Monday, July 31, 2006


I'm home from Camp, and I'm tired! More tomorrow!


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Getting Nervous!

I leave for Knitting Camp Thursday morning!! On one hand, I can't wait...but on the other hand, I'm getting kind of nervous. I'm going to Camp 3 - with people like Lizbeth Upitis, Dale Long, Ann Swanson, and Emily Ocker, to name a few. Hopefully I can keep up!!!!

Monday, July 24, 2006


Today is my Grandma's birthday. She would have been 88 years old; she died very suddenly on March 2nd, 1992 - the day before my baby shower when I was pregnant with Kelson. This is Eula Mae Oakleaf at her high school graduation - wasn't she pretty?

She married my granddad, Ray Benefiel, soon after she graduated in 1936. They were married for 56 years, and Granddad died 9 months after Grandma.

Grandma was always working on something; knitting crocheting, quilting, sewing. When I was 6 years old, I pestered her to show me how to do something - anything - that she was doing. She showed me how to crochet, and her house was filled with an entire skein of green acrylic yarn that was made into a chain. The next time I visited, she got out a pair of knitting needles and a skein of harvest orange acrylic, and she showed me how to knit. I knit squares and rectangles and more squares. They were uneven, hideous things, but grandma told me that I was doing great. She showed me a very basic slipper pattern - knit a rectangle, decrease at the top, sew up the sides and back, and attach a pompom to the top. That year several members of the family received slippers in various shades of acrylic yarn - gold, brown and green (it was the early 70's, after all).

I haven't stopped since. Sure, I took an rather extended break in high school and college, but I never really stopped knitting (or quilting, or sewing. I can crochet a mean doily, but I really don't care for it). Grandma never really stopped, either. When diabetes took her sight, she put down the knitting needles and the crochet hook, but she kept right on quilting. I have one of her unfinished scrap quilts; you can watch the progression of her vision as you go from one end of the quilt to another.

Grandma and I were like two peas in a pod. I used to spend a lot of time at her and Granddad's place in Michigan; it's where I ran away for long weekends in college, and where I spent every single spring break. Grandma used to say "go get the thingamajiggy off of the whatchamacallit," and I would go get it for her because I always seemed to know exactly what she was talking about. (Granddad and Dad used to say the exact same thing when that happened...."Now, cut that out!")

Grandma's been gone for 14 years, and I still miss her. Happy Birthday, Grandma.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Look What Juju did!!!

Wow!!! I just went to the mailbox, and there was an unexpected box from Julie. (Julie was my spoilee for Secret Pal 6 - we really had a good time!!) At the end of last month, Julie finished a pair of socks that she really didn't like, and I thought they were beautiful. I made a joking comment to the effect of "if you really don't like them, I wear a size 8-1/2." Well, look what Juju did!! She sent them to me! :-) They are extremely comfy, and they fit like they were made just for me!

It's 90+ degrees outside, and I don't want to take these off! Maybe I'll just sit next to an air-conditioning vent all day.....

These were tucked into the bottom of the box:

Aren't they gorgeous?? I love stitch markers, and these are just beautiful!!!

Thank you, Julie!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Look what the mailman brought me yesterday! My secret pal strikes again! :-) I really like this book - I've taken it out of the library several times on interlibrary loan, but they always seem to want it back. This is a great shawl reference book, and is very much appreciated!!

I finished the socks...

They're fraternal twins, but I got them (with much futzing) as close to identical as I could. I don't know about the fair committee, but I know that Ricki will like them! The picture makes the left sock look wider than the right, but they're not - the left sock is drying, and I hadn't finished blocking it completely.

I don't know if I'm going to finish the gloves in time for the fair - I work on them for an hour, and I get sick of them. We'll see...

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Random is good!

So far, I'm short on my entries for the Medina County Fair. I'm entering the PeaPod sweater in the "Babies" category
Aunt Bev is loaning me the Harrisville Basketweave Vest that I designed and knit for her last Christmas. That's going in the "Adult Clothing" category. In the "Scarf" category, I'm entering the Mystery Shawl. That's the closest category for shawls; last year the scarf wall was amass with long strips of fun fur and 2 shawls...

That left me with 2 categories - "Children's Clothing" and "Mittens/Gloves" - and nothing to enter (of course I signed up for one entry in each category!) Fair entries have to be in on the 30th, and I'm leaving for Knitting Camp on the 27th; I'm really hoping that I can count on Kevin to take my entries over that day! Anyway, back to the entryless categories....

I have a few balls of Dale of Norway Hauk, so on Thursday I decided to make mittens. Hauk 100% wool yarn that is saturated with Teflon, so it's virtually waterproof - what a great yarn for snow-shoveling! I had the mitten done all the way to the decreases, and I realized that it was too tight across the tops of my fingers. After much ripping back and detangling of yarn, I'm back to this: As I ripped back to just above the thumb gusset, I decided that I would rather have a pair of gloves instead, so I'm going to increase a few stitches and start the fingers. After that much ripping, though, I wanted to put it down for a little while. That still left me without anything started for the Children's category. I only know one child well enough to knit for her, and that's my niece Ricki. She'll be 5 in October, and she loves wild colors. Yesterday evening I decided that she needed socks. Bright, wild socks that I could enter in the fair. :-) As a result, this yarn from Julie became this size 13 sock today: Lots of flashing and pooling, but I'm only knitting around on 40 stitches, so it was expected. I think it looks pretty darn cool!! Ricki will love them. I'm just finishing the ribbing on the second sock; Kelson has a doubleheader tomorrow, so I'll have plenty of knitting time while I'm keeping score. Then it'll be back to the gloves...

I finished my movie prop for knitting camp:

Now I just have to figure out a way to attach teeth (painted red with model paint, I think) and knit a few bones...

Gracie found a toad on the back porch. We relocated it to the garden, and made a toad house out of an old flower pot. We've named him Clarence...

Clarence is Lumpy's real name on Leave it to Beaver - get it? Well, I bet my mom thinks it's funny...

Mentioning the Mystery Shawl earlier reminded me...

In my emails yesterday, there was a request for test-knitters for shawl patterns. Of course, I sent an inquiry, because, you know, my life just isn't busy enough. They sent me an email today with the requirements for becoming a test-knitter. Most of it was pretty standard, but when I saw the following requirement, I actually started laughing:

"7. You will be required to purchase the yarn for the project – you will not be able to choose the yarn but you will be able to choose the color. If you decide to keep the item, 50% of the yarn purchase price will be refunded to you. If you do not wish to keep the item, 100% of the yarn purchase price will be refunded to you."

Hahaha!!!! That's it! That's the entire payment that you will receive!! No other compensation whatsoever! Sure - I'll knit a big old shawl in your yarn and test out your pattern, just so I can get half off of the yarn that you're selling! What a deal!!! And if I don't want to keep the shawl, I get....bupkus!! Nada!! Nothing but the money back that I already paid!! You have GOT to be kidding me!! Unfortunately, somebody will probably get suckered into it.

Now, what project am I going to take to camp?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Message in a puzzle!!!

Many, many strips of clear packing tape on both sides, and I was able to read the message!!! Now to start searching blogs and Spin-Off magazines to see if I can figure out who she is! :-)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Now What?

Yes, I know - 2 posts in one day...

The puzzle's done: And this one was pretty difficult. All of the pieces are exactly the same shape, and since they were glued together at one point, they won't lay flat with each other. The boys and I still managed to put it together pretty quickly, though - it's a rainy, yucky day and we can't go outside to do anything. Now I have a problem, though....if you look at this puzzle the wrong way it falls apart, so how am I going to get to the message on the back?

I'm thinking "strips of packing tape."

I'll let you know what I come up with.

Wow wow wow!!

Did I mention wow? Look at what my mailman just delivered! My Secret Pal 7 Angel has really gone above and beyond this time! When I opened the wrapping, my first thought was "she used a puzzle box for shipping - what a great idea!" She, however, went a few steps further...
This is actually a 500 piece puzzle (I love, love, love jigsaw puzzles - Angel, how did you know?) She put it together, turned it over, wrote a letter to me on the back, and took the puzzle back apart to put into the box. According to her note, the letter is full of hints about her identity. What an ingenious idea!!!

The puzzle box held more goodies:

According to her note, she picked up the yarn and soaps at the Black Sheep Gathering. The soaps are absolutely wonderful - the one on the top is a knitters/spinners soap. It's made with lanolin...which is one of my favorite ingredients in soaps and lotions. The other one is called "Sugar Loaf," and it smells divine - hints of brown sugar, honey and oatmeal. Mmmmmmm... Very warm and definitely going in the shower today!

The egg held this wonderful surprise:

Stitch markers that she made!!! These are very lightweight, wonderfully constructed and absolutely gorgeous!!!

The yarn is a 50 gram ball of laceweight wool from Yarn Place. 1200 yards!!!!! Wow, this is nice yarn!! I love this shade of teal, but it gets better...look at what you see when you look at the end!

Isn't that just gorgeous? I'm thinking that this would be perfect for the flower basket shawl pattern that my SP8 sent me...

Well, I now know that my Angel is from Washington. Time to clear the dining room table and get started on that puzzle! They're calling for rain on and off all day today, so it will a perfect day for working on puzzles. Thank you Angel!!!! These things are so perfect - are you sure we haven't met? I'm starting to wonder how you know me so well... :-)

On the knitting front: this mess, believe it or not, is going to be my movie prop for knitting camp. (17 DAYS!!!!) Hint: Bring out the Holy Hand Grenade!!!

Baseball: I'm an avid baseball fan. Specifically, I'm an avid Indians fan. (You kinda have to's the Indians, after all. No fly-by-night fans would ever make it around here) I've played softball since I was about 7, and I've been a carded baseball and softball umpire since I was 18. I've kept score at every baseball game I've attended since I was a kid. Dad taught me when I was really little - we'd make score sheets and sit down with the Indians game on the radio. Because of him, I have a great love for the game and a pretty extensive knowledge of the rules. (Thanks, Dad!!!) Somewhere, I have a bunch of scored programs dating back from the 1970's; I can't watch a live baseball game without a score sheet in my hands. As a result, I've been the scorekeeper for every game that my boys have ever played. Kyle doesn't play anymore, but Kelson loves the game. (You should see the looks I get when I'm watching the game, keeping score - including pitch counts - and knitting on a sock at the same time!!)


Yesterday was the BYS 13-14 boys' All-Star game. As the head coach for the Orioles, Kevin was one of the coaches. I brought a scorebook with me - for the reason why, see the preceding paragraph. I guess I've developed a reputation as an accurate scorekeeper; as I was sitting in the stands before the game, knitting on a sweater, the league commissioner walked up to me and said "Oh, good! You're here!! Do you have a pencil with you?" And with that, I became the official statistician for the All-Star game. :-) As it turns out, the league commissioner is a sports writer for the Plain Dealer - he even spent a year as Tom E. Hawk, the old Indians mascot. We spent quite a bit of time talking baseball yesterday while I kept stats.

Now I have to go clear the table....

Friday, July 07, 2006

buttons...and an experiment

The boys and I stopped at Joann Fabrics on the way home from Dad's house yesterday. We went in search of buttons for the baby sweater...and I told them to each pick out a set that would go well with the sweater. When left to their own devices (and a baby sweater in their hands), they did pretty well.

Kyle found these:

And Kelson found these:

I really, really like both sets of buttons. For practicality's sake, though, I think I'm going to go with the silver buttons. They have a nice, sturdy shank and they're easier to put through the buttonholes. I remember trying to dress a squirming baby; the easier the better. :-)

While I'm waiting for the yarn for my next KnitPicks project, I decided to try an experiment. {Yes, Nancy, I know...I still havent started my movie prop for camp... ;-) } The hoodie sweater was knit on huge (size 11) needles with bulky yarn, so could I use the exact same pattern, smaller needles and light wortsed yarn to make a child's sweater? So far the results look promising

See where I missed the slip stitches in the middle? (Twice!!) I'm going to duplicate stitch over them when I'm done - I don't feel like ripping anythng at the moment. In my head, this is going to become a zip-front cardigan instead of a pullover.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

'Tis Done

Well, almost. I'm going to pick out buttons tomorrow, but I finished sewing in the sleeves at Kelson's baseball game this evening. This is a very fuzzy picture - the flash kept washing out the detail in the sweater. This is the 3-month size, but it looks a tad bigger than that to me. I used 1-1/2 balls of Sirdar Country Style, double-knitting weight.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Playing catch-up...

Let's see....where to start...

On Friday, Dad had this surgery on his neck. Scary stuff, but when you compound it with diabetes, heart problems (triple bypass a few years ago), and myasthenia gravis, it's even scarier. He had plasmapheresis four times in the week prior to the surgery. They also found a bone spur as well as the ruptured disc. They put him into the ICU that afternoon, and he went home the next day! :-) They were really surprised at how well he recovered - they had planned to put him into the cardiac step-down unit for at least another day. When Dad puts his mind to something, though, it's amazing what he can do!!

The next morning was my niece's wedding (Kevin's sister's daughter). The wedding was at 10:00 in Parma, and the reception was at 6:00 in Medina. The reception was very nice, although the servers actually took Kelson's plate away from him while he was still eating! We did manage to get a decent family picture: I finished the KnitPicks socks over the weekend. These should be in the next catalog... They definitely turned out better than I thought they would!! While I was at the hospital on Friday, I brought out the blue sock that I had been working on, and I snapped 2 of my size 0 5" Brittany Birches!!! I've emailed the company to see if they'll replace them - I've never snapped a needle, let alone 2 in the same day!!

Saturday's mail brought this skein of yarn from Julie:

She has started hand-painting, and I designed a button for her she sent me this skein. It's much, much prettier than the picture shows, and now I need to see what it wants to be. :-) Thanks, Julie!!!

I don't have very much for the fair this year, and I'm going to be at Knitting Camp when the entries have to be taken in. Hopefully Kevin will be willing to take my entries over. I was planning to make a Dale of Norway sweater for my friend Wendy's baby that's due in October, but I don't think that I could get it done in time for the I'm swiping borrowing the Yarn Harlot's idea and making the Pea Pod Baby sweater instead. Knowing Wendy, this sweater definitely needs to be machine washable, so I cast on yesterday with some Sirdar Country Style that I had hiding in the bottom of one of my stash bins:

One repeat of the pattern is done; 3 more repeats and the body is nearly done. Here's a poorly photographed picture of the pattern

I still need to start knitting my movie prop for Knitting Camp, too...