Thursday, December 28, 2006

2006 Knitting Year in Review

At the one year anniversary of this blog (already?) and as the year 2006 draws to a close, I'd like to share my reflections.

In a year that brought wonderful gains and immeasurable loss, knitting has been a constant calming influence.

First of all, if it weren't for this blog, I wouldn't have met so many wonderful knitters and bloggers, and I know that I never would have accomplished so much in my knitting skills and projects. Some bloggers I've met in person, wonderful people all, and some I have yet to meet, and I look forward to that day as well.

When this year started, I had barely moved on from rectangular scarves and square baby blankets. Oh, how things have changed.

This year I learned how to knit hats. My first hat was for the Knitting Olympics. (*Olympic Rowan Aura Hat). That was such a fun way to feel like a community among some 4,000+ knitters. I know it was a pain for the Yarn Harlot to organize, but I had a blast. I went on to make a total of 11 hats this year. Here are the links to the others:
*Rowan Aura Hat for A.
*Sproutie's hat
*Natey's Noro Hat
*The Count's Noro Hat
*ZimDee's Noro Hat
*Mother's Noro Hat
*Natey's red wool hat
*Natey's black cotton hat
*The Count's If-You-Want-To Hat
*ZimDee's Fishie Hat

This is the year I also learned how to make socks. Thanks to Amanda's Mock Croc Sock knitalong, I was on my way. And addicted. I might as well state that right up front. There are so many beautiful sock yarns out there, my head starts spinning just thinking about it. Here are the socks I made this year:
*Mock Croc Socks
*International Socks of Doom for Sock Wars (for Mamie)
*Second Pair of Sock Wars International Socks of Doom for Mandy
*Third Pair of Sock Wars International Socks of Doom for Moa
*KnitPicks Lace Socks (teaser)
*Stephanie's Walking Away Socks

I knit three sweaters and one pair of leggings for my little baby, who is now 18 months old.
*Sproutie's Striped Sweater
*Sproutie's 1st Bday sweater
*Sproutie's leggings outfit

I knit a sweater for his sweet older sister.
*Girlfriend's Swing Coat Sweater

I knit two baby blankets, one of which you'll see here:
*Rosie's baby blanket

four scarves:
*Tim's Illusion Scarf
*Silk Daisy Stitch Scarf
*State Fair Daisy Silk Scarf

I knit 6 bags
*Kim's Picot bag
*Blue Picot Bag for Fairs
*Steph's Picot Bag
*Diane's Picot Bag
*Passport Pouch
*Angela's Chocolate Picot Bag

and a pair of clogs
*Poo-dee Clogs No More.

Unfinished objects started this year but waiting for me to pick them up again include a sweater for my sister, a cardigan sweater for myself, a pair of socks for my mother-in-law, and two pairs of socks for myself. I consider that fairly manageable.

I participated in several knitting swaps and enjoyed most of them. I met some great friends that way.

My knitting goals for the upcoming year are to finish the above mentioned unfinished objects and start a few more. I'd love to learn colorwork this year, intarsia and fair isle. I want to knit a lot more socks, a few sweaters, and a few scarves.

Another goal of mine is to get started on the road to becoming a Master Knitter through the Knitting Guild Association. I've received my paperwork in the Basics, Basics, Basics course (a pre-cursor to the actual program) and I will keep you posted on my progress here on my blog.

My favorite knitted project of 2006 is one I didn't even write about on my blog. I don't know why. Maybe it's because it seemed so effortless. I needed a scarf that matched my pink coat, and one morning I went out and bought the yarn and the needles to make it. I sat down that afternoon with a pot of tea and literally whipped it out, and wore it out to dinner that night. I love it because to me it's so striking that it catches my eye every time I pass by it, it served a specific purpose, and the buying and making of it was so pleasurable. (I know some of you thought I miscounted above when I said that I made 4 scarves and only listed 3. Thought you had me there, didn't you?)

The funny thing is, out of all the complicated stitch patterns and new techniques I've learned, and out of all the luxurious yarns I've run my fingers through this year (merino wool, 100% silk, cashmere and cashmere blends), my most favorite knitted object of this year is a simple garter stitch scarf knit with acrylic yarn and fun fur. I kind of like the irony of that. You can take the girl out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the girl. How appropriate. Here are some pictures of the scarf that won the distinction of favorite knitted object of 2006:
My wish for you all in the coming year, my dear friends, is peace and love and happiness, and just enough new yarns and patterns out there to always keep you wanting more.

All my love, Katrina

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

zimdee knits

Here are some pictures of the last of the Christmas knitting, finished last week.

The first is the hat the Count said I could knit for him, "if you want", modelled once again by the photogenic ZimDee:The hat was knit with Mission Falls 1824 Wool (100% Merino Wool) in color 16, Thyme, since green is the Count's favorite color. This is the first time I've worked with Mission Falls yarn, and it won't be my last, as long as they continue to manufacture it, that is. Isn't the stitch detail wonderful? And the Count really likes it. This hat will not go unloved.

Next I wanted to knit a hat for Zim, since he had so graciously modelled hats for everyone else. I started this one, and left it on the counter to go get the mail. When I returned, this is what I came upon: ZimDee said, "Yook, Mom, I knitting." I asked him what he was knitting, and he said a fish, which is his favorite kind of toy. He didn't even mess up any of the stitches. I'll make a knitter out of him yet.

Here is the finished product: And this time ZimDee gets to keep it!
His hat was knit with Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran (55% merino wool, 33% microfibre, 12% cashmere) in color 104, Pale Grey. ZimDee gets a lot of compliments on his hats at preschool. He can't wait to go back and show this one off.

Speaking of Debbie Bliss yarns: I don't buy into the hooey that a competitor claimed that her yarns lacked the fiber content listed on the label. I knit four hats in as many days with four different fiber contents. The first was with wool/cotton, the next was wool/mohair, the third was merino wool and the fourth was merino/microfibre/cashmere. Guess which was the softest and most luxurious? The Cashmerino by far. If they are fudging with the fiber content over there, they're doing a fabulous job of it. I for one will continue to use her yarns, as long as they continue to be soft and pretty and knit up as nice as they always have.

I just love how fast and easy hats are to knit. And ZimDee's hat was the project that marked the phenomenon for me of not having to look at the project while I was knitting it. I've heard many experienced knitters say that if they are doing straight stockinette that they can watch TV or a movie without looking down, and it was hard for me to believe. But it happened to me without even realizing it. I feel like I've graduated or something. Is there a diploma out there for knitters who don't have to watch their knitting? I'd like to put one on my wall.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas day, filled with joy and laughter. I spent the day squeezing some brown-eyed angels. And knitting. A peaceful day.

And this was the best present of all: my three babies playing together on Christmas morning. I came around the corner when I heard some giggling, and here is what I found.This is what Christmas memories are made of.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Merry Christmas, David

Merry Christmas, David.

MP3 File
I will always see you as laughing, your eyes twinkling with wonder and mischief.

I love you and I miss you.

For always, Your Sis, Katrina

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Knitted Christmas Gifts

I wasn't able to knit all the Christmas gifts that I wanted to this year, but I am proud of myself for what I did get done. These knitted gifts are now on their way to their beloved recipients in Chicago.

First is this pair of socks for my beautiful niece Stephanie. Pattern: Walking Away socks from Fiber Trends.
The lace that runs down the back of the sock is exquisite. I will definitely be using this pattern in the future for socks for myself and my loved ones.
Modifications: I did have to change the pattern somewhat at the end of the ribbing, or the top of the foot portion would have been too wide. I made some decreases and I was good to go. Since this is just my 6th pair of finished socks, I still chalk this up to inexperience.
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM #1308 (100% Merino Wool). This beautiful yarn has shades of pink, burgundy, and browns. Perfect for Stephanie. These are some of the prettiest pinks I've ever seen. I've heard talk of people saying that Koigu is overrated. Frankly, I don't know what they've been smoking. This yarn is a dream to work with. Soft, strong, doesn't split, and is the colors are exquisite. I love it.
Needles: Size 2 Knit Picks circulars using the Magic Loop Method. Knit Picks has the interchangeable Options needles, which I would highly recommend. But those start at size 4. The smaller sizes of 0-3 are sold fully assembled and are very reasonably priced. The cable is flexible without being too wimpy. Did I mention that the cable is purple? Fun. The join is smooth. No, I don't get a commission for talking about how much I like the needles. I'm just calling it like I see it.
On a side note: I know that sock blockers can be outrageously priced, but they are probably one of the best knitting investments I've ever made. They give the sock a great shape and add that extra finishing touch.
Overall: I'm very happy with these socks and I hope they fit! They are also my December entry in Chrissy's Sock-a-Month 2.

Next are two hats for my sweet nephew Natey. You may recall that I knit a hat for him with Noro Silk Garden earlier this year (see sidebar). Unfortunately, it was too big. So when I asked him what he wanted for Christmas this year, he was very specific. He said he wanted two hats: a black one knit with cotton and a red one knit with wool. Not fire engine red, or orange red, but blood red. And could I please make them a bit smaller than the first hat? (He also asked for black house socks, but I ran out of time for Christmas. I'm thinking birthday...) I was thrilled that my nephew in his 20's was so specific about exactly what he wanted, down to color and fiber. Not that it matters, but he dates girls. He's just very fashion-conscious.

Here is my ZimDee modelling the two hats. First is the red one:Pattern: My own. 5 rows of k1,p1 ribbing followed by straight stockinette for the rest of the cap.
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulky (80% Wool, 20% Mohair) in Blue Blood.
Needles: Size 10 1/2 Addi Turbo circulars, 16 inch; size 10 1/2 bamboo double points.
Notes: A very quick knit.

And the black hat:Pattern: My own. 9 rows of seed stitch border followed by straight stockinette to finish the cap.
Yarn: Rowan Wool Cotton, color: ink. This is a classic yarn and one of my favorites. I love the stitch detail it provides.
Needles: Size 5 Addi Turbo circulars, 16 inch. Size 5 bamboo double points.
Notes: I hope it fits! If not, I can knit him a bigger one and he can send the smaller one back. I know a little boy who wouldn't mind wearing it again.

Here are the hats ready to mail:You know, of course, that my Christmas knitting is not quite done. Now that ZimDee got to try on some new hats, how can I not knit one or two for him? And of course, the Count saw me knitting hats and said the classic line, "You can knit a hat for me if you want." Ooookay. Believe me, I love it when my family wants me to knit something for them, but the Noro hat I knit for the Count earlier this year (see sidebar) went unloved and unworn. When I asked the Count where it was, he pulled the classic man mind-bending: "I don't remember that." If I hadn't have knit it myself and put a picture on my blog, I might have fallen for that. But after searching high and low, no hat was found. So it looks like I'll still be knitting some hats for some boys to go in their Christmas stockings. And you know I will be loving every minute of it.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Oh. My. Gosh.

That's all I can say. Oh my gosh. My Secret Pal has spoiled me, but good. She told me that a special package was on its way, but I had no idea how special. Take a gander at this:Her adorable card said she wanted to send chocolate to help me knit through the holiday. Bless her heart. Christmas is going to be tough this year, there's no getting around that. But knowing there are people out there who don't even know me yet still care about me touches my heart.

Just look at this plunder of Koigu in rich blues. Looking at this yarn reminds me of the deep blue sea. Gorgeous. And then there is the handpainted yarn from Perchance to Knit in the exclusive SP9 colorway of Foxtrot, complete with crystal stitch marker.But that's not all. Next is the Anemoi Mittens pattern from the ever-talented Eunny Jang, with everything I need to make them (Size 1 AND 2 Bamboo double pointed needles, Knit Picks Gloss yarn in Cocoa and Serengeti, and the most adorable sterling silver and Swarovski crystal stitch markers that I've ever seen).
And that's STILL not all. There was also the most beautiful velvet brown KnitOne bag, lined with light blue silk, which includes a matching silk accessory bag. I am utterly speechless. And the bag wasn't empty, either. It was stuffed full of all sorts of knitting goodness: a very elegant Oriental silk needle case, size 7 birch straight needles, size 2 metallic Knit Picks double pointed needles, a Snip'n ruler, an adorable brown and pink zippered needle case, a Yarn Clam (which I can't wait to try--it's the clear object on top of the brown needle case). Also three skeins of Tough Stuff Libertina Yarn (100% Falklands Wool) in Pimpernel colorway, just enough to make a pair of socks.
There was also some mint milk chocolate Hershey's Sticks, some Eucerin hand lotion, some bath effervescents, and the cutest little post-its in the shape of the letter K. Whew!

I am ever so grateful, Secret Pal. Words cannot begin describe how overwhelmed I am by your generosity.

I can't wait to meet you!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Santa Picture

Here is our Santa picture this year. It was Sproutie's year to cry, based on how Girlie and ZimDee reacted during their one-year-of-age Christmas photo with Santa. But he did pretty good. I think because sissy and brother were right beside him, and mom and dad were in front of him. No smile, but at least no crying. His right hand looks like it's just hanging there, but in reality he had just thrown his baby Piglet toy in protest when the picture was snapped.Each of the kids have a special baby toy that they've brought with them to Santa pictures every year. For Girlie it's a fat little Pooh Bear. You can see the top of his head in the photo. For ZimDee it's a little tan floppy dog we named Hobie. He's not holding it because it was all he could do to stay awake for the picture. Hobie is under Pooh Bear in Girlie's lap. Girlie also brought an extra puppy this year, which is under Hobie and Pooh. I think this animal is putting in a one-time only showing. And of course, little Piglet was thrown from the floppy arms of our little Sprout.

By the time it was our turn in line, wouldn't you know it, ZimDee had fallen asleep. So if he looks like he doesn't know where he is, it's because he doesn't.

And Girlie just loves the camera. That's her camera face, maybe you've seen it before.

I just love how these pictures capture a moment in time of my babies' personalities.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Back from the Beyond

I've been distracted by some business that took all of my mental and physical energy. Trust me, we do not want to even go there. The good news is that I'm back, my friends. I've missed every one of you.

I got my first check in the mail today from Knit Picks for test knitting the socks for the catalog. Just in time for Christmas.

I also heard from my Secret Pal that her package is on its way to me. I’m very excited to get it. She already sent me a gift certificate for Kpixie. How spoiled am I?

The shiner is almost all gone. Life is good.

My love to all.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Christmas Tree

Last Sunday the Count and I packed up the kids and went to Sleighbells Christmas Tree Farm in Sherwood, Oregon. (I always wanted to rent a post office box in the town of Sherwood and give my address out as Sherwood Forest and see if the mail would actually be delivered or not...but I digress).Here is Sproutie (with his shiner-inducing pacifier, no less) looking adorable in his new Christmas coat among the snow-flocked Christmas trees. The flocking was gorgeous, but a little out of our budget this year. Besides, there's nothing like the smell of a freshly cut natural Christmas tree in your house.

Here is my beautiful family among the trees: The farm was really pretty, with rolling hills of different kinds of trees: Douglas Fir, Blue Spruce, and Noble Fir. Here are Girlie and ZimDee looking for just the right tree for us:And here I am with my babies, standing next to the 7 feet tall Noble Fir we finally chose. I think it is the most beautiful Christmas tree I've ever seen.
And here I am in front of the tree in our house, lopsidedly but most proudly decorated by my Girlie. She takes such special pleasure in putting the garlands and ornaments on the tree that it's now become our tradition.
As you can see, there is still a trace of the shiner lil' Sproutie gave me. I'm also showing off my new hair color for the holidays. She went pretty dark this time. Maybe it'll make me look a little bit more like my children.

I got ahold of the complete DVD one-season series of a little show called Wonderfalls, and am almost through the third and last disc. Apparently people really liked the show, though only three episodes aired on TV. It's ok. Not horrible. Not great.

I've been busy knitting for my wonderful niece Stephanie. It's a Christmas present, so I'll have to show you later so I don't spoil the surprise. This present was supposed to be for her birthday last month, but I ended up giving her the present I bought for her for Christmas on her birthday instead. I'm really liking how it is turning out.

I sent the lace socks off to Knit Picks and heard back from the design coordinator that she received them yesterday. She had one comment about them: "Stunning." That really made my day.

Things have been really up and down. It's been hard not knowing how I will react to anything. Sometimes I'll be truly fine, then five minutes later I'm not. This unpredictability in my own self is a little startling. The Count has been so supportive, and my kids have been wonderful. They are all keeping me grounded in the busy work of life.

I miss my brother every day. I still don't think I can wrap my mind around the fact that I live in a world that doesn't have him in it. I don't think I will ever get used to that, as long as I live.

Thank you to all who have been checking in with me to see how I've been doing. It truly means so much to me.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Knitting and Healing

In the midst of all that has happened with me and my family this month, I do have some knitting to share.

I had packed some knitting to take with me to Arizona, and I carried that bag around with me everywhere I went like a security blanket. I didn't knit a stitch, though I knew my knitting was there, quietly waiting like an old friend if I needed to pick it up. Just the fact that it was there was enough.

A beautiful-spirited border patrol agent who I'm convinced is an angel brought a skein of yarn to me one day when she came to pick my sisters and me up to take us to my brother's house. Right now that precious skein of yarn is sitting on my bookshelf, right where I can see it whenever I sit down to knit. Little things like that really do make a difference to a grieving heart.

Last month Knitpicks put out a feeler in my area for test knitters through the local SnB site, and I was intrigued. I answered the call, and after checking my references, I was offered a project to do. A paid project. With yarn provided. When I returned home from Arizona, a package was waiting for me from KnitPicks containing the yarn and the pattern for my project. It was just what I needed to ease me back into knitting again. Just when I needed it.

Since this project is for an early 2007 catalog, I can't show you entire pictures of the finished product, but I did get permission to share some detail photos with you as a teaser:

Since the project is (ahem) lace (ahem) socks, it also qualifies for my November Sock-a-Month requirement and my Lacevember star. Sweet.

Sometimes the universe aligns just so, and you can be happy in that moment. I love it when that happens.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My View of Sock Wars 2006

Sock Wars is now officially over, as of November 24, won by the deserving Heraldis. It was supposed to be a frenzied knit-off by whoever was left alive and Yarnmonkey. But in the days approaching the end of the war, 80+ warriors were still alive. Yarnmonkey was contacted for a proposed extension of the end date, but she decided that everyone should send their socks to her, and the first to reach her would be declared the winner, and all of the socks would be donated to charity. That's a nice thought, but after staying alive for over two months and knitting multiple pairs of socks, hard-working warriors wanted socks of their own. So Yarnmonkey changed the rules (ahem) and decided that the first person to send her a postcard in the mail would be the winner. She's in Ireland. At least people wouldn't be spending a fortune on sending socks. Heraldis won by sending a bouquet of flowers by Interpost. An inspired idea.

I believe there are still 80+ warriors out there waiting for their socks, desperately trying to reassemble to arrange to make that happen.

What follows is my review of the Sock Wars, written the day before I heard of my brother's accident:

It's official. I have met my untimely demise in the Sock Wars, taken out by these objects of beauty:As you can see, the socks were far too big and slipped down to my heels whenever I even slightly moved my foot. No amount of blocking would have made them fit. I even offered them to my mom, whose wears shoes 2 1/2 sizes bigger than mine, and she also had the same problem. So my socks of doom quickly became these piles:The chart that the Sock Wars hostess, Yarnmonkey, provided gave measurements far too big to fit the sizes given. Chrissy had the same problem with the socks of doom that she received. I had to modify and shorten the measurements for each target that I took out.

I am now going to show you the classified documents that I wasn't able to share with you during the time of my covert missions. Surely you understood my need for secrecy. Even now, in the wrong hands, these papers could still be dangerous.

The Dossier (created by me, since most participants never received one):
Top Secret
Sock Wars Dossier

Your target: Katrina, AKA Force of Nature

Target complains that her given name was a beautiful moniker until some genius decided to use it to name the most destructive hurricane to hit the U.S. She claims that the next person to say “Oh, you mean like the hurricane?” when she tells them her name will be dealt with in a most un-knitterly-like manner. Because of this, she has become a loose cannon and must be taken out.

Do not let her small demeanor fool you. She is a serious warrior. Her destructive knitting powers are very strong, witnessed by at least two fallen Sock Wars comrades beneath her. (RIP Mamie and Hat Lady).
Update: The agency has since learned of Moa's destruction at the hands of Force of Nature. You must shoot to kill.

Warning: Target is not above using chocolate to get her way if given the chance. DO NOT GIVE HER THAT CHANCE.

You must use the weapon that accompanies this dossier to destroy this target. It is the only weapon found to actually pierce her armor. The seductive draw of the merino wool is too difficult for even a seasoned Secret Agent like Force of Nature to resist. Her specifications are: US5.

When your mission has been completed, send arsenal to:
Katrina Cunningham
Portland, Oregon XXXXX

Good luck, Warrior. Be safe.

This message will self-destruct in 10 seconds.

My obit, posted on the Sock Wars Forum:
Top Secret—For Your Eyes Only

This communication is provided to inform the agency of rogue agent Force of Nature’s demise. She was taken out by the able hands of Abby.

Before she was eliminated, she snuffed out agents Mamie, Hat Lady, and Moa.

A moment of silence for these worthy opponents, if you please.
I created my own dossier because my eventual assassin never received one either. She had emailed me saying she was next in line to take me out and asking for my mailing address. She said she was going to use some yarn she already had to start knitting a pair of socks for me.

Well, my secret agent radar couldn't help but be suspicious. After all, I had never heard from my original assassin, so it was unknown whether she had started to knit a pair of socks for me, and if so, where they were in the chain. But being a rogue agent myself, having had to solicit the mailing address from my own original target, I sympathized with the position of the person emailing me.

I started to fire off an email with my mailing address to her when my radar went haywire again. Two things went through my mind: #1 is it gonna be yucky yarn, since it's just what she's got lying around? and #2 who's to say that she hasn't already started knitting my socks?

Now, I'm not accusing anybody here. But war can do funny things to people's minds. I was just trying to be a smart agent, like the manual outlined in my secret agent training. (For the record, my assassin is a minister--or was that another red herring??)

Since these were unusual circumstances in unusal times, I offered a compromise: would she allow me to mail her a dossier that contained my mailing address along with yarn of my choosing (not yucky being a major factor)? I would even knit a few rows of ribbing on the first sock to get her started, so she could have the experience of receiving an actual dossier and socks in progress. (Yes, I would be eventually contributing to my own destruction, but at least it would be nice yarn.)

Really, I had her against the wall and she was a good sport about it. I wouldn't have refused to give her my mailing address, though I'd heard of that happening in the course of the Sock Wars. I just don't play that way. I guess if I wanted to be stinky I'd have told her to take her chances by emailing Yarnmonkey for it and hoping for a timely response. But she agreed to the compromise and I sent along package (with chocolate for her trouble), by Priority Mail with delivery confirmation, no less.

And now I've received my Socks of Doom in return.

Here are my official observations on my participation in the Sock Wars. Note that these opinions are mine alone, and offered as such.

Let me see if I can summarize quickly the guidelines of the Sock Wars. Each participant would receive a dossier with their target's foot measurements and mailing address. They were then to knit a pair of socks as fast as they could and mail them to their target. When their target received the finished pair of socks, they were to post their death on the forum and send the socks they had been working on to their assassin to finish. If they had already sent their socks to their victim, whoever had socks in progress to finish should send them up the chain to whoever was still alive to finish. Confused yet?

I want to say that I had a blast doing the Sock Wars, and would participate again in a heartbeat. When signing up, I figured that there would be mass confusion, and that it would all eventually self-destruct. I was not far off in that assumption.

First, on the day that Sock Wars was to begin, the hostess, Yarnmonkey, lived in an area that was hit by hurricane Gordon. Imagine the irony of that: I was signed up as Force of Nature due to the unfortunate naming of hurricane Katrina, and a hurricane delays the game.

Due to the hurricane, very few participants actually received dossiers. The rest of us were left to dangle in the wind with no information. Yarnmonkey eventually posted a master list of participants and their shoe sizes and email addresses (!) on her blog, which we were supposed to wade through to find out who we were knitting for, and email our targets to ask them for their mailing address. Let me ask you this: how cooperative would you feel like being if it meant your imminent destruction? Did I mention that this list was in no particular alphabetical or chronological order, and that there were 772 participants?

Yarnmonkey removed the master list from her blog after several complaints from people unhappy with their email addresses being displayed on the web. I was one unfortunate recipient of email spam due to this listing, as I'm sure other participants were.

So now that the master list was removed, it was back to square one for people who didn't think to save the list. That is where some computer-savvy souls took control and created a spreadsheet of assassins and victims. Without this, everything would have fallen apart.

Yarnmonkey was MIA again after removing the master list. We all wished her well and wondered about her safety because of the hurricane. She turned out to be fine. But I do have to say that I really expected much more involvement from her than I have seen so far. Yes, she had this wonderful idea and she organized the list of assassins. You can't predict forces of nature, and I'm not criticizing her delay due to unforeseen circumstances. But she disappeared from September 22nd to October 16th when she finally posted on her blog again with some vague mention of the Sock Wars. I will quote directly from her blog:

"Well now my warring lovelies. Having stared over the edge of the combined insanity of work and the sock wars hoo-hah, I took off for a couple of weeks there and am back in the world of the normal again. I have been reassured to hear from participants who are friends of mine that the carnage has been continuing well without me."

Umm. Oookay.

She also said that her previous email address was "kaput" and provided an alternate. As of this writing, there have been exactly two posts on her blog since then, and neither mentions the Sock Wars.

She may be doing some emailing behind the scenes, but I would have thought that she would be much more active on the forum, especially now when questions like "how long should you wait before declaring someone a deserter?" and "I received socks in progress, but was not sent enough yarn to finish them, what should I do?" need answering. Those left alive have become rogue agents, stumbling along to find their own answers.

If I sound too critical, let me clarify: I love the idea of the Sock Wars. I appreciate Yarnmonkey's idea. I can only imagine how difficult and time-consuming it would be to organize so many participants. Maybe Yarnmonkey didn't expect as many people to sign up as did. This being the first go-round there were bound to be kinks. But I really thought she was going to be much more involved in the whole process than she has turned out to be. I think that if you're going to put together something this large, some attentive management is definitely in order.

I've heard this said before about the Sock Wars, and it bears repeating: this was one of the few online swaps that you were actually rewarded if the person assigned to you decided to drop out or disappear. It only prolonged your life in this game. And every participant receives a pair of socks. How cool is that? (Provided that the socks fit, of course).

Again, if there is ever a Sock Wars 2, I'd be the first to sign up.

To sum up:

What I loved about Sock Wars:
*the competitive aspect
*the covert nature of the competition
*meeting some really nice people
*the sock pattern itself
*driving my friends and family crazy by constantly talking about the Sock Wars

What could be improved:
*more attention and involvement from the organizer to resolve inevitable issues.

And those opinions, my friends, is why I became dangerous to the agency and had to be destroyed. By brilliant, but alas, too big pink socks.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sometimes Things Have To Get Worse Before They Get Better

Behold the shiner after a few days:

I'm very fair-skinned, so it was a given that I'd turn purple (and probably green). I have gone out in public, and nobody has said much of anything. They've given the poor Count a few dirty looks, though.

It still hurts, though it's not quite as tender now, and the swelling has gone down. Sometimes I won't think about it for a little while, and then be reminded again when I look in the mirror or something touches it too closely.

I think the same can be said about my heart. Though my eye will heal a lot quicker.

Yesterday would have been my brother's 36th birthday. We decided as a family to keep it as a day of celebration and remembrance, not a day to dread. So I raised my fork with MY favorite kind of cake (lemon cake with cream cheese frosting. David's favorite was German chocolate) and had a cup of tea in his honor. He would have done the same for me.

For David:

I thought of you with love today
But that is nothing new.
I thought about you yesterday
And days before that too.
I think of you in silence
I often speak your name.
Now all I have are memories
And your picture in a frame.
Your memory is my keepsake
With which I'll never part
God has you in His keeping
I have you in my Heart.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Now That's Funny

Introducing Shiner Watch 2006:Please excuse the scary no-makeup face. Hey, you're lucky I combed my hair, even though you don't see much of it in the pictures anyway. If I'd have known that, I might not have bothered.

The pictures are kind of blurry (what do you expect from a self-portrait?), but there is swelling and the unmistakable beginnings of a black eye, courtesy of my youngest, Sproutie. He took a running leap into my arms, and his bite (what our family calls his pacifier) caught me squarely under the eye. The way I bruise, this will be a full-blown shiner by morning.

Hey, if you can't laugh at yourself, then what is this world coming to, I ask you?

Did I mention that I was a total dork? I mean, who takes pictures of their blooming black eye and puts it on their blog?? Oh, yeah. Me.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Songs for David

Music has a way of pulling out all the feelings in your heart and allowing you to grieve and remember. I'd like to share two songs with you that I've been listening to that will always remind me of my brother David.

This song is Stay by Little Big Town. It was played after my brother's memorial service while they showed pictures of him growing up. I had never heard it before, but it perfectly mirrors my feelings.

MP3 File

This song is Tonight I Wanna Cry by Keith Urban.

MP3 File

Thank you again to everyone who has sent words of comfort in emails or a comment on my blog. They mean more to me than I could ever say...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Reflections on David

Please allow me to share some things that touched me that were read at my brother's memorial service.

From his eulogy, read by my sister's husband Dan:

Today I find myself standing before family, friends, and loved ones, honored to have the opportunity to present a eulogy to David Webb. My name is Dan and I'm David's brother-in-law by way of being married to one of his big sisters, Angie.

David Webb came into this world on November 24, 1970 in Coos Bay, Oregon by his parents Dave and Karen. He also came into this world instantly outnumbered by three older sisters who would end up having a significant impact on his development as a child, which we'll talk about in a moment. But make no mistake, his parents and three sisters...he loved dearly and they love him dearly too.

David was an educated man who had a passion for reading and studying different languages. As you have heard, his Spanish was impeccable, earning him the reputation at work for being able to handle those situations that played to his strengths. David attended high school in Medford, Oregon; he studied Cultural Studies and Criminal Justice after high school, and it was during this time that he met and married his angel Celia. If you know Celia, you know David was at the "top of his game" when he convinced her to be with him, carrying on a fine tradition we men have in this family of marrying way out of our league. David and Celia carried on the second great tradition this family has and that's building a family - quickly! Son Tysaac was born soon after in 1999 and of course, son Sethric in 2003. But I know that doesn't surprise because you all know...he just got things done!

David loved spending time with his boys and playing video games with them. When I first met David he was 12 years old, and you guessed it, playing a video game (I think it was Pong or something like that). His sister introduced me, and of course I did not warrant an actual face to face acknowledgement, but I did get a raised controller and a quick "hey"....well, a couple of days ago we were gathered at the house, Tysaac was entertaining himself with a video game in the living room. A presentation was being made and the speaker was right in front of Tysaac...he's trying to peer around as he's playing. The speaker gets done and I lean over to Tysaac and ask him, "Hey buddy, are you winning?" He turns to me and says, as serious as he can be: "Not if everyone keeps getting in my way" that's David's son!

I want to spend just a few quick minutes telling you a few stories from his family in hopes of possibly providing some insight to David's early development as a child, maybe explaining some of those traits that became the adult we all knew.

My first story I will title "The Little Red Wagon".
Apparently the four kids had this little red wagon and they would take this thing to the top of these hills by their house. Now the cool job of course was steering it and that would go to the ringleader and eldest, Angie. Next Laura would pile in behind most likely in hopes that the driver would get tossed and she would suddenly get the cool job of steering, Katrina behind that and then of course, poor David would somehow shoehorn himself into this mess with his little legs hanging out. Well, you know what his job was don't you?...yeah, the brakes! Poor guy kept wearing the heels out on his boots getting shorter by the ride!
Now you know why David didn't want to be last place in anything!

My second story I will title "Who, What, When and Why".
Now when you live in Coos Bay, there isn't a lot to do and you have to make a few things up as you go along. Again, the ringleader (Angie) would gather everybody up, sit each of them in a circle and each kid had an person had to think of a who, one a what, and so on. Then each kid took a turn telling the others what their who was or their what or their as you went around this circle, you got something like..."Uncle Buster...picks his the go to sleep." Apparently this was fairly humorous, and I'm sure it was...but more importantly, I think we now have a better understanding into David's approach to humor.

My last story I will title "School House".
As the oldest, Angie would prepare lesson plans for each of them, acting as the teacher of this pretend school house and these kids would have lesson after lesson after lesson to do. As a result, each one of them were solid readers before they hit first grade and I'm sure, drove David's passion for learning. Now, all this pretend schooling was fine, but David wanted to actually GO to school. But there was a problem...he wasn't old enough. So each day he had to painfully watch them travel off to school while he was left with lame lessons from his big sister. So for David, there was only one thing he could think of to do...and that's get his toy gun, strap it to his side, dress in his army gear and follow them to the bus stop hiding behind a mound of dirt...and guard his best friends until they were safely out of sight.

Now you know why David loved protecting America...

I will finish with these final thoughts...
It's important for you to know that David was there for his family during the tough times...he could talk with his mom without talking. David would say "remember me to my kids, and I ask you as Grandma to let them see your blue eyes as often as you can."
In speaking with his family I know he would be so happy and proud with the way the Border Patrol has treated his family.

And it's also important that you know...that David is proud...that you are proud of him.

Make no mistake...David left us a hero...

Death is a thief...and not often a welcome one...

But I do know that this feeling of grief is borne out of a tremendous love that we all have for David and that this sadness we feel is a result of the fact that we will miss him terribly.

I think it's also important for us to remember the foundation our Heavenly Father gives us. As the Apostle Paul tells us: "I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me."

I think we are left with a choice of where we go from here...and I am certain that David would want us to choose healing and love for one his honor.

Lastly, from David's brother-in-law Khoi who could not be here: Anh tung Em...which is Vietnamese for..."I love you, little brother."

May God bless this family.

From a wonderful piece written in David's perspective by his mother-in-law who adored him, translated from Spanish to English:

Thank You

Never like right now I thank God for the privilege of life, value the people that are around me, recognize the infinite pleasure of friendship and am satisfied with the mission that my Heavenly Father sent me for to this earth.

I loved and was loved by my parents, sisters, wife, sons, stepparents, neighbors and friends.

I learned from life that the wealth of a human being is in sharing with everyone, and that the true measure of compatibility is not in the amount of time we spend together, but in the quality of that time and the relationship for one another. I now know that broken hearts last for as long as we wish and cut so deeply, depending on how long you let them continue to hurt you, so for this, the challenge in surviving a broken heart is to know how we will learn from that pain.

Thank you, my friends...I will be with you as long as you remember me.

Thank you, family. I went ahead of you to explore the way and wait at the end until our joyous, everlasting get-together.

Thank you, God: praise You for receiving me into Your home. I ask you once more for all my loved ones, please send them the strength and grace not to question Your actions, but to accept Your will.

I do not wish to cause you pain. Remember me as a person with virtues and defects, but especially as the man that, God providing, tried to be a son, husband and father, and that in my way I found friendly and giving people that I trust will be the best support for those I leave behind.

I am at peace. I am with God.

David Norman Webb
November 1970-November 2006

And a poem that has helped bring comfort to me over these sad days:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
So do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I did not die.

And on a personal note:

I've learned over these last few weeks that sharing my grief with other people who are also hurting helps to heal us both.

That my brother is around and present in every funny story we tell about him.

That cards and emails, no matter how small, really do bring immeasurable comfort to my saddened heart.

Thank you, my friends, for letting me share my brother with you.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006


I am home, safe and sound.

Now that I've returned, I'm trying to find the balance between getting back to some sort of semblance of a normal life, and allowing myself to grieve. The sadness comes over me in waves.

I think that I'll be ready to do something, yet when I'm there I realize that I need to return to my cocoon.

My kids keep me quite occupied and provide a much-needed diversion. I'll be fine again, then memories come flooding back. It's like two steps forward, one step back.

But my brother knew I was tough. That I am strong.

But I never wanted to be this strong. To be able to survive this. Yet it's what I must do; for my mom, my sisters, my children, my brother's wife and children. For me.

My Brother

If you've seen a picture of my brother David, chances are you've seen the tough-guy pose that was taken for his border patrol ID. As his older sister, I think that's fitting, because he needed to look like he meant business. But let me share the softer side of my baby brother with you.

This man loved kitties over dogs, and preferred tea to coffee. This man had the best sense of humor, and we were always laughing, whether he was laughing AT me or WITH me. He loved to play games and do puzzles, just like me.

The man who walked me down the aisle and gave me away at my wedding. I remember you whispered to me words of love and encouragement.

We always thought there would be more time to catch up on all of our grown-up stuff. That we would grow old and always be there.

I am so proud of the man you became. How you took care of your family. You died doing a job that you loved, and left behind many, many people whose lives will never be the same from having known you.

I love you, David. And I will miss you every day of my life.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Here is a link to a news story about my brother's memorial service.
and video:

Thank you to all who have left comments on my blog and sweet personal emails. I have shared them with my family and they bring more comfort than you could possibly know.

A very special thank you goes to the sweet wonderful friends who sent the most beautiful red, white, and blue flower bouquet to the church. As I was sitting in the pew, I looked up over the many flowers at the service and the patriotic colors caught my eye. They comforted me so much. When I later asked who they were from, I was told they were sent by Katrina's knitting friends. I am overwhelmed by your thoughtful gesture. Thank you for honoring my brother in that way.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Please visit this website to learn more about my brother, David Webb.

His memorial service will be held on Thursday, November 9th with full honor guard.

Please keep my sister-in-law Celia and my nephews Tysaac (7) and Sethric (3) in your prayers.

Friday, November 03, 2006

My little brother died tonight in a car accident.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back Yard Pictures

In Sock Wars news, my days now are officially numbered. I received notice from my assassin last night that she would be mailing my completed socks of doom to me today. I am already listed as "dying" on the sock wars spreadsheet, even though the socks will be travelling from Toledo, Ohio, and I most likely won't receive them for a few days. I'm not officially dead until I have them in my hands, but the editors of the spreadsheet are getting antsy to wrap this thing up. Out of 772 warriors, there are technically 123 still standing, and 68 dying (waiting for their socks to arrive). I feel really great that I made it to the top 16% of the sock wars and that I was able to take out three opponents. The percentage of living vs dead will probably change before I receive my socks of doom, but my demise is imminent, and I've had a good run. I would do it again in a heartbeat! Of course I will post pictures of the socks when I receive them, probably along with a wrap-up "memorial" of my experiences.

There's talk of a hat wars, with the unofficial name of "head games" to begin sometime after the new year. I would participate for the competition aspect, and because I've had such fun in the sock wars, but I'm not really a hat-wearing girl. They always look funny on me. But maybe I could get a nice hat for the Count or Girlie out of it, depending on the color.

Here is the view from my deck last weekend:The babies didn't even know that I was taking their picture. I love coming upon them during their sweet moments together. Sissy was swinging her brothers while Daddy was raking leaves. And melting my heart.

I was out on the deck with the camera to get a shot of this:It may not come across very clearly, but we USED TO have a bridge that the Count built to go across our creek. But during a windstorm, the top of one of our trees decided it was afraid of heights, and wondered if it could take out our bridge during its free fall. Looks like it succeeded. The Count says he will build (in his words, not mine) a "prettier" bridge next spring. The creek floods every winter, so we won't miss the bridge until the weather warms up again.

In knitting news, the fabulous Koigu project in pinks for my niece Stephanie is looking really beautiful. It's kind of been slow going, but knitting with the Koigu is hypnotizing, and I'm loving how it's been turning out, though I've only got about 2 inches done. I can't show you until after I mail them off for her birthday, which is on the 14th of this month. These truly are a labor of love, and I find myself thinking of this lovely girl (well, woman now, as she'll be turning 20!) (how did that happen??) and giggling over sweet memories as I knit every stitch. My sister's kids are the children of my heart, and I couldn't love them more if I had given birth to them myself. This knitting project will have to hug her while I cannot, since she lives in Chicago. Ooh, I'm getting all choked up now. But I love you, my brown-eyed girl, and I love who you are to my children. You've made some great choices in your life, and I am so very proud of you.

Now where is that tissue box?

Happy Halloween!

A very Happy Halloween from the Great Pumpkin and his big brother the snake and big sissy the dog.

*Our love to all.*

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Socks, Socks, Socks!

Thank you to everyone who sent good wishes for me to feel better after having the flu. I think I'm finally over the worst of it.

In my last post, I mentioned working on a pair of socks for my mother-in-law. That came about when she was here visiting and some of my sock yarn caught her eye. She said she would very much like a pair of socks out of this yarn:
I love to knit for someone if I know it's going to be appreciated. And I love it when someone picks out some yarn and asks me to knit something specific for them. Who would have thought that the stripey looking skein of yarn would make such a pretty sock? But I'm not happy with it. It's a basic stockinette sock, but I wanted to follow the directions exactly to get a feel for basic sock construction, and I don't like how pointy the toe turned out. I could live with that, but look at this:Can you see that ladder running down the entire side of the sock? It's on both sides. I'm sure it's from where the needles joined. I guess I needed to pull a little tighter when changing needles, but this is my 5th pair of socks and the first time this has been an issue. Since these socks are for my mother-in-law, I'm pretty disappointed. I'm sure she would love anything I made, but I KNOW I can do better than that. *pouts*

Ah, well.

Look at this beautiful confection of yarn:This is Koigu KPPPM--something, and it's going to be made into something for my lovely niece Stephanie's birthday.'s a secret. Here's a closer look:
Isn't it gorgeous?

And now for the Sock Wars Update:

As of this writing, 5+ weeks in, there are 147 out of 772 participants still in the game.

In my last post I told you that I heard from the next person up the sock wars chain assigned to eliminate me, so my days are numbered. I was hoping to get one more "kill" in before being taken out of the competition, so it was a waiting game to see what I would get in the mail first: a pair of socks from my latest victim for me to finish or my own socks of doom, signalling my demise. Well, on Friday afternoon, a squishy package did indeed arrive. This is what was inside:

Yes, my friends, an almost completed pair of socks for me to finish! (yarn and fiber content unknown). So I survived another day to take out another victim:This time the socks are for Moa, and there really wasn't much left to do to finish these. You can see by the red and purple waste yarn that all I had to finish on the first sock was the toe. The heel flap was already completed on the second sock, so I just had to finish the foot. Less than 24 hours after receiving them, I was able to drop my third (and probably final) Socks of Doom in the mail to my third target.

RIP Moa.

And Hat Lady.

And Mamie.

A moment of silence for my worthy opponents, if you please.