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.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Who would believe it? me, Mavis an Olympic Athlete!

The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat -- or maybe de Feet, as so many other contestants are knitting socks. Yes, Dear Reader, we are talking about the Knitting Olympics designed and choreographed by the Yarn Harlot. I have joined Team Cat Bed (see my new button in the sidebar), under the intense coersion -- um, I mean, Careful Coaching of Knit'nat. Ya'll know that my poor unappreciated Beasts need hand-knitted Cat Beds, right? So, there you go ... that's my Olympic Event ... knitting at least 2 beds between the time the Opening Flame is lit nd when it goes out -- 16 days. Since I can't seem to get away from my computer long enough to knit NOW, I'm not sure how the added pressure of The Olympics is going to help ... But Knit'nat has a way about her.

In other news, looky what I ordered yesterday:

A beautiful wooden swft and ball winder, courtesy of my MIL and FIL who sent me a nice check for Christmas. I have a batch of organic cotton waiting in the wings, ready to try these babies out. Of course, since the shipping charge was already being paid, AND I had $5 or so left over, I put in a few $$ of my own and added on a pattern leaflet and some of that new Touche! I'll post a pic when it arrives.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Sock with completed foot -- but very lonely ...

... and it will probably remain lonely for a while as I'm not inspired to cast on for a mate. I'm not so sure I like the way it fits and feels, though I do like the look. Without consciously planning it that way, I used the colors of my high school ... which, by the way, is preparing our thirtieth reunion , as we speak.

I prepared another winning recipe from Vegan Planet last night: Tempeh Simmered with Tomatoes and Sauerkraut. It made me feel a strange cosmic kinship to my departed Lithuanian peasant ancestors! As suggested, we ate it with coarse Rye bread (store bought), but I was thinking how perfect it would have been to have some of the Moneikis Bakery Lithuanian "black bread" from my childhood. Now that was some serious stuff. This was bread that needed to be chewed -- and thoroughly, I might add.

... but, I'm getting off the subject. Just as I was cleaning up, over popped cute Jamie on an errand for Gretchen. He stepped in the door, and immediately "mmmm, what smells good?" I pulled the leftovers back out of the fridge and he dug in. His German background made the sauerkraut a shoo-in, but he had not tried tempeh before. He gave the dish a positive review as well.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Which is better - A footless sock or a sockless foot?

I really like it when Blogger images look better than the real thing! In this case, you see the good side of my current sock; the other side has some weirdness at the heel flap/gusset area from where I carried along the unused blue yarn. Also, even though the Addi Turbos are fantabulous, I still have a laddering problem where the 2 needles join. I guess I need to go back and find the sites where I read about this problem before -- and more importantly, The Solution!

I have finished the decreases and can now just knit away for length until I go back to blue and the toe shaping ....

But I'm a little bored with this now.

Fickle, fickle me, Mavis.

I have been paging through the current Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, and the catalogs from Knit Picks and Webs. I'm also having daydreams about some groovy yarn that I bought in Fredericksburg, but ...

I can't find it ...

except in this blog entry ... sigh ...

Yesterday, we had some real Spring weather here in MerryLand! I found myself at our little rental house painting porch railings, and it was so warm that I ended up in just a t-shirt after peeling off lawyers as the sun hit my work area. That was balm for the soul.

Today, we are in overcast gloominess with rain -- Perfect Knitting Weather!

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A Diversion

I don't want to work on any of the projects that I have started. There -- I said it.

I don't know why I get so fickle sometimes, but I do. Then I start digging through my stash, or lurking around on other blogs for inspiration, and hours go by and still my hands are empty.

Tonight, I dug out 4 wacky-colored skeins of Katia Mississippi 3 ( 60% cotton, 40% acrylic) -- purchased several months ago on clearance from Yarn Garden, and my closely-read but still unused-for-knitting copy of "Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles".

IT WORKS! You can see the teensy beginning there at the bottom of the picture -- 6 rows of 2x2 rib. I'm working the first pattern in the book: Simple Sock in Three Sizes. You can't get more basic than that. Now I must decide whether and when to add:

stripes in the ribbing?
different colored toe?
different colored heel?

Actually, I think the "whether" is a foregone conclusion as I only have one skein in each color. I just hope I am clever enough to leave enough of each color for the second sock ... or maybe they could be opposites? We'll see.

Here's the real star of the evening ... the addi TURBO's. Great Day in the Mornin' these things are every thing I've heard -- and more!. They are precision, I tell you! So smooth, so silky ... and the cable? Oh, the cable. It just hangs there gently, never tugging and pulling you where you don't want to be.

I regret every hateful thought I had about spending "so much money" on a pair of needles. These babies are worth every penny.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

From "in Progress" to The Gallery!

Ah, I love that lead-in ... because that means I have finished something. And that something would be the "Cabled Sweater and Hat for Baby Hunter Michael in Sirdar Snuggly Baby Care."And here it is, posing in the warm sunshine atop DH's 49 Caddy:I'm very pleased with this final product. It is very soft and cuddly; is a nice classic design for a little boy; the metal buttons fit very nicely; and the finished measurements are SPOT ON with the pattern specifications. I think this might be a first for me, Mavis.

Interesting, isn't it, how it works out when you use the suggested materials?

In other knitting news ....

Last post I told ya'll about the wonky decreases in the "Audrey" sweater and how they were weirdin' me out a bit.

Faithful reader, the Vegan Knitter said in the Comments:
I want to be comforting and kind and tell you, "Oh Mavis, it looks great! Don't worry about it!" but instead I'm going to be honest. I noticed something was wrong right away.That being said, have no fear, have no fear (said the Cat in the Hat!) I'm sure you can fix it and then continue on to make a beeeewetiful sweater. Minus the ewe since it's vegan.
Funny, about the "ewe", huh? Thanks, I needed that!

But back to the wonkies ... that's the whole point, VK, there's no fixin' to be done! From looking at others on the Knit-A-Long, the wonky decreases are CORRECT to the designer's instructions. I've checked my progress against close-up photos from other Audrey knitters, and they could be twins. So what are we to do with that, except suck it up and move along? I'll post another progress shot soon.

But speaking of twins ... I went on a visit last Thursday to an old friend from Big Ugly Law Firm. She is now a stay-at-home Mom to 2 1/2 year old twin girls. And lovely lasses they are, little Emma and Chloe. Momma Meg is as perfectly efficient at Mothering as she was at dealing with annoying attorneys and running a gigantic litigation.

Since my Thursday socializing was such a success, I tossed aside working on Friday as well, and this country mouse headed to town to have lunch with The City Hens. We met at Teaism, just a half-block from Heath's office and not too far a walk for the athletic GG. How odd I felt traveling in on the Metro to an area being rebranded as "Penn Quarter." So much has changed, and I was all tentative and wide-eyed with confusion just like all the clumsy tourists I cursed for so many years when they slowed my daily precision commute. DAMN YOU ALL - GO BACK TO IOWA ... and have a nice day!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Tiny Baby "Audrey" Unveiled

Sometimes I get all worked up about doing a pattern "properly." Then I spend so much time thinking about it, and reading about it, and googling about it, that I get nothing done.

Take "Audrey" for instance. I think I cast on ... hmmm, maybe Sunday night? Yes, I have been busy, but for cryinoutloud, it is THURSDAY, and this is how much I have done:

You see, there are decreases ... in the 2x2 ribbing ... and they look all wonky.

A special note to any new knitters out there: "Wonky" is a technical term that you will soon find familiar. If you don't believe me, go to the Audrey-along site. First, check out the beautiful finished projects of these talented knitters. Then check the Archives. There you will find many instances of "wonky" and a request for a "wonky fix."

The Bold and Successful fear not the wonky, however. Here's one who proudly displays the wonkiness of the decreases with nary an apology.

So I'm trying to be all Big and Bold and Successful and just KNIT ON DAMMIT! without getting all bothered by the wonkiness.

This is why I have to keep putting it down.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

My Secret Pal

I had a looooong day yesterday; came home late (nearly 7 p.m.) from a probably unsuccessful meeting and was feeling a bit sorry for me, Mavis.

Look what was waiting:

... a beautiful gift from my Secret Pal! The cute note said she is in Michigan --- BRRR! --- and went out for a long lunch on a beautiful day to buy these treats for me.


Monday, January 16, 2006

Rental Success ... and Other Stuff

Here's what I was afraid of jinxing yesterday:I'm protecting all the confidential info by showing just this tiny portion, but take my word for it that the whole thing is legally signed and binding --- AT LAST!! We finally have a tenant in our little rental house after several false starts and me, Mavis is Snoopy dancin'.

I think the DH was beginning to sweat it a bit too, especially after one of his clients (who is a long-time property manager) told him this is the worst rental market she has seen in her career.

It seems that those who had anything close to passable credit, and/or sufficient income, had moved into the ownership lane, leaving a pool of very few possibilities. However, we came away with a fellow who appears to be very well-qualified, and is quite likeable to boot! Wish us luck.

This morning I decided to again pick up the little cabled baby sweater, which only needs to be put together. Beau knows how much I hate this part, so he decided to "help."

No ... of course I didn't get it finished.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

"Holiday" Weekend?

There hasn't been much holiday-type goings-on for me, Mavis. I had sugarplum visions of a long, lazy weekend heavily spiced with multiple knitting projects. Nope, it didn't happen. Not yet, anyway -- but I'm not giving up!

We have had some Wacky Weather. Last week, and maybe even prior, the weather has been so mild with day-time highs near 60. I think DH even turned off the furnace for a bit.

Then, Friday night there was a tough rain storm with thunder and lightning that scared the poor kitties off the bed and hurrying Down Under. Since I witnessed this, that means that I was awakened too.

The wind increased during the day Saturday, and that night the incredible sound woke us again. This is newsworthy because we both sleep like ancient rocks.

Very early Sunday morning, the beep of the telephone warning from a power outage woke us yet again. We could see so lights in the Rec Center across the street, and the Rats’ (that's James and Gretchen) house behind us was dark too.

We found last summer, during an outage, that our side of the street is apparently on a different grid than the other side of the street as well as our back-yard neighbors. Today we got the lucky end of the stick and lost power for only the briefest moment. We did lose cable for a few hours but that was not a big deal -- you know, compared to HAVING NO HEAT, for instance.

It continued to be very windy all day, and bitterly cold. Here's what The Natives do on such days:

The Baby gathers a few sparkly balls and heads to her room (a/k/a the guest room). This room is decorated in soft lilac and butter yellow and I think she finds it somewhat Girly and to her liking. We also keep one of Mom's crocheted afghans (lilac and white) on the bed for extra coziness (actually it's in an effort to keep the comforter somewhat un-furified).

The Brothas head to the loft. This is the topmost area of our house. Hence, the "heat rises" goes here. One side contains a Kitty Kup, which Wally loves -- check out the sunbeam just hitting the edge, and the resulting slitty eyes:

On the other side of the loft, there is an expensive furry cat cushion that sits unused, and a messy old chenille bedspread that Beau adores:

While The Natives lounged, I was hard at work -- but I won't say what I was doing for fear of a Jinx. I'll tell you what it was about tomorrow.

In other news --

I have attempted my first receipe from Vegan Planet: “Tempeh and Sweet Peppers with Bourbon-Spiked Barbecue Sauce.” It was a big hit, surprisingly easy, and well worth the (slight) effort of making the barbecue sauce as opposed to going with a bottled brand. We ate it alongside fluffy cous-cous -- YUM! (BTW: Did you know that bell peppers contain more Vitamin C than oranges?)


Friday, January 13, 2006

Potential for New Projects Overload!

In my e-mailbox this morning was Berroco's "KnitBits" newsletter with several new (non-animal!) yarns and projects that caught my eye: Linka in a lovely aqua colorway (called "Absynthe") first jumped out at me. I'm not altogether sure about the join only at the bottom rib -- maybe too much emphasis on an area better left in the shadows?? -- but it shouldn't take rocket science to just leave it open all the way down.

As an aside, I once had a client who REALLY was a rocket scientist! Let me just say that her above-average intelligence didn't hold over in the everyday tie-your-own shoes department.

Anyway, as to "Linka," I'll have to go look at the pattern more closely before making a final judgment, but just now I'm really liking the collar detail and 3/4 lenth sleeves with wide ribbing. As to the yarn, Boho looks just great! The variable matte/shine and color changes are magnificent! Will the "hand" of the yarn be worthy?

Next, I was caught by Becky. This is one the prettiest sweaters I have seen recently!! ... but I don't think me, Mavis will be wearing it quite the way of the model. Click on the "zoom in on pattern details" and it sure looks like nothing but skin to me! The sweater is presented in Touche, another new spring yarn that looks like a winner. I particularly like the "nectar" shade (at least on my monitor, that is!)

Secondly, in my snail mail box yesterday was the new Vogue Knitting. I did a brief flip through but haven't really even begun my dissection. Later today perhaps!

Are you there? So I'm a little late on the uptake, but there still are 2 1/2 days left in National De-Lurking Week?

In humble apology to those of you (Hi STAZI!) who have encountered difficulties in leaving a comment because you can't scroll down to the comment section, I also have experienced the problem where the whole entry doesn't load. Don't know how to fix it, or even if it is fixable, but I have had success with hitting the reload button (it sometimes takes twice) and then the whole entry loads.

Wait ... I might have just given you lurkers an out!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Idle Hands??

Not much time for blogging these days.

Day time has been filled with work stuff, including a breakfast meeting this morning with a pal who has a very successful tax accounting practice. We have agreed on a plan where I will assist in her office from now until mid-April (for obvious reasons ....) for at least one full day per week, and the rest of the time to be negotiated as we go. I haven't worked in an office since I left Big Ugly Law Firm in early summer 2000 and I am very excited.

The evenings have been filled with knitting-related reading, for the most part. I have been fascinated by Nancy Bush's "Folk Socks" and all the great historical material it contains. Which brings me to something that I have been contemplating. Nancy tells us that when folks used to knit for necessity (in order to be clothed and/or to make money) generally the whole family knitted -- Mom, Dad and the kids.... hands were never idle! In fact, some women were so adept they could finish a pair of mittens while walking back and forth from the village. Talk about multi-tasking! But consider how this would be received today .... is it okay to knit during a business meeting? I think the answer is generally Hell NO! But why aren't "idle hands" still a bad thing? Interesting....

Also, I have been spening a lot of time with Jack Bauer. In anticipation of his new season of antics (beginning this Sunday evening), DH and I are re-watching the last season of "24", courtesy of NetFlix. Today we received Disks 5 and 6, so I'm heading off to pour a vino rojo and settle down for some excitement. Surprisingly, it is still damn thrilling even though I saw the whole thing last season. Nona knows what I'm talking about.

I've also "met" a new pal from the Secret Pal 7 group -- which by the way, I seem to be having trouble with (which is another story altogether) -- but anyway, my new pal Yvonne (Hi Yvonne!) is great fun ... check out her blog ... and please don't hesitate to send her any and all questions you may have about BANANA FIBER!

Monday, January 09, 2006


Today I picked up the Official Questionnaire for the Secret Pal 7 Group. We are supposed to receive notification of our Pals by this Friday, so I'd best get right to answering the questions:

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?

I might be called such, but not for the typical reasons given. That is, I go "the other way" and choose not to use animal fibers because 1) I am an ethical vegetarian, and (2) when I did wear wool many, many moons ago, it itched like crazy (I scratch just from the memory!). I prefer cotton or rayon or some-such blend for an item that I would wear next to my skin. However, I wholeheartedly support the use of durable man-made fibers including Red Heart and Lion Brand for something that will take alot of use (the afghans my Mom made for instance that have been machine washed and dried 10 gazillion times), or for an outer layer garment that can be removed if too toasty. I have two works in progress using 100% acrylic and one of them is Red Heart.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

No spinning yet ... but I am mildly interested in spinning fur from my cats! My crochet skills have been used mostly used as a finishing technique since I learned to knit well. The process of knitting versus crocheting is superior in my view -- something about the 2 hands seeming to work in better harmony -- but maybe I'm just wacky like that.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Straights go in this can:I think I picked it up at a yardsale, and I think it once held potato chips! Circulars and dpns go in a plastic Sterlite shoebox under the desk.

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

As a child, my Mom taught me the basic knit stitch and I worked a garter stitch scarf that she cast on and off. That was the sum total. Many moons later, my pal Betsy gave me more substantial beginner's lessons, and I have supplemented that with book learnin' and internet videos, etc. So, counting from the second entry to the field with Betsy, I have been knitting for approximately 10 years or so.

I have done a fair amount of shaping work in sweater parts, as well as various pattern stitches, like open work, cables, etc., but almost no multi-color work beyond basic stripes. Based on the patterns I have worked successfully, I think I would be classified as a strong intermediate.

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Heck yes! ... and I'm more than happy to share the link -- click here! As a matter of fact, I'm going to head there soon and do some updating!

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

Lilac, carnation or lavender -- or a light sandalwood or bergamot-- or any other light florals or herbals . I generally don't like anything too heavy or complicated, and particularly not patchouli! This is a sad thing because a wonderful guy I know and adore almost always wear patchouli -- it often makes me headachy, sneezy and/or nauseous if I get a strong whiff! I rode the subway to work for probably 15+ years. When I had the choice of sitting near the folks that insisted on bathing in cheap perfume, or the unwashed homeless guy, Homie won every time.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

Oh yea ... but since I went into orthodontic treatment last Fall, the braces make some of my favorites off limits. Basically, anything sticky or with hard nuts has to wait for another 22 months or so! Luckily, chocolate -- particularly rich, European chocolate ... melts like a dream and I don't have to worry about stuff stuck in the wires. See what I do for my teeth?

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?
I have dabbled in tons of stuff and have a supply of materials to prove it. For the moment, knitting is my only true craft obsession.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like lots of different music, except rap -- which I don't understand, but feel confident that my opinion would remain the same or worse if I could make out the words! At home while I'm working I generally listen to National Public Radio talk, but also tune in to a classical station too. When I'm wantin' to sing along in the car, it goes to Classic Rock of the 70s and 80s. My ear was recently tweaked by a Celtic tune in a gift shop. Sadly, I have no idea if my computer plays MP3s, but I can play CDs on it (does that help?) I know I don't have any recent gadgets (iPod thingys) designed for such stuff.

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I love to look at most colors, but for wearing myself, I think I tend to go for spring colors: muted pinks/mauves/peach/lavender/sage green. Though I find them very pleasing, I don't think I look very good in fall colors of yellows or oranges.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I have a Darling Husband (Bob the Builder) and three spoiled cats - Beau, Wally, and Isabella. There are also several neighborhood semi-feral cats that we have been feeding; 15+ goldfish in our outdoor pond (babies emerged last Spring!), and we also fill feeders for songbirds and squirrels in our yard.

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Yes to all of the above.

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

Bernat Satin was delightful ... Rowan Calmer is dreamy (though I've only swatched it so far) ... Manos del Uruguay Cotton Stria ... Wool in the Woods "Shaggy" ... I'm interested in trying some of the new exotics like banana, soy, or hemp fibers.

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

No animal fibers for me please. I would consider using them if I could be assured they were gathered peacefully and by a cruelty-free, loving human.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

I have been doing lots of research on traditional folk patterns with lots of color changes (think Latvian mittens), though I haven't started anything yet. I'm also quite interested in beads. I have enjoyed working cables from the get-go, and that remains strong.

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

I don't think I can specify one thing. It's important to me to have a choice of projects going at the same time in order to match one to my daily mood (dang that makes me sound psychotic, or bitchy at best!)

17. What are you knitting right now?

Aran pattern sweater for me (easy pattern, but tons of k1 p1 switching that is very slow going -- 20% completed); afghan in 2 different pattern panels for my nephew (fairly mindless work for TV watching -- 15% completed); baby sweater for my niece's first babe (knitting done; just need to sew up and find buttons).

I will soon start "Audrey" pullover from Rowan 25 as well as some folk mittens and socks (patterns not yet selected from the books I pulled from the Library!)

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

YES! YES! YES! These are the very best gifts, in my opinion!

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

Can't say ... they both have their place. I'll stick to "both" for now ... BUT, I just bought Addi Turbos which have a huge following, so my attitude may change!

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Same as above! It depends on the slickness of the fiber I think. Again, I'll stick to "all of the above."

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

Nope .

22. How did you learn to knit?

See answer to number 4 above.

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

I'm assuming it will suffice to answer as to the oldest that I can remember clearly and/or put my hands on within a few hours? That would be a baby afghan in a crappy pattern with crappy yarn that I'm hoping will suddenly self-combust so I won't feel guilty about trashing it. I started the project at least 5 years ago. (Truly, my knitting UFOs are relatively few and far between -- the other craft projects, however ....)

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

Clifford the Big Red Dog, Hello Kitty; Giraffes, Llamas.

25. What is your favorite holiday?

Winter Solistice.

26. Is there anything that you collect?

Yes, too many things and I don't want anymore ... I mean it! I really do want to pare down! Seriously! (Stop laughing DH!)

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Vogue Knitting, and Interweave Knits magazines. (The latter is a gift from DH but I've not yet received the first issue!)

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

Folk patterns from Lithuania! Or any folk books, particularly one that explains why/what the pattern meant to the culture.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

I'm open to learning anything ... I'd also really like to become a better "finisher" -- I hate doing it, and it shows.

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I'd like to be a sock knitter! I successfully finished one pair and pretty much hated it ... but I don't think I ever got comfortable with the dpns. However, my friend Stazi recently gave me an instruction book for using 2 circulars and I'm poised to try it again soon. I have a wide foot with stubby toes. My rotten brother once gave me the nickname, "Fred Flintstone Feet" -- attractive, no? -- but it is spot on! My shoe size is 9W; my foot measures 9 3/4 inches from heel to toe, and 4 inches across at the widest point.

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

12/18 -- one week before Christmas -- and I just turned 47!


Saturday, January 07, 2006

Day Trippin'

Off to Fredericksburg with Darling Husband!

First Stop: The Cat's Closet which sells The Bestest Sparkly Balls In The Whole World -- at least that's the verdict from The Sparkly Ball Expert, Isabella, shown here with three new additions to her stash: The Cat's Closet has several experts in residence as well. Here is the lovely Kaitlin (with a shaved belly from recent x-rays -- but she's AOK). Katilin is the chief toy inspector and allowed me to help her try out a potential new product -- two Sparkly Balls connected with a curly spring. I think she will eventually give it 2 Paws Up!We then wandered the antique stores for a bit, working up an appetite for the second draw of our infrequent visits to Fredericksburg: Sammy T's. This nice little pub really caters to Vegetarians and Vegans, with numerous selections and a clearly marked menu. I always get felafel -- usually the sandwich, but this time, cuz of the braces who know, I went for a tabouli salad, which included mini felafel balls.

Both versions come with a sizeable bowl of the house-made lemon-tahini dressing - YUM! Of course, we also had to share a basket of fries!

After lunch, we headed to a new stop on our tour: The Knitter's Cottage (that's me on the porch!)This spacious store, located in a lovely old house with soaring ceilings and original windows, also has thoughfully placed rocking chairs inside so that DH was comfortable whilst he waited for me.

Their large inventory made for nice browsing although the non-animal fibers weren't too plentiful. Nevertheless, I managed to find Stash Enhancement in the way of GGH "Cadiz" (51% cotton, 33% acrylic, 16% rayon) marked down $3 per ball.

Although it looks sort of fuzzy in this picture, the product is actually a dull cord wrapped with a shiny cover. The blues and aquas in the colorway say "Greek Beach" to me! I bought only 3 balls and hope to try it out for socks.

Speaking of socks ... I also finally bit the bullet and handed over the $$ for two 24" addi Turbos. Now I'm set to try the new sock knitting technique on two circulars. I'm hoping to say Goodbye and Good Riddance to the rotten dpns.

Lastly ... I did knit on the drive and finished the sleeves for the little baby Cabled Sweater. Tomorrow I'll put it together and knit the button bands, finalizing a project!

Of course, there is the new sock yarn to think of ...

And the two library books of folk mitten patterns ...

Did I mention that my "Audrey" pattern book arrived yesterday too?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Swatching, Googling, and What's on My Mind

The front of the baby pullover is now off the needles, with the center neck stitches on a holder just waiting for the collar. I really like the cabled pattern and the yarn is pretty nice to work with. However, I have my usual complaint about all cotton -- no elasticity. Sometimes it bugs me and is difficult to keep even tension.

I got a pathetic start on one sleeve ... can you see the 3 rows on the left-hand needle -- before I quickly changed gears to Calmer ... mmmmmmm, Calmer ..... . That's the start of my swatch on the right-hand needle.

Several days ago I broke down and ordered the Rowan 35 book, which contains the "Audrey" pattern, and I want to be ready to GO! (No, I don't have enough projects in limbo, Thanks!)

The yarn is magnificent! It has all the coolness of the cotton, but with a silky feel from the microfibre. I'm diggin' it big time.

Knitting progress has been hampered by my insane addiction to Google.

In addition to the utilitarian stuff, like searching myself for information about Amicor (since no one left me an explanatory comment!), I have been obsessed with Lithuanian mittens.

Yes, Lithuanian mittens.

No, I've yet to have luck.

Several nice bloggers have offered suggestions including the Yarn Harlot and one of her commenters, and Sandy, but nothing yet. The nice folks from Maridana wrote back to say that a pattern wasn't available, but I might want to order a pair of mittens and try to write it out myself. Nice idea ... here's the problem ... they're made of wool. me, Mavis don't do wool.

While all this is happening, I have something on my mind. Several weeks ago, I read this article in the Washington Post about a long-time committed couple who were forced to leave their home and cherished community after more than 17 years. Because of stupid prejudice -- turned to law.

They are not a so-called "traditional married couple" but nor were they necessarily looking for financial benefits like married couples enjoy. Nevertheless, the State of Virginia's "Affirmation of Marriage Act" made them terrified they would be cut off emotionally from one another during a medical crisis. So, they had to leave the home and community they have loved and supported like good citizens and move to a "safer" area in Maryland. Just so they could have the comfort of knowing that their wish would be granted to have each other make decisions if either were incapacitated.

They want to continue to support each other, in sickness as in health. Does this sound like something so horrific? Something that would threaten the sanctity of a traditional male-female relationship? Or does it sound like it's their own damn business?

I think the only effect this couple might have on my "traditional marriage" is in a positive way -- that the good example of a long-standing, loving, nurturing relationship is something that I can aspire to. I am without doubt that DH agrees.

I have been disgusted and disturbed and saddened by the unfair story of Barbara and Tibby, and the article has sat on my desk since December 18 when it showed up on my sidewalk out front. I thought it was time to say something about it.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Back to Normal

Yesterday was clean up day here at Chez Schavis. Bro Joe headed back to TX Saturday afternoon, and with his leaving, the party came to a screeching stop. It was so nice to have him here, and I think he had fun, but I also know that it is so good to be back home. His three boys were also back from their visit to FL.

We spent the majority of the day putting Christmas back in the closet under the stairs and the cellar. What a huge project it is. Of course, we had lots of feline help between their long naps. (I point you to Beau from yesterday's post).

New Baby/New Project

During the Holiday Hubbub, we received a message from SIL Bonnie that our sweet niece has determined that the wee babe she is carrying is scheduled to make HIS entrance on or about April 22, and will be called Hunter Michael.

Ya'll know I had to start a new project.

This is the front of a shoulder-button pullover, that will also have a matching stocking cap. I finished the back, but didn't photograph as it is pretty standard stockinette with minor neck shaping. I have found, in my limited experience, that the Brit patterns call for working the back first. This is a good thing! I tend to get a bit bored with straight stockinette, so doing it first -- and holding out for the pattern work! -- gives me a carrot at the end of the stick.

This yarn is a "Cotton Blend DK with Amicor (TM)pure for 'just washed' lasting freshness." (60% acrylic and 40% cotton). The label goes on to say that Amicor "is a speciality anti-bacterial fibre. It keeps next to the skin clothing gently fresher for extra comfort."

Has anyone had experience with this? I thought it sounded groovy at first -- keeping the baby comfy and such -- but now the idea of something chemical is a bit freaky.

Another question is for a tip I saw on a Amy Finlay video. When adding a new skein, she knits with both old and new working yarns for a few stitches, then drops the old. The idea is that the end is already worked in so there is less weaving in loss ends during finishing. I have tried it; first thought I didn't like the extra bulk; then decided that it was so minor and would never show there at the seam side. Anyone have a comment on this?

My Bestest Student!

I told ya'll a few days ago about "teaching" Gretchen to do multi-color work (when I have done nothing more than practice it myself).

It looks like I'm a better teacher than a knitter ... This is her practice work while she waits for the mailman to bring her yarn order. Is anyone else impressed? Gretchen Rocks! I tell you!

Her pattern is vintage -- from the 40s I think? -- and was the standard from which her Great Nana produced Christmas stockings for everyone in the family. Gretchen has decided to pick up the tradition and knit stockings for the spouses of her generation and the babies that are certain to arrive soon. I think it is a wonderful labor of love and I'm happy to have a knit pal just through the back fence.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy Freakin New Year

and shut off that damn light on your way out!
  • 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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