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Saturday, February 23, 2008

Knitalong Starts Strong

Knitwits has officially begun our Four Seasons Knit quilt. 12 squares knit over 12 months. We finish with blocking and seaming a beautiful finished quilt/afghan for Christmas. We started with square one Wednesday evening. My over achievers are at the front of the pack with as many as 5 squares completed. Every class has the students that work ahead. Everyone else mastered the 4 row repeat pattern and are on their way to making a thing of beauty. The majority of knitters are using the Manos wool the pattern calls for. It is magnificent. Thanks to NobleKnits for the deal for our bulk orders. Even the gals that chose different yarn are achieving good results. This will be a fun project. I will make 2. One for my home in the color Brick. The other is winter white and a wedding gift for our cousin Laura and her fiancee, Roy. We will attend their wedding in Puerto Vallarta this June. I will mail the completed quilt to their home in Chicago.

I spent my Christmas gift certificate from my daughter at our LYS the Black Sheep. I had run out of yarn with four rows to go while working on another moebius cowl. The yarn I started with was a lovely hand spun, hand-dyed wool and silk yarn I bought in Mystic, CT during the 9K road trip a few years past. It feels like luxury. So, I found a complementary yarn to finish off the border. It worked. I am addicted to making these moebius cowls. So much fun. Everyone will be getting one for Christmas 2008.

It has been perfect knitting weather. Rain, cold and a little more rain for good measure. The roof lets the rain in to visit us periodically. I am trying to be philosophical about it all. We need the rain. The sun dries out our wood quickly. I don't need to entertain or clean the house with all of the disarray caused by all of the pots and bowls in use. The look of winter in CA, when it has been wet- is green with blooms. It is a sight that most of the country would define as Spring. Verdant. Especially as the sun is setting and the light is gold and pink bouncing off the green hills.

Monday, February 18, 2008

That's Real Life, Baby!

It is the last hours of a 4 day mini vacation for my kids in honor of Presidents Day. My oldest is home for a 2 night, 3 day visit from the group home. It means so much to him to stay longer than overnight. Even with his limited understanding of time, 36 hours is too short to qualify as "every other weekend" at home. We called the relatives on his list. We napped. I read a good book- Ann Patchett's novel - "Run." It was a quick and thoughtful read. I cleaned a huge closet. I dragged out some of my yarn stash and reorganized. Thirty six hours can really drag on.

In keeping with the Presidential theme, we all 4 went to the local cinema to see "National Treasure" with Nick Cage. A good family-friendly adventure film. I was the lone female with 3 men plotting our own version of espionage and subterfuge

In order to allow Ryan to believe he was going on an outing with his younger brother, independent of parental supervision, we staged an event. We dropped the boys off at the theater with money and a cell phone. Parked the car, waited 20 minutes and bought our tickets for the same film. We waited for the previews to screen. When the lights dimmed for the feature film we slid into our seats. Now we were officially "shadowing" the kids.

In the event of any behaviors we were just a heartbeat away. Ryan was so quiet, we wondered if they were in the same theater. As the final scene played out- their Dad whispered "Let's go!" and we made a mad dash to the car. Running out of that 15 screen cineplex on wobbly legs, laughing like delinquents was a sight to behold. We pulled up outside the box office to pick them up. Thinking we had been out for cocktails at the local pub, Ryan asked us- how was our date? We let him know we had a great time, and hoped they had enjoyed the movie!

We have staged events like this throughout Ryan's life. Many times to monitor behaviors in situations where he will be in the care of someone new. His sister and his brother both need to know that if they accept responsibility for him in a public place, that they will be able to deal with him. We also have staged events to make Ryan feel happy and included in our lives.

One of my favorites was the first time we staged the "Happy Homecoming". College girl left home in 2004. Whenever possible, we try to fly her home from school during her breaks. Ryan loves the airport and travel as much as his mommy does. We both get a rush just getting near to jets. Ryan also has a crush on his big sister. He likes to be home when she visits and monopolize her time. This made for tension during school breaks. She needed a few days with her friends before she surrendered to her brother.Now we routinely have Sister fly in for up to a week of local socializing. When she is ready for Ryan, I drop her off at the airport with an empty suitcase and backpack. She buys a Starbuck and strolls around or sits and reads while I run over to the group home. I pick up Ryan and we go (Back) to pick her up at the airport. She calls us on the cell phone to tell us she has arrived and what gate exit she is at. I pull up, Ryan jumps out and greets his sister with all of the pomp and circumstance befitting the royalty that she is. I get the pleasure of watching. Pure joy.

I have three children. My first one nobody wanted to be friends with.
My second one picks her friends carefully and holds them to the highest standards.
My third is the kid everybody wants to sit next to. Everybody wants to be his friend.

#1 broke my heart.
#2 reminds me of myself.
#3 has created more trouble for himself over friendship, than I could have imagined.

In elementary school, Moms would call and tell me they were requesting a certain teacher. This is a practice I do not believe in. I want my children to learn to get along with authority figures that they don't like, and more importantly that may not like my kid. That's real life, baby!

To remedy their lack of control- some of those moms would request that their child be in the same class as young Master Wenskay? All good, until on the same form they would write the names of children that their kids should not be paired with under any circumstances. Inevitably, a clash would occur. Today is one of those days. Evan is off to spend time recording CD's with a less popular kid. They share an interest in music. The skate board friends are not amused. The mutual friend from Math class can't be included for some other crazy teen reason? The girlfriend is jealous of all competition. At least we seem to have gotten past the point of parental intervention . Evan is blessed/cursed with a personality that makes him fit in with most groups in an easy way. Easy going Evan. Like his Dad, he takes real life in stride...both are the babies of their families? Ummmm.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Breath Taking

See for yourself the beauty of youth.

Make Due With What We Have - Gratefully

According to Dr. Oz, Oprah's health guru, antioxidants are the fountain of youth. He prescribes red wine, dark colored vegetables, sleep and sex. Oh, Dr. Oz. Oh, Oprah. Oh, my health. I have taken my medicine like a good girl. I embrace the truth of the fine doctor on TV. But, I still find myself tired and feeling lazy. I'm pretty sure I look my age, and the fight with the scales will be everlasting on this earth. This discussion is inspired by my internal struggle to get up and go for a walk with the dog. She would love it, the weather is warm and sunny, I have an hour before I have to start running around. Instead, I blog. The red wine at Craft night last night was perhaps served in doses that exceed the prescription of one glass a day?

My shoulder is sore. Yesterday, I knit an entire moebius cowl (designed by Cat Bordhi) and available as a free download at I want to be knitting another one right now. It was fun to meet the challenge of learning the moebius cast on. Thank you Lisa Limber. You are a fine teacher. I want to make several more in beautiful yarns with nice drape. The GGH Aspen that I used was a tad too bulky and plain. It is an excellent yarn to use when trying new techniques due to the light neutral color and weight. Every detail is easy to define. The stitches stand out, mistakes and all. I cannot emphasis enough how much fun it is to continue to learn new knitting techniques. This old dog just loves it. I also finished a mohair/cotton blend gaiter. I am playing with lace patterns for fun. I would love to teach a lace class. When you create something with a pretty and seemingly complex pattern, it is very gratifying.

I have found an unfinished sweater that I quit on due to insufficient yarn purchased. You know you've done the same. It will be my next UFO to complete. I could search for more yarn to purchase on the internet. I am sure there is some out there. Instead I am going to redesign the sweater into a cap sleeve t-shirt and make due with what I have. This also is necessary since there is no pattern with the UFO and I do not remember where or what the pattern was?

I have postponed the Melissa Leapman project because I can't find all of the pieces and the remaining yarn. Nothing in this house is in it's place. I have filled up the places for everything. I must take some time to organize the stash and all of the rest. My goal is to find it in time for the classes I take with her. Perhaps I can get some tips from the designer herself. Another knitting rock star. I know, I am demented...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Go Kim

Just a shout out to niece Kim. Trader Joe's has hired a gem. Love your flat too! We are proud of you. Grosse Point is one lucky place to score both you and the best grocery store in the world, all in the same week. Set the alarm and take them by storm.

Be Careful What You Wish For

Thought you would enjoy the snow photos that follow the blog. No captions needed if you read backwards. Try to remember the Bridge photos from September with freighter traffic and the boat slip full of pleasure crafts. That's Aunt Lois at Boyne Mountain. The snow was just what I wanted. See what winter really looks like...

Knitting updates

My alpaca cardigan is finished. I wore it to Knitwits last night. I had to change into a t-shirt after an hour. It was too warm for the ball winding aerobics. We were winding as fast as we could and my swift started to act up. I had to postpone until next week. The gals with swifts and ball winders are bringing theirs next Wednesday for a winding festival. We all have Manos for our KAL that has to be turned into cakes.

Tuesday was knitting Guild. The Twisted Sisters baled out at the last minute and the program was sketchy. I wore my tweed cardigan to the meeting and I am happy to say it was comfy and soft all day long. Next month is a knitting rock star- Melissa Leapman. I will be taking her classes all day Thursday during the week of her visit. In honor of that visit- my next UFO is a vest of hers I started last year and put away in frustration over lace decreases. Pray for me...

Snow Woes Continue

MI is where I come from. I love that it is shaped like a hand knit mitten. I love that the ocean comes in second to swimming in the Great Lakes. I love how the entire population of the state gets in the car and goes "up north" whenever they can. In the summer it is to sun and swim. In the winter it is to ski and play in the snow. That constant state of movement is what makes so many of the folks from MI migrate to other places. We aren't afraid to.

Hold up your left hand. palm facing away from you. Just below your thumb joint is Dearborn. I started out there and headed north to the tip of your ring finger closest to your middle finger. Now I want to head south and west to the bay formed by the tip of your little finger. Traverse City Bay.

Thursday dawned sunny, so I resumed my road trip without any further delay. Rolled in to Deb's place in time for lunch and a happy reunion. On the way I crossed south of the 45th parallel and finally stopped to document that road sign.

The news was grim. The storm was heading to Detroit on Friday. The lower southeast section of the state would be closed down, including the airport. We met Tom for one of the best dinners ever (dreaming of the gnocchi) and debated the wisdom of driving through the night to make it back. Fortified with lots of strong coffee- I left. It was a white knuckle, white out, religious experience. There were 2 cars on the road south. The large gas tanker in front of me, and me. I did not look left or right. I kept my eyes and the wheels in his 2 tracks and stayed on his tail, just outside of his snow rooster tail. Sort of like water skiing? God gave me that truck. We went all the way downstate together. I pulled off to fill my empty gas tank and empty my full bladder. Arrived in Detroit at 4:30 am. The city only received about 3 inches and I had driven through the worst areas. I slept for a few hours and got the show on the road.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Going Nowhere Fast

I last left you in throes of planning my expedition to Traverse City. The temperature went from 45 degrees and rain, to 28 and snow. Fluffy and fast. By midnight, there was 4 inches on the ground.

By morning, there was a foot. State troopers closed several highways due to high winds with drifting snow. The schools were closed and the wind was wicked. A Snow Emergency had been declared. I watched the weather station continuously, ( a popular pastime in the snow belt) for any signs of abatement.

The sun broke through at lunch, so I decided at 1 pm to try shoveling out the car. The doors were frozen shut. A few whacks with the broom sorted that out. I put my back into the snow shovel and dug that Jeep loose. Aunt Lois watched with amusement as I packed and showered.

It was time to take a test run on the country lane to the 2 lane highway 1/4 mile up the hill. No problem driving, great traction and grip. Visibility was 20 feet or so. As I drove up the road, out of the hollow, the whiteout occurred. I could not see in any direction. As I stared and strained to see the road, a UPS truck appeared to my right from the swirl of white. The drifts were too high to make a turn around. I opened the driver door, put it in reverse and BACKED the car down the road and parked that sucker in the drift. I walked through the door and admitted defeat. Lois laughed and went to the freezer to thaw a roast for dinner. I brought in the next armful of wood and stoked the fire.

I pulled out a ball of yarn and cast on 130 stitches and began the K2, P2 scarf. Soon it would be time for a glass of wine and another delicious dinner. Local Buffalo provided the roast in the oven. Northern MI has many herds of Bison being raised for the meat. In the tradition of the American Indian, every part of the animal is to be used. The horns make buttons, the down is yarn, the hides are shelter and clothing, and the meat is lean and delicious. Lois plans to speak to the owner of the local herd to see if they harvest the down for yarn. It costs dearly and I have one precious skein in my stash. For an excellent discussion and review of Buffalo yarn please link to Knitters Review. My apologies to the vegetarians...