Thursday, January 31, 2008

Family & Friends

Cherish your human connections: your relationships with friends and family. - Joseph Brodsky

Today is the little man's birthday. He is now twelve and wanted to stay home from school...NO! He did give it a hell of an effort though and if he keeps this up I see an Academy Award in his future!

He screamed for at least the first six months of his life and yes I mean screamed. The day after he was born when they took me down to have my tubes tied, one of the nurses carried him around the whole time trying to calm him- it didn't work. Had him checked but no reason for it...just he screamed. I would go to my mom's during the day and she would eventually get tired of hearing it and say "You can go home now!" The older kids didn't want anything to do with him because he did not shut up! He didn't sleep much either. The more everyone wanted to get away from him the more I cuddled him. He is still my cuddler but will deny that vehemently in front of anyone other than family, but will admit he is spoiled.

This week has had it's ups and downs. And when I say "downs" I mean falling down. Gravity and I have been having a battle and gravity is winning. Tuesday I slipped on the ice going to the garage and wretched my back. Wednesday I slipped in the mud while doing the chickens and ducks and hurt my right shoulder. In typical "it only hurts when I do this" it hurts only when I shrugmy shoulder. All made better by the ups...

Friends are relatives you make for yourself. - Eustache Deschamps

Tuesday night we invited a friend and ex-neighbor (we drove her crazy, she had to move) over for dinner. We had it at Mom's so she could be involved. After dinner several other friends came over and Mom took out some yarn and started to teach one of them to crochet. In the every day this may not seem significant but here it is huge. Mom's hands were raw just a short time ago and it was hard for her to even get dressed as she couldn't even snap a snap. She was exhausted at the end of the night but was so happy. It was truly an excellent night.

Tuesday and Wednesday I was able to work on something just for me. I bought the Interweave Knit Holiday edition just so I could have the pattern for the teddy bear. I love teddy bears, the older raggy well loved ones are the best! I did however keep putting it off because it has lots of little pieces (yuck) and you have to sew it together (2X yuck). As of right now he looks like this...

I have named him Oliver! He doesn't look like much right now but wait until this weekend when I go get stuffing. I am going to start sewing him up today which is why the little man could not stay home. I will need peace and quiet, total concentration and I will probably say lots of dirty words...and I don't mean mud!

And on another up note, after I finished pinning Oliver down I gave my back a stretch by going into the greenhouse and doing some cleanup. It was so nice in there I had to take the jacket off and work in my t-shirt. I eventually had to open a vent before I roasted. I had to sort thru alot of boxes of gardeing supplies from my aunt's house and after 2 hours I think I made a considerably large dent in it. My seed order is complete and I will be placing orders on Saturday.

The pi afghan is now on bigger needles and when I need a break from/give up trying to sew Oliver together Iwill have that to fall back on. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 28, 2008


Life beats down and crushes the soul and art reminds you that you have one. ~Stella Adler

Yesterday I received a note in my mail box that I had to go to the post office to pick up a package. After driving mom into town this a.m. for an MRI and breakfast out, we stopped to pick it up. This is what they handed me, a beautiful painted box….
With this label.
It is addressed to my maiden name. If you look in the box, it is empty but oddly enough it did give me strength which I will explain in a minute. First let me say I went on the internet to research the artist Franck deLas Mercedes, who can be found here… . This is part of his “Box Series” of which you can read more about here at … .

The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. ~Aristotle

So why does this empty box evoke a feeling of strength? Well I guess it is that someone (whom I don’t know as of yet) took the time to request this, took the time to think of me, and this artist so generously gives of his time and talent to others, which is pretty awesome all the way around. What a unique way to bring your art to people and have it touch them on such a personal level. The artist’s website states the boxes are “ to provoke thought, to make people reconsider their ability to influence change, communicate through art and make art accessible to people from all walks of life.”

I have placed the box on top of the computer. Each morning after the kids leave for school, I take my coffee and go sit there. Now along with the news, emails etc. I will get a daily dose of strength. Right now things seem to be on an upward swing here at Happy Acres but I am not delusional enough to think it will stay that way and I am going to need that daily dose, till then I will keep putting it in reserves. And as an added bonus the colors will brighten any mood.
When I first saw the box I was reminded of back in the 70's when I was in elementary school. Our art teacher came in with some sheets of construction paper that looked like this box. I loved that paper. I remember I took one sheet home and did bubble letters of my sisters name from it and I think I pasted them on a solid colored sheet and sent it to her in college. She called saying her room mate JoAnn wanted one also and boy was I proud! How strange the memories one can dredge up over the simplest things.

Oddly enough that was not the only art to enter my life recently. My sister had bought a puzzle for my mother to do. Now that her hands are healing we made fast work of said puzzle. We proceeded to make fast work of a smaller one so I went and bought a 2000 piece puzzle of Van Gogh’s Starry Night.
It is #1 daughter’s favorite painting. My mother asked if I was masochistic! This one will not be made fast work of!

My “art” if it can be called that was the Koolhaas which as of Saturday became an FO! And I might add a mistake free FO. This picture more accurately shows the color.As is my luck I frogged it on 1/24 and on 1/25 Knitting Daily had an article called Ripping Back Without Ripping Your Hair Out! Oh well….next time I will know.

Now I am off to make Mom and the man creamy French onion soup with homemade croutons (don’t have French bread) and Gruyere cheese which should make them happy. And I get to start another knitting project which makes me happy.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Order of Frog, Well Done.

"May you have the hindsight to know where you've been, The foresight to know where you are going, And the insight to know when you have gone too far"~Irish Blessing
Hindsight...running my mouth saying I was going to be a better knitter and not ignore mistakes the frog pond, just didn't expect the pond to be so large
Insight...opened mouth inserted foot, messed with the knitting gods, jinxed myself, tempted fate

Last night I ran my mouth about what I had to do to become a fearless better knitter. I posted, then grabbed my knitting and went to watch American Idol. I no sooner sat down with my knitting when I saw a mistake. I must have stopped mid row and when I picked it back up started using another rows instructions. So 3/4 of the Koolhaas looked great but that last 1/4 looked messed up as it threw everything off and it was several rows down. Seeing as I was only steps away from the soapbox I had used to post the last post, I decided I would frog back to fix that mistake. Now it has been mentioned that I do not frog back often so I just pulled the circular needle out and grabbed hold of the yarn and pulled.

Did I mention this is the Koolhaas? Do you know you use a cable needle every other row? Well I ripped and then I realized I no longer knew where my first stitch was or what row I was on. I thought about futzing around and trying to figure it out but decided that would p*ss me off even more and I would eventually end up right here...
Yup, I frogged the whole hat down to the ribbling. I got the stitches back on the circ, did two rows and then called it a night.
So lessons learned...know what the hell you are doing....mark your first stitch before you rip...count the rows your ripping so you know what row to start on....shut your flapping mouth before it gets you in more trouble!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Fearless Knitting

“Attempt the impossible in order to improve your work.” Bette Davis

Knitting Daily had a post that asked “Was the knitting I did the kind of knitting I REALLY wanted to do? Was I happy with the finished projects? Did the knitting end up looking as good as I'd hoped it would? What would it take to become a truly fearless knitter?”

I have thought about that a lot. When I first started knitting I did the Irish Hiking Scarf with cables and I was amazed that I could do it. I then moved on to doing the Branching Out, socks on dpn’s, socks on two circs and I learned I had been knitting wrong and changed that. I tried stranded and the Hemlock Ring.

What did I find out about these? Was I happy? Well, I found I love cables, not so much lace. If I remember correctly I cut the Branching Out short and made a cowl out of it. I loved the stranded hats I made but have to find better control as some stitches are tighter than others and I need to do better getting gauge. I did the Hemlock Ring and it is beautiful and I have been on a round afghan thing (doing a plain pi right now) but I find I prefer the reversible afghan’s as there is not such a drastic difference between right and wrong side. I want it to look good from both sides.

Another thing is I find myself knitting for other people and not for myself….not that that is a bad thing but because my time is limited I will do an old standby instead of trying something new or taking the time to perfect another skill.

So what do I want to do? What needs improving? What will make me a “fearless knitter” in 2008?

Well there are few things I want to learn- the first will help in all aspects of my knitting the rest I just want to learn to learn. So, first I want to learn to knit English so I have better control doing stranded. I taught myself to knit continental because I had crocheted for many years before hand and holding the yarn in my left hand just felt more natural. The others are to knit with beads, do a sock toe up, and finally conquer the short row heel. I cannot tell you how many times I have given up on that heel and just done a standard one.

The other things that will make me fearless are personal-self discipline issues…such as… I NEED to learn to say “no”. No, I can not put 30 hours in a 24 hour day just so you have (fill in the blank) for (fill in the blank). Go to Walmart, Sears or Zales and buy them a gift. Me buying/making the yarn and crocheting/knitting them something means it came from me not you. I need to stop knitting for people who ruin the items the first time they use them or those that store them away because they don’t want them to get dirty….a happy medium would be nice.

I NEED to learn patience with myself. I choose items based on how long they will take as knitting time is at a minimum. I tend to choose hats, scarves, socks and mittens. I am on nobody’s time table except my own and I need to stop cracking the whip. Who cares if that hat took 3 years to make? Also, if I am making something for family and I see a mistake and it entails ripping out several rows I will ignore it, if I can tink down I will fix it. If I ignore it I am not happy in the end so I need some patience in that area also to rip it back and do it the right way. I can make 20 crappy hats or take the time and do one sweater that I really like the right way. Quantity vs quality.

So for a fearless 2008 I need to remember knitting is my hobby. It is something that is suppose to give me pleasure. Making things that I don’t want to make, rushing for no known reason and not doing them right doesn’t give pleasure. So with felted bra as my shield and needles as my sword I go forth to become that fearless knitter. Wish me luck!

Monday, January 21, 2008


In the bleak midwinter
Frosty wind made moan,
Earth stood hard as iron,
Water like a stone;
Snow had fallen, snow on snow,
Snow on snow,
In the bleak midwinter,
Long ago.- Christina Rossetti
Today is "Blue Monday" aka the most depressing day of the year by some scientist's account. Supposedly due to the fact we haven't kept our resolutions, the credit cards are just coming due from Christmas compounded by the cold and it being a Monday, etc, etc, etc we get very depressed today.

As usual I am slightly back-ass-ward and I actually feel pretty positive today. It is cold but not as cold as a couple of weeks ago, the pipes didn't freeze, I am still basking in the glow of my new washing machine which I simply ADORE, I finished what I had in yarn for the Woodland Shawl Scarf and it just needs blocking and I started a Pi afghan, I have been spinning a little (yeah me!), the kids are in school and the man at work, the TV is off and I am enjoying the peace and quiet while sipping my coffee and I have absolutely no plans to go anywhere today.

So what will I do with all my time today? Well, I have gone thru most of the seed catalogues and I have narrowed it down to a select few. Now I just have to go thru the seeds I have to find out what I need/want.

The man is picking me up boxes to mail some wool out to get processed into roving. I have some fleeces that were given to me that I want to go thru and I am thinking of sending them out to be made into batts as some family members have expressed an interest in quilts with wool batting.

I have a meatloaf to make for dinner and I have to cook up black beans to make Spicy black bean burgers for later in the week.

Add in doing the animals, taking a shower, doing laundry, paying bills, sweeping and mopping, sneaking in some knitting/spinning time and I think I will have sufficiently filled the day and it sounds like I should get started. Have a great day and stay warm!

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Caterpillars in January

If caterpillars were meant to fly, God would have given them wings.~Anonymous

And why do I have anything about caterpillars in a January post? Well we have had another visit from old man winter which left us will snow both Monday and Tuesday. While going to let the chickens and ducks out I find this caterpillar lying in the snow. There are no crawl marks so he must have grown wings...or something with wings went without their breakfast. If the fall from the beak of the bird flying over didn't do him in, or the freezing temperatures, I know the chickens did because when I went out just a short time later he was gone.
And still why are we discussing caterpillars in January? Well probably because there is little else going on! I did finish the Irish Wellington Socks. I was going to make them shorter than the pattern said to wear with my boots but my niece was up so I decided to give them to her. I didn't finish them in time so I have to send them down to her so she will let me stay with her if I go to the MD S&W.
I did some knitting on the Woodland Shawl scarf. I am not sure how long it is suppose to be but I know it will end up shorter as I don't have much more of this left in the ball - bad me. Oh well some one will take it.And I did get some knitting done on the koolhaas.I am on the third repeat of four so if I dedicate myself to it, it will be done in a day or two. And I do need to motivate as I have a lot of things that I want to do before Spring gets here. I plan on perusing the seed catologues tonight......

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Sheep, The Shawls Oh My!

Life is so constructed that an event does not, cannot, will not, match the expectation.~Charlotte Bronte

As I stated in the last post I was looking forward to the PA Farm Show and contrary to the above quote it did NOT disappoint. Seven teams shearing, carding, spinning, weaving for 2 1/2 hours. When PCN was broadcasting something else, acting up or talking over what you wanted to hear there was always the live blogger letting you know what was going on.

Check out her blog where she has pictures of all the shawls. My favorites were the First place one done by Butler County Peddlers as I loved the changing colors down the lengths of the warp. That is why I also like the Fifth place Yorktown Spinners who modeled theirs after the Aurora Borealis. The shawl that sold for the most ($1350!) was the Third place done by Carl and the Not So Lazy Kates. From what I was able to see it was by far the most consistently spun warp and weft and probably had the most work in to it. With 7 teams you are bound to find something you like. When the auction was going on they said it was the biggest crowd they have had. I just wish they would have had more on the kids fleece to shawl which sold for $500! Now the next thing to look forward to fiberwise will be MD S&W. I think it is the being with people who don't think you are nuts which draws us together.

So, did I spin? Yes I did! The first time all year! I grabbed some dyed alpaca that I had carded months ago and finally got to spinning that.
Here is a pic of #2 daughter's mittens which she wore to school today.

I am still knitting on the Woodland Scarf and the Koolhaas but I have a hardtime concentrating when the kids are home and I hate to have to rip back so I might just start another mindless project like socks...maybe the Irish Wellingtons?!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Makes Your Heart Sing

It is essential to our well-being, and to our lives, that we play and enjoy life. Every single day do something that makes your heart sing. ~Marcia Wieder

I don't get to do that every day but what does that mean for me today? Well, each year PA holds a Farm Show. Since getting into fiber arts I have watched the Sheep to Shawl and today is the scheduled day for that. But they have given me two bonuses as this year they have a youth fleece to shawl contest and they have a blogger doing a live blog during the sheep to shawl. There is no scheduled coverage of the youth fleece to shawl which is a shame and the sheep to shawl is only covered from 3-5 and then the auction at 6:30. I have been unable to find out if they are selling the youth shawls then also, I will have to wait and see.

So this afternoon will find me happily ensconsed in front of the TV and/or computer with either my wheel or knitting.

The test of an enjoyment is the remembrance which it leaves behind ~Jean Paul Richter

And since I return to this year after year I guess I get real enjoyment out of it! It is my selfish little pleasure! So what makes your heart sing? What is something you only do infrequently just for you?

OHOH I have finished a pair of peek a boo mitts this year! I will post pics maybe tomorrow.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The start of January 2008

"There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalogues."- Hal Borland

I guess this is the bite of winter.... we awoke to temps like this on January 3...... and this on January 4......So I am a little skeptical about that diversion of a January thaw but the weatherman says it will be 50 by Tuesday. We shall wait and see.

So far as the seed catalogues, I have only breifly glimpsed at them while walking up from the mail box. I know I should be preparing but it is too soon after Christmas. I think I am on a hiatus as I haven't really knit, spun or read much. I did dye some wool and #2 daughter wanted peek-a-boo mitts from it so I started them and I have one done except for the thumb.

So what would explain this lack of interest in fiber or gardening? I have been sick with a stomach virus but it can't all be blamed on that. Sitting here I think I lost this about the same time I got married....Do you think I should run that by him? No, me either! I have been experiencing the ultra sensitivity in my arm and hand, as I stopped doing my excercises. I guess I should start doing them again and stop trying to blame it on the man.

Off to chip ice out of buckets and maybe start those excercises while I wait on the weatherman's predictions.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Second Neurotic's Notebook, 1966
Yes, we took the plunge and tied the knot and got married yesterday- 12/31/07. And yes I have fallen for him time and time again and will continue to. If you know him you would realize how easy that is.

After my time in the hospital earlier last year and realizing we are not getting any younger, we started talking about marriage. I needed to know legally he could handle whatever arose with me and my children. We got the paperwork but never picked a date. Friday we decided we would just go to the JP and have it done.

Oddly it feels anti-climatic because after 7 ½ years we pretty much thought of ourselves as married already, as did our family and friends. When we first met neither one of us wanted to get married again. But as time passed and healed all wounds from our previous divorces, there was a letting down of the guard. If nothing else it just re-enforced what we already felt and was the final step in our commitment to each other. All the walls are down and there is total trust in this person.

He is a truly remarkable guy and I am unbelievably lucky to have had #1 daughter push me into going out with him. Thanks again Baby Girl