Sunday, December 31, 2006

Z is for Zoo (with credit to Bezzie)

I haven't had the time, energy, or inclination to go out on a mission to find my own Z idea and saw that Bezzie had used "zoo." So I figured, why not go with what works?
These pictures were taken on a warm day last January. At the time, we thought it was unseasonably warm, but now we're just coming to accept that this is how winter's going to be in the modern age.

In Other News
We all got through the Christmas craziness in one piece. The Little Emperor has regained his lost equilibrium, and just in time, too. He was truly off-the-wall in the days leading up to Christmas. Explosive. My kids just seem to have a harder time with anticipation than others. I wonder why we all think this is just a great thing for kids? (Uh oh, another rant is stirring... I'll change direction quickly.)

Since then we've been puttering around the house. Mr. SABLE's taking a two week vacation, too, so we're all home together, which is good and bad.

I did get to hang out with my friend Emily on Wednesday afternoon. That was delightful, as always. I didn't bring the camera, but you all remember what Emily looks like. It hasn't been that long.

I went to a wedding party in Evanston IL yesterday. The wedding had been in the morning and was a smaller affair for family and close family friends. It was followed by an open house from 2-9 pm. The family was one I had cleaned house and babysat for in the early 80s, starting when the bride was 2 years old. I worked for them for 5 years. I always relish time alone in my car now that I'm a mom. I listened to all sorts of great stuff on the radio and enjoyed the silence, too. I came home by way of Milwaukee, figuring any extra distance was offset by not having to go south to go north and get back into the thick of Chicago/OHare traffic before getting clear of it all. My thinking would have been correct, except that there was a pretty awful looking roll-over accident on the interstate near Kenosha. Before we got to that, people had been weaving in and out of traffic rather aggressively. After that, they were temporarily subdued.

Knitting News
Thanks to all who commented on my Setesdal sweater. I encourage all of you to try a pattern like that. It's considerably easier than traditional Fair Isle, because you don't have all those color changes. The patterns are very repetetive and symmetrical.

Now I'm puttering away on various long standing projects and trying to decide on some new things to spice things up. Several months ago I bought a couple balls of Rowan Tapestry in a color that runs from silvery pale grey to black. I'm making a quick scarf the long way out of it while waiting for further inspiration.

Mostly I'm waiting for school to start again. I find when my family is around, it's very hard for me to focus on anything creative. I expect to be called away from what I'm doing constantly and it happens.

So, this is my last post of 2006. Happy New Year to all! Be safe tonight! I plan to have a quiet remainder of the evening, working on my knitting. I wouldn't stay up until midnight, except that Owen demands company to ring in the new year. But I'm yawning now, so we'll see. Mr. SABLE is going to play Risk with Owen and his friend Josh, who's staying over. Maybe I can sneak off to sleep around 11, if I'm discreet

Monday, December 25, 2006

Setesdal Finished!

Just call me Helga
We took these pics earlier today, before the sweater had its first wash. I hope it will settle in around the zipper area a little better. It's on the drying rack right now.

Pattern: one I worked out from pictures and charts in Nordic Knitting
Yarn: Asa Gjestal Spinneri Superwash Sport, 100 m = 50 gms. purchased from in 2004.
Started: Autumn 2004.
Completed: After 2 year dormant period, Dec 24, 2006

Worked on US #6 and #4 needles at 6 st and 7 rows per inch.

I had always wanted to make a somewhat traditional Norwegian sweater, but I'm not partial to snowflake motifs. Also, as a confirmed cheapskate, and even though I know that the Dale yarns are supremely durable, I never wanted to shell out the $$ for a sweater in my size. I hope I won't regret using this bargain yarn. So far, I'm pretty pleased with how this turned out. This was the first time in my life I ever put a zipper into my knitting. My original plan had been a buttoned placket, but I figured I should face my fear of zippers in knits. I sewed it in by hand, with backstitch and black sewing thread.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Credit to Old Lady Pen Pal

I saw this slogan for a potential bumper sticker on Knittyboard and this was what I came up with for a design concept. Click it to see big version. Go ahead and take it for a blog button if you like: just put on your own server space please.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Setesdal Home Stretch

I am nearly done with this. Yay! You can make me an honorary Norwegian for the day when I get it finished. I'm planning to cut a 4" steek at the neckline and pick up for some small bands on either side of the steek and collar front edges, then install a 9" zipper, running all the way up to the top of the collar. So, I need to go buy a zipper today. My original plan had been somewhat different, but over the course of two years, ideas change.

The yellow lines indicate the pick up lines on the outside of the steek.

I came back in from taking sweater pics on the porch and walked into a photo op in progress. Here's my family at the close of 2006.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Y is for Yarn

I spent most of yesterday and a bunch of today spinning up the rest of the Grafton Fibers batts I bought in the summer. It had been a long time since I'd done much spinning. The wheel was dusty and lonely. It's so grey, dismal, and rainy here I don't feel like doing anything these days. I just want to sit around and solve logic puzzles. While I was spinning yesterday, I got to thinking about how what would have been a virtuous woman's good day's work 150 or more years ago is now just considered a self-indulgent waste of time by some. In the age of bountiful and cheap ready-made clothing, it is now really extravagant to spin for a few hours on an dreary Wednesday. Especially when one's house is as messy as mine.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sunday, December 17, 2006

W is for Waterlilies

Another recycled picture. I took this one over the summer at Olbrich Gardens here in Madison.

I might have to skip over X if I'm going to make it through to the end by New Year's Eve.

I've got a good Y pic in my archives, plus some other Y ideas I could put to use.

Z will probably be a bit of a challenge, but not impossible.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

V is for Violet

Just recycling some pictures I took in April. V is for Violet.

Now, W, X, Y, Z.

Weird, wacky, wall, watermelon, wisteria, winter (starting soon!).
Xylophone, X Ray, ...
Yarn, Yak, Yogurt.
Zebra, zither, zithromax, zipper...

Well, something will come to me. I might have to troll through my photo archives to find something.

Another December Rant

I've been busy with lots of things that don't allow much time for knitting or pictures lately. And the sky has been impenetrably grey! So grey, I used my headlights at 3:30 this afternoon. And so did just about all the other drivers on the road.

Today I went out on some errands, fulfilling my parental S. Clause duties, acquiring goodies for that big holiday that's coming up. And it's just nuts out there! One of my stops was a large Wisconsin-based Big Box retailer, located across the parking lot from The Mall. We have a lot of "little m" malls around here: strip malls, smaller shopping centers, older malls dating back to the late 1950s and early 60s that have managed to survive and upgrade with the times. But there are two big ones here in my fair city: West Towne and East Towne, which, depending on your side of town, get called The Mall. I never go to The Mall. I don't mean rarely. I mean, Never. I went in 1997, when the realtor who sold us our house sent us a gift certificate there. I went in 2001 to pick up a catalog order at JC Penney for nursing bras after my second son was born. And that's about it. I could probably write a 5 page essay on my feelings about The Mall, but most of that would be BS. The simple truth is, there's just no reason for me to go there. It really hasn't taken any effort to avoid it all these years. I don't count going to the other stores that outlie The Mall as going to The Mall. Today, I was in an outlying store and when I tried to leave, I was caught in all the traffic that last minute panicking Mall shoppers can generate on a Saturday in mid-December. It was ugly. And I got to thinking about all this holiday spirit in action.

Eventually, I escaped and went on to the supermarket. The parking lot was quite full, but I don't mind going to the far spots. I think this creates good parking karma for me for the future. So, while I'm driving to the frontier spots, a guy ahead of me sees a spot on the left and puts on his signal. He's waiting for some oncoming cars to move on by. One of them zips in to his spot! The waiting guy honked and gestured, but the spot-thief ignored him. So, I notice the spot thief is wearing a clerical collar and driving a Buick with a chrome Christian fish and a "Vote Yes" bumpersticker. The bumpersticker went on to proclaim his limited definition of marriage. And I'm thinking what a wonderful paragon of Christian virtue this guy is. (Sarcasm, kids.)

The store was a little crazy, as usual on weekends, but with an overlay of people who don't normally shop there gumming up the works. This is a BIG store. Probably one of the biggest supermarkets around anywhere. Holiday grocery shopping brings out the worst in people. Doddering along, "Gee Maude, Look at all these kinds of olives..." etc. Positioning the cart for maximum obstruction. Whole families with many kids in tow and walking 4 abreast. I got out of there with my stuff and drove home with the headlights on.

Why does everyone think this holiday stuff is such a good idea? Wouldn't we all be happier if we treated it more like just another 24 hours? No cranky kids, whining and begging for a month leading up to it, no family dramas involving who visits where, less traffic, less stress. What if no one felt compelled to buy gifts for relatives only seen once every 5 years? Gifts that most of us don't really need. And don't tell me your Christian faith requires it. The whole gift-exchange madness is a relatively recent invention. And, I think it's a custom which has swollen visibly within my lifetime.

Isn't it perverse that our retail economy depends on these 4-6 weeks for about 40% of the annual sales? Isn't it perverse that parents will go to insane lengths to acquire the new "must have" toy for their children?

I'm all for having a nice mid-winter celebration of light and life at the darkest time of the year (Northern hemisphere bias there, folks. It's where I live). Have a nice meal with the people you love. Do something nice for the people who don't have enough. No gifts of any real monetary value. Give a hug. Write a letter. Take a walk. Go sledding.

We are all so collectively burdened this time of year. Why not do less? You might enjoy the whole thing more.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

December Cast On Here Now Available

The December issue of The Garter Belt Newsletter, Cast On Here is now available for download. Lots of goodies: two articles, 4 free patterns, and a big announcement!

As some of you know, we at The Garter Belt have been having technical problems with our Italian connection. Until Mt Etna settles down, we've uploaded the newsletter and free patterns on another server. As soon as possible, Wendy W. will move it all to our regular host and mail to all the regular subscribers. Thank you for your patience.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Big Brother is Watching You

Today's mail brought something I found very interesting. It's an offer for a business account Visa card with my first initial (which is actually not "E." I go by my middle name.), last name, and the business name of SABLE. As yet, I haven't conducted any business under the name SABLE. I did recently buy a domain name and used SABLE as the business name for that, because they wanted something in that box. I'm just kind of surprised how quickly someone in the money lending business jumped on that and sent me an offer. I'm kind of surprised, too, that a credit card company was able to buy my name and mailing address from a website hosting company, although I guess that's just naivete on my part. (No, I didn't read all the fine print before I agreed to terms. If I did that with everything, I'd still be reading terms and contracts from two years ago!)

There is precious little privacy in the Information Age.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

U is for UGLY!

You know you are truly powerless over yarn when you bring home something like this:

I found it at St. Vincent's last week and because it's 100% wool and was only 35 cents a skein, I decided to try to redeem it. I'm not one for the thick'n'thin on size 15 needles, but figured I'd see what a little dye would do.

I think it's much improved and might even make a quickie something out of it for the Dulaan project.

Here's the progress on the Setesdal pulloever. One sleeve done:

It actually was not a lot of knitting time, but I haven't dedicated a lot of time to knitting lately. It seems I've been puttering on my computer a lot this week, and I sewed myself a pair of quickie pants the other day. Maybe I really will finish this sweater this year.

Friday, December 08, 2006

T is for Tomato

This is a supermarket tomato I cut open for the picture yesterday.

These are a couple tomatoes from the garden I snapped a pic of in September.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Quick and easy fleece hats

Since Laura commented about how she makes her fleece hats, I thought I'd post my recipe.

Since I like the contrast band, I cut two pieces: a rectangle 10" x 20" and another 5" x 20". Make sure to make the direction of greatest stretch (usually across the grain) goes around the head.

Fold each in half, with right sides together, and sew center back seams with a 3/8" seam allowance. Turn right side out.

Fold the band in half, with wrong sides together. Place the band around the crown part of the hat, matching raw edges. Using a zig zag or stretch stitch, or serger, and stretching hat as you sew, join the band onto the crown.

To close the top, sew four curved darts, meeting in the center. Trim excess fleece. If you want to decorate the top of your hat, cut some strips of fleece and sew a little cluster of them into the top as you work the last two darts.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

S is for...

Some of my favorite things, like...

Sweaters. Here are two that I love that happened to be hanging around on the couch when I needed some to pose for a pic.

Socks. I finished these a few days ago. Haven't yet darned in ends or blocked, but they're off the needles! Yay! I won't embarrass myself by telling you just how long they were on needles.

Scarf. This scarf will be appearing soon as a freebie in The Garter Belt newsletter. Sign up on the home page, and get all news, every time!

Finally, S is for Sewing.

I've been trying to use some of the excess polar fleece I have hanging around and decided to make hats for the social worker at my son's school to give out to kids who need them. And there definitely are kids in need of hats. Owen made the hat with earflaps last night, and I made the other two today. Knitting for the Dulaan Project is a satisfying thing, but sewing a hat in half an hour and knowing it will reach a kid in need within a day or two has some immediacy to it that I really like. If you live in a cold climate, and you sew, try making a hat or two to drop off at a public elementary school this week. You'll feel warmer, too!

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Rant For December

Today seems like a good day for a rant. It got off to a craptacular start when the alarm sounded mid-dream, just as the some grand mystery was about to be resolved. It went steadily downhill when The Little Emperor awoke and we were trying to get ready for school. He couldn't decide what to bring for show'n'tell and couldn't find the one thing he was determined to bring. I ended up screaming at him, we were late, I didn't find his hat, and it's about 10 degrees F here this morning. Is that 10 f'in' degrees? Anyhow, we got to school, I did my volunteer stint, which went well, and now I'm home looking at email. One of the items in my Inbox is a notice from Herrschner's, the capital of kitsch, plugging their quick gift items. I didn't even wait for the graphics to load before I felt a rant taking shape in my head.

Years ago, toward the end of my high school days, I had a favorite rant about Gift Shops. Or Shoppes if you prefer. It dawned on me that about 85% of the stuff in a typical gift shop has no purpose other than to give! Decorative (using the word loosely) little doodads that sit on a shelf and need to be dusted. Or put in a little glass case, so you don't need to dust so often. They usually don't rise to the level of art, or even folk art. I'm all for crafting a useful, everyday item so well that it rises to the level of art. That to me would be a great gift. But I don't understand the appeal of things like Hummel figurines that are tacky, expensive, fragile, and useless. Gift shop. Blech. Stores full of this stuff: designed and manufactured to be sold as gifts, because it has no other purpose for being! Stores dedicated to selling items with no use other than to give. So, in the moment that the first Santa-dressed Teddy Bear image uploaded in the Herschnerr's message, my whole 1978 rant about America's inane love of stuff came flooding back into my brain.

And now I've shared it with you. Bah Humbug.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

R is for...


These were my birthday roses from my husband this year. Lovely!

Q Is For...


At long last! I dug this UFO out of Area 51 last night while I was looking for more of the yarn for the Setesdal pullover. This quilt was supposed to be a baby present for a girl who is now six years old! Whoops. In my defense, I'll mention that I had surgery on both hands for carpal tunnel syndrome around the time that the mom was pregnant with her and because of the degree of damage to my nerves, it was (and is) a long, slow recovery time. As it turns out, my neighbors are expecting another baby, so maybe if I am diligent, I can give it to them.

I should be able to speedily catch up on the rest of the alphabet and go sailing on into the finish line by the New Year. Wow, 2006 went fast!

(muttering) Roses, rickrack, rocks. Stash, sudoku, Scott. Tomato, torpor, um...

Speaking of the Setesdal, aka Area 51 Sweater, here's what's up with that:

I started the sleeve on the opposite side where the problem sleeve was. Easier for me to frog when the solution is underway. Then, I frogged back to the pick-up round. It'll be exciting to get a snazzy new sweater done with relatively little effort. I used charts from Suzanne Pagoldh's Nordic Knitting, a delightful introduction to the subject of knitting in the Scandinavian countries.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

November 30 updates

First of all, I want to apologize to those who comment. I've just had to turn on the moderating function. When I first started the blog, I had some spam comments and until today, word verification was enough to keep that out. But I just had five spam comments on an old post, so now, I'm moderating. I hate to do it, because I don't want to make it harder for my friends to comment, but the bad guys keep finding ways to thwart the new technology.

On to the fun stuff
For the past bunch of days it has been unseasonably warm here, but very cloudy and rainy. It was so dark yesterday that I had to use the flash for yesterday's pics which I took on my screen porch at noon! And I still had to work on them in Photoshop to brighten them up enough to use. Today, it is 30 degrees colder here, but the sun is shining. So, today's pictures required no flash but they still needed work in Photoshop to reduce the impact of the shadows. The sun is at such an angle, even at noon, that every little stitch in the knitting, of bit of fuzz in the polar fleece, casts a shadow.

So, what is this stuff? First, the world's fastest sewing FO: a neck gaiter for the Little Emperor. He seems quite sensitive to cold air on his face, especially in the morning on the way into school. I had a remnant of this Sponge Bob fleece, so I made a double layer tube neck gaiter for him.

Next, an item from Area 51.

This sweater has been languishing for about two years and there's a reason. After I finished the first sleeve and tried it on, I realized that the patterning on the sleeves will look very ill-proportioned. It looks fine laying flat, but on me, the heavy patterning comes down the arm too far and looks wrong when the arm is by my side. I need to take out that sleeve and redo with heavier patterning on the bottom half of the sleeve and narrower designs circing the top. When I realized that 2 years ago, I shoved it in a plastic bag and shelved it. The neckline will have a little placket with buttons, so that funny business you see there if you look closely is the steek. I think I have the energy to take this on again, so I'm moving it out of Area 51 and back into active WIP status. And I find it much more exciting a prospect than the three pairs of socks and slow-as-molasses pullover for Mr. SABLE.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

What's In My Knitting Bag?

It's been a while since I did What's In My Knitting Bag?, so here we go...
Socks, socks, and more socks...

A pair of pseudo-Fair Isle socks from yarn I bought from a couple years ago. This is nice yarn at a good price. I made Mr. SABLE some socks from it back when I first got it and they have held up quite well.

Part of one blue sock for Owen. I bought this yarn in NH last summer when I forgot to bring any knitting with me on vacation (GASP!). These have been languishing so long, they might drift into Area 51 if I'm not careful.

I thought I should give a try to the two socks on two circulars thing at least once in my life. I can now definitively say that I prefer double points and working one at a time. This two at a time thing feels very slow to me, and I lose more time every time I need to set up another segment, compared to my rate on double points. Chacque a son gout and all that. (Anyone who can tell me how to put the accents over the letters on a Mac?)

And lastly, this slip-stitch pullover which was rescued from Area 51 and is now back in active WIP status. This will be for Mr. SABLE, eventually, but it's a long-haul kind of project.

I have to say, I'm not terribly excited about any of these projects. They're all kind of bland and pedestrian as far as the knitting goes. I'm feeling the urge to start something more snazzy and compelling, but that just means these items will still be unfinished at this time next year. Better to plug along and get a few done.

I have finally finished the pattern-writing for the Foothills Pullover, in children's sizes from 2-16. You can buy the pattern here.

And last but not least, today is Mr. SABLE's birthday. It got off to a bumpy start with the Little Emperor demanding a band-aid at about 5 a.m. and then demanding to get up about 6. I've got a little leg of lamb to cook for dinner, so maybe that will help his morale a bit.

Oh, and you know how I wanted just one normal school week? I'm coming to think there is no such thing. Owen came home with a migraine at noon on Monday and managed to grace the inside of my car with vomit in the four blocks between school and home. And in a few short weeks, Christmas break will be upon us. God help us all.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

No Pictures Today

Well, we got through another Thanksgiving chez SABLE. I managed to get the table about half-cleared, which was good enough to eat off of. The meal came together pretty well and no one complained.

Yesterday morning I went for coffee with a friend while the world was out having a shopping frenzy. I prefer to not buy anything on the day after Thanksgiving, as my contribution to the Buy Nothing Day movement, but in fact, I went to a fabric store and bought some buttons for a sweater I needed to finish and some elastic to make a new bathing suit.

This morning I went to Last Saturday Knitting with Laura. She gave me a copy of her new pattern, which was nicely printed on heavy paper and we talked about prices and sources for printing quantities of patterns. I'm thinking of moving into wholesale sales of printed patterns, but have been trying to decide how much energy I have to follow through on another level of marketing.

Mr. SABLE cooked dinner tonight. He made a quiche, proving that real men not only eat quiche, they cook it, too! Real kids, however, still do not eat quiche. It was delicious and quite a thrill to eat a meal that I didn't cook, wasn't eaten out somewhere, and didn't come from a package in the freezer.

After dinner, I cut out the pieces for my new bathing suit. Long-time readers may be having deja-vu about this: yes, I did make a bathing suit before, but that one has gotten mighty thin in some crucial places. Yes, the bust and crotch are lined, but the seat is not. The Little Emperor would like to make a point of going swimming at the Y regularly again, and I realized that the other suit was dangerously sheer. The new one is exactly the same: I have enough of both fabric and lining from then to make another. The only thing I changed this time was adding a little length to the bandau bra lining, so that it'll cover and hold a little more effectively. Now, I really should go back down to my lair and sew it together, so that we can go swimming tomorrow afternoon. BTW, if you sew and have never made swimwear, give it a try! I was amazed how easy it was and it was a thrill to have a swimsuit that had enough fabric in every dimension! Being plus size and tall, it seems that my choices in purchased suits always involve sacrificing needed girth or needed length.

I'm looking forward to a regular school week coming up! Five whole days of quiet, kid-free work time. Bliss.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Coffee With Fathom

I spent the better part of today hanging out with Emily aka Fathom at Lakeside Fibers.

It was good to catch up a bit. Emily was the first person from online that I ever met in real life. Since then, I've gone on to fearlessly meet all sorts of other online folks, but it was kind of weird and kind of scary that first time. Now, I'm always happy when we're able to get together while she's in town.

Our Christmas cactus is a little confused about what season this is.

We had it out on our porch all summer and after it got indoors we realized it had set all these blooms. I had a hard time getting a good image this afternoon, but it has about 40 or 50 flowers like this one all over it.

Here are a couple of pictures I took at the Museum of Science and Industry last Friday.

Here you see the beginning of teen-age attitude. These guys were really delightful all day, but the moment the camera was pointed at them, the attitude goes up. This might be the last year for a while that Owen will be happy to do stuff with his mother, so I'd better enjoy it while it lasts.

And here's a giant alien. I'm thinking of designating a large box in my lair as Area 51, where all the UFOs will go to wait for me to decide their fate. I can print a big copy of this picture and put it on the box to remind me what's inside!

I didn't take a lot of pics at MSI because I didn't think the camera I took was behaving very well. But now, having just gotten around to looking at the few pics I did take, I see it was doing better than I thought.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Another Day

What I've been knitting:

This is a sweater for the new backyard neighbor. I hope her parents are too busy to keep up with my blog, at least until after I finish it and give it to them!

My first attempted project for her didn't seem right, so went back to the tried and true Dale Baby Ull and little diamonds. I need to darn in ends and pick buttons.

I've also resurrected Scott's Tweedy Sweater from last year, and I've been working on socks. Scott's Tweedy Sweater should get back in the active line-up for a while. It's been dormant for about a year with no good reason. It's perfect knitting for doing with other stuff, like listening to the radio or music. Maybe that's why it got sidelined for so long: not interesting enough for the knitter, though it should be a favorite with Scott when it's done.

And now, for Bezzie, dead flowers on the butterfly bush: