Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas, ya'll

Hi Cathy, Naomi and Ellen,
I hope you are well, warm and enjoying the companionship of your loved ones on this blessed day!

As some of you know, Den & I gave up most of the trappings of Christmas several years ago. It was not an easy thing to do and ruffled the tail-feathers of a number of people we care about. At that time, the only traditions we salvaged were the Christmas meal with our family and Christmas stockings which we stuff with small gifts and fruit. These stockings are very special because my mother knitted one for each of us. To give that tradition up would be to waste a true labor of love. Here is a picture. They are embellished with sequins and small bells. We cherish ours.

During the year I contemplate Christmas and its true meaning. This is always growing as I learn more about the mysteries of Christ's birth and all the attending events: the ancient prophecies, the angels visiting the shepherds, the quest of the Magi, their enigmatic gifts and so much more. Certainly it is a time to set aside for commemoration and celebration, but what forms should these take? Culturally, there would be similarities with all in our society. But I think many struggle to find what is genuine and meaningful and are burdened by all that is not. This year I went to my, Quotable Lewis, an Encyclopedic Selection of Quotes from the Complete Published Works of C. S. Lewis. I was hoping to find ennobling thoughts about the way we celebrate Christmas. I was surprised. There were only 3 selections under the heading of "Christmas". Each expressed the same sentiment. This quote from, "Letters to an American Lady" is representative.
"I feel exactly as you do about the horrid commercial racket they have made out of Christmas. I send no cards and give no presents except to children."
Hummm. This has been a problem much longer than I suspected.

For Den and me, the objective at this time of year is to find ways to commemorate and celebrate the birth of Christ that are genuine. We never gave up giving, we just found other outlets. This year we did a number of new things that we will weave in to our lives as traditions. One was the Evening Prayer and quiet meditation time at St. John's. That was replenishing to the spirit at this hectic time. Being bell-ringers for the Salvation Army was another activity we enjoyed. We started observing Advent for the first time. We ordered a copy of Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas and read from it, not daily, but often. It is always enjoyable to receive the insights of great thinkers. Cathy and Ellen, the concerts you give with Voces Angelorum are "not to be missed"! I'm sure the search will grow and change each year. The quest continues. I would love to hear what ya'll find true and meaningful at Christmas time.

Ellen, I'm looking forward to hearing about your trip. Especially about new yarn for your stash and the Moscow Cat Theater.

Sharon

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Here they are

The four completed scarfs. The color is a bit off. My computer whiz daughter says I need to upgrade my digital camera. The wall behind is blue, not brown. LtoR the scarfs are black fancy fur, purple or brown variegated fancy fur, black boa with a little silver and pink variegated fancy fur. It may sound strange that I am not sure of the brown or purple. I thought it was purple in the store, at home it looked brown, now it looks purple again. May have to do another one and find someone colorblind to give this one to.(And I call myself an artist and have always had a good eye for matching colors, like singers have a good ear for music, but it is slipping.) They are all Bernat yarns and I am working on one more that is black with small blue yarn balls randomly scattered. I cropped the picture in another program and saved it but apparently the crop did not hold or something so please excuse the background clutter.
Christmas shopping and grocery buying is almost complete, wrapping yet to do. I am in the process of putting my tree up today. I will dismantle it either Epiphany or Valentine's Day or Easter. A former daughter in law sent me a small live fir decorated with angels which I have in the kitchen. Directions say I can repot it in a larger pot for future Christmases or plant it outside. I am leaning towards the pot and keeping it on the kitchen porch.
Back to knitting, I have a baby blanket and a shawl in progress. I want to crochet a scarf for a friend who is bereaved but I have to get the yarn, nothing in my stash is appropriate. I believe Walmart has Homespun yarn. If not, maybe Janet's.
Only four days until Christmas. Where did the time go? But I really don't get the Christmas spirit until Christmas Eve.

Cheers. Naomi

Monday, December 19, 2005

Ellen and her musical debut on the radio

For those of you that do not know this (shhhhhh - Ellen does not know that I am blogging this) - Ellen reads for the Radio Reading Service.

The Radio Reading Service of the Public Broadcast Center provides a service to people in the community who are unable to use printed materials due to visual impairment or physical disability. Funded by the Florida Department of Education, the service employs community volunteers to read local newspapers, magazines and other printed material over a special radio station.

Ellen decided to add an extra kick to her reading today. She sang some of the editorial jingles in Tallahassee Democrat. If you go to this page:
http://www.fsu.edu/~wfsu_fm/rrs/index.htm

Go to Monday's Democrat - and go to about 46 minutes - you will hear Christmas music with a political slant. You are in for a real treat!
The political tunes are not necessarily those of Ellen's but are what are written on the editorial page of the Tallahassee Democrat. Don't hold her responsible for some of the lyrics - she is merely the messengervocalist.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Rainy Day Activity

Hey Cathy, Ellen and Naomi,
Cold and rainy all day long. Blechk! Denny and I decided to make brownies. I go through phases with brownies. Kind of on a brownie quest. For a while I preferred cakey ones. Lately it's fudgey. Here is the recipe for the brownies we baked today. They're really good. Den threw in an extra handful of chocolate chips and we used some of the Elliot pecans my dad shared with us. Then Den was inspired to add a teaspoon of vanilla. We've made this recipe before, the vanilla was a nice addition. We had a cup of coffee, a couple of brownies and enjoyed the rain.

Cathy, I love the Dancing Grannies. They're funky and jazzy, it's hard to believe they come from a traditional pattern. Ellen, your sweater is lovely. Great color on you and looks like a good fit, too.

I have been working on the Noro hat off and on...had to rip it out three times. I got a mobius loop in it twice and messed up the knitting the third time. On the positive side, I got to try 3 different cast-ons ;-) Like the brownies, I'm on a cast-on quest. At first I tried the knitted cast-on, next the long tail cast-on (Sally Melville, in her book, The Knitting Experience, Purl Stitch, suggests estimating yarn length for long-tail cast-on for a hat as 2.5 times the circumference of your head...it was right on), the last was the reverse e-wrap. For the Noro hat, it seemed like the first 2 created too thick an edge for this hat. The reverse e-wrap, though a booger to knit the first row, was just right to begin this hat. To avoid a mobius loop you have to make sure all the cast-on stitches are lined up straight when you knit the first row. If there is a twist, it keeps knitting in a twist. I am using Noro Kureyon 90. The picture on the left shows the twist. The one below shows the colors better. I love this yarn. The best price for it is at Little Knits
Kureyon felts well and is the original yarn for the Booga Bag. I wish I could stock up for a ton of projects.
Well, it looks like I stayed up way too late again...it's 2:35 ahoy Hope I can make it to Sunday School in the morning...AAAH!
Sharon

Friday, December 16, 2005

Broken promise

Ellen, Cathy and Sharon,
I promised myself I would not blog until I had time to take a picture of the completed scarfs but I can't wait. I have to rave about Ellen's sweater and Amaryllis. They are both beautiful. I have seen Cathy's Dancing Grannies hat and her other hat plus her socks and now that she is free of school for a couple of weeks I am sure she will be taking pictures. I finished the last of the scarfs last night and I have to shoot them this weekend as I will ship most of the scarfs Monday via UPS. And I am continuing to work on the grey variegated shawl.
In a moment of temporary insanity I agreed to be treasurer of the ECW for the president who is a friend. I declined previously. And of course this week I had to prepare a financial statement and create a proposed 2006 budget from the figures we arrived at in executive session. It goes before the general membership tomorrow. Some of the old biddies can argue for hours on spending 10 cents. Makes it hard sometimes to maintain ones religion.
Finished my Christmas shopping today except for one item. I went to Walmart to get that one and they had no electric carts available so I have to try again. Sue, from Tallahassee, is coming up tomorrow for lunch at Old Mexico and I am looking forward to the visit with her. We first met in 1964. Cheers. Naomi

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Picture Time!




Dear Cathy, Naomi, and Sharon - Here are the booties, and my Christmas amaryllis, "Chico." I love living in a climate where you can plant the annual amaryllis in the garden and enjoy it for several years. They do need periodic dividing, though, or they will just stop blooming.

Cathy, you gave me too much credit for working on one project at a time. Right now I have on needles: 2 socks (from different pairs) and a hat to go with the booties. There is also a scarf that is all knit but only half assembled. (Why would anyone knit a scarf that needs to be put together?) In the queue are a baby blanket using this pattern, an Elsepeth Lavold Silky Wool tank top, a Zephyr lace shawl, and lots of socks. Of course, these knitted balls may jump right to the front of the line.

I loved your commentary on gauge. I usually have the opposite problem of things turning out too large because I have a very relaxed attitude toward knitting. Have you seen this blogger's exercise in swatching? This woman doesn't have a relaxed attitude toward anything, and must have way too much energy.

Gotta flit! See you tonight, Cathy.

Ellen

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Got Gauge? Lesson Learned

Ellen,
Your zephyr sweater is lovely - I admire your ability to remain on one project at a time. I would bet in the blog world you are a minority. So, all 3 of the people that might read this blog outside of us folks that officially blog - do you work on more than one project at a time or stick to just one?
Now Naomi and Sharon, did you notice....
When Ellen travels, she is never far from a yarn shop. She's a yarn magnet -- that or she either strategically plans her travels around the nearest yarn shop.

Of course, unlike Ellen, I am much less disciplined and have many projects going on - one is being kept under wraps until further notice. However, a baby blanket it coming along nicely, along with a quick diversion of this:


Dancing Grannies is the name of this pattern and it was quite fun. However, there is a little problem. No Granny will be able to wear this hat unless the Granny is about 4 years old. Wouldn't one think if you knitted a Dancing Granny hat, that it would be for an adult?
Well, one must follow the directions better and FOLLOW THE GAUGE... let's do the math...

12 or 13 sts per 4 inches
cast on 72 stitches
So....the circumference should be about.... 24 inches around... correct?

Well.... if I had done my homework, I would KNOW I had 14 stitches per 4 inches so that would give me a circumference around the hat of about 20 inches which is WHY it won't fit on my head.

ANOTHER FACTOR: It called for bulky yarn... I used worsted, BUT I DID double the yarn, so that should have done it. NOPE, it's all in the gauge.
Next time... use larger needle... check gauge... check gauge... check gauge....

Interested in pattern?? Check here - did a Google search going back to pattern to link to this blog - typed in dancing granny knit - and whoa... 1st link was an EYE OPENER -

Knit group tonight was small but good - there were 4 of us and I got some good tips from Martha on socks. All I can say is that the Socks that Rock yarn is living up to its reputation! WOW!
Cathy

Zephyr is Complete!



Dear Cathy, Naomi, and Sharon - I am so happy to report a finished project: the Zephyr top is ready to wear. It is knitted with two strands of 2/18 Zephyr on #8 needles, using this pattern. I love Knitty.com; the patterns I've tried have been reliable and imaginative, and the articles are informative. I would like to try this pattern, but I'm not ready to commit too far into the future.

Last night I made one bootie for a friend's newly-adopted baby girl. Nobody had one-bootie syndrome, though, because they are so cute you can't wait to finish both. The pattern is from Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Hoverson, but I have redone the cuff instructions because in three tries I have never been able to make the printed instructions work. There has to be a mistake.

Cathy, we missed you last night at Sawmill Academy, but I understand that it is a long drive for a short concert. There were at least seven absent singers (that could be a verse of the 12 days of Christmas) because of sickness, exams, or other commitments. We sang a lot of Christmas carols and songs with the girls, and only about 5 of our own pieces.

Between Christmas and New Years Gary and I are going to New York to visit Camille and Alexa. On the last night we are staying near Alexa on Long Island at an inn that she says is a stone's throw from a knitting shop. The other highlight of the trip will be attending the Moscow Cats Theatre. We'll probably add a museum or two.

Gotta get started on my Christmas cards.

Ellen

Thursday, December 08, 2005

AAARRGH, Mateys

G'day Ellen, Cathy and Naomi,
Thanks for the warm welcome aboard the good ship Plays with Pointy Things. Following the nautical theme, I'm trying to get my sea legs around here.

I'm looking forward to the concert by Voces Angelorum this evening. Wish the weather was better. Good luck with work, Ellen. I used to be the clerk for my little town of Brinson and was responsible for the finances (though technically the Council was, but you know how that goes). It was an interesting but sometimes frustrating job. Brinson is so small (pop. 225), I doubt its budget would even show up as a blip next to the State of Florida's.

This morning my mind has been rummaging through memories of events of the past year. It was a year ago, almost to the day, when I awoke to an interview with Charles Witmer on WFSU. He was promoting the Christmas concert for Voces Angelorum. Most of the time the radio doesn't even register when it first goes off. I'm too drowsy. But I think this was fate. Attending that concert, I reconnected with Cathy after having drifted apart for a few years. An existing friendship rebloomed. In turn, this led me back to the Episcopal Church and the wonderful congregation at St. John's, where both Cathy and Naomi attend. This led to the Prayer Shawl Ministry, learning to knit and the knitting group...new friends (Ellen among them) and a new hobby. Most oddly, now I'm a blogger! I guess that's why they call it the "web of life". Somehow everything is connected. Though I doubt that is a nautical term!

Blogging has led to a peculiar urge...to carry my camera with me at all times. Now I have to figure out how to post photos. No! No! Don't anyone tell me (yet anyway). There is a little icon up top I'm going to try.

Hope to see you this evening,
Sharon

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Yo, Sharon!

Cathy, Naomi, Sharon -
Have you ever noticed how often you get "welcomed aboard" when you start a new job, even if it is hundreds of miles from any body of water? I guess it is just another of those nautical terms that came ashore and joined common parlance. One of the most entertaining features of the Jack Aubrey books (by Patrick O'Brien) is how they reveal the nautical roots of so many common expressions. Anyway, welcome aboard our little blogship, Sharon. She's a good one, by and large (which is another nautical term.)

Last night I saw progress on a projects that had become a source of guilt and self-loathing. The Zephyr pullover is complete, except for working in the loose ends and final blocking. It is so soft and light that I may not get to wear it until next spring, and if one of the cats decides to give me a clawful hug while I'm wearing it I doubt it will survive.

Cathy, the colorful baby blanket is beautiful. It is very tropical, too. Is the nursery done up in parrots and vines?

I am getting my Christmas present today: a new dishwasher should be installed when I get home! The old one has not gotten the dishes very clean for years and I'm excited about the prospect of washing dishes only once. I'll give you a customer review after I've used it for a few weeks.

Speaking of reviews, I've seen two movies since I last posted. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang is a funny, smart parody of the hard-boiled detective movie. It has its moments of violence, but the whole movie is so entertaining that I was not offended. Robert Downey, jr. is wonderful, and the rest of the cast is on the same level. Walk the Line has great acting and music, but I thought it was painfully long. The "redemptive power of music and a good woman" theme is getting tiresome, even if it is true in this case. The movie is worth seeing for Reese Witherspoon and the music, but I don't think it's the best movie of the season.

I'm very hopeful about making it to the concert on Thursday, but it depends on the Florida Legislature. If the special session has not adjourned I'll have to be at work in case I'm needed for some property tax issue. Hope that doesn't happem, and that I'll see you all tomorrow night.

Ellen

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Welcome Sharon

Sharon and I met throught he Artists Guild almost 20 years ago and she is multitalented and involved in many things.
Last night I listened to the three Scottish tenors while I tried to finish the 2nd scarf for Christmas giving. I did not quite finish as during the more spirited musical numbers I found myself using the knitting needle as a baton keeping the beat. I may not be able to sing but I can keep time. I finished it today while watching Baryshnikov and Gelsey in the Nutcracker on PBS and am almost half way with the third one. I have to shop for beads to finish them and then I will post pictures.
The baby blanket is on hold right now. The mother-to-be is having problems and I suppose I am afraid to go on at this time.
The grey shawl is progressing slowly but once I finish the Christmas presents I will finish it.

I am excited that Voces Angelorum will be singing in my backyard Thursday night. The church has an elevator I believe, must figure out how to get to it as the steps are out of the question right now.
Naomi

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Warm Welcome

A most hearty welcome to Sharon who just posted on our blog. I have known Sharon for many years, and know she has many talents!

And, her taste in music is quite good since she likes the music of John Rutter!

Tomorrow our group, Voces Angelorum, will be singing in the state capitol building in Tallahassee. The acoustics in there are glorious to sing in as it rings throughout the long halls of the old building.

On the needles, I have a baby blanket I am trying to move through quickly. It's easy to memorize, and I can go lickety split on it. It's just the size that takes the time! The picture you see has three colors. There is now pastel pink and I am almost through with that color now, getting ready to add another color. Now I need to think of what direction of color I want to go! Hmmmmm --- decisions decisions!
Also on the needles is a sock with Lorna's Laces Lorikeet colorway. Picture will be forthcoming soon!

New Here

Hi Cathy, Ellen and Naomi,
Thanks for inviting me to be a part of your blogging world. We all have a lot in common...knitting, gardening, reading for a start. I am not a singer, but choral music is a big favorite of mine. Ellen and Cathy, you know what a big fan I am of Voces Angelorum! Right now I'm listening to Christmas Night: Carols of the Nativity, by the Cambridge Singers, directed by the inimitable John Rutter....so sweet! My DH got our stereo back up this evening. It's been about 2 years out of commission. I do have a boom-box, but I didn't realize how much I missed the system Dennis rigged up for us. It is wonderful to be able to be able to hear the clarity, depth & detail - just in time for the Christmas Season.

This is partially a test post.
So here goes....
Sharon
Swooning over the music