Monday, October 31, 2005

Dave's Ding

It's Dave's Birthday today! I heard from the birthday boy himself:

Here is a picture of me with my ding. The Chinese characters say this is a replica of a Yin dynasty ding, which is a regional treasure of AnYang and the Henan province.

Xiao Yong gave me this Ding as a birthday present last night, after I played the grand opening show at the new HaiXin (HighSince) shopping mall, where his new restaurant is.

The other performer is playing some kind of traditional Chinese instrument that sounds like an oboe.

I found out a 'ding' or 'fang ding' was originally a cooking pot (cauldron), and was later used as a ceremonial offering vessel for food and wine, and there have been several excavated in burial sites in the area around Anyang. Dave's ding is a replica of one of the latter.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....

We had a birthday celebration for Dave here. (That's Dave on the phone in the lower right.) We called him last night, which was this morning for him to wish him Happy Birthday on his birthday. We had Chinese food and the cookie cake you see here.

We had General Tso's chicken (among others), which is Dave's favorite. Dave says he can't get it in China, or really any 'Chinese' food.

And the Post Office lied to me! Dave did not get his Global Priority package in 4-6 days as promised. I sent it way back on the 19th and it still hadn't gotten there as of last night when I spoke with Dave. Maybe he got it after work, but I haven't heard anything so I doubt it. Hmmmph!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Baby, It's Cold

Inside! I, like Yarn Harlot have not turned on the heat yet. So it's pretty dang cold chez moi. Especially since we had snow yesterday morning. Snow! The boys are not as excited about it as I am. We've been spending the evenings huddled together on my bed, under the covers, watching TV (It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was on last night). But, I'm determined to hold out until at least November 1. I did the math, and every day I go without heat saves me $7. That'll buy the yarn for a pair of socks! The big excitement last night was that it was cold enough to see our breath downstairs.

Knitting Knight!

Stacy was there. And Sara was there.

Sara knit a Hallowig.

I've been toying with the idea of knitting one and wearing it as my winter hat.Here I am looking like the World's Biggest Dork in it. (And disturbingly like my Least Favorite Sister!)

Then This Little Cutie tried it on and it was the general concensus that it looked much cuter on her than on me. So she got to take it home.

And (Drumroll please)

Stacy finished her first project! It's a scarf for her husband, and she cast-off and everything! Hurrah! Three Cheers!

I'm seaming Sports Team II, but in the meantime have cast-on some socks for bus knitting (and Socktoberfest). Pictures anon. Right now I must go and take my Pollo con Arroz (it's actually Pollo sin Arroz right now, since I made the arroz separately and haven't combined them yet) off the stove and put it in the refrigerator so Younger Son can take it to school tomorrow. And just when did the little (there's a noun here somewhere, I just haven't decided which one I want to use yet) let me know that I was expected to cook this dish for everyone in his class? Why, just ten minutes after I had gotten undressed and settled into bed for the evening.

Hollyboc asked about Sports Team II:

I love the sweater! Did you put the letters on in duplicate stitch or did you knit them in?

I knit them in in a combination of fairisle and intarsia techniques. I carried the yarns, exchanging them as in fairisle while knitting the letters themselves, but only carried the pattern yarn (the yellow) for the part of the row the letters were in, like intarsia. I had to twist at the color changes every row at the beginning of my lettering to prevent holes, but after that I carried one yarn in each hand like I do for fairisle. Make sense?

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Well, I didn't win the lottery. And not only did I not win the lottery but I had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I must have done something Really Awful to somebody to deserve the day I had. But, I've had three bad things happen, so the the Rule of Three applies here (I hope!). As I was sitting at my desk and trying very hard not to burst into tears a tour group comes by -- Seriously, a tour of visiting employees come to see our "Corporate Headquarters". Can you imagine? What an impression! "Here's our corporate offices, pay no attention to the woman crying." And really, what would YOU think if you were a new employee and came upon this woman sitting there crying?! You'd be rethinking your career choice, now, wouldn't you? The ridiculousness of it all perked me right up.

Also, I bought some new yarn. I'm feeling a bit better, but I may need more yarn. Here's my progress on the back of Sports Team II (with my new book acting as knitting weight). You can read the writing. My wording choice is obvious. Just have to finish the top here, do the edgings, and seam. I should finish up in a few days. And knitting group is tomorrow night. Yay!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I'm On A Roll

I know I'm going to win the PowerBall Lottery! I went to the Post Office at lunch and found out I could send Dave his birthday presents for only $17 (much better than the $114 UPS wanted) Global Priority. They say it should be delivered in 4-6 days, so that's plenty of time before his birthday (Halloween). If anyone else wants to send him birthday greetings his address is:

David Graham
Anyang Hotel
1 Youyi Road
Anyang, Henan 455000

(If you're sending goods you'll have to fill out a customs form, and note that all printed material [books & periodicals] must be screened in customs to make sure they're not "dangerous" so that will delay delivery.)

I heard from Dave, and he was on his way in to work -- the Governor's visit is today (right now!) He said they painted everything in honor of the visit. And guess what? Dave and one of the Australians working with him were chosen to be in the room when the governor is there. I told him to be polite. I still think they might try to blame all the delay on him...

On the way back from the Post Office I bought my lottery tickets then walked past Barnes & Noble and saw this in the window. The book I've just been waiting FOREVER for. And it was on sale too! I'm telling you, I'm on a roll!

In Knitting News, I'm working on the writing on the back of Sports Team II. I'll post another pic tomorrow when I have a bit more done. Maybe you'll be able to guess what it says.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Who Knew?

That sending a few little birthday gifts all the way to China via UPS would cost $114? UPS recommended the Post Office for a more reasonable shipping cost, but warned they could only cut it in half. (And that was without the book, because when UPS investigated we were told that all books being sent to China had to be "reviewed" in customs and that would hold things up.) So, I'm off for an adventure (and probably to spend a few bucks) at the Post Office tomorrow during lunch.

A couple of days ago FinneganPurlKnits asked what you would make if time and money were no object. I thought about it for awhile and decided it was this:

In the black colorway. I even have the pattern booklet with the patches already. Ah well, maybe someday.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Goodies, Bed Socks, and Sweater Backs

I got another package from my Pittsburgh Secret Pal! Whoo Hoo! Take a look and try not to be too envious...... It was here when I got home from work today, but after a bit of an internal struggle I decided to be an adult and wait until after dinner to open it. (When I could take the time to really enjoy everything.) Notice in the picture above, though, that I ripped the envelope in half to get the goodies out. And notice that the jelly bellies are already opened as well. There's hair bands, and a Halloween scrunchie, some stitch holders (how did you know I was tearing the house apart last week looking for some?), the jelly beans, some picture frames, and TA DA! Some SUPER sock yarn. I Love it!! Older Son has already started angling for it ("That yarn looks very masculine," he said. HA!) I can't wait to knit some socks for me, me, me! I haven't knit any socks for me since 2002! I will definately be showing some close-ups of these in progress.

AND, on a related note, I have just discovered the joy of sleeping in socks. Why did this never appeal to me before? Maybe because I haven't turned the heat on yet, maybe because I've always had that big heater, I mean husband in bed with me, but I find myself suddenly enamoured of bed socks. It makes all the difference. I'm not waking up freezing in the middle of the night, I'm nice and warm all night long. Add a hot water bottle and I may never turn the heat on.....

Ok, here's my progress on Sports Team II. This is the back. It's a bit curled up, but there's not much there. This is what I got done on the bus today and a little tonight. It looks awfully wide to me, but I was ok size-wise on the smaller sweater so I'm going to go for it. Bigger is better anyways with kids' things.

Sunday, October 16, 2005


Well, it was Crop Walk Sunday. Once again, the boys participated. This is a cause long promoted by their aunt, who organizes the event every year, and we as a family have participated for over 20 years. (My husband and sister-in-law have been involved even longer, going back 30 years or so.) It benefits world hunger. It's been a few years since Dave or I have walked, but Dave has provided a sound system, entertainment, and all-around support. Obviously he couldn't do that this year. So the boys pitched in and helped set up. Younger Son didn't walk, but manned the "Water Roulette" game.
The point is that 1/2 the people in the world don't have safe drinking water. Half of the cups are "safe" water, half "unsafe". So players choose a cup and see if their water is safe or unsafe (mine was unsafe).

Older Son helped set up and actually walked as well. He managed to raise over $100 dollars!
He was pretty tired afterwards. This was a big weekend for him -- he took the PSAT test Saturday morning as well. He told me it was "easy".

In Knitting News I've finished the second sleeve on my Sports Team II sweater, and started the back. So now I'm thinking, what should I put on the back of this sweater? My options are:
  1. "Here We Go" (Same as Sports Team I)
  2. "Pittsburgh"
  3. "Steelers"

So what does everyone think? Let me know in the comments if you have an opinion.

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Pink Scarf

The Pink Scarf

by Laurie Graham

This Pink Scarf is your own personal Pink Ribbon.

Wear it with pride as a symbol of survival. Use it to make the statement to the world that “I AM a survivor!” or just to remind yourself that you are.

It links you to all those who have gone before you. Draw on their strength, be inspired by their courage.

It is also a bond between your heart and mine. It is a constant “hug” from me to you, so put it on when you need comfort, and know that you are in my thoughts and prayers.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Have you seen our Pink Fountain? In honor of the month and in the cause of promoting Breast Cancer awareness I present the selection above. I wrote it, and made the scarf for a friend who is dealing with the disease. Anyone may use it, just give me credit. (Photo by Kurt Weber)

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My Favorite Yarn

First off, here's Older Son and his fudge. You can see he's proud. He says it was a big hit at school. I'll bet there's a smart girl out there who knows what a catch a guy who can cook is. Younger Son and I have decided that he gets to make it again for Christmas.

Spiders have made their presence known in our house, just in time for Halloween. (Does anyone else notice lots of spiders in the house in the fall?) Both boys have been frightened by big spiders (they want to believe it's the same spider, but I pointed out there could be a hundred of them. They were not amused). Last night Younger Son fell asleep next to me and woke up screaming saying there was a big spider on him. I thought he dreamed it but he insisted he didn't. He flung it off somewhere and no one else saw it. Tonight Older Son started screaming while taking his shower and we all saw the big spider on the shower curtain. (I had to dispose of it. It was pretty dang big.) No time to take pictures, what with OS standing there all naked and still screaming and YS shouting that it was the same spider that was on him! It was! So I grabbed it with some tissue and flushed it (I can't stand squishing bugs, that exoskeletal pop is too much for me). Yecch.

Anyways, still knitting Sports Team II. So I thought I'd share with you my favorite yarn. Here it is, in all it's glory.It's Red Heart Kaleidoscope, now sadly discontinued. Kind of a second cousin to Mexicana, but way better. Yeah, I know, it's freaking Red Heart, but I love it! I love the jewel tone colors; I love the short color repeats; I love that it's a nice smooth yarn with no texture to interfere with the colors ('cause it's all about the color, baby); I love that it's a nice worsted weight that will work up quickly but isn't so bulky that it's like knitted foam rubber; I love the muddy color changes and how you get one stitch that's some funky color in between; I love that the color sequence doesn't exactly repeat, sometimes purple is followed by yellow, sometimes by blue; and I love that the color changes are blotchy and steaky. The only real project I made with it was a 5HBS for our god-daughter, and I have to tell you it looked fabulous. The colors were very rich. I put some simple gold buttons on it, and it just looked like a million bucks. I still have a couple of skeins laying around somewhere, maybe enough to make a sweater for me. Maybe someday I'll knit it all up.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Would You Jump Off a Bridge Too?

Everybody else did it:

Your Hair Should Be White
Classy, stylish, and eloquent.
You've got a way about you that floors everyone you meet.

It's after 8:00 and I haven't eaten dinner yet. I'm trying to decide if it's worth the bother of getting up and getting something. Older Son fixed dinner for himself and his brother. He's in the kitchen now making fudge for school tomorrow. It's his turn to bring a snack in for his "Teen Living Class" (remember when that used to be called 'Home Ec'?) and he decided it would be peanut butter chocolate fudge from the Hershey's Cookbook (one of his favorites). He says so far no one else has cooked anything for snack. I wonder if he's trying to get extra points for something.

The weather remains the same. Cooler and overcast. At least no rain.

I'm in my room and I can smell perfume -- so which of the boys broke/spilled some in here? Even more worrisome, I only have very expensive perfume... Neither, of course, has touched anything in my room...

Knitting News
Still knitting along on Sports Team II. And on the "Everybody Else Is Doing It" front, I miss socks! I never thought I'd say that after I knit Dave 8 pairs this summer, but it seems like everyone else is knitting some and not me!

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Not Really Random

Not much new here. I can't even write much about the weather because I don't think I made it outside at all today. What does that say about how busy things are? I think it was overcast and a little cool. I haven't heard from Dave in what seems like a long time. I'm hoping he gets his internet fixed up and can send us some pictures. Younger Son especially misses him, he was disappointed that he didn't get to talk to him Sunday night (but he had lots of fun at the party.) Picture days are tomorrow and Thursday. I can't find the barber (He moved. The boys have been to the new shop, but they don't know where it is.) so the boys are going to look seriously ungroomed. Someone alert CYS.

Knitting Content
I was looking over the blog yesterday and realized that I never explained my "not really random" stripe sequence. I'm displaying the "Poncho Printemps" as my example. I choose my colors, and lay them out in the sequence I like. Then I choose a stripe sequence of various widths that is one more or one less than the number of colors I have. For example, in the ponchos below I used 7 colors (pink1, lavender, white1, pink2, rose, white2, purple) and I chose a 6 stripe pattern. I think it was 4, 9, 2, 3, 1, 5. So every time you cycle through a stripe sequence a different color ends up at that width, but the color sequence stays the same. I kinda like it, and it's simple.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Its a Party

Younger Son was invited to a birthday party last night, and I have to be honest and say I was not looking forward to going. It was at a local Laser Tag place. I hate going to these things, the other moms are always really cliquey and never talk to me, and so I end up sitting by myself feeling very awkward and conspicuous. It's like a high school replay, no thanks! But, YS wanted to go and so I decided I'd suck it up and act like a grown up. And as is usually the case when I truly don't want to go somewhere I had a great time (and so did YS). The parents were really nice, and even talked to me! YS wants to go back. Hmmm, maybe I'll see if there's something available for his birthday next month. So here are some pics: YS and the birthday boy (they got to play video games, too.) YS was on the winning Laser Tag team in both games, even though he wasn't all that great of a shot. I watched. Both games were very close, with a team pulling out a win at the last minute.

Here's YS, the Birthday boy and the other party-goer -- and guess what? She's the big sister of the Sports Team baby! Small world, huh? Which leads to...

Knitting News

I'm still working on Sports Team II, I'm doing the first sleeve. And don't worry, there'll be something for the Big Sister here, too. Sara was ahead of me and actually had hers done on Friday. She had a layette for the baby, a hat for his lil sis (she's 2) and some fingerless mitts for the Sissy (above). Sissy told me how much she liked the mitts (they were made from Touch Me and were super soft.)

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Nothing really new or exciting today, just some odds and ends left over....

It is cold and rainy here. Not pouring rain, just a steady cold drizzle. The temperature has gone from the mid-80s on Thursday to the mid 50s when the boys and I went out to dinner and will probably dip into the 40s tonight. It looks like we're a bit cooler than Dave is in Anyang. I haven't heard from Dave in a couple of days, so I hope everything is going alright for him. He's been working very long hours -- he said he worked over 20 hours straight getting the mill up and running early last week.

I spoke to the boys about the high cost of electricity and natural gas and told them we need to conserve. I explained that to save money I would be turning the heat down a bit so there would be no walking about in underwear in the dead of winter. (As has been the case in the past.) Put on a sweater and some socks, I said. I also asked them to turn the lights out when they leave a room, explaining that electricity is expensive. In true family fashion they have gotten the bit between their teeth and are running with it; we're all sitting around in the dark huddled under blankets. Younger Son has appointed himself Keeper of the Lights and has been going through the house turning them off.

The picture is of me (center) with my god-daughters in their twin sweaters, made from oddballs. Yes, they are identical (the twins, that is; not the sweaters.) The sweaters were designed by me and utilize my favorite twin dressing technique of different colors in the same pattern.* The design was inspired by 1) A desire to use up some odd balls of yarn and 2) The variegated yarn used at the neck of both sweaters. I liked the yarn and so used it to select the other colors in the stripes. (If you look closely, all the colors appear in the variegated yarn. This is a favorite method I have of picking related colors for a project.) I only had a small amount (~half a ball) of the variegated, so it naturally moved to the top where the stripe would take less yarn (and provide more impact). I had about a ball of each of the other colors in the stripes, but two balls each of the pink and the yellow, so that was how they were chosen as the main body colors. The pattern was super easy -- using the basic EPS system I knit the body and sleeves in the round up to the point they were all joined, then knit the stripes, decreasing for the raglan shaping. I calculated the number of rows until I decreased away all the stitches I needed to get the collar and just divided by 4 (the number of colors I had) to get the number of rows for each stripe. I did the collar in the same yarn as the last stripe so had some lee-way there to get a good multiple. I also used Meg Swansen's "jogless join" for the stripes and as a bonus here -- if you place the beginning of the round at the right shoulder, it moves into the raglan decrease and just stays there, making it virtually impossible to see any jog at all.

*Dressers of twins take note: I know whereof I speak, being a twin myself. I have to say that in regards to twin-raising, my mother got it right. Although she bought identical or matching clothing for my twin sister and I when we were younger, we were never made to dress identically every day. I think because of this we never (at least to my recollection) protested having to dress the same on those special occasions that merited it like school pictures and my sister's wedding. I think she stopped buying us exactly the same clothes when we were thirteen or so and started shopping for ourselves. We have always had our own identities and were never just "The Twins".

Thursday, October 06, 2005

I'm Just Misunderstood

So I left a comment at Yarn Harlot's blog. And after I sent it, it seemed a bit...brusque. Not my usual charming self (which requires editing and this is as good as it gets!) but I couldn't figure out how to go back and edit. Ah well, such is life. I'm used to looking like an idiot. In fact at work, we call it Laurie's Law. (Or as I put it, "There has to be a witness.") Which means that if you can't get something to work because you're doing something stupid, you have to call someone over to witness your stupidity or you'll never solve the problem. The witness doesn't even have to say or do anything. Just their mere presence will make you find the mistake yourself (often immediately, which makes you look even stupider -- "Look Joe, I've been trying to figure this out all morning. Oh wait, I forgot to turn it on, oh that's the problem.") You notice that it's got my name on it. Need I say more?

Knitting News

Well, my niece the Celtic Queen has much more faith in my knitting prowess than I do myself. I e-mailed her today and told her I didn't think I could get the Sports Team II sweater done for tomorrow night. "Oh, you'll be fine" she writes back. "Just work on it tonight and on the bus tomorrow". Yeah right. I'm only a couple of inches on the second front. Still have both sleeves, the back and the finishing to do yet. So it's another show and a promise. I might be able to get done over the weekend, tho. It's supposed to be cold and rainy, a perfect excuse to stay in and knit.

And here's another old picture for you:
This was a baby set I knit at the behest of a friend when I was in school a couple of years ago. Don't know how it was received, but I thought it turned out pretty darn cute. I like those booties, I might just revisit them....

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Not Tonight Dear

I have a headache. A doozy. I took some ibuprofen so hopefully all will be well in about 20 minutes or so. If nothing else I'll be drowsy enough to get some sleep.

I heard from Dave today. Yeah! He sounded tired. He says that they got the mill to work, albeit briefly. But they were so far behind schedule that the governor blew them off. That they got it to work at all was because Dave pulled off something of a minor miracle to bring it about. (Seriously. He need numbers to make the thing work and no one was giving them to him. So he guesstimated some. His co-worker refused to have any part of it and had packed his stuff up to go back to the hotel. So imagine everyone's amazement when it really worked!) But then some flunkies messed with stuff and they broke it again. Nonetheless, Dave says there was a celebration with fireworks. And it was something of a media event, Dave says there were television cameras and photographers in his office taking pictures. He did not see himself on TV or get a newspaper with his picture in it, though. I told him all the articles probably read something like "Mill Opening Delayed Due to Stupid American" with his picture. "Yeah, probably," he said. Then he said he would probably have to go out on the mill floor to adjust things himself, which worries me. I think I told him about six times to be careful. Oh, and when I tried searching for the news story about the mill opening all I found was the story about how three men were killed and five more burned when molten steel was spilled in another mill. This did not reassure me in any way.

Knitting News
Up to the neck shaping on the first front of Sports Team II. Not really exciting. So here's another older project.

This is Lion Brand's 'Artful Afghan'. In the original colors. I knit it over the course of a couple of months of bus knitting. This was a great bus project, the blanket made a nice pouch to hold the yarn. I bought the kit for it, and ended up having to get more of the last 2 colors, but had lots left of everything else. I like it well enough, but it's a favorite of Younger Son. That's his head on the left, he's sleeping under it here. In the winter he takes it to bed with him and sleeps with it. Who wouldn't be pleased with that?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Here We Go...

I've finished the first of the Sports Team sweaters (the smaller one) and am about to cast on for the larger. I hope I can get it done in time. (This Friday) I'm beginning to have doubts... Anyway, without further ado I present the sweater to you:




I'm really pleased at how well the striping matched up -- I had my doubts, but if I can do it, anyone can! The words on the back were knit with some of the "extra" yarn I had to discard in order to match up. I thought it was a good use for it, and it saved me from the tedium of all that plain black stockinette. I'm not completely done, I still have to get buttons. I'm hoping for some little football shaped ones.

Older Son read Yarn Harlot today and was thoroughly amused by it. He's asked me several times "Are those metal needles?" And he told me about Joe buying a mop. I, of course did not lose the opportunity to enlighten him (I'm such a great mother). "OS," I said, "Here is a Great Truth in life. There is not much that a woman finds sexier in a man than that he's using a mop."
"What about a carpet cleaner?" he asked.
"No," I replied, "a mop is definately sexier. A vacuum cleaner is sexier than a carpet cleaner, and a mop sexier even than that."
He wandered off then, muttering to himself about various cleaning utensils. He's obviously digesting this information.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

I Got Yarn

In the mail today. It's from She Ewe Knits and it's the kit to make the Windsor Waistcoat. I still say the model looks eeriely like Older Son. That's who the waistcoat will be for, at any rate. So the question now is, do I knit this first or the sweater that I got the yarn for at MS&W? And if I make both of those, what about Younger Son? I think I may have enough Fisherman's Wool somewhere to make him an Aran....I can design it myself. But of course, that will make two Arans I've designed for YS*, and not a single for OS, who is practically the poster child for Celticness. Sigh It will be a struggle, but I'll just have to suck it up and knit more.

After working until noon (and getting alot done) I met up with Sara and the boys and we all went to a local farm for their Fall Festival. We had a great time! The weather was perfect! We went on a hay ride, got lost and found again in the corn maze, and picked pumpkins. I got a few little things for my secret pal, some fresh apple cider, and I found the perfect wine to go with Thanksgiving dinner. It's from the Arrowhead Wine Cellars (a local company) and it's called 'Spiced Apple'. We tasted it, and it tastes like autumn in a bottle! I got two bottles. I can't wait until my sister tastes it. Unfortunately I have no pictures from the farm, since I left my camera at home. I asked Sara to take one of the boys after OS conquered the corn maze, but she had used up all her memory on shots of her own children -- can you believe it??!! But I'm hoping she updates her blog so I can steal some.

*I named it the Baby Love Aran and knit it for him when he was two. It's around here somewhere, I'll have to look for it and post a pic.