Big Thanks To Caroline!

I have been fortunate enough to have the Aussie-loving Caroline as my Mix Makers Swap spoiler in the second round. She and I have very similar music tastes, yarn tastes and snack tastes. I received my last package from her earlier this week and it continued the fabulousness of her first two packages.

First of all was the mix. This time the theme was "Spring Fever ". It's full of fresh, lively music that is perfect for listening to over and over again. I have lots of new favorites on here. I want to point out the cute packaging that Caroline has created for all of the mixes she has sent. I really enjoy these little details.

This time she outdid herself on the yarn - mmmmMalabgigo!!! 2 skeins!!! In one of my most favorite shades of blue! She also sent a pattern (the Drop-Stitch Scarf), which may be what this beautiful yarn becomes. She included some sugar-frosted gummy bunnies - so cute and very delicious! A Key Limeade mix, enough to make a big pitcherful. One of my favorite flavors is lime so this will get mixed up and be gone by the end of the weekend. She also included a cute little memo pad, which I use by the dozens. And finally, 3 packs of very pretty little tissues, polka-dotted and monogrammed. Just right for this time of year, when the dandelion fluffs start flying around and my allergies hit the roof. Problem is, they're too pretty to use!

Thank you so much, Caroline. I love everything and have really enjoyed having you for a spoiler. You're the best!

When Pointy Sticks Become Weapons of Mass Destruction

The basic logic for knitting for afghans 4 Afghans is simple: the Taliban recruits poor, uneducated people from a very young age, taking advantage of the extreme poverty and harsh living conditions that are found in Afghanistan. If international charity organizations can get to them first, with food, medicine, warmth and education, they may be less vulnerable to the brainwashing of the terrorists.

A4A provides the "warmth" part of this equation by collecting knitted and crocheted wool items and sending them along with the other critical supplies, which are then distributed by the organization. There is a strong hope that, by reaching the impoverished Afghans first, they will be better able to resist the propaganda of the Taliban and be strong enough to function independently and ultimately, without recruits, the Taliban will fail in Afghanistan.

Therefore, each big shipment by a4A is like a big, soft, wooly bomb going off. I love the idea that maybe I can make a tiny difference in ending this war, while helping someone in great need.

These are my peaceful bullets, shot from my powerful and pointy sticks of mass destruction:

My first mittens, made from the pattern BB's Knitted Mittens- super easy and went really fast. I wanted to knit flat first, so I could understand the basic construction. I didn't like the bulky seam, so will definitely knit future mittens on circ's. But they're cute, aren't they? (I believe these are going to children who live in the Northeast part of Afghanistan).

The baby blankie, finally finished. My "pattern", if you can call it that. I knitted and crocheted a variety of squares, using common stitch patterns that I sort of winged as I went. I ended by crocheting a single-crochet border in black around each square. This allowed me to use black yarn to join the squares with a crochet slip-stitch. I like the consistent appearance, and, for me, I feel like this went faster and was less tedious than sewing the squares together. Next time, I will be more clever and knit the blankie in strips, picking up stitches along the sides for each new lengthwise row. (My blankie will be given to a baby at the Pediatric Hospital in Kabul).

This project has been so satisfying and makes me feel happy all over! Plus, it used up a lot of my stash, especially my odds & ends. There's actually a bit of empty space in the Rubbermaid bin that holds my wool yarns. And you know what that means...

If you would like to join the effort, there is still time before the May 15 deadline. A4A is still in great need of socks for babies and small children. Friends of a4A is a forum on Ravelry. You can search the recent threads to find more information on the specifics of what is needed. All items must be made from animal fiber, so this is a great way to use up leftover sock yarn! Even if you can't make it in time for this current deadline, you can always make some and keep them on hand for the next campaign. There is also a drawing for 3 $50 gift certificates for any mittens sent before the May 15 deadline.


Greetings From a Bird-Nerd

In addition to all the other ways I like to be dorky, I am also an avid bird-nerd. That would be wild birds - I don't do inside birds, in fact they scare me. But I can use up a lot of time watching the birds who come to our feeders and the ones who inhabit the woods behind my house. I read at least a couple of books each year about birds. Right now I am fascinated by raptors. We have 3 kinds of hawks, a pair of peregrines and 2 kinds of owls who frequent our neighborhood. I bought a beautiful book last week about owls. Mr. C isn't yet convinced of why he needs to build an owl box for our patch of woods, so I am hoping this web site will help convince him.

Klaara is an adorable Tawny Owl who lives in Estonia. (I had no idea where Estonia is located, except I do know they knit exceptionally beautiful lace there. Anyway, it's near Finland. But I digress.) Klaara and her mate, Klaus, are currently raising 4 adorable little balls of white fluff and you can watch them 24/7 on the Klaara-cam. I have been addicted to peeking in on Klaara and company for a couple of weeks now, but especially since I watched her help her third chick hatch last Saturday night. It was amazing and I feel so privileged to have seen this happen. There's a group of us following the action over on Ravelry, in the Bird Lovers group.

Tawny owls are related to barred owls. Our little patch of woods is a favorite hunting ground for a pair of barred owls and this week we've heard them sounding their mating calls, which sound like they're calling "Who-cooks-for-you? Who cooks for you, who?" That's a question I wonder a lot about recently, as I haven't been in a cookerly kind of mood for several weeks now and I would love for someone to cook for me. My neighbors are not as charmed, however, since the male owl likes to sit in a dead tree right outside their bedroom window and serenade his lady just before dawn.

Klaara's little owlets are getting bigger everyday. She can barely keep them tucked under her warm feathers now. In just one week, she has shown them how to eat for themselves. Klaus keeps bringing her enormous rodents, which she keeps re-arranging in the nest throughout the day. These varmints serve as the owl-buffet in the nest. I keep the window open, but shrunk, with the sound turned up when I am not actually watching the cuteness of Klaara's family. Chloe and Abbie have taken to hanging out in my office with me, and there is always great interest on their parts when Klaus arrives at the nest to deliver food, with the rustle of wings and Klaara shrieking and owlets peeping. They both run up to my desk, noses twitching and tails wagging. Our family is so easily entertained.

As the babies get bigger, Klaara will join Klaus in their hunting efforts to keep enough voles and mice available to feed the growing chicks, who will be out of the nest in about 3 weeks.

Fortunately, it is easy to keep an eye on the little brood and knit at the same time. The A4A blankie is finally finished and is blocking right now. I hope to have pictures to show in the next day or two.


An Un-Baa-Lievable Video (With Proof That Border Collies Are the Einsteins of the Dog World!)

I saw this link on a forum in Ravelry. Forgive me if any one has already posted this already, but this is too awesome not to share!