Saturday, May 30, 2009

Yarn Harlot

The eagerly awaited visit of The Yarn Harlot, aka Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, to Dallas became reality last night. Stephanie was here to meet with knitters and to sign her new book "Free-Range Knitter" at Legacy Bookstore which is actually located in Plano. As knitters began to arrive they waited patiently for Stephanie by knitting on whatever project they had brought with them and chatting about all things knit. There were socks galore of course but there were also scarves, shawls, green knit grocery sacks and beading on knitting. There was wool, alpaca, cotton and yes, even some cashmere for good measure. Stephanie was prompt in her arrival and talked for 45 minutes straight about knitting. She had been in Austin the night before and if you have followed her blog you know that she has had some trouble with Mercury in Retrograde. Seems like everything that could go wrong has. But she was fun and funny, yaknow. Only once in a while did her Canadian come out. I wondered how she liked being in Texas but of course we Texans have no accent or common words, am I right ya'll? After her talk she graciously said she would sign all books and talk to everyone. She has got to be tired. The woman never stops and if you read her blog you know she has had some pretty stressful times trying to get the Sock Summit ready. But there she sat signing books and taking her own pictures of us as we took pictures of her. Well, I say sat but she was up and down out of her chair posing for pictures, taking pictures and holding the babies of course. I had always envied people who had actually been able to meet Stephanie. I mean I've read all her books. This is the woman that redeemed the value of knitting socks for me after I had had some bad relationships with four size 3 needles and and sock yarn. When I got her book "Knitting Rules" and used her Basic Sock Recipe, well let's just say I was addicted for life on knitting socks. That is my sock I am knitting that she is holding. When her tour schedule was posted I could not believe she was actually coming here and that I would get to meet her. Immediately the date went on the calendar. The Ravelry groups in this area all became excited that she was coming and we chatted back and forth about her books and where the bookstore was and how early we would have to leave since it was on a Friday and traffic on North Dallas Tollway on a normal day is well let's just say challenging. In the end it was a super evening. Stephanie in person is the same as the Stephanie in her books. When you read about the squirrel who steals her fleece or the fact that she has to find her knitting needle that has been eaten somehow by the car and it does not make any difference that the car has to be turned in or that you might have more needles exactly like that, you think yeah, that is me. I think that is part of what makes her so well liked. She is real. She has kids, a husband, challenges with her appliances and she is passionate about knitting and knitters. So thanks Steph for a very fun evening. Now I need to go knit on a sock.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Still Have a Cold

I still have a cold. At least I am now to the stage that I can blow my nose some. Now that I have disgusted everyone I am going to post some really nice pictures. These are from Wiggins Pass in Naples, Florida. My sister lives there and we have walked along this beach picking up shells and watching the pelicans. It looks very peaceful which it is as long as you look this way. On the way back is a view of the condos that line the beach. I prefer the view in these pictures.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dang Cold!

I am not talking about the cold weather. I have had a cold since this weekend and I am tired of it. Because RA compromises your immune system it makes you more susceptible to illness. This means that you might more easily catch something, like a cold, that someone else might not. So here I sit sniffing and blowing my nose. So here is a picture of Jo doing I am not sure what but I know she makes me laugh.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some Days Are Just Wonderful

After being somewhat... depressed this last week because of being tired and have some RA flare up, today was so much fun. Allison, Jo and Scout came over to visit. We ended up meeting Uncle Daisey at the new El Fenix in Irving. Yes, after living in this town since 1963, man that is a long time, we now have an El Fenix. I mean it is five minutes from my house. Yum. Anyway, we ate lunch and then stopped by Target. After we got back to the house Jo wanted to go to the park to slide. That being done she then reminded us that we had not been to Braum's in a long time. So we went for ice cream. I gave Scout the "chewable blankie" and she immediately started hugging it. So that was a success. I then decided to go ahead and give Scout the floppy hat I had made earlier. It is a little big but I thought she could wear it to keep off the sun. My girls gave me a huge sack of yarn today. Eighteen skeins of a variety of colors and weights. It was great. Not just because it was a surprise but because it was a sack of love and understanding. Sometimes I can be pretty crabby, well maybe downright gripey. Sometimes I am tired and overwhelmed. Sometimes the RA, well I just want to kick it in the butt. But it is here to stay and this tender gift of love and fun did more to raise my spirits than anything I can think of, well except spending time with my favorite girls.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Chewable Afghan?

I finished the newest car blankie today. This is for Scout. Allison had e-mailed me and asked for a new blankie for Scout because for some reason her purple and green camo one seems to be fuzzing. I have used the Bernat Camo for a lot of stuff and this is really the first time I have had it fuzz. Of course when you are two and a half months old you want stuff in your mouth. So I whipped up this little 12" square car blankie to see how she likes it. There are always bad things said about knitter's stash but this was one time when it was good to have, well let's say a decent amount of yarn to choose from. I went to what I lovingly call "YoYo's Yarn Shop" , humor me here, and chose two skeins from the same type of yarn I had used for Jo's blankies. I digress for a moment. I love yarn. I love all kinds of yarn. Yarn, knitting needles and patterns have seen me through some pretty physically and emotionally painful times. In these weird economic times and the swine flu worries people were told to stock up for a couple of weeks worth of food. I worried, did I have enough yarn to last in case of some major catastrophe. When I flew to the grandboys birthday party my thoughts were not how many clothes do I need to take for one night and a short flight, but how much yarn should I take and do I want to use circular or double points on the plane? Alpaca or sock yarn? So... when I needed to make a new blankie I went to the stash. I had a skein of Baby Bee in yellow and Baby Bee in an ombre that I had used for another project. I thought these would be perfect. All Allison asked for was bright colors. I mean we have to whip this up quick because a girl should not be without her blankie (or whatever soothes her) in times of stress. I just knitted in good old garter stitch till I was tired of a color and then changed to the other yarn. It ended up being 6" in each color. I think Scout will like it because it is in bright colors and it is very soft. At this point the question comes as to the type of yarn this blankie is. It is acrylic for easy wash and dry. I know some people turn up their noses at anything that is not "real" fiber but I believe there is a use for most different types of yarns. It depends on what you want and how much money you have. My favorite fiber is alpaca but I use wool and various different fibers for socks. I am not big on cotton but that is because I have probably not yet found one I like except Tofutises which is 22% cotton. I believe in equal opportunity for all yarns and fibers until they prove they are not worthy. Then they are gone from the stash. So here is the new blankie. Will this blankie be chewable? We will see. I am giving it to her tomorrow. Oh, yeah, I am feeling a little better today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

But You Don't Look Sick

I added a new link on the blog today. I was on Ravelry reading the forums. One I belong to is an arthritis group. SherriA commented about the website There is an article written by Christine Miserandino called "The Spoon Theory." I had read the article last year but had forgotten how well it described life when you have certain illnesses. I went to the site and re-read the article. When you live with a disease that can cause constant pain and tiredness you have to think about all the activities you want to do not just for the day but for the week. Everything comes at a cost. If you try to explain to someone how hard it is to get up early in the morning and just get ready to go to work, school or a doctor's appointment, most people really do not understand. I won't go on and on here about the length of time it takes do do certain things or how I have to decide what to chose to do. I think the article is very good at explaining it. Christine used Lupus as her example. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. Both are autoimmune diseases. Your body attacks itself. My meds pretty much keep the pain to a dull roar but the tiredness never goes away. So choices must be made. I put the link on here for others to read and maybe understand that it is not because we don't want to do stuff but because we have to "count the spoons." My daughter and my sister are two people who do undertand, listen to my complaints and grumblings but love me anyway and tolerate my psycho crazy days. That link is not aimed at them. They know it but I wanted to say it. They always have a listening ear . I love them both. I am not sure why the weekend seemed to set me off but I am tired so today's post is really a confirmation to me to remind myself that I need to remember to "count the spoons." Pictured are two of the reasons why. They can have all my spoons.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another New Baby

We have another new baby, well a four footed one. Since our tragic loss of Huckleberry in 2007 The Ponderosa has missed having a mastiff. These dogs are such gentle giants with kids and are so loving they are perfect family dogs. Yesterday this cute "little" 9 week old 18 and 1/2 pound baby boy joined the family. He does not have a name yet but there are several under consideration. He and Scout share the same birthday so he seemed destined for them. You can tell by the smile on Jo's face that she is very excited to have a new puppy.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Jaxson & Ryan Turn 1 Year Old

I just returned from the big birthday party celebrating Jaxson and Ryan's first birthday. One year old. Time goes so fast and they grow so quickly. They were born almost two months premature. Jaxson, the first picture, had his water break. Their mom had to spend almost six weeks laying in a hospital bed trying to not go into labor. I did not realize that was possible. I always thought once the water broke that was it. Apparently since the amnionic fluid replaces itself if no infection develops and you do not go into labor you can just chill out and hope to go as long as you can laying in bed. On Cinco De Mayo, May 5th, they became concerned about fever and infection and the boys were born. I included a picture of them when they were one day old just to give a perspective of how much they have grown and what a miracle they are. Because I am so bad at getting the captions correct in the pix they are Jaxson, Ryan, then Ryan in the NICU and then Jaxson in the NICU, with dad's hand for size comparison. They both weighed right at three pounds and now Jaxson is 17 lbs and Ryan is 20 lbs. Next picture shows both boys enjoying their baseball birthday cakes, then Jaxson making sure we see he has cake up his nose and Ryan giving someone a very interesting look. The party was so much fun and the boys are so huggable. It was a very fast weekend. They are both lively one year olds with Ryan walking about six or so steps and Jaxson three or four steps. They are typical boys wrestling and fighting over the same toy or blankie. It was a fun weekend and they let me hug and kiss on them and actually liked me holding them which when you have not seen little kids in a while you are never sure they will let you do. I already miss them.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Patriotic Socks are Finished

I finished the Patriotic Socks today. I really love them and cannot believe they matched.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Early Mother's Day

Yesterday I went to The Ponderosa for an early Mother's Day get-together. I will be in Amarillo for the twins first birthday party over the weekend so Jo, Scout and Allison decided we should get together and play. Okay is was muggy and hot. We were supposed to have rain but fortunately it did not appear but my hair frizzed and Jo's curled beautifully. Scout was putting on some of her best smiles (she is eight and a half weeks now). I was doing my best to have one of those crazy YoYo moments. Allison made that yummy lemon cheesecake. We had it for lunch dessert and some came home with me for breakfast today. Mmmmm. While I was being silly I was also holding one of the coolest ideas for a gift. Yes, a gift card but not just any gift card. With new baby limited running around, they really don't like not getting their naps, running into Dallas takes some planning. Allison, knowing my love of yarn and the benefits that her family receives from that, came up with a personalized gift card. The Shabby Sheep is my favorite LYS. Allison took and old card, you know we all get those when stores don't want to give you cash from a returned item, then you then have to re-spend the money at their store. She then took those little foamy letters that the kids do craft projects with and glued Shabby Sheep on the front. On the back was attached cash. Cool, huh. So next week we are going to have to make a trip to the yarn shop. I am going to take the whole card and show Ronda and the gals the card, spend the money and then I am saving the card. I am going to take a magnet that is the size of the card and glue it onto the gift card. Then it is going on the fridge. I loved the idea and now it will be where I can see it everyday. Wait, maybe that is not a good idea. I wonder if it will make me want to go buy yarn every day. Well we all have to help the economy in our own way, LOL. Jo helped make a Hummingbird cake by licking the icing beaters. If you have never had Hummingbird cake you are missing out on some yummy cake. It is very sweet but very tasty.

One thing about living in the country is the having wildlife all around. The cows actually belong to another person but they graze in the huge pasture behind The Ponderosa. There were around twenty calves in the herd. They started to walk away when we approached but Jo started moo-ing at them and they stopped and watched us and mooed back. Later in the day we saw a coyote walking through the pasture. Yes, this is the country. Of course the chickens were out running around and a couple of hawks flew by. Those chickens were in the coop faster than you could blink. A rabbit crawled out from under the storage shed. I do not know if he will have a long life. The first time he gets caught eating the garden he might be rabbit stew. Allison has hung five hummingbird feeders on the back of the house and there must be twelve to fifteen hummingbirds that hang around all the time. Interestingly the eat at the feeder and sit on them, sit in the trees and sit on the fence. They are the prettiest little birds and so fun to watch. And by the way, hummingbird cake does not include hummingbirds. It was a lovely day.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Knit-A-Cap Project

I recently received a letter from the principal of Dzilth-Na-O-Dith-Hle Community School in Bloomfield, New Mexico. Enclosed were pictures of hats that her school had received from the Knit-A-Cap program. This is always an exciting time. This is when I get to see the faces of kids wearing the hats that I have knitted throughout the year for the project. I know the pictures did not transfer very well from the paper to computer but I think you can still see the smiles on the kids faces. I wrote on my blog last year about this project in the December 6th post. All of the kids who receive hats from this project live on reservations or attend Native American schools somewhere in the United States, including Alaska. Over the past six years I have recieved many letters from students and teachers who write to thank me for the hats. Many of these kids would never get a hat any other way. There are so many groups requesting hats that I have never sent them to the same school twice. The theory behind the hat project is that when kids have their ears covered in the winter they get less ear infections which means fewer absences from school. This will ensure that the basics are learned and give a good start to the kids education. There are so many projects out there but this one is one that I can make time for. Some years there are more hats than others but I always try to have at least one boxful which is about sixty hats. Some years I have had well over 200. My sister Jane Ellen last year had almost 400 and the way she is going this year she is almost there already. We ship them out every August so they can get to the kids before it starts to get cool. Just writing this I think I need to go cast on for a hat.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


For some reason I cannot work on just one project for even an afternoon. The three I am working on are the second Patriotic Sock, Jo's Cowl out of Misti Alpaca and the Comfort Shawl out of Prime Alpaca. They each have their own good points. I just do not know why I cannot stay on one. Today I worked on all three and it was that way yesterday too. The sock is Yarn Harlot's Basic Sock Recipe. I love it because I have had success with it and I actually love the plain knitting down the leg. The cowl is a simple K1, P1 rib. The Comfort Shawl is my improvision. I like that is is straight knit with only four yarnovers on each rows for increases. I have not decided how long the shawl will be or the type of border I will finish it with. In a way this is restless knitting. I don't know why or how long it will last. One thing I know is that eventually they will all be finished. Wonder if Iwill start another project before these get finished? We will see.