Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday Thoughts

Mittens for Akkol, pair 6 and 7I'm still knitting nothing but mittens for the CIC_Knit List December mitten challenge. This is pair six and seven.

Mittens are a wonderful way to use up my Lopi, Lamb's Pride Bulky, and other bulky yarn odds and ends. The top pair is Lamb's Pride bulky, the bottom pair is bulky alpaca, Knitpicks Decadence.

The alpaca was a pleasant relief for my hands, but I think the Lopi/Lamb's Pride is more practical for the kids in Kazakhstan who have very long winters with temps down to forty below zero.

Pair eight, a Lamb's Pride Bulky, is on the needles. My goal is ten pair by Saturday evening. Then I'm done with mittens and back to ribbing.

Weather Report
After a beautiful week of unseasonal warmth, winter is reappearing today. The temp is dropping, dropping, dropping, and the forecast for tonight, tomorrow, and the weekend is freezing ice and snow. I hope it holds off until Pappy and I get home from doggy school.

The cupboard is full. And, most importantly, we have plenty of dog food. It should be a great weekend for knitting as long as the power stays on.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Blogiversary Questions - Dogs

There are still dozens of blogiversary questions left to answer. I have them divided up by topic and plan to answer all of them eventually.

Topics left on the list include:
  • Dogs
  • CIC
  • General knitting questions (2 or 3 posts worth)
  • Design related knitting questions
  • Granddaughters
  • Photography
  • Birds
  • Blogging
  • And the ever useful category, Miscellaneous

Today, the topic is Dogs.

Rebekah who blogs at Knit Knack asked . . .
I'd like to know how you and your pups came together, how old are they.
Glory is 10, Pappy is around 8 or maybe older, Sunny is 5.

All three are rescue dogs. There is a post here telling their rescue stories.

Connie who blogs at Between Loads asked . . .
How big of a parcel of land do you have - I am thinking of the number of dogs you have. We have about 1 acre with 1 dog. Yard cleanup after the dogs must be fun.
Glory walking on one of the dog paths on the back three acresThere is a day, usually in March, when the snow melts and dog owners face more poop in their yard than they ever imagined could accumulate over one winter.

I've heard that the best technique is to put on rubber gloves and pick it up while it's still frozen. Fortunately, we don't need to participate in the fun of Annual Poop Pickup Day.

Why? Because we dress up warm and take the dogs out for walks in the back three acre field all winter - morning, noon, afternoon, evening, and sometimes in between.

Bob has mowed walking paths through the weeds natural growth and the dogs love walking out there in a field full of rabbits, rodents, and other wildlife.

Pappy and Sunny like to wander off the path to leave their little piles. Glory, the big dog, does even better. She goes way off into the woods to get some privacy.

Susan Z. asked . . .
Did your involvement with Papillons begin with an interest in the breed or did you get interested in the breed after getting to know them?
It was a total accident.

Papillons are not common or well known in SW Michigan. We didn't know anything about the breed until we saw little Sunny on Petfinder listed as a Terrier/Papillon. I had to Google Papillon to see what the breed was about.

Papillons are wonderful little dogs. Very intelligent, eager to please, easy to train, loving, and full of personality. Perfect for older people. I'm hooked on the breed.

Kristin who blogs at Yarn and Order asked . . .
I know you're not supposed to play favorites, but is there one dog you feel a particular connection to and why?
Glory is Bob's dog. I'm very fond of her and involved in her care, but she loves Bob the best.

Between the two little dogs, I could never pick a favorite. And they don't either. They are bonded to Bob and me equally and don't like it when either member of their family is missing.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mittens - Five Pair Done

Knit Unto Others KAL button

Purchases from Handweavers Inspiring Yarn ShopAs a little side trip while doing the final Thanksgiving grocery shopping last Tuesday, I stopped by the Handweaver's Inspiring Yarn Shop to pick up a few necessities for Knit Unto Others CIC_Knit List mittens.

My main goal was to pick up some #4 double points to replace a set where one needle dropped into the baseboard radiator. I'll get the lost needle back someday, but taking the house apart was more effort than I wanted to go through right now.

Once at the yarn shop, I realized I really did need some yarn.

The Lamb's Pride Bulky in neutral dark gray is needed to mix with leftover partial balls of Lopi and Lamb's Pride in various colors that don't work well together. Now I can knit many pair of gray and some-pretty-color mittens, hopefully using up my little odds and ends.

The blue variegated is Naturally Nazareth, an Aran weight wool by Kraemer Yarns. I needed it . . . well, I'm not sure why I needed it. It just jumped in my basket and said it wanted to be mittens for the kids.

First five pair of mittens for the mitten challengeWith eight Knit Unto Others days down and six Knit Unto Others days to go, I have used some of everything I bought and produced five pair of mittens.

The pattern is mostly Jean's No Swatch, No Gauge Mittens for Kids.

The two red pair in the top row are knit with Firecracker Heather Wool of the Andes from Knitpicks and my new #4 bamboo needles.

The large gray and pink pair are knit with leftover pink Lopi and my new Lamb's Pride Gray on #7 double points. A rather tight knit. By the time they're washed, they will be windproof and super warm.

There is no more leftover pink Lopi in my stash. In fact, I had to top the thumbs with gray to finish the pair.

The green pair are knit with leftover Lopi.

The Kraemer Yarn got its wish to become mittens. They are knit with #5 double points and I have plenty left for a second pair.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sky and Meme Explanations

Clear, blue Saturday Sky for November 25, 2006It's a clear, crisp, late autumn day in SW Michigan.

I admit it. I can't stand it. I'm a logical person who is bothered by the one word answers from yesterday's meme.

So now, in order to quiet my feelings of inadequate communication, I am going to elaborate on most of my answers.

1. Yourself: Stuffed (With leftover Thanksgiving food. Yum.)
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): Stuffed (Same)
3. Your hair: Natural (Chestnut brown with about 70% white.)
4. Your mother: Courageous (The stories are hers so I won't try to explain.)
5. Your Father: Handsome (He died a young man when I was 20.)
6. Your Favorite Item: Laptop (I love my new HP 17" Pavilion so much that I don't regret spending the money on it.)
7. Your dream last night: Vivid (I'm wondering if I should take my vitamin B in the morning instead of the evening.)
8. Your Favorite drink: Aquafina (Also coffee and blackberry brandy.)
9. Your Dream Car: Clean (As long as I live on this dirt road, it's only going to be a dream.)
10. The room you are in: Living (Which is more like a computer room. Bob has his desk and desktop computer here and I have my laptop wired up on the loveseat.)
11. Your Ex: Tragic (The sadness of his death in June still sits heavy on my heart.)
12. Your fear: Osteoporosis (I inherited this through my paternal genes and am taking caustic meds to attempt to slow it down. Please don't give me medical advice - I have plenty.)
13. What you want to be in 10 years? Healthy
14. Who you hung out with last night? Bob
15. What You're Not: Extrovert (Being an introvert is not the same as being shy. Someday I'll write a blog post about this.)
16. Muffins: Poppyseed (Maybe because I think of them as wicked. The company where I formerly worked would not sell them on days when there was going to be drug testing. They are yummy, but watch out for those lingering seeds in the teeth.)
17. One of Your Wish List Items: Yarn (For a few big kid CIC sweaters.)
18. Time: Flies (A 40 year old friend told me that every time she turns around it's either the 4th of July or Christmas. At my age it's always Christmas.)
19. The Last Thing You Did: Ate (And contemplated my Thanksgiving dietary sins. They were many.)
20. What You Are Wearing: Jeans (Plus a sweatshirt and handknit socks - perfect winter wear for SW Michigan.)
21. Your Favorite Weather: Mild (About 70 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze.)
22. Your Favorite Book: Bible
23. The Last Thing You Ate: Greendream
24. Your Life: Settled
25. Your Mood: Thankful (A special thanks for our wonderful interim pastor Tibs who has yet to preach a sermon that didn't change my heart for the better.)
26. Your best friend: Knits (This does not mean knits (noun) are my best friend. My best friend knits (verb), along with many other things.)
27. What are you thinking about right now? Knitting (Well, this is a knitting blog. I haven't forgotten. Soon I'll post about yarn and knitting mittens.)
28. Your car: Dirty (See #9)
29. What are you doing at the moment? Sitting (On the loveseat with a little dog cuddled up on each side of me and my laptop on my lap.)
30. Your summer: Enjoyed (Except for Mom's broken arm. It's almost all better now and her hand is strong enough to drive now.)
31. Your relationship status: Team (Married 31 years.)
32. What is on your TV? Dust (We don't watch TV.)
33. What is the weather like? Sunny (Same as today. See picture at beginning of post.)
34. When is the last time you laughed? Today (The three dogs and Bob are all good for several laughs a day. I'm blessed.)
35. Who do you tag? Whoever.

There. I feel better now.

I think I'll skip one word memes from now on.

Friday, November 24, 2006

One Word Meme

I've been seeing this on many blogs and I finally swiped it from Lisa at A Little Bit of Knit.

Since answers can only be one word, it's an exercise in imagination for the reader. I've found it a bit frustrating when reading answers on other blogs. I WANT TO KNOW MORE!

But it's fun and a great post-Thankgiving post for those of us who are too full to think, so here goes. . .


1. Yourself: Stuffed
2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend (spouse): Stuffed
3. Your hair: Natural
4. Your mother: Courageous
5. Your Father: Handsome
6. Your Favorite Item: Laptop
7. Your dream last night: Vivid
8. Your Favorite drink: Aquafina
9. Your Dream Car: Clean
10. The room you are in: Living
11. Your Ex: Tragic
12. Your fear: Osteoporosis
13. What you want to be in 10 years? Healthy
14. Who you hung out with last night? Bob
15. What You're Not: Extrovert
16. Muffins: Poppyseed
17. One of Your Wish List Items: Yarn
18. Time: Flies
19. The Last Thing You Did: Ate
20. What You Are Wearing: Jeans
21. Your Favorite Weather: Mild
22. Your Favorite Book: Bible
23. The Last Thing You Ate: Greendream
24. Your Life: Settled
25. Your Mood: Thankful
26. Your best friend: Knits
27. What are you thinking about right now? Knitting
28. Your car: Dirty
29. What are you doing at the moment? Sitting
30. Your summer: Enjoyed
31. Your relationship status: Team
32. What is on your TV? Dust
33. What is the weather like? Sunny
34. When is the last time you laughed? Today
35. Who do you tag? Whoever.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

What Part of Thanksgiving Am I?

You Are The Stuffing

You're complicated and complex, yet all your pieces fit together.

People miss you if you're gone - but they're not sure why.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Raggi Report

Bob's brown ragg Christmas socks in progressPattern: k1p1 ribbing cuff and stockinette foot on 48 stitches

Yarn: Jarbo Garn Raggi, 70% wool, 30% nylon, heavy worsted weight available at Patternworks

Color: 1574 - brown ragg

Needles: Addi Turbo #5

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch in stockinette

In the comments Doris asked . . . "Don't the people who get your Christmas knitting read your blog?"

Gail, the dog trainer, does not.

Bob, the future recipient of these socks, does. Since he picked out the yarn and has very narrow ideas on what makes the perfect pair of socks, they are not going to be a surprise even if I keep them hidden.

Don't worry about Bob. He loves his hand knit socks so much that he will enjoy opening the package even if he knows what's in it. And, just maybe, he'll get something else from me that is a surprise.

This is how far I got on the first sock before putting it aside for a few weeks to participate in Knit Unto Others. I wanted to post a picture now for those who are wondering how this yarn knits up.

So far I give it an A+. It's strong but soft and warm. Very plush. Not hard on the hands even though I'm knitting it at a tight sock gauge of 5.5 stitches/inch.

Final yarn judgment won't happen until the socks have been worn around the house without shoes for a while and been through the wash numerous times. I'm predicting they will hold up great.

Bob wears a 9EE shoe and I'm going to get a sock with an 8 inch cuff out of less than a skein. Since I bought three skeins for insurance, I think I'm going to have enough left over for a pair for myself.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Knit Unto Others and Sunday Sky

Knit Unto Others KAL buttonOnce again Margene and Carole are hosting Knit Unto Others, where knitters give thanks for the bounty we have by the giving of our knitting time during the last two weeks of November.

At first I selfishly thought I just didn't have time for this. I just finished six sweaters for the CIC sweater challenge and the next two weeks I planned to do my Christmas knitting.

After some thought, I realized I want to change my plan and support Knit Unto Others by knitting for others during the next two weeks. There will be plenty of time to finish my Christmas ribbing knitting in December.

Want to join us? Go to Knit Unto Others, leave a comment, copy the button, pick up your needles and knit!

The charity is your choice. If you'd like to do a little something and don't know what, join me in knitting mittens for Akkol, an orphanage in Kazakhstan.

Dark cloudy sky on Sunday November 18, 2006Sunday Sky
Yes, I'm a day late, but the Saturday sky looked about the same.

This sky was spitting snow today. Not enough snow to stick, just enough to let us know that winter is moving in.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Ribbing, Ribbing, and More Ribbing

Gail's Christmas socks in blue Opal MagicPattern: Basic boring sock with heel flap, k7p1 ribbing in cuff and down instep

Yarn: Opal sock yarn, 75% wool, 25% nylon

Color: Blue Magic

Needles: Addi Turbo #1

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch in stockinette

First of three Christmas gift projects - Done!

These are for Gail the dog trainer.

I started Gail's socks in Idaho and finished them while getting over a cold this past week.

All three Christmas gifts I'm knitting are not the kind of project that will keep me up at night wanting to knit one more row. It's a good thing I have some fun audio books on CD to entertain me while I rib away on them.

Jarbo Garn Raggi sock yarnChristmas gift number two is a pair of socks for DH Bob in the brown tweed. He likes simple, ribbed socks. Yawn.

I am excited about trying this yarn, Raggi by Jarbo Garn. It's a worsted weight, 70% wool 30% nylon from Sweden and available (kind of) at Patternworks. They are no longer selling the red, one of the colors I wanted. I don't think I've ever ordered from Patternworks without something I wanted being unavailable or on backorder.

I've Googled and looked on eBay for an alternate source for Raggi. Nothing right now. Jarbo Garn does have a website, all in Swedish. In the skein, the yarn is plump and soft. I'm looking forward to knitting with it.

The two skeins of blue/brown are for socks for me. If I'm going to test out new sock yarn, I need a pair for myself. Right?

Red Bretton yarn from PatternworksChristmas gift number three was supposed to be a hat for Bob out of the red Raggi I couldn't buy. So, I bought some Patternworks Bretton: 70% superwash wool, 25% nylon, and 5% alpaca.

This is going to be a third Christmas gift done in ribbing, because that's what he wants. At least the color is bright and cheery.

Lorna's Laces CMU Sock YarnI was so excited to find out that Threadbear sold a special Lorna's Laces sock yarn in Central Michigan University colors, gold and burgundy - just like the Washington Redskin socks Son John wants for his birthday.

The yarn arrived the day before I left for Idaho, and yuck. The burgundy is a light, washed out looking burgundy. It's almost brown looking and just about as ugly as can be. Even worse, it's nothing like the bright burgundy color used by the Redskins.

I took a skein to Idaho and asked John's opinion. He's a smart boy with good taste. His opinion was the same as mine. Yuck. He said he'd rather have solid burgundy than the Lorna's Laces stripes.

So, I'm still looking. There is still a few months before I need to knit his socks, so hopefully I'll find something just right.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sydney and Saturday Sky from Idaho

Sydney with a KleenexHi Grandma! Let me give you a cold big kiss!

Sydney managed to get through her cold with a happy face and plenty of energy to spare. Mom and Grandma, on the other hand, were a bit more miserable.

My going away present from Son John yesterday morning was a fresh box of Kleenex for the trip.

Sydney at her table coloringOne of Sydney's favorite pastimes is sitting at her little table with paper and Crayons.

I never thought of giving my kids Crayons at such an early age. But, as John was nice enough to point out, they didn't have the wonderful big fat washable Crayons back then. (Or was it Anne who pointed it out? The cold muddled my mind more than usual.)

Her parents have done a great job of teaching Sydney to keep the coloring on the table. We enjoyed many hours of colorful doodling together.

Saturday Sky for November 11, 2006 in Northen Idaho
Saturday evening the sky was spectacular and John reminded me to go out and get an Idaho Saturday Sky picture.

All in all, it was a nice visit. It was worth getting a cold to spend some precious, rare time with Granddaughter Sydney at nineteen months. By the time I see her again in the spring, she'll be two.

I'm so thankful for digital cameras and John's blog to fill in the gaps.

November Calendar Picture

I'm home! And yes, I'm going to post a few pictures from my trip. But first things first. This has a deadline of today.

Chappys Mom is celebrating her November birthday by having a November Calendar contest.

Rules require posting my November calendar picture on my blog by today.

November picture from Browntrout Papillon calendarAnyone surprised that my main wall calendar is the Browntrout Papillon Calendar?

My 2007 Browntrout Papillon Calendar arrived while I was in Idaho and is in the back room waiting for the new year.

Want a calendar celebrating what you love to see? Check out Calendars.com.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Blogiversary Questions About Living In Michigan

Sarah asked . . .
Are you a native of SW Michigan or were you coerced into living there and can't stand to leave?
Jen asked . . .
I was wondering how long you have been in Michigan? Do you like it here? Would you every want to leave?
My parents moved to SW Michigan almost fifty-five years ago when I was seven. I like it very much. It feels like home and most days I have no desire to leave.

Becky asked . . .
Hi. I was wondering how you like the winters in Michigan? I have always lived where there isn't much winter (Texas). I would love to experience winter just once.
Out the front window - pine tree laden with snow.I really do like winter. The snow is beautiful, the air is crisp, indoors is cozy, and it's great knitting weather.

The problem with Michigan winters and the reason I have some days when I could be talked into leaving (just joking - I think), is that they go on forever!

October is the month of our first frost. This year we had two snowfalls in October. By February, Michiganders who aren't headed for a vacation in a sunny climate are noticeable grumpy. And, those who are headed out are also frequently grumpy as their flights get cancelled or delayed because of the ice and snow.

Our average last frost date is May 15. We can't safely plant annuals until Memorial Day at the end of May.

I have stats on the average length of Michigan winters here.

Rebekah who blogs at Knit Knack asked . . .
And I'd also like to know what you like the best about Michigan. Are you a native? Have you lived any where else and if you could live somewhere else where would that be.
Best of all, it feels like home. I grew up here, went to high school here, went to college here (Western Michigan University), got married here (twice), raised my kids here, had my career here, and retired here. My family is here, all except that naughty boy who moved to Idaho.

Before moving to Michigan when I was seven, I lived in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

If I couldn't live in Michigan, the obvious would be to live in Idaho near my son and his family.

If I couldn't live in Michigan and all my loved ones were going to move with me, I would like to settle in the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Tennessee or Kentucky.

Michelle who blogs at Lighthouse Designs by Soap Fiber Gal asked . . .
Are you far from Northern Ohio along Lake Erie... besides across the lake?
I'm on the other side (west side) of southern Michigan, above Indiana, only about thirty miles from Lake Michigan.

Trish who blogs at My Merino Mantra asked . . .
I would love to know if you have been to the Meijer Butterfly House!
I have not been to the Meijer Gardens butterfly house.

I have been in the butterfly house at the Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek and the butterfly house at the Kalamazoo Nature Center.

I'm guessing the Meijer Gardens butterfly house is bigger and better?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Where Do I Live? Our Property

Note: This was previously posted on Seasons of Violet in February, 2004. Minor updates have been made.

Picture of pondWe live in rural SW Michigan, USA, on a dirt road in a wooded swamp. The properties on our road are typically five to ten acres. Most of them have at least one spring fed pond. We have two.

The second pond is very small and hidden in the far back corner of the property, so I usually just refer to "the pond", singular, this much larger pond on the east side of the house.

Picture of Winter Sunset Down Violet's Country RoadOnce the road gets the first substantial snow packed down on it, it stays white the rest of the winter. It's either slippery when it's cold or slushy when it's warm, but it doesn't thaw back down to the dirt until spring is really here. The grayish tracks you see in the picture are ice.

Our five acres is split by a fast running, cold, shallow, sandy creek. The house sits on two acres on the road side of the creek. The driveway starts right before the lower right corner of this picture. I was standing in front of the driveway when I took the picture.

Dog walk path showing goldenrod gone to seedThe Back Three acres is "natural" except for some paths mowed through the vegetation so we can walk around out there.

The dogs and I have a Back Three loop where we go for a walk several times a day.

We have deer, fox, muskrats, raccoons, opossums, little red squirrels, big red squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks. One morning the dogs and I walked out onto the Back Three and surprised a coyote. The coyotes are new since we moved here fifteen years ago. They are multiplying rapidly in our county.

It would be impossible to list all the birds. Notable are the Blue Heron that hunt in the ponds and creek and the wild turkeys that run around in flocks of a dozen or more. In the early spring the male ducks come to the pond and entertain us with duck fights as a prelude to the nesting season.

There are a few beautiful new houses on our road costing many hundreds of thousands of dollars. (That's a luxury house in rural Michigan.) There are also trailers, and everything in between. We are one of the in between houses - a very modest, small red brick ranch house that is cozy as can be in the Michigan winter.

Last June I wrote a blog post about our property with more pictures here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Where Do I Live? Our Area

I live on a very rural dirt road near several communities.

Map showing Paw Paw locationKalamazoo is a good sized city about 15 miles to the east.

About ten miles to the east there is a major shopping and fast food corridor in Oshtemo Township.

Our mailing address is Paw Paw, Michigan, a quaint little village in SW Michigan halfway between Chicago and Detroit. It is named after a tree that grows along the area river banks.

There is nothing fancy about Paw Paw. The 3,700 citizens of Paw Paw tend to be very casual, down to earth, and (mostly) pleasant.

Picture of downtown Paw PawTourists and summer home owners flock to Paw Paw in the summer to have a completely different experience than their life in the city.

On summer weekends, half the license plates in the food market parking lot are from out-of-state. These people drive hours on Friday to come to Paw Paw to enjoy the small town life. They seem to love that fact that Paw Paw is a very uncool, relaxed little village.

Thanks to the local weather, friends and strangers alike have an instant conversation starter that everyone is knowledgeable enough to discuss.

This quote from the Paw Paw website attempts to turn our volatile local weather into a tourist attraction:
"Paw Paw is located in Southwest Michigan, so it possesses the infamous 'Michigan weather'. It sees exaggerated examples of each of the four seasons, with winter being the most extreme. It is not uncommon to have snow one day and sunny, 50 degree weather the next. The weather is definitely interesting and keeps residents and visitors alike guessing on what tomorrow will bring!"
Yes, that's what it's like here. There's a local saying, "If you don't like the weather, wait ten minutes."

Picture of Maple LakePaw Paw is the heart of Michigan's wine country. The main industry is grapes. Paw Paw has two winneries, St. Julian Winery and Warner Wine Haus.

The second weekend in September is the Annual Wine and Harvest Festival. It's a heavily attended event with a grape stomp competition, winery tours, wine tasting, carnival, quality craft show, games, hole in one tournament, parade, community breakfast, music, tournaments, and, of course, local merchant specials.

My favorite part of the festival is the fireworks on Friday night. They are shot off over Maple Lake, a large shallow lake in the middle of Paw Paw. All around the lake are grassy banks where the spectators bring blankets to sit outside on a beautiful late summer evening.

Those last few days of summer are always extra special because we know that a long, cold winter is coming soon.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Off to Idaho

Coure d'Alene area of Idaho from the airTomorrow morning I'm up and out the door way way before sunrise to catch a 7:15 am flight at the Kalamazoo airport and head west to Granddaughter Sydney.

There will be luxury high speed computer access there (I have dialup at home). I have several pre-written posts to publish while I'm gone answering blogiversary questions about where I live and other personal topics.

Now seems a good time to answer a few Idaho related blogiversary questions.

Stacy asked . . .
Do you like Idaho? I live in Washington State and I was wondering how Idaho differs from Michigan.
My observations:
  • Idaho has mountains. SW Michigan has hills cut from the glaciers, but some of it is flat.

  • Idaho is mostly evergreen forests. SW Michigan has hardwood forests of hickory/oak or beech/maple.

  • Temperatures and seasons are the same.

  • We get more snow in SW Michigan because of the Lake Effect . (Snow showers that are created when cold dry air passes over a large warmer lake, such as one of the Great Lakes, and picks up moisture and heat.)

  • Both Idaho and SW Michigan are very nice places to live. (Yes, I do like Idaho.)

  • Both Idaho and SW Michigan produce smart, adorable granddaughters. I have a brown eyed granddaughter in SW Michigan and a blue eyed granddaughter in Idaho.

Theresa who blogs at Adventures With UFOs and Other Knitting News asked . . .
I like seeing your photographs of SW Michigan. My question is, what is the area like, both geographically and demographically in modern times? It looks like you are in the country, but it is hard to imagine it being as much wooded country as it used to be.
SW Michigan is certainly less rural than it used to be.

There is development all around us. Even our little dirt road has some new housing, but the lots are still measured in acres.

During the week I'm gone, I will be posting more information on the area where I live which will help answer your question in more detail. You should be able to get a flavor for the region and my neighborhood.

Back with new pictures and knitting posts the middle of next week.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Blogiversary Questions - Personal

Andrea who blogs at I'm the KJS Mom asked . . .
What is your favorite kind of coffee??
At my house, husband Bob makes the coffee. I love it because I don't have to do it. And, it's good.

He uses his own secret mix of Seattle's Best Breakfast Blend
This full-bodied Breakfast Blend is teeming with exotic flavors and subtle nuances. Made from an exotic blend of Indonesian beans, it features a hint of dark chocolate and an incredibly smooth finish.
and Seattle's Best Henry's Blend
Henry's Blend is named after the big friendly cat that once lived at the original Seattle's Best Coffee roasting plant. It has a great full body, a slightly heavier texture and a deep dark brown color. Henry's is easy to recognize by its full, sweet aroma.

Sharon asked . . .
Are you a lifetime WW member? Do you still attend meetings regularly? Why don’t you grow lavender on your property?
In 2003 I attended Weight Watchers at Work and lost forty pounds. The last five pounds was lost after I was severed from my job and without attending Weight Watcher meetings. By then I was well established in my new eating habits and didn't feel I needed to attend. And, I was right.

I have maintained the weight loss for three years now by weighing myself in and going back to basics when my weight starts to creep up.

The few times I tried growing lavender it hasn't been happy here. Maybe lavender doesn't like our sandy soil, or maybe we have too much shade, or possibly it requires more care than I want to give it.

Susan who blogs at Crochet Lily asked . . .
Are you retired? If so, what did you do "in your previous life?" How long have you been knitting and how long have you been a Papillon "mom?"
Wow, a four part question!

I worked as an Information Technology analyst for twenty-four years. In April 2003 Pharmacia, my former employer, was acquired by Pfizer. In January, 2004 I was severed along with hundreds of other ex-Pharmacia employees in SW Michigan. This honor came with a generous severance check, so I took the opportunity to retire.

There is more information about my career in 100 Things About Me.

When I was young, teenaged and early twenties, I did some unremarkable knitting. I knit on and off, mostly off and mostly awful, unusable stuff, until about six years ago when I discovered the wonderful knitting information on the internet and learned enough to make usable items. Knitting fills a hole in my life, the need to be logical and a little mathematical, that used to be satisfied by my career.

I've been a Papillon Mom for five years and one month.

More on the dogs in the future. Eventually I'll do an entire post answering dog related questions.

Dee asked . . .
If I remember right, you said you retired recently. Are you still enjoying your retirement?
It has been almost three years and I'm enjoying it very much.

I especially enjoy the leisurely mornings, and doubly so this time of year when I would be driving to work on slippery roads in the dark.

Most of my friends and family thought I would be bored in six months max. Boredom hasn't happened yet and I don't think it's going to happen.

Bunchkin who blogs at Bunchkin Knits asked . . .
I've always wondered, and maybe YOU know the answer... which came first, the chicken or the egg?
You just stated the proof for intelligent design in language we can all understand.

Hope all the evolutionists didn't just leave in a huff 'cause I'd love to have you answer the question for us. While you're at it, don't leave out the necessary rooster.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Saturday Sky and Enchanted Cottage Blanket

Overcast Saturday Sky for November 4, 2006Another overcast, cold Saturday.

We did have some nice days during the week. And, we also had another snowfall, this one more winterlike than the previous two complete with whiteouts. (Whiteouts are when it's snowing so hard you can't see the road to drive.)

Notice that the leaves are still on the oak trees. We have many many oak trees on our wooded property, so many that I've never counted them. Their leaves turn brown in the autumn and hang on until almost spring. They will be waiting in soggy piles on the ground for me in the spring.

The oak leaves take three years to decompose in a compost pile unless they are chopped up. The oaks also drop acorns hard enough to dent whatever is under the tree, including my head.

If I ever buy another wooded property, it will be Beech/Maple. The maple trees turn beautiful colors in the fall, (usually) drop their leaves before the first snowfall, and maple leaves make wonderful compost over one wintering.

Enchanted Cottage blanket almost finishedPattern: Enchanted Cottage from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns in the middle of made up border

Yarn: Utopia worsted weight. 100% acrylic

Color: Cream

Needles: Addi Turbo #7

Gauge: About 5 stitches/inch. Don't really care. It's a blanket.

Remember this problem blanket I'm knitting for the Patternworks Project Linus contest?

When I received the additional three skeins of cream Utopia from Patternworks, they were not the same dyelot as the two I used to start the blanket. That was not a surprise since I received no hint that they were going to try and match the dyelot.

Like any mature knitter would do, I flung them in a corner and snarled at them for several weeks.

Last week I hauled the blanket out and started knitting. If I strain my eyes, I can see where the new dyelot starts.

80% of the time, I think noone will ever notice except me because I know it's there. 20% of the time, I think I really don't want to donate a blanket that isn't as nice as it could be because the dyelot changed.

During the 80% of the time I think the blanket is OK, I've been knitting on it. It's almost done.

On a more positive note, I like the pattern and would knit it again in a washable wool blend or superwash wool of all the same dyelot.

I'm not going to write up the pattern in detail, but when the blanket is done I will write up general instructions. If you want to knit it, you will need to get the Enchanted Cottage part from the Barbara Walker book.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Christmas Knitting

So, you might ask after reading my last post, what is this Christmas knitting that is sneaking up on me?

There were two blogiversary questions related to Christmas knitting. Answering them will tell it all.

Brenda who blogs at Mamere Knits Too Much asked . . .
I've often wondered about the socks you made for the lady at doggy school--does she like and wear them?

I was disappointed when I didn't see them on her feet in January or February. First and foremost, I was sorry she didn't like her gift. She's a special lady and I wanted to give her something special. Second, from a selfish perspective, I was back to not knowing what to give her other than a gift card or more doggy junk like she gets from everyone else.

Then in March, it happened! There she was in doggy school happily wearing her hand knit socks. And she wore them often until it was mid-summer sandal weather.

I like to imagine that there was a day when they were the only clean socks she had in her drawer and she had to wear them. When she discovered how warm and comfy they are and that they really did wash in the washer and dryer, she started wishing she had many more pair.

She is going to get another pair this Christmas, and it's time to get started on them.

Lisa who blogs at A Little Bit of Knit asked . . .
I want to know what you are knitting for Christmas gifts this year?
My Christmas knitting is going to be minimal.

In 2006 I made each of my loved ones a pair of socks for their birthday, spreading the knitting through the year. The recipients liked getting the birthday socks and three (John, Anne, and Mom) have requested a favorite color in anticipation of their 2007 socks. So, it will be birthday socks again in 2007.

Here is my list of Christmas/Birthday knitting for the next few months:

  • Gail's (doggy school trainer) Christmas socks. Need to be done by middle of December for the doggy school Christmas party. Haven't selected yarn or pattern yet. I plan to knit these on next weeks trip to Idaho, so decisions need to be made.

  • My blanket for the Patternworks Project Linus contest needs to be sent in by the middle of December. I have about eight more inches to knit. In Utopia. Acrylic. It's been a long time since I've knit acrylic and it's going to be a long time before I do it again.

  • Bob's (husband) Christmas socks. These aren't mandatory, especially since they break the birthday rule, but he does love his heavy handknit wool socks and I see that Patternworks has some worsted weight sock yarn to try. If they're not done in time, it will be OK.

  • Anne's (Daughter in law, Sydney's Mom) birthday socks. Her birthday is January 10. I have to treat it like a Christmas present or that date sneaks up so fast in the post Christmas lull that it's easy to miss it. She has requested shades of brown. I think I have the perfect yarn in my stash.

  • My birthday socks. Well, of course I need birthday socks! Especially in the middle of January in Michigan.

  • John's (son, Sydney's dad) birthday socks. His birthday is March 18. The challenge is finding the right yarn. He wants maroon and gold Washington Redskin colors or maroon at the very least.

    A few years ago Socks Digest sold a special Lorna's Laces yarn that was maroon and gold. I bought it and knit it up, so I know it would be perfect for Redskin socks, but I don't think they make it any more. Anyone have two skeins they'd like to sell? I'd be happy to let you make a profit on it.

Then there is the list of unfinished projects waiting patiently but reminding me that there are a few too many of them.
  • The blanket for Project Linus listed above. It's at the mindless knitting stage and I'm working on it a little at a time.

  • Grasshopper. I finished knitting this in August and there is still one seam to sew. Well, it is a very long seam - from bottom ribbing to end of cuff ribbing.

    This is perfect proof that I knit to knit and not to wear the finished product. We won't talk about it anymore.

  • Peerie Brocade. Needs sleeves. I'm looking forward to knitting them. Just wanted to finish up my CIC goal of six sweaters first to make sure they got done.

The verdict? In 2006 I made good progress in controlling the number of knitting projects in progress at one time and reducing my knitting stress. I'm pretty proud of that and it feels good. It would feel better if I finished the seaming on Grasshopper. Fortunately, Peerie Brocade doesn't have seams. And neither do the ganseys I'm looking at for future knitting. It appears that is wise pattern selection for me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Heads Up on Family Pictures

For those readers who like to see family pictures, Son John has posted a summary of their recent trip to Michigan here.

There are ten pictures, all with Sydney. Only the supporting cast changes as they go from visit to visit.

If you click on the Picturetrail link on his sidebar, you can see even more pictures of Sydney in Michigan.

Blue CIC Gansey Done

Blue Jerods Gansey for CIC

Pattern: Jerod's Gansey from Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel

Size: 24 inch diameter. Read sizing comments below.

Yarn: Knitpicks Wool of the Andes Bulky. Took 3.5 skeins, about 480 yards.

Color: Sky

Needles: Addi Turbo #7

Gauge: 4.5 stitches/inch, 6 rows/inch in stockinette

I didn't follow the pattern exactly. For this size the pattern body width is 12.5 inches and the pattern total length is 11.25 inches. For maximum warmth in CIC sweaters, I like the body length to equal or sometimes exceed the width.

To make that happen, I didn't omit the third stitch pattern from the bottom as the pattern directed for this size. That meant I had to recalculate when to start the sleeve gusset and front neck dip.

The resulting sweater in the picture is 14 inches long. Hopefully there won't be any little back or tummy skin peeking out the sweater bottom.

For those of you who don't like to do sweater math, the easiest, safest way to make one of these little ganseys longer is to knit more of the stockinette that's right above the bottom ribbing.

If I had added an inch or two of stockinette to the stockinette band, I could have followed the rest of the pattern exactly and still ended up with a longer, warmer sweater. But, it would have been missing that pretty arrow stitch pattern running from gusset to gusset.

I'm loving the no-seam, interesting stitch patterns of the gansey patterns in Knitting Ganseys. The first three months of 2007 the CIC_Knit List will be concentrating on knitting sweaters for the older children and I plan to have fun making a few more ganseys from this book using the larger sizes.

This is the sixth sweater I've finished for the September, October, November CIC_Knit List sweater and vest challenge. I'd like to knit a few more, but Christmas is sneaking up on me.

More on Christmas knitting in a future post.