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'Cause sometimes I even surprise the knit out of myself.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Samhain!

Or Happy Halloween. However you like to say it. Well this year's Samhain was kind of a wash for me. I was traveling home from Indianapolis and didn't really get to enjoy seeing cute babies in costume. The only tradition I was able to keep once I raced home from the airport was leaving out a plate of food and wine at my dinner table with a tealight to welcome loved ones back that have passed on. This is really a tradition that I picked up from friends and through all of my readings of the ancient Celtic practices.

I wanted to make soul cakes again this year but didn't get to unfortunately. Soul Cakes are a centuries old tradition from Ireland in which people would go door to door offering to pray for the deceased in exchange for sweetened soul cakes. Obviously, this eventually became trick-or-treating as we know it. Same with the Jack O'Lanterns. Irish my friends. But they used turnips in Ireland and then came to America to find an abundance of pumpkins. (No I didn't get this from "The Secret Life of...." on Food TV. I already had the recipe and the traditions my prettties. I gots me some Celtic connections).

Anyhoo, the tradition goes that all Hallow's Eve or Samhain ("Sowan") is the night of the year when the veil between the living and the dead is at it's thinnest. Food and wine are left at one empty chair at your dinner table to welcome the souls of your loved ones for a meal and back to your home. The ideals and food traditions are somewhat similar to the concept and traditions of Dia del los Muertos in Mexico. I hold this tradition very near and dear to my heart. I think of those I lost on a regular basis but they are on the forefront of my mind tonight.

I love you Grandma "Pippytoe", Grandma and Grandpa Hughes, Buffarooni, and my dearest aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. You are missed but never forgotten.

This is the end of the Celt Wheel of the Year. Tomorrow begins the next year in this tradition. So I send you all abundant best wishes and blessings for the New Year.
I'll leave you with a rather comical picture of myself from my camera phone. Gosh this was taken in 2003 or so at my friend's Twisted Fairytales and Bedtime Stories Halloween party. I was the Wicked Witch of the South Side. I got the name from working on the south side of town when I traveled to St. Pete for work.

That thar hat in this picture is actually about 36 inches tall, pleather, laced up the front, with chains around the brim. Yeah....I love my hat. I once took a picture of my SIL dressed up as the Wicked Witch of the West when we went to the Wizard of Oz sing-a-long show in Princeton and she is wearing the hat. The sunroof of the Mini Cooper is open and it is sticking about 2 feet out of the roof. Freakin' hysterical.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sheep Motif Blanket DONE- the reason for swearing off intarsia

Minus a good blocking and sans the grass tufts, the demented sheep are done and sent out to pasture. No pun intended.
Pattern: Sheep Motif Blanket
Source: Vogue Knitting Baby Blankets Two
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton in sage, Berocco Plush in Black and White
Needles: Size 9 circular
Started: August 30, 2007
Finished: October 20, 2007
Recipient: friend Ruth's future baby
Modifications: Chose to use washable cotton for said friend who is allergic to wool and acrylics. I also passed on the grass tufts in front of each sheep. The yarn is so nubby that you couldn't see the tufts so I decided to leave them out. I also varied the sheep slightly aside from the black sheep that was already part of the pattern. I made some a little longer, or chunkier, or gave them a white tail instead of black.
A close-up of my demented-looking sheep. These look just like the pattern in the book and I used the extact yarn called for except the background. I suppose the lack of detail do to the fuzziness of the yarn distorts my image of what I think they should look like. Nevertheless, after one meeeeeeeellion ends to weave in they are done.
You won't see any intarsia at Chez Knitballs for awhile. It was just one of those projects that I was excited to give but the process wasn't as fun as some other things I've knit in the past because I had a hard time getting over not enjoying the technique aspect. I can't help but anticipate my first fairy god-baby so I am reasonably excited to add to the gift pile of knitted and bought items.
This this end-weaving FO was brought to you for my need to take a break from plastic canvas santas for the SIL's craft show. *waves to Tammy*. I wasn't feeling well yesterday and this was about all I could muster up for productive. It was making me crazy that this was sitting here done for two weeks simple waiting on some woven in ends. I took some time yesterday to get this one off the plate. I feel like I've been doing a doggy paddle lately so at least I feel I've accomplished something.
Up next: Christening gown. Yes, I was asked to knit the christening gown for which I have fretted over for months. In my sick perfectionism, it has to be absolutely perfect down the last detail as I am really honored to be asked to do this. I took about 3 different patterns I found and I mixed my favorite details into one. I'm almost done with the skirt, but I won't be posting progress pics of that until it is gifted in December. Let's face it, I don't remember what friends lurk this here blog. The blanket above is no surprise. It was requested after my friend fell in love with the sample hanging in my LYS. Two years later and now finally expecting, she did not forget this blanket.
Ok then, back to my building my Santa army for the craft show.
By the way, since blogger was down yesterday I couldn't wish Mom and "the pants" a very Happy Birthday. So many many more. Mommers is 60 as of yesterday and you could never tell. I can only hope that she's passed those genes on to her only child! In all seriousness, I wish you both a lifetime of health, happiness and good tidings to come.
Slán go fóill!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

On a dark New Year's Night, on the west coast of Clare, a vision came o'er me.."

Photo courtesy of
Well I must report that I just got back tonight from the Loreena McKennitt show in at the Patriots Theatre in Trenton. This is my second time being blessed with seeing her live. My friend has always been able to somehow score the best seats and I really don't know how he does it. We were able to get 1st row at Radio City 10 years ago when I first introduced this die hard Jethro Tull fan to the outstanding musician and performer that is Loreena McKennitt and her talented band. I have been a huge fan spanning about 15 years now. Here I am, 10 years in making just waiting for her to tour the US again. This time I am on my home turf at the Patriot's Theatre (aka The War Memorial), smack in front of Loreena. In fact my neck is somewhat sore for looking up at her the whole time! She looked down and smiled at us several times as I must have looked like I was ready to burst.

I think most of you have figured out that Ireland is a place I hold very dear to my heart for alot of reasons and not simply heredity. Just sitting on an old stone wall Miltown Malbay can transport you to ancient times of the Celts. With Loreena, I find a lot of myself in listening to her speak about her travels, most recently to Turkey, and how cultural dynamics inspire her. This inspiration for her develops into a musical scrapbook of her journeys. Her music is heavily influenced by the history of the Celts, but as you know, the Celts were not restricted to just 7 Nations. As far away as Asia Minor, you have evidence of mummies with red hair wrapped in tartans and documentation of speaking a language based on the same principals as Gaelic. The history is fascinating the stories are reflected in the notes and lyrics.

Photo courtesy of

The sound of the harp, or a bodhran, a hurdy gurdy...just gives me chills. The cellist and fiddler are either strings of fire or slow and haunting. It's either the mysterious pagan Celts, a bittersweet love story, or resonance of ancient times past. Either way it moves your soul.

Photo courtesy of

Anyway she played the following- mostly in no particular order.
-She Moved Through the Fair
-Gates of Istanbul
-The Mummer's Dance
-Raglan Road
-The Highwayman
-Marco Polo
-Dante's Prayer
-The Old Ways (my personal favorite)
-Mystic's Dream
-Bonny Portmore
-The Lady of Shallot
-The Bonny Swans

1st Encore- Huron "Beltane's Fire" Dance (another favorite)

2nd Encore- Penelope's Song

I'll tell you, the last couple of months have been rather rough for me. Lots of changes at work have made an impact on my mood. Overall I just felt like I've been working and not living. Tonight's performance made me reach in and drag out my soul that has been buried under mounds of printer paper, emails, and undue stress. I feel ALIVE again. The power of music is a wondrous thing. How grateful I am that music can speak to my soul, lift my spirits, open my mind, and animate my senses.
She is still playing dates in Pennsylvania for another week or so. The show was, as always, was phenomenal. I highly recommend it if any of you have the ability to go and see them perform in your area!

I don't think I can possibly sleep tonight. I mean look at me. I can't even write a coherent post. I'm in suspended animation.

Well with that, have a lovely weekend at Rhinebeck everyone! I am staying back to celebrate Mom and "the Pant's" birthday on Saturday. I may drive up on Sunday.
Thank you Loreena from the bottom of my heart for sharing your talent, spirit, and vision with us again 10 years later. I am simply elated to be in Celtic suspended animation once again.
Blessed Be.

Slán go fóill!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Of FOs, WIPs, dogs and baby showers

Well I must admit I am guilty of not posting anything on this one. For good reason too. It's a present for my friend Wendy. She lives in hot sticky FL so I think this is the perfect knit to chase the chill on those rare cold nights during the winter (snort snort snort what 60 degrees is winter for you folks? snort snort). Ahem sorry about that.

Anyhoo, I present the one skein wonder that Wenders will receive this weekend.

Pattern:One Skein Wonder
Source: Glampyre Knits
Yarn: 1 skein of Catalina Baby Alpaca Worsted in Black
Needles: Size 6 and 4 circulars
Started: August 10, 2007
Finished: August 13, 2007

Wendy is way smaller than me and therefore, the lack of modeling here. And now onto the demented sheepies. Since this picture was taken, I am probably about 75% done with a goal of finishing this thing once and for all. Why do you ask am I in such a rush? Ok let me give you my top 5 reasons.
Sharon's Top 5 reasons to make sheepie go away:

1. I despise Intarsia. This baby can't be finished fast enough.

2. I have a meeeellion fuzzy ends to weave in.

3. I found out the baby shower is Dec 8th in Des Moines. I still have holiday knitting to do. *gasp*

4. My sheep look demented.

5. I have a freakin' christening gown to finish by Dec 8th people. *fans self*
Well before she found out she was pregnant, my friend visited my LYS when she was in town from Iowa. She fell in love with the sample hanging above the stairwell and has been talking about it ever since. How could I not make this for her first born? Her little one has been a long long time coming.
Although have I told you I hate intarsia? I love argyle, but mark my words, you will likely never see me do intarsia again. This is a strong statement coming from someone who loves all things textiles and especially involving yarn. It goes to show you I'm willing to do something I absolutely hate for the joy it brings to someone else and my future fairy god-baby. I'll be happy with it when it's done I'm sure. Right now the sheep are making me nuts. We are moving along on the Tilted Duster as well when I have moments to work on it. I am more consumed with helping out my dear SIL with prepping for her craft show and working on baby items for the pending arrival of my friend's baby boy.
A view of the side increases.
On another note, I received a knitterly present from my co-worker and fellow yarn enabler, Kelley. Aren't these adorable? Sorry for the blurry picture. This are little bottle cap magnets that she purchased at her LYS in Nashville. Thanks Kelley! You rock! It was a really nice pick-me-up after the work week we both had, or lack there of for her since she's been laid up with the flu something awful.
With the camera out, my hot dog, Anners Bananers (aka Annie) was not feeling photogenic today, however, I present to you my lazy, sleepy, lump of a animal, Cartman. He was limping off and on since I came back from vacation. The vet said it could be that he's sleeping on it wrong but we are watching for signs of ACL or arthritis. If you slept twisted like this, you would be limping too, no?
He looks like a giant, snoring cashew.
He's a dork. But I love him. How could you not love a sleepy face like this? *heavy sigh* My little baby boy is getting older. He turned 6 this year. That's getting up there for an English bulldog. Anners, however, is 12 and in surprisingly good health. Lazy as all hell, but in good health.
I leave you with the "pants" and the kids. This was taken at the NJ Weiner Weiner Roast held for all doxie and doxie/non-doxie siblings of babies adopted through Daschund Rescue of North America. Annie adopted us following being rescued in a raid of a puppy mill in St. Louis. I don't know that she will ever be affectionate with me as she is with Roland (don't think she likes females), but I know I've given her a comfortable life for her older years compared to her younger years full of abuse, neglect, and starvation. She is now a happy, plump little dog who loves her daddy and her heated cat bed for her cold little bones.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Say hello to my leetle friend

I've always thought of myself as a resourceful kind of girl. I was the son my father never had as an only child, and a daughter at the same time. I can use power tools, I can build things if I had to, and I can get around the Home Depot. Hell, I can drywall. I love arts and crafts too as evidence why this blog even exists.

But you know what? I could not bring myself to make one of those light boxes that everyone's been crafting in blogland. It looks like a quick, cost-effective solution, but the bottom line is I have space issues and general laziness these days. I live in NJ, in a small colonial house with too much yarn, two dogs, the "pants", fishing equipment, and limited space. I would hate to break that box down with the muslin everytime I needed my space back.

So for $20 someone is being resourceful for me. Say hello to my new leetle friend...
Mr. Lightbright. I know. I should be ashamed of myself. He was an Ebay find and I caved. I was having a work-stressed weak moment.

But lookie!

Mr. Lightbright makes yarn look pretty. C'mon, what knitterly person doesn't love that?

Mr. Lightbright has many personalities to suit your mood.
Mr. Lighbright can fold himself away and gets out of your hair in his own little built-in carrying case. What a good man. In fact, you barely know he's even there. If I can just get him to clean out the dust bunny tumbleweed from under the bed that would be fabs.

Well I'm off to go iron the backdrops and play with the lamps as "the pants" pointed out I have shadows. I have no photography skills so this should be fun.

Friday, October 05, 2007

I've been tagged!

Rain, tagged me with the 8 Things About Me Meme.

Once tagged, you must link to the person who tagged you. Then post the rules before your list, and list 8 random things about yourself. At the end of the post, you must tag and link to 8 other people, visit their sites, and leave a comment letting them know they've been tagged.

8 things about me:

1. I was very shy in Catholic grammar school ( I know you're shocked aren't you?). I got picked on for having red hair (orphan Annie jokes) once by this kid and he sent me over the edge in 8th grade. I told him off up one side, down the other, and it felt good. I haven't shut up since. I went on to be captain of Freshman Cheerleading. Who knew?

2. I adore reading about the Celts and Shamanism. One of my fondest memories of Ireland was standing in the center of a stone circle in County Clare, Ireland with my friend, Wendy. It was just about 4 or so in the aftern,on on a sunny, breezy day. We stepped inside the circle and walked around stopping at the 4 directions and tying "ribbons fair" to the branches of the trees at each "corner" (An ancient custom). There was no wind inside the stone circle. Calm as can be. Fabulous energy. I highly recommend it.

3. My eyes well up every time I hear "Singin in the Rain" or "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". Gene Kelley and Judy Garland to this day, are still my favorite actors. I always had a mad crush on Gene Kelley.

4. If there is dark chocolate in the room....blink...there isn't anymore :-)

5. I *geek heart* Alton Brown of Good Eats and Feasting on Asphalt with unabashed passion. He appeals to my corny scientific side only with food. This is why I am a Food Network junkie. Otherwise, I don't watch TV unless Family Guy is on. This is my other vice. These are only two instances that "the Pants" and I will watch the same thing and like it.

6. I hate being kissed on my nose. I completely flip out. I have no idea why. There is usually some arm flailing and frantic wiping of the top of my nose. "The Pants" does this on occasion to torture me, but see the thing day I'm going to be caught off-guard and someone will get hurt. Consider yourself warned.

7. I love a good stuck-in-the-house snowstorm. It's so quiet you can hear a pin drop outside. Give me a blanket, a homemade bowl of soup, some knitting and I call it a good day.

8. I'm really into linguistics and especially languages not most typical to learn in school such as Gaelic, Hindi, and Punjabi. It's like some sick challenge of mine. I know. I'm a geek.

I am going to be terrible with the whole tag and comments thing because I think many of you may have already done this one. I'll pick of few anyway just in case...

I tag: Ms. Zarzuela, Ms. Yarn Crawl, Ms. Kelley-Green Rogue, Ms. Eleven Stitches and whomever would like to join in. If you've already been tagged on this one no worries. If you are reading this post, consider yourself TAGGED. :-)

Happy weekend everyone. I would love to read more about all of you.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Thank you!

Aw shucks... *kicks rocks* you guys are the best! Thank you all so much for your comments on the Drops Swing Jacket. You sure know how to make a girl's day!

Thanks again.