Friday, August 28, 2009

Is it Labor Day yet?

One of the cruelest things about the way the knitting design world works is that, because of the lead time necessary for publication, tons of deadlines for finished samples and patterns and articles fall throughout August. The very time that the kids are rammiest and need the most entertaining, the month that is perfect for vacations, the time (for me, at least) when the summer starts to seem all used up and I just want to lay around in the air conditioning and read escapist fiction but instead we have to go to Staples or Target and buy school supplies from absurdly-detailed lists ("four green paper folders with 2 pockets on the inside", "one clip-on pencil case" -- what on earth is a "clip-on pencil case"?).*

Yesterday I finished the last of 5 or 6 various projects that were all due over the course of August. I'd breathe a huge sigh of relief, except I still have so many things I want to do before the summer is over and, let's face it, I've pretty much run out of time.

Instead I will take solace in the fact that someone in the world is mightily productive. Check out Sandvik -- a gorgeous Faroese shawl by WendyKnits knit in.... Black Bunny Fibers laceweight! Isn't it gorgeous? A huge thanks to Wendy for creating such a lovely shawl in BBF yarn. (I've ordered more of that particular laceweight blend, if you're interested, although there is some great wool/silk laceweight in the BBF shop right now, called "Flutter.")

*I know I've complained about this before, but I just don't understand why all of a sudden, kids are expected to provide their own freakin' pencils for school. WTF? The amount of school taxes I pay and my kids have to bring in their own pencils? [Insert your favorite cranky "when I was a kid we walked ten miles to school, barefoot, in the snow, and there were always No. 2 pencils waiting for us at the one-room schoolhouse" speech here.]

UPDATE: Ha! I found at least 15 patterns listed on Ravelry for knitted or crocheted book covers!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Need to stash-bust: Iraqi Bundles of Love

If you happen to be a knitter or seamstress or quilter with extra stuff in the stash, please check out this blog. It's a great way to divest yourself of some yarn or fabric or half-used-up spools of thread in a color you'll never use again. It's also a nice way to put a human face on the American soldiers who are still in Iraq, trying to help out the regular citizens there, who've suffered so much. I'm getting together all my leftover Halloween costume scrap fabrics and doing a fabric bundle, and I'm also going to send a yarn bundle, maybe two. If you send a package, leave a quickie comment to that effect; I'm curious to see how many bundles we can generate.

UPDATE: Check out this generous and wonderful offer from Sew, Mama, Sew, a great fabric shop: for $15, they will put together and ship a bundle containing
  • 5 yards of new fabric
  • 16 sewing needles in a case
  • 32 pearlized pins on a wheel
  • 1 tomato pincushion
  • 1 pair folding scissors
  • 1 150-yd spool white thread
and send it to IBOL. Excellent!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Back to reality

but the vacation week sure was nice. Some last photos before I get back to work:

Isn't he getting tall? Middle school in a few weeks.

This guy's also getting really tall...

Cape May Lighthouse

From Here to Eternity?

Could be this year's holiday card photo

From the marshes

We were so lucky with the weather

Dragonfly, from a nature walk we took near the lighthouse

Another shot from the nature walk

Lunch, beachside

Late afternoon, my favorite time at the beach

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Best turn of phrase all week

award goes to Middle Child:

who told us that the waves that break way before they get to shore so that they are bubbly white on top are called "foam-overs."

UPDATE: Little Miss did not get her long locks cut off, but they must have been tucked in her collar in the last photo or two. The rainbow-colored flats that Angela so beautifully knit are Black Bunny Fibers, and hopefully I'll get a chance to dye some more soon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


A FO I can show

The last few things I've been working on are things I can't show you yet, but, lured by a ball or two of Noro, I played around with making a little cropped cardigan for Miss Thang, who obligingly posed for this photos:

I improvised it, doing a top-down raglan knit in one piece. I like the Taiyo, a blend of cotton, wool, silk and maybe some nylon? All the striping fun of Noro but a lighter blend of fibers for warmer weather.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Monday, August 17, 2009

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Fail Blog submish?

Bridget: do you recognize this book?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Show and tell

I have some pretty amazing customers, so today I'm going to do a little show and tell on their behalf. My good customer Angela has to be the most faithful knitter to ever join a sock club. I swear, a week after I've mailed out her sock club's shipment, she posts a photo of an absolutely gorgeous finished pair of socks made in the yarn. The most recent sock yarn I sent to Angela was in the form of sock flats -- in her case, rainbow-striped ones. Here are her finished socks:

Aren't they gorgeous? She doesn't have a blog, though, so you can kvell in the comments.

Another longtime customer, Aubrey, has her own website where she sells soaps, lip and body balm, and other goodies -- all handmade. Look what came the other day:

These soaps smell heavenly, and I also got some peppermint lip balm and some other goodies. Aubrey's website is called, appropriately enough, Goodies Unlimited, so if you're looking to treat yourself or for a nice gift to send someone, I highly recommend checking it out.

Last post I mentioned that I had been enticed by the sweet-talking Craig of Loop to bring home some of the new Spud & Chloe yarns that I first saw at TNNA. In a remarkable feat of self-control, I limited myself to one skein of "Outer," in the color "Sequoia," so I could swatch and play with it:

but my self-control didn't last, as I snapped up some Fine fingering weight to make the Trifecta Scarf:

Over at Spool, I couldn't resist these hilarious retro-robotic prints, with rayguns (!) and gears (although I prefer to think of them as "shprockets"):

The lighting in the photo is bit off, but they are very bright and fun. I got some other fabric from Westminster Fibers but since it's for a gift for someone, I won't post those yet.

And rounding out this post full of pretty things, behold the Concord grape:

In our last fruit- and vegetable-picking session, we decided to try the Concord grapes, which were amazingly beautiful. The kids were fascinated by the way that we had to go under curtains of vines and then found clusters looking so perfect that they seemed fake. I made a grape pie, but not having made one in years (20 years?) it was a bit tart.

I am off to the beach for week two so posting will be intermittent, and if you're trying to reach me via email, I will be checking in frequently but may be too relaxed too respond 'til I get back....

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Catching up

Oh, boy, I'm really behind on blogging. Well, as you probably guessed from our photos, we had a great time our first week at the beach:

and our week there flew by. We had amazing weather.

There were two days when it started out kind of gray but the clouds burned off and we ended up with good beach days anyway. We had only one rainy day, and on that day, we decided to take the kids to a small aviation museum in Cape May. We didn't expect that we'd like it so much, but it was a wonderful place, with lots of hands-on exhibits relating to the science of flying,

Elvis tries out a Coast Guard rescue basket

and all sorts of planes, jeeps and other vehicles that the kids were allowed to sit in and on:

They also had some interesting memorabilia from the war years, like posters:

and an exhibit set up to look like a typical 1940s house, complete with real live cat snoozing on a chair:

So if you are vacationing on the southern part of the Jersey shore, and end up with a lousy weather day (or want to take a break from the sun for a little while), I'd recommend the Cape May aviation museum as a great way to spend a couple of hours.

Unfortunately, our vacation clashed with the arrival of Wendy, of Wendyknits fame, who was in town to teach some toe-up sock classes at Loop and to show off the sample socks

from her wonderful book, Socks from the Toe Up.

Even though I wasn't able to make the Friday night gathering, I stopped by on Saturday in order to say hi to Wendy (and send personal regards from Charcoal to Lucy). The socks are gorgeous in real life, so if you haven't already picked up a copy of this book, I highly recommend it (my No-Bull Review is here).

(Rumor has it that Wendy is an excellent teacher and both workshops were great...)

While I was there (cough, cough), I could not help myself; I had to try out some of the new goodies from Blue Sky's new Spud and Chloe line. And of course Laura next door at Spool tempted me with some lovely fabrics. I'll do some photos next post...

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Sunday = Bunday

I'd like a mocha-latte with a hint of cinnamon, a whole wheat with a shmear, and a Dutch Lop to go, please.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Today, on Ravelry

read about the knitter who wants to make pants for her cat. [UPDATE: apparently the poor kitteh has a health problem. Sigh. But still.....]

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Book report: July 2009

Summertime is where all my good intentions of reading Literature (with a capital "L") fall by the wayside. It was definitely escapist fiction time, and since mysteries are my escapist reading of choice, it's Mysterypalooza.

Last Rituals by Yrsa Sigurdardottir, is the latest in my Scandinavian mystery binge. Set in Iceland, the main character is a thirty-something lawyer retained to look into the murder of a grad student by the students' parents, who believe the police's prime suspect isn't the real killer. The grad student was fascinated by historical witchcraft, torture, unusual body piercings and drugs, so the search to uncover what really happened takes many a dark and twisting path. Although the murder victim was nasty and his interests a bit gruesome for my tastes, I did enjoy reading this book.

Silent In The Grave and Silent In The Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn. Talk about beach reading: this is perfect summertime reading, set in Victorian England. The protagonist is Lady Julia Grey, one of 9 children of an English nobleman. In the first book, Lady Julia's husband is killed. Although she is at first inclined to believe that he died of a congenital health problem that runs in his family, she subsequently discovers that he was murdered. She enlists the help of the dashing Nicholas Brisbane to help solve her husband's murder. In the sequel, Lady Julia has just finished an extended stay in Italy with two brothers, when she and her brothers are recalled to their family's ancestral home for Christmas. The vicar's curate is found murdered in the chapel, and Lady Julia-- and the dashing Nicholas Brisbane, natch -- must solve yet another mystery. I read these while we were in Cape May, and really enjoyed them. They were sufficiently frothy to be fun (silk dresses! English manor houses! romantic tension!) yet the mysteries were well-written enough to engage my interest.

If you like Gothic (like Wilkie Collins, or the Brontes or Daphne DuMaurier), you might want to try The Seance by John Harwood. This book felt very much like it had been written 125 years ago (in a good way). You've got your family secrets, old crumbling house in the country, a woman unsure of the truth about her parentage, mysterious bequests from distant relatives, and seances/hypnotism. A cracking good read.

Haunted Groundby Erin Hart, had an interesting premise: an Irish man finds a woman's remains while cutting peat in the bogs near his home. It turns out she's been preserved in the peat for hundreds of years. Archeologists are called in to preserve and examine the remains, and they end up trying to figure out what happened to the woman -- and what happened to another local woman who disappeared much more recently. I don't want to spoil the end, but this one started out promising and ended up rather contrived. A conveniently-found document at the end conveniently fills in the missing blanks -- boo. Not awful, but room for improvement.

The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher: A Shocking Murder and the Undoing of a Great Victorian Detective by Kate Summerscale, is a nonfiction book that got good reviews. It examines the beginnings of the use of specialized detectives by the British police, set against the backdrop of a curious murder case of the mid 19th century. I enjoyed the way that Summerscale connected up the history of British detectives at Scotland Yard and the popular literature of the day, which reflected changing attitudes about the police and the use of specialized murder detectives.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. I read Flynn's second novel a few months ago and thought it was a good mystery/thriller, so I went back to find her first. Both novels feature a deeply-flawed narrator with major family baggage; in this case, Camille is a just-barely-recovered cutter, who copes with the unresolved issues of her messed-up childhood by carving words in her skin with the titular sharp objects. She's managed to escape the small Missouri town in which she was raised and is a reporter for a second-rate Chicago newspaper. As the novel begins, her editor sends her back to her hometown to cover the story of a girl's disappearance, possibly linked to the year-old murder of another girl. The mystery of the girls' disappearances is unraveled against the backdrop of Camille's attempt to unravel and understand her family's dysfunction. Good and suspenseful, with some funny one-liners mixed in the text.

Mind's Eye by Hakan Nesser, is a good, solid mystery featuring Swedish detective Inspector Van Veeteren. In this book, a man wakes up with the hangover of his life. He stumbles to the bathroom, only to find his wife lying dead in the bathtub. It certainly appears that the man murdered his wife in a drunken rage, and the man's behavior at trial doesn't help him any. But Van Veeteren isn't so sure, and when the man -- sent to a mental hospital after a guilty verdict is reached at his trial -- is murdered in his hospital room, Van Veeteren must reopen both cases to nail the murderer.

Okay, kids, that's my July book report. As always, I love getting your suggestions for books I might enjoy. (I do makes lists of them; sometimes I find I am at the mercy of the closest library in terms of finding books, either because they are new and already checked out, or because I have to ILL them. For example, I am very interested in reading the Deliverance Dane book, but am waiting for it to be returned to the library...)