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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Frozen Nostrils







Arrived in MI on a cold winter night of 8 degrees. With the windchill it could have been 20 below. With the first intake of breath, my nostrils froze together! I remember this. Invigorating! As I entered the car rental office the heat blasted me in the face, my nostrils melted open , I inhaled and everything in my nose began to run, to my horror! This was the beginning of the terminal sniffles. I do not have a cold- I have "the" cold. Where are the Kleenex? It is the first thing I reach for when I enter a building and begin to defrost. It is all coming back to me. It snowed a light dusting each day and I found the cold to be delightful. Knowing you will soon leave it makes it ever so much more charming. The Detroit river was frozen and closed to freighter activity. The view of the bridge lights doubled by the icy reflection is best viewed with a steamy cup of tea and a lap full of warm yarn. Yes, I miss the cold that necessitates a lap full of knitting and the inevitable afghan that resulted.




The next few days were a flurry of elder visits with my Aunt Marion, Grandma Helena and Papa Roy. Sunday was the baby shower for Rachael and Jeff. The future little boy Wenskay is being well incubated by his beautiful mother. She impressed me by opening gifts from almost 90 people while running around greeting, eating and meeting with 4 inch high heels on her petite feet! It pays to be pregnant in the frigid months, when everything stays contracted in an effort to remain warm. I forgot to photograph the hand knit gifts before I wrapped and delivered them. A blue sweater and hat, blue blanket, baptism sweater and assorted bibs with matching outfits purchased at the store.




Monday morning found me motoring up the freeway, north to the winter wonderland that stirs my heart. I pass over the Zilwaulkee Bridge and my pulse quickens. Civilization still lurks. It is north of West Branch (with the most wicked speed traps) where I truly come alive in my roots and love affair with my home state. The traffic thins to nothing, by CA standards. A 2 lane north boud interstate with deep woods, blue skies and rolling hills as far as the eye can see. I know that water in the form of lakes is never more than a mile in any direction. I am heading to Boyne City. Aunt Lois awaits with the best home cooking and an open bottle of wine. Good stories and lively conversation are guaranteed.




I am updating via her emachine. It is cool , but I can't figure out how to download photos. Heather where are you? Tomorrow I head south to Traverse City to visit Deb. The weather is predicting a massive blizzard (their words) to begin this evening and into tomorrow. Driving down will be harder than the trip up. Imagine this, CA people, I drove 250 miles in under 4 hours with 2 stops at both Starbucks I saw. I am having skinny vanilla latte withdrawal! You know that with 5-7 lanes it sometimes takes an hour to cover 20 miles.




Tomorrow I will set out like an explorer. I will be stocked with food and drink, a bag of kitty litter for traction, plenty of windshield wiper fluid, essential ice scraper and a full tank of gas. God help me to stay on the road and behind a snowplow.




Have fun at knitwits without me and stay tuned for photos of my beautiful finished Alpaca sweater. I love it. The next UFO is waiting at home and it will be a challenge. A blue linen and silk lacy vest started last year and set aside when I screwed up the decreases and frogged more times than I could handle. Off to the basket of forgotten projects. I am off to the buffalo liver dinner with roasted root vegetables. You can take the girl out of MI, but you can't take the MI out of the girl...

Monday, January 21, 2008

Book Without End


Surely, Ken Follett knew that his book would be called this. I started to read in earnest last night. Today I am at page 761 of 1014 pages. World Without End is engaging- but I should have put my name on the wait list at the library for the audio version. This is my recommendation to you-unless you have an immaculate home, a cook that shops and a laundress. Oh- I just described most of my male friends! I have neglected everything and will finish this tome by 2 am.

Life and my schedule will resume full blast tomorrow. Schedule without end. Sweater is not done. MI trip is looming and I am not ready. This new year is in it's early morning phase and I have already slept in. So much for resolutions...

Friday, January 18, 2008

No Time For My Sweater


Knitwits was fun on Wednesday with approximately 20 ladies all a buzz for our knit-along (KAL) scheduled to begin Feb 6th. We are going to do the Design Source pattern called Four Seasons Throw. It is knit in Manos del Uruguay Wool. It features a 12 square design with each square a different stitch pattern. We will focus on one square per month and everyone is welcome to make as many squares each month as they desire. I plan to make mine in a winter white as a wedding gift for a dear niece. Because I have so many other WIP's I will be lucky to complete one or two squares per month. You can work at your own speed if you chose to join us.It will be fun and we will post photos along the way. One ball of Manos is approximately 138 yds. Each square requires one ball. Come play with us!

I have not finished my pretty sweater. There were students in need on Wednesday night. By the time I got to my own knitting, I decided to have my one glass of wine. I have extended my deadline to one week. That means by Monday. Stay tuned.

My last post directed you to a site with a beautiful video of an autistic child. Her mother penned captions that spoke my heart. We need to stop judging each other. I did not raise my child to be "institutionalized" or feel any relief when he was placed. I too, planned to cure him with hard work,medical intervention, therapy, diet, early intervention, the best schools, and PRAYER. Do you know one of my friends, a pastors wife, once asked me if I had ever prayed for Ryan to be healed? I didn't even hit her. We don't keep in touch.

God healed me instead of Ryan. He has been so much fun lately. Every milestone with him is so sweet. Thanks to all of you for the love and acceptance afforded to our family. What kind of world do you want? The kind full of love...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Autism Speaks to me

Hi everyone-Listen to this:
The band, Five for Fighting, is generously donating
$0.49 to Autism Speaks for *each time* the video is viewed . The funding
goes toward research studies to help find a cure. When you have a moment,
please visit the link below to watch the video and pass it along to your
friends and family. They are aiming for 10,000 hits, but hopefully we can
help them to surpass this goal. Click on link to view.

www.whatkindofworlddoyouwant.com

Monday, January 14, 2008

Missed the point-But hit the mark!




This 2008 is going by too fast. I have such great intentions. Organize, simplify, gratify and frugalize. I'm pretty sure that last one is not a real word. As with all great intentions, there are detours along the way.

I have found my next UFO to complete. You see it pictured above. This one is a beauty. Classic Elite Alpaca DK that feels yummy. It was the Olympic challenge sweater that I started 2 years ago during the winter games. Again, as you can see from the photo it is 90% knit. I am convinced that I quit this one because the collar is finished with a sweet crochet accent. All who know me, know that I am the worse crocheter in the world of wool. Chain stitch, and a reluctant crab stitch, under duress. I set the goal on this one as a real challenge. Finish by Wednesday for show and tell at Knitwits. Heather has promised to teach me the stitch to complete the neckline. I have the skirt I bought to "go with" hanging in the closet. Now I have the perfect shoes to pull the whole look together. Stay tuned.

So the point is- use up the stash. I am going to repeat this. Use up the STASH. My stash is full of such beautiful stuff. Another way to say this is- DO NOT BUY ANYMORE YARN! So much easier to say, believe in, and promote, than practice. I wanted to look at the Manos del Uruguay at the LYS for an upcoming knit along. (More on that later.) The Manos was there and a washable substitute by Debbie Bliss. Dependable well known yarn friends.On the shelf sat a new and beautiful friend. Manos has a new silk and merino wool blend that is a fine DK weight in the prettiest colors. If you get a chance to feel it- please give it a squeeze. I bought just one skein (after a lot of self talk) and a pattern book that I have been coveting. This is a score. My goal is to complete enough projects to justify a "sweaters" worth of this yarn. How many projects? You tell me and I will take your responses under advisement...

Sunday, January 13, 2008

On A Roll




No, I am not referring to the roll of stomach fat that I rest my computer on, as I type. Nor, the fact that the roll exists due to the long lost love affair that was renewed over the holidays with all things carbohydrate. A thick slice of panetonne (with butter) in the panini grill, makes the best toast you have ever had. The cup of tea to go with is an excellent warming agent for the long winter nights. It has been "frost on the pastures" cold here. So cold in fact, that the Mr. gets up, closes the doggie door and hops in a hot shower. This wakes the dog and she in turn arises to do her business in the house because her exit is locked shut. Fast forward to my awakening sometime later and having to clean the nasty business up before my coffee is brewed. If you called in the early hours and found me crappier, I mean crabbier than normal- now you know why.

When it gets cold in the house, many of my friends love to bake bread or make a nice roast for dinner. I make a pot of homemade soup every week and will find excuses to use the oven. The cold stimulates my knitting mojo too. Unfortunately, the calories expended knitting do not compensate for the carb consumption. You do the math: rolls = rolls.

It has been so cold that the idea of taking a shower remains just that some days. The PRN shower works because my level of activity is so low- I do not get dirty. A hibernation theory. My skinny friends tell me that they jump up and run around or exercise until they warm up all the way to sweaty! My motor is running, my mind and needles are flying, but my butt does not leave this couch.

It is a virtual aerobics program. Be sure to drink plenty of water if you do embark on this program. At least you will get up to go potty regularly. Do not consult your doctor and tell him about virtual aerobics, unless you are interested in a psych referral. I was going to post a photo of a fat belly for a laugh- but it dawned on me- someone might think it was my fat belly- not a stock photo from the web. Discretion is the better part of valor. Say thank you!

As you can see, I finished the #1 UFO sweater. In record time, no less. 4 days. It feels good to be done and see it folded in a drawer. It turned out nice and soft. It is a slubby wool and rayon tweed from Germany. I found the yarn receipt which shows I started it 5 years ago. With blocking it fits me well enough that I plan to shrink into it by Springs arrival. It is a cropped style and requires a little less hip than I now feature. I am actively in search of a suitable #2 UFO. I haven't decided yet which project to pursue. Garment or accessory? Simple or complex? Fortunately, the knitting for the new baby is done and the shower is at the end of the month in MI. I will wait to take photos in case the new mom is looking.

I am experiencing knitters conflict. I have books stacked up to read and they are gnawing at my read need. I am into 2 right now. "1000 Splendid Nights" for book club and the new Ken Follett sequel to "Pillars of the Earth" called "World Without End." It is over a thousand pages and too heavy to take on the plane. I must finish it this week and return it to my friend.

It is the middle of January. How did that happen? Brynn's trip to Africa has been canceled and we are praying that the people in service in Kenya will be safe. It is a desperate situation. Last night we watched "Blood Diamond" on Cinemax and I was grateful my girl would not be in the midst of danger. Prayers for peace. Prayers for safety. Prayers for love.

The past week has been busy with a planning meeting called for every committee and group that I belong to. You may think that a once a month commitment is no big deal. If you add enough of them to your schedule you will find your week full. Work resumed and 2 classes a week are it for me with Knitwits continuing strong in 2008. Our first meeting of the new year was Wednesday last and almost 20 ladies were back knitting and noshing. Life is as full as my schedule...

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

UFO Sightings



Today was the first meeting of the NCKG. The program was presented by past president, Colleen Davis. I have no idea how old Colleen is. Let's just say she is a grandmother. Not like most of the grandmothers stereotyped in our fertile imaginations. I know she is a phenomenal professional knitter, designer, teacher and organizer. I do not always love her work, she specializes in free form knitting, but like all art created- I don't have to love it to appreciate it. Today her program was on combining fabric with knitting to create garments that are true designer originals. I was blown away. Every time she presents a program, I wonder why she doesn't sell her work. I would buy. Judiciously, yet surely. Her play on repeating geometric patterns from the fabric to the hand knit finishes was brilliant. Where does she find the time? Unfortunately, I could not stay after to photograph this work. I will when I can and will post.

I finished my busy day arriving at home with the groceries by 9pm. It was a late dinner for the boys and me. By the time things got squared away for the night it was 11pm. I poured a glass of Pinot Noir and leafed through some new knitting mags while watching the news and sorting the mail.

It got me to thinking about Colleen and the copious amounts of work she produces. I decided to review some of the UFO's that were actually just an arms length away from my well worn seat on this old couch. I cannot tell you exactly how many sweaters I have on needles that are 90% knit.It is a mystery to me why I seem to stop short of the finish line so often. (Not just in knitting.) Where are the Psychologist when you need them?

So weirdly enough, at 12:20 this am, I picked up where I left off 3 years ago and promise to finish this sweater in a week. Way back then I optimistically bought earrings and slacks to go with this sweater. The back, 2 fronts and 80% of both sleeves are done. It is reasonable timing. I mean finish. Buttons and all. So, to hold me accountable, here is a photo of the tweed wool that I still love. Unfortunately, my size has increased in the last few years, so this may have to be a gift - any takers?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Justin In The Kitchen


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Friends for life- sounds like a prison sentence. When you know someone for 41 years, you have a history. Deb, my husband and I met in 7th grade. We married and raised children together and spent our first 40 years on earth within a 10 mile radius of each other. Our babies played together and we know many of each others secrets. These are the ties that bind. We have lived, laughed, cried, loved and lost together. I am moved, as I record this, by all that our friendship has encompassed.

We did more of the same this holiday season. I want to post the photos that encapsulate the visit. Justine is heading to the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in February. I believe he is the next Top Chef. Stay tuned. Eat, drink and make merry. We know how. Sasha and Brynn raise a glass, while Don and Adam take home trophies for their napping abilities! Karaoke reigns supreme at Casa Wenskay. Ryan serenades Sasha and all is well with the world...

Consumable Christmas



















A blanket thank you to everyone that gifted our family this year beyond the blessing of your friendship and love. Right back at you all.


With that said, here is a photo of the new knitting gifts I am loving best. My project tote and the inter-changeable Options needles from KnitPicks. These two are calorie free and will help me work off the extra weight created by the wine, Kansas City prime rib, sweets and goodies we received. Did you know that Sees peanut brittle is addictive and should come with a warning or free pass to rehab?

I had to show you the magnet Heather found back in PA for me. It says, "Stop me before I volunteer again!" I love the whole vintage revisited line. You can see it at via my linkage. It is worth a visit for a good chuckle. Enjoy...

Found Inspiration





I find knitting inspiration all around me. I encourage you to do the same. One of the best stores in the nation for inspiration and support of the craft of hand knit fashion, (at exorbitant prices), is Antropologie. If you cannot afford to shop there, you can afford to browse there. We first visited the store in Philadelphia a few years ago on the " 9 Thousand Mile Road Trip." That is their flagship store and Chelsea Clinton was in the house that day. At least one of the buyers must be a knitter. Sign up to get their catalog and use it like a pattern book for young and hip knits.

This year for all Christmas gift purchases, the gift wrap included a box, tissue and the coolest yarn tie on "pom-pom bow." Just one look and I had to have some for scarf ends. It may not be too late to go into your local store and ask if they have any left over and if they will sell them to you? Of course, they will just give them to you, especially if you are making a purchase. So, with that in mind here is the pattern. This pattern was devised from studying a scarf that was sold last year in the same store. It was knit in 3 colors with a nice long tassel or fringe. Steezy and I agreed it would work nicely for this project.

With size 11, 29" circular needles cast on 130 sts. Use a chunky weight yarn with body. Try to leave a 12 inch tail to use later to sew on the pom-pom ball. Now K2, P2. Continue in 2x2 Rib pattern until piece measures 8 inches. Bind off in rib pattern loosely. This is important so that the scarf does not curl up on one side. Leave a 12 inch tail. Thread a tapestry needle with the tail, gather the last row and stitch through the pom several times to securely attach to each end of the scarf. TA DA! My college girl is modeling it and has ordered one for her scarf wardrobe ASAP...

Christmas Deliveries






I gave yarn to Christine for Christmas. She has so many allergies that I have learned not to knit for her unless she approves the yarn. While on a field trip to the Grove in San Diego with some fellow knitwits, I found some perfect creamy organic cotton and a silk/cotton blend in teal. She approved my purchase at dinner on Christmas.

Fast forward to New Year's day. I found myself with some "me" time and got to work. The teal color was so rich and smart, it called my name. These are one skein wonders so I just knit them in patterns of my own making. Simple and easy. I used size 11 needles. Cast on 20 sts. K 9 rows. Next row: K1, YO, K2tog. Repeat to end of row, (lace row). Knit 2 rows. Repeat these 3 rows for lace pattern. When you are near the end of the skein finish with nine rows of knitting following your last lace row. Bind off. Block with a nice steam to set and finish.

Helpful hint for using all of the skein with out guessing. I like to find the end of the skein and take the yarn from the end and wrap it around the needle 20 times(one for each st cast on), nine times. You can tie a slip knot here and drop the yardage into a baggie. This is what you will need to finish your last nine rows. You are now free to knit to the slip knot in your pattern. No yarn wasted by finishing too soon, or even worse- running out of yarn. See the WIP and the finished project. It was fun and fast.

Alone At Last


Almost alone. Steezy is chewing a hand towel on the sofa next to me. I am getting back to normal slowly, but surely. Yesterday I finished 78 more "New Year/Christmas" cards and need to go have more photos printed and head to the post office for stamps. Turns out I have six packages to mail off that are remnants left behind by house guests. This is progress?

We had such a violent storm yesterday. It sounded like a twister. No damage-but I never sleep when the rain is whipping and the wind is gusting. We are intact, with minor roof leaks the only fallout. The skies are still rolling with heavy clouds. This weather is not over, so I better be on time for school pick up!

I have lots of pictures to share. Part of getting on track is updating this blog regularly. I have knitting photos to share and the free patterns that go with. I have completed 8 squares for the Afghans for Fire victims project. Our LYS, Common Threads, is sponsoring this worthy cause. It is on my list of to dos for today. So, I must post and run...

Thursday, January 3, 2008

New Year Changes in Hyper Overdrive

Happy New Year. The company is almost gone. The decorations are strewn all over the house in a half put away disarray that lends a warehouse quality to the home. Casa de Messa. Maybe tomorrow we can clear the chaos.

The college girls seem to ebb and flow like the local tides. Last night we took 4 of them out for dinner. These "kids" are always so grateful to be treated to a meal on Daddy's dime. It is worth it to see them enjoy the food when it is free and their choices are endless. That is a simple pleasure for parents. There is no food snobbery in a hungry college kid. I personally enjoy food prepared by others for me. It is such a treat to be served. Gourmet is not necessary, just appreciated. Sigh. I have done a lot of cooking and cleaning lately.

It is the 3rd day of the New Year. Last night, we received the news that Aunt Jane passed away in MI. She had just shoveled the snowfall off of her new car and sat down at the wheel when she was felled by a massive stroke. No suffering- and onward to her heavenly home. She was 83 and lived a good life. We celebrate her home.

I spent my lunch hour with a table of good friends celebrating a Birthday that often gets overlooked due to the proximity to New Year's parties. We were all deconstructing our holiday events. The good, the bad and the ugly. Next year I will lobby strongly for a hot weather, island getaway.