Monday, December 26, 2005


Still working on the sweater--and nothing else. It took me most of the week to do the first sleeve, since I ripped most of it out after I was almost done because it was too long (I changed the increases from every 6 rows to every 5 and it helped). Saturday I finished the first sleeve, but only after taking out the cap shaping several times until it fit the shaping on the finished body sections--major frustration. I finally started the second sleeve today. However, since the kids were unable to come here for Christmas because of car trouble, I now have at least a week to finish it.

Meantime, I've been reading, but just a few books: Jeffery Deaver's The Coffin Dancer--the second Lincoln Rhyme mystery, good, but full of scary tension and twists; Shirley Jump's The Angel Craved Lobster--the third in the "romance with recipes" series, enjoyably humorous and with all-seafood recipes this time (the Indiana brothers are real characters); Mercedes Lackey's The Wizard of London--another in the Elemental Masters series and an engrossing story (tho I liked Phoenix and Ashes better). [Looking at the first Amazon review, it appears the original stories about the parrot and raven featured in the story are available online at the Baen Free Library.]

Friday, December 16, 2005


I'm currently pretty much working exclusively on a knit sweater for Billy. It's an 8-ish, using size 17 needles and three strands of yarn, each a different shade of blue. It's loosely based on the basic rolled edge sweater in The Yarn Girls' Guide to Kid Knits: Patterns for Babies and Toddlers, but up-sized, mostly using the guide in Ann Budd's The Knitters Handy Book of Patterns. I've done the back and am almost done with the front and have yet to start the sleeves. If I get it done soon, I'll try to do a sweater for Daniel and Andrew, too--which, being smaller, might take less time. I only started Billy's last week.

Of course, I'm still also trying to read my overdue books as well (and watch ANTM 5, TA:MS, and TA, work, keep my blogs up, and read about the TV shows on FORT). I've recently finished Teresa Medeiros' After Midnight--a "Regency" vampire story (though I'm not a fan of vampire stories in general, this one handled it well); Sarah Andrews' Only Flesh and Bones--Geologist Em Hansen investigates the murder of the wife of her former boss (I liked it, but it does take a while for the story to develop, then you're hooked); two Aaron Elkins' mysteries, Old Bones--Gideon Oliver uses his expertise as a bone specialist to identify bones found in an old French wine cellar (a page turner and a likeable protagonist)--and A Deceptive Clarity--art museum curator tries to find the fake in a collection of art formerly "liberated" by Nazis during WWII (very interesting, since I like art--tho not the period Chris Norgren specializes in (Renaissance)--and the descriptions of European cities are delightful); Susan Alexander's Skintight--Las Vegas showgirl meets professional poker player, who just happens to be the son of her former husband (great, funny romance and I especially liked the dance-related parts); Victoria Alexanders' When We Meet Again--another Effington lady finds her destiny, this time a "disgraced" cousin (Pamela) comes home and finds herself engaged to an exiled Prince, Alexei (another funny, romantic story); Jude Deveraux' First Impressions--a mother of a newlywed inherits a Southern colonial house, finds herself in danger, and needs the help of a jaded FBI agent and a local lawyer (delightful, hard-to-put-down book); Carl Hiassen's latest YA book, Flush--teenager finds himself helping his "ecoterrorist" (sort of) father discover the truth about a local gambling ship's illegal waste dumping (a fun read, with wacky characters, tho not quite as good as Hoot); and Jenny Nimmo's Charlie Bone and the Castle of Mirrors--more about Billy Raven's ancestral background is discovered when Charlie and his friends try to save him from evil "adoptive" parents (good story, but seems to be more of a too-short filler leading to the next story).

Monday, December 05, 2005


Last winter I made these darling Jester Hats for the three youngest Iowa-based grandchildren (mainly because they were supposed to work up quickly). The pattern came from The Yarn Girls'Book of Kid Knits: Patterns for Babies and Toddlers. I finished Thea's as while we were there and did take pictures of them wearing them, but they weren't as clear as I would have liked. When they came to see us last week, they all had their hats so I took pictures of the hats alone. They are a bit big on them, but do look cute.

All three hats:

Andrew's hat:

Daniel's hat:

Thea's hat:

Saturday, December 03, 2005


Well, I did finally finish the poncho on Sunday, just before they left for Iowa.

Surprisingly, it fits just right.

It seemed so big while I was working on it. It was the only craft I worked on all week, even during lunch at work and during the evenings while everyone else was watching movies. But I did get it done.

Now I'm kind of in a wishy-washy, what-should-I-work-on-next state. I did do some on the baby afghan while watching my tape of three episodes of America's Next Top Model and one episode of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart.

I've also been trying to finish some of my majorly-overdue books--some so overdue they've been declared "lost". I recently returned Elizabeth Castro's Publishing a Blog with Blogger--got some good hints, though a lot I already knew; Marc Romano's Crossworld: One Man's Journey into America's Crossword Obsession--mostly about the annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (I enjoyed this very much); Kathy Reich's Crossbones--a kind of departure since it delved into the possibility of a post-Crucifixion Christ (very interesting); Patricia Rice's Much Ado about Magic--the latest in the Malcolm Family series in which the women have "talents" that might designate them "witches" (loved it and can't wait for the next); Shirley Jump's The Bride Wore Chocolate--another of her funny recipe-a-chapter contemporary romances in which each recipe (in this book, all have chocolate in them and are easy) has relevant character commentary (enjoyable, but the recipes really made me wish I wasn't allergic to chocolate [sigh!]); Jeff Lindsay'sDearly Devoted Dexter--funny and disturbingly gruesome at the same time because the main character/narrator is himself a serial killer of serial killers (really nasty deaths, but still a compelling read); Sarah Andrews' Mother Nature--geologist Em Hansen goes to California and investigates a murder relating to environmental cleanup of old, buried, leaking oil tanks in a flood plain (not a quick read, but very interesting); Jo Beverly's A Most Unsuitable Man--another excellent romance set in the Malloren milieu (hard to put this one down, even though this time period is not a favorite of mine). I just finished Betina Krahn's The Book of the Seven Delights--an exciting, Indiana Jones/The Mummy-type of adventure romance set around the turn-of-the-century in which the heroine (a Librarian!!) searches for the lost Library of Alexandria (loved it! great fun)--and Sam Baker's Fashion Victim--murder during New York's and Milan's Fashion Weeks (very timely and intriguing since I've been watching ANTM 5).

Yvonne and I also watched Revenge of the Sith this week--great special effects, but the story, etc., "eh". Now I'll have to read the book version--which is supposed to fill in some gaps.

Friday, November 25, 2005


I'm still working on Mel's poncho. I started the 4th and last section yesterday in the car on our way to Wisconsin, but still have a ways to go before Sunday when she goes back to Iowa--and it's her Birthday. It's the only craft I've worked on for the last week--when I realized it had to be finished NOW--except for the ornament I made at my AAUW Craft Group on Tuesday night. And, of course, I've worked every day this week (except Thanksgiving) and I will work all weekend, too. Nutcracker is Saturday night.

Saturday, November 12, 2005


I finally started Melanie's Poncho using the same pattern as Thea's, only in turquoise and larger. At the moment, tho, I'm frustrated because I've ripped out at least 8 rows because the number of stitches was wrong and the yarn-over rows had to be ripped out completely--several times already (AAARRRGGGHHH!). I' am still going to try to have it done by Thanksgiving for her birthday--they'll be coming here for that holiday.

I'm coming along on the small "Autumn Sampler" and Jean's afghan, bit by bit. I've added the "Turkish Afghan" to my current projects, in rotation, also having ripped out 6 rows because I thought the "intarsia" stripe looked wrong--did it again and it looks much the same; oh, well. I tried a small circle-type flower pattern on the white afghan and like the way it looks; I'll use it for the small half-triangle sections, at least.

Recently I've finished Beth Ciotta's Charmed(a sequel to Jinxed), a cute and funny contemporary, Elizabeth Peters'The Camelot Caper, on audio download from Overdrive (I read it many years ago and it's still silly and funny), Margaret Maron's Rituals of the Season, another good cozy mystery about Judge Deborah Knott, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips'Match Me If You Can, a very funny, very romantic story set in our own North-side Chicago.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


This year's pumpkin:

For the last two days I have been untangling a huge mess of yarn that has been around for years. I was trying to see if there was some yarn for a poncho and decided to sort the whole thing--it originally filled a large garbage bag.

This shows less than half of the original tangle

Yhis is a closup of the mess

Most of it was short pieces or remains of skeins. I was surprised that I had so many ends left from the weaving projects I had done in the early 70's!!--pearl cotton, warp thread, and the fingering yarn from Bridget's baby blanket. I had recently pulled out enough long pieces of the turquoise fingering yarn to make a Barbie sweater,

The sweater is from Knits for Barbie

Closeup of sweater; the little shorts were made using the small amount of brown yarn left from the afghan

but now all that's left is many pieces measuring only 2 to 6 inches. Now all that yarn is "sorted" into the pearl cotton ends, the string-ish ends, the fingering yarn ends, cotton rug yarn bits, needlepoint yarn, < 50-inch pieces (to be tied onto others in a ball for a future scrap afghan), > 50-inch to c. 60-inch pieces (to be made into "flower" centers for a future scrap afghan). Anything longer was rolled into balls and put into the boxes I have with yarn sorted by colors. The "bag" is now much smaller and neater, not trailing bits of yarn that fall out.

In looking for poncho yarn, I also decided that I'd better check that any yarn I found wasn't already "committed" to another project. So, I looked in my "partially done" box and pulled out the part of a "Turkish Afghan"

(from a Family Circle Great Ideas Fashions and Crafts, July, 1986) I had last worked on in 1997 (!), before The Fire. Sure enough, one of the colors I was thinking of using was one especially bought for that afghan. I then dug through everything again and pulled out all the yarn I had for it; only two colors could not be found, and they were small amounts that I can substitute without a problem. Another project to work on!

There is an additional on-going project I've started. This summer, I knit an all-white afghan--made up of triangles, mostly done on our trip to Seattle--that was supposed to have flowers embroidered on it. Fair time came, and I ran out of time, so no embroidery got done and I entered it "plain" (and still got a 3rd). The original design was too heavy for what I had (I had used larger needles and acrylic yarn instead of wool), so I started to look for duplicate stitch patterns. I've found some that might work, but I'm still testing and learning the technique.

Michaels has a sale on embroidery floss this week, so I did pick up the remaining skeins I need for the "Autumn Sampler"--a lovely array of Fall colors when seen together. These seasonal samplers are very small--around 3" x 5"--and done on 18-count aida; the original design calls for 36-count linen but I couldn't find any and I had enough of the 18-count for all 4 seasons.

I recently finished Donna Andrews" Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon, the next Meg Lansdowne mystery--a fun look at murder in a computer game development office. I also just finished Ellis Peters' The Knocker on Death's Door, an Inspector Felse mystery written in 1970. It was good, but dated, and the murderer was kind of obvious. I like this series, though, even if only a few volumes are in print.

Friday, October 28, 2005


I finished the 4th Seasonal Welcome from Just Cross Stitch, but have to decide how to mount them now--maybe on navy, which seems to go with all the colors used. I'll have to see what's in my stash here (a lot is in storage).

Winter Welcome Closeup

Winter Welcome

Summer Welcome

Summer Welcome Closeup

Spring Welcome

Spring Welcome Closeup

Autumn Welcome Closeup

Autumn Welcome

I also finished crocheting the first two panels of the baby afghan (that I had to go back on to add more squares) and have started the third panel. I may do the embroidery on the first two before finishing the remaining panels, just to see how it will look.

Thea's poncho was mailed on Monday. I'm trying to see what yarn I have sufficient quantities of to make more ponchos, probably doing Melanie's next--but what color??? Should I do another knit one or do the crochet version??? Decisions!

I also started knitting one of the simple little purses (from our Learn-to-Knit class at the library) for Guinevere. I can do it while watching TV during commercials.

I wanted to do the Autumn cross stitch sampler like the Winter one I finished (need to mount that, too), but I don't have some of the floss and hate to buy it off-sale when I need 12 skeins. So, I'm waiting for a sale (missed the one at JoAnn's since it was only 2 days).

Recently finished reading Donna Andrews' Revenge of the Wrought Iron Flamingos--murder at a Yorktown Reenactment with lots of interesting and funny characters--and Kasey Michaels' Shall We Dance--a post-Regency romance with Princess/Queen Caroline (never crowned) as a major character, which made it a kind of sad story with wacky characters. I also finished the Mercedes Lackey/Rosemary Edghill edited collection of urban elves stories, Bedlam's Edge--very enjoyable, though the story about evil threatening New Orleans was a bit too timely.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Just finished Odom's The Destruction of the Books--chock full of action (unfortunately of the kind to make a librarian of any time period shudder). It's another book I can barely wait to read the sequel to--like the next Harry Potter; fortunately I will only have to wait a week or two (I have a "Hold" on it) instead of a year.

The other book I finished was Elizabeth Thornton's The Marriage Trap, a well-done Historical Romance. She's one of the authors I look for.

I started Joanna Lindsey's Marriage Most Scandalous, but did not like the characters, so I didn't read beyond the first 3 chapters.

Still working on my 4 projects. I'm ready to do the neck for Thea's poncho.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


Karl compained the title was too boring, so I'm trying this title now. Better? Not? Also, I changed some colors a bit--may need more work, tho.

The baby afghan I'm crocheting is made up of strips of alternating afghan stitch and lacy-ish stitch "squares"--I thought there were 5 "squares" per strip or panel (that's what the picture shows). BUT, on rereading the directions--after having finished 1 "complete" 5 square panel and almost finishing a second--I realized each panel is actually 7 squares. Thankfully I only have to go back to one panel and unravel the edging and just continue on the second panel I'm already working on. Not a catastrophe.

I'm almost finished with Thea's poncho--started the 4th section--and the 4th seasonal cross stitch "Welcome". (I only worked a few days last week and this.) Also have gone back to another cross stitch project I've been working on sporadically for several years.

Just finished Mel Odom's The Rover--which I had started in June before I saw him at ALA. Excellent adventure! Also finished Patricia Rice's California Girl; nice contemporary romance.

Friday, October 07, 2005


Yep. I'm going to try ANOTHER blog--not that I keep up with the other 4--to record what I'm working on craft-wise and book-wise.

Right now I'm knitting a "Martha's Poncho" for Thea, with the intention of making a poncho for each of my 5 granddaughters. It's in a really nice medium blue I got at a garage sale.

I'm also crocheting an afghan for my youngest grandson. It's part afghan stitch, part lacy crochet and will have cross stitched embroidered animals on the afghan stitch parts--like the "Toy Fair" afghan I made for Maddie, but lighter weight--which should be better for California.

And I'm finishing the last in a set of 4 seasonal "Welcome" cross stitch designs intended for my parents from Just Cross Stitch magazine. We've been doing this in my AAUW craft group, too.

Also from Just Cross Stitch, I've started a set of 4 small seasonal samplers designed by Gail Bussi, one of my favorite designers. I finished the "Winter" one, but have to figure out how I want to display it--possibly as a little wall hanging rather than in a frame.

[I plan to post pics when I figure out how.]

I just finished reading Marion Chesney's Sick of Shadows (third in her new series and typically full of main characters who never do the right thing to make themselves happy) and Sam Llewellan's Little Darlings (wierd, "typically?" British satire for children, especially for those who like Lemony Snicket's books). I still liked them both.