Sunday, January 31, 2010

Favorite Things: Hotel Soap

Hi,

Having a child has made me appreciate simple things. Mitchell likes soap and lotion. When I travel, I like to bring him something back, and I have found that one of the most appreciated tokens is the free soap or lotion that the hotel provides.

Last week, I attended a conference in the LA area. The conference booked rooms at the Four Seasons, WestLake Village, for a reduced rate (lower than most local hotels' regular rates). I felt a certain guilty pleasure at staying there, but it was less expensive... I've never stayed at a Four Seasons, before, and I lapped up the luxury. I don't suppose that's what they mean when they say, "The lap of luxury."


Four Seasons Westake Village

Did you notice that the logo looks like the "Tree of Life" Fair Isle knitting pattern? Does everyone see knitting patterns everywhere, or is it just me?

I secreted away the soaps every day, and they always gave me more, so I got three day's worth of really fancy French soap. The bath soap is verbena-scented, and the facial soap is milk-scented (which means, "plain," I think!) The verbena one really kicks a punch, and Mitchell liked it a lot.


I had an early morning flight on Friday, so I spent the last night at a hotel near the airport, the Embassy Suites. It is a nice hotel, too. Their soap is by a company called, "Bloom," and it is "Rosemary Infused." It demands happiness. The front of it actually states, "Smile now."


I found the soap dish at a local antique show at the Belleville Fair Grounds. We don't make it down there very often, but there are often good finds. Chris' parents like to go there, and they got Mitchell some old cap guns with a holster, which they gave him for Christmas.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Digital Photo Frames from CottageArts.net

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Serpentine Sock

Hi,

I combined the Serpentine Sock pattern (Ravelry Link) from "Socks From The Toe Up," with instructions from "Formula Toe Up Sock For All Sizes," (Ravelry Link) for the heel.


With Fleece Artist Somoko yarn, I had an in-between gauge, and I used 56 stitches around (8 repeats of seven stitch pattern), which is an unusual number of stitches for a sock. I used the Formula Toe Up instructions for working the heel (N=28).

I like the Fleece Artist Somoko (colorway, "Piñata"), though you can really see a difference in the color distribution between the socks. One has more of the blue background color...

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Going Rogue"

Hi,

I bought Sarah Palin’s book, “Going Rogue,”(1) for Chris for Christmas. As he was reading it, he mentioned highlights to me, and I was eager to read it by the time he was done. His assessment was basically:

1) The writing was great.
2) He likes Palin even better than before.
3) His general comment was, “It wasn’t very presidential.”

Hmmm. I asked him what he meant by it not being presidential, and he said that Reagan or Bush would never write such a thing. Well… so? She is different from anybody else. That’s part of what I like about her.

So, I read it myself, a few pages at a time at bedtime. It is hard to put down. I enjoyed the writing and stories very much, and I found her to be an impressive governor. I had a few general twinges of discomfort that led me to sort of understand what Chris may have meant by “not presidential,” though I wouldn’t have put it that way. In general, I thought she, “took no prisoners.” In some sense, it comes across as pointing fingers. On the other hand, I believe that is the very point. The book was her chance to answer back to criticism she received, particularly during the VP run. There seems to be some sense of “dignity” involved in not answering back, and maybe folks will perceive some “tattle tale” or "sour grapes" aspect of the book. For example, I thought she went on for far too many pages about what a pain Katie Couric was. I think we are taught from a young age not to blame other people for things going badly, and so speaking out about shenanigans has a tendancy to come off sounding petty. Why is it that we are not allowed to speak in our own defense? Who else will? One of our greatest presidents of all time, Abraham Lincoln, is known for answering back. (2) When Stephen Douglas criticized him for being a grocery keeper who sold cigars and whiskey, Lincoln fired back in one of his next speeches, “What Mr. Douglas has said is true enough…but I remember in those days that Mr. Douglas was one of my best customers.” And he could have left it there, but he went on to say, “Many a time I have stood on one side of the counter and sold whiskey to Mr. Douglas on the other side, but the difference between us now is this: I have left my side of the counter, but Mr. Douglas still sticks to his as tenaciously as ever.”

The one thing that left me thinking that she lacked leadership and will was the way she handled “headquarters” during the national campaign. I can only imagine that being the VP candidate is a very “controlled” position at the best of times, and mainly involves being relegated to the back seat. I’m sure VP candidates are under a lot of pressure not to “interfere” with the main candidate’s agenda, message, image, and spotlight. She certainly stole the spotlight! The thing that bothered me was that “headquarters” issued statements in her name. The first infraction she mentions is her “response” to the leaking of her daughter’s pregnancy. They drafted a statement, she red-lined it, and then they issued it without her redlines. Her response in the book is, “Whoever ‘headquarters’ was, they were firmly in charge. And if they weren’t going to let me speak my heart and mind even about an intimate issue affecting my family, what would they let me speak to?”

That really bothers me. It bothers me that they did it, and it bothers me that she let them do it. I’m not sure what I think she should have done to either prevent it or respond to it. Certainly, issuing an, “I didn’t say that,” press statement would have been extremely messy and not worth it. She says she talked to staff and was told to stick to the script. It is hard to imagine being in her shoes, and I'm sure it is "easier said than done," but it seems like a time to draw a line. The person who made that call was either McCain himself, or it wasn’t. If it wasn’t, then what is a VP candidate doing letting some campaign staffer write her press statements? And if it was McCain himself, then I think it called for a little chat with her running mate about where lines would be drawn. Either way, a VP candidate shouldn’t be letting ANYBODY issue statements in her name (especially when she has already disapproved the wording)!

However, that is the extent of my criticism, and I have to admit that I assume it is difficult to be part of the “machine” of a campaign, especially as the VP. The staff probably has a lot of “input,” shall we say, in what the presidential candidate’s press statements say, let alone the VP. So while that bothered me, it doesn’t keep me from liking her. I like her a lot. By the way, I think she got treated really poorly by the “party” in many ways, including being charged $50,000 in legal fees for her “vetting,” retroactively after the election. She asked them about it, and they said they would have covered it if McCain had won. That seems corrupt to me. Either the vetting is something the party covers, or it isn't.

Things I like about Sarah Palin:

1) She reviewed every line of the Alaskan budget and cut out pork, line by line. Woo hoo! This included things like $43,000 to landscape a grade school because it had some dead shrubs, all the way to a congressman’s friend’s suicide memorial. I can’t believe the things that people put in there. I wish someone with scruples had reviewed the national “stimulus package,” or the national budget. Pelosi said there were “no earmarks” in the stimulus package, but I get the strong impression that it is nothing BUT earmarks. It looks like someone said, “We’re going to spend. Get out your Christmas lists,” and everybody did. Outrageous. Someone like Palin would be a blast of fresh air to a completely bogus spending trend in Washington.

2) She cut pork that directly affected her and her family, too, such as getting rid of the governor's jet and reducing staff at the governor's house, such as the chef. (Ironically, the one "ethics" complaint on which she "settled" was travel expenses for trips where her children attended as official invitees. I suppose that if she had kept her predecessor's jet, that wouldn't have been an issue.)

3) She forced EXXON to drill on land that they had been maneuvering to hold in limbo for thirty years.

4) She re-vamped the system for splitting oil profits, bringing more money returned to Alaskans and incentivising oil companies to explore and expand… leading to record profits for them, too. Talk about win-win!

5) She formulated a plan for the gas pipeline as a private project, the largest in North American history. She finds ways to get things done… without making corrupt deals. I’m extremely impressed.

6) She’s a good mom. She takes some media hits on this that seem beyond unfair. I’m sure we all have our opinions and assessments of what we see... but how much could we possibly really know? The fact that her oldest daughter had a child as a teenager, out of wedlock, is a point that folks like to pick on. That’s life! Her daughter also finished high school and is working to put herself through college at the same time she raises her son. I don’t find this to be a point to criticize, but it really isn’t any of our business, anyway. I appreciate a point Sarah made in the book, “Let’s debate ideas. Let’s argue about legislation and policy. Let’s talk about political philosophy. But leave my children alone.” Well said! The problem her opponents have is that they can't win debates with Sarah on political philosophy.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

(1) Palin, Sarah, “Going Rogue, An American Life,” HarperCollins Publishers, 2009.
(2) Gross, Anthony, “The Wit and Wisdom of Abraham Lincoln,” Fall River Press, 1994.

Sudsasaurus

Hi,

Mitchell likes to take various toys into the bath.



One of his Pet Shop pets is a dinosaur.



After getting him all covered with bubbles, Mitchell called him a Sudsasaurus. I thought that was pretty clever!

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Melody Sock

Hi,

I took a break from Fair Isle to finish up some socks I started in December. The yarn is Jojoland Melody, which is a little bit finer gauge than most of what I use. Ironically, I had a size larger needle than normal because I was on travel with just one set of needles... which were larger than normal because I was working with my homespun yarn. After finishing my homespun socks, I found a local yarn store. (Oak Harbor, WA), and I found the Melody. I was astonished at how fine it was when I started using it. Because of the larger (size 2) needles, I reduced the number of stitches, and with the thinner yarn, it worked up at a looser stitch gauge. They ended up fitting a bit snugger than most of my socks, but they work.



The stitch pattern is "Van Dyke," from "Socks From The Toe Up." I had already made one pair with the pattern, and it is easy to modify the number of stitches, and I could work it out without having the book with me in WA.

I also used a gusset heel instead of a flap heel. It doesn't seem as sturdy. We'll see. I'm not sure I'm willing to darn socks...

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Girl Cow


Hi,

Mitchell still enjoys his Playmobile figures. He asked specifically for a Playmobile sperm whale when he visited Santa last November. Together with the Bat Cave, Santa had very specific requests (which were met).


"This is a girl cow. See?"


The fairy is attempting to tame the buffalo.


Buffalo: 1. Fairy: 0.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Sunday, January 10, 2010

EZ's Green Sweater

Hi,

Have you seen the articles on Elizabeth Zimmermann's "Green Sweater?"

Last year, a lot of hubbub occurred over this sweater. It was an unknown design, knitted by EZ for her goddaughter, and worn for three generations. It was starting to wear (understandably), and the owner took it to someone to try to have it copied. Well, the owner wrote an article, "The Tale of the Green Sweater," about it (on Twist Collective), and the original was sent to Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed to photograph (pictures on Brooklyn Tweed, posted 9.15.2009), and there was so much buzz that School House Press (run by Meg Swansen, EZ's daughter) published a pattern. I've got mine!

The copy used Berocco's Ultra Alpaca, in a similar heathery green called Peat Mix, and School House Press has also had a run of the original wool, which is available, now, though perhaps not indefinitely. They also offer kits in both yarns. I've elected to use the Ultra Alpaca, but in a different colorway. It is called Blueberry Mix, mostly blue with purple heathering. Gorgeous!




The sweater uses steeks, again, so my current fumbling around with the Christmas Lights Cardigan will give me some good practice.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Christmas Lights Cardigan - Reinforcing Steeks

Hi,

I finished knitting the body of the cardigan, and I'm reinforcing the steeks, now. Chris saw this and gave me a disgusted look and said, "Is that the edging?" No. It isn't the edging. This green crochet will reinforce the cut steek and be turned to the inside. Just be patient!

I'm anxious to try the sleeves. That means I have to get my scissors out and get cutting...

Here's a close up of the crochet reinforcing. Five stitches to the left and right, you can see the "edge" stitch, almost always in green, a column of stitches that defines the edge of the steek. The bands (or sleeves) will be "picked up" at that column of stitches. It will be cut between the columns of crochet, and the five stitches between the cut and the pick up will be turned to the inside as a facing. (It gets sewn down... or whipped down, if you prefer. Ha!)

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Christmas Stuff Put Away

Hi,

Well, it may make perfect sense to everybody else, but I'm surprised and oddly pleased to announce we put away our Christmas things, today.


The odd thing about it is that we have had them up since the first weekend in November in 2008. Last year, whenever I mentioned putting them up, Mitchell would say he wanted them to stay out. It was just enough of an excuse to keep me from dragging the boxes out of the basement and doing the chore. By the time summer rolled around, we used the excuse that it was already closer to "next Christmas" than to "last Christmas," and we knew the stuff was up for the year.



So, I tried to not allow any procrastination, this year. Mitchell initially said he wanted to leave them out, but he didn't protest after I really got going. After all, now he has another little space for toys! (Much needed...)
Maybe sometime soon I can take the baby-proofing padding off the edge of the hearth bricks...

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Favorite Things: Garden Fairy

Hi,

The garden fairy in my front yard always makes me smile. I have many yard ornaments, most of which are frogs, but the fairy always makes me take a second glance and feel a weird sense of rightness. I'm not sure why. It doesn't have a particular story behind it. I saw her on a "gardening supplies mission" at Wal-Mart, and just grabbed her on a whim. It was during the period where my mom and I were doing a lot of landscaping on the house, in the first 2-3 years of the Millennium. (That sounds funny, doesn't it?) Anyway, I normally just purchase frog things for the garden, but this fairy struck me in some way, and I recall just grabbing her without even really stopping my momentum as I walked by. I think my mom even made a comment along the line of, "That isn't a frog."


She sits in the front garden on the northwest side of the house, stuck around the corner of the garage such that she only gets sun in the late afternoon. She faces the sun at that time of day. I don't recall giving that any thought at the time I put her there, but she's at an angle to the walk, almost like she's waiting for the sun to peak around the corner.


That's a nest of baby birds she's holding. It seems like a weird scale. She must be a model of a six foot fairy. Nevertheless, she always makes me smile. I should walk in the front door more often.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Friday, January 1, 2010

Mitchell's First Movie Outing

Hi,

We went to see a matinee of The Princess and The Frog, today. Mitchell says he didn't like the movie, but I think he did. Must be a boy thing.

We got into the theater 15 minutes early, and Mitchell went to greet the few people that were there. Then, he greeted each person that came in. When a mom and daughter sat in front of us, he went around and sat by the girl and asked her what she was drinking. She was about Mitchell's age. Her mom said, "I thought I wouldn't have to deal with this for a few more years."

He's not shy.

Happy Knitting,
Lisa Kay

Happy New Year!

One of my many 2009 fiber indulgences was a year-long monthly club of "Cuckoobatts" from Art Club. Whenever they came in the mail, it made my day. I put together a 2009 collage of the monthly batts. They are arranged in monthly order, right to left, then top down. December was called, "Santa Baby." Very cute. The "Halloween" looking colors came in the months before and after October. :)



There isn't going to a be a monthly club this year, at least not right away. (I can understand taking a break.) But you can buy individual fibers at the etsy link above.

Also, I'm set to make some of my own, because this is what Santa brought for Christmas:


Happy Carding and Spinning!
Lisa Kay