The Amazing Adventures of Tom and Bel

Friday, December 31, 2004

What day is it again?

I am perhaps silly to admit this in public, but until I looked at my calendar I had no clue that it was NYE. What used to be a great excuse to stay up late [when we were too young for anything else!] or a hunt for someone to kiss at midnight [that you wouldn't regret the next day] has simply become another quiet evening at home with my beloved Boy-O.
I like it this way; I think he does too.

Instead of cranking out the old standard resolutions (lose weight, self-acceptance**, world peace, bla bla bla) - I am following the example of the lovely Roxane Battle* and making a list of things I 'd like to accomplish in '05.

1) Enjoy the new stash without guilt - use it!

Selected examples of new stash.. the rest won't fit on the chair!

The shiny new goodies collected above are mostly for swatching purposes (submissions to mags, patterns to write for Crafty Planet, classes, etc.) but are also for fun. It frequently astonishes new knitters that someone can (gasp!) enjoy swatching. Sometimes I like to see what yarn could become for its own sake. Just to have the experience of learning what a yarn is capable of and what you can create with it that you wouldnt have otherwise. It's a great learning tool and makes me a better knitter.

2) Sort through the old stash - give away what you will not use, and give the other items a purpose.

Pre-Jeanne's divine intervention...

And after.

As you can see from the above, my future MIL has made an art form of sorting through the daisy-chained boxes of yarn to create order. (I can't believe that someone actually enjoys this process, but she swears that she finds it soothing. Who knew?)
Of course, the fact that she is usually the recipient of my de-stashings might help...

3) More love (and time!) to the Puppy-Os.

The Tominator...

and my pretty Belly girl.

Happy New Year to all!

(*Ms. Battle is co-host of the Kare-11 Today show, where I happened to be a guest yesterday {blush, blush - for my day job, not for knitting}.)

(**And doesn't it seem that those two things are diametrically opposed? I mean, if you're accepting yourself as you are, then losing weight wouldn't really be a goal, now would it?)

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Christmas Present

Now that I've had a couple of days to digest it all, I present to you Christmas @ the House of Boy-O.

It can be summed up thus:

Ornamental still life with wine. "Express Track to Italian" in the back ground was another of our gifts.

We ate (Duck with Apple Lavender Glaze, Tomato Fennel Salad, and Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes with Nutmeg), we drank (A really nice Pinot Noir - if the Boy-O ever starts his wine blog, this one will be on the list of keepers), and we opened about 400 presents (only a slight exaggeration. The Mom-O is Very Serious about the Christmas). We gave to them some lovely knitted items (in whose creation the Boy-O participated mightily) - a scarf for Dad, a gaiter for Sammy, and the sweater already documented here for Mom-O), plus assorted goodies.

But man, did we haul it in (hee. We love the presents!) A selection of the fabulousness:

My presents...Mine, all mine! (whee!)

These lovely goods include a handmade stocking, the Origami Bag from Folk Bags, and the most awesome belt: Flick from Knitty. I am already planning a long skinny sweater to wear it with. That and my "b*tch boots", as the Boy-O calls them, and I'll be ready to run the world!
(heh. Look out, Mpls!)

Gorgeous vase - the photo can't do it justice.

A stunning piece of functional art. We [heart] the Parents-O. There will be many lovely flowers in this vase.

Baby Boy-O. Awwww...

They also gave me the Boy-O's baby book. Ain't he cute?

Boy-O got the coolest present of all:

Tux rockin' out to the bluegrass...

Yup. It's Pasha , also from Knitty. Because Boy-O is a Geek Extraordinaire, Mom-O wisely added a little Red Hat. Those of you who get it will laugh slyly.
The rest of us can simply admire the excellent knitting.

There were other cool presents (seriously - I'm stil fascinated by this gravity controlled tri-color pen - how the heck does it Do That?), but I've gotta get off to work.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Post-Holiday Haze

Christmas has come and gone, the Family-O have been generously fed (and gave us many lovely presents in return - thank you!), and the best thing of all to report is:

"Professor" Boy-O and his BRAND NEW SWEATER!!!!

Finally! I started this from a pattern in Vogue Knitting's Very Easy Knits back in January.
As the song goes, "I was a stranger in this city" and needed something - anything - familar to keep from feeling all lost and depressed. I missed him something fierce, and wanted to work on something that would let me feel like I was still with him.

Unusually for me, I knitted very slowly on it, and when he moved here in April, the sweater languished for many moons. I finished the knitting in July, blocked the pieces at the end of
November, and finally, at long last, planned to sew the seams and finish ribbing the neckline.
Of course, holiday preparations distracted me, and I resorted to the time-honored custom of guilting myself into finishing. The Mom-O was instrumental in this process. (thank you, Jeanne!)

So: the boy is warm, the sweater looks great, and I am done! Now for my reward: with a trip to my favorite yarn/futon store.

Close-up of ribbing pattern.

The only critic who really matters approves.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Skin & Ink

Tho' I should be frantically knitting swatches for my upcoming classes, the charming Rachel of Yarn-A-Go-Go got me to thinking about tattoos. It's funny, 'cause I only ever wanted one in my life.

I did a session of student teaching in Masterton, New Zealand - possibly the coolest three months of my life. I'd never been out of the country, I was 21 and had just broken out of a heinous relationship. What do you do to commemorate such a fabulous, life-changing experience? Naturally, you plant it on your skin:

A remnant of my wild and wooly youth. Sorry the picture's lousy. Boy-O was unavailable, so I was trying to take pictures of my own back in the bathroom mirror...

Miss Rachel (wisely, I think) paused to contemplate her tattoo options.
I did, as well: I waited five years to get this one. I've never regretted it once.

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Tale of Two Knitties

Yesterday's shockingly awful temps (-6 degrees F! EEEEEEEEEEEEK!) inspired me to dig out a chapeau which I had created in a sorta freehand fashion a couple of years ago.

Me in the too, too solid hat...

Said chapeau was warm, but loose. So, sez me, "I think I'll felt this bad boy. Shrink it down. Give it some substance." (For which you may read: "Make it fit my d*mn head.")

This plan did not fail to excite the family:

A Boy(O) and his dog(s)...

In spite of their indifference, I carried on with my evil plan:

Mid-way through the felting process...I think my knuckles started to bleed about this point ...

So, with much help from my Beloved (and much scraping of the raw and twisted fingers that attempting to felt by hand invariably results in) we produced this:

The hat which, shockingly, is still too bleepin' big!

I hate trying to do this by hand - but I love the final effect. You can't even see the stitches any more.

Still a teeny bit of texture left on this. I worked this part in seed st - can you tell?

Still undecided about how to proceed, as I really would like it to be suitable for wearing in public. I will either

a) Try again with the washer and an old pair of jeans; or

b) cut it and run a seam up the back with the sewing machine; or

c) all of the above.

I like the idea of the washer, as I've never cut my knitting in my life (I've knit Fair Isle before, but nothing that needed openings). I'm not sure I'm ready to start!

Friday, December 17, 2004

Stocks & Blogs

Check out this interesting game:

This week has been my own personal hell - three nights of day job-related events in a row makes the Girl-O a dull knitter.
I have enjoyed most of these (even the dreadfully long meetings) because I am a social butterfly at heart, but it does mean that if you are struggling mightily to finish up swatches to submit for publication, spending two hours of your one and only morning off crafting the chart is guaranteed to make you something really close to crazy. Especially when, in the end, you decide you don't need it.

On the plus side, there may be Amazing Tom & Bel patterns @ the Crafty Planet! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

We Got Crabs

Ever have one of those days that starts off fine, but slowly becomes your own personal hell?
That's what we got right now: One Seriously Crabby Knitter.
Not only that, but a Seriously Crabby Knitter with a screwed up mouse (for some reason it won't roll to the left) and a major 'tude. Add to that work stress (end of the fiscal period always makes everyone nuts) , a stupid disagreement with the Boy-O and a significant lack of knitting - and the end result is significant crankitude.
Oy. Let's hope an hour or so of swatching will work out the kinks.
I am finishing up some ideas to submit for Amy Singer's new book with Jillian Moreno. I'm nervous because I totally dig Knitty, and Knit Wit was a neat idea - hopefully these swatches will prove interesting to them!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Slow Tango

Here is a link to the most lovely poem I've read in a while.

I accidentally found this because the Boy-O and I were looking for tango recipes, er, instructions. I should point out that he has actually had instruction from a qualified professional, and just wanted to be reminded. I, on the other hand, am cheerfully winging it under his tutelage.
(Confidential to BF: we will NOT be performing the tango at our wedding. Anyone who believes and/or said so was under the influence of Triple Sec.)

On a more sane note, I have been swatching this beautiful stuff:

Beaverslide Fisherman Weight in Marsh Sedge.

It is from the fabulous folks at Beaverslide Dry Goods
in Montana. I got this stuff on eBay and I'm thinking it will become a gorgeous jacket pour moi.
The swatch for the Red Storm jacket is still coming along as well - I just have to figure out how much I need and if I'll have to sell any available relatives to afford this stuff!

Saturday, December 11, 2004


So, no, I don't having a raging hangover from the lovely cheap wine we had last night, thanks. Though I think I ought to have. That stuff sneaks up on you - it tastes like fruit punch and drinks like it, too.

The Boy-O was hired for a freelance gig doing PHP orPCP or whatever it is that he spends all his time learning anyway, so I made him a fancy dinner of atlantic char (tastes like a cross between salmon and trout) poached in white wine with aromatics and erm, "fridge-dried" mushrooms.
[Aside: does anyone else do that with button mushrooms? Just put 'em in a weird spot in the fridge, and let 'em slowly become little mushroom mummies? I think they're better like that].
We also had a lovely salad of arugala (we love our bitter greens!) with a brilliant, creamy marinated feta that went just perfectly with a crusty baguette. Ahh. I just love cooking.
[My secret dream is to go to culinary school. This is second only to my other secret dream of becoming a rock star, moving to Tuscany and hosting a musician's retreat for people who aren't super famous, but just love to play. There'd be random jams in the vineyard, great parties every week, and lots of time to cook fabulous Italian-style food. Sigh.]

Returning to reality, I'm still swatching the fabulous Mountain Colors yarn. After searching the BW (all hail the brilliant Barbara Walker! She's the Heroine of My Knitting Career) stitch dictionaries, I came up with a simple diagonal scallop stitch, which looked great, but not with the bias knit rib of the day before. I did a couple of other swatches, but none I felt really strongly about. But I think I've decided what this wants to be - a sweater/jacket: Red Storm.
(A tad melodramatic, I know. But that's the sort of item I envision coming out of this yarn and color way.)
I'll post again when I have a suitable swatch.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Obsession... You're My Obsession...

Obsessive? Moi??

You know you might have a teeny bit of a problem when the cover of the paper has a picture of a nurse arrested for selling flu shots, and the first thing you think is “Ooh, what a lovely sweater. I didn’t know cowl necks were back in style!”
Hee. I am only mildly ashamed. (In my defense, it was a great sweater. Looked like cashmere.)

I am having the lame week to end all lame weeks: I am sick to my stomach with an evil, evil postnasal drip. I am pretty sure that is the cause, and spent yesterday at home with warm salt water & allergy drugs. Sigh.

The Mountain Colors swatching continues apace.

Ignore the random badness of the photo-I've got a raging headache.

It’s the only thing making me feel better today. I like the bias knit rib, I’m just trying to decide how I want to proceed from here. It’s so lovely (and expensive) that I want to make certain I do it justice.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Progressive Knitting

No, I am not referring to my personal politics (that's a whole 'nother entry, believe me!) but to the masterwork by one Ida Riley Duncan. Mrs. Duncan's classic (1940) reference on the art of all things knitted contains such gems as:
"There are today manuafacturers and dealers in the yarn business who sell inferior grades becase they have no standard to keep and no service to offer....

"Buy yarn from a reliable store whose yarns come from a reputable manufacturer. A reasonable price will have to be paid, but one is assured of good quality, long wear, uniformity of dye and satisfaction in every way. The initial investment, or the actual cost of the yarn, is small when one considers the hours that are necessary in the construction of a sweater or even a scarf. When one makes an article by hand, time, patience and skill are required, and one wants to be proud of one's achievement."

Hee. I love her starchy style of writing - it just cracks me up.
Dated and formal though it may be, the book also contains some excellent reference material on sweater construction. Very clever indeed.

Having finished off the Cozy Sweater, and decided that it will, indeed, become a Christmas gift for a very special someone, I am in the mood to play with this lovely stuff:

Mountain Colors Yarns makes gorgeous, gorgeous handpaints and this is no exception. This is Mountain Goat (55% mohair, 45% wool) in Rosehip. I am going to enjoy swatching this lovely stuff, just to watch the colors change.

More puppy love, as taken by the Boy-O:

Bel's tasty, tasty love...

"But I neeeeed it..."

Monday, December 06, 2004

Purple Haze

This weekend was quite a busy one. On Saturday, I decided to block the Boy-O’s sweater. [This, you might recall, is the one that’s been knitted since the summer.]

This book is great source material for well designed knits that make good movie-watching companions.

Gone is the annoying pile, and in its place: lovely blocked bits.

Now that blocking is done, I can set in the sleeves, knit the ribbing for the neckline, And seemed the sides. Should be done this week.

There was also much progress on the purple sweater from FCEK. I finished the second sleeve,

Joined it to the body,

And knitted the yoke.

Following the directions resulted in a Bad Fit.

Let’s examine all the things that went wrong: the mock t-neck was too loose, the reverse stockinette fabric gave a subtle horizontal effect that made me look really wide, and the sweater is just too damned big. Apparently, there is a significant bit of dysmorphia going on here.

Undaunted, I removed the cast off, added a couple of decrease rows and about 2” more neck to get this:

See how much better the fit is? It won’t ever be my most flattering sweater, and if I lose even 5lb., it will be much too large, but the softness and seamlessness please me. Besides, I can always make it a Christmas gift.

The pups were unimpressed with my cleverness -

- although they do seem to be fascinated with the Homespun. If Bel weren't such a Destructo Dog, I'd make 'em a blanket...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

We [Heart] Knitty!

Love love love the new Winter Issue! There are three fabulous designs I'd like for me (Tempting, Mariah and Belle Epoque stand out, tho' the Boy-O's reaction to the latter was pretty sad*) and even a little something I'd like to stitch up for the Boy-O, if there's time before I absolutely HAVE to get back to wedding knits.

The FCEK Cozy Sweater is almost done! Less than 4" left. Full pictorial should be ready tomorrow.

(* I showed him the picture of this lovely sweater and he replied, in falsetto,"Hello, my name is Juliet, and Romeo knocked me up." Hmmph.)

Friday, December 03, 2004

Round & around & round & around

One sleeve done, one to go...

The FCEK sweater knits up ridiculously fast - I am loving the swift and steady progress (unlike a certain Manly Sweater which Shall Not Be Named...).

I will, of course go back to Boy-O's sweater, but I'm teaching a class at Crafty Planet this weekend, (and designing a few things for next year's classes) so it will have to wait.

For the dog lovers in the house:

Look closely. See the little brown doggy rump, nesting so peacefully in the closet? Ah, Bel.

I love that dog. She's the only one of us who has the sense to send herself to bed at a reasonable hour. We should all be so blessed.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

We Love the Fug!

Yes, the Spong monkey reference is shameful, but so is my newfound addiction to this website.
I am ashamed. Deeply and utterly ashamed.


In knitting news, I'm 15" into the first of two 19.5" sleeves - not worth photographing for the blog until the fabulous moment of joining it to the sweater body, which should happen tomorrow. Whoo and Hoo!