Saturday, August 25, 2007


Little Buddha, like his mother, tends towards extreme enthusiasm when speaking of things he loves. Fantastic. Wonderful. Weally Gweat. These are some of his favorite expressions. Last night, after having me read How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? for a third time, he apparently had come to the end of all the best words he knew to express his enjoyment. So he made up his own. "It's lovelyful," he whispered, stroking the cover reverently.

I think it is a perfect word, and have decided to use it myself. Today, I find myself thinking of several lovelyful things.

1. You, dear reader. I really loved all the great comments on my post about the public library on Thursday. Not only was it just cool that you share my enthusiasm for the public library, but I learned some things about my own library, too! I learned from Natalie that if the AADL doesn't have something I want, I can request it, they will order it for me, and then I will be the first person to get it when it comes in! Then Jamie chimed in to let me know that one of the many fairy doors in Ann Arbor is located at the public library's main branch. Cool! I have read about the fairy doors but have never been on a fairy door quest, and I think my boys would love going around town looking for them. Thanks, Jamie!

Cathy invited me to be her friend on goodreads - a site for seeing what your friends are reading, keeping track of what you've read and what you'd like to, and getting book recommendations from people who know your tastes. I had never heard of it before, and since I definitely need yet another net-based time-suck that caters to one of my hobby-related obsessive tendencies, I signed up right away!

Chris shared this video. I won't call it lovelyful, exactly, but it is funny.

Cath delurked and in the process mentioned that she grew up on Prince Edward Island. Yes, PEI, home of a certain redhaired orphan girl I adore. Which brings me to the next lovelyful thing.

2. Anne of Green Gables. Cath's mention of her was all it took to conjure up old and beloved memories of Anne, Diana, Gilbert, Marilla, and Matthew. I am betting that most of you share my love of her. Right before my 11th birthday, my mother gave me these:

Her own childhood copies of Anne of Green Gables and Anne's House of Dreams

On the inside cover of Anne of Green Gables is her name (in my grandmother's hand) with the date: Christmas the year my mother was 11
these books are two of my most treasured possessions

I began reading Anne of Green Gables on my 11th birthday, which also happened to be the last day of school when I was in fifth grade - I can still remember sitting at my desk with my nose in this old book, while others celebrated the end of the year. It had been a hard year for me, moving in the middle of the year and starting a new school in January, where everyone else had grown up together; our opposite ways of ending the year and starting our summers typified how alien I felt in this new place. All around the room, kids shrieked and laughed with each other, jumped up on tabletops and threw things, danced and sang. I sat alone in my desk, and cracked open a dusty 30 year-old book:

Mrs. Rachel Lynde lived just where the Avonlea main road dipped down into a little hollow, fringed with alders and ladies' eardrops and traversed by a brook that had it source away back in the woods of the old Cuthbert place; it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through those woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade; but by the time it reached Lynde's Hollow it was a quiet, well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde's door without due regard for decency and decorum; it probably was conscious that Mrs. Rachel was sitting at her window, keeping a sharp eye on everything that passed, from brooks and children up, and that if she noticed anything odd or out of place she would never rest until she had ferreted out the whys and wherefores thereof.

And with that first sentence, off I went, down the lane to Avonlea, not looking back till I'd finished the whole series (I remember closing the last book lying on the floor in front of a fire the next winter). I embraced redheaded 11 year-old Anne as a kindred spirit, and with her spunk and wit she showed me a way that no one else around me seemed to know. It is what the best books do - illuminate for us an alternate world, articulate another way of being in our own world, reveal paths other than we might have come by on our own. I know I had been invited into other worlds by other books before these, but Anne seemed to do so in a spectacular and unforgettable way, and I do not think I have been the same since.

It was that summer, as soon as I'd finished the first book, that I started to write the first of many unfinished novels, about a redheaded orphan named Amber and her best friend Diane. I can remember sitting on the screened-in porch with my dad, reading him the first chapter, which is when I learned that "gingerly" meant the exact opposite of what I thought (what disillusionment!). Later, I was thrilled to overhear my father compliment my writing to my mother (he gently overlooked the fact that my book was more than simply "inspired by" Anne). That summer, my dad decided to order me a subscription to Writer's Digest. Yes, my dad is That Cool.

Anne of Green Gables, you are still lovelyful to me.

3. Finally, lest you think this is a book blog instead of a knitting blog (though I gather you, my fellow bibliophiles, would not protest if it were), one more bit of yummy this weekend.

the Lovelyful Lace Leaf Pullover

I can't say enough about how much I'm enjoying this knit. I really should be working on the shawl I need to wear for a wedding in two months, but this pullover has me hooked (even though Monday's fall weather turned quickly back to muggy summertime). The color enchants me, the yarn is luscious, and the pattern is quick and fun. Also, I'm getting to work the math part of my brain since I'm knitting with a different gauge.

You can possibly tell from the above shot that I did decide to go ahead and knit the body in two pieces, as per the pattern (I'm doing the arms before the upper body just to mix things up a bit). Though I could deal with reversing the lace leaf chart if I kept knitting bottom-to-top (thanks to Karma for pointing me in the right direction for that), I couldn't quite get my mind around how to reverse the entire rest of the top of the sweater. Also, grafting in the middle will keep me from having to bind off the neck, which my gigantic head will appreciate (since I have a well-documented tendency to bind off ribbing too tightly).

lovelyful sleeve detail

I am glad there is still a bit of summer left, but this knit does make me look forward to fall. I think it is going to be such a cozy sweater.

Hope you're having a lovelyful weekend too!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

what I love :: the local library

(an ostensibly craft-related post)

When I was six years old, my dad took me to the public library to get my first library card. How official I felt! How grown up! My own card, with my own name on it. For years after that, it was a favorite Saturday afternoon ritual - going to the library with my father and brother. Sometimes the library would show kids' movies (my favorite: Pippi Longstocking). Other times there were readings or other special events. But mostly for me, the library was about the miles and miles of books. I loved those stacks. (The only drawback was that patrons were not allowed to check out more than 10 books at a time - I hated that rule!). There was nothing like leaving the library with a pile of books.

It surprises me, then, that it took so long for me to become a patron of the Ann Arbor District Library. I think part of it is that by the time we moved here, I had gotten in the habit of buying most of the books I wanted instead of borrowing (hello and thank you, Amazon. Not to mention: hello and thank you, full-time job and disposable income). In the years before we moved here, I lived in a very small town with a very small library, and while I certainly patronized it, I couldn't find most of what I wanted. Also, I have a small problem with keeping books past their due dates and owing exorbitant fines, so I think that after a few too many big fines, I cut back on checking things out and just used that money to buy books instead.

I did occasionally visit the library here in my first years, but it was sporadic. And then about three years ago, I suddenly got hooked. Perhaps it had something to do with having kids and wanting to introduce them to the wonders of the library early, like my dad did for me. Or maybe it was because the AADL unveiled an amazing and extensive website. Or maybe it was because I finally realized that, with kids, a house, and a yarn habit to support, (not to mention an expensive coffee addiction to keep up with), I couldn't keep funneling so much of my money to Barnes&Noble, Borders, and Amazon. Probably it was a convergence of all of these things. Whatever the reason, I am now completely hooked on our public library. Love it. And I'm here to tell you, the public library can be a craftster's best friend.

Example #1: When I first started getting interested in sewing and quilting (ah, quilting, the hobby I'm obsessed with and have yet never tried), I was hesitant to buy any books related to those crafts (especially since I had so many knitting books on my list). But my library has a great collection of these books. I can search their catalog online from home and put a hold on it online, and it will be waiting for me to pick it up at the desk at any branch I choose (there are three within 5 minutes of my house, lucky me). By using my online account, I was able to put a hold on Denise Schmidt's quilting book before the library even owned a copy - then when they got it, I was able to just swing by and pick it up!

Example #2: Some books (like Denise Schmidt's book) I decide right away I want to own myself, so I will go ahead and buy them myself when I have the funds. But other books I'm not yet ready to purchase, and if no one else is waiting for them, I can keep them indefinitely - as long as I use my online account to renew them every three weeks. Good-bye, overdue fines! (okay, let's be honest, I still find it possible to rack up fines) [the book I've checked out the longest: Your First Quilting Book - which I have now renewed 27 times in a row] (if anyone else ever wants it, they just put a hold on it and then I can't renew it, so I don't feel bad about having it out for well over a year)

Example #3: Occasionally there will be a crafting book I want that is out-of-print. Last spring there was one I really wanted: One Piece Knits That Fit. At the time, the price was unreasonable for me (it had shot way up due to demand and too few copies). My library's online catalog didn't have the book. BUT I was able to search the Inter-Library Loan database and locate four other copies in the state. Within a week, one was ready for me to pickup at my local library. Unfortunately, I couldn't renew it beyond the three weeks I had it checked out. I may or may not have photocopied the entire book.

Right now, as you know, I am working on the Lace Leaf Pullover, which I just happened to spot and love in the Ravelry database. I originally had other plans for the chocolate brown yarn and so did not already own the book that has this pattern. So I checked the book out. You know, there is not one other thing in that book that I will ever want to knit, and I'm sure I will only knit this pullover this one time. Public library to the rescue.

I know that crafting books are the only thing I'm raving about here, but that's just because I know y'all will understand. But I do check out other things, and thankfully, there are no limits here on how much I can have out at once (current total: 32 books; my record: 49). Since we do not have TV, we only watch DVDs, and the AADL is a great source for those, especially for our boys.

There are so many reasons I love the public library, and now my boys do too. The children's sections at two of the closest branches are particularly good, with the main branch housing a large aquarium. Tiny Dancer is crazy about fish.

But of course the best part is still the books....

Love you, local library! Love you, friendly librarians! Love you, books!

What about the rest of you? Do you use and love your local library? What do you love about it?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Rainy Day Pseudo-Crafting

This week has been strange for a number of reasons - the weather, my usual schedule is all thrown off by several different things, and then on Monday night, My Old Man and I were interviewed again about Little Buddha's accident, this time by the local Fox News affiliate. It felt strange and surreal to tell the story again, but I was pleasantly surprised at the job they did (and also surprised that Little Buddha actually spoke on camera - briefly - about it). If you're interested, you can see it here. Notice that I'm wearing a made-by-me top!

The big reason my week is weird is that our babysitter is on vacation this week, which means My Old Man and I are juggling the boys even more than usual. I am home with the boys more (I'm usually just home in the afternoons, and then all day Friday), and you can imagine what that is like with the weather we've been having (rain, more rain, and some really frightening thunderstorms). Cooped up in the house with two three year-old boys, trying to do some work from home AND knit an occasional round ANd keep them occupied AND keep my sanity - well, it's been a bit of a challenge.

For the last year-and-a-half I've had this project in mind. Starting when the boys were about 20 months old, they developed this terrible habit of tearing up some of their best books. We got vigilant about storing books out of their reach, but still for about a year, they took turns shredding the ones they could get ahold of (including some board books we thought were virtually indestructible), which caused a lot of tears on my part. I couldn't bear to throw the books away, even the ones I couldn't put back together. So I began to collect the pieces, with the idea that I would some day glue them to construction paper and assemble them in a looseleaf notebook. A book made up of all their old books. Then I started adding greeting cards to the collection, because the boys treat the cards they receive like little books. Then I started looking at anything - the pictures I accidentally printed on regular paper, a certificate received for being in the children's choir at church, a cracker box front that had Woody and Buzz Lightyear on it. Anything became fair game. Now I have a huge bin full of this stuff, with things spilling out the top and stacked next to it, taking up space in our bedroom.

So yesterday, I finally got going on it. I only got a few pages in each book made, because, well, the boys were getting into trouble while I worked. Still, I was pleased with the results, and so were they.

(yes, Little Buddha wears his binoculars around the house)
(he also sometimes will wear his raincoat - hood up - all day,
including for his nap)

These books kept them occupied for minutes! Yes, minutes. They each looked at their own, and then happily traded and looked at each other's, and then 10 minutes later they were done. This project I've dreamed of for a year-and-a-half had a 10 minute pay off. Well, that's how it goes, I guess. [I still have many more pages to make, so maybe I can count on another 10 or 15 minutes of their being occupied sometime in the future.]

Another way we keep busy when we're stuck inside is to take goofy pictures of each other. I'm grateful I didn't have to pose with Woody (from Toy Story) this time, as I have done in the past (you won't be seeing those pics). But the boys have a lot of fun making goofy faces for the camera - I don't know what the deal is with their hands. Are they throwing gang signs? I don't know....

Happy Wednesday, y'all.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Rainy Days and Mondays

Is it just me, or is an autumnal wind blowing through the knitblog community these days? I think I am not the only one who is already thinking fall, a month before the season officially begins. Of course, where I am, it actually does feel - and look - like fall already.

Most of the year, I knit in a chair the living room, but in the summer, when it's finally warm enough, I move to our (poorly insulated) back room, where I can knit while I watch the sun rise over our backyard. But this is the view today:

60 degrees, overcast, with thunderstorms on-and-off

So can I really be blamed for this:

donning thick, handknit socks
using Cozy as a lap blanket
putting my feet up,
and setting aside all my other WIPs for....

a fall sweater

I cast on this weekend for the Lace Leaf Pullover, in KnitPicks Decadence (color - chocolate!). I love a thick brown sweater for fall. Because this yarn is more of a heavy worsted than the bulky the pattern calls for, I am having to do significant recalculating (I had hoped that I could just knit the largest size and have it fit, but with my gauge that would've put the finished chest at about 29" and, well, that won't work). So far, my calculations seem to be working out fine (and I actually like the sweater at a smaller gauge than in the book), but I'm debating whether to continue working from the pattern and just keep recalculating stitch count or veer completely from the pattern and continue to knit from the bottom up. (Those of you familiar with the pattern will know that it's a tad unusual - you do the bottom from the bottom and the top from the top and then you graft them together in the middle.) I have to decide in about two inches....

Thanks for the great suggestions about the Chevron Scarf. I have set it aside temporarily and am mulling over my options - y'all gave me some great ones.

So, what about you? Are you leaning towards fall? What fall knits have your attention these days?

Friday, August 17, 2007

Why, hello, Bandwagon, may I jump on too?

I have a love-hate relationship with trends. In general, my stance is a curmudgeonly one. The more people doing something, the more suspicious and disdainful I tend to be. Not intentionally, of course, just automatically. At the same time, I have this rather pronounced weakness when it comes to the power of suggestion.

There are very few web-based knitting trends that have not wooed me. I have never knit a Clapotis and I don't intend to. I have yet to succumb to the siren call of the Jaywalker. I have never knit with Socks that Rock (but that, my friends, is about to change - am I a lucky gal, or what? and are Ashley, Christy, and Julia rocking bloggers, or what? and are schrodinger and I in a contest to see which of us can win the most contests, or what? and am I trying to see how many questions I can ask as an aside, or what?).

But pretty much every other knitting trend has obsessed me at some point, whether or not I actually followed through and knit the thing. Come to think of it, most of the trends that have obsessed me are still knocking around in my head, rather than either on or off my needles. I have spent outrageous amounts of time researching yarns, yarn colors, and yarn prices for patterns I have yet to knit and probably won't knit in the near future (Central Park Hoodie, Seamless Hybrid, Tubey, and Ribby Cardi, I'm looking at you). (Note to self: the amount of time you spend drooling over other people's FOs on Ravelry is inversely related to the amount of time you spend actually completing your own projects.) Oddly (or perhaps completely in character with my curmudgeonly attitude towards trends in general), I tend to be late in jumping on (startling exception: knitting Monkeys with a picot cuff, which I managed to both do and blog before it was cool [but I was not the one that started the trend] ).

So it should come as no surprise to me that I am late to the Chevron Scarf party, but come to the party I have. Like so many others, I got the bug as soon as I saw this one last March. Before long, they were everywhere. Funny how you can have a book on your shelf for 2 years and never once consider a particular pattern in it, and then you see other people's brilliant iterations of it and suddenly you're inspired. Before the Chevron Scarf Parade swept blogland, I never considered knitting it. But show it to me in STR Watermelon Tourmaline and Farmhouse dozens of times, and I'm hooked.

The thing is, I'm not really a bright-color-wearing person (and of course, being a selfish knitter, I have not been planning on knitting this for anyone for my own self). Dude. When you grow up as the girl with the big curly red clown hair, you really don't need anything extra making you stand out. (Please go back and tell that to my 7th grade striped-primary-color-legwarmer-wearing self). I like subtle. I like neutrals. And I love brown and pink.

brown and pink sock yarn

Enter another skein of Collette's yummy Superwash Supersock fingering weight merino.

What I had in mind was a Chevron Scarf of only soft neutrals, with a tiny bit of pink for pop. After mulling it over, and looking at Collette's past and current offerings, I went for Carrie Lyn, which she was kind enough to custom dye for me.

Carrie Lyn yarn

Inspired by a Nubian goat in Alabama (I love how Collette gets her inspiration. If you haven't already, check out her etsy shop. And big thanks to Jenelle for introducing me to this yarn).
Aren't the colors delicious? I especially love that tiny bit of grey.
I thought this colorway would be a perfect foil for the brown and pink yarn.

What is the secret behind picking out a perfect combination of colorways for the Chevron Scarf? I'm not sure. I know that I would never have thought of Watermelon Tourmaline and Farmhouse on my own. Perhaps it takes a special kind of genius to get the colors just contrasted enough without harming the eyes. But it turns out that if you pick colors that have too much overlap (in my case, each yarn had brown and cream), then you end up with a broad zigzag going up your scarf, rather than the eye-popping chevron lines you're going for.

Chevron scarf WIP

What's a girl to do?

I don't know yet. I know that I am crazy about this pattern and crazy about this yarn (and these colorways, separately). The pattern is shockingly simple - and surprisingly fast. I can't help but pick this thing up and knit on it a bit here and there, even though I shouldn't do so since I think I'm going to frog and start again. But I'm not sure how to get the effect I'm visualizing. I'm considering just trying the scarf with the brown and pink yarn alone to see if it gets what I'm going for. But I'm open (way open) to suggestions or clues about how to make a Chevron Scarf that is both neutral in colors and still contrasted enough to really show the movement of the chevron lines (in a non-zigzag way, of course).

It's a shame, though, because I really do love these colors. As they slide off my needle, they put me in mind of some of my favorite things: black coffee, coffee with cream, latte, raspberries....

Chevron scarf WIP

Er, uh, I have no idea why the photos above (imported from flickr) are all off-center....

Thursday, August 16, 2007


How on earth does one go back to blogging about crafts and such after a dramatic, traumatic, life-changing event? I don't know. I'm just going to do it. So. Onward.


My pal, blogless Kathy in Montana, sent me an awesome package. A heavenly bar of French soap, a bag of delicious wild huckleberry muffin mix (all devoured by my fellas and me within 24 hours of my making the muffins), and a gorgeous (and perfectly-fitting) pair of socks!

Basketweave Rib pattern, from Sensational Knitted Socks
Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn, in Mountain Twilight
I love these socks.

It was really hard to get an accurate picture of these, because the yarn is this yummy dark purple with just small flecks of chocolate and pink in it. In fact, in the picture above, you can see more color variation than you can actually see with the naked eye. I love how subtle the colors are, because the truth is, as much as I enjoy seeing other people's wild and fun socks, I really am not a bright colors kind of person.

I have never used this sock yarn before, but it is SO soft and SO cushiony (it's got a bit of mohair in it). By yesterday, I couldn't stand it any more - I had to order myself some - same colorway. I've decided this yarn would be perfect for Cathy's socks (I'll save the great eggplant yarn for some lacey socks for myself, I think). And because I am no match for the power of suggestion, I finally caved and got myself Sensational Knitted Socks, too. (thank you, LYS gift card from Mother's Day) (and thank you, Ravelry bookshelf, for keeping track of my knitting books, and graciously letting me know when I have added something to my queue which requires a new book!)

Kathy, you rock! Thanks for the awesome socks!!!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Home and other happy things

I have several random things to share (including Actual! Knitting! Content!), so I'm just going to jump right in.

1. Home.

We arrived home a week ago tonight and are slowly settling into regular life again. Coming home was rather emotional for me, living so close to the reality that we almost came back with only one child. The tears were from gratitude and relief, but from sadness too. On a visceral level, the trauma of what happened somehow imprinted itself, so that even though things turned out happily, there's a part of me that can't shake the horror or the grief.

But mostly there is happiness, and gratitude, and amazement. Here is the picture that almost wasn't, taken the night after Little Buddha's accident:

we look pretty dang happy, don't we?

One of the most tender things to come out of the trauma has been the increased affection and closeness between Tiny Dancer and Little Buddha. They have always seemed to love and enjoy each other, and they are both very affectionate little boys. But the accident seems to have intensified their relationship, especially for Tiny Dancer.

a poignant moment at the lake at the beach,
the day after the accident

Tiny Dancer embracing Little Buddha

There is so much still to process about what happened, at least for me. The boys, though, seem to have moved on, for which I'm grateful. Ah, the resilience of a three year-old.

2. National coverage.

If you missed The Early Show segment on CBS, you can view it here. (in the drop-down menu select "videos" and then type in "sand danger"). Overall, I was pleased with the job they did, and mostly just grateful that My Old Man and I didn't appear to be total idiots (you never know what stupid thing is going to accidentally come out of your mouth that will become a sound bite). There are a couple of corrections, though. They said that our son climbed into the hole, whereas he says he fell, and that's what we said in the interview, repeatedly. This was an important point to me because I want people to realize that this can happen entirely accidentally, if other children do not cover up the holes they dig. Also, the news show said he was in the hole for 10 minutes, when it was really more like 5 (long enough, trust me). I shudder to think of him buried alive for twice as long as he was. The possibility of his still being alive at that point would've been even more remote.

Still, I am grateful for the coverage of what happened, because I believe that raising awareness about this potential beach danger is the only way to prevent it from happening to other children.

3. Guardian angels.

There still aren't words to express my gratitude for Erika Orlando, the young woman who felt led to look in the sand for him. She and I are in correspondence now, and she is delightful. She's a twin, too. To read her version of events, and see all the "coincidences" involved in her even being in the beach at that particular moment, is amazing. I thank God for her every day. I wish every child had a guardian angel like her.

4. Happiness in blogland.

My life hasn't been only about the trauma, even though I clearly can't seem to write about anything else. First, my day started yesterday with an email from Cara telling me I had won her latest contest! You know, winning yarn (and an awesome pattern!) made me unbelievably happy - it really made my day. I am so into lace right now (not that you can tell, given how little I actually write about knitting on my blog these days), so I'm super-psyched. Unfortunately, Ravelry is keeping me honest - I have a ridiculous number of WIPs and hibernating projects right now, so it will probably be awhile before I can reasonably cast on. At any rate, Cara rocks! But you already knew that.

Then later in the day, I was notified that I had won a little something else: a Perfect Post award from Lani, for my posts about Little Buddha's accident.

Original Perfect Post Awards – July 2007

Isn't that cool?
I'm so honored.

Seems like I'm on a roll for winning stuff in blogland, so I guess I better hurry up and enter this contest to win a 37" flat-panel TV from Best Buy. You should enter too!

5. Knitting.

Ah, yes, this is a knitting blog, isn't it?

Well, I got my Sockapalooza socks done - not that you even knew I was doing Sockapalooza since I have failed to write about it even one time, or even put the little button on my blog (can you tell I'm all out of sorts with my blogger template right now? - everything's kinked up over there in the sidebar and I haven't gotten my old buttons back up yet). At any rate, here they are:

pattern: Waving Lace Socks, by Evelyn Clark, from Favorite Socks
yarn: Lazy Perry Ranch Superwash Supersock Merino from Collette's Etsy shop
color - Brown and Pink
needles: size 0 dpns
started: July 14
finished: July 27
modifications: none
verdict: I'm pleased. My sock pal has the same size foot as me, and these fit me perfectly. And, of course, brown and pink is one of my favorite color combos. I actually bought this yarn for myself and had started a pair for my sock pal in a different colorway. When I finished it, though, I realized I couldn't give it away. More about that another time....
At any rate, I really loved this yarn, and this pattern is super. So pretty, so easy, so interesting. I realize the pattern would show up better in a solid or semi-solid, but I was just itching to use some variegated. The pattern shows up better in real life than it does in these pictures. I found these socks unusually hard to photograph. Here are some detail shots:

Thank you again, for your many kind words in the comments and in my email inbox. It means so much to me to feel like people really understand the horror we went through, as well as the fact that you are sharing in our happiness at the outcome. Thank you, friends.