Monday, November 13, 2006

Always Late to the Party

I think I may be finished with my Day of the Dead project by the next Dia de los Muertos. As usual I was hit with some side projects so I wasn't able to devote as much time to this project as I would have liked to, but in the spirit of my Grandmother...always late to the party! I finally figured out the pattern is basically an eight row repeat and it seems to be going fairly easily, however, like all lace projects it will be a slow go. I really like the way the colors are showing up in the pattern. Sometimes the delicate patterns of lace can get lost with some variegated yarns but this one really seems to compliment the pattern.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Drawing and Winners

Wow--when Kristi and I first decided to have prizes, we wished we could come up with something more original than a drawing, but we didn't think we'd want to have to judge the quality of anyone's work. Thank goodness we realized that early on, because I have no idea how we'd actually choose. Everyone's projects were so different, so fun, and it was really great to hear the stories behind them.

So, boring or no, whew--glad we decided to do a drawing. The winners are:
Terri (formerly blogless) and Bezzie!

Terri and Bezzie, let me know your snail mail address at amycrea AT comcast DOT net, and I'll mail them out right away--they're all ready to go, except for the winner info.

But congrats to everyone, and thanks for joining us! I think I'll always keep DOTD in mind when the fall comes around. What a great way to remember loved ones.

EDIT: Talk about kindness and good karma. Bezzie says she very recently won a prize from another KAL site, so she asked that someone else win her prize! Bezzie is nicer than I would be. :-) So I gathered the remaining names, and this time--Lisa wins! Thanks, Bezzie!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My own form of Loon-acy

Sometime earlier this summer I got to thinking about a book of knitting motifs that I have, "Enchanted Knitting". I was intrigued by the images of grinning or dancing skeletons. The book explained how the Mexican use of skeletons in their Day of the Dead served a different purpose. It was not a gruesome custom but rather a day to remember family or friends that have passed on.
At the time I thought the idea intriguing and entertained a notion to make a pair of black and white socks with a dancing skeleton on the side or perhaps a skeleton wearing a flowered hat, maybe try ribbon embroidery for the flowers on the hat. I thought I would have my own day of the dead celebration, but I wouldn't say anything to anyone about it because 1) I may not finish them by Nov 1 and 2) I didn't want to try to explain to everyone what I was doing and why I thought I wanted to do this. I'm not Mexican and really know little about this tradition, but I found the use of skeletal imagery in this manner interesting and thought I would give it a go.
I don't think I could have been more stunned when the next Wednesday at our usually knitting group, Connie asked me if I had seen that Amy and Kristi had started a Day of the Dead KAL. I guess somethings are just meant to be.

I chose to knit the Huron Socks by Nancy Bush from her book, "Knitting On the Road", in memorial of my father-in-law, Ray. The socks are designed after the feather patterning of the Common Loon, Minnesota's state bird. When I see the Loon, I think of Ray because he liked the Loon and collected items with Loons on it, mostly mugs but other things too.

I think of Ray when the weather gets hot. Ray liked the weather hot and humid. On those days when the weather was so unbearably hot and most everyone is seeking the comfort and relief of the cool shade or air conditioning, Ray would sit out on the deck in the sunshine and soak up the sun like a Kimodo Dragon. He would invite you to sit out on the deck with him and seemed bewildered by our lack of enthusiasm at the idea.

It will be three years in January that Ray died after a fall that caused a deep brain bleed that we believe occurred due to a series of small strokes that affected his ability to mediate his impulses to get up and move.

As fate would have it, I did knit a pair of black and white socks for the KAL, but I didn't finish them by Nov.1 (I finished them on Nov.6th) and they didn't have any dancing skeletons or grinning skeletons wearing flowered hats. (Although when I think about it now, a skeleton wearing a flowered hat would have been appropriate. Ray was a steam fitter (Welder) and had a collection of brightly colored, some with flowers on that he wore under his welding mask to protect his head and neck.)

I am pleased with how they turned out, I pretty much followed the pattern, except I altered the pattern to include the red loon eyes. I knit them both, at the same time, on one long circular needle using the magic loop method. The socks fit well and I will remember Ray when I wear them this winter.

This has been a really good experience and I would like to thank Amy and Kristi for hosting the KAL. (I'm sorry for posting so late, blogger didn't love me last night.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

Winding down

Hey everyone,
It's great to see all the photos of completed or almost-completed projects--you guys are so creative! It's really fun to see what people have done for their DOTD projects, and to hear the stories behind them.

If anyone has a completed or in-process project, please post about it by Thursday, Nov. 9 to be eligible for the drawings for the yummy yarns. I'll draw and post the winners on Friday.

In the meantime, the Yarn Pirate (not a DOTD participant) wrote a moving and worthwhile blog entry about Dia de los Muertos. Go check it out here.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Well - the camera decided to work today - we are having issues with it and are beginning the search for a new one...

Here is my finished Day of the Dead Project:

This side represents our dog Henry, who we had in our family from puppyhood for 10 years. He died of a bone cancer. His ashes are buried in our backyard.
This side represents our dog Cody who we adopted when she was 2 years old and had for 5 years. She was a special little package. Her side includes a tongue as she did not bark but would hang her tongue out of her mouth, bobbing her head up and down in protest.

I started the finishing process last night - while watching Lord of the Rings - Return of the King (dh - how much light do you REALLY need?) We were watching the extended version (4 hours!) and I decided to put it away during the last 2 hours to really enjoy the battle scenes! I finished this puppy at noon today - just in time to get over to Amy's house for a Day of the Dead KAL celebration! We had a lot of fun and it was great to see some of the entries in person. I told Amy it is a good thing I had a deadline for this project as the finishing of stuffed animals is NOT a favorite activity of mine - I rarely knit animals. I used WoolEase and changed the charting for the Handsome Hound pattern I found. I decided to stitch on pieces of felt to Cody's side I couldn't image another piece with this intarsia wanted to make each side unique for each of the dog's personalities.

I want to thank Amy and Kristi for hosting - it has been a lot of fun and I really want to see everyone else's entries very soon!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

El Fin

los calavera
Six repeats done - and is my wrist sore.(The picture is the original swatch created by the designer: it is not my work)I was concerned after the first two repeats that the shawl/scarf would be on the short side, but when I see it now ... I guess lace expands as you make it. Unblocked it's approximately 57".

One of my instructors commented a few days ago that it reminded her of papel picado (the cut paper often displayed on Dia de los Muertos of skeletons having a good time). I am working on getting a picture of the completed shawl/scarf. I made it using STR in the colourways of Sand and Ruby Slippers.

Thank you so much Amy and Kristi for hosting this KAL. Now I can read lace charts (kind of ;)***CV


That’s one of my favorite words. Lately, I’ve been relishing the satisfaction of finishing small projects, like my DOTD doll. I’ve been knitting for many years, but most of my projects have been sweaters. When you can’t devote all hours of the day to knitting--what with silly distractions like real work and taking care of the house and futile attempts to make headway on my to-be-read skyscraper of books--a big project tends to stretch out over a long period of time and, no matter how much you like it, become wearying. I have several such UFO’s in my knitting bag, and I’m having a great deal of fun ignoring them and working instead on little things which can be completed in a few hours or days, allowing me to say, “Done!”

I loved making this doll and thinking about my grandmother while I designed and knit and stitched. The face, with one tiny change (I added a nose), is based upon one of her drawings. Am I completely satisfied with it? Of course not. The hair’s dorky, since I’m not much good at making hair. And perhaps the skirt could use a bit of embellishment. But the reality is that I’m like this about nearly everything I make. There’s always something I want to go back and change. Sometimes I do, often I don’t. And even when I don’t, it’s still done.

So, my doll has joined the family. I haven’t yet made a shrine to honor those who’ve passed on (it’s on my endless list of projects), but I do keep a big collection of photographs in a corner of our family room, and that corner has both the lively energy of loved ones who are still with us, and the watchful, protective presence of those who’ve departed this earth. My DOTD doll sits in the armchair closest to the photographs, not far from an early 1900’s picture of my grandmother in what must be her wedding dress. I hope she likes the doll and understands what she means to me.

Thank you Amy and Kristi for coming up with such a great KAL idea, and for inviting the blogless contingent, like me, to join in. Kristi, my sincere condolences for your loss.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Fun with Knitting

Me and my little muerto doll had a fun time celebrating today. I didn't have access to post on here when I finished him, but I think most of y'all saw him on my blog. He was knit in memory of my grandfather in law who passed away this past July. I only ever met him once, but without him, I wouldn't have my great mother in law, and without her, my husband wouldn't be here.

I've never imbedded a video before so I hope this helps. And bear in mind soy una this video feels very high-school Spanish class-y. I apologize for my horrible accent! Ha ha! Oh and you'll notice I refer to him as "abuelo del mano." That's my rough translation of Grandpa Hand (his last name!)

Happy Dia De Los Muertos! This was a fun KAL, thanks Amy and Kristi for masterminding it!

Posting with no pictures

Hi all! I just wanted to post that progress is being made on my project - all of the pieces are in the blocking phase now. I have to put it together and do some embellishment on it and it looks like I will have to "fudge" one of the pieces a bit. I don't know what happened when I worked the chart - but that's okay. Of course, my lovely camera decided to croak out this past weekend and so I have no pictures right now! I can't WAIT to see what everyone comes up with.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

This week

This week is the official Day of the Dead week. Please continue to post pictures and stories about how your DOTD projects are going, and if you're having any kind of celebrations or events, be sure to post about that too.

And for those of you who may not know, please take some time this week to send Kristi of Red Dog Knits (blog and email on the right sidebar) your thoughts and prayers. She's the co-host of this KAL, and this week she and her husband received the awful news that one of the triplets she's carrying has died. This is got to be a horrible time for her and her family, and she can use all the good thoughts, prayers, wishes, karma, whatever she can get.

The KAL will continue, so do post. The yarn prizes will be awarded next week as planned. Remember, post pictures of your project in progress, and post pictures of any DOTD celebrations you attend/host to be eligible for the drawings.

This week

Hello everyone,

Many of you have probably already heard this, but for those who haven't:

Kristi of Red Dog Knits, who is the co-host of this KAL, received some horrible news this week. She's pregnant with triplets, and she and her husband learned that one of the triplets has died. I can't imagine how devastating and frightening this is for them. Please, if you have time, visit her site and leave a comment or send her an email (on the sidebar on the right) with condolences.

And if you're celebrating Day of the Dead this week, either with a gathering of your own or on your own, please take a minute to remember baby Elijah.

The KAL will go on; please keep posting pictures and stories of your projects and how they're going. Prizes will be drawn next week.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Last minute knitter

Apparently when I join a KAL, I treat it as I do my homework... I wait until the last minute and then whine like a champ about how much I have to do. :o) It's been that kind of semester though.

I attempted to start my KAL project this weekend but after fighting with it for an hour or so I gave up and decided to instead work on something mindless that I could do while also watching the baseball game. :o) I haven't given up on the project, I've just put it on hold, again. Hopefully though I'll make some progress this week after my midterm and this weekend so I'm not knitting up to the very last minute. :op

I love seeing what the rest of you are up to! Keep the posts coming!


Sunday, October 22, 2006

More Progress photos

Well - this is the second large piece that I have finished. I have a basic pattern I am working from but am making up the intarsia as I go along. The Day of the Dead is fast approaching!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Let the Games Begin - or something like that...

I have finally been able to start my project.

More to come...

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Well I finally decided what to knit for the Day of the Dead KAL. I decided to knit Grumprina's Odessa hat from Mag Knits. I knit this hat for my friend Steph about four month's ago. She passed away this September from cervical cancer, and she has been in my mind ever since. While Steph was really sick, she was also very strong. As a nurse and medical student, Steph pursued all of her treatments head on. Let's just say she had faith in the medical community. Now some of us were bitter she was mis-diagnosed with "stress", but Steph just wouldn't want that. She would want us to remember the good times and move forward. On a different note, I found out this past week that her family will be use the money from her malpractice suit for a nursing scholarship. Anyways back to the Odessa hat, I loved making the hat for her. It arrived soon after she lost her hair and she loved the hat! To give you an idea of how funny this girl was, she referred to her bald head as the solar panel for her sex machine. She was just a riot. So I thought I will knit this great hat and remember a great Steph. I left the beads off, as I am not a bead person. I hope I will get to meet some of you soon. Maybe at the Day of the Dead KAL get together. It looks like I might be able to attend. Hopefully my second job will not schedule me to work on that day!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Off like a herd of turtles...

It's a start ....a slow start but a start...

Actually this is 45 rows! Those of you who have done lace projects before know how slow going it can be. The chart that I have only goes to 48 rows but I was assured by Amy; one of my fellow Tuesday night knitters, that the chart follows a several row repeat and should be easy to follow. With that assurance I am moving forward albeit at a snails pace. It's amazing how this project has taken on a lot of my grandma Alta's quirky habits, the slow pace and procrastination being the two that are outstanding at the moment. I hope to make a little more progress on it tonight if I can get through all those nagging domestic duties that I have let pile up.

Friday, October 06, 2006

More Prizes!

How gorgeous is that yarn Amy picked up???? Here's something else to sweeten the pot a bit...two skeins Koigu KPPM in Painter's Palette.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Prizes! and Yarn! Yarn prizes!

We can't really have a KAL without a prize, can we?

The biggest problem with prizes, though, is how people can go about winning them. Kristi and I are in full agreement that we don't want to be in the position of judges--I really can't bear the thought of saying, OK, this one's the best. Ick. Because in all likelihood, I'd have a hard time choosing anyway. Drawings and random number generators seem pretty dull, but it's a lot easier on the ol' psyche than trying to subjectively pick a winner.

So if you have any better ideas, please let us know! In the meantime, what we're considering is this: a prize drawn from all participants who send photos of their DOTD items by Nov. 2, and a prize drawn from all who send photos showing participation in DOTD festivities (in your home, in someone else's home, in the community) by Nov. 8. We were going to say a prize for those who host an event--but I'm hosting one, so that's not fair either. Wow--who knew this would be so hard! :-)

In the meantime, here is one of the prizes that will be given:

Schaefer Yarn, Laurel, in the Frida Kahlo colorway. This is 100% mercerized pima cotton, approximately 400 yards. In very colorful yarny goodness.

Who knows? It might be yours someday!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Frida Kahlo's Chicken in Pipian Sauce

Hey, everyone! I hope the DOTD knitting is well on its way. I'm giving Kristi a break from recipe acquisition. I don't have a MIL who's an expert Hispanic cook, but I do have a copy of the cookbook, Frida's Fiestas: Recipes and Reminiscences of Life with Frieda Kahlo, by Guadalup Rivera and Marie-Pierre Colle (Clarkson Potter, copyright 1994). There's an entire chapter on Day of the Dead. The publisher of the book has given us permission to publish a recipe from that chapter here:

Chicken in Pipian Sauce
2 chickens, cut into parts
6 cups water
2 carrots, cut in half lengthwise
1 onion, quartered
2 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 celery stalk
2 parsley sprigs
4 teaspoons salt
4 black peppercorns

1 cup sesame seeds
1 cup blanched almonds
1 tablespoon corn oil or lard
2 teaspoons powdered chicken bouillon
6 guero chiles
3/4 cup olives
2 teaspoons capers

Cook the chicken with the water, vegetables, and seasonings in a large saucepan until tender. Strain, reserving the broth. Skin and bone the chicken.

To make the sauce, toast the sesame seeds lightly in a skillet, stirring constantly. Puree the sesame seeds with the almonds and 2 cups of the chicken broth. Heat the oil, add the blended mixture, and cook for 5-8 minutes, until thickened. Add 2-3 more cups of the broth and the chicken bouillon and simmer for 5 minutes more. Add the chiles, olives, capers, and chicken. Simmer for 10 minutes more and serve piping hot.

Sounds perfect for a fall meal, doesn't it?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Off to a bad start

OK, here's my first post to my first KAL and I'm already whining and emotional. I wanted a project that would bring to mind my Mom's mother Alta. She was a big influence in my life and we practically lived at her house when we were little. She was a woman ahead of her time , very well read and intelligent. Oh, and fittingly she was also somewhat high maintanence. For example, when my grandfather died she had to have a mantilla like Jackie Kennedy wore to JFK's funeral. Nothing else was going to work for her. My mom went crazy running around trying to find the perfect Jackie O mantilla to appease my grandmother. Finally one was located and she was a grieving yet stylish widow. I wanted to do a "mantilla like" scarf, triangular in shape but not too big. I found the pattern that I wanted to use at free knitting patterns central called the Kevat shawl. It has a leaf motif, which I love and was flexible regarding the finished size of the piece. The perfect yarn had escaped me, that was until I stopped at Neighborhood Knits to pick up some Cascade Fixation last week. There in all it's fall color Glory was Schaefer Yarn's "Anne", a really lovely merino mohair blend. Sunday AM I was all geeked to wind up my skein and start in on my scarf. I had by ball winder set up and ready. As I was getting ready to start my DH was leaving to watch football at a friend's house. I thought "no problem I can do this myself". No sooner did I start to unwind and wind the mohair kicked in and within about five minutes I had a complete disaster on my hands. So my weekend was not spent knitting my lovely scarf but unraveling the holy hell of a mess that my beautiful yarn had become. After 18 hours (no kidding) of tedious and tearful work you see the finished result. I am hoping this will not be a trend and I will have some knitting to show on my next post.