Thursday, December 29, 2005

Help Me Spend My Gift Cards!

Do you have a crocheting or knitting book that changed your life? Ok, maybe not changed your life, but at least one that you would strongly recommend? One that has beautiful patterns, easy instructions (especially if it is knitting!), or just awesome ideas? Then tell me about them! I received an obscene amount of gift cards to Borders/Barnes&Noble/Amazon this year for Christmas. Normally, I would run to the store with my “must read” fiction list in hand and have a field day. But, I also received quite a few books this year... and I hate to admit it, but my reading has really slowed down since I started crocheting! As in, the 12 books I have stacked up at home will last me quite a while! So, I would like to spend my holiday joy on my new hobby, but am curious as to what everybody’s faves are. Now, keep in mind that I already own: Hooked on Crochet by Candi Jensen, Vogue Crocheted Scarves On the Go, Knitting for Dummies, and the Crocheter’s Companion. I do not have kids or even nieces or nephews, so children-specific books are not my thing. I am already considering getting either The Encyclopedia of Crochet or The Crochet Stitch Bible (which is better?). And I am just learning to knit... so nothing that will make me want to pull my hair out! Finally, they have to be books that I can purchase at a bookstore, and not at a craftstore. So, with all those caveats and restrictions, there should be about one book left, right? :-) Seriously, I would love to hear what my fellow crochet- and beginner-knitter-bloggers have to say about this! Those gift cards are burning a hole in my pocket....

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

I'm back!

Happy (belated) Christmas to all! I hope everybody had a lovely Christmas. I did. :-) So wonderful, in fact, that I have neglected my blog horribly! In my defense, I spent 12 hours in the car on Friday and 12 hours in the car on Monday driving to and from CT. Let me tell you, driving from Ann Arbor, MI to Harwinton, CT is no breeze. Pennsylvania is a llllloooooonnnnggg state. I was soundly cursing William Penn and all those early settlers for forming such a long state. It is always so much more satisfying to drive through small states... you feel like you have accomplished something. In PA, you're like, "Boy, we have been in this state for 5 hours now. Will we never reach NY????" and general panic ensues.

Anywho. Enough tirades against PA. Besides the massive amount of drive time, Christmas was nice. We spent the 24th and 25th with my hubby's family who we only see a couple times a year, so he was very happy. His grandmother is 91 years old now, so everytime we see her, we feel thankful and lucky that she is still in relatively good health. She still lives in her own home and is a pretty feisty woman. She was a schoolteacher in CT back in the days when it was a bit rare for women to continue teaching after they were married.

And I have to admit, that I am still childish enough (or have a childish love for the holidays) that I pile up my presents after the big day and gloat over them. My faves this year? My hubby signed me up for a beginning knit class at Joann's; we are going to pick out a grill from Lowe's (though that is really for both of us); my dad bought me the LL Bean raincoat I had been coveting; and I got both season 6 and 7 of the Simpsons. Hurray!

Not much crocheting has been happening lately. I did finish one of my afghan's squares in the car, but I get motion sickness so I couldn't get that much done. But, my MIL loooovveddd the Well-Traveled Bag that I gave her, so I was very happy. I am looking forward to working on my sock again, too.

Anywho (again). This is a very materialistic and random post. That's what the holidays do to me! Hopefully I'll be returning to normal soon!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pardon the mess...

... the blog is under construction! I have been twiddling around with blogskins for the past few days and finally decided that I liked this one. Of course, I intended to replace the "My Life" and "My Harvest" titles with appropriate crochet-related titles. Unfortunately, after about two zillion hours spent tweaking the html to get everything else to work (those comments were a bugger, let me tell you!) I realized that the titles were actually a part of the flower picture. D'oh! And since I do not have a decent photo-editing program... they will be staying there for a bit! So, please let me know of any bugginess you may run across. I'm practically cross-eyed from rechecking html so there could be glaringly obvious mistakes that would slip right by me.

Also, I have signed up for my first TWO Crochetville swaps! Hurray! I will be doing the Granny Square and Winter Hats swaps. I am so excited! Escpecially as I have never actually made a granny square! (Gasp!) It will be a good learning experience.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Three things

First off, thanks for the kind words on the Mohair Monster. I don't feel quite as bad about giving it as a gift now that ya'll say it looks ok!

Second, has anybody else made the great leap into sock crocheting? I am nearly to the heel of my First Sock (not to be confused with the First First Sock, where I didn't make it pass the cuff!). I really like it, but it is slow going. Why? Because I am using a size D hook and sock yarn is pretty darn thin! I started with the first pattern in this book, which is billed as being easy. It is ~ but it is also a learning experience. Thus far, I have learned the Double Crochet Foundation Row (And really, how cool is this? Once I eventually figured it out, I fell in love with it. Your foundation chain and the first row of dcs -- at the same time. Love it!), Front- and Back-Post Double Crochets (I admit, I had been afraid to try these before. I have no idea why, they are soooo easy.), and the Extended Single Crochet (scroll down the page to see instructions). All for about one-half of one sock. If I actually finish the sock AND it actually fits, I will be patting myself pretty strongly on my back. (That sentence sounds awkward, but I don't feel like fixing it. That's what happens when you are an editor for a living. You don't bother to correct your own writing when you are on your lunch hour!)

ANYWAYS. Lastly, I have a small confession to make. My family exchanged Christmas gifts on Saturday (since I will be out of town with my hubby's family on the big day) and my mom bought me something I had been hoping for... (click for gift)...

*ssshhhhh* Don't tell anybody!!! :-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Mohair Monster Revealed

Yup. It's done:

I am so-so on it. It doesn't really look ripply, as it should, because I used too bulky a yarn. Oh well... it's a Christmas gift, so I don't have to love it, right?

We had our second Sit-n-Stitch on Tuesday. Once again, time seemed to fly by while I was there! I'll have to try and bring a camera to one (once we all know each other a little better; it's a bit weird taking pics of semi-strangers!) to share my Sit-n-Stitch-Joy with ya'll. The next one won't be until January sometime, though, so be patient. :-) Sidenote: We meet at Espresso Royale, so I bought their Eggnog Vanilla Latte. It sounded festive. BLECK! Avoid at all costs! I don't think eggnog should really be mixed with much... except rum.

Well, my hubby and I are watching The Little Mermaid at the moment (we have run a bit short on movies we haven't seen!) and I promised I wouldn't be long blogging, so I had best go. Plus, I just started My First Sock (not counting My First Sock from October, which I abandoned after just a few days. We don't speak of the First First Sock.) and I want to get cracking on it.

Have a lovely evening, everybody!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Happiness is free (or very cheap)

I love when I am not disappointed. Remember a few weeks ago, when I signed up for the free coffee maker, but was doubting if I would ever get it? Well, I came home from work on Thursday to see a HUGE box on my porch and I knew that my little slice of frugal, caffeinated heaven had arrived! Hurray! I spent this morning learning how to use it. It is fun; it works much like an electric teapot, except with coffee (obviously). Great for if I want to brew just one cup. There are a few drawbacks to it... like that I am a coffee snob and buy whole beans and grind them myself and for this pot, you need to buy the company's pre-packaged (and not as tasty) "pods" of coffee. And that I really don't need another appliance in my kitchen. And that -- wait. Darn it, I am going to enjoy this. So forget all my gripings -- I love my little Senseo pod machine (sounds like it is from a sci-fi movie!)!

Another happy-making thing in my world is that I have been scoring big time on the free/very cheap books this week. A fellow Ann Arbor blogger was giving some of hers away, so I took Eva Moves the Furniture and *umm* ... I can't remember the second one right now! But it looks good! :-) And today the Ann Arbor library was doing their annual "we have too many books, come buy some at super low prices" event. My husband and I went a bit nuts. To put it mildly. I picked up: A Widow For One Year; The Seal Wife; City of Darkness, City of Light; Atonement; and Killer Dolphin. And my husband bought a big stack of his own. For practically nothing. Hurray for frugality! And good books! :-)

The best part of the library experience today was that a complete stranger (young-ish college student) come up to me and asked about my bag. It was the Well-Traveled Bag, of course, and she wanted to know how I made it, if it was hard or expensive... and she kept saying how much she loved it! It was a wonderful compliment. I was glowing with pride!

Finally, I have put in some good work on the mohair monster. I just haven't been racing along because I have been so busy drinking free pod coffee and reading free books!

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Quiz of the week

It has been awhile since I posted my Princess quiz (ok, maybe a week or so. I like quizzes, ok!) and when I saw this one at Kathy's site, I just had to know what level of Dante's hell I would be in...

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Sixth Level of Hell - The City of Dis!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)High
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Moderate
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Moderate
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)Moderate
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante's" Inferno Test

I find it interesting that my two highest scores are for a "virtuous non-believer" and a "heretic"!! So, I'm a good person, but still will be sitting in the 6th circle... I wonder who else would be there with me?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

SPs and mohair and more...

Secret Pal 7 is starting sign ups, if anybody is interested. After a great deal of thought, I have decided not to participate in this round. I really enjoyed myself in SP6, and had a super spoil-ee and spoil-er. (I just love coining new words, by the by.) But I have also read in many, many blogs of all the rotten experiences people had this round... never hearing from their SP, gifts that didn’t fit SP’s requirements, etc. So, I figure, why spoil a good time? I don’t want a future bad experience tainting the great time I had in SP6. Yes, that is probably faulty logic, but oh well. Also, I intend to make up for the lack of goodies-by-mail by joining a few swaps on Crochetville!

The “mohair monster” is actually working up really quickly now. It was just the initial chain (263 stitches long!) and foundation row that were buggers. It is a ripple pattern and is looking pretty good. Although, it doesn’t look much like the picture in the book. I realized that the mohair the pattern called for was a nylon/mohair mix. I am using Patons Divine, which you will notice is an acrylic/mohair mix. So it is a bit chunkier than the scarf pictured, but I still like it. I’ll post some pictures soon.

Did I gloat -- I mean mention -- that I have finished my Christmas shopping?? Hurray! Soon there will be wrapped presents under my tree. It is amazing that I finished shopping so early (for me) because I really dislike shopping, of any kind. I get bored and frustrated in about 20 minutes. But my luck was better than usual this year, and except for a few crochet projects that need to be finished, I am done. Hurray again!

Monday, December 05, 2005

Blurriness and secrets revealed!

Yes, there is a reason for the very blurry self-portrait below. (Besides vanity... which we can rule out based on the quality of the pic!) Yes, I got my reveal package from the wonderful Amanda... which included the scarf wrapped 'round my neck. Isn't it beautiful?? (It really is blurry, I hope the photo does it justice!) It has lovely autumn-y colors and just a splash of sparkle. I love it!

Amanda also sent me these:

I can't wait to use them! She really has been a great pal; everybody should stop by her blog and give her a huge thanks and hi from me! Plus, she is an awesome knitter... I was marveling at the sheer quantity of WIPs she has! In other SP news, I heard from Alyx, my spoil-ee, that she received her package and loved it. Yeah! Everybody in Alyx's world is sick, so I hope they all recover soon.

Sit-n-Stitch #2
Has been set up for Dec. 13th, 7:30 pm at the Espresso Royale on Plymouth Road, in Ann Arbor. I am soooo looking forward to it. And if you are in the AA area that night, please stop in! We'd love to have you!
I will probably still be working on the "mohair monster", as I have affectionately dubbed it. It is a pattern from the Vogue Knitting: Crocheted Scarves that Amanda gifted me several months ago. I bought the yarn awhile ago, and then wussed out because that stuff is tough to work with! But, I took the plunge with it this weekend, and am slowly making progress. I do hope it won't take me another week to finish!
My Christmas Tree
Just cause I feel like sharing some spirit or something....