Thursday, January 31, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - Quirky

Sometimes I find eccentric characters quirky and fun, other times I find them too unbelievable and annoying. What are some of the more outrageous characters you’ve read, and how do you feel about them?

I can see from the other participants in this week's BTT that most of us struggled a bit with this one. Maybe it is because I often strive to be eccentric and quirky, but I usually find that I identify more with the outrageous characters than with those that go about their dreery way filling out the story. I want to escape and go places where I've never been and do things that I would never dream of doing. If I cannot muster the spirit to do these things, then the characters I read simply must. I adore the goofy and serious eccentrics in the Harry Potter series and all of Douglas Adams' characters were certainly eccentric. Even Dent, Arthur Dent had an eccentric streak in him. Probably the only quirky character that I can think of that I didn't like was Mr. Wodehouse from Jane Austen's Emma. He was such a hypochondriac that everyone had to adjust everything they did and said to ensure that he didn't spoil every event. That was a bit too much even for me. I want my eccentrics to get out of the house!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Red Sky At Morning?

Eh, it might not be significant.

I'm just glad I don't have my sister's weather right now:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Your Blog Should Be Purple

You're an expressive, offbeat blogger who tends to write about anything and everything.
You tend to set blogging trends, and you're the most likely to write your own meme or survey.
You are a bit distant though. Your blog is all about you - not what anyone else has to say.

Monday, January 28, 2008


The Gathered Pullover isn't quite finished. I finished weaving in ends and sewing the shoulder seams last night, but decided that I wanted to be fresh and alert before attempting to sew in the sleeves. Considering that I have sneaking suspicion that I may have to rip out and re-knit the shoulder caps, that is probably a good thing. I had, um, gauge issues. I remembered to compensate when knitting the sleeves before the underarm, but (in)conveniently forgot when I got to the caps.

My Fortune Cookie told me:
When the camel says quack, it is time to check your drink.
Get a cookie from Miss Fortune

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

It has been a blustery weekend. Saturday was mostly beautiful, but the rain started late in the afternoon and continued off and on through the night. Sunday started out sunny and gorgeous, but the clouds came in and we got quite wet when we went out to run a few errands. It is a perfect day for a book! It is also a perfect day for knitting and I might even finish my Gathered Pullover before bedtime. Knitting and Jane Austen (on Masterpiece) - that sounds like a winner!

Today's book is Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table, by Linda Ellerbee. This book is part travelogue, part cookbook, part memoir, and all Ellerbee. Ms. Ellerbee is a witty writer with just enough edge to keep you going, but not so much to put you off. I had the good fortune to see her at the last California Women's Conference where she and Nora Ephron held court for not nearly long enough. They played off each other well. I further had the good fortune to hit the author tables at the perfect time and had no one behind me as I had my copy of this book signed by the author herself. Of course, I completely blew my opportunity to ask any insightful questions and stuck with safe subjects like California geography and the fires that were raging as we were speaking.

I have been very lucky in that the last several books I have read have all been winners. This book takes you on travels around the world and through time. There is a thread of larger history woven throughout that keeps the book from becoming too self indulgent. That is my usual complaint about autobiographical books. The author is too close to the subject for objective views. Ms. Ellerbee's journalistic background saves her (mostly) from this fundamental flaw. This is a great rainy day read as it takes you far away from wherever you are. It would also be a perfect vacation book since it doesn't demand much from the reader beyond a taste for a little adventure.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Saturday Sky, but No Lacrosse

The sky is gorgeous blue with almost no clouds to be seen. Yet there is no lacrosse today. I know, I finally send out cards and promise lacrosse game reviews and photos, and then I don't deliver. Even though the weather (and snowy mountains) are gorgeous now, there is a threat of rain later today and tomorrow. More importantly, we have had a nice, soaking rain for most days of this past week. This means that the lacrosse fields are nice and wet so that a full day of feet pounding across them with soccer cleats would be really damaging. Young Man will have to content himself with practicing with friends. Our back yard now has three kids with three lacrosse sticks (and who knows how many balls) happily playing.

The front yard got a visitor posing for a screen shot.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Eye Candy Flashback

Because we could all use some flowers in January...

Young Man in my sister's flower garden in 1999.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

What’s your favorite book that nobody else has heard of? You know, not Little Women or Huckleberry Finn, not the latest best-seller . . . whether they’ve read them or not, everybody “knows” those books. I’m talking about the best book that, when you tell people that you love it, they go, “Huh? Never heard of it?”

The book I picked for this week's question isn't exactly unknown (#16,981 in sales rank), but I have noticed that I get one of two reactions whenever I mention it. Either people give me a blank stare (even online, I can feel that stare) and ask, "What is that about?" or their entire face lights up with excitement and they flush with the memories of the first time they read the book and they gush, "I LOVE that book!" My answer to this week's question is The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, by Neal Stephenson.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rain & Randomness

Yes, it is raining quite nicely now. The drive home wasn't dreadful. I was quite surprised. Southern Californians have as a group have a real problem with water falling from the sky. It doesn't happen much, so when it does, people panic. Burma! Yeah, like that.

The bread machine is cranking away at pretzel dough. We sincerely hope that these two new batches are as yummy as the first batch from last night.

What I really want is a nice cup of tea and I blames some certain bloggers for encouraging me to drop my knitting projects and finally make a tea cosy.

Who knew that Lego Star Wars I was faster than Lego Star Wars II? These are the PC versions. Young Man is very happy that his software arrived in the mail (we didn't tell him that it arrived last night - he had homework). I'm just happy to listen to something that isn't the Emperor's hideous chuckle.

And now it is time for the penguin on top of your television set to explode.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Thursday is Heritage Day at Young Man's school. What this means for us is we prepare something yummy to eat for Young Man to share with his schoolmates. Every year we try to come up with something that reflects our heritage and will also be considered edible by children. Considering that between Mr. Engineer and me, we do not exactly share exotic or often even palatable cuisines. Let's face it, there are a whole lot of German, English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, and East Prussian foods that would not be recognized as food by your average school-age American kid. Most years, we settle on Irish Soda Bread or cookies. This year we are making soft pretzels. For some reason, carbs seem to be high on our list of foods that we think of when we think of our family histories.

This whole question of heritage and how to celebrate it is an interesting one. Our families have definitely managed to blend into the melting pot. My family is a mix of fairly recent immigrants and multi-generation American. On both sides, I have great-grandparents who emigrated (from Germany and England) and great-great-great grandparents who were born in the United States. Some quickly adapted to their new home and others strove to keep their birth country languages and cultures in tact. Eventually, all blended in and nearly all of the "old country" ways (and recipes) were lost. Now we have to hunt through cookbooks to find remnants of the recipes that we remember or wish that we remember.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Tut, Tut

Yes, it does look like rain. It did rain a few drops this morning, but mostly it has been a dreary day. Young Man had an extended visit with a friend and I'm sure they made a complete shambles of the playroom and created many fantastic Lego ships for a grand and glorious battle. All that creative energy made me rather jealous as I spent the day working from home. Still, there has been knitting going on in the evenings and this is certainly the type of weather that makes me want to start more projects. Here are the main items currently on the needles:
The current socks are a pair of Twin Rib socks using a skein of Opal Rodeo that I picked up shortly after I started knitting socks. The texture almost seems too much for the yarn, but it definitely needed more than a basic 6x2 ribbing.

This mostly shapeless blob is the better part of the body of my Gathered Pullover. The yarn was purchased at my very first bag sale. It took me two years to find the right pattern. I do hope this works as it currently seems rather large. The bottom also rolls up even more than I thought it would.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

Today's book is the first in the Chronicles of Prydain series, The Book of Three, by Lloyd Alexander. Somehow, I missed out on this series when I was growing up. Apparently, it didn't make it to my small town school library. Last year I asked some of my book club members for recommendations for books that would interest Young Man. This series came back highly recommended, so I picked up the first one to screen it. Young Man is an avid reader, but sometimes is a bit squeamish about too much danger in his books. At 10, that is fine by his parents. I'm not completely sure that Young Man is ready for this one. He might be. I compare its scary factor to be slightly higher than Spiderwick Chronicles or Artemis Fowl, but definitely less than the Voldemort scenes from Harry Potter.

The series begins with Taran, a young man who tends the gardens and animals at Caer Dallben. He is a typical young boy stranded out in the boonies, with an uncertain past, and looking for adventure (hmmm, sounds suspiciously like Luke Skywalker, doesn't it?). As happens in this genre, adventure finds the boy as he sets out to rescue Hen Wen, the oracular pig whom he is charged to protect. Hen Wen needs far less protection than Taran realizes, but that doesn't stop the adventure from proceeding. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and intend to pick up the rest of the series for myself. Young Man can have them in a few months. I think he was most put off by the picture on the cover. The Horned King strikes a fearsome pose in his great, antlered mask. The book itself is less frightening than the cover!

If you are looking for an adventure series for your 9-12 year old reader, this is a great one to pick!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Moon in the Saturday Sky

the Moon was up high
the boys played well as a team
they won sudden death

If it is Saturday, it must be lacrosse! Yes, we were back out at the field, our camp chairs and cameras in tow. The chairs saw little use once the game began, but they were useful for keeping backpacks and camera bags off the dirt track that runs around the playing field. After last week's rout, we had warned Young Man that his team would not have it so easy this weekend. This week's opponent was much more experienced than the team they faced last week and we were not certain of the result until the very, very end.

The action was fast and furious. Just after Young Man went in on defense, he made a very nice pass to his teammate.

Later, he continued his excellent defensive play by charging hard even when his man was much larger. In fact, we noticed that the other team scored most of their goals when Young Man was not on the field.

Play continued until the final whistle and the score was tied 7-7. Our coach raced for his printout of new rules that showed Sudden Death Overtime was added for this season. After a quick consultation by the officials, the boys were back on the field. One of our boys won the face off and drove in hard for the score. Young Man's team won 8-7 and earned their celebration.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Just a Little Eye Candy

I don't usually participate in Eye Candy Friday, but I thought I would today. This is the yarn that I won from Deb in her November calendar contest. The really fun thing was that just the day before it arrived, I was bemoaning the fact that I didn't have any fall-toned yarn for socks. Now I just need to pick a pattern! Thanks again, Deb!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

To make up for yesterday, I get two posts today!

Let's Review: How much do reviews (good and bad) affect your choice of reading? If you see a bad review of a book you wanted to read, do you still read it? If you see a good review of a book you're sure you won't like, do you change your mind and give the book a try?

I find that I am not much swayed by reviews of books or movies by people who I do not know. If I am interested in the book, I will remain skeptical of the review until I have read the book and formed my own opinion. I may give a book that I am not certain of a try based on a very good review, but I will still ignore gushing reviews if I am positive that I will not like the book.

However, I am much more likely to be swayed towards or away from books by reviews from people who I know well. I have several friends who I trust to either recommend great finds or save me hours of frustration.
Not My Fault

I meant to blog yesterday. Really, I was planning my entry on the drive home. First, Young Man needed my computer to finish an assignment. Then I needed to print out roster cards for the lacrosse parents. You see, once young men get on their pads, jerseys, and full helmets, they all start to look alike. To assist the parents, I make very nice, laminated cards with the team logo on one side and the list of numbers to names on the other side.

As I was finishing the assembly of the roster cards, the wind outside our house started to really howl. Next thing we knew, the power was fluctuating so wildly that the computers went down and up and down and up. At that point, we shut down all of our electronics. Blogging goals or no blogging goals, a new computer is not in the plan for this month!

This morning, we were in for bigger surprises. As Young Man and I loaded the car for the trek to school we were greeted with bumper-to-bumper traffic on our quiet residential street. The howling winds knocked down several power lines and snapped power line poles on a major street near us. All of the traffic for one direction was detoured through our neighborhood! This was certainly annoying, but far less annoying than the new surprise that we had in the evening. Now the street is closed farther from our neighborhood so even we can't get in easily! It took several tries to find a route that would actually get me home tonight. It seems that we will continue to have extra fun (and need to allow extra time) through the weekend.

All in all, I would rather have been blogging!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

I Got Nothing

Who knew that posting every day could be so hard? How is it that I who usually doesn't shut up can run out of things to post after only 14 days? This would be why I haven't committed to the 365 posts thingy. We'll just take this one day at a time and see how far it goes.

Well, Sandy loves haiku and pointed me to randomhaiku. Most are, um, odd, but I liked this one:

sweeping my target
I imagined my fingers
before my water

Marguerite has a gorgeous picture of a female cardinal.

Young Man is busy writing the first draft of his composition on his favorite things: playing lacrosse and playing Lego Star Wars.
I'll end with a bee (taken at The Getty Museum in May 2007.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Dishcloths for Everyone!

Okay, dishcloths for one person. Here are the other two of the set that I am sending off today. Easy and fun. Just the way I like my knitting in January!

Project: Alien Cloth

Yarn: Sugar 'n Cream in green

Needles: US 7

Notes: This is the second time I have made this one and it makes me smile every time.

Project: A Christmas Dishcloth Story

Yarn: Sugar 'n Cream in green

Needles: US 3

Notes: More fiddly than most dishcloths, but well worth the added attention.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

Today's book is His Majesty's Dragon, by Naomi Novik. This is the first book in the Temeraire series and I am about 2/3 finished with it. This is a fun twist on historical fiction: What if the battles with Napolean included air combat with dragons? Ms. Novik pairs two of my favorite genres, Historical Fiction and Fantasy, quite successfully. I first learned about this series from my favorite youth literature blog, A Fuse #8 Production. Watching the relationship develop between Will Laurence, the initially unwilling aviator, and his dragon, Temeraire, is fascinating. I already have book 2, Throne of Jade, lined up and ready to read.

Seriously, go, get this book. Now!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Winning Saturday Sky
The sky today didn't really look that promising. No rain in the forecast, but the blue was pretty hazy. This is because it was warm (>70°F warm) so the air quality was not as good as we would like. Still, it was an excellent day for lacrosse. Because of the heavy rains last weekend, this was the season opener. The boys have been practicing hard, but they were a little nervous about going up against what has historically been a very tough team. The opposing coach tried some intimidation at the beginning and he certainly out-shouted our coach. Coach W may be quieter than the other coach, but our boys were listening. It was great fun to see the boys passing and running the plays that they had been taught.

Young Man received a long pole for the holidays and he has made good use of it in practice. He ended up playing defense for nearly the entire game. Long poles make checking much easier. Poke checks can be done from a safer distance.

Sometimes he still had to get in close for the block.

In the end, he definitely deserved to wear that smile. His team won the season opener, 4-1! Go, Tigers!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Palindrome & Paws

It's Friday! Woohoo! Okay, that is the extent of the energy that I can muster to celebrate this week. It did improve after Monday, but I am very tired now and ready for the rest of my glass of merlot. Tomorrow is the start of lacrosse season and the weather is going to be lovely! Today we do get to celebrate a finished scarf:
Yarn: Paton's SWS in Violet Natural, 4 balls with the greenish parts cut out
Needles: US 9 circular
Notes: I love the end result, but getting there was a trial! When I bought the yarn, I thought it was absolutely lovely. What I neglected to do was to look inside the skein. As I knit, I uncovered the odd green sections that didn't seem to go with the violet at all. In the other Natural colorways, the greens seem to work, but I don't think they work at all in this one. I did the only thing I could do, I cut out the offending color sections. This meant that the 3 balls I purchased were not enough. It took some hunting to find a fourth ball that didn't clash too horribly. I think I managed.

Look! It's another finished item. Okay, so it is just a dishcloth, but it is finished!

Project: Paw Cloth
Needles: US 6 (by using the smaller needles, I made this with one ball of yarn)
Yarn: Peaches & Cream
Notes: Quick and silly. The ombre obscures the pattern a bit, but it is still pretty cute.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

What is today's question? May I Introduce...
  1. How did you come across your favorite author(s)? Recommended by a friend? Stumbled across at a bookstore? A book given to you as a gift?
  2. Was it love at first sight? Or did the love affair evolve over a long acquantance?
Hmmm. Well, first I have to decide which authors are my favorites. It seems that I am at a bit of a loss here. Once upon a time, my favorite authors were Louis L'Amour and Robert Heinlein. I discovered Louis out of necessity. Most of the books that were available to me as a teen were Westerns and I devoured every one. Louis gave me hour upon hour of pleasant diversion and escape. I discovered Heinlein in high school. As his books became wilder, longer, and with ever less satisfying ends, I continued to read more for morbid curiousity than for love. In one terrible year, I lost both of my favorite authors and was left to fend for myself.

I now flit from author to author and can no longer name one or a few who are favorites. I very much enjoy Jane Austen and count her as a favorite. Even though she did not write many volumes, I still have not read them all. That hardly casts a strong ballot for her. One of my favorite books is The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer, by Neal Stephenson, but I cannot seem to finish many of his other titles even though several are on my bookshelf. Again, no ballot cast here. Probably the strongest case can be made for Cornelia Funke. I found her by previewing books for Young Man and was quickly pulled into Inkheart. Yes, she may be my current favorite.

So, I am definitely not a love at first sight woman. Let the courtship continue!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008


I think Sandy and Norma (and others) have a good idea going here. Well, Norma is having a really bad Wednesday, but that didn't stop her from blogging.

My contribution to the Blogosphere today is my own collection of random thoughts:

  • I wonder when I will manage to take down the tree? It's artificial so there are none of those dropping needle issues. The good news is that if I take down the tree, I gain room to put back my favorite knitting chair. The bad news is that I would also take down the train.

  • Who ever thought up Camp Lazlo? More importantly, what were they taking when they did it?

  • On a similar topic, How can kids watch the same episode of a really annoying show over and over and over? I know I did some of that as a kid, but cut me some slack, we only got one TV channel. It was either on or off

  • Young Man is adjusting to a new jersey number for lacrosse. He was #26 for two years and now he is #3. The jerseys are cool. I'm really looking forward to Saturday's game.

Finally, a shot of the Anza Borrego Desert at sunrise from August:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

It's a Good Day for Frogs

Okay, so my next pair of socks was going to be the lovely basketweave pattern from Marguerite. Since I am obviously unable to count to 64 without proceeding directly to 66, I am not making the basketweave socks (yet). Once I realized that I had a multiple of 6 instead of 8, I opened up Sensational Knitted Socks to see what was there. I've done one repeat of a second choice pattern, but I'm not sure that it is grabbing my fancy. The result seems to look too much like my Uptown Boot Socks. I love those, but don't really want two pair. Off to the frog pond I fear.

My day at work felt much the same as my knitting last night. Why can't we just frog some days? Today was the day for apologies. First I apologized to the person to whom I was quite rude in her meeting yesterday. I still think I was right, but I handled it very poorly (which negates anything gained by being "correct"). By the end of the day I think we were okay, but it will be a long time before we have a smooth working relationship. More apologies ensued as I discovered items I forgot to send and that my out of office memo over the holidays referred people to someone who no longer backs me up. It didn't help at all to learn that the proposal on which I worked over the holidays (when most everyone else at my office was home and the plant shut down) has not just been delayed for a bit, it is going to be on the shelf until the customer can determine just exactly what is wanted.

All in all, I would most definitely like a do-over for today. Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Monday, January 07, 2008

First Knits

My first knitted item that was both started and finished in 2008 is ready!

Pattern: Chevron Socks from Sensational Knitted Socks, by Charlene Schurch

Yarn: Regia Design Line (Kaffe Fassett line)

Needles: US 1

Notes: Quick and easy pattern. My only change was to use the short row heel from Charmed Knits instead of the Forethought heel from Sensational Knitted Socks. I'm still undecided on the yarn. I like Regia, but the colorway will take some getting used to. The two socks were very nearly identical. The small amount of brown at the toe of one isn't really noticeable when they are on my feet. Not that I'm obsessed or anything.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

Hey, if I want to inaugurate a meme, I can, right? So, here it is, a cold, rainy Sunday, and I have just finished my second book this week. No chance that I will ever challenge Deb for most reading in a month, but I keep up in my own way.

This week, I finished both Emma, by Jane Austen, and 1st to Die by James Patterson. Both are selections from my book club and they are both completely different. The only remote connection between the two is that the heroines in both books were deluded as to who done it, so to speak.

Emma is a delightfully innocent tale of a young matchmaker who is convinced of her own invulnerability to love. She is, of course, mistaken on just about every one of her convictions. Throughout the entire story, she is molded and guided without even being aware of an outside influence. Like all the Jane Austen stories I have read, I giggled several times and even laughed out loud and some of Emma's predicaments. If you have not met Emma, please do yourself a favor and pick this one up for a light, engaging read.

1st to Die is a book that has languished on my nightstand for several years. I am quite embarrassed to admit that I borrowed this from a friend at work and have held on to it for so long that she probably doesn't even remember to whom she loaned it. Once I finally opened the covers, I very nearly could not put it down! Silly me, I could have been enjoying many escapades with the Women's Murder Club. This book has many intriguing twists and turns. I will admit that I figured out the killer before the very end, but not very much before. Having a man write from a woman's perspective was only mildly annoying. Mr. Patterson does a reasonably good job at it. I tended to skip quickly past the gut-wrenching emotional stuff and stick with the murder mystery part. That, he does very well.

Wow, two good books in a row! Now to get through the stacks of management books on my shelf. Hmm, maybe another novel first...

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Storm Damage?

Northern California has had some wild storms, but down here things are pretty quiet. We had some wind and some rain, but the biggest result was that all lacrosse games were cancelled. We now have to wait another week for Young Man's season opener and the introduction of his long pole (six feet!) to club play. Still, Young Man looks stylish in his dejection.

Project 1: Wonderful Wallaby (youth 10)
Yarn: Plymouth Encore
Needles: US 6 and 8
Notes: Great pattern! My only quibble is with the hood. I knit the stockinette hood with garter stitch border. When I do this again, I will try the garter stitch hood. The border curls over and Young Man isn't very happy with that. He also thinks the hood makes him look like an elf. Mind you, he requested the hood and I think it looks much better than the hood on his old sweater.

Project 2: Knucks (size small)
Yarn: Plymouth Encore
Needles: US 4 dpns
Notes: these are my first ever gloves (or near-gloves, if you must) and they were so easy! Young Man requested these because his hands got cold when he was practicing in our backyard in the mornings. I was able to whip these up in one afternoon/evening of knitting and we are both very happy with the result.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Storm Watch!!!!
Yes, it is another of those days. Southern California braces for ... weather! Oh! The Horror! I have heard that this is a big storm, but it is taking its dear, sweet time to arrive. The good news is that Young Man was able to have a dry practice. The bad news is that we are likely to have a very wet game tomorrow. Hopefully, it will all be worth it. Here is a craptastic photo of our snowy mountains after the last storm (hey, I was supposed to be driving, so stylish photography was out of the question). Me, I just want to curl up with some of my new teas, my wicked smart new tea steeping device, and some yarn.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Booking Through Thursday

It's about time I came back to this! Let's see, what is today's question?

Anticipation: What new books are you looking forward to most in 2008? Something new being published this year? Something you got as a gift for the holidays? Anythin in particular that you're planning to read in 2008 that you're looking forward to? A classic, or maybe a best-seller from 2007 that you're waiting to appear in paperback?

Oh, dear, this is going to be another difficult one. I have a stack of new books to read and I want to read every single one RIGHT NOW! Really, it's as bad as knitting. I did give myself an early present to assist with both of my obsessions. I now have a nice book weight. I learned about these from my mother-in-law. With this I can knit (simple stockinette is best, obviously) and read at the same time.

Okay, back to the list. Well, I already have several books lined up for my book club. I just finished the January selection, Emma, by Jane Austen. Next up is the February selection, 1st to Die by James Patterson. Since I am the discussion leader, I had better read that one! We also have selected Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, and The Gathering, by Anne Enright. I do hope that The Gathering is good. So often I am disappointed by award winners, but this one looks very good.

I also received a few books for the holidays. Feast, by Nigella Lawson is on my stack as are The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman, and The Knitter's Book of Yarn, by Clara Parkes. It will certainly be a wonderful reading year!

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

5 Points for Sheer Dumb Luck*

Mr. Engineer always said that one of the reasons he married me was that I'm lucky (one of the other reasons is my mother's wild blueberry pie, but he hasn't had more of that since well before the wedding, 20+ years ago). I don't always agree with him, but I do seem to have my share of luck.

For example, I have spent the past two weeks cursing my luck and trying to remember at which Michael's I purchased three skeins of Natural Violet SWS because none of the stores that I normally frequent seem to even have a space for it on the rack. Today I had some time to spare while Young Man was at practice and I wandered into the one Michael's in the area that I had not searched and, yes, there it was. Of course, the same dye lot is no where to be found, but I will make do with what I did find. The Palindrome Scarf will now become a reasonable length and I can stop obsessing over it!

In December I really outdid my luck and perhaps used up the better part of 2008's luck in one day. I spent a relaxing day visiting my local quilt shop and running holiday errands. At the local quilt shop, I found a cute kit for making felt ornaments. Then I went to several different stores before getting home. When I unloaded the car, the bag from the quilt shop was no where to be found! I dumped out every single bag and searched through the car with a flashlight. Still nothing.

While sitting on the couch knitting furiously, my mind raged - where could it be? I remembered hearing something drop when I was at Target, so I called the customer service desk. I suspect mine was their most amusing call of the evening, but they could not help me. I went over my entire day's errands in my mind until I thought of the rain. When I came out from the quilt shop, I had dropped the bag on top of my rain coat. The rain didn't start until I was on my way to Target. What if I had dropped the package in the parking lot when I pulled out my rain coat? So, at 8:30 at night, in the dark and rain, I set out for the local Target. I pulled into the parking lot and headed for the area where I had been. As I neared the spot, I spied a small, white bag that wasn't blowing in the wind. Could it be? I stopped and raced for the package, and cheered with joy! Yes, my kit was there and it was unharmed! Score one for tenacity, obsession, and parking in the lesser-used areas of a busy parking area!

* said in one's best McGonagall Brogue, of course

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Don't Believe Everything

Just because ABC is broadcasting lovely, sunny pictures from Southern California for the Rose Bowl, does not mean that it really is that pretty here. In fact, it is quite cloudy. This is a very good thing as our humidity has increased from 19% to 67% over the day. It is supposed to rain on Thursday, just in time for me to drive to work. Hmmm.

December was a very silly month. Between getting ready for holidays, shipping stuff for holidays, celebrating holidays, and, of course, recovering from holidays, there was no time at all left over for blogging. There was crafting. Lots of crafting. Young Man still won't stand still long enough for a photo shoot with his new Wallaby (and fingerless gloves), but there are many other hand-crafted items that flew east for gifting.

Thanks to Alison and her hints, I found some super-quick kits for lovey-type quilts that went together nicely for two of the new babies in the family. Satin is still one of my least favorite fabrics, but the end results were worth the annoyance.

Pattern: Just a lengthwise garter stitch with color change every other row and a quick not-quite-lace border at each end.
Yarn: Trendsetter Dune in two colors
Needles: US 10 1/2, I think
Notes: This yarn is a little difficult to work with because of the double strands, the mohair in one strand, and the metal in the other. The bottom line is that you have to be sure that you want to knit a stitch because it isn't likely to come out later! The result was just what I envisioned, so I am very glad that I stuck with it. This very long scarf went off to my mother-in-law. She is tall, so extra length was necessary.

Pattern: Seaman's Cap

Yarn: Plymouth Encore

Needles: US 6 and 7, I think

Notes: I wanted to send a nice, warm hat off to my father-in-law to keep his ears warm. I added a bit of length to the brim and the body of the hat to make sure that it was long enough.

Pattern: House Hat and Mittens from Charmed Knits, by Alison Hansel
Yarn: Plymouth Encore
Needles: Whatever the book said
Notes: I still love making this hat. It is so easy and works so well! These are my first ever mittens and they turned out wonderfully well. This set went off to Young Man's cousin.