Tuesday, February 28, 2006


I had received a Gift Certificate from Border's for Christmas, and had squirrelled it away for a rainy day....

The weather is actually quite gorgeous*, but Border's was being quite generous with the 30% off coupons, so I decided to go ahead and get some books that I have been coveting!


So if you don't see me around here for a bit - know that I am reading, and plotting!

*There are some definite benefits to living in Georgia - and mild winters and near 60-degree days in February are certainly prime examples.
I may ask you to remind me of this when it's August and I'm whining because it's too hot and sticky to move.
Or in the later part of the Spring when all the pollen goes crazy and everything is covered in a layer of snot-green dust that's half an inch thick! I kid you not - I've lived here for 15 years, and it still amazes me, I've never seen anything like it anywhere else....

Monday, February 27, 2006

Horizontal Stripes *DO* make you look fat...

Originally uploaded by lla.
I finished the second bear's body last night, and this little guy is cracking me up.

You'd never know it to look at him, but he's the exact same pattern, exact same needles, exact same yarn as BabyHenry - but didn't he turn out to be a little chubbins???

He's also much jollier looking than BabyHenry - but something about Henry's solemness appeals to me greatly.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Stitch Marker

stitch marker redux
Originally uploaded by lla.
I was moved to get out beads, etc. and throw together a quick stitch marker after being inspired by some of the beauties at etsy.com.

I had never given much thought to stitch markers - truth be told, I typically just use a scrap of yarn, or a twist tie from off the bread wrapper, or whatever is at hand. However, I am enjoying my fancy, pretty one...

On the needles is another bear. This one will have arms and legs. You can not tell from the picture, but this one is to have a striped sweater.
I experimented with the "Jogless Join" technique when changing the colors, and wish that I had not. I find the jog that results from changing colors is less offensive than the pulling and gappiness that resulted. I'm not too worried about it, I figure I can finangle it all out with a little bit of blocking. But for future reference, I'm not going to fool with the fancy join.

I'm also using felted joins to do all my color changes - I just learned this technique and am smitten - and I think that also helps minimizing the big jog that typically results in color changing when knitting in the round.

Yarn, Glorious Yarn

yarn glorious yarn
Originally uploaded by lla.
The results of my recent trip to the yarn store - I realized that they made quite a pretty little stack on top of the book shelf.

I've got plans to knit some more bears, maybe branch out into other toys. (Fortunately, seems like lots of people are having babies, so I have an excuse to make lots of bears!)

Cocoa-colored bears with aqua sweaters.... Oatmeal-colored bears with all kinds of sweaters....
I need to find a pretty pink - I want to make a preppy little bear with that lime green yarn for the sweater!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Busy Busy Busy...

I need to take some pictures, but of course it's rainy and dark, and the camera battery is taking ages to charge - but just so you know what's going on...
  • I bought a bunch of lovely yarn colors on Friday - have all sorts of grand ideas and schemes of what to make next. I'll have to take pictures.

  • I got a lovely package from my mother in the mail today - it had a book of comic strips (the women in my family take the comics v-e-r-y seriously!) and a new screen that she had made me for my fireplace - I'll let you see that, too!

  • Bubba is sick, sick, sick - bless his heart. Like really fevery and miserable. And I feel really guilty because we went shopping all day - which is never fun for him, and he held up like a trooper. Then we came home and discovered that he had a temperature of almost 103°!!! I've tucked him into a nest and doped him up. No pictures of this will be made available.

  • The aforementioned shopping? For a car. For me! That's right, baby's got a brand new station wagon.... :)


Off to watch some Ben10 with Schecky and work on another bear friend for BabyHenry. This time with arms and legs...

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Adoration Thursday....*

Thank God for the iTunes Music Store....

I'm somewhat out of sorts today. So I treated myself to a mini-buying binge at the iTunes Music Store. And now in heavy rotation on my desktop are:

  • Joan Jett of Arc -- Clem Snide

  • Pretty in Pink -- Psychedelic Furs

  • Shuffle Your Feet -- Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

  • Wish Me Well (You Can Go to Hell) -- The Bouncing Souls
    (really been listening to this one quite a bit.... sadly, kind of summing up how I'm feeling towards people from work! I suspect that my inner child is a sullen teenager sulking in her room....)

  • All These Things That I've Done -- The Killers

  • Pon de Replay -- Rihanna

  • Pride and Joy -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

I tried to figure a way to link to song samples, but it just wasn't working for me - you'll just have to trust that they are all great tunes and I am enjoying them mightily.
And I have no idea why Bubba thinks that I am musically schizophrenic.....

*OK - I don't know if there is such a thing or not - but so many of the blogs that I enjoy have the occasional theme: Gratitude Thursdays, Self Portrait Friday, Half-Off-Coupon Mondays, etc. So I thought I'd join the bandwagon. However, due to the fact that I am pretty much a square peg in trying to fit in a round hole, I couldn't find anything that really worked for me. So I thought I'd just start making crap up....

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Introducing BabyHenry...

Originally uploaded by lla.

And before you ask, yep - he's finished. Or as finished as he is going to be. Allow me to explain...

I finished the body, and Schecky was smitten immediately. At this point, Henry looked something like the brown, sweater-wearing love child of Mr. Peanut and a bowling pin. With a really oversized head.
Honestly, I am not sure if I did something wrong, or if his head is supposed to be so melon-like.

Scheck announced that he loved him, he was perfect, and could he sleep with him? I replied that of course he could sleep with him, but that I would need Henry back because he needed his arms and legs.

Scheck: No.

Me: What do you mean "No?"

Scheck: No. No arms and legs. NO!

Me: Don't you take that tone with me, young man!
Oh. My. God. I did NOT just say that. At what point did I turn into someone's cranky little grandmother???

Scheck: Sorry, Mommy.
Scheck: Please don't make him have arms and legs! Please, please, please, please????

Me: Potpie*, Henry needs arms and legs. He's a bear. He looks kind of....stumpy without them.

Scheck: But I love him! I love him just the way he is! PLEASE?????

Me: Don't you think he'll be sad that he doesn't have arms and legs?

Scheck: No - because he's a baby.

Me: Ummmm - OK. < long pause > You do know that real babies have arms and legs, right?

I started to insist on making the arms and legs. And then, in the nick of time, I caught myself. I thought:
Lighten up, Frances and stop being such a control freak. You told Scheck you'd make him a bear, and since he doesn't want arms and legs - don't make arms and legs. Is that really so difficult???

Duh. Sometimes I just have to give myself a good reality check. Scheck loves him and that's the most important thing, right? And Scheck did allow me to make the ears, because how are you supposed to know it's a bear if it doesn't have ears.

So I will just embrace Baby Henry as is.

Even though he looks like a Thalidomide baby. A Hydroencephalitic Thalidomide baby.

*Scheck's other name, besides Schecky.

Henry's pattern is a Jess Hutch design.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Escape from behind the Play-Doh Curtain...


You know that I alluded to a less-than-desirable work situation last week? Well, again without going into too many details and boring everyone to tears, let me just let you all know that it has all worked out...

I turned in my two weeks notice today. Effective March 3rd, I am no longer a Preschool Teacher.


Monday, February 20, 2006

Cocoa Break

Yes - cocoa makes a "3 on the Mellish Meter" much more pleasant.*

Cocoa and comics books in bed - a perfect way to spend a blustery afternoon.

And don't you just love the pink clock? I know I do. It doesn't go with anything else in the entire room, and I am not even sure that I am a pink kind of girl. All I know is that everytime I look at it, it makes me happy. And that's not a bad way to wake up.

*One of the local weather personalities is named Kirk Mellish. He rates every day on a scale from 1 to 10. He likes to give good news, so he rates a lot of days as 10s. So, you know it's icky when the day rates a 3.

Happy President's Day

Well, here in Georgia, it is a wet and cold one. A nice day to stay inside and drink cocoa with the Scheckster. So, I think that will be the plan, since it is a school holiday.

We may venture out to the "Cub Scout Store." Scheck has been working diligently on his PineWood Derby Car for Sprouts, and there is some sort of sticker or something that he is just dying to have, so we'll go check it out. Also, the SproutShop is conveniently close to the yarn store, so we may just have to stick our heads in there, just to take a look around!

Bubba is off to Washington, DC and will return in a few days. It's strange, he was traveling for work almost non-stop last year. This year, though, he's been in town for the last 8 weeks. I've gotten used to having him around, and it will seem odd for him to be gone.

I played around with making more felt last night - I used a much a larger size needle to knit up the piece, and it felted much more nicely. It's not nearly so thick as the first batch, and is far more flexible, while still looking nice and felty.
I also felted an old black cashmere sweater - it turned out very differently than I thought! It's, ummm, really quite fluffy. It almost looks like a cartoon character after he's been run through the dryer.... Not what I was expecting at all! I had intended to make a stuffed penguin, but now I'm going to mull on this for a bit. It is incredibly soft, though!

Sunday, February 19, 2006



He's done. And he was a great deal of fun to make. And Schecky is thrilled. Although, in true seven-year-old fashion, he now wants me to make an army of friends for Squarey.

Even though I got a little bit cranky waiting for the down/feather-blend pillow to arrive in the mail, I am glad that I didn't just buy one of those rock-hard pillow inserts from Michael's or Hancock Fabrics. Squarey is actually quite soft and snuggly, yet firm enough to keep a nice shape. I did worry that perhaps he might be a tad droopy....

This picture does not quite do him justice, as my photography skills are weak at best, and when it comes to indoor pictures, largely non-existent! I do love my house, but it doesn't get much light on a good day, and on a blustery February day it is pretty much a BatCave!

Thank you again to Jess Hutch, who makes not only makes wonderful creations, but is quite skilled at pattern writing as well - these are two skills that do not always go hand in hand...

Whereas the booklet that I got Squarey's pattern from can be a bit difficult to obtain, Jess has some great patterns online for an adorable bunny (just in time for Easter) and Kate, the kitty in britches. Don't you just want to eat these up????

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Watch this space...

I promise you that I've not given up on blogging and abandoned all my goals of growing creatively already! However, there is just a bunch of stuff that has hit the fan all at once around here....

My parents came into town, which was a lovely, lovely surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. More details about their visit may follow. The short version: it was a really good visit.

On the less-than-pleasant surprise front: I'm dealing with some really soul-searching issues at work, and find myself on the horns of a dilemma. I am not finding the situation all that interesting, therefore I am sure that no one else will, so I'll spare you as much as possible. Hopefully, things will resolve soon - and I'll quit fretting.
And sleeping fitfully, with terrible stress-filled dreams.
And randomly bursting into tears. (which I never, never, ever do....)

On a much happier note - my favorite mail carrier* just came and rang the bell and hand delivered this! This should provide a pleasant distraction from fretting....

*I know it sounds strange to have a favorite mail man, but I do. We have a rotating cast of letter carriers, that seem to switch out with little rhyme or reason (except we do have the same guy on Tuesdays, and I only know that because the Tuesday guy is creepy.) This guy is my favorite. He's kind of grandfatherly, and always wishes for me to have a blessed day. This usually bugs me when people say this (and in the South, it is not a rare occurrence) but when he says it, it's kind of sweet.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Saint Valentine's Day...

If we're being honest here, I must confess that I am not a huge fan of Valentine's Day.

It's not that I'm not a romantic person (although, the argument might be made that I am not, you'll have to check in with Bubba about that...) it's just that I would rather show the people I love that I love them on a daily basis. Not by supporting the chocolate, floral or greeting card industries, but by expressing my love through respect and everyday thoughtfulness and courtesy. Or so I hope...

Anyhow, I have been encouraging the parents of my preschool class that instead of going to Target and buying a box of Buzz LightYear Valentines, or whatever, and then writing their child's name on them for the child, that they should sit down with their child and help him/her to create a drawing or token for each of their friends. It will mean so much more to the kids - both on the giving and receiving end.*

Of course, today I realized that I couldn't very well hand out any of Schecky's leftover Valentines to the kids in my class.** Not after those instructions.

So I grabbed my Sharpies, and these are what I came up with. Thanks to Lynn at Molly Chicken for the inspiration - her wonderful sketches make me so happy, and the "You're Tweet" card owes her a huge debt of gratitude. Ever since I saw her terrific Gocco prints, I can not stop doodling little chicks everywhere!

Anyway, whether you are lukewarm on Valentine's Day, or if it's your favorite holiday of the year - however you choose to spend today, I hope that it is happy...

* And before you think that I am some masochistic teacher handing out a mammoth assignment - there are only 5 children in my preschool class, aged 18-24 months. Also, I gave them a week's notice. And the way I worded it was "if you wish for your child to exchange Valentines in school, I ask that you bring a Valentine for each child in the class. Also, at this age it is so much more meaningful to your child...blah blah blah...."

**For the record, Scheck chose Madagascar Valentines. From Target. Seems that it is not cool to make your own Valentines in second grade.

Monday, February 13, 2006

It's no Nor'easter...

...but we did get a smattering of snow!*
It is so easy to get a Southerner excited over the least little bit of the white stuff.

It was nice - enough to dust lawns, trees, cars, etc. - but none whatsoever on the roads. That's the way to do it... I like it to look pretty, so that I can stare dreamily out the window at it, but not have it inconvenience me in the slightest.

I managed to complete 7 rows on the Monster Blanket last night - which gave me a good excuse to sit on my behind and watch a lot of TV. (Speaking of which, how emotional was Grey's Anatomy last night??? Plus, they featured that pretty song, Breathe (2 AM), which is really growing on me. )
I am looking forward to Squarey's pillow arriving tomorrow so that I may begin stitching him up.

Today, I should go to the Y, but already I feel my resolve weakening... I think I may putter about the house, tackle the mountain of laundry that miraculously regenerates every few days, and put together a little Valentine's something-something for my preschool class.

Whatever you do today, have fun with it!

* In case you've ever wondered, what exactly is a Nor'Easter, howstuffworks has a nice definition.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Fluffy Redux...

I finished something!

This was definitely a learning experience, and already I know a number of things that I would do differently. (Can you believe that I had never done the blanket stitch? Thanks to PrettyImpressiveStuff for the nice illustration that taught me how...)

I am pleased with this, if for no other reason than:

• I actually finished something.
• I learned a new trick.
• I made something without a pattern - which I've never done before. (Well, technically, I don't guess I have a pattern for the Monster Blanket, but since it's not finished, we'll let this count.)

Now Fluffy is all nice and warm, just in case we get any snow....
You can click on his picture to get more detail.

Last night, we were all excited because we saw approximately 6 flakes swirl about in the parking lot at Target. When we got home, I thought I'd check weather.com to see if there was more where that came from. While at weather.com, I learned that the entire NorthEastern seaboard is due for paralyzing snowfalls. Kind of makes our 6 flakes seem less of a big deal.....

Also - feel like my luck is changing, for the better. Got an e-mail from the pillow lady; she's sending another one - with a UPS tracking number that shows it should be here by Tuesday! Happy Valentine's Day! Also, found another source of eyes for Henry, so I don't need to wait for that slow-boat-from-China delay!

Post Office Song and Dance

My friend, Phil, thinks that my tale of public humiliation and woe at the Post Office is funny. You can read about it at his great blog, The Digital LandPhil.

Saturday, February 11, 2006


I am paying the price for dutiful motherhood....

Scheck went back to school yesterday, after having made a full and beautiful recovery. Shortly thereafter, I went back to bed. And stayed there pretty much all day.

I am feeling seven different kinds of toxic this morning - all sorts of germs have settled in my head and lungs. Blegh.

Also, feeling a little frustrated... I am in need of finishing a project. However, I am:
  • Still waiting on Henry's eyes
    (I called the place, and the owner told me, completely solemnly, that they were on a slow boat from China!)

  • Still waiting on Squarey's pillow
    (owner of that shop swears she sent it out over two weeks ago - must be UPS's fault and she'll get back to me on it. She hasn't.)

  • Tired of the monster blanket - ugh - no fun! And I've added a nice bit over the last few days, so can set aside with little-to-no guilt...

So that leaves Fluffy's vest. Why haven't I finished that? Um - I think I'm a little scared? The felt turned out really nicely, albeit much heavier/thicker than I thought. The thought of plunging scissors into it is a little intimidating. But on the other hand, so what if I mess it up? At least I will have learned something from the process. And isn't that what I am always going on about with my preschool class? Looking for the "teachable moments"? So - I think that the vest will be my goal for the weekend.

Or it will be, once I get out of bed again. 'Cause that's where I'm headed right now - back to the nest....

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Monster Blanket from You-Know-Where...

Well, the Scheckster is still under the weather, so not much to report. I went to his school today and picked up his books, so we're doing a little bit of "home school" so that he won't be too far behind when he returns to school.
So far, it's been going surprisingly well. Although, it's pretty easy to get him to do homework when he knows that as soon as he finishes one assignment, I'll let him watch a little bit of "Tom and Jerry Kids". Twenty-four hours ago, I had no idea that such a show existed.... It's pretty much exactly what you would think - Tom and Jerry are little. And they still fight. I suspect that this is a throwback from the late 80's - early 90's when "baby everythings" were all the rage....Muppet Babies, Tiny Toon Adventures, etc.

I got about an inch done on the monster blanket, yesterday, and suspect that I'll get some more done today. This blanket is a complete and total bear. Some history....

I learned to knit when I was 7, and never looked back. Therefore, I never learned to crochet. I had the knitting thing down pretty well, and the whole concept of "I'm only working with one hook instead of two needles" really threw me for a loop.

A few years ago, during the Christmas holidays, I was at my parent's house and my mom was crocheting late one evening. When I mentioned to her that I didn't know how, she was amazed. She immediately made us get bundled up and drove us to the 24 hour SuperWalmart, where she bought me some rudimentary supplies. We then went home and the lessons commenced. She taught me one simple stitch - maybe the single? - I'm not sure.

I started out making a potholder. Then another. After a few I was bored, so I made a little blanket for one of Scheck's stuffed animals. He loved it so much that he asked me to make him a blanket. Well, even though I was ready to abandon crocheting for good, how could I refuse that?

So I go back to WalMart and buy a few more big-old cones of this off-white cotton yarn. It's inexpensive, it's neutral, and there is a ton of it. I decide that I am going to make a blanket for his bed. Yes - you real crafty-grrrls out there know what a fool's errand this is that I was embarking upon, but I had no idea.

I measured off the dimensions of a twin-bed blanket and cast on enough stitches. And I get to work. And I work, and I work, and.... Years later, I am still working. Ay yi yi. Maybe I'll be finished by the time he goes to college. It takes me about 45 minutes to complete a row. And it takes about 4 or 5 rows to make an inch. ARGH! If only I could make myself do about an inch a week, I'd be done - well, in about a year I'd be done. But it is just so boring! If only I had used a bigger hook! Or a different stitch! Maybe it would be progressing much faster.

I keep telling myself to look on the bright side - when I'm done, it'll be a family heirloom, right? (Even though it looks suspiciously like a blanket you could buy at Bed, Bath and Beyond fairly inexpensively?) Also, it's good that he's not a little guy anymore - since the blanket is the heaviest thing ever and could probably crush a toddler under its weight.

And that is the story of how I have come to have this albatross around my crochet hook. It's 60" wide, 38" long (almost halfway there??) and currently clocking in at about 3 and a half pounds...

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans

I once had a friend tell me that during a particularly trying time about a year ago. I thought he was brilliant, and the words really stayed with me. So much so that a short while later, I quoted them to another acquaintance. As in, "I had a friend who said to me...." The other person just burst out laughing and said "So you knew John Lennon, did you?"

Seems all things happen for a reason - we learned this morning (at 3:30) that Schecky has the horrible whooping-up stomach bug. Don't worry, I will spare you all the "fun" details. Suffice to say - bless his tiny little heart....
However, what an amazing stroke of good luck that my father was not doing well yesterday and didn't come to town. He, my Daddy, really can not get sick - it would not be a good situation.

Poor, poor Scheck - he is just devastated at having to miss school today. Part of me is just amazed by that - I'm sort of like "Whose kid are you?" Particularly since I, back in the day, was no stranger to the "fake a fever" game so I could stay out of school. He is so upset at missing his "Coffee Break" turn. I've spent the last three hours alternately holding his head, cleaning him up, and reassuring him that his turn can be rescheduled...

He's currently sleeping on the bathroom floor. It's not as horrible as it sounds, I made him a "nest" out of his pillow and a bunch of bath towels.

He's usually such an amazingly healthy little kid, that it always throws us all for a loop when he gets sick. And it's totally weird for him to get sick twice in one week. Although, 25% of his class was out Monday and Tuesday with the stomach thing. So I guess we were just doomed.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Expository Writing Tastes Good

So - Scheck and his class are learning about expository writing. (Go ahead, feel free to look it up.... I had to!)

For his assignment, he had to pick out a recipe, write it down for the class, and turn it in. Then, a few days later, he had to actually prepare his recipe and bring it in to share with the class.

He decided on Magic Cookie Bars. NOTE: This is not the exact recipe that he used, but I'm feeling too darn lazy to type "our" recipe and this one is close enough.
Also, in case you were wondering, it takes seven times longer than usual to prepare Magic Cookie Bars if you are a seven-year-old boy.

So we made the Magic Cookie Bars this afternoon, and tomorrow his class is hosting a "Coffee Break" - pretty sophisticated for a bunch of second graders, hmmm? They share their recipe with the class, tell how they made it, and then there is an additional surprise. Parents are invited, so I guess I'll learn what the surprise is then, 'cause Scheck's not telling....


Well - the phone just rang, and my heart leapt into my throat - they're here early! And I'm not ready!

And it was my mom, but they aren't early. They're not coming. My dad has some health issues, and today was just not shaping up to be a good day. A tiny part of me felt such relief - they'll never know how disorganized my life really is! Ha! (They don't come to visit often at all) - but the overwhelming part of me was really disappointed. Despite the stress I was putting on myself, I was really looking forward to seeing them.

Oh well - off to make the cookies with Scheck....

Guess this means that I've got a date with the Gilmore Girls tonight. I do love me some Lorelei.... I'll do some more work on the stupidly huge blanket project, since my finishing stuff still isn't in. Does it really take more than 2 weeks to ship something here? From North Carolina? I mean really, seems like I could have walked and gotten it by now.... < /tiny rant>


Parents arriving in 3 hours.

House - a total disaster. Me - even more of a disaster (taught today - we were supposed to be spatter-painting Valentines, instead the little guys spatter-painted me! Still have to pick up Scheck from school, and then we make cookies for a school project that is due tomorrow....

Ay yi yi....
wish me luck....

Monday, February 06, 2006

Miscellany from the weekend

Kind of a low-key weekend here. Had some fun plans with friends and co-workers, but ended up canceling pretty much everything because Schecky had a case of the snuffles which led to a nice little fever Saturday afternoon. So we stayed in and hibernated for the rest of the weekend.

Did watch the SuperBowl last night. Well, to be more accurate, I TiVo'ed the SuperBowl, and then fast-forwarded through most of it, slowing down only to watch the commercials, and any interesting looking part. Overall, the commercials were OK - nothing struck me as a great standout this year. Scheck and Bubba loved the careerbuilder.com ads with the monkeys and the jackasses. They also loved the FedEx ad with the dinosaurs and the cavemen, and the Hummer3 ad with the robot and the monster. (Are you sensing a theme here?)

There was nothing that I just loved - although a few came close. I liked the random McDonald's Hamster ad. It was just so odd. Also, thought that several of the Budweiser ads - streaker sheep, magical fridge, and the Clydesdale colt - were cute. Also enjoyed the Pepsi ads, Jay Mohr is such a good sleazy agent - but I have to admit there is nothing about the tagline "brown and bubbly" that appeals to me. (shudder) Although, as far as Pepsi is concerned, I'm such a Diet Coke girl that I couldn't ever imagine changing teams....

I really hated the GoDaddy (not going to even give it a link) ad, and although the costumes in the Burger King ad were impressive, I despise the Burger King. He completely and totally freaks me out. And even though the ad referred to him as "freaky", it's not enough to win me over

Seems like there were a few really mediocre ads - and you've just got to think - "Why?" I mean, $2.5 million is a lot to shell out for something completely boring and unmemorable, BlockBuster!

Did you know that I am not alone in this freakish behavior? Apparently, something like 50% of the audience is more interested in the commercials than the game....

Anyhooo....gone on longer about this than I meant to. Abrupt subject change...

This week coming up is a bear. Got family coming into town, and am working four days this week, as opposed to my usual lazy two. Scheck has a big week too - two big school projects and a special cub sprouts meeting. Life has been so good and lazy as of late that this week is going to come as a shock to the system. It's pretty much all good stuff though, so hopefully that'll make up for the hectic pace of it all.

Still at a standstill on my knitting projects. Really don't want to start anything new until I can get one or the other finished. If my stuff doesn't come in soon, I'll start crabbing and naming names!

In the interim, I've resumed working on a blanket that I've been working on for Scheck for, oh, about 3 years? It's not exciting, but it is reliable.....

Friday, February 03, 2006

Fluffy's Vest...

I finished knitting up Fluffy's vest the last night, and I am now ready for the felting/fulling/whatever adventure to begin.

When I bound off the piece, it measured 16" wide x 7" high. The original vest was 9" wide x 3.5" high. I had intended to make my swatch exactly twice as big since I am not really sure just how much shrinkage (can anyone use that word without thinking about Seinfeld and snickering anymore???) was going to occur. However, I was obviously knitting tighter than I did on my test swatch, so we'll just see if it still works. I place my knitting into a zippered pillowcase and set off to the basement and the washing machine.

Let's see: hottest water? check. smallest load size? check. roughest agitation? check. Now, I wait....

I let the agitator begin, and I set my kitchen timer. The knitty article says to check on it every 5 - 10 minutes, so I decide that 7 sounds good. At the sound of the beep, I head down to the basement.

After the first seven minutes: Opening up the washer, I am greeted by the sight of suds, perhaps slightly pink suds? Hmmm - wasn't expecting suds since I used only a tablespoon of Tide, but OK... I reach my hand down into the suds and - Sweet Cracker Sandwich! - I promptly scald myself. See previous comment about "hottest water? check." Should have seen that coming, but, surprisingly, didn't.

So then, brainiac that I am, as I am shaking off my poor, wet and scalded right paw and muttering dire things under my breath, I reach in with my other hand - I'd like to say that my left hand is far more heat tolerant than my right hand, but no, I burned the crap out of that hand too. However, it has now registered in my brain that the water is far too hot to be fishing around in. (Would you believe that I was once on "Jeopardy"? For real!)

I look around the basement and spot this big hoop of copper wire that I once used to do something with; something which has long since been forgotten. I grab it, and awkwardly use it to fish around and snag the pillowcase. This accomplished, I open it up and peer inside. Hmmm.....it looks exactly the same as it did when I chucked it in. Except wet. And it smells like dog. I inspect more closely, and realize that the edges of the piece, which I did in straight stockinette stitch with no ribbing, has curled up upon itself and is beginning to fuse into a big round edge. A-ha! That's why you need to check on this stuff!

I carefully peel back the edge so that it is no longer binding together. I put it back into the pillowcase, zip it back up, and chunk it back into the washer.

Seven Minutes Later: This time, I take a coat hanger down with me. It is much more satisfactory than the big cooper hoop for fishing out the soggy pillowcase. Peek inside. There is some fuzz accumulating inside the pillowcase, which is to be expected (and is why, in fact, I am using the pillowcase, so as to keep the fuzz from gunking up my washer.) The piece looks tighter now; shorter in height, but perhaps longer in width? I make sure that the edge isn't rolling in on itself and put back in.

Seven More Minutes Later: OK, I've got the hang of this now - caught it on the first attempt with my trusty coat hanger and didn't burn anything! It is actually starting to look like something now - kind of exciting. I can no longer see gaps in between stitches when I tug on it like I could previously. The wrong side of the piece actually has a texture like this old boiled wool jacket that my mom used to have. I wonder if I can take it out now, but decide that since I can still tell between the right and wrong side that I'll give it a little more time.

Ten Minutes Later: Hmmm - I can no longer tell the right from the wrong side. However, I never know when to quit. Just to be in the safe side, I am going to leave it in for a final ten minutes. I want to be able to cut armholes, etc., without having to hem the edges.
As I put it back into the washer, I realize that the water has cooled considerably (read: it's not burny anymore.) I have just been setting the wash cycle back to agitate, but I decide to let the water drain, and start over with new hot water for this final round. That ought to take care of any residual suds.

How It Ends: I decide to let it finish out the cycle, so that the cold water rinse will get rid of any/all soap residue. Then it's out of the machine and on to the ironing board that I use for blocking. The piece has shrunken significantly - it now measures 4" high x 12" wide. It is also quite thick - perhaps I should have used larger needles for a much looser weave initially?? Now I'll let it dry and take it from there...

How Happy am I???

This morning did not start off on a promising note - I get up, stumble in to fix breakfast, and realize that we have no milk. No milk = no cereal for Schecky's b'fast, and the kid is a cereal hound! So off for an early morning Publix run. Sigh.

As I am cutting down the cereal aisle, taking a short-cut to Dairy, I spot something new: Hello Kitty PopTarts! Of course, I have to try them.

Could this be any cuter? What a nice twist - here I thought that I was going to have a rough start to my morning, and now I have a cute, pink, girly-girl breakfast to look forward to. It takes so little to elate me....

What is funny about this is that I have no deep passion for either Pop-Tarts, or Hello Kitty. I like them both well enough, but I am not a fanatic for either one. But there is just something irrestible about the combination of the two....

Later note: Just FYI, the taste of these is just OK. Meow-berry is just some random, unidentifiable fruit-ish flavor. Of course, the only PopTart flavor that I genuinely like is the BrownSugar ones. You know, the ones no one likes, and that you see on the shelf and thinks "who buys those?" Well, me. But look at how happy the neon pink Tarts look on my baby blue plate. Good morning, sunshine!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Fluffy's Dead...Long Live Fluffy

After taking Fluffy's picture the other day, I'll admit that I didn't clean up afterwards. I just left Fluff sitting in the chair. He's cute, he doesn't take up much room, so why not?

A few minutes ago, Scheck came running in to the kitchen. "Mommy! Mommy! Come quickly!" (that's my boy, he uses adverbs well!) "Some rotten little kid was outside playing baseball and he threw it in the window and now Fluffy's dead!"


So I go back into the study, scene of Fluffy's previous photo shoot, and find this tableau has been staged for me. All I can do is crack up.
I probably should be worried, or off Googling for a good child pyschologist in my area, but I kind of get a kick out of Schecky's macabre sense of humor....

Maybe we can make it up to Fluffy when his new vest is ready....

The Year the Music Changed...

It's been a good long while since I afforded myself the luxury of sitting down and devouring a book in one fell swoop. Yesterday afternoon, I indulged and read The Year the Music Changed by Diane Thomas in the chunk of time between meeting the school bus and dinner time. All in all a nice afternoon....

I had read an early review of the book, and it sounded promising, so I put it on reserve at the library and then promptly forgot about it. (This happens frequently...) Yesterday afternoon, when I went to the library and it was waiting there for me, there was a moment of "What is this again?" Then, when I started browsing through it, my initial instinct was "Ugh - what was I thinking?" You see, TYTMC is a novel written entirely in the format of letters - correspondence between 14 year old Achsa McEachern and a 20 year-old Elvis Aron Presley.

This device, unspooling a story via correspondence, is one that I've only been exposed to in chick-lit. Which I read from time to time, I'll admit. (although to be honest, I read just about any- and everything. I am all over the place when it comes to reading. Although I do have a particular soft spot for any sort of Southern novel or short-story.) And whereas there are a few chick-lit books that have done a fairly nice job with this format (Cecilia Ahern's Rosie Dunne, and some of the Meg Cabot books come to mind as more readable examples) it always wears thin and begins to grate. I often think that any story that can be told using this contrivance would be just as well told without it.

However, in TYTMC, I quickly quit noticing the gimmick and just got caught up in the characters. I won't bore you by attempting to review or critique the book - I'm no writer and anytime I try to review anything - book, movie, or restaurant - it just comes out horribly wrong and stilted. There are a number of fine folk over at Amazon who can do a better job of putting into words what is good about this story. All I wanted to say was that I truly enjoyed spending the afternoon with Achsa and Elvis - and if you are in the mood for a deftly written, beautifully descriptive story, I recommend it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Since this blog is about, ostensibly, getting back into a more creative frame of mind/way of life - and since I am still waiting on finishing supplies to finish my Jess Hutchison creations, I thought I would backtrack and introduce Fluffy.

Fluffy is the first (and only) toy that I have ever made. He's a few years old now (3? 4????) I was pretty darn proud of him, and I am still awfully fond of him. I had such fun making him that I have made him a few siblings over the years and donated them to be sold at a fundraising auction for my son's school. Sock Monkeys are never a huge cash cow, but they are consistently popular.

Fluffy used to have a little felt vest - nothing fancy, just a small piece of cheap red felt with two ovals cut out for his armholes. But over the years, whereas Fluffy has survived some tough loving at the hands of Scheck, the little red vest is pretty much toast. So, I'm going to try to make him a new vest. With a twist....

I am really enjoying working with the Lamb's Pride from Brown Sheep (85% wool / 15% angora) and I have read that it felts well. And, there is this really good article from Knitty about felting (which, if you read it, explains that what I am attempting to do is called "fulling", but whatever...)

So...I've decided that I am going to knit him a new vest, and felt/full/whatever it in the washer and see if he can't be spiffed up a little bit. I mean, four years is a long time to only have one vest...

I'll keep you posted.