Monday, August 24, 2009

My first afghan!

I have known how to knit for what seems like forever but, I've just never knitted an afghan- I just couldn't imagine working forever on one project! I've had many friends request that I knit them an afghan- but, I'd always tell them.. "I love you, but...I don't love anyone that much!" And, truthfully, I sort of meant it too. ha ha

However, last year in the yarn market of Seoul, Korea, I found this amazing self changing tweedy yarn. I knitted up what I now know is the log cabin square- I was just using the quilt concept of a log cabin square and no pattern. I loved how the yarn slowly changed colors so that it looked like I had changed the colors for various knitted sides.

I showed the squares to Lisa, my friend and knitting student at the time, how the squares looked knitted up. She loved the way that the squares looked and decided that she wanted some of the yarn too. So, off we went to the yarn market and eventually purchased 3 different color ways and then split up the cost and the skeins so that we'd each have a larger variety of colors.

I knitted and knitted on the squares and I even took the wool yarn with me on a trip to Cambodia and there I discovered that 'feltable wool, humidity, and high temperatures found in a tropical jungle location' were not a good mix. THE WOOL FELTED IN THE SKEIN!

I had to interrupt my knitting last spring, summer, and even into the early fall, on the log cabin squares - because of torn tendons in my right hand. Once my hand was well- it was time to knit some Christmas gifts. However, I've recently been able to finish the remaining squares (far more than show in the photo) and I'm now in the process of seaming the squares together.

While I enjoyed knitting my first afghan.. I don't want anyone to get any ideas that I might knit one for you.

I plan to knit strips of the dark blue between the knitted squares- just like a quilt.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Oh happy day.. No longer will it look like the Clampet's came for a visit on wash day..

The German appliances are loaned to us from the military... My dryer never has worked well. The longest cycle is 1 hour and 57 minutes and my clothes would still be wet damp. I could run them through the cycle 2x.. yes, that's 3 hours and 54 minutes and my clothing would still be SO WET that they had to be put on a drying rack to dry for 4-6 hours (summer) to a day or so (winter).

I had reported the problem two times. I had someone come and check the dryer two times. They (The GERMAN man who was the manager of the appliances) basically told me that 'that's just the way it is'... that the German washing machines didn't spin the clothing as fast/hard as the American washing machines did.. so, the clothing was just 'wetter' when it went into the dryer anyway. *I told him that that might be true.. but, clothing should be dry after 3 hours and 54 minutes in the dryer!! =:O

I reminded them that I always clean the lint trap and dump the water container out after each load. I'd been doing what I could to help the dryer do the job. *The dryers work on a different principle than stateside dryers do... you have a container that collects the water removed from the clothing in the dryer. You pull this 'container' out and dump the water out.

They told me that they just didn't have any more dryers available at this time.

Last week, I came home to find a note from the appliance people to call them to make arrangements for a dryer delivery. I called and it was delivered yesterday. IT IS BRAND NEW!

Yes, as soon as the delivery guys left.. I went upstairs to get some dirty clothing from the clothes hamper, washed them, and put them in the new dryer as soon as the long washing cycle was completed.

Doing the.. "I can dry my clothing and don't have to dry my shirts and pillowcases draped over the back of my patio chairs when I run out of room on the drying rack" HAPPY DANCE!!

Color: White I don't think that there is another choice- but, that's OK!

On the other hand, I really did enjoy the nice outdoor fresh smell on my sheets.. humm

Sunday, August 16, 2009

TIP # 351: Never send an email w/out being fully awake

Just check out: for August 16 *I think that they change their secrets weekly.

I looked at the site this morning... (someone had told me about the site) and while some 'secrets' are to put it one way.. a little more blunt.... after all they are actual secrets that others have mailed in anonymously, right? And, some secrets are secrets for a reason. I also found some were funny, endearing, and even sad.

Anyway... I found one about a school teacher. So, since it is the start of school for all my teacher friends - I went through my address book and did a copy/paste of the photo and sent it to every teacher that I know... some now retired, etc.

WHAT I DIDN'T KNOW WAS several of the secrets were also copied not just the funny teacher secret that I wanted to send to my friends. You can see where this is going, right?

AND.. yes, after I sent the email.. I went through the 'sent file' and that is when I discovered that not only was the secret that I wanted to send.. sent but, several secrets prior to that innocent, funny, put you in a good mood for the beginning of the new year... teacher secret were also sent.

The title of the email? Ok, who sent their secret to

Curious? Think, oh.. it couldn't be that bad.. could it... well, here you go.. this is the first secret that was posted...

Cute? Not bad..

Here's the only postsecret that I meant to send in my email:

Now, you see why I was inspired to do an immediate 'copy/paste' and email that image to my friends, co-workers, and even former teachers and principals?

Ok, now... just go on to or even just

and check out the images that were between these two images, posted here, that I accidently sent in my email.. but, you have to do it before the upcoming weekend.

And, I assure you .. YOU WILL LAUGH AT ME ... yes, at me and I won't blame you one bit. Sigh...

At least this is the first time that I've sent something in an email that I didn't mean to send.. it was bound to happen at some point, right? RIGHT?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Psst.... wanna see Italy?

Well, I've lived in two different locations in Italy and it is by far my favorite country overall. Each place you live has unique qualities that you miss when you leave... but, to me.. Italy is one of those places that is exactly as you had imagined it in your mind. I felt kin to the generations of the past as I'd walk along the worn cobblestones and marble sidewalks. Many buildings in the area were 200-800 years old.

When my storage shipment arrived this summer... a few of my Italian treasures did too.

This is the baker's rack that was made for me by the same man who made my wrought iron bed that couldn't be brought up the narrow turns on my German staircase. See the metal box in the floor? That's a transformer and it has to be used to plug a 110 (American wattage) electrical item so that it can be used in a 220 voltage home in Europe. It makes a humm when it's being used. The transformer gets plugged into the wall and then there are outlets on the front of the transformer to plug in the American appliances/etc. *I have to use one of these in my 'entertainment room' (uh, office for those who want to be traditional). *And, yes.. it does use more electricity when you use the transformer.

The chicken pitchers on the top (I have more of them too) are from all the little towns in Northern Italy where I lived the first time I moved to Italy. Each town makes their own 'chicken pitcher' design. It is the traditional gift to give to someone when they move into a new home.

The hand painted tiles on the back of the baker's rack were from a small town along the Amalfi Coast that I found before I moved away from Italy the last time. The painted scene is of the little town as seen from the train station.

Some of my polish pottery is on the rack too- but, I think it goes well with the Italian ceramics too. On the shelf, right below the marble top, (which I requested to be the Italian Green Marble from the man who made the rack) are my hand painted dishes that were made for me in Nove in northern Italy. *click on the photos for a larger/clearer view

I just loved this candlestick holder when I found it in that little Amalfi coast town. I like a touch of whimsy here and there.

Close up of the fruit plates. I had found this tiny shop.. (a room in a house) with a small amount of ceramics for sale. I had purchased a vase and pitcher in this same design- but, it was all that they had in this beautiful fruit design. Finally, I made them understand with drawing plates/etc. and the fruit designs and pointing back and forth to the vase and the drawing.. that I wanted them to do the same painting on a set of dishes. The fruits painted on the vase and pitcher was the most beautiful of any hand painted ceramics that I ever saw in Italy and I just knew that they'd be beautiful on a set of dishes.

They finally understood and I paid the money due and would return in a month's time. Aren't they amazing? Funny part: THEY DID NOT STAMP the DISHES MADE IN ITALY or sign the artwork. Reason? I'm here now and would know that they were made in Italy- because they made them for me. The 'made in Italy' stamp is for items that might not stay in Italy.

Hand painted ceramic tile showing the castles of Gaeta from the ocean, that I looked down upon from the house that I was living in when I lived in Gaeta, Italy.

The only items that I had used in the past were the fruit dishes- all other items had been purchased right before I moved from Gaeta and immediately put into storage until I could live in a place big enough to hold all of my household goods.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh! 'FUZZY FEET' boy did you shrink...

Yes, I've been knitting for years and years... since the late 80's... and yet.. I have never, ever knit socks.

Well, the early years is quite understandable that I wouldn't know how to knit socks.. there was no sock yarn sold in my southern region of Oklahoma.. it took years to find someone to teach me how to knit. As a matter of fact, I used to buy Vogue knitting magazines (the only option at that time where I lived) and had already taught myself the knitting abbreviations/etc. I just didn't know how to knit. There was no such thing as the Internet or any books at that time (at least not where I lived) that taught you how to knit.

So, I'd ask everyone I met.. for years.. if anyone knew how to knit.. none did.. they all knew how to crochet. I was finally taught how to knit by someone from Australia who was living in my little southern Oklahoma town.. for a few months while her husband learned how to fly helicopters! What a small world. She was in line in front of me at the grocery store and when I heard her accent.. I knew that she was from: AUSTRALIA

And.. to my mind: Australia = sheep = knitting

So, I asked once more.. the question that I had asked time and again.. "Do you know how to knit?" She did and she taught me how to knit. I took to knitting immediately... I learned knit and purl on my little swatch.. then, I asked her to show me how to make cables.. she did and I was off in my own knitting world. After mastering my cable on this swatch, holding my beginning knit and purl stitches, I do remember that she suddenly grabbed my first knitting attempt.. 'my little swatch' out of my hands.. and proceeded to rip the stitches out so I could start over now that I had even tension. I was aghast- after all I was so proud of my first rows of knitting.

*As a result, I always let those that I teach how to knit to keep their first little swatch of knitting.. it is a big milestone after all.

My first project? A cotton summer sleeveless top out of the only cotton yarn available to me: Peaches and Cream

I went through my knitting magazines and I found stitch patterns that I liked and figured out how to knit these different stitch patterns in little squares of different stitches on my first garment. I added a crochet picot edge. I wore it all the time.. of course, at the time I wasn't aware of cotton's tendency to 'grow and stretch' out of shape. As a result.. it got wider and shorter over time.

About two weeks ago, I decided it was time to knit some socks. I selected the pattern: Fuzzy Feet (found on ravelry or from an Internet search) I used some felt-able wool from Wool of the Andes... and some fun fur that had been in my household goods storage shipment that came this summer to add a nice fun touch to the cuff of the soon to be felted 'slippers'... Even though the yarn looks 'pink' in the skein, I was delighted to find that it was really a purple-ish and white mixture of fun fur and it went perfectly with the purple yarn that I was knitting my 'fuzzy feet' out of..

I have had these giant socks finished for about 10 days and yesterday.. I finally decided to felt them. Remember, I am living in Germany.. which means: FRONT LOAD WASHING MACHINE.. which means:


Oh no.. Oh no... Yes, you can see where this is going.. and you can also understand why I had not attempted to felt the giant socks for 10 days?

So, here were are... the finished and felted socks where are now 'slippers'.. I think that they turned out cute, though.. Just as I had imagined that they would look..
Right? I can see now that my color selections were perfect together.. the fun fur did add just that right 'fun' touch...

Except.. Of course.. they are never going to fit even my toes...

I have not given up the 'knitting socks' skill though. Fortunately, I did not felt the giant and now big enough to fit a 4 year old 'Fuzzy Feet' socks.. for 10 days.. otherwise, I might not have attempted to start a pair of 'real fit you when you finish' (at least you hope they do) socks with no felting involved.

I've been really busy lately.. but, I do knit at least a 1/2 inch on them every night .. see?

I'd also started knitting little sock ornaments. I knitted a sock from a variety of patterns that I found on line- to find one that made the best shaped socks... and of course a pattern that made sense..

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Some flowers found at the local German Garden Center

*Click on the photos for a larger/clearer view

In the area of Germany that I live, it seems that the national hobby is growing and maintaining a beautiful flower garden and/or the most amazing window flower boxes.

Window box flowers... aren't these amazing? My window box flowers make me happy.. but, I'm not sure what the secret is.. because, they aren't lush like these flowers are..

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Wollmeise yarn, how I love you...

I had seen photos of this beautiful yarn hand-dyed by a lady by the name of Claudia on the knitting forum:

I had also heard that the yarn was always sold out within minutes of being posted on-line for sale. Problem was, I was in the wrong time zone... I was in Seoul, Korea a year+ ago when I first heard about this wonderful yarn. Flash forward, to a move to Germany... where this lovely yarn is created. Of course, I still couldn't purchase it.. because of that thing called: WORK and a non-working (but, paying dearly for it each month) Internet service for the first 6 months that I was in my new house. *Sigh.. and no one from the phone company would check on the problem.. I finally had to pay someone to come to my house to see what the problem was.. (made me feel better when it did take them 3 hours to figure out what the problem was) but, back on subject.. there wasn't any way that I could try to 'get this yarn' when it was posted for sale on-line....

AND, then a month ago... I heard that a 'real yarn shop' that would sell this wonderful, but elusive yarn had opened up. I wrote down the name of the town and the next time that I went to the train station... I asked if this town was close by. I was delighted to learn that all I had to do was go to Nurnberg (which I love to do and is only about 50 minutes away by train) and then switch trains and the town that I was seeking was only about an hour and twenty minutes away.

The new school year is about to start back up and since I didn't get to go on vacation anywhere or return to the states for the summer break... it was time for an adventure and the first day of a new month is always a good day for an adventure, right?

Getting on the train in Nurnberg...

Arriving at the 'yarn shop town'.... as I pulled out my written directions on 'how to find the yarn shop' and I had just said to my 'non-knitting friend'.. "Now, let's see if we can find this yarn shop." ... someone walked up and asked me if we were looking for the WOLLMEISE YARN SHOP and I told her that we indeed were.. and I found out that she was going to the same shop so.. she was our delightful and helpful 'yarn shop guide'... Thank you new friend... (you know who you are)

Front of the shop. Claudia was sitting outside knitting when we arrived. She welcomed us warmly.

Knitted and felted frog on a pond of yarny goodness...

Window flowers growing in a bed of 'yarn grass'...

Some socks knitted up in the yarns...

The inside of the shop... (sorry for the blurry photo.. I think that I was a little in awe of all the amazing colors)<
I thought that this wall of yarn looked like a box of yarn crayons!

The yarn that I bought... some was purchased to make gifts for others... I'm having second thoughts about that... I'm beginning to want it all for myself... *must fight the urge to want all the yarn for myself...

Excuse me... I must go look at my Wollmeise yarn again.. just to make sure it doesn't need anything... yeah, that's it. I'm not petting the yarn.. no way.. that would be 'yarn crazy'... :D