Friday, December 21, 2007

The Kindness of Strangers

We brought home a Christmas Tree last Saturday and put it up.

We generally get the same size and type of tree every year. Our decorations are all keep-sakes from over the years --

ornaments made by our kids in elementary school, special glass balls made by a friend of my mom when each child was born, garish stuffed ornaments that my mother sewed one year,

little souvenirs from our travels, paper chains, old tinsel, lots of little lights strung at random.

Nothing new, nothing sophisticated, nothing stylish. I love it.

Our tree is not crowned with a star or angel. When my first child was born, one of the baby gifts (I think it was undershirts) was decorated with a large, glittery butterfly clip, which I clamped onto the top of our tiny little tree that year. It has held pride of place now for 30 Christmases. The Santa right below is a recent aquisition.

On the eve of World War II, my parents moved to the San Francisco area, and my dad's whole family moved from Texas to take advantage of new work opportunities. My dad and grandfather (and probably an uncle or two) worked as welders in the Oakland shipyards, building liberty ships. They never left California, although I imagine that they longed for home.

When I was a very small child, my grandparents had a small ceramic plate on their wall. On it were two angels sitting on clouds. One angel says to the other, "And if we're good, we'll go to Texas." I don't know why it made such an impression on me, but this decoration remained in my memory for more than 50 years. I wrote about it somewhere on the web at some time in the past.

A couple of weeks ago there was a comment on my blog from a woman in Texas whose mother had given her a similar plate (she found it in some junk/antique store in Arkansas), which she was going to give as a gag gift to someone. First, however, she wanted to know if it was worth anything and did a Google search. Up popped my posting, she contacted me, and today I received this in the mail:

Receiving this little plate made me ridiculously happy. And it points out to me that one of the great lessons of the Christmas story lies in the unexpected kindness of strangers -- be they angels comforting startled shepherds, kings from the East, overworked innkeepers with no rooms but with a dry and warm stable, the Salvation Army workers who gave my late father-in-law hot soup and a blanket when he was released after 6 years of digging coal in a Siberian gulag, ordinary people serving meals to the homeless, or a thoughtful woman in Texas who correctly figured that I would be touched by a souvenir from my past. These and a thousand other small and great actions reflect the unexpected blessing and extraordinary kindness that underlie Christmas as God's gift to us.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Are We Having Fun Yet?

I don't think so.

I have a headache.

All was starting to calm down nicely (found the right crutches, got DH started on a course of prednisone, DD#2 salvaged one of her overdue bills, I started to work on work again, I even made it to knitting group). I actually got some Christmas shopping done, almost a miracle since I usually get around to shopping 2-3 days before the event.

Yesterday afternoon I had just made a cup of greatly-needed coffee, waved DD#2 off to work, sat down with DH, and my cell phone rang. DD#2's name was on the caller ID. I knew what it was, I just knew that I would hear her voice telling me -- "Mom, I've gotten into an accident."

I was right.

I was very calm, grabbed my AAA card, relevant phone numbers, and drove away. As much as I wanted to run away from home, I had to go speak to the police, arrange the towing, call the insurance claim rep. In all fairness, this was a three car event, with the car in the middle causing the actual accident by rear-ending a sedan (car #1). DD#2 was driving car #3, and rear-ended car#2, which was rebounding off car #1 at the time. Obviously not my daughter's fault, BUT in California the law automatically assigns blame to the last car in the rear-ending incident. Her car was completely undrivable and may be declared a total loss. Three tow trucks came. Thank God, no one was hurt.

This is her third accident in 3 years. As she is 21 and still lives at home, she has to be on our car insurance. Why does she still have a car? I would really love to give a good, rational, mature answer to that question -- but I don't have one.

Comic Relief: A rubber-necker in the next lane was rear-ended by a drunk driver. Two more tow trucks had to be called to the scene.

DH was checking out mortgage refinancing options on-line a couple of weeks ago, filled out one of those inquiry forms, and was expecting a deluge of email, right? We have gotten unsolicited calls from at least 2500 people and places, to the point of getting pretty rude. Here are three actual exchanges between me (DS) and unsolicited callers (UC).

Call Scenario #1, which I like to call "Stuffy Old Bitch Answers"
DS: Hello?
UC: Let me speak to Claus.
DS: I beg your pardon?
UC: I'd like to speak to Claus.
DS: Are you personally acquainted with my husband?
UC: Well, no, but he asked for refinancing information, so I am following up.
DS: Young man/young woman, let me give you some advice, which you may already have heard from your mother but have obviously forgotten. Never, never ask for or address someone by his first name unless you have been invited to do so. I have no interest in speaking to someone as poorly trained and ill-mannered as you.

Call Scenario #2, In Which I get Rid Of The Caller As Quickly As Possible:
DS: Hello?
UC: I'd like to speak to Claus (pronounces it "claws", easy mistake to make)
DS: You want to speak to whom?
UC: Claus
DS: Sorry, nobody here by that name.

Cal Scenario #3, AKA Having Some Fun:
DS: Hello?
UC: I'd like to speak to Claus.
DS: Sorry, he no longer lives here.
UC: He moved?
DS: Yes, he has moved to China. Would you like his new telephone number?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Advent Quickie

Sounds almost obscene.

I really miss Hamburg. I usually spent the first 2-3 weeks of Advent in Hamburg, visiting my very dear MIL, going to Christmas Markets, drinking Gluhwein (mulled wine, sold on every street corner), eating sausages, drinking more Gluhwein, drinking beer, drinking Gluhwein -- I think you get the picture. As MIL passed year before last, I really, really miss going to Hamburg. Those Germans really know how to celebrate.

How did I spend the first Sunday of Advent of 2007?

Running around Pleasant Hill and Concord, trying to find a pair of crutches because the dialysis nurse took too much water out of Nick (after being told NOT to take out any), and he now has a whopping gout attack in his left knee. The pain of putting weight on his left leg is excruciating. The man cannot walk. At all. Period.

Bugger it.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Being Thankful

Yesterday was Thanksgiving, and it was a very nice one. After several days of cleaning house, I brined and roasted my little 10-pound turkey, braised a brisket with red wine and mushrooms, made a German Apple Cake, my favorite cornbread dressing, cucumber salad, and pureed cauliflower. DD#1 showd up with her boyfriend, so there were 7 at the table. They provided bread, mashed yams with candied pecans, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce, and wine. A simple dinner, and very relaxing, too. Lots and lots of conversation. Sorry, no pictures of the food, it did not stay on the table long enough to be photographed.

Entertainment provided by DD#1 and DS#3.

DD#1 is a professional musician. Some of her music is up on the web, so, please, give it a listen. She is very, very good.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How Doth The Little Busy Bee

October and the first half of November have been busy times chez Deep South.

On the health front, DH has had (too many) things going. With his doctor's cautious blessing, he stopped dialysis. All was going OK (not well, but OK is also fine) for 9 glorious weeks, during which he had weekly blood work and office visits. It was determined that one of his hypertension medications contained a drug that retards kidney function. Since he needs all the help he can get, it was decided to simply use the other component of this medicine, which had a proven record of tolerance in kidney patients. HOWEVER, in a very small percentage of patients, this drug acted as a potassium retainer. I am sure that you can see what is coming, right? Less than a week into the new drug regime, blood work prompted an urgent-urgent-get-him-to-the-ER phone call. Potassium level was 6.8, which is pretty close to heart-stopping, quite literally speaking. The EKG was very disturbing. Massive doses of nasty polystyrene sulfate over the next 12 hours brought it down, but it was back to dialysis the next day.

The following week he got what we thought was the flu, and within a few days we thought it had turned into pneumonia. Back to the ER. Blood oxygen level was around 80%, not at all good. Also, he was severely aenemic. Chest x-ray showed no pneumonia, BUT it did show a huge amount of water surrounding the heart. DH was checked in this time (why, oh why does it take 9 hours to get from the ER to a room???) for dialysis the next day, treatment for the aenemia, etc.

Hospitals. Don't get me started. You have to be on top of everything! First the floor doctor asked me if he was "competent" to make any of his own decisions. I said OF COURSE, and how on-the-ball are you with a blood oxygen of 80% and hemoglobin in the toilet? They served him meals with tomato soup, mashed potatoes, honeydew melon for dessert -- poison for dialysis patients. It took 4 hours to get the meds sent down from the pharmacy. After dialysis (extremely well done, excellent nurse) it took another 6 hours to get the discharge (after a verbal duel with the same floor doctor). Finally, at 9:30 PM, I go to drive the car to the entrance to pick DH up and find a flat tire. AAA came and changed the tire, and we got home an hour later.

So ends the first half of October. Don't get me wrong, we had some excellent nurses and doctors during these two runs, but there are also incompetent staff and so much red tape that everyone trips over it. AAA is worth every penny.

At the end of October, DH finally had his cataract surgery.

Although my life seems to roil exclusively around DH, other Deep South family members also add to the turmoil, especially DD#2 who gives us no end of worry right now. No more to say besides that.

Knitting has been the savior of my sanity. Since my last post in September, I have done the following:

Oregon Vest in Passsport Dublin from stash. I still need to put in the zipper, but it is otherwise finished

A pair of booties in Mexican Wave from stash. I swear I used the same ball of yarn for both! This pattern was mentioned by Brooklyntweed (you can find a link on his blog).

His-and-hers IPod cases in various things from stash

Currently working on Solaris, a free pattern from the Berroco website. Classy design.

I am using Caron Simply Soft Shadows in the Autumn colorway, a gift from POPT. I really love the yarn and the pattern. Back and sleeves are knit separately. The you start on the bottom of the left side and knit up, across the back, and down to the bottom of the right side in one piece. The yarn has some wonderful color changes, as can be seen on the back

And a close-up of the stitches

Also on the needles is another pair of socks in Wildfoot from stash

The Faux Russian Shawl is currently on Sabbatical.

I acquired an IPod recently and have discovered the wonderful world of podcasts. There are some very good knitting podcasts out there, especially Sticks and Strings, the Knitpicks Podcast, Cast On, and a couple of others. What is really fun for me are the Lake Wobegon monologues from Prairie Home Companion, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me from NPR, free audio books and stories and the old time radio shows. There are tons of these, and they are terrific -- dramas, radio plays, almost anything your heart desires. I could listen to them all day long. The best part is that they are free. If you have ITunes, get them there. If you have a different kind of MP3 player, download them from the websites that feature them, or just download and listen to them on your computer.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Still Knitting

I will catch y'all up later on the past month. Life has been ueber-busy.

DH has been giving me grief over my knitting -- too much, not healthy to have such an obsession, not getting anything else done, spending too much $$$ on magazines, yada yada yada...

Then, just this last Friday he requested that I make him a case for his IPod. Something he can hang around his neck, is easy to pull the player out of, put back in. Masculine shape and color.

Sure, Honey, no problem.

Thirty minutes later it was done. Since then, no wisecracks or criticism.

Now for some quick Granny-bragging:

Charlotte (aka Charlie)

Armand (aka AJ)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Graceful Is as Graceful Does

You Are Sunrise

You enjoy living a slow, fulfilling life. You enjoy living every moment, no matter how ordinary.
You are a person of reflection and meditation. You start and end every day by looking inward.
Caring and giving, you enjoy making people happy. You're often cooking for friends or buying them gifts.
All in all, you know how to love life for what it is - not for how it should be.

Thank you, Ceallach Knits, this is pretty close to how I conceive of myself.

Last week I stepped out the patio door to give The Boys a treat (I prefer NOT to give dogs treats in the house). When I was young, back around the time of the First Crusade, I sprained my right ankle, and it has been weak ever since. This having been said, right ankle decided to give way on the top step, I heard a loud crunching noise, and down I went. Oddly enough, and in spite of the spectacular sound effects, nothing was broken, but, oh, did I ever mess my ankle up. Two days on crutches, and now hobbling around with a cane.

On the up side, I finished the eternal sock and knitted and finished another pair. Both of these are Regia from stash, which I bought on two separate trips to Hamburg. Delving deeper into the stash box I found 10 balls of Passport Dublin, a wool/acrylic blend made for Michaels and discontinued almost as soon as it came out. I think I have enought for an Oregon Vest for me, which would be nice, as the one I knitted for myself last year was much too big and ended up given to a friend who loved it and wore it a lot (and hopefully still wears it).

Friday, September 07, 2007

Bunch O' FO's

The past month has not been all that busy, but I have spent most of it holed up under a rock. My mother and daddy always taught me that feeling depressed and moody was part of life at times, but to fall prey to it was pure self-indulgence. Well, sometimes you have to indulge yourself. So I did. Or, rather DIDN'T -- go anywhere, that is, or call anyone, or do much of anything, or even want to.

That having been said, I do have a few small knitting items to report on.

#1. Lavender dishrag in Sugar & Cream

#2. Green face cloth in Knitpicks Cotlin (which knits up very nicely)

#3. Almost finished the 2nd sock

#4. Continuing the Faux Russian Shawl, I am half-way through the 4th repeat. There are supposed to be 5 1/2 repeats. 96 rows per repeat. By the end, there will be 526 rows in the body of the shawl. A lot of shawl. This is how long it is right now, unblocked, unstretched, just lying across the dining table:

The bottom edging is knit first, your turn the corner, pick up stitches for the body, and everything works up from there.

The shawl has some nice detailing in the center

Side edge trim is knitted as the beginning and end of each row

#5 Finally, the greatest FO of all:

I present to you Armand James Paul Hetzer

Friday, August 17, 2007

Another FO

Finally. Shapely Tank II is done. Pictures later, perhaps. Or looks just like the green one only red. What was interesting about this one was that the row gauge was quite different from the green one, so I ended up with 16 fewer rows to knit, which was nice because I was thoroughly sick of it by finishing time. I hate making the same thing twice.

Lat night I went to a play. I haven't gone to a play in years. My friend and neighbor invited me to see The Triumph of Love at the California Shakespeare Festival Theater. This play was written in the 1630's in France and is a sort-of typical French comedy of errors love story. I would outline the plot, but it is too complicated to describe. To be honest, I wasn't really expecting to enjoy it very much, but the production was wickedly funny, and we laughed like loons. In addition, we were celebrating the birthdays of my friend's mother and sister-in-law, so we came in on back-stage pass tickets, which included wine and appetizers on arrival, question and answer visit with two of the actors, back stage tour, and a "picnic" boxed dinner (surprisingly tasty).

Twp picnic tables over I spotted A KNITTER! Delightful woman making a lace T in gorgeous yarn. Naturally, I had to introduce myself, fondle her fiber, and mention our local knitting group.

All in all a very satisfying evening.

Friday, August 10, 2007

It's On Its Way

The Dish Rag Tag box, that is. To Steffanie in Oregon. Steffanie, I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I did.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I've Been Tagged

NOTE from Aug 10, 2007 -- I was seriously short of sleep when I posted yesterday and typed "Sandy" instead of "Susan". I am deepsly sorry for messing up your name, Susan, and I have corrected it below (and included a link to your blog).

By a Dish Rag, no less. Remember Dish Rag Tag?

Today I received this package from Susan in Utah.

One skein of Sugar & Cream in Hot Green, one of S&C in Summer Splash, a bottle of nail polish in a color that I don't yet have (Susan, how did you know???). And the most adorable sheep I have ever seen, which turned out to be a retractable measuring tape. Measuring tapes are another fetish of mine -- I never have enough, and this one is absolutely precious! Oh! And, of course, a beautiful, beautiful dish rag. This one is almost too beautiful to use. I am humbled by your skill and excellent taste in colors.

In the meantime, while waiting for the package to come, I cranked out another dish rag for myself, honoring the state of my birth (my photo skills are not great, but this is California).

I'm Baaack!

Blogger/Google has this new robot system that is designed to detect Spamblogs. It is not perfect. It decided that my blog was one of these and took it down. Three days of frustration later, I got it back.

I considered leaving Blogger altogether, but I really like the look of the blog and am used to how everything works. Also, I was not happy about losing everything I had posted and starting from scratch.

My biggest gripe is that it is extremely difficult to get hold of anyone at Blogger. Did I say difficult? Nearly impossible. There is no email link for tech support or trouble shooting, no telephone #, no live chat. If the Big Boys can do it (you know, Microsoft, Ebay, ATT, Comcast, Adobe, Symantec), why can't Blogger and Google?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Just looked at my posting from yesterday.

$10 is not exactly a steal for a used book, is it? Unless it is Principals of Knitting.

I actually paid $1 for the Rowan book.

I really have to upgrade my typing skills.

Monday, July 16, 2007

What to do with the Leftovers

What to do with leftover dishrag yarn. Knitting dishcloths is the ultimate easy fix. I have made a lot of them. However, there is always something left over. Being the frugal person that I am, I just can't stand to throw it out, so I accumulate little balls of this and that, look at them from time to time, and wonder why. Yes, I could combine them to make some kind of patchwork dishcloth, but I don't find this very appealing, and I hate knots and things in the cloth.

The Summer 2007 issue of Knitters Magazine has a design called the Beach Band Sweater (or something like that, I don't have the thing here at my desk), using Takhi Cotton Classic worsted weight yarn. It is OK, nothing to really get me excited, and nothing that I would personally care to wear. BUT some very clever person, who probably had accumulated lots little balls of leftover cotton yarn from making the sweater itself and felt guilty tossing them, took the basic patterns and designed a small shoulder bag, which can be downloaded from the Knitters website.

This is a quick thrill, friends. In less than 1 week I had finished the bag body, bottom, and strap and pretty well demolished the dishrag leftovers:

Yesterday I sewed it together, wove in the ends, and voila!

I do not spend a lot of money on myself (especially now that I am committed to using up stash before any significant yarn acquisitions). I had a bunch of Border's Bucks I needed to spend use this month (like $15, which is pretty useful). And I got a 25% off coupon from somewhere that was about to expire. I suppose I could have saved the bucks for the Harry Potter coming out over the weekend, but I could not use the coupon for that. Behold the reward for being such a good girl. Lovely, lovely, lovely.

Our local public library has a table where they sell donated books for cheap. I scored this Rowan book for the princely sum of $10.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Shapely Tank

The Shapely Tank is all finished. It still needs a little blocking, but it is done and fits like it was made for me. Great pattern. So great that I have cast on another one, in a cotton blend.

When it comes to contests and/or knit-alongs, I am a day late and a dollar short. Usually miss them by a mile (or am not at all interested in the item-along). But I stumbled on the Yarn Miracle website and saw a button for Dish Rag Tag. Perfect for me. I love dishrags. I knit them all the time. Limited to 200 participants, this group is now closed, but it should be a blast.

Finally, a touch of summer in the persons of DH and DD2.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Overheard in a yarn shop recently

(not by me, but related to me by a trustworthy source):

There was a woman at a table knitting a blanket. For her daughter. She mentioned that the blanket required 30 balls of X---- yarn. Cost per ball: $17.00.

That's a $510 blanket. I am weak at the knees.

Another woman sitting near her asked whether she ever knit with cashmere. Apparently not, as she said that cashmere was much too expensive.

... And the Livin' Is Easy

The past two weeks have just flown by. Saturday before last I spent a lovely afternoon with Ceallach Knits and the former Chocolate and Raspberries. We had a royal lunch of Shrimp & Crab Quesadillas and Watermelon Margaritas before embarking on a mini yarn crawl. We only hit two places. First was Big Sky Knitting in Lafayette. This is the nose bleed of yarn shops, but OMG what gorgeous stuff they have. Didn't buy anything there but looked and drooled for over an hour.

Then back to reality for a stop at Michael's, which is more my line (price-wise). I broke my yarn fast to take advantage of a couple of sale items: Lion Brand Microspun in Lime and Royal Quick Crochet Thread in Cranberry, both destined for the Shapely Tank (free pattern on the White Lies Designs website). I need some more tank tops for summer, and this is a great design. The Lime one is 2/3's finished. Yeah, yeah, I know -- but the Knit from your Stash rules DO let you fall off the wagon ONE TIME. (What? I bought 2 yarns? Hello! Ahem! By the time the first tank is finished, the cranberry will have been in storage long enough to be classed as stash, so there).

This last week was also the last week of school, and DS#3 was promoted from 8th grade to high school (and a close thing that was, too). Naturally the ceremony was held outside, and naturally it was the hottest day we have had so far this year, and it goes without saying that there was almost no seating provided, there was no shade, and the thing went on way, way too long.

I am thinking of donating to the school one of those gong things on a timer -- you get 15 seconds to make your speech, give out your award, whatever. Then the bell sounds and the next person goes on. The whole shebang would be over in record time. If you absolutely have to have the long speeches, throw a private party afterwards.

Another option would be to hand each parent an ice-cold pitcher of Watermelon Margaritas and a folding chair upon arrival. The ceremony can poke along as usual, but who would care? I guarantee that the applause would be extremely enthusiastic. And everyone would join in singing the School Song.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Running Wild

I am by nature a conservative dresser. Grey and black, well-loved and well-worn, figure large in my wardrobe. Make-up? A little mascara, dab of blush, lip gloss, I'm done in 30 seconds or less. I hate polish on my fingernails.

My otherwise supressed wild streak comes out at my toes -- toenails that is. New color every week. Here is the current line-up. As a rule they sit in a prominent place on my dresser, where I can see them from my bed. Just looking at them makes me happy.

A closer look at the blues, greens, and coppers

The red, purple, pink and white selection

This week's toes are purple.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I'm a Felting Fool

Finished the bag! I knitted a gusset using the navy yarn and attaching it to both sides as I knitted (no sewing up for me). Then I took the rest of the colored scraps, knotted them together at random, and knitted two long pieces of i-cord, threaded them through, and tied knots to make 2 handles. Next came the felting/fulling part. I have never felted anything (on purpose). I tried the careful way (washing machine with old bath towels, checking every couple of minutes), but some colors did well, some did not. Since I did not have a particular size in mind, I threw caution to the winds. Luckily, I have a teenage son who only wears jeans. Four pairs of jeans, lowest possible water setting, hot wash with longest possible cycle, cold rinse, spin cycle and --

One side

The other side

It's beach-bag size and should hold a lot.

I had a skein of Colinette Skye, Aran weight, which I scored at a sale years ago. Knitting Daily had a really cute felted bag, Amanda's Squatty Sidekick. Pretty good fit, except that the pattern called for 200 yards of yarn and I had 150. This is an easy pattern to size down, and it knitted up really quickly. Pulled DS's jeans out of the dryer for an instant re-play of the above. Stuffed a handtowel inside to help it shape while drying. When dry I will find a really nice button for the closure.

DS probably has the cleanest jeans in this part of the county.

I continue stash busting with another circular dishcloth.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Have a Safe & Fun Holiday

I have finished the front of my tote bag:

I have also finished the back:

The patterns is called Roundabouts, also from those clever mathematicians at Woolly Thoughts.

The next step is to make the gusset and join front to back, decide on handles, and felt the whole thing.

Friday, May 04, 2007

More Curves on the Horizon

This is the Curve of Pursuit as of this morning.

I think this pattern is extremely cool. I doubt that I have enough yarn to make it into an afghan, and I am not really wild about woolen knitted cushion covers. Now I'm thinking TOTE BAG, with this on one side and some other geometric pattern on the other. All using the leftovers from two Philosophers Wool sweaters. I have never before made a tote, but I am a Bag/Purse Ho. You just can't have too many.

The rest of the yarn I have to work with -- a goodly amount of navy, copper, and coral, and bits and pieces of everything else. Copper will be the next color used, then finish with navy. The coral is too bright and pink for this design. It will be a major player on the reverse side.

The round washcloth from stash. Nice design, so I am doing another one in orange from stash. It looks way more complicated than it is, although I have sightly modified some of the original instructions to make them more user-friendly.

I realize that, in an earlier post, I may have been a trifle unfair to You-Can't-Fix-Stupid Brando. Made him look like a total punk, which he is. Here is a different side of him, a kinder, gentler, and quite decorative Brando, guardian to DH snoozing on the sofa.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Catch-Up & the Curve of Pursuit

I have put the shawl aside for a few days. It is a good thing to do when in the middle of a project that requires a ot of concentration, not to mention eye strain.

I took a little rest to make a lovely circular cloth from a free pattern on the web. Instructions are nice a clear, although I prefer working from a chart. However, each row is pretty short, so I rarely got lost in the middle of things.

I bought Mason-Dixon Knitting when it first came out, and every time I opened the book, I went straight to the picture of the ultimate log cabin afghan -- you know the one I mean. The blue one. The wierd, curvy one. The one lacking a pattern. The one from Woolly Thoughts. I was obsessed with it. It haunted my dreams. I had to knit that afghan.

This weekend I (finally) found the on-line order form. The pattern comes in two versions -- the afghan and a cushion size. There was a notation that the cushion pattern was the basis for the afghan, and that the cushion pattern could be used and expanded for that purpose. This would not have made much difference except for 2 things:

1. Pattern and designers are in the UK, and the afghan pattern has to be mailed from there (It is a booklet). Not terribly expensive, GBP 4 + postage. However, postage from the UK is a mysterious item, and the exchange rate isn't all that wonderful, either. And you have to wait for it to arrive.

2. You can order the same from, but the price is higher, and unless you are ordering a bunch of stuff and get free shipping, postage and handling are almost as much as the item itself. And you have to wait for it to arrive.

HOWEVER, the cushion pattern can be received as a pdf document by email, costs GBP 2, no postage, no wait. It arrives in a very timely fashion in your email, along with a very nice note from Pat Ashford, one of the designers. And I really don't think that expanding a cushion-size pattern to afghan-size is going to be all that difficult, even for a mathematics-challenged person like me.

Friday, April 20, 2007

April Showers

I am not much of a gardener. I have a live and let live outlook on yard work. I have been told that I have a "black thumb." I can kill anything. Some things grow in spite of my efforts; lots of things don't. And the area where we live is renowned for its blue clay soil (slippery when wet, cement when dry), voracious snails and slugs, droughts, very hot summers, and general cussedness, garden-wise.

This having been said, I present my 2007 flower garden.

Not too impressed? Don't like my designer planters (is that a laundry detergent bucket)? Well, check out these cala lilies and marigolds



Heliotrope and dianthus

My favorites are the calas. I have them in flame


And white