Sunday, December 31, 2006

Goodbye 2006

Dear Rachel,

I'm here, coughing and sniffling, but ready and rarin' to greet the New Year in the traditional Kilburn fashion: eating junk food and playing board games in our pajamas.

Really, I just wanted to say:

Happy Birthday, Lena!



Sunday, December 24, 2006

... and a Merry Christmas, too!

Dear Rachel,

Well, the presents are bought and wrapped, most of the decorations are up, and Rose is napping in preparation of a grand feast at Aunt Jill's house tonight. I, myself, am feeling quite merry, and ready to celebrate. All of my choirs sounded very nice at their last rehearsals (please God they'll sound very nice this afternoon and at Midnight and tomorrow morning, too), so I'm eager for church as well as for good food and family.

I hope you had a great party to close your eight nights of celebration, and that Lena had lots of fun, too. I'm really looking forward to seeing you three in January and letting our two big girls have a grand afternoon together. I can't believe they're going to be TWO!

I pick up the knitting when I can -- I haven't had many free moments lately -- but I'm hoping to do a lot of it when Andy's home the next couple of weeks. March will be here before we know it!



Monday, December 18, 2006

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An Outing to the Vinyl Cafe

Dear Rachel,

Andy and I had a fun date night last night: we went to Windsor to hear Stuart McLean.

CBC Radio Two -- 89.9 FM from Windsor, ON -- has been the radio station of choice here in the Kilburn house since WQRS went heads-up in 1997. We are glad that WRCJ brought classical music back to the Detroit airwaves last fall, and still seems to be going strong, but we've developed a real affection for CBC, especially their program "The Vinyl Cafe" which we try to listen to every Saturday morning.

It was very exciting to discover that Stuart McLean et al were going to be visiting Windsor, right across the river, on their Christmas tour, and we knew we had to go.

What a treat it was! Great music from The Bebop Cowboys, Roxanne Potvin, Murray McLaughlin, and THREE Dave and Morley stories. Much fun and laughter.



Monday, December 11, 2006

More Sesame Street clips

Dear Rachel,

Are you tired of these yet?

Two little girls

On the subway

Me, neither.



Friday, December 8, 2006

That Toddlin' Town

Dear Rachel,

We -- my mother, grandmother, sister, brother-in-law, husband, and assorted children -- took a day trip to Chicago this past Tuesday. I am only now recovered enough to write about it. No, it wasn't that bad, but it was quite a looong day, then I came down with a bit of a sinus thing that has had me sniffling and crabby and sleeping whenever possible.
We took the 7:46 train from Dearborn (the one that actually left at 8:20). We got a great spot at the end of the car where there were four seats facing each other on one side and an open space for a wheelchair (or two toddlers and a pre-schooler) on the other. Don't worry, if anyone who had needed the space had come aboard, we would have gotten out of the way immediately. Rose actually slept for about an hour on the trip there.

We arrived at Chicago's Union Station (now that's a train station!) at around 1 p.m., a little later than we really wanted to, but at least the kids hadn't been strapped in to car seats for the previous 5 hours and were actually kind of ready for some stroller time. Here's Rose and me, myself wearing my blue Coronet and my Ravenclaw scarf.

My mom had invited my 76-year-old grandmother -- Nana -- along, because Nana had never been to Chicago, and mom thought Nana would enjoy a day with all her kids. The invitation was conditional, however, upon Nana being willing to use a wheelchair. It's a bit of a walk from the station to Marshall Field's, nothing too unmanageable, but my grandmother can't walk briskly anymore. She reluctantly agreed. So we're hurrying along in the sunny, bitter cold day, and the wheelchair hits a bump at just the right angle and speed, and Nana ends up on the sidewalk, along with Ramona, who had been riding in her lap. Shannon, who had been pushing, was in tears. It seemed to take forever to get Nana back into the chair, though I know it was only a few seconds. She was okay; she didn't even get a bruise from it, but we were all a little shaken up from it.

This picture was post-tumble. We were all feeling much better by then, as you can see. We were almost to Marshall Field's and a late lunch. Mom really wanted to treat us all to lunch in the Walnut Room, and it was a treat.

The Walnut Room is beautiful, but at this time of year, there is a breathtaking two-and-a-half story Christmas Tree in the center of it. This year, it was decorated with Wedgewood ornaments and a topper designed by Vera Wang. They don't take reservations during the Christmas season, and you can wait hours to eat, but we hit it at just the right time of afternoon, and didn't have to wait at all.

We got to sit right under the tree. The service was polite, but slow! We had only enough time after eating to visit Santa, go across the street to the Christkindlmarket for 15 minutes, then we had to head back to the station to catch the 6:00 train.

Rose was not in the mood for Santa Claus. She had about enough patience to give him a high five, but that was it.

Andy took this shot of the Tiffany dome in the atrium.
It's not the best shot of it (there are better ones here), but it leads to this funny little side-story: Andy showed Rose the ceiling, using her baby word for it, "ta-ta." Don't ask me how or why she started calling the ceiling the ta-ta. She called our bed "ho-ta" for ages, and we have no idea why. Anyway, he then continued talking with her, saying, "They sure have beautiful ta-tas here. I love looking at the ta-tas." It wasn't until I was nearly crying with laughter that it registered in his head what he was saying, and he had to explain to the woman who was in the elevator with us why he was saying this.

Here is the atrium from the ground floor. The ceiling shot was taken from one of the 5th floor openings.

The Christkindlmarket was lovely, and I had a $7 mug of hot spiced wine. It was so worth it.

After a dinner of Gerber Graduates carrots and Cheerios on the train, Rose blessedly slept all the way back home.

And, as Cozy was my project of choice for the train trip, it is now longer than it is wide -- hooray!



Friday, December 1, 2006

Exceptional Child

Dear Rachel,

I've been re-reading this book over the last week, and I was stopped by a discussion in the chapter about preschoolers that concerned "hothouse children." Many of these kids, later in life, fall apart when they can't maintain their high level of achievement. Now, I was definitely not a hothouse kid, but I did read early, I started piano lessons when I was four, I always did well in school, and I was basically thought of as "the smart kid." You know how this is.

My parents, unlike the parents of hothouse children, never pushed me to achieve. They followed my lead -- I loved to read, they bought more books. I had a talent, they continued to pay for lessons as long as they could. I got all A's, they told me they were proud of me. They encouraged me in everything I chose to do. I never felt from them the pressures that hothouse children feel.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I hadn't been a music major. If I had followed the route many "smart kids" do and pursued pre-med or engineering. High school was so easy for me. I never learned to study because I never had to. University was a brand new world, and I was challenged to re-work how I did homework, how I prepared for tests, how I scheduled my time because I wasn't absorbing things as easily. It was a bit of a reality check. I still made it through fairly well, but I wasn't so sure I was a "smart kid" anymore. A bit of my basic self-image was changed forever, but I was still me. If I had tried to go into a more scientific field, would I have been utterly crushed? We may never know.

I do love my life now. I still read voraciously. I (obviously) am still making music. But I'm not an ambitious achiever, and I don't always feel like the smart one. And you know what? That's okay with me.



Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I'm just tired and bored with myself

(with apologies to Bruce Springsteen)

but I am. I haven't posted in forever, and basically, it's because I feel so boring. I feel like I'm not doing anything these days, which is strange because December is the month I'm usually the busiest. Rose has had a cold, a much worse one than usual (although no fever, thank goodness). She's just been miserable and we haven't left the house for two days. Maybe that's my problem -- I need some fresh air. You'd think this would leave me plenty of time for knitting, with no outings, but I just... I just don't feel like knitting.


But I found this earlier this morning, and thought you'd like it, too.



Saturday, November 18, 2006

Muff follow-up

Dear Rachel,

Just a quick pic of me getting ready to head out for our carolling gig, wearing the muff.

(I'm not sure what Rose is doing in this picture.) It kept my hands so nice and warm! I'm going to end up making three more for other members of our group. That's real holly clipped from the bush in our front yard. Pretty, huh?



Friday, November 17, 2006

28-Hour Knit

Dear Rachel,

Remember I had mentioned briefly once that I might forgo my usual disinclination for novelty yarns and make a muff out of Fun Fur for carolling? Well, several weeks ago I bought a skein of black Paton's Merino and a skein of black Fun Fur on a trip to the dime store. Yes, we actually still have a dime store around here.

I put the yarn away, being engrossed in other projects, and didn't think about it until yesterday. Then I thought, how long could it take to make a tube of worsted weight yarn doubled with some Fun Fur?

Answer: 28 hours (including time for sleeping, eating, working, etc.). Seriously. I started this during Sesame Street yesterday -- about 10 am -- and finished it today before 2 pm. Don't worry, it's not furry inside, there's a lining of just wool. See here for how it's constructed.

And here's the best part: our first carolling gig is tonight. So I'll get to look cute in my new fur muff and have toasty little hands. I'll try to get some pictures.



Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Back to the Log Cabin

Dear Rachel,

I still haven't recovered from yesterday's excitement. Neither has Dermie. He has very strong feelings for natural fibers, you see. He felt the yarn was meant for him. I haven't been able to convince him otherwise, yet.

Thank you for loaning me your #5 Options. As you can see, the blanket is fitting much better on this circular. This is six stripes on each side (almost). I'm aiming for nine on each side, although if I run out of yarn or patience before then, I reserve the right to end it all early.

I am really enjoying working with the Options needles. The cable has zero memory, the tips are solid, slippery, and really sharp. I picked up all those pink stitches with no hassle. The needle went right through and pulled back the the yarn first time, nearly every time. Not so with the Addi Turbos I had been using. I was almost to the point of dreading picking up all those stitches (with each edge getting longer and longer) because the yarn kept slipping off the needle before I could pull it through the stitch, and it was taking forever to get started on a new color. I'm telling you, I breezed through the pink. I like how sharp they are, too, although I may have to alter my knitting style slightly because of it. When I use circulars, and the stitches get bunched up on the left-hand needle, I usually take my right index finger, put it to the tip of the left needle, and use my left fingers to slide the stitches down onto the cable. Well, with Options, it's not very comfortable to do this. I'm experimenting with alternatives.

I like the Options so much, I probably will own a set by spring. An interchangeable set just makes so much sense, and the quality is good. Thanks for letting me try yours.

One last thing, just for fun, and just because I want to see if I can manage to put it up:

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The Inland North

You may think you speak "Standard English straight out of the dictionary" but when you step away from the Great Lakes you get asked annoying questions like "Are you from Wisconsin?" or "Are you from Chicago?" Chances are you call carbonated drinks "pop."

The Midland
The Northeast
The South
The West
North Central
What American accent do you have?
Take More Quizzes



Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Yarn from Peg (or, Thank you, Peg -- part II)

Dear Rachel,

Here's to hoping that Blogger feels like letting me upload some pictures... Okay, ready? Here we go:

Hooray! I'd better write fast before it decides it doesn't want me to show any more pictures. This is Lang Jawoll Superwash and a ball of softer-than-butter Grignasco Merino Gold, neither of which I've ever seen or felt in person. Yes, Peg, I'm definitely going to make Rose a pair of socks from the Jawoll. I've heard a lot about it and I'm really looking forward to knitting with it.

Here are four balls of Sari cotton yarn. This will become a spring and summer top for Rose. It is so soft and light, and the blue will really set off the blue of Rose's eyes. Beautiful!

And, finally, this gem:
This is handspun, handdyed laceweight yarn. It's a blend of mohair, wool, and nylon, locally produced near where Peg lives. This photo comes close, but doesn't quite capture the blend of rust and gold and midnight blue and rich violet that blend throughout the skein. It's very striking. I'm thinking a lace scarf or a shoulder shawl. I have to find a fitting pattern.

This exchange has been such a treat! I keep peeking at my sendee's blog, but I'm sure my parcel won't arrive there until the end of next week at the earliest. I'm having an awful lot of fun with this. Thanks, Ms. Knitingale, for starting it, and thank you, Peg, for such a lovely and thoughtful care package!



Thank you, Peg!

Dear Rachel,

I received a package today! Peg from British Colombia sent it, all full of some wonderful stuff -- so without further ado: the pictures!

There was mineral bath and milled soap with the scent "Tea & Oranges." It smells fantastic.

This box is labelled, "Hot chocolate."

Goodness. Speaking of smells, if I could digitize what this chocolate smells like and send it as a file, you'd drop dead. It's just wrong how crazy good this chocolate smells. I can't wait to taste it.

Here is a package of postcards with New Yorker cartoons that feature cats. Tee hee.
And Peg also sent a board book edition of The Velveteen Rabbit and a funny little dog for Rose. Here she is smiling and saying "Thank you!"

Okay, now apparently Blogger does not want me to upload any more pictures. I do have more, and they're all of yarn, which I know is what everyone (well, everyone who thinks like me) wants to see. This is what I'll do. I'll end this post, then start another one tonight after Rose is in bed. She's been a good girl this whole time, playing with cans and boxes out of the pantry, so I'm going to play with my baby. By tomorrow, there will be another entry with pictures of yarn.



Thursday, November 9, 2006

Not dry yet

Dear Rachel,

The GRR is not dry yet. After I washed and pressed it in a towel, I took it upstairs to the guest room, where I keep my blocking board. I spread it out and checked it the next morning, and the next afternoon, and before bed. Wet, wet, and really damp. This morning I remembered (It's been so long since I've blocked anything) that I used to turn on the ceiling fan in that room to kind of move the process along. So I turned on the fan, then put the sweater on a drying rack to help it even more. It's much closer to dry tonight. I might even wear it tomorrow. But for now:

A close-up of the raglan decrease and I-cord neckline.

The neckline is so dimensional, I mean, it's got such a great shape. I'm so glad you talked me into it.

This season's Interweave Knits is pretty good. There were three projects that I really liked and can actually see myself knitting (and wearing) sooner or later: A Cardigan for Arwen, Nantucket Jacket -- that's the cover design -- and Tweed Beret. Go here, then scroll down. Notice that Arwen calls for Debble Bliss Cashmerino Aran... sigh, drool. I would make it longer, though, probably a couple of pattern repeats. I don't like this current trend of sweaters being shorter than the shirts underneath them. Although it's better than the shirts being too short to cover up one's middle.

Well, I've bought the last of the goodies for my exchange pal, some Sander's chocolates. A Detroit original! I'm going to see if I can find a box for all this stuff and get it posted tomorrow. Have a lovely weekend!



Tuesday, November 7, 2006


Dear Rachel,

Finally, my first finished object since February (damn tendinitis!) ... the green ribbed raglan.

The neckline ended up a little higher and smaller than I envisioned it, but I'm perfectly happy with it. This picture was taken pre-blocking. I had to put it on the instant I wove in the ends. After it dries, I'll take more pictures of the details -- the raglan decreases and the I-cord neckline (which, did I mention, I love?).

It's raining cats and dogs today, and the latest issue of Interweave Knits showed up in my mailbox just now. Thank goodness we have a bit of an overhang around our porch, because otherwise it would be a sodden mass of newsprint. As it is, the pages are a little wrinkled with dampness, which really bugs me, because I like to keep these. I think I'll go make something hot to drink and leaf through my lovely wrinkled magazine until Rose wakes up.



Monday, November 6, 2006

I-cord bind-off

Dear Rachel,

I have to admit, I was a little uncertain about the I-cord bind-off.
But you know what? I love how it looks! (Yes, these are crappy pictures taken on top of my washing machine. So sue me.)

This was just some scrap yarn so I could practice how to do it. You know what? It's not hard at all -- just tedious as hell, as I expected. However, since it looks so gorgeous, I think I can deal with it. The GRR is all decreased and ready for bind-off. Now I know I can do it. Get ready for some lovely green raglany pictures tomorrow!



Thursday, November 2, 2006

Visit Cuba

Dear Rachel,

Here's our pretty little ladybug. She did not want to stand still. She was so excited about dressing up and going to see all the family, she was just dancing.

We had a nice evening, though most of it was spent in the car -- driving to Nana's, to Gramma and Grampa's, to Aunt Denise's, etc. We did walk up and down our block to visit all the neighbors after our family visits were over.

I put the GRR on some scrap yarn and tried it on. I have about another 4 or 5 inches to go before binding off, but it's been going so fast the last couple of days, I bet I'll be able to wear it for Thanksgiving. Maybe sooner.

I'm going to leave you with this picture that Andy took at a Red Robin where we had a little snack after Friday's show.

Isn't that hilarious? Visit Cuba, indeed.



Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Happy Halloween!


I'm having some trouble getting the picture links to work, but they are coming soon...

T-or-T'ing went very well - we covered 6 or 7 blocks with some of our neighbors and their little ones. We met some nice people, including a neighbor in full Scots regalia playing the bagpipes to attract trick-or-treaters! We had a nice impromtu concert right there on the street, and Lena was entranced.

Lena the Lion was a hit all around, though I chose to hurry past one house where the owners were trying to bring all the gore and fear of a horror movie to full-size life right in their front yard. you care that tiny children are forced to hear moans and screams and look at bloody, severed body parts, life-size figures wielding chain saws and human heads, etc? I know Halloween is about saluting the dark side, but geez! Put the gory stuff in the back yard where people can choose to see it if they want, not out front where toddlers are going by! Am I right people?

I heard Rose was a little Ladybug - pictures, please!

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Dear Rachel,

I've noticed over the last couple weeks that a lot of knitbloggers are celebrating Socktoberfest. It's been a little busy around here, and I wasn't ready to start another project, but I thought in honor of the occasion, and before the month is over, I'd post this:

Yes, it's my humble sock yarn stash. I'm actually not much of a stasher. I like to have a project in mind before I buy the yarn. Very rarely do I work in the other direction. But with sock yarn, well, you know what you're going to end up knitting with it.

And, lastly, here's a picture of me and my Dad from his 60th birthday dinner the other night. Happy Birthday, Dad! You're the best.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

You are So asking the wrong person...

...about funnel or mock-turtle necklines, as I dislike both. I know they're warm, but in the last few years I've really started to feel uncomfortable with all that fabric around my neck. So I vote for the I-cord neckline, which I also think will be more wearable (no indoor overheating, wearable for more than 3 months out of the year, that kind of thing). I'm also wondering about your concern about the tightness of the underarm stitches. Are they so tight that they will restrict movement or risk snapping the yarn as you move around in the finished product? Just something to be sure of before you invest so many more hours. It looks really good so far, Kim - keep it up! Either way it will be a beautiful sweater.

I'm still recovering from the trip from hell, which would be easier if Lena wasn't waking up 1-2 times per night from her cold, poor thing. In all the drama of the return trip, I forgot to share some really really cool family news. About 8 years ago, my stepmother's sister Elissa started a charity called the Global Medical Relief Fund, a foundation to help children who have who have suffered grave injuries from war or natural disaster around the world. The effort has grown by leaps and bounds and she has quit her job to chair the charity full time, which is great, and she's kind of become a local celebrity on Staten Island. Well, here's the latest development - last month she was flown out to do a taping of the Dr. Phil show, at which I would usually roll my eyes, but her charity got national exposure, and Dr. Phil gave the GMRF a check for $40,000 and endorsements on his show and web site! How cool is that - I didn't get to watch the show, but yay Elissa!

It's truly amazing what one person with a mission can accomplish, isn't it? Food for thought...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I'm taking a poll

Dear Rachel,

Look, I did it!

I started the yoke on the green ribbed raglan (henceforth to be known as the GRR). In one way, it was trickier than I thought it would be. I didn't realize that doing a three-needle bind-off to attach the sleeves to the body would tighten up the "turning radius" so much. It was very tough to get the needles around the arm stitches for the first couple of rounds because there was just no stretch in the armpits. Maybe next time I do a raglan, I'll leave the armpit stitches live on waste yarn, then do a three-needle bind-off after I've made some headway on the yoke.

So, I've got a decision to make in not too long, and I'm taking a poll: which neckline do I use?

This was the sweater that inspired me to use that green yarn for a ribbed raglan. The pattern is in the book Knitter's Stash. It uses an I-cord bind-off for the neckline, and it looks very neat and crisp.

And as an aside, the text on the photo says that the sweater "is cleverly shaped with increases and decreases." ?!? Not to be a smart-alec, but aren't most sweaters shaped with increases and decreases? Is there another way to create shaping?

Now, here is the other neckline I'm pondering: the funnel neck, or mock turtleneck as shown in the brown sweater at right. It would take more yarn, but probably not any more time (I imagine an I-cord bind-off will be fairly time-consuming).

I actually like how each neckline looks, for different reasons. I truly am having a hard time making up my mind, so please offer your opinion. And anyone else who may be out there reading this, please feel free to offer yours, as well.

As far as the other two projects go, log cabin still looks like a log cabin, and Cozy still looks like a wad of lace. They're just bigger. Maybe I'll have some pictures of them next time. I'm just so excited that the GRR looks kinda like a sweater now.



Monday, October 23, 2006

To my exchange pal...

Dear exchange pal,

Here is my questionnaire from Florence Knitingale's exchange program!

What is your favorite color?
Blue, any shade of blue. I also like earthy, foresty greens and browns a great deal.

Is there a color you dislike?
Not particularly. I’m not crazy about yellow, but I don’t dislike it.

Do you have any pets? What kind?
Yes, two indoor cats: A gray tabby named Dermot and a tortie named Nuala.

Is there any knitting-related item you’re longing to have?
The only thing I can think of is one of those nifty holders you can put the needles of a sock-in-progress in.

Are you a sock knitter?
Oh, yes!

Do you have any online wish lists?
I don’t.

Do you collect anything that isn’t terribly expensive?
I don’t really have any collections… unless you count books, CDs, or yarn. I do enjoy traditional Irish music and choral music.

What would make you smile or giggle with delight to find it in your gift box?
Really, just receiving the gift box will make me giggle with delight.

Is there anything that would make you cringe if you found it in your gift box?
Novelty yarn.

Do you have a favorite edible treat?
I have a horrible sweet tooth. Chocolate is the best, in any form, but soft candies like jelly beans and gum drops are also yummy.

Do you drink coffee, tea, cocoa, or….?
I love coffee and need it every day, just plain old coffee. Cocoa is a treat for me, and, unlike my coffee, I do enjoy it with different flavors, from cinnamon to mint to hazelnut.

Are there any dietary restrictions your pal should know about?
Nope, I like just about everything.

Do you celebrate a winter holiday of any kind and, if so, would you like to receive anything holiday themed?
I celebrate Christmas, but themed items are certainly not necessary.

This is going to be fun...


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Another Openin', Another Show

Dear Rachel,

It was so sweet of you to call and let us know you had arrived safely in New York, and to wish me well for the show. I hope you are taking lots of pictures to share.

This won't be a long post; I'm beat from the two shows and then working this morning. But I will say it was a lot of fun this weekend. It's been 16 years since I've been on the stage. I didn't think I'd ever want to do it again, but I just love this show. And when I found that one of my best friends down here was trying out for the part of Adelaide, well, I just couldn't resist. I'm so glad it worked out that both of us got cast in the parts we wanted -- singing "Marry the Man Today" with Heidi just makes my night.

I can't wait to see you next weekend. I hope everything has gone smoothly and you're home safely soon.



Monday, October 16, 2006

Andrew Kilburn causes Tigers to win AL pennant

Dear Rachel,

I didn't have time over the weekend to post much more than that quickie on WCT's Guys & Dolls being in the Free Press. It was a huge surprise to me (usually just the local paper picks up on us). Sadly, they left out our first weekend.

I'll admit, that error is nothing compared to some of the stinkers our local tends to run. For example, when Andy and I were in the high school choir, an article about our upcoming concert stated that John Rutter would be there to play the flute and the clarinet (!). Another favorite ran just before we were to be married: a photo of Andy and one of his students, with a caption identifying them as "Andrew Kilburn and his son..."

Anyhow, back to Saturday night and the ballgame. When I got home from Mass, the Tigers were losing 0 - 3. We fed Rose her dinner, gave her a bath, and put her to bed, checking in on the game from time to time. By the time we were downstairs in front of the t.v. again, the game was tied at 3. We had planned on having a pizza after Rose was asleep, but neither of us could tear ourselves away from the game. It went on and on, and we were getting hungrier and hungrier, and finally, in the bottom of the ninth, I said to Andy, "You know, if you go upstairs and order that pizza, someone will hit a home run." He said, "Alright," and went up to the kitchen to make the phone call. That's when Ordonez came up to bat (sorry, I don't know how to make Blogger do a tilde). And Andy was just coming back down the stairs when Ordonez smacked it out of the park. He saw me jumping up and down, and missed the home run. Poor Andy! But as he said, "At least we didn't have to go into extra innings."

What do you think about that?



Sunday, October 15, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006


Dear Rachel,

How about some random links today?

I love the third photo in this blog entry... it's her sock yarn stash. I'm drooling.

This clip was on Sesame Street this morning.

This color for your peanut's blanket? Or this?

I LOVE this colorway.

This is Ms. Knitingale's first post about the exchange I want to do. More details follow in later posts. By the way... you may be interested in her entry for yesterday (10/11), for reasons you will discover.

Let's see, what else?

I did what you suggested and put the live stitches of the body of the green ribbed sweater on some waste yarn so I could try the length. I decided to add another inch and a half. It probably would work at its current length, but I wanted a bit more insurance that I could reach up and not have the belly button show. It won't take much longer. And the second sleeve is already almost 5 inches long. Hooray!

I really hope I'm not to worn out to come see you Saturday. I want to do some show and tell, and get the lace pattern to you, now that you have the yarn, and see all your new loot! And we can go have yummy dinner and blab! I will let you know for sure soon.



Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Behold the Sleeve

Dear Rachel,

The first sleeve is DONE! And yes, as soon as I put the live stitches on some waste yarn and gleefully pulled the sleeve up my arm, I started this:

I am strong.

I have will power.

I can overcome second sleeve syndrome.



Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Sweater elbows and other stuff

Dear Rachel,

How are you feeling? I hope the doctor took good care of you and you're resting and recovering. I myself am doing fine, although Rose has had two colds (or maybe two flare-ups of one cold) in the last three weeks, and Andy was down with one for a few days. I only pray my luck holds out until the end of the month. I keep drinking water and taking my vitamins.

Rehearsals are not going too badly, though I'm afraid the chorus needs serious help. Our vocal director doesn't seem to be too keen on repetition, but that's really what we need. We need to just go over and over and over the parts, then sing and sing and sing them. But the solos and duets will be fantastic. Here's the show info: Guys & Dolls -- Oct. 20, 21, 27, and 28 -- curtain 7:30 p.m. -- Wilson Middle School, at Goddard and 15th. That's very close to my folks' house. I really hope you can come.

I learned this morning that it is not a good idea to knit anything that requires counting while watching Sesame Street with the daughter. No explanation needed.

In other knitting news, I've made it past the elbow on sleeve number one of the Green Ribbed Raglan. I have to make sure I make myself cast on for the second sleeve the second I put the waste yarn on the last round of this sleeve. Or this sweater may never get done.

I usually hold myself to a strict "Three project" rule. It's really less out of self-discipline than it is due to the frustration of making no headway on anything if I have too many projects on the needles. I like feeling like something is happening when I'm knitting. That said, I have to say that I've been itching to start two items that have been floating around in the back of my head. One is a pair of socks for Shannon out of that striping yarn I bought the last time we were at Ewe-nique Knits together (seems forever ago, doesn't it?), and one is a muff for caroling. You know how Andy and I sing with that Victorian Caroling group? Well, I thought I'd take this pattern from Knitty and use Paton's Wool for the cuffs and then add in a strand of (cover your ears) Fun Fur for the muff part. It would look so perfect with my costume, that is, if it turns out the way I'm envisioning it.

Then there's that other baby blanket I'm planning. I'm thinking basketweave, with a garter stitch border. What do you think?

Feel better and write soon,


Monday, September 25, 2006

I almost forgot...

Here's my next contribution to our growing YouTube addiction: Rhyming.



What a weekend...

Dear Rachel,

I'm so glad it's Monday. As I went to bed last night, I thought to myself, "I can't remember the last time I was this tired." This from a person who has a 20-month old daughter. We had our Wyandotte Heritage Days this weekend, and I wore myself out with working, festivities, and rehearsals. This was Saturday: the man who is playing Sky came over at 9am to practice our duets and run lines. He left around 11:30, we ate, put Rose down for her nap, and changed into our historical costumes. Lauren came over to watch Rose, and we went to the park to sing old songs from 1 to 4. I actually left a little early so I could get changed back into normal clothes before going to church to play Mass. Then it was back to the park to play guitar for a special outdoor Mass (Fr. Ray looks great in a cassock! I should have brought my camera!). I got home for the last time around 7:30, starved but too tired to do anything about it. Andy came down from putting Rose to bed and volunteered to get Chinese. Kung Pao chicken, yum!

Okay, Sunday: church all morning, more singing in the park in costume all afternoon, Guys And Dolls rehearsal from 4 to 8:30, Chinese leftovers, and bed. It was a fun weekend, it's just that it was so non-stop. I just ached from weariness. Today I feel much better.

And here's the nearly-current status of log cabin (I picked up another color right after I took this picture):

Like I said on the phone, it's 16 inches wide now (17 inches long), and I think a 32 inch wide blanket will be a good size. Of course, I could run out of yarn, or I could get tired of it before then, but we'll see.

Here's Cozy, just in case you were wondering about it. As you can see, we're getting ready to have some Fall in the house. Today is turning out to be a gorgeous day. When Rose wakes up, we're going to have a walk with the wagon, which she insists on calling "doo-doo." She used to call it "wagon," but now it's "go in doo-doo." And when we say, "Honey, it's called a wagon," she says, "go in wagon doo-doo." You gotta wonder what goes on in those baby brains.



Wednesday, September 20, 2006

You can't tell a hero by his size...

I'm just a teeny little Superguy.

Ohhhh yeah!

Another favorite Sesame Street moment - check out the awesome stop-motion animation!

And by the way -

Did the Golden Girls give you permission to raid their closets, or did you just wait until bingo night and sneak in?

Off to search for embarassing 1980's photos,


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Kim circa 1986

Dear Rachel,

Remember our conversation about fashions we wore as teenagers? How we were the height of cool with our two pairs of socks stacked and scrunched around the outside of our tapered, pegged jeans? Okay, check out the following number:

This was Spring of 1986. Check out where the armpit of this dress is! Dude, and do you love the white nylons (with black pumps)? I wore this for my Confirmation, and I thought I was so cool and sophisticated.

I posted Rose's aran sweater to my Finished Projects and realized, to my shock, that I have no more finished projects to post. I finished that sweater in February and it is now September, and I have finished nothing else in the past seven months! Now, I did have that wrist issue, and I was a little hesitant to get back in the groove even after I had the cortizone shot, but still -- seven months? Yikes.

However, the log cabin continues apace, and I've really hit my stride with the Cozy, so I hope that before long I'll have something else to show you. I'm really sorry we didn't get our Show and Tell on Saturday.

As far as the Sesame Street videos go, there are way too many for me to list my favorites, but this one would be way up there: Imagination. And, Rachel? "Cat... I'm a kitty cat... and I dance, dance, dance, and I dance, dance, dance..." tee hee hee



Monday, September 18, 2006

Ok, now it is ON!

I couldn't watch the entire I'm a Kitty Cat video for fear that little tune would tunnel holes in my brain (you are pure evil for spreading that kind of stuff!), and Tarako seriously re-inforced my complete sense of "whaaaa..?" when I watch almost anything Japanese. I had to admire the Simpsons vs. Star Trek, but it was the Sesame Street clip, of course that really got me going.

Behold the funkaliciousness of Pinball Countdown.

I think I may have started a vintage Sesame Street binge (show me more of your faves!), but for now, That is All.


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Videos (non-knitting)

Dear Rachel,

As I write this, I can hear Rose on the monitor reciting "Brown Bear." It sounds exactly like this: "Bahm beh, bahm beh, hah hah haaah? Ah see reh bir hah hah haaah. Reh bir, reh bir, hah hah haaah? Ah see lellow guck hah hah haaah. Lellow guck, lellow guck..." You get the idea. I'll have to go up and give her some milk and a book in a few minutes, so here are the videos I promised.

This is what got me started, a little trip down memory lane: Twenty

Then a bit of bizarre music mixing: The Simpsons vs Star Trek

Are you still with me? Okay, this apparently has something to do with pasta sauce: Tarako

And finally, this is the one you have to see, even if you didn't watch the others: I'm a kitty cat



Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Knitter Triumphant

Dear Rachel,

I have done the amazing, the unthinkable. I have averted tragedy. I have... tinked lace!

It was Friday night. The Tigers were losing. I was knitting Cozy. The game was going downhill. I looked down at my hands, and *gasp*!

Do you see how the pattern basically consists of staggered stacks of two pairs of yarnovers? This is possibly the simplest lace pattern that exists. Please don't get me wrong. I love this pattern, I love the way it looks, otherwise I wouldn't be knitting it. But it's simple. Yet I managed to screw it up -- and not for the first or even third time.

Rachel, remember when I was trying to knit this pattern in the purple alpaca and it just wasn't coming together? That yarn just did not agree with this pattern, and the mistake kept happening. Instead of two stacked pairs, I came up with three stacked pairs. When it happened in the alpaca, it happened early on, and I just frogged the whole thing. Because I didn't know how to fix it otherwise. After I did this three (yes, three) times, I decided to use the alpaca for something else.

I didn't give up on the alpaca just because of my ineptitude, though. I saw how it came out in stockinette for Lena's sweater, and loved how it looked and felt. But for the lace, even though it was soft, it was hard to see the pattern of the yarnovers and the leaning decreases, and I wasn't "reading" the lace to see the logic of how one row builds on another. I was just blindly following the chart, and using my feeble brain to remember which row I was on, and thus ending up with three stacked pairs.

Now in this new yarn, I had repeated the mistake. The Tigers had lost the game. I was angry, tired, and I just wanted to go to bed. When I woke up the next morning, I was fresh, and I had the smallest idea in my head to try to salvage the situation. I figured, if I mess up, the worst that can happen is I'll have to frog the whole thing, and if I don't even try, I'll have to frog the whole thing anyway.

I carefully pulled the needle out, slowly ripped back the offending rows, then re-inserted the needle one loop at a time as I pulled the final row out. I made sure it was a purl row; no psso or k2tog to complicate things. I wasn't positive that I got all the loops oriented the right way, but at least they were all on the needle again. Then, after I counted and re-checked the chart, I carefully put the thing down, stood up, and did a little dance. The dance of triumph! The dance of successful lace tinking! Andy was so -- well, I like to think he was feeling supportive, although he was probably feeling more relief that he wouldn't have to deal with crazy mad yarn lady frogging out this project and starting all over again.

The yarn I'm using now makes the lace much easier to read than the fuzzy alpaca. I can actually look at the fabric and say: knit, yarnover, knit, yarnover, knit, double decrease; oh, that was row 7 and I purled back, so I'm back on row 1. Makes me feel like I actually kinda know what I'm doing. Weird.



Friday, September 8, 2006

What's happening to the time?

Dear Rachel,

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

I swear to you, since we've started this blog, I've spent much more time playing around with it and reading other people's blogs than knitting. This was supposed to encourage my progress, not halt it. Now, I grant you, I have been having fun, but I can't tell you how many times I've said to myself while sitting at the computer, "Why am I not knitting?" and "I really should be knitting," and then continued to stare at the freaking monitor. Argh. Not to mention the lines I need to be memorizing for Guys and Dolls.

Here's our much improved Dermot modeling Cozy:

My camera won't let me take extreme closeups. I wanted to show the stitches themselves, but all I got each time I tried was an off-white blur with some holes in it.

Really, the project I'm working on the most is the Log Cabin. It's 15" across and I'm using a 16" circular needle. I think I can make it work for a couple more strips, but when it gets too bunched up, can I borrow your #5 Options tips with the longest cable? :)

In baby news, Rose had her first violin "lesson" yesterday. I thought I'd die of cuteness.



Thursday, September 7, 2006

When Square is a Good Thing

Just a quick post to give you a link to these groovy square needles I was telling you about. They're supposed to be very nice for people who experience hand and wrist pain when they knit, and they also happen to be quite pretty. What do you think?

*And who am I kidding - square is not only a good thing, it's pretty much a way of life for um... some people I know. *

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Dear Kim,
Oy, I'm already falling so far behind! I'd like to commend you on your wonderful posts, complete with pictures, no less! I would have loved to feast my eyes on that knitted wedding cake, but don't beat yourself up about not having your camera - I know I seldom went to a gig thinking "Gee, better take my camera just in case someone knits a three-tier pastry and I need to document it!"

It sounded like a lovely wedding (ah, to sing under that dome!) except for the professional ballroom dancers. For some reason, that just didn't sound right to me. I'm sure we've both seen stranger things at weddings, but while the Irish dancers were a cool nod to the couple's heritage, it just seems that the ballroom dancers were a little, ummm, Solid Gold for my taste. Well, perhaps we don't need to drag Marilyn McCoo into this, but really, it's a wedding, not a variety hour.

Ok, enough grumpiness and let's get down to the knitty gritty :0). I think the weird stitches will probably even out for you as you keep knitting and your fingers get to know the yarn better, but either way, the miracle of blocking will probably make it all a bad dream anyway. Otherwise, I think it looks wonderful so far. Log Cabin is looking awesome, so colorful and happy! I can't wait to see how it turns out, and if you will ever want to do a garter stitch project again once it's done. I am totally motivated to pick up the needles now, and yes, I think that KnitPicks gift certificate a certain darling friend gave me is about to get sqandered on Options needles. Once I have them I will swatch like a demon and give a full report.

Knitting has been on the back burner, though, due to, you know, stuff. Nik-Nik is sick and through the magic of black-light sensitive dye we've discovered that both she and Hecky are continuing Gavin's grand old tradition of using the entire public area of the basement as their toilet. At least they have not decided to continue his wonderful habit of using the dining room and Lena's room as well (sigh).

We are going to look for a new home for Nicky, but Hecky, well, he's a different story. Hecky was Steve's first cat, given to him when he was just a few weeks old (Hecky, that is) and Steve made a promise that he would take care of him his entire life. Despite the fact that I've demonstrated Hecky's lack of long-term memory, Steve feels bound by his word and his affection for Hecky to see this thing through no matter what. The next step is to try to re-crate train Hecky once Nicky is gone, but if that doesn't work I think I'm going to either demand Hecky's ouster (I know making demands in marriage is Not Recommended, but I have reached a nadir of desperation) or I'm just moving to the state with the lowest cat-to-human ratio until Hecky goes to cat heaven.

We are having a garage sale this weekend, and let's just say preparation to date has been minimal. I'll be working on it in the afternoons and evenings and actually, I'm totally ok with all the work to get ready, because everything that doesn't sell goes to charity and is not allowed to re-enter the house. Hooray! Once we get the garage sale stuff out and the cat waste management issue resolved, I'm going to have professional cleaners come in haz-mat uniforms and clean the basement and then - wait, I have to get a tissue - we'll actually be able to make the basement livable space! *sniffle, sniffle, wipe* I'll let you know how that is going in my next post, which at this rate will be early next week (I'll include photos of knit stuff too, just to keep up the fiction that this is a knitting blog ;0)).

Give Rosie and Andy hugs, and I hope Dermie is feeling better even as you read this. Maybe if you rubbed him with a dryer sheet or something, he'd smell more like home? Anyway, keep knitting - someone has to!


Monday, September 4, 2006

My Big Fat Irish Wedding

Dear Rachel,

I knew I should have taken my camera with me last night. Kilmullen (our Irish trio: Andy, me and our friend Mike Mullen) had a gig at a wedding reception in St. Clair Shores. It took place at a beautiful old country club on Lake St. Clair. There was a menu from 1929 with wonderful graphics framed and hung on the wall of the bar. The dance floor was round, covered by a sky blue dome, and right in the middle of the ballroom. There were original (I mean original) GE fans mounted on the columns that surrounded the dance floor, and the reverb under the dome was incredible.

The bride's parents were from Ireland. They had come here to work, had their family, then when all the kids were grown, they moved back to Ireland and retired. So half of the bride's family were speaking with brogues, which just about killed all three of us. They liked our music, which was a relief.

We played right on the dance floor as the guests came in, took a break during the toasts, then played all through dinner. As we packed up to leave, the bridal couple and party had their dance, and then professional ballroom dancers came out and put on a performance! And then, step dancers in traditional costume came and danced, too!

Okay, but here is really why I should have brought my camera: as we left the club, we passed the table that had held all the table assignments. It also held photos of the couple, mementos, a guest book, you know, all the usual things. There was also a decoration. A knitted wedding cake! Three tiers! White! Frosting! Flowers! Knitted!

Why didn't I bring my camera?



Saturday, September 2, 2006

Cats, sweater, and needles

Dear Rachel,

Dermot's been home for a couple of days now, and he's pretty pitiful. They sent him home with pain medication and antibiotics, and you know how fun it is to give cats medicine. But I manage to get him to swallow most of it, so he's all doped up now and lies around even more than he ever did. The vet told us to keep him from running around too much or jumping. I just laughed. Nuala doesn't even know who he is anymore (apparently he still smells like hospital) and hisses at him whenever she gets within a yard of where he is currently sleeping. He just lies there.

I managed to get a couple shots of the green ribbed sweater.

I used the sleeve as my swatch and I work on it here and there when I want a portable project. I'm a little puzzled by how some of my stitches are turning out -- I don't know if it's the yarn, the transition from knit to purl, or my technique, but I usually have fairly even stitches.

It's not easy to see in this picture -- though you can click to enlarge -- but some of the stitches in the very left of the knit ribs (last knit stitch before switching to purl) are wonky. They seem bigger, loopier, than the others. I'm hoping this can be worked out in the blocking (famous last words, I know).

In other knit news, Yarn Harlot recently wrote about how much she is enjoying the new Knit Picks Options. You and I had talked about these, and how tempting they are. Now with The Harlot endorsing them, as well as Knitter's Review, well, let me just say I don't know how long I can hold out.

I read in AAA Michgan Living that there will be a Sheep and Wool Festival in Romeo on September 23 and 24. Does that sound like an adventure to you? I'd also love to drive up to your neck of the woods soon and visit Have You Any Wool for that Regia Bamboo sock yarn as well as The Knitting Room (I heard KR stocks Koigu. Must find out if it's true). Let me know what you think (not that you don't have anything else going on).