Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Just do it

oh MAN. How can such an organized person have such a heap of non-compatible items in every single closet? Maybe:
I'm too busy
I have too many interests
My house is too small
I have not yet purchased enough organizational aids
I don't embrace cleaning the way I do mess-making

but never mind. The mess is spread out in front of every closet now so I can recategorize everything into the boxes set out in the middle ground, and the sooner I get it sorted, the sooner I can dash off to Knitomatic for my new addi turbo interchangeable circular needle set, which has finally arrived! Talk about yer motivation.

* * * * *
Okay, this is just weird. Of course I'm not checking e-mail, but look what Better Homes and Gardens just sent!

Also, I found a pair of glasses I have no recollection of ever wearing, yet I can see out of them (well, distance, anyway). I always keep frames for at least two years, so maybe I shouldn't have eaten so much spaghetti with meat sauce when I lived in England before anybody knew about mad cow?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Egg membranes and other hidden treasures

Kathleen from South Dakota writes: how does an egg membrane get out a splinter? You put it over the splinter and let it dry. It will adhere to the splinter and tug it out as it contracts. If it's not better by morning, use another egg membrane.

Last night I read about how kids 5-8 can make head cheese from a pig. Apparently it's delicious and I'm absolutely prepared to take somebody else's word for it. I also discovered that you can soak a year's worth of dust more effectively out of curtains if you add baking soda to the water, and that a baking soda paste works on insect stings.

Little Heathens - a great read, by the way - also has beauty tips. For example, a little apple cider vinegar in your rinse water makes your hair shiny. Or you can pat a lot of cooked warm oatmeal over your face and arms to bleach away freckles and soften your skin. From my own experience I can tell you that the fastest way to smooth rough hands on your way out the door is to scrub them with a little baking soda at the kitchen sink. But the best feelgoodlookgreat tip of all? Don't eat chocolate for breakfast, even when somebody who wasn't thinking clearly stored it right beside your new wool Christmas socks.

Monday, December 29, 2008

What was I thinking?

Somewhere in the exhaustion of KnitFrenzy I got the idea to offer up closet reorganization as a present. Emphasis on 're' - I do this over and over and over, which is probably a sign that the closets are just plain too small for their contents. Or more accurately, any contents, because thorough purging of unused stuff is a consistent step in every reorg.

I've been preparing for this task with a book about growing up on an Iowa farm during the Depression - there is something about thrift and hard times and stalwart bravery that always makes me feel like tidying up. Also it's research for the writing project I want to get back to this week.

Side benefits are the discovery that you can draw out a splinter with egg membrane or a piece of salt pork, plus a recipe for home made marshmallows (and you know I'm going to be trying that one, what with the Ghirardelli hot chocolate obsession and all.) But I will be a Very Good Girl and do the closets first, because I learned the hard way - this is one task that gets worse the longer you procrastinate.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tablecloth of doom (and KnitFrenzy pics)

Again with the Boxing Day Luncheon lobster-claw-like allergic reaction, in spite of this year's custom table favours and entirely fresh menu ingredients! I'll be lucky if my stricken friend ever comes back. We narrowed down the problem either to the farm where the turkeys come from, or my beloved Christmas tablecloth. Yes, the tablecloth of doom:

It looks so innocent and pretty and OH how I love it, but it's much more likely to be some problem with the dye than it is a random turkey, don't you think? So away it goes, at least for Boxing Days. And I guess I will cook a ham next time to be safe.

In other news, as promised, I have random photos from this year's KnitFrenzy, which means you'll have to scroll through this post - I know, take a moment to catch your breath. I usually keep my diary so short and snappy, but some people have been complaining about a lack of pictures so you'll have to live with the length, or stop reading now if knitting bores you, in which case you can't possibly be enjoying my procrastinations at all.

As you may recall I designed most of the patterns, which made things interesting in that not-generally-so-good way, especially when one is pressed for time. Christmas Eve for example was a bit panicky and looked something like this:

I had to tell the girl whose boyfriend was stolen by God that she couldn't come to visit that night so I could finish the Thing that was still on the needles and intended for her, but it was sort of worth it because they looked great on everybody who got one and they did seem like a surprise.

(Less of a surprise was Lannie's cute hat with the pink stripes and felted rose, seeing as how she reads my diary, but the ponytail hole I put in for her got raised eyebrows so that was a nice bonus.)

Here is a mohair tube as cowl - which is to say, when it's not a scarf or muff or very very itchy tube top or skirt, all of which were proposed as possible uses for it:

I did between 12 and 14 hats (I deliberately lost count), one of which was for my friend Carol, plus a neckwarmer because the wool for her hat was so weird I knew she could never match it:

The neckwarmer was pure design bliss and came out right the very first time. I was less lucky with other patterns but mostly that was bearable. For example, an early design failure with the basic hat pattern turned into a warm cloche I coveted, especially after I added felted roses:

And then of course there was the Lucky Scarf, which I still have to parcel up and mail to the friend who helped so much with my writing this year. I designed it in a three-stitch pattern of 8 stripes on one side and 7 on the other, and knit it in red, partly because it's lucky and partly because it is my favourite. To add more luck, I brought it along to work on at every happy social occasion over the 8 or so weeks I worked on it:

The most fun thing though was the felted roses (pattern courtesy Jennifer Pace), which I made to put onto projects I ended up having to jettison. They were so fast to make and so pretty when they were done! The ones that didn't go onto hats pretty much sat around all glum and stuff until I realized I could make these adorable little pins for people I didn't have time to knit anything else for:

The final tally for the KnitFrenzy is a little scary, given that most of it happened over 6 weeks. I made twenty-seven successful Things, of which four or five were superfast rose pins, plus at least two Things that were not only not at all superfast but failed horribly, as well as one that was successful but should wait for a companion piece, I think, before I give it away. Oh, I feel tired just thinking about it... but I will do the revisions to a too-short hat anyway, because I am so knitty. And then I will write up my own patterns properly and post them at for anybody who knits and would like to try one.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Top Ten in a box

Things I'm happy about today:

10/ my family liked their mohair cowls and double-strand wool hat
9/ I am having a party today, which means my house is clean
8/ my elevated cake plates are shiny and waiting for desserts
7/ the turkey went neatly into the oven, which means
8/ I have my stock pot back to store knitting in
7/ but only 1 more hour (or so) of KnitFrenzy to go
6/ and after the party I can support a beleaguered retailer
5/ by buying a new egg separator (and maybe other stuff)
4/ yesterday's meringue bake being the last straw with the old one
3/ I get to go to bed early tonight
2/ or sit on the sofa and eat bonbons, whichever I choose
1/ and does it get any better than that??

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas baby

I don't think that's the title of one of my favourite bits from the Verve Christmas collection, but it's how it starts. I'm also partial to Santa Baby and hope these tunes go on playing for a few more days now that I can actually enjoy them - I'm almost halfway through knitting the last Thing.

Seriously, I've been obsessing over that old Hans Christian Anderson story about the princes or princesses who are turned into swans every night and need a sister who knits to make them all some magical shirt by midnight to turn back into themselves forever. She knits like the wind but only gets through half of the last sleeve when the clock strikes, so one of them gets stuck with half arm/half wing. I feared this would be me, with half a Thing to wrap today, but no.

And on that joyful note - my best wishes to everyone for a happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Turkey Tips

Happy elf day! the day when it all comes together or forget it. I have two things left to knit and a very good chance of pulling them off. Of course, I also want to sew a few tiny things and will probably be stitching on my way to deliver presents.

Today I pick up a turkey and stuffing and gravy. Last year I brined the turkey and didn't rinse it enough and the gravy tasted like it was made with sea water, which is a shame because gravy is one thing I'm good at. Just in case I blow it again this year, I'm getting some of what the butcher is selling.

My friend Dave called this week and I shared my salty shame, and after very nicely commending me for brining the turkey in the first place he told me the best, as in evil, turkey tip: Get bacon. Really fatty thick slices of bacon you would never ever buy just to cook and eat, and lay them all over the top of the turkey and roast it as usual. When you're done you have turkey, plus bacon! what a bonus. And the finest makings for gravy. Also probably a heart attack if you have a ton of the gravy, but I think it would be worth serious fibre consumption and treadmill time just to try it, don't you?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


As I launch into the final death throes of my Grand Scheme (aka knitfrenzy 08) I am watching a lot of Fearless Planet, a highly dramatic series about geology that ran on Discovery Channel. I guess geology isn't really exciting enough because there is a lot of thrilling music and elaborate special effects with time-lapse digital animation and cliffhangery writing to make it more watchable.

As it happens, I would have been happy with less of the fake and more footage of the Northern Lights and Grand Canyon, and the cave drawings of swimmers found in the middle of the Sahara Desert - proof that it was once pleasant there.

Elaborate presentation or no, though, there's no getting away from the idea that our current disaster of climate change is not something this planet has never faced before. Our descendants 2000 years out were unlikely to enjoy the same comparative peacefulness even if we hadn't made such a muck of things, and that alone makes the program a poor viewing choice for me. If all our hard work to make something of ourselves and our communities is just going to fall away some day, does it really matter if I get these Things made? Especially if I could put my feet up and eat a bag of Miss Vickie's potato chips instead? Never mind. Of course it does. And now I will get back to my needles - with the TV off.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The magic of Christmas

I totally messed up a felted Thing a couple of weeks ago but tried to convince myself I could fix it and yesterday I decided I can't. So it's shopping for that person. Then I made another Thing and it turned out wonderfully... too wonderfully. It's perfect for me, basically. I tried it on to show a friend and he was adamant that I could NOT under any circumstances give it away, which didn't make it easier to remain queen of generosity.

While I agonized, I felted another Thing, fearing after the disaster of the initial failed Thing (the integrity of its borders was compromised in the excitement of the washing machine) that this might face the same challenge. It did not. Victory! And yet - NO! It faced an entirely different challenge and failed for an entirely different reason. And yet - YES! Magic! It's now perfect in an entirely different way for the person who was supposed to get the Thing that is perfect for me!

So now I have to knit an entirely new Thing for the person whose Thing just failed, but I can do that in about 4 hours. Which leaves today's tally at... 5 Things in 4 days. Plus wrapping and baking and 2 parties. Is it too much to ask for a little more magic do you think?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Katy and the Big Snow

Did you read this book when you were little? I didn't, but I can't get the title out of my head, looking out the front window. If only my name were Katy or I was a robust snowplow.

Yesterday's snow was plentiful and longstanding and, by the 10th hour or so as night fell, quite sparkly. When you have a big snow like that, everything is tucked neatly out of sight, but once you start shoveling - and oh how I love to see everybody out shoveling, such civic-mindedness - everything is bunched up and rumpled. You need another snow to make it perfect again, but not so much as to require more shoveling because then you still have jumble soup.

Today it is jumble soup outside and also on me, since I have put on a Susan Harris dress. Somebody just asked me why there is an H on my back and I had to lean over sideways so my questioner could see that it is in fact a 1, cut from a hockey shirt. There is a silkscreened tree on jersey on the front, and the ruffle at the bottom is from a rayon flowered dress and sewn on inside out. I like Susan's approach to recycling. It feels virtuous to wear her clothes, yet luxurious (they're not cheap.) And best of all, they do an excellent job of hiding any excess cookie consumption. Go Susan!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Through a mouthful of meringue

Not that I'm having cookies for breakfast. Really.

Yes, it's that magical time of year: meringue season. My mother is queen of cookies, and we had a steady supply of this awesome cakey coffee version of chocolate chip that has lost favour in the current generation of my family but dominated mine. At Christmas, we had meringues, aka egg white and a ton of sugar with vanilla and loads of chocolate. She was always able to get more lift than I do, and you'd bite in and look at a spelunker's dream, caverns with chips nestled into crevices and ledges. Mine are denser and crisper but still yummy. I'm lucky to be able to make them at all - not everyone can.

They are insanely popular. People talk to me about them in July, wistfully, when it's too humid to pull them off. The popularity means I can make a batch and give most of them away, feeling virtuous for making other people happy and not eating them all myself. Unfortunately I had to make an unexpected batch yesterday (before finishing 3 knit projects, whooo!) and have a dangerous number still drying out in the oven. Thank goodness we're having a big storm today, forcing me to spend hours outside and away from them, shoveling snow, metaphorically clutching my 3 finished projects to my heart as though they are enough to compensate for another lost knitting day. Really though I'd rather be writing. Imagine that!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Deep thoughts (don't worry, they're not mine)

Because one of my Christmas Dinner guests had an allergic reaction to something in last year's Christmas crackers, and his hands swelled up like lobster claws, I am making this year's table novelties myself. I probably shouldn't mention here what's going in them, just in case it spoils the surprise. Lets just say that in addition to being a packrat, I know where to find good quotes. From the shortlist:

"Most people would like to be delivered from temptation but would like it to keep in touch." - Robert Orben

"A good listener is a good talker with a sore throat." - Katharine Whitehorn

"A family is a unit composed not only of children but of men, women, an occasional animal, and the common cold." - Ogden Nash

"The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." - Albert Einstein

"Never eat more than you can lift." - Miss Piggy... and

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort." - Herm Albright

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

No sooner said...

Did I mention snow in yesterday's diary? Because it has now snowed. Which is sort of vindicatey because I took a precious 30 minutes from knitting after lunch to rake a bunch of leaves out of the front garden, seeing as how all of the previous snowfall had finally melted and there was no wind or rain to make the job impossible, and spring is so much nicer when the garden is not shaking its fist at you and shouting about all the stuff you didn't do the previous fall.

The good thing about raking leaves in -5 C weather is that the ground is completely frozen - you can do it in your dress coat with your best warm mittens and not get muddy - and only the leaves break free. The bad thing is that it's -5 C.

Another good thing from yesterday is that even though I did go to a Christmas concert and rake leaves and make cookies and I think a bunch of other stuff I've now forgotten through sheer exhaustion, I noticed at bedtime I'd somehow managed to almost finish two more presents. And while I am not fool enough to count how many that would leave, especially since I won't knit much today either, I am pretty pleased with myself. And putting on warm socks to wear in my rubber boots.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Anything but knitting

People talk a lot about the weather, have you noticed? I spend a lot of time thinking about it too, and planning for it. Scheming to get through it as practically yet fashionably as possible (practicality being more important now than when I was 19.)

When I was a student crossing a wide muddy park every day for classes, I longed for rubber boots - but I was ahead of my time and could only find hideous pale grey ones that came to mid-calf and let the rain in if you wore them with a skirt. Now you can't walk into a discount department store without falling over rows of bright stripey, flowery, or polka-dot boots, and you can be choosy. Do you want heavy ones that smell like a chemical plant but have great patterns, or do you want softer floppier ones that don't? To the knee or to the ankle? With heel or without? Maybe you should get more than one pair, since they work all year - in the rain, in deep snow with lots of wool socks inside, in the midsummer garden.

Yesterday was a rubber boot day (category: rain.) Today is just cold. Not as cold as South Dakota or Ottawa, but cold enough to choose a down coat over a cloth one. Too cold even for snow. But it'll come, and when it does I'm sure I'll be back into my pink polka dot rubber boots, in either coat, both being a perfect match for them. Because, you know, I'm so practical.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Chicken soup for the not very bright

Well, the stock's all cooled and strained and ready for instant suppers all week, which I will need, because even after jettisoning a few bonus gifts* I still have 7.5 items that absolutely must happen in the next 6-8 days. Plus, you know, baking and party planning (I'm organizing two parties) and wrapping, which is going to be mostly brown paper lunch bags. Love those things.

But back to the not very bright. Too much knitting! My eyes are all twisty and sore and I need exercise and I've felt - this may shock you - a little pressure, which is Not Festive.

So: the KnitFrenzy was unrealistic but still, the things look so great. I designed 4 patterns, and even the design flaw in one (not discovered until after running it through the washer in hot water, at which point ripping out is not an option) is totally address-able thanks to my having a handy pair of funky buttons. And once they're on, I'm taking time to get the camera out - I gotta have pictures of the bounty to remind myself not to get into this particular trouble again.

*I am totally finishing the jettisoned projects for future presents. And some of the stuff I made for people this time... I am making those again in January for other people, so I can have KnitFrenzy 2009 with 20% less Frenzy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

omigosh omigosh omigosh!

I finished something!!!! I finished one of the really long things!!!!

and yesterday I knitted a lot of adorable flowers that I'm felting today. And I'm scheming and assembling some other things that were felted a few weeks ago and are now being sewn into other things. My sister even recognized one of them, with some surprise, from its original form when she dropped by yesterday.

Is this killing you? I could probably just say what I'm making since most of my family pretty much never looks at this blog and would not have their surprises spoiled, but just in case, 'thing' is safest. On the 27th, I will post pics, promise.

Meanwhile, I'm taking a break from chicken stock assemblage (still trying to break the chocolate habit with endless bowls of soup) to report that I now have 12+ things to do in the next six days. If I can get a bunch of them done today, then maybe...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Truth vs. fiction part 2

This week I've been all about Mrs. Beeton and La Boheme:

Impoverished girl falls for equally impoverished boy. Once they're shacked up, he connects her cough with tuberculosis. He decides she deserves a rich boyfriend who can pay for doctors and, being too juvenile or proud or whatever to say that, neglects her so she'll go find said rich boyfriend; she eavesdrops and finds out and they decide to part. When she's dying, she leaves the rich guy to spend her final moments with the one she loves.

Middle class girl marries middle class boy. He neglects her without any romantic excuses from the moment they're engaged, and gives her syphilis as a wedding present, as did so many men of their time. Dying just as surely as Impoverished Girl, she lasts long enough to have a baby who dies and a number of miscarriages all because of the disease, plus two miracle boys who live, while working hard to keep him from bankruptcy. She dies at 28 and he lasts only into his 40s, insane from the disease having eaten into his brain.

The first is the opera about bohemian artists, the second is the biography of the famous Victorian homemaker. Who'd expect both to be about incurable diseases, and the reliance of women on men for survival, and the stupidity and waste that results?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Progress report

The Knit Frenzy: 12 down, 15 to go (how does the list keep growing??); 9 days remaining. This really isn't possible, is it, even if I finish 2 today and 3 tomorrow, which is likely

The Pink Eye: way less pink, not terribly hurty

The Cold: barely there, exercise resumes today, relapse expected tomorrow

The Opera Obsession: downloaded the 1964 EMI recording of La Boheme, have been playing it on a continuous loop

The Subconscious Plot-Working-Outy Thing: nada, though La Boheme is inspiring some reflection on story structure that may lead to a kinda sorta inspiration

The Inexplicable Fixation on Kashi 7 Whole Grain Honey Puffed Cereal: ongoing, and now that I think of it, probably related to chocolate withdrawal (yeah, that again.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

And in my spare time...

Truth is usually stranger than fiction, but fiction wins hands down on brief, intense romance. It's always boy meets girl, they hate each other, then fall in love, curtain down. Or boy and girl fall desperately in love and for some reason can't be together, curtain down. If it's opera, the reason is usually dramatic, tragic death.

Even though I know the formula, I can still be swayed in the moment, like now for example. For some reason - putting off knitting perhaps? - I've been watching clips from La Boheme on YouTube. Bear with me and check this out. Apart from Rodolpho's stealthy hand being a bit stalkerish, it's pretty good, huh? Plus I love that this production was set in 1950s Paris.

Okay, so I watched that one and then this one and got back to work, and then I thought, H'mmm, how much more is there? So I watched this scene where Mimi says some affectionate things to Rodolpho, and then I noticed the death scene is here, and then I did some digging and found out you can buy the whole darn DVD here, which I will be suggesting to Santa right about... now. And after that - and after I get myself a Kleenex - I will knit. I promise.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

11 things in 11 days

... down from 19 things in 20 days, which actually isn't down at all since I've lost my day's grace and have only finished 8 things in 9 days so far. Maybe this is an unrealistic goal. Or maybe all the snow shoveling and Christmas shopping and mailings and finishing-off-for-wrapping I did for previously finished projects took up more time than I'll lose in the next week? I can but hope. And leave a few things undone at the last minute.

My pink eye is just as pink as yesterday but no pinker, and not at all goopy, and not terribly hurty, so maybe it's a byproduct of all the nose-blowing that's gone with the end of this cold? Again, hoping.

And knitting. Knitting like the wind! And thinking about more writing courses as I go! Because if my subconscious is working on that Goal problem I mentioned a couple of days ago, it ain't telling me about it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Being stoic about setbacks

There are so many things not to like about pinkeye. It's stingy, and between that and your eyelid puffing up and drooping and making it harder to see, it's uncomfy even before the goop starts. And it looks horrible, so that what you mostly see when you can see anything is people looking at you and suppressing their gag instincts. It's super contagious, too. You have to wash your hands a lot to keep from sharing the wealth and when your skin is already dry to breaking point that's not exactly a recipe for a good time.

So I was not happy this morning to wake up tired and even more behind on my knitting with a hugely busy day ahead of me (in which, naturally, I will be seeing more people than usual, some of them small and likely to be really grossed out) to find that my right eye is very red and sore. If it's pinkeye it means getting to the doctor (when?) and taking antibiotics (ugh.)

There are a couple of things to be grateful for, though. Like, it could be worse, and I far from alone, as I discovered reading the latest installment of God Stole My Boyfriend. And then there's my hair. It's still hanging in front of my eye... my right eye. So I might not terrify the little children after all.

Monday, December 8, 2008

It's happening again...

I spent the whole weekend procrastinating on my procrastinations. You'd think I'd know by now the best way to get something written is to tell myself I'm not a writer, but a wallpaper-hanger hobbyist. That's much safer than pretending I'm a person who routinely knits 19 things in 20 days.

So last night, while not knitting, I was stealthily reading up on 1930s Hollywood, in a book I bought to help me write a novel that got left by the wayside when I couldn't think of a compelling goal for the main character. This is a little trick my friend Joshua taught me about writing a book: give the main character a goal, then put up a lot of roadblocks to keep him or her from achieving them. The second part of the trick is one I still have to figure out. You know, the compelling goal. It's been about three years but I still hope to think of one some day. And no, reading up on what it was like in Hollywood in the 1930s isn't going to help a bit.

Today I am going to resist that book and let my subconscious get on with the goal problem if that's what it's so excited about, while my fingers take care of the knitting. I'm seven days in to the Knit Frenzy now, and I've only got six things to show for it.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A break for holiday shopping

... and I have some delightful suggestions for the readers on your list. Going Out With A Bang, of course, is a noisy and sometimes messy collection of crime stories from the Ladies' Killing Circle. Blood on the Holly is another excellent choice--this anthology from Crime Writers of Canada was published last year. Both are great reads, with a wide variety of styles and twists, and something by me inside.

Both those links are to Amazon, but I recommend ordering them from The Sleuth of Baker Street in Toronto. The store has signed copies and even better, can call me in to personalize them.

I have a cousin who is particularly brilliant at recommending books I turn out to love, and she mentioned two this week. The first is Can Any Mother Help Me?, letters by women who, from the mid-30s, comprised the Cooperative Correspondence Club to share their support and ideas. The second is The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton. If you haven't so much as looked over Mrs. Beeton's exhaustive book on domestic matters, you should, but the biography sounds fascinating too: she was a Victorian superstar from her early 20s, then died at 28 because Mr. Beeton gave her syphilis. Okay, that sounds like a lot of a downer, but both books are huge on social history, which intrigues me no end.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Reality check

I finished another project, got a good start on two more (one of which included pattern design) and wrote down two patterns yesterday. Also my brain started to turn to mush.

I woke up tired this morning, which is not unusual but is pretty unwelcome considering I still have my cold and cough, and it occurs to me that there are other things I often do at this time of the year, like bake cookies, redecorate the living room, wrap some things, shop for some other things, cook an occasional meal, maybe do some laundry. Man. It's a good thing I'm not inspired to write a story on top of all that.

So I did more precise math than 19 in 20, and figured out that I need to fit 60 hours of knitting into 16 days - about 4 hours a day. I should be able to manage 4 hours a day, right? And still leave some time for other stuff? Not cookie-eating though. I did so much of that yesterday, I could happily never eat another cookie in my LIFE*.

* until it's time to bake the Christmas meringues

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Powered by cookies

Seriously, a giant Ziploc bag of home made oatmeal chocolate chip cookies (my all time OH WOW everyday cookie) turned up at the house last night. And now that I've typed that, I want some for breakfast.

Before that happened, I figured out how to make a fabulous item that is warm, make-able in less than 4 hours with 1 large ball of wool, and fits a wide range of sizes perfectly. Then the light finally dawned about exactly which stitches will turn into another item I've been obsessing about, too. After that, powered by the cookies, I finished a third item I've been working on for a few days. Tally time: 3 completed projects in the first 2 days of 19 in 20.

I'm on track to do another two items today but... I really, really want to write down the patterns and share them in time for others' holiday knit frenzies. In fact I need to, because otherwise I will forget the niceties of the design. And the words are coming to me the way they do for fiction that just unfolds, which I always take as A Sign. Maybe if I eat a few cookies for extra typing power...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In which I begin to panic

Well, the notion of 19 Things in 20 days is not so improbable when you consider that only 3 of them require as much as 8 hours' work to produce. The trouble is that the entire plan rests on the shoulders of one pattern.

I made it once, and it turned out to make a lovely ladies' cloche, for which I happen to have some felted roses. Unfortunately it was meant for a MAN, and not one remotely likely to wear a cloche with or without roses. So I made it again, with two strands of yarn rather than three, and it's another lovely, if less roomy, cloche. Today's task: giving it one final try with much smaller needles. They do say third time lucky, don't they?

I have made one happy discovery: a tall stockpot makes an excellent yarn caddy. The sides don't flop in and obscure smaller contents, and are smooth enough to make slide stitch markers out by the handful, and no matter how much the yarn jumps it rarely makes it out of the pot. Bonus: it's a constant reminder that I need to take the time to turn the rest of my chicken stock to soup. Maybe between projects 8 and 9?

Monday, December 1, 2008

The calm before the storm

I had a marvelous weekend. Other people were too sick to see me and I had no pressing reasons to leave the house, so I cleared up the disaster room that leads to my 'office' and purged said 'office' of recyclable paper, empty boxes, and yarn - which I then sorted out so I know what I have to work with.

Then I reconsidered my list of what I'm knitting and for whom, no small task, the number of projects now having reached 19. Can I knit 19 things in 20 days? And simultaneously shop and plan and prep for Christmas, a birthday, and a holiday dinner party?

Of course not, which means that of course I will attempt it anyway. And yet I keep being distracted by the Ravelry pattern page, where anything loaded by anyone appears as a new possibility. For example, this, or for the animal lover, this.

It's hard for me to resist these patterns, too... or these. You can see my dilemma.