Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How long can a blog be dead?

I post most of my daily observations to Facebook. I think some daily writing might do me some good. Of course, except for my one "follower", I doubt anyone will look here ever again.

Perhaps I should go for a walk on this sunny, warm November day, and think about something to write about.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Mittens. We have mittens!

Fast forward to the summer when the girls were young. Maybe 2 and 5? I took a mitten knitting class. It was taught again by Betty Crocker (Rosemary) and it was AWESOME. I love everything about knitting mittens except... that when you finish you have to knit the 2nd. :-)

Here's a montage of mittens I've knit that I can find... Most of them have partners, except the really fancy one. The grey one is from the first pair I knit. You can see the thumb needs mending. If I can find the yarn, I can always re-knit the thumb.

Then I knit the striped ones. It's actually two pair, I made opposite stripes for the girls. I think Margaret had the green cuffs, and Amelia the pink.

The red ones were from some yarn I found at the outlet store. I've had to mend them a few times.

The green/orange ones are with large gauge needles and yarn. I think it took one hour to knit one.

Compare to the fancy one. I still need to start the 2nd one of that. It is a Latvian "Cathedral Window" design. It took many hours, but I will do the partner. The cast on and cuff are very cool.. I guess you can't see very well since I haven't blocked it yet.

I'm a bit worried about wearing them out of the house, though. I tend to lose mittens...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Knitting in COLOR!!!

So the class that transformed my knitting was a class on color knitting. The teacher was named Rosemary and in addition to teaching knitting, she worked at General Mills as a Home Economist on the help lines. I like to think I was taught by Betty Crocker!

Above are pictures of swatches we made during the class. We did Fair Isle style knitting and Intarsia (solid color blocks). What transformed my knitting? Well, in doing the "Fair Isle" style, the teacher recommended that we knit "continental" style, where you reach through the stitch with your needle, grab the yarn, and pull it back through. When using two colors at once, you can hold both colors in that hand and "pick" the one you want. I didn't use color knitting in any projects until years later.

But I did totally switch to the continental style of knitting. Knitting is so much faster.

Rosemary also gave great color knitting points (like when changing color in rib stitch, knit the first round so the color change is more smooth). After taking that class with Rosemary, I though I could knit anything! Then I had kids. I think that was the timing. I didn't make time to knit for several years... And I didn't knit a thing until I took my Mitten Class (also from Rosemary). That will be the next story.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sweater #2... and the beginning of new things...

After finishing sweater #1, I decided it was time to do another sweater. Here it is... in its state as of last week.

Yep. Never finished it. I suspect I started it in '95 or '96. I finished the front and back way back then. Then it got tucked away in a box. I found it last year when I started making socks. So I started the sleeves last year. Got as far as you see and realized that I did not have enough yarn to finish the sleeves. So it sat for a year as I pondered what to do. I couldn't bear to throw it out, because I love the color and it is a nice cotton yarn and I have done a pretty nice job on it.

Last week I tore the sleeves totally out and redesigned them to be a short sleeve variety. I am almost half done with them. With any luck, I'll have a finished sweater in about 3 weeks time. Amazing how quickly you can finish things when you make them high priority.

One of my odd quirks (is that redundant? Are all quirks odd?) is that I don't like to buy yarn for projects until I am ready to start them. Which is odd because I don't do that in other areas of my crafty life. Anyway, I want to make some felted items, but am not going to buy any new projects until I finish this sweater. I am going to finish this sweater. I am. Because I really want to start felting.

So the beginning of new things was when I bought the pattern for this sweater. I went to my local shop (Needlework Unlimited) and bought the pattern and all the yarn for it. (I swear I bought enough yarn. I think I lost one skein... it's not like me to not buy an extra amount of yarn for a project. )

And while I was there I signed up for a "Color Knitting" class. That class started the transformation of my knitting skills.... which is a story for another day.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My knitting history... the newer early years.

In the early 90s I got the bug to knit again. A friend at church, Myra, really taught me to knit. I decided I wanted to do a sweater. Myra picked the "Circumnavigate a Cardigan" by Meredith Glover as the pattern because she said it was an awesome teaching pattern. It was.

This cool pattern starts at the the bottom of the body. You knit on and make it real wide, then you fold over for pockets and knit down for the bottom band. Then starting at the top of the pockets, you knit up to the neckline, then pick up stitches and knit the raglan sleeves out. Then you pick up the band around the front and knit in the button holes. Only 3 or 4 ends to work in. Sew on buttons and you are done. No joining of pieces required. It used a chunky yarn so it went pretty quickly.

It was also my first time knitting on circular needles (which you have to do even if not knitting in the round, since the work weighs so much and you would have trouble supporting the weight on straight needles.... now I know why grandma always knit afghans in strips).
Here is the finished sweater. It's a bit out of style to wear out of the house, but it is the warmest sweater I own (wool, of course) and I wear it to keep warm in the winter!

The most important thing I learned from Myra was how to tear back and fix mistakes. By recognizing the patterns of bumps and smooth sides, you could tell what you had done. Counting stitches, recognizing twisted or wrong stitches, all that stuff. By the time I finished that sweater, I felt ready for anything!

Story continued tomorrow...

My knitting history.. the earliest years

OK. Yawn. Boring. But this is the history of where I began with knitting.

My Gram Shaler taught me to knit. (this would be the Grandma in pictures last month) I think she taught all the grandkids to knit...even the boys (but I would need a grandson to confirm that). We had to do the "slippers" I haven't found a pattern like the slippers we made, but they were not too dissimilar from this one:

I think mine were blue, for some reason.

Grandma also made every grandchild an afghan. Marcel pattern (like this Afghan that I believe Gram made for Dad and Jan).

You got to pick your own colors. For some reason, I picked purple (curse the 70s), so I have a lovely purple afghan and it is in a different pattern than she usually did. It's well done, but doesn't really match the decor in any of my rooms. Here it is:

One more afgahn from Gram. In the late 80s/early 90s, I wanted an afghan I could use in my home that matched. She was willing to do it if I bought the supplies. This is the pattern she chose... she didn't want to do a marcel pattern again. I guess Crocheting was easier for her. So this is a lovely "Rose Ripple" afghan. I have the pattern for this one. Great late 80s colors, eh?

I treasure each one of these afghans that my Gram made. Each is special to me, even if the colors are not ones I would chose today.

One last bit of info from my early knitting. At some point I got this pattern book. 35 cents and published in 1968. Thought I'd share since it is a lovely piece of nostalgia. I have notes in the book, but I never made anything from it.

Gram taught me the "American" style of knitting... hold the loose yarn in your right hand and loop it over the needle with a swish of your hand. This is how I'm trying to teach my girls now, too. I now knit "continental" style where the loose yarn is in your left hand and you kind of grab it with the needle and pull it through. But that is a story for another day. I never saw gram knit anything other than afghans, slippers and washcloths. I wish I had gotten a pair of her needles (did she have anything other than a size 8? Either pink or blue metal.) when she died, but that didn't happen. I also have the pattern for knit washcloths written out from her on a scrap of an envelope. That's a pretty cool thing to still have.

Once in high school I got this bright idea I was going to knit a sweater coat. I got a pattern and all the yarn (It was expensive, I recall). It was bright colors with wide stripes. Not sure what happened to that, but I never finished it and no longer have the pattern. And then the itch to knit lay dormant for many years...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

In spring a young girl's fancy turns to...


Yep. It's happened the past two springs. The weather gets warmer, and I get the itch to knit. I'm not sure I understand it. Is it a Norwegian instinct to start new woolens for the next winter before it arrives? I don't know. Seems odd. But it is happening again.

I have joined www.ravelry.com so I can have an on-line knitting community. I am nancyscraps there because... well... nancyknits was taken. Plus I am nancyscraps on several of my other on-line presences.

I have pulled out all my projects to take stock and re-prioritize. I am actually proud of myself that I don't hoard yarn (I do have that problem with scrapping supplies, but not with yarn). I hoard knitting patterns, however, and have several patterns and books sitting in queue waiting for other projects to finish up so I can buy yarn for them.

I have 4 projects on needles right now. A hat, two different socks, and a sweater. I have two project "mid needle".. that is... I have finished the first mitten of each project and need to start the second mitten. So six projects. I should wish for that few unfinished scrap projects.

For some reason, I decided to blog over the next few days about knitting... Guess the scrapper in me wants to write it all down. It's on my mind.

OK. Yeah. And I need topics for my blog. I was looking at my blog entries from two years ago and I was very impressed with my writing and topic selection back then. Lately I obviously haven't thought of any blog-worthy topics. My apologies to those who may have been keeping up with me by blog...that obviously hasn't been working. Try facebook, ok?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Girl Scout Camp!

I went to Girl Scout camp with both girls. Amelia would have been by herself, so I went with her. Then, since Charlie was out of town, I ended up bringing Margaret along. We had a marvelous time. It wasn't too cold, but still a lot of snow, so the paths were really muddy and got icy in the evenings/mornings. I fell once, but no damage done. Some of the girls got super muddy.

We did finger knitting and "bowl" knitting. I made this "scarf", Amelia made this "dress" for Pat (I only helped a bit).

Margaret tried everything there was to offer, but resisted having her picture taken. I did get her to pose for this one at the end.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Here's what all the slop outside looks like while it rains.

And the poor snowmen from last Friday....losing it...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Sloppy Day

What do you do on a warmish (45 degree) sloppy day with no school? Well...

Put on boots, mittens and a hat, and ride your bike.

Ride through puddles.

Make a snowman...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Kids make me laugh

Conversation tonight:

Mom: Do you know who wrote "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe"?

Margaret: No. But I know who wrote "Lyle the Crocodile".

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Another Classic

Love this one. Big Bro Steve with Mom.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Big Brother Steve... ca.1960

I'm starting up on scanning the family slides again. I don't arrive for two more years, so I have to endure many more pictures of my cute big brother. Ain't he a doll? This picture is precious.. he is with Grandpa and Grandma Shaler. I think Grandpa died within a year or two of this picture, because he was gone before I was born.

Steve's first born? Named Ross, after Grandpa here. My first born? Named Amelia, after Grandma here. Obviously they were two very, very special people to us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lists of lists of lists

Yeah, there has been a break in my blog writing. Since anyone that follows my blog probably follows my Facebook, you should all know that I was laid off from Seagate that day after I wrote that last entry.

I have been working on the resume and contact list, but mostly I have been in denial and am finding other things to distract my mind.

I think the biggest thing on my to-do list (this would be the "master" to-do list) is to declutter my memorabilia stashes. I went through one box today and threw over half of it. I hate to mess up the layers too much, because like an archeological dig, I can date items by what I find around them. But to share what a mess I am (and mess is a compliment), in this same box I found...

A list of "10 things I want my Children to Know" (A nice list that I will share with you all someday.)

All my performance appraisals from a period of about 6 to 10 years ago.

Vegetarian recipes (Yeah. I went through that phase. Too hard for me to really commit to. Plus I like ham too much.)

A sheet on "Why do Yoga?"

A packet of bible studies on the Healing stories of Jesus

A note from our ex-next door neighbor that she wrote us shortly after she moved. Um...8 or 9 years ago?

A random airline ticket.

A copy of a magazine with a cover article about laughter at work.

Father's Day cards from kids to Charlie from about 4 or 5 years ago.

And the funniest thing ever... It is a list of scrapbook projects. I made the list on August 18th, 2003. I know because I dated the list. And I dated the date I made a revision..., January 27th, 2004. On it I have 16 albums listed that I wanted to complete. For each album there is an entry for each of these items:

% done, Album type, complete goal, and then an empty column where I hand wrote status. I even crossed out due dates and put in new due dates. You know...so I could see the due dates "slip". Just like a project at work. It is freakin' hilarious funny.

I remember when I ran my entire life like that. Things went smoother. I think I felt less overwhelmed. But I don't think I can go back. It just made me giggle. Giggle. Giggle.

Of the 16 albums on this list, I have completed 4. (not so bad) Four that I still haven't completed are the "missing years" of my life right after Margaret was born and I did not handle life with 2 kids so well. Two incomplete are the kid's baby books. I only have ever done a cover page for each. I may as well punt on those. Two are heritage type albums that I will still do someday. I have punted on the rest of the projects...mostly vacation albums. Those don't make much sense if you do them 6 years after the vacation is over.

OK. Back to serious job hunting, but I am vowing to get through at least one pile of this stuff every day. Hopefully I'll be starting a new job before I get all the way through them, but it would also be nice to be done with them. I just won't wish for being out of work that long, ok?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A leprechaun story

Here's a repeat story from my blog. Amelia is now in 5th grade, so this is almost 4 years old! (I know, I'm so popular I get to repeat greatest hits. Well...this is one of my favorites. I am cleaning out some files and found it again, so I thought I'd share...enjoy!)

I was getting Amelia (my 1st grader) ready for school this morning and she
asked me to help her get dressed. I picked out jeans, a white shirt
and a green cardigan (for St. Pat's day).

She proceded to tell me that she needed green EVERYTHING. So I picked
out Green pants.

"No mommy, I need a green shirt, too!"

After much searching for a green shirt...

"But mommy, I need green underwear and green socks and shoes, too"

"But honey, we don't have any green socks or shoes. (I had found the
green "days of the week" underwear by this time, that she refuses to
wear any other day because she doesn't like the way they look)"

"But mommy, if I'm not wearing all green my Leprechaun will PINCH me!"

"Pinch you? I don't think your Leprechaun will pinch you if you don't
have green socks. He won't even see them!"

"No mommy. He'll pinch my toes! I don't want Max to pinch my toes"

"Who's Max?"

(looking at me, quite exasperated by this time) "MY LEPRECHAUN!"

"Oh. I didn't know you had your own leprechaun."

By this time I am darn glad I am a resourcful mom with lots of craft items at
my fingertips. I drew shamrocks on her socks with a pigment marker
and tied green ribbons around her shoes.

So she looks at me with her big smile and asks, "There mommy, how do
I look?"

I replied "Good enough to pinch"

She sure gave me a look for that comment! (lol)

Then she started on her 4 year old sister, who was very happy that I had
let her wear a pretty dress, tights, and the shoes with the hearts on
them. "Margaret, you're not wearing green! Your leprechaun is going
to pinch you!"

I was quite distressed at this comment as we were already running
late and I had no idea how I would produce another set of green

Margaret saved the day. Her reply? "I'm too pretty to pinch. My
leprechaun is going to DANCE with me!"

Have a Happy St. Pat's Day...no matter your background! And if your
leprechaun asks you to dance, make sure you say yes!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

American Girl Journey

Well, I had said I wan't going to, but I did. Since we were staying right on Michigan Avenue, we trekked on down to the American Girl Doll store. I told each girl they could have ONE doll. That we are not collecting them. That we are not buying any additional accessories. We really did have a lot of fun. Here we are on our walk back.

Amelia has Kirsten.

Margaret has Felicity.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Why did I have these?

They must have been gifts. I can't believe I ever allowed them to be played in my house.

I am now listening to John Rutter direct the Clare College choir. So wonderfully beautiful. I have tears in my eyes at several junctures because it is just so rich and lovely.

One of my other resolutions is to listen to more good music this year. I had forgotten how much I loved Choral music. I guess the demise of WCAL (St. Olaf's classical radio station that they sold to MPR) contributed somewhat, but I just haven't pulled the albums out much lately. This one is rich enough to listen to all by itself for many, many days, weeks, or months.

The above pictured CDs are now safely placed in the donation bag. I supposed I shouldn't ever expose anyone's ears to that music again, but maybe someone wants it? The future of pop music depends on it.

(Oh...and yes, I did call them albums. Sorry. Habit. I'll put them (the Rutter that is) on the MP3 player, but it's just not the same as listening to them in a room with unfettered ears!)

Oh... and for the record... Margaret came into my room as I was listening to the Rutter and the first words out of her mouth were "Ooooh. Pretty."

Monday, January 05, 2009

Christmas Concert at IDS Crystal Court

The fifth grade at Amelia's school does a Christmas/holiday concert every year at the IDS center in Downtown Minneapolis. They have a large court and with the skyway system there is tons of foot traffic through there at lunchtime. Amelia was sooo excited about it and is still talking about how cool it was.

Here's a shot of the whole class from the 2nd floor balcony.

Here's Amelia giving it her all. I think this was while they were singing "Amazing Grace".

Bye now!!

Friday, January 02, 2009

Field Museum Chicago

On Monday this week (December 29) we went to the Field Museum in Chicago. I remember going when I was in grade school (I grew up about 1.5 hours away from it, so it was a usual field trip in grades school). All I remembered from the Field Museum were the stuffed animals. Glad to see they were still there. They have a T-Rex skeleton, and a super lovely building.

I'd like to know when exhibits started all being in the dark, however. One of my daughters had really quite an entirely horrible day because she was a bit spooked by all the exhibits. Every one is now dark, with spotlights on posters and artifacts. I am not happy to have spent all that money and had one of the girls basically clinging and whining all day. However...the other one LOVED it. Amelia wanted to read every poster, see every video, view every artifact. Wow. She just soaked in the Indian exhibits. They have a very nice selection of artifacts of native groups from the Americas...Mayas, Incas, Eskimos, Aztecs, all the "US" groups that Amelia is studying right now in school. So that part of the day made me very happy and made the whole money thing worth it.

Most of the pictures are crappy, I'm not happy with my camera at all. Really. I just cannot figure out the lighting/exposure stuff with it. The flash just is not working for me. I am not a camera idiot. I have taken some very nice pictures in my day and I knew how to handle f-stops and aperatures to get what I wanted. I was much happier with my film SLR. Maybe I just need a point and shoot digital and continue to use the film for pictures I care about. And I know I can post-process a lot of these pictures to improve them. But the point is that I don't have the time to do that (I barely have time to get pictures ordered), and with film I always loved the way they came out. sigh.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

New Year's Resolution = More Blogging

I have done a pathetic job of writing anything lately. I usually don't do resolutions, but this year I resolve to blog more. I have to remind myself that it's ok to write even when one feels one does not have something profound to say. Because often what we think is not profound really is, and vice versa...

Little girls waiting for the ball to drop to the bottom!!