Desperate Housewife

I did it! I made a break for it yesterday and finally got out of the neighborhood! It required a little work beforehand: I cleared 75 feet of snow and ice down to the pavement for one set of tires to run through at the steepest part of the 1/4-mile long uphill driveway. The car easily made it’s way past the cars my neighbors had abandoned at the lower end of the driveway. With no babysitter able to get to my house, I packed my son up, along with provisions in case we got stuck somewhere, and I made the trip to downtown Seattle (almost 20 miles) without snow tires, studded tires or chains. The front-wheel drive Prius handled quite well on what can only be described as off-road driving in many instances, because Denny Street in the heart of downtown had 4″-5″ high ruts created by the combination of snow, ice, and tire chains. My son had quite a good time laughing his way through all the bumps. Parking was scarce because everyone wanted to park in the parking lots because they were more accessible than street parking, and it took me 25 minutes just to find a parking spot, so I arrived 15-minutes late for my hair appointment. My son and I were relieved to get out of the house and we went grocery shopping on the way home.

After a long delay caused by winter weather, it looks like we’re on our way to Christmas. Despite a heavy snowfall this morning, it’s lightly raining now, so hopefully we’ll be able to have everyone here for Christmas. My son’s 12″ bicycle arrived yesterday. Now that I have my groceries, I’ve begun prepping the meal for tomorrow. I was trying to reduce some balsamic vinegar to a syrup and got busy reading to my son and forgot about the vinegar; what a stinky, crusty, black mess that turned out to be, but my second attempt went fine. Hopefully I won’t burn anything else, but then I am a kitchen klutz, so who knows what will happen.

I finished the scarf for my mom with the yarn she selected from a sewing supplies/knitting supplies/underwear store on Corso Roma in Montecatini Terme, Italy.

Yarn:  Andromeda by Lana Gatto
Pattern: just garter stitch until desired length
Needles: US 11/8.0 mm

I’m almost done with Veste Croisée, and am just finishing-up the sleeves. It’s coming along nicely and my pattern translation from French seems fairly accurate. If it all comes together nicely, I might email La Droguerie the pattern and they can have someone test it out and hopefully make it available for any other non-French speaking knitters, that is, if they can find someone to read my English email, since I don’t speak or write French.

Merry Christmas!


We’re very homey, these days.

We’ve been feeling very homey and never made it off the front porch yesterday, so we made spritz cookies from the cookie cookbook of my childhood:  Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book, 1963 edition.  Feeling particularly festive, we frosted them with royal icing.

Next, I hope to make either World Peace Cookies, which I have Mariko to thank for bringing these to my attention, or Homemade Oreos or the quickest cookie to make that I know of and that doesn’t require baking, Oreo Rum Balls (no link for this).

We have snow drifts around our house. The only place I’ve ever seen snow drifts around here before is in the mountains. Meanwhile, the two hummingbirds that winter-over actually drew blood over the hummingbird feeder yesterday (I go out and defrost it every few hours); there were little splatters of blood all over the snow underneath it on the front porch. Despite avian drama at the hummingbird feeder, it’s just plain breathtaking around here, and in contrast to the adult in me that says it’s all a hassle, the kid in me is rejoicing over the snow I’d often wished for so that I wouldn’t have to go to school and could go sledding instead.

Snow-covered bush at dawn.

My Japanese sweet-making class for today is canceled (sniff). I canceled the babysitter who was going to cover while I went to the class (sniff), since she couldn’t make it here and I have no place to go until our driveway melts. Now if I can’t get my to haircut in downtown Seattle tomorrow, well, there’ll be hell to pay: if I can’t get to the competent hands of my stylist this week, I’ll have to lock myself up in the house until the next available appointment in mid-January.

I finished Esme. It’s a quick and easy knit, probably took me 6-8 hours total, and I recommend it. I should note that the pattern is sized for adults, and even though my son is wearing the hat, it’s for me and it fits perfectly.

Pattern: Esme, by Amy Pickard
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay in Cornflower (from my stash collection)
Needles: US 7/4.5 mm, circular (magic loop method)

Blocking with a dinner plate.

Introducing my very own model!

I threw in the picture below because over the weekend we unearthed the second hat I made 23 years ago.  It was from a kit I bought while attending the University of Wisconsin at Madison at the time. I’m told the yarn store is long gone, but I enjoyed these hat kits, because I loved the lanolin smell of the wool yarn and the earthy feel of the handspun yarn in my hands, the pattern was fun and it was the first time I made something using colors that actually worked out and I remember the delight I felt as I saw the pattern develop. I’d made this one for my dad, but I remember he said it was too warm and I guess he never wore it, so after he died some years ago and I was sorting through all of his stuff, I found it and reclaimed it. My son wore it when we went sledding this morning; he really appreciates things I’ve knitted, and I’m considering making him a cardigan.

It's not easy to get him to sit still while wearing two scratchy wool hats.

Day 4: Cabin Fever

Today marks the fourth day I have not left the confines my neighborhood. I haven’t driven anywhere due to an icy uphill drive and icy roads—nay, I haven’t been in a car in four days—and now the third round of our winter storm has hit in the form of a blizzard. Next year will mark 30 years since I first came to the Pacific Northwest and I have never seen such a storm in the Seattle metropolitan area. I have not seen weather like this since I lived in Minnesota. Crazy. Blowing and drifting. Crazy.

You know cabin fever has set in when my son and I greeted my husband with eager anticipation when he came home from work yesterday (the boss and his four-wheel drive have been taking him to and from lately), tearing the grocery bag from his hands to inspect its contents as if it was Christmas already. Luckily his office is near a supermarket and I sent him shopping before he came home.

Frost glinting in the morning sun on a frozen squash on my neighbor's fence post.

You know cabin fever has set in when the birthday party for the 3-year old a few houses down becomes more of a social hour for the parents; all of us sticking around much longer than we would otherwise. Where else could we go?

I keep myself entertained though. I think I ticked-off one of my sisters-in-law today via email when I told her I was sending two books for her 5-year old daughter instead of the iTunes gift card her mom requested (the 5-year old has her own iPod Touch). It’s okay, I told my sister-in-law that she is welcome to return the books and get what my niece wants. I only meant well, figuring that it’s more fun to actually open a gift than to open a gift card when you’re very little. And then my mom got annoyed with me because I didn’t call her to tell her we wouldn’t be accepting her open invitation for dinner at her place tonight—I fell asleep. So much for joyful family relations during the holiday season. Sigh.

Cabin fever and annoying relatives aside, I have some knitting for you.

Esme brim using Manos from my stash, how it looked this afternoon, now it's halfway done (no picture yet).

Mom's Christmas scarf, garter stitch, yarn from Italy trip, half done.

To close, hope for the future—

Morning on the snowy woodland: after today the days start getting longer again....I can't wait.

Somebody get me some chocolate…..please.

These days of cold….

We don’t get out much these days between biting cold weather, occasional icy roads, school closures and snow.  We finally got our big snow storm early this morning and we did our sledding and made a snow angel.

We finally got a Christmas tree last weekend and we’re pretty much done decorating it.  Because it’s been so cold, we opted for a pre-cut tree from a nearby tree farm rather than trek out into the field to cut it ourselves.  I know, we’re wimps.

It's so cold the cats spend a lot of time in front of the gas heater.

I used the tree decorating as a photo opp for socks that I made 3 years ago with yarn I bought on a trip to Newport, Oregon earlier that year.

Why am I showing them now?  Because I didn’t have a blog then (although I wanted one) and I rarely wear them because they don’t fit in my everyday shoes, and if they did, they’d be a little more wild that I’d like to be seen in for normal, everyday wear.  So I was wearing them and thought I’d give them some attention.  The pattern is Whitby from Nancy Bush’s Knitting on the Road.  I don’t remember much about the yarn except that it is Socks That Rock and it’s pretty thick stuff; it may be STR’s heavyweight yarn, and don’t quote me, but I think the colorway is “Blarney Stone”.

I wound a couple more balls of the Orenburg yarn for Grand Duchess and, interestingly enough, as I suspected some of the skeins partially felted when I dyed them last August.  I say partially, because the strands of mohair had partially locked together, but I was  able to gently tease them apart.  All the skeins went into the bath together and I stirred them, but I can only imagine that what happened is that some of the skeins got stirred more than others, resulting in the partial felting.  The difference can be seen when the two skeins I wound are side-by-side.

The partially felted ball is on the right, and you can see it has more of a halo from fuzzy mohair.

With the cold weather I’ve found that I’ve misplaced one of my knitted hats and I thought I had some mittens I’d made around here….but I can’t seem to find them. And then, when I was rummaging around in my closet for my hat, I misplaced the other pair of socks I’d knitted (a few years ago) that I was going to wear…and, well, I guess that means I’ll be knitting at least one new hat really fast.

I have four skeins of Manos del Uruguay in solid cornflower sitting around that I still don’t know what to do with, so I’ll use one of them to make Esme from the Winter 2008/Issue 4 edition of The Inside Loop; I searched it out through Ravelry’s pattern search (what a modern miracle that is!).  I have four skeins of Manos because I had a gift certificate for Pastimes Yarns And Sitting Room in Kent, Washington, and no sooner did I get it than the store decided to close (about four years ago), causing about 100 or so yarn devotees to rush down (we had very short notice) to stand in line for hours to use up our gift certificates and store credit along with everyone else looking for a great deal.  I bought the skeins and a few other yarns with no pattern in mind, and by the time I got there, the pickings were slim. Who knows what I’ll do with the remaining skeins, but how handy to have them hanging around so that I can make a new hat!

Chicken Little or Common Sense?

Excuse me while I rant….

Ugh!  My son’s preschool didn’t open today because the local school district canceled school, and in fact I think every school district within 100 miles of Seattle must have closed. Sheesh! This is for snow that wasn’t supposed to hit until about 10 a.m. and still hasn’t hit at 3:00 p.m. There was no new snow on the ground this morning, and the roads have been predominantly dry and ice-free (okay, I was out driving a back arterial in Woodinville yesterday and it was covered with glare ice). I think we all could’ve survived at least a half-day of school, don’t you think? I mean this isn’t Minnesota, and it doesn’t snow that hard and that fast; I’ve lived there and I know what a real snow storm is like.  I’m not including evening programs canceling in this rant, because if there’s an 80% chance of snow predicted at night and it’s cold enough, well then perhaps it would be a good idea to cancel as did my knitters guild, because it doesn’t take a lot of snow on a hilly road to wreak a lot of havoc no matter how good you are at driving in the snow, and one thing Seattle is not and that’s flat.

People, people, people!  Don’t you understand that mass-canceling of daytime programs is fear caused by the local media to convince you that the storm of the century is imminent to get you to stay home, glued to the TV to watch the news, to get the ratings up, to watch for the next update, after the next commercial break selling the latest goo-gah that we all (I say “we” because I fall for consumerism, myself) just have to have to make our lives feel full?  And if you’re not at home glued to the TV, are you at the mall buying 10 Christmas gifts per person in your life (I’ve been there in the past) that will make them all jump for joy on Christmas Day, but that will end up in the second-hand store or the landfill by Fall 2009?  If you don’t believe me, go to the local Salvation Army store, go to the local Value Village, go the landfill to see what we all discard, or go to the animal shelter to see what Christmas puppy or cat that was so precious but got dumped because it was too inconvenient to care for.  It’ll make you sick.

Yes, I do remember the storm of December of 1990.  We all have stories of how, as it snowed outside, no one took it seriously because it never snows much here. By rush hour that night freeways were clogged with cars that went nowhere as vehicles got stuck, and how many public transit commuters had to walk miles home in light work clothes or hitch a ride with cars that snailed by at 10 m.p.h.  How cafes handed-out hot coffee to those walking home in the biting wind  and snow because the bus never came after waiting for over an hour.  How school bus drivers abandoned children whose parents weren’t home to receive them because they were in traffic on the freeway and out of gas.  How some schools became dormitories for school children who couldn’t get home.  Etcetera.  Yes, it can get that bad, but it doesn’t happen very often and it is extremely rare that it snows so fast that we can’t get home if we leave work at a prudent time.

Let’s just see this for what it is: media hype.  Aren’t we smart enough not to get fooled?

Thank you.

From Montepulciano with Love

My one big splurge from the trip to Europe in September has finally made it’s debut.

All lavender and lace and cashmere.

Sometimes buying a nice sweater is okay, even if you could’ve made it yourself.  It doesn’t have to be cashmere.

What a treat to wear.

From Del Santo Cashmere, Montepulciano, Italy.

Not a lot of knitting to report on over the past week, although I started my mother’s Christmas present using the yarn she picked-out in Montecatini Terme, Italy.  A simple garter stitch scarf.

I was under the weather all last week with an upset stomach, and then there was that call we got from the adoption agency that facilitated the adoption of our son from South Korea four years ago. Some interesting news (in a good way) that I can’t share yet; just a whole lot of waiting going on around here right now. I hate waiting. I am not a patient person. I guess that’s why I am in this position of waiting right now.

Aside from the interesting news, I’ve been feeling sentimental lately about our son’s adoption.  It was such a joyful time when we finally met the baby whom we’d seen pictures of.  And it’s been nonstop joy and entertainment ever since.

My favorite picture:  aunties sitting on the bed sharing a chuckle with our 6 month old son and waiting for our departure to the airport.

It was also a rather odd time because some of my husband’s family members who live in Seoul showed-up unannounced at the meeting when the foster family handed him to us, and suddenly there was this crowd when it should have been a more intimate event.  Even stranger was that with so many willing hands present, I was unable to actually hold him until they’d all gone home a couple of hours later, and I remember the pain I experienced from that missed opportunity after the initial exchange. I did get to hold him a bit over a few meetings we had during the two weeks prior to the hand-off. Despite that odd day of exchange, it was probably just as well that that we had so many people there because it provided a distraction from any awkwardness of the exchange of our son from his foster family to us (which was really minimal).

Our son is a delightful addition to our family. He is so adorable, I must say, and everyone tells me so. And so smart, it almost scares me; we can’t get anything past him.