Sunday, January 4, 2009

Accomplishments of 2008

My one charitable donation this year was to "Knit One, Save One", caps for preemies and babies in countries less fortunate that our own. Left to right (top row) - Knit Picks Sport Shine cap crocheted by Liz Power (Scotland), fancy knit cap for a boy and fancy knit cupcake cap for a girl by the talented Mrs. Carol Olstad (NJ). Left to right (bottom row) - simply acrylic ruffle cap for girl and Knit Picks Sport Shine cap for boy crocheted both crocheted by me. Thanks everyone - we did some good in 2008, let's do it again in 2009.

January 2008: An Araucania cotton half glove for mom's arthritic hands.

January 2008: Following a second knee surgery, I was home with time on my hands. I'd never crocheted mittens, tried to follow the pattern and found I couldn't. So I reverse engineered them and came up with these. Made from a faux mohair, they are a bit too big, but it was the point of the mittens and not the actual fit of them which mattered. Washing them in hot water will solve everything.

Summer 2008: Bored with a simple single color baby blanket for my baby baskets, I created this afghan. An accidental mixing of geometric shapes. It is made from Lion Brand New Cotton Ease - 50% cotton/50% Acrylic and 100% machine washable and dryable. A new mother's joy.

Here are some more of Karen's Crocheted Creations that made me proud this year:

The lovely Mrs. Laura Crane in a violet mohair scarf (Ruffles will be added for the spring). It is made from a mohair blend which is very light and gives it a look of gossamer.

Alpaca scarf and hat made specifically for Shamika's mom as a Christmas present - doesn't she look happy? This is made from Elsebeth Lavold Chunky AL alpaca.

My first baby sweater - didn't think I could do it - and it accidentally has no seams. This was made for Shamika & Ron Burden's first son Cam'Ron, born November 2008. Its made out of Araucania cotton.

July 2008: Ruffle scarf made from SouthWest Trading Company Soy.

My last project for 2008 was for myself. I first purchased the Classic Elite Nikki yarn (100% wool) in Greenport, NY on a wine tasting weekend with friends. While it rained the first night we were there, I nursed a swollen knee and crocheted myself a hat. I fell in love with the yarn but was unable to find it for six months. Then I found out that Classic Elite renamed it Desert, made it softer/fuzzier. This hat will match ALL of my coats/jackets for the winter/spring. And I have enough yarn left to make a small scarf, thinking of a matching Victoria collar with buttons. Hmmm...

A moment of Impishness over New Year's Weekend. I had just finished winding a ball of black wool and these were the ties around the hank. Felix was sleeping so peacefully, I was able to wrap him like a Christmas present. I was later told he flung the tie off his tail, ripped one off his foot and struggled with the other til mom intervened.

So for 2009, I would like to branch out my crocheting, learn some new stitches, make a serious dent in my "stash", STOP buying yarn (yeah right, that's gonna happen!!) and simply enjoy myself. Along the way I want to learn to knit, but I'm having too much fun crocheting right now to stop.

Sidebar .. Pause for Reflection

Maxx and his littermate, the late great Bogey (on the right). Maxx had been very lonely for the past 5.5 years without his brother Bogey who died suddenly the day that Lance Armstrong won his 3rd (?) straight Tour de France victory. I didn't know how heavily he mourned until we brought the Odd Couple - Felix & Oscar - into the apartment.

Maxx was renamed, Mac Daddy, because his paternal instincts kicked in immediately (well in about a day). Felix & Oscar follow Maxx everywhere, like he is their beacon. It's pretty funny.
A couple of days ago, I got this shot. Kinda creepy because for a split second I didn't know who was Maxx and who was Felix - hard to believe Felix is only 7 months old.
Maxx no longer howls in the apartment all night long. He no longer wakes us up 4 times a night. He sleeps pretty much til 3 or 4a, then wants his snack and goes back to sleep. We (mom & I) are not falling into this pattern with the Odd Couple. Maxx is fed separately and the kittens are left to wonder what is going on. Even if Maxx lives to be 20, I will not be awakened by Felix or Oscar in the middle of the night.
Other posthumous notations here are:
Sebastian, the feral Turkish Van from Texas, now living in Lincolnton, NC with his bipeds The Paris Family. I used to cat sit for him when they lived in Hoboken.

Nova on the left was rescued when she was 3 days old by my mom. Our downstairs neighbors at the time heard that a neighborhood cat gave birth to kittens under the house and as cat haters, they call the Humane Society to come get them. Of course, the buffoons frightened the mother cat away, so these kittens would likely have died. Nova had a brother, mom could only get 2 before the animal control officer threatened her. Nova and her brother were bottle fed by my mom and nursed into kittendom by her and my late cat Topie. At 8 wks I adopted out Nova's brother to a family with an autistic boy. When he was given the cat, the boy came out of his protective shell and started talking. We gave Nova to my friend Liz something like 13 years ago? Anyway, Liz lives in Scotland now, so Nova's a traveller. The cat on her right is Clara, adopted from a shelter in NJ, Liz was convinced the kitten was male and named him Clarence. Upon a visit to the vet for neutering, she was told she had to spay Clarence, because he was a "she". So now her name is Clara.
I love stories like these. Got any to share?
Happy New Year!!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Maxx is Home

Maxx is home. He is eating and drinking, but not heartily as before. I am very troubled by the fact that Maxx is hissing (and baring teeth) at KC. They are the best of friends and have been for 5 years. Maxx is not intentionally going after him, but when KC goes up to him to say hello or initiate play, Maxx turns into Feral Cat from Hell. I have no idea why he's being so mean to his pal. I understood him hissing at KC when he wasn't feeling well, but he's better now. He's aloof, sleeping in my mom's bed all day and only coming out to eat and use the litter box. Very strange ... someone stole my cat's soul.

Thursday, December 25, 2008


Unfinished Pie
Finished Pie

Merry Christmas everybody. Mom and I had a pretty good day today. Especially after the call from the vet saying that our Maxx was doing better. When we left him at the vet last night he was in very bad shape, dehydrated, lethargic and he hadn't eaten in almost 2 days. Its tough not to have him home and despite 2 kittens and an active Cairn, there is an emptyness to the house. We hope to have him home by Saturday.

Mom & I made an apple pie early this afternoon, I can't wait to dig in - 10 MacIntosh Apples and lots of cinnamonny goodness. Now there is a turkey in the oven. Dinner will be at 7p, pie at 7:10p - hahaha.


Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sheep. Snow. Solstice.


Karen smiling at a future hat and scarf

Logo on the Farm Truck

Angora lambs (is that right?, I never asked)

What a great day!! Mom & I went up to the Hudson Valley Fiber Farm to join in the Winter Solstice Celebration and meet Susan Gibbs (owner) and Erin O'Donnell (farm manager) and other similary yarn-minded individuals such as myself.

House - rear view

(To those of you who have absolutely no clue what I'm talking about - click on this link.- I have to thank my friend Carol Olstad for forwarding an email from our colleage Maria Cameron with the link for the Martha's Vineyard Fiber Farm, a Community Sponsored Agriculture - Yarn CSA - and while all the shares for MVFF were sold out, I was lucky and very happy to discover a second farm in the Hudson Valley. I am now a happy shareholder with my mom.)

Semi frozen pond

Ewes and lambs
The drive up was interesting given Old Man Winter's one-two punch of a wee winter storm on Friday. Though West New York, NJ only got 3.5 inches of snow, it felt like Hopewell Junction got 2 feet of snow. In all actuality it was probably about 8-10 inches, but I'm a New Yawka, I think BIG. On an otherwise uneventful drive, coming off the ramp from the Taconic to Mill River Road (?), the brakes on my oh so reliable Subaru Outback (aka Chuck) locked up and we went sailing through the deserted (thank heavens) intersection and straight up the on ramp before they engaged and we came to a full stop. I did notice the SUV out of the corner of my eye on the right hand side of the road and YEAH! to him for being able to stop or I might be writing this with my leg or other body part in a cast. Breaking all driving rules, I reversed off the on ramp and back on to Mill River Road. Again, the roads were deserted. When mom saw the decline of the road, her signature sharp intake of breath and her slow reach for the door grip made me stop and assure her we would be fine. Of course, I was apprehensive on the inside, but I didn't want her to know that. Long story short, we made it. When I saw all the snow I wanted to drop to the ground and make a snow angel, but I had to help mom get up to the house. According to the temp gauge in Chuck, it was only 19 degrees. But I didn't feel cold. The mountain cold is so much different that NYC cold. Its not damp, it doesn't go through you the way it does in the city. People say its because we are near water. I think it's the mountain elevation.

4 sisters

We walked all the way around the house, saw the guys building a bonfire. I walked up the back porch steps and was told to go around the front and through the mud entrance. We took off our boots, shed our puffy coats and were instantly welcomed by Susan Gibbs. I introduced myself and my mom and mentioned the apple pie. Susan said she'd heard about the apple pie. Gulp, hope it tastes good to them. I know I LOVE my mom's apple pie better than any desert in the whole wide world. Susan steered us into the house and over to the food - meatballs, macaroni, fresh hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Seems like everyone brought desert. I had one of the little snowmen with gumball ears. Delicious.

We chatted with the other guests a bit and then I asked Susan where all the sheep were hiding. She took a group up to her little hill corral to see the new ewes and the babies (lambs, wee sheep, whatever you want to call them). What fun?! I love the outdoors, I love the mountains and I love animals. I was probably grinning like a 5 year old. The adult sheep were wearing coats and the kids were milling around, some of them in their protective dome shelters, nice and warm standing on hay. I took a bunch of pictures which I will attempt to post here.

After hangin with the livestock, we walked down to the bonfire which was in full and magnificent blaze. I took some more pictures. I roasted 2 marshmallows for me and mom and tried not to get too close so my highly combustible puffy coat wouldn't go up like a Roman candle. Susan took my picture by the fire and was kind enough to post it on her blog - thanks Susan!!! Glad you liked the pie.

Mom negotiating the snow

It was getting late and we had a 2 hour drive ahead of us, so I said my goodbyes to the folks outside. I purchased some soft snuggly yarn, got a cup of hot apple cider, talked to Susan about coming up to the MVFF on April 18th for shearing (?), I just don't recall what she said, I was so excited, my brain shut down. Mom and I made it home incident free in 1hr45mins. I am very much looking forward to following Susan's blog and upkeeping my own.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Blog Virgin

I'm guessing that most of you who will read this know me. So here ya go - my very own blog created on Sunday, December 14th at 5:00p. Might be a momentous date someday - who knows.
My mom taught me to crochet when I was around 8 years old. I never made anything worth mentioning and put down the hook for a lot of years. Now at 43, I like to say I've been crocheting my whole life, but really I've only been serious about it for the past couple of years. I was lucky enough to discover a friend at work with a similar passion for wound animal thread such as myself. She knits the most amazing things. She can also read and re-write a pattern, where I stumble to visualize what the finished product will look like. So, I just don't read patterns, I look at the finished product and recreate it. This drives my mother insane, but it works.
I've been crocheting baby blankets since high school and building baskets for new mommy's or expectant parents. I've since branched out to baby afghans and baby hats. The Ladder Shawl at the top of this page is one of my greatest accomplishments. The first and only time I followed a pattern and created a finished product. Though it wasn't the first one I made (need to find that photo), I'm very proud of that shawl and the person who made it.
Soon I was making mittens and scarves with different stitches and hats. I branched out from the simple acrylic yarn from the Rag Shop to more exotic yarns by Noro and Blue Heron.
I enjoy surfing yarn websites. A relaxing day for me is one spent sitting in a chair in the sun and crocheting all day. I have turned into such a yarn geek that everytime I go on vacation (Scotland included) I seek out a yarn store. I now have enough of a stash to start my own yarn store. But for the moment, I must remain gainfully employed in order to support my addictions
Please enjoy my blog, I promise to add to it at least once a week!