Thursday, December 31, 2009

Out With the Old...

The general concensus among my online buds (a.k.a. my invisible internet friends) is that 2009 simply must go and not soon enough. Here's hoping that 2010 is better for us all! To finish of the year I give you one more knitted item. I'll be spending New Years Eve working on sweater #9 and hanging out with the family. Mr. Engineer has a cold and I am fighting off one (probably the same virus) as best I can. Young Man seems fine, but has a bit of the tween cranky. We have the last of the dessert tamales from our wonderful neighbors so who needs a big party?

Project: Sweater Ornament from Patons
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool

Needles: US 5 (I think - whatever the pattern asked for)

Notes: The original pattern is a bit fiddly, so I think I will revise it to make it mostly seamless. It seemed appropriate to make a sweater ornament for the year of the sweater. This particular one went to my sister, but I am making another for our tree.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Holiday Knitting, Part 2

This one was one of those knits that went fairly quickly (if men's socks can ever be described as "quick"), but the timing was a bit off. On Christmas day, on sock was wrapped with an IOU for the second sock. The second sock was more than half finished, but it was not close enough to keep our neighbor's toes warm. I finished up the second sock on Saturday and delivered it that evening. In return I got more cookies! This is not a time for getting on the scale, but my taste buds are very happy.

Yarn: Berocco Ultra Alpaca in Fine (just over one skein)
Needles: US 1 dpns

Notes: This is a very easy pattern with just enough variety to keep me going. It was a very relaxing pattern and every time I sat down to knit I ended up yawning! The main modification was to only decrease down to 68 stitches. With the chosen yarn and needles, anything less would have been too tight. I also made the cuffs a bit longer than Nancy described and I used a standard heel flap. This yarn seems like it will make very soft, comfy socks. It is a bit splitty so I had to pay attention. That is to say that it wasn't a good project for knitting during movie previews. The dim light wasn't conducive to catching split stitches and resulted in a fair amount of tinking and frogging.

Yes, I knit at the movie theater. I mostly do this when I am on a deadline, but it gives me something to do when we arrive early enough for the entertainment "news" pieces that come on before the previews. I go a lot of knitting finished before Avatar because we arrived very early and there were a LOT of previews.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Holiday Knitting, Part 1

Wow! When I drop off blogging, I do it right. December has been a whirl of activity. I won't say fun, but lots of activity. There was that design review at work and then I did a day of baking. Interspersed was a flurry of gift knitting. Mostly, I went with projects that were already knit. My sister got the Rivendell Socks that I loved enough to give them to her and my next-door neighbor got the Leyburn Socks with sparkles that made her smile. I decided to test out my Brother-In-Law with a knitted item. He almost always wears a hat, but he has a few particular styles that he favors. However, he lives in Minnesota, so I figure that occasionally, he could use a hat that covers his ears.

Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease (shut up! sometimes it is just the right thing)
Needles: US 7

Notes: This was a very quick knit and I always love cables. I do worry about the fit. The pattern had me use the same size needles for the initial ribbing and the main hat. I sort of wish that I had started smaller for the first few rows (or went larger after the first few rows). I like my cables nice and crisp, so my tension for the main hat was probably a bit too tight. This left the hat seeming tight around the head and loose around the ears. I like the look, but I am concerned about the wearability.

Since my sister reads this, she can report from BIL whether this project was a success or not. If BIL likes the concept, but not the application, let me know and I'll knit from another pattern or fiddle with this one.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Uh, Oh!

What are three of the favorite words in our house?

Some Assembly Required.

This is the new folding lacrosse goal that is supposed to take whatever power throws Young Man can dish out. Hopefully the assembly will keep him busy when his scrimmage is rained out on Saturday.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Can't Blog; Too Much To Do

Today's big news is that Mr. Engineer took possession of his very own 2010 Subaru Legacy today. This baby has more headroom than even my tall guy knows what to do with! We are having fun and enjoying our present to ourselves, but there are no pictures yet. Soon. I promise.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


October 8, 1940 – December 8, 1980.

Remembering what might have been. RIP, John Lennon.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Taking a Prompt from Marguerite

These writing prompts are available from Simple Woman's Daybook. I got the inspiration from Marguerite.

Outside my window ... it is raining (finally). It rained enough today to cause lacrosse practice to be canceled. All the moms rejoiced because it meant less mud being tracked home.

I am thinking ... of what creative challenge I want to undertake in 2010. The 12 sweater challenge has been fun. I won't finish 12 this year, but I have no regrets. I added to my wardrobe and improved my technique. I figure that the two months in which I did nearly no knitting because of a tendinitis flare-up mean that I have until the end of February to finish my dozen. Next year could be socks because I have been adding to my sock yarn stash while working down my sweater yarn stash. Alternatively, I could work on gift knitting because I have many ideas of things that would be perfect for the people I know.

I am thankful for ... how quickly Young Man recovered from his hit on the field.

From the Kitchen ... we had leftover chili and cornbread that seemed perfect for a cold, rainy night. I used a new chili powder blend and it had way too much cayenne pepper. It might have been fine if I hadn't added my usual dollop of straight cayenne on top of the blend. Mr. Engineer and I liked it, but it was almost too much for Young Man. He ate extra cornbread and was happy.

I am wearing ... jeans and a sweatshirt from the Booster Club for Young Man's lacrosse team and a pair of black socks that I swiped from Young Man. What Not To Wear can't touch this.

I am creating ... socks for my dear next door neighbor and sweater number nine for me.

I am going ... to get all of my annual examinations (doctor, dentist, optometrist) finished before the end of the year (I made appointments today).

I am reading ... Fooled by Randomness by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. This is one in my latest series of books that take conventional wisdom and turn it upside-down for an examination from a different point of view.

I am hoping ... that our resolve to have a simpler holiday this year still results in enough fun for everyone.

I am hearing ... Young Man talk to himself while he procrastinates his way through his homework.

Around the house ... Young Man and I put up the tree yesterday and decorated. Not all of the decorations are up, but the house seems much more festive with a lit tree and hanging the ornaments was a wonderful trip through the years.

One of my favorite things ... Most days I would say yarn, but today it is the beautiful ornaments that my wonderful sister has made for us over the years. It is getting harder and harder to choose which one to feature each year. Our tree must be a decorator's nightmare, but we love it!

Here is picture thought I am sharing ...

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Look, Up In the Air!

Yeah, I got nothing, so I'll share a shot of the Blue Angels from this year's Miramar Air Show.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

It's Lacrosse Season Again!

It's funny how ready I was for a break from lacrosse in June, but how excited I was to drag the gear to the first scrimmage of the season in December. It was a lovely day for lacrosse. The high temp was in the low 60s (F) and the sun kept hiding behind the clouds. That made things a little chilly for the parents, but it was great for the boys. Young Man Add Imagewas back in fine form. His team has enough boys to field two teams and he made the top team and he was a starter. Not only that, but he had a new position - middle defender. This made him the one to go out to challenge oncoming players in fast breaks. This was an unexpected treat for the parents! It was very fun to watch Young Man showing his stuff again.

He blocked, he poked, he dodged. It was beautiful. We had one scary moment where he became the filling in a sandwich and went down to the ground. He was quickly up and walking, but the coach did take him out for the rest of the half to recover. He is fine now and very happy about the entire day. Since it was a scrimmage, the score doesn't count, but, well, Young Man's team won 12-2. Yes, it was a good day!

Friday, December 04, 2009

It's A Good Thing ...

... that lacrosse scrimmages start tomorrow because I was really running low on material.

... that I am not too hard on myself when I do stupid stuff. Today's example is Vogue Knitting. I don't think I have ever actually knit anything from the magazine, but I still like reading it and getting inspiration from the crazy stuff. Still, I think I need to get a subscription. I picked up a copy of the Holiday 2009 issue today and was nearly finished reading it when it dawned on me that some of the pictures looked familiar. I quick trip into the stack of magazines waiting to be dealt with let me know that I managed to buy this issue twice. A mind is a terrible thing to lose.

... that it is time for Samuel Adams Winter Lager. Mmmmmm. Some beer purists don't like winter mixes that include a hint of pumpkin or spice, but I really enjoy this beer. It goes quite nicely with chili and that is what I made for dinner tonight (chili and cornbread, no less).

... that it is Friday because this week seemed to drag on forever! We accomplished a lot at work (we are getting ready for a big design review and we had several other big pre-review meetings), but I'm beat.

... that I don't have any deadlines on my other new web endeavor. I took over web page updates for the Booster Club for Young Man's lacrosse team. It hadn't been touched in several years, so there were a lot of broken links to mend and really, really old data to purge. I need to grab the coaches this weekend and get some new pictures to post.

... that there are really talented designers out there so that I can just make things without worrying about the design part. Yes, that was the segue for a little knitting content.

Yarn: Trekking

Notes: This is a test knit that I worked on during my summer vacation. Sitting on a wooden swing knitting was the perfect way to keep an eye on the boys swimming while staying fairly warm. Sadly, this sock has since been frogged (or ripped, since the pattern was Ripple). I like the pattern and I like the yarn, but the two together wasn't working for me. The other problem was that shortly before I got to this point on the sock I decided that I had found an error in the pattern. I had finally figured out that the error was quite a bit earlier and just as I was going to email the suggestion, Turtlegirl came up with an update. Once I had ripped back to where I could fix it, I decided to keep ripping. I will knit up the yarn and I will knit the pattern, but I won't put the two together again.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

Project: Wavy Feathers Wimple by Caryll McConnell
Yarn: Louet Mooi Laceweight
Needles: US 4
Notes: Okay, maybe not completely different. It is knitting and it is lace. Neither of those is new to me. However, this is a wimple. What is that? It is also know as a cowl. This nifty piece of knitting slips over the head and does double duty as either a scarf or hood. I know, it would look better on, but it is soo difficult to take pictures of oneself and it gets dark so terribly early that I have to remember to do the photo shoot on the weekend. The other new to me item is the yarn. This is a fabulous blend of bison and cashmere. Yes, bison! It was too good to pass up so I had to get a couple of skeins as a birthday splurge.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sweater No. 8

Project: Spray, by Kim Hargreaves
Yarn: Rowan Plaid
Needles: US 10 1/2 and US 11

Notes: All these DK yarns made me forget how quickly a bulky yarn can knit up into a sweater! This sweater went together very fast and it is warm and comfy. Okay, it is too warm right now, but I am looking forward to wearing it soon. I bought the yarn at a bag sale and then stashed it until this fall. Now I have lots of leftover yarn (but not enough for another full sweater). I may try to modify the men's vest pattern from the Rowan Plaid book to finsh off the yarn and make another sweater this year!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


Project: Pagan by Kim Hargreaves
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Cotton Stria
Needles: US 6 and US 7

Notes: Look quickly because I think this one is about to be frogged. It's not because I don't like the top (because I do) or the yarn (it's really soft) or the design (the shape is quite flattering). No, the problem is that I knit the wrong size. This is both too small and too short. If I were out of yarn, I would probably just live with it, but I have an entire extra skein and I would like a less tight top. So, this is Number 7 for the year, but it may also be Number 10.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday = Made It!

30 days and 30 posts to go with them. This time around, it wasn't even that difficult. I nearly forgot once, but I managed. I even managed to post while on travel and I posted many long-overdue pictures of finished objects.

To go with the theme of "made it," here is another finished object.

Project: Rivendell Sock by Janel Laidman (published in The Eclectic Sole: Socks for Adventurous Knitters)
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss Sock Yarn
Needles: US 1 (again)

Notes: These were the socks that convinced me that I had to have this book. They were a bit more challenging than my usual socks and a lot of fun to complete. To make it even more fun, Young Man and I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy this year.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

Outliers Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I hate raving over books, but this one is really good. Seriously, you need to go out and read this book. It doesn't answer every question in the universe or explain every success, but it does make some excellent connections and help to understand some parts of the world in which we live and in which it isn't always clear why some well-qualified people don't quite make it when other equally-qualified people do extremely well. It helps a lot that I can personally identify with the premise as I am, most assuredly, an Outlier. You see, I am the first in my immediate family to attend college and break away from the patterns of the past, so to speak. I do have some cousins on one side who attended college and some further out relatives on the other, but I am definitely the only one in my immediate circle to have made the change.

While it would be easy to say that I was the smartest or the one who worked the hardest, that wouldn't have been true. My sister doesn't believe me, but she is every bit as smart as me. It pains me to admit that my brother is also just as smart, but it is true. When it came to figuring out careers, my brother always knew that he wanted to be a farmer just like our parents, so he never considered college or a career off the farm. My sister and I, however, both knew that our futures would not include farming. To answer my aunts' incredulous response to this, my sister gave out the best advice I heard: don't date a farmer and you won't fall in love with one. Words to live by. No offense meant to farmers, mind you. I have great respect for the profession and many fond memories of growing up on the farm. I also have many less fond memories of the long hours, back-breaking labor, and constant shortages of funds. It just wasn't the life for me or my sister.

Both of us attended the same schools and we both graduated in the top 10 of our respective classes with similar GPAs and we both had the same kindly, but clueless guidance counselor. So, why did my sister head to a dissatisfying stint with vocational school while I went to college? It wasn't grades or guidance and it wasn't smarts. The big difference was timing. My sister graduated in 1970 and there were no Pell Grants or Guaranteed Student Loan programs. There was the expectation that a girl would get married and have children and maybe have some small job for pin money (ewwwww, how I hate that phrase). No one ever told my sister that she was good enough to get into a college and there wouldn't have been any money for it even if she had.

I graduated in 1981. Our sweet guidance counselor still wasn't much help, but I was already convinced that I would go to college thanks to a course I took in seventh grade. I took a short course on careers and played with several quizzes designed to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. I didn't decide, but I did quickly see the pattern that every single career in which I had interest required at least a four year degree. The next happy change came my junior year when most of the class took the Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. I didn't get a scholarship out of it, but I did do well enough that suddently I had colleges looking for me. Letters and flyers and big, glossy brochures started filling our lonely mailbox and I learned about that most glorious of things, Financial Aid. I still got far less help that my male classmates when it came to looking for scholarships (the assumption was that farm kids would get big grants - unfortunately, that wasn't correct in our case). Still, I was able to qualify for some grants and lots of loans, and I found a public university that wasn't ridiculously expensive.

No, it wasn't easy. Yes, I made missteps along the way and still had to work hard. However, the timing of my birth and subsequent graduation had a lot to do with me being in the right place so that hard work could pay off in a way that it didn't for my sister.

There is more, much more, but now it is time for you to go out and read this book and discover your own Outliers.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Sky - Not So Wet Edition

We were promised rain. The weather people kept hyping storm watch and all that other nonsense that they proclaim whenever there is a hint of a front coming through. I guess they get bored. I certainly would if all I really had to say each day was, "Haven't you figured it out by now? Today will be pretty much like yesterday. Let's go to Sports, shall we?" It's hard to pull in the big bucks when that is all the weather forecasting you really have to do. So our weather people make a big deal out of every barometric change. This one was a bust. Young Man claims that he got hit by a couple of sprinkles as he dashed back from the neighbors', but that was it. I didn't even see any drops on the patio. All we had were a few clouds that raced through in the afternoon. Pretty disappointing actually.

In much more interesting news, we had our second Thanksgiving dinner today. Even though we went out on Thursday, we still picked up all the dinner ingredients. Mr. Engineer roasted the turkey and made gravy and turkey broth on Friday and I made stuffing and a delicious sweet potato recipe today. I also made pumpkin pies for desert. We think we will make mashed potatoes tomorrow and invite the neighbors over so that they can have another feast.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Not So Black Day

We studiously avoided the "Black Friday" madness that seems to have taken hold here. I have no idea if people were actually buying anything today, but the stores were hyping the savings and the doorbusters and that got people waiting in line to get into store openings at 4 a.m. Obviously, the stores were not targeting me because there was nothing in those ads that would have convinced me to crawl out of a warm bed to wait in line with nutcases to go shopping. Mr. Engineer and I decided that we might be tempted if they were offering free bars of gold (Young Man's suggestion), but even that would be a big maybe.

Instead, we had a nice, light breakfast (we were still a bit full from Thursday) and decided to go out for coffee. We did have a momentary lapse of sanity when we thought about going to a local camera store to look at a new lens over which I have been lusting. Then we saw the line stretching out the door (at 10:30 a.m.) and we came to our senses. Instead of elbowing our way into the store, we drove around the area checking out some newly constructed streets and found a coffee shop near a donut shop (Young Man isn't into coffee). Then we headed up to a BevMo! to pick up some assorted soda pops and a 12-pack of Sam Adams Winter Lager. After that we had a nice, quiet lunch and went to see Planet 51. It wasn't the best movie we've seen lately, but it wasn't bad at all. We giggled through it and then headed home.

All in all, it was a nice, quiet, family day. So, I hope all the shoppers had fun. We wouldn't have if we had been shopping, but we really enjoyed our time together.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thankful Thanksgiving

Today is the big day and I am thankful for many things. At the top of my list is, as always, my family. Mr. Engineer is nodding off in a chair while we watch The Princess Bride. Young Man is playing away on Runescape. We are all happy and content.

I am also very thankful for wonderful neighbors who are also friends. Our next door neighbors are part of the family we have chosen as our extended family. We enjoy holidays together and share our fellowship.

For the first time, I am thankful for restaurants who serve Thanksgiving dinner. Our usual host is recovering from surgery and neither we nor our neighbors felt up to cooking the feast. Instead we went to Marie Callender's and enjoyed a delicious meal and left the dishes to others.

Tonight or tomorrow we will roast the turkey that is thawing in the refrigerator (hey, they are on sale, we couldn't pass up the leftovers) and cook up some of our favorite T-day dishes (stuffing, green beans, gravy, pumpkin pie).

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Now, With More Socks!

Okay, so the socks yesterday were kind of eh. These are a bit better. They are a gift for a friend who doesn't read this blog. They are sparkly and fun and I hope they lift her spirits. The picture really doesn't do them justice.

Yarn: Berocco Comfort Metallic
Needles: US 1 dpns (what else is there?)

Notes: These are knit toe up and that is not really in my usual comfort zone. Still, these turned out pretty good. It was a bit challenging to find a pattern that worked with this yarn, but this pattern definitely breaks up any pooling and the metallic sparkes are just plain fun. The photo looks like the legs are much bigger than the feet. Actually, these fit quite well. The slipped stiches and patterning actually pull in the fabric so there are more stiches around than would normally be used. All in all, this was a quick gift knit and I'm using the pattern again on another yarn that has seemed determined to pool.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Toes on Tuesday

Finally! More photos and more finished objects.

Project: Basic Socks with short-row heels and twisted rib cuffs
Yarn: Schoeller+Stahl Fortissima Socka Mit Bambou (with Bamboo)
Needles: US 1 dpns

Notes: Would you believe that it took me over a year to knit these socks? There were a few mitigating circumstances. Originally, they were going to be Monkeys, but the colors just didn't work, so I ripped back to the twisted rib cuff. Then I tried some other pattern, but that didn't work either. Finally, I just went with a basic stockinette. That worked as long as I kept my tension not too tight. Unfortunately, I lost the project part way through the first sock. I searched, then got distracted, then searched again. Finally, they reappeared and I was able to finish! The yarn is nice, but a bit busy. Still, they are good, basic socks.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday Madness

Another thing for which I am thankful is that Young Man, who is already (!) 12 years old, still enjoys spending time with his parents. More specifically, he still enjoys spending the day with me. Okay, so there is the minor caveat that I cannot embarass him too much. So far, I haven't quite ascertained where that boundry lies. I am working on it and I'll let you know when I surpass it.

Today we took advantage of the fact that Young Man is still 12 and that we had a free ticket for Legoland lying around. Legoland is one of the few amusement parks that determines price by age and not height. Child tickets are for young people between 3 and 12. Thank goodness! That plus a AAA 10% discount (and that free ticket) made the day not ridiculously expensive. We did have a good time wandering around and riding rides. It was a bittersweet day because it might be nearly our last trip. Young Man really is outgrowing the park and Legos. I haven't outgrown Legos yet, but I am tiring of the rides. Still, it was a very nice day spent together and two nice drives (Legoland is an hour from our house).

Oh, and you may be wondering where the pictures are from this excursion? Well, um, I set the camera on the table to remember it and it was still safe and sound on the table when we returned. Of course, I did edit the earlier paragraph to add in the possibility of a return - another free ticket arrived in the mail today!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything (Revised and Expanded Edition) Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything by Steven D. Levitt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I tried not to like this book. This is not because I didn't agree with the authors' premise. On the contrary, I am a skeptic and do not buy what passes for conventional wisdom. Instead, I was too cool to show that I was impressed by the revelations. This was easy at the beginning. Part of that is because I had heard some of the first stories years ago. I was well aware that the crime rate is generally untouched by new policing policies and is far more accurately predicted by looking at the numbers of youth in the age range that typically commit crimes. Still, after several more case studies, I was impressed. Yes, the book is a bit sensationalized and some of the connections are a bit more of a stretch than others. The thing to remember when reading any book like this is that correlation (even really tight correlations) do not prove causality.

All in all, this is a very good book and should be read (with an open mind) by any and all. If you are sure you know all the answers about how the world works, you absolutely must read this one. Knowledge really is power.

View all my reviews >>

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Saturday Sky

Today with clouds! The local weather-people are having a great time whipping us into a frenzy about the potential storm watch. Right. If we are lucky we will get a few raindrops. Personnally, I'm betting that we see bupkis. Still, it is nice to have an interesting sky to view for a change.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sweater #6

This is the year of nakniswemodo09 (Ravelry link). What is that, you ask? It is the National Knit a Sweater a Month Dodecathon. Yes, 12 sweaters in 12 months. Insane? Probably. Fun? Definitely. So far, I have completed 8 of the 12 and am ~30% finished with #9. I think I'll finish 10 in the year. I'm okay with that. I'll have 9 gorgeous sweaters and a whole new set of knitting skills. I'm learning a lot. One of the things I learned with Sweater #6 is that I need to pay closer attention when the designer gives an option for a slightly higher neckline. This one is very nearly indecent. I have found a cami that looks okay underneath, but I dearly wish I had made the other option. Also, if I had held out just two more months, I would have had the new and improved version of the pattern.

Project: Buttercup, by Heidi Kirrmaier
Yarn: Misti Alpaca Pima Cotton & Silk DK
Needles: US 4 and US 5

Notes: I added waist shaping, knit four repeats of lace pattern at bottom, lengthened the sleeves, knit four repeats of lace pattern at bottom of sleeves, but used multiple of 5 instead of 6 for the patterning.

If I were to make it again, I would cast on fewer stitches for the back of the neck and do more shaping. To get the neck to fit without gaping, I had to snug in the edging a lot. I picked up one stitch for every two on the neck. The back of the neck fits, but the upper back has a funky puff. It sort of looks intentional.

Love the yarn! It feels great and isn’t splitty at all.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thankful Thursday

Even though I sometimes complain about work, I really do like my job. Today I am thankful that I have an interesting, challenging job that gives me very good benefits and pays me well enough that I can afford toys, books, and yarn (lots and lots of books and yarn). I work with bright, dedicated people who make every day an adventure and an interesting journey. Tomorrow they may drive me crazy, but it will be an exciting trip.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Is It Really Only Wednesday?

One of my co-workers remarked today that he spent the entire day thinking that it was Thursday. I paused and then realized that I had been thinking the same thing. Just as well that it wasn't, there is way too much to be done before Friday! This Friday is the first parent-teacher conference of the school year. We will hear all about what Young Man is doing and then will try to figure out what to do with the other 20 minutes of the meeting. I know, these are problems that are good to have. Mr. Engineer has Friday off so he and Young Man get most of the day together (until lacrosse practice, of course).

I am in the surprising position of being able to take off the entire week before Thanksgiving. I don't think that I have ever been able to do this and I am quite excited. So far, I haven't made any specific plans for these days, but Young Man and I must be able to come up with something fun.

Oh, and those choices from yesterday? The Book Club made some excellent choices:

January - Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie
February - An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, by P.D. James
March - Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry
April - off month - we share our must read lists
May - The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl, by Timothy Egan
June - Freezer Burn, by Gayle Carline

Expect to see all of these in my reading list in the months to come. Several of us are already reading Freezer Burn. This is because Gayle Carline used to work at our company, her husband is in the book club, and this is her first published book. We are all very excited for her and made sure to go to her recent book signing at a local chain bookstore.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Decisions, Decisions

Sometimes we are faced with an embarassment of riches from which to choose. My book club is about to select books for the first half of 2010. For January alone, I have to choose between the following classics:

Little Women
O! Pioneers
Peter Pan
Wuthering Heights
Uncle Tom's Cabin
Hard Times
Scarlet Pimpernel
Lord of the Flies

I mean, seriously, who can choose from that list? It just gets worse (or better) as the months go on. It is wonderful to be in a book club made up of people who find interesting titles, but I have no idea how I will decide!

In other decisions, we are getting closer to the time when we have to decide where Young Man will go for high school. Now that is a decision that seemed a long way off when he started school! My parents certainly had it easier when I was heading to high school. There was one in the town; choice made!

We won't even begin to dicuss knitting choices! I went to a local yarn store on Saturday and everyone there understood me when I said that I just needed to come visit a different stash. This is not to say that I didn't add to mine, but I did score some deliciously soft Ultra Alpaca Fine from which a pair of socks are rapidly forming. As much as I wanted to make my 12 sweaters this year, I do not want to disappoint those who look forward to hand knit socks under the tree. Again, finding the perfect pattern was a challenge, but Nancy Bush came to my rescue (again).

Once decision area that has been simplified in our house is television. We haven't had cable for a week now. We are getting used to this, but we all agree that we miss History and Discovery. It is definitely easier to leave the set off without all the channels of temptation. We will get our temptation back at some point. For now we are deciding between cable and AT&T U-verse. More decisions!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Another Finished Item, Perhaps?

I really do need to take more pictures. I could also use a few better pictures. This one is rather pathetic. The sweater is gorgeous, trust me.

Project: Tangled Yoke Cardigan by Eunny Jang, published in Fall 2007 Interweave Knits

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool

Needles: US 3 and US 4

Notes: It took me a couple of tries to get gauge on this one, but it was well worth the effort. I knit the sleeves in the round and enjoyed the entire process to get to a sweater I love.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

Bone Volume 1: Out From Boneville Bone Volume 1: Out From Boneville by Jeff Smith

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
When I was a kid I liked comic books, but then I set those aside (with a few exceptions like Calvin & Hobbes and Opus). My son never really seemed interested in either comics or graphic novels until he saw this one. A recent Scholastic book form had deal on this first volume. Now I almost wish I had popped for the entire set. This is a fun book and the artwork is incredible. It isn't for the young children, but my tween enjoyed it immensely. He also now wants all the rest of the set. Unfortunately, $10 per volume is a bit more than I like to spend for books that Young Man finishes in one day! There are other options (a full set of the 13 issues is in one volume as long as we don't mind black & white).

For those of you who haven't run across the Bone books, this is an adventure of three cousins, Fone, Phoney, and Smiley Bone. Phoney seems rotten to the core, Smiley can't pass up a bet, and Fone tries to help everyone. They get run out of Boneville and are trying to find a way back when they get separated and encounter rat creatures, a dragon and the gorgeous Thorn. It is a fun ride and I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

New Do

Sometimes you need a little change.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Views of Last Season

Young Man is practicing hard to get ready for the new season. Mr. Engineer says that he had wings during the end of practice sprints today.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thankful Thursday

I am profoundly thankful for all the wonderful teachers I have had in my life. Those who inspired me and kept me interested, those who wondered about that quiet girl who got straight As, and those who challenged me when they knew I was slacking all helped make me who I am today. You are probably not reading this, but I wish you knew that I think of one of you almost every day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Random Wednesday

As suspected, it was a day out of the office, but it wasn't even close to a day off. I spent much of the day on teleconferences (I do love our speakerphone!) and when I wasn't listening intently to the calls, I was pondering an update to the staffing plan. As Young Man would say, "Is that all you do all day???" Yes, sweetie, welcome to my world.

Holding a book club meeting via teleconference isn't ideal, but it is better than nothing. We read The Thief Lord, by Cornelia Funke this month. Our November selection is either Humor or Young Adult and it is nice to end the year with an easy read. This was my second reading of The Thief Lord and I enjoyed it even more than the first.

Young Man had practice, but I really don't know why they bothered. They heard a pep talk from Kyle Harrison and another big lacrosse name and then had a bit of a practice. Then the coaches ended practice early because of the holiday. That would be great if the parents had known about it. So the boys without cell phones lined up with the parent on watch to call for rides home. I hope the parent on duty didn't have to wait the full time, but I suspect that she did.

The good thing about hanging out for practice is that I finished knitting a beanie for one of Young Man's classmates. I hope she likes it. Two girls found out that I knit hats and asked very nicely for one neon pink and one bright blue (aqua). I found the perfect colors in Caron Simply Soft. I really do not like knitting with acrylic, but the hats are pretty cute.

Brownies take the edge off the final intense battle scenes of Lord of the Rings. This is a good thing.

Tomorrow is another day at the office. It's a good thing that I like my office.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

When Is a Day Off Not a Vacation?

Oh, that's an easy one - when you have to work, of course! Wednesday is a day to honor veterans. It is also a day to appreciate teachers for those of us who are suddenly scrambling to cover a day without school. Yes, this happens every year; you would think we would catch on by now. Anyway, I didn't figure out until Monday that leaving Young Man home along really wasn't going to work. We are in that phase where he is old enough to be alone for a while, but an entire day is pushing it. Learning that lacrosse practice was still on was the final straw. Young Man might be able to stay home, but he wouldn't be able to get to practice. So, I'll be plugged in to work with my biggest fan wondering just when will I get offline so that we can play. Okay, so it was a little fun to watch the faces at work when I reminded them that I wouldn't be in the office tomorrow. I'm evil that way.

At least I can sit and knit during practice. I will get part of the day off and I'll have an excellent lunch companion.

Monday, November 09, 2009

More For Monday

Let's continue with the catching up, shall we?

Project: Soleil Tank, by Alexandra Virgiel
Yarn: Filatura Di Crosa in Dusk (5.5 skeins)
Needles: US 5

Notes: This was what I got for going to a knit nite at a local yarn shop when they were having a pre-moving inventory reduction sale. The really good news was that I finished this one in eight days! I very much like this tank. I made it a bit longer than the pattern (as always), but that was my only modification.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

(or not)

The Children of Húrin The Children of Húrin by J.R.R. Tolkien

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
First, a disclaimer: I have been a J.R.R. Tolkien fan ever since my wonderful fifth grade homeroom teacher read us The Hobbit over winter lunch hours when it was far too cold to play outside. I read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy more times than I can remember. I do recall viewing the library copies my senior year and seeing my name on the checkout card several times. I read The Silmarillion at least twice and revelled in its intricacies.

Still, after that history, I had no wish to read this book when it came out in 2007. This was my book club's October selection, so I finally went out and read it. I can say that this is not the worst book I have ever read, but it is far from the best. I can also see why J.R.R. didn't publish it, but I wonder why Christopher Tolkien did. This is a very dark and depressing read. There is little joy between these covers and the backstory is impressively dense. Yes, that is typical for Tolkien, but to cram so much backstory into such a small book was difficult even for him. The plot twists and the constant name changes were a challenge to track. In the end, this is not so much a novel as a cautionary fable: Trust the wisdom of those around you and occasionally hold your temper and things will go better for you and those you love. Of course, if Turin had learned any of those lessons, there wouldn't have been a book. That might not have been a bad thing.

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Saturday, November 07, 2009

Saturday Sky With Persimmons

Friday, November 06, 2009

Plum Happy

Yes, I am feeling rather punny today, why do you ask?

Project: Prosperous Plum, by Joanna Cohen (free Ravelry download)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Plum Patina
Needles: US 6 and US 8

Notes: I made this pretty much straight to the pattern except that I made the body a bit longer. I'm definitely not one for the bare midriff thing. I do wish that I hadn't followed the pattern to graft the shoulders. It looked nice at first, but they are already stretching. I may have to snip and seam. That will muck up the nice crocheted neckline and arm holes, but it will be worth it. I wear this with a black cami and it is adorable. Okay, so I like how I feel in it and I have even managed to venture out without covering it all up with a blouse. I finished this one in May and it was number 5 in my 12 sweater challenge. This little baby only took 11 days to knit! I could get used to projects like that.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Thankful Thursdays

Even I can handle a once a week meme for a month and I really do have a lot for which to be thankful. Thank you to Carole for the great idea.

Today I am very thankful to be home. It was fun to travel, but it feels really good to be back.

I am very, very thankful for my wonderful husband, Mr. Engineer, who kept everything going while I was gone and keeps me sane always (or close to it).

Many thanks go to Young Man for all the hugs and unconditional love. I am one lucky mom to have a great son.

My whole family makes me thankful. Even when they drive me crazy, I am very thankful to have a family who can make me crazy.

I am profoundly thankful for all of my chosen family with whom I don't share DNA, but who have my back and I am happy to back up each and every one.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Still In Texas

It's my last night in Texas. The next challenge will be to get a seat on my flight out tomorrow afternoon. I don't have a seat assignment and American Airlines wouldn't let me get a seat assignment tonight. Their website told me to sign in on the day of my flight to get a seat. This could be interesting. So, what are the odds that I'll get bumped to first class if I wait until I get to the airport to check in? Hey, it could happen! I know this because it has happened to me, but I was only that lucky once. It was a flight from LAX to Washington-Dulles and it was full of schoolchildren on their way to D.C. I won!

Tonight's dining adventure was a team dinner at Saltgrass Steak House in McKinney. It was quite good. My steak was cooked perfectly and the baked sweet potato was delicious! Unfortunately, I was completely spoiled by last night's dining adventure so the bar was raised quite high. Still, it is always nice to dine with good company (even if one of them is a Yankees fan).

Business travel isn't bad, but it will be very nice to get back home. Young Man misses me. He is getting back into the routine of lacrosse practices and wasn't even too unhappy that they had to run sprints today. He was rather surprised to discover that some of the workouts seem easier than they did last year. Growing and staying strong and in shape between seasons is paying off.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Foodie Alert: Dallas Area

Okay, if you are a foodie and you are in the North Dallas/Plano area, you need to get yourself over to Jasper's. there are actually four restaurants, but we went to the Plano location tonight. Oh, my! I met up with a friend and it was worth the drive (okay, ride for me, but I think she would agree about the driving). The food is fabulous and the whole ambiance was just right. We managed to make our server laugh out loud when we ordered identical meals and then paid with almost identical corporate cards. What can we say? Great minds were thinking alike. The soup of the day was a delicious tomato bisque. It had a little kick, but not too much and was served with a bit of Gouda. Yum! The Texas barbecue pork loin was fabulous and the cheesecake... Well, let's just say that I may need to skip the box lunch at my training class tomorrow, but it will be worth it!

And for another recommendation, S, this is the kidlit blog I told you about: A Fuse #8 Production. The author, Elizabeth Bird is a genius and is also a prolific reviewer on Goodreads and Amazon. She has never steered me wrong.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Best Laid Plans

It is November and that means it's time for blogging every day. I'm already enjoying the resurgence of activity on my favorite blogs. I had great intentions of posting most days (maybe even every day). Then today came. It's only the second day of the month and already my resolve is fading. I believe that is because I spent the day flying to Dallas. A bit after halfway on the journey, I felt odd and then managed to mostly faint in my seat. I feel much better now and am sure that it was a blood sugar thing. I am now in my hotel room readying myself for a class. Tomorrow will be a better day, I'm sure.

The day wasn't completely awful. There were some good things: Young Man had his first lacrosse practice of the season and came home happy. He was worried about the season. I get that. It is always hard to get started with a new phase and each year the competition gets tougher. The other good thing is that I am wearing the sweater I posted yesterday. I still love it!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

November, Already?

Oh, my! I don't quite know where the time went. I have several books to review and many, many pictures of knitting to post. As you can see from the list of finished knits, I have been busy.

Here is one that was finished in March! Yes, I have been a lazy poster. I blame Ravelry and Facebook. Please excuse the dirty mirror.

Project: Minimalist Cardigan, by Ruthie Nussbaum (published in the Fall 2007 Interweave Knits)
Yarn: Berocco Ultra Alpaca
Notes: This was a very quick and easy knit. I thought the vast regions of moss stitch would be boring, but it wasn't bad at all. The final result is soft and cozy and is great to throw over a T and jeans. The only negative is that I have now learned that alpaca loosens when washed. After the first washing, the sleeves are now a bit longer than I had planned, but I still love the sweater.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America The Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America by Russell Shorto

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
If you have ever wondered why it is that we learn in American History that the country was founded with Puritan ideals, yet the basics of tolerance and civil liberties are in conflict with the intolerance of the Puritans, then this book is for you!

It is no secret that I am a sucker for well-written history books. I have always felt that my education in the history of my own country, let alone the world, was not good enough. This may not have been the fault of my teachers as I was most likely much more engaged by my science and math classes, but some of the dry texts that we read did not help matters. I am also not fond of the short attention span textbooks that my son is required to use, but I do think that he is getting a broader view of history than I did. To fill in the gaps, I now actively seek out books that both inform and keep my attention. Russell Shorto has succeeded on both levels.

After reading The Island at the Center of the World, I realize that I previously knew very little about New Netherlands. I don't even recall learning that Henry Hudson was working for the Dutch when he "discovered" Manhattan. Those gaps have been filled in grand style. This was a thoroughly enjoyable yet well-researched book. Shorto has a gift for bringing energy and life to what could be dry details. By focussing on the people and their interactions, he breathes life into the dusty pages of long-untranslated records. If he has any failings it is perhaps that he reaches a bit far to personalize those who left little record and there are some repetitions. Still, the flaws are few and are easily overlooked. In terms of style, he doesn't quite reach that of David McCullough, but I will not hold that against him.

This book is well worth the time and answers many questions that I have had about how we managed to value tolerance when our supposed founders epitomized intolerance and bigotry. The answers lie within these covers.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Curl Up With a Book Sunday

City of Shadows: A Novel of Suspense City of Shadows: A Novel of Suspense by Ariana Franklin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This was a fabulous book! The author deftly drew me into 1922 Berlin and the intrigues surrounding the alleged Anastasia. I wasn't at all sure what to expect from this book, but I was pleased with what I found. The writing was wonderful as was the plot development. Some of the twists were fairly easy to predict, but others caught me completely off guard. I do enjoy a mystery where the author is able to surprise me.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sky on Saturday

It's not today's sky. Today is boring and hazy blue. This one is is much more interesting.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I spent the first half to two-thirds of this book wondering if I actually liked it. I never hated it, mind you, I just wasn't sure if the problem was the book or me. It wasn't easy getting close to Julie. She (or the version of her she displays in this memoir) is quite prickly. Since I can be prickly myself, I can respect that. However, I was reading this while quite sick and it seemed that my own crankiness over being sick was magnified while reading the angst-ridden musings of someone whining about turning 30. This was definitely not a subject over which I could give much sympathy. One of the downsides of having a (wonderful) husband four years older than myself is that I am never allowed the luxury of wallowing in self-pity over hitting a milestone birthday because he has already done it.

Okay, I could cut Julie a little slack on the age angst. I still found myself wondering what it was that this much younger person could teach me about life or food. Perhaps that is why Julia seemed less than impressed with the Julie/Juliea Project. It turns out that I think Julie knows quite alot about both food and life. She certainly had strength to put herself out on display for a year while attempting a truly crazed act of obsession. Again, I know about crazed acts of obsession, so I can relate. Blogging can be quite narcissistic, and Julie certainly indulged herself there. Still, I think that Julie had to get to the point where she was becoming more comfortable in her own skin before I could get comfortable with her portrayal of herself. Thus, the last third of the book was much more satisfying than the first two-thirds. In the end, the feast was worth the trek. I hope it was for Julie as well.

No, this won't be on my list of favorite books read in 2009 (if I actually manage to compile such a thing), but it was an enjoyable enough read. It was rather obvious that this was the author's first book, but it took quite a leap to make that first book a memoir. Audacious and probably a bit self-centered, but that's not always a bad thing.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

I Do Not Like Soup

There, I admit it. I don't know why, but I have never liked sipping my food. I don't mine sipping a good wine or a pint, but I don't want to sip my meal. It seems vaguely unwholesome to admit to not liking soup. Certainly, chicken soup is supposed to be comfort food and everyone suggests soup when you are sick. Okay, so I will concede that a grilled cheese sandwich isn't much without some tomato soup for dipping, but beyond that I don't want any stupid soup!

Perhaps it is the connection with illness that gets me. I'm sure I was fed lots of soup as I recovered from myriad illnesses as a child. Maybe that was why I reacted when Mr. Engineer suggested soup for lunch. Yes, I am sick. Yes, some hot liquid would probably help. Does it have to be soup???? Ugh. I do not like being sick and I do not like soup!

For the record, I did eat the stupid soup, but I didn't enjoy it. I am feeling better, but I'm sure it is because of the antibiotics and steroids (and the week spent mostly in bed) and not the soup.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

It's Back to School Time!

It took a bit to get a smile this morning, but I managed. Young Man is decked out in his not-yet-hemmed slacks and tie (I swear, I was sure he would wear shorts, it's in the 90s today). He is off to Seventh Grade. I'm shocked, I tell you. I cannot imagine where all the time has gone.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday Sky for Sandy

Happy Birthday, Sandy!

Monday, August 03, 2009

Curl Up With A Book Sunday, er, Monday

It has been a while since I blogged. Silly Ravelry and Facebook have sucked away all my time (them and that work thing).

The Monsters of Templeton The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
For the first chapter or two, I had my doubts about this book. It wasn't that it started out slow, it was just that it started out weird. I couldn't decide if it was a romance or a science fiction or a mystery. In the end it was all of those with a bit of historical setting thrown in and I no longer worried about genre. This is the first novel by Ms. Groff, and there should be many more good reads to come from this author. She started with the solid advice of "write what you know," and set her novel in a fictionalized version of her hometown, Cooperstown, NY. She then took a decidedly twisted turn and firmly hooked me. By the end, I really cared about all the quirky inhabitants of Templeton, both present and past. I heartily recommend this book if you enjoy a bit of genealogical sleuthing and can handle myriad illegitmate ancestors.

One minor word of warning, this book skips from person to person, point of view to point of view, and time to time rapidly. If you aren't paying attention (and sometimes even if you are), you won't realize who is narrating the chapter until you are a page into it. I love books like this, but some don't, so be forewarned.

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

Our Bags Are Packed...

Friday, June 19, 2009

Where Am I?

This weekend I am in Park City, Utah, at the Park City Shootout lacrosse tournament. See the fun at Young Man is having a ball. That's him in the first photo from the 19 June post.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Lacrosse Under the Lights

Who knew? By reading my camera's manual for a few minutes and fiddling with a few settings, I was able to get halfway decent pictures under the lights last night! They certainly aren't as nice as the daytime pictures, but they will do. I just have to remember to be patient because I can't take rapid-fire shots like I can in daylight. Young Man was very much on his game last night. He got new cleats Saturday and we added some gel heel inserts. I'm told that the shoes are now "bouncy." That's high praise for kid cleats.

Playing with the camera meant that I wasn't paying quite as much attention to the game as normal and several goals slipped in without my noticing. Happily, they were all from Young Man's team. We managed to lose track of the score, but the scorekeeper let us know that it ended 8-3 . Young Man had many really good plays where he took the ball away from the opposing team's attack players again and again. They left very disappointed. Today he has a call-back for the summer traveling team. Wish him luck!

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Another Sunny Saturday?

Well, not so much. It is rather cloudy and almost dreary here. Under our Saturday Sky, we found a tortoise pining for a sunbeam. Sorry, buddy, I think you are out of luck today.

Other than the odd weather, it is all lacrosse all the time here. Young Man had two games last Saturday afternoon, but I forgot the camera! He has another game tonight, but I won't be able to get decent pictures under the lights. He also has a call-back for the travelling team. This is the Crush team that he was on last summer. This time he is a big sixth grader and one of the more experienced players. If he makes the final cut, we should be visiting Park City, Utah, and northern California this summer.

Finally, we could use something cheery on this dreary day. I give you pink!

Project: Rotini Scarf (pattern from a local yarn shop
Yarn: Trendsetter Yarns Tonalita in 2420 (lots of pink)
Needles: US 8 (5.0 mm) straights

Notes: Well, it is bright! This isn't usually my thing, but I had a weak moment. All pink yarns were on sale for Valentine's Day and I was looking for a project to make for a mom who has helped us get to lacrosse practices. I rounded a corner and ran smack into a store sample of this pattern and the pattern was free. It is different and not at all my style or coloring, but I think the recipient will like it. I hope so!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's About Time I Finished Something (Part 2)

Something snapped in me this year. I think it might have been my sanity. I signed up for the silliness that is NaKniSweMoDo. That is, National Knit a Sweater a Month Dodecathon. It is nearing the end of the fourth month and I have only completed two sweaters. I do have a tank that is nearing the halfway point and another cardigan that is ~75% finished. I would be even closer on the cardi, but it was just too hot this week to think about wool, even Silky Wool.

Project: Must Have Cardigan by Patons
Size: Medium
Yarn: Patons Classic Wool Merino in grey (6 skeins)
Needles: US 6 (4.0 mm) and US 7 (4.5 mm)

Notes: This was actually a fairly fast knit. I started the back in December, but only knit about three inches to check gauge before shelving it until New Years Day. I finished on 12 February. It wasn't difficult and the instructions were quite clear. I did add two inches to the body and at least one to the sleeves. I do wish that I had made the next larger size as this is a bit more fitted than I would like. Of course, I could lose those 25 pounds that have been haunting me and then it would fit much better. Alternatively, I could send it to my sister in Minnesota who is the one who actually needs a wool cardigan. And, yes, I have considered knitting a second one for myself and sending this one to my sister.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's About Time I Finished Something (Part 1)

Well, it's about time I started posting about the things that I have been finishing! Let's start off with something simple.

Project: Noro Striped Scarf
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden in #84 and some other color (lost the ball band)
Needles: US 7 (4.5mm) straights

Notes: What can I say? Yes it is another striped scarf. This is the third that I have done. I think it turned out well and it looks great on the recipient. It wasn't my colors at all, so it was tough for me to judge. It is just the right color for the woman to whom I gave it and that is what matters.