Sunday, March 29, 2009

A little worse for wear

But hanging in there

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Good Timing

When I left Madison about 4:00, a few flakes of snow started drifting down. The snowfall stayed fine for most of the trip; only as I pulled into town did I see any sticking to the ground at all. In the fifteen minutes since I've been home, the amount in the air has thickened considerably and it's starting to pile up. Glad I'm home with a cat on my lap and no place I have to go tomorrow.

Friday, March 27, 2009


It's chilly out today (just a couple degrees above freezing), but the sun is shining, and the crocus seem to be holding their own.
Word has it there's snow on the way tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Knitter's Block, Writer's Block

I seem to have them both. But I have managed to finish the second version of the child's vest, that I'm now calling "Aegean", in a different color scheme. Now I need to get the pattern into it's final version. That, along with blogging, seems to be one place where the writer's block is kicking in.

One of my time-wasters/educational research projects lately has been pouring over objects at the British Museum. They have a great website. I'm kind of partial to the Bronze Age and early Iron Age, myself. The Louvre isn't bad, either.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Grey,wet, windy

it's a bit too chilly to spend much time outside today, which is probably just as well. I have things needing my attention inside.

But the weekend was glorious, and I spent most of it in the yard. Cutting back perennials (read the phlox and the Rudbecia threatening to take over the world), dragging dead leaves off the beds, and pulling weeds (also threatening to take over the world). Said "hello" to the earthworms - happy to see them stirring about. Said "hello" to the tulip and daffodil leaves. Mr S whacked about 5 feet off the back hedge (it grows at least that much a year), dug over his garden space and planted a row of spinach. The cardinals and robins said hello to us. If there is a heaven, I hope this is what it's like.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Please Pelisse me, oh yeah

OK, I had to look the word up, too, a number of years ago. Here's how the Jane Austen Centre online magazine describes it (article by Kathy Hammel):

"An overdress or coat dress, the pelisse fit relatively close to the figure (though not tight) and was styled along the same high-waisted lines as the dress of the day. Pelisses were often lined or edged with fur and, in fashionable circles, more or less replaced the fur-lined cloaks of the earlier periods."
I appropriated the picture from

Friday, March 20, 2009

In Which I Make My Confession

apropos yesterday's post.

" 'But, Captain Wentworth,' cried Louisa, 'how vexed you must have been when you came to the Asp, to see what an old thing they had given you.'

'I knew pretty well what she was before that day;' said he, smiling. 'I had no more discoveries to make than you would have as to the fashion and strength of any old pelisse, which you had seen lent about among half your acquaintance ever since you could remember, and which at last, on some very wet day, is lent to yourself. Ah! she was a dear old Asp to me. She did all that I wanted."

Jane Austen, Persuasion

You see, this is how I feel about acrylic yarn (even Red Heart), though I doubt I would ever call it "dear". I'm pretty well aware of it's capabilities and it's limitations; I don't expect more from it than it is able to do, and under those terms it has sometimes done most, if not all, that I wanted.

editorial note: I am somewhat affronted that Blogger's spell check does not recognize the word "pelisse".

Thursday, March 19, 2009

We're funny that way

After 15+ years as an elementary school teacher, Mr S's verdict is "When it comes to his or her own child, every parent is just a little bit wacko, including us."

I'm starting to think knitters might be the same way about yarn. What brought this to mind was an incident at my Thursday knitting group. One friend asked about a possible yarn substitution for a pattern she's considering, and I suggested one that is a cotton acrylic blend. Another knitter popped in with "Oh, I just don't like acrylic." Fair enough. I can rattle off all the ways natural fibers differ from synthetic, and why I appreciate the qualities of the former over the latter. What got me was the undertone, that nobody should knit with acrylic, ever - you know, that there is something bad about making that choice. And then I realized that I was getting all defensive (just internally-the conversation didn't escalate into full blown fiber wars). Internally I was seething, just a tiny bit, ticking off the legitimate reasons for choosing a non-natural fiber.

And then I thought, "What am I doing here? Who cares what someone else knits with? And why do I care what someone else thinks about what I knit with?"

So I'm starting to think that when it comes to fiber choices, every knitter is a little bit wacko, including me.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Oh Good Grief!

Wisconsin has a new slogan. Whoo Hoo! Just what we needed.

The new slogan says absolutely nothing whatsoever specific about WI. In fact, it says nothing whatsoever specific about anything in particular.

"Live Like You Mean It": boy that says a lot about..... um, well, nothing. Sure is an improvement over the old slogan, whatever it was, oh, yeah, "Life's So Good". Wow, that was an old, worn out, empty slogan. Sure needed replacing.

According to the AP: The Department of Tourism plans to use the new phrase in advertising campaigns and is encouraging other state agencies to follow suit.

"This is another tool we'll use to keep loyal visitors coming back, communicate why a business should relocate or expand here, and let talented employees know why they should choose Wisconsin," Doyle said.

Yup, good thing we've got that powerful tool for bringing in business. If I were a talented employee, or a tourist just looking for someplace to go, by golly that new slogan would have me jumping up in the air and shouting "I have to get my butt to Wisconsin, now!" And if I were a business looking to relocate, well, my stars, that would just have me throwing the office furniture onto the moving truck before you could say, "Ya, You Betcha!". Unless I were Bacardi, who, it seems, used the same slogan a few years back. So really, maybe the new slogan does mean something. Maybe it's Tavern League code for "Come to Wisconsin and get drunk as a skunk". They are the most powerful lobbying group in the state.

Really, I like Gov. Doyle, but this is just asinine.

I'm not howling about "taxpayer dollars being spent on a marketing plan", because we need tourists, and we need new businesses, so I think a reasonable investment in marketing is a good idea. I'm just a little miffed about taxpayer dollars being spent on a stupid slogan.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's probably safe to put these away

though I'm superstitious enough to think it will be best to leave them there for just a little while.

Spring always startles me. You wait and wait through false starts and regressions, wondering whether it will ever really come. And then one day, boom!, it's here; and you know in your bones that, no matter what the weather does for the rest of March, some corner has been definitively turned. Sunday was like that, and I've spent much of the last three days out in the yard, beginning the cleanup.

On the right side of the picture: ground covered with leaves and overgrown with grass (and other weeds). On the left side of the picture: ground muddy, but relatively clear. This isn't all that I've accomplished in three days. I did the bed along the front sidewalk first. There's a good bit off to the right (at least twice what you see here) that I haven't touched. Hope the weather holds. It's spring. I'll swear by that. But this is Wisconsin.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Wahoo, will you look at that!

"Um, yeah, it's a window. Kind of dirty, isn't it?"

"Well, yes, I guess so, but that's not the point."

"So what's the point?"

"It's open. It's an open window! And there is lovely, sunny, really reasonably warm air coming in through it." [dancing off] "Yay, yay, yay, tra la!"

Meanwhile, out in the yard a few brave tulips are pushing up leaves. These look a little overcrowded, don't know if they will bloom this year or not, but for now I'm happy just to see them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reach Should Exceed Grasp, mumble, mumble

more than you can chew.....

The purple vest is not particularly hard to knit, but it is hard for me to write down exactly what I am doing in a coherent fashion, and I think that grading it for more than one size may be beyond me altogether, at least in it's current form.

I think it was a mistake to work the button bands all in one piece with the body. Firstly, because this turns a 4 row pattern repeat into a 12 row pattern repeat, at least on the buttonhole side. Secondly, because this turns a fairly easy to "read" pattern stitch into an exercise in minutely careful row counting (again on buttonhole side). Thirdly, because halfway up I decided that I would like to make a change in the buttonhole band (it really needs an extra stitch); but to fix it I couldn't just rip back the band, I would have to rip back the whole piece. I ain't going to do it. Also, if I were starting over I would definitely work it in one piece to the armholes. Just sayin'.

But having come this far, I have charged ahead and finished the right front.

I'm not convinced this couldn't be turned into a workable pattern. But it will need some tweaking.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Mood Swings

I'm looking at this

And wishing for this

The weather has been swinging rapidly from warmer, but rainy and gloomy, to sunny but cold. Today is the cold variety, 21 degrees F with a brisk wind. I'm impatient to get out in the yard and start cutting back the plants (many) that didn't get done last fall, and raking aside leaves from the flower beds. Too cold, though, for me and for the plants.

Monday, March 09, 2009


My first Bundt cake

I didn't have time to go out of town to get the fancy liqueur (need cake by tonight for Woman's Club meeting) so this one is pistachio with chocolate glaze. Now that wasn't so hard.


On the knitting scene, I've been working on writing up the pattern for the child's vest, and test knitting a sample in a different size and different color combo (yarn courtesy of Saver's thrift store).

I'm afraid the purple vest for me is on hold for the duration.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Can I borrow 2 ounces of vodka?

Well, in anticipation of my soon to be arriving Bundt cake pan, I did in fact plan to look up some Harvey Wallbanger Cake recipes. Couldn't remember why that particular name stuck in my head from the distant past, only that it was wildly popular for a while.

In the meantime, Bets got on the ball and sent me a recipe link. It looks easy enough for even me to make, and very tasty, too. But it calls for 1/4 cup of vodka. Now who has 1/4 cup of vodka just sitting around the house? Well, OK, probably a lot of people - but, as it happens, not us. A fifth would last the rest of our natural lives and beyond. Maybe I could find one of those little airline sized bottles somewhere. Even though I would feel hugely furtive buying it, because you know anyone not on an airplane only wants that size so it will fit into a brown paper bag. But, it also calls for 5 ounces of Galliano. I don't think that comes in little bottles, and if hazy memory serves, it's kind of pricey.

Wonder if I could just substitute single malt Scotch? That we have.

Or I could buy the vodka and Galliano, make the cake and put a concerted effort into polishing off a lot of cocktails. Come to think of it, that may explain why the cake was so popular in the first place.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Good Omens

I heard the cranes flying overhead for the first time this morning. And, by golly, when I looked out the kitchen window, there was a robin hopping around the back yard.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

So who needs a Bundt pan?

I do, I do.

Seriously, what is not to like about Nordic Ware? They make great quality bakeware. They do their manufacturing in the U.S. (jobs, people); they are headquartered in Minnesota (yay); they have won state and city awards for their green practices; and did I mention that they make great products?

So when I saw that Bets is promoting a cancer research fundraiser on her blog (details here), I decided that it was finally time for this Midwesterner to get a Bundt pan. They company is giving a very generous cut to her group. The cost to me is regular retail. I do pay shipping, but I don't have to drive to Madison and go hauling through stores. I'm on it.

Now I'm off to Google a recipe for Harvey Wallbanger cake.

(I should note, that the fundraiser isn't limited to Bundt pans, it includes All the Nordic Ware products).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


I finished the little vest (well all except for weaving in some ends). The neckline looks a bit on the smallish side, but it's very stretchy. I can pull it over my own head, so it should be fine for even a really big headed two to three year old.

And I'm back on track with the purple vest. The back is done and I have a good start on one of the front pieces.

I'm hoping to get at least to the bottom of the armhole by the end of the day.

Monday, March 02, 2009

How nice

Marie gave me a blog award, (thank you, Marie!).

The first part of the rules of the game is to link back to her site, which I am really happy to do, because 1) she's a nice person and 2) she does lovely things with cables and shares how she does them in free patterns.

The second part is to link to other "nominees", notify them and ask them to pass it along; and this part I'm going to modify just a little. I want to share some sites, but I'm not (for various reasons including the fact that I have never "met" some/most of these people even online) going to do the notification part, just let you know why I like them.

The Clay Dojo I stumbled on this one while doing a Google image search for archaic Greek terracottas. Some amazing images of what can be done with clay (more contemporary than ancient).

The Cat Pottery is not a blog, it's an online catalog/commercial site. But I love dropping by from time to time to look at the pictures.

I've enjoyed Bonnie's knitting blog (Blue Peninsula), for quite a while, but have only lately tuned in to Quotidiart, her art blog.

If you are interested in knitting flat geometric shapes, Positively Polygonal is a good resource.

I have probably linked to Kay McDonagh before, but I simply love her animal etchings, so don't mind doing it again. Just looking at them makes me feel happy.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


We had a full house yesterday at Last Saturday Knitting, which was wonderful. Laura wore her Must Have Cardigan, Dale-Harriet brought many (though not all) of her baby hats, and told us all about her stunning new costume for the Historical Society outreach programs. (If you want to know just how stunning it is, she has pictures on her blog.) Elizabeth brought her camera (as well as something special to be noted a little further on) so it may be that actual people pictures will appear soon on her blog. As always, Linda, was good company. She's been pretty directly hit by the recession,damn it anyway, and we're all pulling for her.

Brenda was working on a lovely pair of fingerless gloves, Molly Bee (fresh from cable surgery) was knitting DNA, and KittyMommy (Queen of Sauerkraut) was making fish (hats).

My project du jour was a child's vest that I'm knitting from leftovers. When finished, it will go to the service project I'm currently involved with. It's semi-improvisational; the pattern stitches evolved as I worked. I also changed my mind twice on the armhole treatment while working my way up to it, and the neckline treatment is still "in development". It's been a fun, and fairly quick knit.

But what is that subtly elegant object sitting on top of it? That is my new double pointed needle case. Elizabeth made it for me, and I love it.

It's lined with some fabric I had passed along to (palmed off on) her last month. I love the elastic closure loop, less fiddly than ties. I love the combination of fabrics. What a graceful blend of form and function, and extra special because it's from a friend.