Sunday, December 21, 2008

We say Merry Christmas!

I've had a wonderful December leading up to Christmas. Instead of exchanging gifts this year, we've adopted a family and bought for them. I've always done the usual small things for people each year, but I have to say that this was so much fun. If your family is like ours, we buy for ourselves everything we want. So when it comes time to buy gifts for each other, it's incredibly challenging to come up with ideas. The only hard part of buying for someone who has nothing, is knowing when to stop. We concentrated mostly on clothing and shoes, and a camera for the mom. The people who are delivering the items are also cooking a meal for them, so it sounds like the family will have a wonderful Christmas.

So if you're feeling like a Scrooge this year, find a way to pay it forward. It seems like the more I give, the more I get back.

wii are rockin' out!

Along with the wii fit, we bought Rock Band and my formerly unmusical husband is totally obsessed! We play for an hour or two almost every night. Originally, I was going to be the guitar to his drums, but roles were quickly reversed when he realized how challenging the drums would be. It's been a lot of fun and we're actually getting pretty good. I just wish there were other genres of music available. I had to laugh when I saw the wii commercial where the kids are sitting bored on the couch while dad rocks out. I'll bet there are a lot of grammas and grandpas who are playing Rock Band on the sly. After all, we did grow up in the sixties. The wierd thing is that Bailey seems to love rock music. She gets all excited when we get the instruments out, the promptly falls asleep in the middle of everything. Strange dog!

Busy November

November has come and gone, but not without some big changes. I finally got my transfer to a facility that's only 3.5 miles from home. Woo-hoo! It's brand new and the administrator is very customer service oriented. They run this place like a hotel, and don't tolerate anything that might come off as unprofessional. Which includes a total ban on employee cell phones withing the facility. Several people have already been fired for texting when they were in public areas. And although it's inconvenient, I have to admit that I totally approve. Nothing irritates me more that someone messing with their cell phone when they should be paying attention to the residents! So rude!

The kids were here for Thanksgiving and we had a wonderful time visiting with them. James and I bought ourselves a wii and wii fit for an early Christmas present, and we all played the entire weekend. It took the grownups a couple of days to beat Riley (age 5) in bowling. He is incredibly coordinated! While he was waiting on us to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner, he drew me a picture.


On the left is a turkey. On the right is turkey pie. What an artist!

Ike Update

Well, it's now been almost 3 months and we're just getting repairs done. The fence was finished on Friday, shingles delivered on Saturday, and the roofers will be here next Monday after Christmas. We've been waiting on getting the roof fixed before we do any of the sheetrock repairs just in case we get more water damage for any reason. And although it's taken a while, I'm just thankful to have a home (and a job). I've met so many people who lost everything. We were very lucky.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yikes! Ike!

We made it through the hurricane with only minor damage compared to our neighbors in Galveston and the surrounding areas. We lost part of our fence, some shingles, and will have to repair a piece of sheetrock which got soaked when water came in a loose water heater roof vent. We were pretty well prepared, so we had generator power for the refrigerator, freezer, fans, television, and cell phone chargers. Plus we had gas water heaters and cooktop, and a well-stocked bar. That at least made the power outage a little more tolerable. Our power came back on the evening of day 4, but we just got cable and internet service yesterday (day 12). If I ever have to watch "Two and a Half Men" again, it will be too soon! I'm addicted to cable tv and email!

On the knitting front, I got a LOT done! Finished a pair of socks and started a baby shawl. It usually takes me months to do two socks since I only get to work on them in my spare time. Didn't do any spinning due to the sweat factor. It is incredibly difficult to spin wool with damp hands. No fun at all! And having all those little fibery bits falling on you. Yuk!

I took a few hurricane pictures on my phone, but the usb cable isn't working and I can't download them at the moment. Here is a picture of the finished socks though. This was a fun pattern to knit (if you don't mind short rows), and I like the finished look. They gave me some good ideas for dyeing yarn, so I'll probably do a couple more pair eventually. BTW, I love the Tofutsies yarn. It comes in great colorways and there is enough in one ball for even large feet.

Rainbow Socks
Designer: Susanne Kitzmann
Free Pattern: from Strickanleitungen
Yarn: Tofutsies (1 ball)
Needles: US 1

Rainbow Socks

Friday, September 5, 2008

The summer of finishing is finished

September has begun and my summer dedicated to finishing projects is done. It's been a fairly productive couple of months and I am SO ready to get started on some new things. And I don't even have to feel guilty about it! So here's the run down on what I got done...

Designer: Jane Sowerby in Victorian Lace Today
US 3 / 3.25 mm
Yarn: Jojoland Harmony
How much? 2 skeins = 1760.0 yards (1609.3m)


Designer: Susan Lawrence for
Needle: US 4 / 3.5 mm
Yarn: Jojoland Cashmere (2 ply)
How much? 1 skeins = 400.0 yards (365.8m)

Designer: Ann Budd for Knitting Daily
Needle: US 1 / 2.25 mm & US 2 / 2.75 mm
Yarn: Koigu Painter's Palette Premium Merino (I think)
How much? approx. 350.0 yards (320.0m)

Designer: Debby Ware
Needle: US 3 / 3.25 mm
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic

So now I have a very manageable list of unfinished objects (UFO's), I started a new pair of socks while watching the Republican Convention (sock it to 'em Sarah!), and found out today that a friend who has been trying to get pregnant for years finally did it. Sunday I'm off to Yarns 2 Ewe to look for baby yarn. I already have a project picked out - an adorable romper from an old Pengouin pattern booklet. I started it once before, but my fair isle skills have improved significantly since then and I want to change the colors up a bit.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Riley's 1st week away from home

All of us survived Riley's first whole week away from mom and dad. And in spite of the rain, we managed to get a lot done! We started the week at Moody Gardens in Galveston. The aquarium pyramid and rainforest pyramid got rave reviews from everyone. Riley's favorite animals were the sharks and the blue parrots. He even managed to get the parrot to talk a little bit.

After wandering through all the pyrimids and seeing the IMAX show on sea animals, we headed back to the hotel for a swim before dinner and the last shark Imax show. After pestering us all day to go to the pool, it took some coaxing from grandpa to actually get Riley in the water. But after a bit, he was splashing around with the rest of the kids. Maybe next year we'll get him swimming.

At one point during the day, Riley took this photo of gramma and grandpa. I had to laugh when I finally saw it because it looks the way the day actually felt - like a whirlwind!

On Wednesday and Thursday, the guys headed to MSR Houston to test out the carts. This was more up Riley's alley and he had a great time! Is his own cart in the future? We'll see...


On Friday, we found some pint-sized golf clubs, climbed in the golf cart, and headed out to see how they played. Unfortunately, I forgot the camera and Riley was not about to let me waste any time to go back and get it. Maybe next time. He was able to hit the ball about 30 yards with the driver and 7-iron. We're still working on etiquette on the green. Trying to get this kid to slow down long enough to aim was a challenge! He took the clubs home with him so dad can help him before our next outing. Unfortunately, we had to head home on Saturday so he could settle in a little bit before kindergarten and soccer practice start on Monday. Next summer, we'll have to plan for more time. As always, there's just too much to do.

Ravelympics comes to a close

It's been a grueling couple of weeks, but I've managed to finish up quite a few projects that had been sitting around for a while. I always look forward to the Olympics because it's a good excuse to sit and knit for hours at a stretch. This year, Ravelry sponsored their own "Ravelympics" and I joined the "WIP Wrestling" team. Here are pics of the projects I managed to finish...

Victoria Shawl
from "Victorian Lace Today"
Yarn: Jojoland Harmony
Yardage: about 1760 yds.
Needles: US 3

Baby Beret
by Debby Ware
Yarn: Tahki Cotton
Yardage: unknown
Needles: US 3

Branching Out Scarf
by Susan Lawrence on
Yarn: Jojoland Cashmere
Yardage: less than 1 ball
Needles: US 3
Branching Out Scarf

Ambrosia Socks
by Ann Budd
Yarn: Koigu merino
Yardage: about 350 yards
Needles: US 1 for foot, US 2 for leg

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Forest Path Stole

My "summer of finishing" just keeps rolling along. This week I've finished the Forest Path Stole from the Summer 2003 issue of Interweave Knits. When I started this pattern back in 2004, it was a big struggle. It is a lace, entrelac pattern which was exceedingly hard to keep up with as a fairly new lace knitter. So it often languished in my knitting basket as other less challenging projects intervened. But suddenly, when I decided to dive in and finish it this summer, it was amazingly simple. It's like a light bulb went on. Just goes to show what experience will do for you. I am so thrilled to have this to wear this winter! Nothing like cashmere to make a girl feel good. Here are the specs:

Pattern: Forest Path Stole
Designer: Faina M. Letoutchaia
Published: Summer 2003 Interweave Knits
Finished size: 32" x 88"
Yarn: Cashmere America 2 ply 100% Cashmere
Yardage: ~2200 yds.

Forest Path Shawl

Forest Path Shawl

All this negative energy!

Have you ever noticed how miserable, negative people are able to just suck the life out of everything around them? They seem to drag you in when you least expect it, and as much as you try and fight it, they just seem to drag you down deeper and deeper. While I was on the Nordic Track today and mulling over the events of the last few weeks, I suddenly realized that it's MY choice whether I get down in the muck, or just blow them off and go back to my happy existence. I have no idea why that is so hard to see sometimes, but it sure is nice when you break free of all that negativism and mean-spiritedness. What goes around, comes around. So let's spread a little caring.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The Bucket List

I rejoined Netflix so I'll have some movies to watch as I finish knitting and spinning projects this summer. Can't start anything new until Sept. 1. So last week we watched "The Bucket List", which was much better than I had heard from reviews. But maybe it was because we're in their demographic. Ouch! Anyway, it got me thinking about my own bucket list and I'm going to start an official one. Mind you, this is going to be a fluid project with additions and deletions as my interests change. As I've been thinking about it though, I have learned that I don't really have any desire to do the usual cliche things, like skydive, and it centers heavily on travel. And I also learned that I've actually done a lot of things that would have been on the list. So here goes with what's left (in no particular order for now).

Have my own craft studio and maybe teach some classes
Take grandkids on a summer tour of the U.S.
Watch the July 4th fireworks in Washington D.C.
Take a raft trip through the Grand Canyon
See the Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors, and the Forbidden City in China
Do a bike tour of New England in the fall
Take the train rides across Canada, and in Alaska to Denali
Volunteer at an elementary school
Do more spinning demo days

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Check This Out!

James' profile in the Continental Airlines inflight magazine came out this month. You can read the full article here. Sounds like a pretty fun retirement job! I hope I'm having that much fun when I finally get to retire...

My racer guy

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Independence Day

For anyone who doesn't know me, I am a therapist in a nursing home. On most Fridays (or whatever is the last day of the week), we do fun activities, skip exercise, etc. At the end of our sessions, we pick a different topic to discuss each week (usually pertaining to current events or holidays). Today we shared our experiences of Independence Day traditions. Oh sure, we got a lot of picnics, parades, hot dogs, apple pie, etc. But I want to share the most unusual story I've ever heard.

"All year long, Uncle Dub saved all the bits of string that he came across and wound them into a ball. By July 3rd, this ball was about the size of a basketball. On the day before the Independence Day celebrations, he soaked this big ball of string in kerosene. Then as night approached on July 4th, family and friends gathered in the pasture, the ball was set on fire, and everyone (kids included) played hot potato until it went out." According to our storyteller, kerosene doesn't burn very hot. So if you catch and throw quick enough, you don't get burned.

Can you imagine what would happen if you tried something like this today? First off, poor old Uncle Dub and all the children's parents would be arrested for endangering their kids. If you are over 50, I'm sure that you can think of plenty of things that were commonplace when you were a child, that you'd get in major trouble for today. But somehow we lived through it. I'm not advocating taking your kids out to a pasture to play with a fire ball, but it just illustrates how times have changed.

Hope you all have a safe and fun July 4th with plenty of hot dogs, fireworks, watermelon, or whatever.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lyra Finished!!!

Last night I managed to finish binding off all but one repeat before I had to leave for a guild meeting. Then when I got home, we had had a lightning storm which knocked out power to the neighborhood! I stayed up as long as I could hoping that the power would come back on so I could finish, but finally had to give up. So this morning I got up and crocheted off the end, washed it, and Lyra is now on the floor blocking in my living room. I think it looks better than I expected. My plan was to use it as a topper over a white tablecloth, but the colors bled so bad during washing that I'm afraid to do that now. So I guess it will just be another shawl, even though I am not a big fan of round shawls - too bulky on my football shoulders. Here are the statistics for those of you who care:

Pattern: Lyra, by Herbert Niebling
Yarn: Heritage Yarns 8/2 Tencel in "Tallahatchee Bridge" colorway
Amount: Started with 8oz skein of approx. 1680 yds. Had 2oz left. Used approx. 1470 yds.
Needles: US 2 and 3
Blocked dimension: 60" diameter

Before pinning
Lyra unblocked

After pinning (this is what makes lace knitting worth it)
Lyra blocking

Lyra closeup1

Lyra closeup2

My project for this summer is to finish some things that have been sitting for a while, so now it's on to the Forest Path Stole. I want to be able to wear that yummy cashmere this winter!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Merino Finished (finally!)

This is the first yarn spun from fresh fleece that I actually finished spinning all of it. Does that make sense? I've bought several fleeces, but haven't managed to get all of any single one completely spun up. Until now! This fleece is a merino/romeldale cross that I bought from a lady in Montana. Unfortunately, all the contact info is on my old dead computer. Here is approx. 1800 yds of soft, springy, fingering wt. yarn. There was actually more, but I gifted some of it. Originally, I had carded the cleaned fiber, but it ended up full of neps. Those are tiny balls of fiber dispersed all through the batts of fiber, which if left in will eventually turn into pills onto finished knitwear. So about halfway through spinning, I bought some Indigo Hound 5-pitch combs and combed all the remaining batts to get the neps out. This created a lot of waste fiber, but it sure was easier to spin! So I learned a valuable lesson about merino - check carefully for second cuts, then comb, don't card. I have really been working hard to finish this because I'm dying to start on some beautiful alpaca that is calling my name. Now I don't have to feel guilty!

Merino x Romeldale handspun
merino x romeldale handspun yarn

Saturday, June 14, 2008

WWKIP Day - Houston, TX

We had a good showing for World-Wide Knit in Public Day. The group of 80+ gathered at Northwest Mall to enjoy an afternoon of knitting with others who understand our addiction. There were lots of old friends from the Knit at Night Guild, as well as many from Ravelry. It was fun to put faces to some of the screen names that you see all the time. Hopefully this event will keep growing every year.

Here's our favorite shop baby, Abby, with mom, Wendy, owner of Yarns 2 Ewe.

Random shots of the crowd...




Thursday, June 12, 2008

World-wide Knit in Public Day

This Saturday, June 14th, is World-wide Knit in Public Day. The Houston event is being held at Northwest Mall from 1-4pm. Click the link to register and get more information. Looks like there is going to be a good turnout, especially among Ravelry members. You can register online until 11.59pm tonight (Thursday), or at the center of the mall on Saturday. So load up the knitting bag and we'll see you there!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Bye, Gran.

Today marks the passing of a wonderful and amazing woman – my grandmother, Sophie Setliff. She was always the strongest and most resilient person I knew, and it’s hard to believe that she’s gone. I always felt like she would be here forever, or at least as long as I was. My grandmother was the person who passed on her creativity to me, and inspired me in all the fiberarts. She was a wonderful seamstress, making most of the dresses for me, my sister, my cousins, and all the Barbies when we were growing up. She also crocheted and quilted many beautiful pieces for our family and others. She loved her church and her friends. But most remarkable was that each of us felt like we were her “favorite” grandchild. You could ask any one of us who was the favorite, and we would have responded, “I am.” When you got to spend the week at granny’s house, you ruled the world. She made all your favorite foods, let you do whatever you liked, played all your favorite games, and made you feel like the center of her universe. If you wanted 9 potato pancakes, that’s just what you got. At holidays, we all got to have our favorite foods. I just hope that I can be such a wonderful grandmother to my grandchildren.

At 97, Sophie was ready to be with her husband again and to put this world behind her. She had had a whole and fulfilling life. We’ll miss you Gran, but are glad you are finally where you longed to be. Give Grandpa a kiss from me.

Love, Theresa

Granny & Grandpa

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Honey Bees

Not much to add today, and too busy trying to cram in a weeks worth of work into a weekend. But don't we all! I was just outside weeding one of my flowerbeds and noticed the bees swarming this magnolia blossom. They were rolling around in that bloom like nickel beer night at the Astrodome. Those of you under 50 probably won't remember that. Anyway, thought it was interesting and wanted to share.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Look ma, I'm weaving!

Since I had a holiday from work, I took advantage of it and spent the day weaving my first project - a sampler. I was surprised at how fast it went! I had a 10' warp on the loom (see pics below), and started weaving about 9am. With breaks for lunch, occasional resting, and to cook dinner, I finished the weaving about 5pm. It took me several more hours to tie off all the fringe, weave in ends, and clean up my work area. I did the sample project in Deborah Chandler's book Learning to Weave. This is a great reference for anyone just starting out. I was able to figure out everything I needed, plus it has a lot of options that I'll try out in the future. I took lots of pics as I went and have added them to my photo album instead of taking up space here. But I do want to share one of the finished products. I had enough warp to do generous samples of the patterns, and some left over to make a placemat. After washing, I did learn that this yarn needs to have hemmed edges in the future. The fringe disintegrates in the washer. There was one mistake that the book said would probably correct itself with washing, but it didn't. I had threaded the reed with 2 threads/dent, but missed one. I didn't want to take everything apart and move everything over, so I just moved one thread making 2 dents with 1 thread each. It shows up as a loose space throughout the sampler. Oddly enough, it did fix itself on the 2x2 twill section. Probably because of the looseness of the pattern. Oh well, now I know to go ahead, bite the bullet, and fix any threading errors before starting. Here's a pic of the final product.

1st weaving sampler
Placemat and Sampler

1st Woven Placemat
My 1st Placemat

Sample of rib weave for placemat

Sunday, May 25, 2008

My First Warp

Will add more description later, but here are pics of my first warp on the Ashford Table Loom. And it only took me one whole day!!

Warp chains hanging on front of loom
Chained warp

Halfway through sleying the reed
Sleying the reed

Sleyed reed

Threading the heddles
Threading heddles

Finished warp - front view
Finished warp - front view

Finished warp - rear view
Finished warp - rear view

Finished warp - side view
Finished warp - side view

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Take me out to the ball game

Riley is playing tee ball, but they only have games on Monday's and Thursday's. Since I really have been needing some time off anyway, I decided to go up for one of the last games of the season. The Braves were playing the undefeated Phillys. Riley's team actually has some very good hitters, but no one can catch a ball or has any idea what to do with it once they do, and the coaching is almost non-existent. The Phillys, on the other hand, have a good pitcher and first baseman; and their coaching staff actually coaches. Needless to say, the Braves lost. But at 5 years old, none of them really care as long as they get some gum and a snack at the end. I love watching them though. Everybody kind of doing their own thing, looking around, waving to the crowd. Just having a good time. Actually that's what it's all about.


Riley did get a couple of good hits and made one run, so it was a successful game.


Tucker has the best seat in the house!

However, he doesn't stay there very long...

A musical interlude

The last couple of weeks have been a blur, with hardly any knitting done at all. We've been swamped at work, plus I had my cello recital on the 17th. I was actually able to learn enough in 4 months to have a few pieces to play. Practice was going along pretty well and things were sounding ok a couple of weeks before the big day. Then I woke up with a sore back two days after the Mother's Day adventure, and got virtually no practice in that last week before recital. At one point my back hurt so bad, I could hardly get up and down, roll over in bed, or sit in a chair for very long. Thankfully I had a scheduled day off on Wednesday, and was able to get a massage which helped quite a bit. Then I was able to make it through Thursday and Friday at work. Then on Friday, as I went out to leave, the dog car broke down. So it's 95 degrees and humid, and I'm feeling pretty cranky at this point. Luckily, James was at the track and was able to come down and try to start it. He surmised that the engine wasn't getting any fuel, so we went back to the track to get a trailer to tow the car. Ended up getting home about 6pm. That took care of the good practice session I had planned, but I did run through things just to keep them in my head.

Saturday arrives, and the car that the cello rides in is DOA at the track so off I go with it riding in the passenger seat of the convertible. What a sight! All this time I've been telling myself that I'm not nervous, no one knows me anyway, they're only there to hear their kids, etc. But when the program starts, those knees start to knocking! I did manage to get on stage without incident, which was a blessing in itself. When we planned the order of my pieces, I decided to do the hardest one first. Originally it was because I didn't want to be tired when I got to that one. But it worked out well in other ways. It took that whole first piece for my nerves to settle down so I could breathe and steady my bow. Then the second piece and my duet with my teacher actually sounded pretty good. Ending on a good note kind of pushed the rocky start into the background. I thought I did pretty well for a beginner! Hopefully next year won't be so stressful! Sorry, no pics.

Mother's Day 2008

Since the grandson's birthdays bracket Mother's Day, I decided to go up for the big party and take my own mom with me since she doesn't get to see them very often and it was a nice break for the two of us anyway. Seems like we just don't get much time to visit like we used to when we played golf all the time. So it was nice to have a 4 hour drive to catch up.

On the big day, our job was to entertain Riley while his mom and dad got things ready for the party at the park. So we started with a little basketball. How many kids can say that they shot hoops with their great-grandmother?!

After that, it was off to McDonald's for a quick lunch and a few minutes on the playground there. Riley is slowly expanding his diet to include a few more items besides chicken nuggets and macaroni & cheese, but not much. It's no wonder he's such a string bean.

Once we hit the park, from then on everything is a blur! They've got loads of cousins, plus Riley's class was invited too, so there were kids everywhere. Tucker was a little overwhelmed by all the chaos and was happiest just hanging out on the swings with mom.
After the pinata was broken and things were starting to wind down, someone snapped this shot of us, not too worse for wear. Unfortunately, I didn't get time to find mom. I never seem to be able to get everyone in a picture at the same time!

Finally we made it home and I managed to get one picture with the boys, but had to give them food to sit still for a few seconds. And once bath time was over we all crashed. It's exhausting just being around that many kids under 6!

After a mother's day breakfast near our hotel, mom and I headed for home on Sunday. Shelly deserved to have at least a little time for herself and to see her own mom without having to entertain us. Plus, as always, I've got work the next day. Since we made it back in the afternoon, we had time to stop by to wish Gran a Happy Mother's Day too. She's looking pretty good for 97!

Hope all the mothers out there had a wonderful weekend that involved no cooking or cleaning!