twist and shout

Because I just never shut up

Keep calm and carry on August 27, 2010

Words to live by...

That was my creed over the last couple of days. Yup.

Decided to finally dig in and finish my Shetland Triangle Shawl, even though the temperature flirted with 102 degrees on Tuesday and I probably won’t even need anything like it for at least a month or more. Probably more.

It’s just that with this being a new year and all (you guys must remember I told you I always look at the new school year as my official new year, right? Well if you don’t, that was a heads up), I really want to make a good dent in my stash. That’ll be a tall order considering the fact that I might be the slowest knitter I know and my stash could be featured on a special episode of “Hoarders.” Okay, well I’m pretty fast, and I’m planning on making a few new sweaters so that should ease up some space in the stash bins. It’s just that I think I get distracted from my knitting fairly easily which really slows me down. Cleaning, and making dinner, and putting some new jewelry designs together, and doing stuff/errands with the Bug are just a few of the big time-takers. This bit of technology beneath my fingers right now is especially distracting.

Of course I mean my computer…sheesh. Where are your minds, people?!

Another problem has been that usually I end up knitting at the end of the day. After I finally finish the dinner dishes, put the leftovers away, and get the Bug off to bed as well as get the 2 of us ready to hit the ground running the next day, I knit a few rows only to find myself falling asleep. Anyway, this shawl was like the rest of my projects; let me tell you, trying to knit on the plane was nearly useless. On the other hand, what I did work on moved quickly as this was a super easy to memorize pattern.

Yep, that's the shawl in question.

So I concentrated on finishing this week; what a ride. Aside from the fact that I really enjoyed not planning to do anything else but knit (except for a little laundry, grocery-shopping, and cleaning—gads, doesn’t my life sound glamorous?), this rather simple lace shawl made for all kinds of excitement. Who could’ve guessed that 450 yards of Malabrigo Silky Merino could’ve been so exciting. Okay, well you might know it’s great to knit with, but this turned out literally to be a cliff-hanger of a project.

You see I was intent (you might even say childishly so) on getting as many repeats of the lace pattern as I possibly could because I hate nothing more than leftovers—yarn, food. You name it, I like to use it up. Although I do have a plan to make a blanket like Ron Weasley has: a kind of crazy quilt sort of thing made up of squares of presumably leftover yarn. I saw this very cool blanket last year at The Museum of Science and Industry’s Harry Potter exhibit and nearly swooned over it, much to the embarrassment of my peeps.

But I digress.

Anyway, after two days of really keepin’ on, I managed to squeeze 13 repeats from this yarn, but because I did, finishing it all up proved a nail-biter…right to the very last stitch. As I started the bind off, a golf ball sized ball of yarn beside me, I faltered a little wondering if I should rip back to be certain I had enough to finish, or if the yarn would kind of do that “loaves and fishes” thing. But instead of worrying, I decided to “Keep calm and carry on,” use positive mental attitude, and picture myself happily finishing the bind off with yarn to spare. And you know, I believe I would’ve had enough yarn, however, because the bind off was a special elasticy one, it ate up more yarn. Reminded me of CR consuming Oreos.

Yes, as expected. With 26 stitches left to bind off, I ran out of yarn. Even though I skipped rows 13 and 14 of the edging chart, I used every inch of the Malabrigo.

So late last night I again focused on my lovely red souvenir coaster, brought home from London’s Imperial War Museum, took a deep breath, and chanted, “Keep calm and carry on.”

Let me say here that sometimes, chanting is best augmented by a little liquid calm… 🙂

Now I could’ve sworn I had (and still do believe I have) a teensy ball of this yarn hanging around here somewhere. But even turning the house upside down and waking everyone and the cat up,  it stayed hidden. I cried uncle and went to bed.

And this morning I resorted to spit-splicing (ah, coffee-flavored, no less. But let me tell you, the silk in the yarn does resist the splicing…what a pain in the tookus) using the ends that were hanging off the back of the shawl and the bits that tied up the skeins before winding. But rats, I still didn’t have enough. “H” “E” Double fishsticks.

In the end, my stash bailed me out. With 16 stitches left to bind off, and no yarn left, I recalled that I had 2 skeins of Mal Silky Merino in “London Sky” put away for a shawl for my MIL. Luckily, the lavender of the London Sky colorway is exactly the same as the lavender in the Indecita colorway! Wish I would’ve realized that before all the spit-splicing.

God save the Stash!

She’s done, beautiful, and blocking. Photo shoot scheduled for tomorrow.

Here’s some pics of Lucy, our fuzzy baby, taken by Bug.


My new excuse for not knitting enough: August 23, 2010

Filed under: life — kathy @ 4:03 pm
Tags: , ,

Hi friends!

Let me introduce you to our new fuzzy baby, Lucy. She is a 2.5 month collection of adorable and sweet and total mayhem all wrapped in black fur and tiny claws.

Yes, some of you may be wondering what possessed me to do something like this again. Let me explain…

After we lost our beloved Foozle a little over a year ago, I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to get another cat. First of all, there’s the grieving. Then when I thought about starting over, the cons included (and sorry to say, there are some cons to having a pet, though I also believe that the pros far outweigh the cons) not being able to take nice long vacations without arranging for a housesitter, potential 5 a.m. breakfast wake-ups (Foozle was an expert at this—she had a variety of techniques from the gentle paw on the nose trick to rattling the blinds. None were appreciated.), and possible damage to that which we just renovated/replaced over the last year. Especially the grasscloth in the living room. Oh yes, and then there is that—ahem—collection of yarn I have.

On the other hand, Bug certainly and finally was old enough to take care of and love a pet. And she really wanted a pal. And honestly, I was kind of lonely, too, during the school year. Even though I was always working and running errands, it was wonderful to have my sweet Foofoo around. And she knew to stay away from the yarn.

But when we saw little Miss Lucy at the Humane Society, it just seemed right.

So here we go again…

By the way, I just wanted to thank all of you who read my ramblings and especially thank those of you who take a moment to comment. It’s so gratifying to know that this blog isn’t just floating around out there, because if nobody cared to read it, I’d certainly spend more time knitting. Anyway, thanks!


What I did on my summer vacation August 19, 2010

Bug does her rain dance in the inner courtyard at the V & A Museum

WARNING: Due to the fact that I’ve been ridiculously lazy and haven’t blogged in an age, this will be a looong post. Further, there will be lots and lots of pictures. I recommend you get yourself a large drink of some kind and make yourself comfy! 🙂 I only hope I don’t bore you…

London, England. I’ve wanted to go to England since I was 4 or 5. It was the holy grail of destinations to me. But you know, sitting on the plane, finally on my way, I was a little concerned that I’d be disappointed once I got there—that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.

Well let me say, I had nothing to  worry about. Simply, I fell in love with London. I can’t wait to go back. In fact, I would move there in a heartbeat. Truly. Everything about it was even better than I’d imagined.

It was also such a treat to have Momma and Poppa along to share in the adventure. They’d been to London about eight years ago and had a great time. The Bug hasn’t had the chance to spend as much time with them as some of her beloved cousins have, so here was a great chance to share some new adventures with them. And believe me, she did lots of  visiting in their room. She tried to beat Momma at cards, but, silly girl, she had to learn the hard way that nearly no one beats Momma at cards.

It all started at Heathrow, and after waiting in a couple of queues (remarkably it seemed that we never waited long for anything; either we had the good fortune to slip into line just before the crowd, or the line just moved so quickly that we were astounded to arrive at the front in half the time we would’ve in the US. Those Brits sure have the art of queueing perfected.) we were lucky enough to get into the taxi of a lovely fellow named Frank. I love London taxis with their fold down jump seats.

In Frank's cab

He dropped us at our hotel—Base2Stay—I know, crazy name, but a great place. It was once a lovely South Kensington row house now turned into a modern hotel. It was clean and comfy and homey, just like it looked on their website.

CR and I loved the vibe of the neighborhood. All around us were groups of these fab row houses, many turned into hotels, but most single-family dwellings with a gorgeous private garden at their center that they all shared. The folks who lived there seemed mostly to be young professionals, so that the busy streets, Earl’s Court and Old Brompton Roads felt a bit like Lincoln Park in Chicago. Great restaurants abounded, as did pubs. A great little cafe where Momma, the Bug and I had coffee/cocoa each morning was just across from The Earl’s Court tube station and a quick walk from the hotel. And the Earl’s Court tube was our gateway to the rest of London.

In fact, after a quick nap our first day, CR, the Bug and I took a mini adventure, hopping on the tube and popping off at the Westminster stop where we joined a huge group of tourists snapping shots of Big Ben, the London Eye, and boats chuffing along the Thames.

View from the Bridge

Bug with the rest of the tourists at Big Ben

The next day dawned pretty rainy, so the group headed to the Victoria and Albert Museum, a huge place nearby our hotels where we explored the exhibits that chronicled the history of Britain from early Medieval times through the reign of George III. Oh yes, and we had a spectacularly delicious lunch of cold eggplant and roasted pepper quiche, roast chicken and potatoes, scones, with clotted cream and pots of tea. I hate to say it, but the hot dogs and pizza at the Museum of Science and Industry don’t even come close.

After lunch, the Bug had quite a bit of excess energy (where does it come from?!) so she entertained us with her rain dance.

Here at last!

Hampton Court was on the docket for the next day. Let me tell you, I could barely contain myself. The only sad part was that Poppa didn’t feel up to all the walking necessary, and so Momma decided to stay with him to keep him company.

And there was indeed alot of walking, but it was a lovely day, and I sure needed the exercise. It also gave me more chance to marvel at the miracle of London transportation: the tube, to the train, which let us off a block from the castle. We also could’ve taken a boat down the Thames, but that would’ve taken longer, and we were already getting a late start at 10:30 as far as I was concerned.

Walking up to Hampton Court Palace was more thrilling than I can say, as was walking the halls.

Gazing out the windows where once queens and kings would’ve stood, watching trails of rain run down the glass, or children playing in the gardens, made my heart race. Just resting my hand on the stone sill filled me with the most indescribable feelings.

In fact, one of the things that amazed and delighted me about all the historic places we visited is that you could actually touch the walls and woodwork, and take pictures of everything you wanted (except the chapels—those were reserved as places of prayer), unlike the historic places here. In the Hearst Castle, for instance, if you step off the little runners that you walk along during the tour, an alarm sounds.

A pooped Bug

I suppose it makes more sense to prohibit touching and photos to protect these treasures, on the other hand, the sense I got from being able to touch these walls was magical.

The Great Hall

What a kitchen!

The amazing kitchens...two more giant rooms with 3 fireplaces each besides this room!

A view of gardens from one of the windows

The gardens were magical, as well. You could spend hours touring them alone. Seriously.

The original Privy garden, the largest of the gardens, was created in Henry VIIIs time, then changed as fashions did until the time of Mary II and William III.

In the Christopher Wren Courtyard

Over the years, the original garden became overgrown, but using archeological and historical research in the mid 90s, the clever restoration team figured out the original layout. To me it recalled Alice in Wonderland with its pointy topiaries and swirling pea gravel pathways.

The Privy Garden

One important lesson learned in the Palace hedge maze: do not let your kid run way ahead of you in a maze.

Now you see you don't!

Especially when you’re hoarse, and she doesn’t answer. You should’ve seen CR and me winding back and forth and every which way trying to find that kid of ours. That was one of those moments where you know that if you ever find them, you’ll strangle them. Enough said.

So, other gardens there were copies of the smaller Tudor gardens and were tucked behind tall hedges with “windows” cut into them so you could peer inside and see the gardens from angles other than the gates. No one was allowed inside these gardens, however you could wander the fanciful Privy garden.

There were also herb gardens and rows of specimen citrus plants, and, oh yes, the famous Great Vine, which was something like 230 years old and still fruitful. Ah, wish I were like that!

Anyway, I’m going on and on. For all my pals who are gardeners, check out the website for better info:

A view through the hedge...

So, I really am rambling here…let me speed up a bit, if I may.

The next day we hit the famed Tower of London.

Poppa and Momma!

Our Yeoman Warder (aka Beefeater) was a right delightful curmudgeon of a fellow. Absolutely hysterical dry sense of humor who warned us that he hated kids and to keep an eye on ’em, despised the Tudors (“At least 3 times a week some woman comes here thinking she’s the reincarnation of Anne Boleyn. Crazy, all of ’em. I hate Anne Boleyn; she was a witch and she got what she deserved.” Then he’d smile.), and preferred to discuss Medieval architecture. He gave us a fab tour—we were a lucky group.

Our delightful Beefeater

The crown jewels were fab, too. But since we arrived late, we came back another day to check out the other buildings, the Medieval Castle of Edward I, and the armory in the White Tower.

So, since this post is getting insanely long, and I still have photos to add and dinner to make, I’ll just list a few of the other highlights of our trip: Saw a performance of “Oliver” in the West End, toured the Imperial War Museum, rode a couple of double decker buses, spent a day in Mayfair/Shepherd Mews, had some amazing meals, did a real pub crawl with CR (we had babysitters, remember? 🙂 ) And lest I forget, cream tea wherever I could find it!  And I’m sure a few other fun things that I’m sure I’ll recall after I post this.

It was hard to leave. I truly, madly, deeply love London. I can’t wait to go back—with any luck, maybe even next summer since there were quite a few things I wanted to do and didn’t have time to do: Portobello Market (thanks for the suggestion, Dee!), Notting Hill bookstores, the National Gallery, the Tate, Harrods, Windsor Castle, Green Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Palace, Dickens House…phew! I could continue….but you get the idea.

Hope you enjoy these photos. I’ll add many more to my profile on FB, but please be patient, I have a ton. I really played tourist!A loverly lamp post base!

Now time to go make dinner. Back to the grind with a new year dead ahead…


It’s a lovely holiday… August 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — kathy @ 10:02 am

Bug visiting with Grandma G

This summer has proved to be one of the most crazy, happy, miserable, nutty summers ever. On the one hand, my little family started out sick and wasted the first month of summer vacation eating chicken soup, cough drops, and antibiotics instead of swimming, grilling, gardening, going to the beach, and painting the outside of the house. (Okay, the last item, not so much fun, however the finished results are so satisfying, that I really wanted to include it in my little group of stuff there.)

Onto our trip to Chicago, where, truth be told, after arriving I needed one more week of prednisone (yuck) and antibiotics to become reasonably well enough to really do anything that required more activity than lifting my hand to my mouth. For the last couple of weeks we’ve been doing a small variety of visiting and sightseeing.

Bug in the John Hancock Plaza

We had filming for the Bug’s and her cousins’s drama, “Beautiful Blades,” by my darling cuz’s kiddo (young director–poor guy, I think all those girls made him a little nuts).

Finally, I’ve had a bit of time to make some new jewelry, finish a couple of knitting projects (both so-so in terms of how satisfactory I felt they turned out—my “Just enough Ruffles scarf  has been renamed “Hardly any Ruffles.” It was a limp and floppy disaster, and it will be ripped when it arrives back in CA…Enough said.). I also ripped another new project, and started a couple more. But nothing too major. It’s just been too hot, muggy, and rainy to do much outside.

Hardly Any Ruffles...a floppy disaster

But at least we had some thunderstorms. I lovelovelove thunderstorms!

Certainly, one of the things I’ve been anticipating most of all was the secret trip I mentioned a couple of posts ago…a trip I’ve been yearning for ( and I do mean yearning for) since I was about 5 years old: A trip to London. So it seems that since CR has a business meeting in London, and since we are currently kittenless, and since our intrepid housesitter can stay an extra week, we are winging our way to jolly old England in just a few days and I am overcome with excitement. Even better, Momma and Poppa will be joining us!  We’ll be staying in an old white rowhouse turned mod hotel in South Kensington—looks like it’s just around the corner from Mary Poppins and Wendy Darling. Those of you who’ve known me forever know that seeing the movie Mary Poppins as a wee kiddo got me started with my obsession with England.

A goofy memory: Can you imagine my excitement back in High School when during homecoming week one year, our class got to dress up as characters from Mary Poppins? I made myself a white lace dress like hers and spent a good part of the day I wore it  posing for my art teacher’s drawing classes.

Typically I plan our  vacation activities within an inch of their lives and this trip is no different. However, no one else in my clan seems to share my obsession with this planning of mine. So I decided instead of making everyone follow my schedule of things to do and see, I’ve made a list of stuff with necessary info (you know, like time sights are open and how much they cost), and figure that each day we can decide what we’re in the mood to do.

By the way, if there’s something you’ve done in London that you’d recommend doing, I’d love to know about it.

And as usual, I’ve been busy planning plane knitting for our trip. Item one, a Swallowtail shawl made from Malabrigo Silky in the Indecita colorway. I’m about a third finished and drooling over the color.

Yummy yarn!

It’s moving so fast, however, that I’m thinking I’d better bring a second project and am trying to decide between doing a “Traveling Lady” with this luscious HandMaiden Camel Spin in the Sangria colorway (scored as a giftie from Momma while on a trip to Knitche in Downers Grove), or this Liesl top thingy

(pattern purchased from CocoKnits at the last Stitches West) in the Louet Euroflax (ripped twice now–after my failed Jordan, I made a feeble attempt to design a lacy cardigan for myself out of this linen…just blah. Rip! Good thing this stuff is truly like string!)

Blue Puppy models the insanely gorgeous Hand Maiden Camelspin in Sangria

Also, Momma is having me teach her how to knit a sock on the plane. Joy. She really wants to do it—I mean, she asked me to show her  how—but she also keeps telling me she doesn’t think she can do it. I know better, however. She’s really a good knitter. We’re starting with a worsted weight, even though she told me she wants to make a fingering weight sock because I know my dear mother sometimes has the attention span of a 7-year-old when it comes to knitting and it’ll take too long for her; she’s the Queen of UFOs. Poppa just rolls his eyes when he sees her casting on for a new project.

Well, I’m off upstairs to pack a bit.

Mary Poppins, here I come! Wish I had her carpetbag…


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