bright red winter dress coat. Did I wear my new hat despite my ambivalence towards it? Indeed I did. Conventional wisdom (what your mama tole you) is right. I did stay warmer with my head covered, even though my hat is loosely knit and not especially wind-proof.

3. This means I must continue in my search for the perfect hat. No more beanies, though -- continuing to knit the same thing but expecting a different result is hardly rational, now is it? Perhaps a cloche shape or maybe a beret. You know, I've had this book for a million years (well at least since 1989 when it first came out) always intending to knit a klaleidoscopic tam just because they are pretty. And, I've got all this leftover shetland yarn in pretty colors from Autumn Rose. Hmmmm.

4. I finished "reading" or more accurately listening to The Used World by Haven Kimmel and really enjoyed it for the memorable characters and absorbing sense of place (present-day rural Indiana) of which I previously knew nothing. And not just because one of the main characters is named "Claudia" and kicks some serious ass of someone oh-so-deserving. I'm deeper than that.

Alright, maybe not.

It still amazes me that that for years and years I thought my inability to focus on reading fiction meant that I somehow didn't enjoy fiction anymore. This after a childhood of reading under the covers late at light with a flashlight because I couldn't finish the book during the day. Nope. I still like a good story, just as long as my eyes don't have to hit a page of words. Next, I've ordered up from my public library another audiobook by the same author.

5. Let it be known that I actually cooked something involving a recipe. I made this beef stew and I thought it was delicious. I substituted beef broth for the water and added potatoes but otherwise made it exactly. If *I* can make this, seriously anyone can.

6. I can't think of a sixth random thing. The random well is dry. For more entertaining and wildly different random from what you've just read, try here.

November 14, 2007

Random Wednesday

Time passes so quickly between Random Wednesdays. Yet, here we are again.

1. Whoa. Now I know if I want an inbox stuffed full of lovely email, all I need to do is give away something enticing! Thanks to all of you entering the giveaway for "The Knitter's Book of Yarn" that told me funny yarn stories or just said "hi". There is still time to enter the drawing for my copy of this book -- see the previous entry for details.

2. By special request, here is a cat picture:

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Name: Igor. Breed: Russian Blue. Age: A happy fourteen. Favorite food: Everything! The great sadness of his life is that he can only have yucky green pea and duck prescription food. He wishes that you feel sorry for him and send treats. Otherwise, he is forced to continue to use his wiley ways to steal bites of the forbidden when the humans' backs are turned.

3. Sadly, not all pets are silver-spoon-fed doggies and kitties. I've sent a bit of money to help Sugar Ray. Poor little chicken.

4. Its coming up on that time of year when my birthday and Christmas combine to create opportunities for adding to my camera gear. I'm debating between buying a flash, a macro lens or a nice tripod. Right now, I'm leaning towards a flash because I know jack squat about flash photography and we are entering the Dark Season for blog pictures. Yet, macro can be cool.

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A close-up of Autumn Rose.

5. I just finished listening to the audiobook of Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and thought it was an inventive story. Once again, though, there is no way I would have been able to sit and read this book, even though I really enjoyed listening to it. Basically, unless a book is on audio, there is no way I can force myself to read it. Weird. I'm thinking of ordering up the audiobook of this author's first book, Everything is Illuminated. Suggestions for other audiobooks are welcome.

Books, cats, dogs, knitting, photography. Random Wednesday, at your service.

October 24, 2007

Random Wednesday

After a lovely Rhinebeck weekend, made special by the people I saw there, its back to work for me. Since Autumn Rose isn't that much further since I last showed it -- I did almost no knitting the entire weekend, for which I don't have adequate explanation -- today let's go with Random Wednesday.

1. One of the few purchases that I made at Rhinebeck for myself (I did some personal shopping for others) was a circular bamboo needle in US size 3 made by Clover. Why, you ask? Well, I had the bright idea to switch over from bamboo DPN's to a 16 inch circular Addi at the top of the Autumn Rose sleeve just to see what would happen.

What happened was gauge disaster. What was 30 stitches to 4 inches on a US size 3 bamboo needle turned quickly into 30 stitches to FOUR AND A HALF INCHES using the slippery Addi needle. Yeow! I diagnosed this as the direct result of my not being able to pull the stitches as hard with the Addi because, unlike the bamboo, the yarn doesn't "stick" to the needle. With no traction comes less pulling. Of course, I could always go down a needle size or two on the Addi circulars, but then my row gauge would become even more compressed.

So, I'm going to try casting on the body of Autumn Rose with these new bamboo DPNs to see if my gauge holds truer to what I'm experiencing with the bamboo DPNs. Although I wasn't really bummed out about starting the sleeve three times, I am hoping not to be in the same boat with the sweater body.

2. The following is a picture taken by my husband in Santa Barbara, California:

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I'm not sure any caption I could add would do justice to this oddity, although feel free to try me.

3. Awhile back, Julie asked for permission to use a picture of my kitty Kimba as the basis for a drawing. Check out the unbelievable pencil drawing she just finished. Now that's talent.

4. I took Teresa's advice and bought fluorescent orange highlighter tape to help me keep my place in the Autumn Rose chart. She promised awesomeness, and indeed it is. Although I felt like a huge dumbass for not realizing that I could solve the problem of not seeing where I'd been with the charted pattern by putting a Post-it note ABOVE the line I was currently knitting, this meant that I couldn't see what came next in the pattern. The highlighter tape solves this problem completely and I recommend it.

This concludes today's randomness. Although I'm off to teach today, and have been known to burst into randomness during that activity as well.

October 03, 2007

Just Pretty Pictures

I am lucky (?) enough to have two Deadlines of Impending Doom in one week, the first having mostly successfully been met, and the second one upcoming still. Welcome to speed-blogging.

Those of you who wrote that the picture in the last entry was of me on a zip line were exactly correct. Much to my surprise, there was one set up at Sugarbush ski resort in Vermont where we attended a wedding last weekend. I love ziplines -- the higher and faster the better.

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Sugarbush Mountain in Warren, Vermont.

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Riding the tandem up Lincoln Gap.

What Claudia is dreaming about -- her California vacation, starting Friday. And the return of KNITTING.

October 01, 2007

BEEP.....!

Hi! You've reached Claudia's Blog. Claudia can't come to the blog today due to deadlines of impending doom.

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Discuss amongst yourselves.

September 26, 2007

Saved by the Cat

There are some blogging days that I stare blankly at this here screen wondering -- given the complete lack of knitting since the last time I sat here -- what of interest I could possibly write.

Sometimes the cat saves me from a pictureless post.

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Here is Kimba hiding in the breakfast cereal cabinet. She also enjoys the paper recycle bin, but that's really unphotogenic. One never quite knows where a cat might appear next in my household. As an aside, Trader Joe's Maple Frosted Mini-Wheats are delicious and I'd recommend them to cereal lovers everywhere.

I wanted to talk a bit today about yarn -- a favorite subject! I did not know this, but only a small percentage of yarn commercially spun is suitable for hand-knitting, and much of that comes from the same sourcing. And it appears to me that most yarn shops stock much the same merchandise where ever one goes.

Now, this is not an issue for most folks. But I'm finding for myself that a yarn has to be really unusual and compelling in some way to get me to buy it. For example, lately I've enjoyed the artisan hand-dyed sock yarn more than the commercial varieties, a big switch from my past addiction to Trekking and Opal. I'm looking forward to an Artfibers hit later on this month on our annual jaunt to my birthplace, the San Francisco Bay Area. This is one of those unusual yarn shops that actually manufactures their own yarn, so really and truly the wares here are unavailable elsewhere. Considering how rarely I buy yarn, a large number of my projects are made with their merchandise.

So, like a junkie looking for a fix, I continue to search for new and exciting yarn horizons. As far as addictions go, it could be much, much worse.

September 24, 2007

The Purpose-Driven Knitter

Todays picture has nothing whatsoever to do with today's blog entry, but seriously. What's a blog with no pictures?

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The big orange Claudia's Blog tandem participated in Hub on Wheels this weekend, and had a blast seeing Boston neighborhoods that I ordinarily have no reason to visit. This picture struck me as funny. Cars only, right?*

Picture aside, this entry is a musing on the goals that drive my knitting and how those goals are changing. I have gone on record in numerous blog posts about how I like to wear the things that I knit and wouldn't consider making something that I couldn't or didn't want to use as a wardrobe item.

Well, people. There's a problem. The problem is that there are very few wardrobe niches that haven't already been filled by an appropriate knitted item or five. Heavy pullovers? Got plenty. Winter-weight cardigans. Yep, more than plenty. Shawls? More than I ever, ever wear. Scarves? same. Socks? I have an absolute embarassment of sock-riches.

Certain items of knitted clothing, although perhaps fun to make, haven't ever seen the outside of the sweater drawer. Knitted summer tanks spring to mind as the chief offender here, although all sweaters in cotton or warm weather yarn have seen little wear.

What is a purpose-driven knitter to do?

Re-think, re-evaluate.

Maybe, just maybe, it might be alright to knit something just because its fun to make. Perhaps I've been hanging around Grumperina (the Queen of Knit It, then Stuff It in the Closet) too long, but suddenly this idea has appeal. I've picked a project out in this vein -- something that looks fun to knit, but that I might not ever wear -- but it hasn't arrived as of yet.

I also have thought harder about filling wardrobe holes that only occasionally create issues.** For example, I don't get dressed up much outside of work clothes (and handknit sweaters are not appropriate attire in the work-context). But every once in a while I have wished for a very dressy sweater. My lovely sister gifted me a whole lot of Rowan Kidsilk Haze, but the original sweater idea that I had for this yarn hasn't held up to the test of time. (The test of time = months later, do you still love it?)

I browsed Ravelry, I googled, I looked everywhere for Kidsilk Haze inspiration. Finally, on this blog I found something I really liked. I like this sweater because its a wrap style, and because the lacy bits are very dressy, but not twee or overwhelming. This lacy number apparently is in Sandra magazine, September 2006.

Which I've not yet been able to find for sale. Anybody have this mag that is willing to sell it to me? I *could* design something similar, but Kidsilk Haze is a big ole bitch to rip out and ripping is par for my designing course.

So, my dears. I am working through the challenges wrought by a Purpose-Driven Knitter facing a lack of..well...purpose. This ought to be entertaining.

*No fossil fuels were burned in pursuit of this ride, as we rode to the start point (Government Center) and then rode home.

**You know, I *am* aware that I'm yammering on about MY wardrobe and how *I* have got plenty o' knitted goods. One natural response to this is "why don't you knit for charity?" Well, the answer is that I just don't want to. I'm not one of the large and lovely group of knitters who want to show their love and concern for their fellow humans by stitching. I prefer to give cold hard cash, and save my knitting time for private indulgence. Vive la difference.

September 12, 2007

Random Wednesday

When all ideas for posts fail, and believe me that has happened, its clearly time for Random Wednesday.

1. This past Saturday a few Boston knitbloggers met up with the vacationing Knitting Doctor. What a great time we had with her, proving once again that if you like a person via blog, the probability that you'll like her in real life is extremely high. Thankfully Lorette did the link-fest and picture-fest so I don't have to.

2. Indeed, I went to three yarn shops with a gaggle of enablers and bought exactly nothing. I emphasize that there is no virtue involved here: I didn't want anything, so there was no virtuous resisting. Not that the goods weren't worth purchasing, this is just the way I am. Happiness = enough.

I was very, very impressed with Windsor Button. In the long-ago bad old days of working downtown, I used to escape to Windsor Button for an occasional stolen moment of fibery oogling. At that time, it had a pretty low-end and limited yarn selection but a kick-ass button wall. The button wall is still there, but the yarn selection is now HUGE. This shop has an impressive array of yarn ranging from mass-market Lion Brand to boutique handpainted sock yarns and Seasilk. In addition, the shop workers were friendly and knowledgeable and the atmosphere was pleasant. I really liked it and would definitely go back.

3. Although I had my big-ass camera with me for this yarn crawl, I'm not much for taking shots of people I know or delicious yarn. Another theme emerges.

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An assortment of items outside an entrance to the subway.

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Bike-on-subway.

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OK, maybe its not on the scale of Amsterdam bicycle parking, but I was still happy to see this on the streets of Boston.

4. I've mentioned before that audiobooks have really re-invigorated my love of reading. Well...listening at the least. My bookgroup's selection for this month is Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. Now, I don't think this book is for everybody, and especially not for folks that recoil from a bit of self-involved, navel-gazing. But I'm really enjoying this story of the author's year-long journey to Italy, India and Indonesia to "find herself". The audiobook version is read by the author, and I think this really adds to my enjoyment, seeing as the book is a tale of her own experiences.

People, I'm supposed to cook the bookgroup dinner this month (and takeout pizza is so....not trying). If anyone has suggestions for recipes (Italian, Indian or Indonesian would be a nice touch, no?) bring them on. Help the culinarily-challenged.

5. Please consider supporting Norma's Red Scarf Project and Cara's Spin-Out for Heifer International. Worthy causes, both of them upon which to spend your charitable dollars.

6. And last, but not least, thank you for the "nice ass" comments on the last post. The "nice sweater" comments were good too, but well...you know. Well-fitting jeans from the nice folks at True Jeans.

September 05, 2007

A New Ride

I have a shiny, new ride.

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My Electra Townie 3 came this weekend, and isn't it purty. The inspiration for this bike clearly came from my fine Canadian friends. Dr. Steph has the same bike, only with more gears and in a completely fabulous color. And Stephanie gave me the idea for the milk crate. Which, by the way, when zip-tied far enough back on the rack doesn't interfere with my riding position, holds alot of groceries and cost zero dollars. I love the milk crate.

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The flowers are good too.

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This is an extremely fun bicycle to ride, with a riding position that allows me to put my feet flat on the ground when stopping without getting off the saddle. I feel stable and safe on it, which is saying alot for me after years and years of not riding my own bicycle.

There is a very nice bike path near my house, with a relatively safe system of suburban roads that get me there. Amazingly, when I took the trouble to think about what errands could be done using this bike path and quiet roads, I can get to a grocery store, pharmacy, farm stand, a Trader Joe's, two Starbucks, a Peet's Coffee & Tea, a yarn shop* and two farmer's markets. That is alot of errands that I would do anyway using a car that I could easily do on a bicycle-with-free-milk-crate. More fun for me, better for the environment.

Why wouldn't I?

Because, I'd never really thought of using a bicycle for transportation rather than simply recreation. Doh.

So, lets see how this experiment in human-powered transport goes. I'll let you know.

*Should I choose to, I could fit a whole lotta yarn in the milk crate.

August 29, 2007

Random Wednesday

Well, I do believe that I've got a true random selection of items today. I think at the end of this post you'll agree with me.

1. The faster I knit the endangered Kyoto yarn, the more likely it is that I'll have enough yarn. Just say, "yes Claudia".

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I'm getting close to the end of the small ball, with the big hank left to go. Elbow-ville has been reached.

2. Its not every day that a crane lifts a big-ass tree over one's house.

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I'll caption it Unidentified Flying Tree: the choice of green aliens universe-wide.*

Feel free to caption it better if you'd like.

3. Behold the beauty that is my new bicycle:

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This is an Electra Townie 3 which is the same bike in all ways but gearing to Dr. Stephannie's Claudia the Tangerine Machine. Great minds think alike.

I test-rode a fair number of bicycles and by far liked this one the best. It felt really stable and easy to ride. Which is great for me since my bike handling skillz are...let's say...still evolving. My intended use for it is to cruise leisurely around town to pick up goodies at the farmer's market, run small errands and maybe do a little grocery shopping with it. With any luck, it should be here in a few weeks.

Before I hear a greek chorus of "oh, it's blue!" please know that the other colors available in the 3 speed geared bike that I wanted were light pink and lime green. This bike has cool fade paint, matching fenders and bit of flowery decoration. Did I try to weasel a custom-order tangerine color out of my bike shop? You betcha, but denied. I'll be happy with the turquoise flowers, and if I add orange panniers (or perhaps an orange milk crate a la Harlot) the color scheme will actually match this blog.

Which can't be bad.

Knitting, flying trees and bicycles. Random enough for you?


*Anyone suspecting that I'm writing this without full benefit of an entire mug of tea wouldn't be wrong.

August 16, 2007

The Power of Baked Goods

So, I haven't ridden my own bicycle in.....many, many years. I don't see well enough to ride fast enough to get any exercise. And my non-existent vision on my left side makes me really leery of cars on the road. So my mindset developed over the years into "I can't ride a single bike" as opposed to "I choose not to ride a single bike". Seriously. I'd convinced myself. My bicycle riding was going to be exclusively on the tandem and that was that.

However, this past Tuesday I wanted desperately to go to the Farmer's Market in the next town over. My favorite Swiss bakers were there, selling delicious treats. And oh how I wanted a delicious baked good.

The hubster had taken the nice car to court, which is the one I usually drive. So I was stuck with the old car, which had sat in the driveway the entire 12 days we were gone and which had been having battery/alternator problems before we left. I got in it, noticed the needle was on EMPTY and said, "self, you should drive first to the local gas station." So I did.

And the battery died right there at the gas pump.

After a jump start given by the nice mechanic, I was back home. Treatless and car-less.

I do have a bicycle: a twenty year old Specialized Rockhopper mountain bike that for the past five years or so has sat in a trainer stand in my basement. Used religiously for winter training, might I add.

I looked at it and thought "why not?" I took it off the stand, figured out how to pump up the tires. And even oiled the chain like I've watched the husband do millions of times. Then I strapped on my enormous HAWG backpack and my trusty helmet.

And started pedaling. The very first thing I thought was how odd it was to be moving on a bicycle without a person in front of me. It was actually kind of surreal for the initial moments.

But, damn if it wasn't FUN. Go where I want, how fast I want. YEAH!

Now, my bike handling skillz are weak at best. Steering and braking aren't things I've done recently. But slowly and carefully, since I really and truly can't see road obstacles at speed, I rode to the Farmer's Market, scored some crack delicious baked goods, fresh fish and locally grown veggies and rode home.

Thereby proving to myself that I CAN ride a bicycle in a safe and fun manner. What a great day!

I'm certain that I was inspired to try this by all the people I saw in the Netherlands and in Denmark who were matter-of-factly using their bicycles to do their daily errands.

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The young.

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And the not-so-young.

I figured if they could do it, so could I. Now I've got no more excuses not to reduce my carbon footprint by riding my bicycle to do errands if there is a safe route to take in order to do so.

Is it very wrong to bike shop now?

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The Electra Amsterdam (warning PDF link).

July 23, 2007

Nest Watch

I swear I've been knitting, but just socks. Trust me that pictures of this would not amuse.

Thank heavens for robins.

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The little robinettes are growing bigger but their eyes are still closed and feathers are few and far between.

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Basically, mom spends her day running off to find food to feed these hungry little mouths. Perhaps all parents can relate to this. What was on the menu? Click here if you aren't squeamish.

July 18, 2007

Random Wednesday

I am extremely thankful for Random Wednesdays. You know, when the knitting falls down and all.

1. Mom Robin is still sitting on the nest.

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I took this picture after carolyn asked me why I cleaned the damn window if I could just open it to take the picture. Turns out, if I closed the office door to keep marauding felines away, and if I opened the window while mom was out doing important bird business, this plan worked great.

2. I am really happy to say that Igor is once again a seven pound kitty. He passed his weight check yesterday with high marks. Now, seven pounds may not sound like alot for a feline, but Igor is a svelte creature who probably never weighed more than 7.5 pounds. All I need to do is get down with giving him his B12 shot myself.

3. Meet my new best friend.

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Why I waited so long to get a GPS is beyond me considering I'm a unique blend of blind and direction-impaired. This is a Garmin nuvi 270 and it fits into the palm of my hand. The small size and light weight is great for back-of-tandem-bike navigating, as well as the traditional car navigating. I bought this model because it has Europe maps too. Mmmm. Europe. Who knows, but maybe I'll be testing this feature out soon.

I do think she (its a female voice) needs a name, but nothing has leapt out and stuck. Gotta admit, I especially enjoy NOT following her directions. What that says about me, I'd rather not speculate upon.

June 13, 2007

Better Late than Never

Today was a day full of....challenges...chez Claudia's Blog. Who knew that a mouse (of the computer variety) could go bad? Bad mice, plus a virus = computer down. Thankfully this evening I am BACK, but you better believe that the Enormous Spreadsheet of Raffle Chances has been properly backed up. I was sweatin' it there for a bit.

I've got no knitting for you today, but Random Wednesday is saving my cookies.

1. I am not normally a rabid buyer of the clothes. The last time I bought jeans was sometime in 2005 and my sister had to practically put a gun to my head to make me do it. When Grumperina posted about True Jeans, and then followed it up with even more glowing reports, I just had to give it a try. If you know Grumperina, and I'm quite lucky to do so, you know that she doesn't throw accolades around lightly.

Last week I went there to be a "fit tester". This involved trying on lots and lots of jeans while a jeans professional, in my case Jessica -- one of the co-founders of the company -- evaluated how well different brands and styles fit my body type. My ass goes into their database and I get to find perfectly fitting jeans. Win-win, people. If you live in the Boston area and you wear a standard size, you should definitely volunteer your ass too. According to Jessica, they are busting their buns adding plus sizes but this doesn't appear to be quite ready yet.

I walked out of there with three pairs of great fitting jeans...i.e. more jeans than I've purchased in the last four years. One of them, the Pine IV Kyoto jeans, Grumperina also bought. Interesting. These are fancy-schmancy jeans, with cool back pockets and a beautiful fabric pocket lining. The others were a pair of iT Jeans Diva and Worn Jeans Alder. I love all of them. And, I rarely love my pants. I'll definitely be buying more jeans here in the future.

2. There hasn't been a cat picture on here for awhile, so here is Igor helping me work.

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I especially love it when he stretches out comfortably right on my paperwork. Helpful. Thanks bud.

Tomorrow, however, Igor and I head to the vet. This spry, healthy-looking, eating-like-a-horse, fourteen year old kitty failed his vet appointment last month by losing a bit of weight and bloodtesting very high for liver enzymes. He's getting re-tested tomorrow, and he requests your best wishes for a full 7 pounds of kitty and normal-enzyme blood. Igor hates the vet (despite the fact, of course, that the vet is wonderful).

The MS Ride Prize Basket is up next, and the to-be-shown prize stash so big, that frankly I'm paralyzed with indecision as to what to post next. So, I'll post the delicious stuff that I just yesterday took pictures of.

Dallas S. sent an amazingly generous box of delectable yarn:

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A Heartland Knits "Fanning the Flame" Sock Kit. Get a better look at the kit yarn here.

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Brooklyn Handspun in Magenta Cocoa and Marigold (480 yards) of superwash merino sock yarn. This is delightful stuff, and you know which of these colors I'd steal if'n I could.

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From L to R, All Things Heather hand-dyed superwash merino sock yarn (360 yds) in Juniper, Sunset Yarns hand-dyed superwash merino sock yarn (370 yds.) in "Rainbow Road" and Sophie's Toes sock yarn (100 g.) in Pumpkin Spice. Mmmm. Pumpkin Spice.

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(L to R) Black Bunny Fibers "Sloe Ginn Fizz" superwash merino sock yarn (4 oz./500 yds.), Silkie Socks that Rock (superwash merino and silk) in Tide Pool, and Cherry Tree Hill Supersock (4 oz./420 yds) in Water.

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(L to R) Yarn Pirate superwash merino sock yarn in Rain and Panama, All Things Heather superwash merino sock yarn (360 yds.) in Chavie, and Apple Laine wool/nylon/mohair sock yarn (113 g./400 yds.) in "Pretty in Pink".

Now if that isn't an amazing amount of kick-ass sock yarn, I don't know what would be.

Now, delightful as it is, sock yarn isn't for everybody. Some of you like to knit sweaters! The generous Woolgathering Julie can help you out.

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This is eight skeins of Cascade 220 in Japanese Maple Heather, enough for a Mason-Dixon Perfect Sweater, in a super-cute reversible knitting bag. Yarn for a sweater, and a great bag all in one prize! YEAH!

And lastly, for those who like shiny things, Romi has got you covered:

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See more of her wonderful work at Designs by Romi.

I'll be back on Friday with even more tantalizing prizes, and I will be posting every day next week with more treats to entice you to donate to my MS Ride!


February 14, 2007

Random Wednesday

Today, there is only a collection of random thoughts. I might throw in a cat picture, just because.

1. If a couple of knitters were, say, going to Orlando soon, what should they do or not do? In this context, feel free to share your favorite Disneyworld tips.

2. Its not knitting, but I am damn proud of this:

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It was iPod Mini surgery to change the failed battery. The patient lived. The surgeon was excessively self-congratulatory.

3. As promised, a cat picture.

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4. Again, not knitting. But if you enjoy seeing great pictures with evilly entertaining captions, I'd highly recommend a visit to Partialsight. This guy is amazing. I've also been enjoying Lou's awesome New York street photography.

5. Following up on some thinking about knitting I actually swatched the hemp yarn in the waffle stitch used in Thermal. No go. The gauge was too large and waffles stretched completely out after blocking. That was predictable, but I'm glad I gave it a try. This sweater would be great in a fine-gauge wool, but not in hemp.

6. If you like Valentine's Day, I wish for you the day of your dreams. Me, well. It should come as no surprise that this is one more holiday of which I am not a fan. Why not? I think its a bunch of marketing hype by the card people and the flower people to sell products. If one is receving the requisite love and attention from one's partner the other 364 days of the year, that is the real Valentine spirit. If not, well how does a card and a gift (extracted by societal pressure) one day of the year make up for all the others? If currently one doesn't have a partner at all, this day might be a difficult one too. Discuss amongst yourselves.

January 02, 2007

This is Gonna Be Random

It seems like the holidays have knocked the stuffing out of my will to blog, and my knitting and spinning in general. Today is a get-back-to-normal day, and I hope that I'll be back in the swing soon enough.

Today may be the wrong day to embark on a year-long commitment.

Oh well.

Introducing Picture-A-Day, the idea ripped off from Maryse.

What could go wrong?

December 22, 2006

Happy Winter Holiday-of-Choice

To all my friends who celebrate Christmas...Merry Christmas! To everyone else, I wish you the happiest of winter holidays, or just happy winter if holidays just aren't your bag.

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Here are the Swiss chocolate ornaments in the wild. I tied them onto the branches good and tight. Chocolate thieves: bring scissors.

December 13, 2006

Chocolate Is Always Good

When knitting content fails me and spinning content does too, my guess is that if I talk about chocolate this group will still be entertained.

So why don't we do that.

When my aunt and uncle in Switzerland sent me the pretty little spinning wheel, my uncle included these as "packing material":

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This, my friends, is an enormous haul of Swiss chocolate Christmas tree ornaments. YEAH! Ever since Silvia and I were little kidlets, our family's tree was decorated with these. Although some ornaments are solid delicious milk chocolate, most are filled with creamy, sweet nougat. Or in the case of the mäusli (little mice), these delectable creatures are filled with a fruit flavor creamy-solid. Take this one, for example:

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I will bet this little friend is filled with orange flavored creamy-sweet. Mmm, mmm good.

They've all got little strings attached to them, so you tie a knot and slip them onto an ornament hook and slap it on a tree branch. Instant holiday cheer.

As you can imagine, a favorite sport at the childhood abode was for sneaky little girls to stealthily stalk the decorated tree. And when no adult was looking, to snatch a favorite ornament from the back of the tree or maybe down low where Mom wouldn't notice it was gone. I would hide the foily evidence of my bad behavior in the attic of my dollhouse. For all I know, the forensic foil-trail of these particular crimes is still there.

I'll be upfront that Christmas is not a favorite holiday of mine. Not that I dislike it, I just don't get into the trimmings of this particular holiday (actually, I'm not really into the trimmings of any holiday....my favorite holiday is Patriots' Day). But this year, there will be a tree and that tree will have chocolate on it.

And, indeed, there will be stealthy mäusli-stealing. Which sister will end the holiday with more foily mice-tails? Stay tuned....

November 22, 2006

Igor Dreams Of.....

....TURKEY!

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A Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it, and a kick-ass Thursday to everyone else.

I did manage to finish all of the Icarus charts last night without screwing up again. Let's see if I can keep all my stitches on the needles during the edging knit-up.

October 18, 2006

Home Again

I have traded sunny California for wet (but colorful) New England.

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Looking back on my vacation week, my knitting time was paltry. Perhaps spending sixteen hours on the tandem bicycle during that week had something to do with this. Be that as it may, I knit most of the way home and managed to make decent progress on a blue sock for the husband. AND, I'm one row away from hitting the lace pattern on my Icarus.

I decided not to add extra repeats of the lovely, simple but boring body pattern. I was helped along in this decision by Sylvia and I comparing my version to an Icarus being displayed in Nathania's shop.

I decided not to start the lace border pattern whilst sitting on the edge of the baggage claim carousel (no, it was not moving) waiting for the hubby to arrive for pickup. Good call.

September 27, 2006

10 Knittery Things You Don't Know About Me

Following the lead of Grumperina, I am challenged to come up with 10 Knittery Things that you don't know about me. This is kind of a bitch, because I've been writing about my knitting here for over four years. I think my knitting, at least, is pretty well documented.

But here goes:

1. Although I understand that I may currently have a reputation for nicely finished, mistake-free garments such was not always the case. Many, many of my finished projects pre-blog would not have stood up to close scrutiny. I overlooked mistakes, finished seams hastily, and failed to rip out when a project was crying out to be relegated back to yarn status. I've been greatly inspired by many on-line knitting friends who have really raised the bar as to what a good knitting project should be.

2. My favorite yarn color isn't orange. Its a gingery color much like the recent Crinkle sweater that I completed. My second favorite yarn color is red -- almost every variation thereof.

3. I have never, ever, not-even-once knit a sock toe-up. And I'm not at all sorry for this lack either.

4. My favorite person to knit for is.....me. With very few exceptions, my knitted gifts just have never worked out. For the time, effort and expense involved, I'd really rather buy a gift.

5. I believe in the Sweater Curse. I did not knit my husband any sweaters until after I'd married him, and frankly I'd recommend you do the same. By the way, then I knit him two sweaters, which he never wears because he doesn't wear sweaters. He wears polarfleece. I knit for myself, other than the occasional sock. All are happy.

6. I never buy yarn on sale. The reason is, whenever I've done this I realize much later that the low price influenced me to purchase yarn that I would otherwise never have bought. Then the yarn ended up given away (or worse!) resulting in no monetary savings after all. My strong preference is to decide on a project, then to buy the perfect yarn for that project -- saving up for it if necessary.

7. Prior to starting this blog in 2002, I only knew how to cast on one way -- the basic German cast-on. Through the wonders of the internet, I've learned lots of different ways to cast-on. I think this is extremely cool.

8. The knitting project that is my most favorite, the one that was most fun to knit and most fun to wear is the second Rogue that I made. I love this sweater unreasonably.

9. I wish I had more time to read all the fabulous new knitbloggers. The creativity out there is simply amazing.

10. When I started knitting for serious in 1983 (as a mere child of 18) I could not have picked a more unfashionable hobby. Knitting wasn't the "new yoga", twenty-somethings weren't embracing ironic knitting, there was no knitting scene. My fellow college students thought I was kind of strange. There was no internet, no knitting community, no knitting friends. Only issues of Vogue Knitting a few times a year in the mailbox to remind me that I wasn't all alone in this obsession. The knitting times are certainly better now, and I sure do appreciate it.

That is 10 things, people. Feel free to answer this meme too.

September 14, 2006

Not Knitting

For various reasons, there has been no knitting. There, however, has been some picture-taking so let's go with that.

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This is a bridge here in Boston we call the "Salt and Pepper Bridge" (its real name, I think, is the Longfellow Bridge), with the John Hancock Tower Prudential Tower in the background. (See, if I had enough Internet time to google what the hell building that was...but no). The towers of the picture look like salt and pepper shakers, ergo the name. I liked this picture because of all the tower-y objects in it.

Prior to starting this blog in 2002, I was completely uninterested in photography. Film cameras never interested me, I think because there was just too much time between the snapping of the shot and when my lazy ass would get the pictures developed. Plus, like 90% of the pictures would truly suck.

I got my first digital camera solely to take pictures to decorate this here blog. From the first, I fell in love. Immediate picture viewing! The deleting of sucky pictures! YEAH! But I eventually tired of the lack of control in my first, very basic camera, and got my current camera (a Canon A75) almost two years ago. This is a pocketable camera, but not tiny. The reason I bought it, was because despite its low price it gave me almost complete photographic control over white balance, exposure, shutter speed, etc. Now, I don't pretend to be Cara, and I don't actually use the full capabilities of this camera most of the time, but I really enjoy playing with all the controls on occasion.

Despite there being nothing wrong with my current camera, I go through phases of being incredibly drawn to buying a digital SLR. But the following dialogue runs through my head:

I don't need another time-consuming hobby.
But I'm SO TIRED of missing shots due to the inherent slowness of my point-and-shoot camera.
But, I DON'T NEED ANOTHER TIME-CONSUMING HOBBY!

And so on, into frozen indecision. In truth, my current camera fits my needs pretty well. I can take close-up shots of knitting progress (not...ahem...that there's been much of that lately) as well as the self-timer shots of finished garments that you see here occasionally. Indeed, all those shots are taken with a self-timer and a mini-tripod. Usually balanced precariously on my enormous air-conditioning units on the outside of my house.

See, I'll bet you didn't know that.

Also, a big DSLR with big-ass and expensive lenses wouldn't work for the back-of-bike shots that I usually take -- that just won't fit in the pocket of a bike jersey. Because between working and riding bicyles and knitting, there's not a whole lotta of extra time to go places strictly to take photographs. I have to take them on the run, and a small point-and-shoot is perfect for that.

But, I can still lust.

P.S. Still no broadband. Thanks for all your sympathy. Sadly, DSL isn't available at my house, or you can bet that I'd dump this cable business in a heartbeat.

September 11, 2006

Thinking About Addiction

No, not addiction to the substances -- addiction to the Internets. The instant scratching of any information itch. Am I wondering, “gee, what’s the weather like in Amsterdam today?” I can know immediately.

The instant connection with the peoples of the fiber. Am I thinking about Cari and Thumper or what my sister is cooking up? Off I go to “see” them.

My broadband cable connection lets me on for fifteen minutes. Tops. Then a reboot of the entire system is the only current cure to a measly fifteen more minutes. I only have the time and patience for this rigamarole a couple of times per day. Comcast tells me the cable in my street is bad. Maybe not fixable for days and days.

I consider bloody murder, but decide against it.

Having only fifteen minutes is paralyzing. Do I check my email? Read some favorite blogs? Do work stuff? Post pictureless blog entries? Honestly, its been hard. I am unused to constraint. Spoiled, I am.

I miss the Internets.

And, I haven’t knit a stitch in days. Related? That is indeed a scary thought.

August 23, 2006

Sock on a Rock, and Other Stories Involving Laziness

I put the finished or in progress socks on the Sock Rock for photos. I'm not sure why. Its a convenient rock, with nice greenery to make these repetitive sock pictures a bit more visually appealing.

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The sum and substance of my vacation knitting was one finished Husband sock done in Trekking XXL, his favorite sock yarn. Well, finished in the sense that the knitting is finished. Were I to turn this sock over, you would see the yarn ends still flapping about. Lazy knitters unite!

What I really wanted to talk about today concerns the questions I got in the comments to the last entry about my assessment of the Knitscape design software that I used to tweak Crinkle. The short answer is that I haven't used this software enough to feel comfortable giving it a public rating. In addition, I did not test out any other design software before purchasing this one.

And, it is very likely that I'll never really put this design software through its paces. Why? Because...very simply...I am not a designer of sweaters. I am a "tweaker". I see designs that I like, that inspire me. And I mess with them. Sometimes a little. Sometimes alot. But I don't have the vision thing. I can't sit down and visualize a nice-looking, novel, creative design. That's what designers are for.

Don't misinterpret me as having a lack of confidence or minimizing my abilities. I am a fantastic tweaker. Really, really good. I think I pick cute designs and tailor them to my own style and body quite successfully. But say to me, "Claudia, design a cute, non-boring, hasn't-been-done-before sweater" and I come up empty. Honestly, this is why you won't find critiques of magazines or patterns here -- its damn hard to come up with cutting-edge, but wearable knitwear designs. I give kudos to all the designers that put themselves out there with new ideas for us knitters to chew on.

So, I didn't buy this design software to actually DESIGN. I bought it because I'm a lazy-ass who doesn't want to sit down with a pencil, paper and calculator and re-do gauge or shaping to modify an existing pattern to my yarn and gauge. That's all. And that is unfair to the software, which can do so much more than this, to rate it based upon my limited use of it.

Does this software aid in tweaking? You bet. It recalculated stitch and row gauge and re-did the shaping on Crinkle to match. But no software, this one included, will operate independently of the knitter's own skill. If your gauge measurement is off, as mine was, you will have to make adjustments to the pattern as you go. Same with the shaping instructions. This software generated an acceptable set-in sleeve and neckline shaping, but I decided to tweak the tweaked instructions even more as I was knitting.

Are you a designer? Or a tweaker? Or neither? You probably should answer this question for yourself before shelling out the dough for design software. For me, the price of the software was worth my limited use of it. I count that as a successful purchase.

July 28, 2006

Eye Candy and Busted

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Let's start this off right.

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In the Igor Book of Manipulation and Subversion of Human Will, this is Trick # 174 -- be extra special cute while snuggling on the human's lap.

I also have to admit to being so completely busted. See, yesterday I (falsely) told you'all that the first picture of the Crinkle sleeve cap was the "before" and the second picture was the "after". Um.....actually, the first picture was of the FIRST sleeve that I made, and the second picture was of the second sleeve, but after I had redone it. I was too lazy to drag out the camera to photograph the actual second sleeve before the rip-out.

Turns out, that the first sleeve cap had two fewer stitches than the second one. Apparently counting to *74* was a little too much for me to handle the first time round and that sleeve cap was done on 72 stitches instead. So the lying-bitch "before" picture really doesn't completely show the problem with the wide swaths of stockinette that I experienced on the second sleeve cap.

You might not think that two extra stockinette stitches would make a difference, but it really did. So if you looked at the before picture and said "that's not so bad", well it really was worse than that.

So, the entire first sleeve cap and a few rows of the sleeve had to be ripped in order for me to do another sleeve increase to get to the right sleeve cap number.

Grrr.

July 26, 2006

Technical Difficulties

EDITED TO ADD: Erika has saved my cookies by figuring out my problem and telling me how to fix the new router. I am up and running! Thanks Erika!


Ah, those pesky technical difficulties.

The Scene, Last Night

Claudia Thinks: "Oooo...a whole evening husband-free! I can knit! Maybe even finish the last Crinkle sleeve! YEAH BABY!"

Claudia Sees: "Um, that D-Link DI-624 wireless router supporting home-wide internet? Dead. Kaput. Catastrophic failure."

Claudia Does: New D-Link DI-524 router, lots of chat with a nice girl from India named "Tina". New router dead on arrival. Evening wasted.

Sonofabitch.

I'm sitting here with two dead routers, but a working D-Link wireless card and cable modem. Any suggestions from my geekly friends would be welcome.

Regular posting will resume when the ugly and desperate grabbing for the one measly working broadband connection ends.

July 24, 2006

No Knitting, So Food

There is nothing knitted to see here. Crinkle is progressing, socks are socks. blah, blah, blah.

In an unusual twist of topic around here though, I'd like to talk about food today.

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Yeah, I know that's not a picture of food. I don't have any food pictures. When at a loss, go to cat.

As evidenced by the comments to the last post, wherein I inquired after pasta salad recipes and many wise-asses expressed shock at my entrance into the kitchen, I do not fancy myself a cook. I don't enjoy cooking, and I tend to avoid activities that I don't enjoy.

However, there are some situations where I have to suck it up and produce food for my friends that is tasty. Now, I can follow directions, and problem solve with the best of them. But meal planning? ACK!

Knitbloggers to the rescue.

Many, many of you went out of your way to suggest delicious sounding recipes and I hope to try many of them out. But this weekend, I decided to fire up this Cellophane Noodle Salad suggested by Jal. I think it appealed to me because I wanted to try some new flavors, and this recipe has no oil in it making it light and...dare I say it....healthy.

Can we say "delicious"? That indeed was my book group's verdict. The assembly was easy. I learned how to bake some buttery chicken from my trusty Fannie Farmer cookbook. I cubed some tofu and fried it up a bit courtesy of an internet recipe. Other than that, I made the recipe as written.

One of my complaints about cooking is that I can read a recipe, think it will be delicious and then the finished product is only "eh". So I'm super pleased with this one, and would recommend it to the foodies (and the non-foodies, like me) out there.

For the rest of the meal, it was Norma to the rescue. Now, I've had the pleasure of Norma cooking me a meal and I know talent when I see it. Whereas I stare helplessly at cookbooks when confronted with a meal planning moment, Norma will create meal themes in her foodie-brain and make up recipes on the spot.

Norma suggested that I should make green beans to go with the noodle salad. Parboiled, then tossed with butter and toasted sesame seeds. Now, this is what I mean. If left to myself, I might have thought about green beans. But I NEVER would have thought about throwing in sesame seeds to turn boring green beans into succulent, delectable green beans. My girls ate me out of every last bean, so I'm thinking this was a success as well. I learned how to toast the sesame seeds here.

Now, behold the true power of Norma. Can you imagine me carefully gutting cherry tomatoes then stuffing their little hollowed-out selves with goat cheese? Just because Norma says so? Yeah, me either.

They were great.

July 14, 2006

Random Friday

You get only randomness today.

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1. Igor wishes to remind you that he is still cute.

2. Probably my favorite purchase of the last few months is my very first ever travel mug. Why it took me so long to buy one of these is a mystery. I don't usually drink coffee -- tea is my thing. Currently my tea of choice is Peet's Pride of the Port. I'm drinking some now.

3. Actually, I take that back. The favorite purchase part. I recently bought these pants in black and I wear them all the time. Don't you love when the clothing you buy turns out to be just right? Just one perfect choice will make up for quite a few of the mistakes sitting in the closet.

4. If you guys are game for a fundraiser for a good cause offering great prizes, check out this effort to help out a fellow knitter undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

5. Despite currently being asleep, Igor still wants you all to be reminded about how cute he is:

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6. You will shortly be hearing more about the ancient sweater on which Igor is sleeping.

April 24, 2006

Some Weekends

Some weekends it is more about the knit-peeps-socializing than the actual knitting.

Some weekends, the actual knitting can't -- for one reason or another -- show up on the blog.

Some Monday mornings are dark and wet and rainy.

Here is a picture.

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And now its time for a story.

It was a hot and steamy late May weekend. My sister, the sexy flight attendant, had arrived in town on one of her frequent stay-overs with a secret plan.

"Hey, Claudia", says she. " I found a wool festival on the web and I think we should go."

"I don't want anymore yarn." I say. "And its far."

In return, I got The Look. The look that said, "could you possibly be any less fun?"

Apparently I was going to my first sheep and wool festival.

We pulled into the rustic fairground parking lot, and a strange noise wafted towards us from the barns. "Baaaaa!" intoned the Greek chorus of sheep. In sheep language, this means (although I did not know it at the time) "c'mon in! spend all your money! get a new lifelong hobby!"

It still means this. Be forewarned, people.

We walk into the first barn, the shade providing a welcome break from the beating sun. After my eyes adjust to the sudden darkness, I survey the wares. Yarn was in limited supply. Good, I think. I don't want more yarn.

But there was fluff everywhere. All the colors of the rainbow. In fluffy piles, in braided strands, in big fuzzy balls. I pet the fluff, a bit half-heartedly. I suppose if I were a spinner, this would be interesting. But nothing to buy here, I say to myself. And I move on down the aisle. I see an older lady spinning on a wheel. I see a seven year old girl spinning on a wheel. Hmmm, I think. Spinning.

We make our way back outside, to see a woman in an open tent with snake-like multicolored fiber ropes hanging all around her. She smiled at me. "Hi", she said. "Are you a spinner?"

No, I say. I'm not.

"I can teach you in five minutes!", was her reply. If this were a movie, I'd pick the shark music to cue right here. You know which shark music I mean.

She hands me a drop spindle with a leader of fiber already on it and a bit of fluff. This next part is a little fuzzy. There was twirling of the spindle, and drafting of the fiber. And probably dropping of the spindle, but I don't remember that part.

When I came to, there was a toy wheel drop spindle and armload of roving ropes in my hands. And a crazed look in my eye. I raced back into the barns, and did more than pet the fluff, if you know what I mean. And I think you do.

I spun in the car on the way home. I spun when I got home. I spun through all the fiber I had bought. And when I searched to find the next sheep and wool festival, I was crushed, CRUSHED! to find out that I'd have to wait until the fall.

Then fiber started arriving in the mail. Like magic, you know. The wheel came mail order two months later.

I think you can figure out the rest of the story.

There is one way for me to relive the excitement and joy of discovery that was my first sheep and wool. And that is by bringing in new victims to these shows and watching THEM race through the barns hungrily gathering fluff. Someone handed me the Kool-Aid. I'm just returning the favor whenever I can.

April 21, 2006

Something About Knitting Patterns

I could show you another picture of the Hyrna shawl, but it wouldn't look much different than two days ago. And the pansies still aren't planted either. For the low-tech Hyrna tracker, you can click here.

What I'd like to talk about today instead of my incremental knitting progress is kntting patterns -- in particular knitting patterns for spring/summer clothing. Around this time of year, there usually is alot of talk focusing on the knitting mags (print and on-line) and the choices of garments they feature for spring and summer. Most of the talk this season hasn't been all that complimentary.

I thought I would buck the trend (I so love the contrarian path) and point out some of the design ideas that I've liked this season. Mind the words..."design ideas". Not necessarily the patterns as written, but elements of the patterns that I find interesting. See, it is only rarely that I find a knitting pattern that I love so much and that is so right for me that I knit it as writ. That is probably true for most people. Developing the knitting skills to modify a pattern to better suit my tastes, my body type, my wardrobe, is probably the single most important reason for my satisfaction with this hobby. Expecting any designer to provide me with the perfect personalized pattern for free or at nominal cost is asking a bit much, I think.

Here are my summer knitting biases, just so's you know. I do NOT think a tank top or short-sleeved top meant for warm weather wear should ever be knit in a worsted weight or greater. The right temperature and season for that combination of bare arms and roasting torso does not exist in my world. And, I'm horribly biased against 100% cotton yarns in weights heavier than DK. The words "heavy" and "will stretch out" blot out all other potentially good things about such yarn.

After all my focus on Hyrna, I must have shawls on the brain. I don't actually wear them outside of the house much, but I'm very interested right now in knitting them. Until seeing this pattern, it had never occurred to me that one could bead in a linear fashion. I like the undulating design of this beading. If I used this idea, I would go for smaller, more subtle beading and perhaps vary the rate of the undulations so it wouldn't be quite as symmetrical.

I've been looking for a short-sleeved summer top pattern, and my sister Silvia alerted me to the Green Gables pattern that some knitbloggers are making. I like the cute sleeve-lets and the easy, but fetching lace detail around the neck. But for me the worsted gauge is a no-go. Re-writing the pattern to a DK gauge would be easy, so back to "go". And I've been meaning to reclaim the Tess' Designer Yarn nylon ribbon yarn from this project for quite some time. (I made the tank top too big and it needs to be ripped, but the yarn is cool and comfortable and altogether lovely and must be recycled).

In a recent discussion with Grumperina, she shared with me the idea that ribbing at the shoulders might be very flattering for the shoulder-deprived (such as moi). I thought of that exchange when I saw the Cambridge jacket pictured in the IK Summer Preview. I could see myself making this in one of my favorite summer yarns (Rowan All Seasons Cotton) and wearing it alot inside in the air conditioning. There's something about the collar that I don't like, and I would probably change that.

Lastly, the much-discussed new Rowan 39 has a sweater in it that by all rights I shouldn't like. And which I really have no explanation for liking. Ruching, ribbons, lacy bits. So Un-Claudia. But I like it I do. See it here. Will I make it? Not likely. But I can enjoy the looking.

I find choosing warm-weather knits to be the biggest pattern-finding challenge. Lucky for me I live in a climate where Cold is King. Believe me, we'll all be surprised together at what ends up actually going onto my needles this spring and summer.

April 19, 2006

Random Wednesday

Let's start right out with cat blogging, so that those of you who came here today looking for knitting know indisputably THAT THERE IS NONE.

igorapr122006.jpg

This is Igor salivating over the birdies. Igor loves himself the spring, when the birdies come back. Igor is an indoor kitty, forever frustrated in his hunting endeavors. Poor little chicken....

Let the randomness begin!

Beadlizard Sylvia is kicking some serious Hyrna Herborgar butt. Check it out.

If anyone knows anything about carpet steamers like these, feel free to chime in. There is a white carpet and two evil cats here. Just sayin'.

Knitting time this spring will be substantially reduced by the training time needed to not die while riding this race on our tandem bicycle. Please note, that while I myself am not crazy, I am married to crazy. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Speaking of bicycling, pretty soon I will fire up the fundraising drive for this year's MS Ride. I have a seriously great prize to raffle off, so stay tuned. Generous offers of other prizes will be gratefully accepted.

The pansies still aren't planted. I did water them though. This meets my definition of gardening.

I don't know how those of you who often knit "secret" projects do it and still have blog fodder. Orange. Furry. Enuf said.

April 17, 2006

Happy Patriots Day!

Happy Patriots' Day, a/k/a Claudia's favorite holiday.

Regularly scheduled blogging will re-commence tomorrow.

March 24, 2006

Random Friday

In the true spirit of randomness, Random Wednesday will be held today on Friday. Next week, who knows?

1. A final divorce decree has issued out of Yarn Court, and the next partner of my ex-yarn is Michelle! I think this makes us related, somehow. In furtherance of randomness, I did not use a hat to choose amongst the 58 (!) knitters interested in a spot of free yarn. Instead I played with this random number generator. I may have to have another contest just so I can use this again.

2. I really hate knitting math. I'm to the armhole point on one of the fronts on my Red Ribby cardi (seen in the last post) and now I have to calculate the raglan decrease on (of course) a different row gauge than the pattern. I was moaning about this to Bonne Marie, and, ever-helpful, she sent me to this site to download free stitch/row calculation software. WOO HOO!! I'm saved!

3. When all else fails, put up an Igor picture.

igorfacemar242006.jpg

4. Every morning lately I've been looking forward to having a cup of chocolate tea. This is all Teresa's doing.

5. I'm getting a strange urge to knit some crazy lace thing. I'm fighting it, as one would fight off an oncoming head cold. But if I WERE to lose this battle, if you've got any suggestions for a rectangular stole pattern.....

February 22, 2006

Random Wednesday

If mamacate gets to be random on Wednesdays, I do believe I get to be too.

1. Despite having been married to him for a long time, I really did not know that the Husband also likes the color orange. I mean, REALLY KNOW. How it is that I know now, one might ask.

orangesockfeb222006.jpg

Behold the yarn chosen by the Husband for his next pair of socks out of the myriad possibilities of the sock cubby. A spritely shade of yellow-orange with a black heel and toe. Eye-catching, no? The bright stuff was a lovely Koigu gift from Norma, and the black Koigu is left over from the last pair of Husband socks needing black heels and toes.

2. The orangey Koigu and the black Koigu feel completely different. The orange seems thinner, silkier and less spoingy, while the black knits up thicker and denser. If anyone else has noticed this sort of variation in Koigu, speak up.

3. I used to read for pleasure alot. Nowadays this happens rarely. I used to read my knitting mags cover to cover on the day they arrived. Now I don't even subscribe.** My eyes are tired of the written page -- but yet, not tired of the blogs which arrive every day on my big-assed computer monitor. I can blame the general weariness of reading on my work -- intense reading mandatory. But why blogs are OK, but books and magazines aren't, I've got no explanation.

4. I did stop by the Wild & Woolly to buy the new Spring Interweave Knits. For the sole purpose of reading Julia's essay on the back page. I enjoyed the essay quite alot, but there was nothing else about the magazine that otherwise would have led me to plunk down my money. No mag-bashing here -- its a tough business to please us knitters. But for my part, I'd rather lurch around the wide, wild Internets searching for design ideas. Sometimes that search leads back to the mags to reconsider a nice design previously overlooked (Flower Basket Shawl comes to mind). Mostly it doesn't.

5. I really would like a good nights sleep. Two cats for sale or rent. Cheap.

**To be accurate, I did let all my knitting and spinning mag subscriptions lapse, but after missing the last Vogue Knitting issue altogether, I re-upped. Something about having every VK issue since Spring 1983 keeps me wanting a complete collection. If anyone wants to trade me the Spring IK for the last VK, let me know.

January 27, 2006

A Message From Igor and Claudia

First up, we have Igor's message:

gaugeisevil.jpg

Now, we have Claudia's message:

Gauge, my bitter foe
You smite me yet again but
I laugh in your face.

That is all.

January 20, 2006

Ending the Week on a Sky Note

This picture is for Sandy who makes sure that I look up every once in awhile.

skypic.jpg

Apparently the Drug Dealer's Scale (a/k/a DDS) has caused a bit of interest round these parts. You can find roughly the same scale I have here, but I'm sure there are other types and brands of digital scales that would fit the bill for the dedicated fiberist. I actually obtained this scale for use in dyeing -- it is invaluable for measuring out dye powder to the nearest gram. Its quite a bit of dough to drop simply for purposes of weighing yarn balls to assuage the running-out-of-yarn demons, but I love mine and wouldn't be without it.

There are lots and lots of new knitting blogs -- more seem to pop up every day, to the point where I've long since given up trying to visit them all. My loss, I'm sure. However, every once in awhile one sees that a true fiberista (defined as someone who really knows what the hell she's doing in the knitting/spinning/crafting realm) finally decides to blog. Such is the case with Sylvia a/k/a Beadlizard. Check out the incredibly cute Newborn Crawling Bootees she conjured up. I'm told by moms (and feel free to weigh in here if you've got some knowledge, cause I sure don't) that traditional bootees fall off the babies, while sock based patterns stay on better. My default gift bootee pattern up until now has been some version of the Stay On Baby Booties (google it, its everywhere), but I'm going to try out Sylvia's version and round up a baby or two for a test.

January 02, 2006

Movable Type, Here I Come!

If all goes well, you guys can now see Claudia's Blog via Movable Type without having to do a thing, or change a thing.

I could not have done this without alot of help from my friends. A big cheer for Becky for the design help. And to Theresa for helping me wrestle this software onto my server.

If anything is screwing up for anybody, please drop me an email.

A real post tomorrow, promise.

December 09, 2005

She's Back, Did You Miss Her?

Peoples, it has been a long hard slog on the work front since Thanksgiving. Me working tirelessly and continuously to put food in the mouths of my kitties.

But now its time to come back to the blog. Yeah!

In lieu of knitting content, which will take a wee bit more time to recover, we will proceed to the snowstorm outside.


I loves me some snow.


So, the cold and the snow around here have turned my thoughts to hats. Or rather, my lack of hats. Actually, I don't lack HATS. I have two pretty successful hats made from Bonne Marie's Felted Bucket Hat pattern. But I want more hats, different hats, a wardrobe of hats, so to speak.

Not being totally without hat-making ability, I cast on for a made-up, off-the-cuff 2X2 ribbed beanie style hat the other night. I used bulky weight handspun and U.S. size 8 needles and quickly had enough hat to try on.

Um, not so much. Apparently, I suffer from pinhead syndrome, just like my dear pinhead friend Norma. I think I need a hat that has more interest going on at the brim and isn't so form fitting to my head. Apparently I have a small head. Who knew?

So I was wondering, if you guys would be so kind as to suggest hat patterns to me that you think might look decent. There is incentive.


A brand-spanking new copy of "New Knits on the Block" can be yours....


This is a beautifully photographed book with fun and different projects to knit for kids. I would be happy to send it anywhere in the world to the person who gives me the best hat pattern suggestion by Tuesday, December 13th at 3 PM EST. Cari has already tried to save me from hat boredom by suggesting this one. Anyone else want to play? Remember that nasty Blogger comments don't usually give me your email address, so either email me your suggestion or leave your email or blog addy in your comment.

Time for me to go knit something. The blog is hungry and it must be fed.

December 01, 2005

"Happy Birthday, Love Silvia"

Have I mentioned recently that I have the world's greatest sister? A beautiful, talented, wool-loving sister.

This love-letter has nothing whatsoever to do with the birthday present Silvia sent me:


Look! A handmade laptop bag!

The best part, however, is inside. So fuzzy! So snow-leopard-y! What a lucky laptop.

I'll cop to making a special request for a laptop bag (no, I wouldn't call it begging). Now I'll be off to the library in the highest style.

On the subject of birthdays, I think most people (certainly me) never imagined having one where the first number started with a "4". Gosh, I don't think I ever considered what it would be like to get any older than maybe, twenty-five. But, you know what? Its all good. The way I see things, today is the youngest I will ever be again, so that in itself is fuel for the celebration.

Although, I'm hoping the rest of the fuel for the celebration will be one enormous Grey Goose Cosmo. ;-)

Thanks for all the birthday wishes! It makes the day a really special one.

November 15, 2005

The Man Behind the Curtain

Generally, I like to avoid showing the technical effort behind this blog. No, not the knitting or spinning effort. But the computer geek (said with love) stuff that is pretty essential to this mode of communicating that you and I use.

So, pardon me for geeking.

My host had a catastrophic server failure, resulting in this blog's non-existence for most of today. When the server came back on-line, it came back circa October 25th -- the server-people's last tape backup. Now, in a blog such as this one which I try to update on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule, that's alot of posting that got wiped.

I use Blogger to post here. My posts don't actually "live" on my server, but on Blogger's server somewhere. Today, that was lucky for me. Because all I had to do to get up and running was to republish my site. (Them's that know Blogger, also know that this is easier said than done, but I digress.)

But unlucky for me, I was getting good and ready to launch this blog using the Movable Type 3.2 platform. The new site was close to finished, when the Server Failure ate it, or alot of it.

What's the point of this?, you ask. Well, two of them. First, a question to all you Movable Type gods and goddesses out there. How do you backup your templates and your posts? Cause, its crystal clear to me that when you choose MT, you choose to take care of these housekeeping chores all by your lonesome. No Blogger fool-proof-ness built right in, that's for darn sure.

The second point is to ask those of you not on Blogger or Typepad, "when's the last time you backed up your blog??" Had I lost weeks worth of posts FOREVER, there would have been wailing and screeching over here audible clear across the globe.

Those of you with a safe and intact Blog, go give it a hug.

November 12, 2005

Supreme Genius! YEAH!

Anything that refers to my "supreme genius" is SO getting on this blog.

Your Birthdate: December 1
You are a natural born leader, even if those leadership talents haven't been developed yet.
You have the power and self confidence to succeed in life, and your power grows daily.
Besides power, you also have a great deal of creativity that enables you to innovate instead of fail.
You are a visionary, seeing the big picture instead of all of the trivial little details.

Your strength: Your supreme genius

Your weakness: Your inappropriate sensitivity

Your power color: Gold

Your power symbol: Star

Your power month: January
What Does Your Birth Date Mean?

November 03, 2005

Probably the First Meme.....

......that you've seen on this here blog. Cause its about KNITTING and pretty much that's what we talk about, aye?

Knitting Meme, courtesy of Carolyn.

What is your all-time favorite yarn to knit with?

My all-time favorite yarn to knit with is my own handspun. Now, when I started spinning I had NO INTENTION of actually using home-made looking crapola to knit garments with. I got sucked into spinning for its own sake --- ooooo, watch the spinning spindle, turn fuzz into yarn, buy more fuzz.....you know. No siree, Bob, I liked me the yarn store yarn. Nicely packaged into balls. All neat and tidy. But a funny thing happened between then and now. The yarn that I make is MY YARN, DAMN IT. No-one else can go out and buy the same exact thing. It has a life and character that no mass-market yarn can achieve. A sentiment that I roundly hmmphed at In The Beginning. Just goes to show, how smugness can smack you in the ass.

Now, don't get me wrong. Me loves my fancy yarn-store yarn. Rowan All Season's Cotton and Magpie Aran Tweed pop to mind as yarn that I might do bad things to score, should the need arise. But handspun, baby. Gotta love it.

Your favorite needles?

No freakin' contest. Addi Turbo circular needles rule. I use them for everything except the Crystal Palace Bamboo DPN's that I use to knit socks with. Yeah, I'll grant that some folks might rightly think that certain yarns might knit up best on plastic or bamboo needles. But the only needles that get used here are Addis. Full stop, end of story.

The worst thing you've ever knit?

Oh my gosh, so much from which to choose. The 1980's weren't a particular auspicious time for the budding knitter, and many travesties of knitting resulted. Was it the sickly yellow, oversized, drop-shouldered pullover done entirely in brioche stitch that made me look like the Michelin Man? Or the dark pink, fuzzy mohair, boat neck pullover that I made before realizing that I was twisting all my purl stitches? Or the oversize, drop-shouldered white-mohair-with-giant-magenta-and-blue-intarsia-plaid-pattern that I knit in an unairconditioned Georgetown townhouse during my junior-year-summer internship in D.C.? You know, upon reflection I'll pick that last one. Its still in my closet, as a reminder of my knitting fallibility. There will be no pictures.**

Your most favourite knit pattern? (maybe you don't like wearing it...but it was the most fun to knit)
Rogue, cardi version. So nice I made it twice.

Most valuable knitting technique?

Hmmmm. Well, I'll share my biggest knitting breakthrough in the last little while. Avoiding rowing-out by compensating for my loose purling in stockinette stitch by using a one-size-smaller needle for the purl rows.

Best knit book or magazine?

While I have a deep fondness for Elizabeth Zimmerman's "Knitting Without Tears", and a hearty respect for Montse Stanley's "The Knitters Handbook", I would pick Barbara Walker's First and Second Stitch Treasuries as Best Book(s) at Claudia's Blog. If you don't own these, well run right out and purchase them. Pretty much every stitch you will ever need for the rest of your knitting life is in here. What more could you really ask for?

Your favourite knit-a-long?

I don't actually participate in many of these. No real reason, other than not being all that much of a joiner.

Your favourite knitblogs?

Goodness, that's rather a loaded question. My Bloglines has 98 feeds, plus two of my favorite girls who refuse to feed. I try to keep up with all 100 and enjoy them for different reasons. Breathtaking knitting risks: Grumperina. Unapologetic snark: girlreaction carolyn. Frenchy style and painstaking finishing: Fluffa. Igor's favorite: Wendy. Side-splitting laughs: Harlot and Crazy Aunt Purl. My personal knitting benchmark: my darling sister. Rampant creativity: Bonne Marie. Oh my god, I could go on and on listing all the blogs of my friends that I click on the second I see they've updated. But there is no more scotch in the glass, just melting ice. A signal to move on.

Your favourite knitwear designer?

Its Jenna. Her patterns speak to me. Unsurprising, that.

The knit item you wear the most? (how about a picture of it!)

A total tie between my two Rogues and my green, handspun Ribby Cardi. I live in these sweaters all winter and love them love them love them.

Hey, thanks to all of you who kept coming back here despite the slow loading times these past few weeks. I sincerely appreciate it and apologize for making you wait. Waiting. Bah!


**And people wonder about my ambivalence towards mohair....

November 02, 2005

Technical Difficulties

If you are a Safari user and are having big problems loading this blog, or if you use another browser and are experiencing big delays, could you please email me at the address in the left margin? Thanks.

There is knitting here, but the post-vacation re-entry thing is not pretty. Bear with me, my friends.

EDITED TO ADD: Instead of knitting tonight, I've been messing with the blog and may have found and destroyed the script in my sidebar that was the culprit. If things have improved loading-wise for you, leave me a comment or send me an email. Fingers crossed that my protozoan webmistress skills have risen to the occasion.......

October 09, 2005

Claudia's Top Ten Tips

While I wait for the Silk Corset to come out of its bath and tell me whether or not Gauge Has Screwed Me Again, I decided to write up Claudia's Top Ten Knitting Tips.

I figured typing this would keep me from nail-biting at this stressful time.

Claudia's Top Ten

10. If you are measuring the length of a knitted item on your lap or on the floor of the passenger side of a car, do not think for one single second that this measurement is correct.

9. Beware of knitting something to the specifications of someone else. No matter how much you love that person. Accept that the project will take way longer than you thought, and be twice as big a pain in the ass as you anticipated.

8. Know what colors look good on you and what shapes work with your body. Forgive yourself the first sweater project whose color or shape doesn't flatter you. Just don't make a second one with the same issue.

7. (Ripped off in substance from Bonne Marie) If you even half-suspect for one moment that the thing you've just made is hinky, it IS hinky. Rip out or fix accordingly. You won't ever wear it the way it is. You think you will. But you won't.

6. If you make a mistake in knitting, no-one dies or goes to jail. Therefore, be bold! Design something, tweak a pattern, try a new technique. Life is short -- seize the moment.

5. Never rip out after midnight. Nothing good can come of this.

4. Baste the damn sweater pieces together before sewing up for real and TRY IT ON! Seriously, why spend hours meticulously mattress stitching your latest project together without first assuring yourself that it's the right size? Unless, of course, you've got all the time in the world and don't frustrate easily, or you really don't care about the. right. size.

3. The knitting police are dead. There is no one right way to do ANYTHING in knitting. Prepare a one fingered salute to those who might give you a hard time for doing something your way.

2. Never believe a gauge swatch. Gauge swatches lie. They *so* do. Remain suspicious of gauge all the way through the project, but definitely make sure to check gauge again after knitting the first piece. Starting this process of gauge-warfare with a sleeve is the least painful option.

And.....drum roll please.....Claudia's Number One Knitting Tip is:

1. If you wouldn't buy that sweater ready-made at the T.J. Maxx, you've got no business knitting it. Back away from the knitting pattern, so matter how fun it looks to knit.

There ya go. Discuss amongst yourselves. I have to go fish some silk out of the washer.....

August 24, 2005

Brain Dump

Today, people, you get the truly random thoughts rattling around in my head -- only lightly edited. Read on at your peril.

-- Why do people keep suggesting in comments and otherwise that folks dye a finished garment? Seriously, have they ever actually tried this? If so, alright. But I've tried to execute some challenging fiberly tricks in my lifetime and nothing has consistently disappointed me so much and so completely as plunking an entire knitted sweater into a dye pot in the hope that non-splotchy wearable color will result. Just sayin'.

-- I tried to take an Igor picture for todays post (cause I got nuthin') but he totally dissed me and won't pose. Damn. Perhaps I need to call on Lucy to give him a serious talking-to.

-- Wait, here is a marginal picture of decadent cashmere that Helen recently sent me.



The ultimate in fiber crack. Right here baby.

Helen retails for these folks and this is no question the finest handspinning cashmere I've ever felt. For some reason, I've spun and given away every bit of cashmere I've ever spun. This here 5 oz. lot is for me me me.

-- Why is it that Amber works for literally weeks in my hometown (in which I've lived for twelve years) yet she immediately locates and takes me to a killer-good Vietnamese restaurant in town which I'd never even heard of? Am I really that lame? Don't answer that.

-- For folks interested in dyeing supplies, there are two really good on-line vendors for dyes for wool and dyes for cotton/plant fibers. These are ProChem and Dharma Trading. The dyes I've chosen to work with are Sabracron F dyes. I like the colors, and the same dye will color wool (with heat and acid) and cotton/plant fibers (with soda ash and cold batching). I also like Lanaset/Sabraset dyes. These colors are more muted and subtle than the brighter, showier colors that Sabracron dyes produce.

-- If the weather holds tonight, the Claudia's Blog tandem team will attempt to beat our previous personal best of 24 minutes and 24.36 MPH in a 9.75 mile time trial. GO TEAM!

-- There is a looming threat of running out of yarn on Hopeful. If there are particular rituals that I should perform to appease the Knitting Goddess, please so inform me.

-- That's it. Please talk amongst yourselves.

August 22, 2005

Someone Needs A Weekend From Her Weekend

To start off our Monday, here's a Jeopardy question:

Answer: "Never".

Question: "When is the last time Claudia got home at 2:38 AM from a concert?"

Seriously, partying takes alot of stamina. My suspicion is that I'm too old for this.

So, we had just pulled into the parking lot and were setting up the tailgate prior to the Allman Brothers show, when a car pulls up next to us and a hippie boy and girl pop out with a load of tie-dyed shirts to sell. Now, number one the fact that barely twenty-something hippie boys and girls even EXIST makes me inordinately happy. And, number two I just love shopping out of car trunks in concert parking lots. Love it.


Is anyone out there surprised that I picked this one?

I am, however, picky about my dyed goods. Didn't plunk down my money until after a heart-to-heart discussion with Hippie Girl about the dyes they used. Turns out they use Procion dyes from Dharma Trading, a great source for tie-dyers everywhere.

The best part, is this newest acquisition looks great with the last thing I bought in a parking lot.

Now as a public service, I bring you a cocktail recipe originated by Helen and named last night at my house by my grateful bookgroup.

The Lime-tini

Take 1 can Minute Maid Limeade (or any frozen concentrated limeade) and dump into blender.

Take 1 bottle of Grey Goose vodka and fill the now-empty limeade container up to where the black part of the Minutemaid container stops (Somewhat more than half a can full).** Dump into blender.

Fill blender to the top with crushed ice. Whirwhirwhir.

Pour. Drink. Repeat.

This would also be delicious with a can of frozen lemonade concentrate.

Just sayin'.


**Thanks Fireballhead Kim for this outstanding measuring suggestion!

March 12, 2004

Someone's A Birthday Girl!

Who is having a Friday birthday? Why its my lovely sister Silvia!

Cake anyone?

Go on over and wish her a happy day. Maybe if we're lucky she'll show off her fabulous pressies.

P.S. The zipper came! Thanks for the excellent zipper karma.