21 December 2006

Candy Cane Craziness

Greetings, all,

I've escaped to the North Pole for a brief little tryst with a hot little elf...

...or maybe I've just been struck mute with all the holiday happenings.

Will return soon with pictures of knee socks... if the stupid things ever end. Good grief the yarn just never seems to run out! (You know it's bad when a knitter is praying for the skein to just stop and run dry...)

Happy holidays to all and to all a good night... of sewing, knitting, friends and merriment!

16 December 2006


Professor Wolfgang Smartypants is thrilled to announce the discovery of Giftias Kellicus, a new species found in the Chez Leslie ecosystem.

Through intense study and deliberation, Professor Smartypants has surmised that the new species migrated an unimaginable distance, originating in the productive and inspiring land of AfricanKelli. This land is generally known for its baked goods and sewn creations so the emergence of such a highly evolved species as Giftias Kellicus comes with little surprise to the scientific community.

Professor Smartypants notes the species’ unique coloring which is suggestive of the holiday season, but in a trendy, stylized manner so as to extend wear beyond the limitations of poinsettia-friendly dates specified in the life cycle of holiday gear. “Even more exciting,” the good doctor proclaims, “is the assumption that species is reversible and the green interior could be displayed year-round, even in the harshest of fashion-criticizing climates.”

Giftias Kellicus is derived from the well-known Amy Butler phylum and the Swing bag genus. Professor Smartypants indicates that current interest in this genus paired with the new arrival could lead to an outbreak of additional members of the genus but believes that this could only enhance the Chez Leslie ecosystem. “While most traditional ecosystems are bound by space resources, Chez Leslie seems to hold infinite room for the purse kingdom. This really is a welcoming environment for purses, bags, totes and the like.”

Seen here in its native habitat, Giftias Kellicus is surrounded by like-minded species, Starbucks Cupicus, Victorian Novelicus and Stash Yarnicus. The four species seem to form a symbiotic relationship wherein Giftias Kellicus serves as host to the Victorian Novelicus and Stash Yarnicus while Starbucks Cupicus provides sustenance via regular spillage. Although the arrival of Giftias Kellicus is a new development in the Chez Leslie ecosystem, all studies indicate a long and exciting life of adventure await the species.

14 December 2006

That Special Shade of Blue

Around this time of year, beloved girls far and wide start to look high and low for a box big or small in that oh so special shade of blue.

The rest of us go to our local Knitting Guild holiday bazaar and buy ourselves a bit of blue. If there won't be Tiffany on my fingers, there will Koigu on my toes.

10 December 2006

Deck the Halls

How can you help but be full of holiday spirit when surrounded by glittering aluminum?

I decided to go with a pink, silver and gold theme this year so my halls aren't quite as bedecked as with the blue and silver scheme of old (well, the past three years), but I'll probably be thankful for that in January when it's time to put it all away. Things have been too busy lately to go all out anyway, but a little vintage sparkle helps to make those nights at the computer a little cheerier.

I love my "tacky tree" as my father describes these vintage jewels. I found it at an antique store in Missouri when I took a day off from working on my master's degree to go junk hunting with the girls of the family. It's a little Charlie Brown pathetic in that the center post has some chips, it's missing several limbs and the limbs that are here are rather, um, crumpled. Nonetheless, I love its bling and this was before these trees became so popular so I got a real bargain on it. My mother and aunt looked at it and said, "Oh, um, sure, yeah, you should get that" while they were clearly thinking, "Good grief that thing is disgusting. She was clearly raised by wolves with no taste. We must get her out of the library more often and really, maybe we should get her new glasses while we're at it. At least she lives far away so we can just pretend we don't know her."

They both had silver "tacky trees" of their own the following year.

My mom even found the rotating color lamp which is now a fire hazard, but a pretty cool fire hazard.

These sunburst ornaments are some of my favorites, if only because they just make you go "huh?" Sun faces on Christmas ornaments when there's a foot of snow outside? I found them at a local thrift store and I can only imagine that they once belonged to a little Italian or Polish grandma with orange Aqua Net hair, the kind of little old lady who goes to Florida for the winter. She and Ralph tool around Buffalo in the summer in a big Caddy, decorating the front lawn with flamingos and gnomes and talking about the big shuffleboard tournament in Palm Springs. They probably shipped these home to the kiddies, stuck in Buffalo for the winter. I imagine little Ethel wrote out a note that annoyed her daughter to no end so she dumped the sun-themed ornaments into a box with the stale fruitcake and the bedazzled sweatsuit with matching floral muu-muu and sent the lot to the junk, where of course I bought them and brought them home to my own kitschy abode. I get to think of dear, crazy Ethel every year when I hang them up. I bet Ethel would be happy to come visit and help, provided I gave her a big cup of rum with a dash of egg nog.
Hope your days are sparkly and your hearths bedecked with tacky or tasteful!
Now if I could only find one of Ethel's flamingos to use as a tree topper...
P.S. If anyone else is into junk hunts, I mean, vintage treasure searches, check out the Vintage Swaps. I'm going to give it a try for a round in January. The theme is "beauty" and I definitely think that means I need to get cracking on making a bag or two out of those trampy toiletry curtains.

09 December 2006

Knit Unto Others

Thanks for all your encouragement on my holiday gluttony. Boots are ordered and looks like I'll be sweating up a storm with my year of training. To make up for this splurge, I'll definitely need to go on another yarn and fabric diet while I'm focusing on healthier eating in the new year!

But before this turns into a completely selfish blog, though I'd share a pair of mittens that I completed for Lynne's mitten collection for local children.

Pattern: Mittens (with mods)
Yarn: stash acrylic... it's much, much brighter than any camera could capture. We're talking yellow that will flash out loudly even when buried under six feet of snow bright.
Needles: Sz. 6 bamboo dpns
Recipient: From Hearts to Hands... (charity collection for Buffalo children)
Mods: I made the toddler size (CO 24) but decided to do these in the round rather than seamed. Changed ribbing to garter stitch. Ignored the length specified and knit until they looked proportional, if mittens can be proportional.
I'm going to guess my yarn fudging caused problems here or maybe I was really off on gauge, but I tried the larger size from this pattern and ended up with grown-up mittens... or mitten. I may finish that one off for charity later or more likely, I'll get greedy and keep it myself. These are definitely NOT toddler sized but they at least should fit children.
The buttons are a tiny little plane and helicopter since they needed a little somethin' somethin'.
Quick and easy project that I wish I'd started sooner so I could've sent more hand-knit mittens. I haven't done too many of these small projects lately. Kinda fun to actually see the end of something! I definitely see a hat or two in my very near future...

05 December 2006

Would You Still Love Me If I Wore Ugg Boots?

Amongst the pithy life decisions that need to be made in the coming weeks, I'm contemplating a serious purchase.

Ugg-esque boots

This contemplation is troubling on several fronts, the greatest of which may just be my fall from fashion icon status were I to wear said boots in public.

(Please know that I nearly choked writing that last sentence. Would a real fashion icon be sitting here posting to the blogosphere sporting a bleach-stained sweatshirt from college whose kelly green clashes severely with her lime green Crocs and forest green socks? I know, I have a wardrobe to make Oprah jealous. There are reason I only take pictures of my knitting.)

But here are the points in favor of this fanciful purchase:

1. I actually live in a climate that warrants warm footwear.

2. Increased travels to the gym in winter demand snow-proof footwear that is easy-on, easy-off, even after excessive lunges which severely limit the function of my lower body and the mental capacity for such difficult operations such as shoe laces.

3. They aren't reeeeally Uggs, just ugg-esque.

4. I have entirely skipped the trend thus far. (See: "fashion icon" above... Granted, this may only be evidence that I'm a loser who catches trends two years after they are passe, but who's keeping track of these things? Sienna Miller still wears her Uggs after all...)

5. I promise to never, ever wear them with gauchos.

6. The most convincing reason of all...I am not a Hollywood starlet and therefore will not under any circumstances be wearing the ugg-esque footwear with a mini-cocktail dress on the red carpet.

But maybe with my stylin' new kicks, I'll become a Hollywood starlet and invite you all to the swanky premiere of my new film... After all, LiLo is holed away in rehab for a good long while and someone has to nab that Oscar.

By the way, did you know there was a trademark scandel around the infamous fashion no-no's? And it's worse than wearing Target knock-offs.


I had my first session with a personal trainer this morning.

I spent the rest of the day on the couch reading and contemplating button choices for the CPH.

I'm considering a year-long plan.

I'm considering brown buttons.

03 December 2006

Closing in on the Hood

It feels so homey to say that I've got a sweater blocking in the other room. Why can't it smell as nice as saying 'I've got bread rising in the other room'?

I reeeeally want to finish this one before our next Guild meeting on the 13th and I've only got a hood, a button band and seaming standing in my way. Speaking of the button band, I'm having a hard time figuring out how I want to finish this one. I may try to set up a poll on possible closures. I'm thinking buttons since I have quite a few zippered cardigan sweaters, but the strange color of the yarn isn't really helping here. If we ever get a sunny day, I'll try to get accurately colored pics and seek the wisdom of the Internets for this one.

Movie Review

Since many of us knit while watching movies, thought I’d try to throw in a movie review or two if I stumble upon something interesting. Friday night’s sleeve cap was produced while watching Lumumba, a movie about Patrice Lumumba, Prime Minister of the Congo for a very brief and contentious time in 1960. I’m getting better about knitting to subtitles, but this one was a challenge. I didn’t feel that I had enough background knowledge to entirely follow everything so I had to watch pretty closely to make sure I didn’t miss important references. It was also a pretty tense film which I think may show in my tension here and there. The film starts with the murders of the leaders so even if your knowledge of African history is pretty slim, you aren’t wondering what’s going to happen. Granted, this just means that you sit through two hours of impending doom, but I guess I’d rather know the ship was going to sink rather than hoping for the movie-ending lifeboat to swoop in at the end.

Overall, I’d give this one a thumbs up for capturing the difficult work of nation-building in a post-colonial context. It has all the elements of a Hollywood political thriller with the added bonus of being real. Maybe not a good knitting movie, but one to add to your list if you enjoy intrigue and political history.

Excuse the political diatribe here, but I couldn’t help but watch and think of the civil strife in Iraq. People wonder how a country can descend into civil war after a tyrant is removed. I’ve gotten pretty steamed up lately about people criticizing Iraqi civilians for the strife and discord. After all, this is the time when things are supposed to be hunky dory and perfect and peaceful and optimistic. This film really showed how in a time of revolution and even following said revolution, massive internal conflict is inevitable. I don’t know what is right for Iraq, but I know it’s wrong to expect a nation to peacefully emerge immediately once out of a time of chaotic rule or to categorize people as inept or foolish for having the same difficulties that have occurred time and time again.

Aldous Huxley wrote, “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.” So much to learn, so much work to do in this great and confusing world of ours.