Advent 2009


I can't believe I forgot to post this.

This is Margaret's 6th birthday cake. I made everything except the Tinkerbell candle.


Book #4

Passenger to Frankfurt by Agatha Christie.
When I picked up this book, I thought it would be easy reading. It was tiny, only 201 pages. Just enough to count for this challenge.
In reality, it was the hardest read I've encountered since trying to figure out Econometrics in grad school. And worse than that- it sucked!
The book starts off with a protagonist, Sir Stafford Nye, trying to catch a flight to London from Frankfurt in 1970. A mysterious woman who happens to have a strong resemblance to him, approaches him with a favor to ask. More like a dare when you consider she wants to drug his drink so he passes out, "steal" his passport and cloak (who wears a cloak, really?) , cut her hair, and pass into London pretending to be him. (WFT?) She claims if he doesn't help her, she'll be killed. So he agrees (?).
When he finally gets to London, he is quickly admonished by his government superiors and asked about the strange woman, who he insists he doesn't know.
The first half of the book has Stafford visiting his aunt Mildred in the countryside and then trying to contact the mysterious woman through a personal ad. Who reads personal ads? Well, apparently mysterious passport stealing women do. She meets him at an Wagner opera about "The Young Siegfried." They don't speak except for her to say, "Ah, the young Siegfried," before disappearing into the crowd. While walking home, Stafford is almost run down by a passing car. This happens again later in the book and Stafford assumes someone is trying to kill him. However, this is the last we hear about anyone trying to kill him (and the book is halfway over.)
Stafford accepts an invitation to a trip from the mysterious woman, who we find out is either named MaryAnn or Countess Renata Zeblonsky. She takes him to a castle where they meet a grotesquely fat woman and a young, impossibly handsome man intent on taking over the world in a neo-nazi plot. Stafford and MaryAnn travel around the world to hear "The Young Siegfried" speak. We don't follow them around the world. Christie literally says, "They travelled around the world" but doesn't take us with them or explain why they went or what they did with whatever knowledge they gained.
Next, we go to what seems like a gazillion bureaucratic meetings, where government employees too boring to remember have the same conversation over and over about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket and should they consider using nuclear force on the students who are rioting and demonstrating in every country?
Aunt Mildred takes a trip to visit "Big Charlotte," the woman behind the plot, whom she knows from her school days. This trip is never mentioned again. (?)
More bureaucratic meetings... mostly the same dialogue. (Christie did capture the monotony and repetition of government meetings, but she really didn't need to go there.) Seriously, there are about 15 pages of book left AND NOTHING HAS HAPPENED!
Then, very quickly crammed into the last few pages, one of the bureaucrats visits Aunt Mildred about a scientist she used to know and a mysterious "Project B" that would be delivered in a gas form, like tear gas, but would permenently change those exposed into benevolent people, incapable of violence.
Now, we're down to about 5 pages.
The gov't bureaucrats visit the scientist who claims to have destroyed his notes. However, if one of the bureaucrats will ask nicely, (seriously!) he will tell them where the notes are hidden. All of a sudden the bureaucrat's assistant and the scientist's nurse jump up an simultaneoulsy try to poison and shoot the bureaucrat (not the scientist?!?!?). They succeed in shooting the bureaucrat and he dies. They are apprehended.
Epilogue: for some reason, the nonsensical fiasco in the last seen brings an end to the worldwide uprising (Even though big Charlotte and the Young Siegfried who are behind the whole thing are never mentioned again.) And Stafford Nye (the protagonist who was/or wasn't the target of a hit? and who was not mentioned in the last half of the book) sends a telegram to MaryAnn proposing marriage and she accepts.

Here are the questions I'm left with:
1. WTF, seriously?
2. Why did Mildred visit Big Charlotte?
3. How did a assassination of a mid-level bureaucrat end the plot of world domination?
4. Why wouldn't they try to kill the scientist who could make the benevolence gas? Seriously, the assassin was his NUSRE! He was in a weelchair! It wouldn't have been that hard.
5. Why did Christie abandon her protagonist halfway through the book?
6. Why didn't Christie take us to any of the uprisings or riots? I never felt like there was any danger because I only had access to bureaucrats who talked about there maybe being something bad going on.

If any of you have read this book, please drop a comment. I really want to hear what others have thought about it.


Book #3

Laurel K. Hamilton- "Caress of Darkness" I think.
If I can't even remember the title, I don't think it's likely I'll finish the series.


Book #2

A Kiss of Shadows- Laurell K. Hamilton. Finished: July 12, 2009.
Eh. It was a fast read, sort of mindless. I'll probably pick up the next in the series just to give it a fair shot, but I don't see myself getting entrenched. Fairy Princess...?


Some Project Updates

1. Selbu Moderne in Kiogu: Frogged
Way too big for me, ran out of white yarn, got sick of it, decided I hate Koigu.
selbu moderne

2. Queen Anne's Lace, cashmere/silk blend: This is going to be a marathon. I'm on row 48 of about 156. Of course, the rows get longer and longer as I go. I'm doing 2-3 rows a day, but I'm going to have to pick up the pace if I'm going to have it ready for a November wedding. It's a very intuitive knit so far, but the repeats are only up to 7 sts. I'm nervous for when they get to be 20 or 30 sts each. The yarn is a joy, plus it was 50% off, so the whole shawl should cost me < $50. Photobucket

3. Noro socks: A beach knit. My own pattern. One sock almost done, needs binding off. Not sure how I feel about starting the other. I guess I'm indifferent. The yarn is sort of scratchy, but the colors are amazing. I'm also not sure if I want matchy-matchy or fraternal. I can't imagine wearing these anywhere in public, so fraternal might be my best bet.

4. Buttony Sweater, Wendy Fusion Superwash wool/acrylic: My duct tape dress form seems to be a little large. The sweater fits fine on me, but I couldn't get it fastened over the form. The yarn got itchy after washing; I might try fabric softener next time and see if that helps. You'll have to excuse the messy counter in the background.

I've also got a few sewing projects going on, but it's nothing to elaborate on just yet.


New Post

On One Size Knits All.
Go check it out!

New Post

On One Size Knits All.
Go check it out!

Cannonball Read and Other Projects

Cannonball Read is a contest started on Pajiba.com, my favorite movie site. (Their byline is, scathing reviews for bitchy people.) The goal is to read 100 books in a year. The rationale is if you even get to 50, that's still more than some people read in a lifetime. I started this Friday with Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaimon. It's about an angel and a demon trying to prevent the apocalypse. They are aided by an earlier mix-up resulting in the antichrist being raised by a normal human family. The reading was a little slow at first, I had to switch into British "humour" mode (imagine Monty Python with footnotes- yes footnotes!) But once I got into it, it was good reading. The ending was exciting without being over-dramatic (I imagine an Americanized version would have many more explosions.) And I think it was a good start for the journey. One restriction I've decided to place on myself is that I'm going to be checking out all the books from the library. My local library sucks, however, so we'll see how that goes.
In project news, I've got a few things finished but not photographed. I've also got a bunch of things started, but not photographed. Until I get my ass in gear, I'll leave you with two photos I do have.
Here's a finished Calorimetry from waayy back in February:

And here's a Randy Reindeer hat of my own design using the chart found here.
Photobucket It's double knit, which means it will be reversible when finished. Thing is, I'm not sure if I ran out of yarn yet. I really need to get my stash under control.
I've got some socks, a tank, and a shawl on the needles and a finished Buttony sweater, which I'm about to feature on the One Size Knits All blog. But no photos yet, so you'll have to check back.


I'm Famous!

TeamKnits just featured one of my projects! Go forth and comment!


Just Call Me Sissy

I've never claimed to be a domestic goddess. In fact, I've never claimed to be domestic at all. It's much easier and much more fun to go through the motions- baking cakes and cookies, melting crayons with the kids, sewing comforter covers, etc. All those things make me feel like I'm being domestic, and more importantly, make me APPEAR to be domestic without having to do all the hard work.
It's not that I don't like cooking and cleaning every day for my family. It's that I Hate cooking and cleaning every day- for anybody! For the short time I was home after the birth of each of my children, I literally felt myself going nuts. "Housewife" is something akin to "Prisoner of War" as an occupational option to me.
There's a reason the ancient tale of Sisyphus is a cautionary one. You screw up, you have to push a boulder to the top of a mountain every day for eternity only to have it roll down to the bottom just in time for you to start pushing it up again. That's housewifery my friends! It never ends. The mountain of laundry and dishes never goes down. The mouths are always hungry. The floors are always scuffed or sticky. Every time you finish, you are right back where you started.
It's much easier for me to use this as an excuse to not try. If it can't be perfect, why should I spend time on it? I could be knitting, or painting, or sewing, or doing something else that has an actual finish line.
Except it shouldn't be perfect. It won't ever be. But I can at least make it better.
I just read a study that found gifted/talented kids set themselves up for failure because they think if something doesn't come easy, it won't come at all. The concept of hard work is foreign to people who never have to try hard. I can see this attitude popping up in my psyche wayyy tooo often.
I guess that's the lesson I should learn from Sisyphus: instead of trying to keep the boulder at the top of the mountain, I should try to push it a little more each day. I might not get to the top, but if it backslides it won't slide too far.


Thrift Challenged

I don't know what the deal is.
I can't seem to get on the whole "Thrift Store" bandwagon. It's not that I don't come across awesome thrift store redo projects all over the blogosphere, and then become obsessed with trying them until my head explodes and I need to go lie down.
It's the stupid thrift stores around here. I can never find anything worth saving in there. Maybe I don't go often enough. Maybe people around here are cheap (they are). I just don't know.
There's another blogger around here that has no trouble finding great things at the thrift stores, but she's not giving up her sources. Maybe she's just beating me to the good stuff. Maybe my aspirations are a little high.
You tell me.
Here's my thrifty wish list:
dining room chairs- any condition
outdoor furniture- any condition
dress form (yeah, I know. In my dreams.)
picture frames, dishes, decorative items to revamp
Am I being unreasonable?


Here's a Photo for Ya:

This was a cake purse I made for my sister's graduation/birthday.


Supersize Me

I've started a new blog (Yeah, this is getting out of hand).
I'll be featuring knitting patterns that look great knitted up on a variety of body types. I'm open to suggestions and testimonials.
You can fin it at:

Leave some comments while you're there, but I'm going to moderate so don't bother saying anything bad because it won't see light of day.


Things That Make You Go

I just can't get back into this clappy.

I don't know if it's the yarn (Rayon), or the colors, or the pattern. This is my second try; the first was with a lovely tencel-alpaca blend that I frogged before the first dropped stitch. I just can't pick it up again. That's a lie. I pick it up, and put it back down over and over.
Thing is, the rayon is very nice and drapey. It's perfect for the pattern, if not a bit thin. So, I can't imagine frogging it and knitting something else with the yarn. What do you think? Finish? Frog? Pull a Scarlet O-Hara and think about it tomorrow? I need opinions people!


Paranormal Swap Survey

1. What are your five favorite things? (these don't have to be knit related)
yarn, fabric, chocolate, office supplies (I know), coffee
1.a. Do these things allow any hints into your personality for your paranormal pal?
I hope not
2. What are your three favorite things that you have made with knitting/crochet?
Mad-Color Weave socks, Randy Reindeer Hat, Shetland Shorty, Widdershins,
2.a. What do you tend to make with knit/crochet?
There's no rhyme or reason to what i pick
2.b. What do you hope to make (or complete that you have started) someday?
Wavy lace shawl
3. What five things would you love to see in a swap box someday? Why?
chocolate, stationary, stitch markers, pretty yarn, something to remind me of my swap buddy
3.a. What do you hope to never see in a swap box again (or ever)?
fun fur or anything made with novelty yarn
4. What are your three favorite yarns? What are your three least favorite yarns?
Yarn is like children, I can't pick a favorite.
4.a. Do you like solid, self-striping, or multi-colored yarns?
Same color variegated or solid.
4.b. What are your favorite colors?
What are your favorite colors to knit with?
Jewel-tones, Brown, any shade of purple
5. What are your five favorite delicacies?
good chocolate and coffee
5.a. What yarn do you hope to one day try and why?

6. What are your three favorite guilty pleasures?
knitting, Ravelry, sleeping late
6.a. What are your favorite tv or movie charactors?
The guys from psych and Bones. The "Top Gear" hosts.
7. What are the five things you look forward to every week?
Saturday, Sunday, Friday night, dessert, Starbucks on occasion
7.a. What do you do during your week (ie - work, take care of three kids, race walk)?
I'm a project director for a Longitudinal Database Project at a small research institute.
8. What do you collect?
skulls and crossbones, bells,
8.a. What collects you?
coffee mugs
9. When is your birthday?
March 19
9.a. What is your favorite holiday and why?
Halloween, I love to decorate and try to outdo myself each year.
10. Do you have any wishlists?
11. Do you have any allergies or health related conditions that your pal should know about?
11.a. What drives you nuts?
bad drivers, yarn with sticks in it (Noro!!!!)
12. What do you do for work and what do you do for fun?
work- research, fun- gardening and crafting
12.a. What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
Move to Paris for a year
13. What would you like your pal to know that is not covered here?
I can't wait!!!!


Well, I almost had to rescind that "I'm Not Dead" thing.

Last week, the cold/allergy season descended upon my home. I, of course, got it worse than anyone probably due to the added responsibility I've taken on at work. After a week with a cold I got a virus that not only kicked my rather large, but nice, ass, I ended up in the hospital for a night with fluids and meds. That was Saturday. I finally started eating again yesterday. I'm still feeling crappy today.
So, as for now, I'm still not dead. I just feel like I am.


An explanation is in order

Guys, I don't know how to say this, but I'm not dead.
I know, some of you are very surprised to hear this considering the comments I've received on this blog and on my Ravelry page.
What happened is a fellow Raveller named Sharon
passed away a few weeks ago, and I wrote the memorial in "This Week in Ravelry" as I always do. There seemed to be a bit of confusion between Sharon and Shannon and a lot of people think I was the one who passed. It's okay, really, because I pretty much grew up answering to Sharon because people make that mistake a lot.
I just didn't want to freak out anyone else who wished me to "Rest in Peace" and then saw me posting from what they thought was the great beyond. (Yes, that happened.)
In short, I will be happy to rest in peace when my time comes, just not yet.


Valentine's Day Project

We made heart-shaped crayons by melting regular crayon pieces in little silicone cupcake heart cups. Very easy and the kids loved it.

We melted the crayons at 250 degrees for about 15 minutes. When they were cool, they popped right out of the cups.

We made one of each color and two rainbow crayons.


Advent- Recap

I think 24 days were just too much for my kids. They started out wanting to check the activity each morning before school, but about halfway through they didn't want to do anything. I think next year I'll do something each week instead of every day.
J and the big dog (cute puppy in a previous post) took down the living room Christmas tree. Took down as in knocked over and broke.
No to find someone to take down the dining room tree in a more orderly fashion.