What I gave and what I got

I had a great Christmas, it was spread out over 3 days, Christmas eve with my dad's family early in the day, then Ryan's family in the evening, then Christmas day with my immediate family, then the day after Christmas is Ryan's birthday, so the whole weekend was a big party, with presents for everyone! the best kind!

First, here is some of the stuff I made for people that I couldn't show pictures of before Christmas.
This is Shannon's "potato chip scarf" from Knit Picks, made from the rayon/silk varigated yarn from Forma Loom.
And this is a scarf I wove for Leah with Tencel from Heritage Yarns.

I also made my mom a roll-up dpn holder, because she has been keeping hers in ziplock bags. I didn't get a picture of it, but I made myself one yesterday, so here's a pic of it.

I also made some little stitch markers for my Grandma, my mom and for Leah, we're a knitting family. And for Ryan's dad, I made him a scarf, because he shaved his long beard this summer, for the first time in probably 25 years. So I figured he'd need something to keep his neck/chin warm this winter. I made it from grey Lion brand Wool, hopefully it is soft enough for him Ryan approved it's manliness, or at least it's un-girliness.

I am so excited about all the stuff I got!!! From my parents I got an iPod!!! ahhhhh!!! I've wanted one for so long! It's a black 30GB color screen photo iPod! ahhhh!!! I haven't really played with it yet though, because I need to get small earbuds for it, the ones that come with it don't fit in my tiny ears.

I got books from Ryan's family and some other small things. I also got some beads and... drum roll... a 20 yard bolt of PFD fabric!!!

One of my bosses gave me these great glass knitting needles. I was so excited that I cast on this scarf IMMEDIATELY and started making another Christmas present! although, it didn't get finished in time.

Shannon made me this great hat that I LOVE, and also got me some neat dressy earrings.
it's not the greatest pic of the hat, or me, actually. The hat has a pattern with two snowflakes, a diamond shape and two tassels on each side like pig-tails.

And from my best friend Leah, I got two skeins of yarn, both are hand painted, and she gave me her mom's pearl earrings inside a little leather pouch of hers. That is very special. I'm a little nervous about wearing them and losing them, so I want to take them and have screw backs put on.

So tonight is new years eve, I am heading out to Ryan's house in a couple hours where we'll count down to the new year, drink some wine for me, gin for him, probably some beer for both of us. I am considering running to the store to buy ingredients for Spinach Artichoke dip... yum! so cheeesy, so garlicky... yum!!!! funny how you can't really taste the spinach or the artichokes, but that is the name of the dip.

Back to work on Monday and back to school on the 9th, so there will be quilting and fiber related content soon. Promise. I got a B in Textiles this past semester. I am not too pleased. I don't think I deserve a B. maybe I'll have a talk with her when I go back in two weeks. oh man... two weeks, that will come so soon!


I know, I know... it's been a week, more than a week. Sorry! I will make it up to you after Christmas with lots of pictures.

Last weekend, Shannon came "home" from North Carolina for Christmas. I say "home" because I think it depends on your definition of the word. If home is where you keep your things, it is in North Carolina. If home is where your family is; Michigan is home.

We spent the whole day baking and eating cookies on Sunday, I think we made at least 5 or 6 different kinds of cookies. ooooh yum. Even our dog Dakota got a treat! That would be Shannon feeding the dog yogurt. She's still in her pj's, I won't say what time it was when I took that picture. ;)

The days since Sunday have been somewhat of a blur. Those of you that have been reading my blog already know that my best friend Leah's mom Michele was diagnosed with uterine cancer in June. Her battle with that cancer ended on Sunday. We knew it was coming, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept or understand. Monday at work was hard, I had to email all 12 of my coworkers to let them know, because I knew if I went in and tried to repeat it that many times, I would make a blubbering idiot of myself. Most everyone was understanding and respected my request not to talk about it. All it took was one person to say, "I'm very sorry for your loss" to make me lose it. Just opening my mouth to say thank you, I could feel my face start to quiver and my eyes well up with tears.

The memorial service was yesterday, it was beautiful, as beautiful as a funeral can be. It started with a relative of Michele's and then a former coworker of hers speaking about her, and sharing stories. Then the coworker introduced Leah, you could hear everyone in the room quietly gasp, sniffle or otherwise share their disbelief that she can get up there and talk. But she did and it was beautiful. The love that mother and daughter share, even in death is just amazing. I've said it since the beginning of this six month battle, Leah is so strong and so amazing. I am so proud of you Leah! The service ended with a slide show of pictures of Michele and her family. It was so great to see so many pictures of her beautiful smiling face.

After the service, we all went back to Leah's house and stayed for a few hours, mingling with friends from high school, relatives and other friends and acquaintences of Leah and Michele. Leah handed me an envelope with a few pictures she had found while creating the slide show that she wanted me to have.
Here is Leah and I, we are six years old and getting ready to ride our decorated bikes in the Children's Fair Parade.
This is me and Michele, I don't specifically remember this day, but it looks like we had built some kind of fort in their back yard and were hanging out in it. This looks like it was about 6th or 7th grade. I'm not sure about the cat's name, but the dog is Lou Lou. (yes, I was allergic to cats back then too, but I just didn't care).

Michele's friends and family have been leaving stories and messages on the blog, I hope it continues for a long time. My mom wrote a wonderful story about her here (as well as some not so flattering pictures of Leah and I as kids). I also posted a story here.

My very very first memory of Michele: I was probably 5 or 6, Leah and Michele lived in an apartment above a storefront downtown in Chelsea. I have the most clear memory of Leah and I sitting at the kitchen table, waiting for lunch. Michele is at the counter, about to pour two glasses of milk, until I tell her, "I only like the milk with the BLUE cap." And even after that, and probably many other "picky-eater" moments that I don't recall, she still welcomed me with open arms, as if a second daughter.


a pair, or two

After about three tries, I finally have a pair of booties! This is a different pattern than the first bootie I knitted. The first one was knit on two needles, so it had a weird seam and was just a little funky looking anyway, so I found a different pattern. I made one bootie with the new pattern and it was a tad loose and had some strange holes in it where I switched between needles (knit in the round). So I considered that one my practice bootie, and made two more with that pattern, and even took notes on the things I changed, so I could make a matching one. and here we have it... a matching pair!
It might be a little hard to see, but there is one row of frilly fringey yarn just above the sole. oooh, uh... did I say they were DONE? I still have to do some i-cord for a tie around the ankle, but THEN they'll really be done. But for now, I'm moving on to Christmas knitting, because the baby isn't due until late January/early February.

Here is a picture of the finished mittens that I never showed off. I still need to wash them and block them. The one I finished first is bigger than the second because everyone I showed it to, wanted to put it on, including men with big hands. So it is stretched out a bit, but I think I can fix that by washing and a VERY quick bounce around in the dryer.

They were really fun. I have this terrible urge to find the tiniest yarn and the tiniest needles and knit tiny mittens. I have no idea where that came from, but I really want to do it.

And here is what I've been working on at school. It's not too exciting, they are just practice pieces, I've been learning doubleweave.

The shorter piece on the right is what I started first. It is an 8/2 Rayon and Rayon Boucle warp and same for weft. It was a nightmare. It wasn't until I started to pull all the ends thru the heddles that I realized my mistake. the little bumps on the yarn were catching on each other and tangling, getting wrapped around heddles and snapping. I snapped 3 warp ends before I even had the thing tied onto the back beam. I managed to get it straightened out, tied on and tensioned, and when I started to weave, I was still getting the bumpy threads tangled on each other, so I could only tolerate weaving that much, which is probably about 6 inches. I decided to get some new yarn and tie it on to the existing warp and pull it thru the reed and heddles. It worked really well, it only took about an hour to tie each new end onto an old end and pull it thru and tie them all on the back. Once my new warp was on, I wove like the wind! That rayon is so soft and slippery and smooth, it's just great to weave with. Especially with doubleweave, because you have twice as many threads shoved into places where only half as many should be. Maybe that is confusing... if your yarn is 24 ends per inch (wraps around a ruler 24 times to equal one inch), you need 24 of each color (because in doubleweave, you are weaving two layers simultaneously), so there are 48 ends in one inch, where really only 24 are supposed to be. So I've come to the conclusion, even after using this great slippery yarn, I don't care for doubleweave. I can see it's usefulness, and possibilities, but I don't really enjoy doing it.

I don't mean to rub it in, but... MY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IS DONE! I've never been so prepared, so early. This is the first year I've made a budget and stuck to it. I decided how much I could spend on each person I had to buy for, and I only spent that much and stopped shopping. In years passed I've started early and just kept shopping until Christmas eve. But this is the first year I can actually see the bottom of my savings account, so it made it that much easier to budget. I am waiting for one more thing to come in the mail. Something I bought on Ebay, I paid for it on the 23rd of November, I should have it by now. It better come, or someone's in big doooo doooooo.

Oh, the scarves, I never reported how much was made for Habitat for Humanity. We are still selling scarves randomly to people who stop by the studio, but last I heard, we sold about 30 scarves out of the 45 we dyed. So we probably donated close to $300. I didn't end up selling any of the bags I brought in. I think my prices were too high. The average college student, walking through the union at lunch time probably doesn't have $35 in cash. But I would rather not sell them than get less for them. I have to turn a profit, don't I?

I have 6 more days of work before I'm off for 10 days. I can hardly wait. I am already compiling a mental list of everything I want to work on while I have the time. I need to finish the calendar contest piece. I have a quilt I started last December that needs to be quilted, I'd like to re-vamp my website a bit and of course knit knit knit. I might also dress my loom for the alpaca shawl. But at the top of the list is to get a contribution to The Sampler sent out. I think I'll dye some fabric and cut it into fat eighths and maybe dye some silk noil yarn to go with it.

But now, it's back to work for me.


the cold... oh the cold

I can't get away from it, everywhere I go, I am freezing! I am sitting at work right now, on the verge of shivering, I am wearing two shirts plus a fleece pullover thing and I am still cold. It feels like the heat in my car doesn't work anymore. My apartment was built in the 60's and I think "insulation" was a concept unheard of at that time, not to mention the windows are as old as the rest of the place and are drafty as hell, which can be fixed with those plastic sheets that you stick to the window with a hair dryer, but the stuff doesn't stick. So I am cold. The only place that isn't cold is in my bed with my electric blanket on. It is an exercise in will power and strength to get out of bed in the morning. Believe me though, it doesn't happen quietly, it's a bad sign when the first words you utter every morning are "sonofabi***".

Despite the cold, I have been having some fun lately. Last weekend, the EMU Textile Design Guild had a dye day. We learned to dye silk in the microwave, it was unbelievably easy and quick. We bought 45 silk scarves from Dharma Trading Company and dyed them.

Then on Wednesday we had a table in the student union where we sold the scarves. We bought the scarves for between $1.50 to $3.00 each and sold them for $10 to $12 each. All profits went to Habitat for Humanity. I haven't heard any figures yet as to how much we raised, update will follow, possibly tomorrow. We were also invited to bring in things of our own to sell at the table as well, I brought in three of my bags and haven't heard yet if any of them were sold.

Also last weekend, Ryan and I went to see Walk the Line, the Johnny Cash movie. Holy crap... I haven't seen such a good movie in a long time. Joaquin Phoenix is amazing as Johnny Cash, he does all the singing and was just incredible, not to mention sexy. My knowledge of Johnny Cash and his music before the movie was pretty close to nuthin', I knew he sang "I fell into a burning ring of fire and it burned burned burned..." and that was about it. So I do not have a biased opinion of the movie being good just because I'm a fan, which I am now, but wasn't before. The movie was over two hours long and we didn't fidget in our seats for a minute of it. Ryan is a tall guy and usually gets uncomfortable in theater seats, but he didn't even move throughout the entire movie, we were just enthralled. I highly recommend it.

In knitting news... I finished another baby bootie, I used a different pattern, this one is knit in the round so it turned out much better. I will do one or two more to get a pair, but probably after Christmas. Since all of a sudden I decided to knit Christmas presents for two more people. I'll have a pic of the bootie soon.

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. There is an exhibit of his artwork here in Ann Arbor this weekend. I don't know which day, but Ryan and I will be going. I have never seen any of his artwork in person before, only posters and commercial copies. The entry fee is $2 and will be donated to Dawn Farm, I think it's a local charity, not sure. I'm just glad my money won't be going to Yoko, though, I'm sure she already has some of it anyway.