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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And it's done!

I know, a month was a bit of overkill for a single sweater but in reality, it was only about three weeks. You see, I got the actual knitting done the day I returned to work, but I didn't do the seaming until the day after Christmas. Why you may ask? Because I despise sewing in all forms. Quite literally. Just not a fan. My mother did teach me how to sew when I was a kid, and I am able to sew when the need is there, but it lacks any form of enjoyment for me and therefore I do not wish my presence as I seam on my coworkers. So, I finally did the dang sewing, and this is where it lead me.
Whatcha think?

I'm quite proud of the damn thing myself. And now, I am done with the knitting of the poncho shawl, and as soon as it is done blocking and I get that bad boy's seam done, I will have pictures of it as well. I know, you're just waiting with baited breath, aren't you? Self delusion in moderation is really quite good for your mental health I hear. Actually, I am working on writing the pattern out for it. I have the charts for both cables pieces done, but there's those that aren't comfortable with charts so I'm writing out row by row instructions for it as well. Then I plan on writing it to a PDF file and providing it here if anyone is interested in it. Mainly, I'd love to see some other people takes on it since I ran with the basic shape from a pattern that was posted by someone else and did my own thing with the rest. I'm always amazed at a group of knitters creativity.

As for Wyoming, the winter wind that previously teased us with her arrival and gentle blows through our winter scarves, down our necks and past the wind flap of our toughest zippers, has decided to smite us with her gusts that arrived yesterday and done nothing but strengthen in the last day. It has made any outdoor activity such as dog walking somewhat miserable at best with cold deadened skin, to absolutely comical as you try to stay upright in a 55mph gust. If someone had recorded me earlier at the river with the dogs as I was blown across a patch of ice, I would find a way to post it here for your laughs. I know I felt ridiculous as I kept my feet, and I'm sure it looked as equally so.

I hope everyone's Christmas was wonderfully relaxed and you are enjoying a couple days respite before the New Years celebrations begin. Stay Safe Kids.


Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Joyful Holiday

Please ignore the screeched curses from the kitchen and the banging of pots and pans as I pretend to be calm about tomorrow's dinner. Instead listen to the true intent I hope my voice has as I tell you all to have a wonderful holiday, regardless of whichever holiday you may celebrate with the returning of the sun's light. And I pray that you are more prepared than I am, despite my fervent prayers, wishes and promises to myself that next time, I will do better. I don't think Bob belives me that the quiet mumblings to myself are Christmas Carols like I told him.

This evening as I await the oven to finish it's self cleaning cycle so that my muffins and pecan pies do not smell of burning grease as it smokes from the bottom of the oven, I decided to take a few minutes to send out some holiday cheer. Truly, I hope all your families are happy and safely tucked away into their cozy (northern people) or comfortably air conditioned (southern people) homes enjoying the company of their family and other loved ones. If you're like our family, there's probably already been some raised voices, bruised feelings and other assorted emotional ridiculousness, but hopefully like us you see your way through it all. If Mom is telling you that those mumblings to herself as she scurries about preparing the feast are Christmas carols, just run with it. Better yet, offer to wash the dishes. You'll be the favorite kid for at least an hour. Whatever you do, do not mock her by telling her to calm down. I promise you will realize within 5 seconds that she was in fact calm.

And if, like me, you are feeling harried, let me offer some advice:

1. Remember to breathe.

2. Remember, all bleeding stops.

3. Remember, "There are four kinds of homicide; felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy". Lecherous asshole Uncle Harold, would most likely fall into last two categories but it's hard to be jolly from a jail cell until the court rules with you.

4. Do not pick up that open shift on Friday night because someone called in sick... Your family appreciates your sanity. Especially when said sanity is notably lacking.

5. And for us knitters... Today is not the day to think, "You know, that cabled poncho really needs a slick little blue panel that connects the two ends. What, I can't find a knotwork piece that fits it but this cool metalwork piece can easily be translated to knit work? Well, let me just chart that out, I'm sure it will only take a few minutes to work it all out." Yeah, really not the day for that.

But forgive me for being a bit smug about it's success. Screw pecan pies, I have a nifty blue panel.

At least I didn't decide to attack the seaming of the sweater. Even my sanity has limits, just ask the dogs. They've seen that scary dark edge.

Truly, I hope you all have a wonderful and safe holiday.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So, so close

Two sleeves, check.
Front, check.
Back, check .

Time to sit and seam while working 12 hour night shifts less than a week from Christmas? Bwaaahahahahaha. So sorry, that slipped out.

But, until I can sit down in the quiet to do the dreaded seaming (Sorry, I hate sewing in all forms), I have started this little doozy.
It's a poncho style shawl that I was inspired to design from "illhikers" posting of a lion brand pattern. I love this particular knot, but it feels very Scandinavian to me. Not particularly Celtic. I'm thinking of calling the design the Valkyrie. Whatcha think, cheesy? I promise, it's going to be kind of classy, despite the term "poncho".

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nothing much here

And that is why I have failed to do any posting in the last couple days despite this weird inkling that I really needed to post. There was simply nothing of much importance to blog about. No fun little story to share, or some thought I found the need to throw out there. Nada. Nothing. But regardless, here I am at 2am, so let's get started.

I finished the last of the Christmas shopping, and in doing so, the dogs bought me a little something like they do every year. We all need our delusions, please let me have mine. I don't believe in Santa but instead to choose to believe that my dogs are kind hearted beasts that don't constantly think about how to fill their perpetually empty stomachs and where and how frequently to piss; but instead, choose to look for thoughtful gifts for their owner. In this case they replaced by finicky older point and shoot digital camera with a slim little Canon PowerShot ELPH100HS. I thought it being an ELPH was ironic since it was a Christmas gift. It fits in my Rebel's camera bag and is a nice quick little point and shoot for when you don't want to mess with the big camera.

And of course, since they gave me such a wonderful gift, I had to try it out with pictures of them.
Sullivan, Tucker, & the Smudge Cat
Emmitt and Shiela
And, I'm to the sleeves of the Ansley Sweater. I decided to do them both at the same time on a long circular to assure they are the same length. Yeah... I can do socks two at a time but I seemed to have stumped myself good on this one.

First, I found that I forgot to work the second sleeve as required. Then I realized that if I did the sleeves as directed by the pattern, they were going to be huge so I ripped back, re-worked the math and came up with a way to start the cuff smaller and increase to the originally requested number. Except, my math was wrong. So I tried again. Then I forgot to work the second sleeve again. This morning finds me with about 7 inches of two sleeves and dare I say, they seem to be going okay? I'm not going to imply smooth sailing, that would tempt the knitting deities to smite my smarmy ass. So, they're going, soon I hope they will be done and I can start seaming.  Who am I kidding, I hate seaming but I just want the frigg'n sweater done.

I have the next project waiting in the wings. I saw a pattern on another site when someone put out a plea for help on it and it inspired an idea. So of course I had to sit down with a good book, excel, a calculator, and some stash yarn to plot the whole thing out. I'm really excited for it and already have in mind of who to give it to.

And last, but not least on the list to share is tonight's baking. I was informed by the guy that his office is having a holiday potluck and he was planning on taking paper plates and plastic silverware... Excuse me, what? That offended by cooking sensibilities. And, since I have been craving my mom's Christmas pumpkin bread, it just gave me an excuse to whip up a double batch (Gaawwwdddd, I love the new Kitchen-Aid mixer! Just as a side note), have two loaves for me and three dozen muffins with cream cheese frosting (Did I mention that new mixer and my adoration in how well it works?) and some nifty wreath icing.
 Okay, so I'll never be a professional cake decorator, and I'm okay with that.

Anyway, it's time to head back to work, so I hope you all have a great week. Be good, don't smack strange kids in the mall across the back of the head for being as dumb as their parents. Santa, errr, the dogs are watching. Besides, you don't want to damage their remaining firing synapses, God knows they'll survive long enough to breed. They always do.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Christmas Season

Despite the popular opinion, I am not a total scrooge. In fact, We even have a Christmas tree and I set it up today. See?
Now, why today you might ask? Why not sooner? Because I believe all Holidays should have their own time, and Thanksgiving needs to come to a close before I start celebrating Christmas. Yes, that means I do not attend Black Friday events and you will NEVER; and I say that with full security in all that is holy, NEVER see me in line for a midnight opening for the best sale prices.

You may ask me, "Q, what do you have against sale prices?". And I would reply that I have nothing against sale pricing. What I do have an issue with, is that Christmas shopping is supposed to be about finding a gift that means something to the recipient. Not the best deal on the most desired electronic gadget of the year. "Ahhh..." I hear you say as you nod, "You have a problem with consumerism." And there you would be closer to the point. Although, in general I realize that consumerism makes our economy run, and I see my role in the grand role of consumption. But what I see as the issue, is consumerism for consumptions sake. In scrambling to get the best price on the best toys I feel like we've lost site of Christmas; therefore you will hear my fuming when the Christams ads and decorations start going up before Halloween, much less Thanksgiving.

One, Halloween continues to be my favorite holiday. I love giving sugar packed goodies to other people kids and sending them away as I wave and shut the door on the tantrum that is sure to occur shortly before bed time. And two,I love Thanksgiving. The whole cooking a meal and being thankful for the gift of family to come over and share in it, whether the family is by birth or choosing. On that note this years meal was wonderful despite what the neighbors who witnessed the Kitchen Aid exiting the kitchen window may think or say. It was lovely. I did have the forethought through the red haze of rage to open the window and remove the screen. But dinner was wonderful, and the rage had passed.
And reveling in the joy and thankfulness of the year, is why I purposely wait to put up the Christmas decorations. I feel as though the other holidays get swallowed up by the sheer urge to buy Buy BUY! Which, if it were to give Give GIVE, I would maybe be more into it. But it's not. It's for the sake of buying. I was horrified while watching the news after Black Friday this year and heard all the interviews of the people who were buying for themselves. They were out to get that big screen TV, not to get someone else that big screen. Maybe that's why I decided to make most of this years Christmas gifts. It was quite possibly my subconscious's picketing of the Christmas Consumption Frenzy. And amazingly I got it all done early. I'm not gloating, I swear, I'm still amazed by the sheer fact that I'm not scrambling to knit the last items before running to the post office in the vain hope that my boxes will get home to AK in time.

And to be quite honest, beyond family I don't give many Christmas gifts. I've realized I think in part to the reaction of my disgust to the Christmas Buying Binge, I tend to give my gifts throughout the year. See, I'm actually knitting myself a sweater, and that in itself is amazing. I tend to see patterns or come up with other knitting ideas that strikes me for someone in particular, and never are they expecting the item and very rarely is the item for me. And it's rarely given for a reason other than I want to give it, and I know they'll appreciate it. And that to me is what Christmas is supposed to be. Maybe it's just my way of holding on to what I think the season should be throughout the year. So on that point, I'm not a Scrooge Dammit! Bob might disagree when he heard me cussing about dropping an ornament under the coffee table. I told him all he heard was the Christmas spirit overcoming me, but he was doubtful. Of course he had to clean up the kitchen aid off the front yard before family got here on Thanksgiving to. He's a saint, truly. God help him.

But regardless, the tree went up. Non-traditional topper and all. I even looked at stars for the top again this year, but the more often I put that little bear up there, the more he grows on me.
What's that you said? Plastic Ornaments!?! Why yes, because I have one of these...
Oh wait, let me get the little demon to hold still.
And one of theses...
If one doesn't bat them off, the other's tail knocks them off, and then somebody eats them... So we have plastic. Don't judge me.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

That's Right, Who Needs a Reindeer When You Can Have a Moose? Christmas Cookies Alaska Style

Well, to be honest, I wanted a Christmas tree cookie cutter, but no luck. So ended up with a star, a snowflake, and moose. Yeah, you read that right, a moose. Everyone loves a good moose. Oh wait... that's supposed to be everyone loves a good goose. As long as it doesn't come from the dog when your in compromising positions that is.

So, I got Bob's cookies done, and I confirmed it. I still don't like sugar cookies. And just for the record, what crazy SOB that wrote the kitchen-aid cookbook thought that recipe would make 48 cookies? We're they tiny cookies? I got 15. granted, I did make my dough a whole millimeter thicker than called for, but that doesn't strike me as enough to offset those numbers by that much. Crazy.

I had a moment of laughing to myself while in the kitchen while mixing frosting. I had a flashback to Steel Magnolia's where Weezer is serving the bachelor cake. Do you remember the bachelor cake? How could you forge the aardvark cake. And Weezer says to Clairee, "I don't even want to know what you have to do to get gray frosting" or something along those lines. Well, I now know. I was trying to get brown from my little package of 4 basic food colorings.

I got a bit more knitting done too.

Sorry, the lighting was bad. I tried to get a shot to show off that it's a really subtle ribbing. The raglan sleeve decreases are kinda cool. I'm really excited to continue this although I noticed as I got tired, I kept screwing up the stitch repeats. It's from the Queensland Collection Book 9. The patterns title is Ansley. And I know you can't tell from this picture, but the model is rather attractive. It makes refreshing where I'm at in the pattern so much more enjoyable.
Here's the picture for the actual pattern. See, he's just the right amount of scruffy and preppy, but enough about my little knitting crush. And truly, it is a knitting crush, I have stronger feelings for the sweater itself.
 And of course, as I tried to get a good picture, Sullivan was sure I was dying of a need for puppy belly. You know I took a minute to scratch it. Who can resist that? Certainly not I.

Snowy Days – The Good, The Bad, and The Downright Monkey Butt Ugly

It snowed! Yes sir, a good few inches of lovely beautiful white stuff. And I am saying this even after shoveling it, driving with all the other morons (yes, I sometimes fall in that group myself) and walking the dogs in it. But that last doesn’t truly count, because if you’ve ever walked a rambunctious young Great Delay in the snow, you see it as a joy. Even if it’s a cold walk.

Let’s be honest, I just love snow. Nothing makes me think of home more. And yes, I do like the coziness of being inside with a fire roaring and a cup of tea while I watch it drift down and knit on something wonderfully warm for myself, but I also love getting out in it. I got all excited and even waxed the skis last night in hopes of going and playing tomorrow before work. I like walking in it as it drifts down, snowshoeing to my great surprise, and skiing on a quiet wooded trail in the silence that only comes with the downward drift of snow. It’s like it takes the sound down to the ground with it and muffles it in its own soft snowy baffles.

The thing I don’t care for is driving in the snow. Granted I now live in a town where the snow is a bit less regular, and the temps often keep the streets melted. However; even back home where the snow is an expected event, residents seem to forget from spring to winter what it is, and how one must drive accordingly. Really, it’s not that great of a time span for you to completely forget how to drive safely! So, for all the safety challenged drivers, I have some tips:

1. Slow the hell down. What part of ice doesn’t compute for you? If you are at risk of falling on your butt while walking on it, what makes you think your car won’t have traction issues?

2. Maybe while slowing down, give yourself a little bit of extra room between you and the car in front of you? Yeah, in other words, don’t ride ass, because when you rear end someone who is trying to brake for a stop, you get the ticket. And when driving and observing that others are giving safe breaking distance that does NOT mean that they are supplying you room to swerve through traffic.

3. Slow down for turns. If the road is icy, your car tends to want to move in the direction you’re going, and not respond to sudden changes in direction. It’s called INERTIA. Prepare for it, because it’s really hard to explain to officers how you ran into parked unmoving cars, or worse yet, jumped a curb and hit a building. No matter what you think, you can’t blame it on that thing with the foundation… It’s your fault.

4. Give yourself extra time to get from point A to point B. If you look outside and realize that hey, it’s crappy out for driving, be cautious and give yourself more time. God forbid, cancel something! If you’re in a rush, you’re going to be more inclined to speed.

5. Having Four or All Wheel Drive does NOT mean your car is some unstoppable juggernaut with infallible traction. All it means is that you can make all four wheels spin uncontrollably. And if it’s all wheel drive, it means you can make them all do it at once! No, not nifty, stupid.

6. If you don’t have traction, do not step on the gas. That doesn’t help you gain traction, it just makes your wheels spin faster. That sound of wheels whizzing at great speeds over ice in parking lots is you warning all others within hearing range that you’re stupid. Take your foot off the gas, stop the wheels and try easing forwards or backwards. You’ll have better luck, promise! And for the record, it really sucks when you’re doing that and you either cause your car to slide uncontrollably into something else, or for them to catch on a patch of dry pavement and you lurch forward at God Know’s What speed into something, or someone else. I once saw a pedestrian in a parking lot get creamed by some idiot doing this because they couldn’t correct in time as their car flew forward.

7. And finally (although I’m sure others could add to this list and I urge you to in the comments.), neighborhoods are not the place to joy ride in your big four wheel trucks or any other car. I understand being young and dumb as the gear shift knob. We have all been there, but neighborhoods with their increased foot traffic that is often made up of children and pets are not the place to drift around corners, spin 360’s and participate in other motor vehicle tom foolery. Go out in the boonies where you won’t kill someone’s loved one. Hopefully you’ll just kill yourself. Oh, that was the jaded bitter part of me that’s worked too long in Emergency Medicical Services. Regardless, it’s true.

Just some suggestions mind you. It’s almost Christmas, none of us want to be attending unnecessary funerals or bailing idiot relatives out of jail with the kiddos Christmas present funds. Of course, I’ve been known to leave family members suffering from acute attacks of stupidity in jail.

But, let’s move onto happier subjects, or at least more amusing. I started my morning with one of those, “What the Hell Am I Doing?” moments. You know the ones… Those, “I need more caffeine, anybody in the office know how to start an IV so I can mainline some coffee?!?” moments. I was just going to pour the milk in the bowl when I realized that I had put my cocoa in my cereal bowl, and the cereal in my mug. I just shook my head and mumbled something to the dogs that I swear by the grins and wagging tails were in on it. And yes, I said cocoa. I admit to being a full grown man that prefers good tea or the occasional coca over coffee. In fact, I don’t like coffee at all. I find it horribly bitter, but relax, I don’t hold imbibing in the brew against others. From there I burrowed into my chair and knit on my Ansley sweater

 while watching horribly acted Hallmark Channel Christmas Movies. Before you scowl at my laziness, I went to bed at 2, got up at 5 to feed and give the beasties their first walk before going back to bed for a few hours. I was allowed, it’s my day off. Then we shoveled.
Okay, I shoveled; they knocked all the snow back onto my clean sidewalk and driveway. Little bastards, I told you they were in on the plot from the beginning. Then I stupidly got on the road (told you I was sometimes a moron) and headed out for romp at the river. It was beautiful in its overcast snow flurry splendor.
And here I sit at the Wonder Bar drinking my black and tan and enjoying my fresh artery clogging chips while writing this post. To be honest I’ve been suffering a guilt trip today thinking about how much I’ve slacked on blog posts lately. So I’m using this outing to fill my hankering (read craving here) for beer and chips to sate my guilty conscious. Yes, yes I’m using my dear few readers as an excuse to imbibe. Thank you for being my crutch. I appreciate it!

Now, off to home to bake Bob some Christmas Sugar Cookies since he’s been in DC all week. What the hell? Where did all this bloody Christmas cheer crap come from? Who knew getting all the Christmas knitting finished early would ward of my scrooginess.

Hope you all have a great week.