on the needles

Tuesday, July 31, 2007


Insert really nasty swear word here.

The blasted counter top has been delayed yet again!! They HOPE to have it ready to go in on Thursday. All I can say is they had better come through! Everything is being held up by the counter top. AND to top it off, they aren't even coming to work at all today or tomorrow. Granted, there is not much they could do but as long as there is anything they could get done then I think they should be here working. After all the delay is their fault and not ours.

Ok - done with the mini rant. You know I'm upset when I use caps, bold and italics in one paragraph. :)

The good news is that we heard from the vet and Libby came through her surgery just fine. What a relief. There is always some anxiety whenever a pet has to go under anesthesia. I'm just glad it all went well.

Chris - I'll get you that photo of the inside of the destroyed fridge. It's worth seeing to appreciate the massive destructive power of those giant dog jaws. My hubby hadn't ever been around a mastiff so he was very impressed. Needless to say we ordered her a giant kennel that she can be in whenever Libby is at home unsupervised. It's no good just putting her in an empty room or something - a bored mastiff can quickly and easily eat the walls. I've seen it happen! Maybe we should have gotten Libby sooner and set her to work on the kitchen demo. (LOL)

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Monday, July 30, 2007

Did I Mention We're Nuts?

What's totally the best thing to do in the middle of a massive kitchen renovation?

I know, get a new dog!

How about a really, REALLY big dog?

Meet Libby, our new family member.

Libby is an English Mastiff. She is a 4 1/2 year old retired breeder from Lionsire Kennels. The kennel owner was downsizing I think, and needed homes for some of her older females. That's how we got Libby. She was 194 pounds when we got her but she has lost 13 pounds already now that she has something more fun to do than sit around all the time. We're trying to get her to lose another 10 pounds and then she will be perfect. Too much weight is really hard on her joints and we want her to be healthy!

Libby is the true epitome of a gentle giant. She is probably the sweetest dog you could ever meet. The kids loved her right away and she loves them too. She makes an extra effort to be slow and gentle around them.

Before we got her Libby had never lived in a house before. But apparently she understands the whole house training thing because she has never had one "accident" (Thank God! Can you imagine...?) She did need to learn some house manners though. Here is some of her handiwork:

That's several cans of coke, a carton of juice boxes, a twelve pack of blueberry pop tarts (she turned her nose up at the chocolate chip ones, preferring to just smash them up rather than eat them), a package of blueberries and some canadian bacon to top it off. Oh, and she ate the inside of the fridge too.

Libby is totally a Daddy's girl. He fell head over heels in love with her the minute they met. Here's proof. He reacted to the above mess/scene of destruction as if it were cute. "Awww, look what she did." I guarantee you if Luca or Henry were responsible for that his reaction would have been somewhat different. :)

The IG's took to her quickly. In fact, Luca quite likes her. He often licks her face and ears. I even saw Henry licking her face the other day - which is saying something since Henry is a total neurotic and everything freaks him out. I daresay come winter time they will both be found perched on top of her fast asleep. She's a perfect natural heat source for them. :)

Today Libby went to the vet to be spayed and also to have an operation on her tail. She has a condition called "happy tail" which happens in large, strong breeds of dogs. Basically, they wag, wag, wag so much that they finally bust open the end of their tail from hitting it against things so much. Once that happens it pretty much never heals up. So Libby is getting what amounts to having her tail docked. I feel so sorry for her - poor thing. It's pretty major to have surgery on a dog that is so big so please wish her luck and a speedy recovery so that she can get back to doing what she does best.

Snoring on the rug!


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Off on an Adventure

Crap, crap, crapity, crap!

I finished the back and front of Bizet only to discover that my gauge was way off. I was two stitches short and two rows short. Somehow, despite the fact that I know I did a gauge swatch before starting this thing - I ended up with a sweater that would have been 50" around and about 5" too short.

Did I mention CRAP!

I don't think I can change my needle size to deal with the problem. I think that would make the resulting fabric too open. So I think I am just going to "unvent" the whole darn thing using the gauge I did get as my guide. Since I know how much off the pattern I was and I know what result I want to get, I THINK I can do the math and use the pattern more as a guide rather than following it strictly.

I may be crazy but I think it will work. I ripped out the whole darn thing and cast right back on before I could wake up tomorrow doubting myself.

So - I'm off on a big knitting adventure, hoping that my experience knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman style will make it all work out in the end. Wish me luck!!


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Jasper Fforde

I sent my Hubbs on a very important mission the other day. Jasper Fforde was in town for a book signing for his latest Thursday Next book "First Among Sequels"! If you've been reading my blog for awhile you know I'm a fan (not an official stalker fan but still a fan) & you might remember that Hubbs got me some copies of Jasper's books signed as a present one year. But on the actual day in question I was tired, hot and grumpy, and wasn't really in the mood to go - plus someone had to stay with the kids right? So Hubbs was elected/forced to go in my stead. :)

I suggested that Hubbs take along one of the awesome pens he's been making for a gift for Jasper. Author + book signing = must like a cool pen, right? I have a habit of claiming the coolest pens and keeping them for myself hot off the lathe. The night before I had swiped an awesome acrylic pen - my mostest favoritest pen that Hubbs has made ever. But when I got the idea that we must give Jasper Fforde a pen I knew he had to have that one. Matches the dust jacket art on the British editions of his Thursday Next books - sort of retro and psychedelic. Hubbs wrote a blog entry over at his blog (complete with photos) Beads and Coves, so I won't repeat the whole story here but a great time was had by all and of course Jasper Fforde turned out to be a really cool guy. My daughter reported that he had a funny accent, "but only when he was talking." (LOL)



Just a quick note...

I've joined the Bee Fields Shawl KAL. If you like lace & haven't seen this pattern yet then you must check it out. I'm really excited about knitting this one. I have a special love for Bees. They've been a sort of personal symbol of mine for a long time plus it's just the prettiest pattern I've seen in a long time.

I'm thinking about using Mini Maiden since I like Sea Silk so much. What do you think of knitting the shawl in ebony? I can't decide if that would be dramatic and elegant or witchy in a Stevie Nicks sort of way. (Not that a Stevie Nicks shawl would be all bad - I remember when I was little aspiring to look just like her someday...) :)


Friday, July 27, 2007


Nothing new happening around here, just more dust and noise, so I thought I'd share some pretty pictures.

I've already introduced our Angel Fish, now meet the Discus! They inhabit our other little underwater world.

The Discus don't really have "official" names like the Angels do, probably because they are newer and also less interactive than the Angels are. Discus are just a bit more sensitive all around, harder to keep in general than Angels are. It certainly took us longer to get their environment just right.

Anyhow, they don't really have names. They just get called silly things like "Mr. Blueberry" or "Mr. Mango". For some reason in our imagination they are all boys and remind us of food. (LOL) But not fish and chips - more like candy or something like that. I think it is their round shape and wacky bright coloring.

The Discus tend to like to eat their food off the bottom. The cool thing is that they don't just swim down at an angle to get the food. Instead they rotate on the spot as if there is some sort of center point in the middle of their bodies. It's hard to describe but really neat to watch. They also change color quite a bit depending on their mood. Like a chameleon. The Angels can blush a bit or turn paler but the Discus can go from gorgeous full blown color to totally black - if they are really unhappy! Fortunately, they seem pretty happy in their tank.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Knitting Vows

I've managed to get quite a bit of knitting done despite the chaos going on at the house.

I've got all the squares finished for both of the blankets I've been working on. I even managed to block most of them for my nephews blanket so I may actually get around to putting that together soon. I'm planning on crocheting the edging so that should go fast once I get there. :)

I've even picked up Bizet again & finished up the back & most of the front in only a few days. I've noticed that my knitting has gotten faster in general over the past year. That's good news since the stash has gotten completely out of control. I actually haven't bought any yarn myself for quite awhile but shopping with my mom adds plenty to the stash by itself!

I've also decided that I've got to start knitting some things FOR MYSELF. 99% of my knitting is for others. In fact, I've never finished a major project for myself! It's a real shame since I have scads of really great yarn that I've picked out for projects for myself just lying around and wishing to be knit. But I always put knitting for others ahead of knitting for myself.

Well, no more! Last year I turned over a new leaf in order to control my startitis and avoid the dreaded UFO's. I vowed to maintain a reasonable level of project monogamy & I've done a pretty good job. Amazing how fast things get finished if you actually stick to it! Pretty much everything I have in my UFO pile is from my pre-monogamy days.

So my new vow is to finish up something for myself every time I finish up something for someone else. I think this will be hard for me to stick to but I'm going to really try! I'm going to start with finishing off some things in the UFO pile; Myrtle, my Rowan jacket, Bizet...most of those are this close to being done anyway and it will give me a lot of satisfaction to get them finished and off my guilty conscience. :) Plus they should be rather quick to knock off, thus enabling me to both stick to my new resolution of finishing things for myself, while at the same time foraging ahead with all the Christmas gift knitting I have planned.

After all, my sister is having a baby (didn't tell you that yet did I?) and she will find out on Friday what the gender is. There's no way I can resist the temptation of knitting for a baby!

The Inevitable


Well - we've hit that seemingly inevitable point during any major home overhaul, the point at which STUFF GOES WRONG.

First the good:

Our beautiful upper cabinets are hung.

Having the upper cabinets up has really thrown the room back into proportion. It was looking a bit off to me without them. Now I see how it will eventually all come together and I'm loving it!

However -

The peninsula cabinet was not delivered on time. That meant that the date for the counter top templating was missed and pushed back two weeks. Now we won't have our counter top installed until a week from now. Which means that - no back splash tiles can be put up until after then, no cook top can be installed until after then, no hood for the cook top can be installed until after then...well, you get the idea.

The photos of the upper cabinets were actually taken last week. Not much has been done since then. It's really frustrating to have a week and a half of essentially nothing going on. We REALLY REALLY need the kitchen back.

Also in bad news - one of the upper cabinets was the wrong size so it has to be remade (who knows when we will get that) and the hutch was also made wrong. So two rather major pieces which could take many weeks to get installed. Arrgh! The kitchen remodel has already sucked away our entire summer. And I'll be damned if I let this thing drag on into the next school year!

The only really good news is that they have turned the fridge on. I'm SLIGHTLY mollified by that circumstance. I have to admit it looks really cool with the fridge light softly glowing. I always hear a little chorus of angels (aaaahhhhhh!) in my head when I open the fridge door. :)

But there is still SO much to be done. The finish date has been pushed back from the 3rd of August to the 10th. I SERIOUSLY doubt they will be done then. There are just too many things, MAJOR things, that can't even begin to happen until the beginning of August.

So - that's where were at around here. And like I said - I guess it's just inevitable. But that doesn't mean I have to like it! Grr. :(


Friday, July 20, 2007


It's filling out school papers time. Is it just us or does everyone get a massive (and I'm not exaggerating) stack of papers to fill out every year for their kids school? I get at least 20 - 25 forms per kid. Same at camp time.

Well, all I have to say is if the forms people insist on me "writing clearly" then they had better give me more than a millimeter of space to write in. Seriously! By the end of of the stack, my hand is majorly cramped up from trying to write in teeny tiny Bronte juvenilia script. Knitting never locks up my fingers like that. Yikes!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Lest you think there has been no knitting...

Yes, it's true, the kitchen remodel has totally taken over my brain. But I have kept right on knitting. I've got two blankets going with great big mindless mitered squares. (Amazing how you can mess up mindless knitting when you are tired through!) I will get photos asap.

The kids have been shuttling back and forth between home, camp and Grandma's. So there has been plenty of driving back and forth - we have to go to my mom's everyday to cook too. And the house is a dusty wreck. I am actually dying to clean it! Although when I finally can it's going to be such a huge job that I am dreading it too.

But my mom is in town and you know what that means! Yarn store raid!!! About twice a year we hit the store and shop like crazy. It helps that my mom brings along her credit card. :) Strangely hubby doesn't complain about all the yarn when he knows I'm not paying for it!

Here's a quick run down of the damage.

We hit the usual LYS and I came home with:

1. Iro Shade 57 (not a great photo of the yarn - my skeins are much richer) to make this:

"Fauna" a coat pattern from Berroco's Foliage Collection. (What is up with Berroco lately? Their past few pattern books were actually really good!) I was hoping to run this one up using my Mom's knitting machine. That thing is perfect for long swathes of stockinette like this. But we did some experiments & concluded that the yarn is too bulky for the machine so...I guess I will be hand knitting the yards and yards of stockinette. Oh well. I think yarn is so fab I won't mind. Definitely can't tackle this until the dead of winter though. Not exactly a summer weather knit.

2. Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk Aran in Smoke Blue

to make:

Wrap Jacket from the Sublime Aran Handknit Book. This one I am going to try to knit up on the machine. Sublime is a new line as far as I can tell and they have some great patterns. The yarn is very soft but still has some body to it.

3. Colinette has a new cotton yarn out called Banyan. I'm not a big fan of cotton but I like the feel of this enough to get some.

This is shade 90 and it's called Venezia.

To make this:

Cute top & should be a quick knit. It's called Ceylon and is from the Colinette Banyan Booklet.

I also ordered some DiVe Autunno in Aurora Borealis:

If you haven't felt this yarn yet you simply have to. It is SO soft and every single colorway is fabulous. I had a hard time choosing. I'm going to use the yarn to make this jacket:

It's called Joplin and is from Berroco again. Not the greatest picture of the pattern but you get the idea. I can probably also run this one up on the machine. Anything mainly stockinette comes out looking pretty good.

Can you tell I have a slight obsession with coats/jackets/wraps? :)

My mom got two sweaters worth of yarn for herself plus a couple of projects for the grand kids. We were both in a yarn induced haze by the end. I guess when you only go to the yarn store twice a year it's pretty exciting! I get a lot of virtual yarn happiness looking at stuff online & reading blogs but it is really nice to have a "feel and drool" day (as my mom calls it).

Wouldn't you know it though - one of the girls that works at the LYS mentioned a new store that was in our area that carried totally different stuff.....I guess you can see where that led. But that's a story for another day. :)


Well the appliances are in place. I'm not sure if they are all hooked up yet but it is nice to see how they will look.

The oven:

The cook top is above it. I'll have to show you that when it gets installed. It's an in-counter models so it won't be all set until the counter top is done.

The dishwasher (the sink goes in to the left):

The beast of a fridge - hereafter to be known as "my precious": ;)

No hiding bodies Chris, we went with the glass door. :) The entire left side is all freezer & the right is the fridge.

Another look at the fridge. Man I can't wait 'til that sucker gets plugged in - I want cold food!!

I think I could stare at that thing all day. My husband loves it so much I think we may have to build a little temple around it so he can worship there daily. (LOL)

Last but not least, the upper cabinets, waiting patiently for their turn to be set. That's what they've been down there working on today.

What d'ya think? I think the rest of the house is going to look a bit shabby when this kitchen is done!


Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Today was pure chaos at Chez Needles, because today was appliance delivery day.

That's all I'm letting you see for now, but trust me, the appliances they are SWEET! Look at that fridge! What a beast! Somehow it is looking way bigger in my kitchen than it did at the appliance store. By the time we picked out the fridge I think I was in a daze from all of that stainless steel. All I heard was "48 inches" and knew I had to have it. ;)

Here's where the beast will be living.

All comfy and cozy in a built in wood surround. :)

Pretty much all of the bottom level cabinets have been set - except for the peninsula ones. No doors on yet. I hope the rest of the cabinet setting goes fast so maybe we can get the fridge hooked up.

Cold food storage would be nice. But I'm not holding out much hope since the electrical for the fridge isn't really finished yet. :(


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Tile with Grout

How's that for a catchy title? ;)

This is the tile with grout and sealer. You still can't see all the variations in color but at least the photo manages to capture some of the richness.

And right now they are down there installing cabinets. Yay!


Fess Up...

How many of you parents out there are seriously considering sending the kids to grandmas or at least hiring a babysitter to watch the kids so you can read Harry Potter 7 in peace on the day it comes out?

Anyone? ;)

Ok - just kidding. But now that I've thought of it, doesn't seem like a half bad idea. :)

PS - I will hex anyone who tells me any spoilers!!

PSS - Don't you think Hubby should turn some wands? I keep trying to convince him - so give me some help here! I mean, there are detailed descriptions of many of the wands in the books (pg. 82 of Sorcerers Stone if I remember correctly). :) So how hard could it be? Get turning buddy!


Two Famous Blondes

Hubbs hasn't emailed me the latest set of kitchen progress photos (we have grout! the tile is sealed! drywall sanded! cabinets delivered - TOMORROW!!!) - so for today, meet the last two Angel Fish.

Diana, with Rasputin in the background.

Diana is actually a golden Angel Fish (looks too light in the photo) and she is also a "veil tail" which means she has much longer fins than normal. She is also a "high fin". You can see why! She always carries her top fin high up like a Princess - hence her name. :)

This is Marilyn.

She is a "blusher" and also has a gorgeous veil tail. She trails her fins after her so gracefully when she swims. I always imagine a Hollywood Starlet in a convertible with a long gauzy white scarf. :) "Blusher" means that the skin over her gills is transparent so you can see the redness underneath & it makes her look like she is blushing.

I don't actually know if they are girls or not but since they are both "blonde" I decided to name them after the two most famous blondes I could think of - Princess Diana and Marilyn Monroe. I'm goofy like that. :)


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Houston, We Have a Floor!

Thank you guys for all the compliments on our granite counter top choice! We are very excited to see it in place. But for right now there has actually been some other significant progress made...

Our tile floor has been laid! Yay! This is a close up of the pattern.

Here's how it looks in the room. The tile is dusty and dirty so the true colors aren't showing up perfectly but you get the idea.

Still needs the grout too. That's Monday's job. We are going with a parchment color rather than a bright white. I think it will look much more natural.

It is SO strange to see a different tile on the floor and I was almost getting used to the ply-wood. But I think this is a vast improvement over that nasty old grey tile. What do you guys think?

Next we hope to see the cabinets starting by the end of next week. Wait 'til you see them! :) Baby steps!


Friday, July 06, 2007


Our countertop to be!

It's going to be stunning - if I do say so myself. :)

This second picture is much closer to capturing the richness of the mossy green color and the myriad of variations & other colors (pinkish, pumpkin, tans etc) - but still NOTHING close to the splendor of the original. Can you tell I'm in LOVE? I think it looks like what Gustav Klimt would have painted his women's clothing like if he was a tree hugging nature boy. Joy!

Sharp eyed readers will also notice the floor tile and the backsplash. ;) The floor tile is all in variations of shades of brown - subtle & rich like a good skein of hand dyed yarn. Unfortunately the back splash tile looks bland & yucky in this photo but trust me, it's gonna look great.


When last we saw the kitchen...

It was a pretty big mess. Now the majority of the drywall is finished. They still have some sanding left to do.

Not real exciting but at least starting to be semi human again.