SP10 Questionnaire

After reading many happy bloggers raving about SP9, I had to join SP10. And of course, there is the typical questionnaire and here it is:

1. What are your favorite yarns to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I love merino, alpaca, silk, silk/wool blends and soy/wool. I don't care for cotton (unless it's very bouncy and stretchy) and don't like anything rough, scratchy, or plastic feeling (Red Heart, Lion's Brand). I am also not a fan of sparkly, metallic or hairy/eyelashy.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

A funky vase I found at an antique mall, a Waterford bowl and a hook in my stash room/office for the circs.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I taught myself last February from the book "Knitting School". I still consider myself a beginner because all I've knitted so far are scarves (I do a mean garter stitch!), hats and a kitty pi bed. I try to do something new each time I make something, whether it's a new stitch, a new technique, or using a new yarn.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

Yes, I have a wish list on Amazon.

5. What's your favorite scent?

I love vanilla, orange-vanilla, and lavender. I also really love the smell of roasted coffee.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

I have sweet teeth and salty teeth. I love something sweet followed by something salty, then back to something sweet, then salty...this can go on all night. I love most peppermint-flavored candy (but not starlight mints), skittles, smartees, and the little chocolate candy bars you hand out at Halloween BUT I am not picky when it comes to sweets!

7. What other crafts or Do-it-yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

Since I started knitting, I have been so obsessed I have forsaken all other crafts for the most part! I love to gather and dry various things from nature which I use to decorate. I like to do some beading from time to time and hope to start learning how to hand-dye yarn this spring. I don't spin because I don't have time to learn right now, but maybe one day I will take it up.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3's?

Yes, I can play MP3's. I LOVE most kinds of music - classical, jazz, rock, alternative, contemporary Christian, world music, New Orleans funk, R&B, hip/hop & even some rap. I am not a fan of metal, country music, Top 40, or easy-listening pop. One of my favorite things is discovering artists I haven't heard before!

9. What are your favorite colors? Any colors you can't stand?

I love colors and neutrals. My favorite colors are cobalt blue, ocean colors, purples (especially lavender, periwinkle, and grape), blue greens/turquoise and lime green. I also really like autumn colors. In neutrals i really like greys, black and soft creamy white. I don't care for really bright colors, tans or pastels.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

Married 22 years to Mr. C (who is wonderfully supportive of my knitting obsession), no kids (but I have 9 fantastic nieces and nephews), 2 grey tabbies (Bitsy Bonton and Criquette) and 2 of the best dogs in the world (Chloe and Abbie). We are currently fostering 4 adorable puppies. We also have several bird feeders and squirrel feeders for our "outside pets".

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

I wear scarves and mittens. I rarely wear hats but do like skibands. I am not a poncho-wearing kind of gal.

12. What is your favorite item/s to knit?

Scarves, scarves, scarves! And sometimes hats (when I am tired of scarves). Anything in which I can get quick gratification and that doesn't challenge my tiny attention span!

13. What are you knitting right now?

If you guessed a scarf, you'd be correct! I just started on a deliciously soft scarf in a pattern that I designed. I go to sleep at night dreaming about it!

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

Oh yes!

15.Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

I prefer the right needles for the yarn and the project, because I am practical like that. I have used bamboo, plastic and stainless steel and like them all. I'd have to say I usually try to use my Clover bamboo needles first. I have a set of Addi's that I love but they often feel too slippery. I can't stand the feel of aluminum or the sound they make - like nails on a chalkboard. At some point I will get some wooden needles to see if I like them as much as the bamboo.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and swift?

Yes! And I love playing with them!

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

That would be the Heartbreakingly Cute baby kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I started it back in October and got through about 4" of straight knitting (on little sz 7 needles!!) and got bored and put it aside. This does not bode well for my goals of knitting a sweater and shawl this year!

18. What is your favorite holiday?

I love Thanksgiving and Christmas because fall/winter is my favorite time of year. And I love Easter because it comes at just the right time every year - just when I need hope and renewal and springtime the most.

19. Is there anything you collect?

Rabbits, crabs, turkeys, pumpkins (but not Jack-o-lanterns), and reindeer. Weird collections for a weird person!

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

No subscriptions. As far as books, see my Amazon list.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?

I'm almost embarassed to say this, but I'd like to learn about using gauge - not just knitting a swatch, but how to manipulate the yarn type and/or needles to get gauge. Then I want to learn to knit a sweater.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

No, knitting socks doesn't interest me at this time, but maybe when I get tired of scarves and hats I will give it a try, but it will have to be a pattern that calls for sz 8's or larger! As far as my foot measurements, I'm not sure how to measure it for socks. My shoe size is 9.

23. When is your birthday?

November 8.


Here is a picture of the brilliant puppies sitting for treats. Oh, the cuteness! And I've already informed Mr. C of my plan for my next career as a puppy trainer!

(L - R) Oreo, Marley, Cody and Griff

Monday is a big day for the gang - they're off to get vaccinated, neutered, and microchipped. Don't feel too bad for them - they will be totally loved on and spoiled when they get back later that afternoon! Then Wednesday will be another milestone for all of us - Cody and Oreo will (hopefully) be off to their new homes. It will be a bittersweet day here at the little animal house on the prairie...but we'll still have Griff and Marley around until we find good homes for them too. I suspect once we take them out to adoption sites, their little faces and nice little sitting trick will find them homes real quickly!


Wishing Paid Off

All that spring time wishing on Saturday paid off. The "wintry mix" moved north of us so it's just a little cold and very windy here today but no more white stuff on the ground. A large group of robins has taken over the back yard - there must be 18-20 of them. I saw one or two last week, but this big flock just screams "springtime". And I found these daffodils peeking up this morning:

One of the surest signs of all, the critters are starting to shed their thick winter coats. I just dust-mopped 4 days ago and look at this Kong-sized dust bunny!

And the puppy posse is just full of energy. They are especially loving the treats Sonya included in her February Color Swap package - they are tiny little bone-shaped biscuits that must contain the equivalent of puppy catnip - they go *crazy* for them. The boys all learned how to sit yesterday in record time once they got a taste of those treats! I will need to ask Sonya what kind they are so I can restock.

Who wants treats? (sound of bag shaking)

In knitting news, I came up the pattern I am using for my thick&juicy chocolate alpaca scarf and started knitting last night during the Academy Awards. I didn't enjoy them so much - thought they were boring actually. Maybe because out of all those movies nominated, I have only seen 1 (Little Miss Sunshine) so I had no opinions about who the winners should be. Although there were oodles of gorgeous gowns, alas, there were no major fashion tragedies to entertain me either. And as much as I love Ellen DeG (a fellow New Orleanian), I thought she was a little intimidated and subdued. Hope they give her another chance next year. And please, would the academy please do the following next year to make it a more exciting event: (1) nominate movies that most people have seen and that aren't full of gore and violence or pedophilia, (2) nominate people who make hilariously appalling fashion choices (remember when Cher was nominated?), and (3) ditch Tom Cruise and bring in some real eye candy to present (Where the heck were Denzel, Russell, and Johnny?????). Of course, if next year is better than this year, I may not get much knitting done!


Signs Of Spring?

Here's what it looked like on the porch Thursday:

Glorious, sunny and in the high 50's. Even though I had to work all day and had no time to enjoy it, I was still delighted to know my favorite room was useable again. So the pet posse enjoyed it for me.

Fast forward to Saturday...no work, minimal cleaning needing to be done, lots of free time for knitting on the porch...BUT:

Cold, grey, rainy, dreary. Thunderstorms tonight changing over to a "wintry mix". Notice all the white in the background? That is the leftover from the huge glacier that has covered our yards since earlier in January. Despite an entire week of temps above freezing, it still hasn't melted. Global warming? Not in Kansas.

However, one of the things I have learned as a psychologist (that I actually use in my own life - therapists are notorious for being some of the nuttiest people you'll ever meet and most are strangely resistent to using the advice they give their own clients) - ummm, where was I? Oh yeah, I have learned to reframe negatives into positives as a way of keeping my mood happy as opposed to depressed. So, instead of grumping about today, I am thinking of today as ushering in the beginning of spring! I have put away several of the darker winter decorations in favor of light greens and yellows. I put on my favorite froggy-colored summertime Crocs.

I took some blueberries out of the freezer to add to a salad I will fix tonight with spring greens and goat cheese crumbles with raspberry vinagairette. And then I finally finished a little feline-sized springtime-fresh kitty blanket and Criquette and Bitsy have been taking turns napping on it today:

And I keep peeking out the window to see if the many narcissus and daffodil bulbs I planted last fall are beginning to peek out of the ground yet. Because as of today, spring is really just around the corner!

So while I'm waiting, I'm knitting. And how much do I love my new alpaca yarn? So much I started casting on for a new scarf, pour moi. It should knit up quickly. Then we'll need at least one more cold spell so I can wear it.

Maybe I'm not quite ready for spring after all...

Chocolate, chocolate and chocolate!

Wow! I have been blessed with the greatest swap partner ever!!! The theme of the February Color Swap was "brown and tan". I was gifted with some seriously brown goodies, as in "chocolate brown". Here's a peek...

My CS pal couldn't have done a more perfect job of choosing things that I love - a delicious solid chocolate heart (ask me how I know it's delicious), some adorable knitting note cards, some dark and yummy-smelling coffee, a vanilla-nutmeg candle, 3 vials of amber colored glass beads, some cute tiny biscuits for the puppies (big and small), a teeny little knitted sweater keychain (partner, did you knit this?), and best of all, the most sinfully luscious Blue Sky bulky alpaca (!!!) yarn in a deep, rich brown that is the color of dark chocolate. OMG!!! Thank you so much, Sonya. I am enjoying our emails and reading your blog and getting to know you. I hope you are equally blessed by your swap partner!

I should submit this to Cute Overload!


A New Meme for Al=KAL

I've been home sick all week with strep throat or something equally evil...fortunately, 3 days worth of antobiotics has gotten me back to where I can sleep for more than 1-2 hours at a stretch, don't need to have the kleenex box attached at my hip, and I can actually swallow without crying. Fortunately, as bad as I felt, I never felt bad enough to stop knitting, even if I was sneezing and coughing after every other stitch. This is what I was working on:

Bitsy BonTon thinks this would make a very nice little pillow

I finally decided what I wanted to knit for myself and it is luscious! Baby Alpaca Grande
yarn knit on #11 clover bamboo needles. The pattern is the Yarn Harlot's "One Row Handspun Scarf" which really showcases the yarn and has been a very soothing combination of stitches to knit on while watching TV and choking to death on oceans of mucus. I have a skein left and am trying to decide whether to add fringe or leave the ends plain. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Since I had so much time for myself (when I wasn't hunched over a sink of hot steam trying to figure out how to do CPR on myself if I got too congested and stopped breathing), I got to explore the 'nets looking for new knitting adventures. So I stumbled upon this, and since I wanted to join a KAL and since I was already almost finished knitting a project with alpaca and knew I wanted to knit with alpaca again, I thought joining would be an excellent reason to make a run to the lys to add loads of squishy, buttery cloudy-soft alpaca to the stash.

So I joined. And then I began a remarkable healing, miraculously restored by the surge of motivation to get well so I can buy. more. yarn. Truly. As of tonight, the fever has broken and if the weather makes it up into the 20's, I will go and get my Rx filled this weekend!

Meanwhile, here's the Al-KAL meme which I know you are all waiting with baited breath to read (and what does baited breath mean anyway? That you have worms in your mouth?)

I've been hooked on the needles since...
The week before Mardi Gras, 2006.

I'm still a virgin, but not for long...
For cable and lace knitting, and making my first garment that is not a hat or scarf.

She's crafty -
she gets around to....
Knitting, beading, sewing things for my home (as long as it's simple)

she's always down for...
Good food, good wine, good music

she's always got a gripe about...
Not having enough free time to knit and be otherwise crafty

What type of knitter are you?
Since I am the proud owner of an ADHD brain, I bring these characteristics to my knitting: curiosity, a need to have something new going on in each project (new technique, new kind of yarn or needles, etc.), need to have several things (AKA projects) going on simultaneously, need for quick gratification, and of course, the attention span of a beagle.

I'm dying to try...
Some alpaca/silk blend - maybe for some mitts.

I gravitate towards colors like...
Violets, lime green, periwinkle, very soft butter yellow, cobalt blue, greys, black

My most cherished possession (kids, pets, family doesn't count)...
I have a few: my deceased SIL's bible, my mother's wedding ring and my cherished family photos.

I'm stuck on a deserted island, what am I reading?
Probably 2 books: Raft-Building For Dummies and Making Yarn From Common Tropical Plants

If I was offered a last meal, it would be...
Sauteed crab claws and the broiled pompano from Jaeger's, Teddy's red beans and rice, my SIL's macaroni and cheese and my sister's artichoke casserole served with a cold Abita beer. For dessert, a trio consisting of Emeril's banana cream pie, Lawrence Bakery's chocolate doberge cake and Commander's Palace bread pudding souffle, and a demitasse of strong chicory cafe' au lait.

Music to knit by...
Any music is great to knit by, it depends on my mood. Since it's Mardi Gras season, I've been mostly listening to lots of Neville Brothers, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, Beausoleil, Professor Longhair and Nathan and the Zydeco ChaCha's.

I have a crush on...
Men In Trees

Least favorite celebrity...
The ones who act so fudgin' stupid that I cringe in embarrassment for them...Tom Cruise and Britney Spears are the 2 that pop into my head although there are others...

Brad Pitt or Johnny Depp...
Johnny Depp, of course

Madonna or Janet Jackson
Neither, I much prefer Mary J. Blige

June Cleaver or Peg Bundy
Do either of them knit?

Jackie or Marilyn

Love or money

Brains or looks

Math or English

Cat or dog
I can't choose - this is how we ended up with 2 of each!

Leader or follower
Independent, although I can be either when I need to be.

Beer or champagne
Beer, unless we're talking bellinis

My favorite smell...
Roasting coffee beans, gasoline, fresh mown grass, lemons, lavender, vanilla

Not many people know this about me...
I can still recite the poem Jaberwocky, which I learned in 4th grade.

My hidden talent is...
Tap dancing and singing opera to the kitties. (For the safety and mental well-being of everyone, these shall remain hidden.)

Oops - my Kleenex is calling, gotta go. Ya'll stay well out there!


Look What I Came Home To Find, Part 3

Say "hi" to Griff, numero quatro foster boy. C brought him home because his other foster dad got sick and had to bring him back to the shelter. He is Oreo's twin and was being pushed around by the bigger members of the brood. C figured, what difference is one more eating/pooping machine going to make? Not much, but the extra cuteness factor is always appreciated. Griff was overjoyed to be reunited with his brothers - he was prancing and spinning around like a baby antelope. It was such a sweet moment, I almost cried, but I had to clean up several little puddles instead.

Here's an update on the other 3:

Oreo and Cody


We have started networking with our friends, neighbors and coworkers to find these baby boys good homes before they have to go back to Animal Haven. We have about 3-4 weeks. So far, 2 families have expressed an interest. Wish us luck!

I hope everyone reading this will have a lovely Valentine's Day in the company of at least one loved one - doesn't matter if said company has a tail or not, love is love and today is the day to celebrate love in all of it's forms! I for one am spending it with 6 darling canines who will cover me with slobbery kisses, 2 cuddly felines who will snuggle with me if I gift them with albacore tuna tonight, 1 horrendous respiratory virus, and 1 great husband who just went out in a 4 degree windchill to get me some 7up, chicken soup and the most fantastic pumpkin bread on the prairie. May you all be so blessed (with the exception of the virus, of course).


When You Miss The Christmas Deadline, Turn Them Into Valentines

Honestly, where does the time go? I personally think there is a leak into the Parallel Universe that sucks up what little time we have here in Realityville. Like a black hole or something. It seems like just last week I was frantically knitting my way towards Christmas, cranking out little bits of scarf goodness for the near-and-dears. And, suddenly, it is FEBRUARY and I have finally finished the final 2.

Some of you are probably saying, "Why didn't you just send along the rest of their Christmas gifts ON TIME, and save the scarves for another time?" However, that doesn't take into account that I get these little obsessions that get Gorilla-glued into my brain and once the idea is there, it must be obeyed. You see, these scarves are going to my dear brother, B and his wife, G. I hardly ever get to see them because they live far, far away in the land of North Carolina, which means I would have to drive millions of miles to see them, or else I would have to resort to flying. Considering that I'd rather have an un-aenestethetized root canal than fly, and that they hardly ever leave their beautiful, mountainous state to consort with us prairiefolk, we leave our visiting to the wonders of electronics.

Let me digress for a moment and explain my aversion to flying. You may be surprised to learn that it has nothing to do with fear or anxiety of flying, terrorists, or the like. I don't mind being miles and miles above land, and I have a fatalistic view of terrorism: if it's your time, it's your time. No, the simple truth is that I detest discomfort and airplanes are not comfortable, for all the obvious reasons. I also hate having to hurt my brain by packing in such a way as to fit everything into such limited luggage space, not to mention all of the restrictions one must remember in order to win the airport security seal of approval. And the fact is that much of the stuff I NEED to bring along so that I am comfortable (see #1 above) will cause the alarms to go off and result in me being removed to that secret place in the airport where a large and unsympathetic security guard named Brunhilda will strip search me and confiscate my favorite mascara and hair products and make me miss my flight. I also figured that, by the time I leave 3 hours early to drive 70 minutes to the airport, check in 2 hours ahead of departure, wait for the inevitably delayed flight, fly to Atlanta to catch the delayed connecting flight to Charlotte, then wait for the 50 or so pieces of luggage I will need for a 5 day visit, it would take me ALL DAY to take what boils down to 3 hours actually in flight. So I try to offset my weirdness with hand-knitted goodies.

The other reason for my determination is this:

This was my present from them - beautifully handmade by the talented G. (This year, G. was chosen to participate in a prestigious juried art festival in Asheville - she's come a long way with her pottery in a very short time!) They have sent me similarly luscious pieces every year, appreciated all the more because they are handmade. I was determined to reciprocate in kind this year (technically, last year). So without further ado, here they are:

Urban Camo


The Urban Camo has been a UFO since the fall. It was knit with Cascade 128 in color 1183 (a rich, very dark olive green) and Classic Elite Beatrice in 'Hedgerow'. C saw the scarf and wants one. Little does he know that Urban Camo Jr. is on the needles with his name on it! At the rate I've been knitting, he may get it in time for Father's Day!

Although the concept is very simple, I am quite pleased with my design for Stormfront. It is knit with 2 different Paton's yarns: Rumor 'Halcyon Heather' (an alpaca/acrylic blend) and Shetland Chunky Tweed 'Charcoal Tweed' an acrylic/wool blend). The Rumor is a delight to knit with - I liked it so much, I started another scarf in it. The Shetland Tweed isn't as soft, but the colors coordinated perfectly with the Rumor and once knitted, it makes a nice fabric. I will be happy to share the pattern particulars of both scarves with anyone who requests the details.

And I can't forget my niece, J. Last year, I gifted J (a teenager) with a fun, fluffy scarf - the last item I crocheted before becoming converted to the Church of Knitting. Not wanting to be redundant, instead of a handknit, I thought it would be nice to make her a convert as well, so I am sending her a beginner's knitting kit containing 2 skeins of a soft self-striping yarn, needles, accessories and the book "Teen Knitting Club". She loves sewing and other crafts. Think she'll like it?

The scarves, along with some other goodies, will be packed up and sent off tomorrow. Okay, so it won't exactly arrive there on Valentine's Day. Maybe I should label the gifts "Happy President's Day"?


Land of Paws

I've had the song "The Merry Old Land of Oz" running through my head recently. Do you remember when Dorothy and the gang finally get to the Emerald City and they are treated to some serious makeovers and a carriage ride drawn by the horse who keeps changing colors? And the song goes something like this: "Ho, ho, ho, hee, hee, hee, ha,ha,ha,ha,ha - that's how we laugh the day away in the merry old land of Oz."

Well, here in Kansas, here in the little animal house on the prairie, the song goes something like this: "Poop, poop, poop, pee, pee, pee, barfing everywhere - that's how we clean the day away in the merry old Land of Paws!" Okay, so it doesn't rhyme, but I don't have the time to make it rhyme. Because now that there is the pitter-patter of 28 little feet filling our home, it seems we are either cleaning up after the eating/pooping machines (AKA "the puppies"), or cleaning up the wet spots left by puppies who escaped their confines and by a certain naughty beagle who is acting out in response to the intruders, or cleaning up hairballs from the feline sector. (Chloe, as always, is a Very Good Dog who is trying hard not to cause extra work for mom and dad. She gets extra treats for her efforts.) I am personally responsible for driving up the profits of the Windex Wipes and Lysol corporations for the past 2 weeks. But look at these little faces. All together now, "Awwwwwww". So worth it!

Cody (AKA "Grunt") and Oreo (AKA "Squeek")

Marley, the newest member of the puppy posse

Despite my whining and complaining, I'm not sorry we're doing this. They are so sweet-natured and love people. And I was so proud today when Oreo and Cody both went right over to poop on the piece of newspaper I had put down in the play area. Only 6 weeks old and starting to potty train! Puppy Einsteins, that's what they are. Unfortunately, they haven't yet learned the concept of not stepping in their own mess and tracking it around all over, which starts another round of cleaning the day away in the merry old Land of Paws!

The members of the Permanent Pet Posse plan their revenge