Christmas cheer

Pink Rocket got me back for the tag last week. So… I tag Jeanne, Ana, “me” from Bermuda, mama_tulip, and Carrie K (this just seems a bit long for comments, Kellie!).

1. Egg Nog or Hot Chocolate? Silk Nog! Yum. I only get to buy one carton, tho.

2. Does Santa wrap presents or just sit them under the tree? When I was a kid, Santa just left them under the tree. It’s been a long time since there were kids in our family – it will be interesting to see what my brother and sister-in-law do eventually.

3. Colored lights on tree/house or white? So, um, I don’t decorate… but I like both. There’s a classiness to all-white that appeals, and there’s a cheeriness to colored that also appeals.

4. Do you hang mistletoe? I used to when I was a wild twenty-something looking to steal kisses!

5. When do you put your decorations up? I don’t have any decorations. Well, that’s not quite true. I have a purple sequined ball that has a sun on it that’s just so darn nifty I leave it up all year. And Chaos got a Christmas stocking from my sister-in-law last year that I also leave up all year.

6. What is your favorite holiday dish (excluding dessert)? Cornbread stuffing.

7. Favorite Holiday memory as a child? I’m always the one who can’t wait anymore, so I pass out the packages and then we go around and each open one gift per round. I love watching everyone open their gifts. We’ve been doing this since I was a kid.

8. When and how did you learn the truth about Santa? I can’t remember, so apparently I wasn’t crushed!

9. Do you open presents of Christmas morning or Christmas eve? Christmas Eve

10. What kind of cookies does Santa get set out for him? He would get a sampling of everything we had on hand – candy cane cookies, spritz cookies, sugar kuchen, candy, and so forth. My dad loves sweets! 🙂

11. Snow! Love it or Dread it? It’s lovely to look at out the window and fun for the occasional snow angel or snowshoeing, but misery to drive in with my rear-wheel drive car.

12. Can you ice skate? Hello? I’m from Minnesota. Like, duh. That said, I really need to have a hockey stick in my hand for good balance.

13. Do you remember your favorite gift? Last year my brother and sister-in-law made Casa de Chaos for us, which has provided much entertainment for both Chaos and I.

14. What is your favorite Holiday Dessert? Pumpkin pie with freshly whipped cream, followed closely by candy cane cookies and these amzing chocolate-covered coconut balls that my grandma used to make

15. What is your favorite holiday tradition? See #7 above

16. What tops your tree? No tree = no top

17. Which do you prefer Giving or Receiving? Both are pretty fun, but I’d have to say giving outweighs receiving.

18. What is your favorite Christmas Song? I Believe in Father Christmas by Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, followed closely by the speed-metal version of The Little Drummer Boy by the Hoodoo Gurus, and that great David Bowie and Bing Crosby duet
Edited 12/14/05: D’oh! I can’t believe I forgot The Christians and the Pagans by Dar Williams! One of the best holiday songs ever..

19. Do you have a wreath on your front door? No, but my neighbor down the hall does, so I carried Chaos out to look at it.

20. What do you want most for Christmas this year? A decent digital camera! But that wasn’t on my Christmas list. It’d be great if my brother built a shelf add-on for my computer desk.

“What the hell are you doing, Mom?”

Dratted hat

Last night I finished knitting the hat for Maranda’s baby and happily tossed it into my knitting bag with nary a care in the world. When I woke up this morning, I had one of those sinking feelings. You know what I’m talking about – the sense that something is very wrong in your knitting world. In a flash, I knew what it was: the baby hat was monstrously large.

I dragged out to my knitting bag, pulled out the hat, checked the gauge, realized it was the first time I’d checked the gauge for the project (always a bad sign after the project is complete), and determined that the hat was about 2″ too large. Instead of the one-year old size, I had the six-year old size. Um, whoops. Note to self – less chardonnay when knitting baby hats.

I played mental gymnastics for a while, trying to figure out how I could still use the hat “as is” (sew a big dart that could be taken out when the kid is 6?), but eventually realized there was nothing to do but rip it back a few increases.

Fortunately Chaos did not help with this step, because while I’m obviously pretty good at tangling yarn, he’s a master. I’ve now reknitted the hat and it’s a lot closer to the right size. I figured it was a good sign when it didn’t fit on Hat Head:

Notice Chaos with the poofy tail. Apparently I haven’t had Hat Head out of the closet for quite a while.

As you might have noticed by now, Chaos is a little deficient in the tail department – probably by about 4″. His tail ends in a dramatic kink, as if the rest were broken off. I know that’s not the case, since he was born tail-deficient (and we thought he was a girl for 8 weeks, but that’s another story entirely). At least Chaos has a much longer tail than his brother Diablo!

I really enjoyed the favorite knitting spot tag, so I’ve taken another picture of my spot – this time from my perspective as I’m knitting.

Why, yes, that is a paper bag from the liquor store lying by Casa de Chaos. 🙂

Favorite knitting spot

Ok, I got tagged to describe and take a picture of my favorite knitting spot at Scout’s Knitted Swag. All I was doing was wandering through the Knitted Southwest webring – I love the Southwest, so I thought I’d see what the knitters there are up to. Now I know that they’re hanging out tagging the unsuspecting!

Anyway, I tag Jeanne, Ana, “me” from Bermuda, Pink Rocket, and Kellie N. Now, I don’t think that Kellie has a blog that she’s admitting to, so she’ll just have to describe her favorite knitting spot in a lot of detail. 🙂

My favorite knitting spot is in the living room of my small…er…cozy condo. It’s a futon chair, and should I have a very scrawny guest who doesn’t move a lot during sleep, he or she could sleep in this chair when it’s pulled out flat. I wouldn’t recommend it – I think you’d have flashbacks to being in a crib as a baby.

The top of the back of the futon is lopsided because Chaos launches himself from the table to the back of the futon, thus heavily compacting the corner. The weird cushion on the ottoman is to support my knees while I knit. One of my innumerable knitting bags (this one with an active project) is beside the chair.

Of course, Chaos had to get in on the action. This picture gives you a tiny glimpse of the bottom of my living room’s most notable feature – a 15-feet long, 6-feet tall mirror. Hey, it was there when I bought the place.. but it sure does open up the living room, as well as making it a lot lighter. There’s no hiding those unwanted pounds in my living room…

Hat, cat, and vodka

Last night I actually got a tiny amount of knitting done on the hat for Maranda’s as yet unborn baby (due on 12/24). I’m very serious about the “tiny” part:

I would’ve gotten more done, but I sat down with everything I needed… except double points. Before I could get up, Chaos was in my lap, purring. Well, ok, I can take a hint – so I just read for a while.

The little red dot near the bottom of the picture is the nose from one of our new fleet of sparkly mice. Chaos has innumerable mice made from real fur, but prefers the fake fur sparkly mice by far. He’ll skid and flip and fly through the air playing fetch with sparkly mice (sorry, my crappy camera’s shutter speed doesn’t do that sort of action), but won’t even get off his butt if I throw real fur mice.

Here’s new red sparkly mouse (with ripped off tail peeking into the corner of the picture), good ol’ sparkly purple mouse (you can’t tell that his face is missing, but you can tell that he’s rather dented), and a blur on the right indicating an incoming cat paw. Sparkly brown mouse is missing in action, so was unable to be part of the picture.

Ok, here’s a weird thing about me: I am freaky about the smell of colognes and perfumes – and don’t even get me started on the smell of dryer sheets. Part of it isn’t so freaky, I suppose, since I’m allergic to a lot of cologne and perfume. The other part of it is… most cologne and perfume just smells like chemicals to me. Icky. I’ll take a nice clean person smell any day.

So what this is all leading up to is… there was a knock on my door at 7:30 am this morning. Now on most days, I would’ve been sitting at my happy little desk in my happy little cubicle since 6:30 am. But on Wednesdays I get to work from home, so I was sitting in my sweats at my computer in my bedroom. At the door is my poor half-frozen neighbor Ron from down the hall. Seems that when he’d started his car and hopped out to scrape the windows, the dastardly car locked itself up, leaving Ron out in the very cold weather with no keys or gloves. Another neighbor let him in the building, and he showed up at my door to use my cell phone (which is all I have, phonewise). No problem. So he used my phone to call work and the car lockout place a few times, and after about 45 minutes of trying to play with Chaos while Chaos hissed at him, he was on his merry way.

I picked up my phone and it smelled like… cologne. Ewwww. So I windexed it and let it dry, then had to take a call from work. Afterwards, I could smell the cologne from the phone on my face. Double ewwww. Obviously the windex didn’t do the trick. So I dug deep into my closet for my special bottle of smell remover:

The phone smells fine now. No, no, it has nothing to do with imbibing the scent remover so that I don’t care about the cologne smell anymore. Look at it. Have you ever heard of the brand? Would you put that stuff in your body?!

Chaos: A photographic journey

Haven’t done any knitting in the past few days, so here are a few pictures of Chaos to provide a better idea of how bizarre he really is.

Why, yes, that is a paper bag from the liquor store on his head. No, no, I’m not torturing him. It all started when I dropped one of those bags on the floor when he was a kitten, and he got his head stuck in it. I rescued him… and he did it again. And again. And again. Now I leave a bag out at all times, and he’ll wander up to it, pop his head in, and proceed to walk around (with his special “I have a bag on my head” walk) and climb onto things. Which seems dangerous to me, but hey.

This shot also provides a lovely view of his jungle pouch. Ok, yeah, so he got a little heavy last year… but he did have a jungle pouch when he was born. It was much cuter then.

Chaos loves books. Please note that this is not a public library approved use of your library books.

“Hey baby, wanna get lucky?”

Some WIPs…

Beyond the active WIPs (works in progress) that I’ve already mentioned (Koigu Falling Leaves socks, blue and tan baby pullover, sock yarn baby sweater), I have a few others hanging around the house… I’m not exactly sure how many, just that they’re around somewhere (probably with the exact needles I need right now) and I have a vague sense of guilt that they’re not done. So I decided to start tracking them down.

We begin with a tote bag I never use because it’s stuffed full of WIPs that I’d rather not think about.

Below is a poorly conceived tank top. I actually like the swirling (from not alternating skeins of variegated yarn – let that be a lesson to you), but it ended up too short. I picked up around the bottom and added a spiral lace border. All I need to do is crochet around the neck and armholes, but… I don’t want to finish it because I don’t want to wear it. I’ve decided it looks silly with the lace border at the bottom. And I think I’d rather have this heavy cotton yarn (Brushstrokes cotton) as a cardigan than as a tank anyway. So really, I should just rip it out and be done with it, right? Oh well. Back in the bag it went.

Obviously, a petal washcloth. Completed, except for weaving in the ends. However, this was to be the first of four petal washcloths for my family for last Christmas. Not quite so finished looking when you consider it as part of a set of four, is it?

As I was dragging WIPs out to photograph them, I realized several things. The first is that I have a lot of projects in black. No surprise, as I wear a lot of black. Why knit hot pink when I won’t wear it?

The second is that black projects do not photograph well with my crappy digital camera. Hmm, would I wear hot pink, taking its photographic qualities into consideration? Nope, probably not.

The third is that my black cat, chosen over the white kitten because I wear a lot of black, doesn’t photograph well either. I suppose I could take him back to my brother’s house and switch him out for his snowy white brother, Diablo, but my brother has vowed that my evil cat shall never again enter his house.

The fourth is that Chaos is, well, not exactly evil, but definitely very, very busy and sometimes naughty. Knitting projects being photographed have a magnetic effect on him.

But I digress… The picture below is Door County Cable in black Cotton Fleece. The body was knit in the round up to the armpits. When I started to go back and forth, I got really confused and put the project away in a snit. Two years later, I might not find the directions as confusing… or I might still. Best not to find out.

This is a pair of black Fortissima socks for my dad, promised for his birthday two years ago… or was that three? The problem here is obvious, there being only one sock…

Yet another black project. This is a tank top knit in fingering weight (#25 from Sandnes Book 0404 in Fortissima cotton), but the cat playing with the needles on the project is more interesting than the cat-free pictures of the project itself. The tank was going quite well until I lost my mind while picking up stitches for the armhole edging, picked up far fewer than I needed, and turned the armhole into a tourniquet. This project and I are on hiatus. It’s winter. I don’t need a tank top for months.

Here’s a mobius cat bed for Chaos. Since it still has a hole in the bottom (and is definitely not felted yet), he found the row counter much more interesting. I put this project aside one hot and humid day this summer – it filled my entire lap with its way too warm self, and lured Chaos in for a nap. Sounds perfect, now that it’s cold out! But… I had forgotten that this project existed. Whoops. As soon as I get some of this baby knitting done, I’ll be back to this (if I remember I put it back in the WIP bag, that is).

If you’re wondering why the cat bed isn’t black, it’s because I was planning ahead… this time. I’ve already knit Chaos a black felted cat bed, and as you can see below (Chaos at six months), it’s quite difficult to get a good picture of a black cat in a felted black cat bed. Check out the claw action from the happy paws. He loved his felted cat bed, and still tries to squoosh into it sometimes. If he’s ever successful, he’ll have to be surgically removed. Hence the need for the giant mobius cat bed, so this one can be passed on to someone with a smaller cat.

Ah, the joys of work

Today was one of those vaguely surreal days at work. It started with my coworker Andrea calling me at 6:15 am as I was fumbling around, getting into my car with my work stuff. Andrea was already at work, but alas, she’d arrived there with a large nail in her tire. So I picked her up at the tire place on my way in.

Then at 8:30 my boss stops by and asks if I can follow him to the Volvo dealer so he can drop off his car for a 7:30 am oil change (time delay due to his excessively cryptic Outlook reminder taking over an hour for him to decipher – note to self re: making clear Outlook reminders for personal events). Okey dokey. At least it was all breaking up the day more than usual.

Sidenote: Altho I live in an urban area of the Twin Cities (Uptown Minneapolis), I work in a very suburban area – here’s a picture from the elevator lobby on my floor. Yup, it was as cold as it looks – I think maybe 15F at the time of the picture.

In the middle of the day, I rebooted my computer, and in retaliation my computer refused to acknowledge the perfectly functioning keyboard attached to it. That took LAN Support about 45 minutes of goofing around with three other keyboards, and resulted in my 2nd new keyboard in two weeks (the original keyboard having died in a tragic early morning mocha accident). While LAN Support was puzzling over my persnickety computer, I took the opportunity to take a picture of a recent addition to my cube clutter (approximately 3″ tall), procured entirely due to the black cat on it:

Later in the day, a painting appeared, leaning against the wall in the lobby on our floor. This was interesting because we’ve been in this space for over three years, so why start decorating the lobby now? Apparently there was some disagreement among folks on our floor as to which way they hoped the painting would be hung (should the painting ever move from leaning against the wall, that is). Throughout the afternoon, the painting was moved from position 1 (artist signature in lower left corner)…

to position 2 (artist signature in lower right corner)…

and back. I personally never saw anyone moving the painting, so for all I know, the painting itself was waffling.

And here I am (at home at least), still logged on and working… It’s a sad state of affairs that having to work on a Friday evening caused absolutely no disruption in my personal life, other than to the cat’s feeding schedule and my baby knitting schedule.

On babies and the search for the perfect sock yarn baby sweater

I might have mentioned that there seem to be many babies in the works these days. First up is my coworker Maranda’s baby, due near the end of December, who will be receiving a lovely cat-haired covered tan and blue pullover and matching hat, which should fit her baby next fall.

Next up is the baby of my boss’s boss. I’m working on my version of the Knitpicks Last-Minute Stripes Pullover in Crayon.

Although I started this first because it seemed more fun, this project is on hold while I finish the sweater for Maranda’s baby. This baby isn’t due until February, while Maranda’s baby could show up at any time.

There are two babies more due in the February – March timeframe that I’ll probably just make hats for. I’m awfully tempted by this hat from Knitty Gritty, which would be the height of Minnesota winter baby chic. If I get crunched for time, they’ll probably get fruit hats.

Back to the Knitpicks stripey sweater. I’m a on a quest to find the perfect sock yarn baby sweater pattern. Sock yarn baby sweaters are very cute, and you can pretty much guarantee they will be unique gifts.

My quest started with the Mexicali Baby Ole from Knitters (Summer 2003, Issue #71). It was a maddening experience to knit. There were errors in the pattern, and if I had knitted the collar as written, it would’ve dwarfed the baby. Fortunately, google led me to bloggers who had kindly described how to properly knit the freakish shawl collar. It turned out mostly ok, but I ended up with a slightly lopsided v-neck and bulge in the front. Fortunately, the Meilenweit Fun & Stripes yarn I used mostly hid the bulge.

And of course, with Elaina in the sweater, it’s pretty darn cute. But not quite cute enough for me to forgive the pattern.

So I tried this cardigan. The pattern makes a lot of assumptions, and if you’re a newer knitter than I am, you might get a little frustrated. If I remember correctly, the hat pattern makes a freakishly large hat (I improvised), and the booties pictured with the cardigan are not included in the pattern. But it sure did look cute on Alex.

Alas, the Knitpick stripey baby sweater pattern isn’t perfect, either. I’m thinking it might be a little short, although I will withhold judgment until after I get the collar in. Jeanne pointed out that there was really no reason to bother with set-in sleeves for a baby (that Jeanne, always thinking), so I skipped the armhole shaping and am just picking up stitches for the sleeves. I may have miscalculated where to distribute those leftover armhole stitches on the body of the sweater, but I won’t know for sure until I have more of it done.

I’ll probably try Lucy Neatby’s sock-yarn baby sweater next. While I’m tempted by its knit-in-the-round option (no seams! fewer ends!), I suspect that knitting in the round might make the stripes too narrow for best effect. I also know that “Devan” (Knitty Spring 2004) is made from sock yarn, but for some reason that pattern just hasn’t grabbed me – possibly because it seems to take more yarn than the other patterns do. But if the Lucy Neatby pattern doesn’t work out for me, Devan here I come!

The Cat Chaotic was not much interested in babies or baby sweaters, instead choosing to stare zen-like out the fogged over window while I took a picture of the Knitpicks stripey sweater.

Added 12/13/05: Eileen just posted to the TCSnB (Twin Cities SnB) list about success with yet another sock yarn baby sweater pattern (#04042 on this page). Hers looks very cute!

“Tagged” and special bonus cat picture

Thanks to Pink Rocket for explaining “tagging” to me. I (along with the rest of the blogging world) got “tagged” by Crazy Aunt Purl yesterday. If you make it through this crazy long list, check out the special bonus picture at the end.

10 random things about me you may not know
1. I was in the National Guard for 6 years
2. I was married for 2 years (separated for that 2nd year) about 15 years ago
3. I ran away from home when I was 16 and lived in Florida for about 7 months
4. I worked for the Forest Service in the Black Hills during the summer of 1991, marking timber and fighting forest fires
5. I lived in Itasca State Park for the summer of 1993, working for the MN DNR
6. I gained nearly 50 pounds during grad school, then lost it all a few years later when I got really sick
7. I can read and knit at the same time
8. I get hooked on Diablo2 (expansion pack) every winter. My amazon pretty much kicks butt at this point. 🙂
9. I have a tattoo on my left shoulder. Before November, it was the kanji for “good luck.” Now it’s the kanji for “happiness.”
10. I am allergic to cats.

9 places I’ve visited
1. Vancouver, British Columbia
2. Tucson, Arizona
3. Sante Fe and Taos, New Mexico
4. Boulder and Ft. Collins, Colorado
5. Columbia, South Carolina (basic training)
6. San Antonio, Texas (advanced training)
7. New York City
8. Maine
9. Boston, Massachusetts

8 ways to win my heart
1. Cook me a gluten-free meal
2. Remember my birthday
3. Not have any clue when the Twins/Vikings/Timberwolves/other sports teams are playing
4. Dance crazily around to songs that make you happy, even if someone else is in the room
5. Give spontaneous hugs
6. Do little things that let me know I’m in your thoughts
7. Go walking with me
8. Enjoy receiving and wearing handknitted items

7 things I must do before I die
1. Take a bicycling tour of Spain
2. Redo my kitchen
3. Learn Spanish (preferably before the first item on this list)
4. Complete my WIPs, or admit that they’ll never be finished and rip them out
5. Bike across the United States – probably in stages!
6. Meet someone I want to go out on more than one or two dates with
7. Break my addiction to Orville Redenbacher SmartPop! Kettle Korn and start cooking again

6 things I’m afraid of
1. Doing home improvements
2. Letting my health issues getting the best of me and becoming a scary sick person
3. Shrinking all of my handknit “superwash” socks and having to give them to Jeanne. Jeanne isn’t going to see the problem here! 😉
4. Not having enough money for retirement
5. Gaining that grad school weight back
6. Chaos figuring out how to open cupboard doors (since I already have the closets bungeed shut because he can open them)

5 things I don’t like
1. Bananas
2. Squeaky acrylic yarn
3. Hot air blowing on my face in the car
4. Dogs (altho there have been definite exceptions)
5. Mustaches (goatees are fine for some reason)

4 ways to turn me off
1. Wear patchoulli
2. Be pretentious and condescending
3. Be passive aggressive
4. Lie

3 things I do every day
1. Read
2. It used to be exercise, and needs to be again! Such a slug lately…
3. Listen to 89.3 The Current

2 things that make me happy
1. Riding my bicycle on a trail when the world is sunny and bright
2. Knitting and reading in my comfy chair with Chaos asleep on my lap

1 thing that is on my mind right now
1. I’m going to be an aunt in the spring!

Ok, if you made it through all of that, I present you with this picture of Chaos’s mom (Riley, the black cat) and his brother, Diablo (so named for the much-faded black “horns” on his forehead). Can you figure out what the heck they’re up to? And nope, my brother wasn’t trying to make pressed cats (which I suppose would be almost as fun as pressed fairies).

A picture is worth…

After yesterday’s babble-on, I thought I would take a few pictures of what I’m working on these days. As usual, when Chaos is involved, things didn’t go quite as planned. Please forgive the blurriness of some of the pictures – things were happening pretty quickly!
The sweater that I’m knitting for a friend’s baby. It’s the basic pullover (one-year size) from Top Down for Toddlers, knitted out of tan and royal blue Cotton Fleece. I’m a big fan of no-sew knitting.

“Cool, a sweater on the table!”

“Where did the sweater go?!”

“There it is…”

“And now it’s mine.”

Art journaling, reading, knitting, and cat parenting. It's a wild life.