Sunday, December 30, 2007

My Swap Partners Are Terrific!

To quote a certain country song, I've "Been a Long Time Gone." I don't quite know how that's happened, but I'll make a resolution to work on it next year. I hope everyone has been enjoying a happy holiday season!

In the meantime, look what arrived on the Thursday before Christmas! My SP 11 reveal package. Shawnee was so very creative, the gifts she gave me started with the letters of her name!

A rundown:
S is for the Santa Swankie hankies, the snowman ornament (it says I love my cat), and a mini scrapbooking kit.
H is for holiday bath beads (beautiful lavender scented blue beads).
A is for a new calendar - Knitting Pattern a Day!
W is for a beautifully crocheted warm scarf. It is a wonderful variegated blue that will go with everything.
N is for "N" sticky notes and new needles to go with the yarn she sent me (A generous hank of rayon/cotton blend from Newton Country Yarns. It's base is steel grey, surrounded by black and multi-colored rayon threads).
E is for Nicky Epstein's Knitting Never Felt Better. How I have been wanting that book! It is such a great resource.
E is for espresso beans from Starbucks(yum!) I also received a crocheted cupcake, a snack which is a much better for my waistline!


Shawnee was amazing; poor thing, her husband was in the hospital (thankfully, he's recovering), yet she managed to send out this wonderful package! Shawnee, thank you so much, I appreciate all the thought and care that went into this reveal! (And I'm sorry I didn't blog about this sooner, during the breaks in holiday madness, I had to do some post-surgery hand holding for my cousin).
I received the nicest snail mail thank you from my downstream SP 11 swap partner, Brooke, with an invitation to meet up at Stitches West. Those flip flops are so up my alley (My tree is covered with Hawaiiana: rubber slippers, geckos, cows that hula, and tropical Santas!) Thank you Brooke!

Finally, I received a Christmas greeting from Elvis via my coffee swap partner Susan. I hope you had a Merry Christmas as well! I thought of you when Stitch went up on the tree.



I must go, I have to go give my mother a guilt trip about my birthday...heh, heh, heh.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas Quiz

The following quiz was on my SP 11's blog. I thought I would post my answers here, as she should be opening the reveal package soon! (Kind of a "Welcome to my blog")

Welcome to the 'Christmas Edition' of getting to know your friends. If you post to your blog, leave a comment here so I can go and read all about you!!
Don't forget to change all the answers so they apply to you.


1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Either - it depends on the size of the gift.
2. Real or Artificial tree ? Artificial. With cats, it's easier on my nerves.
3. When do you put up the tree? Whenever I have free time. It's 3/4 of the way up (I string on lights as I put it together), but it's been (stuck) that way since the day after Thanksgiving.
4. When do you take the tree down? Before January 1 (it's a Japanese thing).
5. Do you like eggnog? I like Silk Soynog. Sounds gross, but it's not as rich as other commercial eggnog (and it won't clog your arteries, either!).
6. Favorite gift you received as a child? Usually books, although there was the year (1972) I received Barbie's Friend Ship United Airplane. I was a pretty popular girl on the block, because of that plane. Well until my best friend/enemy got Barbie's Dream House...then I was toast!
7. Do you have a nativity scene? No.
8. Hardest person to buy for? My sister.

9. Easiest person to buy for? After myself? My mother.
10. Worst Christmas gift ever received? It's a toss-up. All time worst gift was an umbrella, then a few years later, the same guy (naturally) tried to say that the toaster oven we needed was my Christmas present.

11. Christmas Cards...Snail mail or E-mail? Snail mail.
12. Favorite Christmas movie?
A Christmas Story. It may have taken place in Indiana, but when I watched it with my dad, I could tell that so much of it rang true to his South Dakota childhood. Especially the "stick your tongue on the flagpole" dare. Dear old dad laughed a little too hard during that scene. I suspect he had more memories than he cared to share.
My sentimental favorites: It's a Wonderful Life, A Charlie Brown Christmas, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (animated).
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I start after Thanksgiving and keep shopping up until the 24th!

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not yet, knock wood.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Holiday cookies.
16. Clear lights or colored on the tree? Gold mini-lights.

17. Favorite Christmas Song? Contemporary - Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas & Baby It's Cold Outside. Traditional - What Child Is This/Greensleeves.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Stay home
19. Can you name Santa's reindeer? Most of them.
20. Do you have an angel or a star on top of your tree? A star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? We always opened one on Christmas Eve and saved the rest until Christmas day.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? That Christmas merchandise was in stores BEFORE Halloween. And Hello? What happened to Thanksgiving? Retail just treats it like a really big meal to fuel up for Christmas shopping!
23. Shopping...mall or online? Both, although I prefer to give more business to independent (small) retailers.
24. Do you decorate outside for Christmas or just inside (or at all?) Mostly inside.
25. Favorite Christmas cookie? Nyakers Pepparkakor, Swedish gingersnaps.

26. Do you own Christmas-ey clothing or jewelry? I have some vintage snowflake and poinsettia pins. Although I'm not big on Christmas sweaters, I do own a cardigan with skating Santas.
27. Do you believe in Santa? I think there's a little Santa in all of us (and most of us don't save it just for Christmas!)

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Wake Up to Smell the Coffee

As I stated yesterday, I received the best package from my coffeeswap partner Susan! Can I show off the swag?
A pound of Sumatra Mandheling coffee from The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. I was so excited to see that the beans came from there, since I haven't had their coffee in years! I used to hang out in one of their shops when I went to college. The beans are going to christen the new coffee grinder my mom gave me for taking care of her beast until Christmas. Susan baked me some awesome oatmeal/chocolate chip cookies; unfortunately, they were camera shy and refused to be photographed (If you believe that, do I have a watch to sell you!) I also received a coffee take-out ornament, featuring my two favorite coffee drinks. It will look great on the tree with my Starbucks ornament.

Susan also knit for me! Not only did she knit a cabled coffee sleeve; she knit me a pair of pocket slippers using some hand spun/hand dyed yarn in beautiful fall colors. Can you see the heart-shaped buttons? I'll be honest: I've never seen pocket slippers before, but I put them on my feet and they look like Mary Jane's. Very sweet. I think all the women in my family deserve a pair. I'd better go snoop around on Ravelry for a pattern!


But wait! There's more! (Okay, I think I've been watching too much late night t.v. Sorry 'bout that) Beautiful, soft, sock yarn from Knitted Wit. I swear, I think this skein of yarn has every one of my favorite colors in it! Greens, blues, purple, magenta, & even a little light cocoa color when the colors blend together. Did I mention that it was hand painted, too? Wow, wow, wow.To round out the package, Susan also sent me some point protectors, a soy candle that smells like lime sherbet, and two tins of The Girls mints (Cafe Girl & Knitting Girl - yum!).


Susan, I cannot thank you enough! I really appreciate the effort you put into this package. Thank you for making this swap a terrific experience!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Swaps

How lucky am I? I just received the best package from my coffeeswap partner, Susan. I haven't taken pictures of it yet, but I will post some this weekend. I am just so grateful for the time and effort my swap partner put into creating this package.

To top it off, I also received an email from my SP11 partner, telling me that she's knitting for me! News like that simply makes me smile!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Back Again

Hallelujah! The report cards are done, done, done! Lucky for me, my school district is technologically up to speed and I am able to write report cards online. Laurie, I'm so sorry your district is still in the dark ages...I remember the days of writing in triplicate, having to shake out your hand after writing each side of the report card. My hand will have sympathy pains for yours, ok?

Since writing report cards is not my favorite thing to do, I occasionally (ok, frequently) procrastinate. I did mention fiber therapy in my last post, did I not? The results:
My first toe-up sock, with a Turkish heel
And since it's been a while since she's made an appearance, Zoey would like to remind everyone that paper bags can be recycled into cat beds. Apparently, they are warm and comfy. Me? I prefer the couch.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Still Here

I can't believe it's been over a week since Halloween. I think I am still suffering the after effects! Actually, I'm knee-deep in report cards, but I have managed to squeeze in some fiber therapy. I will post more about that this weekend.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

I Think My Bee Done Died

I think my mystery stole is now officially D.O.A. I wonder if I will ever want to resuscitate it?

Meanwhile, socks rock! Mine looks like a footlet right now, but I'm almost finished with the heel (a Turkish heel). I am liking toes up socks much more than top down. Funny thing happened while I was in my sock class tonight - we suddenly quieted down and the woman across from me said, "We're moving." No, she's not moving from the area, we were really moving! There was a 5.6 earthquake in San Jose. We just sat there, riding it out, seeing if it was going to get strong enough to merit sliding underneath the table. After the earthquake, we had an interesting discussion as to whether or not a yarn store was a good place to be during a shaker. On one hand, the bags of yarn won't hurt too much if they fall on you; on the other hand, the shelves would probably leave a mark!

By George, I Think I've Got It!

The secret to consistent blogging...stockpile posts on the weekends to use during the week.

Halloween is tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to it. Really... truly...I'm not being one bit sarcastic. . . Honestly!

Sorry, I have to go. My nose is getting uncomfortably long.

Yay! Sock class tonight.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Firestorm

The fires in Southern California have brought some memories of another firestorm rushing back to me.

I remember it as if it happened yesterday. On Sunday, October 20, 1991, I had been lolling around, having a lazy day, debating whether or not I should drive out to Berkeley to see my boyfriend in his new apartment at the Parkwoods complex. Then I got the call. "Honey, stay where you are; don't come to Berkeley. I'm o.k., but my apartment and the hills are on fire." WHAT?! I remember running out my condo and looking west, toward the Berkeley/Oakland area. All I could see was a gigantic plume of black smoke.

Panic began to engulf me. Fire scares me like nothing else. Earthquakes, I can tolerate. After all, I have been extremely lucky with earthquakes. I get a ride that spikes the adrenaline momentarily; but I have had the good fortune to be in safe structures during "tremblers" (A small sampling: the Whittier earthquake, Loma Prieta, Northridge, and countless other small shakers). Fire is another beast altogether; it has a life of its own and leaves very little in its wake.

I spent the next few hours, worrying and trying to get any information I could on television. Why was it taking so long for my boyfriend to get to my place? Was his sister o.k.? Did they get the cat out? It was really windy, was the fire going to jump the hill and come towards us? Eventually, my boyfriend and his sister made it to my apartment safely. They were unscathed, but lost almost everything.
Including this poor guy. I still miss Oliver.

We spent the next few days looking at scenes like this. Word finally came that we could go back into the area, to see if there was anything salvageable. When people describe firestorms, they often say that it looked like a bomb went off. It's true, it looked like Armageddon. But fire is a funny thing, it can take one structure and leave another one untouched five feet away. As we went back into the apartment complex, we were stunned to see the lobby of one of the other buildings untouched. The entire structure had been gutted, but the lobby and its white sofa were pristine. While my boyfriend and I stood looking at the burned and rusted shell of his sister's car, our jaws dropped as a man drove his shiny sports car out of the building's garage. Life sometimes is really just the luck of the draw.

I don't think that people affected by that firestorm would have been able to get back on their feet without the help of the Salvation Army or the American Red Cross. These two organizations were our lifeline during the first few days following the fire. They mobilized quickly and helped with the most pressing needs of the fire victims. Later on, FEMA (they were good in those days) and countless others pitched in at offices, churches, and fundraisers. If you have the means to help, please do. You may not get a thank you note, but you have the eternal gratitude of the people you are helping! Hmmmm...I wonder if any knitters have a group up for this? *I just found the San Diego Wild Fire Blanket Project via the 25 Things for Charity blog. I believe the group is also on Ravelry. (Good thing I took that granny square class!) If you know of any others, please let me know!

By the way, if you live in a wildfire area, the Red Cross can help you get prepared. Cleaning the gutters and clearing a 30-100 foot safety zone around your house may seem like an odious job, but it does pay off in the end.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

I Love California in the Fall


California is known for its warm weather, but I love it the most when the weather begins to cool down and the fall colors appear.

Fall seems to bring out more wildlife as well. I saw these characters on my way to the dentist's office.


Wild turkeys are everywhere in the Bay Area. I know this sounds preposterous, but I once saw a pack of them use a crosswalk to cross a busy intersection during my morning commute. They almost made me late for work, but I was so busy laughing about it that I really didn't care!

The last of the summer blooms.

Back to the Blogosphere

My life has started to follow a pattern that goes much like this:

Wake up, hit snooze button (it's cold outside and the bed is cozy).
Wake up again, get ready for work.
Commute, teach, work some more after the kids leave, go to gym.
Go home, feed angry animals ("Human! You're late with my kibble!"), crash in the first place my bottom hits (I fear I am becoming my mother, who's notorious for falling asleep on the couch).
Lather, rinse, repeat.

I'm busy, work is good, but admittedly, this schedule is making me boring. I don't know if I can make the mundane interesting, like the dillydallyknitter can (by the way, cpurl, thanks for the comment!). I'm also facing the fact that only Crazy Aunt Purl can get away with blogging about cat poop, cat litter, and the lack of fancy panties due to the growing mountain of laundry. I don't know if I'm emotionally ready to tell the world about resorting to using the ugly underwear because I haven't had time to run a load of laundry.

But every so often, I leave the hermitage to do something interesting. I took a crochet class at Article Pract, so I could learn how to make a granny square. The class was fun; it's always interesting to see what other people do with the same pattern. I initially signed up for the class because it said the teacher was going to teach how to read a pattern. I have some Japanese craft books that use crochet symbols, so I was hoping the class would help me with that. Unfortunately, she taught us how to read a pattern that was written out in words and only touched on pattern symbols. Still, it was a good class!

The class was packed. With the amount of interest in crochet, I hope the instructor comes back to teach a more advanced class that addresses symbol reading and trickier stitches.

I'm also taking a class to learn how to knit toe-up socks on two circular needles. I know I could learn from one of my books, but honestly, I was feeling the need to get out more! There hasn't been enough progress on the sock to merit a picture yet, but when there is, it will give me an excuse to write something for a change.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What Are You Doing? A Call to Action

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day

Today is Blog Action Day. What are you doing to help the environment? It's not that difficult, really. You can start by following the 3 R's: reduce, reuse, and recycle. As knitters and crafters, we certainly been known to reuse and recycle things by incorporating objects into our work. Many of us even use knit dishcloths instead of wasting paper towels.

Knitting gives us the perfect excuse to turn down the thermostat. After all, keeping the temperature in the house turned down allows us to use the fabulous knitted socks, sweaters, and throws that we have made for ourselves! What better way to show off?

But why stop there? Here are 50 simple things you can do to start helping the environment. Want more? The Green Guide offers tips for a green home makeover. Little changes, like cleaning green, are not only healthier for the environment, they're healthier for you. (If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, check out the Chron's Green section on SFGate. )

We managed to make some significant changes in the 1970's. For our own sakes, we need to do it again.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Knitters' Coffee Swap 3 Questionnaire


I'm so glad I made it in for another round!

1. Whole bean or ground? Either is fine. I generally use whole bean during the summer; but since school started back up, I have been using ground (for drip or french press).

2. Fully-loaded or decaf? Fully-loaded! I need all the help I can get!

3. Regular or flavored? Regular, please.

4. How do you drink your coffee? With milk. I'm a latte kind of girl.

5. Favorite coffee ever? A friend of mine gave me this coffee from the Pacific Bay Coffee Company, a local coffee roaster. It was wonderful. I always thought I'd be faithful to my Brazilian blends, but I've been seeking out Nicaraguan coffee since I was gifted with those beans.

6. Are you fussy about your coffee or will any old bean do? I'm a bit of a coffee snob, since we have so many great local roasters (besides, my mom lives in Seattle & always brings some good stuff when she visits!)

7. Favorite treats to have with your coffee? I tend to go for pastries or cookies. I'm a sucker for a good oatmeal raisin cookie!

8. Anything else about your coffee preferences? I like medium to dark roasts.

9. Yarn/fiber you love? Wool, alpaca, bamboo, soy, silk blends. I like soft yarns.

10. Yarn/fiber you hate? I'm not fond of novelty/eyelash yarns.

11. What's on your needles? A chemo cap, a baby gift, and a couple of scarves.

12. Favorite colors? I like strong colors, especially reds, blues, or greens. Light colors (khaki, beige) tend to wash me out, so I'm not crazy about them.

13. Allergies? Nope.

14. Anything you really love, really don't like, or just need to get off your chest? If this wasn't enough information, all my swap questionnaires are on the sidebar. Oh, and I'm on Ravelry. My user name is hapagirl.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Just When I Thought It Was Safe To Go Back Into The Bookstore

I blame Borders and their email coupons for feeding my addiction. Amazon is also an enabler. Seriously, I should just quit my job and open up my own book/yarn/coffee shop. This book makes me want to become a better knitter. I like how the Beyond the Basics columns are interspersed throughout the book, so that they are near the patterns that would use the highlighted techniques.

~ sigh ~ If it's not the yarn that gets me, it's the books!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Fall Forecast: Music and Knitting

MY SP11 PAL ROCKS! Well, at least she is helping me to rock out. I received a generous iTunes gift certificate this month. I've had an iPod for a while, but I never purchased any music off iTunes. Her gift was the nudge I needed to get off my keister, set up an account, and buy some music to get me moving. Thank you so much, Sassy! My new music will keep me going at the gym (I just have to remember to restrain myself & not start dancing right there)!

I've missed knitting. This past month has been so busy, I can only manage to fit in a few rows here and there. Hopefully things will start falling back into a routine, so I can have the time and energy to knit, blog, and read blogs. On that note, I am so going to knit this hat! The pattern was on Crazy Aunt Purl today.
Laurie a.k.a. Crazy Aunt Purl makes me laugh and always makes my day (you should see the giant cat toy pattern in her book). She also has a great roll-brim hat pattern on her site, with a formula for calculating the number of stitches/gauge/head size. I think I could probably size it down for a child, if the math doesn't hurt my head too much. With the number of bambinos being born to my co-workers, I may be knitting a lot of these as baby gifts!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Emicat Made Me Do It

I am 73% Addicted to Coffee


Knitter's Coffeeswap 3 sign ups officially opened ten minutes ago. I was wrestling with the decision to join or not to join (yeah, yeah, that was the question), when I clicked on Emicat's blog. She stated, and I quote, "C'mon, do it, you know you wanna :)" How could I resist?


Runagogo Round 3

I joined Runagogo to keep me on track. Join in! Details here.
You can walk, run,


or cycle.

Edited: July 7. The wonky date of this post is to help keep the finish line in sight. Please scroll down for current posts.

Monday, September 24, 2007

This and That

I just wanted to thank the bloggers who left comments for their kind remarks about my first sewing project. I appreciate the support. Someone in class christened them with the moniker of the "Demon Pants" (because I clearly wasn't jazzed about them); but once they were hemmed, they looked a lot better. They're still roomier than I would have liked, but really, only the cats are going to see me in them (like they care what I look like). I finally figured out that it was really more about the process; so what if I screwed up a bit on some seams? It got finished and I'm not as intimidated by my sewing machine anymore. Besides, if I find that I really can't stand them, I can cut them down into shorts and use the excess as really fancy dusting cloths!

About two weeks ago, Emiko over at Java Gibber tagged me for Name Tag. Apparently, I have to list some things about myself using the letters in my middle name. Happily, my middle name is considerably shorter than my first name!

A is for Anal Retentive. Oh wait...one look around my house blows that one out of the water. I suppose I'm only that way when I'm organizing my books, cd's, or yarn. Blame it on my father, the accountant. What other A things could tell something about me? Absent-minded? Sometimes. Acorn? I think they're pretty. Antique? Sometimes I feel that way. Aaah...found one! Adaptive. My childhood was spent moving around and out of the country. The perennial new kid, I had to learn how to adapt and fit in as quickly as possible. "A" Things I Like: angel food cake and Louis Armstrong.

N is for Nerdy. I have to face the facts...I got excited when Target had a 4 MB flash drive on sale for under $30. If that's not nerdy, I don't know what is.

N is for "N" Things I Like: Namaste (I take yoga), Napa, nachos, nasturtiums, nature, necklaces (I make them), and needlework (knit, crochet, cross stitch, and now sewing).

I'm going to be bad and I'm not going to tag a specific blogger. However, if you want to play along, "Tag, you're it!"

Sunday, September 23, 2007

My First Secret Pal Package Arrived!

One of the things I like most about participating in swaps is that the packages tend to arrive when you've had a long, tiring day. You make the move to open the door, see the parcel waiting for you, and things begin looking up! My September package seemed to hit on most of my interests. The first thing that caught my eye was the set of espresso cups and the chocolate covered coffee beans. My sister has been trying to get me to buy an espresso set for months now; wait until she gets a load of this! It reminds me of my friend's set in Brazil -- I'm sure I'll feel very fancy drinking from it. But wait, there's more! Three, count 'em three skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Chunky (love it's springiness), a set of beads (stitch markers, anyone?), some lime pepper (my partner uses it on chicken), and if that wasn't enough, toys for the furballs in my life. Gotta love a spoiler who even thinks about the cats! Thanks so much, "Sassy" whoever you may be!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Much Sewing, Little Knitting, and Ravelry

Years ago, when I was newly married, I bought a sewing machine from my brother-in-law, thinking that I would take up sewing. My (then) husband got more use out of the machine than I ever did. I was always a bit embarrassed by that, as my Hawaii grandmother was an accomplished needle worker. Not only did she sew beautifully, she taught sewing classes as well (she even went to other islands to teach!) She also knit and crocheted. My mother did not inherit my grandmother's talents; consequently she did not find it necessary to teach my sister or myself. Evidently, the crafty gene skipped a generation, because I am finally learning how to sew.
I have been taking a series of classes at Stone Mountain and Daughter in Berkeley. Funnily enough, my knitting created the need for me to learn how to use my sewing machine, since I wanted to make a holder for my dpn's and line the purses I've knit. My first sewing project is a pair of pajama pants. It's a pretty easy pattern, since I only have to worry about the inside seam (Yay! No outside seam needed!) I'm not entirely thrilled with the (almost finished) project - the legs are wide, my fabric choice was a little loud (ok, a lot), and they remind me of clown pants. My sister (God love her), told me to "get over it," because they are cute on and I would want them roomy in order to lounge comfortably. I guess I'll bring them out at Christmas time and try to blend in with the decor.
I just need to finish the hems.
Loud, isn't it?
There isn't much to report about my knitting projects, since the sewing class is taking up some of my free time. My projects have stalled out, but I hope to get back to them soon, since I finally received my invitation to Ravelry! My ID is hapagirl. I haven't added much to my notebook yet, but it is fun to look around and see what everyone else is doing.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Blogging on the Fly

Still alive and kicking....Just a quick post to thank my SP11 Pal for the e-card she sent (Was it last week? I've lost all track of time).

I've been tagged by Emiko at JavaGibber, so I will add to this later.....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Just Watch the Foot

My cat, Little Girl, just loves to be brushed. However, a curious thing happens when I hit the "sweet spot" under her chin. It never fails to make me laugh!

video

We Now Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Blogging

Whew! What a week! My absence has been caused by the craziness associated with the beginning of the school year (and the fact that I needed to entertain mom).

I felt that I needed a brand-new beginning this year, so to start the year off right, I : rearranged all the classroom furniture (including the massive teacher desk), put new paper and borders up (amazing what some calming colors can do for your psyche), and generally decluttered my room. The room now seems more spacious; it also feels welcoming, although I think the fake vines climbing the walls and the hanging monkeys might have something to do with that!

This years class is so social! I couldn't believe how chatty they were on the first day of school. Usually kids are shell-shocked and quiet, but this bunch acted like they had known each other for years -- even the kids that are new to our school! It's a dual-edged sword: on one hand I hope they will be quiet when I'm teaching, on the other hand, I'm grateful that they are all so sweet and seem to get along well with each other.

Another positive note, I survived back-to-school night! A part of me is always afraid that I will blather on incessantly and sound like an idiot. One mom, bless her heart, kept smiling and nodding at me every time I looked up during my presentation, so I must done all right (although at one point near the end, I did mention that I needed more caffeine!) I have high hopes for the parents this year - they seem like a good bunch. I already know a few of them well enough to joke around with them and razz them right back when they start to tease me.

I don't have much to report on the knitting front, as I haven't been doing any lately. I didn't even get to finish the coffee sock in time to get it in the package to my vacation swap partner. So spoilee, if you read this, you will be getting a small padded envelope in the mail in the not too distant future! Heck, you may even get to see a picture of it before it gets mailed to you!

Speaking of vacation swaps, I received my package from my KVVS partner! She's Sally from Newcastle Upon Tyne in the United Kingdom. When I opened the package and saw the postcards, my brain immediately said, "Newcastle United!" My ex was a football (soccer) player and a huge fan, so I've actually sat through some of their games via satellite.

The cat liked the package, too.
My virtual tour of Newcastle upon Tyne. Beautiful!
A book and tea towel written in Geordie, a dialect associated with the north east of England. I especially like the sentiment on the tea towel, "TO AVOID DISH-WASH HANDS, Avoid Dish-washin!" My kind of thinking!
Sheepy goodness from Hutton-le-Hole in North Yorkshire! A sheep key chain, sheep worry dolls, a magnet, soap, and two skeins of wool yarn. The yarn is from British Breeds, spun in Yorkshire from Bluefaced Leicester sheep. It feels so nice, I know I'm going to enjoy knitting with it! Edit: I have no idea why the above photo is linking to the Geordie site. Weird...
Finally, coffee, tea (Earl Grey), and a pen & pencil that say Newcastle Gateshead (Gateshead is on the other side of the River Tyne).

I am truly a lucky, lucky, girl! Sally, I can't thank you enough for my vacation in a box! It makes me want to rush right out and renew my passport! Thank you ever so much!


Sunday, August 26, 2007

Ravelry's Getting Closer

The Ravelry invitations seem to be speeding up. I checked today to find this:

Found you!
You signed up on July 2, 2007
You are #12099 on the list.
1905 people are ahead of you in line.
16495 people are behind you in line.
35% of the list has been invited so far.


I knew I should have signed up sooner...

* A note about the mini circs in my last post. They have been discontinued, but are still available at Halcyon yarn (scroll down to the bottom of the page). I have small hands - I can wear knit gloves from the children's dept. - so the needles are pretty comfortable for me to use. I've heard people with larger hands complain about them.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Crazy Busy

It's Thursday, right? I've been running around so much that I momentarily forget what day it is, since everything is blurring together. On the up side, my classroom is almost ready to go, after the annual rearranging of the furniture. I'm hoping this is the year that I have the perfect set up for years to come (but then again, I thought that last year!) On the down side, I wish my mother chose a different week to visit, as she invariably needs to go places. I find myself thinking of things I need to get accomplished by Monday and start to slowly stress out while I take her to the hairdresser, shopping, etc. Poor thing, she's lonely; I hope my stress isn't turning me into too much of a beoch.

Lucky for me, two things are keeping me sane: knitting and my animals. I've started knitting a chemo cap for an acquaintance who's sick. I'm making this pattern out of Rowan Calmer. Love knitting in the round -- no brain power required.

Since I have the attention span of a gnat when it comes to my knitting, I'm also making a coffee cozy for my KVVS partner. Good old K2P2 ribbing. It's so easy on my mini-circular needles; I only wish they had not been discontinued!

The animals are also keeping me amused. Why is it that cats prefer to sleep in a cardboard box, instead of the nice beds not two feet away? They're so easy to please; just give them food and a box.

Friday, August 17, 2007

SP 11 Contest

Just a quick post today -- between house guests and classroom set-up, I haven't had a lot of time to blog, much less read blogs! (Although I really appreciate the kind comments that were left the other day. Thank you!)

This is for a SP11 contest

1. What is the one knitting accessory you could not live without?
My row counter. It has saved me on more than one occasion.
2. If you're heading on vacation, do you take knitting with you? Of course!
If so, how much and what type of project? Something easy, like plain socks, a scarf, or a hat.
3. Where have you travelled to that you'd consider your favorite spot? I love just about anyplace with water and mountains, such as the Oregon and Northern California coasts, and Lugano, Switzerland.
4. What is your favorite knitting book at the moment? Do you own it? The evidence (click on the picture) shows that I am rather book addicted. I'm slightly embarrassed to say that the collection has grown since that post. My current favorite is Mason-Dixon Knitting, although I use the general knitting section of Domiknitrix to help with technique (and I do own both of them).
5. Do you listen to podcasts? Which is your favorite(s)? I occasionally listen to Socks in the City and the Knit Picks podcast.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Secret Pal 11 Questionnaire

Hello to my SP11 Spoiler! Thank you for your e-card :0 )
Here's my questionnaire.

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? I like to knit with soft, natural fibers (wool, alpaca, silk, soy). I can't say that I'm fond of acrylic or novelty yarns (yes, I'm a little yarn snob).

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I store my circular needles in a little expanding file box that is meant for storing pictures, my Knit Picks needles have their own case, and my straight needles are in a felt wine bag. I still haven't figured out a good way to store my dpn's; they're wrapped in rubber bands and stuffed into an old cookie canister.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I started knitting in 2005. I would consider myself an advanced beginner.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Nope.


5. What's your favorite scent? Coffee! No really, I tend to like lighter scents, such as lavender, rose and citrus. I also like the smell of honey.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? I have a sweet tooth and a salty tooth (if there is such a thing!). I like milk chocolate; I really don't care for dark or white chocolate. My favorite candy is Charles Chocolates Milk Chocolate Caramelized Rice Krispie Bar, but Twix and Kit Kat bars are good too.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I make jewelry - wire wrapped, beaded, kumihimo, beaded loom work. I occasionally paint (watercolors), rubber stamp, and cross stitch, but not so much anymore (knitting and jewelry are my mainstays).


8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I have pretty eclectic musical tastes. I listen to a lot of KFOG, which is adult alternative/rock, but I also listen to R&B, jazz, Brazilian, and Hawaiian music. I use itunes.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? I like earthy colors: various shades of red, blue, green, and chocolate brown. I'm not fond of neon/fluorescent colors, pastels, or khaki.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? Divorced mom of two cats.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? I wear scarves, hats, and mittens/gloves. I haven't worn a poncho since the late 1970's and really don't want to wear one ever again (I prefer shawls and stoles).

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I like small, portable projects such as scarves, hats, and socks.

13. What are you knitting right now? Just call me Miss Short Attention Span. I'm knitting the baby kimono from Mason-Dixon Knitting, a camisole from Knitting Lingerie style, a chemo cap, and Mystery Shawl 3 (although I'm doing my best to ignore it!)

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Yes! I really appreciate it when people take the time to make something for me.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I prefer circular needles (they fit my itty-bitty hands nicely). I like to knit with bamboo needles, although I do have the KnitPicks set of "Options" needles (which I love).

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Yes to both, thanks to my sister.

17. How old is your oldest UFO? Clapotis, started in the summer of 2005 and more or less neglected since then.

18. What is your favorite holiday? Summer break? Seriously though, I enjoy the fall/winter holiday season -- Thanksgiving, Hanukkah (even though I'm a gentile), & Christmas. I like the cool nip in the air outside and the coziness of good food and family inside (not to mention the holiday TV shows that have been on every year since I was born!).

19. Is there anything that you collect? Books! It's been said of me before -- I should have been a librarian. I also seem to have a growing yarn collection.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? There's nothing I desperately want right now, but given time, I'm sure I'll find something to covet... I don't have a magazine subscription at the moment, but I used to subscribe to Interweave Knits.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I'd really like to learn modular knitting or shadow knitting.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? I am a newbie sock knitter. I usually wear a size 8 shoe.

23. When is your birthday? After Christmas, at the end of December, just in time for my dad to get that tax deduction.

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID? I'm still on the waiting list. Edit: I'm in! My ID is hapagirl.

P.S. If it helps, my other swap questionnaires are on the sidebar of this blog (Swaps Past & Present).

Time Flies When You're Having Fun

I've been neglecting this blog in the interest of squeezing the last bit of fun out of my summer vacation. A friend of mine from Hawaii came to spend a few days with me, so she could go to the American Craft Council Show in San Francisco. She's opening a small boutique and was on the prowl for some unique things to stock/decorate her store. The show always has a good assortment of artisans who display beautiful work. I broke down and bought a bowl from my favorite potters (yay, Nichibei Potters!), a pair of earrings, and an excellent coffee mug that I can cradle in my hands every morning (I need mugs like I need a hole in my head, but I couldn't pass this one up!)

I'm off to school tomorrow, to begin setting up my classroom for the coming school year. I'm grateful that I'm not dreading going back...I'm not ecstatic (I would prefer to goof off some more), but I think it's a good sign that I'm not moaning about going back and dragging my feet in a theatrical way. There have been some staffing changes at my grade level, so we're pretty optimistic about the coming year.

I hope to get a good deal of work done tomorrow, because my mother is flying down on Thursday to visit me for a week. While I was a little stressed out over my friend's visit, I'm really not feeling any pressure to entertain my mom when she gets here. She even said I could put her to work in my classroom! I don't know about getting her to work for me (her handwriting would be illegible to a second grader!), I'll be grateful for the company and the excuse to take her out to a real sit-down restaurant for lunch, instead of grabbing something from the supermarket. It will also give me the chance to sell her on the Bay Area, in the hopes that she will move down here to be closer to my sister and me. Fingers crossed...

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

50 States Meme

I seem to have lost my knitting mojo, so I think I'll post this meme that I found on the Purl Parables. At any rate, it seems to go along with the Virtual Vacation Swap.

The original rules were: Bold the states you’ve been to, underline the states you’ve lived in and italicize the state you’re in now… Since I can't figure out how to underline things in Blogger, the states I've lived in are in yellow and my present home is in orange.

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C /

The things I do when I can't sleep....

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bay Area Yarn Stores - Any Recommendations?

I received an email from Midori, who is coming to California and wants to know what yarn stores I can recommend. If you live in-state and can contribute to the list, please add your picks in the comment section.

These are the stores I know about in the Bay Area.

San Francisco

Artfibers - I absolutely love this store! The yarn they carry is manufactured for their store alone. They allow you to sample the yarns before you buy them; you can park yourself in their sitting area and knit up a swatch from the yarn samples they have. You can learn more about Artfibers through this review.

I have to admit, with the exception of Artfibers, I have not shopped for yarn in San Francisco. I have heard good things about Noe Knit. The review from Knitter's Review. If you find yourself in the Castro District, you may want to drop in on ImagiKnit. I only know about this store by word of mouth and this review.

East Bay

Article Pract is easily my hands-down favorite yarn store in the East Bay, if not the entire Bay Area! I know I am not alone in this thought, as the store is frequently mentioned in glowing terms in the Bay Area blogs that I read. Article Pract has a great selection of yarn, no matter what your price point is, and I've never gotten that "yarn store attitude" thrown at me. They are located in the Temescal section of Oakland, on the Oakland/Berkeley border. Another great feature of this neighborhood is Bakesale Betty, which is just a few doors down!

On the rare occasions that Article Pract doesn't have what I am seeking (and I need it right away), I have also dropped in on the following stores:

Stash - located on Berkeley's Solano Avenue, which is a great street to explore. You can spend the day poking around the boutiques, drinking coffee at Peet's, and eating pizza at Zachary's. Oh, but this was supposed to be about the yarn...Here's another blogger's review of Stash.

Knit This, Purl That! - located just off Main Street in Pleasanton, this store has a little bit of everything. If you like Noni patterns, you can find most of them here.

Most of my yarn buying is restricted to the East Bay, but I have also heard a lot about the following stores:
North Bay - Marin Fiber Arts located in San Rafael. I haven't had a chance to go to this store, but you can see what's in stock on the store's blog.

Peninsula - Nine Rubies Knitting located in San Mateo. I haven't made it to this store, either, but I've heard good things about it. I've met some of their employees while taking classes at Article Pract.

That's the end of my list, can you think of any I need to add?

Monday, July 23, 2007

More Reading, Less Knitting

Not a whole lot to report on the knitting front. I've been taking a break from MS3 to work on a tank from Knitting Lingerie Style. I figure, since I'm part of the knit along group, I should probably be knitting something from the book! As for the coffee cozy, it is still on my "to do" list (no, I didn't knit the one in the picture!)

I spent Saturday morning impatiently waiting for the UPS guy to deliver THE BOOK. Yeah, you know the one....

Heh, heh, look what's happening to the countdown widget....

I spent most of the weekend reading it. The only thing I have to say on the matter is this: all will be revealed.

Want to Get Sorted? How geeky am I?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Crazy About the Coffee Cozy

I don't have that many vices, but I am well known as a coffee fiend. I really find this funny, since I usually only drink one latte a day. O.K., it's a triple venti, but I nurse that baby along! When you are slowly sipping from a rather large cup, it tends to get a little cold. The solution? A coffee cup cozy! I knitted one for my coffee swap partner (here it is in action!). I found the pattern here. A picture of her finished product. I knit it a bit longer than the original pattern, because I tend to drink larger cups of coffee.

As I was catching up on my blog reading the other week, I came across this version created by MK Carroll. Go look! Isn't it great? It may take me a while, but I'm definitely going to have to knit the French press version. You've probably seen some of MK's patterns online. She's the genius behind sushi for the bathroom, this little beauty that I crocheted for my mom, and she was published in SNB Nation (Head Huggers, Mobile Monsters)/SNB Crochet (Ladylike Lace Gloves).

Other coffee cup cozies:

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Ravelry

It seems that every other blog I look at these days is either announcing their invitation to join Ravelry, or where they are on the waiting list. The buzz seems to rival the upcoming Harry Potter.

I just checked my place in line. Guess I should have signed up sooner.

You are #12099 on the list.
6027 people are ahead of you in line.
6023 people are behind you in line.
32% of the list has been invited so far

Random Fact #1

I have never been tagged for a meme, so I'm just going to throw out random facts about myself here and there (like I haven't done that already!)

Random Fact of the Day: I have lived in Brazil on two separate occasions.

The first time I lived in Rio de Janeiro, about two blocks and a canal away from Ipanema. My dad was a troubleshooter for a multinational accounting firm, so we were transferred there. I spent my junior high (6th-8th grade) years here. I learned to speak Portuguese by watching the dubbed versions of "Hogan's Heroes," "The Six Million Dollar Man," and the "Monkees" (for the record, Lee Majors sounded sexier in Portuguese). I had a blast living there. Well, except for the times when I was locked up in the apartment during Carnival, while my parents and older sister went out to party. I managed to have fun anyway, staying up all night watching the parades on TV, making mini-pizzas in the toaster oven, and climbing up on top of the washing machine so I could watch the sunrise.

The second time I moved in Brazil, I lived in Sao Paulo with my (then) husband, a Brazilian citizen (but Taiwanese national). To this day, I describe that city as New York City on steroids. It is huge...ginormous even. In the sixteen years that I was away, Brazil had changed quite a bit. Satellite/cable TV had arrived and I could watch shows in English (with subtitles). I no longer had to bring American food in my suitcase (or cozy up to the military kids for PX contraband); if I wanted Ruffles, I could just go down to the corner store and get them. McDonald's seemed to be everywhere, which was kind of amazing to me, since my sister played in the band for the opening of the very first McDonald's in Brazil. They infiltrated the nation in less than seventeen years. In some ways, I found that development to be kind of sad. On one hand, life is easier for the expatriate, but on the other hand, they miss out on so much. I taught in an American school and couldn't help feeling bad for the other American teachers. Some of them only hung out with Americans, went home to watch TV in English, and barely ate Brazilian food. Boy, they missed out on so much.
Why am I babbling on incessantly about Brazil today? Because of this post in the Technicolor Kitchen, a blog written in both Portuguese and English. When I read it, I end up missing all the foods I used to eat, or else I start saying, "Hey, I remember that!" She has some recipes for things I love to eat (but am too lazy to make), like empadinhas and pastel. Today's post made me want to jump on a plane and head back to Brazil. Pudim de leite (condensed milk custard) is a lot like creme caramel/caramel custard, but denser. It is also one of my all time favorite desserts. Unfortunately, I can't eat it for a while (diet), so I end up drooling over it and writing about Brazil.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Finally!

Yesterday was a good day. A day that I was able to say, "Finally!" a few times.

I finally finished Chart A of Mystery Shawl #3. Here's proof!
I'm using Zephyr wool/silk in charcoal. The hematite colored beads are from my favorite bead store, Baubles and Beads in Berkeley.

My sister and I took advantage of her day off and finally made it to Point Reyes Station. My brother in law wasn't teaching (he's a tennis pro), so we dragged him along. We had a late lunch at the Station House Cafe; I succumbed to their peer pressure and had the Station House burger, fries, and the three berry pie. (I'm thinking that if I write it smaller, I'll feel less guilt. Oh, who am I kidding? It was mighty fine pie!)

After lunch, we ambled around the main drag for a bit. I peeked into Black Mountain Artisans, where they had a small selection of hand spun/dyed yarns, but sadly, no sock yarn. We also visited a great store called Zuma, where I bought a little bag that is just large enough to keep a sock project safe. It's made out of Thai silk, so it should "fancy up" my plain old "vanilla" sock knitting (no fancy patterns for me until the shawl is finished).
We finished up our little trip with a visit to the Cowgirl Creamery. My sister has been getting into artisan cheeses, so she was in heaven! We each ended up buying some to take back home.

When I got home, my old cat finally decided to leave her favorite mattress pad and come hang out with me on the couch. She doesn't do that nearly enough, now that the new cat is on the scene.
Like I said, yesterday was a good day.