Saturday, January 29, 2011

I'm knitting SOCKS!!!

Oh my. I'm all a-flutter.

One of my goals as a knitter was to learn to knit socks. With any luck, THIS YEAR. Everyone in my Friday Knitting Group (yeah, original...) knits socks. Lots of them. My LYS owner is even knitting them for her hubby using the Conjoined Creations "Flat Feet" yarn. The website for the yarn folks is but I couldn't find a direct link to Flat Feet. They've updated their website, however, so it might take a little hunting.

Basically, if I can digress for a moment, Flat Feet is yarn that does NOT come hanked or skeined. It's flat. In fact, it's hand-dyed, yummy yarn that you could take out of the package and wear as a scarf. You knit whatever you're knitting out of it by unraveling the pre-knitted yarn.

However, I'm not knitting with that yet. My LYS owner has hit upon a great system. You learn to knit on DPNs first. On worsted weight yarn. So I'm now in possession of size 7 DPNs and a ball of Encore Worsted in a lovely autumn colorway. And I'm tellin' ya. This is THE way to learn to knit socks.

First off, you can see what you're doing. I like small. I love counted cross-stitch, and for me, it's 18-count or smaller. But knitting is different. I want to see what I'm doing before I start knitting on toothpicks! And yes, I'd love to learn Magic Loop, but my LYS owner rightly says you have to "understand" the sock before you run right to Magic Loop.

My FIRST Sock!!
Here's a picture of my FIRST SOCK (I'm soooooooooooo excited) - I'm done turning the heel (which wasn't nearly as traumatic as I thought it would be) and I'm working on the instep.

I love the color. They have another theory at the LYS. You do two pairs. Immediately. That way, you imprint the process on your brain. And hey - if you're knitting on size 7 DPNs, not only (a) are you  impressing the heck out of people (don't tell them you only actually use TWO needles at a time - let 'em think it's really a skill!); but (b) you aren't going to poke your eyeballs out if you mess up. I actually re-started this one all by myself; I had "magically" inserted some yarn-overs...sometimes the DPNs will accidentally pick up a stitch. Anyway, I had 3 of them and I thought that even I couldn't live with that. But jeeze - with the larger needles and yarn, I was back to my starting point before I could even amaze myself with re-starting!

So I've already planned to do a brown pair - I need a brown pair to match some snow boots I have, and for the life of me, I can't find thick brown socks. The Encore is mostly wool, but some polyester. Lots of loft; you could wear these for booties around the house or very easily in clogs.

Someone now please tell me that Kitchener isn't all that hard!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Shower Was GREAT!!

So my sister and I threw a shower for her daughter-in-law. The baby is due (and I've been chatting about this off and on) late February - change in plans, because he WAS due in March.

I did the cake and provided the food. The food was kind of thanks to GFS (I wasn't messing with spanokopita on my own, thanks!) and then my mom and me. I did mess with Jamaican Dumplings. Google the recipe: they were FANTASTIC!!

Mod Monkey Cake for 30 people
Here's a picture of the cake. They're registered at Babies R Us for the "Mod Monkey" layette. The cake was fudge marble, chocolate filled. The brown used on the design is chocolate buttercream. The colors in the dots are the colors of the Mod Monkey layette, and we even got Jelly Bellies in those colors for the snack bowls we put out.

The menu was as follows:

* Chicken Salad w/croissants
* Goat Cheese, Tomato relish bruschetta
* Jamaican Dumplings
* Cocktail meatballs
* Spanokopita
* Pigs-in-blankets (weenies in crescent rolls)
* Hot artichoke dip
* Cheese tray, veg tray, sandwich twirls
* Texas Caviar
* Chips/crackers with spinach dip

And the baby cake. We also did games. I was hoping to get the other mother-in-law involved in the games, but I ended up being the MC here. My sister, a wonderful nurse, can't exactly command a room if it doesn't have anything to do with a medical emergency... But I can actually get people's attention if I have to.

The games, most of which I found online, were as follows:

~Baby Word Scramble (baby items, scrambled - figure out the word)
~Baby Food Guess (baby food containers with labels blocked out - don't taste but figure them out)
~How Many Pins in the Baby Food Jar?
~Gift Lottery (Which gift will Mom get the most of? Winner for this shower: Onesies)
~Pin the Sperm On the Egg... We saved THAT for last.

We had a lovely time, and even had the playoff game on. Amazingly, my gift wasn't the only handmade one she got. I'm so happy with that, because out of all of them but one, the handmade items came from her girlfriends! A crocheted afgan with 3-D piggy faces and piggie-rumps on it; a handmade quilt; a baby jacket and booties; then of course my selection, pictured below.

Crib-sized afghan; car-seat sized blanket; 2 hats
We joked that the hats were bright enough that, if the somewhat absent-minded dad ever laid the baby down, he could SEE the hat and remember where he left the baby!!

Here's the hanky-moment. The mom-to-be was handed a package by HER mom, with the comment, "I've waited a long time to give you this."

She opened it. We all gasped. In the box was a twin-sized double-sided quilt. It was made by her Grandma, who had died when she was a little girl. In the box was also a note, in Grandma's handwriting, "To Susie for her first baby." Yes, tissues were brought out from purses. I have a lovely shot of it.

I was the official photographer, so I will be preparing a CD for her to use as she wants. We had a ton of food left. Seriously, wayyyyyyyyyyy too much food, but I think that's an ethnic defect we have. We're so afraid we might not be able to feed everyone that we make enough for a small army.

My niece had friends over for the game after the shower, so she took a good 1/2 of it or more, which is fine for us! I'm almost done eating leftovers, and between my mother and sister, I think we're all pretty sick of it now.

I'm glad everyone had a good time, but I'm so glad it's over! Oh, along with my gift, I included a Chicago Bears football and a "My First Bears" cap... My mother, for some inexplicable reason, is a Packers fan. We think she must've conked her head on something... But we wanted to make sure the baby was raised right. I'm assured that he will be. But I wouldn't put much past my mom!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Duels? Really?

So apparently, now, the Republicans have gotten their talking points in order.

The new message: "The shooting in Arizona is no big deal. We used to settle differences in this country with duels."

Pardon me while I gather up my outrage.

Yes, historically, men fought duels. Over stupid things such as perceived slights to women, their own honor and sometimes just because they could.

But those duels never took out innocent civilians. Or 9-year-old little girls.

I thought I couldn't be disgusted by this any more than I already was.

I was wrong.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Is This What We Have Come To?

This weekend, I was "sick a-bed" with some nasty bronchitis. I hadn't had the computer on, and I was wrapped up in blankets and elkhounds trying to get better before I had to go to work. My Hubby was kind enough to go on an "old movie" binge with me, because I know so many of them that if I napped, I didn't miss anything.

It was with horror that I came into the room to see that a US Congresswoman was shot. In the head. At nearly point-blank range. And a nine-year-old little girl who was born on 9/11 and who was thrilled to see her Congresswoman was killed. By someone who'd posted YouTube ramblings saying that the government was "using mind control with grammar" - a teaching of some whack-job in Wisconsin. Really? Grammar? Nine-tenths of Americans don't even use grammar correctly. Much less would it be likely that they would be able to be brainwashed via that method. Grammar-guy did say in today's Chicago Tribune that while he does indeed believe the government is brainwashing via grammar, he doesn't see the connection between his teachings and this guy's shootings. It does make you blink a couple of times.

The sheriff who arrived at the scene denounced the shooting, saying that it was his opinion that the "increasing vitriolic rhetoric" of daily politics and radio shows was partly to blame.

And you know what? He's right. I am absolutely incensed at John Kyl, a Republican, who said basically that the sheriff didn't know what he was talking about. Really, Mr. Kyl? And how much time do you spend on the streets in Arizona? How much do you really know about what goes on in a day-to-day, Fox Misinformation News society in a state so consevative that some politicians during the recent elections virtually goaded their supporters to perpetrate violence on their opponents? You should be ashamed of yourself.

So should Sarah Palin. Who only now took down the gunsight map. Please don't think that most of us are stupid enough to say that those cross-hairs were "surveyor symbols." Dumb it down to its easiest explanation and they're cross-hairs. Who has in my opinion incited people to treat political assemblies as reasons to come armed and dangerous by sending messages such as "Don't retreat, RELOAD."

So should the conservative blogosphere who are now saying there's no way that "A" connects to "B" in this incident. Really? This wasn't Congresswoman Gifford's first rodeo. Right after she voted for healthcare reform, her office was vandalized. No connection, you scoff. Again, it amazes me how some right-wing bloviators fail to understand action=consequence. It's a pretty basic equation and you don't have to be a math genius to understand.

Let me give it you in a form easy enough for a kindergartener to understand. You take the "action" of tossing an apple up in the air. The "consequence" is that it falls. Either you catch it (a good consequence) or it falls onto the floor and splits open or bruises (a bad consequence). 

Nobody with a shred of logical thought can fail to understand that hate speech brings on hate crimes. Yes, American democracy has always been heated. Look at the 1800s when one pro-slavery member of Congress literally beat an anti-slavery Congressman on the floor of the Congress because they disagreed. Look at the 1930s, when Fr. Coughlin had millions of radio listeners and he blasted his own version of anti-government rhetoric to listeners all over the US. And look at the 1960s. Two Kennedys assasinated. George Wallace paralyzed. Martin Luther King assasinated. By people who disagreed with their messages.

Do we want to go back to that? It would be easy to do so. Far easier now because of the 24/7 news and information cycles we now have. You're a mouse-click away from finding a group that caters to your particular brand of ire. And you're also a mouse-click away from some really phenomenal information and resources. And again, you're a mouse-click away from arming yourself with weapons that weren't available to the general public a generation ago.

I'm not anti-gun - as I've had to state many times. I'm anti-stupid. I'm anti-hating-people-so-shooting-them-is-logical. I'm afraid for the fearful because I see a hunkering down and instead of daily instances of helping one another, we've come nearly to a survivalist mode where "it's either you or me, and if my gun's handy, it'll be YOU." And I'm afraid for those of us who are not fearful, because we often become collateral damage. The things people do that are shining examples of humanity are newsworthy only because the hate and discontent are now part of our daily lives.

The trick is to know when to back off, look yourself in the mirror and say, "If I acted on this, who would it hurt?" Right now, we all need to back off. We all need to check our rhetoric and find out how to come to a decent middle ground before more gunshots ring out and before someone is killed.

Keith Olbermann's Special Comment the other night put this into perspective. Look at it here and think about what he's saying:

Yesterday, my kids and I were talking. My oldest boy said to me, "You know, I feel sorry for your generation." I asked why, seeing as his generation inherited 2 wars, recession and a job market in the toilet.

He said, "Because you lived during a time when you saw the best that this country was able to become. And now it's all crap. My generation? We know it sucks. But we've never known anything else. We're cynical because we see the nastiness and we don't feel like we'll get a chance to make it better. But you guys knew the 'better' part and now you're looking at the crappy part. It must make you sad."

Yes, son. It does.