Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Zip, Zilch, Nada

Well, there's not much to tell around here. No knitting has happened in this house today, though I had a strong urge to finish the bag I'm going to felt (I may experiment with that Shibori funness that I saw in the Fall IK that came in yesterday. Never did get the Summer one, though!). I don't even have any fun pictures to show you, unless you're interested in seeing my newly-organized/categorized bookshelf (no cute labels, though - my husband strongly objects to labels here). It's a beautiful thing to see a room begin to transform from a pig sty into a liveable space. Actually, you have to put on blinders to not see the mess the rest of the room becomes while you're sorting and making piles of things to give away and throw away. Just focus on the bookshelves, and everything is rosey.

The cloud of dust I've rustled up with all the organizing has screwed up my allergies (that have recently been under control), which caused me to take a couple of Benadryl (not remembering that the two they recommend on the box is way more than the one needed to do the job), which caused me to spend the day in an uncomfortable jittery/hazy state (Do you want to see how long we can make this sentence draw out? Nah, we'll stop here.).

So, instead of making this no-content post painfully long, we'll stop here and possibly do a bit of a knitting to chat about tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Say No More...

I know I can always count on my husband for brutal honesty (even when I don't want it). So, I got the answer to my question about whether the circular needle case I spent my entire day working on was worth sending to someone else. The words, "You never did that sort of thing in a craft class as a child?" pretty much made me understand that I've just made myself a kindergartenesque folder to keep my needles in. Oh well, what can you do? Whip out the credit card, I guess, huh? Comes out of his paycheck! Ha!

No, I may still try making another one, but without the book binding to make it work. That was glued together, which theoretically means no sewing (except I added a little pocket that was sewn on. Apparently, though, as my husband so kindly pointed out, I'm about as handy as a three-year-old with a tube of glue. I seemed to do better with my sewing machine. So, perhaps I'll try making a circular needle case that hangs instead of using the folder idea, which I did find fun.

Hmm, all of this makes me wonder if maybe Anmiryam's comment that people might lose their creativity when they get organized is true. The creativity is slipping through my fingers as I type...

Handmade Circular Knitting Needle Case (Inside)

So, here's the inside section of the latest creation (see previous post).

I know you're wondering if I chopped up a bra for that elastic, but I had some lingerie elastic on hand (and I think it looks cute there).

Oh, and I have to mention where I got the book binding for this project, because it leads us back to the organizing effort. So, yesterday, I found several things that have made me really happy I'm organizing the house. The first was the book binding, which was the exterior of an agenda my husband got free from the last job he had. In keeping with my efforts to become a creative tightwad (along with the organizing) so I won't have to skimp on yarn), I ripped out the pages and kept the outside, thinking I'd surely find a use for it someday. Little did I know, it would get used the very next day.

So, the other things I found were actually scary in some cases...

1) The book shelf was hanging together by a thread and could have fallen on the kids at some point soon.

2) The outlet thingie (its technical name, I'm sure) that allows several things to be plugged in at once was frying and could have burned the house down.

less scary...

3) Found three books my husband and I had been wondering about lately (most notably is a book on Chinese embroidery that I was hoping to get some knitting inspiration from).

4) Found a statement from a still-existent but long-forgotten credit union account that'll make me $28.

So, so far, from a few days of organizing, I've saved lives, saved money and even made some extra cash. How's that for motivation to keep going?

Oh, and for those of you still with me, I need opinions on my needle case. Is it okay enough to give to someone else? I'd happily use it for myself (though I don't really have tons of circulars to tame) if it doesn't seem up to snuff. What do you think? Would you be happy to receive it? I could always make another with better fabric if the consensus is that it's too goofy. So, please tell me what you think?

A Sewing FO

So, I was trying to resist signing up for Secret Pals 5. It didn't work at all. I had been telling myself I just didn't have the money for an exchange for now. But, then, I thought about the fact that I had gotten some handmade goodies that really made me happy during the last exchange, so I've tried to make a little something for my current pal. What you see in the picture, here, is a book-style circular knitting needle case (because my pal uses mostly circular needles).

Now, what's really cool about this (or maybe you won't think so) is that I didn't have to spend a dime (but there was a time investment, and that counts) - at least not today - to make this. The jean fabric comes from a long skirt with a slit up the back. It tore, as that style often does, so I cut off the bottom. The inside, which you'll see later is some brand newish fabric I had lying around, plus some other brand newish stuff I'd yet to use. I've got tons of sewing goodies in my stash, so the materials were all here. I just hope my pal likes country style. I would have preferred a hipper sort of fabric, but this is kind of fun, I think. I just need to get a bit of sticky-backed velcro for the front pocket (for stitch holders), and I can mail it off.

In case you're wondering where I got this great idea, look here. There's a really great tutorial on that page.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Lemme Hear Ya Say Hooooo!

Read the Label!
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Ho! Ho!

That's right. Our friendly local hookers were out working on their tans today. Cracks me up how dedicated they seem to be - because it's hot outside today. Kind of gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "roadside service", don't it? It's funny, actually, there's a little turn-off half-circle where they sit. It's almost like a drive-thru: "Welcome to Whores 'R Us. May I take your order... Would you like some fries with that?" Yeah, we have to stop this. This is going downhill fast. So, on to other things...

And, a little update on the organizing effort. I've got the cutest pantry/food shelves ever. I spent what may be considered a silly amount of time on the labels, but since I've also vowed to become a tightwad to save us some money (and lots of headaches), I wasn't about to go out and purchase a label-maker. These are so much cuter, anyway. This way, I can show off my personality a bit while organizing.

And, as a response to Anmiryam's comment that people say this organizing thing can stifle creativity: I'm not falling for it. After all, I've mixed the organizing and the creativity by making my labels. I'll post a picture of them when I take a moment to grab up my now-charged camera batteries nextdoor. I guess since Blogger's being rude and refusing to post this, I'll do it through Flickr and post the picture now.

This label is my favorite (yes, there really is a bin labeled "Eat Me!"). After all, you have to have a sense of humor in life, right? It served its purpose well, too, because my husband knew right away that this bin is where he'll find the foods I'd like to get rid of in the very near future.

The address book looks pretty much like this label, except it doesn't say "Eat Me!", though that could have been fun, I guess. It says "Addresses", oddly enough. I did it first, liked the design and made the labels in its image.

And, back to Anmiryam's comment - I'm convinced I'll be able to be even more creative once I can concentrate on my knitting/sewing without feeling guilty about ignoring housework. It just might take a while to get back to it. And, besides, I could break an all-important knitting finger tripping over the mess I'm trying to conquer here, and where would that leave my creativity?

Darn Camera Batteries!

I was all set to show you a picture of the adorable little address book I made for myself today (because I had all phone numbers floating around on scraps of paper). This was all done in an effort to organize while attempting to spend the least amount of money possible. So, I amassed all the appropriate materials (that I already had on hand), spent a ridiculous amount of time fiddling with the evil software some like to call MS Word (What does MS stand for again - masochistic sh_t?). After having it spontaneously crash on me countless times, I finally printed out the cutest little sheets to chop up for my address book. Then, I bound it all (sort of). It's so sweet, I'm telling you. Too bad you can't see it. Maybe some other day. I actually liked the design so much that I modeled my kitchen pantry bin labels after it (labelling is an essential part of the organizational system, I'm learning - yeah, system - who'd have thought there was an actual system to build?).

So, I'm gradually tackling this task, which explains why there's not much knitting going on. I'll have to give myself some knitting time soon as a reward, though, because I do miss it, even if I'm finding this organization thing kind of fun.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Get It Straight, Pal

Yesterday I received a life-changing (well, I hope, anyway) package in the mail. A while back, I read on Chelee's blog about some great books for getting organized and living cheaper and better. Anyone who knows me and has seen my house knows I am in dire need of doing this. I just never know where to start. The whole idea of it overwhelms me. Budgeting? Don't know how. Organizing? Yeah, right. So, I researched some of her book choices and selected those that seemed to apply to my life. As luck would have it, I wasn't able to get them through Amazon's French site. But, I'm at the point of wanting to burn down the house and just start over, so I asked my mom to send them to me. She's the best mom ever, so she did it (along with sending tons of jewelry-making goodies and some fun stuff for the rest of the family's birthdays).

So, aside from the shopping (we'll get to that in a later post) and the visiting with my hubbie's family yesterday, I dove into the organizing book. And, oh boy, am I revved up and ready to conquer the mess! This is the book, by the way, in case you're interested. It also comes in audio version for those who just don't have the time to sit with a book. It looks at the whole organization process from a completely different perspective that should really work. Yay! I've already made out a plan of attack for the always cluttered/messy livingroom. So, no time to blog much today. I'll try to get some pictures of the things I've knitting and the goodies I bought yesterday for a later post.

For now, though, we're organizing this pig sty! After all, the entire goal is to give me more time for fun stuff (read: knitting and blogging) and maybe a little exercise without feeling guilty because the house is a mess. Wish me luck - though, with this book, it doesn't even look like that's necessary.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Parlez-Vous Français

We interrupt your scheduled (English) programming to bring you a word (in French) from our sponsors. Okay, actually I was tagged by Mireille to do a meme. I met her, as well as Françoise over at Louise's house. I never got around to blogging about this little knitogether, so I'll take a moment for that. That was last Wednesday, and all I can say is that I was way out of my league. These three ladies are true knitters. The talent sitting in that room was awe-inspiring. No kidding. They were working on some amazing fair-isle stuff, then some lace and cables. Beautiful. Do yourself a favor and pop on over to see their blogs. Don't understand the French? Not a problem. Just subscribe to their feeds via Bloglines and click the translate option at the bottom of the page when viewing that feed. It's a quirky translation, but it gives you the main idea and it can be a bit humorous.

Now, to show you that I can mutilate the spelling of yet another language (I can actually do that in three, but you didn't know I did Spanish, too).

Now, I may get around to translating all this into English, thus allowing myself to actually pass the meme on to others, but I may not. If you're really aching to find out what all this French stuff means, bug me about it. You're more likely to get a translation that way. Otherwise, take this time to practice your French - so what if you only took Spanish in high school. Not my problem. A hint to get you started: It's about food (this is a French meme, after all).

Quel est votre premier souvenir de cuisine tout(e) seul(e) comme un(e) grand(e) ?

Ma mère m'a laissé faire un gâteau avec les ingrédients que j'ai choisi à l'age de 9 ans (bon, c'est elle qui l'a mis au four, mais si non...). C'était immangeable, mais mon frère a mangé une deuxième part pour me rendre contente.

Qui a le plus influencé votre façon de cuisiner ?

Peut-être ma mère, qui n'aime pas trop cuisiner. Elle m'a laissé faire dans la cuisine dès très tôt.

Avez-vous une vieille photo comme "preuve" d'une exposition précoce au monde culinaire, et voudriez-vous la partager ?

Non, je ne pense pas en avoir.

Avez-vous des phobies culinaires, ou un plat qui vous donne des sueurs froides rien que d'y penser ?

Non. J'aime cuisiner, donc je suis prête a tout essayer.

Parmi les ustensiles de cuisine que vous possédez, lequel utilisez-vous le plus et lequel est le plus souvent délaissé ?
Plus : La Cocotte Minute - est-ce-que ça compte comme un ustensile ? Si non, un bon couteau de cuisine.
Le Plus Délaissé : J'ai un couteau pour faire les ravioles. Je l'ai utilisé peut-être trois fois.

Citez des combinaisons d'aliments amusantes ou bizarres que vous aimez vraiment - vous, et probablement personne d'autre !

Une recette familiale (que seulement nous pouvons apprécier): Ma grande-tante me faisait des tartines au beurre de cacahuete, du beurre et du sirop d'erable. Très régime, je sais.

Quels sont les trois aliments ou plats sans lesquels vous ne pouvez pas vivre ?

Question très difficile ! Peut-être les pizzas, parceque j'aime bien cuisiner, mais j'aime bien avoir une soirée sans rien faire de temps en temps aussi. Puis, la paëlla et la tajine d'agneau aux abricots secs.

Y a-t-il une question à laquelle vous auriez aime répondre et qui ne se trouve pas dans ce questionnaire ? Si oui, ajoutez-la !


Trois questions rapides

Votre parfum de crème glacée / sorbet préféré :


Vous ne mangerez probablement jamais... :
Du singe. Bizarre, je sais, mais j'ai connu un couple d'antropologues donc la fille était végétarienne avant de partir en amérique du sud. Elle savait que c'est pas toujours facile de trouver des legumes dans les coins perdus où elle allait être, donc elle a commencé à manger de la viande avant de partir. Elle a finis par manger du singe et du tapir (une autre chose que je ne mangerais probablement jamais, d'ailleurs) pendant qu'elle était là.

Votre plat fétiche, celui que vous ne ratez jamais : paëlla

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Secret Pal Delights

How exciting. I got mail today - and not the Meg Ryan movie kind. Real snail mail. And, guess what was in there?

Looking at the picture here, my current Secret Pal is having one of those "Whaaa?" moments. That's because she only sent one of the two skeins you see here - the white one. Isn't it lovely? Miles and miles of 100% alpaca. So soft. And, such a beautiful bright white, too. She also sent me a variety of Kool-Aid colors to play with. Thank you so much, Secret Pal.

And, the other skein that snuck in there is something that my previous Pal, Cara , sent along with some Peace Fleece knitting needles that are so fancy I may be afraid to use them (nah, not really, but they're cute) and some notecards featuring her own beautiful photography. I didn't take pictures of them, because I'd never do them justice. Take a look at her blog, though, and you'll see what she's capable of with that camera of hers. Notice, too, that she sells these notecards. Having seen them in person, I have to tell you they would be worth every penny she's asking for them. They're so stunning, I wouldn't even consider sending them to someone. I'll be framing them to decorate the new house. I'm that selfish.

Oh, and for those of you concerned about the state of my little one's... well - little one. Not to worry. He really was quite gentle about the whole smashing-it-between-two-rocks thing. No children were injured in this stunt. In fact, it was more like he sandwiched it. Incidentally, I've seen him wrap it around things, too (it is apparently at this stage of their development that males get zoom-vision and decide it's a whole foot long).

What's Cookin' Babe?

Yarn Dyeing
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Why, it's a yarn soup. Mmmmm. So tasty!

Aside from the Spanokoppita (spelling??) and the Baklawa I made this morning, I also whipped up a batch of Kool-Aid yarn. Deeeeelish! And, the Greek yummies ain't half bad, either.

It's pictured here just after the boiling session. I've since rinsed and hung it to dry. It should be dry soon, and I'll take a little picture of it for you. You'll get a sort of before-and-after shot, because I've still got some of the undyed yarn.

This yarn is fun. It's something that Louise was itching to get rid of. Free yarn, you say? I'm there. I'm always happy to help a friend empty her yarn stash of unwanted goodies. Thanks Louise. I had great fun watching it change colors before my eyes this morning.

When I post the picture of the finished product, I'll tell you more about the yarn, because it's kinda speshle.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Sand and Surf

Being the exhausted single-parent-for-a-week that I've been lately, I decided to take the kids to the beach this evening and let the sun, wind and waves wear them out. This tends to work like I charm, though there's one serious drawback - it wears me out, too. As a result, I didn't get much knitting in this evening (that's been the case all week long). So, nothing interesting to show today. I did, however, learn some valuable life lessons while at the beach today. And, why not share them among friends?

1) A bit of hair removal would be in order before the next trip to the beach.
2) Not a good idea to do it the same day as the next trip to the beach.
3) I'm not the thinnest lady on the beach (some exercise might be a good idea in the near future - like, say, actually taking the Pilates DVD out of its jacket and inserting it into the machine for once).
4) I'm not the fattest lady on the beach.
5) Some of those fatter ones are willing to show more skin.
6) Whoever invented Speedos had a wicked sense of humor.
7) The French seem not to have noticed this.
8) My daughter has the most adorable way of setting her jaw when she concentrates.
9) Some people amuse themselves at the beach by tattooing rocks with kids' tattoos (I meant to bring home the evidence for pictures, but I think I forgot).
10) Dogs are not man's best friend. From a very young age, boys learn that their penis is their closest friend and will remain so for the rest of their lives. My 19-month-old son, naked on the beach, is evidence of this.
11) It is apparently very cool to lay the aforementioned penis over a rock and smash it (allbeit, gently) with another rock.

I didn't take pictures of the penis smashing, which is probably for the best, because spreading that kind of stuff all over the internet can get you put in jail.

Now, I probably won't take any of these life lessons with me to the grave, but I'm betting some will be remembered for quite a while.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Reinette Frog

Reinette Frog
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
At the risk of having to rename my blog Animal Planet or something along those lines, I've got another picture of the frog we had visiting us a while back. He's on the window again, waiting for dinner to be served.

This, time, though, since I can actually work the camera properly, I got him in focus and close up. He sat there nice and pretty for me, too. Just born to be a model, don't you think?

For those of you who prefer to have a bit of knitting content, please be patient. I've been making great strides toward conquering the mess around here, and I've only gotten a few rows of the pink socks done each night. Being a single parent for the week is really rough on the knitting obsession. That'll be my "me time" tonight, though.

Who Needs Cats?

I saw one of the kitties this evening. It didn't come near me, but I was happy to see it still alive. I hope the othe two are doing well, too. I'm trying not to be bitter about the fact that they didn't want me to keep them.

And, besides, we don't need no stinkin' cats - not when we have all sorts of fun insects beating the doors and windows down just to hang at our place. Look at this guy, for example. It's a grasshopper, by the way, though I couldn't enlighten you as to the species. He's pretty thin, but very long (about 3 inches with that funky tail at the end - which I think he uses for mating purposes, by the way (ladies... well, no comments about the size of that thing)).

The moths, flies and mosquitos that sneak in the unscreened windows around here really get on my nerves, but this picture proves that there are advantages as well. And, luckily for me, I've figured out how to work the macro setting on the camera, so you get to see him in all his glory. The insects' instinct to sit there and try to look inconspicuous when in danger is a great plus when trying to get a good focus, too.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

My Newest Pet Attempt

Striped Grasshopper
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
So, the dog only stayed for a weekend, and the kitties escaped after only a couple of days. Obviously, I'm not cut out for caring for mammals (just ask my poor kids). So, we're stepping down in the animal kingdom a bit to insects. What do you think? I can avoid removing the spider webs and their inhabitants from our corners and just call them a collection.

Okay, maybe not, but I did take a moment to snap a couple of shots of this little fella (actually, he's not that little - he's about two inches long) before shewing him out of my kitchen. This is the funkiest grasshopper I've ever seen. There are lots of cool grasshoppers (as well as many other weird creepy crawlies around here, actually, so if you've got any irrational insect phobias, best not come visit in the summer time).

By the way, I apologize for the bright flash in the picture. I tried without but didn't get a good enough shot. There are some cool ones where he looks like he's fleeing very quickly, but you don't see much detail (he didn't attempt to flee at all, by the way - I just couldn't keep the camera still long enough for that shutter speed).

No knitting news today, though. I've been on a kitchen cleaning mission most of the day.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

What's That?

Short Row Heels
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
For those of you who guessed: a bra for an aging Barbie, you have my twisted sense of humor, but you'd be wrong.

That is my good news. But, first, I have to share a bit more of the bad news I had forgotten for that last post. I'll get this off my chest, and then we can talk about the good stuff.

The bad stuff: we now only have three chickens left out of the original six. We lost one pretty early on. She was weird all along, and it apparently meant she was sick. The other five have been hanging around for the last few months living the high life in the country. Then, suddenly two went missing in one day. We figure it was foxes. Muttonchop saw some baby foxes playing with a rabbit tail one day, so it's a pretty safe assumption to make. Anyway, that's one of the risks of having free range chickens. Yummy eggs but chickens have a tendency to drop like flies.

Now, on to the good news, and what's in the picture. The socknitters among you may have already guessed, but others are probably stuck thinking about Barbie's boobs (I can understand that - they are pretty freaky).

Those are two short row heels knit on two circular needles. Both of these techniques are new to me, but they are both soooooo cool that I'm very excited about these socks, which will be done at the same time, so no risk of having a lonely sock moping around the house. By the way, I need to thank Louise for the sock yarn. I've been really anxious to try Cascade Fixation but haven't been able to get any yet. Louise hooked me up last time I was over at her place (I still need to tell you about the little knitogether we had over at her house last week - tomorrow maybe). This pink is so much fun. It's really bright. Every time I leave the room and come back to it, its pinkness shocks me. They'll be fun to wear.

The pattern is a méli-mélo (a French word I love - it means mixture) of several techniques I found instructions for on the net. The pattern is pretty much made-up, though. They're going to be anklets. The only reason I went for that kind of sock is because I want to have leftover yarn to make some for Lambchop #1, who loves pink in any shade these days.

So admire the heels and try not to think about Barbie.

The Three Houdinis and Other Irritations

What can I say? Today has not been a great day around our house. First, I awoke to the news that our three kitties (The Three Houdinis - yet another great name for a band, I think) had escaped. It appears that they may have had a bit of outside assistance, but I can't be sure of that. In any case, I'm not going to mess with catching them again. It appears I was not meant to have any kitty petting. What can you do? I'll continue to feed them at least till they are old enough to hunt on their own (of course, if I feed them now, will they even start to learn?) but probably forever and a day. I just can't stand the idea of them wasting away to nothing like the last bunch did. Mama can apparently hunt enough for herself to nurse them when they're little, but as they get bigger and hungrier (but still not old enough to hunt for themselves) she just can't do it. We mothers can't be expected to do everything, can we? At least I can be content in the knowledge that I saved them from the fate of the last litter (my husband told me yesterday that he had actually found their little starved bodies).

So, there was that disappointment, but as we all know, when it rains it pours. So, let's talk about the weather a bit, shall we? My dear, sweet hubbie, who is preparing for a several-day trip to a wine trade show (I get to keep all the dirty diapers for myself!), and who had too many things on his plate already, was in a little fender-bender. Nothing serious. He's okay, and the car will be too after a bit of cosmetic surgery, but of course, being that he was the person ramming into the back bumper of the other car (never mind the fact that the idiot inexplicably slammed on his breaks while leaving a roundabout - if you're familiar with these, you'll know this is something you don't do) it looks like it was his fault. Of course, I'm relieved that he was not hurt, and took every opportunity to remind him of this, but it's nerve-wracking when you then have to hop in the family minivan for a 5-hour drive that same afternoon.

Then, there's the mystery leak (we think from the bathtub) that is seeping out from under the kitchen linoleum. Can't we do this sort of thing when the handyman isn't on his way out of town? It's not that bad, which is lucky, because it really is going to have to wait till he gets back.

And, don't even get me started on the Hitchcock-like moth problem that just started. We've had a horrible visitor (the nasty, skin-irrating gypsy moth caterpillar) this Spring, and it's reincarnation is going to take over the world and populate it with its offspring. They're everwhere. If you've ever wondered what EVIL looks like - it's not Saddam Hussein or even the weirdo in Korea whose name never sticks in my head no matter how many times I hear/read it. It's the gypsy moth. They've even got a little pair of pseudo-horns. Their caterpillar form, by the way, was the cause of Lambchop #1's recent all-over allergic body rash. If you want a close-up of Satan, himself, click here. Which leads me to this thought: do these guys cause troubles with wool? I hope not. That's the last thing we need around here!

Then, there's the weather, which while we're talking about the ruler of the Netherworld, we might as well talk about his home. While living in Houston, TX, I decided that though most people assume hell is hot, they're a bit off in thinking that's what makes it so awful. It's actually the humidity that tortures you for all eternity. If it were just a dry heat, hell wouldn't be so bad, but anyone who's lived in the southern US knows it has to be humid, too. After living a while here in France, though, I've realized I was a bit off in my definition of hell. Yes, it's hot, and of course, it's humid, but it is also sardine-packed full of people and not a bottle of deodorant among them. That's hell. (Oh, and a little disclaimer: that was not at all intended as an insult toward French people. It's more the fact that I wouldn't want to be sweating like a pig, as I have the past few days without a bit of something to take the stench off).

Despite the heat, mugginess, escaping kitties and car accidents, though, there is some good news. I'll just save that for another post, because there's a picture involved. Ooh - the suspense. You're almost peeing your pants, aren't you? Well, hold it!

Friday, June 17, 2005

Bookmark Pattern

Rose Leaf Lace Bookmark

I got the idea for this lace stitch here, but I have modified it, so there should be no troubles with copyright problems. If anyone feels I am incorrect on this you may say so, but as far as copyright has been explained to me, I am able to use this stitch pattern, modified as I have done and expressed in my own way in a bookmark pattern of my own design and call it mine (not to say that I made up the stitch pattern, because I didn't).

So, here we go.

Yarn: Whatever you feel like using. I used Phildar Philsoie, which is usually knit on 4mm needles (I knit it on 3mm needles to make a stiffer fabric). This pattern is great for leftover balls of yarn.
Needles: 3mm (or size of your choice, because with a bookmark, size doesn't matter).

Thread one bead of your choice onto yarn. Cast on 19 stitches. At stitch number 10, slip the bead into the cast-on row.

Knit entire first row to set up.

Then, follow the chart from top to bottom.

Click here to download a Word document of the chart. I'm too technologically challenged to get it on my blog correctly. Maybe that will come in the future, but for now, I'm tired of trying.

Chart abbreviations:
all blank spots are knit stitches (no matter whether on the right side or wrong side of fabric)
O yarnover
* purl
X no stitch
/|\ slip 1, knit2tog, passover
/ K2tog
\ slip 1, knit1, passover

Repeat these ten rows 9 times (or until desired length is obtained) then cast off. Wash and block. Some people choose to stiffen their bookmarks in some way. If doing so, it is advised to make sure it is "archive safe". You don't want to discolor the pages of a cherished family heirloom book by accident.

Please let me know in the comments section if this pattern doesn't work out right for any reason. I'll certainly want to fix the errors.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Patchwork Quilt Beginnings

Patchwork Quilt beginnings
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
This shot is horrible. I realize that, and I apologize, but at least you can see the designs and colors pretty well. I started this quilt (no, I can't be called a quilter - quitter fits better) when I learned I was pregnant with Lambchop #1 (she'll be four next month, and I knew I was knocked up pretty quickly). So, why did it never get finished? I've got two reasons to give:

1) I didn't have any game plan whatsoever. I just made little patches with no idea of how I was going to fit them together. At some point in the future, I'll have to sit down and figure that out (maybe for a grandchild??).

2) All the sewing on this was done by hand. I didn't have a sewing machine at the time. Can you really imagine making an entire quilt by hand? Now that I think about it, I even hand-sewed a leather bag that I use all the time to hold my knitting supplies when on the run. It's still holding up, so I must not be too bad, but boy is that time-consuming.

So, I'm hoping that putting this stuff (and there are several more I didn't photograph) on the net might motivate me to think of a way to finish this quilt up.

Also, as a side note, for those of you interested, I did end up catching all three kitties, as well as releasing their parents back into the wilds we call our yard. The last kitty inflicted a painful bite on my right pointer finger (very annoying since it gets used a lot when I knit). I'll let you know when gangrene sets in (not really - it's healing fine now). Wish me luck on the kitten taming deal. I'm starting to wonder if it'll even be possible to tame these guys. I hope so, because they're so sweet, and I my father-in-law confirmed what I already assumed - they would have died if I hadn't started feeding them (that's what happened to the last litter). I think I deserve to pet the kitties for my efforts, don't you?

And, lastly, before I get in some knitting time, which I haven't had much of lately, I'll try to post the bookmark pattern tomorrow. I need to sit down and type it out. Since someone wanted it in time for Father's Day, I'll try to do it tomorrow.

Our Little Prize Fighter

Our Little Prize Fighter
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
This shot is proof of my excellent parenting skills (hey, at least he's freshly bathed here), as well as being a perfect explanation for the grey hairs and wrinkles as mentioned in the previous post.

The black eye we thank Lambchop #1 for. The scratch on the forehead and the bump/bruise just next to it are all his own doing. Being a toddler is hard work!

I just thought I'd throw this picture in, because nobody ever seems to take pictures of things/people looking their worst (the eye looked worse before, but the other stuff is new). Why not post one on my blog? Have to give Grandma the proof she needs to sic social services on me, anyway, right?

On Growing Old

Now, before I start, I need to stipulate that this post is not a compliment fishing expedition. So, no body needs to come to the comment section of this post telling me how beautiful I am (that means you, Mom!). I'm just sharing what's on my mind.

And, what's on my mind these days is my ever-multiplying grey hairs and the hints of wrinkles forming between my eyes. This year - later this summer, actually - I'll be turning 30. This monumental number does not frighten me. It's what tends to come along with it that gets on my nerves. Now, I've been turning grey for years (well before my time). It runs in the family, and armed with a box of Clairol, I can cope with it just fine. Besides, I get to go from eggplant to dark auburn on a whim, which is always a bit fun.

What really irks me, though, is the other little things that start to show up or that begin to come up missing. Things missing, for example: I no longer catch men glancing my way. Granted, it may have been that before they were only staring at the large glob of snot dangling from my nose or the gob of green parsley peeking through my pearly-whites as I threw a coquettish smile their way. No matter. I felt pretty.

Then, I had children. Love 'em. I really do, but I haven't felt like a woman since. To sooth my feminine ego, I try to tell myself that I don't fit the French standard for beauty (you know, stick skinny with a year-round-Mediterranean-olive-skin tan). Surely, in some place on this planet, men's mouths would gape (but in a good way) at my ever-rounding curves and gradually drooping dairy-air. Not here, apparently, but surely somewhere.

This brings us to the "things starting to show up" part. Along with the rounding curves and drooping backside, there are the wrinkles. I know they come with the territory, but in my mind, I'm still 23, which is why looking too closely into the mirror can sometimes be a shock. I actually like wrinkles on other people. My husband, for example, has great laugh lines around his eyes. Laugh lines are wonderful, actually. They can soften an otherwise hard face, but that's not what I see creeping up on me. I've got the evil-lady crease between the eyes. This is no doubt the fault of my children (after all, it wasn't there before they came along). I am apparently in a constant state of frustrated concern or downright anger, which is where the crease comes in. And, of course, creases have the opposite effect that laugh lines do. They can actually harden an otherwise soft face, which I was at least hoping I had.

All of this, of course, brings me to one question: How fair is it that at the age of 30, I have the acne-prone skin of a 15-year-old and the wrinkles and grey hair of a 35 to 40-year-old. Someone is surely cackling down at me from above.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Shock and Awe

Operation Sterile Feline is well under way, and due to the superior technology being employed in the campaign, can be claimed a complete success. Yesterday evening, at dusk, we flew in below the kitty radars and caught them completely by surprise. By 2200 hours, the female had been trapped and safely transferred to an undisclosed location. After careful consideration by expert strategists, it was decided that a second pass would be made. Shortly thereafter, inspite of heavy rainfall and poor visibility, the male was also taken into captivity and placed with the female detainee. Despite showing momentary hostility, the captives were treated with the utmost respect and given a warm place to sleep. In addition to the swift capture of the pair, we are pleased to announce that, although several kittens were present, no casualties occurred.

Today, early in the morning hours, both detainees were transferred to a nearby medical facility for proper care and interrogation. They were both treated and given a clean bill of health before being released back into the custody of their captors. They were then allowed to rest for several hours before being presented with a meal. Although hesitant, they are expected to dine quietly in their rooms and sleep throughout the night before being rereleased onto their native lands.

I reiterate that the operation is a complete success, coming in well under budget and with a less-than-expected time duration, as well as zero casualties. The only remaining task is to capture the children to liberate them from their parents' ways and school them in our own (Operation Feline Liberation). This task may prove to be difficult, but we will stay the course. We are in this for the long haul. We will know more in the coming days, but we are confident of a complete and total success of Operation Feline Liberation.

**Breaking News Flash**

As of 2300 hours this 14th of June, two kitties have been taken into custody and reports have been heard of a third possibly roaming the area. Stay tuned for future alerts. As always, we will keep you, our valued viewers, informed.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Missed Photo Ops

There are just days when you wish you'd had the foresight to slip your camera in your purse before walking out that door. Today was one of them. Two things caught my eye today on the way to the pet supply store. The first was a little something Lambchop #1 pointed out. While stopped at a red light, she looked to her left and noticed, in a service-station-turned-personal-junkyard, two white goats standing on an old heap of a car. This was just at the entrance of a village we pass through several times a week, and we had never seen them before. It struck me that they were possibly used as Junkyard Goats to protect the precious crap held within the gates. Odd, to say the least.

The second thing I saw needs a little bit of pre-explanation. The next few paragraphs are not for the squeamish, so click away if you don't like a bit of scandal. Those of you still here with me, of course, are the curious types, so I won't make you wait any longer.

San Diego, CA, the city of my teenage years, whose quirks are indelibly etched in my memory, has a neighbor called El Cajon (which can translate as "The Drawer," "The Casket," or more logically, "Box Canyon" for those of you interested in strange Spanish city names). This city has a stretch of road that, although once a family area where a highschool friend spent a portion of his childhood, is now (or at least was while I was in highschool) a bastion of sin. Among the variety of drugs to be had, there might also be purchased (for the right price) an assortment of "favors" or "services" reminiscent of Bill Clinton's encounter with a chubby intern and a quite possibly chubby cigar. This is El Cajon Blvd. We joked about it as teenagers. Most American cities have their own version of this road. France, though, is somewhat different.

Of course, near the train stations in the large cities, there are the Sex Shops (written just like that), most likely targeting foreign tourists with that name. And, there are often prostitutes to be found nearby, but a little French oddity lies miles away from large cities on roads leading into quiet towns filled with families with children and little puppy dogs. Appearing stranded on the edge of town, a lone woman (perhaps to be found with a friend), spends her day on the side of the road. To the untrained eye, she could be awaiting assistance for her broken-down car. But, the knowing observer realizes she awaits a companion. Not one to fill her days and nights with love and happiness, but, rather, one to fill her pockets with cash after moments of lust. Such a place is mere miles away from the goats we mentioned earlier, near a town which serves as a stop-off for passing truckers. I've never actually seen any of these women busy at work. You only see them standing there, chatting with their friend, or if they are alone, reading a magazine. But, today must have been a special day, because I actually witnessed a client or John, if you will, stopped on the side of the road preparing for... well, I think we can stop there. In fact, I'm not sure why I would have wanted the camera for that. I guess it's just a portion of French culture that most people are unaware of, thus giving me the desire to snap a little photo to share with all of you. But, maybe we're all better off without it. You can surely imagine... nah, let's not go there.

Instead, just do me this one favor: Mamas don't let your babies grow up to be French truckers. Let 'em be doctors and lawyers and such.

Knitted Bookmark

Knitted Bookmark
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Here is a little FO I whipped up yesterday afternoon during the kids' nap. This was a real quickie, and fun. It also gives you a better idea of the lace pattern I'm using for the cotton cardigan I'm knitting. It's the same pattern. I just knew it would be a great way to use up the last bits of silk I had leftover from my striped tank.

A bit of info on this:
Rose Leaf lace pattern (I'll post that link someday)
Amber cross from Michael's that I had bought intending to make stitch markers for my last Secret Pal but didn't like the look of when I was done with them (sorry Gayle).
Phildar Philsoie (100% silk) yarn.
Knit on 3mm Addi Turbos

I really love the old/antiquish look of this bookmark. Perfect for its intended purpose of becoming a Bible bookmark for my parents. I am quite certain they will love it.

And, like I said, really fast to make. This is actually a great way to try out a new lace stitch. You get to make a swatch (of sorts) and you can use it as a gift either for yourself or someone else. Fun!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Holy Flying Furrballs, Batman!

It's a cat fight! POW! BAM! BOOM! SCRATCH! HISS! (You get the picture.) This is the second time this week. Why? Is the mama kitty slapping her babes around? I think not! We have named her Bonne Maman, after all. No, it's apparently the daddy who's come around for a little lovin' and Mama's got a bit of a headache. It seems that me setting out bowls of delicious kitty delicacies has lured him out of hiding, and we've now got a full family to feed (we really have to get this pair "fixed" - they're coming out of the woodwork).

As you can tell, it seems that things are not all rosy Chez Bonne Maman. Are we to expect a visit from Cops shortly? Stay tuned...

To Be Continued...

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Rose Leaf Lace

Rose Leaf Lace
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
It has apparently been declared the summer of lace in knitblogland. Now, I hate to be a follower, but it seems only logical to put down the thick, heavy yarns and cable sweaters in favor of lightweight airy fabric. I've had several summery yarns in the wings just waiting for the opportunity to be played with. And, since I finally finished the bamboo shirt (too be shown later), I was able to dig into the project I've been thinking about for the past week or two.

What you see in the picture here is some Rowan California Cotton (long-discontinued, I believe) that my mother-in-law had all tangled up in her stash. She tends to knit mostly kids' sweaters with superwash wool for her grandchildren. Almost any time she has gotten the idea in her head to knit something for herself out of some other yarn, she hasn't liked the results or the yarn, so she puts it aside. Then, the yarns get tangled and she never wants to touch them again. I was lucky enough to be at her place one evening when she was willing to part with anything I felt like untangling. I came away with a very large bag full of good quality yarns. This was one of them. Now, the colors she tends to choose are earthtones, and not necessarily very lively, but that has its place in my stash among the other, more colorful yarns.

So, as I said before, I've been thinking about this project for a week or two. Actually, I've been planning it. Even with all of the mishaps in my last design attempt (which I still need to tell you about), and because I'm apparently a glutton for punishment, I've designed another. This one I believe to be foolproof, but we'll see. It's going to be a little airy short-sleeved (maybe 3/4 - I have yet to decide) cardigan, that is being knit almost all in one piece to avoid any sewing. So far, so good, and I really like the way the lace looks on this cotton, which, by the way is really soft and will be a pleasure to wear. What you see here is two pattern repeats. Together, they make a leaf pattern. I'll post the link to the stitch pattern another time.

For now, I'm off to the local outdoor market.

Mail Call

Love My New Sweater
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
The past few days have been like Christmas in June around our house. First, I received the last installment of secret pal angel gifts from Secret Pals 4 (good timing, since it runs us into Secret Pals 5 and makes me feel like I've got constant love coming in the form of mail). I'll get pictures up of the goodies I was sent a little later. I want to get some nice daylight for the photo shoot, so that you see the beauty of the gifts I was sent.

Then, as if one box of goodies wasn't enough to make my week, yesterday, we got another one. This one came from Australia. For Secret Pals 4, the person whose secret pal I was - the person I was meant to spoil - decided to spoil me in return. Gayle is a real sweetie. Not only did she send a few goodies for me, but she threw in wonderful things for the entire family.

In the picture here, you see a very proud Lambchop #1 with her new handknit sweater (she's never been so happy with anything I've made her). Gayle apologized for sending acrylic. Yeah, hmmm, let's think about this for a minute... easily machine-washed kids' clothes - I think I can handle that. I may be a bit of a yarn snob, but it's more for the fact that I can't stand the feel of acrylic sliding across my fingers as I knit. I can handle wearing it, and it certainly has its advantages (see machine washing mentioned above).

There was also a pair of hand-knitted
socks in the package for my husband. Now, let me just say, Gayle, that you've made one man very happy. He grew up with hand-knitted garments, so he knows how to appreciate them. They are so perfect that when he saw them, he assumed they were machine-made. Then, I pointed out the nicely turned heel and decreasing at the toes that are tell-tale signs of hand-knitting. He was thoroughly impressed (even to the point of mumbling something about his mother being able to take some lessons).

There were other little goodies, like hand-made jewelry and trinkets, so bath salts and massage oil (my hard-working farmer of a husband thanks you for that one - no, nothing nasty, just a nice back massage). Then, some cool books on Australia for the kids and a little Anne Geddes one for me. Lots of fun to open!

Thanks so much.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Constipated Poultry

Giant Egg
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Don't you think that post title could make a great name for a rock band? Okay, well, if you don't like the sound of it, just pretend it said: "It's Twins"

Look at the size of that massive egg. It is a bit discolored because of its enormity. The chickens usually lay eggs about the size of the little guy sitting behind the huge one. But, the other day, we found this thing. It's monstrous, isn't it? It turned out to be twins, which is what usually causes them to be so huge. So, my theory, and this is not at all scientific, is that the poor chickie was constipated for a day or two and when she finally laid this sucker, it came out as a two-in-one.

Now, I've given birth twice (once even without the epidural), but I'm in awe of anything the size of our hens that can push this out of her. Let's all have a moment of silence in recognition of her greatness.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Love That French Countryside

Just went out to feed the kitties and heard the clang, clang, clang of the bells around the necks of the neighbor's sheep. That's not something you hear in the city.

And, the kitties are getting more and more used to my presence. They certainly know my feeding schedule now. They're out there lurking in the bushes when I come out with the food. Bonne Maman was already munching at their bowl when I came back up from feeding the little kitties at their bowl (she moved them, so I feed in both places now - such service!). She din't even leave when she saw me. That's a huge improvement. I guess they figure as long as I keep the viddles flowing, I'm alright.

Lots of knitting mishaps to tell about later, but for now I've got to go fix them.

Froggy Went A-Huntin'

Frog On Window
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
I've learned three things tonight while finishing up the second sleeve of my bamboo shirt.

1) You don't need tv for good entertainment.
2) I need a pet frog to keep the kitchen clear of the icky moths that love to plant their nasty, wormy offspring in any and all carbohydrates on the shelves.
3) I never want to have to eat at this guy's favorite restaurant. Why? You know I'm going to tell you...

First, the wait is ridiculous. He showed up here by at least noon just to hang around till the nighttime meal.

Second, the service in this place sucks. There's no waiter who saunters over and casually asks him for his order with a thick French accent ("Yes, I'd like the live moth platter - hold the wings, please. They make me gassy.")

Imagine, if you will, your favorite restaurant - let's say McDonald's (I know, it's a stretch to call it a restaurant. Work with me on this. I'm telling a story here). So, there's no counter for you to order your food from a smiling, if somewhat acne-ridden teenager. Instead, you are seated on a perch with only a limited amount of space to maneuver. Stepping off your perch could mean a deadly splat reminiscent of the Atari game Frogger (my favorite, by the way).

Dangling from strings above you is your dinner. But, there's a catch. It's attached to a mechanism that draws it near to tease you but always keeps it fluttering just out of your reach. Much patience and concentration is necessary to capture even one burnt french fry (never mind the ketchup). And, to make matters worse, apparently, you're not even equipped with the handy-dandy whip-tongue that would make this chore much simpler. You have to actually use the suckers on your toes to hang on to the perch while attempting to grab the fry with your mouth.

Yeah, I think I'll pass on that and move along to a different joint. How about you?

The little guy in the picture, though, seems not to mind so much. But, seriously, he's pretty smart to know that he needs to hang out here till dark, when the lights will be on and the feast may begin. My husband pointed out his intelligence to me, claiming that this must be the reason the French are often referred to as Frogs. But, we all know it's just because seeing this guy makes him lick his chops and plan his next meal.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Tickled Pink (and Purple)

I think that's what I'll name this yarn. The other option is Hubba Bubba Palace, because the colors remind me of kids' gum (they even smell a bit like gum). Which do you prefer?

Anmiryam asked me if I was happy with the yarn, and if I'd do it again. I answer DEFINITELY to both questions. I was a little surprised by the day-glow quality of the pink, but the two go well together. Before rinsing the yarn with water after the dye job, you think they'll be darker than they end up being. The pink was a cherry red (as the cherry Kool-Aid would indicate, right?) before rinsing.

I purposely made the purple a bit less intense than the pink. I think it would have been a bit too much contrast otherwise. As it is now, the purple tones down that pink a bit. Maybe things could have turned out differently if I had a microwave or was patient enough to wait longer on the sun-tea style dyeing method. I may try "cooking" it in a hot car next time.

All in all, I found this to be a fun experiment, and I may just have myself another knitting-related addiction (so predictable, huh?)

In the picture, you can see a few signs of my amateurish dye job. It's a bit mottled, but I'm thinking when it's knitted up, it won't be that noticeable, and it may even add character to the project. Which project? Well, I believe this one may be destined to become a little shrug or a little mini-sweater (long sleeved, though) for my daughter. She won't need it for a while, but I'm so anxious to see how this stuff knits up that I may end up doing a swatch test tonight after it's fully dried.

I'm giddy here, folks!

Prickly Pear Blossoms

I thought I'd give everyone a tiny break from my yarn/knitting obsession (be forewarned, though - it won't be a long break).

Someone (my father-in-law?) planted some non-native cacti around here at some point in the past. They have done really well for themselves. And, I guess to thank us for inviting them, each year, they produce the loveliest flowers. They are currently in bloom, and I thought I'd share their beauty with you.

Secret Pals 5 Questionnaire

Well, for those of you who are not my secret pal, this may be a little boring, but hey that's tough. Live with it.

For my secret pal, here are some answers about what kind of a knitter I am (my responses are in caps):





5. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? I'VE GOT A FROOGLE WISHLIST - CLICK ON MY PROFILE TO FIND IT.

6. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) I LIKE CITRUS. FLOWERY SMELLS, OTHER THAN LAVENDER TEND TO GIVE ME A HEADACHE. AND MUSKY ODORS SOUR ON ME.


8. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? I SEW AND BAKE.

9. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

10. What's your favorite color? Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? Any colors you just can't stand? I'M PRETTY OPEN-MINDED ON THE COLOR THING. I LOOK BEST IN PINKS, BUT I SEEM TO RARELY WEAR THEM THESE DAYS. I LOVE KNITTING WITH BRIGHT COLORS, AND HAVE DECIDED I NEED TO WEAR THEM MORE OFTEN.

11. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? ONE HUBBIE, 2 SMALL KIDS, AND A FEW STRAY CATS I'M IN THE PROCESS OF ADOPTING.

12. What are your life dreams? (really stretching it here, I know) LIKE MANY KNITTERS, I'D LIKE TO HAVE MY OWN LYS.



15. What is/are your current knitting obsession/s? LACE








23. How old is your oldest UFO? OH BOY. MAYBE SIX TO NINE MONTHS NOW.

24. What is your favorite animated character or a favorite animal/bird? GROMIT. I LIKE DACHSHUNDS, BUT WE'VE GOT SOME SWEET LITTLE KITTIES AROUND HERE THESE DAYS.

25. What is your favorite holiday? THANKSGIVING, I GUESS.

26. Is there anything that you collect? VINTAGE PATTERNS (40's AND 50's STUFF IS MY FAVORITE)

27. What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? INTERWEAVE KNITS


Monday, June 06, 2005

Hand-spun Yarn

Hand-spun yarn
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
To round out today's show and tell, I'll leave you with an attempted artsy-fartsy shot of my hand-spun yarn. It's a major improvement over my first couple of attempts, I think. When all is said and done, I'll lay them all out, so you can see how I've learned (let's hope I have).

I have no clue what the content of this fiber is (aside from the occasional bit of hay that I do recognize and have to pull out). It's a bit of roving that Louise was kind enough to part with for me to practice on. It's not an extremely soft yarn, but it works for the trial and error that this process ends up being.

Been Dyeing To Tell You: Part III

Cherry/Grape Merino
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
And, here we have the aftermath. I did pretty well. Didn't even ruin the pair of khaki pants I unwisely picked out this morning.

I have to say, this stuff, aside from tasting nasty (licked my fingers before opting for kitchen gloves), has the side effect of allowing you to take a nostalgic trot down memory lane back to hot summer afternoons filled with colorful tongues and brightly hued mustaches. Fun!

The procedure (not that I have any clue what I'm doing here):

I squeezed the vinegar water out of the skein then laid it out on a table covered in plastic wrap. Then, using one of my only remaining measuring cups (a real sore spot these days, but we won't get into how my children have recently broken almost every glass object in the house), I carefully drizzled a cup of the "substance" (can we really even call this stuff a beverage?) onto the yarn. Noticing that the yarn was not absorbing the liquid very well, I panicked calmly devised a plan to remedy the problem.

The plan: gently squish the yarn with my gloved fingers to help it along with the absorption process. That's roughly where we're at here. I left out the shot of the yarn sunning on the top of our heap car. I didn't figure you'd want to see that. Why am I not nuking the stuff in our handy-dandy microwave? Don't have one. Don't really miss it - well, at least I haven't till now. So, we're trying the Southern sun-tea theory of yarn dyeing. I'll let you know how that goes.

Been Dyeing To Tell You: Part II

All Sacked Out
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
So, we've found Lambchop #1, but I seem to have lost my helper. Well, can't waste the precious, impossible-to-find-in-France Kool-Aid (who knew that stuff could become a commodity?). Guess I'll have to go it alone. There's plenty more yarn and Kool-Aid for another day of fun. Mommy will just have to play work alone on this batch.

Off we go (incidentally, the peace and quiet thing ain't half bad)...

Been Dyeing To Tell You

Kool Aid Dyeing
Originally uploaded by Sheepish.
Oh, I know, I'm so punny.

Now, down to the serious stuff. Today, I decided to experiment a bit with Kool-Aid dyeing. I thought this would be a fun afternoon activity with Lampchop #1. So, we assembled all the ingredients (one skein Knit Picks Dye-Your-Own merino - check, two packets Cherry Kool-Aid and one Grape - check, vinegar - check), presoaked our yarn in a vinegar/water mix and waited.

Then, we shoved Lambchop #2 out the door with Muttonchop to deliver some of that tasty wine he keeps laying around. Ready? Lambchop? Are you ready? Lambchop?

Oh, there you are...

Chicken Pox Mittens

Chicken Pox Mittens
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Last night after my lovable Lambchops were fast asleep, I got hard to work on my Bamboo shirt. I made plenty of progress on the first sleeve. Then, I took a look at it and decided to frog a large portion of it. It just didn't look right, most likely due to some lopsided, late-night decreases (note to self: don't work on decreases after midnight). So, I don't have any progress shots to show you.

Instead, I'll give you proof that I can actually finish two of a pair (this is something we've never seen happen here at the Stitchin' Sheep, so we must at least make note of it). I actually cast on for and finished the second Chicken Pox Mitten. Of course, nobody has Chicken Pox now, but you never know when these babies will come in handy. And, for now, they make really cute toy oven mitts, don't you think?

A recap on these: I used the pattern I gave you in an earlier post (but am now too lazy to look for). I knit them in Lion Brand Cotton in some patriotic colorway (I looked - I was right about the patriotic thing. It's called "Americana"). The pattern (yeah, again, sorry about the laziness) calls for 3.25 mm dpns, but I couldn't find mine, and since I'm all about the instant gratification thing, I cast on with 3 mm dpns. Worked out fine, but I'm sure they'd be slightly larger if done with the needles suggested. As they are, they fit my daughter like... well, like a glove. Not bad, since my intention was for them not to fall off while she was sleeping, so she wouldn't scratch at what I thought might be Chicken Pox itchies. Don't worry. I'm not too disappointed that she doesn't have it yet. It'll surely come, and probably pretty soon, since there are cases of it at school. So, I'll see these mittens used soon enough. Take a good look at that nice, fuzzy picture of the mittens for a moment. I love the diagonal strip of white that shows up on the left one. You know I, of course, planned that (why isn't it in the right one, then? - planned that, too). Cool, huh?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Kitty Sighting

Ever since the kitties disappeared, though I've been sad, I've continued to put food in their bowls, hoping to draw them back out. And, somebody's been eating their food. I think it's Bonne Maman. I have at least seen her near the bowls. Whether she shares with her young is another story. My husband (maybe we should call him Big Lambchop - or perhaps Muttonchop) had also seen her near the winery. So, being the ever curious human that I am, I went on a kitty safari. And, being that I was upwind of the critters, they didn't even smell me coming. This slight advantage gave me just enough time to spot a couple of them scurrying back to their hiding place, among a badly organized pile of pretty much everything imaginable. Armed with the location of their new hideout, I placed a bit of salmon kitty paté nearby to coax them, ever-so-gently out again. I didn't get to stick around long enough to see them come out for it, but a few hours after I put it there, it's licked clean. Good sign, but what's next?

I've read several online articles about feral kitties and how to domesticate them. I'm not really looking to turn them into housecats, because we've got enough mess around here without cat hair piled on top - not to mention my allergy problems. Besides, I think they might enjoy roaming the vast outdoors around our house and marking it all as their personal property (kitties love that sort of opportunity, right?). I would, however, love to have them hanging around the currently-nonexistent-but-soon-to-be-built patio of our new house while I knit in my also-currently-nonexistent-but-hopefully-to-be-acquired rocking chair in the afternoon sun while the seabreeze blows all around me. Sounds nice, doesn't it. That's all I'm asking for here.

So, after reading said feral cat articles, I know that the kittens should be separated from their mother at around 6 weeks in order to make them as domesticatible (is that a word, and if so, how do you spell it?) as possible. Mommy is a bit fearful of my kind (humans), and she's likely to teach this to her sweet little younguns, which is only natural but not necessarily what we're looking for here. So, I'm just not sure how to go about doing this. What to do? What to do? Do we take our chances now and trap mom and then catch the babies later? Anybody have any experience in this matter at all? I could sure use some help here.

So, that's what I think about most these days. Last night, I even dreamed the kitties let me hold them, and I thanked their mommy for giving them to me. Yeah, so we have a new obsession around here.

But, this does not mean I've given up on the whole knitting thing. I'm still faithfully plugging away on my bamboo shirt. The body is all finished and sewn up, except for the border I want to add on after the fact. I'm about halfway done with the first sleeve. Then, of course, I'll have to do the other. I'll try to post pictures of that soon.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Baaaah, Baaaah, Baaaah

Isn't that what extremely happy sheep might say? Because I'm a very happy little sheep right now. I've been irritated for a long time about the fact that I cannot respond to people's comments when they make them. The only way I could do that with this blogspot site would be to comment in my next post. That might get a bit old to everyone who never really cared about my comments in the first place - not to mention the fact that the person who made the original comment would have to come back and visit a second time to see my response. But, that is no longer a problem thanks to I was roaming on another blogger run blog and decided to make a comment. Imagine my surprise when I realized the site had a different type of commenting capability. I looked a little closer and saw the haloscan reference, and, well... you now see the results. Happy, happy, happy! You'll be hearing from me soon (well, that's if you ever comment on my site).


Haloscan commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Go Ahead, Make My Day

Okay, first, we'll start with yesterday, then get to an explanation of that Clint Eastwoodian title.

Though I finished folding up the millions of tamales and got them steamed up (if you've never tasted a sweet tamale, you're missing out, by the way - did a batch of those, too!), yesterday was not a great day.

First off, both kids are whinier than they've been in a really long time. The medicine-happy doc confirmed my suspicion that Lambchop #1 had had an allergic reaction to something (therefore necessitating TWO different allergy meds, apparently), though we're uncertain exactly what the culprit was. He also told me there was a possibility that some of the bumps she has were actually the Chicken Pox. The jury's still out on that, though the lack of tons more spots today makes me think they were just insect bites.

Second, and more tragic is the fact that my feral cat buddies that I was hoping to adopt have disappeared. I suspect that Bonne Maman likes to change homes frequently for the safety of the kitties. I'm all for that, but she didn't even leave a forwarding address, so I'm not sure what to think. This loss affected me much more that I would have expected. Going out and peeking in on the little family had brought me quite a bit of cute and cuddly joy in the past few days. I was really looking forward to the day, perhaps weeks from now when I'd have gained enough trust to touch one. And, then - poof - without warning, she moves them. Something is still eating at least the kitty food (though it could be another night animal), so I'm hoping that if I continue to feed them, they'll pop up again.

And, really, this saddened me. I sat there, tears falling into my tamales like a character in Like Water for Chocolate, and it hit me that cute and furry animals are apparently something I need in my life at the moment. First, I became too-quickly attached to our weekend canine visitor. Then, the kitties came and lit up my week. I'm wondering if with the loss of my grandparents earlier this year, I am somehow in need of a being to love unconditionally that will not expect anything from me in return. That's the only explanation I can think of for my reaction to the kitties' disappearance.

So, I've devised a plan, involving an open can of mackerel, a flashlight and a humane animal trap, to hopefully lure them back out of hiding. I'm not sure when I should strike, but I've at least acquired the materials.

Now, on to the Clint Eastwood line in my post title...

This morning, I searched high and low to find my black linen pants that are so comfy for hot weather. They were nowhere to be found, but while searching, I came across a pair of pants that I haven't even attempted to squeeze myself into since I became pregnant the first time. What made me try them again, I'll never know, but much to my surprise, they actually fit. That made my day! First, because I love these pants and thought they would forever be lost to me. And, second, apparently, the strict all-tamale diet I've been on for the past couple days must have worked wonders! At least something came along to brighten my day.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Chicken Pox Mitten

Chicken Pox Mitten
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Yesterday, spots began to appear all over Lambchop #1. Having read the sign at school warning parents of the presence of the itchy-scratchy disease, I started looking into the Chicken Pox and its symptoms. It actually appears to have been a false alarm. The spots she has are most likely an allergic reaction to something (we'll be seeing the Doc about that later today), but like all good mothers, I threw her into a bath of colloidal oatmeal (which she found to be very tasty - don't ask) and promptly searched the net for the proper knitting project for the occasion. We don't want our baby to be forced wear Daddy's outdated, orange socks, now, do we? So, I cast on for some Chicken Pox mittens.

I chose to use cotton, because it's way too hot here for anything wool, even if cotton mittens sound strange. Using the only ball of cotton yarn in my stash that my apparently patriotic child agreed to (this is why large stashes are best, by the way - you can whip up anything on a moment's notice if you've got your own mini-LYS), I knitted up this little guy last night in a jiffy. She loves it and wants the second one pronto, even if her non-Chicken Pox rash doesn't really itch in the first place.

For anyone interested, I got the pattern here.
It was very easy to follow, which I'm hoping indicates an improvement in my knitting skills and knits up in a little less than 2 hours (not bad when you consider I was knitting Lion Brand Cotton on bamboo 3 mm dpns - not exactly the intended needles for this yarn).

These are so cool that there's already been a fight about them, and I'll have to make a pair for Lambchop #2 as soon as I'm done with these. That's not a bad idea, really, because even if we don't have the Chicken Pox here now, we likely will have it very soon, and these (and perhaps some hard liquor for Mom) may come in handy.

Kitty Cuteness and Bonne Maman

Feral Kitties
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Here's a sweet little shot of the feral kitties that I don't remember taking, which only makes me assume that even though my husband insists on teasing me for my softheartedness (and constant oohing and ahhing over these sweeties), he's a bit smitten, himself. Good to know.

There are actually three of them, but only two seem to have come out for their photo-op.

I'm so happy I've begun feeding them and their mommy, who I have begun to call "Bonne Maman" (a reference to a French brand of jelly, but which also means "Good Mama"). It's caused a pleasant change in Bonne Maman's behavior. She wasn't spending much of the day with the kitties when I first saw them, because she was constantly out hunting for food to nourish them with (she still nurses them a bit). Since I've started feeding them, she spends more time lying around in the shade with all her babies curled up at her belly. It's a sweet thing to see, and I'm very pleased I was able to help her out so she could do this. Just call me "The Kitty Welfare System." I don't mind giving them handouts. It appears to have a good effect. She is getting less and less alarmed by my presence as well, which I'm taking as a very good sign of trust building up.

Olé! Hot Tamales

Hot Tamales
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Well, they aren't really that hot. More in the mild to medium range, but very tasty. The kids even liked them, though they'd anything with corn (even out of a pigs trough, I suspect).

These are the beef ones. I think I made approximately 30 of them yesterday (if you can count, you'll realize there aren't that many in the picture - we did have to eat dinner, you know). That was one batch. I used up most of the beef mixture, but I've still got all of the pork one. The plan, because this is so time consuming and these babies freeze really well, is to make obscene amounts of them to have on hand for whenever I feel like heating some up. I'll have to get on that this afternoon. At least a good portion of the job is done. I just have to make more dough, wrap them up and steam them.

Mmmmm. So tasty!

Chili Today, Hot Tamale

Tamale Ingredients
Originally uploaded by The Stitchin Sheep.
Well, actually it all happened yesterday, but I didn't get a chance to blog about it. I've been craving Mexican food lately, and when I saw some ground pork with nothing in it (a rarity here - usually it's got salt, pepper and some herbs in it), I got motivated for some Tamale making. Now, I think traditionally, in Mexico, this is more of a group endeavor. Somewhat like a Stitch 'n Bitch, women sit around shooting the breeze (or their mouths off, whichever the case may be) making tasty little morsels together. There's a really good reason for that sort of tradition, because done alone, these are an all day (if not several day) affair.

In this picture, you see all of my ingredients. What I don't show is the parts leading up to this. I roasted the peppers and made the red sauce from scratch. Then, I browned some beef (the pork, I did later) and onions and mixed some sauce with it. Then, there's the corn mixture for the masa dough. And, you have to soak the husks for quite a while. Did it all from scratch (Well, except making the flour for the masa dough, because let's be serious, here. Do you really see me hand-grinding my own corn for this? I've got knitting to do!).

Check out the next post for a picture of the finished yummies.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Validate My Existence

Validate me, validate me, validate me... for I am a "people pleaser". That's what Mom always told me I was. This, for those of you who are not familiar with the term, is not really a good thing, but Mom wasn't insulting me. These words were usually part of her typical soothing mantra when I took someone's insults or meanness to heart and came sobbing to her for comfort. This need for others to accept me has lessened over the years, but I still crave a certain amount of others' approval even at my age. This need is, in part, why I write this blog. That may sound strange, but here's my reason...

I have always been at least moderately funny. I don't come from an extremely intellectual family, but we sure do have some laughs. We may have our other dysfunctions, but I love that about our family. Mom always taught us to laugh at our selves and not take things too seriously. This, though I may not have learned it as well as I should have, was one of her great lessons. Then, I did a silly thing. I fell in love with a Frenchman (from a family of proud intellectuals, to boot) and up and moved off to a foreign country, with an often even more foreign sense of humor. Yes, people, the French do have a sense of humor. It's just not always the same as OUR sense of humor. So, here I am, happy in my peaceful middle-of-nowhere home, but unfunny. It's a sad state of affairs for someone used to cracking little jokes in almost any situation for a chuckle or two. I've tried this in French from time to time, but really, I mostly just don't translate well. Either I say something totally off-color that gets me some really worried stares (women instinctively draw their children closer to them when I speak - that sort of thing) or my little joke falls flat, because I have to give a lengthy explanation of the meaning of an expression in English.

And, guys, I need to feel funny. It's a part of me. You may disagree about what's funny and what's not. I'm mostly over the need to please YOU on this matter, but I'm happy knowing someone out there reads this blog and finds my thoughts laughable. This blog fulfills that need.

But, to my great surprise and delight, the soon-to-be ex-wife of my husband's bestfriend, who has come to sort through some things they have stored at our place finds me funny. She kept laughing at my goofy asides and finally commented that she has always loved the Anglo sense of humor. Now, she's French - just so you are aware of the importance of all this. She even told me that the French don't have a sense of humor. I could have fallen down before her, weaping uncontrolled sobs and kissed her feet. Instead, I held back on all that and just smiled (from ear to ear, of course), because she had VALIDATED MY EXISTENCE!