Friday, August 17, 2007

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

First Day of School 2007

Oh what a difference 8 years make...
First Day of School 1999

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reveling at Ravelry

One reason I'm not making as quick progress on the baby blanket as I'd like is because I've been busy playing on Ravelry.

For non-knitters, Ravelry is a new site for the knitting community. It's in beta testing. These two geniuses, Casey and Jess, thought it would be nice to have a site where knitters could post pictures, share patterns, chat in forums - just about everything you can think of.

The buzz about Ravelry began in the spring. As more people joined, a waiting list developed. In order to keep the "bugs" to a minimum, only a certain number of new members are invited each week. Hopefully, it will go "live" in a month or so.

As of last week, there are over 7,000 users and 15, 500 on the waiting list.

I received my invite while I was on vacation in July. I signed up as soon as I got home.

Here's my Ravelry page (it's also under links on the right)

It's just a whole lot of fun- I've got folks like Stephanie Pearl-McPhee-aka the Yarn Harlot, David Reidy from the Sticks and Strings podcast and Brenda Dayne from Cast-On in my "friends" list. For a knitter, this is like having J.K. Rowling, Nicole Kidman and St. Peter as buddies. Fellow knitters leave comments about your works-in-progress and hearts if they like what they see. Always positive and kind (knitters seldom, if ever, criticize one another's work), it's like a pat on the back or a giant "well done".

I also love the groups. I've joined a bunch- from knitters who love to travel, to those of us who love knitting and chocolate, to knitters who attended women's colleges. Just about any other interest a knitter could have.

They only problem is, I've found so many projects I want to do, I will be knitting until I'm 150 years old.

And if I spend much more time at Ravelry, I won't get ANY knitting done.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

What's On the Needles Wednesday

Following Lime 'n Violet's lead, here is my edition of "What's on the Needles Wednesday" for today.

Right now, I'm desperately trying to finish the "Baby Princess Blanket" for my next door neighbors to give to their yet-to-be-born first granddaughter. I worked on it a little bit until I got back from vacation a month ago, only to realize she is supposed to be born mid-September. YIKES! I'm in the home stretch, half-way through side 3 of the outside border.

The pattern is one I received last summer in Copenhagen. The one thing I wanted to do while we spent the day in Copenhagen was visit Somerfulgen, a delightful yarn shop that specializes in Hanne Falkenberg designs. I'd been craving a kit of her "Ballerina" jacket for months, and that was my "treat" on Vacation 2006. While there, I asked if the shop ever had requests for the charming shetland blanket I'd seen in a photo of Danish Crown Princess Mary and her newborn son. Sure enough, they had the pattern, but in Danish--it had been published in a women's magazine.

Knitters are a very kind community. I popped into the forums on Knitter's Review, left messages in the lace and shawl forums, and a Danish knitter offered to translate. Hours later, there were my blanket directions in English.

It's a fairly simple pattern- garter stitch center, feather-n-fan middle and attached outer edging. This is my first attempt at added-on lace edging, and it was easy to catch on after a few false starts. Many thanks to the expert directions in "Victorian Lace Today" for turning the corners.

Oh, and it's knit in Lisa Souza's washable merino sport weight "gingerpeachy" - because the prospective grandaddy is a Georgia Tech alum and wants his first granddaughter to be clad in gold and white.

Here's Ballerina, halfway finished.

And I'm using the 2nd edition of 2007 "Socks That Rock's Rockin' Sock Club" for Brenda Patipa's Twist and Lace Scarf. I really love this pattern, and the Silkie yarn is soooo nice to work with.

Lots of projects just waiting until "the baby blanket from hell" and Ballerina are finished. I'm disciplining myself- or attempting to- by not allowing myself to cast on until those are finished.

Hopefully, good news will arrive next Wednesday!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Hummingbird Wars

We're having a battle royal here at Maison Cou Rouge, and it involves feathers and sugar.

Every year about this time, the hummingbirds discover that we have feeders on the patio. Why they wait until August, is unknown to me, as we put the feeders out every April, constantly refilling them when they turn cloudy all spring and early summer. I don't claim to understand hummingbird logic.

It goes like this. One male hummum (family-speak for "hummingbird") arrives. Figures out which of the 4 feeders is his favorite, and makes it his own.

Few days later, a few more show up. They attempt to have a quick one for the road, only to be dive-bombed by hummum #1. The newest birds fly off.

They must go back to the hummum 'hood and bring back some of their hummum homies, because the next day, we are innundated by hummingbirds, a few chasing #1 around while the others slurp up the sugar water.

Suddenly every bird is dive bombing every other bird, jealously defending his (or her?) turf.

They chatter and hum, and become totally unafraid of the two-legged homo sapien-types that are all but rolling on the bricks laughing at their antics.

If it weren't so hot, we'd sit watching for hours . They're hilarious.

Walking into the house almost becomes problematic, timing it so we don't turn into a game of human v. hummum dodgeball.

Hummingbird wars. It's passes for entertainment out here in the Middle-of-Nowhere.

Monday, August 13, 2007

TEAMWORK- Running Style

Now I ask--Would any kid voluntarily get up at 5 am on the last Saturday of summer vacation???

Kudos to Girl and her teammates on her school cross country team -the Brentwood Eagles- for doing so.

9 of the 17 members of the team participated in a race about 90 minutes away on Saturday. And if anyone knows how hot it's been in Georgia-well, everywhere- the past few weeks, it's understood why the run would take place at 7:30 in the morning. Back into the travel time, and now it's apparent why the 5am wake up call.

5am. 5-freaking- am. It's still dark. Even the dog isn't up. Boy went with us, ever conscious of the fact that his sister has supported his athletic endeavors for years. But he let Dad drive, which is highly unusual, as the new driver wants to chauffeur us everywhere. 5 A-M. . .

We all met up at the neighbors' house and caravanned to the race- 4 cars full of sleepy families, the only traffic for miles on backroads.

Gotta hand it to my next door neighbor- who is also Girl's running coach. She's 3 years younger than I, and seriously started running only a couple of years ago. She looks great. She and her husband ran the Chicago marathon last year.

She has licked these kids into shape. They have been out training 3-4 days a week all summer. Of course the kids grumbled. Of course they whined, moaned, and complained. But they kept at it. More kids joined in. Misery loves company, they say.

She started with 6 runners last year. Now she has 17. And most are 8th grade or younger. They have fun, and all get along well. They pace each other and help each other through rough patches. She has, in fact, formed a TEAM.

There were lots of personal best times. A few of the older runners stepped up from 5 km competition to try the 10 km. They each succeeded in their own way. Some got trophies, some didn't. But the kids were all made to feel like winners because they did the best they could.

That's what coaching is all about.

And I don't think that there was a prouder group than the kids when all three of their coaches took home first place trophies in their respective divisions.

Now that's EAGLE PRIDE!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Last Week of Summer Vacation

Ah, the last week before my little darlings return to school. Thursday is open house and Friday is the first full day of classes.

Kids grow up so fast. I know we are all told this as new parents, but here it is, 16 and 13 years later, and I can't help thinking about the "old days" when first days of school meant new outfits, new backpacks, pictures on the front porch---the whole works. Now it means getting teenagers back on a normal schedule (waking up at 6:30am instead of the crack of noon) and going shopping for back to school clothes with your girlfriend instead of your mom.

But back-to-school also means I get my house back to a semi-normal state of disrepair. We love being the house where all the kids hang out- makes me feel younger than my 46 years- but there are times....especially when Boy's pals all get their electric guitars going for a jam session...or Girl's friends start thinking that it's more fun to throw the billiard balls into the pockets instead of using a cue. On Friday, it will be my quiet house again, with just the Grumpy Guy working on his start-up company from the comfort of the den. I won't have to retreat to my closet with my noise cancelling headphones just to get a little knitting done!!

It will be awfully quiet then.........