The Eve of Christmas Eve

First off, there’s a little seasonal Meme, courtesy of Robin

Ornament Tag

The rules: 

 1. Take a picture of your favorite ornament and put it on your blog telling everyone about it.

2. Post a link to the person on whose blog you found out about the Ornament Tag.

3. Post the rules.

My favorite for this year is the star ornament Michelle and her Littles made for me.  Stars are my favorite seasonal decoration, and how could I fail to treasure such a special star from precious hands?  I still have some of the ornaments my aunt and cousins made years and years ago, although they aren’t on our wee tree this year.  While I love elegant trees with color themed, fancy decorations, what means the most to me are the memories wrapped around my ornaments, many of which are from my childhood.  My father’s sister gave me an ornament every years into my 20s, and my mother has passed along some of my paternal grandmother’s ornaments as well, so this star will become another treasure that I’ll hold for a moment and think about Michelle and her family as I place it on the tree in years to come. 

We had to Sissy-proof our tree, and if you read regularly, you know that even pre-Sissy I wasn’t sure we were going to put one up.  Well, MJ found the perfect tree, half-off, so Sissy and I picked one up earlier in the week, and Mugsy helped me put it together Friday night.  It’s 4 1/2 feet tall, and holds all of the Knight’s firefighter ornaments perfectly.  I’ve said for years that I’d like a smaller tree for that collection, so I suspect that the sometimes Scrooge will be asking for his little tree in years to come.   (Why yes, you do see some swapperly goodness there in the bottom.  I haven’t found homes yet for all of the goodies!)

Speaking of goodies…  Friday night found a stack of packages on the porch, and two more came on Saturday.  On Friday, Mugsy’s prize pack from Nichole of Lapdog Creations arrived, with goodness all around.  The sweet ball had to be photographed separately, as the Knight was opening the boxes for me, and Mugsy was in his lap.  Of course, the prince spotted the ball, and it was game on.  Sissy likes it too, as there’s a bigger version of the ball at the office, but she can play with this one!  Thanks Nichole, and The Princess(donated the doggy prizes)!  There are also bones, both dentibones and some special cookies, made by Nichole, from her furkids to mine, and both are current favorites here. 

For me, there was a very special present from Nichole.  Now, keep in mind that when she bought this, when Mugsy won his prize, and even when she shipped the package, Sissy wasn’t a part of our household.  Amazing, eh?  She didn’t know I desperately needed a keyring for the new key to the Lexus.  (The 4Runner’s remote WAS the keyring I used, but the Lexus’s remote is built into the key.  Handy, but hard to find in a handbag!)  It’s a craptastic photo, but that silver wad in the right corner is a basset hound!  Now, Fred and Sissy Freida will always be on hand to help me find my keys.  Thanks so much Nichole!

Here.  We’ll pause for you to go grab another drink, cookie, whatever.

Back?  Good.  Settle in, because there are THREE more packages to display.  There was actually another one on Friday I’ll just mention in passing – from my mother.  It contained our gift and some interesting keepsakes from my childhood, ranging from Girl Scout patches to the papers she kept from Parents Weekend when I was a freshman in college.  The Knight had a ball poking through all of those, while I opened the sweet box from Mary.  (Yes, I feel very guilty for not being able to get my act together and do cards, much less ship out gifts to my friends and to my mother.  Sigh.  My back hurts, and we lost a whole day to car shopping…)

Put your nose on the screen and read the sweet words on the candle on the right.  Sniff, sniff.  Thank you, Mary.  You are truly a Godsend!  There were also some sweets, some cocoa mix which the Knight has already claimed, and some dog cookies for the furkids!

Saturday’s post brought two surprises.  The Knight quickly opened a pretty padded envelope from Alaska, from Ingrid.  We were so honored and blessed to not only meet Anne’s mom, but we got to spend several days with them.  Clearly, she got to know us too, because her package was filled with perfection! 

Don’t mind my roosters in the background, or the Raisinettes.  (I’m pretty sure the top box is empty, but I’ve been told to keep my paws off!)  There’s a pretty cloth, which the Knight has claimed (see a theme here?), a box of chocolates which is big enough to share, a fun book which the Knight – not a big reader – has already read, and pretty tin of playing cards.  Fortuitous that, as the deck of cards in the pocket behind the driver’s seat on the 4Runner didn’t make it into the box from the salvage job the Knight and a co-worker did.  You might think that without the Page around, we wouldn’t need quick, easy entertainment.  Wrong.  The Knight is a card-counting card shark, and we both love to play Spades, Hearts, Rummy, Gin, and when we have several decks and some clever friends, Hand and Foot is great fun!  Thank you so much Ingrid, for gracing our home and for your delightful gifts!

I hope you’re still with me, because this is big!  My SP11 box arrived, all the way from the far corner of the world.  Sue and I met a while back – I don’t recall how – so like Michelle, she managed to fool me whilst staying in touch as my friend and as a secret pal!  Now, keep in mind Sue had already sent books my way…

Now, you can’t see all of anything in the photo, but there’s a lovely lap blanket on the left, chocolate and more chocoate, yarn (details to follow), tea, great-smelling wax tarts, and a beautiful calendar filled with Autralian Beaches. 

The yarn’s not so electric, but in case you couldn’t tell, the overcast days and indoor lighting aren’t providing the best shots.  My first Fleece Artist, all the way from the other side of the world!  There’s a sock pattern on the label too!  The colors remind me of the water in the above mentioned calendar. 

I had the devil of a time trying to photograph this lovely shawl.  Mugsy insists it is a lap blanket, perfectly designed for my lap and enough overlap for him.  Sissy won’t be allowed near it until her baby teeth move on.  The color is pretty accurate in this photo, even if the Knight’s recliner doesn’t show it off so well.  I am in awe!  It means so much that you invested all of this time in a gift for me, Sue.  Thank you, thank you, and thanks to Latte for such a generous gift. 

I think that about does it for this update.  I hope all of you are off tomorrow and enjoying time with friends and/or family.  We’ll work for a couple of hours tomorrow, and go back to work on Wednesday.  From our house to yours, we wish you a very merry Christmas!

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Past-Due Gratitude

Firstly, Mugsy, the Knight and I wish to thank each and every one of you for your sympathy and support. The Knight is working on his own memorial for his hound, and I think that when it is complete, I’ll share more with you about the life and times of Sir Fred Aloysius, and all of his other aliases. Because it’s coming up in face to face conversations, let me politely but firmly state that no, we won’t be getting another dog any time soon. Fred was the Knight’s dog, and he doesn’t want another at this point, and that’s all that matters.
Thursday, much knitterly goodness came my way, and all I was able to do was note its arrival. I heartily apologize to Nannette and my SP11 pal, as it was in no way a reflection upon their thoughtful, “perfect fit” packages. In fact, the timing of the arrivals was perfect; it gave me a bit of a distraction during an otherwise awful time of waiting and wondering.

My secret pal sent this book, which is curious, because perhaps only Devon and maybe Ana know how very much I’ve wanted this book. It’s actually still in my “stash” at Knitpicks and on my Amazon wish list, but I’ll fix both of those tomorrow, or that’s the plan anyway. Mugsy and I looked at all the socks, but the truth is, I want to make all but maybe one or two of the patterns in there! Thank you again, secret pal!

Next, I must begin to recount the details of Nannette’s tremendous tea swap package. I hope I don’t forget anything, but if I do, I assure you it is an oversight, not a lack of enthusiasm! As you can see, there is one of everything in there. Here’s an inventory:
Republic of Tea Dragon Well loose tea (on my to try list for a long time!)
Zhena’s Gypsy Tea Grand Green
The Tea Port Provence Rooibos
Maeda-en Sencha Green Tea
Scone Mix (in the highly recommended King Arthur Flour brand)
Carmel Apple Biscotti
Singoalla cookies
Sugar-free green tea candy
Green tea mints
Green tea bath tea (I’ve been wanting to broaden my tea uses!)
A tea ball – needed for work
A cute honey bear (stick with molded honey attached for sweetening)
Reusable cotton bags (again, makes loose tea more portable)
An awesome “Knit” blank book
A kit to knit a felted wallet
A garden flag
A book – Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs

The garden flag is already flying, and you’ll likely see it in other photos in the days and weeks to come. I needed a new flag for out on the back deck, and had purchased several (school fundraisers – I am a sucker), but hadn’t gotten around to putting one in place. The cheery colors are just what the doctor ordered! Mugsy and I will think of Nannette and all of the great swappers from the tea swap while we sit on the deck and have tea on pretty fall afternoons. We’ll probably be reading the book too. I just discovered Debbie Macomber and knitting fiction, and now I learn there’s tea fiction too!

The knitted coasters are perfect too. They are in a colorway I have picked up a couple of times but always put back, as I have so much cotton and knit so few dishcloths. Note how Nannette even went to the trouble of making a little twisted cord to hold them all together! (Hey Shawnee! Won’t “our” tea for one cup be beautiful on this?!) You can’t really tell here, but the colorway is a great, soft blue and green, with white. They are so pretty, and will help me feel pampered while I sip my tea.
I love blank books almost as much as Anne does, but I don’t think I’ve said so before, which makes this book all the more special. I think I shall use it to record all of the teas I’ve received from my swap pals, and keep notes on them, so that when someone asks, I can make an accurate reply, rather than try to rely on my becoming more addled every day memory. (Right now, it’s very busy clinging to every precious thing Fred ever did, but you knew that, right?) Neat that it is green (as in green tea) and says KNIT on the front, yes? Why, of course I do realize that it would be more rational to use it to record knitting things, but it’s my book now, and I’ll use it as I like. (Hope you don’t mind, Nannette!)

As above, I don’t believe I’ve blogged or even mentioned to my nearest and dearest that I’ve had this sushi knit in my shopping cart more than once too. I look forward to deciding which pattern I’ll follow – or be a renegade and do my own thing? (not likely) – and to adding zipper abilities to my finishing skills. For the record, I do not like sushi, but I do love these colors. I went through a raw oysters and beer phase early in my adulthood, but that was a long time ago, and with the exception of a good steak, I like my meat COOKED.
Last, but hardly least, here’s Mugsy inspecting his tea treat. He really appreciates being included, especially since his mourning mother failed to buy him a toy for his birthday. He did get his special meal though – two nights in a row, since I already had planned for it to be shared – and his big treat came tonight, when the Knight FINALLY allowed Mugsy to ride in his “new” truck. I suspect that we are well on our way to becoming the weirdos our friends talk about, because we take our dog everywhere, appropriately so or not. I’m not quite old enough to be a crazy old lady, but evidently, I’m mature enough to thumb my nose at convention and do it my way.
Again, we thank you for all of your emails, comments, etc. Even if I failed to reply personally, please know that we read each and every one, and it helped bolster us.

Sweet Cherry Bag

Can you see the cute little cherries on the ribbon? Squee! I hope my pal will enjoy that little touch. The package is ready to ship out tomorrow, save a note and some tissue paper. But let me tell you, CotLin is the only linen of any blended sort for me. Sigh. It slides on through, comparable to any of the ” – & dairy product” cottons, and I bet one wash would find it snuggly soft. I see a fitted item for me in this very color, maybe, next spring. Try it for the extra-special cloths you might be giving as gifts, or treat yourself; you deserve it! I am amazed at how it costs less and feels worlds better, but don’t take my word for it. Order some and try it for yourself.
In case you missed it the first time, this is Amanda’s “Mandy’s Candy Bag” pattern. You can also find it on Ravelry.
So, a little accountability check here. Tea swap – ready to ship out tomorrow. Sock it to Me – half way there on the socks, some shopping left to do, and really should ship by next Saturday to arrive before October 5th. Vegan swap – Do thoughts count? I’ve thought a lot about what to get my friendly pal, and I do have some yarn for her, and it needs to ship before October 15th. SP11 – Package #1 shipped out earlier this week. I already have one item for the final package, and have “commissioned” something for her with one of my truly artistic/crafty friends, to be a Halloween themed package. Should ship before the 15th too. My Felted Bag package has a personal deadline which the pal should be able to guess, but I think I’ve already told you I’m not talking about that swap here, right? 😉
Whew. Wow. I’m shocked. After Monkey #2, which should be done within the next week, I will have time to cast on for the Knight’s birthday (or Christmas if I miss the first deadline) surprise, my felted bag pal’s bag, finish my Summer Daze Tofutsies, and begin holiday knitting. The light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train!
Now, to cast on for that #2.

SP11 Questionnaire

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?

I love soy and bamboo, but merino wool is great too. Really, I use a bit of everything, but I don’t care to knit with linen or linen blends again, and I’m not a fan of fun fur or acrylics (except for baby things…)

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?

Straights are in the felted needle case I made, and/or in a plastic pouch. Dpns live in a special plastic case my hubby made for me, with little slots for each pair, in each size. Circs live in my Knitpicks Options case. (Yup. Even the Addis. They haven’t fought yet.)

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?

I’ve only been knitting since late November, 2006. I first learned about 25 years ago, but I refreshed my memory after a visit from dear Anne. I couldn’t have done it without knittinghelp.com and her video clips. I still bug Anne, Devon and Martina with questions!

I would say I’m an intermediate with a strong sense of adventure, meaning that if I want to try a pattern, I will, regardless of the skill rating.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

I do have an Amazon list, and since this question keeps coming up, I’ll add the button to the sidebar.

5. What’s your favorite scent?

For what purpose? To wear, I like soft florals, like lily of the valley. To smell in nature, gardenia, magnolia, roses… florals. To use in the house… Ask my hubby. He’s the candle burner at home. (Food scents for the kitchen, florals for the living room…)

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?

I do. I love chocolate and peppermint.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?

I do not spin. I used to cross stitch and needlepoint. Currently, I scrapbook and stamp, or at least, talk about them while knitting.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)

I like all kinds of music. I love musicals and big band, country, rock, classic rock, gospel, classical music, beach music… Any format will work!

9. What’s your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can’t stand?

Greens, reds, pinks and blues are always safe. I adore rich, medium to dark browns too. I cannot stand strong yellows and orange.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?

I am married to my Knitter’s Knight and we have two aging, wonderful dogs.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?

Yes to all, but I’m rather maxed out on scarves.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?

Socks. Dishcloths. Whatever strikes my fancy. Did I mention socks?

13. What are you knitting right now?

Socks. However, I’m also getting ready to knit another dishcloth, a baby item or two, and who knows what else!

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

I do.

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?

Yes? I love my circs. I do use Bryspun straights for dishcloths, and both dpns and circs for socks. Metal, metal, METAL. I don’t care to ever see bamboo or plastic needles again.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?

I do, thanks to my Knitter’s Knight. 😉

17. How old is your oldest UFO?

Um… Don’t have a SINGLE one!

18. What is your favorite holiday?

Easter.

19. Is there anything that you collect?

You mean besides yarn?

Roosters. Not hens, not chicks, but ROOSTERS. I also seem to have accidentally started a stitch marker collection. Anything with a basset hound or a jack russell on it. Cookbooks. (I am a pack rat.)

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?

Currently, I subscribe to Creative Knitting, and I intend to subscribe to Interweave Knits. Unfortunately, anything I’m dying to have, I’ll buy before a pal could!

21. Are there any new techniques you’d like to learn?

Cables, but that is likely to be my next project. Lace. Crochet.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?

I am a sock knitter. No knee socks, please! (Short, stubby legs, you see…) Circumference: 8.5 inches, length: 9 inches (give or take). I wear a 6.5 or 7 in US sizes.

23. When is your birthday?

July 1

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what’s your ID?

I’m one of the millions still waiting for my invite.