Finally got my invitation for Ravelry. Awesome. It's still in the beta testing stage, but you can get in invite in a few weeks. If you are interested in the minutia of knitting, this place is for you.


Body Types

Hey! My shoulder is not this shape. What was I thinking?

Huh. I wish I could set a sleeve in right the FIRST time. Nah. What fun would that be?



I'm not the only one.

Murray, too, has an interest in Gone with the Wind. His interest may be a bit more superficial than mine.

I asked Murray why I loved him, and he curled up his little paw and tucked it under. Oh, right. That's why.


Important sweater news!

Get the latest, up to the minute reports RIGHT HERE...

This just in... I totally rock.

This sweater I'm working on is from, you guessed it, the best sweater book of all time. This will be my 4th sweater from it. I don't think I've ever gotten my money's worth like this from a book before. I never did use this book, because, ugh... it's no longer the 80's.

The pattern wanted me to do a separate front and back. With Fair Isle. I suppose there's a way to do that, but why? I knew that I couldn't knit the rib stitch in the round, since mine leans, so I knit that regular and then joined it up and knit the rest of the body in the round. I had to do a little math even.

On to the sleeves. I decided to knit these in the round too. The fair isle pattern didn't work as well with the sleeves, as I had increases in there. I made a rookie mistake and was only increasing 1 st where I should have been increasing 2... my math failed me when I converted to in the round. But that's all behind me, and the 1st sleeve is almost done. It's mind-numbing straight stitch now.

I figured out that whole 2 circular needle knitting too. The one instead of dpns. I believe it has saved my bacon on the sleeve, which has too many stitches for dpns and not enough for 1 circular. It's kind of a pain, and does slow me down a bit, but I have not dropped any stitches. I did have one of the circular needles drop to the floor, when I made the common mistake of DOING IT WRONG.

Knitting just to Knit

I can't be the only knitter who will start a project just to knit. I wasn't particularly interested in knitting this hat, but I wanted to knit, had no projects in mind, and I wanted to use this yarn, so I started a ribbed hat, that I kind of knew I would never finish. Bye! Frogged...

Also, see how my rib stitch LEANS? My straight stitch doesn't, just the rib stitch. Anyone else have this problem?

I keep forgetting...

Do you do this, too? Start to clean something out, walk away for a "minute" to do something else, come back an hour later and find the mess you made, only now your mess has been made larger by helpful felines? Happens here all the time.

The part of "Helpful Feline" is being played tonight by Rico (aka: Mr. Skitterpants)

I had to clean out my stash tonight. I've got a bunch of made items that do not have a home, and they were taking up valuable real estate, that should have been used for actual stash.
Here is part of the process... (the part where I pull everything out, then walk away and forget I've pulled everything out, then come back and am surprised.)

Helpful Feline 2 is being played by Furry Murray Fuzzy Pants, who took this interesting approach to help me write this blog tonight. He often does this, and I usually wouldn't mind his warm little body on my lap, but he keeps touching my mouse pad and messing me up.


That Time of Year

Apparently, January is the time I read Gone with the Wind. It was the 1st book I read in 2007, and is almost the 1st book I'm reading in 2008. I picked it up last night on a whim, and totally got sucked in again. Dang it!

When I 1st read it, I was in 7th grade. I skimmed (ok, skipped) any parts having to do with the Civil War, character studies, and scenery. When I read it a few years ago, it was just after watching Ken Burns' Civil War, 12 VHS tape series. Suddenly, the war part in the book made much more sense... now that the information had something to stick to... I had some framework in my mind.

I watched the movie GWTW with my mother-in-law once, and at the end she said "Well, I don't care for Scarlett." (Or something like that.) I always forget how much deeper her character is in the book, and no, you still don't necessarily like her, but you can understand how her actions made sense to her.

Anyway, I'm stuck now, so I'll let you know how it ends this time.

BTW, don't read "Scarlett", the modern follow-up to GWTW. Just don't. And DON'T watch the made for TV movie. I beg of you. I'm trying to save you many hours of your life. (The book is somewhat better than the "movie", but that's not saying a whole lot.)

But DO read GWTW sometime. If, for no other reason, you can say you read a 900 page book. That's why I picked it back in the 7th grade... to prove that I COULD read a 900 page book. Who does that?


Cruise Day 3

December 25, 2007
Christmas Day on Legend of the Seas

We all agreed that there would BE NO GIFTS, since the cruise WAS the gift. There were some gifts. I bought Carrie and I scrapbooks. I know, I know. "My Caribbean Vacation" photo albums SHOULD be cheesy. I wanted them to be cheesy. Carrie wanted not to like them. But we both did, so I gifted us with them and we made plans to scrapbook together.

There was a very fancy Christmas buffet. Here's some of the food art:

See also Lee's Day 3: here and here.


Cruise Day 2

December 24, 2007
Philipsburg, St. Maarten

Also read: Lee's Day 2 synopsis.

You could fill a book (or a hundred thousand books!) with the things I don't know. When asked where our cruise was going... I'd shrug and say "Caribbean". Even when I knew the names of the islands we'd be visiting, there was nothing else attached in my mind. Here are a couple of things I didn't know about St. Maarten:

  • It has 2 capital cities: Philipsburg (the Dutch capital) and Marigot (the French capital)
  • The island was taken over by the French and Dutch because of the salt flats that produce excellent salt.
Just so you know, flip-flops are comfortable for the 1st 2 miles, but the 2nd 2 miles is asking for it. Oh! Also, that scarf/wrap I bought, I saw in the very 1st shop on the boardwalk. I bought it on our way out, and it was only $6. I'm not a very good tourist. We did not go in one single jewelry, booze, or duty-free shop, although we saw roughly a million of them.

Me with my scarf/wrap, and very handsome man:

We bought foot cream in a tiny, cramped hole-in-the-wall "pharmacy". A man (tourist, also) asked me if I knew how much such-and-so cost, and I said "Does it really matter? You know you're going to buy it anyway." He laughed and said "You're right."

You know in stores how they often put expensive, or age sensitive, or shop-liftable items behind the counter? In this pharmacy, where I was expecting to see, oh, I don't know, condoms, cigarettes, or magazines, they had 3 packs of men's underwear.

This "throw-away" shot turned out to be one of my favorites from that day. I was fiddling with my polarizing lens, trying to get the sky bluer. Like it really needed my help ("Don't tamper in God's domain", and all that.), but anyway... I like how Paul's orange shirt keeps the balance with the orange building, or at least keeps drawing my eye.

And from the Thanks for the Heads Up Department:

I don't know if you've experienced this... I hadn't until Cozumel in 2004. A whole bunch of places in the world do not have toilet systems that can handle toilet paper, so you throw it in the garbage. I remembered in 2004 that I had seen this as a child and it didn't make sense until just that moment. I was at John Ball Park Zoo in Grand Rapids, MI with my folks? and possibly other family members, and I was in the bathroom, and a family of non-English speakers were in there and they threw their used toilet paper in the garbage. I reported this to my family, and I can't remember what they said, probably because it didn't make sense to me and didn't connect to any experience I'd ever had in my 7 years. Now I know. Huh.


Hey! It's my Blog-iversary!

I posted my very 1st blog ever on January 4, 2007. Woo hoo! Remember this gem?

And lest you think this will become a travel-blog... ok, I will publish Days 2-7 later... here's what I am working on currently. I did some knitting on the plane, and my needles did not get confiscated, nor even questioned. Nice.

It's a sweater from my favorite sweater book of all time... this will be my 4th sweater from it... each one totally different. I'm done with the fair isle part of it and can now blissfully K without thinking until my fingers bleed. I wasn't trying for this, but it appears that I am replacing all my sweaters with hand-knitted ones. Cool. Not less expensive, certainly, but ones that fit and that are not like anyone else's, and that are the exact colors I want. That is the coolest thing for me now that I can actually produce wearable garments.


Cruise Day 1

December 23, 2007
Legend of the Seas, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines

Also read Lee's Day 1.

After breakfast at the Marriott and our mad dash through the food lines, we met a family who had just come off the cruise we were going on. Santo Domingo is trying to build a more touristy image. The cruise right before ours was the 1st ever to leave out of SD. This family told us that everyone leaving on the ship had to pay $20 because of the Leaving Tax. (It costs $10 to enter the country, and $20 to leave. By this point we thought "money well spent to get out of this place.") They said the cruise line was pretty upset about it, but this being a new port, they didn't know about it, or it wasn't communicated to them.

We took taxis to the port. Of course, the price quoted by the Marriott people was way less than what the drivers were offering. Once again, our bags were being held hostage, so we had little choice.

This is our Ship: The Legend of the Seas. This is at the port at Grenada.

We got on the ship a few hours before we were to sail, so we went to look around. Once I saw the pool, I knew what I wanted to do. I had heard that pools on cruise ships were filled with salt water, but I didn't believe it since I smelled chlorine. I jumped in and... AUGH! My eyes! It IS salt. Once I reconciled myself to that fact, it was fun... no need to work too hard in salt water... it provides extra buoyancy. Of course, you feel like you weigh a TON when you get out.

I'll write about ports of call later, because I've got to get the following goofy pics out of my system:

Cruises provide AMPLE opportunity for people watching. You will see people at their best and worst, and more of some of them than you ever wanted to. As we were looking around before the ship sailed, I spotted this guy:

Dude! If your back is that red on the FIRST DAY, you're in for a world of hurt on this trip.

By the way, in my 38th year I have finally come to terms with the fact that I Do Not Tan. I burn. I did not even try to tan on this trip. I put on 55 spf and a goofy tourist visor and mostly stayed in the shade. It worked, as I am just as pasty now as before. Perhaps my flip-flop line shows a tiny bit.

I mentioned buffets in my earlier posts. Anyone who has ever been on a cruise talks about the 24/7 food. It truly was. I'll post later about our dining places, but for now, I'll leave you with the thought that buffets make for interesting food choices. You can have your key-lime pie and broccoli together, just like you always wanted. (This was my MIL's plate one day.)

And I apologize to Luis Acosto, Hotel Manager, right now. Luis, I know how hard you and your people work to keep everything on the ship running, and you certainly deserve a break. I'm just so, so sorry that I took several pictures of you sleeping. I couldn't help myself. And I'm sorry that I'm posting it now. But, not so sorry that I won't post it.... :)


Cruise Day 0

December 22, 2007
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

I call this Day "0" (that's a zero) because we arrived in SD a day before our cruise left. We all thought it was a good idea to have some lee-way in the timing. (ie: not having a schedule so tight that nothing could go wrong.)

We got to the airport on time and after paying a $10 fee each to ENTER the country.... Wha? (Turns out there's a $20 fee to LEAVE the country. More on that later.)... we went in search of luggage.

This is our first view of Santo Domingo:

Bienvenidos! Donde esta mis maletas?
(Welcome! Where is my luggage?)

Could have been worse: it was only one bag that had snorkeling apparatus. The "helpful" people at the counter said to wait for the next Atlanta flight which should arrive in "10 minutes". I'll do the conversion for you: 10 Dominican airport minutes = 10 American football minutes. An hour later, next flight comes in... no bag, and even more people to get in the missing luggage line.

We took a taxi to the Marriott hotel. Sounds easy, doesn't it? We were accosted upon exiting the airport by several taxi services. One group started loading our luggage. (You're supposed to negotiate prices BEFORE they touch your luggage... but we didn't move fast enough.) So, we "negotiated" a price... we pretty much paid what they asked for, since we were at their mercy.

Notice the lack of driving in your own lane. These are not a people who pay attention to traffic "laws." You'd think there'd be anger involved with all the cutting off. Not so... I cut you off and receive a gentle toot and a friendly wave.

Since it was now past dinner time, we ate in the Marriott and stumbled to bed.

Next morning - we're all ready to go sight-seeing. We step out of the Hotel and see this:

Nothing in our sheltered American experience has prepared us for lines of people stretching several blocks, with one end of the street barricaded with armed guards. Er...

Paul and Carrie went back in the hotel, but Mama and Papa G. and I decided to go on... we wanted to get to the Plaza Cultura on the next block, unfortunately on the other side of the barricade.

We asked the hotel people what was going on and was it safe. Turns out that every year on the 23rd, presidential hopefuls hand out food to the people. Bags of food and live piglets and chickens, as it turned out. The hotel guys escorted us down the middle of the street and through the armed barricade.

The Cultural Plaza was very telling about Santo Domingo... neglected, but with potential for beauty. The only part of the Plaza that showed any signs of recent work and thought was right outside the Museum of Modern Art.

We left the Plaza and headed back to the Marriott. The color of our skin let us pass right through the barricade and down the middle of the street again. The guys from the hotel were laughing and taking our picture as we headed toward them. I asked them if it looked funny, because I certainly could see the irony, and it would have been a picture I'd have taken if given the chance. I asked the guy to email the pic to me and he did! We were clearly not from around here.

All of this left us with a fairly bad taste in our mouths about Santo Domingo. The city redeemed itself later, but not until Day 8.


Happy New Year!

It barely registered with me that it is a new year. We didn't do anything last night, as Lee has a wicked cold, and we were both recovering from 12 hours of travel the day before.

Lee noticed this morning that one of our car doors was open... and had been all night, and all the day before. Must have been when open since we got in at 3 a.m. Monday. It had been snowing too, so there was a nice snow drift inside. I cannot believe that the car started. With less trouble than it usually has starting. While I left it running, I cleaned the car off and shoveled... throwing out my shoulder... gah! After cleaning the car off I ran to Wal-Mart for supplies. Usually I avoid it like the plague, but it was close, and it's the only place in town that has the soy milk I like. Not too crowded on New Year's Day at 9:30 a.m. I'll have to remember that.

The rest of the day we watched Die Hard 1 and 2, and I photo-edited... maybe that's what threw my shoulder out! Ha ha. Although, with 900 pics to go through...

So, Happy 2008! I hope your Jan. 1 was more exciting than ours! Boo ya, do we know how to live.