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.