Friday, March 31, 2006
The day was warm and sunny--another simple reason for gladness. Not that I got to experience much of it... But it's the promise of better days to come. After our monochromatic winter, we're all so very ready for color and new life.
A little knitting has been accomplished this week; zero quilting has happened. But the upcoming weekend should be full of fiber notes. Tall Grass is tomorrow. I don't plan to make a day of it--there isn't enough of Tall Grass to make a day of! But I do want to run down there and see what yarn bargains might be awaiting. And while I'm in the neighborhood, I'll check out the two yarn shops nearby. There will be pictures.
Monday, March 27, 2006
He also devoted a couple paragraphs to my rudeness, unhelpfulness, and general unworthiness to take up space on the planet.
What is with these people? Most of the people we serve are a such a delight. I enjoy my work and feel fulfilled and that I'm making a contribution. This sort of irritation makes my work a whole lot less fun. Speaking of clunkers, there aren't many, but I have a couple names I might submit for consideration.
But no. I'm done with them; no more mental energy devoted to this issue.
On a more positive note, we've been invited to apply for a hefty technology grant. Our library, tiny as it is, is the only public library in the county with a blog and one of very few offering scanning, desktop publishing services, and a circulating digital camera. I think that's pretty cool.
The brain is fried. I'm off to get into the sock monkey pajamas and work on the Kimono Shawl. Five repeats down, a mere twenty to go.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Well, WE had a good time, and a pox on all the rest of you.
Just kidding, of course. But we wondered why, if it's just the two of us, we each drove half an hour east of our own town to spend time with each other. Next week, we're going to stick closer to home and try meeting at the local coffee shop. An inspired idea. Bet they'll be delighted to have some hangers-out on a Sunday afternoon.
Next weekend will be high-fiber indeed. Tall Grass is on Saturday!
And I'm pleased to say that I spoke to the library patron who wants my head on a platter. Not sure if much was resolved--she tells me she's "disgusted" with us--but I think I was able to defuse the personal aspects of the situation. That's a relief to me; this all has cast a pall over my weekend.
Yesterday I was able to put everything on the back burner and trek into the city with a friend to shop at a few of the the myriad ethnic groceries that dot Milwaukee neighborhoods. Above are some shots of things we saw, pictures taken mostly at the Thai grocery at 34th and National. The produce is always so intiguing--there are always lots of herbs and green leafy things I'm not familiar with. Add this to seemingly miles of various sauces and seasonings, shelves of picked garlic, pickled grapes, canned coconut, canned lychees, dried fish, fish-flavored crackers, and more rice and noodles than you ever imagined could exist in one place. The proprietor is a friendly Thai man, always happy to answer our questions or explain things and to joke with us. Way in the back of the shop is a small altar, watching over all the proceedings.
One of the highlights of these shopping trips is Glorioso's, a wonderful Italian grocery on Brady St. Having grown up in a heavily Italian town in northwestern Pennsylvania, Glorioso's always speaks of home to me, even though I'm not even a tiny bit Italian. I managed to spend a large sum on real Parmesan cheese, olives, imported tomatoes (inside the can they're always topped with a sprig of basil), anchovies. My fave from the deli was some salad made from marinated fresh mozzarella, with basil and tomatoes. Had dip into that at midnight last night...
We also stopped at The Spice Market and the Asian Mart on Third Street. The Spice Market is in a dark old storefront. You enter and are just so taken in by the wonderful scent of the place. It's always full of shoppers. You take a number and wait, and it's no hardship at all, getting to wander around and look and sniff for awhile. It's kind of like shopping in a bead store--you don't really think you need anything much, but still you manage to spend a fair amount of money and exit with a Very Small Bag.
The high point of the day was getting to have lunch with Will. He joined us at The Jewel of India, also on Third Street. Lunch buffet! Lovely Saag Paneer, Rice Biryani, and Chicken Tikka--all one could eat. It was great to see Will--it's been a couple weeks--and he was full of chatter about his job, and the new band, which is just getting going. After lunch, we dropped him at his practice place, watching him lug his 40 pound amp up the stairs.
I love days like this. Spring isn't really here yet, but the promise of it is in the air. It's great to see a bit of the city; wish I was able to get in town more often.
Friday, March 24, 2006
Actually, there have been charges that I have waived in the past just to placate her.
Everyone who deals with the public has irrational customer stories. You have to learn to project the right combination of obsequiousness and authority and it can be a difficult balance to achieve. I've had a couple encounters with her and felt distinctly that they hadn't gone well.
It grieves me--I'm not a confrontational type. We're a tiny public library and just can't afford any ill will in the community. So I plan to call her and make nice, to see if we can get onto a better footing together.
Adventures in diplomacy...
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Show and tell is always inspirational. Or depressing, as in my case, because it seems like I just get so little done to show for myself. "I used to be a quilter", she said wistfully.... I've actually turned out precious little in the last year. Two lousy baby quilts last summer, and that's it. Sigh.
Mumbo Gumbo seems to be the new big thing in this group. See Diane's up at the top. Sue, who usually sticks with the traditional, is also trying her hand at one in batiks, below.
This is one of those designs that can be many things to many people, and would look great in many different palettes and selections of fabric. I'm thinking back to Judy Hasheider's most adaptable Cabin Tracks that worked equally well made up in blacks and whites, brights, Civil War Repros, and batiks. You can't make that claim about very many quilt patterns.
Casey shared a couple art quilts-in-the-making, both group challenges. No pictures of those here; her plans will remain shrouded in secrecy.
Sue brought a just-made traditional top, warm and welcoming, in pinks and browns. It's a winning, chocolate-y color combination, string-pieced into blocks with corner treatments that make pinwheels when it's all put together. Mellow and lovely. An enveloping hug in fabric. Just yummy.
And there was knitting content. Renee, ever the dutiful wife, worked on wool socks for Sam, reinforcing the heels with wooly nylon. The yarn was from White Dove farm. Hope to buy some more of that myself when we hit the Tall Grass Festival in a couple weeks. Tall Grass! I'm watching it snow today. We'll be expecting the typical early-spring rite of attending Tall Grass, making our way through horizontal snow stinging all uncovered portions of anatomy. April in Wisconsin--an exercise in character-building!
Back to last night's Seams gathering. Flo was also working on socks, black and white self-striping ones.
And finally, to me. The Kimono Shawl also made its first maidenly appearance in public. Four repeats down. And this is big: I find that I CAN work on it, while talking, with a minimum of screwups. Now that is progress.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
It was a beautiful sunny Saturday--perfect for getting together with Jane to trek over to Madison for lunch and some shopping. Madison is always a treat for me and Jane works there, so she knows of many interesting nooks and crannies that I've never seen. Jane is not a knitter or a sewer, but bless her heart, she's always on the lookout for yarn shops and quilt-related places for me. (If it hadn't been for her, we never would have found the wonderful Amish farm shop near Chautauqua Lake, on our Pennsylvania/New York State trip last summer.)
Madison has some unique and particularly charming spots for crafty types. Our first stop was Lakeside Fibers on Lakeside Street. Wonderful place! The shop seems to go on forever, stocked with lovely and inspirational yarns. A lower level was full of cone yarns and beautiful looms. (Weaving is near the top of my list for my next lifetime...)
A small class was in session in the front area of the shop, but most wonderful was the back area of the shop, open and sunny, with huge windows looking out onto Lake Monona. This back area houses a coffee shop and it was full of Saturday folks, enjoying coffee, chatting, and knitting.
Lucky Madison folk. Lakeside Fibers would make another most excellent hangout.
I'd never heard of Booked for Murder, a bookstore on University Avenue which stocks only mysteries. We stopped there so Jane could pick up a copy of the book she has to have speed-read by Thursday for her book club.
We did lunch at P.F. Chang's in Middleton and finished out the day with a little retail therapy in that area, mainly at Chico's.
Friday, March 17, 2006
And now lately, I'm becoming aware of some ominous Adjectives.
I'm the oldest person at my work. One of my co-workers (born the year I graduated from high school) was telling me that at her former job, she knew people my age who were pretty much set in their ways and stodgy. And she assures me I'm not like that! Not at all!
Then my boss pipes up (11 years younger than me): "Kathie, you're so active."
She then proceeded to dig the hole deeper by explaining that I am so "active for my demographic".
Yeah. So that's gotten me thinking about Adjectives like Active. Adjectives that I don't so much like the sound of any more. Adjectives I don't want any part of yet. Or maybe ever.
Let's see: Spunky. Feisty. Active. Alert.
Please skip the adjectives. I'm just me. And happy birthday to me today.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
DH is out of town this week. I attended a library workshop 25 miles away yesterday afternoon, and when I finally got home, was glad to be there. When he's gone, I can experiment in the kitchen a bit, trying things he might not be too crazy about. I crave the spices in Indian food, where at best he can take them or leave them alone. Last night I was able to indulge that craving. I had a seasoning mix for an Indian Chick Pea Stew and it turned out very nicely. Looked good too.
Nothing else was going on and so right after dinner, I was able to put on my Sock Monkey pajamas, curl up on the couch, and knit on my shawl all evening in front of a steady stream of Busby Berkeley musicals on TCM. I love 1930s movies, the costuming and the funky old music especially. Last night was the motherlode--Footlight Parade, Dames, 42nd Street, and Golddiggers of 1933.
The only thing that would have made the whole thing better was a nice high stack of my grandmother's ginger cookies. But I've been trying to change my snacking ways, and I'm happy to say that the cookie part never occurred to me till I was writing this just now. That in itself is a step in the right direction.
OK, the progress report: I have two full repeats finished on the shawl--that leaves only 23 more repeats to do. Heh. At this rate, there may be a lot of progress reports with very small progress. But it's coming along, and I'm liking what I see.
Speaking of lacy things, Eunny of See Eunny Knit has been posting, part by part, a very clear and detailed tutorial on knitting lace. It's full of practical wisdom and advice, and it all makes sense to me, after having played with knitted lace just a bit. I imagine she'll have it linked on a sidebar eventually, but for now, just scroll through the postings to see the various installments.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Later on, I drove up to Brookfield. Had to get a birthday gift for a distant cousin in Bradford, and run a few other errands. One of the other errands was to buy some fancy coffee for my DH, who has recently come to appreciate the good stuff. You have to understand that I detest coffee--the smell, the taste, everything about it. But I went into the Brookfield Starbucks and bought some of the loathsome stuff for him.
When I got home, DH was properly thankful and went to brew some of the new coffee right away. But alas. What I had failed to do was to get the Starbucks people to GRIND the coffee so that it might actually be used. Sigh. How was I to know?
Oh well. I'll be in Brookfield again soon. I'm sure Starbucks will grind it for me if I take it back and ask nicely.
The reason I'll be back in Brookfield soon is that I have successfully completed a three-year quest to find well-built bookcases to buy in order to tame the large piles of books set on most horizontal surfaces around here and to turn our living room into a library. In these three years I have checked out every furniture store in the Milwaukee area and gotten quotes from woodworkers about custom-made bookshelves too. Sticker shock!! It's just amazing to me that bookcases could be so hard to find: quality ones that might be used to hold a book or two without the shelves becoming bowed. I had about given up.
ANYWAY. Renee had mentioned an oak shop at Greenfield and Sunnyslope that I should check out. I stopped by today on my way home from Brookfield and was blown away by the quality, the finish, and the options. Great prices and I can order exactly what I want. So, I'll be heading back over there later this week to place the order.
The days of Massive Piles of Books around here are nearing an end and I'm just hugely delighted about all this.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
For the first time in nearly a year, our knitting group actually was able to get together (most of us, at least) in one spot, at one time. We met here; this seems to be somewhat central and I love to have them all. Lots of projects, lots of show and tell. This is a group primarily made up of quilters. Most of us came to knitting rather late, but we're making up for lost time.
My mother and aunt, who were devoted knitters, used to say to me, "You could knit." I would say, in my flip way, "Yeah, next lifetime." I couldn't see how to wedge any more hobbies onto my already over-full dance card. But then at one quilt retreat several years ago, I watched one Sue teaching the other Sue how to knit a sock, and I was transported back in the mists of time, remembering that I had once actually knit a pair of mittens. Those socks were very intriguing, and I could see the relationship of socks to mittens. It was only a few weeks and DD Caroline and I were taking baby steps with our knitting needles. (Caroline had travelled a bit of a parallel path: her friends, even her male friends, were knitting too.)
Unfortunately I didn't get the camera cranked up in time to catch some of the really good stuff today. Nancy wore a bias-knit sweater made from yarn she dyed herself. It was a heathery mix of white, rose, and blue tones, set off with the occasional red stripe. Lots of punch and zip, very nicely done. And she brought a beauteous small purple lace shawl made from a Hazel Carter pattern from Blackberry Ridge.
But the highlight of the afternoon had to be the slide bracelets made by Liz and Karen in a beading class in Racine. Made of vintage buttons and peyote-stitch charms, they were sensational. Wish I had the presence of mind to get pictures--sorry to tantalize without the necessary follow-through.
And Liz and Karen, bless their hearts, brought me a present. Little tiny nuns to add to my fledgling nun collection. What more could I ask? I'm feeling more spiritual and contemplative already.
While everyone was here, I couldn't concentrate enough to work on the Kimono Shawl, so I buzzed along on the interminable Trekking socks. NOW I'm going to work on the shawl.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
This Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift is a lovely warm gray yarn. So glad I got talked into by the nice people at Yarns by Design in Neenah. The character of this shawl will be softer and fuzzier than the silk yarn used in the illustration in Folk Shawls.
Spring is beginning to dance her little dance of fits and starts. We northerners know it so well. But still we get our hopes up on a day like today when the mercury hits nearly 50 degrees. Only yesterday it was 13 degrees when I bundled up for my morning walk and threats of snow lurk in the offing for early next week. But in the meantime I intend to enjoy the 40s and 50s, gray as the days may be. Hope springs eternal.
And speaking of hope springing eternal, in the past few days, both my DH and I have seen pairs of sandhill cranes flying overhead or alighting nearby. We're hoping against hope that the pair of cranes that hung out in our backyard all last summer and early fall return this year. To that end, DH set out a pan of cracked corn today, right where they liked it last year. We'll be keeping watch.
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Pillow by Lisa Congdon of A Bird in the Hand. Fabulous contemproary take on the traditional Log Cabin block.
Crunchy textured knit by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee of Yarn Harlot
Quilt by Wendy Huhn
I want to explore them all, and yet here I sit at work with Other Duties that ought to be attended to. Like what they're paying me to do.
My own fiber news is of the character-building variety. I ended up working late last night, just late enough to miss the Milwaukee Art Quilters meeting. When I did get home, I figured I'd have some time to devote to the Kimono Shawl. Well, the time I had was spent ripping back two rows--I'd missed two yarn-overs two rows back. Argggh. By bedtime I was back to where I needed to be. But with no forward progress.
The ripping back is a good experience--I think you need to get plenty comfortable with un-knitting when you attempt this lace stuff. But enough already. I get it!
Tonight there's a funeral to attend. Knitting may not happen at all. And so it goes.
Later edit: It was brought to my attention that I originally didn't clearly enough identify the makers of the pieces pictured. It was an oversight; a thousand apologies.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
This has been a difficult week, to say the least.
A guy from the community who helped us immeasurably at the library in the early days of computerization suffered a ruptured aneurism a week or so ago. We all hoped against hope and hung onto any news we heard about his condition, but each day the news grew worse. He passed away on Friday, only 58 years old. He had stopped in the library the day before he was taken ill, his usual cheery self. So glad I got the chance to chat with him a bit. No clue it was for the last time.
Also on Friday morning, a house fire not two miles from here killed three members of a family. Still unbelieveable to me.
So it's been a somber weekend. Will has been here and that's been great. He did some maintenance on my computer: things are zipping along nicely thanks to his efforts.
In fiber news, I have to say that despite the dye lot issues, I'm extremely happy with the Wallaby sweater. It fits very well. And I love the kangaroo pocket...
This picture does more to capture the richness of the yarn color than any other pictures I've taken. It's a light brown, but with hints of lots of other colors in it. Very nice.
As I was knitting it, I know I made some disparaging comments about the hardness of the Black Water Abbey yarn. I'm here to eat crow on that one--after blocking, the fabric developed a nice drape, and I'm very pleased with the yarn. I will definitely knit with it again. In fact, my devious mind is running to thoughts of buying more, in a different colorway, and making another Wallaby. Maybe the next one will actually get a hood?
The pattern makes up into a good basic sweater. With adjustments and variations, many sweaters could be born from it. As it is, I improvised a garter stitch border on both the bottom edge and the sleeve edges, rather than doing ribbing. Turned out great--I love the tunic-iness of it.
But on to new things: after swatching, I've started my next major project--another lace shawl. It's the Kimono Shawl from the wonderful book Folk Shawls, by Cheryl Oberle. This one will be rectangular, so that I can run markers along and not have to do all that infernal counting. If it hadn't been for the counting, Kiri would have been completed weeks earlier.
Anyway, the yarn is Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift, in a pale gray shade. I'm knitting on size 6 Addis. The plan is to make it for the firstborn, but if it really turns out well, she may have to fight me for it.
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
Tonight was the third year anniversary of Seams For Fun, our monthly sewing group which meets at Bonnie's house in Wales. We congregate around five o'clock, or whenever everyone can get loose from their lives. The M.O. is simple. We drink. Then we eat. Then we sew.
There's a floating number of people who attend. Some evenings have seen as few as three people, other times there may be a dozen or more. Sometimes the machines are humming all evening, other times we're all doing handwork. These are mostly traditional quilters, with a very, very inspiring standard of workmanship. I would do a round robin with this group any day, and I don't say that about everyone I know.
Knitting is allowed, which is a good thing, as sometimes a small knitting project is all I have the psychic strength to lift after a hard day.
But oh. After a glass of "chateau box" wine, my soul is nourished and I'm ready to burn the midnight oil.
Tonight Diane did the Tom Sawyer thing and enlisted help in pinning a gorgeous scrappy top. Many hands, etc., etc.
Diane had been the most prolific Olympic quilter. She finished TWO other quilt tops in the course of the watching of Olympic curling 24/7. (Diane and Bonnie are avid curlers. Bonnie even has a butter dish in the shape of a curling stone. Hard core.) Here's one of Diane's completed tops--a combination square in square and rail fence variation with lots of zip and verve.
Judy-from-Illinois, a specialist in all-red-quilts-all the-time, was beginning yet another red quilt. This one will be stars, full of bandana prints.
One of our number, Cheryl, is an accomplished longarm artiste, and had just completed quilting this exquisite lap quilt for Sue. I used to work with Cheryl and always admired the meticulousness of her work back then. She's continued the high standards as she's built her longarm business. Every quilt she does has equal care put into it as if it were Cheryl's own quilt.
Feast your eyes:
I repeat: this is LONGARM quilting. Incredible.
As for me, I knit tonight. I finished swatching for the new shawl, and worked on sock number two of the current pair, which is STILL the Trekking yarn, begun last October. I am truly embarrassed to admit how long it takes me to knit a pair of socks.
Honestly, these people who finish a pair of socks in a weekend: there's something I don't understand about that. Like HOW. They can't be using size 1 needles, that's for sure.
Hey, Casey, where were you tonight?? We missed you.