Sticks, Strings & Other Things

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Closing Ceremonies meet Bathroom Renovations

I apologize for being late with my promised report from the Olympic Closing Ceremonies. I have been distracted with trying desperately to finish the bathroom renovation before my in-laws get back from their winter vacation to the Cape. Mind you, this renovation began back in July when they were on their summer vacation. Our BIL came up and spent the better part of a week with us gutting the bathroom and helping to install all new fixtures and a new floor. We took out the ancient 9000 pound cast iron tub (it is now living happily as a horse waterer across town, much to my delight) and installed a beautiful HUGE shower-for-two. Since Dad's stroke it is increasingly more and more difficult for him to be climbing in and out of a tub and since we are all shower and not bath people we all agreed that a big fat shower-for-two was the way to go.

We took down a wall, built a new wall, installed new fixtures, laid a new floor from the sub-sub-floor up, forgot about insulating the new shower piping and drain system (which has led to its own set of challenges that we will have to address in a more permanent manner come spring), sanded, washed and prepped for painting, stripped down the door which had at least 14 coats of paint, got one coat of paint up on most of the walls...and the folks came home. Three days before we expected them which promptly put a halt to the work in progress. Why, you ask? Suffice it to say that trying to accomplish home renovations when my FIL is at home is sort of like trying to take a shower alone when you have a toddler in the house. Impossible because the toddler wants to be glued to your hip AND wants a shower themselves whether they are capable of taking one or not. :) Living with a stroke survivor is a challenge much as living with a toddler is a challenge. You love them BUT...

So at this point I've been painting and painting and painting. DH has been drilling for molly bolts to hang the towel rings, TP holder and paper towel holder. He also painted the ceiling cuz he's the tall one. We're almost done.

Enough about my bathroom...on to the Olympics!

Closing Ceremonies are traditionally much more laid back and far less serious than the Opening Ceremonies. Or so they said during the broadcast. Yes, I can see how serious giant Moon and Sun balloons are to say nothing about the somber Sparks of Passion flame-headed skating dudes and the Ferrari spinning donuts. LMAO All in all, the Closing Ceremonies were very nice. The Italian cross-country skiier receiving another Gold medal from his sister was a lovely touch for Italy who was granted one more opportunity to belt out their national anthem en masse. I was knitting frantically through the ceremonies trying to finish DH's socks but I did take a moment or two to jot down a few notes in anticipation of this report so follow along...

Italy chose to end the Olympics with a nod to Carnivale. Now, you may have noticed that I'm a devotee of New Orleans and I adore celebrating Mardi Gras in the Cresent City but when the Ceremonies began with a herd of CLOWNS...I was less than thrilled. I'm not a fan of clowns. :/ I find them creepy at best.

The music was an improvement over the Opening Ceremonies. Happy Italian music vs. bad American Disco music. Easy choice.

The USA baseball caps weren't nearly as "Oh! I want one!" as the USA berets.

Lovely to see Emily Hughes with her teammates. How much fun was that for her? Hopefully, she will have an injury-free four years because I think she's capable of even greater things in Vancouver. For a kid who was called up at the last minute she was mighty impressive in Italy! Oh, and I hope Sasha Cohen heard about how that silly Flying Tomato snowboard kid was trying to impress her with his Gold medal. It was cute.

Speaking of much do you think the Canadian teammates were being offered for those Vancouver 2010 scarves?? Very cool! And didn't you just LOVE the Mayor of Vancouver waving the flag?! I cried and I'm not ashamed. Almost makes one wish to be Canadian for that one day, eh? The most decorated athlete at the Games was not only a Canadian but a woman, too. How proud are they?

But then it was "Canadian Carnivale" and Avril Lavigne. What, Celine wouldn't come? Alex Trebeck was busy? Michael J. Fox couldn't travel? Good grief, what were they thinking?

I'm impressed with Joey Cheek's charitable donations and less than impressed with Chad Hedrick and Shani Davis' immature antics.

The USA men's hockey team are whiners and maybe playing professionals should be reconsidered in four years. We might have done better with amateurs and they would have been happy for the experience.

The Ice Dancing Soap Opera involving the married Italian couple who came out of retirement for the Olympics in their home country was incredible! You can't make up stuff like that! I meant to write about it but my Knitting Olympics knitting kept me from doing so. All I'll say now is this...if you missed it, it's too bad. As many stories as the Olympics generates, this was the best of this Games.

I've become a dedicated armchair curler. I've never even seen it live but I'm so convinced that given the chance I'd be good at it! Put me in, coach...I'm ready to play! lol

I will miss my favorite Olympic commercial. "Oh, no! It's Apolo! What do the other teams say? Oh, no! It's Apolo! ::handclappystuff::" It cracked me up from the first time I saw it to the last time I saw it.

And then there is Bode. I still love him and my DD still wants to kiss him. It's amusing that the media can't seem to swallow the concept that this man lives his own life and answers to himself. They created an enormous hype around him and when he didn't perform to their expectations they attempted to crucify him. When he didn't care what they were saying it made them even more angry. I read an article in the Boston Herald yesterday by some woman who's name wasn't important enough to remember who slammed him for not caring that he didn't win medals. Bode has different goals and according to him, he met his own goals and was very happy with his Olympic experience. Would it have been "better" if he'd won medals? Maybe, maybe not. It isn't about winning and's about experiencing, finding the lessons for you and coming away being satisfied with yourself. It's about being part of something that's bigger than you are. Participation is important. If it was only about winning medals all those dozens of athletes who haven't a prayer of winning wouldn't even bother to show up and then where would the Olympics be? Come on home to NH, Bode. We still love you!

So now the 2006 Winter Games are over. I loved every minute of them. Yes, even the mostly boring to watch cross country skiing! I can hardly wait for the Summer Games in 2008!

Today is Mardi Gras. I'd like to close by wishing everyone a wonderful Fat Tuesday and...

laissez le bon ton roulez!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

On The Podium...Part Duh!

10:22 pm February 26, 2006.

They are done. They fit. DH loves them.

(Aren't his snowmen jammies cute? He's mostly asleep but let me take a pic anyway. If he'd been awake it might have been a tougher sell.)

I am worn out with grown-up sized socks and I vow not to knit even ONE stitch on ANYthing all day tomorrow!


Stay tuned tomorrow for my report from The Closing Ceremonies!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Darling, What Big Feets You Have!

As of this very minute...3:45 pm 2-22-06...this is where I am on the 2nd pair of Knitting Olympics socks. I don't know if I've said so yet but this is absolutely delicious yarn to knit with! Trekking (XXL)...get yourself some. Very soft and smooth, the colors are gorgeous and quite to my surprise as it's a superwash, I expected not to have as nice a hand as handwash wool gives but there is no stiffness at all. I'm liking it and I'll absolutely use it again. Which is a good thing because I have another skein in my stash.

I was asked at knitting group last night why I do my ribbing all the way to the heel. Or FROM the heel, in this toe-up case. I think the socks fit better that way. I don't like a baggy leg on a sock. Since these are for my DH I asked him what his preference was and he gave me a favorite sock which was ribbed from the heel to the top so that's what I did here. It's amazing how LARGE a guy's foot becomes when you are knitting him socks one stitch at a time on teeny toothpick needles with finely spun yarn! DH is a big guy and all but it isn't like he's wearing Shaquille O'Neil-sized shoes! According to the shoe guy at Finish Line (blatant plug cuz I'm pleased with them this week) DH's shoe size is at the top end of average which is why it's always an adventure to try and find sneakers for him. His size is usually sold out because so many people wear it. According to me, the woman who loves him enough to knit him socks, his foot is HUGE! >g<

Stay tuned for more reports from the Olympic Venue but for now...back to knitting! ;)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Power Outages and a Pathetic Sunday

May I present to you...the 2nd pair of socks. I'm knitting these for my DH. I (too easily) made my Knitting Olympics goal so I increased the difficulty in the hope of impressing the judges, joined the 2 Pairs of Socks Dash and I'm knitting away to get this pair finished by the end of Closing Ceremonies. The first sock can be seen on the needles. I'm still knitting toe-up as that was the challenge initially but I did change the cast-on. I started Friday the 17th about mid-day and took yesterday off completely and laid about looking pathetic and feeling very sorry for myself as I have a head cold. I didn't get a chance to blog before now because of the power outages on Friday and Saturday and all the pathos on Sunday. My poor 'puter tweaked and I've lost everything again, too. You may have noticed there are some >koff< "challenges" with my Olympic buttons and my photo but I hope to have those adjusted by this evening. Are you feeling sorry for me yet?

I've been faithfully watching the Olympic coverage on TV. Where else do you get to see things like biathalon and curling except during the Olympics? I don't know how we survive without it! I don't know about you but as many skiiers and 'boarders as I see around here, no one has ever skiied into *my* back yard, thrown themselves to the ground, shot at a target and then skiied off again. Well, there was that one time...but the guy swore he thought the '57 pick-up was an enemy tank in camo and we all know that he doesn't need his meds anymore since the "cure" and all...heehee

Have you noticed that virtually all of the biatheletes are in the military? I don't think that's a coincidence. We don't see much biatheletic competition on the high school level anymore. My DD tells me that curling is all the rage this year in Florida. Go figure. Now I have to take a broom on vacation! It's a mad plot, I tell you.

Poor Bode has had a rough go on the slopes (and reportedly, off the slopes) but he still has opportunity to medal so I haven't lost all hope yet. I think it's nothing short of miraculous that he didn't rip his leg off when he caught that edge and went off course during the Super G (I think it was the Super G). C'mon Bode! We're still loving you here in NH!

Last night, the poor ice dancers couldn't seem to keep their feets (or their partner's feets!) underneath them! Maybe they were distracted by the juxtaposition of their neon costumes against the weirdly-colored-if-you're-wearing-neon rink wall. Rumor has it that the French judge walked out in disgust and the Olympic Committee is bringing in the Magic Fridge commercial guys who will be scoring high for creativity in the Ice Sprawling segment.

Speaking of ice skating costumes... on the first night of competition most of the ice dancing women looked like Vegas brides gone bad. Last night they just looked mostly naked except for the stragically placed neon Post-It notes and fringe which I would think could be a bit distracting. Imagine those Post-It notes floating about in the arena because they have come loose! The guys either look like companion neon Post-It notes or terribly faux Vegas waiters gone bad. I suppose they are aiming for "edgy" and "modern" and maybe even "we're in Italy so we're going to push the fashion envelope" but IMHO that envelope should be resealed, put in a wine bottle (Bode has some empty ones, I'm sure) and buried in a "where we went wrong" capsule under the entrance to the Olympic Village.

Johnny "The Swan Guy" Weir's costume was gorgeous. It's just too bad his performance hasn't lived up to his costume. If anyone spots his missing aura, please return it to the Olympic Village so he can skate the way he thinks he should. I think it's out shopping for another body to inhabit. Maybe Bode can use an extra aura...

Watching Cross Country skiiing is boring. I don't care what the back-stories are, it's like watching golf and that's none too exciting. Although seeing the sister of one of the relay/team/pursuit/whatever-they-are-called 4x10 guys present him with the Gold medal was quite nice.

I like the arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner they are playing at the medals ceremonies. I'm hoping to hear more of it.

I still LOVE the snowboarding events! I took a break from the Olympics yesterday to watch the Daytona 500 (well, ok...NBC stopped Olympic coverage so they could broadcast the race and I was too pathetic to change the channel) and there were those adorable Gold and Silver winning snowboarding girls Hannah and Gretchen riding with Wally and starting the race! How much fun are they having? My DH is quite worried that they won't be able to get back to Italy and participate in the Closing Ceremonies so if anyone knows what's going on with that, please let me know!

And how was your day...?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

On The Podium!

9:06 pm Thursday Feb. 16, 2006.

They are finished. They fit. DS loves them.

The k2p1 Crawl For The Gold Continues...

YAY! I've finished a sock and I'm well into the second one. It fits, too! I had a minor change in competition timing Monday afternoon when DH kidnapped me for an early Valentine's Day frolic. We both had other obligations Tuesday so we had gifts, shopping and way too much seafood dinner and I left off the knitting for the rest of Monday.

Tuesday brought about a change in equipment. My darling Gracie saw fit to chew off the end of one of my size 1 DPNs when I wasn't looking which led to a mad scramble in front of the Knitting Olympic Committee to have the change in equipment approved. I had to switch from the short needles program to the long needles program and the change was approved in a matter of minutes. I think the members of the Committee have cats. Tuesday also saw the finish of the first "leg" of the Sock Pair Event while I was at knitting group. Shan and I hummed the Olympic Theme and I started the second sock. And ripped it out. Started the second sock again. And ripped it out. Started it a third time, got it right and was off into toe increases. Or so I thought...

Wednesday morning I woke up, picked up the sock, confirmed my suspicion that I'd done the toe increases wrong and ripped it out again. The good news is that by 8:00 am I was back on my game and by 9:00 pm last night when I surrendered to the lure of a warm bed and an early sleep I had finished the toe increases, the foot and had the heel turned. Once the back of the heel is complete it's the Home Rib to the finish bind off!

That's all for now...I'm off to conduct a tour of the LYS, do some mad bargain hunting and have lunch with friends. My knitting is packed in its basket and I'm aiming for LOTS of knitting time today!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Winter Things That Begin With "S", Oh, no! It's Apolo! and Bode Miller

The USA Olympic Team has taken a hard blow with the withdrawal of figure skater Michelle Kwan. After everything she went thru to convince the committee she could perform at the appropriate Olympic level she apparently has decided she can't after all and is going home. The silver lining for us spectators is we won't have to *watch* her fall on her butt. Oh, come on, you *know* she would have, the poor kid. Emily Hughes will be in Torino to take her place on the team as soon as her dad shovels out their driveway and they re-open the nearest airport to fly her to Italy.

Some Knitting Olympic competitors have also suffered set-backs and there have been a few reported trips to the frog pond but like the true creative types they are, they've worked thru their personal barriers, made appropriate changes to their equipment and training regimen and are forging on with true Olympic spirit! Be proud of them, they've earned it. Check out the Team Socks and Team NH blogs for details and for photos of the beautiful work being produced with the incentive generated by both the Knitting Olympics and the Winter Games. I guarantee you'll be impressed and maybe even inspired.

Updates on my own progress are all good. I am proud to report that I'm well ahead of schedule on the first sock. As you can see, I've finished the foot and I'm ribbing up the leg now. I did have a bit of a glitch turning the heel but I only had to take out a row or two to find the error (dropped a stitch which led to a miscount) and I was back on track with no penalty. I expect I'll not only finish this pair but (dare I say it?) I'm considering upping the ante to a second pair designated for DH. Finishing one pair even if they are Godzirra-size AND toe-up just isn't turning out to be the challenge I'd envisioned and to stay true to the event I think I have to commit to TWO pair. What do you think? Is it too late to enter for a second pair? Surely the Speed Knitting Team could use another member, yes?

I blame my Sunday speed-knitting on Mother Nature, Bode Miller and the Flying Tomato! We were a little snowbound here yesterday but only ended up with a few inches out of the Storm That Closed The East Coast. DH took me downstreet for breakfast at the local Diner where I bored, ummm,no...ENLIGHTENED everyone about the Knitting Olympics (they were fascinated and amused but assured me of their support). After picking up a few groceries "just in case" we headed home. Other than that brief foray out into the storm, I spent the day glued to the TV and knitting.

After an afternoon filled with watching the fantastic USA Women's Hockey Team throw their second shut-out gauntlet down in front of the rest of the Women's Hockey teams, I watched American's Shaun White and Danny Kass garner Gold and Silver respectively in the Snowboarding Halfpipe event. Now, it used to be that the Downhill Skiing was the most exciting thing to watch at the Winter Games for sheer edge-of-your-seat action but in the last few years it's the Snowboarding Halfpipe that does it for me. Those kids are amazing and I found myself knitting furiously as they spun and twisted and jumped seemingly impossible heights above the gnarly 'pipe against the azure blue Italian skies. Go Team USA! Shout out to Japan for their plaid 'boarding pants! Loved 'em!

Speedskater Chad Hedrick will be carrying a Gold medal home after winning in the 5000 Meter Speedskating event altho' his quest for 5 Gold medals may be in jeopardy after the withdrawal of Shani Davis from the team pursuit event. The USA medal count stands at 2 Gold and 1 Silver and plenty more to be had over the next 12 days. Poor Apolo Anton Ohno put a finger down wrong on the ice skate of a competitor and put himself right out of contention in the 1500 Shorttrack Speedskating but he has other opportunities AND IMHO the best Olympics inspired commercial. I just love the guys who do the hand-slappy cheerleading "Oh, no! It's Apolo!" commercial! Cracks me up everytime!

And then there is Bode. What can you say that hasn't already been said about this perfectly adorable and incredibly talented native NH ski bum? In my world, Bode is the epitome of the NH state motto "Live Free Or Die". He answers to no one and nothing but himself and isn't afraid to tell it like it is. Love him or hate him (I'm on the "love" team) he is always refreshing and candid and gives his all and part of someone else's that he borrowed to his sport. He placed an unfortunate 5th yesterday but that's ok, he'll be back. Allow me to mention that he put in an incredible performance on a NEW pair of skis he'd NEVER raced with before. His teammate, who shall remain nameless ;P, changed from *his* new skis at the very last minute and gave a less than impressive run considering he was the American "favorite" going in. Love you, Bode! NH is rooting for you straight, wasted, sober or hung-over, you da bestest, dude! Oh, and my DD wants to kiss you.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Let The Games Begin...Finally!

After watching the clock all day, I cast on RIGHT at 2:00 pm and got straight to work. And RIGHT at 2:30 pm, DH burst into the house and said,"Come on! We have to go to the bank! We got our tax refund check!" >sigh< It isn't that I don't want the money, really, it isn't but I was on a roll here, people! I was in the groove, on my mark, at the peak of my game...well, you get the picture. So I took a 30 minute break, feeling rather wimpy for breaking a mere 30 minutes into my event, and we headed off to the bank to do the income tax refund thang and because it was on the way, to the library to pick up the new KnitGrrl book I had reserved. More on the book later...

I have to say that I was VERY disappointed that I couldn't actually watch the Opening Ceremonies at 2:00 pm. You'd think with 900 channels on the TV here that SOMEone would have set up a channel for AllTheOlympicsAllTheTime but no. I have to knit along Olympicless and wait until 8:00 pm when the network coverage was aired. By the time the show started I was well into my sock, my M&Ms and my Killian's. "Drink First...Then Knit!" I could have blamed the Killian's but there were other people watching with me who weren't drinking and they were seeing the same weirdness I was so I know it wasn't the beer. I realize that the Italians are known for being cutting-edge in an aesthetics/fashion/we're molto-modern sort of way but all I can say is what were they thinking?! It's hard to describe without a lot of very Italianate gesturing and arm waving (to say nothing of the looooong breaks while I laugh my head off and wipe the tears) so I'll just put a couple of thoughts down here:

Sparks of Passion segueing into Ice. Can't view this as a positive omen.
The waltzing teenagers in the spotted dresses/tuxedoes were strange enough but when they added the giant rolling cow statues AND the "moo-ing" over the classical music...I put away the Killian's because frankly, I wasn't sure anymore.
Did Laura Bush do the wave with the rest of the spectators and why didn't the "dignitaries" have to don white capes like the spectators immediately around the arena floor?
The Sun and Moon-faced balloons were beautiful. The meaning escaped me but they were very artistic. Might make good tattoos.
The Dove of Peace was pretty but until that moment they just looked liked so many white spiders crawling about on a giant web. >shudder<>
Alps as a fashion choice. LMAO! What woman on earth wants her hips likened to gigantic mountains??
A Ferrarri doing donuts. Oh yes, molto Olympicia! OK, next time the Olympics are held in the USA...I say we combine the Daytona 500 and the Opening Ceremonies! If the Italians can do it, so can we! The athletes can all ride in in NASCAR race cars and line up in the pits. "Gimme a Budweiser, Bubba...there's the checkered flag and the figure skating gold medalist is gonna climb the fence now!!"
Did they use bootblack on Luciano's hair, beard and (only half of) his eyebrows?? For such a >koff< "fashion concious" people, that was one baaaad dye job.
Yoko Ono??? Umm, 'nuff said.

Even Bob Costas was confused, bless his heart. There was a significant amount of "no talking" air time and I'm sure they were all practicing the "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all" rule. That or they had the mics turned off so they could laugh *their* heads off and wipe the tears.

The best part, as always, was the March Of The Athletes. I wept at the visions of the countries with only one or two or three athletes. I just love that kind of dedication. There's a tall, beautiful dreadlocked man from the Bahamas. A cross-country skier, of all things! The only athlete his country sends to the Winter Games proudly marching in behind his very own Alp-fashioned GirlWithSign waving the Bahamian flag like it's his job. Now *that* shows Sparks of Passion! I'm rooting for him! Apparently he attended UNH right here in NH as a cross-country scholarship student! Yup, I'm hoping for a medal for the Bahamas!

As for my own event in the Knitting Olympics...I feel as if I am right on track. The start for the toe-up sock event was smooth altho' for the next sock I'm going to try to tighten up the stitches just a bit on the first couple of rows. I have completed the increases thru the toe and I'm knitting thru the foot now. I know it looks kind of funny in the pic but it looks much better *on* the foot. The yarn is knitting very smoothly and I'd knit with it again. DS likes the way the stripes are working up. I tried the toe bit on his Godzirra-foot and it fits like it were made for him! Wait! It *is* made for him! Funny how that works. >wink<>waving and snapping photos of my team like a good Olympian<

Stay tuned for more updates from the Olympic Village. I'm going to hang out at the Olympic Village shopping center today *with* my knitting, of course! Why, you ask? Because I need more yarn, natch!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Reporting From The Knitting Olympics Village

Jo here reporting from the Knitting Olympics Village aka the WorldWideWeb. I'm with the Team USA Sock Knitters, representing Team NH. It's about >checkingclock< 22 hours from Opening Ceremonies and the training has reached the "intense" stage. Knitters all over the world are sanding wooden needles, delegating household chores and stocking up on quick-to-fix meals for their families. Yarn has been chosen, patterns are copied in triplicate (just in case), knitting bags, baskets and bowls are filled and ready to serve. Swatching is complete (mostly) and beverages of choice are warming/cooling/breathing or being consumed NOW in the hopes of allieviating tension! There is plenty of chocolate here in the Village but I heard there could be a run on M&Ms by the end of the week so get yours now if you haven't already!

As for my own training, I have burned the first choice sock pattern and I'm now onto writing my own as I knit. :D Doesn't *that* sound like fun? I have swatched and I'm all set to cast on at 2:00 pm tomorrow. I can hardly wait! I have copies of suggested cast-ons and heel options sitting in a file at the bottom of my computer screen should I need to quick-reference them and I have traced both of DS's Godzirra-feet onto card stock with all pertinent measurements written in. The middle school suggested that maybe I find another alternative to busting into class glassy-eyed and frantic to fit half-knitted socks smack in the middle of the day. Apparently they thought I might frighten some of the other children or disrupt something trivial like a test or something. It's the Olympics here! This is serious too, y'know! I want to know WHO gave them my blog addy so they knew my plan and why they think I'll be a frantic, swearing mess by the deadline? Hhhmmm? C'mon, fess up!

There is good news in the Olympic Village! After hunting high and low all over this huge place...I have found Team NH!! There are a whopping, umm, 5 of us but that's ok. We are a small state and it's all relative. We plan to win BIG! There is supposed to be an article about Team NH and the Knitting Olympics in this weekend's Concord edition of the Hippo. Are we cool or what? We're even getting press! And our button rocks! Check it out over there in the sidebar. Many thanks to KatWithaK for handling the Team NH blog. That's our dearly missed Old Man of The Mountain proudly sporting his knit cap on our button. No, Team's NOT a Band-Aid! Sheesh, some people's kids! Real men wear pink! ;P He fell and he can't get up but we still love him and everything he used to stand for.

Team Socks keeps growing and growing. There is a link over there for that blog, too. Trekcelt is the Captain of the team and kudos to her for a fantastic blog! We now have close to (if not more than) 40 members. There will be a whole lot of warm feet when this Olympics is over. Watch out for us...we have DPNs and we know how to use 'em! I'm tempted to poke Maine for that Band-Aid remark but I'm into Live Free or Die Trying right now so I'll let it "slide". >groan<>

Well, I have knitting group tonight so I have to get ready for that. I hope all my ladies are going to cheer me on in the Knitting Olympics. I'll be posting every day or so with brief updates because I don't want to use my knitting time for blogging. I'm going to pace myself and when I need to break I can check in here and see how my teammates are coming along.

Good luck to all...see you at the Games!!

Monday, February 06, 2006

M&Ms, Olympic Training and Petty Annoyances

My DH asked if he'd have to get in some oxygen for my training sessions for the Knitting Olympics. He's a funny, funny guy. All the training aids I need are in the pretty bowl in the photo. I am not a member of Team Chocolate by accident. I love M&Ms. You'll probably notice that there are no brown M&Ms left in my bowl. This is not a subliminal indication of prejudice in any way. It's only cuz, well, see, I like to eat my Ms one color at a time and this time the first color is brown. Now, I want you to know that I'm not anal about my Ms and I'm happy to share them. So if you walk by my bowl and idly grab a handful I don't mind what colors you have grabbed but *I* like to eat them one color at a time. I like to see the relationship the colors have to one another which changes when you randomly remove a color. It amuses me, so? ;P

Last night I decided to use the Superbowl time to train for the Knitting Olympics. After reading the pattern eleventynine times I realized that without materials in my hands I plain didn't GET it. So I got out some waste yarn and the needles and tried to make some sense of it. This entire concept is new to me. Two socks, two circular needles, two balls of yarn, knit at the same time, together, both socks on both needles. Confused? Imagine how I feel. See, I LOVE my DPNs. My favorite pair of needles in the entire needle collection is a set of bamboo DPNs, size 2.5, about 5 inches long. I use them for all kinds of things and if you were to tell me I could only keep one set of needles, they would be the ones, hands down, no argument. But the object of the Olympics is to challenge my skills, right? To make a rather longish story shortish, here is how the training session went:

1. Juggle 2 needles and 2 balls of yarn. Read pattern. Twice.

2. Cast on for 2 socks with 2 balls of yarn on 2 needles while juggling aforementioned objects AND reading pattern.

3. Read pattern again (and again to be sure) and realize that it's written wrong and you can't possibly "turn" your work now to knit so skip that step.

4. While continuing to juggle 2 needles and 2 balls of yarn, knit across cast on row of 1st sock. Realize that working yarn for 2nd sock is trapped somewhere below and can't come up between the two socks on the double needles and how in the good lord's name are you supposed to knit like that?!

5. Reread pattern while juggling 2 needles and 2 balls of yarn to see if pattern explains a solution for this dilemma and when it doesn't...

6. Rip out the 2 needles, roll the yarn back onto 2 balls and throw the pattern across the room.

7. Eat M&Ms.

Repeat steps 1 through 7 until you feel like stabbing pattern repeatedly with both needles in frustration. Remind self of skill level and years of experience and get out second Cafe du Monde fancyschmancy glove to knit instead while cheering for Seattle. Not that I'm really a Seattle fan but someone in this house had to root for them. Maybe daylight and a quieter house will be helpful so swear to self that you'll try again in the morning. After all, if it were easy, it wouldn't be the Olympics, right?

So today, after DH and No. 1 DS had gone to work, No. 2 DS had gone to school and the DInLaws were off to pool therapy, I tried again. I'm happy to report that I made better progress. I think I have the start figured out altho' the mystery of the working yarn in the middle is still perplexing. Each row I stranded off enough yarn to work the few stitches that are there and we'll see how that works out. Reagrdless of what the instructions say I'm going to try keeping the working yarn *above* the needles and see if that works at my next training session. The increases were no trouble until I read this helpful little instructional tip: "Continue working 1 knit round and 1 increase round until the toe section fits snugly around your toes. You will be trying the sock on frequently as you knit." WONderful! Except I'm not making the socks to fit MY feet! Now, No. 2 DS is an easygoing sort and while I think I can probably sneak his dear foot out of the blankets in the middle of the night without disturbing him at all should it be necessary, I doubt the middle school will approve of me popping in two or three or twelve times a day to fit his half knitted socks during class, Olympics or not! So now I'm not sure if this is the right project at all. >sigh<

Stay tuned for Olympic updates!

Bring on the annoyances! Other than the KO socks dilemma...a brief list of things that have intruded into my peace of mind lately...

1. Fast food counter help who tell you that their particular franchise doesn't accept the coupon you have when in reality it's about them not knowing how to key it in.
2. Endless spam in my email from Christian Singles dating services. Don't even get me started.
3. People in the 20 items or less line who break their 3 carriages of groceries up into SEVENTEEN separate "orders" to meet the 20 items or less designation. Really, do you think you're clever now?
4. Consistently getting 7 or 8 Chicken Fries at Burger King when I order a 9 piece! Sheesh, people! Can't you recognize an addict when you see one?! I NEED my 9 pieces and if I didn't, I would order 6!

And how was *your* day?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Tribute to New Orleans

I live in New Hampshire but my heart lives in New Orleans. Most of my knitting has been done for others. I tend to be a "process" knitter and once I'm done knitting something I don't seem to have much of an emotional attachment to it and I'm happy to gift it to someone who will love it. Until I saw the pattern for these fingerless gloves. They are so feminine and so delicate and then when I saw the name "Breakfast at The Cafe du Monde" Fingerless Gloves...I knew I had to knit them for me. One is complete sans the French silk ribbon to be woven into the eyelet trim and the second is now on the needles. So far, I'm loving them and the one that's finished is getting a lot of attention at the library where my knitting group meets. I *might* have enough yarn left to make another pair...

Next month my DH and I will be joining some friends for a mini-vacation at a resort/casino. We are going to be living large with a fancy suite, reservations for dinners, plenty of gambling, show tickets and a day at the spa for the ladies. These lovely gloves will be worn proudly with my "dress-up" clothes when we step out Friday or Saturday night! Ooo-la-la, indeed!

Knitting Olympics: USA Sock Team

Oh lords, what have I done to myself now??

Yarn Harlot is a brilliantly funny knitter/blogger/author who has challenged all of us knitters to join in on the Knitting Olympics. The basic premise is that you choose a project that is a challenge to your skills. You cast on during the Opening Ceremonies on Feb 10 and you must be finished by the end of Closing Ceremonies on Feb 26. You have 16 days to finish your chosen project and if you succeed, you will be gifted with a fine Gold Medal to proudly display on your website or blog or print out and hang on your wall.

So, I joined up. Yes, me...the girl who isn't much of a "joiner" is all over this Olympics thing. I have chosen to knit toe-up socks. Now, those who know me are well aware that I live, breathe and sleep knitting socks. BUT...I knit baby socks! Little, teeny, tiny, adorable, can-be-finished-in-one-day baby socks. Ok, I have ventured out into CHILDREN'S socks, too but let's be honest here...I have finished exactly ONE pair of adult sized socks in my whole knitting life and they took me what...6 months? (My daughter has them and I'm sure she'll remember exactly how long they took and will let us all know and now she knows why she only has one pair)

The socks I've chosen for the Knitting Olympics are adult-sized socks for my youngest son. He picked the yarn and the pattern was given to me by a knitting pal (thanks Shan!!). Both the yarn and pattern are from KnitPicks. Oddly enough, my son ended up picking the exact yarn that's shown in the pattern pic without ever seeing the pattern. It must be fate! They are knit toe-up, at the same time, together on 2 circular needles. I LOVE my DPNs and altho' I've heard rumors about this loopy thang for awhile but I haven't even read the pattern yet so it should be interesting! I would also like to mention that I've never knit anything under a deadline...I march to my own drum and don't like that kind of structure in my art. So now you see why this project is challenging enough that I felt it qualified me to represent the knitters of America in the 2006 Knitting Olympics!

Check out the link below and see if you want to join in the madness, errr, FUN of knitting along with thousands (yes, THOUSANDS, really, check it out) of us in the Knitting Olympics!

Wish me luck, people! Get out there and cheer for the USA Sock Team in the 2006 Knitting Olympics!
Wave your DPNs and circular needles high! C'mon...chant with me...KNIT 1, PURL 1...KNIT 1, PURL 1...KNIT 1, PURL 1.........

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

What Kind of Yarn am I??

You are Shetland Wool.
You are Shetland Wool.
You are a traditional sort who can sometimes be a

little on the harsh side. Though you look

delicate you are tough as nails and prone to

intricacies. Despite your acerbic ways you

are widely respected and even revered.

What kind of yarn are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

LOL!! Well, OK then. *I* am Shetland Wool! I can live with that, I guess. So...what kind of yarn are *you*?

Rabbit, rabbit

Happy February! Did any of you grow up believing that if "rabbit, rabbit" was the very first thing you uttered on the first day of a new month it would bring you luck? LOL Silly the things we don't let go of. Anything for a little luck, huh?

Today I'd like to show off a completed project. The sweater set belongs to my grand-nephew TheBabyCole. He is my sister's first grandchild and we are all madly in love with him. For him I knit an Aran sweater with matching roll-brim hat topped with corkscrews and socks. It was a mistake. :( The sweater pattern is terrific and wasn't tough to knit and the yarn is gorgeous but because it's varigated it hides all the fancy-schmancy stitch work I worked so hard on! Totally my fault for not thinking it out before getting past half done so I went ahead and finished it anyway. I doubt that TBC is scarred by it tho' and AuntieJo promises to do better next time! He has received other AuntieJo hand knits but I don't have pictures of those yet.

The other photo is of another pair of the Mittlets that I've been so hooked on these last few weeks. They are an adult XL size and belong to my son's tutor Jessie. She requested the colors and I think they are fun! They are knit with sport weight wool, are warm without being hot and take no time at all. Anyone who lives in a drafty old house (like me!) will appreciate a pair or three and there are eleventy gajillion patterns out there. If you can't find one or just want another one feel free to email me and ask...I'll be happy to send you mine. I highly recommend them for gift giving.

I'm frustrated by this photo posting thing. While reading other people's blogs (referred to as OPBs from now on) I see how they have all these cute link-like things on the right hand side of their pages usually labeled something like "completed projects" where one can click and see a slide show of wonderful hand knits. I so want to do that so if anyone can tell me how, I'd appreciate it! I can follow directions, really. When I want to anyway. I also want to add more links. I thought I had this process worked out but apparently I need to try again. I'm halfway there (I think) so be patient and I'll figure it out soon.