Monday, December 07, 2009

Radio Silence

So sorry I've been lax in posting on the blog.  The latest project is taking up a lot of time.

It's a joint afghan by a set of international contributors to a message board that I frequent.  We are making an afghan for one amongst us who lost her dear husband suddenly and after only a couple of years of marriage.  It's a small way for us all to comfort her, a virtual hug turned real.

I am the one putting the squares together, so my time to post on the blog is quite limited.

But I had to share this bonus I received with the square sent to me by PipneyJane.  She knows about my penguin fixation and whenever she has cause to send me something, she includes one of these:

Thursday, October 15, 2009

At Long Last!

This gown took longer to make than the baby took to "germinate."

And here is the Little Miss and her lovely mom:

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Nearly There

I am so sorry about my absence for so long.

I have been working frantically to finish a christening gown that I started when the mom was 3 months pregnant.  The baby was born on July 31st.  The christening is in November.

Crochet projects have all been on hold while I concentrate on this and I'm so happy to say I'm almost finished.  I expect to wrap up by the first or second weekend in October.

Here are some really bad photos of the work in progress ....

...AND two of the more important COMPLETED project (for which I cannot take any credit):

More photos of the baby (and a fantastic photographer if you're looking for one in the Bay Area) at The Jess Page.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

California Girl Encounters Tennessee Wildlife

DD has moved to Nashville. She is encountering as new and strange the sorts of things I took for granted growing up in the Midwest.

Her latest email to me was so LOL funny, I just have to share it. With her permission, I present it here in its entirety:

"I didn't get to tell you about the wildlife out here. This is like the roadkill capital of the world!

"The first time I ever experienced a traffic jam near our house, when we finally got to the scene of the "accident" and saw that the slow was caused by a very large buck that was right in the middle of the road. I don't know how some idiot managed to hit something so big. It's like running into a parked car.

"Since then I've noted a carcass every 50 feet or so on every major highway.

"Now, in Nashville, the drivers here are rather obnoxious with regard to speed. The rule of thumb is generally 5-10 miles BELOW the speed limit. There's a cop pulling someone over for speeding, every few miles or so, and that's for people who go 1-2 miles over the limit. So I was über stumped as to how these slow pokes manage to hit so many animals.

"Then I had a few experiences of my own and I've found that the animals here tend to be a little red-neck themselves. For example...

"One morning I had a chipmunk run in front of the car, then a squirrel then a cat, all that I barely missed. Shortly after that, a large turtle was sitting in the middle of the road and it took two people to move it. It turned out to be a snapping turtle and it looks like someone had already hit it with the car because its shoulder was smashed and bleeding. We got it to the side of the road but, while moving it, it peed on us. It was some really bad stank in the car after that.

"One night I saw a cat in my lane so I moved to the next lane to avoid it. It looked up at me and then jumped right in front of the car as I drove past. I didn't hear any bump. I stopped and was freaking out. So someone got out and looked and told me nothing was hit. I guess it went right under the car.

"The next day there was a dog running along side of the car. I got this premonition/vision of it jumping in front of the car so I slowed down to about 15 mph. It then walked in front of the car and sat there. I stopped and it looked at me with this silly-ass grin and its tongue hanging out and then it ran off.

"A few nights ago there was an opossum in the road. I stopped for it and it stared at me for a few seconds. Then it turned around and went running down the road in front of the car - not getting out of the way but just running along like I'm supposed to follow it. It was friggin' hilarious and we were all laughing so hard watching it waddle that I could barely drive. It finally jumped in a bush from embarrassment.

"Yesterday morning a chicken crossed the road in front of the car which then inspired about a million-and-one chicken-crossing-the-road jokes.

"Then last night there was an opossum crossing the road and we passed it while it was in the lane next to us, heading toward our lane. I breathed a sigh of relief that it hadn't gotten to my lane as I don't think I would have seen it in time. But then a second later I passed a car going in the opposite direction - oh no! This morning I checked and there was no new road kill so I think it made it.

"This morning I almost hit two vultures that were picking at a carcass. I also avoided hitting a turkey and a pea hen.

"These animals are seriously stupid and just oblivious of human life around here. You'd think they'd evolve into some sort of sentience regarding pavement but... they don't.

"Anyway. Fun times.

"Love ya’."

Friday, May 22, 2009

My Own Igloo

I gave myself my moniker years ago when trying to set up a Yahoo! account. I tried to make it PenguinLover but that was taken. I really don't like adding numbers to a screen name that is already taken, so I tried MyIgloo.

That was taken too. By then I was getting a little annoyed, so I said, "Well, all right" (and yes, I really do talk to my computer screen), "how about MyOwnIgloo?"

Thus, a globally challenged persona was born (scroll down to the bottom of my blog to see my trademark).

May 2009 is a signature month for myownigloo because in May 2009, a law firm partner who likes to bake on the side made me My Own Igloo!

Ain't it grand?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Meet Nellie Nester

This was the handmade item for my Warm Ewe Up swap on Ravelry. It took so long to make, I had to send it separately from the last package.

I completed Nellie weekend before last and didn't post her pic because I wanted Mo to get a chance to see her first. Turns out, the timing was perfect. Check out Mo's post on her own blog.

Mo's photos are much better than mine, but you can get a peek into my apartment in mine. That's my favorite piano there in the background. If you look really closely on the right-hand side in the background, you can see my penguin bathrobe draped over my balance ball. As a housekeeper, I make a lousy photographer. (Or is it as a photographer, I make a lousy housekeeper?)

Mo collects nesting chickens and what better gift for a winter swap than a cozy?

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Warm Ewe Up Final Reveal

I am happy finally to have some time to devote to the ol' blog.  This public thank-you is long overdue.

My poor swap partner had quite a challenge in me because I have so much stuff, I have no business participating in a swap.  Yarn has become my screen monster that threatens to eat our home.  So when someone says, "What do you need?  What colors do you want?  What kind of yarn," yada yada yada, I put my hands up in a defensive gesture and scream "Noooooooooooooo!"

In spite of all that, she uncannily chose absolutely perfect gifts for me!  I'm not going to build up the suspense here because I am so excited about these fingerless gloves, I simply can't put off mentioning them:

She designed and knit them up herself and every detail was a thoughtful gesture for Yours Truly.  She tells the story of their creation better on her own blog, where I am proud that my gloves share space with Pavarotti.

I am positive she has ESP.  I was eyeing sock monkey patterns at the lys while she was choosing these pattern book to send me.  All of them are perfect for me and thoughtfully take into consideration my taste and the type of projects I do.

She is a very good photographer, too, and sent me a photo taken in her home, upstate New York, near where my own DH was born and raised.  I love it up there, and her photo captured the autumn leaves that I recall so well from the only time I ever visited there.  (A portion of the photo is barely visible under my fingers above.)

The little lamb has already found a home with the Baby in the Seafoam Booties.  The two are very good and fast friends now.

Now I have officially sworn off swaps until I have finished all my UFOs and made a dent in the yarn that threatens to push us out of house and home.

Brooch Contest: First Prize

It's been a while, hasn't it?

I think enough time has passed that I can safely show you first prize in the brooch contest that I sent off to Norway a while back.  Hopefully it has made its way across the ocean by now.  (See Vote on a Brooch herein.)

Congratulations to Sølvi (aka xGvJx,) who asked for a Gryffindor scarf bookmark.

This is crocheted using embroidery floss instead of yarn.

I got the idea for this bookmark last year when I scored a huge lot of embroidery floss on eBay for the Best of Hats/Worst of Hats hat.  I recognized the colors and made a bookmark similar to the one above for my daughter.

I didn't have the colors anymore, so I went to my lys to purchase more floss.  What lot of colors there are from which to choose!  I did not trust my color memory.  Luckily, as I was trying to decide whether I'd chosen the right colors, a very Aloof Young Woman (aged 13? 14?) strolled past me.

Me:  I said, "Excuse me?"

AYW:  (eyeroll)

Me:  "Um, are you a Harry Potter fan?"

AYW: *(eyeroll)  Yes.  (with an implied, almost audible "Duh!")*

Me:  (showing her the colors)  "Gryffindor?"

AYW:  (Repeat response between the asterisks above.)

When I'm ready to make the other three houses' scarf bookmarks, I think I'll take my daughter, or at least one of my younger friendly-type friends, with me.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Warm You Up Winter Swap Blog Question #5

The question is what pattern would you make again and again?

In all honesty, I can't say there is one pattern I enjoy that much.  My attention is always on the next project and the next and the next and the next.  I often think "This is a good pattern to make again for so-and-so," but I never get a round tuit.

If it ever did happen, among the running would be:
  • some gorgeous glass cozies made from thread that I don't even have a picture of to show you;
  • the Love Knot dress for babies (I'll add the photo later if I can find it....);
  • cotton shopping bags;
  • zombie Amigurumi;
  • the bridal purse (search "weddings" herein); and
  • baby shoes
Now, to celebrate spring, here is what my Christmas cactus looked like this morning.  Its second blossom to come to full term is showing, plus another one aborning:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Woot! Loot!

I apologize for my infrequent blogging these days. Demands on my time and all. I won't bore you with the details.

Crocheting time has become dear, as well. I am very far behind on promised projects, including the prize for the brooch contest, but I hope to have that completed by the end of next weekend.

Meanwhile, I received this fantastic package from my Falling for Ewe secret swap pal. Dear, dear, Pal. You and I have far more in common than you may have realized. I cannot wait to "meet" you for real and exchange private emails.

Just opening the outer package gave me a lift. Just look at all the pretty packages!

Inside was the most luscious, soft, heavenly yarn imaginable. And the color! I wish the photo could do it justice. It's a bit on the watermelon side of true red, and looking at it just makes me sigh. I'm not sure what I'll do with it, but I'm looking for scarf and hat patterns right now that will suit it. I would love feeling this yarn caressing my face in the San Francisco fog.

I am afraid I have given my spoiler a bit of a hard time because I mentioned that I don't really need any more yarn. Add to that the fact that I can't have scents and shouldn't eat sweets and it's kind of hard to spoil me, isn't it?

Well, she manages quite well, I must say. These Dove sugar-free chocolates are fabulous! My candy jar at work was in need of replenishing, judging by the "innocent" comments of passersby who have been looking in there. I shared a few of the sweets with the jar, but most of them are stashed in a drawer where only I can sneak them out!

I love the sage green cotton thread. I have so many projects in mind requiring cotton thread, I don't know which all I'll choose for this thread ultimately, but I'm definitely going to be making glass cozies and beaded evening bags and sachets for a start!

Speaking of which, this book -- which came from my spoiler's personal stash, by the way -- is actually a book I once checked out of the library! I love most of the patterns in it and it's especially wonderful because it has cat toys in it! My cats were gifted by a previous spoiler with knitted cat toy mice and they have abandoned all their other toys for those three mice. One of them goes hunting every night at around 3:00 a.m. and carries those mice around the apartment, dropping them and yowling about her conquest. (Luckily, DH and I are relatively sound sleepers.) I had always hoped to have crochet patterns of cat toys.

But there are more patterns in there I love -- and plenty for cotton thread, like sachets and purses and wash cloths. It will definitely get use.

Spoiler, thank you so much! I'll get a proper thank you in the mail this week.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Paean Worth Watching

Trader Joe's is one of my favorite places.  I will tell you a story about that someday soon.  (Many of my friends already know the story.  It's one of my favorites.)

Meanwhile, if you do not have the fortune of having your own local Trader Joe's, then this will show you what you're missing.

I'd suggest relocating.  Seriously.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Warm You Up Winter Swap Blog Question #4

What are your plans for Valentine’s Day this year?

Valentine's Day is a sore subject around this place.

See, DH and I sort of eloped on Valentine's Day.  Or at least we decided to elope on Valentine's Day but by the time we got ourselves to Las Vegas and got the requisite marriage license and found an open chapel, we were actually married on February 15th.

We had a wedding all planned for June and we went ahead with it anyway, for the family's sake, but it was our little secret that we were already married.

We have friends who were married in three different ceremonies and we actually planned on having three ourselves because it sounded like fun, but it took so long to get our respective households combined and somewhat organized (in fact, that project isn't completed to my satisfaction even today....), we never did do the third one in San Francisco.

DH is not very creative when it comes to holidays. He gives cards. Only cards. From all I can fathom, that's all his family ever did for any occasion was give cards. He is quite pleased with himself when he hands me a card, and I have given up on trying to augment his ways to include even poorly thought out gifts.

All that aside, our first year, I didn't get a blessed thing on Valentine's Day.  Then on the 15th, I got an anniversary card.  I wasn't happy.

Carefully, I tried to explain to DH that just because our anniversary was on the 15th, that did not exempt him from his Valentine's Day obligations.

Not only that, but the February wedding was not my favorite occasion to remember.  The chapel minister was a dirty minded man who made a comment about what DH must have been thinking simply because he offered me the wrong finger to put the ring on.  (I mean, some people count the thumb so when you tell them "your third finger," they just might get it mixed up, right?)

Anyway, between my mixed feelings about celebrating the anniversary in the first place and its proximity to Valentine's Day, DH just can't get it right, poor guy.  Not his fault.

So I try not to think about Valentine's Day at all.  DH and I are going to a seminar on how to survive a recession, not a bad way to strengthen a marriage, eh?

If I happen to get a card or a flower for either occasion, that'll be a bonus.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Winners

I'll make this short and sweet because I know you're eager to know before the Super Bowl starts.

Third Prize Winner:
Second Prize Winner:
Please send me your snail mail addresses via Ravelry and, xGvJx, please send me your email address as well so we can discuss what your prize will be.
Congratulations everyone!  Talk at y'all later.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

You Only Turn 40 Once, Right?

Happy Birthday, Beth!

We had a birthday party at work today for one of my coworkers, Beth.

Her family is back East in Ohio, snowed in.  They were planning on surprising her with a visit for her 40th birthday, but the weather had other ideas.  So instead, they sent her a Birthday in a Box that we're all enjoying.  (What a family, eh?)

Someone made her hat out of some of the cellophane wrapping paper from the box and a paper plate.  (A propos of nothing, did you know that cellophane used to be a trademark?  It lost its trademark status because too many people used it generically.  Just like what happened to zipper and what will probably happen to Kleenex® tissues someday....)

She's holding the candles backwards on purpose, thinking maybe people will think she's 4.

Behaviorwise, I guess that's not far off.

She did her best Fosse imitation right after this picture was shot.  It's a good thing she has a day job.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Warm You Up Winter Swap Blog Question #3 (West Coast Version

What would you do to stay warm and cozy while it’s snowing?

Yes, I remember snow.  And ice.  I'm an Illinois child, remember?

People who don't live in California often think that I live in a sunny clime.  But San Francisco is not often sunny, and it's not at all the balmy paradise that folks imagine.

One of the pastimes here in the summer, especially in July, is watching the tourists shiver their way around town in their wholly inapproriate attire:  shorts and sandals.  They don't often think to bring winter gear, but July is actually our coldest month.

I caught pneumonia in San Francisco when I first visited here in July of 1966.  I had spent the day before in Sacramento where it was 106 degrees in the shade, got the worst sunburn of my life (3rd degree in places), and then came to San Francisco where my all-weather raincoat was insufficient to keep me warm, especially considering the temperature of my skin.

Still, I haven't seen much snow here except on the mountaintops or on a trip to Tahoe or Reno.

What I used to do to keep warm was to bake.  I still do that here, even this past weekend.  I'll bake or roast something and then prop the oven door open and let the air get warmed up by the leftover heat.  Sometimes I even stand in front of it, warming my hands and behind, until it's all cooled down.

Also in the running:

  • Wearing a very fluffy warm bathrobe;
  • Taking hot, hot baths;
  • Wearing woolen socks or houseslippers with a cuppa tea;
  • Wrapping myself in an electric blanket with a cuppa cocoa;
  • Snuggling with a) a cat; b) two cats; c) a reluctant husband (who is cold-blooded anyway so he isn't much good to me in these circumstances).
Bonus:  a picture of my Christmas cactus right before Christmas.  I raised it from an accidental cutting that got knocked off of a hostess gift I took to a Christmas party in 2007.  The cutting was just three sections long.  Look at how big it got!  You can just see its first bud forming.

Friday, January 23, 2009

An Act of Swapper Love

Today I got my first package from my swap partner in the Warm Ewe Up Winter Swap:

  • Look past the yummy yarns (Burgundy cotton and Tofutsies in a lovely lavendar ombre).
  • Look past the portable crochet pattern booklets (with the adorable ducky and dinosaur baby toys inside that only I know about....  Wait a minute.  I just told you about them.  Well, only I have seen them.)
  • Look past the pretty notes...
  • Look past the bottle of natural, unscented Eucalan no rinse, delicate wash laundry concentrate (which I've never seen before and which I can't wait to try!)
  • Look past the Dove chocolates -- Yes!  I said look past Dove ChocolatesMe!  MOI!  I SAID THAT! (Yeah, I don't believe it either.)
See that card at the top of the photo?  The one with the picture of the knitwitch with her sweet cat riding a knitting needle to the stars?

That is a loving work of art from my swap partner.  What a warm and loving letter she sent to me -- a virtual stranger!

And get this line she wrote about the laundry concentrate:  "Please forgive the dented bottle.  I fell down the stairs this morning on my way out to work and dropped the bag."

Wow.  The mind boggles.

First of all, I do hope she's okay.  Those soft tissue injuries can sneak up on you later.

But get this.  She's told me -- her secret pal -- that she fell down the stairs.  She has given up her rights to post on Ravelry about her injuries and thus garner sympathy from all of us loving knitters and crocheters or else risk outing herself to me.

Now that's an Act of Love.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Warm Ewe Up Question #2

If you could only knit or crochet with one brand of yarn for the rest of the year, what would it be and why?

If I could only crochet with one brand of yarn for the rest of the year, it would be the brand that I have the most of in my stash, whatever that is. I suspect it's cotton, either Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Co. or Lion Brand.

In fact, Lion Brand would be a good choice because then if I used up all the cotton I have in that brand, I would have a wide range of fibres to choose from when I had to buy yarn.

But then, choosing Pisgah Yarn & Dyeing Company is kind of a cheat because it would include Peaches & Creme and crochet thread, so I'd have a broader choice of projects to make.

The reason I would rather choose the one that I have the most of is because I'm a bit -- well, let's say thrifty, and I could kill two proverbial birds with one proverbial stone: I could reduce my stash considerably and I would be forced to focus, so I would catch up on all the gifts I had planned with that yarn.

Not exactly what you were thinking when you asked the question, eh, moderator?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Vote on a Brooch

I promised you in the post Ravelry Swap on a Budget Great Reveal that I would show you the brooch I had bought to go along with the shawl that Beth of Needle Bling fame knit me.
Not only did I buy a handmade brooch that matched the shawl perfectly, but I also found that I had two others in my brooch stash that also matched.

(My coworker Maria, who was there when I opened the package, wants me to tell you that I wear this shawl at work practically every single day.)  I alternate brooches on it depending on what I'm wearing or what mood I'm in.

So, vote for your favorite brooch and win a prize!

Here's how.

Vote by leaving a comment with your Ravelry ID or an email address or website, a way to contact you in other words.  (It's not a contest, really.  More like a drawing.  I'll put all the names in a hat or a shoe or a bucket and draw one.)

First prize is something crocheted by me.  (Don't get too excited.  It'll probably be a cotton wash cloth or a soap saver or something equally banal.)  First place winner can choose from something I've already made (which isn't much) or negotiate for a particular item in a particular color, as long as you are willing to allow time for me to make it.

Second prize is Kool-Aid dyed alpaca yarn from Needle Bling.  100% sport weight alpaca yarn from Frog Tree Yarn. Two 50-gram skeins, approximately 260 yards.  (Photo courtesy of Needle Bling.)

Third prize will be a $10 gift certificate from Needle Bling.

Refer your friends to this contest and get an extra entry for you and for them.  They just have to mention in the contest that they were referred and by whom.

Here are the choices:

Brooch #1:

This is the handmade brooch I bought the weekend before I got the shawl.  It has a jade backing behind white filligree with a bird in the center.  I'm not sure what the white is or how it is made.  And since your vote doesn't affect the contest, I don't mind telling you that this is my favorite.
Brooch #2:
This is a brooch I found on eBay. It just caught my fancy. It is a faux Victorian brooch with a cameo center. The bright green doesn't go quite as well with the shawl, but I still like it.

Brooch #3:
This brooch was a little lagniappe that someone on eBay sent me when I purchased some clothing from her store.  I love it.
There you have it.  Vote by the end of January and I'll announce the winner on February 2nd.

Why Did I Learn To Crochet?

OK, in all fairness to the Warm Ewe Up Winter Swap moderator, I'll answer the question that she meant to ask me.

I was born to crochet.  It is my destiny.


My maternal grandmother crocheted.  She was a 4'8" spitfire of Irish heritage and she was left-handed.  In fact, she had several (I'm thinking maybe 8? but I can't recall how many) siblings, and they were all left-handed.

Sadly for her, both her children -- my mother and my aunt -- were right-handed.  They longed to crochet like their mom but they couldn't quite learn from a left-hander.

When I was born and showed a preference for the left hand, there was much rejoicing because now Gramma (she was still just Gramma then.  Later she would be known as "Little Gramma" by her great-grandchildren to distinguish her from their grandmothers) would have someone she could teach to crochet.

I learned to make a chain when I was 4 or 5.  I would have gone on merrily making chains until Kingdom Come but for a pivotal and rather traumatic moment in my tender childhood.

One day a lady came to our house to do business with my mother.  I am not quite certain what the business was -- my mother was an Avon lady at the time and probably it had something to do with that -- but for some reason, it was important that manners and protocol prevail that day.

The woman sat in a chair in the living room and waited for my mother, who went off somewhere else in the house to fetch something for her.  While she waited, the lady pulled out of her handbag two needles and began knitting something.  I was fascinated and nosy, of course.  I asked her questions about what she was doing and she answered sweetly.  We were having a delightful conversation when my mother re-entered the room just in time to hear me tell the lady, "I crochet."

"Do you?" she crooned.  "What do you crochet?"

"Oh, chains," I answered proudly.

The two women dispatched their business and the lady left.  My mother had no sooner closed the door on her than she whirled around and berated me soundly.  "Don't tell people you crochet!  All you can do is make chains!  That's not real crocheting!  If you tell people you crochet, then they expect that you can actually make something."

Looking back from an adult perspective, I realized that that lady and what she thought about me and my mother was of Very Great Importance to my mom or she wouldn't have been so harsh with me.  But at the time, I was devastated that I'd made an awful faux pas (even though I wouldn't have understood the term if someone had told me then that I'd made a faux pas.)

As soon as Gramma visited again, I went to her and demanded that she show me something else.  Something more than a chain.  Something like what she was doing.

Thus I learned my first stitch.  And my second.  And lo and behold, a Granny Square!

Every year someone gave my grandmother a gift subscription to Workbasket.  She kept them in a trunk in her living room and used the trunk as a footstool.  She let me read them and I taught myself how to read a pattern and began making Barbie clothes and toilet paper covers, the usual Workbasket variety of FOs.  My grandmother was envious of my "talent" because, she said, she didn't know how to read a pattern.  I guess the person who gave her the Workbasket never knew that because she kept getting them every year.  By the time I was grown up, they filled the entire trunk.  I'd grab a few of them every time I visited her but by the time I was in college, I had no time for crocheting.  I didn't pick it up again until recent years.

But nowadays, every time I make an FO that I'm proud of and I post a picture of it on Ravelry or on this blog, I think, "See Mom, I really can crochet!"

Question #1: Why Do I Knit?

(I don't knit.)