Monday, December 25, 2006

What made today better than I expected

Sleeping in, then making our way to have the best dim sum anywhere in a nearly-deserted shopping district.

Some nice, quiet moments with my really awesome parents.

Adorable friends who loved the gifts I gave them.

Leftover turducken, broccoli-rice casserole, and meatballs (oh yes, meatballs).

Falling asleep with Pirates on the TV.

An open CVS, well-stocked with Haagen-Dazs.

The non-stop company of my goofy, blockheaded, hilarious, loving husband.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Silver bells

Christmas in Houston is always...pretty much what you expect it to be. It could be anything between 25 and 75F, the traffic in front of the Galleria and Baybrook Mall will look worse than you've ever seen it, people drive even more rudely than normal (probably because, in my estimation, they leave their brains at home for the entire of December), and you will not get done everything you meant to, though you have given it the old college try. Frustration in the city - like any city, anywhere - is par for the course.

I'm not an organized person, either, so the holidays will usually not go as smoothly for me as I ever hope. Nevertheless, I do still have a few Favorite Things.

I love driving down Post Oak and seeing the rows of white-lighted trees.

I love walking in a store and smelling cinnamon.

I love turning out baked goods that make people gush.

I love that my husband, as much as he misses sometimes, always gets me Just The Right Things for Christmas. (To wit: an iPod dock with speakers and a box set of Good Eats DVDs.)

I love that people put Santa hats on their dogs.

I love seeing little girls in pretty red dresses, and little boys in dress-up shirts and pants.

And no matter what we've been through, or how often they drive me crazy, or how much trouble it took me to figure out what to get them...I love my family, and my friends, who are the "family I choose."

There have been times this year when it's been hard to be grateful. Times when I just wanted to hibernate, just to hole up with Bryan and the cats and knit and nosh and watch TV for days on end. Some of them have even been within the past few days.

But the thing is: I have a good life. A husband I'm crazy in love with, parents that adore us, more good friends than I ever imagined, a great job, a kitchen full of food and gadgets, and a lovely stash of yarn. It's not perfect, but it's really, really good. It is, in the end, the Best Christmas Gift of All.

Thanks to all of you for reading, to the commenters, to the knitters I see regularly and the bloggers that I don't - for the inspiration and the cookies and the yarn and the friendship. I wish an abundance of blessings on all of you...

...and that every day is full of things you love.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Miss me?

Yeah, me too. Work blah blah, holidays bleh bleh. I have, as usual, somewhat overcommitted myself to projects - though, in my defense, I have actually accomplished quite a bit on some of them. Just...not as much as I'd maybe hoped.

But still, there's a lot of (if not quite enough) knitting happening, a few things going on in the kitchen and the craft room, and still more time than I would normally have to handle at least part of the over-planning. Most importantly, I think I'm more truly inspired than I have been in the past.

I can, alas, share little of this inspiration now. Yes, I know you've heard that several hundred times from several dozen other bloggers, but such is the nature of surprise, yes?

So, while I'm stuck for things that will prove my relative industriousness, I *can* share a few bits and pieces that are giving me a completely non-chemical holiday buzz.

- I feel like cooking again. Yay! Starting with my Best Batch of Pumpkin Bread Ever in October, I have been About the Kitchen Stuff lately. I'm making my award-winning (well, at least among Bryan's Crew) Chili Masala for the department party on Wednesday, and probably starting on the baked goods tomorrow too. (So, Central Houston SnBers: yes, there will be home-baked goodness coming your way in the next two weeks.) I also talked to my mom today about cooking for Christmas Eve, which is when she'll have The Big Dinner for several out-of-town visitors.

- I just spent the weekend with my lovely BFF, her neato husband, and Thomas The Coolest Two-Year-Old Ever again, this time on their turf. Thomas has thoroughly learned my name and used it rather often, which I love. I took pictures, but they weren't so great.

- Bryan and I were shopping in Target last week when I came across the method holiday display. Now, we're regular users of various method products - it's one of the few lines that has fragranced home products that are pleasant, useful, and tolerable by overly-sensitive me. (We have pink grapefruit and lavender items in use in different rooms.)

A quick sniff of the three holiday fragrances, and I'd found a new household love: peppermint vanilla hand wash. People, I can't even tell you how giddy this stuff makes me. It's lightly-scented happy in a pretty bottle, it's cheap, and it's useful. You should get some, or at least try it, and maybe try the frosted cranberry and spiced pear stuff too.

- Finally, something that actually looks like Christmas, right here in a post. From me. (Hey, you never know.) This is from the Central Texas Mini-Tour II, which Bryan and I undertook on Thanksgiving weekend. That Friday, there was unbelievable barbecue in Lockhart, and a stroll through Bastrop's Riverwalk, which was scattered with lovely little displays like this:

Christmas lights are officially my favorite part of the holiday, to be sure. But really, the best part - warning: mush ahead - was strolling along with my honey on a cool, breezy evening, enjoying each other's company. It wasn't a stunning show, no one sprung out any priceless gifts or fancy dinners, and we were thoroughly dressed to chill. But I still think that night will sit in my Best Things Ever mental scrapbook for a long time to come.

...And so to bed. Remind me to tell y'all about my trip to Twisted Yarns this past Friday. :)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The people are demanding. people are noodges! Fine, then. It's a post with photos, now with added best-friend goodness.

This is Catherine, my best friend and former roommate. She's wearing her birthday present: a feather-and-fan scarf (one repeat with a two-stitch garter border) in Lion Brand Suede, Seacrest Print, about 1 2/3 balls. Not measured, but it's approximately 62" x 5 1/2". This turned out very plush and silky, and she loved it. Caety lives in Fort Worth, where she'll actually have a use for the thing.

This photo was taken outside of Yia Yia Mary's Greek Restaurant in SW Houston. Notice that this means Caety was visiting me! We visited the Renaissance Festival yesterday, then had lunch with my folks today. Caety brought along Scott, who my mom got pictures of but I didn't, and...

Thomas, the coolest two-year-old ever in the history of two-year-olds. My mom brought him a little stuffed Blue (of Blue's Clues), who posed with him, and a double-decker Matchbox bus, for which Blue became a stopping wall. In this photo (he was wiggly today, so I did not actually capture the bus), Thomas is making the bus go "zoom" across the table.

Here, he's hanging out in my mom's lap, eating a lemon. Already a culinary adventurer, Thomas had also enjoyed hummus, pita, olives, and a little chicken souvlaki and french fries.

My "nephew" is quite the fun kiddo. He's pretty articulate for his age, adorably funny, loves to give hugs, bouncy but well-behaved, completely entertaining. The scarf was Caety's early birthday present (which was actually was supposed to be for her *last* birthday).

Her other present: I'm going to Fort Worth next weekend to visit and babysit so she and Scott can go out, and so I get some more Fun Kid Time. And to drag her to Super Jo-Ann with me. (By the way, will somebody remind me to write Jo-Ann and ask why the hell they don't have any Superstores in the Houston area?)

More knitting content:

My first (and possibly only) Ballband Dishcloth. I like the way it turned out, but I just didn't enjoy the pattern that much...I've never worked with two colors before, which could be part of the problem - my edges looked a bit messy. Perhaps my problem was that it was boring, but not mindless. I don't mind boring if it's mindless; then I can do something else for the fun.

As for interesting and not mindless:

The "fingertip towel" in Sugar 'n' Cream Countryside Ombre; stitch is a fagoting panel from the Reader's Digest Ultimate Sourcebook. Not sure how useful it will actually be - I mostly did this to get a good idea of the rhythm of knitting a lace pattern. But I'm really kind of proud of it - not a mistake to be found in the lace - and I love the angular "S" thing that the ombre did. My next step in practicing lace: sport weight yarn, more complex pattern, larger item.

And, since I cut off the top of her head in the photo above:

A much better photo of my mom, taken in August 2004 at my wedding shower. She had a great time today - Mom is the biggest fan of little kids, and Thomas takes to good people like a duck to water. He and my mom have always been crazy about each other, and I know the visit just made her week.

It made mine too - I really miss living closer to Caety and her family. Not that my family or great Houston friends are chopped liver, mind you! If I could just move the three of them down here, or move all that's good about Houston to DFW...sigh.

Other news briefs:

- Amy gave me a whole bunch of jewelry supplies after I mentioned some of the projects I had planned for holiday gifts. Yay! Thanks, Amy! My newest pointy sticks: a five-piece set of jewelry pliers (I bought those myself).

- Speaking of holiday gifts, I'm now working on them in earnest. One of my 43 Things (of which I don't yet have 43) is "give an item I handmade to each recipient on my holiday list." There will be beads and wire, knitting, baking, and a few other skills involved.

Hey, quit laughing. I actually have a few done already.

- Caety bought a bodice from Unicorn, and I bought a pair of Dream Shoes, both for ren faire garb wear. We've been swearing for about a decade now that we'd go to faire in garb; now it looks like we're taking the steps. Over the years, it's been "time, but no money" or "money, but no time" to buy or sew what we, I'm still developing my sewing skills. But I do believe, come time for Scarborough next spring, we just might be ready to make good on the threat.

FINALLY (heh!): no complaints allowed on the length of this post - when the people demand photos, they must take the words that go with them! In all seriousness, I'll be working on updating twice a week, with more frequent photos. The joy! The anticipation!

The miles and miles of BS!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Three pointy sticks and old-man laughter

And I am again ashamed to say I have no photos to share yet. It's not that I forget,'s just that...yeah, I got nothin'.

At any rate, there has been more crafty action going on. I finished the lacy fingertip towel (which The Crochet Dude declared would have to be used on "really small fingertips"...thanks, Drew :) ) at SnB last week, as well as what may be my one and only Ballband Dishcloth ever (looks snazzy, but I just didn't enjoy the pattern that much).

So, some missions accomplished, I've started working on a freeform-knitted spiderweb, full of random increases and YOs and interspersed with elongated knit rows. Yes, I'm happy to report that I got the knack of the double wrap and the proper way to drop it. This will come in terribly handy for Christmas knitting.

This week's third pointy stick...well, I suppose that's a bit inaccurate, as I used chopsticks at dinner last night, and there were a lot of pins involved in my newest endeavor. At any rate, I am proud to report that on Monday evening, having never done such a thing before, I properly wound and loaded bobbins, then threaded my sewing machine - and last night, I used it.

Now, I've had my hands on a machine before, and I'm only sewing straight seams so far. (Well...straight in sort of a Dali-istic way.) But I'm pretty proud of this, as I have largely stayed away from seamstressy pursuits up to now. Unlike knitting, I don't get an immediate sense that I'm just going to love doing it - but it's a useful skill to have, if nothing else, and I'm glad I've taken the first step.

Finally, I couldn't resist sharing a Rhinebeck post with you. While there are tons and tons out there, Kilted David has written what has to be my favorite, including a Harlot reference and some lovely descriptions of New York's turning leaves and of eating at the CIA...

...not to mention one passage that made me laugh so hard I couldn't breathe. If you don't already read David's blog, or know him personally (color me jealous!), I highly recommend it - there are frequent photos of Himself knitting and wearing Utilikilts (often at the same time). He's also funny as hell and really great with a camera.

The next few days promise to be hellaciously busy outside of work, but I'll photograph the spiderweb (if not the sewing) and try to show it to you in the next post. I might include the other FOs as well...scary!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

...fortunately, unlike my current projects...

I swear that my long posting absences are not a pattern. Really! My previous post summed up most every weekday for the last four weeks, up to last Friday. As I told my S'n'Buddies (yipe, I'm making *myself* cringe) two weeks ago (which was when Bryan insisted I go to regain a measure of sanity...and yes, it worked), the Really Big-Ass Trade Show took a whole hell of a lot out of me, and out of a lot of other people, too.

Fortunately, the RBATS was this week - is, in fact, closing up shop right now. Monday still had some loose ends, but the last three days at work have been been filled with:

- Bloglines
- Yahoo! Groups
- Television Without Pity
- Cute Overload
- Watching the entire episode of Heroes that I missed on Monday

...and very little work or angst to interrupt it. I was actually given half of Tuesday off on comp time (which, you know, doesn't really exist and all) and inadvertently spent it with my mom, which still worked out OK - partially because I finally picked up a couple of boxes of kitchen toys from my wedding registry.

From my wedding. Which was TWO YEARS AGO on Monday. Procrastinate? Me?

On the other side of that, Bryan picked out Pappas Bros. Steakhouse as a venue for the eating of Wedding-Commemorative Meat. As I so often get verbal smackdowns for making people hungry with my food descriptions...and as I'm not into drooling on my keyboard at the moment...suffice it to say that he had ribeye, I had lamb, and a good time was had by all. Certainly worth missing Heroes, hee.

As for the rest, my brief evenings and coveted weekends have been devoted to doing Anything But Working, Much Less Thinking About Work, and involved much semi-dressed, husband-couch-cats-knitting time, with a little shopping thrown in. I picked up the Reader's Digest Ultimate Sourcebook on stitch patterns...

...and employed it to create an AFO in the last two weeks. I'd say "look, here it is," but...yeah, I generally suck, even when I have too much time on my hands. As a preview, it's my first almost-complete lace pattern project, employing a fagoting panel with a four-row repeat. OK, so I wussed and it just happens to be a hand towel...on Sugar 'n' Cream. But it's really pretty, I promise! I'll finish it tonight and post pictures soonish.

I enjoyed working the pattern quite a bit - not too fiddly and gave me a chance to get accustomed to the rhythm of lace. I'll certainly need more practice, but it's given me a chance to get my sea legs while not overtaxing my already overtaxed brain.

Otherwise in the works? Gifts - one of which is for someone who's now a confirmed reader, whose birthday is exactly 150 days after mine, who put up with sharing space with me for a looooong time, and who's bringing her fantastic TallKid, TallHusband, and TallSelf to my neck of the woods in just over two weeks.

So no, I'm not telling. :D

This weekend, there will be knitting, sewing (!), and - oh yes - the first baking of the autumn season. After much ugly rain and a couple of days of early-summer temps, Houston is also benefiting from one of its five Gorgeous Weather Days a year: 70F, sunny and clear. It's all I can do not to make little happy noises every time I walk out the door.

Since I'm all out of "all I can do" after the last month, I've at least tried to keep my voice down as I sigh contentedly in the breeze.

It's good to be back.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Spinners on a dirty minivan with an Ernie doll hanging from the rearview mirror

If you have been up since 6:30 am, and are in the car going home at 7:40 pm, and have not been home before this, and barely had time to eat lunch, and laughing at the aforementioned
minivan has been the best thing in your day so far...well, it sucks.

If, however, you walk in the door to your adorable husband waiting on the couch with Chinese takeout and an episode of Star Trek: TNG on the TV, in waiting for the season premiere of Veronica Mars...your day just got a whole lot better.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dragonflies in my belly

Actually written at ~1:30 pm

My hands are figuratively (spiritually?) twitching and my insides are doing flip-flops. Why? I have a creative burst just BEGGING to pop out of me like...a really gross analogy I just decided not to make. How spring snakes out of a tennis ball can?

Seriously, I have dragonflies in my belly (like butterflies, but more fiery and much more original, don't you think?). I have started listing. I have been shooting around on crafty blogs looking for ideas. It is all I can do to not grab my purse and my portable Ballband-in-a-bag (don't you love it when you find the perfect shoulder bag?) and haul ass to any of 85 creative stores I can think of right now. I even feel sure that the Sucky Jo-Ann on Weslayan* could yield magnificent possibilities.

So why haven't I? What is holding me back? Why am I writing a blog entry when I could be:

a) finishing the Ballband
b) stopping by my mom's to pick up the supplies I left there Christmas before last
c) meandering through Michaels or hopping through Hobby Lobby to get more supplies I don't really need
d) fast-forwarding to tomorrow, when I get to go to High Fashion Fabrics† on a mission with Holly
e) at least sitting in front of Mom K's sewing machine and pretending to start on my Easy Cotton Tiered Skirt**
f) starting my first Curve of Pursuit†

Because, my dears, I couldn't be. Because I Am At Work.

The beauty part of my job is that I write and edit for a if I handle my Windoze just right, I can look for all the world as if I am Working Hard instead of Hardly Working.*** This is one of those cases. I dared the Fates and surfed for a bit, but at the moment, I am creating this very entry in Word.

I think it's a serious case of autumn fever...those couple of days of cool breezes (even if they were only in the evenings) have me itching for more. And it's making me nuttier, as evidenced. There are pumpkins to carve, scoop out, mash, and bake into goodies. Skirts to sew. Objects to knit. Paper to cut and fold. And it's at least another three and a half hours before I can get anywhere close. I could pull something out of my hat on the lunch hour I still have coming – but then I wouldn't want to come back, and I already don't want to be here.

Suddenly, I find myself also feeling sympathy for those of you who are reading this right now. Creative schizophrenia and being antsy for autumn do not good writing make. Would it help you all to know that this is making me feel better?

No? Okay then.

One actual creative update. I took the time last night to plot out the squares for Curve of Pursuit in Illustrator, so once I get the whole thing properly set up, I can easily switch in and out to create color arrangements. Sure, I understand that the concept of Log Cabining is to wing it...but I just couldn't bear it if Curve of Pursuit looked too...well...wung. So this solution is effing genius, if you ask me. Short rows, here I come.

The Ballband will be finished this weekend – this I decree. Beyond that, there will probably be baking and possibly sewing and origami. There will definitely be shopping.

And now, there will be lunch...though I can't promise that I won't do a few rows of Ballband, too. I'll take what I can get at this point.

Update, 8:30 pm: Haven't touched the Ballband yet. Have, however, just polished off a lovely bar of hazelnut chocolate. I am all about the diligence.

* I must ask that you all forgive the Rampant Use of Unnecessary Capitals.**** It's just the Mood I'm In.*****
† These two are not my fault; the titles really look like that.
** But you were warned.
*** Thoroughly warned.
**** I can't stop myself.
***** Somebody help me.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Curvy pursuits

I've been neck-deep in goings-on - haven't even made it to Stitch 'n' Bitch in a couple of weeks - but things on the creative front are going pretty well. I'm making very nice progress on my first Ballband Dishcloth from Mason-Dixon, though not on much else project-wise.

On the other hand, this...

...arrived in the mail today. This is the pattern for the lovely purple swirly afghan thing - aka Curve of Pursuit, by Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer at Woolly Thoughts - in M-DK, which a great many folk have been going ape over. It was, in fact, that photo of Ann Buechner's interpretation of the LPSAT that convinced me to buy the booklet.

For obvious reasons, it's become very popular...and I'm way jazzed about getting my very own. The pattern looks quite easy - Log Cabining with short rows and more reserve stitches. Chances are that I'll do mine in purple too - but especially since I've read more about the premise now, I'm going to do it with a different color arrangement, and probably with more than two.

And finally, I broke down and bought my first Euroflax at Twisted Yarns on Saturday. For reasons I cannot explain, three hanks of the Emerald colorway jumped into my hands. I swear: I was reaching for the red...I tried to pick up the brown...but I was inexorably drawn to the green. I *like* green, but there is very little of it in my home; I don't know anybody else who's a big fan, either, so I'm at a loss as to why I had to bring it home with me. My dear girly friend Holly thinks it's probably because the red was going to bleed. I wonder if it's because my life needs more color variety.

In any case, I've just tied it into a pillowcase and washed it, in hopes that my hands will not go raw working with it. I hear the washing works well; guess I'll see when it comes out of the dryer. I think it wants to be a shawl. Unless I can think of someone who has a bathroom color scheme that hand-knitted emerald green linen hand towels would fit into. And for whom I would not flinch to give $60 worth of yarn and several days of effort.

If I think of anybody...I probably won't let you know. :) And in the meantime, I'm about to finish the Ballband, start planning some sewing, and get the party started on the Neutral Log Cabin.

Nefarious plans enter my head even as I speak. *evil eyebrow*

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The sharpest tack...the tallest tree

"A tall tree fell in Texas today." - State Comptroller John Sharp

I have been an ardent admirer of Ann Richards since high school, when she ran her first campaign for governor. She was, quite simply, someone who made me prouder to be a Texan - and a woman. And I am still thrilled to say that I once had the distinct privilege of meeting the lady herself.

I had just transferred to TCU at the beginning of my junior year. The governor was scheduled to speak at Convocation (lots of professors walking down in robes, much boring talk, one keynote speaker), and I just happened to have a class break in the time period. No. way. I was missing it.

The lady spoke, and was as fantastic as you might expect. Just unbelievably brilliant and a tongue like an adamantine sword. When it was all over, the auditorium cleared out rather quickly...except for about 10 of us who sort of hung back to see what her "people" were going to do with her. Within a minute or two, we'd all clumped up at the edge of the stage, a diverse little clump of eager faces peering up towards her.

Her handlers started to walk her toward the back, but a few brave souls shouted out "Governor!" She stopped, turned and saw us waving. One guy took her elbow and tried to push her on.

Let me tell you: if looks could kill, that guy would have been nail-gunned to the back of the auditorium. She gracefully retrieved her elbow, strode purposefully toward the edge of the stage, and extended her hand to the first person on her left.

Who managed to say, in utter awe and amazement under her steely, amused gaze: "Hello, Governor, I'm Susan Hopper."

Our Lady moved all the way down the line, shaking every hand and posing for several photos. She was regal and gorgeous and such a very, very strong presence. And we were all as giddy as if we'd met a rock star.

I cried this morning when I saw old video of her - but I do sense it was her time to go, for some reason - a lady always knows when to take her leave. I will sorely, sorely miss her - and we will never see her equal. There is just so much that I want to say, so much I will miss about her being on the planet. And I just don't feel that anything I *could* say would be sufficient.

So I'll close with this:

All hail Our Lady of the Lone Star State. May I ever display a fraction of her steel, charm, wit, and wisdom.

Rest in peace, Governor.

P.S. This is a good place to start if you don't know much about her career. I also recommend checking out Google News for great stories from the NYT, Time, and numerous other venerable pubs.

Monday, August 28, 2006

She ain't kinky...she's a knitter

Having thoroughly exhausted myself of Complete Blog Suckitude, I bring you:


(aka Shawl for Grandma)


(I know, I'm reaching here)

...and P&RN.

(Clockwise from top left: Classic Elite BamBoo, Classic Elite Fame, and Mission Falls 1824 Cotton)

This is a close-up of the Fame. Insert standard Color Quality/Yarn Not Being Done Justice verbage here.

I'm not displaying the gifty-type yarns, and a complete Flash Your Stash will have to wait too. As for the shawl, Grandma is not wired and I had to prove that I actually do knit, you know, on occasion.

As so adorably posted by Amy, Little Miss Sunshine was quite fun. I got little knitting done, but if that's the mark of a great movie, it qualifies. But I think the post-film laughing session was the best part. I'm trying to decide if suckitude is canceled out merely by posting photos. I believe the answer is "only if the *photos* don't suck"...which means I've really not remedied anything. But I think it will do for now.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

We have a winner!

So it's been a hellacious couple of weeks at work, meaning I have been in neither shape nor mood to take time to post thoughtfully. The hellaciousness is going to continue - and, in fact, ramp up - through the end of October, so fair warning: if I sound a bit cranky for the next six weeks or so, you'll know why.

On the other hand - there's been a lot of books and yarn and knitting lately, so I think it balances out. I'm reading some fiction, but mostly I can't stop looking at the Mason-Dixon Knitting book...really beautiful, really funny, really inspiring. I tried to start a Warshcloth and was going gangbusters for a bit - then I put it down for too long and, I kid you not, lost my place. I'll be trying again soon, because CUTE!

In the meantime, I've been working on a belated birthday gift for my step-grandma. She's not the least bit online, so I can tell you: it's a triangle shawl in Homespun. Yes, I know my continued affinity for certain craft-store yarns may vex some of you...but I will never give up my Homespun! This is a loose, open triangle shawl in Tudor - one of many cases in which the yarn really does all the work: a cream base with rich, muted blue, green, pink, and purple. Alas, I am again too lazy to shoot photos now; I'll post one when it's finished, for sure.

I'm not impressing myself tonight, and I forgive you if you're ready to head over and read any of the Harlot's posts, like, ever. It's so like me to save the interesting part for last.

Which is: Amy and Mo picked me up Saturday morning for a trek out to Yarntopia! I was quite jazzed. It's a lovely store with lovely owners and an impressive, if not massive, stock of Really Great Yarn. We were there for quite some time - mostly because I'm ridiculously indecisive, even though they were having a sale on everything my allergic self can use - i.e., if any part of it was once animal hair/fur, it *wasn't* on sale.

On my fourth circuit around the shelves, hemming and hawing about whether to pick up more, I got this:

Amy: "Your husband spends money on video games and comic books."

Mo: "You're making gifts from some of that? Just think of it as money you'd be spending on shopping anyway."

Hard to argue with beautiful knitter logic like that. So in the end...after checking out not once, but twice (because we sat there for too long and I just couldn't resist), I ended up with:

- 8 balls of Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in burgundy, muted teal and cream, destined to become a chevron stripe blanket, recipient as yet unknown
- 4 balls of GGH Scarlett, gift planned for a (possible) reader
- 5 hanks of Berroco Touche, ditto
- 2 hanks of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in cream, probably to be small gifts for non-readers
- 5 balls (4 Pink Print ombre, one Melon [hot pink] solid) Classic Elite BamBoo for an edged scarf, purpose undetermined (since I don't wear them)
- 5 hanks Classic Elite Fame in Dried Lavender, oh my God it's gorgeous, for a shawl for yours truly

Mo and Amy had to repeat their anti-guilt comments no fewer than four times before we left the store. But you know...I got it all home and took it out and put it into my yarn closet (no, seriously)...and I just...don't feel so bad about it anymore.

(Confidential to Amy: Damn your enabling ways!)

This also caused me to evaluate my entire stash when I got home - an exercise about which, again, I am too weary to write tonight. Though I will confess that "Homespun" does appear on the list far too many times. On the other hand: LOG CABINS.

Finally, to the title. Yarntopia's sale was due to celebration of the first anniversary of...signing their lease? getting the loan? to start up, and two door prizes were also on offer. One had Fuzzy Yarn I Could Not Have Used, with a tote signed by Nicky Epstein, who I Have Not Read. The other - for submitting an idea for a holiday gift/class - was a pattern for One Skein Wonder, two balls of Nashua Cilantro, and a Della Q tote.

Apparently, my phone rang at 4:13 yesterday, or perhaps it did that thing it often does where it goes straight to voice mail for no apparent reason. In any case, the message - which I did not pick up until 11:15 am today - was from Cheryl at Yarntopia. Telling me that I'd won the holiday idea door prize!

Much squeeing ensued. Especially when I figured out that a) Nashua Cilantro is a cotton/synthetic blend, and b) OH MY GOD a Della Q bag! (As to One Skein Wonder, it probably wouldn't fit around my neck, much less my if anyone wants it, we can work out a deal. :) )

Not sure that it matters - I don't know if it was a random drawing or if they picked for the idea - but mine was "spiral sachet/drawstring bag." I was just thinking that some deceptively intricate-looking spiral pattern would make fantastic little presents, either sewn together or run 'round the edge with a ribbon. We'll see how it goes.

So ends this further exercise in Really Bad Blogging. I'm not really looking forward to work this week, but that's what evenings and weekends - not to mention knitting podcasts - are for.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bad blogger! BAD!

Five dozen billion little things taken care of today, and I actually *forgot* that one of them was supposed to be "finish the Harlot post." I shall not let this deteriorate into Bad Blogging Habits! So instead, I present you with what news I can.

This was, first and foremost, an All-Hubby, All The Time weekend, and a very nice (albeit ugly hot) one to boot. Saturday lunch, we took what was - surprisingly - our first trip to Kahn's. Proprietor Michael Kahn is the son of Houston legend Alfred Kahn...owner of Alfred's Deli, a source of numerous childhood memories, most of them trips with my grandmother that ended with Alfred himself handing me Brown-Eyed Susan cookies over the bakery counter.

The pictures are a walk down memory lane - and one of Michael and Alfred together in the mid-80s brought tears to my eyes. I teared up again when I bit into the hot pastrami I'd ordered - just like the old days, it was unbelievably tasty, and TechieBK was overjoyed with the monster Reuben, declaring it the best he'd ever had in Houston. We grinned our way through a Coke float for dessert. And all the while, I kept thinking of my grandmother, imagining her nodding and smiling at us from a quiet corner. Maybe she was.

Don't know if I've ever mentioned how sentimental I am.

In a neat small-world twist, several months ago I discovered that my friend Gretchen from Michael's daughter and Alfred's granddaughter. That brought tears to my eyes too. Gretchen's family seems really close-knit and awesome, and I think that makes all the memories even sweeter.

Oh, all right, already, I'll talk about some knitting. I decided to pick up some Paton's Grace for lace practice. It's working FAR better than the handpainted rayon I tried on Thursday, miles better than Sugar 'n' Cream (and the crowd yelled: DUH). Grace is a nice sport/DK mercerized cotton; very smooth and seems as though it will have a nice drape. Mine is a gorgeous muted periwinkle shade.

I am apparently too tired to take a decent picture, but I assure you that my swatch - incomplete though it may be - is coming along rather nicely, with only a few false starts. I've spent enough time with it that I haven't once had to frog back more than two rows, nor felt the need to start over. Can I get a what-what? :) (For those curious, it's the lace pattern from the Kimono Shawl in Folk Shawls.) I bought enough of the Grace for a small shawl, which I will probably make myself finish before touching the Debbie Bliss Pure Silk I bought at HCW while Under The Influence.

The rest of the Hubby Weekend included Thai food, a visit to PetSmart, several loads of laundry, Wing Stop wings, a Lewis Black DVD, Cheesecake Factory, and a watching of The Dead Zone. I remain in denial that I must go to work in the morning.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Should anyone else be wondering...

Pattern for the Texas dishcloth:

Knitting Knonsense Texas Cloth

with mad props to Rhonda for the 50 state patterns. For details on the tweak I'm making to mine, e-mail me at:

plumtexan at earthlink dot net

(Thanks for asking about this, was a good reminder!)

Sorry for the delay on the detailed account. I've been terribly work-busy for the last two days, and just couldn't skip Stitch 'n' Bitch tonight!

I'm glad I didn't. We picked up another couple of cool new-to-us knitters, and there was much ogling (of patterns!) and fondling (of yarn, people. Jeez.), as lots of folk are rocking a new batch of projects.

Me? I struggled through half a repeat of a lace pattern swatch. Most of the struggle was that this was my first time to do true Continental. My normal style is Combined, and while I worked out the correct way to alter the decreases, none of the lace I tried before looked quite right. More importantly, it didn't feel right in my hands as I knit it.

Anyway, the Continental is slightly slow-going for now. I know I'll get it working faster - it's just the in-between that's driving me crazy! But: Must. Do. Lace.

Helloooo to all the new readers who saw me on the Harlot's blog! I'm so jazzed and it's a lot of fun to hear from all of you. I'll be checking y'all out too. first "y'all" on the blog! Now that's sentimental.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Holy crap I'm on the Harlot's blog!!!

(Red shirt. Texas dishcloth.)


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Well...maybe just a teaser first.

Harlot and hops

The coolest knitting writer in the world, accompanied by a complement of Houston-microbrewed beer. What could be better?

(If you look closely, not only will you see a knitted dishcloth - more on that later - and two large bottles of Shiner'll notice that another Houstonian thought ahead and brought Stephanie a bottle of Saint Arnold's Lawnmower. The six-pack she's holding is SA Texas Wheat, donated by yours truly.)

Laundry calls. A play-by-play will appear sometime tomorrow!

Monday, July 31, 2006

Why Plum Texan?: The real first post.

Allow me to get right to the point: I began this blog because I met the Yarn Harlot on Saturday.

It's not that I hadn't thought of it before, or that I don't have anything to say...I have plenty to say, as anyone who's ever met me (and several people who haven't) would know. But my interests tend to shift frequently, and I worried that a blog would become another half-finished project.

Enter Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, aka the Yarn Harlot. Most anyone who uses pointy sticks for knitting, and who has been anywhere near a computer in the last two years or so, knows the Harlot. She's taken the knitting world by storm, started some amazing worldwide collaborative efforts, and written three books and a blog, all of which crack me up regularly. When I met her at her Austin appearance last Saturday, Stephanie was as funny and engaging and real as one might imagine. She recognized my name from comments on the blog. And when she wrote me down in her book, and I had no blog of my own to which she could refer, she deemed me "sadly blogless."

That's right: after months of peer pressure, blog envy, wanting a "public life" place to share my thoughts, and dithering...I started a blog because I didn't want to disappoint the Harlot. Hey, it's good enough for me.

So here's where it all begins. Features I'm planning include:

- Knitting news: WIPs, FOs, stash enhancement, events
- New endeavors: dance classes (with the husband!), sewing, organization (no, really)
- Running tallies: books, projects on the needles, space taken up by my yarn stash...
- Reviews: yarn, accessories, books (fiction, knitting, cookbooks, etc.), Web sites
- Fangirlie-ness: Alton Brown, Scottish Mayhem, the Harlot

Additionally, expect much randomness and special features to be named later. Check out my links and my profile; tell me what you'd like to hear about. (If I don't have full knowledge, I may at least have random useless factoids.)

My highest intent is to get more practiced at regular writing, maybe to work myself up into actually getting published. At the very least, I should be less lazy about it than I have been.

I also admit I'm curious to see if I can gain any notoriety...the good kind, anyway. It's what most every writer really wants in the end: readers.

And finally...accountability. Maybe knowing that there are folks other than my husband, my mother, and my 5 closest friends cheering me on will make me a more active knitter, reader, cook, writer...and maybe the desire to not look dumb will inspire me to do things as well as I can.

So there's your introduction. Stick around - this could get interesting!

Up next: a detailed account of the Austin Harlot-Stalk. With pictures and everything. And Stephanie, if you're reading this: thanks - for the appearance, for being so kick-a**, for remembering my posts and liking my gifts - and for inspiring me to do this.

Sunday, July 30, 2006