Sunday, February 22, 2009

Raining while the sun is shining

It has been a full weekend here at Stitches and Stories and not one minute of it involved anything fibery! How is that possible? I agree, it shouldn't be possible. My hubby even asked didn't I have any new stash to show you this weekend, and I don't.

We did have an employee appreciation day at the local Air and Space Center, again this year. It was quite fun, some of the exhibits are traveling so even though we saw the planes on display last year there were some new things to see. I saw my first ever 3D movie. I know I'm a little behind schedule probably. But usually the movies that are 3D are not usually the type of movies I enjoy. But this one was at IMAX and it was about all the creatures under the sea, it was very interesting and I love the 3D effect, looks like the fish are just going to swim over and kiss you!

My husband loves planes so we were looking at the static displays again and marveling at one of the WWII bomber planes. They have little video screens that play interview with the people where were in one way or another involved with the planes during the way. We were looking inside the cockpit of one and a gentleman walked up and started to tell us about the condition of this particular plane compared to others, we though "oh here is someone who really likes planes" Well it turns out the gentleman was more mature than he looked, he was actually a co-pilot on one of those very bomber planes during WWII in 1944-1945! He was a docent of the museum and we talked to him for quite some time. I am not a student of 20th century as a whole, I prefer the Middle Ages, but I will read to listen to the history of anything, I may have mentioned that once before, but anyway, this gentleman was fascinating. I could have sat and talked to him for hours. He could remember so many things and had such interesting stories to tell about places they had been. That 30 minute conversation really made our day.

We had other errands to run after our fun in the morning at the museum, more supplies for the re-decoration of my craft room and the den.

Our Golden Retriever/Chow, Molly, CGC, TDI, had to go to the doctor, all of her lymph nodes are swollen, the doctor says they are borderline, just a little larger than they should be, except for one that is larger than the rest. That is the one I noticed when I was grooming her on Thursday evening. So we are waiting for test results to see if we can tell what is causing this. I've very worried for her, she is 12 years old in March and you'd never know it. She is very energetic and loves to run and play.

The other girls, Rosie and Lily are not happy because they received their baths today and are showing their displeasure by ignoring me. That will last until I give them a cookie for being such brave girls in the bathtub.

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That is not the face of a happy bulldog, I can tell you that.


Not much has changed in knitting news. I haven't had a chance to work on the barn jacket this week. I'm hoping to work on it this evening. I have made progress one sock one of the next pair. But haven't had time to do much with them this weekend. Socks get more attention during the week when I'm commuting or at lunch.

Thank you for stopping by and happy knitting to all who knit. And if you are not a knitter then I wish you much happiness in that which brings you joy!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mid-Week Update

I promised you and update for Wednesday and here it is. Now I must tell you the barn jacket looks the same as it did, do to more frogging, but I do have some socks to show you.

I am making them for some friends, so if you live in Minnesota and do not want to have a sneak peek, look away from your computer screen now....

These are Sister Kelli Socks. I am very pleased with how they turned out, superwash wool from Lion Brand.

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I have started another pair, and will hopefully have them finished by this time next week to share with you.

I hope everyone is doing well so far this week.

Happy Knitting

Monday, February 16, 2009

It has been an interesting weekend here at Stitches and Stories. Despite the fact that it was not as warm today as it has been, I decided to hang laundry out, even a cold breeze will dry them. Well wouldn't you know that I looked outside only an hour later and there were snow flurries! Knowing the weather being what it is around here. I left the laundry where it was and sure enough in 10 minutes time it stopped.

It never reached 40 today.

But still that is not cold by most peoples standards and I bet certainly not by this little fellows'.

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He lives in Northern Ireland. A co-workers spouse if from Northern Ireland and received this picture from home last week.

I have decided to re-decorate my knitting room. And so it begins. I went yesterday and bought the paint. A very deep red.

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I am looking forward to getting that project started. And actually that thoughts of doing so today, but other household chores took priority. And also to my horror I realized that last weekend when I was out stocking up on stash I failed to get a ball of much needed black yarn for the Rosy Barn Jacket project. So I had to run out today and buy some. I was in complete control and only bought that yarn that is needed for the project.

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Today while completing those much needed chores and okay, okay maybe I did do a little knitting, I completed two audio books that I had started last week.

I shall have an FO to share with you by Wednesday, so stay turned for that. And also an update on the Barn Jacket.

Happy Knitting!

More History - - A Brief History of President's Day

Presidents' Day - What Does it Mean?
The observance of Presidents' Day in the United States is reminiscent of the Indian fable of the blind men and the elephant in the sense that the holiday seems to mean something different to everybody. In looking through the local newspaper, one could easily conclude that the modern holiday was created by merchants, just so they could hold their annual Presidents' Day sales. Depending on your perspective or what part of the country you're from, Presidents' Day is intended to honor George Washington, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, or all the American presidents. And for many of us who don't get the day off from work, the holiday seems to pass almost unnoticed. So what is Presidents' Day and how did it come about?


Washington's Birthplace National Monument in Westmoreland County, VA.
courtesy of the National Park Service Background

According to the Gregorian or "New Style" calendar that is in use today, George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, but according to the Julian or "Old Style" calendar that was in effect in England and her colonies until 1752, his birth date was February 11th. (This is because the new calendar added eleven days to the old date to bring the calendar year into step with the astronomical year.) So back in the 1790s, while Washington was still alive, some Americans celebrated his birthday on February 11th and some on February 22nd.

Along came Abraham Lincoln, another famous US president, who was also deserving of a special day of recognition. The only problem was that he was born on February 12th, and so now we found ourselves with two presidential birthdays that fell within a short time of one another. Prior to 1968, this fact didn't seem to bother anyone and things were running along pretty smoothly in the birthday celebration department -- February 22nd was observed as a federal public holiday to honor the birthday of George Washington and February 12th was observed as a public holiday (in most states) to honor the birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

Then things changed. In 1968, the 90th Congress was determined to create a uniform system of federal Monday holidays, so they voted to shift three existing holidays (including Washington's Birthday) to Mondays. The law took effect in 1971. As a result, Washington's Birthday holiday was changed from its fixed February 22 date to the third Monday in February. This change was not without controversy. There was some concern that Washington's identity would be lost (since the third Monday in February would never fall on his birth date of February 22nd). There was also an attempt to rename the public holiday "Presidents' Day", but this stalled in committee. "It was the collective judgment of the Committee on the Judiciary," stated Mr. William Moore McCulloch (R-Ohio) "that this [naming the day "President's Day"] would be unwise. Certainly, not all Presidents are held in the same high esteem as the Father of our Country. There are many who are not inclined to pay their respects to certain Presidents. Moreover, it is probable that the members of one political party would not relish honoring a President from the other political party whether he was in office, no matter how outstanding history may find his leadership."

The single holiday observance meant that the traditional 10-day separation between Washington's Birthday (February 22) and Lincoln's Birthday (February 12) had essentially been eliminated. However, while Congress had created a uniform federal holiday law, there was not a uniform holiday title agreement among the individual states. Even though most states with individual holidays honoring Washington and Lincoln shifted their state recognition date of Washington's Birthday to correspond to the third Monday in February, some states, including California, Idaho, Tennessee, Texas and others, chose not to retain the federal holiday title and renamed their state holiday "President's Day."

From that point forward, the growing use of the term Presidents' Day was largely a marketing phenomenon, as advertisers sought a catchall phrase to capitalize on the opportunity for three-day or weeklong sales. Gradually, the phrase "Presidents' Day" took hold and today has become part of the everyday vernacular. Interestingly, in 1999, bills were introduced in both the U.S. House (HR-1363) and Senate (S-978) to specify that the legal public holiday once referred to as Washington's Birthday be "officially" called by that name once again. Both bills died in committees.

If you are a traditionalist, you'll be happy to know that even though Washington's Birthday and Lincoln's Birthday have been replaced on the federal holiday register with a single day, many communities continue to observe the original holidays by staging pageants and reenactments of important milestones in the lives of Washington and Lincoln. The National Park Service features a number of historic sites and memorials to honor the lives of these two presidents, and therefore it is not surprising to find that many of the birthday observance activities and events are held at many of these locations.




The Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Copyright © 2001 Darren Smith and licensors. All rights reserved. The George Washington Birthplace National Monument in Westmoreland County, VA, holds an annual birthday celebration on President's Day and on the actual birthday, with special colonial activities held throughout the day. Mount Vernon also honors George Washington with a birthday celebration weekend and an annual free day (on the third Monday of February), which usually draws between 10,000 and 18,000 visitors on that day alone.

Annual activities to commemorate Abraham Lincoln's birthday include: a February 12th wreath laying ceremony at Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, KY; Lincoln Day, held each year on the Sunday nearest February 12th at Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Lincoln City, IN, with a special program in the Abraham Lincoln Hall, followed by a wreath laying ceremony at Lincoln's mother's grave site; and special birthday programs at the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, IL.

If you're a non-traditionalist, and believe that Presidents' Day should, in fact, be used to honor all American presidents, then you'll be happy to know that the National Park Service also maintains a number of sites that commemorate other past presidents, including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, Andrew Johnson, Ulysses Grant, James Garfield, Teddy Roosevelt, William Taft, Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and Jimmy Carter.
According to About.com(http://usparks.about.com/library/weekly/aa021499.htm)


Happy President's Day!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Brief History of Valentines Day

The history of Valentines Day shares roots with both Christian history and the Roman Empire.
There are three saints currently recognized by the Catholic church named Valentine or Valentinus, all were killed for their faith.

"According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France." (History.com)
For this reason perhaps he is considered the patron saint of couples and lovers.

The date of Valentines day is thought to be associated with the death of Valentine, but it could also be because when the church was converting pagans and trying to incorporate dates of their holidays with those of the church, February was the month celebrated in pagan culture as the fertility month, official start of spring, and when they performed their "spring cleaning" by sweeping their homes and sprinkling salt and wheat about them. (history.com)

Valentine greetings were popular back in history as far as the Middle Ages, but it is a more recent celebration in the U.S. from a commercial point of view. The first commercial greeting card in the U.S. was 1840, it was created and mass produced by Esther Howland.

It is the second largest card sending holiday in the U.S.

So I send you Valentines greetings today.


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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Does it Get any Better Than This?

It was 74 degrees here today! I have clothes drying on the line it is wonderful.

Productivity squared. That is what I am telling myself I am accomplishing. I have recently rediscovered the joys of audio books. I used to listen to them all the time when I had to take the train into DC for work. But I haven’t really listened to them in several years. But, recently I was becoming frustrated with the fact that I had to either read a good book or knit, I couldn't’t do both. Frustrating because I enjoy both. Then a little light bulb came on and my inner self send me a message it said “Duh, audio books” And so off I went to the library to explore the local collection of audio books. It isn’t too bad. I am currently enjoying The Fire, A Novel, by Katherine Neville. It is a sequel to The Eight; and I really enjoyed that one. It is a great story of suspense, historical fiction and chess.
I’m a lousy chess player but enjoy reading the history of it. Well I enjoy reading the history of anything really. History, of Salt, Taste, a history of food, and History of Drink are some of my recent finds. I naturally have a book of the history of knitting in the U.S. I haven’t read it yet, but it is on my knitting shelf waiting for me.

So these audio books allow me to indulge two passions books and knitting and be productive and entertained at the same time. A small but important joy in life.

In knitting news, I am still working on a pair of socks, I am still working on the jacket. And I ask you how hard is it to get it right the first time? I was blocking the jacket pieces when I realized the right side looked “off” now I checked gauge, measured as I went along, no reason in the world why it should look different than the left side and vice versa, but it does. The project is it is not an easy fix. Because of the edging, shaping and pattern, to correct the four rows that are wrong I had to frog the whole thing. So I did. I knitted about half up it back up last night. I will finish it this weekend and reblock. I have started the mate in my sock pair, so that is coming along smoothly so far, just the typical frustrations I always have at the heel.

I have a new sock bag. I like to keep my sock projects in a small travel bag so I can slip it in my ever present tote bag and may burst into knitting when the mood strikes. But the bag I was using was a cosmetic travel bag and was getting well worn, and starting to suffer by coming loose at the seams. While out shopping at the hard ware store, my husband was looking at small tool bags to keep emergency tools in the trunk of the car just in case you have a minor breakdown that can be fixed with a wrench or screwdriver. You know loose battery cables and the like. And then I had a flash of brilliance, yes the only come to me in flashes never staying around very long. This bag was small, heavy canvas (as it is meant to carry tools) with handles and a external side pocket. Well we got home and I sprung my brilliant idea on hubby. It was so brilliant that he agreed it would make a much better sock project bag than a tool bag, and immediately handed over the bag. I’m sure it was the genius of my idea that he so readily gave up the tool bag and not the feeling of being defeated, for I offered a much larger heavier bag stowed in the garage we used to keep on the boat. It is apparently red, for emergencies can hold not only wrenches and screwdrivers, but jumper cables, flares all sorts of things one should have in a car and in a tidy spot rather than strewn about the truck.
So nice shiny red bag for the trunk of my red car and a new sock project bag for me. We will go buy hubby a new toy this weekend. What a good sport he is.

Update - went shopping this weekend hubby didn't get a new tool bag, but he got other goodies and I got these!

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I found a new store over in Virginia Beach called A.C. Moore. We do not have them on my side of the water, but I sure wish we did. This store was fabulous, they had everything! It put the Ben Franklin's over here to shame in the yarn department. And I have never been a fan of Michaels. So I stocked up on a little yarn. They had a bin of factory over runs in cotton, I got 6 balls, 2lbs, it will make a nice throw.
Also, picked up some sock yarn, yarn for slipper socks and a book for the Prayer Shawl Ministry, which I am trying to participate in.

I hope everyone's weather was a little milder this weekend, especially the areas that have suffered from a lot of cold and snow.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Another Weekend Update

Really, where does the time go. Another week gone by already? Well I do have a little something to show for it, thankfully.

In my efforts to begin on Christmas 2009, I have knit a jacket. Pattern found in Summer 2006 issue of Creative Knitting. This issue is replete with several useful sweater and jacket patterns. I chose the Rosy Barn jacket project designed by Katharine Hunt. So far it has been a quick knit. Only took me a week to knit the two front panels, the back and the sleeves. After these pieces are blocked they will have to be assembled. I am challenged in this area. So we shall see how this part goes, then the collar and button band will be knitted on in a contrasting color. If I can get the seaming right, this will have been one of the easiest projects I have done in a while.

Here it is in waiting to be blocked.

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back and left front panel

This was the only way I could get all three pieces on the table and I will have to block the sleeves separately.
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Even though this was knitted in sections, I still consider it a "large" project and typically leave those at home to be worked on at night. During the day I carry smaller projects with me, such as...socks! Love socks.
I work on those while carpooling to work, before the work day starts and on my lunch break. Also, again in the evening while waiting for my carpool ride home.

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This is being knitted in a superwash magic stripes from Lion Brand. The color way is blue and brown stripes. It reminds me of well worn denim for some reason. I love Lion Brands superwash, it is very durable I have used it on two other pairs of socks and it wears like iron and goes in the washer and dryer very nicely.

The pattern is a 1x1 ribbing with a basketweave on the leg. I am trying to decide if I want to use the eye of partridge heel or try a short row heel. The finished short row heel is always impressive.

Either will work with this stitch count.

Other adventures this weekend have included, finally getting the boxes of Christmas decorations out of the corner of the garage and into the attic. It doesn't do any good to organize all the decorations into red tubs if they are just going to junk up a corner of the garage. That led to purging of some items out of the attic for good will collection. Always a good thing.

Making a pot of potato and corn chowder, seasoned with a little bacon and some smoked sausage. That should be ready in time for dinner. I plan to enjoy this week for lunch, as it should be cold again. Today it was 58F! Go figure. Possible winter weather again this week. It has been a disappointing winter, all this talk of snow and wintry mix and the only thing we have gotten is cold. My philosophy in cold weather is, I don't mind as long as I have something to enjoy it with, like say a little snow. But, if I am not going to be granted anything fun to accompany the cold temps then I'd just as soon have some warmer weather. I know I am not asking for a lot am I? Of course, the cold temperatures do give me an excuse to stay indoors and knit, so I suppose one should not look a gift horse in the mouth.

The cold weather does not affect the antics of the animals, but I suppose if I had their winter coats I'd feel differently. My office looks out over a very large field and twice this week, I have been fortunate enough to be able to watch some does come into the field from the woods to graze. My hubby saw a huge read fox on the parkway last week. It was the first time he had ever seen one. Oh I wish I had been there or that he had had a camera. Said it was sitting right in the middle of the road. That area is heavily populated with deer so he is always careful driving through there, so he slowed down for the fox, which he said got up slowly and sauntered off to the woods along the road. Boy I wish I could have seen that. We are too populated where we live to see them. I used to volunteer at a living museum that has a couple in residence and even a gray fox. They are something to behold, but not something to you want to tangle with. Even the one we had for educational purposes could only be handled by one person. I must confess my favorite residents there were the opossums and the barn owl. Opossums are very misunderstood creatures. They are quite sweet really. The problem is they have very poor eyesight and can barely see the ends of their noses, so they are very wary if anything coming near them. And if your hands smell like something they might like to eat, well, lets just say, I hope you have very fast reflexes. We had one that lived outside on the educational trail that had to have cream applied to his tail so it wouldn't crack. The skin on their tails is just like the skin on our hands. I used to go out with some Udder Cream and if you pick them up from the back they aren't so frightened. I would scoop him up and apply the cream. He loved it. he would rest on my fore arm just enjoying the massage, I suspect.
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Virginia Opossum

Seriously, look at that face! How sweet is that? You can almost tell he is straining to see. Their vision gets worse as they get older and by age three or four their eye muscles are so weak that they are often cross eyed. They also don't live much longer than four years normally either. Poor things.


Well I seem to have gotten a bit off track here.

So to recap, wonder knitted jacket project, working steadily on a lovely pair of socks, and have a misunderstood affection for opossums.

I hope no one was expect a Super Bowl related post. I'm more of a baseball fan, not so much into football. But if you are a foot ball, then I hope you are enjoying your celebrations and I with your team luck today!

The Super Bowl to me is just a reason to knit and well, see if Etrade has a new commercial with that adorable baby.

Happy knitting to all!