Saturday, January 31, 2009

Peaceful Paradise

My sister and her husband just returned from a two-week trip to Hawaii. Thirteen days (it rained one day) to soak up the warmth of the sunshine, to absorb all of the delicious floral scents, and to feast on fresh fruit. Two full weeks of being surrounded with lush green foliage and hearing the soft murmur of the ocean as its waves lick at the shore.

To say that I am envious is an understatement, yet I am content to view their photographs and dream.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Mitten Weather Ahead

The snow was melting in my yard yesterday, but I was able to finish the mittens in time to get a photo.

I knit Classic Mittens, using size 6 needles and Lion Wool Prints (Ocean Blues) found two years ago in the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby. I like the fit of the mitten even though I unintentionally made one thumb a little longer. I used 3 ounces of yarn (worsted weight) and have 2 ounces remaining. I will probably use the scraps to make a pair of children's socks or mittens for the afghans for Afghans campaign.

No doubt Punxsutawney Phil or Lander Lil will see their shadows next week, so these mittens will get some wear in the six weeks of winter ahead and will undoubtedly see a lot more snow than they did yesterday.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pending Storm

This view is from the farm where I was raised. I have numerous photos taken from this spot, but this one is one of my favorites, and I call it "Pending Storm." The tree on the left was merely a twig planted by my parents when they first moved to the farm. Several years before this photo was taken, that tree was struck by lightning. The tree survived the strike, but it was left with a wound that took many years to heal. Next to the tree was a large propane tank that, fortunately, did not explode.

Nature is a mysterious and wonderful force, one that I respect and admire.

I live in town now, but I miss the open vistas of the farm. I miss seeing the approaching storms.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Needling Question

No matter what size needle a pattern requires, I have it covered. I have at least one of each size in ten and fourteen inch straights and sixteen through forty inch circulars. However, it appears that Size 8 is by far my most popular size.

Tonight I checked all of my needles (only a fraction of them are pictured) as I have them stuffed in bags, in needle cushions, in jars, and in notebooks throughout the house.

The needles shown in front are all the Size 8 needles.
• Knit Picks Option set with four Size 8 points and cables in 16 - 40 inches
• Two pair of 14" aluminum straight needles
• Four pair of 10" aluminum straight needles
• One four-needle set of bamboo double-points
• One four-needle set of aluminum double-points
• Two bamboo 16" circular needles
• Two Knit Picks 16" circular needles
• Three 12" circular needles
• One 29" circular needle

Total Size 8 needles - 18 pair

If you counted your most popular needle size, how many would you have?

Cure for Sports Overload

If you are not a football fan and/or have no desire to watch all the Superbowl hype this weekend, you might turn to your computer for an alternative.

I discovered Hulu during the holidays, and have enjoyed watching full-length movies and some television programs (both old and new) on my laptop. The site is free; however, the videos do include minimal commercials, yet much less than the typical television show.

I plan to escape the seemingly endless football coverage by accessing Hulu. If you aren't a football fan, won't you join me?

Simple Woman's Daybook - late again

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Outside My Window. . . a plastic bag in the tree is trying desperately to free itself from the branches. I know the feeling. For years, I have tried nearly everything to lose weight. Even when I am successful, I fall back into old habits, and the weight returns. This time is no different: I am back to where I was two years ago, and I am furious with myself. The snagged bag in the tree fights on, and I suppose I will too because the freedom from the weight tastes better than any food.

I am thinking. . . it is a good day to stay inside. It's too cold to be out and about.

I am thankful... for my internet buddies in all parts of the world. When I was about 12 or 13, I had a pen pal in Japan, and we corresponded for two or three years. It would be fun to hear from her again, but I wouldn't have a clue where to start.

In the kitchen... the coffee pot is sputtering. I don't usually drink the stuff, but my nephew, who stayed here last night, does. He will take a hot cup with him on his journey, and I will finish drinking the rest.

I am wearing... a new robe. The old one was getting very tattered and worn. I'm a creature of habit, so the new one is the same style.

I am creating... a pair of wool mittens for myself. One mitt is nearly finished.

I am planning... the next issue of the support group newsletter and doing research on the topics I want to feature.

I am reading... Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne.

I am praying... for my phriend, Deb who is struggling with many health issues.

I am hearing... a soft click in the next room: the wall heater's thermostat is doing its job on this cold morning. .

One of my favorite things... the vintage handkerchief collection I inherited from my mother. Last year, I decided to put them to use again and tucked them in my purse and in the pockets of my coats and sweaters. Reaching for one is like connecting with her for a split second.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week. . . rest, read, and knit. Life is good.

A quote worth sharing. . .

"Don't judge each day
by the harvest you reap,
but by the seeds you plant."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson ~

~If you'd like to participate in The Simple Woman's Daybook (each Monday), you can visit The Simple Woman's blog here. To get instructions for participating, click on The Simple Woman's Daybook icon in her sidebar.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Vinegar Hill

Several weeks ago in a Simple Woman's Daybook post, I mentioned reading Vinegar Hill by A. Manette Ansay. The first section of the book was very familiar, and I realized I had previously started the book and not finished it.

Yesterday as I left for my shift at the hospital, I grabbed the book. Knitting was out of the question because my hands ached from my rug-making marathon. Settled behind the desk with the sun streaming in the lobby and the -10 degree air rushing in the doors every time someone entered, I began reading again.

This book fills the reader with a mixture of emotions: anger, sympathy, pity, sorrow, unbelief, hopelessness. Ellen, the main character, is trapped in a loveless marriage, and financial circumstances force Ellen, her husband and their two children to live with her bitter in-laws. Her husband ultimately find a job as a traveling salesman and is absent, even when he is home. Ellen teaches full time, but also must assume the role of caregiver for the aging in-laws in exchange for the roof over her family's head. She endures verbal abuse from the in-laws and denial from her husband, and silently slips into depression. Ellen feels trapped in her circumstances and her marriage. At times I felt like giving Ellen a hug of reassurance; other times, to shake some sense into her.

I wanted to finish this book: I wanted a happy ending for Ellen. I wouldn't exactly call the ending of this book happy, but the author gives a ray of hope. I can live with that.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Read & Release

Do you love to read? Do you want to part with some of your books?

If you answered "Yes" to one or both of those questions, maybe you should consider the "Read & Release" program on

The idea for BookCrossing came to Ron Hornbaker back in March of 2001, as he and his wife Kaori were admiring the site, which tracks disposable cameras loosed into the wild. He already knew about the popularity of (which tracks U.S. currency by serial number), and that got him thinking: what other physical object might people enjoy tracking? A few minutes later, after a glance at his full bookshelf, the idea of tracking books occurred to him. After two hours of research on the Internet, Ron realized, to his surprise, that nothing like BookCrossing had been done on any significant scale. And so they went to work. By 3 A.M. that morning, they had decided on the name (zero hits for "bookcrossing" on Google), registered the domain, and Kaori had sketched the running book logo on a crossing sign. The rest was merely execution.

Over the past 7 years, BookCrossing has continued to grow, and move closer to making the whole world a library: over 5,360,619 books have been released worldwide. It has captured the passion and imagination of over (740,000) people worldwide who to help spread the bounty of books through Read and Release!

Even if you don't want to release some of your own books, you can search for released books in your area. Find the book, register it, read it, and release it again into the wild. It's fun.

I've released 28 books into the wild. Only one person acknowledged finding a book I released, but it hasn't discouraged me from trying again.


Both rugs are tagged and ready to be sent today.

I have made 21 of these beauties in the last four years: five are in my own home. It is satisfying see them underfoot and to know that I made them. I hope these two rugs go to a good home.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Measure for Measure

This blog provides the motivation that I need to keep me on track. I am pleased to post that the rug on the frame at the end of this post is nearly finished.

I am taking a break from the rug for the rest of the evening and will finish it tomorrow. Tonight, I hope to do some knitting.

Thank you for continuing to write comments and for providing the motivation and accountability that I need.

Focus on Success

The woman who is selling my twined rugs in her shop called on January 18th and said she had two left and wanted to have more for her display. Soooo, it was time to bring the rug frame out of moth balls and get some rugs made.

I enjoy making the rugs, but the process is messy. I don't have a craft room; thus, I set up shop in the kitchen. The fibers and strings all over the place really drive me crazy. I keep the vacuum handy, and corral the loose bits at the end of each day, but still the clutter of the frame, the sewing machine, the fabric balls, and the vacuum becomes annoying.

To motivate myself, I am keeping track of the time I spend on the rug and the number of inches that I accomplish during that amount of time. It seems to be working. I started a rug the evening of January 18th and finished it on the 22nd. I listened to Ken Follett's World Without End while twining. The ends still need to be secured within the other twining.

I started another rug on January 23rd, and it is nearly finished. While working on this rug, I listened to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland and will finish it with George Orwell's 1984.

The key to my progress seems to be working in controlled two-hour blocks while being distracted by a good book, and then taking a break from the rug. I am very pleased with the prospect of having two completed rugs within a week.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Utilitarian Knitting

I subscribe to many knitting blogs and knitting magazines that feature finished objects with intricate stitches and patterns. While I admire the lovely lace shawls, cabled gloves and hats, and the airy scarves and the skill that it takes to make them, I prefer to spend my time on what I call "Utilitarian Knitting."

I knit for charities with yarn that was either given to me or recycled. This yarn is a distant cousin of the fibers, used by so many other bloggers, but I doubt that someone in need of a hat, slippers, or blanket is going to examine the fiber content of the items that they receive. Using my resources and simple patterns, the quantity of items produced can be increased.

The need for warm items is far too great to spend time on what I call a fussy pattern. Even the socks that I make for myself are plain, ribbed cuffed socks because I like the fit and the warmth. Have I ever knit any lovely laces patterns? Yes. I've knit lace socks, but I do not like to wear them. I have knit a lace doily and may make more another time, but doilies do little to keep people warm. Presently, my knitting is focused on the basic needs of others.

The finished objects posted on this blog may not be fancy, but they are functional and, hopefully, fill a need somewhere in the world. For now, I will continue working on my Utilitarian Knitting and admire the lovely projects made by other bloggers.

Squaring Off

This month, I declared war on the acrylic yarn in one of my yarn baskets. With size 8 needles my hand, we squared off, literally. As a result, I knit 30 garter-stitch (seven-inch) squares and 5 garter-stitch (twelve-inch) squares for the February All Crafts for Charity project. The squares will be sent to a joiner on Monday along with a triangle garter-stitch shawl that I made earlier.

The yarn basket beside my knitting chair is not empty, but I am declaring a temporary victory.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Got Books?

New carpeting is being installed in the local public library, and it has been closed since January 10th. I thought I had checked out enough audio books to see me through the closure. I didn't calculate very well.

I searched online for some free audio books and found a few good sites. I downloaded Alice in Wonderland from this site just to see if it would work with my iPod Shuffle. Each chapter is read by a different volunteer. Some are really good readers with expressive voices, and some are almost painful to endure. The good readers do make the tedious ones more bearable, though. The readers are from all over the world: Tokyo, New York City, Longmont, CO, Long Beach, CA, and other locations. One woman's accent was definitely British and made Alice's tale more fun.

I have since downloaded Orwell's 1984 from this site, but I haven't started it yet. I hope its reader(s) are consistently enthusiastic and talented.

I haven't tried this site yet, but it appears to have a nice selection, too.

A quick search brought up some other available sites, here, here, and here.

Hopefully, the library will be open on Monday, but until then, I should be able to find some books online to "read."

Off the Shelf

World Without End by Ken Follett and The Alibi Man by Tami Hoag were on my list to read this month.

I have always liked Follett's adventures, but he changed his style and subject matter for Pillars of the Earth and World Without End. The books are set in England during the Middle Ages and contain a great deal of history of architecture, living conditions, and the plague. While these books are interesting, they are different from his other work that I prefer. In the past, I have read these works by Follett: Whiteout, Jackdaws, Dangerous Fortune, Night Over the Water, On the Wings of Eagles, The Man from St, Pertersburg, Eye of the Needle.

Tami Hoag's books are typical "Who Done It" stories and a lighter read that Follett's work. Her main characters are usually strong women, but the plots almost always have a touch of romance, too. I have read several other books by Hoag: Still Waters, Cry Wolf, Dark Paradise, Thin Dark Line, Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dust, Kill the Messenger. I haven't been disappointed with any of them.

If you are looking for a good read, I recommend picking up a book by Tami Hoag or Ken Follett. Both authors weave a good tale.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 19, 2009

Outside My Window. . . the morning sky is showing hints of the approaching dawn. It looks like it is going to be another gorgeous day.

I am thinking. . . about the changes ahead for America and the world. I pray that everyone has the patience and desire to change.

I am thankful... that I live in America where the seemingly impossible is possible.

I am wearing... slacks and a sweater

I am creating... more garter-stitch squares for an All Crafts for Charity project. I have completed quite a few of the squares and used a lot of donated yarn. It is my goal to empty at least one of my yarn baskets by the end of January.

I am planning... to start a twined rug this week. The lady who sells them on consignment has been requesting more rugs.

I am reading... World Without End by Ken Follett. This a sequel to Pillars of the Earth which I read last winter.

I am praying... that President Obama can turn things around in the United States and that all Americans work to fulfill his plans.

I am hearing... the newspaper carrier dropping off the morning paper.

One of my favorite things... is the ipod Shuffle that I just purchased. With this small player, I will be able to listen to more audio books while I knit.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week. . . a) Hospital Auxiliary shift this morning, b) Hospital Auxiliary meeting on Tuesday, c) women's health seminar Tuesday evening, d) webinar on Thursday afternoon.

A quote worth sharing. . .

Life is an adventure.
When our dreams are
our compass, each day
brings new discoveries.

~If you'd like to participate in The Simple Woman's Daybook (each Monday), you can visit The Simple Woman's blog here. To get instructions for participating, click on The Simple Woman's Daybook icon in her sidebar.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Becoming "Real"

This morning, I was thinking about the twists and turns from my life, when the words of the Skin Horse from The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams popped into my mind.

"Real is not how you are made. It's a thing that happens to you. When you are loved for a long, long time, not just to play with, but really loved, then you become real. When you are real, you don't mind being hurt. It doesn't happen all at once. You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't often happen to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out, and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand. Once you are real you can't become unreal again. It lasts for always."

These days, my body is definitely showing signs of wear and tear, I can only hope that I am becoming "real."

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Step from Heaven - a review

This afternoon I finished reading A Step from Heaven by An Na.

I recommend this book to anyone who wants to see love, abuse, and strength through the eyes of a young girl. Na weaves a story that grabs the empathy of the reader who acutely feels her yearning to please a father, blinded by cultural tradition, and who abuses alcohol and those he loves.

Lost Tradition

I don't know why the tradition of sending "Thank You" cards or notes is dying, but it truly is not fashionable or trendy to express gratitude for a gift.

I will be the first to admit that some of the gifts that I have received in my life were not desirable, but I have always appreciated that someone thought of me and took the time to present me with the gift. A written a note of thanks or gratitude is sent within a week of receiving the gift.

I've noticed in the last decade that more and more people (family and friends) don't bother to acknowledge a gift - wedding, shower, birthday, birth, Christmas, and other occasions. Sometimes, if it wasn't for Delivery Confirmation, I wouldn't even know if the gift was received. I find this trend unsettling.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 12, 2009

Outside My Window. . . the wind is roaring. When the first gust hit the house yesterday, it sounded like someone had driven through the side of my house. I don't like getting out in the wind because it takes my breath away, and I don't have that much breath to take away anymore. I usually wear a scarf around my nose and mouth in the wind.

I am thinking. . . of making a short road trip this week if the weather improves.

I am thankful... that I was able to connect with another new PH patient yesterday.

In the kitchen... the dishwasher is scrubbing the dishes with gusto

I am wearing... some slacks and a tee

I am creating... the January newsletter for our PH support group. I've changed the fonts a bit with this issue, and I like the new look.

I am planning... to have the newsletter ready to send to everyone by Friday.

I am reading... A Step from Heaven by An Na

I am praying... that my sister and her husband are safe on their vacation.

I am hearing... the incessant wind

One of my favorite things... my feather pillows. They were made by my mother from the down and feathers of her gray/white geese. Ever so often, I throw them in the dryer on "air" with three new tennis balls to fluff them. I like how the pillows conform to my head and neck. I have a difficult time sleeping with a foam pillow.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week. . . a) dentist appointment Tuesday morning, b) conference call on Tuesday afternoon, c) knitting group Tuesday evening.

A quote worth sharing. . .

There are only two
ways to live your
life. . .one is as
though nothing
is a miracle, and
the other is as
though everything
is a miracle.
~ Albert Einstein ~

~If you'd like to participate in The Simple Woman's Daybook (each Monday), you can visit The Simple Woman's blog here. To get instructions for participating, click on The Simple Woman's Daybook icon in her sidebar.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Gifts in the Mail

Today's mail contained two surprise packages from Irisheyes and Scottish Lamb blogs.

Each blog was collecting hats for the homeless in their area, and I sent the hats I made in November and December out of scrap wool. I did not expect to win any of the prizes they were offering, but what a surprise I had today.

The Gray Icelandic wool is from Kathy at Irisheyes and the stitch markers are from Jean at Scottish Lamb. Jean collected 227 hats: you may recognize my olive green earflap hat in her photo of all the hats. Irisheyes posted a photo of some of the garter-brim hats I sent them, too. They are pictured in the third photo. I like how she displayed the hats she collected.

Thank you, Wool Winder for telling me about the hat drives. It was fun to use my scrap yarn for two good causes and to receive two wonderful surprises in return.

Free-range Carts

Nothing irks me more than to go shopping and find the parking lot filled with free-range carts. In Wyoming, it is common for the wind to blow 30 mph and up to 60 mph, so those loose shopping carts become missiles and slam into vehicles.

Often, the safest place to park is near the cart corrals because very few people use them. The stores have multiple corrals throughout the lots, but they are nearly always empty. Locally, one of the worst lots for the renegade carts is Walmart. People unload the carts and leave them right in the middle of the driving lane, in between cars, and even behind cars. It is crazy, and it's downright rude!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Put Your Left Foot In

These short-cuffed socks are made from scrap wool, sock yarn on size 2 needles. The socks range in size, depending on the amount of yarn.

The yarn from this post has all been used, but I'll be making more socks from the remaining balls of yarn in my scrap basket.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook

Monday, January 5, 2009

Outside My Window. . . the sun is trying to shine through the cold, gray clouds. A hint of pink and rose hug the horizon, but I fear it will be the only sign of the sun today. It is -10, and the cars driving cautiously on the snow-packed street make the snow squeak as they pass. Predicted temperatures are in the 20's today, but it will be late afternoon, if at all, before it is that warm.

I am thinking. . . about organizing my receipts for my taxes. I am usually more organized than I am this year.

I am thankful... for the spreadsheet program on my computer. It makes preparing my taxes easier than the old "shoe box" days.

In the kitchen... the English muffin in the toaster pops up with more energy than I have this morning. I am sluggish and want to go back to bed, but this is my volunteer morning at the hospital, so I spread homemade raspberry jam, a Christmas gift from a knitting friend, on the muffin and think of warmer days.

I am wearing... black pants and turtleneck

I am creating... some garter-stitch blocks for the February All Crafts for Charity project.

I am planning... to do some sewing this week since I restored some order to my sewing room.

I am reading... I haven't done any reading for a couple of weeks. The book has been cast aside.

I am praying... that President Obama can pull politicians from both sides of the aisle together to work for the common good. I pray that all our politicians can put aside their own agendas and do what is right for this country.

I am hearing... the clock radio in my bedroom. Its muffled music is enticing me back to bed, but I am up for the day.

One of my favorite things... the digital frame that my niece gave me for Christmas. She loaded the memory card with photos of her children so I can see them every day. The photos fade and change frequently, giving me glimpses into their lives.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week. . . I have nothing planned for this week, so everyday will bring a surprise and possibly some adventure.

A photo and quote worth sharing. . .

“If your actions inspire others
to dream more,
learn more,
do more,
and become more,
you are a leader.”
~ John Quincy Adams ~

~If you'd like to participate in The Simple Woman's Daybook (each Monday), you can visit The Simple Woman's blog here. To get instructions for participating, click on The Simple Woman's Daybook icon in her sidebar.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Clutter Control

Something about a new year, falling snow, and gusting winds put me in the mood to tackle the mess that has been accumulating in my sewing room (actually a very small spare bedroom). In the winter, I keep the door closed to conserve heat, and the room becomes a catch-all and a total mess.

Friday, I decided it was time to bring some order to the chaos. Some items were determined good candidates for the annual yard sale and quickly taken to the garage where I will price them when it is warmer. I consolidated some of the yarn bins and folded fabric for another bin.

I decided to make some drawstring bags out of some drapery fabric and some twill. I don't have a clue where I got the fabric or why. The bags are easy to make and will be sent to a medical mission coordinator. She will add the shoe strings to the bags.

My two-day sewing binge resulted in 61 bags and used 10 yards of fabric. The room is still a mess, somewhat smaller now, but at least I accomplished something.
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