Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas 2009: the holiday, the knits, & the mini-meltdown

Hi everyone. I hope that Christmas 2009 was as happy and memorable for you as you had hoped. It was memorable for me in that it was the first time I cooked a holiday ham and the first in many years that I stuck around in White Cloud long enough to attend the family Christmas party with my aunt and cousins. The ham was a full sized, bone-in 16 pounder from Merindorf's. Even though it was pre-cooked, the challenge for me was to heat up a tasty ham without the use of a reliable oven and to not end up with jerky. When in White Cloud, Sylvain and I stay at my brother's house; my biggest complaint about his home is that his oven has a mind of its own -- the temperature is completely off and the door does not close completely. This doesn't bother them too much since most of their cooking is done on the stovetop and food that needs to be baked usually can fit within their large toaster oven. Armed with my roaster and a recipe from Cook's Illustrated, I was ready. I skipped the brining directions for the "Coca-cola Ham" recipe and used the instructions for the sage, parsley, and garlic rub and apple cider glaze. The ham turned out wonderfully, with everyone claiming it was the best they've ever had. I also cooked double batch of green bean casserole (using another Cook's Illlustrated recipe). For this, I needed to use the Oven From Hell, and ended up scorching the breading and French onion topping. Burnt bits aside, the casserole was fine, though the sauce did not thicken up as much as it did the last time I made this dish.

I credit Sylvain with the decision to attend my aunt's Christmas party. If I had my way, we would've high-tailed it home Saturday afternoon. Sylvain was very insistent on attending, claiming that he wanted to hang-out with my cousins and their kids. All in all, it wasn't as bad as I remember these get togethers being, with me managing to avoid conversation with the cousins that I cannot stand (there are 7 of us, afterall). Also, I was able to unload an untouched batch of scorched green bean casserole.

Okay, so now the knits: the felted slippers were well liked by everyone that received them. I decided to go ahead and felt the clogs in advance of giving them out rather than gifting them unfelted with felting directions. Only my brother's pair looked a little large and in need of additional shrinking, but I can easily accomplish that while at his house. Photos of all of these slippers can be found on my Ravelry project page. I was sure to take before and after felting measurments, and will update the project notes with those details this weekend....Anyways, I fell a little short on completing the two pairs of Prairie Boots, with Jaime's pair in need of buttons and slipper bottoms and Payton's pair needing a whole second boot. I was able to knit 3/4 of the remaining boot on Christmas Eve, but still fell short of the finishing for either. Jaime's pair was finished today (New Year's Eve), but Payton's are on the top of my list of projects for this weekend.

So for the mini-meltdown part -- after packing up the car on Sunday, I couldn't get the trunk closed. I had been hoping to stop by my friend Rachel's farm while on our way out of town and was running late. Trying to rearrange items in the back so that everything would fit, I was getting angrier by the minute each time I tried to close the trunk that I started slamming it harder with the hopes of it magically latching. Realizing that the locking mechanism wasn't even engaging, I was thoroughly pissed off, so stomped back inside to have my brother (who can fix anything and everything, except his oven) come out and make it all better. After a few tries, it became apparent that even he couldn't seem to immediately figure out what was wrong. Still pretty steamed and convinced that the trunk was way too full, I started grabbing stuff out of the trunk to place in the back seat. Filling one armload, I stomped over to the passenger-side rear door.....tried to fling open the door, but ended up flinging my arm in the air with the door handle in hand!?! Standing there stunned, the noise I heard come from my throat can best be described as that noise that Snoopy makes when annoyed.

Since it was a clean break, Sam has convinced me that we should be able to glue it back on, so I'm going to give that a shot before shelling out the several hundred dollars I'm sure the repair shop will be happy to charge me. We next decided to try going through the back seat so that we could get a good look at what is going on with the locking mechanism, causing the trunk to not latch properly. Still upset about the door handle, Sam and Sylvain stayed outside to fix the trunk. Only Sam will truly know what the problem really was, but whatever it was, he was able to get the trunk latch back into working order.

With the car packed, Sylvain and I were finally on our way. We hung out with Rachel for a couple of hours, then decided to head home. The roads were quite slippery, so our normal 1 1/2 hour drive took an extra hour. Sunday night was a busy one for us since we needed to unpack our gifts, do laundry, and repack our bags for our family holiday ski trip to Shanty Creek.

We had great ski weather during our trip; Chuck and Sylvain took every chance they could to be on the slopes, so were out til 10 pm Monday and Tuesday nights and right up until we left on Wednesday. The ski equipment that I was using was from Sylvain when he was 12 years old. The first day, the boots seemed to fit okay, but the second day, I couldn't bear to put them on, and ended up renting a pair. I hated doing that because I'm such a cheap-skate, but there was no way around it.

We're home now and are getting ready to ring in the New Year. Chuck's in the kitchen, whipping up some snacks; Sylvain's on the PS3, playing a video game with his friends (who are at their respective homes -- isn't the Internet great sometimes?); and as soon as I'm finished with this, I'll join Chuck to "supervise". Happy New Year everyone and I hope that 2010 is a great year for you all!

Friday, December 18, 2009

And, tell me, exactly how does that happen?!?

The tale I have for you today is Sylvain's personal FML story. Let me say first and up-front that I love my son dearly. I am very proud of him and couldn't have a better son. But, honestly, this kid does not have the best luck when it comes to performing in concerts.

2004-05: (Fifth Grade Strings) This first year of his musical adventure included one catastrophe and one close call. Every February, the Okemos Music Patrons host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser during which the school district's different orchestras perform in the school hallways and cafeteria as diners browse artwork displayed in the halls or enjoy the dinner. While on his way into the school, Sylvain tripped and fell on top of his bass, breaking its bridge. Since this event is hosted at the high school, there was not a 1/8 size bass for him to play, so he missed this performance.

During the spring concert that year, his orchestra performed the "Pink Panther" theme song while his teacher wandered onto the stage dressed in a Pink Panther costume. Yes, it's weird, and I don't really know why that particular song was chosen. But, there I was, sitting helplessly in the audience as said teacher sashayed onto the stage tail in hand. While swinging the costume's tail, she quickly turned and knocked Sylvain's bass out of his hands. Gasping, I clutched my chest in wide-eyed terror as I waited for the bass to clatter onto the stage floor. Sylvain managed to grab it with lightening-quick speed; and as I let out my the air blocked in my chest, I heard others around me do the same. I looked over to my friend Sue who was sitting next to me and we both couldn't believe what we had just seen. And, no, his teacher did not even notice.

2009: (Freshman Orchestra) So, flash-forward to Wednesday evening. We arrived at the school early for Sylvain's winter concert. The kids were asked to be there in advance so that yearbook pictures could be taken. While that was occurring in the auditorium, I hung out in the hallway with the other parents and talked. It seemed like it had been a long time since I had seen some of the other parents, since I am no longer as active of a volunteer as I had been. We were finally allowed to come into the auditorium 15 minutes before the concert was to begin. I took my seat and saved one for Chuck. Thinking that it was odd that he wasn't at the school yet, I checked my phone to see if he called (since my phone had long-since been turned to "silent") and saw that there were 3 missed calls.

All were from Sylvain. Phoning him back, he quickly answered and said frantically, "Mom, where are you? " I explained that we were just let into the aud, he replied, "I need you out in the hallway. Hurry."

I found him nonchalantly leaning agains the wall with both hands firmly in his pockets. While his body-language attempted to say "Mr. Cool Cucumber here", his face told a completely different story.

Walking up to him, "What's wrong?" I asked confused as to what the problem could possibly be. "Look," he urgently mumbled and gestured downwards. As he did so, he slighly relaxed his hands and showed me that his pants had come completely apart. "I went to the bathroom and as I was walking out, I hear a rip. PLEASE get me out of here!" he continued.

Mouth agape, it took me a half-second to realize what had happened and to register the pleading look in his eyes. I quickly put my arm around him and ushered him out of the door. Thankfully, I had put my keys in my pants pocket, so we rushed to the car to head home to quickly change his pants. While on the way, he kept repeating, "I don't think that anyone saw me. I don't think that anyone saw me." He then phoned a friend who was in orchestra and asked him to place his bass on stage for him. "Don't worry about where I'm at. Please just do it."

We were back at the school in 20 minutes flat. I dropped him off by the door and left to park the car because by then I had lost my primo parking spot. When I returned to the auditorium, I stood in the back with the late-arriving parents and was able to catch the end of the Freshman Orchestra's last song. Once it was over, I quickly returned to my seat and waved the inquiring look of my friend Karthy with whom I was originally sitting with. Looking on stage for Sylvain, I saw him walking off stage with his bass and along with the other bass players. During the set change, I leaned over to Karthy and told her what had happened. Having two sons, she fully understood and just looked over at me as we both started to laugh at the whole ridiculous situation. I asked her how bad Sylvain looked as he scrambled onto the stage and she said she didn't even notice. And that's with us being seated in the 3rd row on stage right (where the basses usually are placed).

When we finally returned home after the concert, I inspected the pants to see what had happened. The seam came apart from the zipper all the way to the waistband in back. Lucky for Sylvain, his tuxedo jacket covered his rear enough so that he could focus his concern with keeping the front of his pants together. No amount of safety pins were going to help him. Sure, I could have taken the time to search out his teacher, but was afraid of potentially exposing his situation to a crowd of people.

Sylvain also clued me in that he managed to sneak on stage as the Concert Orchestra (sophomores) were bringing out their instruments, so he ended up not even being able to play a single note!

Yes, folks, Sylvain was literally standing in his high school hallway, minutes away from performing in front of a room full of classmates and parents in pants that fully exposed his boxers. For all intents and purposes, his pants had disintegrated into a pair of polyester chaps within a matter of seconds. Isn't this at some point every person's nightmare? And what would you have done?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Oh, holy Hell!

So, to continue with last night's rant: I received a bill today for the replacement of the public library magazines. Seeing how they are only $5 a piece, I'm going to give myself until the end of this weekend to find them; and, if that fails, will put my tail between my legs and pay the replacement fees.

I renewed my search after work this afternoon, and just to give y'all a taste of what I'm up against, check this out: I was looking in a bedroom and a little voice in the back of my head said, "check under the bed, check under the bed." Thinking at best, I'd find one of the missing items, dust-covered, but safe; and at worst, I'd find nothing. Well, here's what I found and, needless to say, none where the books and magazines I've been looking for!

I'm sure that it made total sense to Chuck to do this and I will need to have a discussion with him about why this was necessary when he gets home. But for now, the search continues......

Thursday, December 3, 2009

I'm losing it, folks

I'm writing this out of pure and total frustration. I've been losing things left and right lately. And, no particular offense to my library friends and other bibliophiles, but the hot items for me to lose right now are books and magazines.

I'm on my second notice for an overdue book and stack of magazines from the public library.

I'm throwing in the towel in searching both the home office and the office office for two other books from the campus library and am going to pay for the replacement of these items. (To the tune of at least $75 each, mind you.)

Now, I've spent the past hour tearing the house apart looking for the aforementioned library materials, but also for the next two book club books that I bought early in November. Yep, I can't find those either.

Now, I like to think of myself as a fairly neat person. Sure, if you're looking for dust, you'll likely find it in a few spots; and I have my favorite spot for clutter. But, I'm a far cry from those poor folks on Hoarders!

During this search, just when I got to the absolute peak of frustration, I found the one public library book. But the rest? I truly hope I don't need to reach that same level of anxiety for each item. I will surely be in rough shape by weekend's end, if that's the case.

So, wish me luck and keep a good eye on where you set down your book.

[Oh, yeah, in case you're keeping a count on the clogs: pair #6 are now done; and I'm going to take a few days hiatus to knit-up my coworker's Christmas stockings.....]

Monday, November 30, 2009

Now we're cookin'!

There's a lot to be said about the drive from Cleveland back to Lansing. I have my favorite of the three service plazas that're on the way. My favorite route off of the Turnpike (never going through Maumee). If Chuck drives, I usually get to sit, knit, and look up in surprise as we pass over the border into Michigan. If I drive, I usually fidget with the radio while Chuck sleeps or complains about my driving.

During yesterday's drive home, I wasn't feeling too well with something not sitting quite right that I had eaten the night before. I doubt that it was the massive pork shank from two nights ago, but given that I've avoided meat for a while, I could've been on a little bit of a meat overload. Given my condition, Chuck drove home and I got to knit, and boy did I ever. I was able to start and finish a pair of clogs for my niece Calista. It was knit out of Cascade 220 and Cascade 220 Quatro. Now that I've completed two pairs of clogs using a Quatro yarn as my main body color, I have reservations on how it'll look. Sitting side-by-side with the pair from last week (which was knit using Lamb's Pride and I apologize for not saying so at the time), I'm leaning more towards the verigated rather than plied look for color variation. Sure, that's without actually felting either pair yet, so maybe my mind will change by that time. I have one more set of clog yarn left before a trip to a shop is needed and this one will also be knit using a plied wool from Galway. Once this pair is done, then work on the two pairs of Prairie Boots and two Christmas stockings that are still needed can begin.

Needless to say, I took the day off today to stay home with Sylvain, who spent the day in bed sick as a dog, and amazingly did not do any knitting. The smell of homemade chicken noodle soup is wafting throughout the house, but other than cooking that, I'm not sure really what I accomplished today. Does it help that the chicken stock was made from scratch too? Well, I'm off to bake some bread, then have dinner with my guys and sit-in for Sylvain at his Scout meeting. The boys are starting their planning for a trip to Philmont this summer and there's a lot to be done before the holidays get into full swing.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A quick change in plan

This week has been a very productive holiday week: started and finished 3 projects, watched a couple of movies, ate at a new restaurant, and did a little shopping.

Just as I was putting the finishing on my sister Jaime's pair of felted clogs, I received a call from her wanting to know what Sylvain would like for Christmas. (Unfortunately for us all, he's moved into the moody teen years where he's either very specific on a few big-ticket items and fairly ambivalent on any other gift ideas.) Jaime knew my plans for making the felted clogs, since I needed someone to feed me the correct foot sizes for her family. During our gifting conversation, she mentioned that her and her daughter Payton saw a pair of knit boots in the store that they'd rather have than clogs. I didn't have the heart to tell Jaime that I already had their clogs done. Thank God for Ravelry because I found a pattern for boots that seems within the realm of possibility of completing before Christmas. On the bright side, I have a long list of people that I had planned on making clogs for, so can easily mark someone else off the list who I have yet to knit for.

Not wanting to knit these clogs while spending the holiday with Chuck's family, I brought two charity hat grab-bags that were passed out during the guild's September meeting. These are the other two projects that were (for the most part) completed this weekend. Both hats are disgusting acrylic yarn, so I needed to do something to spiffy up the results. The Dale-style hat still needs a pompom, which Chuck will make for me during the drive home today; and I'll crochet a flower to go onto the fuzzy one using the left-over yellow yarn from the Dale.

Now that those are out of the way, I have yarn on hand for a set of clogs for my niece Calista.

On the movie front: Chuck and I made it to New Moon Tuesday night before leaving town. I know this'll sound weird to a number of folks, but I actually like Celebration Cinema over the Regal theater in Crocker Park (where we usually see movies while in Cleveland). Sure, Celebration is starting to show its age, but I'm far more comfortable there. Okay, so about the movie -- what can I say? Either you're a fan of Twilight or you're not and I think, above anything else, that will dictate whether you enjoy the film or not. This was a significant improvement over the first film and the night we went was probably one of the best nights last week to see it because school was out on Wednesday, so the theater was packed with a ton of teens, with plenty of squealing to go around during all of the appropriate squeal-worthy scenes. Not quite having my fill of Robert Pattinson, I picked up another movie of his to watch in Cleveland: The Haunted Airman. In no way, shape, or form do I recommend this movie. On the bright side, it is only 70 minutes long. On the downside, bringing this stinker to Chuck's parents house to watch validated for them his claim that I will literally watch anything and can't pick out a decent movie to save my life. I also brought Dead Snow with us, but no one else seemed interested in watching a movie about Nazi zombies. I'll have to save that gem for tonight.....Oh, and before I forget, if anyone out there can possibly explain to me what the hell happens in The Life Before Her Eyes, please send me a message because I felt thoroughly confused by the end of that movie.

I finished reading my book club's December book "My Year of Meats" by Ruth Ozeki, which is a minor miracle because I usually finish the books the morning of book club, if at all. (Maybe travelling so much really has its benefits!) Inspired by this book, I've started to back off the amount of meat I eat, and even managed to make it through Thanksgiving without eating turkey (okay, I know that's heresy in some cirlces). Not helping my cause, Chuck and I went to dinner on Friday night to Bar Symon (a restaurant owned by Michael Symon, who is a local celebrity chef); and, as you can guess from the restaurant's logo, it is a mecca for pork.

So, thinking that "pork is possible", I decided to break my meat fast. The place was pretty busy when we arrived and we were told that it would be a 30 to 45 minute wait, so we took seats at the bar in time to order drinks before happy hour was over. The first thing we noticed was that the beer selection was huge, with about 25 or so on tap and another 25 in bottles. The second thing was that the happy hour were very reasonable ($5 martinis, $5 burgers, and $1 fries). Our wait ended up being far shorter than 30 minutes and we were seated at a two-person table that was seated side-by-side with along a wall with other small tables, enabling us to talk with those seated next to us. One couple had the grilled hangar steak and macaroni and cheese, which they both thought were wonderful. Not wanting steak or pasta (which had chicken in it BTW, which is a huge no-no to me; yes, I know that that could be omitted, but still). Another couple had a grilled sausage board (literally a wooden cutting board with pieces of cut sausage, cut pickle, and dollops of three types of mustard) and a pastrami sandwich.

Chuck and I started dinner off with the house chips with "blue cheese fondue", which was the only thing I didn't really care for. The blue cheese dip did not taste much like blue cheese to me and reminded me of poutine. Maybe it's been a long while since I've had that, but I couldn't get it out of my head as we were eating this appetizer. Chuck ordered the pastrami sandwich and I went with the pork shank and opted for polenta as a side. We both enjoyed our dinners and would definitely recommend those to anyone who goes to this restaurant. We were too stuffed for a dessert, but the couple next to us ordered a beer and pretzel sundae, which they seemed to enjoy.

Countering our weekend of over-eating, we took the afternoon off from shopping yesterday to hang out at one of the local metroparks for a nice long walk. The fresh air and stretching my legs was just the break I needed. I'm feeling relaxed, refreshed, and ready for December to begin.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Why am I such an impulsive knitter?

On Monday, I committed to yet another Christmas knitting project. Well, actually, I committed to two. Last year, a coworker of mine brought me a Christmas stocking and asked if I can make a replicate of it for his new daughter-in-law. He emphasized that the Christmas tree motif that was on the original stocking be included in the replicate. The pattern was easy enough and he insisted that I try to make it with yarn in my stash and not go through heroics in matching colors. With that said, I used some wool that I already had and did not worry too much that the colors were more muted than the bright acrylic stocking that was being used as a template. Needless to say, I was able to complete it with no problem and finished with time to spare before Christmas. My coworker seemed very happy with the finished stocking and paid me $40 for it (which I didn't expect). Thinking that was that, I went into this Christmas season with a long list of knitting projects.

This past Monday, the same coworker came into my office with a tote bag in hand. Quietly, he explained that his son and daughter-in-law are due with a baby this December; anticipating that they'll need yet another stocking, he wondered whether I'd be able to make a stocking like I had last year. As he said this, he reached into the bag and brought out 6 other stockings. I was somewhat shocked to see that 5 were matching, with the 6th I had knit last year looking slightly off in color when set side by side with the rest. I never realized that the stocking I made was actually part of a full set. He showed me how each were set into pairs with different motifs -- snowmen, Santas, and the Christmas tree I had worked on last year. Originally, I had thought the color issue wouldn't be a big deal and figured that when they hung their stockings, it wouldn't be likely that the two would be set side by side on the mantle. Now that I saw that the one I made would stand out no matter where it was hung, I started to feel a little bad. I didn't share these thoughts with him, but listened as he asked if I could do two more with yet another generic holiday related motif (of my choosing!?!) but keep with the overall pattern and colorway set by the complete set. One stocking would be for the new baby; the second would be a preemptive stocking that we can duplicate-stitch the name on when the time comes. So, how could I say "no"? Not only am I planning on knitting the stocking for the new baby, but I also feel a need to fix the stocking from last year so that it matches the rest. (The second new stocking can come after the holidays, so am not prioritizing that one at the moment.)

Yes, I'm a little nuts, so am hoping that I can pull it all off. Yesterday, I thumbed through my Dale pattern books and bookmarked graphs for snowflakes and reindeer, but am afraid those might be a little boring. Does anyone have any suggestions for a motif?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wrap me up, baby

First off, I made it back home A-OK. For the most part, my plan to sit in the lower-level seating on the Amtrak worked very well. Yes, I did feel a little guilty for purchasing lower-level seating that is available for the elderly and handicapped, but let me say here and now publicly that I would have gladly given up my seat if it were needed. But my reason for heading in that direction is that it is so peaceful and quiet. Also, I had very interesting knitting discussions with a few of the other ladies seated in that section; conversations I would never have had if seated above with the rowdy crowd.

So, now on about the knitting -- yep, you read the blog title right; I've decided to knit the "Wrap me up" shawl. And to add to the lunacy, I'll say that it's not for me and will be given away as a special gift (dour girl in black with fabulous hair not included). More on this project later, but if you've worked on this and have any suggestions to add, please send 'em. I downloaded the errata today and have been flipping through the Ravelry comments, though I wish there was some way to sort through the yarn yardage. Many of the projects posted used main colors supplemented by contrast yarns, so when you view the "yarn ideas" tab for this project, you'll see a summary of all of the yarns used and how many times they were used; but will still need to go to individual projects to get an idea of what the total yardage was. The pattern suggests 1200 yards (and this was verified by the only other person I know who has made this shawl); but I'm seeing folks with finished patterns post that they're using 1500 or so yards. This leads me to wonder how many Ravelers put down the number of skeins they bought for the project and don't necessarily update the project amount to reflect what they actually used when the project is finished. Hmmm...

Anyways, while I was away, here's what I worked on:

Finished the Bergere de France Trapeze Line Jacket (if following this link, scroll to the bottom). This was knit using the recommended Bergere de France yarn called Magic. I hated this yarn and will never knit with it again. It split terribly easy, which was a total pain. In person, this sweater doesn't look quite like the red blob that the photo makes it out to be.

I started and finished a pair of to-be-felted Christmas clogs for my niece Payton. These were made out of Cascade 220. And, unlike last month's felting debacle, I will make a concerted effort to take before and after measurements so that I have a good idea of what the shrinkage will be for the other pair of Cascade 220 clogs I have waiting in the wings.

I also worked on my pair of "Rick" socks by Cookie A. I've decided to forgo the heel instructions on this pair and do an after-thought heel. It worked so well on my last pair of socks that I've decided to keep using that method for heels until something better comes along. The photo here isn't all too accurate because I'm now down to the toe shaping, and the luster in the yarn (by Yarn Hollow) doesn't come through.

Lastly, all of these projects would have been done sooner, but I had spent the first week of November knitting the "Baby Cable Wrap Sweater" by Lindsay of Yarn Garden. I used Berrocco Vintage Wool and absolutely loved this yarn. It was incredibly soft and warm. This sweater was given away to a visiting scientist from Pakistan who has a 6-month old. I wanted to make this pattern and was warned by Chuck that his relatives that I originally was planning on knitting this for wouldn't be too interested in it because it was out of wool and I haven't been in an acrylic state of mind lately.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Almost sick of traveling

Hi folks. Not sure if many folks check out the tweets in the sidebar as proof that, yep, I'm still kicking. It's not that I haven't had much to say; I just haven't had much time to sit down and type it. I'm in Denver (again) and will be heading home on the train tomorrow night. I really can't wait because I'm a little sick of being away from home; and, now that the holidays are here, I'm just going to have to deal with it.

Flickr doesn't seem to be working on my phone, so am at a loss at the moment for uploading photos, but am working on an alternate way to get photos on-line. My next entry will be about knitting -- I promise -- I've been doing a ton of that lately and have several completed projects. It's been a very long time since I've done an update on movies, so here's what I've watch lately and what I thought (sorry if the theater update is a little out of date):

In theaters:

Inglorious Basterds: I love Quentin Tarantino films and enjoyed this one enough to see it in the theater twice. Christoph Waltz plays a German "Jew hunter" and totally steals this film. Don't get me wrong, it was Brad Pitt that got me into the theater, but do not be surprised if you hear more about Waltz, especially since he's starring as the villain in the Green Hornet movie. Also, was it me? Or did the actress who played the female hero (French actress Melanie Laurent) remind anyone else of Uma Thurman?

Zombieland: This was a fun, fantastic zombie movie that kept me laughing and had one great surprise in it. Sylvain enjoyed this movie so much that every time we talk about going to the movies, his vote goes towards seeing this one again. I haven't taken him though because there are other films I'd like to see and I've been on the road a lot. This movie renewed my appreciation for Woody Harrelson; it also starred Jesse Eisenberg, who was in another movie I recently watched on DVD called Adventureland (this was a so-so coming of age film that also starred Kristen Stewart).

In case you haven't already, I'd definitely recommend seeing the above two films, either in the theater or put them in your movie queue. One film that I cannot recommend at all is The Fourth Kind. Let me say up-front, that I am a firm believer in alien abduction theory and that there is no way that we're alone here in the universe (and that we're the most intelligent beings here, for that matter, so of course any aliens visiting us would have far superior technology). This movie claimed to mix "real footage" with re-enactments based on notes of an Alaskan psychologist who uncovered nightly alien experimentation experienced by her patients while placing them under hypnosis therapy while trying to treat them for sleeping disorders. I'm sorry, and maybe I don't know a whole lot about psychiatry, but this woman (played by Milla Jovovich, whose English has come a very long way since her Fifth Element days) did not seem to be a competent therapist. Maybe those are few and far between in Nome. I also did not find the "real footage" that believable.


I already mentioned Adventureland and can only recommend it if you are on a Kristen Stewart kick. During my train trip to Denver last month, I had an Angelina Jolie movie mini-marathon and watched Playing by Heart and Girl, Interrupted. I like her and would recommend both movies, if you haven't seen either already since they've both been out for quite a while. "Heart" had a lot of other fabulous actors (like Sean Connery, Gillian Anderson, Jon Stewart) that I didn't realize at the time I put the movie in my queue, so was very pleasantly surprised. It was an entertaining ensemble movie where everyone's different plot lines come together at the end. I've seen parts of "Interrupted" here and there on TV, but never watched it start to finish and thought that no one plays a mental patient quite as convincing as Angelina (giving her a well-deserved Oscar). This movie was based on an autobiography about a fellow patient's brief stay in an institution in the mid-1960s and also starred Whoppi Goldberg and an almost-unrecognizable Brittany Murphy (or maybe I've gotten used to her as a little waif).

On that same train trip, I also watched Away we go with John Krasinski and Maya Rudolph as an expectant couple in their early-30s who go on a road trip in search of a good place to dig in roots and raise their new baby. I thought this was an adorable little film and made Chuck watch it again with me when I returned home. He protested because he doesn't particularly care for Maya, and fell asleep about half-way through the movie, but that's his loss. I also loved the soundtrack enough to download a few songs from ITunes; one of which was the Velvet Underground's "Oh, Sweet Nuthin'", which Melanie Lynskey's character (aka Rose from CBS' Two and a Half Men) dances to during a touching scene. I also enjoyed the original songs by Alexi Murdoch and hope to hear more from this singer/song-writer in the future. Other actors making brief appearances in this film include Jeff Daniels, Jim Gaffigan, and Maggie Gyllenhall (who was wonderful as a very liberal-minded college professor).

Sylvain picked up Observe and Report, which I didn't watch, though based on the full-frontal mall-flasher scene I walked in on, I can tell you this movie wouldn't be for me, so I can't give it a good review even if I were to sit through the whole thing.

On the train ride out, I watched The Brothers Bloom and A Scanner Darkly. I tend to like Rachel Weisz, Adrian Brody, and Mark Ruffalo, but this movie left me feeling "ehhh." It was entertaining to watch during the train ride, but I was left wondering if I would have finished watching it had I been at home with other things to do. This movie was about two con-artist brothers who are out to play their last swindle on an air-headed heiress played by Weisz. Robbie Coltrane was also in it as another bit-player in the Brother's cons and it was good to see him in a part where he can play is true size, rather than as a character that is computer enhanced to be overly huge -- his role as Hagrid in the Harry Potter films.

I may have already posted about Darkly before, so I apologize if I'm repeating myself, but I loved this movie the first time around and rented it again to enjoy it during the long, boring ride. This movie is shot in an animation style that isn't for everyone; and I highly recommend reading the book by Philip K. Dick before watching; you'll appreciate the movie that much more. This is a near-future sci-fi story about a deep-undercover cop trying to track back through a local supply chain for a highly-addictive drug called "Substance D". While reading the book and watching the movie, I couldn't help but think about how this closely parallels meth and have lingering questions about whether Donna (played by Winona Ryder) was also an agent or just an informant and whether the "New Path" treatment and recovery centers are also the drug suppliers. This movie stars Keanu Reeves, Robert Downey Jr., Woody Harrelson, and Rory Cochrane, and all do an excellent job in their parts.

For the train ride home, I have The Life Before Her Eyes, a thriller with Uma Thurman and Evan Rachel Wood that I haven't seen before. And, if that doesn't fulfill my movie needs, I'll probably watch Darkly again. Oh, and in case you're a Facebook friend or have been following my tweets -- I'm planning on seeing New Moon this weekend and (hopefully) forgo large crowds.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Live from Denver

First off, dear friends, please let me preface this entry by saying the following:
1) I'm posting from my Blackberry, so my typing will be a bit off & photos & links will be posted when I make my way to a "real" computer;

2) I had dinner at the Wyncoop Brewery across the street from the Denver train station. Not being a seasoned beer drinker, I ordered the sampler, which ended up being 9 3-oz samplings (and, yes, I tried the ancho chile beer, but couldn't stomach it and moved on to the next beer sample). Again, keep in mind that I'm not a beer drinker;

and 3) I'm receiving death stares from a very uppity lady at the other end of the bench we're sharing and I can only imagine what's going thru her mind since I'm travelling with an older co-worker, am a little tipsy, and am probably looking quite schlubby. It really doesn't help that the Denver train station has to be the single-most cavernous building that I've sat in, so my laugh and voice is carrying quite roundly. And we all know how quiet I am when tipsy....And, with it being Halloween, there are some interesting people coming through the station.

So, I've been in Denver this week for a statistics class for work (frequency analysis of flood data, if anyone is so inclined). I haven't had any crazy incidents lately, so I should've known that I was due. And since I've prefaced the crap out of this entry already, let me say up-front that I may not particularly be a good driver.

As part of this trip, I happened to rent a Dodge Avenger from Enterprise. This experience has taught me to never in a million years buy a Dodge. It was the worst piece of crap vehicle. It had absolutely had Zero pick-up. The turning signals were spastic and would not shut off without nearly breaking off the control lever -- making other drivers believe that I was a 90 year old, senile driver. Not only did Enterprise rent me a car with bald tires (that had only 40K miles on it), but also a car whose brake warning light came on by Wednesday. For anyone who hasn't watched the news this week: Denver received just over a foot of snow between Tuesday evening and Thursday morning. The highways to Kansas and Wyoming were closed as late as this morning and eastern Colorado was still under a blizzard warning. AND on top of the mechanical issues, get this -- we arrived in Denver on Sunday morning; by Monday afternoon, Enterprise called to let me know that they had sold the car I was driving and needed to swap out vehicles with me. ("WTF, man!") Needless to say, that would have worked well with getting a better car, but we never connected between my work schedule and their business hours. But, really, how can the company sell my vehicle? Not only that, but to think that it's good business for them to have employees bring out a new vehicle for me and not wait until I brought it back on Friday!

Anyways, I need to cut this short because my very vocal Democratic co-worker has managed to find the lone (also very vocal) Republican in the station and they are getting into a rapidly heated discussion (okay, borderline argument). More to come soon....

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In an extreme moment of weakness

There are times when I have severe trouble sleeping. Sure, I may go to bed and actually fall asleep the way normal people do; but, for one reason or another, I find myself waking in the middle of the night (anywhere between 2 and 4 am) and unable to fall back asleep. Sometimes, I force myself to remain in bed, tossing and turning until my alarm goes off at 5:30 (then, inevitably, end up not wanting to get up at that time and lounge some more). Other times, I actually get up, flip on the TV, and knit.

While in Traverse City last week, I ended up having a night of fitful sleep and ended up calling it quits with the Sand Man. Sitting in bed and with knitting in hand, I started flipping through the channels. And there I saw it -- the Cricut Expression infomercial. I was immediately sucked-in and entranced by the idea that I could actually make my own cards en masse. Sure, I've been going to Stamp Camp with Erin once a month or so. But, this....this was on a completely different level.

Before I knew it, I had the phone in one hand, credit card in the other. And, still a week later, I haven't snapped out of it. I returned to my office today after a couple of days in Minneapolis to find a rather large box containing my new toy already waiting for me in my office. So, after Sylvain's last football game tonight, I could hardly wait to rush home and check it out. The limited playing around I've done has proven that my zeal is well founded, so now I'm on the hunt on Overstock and Ebay in search of design cartidge deals. Other than the expense of the original machine, I found that the cartridges can be quite pricey at $60 or more a piece.

For now, I'm quite happy with this purchase. Please help me validate this gross impulse purchase -- if anyone needs cards made, just stop on by.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A tale of two wools

Yes, folks, I'm still alive. Things have been pretty crazy around here -- October is a month of traveling for me, which I originally thought would be a good thing since I figured that I'd spend my evenings bored to pieces in a hotel in one town or another and have plenty of time to update the blog, check e-mail, and whatnot. I just wrapped up my first trip out of three and found myself pretty listless in the evenings. I even started doing some of my exercise routine to try to pump myself up to no avail. (Hey! Since I went through the actual effort of packing my workout bands, I might as well use 'em, right?)

So, with all of my traveling that's planned, I also thought that I'd have all kinds of time to knit. And with Christmas right around the corner and with plenty of down-time in the airport or on the train ahead of me, I wanted to make sure I had a good plan of attack by having plenty of projects on hand. For Christmas, I've decided to knit several pairs of the FiberTrends felted clogs. Okay, so when I said several, I mean about 15 or so pairs.

If you're a sane person, you're probably shaking your head at me right now; but no worries -- before fully committing to this chore, I talked to a couple of friends who have used this pattern in the past for gifts ("piece 'o cake, but make sure you're paying close attention when working the sole") and did a trial run by knitting a pair for Chuck and a pair for Sylvain. I started with the presumption that both needed approximately the same sized pair, so went with the directions for a Men's size 11. Chuck's was knit using Galway (blue and grey) and Sylvain's was out of Lamb's Pride (red and brown). Each pair took me about three days to knit -- which is fantastic and fit right in with my travel plans. If one or two pairs could be completed each trip, then getting all 15 or so done by Christmas will be a snap!

Unfortunately for me, I made several rookie mistakes when I was ready to felt. First, I did not measure the unfelted sizes of either so that I could get an idea of how much each yarn shrank compared to the time they spent in the washer. I also failed to photograph the two unfelted pairs together for visual comparison, so you'll have to take my word on it when I tell you that they were really both the same size before tossing both pairs into the washer.

Mistake #2 was that I placed each pair into a separate lingerie bag, then tossed them into the same wash -- so both pairs had the same heat and same amount of agitation. OK, experienced felters -- do you see where I'm going with this? I checked the washer once and only looked at Sylvain's pair because I'm a lazy ass and didn't feel like fishing out Chuck's pair from the depths of the washer to see how it was doing. Sylvain's pair needed to go a little longer, and that was good enough for me.

Needless to say, Sylvain's pair fits Chuck great and Chuck's pair fits me perfectly. Nuts! I didn't want to knit a pair for me yet, so will likely give these to my brother's mother-in-law Ruth, since I've been assured that she's the same shoe size as me.

Also, a few of you may have seen me at Cheanne's knit-in stressing over whether to resew the sole on one of Chuck's slippers since I did each a different way and they looked drastically different to my eye. Yep, the anal-retentivenss in me took over, so I tore out the outer sole and sewed it to match the first slipper.

After this felting debacle, the wind was taken somewhat out of my sails. For this week's trip to a conference in Traverse City, I decided to focus on the Bergere de France Trapeze Line Jacket that I also had on the needles. I was able to complete the right front and left sleeve, so now only have the right sleeve, collar, and seaming the pieces together left to do. Once this sweater is done, I'll be ready to begin another pair of clogs for each of my nieces using some Cascade 220 that's waiting in the wings. The teal colored pair will be for Payton and the purple pair will be for Calista.

My next trip is this week, where I'll be spending a couple of days in Minneapolis. Yarn for Payton's clogs are wound and ready to go, so keep your fingers crossed for me and hopefully my next entry will feature a finished sweater and a pair of unfelted teal clogs....

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The literal pain in my ass

I had quite the scare this week, and in some ways, my fears have not been fully addressed. Last July, I was quite sick with the flu and like I mentioned then, Chuck had taken me to the doctor's office to receive two shots that seemed to clear things right up. The shots were of Toradol and Phenergan. I only know the names of these drugs because I had the wherewithal to insist that the nurse practitioner write them down for me, knowing that I was in no shape to remember these things myself and Chuck wouldn't consider this stuff important enough to place into memory. At the time, I was told that the Toradol was to battle the flu symptoms and Phenergan was to help with nausea typically caused by Toradol. Let me say here and now: I know very little about prescription drugs and have little interest in taking them. That is part of the reason why I patron my doctor: she tends to go for more homeopathic approach to problems. Unfortunately, that is part of my current dilemma.

The shots in July were administered, I guess, on each of my upper gluteus. Over the past month, I've felt an on-and-off soreness at the location of the right-sided shot; and, more recently, have felt a small lump (dime/nickel-sized) form there too. Being totally freaked out, I decided to schedule an appointment and insisted on seeing the doctor for the appointment. The earliest I could get in with her was this past Friday. I also insisted that Chuck go with me just in case it was something that concerned her too. Needless to say, I showed her where the lump was, and using the same technique as with a self-breast exam, she found the lump also (so there Chuck, it really wasn't all in my head). She went on to tell me about how some people can react poorly to physical act of receiving a shot, and that is what she believes is going on. Her "prescription" was to (and in this order):
  1. Apply a warm rice sock to the lump
  2. Massage the lump area nightly
  3. Rest in a hot tub
  4. Take an Epsom salt bath
I left her office not fully satisfied, but didn't want to at least give her advice a chance. She is the medical professional in the room, right? So, I'm going to try these remedies for a week or two. (Well, actually, I'm going to skip #3 because I don't happen to have a hot tub handy and have gotten nauseated every time I've sat in one.) But, seriously, she can bet that if nothing is happening over that time period, I'll be back in her office and insisting on having a little more of an intensive analysis done. Being the worrier that I am, I've immediately thought of the worst; so, I'm sharing this with you now so that you can side with Chuck and tell me that I'm worrying over nothing.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Canoeing? Check! Knitting? Check? Paint the house? Still to do...

Okay, so maybe listening to "If Love is a Red Dress" isn't really putting me in the right mood to blog at the moment, but that song will be over soon enough and I'll be on the surf-rock that I'm in the mood to listen to from the Pulp Fiction soundtrack (careful if clicking this link at the starts out just like the soundtrack with the cafe robbery scene & lots of yelling and f-bombs). There, now it's better as the tracks have changed; but as far as house painting is concerned, we're completely stalled at the moment. We've been pretty busy and there's some prep work needed to be done, particularly with out-right replacing some of the worn siding. Considering that Chuck's still a little steamed at me b/c I misunderstood him earlier this evening over whether or not he was picking up Sylvain or heading to a movie, I guess I'll wait 'til tomorrow to mention that I found a carpenter who might be able to replace the questionable pieces we've been eyeballing. He doesn't care for hiring someone, but c'mon. We're getting into Year 2 with this little project. And especially since he's been dragging his heels on this part. I mean, since he's been unsuccessful in finding siding that matches the original. (I'll let you choose which story you're likely to believe.)

I'm happy to report that Sylvain did a fabulous job of kayaking the Manistee solo this weekend. I'm afraid now that he'll never willingly get into a canoe or tandem kayak with Chuck or I again.

Also over the weekend, I was able to start and complete Scarf #1 for the Spartan vs Wolverine Knitting Challenge 2009 between Woven Art and Knit-A-Round. I followed the New Wave pattern from Knitting New Scarves by Lynne Barr. I love this book and hope to eventually make every scarf in it. Yes, even the sea anemone looking one. Next up, I'm thinking of making another kids' scarf but making it generic stockingnette pattern that's wider at the ends, has little pockets along the front, and filling the pockets with little animals from Amigurumi Knits. Worth the work or not?

Lastly, here are some photos of my Shop Hop loot. I'm proud to say that all are Christmas presents, so stay tuned to see these as we progress into the holidays...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Win some, lose some

So, Chuck's driving with Sylvain sitting shot-gun and me in the back seat of my car. Not that I'm a control freak or anything, but it's pretty damned scary sitting back here as we're tearing down the highway towards Amy's family cabin in Manton. It's our annual canoeing get together; and this year, Sylvain gets to kayak solo.

Anyways, we just switched up the driving since I've come down with a pretty annoying cold and am beginning to feel pretty tired.

I took the day off of work today with the hopes of getting my house cleaned and ready in anticipation of hosting knitting this Tuesday. I'm certain that when we get home from canoeing, cleaning will be the last thing I'd want to do, so had wanted to get that out of the way.

Yes, I was sure to take photos of all of my Shop Hop loot, but neglected to upload the pics before leaving on our trip. This is because, unfortunately for me, I decided that I'd start off with sorting my yarn stash. Six and a half hours later, I had a decent-looking yarn room with my yarn organized by fiber and project status.

So, let's explore this one for a minute.

I covered my living room with yarn, notions, patterns, and (literal) knit-knacks. Sarah can vouch for this as mid-way thru the sorting, she was very kind to stop by with her knittty-knoddy that I borrowed (which, by the way, was a tremendous help!). Wool took over the large couch; acrylic, kits, and UFOs on the second couch; sock yarn mounded on the ottoman; cottons lined the floor in front of the fireplace; and novelty yarn perched on an end-table.

The up-side of this whole process: found 5 pairs (!) of needles and my missing hank of Dream in Color mentioned in previous day and some wonderful Shu Bui yarn I totally forgot I had purchased from Knit/Purl in Oregon.

And since there's a down-side wherever there's an up-side: my house is no cleaner than before I started. In fact, one could validly argue that it's significantly worse. Needless to say, if you're over Tuesday and notice an errant dust bunny, please turn a blind eye. I'd gladly distract you my newly organized yarn stash.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Hi folks. Still here. If you've seen me lately, yes, I've been somewhat a frazzled mess. School started last week for Sylvain. What should have been a fun and exciting time was somewhat sober due to the death in a car accident of one of the scouts in Sylvain's troop. One of the saddest parts of this whole thing is that his parents are wonderful people and they've done everything right, but still, you can only teach your children so much. Yes, he caused the accident, and really the only thing they could have done to prevent it was to have kept him home all of the time, but what life is that for a teen? And at what point do you trust them to make judgements for themselves? This January, Sylvain will be 14 years and 9 months -- the age at which he can start Driver's Education in Michigan. Keep that in mind the next time you're stuck in traffic and think the driver in the next car over is looking a little young. Chances are, they are pretty damned young.

But, seriously, folks. I just got home from our first Guild meeting of the year and was hoping to spend some quality time on the computer, updating this blog, clearing out e-mail, and (once again) getting rid of the prostitutes that are following me on Twitter (Do I really need a spread-eagle crotch-shot? Apparently, something in my tweets led this person to follow me...), BUT my basement (where the home office is) stinks. Sorry...actually it's pretty darned rank and I think something died somewhere in here. I know that Chuck had put out some mouse traps because our first year here, we had an issue with them in the basement...but what could it possibly be now? And where? I phoned Chuck to let him know he has quite the task to take care of when he returns from his trip tomorrow; during this conversation, he thought to let me know that he found the outdoor vent to our dryer was off and asked if I had anything to do with that. Of course, I didn't, so now am wondering if something clawed that off, then climbed down the vent and died. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday doing laundry, so if something did crawl down there and died, it's pretty well cooked. Well, it's quite a possibility to ponder....

Now that I've totally grossed you out. I do have a dilemma to share. At tonight's meeting, Erin announced that part of this year's Guild program will be a knitting exchange. Each participating knitter will turn in yarn for a project that will be exchanged for someone else's project yarn. The recipient determines what the exchange item will be, knit it up, and return it during the May meeting. Immediately, I thought of some green Dream in Color yarn that I had. So, once I got home, I pulled it out (mostly to make sure it wasn't dusty), but found that my memory was false -- I was thinking that I had two or three hanks, but only have one.

I don't think there's much one can do with only 250 yards, so I turned to my stash and immediately saw two left-over balls of Interlacements yarn that were used for shawls given to Chuck's mom and sister Debbie last Christmas, as well as the remainder ball of silk used in a woven scarf from last spring (in yellow). The challenge here is that I know what the fibers are, but don't know the yardage on any of them. How well would it work out for weighing it? Does anyone know if that would be a reasonable enough estimate for someone working an exchange to go by? If so, then I'd mix one of the Interlacement balls with the silk, but which to choose?

These are questions that I'm opening up for you guys to help me decide. Please let me know when you see me in person, shoot me a message (either e-mail, FB, or Ravelry), or leave a comment....Sure, it's a month away, but I'm going to miss the meeting due to an orchestra concert. Yes, I must've missed the message from the school asking for my approval before setting the schedule. Maybe that's why the schedule is still in "partial" state....

Before I'm completely overcome with the stench, I did want to share my finished objects and make mention of Lisa's pattern and article on Knitty Spin. The Kindly Sheep mittens are the first test-knit pattern that I did for her way back in May. I don't quite know where my mittens are at this particular moment, and will need to root around in the yarn room to pull them out for photos. I'll be sure to do that soon (maybe even on Friday). The pattern also has a fun article titled "Seeking a Kindly Shetland Sheep", so be sure to check that out too....

Also, I'd like to thank Sarah for pointing out that the after-thought heels on my Vilai socks did not match, so on Labor Day, I labored by tearing out and reknitting both heels so that they do match. I'm very happy that I did that as the pair looks much better (though I couldn't tell the difference between the two heels on foot).

Lastly, in keeping with my tradition of making sweaters that don't fit me well: I blocked the Long-wrap cardigan that Nancy designed. The sweater is pretty and the yarn feels wonderful. Unfortunately for me, the yarn grew by at least 6 inches on the blocking board, and the chest does not fit around me. I don't know what I'm thinking when I start these projects, but I always seem to pick the wrong size for myself. Since the pattern is worked top down, right now I'm inclined to tear out from the bottom up and reknit from the bottom of the armhole back down with drastic increases along the front band so that it at least wraps somewhat close to the front of my chest. Nancy, if you're reading this, it's not you, it's me. I'm retarded. I can't even take a decent photo.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Knitting so much that my hand actually hurt while typing today

I learned the hard way today that entering data after a weekend of some hard-core knitting is a good way to make my hands down-right sore! But, boy, was it a productive weekend. Sure, I did the necessary cleaning and other chores; other than that, I spent this weekend blissfully at home working on a number of projects. I escaped the house only a couple of times and one of my trips was with Chuck to the Okemos Farmer's Market. That place sure had changed since my last trip there a couple of years ago -- there was so many more vendors and a ton of people milling about. On the one hand, it was good to see so many folks there to support the farmer's market; on the other hand, I had new respsect for Chuck who usually made the trip solo. I hate crowds, so as my reward, Chuck bought me a wonderful bouquet of flowers. What you see here is only a third of the bunch, with the other thirds occupying vases on our sitting-room mantle and in my bathroom. These definitely cheer up our house.

Now, on to the knitting....

Nancy's Long-wrap Cardigan:

While it was a productive weekend, let me not give you the impression that it was a completely successful weekend. I finished the long-wrap cardigan that Nancy had designed, but learned a very valuable lesson about blocking and not checking in on how thing's're going. I hand-washed the sweater and marveled at how wonderfully soft it was as it was being placed onto my wooly board last Wednesday evening. Unfortunately for me, I treated this poor sweater like a Ronco Rotisserie and decided to "set it and forget it". When I returned to check on this sweater Friday, it had sagged in length to the point where when I put it on, it went clear to my knees. Now, I know that those types of sweaters are somewhat stylish for gals with the right physique, but trust me when I tell you that I am not one of those women. After showing it to Nancy on Friday (during which, she was far more kind than I deserved), we laid out two options: one--was to give it a go in the washer to see if it would shrink up some, or two--tear out several inches and re-do the bottom border. Nancy had given me three hanks of Kona to use for this sweater, but I only needed one and a half. I gave her back the unused hank, but she suggested that I try out the shrinking on a large swatch, so I still have the remaining half hank. Thinking about it some more, the yarn is a superwash, so I'm not entirely convinced that the washer approach will do much; besides, I'm happy with its circumference and don't see how I could prevent losing size in both directions without wet-felting it by hand. Needless to say, this sweater is now torn back to where I need it to be to restart the border.

Vilai socks:

I really need to give my friend Rachel from my8kidsmom a big hug the next time I see her because her suggestion of me doing a Cookie A sock pattern has really worked out for me. I finished and blocked sock #1 and am working on its mate, which is going so much faster than the first sock. And, I also put Sylvain to work making me a pair of wire sock blockers. Even though he wouldn't admit it, deep down, I think he enjoyed contributing something to this effort.

Trapeze-line jacket:

I also got a good start on the Trapeze-line jacket by Bergere de France. I hope that this is the sweater project that breaks my streak of making sweaters that don't fit me. I'm a little worried because this sweater is curling at the bottom already, but am trying not to judge it too early.

Last, but not least -- a finished Woven Market bag:

Yep, you read that right -- I finally finished my Woven Market bag. Sorry, Nancy, if you're reading this because I just plain couldn't get my act together to write-up the pattern and submit it to the "I made it on my Schacht" contest. Irene graciously gave me some fun fabric for the liner; and both Chuck and Sylvain had scattered by the time I was ready to sew in the lining, so I didn't have anyone to help by taking a photo of me working on this bag (which was one of the contest requirements). Besides, I'm sure they wanted photos of the project on the loom rather than during the very last of the finishing. Who knows, there's always next year, right? At any rate, I am the absolute worst seamstress, so if you happen to see this bag up close and personal, I'll admit here and now that I had cut the fabric wrong, ending up with the bag being too wide for the fabric, and ending up fudging the seam around the top. I don't expect that most people would ever notice if the bag is seen in passing, so that's one of the reasons I'm not letting it get to me so much.

At the movies and on the tube:
It seems like forever since I've given an update on my movie and t.v. while my memory still holds:

Finished watching Seasons 1 of Dead Like Me and True Blood. I really enjoyed them both, and am left wondering why Season 2 of Dead isn't yet available. I can't wait 'til Season 2 of True Blood is available, but that'll be quite a while since it hasn't even wrapped on HBO yet.

The Haunting in Connecticut: To be fair, I didn't finish watching this movie, so my opinion may be a little skewed. But, c'mon, I was getting downright bored, which is really sad because I usually knit while watching movies. I didn't find this scary at all.

I Love You, Man: I'm not really a Paul Rudd fan, and don't really care for the guy-humor types of movies, but rented this one from the Blockbuster store for Chuck and ended up liking it. I like Jason Segel and think that he contributed a lot to my enjoyment of this movie.

District 9: I loved this movie and enjoyed it start to finish. It really is too bad that more sci-fi movies like this aren't made. Yes, it's incredibly violent, and that was somewhat expected, but, really, anyone that wants a calm alien movie should go see Contact.

Inglorious Basterds: Brad Pitt and Quentin Tarantino, need I say more? Unlike District 9, Chuck and I saw this at the theater while Sylvain was at a sleep-over; we didn't see it opening weekend because I didn't want to take him to this movie since I knew that the violence would be over the top and the language unpredictable. I was very glad that we made that decision since some of the scenes were true to the preview where Pitt's Lt. Aldo Raine declares that every one of his men owes him 100 scalps and he definitely gets 'em. Also, I totally agree with every reviewer that says that co-star Christoph Waltz steals every scene he's in.

War: I'm not entirely sure what it is about Jason Statham movies that I find so entertaining, but I guess whenever I'm in the mood for a shoot 'em up/explosion/hand to hand combat movie, his seem to fulfill that void, then I'm good for a long while. I wouldn't call this a good movie, but it was something the three of us could agree on to watch Saturday night, and it was free since there's a Showtime on DirectTV promotion going on for the next two months....oh, and the jury is still out on Jet Li.

I also re-watched The Golden Compass, 21 Grams, and Conan the Destroyer. All three left me in wonderment -- for Compass, I wondered what was going on with The Subtle Knife, which was *supposed* to come out this year. I really hope they make all three movies. If you follow the link above, you'll head over to a page with a fan-made trailer for the second movie. The first minute of the trailer had me in awe as to where this fan could have possibly gotten a hold of such great footage to splice together into a trailer. The second minute made me feel for them in that they should have stopped after the first minute of their trailer. Regardless, I hope they don't wait too long because they'll have to recast the kids as they'll be too old for their parts. For 21 Grams, I was left pretty damned depressed and happy that my life isn't nearly as bad as anything those characters faced....Ever....And for Conan: seeing Wilt the Stilt standing next to Ahhh-nold made me realize just what a beast that man is and left me wondering why more basketball players aren't recruited to act in movies in which freakishly large men are needed, like alien or fantasy movies.

Well, I have to go. Sylvain's been nagging me off and on for the past hour that his crops are dying on Facebook....

Monday, August 24, 2009

Just briefly

Yep, it's been just over a year at blogging, so I decided that it should have a new look.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Decisions, decisions

Spurned by the discovery that weaving projects can now be entered onto Ravelry, I felt a tremendous need to finish my woven market bag that I had worked on way back in April. This bag was woven out of Louet Euroflax Geneva for the warp and some of Nancy's hand-dyed Kona superwash wool for the weft. The patterning included a band of plain weave with leno for the bag body (which, BTW, is pronounced "lee-no", not like that big-chinned late-night doofus who I can't believe now has his own prime-time show).

So, last night, while waiting for Sylvain to return home on the team bus from his scrimage, I pulled out the sewing machine and got to work. I had started seaming up the sides by hand, but that was just plain taking too long. Within a short period of time, I had both sides seamed and the strap sewn in place.

The decision I'm struggling with now is what fabric to line it with. I really don't want to purchase new fabric and have some satin on hand, but am unsure if that is the right fabric for this project. Given the open weave of leno, I'm wondering how well the satin will hold up. If it'll be fine, then decision comes down to using either the purple or salmon colored fabric that I already have. If its not the right fabric, then what? Anyone have any fabric or color suggestions? If I go with a different fabric, should I wash it first? In the past, I've melded the fabric to a piece of interfacing and didn't bother to wash it. I don't plan to use interfacing for this project, so am a little unsure on how the satil will hold up on its own...

Okay, enough weaving talk. It's been a while since I've commented on crazy people or situations that've gone on around me, and yesterday, I saw something that made me actually clap with joy. Chuck and I took a different route home from the football scrimage in St. Johns by staying on Business 27 into town. I must've missed the turn for Lake Lansing Road, so just took Saginaw St. to Grand River. While stopped at the intersection of Grand River and Abbott, there were 2 pairs of E.L.P.D. officers on bikes riding up and down the lanes of stopped cars. One officer rode up to the car next to us and asked the driver to pull over onto Abbott Road on campus. This was at 7 pm and the only thing I could think of is that maybe the driver wasn't wearing their seatbelt. Their car was just a little bit ahead of ours, so I couldn't see into the front seats to know whether my guess was correct. Thinking that I'm right-on made me quite happy. Getting caught without your seatbelt on is such a stupid way to earn a ticket. Sure, they had Pennsylvania plates, but are there any states where seatbelt use is optional? Wearing a seatbelt has long been a pet peeve of mine and I've been known to not start driving until everyone in the car is buckled up. Not to sound like a total kill-joy, but I can't think of anyone that's worth me getting ticketed over.