A Good Yarn

Monday, November 27, 2006

Striped Bell Hat

Yay! The Vikings finally won a game - and almost in convincing fashion, too. I spent the rest of the evening at home and knit up another hat to felt for Pine Ridge:

This will be my last item for Pine Ridge for this go around. I am sending everything out to them next week - I'll post a picture of the fantastic bounty of goodies I collected. Then I gotta start on a few things I want to make for Christmas gifts.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Combo Platter

I have a mix of things to post about today. I'll start with the knitting, so if you're not interested in the other things, you can move on to the next blog at the end of that. This weekend I made a square for the Lizard Ridge blanket:

This is color 159 and the picture doesn't do it justice. The colors are more saturated and lovely than they look in that picture. I'm not going to start working on this blanket full on right now. I just wanted to try one square and see if I like it. I do, so eventually I'll make the blanket. I may just make one square every now and then when I'm bored with my other projects. I got this yarn at Amazing Threads on the Treasure Hunt last month.

I also finally felted those slippers for the Pine Ridge Reservation:

This is the same slipper pattern from Knit One, Felt Too! that I used for the kids' slippers earlier this month. The yarn is Mango Moon Wooly in Lemon/Lime. I don't think I'll use this yarn again. I bought it at Yarn Garage because I was in love with the very bright colors and because Mango Moon "provides safe shelter, health care and education to woman in Nepal." I'm assuming that is supposed to be women and not just one woman. It's a fairly expensive yarn. It's pretty scratchy and of uneven texture, so I think it is best for felting. It felted down pretty well, but it's still a bit longer than I wanted - but that may be the pattern calling for knitting too long. I would say these will fit a size 9 or 10 woman's foot. They're a little bit hairy, so I may shave them a bit. My biggest problem though is that I found A LOT of knots in both skeins. There were at least 2-3 knots in each skein.

OK, on to other pursuits. I mentioned yesterday that I took a card class at Archiver's. I made some Christmas cards and I was the only one in the class. It was so odd to just be sitting at the table with the teacher and have her guide me through the cards step by step. The 2.5 hour class was over after an hour because it's much quicker to explain to just one person and I'm fairly efficient. I was a bit nervous having her watch me do all the cutting and coloring and such, though. These are the cards I made:

Finally, I finished my last book club selection:

I had mixed feelings about this book. It started out very slowly and was difficult to read. I probably would have set it down if it hadn't been for book club. The book is about a man whose wife has just died, so he returns to a seaside village where he spent a memorable summer in his childhood. The book moves back and forth between the present, the childhood summer and the man's relationship with his wife and her illness. I like that device of not telling a story in a strict chronological order, but the shifts were often very abrupt and often there was no visual cue to know the time had shifted - one paragraph was set in the present and the next was the childhood summer. It was very confusing. The language the author used was also quite difficult. Sentences were very complex, with many phrases, each separated by a comma. Sometimes by the time I got to the end of the sentence, I couldn't remember what it was about. The main character is a professor so he also uses a vocabulary I don't understand. I feel like I have a pretty good vocabulary, but there was a word I didn't know pretty much every other page. It made for very frustrating reading at first. About 1/3 of the way through, the language was less dense and the story picked up pace and it became much easier to continue. The story itself was very lovely and I did like it. There are also times when the author uses phrases that are really beautiful - one that stuck in my head was when the main character decides not to speak to another man who is staying in the same boarding house and he says "the night is long and my temper is short". The book got a very good reception at book club, so if you are a great reader of literature, I think you may enjoy this book. It's quite short, though I don't think it could be longer and so dense.

That's it for today. I'm off to the Vikings game - please, please, please let them win and not be yet another wasted afternoon at the Metrodome.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Giving Thanks

I hope all of my American friends had a lovely Thanksgiving. It was a nice day for me. We've had unseasonably warm weather (don't worry, the temperatures are falling again), so it was nice to just walk around without a jacket and all that stuff. And to feel the sun on my face - winter can get a bit gloomy. I watched football for a bit and then headed over to my brother's place. He made a wonderful, huge free-range turkey. The meal was delicious. I played games with my nephew Michael, and then we saw this film:

Believe it or not I didn't really care for it. First, what I didn't like: there seemed to be a confusion of what the film was about. It starts out as a fable about accepting people for who they are - the main character, Mumble, is an Emporer penguin who doesn't sing like the rest of the Emporer penguins - instead, he dances. He's scorned and ridiculed by the elders because that's not "penguin", but of course his dancing proves to be heroic. That's a good story. But it sort of shifts in the middle. Mumble meets a group of Adelie penguins who love his dancing. He brings them back with him to Emporerland and the elders mistrust and scorn the Adelies because they're foreigners - so a bit of a theme of not mistrusting foreigners. Then it switches yet again into a story about human encroachment on wildlife habitat - the humans are fishing the seas and there are no fish left for the penguins. Any of these stories would be good, but it all seems like a mishmash. Also, those Adelie penguins are led by Ramon, who is voiced by Robin Williams. The Adelies all speak in a sort of East LA latino accent, which seems a bit racist when voiced by Robin Williams and as one of the sole sources of "humor" in the film. Williams also voices another penguin who sort of sounds like Barry White. That's another problem I had with the film - it really was pretty downbeat and dreary and didn't have much humor. A movie about talking penguins really should be kind of funny, right?

What I did like of the film - it was great animation. It was CGI with some live action footage mixed in too and looked great. The dancing and singing were great too. As I mentioned, all the Emporer penguins (except Mumbles) sing - they have a heartsong, which they sing and when they find another penguin whose heartsong meshes with their own, they are mates. The mixing of the songs was really cool. And Mumble's dance is actually tapped by Savion Glover. I should also mention that Michael loved the movie. Apparently he didn't find it dreary at all. Kate and Ben saw it yesterday and loved it too. So, I guess the kiddies will love it.

Yesterday I went for a visit with my grandpa and then I went to the office for a couple of hours. I know, I really wanted to take the whole long weekend off, but I just didn't get everything done I needed to on Wednesday. Anyway, last night I had dinner with a friend and then we saw this:

This one I loved! Will Ferrell plays an IRS auditor who all of a sudden hears a woman narrating his life. As if that wasn't annoying enough, she mentions that he's going to die imminently. Needless to say, he sort of freaks out and eventually seeks advice from a literature professor played by Dustin Hoffman. The narrator is a novelist played by Emma Thompson. It's really a fascinating story about literature and fate and living life to its fullest. There's also a love story between Ferrell and Maggie Gyllenhall, who plays a progressive baker who Ferrell audits, but also falls in love with. The cast is wonderful. Ferrell proves he can play drama as well as comedy (kind of like those early movies with Robin Williams). Thompson is fantastic as the very depressed author who can't figure out how to kill her main character. I also really liked Dustin Hoffman for the first time in a long while. He plays the lit professor in a very quirky but not overdone way. I was abolutely charmed and caught up in this film.

I haven't been knitting a ton, with all this other stuff going on. I did finish another mitered square:

I also took a card class at Archiver's, but I'll save that for next time.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another weekend wrap up

I finished up knitting the felted slippers - you can see how huge they are:

Aren't they huge? I'm interested in seeing how they turn out, post-felting. Maybe I'll have time to throw them in the wash tonight. I also knit a scarf this weekend:

You could call this the Treasure Hunt scarf. As you may recall, seven of our local yarn stores had a treasure hunt one weekend in October. I visited each store, bought yarn at every store, but didn't win a thing. No door prize. No grand prize. Nothing. I may not have good luck in drawings, but I am exceedingly lucky in my friendships. My friend Rebecca was the grand prize winner of a Treasure Chest of yarn, books, needles and knitting notions. And her generosity is as great as her luck - she shared something from the treasure chest with each of us in our knitting group. She gave me the glass knitting needles you see in the picture above. She also gave me a very cute tape measure from the chest, because I am infatuated with tape measures and have a small collection going. Anyway, another very nice friend from the knitting group, Connie, took pity on me and gave me her door prize - that fluffy, soft purple yarn I made the scarf from. It's Lana Grossa pep and is very soft and fuzzy. I just made a simple garter stitch scarf, but on the big size 13 glass needles, so it looks vaguely lacy. I enjoyed knitting on the glass needles, but I wouldn't want to do it all the time. They are really slippery - like glass! At first, I had a hard time keeping the stitches on. Once the stitches are down to the wide part of the needle, they don't slide easily, though, so it's sort of tradeoff. I also am not very used to knitting with straight needles, so I had to adjust to having those needle ends hanging out the bottom of my hands. It was very slow going. The needles are very heavy, which I both liked, but didn't like because it made my wrists tired. I loved the sound of the tips clinking against each other. I loved the look of the yarn through the needle. The needles themselves are gorgeous - they have a small glass ball on each end which didn't photograph well, but I love art glass and these are definitely that! They also came in a very cool clam shell case with a retro fabric covering it. Very nice - I am thrilled to have such generous friends!

I also was very bad and broke my promise to myself not to buy any more yarn until after Christmas. I am in another knitting group and we got together at Needlework Unlimited on Saturday night and I just couldn't be in a yarn shop for three hours without buying any yarn. They had a shawl hanging in the shop that I was quite taken with, so I bought the pattern and yarn - it's only one skein!

The shop model was orange, so I was torn between that and this purple. It's hard to tell in that awful picture, but the yarn actually is sort of variegated. It makes a lovely blended looking fabric. I had a full punchcard, so I didn't spend all that much on it. And now I'm renewing my pledge - no more yarn until the new year.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


Wow, this has been a busy week! I've got more cases right now than I've ever had and three of them opened this month. There's always a lot of work right at the beginning of a case. To make matters worse, I had my worst migraine ever Thursday. My head hurt so much it made my sick to my stomache. I had to come into the office for a short meeting with a client and to write up a court report. Then I went home and took a nap, then got back up for a hearing in the late afternoon. I went right back to bed afterwards and finally slept it off. Man, talk about bad timing. Early next week will be equally busy as I have 4 hearings and I need to finish up work and write reports for all of them. Then the long weekend - can't wait!

I did manage to sneak away for a movie last night:

This is another one that has been out for a while, so you probably know what it's about. Jack Nicholson plays a Boston mob boss named Frank Costello. Matt Damon is his protege who becomes a State Police Detective so Costello will have a man on the inside. Leo DiCaprio plays a State Police Detective who has uncles that were in Costello's crew, so he stages his departure from the State Police so he can infiltrate the Costello crew himself, undercover. Eventually Damon and DiCaprio are trying to figure out who each other are.

I loved this film. It's gotten great reviews (92% at rottentomatoes.com) and they're well deserved. I'm a huge Scorsese fan and have loved all of his movies, but this one will thrill those who have been disappointed with some of his movies lately. It's a return to the "mean streets" and it's incredibly suspenseful and gripping. It's a pretty long movie and by the end I was just on the edge of my seat, wondering if Damon was going to discover DiCaprio or vice versa and what was going to happen to Costello and the others. It was a wild ride and very satisfying. DiCaprio finally has sort of grown into his face, so he doesn't look like such a baby and he turns in a great performance as a detective who just desperately wants out of his situation and to regain his identity. I liked Damon too as sort of another Tom Ripley - a man who is able to hide an evil nature behind good looks and charm. I will warn you that there is sudden and intense violence in this movie that is very real. Oh, I also really loved the soundtrack. Scorsese did such a great job of chosing songs to play and repeat in key scenes.

I also have been doing a bit of knitting. I made another item for the Pine Ridge Reservation. Pre-felting:

And Post:

Project Name: Spirals
Designer: Pick Up Sticks!
Pattern Source: Leaflet
Yarn: Araucania Nature Wool (blue) and Cascade 220 (orange)
Yarn Source: Project Colorswap - Elizabeth
Date Started: 11/12/06
Date Completed: 11/15/06

Comments: I am very disappointed in how this hat came out. I used the rest of the Araucania Nature Wool for the main body of the hat and leftovers from my felted pumpkin for the brim. The Araucania is a thinner yarn than the 220 and the difference was much more evident in this hat than in the slippers - the brim is too big for the rest of the hat. I am amazed by how much this hat felted - it started out big enough for me to wear and ended up being baby-size. The other disappointment is that most of the french knots I tied ended up felting inside of the hat, so they disappeared. I could tie new knots on the already felted hat, but I don't want to have all that yarn inside the hat, so I'm just going to leave it as is.

I've also started another pair of slippers - same pattern as the child's pair I made earlier this month, but in an adult size:

When I finished the second one, maybe I'll put it on my foot so you can see how huge it is. I also finished another mitered square:

This is lucky number 13, so I decided to lay out 12 of them just to see how it's coming. The pattern in the book calls for 20 squares (4 x 5), so I thought I'd see how it looks at 3 x 4:

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


Finished Object, not the other thing.

Project Name: Wooly Pumpkin
Designer: Marie Mayhew
Pattern Source: Leaflet
Yarn: Cascade 220
Yarn Source: Sheepy Yarn Shoppe
Date Started: 10/26/06
Date Completed: 11/11/06

Comments: This was one of my purchases during the Yarn Store Treasure Hunt. I really thought the shop model was so cute, so I bought the pattern and the yarn at Sheepy Shoppe. I originally intended to needle felt a jack-o-lantern face and make it a Halloween decoration, but I obviously finished it up too late, so it's a Thanksgiving decoration, at least for now. I can still do the jack-o-lantern after Thanksgiving. It was an easy project and as always, I love how Cascade 220 felts. Stuffing it was a little harder because there's only a small hole on the bottom after you finish felting it. Maybe I should have put more stuffing in.

Project Name: Slide On Slippers
Designer: Kathleen Taylor
Pattern Source: Knit One, Felt Too!
Yarn: Araucania Nature Wool (blue) and Cascade 220 (yellow)
Yarn Source: Project Colorswap - Elizabeth
Date Started: 11/5/06
Date Completed: 11/10/06

Comments: I made these slippers for the Pine Ridge Reservation. I used the Araucania Nature Wool that Elizabeth sent me from the Project Colorswap. This yarn is a little bit thinner than the Cascade 220, but it felts very nicely. It was a bit hairy, so I shaved it and it looks great. I love the color variations. I have started another pair of these slippers in an adult size.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

More Movies

Another weekend that just raced by. Now that the holidays are almost upon us, I guess I should get used to it. This weekend I had Talk Cinema again and the film this time was a little more obscure than Borat:

This is an independent film that has been playing in film festivals and is scheduled to open in a couple of theaters in New York next month. Hopefully the word of mouth will keep growing and it will get a wider distribution, because I really enjoyed this film. Nick Nolte plays a baseball umpire who strikes up an unlikely friendship with Trevor Morgan's character, a high school pitcher, after Morgan is caught vandalizing Nolte's house in retaliation for a pitch being called a walk, which cost Morgan's team the game. The movie starts out very, very slowly and the editing was really choppy. I couldn't understand where all these separate scenes were going and what the point of the film was. But eventually, it really caught me and I understood everything. Nolte's acting is incredible in this film - the way he expresses really intense emotions without a word. Amazing. One thing that became clear during our discussion after the film is that each viewer puts a little bit of themselves into the interpretation of the film. Everything isn't completely clear and spelled out, and depending on your own life and experiences, you may read it slightly differently than your viewing companion. I love that about a film. I would highly recommend this film if you get a chance to see it.

I also saw this film this weekend:

It's been out for a while, so you probably already know the basic plot - Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play rival magicians whose competition becomes increasingly dangerous. Bale and Jackman are two of my favorite actors and the film is directed by Christopher Nolan, who always makes intriguing movies that I quite enjoy. None of them disappoint me, although this is not on the same level as my favorite Nolan film, Memento. The film has a number of twists and turns and I have to admit that I did not find them surprising - I generally figured out what was going to be revealed before it was revealed. However, I still enjoyed the film.

I also did some felting of those projects I showed you last week, but I'll save that for my next post. I do have one addition to stash. Earlier this fall I joined the Sweet Sheep Sock Club and the first shipment arrived:

It's Mama-E's C*Eye*Ber Fiber in the Jolene colorway. The yarn itself is a very nice superwash wool with nylon and feels wonderful. I'm not crazy about the colorway. Teal and Peach are two colors that aren't my favorite and they're very strong in this skein. I like the pink and the robin's egg blue, though. Maybe I'll knit something for a baby instead of socks with it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Thank you!!!

I have had amazing good luck in all of the swaps I've joined. I have "met" fantastic knitters and gotten to know some of them a little better. And I've been matched with such generous and thoughtful knitters and received just lovely packages. My luck holds as I received a thrilling assortment of goodies from Cate in the Knit Flix Swap. First of all, look at the fantastic notecards she has:

She sent a lot of cute little things that I'll definitely use:

From the left, one of my favorite movie treats, Kit Kat Bites, a very cute package of knitting pins - the tips are rounded so they don't split the yarn so much, a very cute package of tissues, inspired by the Victoria and Albert Museum, some tea lights, some cinnamon candies in a Scrapbooking Girl tin (cute and I love Cinamon!), some pretty pink roses trim, some awesome flower buttons, a package of gum and some Halloween stickers! Yay! All cute, fun and definitely useful. That alone would have been an awesome package, but she didn't stop there.

A tin of Cashew Thunder Popcorn in a gorgeous Terry Redlin tin. Mr. Redlin is a South Dakota artist - his paintings are really pretty and do remind me of home.

These cards are so fantastic! I really wish I had made them. They are really beautifully made, with great papers and stamps. She also made me one of the totally cute clothes she's been knitting up lately:

I hate to be like my grandma was, but I think this stuff might be too cute to use.... Oh yeah, then there as the movies!

I think those were such perfect choices for me! I can't wait to have a little time to settle in and break them out. And of course, what's a knitting swap without yarn?

Cate is from Iowa and sent me some Iowa-based yarns! This one is a soysilk from soybeans grown in Iowa - how cool is that?! And I'm in love with that colorway! That's enough yardage to make something really special, so I've gotta figure out what. She also sent another skein of loveliness:

A skein of hand-dyed wool and mohair from the Crazy Girl Yarn Shop in Iowa. I LOVE this colorway - the picture doesn't do it justice. I like to knit for others, but I'm definitely making something for myself with this.

Cate, you rock! Thanks so much for so many awesome treats. I literally was tearing up when I opened the box and taking things out because I was so happy to see such loveliness.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mmmmmm....Lame Duck!

For the most part, I am quite happy with the election results yesterday. I'm happy that the Democrats took back the House of Representatives and have at least a split Senate. I'm happy that Donald Rumsfeld has been forced to resign - and that Bush/Rove wasn't smart enough to make the move before the election and perhaps draw some people back to the GOP. I'm happy that here in Minnesota, we are sending our first woman to the U.S. Senate and our first African-American to the U.S. House of Representatives (and he's also the nation's first Muslim Congressperson). Bush as lame duck for the next two years gives me hope. What makes me sad is that the DFL can't put forward a better candidate for Governor, so we're stuck with Tim Pawlenty again. Ugh. I was an Election Judge for the first time and really enjoyed the experience.

I was assigned to a precinct in downtown St. Paul, so it was fun to see the mix of people coming in to vote. The metro area is sort of like a donut - a big ring of red in the suburbs and a blue middle in the Twin Cities proper of Minneapolis and St. Paul. So, predictably, the precinct I officiated in voted heavily for the Democrats (as well as the precinct I voted in, for that matter). Yet another reason I like living in the City of St. Paul. We had a very steady stream of voters in our precinct, but I was assigned the least active role in the precinct, so I had plenty of down time. Luckily, I brought my knitting and knit up some more miters. Here's another one I have pinned out to block, but haven't sewn together yet:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


I had to laugh when I saw the knitting calendar page warning against knitting and driving, because that's just what I had been doing all day that day. Well, actually not driving, I was just a passenger. I had to go to Fargo for work, so I was lucky enough to be able to knit all the way up and back. I got another mitered square done, but haven't had a chance to sew it together:

Thursday night I finally managed to finish the Lozenge Socks:

Project Name: Gentleman's Sock with Lozenge Pattern
Designer: Nancy Bush
Pattern Source: Knitting Vintage Socks
Yarn: Socks That Rock
Yarn Source: Blue Moon Fiber Arts
Date Started: 8/30/06
Date Completed: 11/2/06

These were knit in the Lagoon colorway. I knit them on size 0 needles in the hope that the tighter gauge would fit my foot. They fit coming off the needles, but once I blocked them, the texture spread out a bit and they're a little too big now - I'd say they'd fit a large woman's foot or a small man's foot. I am going to donate them to the Pine Ridge Reservation. Knitting on size 0 needles really hurt my hands, so I won't knit STR at that gauge again.

Over the weekend I went on a knitting retreat that was really fun. I did the driving this time, so no knitting time there, but Friday night after a wonderful meal we all changed into our PJs and enjoyed knitting, laughing and wine late into the night. Saturday I had to get my mocha coffee fix and a delicious cinnamon roll at the local bakery, but pretty much the rest of the day was spent knitting. I did take a short break to get a mini-massage - my skin is already so dry and I just wanted to get moistured with the oil. I think I'm going to have to find a good moisturizing spa treatment this winter. Sunday was a shorter day of knitting, then returning home to pick up Fiona and then head over to my brother's to watch the Vikings. The game was so pathetic I should have just stayed up north and knitted some more. This was the first time Fiona went to the kennel without Finbar, so I was a little worried, but they said she did really well - they give us report cards each day and they noted that Fiona had a boyfriend over the weekend - another little Sheltie male, the same size as her. So cute! The staff at the kennel said very nice things about missing Finbar, too, which was so nice. I always get the dogs groomed at the kennel, so I wanted to show you how shiny and pretty Fiona looks, but she HATES getting her picture taken. Here's the best I could do:

I really should rename her Greta Garbo. Anyway, with all that knitting this weekend, I managed to get a lot done. I got another mitered square done, but I haven't even blocked it yet, so I'll show you that later. I finished up knitting the pumpkin:

It's huge! I probably won't have time to throw it in the washer until this weekend. I also started a pair of felted slippers for the Pine Ridge Reservation:

I also knit a pair of socks over the weekend. No, really, I did. We each got one of the sock blocker keychains and a mini skein of Opal sock yarn, so I knit a sock for my new keychain and one for the one Deb gave me. Aren't they so small and cute?

I wasn't 100% happy with how the Opal yarn knitted up, so I'm definitely going to try some STR. I think the slightly thicker yarn will work better.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Happy Birthday Deb!

Chappy's Mum has asked for a very simple birthday present - show her the November page on your calendar. I love calendars, so I've got a bunch of them around the house. She mentioned that the November page is often sort of blah looking, and I guess she's right about this knitting calendar that is right by my back door:

It's a pretty blanket, but gray and brown is rather depressing. I like having a calendar by the back door so I have something pretty to look at while I'm waiting for Fiona to finish "her business" in the back yard.

I got a free calendar from the Humane Society so I put it on the side of the fridge. I use it to see whether it's an even or odd date, because Fiona gets one of her meds only every other day (even dates). This is sort of gray and blah, too, except the kitty is pretty cute and the red berries are very festive:

In the dining room is a calendar I bought in Las Vegas. It's a 2 year calendar and I must admit I liked it more when I got it and I'm glad it's almost done. I use the dining room calendar to record the movies I see in the theaters, so at the end of the year I can look through the list and come up with my Top Ten Favorites for the year. Nothing in Vegas is blah:

In the living room I have another knitting calendar. I don't use this as a calendar at all, just as decoration. November's picture is a vintage magazine cover warning about the dangers of knitting and driving. It's cute, but I must admit I like the yarny pictures better:

I have some daily calendars by my computer and in my bedroom too. I also thought I'd share my calendar in the office:

I have another calendar in the office of Star Wars Movie Posters, but it fell off the wall and is stuck somewhere between the wall and filing cabinet, so I guess it's going to stay there until I move out of the ofice.

Happy Birthday Deb!!!