Saturday, December 29, 2007

Stained Memories

A worn book with stained and tattered pages rests on the shelf, and despite its neglected state, it contains invaluable memories of my childhood. My mother's scrawled handwriting on the back pages and cover make the book priceless.

Mom rarely tried new recipes, but she was a collector. She would clip recipes out of magazines and newspapers and tuck them into every cookbook and in the recipe box. She would write recipes she heard on the radio on the backs of envelopes and receipts. Recipe cards were stuffed in the box of foods tasted she had sampled at a neighbor's house.

Her favorite recipes were used often and are linked to memories of special occasions.


I am much like my mother. I have numerous cookbooks and rarely use them. I also clip recipes and file them away for the perfect occasion.

Friday, December 28, 2007

On My Toes



Since I began knitting socks, I have wanted some sock blockers. I thought it would be helpful to gauge the length of the foot, especially those socks knitted for gifts. I saw these blockers on Loopy Ewe and knew they were exactly what I wanted. They were a Christmas gift to myself.

Now, I can also take clear photos of the socks I make and have made.

For this sock I used the Gull Wings pattern and Lornas Laces Shepherd Sport yarn -- Cedar



This easy rib-cuff sock also is from Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport yarn -- Vera



Another easy rib-cuff sock using Austermann Step, self-striping yarn. The yarn has Aloe Vera in it, so it is so nice to knit and to wear.



All of the socks have been worn and laundered several times, and I am pleased with the ease of their care.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Snow Angel


Isn't this amazing! I spotted it in the backyard when I was doing dishes, and I don't have a clue how it got there. Any ideas what created this impression in the snow?

The area around it is void of any tracks, and it would be extremely difficult to make something like this without disturbing the surrounding area.

This phenomenon was visible until the wind drifted the snow in my backyard.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Will You Accept?


During the holiday season it is common to give gifts to family and friends. In that spirit, I offer this challenge to my readers. I saw this challenge on Rites of Passage, and I responded to Debbie's offer. By accepting her invitation, I promised to provide the same opportunity to receive a handmade gift to my blog readers. I hope that you will be moved to leave a comment and join the fun.

It’s the Pay It Forward Exchange. It’s based on the concept of the movie “Pay it Forward” where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return, just passing it on, with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness are passed on.

So, here’s how it works. I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this Pay It Forward exchange. I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month, but it will be sent (within 3 months) and that’s a promise! What you have to do in return, then, is Pay It Forward by making the same promise on your blog.

I will now Pay It Forward to the first THREE individuals who accept my offer and leave a comment. Then, one day, you will get a gift that I have made especially for YOU! I promise not to delay too long in getting it made and sent.

To accept this challenge, you don’t have to knit or crochet. Anyone who can make a nice handmade gift is welcome to join. And, remember…you have 3 - 6 months to get your gifts done!

If you’re interested, leave a comment, and I’ll email you to get your mailing address.

Record Christmas Season

My Christmas spirit has been fading, so this morning I recruited some old friends to help pull me out of my “Humbug” state. It has been ages since many of these LP’s have been played. Okay, I realize that some people reading this may not know about LP’s, so let me explain.

In ancient times, the 1950’s through the 1980’s, Mp3 players did not exist. CD’s did not exist. Gasp!

Without these modern devices, music was played and enjoyed on something called a phonograph or a Hi-Fi. Even in those days, music was recorded on many formats: 78 rpm, 45 rpm, and 33 rpm. The 33 disks were called LP’s or long-playing records. The 45 was almost exclusively limited to new, single releases and many were sent to radio stations to allow artists to get their work “on the air.” The 78 is an older format and was nearly phased out by the time that I bought albums although I do have some from my mother’s collection.

At a craft show in Kansas this fall, I was aghast that people were painting on old LP albums. My sister bought a record that had a Christmas scene painted on one side. The booth was popular as ladies gathered around reminiscing about albums they owned.

I cannot part with my albums and even bought a reproduction phonograph five years ago so I could play them occasionally. It appears that many baby-boomers want to enjoy their albums because I have seen these phonographs in many catalogs and stores this holiday season.

Tuesday's Commitment



Tuesday night is dedicated to my knitting group. We meet faithfully at the local library in one of the multi-purpose rooms and bring our latest projects (completed and on the needles), knitting questions, newly purchased yarn, and sometimes even treats, and for two wonderful hours we are immersed in a calm atmosphere that only knitters can appreciate.



The actual size of the group varies from week to week. Sometimes as many of 15 attend, other times merely a handful.



LeAnn worked several weeks on the components of this felted wreath.



I joined this group about a year ago, and thanks to them, I have challenged myself to try more difficult projects. I have grown as a knitter thanks to these ladies.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sweaters for Baby Pack Project

I finished two more sweaters for the Baby Pack Project, bringing the total of finished sweaters up to six. I hope to get some socks made to match these sweaters. Since they are going to South Africa, I doubt that I will make hats to match.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Words to Live By

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

by Emily Dickinson

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Making the Rounds

Sitting in my favorite chair with a cup of steaming tea on the side table, I complete my morning routine of checking e-mail, message boards, and blogs. It has become habit, almost an obsession.

The morning newspaper is on the floor, unopened and unread, waiting for its appointed time. Reflecting on my daily ritual, I recognize that the cyber world is a higher priority than my "real world." I remember watching the movie, "The Net" when it was released in 1995. The main character's (Sandra Bullock) life revolved around her computer and her job. Technology nearly erased her life. The message of this movie is sobering.

Even though my existence is not threatened like Sandra Bullock's character, I have to wonder if I have I allowed technology to erase my reality?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Knitting Angel


This Knitting Angel found a soft spot in my heart and a special place on my Christmas tree. The hostess of the Knitting group, Christmas dinner crafted these cute ornaments for everyone. They would be simple to make and include: a purchased doll about 3 inches high, feather wings, toothpick needles with bead ends, and some gold cord for the hanger. They are absolutely adorable.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Learning Curve


This is my first attempt at knitting a garment, and I am pleased with the work in progress. The pattern I am using is Baby Raglan Sweater

I know I made mistakes, but my learning curve is steep. The maize yarn is a Red Heart acrylic sport weight that was given to me this summer. An elderly lady gave me four or five bulging garbage bags of yarn this summer, and most of it is sport and fingering weight. I am gradually knitting baby items for charities with the stash.

I will make another sweater now that I am rounding the bend on my Learning Curve.


Update: The sweater is finished as is one from a different pattern. I think I am addicted.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Tremors

I've felt the subtle and sometimes not so subtle tremors since mid-October when I left home. They started so slowly that they didn't even register on my warning system - the scale. Have a little piece of cake, take some licorice (it's fat free, but unfortunately not calorie free.

Then I progressed to splurging on entire meals.

"What do you say we go to Panda Express for some fast Chinese food?" Duh, as if that was a hard decision to make.

"Want a pizza tonight?" A lovely bread crust with gobs of melted cheese? Let me think on that as I lick my fingers.

Slowly my clothes became tighter, but I still didn't stop my destructive behavior. I gave in to all of those tempting treats for a month, and boy did the scale show the effect. I gained pounds and even some inches.

Did I stop this behavior when I got home? Shamefully, I must say, "No." I am taking steps to get myself back on track, but it is so difficult. I am exercising every day in two short sessions - in home waling or cycling on a recumbent bike. I refuse to turn on the computer until I have done at least one set because I will get distracted and then "forget" to exercise.

Hopefully, these steps will stop the tremors from turning into a devastating quake.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Jars


Every year I try to find a book that focuses on the meaning of Christmas, and this year I hit the jackpot. I read Christmas Jars by Jason Wright yesterday. It is a quick read, but it packs a punch. The whole concept of the book appeals to me - a pay it forward gift for those in need. The ending was a bit contrived (the author worked too hard to tie up some loose ends), but it didn't diminish the impact the story had on me.

I recommend this book to anyone who has lost faith in the spirit of Christmas or in mankind or just wants a booster shot of goodwill. You should be able to read it in an afternoon, but the message will stay with you indefinitely.

Here is what others are saying about Christmas Jars

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Lonesome No More

Something about being in the city amid the pre-holiday bustle motivated me to drag my Christmas tree out of the garage. Yep, it is no longer the Lonesome Pine.

The tree used to stand proudly in the front room so it could be seen from the street; however, I placed it in the room closest to the garage so I would not have to handle it more than necessary. Actually, I spend more time in this room anyway so I will be able to enjoy it more. I love to sit in the darkened room with only the tree lights lit. It is very calming to look at the tree and remember past holidays and traditions.

A lot of my other holiday house decorations have come out of hibernation, too. I have slowly emptied the storage tubs and placed the cheery displays around the house. I am thankful for the burst of energy that allowed me to bring these old friends back into my home. They will remain on display until the middle of January when they will be returned to storage. Hopefully in the years to come, my Christmas tree will be lonesome no more.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Beyond This Point

Old World maps have much in common with today's Map Quest and GPS mapping. If a development is new, these modern devices do not have a clue of the location of the address, so the warning, "Beyond this point, there be demons" is so very true.

My niece moved into a new home in a new development and the postal service did not know where the street was located. They refused to delivery to the neighborhood because the road/street was not on their maps. I am driving to her home tomorrow and even though I have been there several times, I have never actually driven there. I tried to get driving directions only to find that her address/street is not in the system. Once I am in the area, I am confident that I can find her home, so I toyed with Map Quest for a bit and now I have a general idea where I am going. If I see mermaids or dragons, I am going to lock the doors and hit the accelerator!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What Was I Thinking?

Even though they are compressed in three Space Bags, the wool sweaters that I purchased at several thrift shops in Denver are taunting me. Why on earth did I buy 47 sweaters? Yes, that is right 47 wool sweaters! Very few of them are even in my size, but I didn't purchase the sweaters to wear.

Who in their right mind buys 47 sweaters? I don't claim to even be in my right mind, but I purchased them because I love to knit and do a lot of charity knitting. So many of the charities require natural fibers, and I definitely cannot afford to buy the wool that I need for these projects. So, I purchase 100% wool or wool-blend sweaters and ravel them for the wool.

It is a messy and time-consuming process, but well worth it in the end. An average sweater will yield a minimum of four skeins of wool yarn. Anyone who has priced wool knows that each skein is at least $10 and sometimes even $20 or more. Thus, I can justify spending an average of $3 a sweater to obtain, at the very least, $40 worth of yarn.

Before this last shopping spree, I had dismantled, washed, and skeined the wool from ten sweaters. I have already knit the wool from two of them. Once I process the sweaters that are compressed in the Space Bags, I should have a yarn stash worth $1,880 for an investment of $140. I wish that my CD's earned as much!

The yarn is wound into skeins after the sweater is ravelled.



The yarn skeins are placed in a sudsy hot water bath. They are allowed to soak for two hours so the fibers can relax and return to a natural state.





Gently squeeze the skeins and place in a hot water rinse for another hour.


Then gently squeeze the yarn to remove excess water. Drape the skeins on hangers and allow to drip dry. I place a rolled towel in the bottom loop of the skein to absorb moisture which allow faster drying. Make sure yarn is completely dry before storing or using. I have since learned to gently squeeze out the excess water and then put the hanks in the washer and spin out the rest of the water. Spin only do not agitate and then hang to dry.

This is a time-consuming process, but satisfying. Recycling is worthwhile in more ways than saving money. I wish more people would take the initiative.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's All Hot Air

No matter if it is my own thought/opinion or someone else's, it is ALL hot air. I've rolled my eyes (literally or figuratively) at someone's tirade in the past, and no doubt others have done the same at mine. Be prepared to roll your eyes at some of the things that I write. It will not bother me in the least: it's all hot air.
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