me, Mavis

I knit. I garden. I co-manage an eclectic shop. I sometimes work in real estate. I sometimes swing a hammer. I always volunteer in my community. I live in an old house with my nice family of one husband and three beastly cats. I have great friends. These are the things that matter to me, Mavis.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Yes, I'm Knitting

Just in case any one was wondering if this was no longer a blog about knitting, I thought I'd better bring you up to date.

What with all the holiday excitement and being out of my normal, abnormal routine, you might think I was doing nothing. Not so! I'm doing lots of somethings, and getting nowhere on any thing.

For example, here's the Yankee Knitter Aran, showing much more progress than the last picture on Dec. 10 when I had finished just one pattern repeat. It's now at approximately 12 1/2 inches; the pattern calls for 16" before starting armhole shaping. Though I'm moving as slow as a herd of turtles (thanks Joe!), there is some good in this. After I finish the back, I'll need to make a decision as to whether to start a pullover front, or one of two cardigan fronts. Still can't decide. The pattern is fun to work, but moves v e r y . . . s l o w l y because of all the seed stitch which requires moving the working yarn back and forth, front to back, between each stitch.

Hiding under the Aran is White Panel Number One for Mark's UT Afghan. These rows move very quickly, but it gets a bit tedious. My informal measurement this morning shows that it is at approximately one-half the length of the first finished orange panel.

Sitting on the needles since early Summer, and listed as a "On the Back Burner" project on the side bar, is the Branching Out scarf. It truly does exist!

I was so optimistic when I started this project ... and the first session was quite successful. But I then kept putting it down without making sure I knew where the heck I was -- OR -- screwing up and trying to rip back instead of tinking back -- with the like result that I became incredibly lost and had to begin again ... and again ...

This is my first allover lace project and I've experimented with many new techniques since early summer, so I'm thinking that once the urge to pick it up strikes me again , I will immediately grasp the pattern with a huge ! AHA ! and fly through it with ease. Till then, it continues to sit forlornly in the bottom of an unused basket.

Since I have only these three projects going at the moment (at least only three somewhat in the open that is), I felt no guilt in swatching for socks from my new book from Stazi.

I have 4 skeins of very brighly colored Katia Mississippi (60% cotton, 40% acrylic), but I don't have 2 circs in the proper size. I swatched on straight needles and then sewed it up with some fiberfill and catnip. I intended the "prize" for poor "bella who is not too keen on all the hustle and bustle at our house these days. However, before I could make an appointment with her, Wally grabbed the mouse for his very own:

I think Beau had a turn with it also later in the afternoon. I guess it's okay since they share most everything, and really, when Girlfriend emerges from down under, she's interested in:

rubbing on my leg

the cat porch


.... usually in reverse order.

I have a number of swatches that I'm thinking I'll sew up for the beasts. At one time I was putting pattern details/pictures/swatch inside a sheet protector pocket and into a 3-ring binder for each project. But that was pre-blog! Now the picture and details are floating in cyberspace, and the swatches (when I do them) get heaped in a box of mixed patterns or under the desk.

Anyway, back to the current projects ... I'm also anxious for a trip to The Yarn Garden to find something suitable for my lovely Calmer. I've been eyeing Audrey from the Rowan 35 pattern book. I've loved it since seeing the version created by the Knitting Goddess and completely sold after finding this gallery of completed projects from a knit-along. Did I say "completely sold"? Well I guess that settles it!

Last, on my generic Wish List of stuff to accomplish, I'm adding:

something with beads


Since I spent time last night teaching Gretchen how to do the two-color name band on a stocking for her DH, Jamie, perhaps I ought to actually "do" some myself. My almost complete book-learnin' skill did work for her, however,

In between all this knitting contemplation, I'm obsessing over my new Vegan Planet cookbook, particularly "Za-tar-Spiced Bean Patties with Coconut-Curry Sauce." And now that I'm totally salivating, off to lunch!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Aidan's Furry Pals

Hey! I'm glad you came on back to see the furry ones! We had fun meeting Aidan's pals and I hope you will too.

First, let's introduce the Guinea Pigs -- Einstein (L) and Frankenstein (R) -- both female (!)

These two have been resident in the posh Bethesda neighborhood for quite some time.

The newest addition is Hufflepuff, a Lion-Headed Dwarf Rabbit:

She joined the family just two weeks ago as Aidan's pet, but it is Heather that has been totally smitten. Heather couldn't wait to get back home to her.

Since Aidan is a student at a progressive school (where he is learning to knit!), I suggested that he might learn to save and spin 'Puff's beautiful fur. In such an instance, I would definitely knit with animal fur.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Boxing Day with the Hens

I joined the Hens today for our Annual Boxing Day Lunch at Cafe Deluxe in Bethesda, where we celebrated Christmas and the birthdays of the two December gals, Heather (12/28) and me (12/18).

Our camera-shy Heather did model her new hand-knit mitts, which she wore for the rest of the day. (This was the second of my secret gift projects -- I'll add details in the Gallery soon):
GG, also played camera-shy for her face, but willingly allows her boobs to be photographed.
(Actually, she was very proud of the lovely sweater/scarf combination given by her 14-year old nephew, who has been dubbed a fashionista -- he favors his auntie in that department!)

Stazi had no fear of posting for a photo with her new "Curious George runs a country" t-shirt -- a gift from GG (I got one too!).

We had a lazy time at the restaurant, then moved on to Heather's house to visit Aidan's darling pets -- I'll post pictures tomorrow -- they are worth coming back for!

At the end of the day, I headed home emotionally recharged, and with a big haul o' thoughtful gifts.

Because I recently applied to join the Vegan Knitters web ring, I have been contemplating my downward slide in diet. Ten or so years ago, I was nearly 100% vegan, but sadly, I now often consume dairy. Stazi's gift of "Vegan Planet, 400 Irresistible Recipes with Fantastic Flavors from Home and Around the World," along with Heather's funny silicone pot mitts, will hopefully help me back on track:

Likewise, my knitting habit will be well fed with "Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles" (that clever Stazi accessed my Amazon wish list!), and LUX stitch markers from GG

These babies are sterling silver in the "fiona loves frosting" pattern of "sweet pink and green swirls of glass." Ohmigod, I am too damn cool now. Off to Knit!

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Christmas Night and All is Well

It's Christmas Night and the house is so quiet after a day full of talking and laughing and cooking and opening presents, and playing cards, and eating lots, and laughing some more. Mom, Ginny, The Danial and Mike have headed to their own homes; my kitties have come out of hiding; and the menfolk are nestled all snug in their LazyBoys:

The Darling Husband:

The Brother:

That's Lil from Cold Case on the TV screen. The episode was about the Viet Nam War draft. I can remember the gist of that time very clearly, but the details are all a blur. I remember vague talk about birthdate numbers being called and worry about my two older brothers who were age eligible, but I learned something tonight that I had missed. Bro Joe's birthday came up as number 29. He received notice to report for processing, and he went through the physical exam and testing process. He was given the 1A classification and was preparing (at least psychologically) for deployment, but the draft was cancelled and he was safe.

I can't remember ever having heard this information before.

I can't understand how this is so.

I was 13 at the time, mostly naive and decidedly unworldly, but why didn't I know about this? True, my two oldest brothers seemed so much older and I didn't really have alot of interaction with them, but my brother, in Viet Nam?? I have a cold rock in my gut at the thought of it. Last year, I cried through most episodes of "American Dreams" as Meg, Beth, Patty and Will feared for JJ, off in the jungle doing the "noble and proud thing for his country" [sarcasticism supplied].

How did I miss this? This came as a big shock to me and I'm going to have to think on it some. Did I block it out? I am perplexed.


Bella is going through interaction withdrawal, having been firmly committed to the down under (the bed) whilst all the Loud People (a/k/a my family) were visiting. Now, it's just me and Bella up here in The Palace where we can only faintly hear the snarfling, schnuffling, snores -- decidly NOT in harmony -- from down below.

Here's what it looked like this morning. Beau is the bold one, and happily inspected empty wrap and boxes. This one got a too close inspection and he couldn't get back out. HA! Beau the Blockhead:

Later, Wally sucked up some brave and inspected their new furry creature with dunce hat on a string toy:

We'll have to check back in on Bella's reaction after all aliens have exited the premises.

In the knitting department, though I had great ideas on a number of hand knit gifts, my desire greatly outmatched my ability to deliver, and I finished only two. Here's the DH in his new Cascade Fixation socks:

He is sensitive about his feet, and wasn't 100% on whether these fit properly or not. But he did wear them around for a few hours so they must not be too bad. He was definitely appreciative of the effort nonetheless, so he will go back on the list for another potential knit gift. I'll post them in the Knitting Gallery soon with all the pertinent details.

These were my first socks, and I'm shocked I actually finished given my distate of dpns. I have to say that it did get more bearable as the project progressed, but I think my next pair will be worked on 2 circs or by the "magic loop" method on one circular. I did purchase some funky, LOUD sock yarn during the Yarn Garden's fall sale, so socks may be in the works soon.

Tomorrow, after a Boxing Day brunch with Hens, I'll have a picture of the other Christmas 2005 knit gift, God Willing and the Crick Don't Rise, as Mom would say.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Sharpen up your Trash Talkin'

... cuz Bro Joe will arrive tonight! That means marathon Spades games with free-flowing drink and jive.

In preparation for the fun, I knocked down a bunch o' cobwebs yesterday (a/k/a cleaned house), wrote out a grocery list this morning, and I'm now supposed to be wrapping gifts.

Instead, I took some time to send in my request to join a ring of vegetarian knitters and, a request to join ...

... Secret Pal 7!! Woo Hoo! This is a very cool project where participants become the anonymous Secret Pal of a fellow knit/crochet blogger. We will follow our Pal's blog to "get to know" them and thereafter send secret gifts sure to delight! Likewise, some other Secret Pal will be reading me,Mavis and sending goodies to me.

I have been fascinated as I read entries from various bloggers participating in Secret Pal 6 and enjoyed their description of a recently received goodie box. I am anxious to join the fun!

In nature news ....

Look at this sky outside my kitchen window last night ...

Now that's something to make you stop and take notice. Beautiful, Beautiful ...but it lasted only a few moments.

However, there is another more lasting "vision" outside the other kitchen window.

There's my obsessed DH inside his newly-delivered 49 Cadillac. For those of you keeping score, this is numero cinco, but the last acquisition, the Dodge pickup has been sent on to a new owner, so he has a net of four.

Bella had to hide her horror by taking to the loft:

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Winter Solstice/Yule Customs

The Solstice is here! Today is the shortest day of the year; tonight the longest night of the year.

Just as the Swedes celebrated last week by welcoming Santa Lucia to bring light into the darkness, other traditions similarly celebrate the return of light over darkness at this midpoint in the natural world cycle.

We have joined in to celebrate in an impromptu fashion for several years, using some of the common themes. For instance, I have gathered Holly branches this afternoon. Evergreens were thought to have power over death because they remain green through the killing winter. Evergreens have the tenacity to urge the coming of the Sun. Candles are incorporated to chase away the darkness and cold and encourage the Sun to return. Our evening will center around the reading of "The Yule Faeries," a charming story that I will share with you at the end of this message. I was given a version of this story many years ago, and frankly, I can't remember from whom. I have changed it a bit here and there, and hope to illustrate it at some point.

This year we will add the tradition of a sun colored orange. I learned just this morning of a terrific new simple Yule ritual! On Winter Solstice, you can pass around an orange. Each person peels off a portion of the rind while thinking about one thing in their lives they would like to "peel away" and discard. After each person has been passed the orange, and it is fully peeled, the orange is passed around again. This time, each person eats a section while thinking about one new wish or intention for the new year.

Whatever you do to celebrate this day, may it be peaceful and joyous!

The Yule Faeries

A group of little Faeries huddled in their home deep under the roots of a giant oak tree. They were safe and snug in their tiny underground cave lined with dandelion fluff, bird feathers, and dried moss, while outside the wind blew cold and the snow fell softly down to cover the ground.

“I saw the Sun King today,” said Rose quietly. “He looked so old and tired as he walked off through the forest. What is wrong with him?” Daffodil looked sadly at Rose. “The Great Oak said he is dying” she said. “Dying? Oh, what will we do now?” said little Meadow Grass as she started to cry. “If the Sun King dies, our little plant friends will not grow. The birds will not come and sing again. Everything will be winter forever!”

Lilac, Dandelion and Elder Blossom tried to comfort their friends, but they were all sad. As they huddled together, there was a knock on the tiny door. “Open up, Faeries,” called out a loud voice. ”Why are you hiding inside instead of joining us in our Solstice Celebration?” Rose opened the door and the little gnome, Brown Knobby pushed inside, shaking the glistening snowflakes off his brown coat and hat. “We are too sad to celebrate,” Daffodil said wiping her eyes, “The Sun King is dying, haven’t you heard?” Brown Knobby’s round dark eyes sparkled with laughter. “Why, He is already dead, you silly Faeries. Now hurry or we’ll be late for the celebration!”

Elder Blossom stamped her little foot and frowned at the gnome. “How can you be happy and laughing” she said, “If the Sun King IS dead, it will be winter always. We will never see the spring again!” Brown Knobby grabbed Dandelion by the hand and pulled her to her feet. “Silly little child-Faeries” he said, “There is a secret to the Winter Solstice. Don’t you want to know what it is?” The Faeries looked at him in surprise. “Secret?” they all said. “What secret? We are only new little Faeries. We have never been to a Solstice celebration before.”

Brown Knobby laughed as he danced and jigged around the room. “Come and see! Come and see! Get your capes and come with me! Hurry, hurry, don’t be slow! To the Sacred Oak Grove through the snow!” With that, he danced out of the door and disappeared into the cold, snowy night.

“What did that gnome mean?” Rose asked as she gathered up her cloak made of dried rose petals held together with cobwebs and lined with goose down. Meadow Grass pulled on her hat saying, “I don’t know, but the Lady lives in the Sacred Grove,” “Perhaps if we go to see the Goddess, she can explain what Brown Knobby was talking about.”

So, the Faeries left their snug little home and trudged off through the snow toward the Sacred Oak Grove. The forest was dark with only the light of the Moon shining down through the thick fir branches and bare limbs of maple and hawthorn. It was very difficult going for the Faeries as they were very, very tiny. As they waded along, shivering in the cold wind, they met a fox. “Where are you going Faeries?” the fox asked. “To the Sacred Grove,” they answered, huffing with near exhaustion. “Climb on my back,” said the fox, “and I will take you there swiftly. I’m headed to the Solstice Celebration as well.” The fox knelt down so the Faeries could climb up, then he raced off through the dark.

“Listen!” Lilac said as they neared the grove of sacred trees. “Someone is singing happy songs. A lot of someones.” The beautiful music carried over the cold, still, moonlit air. It was the most beautiful music the Faeries had ever heard. The fox carried them right to the edge of the stone altar in the center of the grove, and then knelt down so they could slide off his back.

“Look!” said Elder Blossom as their eyes opened wide with wonder. “There is the Maiden! and the Mother! and the Old Wise One! and many other Little People!” Lilac looked around at all those gathered there. “They are all smiling and happy,” she said. “All the animals are here too,” whispered Dandelion. “Why are they all looking at the Mother?”

The Faeries moved closer to the three Ladies seated on the altar stone. The Mother held a bundle close in her arms, smiling down at it. The Maiden reached down and took the Faeries gently in her hands. She lifted them close to the Mother so they could see what she held.

“A Baby!” cried the Faeries. “A new little Baby! Look how he glows!” they said. The Maiden smiled down at them. “He is the newborn Sun King.” The Faeries were greatly confused. “But Brown Knobby and the Great Old Oak said the Sun King was dead,” the Faeries answered. The Old Wise One touched the baby’s cheek with her wrinkled hand before answering, “That, little ones, IS the secret of the Winter Solstice! Every year the Sun King must come to the Sacred Grove during the darkest days of winter where he dies. I take his spirit to the Mother who gives him new life again. Indeed,” she said, “this is the way for all creatures, not just the Sun King.”

The Faeries looked with wonder at the baby Sun King nestled in the arms of the Mother. “Do you mean everything lives and dies and lives again, Old Wise One?” “Oh yes little ones,” she answered, “there is never an end to life. This is the great mystical secret of the Winter Solstice.”

The Faeries laughed because they were so happy. “I think the little Sun King should have gifts,” said Rose. “I will show him where the wild roses bloom in the early summer.” “And I will teach him to call the birds and listen to the songs of the wind,” exclaimed Dandelion. The Mother smiled as she looked down at the Faeries. “When he is older and stronger” she said, “then the flowers will bloom at his touch; the birds will return to sing their songs, and the air will be warm from his breath. The winter will be gone for a time as the Sun King will run and play with you in the forest.”

The little Faeries sang to the Baby Sun King songs of the coming spring, the sweet-smelling flowers, the bumbling bees, and all the secrets of the forest. And all the creatures within the Sacred Grove sang with them. Later, the fox took the Faeries back to their snug little home under the roots of the giant oak where they dreamed wonderful dreams, waiting for the warmth of spring and the fun they would have with the little Sun King.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Court (non)Appearance

From about 1994 until 2001, I served in the thankless position as board member of my homeowners' association. Not only was it thankless then, it is thankless still.

Several weeks ago, the current President called to ask if I would testify in a case involving an issue that had been active under my watch, and indeed was active before and since! Of course, I was eager to do the right thing, but more importantly, I thought it might be even more fun than Judge Judy because there are some wacky characters involved in this thing.

So, off I went. Trial was to begin at 9:00. We sat and waited. And listed to the unbelievably non-professional courtroom staff yak across the room at one another. Finally, at around 9:45, Her Highness the Judge entered. Then she decided to deal with two other matters first.

Finally, our case was called. I was on pins and needles -- knitting needles that is, as I had been able to sneak them past the check in -- which was indeed the high point of my day.

The plaintiff's (dumbass) attorney began his opening blumbering ... I mean, Statement. After 5 or 6 sentences, he remembered to ask the judge to throw the witnesses out in the cold corridor so that we couldn't glom on to each other's testimony.

The benches were miserable. The other witnesses were mostly equally miserable -- to themselves as well as to me.

So we waited. And I knitted on Mark's UT scarf, White Panel Numero Uno. And we waited. I knitted a while; then paced awhile as my back is damn well ruined from hauling 40,000 pounds of concrete chunks yesterday. But I digress ...

After a time, they all came out to tell us that we were breaking for lunch.

And we ate lunch. And we went back to the hard benches. And we waited.

And after a loooonger time, they came out to say that we were recessed for the day, but would reconvene tomorrow. There were 3 uncalled witnesses (including myself).

All day I spent listening to a guy that knows everything about everything, and is even more negative than I am in this post (by the way, I am getting on my own nerves with this bitching).

But I must continue.

Not only did I have to endure the negative, but I didn't get to listen to the white trash, "Oh no she di int" in the courtroom --- AND, my testimony was no longer necessary.

That's right, don't come back tomorrow. Which, of course, I would only rather do more than, say, sticking needles in my eyes.

Yes, I'm bitter.

Let's wind this thing up on the positive ---

Ya'll remember, I hope, that The Brothas at Chez Schavis are retrievers? Although Wally was the first to display this trait at a very tender age, Beau is more likely to seek out a game at present.

Here he is with his favorite "prey", a twist tie.

Monday, December 19, 2005

My Special Day

How could you not enjoy a day all about yourself? I love being treated so special on my birthday.
Here's the recap:

We started with an early morning (still dark outside) breakfast prepared by the DH, including:

Scrambler - a staple for vegetarians like us! It is a base of extra-firm tofu, sauteed with an ever-changing creative mix of vegetables, spices, herbs and whatever! This particular version included broccoli, red sweet peppers, onions and garlic, and a coating of soy cheese. (For non-veg eaters: maybe like a Western Omelet?)

"Man juice" in fancy stemmed glasses - this is a pretty Tequila sunrise-ish mix of cranberry and orange juices, so called because of the reputed positive effect of cranberry juice for fellas.

(Note the cat greeting card from Stazi with the sensible sentiment: "There are worse things than getting older ... you could have to use your tongue for toilet-paper.")

AFTER breakfast, I lazed around for a bit, even taking a wee nap. It was nice to pick up the phone several times to be serenaded by "Happy Birthday to You ..."

Later, we went out exploring, with the first stop at All About Yarn. This was my first trip to this shop and I will definitely go back, as there was a nice supply of non-animal fibers for a vegan knitter like me.

I was drawn to the Manos del Uruguay Cotton Stria again, promising myself to make a simple summer tee for those blasted hot August days. The yarn is seemingly weightless and the "bumpiness" of the ply keeps the finished fabric up off your skin. There was a delicate shell pink called Rose with the variations typical of Stria that was Wonderful!

I also fondled many a hank of other yarns, including Berroco's Idol, perused the needles and supplies, and chatted with a few shoppers. It was a nice visit and I left empty-handed!

Eventually we made our way to margaritas and burritos, along with heaps of chips and salsa -- then back to Chez Schavis for knitting and "60 Minutes."

I had a lovely day.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Cropped Kitty

Can you tell what's what with this picture:
Flip it counter clockwise a turn, pull out the edges, and ...

... This was Beau at 6:00 this morning:

I slipped into The Palace to knit a few rows and my loyal Beau followed. He thinks "our" hand-knit sweaters make perfect nap blankets. I have to admit that he was present for much of this project, and I'm sure there's plenty of orange fur knitted into the stitches, so I guess it is pretty much his thang.

I have always been fascinated by this "no-paws" position. Cleocatra, companion of The Crochet Dude posed likewise in today's posting, with a funny caption from The Dude.

On a totally different subject ...

Ya'll will remember that I have "issues" with shopping carts left in parking lots, e.g., this entry.

Today, as I entered my car from PetsMart, where I spend a lot of time and a lot of $$ on two kinds of supplies -- "shovel it in, shovel it out" -- I noticed a number of shopping carts left in spaces. It was a bit windy and one was blown just enough to start it rolling across the lot. Up ahead, a big ole white conversion van was about to back out of its space. I could tell that the driver saw the cart, and waited until the thing picked up a little more speed and then crashed into the rear passenger side.

Did he get out and move the cart?

No .... and HELL NO!

He gunned the engine, sending the cart back from whence it came, then sped off across the rows of parking spaces at which time I quit watching and hoped that he would run into 2 or 3 dozen more of the wayward buggies --

-- them buggies that bug me.

Just put them back when you're finished, Okay?

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas Tree? Holiday Tree? MEMORY Tree for Me!

We have been overwhelmed this season with all the news reports about the Capitol "Holiday" Tree, and President Bush sending "Holiday" cards, and whether it's OK to call something a "Christmas" whatever. I think it's all getting a bit tiring.

I found myself thinking about decorating my own (insert your favorite descriptive) Tree and realized that for me, it's mostly about memories and reflection.

Although I really admire the carefully coordinated and chic decorated style on HGTV, what goes on my tree is a great hodge podge of stuff collected far and wide and over many years. As I unwrap each one, I think back to where it came from, or who gave it to me, or what event it symbolizes.

I look forward to seeing again the blown glass chili peppers from a trip to New Mexico; the "worry beads" from Greece; the little handsaw on which I painted "Schavis Construction" for the first year in business; the Marvin the Martian figures (which are special for me and DH); all the different kitties that remind me of one or other of my real kitty friends; the Hindu gods from my mythology classes; the mini claypot snowman and reindeer that The Danial and I made together; the folded ribbon balls, beaded and cross-stitch angels made by our dear old friend, Janet; and the little Scottie Dog in a wicker bed that I bought for my first Christmas as newly-single -- that was when I had to start my collection anew.

There are so many others that I dig out each year, thinking over past events, and remembering old friends -- some, sadly gone now. It is a sometimes very emotional time for me, but each year I think it is more and more important to step back and reflect. The Tree Decorating Process is my own Pagan Holy Day of Reflection!

Here's what prompted today's post -- our newest addition:

This neat running horse was beautifully and skillfully crafted of wire and a wine bottle cork by our friend John, who I first knew as my first college art professor.

John is well known and widely respected for his artwork (very large stone and metal sculpture, and raku ceramic), but is mostly well-loved for his off-beat, enthusiastic, and encouraging personality. DH and I both adore John and so this little ornament is even more precious to us. It is a very welcome addition to the flock.

And, though it's not a tree ornament, here's a guy that also made me pause for reflection.

"Mr. Flurry" was a fairly early knitting project for me, and I remember clearly thinking it was so challenging with all that increasing and decreasing, and that it took a loooooong time to finish. I look at it today and say --what the heck was the big deal? (He is cute though, huh?)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Neither the Thermometer Nor the Pictures Lie!

What Team Schavis did today --


After: It's only 2:00, but we had to stop because the GINORMOUS dumpster was full to the tippy-top and throughout every nook and cranny. Dumpster Guy will bring a fresh one later today so we can finish the clean-up tomorrow.

And this is what the temperature managed to do during the 5 hours we toiled:
That's right, we have reached a full 25 fun-lovin' degrees!

And just in case anyone thought I was living large when you saw the inside temp from this morning's entry (a balmy 72.5) -- that was the UPstairs temperature. The 2:30 temperature was taken on the main level ... can you see that 64.9? Can you FEEL that 64.9? No, I'm not blasting the furnace, am I?

This is what happens in an ancient house with no insulation and 12 foot ceilings -- I sweater up to go downstairs, and peel it off on the way back up.

Back to the house demo ... we did have some laughs. THANKSBETOGODANDALLAH that Jamie quit his cube job and can hang with us sometimes. He is a tireless worker and a very funny and sweet guy.

Here he pauses from swinging the sledge to bust out laughing at my own DH, holding up the last wall and peering through the window.

(Jamie LOVES to beat stuff up -- he had fun on this job today).

Now, in order to transition from butchy construction wench into something that will be acceptable at tonight's Heritage Society Annual Holiday Dinner ... let's talk about knitting.

I have reworked the white panel for the UT Afghan. You will recall that I was not thrilled with the outcome by working this panel as called for in the Bernat pattern, but I have a similar stitch going on in the blue Aran that I have taken to the afghan as well.

Here's the white panel with the new stitch:

It has so much more poofiness (I know that's not a word, but you know what I mean) and I like it so much better. Here's the difference:

Bernat Pattern:

Row 1: K3 together through back loop, (K1, P1, K1) all in next stitch -- repeat across row;

Row 2: Knit

Row 3: (K1, P1, K1) all in next stitch, K3 together through back loop -- repeat across row

Blackberry from Aran pattern:

Row 1: P3 together, (K1, P1, K1) all in next stitch -- repeat across row

Row 2: Purl

Row 3: (K1, P1, K1) all in next stitch, P3 together -- repeat across row

So, the biggest differences are PURL versus KNIT and it makes those little Blackberries POP! I also added twelve more stitches (or 3 berries) to the panel so that it is now nearly one and one-half times as wide as the orange panel. I like it much better ... and on a project of this size, I need to be happy or it will sit in a dark corner somewhere, for eons -- kind of like Ginny's sweater (which I wore for the second time already).

Please don't mind the rambling ... I'm just beginning to thaw.

Baaaaaad Timing

Here's the temperature gauge at Chez Schavis: The first number is the outside temperature.
No, it's not broken.
It is only 15.1 friggin degrees!

What am I doing today?

I'm on the Schavis Team, tearing down an old building ... which happens to be ... OUTSIDE!

Did I mention this is the coldest day of the winter so far?

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Happy St. Lucia Day

Ya'll know I am a fan of customs and fables. It was truly the highlight of my educational experience when I discovered Joseph Campbell and feasted on his knowledge. I find it makes for a small world indeed when you can clearly see how long-ago and far-away cultures found similar explanations for the perplexing world. Maybe we are all the same?

On this day in Sweden (and other parts of Scandinavia), which they call the shortest day of the year, a festival of lights is crucial. Think, Hannukah or a good ole pagan Solistice Festival (which I will be celebrating on December 21).

The Swedes look for hope that light will prevail over darkness in the form of "Santa Lucia." Traditionally, the youngest girl of the family dresses in a white robe and on her head, a wreath of greenery and LIT white candles. (A site I found yesterday suggested that battery-operated candles were a better option as so many gals had lit their heads on fire. Wow, the great tips you can find on the internet!).

Back to our story ... the Lucia gets up early to bring light into the dark winter. Wearing her crown of blazing candles, she greets all the household members by serving steaming coffee with ginger biscuits and saffronbread.

Lucia's day symbolically opens the Christmas celebrations in Scandinavia, bringing hope and light during the darkest months of the year. Want to know more about the history of the celebation? Check out Lucia here.

In a more modern celebration, the Knitting Goddess has the most beautiful Lucia I have ever seen. Check her out here.

I only wish I had thought of this for my own sweet Lucy, who has been gone now nearly 4 years. She would have been a show-stopper!

Hey, I just realized that my Lucy went on her journey on December 20, 2001. I wonder if that was the Solistice Day? Interesting ....

Happy St. Lucia Day, Lucy! I miss you.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Early Christmas Present!

Looky what was in my e-mailbox this morning:

This is an early Christmas present. No other way to do it.
Sorry for not wrapping it.

You now have access to subscriber-only content for
Interweave Knits at web password is:
The current issue is Winter 2005 and it will be mailed on


I love it ... and it fits perfectly! Four lovely issues of knitting!

So, I can look forward to receiving the print issue by mail, but hey, there's no need to wait! That "subscriber-only content" is quite a big deal too. By checking on-line, I found extra content -- patterns, how-to's, etc. -- that I am enjoying already.

What a great gift! Happy Christmas to me, Mavis!

Oh, what's that you way? Who could be responsible for such a wonderful, thoughtful gesture? Need you ask?

Of course, it's Dear Husband! Thanks, DH -- you da best!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Snow Day Decorating

We had snow again Thursday night, followed by icy stuff in the early morning hours, so schools were closed and lots of people stayed home from work. I was very happy that Schavis followed the Stay Home Today rule!

We spent the majority of the day digging out and setting up decorations. The cats were, of course, a huge help.

Wally checked the boxes to make sure we got everything out:

We had a delightful day, singing along to Christmas carols and going through old memories. However, as evening approached, I hated to leave our happy cozy home and go out into the frigid cold ... but we had a prospective tenant for the Little Rental House. It sure made leaving home easier to know that the requisite Friday Night Pizza was ready for the oven!

This morning, Beau was exhausted from all the activity (Don't you think radiators were invented by and for cats?):

I was exhausted too, but did manage to get through one repeat of the Aran pattern -- and I LOVE IT!!

The yarn is not so dark as this picture, but the picture really shows the different patterns that make up this sweater back -- seed, cable, wishbone and blackberry.

It's funny that I really dig the "blackberry" (middle) section in particular, because I am certain this is the same pattern for the white panels of Mark's UT Afghan. (You might recall that I recently tossed this project aside in a huff...). I'm wondering if I did something wrong while working the afghan panel, cuz it was nothing like this sweater. I'll have to go back and check the pattern.

With thoughts of various pattern stitches floating about, this seems to be an appropriate time to point out one of my favorite knitting tips:

Cables without a Cable Needle.

I first read about this maybe six months ago, and it has produced a whole new invigorating feeling about cables. I can work these babies now with zero concern ... even the 4 over 2 cross involved in the "Wishbone" section.

There are at least -- I don't know, maybe a zillion? explanations out there in blogland. The best have photos of work in progress. Here are a few that caught my eye:

from The Knitting Goddess

... and another

... and another.

For a brand new knitter who panics at the mere thought of allowing a stitch to sit in freedom off the needle for even a brief moment, I have an alternate piece of advice.

When I first started cabling, I used both the stick-with-a-bump and the u-shaped cable needles -- both made of metal. Knowing what I know now, I would steer clear of those slick metals! Instead, I would recommend a short double-pointed wood needle. For those Martha Stewart types, you can learn here how to make your own!

Happy Knitting!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Having a Pink Christmas

Christmas Decorating started yesterday here at Chez Schavis, as least for one of the humans. While I played Dutiful Daughter and took my Mom to a doctor's appointment, DH set up our Very Tall Tree and it was ablaze and beautiful when I returned. We hope to dig out all the rest of the paraphenalia today.

We learned over the weekend that my sweet Texas brother, Joe, will be joining us for Christmas! He is arriving late in the evening, Dec. 23, and will stay until New Year's Eve. Joe's 3 boys will all be travelling to Florida to visit their Grandmother, who is in quite poor health, so we get to enjoy our Joe - YEA!

My "Boys" seem to feel the excitement of the season too as they join forces to attack the wacky newspaper tie thingy (being operated here by DH):

We have paper delivery only on Sunday, and nearly every Sunday, our carrier, Mr. Green* includes in our bag the bundle tie. I don't know whether he stuffs it in on purpose, or because it's a way to get rid of it, but nevertheless, we usually put it to good Feline use.

(*Mr. Green is a homegrown native and probably not much older than me. Nevertheless, he introduced himself as "Mr." and signs his annual subscriber notes as "Mr" so who am I to disagree with that? I'm considering a new program to introduce myself as "Countess", seeing as I spend most of my time in The Palace.)

In knitting news, I finished the twisted rib edging of the Aran, but then turned to the New Secret Aussie Project. Here's what I did:

Ahhh, .... pink ..... Later I'll tell you what it's all about.

'Bella has been in and out, yakking away, while I write this post. Here's what I see when I look down from my desk.

(The Pringles toy soldier tin holds my knitting needles).

Doesn't my girl have some serious whiskers? She walks back and forth, from one side of the chair to the other, "merow, merow," pausing occasionally to reach up a delicate paw and insert one needle-like claw into my thigh, which immediately pulls my hand from the keyboard for a head-scratch.


Tuesday, December 06, 2005

First 2005 Snowfall

Ah, the first snow started late yesterday afternoon and continued through the evening. This shot is from the upstairs bathroom, across the driveway and into the "Pine Room" as we call it. SO pretty - I love the way the early morning sun spotlights way back into the garden.

My weekly sales meeting AND another committee meeting were cancelled because of outages in the office. I think it is probably a Headquarters computer snafu and unrelated to the weather, but it gives me a nice leisurely morning to enjoy!

My excitement over a possible pattern for the Calmer is gone. I dug out the pattern and decided it was not so great as I remembered, so I turned instead to the Yankee Knitter Aran. Here's the very early beginnings of the twisted rib bottom edging:

Only 11 more rows and I can start laying out the pattern work!

BUT, I may put it aside for a short break because I just received confirmation today from an Aussie blogger who is organizing a secret project that I'm going to help with. So, I will be pawing through the stash today to see what I have that is appropriate. More on that later.

Yesterday, I had my first visit to a dental professional since installation day. I went for a cleaning with Gentle Gwen at the offices of Muggie the Perio Guy.

Gentle Gwen gave me an A+ for my maintenance efforts, which was a damn good thing, cuz I truly could not do more. This workout is grueling.

Perhaps more importantly, Muggie said he was very surpised at the progress of the bone grafts. He is still undecided as to whether the front tooth can be saved, but he was shocked that it had responded without fault to the ortho. I'm keeping my fingers and everything else crossed.

I posted a new picture to the me, Mavis Smile Project.

Ok, off I must go ... VERY Darling Husband is making breakfast ("Lord, I have found a Scramblin' Man ..")

Monday, December 05, 2005

Family Holiday Fun in Old Town

Welcome to my memory album for this annual event, co-sponsored by everyone who can get their name in the advertising, and funded by our Fair City.

It was quite cold and windy, which may have kept some of the crowds at home, but those that attended were in good cheer and thoroughly enjoyed the attractions, some of which follow:

Real old world Carolers! So talented, so nice to watch ... especially the big guy (who unfortunately got blocked in this pic --boo!)

The Carolers are standing in front of our soon to open, eagerly anticipated, Welcome Center, which housed Santa Claus this year.

In the background is the Railroad Museum's Caboose, which was the previous site for Santa and often made for treacherous navigating. Santa-crazed kids take on superhuman strength and have no problem pushing you off the stairs.

Cute dancers from O'Toole's School of Irish Dance, returning this year to a better-suited venue in the recently remodeled community center.

This large troupe performed in beautiful intricately-designed costumes, and was made up of quite talented kids -- from teensy-tiny to full grown!

Alas, there was only one little boy, but he was up to the challenge.

Here's my favoriate part of the event -- Momma Maiasaura - SHE (Dino)ROCKS! (I have to force myself to keep from running up for a hug.)

Momma came to us courtesy of Ingrid Crepeau (she's inside) and Michelle Valeri (peeking from the left) -- who make up the fantabulous DinoRock Productions.

The Gals and the Dinos were back for a third time, but this seemed to be the best venue for them -- the sunny recital room at the community center.

At the end of a wonderful but hectic day, we waved a fond goodbye to Santa as he made away to his sleigh ... uh, actually I think that's a Toyota ...

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Cross off another Kipper! *

Two posts in a row from me, Mavis with ... FINISHED PROJECTS!

Last post, I gave you the much ignored (um, that was like 5 years worth) roll neck pullover, which I called "Ginny's Sweater." Today I have finished something of a much more recent vintage -- even this season! -- but with an equally sucky name. This sucky name, however, came with the pattern, courtesy of Red Heart.

And here it is, the "Elegant Cardigan" (blech to the name)

Although I hate the name, I have to say that I am lovin the style! Check out that fitted waist will ya? And my ancient crochet skills were resurrected successfully, I think, for the edgings.

So speaking of those edgings, wasn't I just complaining about hating the finishing part of a project? This one was quite lengthy. I finished knitting the second sleeve yesterday morning, all perky-proud that I would soon have another sweater. I guess I had not read down the end of the pattern page in a while. Oops.

Of course I had to interrupt numerous times for the ole cat-in-the-lap trick, but I sewed seams and crocheted edgings for a good part of the afternoon. Then this morning, a quick steam and onto DH's dress form for a formal photo shoot.

What's that? Doesn't everyone's Darling Husband have a dress form? Mine used to have a mannequin too ... with an extensive wardrobe ... but back to the sweater.

Actually, it does fit me quite well and I'll probably add a live picture later when I have someone to man (or woman) the camera. I'm not too good at the mirror shots.

Next? Well, I do still have a notion to finish some secret holiday gifts, OR I could start on the Aran sweater, OR maybe I have come up with an appropriate pattern for the Calmer? Stay tuned!

* What the heck is a "Kipper" you might say? Most in the knit blog world seem to refer to their stuff as "Works in Progress" or WIPs. Not our Crazy Aunt Purl who lovingly refers to her own getaroundtuits as "Knitting in Progress"/"KIPs"/"kippers." Gotta love that Purl.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Sniffling, Sneezing, Coughing, Achy, Stuffy Head, Fever, so I Feel Like Crap Day

It may not pay (at least in the short term) to be such a devoted wife, cuz I caught a dose of the creepin' crud from DH, so it seems.

Since I already felt like the proverbial shit-on-a-twisted-stick, I decided to put time to my least favorite part of knitting: sewing the pieces together.

You shall see shortly a cozy casual pullover I call "Ginny's Sweater" because it started orginally as a present for my sister. Now I can't say exactly when it was that I started working on it, but I clearly remember knitting along while helping The Danial with his homework and sitting at my old house. The Danial is a Freshman in High School and I moved from the old house in 2001.

No doubt there's been plenty of time to simmer and stew, so without further delay,


This was a free project sheet from Michaels called "Hooded Knit Sweater for All Sizes" and done in Lion Brand Homespun Color 321 "Williamsburg." The hood didn't make the cut. I decided finally on a simple roll neck to match the roll edge sleeves and hem. ... and, I think I shall keep it for moi. (I'll know for certain after I feel well enough to try it on a parade around a bit).

Needless to say, I'm finding everything else easier to do than finish the secret holiday gifts I have planned. But, hey, nobody knows about them 'cept me, so I can be a loser and not finish and still be A-OK!

I'm off now to put on cozy sweats and hit the couch in the hope that I'll wake up from a nap to find the cold went adios.

Last, just because it's my blog and I can ... here's my Isabella during nap time.

  • Yankee Knitter Designs "Aran Sweater" in Sirdar Supersoft Toddler Aran "Hyacinth"
  • Mark's "UT Afghan" in Red Heart Super Saver Carrot and White
  • COMPLETED! "Aran Rose" in Rowan Calmer "Powder Puff" (details in the Gallery soon!)

  • The Things I Get Into
  • Vegan Lunchbox

  • VEG WEB - YUM!
  • Customized T-Shirts at!

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