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Saturday, 14 January 2006
B is for BOOKS!

This is a statue that a local library commissioned to place outside its new wing (also new front door). I love that someone cares enough about books to put them in a form that last forever, and yet maintains whimsy...

Of course, as much as I love these stone books, I prefer them with paper (or maybe vellum) pages.

Books have been an integral part of my life as long as I can remember. Books have given me vacations when life was awful (I could always escape into a book.) Books still give me vacations -- all the time.

Books have given me guidance when I was lost or confused.

Books help me get to sleep at night.

Books taught me a lot of my knitting skills, and now keep knitting patterns and inspirations for me.

Books taught me history, law, cooking, and a bit of psychology. Books taught me child rearing techniques -- and how to ignore them. Books taught me that people, like books, are not always what their covers imply.

Books are even introducing me to new people (I've finally yielded to the urge to joing a book group).

In honor of Books, I'm giving in to this meme:

1) Total number of books in your house:

This is definitely going to be a loose estimate. If you think I'm going to count them, you're insane (or think I have the week off). I'm going to say approximately 1900.

How I got there. I do have a outdated list of my fiber books which says I have 279 of them. Since I last updated that list, I've bought some and sold some, so I'm going with that number. (This number does not, of course, include back issues of magazines, or individual patterns... only actual books.)

As for other books, in the house I guesstimated by counting the books on a few shelves, counting shelves, and averaging... that gets me over 1500 in the "library". (Dontcha just love those shelves??)

I know that we have 50 items out from the library (only 4 of which are movies or cds). I've another 50 or so in my office.

I didn't count the kids' books because a) they're an ever shifting number -- we donate them to the library when they're truly done with them, but they get bookstore gift cards for every gift giving event (and are thrilled).

Books keep me from fretting about artwork, we just fill our walls with shelves...

2) The last book you read before starting this meme was:
"The Hollow Kingdom" by Clare B. Dunkel; one of my daughters read it and thought I'd enjoy it too. She was right.
Of course, I'm curretnly in the midst of two more..

3) The last book you bought was:

Great Knits for Kids by Debbie Bliss, because after poring over the library copy, my daughter said she wnated about half the sweaters in it.

4) List 5 books you often read or that mean a lot to you.
Only FIVE???

- Robert Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land
- Frank Herbert's Dune
- Katherine Kurtz's Deryni Series
- Certain parts of The Prophet, by Kahil Gibran, and the Tao Te Ching, by Lao Tsu
- Knitting without Tears, and Knitting Around by Elizabeth Zimmerman (and yes, I did just read them before doing anything else about them.

Please note: this list excludes things like the Dictionary (to which I refer OFTEN, but which I've not actually sat down to read) and many knitting books to which I refer repeatedly, if not often. It also ignores the stuff I use at work.

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 9:12 PM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Tuesday, 17 January 2006 12:00 AM CST
Sending Knitted Love to College
We now interrupt your planned knitting with a scarf for a worthy cause.
And no, it's not just another charity knitting event. It's the second one you've ever seen me write about, and the first one you'll see me really working to accomplish.

If you don't like it, blame Norma It's her fault I found out about it.

Our mission: to knit a red a scarf for the Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) to send to a Foster Child in college by the end of the month. There's more details on their site.

Why: Foster children battle so many extra things every day, and few of them get the support they need to make it through high school. Those who have the fortitude to make it to college often find themselves Emancipated -- after all, they are likely to be over 18 -- and thus no longer their Foster Parents' responsibility. Thus, they're suddenly orphaned in college. OFA tries to ease that burden by sending care packages, so that these kids too can enjoy the sense of being cared for by their community. As you can see here, they're one of the "good ones" whose administrative costs do not eat up the funds destined for good works.

OFA is trying to gather 25,000 2,500* scarves to give for Valentines day -- read more about it here

We've got two weeks to whip up a lovely (preferably red) scarf to send to these folks ... and if there's an Einsteins Bagels near you... you can just drop it off. Einstein Bagels locations (it says all 419 of them in the country) are serving as drop-off points, by January 31, 2006. Or, it says you can mail them to:

Orphan Foundation of America/Red Scarf Project
21351 Gentry Drive, Suite 130
Sterling, VA 20166-8511

And (gulp) it says the deadline for mailing is January 28, 2006. This is REALLY a short deadline!!!

So... let's go stash diving to find some scrumptious red yarn to knit that scarf.... come with me.

There it is, the stash closet beckons, shining it's light on all the yarn so we can see what's there.

Here we have one side of the stash... is there any red yarn here? Yes...

But as fun as that is, it will not a full sized scarf make (even if I had the time to knit one at that gauge.. be real!)

There's some red peeking out... alas, we'll learn soon that it's sport weight. What about this side:

You can't see it in the picture, but there was some more red yarn lurking in there.. And the useful results of our quest were these:

Even though the Coco has nylon, which means that there's less of a chance of a massive felting disaster in the scarf's future, I think I'll use the Galway... which means I'll be knitting in worsted weight -- a pseudo thick and quick type of scarf... instead of in sport/dk. However, I may yet change my mind and work with the Coco doubled... Either way, I'll be casting on and knitting this tomorrow.

a Besotted Scarf Filled with Xs and Os, I'm hoping it's recipient recognizes the hugs and kisses coming his or her way.

Won't you join me?

*Correction posted 1/15/06 .. Thanks Mary Beth!

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 12:01 AM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (1) | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006 11:00 AM CST
Friday, 13 January 2006
Footcare for Handknit Socks
As I knit madly on my JayCrossWalker socks,

I note that each sock-worthy day finds me wearing other hand-knit socks I've made (and been gifted with). Like, for example these:

My first ever Koigu knitting

or maybe these:

Lucy Neatby's Fiesta Socks

Or these:

My Mendocino Clock Socks -- for which I even wrote and sold the pattern!

Today, I thought about my socks and their lives ...

This wealth of yummy warmth for my feet has lasted well... my first ever pair of socks is still with me some ten years later, albeit a tad worn, and well-darned.

The yarn has worn thin at the toes and heels, and I'm beginning to wonder if there's enough there to darn yet one more time.

Perhaps I'll re-knit the toes, if I have enough of the left-over yarn (and yes, I still have some and I still know where it is).

It's right there in that drawer where I keep all the leftover sock yarn. You have one of those drawers, don't you? Doesn't everyone??

How have my lovely socks lasted so long? Especially since I'm prone to ditching my shoes as soon as I walk in the house, and going sock-footed for the rest of the day, and that includes occasional forays into the yard without putting the shoes back on? I wash them gently, I never put them in the dryer ...

and I get pedicures!

The beauty of getting a pedicure (besides fancy toes) is that you get to knit socks while having your feet pampered so that they're better inhabitants for the socks. What a lovely cycle! And I've learned that for $7.00, my folks will give you an extra 10 minutes of foot massage. (this does delay the knitting, but it's worth it. I just can't knit during the massage part).

Even so... I make progress....

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 12:01 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Sunday, 15 January 2006 1:11 AM CST
Tuesday, 10 January 2006
Sheets and Pipes and Socks
Topic: Knitting
I've discovered something wonderful!
You know that marvelous yarn made out of Bamboo -- how luxurious and silky and soft it is? Well some wise person took to weaving with it ... on what is undoubtedly an enormous loom ... and made sheets out of it! Yes! It's true! You can now buy Bamboo Sheets. They're divine! Ask me how I know...

Ask me whether I'm thinking of just returning the 600 count sheets I bought to spoil myself the same day I bought these? YES, because I can't imagine that they feel any better than these, much less twice as good (which they'd have to, to justify paying twice the cost).

And someone please point out to me that buying one set in every color would really be a violation of the GCop program! The first set of sheets would not be -- they were just replacements: DH somehow managed to make a wee tear in the old (yes OLD... so old they were due for replacement anyway) sheet, and then failed to point it out until he'd torn a HUGE hole... I should have photographed it.

I DID manage to get the full 100 items gone plus some by the end of last weekend, despite fighting migraines and shopping for sheets.

In further damaged to GCOP, I bought my new blocking tools:

Note the door ... it's there for size comparison with the PVC pipes that run up past the ceiling.

Yeppir, I bought two ten foot lengths of PVC pipe, and some joints:

Clearly, I'm not doing as well as one might with Getting Stuff OFF the property... but these will be cut to size (with spare bits for future items) and joined appropriately to form perfect stretcher bars for blocking the Celtic Shawls. I'll run a bit of light string through the edges, and then use more string to lace the stuff to the pipes, and then stretch..... Sounds fun eh?

Sounds much more fun than last night's discovery of the mistake I made in the JayCrossWalker socks. We will not discuss that since I made that mistake, I not only finished the heel flap, but turned the heel and finished off the gusset. ahem.

In rebellion, I started sock 2. Of course, the first thing I did there was to cast on not one, not two, but eight too many stitches. I figured that out after I had knit the inch of ribbing and started the pattern stitch, at which point it became ... shall we say .. obvious?? I've fixed that now, and am re-doing that lovely k2p2 rib in a more appropriate number of stitches.

As for sock one, I've decided to put it to the BlogReader test. If you all can see and identify my mistake (which right now is driving ME nuts), I'll frog back, and do it right. If not... I'll try to talk myself into living with it.

Have a closer look:

So.. Today's report
G-COP - Added several items, Disposed of none since Sunday
Socks - aren't winning yet, but...

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 3:56 PM CST | Post Comment | View Comments (4) | Permalink
Secret Pal Stuff --
I'm now a member of a Secret Pal group ... This means two things: 1) I get to create secret pal boxes to ship away to make someone's day brighter... and
2) someone will be sending me fun stuff!

In order to participate, we all have to fill out this lovely questionnaire. Like a Meme, in a way... only we don't get to tag anyone with it.

So....While I plot the fun things to give my new pal... you get to read still more information about me me me than anyone needs.

1. Are you a yarn snob (do you prefer higher quality and/or natural fibers)? Do you avoid Red Heart and Lion Brand?

I am a bit of a yarn snob. I eschew Red Heart ack-rylic, but have been known to use some Lion Brand yarns quite happily.

2. Do you spin? Crochet?

Well... I have spun. I have wheels. They're sorely neglected. I also have far more fiber in the stash to spin than I could spin in a long time ... so more won't be necessary.

I once crocheted A LOT... but now, I pretty much stick to knitting.

3. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Two three ring binders with a clear plastic pencil cases ... one for each size of course. One binder holds circulars and the other holds dpns. I never use straights (they make my wrists sore).

4. How long have you been knitting? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

Long story? or short one? I think I get to give the long one in a few questions, so for now...

I've been knitting somewhat seriously for about 10 years. I alter patterns at will, and have designed several (socks, a vest, kids' sweaters....)

I'd guess I qualify as advanced intermediate -- maybe advanced .. I've taught advanced intermediate, but still... there's stuff left to learn!

5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Why yes, I do! And I'll be happy to go generate more

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.)

ONE scent? are you nuts??
When I yield to temptation and buy Party Lite candles, I invariably buy half a dozen scents because I can't CHOOSE! But, if anyone has any PartyLite pillar or ball candles in Starry Night (a long discontinued scent) I'd give up cashmere to get more...

Oh, wait, you wanted a real answer didn't you?
It depends so much on season and stuff. Generally, I like spicy and/or spicy floral and don't' like fruity (well, except maybe citrusy). I don't like sweet smells -- well except for frangipani. I do like Patchouli (unlike some people) and sandalwood. I like lavender, but not too much.

I love the smell of fresh coffee (but find that if it's on a Bunn, it smells burnt in minutes) and the smell of leather.... but not as candles or perfume.

7. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

yes. I may not like sweet smells, but ...
My favorite candy is rich DARK chocolate. Milk chocolate is only okay, and white chocolate is a complete waste of time... but dark chocolate... yummmmmmm

8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do?

well.... um... there are many that I have done (like cross stitch, and sewing) that I don't do now. I still crochet now and then.

I own a wheel and a table loom, and pretend that I will once again spin, and that I will learn to weave.

Mostly , though, I knit, and read, and blog...

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

Yes. and yes.
Oh, wait, that's not very helpful.
I do NOT like grunge rock or "head banging" stuff.
I do like classical, particularly Baroque and Romantic periods, but I'm not much on Stravinsky or modern;
I like Country (and western);
I love Celtic music;
I like soft rock, but NOT "Easy Listening"
I like "Classic Rock", 70's and 80's rock, but not really 50's or 60's;
I like some New Age, and most show tunes;
I'm fond of Big Band Style Jazz, some folk....
I'm not fond of opera..... unless I'm THERE

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand?

I'm a "Winter" I favor rich jewel tones, and gravitate toward purple (though lately rich deep reds have been calling me). I also love rich blues and greens, fuschias.... I also like pink, and lavender, must not mint green.

I look like I died in anything yellow based, and thus tend NOT to like yellows or oranges (or lime green), unless they're flashes of contrast.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I'm married, have two daughters (8 & 10) and a step daughter, two cats, a dog, and a bunch of koi and goldfish in the pond.

12. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear shawls and mittens, but not scarves and rarely hats. When I first started on this I didn't know about ponchos, but having recently received one -- yes. I DO (surprise face).

I'd like a hat or some other head covering that manages not to smash my hair...I'm still looking

13. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with?

Most recently - Elann's Peruvian Highlands's Alpaca Silk .... ahhhhhh

Generally, soft things .. merino, merino/silk blends, alpaca blends,

I like koigu (is there anyone who doesn't?)

14. What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

MOHAIR! itch! sneeze! ick

I'm also not much fond of or wools, as they tend to feel scratchy to me.

15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s?

16. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

quick things that give me Feelings of Accomplishment right smartly; shawls that let me feel proud of my accomplishments; someone else's Well Written Pattern so I can blindly follow along; my own designs so I can figure them out as I go along...

17. What are you knitting right now?

Well.... what a very good question!
I've just F'd some O's.... and so I'm swatching and working on longstanding things.

I am working on the second of a pair of matching shawls, plotting for OLYMPIC KNITTING, and have a pair of wrist warmers on the needles for mindless work.

I'm plotting a Rogue, or that riding jacket in Loop D Loop (a book which I otherwise have little use for)

A sweater for DH is languishing in the WIP basket next to the Pre-Columbian Shawl (Intarsia, warm yummy). Those are the most active of the long list of WIPs and UFOs

18. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

yes. (well, if they're made well....)

19. Do you prefer straight or circular needles?

Circular! Absolutely. Wrists can't take straights

20. Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

What's the yarn? what's the project?

Bamboo, birch, rosewood, casein, alumium....
I guess Bamboo is the top, though that's not what I have most of

21. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?


22. How did you learn to knit?

Super short version: My stepfather's mother taught me garter stitch. I'm not sure if she also taught me to purl. The rest of the basics came from books.

And now, the rest of the story:

I learned when I was 11 (from my stepfather's wonderful mother Dot). I knit the most amazing, ack-rylic purple scarf for my father. The edges were very special -- it had a charming waving edge all along both sides, caused no doubt by random addition and loss of stitches. That scarf still lives, and warms my dear step-mom's neck when she's out walking in the woods.

Then I stopped. In early college, I knit a "bed jacket". After law-school, I tried again, and went to my first ever real yarn store, where I discovered all sorts of fibers... including a shiny rayon ribbony thing and mohair. I bought a bunch to make an intarsia sweater -- . I learned intarsia. I fought every single stitch... I hated it. I made a deal with a friend ... she'd knit my sweater, I'd crochet her a large lacy doily. No clue what she wanted the doily for. Once the sweater was done, I learned that I can't wear mohair.

Then I visited a cousin who had just finished knitting something, and I decided to try one more time. The rest is history -- I found the Knit List, I joined TKGA and went to conferences, I bought ALL of the Knitters magazines...

I took the CYCA courses on teaching knitting, and briefly served as Knitting Guru at Flying Colors before I moved from the Chicago area.

meanwhile, I'm still learning...

23. How old is your oldest UFO?

er... that would take digging through the UFOs to find out! I've no clue. Years.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird?

Tinkerbell, Stitch in attitude sometimes, but I own no Stitch stuff, ...cats, dragons, falcons, wolves, and of course lambs!

25. What is your favorite holiday?

um.... can I get back to you on that? I dunno....

26. Is there anything that you collect?

Books! Yarn!

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Knitters, Vogue Knitting, Interweave Knits, INKnitting, Cast On, (working on ridding myself of Simple Knits), and whatever Knitters Digest turned into. Also, Twist and Turns(Janet Szabo's lovely periodical).

28. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on?

The perfect Rogue yarn -- I've been swatching and rejecting for MONTHS! Everything's the wrong blankety blank gauge!

As for books... I'll post em on Amazon's wish list.

29. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

Better blocking ... especially for shawls

30. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

Yes ... my recent encounters with Jay Crosswalker and the Guitar Sox notwithstanding.

Ankle at top of cuff: 11 1/8"
Ankle at the top of the heel flap: 9"
Happiest heel flap length: ~ 3"
Big Toe to heel turn: 9"
Baby Toe to heel turn: 7 1/8"
Instep circumference just in front of heel: 10"
Arch circumference 9 3/8"
Ball of foot circumference: 9 1/8"

I have fairly narrow heels, but a high instep....

All that detail said: The last basic size 7 1/2 sock someone made for me fits fine...

31. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)

October 20

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 8:17 AM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 30 January 2006 5:48 PM CST

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