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Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Ah, the risks of blogging / Ah, the rewards

Sadly, some people took offense to my recent commentary about visiting restaurants with my children.

Looking at them again, I can understand why my flippant comments regarding self-absorption and children in restaurants might elicit some negative responses. Unattended kids can be a real pain and a real hazard. For those of you who took the time to make your feelings on this topic known, I would encourage you to take a less literal-minded approach to future posts and be on the lookout for sarcasm and irony.

Deep breath.

In happy blog news, I was the fortunate winner of Ramona's One Year Blogiversary contest. I was very touched when she presented me with a beautiful package of goodies, including my favorite hand cream (how in the world did she know?), beautiful sKNITches syncopation sock yarn in warm fall colors, divine-smelling soap and a very pretty piece of paper that I might use to make a lampshade one day. What a nice way for her to celebrate. Shouldn't someone be giving her a gift? Thank you again lovely Ramona.

Work on the hair scarf is almost complete, and I'm missing my sweater, which I'd hoped to actually wear for the holidays. This seems very unlikely right now, but I cling to hope.

My big gift to the kids for Christmas will be a puppet theater that hangs from their bedroom doorway with simple tension curtain rods. I've already bought this fabric for the project and I plan to line it with something stripy.

I have been the grateful audience of many brilliant puppet shows from the back of the sofa. I am amazed by the things kids will tell to a puppet. Also, few things make my kids laugh as hard as their dad making the chicken talk like a Russian peasant girl or the grasshopper like Jimmy Stewart.

This weekend we head about 3 hours from home to the wilderness to enjoy an outdoor picnic in the snow. We'll eat Posole and drink cocoa by the fire, build snowmen and go sledding and then hike around looking for the perfect Christmas tree to cut down.

Enjoy the cold and goodbye for now!

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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Giving Thanks for Fiber

We had a bit of a flu on Thanksgiving. I will share no unpleasant details, but the saddest part was that my delicious Thanksgiving meal sat, untouched on my plate and I almost laid my head down in it to rest. It was still lovely to be at my Granny's house and to sip Matzo Ball soup (a much-loved tradition), and to see the teens who look far older than their years. (I was never that sophisticated).
Even with the illness, we were able to enjoy the weekend. We walked to the Twinkle Light Parade and saw all sorts of parade shenanigans. I love parades. Cheerleaders, beauty queens, clowns, lowriders, shriners and Santa with elves. My kiddo sat with his pals on the curb, wearing mittens, sipping hot cocoa and looking dazzled. It was great.

Now, suddenly the holidays are here.

Oh, the mind is a flurry of gift fantasies. Every year, the holidays get more fun with these amazing kiddos. I thought it was magic when I was a kid, but being a parent at Christmastime is hands-down more fun. It will break my heart when they become jaded about it.

Naturally, I would like to make about 50% of their gifts myself and naturally, I have not even begun.

My first wish is to make an advent calendar out of all the scrap fabric and thrifted wool felt I have in my basement. I was thinking of something fairly conventional, turned funky and fabulous with terrific fabric, but then I came across this and, for God sakes, THIS. Oh, the inspiration is almost too much. After finding these divine examples, my advent wish became an advent imperative. I have 4 days. oh boy.

I have put my sweater down yet again for a very fun little project I'm making from this beautiful yarn from Scout.

It will be a fetching and funky little hair scarf in a few days, at which point I'll show it off to you all, then it goes on a trip to TV-land with miss Scout. You can read all about her adventure on her blog.

Thank you my dear for the lovely hank and for the pattern tip! It's been fun to knit and it looks terrific. I'm planning to give it to someone very special for Christmas.

Despite our illness and holiday mayhem , we managed to finally get fancy magnetic child locks installed on the kitchen cabinets this weekend.

Amazing how happy this makes me.

It's a battle each day keeping that crazy toddler out of the plastic bags and dishwasher soap. Here, a picture of him, blissfully unaware that this would be his last opportunity to sit in the cabinet, squeezing soap on his shoes and the floor.

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Sunday, November 19, 2006

Tree Spring Trail

We went for a hike today on a little trail that leads to the peak of Sandia Mountain. It has been a very long time since we did something purely recreational as a family and even longer since we left our neighborhood to do it. I was almost more excited for the long stretches of knitting time on the car ride to the trail head, than I was for the hike itself.

Two kiddos in car seats = peace for everyone.

It was more wonderful than I can say, to be out with the dirt and the trees and watching the kids bravely tackle the climbing. Even the little one, new to being upright, insisted on walking much of the way by himself. He lost his balance and fell on rocks twice his size many times, but he rarely complained. We took a big thermos of hot cocoa as a surprise for the kids and we were rewarded by enthusiastic appreciation, followed by grave disappointment that it tasted unlike the thick, milky stuff we make at home. Oh well, I guzzled it.

We forgot to bring the baby carrier, so the hike was short but sweet. We're already planning to go again soon, this time to a spot with waterfalls. We desert dwellers so crave a small spot of abundant water in the mountains.

I brought my first Malabrigo Mama Sleeve along for the hike. It was tricky getting a good picture, while preventing my children from stepping over the edge of a steep cliff. But I'm happy to say that I managed.

After our hike we were in such a good mood that we decided to drive to Madrid for lunch in a restaurant. Restaurant visits are a bit complicated. The toddler is not fond of restraints and he wants nothing more than to explore the kitchens and other dangerous parts of every restaurant we visit. My husband and I both spent a great many years working in restaurants in our younger years and were routinely appalled by the self-absorbed parents who allowed their children to wander about the restaurant under the feet of servers carrying hot pots of coffee. We occasionally cringe that we have become those people now. But more often, we are amazed by how little we care. Such is the luxury of self-absorption.

Lunch was a great success. We sat on the patio and allowed the little one to toddle about while we ate Cuban sandwiches and baked brie. We only had to jump up every 30 seconds or so to prevent him from wandering into the parking lot. It was very like every other meal we share at home.

I found a little gallery in Madrid called Tapestry, that carried gorgeous hand-dyed yarn by Robin Pascal. It was really divine but I restrained myself.

After a long, lovely drive home, the sleeve covers my elbow.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, American and otherwise.

I love Thanksgiving. It's a great secular holiday that reminds us all to feel humbled and warmed by our many blessings.


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Friday, November 17, 2006
Scout’s Meme:

1. How and when did you learn how to knit/crochet?
I learned to knit from my granny when I was about 9 years old. I half-completed an ugly acrylic scarf and didn't pick it up again until I was about 26 and just moving in with my now hubby. His wonderful mother is a long-time knitter and when I showed interest in knitting again, she bought me the Vogue Knitting book and helped me begin.
I've been knitting pretty much constantly ever since (10 years!). It's amazing that it never gets old. It just keeps reinventing itself. Each project renews my passion. I get such so much satisfaction from attempting and understanding new skills.

2. How has this craft impacted your life? (besides financially!)
Knitting is more than a hobby for me. It's a passion. I knit whenever I can: in the car, outside, inside, at meetings, in parking lots, in bed (often, in bed), whilst nursing a baby. It's impact is felt everyday. It's a blessing that I share my love for knitting with my mother-in-law. We've gotten to know one another well as we sit and knit together and that has enriched my life so much. She shares my love of knitting, surrounded by pillows while watching the BBC Pride and Prejudice Miniseries. Bliss.

Also, my appreciation for wool and other beautiful natural fibers is owed to knitting and enriches my life all day long.

3. Pick at least one person to talk about who you have met through the knit-world and why you are thankful to have met them. Feel free to get all mushy.
My beautiful, funny friend Kelena and I believe that the magic of knitting is responsible for our friendship. Knitting destiny. Kelena and I have shared many terrific knitting nights, laughing hard, eating well and feeling cozy with our other good friends Janine and Delia.
Also, the local S&B has brought countless lovelies into my life! It's a gift to go every week and sit among such talented people, laugh and talk endlessly about what we all love most.


Sunday, November 12, 2006

Oh, the sweet birthday bounty

I have a very dear friend named Christine who I met many years ago in college. We were both printmaking majors and we spent many long hours together in the studio where we routinely talked and became delirious until dawn. Everything she makes is beautiful. She laughs often. She has an unbelievable eye for color and she is unfailingly generous with the unusual ability to give exactly the perfect gift.

Christine also makes divine and luscious quilts. The kind that deserve to be in a hip, urban shop, with a gigantic price tag.

She knew I was sad when I missed the What's Cookin'? Apron Swap deadline.
My birthday came and she sent me this perfect apron (click the pic for a closer look - it's really perfect).

It's the best gift in the world. I spent an hour dancing around the house like a little girl in a brand-new twirly skirt. Who needs a swap when you have friends like mine?

Even lovelier, the flowery fabric on the scalloped edge and the pocket was purchased by Christine while we were together many years ago at a vintage fabric show in Seattle. Every time I wear my glorious apron, I'll be reminded of happy times shopping for fabric with my dear friend.

Oh, how I love people who appreciate the details. You are a treasure Christine. Thank you!

Now that my mitten obsession has been satisfied I've returned to the sweater. I don't think I've ever enjoyed knitting a sweater more. The wonder of Malabrigo never ceases. It's just so beautiful to touch.

Lately I've been knitting on my front steps as the baby sleeps near me in the car. I enjoy knitting outdoors on these cold, sunny days and it occurs to me that this is one such instance when fingerless mitts would serve me well.

There's always something to see in front of my house. As I sit there, various carpenters and house framers march back and forth down my sidewalk, speaking in Spanish and nodding politely at me or asking if I'm almost done knitting their sweater.
Usually a kid on a skateboard passes, rowdy school buses rumble by, and frequently a neighbor passes in a lowrider with a very suped-up stereo that miraculously does not wake the baby.

My blogging odyssey has lately led me to the enormous undertaking of archiving my completed projects of the past several years. I'm gaining familiarity with flickr and I do like it, but I can't seem to get their damn badge to appear on my sidebar. Just another bump in the html road. I'll conquer it.

In the meantime, I leave you with one such archive photo of my big boy in a purple donegal tweed sweater I designed and knit for him 2 years back. It is now in it's final winter of fitting him (thank God for little brothers). I just took this photo the other day.

xo -m

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Speaking of Mittens...

My recent preoccupation with mittens began simply.
Now, it's become something much more.

Thanks entirely to a collaboration with the mitten giftee, the humble mittens have evolved into a strange (but charming) pair of new friends.

May I introduce Rufus & Bargy. (Rufus is taller).

These boys began as a pair of mittens adapted from the children's mitten pattern in the Elizabeth Zimmermann book, The Opinionated Knitter. I fiddled with the pattern a bit to make them the proper size for a small child and I gave them extra inches at the wrist for more warmth. The yarn is a hand-dyed, worsted-weight that I got at the Wool Festival in Taos. It reminds me of fall and crayons. Sadly, I was too dazed by beautiful yarn to note the vendor's name.

They fit perfectly and there's a little space to grow.

The best part of knitting them? Creating the adorable curled-tip. This feature is uniquely Zimmermann's and it lends a quirky elfin personality to the mitts. For a more technical explanation of my pattern modifications please visit my post on Zimmermania, post title: Rufus & Bargy - of course.

I recognized their charm right away. What I did not see was the obvious need for eyes. My four-year-old pointed out that their eyes were missing. "How can they talk with me if they can't see me?"

Good question.

The curled tip.

The backs of Zimmermann's mitts are embroidered with handsome chevrons. I decided that little x's were more little boyish.

And finally, Rufus and Bargy have a kiss:

Until next time. xo

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Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Knit Mitt Kit Swap

I have signed up to paricipate in my very first swap. The fabulous Knit Mitt Kit Swap, could not have come at a more serendiptous time. I was just looking for some message from the universe that I should knit mittens right this minute. As you know, I'm easily distracted during long projects and I can't resist knitting small, sweet things.

The existence of the KMKS validates my decision to set my Malabrigo Mama aside for just a few days in the name of warm hands. I know. I'm weak, but I will finish the sweater, if for no other reason than that I have an audience (of about six readers, at last count) to keep me accountable.

I've already received a very gracious (and tantalizingly mysterious) message from my secret kit granter. Hello there. Below find the answers to my KMKS questionnaire and thanks again!

Thanks also to Scout and Bev!

The Questionnaire:

What are your favorite colors?
I love deep indigo blue, burgundy, deep red (and just about any red ), vivid, rich orange, chartreuse green, celadon green, warm chocolate brown.

Are you a new mitt knitter? How long have you been knitting mittens?
I knit my first mittens for my 2 year old a couple years back. They were striped green and purple and featured different stripe patterns on each mitt. It was so much fun and quick ( i did them in one night). Then I knit myself a pair of gloves from one skein of red Manos that I'd been coveting for sometime.

Do you prefer solid or multicolored yarn?
I like both, but I love the semi-solid effect found in some hand-dyed yarns. I love the luminosity of so many shades of the same color. I would say that generally, I prefer solids over multicolored.

What fibers do you prefer in mitten yarn?
Anything soft and luxurious. Merino, Alpaca, cashmere (ahem), silk. Or a blend of any of these is lovely.

Where do you usually knit mittens?
I usually knit in bed, late at night while I watch Seinfeld re-runs, or on the couch, midday, as my kiddos swirl around the room trying to distract me. I also can often be seen in my car under a shady tree, knitting as the kids sleep in the back.

How do you usually carry/store small projects?
I have a few little project baskets that I always plan to use, but they keep getting filled with things that aren't complete. I love little bags that are sewn of pretty fabric. Also, little square felted bags are nifty.

What are your favorite mitten patterns?
I am dying to make some Zimmermann Norwegian Mittens something like Jessica made herself. All traditional folk mittens are cool. I also love the big thick Morehouse Merino mittens in the Weekend Knitting book. I love fingerless mitts too, because my four-year-old will think I look like a fast bike racer if I wear those. I especially like them if they have really long wrist-coverage.

What are your favorite mitten knitting techniques?
In the round. I recently made mittens with the patented (?) Zimmermann curled-tips. Extremely cute and elfish.

What new techniques would you like to try?

I would love to try double knitting some mittens someday.

What are your favorite needles for knitting mittens?
Really that depends on the yarn. I use whatever I have on hand. I've never knit with pretty hardwood needles and I'd love to try it someday.

What are some of your favorite yarns?
What a question!
Malabrigo Merino, Blue sky Alpaca, Koigu, Fiesta yarns, Mountain Colors, Karabella, Jo Sharp Tweed, Rowan Kidsilk Haze, Cashmerino....

What yarn do you totally covet?
Tilli Tomas, A.L. de Sauveterre hand-painted Pippen in Briar Rose colorway (aran weight cashmere) gulp.

Any pattern you would love to make if money and time were no object?
A big bedspread in some alpaca/wool blend inspired by this book.

Favorite kind of needles (brand, materials, straights or circs, etc)?
It depends on the yarn, but I tend to prefer addi turbos for their speed. I usually knit with circulars whenever possible. I do love wood though...

If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be?
I'd be something plump, decadent and many plied like Karabella Aurora 8.

Do you have a favorite candy or mail-able snack?
I like milk chocolate. I like licorice and love dots.

What’s your favorite animal?
giraffes and mountain lions

Would you prefer super warm mittens or something more like fingerless mitts?
Either one. I plan to make both at some point.

If you were a color what color would you be?
Deep, ruby red.

What is your most inspiring image, flower, or object in nature
Succulents, like jade plants and cacti. Magnolia flowers. Bunches of jewel-toned Dahlias. Jellyfish. My childrens' perfect little bodies.

Do you have a wishlist?
I have a list on (under knittingmolly). It mostly references things I want to make someday.

Anything else you’d like to share with the group today?

Here's to toasty digits!


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