Friday, September 28, 2007

Knitting a Quilt

Yesterday afternoon, the yarn for the Modern Quilt Wrap arrived. When I first saw this pattern in the Knitting Daily e-mail, I was fairly certain Mags Kandis had designed this just for me. Except for a few dishcloths and a So-Called Scarf, I never make anything for myself, but this is the perfect project for a knitter/quilter. I would have loved to use the yarn suggested in the model, Rowan Kid Silk Haze, but I'm fairly cheap when it comes to buying for myself. I asked for advice on the Knittyboard, and someone suggested Knit Picks Palette; it doesn't have the soft, fuzzy halo of the KSH, but it comes in colors very close to the original. I have always had such good luck with Knit Picks, and have been listening to their podcasts during my walks (Kelly has such a lovely podcasting voice, and I have learned so much after just 5 episodes.)
Last night, I knit up the first square. (I did not, however, weave in all the ends; I just tucked them underneath for the picture!)
Now that I understand the technique, I am going to go up a needle size (to an 8) and I am going to knit in the ends as I go, which is explained so well here.
Since Clay and Will are gone for the weekend, it would be wonderful to sit and knit on this for the next 3 days, watch some good movies, not shower and eat chocolate. But I have funerals and a wedding to play, the St. Theresa celebration to work on, Saturday night Mass, Sunday with the Methodists and (oh joy) it is my Sunday to work bingo -- but I know I can fit some knitting in there somewhere.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Knit Night Mittens

Tonight's lesson is on mittens. Some of the knitters don't like double points, so I found a great free pattern by Kate Gilbert for flat-knit mittens called Gifted. It is a really fun pattern, using a circular needle and a crochet hook -- hope that doesn't intimidate some of the knitters. (Don't look too closely at my seaming.)

Using the same yarn (Lion Brand Wool Ease, double stranded), I knit up a mitten on dpn's using a basic pattern from Ann Budd's handy little book of patterns.
I'm going to try to make up a matching hat (and another of each of the mittens).

In other news, it is raining. For the third day in a row. After Tuesday's downpour, the ground was still dry if you scratched at the surface. Yesterday was on and off showers, but today is a good, steady soaker. Looks like we might have to mow before winter after all.

It is supposed to be a beautiful weekend, at least in Akron, where Clay is going to run in his 5th marathon. He is excited to run this race in his hometown, plus they are giving a pair of shoes to everyone who finishes under 6 hours. This is really terrific, because he really needs another pair of running shoes to go with the 20 pair he has out in the garage. If we are lucky, maybe he will get a t-shirt, too; at last count, he had 93 t-shirts, and that's just the short-sleeved variety (honestly! I am not exaggerating). He's just not too good at parting with things; everything he owns has a special memory attached or "might come in handy someday." Any day now he is going to have a pressing need for his Nashville Gas Jets Peewee football jersey from 1970 or his 25-year-old engineering textbooks.
Will is going along (and missing a day of school) to visit Grandma and Grandpa; they're also planning on going to NASA tomorrow, visiting some friends and eating at some of our favorite places. They should have great fun.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Blogstalking Assignment #2 - Purse Shame


No wonder my purse was so heavy -- that's how much I had in coins in the bottom of my purse.

I am embarassed to do this, but I'll take one for the team and show the inside of my purse:

What I dumped out:
And, how is looks now, all cleaned out:
The shame was worth it.

Peace, and clean purses for all.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Another September Birthday

On Saturday evening, we celebrated the first birthday of my nephew, Griffin. Just a few pictures:

Griffin and his mom

His cake
Enjoying the icing from his little football cake
We are blessed to have this sweet little boy in our family.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Keeping the Sabbath Day Holy -- What a Lot of Work!

This weekend, our homily was on the 10 Commandments. Back when I was a Protestant, I could rattle them off in order (along with all the books of the Bible, the disciples, the apostles, the plagues of Israel and most of the creepy bits from Revelation).

When I became a Catholic, there were all sorts of new things to learn: Mysteries of the Rosary, Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, Holy Days of Obligation, Popes, Saints, and a boatload of new prayers. But I could still name the Commandments in order when Father quizzed us at Mass.

Then, he asked us how well we keep the Commandments.


So far, I have done pretty well with 1, 4, 5 and 6 -- love one God, honor your parents, don't murder or commit adultery.

#2? I will admit one of my favorite curse words is "goddammit." It comes in handy in all sorts of situations: when spilling something, hearing the cat yak up a hairball on the carpet, forgetting an appointment or being pulled over for speeding (when late for that appointment). (Although after watching several episodes of season 1 of The Sopranos, I replaced "goddammit" with another favorite, the f-word, which I cannot bring myself to spell out.) But when one says "goddammit," is she really asking God to send His wrath down upon the situation? I don't think so -- it just feels so goddamn good to say it. But I am going to stop using it anyway. Now, or soon after.

#7 . I don't think of myself as a thief, but I have xeroxed music without permission from the publisher, downloaded songs on the Internet and I still have a book from the university library where I worked on my Master's degree 20 years ago (I checked -- it's been so long, it's off my record, but it's still not mine, is it? I think I was just channeling my mother.)

#8 is bearing false witness. I really try not to lie. Really. But I sometimes shave a few dollars off when I tell Clay how much something costs and my driver's license says I weigh 40 pounds less than I do. Does that make me a liar or just normal?

And coveting, #9 and #10. These are tricky. To covet is to want something some else has "to the point of distraction". I've read that even if you purchase something because someone else had one, that is coveting -- but isn't that just the American way? I need more and better stuff because my neighbor just got more and better stuff than I have? Envy keeps the wheels of American industry moving. I am guilty of this, as evidenced by my 4-bedroom house, Chrysler van and my pretty little pink I-Pod, but I am thankful that the older I get, the less I care about what others have. Maybe coveting is just the opposite of thankfulness.

But this weekend, Father focused on #3 -- keeping the Sabbath Day holy. He asked us to think about what we really do on Sunday. When I was growing up, Sunday was for church, dinner at one of the grandma's and not much else. Grocery stores weren't open, so you had to plan well for Sunday dinner. There were no meetings, games or practices. We cleaned on Saturday, and dirty laundry had to wait until Monday. One time I took some embroidery work to my Baptist grandma's -- she scolded me, and told me if I sewed on the Sabbath, I would have to pick the stitches out when I got to Heaven -- with my nose. (Of course, later I tried to do just that. If my grandma is right, it is a good thing Heaven is forever, because that's about how long it will take me to take out all the stitches I have made on Sundays.)
Since we lived on a farm, there were still chores that had to be done even if it was Sunday -- animals fed and watered, cows milked. And during planting and harvest season, my dad was in the fields on Sunday, even though many farmers around here weren't; "We'll rest when it rains," he would say. (My dad had a pretty unique relationship with God; I think he was much closer --and certainly more comfortable -- with God out on the tractor than he was in church. He often said there was no such thing as an "atheist farmer" -- he saw miracles in the seed, and knew how much faith was necessary to depend upon that seed to provide for your family.)

Today, my Sundays are too much like every other day of the week. For me, it's still a day for God and family, but it's also become my catch-up day for laundry, yard work or shopping. So I am going to take Father's advice and try to rest more on Sundays; I'll have to plan ahead to avoid going to the grocery and doing laundry Sunday night. (Father even said that parents should tell coaches that their kids won't participate in Sunday games or practices; I think he forgot that this is Southern Indiana and basketball season is rapidly approaching -- I heard a lot of snickering from the congregation when he made that suggestion.)

So here's to prayerful, quiet Sundays spent on the couch or porch with a good book and some knitting (which God knows is not work, but a pathway to peace).


(In keeping with today's theme, here is an episode of This American Life on the 10 Commandments, and an article about a man who kept every Bible law for an entire year -- and I think it's going to be tricky to keep #3!)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nothing but Knitting

I'm doing more sewing than knitting this week, but thought I should update with some actual knitting content. Here is Maggie's messenger bag (and belated birthday gift), pre-felted. It measured 20" across the bottom of the bag:
I knit this with 4 skeins of Noro Big Kureyon on size 10-1/2 needles. The pattern is from Knitting for Peace, but I fudged a little on the recommended length of the body of the bag, because I was afraid I wouldn't have enough yarn for the strap. Even with the fudging, I still ran short. (But I have a plan, I think)
And here is the bag, post-felting, down to 15" across the bottom and looking a little mangy:
On the needles:
1) Tommy's Notre Dame sweater. I'm using the Accordion pattern from Knitty and Knitpicks Swish Superwash in Navy and Sunshine.
2) Mittens for Knit Night. I'm doing 2 pair, one flat and one in the round, because some of the Knit Nighters are scared of dpn's. I was too, the first time I saw a sock in progress at the shop in Salem, so I can sympathize with them.
3) The ever-present washcloth. I am trying to get at least 20 cloths knit up for the St. Vincent de Paul craft show in November to sell at the Haiti table. I have 9 done so far.

In the planning stages:
1) A coordinating sweater for Nathan (the Swish Dublin is a nice Notre Dame green)
2) The Modern Quilt wrap
3) A sock monkey for Griffin

And just because it was so beautiful, here is this morning's sunrise:

Monday, September 17, 2007

Blogstalking Assignment #1 - Who Am I?

Not just a stirring song from Les Miserables, it is also the first assignment for the knitting blogstalking ring I joined today. How best to tell you about me? Maybe by looking back at the past few days:

This was a birthday weekend for our family; three years ago, Maggie became an aunt when Tommy was born the day before her 17th birthday. As joyous as this was, his birth had the consequence of making Clay and me grandparents -- a grandma and a grandpa. This put me in the same Club as my own grandma, who is 96. This, I believe, is why so many grandmothers choose cutsie little names like Mama and Nana; me, I am Mimi -- not too old-sounding, maybe even a little hip. (Do the youngsters still use that phrase?)
Friday evening, instead of going to the HS football game, I baked Tommy's cake and worked on his ABC scrapbook until 3:30 AM. I got up at 7:30, decorated the cake, finished the scrapbook and watched a few minutes of the Purdue game before we left for the party. (I did take the easy route with this cake -- purchased animal figures and plastic aquarium plants!) But I think he was happy:

I left the party early to play the 5:00 Mass, then ran home to knit like crazy on Maggie's messenger bag. Sunday morning, I played the 9:30 service at the Methodist church then back home to knit a little more. At halftime of the Colts game, I went to the grocery; I made Maggie's birthday supper, straightened up the house, wrapped her presents and took Will to youth group (after we watched the Browns beat the Bengals).
By 7, we had a house full, with lots of fun and noise.

Our terrific kids, birthday girl on the right

Today, I walked 3 miles, paid my Grandma's bills, worked on two upcoming projects (Haiti Sunday and Longaberger Basket Bingo), visited my best pals and catering partners for a few minutes, taught 2 piano lessons and joined the aforementioned web ring (and knit a little more on the messenger bag, which at this moment looks like a huge mis-shapen sweater --pictures soon).

So that's what it's like for me -- mom, mimi, musician -- in my little world. It's a busy -- but fun -- life (and much easier when my globe-trotting engineer husband is home and not at a mine site in some far-flung corner of the planet.)

And, that's why I'm always on the lookout for a little peace.

"My soul belongs to God, I know/I made that bargain long ago/ He gave me hope when hope was gone/He gave me strength to journey on . . . " Jean Valjean

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Monday, September 10, 2007

Not Bad, for a Monday

Thanks to my good friend and personal eye care professional, Maggie, I am happy to report that my glasses are fixed! In other good news, I finished the bathroom, Makenna (one of my 2 star students) is playing with both hands and I walked 30 minutes.

I haven't written about knitting lately; my W'sIP include Maggie's messenger bag, a dishcloth pattern for Knit Night, and a felted bag I am working at designing.


Sunday, September 9, 2007

Nice Things on a Sunday

- Watching Tommy and Ceili enjoy the dolphin show at the zoo (Nathan was not as thrilled)
- Splitting a corned beef sandwich with Will at Shapiro's
- Listening to podcasts of This American Life on the way up and back
- Finding out that Will is a David Sedaris fan; we listened to him read "True Detective" twice
- Talking to Clay this morning (note to self: avoid "chicken restaurants" in Japan)
- Reaching the end of yet another skein of Big Noro for Maggie's messenger bag
- Watching a PBS special on Broadway musicals

In some not-so-nice-things for Monday, I must find out how much it will cost to have my glasses repaired, get my passport picture taken and rid our kitchen of carbs, as Will has decided that he needs to lose a few pounds to look better in his wrestling singlet. Would it break his heart if I were to tell him the awful truth? No one actually looks "good" in a singlet; they were designed for function, not for fashion. But if a few weeks of salads, fish and fruit make him feel better, it will be worth it.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Things I Have Learned Today

1) It takes a lot of pale blue paint to cover the walls of a hunter green bathroom.
2) No matter how expensive your glasses were, they can still snap in two if you catch the earpiece just right with the towel you were drying your hair with.
3) After wearing bi-focals for 3 years, it is very hard to read piano music with older glasses.
(Conversation with the cantor at practice this evening: Her: That's an E; you played a D. Me: Looked like a D to me. Upon closer, and I mean much closer inspection, it was indeed an E, although the D didn't sound too bad.)
4) I am a hypocrite. But more on that later.
5) We (read: Purdue) are one step closer to the Rose Bowl.

Update on September 20: Apparently, I have also learned that HTML is just beyond me; in the process of trying to clean up this post, I accidentally deleted the rest of this entry, and I am pretty sure it was downright inspiring. I know I had said something about loving the Modern Quilt Wrap, Clay surviving the typhoon in Japan, our water softener being fixed and maybe even something sweet about Clay. The really sad thing about this is that my smartest friend in the world, Jeff, talked me through how to do it, with examples and a link to the Blogger help page. And I still messed it up. This really screws up my inner peace -- I am off to knit.
Peace. Really. Give it a try.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Steak and Lobster, Here Comes Grandma!

Today is my Grandma's 96th birthday. We had a little party for her at the Lutheran Home, and almost the whole family was there (Maggie and Adam were working and Clay is still in Japan). Every year, she tells us she doesn't want a party, gifts or any big "to-do," but every year we have one, anyway, and she is always happy we did.

Grandma with my niece and nephew,
Carly and Charlie

Her cake (white with lemon curd filling). I also made a double chocolate. When I was 8, she made me the greatest cake -- two angel food cakes (my favorite), set together to form an "8", frosted with 7-minute icing and decorated with silver dragees. She deserves 2 cakes in return.

My niece Taylor, who just turned 12, and my nephew Griffin, who will be 1 on 9/26.

We had a big party for her when she turned 90 -- rented hall, fancy invitations, lots of food and friends. And we had a pretty big shindig last year when she turned 95. I told her for her 100th birthday party, we will have steak and lobster. She just laughs at me, but I plan to keep my promise.

And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years. Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A Thursdayish Sort of Day

Our water softener is broken, our toilets and bathtubs are tinted reddish-orange and Clay is in Japan.

On the bright side, the softener can be fixed and the bathrooms scrubbed.

But Clay is still in Japan.
And a typhoon is headed their way.

"Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming."

Monday, September 3, 2007

Ora et Labora

Perhaps St. Benedict should be the patron saint of Labor Day. The Benedictine motto, Ora et Labora - pray and work - keeps running through my head today. September 3 is actually the Feast Day of St. Gregory the Great, Pope and Doctor of the Church, who had a strong connection to St. Benedict; Gregory was studying at Monte Cassino, the monastery that Benedict had founded and where he probably wrote his Rule, when it was destroyed by invading Lombards.
(Why, yes; I have been reading about the Benedictines lately. Why do you ask?)

So here is the thought for Labor Day: "Pray as if everything depends on God, work as if everything depends on you." I have seen this attributed to the Torah, John Wesley, Martin Luther King and a yoga swami, but we Catholics give credit to St. Augustine for the words, and to St. Ignatius Loyola and the Jesuits for making the phrase a standard in the Catholic/Christian/God-fearing world.

My plan for September was to blog and exercise every day. So far, not so good; today is the 3rd. But here is my entry, and as soon as I finish this, I am going for a walk.

As for labora on Labor Day, I am off to buy a gallon of paint to finish the downstairs bathroom.

As for ora, today's Psalm is 96:

Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth.
Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
announce his salvation day after day.
Tell God's glory among the nations;
among all peoples, God's marvelous deeds.
And a prayer attributed to St. Benedict:
O gracious and holy Father,
Give us wisdom to perceive you,
intelligence to understand you,
diligence to seek you, patience to wait for you,
eyes to see you,
a heart to meditate on you,
and a life to proclaim you,
through the power of the spirit of Jesus Christ our Lord.