Monday, January 31, 2011

Birthday Wrap Up

Dear Mom,
The celebration started with the last day in my 40's and stretched out to include the first couple of days of 50 and today being Monday, it is time to face reality and get back to the cooking and cleaning and laundry.

But first, a recap.

I was indulged in delicious lunches and dinners out, given flowers, received sparkly gifts that came in small packages and I had the thrill of seeing a yarn shop full of knitters working on my North Porch Hat pattern.

It was a happy accident that the Village Yarn Shop's monthly knitter's night out was scheduled on my birthday and that the chosen project was one of my patterns. I am at a loss for words.

The only requests I made of My Hero were that there be NO surprise parties and no gifts that poop. Happily, neither of those things occurred. Instead, I received a beautiful bracelet with charms that he and the kids picked out for me. Friday night's birthday dinner at Hollyhock Hill, where so many happy family events have been celebrated for so many years, put the punctuation on two days that made me feel special.

But the gift that I really think should be acknowledged here is Bonnie Jo's generous gift of the navigation system for my car.

old person's GPS
Isn't she thoughtful?!


Saturday, January 29, 2011

One Year Ago Today

Dear Mom,

January 29, 2010.
My Hero comes home from work with this.
Someone fell instantly in love.
It wasn't me.
But  puppy breath won me over.

Even when wearing her out was my biggest challenge and seemed to be the focus of my days.

I've worked hard to teach her manners and lady-like behavior.

We're still working on that.
Patsy has taken me places I never thought I would go... like doggie daycare.
I have things I never thought I would a membership to the dog park.
And I've met people I never thought I would need to a Canine Behavior Specialist.
And others that have become my dog park friend Sherri, the mom of Patsy's chum, Ace.

There have been naughty puppy moments. And I expect there will be more.

'Cuz wearin' her out is still important.
But we're getting there.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Youth and Aging

Dear Kim,

Happy Birthday, Big Sister!

We made some great memories growing up together! I always looked up to you.  You were the prettiest, the wittiest and the most talented...

...and some things just never change. Today marks your 50th birthday, and I have watched you age with beauty, humor and flair.

Youth is the gift of nature, but age is the work of art!  

Happy 50th Birthday Kim!

Love, Bonnie Jo

Thoughts at 50

Dear Mom,

Today, I am 50 years old. I am not sure which of us is more stunned by this. Probably you, because you remember that actual day.

I have to admit that the past few days (okay, week) leading up to today have been more emotional than I expected them to be. Not the turbulence that was 30, but not the empowerment of 40,either.
It is not the gray hair and wrinkles. Those are just natural highlights and laugh lines. Except for that crease just to the midline of my right eyebrow. THAT is a knitting concentration line. No, what is bothersome is the reminder. My chronological 50 does not match my inner 19. And there is no denying that there are more days behind me than there are ahead of me. (Because honestly, I don't think I'd want to live to be 100.) There is so much I want to do. I urgently feel that I am running out of time.

And yet, I am thankful. I've been blessed with loving parents, a family, and dear friends. I have the privilege of celebrating 50 years when there are many deserving women/wives/mothers/sisters/daughters/friends who never got the chance.

So if I seem a little weepy today, it is not that I mourn the years behind me, but that I appreciate them.

The Best is Yet to Come.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It's a Wrap

Dear Mom,
Bonnie Jo's wrap was finished Sunday night and I traded it for some more Cranberry Cordial on Monday morning.
Bonnie Jo found the instructions for the wrap in a Mary Jane's Farm magazine. It is a very easy knit- just a rectangle with a buttonhole and 3 buttons, giving her the option of different looks. But if Bonnie Jo is wearing it over her jammies like I think she is, then it will probably get buttoned wherever she finds the first button.
I used up some Berroco Comfort worsted from my stash (yay!) which fit Bonnie's easy care requirement and which we discovered that Patsy really likes. I found some really good buttons at Hancock fabric, but I neglected to get a close up of them.
A new sweater design is on paper and my needles. I'll be really excited about this one if it turns out. Otherwise I'll be wasting alot of time and yarn.
You know what? The lighting in the pictures on this post is lousy. I NEED SUNSHINE!!! And not just for taking pictures.
 Merrilymarylee asked if I could figure out how to knit the scarf pictured in the header of this blog. 1/26- edited - use this link for a look at the twisty scarf) I really thought I could. I've failed. My last attempt ended up looking nothing like the scarf and more like a beginner's poor attempt at garter stitch using broom handles for needles. I even stopped a woman wearing a similar scarf at Family Bingo night and asked her if I could have a close look. And was promptly told by My Hero that "there is no knitting at Bingo night". So if anyone reading this knows of a pattern for a scarf like that, could they please let MerrilyMarylee and me know where to find it?

Eight more days til Groundhog Day.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Closing the door

Dear Mom,
I am extremely pleased to report that my recent window treatment chapter has a happy ending. I am done with the three whatever-you-call-ems on the porch door and the two roman shades for the windows in the family room.
They are up and functioning and while nothing about them was difficult, their unwieldy size and the weight of the fabric made this a bit of a workout. I bent 3 sewing machine needles and gunked up another one sewing on some velcro. My left arm is a little sore. I guess sewing muscles are different from dog walking and knitting  muscles.....  

Tragedy struck Friday afternoon when Mr. Dyson fell victim to a mysterious nervous condition and required hospitalization. I fear the never ending supply of dog hair was too much for him and he needed a little time in rehab. Fortunately he is still young, and his visit will be covered by Warranty. Mrs. Bissell, who tends to (and prefers) the lighter upstairs duty, has volunteered to take over his Mr. Dyson's responsibilities until he returns.


Friday, January 21, 2011


Dear Mom,
I did it.  I put my big girl pants on and got brave and opened an Etsy shop for my notecards. There is a link directly to the shop if you click on the etsy button over in the sidebar. For now, I am listing the notecards as a collection. I'm still considering whether or not to offer them individually.
It is bitterly cold out and Bumper still wants to go out every 15 minutes or so. At least last night he slept all night. I feel like I have a baby again. He is either getting a little addled in his old age or becoming that old man with prostate issues. Or both. But I don't even know if dogs have a prostate.
Patsy wants to be out there every time Bumper is, but her poor paws can't take the cold. She was skipping around on three legs I kept her in and bribed her with a rawhide chew the last time Bumper went out.
I've been knitting away on Bonnie Jo's wrap.
If you look verrry closely you will see a mistake. Don't worry. I fixed it.
It is a long boring stretch of garter stitch, but because it is a long boring stretch of garter stitch I can read while I knit and I finished one good book (Innocent by Scott Turow- the sequel to Presumed Innocent) and started another. This is one I've checked out of the library and need to finish. I am halfway through it and my good book streak continues. This one is A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George. It was her first and I am looking forward to reading them all. Mystery, so far nothing gruesome (even though I don't mind that at all), English countryside, great characters.
Unfortunately, Patsy likes the yarn I am using for the wrap. (Berroco Comfort- another stash buster)
Luckily, I have more than enough to finish the project, so Patsy can keep this ball of yarn.

Lots more going on here. Polska mittens see a few more rows added each day, I worked out the math and design for a new sweater and the seed for the scarf  that Merrilymarylee planted is germinating.
Bitter Bitter COLD on top of yesterday's snow meant the kids had a 2 hour delay this morning and I have errands to do. Family Bingo night tonight, too!
I'm off-

Monday, January 17, 2011

January's Socks

Dear Mom,
I've finished my January socks!

After finishing those, I pulled out one of the leftover yarn linen stitch scarf kits I made for myself and started working on that. I've also had a cardigan pattern brewing in my brain and did a little swatching and brainstorming on that yesterday afternoon. I love being productive!

A couple of weeks ago I talked with a local printer about having some of my photos turned into notecards and this morning I picked up my order. I am very happy with them.

Printed on white 80lb card stock, blank inside, featuring a variety of knitting related photos. I am entertaining the thought of opening an etsy shop and selling them. What do you think?

I need about 6 more hands. Merrilymarylee has given me an idea for a scarf design, and Bonnie Jo needs a wrap to wear in the morning- something to cover her shoulders with a button closure. I guess she got the idea from Golda. Marge and Gloria.


Saturday, January 15, 2011


Dear Mom,
Cast on February 22, 2009.
Completed January 14, 2011.
This is Veronik Avery's Notre Dame de Grace (scroll down) from Interweave Knits, Summer 2007.

Button from your button box.

I love the way the shoulder shaping and stitch pattern flow into the neck.

The only pattern changes I made were for personal fit. I lengthened the body by 2 inches and shortened the arms by the same amount.

Friday morning was spent much like Thursday morning. I returned some drapery shears (sheers?) I purchased out of desperation and 'just in case' I couldn't find anything better, returned library books, proofed some note cards I am having printed (more on that in another post), returned the fabric swatches and purchased the fabric I will need to make my window treatments, and returned some drapery hardware I purchased in another fabric store- again, another 'just in case' purchase even though they only had 3 of the needed 6. The reason I mention this, is that after making that return, I cheerfully said good bye to the ladies working there and somehow, not exactly sure how, Knitting was mentioned. (Okay. The word first came out of MY MOUTH. Big shock, that one.) I soon found myself giving an impromptu tutorial on double knitting (of which I have done only a minuscule amount) with slippery aluminum double pointed needles and sparkly acrylic yarn. Not that there is anything wrong with either the slippery needles or slippery yarn. I am not such a yarn snob that I can't acknowledge that there is a place for both. They are just not my favorite sort of knitting things. Up to that point my morning was clicking right along, and because I had taken Patsy to daycare I had an afternoon of laundry and spinning planned. If my life had a sound track I would have heard the screeching tire sound of car avoiding collision. I was happy to help, though, and if there is one thing common to knitters it is that we want to share the knitting love.
I did get home, perhaps a good hour later than I'd hoped, to find a Knit Picks package in the mailbox with the needles and yarn I ordered for my SpillyJane mittensAfter a short visit with my spinning wheel, and before finishing that sweater, I cast on the first mitten.

Those are the KnitPicks 6" double pointed needles, size 0. I have their Harmony wood interchangeable needles and love them. This is my first pair of their double points. I already have a set of bamboo size 0's, but they are 8" long and I find that length awkward. They get caught in my sleeves. Anyway, these new needles are wonderful. They are every bit as nice as my favorite set of rosewood sock needles. And the KnitPicks double points come in a set of SIX needles rather than the usual 4 or 5.
After all that activity away from home this week I desperately NEED to catch up here. And when I say need, I don't just mean that the house needs my attention. I also need to be Home.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Drapery Dilemma and a Sock

Dear Mom,
I have a headache. I just spent too much time away from home, which for most people wouldn't be much time away at all, but it seems that I have an approximate75 minute window before I start feeling edgy and want to get home -except when I am knitting with friends and then I totally lose track of time- and probably this means that everyday I take one step closer to being THAT lady who never leaves her house and is surrounded by wool and too many dogs. But today I was out searching for a window treatment solution for our triple wide porch door. And just like when we replaced the stove AND the refrigerator, it would seem that what "they" make and what I need are two entirely different things. My needs being way smaller than what is offered. With the stove installation, I channelled my dental hygiene skills and used my Dremel to cut the tile on the counter tops so we could slide the appliance into place. With the fridge we stopped shopping for features and started reading the fridge dimensions before we would even look at the thing. We had to push down some prejudices and purchase a Kenmore, the only brand - in fact the ONLY FRIDGE we could find that would fit.  And now it is window hardware. The windows on my doors are 21 inches wide and 67 inches long. A 25" rod is the max the doors can handle. Anything bigger and the rods will smack into each other when we USE the door. The smallest rods I find start at 28".
After searching too many places, I ended up having to special order the things. Without them I was stymied. I couldn't buy fabric without knowing whether I could even find the rods. I found rods in the right size at the fabric store but they only had 3 and I hated to buy them and HOPE that 3 more would come in. My headache is born of frustration.
I also made a few mistakes (when will I learn?) in my Porch Door window quest. One was getting input from My Hero (it might have been better to proceed and apologize)  and the second was to decide on what I wanted before I went to see if it was even out there. I wasn't finding it and losing hope. I envisioned a quilted fabric in a pretty pattern with navy or brick reds. All the quilted stuff I found belonged in a nursery or was a Vera Bradley wanna be and not something that belonged on my family room doors. I actually began to consider KNITTING a window treatment. That is how far gone I was. Plus I was feeling that Panicky Fringe starting to squeeze on me- guilt over leaving the dogs so long, pressure about the housework I wasn't getting done while I kept staring at the same fabrics and the same drapery rods hoping that something would jump out that I had missed during the first 45 minutes I had been looking. And mad at myself for feeling that way and always trying to do things myself and save money yaddayadda blahblahblah. I bought a knitting magazine, some ribbons, two pillow forms and I left.
HOWEVER! When I walked in to the Drapery/Upholstery Fabric store and asked about the rods, and which is where I ended up placing my order for them, I found the quilted fabric I was imagining and in a color/design I think will be perfect. !!!!!  No doubt the ladies who work there think I don't have enough thread wound on my spool, because my relief at finding what I had envisioned made it impossible to contain my enthusiasm.
And Now I Am Home, and the fabric sample I got is gonna be just right. I'll head back there tomorrow to make my purchase, get the sewing done and when the rods arrive we can get them hung and put this episode behind me.

Yesterday I finished the first January sock. Right on schedule. I even started its brother, but I did not do anymore knitting on the second sleeve of The Sweater that Kim Forgot. I'll get to that tonight.

It's not too often that I get a really good picture of either dog. Bumper is very camera shy and Patsy is, well, too happy to be still most of the time. So, when I get one this good I am compelled to share it.

a tired dog is a good dog

And finally, Primrose is published  and can be found on ravelry and on the Warm Thoughts blog.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A little spinning

Dear Mom,
Sunday was open spin at Tabby Tree and I was able to get away for a couple of hours. I decided to spin up some of the wool I dyed in the workshop there last spring. I didn't get much done while I was there, but I am loving what I've done so far.
Last night I finished knitting the first sleeve of the Sweater that Kim Forgot and I'll get onto that second sleeve tonight! Looks like I just might have a new sweater by the weekend. If I weren't so excited about getting this sweater done I would sit and spin the rest of that roving.

And finally, one of those times I wish I had my camera...
Patsy as we all know, is the Alpha Gal. First one in, first one out, first one fed, etc. Part of Patsy's training regimen has her on her leash at all times for 4 months. We can have a "goodbye leash" party on March 9. The only times Patsy is separated from her leash is when she is crated. So inside, outside, all around the house, Patsy trots and leash follows. We have a small leash wardrobe for her now so that they can be cleaned. Aaannnnyyyway. Patsy always races to be first out the door and through the dog door, and Bumper just goes with the flow. He follows her out and being a gentleman, lets her be the first through the door on the way in. This morning when I heard the tell tale tapping that they were awaiting entry I briskly walked to the door, opened it and....nothing. They were both standing there, but nobody moved. Patsy did not enter, and good ole Bumper stood there. Waiting. "Come on" I chirped. Nothing. "Come!" I commanded. It is cold. It is snowing. We do not need to let cold air in and heat out. Still nothing. And then I see it. Bumper is standing on Patsy's leash. She cannot move unless he moves and he will not move until she does. This is, in more ways than I care to think, a pretty good summary of  my days. I grabbed the leash, tugged it free from under Bumper's paw and in they came.


Monday, January 10, 2011


Dear Mom,
The Yarn Harlot's  post last Friday gave me an infection. It's like she sneezed SpillyJane all over me. Before last Friday afternoon I had never heard of SpillyJane. But before the kids got off the bus I had downloaded 5 mitten patterns and ordered enough Knitpicks yarn and the size 0 double points to make them all. I couldn't resist. I think if you go take a look at her etsy shop or at her ravelry page you will see why. I have the patterns for Heather's Mitts (Shamrocks!), Carrots and Beets mittens, Cupcake mittens, Isidora mittens and the Polska mittens right here in front of me.
And I was hoping to knit only from my stash for awhile.
I'll still do that, though. It does feel good to use what is on hand rather than add to the load.
And speaking of knitting from the stash...
The poor Abandoned-for-Two-Years Sweater is so happy to have fresh air that she is being extremely cooperative and pleasant to knit. The Front and Back are finished, shoulders united and neckband complete.I just love this neck and couldn't wait to see it put together.
the actual color is more rust than orange
I found an excellent button in your button box yesterday and the first sleeve is about 1/2 way done. I imagine I should have this finished before the end of the week.
In the meantime, I've started writing up the pattern for Primrose and should have that ready soon. Sooner if I get off the blog and back to work.


Friday, January 7, 2011

A busy week and a really good soup recipe

Dear Mom,
It has been a busy, satisfying, productive week with the kiddos back in school. The house is pretty much back in order. I've managed to stay very organized, cook good meals, knit a bunch and take action on some ideas I've had brewing in this busy brain of mine.
I sold a record number (for me) of patterns to 2 local yarn shops, and let me just stop right here and say I love the ladies at the Village Yarn Shop.
I published two new patterns. They can be found here and on the Warm Thoughts blog.
After finishing my Daybreak scarf, I experienced a knitting.....fog... I guess that would describe it. I wasn't sure what to knit next. I have plenty of ideas, but couldn't get excited about any of them. I went back into the yarn/guest room (which had been recently purged and re-organized) and rediscovered a sweater that, when I looked back at my ravelry project page, I started in February 2009. I do not know why I set it aside. Possibly for a magazine deadline. I don't know if is scarier that I started it and let it languish for almost 2 years, or that I clearly remember buying the yarn and starting the sweater like it was 2 weeks ago. I would never have guessed that it had been in standby for so long. I hope I can finish it before its second birthday!

I have some random thoughts and things to share that will never fit into any one blog, so I am going to share them all here, all at once.
Books. I have had the absolute pleasure of reading some really good books lately. The bad thing about a really good book is the let down when it is finished and then the scramble to find another book that is just as good. Well, I've been on a streak. These books have nothing in common with each other, other than the fact that I like them.
The first took me months to read. Not because it is 900+ pages, but because I read at night before I go to sleep and some nights I only read about a page before I fall asleep. It is the new book by Ken Follett, Fall of Giants. This is the first of a trilogy, so we have more good books to look forward to! I have never been dissappointed by a Ken Follett book. The trilogy will cover the 20th century, following the lives of several families from the UK, Russia, Germany and the USA. I'll say no more.
I finished this next book last night. It is the second Flavia De Luce mystery, written by Alan Bradley. Flavia is our 11 year old heroine and the books are set in the 1950's, English countryside. I am charmed by Flavia, her spirit and her love of chemistry!! These are not scary mysteries and they are not bloody or gruesome, so they wouldn't give you bad dreams or anything. Just good entertainment. The first is The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and the next (and the one I finished last night) is The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag.

Why I feel compelled to share this next bit of info with you I am not sure, except that these are two things in life that give me a disproportionate amount of joy.

#1. Dog paws.
I love them.

#2. The sound of a dog sniffing something thoroughly. Like they can't get enough of whatever it is they smell.
Like a sniffly giggle.

After that, do I dare give you a recipe?

I made this soup last night, and it may very well be the best ham and bean soup I've ever tasted. It'll be even better today after all those flavors have blended.
It is not complicated or fancy. I am just not that kind of cook. But is is GOOD. Served with a spongey, fresh white bread to clean up the bowl and it is heaven. Especially on a snowy day like today.

The Best Ham and Bean Soup I've Ever Tasted
makes a bunch

1 1/2 cups dry mixed beans ( I used Hurst's 15 bean soup beans, but didn't use the seasoning packet)
5 cups water
1 meaty ham bone
1 cup chopped celery  
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onions
( confession- I did not measure the celery, carrots and onions. I used 3 carrots, 3/4 of an onion, and about a 4 inch section of a whole celery bunch and chopped them all up really fine)
2 cups water
1 t. salt
1/2 t pepper
1/2 t dried basil
1/2 t dried oregano
1/2 t dried thyme
1 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes ( I used a pint of the tomatoes I canned from the garden and put them in the blender)

Combine the beans, 5 cups water and ham bone in a soup pot. Bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let them sit for 1 hour.
In another saucepan, combine the celery, onions, and carrots with 2 cups water and cook until soft.(About 20-25 minutes) Mash slightly. ( I gave them a quirk burst in the blender.)
Combine all ingredients in a crockpot. Cover and cook on High for 2 hours then on low for 2 hours.