If you're not knitting, the terrorists win

(My mostly on-topic ramblings about knitting. And life in general. My life in specific.)

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Location: Indiana, United States

I'm a middle aged mother of 2 grown children and wife to a man who doesn't seem to mind my almost heroin-like yarn addiction. I spend my time writing, knitting, and generally stressing out.

Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Ends

Here we are at the end of the year. But let’s not reflect. Reflection is so… Facebookish. And let’s not make resolutions for the future, either. Resolutions tend to put a lot of stress on a person.

Instead, let’s talk about the future in a general sort of way, shall we?

Besides World Peace, there is just one thing I would like to see happen in the New Year. Since we are talking about Facebook, I would like to see people stop acting like jackasses on Facebook. I am so hesitant to sign on at all these days because I just can’t stand to read all the shit that spews out of people’s keyboards. Oversharing (I don’t need to know about how drunk you are or about your bodily functions in general), rude behavior (no one wants to hear you trash your spouse, no matter how mad you are at him/her), and downright idiocy (you have the rights to your beliefs, but name-calling and fabrication are just childish).

Seriously, you would not act this way to someone’s face. You would not act this way in public. Why should you act like this on Facebook?

Other than that, I’m pretty easy about what I’d like to do in 2013. I’d like to do more writing (although any writing I do will, technically, be more). I’d like to learn to Viking Knit with my new drawplate. I’d like to get better results from my tomato garden. I’d like to be able to use some of the compost from my composter (which looks a lot less like compost and a lot more like garbage to me). I’d like to have a little more creativity, a little more energy, and a little less of those terrible moments when I forget my words. You know what I’m talking about. Some people call them “senior moments.”

As I am not a senior, I will not be referring to them in that way.

What I imagine is the inside of my brain being like a giant computer—circuit boards, switches, wires. And Pepe, my hapless alter ego, is running down the corridor with a cup of tea. I start to say something like “Of course, the eventual downfall of the character is foreshadowed by her inability to—”

And that’s where Pepe trips.

Oh, he tries to make it up to me. He hands me a word like vertebrate. After I slap him, he hands me another word. Vertebrate. And again. Vertebrate. And again. Vertebrate. Until there is no possible way my brain can remember the word vocalize because its meaning is now forever tied to the word vertebrate.

Thanks a whole effin lot, Pepe. And after I let you live in my brain, too!

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Looking forward in a general sort of way to 2013. I wish you much... much...

Oh, God damn it, Pepe.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Amazing Things You Can Learn From Pinterest

Pinterest is an interesting site. It allows you to share bookmarks with others—friends, strangers, and basically everyone who creates an account. I don’t know how I feel about that, but I have found some very interesting bookmarks on Pinterest.

What’s really interesting is when others have pinned the pins—and others pin those pins, and so on. There are times when you are looking at a repin of a repin of a repin of a—ha! You get the idea.

I found such a pin (and repined it myself) about growing plants from things you would normally throw away. Some of the pinners had experimented, with success, growing green onions from the root ends of onions they had previously used. A few of them had used the same technique with romaine lettuce, bok choy, and other vegetables.

So I tried it. Here is the green onion I started with (in a repurposed tea bottle. See how green I am?) I only had one at this point.

And here is the romaine lettuce I tried.

And here they are on day three. You can see a little bit of growth.

And on day 5 you can really see the difference.

Sadly, on day 7, the romaine lettuce (which had been doing so well) was a soggy, rotten mess and had to be thrown own. But the onion… look at that! I also added two more.

And here they are on day 9.

I am looking forward to my never-ending green onions. (And to thwarting the green onion consortium, which causes the price of green onions to skyrocket in the winter. I mean, seriously. If they're this easy to grow, why are they $1 a bunch in December?)

And by the way, what else can I grow in the window?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Look At Patwoman's Christmas Gifts

As promised, here is a look at some of the great Christmas gifts I received this year.

This book, Vogue Knitting’s Ultimate Hat Book, for example.

It has a lot of great hat patterns in it. I’m looking forward to knitting several of these patterns for myself.

I also received this draw plate and dowel set for Viking Knitting from R.

I’ve wanted to learn that technique for quite a while. Now I have no excuse for not trying it out. Ha!

M also gifted me with this:

The Game of Thrones Unofficial Cookbook. It’s filled with recipes inspired by The Game of Thrones, like Sansa Stark’s Boars Ribs and Lannister Beef. Very interesting reading, although I don’t see myself preparing much venison or lamprey or pigeon meat. (Not after last time, at least.)

I also received this from T:

Say what you will, but you know I’m correct. The Bee Gees were the masters of harmony. This anthology makes me happy.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Sick. Snowed In. Plus A Free Knitting Pattern

I hope you had a wonderful holiday and that you were with people you love. I certainly was. M and her bf, R and his gf, T, the cats, dog, and me. It was a nice, relaxed holiday.

Although I was still quite sick. Still am, actually. Yesterday, we did presents at 8 am. Then, all the kids went off and did stuff at their SO's families' celebrations and T and I passed out took a nap on the couch.

For, like 3 hours.

Then, I got up, made a very simple Christmas dinner (Thank God for fully-cooked, spiral sliced ham and boxes au gratin potatoes!) and pretty much crashed again. Today, I have yet to move from my comfy spot on the couch. (Thank God for laptops and wifi.)

It's just as well. We got dumped on by snow last night and this morning, as did many of you, I'm sure. Nine inches here, which I have to admit is actually Snow. Unlike the snow we usually see--two inches and people are running to the grocery store for bread, milk, and eggs! (I personally don't like french toast enough to worry about it, but whatever.) Seriously, people. I don't shovel two inches of snow out of the driveway.

But nine inches is respectable. That's the official measurement from the noon news, btw. It's still snowing and they say it might snow until about 6 pm. We could see another 4-6 inches.

I hope you all are safe and warm. Tomorrow I will post some pictures of some Christmas gifts I received and gave. Unfortunately, I just feel too bad to get up and take pictures.

Instead, I will pass this on to you: Tin Can Knits is offering a free pattern between now and January 1, 2013. Just go to their website, choose a pattern, and use the code SHARETHELOVE to receive the pattern for free. (Thanks to Katie for passing this on to me.)

And there are some spectacular knits there. I chose the Drift shawl. I love the texture and movement of that pattern! But, I gotta say, there are such lovely patterns there, you're gonna want more than one.

Thanks again to Tin Can Knits for their generosity.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Well, Isn't That Just...

I'm sick.

I should have known, really. I had just decided to give up on The Year Of The Afghan, since simple math (Available Time Before Christmas - Amount Left To Knit = Mission Impossible) tells me I am not going to finish. I will just gift the afghans a little after Christmas.

Yeah, that sucks, but I've got to say, the relief is palpable. I feel like I might actually get some other things done that need to be done--shopping, wrapping, etc. And I might actually get to enjoy Christmas Eve celebrations.

Rather, I should say I felt like that. You know that when The Forces Of The Universe detect those types of feelings, they have to realign in order to crush them.

So I am sick. Missed work today and have been asleep the whole day. I was hoping to wake up and miraculously feel fantastic, but so far... not so much. Going back to bed. Here's hoping this is just a 24 hour thing.

Friday, December 21, 2012

It's The End Of The World As We Know It...

And I feel fine.

Sorry to make a 90's song reference there. I couldn't resist.

As you can see, all those people on Facebook were wrong. The world did not end on 12-21-12. I was actually rather surprised at how much attention people were giving the whole Mayan Calendar Apocalypse thing.

Everyone knows zombies are going to end the world, not Mayans.

I have had a good time watching all those Nostradamus/apocalypse/asteroid impact/alien invasion shows on Science Channel, though. Way to cash in, Science Channel.

Not that I'm any better. This is my sign for the cafe' at the store. I'm serving a Kool-Aid punch tonight. Is that in bad taste? It is, after all, an Indiana tradition.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's Christmas Everywhere

You know, I really am missing at least a box of Christmas ornaments and another box filled with household decorations. Sigh. They are somewhere in that mass of boxes in the garage, I suspect.

I'd pretty much decided not to put out the Christmas stuffies anyway. You know, when your kids are little and it's Christmas, everyone gets them some sort of themed Christmas stuffed animal. We have polar bears, cats, dogs, and moose in Santa hats; geese, bears, cats, dogs, and dinosaurs with scarves and hats on; stuffed trees, bells, ornaments, snowmen, and Santas.

As the kids got older, or bored with them, I put them away with the Christmas decorations. Then when we put up the tree, I put a bunch of stuffed toys under the tree. It looked really great! I also used to line the hall with them, put them on the couch, or in odd places to be spotted.

Last year, however, Achilles took a disliking to them. He eyed them suspiciously every time he passed one. Eventually, he just started slapping them until they were face down.

So I don't mind not having those, I guess.

I do mind not having the box with the stocking hangers in it. Here are the stockings I made for the family, draped over the back of the couch.

Oh, and take a look at this...

I found this ceramic tree at Goodwill a few weeks back for a couple of dollars.

When T and I were first married, my mom gave us a tree like this for our first Christmas. It had little plastic ornaments in holes so that a light placed inside the tree will shine through and light up the ornaments. Well, apparently we lost that tree in one of our moves. So when I found this one at Goodwill, I snapped it up.

It reminds me of Mom.

Oh, wait a minute... What did I title this post? It's Christmas Everywhere? Ok. This is me getting to the point. Ha!

As we were putting up the tree this year, there were several ornaments that were missing their tops. Now, I'm pretty sure I didn't put away ornaments without tops, but the tops were not in the boxes. What the...?

Ever resourceful, I put them all in a glass salad bowl (with an embossed leaf and fruit pattern on it--bonus!) and buried a string of clear lights in it. Then I put this in the hall bathroom. It looks great on its own, but in the dark, it provides a guiding night light for guests.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Some Of My Own Ornaments

This lovely snowman from my Rav swap partner has joined the Christmas memories on my tree.

You can see several of my own hand-knitted ornaments, too. Like this bell.

I made it several years ago, so I don't remember which pattern I used. I'm pretty sure you can find one like it on the internet, though. It's done with short rows and each bell takes about half an hour to complete. I put a jingle bell inside this one, which was probably a mistake, since it now bears strong resemblance to a cat toy.

Or you can make one of these from this pattern.

These lace ornaments are not an original idea. I don't really have a pattern for them, but I will tell you exactly how they are made.

This one is a garter stitch square. I cast on about 15 stitches on a largish needle with crochet cotton and knitted a square. Bind off. Put a glass ornament inside and draw the square up around it, stretching the stitches a bit. Thread some ribbon through the top and tie in as fancy a bow as you like.
This one is a drop stitch ornament. Three rows knit all stitches; one row K1, *YO, K1; next row knit, but drop all the YOs. Repeat this pattern until the piece is long enough to cover your ornament with a little left at the top and bottom.

The construction's a little different, too. It's knitted flat, then seamed into a tube. I threaded ribbon through the top and the bottom and tied a bow at each end.

These lace ornaments are fun and quick and highly customizable. They're also a great way to give life to some ornaments that may be looking a little old.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Few Of My Favorite Christmas Ornaments

I love the way my tree has a million different ornaments on it. Each one of them holds some memory for me. I actually have ornaments from the very first Christmas tree T and I had as a married couple. They're a little worn and some of them have the tops glued on now, but they're on there.

Here are some of my favorite Christmas ornaments. You'll have to excuse the poor lighting in these pictures. Apparently I need a flash. (I don't want you to think I live in a cave. There's actually plenty of light for the naked eye. Just not for the camera, I guess.)

This is one of a couple of lace snowflakes/stars I knitted myself. I have a couple of crocheted snowflakes that were made by Tim's grandma Oma and by my mom, but they have gotten yellowed over the years and look especially bad this year. I decided to try and see if I could wash them carefully and re-stiffen them with something that wouldn't yellow. Any thoughts?

I also knitted these. Very easy pattern. I posted about them when I made them a couple of years ago. I will try and dig up that pattern in the next couple of days.

These two are also handmade by Oma. Embroidery and cross stitch. Oma was a multi-crafter. She knitted, crocheted, sewed, quilted, did woodwork... I'm not sure if there was anything she didn't at least try.

Of course, I have ornaments made by R--including this one.

This is one M made in grade school.

And these are some M and I made together a few years ago:

Here are some that I bought at craft shows, too. I thought this angel, made from beads and lace was really clever. And surprisingly difficult. I tried to copy this, but the face ended up looking deformed, alien, or downright deranged in all my attempts.

Grandma Mouse:

Beaded snowflake, beaded chandelier, and beaded star:

I'm pretty sure there is another box of ornaments still in the garage, because there are some I am missing. Like M's tea-dyed stocking and R's glittery pine cone. But, you know, after you put so many ornaments on the tree people start saying things like "Mom, enough." and "Aren't we done yet?" and "Holy crap! What do you mean there are more?"

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Few Christmas Memories

Decorating the tree when I was a kid was usually something my brothers and I did. (And after Rick and Mike were gone, it was something that fell to me and Chuck.) I'm sure I have some photos that show the tree a little better, but this one gives you the idea, in case you've never seen a vintage '60s-era aluminum tree.

You can find these actual trees online now, btw. Isn't the internet wonderful?

We had an array of glass ornaments (and in the late 70s, some of the trendy "satin" ones), ceramic ornaments, paper ornaments, ornaments my mom crocheted, and ornaments we kids made at school over the years. Putting those ornaments on the tree was like looking through a scrapbook.

We also had a color wheel. A color wheel, if you've never seen one, shines a light through a colored lens (on a wheel) up at the tree, creating slowly-shifting colors on your aluminum tree.

Chuck used to love the color wheel. As a very small child, he would often fall asleep under the Christmas tree, watching the colors change.

After the tree, we would always put up the cardboard fireplace. It had a light bulb that had a little propeller thing (I know there is a word for this, but I can't think of it right now) on top that turned with the heat convection from the light bulb. That would give it a flickering effect as the light shined through the red tissue flames on the cardboard logs. It really was quite ingenious.

Chuck and I had little jokes where we would pretend to warm ourselves by the fire. Ha! On a side note, the other day, T and I were at Sam's Club and passed a display television with a fireplace screensaver. T pretended to warm his hands by the fire. It made me laugh, just like it always has.

As a child, we also had a nativity set that we carefully put up in the living room. Now, I remember getting this set. I was so little--I must have been, because we had it for so long--and the details are sketchy, but...

We would go to Robin Hood Department store once a week for these figures. Robin Hood was very small by today's standards. The store, not including the attached auto shop was about 2000 square feet (I'm guessing from memory. It's not there any more.) I'm not sure why we went there so often other than the nativity, but Robin Hood is the place we got ribbon candy at Christmastime, too.

Anyway, we would go once a week in the weeks leading up to Christmas and we would get one or two of the figures. It was pretty exciting. And, at Christmas, we ended up with a whole nativity scene.

Of course, when we were little, we didn't just set up the nativity for display. We played with that set, too. Not sure what we were doing, maybe reenacting the story of the birth of Christ? But, these things got pretty banged up over the years. They got chips and cracks (and a flat-out break on one) and the paint wore off in places.

Still, I wish I had that set now. After Mom died, Dad gave away all the Christmas decorations, including the nativity and our hand-made ornaments.

Early on (maybe not our first Christmas, but definitely the second or third) T and I bought this lovely nativity set for our family tradition.

I still get to be the one to set it up.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Little Christmas Spirit

Ugh! I get so stressed around the holidays! It just seems like there is never enough time!

Of course, I am behind on my Christmas Knitting, as usual. I've already pared down my list radically. (Poor T will not get a knitted gift this year. But I know he understands.) And I still might not finish!

Every year, I go down to the @#$%&*! wire. What is wrong with me?

So in the interest of preserving my sanity, I'm posting some pictures here of my holiday traditions and decorations. So this is partly for you, Gentle Reader, and partly for me. Seeing and reminiscing makes me less stressed.

One of our yearly traditions is the tree. In the past, we'd take all evening to set up, light, and decorate the tree. Of course, now that everyone is grown, it makes it a little difficult to get everyone together for that long. So, this year, Achilles and I saved time by setting up the tree beforehand.

Achilles loves the Christmas tree.

Most of my December, btw, is typically spent saying "Achilles! Get out of the tree!"

I like a very large, green tree. When I was little, we had a small aluminum tree (who remembers those?) and I was always awed by the folks who had those giant, green trees. But, you know, it was the 60's and aluminum was cool. (Wasn't it?) And my dad was not a huge fan of decorating for Christmas anyway.

We never decorated the outside of the house, for instance. Waste of time. Waste of electricity. Waste of money. My mom, however, would put us in the car and drive by other people's decorated houses to see the lights. To this day, I could point out four or five of my favorite decorated houses (but I can't tell you exactly where most of my friends lived).

I always loved doing that--driving around to look at lights. It was fun and my mom enjoyed it as much as we did. And it was something that we did with Mom. Back in those days, you didn't worry about gas (it was like 38 cents a gallon!) so a half hour drive was no big deal in that respect.

Sometimes you could see people's Christmas trees in the front window, all lit up. And that was really cool. Some people had green trees; some had white ones; some had the same mod aluminum tree we did. Some trees had themes--all one color or all icicle shaped ornaments or all teddy bears or the like. But my favorites were always the ones with a variety of decorations. There just seemed to be so much going on!

Since becoming an adult, I've shared the story of driving around and looking at lights with others. Apparently it was something a lot of families did--either because they couldn't afford the lights, or just didn't decorate the house, or religious differences precluded it.

Anyway, that's probably why I go big now. Not because I feel I missed out on anything--or not just because of that--but because I remember how happy looking at all the decorations made me as a child.

I have the very largest tree my living room can hold and I am continually buying and making ornaments to go on them. At first glance, it seems ostentatious--an obnoxious overstatement of the holiday--and it has been suggested to me by "friends" that maybe I don't need such a large tree.

But I like it. And I like all the ornaments on it. It's not an ego thing. It's not a bid for attention. It's really more of a way for me to remember the previous holidays and celebrate the ones to come.

More on this later...

Monday, December 03, 2012

You Have To Look Inside The Package!

I showed M my beautiful swap package when she stopped by to supervise the Christmas lighting of the house. She really liked the cup, but she said "What's inside the cup?"

"What?" I said. "What do you mean?"

"The lid is taped down." She pointed out.

And it was. But I just assumed it was to keep the lid from jangling around and breaking en route. So I hadn't untaped it yet. (Although it was my plan to have some special hot cocoa tonight, since I am off work. And, by "special" I mean half filled with Amaretto liqueur, of course.)

Off with the tape, and inside was...

This fantastic snowman ornament!


Thanks again, Persis!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

My Swap Package Is Here!

I'm so excited. I got home from work last night to find a package had arrived in the mail. What fun!

It is from Persis and it is just full of surprises!


Achilles is curious. Are you?


A cup with a coaster lid! A sweet little snowman notepad! A hand knitted facial cloth with 2 snowflake soaps! Delicious almond butter crunch candies! All in this lovely felt bag!

And what's that I see? The snowman has a secret?

Look what's inside!


Achilles had to try on the hat and scarf for himself.

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