Thursday, January 31, 2008

Something Finished/Something Learned

I just finished a Wonderful Wallaby out of Plymouth Encore Colorspun in purple. I am not posting a picture of the sweater because it's for a gift. I am, however, excited about what I learned--how to seamlessly knit in the pocket at bottom and top and how to kitchener in garter stitch on the hood, and how to duplicate stitch. Here is the letter A from Little Cotton Rabbits. The colors are not quite true--the purple is truly more beautiful, and the hot pink is not as neon. Will a kindergartener recognize this as an A?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Worth a Read . . .

. . .and a listen:

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Julie Garwood again

After being rather disappointed with Shadow Music, I checked out Shadow Dance from the public library. This novel is modern, and while I still prefer her earlier historicals, I did find that this book contained the humor and quality of characterization that I had associated with her past work. I'm just glad the small Texas town that I live in is nothing like Serenity and that she hasn't completely lost what I used to read her for.

This afternoon we inducted members into our local chapter of the National English Honor Society. We have 11 new members, who are selected on the basis of overall academic achievement and outstanding performance in English. I blogged earlier about our project for this year, but I'm please to say that it was written up in the newsletter the national organization (page two). This link is posting strangely. I'll try to edit it later.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


I was tagged for the "You Make My Day Award" by lizzyk8. You are supposed to list 10 blogs that you read each day and then those people will list 10 more, and so on. I’m listing blogs that I find to be good reading. If you are tagged and you don’t want to participate, please just accept what I say as a compliment.

The Adventures of _____ and ______. The names are blank and the link is not hot because this is a private blog detailing the adventures of two of my grandchildren. I think their mother intends to turn this blog into a book for them to have when they grow up. She includes lots of pictures (always a plus for the grandparents), stories about mothering, and frequent letters to each of the children. It’s a shame that none of us feel comfortable about having this out there open on the internet because it’s good reading.

_____ Adventures. The same security reasons apply to this blog about the other two grandchildren. My DIL has not been "at" it quite as long as my daughter, but the collection of cute pictures and stories is growing rapidly. Good work, K______!

Whimsy Knits. She lives in a nearby city. We both started spinning about the same time. Either she’s a really GOOD photoshopper, or she’s a much better spinner than I am, but she’s inspiring me to keep up. She is an inspiration in her knitting and her spinning, and I check her blog every day.

Sooner Be Knitting. I can be really dense. It took me almost a year to realize that the title of this blog can mean the obvious preference we knitters have for how we spend our spare time and at the same time refer to her enthusiastic support of her favorite college football team. You would think an English teacher (she’s one, too) could figure out a pun. Honestly!

Geocaching Knitter. I am not retired, not traveling, and not living in New England, but the Aran-style knitting on this blog is outstanding. I enjoy the scenic pictures, but I really love those in-progress shots of what I’d like to be able to consistently do some day.

So the Thing Is Blog. I first got interested in this as a knitting blog and then followed a summer trip to the South last year with a story about a haunted courthouse. I was particularly happy to find another Texas blog that was so entertaining. Now the author and her family are moving to Long Island, but I plan to keep reading anyway. She has the ability to make the trivial ups and downs of every day life seem interesting. And, frankly, I’m so glad that I’m not going through what she’s going through right now with a cross-country move and trying to sell a house in Austin in the beginning of a recession. Way to go, Barb! I want to hear all about Long Island life.

Fugue State Knits. This blog often makes me think and sometimes makes me evaluate my life. That is a good thing. It is also remarkable since I am very different from the writer in many ways. I always enjoy reading what she has to say.

Knit ‘n Teach. Another English teacher, but from New Hampshire. Again, this is a blog that I find thought-provoking.

9 and 10 Like knitters everywhere, I make regular stops at the big two—the Yarn Harlot and Wendy Knits. I find it heartening that they can mess up, too.

Audiobook Review--Shadow Music

Julie Garwood was always one of my favorite historical romance writers. Even though the plots of all romances are somewhat predictable, it's how the couple gets together and the bits of culture and atmosphere along the way that keep the reader reading. This novel certainly had promise--the first part set up some great possibilities for suspense, but then it disappointed. Any peril involving the heroine was slight, at best. She lacked the feisty sense of humor that I've come to expect from Garwood. Situations with possibilities are dropped. We were told about her character rather than shown. For example, when Colm (I hope I'm spelling correctly--this was an audiobook.) discovers after weeks of searching that the arrow which killed the man who was trying to kill his brother was shot by Gabrielle, there is no scene in which she proves her ability with a bow and outshoots all of his archers or anything like that. She never uses this skill again, either. Instead, the subject is just dropped. That sort of thing happens too often in the novel. Colm is also just a standard big-laird-in-a-plaid, without personal quirks that would have given his character some interest. Unlike the Julie Garwood novels I have read in the past, I was rooting for this one to be over.

Knitting--sleeves attached and yoke to placket point on Wonderful Wallaby.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Chase

When I'm in the mood for an adventure story, I often turn to the author Clive Cussler. His Dirk Pitt series has always amused me because he can make the most improbable plots seem possible enough to keep me reading. I read his work even though at least the early Dirk Pitt was something of a male chauvinist. The Chase, however, is an historical adventure set in 1906. As a Cussler novel goes, this one is fairly short, but as always it is full of fascinating "side" information as well.

Knitting--finished the pocket knitting for a Wonderful Wallaby project for next Christmas.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Memory Keeper's Daughter--Spinning and Walking

The unabridged audiobook of The Memory Keeper's Daughter seemed exceptionally long in places. I always wonder if the audio has a different effect on me than the written book would have. The premise of the story is very interesting, but frankly the angst of the parent who had given his child away and the refusal of the mother to deal with what she believed to be the stillbirth of her child got tedious after awhile because I was listening to every excruciating detail. I could only wonder what Phoebe's life would have been like if they had kept her. I'm not sure that they would have dealt with her Down's Syndrome in the wonderful way that Caroline did. I really wanted to see more of what was going on with Caroline and Phoebe and less of the other couple. I did, however, sympathize strongly with the son.

Notice, however, that I'm complaining about these people as if they are real. That's one of the tests of good literature--the creation of believable characters--and Kim Edwards has done a brilliant job of that. All things considered, this book was good brain food for spinning and walking and driving.

Spinning Monday--I bobbin of singles from gray roving from the Sheep Shed Studio.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Knitting Workshop

One of my goals for this year is to continue to learn from Elizabeth Zimmermann. I bought myself the Knitting Workshop DVD for Christmas--already had the book--and just finished working through the first lesson, the hat with colorwork. Learning colorwork just happens to be another goal. Here is the rather bumpy-looking picture. I'm trying to improve my digital knitting shots with a little portable light box, but I'm having trouble getting my camera angles just right.

Hat--CO 72 stitches on sz. 6 needles (for a child)

Yarn--Woolease remnants, but the right school colors

Friday, January 18, 2008

Fiber Progress at Last

At last I'm back to spinning on Mondays. This is the October fiber from the Spunky Fiber Club, "Goblin Eyes," Romney. The skein is 175 yards of a light worsted size, spun long draw, 2-ply. I really need to keep practicing. I am, however, pleased with this one, even though I am not sure what to do with it. I guess I'll wait for it to "speak."
Last spring, I knitted some beautiful socks for my DD. She did not wear them until this fall, and she said that she had worn them about 5 times when this happened to the heels of both socks.
I made an attempt at darning them. The holes were big enough that I had to pick up stitches and knit a patch. The existing sock fibers were so fragile-feeling that I had a little trouble seaming the sides of the patch.

I have also knitted both sleeves of a sweater for next Christmas--can't post pictures.

The bathroom reveal is still upcoming; the shower curtain and hooks have been wandering around the US on a rather rambling route. The blinds are not here yet, either. The job turned out to be a little more complicated than we expected because there was a problem with some rotten sheetrock behind some tile in the shower in the other bathroom. It has been repaired and the area has been retiled.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


I almost never do internet quizzes, but this one was appealing--

You paid attention during 100% of high school!

85-100% You must be an autodidact, because American high schools don't get scores that high! Good show, old chap!

Do you deserve your high school diploma?
Create a Quiz

Sunday, January 13, 2008


We're redoing a bathroom right now--the "reveal" will follow in a week or two--and I'm trying to tint old photographs to put in frames as part of the decor. I've been experimenting today using Photoshop Elements. It's certainly been a learning process. I have several days before the frames will be here, so any suggestions are welcome.

Here are samples--my mother and her two younger sisters.

And my mother-in-law, from the late 1920s or early 1930s--

My dad's basketball picture--Lisbon High School, at that time outside of Dallas. I hope no one fouled out.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mysterious Ways

After my Wednesday pity party, I had every intention of skipping the women's meeting at church on Thursday night. It's not as if they would miss me--this was the signup for a group I hadn't been in but was intending to join. At the last minute, however, I decided to go. The food--a choice of soups, cornbread, and a dessert--was tasty and the program was informative and interesting. The age range was from late twenties all the way UP.

When we were standing around visiting after the program, a former professional colleague with whom I have also done volunteer work over the years rather quietly said that she is going to have to have a cardiac ablation as soon as it can be arranged. She is scared and miserable because she is already off her meds in preparation for the procedure. I was able to talk to her awhile about my experiences a year or so ago, and I think it really helped her. She has promised to call me as soon as she finds out her schedule. I was so glad that I had stopped feeling sorry for myself and gone to the meeting!

Still knitting on plain stockinette DH socks.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Pity Party

I have very little knitting content to post--working to finish a pair of socks for DH. I have spun and partially plied 4 oz. of Romney from Spunky Eclectic.

Otherwise, it has been a hectic week, the first back to school after the holiday. For one thing, we had 10 seniors do early graduation at semester. That may not seem like a significant number, but out of a class of about 70, it is a noticeable percentage, and a few of them were the ones that tend to make classes sparkle. I'll miss them.

As always happens, the electronic rolls are still messed up due to schedule changes, which in turn means the computer grading system is also down.

Also, the truth is that I am old and set in my ways. If I don't have at least a couple of non-committed evenings in a week, I feel harried and almost claustrophobic. I still work a few afternoons a month doing bookkeeping for our family business, and this week there was a snafu with some electronic checking that caused me to have to rush in and do an unexpected afternoon of telephone tag with government people. GRRRRR! (Today, I got a form that came from them, an official form, with an apostrophe error. I so want to get out the English teacher red pen and . . . .). I have meetings on two different evenings.

Today my principal saddled me with one of THOSE projects--something very simple that does, however, involve a lot of community relations. He is an administrator who is just passing through a small town on his way to bigger and better things. I, on the other hand, have known these people all my life and will continue to live here, so I have to do this RIGHT!

I spent a day and a half in a classroom with a fluorescent ballast giving off a terrible smell and not getting anyone to do anything about it. Thank heaven, it finally just went out completely.

And. . . the reason I don't have much knitting content is that I have been waiting for a DVD for about 2 1/2 weeks. I treated myself to the Knitting Workshop DVD by EZ. I already have the book, but I promised myself that I was going to work through the lessons to improve my techniques and I've been ready to start for a few days. It came today! I ripped open the package to discover the right invoice but the wrong DVD. I don't want to wait another 2-3 weeks, but I really don't have much choice.

And, the weird one. At school we are faced, in our workroom, with an entire table covered in red and yellow plastic sand buckets with our names on them. We are supposed to put anonymous notes praising or critiquing our colleagues in personal buckets which are open so that anyone can pick them up and read them. This is supposed to build morale. Perhaps I am cynical, but it looks to me like an efficient delivery system for being tacky and really hurting someone. I know what we would say if students set up something like this.

All of these are such petty things that I am not sure why they are getting to me. I'm going to go to bed with a mystery story!

On the up side, the crew is coming to start on a bathroom update tomorrow. I've already made some "before" pictures, and I'll post the "afters" as soon as possible. I'm not much of an interior decorator, but it will be nice to have something clean and bright.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Audiobook Download Review

I downloaded Catherine Coulter's FBI thriller Point Blank through the Harrington Library Consortium's Overdrive connection--for free. Then I quite legally transferred the book from my computer to my Zen Nanoplus MP3 player. This was my first book downloaded to the player. I found the quality to be exceptional--much better than having to deal with cleaning and handling and loading multiple CDs. The tiny player fits in my pocket and the earphones are comfy. I knitted, wound yarn, ate lunch, cleaned out a closet, and, for the final two chapters, relaxed in bed while listening to the story. I still don't think audio is necessarily the way to listen to great literature--the kind that you need to underline, write comments, and reread that last paragraph to be sure you understand it--but for reading for entertainment, it is quite adequate.

Coulter's novel, by the way, is standard mystery fare, with a nod to her past as a romance writer. I always find this author to be an entertaining read.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Jan Karon Review and first FO

I just finished Jan Karon's novel Home to Holly Springs. This book is billed as "the first of the Father Tim novels," featuring Father Timothy Kavanaugh from the Mitford series in his life as a retired Episcopal priest. I truly enjoyed the Mitford series, which I read a few years ago, but I found this new book both inspirational and disappointing.

First of all, Father Tim's visit to his hometown after an absence of 40 years or so is skillfully handled. Through the use of flashbacks, the reader is drawn into the world of the South in the 1940s and 50s. Both the strengths and weaknesses of Southern society and of Father Tim's personal background are demonstrated by the actions of his family and others in the community. In the present, we are introduced to an interesting variety of characters.

Watching Father Tim confront his own emotions about his past and learning to forgive not just other people but himself for mistakes that have haunted his life is the central strength of this book--the universal problem that every person of a "certain age" has to deal with.

What is disappointing about the this book? The plot device that prompts Father Tim's return to Holly Springs is interesting, and the reactions of former friends and acquaintances that find out he is in town are enlightening. The denouement of the main plot line is satisfactory. However, the author adds a string of coincidences, attributed, of course, to Divine Providence, which I feel stretch plausibility and weaken the point of the novel. Since Father Tim obviously intends to return to Holly Springs, not every thread from the past had to be wrapped up neatly by the end of the book.

I'll be very interested to see where the next book in this series picks up.

My first FO of the new year--a pair of socks from Paton's Kroy, plain stockinette.

Paton's does not have the feel of the more expensive yarns when knitting, but after it is washed, it is wonderfully soft and wears like iron. This particular colorway--Krazy Stripes 54801--was made in Italy rather than Slovenia and seems softer. I used KP 1s, the bigger ones. My tension when knitting continental is getting more even, but I am still starting the ribbing English, and I am knitting the heel stitch continental and purling back English. The yarn is from a stash of Kroy that my DD gave me for Christmas. This color seemed a cheerful way to ring in the New Year!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Random Thought

I've been scanning through blogs, looking at the pictures of knitted Christmas gifts everyone is posting now that it's safe to do so. You know you're a knitter when you realize that you are looking at pictures of people trying on socks that they are going to give to someone else and thinking, "Wow, really nice socks!" instead of thinking, "Icky!" When did I change? (Of course, I have been known to carefully read a hardback book before gifting it--can't pull it off with a paperback, looks used.)