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I’m out of the house! With an internet connection! Wahooooooo!

Sorry. I love my house, but I’m so very happy to be somewhere else than there right now. Because I didn’t have a choice but to be there for the past two days. I was going a bit mental.

Okay, so that’s kind of a lie. Like in most of the Midwest, it snowed here on Tuesday. About…5 inches? I don’t know. But I decided to stay home and work that day. I live about 12 miles outside of town, between two state forests. It does get a bit icky on our rural gravel roads sometimes, and my car doesn’t have all-wheel drive. (The blub’s does.) Besides, I had a bunch of computer work to do, and it was supposed to sleet in the afternoon. That meant I might have problems getting home. So I stayed put. Made some tea. Put my feet up.

It was cozy, that first day. I did get a couple pretty good shots of Izzy (for you, Huan-Hua).

IzzersMore Izzers

He looks all sweet an innocent in that picture. Do not be fooled. That was right after this.

I also saw a furry creature that was quite unexpected. While sitting on the couch a bit earlier, I happened to look up just in time to see a big fluffy tail disappear into the woods in the front yard. I didn’t get a very good look–it was either a fox or a coyote. Seeing a coyote during the day would have been really weird–they’re nocturnal. In fact, I’ve only ever seen one in the five years I’ve lived out there. But I’ve never seen a fox by our house either. So I was perplexed.

But after another 20 minutes or so, I had my answer. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a bright orange thing jump down into the creek that runs under our front porch. I sprinted for my camera. And this is what I got.

this is how far away I was

Sorry for the total crap shot. That was from inside the house, obviously. I blew it up, but it’s a bit out of focus (he was moving pretty darn fast).

running foxy

I managed to get one other shot, equally as crappy.


That’s the enlarged shot. Here’s the original.

Then I opened the front door reallllllllllllly slowly, but the fox heard me. And man! All I saw was an orange streak, up and over the ridge. Gone. Pretty cool though, huh?

The rest of the day passed uneventfully. I shoveled the porch, which didn’t take me too long. I finished my work. I knitted a bit. And I went to bed, actually looking forward to going to work the next day.


I got woken up at 5:30 the next morning by the ringing of the telephone. It was the front of the house manager at the restaurant where the blub works. Was Nels coming to pick her up? Well, how the bloody hell should I know? Would I call him and ask him? Listen lady, I was *&$@^ asleep before you called, even though you have been told NOT TO CALL THE HOUSE LOOKING FOR HIM. Here’s his damn cell number. YOU call him. Oh, okay, she says. And I hang up. ARRRUGH!

And of course I can’t fall asleep again. So when the phone rang a second time, thirty minutes later, I wasn’t too pissed. It was the blub.

“Uh, sweetie? Stay home today.”

“What? Why? I don’t have anymore work to do. I have to go in.”

“No. Stay home.”

He then told me that it took him 50 minutes to make the 20 minute drive into town. And he said he didn’t want to drive in those conditions again. Ever. And this guy is a professional driver–he used to drive semis for a living. He also told me that they weren’t opening the restaurant today, but he wasn’t coming home. He was essentially stuck in town.

I hung up the phone. Lay there for about 5 minutes. Then I got up. I drank tea and listened to NPR until the sun came up. And then I realized how much snow we actually had. I would like to point out that the local news guy on the radio said total accumulation was, and I quote, “Anywhere from four to seven inches.”

this much snow

My ass.

Apparently, it was so bad out there that Indiana University actually canceled classes. The last time they did this? 1978. So I was stuck. At home. For the second day in a row.

I didn’t even try to work. I had finished about all I could do without a high-speed internet connection anyway. (I have dial-up.) The worst thing was that I kept picking up on my neighbor’s wireless signal, which surprised me since he’s a fair bit down the road. But I couldn’t get in because it’s password protected. Bastard.

I started a new sock.

cheery yellow sock

They’re called the Lakehouse socks. And yes, I’m actually knitting something yellow. (It kind of looked like hell had frozen over anyway.) No, I’m not finished with the Sweater of Doom yet. I couldn’t take it anymore! I’m at the point where I keep thinking I need to knit only one more inch. Then I try it on again. And it needs another inch! So I gave up on it for the day. But here’s how far I am.

the never ending sweaterrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Please forgive crap picture. It was dark outside.

I also did a bit of swatching.


Heh heh heh. Anyone care to guess what that’s for?

After a bit, I put on my coat and went outside. I shoveled the porch again, which took a lot longer than the day before.

really snowy

Compare with foxy picture above. That’s a lot of snow.

I took a bit of a walk. I found the trail that Izzy had made earlier that morning.

trial of the Izzers

He had come in completely coated in snow, which he proceeded to shake off all over the front room. But I could hardly get pissed. He does love to play in the snow.

The road, which actually got plowed at about 10 am.

snowy woods

That red thing is my neighbor’s garbage can. How picturesque.

hummingbird feeder

Maybe it’s time to take the hummingbird feeders down for the winter?

Then I decided to shovel the walk beside the garage. I got as far as the driveway, then stopped. I stood there a bit, gazing at the 14 inches of snow covering the expanse of gravel. Because I had just realized that if I didn’t remove all that snow, I wasn’t going anywhere the next day.


So I got started. I dug and dug for about an hour. Then gave up and went inside. Has some more tea. Gazed longingly at the toe of my new sock. Then put my coat on and went back out.

Fortunately, the blub came home when I was about half done. And he helped me finish. Also fortunately, he showed up before I got to that bit where the plow and pushed the snow to the side of the road. Because it was about up to my waist. And partially ice.

Then we (yay!) went inside. Within moments of cracking a beer, Nels was out.

the blub is wiped

The poor blub had spent most of his morning shoveling snow from the sidewalk/parking lot/road outside the restaurant. Then he came home and helped me shovel some more. Plus two hair-raising road trips. He was a bit tired. We had pancakes for dinner and went to bed at 8:30.

snow on snow

Today, I hurt. And the roads are still a mess. Parking this morning was a joke. (Only the bottom half of each parking spot was plowed. Um.) But I’m at work, so I guess I better get to it. Because it’s supposed to snow again tonight, and tomorrow I might be stuck at home again. With my knitting. And no work to do.

God forbid. :)

Since I’m currently in sweater slogging hell, I thought I’d take this opportunity to give a blog tour of my lovely and cozy abode. But I guess it’s going to be a limited tour, since my camera batteries died before I could take pictures of the whole house. So it’s a er…limited tour. Yes, only select places. I also didn’t actually take any pictures of the sweaters in question, so I will distract you with cute animals.

This is Oscar.


Like all of our kitties, Oscar is a foundling. He’s kind of the blub’s cat, since the blub brought him home. He was driving home one day, on the winding rural roads that lead to our house, when he saw a tiny orange kitten at the side of the road. So he pulled over and threw open the truck door. According to the blub, “He just jumped right in and started purring! I couldn’t just leave him there!”

When Nels got home that day, he came inside and sat next to me on the couch, his eyes Bambi-huge.

“I have a friend I want you to meet,” he said.

“Oh yeah?” I said. (We already had two cats at this point and I wasn’t particularly keen on getting any more.)

“He’s very nice,” Nels said.

I sighed and followed him outside. Inside the pickup was a scrawny dirty kitten, laying on the heating vent and purring like a motorboat in high gear.

The blub’s eyes got even bigger, which I didn’t think was physically possible. Then he said, “Can we keep him? Please?”

How could I say no?

I think Oscar was either abandoned by his mother, or dumped. The latter is sadly common around here–I live between two state parks, and it’s pretty rural and wooded. A lot of people see this as a perfect dumping ground for unwanted animals. Poor things. But Oscar was never weaned. He had a habit of sucking on our fingers when he was a kitten. Even now, he is very fond of licking us. Especially our hands.

licky cat

We don’t really know how old he is, but I think he’s around six. (We’ve had him for about five years, I think.) And he’s gone from scrawny kitten to big fatty. He’s on diet food, but still has a tummy that would make Buddah proud. I don’t mind so much. I feel he’s making up for his undernourished and sad kitten-hood. He’s a very nice kitty, although he’s a bit agressive with foreign cats. He is constantly trying to fight our neighbor’s Big Mean Cat, who’s about three times as big as Oscar. Dummy. But that’s why he’s missing a piece of his ear, as you can kinda see in that first picture. He always purrs when I bandaging him up, though. Weirdo.

Okay, I didn’t mean for this to be the Oscar show. Moving on.

Here’s Kelpie. She’s my kitty.

the kelpers

Nobody puts Baby in a corner

And she has a bit of a cranky disposition. She’s ten. I got her from my landlady when I first moved to Bloomington. They had named her Baby. I quickly changed that to what I thought was a cute name. It turns out a kelpie is a Scottish water fairy, like I first thought. However, it’s actually an evil fairy that takes the shape of a horse and gets unwitting mortals to ride it. Then it runs straight for the nearest river, jumps in, and pulls the rider down to their death. Cute, huh? The blub says this fits. But I think he’s just mad because Kelpie only started letting him pet her last year. What can I say? She’s discerning.

We have a third cat Izzy, but I couldn’t find him before my batteries died. That’s sad, because he is The World’s Best Kitty. He’s cuddly and friendly and cute, and thinks he’s a dog. (He likes to be thumped instead of petted. He also plays fetch and comes when he’s called.) He was my little brother’s cat, but I took him in when Erik moved in with someone allergic to cats. So Izzy went on an airplane from Denver to Chicago. My mom was the one who took him on the plane, and said he only gave a little mew when they pushed back, and another small peep when they took off. And he loves the car. He’s a big sweetie.

Izzy also taught himself how to climb the ladder up to the loft. It’s where we have our bedroom. Izzy likes the bed.

top of the ladder

Seeing him do this makes people say things like “Holy shit!” and other four letter words. It’s pretty amazing. Oscar can do it too. Kelpie’s the only one that can’t.

The blubster and I live in an A-frame, that was built around 1940. It was a hunting cabin for a long time, then some other people bought it and turned it into a house. They put a two-room addition on the back. When the blub bought it (which he did before we were married, or even dating) he gutted the whole thing, and redid most of it himself. (He had help with the wiring, and ripping out part of the ceiling to make the big front room.) The whole place is about 850 square feet. With no closets. And the walls in the front are tilted. This makes decorating difficult.

the tilt of the wall

But see those things on the wall there? I just got those. I’m so excited–they’re stickers with not very sticky adhesive, so they won’t harm the paint. (Not that it matters too much, can you see all the spackle there? Sheesh.) I got them from Photojojo and I heart them.

I can has pictures!

The blub doesn’t like them much, but he can go hang. I’m very excited.

The other side of the A-frame wall has a climbing wall on it.

the wall

The blub put it up. We have a big mat that drops down, so we don’t hurt ourselves when we fall. No, we just hurt ourselves on the wall itself. Since it’s overhanging, it’s pretty hard. I was on there Saturday night and my shoulders are still killing me.

Um, what else? Oh yeah, our house is also wood heated. Sometimes, like when there’s a power outage and everyone is cold but us, this rocks. Other times, like when you’ve been gone all day and all the fire is burned down and it’s freaking freezing in the house, this sucks. It also kind of sucks when it’s really cold outside, because you can’t just turn up the heat. It also also sucks that the house is so dusty all the time from all that wood ash, no matter how often I vacuum. Oh, but it also rocks that we usually pay only about $400 per year to heat our house.

It’s also nice to have a tea warmer.

how I keep my tea warm

No cozies needed! That blue kettle is our humidifier-we keep water in it. Until it turns to steam. Then we put more water in it. Wow! Interesting!

I also made cookies yesterday.

oatmeal raisin clumps

They were supposed to be oatmeal raisin cookies, but they turned out more like oatmeal raisin clumps. They didn’t actually flatten out any when they cooked. I also played around with the ingredients a bit. I’m reading On Food and Cooking right now, particularly the chapter about sugars. It’s really interesting, I highly recommend it. Anyway, I swapped honey for the white sugar and also added some nutmeg and played with the baking powder/baking soda ratio. I guess a bit too much, since they are so poofy. I just think they’re okay, but the blub hearts them. Which is weird because he usually doesn’t like sweets.

Then I found Izzy, but my batteries died. So that’s all you get. Fascinating, no? Maybe next time I’ll actually have pictures of a finished sweater. Pray for me.

Have a nice Monday.

Or is it, when you have a cold, knit feverishly?

Yes, I think that’s it.


Marlene (Rav it! Love it!)
Pattern: Marlene by Cookie A. from knit 1 fall/winter 2008
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan sock, pacific, one skein with oodles left over
Needle: US 2, 2.75 mm
Started: December 30, 2008
Finished: January 10, 2009
For: my precious tootsies
Mods: not a single one

So I had a cold last weekend. Not wanting to do much, I grabbed my knitting and hunkered down on the couch.

And then, I didn’t get up again.

Marlenes flat

Until I had some socks.

Oh, and what socks they were! Perfect in every way! The yarn! The pattern! The finished product! They make me want to…to…

She’s going to tell! (She’s going to tell)
She’s going to tell! (She’s going to tell)
She’s going to tell! (She’s going to tell)

…all right, all right. No singing. But poetry!

Oh Marlene, Marlene.
You are my queen.
Your shade of perfect blue-y green
Sets off your twisted rib so keen
My love for you sits in my spleen
I want to knit you again and ageen
Oh Marlene
My sweet Marlene

Wow, BAD poetry. Never mind, look at the socks.

Marlenes flexy toe

So the start and finish dates up there are a bit misleading. I did technically start these on December 30. But that was beginning these on a 1, getting through the ribbing, thinking maybe it seemed a bit stiff, swatching with 2s, then ripping it out and starting over. Then I knit the ribbing and part of the first pattern repeat, and put them down again.

Then I picked them up and finished both socks in five days. I’m telling you. Love.

Marlenes whee swing

They’re a typical Cookie A. pattern, with all of the twisted ribbing. Which I heart. She even made it go all the way to the toes.

Marlene toe

And down the heel flap.

Marlenes heel kind of

(That’s the best picture I could get, sorry. El blubbo wasn’t home-o.)

And the yarn is FABULOUS. It’s a lot like Lorna’s, but with a tighter twist. So hopefully it’ll wear better than Lorna’s, which gets pilly way too fast in my opinion. But the Hazel knits is so so soft, and has beautiful crisp stitch definition. I wish I had gotten more. So I guess I’ll just have to come back out there, right Carrie? Say yes. Because LOOK at this.

Marlenes zee arty shot

Yes. Yes. A thousand times, yes.

I followed the pattern exactly with these, and they are most wonderful. (Although there is an error–it says to knit the toe plain, but the picture clearly has the ribbed toe. And the errata says, and I quote “‘Shape the toe’ can be worked continuation of the ribbing as shown or in St st as written.” Gee, thanks.)

I mean seriously, there is nothing I don’t love about these socks. Look how perfect they are with my mary janes!

Marlenes in shoes

(Ignore gross floor–that’s in the lab. No ten second rule around here.)

See how perfectly the last repeat lines up with the toe of my shoe? A match made in heaven. These socks were a hugemongous fabulous win in my book. Go knit them. Now. That is an order.

So that whirlwind romance with Marlene made me do a crazy thing–pull my Monkeys back out of hibernation. (Holy crap that was a long time ago.) Will the love last? Too soon to tell…

Have you ever knit something just for the sheer ludicrousness of it?

Eeek! A cowl!

No, me neither.

The Cowl That Ate Cincinnati (Rav me!)
Pattern: Marian, by Jane Richmond
Yarnskis: Ewenique Icelandic Sheep farm Lopi, 140 yds
Needle: US 15
Started: December 18, 2008
Finished knitting: the next day
Finished drying: about a week and a half later. (No ha ha, I’m just joking! It was only a week.)
For: me

I got this yarn at the annual Holiday Farmers’ Market that they hold down here in Whoville. Tuba Santas tooting merrily in the background, I fell upon a booth with locally raised, handspun wool.

bulky handspun 2


It’s a single ply bulky, just a bit thick and thin. (But then, it’s handspun.) And it’s soft. So so very soft. It also has this beautiful sheen to it, not really captured by my arty and well-lit pictures taken on my desk at work. AND it was only $11. Crap, why didn’t I buy more of this?

I carried it around with me for a few days, squeezing and loving it, and searching for just the right pattern. I wanted a new hat. I do have many, many hats, but I was thinking of knitting another cold-weather one. Can never have too many of those.

Couldn’t find a pattern I liked. But I did see, via the “friend activity” button on Ravelry (LOVE. THAT. BUTTON.) somebody had favorited this cowl.

And then I had to knit it.

Big Huge Cowl 1

I mean, really. Could you have resisted?

Edge of Big Huge Cowl

It was pretty straightforward. Just a seed stitch cowl knit with huge yarn on jagnromous needles. And it did take longer to dry than it did to knit.

Twist in Big Huge Cowl

The only thing weird about the pattern is that it TELLS you to make a twist before joining. And since I’d always been curious about what exactly this did, I obliged. And you know what? It twists it. Weird. Although, it is weird that the description on Ravelry calls this a mobius cowl. Um, no. A mobius has a half twist. This has a full twist. But whatever, it’s still really fun to wear pulled up over your head. Very Grace Kelley.

Pensive starlet pose. With outhouse.Oh, ha ha!I'm not really twelve. Really.

Or perhaps Grace Kelley with a splash of Groucho Marx?

I'm so pretty!

I wish it were just a bit longer, so it would totally cover the back of my neck when I wear it up like a hood. But I used every last inch of the yarn.

Whatever. I like it. In all of its goofily huge, city-eating glory.

One more knit of 2008 still left to show! Next time, dears.

Contact me

thechemgrrl AT gmail DOT com (you know what to do with the extras)
January 2009