Shut Up And Knit

Technically, this is supposed to be a knitting blog. After all, I am a knitter, I knit every day, I buy yarn and think about knitting when I'm not knitting and squeeze in time to read knitting blogs. I LOVE knitting! But to read my blog, you wouldn't think I do much knitting at all. The truth is, I'm a slow knitter who doesn't have much free time to knit. Therefore, my FO production rate is embarrassingly low. I try to distract visiting knitters from this fact by putting lots of gratuitous non-knitting pictures in my posts, and yammering on about all kinds of other things. However, every once in a while, I try to post actual knitting content that is either a new project or a UFO that is showing significant progress. Today is one of these rare occurances.

First off, I have finished 4 knitted squares for Greensburg and 1 "Group hug" crocheted square. It was kind of fun to pick up the crochet hook again after an absence of several years, but my heart still belongs to knitting!

My Saturday knitting group from church have been busy making squares - 25 so far!

I cast on the Baby Albert jacket (and actually finished the bottom section today):

Here is the yarn for my next 2 baby items:

The white and green Debbie Bliss Cashsoft will get knit up into the Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono. And the pretty deep rose will be knit up into this:

Elizabeth Zimmerman's Baby Surprise jacket
(I borrowed this picture off the 'nets so you can see what it will theoretically look like)

Hopefully this is enough knitting content to tide the blog over for another 23 posts or so.
But don't worry - there'll still be plenty of gratuitous content.

Bitsy BonTon is really an alien trapped in a little cat suit


Greensburg Contest Extension!

I received a very nice comment from Laura (the Sugar Bunny who created theRebuilding Greensburg Block By Block idea. Now Laura is one of my real-life heroes - the kind of person who doesn't just get a good idea, but the kind of person who sticks with their good idea and carries it through. To date, she has received 1602 squares for the afghans that will be given to the residents of Greensburg, KS upon moving into their new homes. The current goal is for 2240 squares, which will make a total of 40 blankets. That's a whole lot of soft wooly hugs! I think she will pass this amount... I am predicting she will collect enough for 50+...that would mean she needs at least 1298 more squares...think we can help her do it?

When Laura asked if I could extend the contest deadline to August 1, how could I possibly say no? So this is the official notice that the Greensburg Squares contest is open through August 16. (This is a sentimental date for me because it was my mother's birthday). That means there's still plenty of time left for you to knit up lots more knitted love for these people who have lost everything. And just to further entice you, I will offer another prize! Can't tell you what it will be yet, but I've heard a rumor that my favorite LYS has gotten in some enticing new yarns and you know I will be checking it out! Okay, so let's recap how you can qualify for these tempting prizes:

It feels as good as it looks!

1. Knit or crochet 8x8 squares, using the pattern on Laura's website.

2. Send your squares to Laura - she will need to have received them by August 16!!

3. Post a picture of your squares on your blog. (I love to check out knitting blogs!) (If you are currently blogless and you really want to be in the contest, this is a good reason to start a blog of your own!)

4. Leave me a comment and be sure to include a link to your blog. If you are vegan or allergic to wool, please let me know and I will send a critter-free yarn instead.

5. Everyone who sends at least one square will be entered into the random drawing.

6. There will be 2 additional prizes awarded to the 2 people who send in the most squares. PLEASE NOTE: I am also counting any additional items you knit/crochet to send along - hats, socks, mittens, scarves, etc.)

7. To be sure I have you entered in the contest, let me know when the pictures appear on your blog.

Start marking your calenders now if you can attend the Seaming Party on September 15! I'll be there!

Thanks to all of you who are participating. You're all winners!


May I Have A New Birthday Please?

And let's just shave off, oh, about 30 or so years while you're at it. Dianne tagged me for a "day you were born" meme. I had to look up my date of birth and list all kinds of theoretically interesting facts that occured on that day. So I looked up my birthdate and....(YAWWWWWNNNNNNN). No wonder I am so boring! It's fated in the stars. At least I take comfort in knowing it's not my fault and that I don't have to take responsibility for being more vibrant and interesting. I can just keep wallowing in my boringness.

But I digress.
The Meme Rules: Go to Wikipedia, type in the month and date of your birth. Share with the blogging world 3 events, 2 births, and 1 holiday associated with your special day. And give a reason for your choices. and hope your special day is more interesting than November 8.


1. Xrays discovered - 1895

I actually tried to get away with this excuse once. The teacher was not amused.

2. Bronx Zoo opens - 1899

I love zoos and will always try to visit a zoo when I travel. The Bronx Zoo is the largest metropolitan zoo in the US.

(Warning: Cuteness alert!)

In the 40's and 50's, the Bronx Zoo was the only zoo outside of Australia and New Zealand to have an exhibit of duck-billed platypusses. Or is that platypi? I really wish they still had these little guys - I would love to see a real one. Unfortunately, one of the platypi decided to go walkabout. Somewhere in the sewers of New York, there now live scores of giant killer platypi.

3. Montana becomes the 41st state - 1889

I think Montana must be beautiful. I think a road trip is in order.


Edmond Halley - 1742

Yep, that's the guy. And Halley's Comet will appear again in 2061.

Hermann Rorschach (Swiss psychiatrist) -1884

Creator of the infamous inkblots. And anyone who doesn't see the mutant crabs beating the Eiffel Tower with rolling pins while strange men from the 70's ride on flower-mobiles needs help.

Margaret Mitchell - 1900

Miss Margaret wrote one of my favorite books ever. I wanted to be Katie Scarlett O'Hara so badly that I changed my name to Katie when I was in 8th grade (true story). Even my parents started calling me Katie and it stuck.

Animals in clothes! I can't resist!


St. Michael's Day (Greece & Cyprus)

So there you have it, a few tidbits about the boring day on which I was born. But you know what? I'm awfully glad to have been born!

Okay, so this time around, I am going to change the rules a little bit. If you'd like to play along, consider yourself tagged. And please leave a comment so I can read about your date of birth, which surely must be more exciting than mine. Go on, you know you want to.


My Dishcloth Pal Rocks!!!

This week has been very stressful and horribleterrible. When I woke up last Saturday morning, I discovered that I had a spider bite between my toes. At first it itched intensely and kind of hurt, but as the day progressed, it became clear that the little bastard had really given me a good jolt of its nasty toxin. I've been bitten by spiders a couple of times before, but not quite as badly as this one. After checking it out online, I think I was probably bitten by a brown recluse, because I had the symptoms of a poisonous spider bite, but fortunately, it seems like I am having a mild reaction. I'm very fortunate because apparently it could have been a lot worse. Even so, I know spider bites take a long time to heal, so i won't be able to wear most of my favorite summer shoes, which have thong toes. I think it was part of a spider conspiracy to have vengeance on me following the recent spider whacking incident.

I can tell I have venom in my system because I've felt really icky for several days, but have been so busy at work that I had to go in. I'm taking lots of vitamins and immune boosters which i think are really helping. On top of that, I've had to deal with a crisis situation at work that started Monday and has just kept going and going...I've been putting in 12 hour days all week. So in spite of these hassles, I have been in a surprisingly good mood all week because of this:

I received my Spring Into Summer Dishcloth swap package from Cheryl (who is currently blogless). The first thing I pulled out were some Mardi Gras beads, which were a very fun touch of home. And just look at the rest of these wonderful goodies!

Chocolate (YES!!!) in both milk and dark varieties, which is great since I am a lover of chocolate diversity! And she is enabling my biggest vice of all (I don't consider anything knitting-related to be a vice BTW) by including a very generous gift card for Starbucks. Considering I pass no less than 3 of them on my way to work, I see many frozen mochachinos in my future.

She knit me not 1, but 2(!)dishcloths in one of my favorite summer colors, and sent an extra ball of the yarn she used. I've not seen this yarn at the lys' I frequent, and I can't wait to knit it up into something, probably more of these wonderful dishcloths.

I am new to the world of knitted dishcloths, having always been a sponge sort of girl. These 2 were knit with a variation of the Chinese Waves pattern which forms a dense, hefty little cloth. I started using one immediately and I am hooked. The pattern can be found at Maggie's Rags, the blog of none other than my favorite knitting book author! And it's free!

As much as I loved these gifts, it gets even better:

Notice the pretty little pearl stitch markers. Little does Cheryl know that I wear pearl earrings nearly every day! Cheryl was reading my blog during the swap and would send me very nice, encouraging comments about my desire to start sock knitting on 2 circs. Knowing myself well, I feared that I would experience the second-sock-itis phenomenon. Well, Cheryl sent me a DVD on knitting 2 socks on 2 circs!!! I am so excited and can't wait to start.

Although I came close to starting last night, around 2:30am, when I couldn't sleep because I began obsessing about The Spider being down at the foot of my bed, just waiting for me to drift innocently off to sleep, and then sinking it's nasty little fangs into my poor little toes again. I did toy with the idea of going to watch the dvd, but figured I would then have to go digging up the yarn and needles and cast on and then I would never have gotten to sleep. So I stayed in bed, curled up in a tight little ball, feeling like I was 6 years old again, terrified about the snakes and spiders and wolves that I just knew were under my covers at the foot of my bed. But I did eventually drift off to dreamland, pondering how on earth you could knit 2 socks at the same time.

Cheryl, I was lucky enough to live in Austin for a year when I was younger and I loved Texas! And you have definitely lived up to the claim that Texans do things bigger and better! You've been a great swap partner and I hope your partner gives you the "Texas Treatment"! Thanks for making my week a better place to be in.


The Best Knitting Book In My World Meets The Best Blueberry Pie In My World

For anyone reading this who may be a novice knitter, do yourself a huge favor and BUY THIS BOOK! I used this book to learn to knit. Even before I could do anything but knit in straight garter stitch, I read the entire book, cover-to-cover because it's just so darn good. Her writing style is very clear and concise and there is a lot of depth to the topics covered. I always consult this first when I am teaching myself something new or double-checking on something. I also really like the books "Knitting School" and my newest (courtesy of my fantastic SP10 pal!), "Knit Fix", but the little green bible is my absolute favorite.

What goes better with a good read about knitting, but a wedge of homemade fresh blueberry pie, made by the best husband in the world. Although Mr. C has many other stellar qualities, I would keep him for this alone.


The Most Accurate Personality Test Ever

You Are a Pinky

You are fiercely independent, and possibly downright weird.
A great communicator, you can get along with almost anyone.
You are kind and sympathetic. You support all your friends - and love them for who they are.

You get along well with: The Ring Finger
Publish Post
Stay away from: The Thumb
What Finger Are You?

Okay, they nailed me, especially the downright weird part. I'm really glad I'm not the Pointy finger!


Raining Babies

It's getting ready to rain babies around here, and I am getting ready for the showers! Both of my next door neighbors are pregnant - and are due within 3 days of each other! And one of my office staff, who has been praying for a grandchild since I've known her - recently found out she will be a grandmother finally! Obviously, these joyous occasions call for soft, cuddly little handknits. And guess who has had the patterns and yarn for two baby shower gifts waiting for such an occasion? More about this in a minute - first I am going to digress.

Last weekend, I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to learn to swatch properly if I was going to make the successful transition from scarf knitter to socks and beyond. Being a knitter with ADD, I naturally want to avoid anything that feels like a chore in order to jump right into the fun stuff. However, as I have entered my "power years", I find I have actually learned a lesson or 2, one of which is knowing when it's important to do something the right way vs. when it's okay to do it my way. After reading about some knitters' mistakes with their first (and more) socks not fitting, I decided that if I am going to subject myself to the task of knitting itty-bitty stitches with itty-bitty thread and toothpicks (meaning it will take a long time to complete), then the dang socks had better fit me or there will be a nuclear meltdown here on the prairie.

Once the decision was made to swatch, my OCD then kicked in. I searched the 'net for How To Make the Proper Swatch, because if I'm going to do it, then it will be done right! Another life lesson I have learned is the importance of letting yourself be mentored by those with more experience. So I found me two "swatching mentors." Mambocat made one of the best cases for swatching I have read, and her example project just happens to be Sally Melville's Einstein Coat - one of my projects is the baby version (Baby Albert). And Sara, who has a blog solely devoted to teaching the craft and sharing her free patterns, (also check out her picture - isn't she the cutest?), recently wrote 2 excellent posts on the importance of gauge.

So how does this tie in to baby knits? I had started a Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono (from Mason-Dixon Knitting) a while back, but just never got into it. I have the Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK for it, and was using my usual bamboo needles, but there was just something not right about it. So after playing around with it, I figured out that the bamboo put a little too much drag on the yarn. To compensate, I think I was knitting more loosely, so I wouldn't have to fight with the stitches. And as a consequence, I didn't like the look and feel of the fabric. In other words, even though I was using the needles that the pattern called for, in my swatching ignorance, I thought that would be good enough. After all, it wasn't for a particular baby, so if the size turned out wonky, some baby somewhere would fit into it, right? But my guess is that the gauge was wrong and I wasn't liking the product it was becoming.

So I've been having a swatching festival this week. I knit swatches of the green sock yarn using #3 needles, and now #2's. I knitted 2 different size swatches of the Nashua Cilantro that I have had, just waiting for the right project. And what I have found is that I knit on the tight side and have had to go up a size in order to hit gauge. And I actually thought that I knit loose!

So the Nashua Cilantro is going to become the Baby Albert jacket. although it's knit all in garter stitch, I am going to learn how to add additional stitches and to pick up stitches and how to make buttonholes! I haven't been this excited about a project since the Kitty Pi. I am then going to swatch the Cashmerino DK and make the kimono with the correct gauge. And I've found the third pattern I'm going to make. It's going to be a surprise.

Finally, I learned the crochet cast-on last night! I will need it for the Baby Albert jacket. If you know how to crochet, it's a piece of cake. I like it so much, I'm going to start using it whenever I can. It is the only cast-on that matches the regular bind-off stitch, so not only does it make a really nice, uniform edge, but it won't pull the cast-on edge out of shape. It will be perfect for scarves that call for a long-tail or knitted on cast-on and should solve the problem of one end looking perfect while the other looks distorted.

Hard to believe another weekend has come and gone. I was insanely busy but still feel like I didn't get much accomplished. I did cook Sunday supper, after what seems like months of not cooking. We found out that one of our new neighbors, who has 2 school-age kids, has had a recurrance of cancer and it has spread. She is going to undergo aggressive treatment, so if you believe in the power of prayer, please put in a good word for Kelly and her family. Several of us are going to start cooking and freezing meals for them. My first contribution is a delicious casserole called Chicken Buccatini. I'll post the recipe later this week - I guarantee that if you like Italian food, you'll like this.

Have a happy week!


Virtual Vacation Swap

Ok, this is my kind of vacation - no packing, no airline hassles, no worries about leaving the critters behind. Let's go!

1. If you could visit any state in the US, which would it be and why?

Maryland. I was born in Havre de Grace, when my dad was in the service. My folks moved back to New Orleans before I was 2 years old, so I have no memory of my time there. I'd love to do a combined trip of MD/DC.

2. If you could visit any country in the world, which would it be and why?

Besides Thailand, I'd love to visit Norway. My parents were very good friends with a couple who were born in Norway and we grew up with their wonderful and large extended family. If they are any indication, Norwegians are big-hearted, fun-loving, partying people. Then there's the mountains and fjords - that would be a very spiritual experience to be able to experience that. And I would buy Hartshorn powder, which is an ingredient for the best fruit salad I've ever had and I can't find this anywhere in the US. And the cheeses and desserts! And, of course, the yarn. And I could wear my lovely alpaca scarves (just not at the same time).

3. Have you ever driven across several states/provinces/countries?

We usually drive from the prairie to New Orleans whenever we go to visit. It's a very enjoyable drive and I look forward to the drive as much as I do the rest of the trip.

4. Have you ever visited someplace you considered exotic? Where was it?

I've enjoyed my vacations in the tropics, but when you grow up in America's largest sauna (aka "South Louisiana"), the steamy temps, afternoon rainstorms, bugs the size of Delaware, and gigantic vegetation is not exactly novel. The place I considered the most exotic was Vancouver, BC (hi, Li!) and Victoria and all places in between. It was such a wonderful blend of cosmopolitan city, water, breath-taking scenery, indiginous culture, museums, hiking, great eating, friendly people. Living below sea level most of my life (New Orleans), then moving to the prairie gives me a deep awe and appreciation for mountains. But the mountains were lush and green, the quality of the light was remarkable, the mysterious waters that sprouted hundreds of islands, and the totems everywhere were the most exotic experiences! And the smell! Balsam, honey and crispy sea air - it's what I imagine heaven will smell like!

5. What was your favorite travel vacation and why?

Sarasota, FL has the best and most perfect beaches, great food, and overall ambience. It was the most satisfying vacation I think I have ever had. The sights, sounds and even smells are so imprinted in my brain that I become deeply relaxed whenever I even think of it.

And, of course, Vancouver. We stayed in a quaint little hamlet called Horseshoe Bay. It was the kind of place you can imagine yourself living in forever:

6. Have you ever played tourist in your own home city/state? Explain.

One of the great things about living in New Orleans was that we frequently "played tourist" everytime we went to the French Quarter, or the river front, or the restuarants, or the zoo, or the aquarium, or Mardi Gras...well, you get the picture. This is whether we had out of town guests, or just living everyday life:

Kansas...ummm not so much. There's a lot of generic shopping, good barbeque, a couple of interesting art museums and you can drive out to the newer suburbs and see lots of cows. I'll take you all on a virtual tour in an upcoming blog.

7. Are you a museum visitor, beach comber or amusement seeker?

I can be any of these, depending on where I am visiting. Add "rock collector". I always bring back a rock from wherever I visit. Much to Mr. Criquette's chagrin. He just doesn't get it.

8. What's your favorite type of yarn?

It's a tie between merino and alpaca.

9. What's your least favorite type of yarn?

Novelty yarn, cheap acrylic, anything without bounce and some give. I also really dislike mohair.

10. What items do you like to knit/crochet?

Scarves, scarves, and more scarves. Sometimes hats and cat beds.

11. What do you pack to knit or crochet when you go on vacation?

As much as possible! That's one reason I love to drive rather than fly. I bring at least three different WIP's so I don't get bored, as well as a new project to cast on.

12. What other crafts do you/would you like to do other than knit or crochet?

For the past 18 months, all I've done is knit, except for a couple of small needle-felted projects. I like to do origami sometimes.

13. Are you allergic to anything?

Cigarette smoke and many perfumes. Also, most candles will give me an allergic reaction.

14. What is your favorite color? Least favorite color?

I wear a lot of black, turquoise, periwinkle, violet, and lavender. I also love lime green, deep cobalt blue and butter yellow. I don't care for most really bright colors or pastels. I really don't like beige, tan, or muddy colors.

15. Sweet or savory? (treat, not personality)

When we go on vacation, we ALWAYS pack Cheezits and cookies - ginger, molasses, oatmeal/raisin, chocolate chip, etc. Also bananas and Snickers bars!

So there it is. I can't wait to see where I'm going!


Nothing Like Slapping a Perfect Stranger

I did something a bit out of character for me today. I slapped a total stranger upside the head. But I can explain!

So I was in the neighborhood of my favorite garden center and had popped in to pick up some native perennials for the huge gardens I am putting in by the woods. I just realized I have not yet posted about these - it's a big project that I'm really excited about! Anyway, there I was waiting in a long line, minding my own business. I was bored (I hate standing still for more than 9 seconds) and in the course of looking around, noticed one of these:


It was the size of a nickel and was making it's creepy little way up the shirt of the woman in front of me. I started to ask her if she wanted me to get it off, but just as I opened my mouth, the thing lifted it's nasty little legs and was about to crawl onto her neck. Well. What would you have done? I slapped the damn thing off her neck just as she turned her face to see what the psycho woman in back of her was up to. And just as I whacked the evil critter off of her, I had her in the face!

I was mortified and apologizing up a storm. Eventually she understood that it was the spider I had meant to assault and not her, although she WAS taking way too long at the register. And she gave me a hug and thanked me. The other people who witnessed the attack all agreed that they would rather be slapped by a total stranger than have a spider crawling on their neck, too. The whole time we were discussing this, we were all scratching ourselves and wiggling around. I'll bet you are now, too. (You're welcome. This is called "desensitizing" in the twisted world of psychology. Just so you know.)

Does anyone out there have a funny story to tell about either having a creepy crawler encounter or accidently whacking an innocent stranger? Please share! I take comfort when I know I'm not the only nut job out there.

Now on to the good stuff. The stuff you really came here to see...the Greensburg Square contest prizes. Without further ado, here they are:

These little apple-green pretties are Lana del Artista superwash merino sock wool from Rio de la Plata yarns. 437 yards of soft, springy yumminess. I bought these yarns in the early spring, thinking I might make a shawl. But since they're green, as in Greensburg, I thought they'd be perfect for prizes. And the fun part?
This third ball is for me. I have decided to take the plunge - this yummy little yarn cake is going to be my first pair of socks.

"If you think she's a nut job now, wait till she starts trying to knit socks."

Finally, one of my alert readers, Cole, left a comment on the recent post regarding the exploits of one Abbie Bad Beagle. She made the very reasonable suggestion that if we got Abbie a stuffed buny she would leave her bad bunny-chasing days behind her and stop giving her mom and dad grey hairs (or should that be 'hares'?). Cole, thank you for the good advice but...we're talking a beagle here! They are not reasonable nor are they very smart. Most people don't realize that the real reason God invented humans was to keep the beagles out of trouble.

Anyway, not only does does Abbie have a furry stuffed bunny (that squeaks), she also has a stuffed squirrel, octopus, duck, crab, frog, lamb, smiley face and 2 fluffy-tail zebra tennis balls. But even this vast array of stuffed squeaky fake-furry goodness is not enough to quell the temptation of an open door.

Abbie plans her next break-out while baking her brains.


Contains Actual Knitting Content! And A Contest, Too!

And it's about time!

Since this is supposed to be primarily a knitting blog, I thought I should actually write a post that included some proof that I do really knit. In fact, I try to knit every day, even if it's only one or two rows. Maybe I don't discuss my knitting very much because (1) I seem to make very slow progress and feel silly if I tell you that I knit another inch on a 60" scarf, or that I finished yet another generic baby hat; (2) do knitter-readers who are far more advanced than me truly want to see and read about really basic plain-jane projects?

This past week, I have been knitting squares for the Greensburg blankets and have finished two and started on two more. I finished my first dishcloth, which is going to my secret pal along with many other goodies for the dishcloth swap. I am still knitting away on the herringbone scarf and the one-row pattern alpaca scarf. I reorganized my stash into the personal stash, the charity projects stash, and the UFO bin. And I did a bit of stash enhancement while I was buying yarns for my SP10 partner and dishcloth partner on the previous weekend. I didn't intend to buy anything for myself, but when I saw this little skein, I just couldn't resist. It's so soft and squishy and I love this color combination.

J.Knits Superwash-Me Sock Colorway: Columbus

This is the second sock yarn I have bought for myself, even though I have had no intention of knitting anything requiring teeny needles and strange phenomena like "heel flaps" and "grafted toes". But I think that maybe this means that I am subconsciously considering the idea of possibly knitting a sock. (Or maybe not.) I also realized I have 2 skeins of Koigu that I received from the long-lost Valerie, my funky scarf pal. What am I going to do with all of this sock yarn?

This past weekend was also the start of one of my favorite summer activities, the Theater in the Park. It is an open-air theater where families can set up their blankets and lawn chairs, turn the kids loose and enjoy very good amateur productions. The season kicked off with a surprisingly good "Fiddler on the Roof". We brought one of my knitting buddies, Melissa. It was so much fun to sit and knit as the sun went down, listening to some of my favorite show tunes, while enjoying the cool evening breeze.

Greensburg Square #2

Speaking of Greensburg and sock yarn, I am having a contest to encourage the knitting of lots of squares! I want knitters to innundate Greensburg with wooly love! All you need to do is knit or crochet a square or 2 (or 5 or 24), post a picture of your square(s) on your blog, and leave me a comment with a link to your blog. There will be a prize for the person who makes the most squares and I will also have a random drawing for a second prize for everyone who participates. The deadline is July 4th.

Blogger has decided I can't post any more pictures tonight, so I will post pictures of the prizes in my next blog. And don't be surprised if it involves some kind of lovely sock wool. And both winners will also receive a CD mix with some of my favorite songs from musical theater! You can get the how-to's and info on where to send the squares at Sugar Bunny Boulevard.

So what are you waiting for? Start knitting!