Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Moving Update

My messy, messy living room/study/dining room

It's been a long month.  We finally moved into our house.  The weeks preceding the move, I was so frustrated and depressed.  Too depressed to blog.  My big girls were off to college and the little ones were in school during the day. I had nothing to do in our 2-bedroom rental.  I wanted my stuff, I wanted to be in my house and I was tired of hearing my upstairs neighbors having sex every other day.  Since being in the house, I've been happier, but absolutely too exhausted and busy to blog.  My conclusion?  I make too many excuses.

The movers arrived on a Monday with two trailers.  They ran out of time to deliver and unload a third trailer.  On Tuesday, they delivered the last trailer, but realized that a big proportion of our belongings were missing.  No mower, no tiller, no kitchen table.  There were boxes that were missing too.  After 24 hours, our goods were found and on Thursday they were finally delivered.  Now, I'm assigned with the task of cramming 20,000 pounds of our belongings in 2,200 sq. ft..

A bit of background:  We've been fortunate enough to live in areas where housing is relatively inexpensive.  Of the six houses we've lived in before, ALL of them were built just for us.  I know, I know.  I've been spoiled.   Our last house was quite large:  over 4,000 sq. ft..  Every room was filled with furniture. We knew that we would have to down-size to move into the Chicago area.  It's definitely more expensive here and we don't really need a humongous house with two girls in college.  With Hubby's new company footing the bill for the move, I decided to keep all our furniture (no idea how big our house would be) and get rid of what we don't need at the other end.  Now I'm at the other end.  Tim the moving guy, just moved into a house devoid of furniture.  We gave him my dining room set (too big for this house and we bought the set from the previous owner anyway) and a matching entertainment cabinet.  Big, burly Tyrell took a leather recliner and a big terrarium.  He wanted my old living room couch too, but it's in good shape and I'm saving that for Alyson's first place.  She may need it soon, since she graduates next May.  

Knitting has been put on the back burner for now.  The only time I take my needles out is during Madelyn's swim practices.  I'm working on the collar of Jessie's tilted duster, so it's almost done. 

I must go back to my unpacking.  Being friendless in really conducive to getting work done around the house.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Finished Color Affection

I finished my Color Affection almost two weeks ago.  I'm not happy.  The border of the third section just isn't stretchy enough.  I followed the pattern and twisted the yarns at the color changes without cutting anything.  I suspected that the border wasn't stretchy enough while I was knitting.  But since so many people had knitted this shawl, surely it must be okay.  Here's case of not listening to your guts and ending with something you just want to stuff under the bed and forget about.  I don't even want to look at it.

the unstretchy border
I going to frog the damn thing!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bucket Bag

During one of my restless nights, I finished a bag that a started last month. I had been eyeing Tom Bihn's Swift knitting bag. It was designed in collaboration with Knitty in 2007. It's got a great shape, no zippers on the main opening to snag your yarn, clear interior pockets, and a couple of key fob thingies to hang your keys or the little stuff sack that comes with the bag. I would love to get one, but can't justify the $90+ shipping price tag. There's also a smaller version called the Little Swift that's $80.

The Swift

Here's my version: 

I found a pattern for a similarly shaped bag on Sew, Mama, Sew.  The original pattern is a cute reversible bag, using calico or quilter's cotton.  I bought some outdoor upholstery fabric for 50% off.  For the trim and handles, I used duck cloth, and ripstop nylon for the interior lining.   I copied the Swift's vinyl pockets, but also added an exterior zippered pocket and a water bottle pocket inside the bag.

It's a little small, only about 15" wide X 11"tall.  I may make a bigger version and gift this prototype to one of my sisters.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


That tooth that broke off in my mouth right before our family vacation?  I had my surgery on Monday, so now that tooth has been extracted and replaced with a post for an implant.  I'm not going to go into details amount my oral health.  I am, however, going to rant a bit about a call I took during my post-operative Vicodin haze.

My phone rings while I was laid up in bed.  Of course my son hands me the phone, never mind that I'm all fuzzy from drugs.  It was someone from the English department of J's new school.  Cindy (I think she said) asked how I was, and I admitted that I just had oral surgery and was a bit loopy from drugs.  Fine, she'd keep it short.  She then proceeded to say that she wanted to set up J's English Language Services.   Isn't that like ESL (English as a second language)?  I told Cindy that English is the only language that J's ever spoken and that his parents (that includes me) and siblings are all American-born.  She was all confused and asked how long J has been here.  I informed her that we moved to Illinois two months ago.  No, no.  How long has J been in the country?  Excuse me?  Didn't I just tell her that we're ALL AMERICAN-BORN in this family?  Are you basing this solely on our Chinese surname?  Don't you have his transcripts?  I was sooo annoyed.

On top of this experience, I had a similar one at the the DMV.  Though, they don't call it that in Illinois.  I think it's just the "license office" or something like that.   I wanted to pick up applications for our Illinois car registration and driver's licenses.  There was one line for each request.  Since no one was standing at the registration window, I went there first .  I got the forms I needed and asked if I could also get the forms for licenses too, since the man was sitting right next to the license woman.  He asked his colleague and she passed the papers to him.  I also asked if there was a list of acceptable identification papers, since every state is different.  The woman then looked straight at me, handed me a piece of paper and told me that if I had a foreign passport, I needed XYZ too.  Why the *^*%$$# would she assume that I was foreign?!  Because of my Asian face?

I've been keeping an open mind about my new home, but so far, Illinois is not looking very pretty to me.  We have to pay $340 in school fees just for the honor of having two children attend the local public schools.  That's not including any extra-curricular activities.  

Ok.  Ranting done.

On a happier note, my kids and I flew back to my home state of New Jersey to visit my family.  We spent a lazy week with my siblings, my nieces and nephew, went to the beach, to Six Flags, shopping...

Island Beach State Park, our favorite beach

I got tired of my swallowtail shawl and started another one after listening to Brenda Dayne rave about her Color Affection in her last podcast.  I cast on just a few days before we left and am almost done.  My only regret is that I should have bought new needle tips and used my longer knit picks cord.  Right now I'm using an old pair of fixed addi turbos in size 6.  The shawl is getting progressively wider and getting all bunched up on the needles.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Vacation Withdrawal

The ms Massdam anchored at Bar Harbor, ME

We've been back from our vacation for five days.  Laundry has finally been caught up on, the floor has ceased swaying and it's back to reality.  We sailed on the ms Maasdam from Boston, to Bar Harbor, Maine, around Nova Scotia to Prince Edward Island and finally through Quebec to Montreal.  It was 7 glorious days of being waited on, scrumptious food, being with family, and no dishes to wash.

The holiday didn't start on a good note, though.  Eighteen hours before we were to fly Boston, a crown fell out of my mouth.  Actually, the tooth broke off at the gum line with the broken piece still cemented inside the crown.  Since I don't have a dentist in our new hometown yet (an appointment was made for the Monday after our cruise) I couldn't get in to see anyone about the tooth.  I was, however, able to see my sister-in-law's dentist in Boston, who cemented the crown temporarily and sent me off with a prescription of antibiotics.

Our last night in Boston, we had our little pre-cruise, pre-anniversary party for my in-laws.  The anniversary quilt was presented to them and all the blood (I slashed myself with my rotary cutter during it's construction), sweat and tears were forgotten when I saw the look on my mother-in-law's face.  She was absolutely ecstatic over the quilt!

The thing turned out pretty big.  It's about 80"X80".  My sister-in-law gave me over 150 pictures and I had to whittle it down to just over 100.  It was really hard deciding which ones to take out.  I was so glad to be finished with the thing.  Working in our temporary quarters was not easy.  I had to push the kitchen table up against the wall every time I worked and tidy up after myself whenever we ate.  Two more months to go before me move into our house.

Swallowtail Shawl

On the knitting front, I packed two projects for our time away.  I started a shawl for the airplane and a sock for those in-between times during the cruise.  Airplane projects are always hard for me to choose.  I wanted something more challenging then knitting stockinette in the round and nothing too complicated that I would get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no internet access to help me out.  Since I had spent so much of my time working on the quilt, I also wanted to use stash yarn and a pattern from my limited selection in the apartment.  The Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn Clark was picked and I cast on a few days before our flight.  

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Denigration of the Olympics

Knitters worldwide are up in arms over the US Olympic Committee's cease and desist letter to Ravelry. In the Wednesday letter, the USOC said that “We believe using the name ‘Ravelympics’ for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”

Now come on. How do a bunch of people challenging themselves with new knitting projects and techniques, while cheering on their hometown athletes disrespectful? I get trademark infringement, but such nasty language is uncalled for. Especially when we all have sharp pointy sticks in our hands! Besides, does "ympics" really infringe upon the USOC's trademark on "Olympics"?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Computer Woes

That computer I got the end of last month?  I had to return it.  Apparently, it had some hardware defects.  Right now, I'm typing on my new new computer.  It's the same model.  Hopefully it doesn't have the same hinkey hardware issues and this one will be okay.

I'm almost done with the anniversary quilt.  I ran out of the thread I was using to machine-quilt, but since I'm 90% done with the quilting, I'm attaching the binding until I get the quilting thread later today.  There's over 100 photographs in the quilt and it's about 76"X81".

batik fabrics used in Anniversary Quilt
Not a whole lot of knitting around here, since I'm so focused on the quilt.  I finished the first mismatched knee-sock, and have started another sock.  I'm thinking of knitting a shawl during our family vacation.  We're flying out to Boston (where I'll present the quilt to my in-laws), staying with my sister-in-law for a few days, then we are joining Hubby's entire family on a cruise through Canada.  But before I can even think about this vacation, I have to finish the quilt.  So, back to my sewing machine...