27 February 2008

Tools of the trade

For Christmas my parents gave me the Knit Picks' Options Harmony wooden interchangeable needle set. I had gushed about these needles back in September when they first hit the online store, and I'm so glad Mom remembered. I really enjoy using them! They have nice pointy tips, which are great for picking up stitches and other thorny stitch manipulation (I'd be cursing at the Log Cabin Blanket much more, were it not for these). The join - where the cable meets the needle - is perfectly tapered and smooth, and when you use the key to screw the tips to the cables, they cannot be turned by hand or accidentally fall off mid-project. Woo-hoo! They're birchwood (I prefer knitting with wooden needles) and beautiful to boot. You know you've got it good when your eyes don't know with which to feast themselves - the hand-painted alpaca, or the needles...

My one complaint is that the smallest length you can create with this system is 24". I use 16" fairly often, knitting for a toddler and all. But when a door closes, a window opens; now I use the Magic Loop technique with my pretty pointy sticks. Problem solved.

26 February 2008

Randy Newman on the brain

I love my job as a high school voice teacher. The human voice goes through some dramatic transformation during these four years. I encourage my students to bring performance materials to their lessons for assistance - college audition songs, choral music, solos for church, whatever. Always glad to help.

Then there are weeks like this. One school I'm involved with is holding auditions for their spring musical revue, so my last 13 lessons have been coachings of "Friend In Me," made popular in Disney/Pixar's Toy Story. It's safe to say that, whenever I close my eyes, this is what I'll be hearing for the next week or two.

It could be worse, though. It has been worse - at another school, the fall audition was "Memory" from Cats (so many students didn't know it!), and last year's High School Musical audition song was "What I've Been Looking For" (they all knew it). I still don't see the appeal of HSM. No disrespect intended, but the government should consider the effectiveness of showing this particular musical 24/7 to Guantanamo detainees...

25 February 2008

Knitterly knews

The latest projects on needles:

pattern: The "Pidge"
yarn: Misti Alpaca Chunky Handpainted - 1 hank
needles: Knit Picks Options Harmony US#11
still needed: two vintage buttons

This is a short neckwarmer – only 4.5” wide, 25” long – but great for a little splurge on this gorgeous yarn. The pattern is double knitted throughout, and made to be a shop model at The Yarnery. Double knitting + chunky alpaca = very toasty neck.

pattern: Log Cabin Blanket, inspired by Mason Dixon Knitting
yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton (waaay too many skeins!)
needles: Knit Picks Options Harmony US#6

Kidlet and I found a new duvet cover and sham set for her bed at IKEA, and I decided to make a coordinating big-girl blanket to complete the transformation. I love the yarn (great colors and texture), but I'm still partial to knitting with animal fibers; j'aime le sproingy memory of wool.

Several years ago I was given a pattern-a-day knitting calendar. If you've never seen one, there are usually a handful of noteworthy ideas, with the rest being recycling fodder. Anyway, this weekend we also went to the LYS to drop off a Secret Project (to be revealed after the gifting). Remembering a pattern from the aforementioned calendar, Kidlet selected a very rainbow-y hank of Koigu PPPM for me to make little knitted fishies. I cast on this weekend, and will post pictures once they start looking like something.

Knit like you've never dropped a stitch!

24 February 2008


I'm rather unbloggy this evening. Not that you aren't appreciated, readers, but the writing mojo is not flowing. Dfficulty in internet access this weekend, hence the dry spell in posts. I think my Blog365 participation needs "___" around it. Knitting update tomorrow.

Sleep well, and happy knitting!

21 February 2008

The power of one

Tonight two Blogger families (the Meemas and the Cates) joined forces for a glamorous night of haute cuisine et couture (translation: dinner at DQ Grill & Chill and shopping at the nearby Once Upon a Child). Woo-hoo! Baby D turned seven weeks old as we waited for our food, and the girls revelled in each other’s company – conversing, sharing, and playing like actual little people. Whodathunkit?

While we were at OUAC, one of the songs playing over the store’s loudspeakers was KT Tunstall’s “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree.” This Scottish songstress has an intriguing voice, and Cate and I both love the song (B actually knows it, too). If you have never seen her on stage, check out this video. She performs this song completely alone; every track of the song is sampled with a loop pedal. I stand in awe.

20 February 2008


verb: to give public utterance to. "to vent one's opinions"

My creativity has been corked by customer disservice. I greatly dislike it when that happens. My cellular phone service provider, who shall remain nameless (but it rhymes with Be Noble), is not in my good graces right now. Being locked into a contract until the beginning of June, I feel a bit powerless. I greatly dislike that, too.

I've been having issues with text and voice messages for the past 3 4 5 months, and Customer Service and Technical Support haven't been able to determine the issue. Today a CS rep suggested I go to a [Be Noble] brick-and-mortar location where they could check my SIM card. OK. Sounds good. Off I go.

(cue Cavalier Greenhorn Retail Boy)

I walked into the store and told CGRB that I had been sent there by CS, and he promptly said, "Let's replace your SIM card." He didn't ask what my issues might be. Nothing.

He takes the card out of my phone. "Will I lose any of my data?" "Oh, no," replies CGRB, "this gizmo will transfer it all. We don't want to lose anything."

(punches a few buttons, scans a bar code into the computer)

"Wow, you have a lot on there." Duh. "You should be all set now," and hands me my phone. My woes were now supposedly cured by CGRB, all in under three minutes. That should have been the red flag right there. No, the not asking a single question of me was the first red flag, followed closely by the land speed record. Followed immediately by the fact that he took my old SIM card. Right. To. The. Shredder.

Gone are the text messages that had been saved, memos I'd made to myself, a recording of Kidlet's bedtime prattling from a year+ ago. Realizing this in the parking lot, I went back in and told CGRB of the grievous fallout of his rushed service. Nothing. It wasn't even until I turned to leave that he stammered a "sorry" my way.

Who out there likes their provider? I'm definitely shopping.

p.s. Thanks for listening. If ever I can return the favor, you just let me know.

19 February 2008

Green goes the world

z0"font-family:trebuchet ms;">My friend Cate blogged some of her favorite green places to shop the other day, and I thought it was a great idea; here are some of mine. Feel free to leave the URLs of your faves in the comments. Remember, 35% of your grade is based on classroom participation...

3R Living: Lots of great sustainable products. I saw their recycled magazine coasters on another blog, but they're not currently available back in stock (thanks, mWAK).

EcoBags: These have been everywhere, from Oprah to Whole Foods.

Sigg bottles: Aluminum is looking like a less toxic alternative to plastics. Something to consider. (I do like my Nalgenes, though...)

flip and tumble bags: heh heh heh. I do like a bag that folds into itself.

your conscience bags: A convenient and self-contained set of four shopping bags. Say something while you shop.

EnviroSax: One of the more fashionable totes out there. A variety of fabric designs, including many appropriate for men to carry. They roll up to almost nothing. I received one as a holiday gift from the LYS, and I love it.

Kiss your planet, and happy knitting!

18 February 2008

Hail to the Chiefs

Do you have any strange things that have been burned into your brain for eternity? Things that you learned once upon a time, and now you find them taking up the memory space that could be used for remembering where your put the @#!% car keys?

I have two weird capsules of knowledge in this category. One is the memorized list of American presidents, thanks to Mr. Koswol, my fifth-grade Social Studies teacher. Each election that passes finds me incorporating that new name into the roll, because apparently I care that it remains complete and accurate.

The second is a memorized Calgon Water Softener commercial, circa 1975 (see my profile). Great party trick, I know.

If you have any strange tidbits lodged in your long-term memory, feel free to comment on them here. Perhaps by sharing our random trivia we can purge it from our brains (it's worth a shot). Enjoy!

17 February 2008

Kitchener remodel

(Gratuitous - no, slightly topical - Heir Apparent photo for certain readers of my blog... and you're welcome.)

I like socks. Knitting them, to be specific. I haven't made obscene numbers, but I love all the different elements involved in a small, portable project. Bored with the cuff? No problem - here comes the heel flap. Sick of the gusset? Head to the toe decreases!

My one beef with sock knitting is The K Word. For some reason or another, I found it impossible to graft two sock toes identically. The first might come out pristine and lovely, and then the second would look like a 4-year-old had mistaken the toe seam for his lacing card. Raised, obtrusive, and comparitively not pretty or comfortable. It didn't matter if I was staring at pictures for every step, watching a video, or trying crazy pneumonic devices, this method did not mesh with my inner knitter. No way, no how.

But suffer no more! This tutorial for a toe-up cast-on was featured in knitty's Spring 2006 issue, and has changed my outlook on sock knitting forever. Toe-up socks seem so logical - starting at the toes, you can make the cuffs as long as you have yarn, rather than guessing when you should start the heel flap. And how pretty are those pics at right? Who wouldn't want their piggies to nestle into those perfectly seamless cocoons?

On This Day trivia: In 1904, the opera Madama Butterfly by Giacomo Puccini had its world premiere at La Scala in Milan.

15 February 2008

Color 101

I went to meet Kristin Nicholas this afternoon at The Yarnery. As beautiful as the photographed projects are in her new book, the tableful of samples at the book signing were w.o.w. Not only are the colors of her yarn rich and saturated, but the fiber blend of Julia is hafta-touch-it luscious (50% wool, 25% kid mohair, 25% alpaca). If you haven't experienced it yet, pick up a skein or two for a small project - you'll come back for more.

As I'm writing this, it's obvious I didn't go to her lecture at the Textile Center. If you did, let me know how it was.

Have a good weekend!

14 February 2008

The Love Boat, and then some

Do you remember watching Captain Stubing and his crew on Saturday nights? Oh, how I loved that show growing up – and how cheesy it is in retrospect! I don’t think there were many episodes where Shelley Winters, Charo, or Carol Channing weren’t sailing. (If you missed this gem of the ‘70s-'80s, the plot basically consisted of shipboard goofiness and chaos-turns-to-love.) The truer test of my adolescent mettle was if I could make it through the show that followed: Fantasy Island. Most episodes weirded me out a bit. Things haven’t changed much – no me gusta with the suspense or horror genres as a rule.

It's been a smidge of time since I last posted knitting pics, so feast your peepers on these:

pattern: back panel of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s “Heart Hat” (Spun Out #8 leaflet from Schoolhouse Press, or Wool Gathering #20 from same)
yarn: Frog Tree Alpaca Sport (conversation hearts and white arrow), Malabrigo Worsted Merino (arrow heart), Nashua Handknits Julia (dark pink writing, contouring)
needles: Denise Interchangeables US#10.5 (arrow heart), Knit Picks’ Options Harmony Interchangeables US#7 (conversation hearts), Fiber Trends’ needle felting kit (detail work)

I was inspired by a mini-clothesline of these hearts in various reds on display at the LYSTTS, and decided to learn the pattern (Malabrigo) to make Kidlet’s Necco-themed valentine out of something yummy (alpaca, natch). They knit up quite quickly; after the third heart, the pattern was basically memorized. note: The Spun Out leaflet contains five(!) hat patterns by EZ – a great addition to your arsenal for just over $2.00US.

Speaking of Julia, its creator, knitwear designer Kristin Nicholas, will be in the Twin Cities this weekend for the Knit & Crochet Out 2008. She is having a meet-and-greet-slash-book-signing at The Yarnery from 2:00-3:30 on Friday afternoon (that’s tomorrow - her yarns and newly released book, Kristin Knits, are available at The Big Y). Friday evening she will be delivering her main presentation, entitled “The Joy of Color,” at the Textile Center of Minnesota at 7:00 p.m. You can read more information here on her blog. After seeing – and then purchasing – her book, I realized my personal color choices tend to be fairly “safe” and conservative. Her yarn line and patterns use vivid contrast and lush, saturated colors, which I can hardly wait to incorporate into my own work.

Squee!! I just learned that another knitter of renown is coming to MSP. I'll post info as soon as the announcement is official...

Happy, colorful knitting to all!

Addendum: It's the Yarn Harlot on April 10! Check the LYS web site for more details. Woo-hoo!

13 February 2008

Heart day

My dear gentle readers,

In the spirit of tomorrow's holiday, I searched high and low for just the right greeting for you. Click here and turn down the volume if you're at work - better yet, earphones would be good right about now.


12 February 2008

Got cabin fever?

Oh, what to do for entertainment in the northland when it's just too cold to go outside? Why, opera karaoke, of course!


I'm totally serious.

Just think of the swanky parties you could throw once your friends are able to start their cars...

11 February 2008


My secondary job as a church musician is a rewarding one. Not only do I get to sing with a great group of people, but I now have the pleasure of hearing our new priest-in-charge sermonize every week. Marlene Jacobs is an amazing preacher (speaker, if you're more comfortable), and her sermon yesterday still has me thinking and telling anyone who will listen. And since you are my devoted and slightly captive audience...

Her sermon began with a personal anecdote, which seemed innocent enough at the onset. Going40 has transcribed it on his blog, so go read this and come right back. Go.

As a mother, I was horrified at the report; as a human being, I was profoundly saddened. It has been far too easy to grow complacent with my existence and the shouldering of my mid-American "needs" and "troubles," taking for granted the simple facts that my daughter is healthy, there is food in the cupboards, and beds to sleep in.

Marlene then mentioned the website FreeRice.com (see button on the sidebar). It's an online vocabulary game; for each correct reponse, 20 grains of rice are donated by the site's sponsors through the United Nations to help end world hunger. A small gesture, to be sure, but one that is cumulative and educational.

If you are looking for a bigger gesture, there will be an economic stimulus check heading your way this spring. It could serve as a drop in the bucket of the American recession, or it could have a profound impact on the survival of people all over the world. I'm just sayin'.

10 February 2008

May I have the envleope, please...

(One judge has not judged yet: “I’m busy,” said he,
So on to results with two judges, not three.)

Thank you, oh thank you, for playing with me!
I’ve loved every entry and giggled with glee.

Your talents abound; well, of that there’s no doubt.
“My readership rocks!” I just want to shout.

If only a way there was you to repay…
Yes, I know, the prizes; they’re soon on their way!

The poetry ends here; deal with it. And the trophy is a mere graphic representation of the pride and sense of profound achievement soon to be radiating from the winners. Again, you may deal.

First Prize, Rated G: monica
Comments putting this poem in front:
“Wonderful use of knitting terms.”
"Tinking - I love it!"

First Prize, Rated PG-13: Scott
Comments that made this poem shine:
“Enjoyed the multiple global references."
"You can knit while you poop?"

Runner-Up: ikkinlala
What made the poem special to you?
"There was great rhythm to the piece."
"Props for using Orenburg - dang!"

monica, Scott, and ikkinlala: please send me your e-mail addresses (angie AT paulsonstudios DOT com). I will then forward stash photos so you can choose your prizes from the pile o' alpaca.

Thanks again to everyone who entered: MamaMay, cthulhulovesme, squiggi, monica, sjmercure, ikkinlala, and Put a Sock in it. Will you all please e-mail me your names and snail mail addresses (see above)? Since this was my first contest, I think everyone who entered needs an alpaca yarn snack. I love receiving packages - especially if they contain yarny goodness - and I bet you do, too.

Happy knitting, all!

08 February 2008

All things ratty

Happy Chinese New Year!

Welcome to the Year of the Rat. I think this woodcut looks suspiciously like a badger, but that's just me.

The forecast, once again, is predicting bone-chilling temps in the Twin Cities (a high of -1F on Sunday) - definitely the kind of weekend to hunker down at home with a good movie, knitting, and cocoa. If you haven't seen it already, give Ratatouille a try. Kidlet became enamored with it when I downloaded the 9-minute preview from iTunes (she watched it incessantly - great for the road trip to Chicago). She received the DVD for Christmas this year, and the ViewMaster Viewer for her birthday. Yup, they still make 'em. :-)

Does it make you feel old when elements of your youth come back as retro reissues?

07 February 2008

Get your craft on

Day 38 (30) of Blog365.

People make many things with their sticks and string; sweaters, scarves, and blankets are typical fare. For the more adventurous knitters - or in this case, crocheters - non-traditional subject matter puts wind in their sails (see Going40's coverage of the MN State Fair). A tray of pastries? Why not! It's the perfect Lenten indulgence.

Unless you've given up yarn for Lent, and then I'm just sad for you...

06 February 2008

Landmark, ho!

Day 37 (29) of Blog365.

Happy half century, BrianJ!

05 February 2008

For tomorrow we fast

Day 36 (28) of Blog365.

The liturgical geek in me has come out to post....

Today is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day or Fat Tuesday (and in French, Mardi Gras); it is the day preceding the Christian liturgical season of Lent, forty days of fasting and repentance before the celebration of Easter.

Pancake Day, you may ask? Yup. As Lent centered around fasting and giving up rich foods, people would use up their supplies of eggs, sugar, jams, and milk by making and eating pancakes (crêpes for the French, mais oui?).

Shrove Tuesday comes from the past tense of the word "shrive" (to obtain absolution for sins by confession and penance), and is more predominant in Great Britain, Canada, and Australia. It is the last day to receive the expected absolutions before the beginning of Lent.

And you thought it was just a big party in New Orleans. Get your alleluias in now, y'all!

04 February 2008

For your consideration

A Knitter’s Alphabet
(Rated PG-13) by Meema

A is for afterthought pocket or thumb.
B is for bobble, nine stitches in one.

C with an O means cast on and begin.
D is for darning of socks worn too thin.

E is for entrelac, square upon square.
F is for fringe – give your scarf flowing hair!

G is for gansey, complex as can be.
H is for Harlot, like Steph Pearl-McFee.

I is for inches; we count stitches per.
J is for Jersey Isles, where knitters were.

K is for knitting (duh, that’s why we’re here).
L is for lace, and for some it strikes fear.

M is for make one, just like dear EZ.
N is for nests made by our friend Marie.

O is for over, like yarn-___ (makes a hole).
P is for pins, or the needles of old.

Q is for quiet some need to create.
R is for Ravelry, making me late!

S is for silk; from the East it was brought.
T is for tink, to undo what you’ve wrought.

U is for Uruguay, where ‘Brigo’s king.
V is for variegated, colorful string.

W’s for weave in ends; many doth vex.
X is Xpedition (as in S.E.X.).

Y is for yak, soft enough for your nose.
Z, like a zipper, my rhyme will now close.

Makes you wonder what's coming next, no?

03 February 2008

Book Stash 101

Day 34 (26) of Blog365.

Greetings, all! Not a big news day here in the northland. Mild weather, almost to the point of boring. Kidlet and I spent the weekend at Nana and Papa's house again (closer proximity to all of the birthday goings-on, plus I don't want her staying in my apartment until mold issues are resolved - blech).

I worked at The Yarnery this afternoon, which was pleasantly busy until about an hour before the Super Bowl started, then [cricket, cricket, cricket]. I picked up a nice little pattern for knitted/felted coffee cup sleeves; pictures will come soon. Another item that, if I remember to bring it with me to a coffee shop, will save a tree or two. May have to make these for people I know...

If you are looking for some inspiration for the end of winter, I found a great website for sale priced books. Bargain Yarns has a great page of "damaged" knitting books for half price. The imperfections are cosmetic, generally cover or spine related, and the contents are uncompromised. The majority that I've seen have barely discernable flaws, and if they are for me anyway, no big dealio! Inventory varies from time to time, so check back often.

A ho-hum post for a ho-hum day, but hopefully savory details of projects and yarn tomorrow. Happy knitting!

02 February 2008

Thrice three

Day 33 (25) of Blog365.
Bless me readers, for I have shirked. It's been two days since my last posting.

We've had a flurry of activity surrounding a certain Kidlet's birthday activities. Three years old, events spread over three days - God help us when she turns 16!

... and this is the hat made for the occasion. It's durn cute, but Kidlet had it on for approximately four seconds - long enough for me to see that it does indeed fit, but not long enough for a pic in action.

pattern: Meghan's Braids
source: One Skein Wonders
yarn: Malabrigo Worsted Merino
needles: Brittany US#6 dpn's

Happy Groundhog Day!