Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Wednesdays over at the Small Things blog is Yarn Along day, where knitters and crocheters share what bit of needle goodness they're working on and what they're reading. Time for this week's installment.

I needed a smallish rug for under my family room window and decided on my version of the Big Stitch Knit Rug from Purl Bee.  Since this rug's location is frequented by muddy-footed dogs and chipmunk-watching cats, I went with an economical, easy care yarn -- Wool-Ease Thick & Quick in Wheat and Glacier.  I'll soon be changing from my total Brady Bunch decor to something more springy and summery, so the rug colors aren't going to clash with my current avocado, tangerine, and marigold hues.  I'm using much smaller needles than called for, size 13, and am making it in stripes of varying widths, mostly to combat my own boredom.  It's an extremely easy pattern and free over at the Purl Bee here.

One of my birthday gifts from my mother was Elizabeth Zimmermann's Knitting Around, which I just finished and thoroughly enjoyed.  That might sound weird for a knitting book, but about half the pages are taken up with her "digressions" and by the end of the book she's given a history of herself that is witty, concise, and wonderful (much like her patterns).  Whether I ever make anything from the book or not I'm so glad I have it.  It's particularly interesting to read about her German-born husband's escape from his homeland in 1937 when he was overheard making a snotty remark about Hitler and was trying to get out of Dodge before the Gestapo caught up with him. 

At bedtime last night I started the novel The Gun Seller by Hugh Laurie (best known for his title role in House, M.D., although to me he will always be my beloved Bertie Wooster).  It's hard to get a feel for the book after only reading three pages (I was very tired last night), but as I expected it's quirky and funny and offbeat, a little like a combination of Rowan Atkinson and Douglas Adams.

Are you reading anything good this week? 


Fear Not the Fair Isle

American Girl Knitting

Friday, March 16, 2012


I am obsessed with the "Keep Calm and Carry On" poster from World War II-era Britain.  It's such a reassuring little motto and I try to say it over and over to myself like a mantra.  (If there's one thing I've never learned to do it's "keep calm".)  I've mentioned before that I want to have Obama's Zen-like calm, but my inner Rahm Emanuel gets the better of me and shoots my middle finger skyward against my will. 

I recently read an article on BBC America's Anglophenia blog about this poster and it included the most charming video.  I knew the basic origins of the poster, but seeing this incredible second-hand bookshop, Barter Books in northern England, just increased my enthusiasm for this bit of propaganda.  (Plus, as a confirmed bibliophile, I'd give my right boob to visit that bookstore.) 

I must admit that, yes, I did purchase the iPhone app (and if my husband is reading this he can quit clutching his chest like Fred Sanford.  It only cost $.99).  With the app, though, I can join the thousands who have created their own slogans for this iconic poster.  I'm partial to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy-inspired one that reads "Don't Panic and Carry a Towel" or the knitting one urging me to "Keep Calm and Carry Yarn."  I now add to that my own creation:

And be sure to check out the video below.  It totally makes me want to wave a Union Jack.


The Top Five Best Agatha Christie Mysteries Ever!

Don't You Have Anything Better to Do?

{this moment}

{this moment} - Inspired by SouleMama

When the temperature reaches 75 degrees in southwest Ohio, of course it's time to pull out the beach blanket.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I've mentioned before that I have this 1970s obsession.  I refuse to listen to those who say my admiration for David Cassidy resembles Fatal Attraction or that I'm somehow weird for wanting to name my children (or dogs) Greg, Marcia, Peter, Jan, Bobby, and Cindy.  And so what if every time I go to King's Island I pretend I'm sitting in the seat Keith Partridge occupied on the carousel?

For someone as obsessed interested in 70s decor as I am, the last few months have been very lucky.  I stumbled on this hideously beautiful owl string-art picture at an antique store and my sister gave it to me for Christmas.  (Although she thinks the picture is disgusting, she still laments that she didn't see it first as it would have made a stunning surprise present.)

Well, last week I celebrated my birthday and my sister managed to round up a few more 70s goodies to add to my family room (which is not a monstrosity, I don't care what she says).  Makes me wanna pull out some bell-bottom trousers and listen to Bobby Sherman...

My sister (known to the Inmates as Uncle Chester) found this lovely
bit of vintage needlework at an antique store and my mother
whipped it up into a pillow.  Nothing says class like tangerine and marigold...

Despite her aversion to the colors, my sister crocheted this owl
and managed not to vomit.  (She gives the details, including a link
to the free pattern here.)

Tupperware!  She rounded up a new-in-the-bag
set of spice jars in green, orange, yellow, and brown, as
well as two Tupperware hostess books from 1970, the year I was born.

Look at the gorgeous bath set that lucky
hostess could have gotten!  And I'm wild
about that little Tupperware container key chain.
I had one when I was 12 and came home from school
to discover there was nothing but the lid hanging from
the chain.  I've mourned it for 30 years...

Oh, how I wish I could go back to my Grandma's Tupperware
party in the early 70s and get my hands on THOSE.

Another antique store find -- a book on 70s decor and architecture.
Most of the rooms are either in my classic brown/yellow/orange/green
color scheme or look like the side of the Partridge Family bus.  Heaven...

Foghorn is wild about building fairy houses out of sticks
and moss and stones in the woods.  She was SO excited
when she found out I was getting a 70s-themed one.  The house came from
Hobby Lobby, with the accessories painted by Chester.

My own bird bath with an owl on top...  Yes, there is a fowl-ish theme here.

A table and benches in my colors and a yard decoration
with a disco ball on top.

Despite my preteen son's behavior of late, which involves a lot of daydreaming about when he moves out and asking me, "Doesn't it bother you to be the worst mother in the world?", his gift proves I must be doing something right.  His father took him shopping and he bought me yarn.  Yes, the boy knows my other obsessions as well, but what is truly impressive is the one skein of multi-colored acrylic he picked out:

The Vulcan later told me that The Professor spotted that skein in the store and said, "Hey, that's Mom's 70s colors" and plucked it right up.  Makes my heart swell...


The Warden's Jail Break

Ultra Cool Vintage Camp Fire Girls Necklace

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Wednesdays over at the Small Things blog is Yarn Along day, where knitters and crocheters share what bit of needle goodness they're working on and what they're reading. Time for this week's installment.

Last week I had just started on my first (person) sweater, the well known February Baby Sweater by Elizabeth Zimmermann.  I was doing fine until I got to the sleeves and then her pithy directions stopped me cold.  I had feared I wasn't quite up to making a sweater from a pattern that took up less than a page of text.  Turns out I'm not the only one who got confused at this point in the pattern and a Google search turned up life-saving tips at Ruthless Knitting.   Her "if I had it to do over again, this is what I'd do" tips made it very easy and once I understood how the whole wooly puzzle went together, it all made sense.  I was actually feeling quite proud of my little pink sweater...until I ran out of yarn.  Turns out three ounces of what Zimmermann called baby yarn is not the same as my three ounces of baby yarn.  I quickly cast on with some basic Caron yarn I had in my basket and the result was a cute little off-white sweater.  I wish I  had a real baby somewhere to try it on to see how it actually fits...

This week I continue with my super secret Easter project (shhhhhh!).  In addition, I'm continuing to work on an afghan I started for Project Linus about nine months ago.  At the time I was a new knitter and this basic afghan from the Project Linus website was just my style.  (It's a row of knit, a row of purl, and a row of pattern.  You can find the free pattern here.)  Unfortunately my knitting skills improved before I finished the afghan and now I find it utterly boring.  I pull it out now and then when I want a little mindless knitting.  I hope to finish it before the one year anniversary...

For reading I have The Private Life of the Cat Who...:  Tales of Koko and Yum Yum by Lilian Jackson Braun.  I'm a big fan of all The Cat Who... mysteries and this little volume is written as if it's from the journals of James Qwilleran, the main character and pseudo-detective in her series.  I've read all of the mysteries and, in fact, now always have one of her audio books from the library on my iPod for dog-walking and long solitary car rides.  As with Agatha Christie reading, I've found that once you get a dozen or so under your belt the stories start to run together and often you can reread without exactly remembering whodunit.

Anyone else reading something good this week?


So Mad I Could Knit

I Heart Roving Acres Yarn

Monday, March 5, 2012


One year ago today I received the best (and ultimately most expensive) birthday gift ever.  We swung by the Recycled Doggies adoption event at the Red Dog Pet Resort and returned home with a blue tick coon hound mix named Molly.  She was quickly renamed St. Jimmi.

As best I can remember, the stats for the last twelve months are as follows:
  • Seven chewed up books, including my 30-year old Nancy Drew that I read every summer.  (And I'm still a little pissy over the destruction of the book about the 1893 World's Fair...from 1893.)
  • Three dozen shredded magazines, including an early 70s Good Housekeeping featuring a Clairol ad with Farrah Fawcett.
  • One gnawed-up stick horse.
  • Close to three hundred demolished crayons, markers, pencils, pens, Happy Meal toys, Barbie dolls, notebooks, Tinker Toys, fast food meal bags, and assorted toothsome bits pulled from my desk side garbage can.  (Yes, this tends to be an almost daily occurrence.) 
  • One nibbled dress shoe belonging to The Vulcan.
  • One chomped Boyd's Bears baseball uniform-clad bear.  (Most of the stuffed animal is intact, but she ruined his little mini baseball bat.)
  •  Nine ripped socks.
  •   At least twenty large holes dug in the backyard.
  • Three twisted ankles from falls in the aforementioned holes.
  • Five obliterated wicker baskets.
  • One terribly bruised and swollen calf on The Warden thanks to a Christmas season headbutt while running at full speed.

On the other side of the balance sheet, though, we have thousands of cuddles, sloppy kisses, belly rubs, and enough hilarious antics to make her a much loved member of the family.  Yeah, I'd say we came out ahead in the long run.

It is worth noting, though, that while my husband is grumbling about the cost of this year's birthday gift, he's ignoring the true cost of last year's.  I've had to look at his sour expression for the last two weeks, ever since my new iPhone arrived.  I get regular snarly comments about the cost, about how much money I spent, about the monthly fees.  He could, on the other hand, look at the costs of St. Jimmi.  The actual adoption fee was quite reasonable, but then we have the regular vet appointments, the two extra appointments for ear infections, the obedience classes, the extra dog food (which has been significant and is obvious by the additional 17 pounds she's now carrying around), the Invisible Fence collar, the replacement costs of the various mangled items, and the expense of having a landscaper deliver a couple hundred pounds of dirt to fill all those holes.  (I've come to the conclusion that she must swallow the dirt as there are deep craters back there, but not any piles of dirt with which to fill them.)  Some day we'll add in the cost to purchase a new living room sofa, as she naturally decided my "nice" sofa was the best place for her to sleep, muddy feet and all.  And then when you think these are just the costs for the one year and her life expectancy is at least a decade...

When you look at the ledger, I think my husband got off quite cheaply this year.  But the iPhone won't bring me nearly as much joy as last year's gift.


A Furry Kind of Love

Don't You Have Anything Better To Do?