Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Our first soldier is on the way home!

Since fall of last year, Wes, Ray, Dave and I have written to a soldier in Iraq through Soldier's Angels. Lt. Beverly and her company are on mail stop which means she is coming back in August safe and sound. Yippee!!!

We've just been matched with our second soldier, Jonathon C. Please say a prayer to keep him and all our military safe!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fiber Charities

Knowing the generous of fiber artists, I've compiled a list of charities that are in need of yarn, needles and finished products such as hats, scarves, etc... If you know of a charity I can include, please let me know. I want this to be the biggest list on the internet. Please note that I don't personally know all these (except for the Knit Wits of Georgia and the Knit Your Bit) so investigate the charity before committing your resources. While I'm sure the non-profits listed are legit, I don't want anyone "taken". Also feel free to suggest local charities that need our help.

Knit Wits of Georgia: My very own personal favorite. We are under the umbrella of Barrow County Family Connection which faciliates collaboration of the non-profits, businesses, and government to provide higher quality services to the children and families of Barrow County. I teach knitting in the after school program to fifth graders free of charge. I also supply needles and yarn. We also accept yarn so we can make scarves and hats to distribute to the Soldier's Connection in Loganville, GA. Also if you'd like to donate to the Knit Wits of Georgia, please let me know. I can take paypal.

The Ghana Project: Collecting already knit (or crocheted) 7 inch x 7 inch squares to complete afghans for severely deformed children in Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Ethiopia. Deadline, at this time, is November (see blog).

Head Huggers: They accept knit, crochet and sewed hats for chemo patients.

Knit Your Bit: Sponsored by the WWII museum, scarves are sent in by fiber groups and distributed to our military veterans in VA hospitals, VFW, American Legion, etc.

Warm Up America: Warm Up America! (WUA!) is an organization made up of volunteers who create handmade afghan blankets, clothing and accessories to help those in need.

Caps to the Capital: Knitters and crocheters e-mailed and called Save the Children, asking what they could do to help newborns in need. As a result of their enthusiasm, Save the Children partnered with the Warm Up America! Foundation in July 2006 to launch Knitters and Crocheters for Newborns: Caps to the Capital. These babies need more than caps, though. They need voices, too. The U.S. can lead the way in saving young lives by increasing funding for critical health measures such as antibiotics to fight infections, training for skilled birth attendants and immunizations against tetanus, for mothers and children in developing countries.

Afghans for Afghans: a humanitarian and educational people-to-people project that sends hand-knit and crocheted blankets and sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks to the beleaguered people of Afghanistan.

Project Linus: it is our mission to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer "blanketeers."

The Cutest Kids in the World

My very talented, yet totally crazy sister-in-law, Tina, has been snapping pictures for years. This is Wes and Ray a couple of months ago. Where they got the blond hair and blue eyes remain a mystery.

Friday, July 27, 2007

The Griswalds Wannabes Visit Charleston.

Yes, it's true. Hubby, our two wacky children and I took a tour in the Holy City of the South. It's truly a beautiful, awesome place. Dave wants to move there--on one of the mansions on the Battery. Unfortunately, our income will not allow this. We stayed three days and three nights.

After five hours in a cramped Mazda, we checked into a Quality Inn. Of course, our room was next to a group of teens who made it their lives' mission to annoy the snot out of me.

On Monday, we visited the LaFrance Fire Truck museum and walked the Battery. Wesley's overriding concern was picking up the perfect shale souvenir. Regan was excited to spit into the water. We ate a terrific Italian restuarant called Bocci's.

On Tuesday, after a acid reflux causing breakfast at the hotel, we took a horse-drawn carriage tour. Regan loved the horse, Timmy and totally ignored everything but the horse's rear end. It was off to Folly Beach for an afternoon of sand and sunburning. I managed to put sunblock on everyone but me. My back was the color of Roma tomato. The Folly Beach fishing pier was next. Wesley earned the name "Fish Guts" as he slide his hand onto the pier's nastier souvenirs. That night, we gorged ourselves at Sticky Fingers BBQ. FYI, Wesley's hands were disinfected and washed several times.

The teens/college guys next to us at the hotel threw a party that lasted into the wee hours of the morning. I only fell asleep while someone was having sex or during the burping contest.

Wednesday dawned hot and muggy. Of course, it was the first one spent totally outside. We traveled across the Ravanel Bridge, aka the Funky Bridge as Regan renamed it, to Mount Pleasant to visit Patriot's Point, home of the USS Yorktown, Clagamore, Ingham and Laffey. We also visited the Medal of Honor museum. I am in awe at the bravery of our military.

I highly recommend the North Towne Grill in North Charleston for dining. We ate there Wednesday night. Greek food is so overlooked. If someone told me to sing in public for the spanakopita and Greek potatoes from the NT Grill, I'd be up there warbling and writhing like a bad Madonna imitation.

On Thursday, we boarded a ferry for a tour of Charleston Harbor which was very relaxing. Regan only spit overboard twice.

During the drive back, I had to slip my bra off while on the road. The sunburn on my back made sitting back impossible. Fortunately, I was wearing a tank top which made bra unfastening easy. I told Dave to stop for a bathroom break but not at a truck stop considering my braless and tank top state. Dave spied a Wendy's from the interstate and to his endless and cruel amusement, it was a Wendy's attached to a truck stop. I got out to pee and buy drinks. I immediately broke into a sweat from the heat. Slipped into the truck stop part, because that, of course, was were the toilets and apple juice were, I peed and made made my way to the sink to wash my hands. The air conditioner was working overtime and the bathroom was incredibly chilly. Luckily, I glanced at myself in the mirror and..... What happens to boobs when they get cold? Yep, you guessed--I had a pair of headlights on my chest.

Hunching over like an eighty year old women in a lime green tank, I stood in line with Buck of JD Hunt trucking staring at me.

I am now happily at home, wearing a bra and copious amounts of aloe on my back. Thank you, Sue Woo, for all the recommendations!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Dyeing Yarn One Color in Seven Easy Steps

Thanks to the Guru of Color--Darilee Nelson from Main Street Yarns in Watkinsville. She was the guest speaker at the Knit Wits July Meeting. She showed in great detail and enthusiasm how to dye protein based yarn (wool, alpaca, etc)

Supplies (Once you dye, do not use these for anything else.)
• Pot (pick up very large stewing or bottle warming or Dutch oven pot at Walmart)
• Dye
• Water
• Salt
• Vinegar
• Rubber Gloves
• Face Mask
• Measuring set
• Spatula
• Tongs
• Salad spinner
• Various plastic bowls
• Plastic measuring cup

1. Before beginning, mix your dye stock solution. Using rubber gloves and face mask, mix dye stock. The dye is most dangerous when in powder form. Slowly add 32 oz hot water to 1 tsp dye powder. This is your dye stock. You will not use all of this so store in an airtight labeled container.

2. Soak undyed wool (any animal or protein fiber) loosely bound skein in a sink full of lukewarm water and salt (1 tsp of salt per 100g fiber) for 15-20 minutes. Make sure skeins are fully submerged and any air bubbles are gone.

3. The amount of dye stock solution you will add to you pot will vary depending on the shade of color desired. If you add too much, at some point the fiber will saturate and not hold any more color. For a medium shade use 1oz. dye stock to 2 oz. wool.

4. Fill a pot with new lukewarm water, more salt (1-2 table spoons) and vinegar (equal parts vinegar and water, i.e. one gallon of water and one gallon of vinegar). Add dye solution. Stir to mix dye solution and water mixture.

5. Add wet fiber gently. Do not stir briskly but just enough to get the dyed water into the nooks and crannies of the hank. VERY gently/occasionally continue to stir the pot throughout. This is to prevent dye from settling on the bottom of the pot and making dark places in your fiber.

6. Gradually bring to simmer on stove on low. It is important to raise the temperature of the water and the fiber at the same time. No rapid boiling or heavy stirring. This agitation will felt the fiber. Simmer/steam for 15 minutes or until you’re happy with the color. If your water is clear, all the dye is taken.

7. Place fiber in a bowl and allow to air cool. Rinse and wring it gently out in the sink..

8. Place fiber in “Salad Spinner” to wring it out (or the spin cycle of a washing machine). Pour out water of salad spinner every couple of minutes. When there is no more water coming out of the salad spinner, hang the skeins so they can air dry completely.

Information that I didn’t know until the Guru taught me….

• The color blue sometimes is the hardest color to “take”. It is the last color to be absorbed by fiber. For example if you are dyeing yarn green (yellow and blue), the yellow will be absorbed first and then blue.
• You don’t have to wait 15 minutes. It’s just a guideline. Once your yarn reaches the color you like, take it out to rinse. On the other hand, if the color is not deep enough, add more dye. Once the yarn has absorbed all the dye, the water in the pot will more or less clear again.
• By creating an acidic environment the vinegar acts like a binding agent for the fiber and dye. Salt is a leveling agent helping to disperse the dye evenly throughout the pot.
• Darilee uses www.prochemical.com to buy the powder dye. She used Pro Washfast Acid dyes. Other dyes include jacquard (available at www.knitpicks.com) or Gay Wool. Be sure to wear a face mask to mix the dye powder with water. The powder is potentially toxic if breathed. Once liquid, it is more or less harmless.
• Other dyes like Kool Aid and Wilton Cake Dye are more like stains. The color may fade over time. For example, think when you eat a birthday cake. The icing is colored with Wilton Cake Dye. If you accidentally smear some icing on your shirt but wipe it off, it still leaves a faint stain that will fade over washings.
• To dye cotton, use MX Reactive dye.
• Use rubber gloves. Darilee pointed out that while dye will wash off your skin, it will not wash off your fingernails as your fingernails are protein based—like the fiber you’re dyeing.
• Always keep your yarn labels.
• You don’t have use the stove top for your heat source. You can use crock pots, ovens and microwaves. Just make sure the heat is not too much. If you use the oven, dye in an aluminum pan on low (around 200 degrees F).
• If you want to dye different colors (i.e. one end of the skein red and the other blue), you can suspend one end of the skein on a wooden spoon (like a spit) over the pot of red dye. Then switch to a pot of blue dye and put the undyed part in the blue dye while the red end is suspend by the spoon. Or use Mason jars to drape a little of the fiber in each different colored jar..
• This is different than space dyeing. I’ll post another entry later on Darilee’s Space Dyeing method.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I'm a Pattern of the Day by Daily Knitter!

Today! Wow, it's my first tote. This is so cool! When I checked back at other pattern of the day, my first shawl pattern was earlier this month. Yippee!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Rainy Day Lace Scarf

Yet another simple scarf. It's perfect for a rainy day like the day I made this.

Using size 10 straight needles and two skeins of Mystical Creations yarn (wool/silk blend) in Gray Ghost, cast on 24 stitches

Row 1-5 knit all stitches
Row 6: K1 YO2 to end
Row 7: K all stitches, dropping YO as you go
Row 8: Knit all
Row 9: K1, (YO, K2tog to end), K1
Row 10: Knit
Row 11: Knit

Repeat Rows 6-11 until you use all the yarn or until you reach the length you like.

Knit 5 rows and bind off.

Block lightly to open up the eyelets. Just be careful not to stretch the drop stitch part. Mystical Creation Yarns can also be found on Ebay and this particular yarn is a thick/thin yarn. All of MCY have beautiful colorways.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Screw Nose's Anniversary

It's been almost four years since Wesley (who was two at the time) stuffed a screw up his nose which caused a mad rush to the emergency room. I can still remember it clearly.

The kids were down for a nap and I had just dozed off after watching a rerun of Martha Stewart showing me how to maintain my massive orchard of apple trees when a scream pierced the silence. Wesley was in the living room and blood was gushing out of his nose. At first I didn’t panic because he gets nosebleeds from time to time from his allergies. He was crying and in between the snot and the blood I could not make it out. Finally, he said, “A nail crawled up my nose.”

What? Surely he didn’t say, “nail”. Maybe he said snail. After all, I am not the best housekeeper and a snail can crawl, although very slowly. I looked up his nose half expecting to see the shell of a French entree. Sure enough, there was a metal tip more than have way up his nose. So much for pulling out a snail. I hesitated going in after it because there was a chance of real injury—not because of the blood.

Anyway, I made the mistake of asking how long the nail was and Wesley stretched his fingers as far as they could go. Where did this monstrosity come from? As far as I knew, Dave and I were not in the construction or blacksmithing business. Also, how did this nail get into his nose? Wesley kept insisting that it did indeed rudely crawl up his nose. Despite the fact I taught him that certain things were inanimate, he insisted. I stuffed a kitchen towel in his hand and told him to hold it on his nose to stop the blood. He was concerned about hurting the nail.

After the ER nurse stop laughing, they told me Wesley was going to be fine. They tried to get it out with tweezers despite the fact I told them Wesley would not stand for it. I mean, this kid thinks he’s dying when he gets a paper cut. He could win an award for best actor during a melodramatic tantrum. The nurse medicated Wesley. They declined to medicate me although I believed I needed more than Wesley. In the space of ten minutes, my three year old son was stoned.

“Mommy, Oprah’s dress is soooo green.” He laughed as he rolled around the hospital bed.

“Mommy, hold my hand,” he asked as he threw his foot into my hand.

“Mommy, why do you throw your veggies to the dogs but make me eat them?” Oops

This was getting serious. I know a nail up the nose was not considered an emergency but we had to get out of here before the kid told everyone I color my hair and secretly eat at Sonic for breakfast.

After explaining to Wesley why Oprah was giving away cars, the nurse came in and strapped my son to a papoose looking bed. Any other time, Wesley would have screamed like he was forced to eat squash. This time, he giggled. The doctor opened the door carrying a sinister looking tool designed to pull out railroad spikes. I felt lightheaded just looking at it; Wesley laughed uproariously. This had to be plot of a Mel Brooks movie written by Steven King.

In the space of two seconds, the doctor had pulled out ¼ inch screw. He asked if I wanted to keep it as a memento. I thanked him and asked if I could have the souvenir tee-shirt instead.

Wesley finally admitted that night that the screw did not deliberately go up his nose but he put it up there to see if it would fit. He thought it would not. I almost told him to quit thinking like that. After all, thinking leads to questions; questions lead to touching and touching leads to the Dark Side (or in my case, the emergency room). But I changed my mind—I don’t want my children ever to stop exploring or asking questions. But to be on the safe side, I ran a metal detector through the bedrooms.

Why do I remember this so clearly today you ask? Because I've just pulled an embedded 1/4 inch screw out of my heel after changing Wesley's bed. Screw Nose strikes again.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Yarn Dispenser Directions

My McGyver like husband and supervising son built this for me for Mother's Day to hold my yarn still during projects. I can be knitting with two skeins of yarn at the same time. Below are his directions:

Yarn Dispenser:
I made a yarn dispenser for 2 spools of yarn for my wife. While a bit utilitarian looking, it seems to work. I chose CPVC over wood dowels as the surface is slicker and the yarn does not catch. Essentially, it is a board (pre-finished shelf from a book case that was left over from another project) with galvanized threaded flanges screwed to it. The felt pads are on the bottom to allow it to sit on the coffee table without scratching it (ha, like that matters anymore with my kids around) I took 2 - 8" pieces of CPVC pipe and made one of the following for each flange. The pipe has a 1/2 slip to 1/2 male thread on one end and a CPVC cap on the other. Down on the end above the threaded side I put a chrome flange plate (that thing you see behind the toilet that covers the pipe where it hits the wall). The chrome flange plate acts as a rest for the ball of yarn to sit on and spin freely. The caps allow the yarn to be slipped on to the pipe without catching and act as a stop to keep it from sliding off when she "really gets-a-movin". Since I had so much pipe, I made a couple of extra pipes with the threads and caps. This gives her the ability to have 4 colors queued up to work at any time as she generally has multiple project going at that same time.

Total cost - $9 and it took me about 20 minutes to make.

Materials List:
1 board - any size large enough to support the flanges. I used 1" x 8" x 12"
8 - #8 x 3/4" wood screws
2 - 1/2 threaded galvanized flanges
2 - 1/2 CPVC Male threaded adapters
2 - 1/2 Chrome flanges
2 - 1/2 x 8" CPVC pipe (Home depot made me buy 10 feet)
2 - 1/2 CPVC caps
4 - Felt Pads

Thank you, Weaselboy and Bear! I love you!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Just a picture of my four legged children...

Zoe, aka Sluggo, The Evil One, Brain, relaxes and cools down on our hardwood floor after a hard day of terrorizing people in UPS uniforms.

Zack, aka Lego, Hannibal Lector, Pinky, stares at me in anticipation of me falling down so he can start the Lick-O-Matic on my wrist so it will be tender for his eventual chewing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Top 25 Weird or Otherwise Unknown Things About Me

And these are in no particular order.

25. I like chocolate. Actually, I LOVE chocolate. I would probably mortgage my house for chocolate. Dark chocolate, chocolate with fruit, hot chocolate, chocolate cake, fudge. You name it--I'm the Bubba Gump of Chocolate.

24. I love dogs. Got two of them--an Aussie and a total wack job mutt/collie/thingee. Both are like my four legged children. I only wish I could use them as a tax deduction. Not too fond of cats although I do have two. One was inherited from the previous owners of our house and the other was rescued from a jerk who liked to throw animals out of a speeding car.

23. I love funny movies and cartoons. Especially the classic Scooby Doo cartoons--before they inserted that little monster puppy whose name I refuse to post on my blog. The Far Side by Gary Larson is the best contribution to print media ever. I believe Mel Brooks is a genius and Young Frankenstein has one of the funniest scenes ever shown (FYI--The monster singing Puttin' On the Ritz.)

22. I love Texas and anything about it from history to food to football. You can take the girl out of Texas but you can't take the Texas out of the girl. "Nuff said.

21. Fondling yarn. I know it's illegal about the way I drool over yarn. But there's nothing better than walking into a well stocked yarn store with a couple of hundred dollars skimmed from the grocery budget. I love alpaca and unusual fibers like soy or corn. Also unique fibers that have limited availability are cool.

20. Am a newish knitter (about four years) but am addicted. I became addicted to knitting two years ago after I smashed my wrist into forty pieces and broke my elbow in three places. The PT and surgeon recommended knitting to help with my flexibility. Lace knitting is so pretty and practical for our area. Not a big sweater or socks person but I love scarves, afghans and hats.

19. Bicyclist but not during the summer. Summer heat, ick! I'd rather knit.

18. I've recently lost 50 lbs through an incredible book called "Body for Life". Watch what you eat six days a week and splurge one day. I'm down from a 20 in womens to a 14 in misses. Of course, my splurge is Sonic.

17. My car is a haven for Diet Dr. Pepper cans and Ben 10 action figures. I have a Mommy bag which I carry emergency clothes including a bra and a knitting project if I'm stuck in a parking lot waiting for swim practice to finish.

16. I volunteer waaaaay toooo much. To the point, I almost spread myself too thin. But I figure someone needs to do it and waiting someone else to help or God forbid the government to step in just exacerbates the problem. I mean, come on, look at the government did in public housing. Who actually wants to live there with the government as your landlord?

15. I'm a cradle Catholic. To those who have no idea, this means I've always been Catholic. Four of my aunts and uncles entered religious life and even though I will never be a nun, I try to practice my religion without forcing it on others.

14. I try to give blood every 56 days. The hardest part is not drinking Diet Dr Pepper beforehand but the needle sticking thingee is not so bad. I have one more pint to go to reach my two gallon mark. Thank God, the Red Cross added chocolate to their cantina instead of those horrid Nutter Butters.

13. I got fired for being rude at my first job as a drive through cashier at Dairy Queen in Orange, Texas because the manager overheard tell the cook the lady at the window needs to quit changing her order. That little nerdy manager, George, fired me for that. But I'm not bitter.

12. I have a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from North Georgia College in Dahlonega. I was about to start my MPA but got preggers.

11. Reading books is my second to favorite hobby next to knitting. Mysteries are the best. Julie Kenner is my favorite author. Harry Potter books are wonderful.

10. I'd rather visit the mountains than a beach but I'll take a beach in a pinch. And I love to visit historical sites and cemeteries. Also just an observation--why do the graves of women who bore 18 children without epidurals warrant an itty bitty headstone while the men get humongous mini-Washington Monuments? It just doesn't' seem fair.

9. Thunderstorms are awesome! I love watching a storm roll in while safe in my house. I have played in tropical storms when I was a child (Claudia? in 1979). Looking back, it was such a great idea to go swimming in a ditch in my backyard and that whole tornado warning thing was around. Still, thunderstorms are so cool to watch.

8. My house is a total wreck. I hate housekeeping. Words can't describe how much I hate dusting and washing windows.

7. I can swear in six different languages. French, Spanish, Korean, English, German. Thanks to my Dad who was a career Army guy. And also American Sign Language which is very handy (no pun intended) when quietly insulting a defense attorney while testifying in Juvenile Court during my social worker days.

6. My favorite color is blue. However, my favorite colorways for yarn are soft beach colors like taupe, gray, blue, sage, butter yellow and cream. I don't like harsh reds.

5. I was a Daddy's girl. I wanted to marry my Daddy when I was five. He was a sexist, macho, big guy but he wanted the best for his girls. I had to promise to finish college before I got married so I would not be at the mercy of any guy. He died ten years ago. He never had the opportunity to walk me down the aisle at my wedding or hold his namesake. I miss him every day even though I know he's watching from above arguing with my late aunt Erna about everything. I love you, Dad and you'll be happy to know my husband is still in fear of you.

4. I love tulips. They just make me happy!

3. I love trying different lotions and soaps. I'm bath care junkie and I'm not afraid to admit it. Homespun in Georgia is my favorite line.

2. I have no common sense at times.

1. The most important--my family. My husband and two kids (four if you count the dogs) are the most important people in the world.

I'm in! Secret Pal 11 info

OOOOH!! So exciting! I hope it is as much fun as the Knitters Tea Swap last month.

Several friends told me to let my secret pal know a little about me so in a later post, I'll have the top 25 strange but totally true things I like or things that I do.

OOOH! Still excited--now I have to pee.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Other WIPs finally done!

Okay, well not all of them but my daughter, Ray, very graciously (and with only one bribe of cookies) modeled a couple. The green hat and matching scarf are made from Hobby Lobby's Yarn Bee line. Simple stockinette on hat in the round and garter on the scarf. I personally think the green looks stunning on my little youthful offender.

The other is a shawl made from Fiesta's Rayon Boucle in some color which name escapes my feeble memory. The pattern is free from Main Street Yarns in Watkinsville.

The last is a lace shawl knit from Patons Silverlash in Pink.

Yes, I have been a busy knitter this summer, totally ignoring my household and kitchen remodel.