H is for Haven. In my G post, I mentioned that we had added onto our house several years ago. The main reason for the addition was to provide an apartment for our mentally handicapped son so that he would have a place to live and lead a fairly independent life. By the grace of God and an extremely competent and principled contractor, we were able to fulfill another dream and expand our bedroom. You have to understand that for 18 of the 20 years we have lived in this house, in order for me to walk from my bed to our one bathroom, I had to turn sideways and squeeze in between the dresser and the bed. I always dreamed of having a big bedroom with a private bath, but never thought it would be a possibility. We were told by several contractors that it wasn’t possible to do this in addition to the apartment for our son and still keep within our budget. We had almost given up the idea when we found a contractor who showed us all the areas in which the other contractors were not being exactly “economical” with our money. For instance, all of the other contractors insisted on installing custom made cabinets. Jesse explained that we didn’t need custom made cabinets – he could go down to Home Depot and buy perfectly beautiful cabinets in standard sizes for a quarter of the price. He showed how we could save money by doing all of the painting ourselves. There were numerous other instances where he pointed out that he could economize and still do a quality job, especially if we were willing to invest a little “sweat equity”. So, in addition to the apartment, we achieved our dream of having this beautiful space – thanks to an honest contractor, who, I might add, came in on time (actually a week early) and under budget. Here is my Haven:


I still walk in this room and am filled with delight. I feel such a peace when I enter. I do have to admit, though, that I rarely knit in here. That’s because I usually watch TV while I knit and we absolutely refuse to have a TV in our bedroom – never have and never will have one. It is a refuge from the outside world!

On the knitting front – I finished the Embossed Leaves socks:


I’m not a big fan of the “photo of your own feet”, but these socks must be stretched out on a foot or a sock blocker to show their true beauty. I don’t own any sock blockers, but just happened to have two feet sticking out at the end of my legs, so there you go. These are made of Regia Silk and this yarn gets a perfect 10.0! It is so soft and lovely and a joy to knit. I wish I could afford to make an entire sweater out of this yarn! The pattern gets a 9.5, but only because she has you break the yarn when you start the gussets and reattach to start your row at the gusset side instead of in the middle of the heel. I think this is entirely unnecessary. I did it on one sock and not on the other and I can’t tell the difference.

I got my copy of this in the mail this week.


I read it from cover to cover in two nights and really enjoyed it. At first I was a little disappointed in her patterns – they seemed kind of “plain” when you consider all of the beautiful and complicated things that Wendy knits. But it really got me to thinking about the kind of knitting I do and what happens to the finished items. I tend to do very complicated knits – I love doing them and the elaborate Aran and lace patterns really speak to me. But I really don’t wear them that often. Our weather is fairly moderate and only occasionally gets cold enough for an Aran (wouldn’t you know, though, that today was one one of them – it’s almost May for cryin’ out loud!). And the lace shawls are only worn occasionally because my work attire is slacks and blazers and my home attire is jeans and sweatshirts.

So . . . . in assessing my knitting program, I’m wondering if that’s why socks are appealing to me so much lately. I wear every pair of socks I make (except the ones I give away – wearing those would just be wrong!). So . . . . why don’t I knit more things that I will wear frequently? Because the things that I wear frequently have simple lines and are not elaborate. So . . . . I’m making it a goal to at least once a season (or failing that, at least a couple of times during the year) make something in simple, elegant lines that I will actually wear as part of my wardrobe. My first project is going to be the “Lucy Tank Top” from Wendy’s book. It’s a very simple ribbed tank top with a lace eding on the bottom. I think it will be extremely wearable out of this.

Don’t get me wrong – elaborate Arans and lacey shawls will still be coming off the needles. But I’m going to make an attempt to knit a few things that I will actually wear. Stay tuned!

What a fun weekend! In fact, it was so much fun, the first thing I did when I got home was take a nap. Our trip to the ballet was wonderful. We were escorted backstage and given a full tour, from up in the rafters where the scenery comes down to the basement wardrobe and make up rooms. We were able to watch the dancers receiving their make-up and wigs and preparing for the performance. We then watched the performance from the wings – fascinating! Picture taking was somewhat limited as union rules forbid photographs during dance school (up until 1/2 hour before performance) and during the performance and at other times we were told to ask the dancers before taking any pictures. Interestingly enough – they don’t like having their pictures taken! Go figure – if I looked that good I’d be posing right and left. We did coerce convince one lovely young dancer to pose for us:


And this guy didn’t really seem to mind:


Sadly, we learned that dancers really do starve for their art, but I think this one took it a little too far:


My personal opinion is that the dancers were a little grumpy because their feet hurt! Seriously, we saw one of the principals walking around backstage barefoot and her feet looked horrible. All of that beauty onstage comes at a price. The crew however, was terrific and couldn’t have been nicer. I was surprised at the freedom we were given to wander around during the performance (including walking onstage during scene changes) and they seemed really delighted to have us there (or at least gave a good impression).

Afterwards I relaxed at our hotel and enjoyed the Seattle skyline:


On Friday I dropped in at the little yarn shop near my sister’s house – really just a hole in the wall and nothing to look at from the outside, but I always seem to score some neat yarn there. This trip I got some Austermann Step for me and some lovely Opal for socks for my friend (and wasted no time casting on the Austermann):


The Austermann supposedly has Aloe Vera and Jojoba Oil – not sure how that translates into the wearing (or making my feet any softer – hey, maybe that’s what the ballerinas need), but it has a lovely feel and the colors are wonderful. But for now it’s back to reality – gotta go cook dinner.

What a great Project Spectrum pal I had this month! My package from Michal arrived today. It was Christmas in April, all wrapped up in yellow tissue paper with orange ribbon.


First and foremost – Alpaca Cloud!!! Three skeins of Sunlight – probably the only color I don’t have. It is beautiful and will be earmarked for a shawl. One skein of beautiful yellow Wool of the Andes – so cheerful I think I will just put it on my desk and gaze at it. A beautiful yellow and orange needlecase – handmade by Michal. A rubber ducky (I LOVE rubber duckies), candles and chocolate. Ok, I have to admit that there’s not a whole lot of chocolate in the picture because, well, it was consumed quickly! Thanks Michal – your taste is excellent and the package brought a true ray of sunshine to my day.

I think green is going to be challenging for me. Three green cars are about the only green I own! I think it will be a good exercise in looking around me and seeing colors other than the ones I get just a little too comfortable with – mostly pastels in pink, blue and purple.

Off for fun and games this weekend. If I can post from the Westin, I will!

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Happy Easter to everyone. You wouldn’t know it was spring in the Pacific Northwest. We’re supposed to set a record low temperature today. It’s dark and gloomy and rainy. The upside of this is that one feels perfectly justified in curling up in front of the fire and knitting on warm woolies. The sleeve on FLAK is progressing – almost to the halfway point. Pictures will follow when I reach the cuff.

In the FO column:


More Fun Than Cables socks from Marguerite’s excellent pattern (free on her website – go get it!). The yarn is St. Ives – very nice and beautiful, subtle heathery colors. I’m thinking, though, that I really need to get some sock blockers so you can see the real beauty of these socks. These are for my friend who embroidered the Hummel for me. Of course, I had to cast on another pair immediately. What should it be? I have a tendency to collect sock yarn and then really dither when it comes to making a choice. There was a new yarn to choose from and one I didn’t realize I had:


The Koigu is new. The only thing I’ve ever made from Koigu was a small beaded purse. But I hear Koigu socks are a delight to behold, so I had to snag some. And lately, everywhere I turn in blogland, I hear people talking about Opal. Imagine my surprise when I surfed my stash to find out that I had a skein. I think it had gravitated to the back because I’m not really fond of the colors. But they will make wonderful socks for my friend, who likes bright funky socks.

In the end, the choice was neither of the above. I have a new love:


Forgive the fuzziness. It was either washed out by the flash or fuzzy. This yarn is absolutely incredible! It slides through your fingers like silk. Wait, it IS silk! Actually, it is 55% wool, 20% silk and 25% polyamid. It seems to have the best of all worlds. The wool gives it spring and elasticity, the silk gives it an incredible smooth feel and the nylon will, I hope, contribute to long wear. At this point I don’t care because it is so wonderful to work with that I could knit with it forever. I have Bearfoot in my stash that feels scratchy next to this.

The pattern I’m using is Mona Schmidt’s Embossed Leaves Socks from the Winter ’05 issue of Interweave Knits. This is really the perfect marriage of pattern and yarn. There is a great tubular cast on that utilizes some new techniques I’ve not tried before. One caution – the tubular cast on and twisted rib are extremely elegant, but make for a tight cuff. I was about halfway down the leg when I decided that it was going to be too tight ( and I have skinny ankles) and I didn’t want anything to spoil these socks for me. So I frogged and started over using one size larger needles for the cuff (two would have been ok too) and making a concentrated effort to cast on as loosely as possible while still making a neat edge. I’m much happier with it.

I reached a milestone in my college career this week. I sent off my application for graduation! Don’t get too excited – I still have 4 more semesters to go, since I only go part-time. But it’s the countdown to the end and will generate a checklist so that I make sure everything is done so I can graduate on time. After going to school for almost 10 years, this is exciting. The light at the end of the tunnel.

Not sure if I will get to blogging next week. Studies and work during the week and fun on the weekend. My sister won backstage passes to the Pacific Northwest Ballet at a charity auction. We get tours of the dressing rooms and orchesta and get to watch the ballet (Sleeping Beauty) from the wings with headsets so we can hear all of the dancer’s cues. Afterwards we head on over to the Westin (think four star) where my sister has reserved us a room. She’s going to volunteer at another charity auction and she invited me along and even offered me an evening dress to wear (it’s very formal). But that’s not really my cup of tea, so I’m going to enjoy the room and may even splurge on room service. I’ll take my laptop and if they have free wireless connection – you’ll hear from me.

G is for Garage. If you had ever told me I’d be in love with a garage, I would have thought you were crazy. You see, for 20 years in this house, we didn’t have one. When we moved in we decided to make the 1 1/2 car garage a shop for my husband and a laundry room for me. So, our cars were always parked outside. About three years ago we did a major remodel on the house. We doubled the size of our miniscule bedroom (for 20 years I had to turn sideways to get from my bed to the door!), added a bathroom (after all that time with only one bathroom, this was a REAL luxury), and added a small one-bedroom apartment for our mentally handicapped son. This last was the real reason for the project, the rest was gravy! The garage was kind of necessary for aesthetics because of the apartment, but has become one of my favorite things about the remodel. In our cool, wet climate it is so nice to bring in the groceries out of the rain. And no more scraping ice on cold mornings in the winter. The best part, though, is when people start talking about how their garages are so full of stuff they can’t even get their cars in. I love to boast that we are probably the only people in town with a two car garage with three cars in it! See?


G is also for green. As you can see, all three of our cars are green. Don’t ask me why – it just happened. We bought my husband’s truck first and green was the only color on the lot in the style and year that he wanted. When I ordered my Mini Cooper, we deliberately chose British Racing Green because every other Mini we had seen was blue (my first choice) and we wanted something different. It just so happened that when Bill found the classic Mini that was just what he was looking for – it was green too. So, we have a matching set:


On the knitting front, lots of progress, but not much to take photos of. I’m plugging away on FLAK and still have a little to go on the front before I can start the sleeves.

I’ve finished one More Fun Than Cables sock for my friend, but have promised not to post pictures of single socks – it’s two or nothing to head off the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. I haven’t touched Peacock Feathers in several weeks. However, lots of studying was done this week. I got a great score on my observation assignment (30 out of 30!) and am just waiting for my grade on the exam, but I think I did well. The class is on Early Childhood Development and I am loving reading about the stage that Izzy is in now. Oh yes – she is WALKING! She decided to wait until a couple of weeks after we left, but she decided the world is much more accesible off the floor and she has taken off. Watch out world!

And, here to distract you from the fact that I have posted no knitting photos is a cute dog photo:


Hester loves to sleep this way. I think she hopes someone will come along and scratch her tummy. And someone usually does.

Although I have no hope of catching up to Marguerite on FLAK, I’m giving it my best shot. I’ve finished the back down to the armholes and have started on the front:


I give this knit a definite “thumbs up”. The yarn is a perfect match, the pattern is complex enough to be interesting, but not so complex that you can’t watch TV and, well, it’s just gorgeous! The only down side is that I’ll probably complete it in the middle of summer when it will be too hot to wear.

Look at what my friend has done for me:


She has an embroidery machine and got the program for these cute Hummels. There is another one of a single little girl knitting that she is also going to do. In return, I am knitting her a pair of socks. She already owns at least three pairs of my hand knit socks and is a very grateful recipient. She loves them and wears them to work all of the time. She does the most beautiful designs on her embroidery machine, so I see more exchanges in the future.

We went to Dinners Ready on Friday and the verdict is: Terrific! I was very impressed with their operation. The facility was spotlessly clean and there was great attention paid to cleanliness while we prepared our meals. They had everything set up with my name on it. We had ordered 8 meals, but since they each serve 4-6 people, we wanted to split them up into 16 meals for two. No problem – each station had instructions on how to do that. Working together, it took me and my husband only about an hour to put everything together and the staff was very helpful when we had questions. Of course, we had to have one of the meals that night. Our choice – Pork Chops with apples and oven roasted Rosemary potatoes. I added some fresh asparagus. It was delicious! Certainly as good as most restaurant meals for a cost of about $5.00 each. They also gave us a freezer check off list to post so that we can keep track of what we use. We rate each meal and take it back on our next visit so they know what recipes people like the best. Then one month of the year they will have a “Customer’s Favorites” month with all of the best liked selections. I’ll keep you posted on our other meals.