Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Brown Sugar Cinnamon

This is the best syrup. I have to say it's going to replace my tried and true Hazelnut. :) It's like Starbuck's Cinnamon Dolce.

The bag is lined

I used a stiff interface to line the bag. I traced the bottom of the popcorn can onto the interface. Then I traced the bag shells onto the interface and cut it out.

Then I put the interface in the bag to see if it fit. It didn't. So I pinned the interface and retraced.
Here's same setup at a different angle. Retracing:
I cut it out and used Wonder Under to fasten the fabric to the interfacing. I thought I bought single sided facing, but when I ironed, the fabric wasn't sticking. Wonder Under worked great. I cut the fabric so it would have a nice over lap. I had to cut slits in the areas of the shells in order to get the fabric to cover them.
Unfortunately, I didn't get photo's of the bag as I sewed it. I winged the whole thing and had to pull out a couple of seams before I was happy with the result.
I sewed around the shells to tack down the overlapping fabric. I then took the bottom circle, and with the right sides facing each other, sewed the bottom circle to the bottom of the side stabilizer (the shell piece). I then sewed up the sides and ironed them flat. I then had the liner done and ended up hand stitching the top into the bottom of the shells.Here's the inside of the bag.
And a photo of the bottom. Okay. So I didn't do the internal zipper pouch. My sewing skills aren't that great and I really wanted to see if I could finish this nicely. I guess I don't want it to look TOO homemade. Does that make sense?See how nicely it stands up on its own?
Next: sew in a zipper. I bought a 12-inch zipper, but it needs a 15-inch one. I'll go and swap it out later on this week.

Reviewed: "To Ruin a Queen" by Fiona Buckley

Okay, I have to admit, Ms. Buckley's novels aren't super literary, but they have been fun to read. I like the proper feel to this series.

In the third book, Ursula ended up going to live in France with her Catholic husband, and that is where we find her. We find her delivering a baby - which was a difficult delivery. The doctor went to Matthew to ask who he should save, Ursula or the baby. Meanwhile, Ursula was terrified and kept screaming that she wanted to live. It was a wake up call to Ms. de la Roche (which is Ursula's new married name) showing just how powerless a woman is in the Elizabethan age.

Ursula's daughter Meg turned up missing in England, which sent Ursula back to search for her. Of course it was a ploy to get Ursula back to England to be pressed into service of the queen - another plot to unseat the queen has popped up - Ursula was asked for personally by a distant kinswoman (the terminology rubs off on you) to help sniff it out.

Of course Ursula solves it and receives property in England for her troubles - Mathew's old home. But Ursula can't return home - plague has broken out in France and he does not wish to put her or her daughter in peril.

I liked this story, but the series is starting to fall into a pattern. Ursula goes to spy on someone under protest. She finds out the plot. She gets caught or is put in peril. She gets out of the situation and solves the crime/plot.

I'll probably read the rest of the books in the series as they go quickly and I like Ursula.

It's important that I like the protagonist.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I pulled the trigger

I tossed the bag in the wash this morning and washed it once. That was all it needed. Lamb's Pride felts very nicely. Here's the bag straight from the washing machine. I was concerned about felting it because I didn't want to lose stitch definition. As you can see here, the stitch definition is fuzzy, but it's not gone.
I am using a popcorn can to block the bag.

I covered it with a kitchen trash bag because I don't want it to rust while drying.

I love how the double knit felted up. The sides stayed straight (my girly satchel handle curled and I was never able to get them out. The double knit looks and feels SO much better.

Here's the bag once I stretched it to dry.

Here's the bottom of the bag. I think this may be the whole reason why I knitted this project. It's just so beautiful and looks even better while blocking.I decided to use the hardware off my current bag and knitted a garter tab to attach the handles.

I ran to Joann's last night and used my 40% off coupons for this material. I think it matches nicely. The blues have more purple in them than I realized.I love this bag.

Monday, August 27, 2007

M Sings Hannah Montana

Gonzo left

Alberto Gonzales just resigned and I find it so interesting. It's just hard to determine where the whole story will go from here. Why did he leave?

David Iglesias made an interesting comment on NPR today. (I'm paraphrasing) He said that he hopes future AG's will be strong enough to tell the president when a program is illegal (In other words, strong enough to tell him/her no).

Primaries are coming faster than you think

I'm in Texas and our primaries are coming up in January. I still don't know who to vote for, so I took one of those silly online polls. Here's my final four:

1. Dennis Kucinich (82 %)
2. Barack Obama (77 %)
3. Alan Augustson (campaign suspended) (72 %)
4. Joseph Biden (70 %)

I'm just not thrilled at the list.

Who in their right mind would want to be president at this time, anyway? Bush's legacy is just awful and I just don't have any candidates telling me that they can fix the mess.

I heard a good bit on NPR the other day with a former adviser, David Gergens. He was really good and outlined all the obsticals the next president will be faced with. It was a very good assesement, but none of the candidates have addressed any of the points presented.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Reviewed: "The Doublet Affair" by Fiona Buckley

This is the second book in Ms. Buckley's Mistress Blanchard series and the third one I've read.

This book shows how Ursula becomes a trained spy - which was something I didn't understand by reading the third book ahead of this one. The first book, Ursula was a desperate widow trying to make the best of a bad situation. The third book, she's being sent off as a deliberate spy - complete with lock picks and a dagger hidden in the folds of her skirt.

I liked this story in that Ursula is starting to embrace spying and shows a real knack for it. She was able to sniff out the mystery - but her actions yielded consequences. She finally understands the serious business of her new lot in life.

Well done. I'm enjoying Ms. Buckley's Ursula series. I've just started reading #4.

Friday, August 24, 2007

19th Amendment

August 18th was the 87th anniversary of the signing of the 19th Amendment.

Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be
denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by
appropriate legislation.

As a kid, I found it fascinating that girls couldn't do what boys could do historically. I learned about the 19th amendment from School House Rock (Sufferin' till Suffrage - warning, music starts up when you click that link). I also knew that my Grandmother was alive in a time when her mother wasn't able to vote. Amazing.

Even more amazing is how cavalier some modern day women are towards voting in America.

If you want to know more about the struggle, I suggest you watch a great movie done by Ken Burns, Not For Ourselves Alone. It's about Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony.

Strap it is

Okay. I finally decided on what I want to do for the handle. I started on a double i-cord handle, but it just wasn't as wide as I wanted it to be, and it was going SLOW.

My friend, MA, had suggested knitting a double knit strap and felt it. I never have done double knitting, but once I cast on, it was a snap. It's also very quick, too.

I haven't felted the bag yet. I'm thinking I'm going to knit some tabs and connect some metal rings on them. I've seen some neat clasps that are like hooks. I'll attach the hooks at the ends of the strap. Maybe it will make the bag look less home made.

I will also need to stop by my local Joann's to pick up some interfacing, liner fabric, and a couple of zippers for the lining of the bag. I'm just waiting on getting some coupons so I can do it on the cheap.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

M's first day - the aftermath

I think M's first day of school just plum wore her out.

She's holding on to a large Googly ball. I said she won it in our local library summer reading program (I had to buy it for her on the QT as she didn't win anything in the drawing - I just don't want to discourage her reading progress right now.)

It was a good buy. She's thrilled with it and, as you can see here, carries it around everywhere she tries to get away with it. She's also very proud telling people that she won it for reading 35 books over the summer.

NOTE ADDED: The ball shown in the photo above is a "Massive Googly Ball" and I bought it at my local grocery store. The library had some on display as prizes for the summer reading program (SRP). M wanted one SO bad. Since she didn't win anything from the SRP, I bought this instead.

Now that someone has asked for a pattern, I can easily see a felted modification of Jess Hutch's Spherey become a knitted "googly" ball. . .


Bag is finished - sort of

I have to decide whether I want a knitted i-cord handle or if I want to buy some them.

I like long handles on my purses 'cause I like to wear my purses across my body, but I also like the way professional handles look.

I need to felt this and am going to borrow a popcorn can from my friend so I can shape it.

I'm getting excited! I will also line this and put in a zipper. I need a zipper for my stuff because I tend to spill everything in my purse if it's not zipped up.
I also want to try to put in a small side pocket. I saw a tut that shows how to do one and want to try it.

I love Herman Miller

We bought two Aeron chairs in 2001. They aren't cheap, but they're SO worth it!

My chair has broken catostrophically three times over the course of the past six years and Herman Miller has fixed the chair all three times without cost to me.

That is SO worth the price I paid initially and the warranty is still good for another six years.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bag almost done

Here's the bag in it's side: From the bottom (this is really pretty):
The photo's make it look much more purply than it is. I need to pick up stitches along the top and knit an I-cord border. Then I need to knit a handle. One of the ladies from SnB told me about the double I-cord and I think I'll knit one long handle so I can sling the bag across my body. I will also need to line the thing.

First day of school

Well, summer is officially over. M started school today and she was SO ready! For the past two weeks she kept asking me when was she going to be able to go to her learning school (we had her in the local Kindercare this summer). She was up at 5 am this morning and dressed shortly after.

Yay! School's in!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Reviewed: "Queen's Ransom" by Fiona Buckley

This is the third in the Ursula Blanchard series. I skipped the second one because it was misplaced in my local library. I'm now reading it.

This story was pretty good. Ursula was dispatched to France to be a female chaperone to her former father-in-law's new ward. France is on the brink of sectarian violence and the party is trying to get the girl and go home. Ursula was also sent to meet France's Queen regent. While there, the queen held Ursula's maid as a heretic. Ursula negotiated a ransom with the queen and set off to Antwerp where her dead husband had squirreled away a small fortune.

Of course there are foiled traps. I like this Ursula as she's resigned to help out her maid.

My biggest problem with the story is the ending. (SPOILER ALERT!) Ursula goes back to her husband to live in France as a heretic. She leaves her daughter Meg in England. The ending seemed very tacked on and not well done. I don't know where the story can go from this book, but apparently it does go on.

Olive Wars!

Another New Game

11 3/4 Rows

There are 14 rows total, so I'm really close to finishing this up.

Friday, August 17, 2007

M, a new reader

My daughter is reading really well for a five year old - and I'm so proud. She's now reading books to me that I used to read to her. I think the proudest moment was when she finished reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish to me. The look on her face was priceless.

But I have to say that getting her to read takes a little bribing. I love the local libraries and am SO glad they did an outstanding job on the summer reading programs this year. Southlake really pulled out all the stops. M would get excited whenever she reached a goal.

"Mom, let's go to the library!" she'd say excitedly.

She has improved so much over the summer. I don't know how we're going to keep her reading in the fall. Hopefully she'll get a great boost from when she goes to school. She's going to be assigned a reading buddy (one of the older kids at school) - she's very excited as she wanted one last year.

M is also going through a little stress right now with school starting next Wednesday. Some of her friends from last year aren't going to the same school as she's going to and it's a source of stress. She's also not too sure about meeting new friends and saying good bye to summer friends.

We're also going to try something different this year - no day care. M is getting pretty self sufficient. When she hit one, we had to move her out of the house because I couldn't get anything done. Now, she goes and plays on her computer.

She's also expressed an interest in going back to swim school. She had a little water scare over Memorial Day while I was in the hospital and hasn't gotten her sea legs back yet. We need to get her comfortable in the water again as we've got two great vacations coming up - both with trips to beaches.

6 1/2 Rows

It's taking about an hour to do each shell - that includes weaving in the ends as I go. I need to make two and a half more full shell rows before I start doing the decreased bottom. One of my Periwinkle (the lighter blue) skeins is done (I was able to get 6 rows done). I'm a little worried that I'm going to run out. It seems as though I have plenty of the black left over. I suspect most of the black will go into the handles.

It's looking very pretty.

Monday, August 13, 2007

2007 Reviewed Book List

  1. Wildseed by Octavia Butler
  2. The Siren Queen by Fiona Buckley
  3. Dexter in the Dark by Jeff Lindsay
  4. Belladonna by Anne Bishop
  5. The Fugitive Queen by Fiona Buckley
  6. A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
  7. An Ice Cold Grave by Charlaine Harris
  8. A Pawn for a Queen by Fiona Buckley
  9. The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery Deaver
  10. Here, There & Everywhere by Chris Roberson
  11. The Harlequin by Laurel K. Hamilton
  12. The Wheel of Darkness by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
  13. Queen of Ambition by Fiona Buckley
  14. To Ruin a Queen by Fiona Buckley
  15. The Doublet Affair by Fiona Buckley
  16. Queen's Ransom by Fiona Buckley
  17. To Shield the Queen by Fiona Buckley
  18. Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham
  19. The Loved Ones by Evelyn Waugh
  20. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
  21. Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson
  22. Imago by Octavia Butler
  23. Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler
  24. Dawn by Octavia Butler
  25. Kushiel's Justice by Jacqueline Carey
  26. Grave Surprise by Charlaine Harris
  27. All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris
  28. Sebastian by Anne Bishop
  29. Esau by Philip Kerr
  30. Daemon by Leinad Zeraus
  31. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
  32. Friday Night Knit Club by Kate Jacobs

FWIW, I'm trying to see if I can read 50 books in one year. This list started in April of last year.

I'll start a new one for 2008.

4 1/2 Rows Done

Here's the progress on my latest WIP: Bar Harbor Bag

This is what 5 rows looks like from one side:

Here's the other side.

I will felt this. There are too many ends threaded and I'm afraid they'd come apart with wear. Felting them will lock the ends down.
It's taken some time, but I've finally got the shell pattern memorized.
I have to knit 13 rows before I start doing the decrease rows. There's a lot of work to this pattern.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Update: Bar Harbor Bag

I've knitted all six of the upper shells, now I'm in the process of knitting the second row.

I got a little cocky while knitting this and ended up picking up stitches wrong. I did this THREE times!

I've also decided that I'm definitely going to felt this purse. I may knit two more rounds to make it a little deeper. I just don't know, yet.

If I had to do it all over again, I wish I bought the bulky instead of worsted. I think it'd make the bag a little more substantial.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Post Script on the Sleepy Snake

The Sleepy Snake was a gift for my 4 year old nephew, B. We sent it to him in the mail, but didn't tell my BIL about the mouse located within the snake. They all thought the pink thing sticking out of it's mouth was it's tongue. My MIL, who had seen my blog with the photos of the mouse, asked if B liked the mouse, too.


The toy took on a whole new dimension when B discovered that the snake can eat things. He also had a great time playing with just the mouse. I had made a mouse before, but it was TOO big for the snake to eat. I think I'll finish knitting the ears and send it on.

According to my BIL, the snake has eaten a LOT of different things! Squee!

I'm crazy

I have a couple of other projects on the needles. So what do I do? I cast on for YET another project last night. This time, it's for me.
My current purse is starting to fall apart, so I'm very motivated to get a new one. Since I've knitted some pretty spectacular one's in the past, I decided to knit one for myself.

Here's my first completed shell:

I initially decided that I didn't want to felt this one. After knitting the first shell, however, I'm going to felt it. I like the structure felting gives to the purse.

FO-Pi Topper Chemo Hat #3

Pattern: Pi Topper Chemo Cap
Yarn: Esprit Fresh Pesto (5606) and a skein of Filatura Di Crosa Ananas (111) .
Needles: US Size 7

For: Meg. I need to make another purple one as I gave the other one away to someone else over the weekend.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Brats Homecoming

I grew up as an Air Force Brat and moved around quite a bit as a kid. This weekend I attended a "Overseas Brats Homecoming" that was held in the D/FW Hyatt. I wasn't really looking forward to it. My sister has a friend who said that she was going to come to it and my sis didn't want to go to this event alone. So, we signed up for it months ago. The friend never showed and we were on our own.

High school was not something I look back on fondly. I attended 4 different high schools and just wanted the hell out. I have fond memories of Junior High. We were in Baumholder Germany for three years (7th, 8th & 9th grades), so it was a very good stable time for me.

By the time we moved to Naples Italy, which is where I graduated from high school, I was just burned out on typical High School BS. My senior year, I had an Italian boyfriend who had a car. Much of my time in school was spent waiting until school let out so I could go hang out with him and his family. Lunch time, for me, was spent hiding in my Physics teacher's room reading a book and eating a packed lunch.

So I wasn't really looking forward to this weekend. We didn't know anyone.

But you know what, my sis and I had a great time. If anything, it was a great time spent with my sis. She lives in Valley Ranch, which is fairly close by, but life gets in the way and we just don't get to see each other that much.

The other thing that was a little uncomfortable was what to do at the homecoming. Well, the organizers had several hospitality suites set up and everyone hung out in each suite. We visited the Italian suite and the folks there had old year books and photos of Naples. There were several folks there who graduated in 1981. They were a lot of fun and we had similar memories and shared teachers. They also had Italian beer, wine, and espresso.

We also went to the German hospitality suite. The lady who runs (which is located here in Southlake) had come up the night before and brought a ton of candy. So their suite was the candy suite. I ended up meeting up with a guy who was in Baumholder when I was there. He was in the grade ahead of me. He had done an incredible job of keeping up with former students. I was amazed. I also met up with my seventh grade English teacher - Mr. Hobbs (H-O-B-B-S). We were his first seventh grade class he'd ever taught as he liked teaching the seniors. It was great meeting him again and just reminded me how much I loved his class and him, too. Turns out he's retired to Tyler. I hope to keep in contact with him as we weren't really able to visit as well as I had wanted to do. We had another guy there who had graduated in 1982. He was very difficult to talk around and my sister and I were amazed that we were as polite to him as we were. He was very closed minded and would make derogatory remarks towards gays (we had several gay teachers overseas, but it was never an issue). He was also very religious and made derogatory remarks toward some of the teachers who taught all those years ago. We were very tolerant of him as we really didn't want to offend him. It would have been nice to be able to talk to Mr. Hobbs without the gentleman there, but alas. . . we couldn't.

It was fun to go. I was surprised at how much fun it was.

Visiting Europe is nice, but living there is a totally different experience. I have, over the years, actively not thought about it because the feelings it brings up sometimes is similar to grieving. I will never live over there and give those experiences to my family. It's difficult to explain, but the people I met at the Homecoming know it all too well.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Cast on for new project

I haven't been finishing stuff up as quickly as I usually do, and I think that's because I've been working on larger projects.

The Mystery Stole #3 is taking some time. I'm still on clue 3 (she's posted 4 and getting ready to post the fifth). I've slowed down on knitting it. It's not something I can work on without real concentration.

I also cast on for a cardigan for me. It's the Cardigan for Arwen pattern from Interweave Fall 2006 and I'm knitting it with cheapo Lion Brand Pound of Love. I would like a sweater that's machine wash/dry proof.

It's actually knitting up quite nicely:

I had some trouble reading the chart the first 8 rows (as you can see on the left side of the photo), so I wrote out the instructions on the index card thingy. It's working quite nicely and helps me keep my place. I also cast on to knit the whole cardigan instead of knitting it in panels. We'll see how well that goes. :)

FO-Pi Topper Chemo Hat

Pattern: Pi Topper Chemo Cap
Yarn: Esprit (6287 African Violet)
Needles: US Size 7

For: My MIL visited her old neighbors in Hot Springs last weekend. Unfortunately, the wife is suffering from breast cancer. She's the one I knitted the chemo hat/PICC sleeve earlier and I found out that the hat I knitted was her favorite.
So, I've decided to knit her a couple more. It's a little thing for me, but I feel this is what I can do to contribute to her recovery.

Thoughts on pattern: I love knitting this. It's knitted in the round and goes really quickly. I also like how the brim is made. It's really clever as it becomes a garter border.