The Queen Aunt?

I'll be off-line for several days as I head towards warmer weather and a very special event. Although Mardi Gras officially started on January 6 (Twelfth Night), and there have been numerous Mardi Gras balls, the parades don't get underway until this weekend. My niece will be Queen Ponchartrain XXXIII and will be greeting the citizens of New Orleans from atop her royal float on Saturday, assuming it doesn't rain. And Mr. C and I will be there, along with family and friends in the grandstand to toast her.

On Thursday night, she and the king will be crowned. It should be a fun time, with good food, lots of wine and great music. I'll try to take pictures since you can't be there with me.

I'm taking a little break from packing. My dilemma is which of my knitting projects go and which ones get left behind in the single digit weather we've been experiencing. i tried to talk Mr. C into putting the rooftop carrier up, but he wasn't thinking that 2 Rubbermaid bins full of yarn justified the effort. Non-knitters! They just have a really weird way of seeing things.

See ya'll next week and laissez les bon temps roulez!


The Naming Of Washcloths

The Winter Doldrums Swap is off to an exciting start this weekend. Our first topic starts by addressing the debate among knitters: Just what do you call these things?

Weekly Topic: Dishrag. Dishcloth. Face cloth. I've seen folks get all fired up in forums when someone refers to their knit or crochet creation as a dishrag, as that's somehow offensive to them! When you're working on yours, what do you call them? Also, is there a difference between a dishrag and a dishcloth? How bout a facecloth? Are they all really the same thing?

Oh my. I am so glad this came up because there are some misconceptions that obviously need to be cleared up right now. To begin with...are some people so lacking in a real life that they get their panties in a wedgie about perceived insults to their dainty creations? They really need to GOTS (Get Over ThemSelves). I mean really.

Although it does make me curious to know the demographics on these delicate souls - are any of them from the Deep South? Because I am venturing to say that the differences in what these humble cotton squares are known by may be geographically influenced. Growing up in New Orleans, everyone I knew referred to the things they washed dishes with as "dishrags" and the things they washed faces with as "washrags".

You would NEVER confuse the two, because dishrags cleaned the plates and utensils that we ate with, while washrags cleaned the unmentionables and HEAVEN FORBID that cross contamination could occur. They were not even to be washed together at the same time in the washing machine. (At least that was the rule in my mother's OCD household. Makes sense to me!) And when I lived in Mississippi and Texas, I heard them referred to that way as well. But I've never heard anyone say "dishrag" on the prairie.

BUT...the names changed when company was around, as in "Could you please hand me that dishcloth?" and "I laid out your towel and washcloth in the guest bath." So all are correct, it's just that we call 'em rags when among family and close friends, but call them by their fancypants "cloth" names when with folks we are trying to impress.

I hope this provides the definitive answer to this debate. Now, would you like an explanation for the lunch/dinner/supper confusion?

The proper usage:
"Would you please hand me that wet dishrag so I can whack your father upside his head?"

After you've dried your hands, you can hop on over to visit Jessi - it's her first blogiversary and she's having a contest. I poked around her site and she has an Etsy shop with some really pretty yarns and stitch markers. With 2 swaps going on, I'll have to go shopping there!


Dogs On Thursday: Do Dogs Get SAD?

SAD, as in "Seasonal Affective Disorder", the one that affects people when they are deprived of adequate sunlight. It is a type of depression, and like most of the psychological disorders, people can experience SAD from a mild to a disabling degree. The only known effective treatment is getting enough exposure to full-spectrum light through either sunshine or therapy lamps.

Like clockwork, every day Abbie plants herself in a pool of sunshine and follows the sun as it moves across the southern sky. She starts off in the lower level, catching the early morning rays, moves upstairs to our bedroom where she gets sunshine through mid-afternoon. At that point, you can always find her basking on the stairwell.

Yet with all of the sunshine exposure she gets, Abbie still seems depressed. You can see it in her eyes, but it's especially noticeable in her ears - they just droop lately. She acts like she doesn't have any energy. She drags herself around, instead of her normal little trot. She doesn't get out of her bed to welcome me home at night and greets me with the barest little thump of her tail (one of her nicknames is "Thumperbelle" because of how furiously her tail is usually wagging). She sighs frequently - deep, heaving sighs. She's not as interested in grooming her stuffed animals. In short, she is Pathetic.

Chloe, on the other hand is fine. It's true she sometimes stays snuggled in her warm bed a little longer on cold mornings, but don't we all? I'm sure she's not sick - not only did she recently have her annual checkup with the wonderful Dr. Don, but she's eating, drinking and pooping normally.

Mr. C said he just thinks she's bored (but he didn't follow up on my suggestion to take her to Disneyworld). I believe that my poor little beagle baby has SAD. Unfortunately, she has a mommy who believes that if you're not bleeding or vomiting you'll be okay so we aren't going to be shelling out enormous sums of money for light therapy lamps. Instead, I'm making an extra effort to have longer playtimes with her, giving her regular deep-pressure puppy massage, and trying to find new routes (with new smells) on our weekend walks to get by until springtime.
And being much more tolerant of her using the back of my knitting chair as her personal hammock. It is, after all, therapy.

(For more information on SAD, check out this website.)

Hot Cocoa Topic of the Week

Now that we're in the thick of 'Winter'... has your knitting changed to match the season? Are you moving on from dishcloths, and tank tops to afghans, hats and mittens? Has your yarn changed from silk or cotton to wool, superwash or heavier cottons?

My knitting choices don't really follow a seasonal pattern concerning what I knit or the kind of yarn I use. If I see a pattern or yarn that I want to try, it doesn't matter what season it is. I knitted a kitty pi out of bulky wool in June when I first started knitting. I was so motivated, I didn't care how hot I'd get!.

But the seasons definitely influence the colors of the yarn I'm using. Right now, in the middle of winter, I am knitting with muted colors like pale teal and plum, heathery greys, and even black. Once the trees start to leaf out, I'll be reaching for springtime colors. And once we reach August, I pull out the gorgeous fall colors.


Funny, I Never Thought of Myself as Sensible

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Take the Quiz here!

Knocking Out Some UFO's

In between taking down the Christmas decorations and running errands, I managed to get some knitting done and have a finished object to show for it.

I finished the black, green. and blue lengthwise scarf. The yarns used were: Mission Falls 1824 Wool in Raven and Thyme, and Lane Borgosesia Merinos Otto in color 8785. The scarf was knit with #9 Addi Turbo's. I cast on 260 stitches and knit the black stripes in garter stitch and the grey & green stripes in a moss stitch. Each black stripe contains 20 rows and the colored stripes contain 16 rows each. I really like the way this scarf looks, so if Mr. C doesn't like it, I think I'll keep it for myself.

I've also been hard at work on the Baby Einstein coat (AKA Baby Albert).

The body of the coat is finished and all that's left is adding the sleeves and sewing on the buttons.

And having a baby to put into the coat - but that's my neighbor's job - she's due on Tuesday so I may actually be able to give it to her before I go to New Orleans!

The secret snuggly toy for the Hot Cocoa swap is halfway finished, but I can't post photos until after the swap. The pattern is both cute and easy and it's something that I know my secret pal likes a lot.

I'm already mentally packing my knitting bag for the trip. I will bring a couple of the UFO's to complete, but I'd like to also start a dishcloth and a ski band. Of course, I'd bring all of my needles and my entire stash if I could, but I need to leave a little room for my clothes and Mr. C.


Winter Doldrums Questionnaire

1. Do you knit, crochet, or do both?
Knit! I love to knit! I know how to crochet, but only use it when neccessary, like for casting on, edging, or joining seams.

2. What types of needles do you enjoy using for making dishcloths?
Since cotton doesn't slide off the needles as easily as wool or silk, I like to use either the pair of #7 Crystal Palace bamboo needles I have or my #7 Addi turbo's made for knitting lace - they both have sharp little points that let me get under the loop more easily.

3. What types of cotton do you enjoy using for making dishcloths? Is there any that you've been wanting to try

My favorite so far is Lion's Brand Cotton Ease. I like the little bit of springiness in it but don't like the limited range of colors. I have a hard time knitting with Sugar & Cream or any type of cotton that is mercerized or doesn't have some bounciness/stretchiness because my hands start hurting quickly and I can only knit a little at a time.
I'd love to try some of the cotton/microfiber or cotton/polymide or cotton/wool blends.

4. What color(s) are your kitchen and bath decorated in (if any)?

In my kitchen I use buttery yellow, coral, cobalt blue and lime green for accent colors. In my bathroom, I use mainly cream colored towels and washcloths.

5. What are your favorite colors for yarns? Least favorite?

At this time of year, I start looking for brighter colors. I like lime green, cobalt blue, shades of blue-violet, purples and lavenders, buttery yellow, and coral.
The colors I dislike are pastels, beiges, and screaming bright versions of reds, oranges, and yellow.

6. Do you like Winter, or do you count the days until it ends?

I like winter here a lot. Growing up in New Orleans, we had very little winter, but more like days where it wasn't warm or cold, just grey and very humid. Yuck. Here in Kansas, most of the time it will be cold but the skies will be very blue and sunny. Also at this time of year, we'll have a few days of balmy spring-like weather in between the cold spells. So it's very changeable and that keeps me from getting really tired of it.

7. What's your favorite way to brighten your day when you're down in the dumps?

Listen to music, talk to a friend, lots of pet therapy, and of course, knitting!

8. What is your favorite treat to indulge in when your down in the dumps?

Soft and sweet such as muffins, cookies (especially oatmeal raisin), candy (snickers, milky way bars, York patties, M&M's, cinnamon jelly hearts...the list is endless) followed by salty and crunchy (sea salt pita chips are my current crave), followed a short time later by soft and sweet....

9. Do you drink coffee? Tea? Cocoa?
Yes, yes, yes! I love coffee, the darker and stronger it is, the better. I drink mint, jasmine, and orange-spice green tea. I fix hot chocolate a few times a month when I'm craving chocolate.

10. If you could take a vacation starting tomorrow and go anywhere for one week and money were no object, where would you go and what would you do?
At this time of year, I'd buy tickets for my entire family and head to Vegas, baby! The gamblers can gamble (not me - i save my money to purchase yarn), the shoppers can shop, the kids can play, the food is great, we'd catch the big shows every night and we'd stay someplace luxurious, like Mandalay Bay.

11. Do you have any allergies or aversions your pal should be aware of?

I 'm allergic to smoke and certain fragrances in soaps, lotions and candles. The ones that don't trigger allergies are lavender and vanilla. I'm also allergic to math, but try to avoid it whenever possible.


Dogs On Thursday: Reunion

We love to keep up with our foster pups, and are very lucky that 5 out of the 6 families who have adopted one of our fosters have kept in touch with us. We have had a standing invitation to visit with Annie and her family. They live about an hour away, so it took us awhile to make our way to their piece of the prairie but we had the chance to visit with them this weekend.
Look how much this beautiful girl has grown!

April, 2007 - 4 months

January, 2008 - 1 year old

When we pulled up, they had her outside where she was playing in the snow. When she heard Mr. C call her, she ran over and almost knocked us down - she remembered us!

We had both calmed down at this point

What a great smile!

There was all sorts of yipping and happy whining and little kisses going on. When we went inside, she took turns laying by each of us, sneaking in little licks and nibbles, smiling the whole time. She was very diplomatic and would go to each person for a bit before moving on to the next person, sharing the big puppy love with everyone.

We heard all of the sweet and funny stories they had about her. My favorite was how she loves to nibble - she unties shoelaces and if you take your shoes off, she'll gently grab the end of your sock and take it off. She got hold of her 2-legged sister's stuffed teddy bear and carefully took it's clothes off, laid them in a pile on the floor, and then proceeded to rip it's stuffing out! Such a dainty little girl!

To say she is the most spoiled member of that family is not
exaggerating - she is lavished with love and attention. She has the best kind of life a dog could want - she is actively included as part of a large, dog-loving extended family, with a huge backyard, has playdates with lots of doggy friends & cousins, and even gets to sleep in bed with her mom and dad. She is just full of joy and love and I hope it never changes for her.

They told us about this one new quirk of hers that we couldn't imagine, so they sent us the picture to prove it - Annie thinks she's a bird!

After making pests of ourselves for a couple of hours, it was time to go. Annie had come outside with everyone to see us off. She knew we were leaving - she jumped up and put her paws on our shoulders and gave us both kisses - I almost started to cry. Then she turned around and ran inside and laid down in her spot by the door, as if to say, "It was great seeing you, but I'm staying here with my family!"

And then we got an update from Cody/Oscar's proud parents. Cody was the smallest of the 3 runts from our first group of fosters, but was the scrappiest of the four.

Cody/Oscar - 6 weeks old

Cody/Oscar - 4 months old

When he was adopted, he was barely half the size of his Aussie shepherd/BC mix sister.

Our foster-pony (1 year old)

When you foster, a piece of your heart goes with each dog when they're adopted. It's a bittersweet experience and it's so reassuring to know this dog you have cared for is being so loved and treasured. It's why we're going to do it again. Soon, I hope.


Knitting Confessions

Criquette has been a knitting slacker

I have been a bad knitter these past few weeks. Everyone has been very polite about pretending they haven't noticed the lack of knitting content on my blog. Not only did I not finish a single Christmas gift, but I have hardly lifted the needles since before Christmas. I can't decide if it's that I've been too busy, or if I have too many projects on the needles. Probably both. I did take inventory of my current projects and UFO's so that I can start to change their status to FO's. I have 17 unfinished projects - not as many as I was afraid I had, but more than I want to have.

The list of shame includes (clockwise from the left: yellow chemo cap; multi- colored spring scarf; pair of pink wristwarmers (just need to be seamed), blue wristwarmers, brown wristwarmers (1 is completed); cotton market bag; lavender chemo cap (my oldest UFO); blue crocheted girl's chemo hat, taupe baby kimono; rose-pink girl's chemo hat; multi-colored Baby Albert jacket (center).

Here are the scarf UFO's, clockwise, starting in front: coral Li's Herringbone Scarf; glacier-blue alpaca in an easy 2-sided rib pattern; black with blue and green stripes; red self-striping Yarn Harlot's One-Row scarf; grey Urban Camo lengthwise scarf; purple alpaca YH's One-Row scarf. The babies are due in a week or so, one of the scarves is a belated Christmas gift for Mr. C (from last Christmas - how shameful is that???), and 2 of the handwarmers are belated Christmas gifts for our very close friends that we will be seeing in a couple of weeks. The glacier blue alpaca scarf was for my niece who was supposed to move to Columbus - since her plans fell through, she is staying in New Orleans so she will need an alpaca scarf like an alpaca needs a surfboard. The others are either for charity or for my gift stockpile - a headstart on Christmas 2008?

Fortunately, we're heading down to New Orleans in a couple of weeks and are driving, which gives me several hours of knitting time in the car. I plan to finish one of the scarfs for Mr. C (Valentine's Day is right around the corner), the Baby Albert jacket, the blue handwarmers, and possibly the purple alpaca scarf. Plus I need to start on the snuggly toy for my Hot Chocolate swap pal. I have already found the pattern, which resembles something on her blog. It's going to be fun!

Like many other knitters, I am going to make an effort to knit out of my stash this year. I will make an exception for the New Orleans trip, as I feel a Moral Obligation to spend some money in the local yarn stores down there so as to help their local economy (don't you admire my civic mindedness?). I also have a nice sized GC to one of my favorites, The Studio, here in town. I will probably need to purchase some yarn for the knitted snuggly toy as my stash doesn't have the colors I need. And I will acquire additional yarn from the swaps I have entered, but other than this, I will try to significantly reduce the stash this year, as I can't stuff one more skein into any of my bins.

I have also decided to become a more adventurous knitter this year. I am going to take a class on sock-knitting in February and I would like to learn to knit mittens and gloves. I want to make a French Market bag and a second kitty pi, more dishcloths and an afghan out of my growing stash of leftovers. I have some commitments as well, including a dishcloth for the Winter Doldrums swap, the snuggly toy for the Hot Chocolate swap, and 3 mystery items for Pay It Forward (yes Sonya and Faren, I haven't forgotten. I never had a third person sign up, so I am knitting something for someone I have chosen who I hope will be pleasantly surprised). I think that about sums up what I've been up to concerning the pointy sticks and yarn and answers the question:yes, I am still a ferocious knitter.

I took this closeup of the pewter ornament my brother created - I am amazed at his talent and just wanted to show him off a little bit.


Hot Cocoa Scavenger Hunt

The Mmmm... Hot Chocolate swap is off to a fun start with a scavenger hunt game. I had a great time reading through everyone's blogs to find the answers and it was really fun finding people I had a lot in common with. I have a few more (in our group) to read - I have bookmarked several so I can go back and visit and read more of their blogs.

1. Who's favorite animal is an Otter?
Anne K (they're on my list, too!)

2. Name someone who prefers whipped cream with their hot cocoa
Alex E, Ashley C, Tanya

3. Find 3 people who live outside of the United States
Alex E, Ana-Sofia, Angie H, Clarissa

4. Name a fan of Harry Potter
Anne K, Ashley R, Debbie W, Michelle

5. Name someone who crochets
Alex E, Ana-Sofia, Cathy D, Felicia

6. Name someone who DOES NOT have a healthy supply of notions
Ana-Sofia, Angie H, Ashley R, Cathy D, Debbie W

7. Name someone who has NOT put up their questionnaire yet (just put a date with your answer in case they put it up after seeing their name listed somewhere ;-) )
Angela A-H (1-7), Brenda (1-7), Natalie M (1-7)

8. Who likes to have Kahlua, Baileys, or Peppermint Schnapps in their cocoa?
ME! And my fellow lushes are Annemarie & Carly,

9. Name someone who knits fingerless gloves as a 'quick knit'
Ashley R, Rachel C, Kris l

10.Name someone who's looking forward to gardening this spring.
Mia, Ashley C, Michelle J (and me!)

11.Who's favorite way to drink cocoa is with a gorgeous Frenchman, while overlooking the eiffel tower from a French Cafe? (I'm right there with you... well at the table next to yours!)
Kris L

12.Name someone who's favorite animal is NOT a dog or house cat
Amanda D, Clarissa, Jan, Sharon K, Kena

13. Name someone who's favorite treat is NOT chocolate.
Alex E, Alice A, Cathy D, Michelle

14. Who plays Candyland?
That would be me.

15. Name someone who DOESN'T get the winter blahs
Ashley C, Cathy D, Michelle (I'm a winter-lover too)


Kookoo For Cocoa

We got our assignments today for the Hot Cocoa Swap. I've dropped by to peek in on my spoilee and I'm excited as we seem to have several things in common. I've also heard from my spoiler who seems to be a fan of Gryffindor. Hi EZ! I can't say that I'm a huge HP fan, but I've seen all the movies (and am catching up on reading the books). I've even taken a couple of sorting quizzes and both times have been sorted into Ravenclaw, just in case you were wondering.

Here's my Q&A for the HCS:


1. What is your favorite way to drink cocoa? Prepared with milk? Water? From home made recipe or store bought? In a tea cup, or big mug?

I like hot cocoa best with milk (and Kahlua!). I prefer making it from scratch with a good quality cocoa powder, but usually I don't take the time. When I want hot chocolate in a hurry, I'll use a mix but only sugar-free. And I like to drink it out of a big ol' mug.

2. Marshmallows or whipped cream?

Either. Both.


1. What is your favorite type of yarn? In what colors?

I love natural fibers, especially alpaca and merino. I like rich, saturated colors, especially dark, chocolate brown, lime green, and shades of blue-violet. (I don't care for beiges or pastels)

2. Do you knit or crochet (or both)?

I am primarily a knitter. I crocheted for years, but I don't enjoy it nearly as much as knitting.

3. What are your favorite type of needles, would you like to try something new?

I love 10" bamboo needles with pointy tips the most. I can always use sz 7, 8, & 9. My favorite brand is Crystal Palace and I have a hard time finding them at my favorite lys's. I also like Addi's - especially the new ones for lace.

I'm not very interested in trying anything new because I'm the kind of person that if I like something, I stick with it for a long time. That's how I've managed to stay married for 22 years!

4. Do you have a healthy supply of notions?

Probably. I always seem to have what I need.

5. What one thing do you keep thinking you need to buy for your knitting habit (outside of yarn)?

A needle case for my circs.

6. What is your favorite 'quick knit/crochet' pattern (quick gratification)

Scarves and baby hats.


1. What is your favorite thing to do in the Winter?

Watch TV and knit!

2. What is your favorite animal?

I am an animal lover!! I obviously love cats and dogs, but my other favorites are rabbits, meerkats, otters and birds.

3. Do you get the 'winter blahs'?

Not since I've moved to a colder climate. I love winter! I actually get "summer blahs" every year.

4. What is your favorite way to beat the blahs?

I think I stay pretty happy in the winter because I surround myself with things that I really enjoy - soft, snuggly things, knitting, good music (if you like to burn cd's, I have an iPod and an adventurous taste in music), books, yarn, snacks, yummy beverages and more knitting!

5. What is the thing you are most looking forward to this spring?

Getting back out into my garden.

6. What are your favorite treats?

Sweet - cookies, muffins, Skittles, M&M's

Salty - sea salt pita chips

7. What is your favorite board game?

I play a lot of CandyLand at work so I'm pretty burned out on it right now. I'm more of a card player - UNO, California Speed and Canasta are my favorites.

8. Do you have any children (furry or human)?

I have 2 wonderful dogs, 2 fantastic cats and sometimes furry foster babies (we'll probably be getting some new fosters in February!)

9. Do you have any allergies or special considerations you partner should know about?

I am very allergic to smoke and to most fragrances. While I do enjoy scented lotions, soaps and candles, most of them give me a strong respiratory reaction so if you have something in mind, I'd appreciate it if you checked to find out what I can tolerate : D. And please, I beg of you, please refrain from sending me any cups or mugs - we just sent a bunch of them off to charity and it will drive Mr. C up the wall if we get even one more (this is truly one of his pet peeves. One of my favorite practical jokes was the year I bought a dozen weird mugs from the thrift store and wrapped them in a bunch of boxes - he kept opening boxes and pulling out mugs - everyone about peed their pants laughing - everyone except Mr. C that is).


A Very Bossy Road Trip

Here's another way you might want to turn those late-winter blues all sunshiney and yellow. If you're a reader of Bossy's hilarious blog, you might persuade her to make a road trip through your town. watch the video - such a great song!

New Cure For Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Dr. Anne and her co-therapist, Dr. Holly are hosting another great dishcloth swap!

Okay, so maybe this won't really cure SAD, but it will sure bring some sunshine and warmth in the middle of the dreary winter. Interested? Here are the swap requirements:
  • You must have a blog.
  • You must post regularly - no less than once weekly.
  • You can't have flaked or been AWOL in previous swaps of mine, in the Tea Swap, or in KVVS - I just can't risk it; this is supposed to be fun for everyone.
  • Package Requirements:
    • $20US Minimum Spend Requirement
    • Knit or Crochet Dishcloth(s)
    • Yarn for your pal - at least enough for a small project (100g or more recommended)
    • Some sort of yummy soap - there are links to some handmades in the sidebar, and any kind that's not your average Dial or Lever 2000 is welcome!
    • Any other treats that you think will brighten your pal's winter - Edible treats or notions for Knit or Crochet are great things to include.
Please only sign up if you can truly commit to ALL of the requirements. You don't want to make a fellow yarn-lover's winter even more doldrum-my, now do you?


See Spot Speak

My brother sent me this hilarious video of some motor-mouthed canines. I'll bet Abbie and Chloe could do this if they really wanted to.