Archive for the 'gifts' Category


Mystery lemon

Is giving giant* lemons with the next year’s date written on them some New Year’s Eve tradition that I just haven’t heard about before?



One of the guests at our New Year’s Eve party brought this decorated lemon. (I didn’t know about it until after he left, and he isn’t someone I know (he’s the friend of a friend who was invited), so I can’t really contact him to ask.

*Seriously, this thing is the size of a small grapefruit!


Scarf weather has arrived . . .

. . . and thanks to my awesome friend Jean, I am extra-prepared for it this year! She made this scarf for me last spring, but I’m only now getting to wear it for the first time.



I have awesome friends

Last spring, a huge tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, and took out a good chunk of the town. Among those directly affected were the parents and brother of my roommate from college (and still good friend), Beth. They lost pretty much everything: home, cars, belongings. The destruction was so bad that not only was their house razed afterward, but the foundation—which was too damaged to support another structure safely—was removed as well, and everything was filled in . All that remains is a flat empty lot with a driveway apron (the small ramp-like part leading from the curb to the main driveway) going nowhere.

Fortunately, none of Beth’s was injured. And the things they lost were, after all, just things—most of which could be replaced. But among the irreplaceables were items that Beth and her brother had made as children. When I asked Beth, “What can I do for your family?” she replied that some handmade Christmas decor would be much appreciated.

So I sent a note to my local knitting group, and right away several people volunteered to make something. One friend, Ann, is in the middle of downsizing/reorganizing and sent four boxes of Christmas stuff to Beth’s parents. (I checked with Beth about this before giving Ann the go-ahead to ship so much. Beth says there are holiday drives in progress in Joplin right now, so whatever her family can’t use or share with friends will surely find good homes with other people affected by the tornado.)

Other friends created items especially for Beth’s family. From the top : various ornaments from Katie, knitted owl and ball ornaments from Gina, a set of knitted accessory ornaments from Ruth, and a knitted stocking ornament from Beth (not the Joplin one).

All of this stuff (along with something I made) went out to Joplin early last week. Just in time for the holidays!


Hedgehog mittens

This is a long-overdue public thank-you to my friend Beth. Last January, someone posted to our local knitting group e-mail list a link to Morehouse Farms hedgehog mittens kit. I replied that I loved them but wasn’t planning to spend money on yarn anytime soon. Beth knows that my family loves hedgehogs—especially Sylvia, who has been hedgehog-crazy since she discovered Mrs. Tiggy-winkle when she was two. So Beth did something very sneaky: she bought a kit for me and had it sent to my house.

I cast on right away and got to the thumb gusset of the first mitten before I got distracted by other projects. This pattern is fun to knit—albeit a bit slow going (knitting bobbles for the quills takes time!)—and I’m hoping to get a set of these done for myself by next fall . . . and maybe a pair for Sylvia, too!



Life update

Reading: The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth. A compelling narrative, well-drawn characters, and good writing. I liked this book very much, though reading it made me feel a bit paranoid: I saw in it echoes of the current neocon-driven discourse. Roth writes about Jews, but in many parts if you substitute “Muslims” you see glimpses of the prejudice and fear in our own society today.

Also reading: The Dark Is Rising sequence, by Susan Cooper. Actually, I’m listening to these: the three of us are listening to the audio books together (great for long car rides, and for evenings spent playing with Legos in the den after dinner). We’ve gotten through three of the five books, and Sylvia loves them. So much, in fact, that we started having “Wouldn’t it be nice to take a trip to Cornwall soon?” discussions before we realized that such a trip isn’t in our budget right now. Soon, I hope.

Mucking about with: Google Body.

Knitting: It’s been quite some time (months and months!) since I did a knitting update. Over the winter months I completed several small projects:

  • three sets of baby legwarmers (made from Baby Cashmerino) for three different new babies
  • five (!!!) Seven Circles scarves/necklaces (also from Baby Cashmerino); all but one were gifts for friends*
  • one pair of socks for a child (this isn’t quite finished but will be within a few days, I think); these were supposed to be for Sylvia but are turning out to be too small for her, so they’ll be a gift for someone else

I also knit a February Lady Sweater for myself. I cast on in January, but I did happen to knit most of it in February. Since I finished it, I’ve worn it at least three days each week—I really love it.

BONUS: All of this knitting was done with stash yarn. WOOT! Up next on my plate: a February Lady (Kid?) Sweater for Sylvia. I think I’ll just take the grown-up pattern and knit the smallest size in sportweight (instead of worsted). That ought to fit her, I think. Unfortunately, I don’t have suitable yarn for this (she wants blue, and I’m thinking of something that’s mostly cotton), so I’ll actually have to buy some for this project.

Watching: The Secret of Kells. One of the most visually stunning films I’ve seen in a long time.

* And one of those friends was the person who gave me some of that yarn about four years ago. She gave me three balls of Baby Cashmerino in a deep red color, and that turned out to be just the right amount to make one scarf for her and an identical one for myself.


Knitting updates

It’s funny that I originally started this blog to keep track of my knitting projects yet lately I’ve been lousy about posting knitting-related updates here. I’m still knitting these days–not so much with my knitting group (busy schedules and other interests and obligations have made it difficult for us all to get together as often as we used to), but mostly during times when I’m sitting around waiting somewhere or watching a DVD.Early last month I finished the hem on my Wallaby. I’d originally knit it with a rolled hem, but after test-wearing it for a couple of months I decided I didn’t like how the roll formed a “bump” that poked me in the lower back whenever I leaned back on it. So I picked up stitches all around the cast-on edge, knit a hem, and sewed it down. I’m pleased with the results.


I also finished my squirrel and oak mittens to match the ones I knit for Sylvia a year and a half ago. She really wanted us to have matching mittens, and it took me a while to get the yarn and gauge right.You may recall that I knit Sylvia’s left mitten three times before I got the size right. I did not rip the failures but plan to knit their mates at some point. The small ones can be a baby gift for someone, and the larger ones will probably fit Sylvia this year.


I had similar trials with my mittens. First I knit one in Knitpicks Palette, which turned out to be too small for me. Then I knit one in Knitpicks worsted Wool of the Andes on #4 needles. Too small again. Using #6 needles yielded success. Fortunately, I always start with the squirrel mitten, which has “20” at the top. Since it’s highly unlikely that we’ll start a new century before I finish the oak mitten, I’ll be able to knit the mates for these and give them away. (The Palette ones are likely to fit Sylvia in a couple of years.)

Happily, I had no gauge problems whatsoever with this baby cardigan, sized for 6-12 months. Two years ago I took a class with Margaret Fisher and was so inspired that a couple of months later I got her book, Seven Things that can “Make or Break” a Sweater™: Techniques and Tips for Hand Knitters (even though the capitalization choices and use of quotes in the title annoy me).

This baby cardigan project features all of the elements she discussed in that book: as you read the book, you work through the project, thus getting some hands-on experience with each technique.I knit this in Rowan All-Season Cotton from my stash. What a fun project! I definitely want to knit this pattern again. This particular sweater went to a friend who is expecting her first child at the end of July. I can’t wait to see photos of the baby wearing it this winter!



Baby knits

My oldest friend (that is, the friend I’ve had the longest) just welcomed her second child at the end of March. I started knitting for this baby late last summer.

First I decided to knit a blanket. I made up this log-cabin design as I went along, and managed to knit this entirely from stash. All of the yarn is pima/tencel DK weight; about half of it is left over from Sylvia’s Anouk pinafore (for which I was very cautious and aggressively over-ordered yarn), and the rest is left over from other projects.


I actually finished the blanket over Thanksgiving weekend and thought I was done. But about a month ago I came across some Wool-Ease in my stash, in a nice muted mauve/pink color, and decided the baby (which we now all knew would be a girl) needed a sweater, too. This is the Simple Boatneck by Debbie Bliss, my favorite go-to sweater for babies and toddles. And of course once the sweater was done I needed to make a hat to go with it, right?




While my friend Beth was secretly knitting a pincushion for me, my friend Katie was secretly knitting this tea cozy for me. Or not so secretly, as the case may be: she actually worked on it while she was sitting in my house, but lied her head off and told me it was for herself. She even lied when she blogged about it, too!

So imagine my surprise when Katie came over a few days ago and handed me this:


Of course I had to test it immediately (on a pot of Darjeeling). It fits perfectly–and actually did keep the tea warm a lot longer!

I am so lucky!

(Project 363 | 2010: 22 February)



Yesterday morning around 8:30 a.m., I had just finished breakfast and was thinking about suiting up to go outside to shovel the six inches of snow that had fallen since I’d last shoveled, and Sylvia said, “I think someone is here.” I looked outside the window and sure enough, my friend Beth was here. She also happens to live in my neighborhood and enjoys a good walk, so she was here on foot.

And not empty-handed. Look what she brought:


I’d posted the pattern last month, and Beth then took it upon herself to knit one for me. And see that little button on the top? She handpainted a little bee on it! (My family has a thing for bees. And hedgehogs. And cheetahs.)

I love it. I can’t wait to get a new sewing project going so I can use it!

(Project 365 | 2010: 12 February)


Degrees of separation

In the spring of 2006, I signed up for my first secret pal swap. My goal was to make some new friends, and I’ve certainly succeeded. I’ve kept in touch with my downstream pal in that swap, Arianna, and through her have also gotten to know her very excellent sister Bethany.

Arianna and Bethany recently sent me a box of surprises: a set of notecards (with patterns!) by the Yarn Girls and a very cool little snack pouch they’d made for Sylvia out of hedgehog-print fabric. (Sylvia’s first words upon seeing it? “Can I use it right now?)

A couple of weeks ago Bethany and her friend launched a new website and asked people to vote on which logo to use. I offered my opinion and ended up winning (thanks to the random number generator) a prize! The prize arrived in the mail yesterday–and boy, is it cool. I got some art in the mail! It’s not every day I can say this, that’s for sure.


On the left you see a beautiful print (matted, even!) with “Backyard Garden” on it. (Bethany, can you tell me a bit about this?) And on the right, a banana-print card with Bethany’s note on the back, and a set of notecards.

I love it! Now I just have to figure out where to hang it!

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