Knitting

Milestone

On New Year's Day I started my From My Window photo project. Each morning, right after I get up, I take a picture from my window and I plan to do it for daily all year. Today closes out the first month. And this week, another milestone -- sunrise started coming before 7 a.m. Here is what I saw this morning at 6:57 a.m.

This project is teaching me a lot. About the variety of color in the winter landscape. The hint of lavender I can see even some gray and cloudy mornings. The silent beauty of dawn. 

Doing this, maintaining the discipline of taking that picture each and every morning, allowing the variation in times because I don't get up at the same time every day, and resisting the temptation to make it prettier or otherwise different from what my eyes see as I look out the window is in itself full of lessons. I don't use the zoom. I don't crop the photo. I let it be itself. I had no idea what drew me to it when I started it a month ago, but it has become an essential part of my day. If you want to see the whole series to date, click on the Flickr badge on the right.

Spreading the Joy of Blogging

Very little knitting done today as I spent the day from early this morning until mid-afternoon infecting a delightful group at Senior College with the joys and delights of blogging. I have never taught this kind of seminar before but I think it went well as we all had fun and I think a few new blogs will appear in the coming days and weeks. So here's a wave to any of the participants who are reading here!

I am continuing to post my thoughts after each episode of HBO's In Treatment -- it's a bit of a busman's holiday to watch and comment on a show about therapy but this one is exceptionally well done and rings truer to me than anything I have seen before. Do pop over there and join in -- you can also get there by clicking on Jung At Heart in  the site map above -- lots of comments so far on the first episode.

Inch by inch, row by row

With apologies to Dave Mallett, who wrote about gardening, inch by inch, row by row, gonna make Arabian Nights grow. And grow it does. Here's where she was early this afternoon --

So you can see she's growing. Today was a really busy one for me as I finished up prep for a seminar I am teaching tomorrow on blogs and blogging for Senior College here -- being a deadline worker, of course I was doing the last of the prep work today. And tomorrow, I will be teaching all day. So there is a bit of a slow down in progress. I'll get probably 3 or 4 more repeats of this motif -- out of the twenty total needed for this half -- done by Friday morning. Then the weekend means lots of time to work on her.

I really like In Treatment  which premiered on HBO last night. It is the best I have seen in portraying therapy and therapists so I will be watching all the episodes and making a post on them each day. You can find the first one here.

Longer posts and more pictures will be back after tomorrow, I promise. Keep knitting -- and let me know what you think about In Treatment.

See what I saw!

The only picture I have today is one I borrowed from  a wildlife site because I didn't have my camera at hand when I saw a guy like this one --

That's an ermine, folks! I saw a flash of white in the lilac next to my window and saw one running down a branch toward the ground. I Googled here and there and everywhere and found that indeed they are native in Maine but not seen all that often. And I got to see one, right here in Belfast. And I live right in town, within sight of Main St.

I didn't have a chance to photograph the lovely Arabian Nights  while the light was good. Because I am making a longer version, there won't be new design elements to see for a while, but I will get a photo for you to see tomorrow.

The new HBO series In Treatment starts tonight, something I have been looking forward to. It will run 5 nights each week, and is about a therapist, his patients and his own therapist. I plan to post my thoughts about each episode the day afterwards. Click on JungAtHeart above if you want to follow along.

Obsessed Knitter

I am truly a knitter obsessed. With Arabian Nights. It isn't easy in the face of the writers' strike, meaning there is not much on television while I knit.So it's Netfilx and audiobooks. Smart me, I just started listening to Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, which is over 40 hours long! Meanwhile I am accumulating clues for The Fisherman's Wife shawl, Secret of the Stole ii, and Spring Surprise mystery KALs for later. I am not even tempted to swatch the new ones!

I have finished the heavily beaded part of this half so the knitting is going faster. Here's a look at where I started this morning --

I've got pulled pork cooking in the slow cooker, my audiobook, lots of tea and my comfy chair so I'm ready for a nice day of knitting.

I am verklempt!

When I woke up this morning, you were on my mind -- Arabian Nights that is. But first came my daily photo out my window and a cup of tea and a bit of writing in my journal and then a session with a patient. And then I could get back to her, the beautissimus Arabian Nights. As I said yesterday, this is not a pattern where progress is measured in inches per hour because of the generous number of beads employed, but because it is such wonderful yarn -- thank you, Kim (of The Woolen Rabbit)! -- and a very engaging pattern, it does not feel like slow going at all. Here's what it looked like when I managed to tear myself away for lunch --

I am enjoying the drape that the weight of the beads produces and the nice crunchy feeling of the yarn. This is a terrific project!

As if being able to work on this delightful pattern weren't reward enough, I came online to find that Susan, designer extraordinaire found at A Few Stitches Short gave me an award! My very first. A huge and very pleasant surprise as this is a very quiet corner of the knit blog community. 

Arabian Nights

Well, by Tuesday night I had the beads and yarn and pattern in hand and I was all set to go. Then I read the beginning of the directions :"String 1588 beads on yarn" -- and they are for the fringe and edge! So Tuesday night I strung beads. And strung them. You know, 1588 is a *lot* of beads.

I wanted to get to the knitting so I got up early yesterday and cast on and plunged it. Only to discover just as I had to stop for the day that I had cast on 2 too many stitches. :::Big Sigh:::

I met with one of my groups yesterday morning, worked with a couple of patients and finally last night I was able to get back to the knitting. Big decision -- fudge corrections or rip it out and start again? Now I confess that were I doing this just for me, I would fudge it, but I felt that it deserves my very best effort. So, I ripped it all out and decided I would start again in the morning.

Which I did this morning. In between work and other chores, I managed to complete the first 20 rows, which doesn't sound like a lot but the beads make the going a little slower. I was right that the beads are spectacular against the yarn. The pattern is very nicely done and I am really enjoying knitting it. It's gloomy out so the light is not terrific and it is tough to really capture the colors, but here is a first look for you -- I will have a good deal more to show tomorrow.

Blooming Beauty

My first amaryllis opened this morning. Every year  become enchanted with them; this year is no exception. This bulb is one I have had 4 or 5 years now and it produces gorgeous blooms every year. All of my bulbs were started the same day and old faithful here was the first to produce its flower.

firstamaryllis

And Arabian Nights moves along its pat to flowering as well. The beads arrived today, silver lined crystal. I know they will look like starlight twinkling in the night.

Off to swatch now!

Wolf Moon

According to this site, the moon I see outside my window this evening is the Wolf Moon. 

moon3

It was fiercely cold here today -- the high was 14F but the wind chill hardly made it above 0F.  One of the other names for January's full moon, the Ice Moon, seems appropriate for us.

I've gotten the yarn for Arabian Nights all wound into a nice ball. Susan tells me the pattern should be here for me tomorrow sometime and the beads should arrive then too. Tonight I am going to swatch the yarn to see what needle size I like. I tend to use 3's or 4's with this weight yarn, but we'll see. Want to see the gorgeous yarn again? I knew you did so here it is --

arabianights_textmedium

Two more rows to go on Clue 3 of SSS. New clue comes out tomorrow but I won't start it. You have no idea what a novelty it will be for me to be faithful to Arabian Nights, forsaking all others until I finish it. A true test of my mettle!

One more moon picture

More about being fearless

I was talking with someone the other day about fearlessness. She said she prefers to think about it as courage, because courage to her is acting in the face of fear. I understood where she was coming from, but I don't think of tackling a complex knitting project or attempting to write a short story or beginning to work with water colors is especially courageous for most of us. I think of courage as being what I need to draw on when there is a real threat to me, my family, my well-being. And though I might be anxious about writing or doing a seminar, there is no real threat to my safety in any way, not for me living on the coast of Maine. Were I a woman in Saudi Arabia, then standing up in front of a group and talking about Medea, as I do from time to time, would be an act of courage. But not here where I am. And the fear I feel is anxiety, illusory fear coming from my own thoughts and worries rather than from any threat.


It's frigid outside today -- the wind chill is 0F  -- but my amaryllis show me the hope of spring.

Being Fearless

I have been thinking a lot about fearlessness these past few weeks. I think I have written before about being fearless when it comes to knitting and I am about cooking as well -- I am willing to plunge in and do anything and without anxiety. I was talking with a relatively new knitter a week or so ago and I asked her what she wanted to knit next now that she has completed a scarf. I know that I would be moving on to a sweater or socks or something, but it would be all about what it is I *want* to knit, not what I think I am able to knit -- because I know I will only grow my skills and learn more by stretching to do that thing I haven't done before. Besides, the idea of knitting rectangles, whether for scarves or potholders, over and over again always in stockinette, garter or ribbing, would quickly become boring and and might put me off knitting. But she is much more concerned with making a mistake and only attempting projects for beginners. Her fear keeps her from leaping in and going for what she likes. I always figure that the worst that can happen is that it doesn't turn out the way I like, but I can always rip it out and knit it again or use the yarn for something else. In short, there is nothing really big at stake, so mistakes and having to struggle to gain mastery feel very low risk with knitting or cooking.

New Toy

First, I got Clue 1 of SoSii -- I downloaded it and stashed it safely into the folder for such things. Because I am not starting it until after Arabian Nights!

My BFF, the Fed Ex delivery guy, showed up early this afternoon and brought my nice shiny new MacBook. 

Here's a look at the one I have been using. I seem to have a great talent for wearing the letters off keys. A while ago, a friend pointed me to Happy Bunny key stickers. And you know what? I wore them out too!

My husband will take this iBook to the Mac hospital in Camden Monday where it will get a nice new and bigger hard drive and even better, a new keyboard. He just doesn't fancy himself a Happy Bunny kinda guy and he will be the new user.

Look at how pretty the new keyboard is.

P1020792

I wonder how long those nice letters will last under the pounding fingers of Cheryl?

They spent a little while talking with each other. Well actually, new MacBook sucked all of the good stuff right off iBook's hard drive. 

P1020794

Now all I have to do is take stuff off the old one and turn it over to Neal.

Waiting...

This is a waiting time. The yarn, pattern and beads for Arabian Nights are on their way.

Around 10 o'clock this morning, the first clue for the Secret of the Stole ii will be released.

The snow started a half hour or so ago; now the wait for it to change to  the always delightful "wintery mix".

The flower buds are up so now the wait for the amaryllis blooms

But most of all, today I am waiting for this:

itscoming

My new MacBook!


Back into the deep freeze

The snow stopped sometime last night after dumping about 12 inches of powdery snow on us. All the towns are getting pinched on their snow removal budgets with so many storms so far this year with February and March, our snowiest months, still ahead. I notice our usually meticulous road crew is plowing a little less often and now quite as much of our dead end street. And I completely understand.

Yesterday, at the height of the storm, we had this group out on the hill playing

  

Today, it is sunny, bright and cold with air temp of 23F and wind chill of 13F. The January thaw is over!

I have downloaded and printed out Clue 3 of the Spring Surprise to keep me busy until Arabian Nights arrives. Can you tell I am just a little eager to begin that project?

American Idol begins tonight and will be sucking out our brains and critical thinking skills for the next many weeks!


Snow Day!

It started snowing just about the time i got up this morning and soon was coming down really hard. We've already had about 6 or 7 inches of new snow now and looks like we will make it to the 12-14" forecast. It's windy and blowing and cold -- good day to knit and listen to books.

A couple of weeks ago I received an order from Yubina.com -- and it was yellow cashmere and silk, though I thought I had ordered a red. Seems  that I clicked on the wrong box. And though yellow is not my color, I figure I will find a use for it. So I ordered what looked like a nice heathery blue -- 4 800 yd skeins of their cashmere and silk. Well that came today. And it came wound on 2 small cones and is more slate than blue and finer than the yellow. I can't really even tell if it is the same yarn. I am hoping that it will fluff a bit with washing. And I guess it will look good when I find the right pattern. But I must say I am underwhelmed by these yarns. The price is good and the yarn feels fine but it is not at all the same quality as what I get from Colourmart and the colors shown on the site are pretty far off what I see when I look at the actual yarn, whereas I have been happy with the Colourmart colors.

Son of Bonfire

This post is long on pictures and short on words. I'm working on completing Secret of the Stole1 -- 1 clue left to go -- and listening to Life of Pi, reluctantly but it is the choice of my book group for this month and the meeting is tomorrow evening.

You may remember that I posted pictures of the New Year's Eve bonfire. Well, we left soon after the bonfire got started so we didn't know until later that it had fizzled out after that promising beginning. What do you do when the bonfire fizzles? Well, in Belfast, you have Son of Bonfire or Return of the Bonfire or Bonfire Redux. And that's what happened yesterday at sunset.

Word went out last week for folks to bring their dried-out Christmas trees down to the town landing Saturday around sundown for a bigger and better bonfire. So go we did.

The colors on the water were achingly beautifulsunset1


sunset3


Here you can see the old fizzled bonfire on the right and the new and improved version under construction on the left -- lots of people, including my husband but not yours truly, pitched in to move all of the old wood over to the new site.

Waiting to start...

While I await the yarn and pattern for Arabian Nights -- have I said how excited I am to be the test knitter? -- I'm bringing other projects up to date.

Today I finished Clue 2 of the Secret Spring Surprise stole -- I like the complexity of this pattern. I still choose to fly without a net, so haven't used lifelines. Probably means I am courting disaster, but it's only knitting. I really like the color of this yarn a lot -- it is so soft and pretty.

I have a couple of other things I will work on while I await the test project -- a cardigan I started in DK silk from Colourmart, some socks of course. I plan to give all of my knitting time to Arabian Nights when it comes. I have downloaded Ken Follett's Pillars of the Earth, which is a bit over 40 hours long to listen to while I knit.

Also arriving next week is my new MacBook. My husband's bit the dust and we decided to get a new one for me and give him mine. So by Friday I should have a nice shiny new one, complete with keyboard which has not had the letters worn off. I'll hardly know what to do!

Cheryl Does The Happy Dance

I have been asked to test knit a pattern for Susan Pandorf of A Few Stitches Short!

I have been nagging hinting to Susan that I really really want to knit her Morroccan Days shawl pattern. Because what I have seen of it is gorgeous. And soon I will be test knitting the Arabian Nights version of it, with yarn from Kim of The Woolen Rabbit.

I am absolutely delighted. Mystery stoles will hibernate for a bit while I knit this. There will be pictures, I promise.  

Project Spectrum 3

I was thinking about Project Spectrum 3 this morning as I walked around the house. One of the things my own From My Window project -- a photo every morning from my dining room window -- is teaching me is about how and what I see. It is giving me the opportunity to look more deeply into what catches my eye and to reflect on why. 

Someone who was looking at my series asked me why I wasn't using my zoom to hone in on details in the view. Well, I had to think about that because I had made the decision not to zoom and I didn't know why. Then it came to me that the project is about what I *see*, with my eyes as I look out. And I just don't have a zoom feature on my eyes. So what I take is what I see, as closely as my camera can capture that.

And as I look at the pictures, I am amazed by the light and by the shifting color, even in the winter landscape, generally assumed to be drab. The soft bits of pink and lavender that the rising sun gives, the blue of the water and the snow.

Color -- I love color! One of my brothers is a painter. In the ways that kids do, unconsciously, we chose different strengths to develop so I left art to him. Years later, when I was in my early 50's, I decided to take a painting class. I did not discover any latent talent as a painter, but I *loved* buying paints -- tubes of watercolor and oil paints. I still remember the color Opera with great fondness. And the reds -- oh my!

What about my stash?

As I read blogs and Ravelry, I start to feel that I should be concerned about my stash -- that I should be focusing on reducing it, on using it all up and trade, sell or give away what I don't use. But years of therapy have made me far less susceptible to the tyranny of the shoulds (thank you, Karen Horney, for this most excellent concept). My stash is not in for much reduction this year. In fact, it may well grow. 

When I was married to my first husband and money was much more plentiful, I could buy yarn with wild abandon. And I did, probably as a way to deal with my unhappiness -- but yarn is better than drink or drugs, right? So I have a considerable amount of high end yarn in my stash, mostly Anny Blatt yarns. Which I am loathe to part with for now because I think I may use it. Like the 20 balls of bouclé wool in dark green -- it could still become something, right? And surely that corrugated ribbon yarn with the gold on the edges can be used in something?

Most of that yarn comes from the days when I knit lots of sweaters. But these days, socks and lace, mostly lace, are what I concentrate on and I have had to develop a stash of those yarns. And I have. Because, you know, what if Colourmart went out of business? What is my favorite sock yarn vendors decided to do something else with their lives? I must have yarn to keep me going, mustn't I?

About the mystery KALs

As I said yesterday, I have been thinking about these mystery lace knit-alongs and what it is about them that grips me so. Here I am having done 3 of them and embarked now on another with 3 more due to start over the next few weeks so clearly there is something about them that grabs me as other things have not. 

I've not done any of the other kinds of KALs; the social aspect of knitting something that many others are knitting doesn't do much for an introvert like myself. Even with the mystery ones, I put myself on special notice very soon after they start and I do not  participate in the email chat that accompanies them as they go along.

I would not likely knit a sweater I couldn't see before beginning it because style is such an important factor there. Though the shape of these shawls and stoles is a known factor, for me all of the interest lies in the interplay of the lace patterns and the yarn. I really enjoy starting and having no idea what the finished object will look like other than, of course, knowing the basic shape. The mystery of it all is so paramount for me that I don't look at pictures other people post of their progress.

Did I mention it's COLD?

Yeah, well, what should I expect living in Maine? Still, the moderating effect of the ocean doesn't seem to be moderating much now. Last night when i went to bed, it was -5F -- I have no idea if it got colder than that but I suspect it might have as the hot water in our bathroom sink was frozen until mid-morning. So it was COLD. Ah, but warmth is returning -- already it is a whopping 14F! With the bright sun, it looks warm at least.

I continue with Spring Surprise --


No attempt there to block it at all -- when I do the circles will be round, really they will. The color is fairly accurate. I am using 2 strands of Colourmart 2/28 cashmere and a Knit Picks 3.25mm needle. I think I will be happy with the outcome.

I have to leave soon for my knitting group but later today or tomorrow I have some things to write about why these mystery KALs grip me so. Wait with bated breath now.

And we're off!

Clue 1 of the Secret Spring Surprise stole was released Tuesday and I have gotten about a third of it done. Of course I forgot to take a picture while the light was good today -- so look again tomorrow.

It was COLD here today -- our high was 4 F. That's right, FOUR DEGREES. And the windchill was around -15F. 

You can see the cold in my morning photo today --


                                       




Archives, 2007

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Happy New Year!

The snow stopped when it was supposed to -- after dumping a fresh 9 inches on us -- so the city was able to get the streets and sidewalks plowed in time for the New Year's Eve By the Bay revels. We went to see the Katahdin Valley Boys 

and their wonderful bluegrass music.

Ameranouche, a gypsy jazz trio in the spirit of Django Reinhardt, came after them

ameranouche

Then over to Main Street for the parade of the Drum & Rabble Corps down to the landing and the bonfire

heretheycome


rabble

Then the bonfire

fire

The drums and the fire went on until 1 am. It is a great way to welcome in the New Year. 

This morning, the sun gave me a great beginning for my From My Window series launch --

window1

The Flickr Badge in the sidebar is now set for this series.

And now, Clue 1 of the Spring Surprise Shawl is up and I must start a knitting! Another snowstorm is due later today and we have a nice rib roast for dinner. 

Enjoy your day as we welcome 2008!

Janus

Last day of the old year and time to look back at what has been and forward to what will be.

In knitting:

I completed the following projects:

Eunny Jang's Print o' the Wave stole

✦ Scheherazade stole from Pink Lemon Twist

✦ Leda's Dream Stole -- Pink Lemon Twist

✦ Honey Bee Stole from Anne Hanson

Mystic Waters Shawl

Krista Tee from White Lies Designs

I also knitted several pairs of socks, but they seem kind of matter of course to me.

Started, to be finished in a month or so:

✦ Secret of Chrysopolis Stole from the KAL of the same name

Guinevere 

✦ Feathers stole based on Swan Lake Mystery Stole

✦ And I got this blog going!

Not too shabby, I think.

 Looking ahead to 2008:

✦ I already have 4 lace projects lined up, continuing in my Lace KAL obsession.

✦ I want to knit one of Sharon Miller's patterns from Heirloom Knitting

✦ Contemplating possibly designing something myself.

✦ My daily photo From My Window, starts tomorrow. I'll create a Flickr set and put a link in the sidebar.

I don't do New Year's resolutions, so what the year ahead holds and where it will take me in knitting, reading, my work is open and waiting to be discovered in the living.

Blog 365?

Here is an idea whose time has not yet come for me -- Blog 365. Yes, a blog post a day for a year. I didn't manage to get a post a day for one month, November, so who would I be kidding to say I would do one a day for a year? I must say though that NaBloPoMo helped me to pick up the pace of my posting -- I have managed to post 20 out of 29 days so far this month and that, my friends, is progress.

Something along the lines of Blog 365 is on my agenda for 2008 though. I have a great view from my window -- across the harbor and down into Penobscot Bay. I have decided to do a Year From My Window and take a picture first thing when I get up each morning. I'm thinking of creating another blog for it -- I'll let you know.

Prep time

When I woke up this morning, it finally dawned on me that I have some serious prep work to do for several things I will be teaching in the next few months. At the end of January, I am teaching a one day seminar at the Senior College on blogs and blogging -- got to get that material organized. About Senior College -- I love this whole concept! Classes in short 6 week semesters on all kinds of subjects, many of them quite intellectually demanding, for folks who are 50 and older. It is a great group to teach plus no grades, tests or papers!

Then March 15, I will be doing a one day workshop at the C. G. Jung Center in Brunswick on Medea and Betrayal. I have done this workshop/seminar twice before here in Belfast so I have a good idea of how much territory I can cover in a day, but I want to work on it some more. 

And in the spring I will be teaching about psychological type at the Senior College.

Yikes!

Then yesterday when I called Helen at Heavenly Socks Yarn -- because Spike made off with my teeny crochet hook that I use to apply beads when I knit -- she asked if I would be interested in teaching a course on beads and lace. Which I am but that's another preparation and I have to get a description in soon.

We had ourselves a Merry Little Christmas

We did indeed. Christmas Eve we finished up wrapping and baking. I finally got the stole I made for my daughter blocked -- it is Scheherazade from MS 2. I ended up steam blocking rather than pinning it all out and it turned out just fine. The photo doesn't show the design very well but you get an idea --


It made me very happy that she loves it.

Yesterday we hung around here by ourselves till noon. It was lowkey for us as neither of us really wanted anything so we just enjoyed being with each other. then off to Courtney's house for dinner.


The moon was bright on the ride home, brighter than I have ever seen it. It was perfect.

Merry Christmas

There are cookies to be baked and presents to be wrapped today and tomorrow. And Tuesday we are off to my daughter's home for Christmas dinner. I'll be back to post here on Wednesday. 

Growing up is so very hard to do!

Christmas once the kids are grown up is tough in some new ways that I am still trying to figure out.

When I was growing up, my dad was in the Army so we almost never got to be with family at Christmas. My brothers were both grown and gone by the time I was 7, which meant that most years, it was just me and my parents. The last time my family had a big extended family get-together was in 1954 -- and even then, neither of my brothers were there though my grandparents and some of my aunts and uncles and cousins were. When I was in high school, one year both of my brothers came to our house for Christmas and there was a year or two like that when I was in college. And that background created in me a yearning for family on the holidays.

When my first husband and I got married, we went to visit our parents that first year but after that we decided we would stay home. And we began our own traditions which multiplied after the kids came along. Like the year, when David was 3, that we started going to the movies late afternoon on Christmas Eve as a way to help keep him from jumping out of his skin with excitement. And the Christmas Eve package with pajamas every year. And a special Christmas breakfast to eat after all the gifts were opened. And a big prime rib roast for dinner. I loved it all and love it still.

After the divorce we made some adjustments. The kids went to their dad's Christmas Eve and then came back to my house to spend the night and we would have our Christmas on Christmas Day. It wasn't the same. I missed going to the movies, which became an activity with their dad. But enough remained that I was happy and I built some new things for myself around the day they were not with me.

Then I moved to Michigan. That first year, both kids came out to be with us. It was a great time for us, though maybe not so much for them as there was a lot of new family and friends for them to meet. The next 3 years they came to see us, but not at Christmas. I missed them fiercely. Neal and I melded our traditions together -- to his friend's house Christmas Eve -- after we went to a movie -- and then Christmas at home before going out to visit his family.

Now we are back in Maine. And my daughter has married. Though both of my kids live within a couple of hours of here, we don't see them all that often -- and any ideas I had of casual Sunday dinners together are long gone. The first year they both came and all spent the night here and we had a Christmas a lot like the ones we used to have. Last year they came up Christmas afternoon. 

In June my daughter moved in to their new house. And she waned to have Christmas there. So she invited us. Initially it was to include her dad also, which would have been odd but okay with me, but he is unlikely to come. So we will go there Christmas Day for dinner. I understand her desire to have Christmas in her house, I really do. And I am more than willing to go this year. And we will have fun, I know.

But I am realizing that after being home for 35 of the last 37 years, I am really not wanting to do it this way again. I am finding it really hard to get into the holiday. We have had our tree up for 5 days now but still haven't put lights on it. And I keep putting off doing other holiday stuff. Because it just doesn't feel like Christmas to me knowing we won't be home that day. Silly, I know. But there it is. I like being the mom and gathering my family around me.

I think I have found a new sense of common ground with my mother, who must have felt much the way I do when I, her last child, decided not to come for Christmas. But what I want to do is find a way to make something new, that recognizes the changes that have occurred, that preserves the parts of what was that have a place in what will be, and that opens the way for what can be meaningful and delightful in a way similar to what was. I don't know yet what that will be. Maybe we will start a tradition of an open house for our friends around the holidays. The door here will always be open to my kids, but they must also know that they are free to develop their own traditions; we will work it all out. And in that mix, we will all find a way to celebrate our lives, together and separately.

This growing up business is very hard sometimes.

Stay tuned...

I am halfway through the last clue for Mystic Waters. It's possible I will finish it today though tomorrow is more likely.

In the meantime, a cookie recipe to keep you busy -- I have had this recipe for around 15 years and no longer remember where it came from.

Ginger-rum sandwich cookies  

2 C flour 

2/3 C granulated sugar 

1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger 

1/4 tsp salt 

1/2 C cold butter, cut into 8 pieces 

1/2 C sour cream 

1 egg white beaten with 2 tsp water for glaze  

Preheat oven to 350? . Grease 3 large baking sheets. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, ginger and sale. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs ( I use my food processor). Add sour cream and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes.  

On a floured surface roll dough out 1/8" thick. Cut out dough using a well floured cutter. Brush cookies with glaze. Place 1" apart on baking sheets. 
 
Bake 8-11 minutes, until pale golden on top. Cool on racks. 
 
Ginger-rum buttercream  

1 1/2 C  butter softened 

2-3 tsp. minced crystallized ginger 

3 C powdered sugar 

3 T. dark rum 
 
Beat together butter and ginger until creamy. Add powdered sugar 1/4 C at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually drizzle in rum, beating until smooth and creamy. 
 
Spread buttercream about 1/8" thick over bottoms, top with glazed cookie tops. Store in airtight container at room temp for 3 days, in frig for 5 days. Can be frozen. 

And the meme goes on...

So here I am cruising through blogs this afternoon and I discover more items for the meme --


25. Shopping...I am proud to say I have not been in a mall in 3 years. Of course it helps that I live in a small town far from the nearest one, but I swore off them even before I came here. I hate, loathe, despise malls! I shop locally and online.

26. Do you decorate outside for Christmas or just inside (or at all?)
We put a wreath on the door. And we always have vague ideas about something more. But it doesn't usually happen.

27. Favorite Christmas cookie?
Hmm, today I would say ginger-rum sandwich cookie. But it could and likely will change.

28. Do you own Christmassy clothing or jewelry?
I have a red sweater I made sometime in the very early 90's. It is quite something with some red angora, sequins and other glories that only that period and a crazy Anny Blatt design could bring. I wear it on Christmas defiantly  with pride.

29. Do you believe in Santa? 

But of course!

Christmas Meme

I saw this on several blogs, so I stole it.

Christmas Meme

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?   Wrapping paper. When I was in high school I got all involved with learning to make fancy bows and I did that until I had kids. Then came the stick on bows. Then came the no bows because kittens and kids took them off. 
 
2. Real or artificial tree?   Real. My father sold Christmas trees during the Depression -- I heard the stories every year when I was growing up. I ended up being somewhat perfectionistically committed to finding the most nearly perfect tree possible. But artificial is just a no-go for me.

3. When do you put up the tree?  Any time after Thanksgiving.This year it will be this week. I think we'll get the tree tomorrow.

4. When do you take it down?  New Year's Day or sometime before Valentine's Day.

5. Do you like eggnog?  Only the kind I make.

6. Favorite gift received as a child?  a Madame Alexander doll which was Jo from Little Women.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?  No.

8. Hardest person to buy for?  My son.

9. Easiest person to buy for?  My husband.

10. Worst Christmas present you ever got?  A box of dishwasher detergent. My ex-husband thought it was a joke. The humor of it evaded me.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail but only a few.

12. Favorite Christmas movie?  A Christmas Story followed closely by Elf.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?  When the spirit moves me.

14.. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?  No.

15. Favorite thing to eat on Christmas?  Roast beef.

 
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?  Clear and this year we have new LED lights which are kind of yellow like candlelight.

17. Favorite Christmas song?  Good King Wenceslas

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?  Stay at home. But this year, we will go to my daughter's house Christmas Day. Because i am a good and flexible mom.

19. Can you name all of Santa's Reindeer?   Yes.

20. Angel or star on top of tree? Neither
  
        21. Open presents Christmas Eve or morning.  Morning.

22. Most annoying thing this time of year?  Too much hype

23. Do you decorate your tree in any theme or color? Nope.  Lots of ornaments from my childhood, my kids' childhoods, things we have gotten along the way. Combination of breakable and unbreakable. We buy a new ornament every year.

24. What do you leave for Santa?  Used to be cookies and milk.






Slow start...

It's a slow start to Christmas for me this year. We haven't gotten our tree yet and likely won't until Tuesday. And though my cards have arrived, I have not begun to address them. No holiday knitting for me to do as I finished the stole for my friend and will not be knitting for anyone else. 


So this weekend, I will figure out what cookies we will make and I'll start writing cards.

But first I have to finish listening to The Last Town on Earth, which is our book group book this month. It took me a while to get into the book, but now I like it a great deal. I have only 3 hours left to listen to, so I should finish today. And while I do, I will knit clue 7 of Mystic Waters.

Tallying

I have finished Clue 5 of Mystic Waters, meaning I am now just 2 clues behind. The rows have become pretty long but the pattern is fun to knit so it goes easily. 


I want also to make some more headway on Secret of the Stole -- all the clues have been issued, but I have 3 left to knit. I am bartering this one with a friend who is an artist -- she will give me one of her masks in exchange. So, I need to get going on it.

I decided I will use the terra-cotta cashmere/silk for the Secret of Chrysopolis. I ordered beads yesterday so when they arrive I will start that one.

Now here is where the madness enters -- there are 5 mystery KALs starting after the holidays and I plan on downloading the clues and knitting them as I can. I have yarn for Spring Surprise(the Yahoo Group name is spelled "Surprice), and for at least 3 of the others.  But right after Christmas I need to gather the information and assign yarn to project and figure out how to organize myself. 

On some level, I seem to be operating as if a lace pattern and yarn famine is imminent. 

Isn't it a rule...

that you start a new project as soon as you finish an old one, even if you have a gazillion others on the needles? I'm sure I read that somewhere.

Anyway, I started itching to start something new. So I made a swatch out of the terra-cotta Colourmart cashmere/silk. 


I made no effort to hard block it and didn't even pin it. I washed it in hot water then finger-blocked it and let it dry. It measures 5" wide, which is about 6 stitches/inch. The length, and my swatch is one pattern repeat sorter than given in the pattern, is 4.5" over 20 rows. So it looks like gauge would be fine. The stole would end up about 21" wide, which is what I like. Now I have to decide if it is too open. This yarn is so light and soft. I would add beads, which would increase the weight and give more drape. What do you think?

It snowed all day Monday into yesterday. We had flurries into the afternoon. We ended up with about 14".

It was very cold when I got up today -- 6F. When I looked out, I saw the arctic sea smoke, which always seems magical to me. Here is what I saw at sunrise this morning--


SNOW!

They promised snow and it has arrived!

We're expecting 12-14". One of the things I love about living here is that a snowstorm is  cause for excitement. not panic. Yesterday when we went to buy cat litter, the supermarket was not filled with panicked people buying bread and milk -- because we know snow is not the end of civilization as we know it. Pretty soon there will be kids sledding down the hill outside our house -- one of the best things about our house is that we live right on one of the premiere sledding hills in town so we get to watch and hear kids reveling in the delights of snow.



Our street has already been plowed once and the storm has hardly begun -- we are supposed to get snow through tomorrow morning. The Belfast road crew does an outstanding job!

Now to a day of knitting and watching movies.

Red sky at morning

Red sky at morning, sailors take warning. There is a snow storm coming.



We have some preparing to do today for the coming storm -- get the snow shovel out. Find the mittens. Lay in a supply of good snow storm goodies to eat. Reschedule the book group meeting tomorrow night. Charge the iPod and camera batteries. And then when the snow starts, hunker down and enjoy it.

Tomorrow might be a good day to block the stoles I have completed -- I have 4 now awaiting blocking and it doesn't look like the blocking fairy is going to come long and do it for me. 

And I just want to say that I love what I am seeing of Morocco  -- look here at A Few Stitches Short. Red beads win me every time! And what's not to love about another blog with readers numbered in the tens like mine?!

A new month

Well, it's December 1 and it is clear that I did not make a post a day in November. But I did manage to make 20 of them, altogether, and that is quite a bit for me. So it served the purpose of showing me I can post more often and I shall endeavor to try to continue. And next year, maybe I will achieve the target.

I have been reflecting a lot on holidays and the discrepancy between fantasy and reality as I consider how I would like to have Thanksgiving in the future. I should say at the outset that Thanksgiving has never been my favorite holiday despite my connection to its origins. For me it seems like a mountain of work to make a meal which is soon gone. And I am not the world's biggest fan of turkey -- though I must say our organic free range bird was the very best tasting one I have ever had.

When I was growing up, my father was in the Army and we were usually living too far away to have holidays with extended family. My brothers are much older than I and were off on their own from the time I was 7. One year, when I was 8 and we were stationed at Ft. Knox, I got the measles. What I remember most about that year is that we didn't get to eat in the mess hall with all the soldiers -- well, that and the fact that I threw up at dinner. So I grew up with wonderful fantasies of the Norman Rockwell kind of holidays with family and friends gathered together around the table -- the whole works. I thought that when I married and had children that was what we would develop.

Some days titles just don't spring to mind

It's another cold day and it has been snowing a bit. The Jack o' lantern that we left out for the squirrels to munch on got a nice white hat this afternoon


Tomorrow it's time to get started on preparations for Thanksgiving dinner. This year it will be just my husband and my son and me as my daughter and her husband are going to my kids' dad's for dinner -- that's the way of divorced families. For many years i have not much enjoyed Thanksgiving. It always seemed like a lot of work for a meal and I couldn't find other benefit to it. But somewhere along the line this last year, my attitude seems to have changed and I am really looking forward to it. Neal picked up our organic turkey from the Co-op this morning and we got all of the other ingredients for all the things we usually make. It will be much more food than three people reasonably need but then again, we can send my son home with food and still have enough left over that we won't be cooking again until the weekend. It helps a lot that Neal shares the cooking chores with me so that we both can enjoy the preparation as well as the meal itself. And he is that most desirable of all kitchen partners -- he likes to do the prep work!

I joined 3 more lace alongs that will starts in the new year --

1. Secret of the Stole ii

2. The Secret of Bad Nauheim

3. The Fisherman's Wife

I am too lazy to look up the urls but you can find them by searching at Yahoo Groups. It's madness to do this, I know, but there are many worse kinds have.

Chilly Sunday

It's cold today -- just 36F at noon. So thoughts of coffee cake entered my head when I got up. I searched my trove of recipes and came upon a cranberry nut upside down coffee cake that I got from somewhere a few years ago. We buy lots of fresh cranberries in season. I love the tart taste and use them in all kinds of things. And best of all, we can get organic berries grown right next door in Lincolnville.

Cranberry Upside-Down Coffee Cake -- from Allrecipes.com


INGREDIENTS:
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1 1/4 cups cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans -- I used chopped walnuts because that is what I had on hand
 
1/2 cup butter, room
temperature
3/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
DIRECTIONS:
1.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Wrap the outside of a 9 inch springform pan with aluminum foil to prevent leaking. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Set aside.
2.
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine brown sugar and 1/3 cup butter. Bring to a boil, then pour into bottom of springform pan. Sprinkle with cranberries and pecans.
3.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and 3/4 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4.
Bake in the preheated oven for 60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto serving platter and carefully remove pan. Serve warm.

It's yummy!


P1020348

So I sat and drank my tea and looked out my window. 



No more NaNoPoBlo

I am not even sure what the correct acronym is, but clearly I am not a post a day kind of person, though I must say I have enjoyed picking up the pace of my posting, so this experiment is not for naught. 

It snowed yesterday. Thursday it was warm and in the 50's and yesterday it snowed. Up north there was even some accumulation. Today it is clear and brisk and obviously winter is soon upon us.

Kim, at The Woolen Rabbit, mentioned in her post last night that she is not seeing so many in progress pictures these days and that she missed them. I hadn't been posting many of my various lace projects because lace is not much to look at before it is blocked. But I take her point because i also enjoy seeing things in progress. In that spirit, here are a couple of mine --

First, Leda's Dream, from Pink Lemon Twist, is now about 60% complete. I am using 2 strands of Colourmart 2/28 cashmere in the color cyclamen. which is fiendishly difficult to accurately capture.

leda

It's a pretty easy knit and I expect to finish it by the end of the month.

And I am on row 149 of the Mystic Waters Shawl. It is too big to finger block the whole thing without taking it off the needle. I love this pattern -- just enough challenge to keep me on my toes. I am using a single strand of Colourmart 3/45 cashmere/silk and 3.00 mm needle.

mystic

These two and the Thermal are getting most of my attention these days.

But look at what arrived yesterday -- MORE of the 3/45 cashmere/silk, this time in terra-cotta!

Brrrrrr!

I was greeted with this when I went out this morning.


© Cheryl Fuller, 2007. All  rights reserved.