Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Yarn-Along: April 27th ... Easter break and lots of driving ...

... and therefore, lots of knitting!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a single photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~ Ginny at small things

We were blessed to be able to take a short road-trip down to North Carolina to visit dear friends for Easter and a few days after.  About 20 minutes from their house on Easter Sunday, our van started making a very odd, scary sound (so worrisome, I actually stopped knitting for that final stage of the drive!).  We got to the house and the men took care of the van (we got it back on Monday evening, $300 later!) while the kids played with their NC counterparts and the mom and I knitted.  Poor dear, she's pregnant with their 8th and so can't knit too long ... it makes her dizzy.  

But I got lots done.  Here's what I got done since last week:
 Two scarves in cashmere/silk/merino blend (yes, VERY luscious!) -- the top one is a gorgeous teal that I've called "The Long and Winding Road" while the lower one is a beautiful true royal blue that is called "Lapis Lazuli Lace".  Both patterns should be up by the end of the week ....
A cable sampler jacket is currently on the needles.  Knit with KP's Cadena (a wool/alpaca blend bulky) the jacket is going quickly.  The welt is a cable I "unvented" which grows into a 9-stitch braided plait with seed stitch as the ground.  I have jury-duty today and tomorrow, so I can get lots done on the jacket today!

Read-aloud?  Not so much read since it's Easter break 'round these parts!  On my nightstand, I'm just about done with Motherless ... a fiction book packed with Church teaching (and the explanations of) for all things bioethical -- end of life, abortafacients/abortions, IVF, etc.  What a great book ... I can't wait to review it!  I'm also reading Smashing WordPress to get my new website up and running -- I've got a deadline of May 1st to have it ready; next week, the yarn-along will come from there (God willing!).

How has your knitting and reading been progressing?  Don't forget to check-in over at small things and catch up with all the others as we participate in this week's yarn-along.  [Oh and do leave me comments on your reaction to my knitting ... I love comments and advice and suggestions!]

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Yarn-Along: April 20th .... lots of knitting accomplished this week!

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a single photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~ Ginny at small things

Wow, this has been an amazingly prolific knitting week (must be because we did a 6-hour round-trip road-trip with dh driving and me knitting!).  That said, here is what I got accomplished since last week:
Spring is Blooming baby blanket (30" diameter) - (immediate pdf download $5.00)
 Malcolm's Easy-Peasy, One-Piece One-Button Vest (pattern coming soon)
 Hand-dyed Harvest Fingerless Mitts (immediate pdf download $4.00)
Ruby Red Butterfly scarf (pattern coming soon)
Cool, huh?  But with that much knitting, not so much reading got done.  I did finish No He Can't (scariest book I've ever read but a must-read for all voters).  Here are the books we're reading this week:
The family reading:  we're still working on our Shakespeare unit using the Lamb book and BBC dvds (got thru MacBeth and Merchant of Venice; this week, we'll do Taming of the Shrew and As You Like It).  We're also reading Chasing Vermeer, a great first novel with puzzles and mysteries woven throughout the story ... plus all the rabbit trails for art history!

My reading:  I'm still getting up to speed on CSS and HTML and WordPress tech stuff.  I'm such a geek ... I LOVE this stuff!  I also just started Motherless ... an amazing bioethics novel that grabs you from the get-go!  Written with a decidedly active Catholic world-view, this is an interesting story about end-of-life issues.  Very good so far.

On the knitting needles:  since I just finished the Ruby Red Butterfly last night, I haven't cast on yet.  But that little ball of yarn?  A blend of cashmere (50%), silk (25%) and merino (25%) in a lovely deep teal color ... yes, I swooned when I got it!  (The Ruby Red is made with the same fiber blend ... knits lovely and has GREAT color definition).  I've already charted the stitch-pattern for that one ... a cable/lace scarf!

Ginny is a little late posting this week's yarn-along ... but feel free to leave comments below and let me know what's on your needles and on your reading table!  And a blessed and happy Easter to one and all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Review: No He Can't: How Barack Obama is dismantling hope and change

Disclaimer:  I rec'd a review copy of this book through the publisher's Book Sneeze review program.  The review below is my honest reaction to No He Can't: How Barack Obama is dismantling hope and change.

I've been to many places in my almost-50 years of life and I have to say I love our country -- there are few places on this earth that can boast of major political upheavals occurring peacefully, of the freedoms we Americans have and use daily, of the wealth and power of our nation.  But these great benefits come with a price -- the price of responsibility for knowing what is happening in our country, of knowing what our employees (remember, when you vote someone into office, they are for all intents and purposes your employees -- if you don't like what they are doing, you must "fire" them!). in Washington are doing for us, and in ensuring that we never allow these rights, these freedoms to be taken from ANY American.

Kevin McCullough's book, No He Can't, is a book that every voting-age (or even, soon-to-be voting age) American should read.  McCullough defines four major policies areas and what the current administration, that is, Mr. Obama, is saying he'll do, is actually doing and what the end results will be if these policies remain unchecked.  The policies areas covered include:

  1. the economy -- on the campaign trail, Mr. Obama stated that there would be no tax increase for families making less than $250,000 per year; but in the same speeches, he swore he would remove the tax breaks of the Bush administration -- the net result?  By cancelling the tax breaks, the tax bill for everyone went up.  The $1.3 TRILLION stimulus package, the brain-child of such experts as Mr. Obama, Mr. Reid and Ms. Pelosi -- a package that could have been distributed to each family in the United States (where a family of four could be given a check for $17,000) -- instead went for corporate bail-outs, "cash for clunkers" (that no one wanted anyway and which ran out of funding within a week of the program's start), and millions to STD awareness. In other words, the huge national debt incurred by this stimulus package was a major flop ... and one that we'll be paying for the next few centuries.  Remember, these politicians are our employees -- "we the people" elected them and asked them to do a job; is this the job we asked them to do?
  2. national security and international policies -- in May 2010, Mr. Obama gave the commencement speech at WestPoint.  His topic was that he was intent on shaping a new international order, to minimize the US role of securing democratic values around the world, and "implied that America should not claim the mantle or the right of self-protection or self-responsibility" (pg 79).  He was talking to newly graduated Army officers, men and women who would shortly be asked to go out and defend our country -- and the President of the United States tells them he's basically moving toward getting rid of these jobs?  That's like telling a group of new-hires in a company that in the next few years, we won't need you anymore!  Mr. Obama, who seems to promote a non-American agenda (buddying-up to anti-American international leaders like Chavez of Venezuela and Castro of Cuba, embracing blatantly non-democratic policies),on one of his first international trips as President he spoke to a group of Egyptian students in Cairo; the speech "equated the roots of freedom in the United States with the origins of Islam, a religious system that enslaves women and dehumanizes and kills opponents" (pg 84).  Really?  Is this what we want our hired President to say?  Is this what we think?  
  3. domestic policies -- all of the domestic policies pushed by the Obama administration (health care bill, education policies, recreating the definition of "family", allowing millions of federal dollars to go to Planned Parenthood, etc) seek to shift our democracy to a socialist state through more and more, bigger and bigger government, to cause our free market economy to implode, and to punish those who disagree with his policies.  When the blogosphere was rampant with critical essays about the proposed health bill, the White House website asked readers to send links to anti-administration posts to the White House so they could track the dissidents!  Really?  In a democratic country, we're encouraged to rat on each other?  Hmmm ... so much for the First Amendment!  Is this what we want our elected officials to say and do?
The final section of the book, "render unto Caesar", lays-out what "we the people" need to do.  McCullough asks the reader:  how do we treat our political officials, and most especially, how do we treat our President?  We elect these folks ... and the elected officials are our employees.  If they are not doing their job, they need to be fired.  We are stockholders in the country, we all benefit when all is well and we all suffer when things are not good.  We elect officials who we think will fix things.  We have hope that our officials will fix what's broken, leave the overall good things in place, and make, FIRST, the country a better place, and SECOND, make the world a better place.  Is our current administration doing this?  Why not?

Politically, I'm a conservative -- want smaller government, less federal spending, protection of rights for all humans (from the pre-born to natural death).  I am a Roman Catholic and believe in a merciful God and my right to practice my religion.  I don't want any of these things taken away ... I don't want a debt that my great-great-great-grandchildren will have to cover.  I don't want bigger and bigger government.  I don't want a socialist state where the liberal elite tell me and mine what we should do.  I am part of "we the people" and I think Mr. Obama needs to be "fired" at his next "review" time.

I highly recommend this book to all voting-age Americans!

Monday, April 18, 2011

I love my UPS man ...

... look what he brought today:
check out this post ... the top in the center of the cover -- it's mine~!  For more info, check out this link:
More Knitting in the Sun ...

Abandonment to Divine Providence is like a tapestry ...

knitting directions for the baby blanket pictured can be purchased through my Ravelry Store ... the blanket (30" diameter) is titled, "Spring is Blooming".


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Yarn-along: April 13th and Spring has sprung!

After what seemed like YEARS of winter weather (not snow, but ooky-mooky, icy cold days and dreary skies), we are FINALLY getting a bit of spring.  This week we're getting rain that promises to have our garden blooming fit to beat the band -- the dogwoods are blooming out, the hostas are unfurling and the Japanese maples are covered in red-green leaves.  Gorgeous even if the sky is not!

But, you've come to see what I have for this week's yarn-along, haven't you.  Here's the idea:
~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a single photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~ Ginny @ small things.

This is our yarn-along!
On the needles:  a baby blanket for a dear friend (and dh's colleague) whose wife just had their 4th child ... a beautiful baby girl ... last week.  The blanket is knit in the round, so you're not getting the full effect here (as it's still on the circs), but the yarn is different shades of Dale of Norway's Falk (a washable wool version of their traditional Heilo).  With a pink center and than 3 shades of purple ... it's very appropriate for a baby born right before Easter!

The yarn skeins on the right are kool-aid dyed yarns we did yesterday in our St. Agnes Fiber Club.  The greens/blues is in fingering weight for a pair of socks for me and fingerless mitts for BamBam while the reds/purples is a worsted weight for me to make String Bean a pair of fingerless mitts, too.   

On the reading table: we finished Another Whole Nother Story and I decided we'd do a fun introductory unit to Shakespeare.   Using the classic Charles and Mary Lamb Tales from Shakespeare as our spine, we'll learn about the master's comedies and dramas.  We've started with Macbeth ... having read the Lamb synopsis, and having memorized the witches' "boil, boil, toil and trouble" speech, we're now in the process of watching a BBC version.  We're just about finished and will then turn to Merchant of Venice for something just a tad "lighter".  This is a GREAT way for the kids to learn about (and learn to love) Shakespeare before having to analyze his works to death later on.

My reading:  I'm building a new website (to be unveiled soon ... please pray for me!) so of course I've been poring over books like WordPress for Dummies (which is excellent, btw).  I'm also continuing my early morning spiritual reading/prayer time with the classic, Abandonment to Divine Providence.  Since I'm such a fiber-fanatic, and to prep for my talk this past weekend (which went wonderfully ... thanks for the prayers), I've been loving reading the pre-publication copy of The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook (review coming soon):  this is a treasure trove of clear and concise information about all animal fibers used to make yarn (weaving/knitting).  This book is eye-candy for this fiber fanatic!

Enjoy your day .... visit the other folks who participate in Ginny's yarn-along ... and let me know, too, what's on your needles and on your reading table!

BTW, the wrap I was working on last week ... 
Spring Garden wrap 
for $6.00 (MUST be able to read charts!)

Friday, April 8, 2011

So, where will you be on May 7th?

Here's an email I just got:

Everyone, take a look at this movie trailer for THERE BE DRAGONS. It's a powerful film about love and redemption, directed by Roland Joffe (The Mission, The Killing Fields). It opens in theaters May 6!

This looks like it will be a great movie! Here's a bit about the story-line:
[It's] an epic action-adventure romance set during the turmoil of the Spanish Civil War. The story traces the lives of two young men, Josemaria Escriva (Charlie Cox) and Manolo Torres (Wes Bentley), childhood friends who are separated by the political upheaval of pre-war Spain to find themselves on opposite sides as war erupts. Choosing peace, Josemaria becomes a priest and struggles to spread reconciliation by founding the movement Opus Dei (work of God).
Manolo chooses war and becomes a spy for the fascists. He becomes obsessed with a beautiful Hungarian revolutionary, Ildiko, who has joined the militia in pursuit of passion and purpose. But when Ildiko rejects him out of love for the courageous militia leader Oriol, Manolo's jealousy leads him down a path of betrayal.

A group has gotten a viewing down here in Fredericksburg on May 7th at 7p.m. (movie location TBA).  I know we'll be going.  Why don't you think about joining us .... or check if it's in your area the weekend of May 6th ...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Yarn-along: April 6th and all is well ...

~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading? Take a single photo and share it either on your blog or on Flickr. Leave a link below to share your photo with the rest of us! ~

... on the reading front -- the kids' read-aloud has slowed a bit since we had a few days of gorgeous weather and they wanted to be out and about but we are almost done with Another Whole Nother Story ... any suggestions for what should we read next?  

I'm about half thru No He Can't ... wow, this is the scariest book I've ever read!  Hard to imagine a, this guy was elected president, and b, that he thinks he should be given another four years .... McCullough's book is an amazing indictment of the machinations of this particular politico!

... on the knitting front all is well!  Just about finished with "Spring Garden wrap" (will post the pattern soon) done in a lovely sage-y green of cashmere/bamboo blend that knits up like a dream.  The white pieces are some short-row samples for my talk this weekend at Graves Mountain (please pray for me ... and there may be a few spaces left if you'd like to join us out in the mountains).  

I've also been playing with knitted hearts.  These two came from this great FREE design Teresa Fox did up.  These are so cool: they're knitted in one-piece, stuffed (or not), felted (or not).  The multi-color one is KP's Bare Superwash wool ... dyed in a crockpot with kool-aid!  The dyeing technique is easy, clean and gives great results (and the house smells like kool-aid for a bit!).  I didn't stuff that one, but instead left it flat.  The green-ish one on the left is Plymouth's "Poems" a silk/wool blend that I stuffed. 

I've also been playing with starting up a website (thanks to a dear friend's web expertise) and have been playing with a new logo:

What do you think of the design?  

Come join our yarn-along ... always great fun to see what others have on their needles and on their reading tables!  I get such great ideas for both ... 

Monday, April 4, 2011

Help support creativity and get some real bang for your buck!

Last week, I found out about the coolest thing ... a way to support creative efforts, fledgling artists, published designers do even more.  Shannon Okey (the brains behind the phenomenal publishing house of Cooperative Press, hand-knits designer and all round amazingly creative woman) has started a month-long campaign to do even more for indie knitting designers, using a program called Kickstarter.

Here's a video that shows some of the designs that are going into the new series Shannon is publishing:  Fresh Designs:

I have some designs in these upcoming books -- a set of knitted dolls for Fresh Designs: Toys and a set of southwest-inspired sofa pillows in Fresh Designs: Home.  

Now, these books will be published this summer regardless of Shannon matching (or even better, beating) her goal of $5000.  The important thing here ... and why I've already pledged a bit ... is that this is a chance to help an indie publisher, indie hand-knits designers, and a host of other folks do something very cool ... very creative.  Any pledge, large or small (even $1) will help.  There are some cool incentives for different pledge points -- including copies of the 10-book Fresh Design books!

So what are you waiting for?  Go make a pledge, would ya?  And thanks .... from one of many independent hand-knits designers!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

BamBam grows up ...

... and makes his First Holy Communion today!
Today is the anniversary of John Paul the Great's death and so we thought it appropriate for our BamBam to make his FHC on the date when his patron was sent home to the Father.  As an added bonus, it was First Saturday, so we had Morning Prayer, Rosary, Confession AND Mass.  
LegoManiac was able to serve and String Bean was happy to have a chance to dress up and look lovely in pink!

Congrats, BamBam ... we are very proud of you and love you very much!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Thoughts to carry us into the weekend ...

... at the midpoint of our Lenten journey:

Do you live moment-to-moment, listening to God?  How do you do that?