Sunday, December 27, 2009

After Christmas

I slowed down on my knitting a bit to get ready for and enjoy Christmas. As we have watched movies as a family, I've been knitting on my latest blanket which is a log cabin pattern for Project Linus. It's easy to knit; I don't even have to watch while I make my stitches. I now have at least three people to knit socks for so I am working on the second of my pair of purple socks for myself. I received a gift certificate to Knit Picks (yay!!) for Christmas, so sock yarn will definitely be on my next order. I've designed a cute, little baby hat which I will make a few of and then put the pattern up for sale on ravelry. I needed to create something very small and clingy for a newborn. The hat I had been making with cotton yarn was too big for a tiny baby and it was rather flimsy. That's one thing that I really like about wool - it has spring and body. Maybe some more of that Spud and Chloe would be great for a baby hat. I wish I could find a LYS that carries it though. I would like to see it up close. I have two skeins each of the bulky and sweater but would like to see the dk or baby size. Probably will have to buy it online sight unseen as I did the others.

Getting excited about teaching my first class after the holidays. Next week I will get down to business and put a list together of stuff to bring, then pull my materials together, write my patterns, maybe even practice my teaching skills on my family. Should be pretty easy and straightforward project; just haven't taught to strangers in awhile. I'm thinking about new classes I can teach during the summer. I think I'll design a Christmas stocking and ornament. Summer is the time to get those holiday gifts made before you're too stressed and busy to finish them.

Looking forward to watching some new movies - Dark Passage and Revolutionary Road. We watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince last night which was a present from Santa. That's one of my favorites of all the HP movies. I really like the sweeping camera work in this one. So many wonderful shots around the castle and especially looking up in the Weasley's home and the Hermione and Ron are looking down. Also watched several Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone yesterday. Very enjoyable. Back to knitting....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Knit Frenzy

I have been knitting almost nonstop due to my knitting class schedule coming up in January. I'm teaching a short class where we make cup cozies. I've made several in different yarns and designs trying to see what looks good and which ones I want to use for display. I'll be taking those to the store tomorrow. I love the new yarn I just bought at Knit Happens and used for my new Boston Beret. It's called Alpaca With a Twist and the colorway is orange tweed. I used the leftovers for my display cup cozy. I love how soft the yarn feels and the stitch definition is perfect.
Later this morning I will be back on track with my latest Baby Surprise Jacket. It's about halfway done. I had to put it down to get the cup cozies ready when I found out my first class is January 4th. I have at least 3 patterns that students can choose from to make in class.
Last night we watched the extended version of The Return of the King. I'm working on a yellow cotton baby hat and then will try out my own smaller version of that hat. It turns out newborns have much tinier heads and the pattern I've been using works better for older babies. I might try my own design for a baby hat too.
Also on my knitting list is tiny ornaments. I'm going to try a top down sweater but I may end up with just a tiny round ball depending on the difficulty level.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Scrappy Granny

This is one of the blankets that I just donated to Project Linus. My knitting guild had a holiday party and I saved all of my recently made blankets to donate so that our fearless Project Linus leader could take tons of them home for the kids.
I've been working on samples for the classes I will be teaching starting in January. I'll post some photos of those items so you can see what's in store for my students.
I'm not making Christmas gifts this year which is a good thing because I am so busy knitting samples and crocheting baby blankets and knitting baby hats for the many, many friends who are having grandchildren or in the case of my son's strings teacher, her first child. Lots of new babies in the world...I'm looking forward to holding some of them.
Back to work...

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lemon Sky

This was a film but originally was a play by Lanford Wilson. It had Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick in it. I wonder if this is when they met. They were quite young. Casey Affleck played a young boy. I knew the boy looked familiar; then I had to watch the credits to see who it was. He even sounds like he does now and moves his head and laughs the same way. And I must say, even then, a better actor than his brother, Ben. As with many plays, it takes awhile to get going and for the audience to begin to relate to the characters. This was a touching play about a moment in a young man's life. It was so well written and performed. I highly recommend it. I would go see it on stage if I could.
I've decided to create a list of favorite Christmas songs because I want to. Check it out on the right side of this blog where all of my lists are located.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Charlie Brown Christmas

I am listening to a Christmas CD - A Charlie Brown Christmas. There is no music that makes me happier. Why is that? Has this music made me happy since childhood? Charlie Brown and the gang are in the back of my mind as I listen, but mostly it's the happy piano notes that I like. It's just happiness in musical form. My son can play Linus and Lucy on the piano and it's a difficult piece. I'm so glad he likes it as much as I do. Just hearing that rolling beat makes me want to get up and dance!
I went to see New Moon with my youngest son, his friend, and her mom. I liked it! It was better than the first movie, I think because there was more action - just more happening, generally, in that story. The effects are great. The movie works for guys because there was wolf fighting - my son's favorite animals are wolves - and vampires fighting, which face it, you never get to see in real life. Seeing that movie was an indulgence for me because I never go to see "girl movies." Having all boys in my family, we save our movie dollars for Harry Potter, Iron Man, etc. Speaking of Iron Man - we can't wait to see Robert Downey, Jr. in Sherlock Holmes. Yowza!! When literature and hunkiness get together, I swoon!
Watched Frost/Nixon - finally! Soon, it will be time to watch the contenders for THIS year's Oscars. I am so far behind on my movie watching. Still need to see The Reader, Revolutionary Road, and The Wrestler. The last one I just recorded, so that's up for today, I hope. Frost/Nixon was good. I'll bet it was a compelling play. I always liked Nixon. I never saw the original interviews. I relate to Nixon because he was an introverted thinker. He didn't appeal to the masses. He should have been a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. But, he was also paranoid and aggressively pursued "his enemies" while in public office. He had weaknesses. David Frost was interesting to watch because he really was just a talk show host and here he was interviewing a fallen president for ratings and publicity. The two hours went by fast, I can tell you that.
Finished listening to The Wee Free Men. I think I have a soft spot for Scottish stories. The wee men in this book are crazy and delightful and ye cn hardly unnerstand a werd that's sed by them. I should buy the book and see how Terry Pratchett writes their dialogue. Listening to the story is fantastic because the narrator does all the amazing voices and pronunciations and it's like a play. Very fun fantasy story - not just for kids. And the best part is - there are two more books with the same characters! I may listen to those again too.
David Cross' book This is Why I Drink is freaking funny. Not everyone would like his humor probably, but he is a funny guy. I'm looking forward to 5-1/2 more hours of hilarity.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Day the Earth Stood Still

Yes, I watched it even though Keanu Reeves was in it. I figured, hey, he's robotic in most of his roles; this role is perfect for him! Turns out he was fine in the movie. However, the writer did not finish the job he started. There were so many questions by the end of the movie! I love science fiction and this movie could have been so much better. It didn't help that Will Smith's son played the cute little boy that no one watching the movie liked. Who made the choice that the cute kid should be a jerk? You're supposed to have sympathy for your protagonists. the 1950s version and you'll like it, I'm sure. It's kind of slow - not like movies today - so you can knit while you watch it.
Can't wait to listen to David Sedaris' Holidays on Ice. I just downloaded it from and it has 6 new stories. It's a holiday tradition!! Tomorrow on Thanksgiving we will be watching Planes, Trains, and Automobiles. Another tradition. If you haven't seen it - where you been at? It's a really funny movie and when you're home cooking in your own kitchen, it makes you happy that you didn't travel to get your turkey dinner.
Just finished knitting a purple sock and already started the second one. Wearing the second pair I ever made right now. The socks that felt too hot in the summer are deliciously warm in the winter. They feel perfect on my feet. No seams rubbing anywhere. Knitted socks are the best!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

I just finished reading this book. I'm going to talk about the ending, so don't read any further if you haven't read it. Epiphanies have happened to me during my lifetime. Profound ideas about literature, the world, what it means to be alive. I have often worried that just when my life has reached the peak of satisfaction, when everything comes together in perfect harmony and bliss, that is moment when it will all be taken from you. My reason for being on this earth has been completed and I immediately move on. So, perhaps it is better to circle around that attainment of  perfection. Or does something magical keep us from reaching perfection? And is our death merely random? Am I only trying still to find meaning in everything that happens on this earth? Achieving a profound revelation and then dying, or being killed, is a tragedy. I suppose that's all it is in the end. I always think of John Lennon. I never thought much about him at all before he died but now I always think of him and the way he died and wonder if he found harmony and bliss and then was shot dead. He'd done what he came here to do. And I suppose many more people think of him now in a profound and positive way than they would have had he lived. There's something quite compelling about a martyr. That's the main thing that makes Jesus so popular to most people who base their religious beliefs on him. He died for them. What is the meaning in Madame Michel's random death? If it is random, can there be meaning? Yes. For Paloma, it was a lesson in why we should hang on to life and hold it dear, no matter the problems we see in the world; the larger world or in our own small world. Of course, I knew beauty would be the author's reason for living. It may sound simple but it is true and real. Stop and smell the roses. Cliche, but apt. Yesterday, my oldest son said, I love you. I was preoccupied and his words seemed a bit intrusive, but I thought of how other parents don't hear these words from their teenagers and I felt grateful. I went over to him and said, thank you, and gave him a hug. If he never said it again, I would have that memory, that moment. I try to live in the present even as I go along thinking of my next project, my next shopping errand, our next family event. This idea of beauty - noticing it, seeking it, surrounding oneself with it - it's a good one. I'm going to pursue it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

An Hour Before Daylight

I finished listening to this book this morning. It was nice to listen to as I went to sleep...and also in the middle of the night when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. Jimmy Carter evokes his life growing up on a farm with plenty of detail...smells, sights, and sounds that I have only read about. His stories about his mom and dad and family were interesting and although I didn't get a lot of insight into who he was as a president, I think I have an idea of him as a person. It's funny how he reflects on his family being a bit eccentric...and then the sadness of all of his siblings and his dad dying of pancreatic cancer. My dad had that and died from the surgery that would have removed the cancer. I have admired Jimmy Carter for a long time because he has gone beyond his role as a president and created a fantastic legacy, including Middle East negotiations, memoirs, and of course, Habitat for Humanity. I am looking forward to reading his book about Christmas memories this season.
   I am working on EZ's baby surprise jacket. I started on two different kinds of yarn and ended up with Knit Picks' Wool of the Andes that I have left over from another project. It's a very nice yarn although I don't like wool for a baby sweater. Might be too itchy. It will work for this project though. When I go back to the knitting store where I hope to teach this class, I will purchase a yarn that is cotton and something else for ease of care and wear.
  And also, I think EZ could have done a better job of writing instructions for this garment. I'm working on improving the directions.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


I was watching the British version of The Office last night. It was fun because I haven't seen the episodes in a long time. I watched these episodes before the American version was on the air and Ricky Gervais makes me as uncomfortable as ever. You can really despise David Brent but Michael Scott - well, you have to love him. Perhaps it was only serendipity but I think it was the genius of Steve Carell that made his character lovable. That's why our version of the show works...the characters have become lovable. Crazy...but lovable. Like a family.
     I have lots of leftover balls of yarn from all of the blankets that I make. Recently, some friends and I made a Log Cabin blanket that is destined for Project Linus. I still have more yarn, so I began and finished a Granny Square blanket with each round a different color. Using 12 blocks, it is a respectable size for a toddler or young child. I saw this simple scarf on Ravelry and happened to be at a yarn store yesterday and bought yarn to get it started. I was going to make the scarf just by looking at the photo but I ended up buying the pattern. I'm glad I did because now I know how the short rows work and I'm supporting another designer. The yarn I'm using is a lesser weight but I think it will still be fine. I'm using handpainted yarn so I hope to see a nice variation of color when it's finished.
    I listened to The Marriage Bureau for Rich People which I truly enjoyed. It was fun to listen to and I liked the different Indian voices. It had plenty of Indian customs which is always interesting. Not sure what I'll listen to next. I'm catching up on podcasts but will eventually turn to another book. I know I have Wishful Drinking on my iPod which is Carrie Fisher's new book. She is so funny and talented...I'm sure it will be another great listen.
    Really enjoying The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. So much information about the Hmong people. Stuff about the Vietnam war that I didn't know either. Makes me want to listen to A Bright Shining Lie
   I suppose I should watch a movie this weekend. Everyone's been busy and we haven't watched anything as a family. My son wants to see Twilight...I've already seen it...and maybe I'll try getting a movie from Netflix directly to my TV. Saves time not having to watch what we have and waiting for the next disc.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Movie Weekend

Land of the Lost will Will Ferrell. Really got off to a slow start but had some funny moments. The kids liked it. Just a silly movie, I guess. Have you ever seen Sibling Rivalry? It's directed by Carl Reiner and I had forgotten that it had Bill Pullman in it. Bill Pullman doing his off-beat character thing. The movie has 1980s written all over it but it has some funny parts that hold up. If you haven't seen it before it would be quite funny actually. Carrie Fisher plays an uptight sister-in-law to a T. What I suppose I always liked about this movie is that the main character becomes a writer. Another reason whey I like watching Castle. I see myself as a writer yet don't find myself writing all that much. Note to myself - take notice!

Friday, October 16, 2009

One Book Read!

I finished a book. How did I do it? I listened to it! A friend of mine mentioned she was reading A Girl Named Zippy and it sounded like fun. It was. This was a girl who grew up poor but had a mighty spirit. She's written other works of fiction, I believe. This was a memoir. I recommend this book - it was enjoyable and funny. It was especially wonderful listening to the way this little girl thinks and acts. At least her parents understood her because no one else did. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Two Movies Watched

Sort of accidentally, I watched two movies this past week. The whole family watched Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist. It was pretty good; more of a movie for teenagers. My husband and I were disappointed that there wasn't a "playlist." We were hoping for great music; maybe even new music. Oh well. Today I watched Marley and Me because I was working on the second of a pair of mittens that I really needed to get done and it was the kind of movie you don't have to pay too much attention to. I had successfully avoided reading the book and I don't like Jennifer Aniston, but I have to say, the movie was pretty good - it was about family - and Jennifer Aniston did not bug me. In fact, she made a more convincing mother than Owen Wilson made a convincing father. I also didn't think I would cry at the end because I did not love that dog. That dog was not even endearing to me. He was a disaster! Any animal lover would like this movie, but then they've probably already seen it. I received an interesting email last week. My sister-in-law had a hat emergency. My nephew recently lost the hand knit hat I gave him last Christmas and they wondered if I could make him a new one. Of course, I could! I found a photo of him in the hat and matched the yarn that I still have left over from my hat making frenzy last holiday season. I made him another hat and wrote him a nice note. What touched me was that he was so sad to lose that hat. He's 11 years old and I don't get to see him very often, but I must have chosen the right colors or he must sense the love that went into that hat. I received a great big hug across the miles when I received that request. It's amazing how comforting handmade items can be. That's why I make blankets for Project Linus.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Second Movie

I watched Two Weeks Notice over the weekend. It's okay; not bad. I think it loses some momentum in the middle and the ending doesn't have the impact I hoped for. I prefer Never Been Kissed or Music & Lyrics. Also, While You Were Sleeping is one of my faves. I am a big Bill Pullman fan. You probably don't even know who he is but I have liked him since Ruthless People. I am also a fan of Sam Rockwell. He is so funny in Galaxy Quest. I'm still reading The Lost Symbol. I have to switch over to my book group selection which is The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. That one has to be finished in a couple of weeks. My friend, Lisa, recommended A Girl Named Zippy. I downloaded it from and it's read by the author. It's a lot of fun to listen to. That woman has some funny stories from her childhood in Indiana. My younger son is home sick today and we are watching Napoleon Dynamite. It seems hilarious to me again. I haven't watched it in a long time. Perfect for cheering you up when you feel yucky. I'm crocheting a pink baby blanket on commission and then I have a second cabled mitten to plan and knit. I also have a commission for two pairs of fingerless gloves in black. I also have 8" x 8" squares to finish cutting for PL quilts and then a couple of quilt tops to put together for PL. I need to get busy!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Another Movie Watched

I watched a movie I recorded from the Sundance Channel - I Love Your Work. Turns out this movie was co-written and directed by Adam Goldberg. (He of the Beastie Boys fame.) He plays wacky guys on TV and in movies and I saw him briefly in this movie - he didn't star in it. However, the awesome Giovanni Ribisi and equally awesome Franka Potente were in it. It just goes to show that movies on the Sundance Channel are not all award winners. This movie was mildly interesting. The lead character was dealing with fame and obsession and perhaps a descent into madness. It just didn't work in the end and I was less than impressed. Would not recommend watching it although I always support indie films and love small, interesting films. You never know. Speaking of which, the Scottsdale Film Festival is coming to town this month, I believe. They show all the films over at Camelview near Scottsdale Fashion Square. Hoping to attend one of these sometime when I have the time. So many movies to see. Finished a baby blanket in record time. Decided to try selling my baby blankets on craigslist and offering knitting and crochet lesson, too. I'll be looking for more outlets for these services. The Lost Symbol is moving along quickly. Dan Brown has chapters that are only 3 pages long. You feel like you're reading quickly, but you never want to stop because each chapter ending is an OMG! TV shows that are worth watching - Modern Family which had everyone laughing practically non-stop. I like Mercy but Trauma was quite traumatic to watch. I'll try again this week and see if I can stomach it. If you are not watching Ken Burns' National Parks on PBS, you should. Thank goodness we can rent these documentaries eventually. The U.S. Mint will be issuing state quarters starting in 2010 with the states' respective national parks on the reverse side of Washington's head. Pretty cool, right? In case you don't know, you can sign up to receive state quarters and other types of coins from the U.S. Mint when they are issued. They come in a case and are directly from the mint. You can also order silver coins. Tonight, Jim and Pam get married on The Office. Sigh. 

Monday, September 28, 2009


At the moment, I have several projects to work on that are not Project Linus related. I need to make the matching mitten for a pair I am working on for a friend. I will be test knitting a hat and wrist warmers for a friend. I also have several baby blankets and baby hats to crochet and knit for friends. I also do hemming and minor tailoring for my son's high school band. Plus, I bought this fantastically soft yarn on my yarn store expedition on Friday. It's mohair and extremely thin and light. I started a basic triangular shawl but I'm hunting around for something else. It's not that easy to work with - not difficult - just not sure I want to follow a complicated pattern with this stuff. The real beauty of it is in the color and the softness of the yarn. Also, I watched the two hour season premier of House which was mesmerizing. Really great stuff. I watched Grey Gardens again too. I think Drew Barrymore should have won an award. What a character that Edie was. 

Friday, September 25, 2009

One Blanket Made!

I finished my "ASU" blanket yesterday. I'll have a photo up soon. It went pretty fast. I have fun with these medium-sized blankets. I can see how different colors look together and they don't take too long. I've started on a baby blanket in off white. I might want to give it to a friend for a new baby but I might donate it depending on how it turns out. 

I have a confession. My goal is to watch movies but I tend to watch recorded TV more. Lots of great new shows are capturing my attention right now. I'll talk more about these next time.

And...The Last Symbol is amazing. It's about stuff that I haven't heard of and I love it! Makes me want to do research and find out what's true and what isn't. Watched a program on TV today about the Freemasons and it was awful. Lots of theories - and they were lame theories - not enough real information. I have a book about Freemasons. Guess it should go on my reading list.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

One Movie Watched!

It is not necessarily easy to meet these goals. They are an ongoing process. So...I did get one movie watched yesterday. It's Bernard and Doris. Really quite mesmerizing to watch. It was like Grey Gardens in that way. It wasn't your typical movie; more of a character study. Ralph Fiennes was amazing. Just that look in his eyes. What was going on in there? Emmy Awards - didn't watch but read about who won. So many good programs and actors. Too hard to pick just one. I'm reading The Lost Symbol. Not too far in but things are happening already. I started a Project Linus blanket that is scarlet and gold, ASU colors. Kids like to have blankets with team colors. Things are moving along and that is good. I've got some other projects going so can't devote all of my time to my goals but I'm keeping them in mind and that is the point really...making progress.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Day One

I just read a book that I have had sitting on my bookshelf  for eight years. I was prompted to read Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood when I saw on that she has a new book coming out. I was excited about her new book before I knew it was a "follow-up" to Oryx and Crake. I loved Oryx and Crake. It had an it-could-really-happen aspect and was a dire look at the future. The story seemed oh-too-possible but fit with my way of thinking about where we're headed as a species. Margaret Atwood is amazing! She's a straightforward writer and I like that. I enjoy all kinds of writing and I plan to read all sorts of books as I move towards my goal this year. I say, this year, but I don't know how long it will take me to reach the goals I have set. I think one year doesn't put too much pressure on me, but then again, goals force me to act - so we'll see. My Netflix waiting list is about 200 items long (that also includes documentaries and TV shows) so I don't think I'll have trouble finding movies to watch. And Project Linus is my favorite charity to knit and crochet for and I am always creating something to donate. Meeting that goal will be a lot of fun and gives me an excuse to buy more yarn! Although, I do have a separate goal of using up the blanket yarn I have already on hand. You will benefit from my book and movie reviews. Don't worry. I don't synopsize by telling the entire plot or giving away exciting or important details. But, I will hopefully inspire you to read a certain book or watch a certain movie or even make something to donate to your favorite charity. So, for my first book, I am going to read Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. I love these goals! I wonder if I should reward myself somehow at the end. Truthfully, the reward is in working toward the goals. Otherwise, I would just be sitting here.