Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and a Knitting Connection

May you have a wonderful 2011!

I just had one of those knitting-connected moments. I am listening to this book

crescent dawn

While doing dinner preparation chores and finishing some 2010 knitting. I have been happily following the intricacies of Cussler’s usual improbable plot, which I always find to be so much fun. There are always little historical and geographical goodies thrown in. Some of this book is about the death of Lord Kitchener, who commanded British forces in World War I, at least for part of the time. Of course, my knitter ears picked up at the name and my internet generation curiosity could not be restrained, so I googled and found this blog entry. Yep, it’s THAT Kitchener all right! However, if you scroll down, the really interesting part of this entry is in the comments, particularly the ones by Of Troy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I've Finished my Christmas Projects!

I finished my Christmas sewing a few minutes ago in preparation for our family get together this coming weekend.

I am a doll person. I'm not a collector or anything, but I dearly loved dolls as a child. I would stay with my grandmother as a preschooler on the four or five days a month my mother worked at my dad's hardware store. Every day after lunch, she would take whatever doll I brought and without using a pattern or anything, make a new dress for my doll. These little dresses had puffed sleeves and ruffles. They did not have buttons because my grandmother did not have a buttonholer that would make the tiny button holes, but the back edges had a sturdy bound placket that worked well with safety pins. I wonder what grandmother would have thought about velcro. When I was about 8, she had a stroke, and after that her vision was affected so that she couldn't sew any more. Although my mother sewed all the time, she hated making doll clothes, so I didn't get many from her. By the time Barbie came along, I was old enough to be interested in sewing costumes for my Barbie doll. In fact, I was really too old to be interested in playing with Barbie, but the sewing was fun.

My daughter was not particularly interested in baby dolls, and my oldest granddaughter isn't, but the two little ones like to play with dolls. This year for Christmas, they are getting Madame Alexander dolls that are still baby dolls, but more or less toddlers with pigtails. I decided to make them some clothes that are easy to put on and take off since the mamas are only three themeselves.

For the youngest granddaughter, I made a butterfly capri pant outfit, a princess bubble with bloomers that matches the pillowcases I made for her, and a pair of sock monkey pajamas. It just happened that one set of sisters had monkey Christmas pajamas this year. The background in the photo is the two minkee doll blankets that I made from some leftovers.

The older-by-5-weeks granddaughter also will have a minkee blanket, the capri outfit, and the sock monkey pajamas, but her bubble matches the owl pillowcases that I made for her. You do realize that this "matching" bit is the fancy way of saying I used scraps? That sock monkey fabric should look familiar as well. The other reason for using the scraps is that sewing with really good quilting cotton is like knitting with the really expensive yarn. It just feels so good!

And I finally figured out how to make some overalls that would fit the boy sock monkey! The pitiful thing is that I realized I needed to make the same kind of alterations to the pattern that I use when making pants for myself because we both have disproportionately large rear ends. I also, of course, had to allow room for the monkey's tail.

Random thought: I had to open up one of the dolls for fitting purposes, and I thought I was never going to get it out of the box. There were several cable ties, and the dress was literally sewn to the packaging. Then random parts were covered in plastic bubbles. I complained to my daughter, who suggested I take the other doll out as well and just put the dolls in with the clothing. I was thinking about how frustrating it would be for a child, but then I remembered when we used to get dolls that had the satin hairbows impaled into their heads with straight pins! Does anyone else remember this? Talk about toy safety! Even then I thought it was kind of gruesome.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

At the end of a year which included horrible losses in Vietnam, civil unrest in the streets of Chicago following the Democratic Convention, and the assassinations of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Apollo 8 astronauts broadcast this message to the world on Christmas Eve.

May your Christmas be blessed!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

EBook Recommendations

This book is not exactly new, but it is by an author that I had overlooked. I was an early Patricia Cornwell fan, but I have become disenchanted with her more recent books, probably because characters that I had liked have become very unappealing. I think I may have discovered a replacement. Jefferson Bass is actually two people, one the actual founder of "The Body Farm," the famous facility at the University of Tennesse, and the other a media/fiction writer person. The cooperative nature of the writing did not detract from the suspense of the book. I walked around the house for hours holding my Sony Pocket Reader and booklight and stayed up until almost two in the morning to finish. Considering that I had stayed up to watch the lunar eclipse the night before, you know that I was riveted by the plot and the setting of the story.

I got this book as a free EPUB download from Books on Board. I got it there because I heard about it first through a feed from the blog Books on the Knob that lets me know what books are up free or at a vastly reduced price. Deleting the feeds that I'm not interested in every day is a bit of a nuisance, but I am also able to find some real jewels. I think that this book was also available for free on Kindle, but I had already signed up for the other source. I'm sure that this free book was intended as a promotion for other books by the same author, and in this case that promotion worked beautifully. I intend to buy a book as soon as I finish this review, probably on Kindle so that I can add it to my library in the cloud if I'm actually paying money for it.

Now I have to get dressed, run an errand or two, and come back to sew for the afternoon. I have downloaded an audiobook for the sewing session.
Edited to Add: I found 4 more books by this same author. I kindled one of them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ladies First

The dress has matching bloomers from the dot fabric. The fabrics are Moda Funky Monkey Sock Red and Moda Funky Monkey Dot Cream from

Saturday, December 18, 2010


We are not having our family Christmas celebration with children and grandchildren until Jan. 1st this year, so I still have some time to finish many holiday tasks. I still have some sewing to do, a little bit of odd bits of shopping, and some general getting ready. The meal will be a combination of Christmas and a Southern New Year's Dinner with ham and black-eyed peas. After using the china at Thanksgiving, we are going all out with paper plates and plastic tablecloths for a quick dinner that will give us time for gift opening and enjoying the children enjoying their gifts.

Before then, though, I have to do serious grocery shopping. Not so much for the holiday meal as for general restocking. I have deliberately run things down to almost nothing in my pantry so that I can replace it all with fresh items. In the last week or so, we have had some very "creative" meals. I think I will try to make a daily grocery run during the next week to stock up on quantities of one or two items at a time. It's less exhausting that way. After I have the pantry done, I need to do much the same thing with our freezer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

So Much for my Career as a Fledgling Knitwear Designer. . . .

On the other hand, using my 40% off Hobby Lobby coupon for a Clover Pom Pom Maker was a wonderful investment. As Olivia would say, "Accessorize!" (Ignore the instructions in the package and Google for video instructions.)

Now to sew the garments. And the eyes, mustn't forget the eyes!

And, in a totally random thought, when I made my visit to Happy Hour at the local Sonic Drive In, I read the sign out front, the kind that has the insertable plastic letters. I'm not sure about the rest of the country, but the latest Sonic creation here is a foot-long Tex-Mex Chili Dog, which has cheese, onions, and jalapenos. The sign advertised it as a "TXT DOG." I'm not sure if you have to order with your I-Phone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Although told they had been identified. . .

by their long tails and their monkey-kind-of-shape, the naked and hatless animals stared blankly at the world around them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rhinoplasty and Oral Surgery and a Book

While assembling, I am listening to an audiobook by an author who is new to me--Ivan Doig. The novel is Dancing at the Rascal Fair. From the blurb on the library site, I was expecting a romance novel set in the West, but so far I have been absolutely entranced by the voice of the narrator, as distinct from the audiobook reader, a young Scotsman emigrating from a Scottish Lowland village to Montana at the end of the nineteenth century. Seeing America and the West through his eyes is fascinating. The audiobook reader is excellent as well. I can detect the beginnings of a romantic plot, but this book promises to be far more than the usual history/romance mix. Enough writing. I need to put my earbuds on and hit the sewing machine!

Anonymous, with Cellulite

Just Checking In

  • All purchased/completed Christmas presents are wrapped and tagged (I used to leave the tags off just to frustrate people, but with 4 grandchildren, that's an impossibility.) and will be under the tree as soon as I move the vacuum cleaner.
  • The ham for Christmas Dinner, which will actually be on New Year's Day, is in the freezer.
  • I am heating up my sewing room now for the other items I have to start and finish--2 sock monkeys with clothing and two wardrobes for 14" toddler dolls. We had a cold and windy spell for a few days that would have made heating that room a challenge and expensive. By this afternoon, the outside temp should be in the '60s around here, so things will be comfy. I have already loaded my MP3 player with a couple of audiobooks for marathon sewing sessions.
  • I need to finish the menu for the dinner.
  • Knitting--I've been working on dishcloths for a housewarming gift and intermittently knitting on my Three Way Wrap. I got in an assortment of some yarn colors from Pisgah Yarn and Dyeing, the Peaches and Creme people. In today's economic climate, I rather like the idea of knitting using yarn that is grown and manufactured in the U.S.A. (If it were manufactured in Texas, it would be even better, of course.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Cheated!

My plans for hand-knitted ornaments did not work out this year, so I was looking for a last-minute solution. I found these online from Crate and Barrel. With the aid of Photoshop Elements and MS Publisher, and a kind aunt who sent an updated photo, these were ready to go in a few minutes. They are really heavy, good-quality frames.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Artfully Posed Wallaby

I was tired of the starfish-like blocking pictures. This is the Wonderful Wallaby for the youngest granddaughter. The color is reasonably accurate--Plymouth Encore 1034, ordered from Webs. I am aware that I probably overdo including color and yarn info, but for those of us out here with no local yarn shops, any data that we get about sources, quality, colors, feel and durability of yarn is valuable information. You will notice that the sweater seems proportionately long. That is on purpose. This year it will be one of those longer sweaters that come to mid-thigh and look cute over leggings. There is extra length in the sleeves with tighter ribbing to allow for grow room also. The spot was from the camera, not on the sweater. I photoshopped a repair, but did not get it quite good enough.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Knitting Break

I took a knitting break on Sunday afternoon, drove to Amarillo, and continued a tradition with my daughter--watching Harry Potter. As an added thrill--I thrill very easily--we chose the digital instead of the film version, and I bought tickets online and printed them on my printer. Now for my review--

I was not entirely thrilled with the movie version of The Half-Blood Prince, mostly because I thought it seemed just like a plot "bridge" to the next movie and because I felt that it did not have the feel of the earlier films. So many details about Hogwarts seemed to be omitted or glossed over that I was not transported to that world in the way I had been in earlier films. Having read The Deathly Hallows and having read some reviews, I had an idea how difficult it would be to adapt this last book to the screen and make the slow suspenseful buildup come across in film. For the first minute or so of the movie, I was worried, but then it far surpassed my expectations. I was very pleased. I am reluctant to go into specifics and be a spoiler other than to say that I found this film to be quite a successful adaptation. It did not have exactly the same emotional impact on me as the book, but having read the book, I was anticipating some events rather than shocked by them. This film is bleak and heavy in mood as befits its subject, but even at the most suspenseful or most dreary parts, the humor and whimsicality that distinguishes the Potter series comes through. However, anyone who has not seen the other films or read the books would have a problem figuring this one out.

It is also quite obvious that this film would be spectacular in IMAX. If I lived closer than 500 miles to a theater, I would go see it that way as well.

Now for a discussion of color--the film is dark in mood and the predominant colors are shades of gray. The world of Hogwarts with the colorful school banners and uniforms is not in evidence. The setting is barren moors (I hate that phrase. If you live in the U.S. Southwest, describing moors as "barren" just seems silly.) in the wintertime, bare stretches of beach on a cloudy day, snowy forests, lonely houses, THE white tent. The director of this film has made that tent quite interesting, by the way. The color extends to the costuming. Everything is muted except for Dolores pink--a horrible color indeed.

The muting of color extends to the knitwear. I was keeping an eye out. Both Ron and Harry spend much of the movie in sweaters that I actually think are based on a British military design, maybe not a current one--gray, wide ribbed, collared, zipped part way--very practical for what they are doing. Hermione does wear a quite lovely fair isle cardigan in very muted shades that is somewhat played down by all the other garments she is bundled in. Even the gloves and scarves are muted. I may have missed some knitwear because I was watching the story so closely.

Literary allusion? Voldemort's snake Nagini, has much the same name as the snakes in "Rikki Tiki Tavi," the mongoose story from Kipling's Jungle Book. (I only noticed this because I had been sorting kiddie DVDs at my house.) I wikipediaed, and discovered that the "nag" part of these names comes from a Hindi word for "cobra." I just thought that it was interesting that Rowlings may have picked up on the Kipling story. It would be fun to ask her.

Wonderful Wallaby progress--I am EXACTLY halfway finished with the hood!

Oh yes, if QVC happens to put Hermione handbags up for sale on easy payments, please call my attention to it. I'd love to have one of those things!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Imaginary Knitting Content

Actually, the knitting content is real, but the photo is imaginary. The second sleeve--plain stockinette--is completed. If your imagination needs help, you can scroll down a post or so. The second sleeve looks just like the first sleeve. In truth, that is saying something. I was in a hurry, so of course, I messed up. First I knitted the entire ribbing part with the wrong number of cast on stitches. Frog. Then I got the right number of stitches but twisted the joining and didn't notice for a couple of rows. Frog. After that, things went swimmingly until I had knitted 10 of the 12 inches and noticed not one but three mistakes a couple of inches down. I tried dropping down and repairing, but that just didn't look good, so I frogged down again to the 8 inch point and started up. Finally, I finished. The sleeves are now attached to the body with a couple of rows of knitting. Every time I do this, I realize how happy I am to have interchangeable circulars so that I can just screw on tips instead of having to shift stitches to needles from holders. I don't know what my problem is with sleeves. I love knitting socks, and a sleeve is just a sock without a heel and kitchener. I never seem to suffer from second sock syndrome, but the second sleeve is always a killer. Perhaps it's because I know it's just a prelude to more knitting to follow or something. Note: my ribbing, knitted in the combination style, is looking better all the time. At least I feel something is improving.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

It Must Be Love. . . .

Today is our 33rd wedding anniversary. I googled for appropriate art, but anything for 33 years looked like it was for old people, and surely that couldn't be us! (That reminds me that in my mother's last years she got really picky about changes. Her purse was absolutely worn out, so my DD and I hunted and found a new purse exactly like her old one, except it was new. She rejected it entirely, saying that it was an old woman's purse and she wasn't going to have anything like that. It was just like her existing handbag, and she was in her nineties.)

Yesterday we celebrated by going out for Japanese food, and by going on a weekday, we had the little room with the grill all to ourselves! Today I'm making homemade chili. Life is good!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Quiet Day

And get a look at this.