Thursday, December 30, 2010


Did you have a wonderful Christmas? We did! Though it was very intimate and quiet, just the four of us. Our families all live far away, and my work schedule did not permit any travelling. But it was fun nevertheless.

Baby Calvin turned two. Having a birthday just before Christmas is a bummer, but he is too little to care, yet.
There was a Sponge Bob ice cream cake, after all

It was much enjoyed. All over the table, the floor,  and the kid.   
 And then of course, the Big Show! Christmas Day is so much more fun with two little kids around.

Presents under the tree! now we are talking

Yahoo! what a loot

a happy customer, hoarding his toys

Three hours of wrapping, gone in minutes

I got the sweetest Christmas gift too! A bottle of perfume engraved with a very sweet message from my husband, and a DRESSFORM! yahoo! It just melts my heart to think of my husband calling sewing stores trying to get the thing.Of course, I got him a tool chest, and I am like a fish out of water in a hardware store, so we are even.  So now, I have no excuse to try and design a woman's sweater.

Incredibly, my year end's plan for knitting was almost realized. A couple of secret projects done, gone, and waiting to be published. The 2010 Kalendar done in time! and so many gorgeous pictures cropping up of your finished projects! I am so proud of what we have all achieved. And... Winterchild finished! And I can't resist showing it off on the new dress form
Here it is, pre-blocking

DH found these extra-large, well priced mats at Home Depot

Here it is - all blocked

A triangle drape

here showing the square shape better

A detail of the pattern

I have gathered a nice group of testers, and the pattern is off to Kate the tech editor, and now I have to manage some beautiful photographs, and it will be in the KnitPicks IDP site very soon. I enjoyed working with their Shimmer Alpaca-Silk blend lace yarn once more, it feels luxurious, it has a beautiful sheen and feel. DH is working on making me a little table-top studio, to see if we can improve the quality of the photography. He is such a gem.

Of course, right now I am suffering from the post project blues. Sometimes, after powering through a big project or two, I feel drained. So yesterday I went on a pointless shopping expedition, which is usually a great pick-me-up.
First, to the bookstore - I got a copy of Wrapped in Lace, and I almost read it cover to cover sitting at the Starbucks inside B&N. What a lovely book. I felt immediate kinship with Margaret Stove's creative journey through lace. I wish I could create such lovely, perfect gems as she has.

And also, a copy of this. It has been a long time since I have read it, so I thought I would do the homework to get my inspiration together! I wanted a hard copy I could earmark, make notes and put tabs on. After the first two chapters, I found myself remembering how much I have loved Verne's books as a child. If you want to read it too, the book is available as part of the Creative Commons, and free in the web in a number of free pdf's formats. Here is one, from U of Philadelphia. So now you don't have an excuse not to read along!

Then, to the yarn shop... of course! To show off Winterchild. And I could not escape without a copy of Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top , since I fully intend to design a woman's sweater some time in the future. Always an excuse to get another book.

And yes, yarn. I promised to myself I would not buy any, but I had promised my sister a hat months ago, after her favorite Urchin started to fall apart. And conveniently, they had some Yak/cormo blend yarn in natural hues that was to die for! After a quick Rav search for a pattern that suited my sister, I settled for Louisa by Kristi Pedersen, which not only uses the same hues, and same gauge, but it just looks like it is made for my sister.

The first few rows form a knitted Latvian braid, a technique used in many Nordic style patterns, which is fun (but slow) to make and quite lovely. I expect that I will need a couple of quick, fun projects to get over the whole shawl blues. Hats, mitts and socks, here I go!

And of course, expect to hear more about the 2011 Kalendar soon, as I start drawing inspiration from the book, and swatching, lots of swatching.

My new year's resolutions?
To give you all a lovely 2011 Kalendar to treasure
To design a woman's sweater
To get off my chest a couple of other small designs (shawlettes, mostly)
Once more, to clean off my WIP drawer
To do a better job of keeping in contact with my friends.
And to lose 10 lbs and exercise more. This one is a bonus and i would not hold my breath.
Have a great 2011 everybody!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Nearly Christmas! O-o

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Or at least as much like Christmas as it can look in sunny Phoenix. We try our best. Our tree may be lacking snow and tinsel, which we discovered causes tummy upset in children and dogs alike. The tree decorations only reach the middle third of the tree, or as high as our youngest child can reach. I am looking forward to have a tree with decorations all the way to the bottom (about as much as I am looking forward to a full, hot, uninterrupted meal).

Now, at least, when I sit in my breakfast nook, I can see a winter landscape complete with trees, snowflakes and happy sledders. Courtesy of Crayola and my husband's creativity. The children helped (those are the smudges in the snow at the bottom) and they had a great time with it. I love it! Cheap. Fun. Washable.
Less than 10 shopping days left!
And I am all done (I think)! Our Christmas list is woefully short, since the in-law side of the family decided not to exchange gifts. The boy's gifts were a matter of a crazy morning at Toys R Us. The most difficult part, however, has always been my family. They have everything. They live in Spain. Shipping anything is a nightmare, it can't be breakable, it can't have smelly chemicals or they'll tear your package apart, and it costs a song to mail anything - No cookies and fudge are possibly worth $200 worth of shipping.
So this year I thought I was smart by buying stuff online in shops located in Spain, I could actually invest more on the gift itself, save on shipping and have it delivered before Spring. I was wrong. It sucked. For some reason, online stores in Spain are not really prepared to sell to customers outside the EU. You have to register to buy (name, password, the whole kit and kaboodle). You absolutely need a National ID number to buy (I have an outdated one, since I haven't lived there in 20+ years). You can't enter an address outside a few choice countries (which include Lithuania and Turkey and a smattering of EU countries but not USA). So I used my parent's address. You can't choose shipping method, so they smack  you about 10 euros for same-day shipping, whether you want it or not. They charge you VAT, somewhere between 15-20%, with no option out. And once you use paypal (I resisted entering my credit card info after all that), you can't enter a shipping address outside USA so go figure. After I finished shopping, I felt like I have committed some kind of felony. My request definitely must look like an illegal one, so I better call the store and clarify that I just want to buy my sister an electronic gadget for Christmas and no, I can't send one from USA for a variety of reasons. Wish me luck. Spain is not famous for its customer friendliness.

Winterchild progress report
Last year, I was smart. I started early and knitted gifts for all my family; This year, I had four patterns on deadline. My little Christmas miracle is that three of them are done on time. Child sweater in process of being edited, to be released who knows when; our beloved KAL clues all done though not completely finished yet; The socks, safely home with the editor for photography and editing.
Just this guy to finish. And guess what, I am out of yarn. Miscalculated again!

It is more that I changed my mind half way through it, and decided to make the shawl a whole 25% longer and wider, changed the center design, changed the edge...

Now we are looking at a shawl/wrap/baby blankie about 50x35 in size. It is a very versatile size and a pattern that manages to look much more difficult than what it is... and not a purl in sight!
Hopefully I will be done with the writing very shortly and looking for testers. So if you have a special one you want to make a shawl, wrap, prayer shawl, crib blanket for, and you like the design, let me know.

What is coming next?
2011 Edition Mystery Shawl.
I am not sure of the what, how and when, but I have an idea of the What About. Here are a couple of links to chew on:
Getting any ideas? Suggestions?

Photo Contest for the 2010 KAL.
Once the Christmas wraps up, we will again request pictures of your finished clues to include in the compiled pattern for the 2010 shawl... and also pictures of the finished shawl for the pattern and the Rav page! you will be credited, and a nice price will be raffled among the entries... Maybe yarn to get your 2011 shawl going? A nice set of needles? A project bag? I am open to suggestions.

A couple more shawls, baby sweaters, hats...
This has been an exhausting end of the year for me. Knitting on schedule almost takes the fun out of knitting. In the next year, I want to recapture the joy of working on fun projects at my own pace. I have a couple of experimental children in the sketch books and I can't wait to clean up my WIP drawer again to set to work on swatching for them. There are two lovely small shawlettes that are calling me like the mermaids to Ulysses, and a couple of fun and quick colorwork projects. I really hope you will tag along for the journey; Your comments on Cliffrose made a dramatic difference on how I saw and developed the shawl.

And just for giggles... my bumper crop
I am sorry, I just HAVE to brag. You know how Knitspot's Anne Henson is always showing off her amazing garden vegetables. I am so jealous of her. I have the worse black thumb this side of the Mississippi (and THAT side too). This year however, the DH installed dogproof sprinklers in a previously dry part of the yard, and unexpectedly, the elderly dwarf orange tree grew so many oranges we don't even know what to do with them.
This tree is just as tall as I am, and yet it has produced a sackful of oranges!. Next to it is an equally dwarf lemon tree which is also starting to stir.

I mean... six baskets of oranges, and still fruit on the tree???
Three things I discovered: 1 - Orange juice uses up a lot of orange, so it is the preferred method to deal with the abundance. 2- It is too much damn work to squeeze oranges by hand. 3- Organic freshly squeezed orange juice is SO good it almost makes you forget how much damn work it is.