Kudos…and some stuff.

felted clogs

My site was down for a few days–apologies to those who were wondering what was going on.  My lifestyle is such that I am not hardwired to my computer so it took me a while to learn there was a problem (thanks to my friend, C, who emailed me repeatedly until something sunk into my pregnant brain).  The kudos are to Bluehost, our web hosting service for fast and easy and non-demeaning customer service.  I think I was on the phone for all of 2 minutes and my site was working before I hung up.  Not to mention the fact that in three or so years of being their customer, I think this is the first time we’ve had to call them.  If not, Matt’s not been complaining.

The flurry of holiday knits is upon me.  My family–my parents, sibs, and our SOs and offspring–celebrate Solstice as our winter holiday  (my husband and I do a traditional Xmas with his family).  I’ll write more about Solstice later in its own post.  What’s important to know here is that my mom introduced us to the idea of Solstice when we were kids and she would give us handmade dolls and whatnot.  It was awesome!  So we re-adopted this holiday as adults (in lieu of Christmas or Hanukkah) and try to give each other handmade or sentimental gifts.  Perfect outlet for a gift knitter, eh?

The Winter Solstice is at 7.04 am EST on Sunday 12-21-08.  Our party begins the evening before (some of us try to stay up all night).

I have 8 giftees total.  So far this year, I have exactly ONE gift done and tucked away…and 8 days to go.  This is not a strong year for me, clearly.  Two are half done or more.  Two others are not knit but involve sewing; I plan to do them this weekend.  Two more are not even started, although I have the yarn: one I will start today on the theory that I would rather gift everyone half-finished projects rather than some done and some not even close to done; the other I don’t have a pattern for and am trying to find one before I start designing it (love to design but damn, it takes a long time and I only have days).  That brings me to seven.

So number eight is my dad and I am not giving him a handmade gift this year.  Sadly.  He loves to receive clothing and will always wear the goods but I recently learned that my mom is hiding the handknits from him because she considers him too rough on them.  Which I don’t argue with per se, but I would rather someone wear them!  So while I sort through this conundrum in my head, I have only 8 days to finish everything and will gladly give him something that is not handmade but makes him happy: clothes.  He is, hands down, the easiest person to gift.  Just walk into the nearest department store and pick something masculine and warm, be it socks, sweater, jacket, slippers, or jeans, in a large size.  An optional step is to put it in a gift bag rather than the store’s bag.

The next week is going to be busy.  Luckily most of these gifts are of the hands and feet variety and involve worsted weight yarn.  I am trying to be somewhat realistic.

Of course, this crazy crafting schedule doesn’t take into account all of the extra things that come up on life like the stocking I am designing, which is only half-knit also needs to be done by Solstice.  Or my car, which broke yesterday.  And on and on.  You can imagine it.  It happens to all of us.  The best laid plans, etc.

My plan for foward momentum today involves starting Matt’s gift, which, I am going to go out on a limb and assume he’s not read this far and even if he has, he shouldn’t be too surprised since he just asked me for these last week.  I’m making him the famous Fiber Trends’ Felted Clogs with Cascade 220 in the Women’s 10 which is equivalent to Men’s 8.5, his size (their smallest Men’s size is 11!).  This is my first time through this pattern. I am hoping to find some suede scraps in his leather crafting stuff to put on the soles since we are phasing out carpet and wool+wood or cork or bamboo is SLICK!

Sorry about the lack of photos.  I am not in the habit these days, obviously, and when I sit down to start composing a post, it’s too late to start snapping because that’s a whole other brain wave.

Gave Thanks

House Socks

The past two weeks have been a flurry of holiday cheer.  It all starts with Halloween, actually, which is both holiday and birthday in our family.  From that point until New Year’s Day, we have a birthday or holiday every 1-2 weeks for two of the most intense months in the Western Hemisphere.

Of knitting, there has been much, but little that was completed and even less I can show-and-tell because they are designs and I am still not all sorted out on the best way to proceed with revealing designs in progress.  It generally is considered a no-no but would it matter if it just ends up published on my own site anyway?  I think not.  But I am also discovering in the process that sometimes innocent projects suddenly become Designs; sometimes things destined for one venue get moved to another; sometimes things just never make it to the end.  So I sit on my pretty pictures, very sorry.

Speaking of holiday cheer, some highlights:

I made homemade from-scratch pumpkin pie with canned organic pumpkin puree and a store bought frozen crust.  Even though I am six-and-a-half months pregnant AND also provided homemade whipped cream, no one accepts this as from-scratch pumpkin pie.  Sigh.

Matt invented Thanksgiving Bingo.  He and I made cards up for each literate family member (sorry Z) and they included squares like Someone takes a nap, Something gets spilled, Something gets burned, Dogs steal food, There is a last minute change to the menu, Sarah goes to the store, Carol talks about buying yarn, and so on.  It was hysterical.  The short of it all: my nine year old niece won, thanks to our puppy destroying some beer in the breezeway AND it was hard to end the game because everyone was SO well behaved, in effort to try and not give other people squares.  The significance here is that while everyone in my small immediate family likes each other and enjoys getting together, something about the mundanity of Thanksgiving makes us suddenly dysfunctional and every year there are fights and tears among the adults.  Bingo was quite the therapeutic breakthrough!  There will be more Bingo next year.

The day after T-day (as if we hadn’t had enough of each other yet) was Lost Family Day, which could mean so many things but was only a two-day Lost marathon (season 4) and cookie baking extravaganza at my house with my immediate family and some adopted family-friends.  We baked 500 cookies and my sister crocheted dishcloths to send to our far flung relations.  There was much consumption of video games and Disney preteen tv outside the kitchen.  Our puppy broke into the garage and stole peanut butter cookies but spurned the ginger cookies (noticing a pattern with the dog?).  My dishwasher dramatically threw a hose in the middle of day two, dumping gallons of water in the basement–I always have dramatic maintenance things happen during holiday weekends so this one does not surprise me in the least.

It seems like I have done nothing for the past three days but shop online or in stores for holiday gifts.  It makes me twitchy, especially because I am not even close to done.  But this is a diatribe I will keep to myself.

Last night we celebrated my niece’s ninth birthday.  The hit present was a large marker board and a package of dry erase markers from Noah.  He has his girlfriend even wrote a long Rebus-style message on the board for her card, which kept four girls busy for a whole 15 minutes.

Straight on until morning, eh?  I do actually have a wee little pattern to share with ya’ll tomorrow.  It was part of my gift to my niece and my sister insists that even though it is tres easy, some folks appreciate not having to do the math themselves.

A long winter’s nap

This post is not about knitting.  One of my purposes in naming this site Entangled was that I cannot easily compartmentalize my life.  Things overlap and tangle together.  Knitting will be my mainstay here but I will not stop other bits from creeping in.

This one is about gardening, which I am as passionate about as knitting.  I’ve only been knitting for 6.5 years but I have been gardening for 15 years or more (veggies for 7 or 8 years).  Not that I claim wisdom, I just like to get dirty and figure things out as I go.

I have a fairly large organic vegetable garden.  Four raised beds that are 3’x24′ (288 sq ft).  We only moved into this house 11 months ago so the garden is brand new.  There are almost no plants around the foundation so I tossed vegetables in there when I ran out of room.  We hope to get around to real foundation plantings in 2009.

Here’s what I planted in 2008 (* means it was new for me this year):

  • cabbage*
  • broccoli*
  • kale*
  • onions (from seeds and sets)*
  • spinach
  • carrots, several varieties
  • arugula*
  • mustard*
  • potatoes (All Blue*, Russian Banana fingerling, Onaway*)
  • peas, snap and shelling*
  • peppers, hot, med, and sweet
  • chard
  • beets
  • cutting celery*
  • parsnips*
  • tomatoes, several varieties
  • tomatillos*
  • leeks*
  • beans, pole* and bush
  • squash, winter and summer
  • cucumbers, pickling variety
  • sunflowers
  • sweet potatoes, garnet
  • scallions*
  • herbs: basil, parsley, thai basil, rosemary, french tarragon, etc etc

Each plant has its own story but today is for overview.  Perhaps the individual stories will trickle out over the course of the long, dark winter.

My star of the year was the cucumbers.  I have tried them twice before and had the plants die.  This year, they went into the cabbage/broccoli bed somewhat late in the season (sometime in July?) and omigod, went gangbusters.  Because, of course, they are related to the mighty zucchini.  I look forward to growing them again next year.  If I get them going early enough, I will probably do two crops because, also like zucchini, the vines just wear out.  Some consider this a blessing but I am up for the challenge.  I have no shortage of pickle-lovers in my life.

My big disappoint of the year was the squash, particularly the winter ones.  Something killed the vines but I was never able to identify what.  I’m guessing vine borer.  I was using row covers but I guess I will do that more religiously next year.  And longer.  And not reuse that bed for any curcubits for four years.

I love to spend my winter dreaming about next year’s garden.  I read books, draw plans, write lists, order seeds, and come April or May, when it starts to get busy outside, I toss all that paper in the corner and fly by the seat of my pants.  I figure the planning is a survival tactic.  In Michigan it is cold Oct-Dec, then snowy or icy Jan-Mar.  One does what one must.

Baracking the Vote

Baracking the Vote

8:15 am at the elementary school by my house:

Baracking the Vote

We waited about an hour.  I would say it was a long line but I think the line we waited in for the 2000 election was at least as long.  (Which, interesting side note, that was the same year as the evil dangling chad and we voted on the same sketchy punch ballot and I swear, even with my college education and strong reading skills, that WAS a confusing ballot.)

While standing in line we saw lots of young kids and babies with their parents (ourselves included).  Also many senior citizens and students studying.  Someone thought to put chairs along the hallway which was helpful for some folks.  Coolest thing I overheard was an elderly man behind us in line telling someone about how he built the house he still lives in just a couple blocks away, sometime before 1950 (he did the electrical work for the original elementary school in the 50s).  Back then our pretty typical neighborhood, which is now lined with trees and houses, was mostly empty of houses and this man said he used to get up in the morning and shoot two pheasants before going to work.

How times have changed.

We are anxiously awaiting the end of the day.  Too exciting.  Oh and Legwarmer #2 is almost done.  As is Sock #1.  And those are just the characters to whom I have already introduced you.  I wasn’t kidding the other week when I said I had at least half a dozen projects on the needles.  But I only have two hands.  And these hands have been busy voting and knitting woolly tubes.

Another historic fact of this election is that voter turnout is expected to be very high.  If you are in the U.S. and are registered, please go vote today!