Sunday, December 30, 2007

Financila matters

I forgot to mention that we thought Hard Rock would be the one place that would accept credit cards - especially American ones. Daddy has visited enough of them around the world for us to think this would be possible – BUT signs on the doors stated they do not accept American Express! drat! It might have been a good thing – it kept me from going wild in the gift shop. The check for the 6 of us was 3500 ru – less than I anticipated, but I’m low on cash now.

For all you economic types – I finally got it though my thick head that 100 ru is around 4 dollars – thus 1,000 ru is about $40 – took me long enough, sigh. Gas here is around 21.50 ru for a LITER – you do the math for the price of a gallon. A ride on the Metro (subway) is 17 ru – the bus was 20 ru. The standard tip at restaurants is 10%. The cost of living rate for Mike varies weekly according to the value of the dollar - hard to keep a budget. The school insists they pay by check so they get hit by the bank handling fees adding to the $550+ monthly tuition – Sophia goes 3 half days and Teresa only attends 2. There is a VAT on EVERYTHING at 18.7% and I can’t tell if it is included or added to the prices as I give Lisa all my receipts for the refund.

I’ve been in enough subway stations now to see a pattern in the stalls selling stuff. There might be more but they all had ones dedicated to breads and cakes, cosmetics, newspapers, video rentals, little gifts, stockings and sexy lingerie, and flowers. You see lots of people walking around with flowers. There are also booths selling tickets to various events – not the permanent stalls like the others. Lisa says you can only get tickets for that day - nothing in advance. There are always street sellers on the steps – mostly “mature” ladies offering scarves and gloves incase you just lost them, I guess and I’ve seen some of the usual toys like the mechanical “ferret” chasing the ball. Things are the same all over – I wonder of the umbrella sellers magically appear when it starts to rain like they do in New York.

PLease don't let go of my hand

We got up too late to make church at the embassy this morning. There was probably another mass at the rectory but Mike and Lisa aren’t sure where it is. We won’t go any where by ourselves. We were on a train the other day and didn’t understand it was being taken out of service until we were the only ones left. Lisa’s didn’t understand the announcement – so we wouldn’t have a chance.

Mike was even confused today. We decided to go downtown and had to transfer two times. There are two blue lines and we picked the wrong shade. Not that big a problem - just had a LONG walk. It was interesting – along a street just for pedestrians with lots of artists, stalls and souvenir shops – most a repeat of yesterday. Lots of signs in English – knew the prices would probably be high. Didn’t dawdle – just passed the Starbucks – we were headed for Hard Rock and the girls were hungry! Luckily it wasn’t crowded so we got a table right away. Looks like this is the place to bring the kids – everyone takes off their boots and start running around. No one objected about the noise and the wait staff just waltzed through them. Food was the usual menu – great when you are homesick for some fries and onion rings.

Found our way home without any problems except my hat is TOO hot! It might be 30’F but I don’t feel cold. I was sweating until I stopped wearing socks in my UGGS and now I’m the only one holding my hat and gloves on the train!

We gave the girls their New Years’ presents – masks. Looks like kids here dress up in costumes so we got them a kitten and a puppy mask. Chaos broke out, of course, as they chased each other around the house on all fours. No one would hold still for a photo – so I’ll try again tomorrow. They were very tired and didn’t object to going to bed. They are very confused. The Russian Santa comes on New Years and Orthodox Christmas is Jan 6 – I’m having trouble keeping it all straight.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Things to ponder

Its 4 AM – can’t sleep – was woken by fireworks! We hear a few going off every night, but can’t see any thing. This time it was a long string going off. Have no idea what they were celebrating and anticipate New Year’s will be noisy!

One funny thing I forgot to mention is Teresa keeps asking “Is it Kwanza?” Oh, the power of Sesame Street! We think she knows about it from an Elmo holiday DVD as all they see here is Nickelodeon in Russian. Wonder if Auntie Claire has something to do with it.

Going back to bed – I can’t sleep late as I’m sleeping in the play room.

Retail therpy time!

Lisa took us to GUM (pronounced goom) yesterday – a HUGE department store in Red Square. This was on my wish list of things I wanted to do. I remember seeing pictures ages ago. It is a gorgeous 3 story, Victorian gingerbread, city block monster. But it’s more like a mall than one store. Very high scale boutiques. There are up escalators, but none going down! The one place we really wanted to look at - the food emporium - was closed – drat. They seemed to be stocking stuff so they might be open if we get a chance to go back next week. I didn’t buy anything as I’m holding off getting my Hermes scarf until I can pick one up in Paris. lol
We had lunch in new mall one subway stop from the house. The restaurant is owned by a German brewery – decent food. There obviously aren't any age restrictions on alcohol or tobacco - a table filled with High school kids were having a great time. We had soup – cream of mushroom and a sausage one from St. Petersburg then chicken schnitzel and stroganov. Stopped in the attached supermarket and headed home. Just missed the shuttle bus so we had to wait an hour for the next one – sigh. It wasn’t THAT bad but at -2’C, it seemed to take longer. We made a pot of split pea soup for dinner and went to bed early to be ready for today.
Mike took us to Ishmalova (Sp?) today – an outdoor craft fair open weekends all year. It was amazing. Booth after booth of anything a tourist could ask for – and they will bargain! I got lots of goodies – but I’m not telling so I don’t ruin any surprises. This is the place to go if you want a medal, a jet pilot helmet or a gas mask – we didn’t get anything military or antique as they can give you a hard time taking it out of the country. The best part was the food stalls – a 2 story cottage structure open on the ground floor with barbeques and enclosed seating upstairs. We had sashleek – marinated chicken, veal or lamb with a great sauce and terrific warm bread. The only thing that could have made it better would have been a bathroom. Sigh.
On our way out, I couldn’t resist anymore. I picked up a shawl for myself – one of those white cobweb wonders that I can’t remember the name as an incentive to make my own. And I got a fur hat! It was hard trying to decide – there are so many styles, types of fur and colors – I picked a hood type in a dyed fox – a mix of lavender and black. It made Mike laugh so it’s probably a good choice. The most important thing, its warm – needed it during the walk to the car as it started to snow.
Tomorrow starts our last week in Moscow – it’s the big holiday so Mike has off so we’ll try to cram in as much as we can.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Stash After

The Stash After
Originally uploaded by IdoruNYC357
Ah yes... the joy of an organized stash!

With LOTS of help from the sister, we managed to tame the wild beast that was the laundry basket of half finished squares, tangled yarn and random books and hooks that was my craft basket before. as you can see, it's all laid out nice and organized now, and all with photos in Ravelry... woo! And let me just say - the discovery of the center pull ball is FABULOUS. I think the majority of the stash has been re-balled just so we could practice it :)

Man, I don't know where I got most of it - besides "borrowing" it from mom's stash... I guess all those giveaways from Stitch and Pitch and random fairs added up.

Now I'm working on finishing scarf #2 to match the hats, and a pair of fingerless gloves in the beautiful silk/merino that I got on on Purl Adventure earlier. I made a really pretty skinny scarf with it before, but skinny/pretty does not equal warm/functional. Might have to see if I will have enough yarn after the gloves to make a thicker,, more functional scarf. Perhaps a muff/neck warmer thing. Hmmm....

Other than that, just chillin', waiting for Amy and the BF... i have had all week off, and don't have to go back untill the second, so I'm enjoying the sitting around the house and watching marathons on discovery channel. Can't wait for the Mamajama and the Poppy to come home so we can see all the pictures and hear all the stories!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

LeeLuu Likes to Knit

LeeLuu Likes to Knit
Originally uploaded by amynowacoski
While at Claire's for the holidays, we organized her stash. LeeLuu enjoyed that very much. Yarn is her favorite toy. Then we got down to some serious crafting. Claire finished a crocheted hat for a gift and I somehow got roped into knitting a matching scarf. No worries tho, LeeLuu was there to help. She's very helpful in kjeeping the tension on the yarn.

The Mitten Saga continues...

I am beginning to regret having the idea of knitting the dgds sweater sets. My stranding skills are rusty and the effects of the stroke are probably not helping – but I’m determined to get it right. Luckily, I decided to start with the mittens – I would be in a real funk if these problems had to be corrected in a sweater.

I made the first one at home and coped with the usual problem with Dale patterns. I copied the graph for the correct size and started with my trusty dpns. Thought four mittens would provide empirical testing grounds for dpns vs. magic loop and switching hands with the colors. It came out OK but I should have been wary that it was just slightly smaller than the ones I made for myself. Lisa had said the girls had grown – but found out when we got here it wasn’t THAT much. No problem – decided to just make a new one in the smaller size – just needed to mark off my graph. Knitted up a new cuff but the number of stitches in the graph is less than what the directions state – do over. I chugged along but noticed it felt kind of stiff. Tried the finished body on Teresa but she immediately ripped it off –“too scratchy”! sigh. Undaunted I did the second one with magic loop. My gauge was different by a half stitch, so the second one is slightly larger. Noticed I’m getting inconsistent stitches where I loop the needle – presume this is like ladders in dpns that I will eventually learn to control.

Just had a new try on and should have anticipated it would yield conflicting results. Teresa definitely likes the magic loop one but she didn’t complain about them being scratchy. Sophia liked them both, “pretty”, but picked the dpn one for comfort – sigh!

Think I need a cup of coffee before deciding what to do next.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Played Tourist Today

We decided to be tourists today and went to the Pushkin Museum of Art. Mike had to go to work and Luba could watch the girls so we went off on an adventure. Lisa hadn’t been to that part of the city, so the maps were consulted. It was a long subway ride – don’t think I mentioned the doors start to open before the train comes to a complete stop – no wonder they don’t lean on them! I even got a seat – the seats run straight down each side and the heat is under them - it was nice and cozy. When we got there, we had to cross a major, 4 lane avenue without a light. The traffic doesn’t slow down – so you can’t dawdle.

The museum is small but very nice – a wide variety of well known artists with Russian counterparts. There were several self portraits – it was nice to look into their eyes. You can get real close to everything - didn't notice any security stuff except for lots of middle aged ladies watching you. Of course we headed straight for the Monet’s – surprised that there wasn’t a haystack – but there were 3 different cathedrals hanging next to each other so you could study the subtle differences. There were probably more workers than people there and no school groups. The museum shop was just a counter of some art books in Russian – Lisa and I thought they could use some better marketing. There was a cafe but we headed for another businessmen’s lunch.

Back on the Metro – this time we all had seats! We went to a Beer Garden – a building, no garden - decorated with 1920s stuff. First newly renovated Ladies’ Room – all the others have been small, utilitarian and worn. Think they are catering to the expat crowd - there was a Santa on the reception desk holding a sign “I believe in Santa” – in English. The food was delicious. For appetizers, I had herring with grated beets and apples, Ron and Lisa had mushrooms in cream sauce. For our entrees, I had stroganoff, Lisa had salmon, and sausage and cabbage for Ron, all with scrumptious mash potatoes again. First time I saw Russian tea cups but no samovar yet. We had water and Lisa had a beer - the bill came to less than 1,000 ru – a bargain!

Stopped in a book store - large selection, but no coffee or seats. A wide choice in English – didn’t notice any other languages. Looked briefly at the craft section – saw some crochet and quilting books even a translated silk ribbon embroidery copy of one that’s on my shelf at home. Hope I can get back there when time isn’t short.

Decided to take the bus home. Not one of the standard ones – a small yellow van. The fare was only 20 ru and it stopped right outside the gate. Every seat was taken and I sat right by the door- not a good idea. I didn’t realize I was in charge of passing up the money to the driver, make change and open the door - caused some grumbles but I got better.

The girls were deep into Barbie – seems they decided to move in their My Little Ponies into the first floor of the dream house. I didn’t know some ponies have magnets in their hooves – makes interesting refrigerator art. Mike was home early so we had a dinner of leftovers. The girls continued the fashion show – there are just so many new combinations to try!

A few other things I don’t think I mentioned:
You check your coat everywhere without tipping.
Stairs in public places are carpeted just down the center. Since most are marble, those of us who need the banister are on slippery footing. They use the metal stair rods my mother couldn’t wait to get rid of once she got wall to wall carpeting.
You have to pass through metal detectors and there are lots of security types in dark suits all over.
We haven’t seen an elevator – just stairs or a few escalators.
Don’t see any fire escapes – so with the lack of hydrants, I’m starting to wonder what they do in the case of fire.
Walking on the right isn't always the norm - I don't see signs so you have to watch where everyone else is headed - yes, I've had to turn around and get it right.

Just realized I didn’t take any pictures! Drat! At least the camera is small and doesn’t weigh much.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Holidays in NY

I'm so excited to read the Adventures in Russia! Nothing quite as exciting going on here but a brief update nonetheless.

Claire and I and the boyfriend have had a lovely and laid back time. There was much arguing about when to open presents. We concluded that even tho Norad reported Santa was in NYC, we could not open presents till the morning. There were some grumpy faces over that but I will not mention who. Claire and the boyfriend are at his parents and I'm off to see the Tree in a bit. LeeLuu is curled up with her Christmas Octopus since there is no food around at the moment. I have to head back up state tomorrow but I'll be back for the weekend.

Claire crocheted hats for gifts and I got roped into knitting a matching scarf. Its almost done, I'll proabably finish tonight. Other than that (and present wrapping madness) nothing crafty to report.

Christmas Chaos

It’s everything I thought it would be – soooo much fun! The dgds went straight for the Barbie Dream House – took a long time before they noticed there were other presents. They HAD to open up EVERYTHING – especially all the little pieces and play before opening the next present. Barbies had to change clothes several times and so did they. Santa brought lots of dress up stuff that they had to model – with appropriate tights, shoes and jewels! Then Teresa decided underwear was the most comfortable uniform for opening presents. Sophia had to try on some of the “real” clothes her received but Teresa would peek in a present after the first tear of the wrapping paper and then put it aside if it was clothes. It’s 3 PM and she still hasn’t finished opening them!

It’s hard to tell what is the biggest hit after the house – everything has attracted them except the stuff to play in the snow – there’s only a inch or snow on the ground – and most of that is dirty and/or yellow. We even had to read the books. PHEW! No time to eat – luckily there are cookies to grab when you are running from one toy to another.

I didn’t remember how much trash toys generate. It looks like each box produce 3 times its size in stuff that has to be thrown away. My job this evening is to check that none of the gazillion small pieces got misdirected.

Have to go start dinner. Mike is watching the Jungle Book with the girls, Lisa is making fudge and Grandpa is taking nap. I hope to get to bed early bit with so any books and DVDs, it might not be possible.

Hope you all have a similar joyous day - Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Did Santa come?

Christmas Eve in Moscow was busy, Lisa and I made one last trip to the mall while everyone else stayed home and made more cookies. We left the house at 3:30 to get to the Embassey in time for the big pageant. Sophia didn't want to join in - but Teresa couldn't wait to put on her wings. There were only a few kids who wanted to be on stage - only 1 shepard and 2 wise men - but there were 4 angels - little girls can't resist the spotlight. The only distruption I noticed was Teresa had to adjust her tights before coming on stage but she behaved wonderfully during the show even when the shepard blocked her view - no problem - she just peeked around him.
Everything just took a long time - Father gave a wonderful LONG homily and we didn't get home until 8:30 - we got to experience rush hour in Moscow upclose and personal. We were all crabby and starving. We dove into the delicious borcht Luba, their nanny, made for us - We couldn't wait to cook the feast we planned of shrimp and crab legs - guess we'll save it for New Years.
It was then time to fix a plate of cookies for Santa - and carrots for the reindeer, of course. Santa is getting milk here - no drinking and driving - and they left water for the reindeers. Mike read them 'Twas and it was right up to bed - no complaints as they were very tired at 10:30! Me, too! I'm going to help set up the presents and get to bed - I don't think I will be able to sleep in.
Merry Christmas!

Yarn Pug1

Yarn Pug1
Originally uploaded by IdoruNYC357
LeeLuu got lost in the Yarn Organization Project 2007. She didn't seem to mind too much, until we took away her chin rest. Fortunately, there were no bamboo needles to eat.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The elves are at wotk

Lots of things going on and I should get some sleep but tomorrow will be busier so I tought I would send an update before I forget stuff.
We went out last night to see a Russian folkdance group. We had dinner in the Starlight Diner! It's all chrome and neon lights - counter stools, booths, open 24 hours and everyone spoke English. We had burgers and shakes - decent but a cheeseburger was 325 ru - at a 4:1 exchange rate, I'm not doing the math.
The show was in the Tschikovsky theater. The program wasn't strictly Russian dances but from all over. The dancers were great and I'm glad the girls didn't go - they would have me sewing for years. The show ended after 9 and that was a problem. The shuttle from the metro station to the complex ended at 9 - (the metro doesn't run 24 hours!) We weren't up to the hike (about a 10 minute drive) - so Mike got an embassey car (don't see many taxis) and got his car to meet us at the Metro station. It snowed while we were in the theater and got much colder. It was real icy - no one puts down salt so walking is a challenge. Another thing I noticed - things like steps aren't marked - so you have to watch where you're walking.
We were up early Sunday morning for mass at the embassey. We made it but that was only the beginning of the fun. Mike took the girls swimming while Lisa and I shopped in the commissary. Picked up stuff for Christmas dinner and then we all had lunch in the cafeteria. They serve Starbuck coffee and pizza - all the comforts of home! We didn't get to see much - we couldn't walk around without an escort. Then it was pile back in the car - I haven't explained that Mike has a small, 2 door, 4x4 - so that meant Lisa got to sit "in the back" while I shared the back seat with the girls. Some one has to help me get out - my body doesn't do origami well. Lucky there isn't any seat belt or car seat laws - it's going to be hard on them when they come back.
We left Grandpa to babysit and went to a grocery store. Kind of typical - nothing spectacular but I wish I had brought the dictionary. I think we're ready for the feast now. We decided to do some baking after dinner. I had made sour cream patry dough so it was time to teach the girls how to use a rolling pin. They did a great job and we made a batch of chocolate chips after they went to bed. It's always an adventure cooking in another kitchen but this was a particular challenge trying to figure out to work the oven while converting Fahrenhite to Celcius - don't think we got it right - it took almost 3 times as long to get the cookies to brown. Everything tastes good - that's what matters. I think Lisa is getting an oven thermometer when I get home.
Tomorrow will be hectic - have to finish the angel alterations and hope to get in more cookie baking - the pageant is at 5 so we should leave around 4 since it will be rush hour traffic. The girls were so wound up tonight that I can't imagine what it will like tomorrow.
Mike and Lisa are finishing up the wrapping - I'm going to bed.

Friday, December 21, 2007

More walking....

We went to the mall today - huge - called Mega, obviously! Lots of stores - even has an ice skating rink in the food court! AND Starbucks! We stopped for lattes and picked up mugs. I forgot my knitting - sigh - but we will be going back. One of the stores is a HUGE supermarket - maybe twice the size of a Costco but no bulk stuff - has 92 cashiers! Picked up some goodies. Several toy stores which we had to check out, of course. The kids here wear costumes for New Years - girls as princesses and boys as charaters. Got the dgds masks - and Lisa probably talked to Claire and Amy as she put some lovely hats on me. Yes, there are pictures but I can't get my camera's software on this computer so you'll have to wait until I get home.
Looked in a department store called Stockmans, I think. Very fancy clothes with hefty price tags - a toy Mike bought the other day in another store was $80 more there! They have a food section (Harrods copycat)- surprisingly, I didn't think it was expensive. Picked up a panetone for Lisa for $20 - Fairway wanted $27! We got some chop meat. Beef is not easy to find here and Lisa doesn't like the quality. They eat lots of chicken. Grandpa made meatballs for dinner. It cost around for 180 ru for a kilo (little more than 2 pounds)- that's less than 8 dollars.
The weather is the same - a little sun very briefly. It's not that cold - I didn't need my hat and gloves.
I don't remember if I talked about how they overdress their children. Lots of layers - Daddy says they look like the Pillsbury Dough Boy! And it seem mandantory to have a scarf wrapped around their necks tied in back. They know how to dress themselves except for those scarves. They can hardly move and I wonder how overheated they get. The kids go out everyday regardless of the weather. The dgds were covered in mud when we picked them up from school yesterday. Looks like you need several snowsuits to keep up with the wash.
Sophia had dancing class this afternoon. Mike taped it - they are learning the chicken dance! Not the ballet steps I imagined.
We went to the emabssy school to use the ATM - Citibank is big here. The building is magnificent. It starts at Kindergarden and goes through high school. It is based on the American system even though it run by the British, Canadian and American embassies. The pool is open in the evenings. The entrance is just down the street from the house but still in the complex.
It looks like there are 200 town houses in the complex - mostly all foreigners from different countries - government and business people. There is a playground and a park area and a store - they call it the Russian bodega! Stocks the usual stuff but has it's own personality - milk is delivered only once week on Tuesdays from Finland - so they runout by Wednesdays - lots of parmalat!
It's right next to the nursery school just down the block - a perfect location for afer school treats! This is a Montessorri school - read a newspaper article that this is something new in Russia. They can only go up to 6 years old. Sophia will go to the "big" school next year. (Mike "put in" to extend their stay but they haven't heard if it's been accepted yet)
There is one block in the complex of business people - lots of full time maids and nannies - chauffers AND second cars with bodyguards. So I'm not worried about security - since they don't lock the doors. I guess their not either!
The dgds won't speak in Russian for us but I've heard them reply to their teachers so they are learning. They wouldn't help me in the store even with a bribe - so much for my influence. They seem to have mastered the same skills American kids do at their age - so I'm not worried about them.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My feet hurt

Russian adventure update.
Mike took us for a tour of the Kremlin today. We walked for 4 hours - should have remembered the Kremlin was a fortress - hence on a hill. It's huge and lots of cobble stone and steps.
Saw some incredible stuff. Lots of coronation gowns, carriages, state gifts, etc. Cathedral Square has more churches than I thought - each is magnificent. They were setting up for the big New Year's Eve celebration - had to step over cables, etc. They had just delivered these elaborate ice sculptures of various sites in the Kremlin - hope the pictures will show the details. Since it is the government center, there are lots of restricted areas and police types.
Passed lots of vendors but didn't get to convert any money so I couldn't buy anything - this is a cash economy. Lots of various head gear - Amy and Claire would have ball trying things on me! Passed 2 MacDonalds and saw lots of American logos - there is a huge Mercedes symbol on a building in competition with the stars. The guide told us a lot about the skyline - the stars rotate with the wind but the crosses on churches are always aligned east to west. During WWII they were camoflauged in Moscow and removed in the countryside. Seems to have confused the Germans.
Rode the subway - very crowded and gets warm. Trains run about a minute apart - no one runs for a train or holds the doors or pushes - as clean as they advertise - marble stations - very deep - reminds me of London. I was surprised to see dogs in the stations - strays not guide ones. Mike said strays are all over Moscow. They aren't aggressive and roam by themselves - not in packs. The crows are 2 toned - grey bodies with black wings and heads that end in "collars". I didn't see any together to tell if the collar patterns are the same on each bird. There doesn't seem to be any accommodations for people with disabilities anywhere.
Lots of plain hair styles - guess hat hair is a common malady. Didn't notice any trash cans. There are people with booms sweeping everywhere - young men not old ladies. The only trash I saw was cigarette butts.
We had lunch in a fancy restaurant. They have "business lunch specials" - full meals at low prices. We had a salad, borcht, and some white fish with delicious mashed potatoes. We each had a bottle of water for our "cocktail" - all for 250 ruples (the exchange rate at Kenndy was 20:1) so that was less than $50 for the 3 of us - not bad because Lisa says a bottle of water at a restaurant goes for around $10!
People don't drink the tap water here - Brita must make a fortune!
There is a tram system - the red and yellow cars from "Doctor Zhivago" are still running! Traffic is horrendous - there doesn't seem to be any traffic lights. They must be there but you have to fight to make a left turn - not that much of a problem - everything is so backed up so you can just nose your way across. Hard to imagine the car race scenes in the Bourne movies! I can understand why Lisa won't drive here. No one walks across a street - there are underground passage ways for pedestriains - but in the middle of the block - adds to the walking.
I understand why Lisa says everything here is grey - the sun was out for maybe 10 minutes and it's dark around 4:30. They must use something like ashes instead of salt on the snow - the streets are clear but dirty - the cars are filthy. The people are well dressed - lots of fur, of course. Didn't notice many Ipods or people talking - everyone keeps to themsleves with down cast eyes - few smiles. Even the kids on school tours weren't fooling around. Noticable difference in attitudes from New Yorkers.
Have to get some sleep - body is fighting switching times.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Feets Warmers

May I present the Feets Warmers!

This was a very fun project. Essentially you make HUGE socks, then you felt them!

I put them thru one hot cycle with a big towel and pulled them out. I was almost crushed. There was no way theses suckers were going to fit on my feets! They were TINY like feets warmers for bound feet!. So I sat by the fire and delicately pulled them on my feets. They stretched very well! I propped my feets in front of the fire for a few minutes and they conformed PERFECTLY! I'm so happy with them and they were a snap to make! I feel more feets warmers in my future.

Question: What would happen if I doubled the strand? I want to make them extra thick. I wonder if this will effect the felting. Hmmmm might just have to try. They only took one ball of yarn. If it wasn't snowing and sleeting, I'd be off to the craft store!

Our Russian Adventure is about to begin

It's 6 AM Sunday - I can't believe the limo will be here in 6 hours! It's raining so the weather seems to be cooperating.
DGDs gowns are done - even the buttons are on. Doll gowns are also done! Cut the wings - but had to sew edges - they are fraying (sigh) I just keep telling myself they only have to make it through the pageant. I still have to sew on the velcro for the wings, hem 2 pair on pants and pack. Not panicing yet....
I'm bringing a notebook as I don't think I'll have too much computer time. I'm missing you all already - bye.

Friday, December 14, 2007

leeluu's needles

leeluu's needles
Originally uploaded by amynowacoski
LeeLuu the Pug Princess love knitting. It is so fun to chew on Mommy's yarn and to get it caught in her tail. She decided that she would try her paw at knitting herself. Well, sadly, that experiment did not go so well as she does not have opposable thumbs. Besides, she decided bamboo circular needles were much much delicious than yarn.

I am not a happy mommy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Nana Challenge Update

Things are almost on schedule. I put on one neck binding this morning before work. This stuff does not like to behave for stitching by hand. So – “only” need to finish the French seams, put in the sleeves and hem. Then it’s experimenting for the wings. Almost forgot possible gowns for the Biddies, sigh – but I still should make it.

Mitten production is another story. Only 6 rows to finish my second one. Don’t know if I stopped last night because I was tired or that I don’t like how it turned out – probably a combination. There is a noticeable difference in carrying the color in opposite hands, but I keep telling myself my hands aren’t next to each other often for anyone to notice. I’ll probably keep the ends visible so I can frog it later. It will do for now – need them for Sunday.

And we are well aware of the weather reports for Sunday, so we’re no encouraging any updates.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

and speaking of frogging...

This sort of ties back to my “Lazy Perfectionist” post… well not really…

See, I started this Head Band Thingie I found on Ravelry. I’m not a hat person, my hair is too big for hats (not 80’s big but not conducive to proper hat coverage) and since I live in the Great White North, having something on your head is important, lest your ears freeze off! Enter the Head Band Thingie. It’s a fairly simple pattern… a rib pattern where the rib increases from a k2/p2 rib to a k2/p5 and back down again.

Simple right?

Well right off the bat I started having issues. You are supposed to slip the first stitch on each row to create a stockinet edge. Well, I must be twisting it or something because I’m getting this intermittent bumpy edge.

Second, I forgot to count rows which means, I’m going to have to count it all up somehow on the decreases, not a bad problem just a pain.

Third, the pattern said to make all the increases on the right side rows. Well, I didn’t read that part and did it on the wrong side, then corrected it and did the next row of increases correctly BUT I like it better with the increases on the wrong side. So when I went to do one of the rounds of increases, I was having such a hard time increasing, purling into the front and back of one stick, that I decided to just pick up a stitch and just purl it... which resulted in a series of big holes in the fabric… AND I didn’t really love the yarn I was using anyway…

so 1/3 of the way into this little project, I ripped it all out. I’ll probably start it again. I’m not sure.

Why I should have listened to the voices in my head....

So I finally bit the bullet and I sat down last night with the new pattern and how much yarn it's going to take for the two throws I wanted to do (see earlier post).... Did the math...

(sorry mom)

Not going to be enough. Not even close. It would be more of a pillow cover (granted a large pillow, but still) than a throw. The voices in my head at the yarn sale that told me to buy extra, but alas, I chose not to listen to them. This is one situation where I can think that it WAS a good idea to listen to those voices... despite what the doctors say.

So I'm either going to completely frog what I have and start over - mind you, this would be the 6th time - and try to find an ok pattern this time around... or give up for now and try to find coordinating yarn at another time to make it big enough. I'm thinking option 2, a) because I have a list of things that I really do need before Christmas b) because I think I might snap if I have to work on it right now.

But maybe now I'll finally finish the hats I drunkenly promised my friends a while ago :)

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Nana Challenge

Nana Challenge
Nana Challenge,
originally uploaded by glassneedle.
These are the raw ingredients for the latest Nana Challenge. A request has been made for proper angel attire for the dgds to wear in the Christmas pageant. I have been an Angel Wing Commander for years, so I foolishly thought this would be easy. First, all the angel patterns were sold out and there wasn’t enough white satin for 2 robes. I thought nightgowns might be suitable substitutes and planned my attack. But my cold made other plans on how I was going to spend this Saturday. I won’t trust myself to handle sharp implements until the meds gain the upper hand. This wouldn’t be a problem if I had the usual deadline of Christmas Eve, but they have to be complete and in my suitcase next Sunday. Looks like I’m going to have an interesting week.

Pointy Sock

Pointy Sock
Originally uploaded by amynowacoski
The pointy sock! See, I'm not crazy. It is a very pointy sock. It does look good on the feets but I do like me some rounded toes!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sharp Socks?

So I got the first footie bootie from "One Skein" done and boy are the toes pointed! you could like do neurosurgery with them! Seriously, you could poke your eye out with them. Sis can tell you I have issues with pointy things on the feets. And the cuff is a bit looser than I'd like. They do look ok on the feets tho, so i'm not totally discouraged, I am however happy I did not make them out of my pretty yarn.

Neccessity over Kindness

OK, OK, still no major progress on the blankie-making front... I'm lazy and forgetful as I was supposed to bring it with me today to work on it on the subway - but I forgot it.

My defense is that last night was a weird one... managed to burn myself on steam coming off the pork chops pretty bad - nothing like the setting-myself-on-fire incident of last year, but it's pretty ouchie still... and then I hear this weird "BOOOOOOP" coming out of some piece of electronics in my living room. Turns out it was the carbon monoxide detector - not cool man. I throw open all the windows, and start poking at it... because it wasn't going of like an alarm, but rather like the battery was dying which is weird because the dang thing is plugged into the wall... but we poked at it some more, took the back up battery out, out it in again, pressed some buttons and it stops going off. So i don't think I'm going to die, well, not right now from that anyways...

That that's my excuse - injuries and near death experiences. That should be good enough to get me out of a nights crocheting, right?

But at the laundry mat tonight, am I going to be working on the squares for the lovely throw for one of my best friends? No... and why? Because it's freaking cold man. Like below freezing. My cute little hat that I made like 3 weeks ago, while adorable, is not very good at keeping the ears warm... so you know what I'm gonna do about it?


Yes, I am SO going there. So much so, I want to get polar fleece or flannel to line the inside of the flaps so I can keep the delicate ears all warm and toasty. Because yes, I am a delicate little flower. And standing on the elevated outdoor Queens subway platform in 15 degree wind chill is just not fun

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

that itchy feeling

I had now sooner put the new socks on my feets when I got that itchy i-must-knit-something feeling. I have 3 skeins of this beautiful silk/wool blend that I got at PurlSoho and I've been dying to knit it up. I can't find a pattern I like tho. I thought it was worsted weight and was going to make booties from OneSkein, but its DK weight and i'm not sure I can do the math to make them work. I had some craftstore cheapie red yarn left over from another project so I casted on the booties. I'm not sure how they'll turn out, they may be a bit too big in the cuff. Cables tend to expand, but we'll see how it goes. Anything to get the itch outta the fingers!!!

Monday, December 3, 2007


I'm done! The Jitterbug socks are done and feel so good on my feets! And yes, I am ignoring the aforementioned mistake.

By the way...

Just want to point out that while it may be "hip" to craft... I am not a hipster. I will allow my sister the fact hat she has been living out in the country for a while, but down here hipsters are rather particular sub-genre of urban dweller. Like all sub-genres, there are more, shall we say outre members of the community... who kinda give the whole group a bad name. Like the idiot I saw in 97 degree weather riding a bike and wearing a fur lined ear flap hat. I'm guessing he looked "cool"... did I mention it was August?

Why you shouldn't decide to do a DIY Holiday the last week of November...

I rather dislike giving presents that really have no function or just doesn't fit into someone's life style... Like I have a rather nice porcelain picture frame from a friend's mother that is quite lovely, but it happens to be covered in Irish proverbs and a whole lot of shamrocks. Which would be fine, if I was Irish. But with a long incomprehensible Polish last name, it some how doesn't really fit me or my home decor.

Two of my really good friends have gotten engaged to wonderful guys, and I wanted to make them some thing special for the holidays... and a really late engagement present. Suddenly it struck me - nice soft warm crocheted throws! Function, style, and the DIY aspects of it all made sense.

Too bad I only got the yarn last week.

A whole week, and you might think I have gotten somewhere... alas no. Apparently I have been having a pattern issue... or rather a pattern interpretation issue. I started one pattern, a simple sc/tc combination worked in rows across. Sounds simple, but I could not get the foundation chain right for the life of me. Tried it like 4 times, nada. Couldn't get it to add up right. Fine...

So I switch to a granny square pattern... looked really nice, but it did have one main issue... the pattern itself was not symmetrical. Which when I finished a block, it looked great, but the nonsesicalness of it not being even was driving me up a wall. I mean, why on earth was it not the same on both sides?!I did it like 4 times, and still made no sense.

On to the third set! I went to my trusty favorite block book, 200 Crochet Blocks, which I should have just done in the first place. Did a couple of demos in the yarn I'm using (Lion Brand Color Waves in "Pebble Beach" and Red Heart Casual Cot'n in "Black Grape" - not the greatest stuff to work with, but hey, I'm cheap!) and found 2 blocks I like so I can alternate them.

So I have 3 3/4 blocks done. Out of 40. I think these might be more New Years gifts... or even Valentines Day at this rate. Sigh... but should be making more progress that I have some idea of what's going on.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Cast of Characters

My dream is to get the whole Gang involved in this little blog project so I thought I'd introduce the Cast of Characters to you.

May I present....

The Mamajama. Matriarch, Enabler. The Mamajama is the driving force behind GlassNeedleArts. It is her dream to have a shop and share her obsessions (and nuttiness) with the world! The Mamajama's current obsessions are: Knitting, quilting, tatting, just about anything that gives her an excuse to go to a craft store.

Poppy. Patriarch, Driver. Poppy begrudgingly humors our crafting madness and is ever so kind to drive the Mamajama on said craft store adventures. Oh yeah, and he makes the most fabulous stained glass creations you could ever imagine.

Claire. Crocheter, Mensa Brat. Claire is the hipster in the group, keeping tabs on the fashion trends and what the cool kids are doing. And yes, she really is a member of Mensa. Brat.

The Russians. We may on occasion make reference to "The Russians". You see, we are not a normal family. The Bro, his wife and the neices now live in Russia. I could tell you why they are there but then I'd have to kill you. Loose lips sink ships.

LeeLuu. Pug Monster, Direction Eater. Ah, the joys of the pug. LeeLuu loves to help with crafty adventures by getting her curly tail tangled in the yarn you're working, or eating directions, laying on your freshly washed fabric, or getting scrapbook paper stuck to her feets. She's very helpful. Bonus points if you can tell me where her name comes from!

Amy. Action Plan Girl, Tinkerer. Yup this is me. I do a little bit of everything. From knitting to origami.

Now, on with the show!!

The Lazy Perfectionist

Yes, I am a lazy perfectionist. Here's what I mean...

I'm knitting a sock out of the Jitterbug yarn using the pattern that came with the skein (written on the tag that identifies the color and stuff. I only recently discovered this was called a "Ballband", go figure since its not a ball, stay on track Amy!)

So I knitted the first sock with really no problem. The Mamajama and I disagreed on the meaning of one set of instructions but Ravelry came to the rescue (more on Ravelry later). Anywho, I knitting up the second sock and I notice a mistake on the instep part.

For you non-knitters, and brief introduction to sock knitting. Now to make a sock all you really need to do is knit a tube, and sew it up at the end and voila! You have a tube sock! That is not really the preferred method. A tub sock will get bunchy on the top of your foot and stretched thin on your heel. Most sock patters have you knit a tube in the round (either on several needles or with the new spiffy Magic Loop technique, more on that later too!). The you usually divide the stitches in half and knit half for a few inches to make a flap, conveniently called "The Heel Flap". Then you pick up some extra stitches along the edges of the flap you just made and go back to knitting in the round. What you've done is add extra fabric to accommodate the heel, and widened the sock so that it will fit the wide part of your foot across the instep. After you pick up these stitches and start knitting, you decrease by knitting together (k2tog or ssk) so that you have a smaller tube on the ball of your foot. Then you decrease for the toe. That's the basics really.

So to decrease for the instep you usually decrease one stitch on each side of the foot one round, and then you knit plain (with no decreases) on the next round. I missed a decrease round on one side of the sock. So I'll have two plain knitted rounds and two decreased rounds in a row. This kills me because it is not perfect. But I was too lazy to go back and unkint it and knit it again. Every time I wear the sock, I'll know its not perfect. Will anyone else ever notice? Nope. But I'll know. Oh yes, I'll know.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

It has begun!

On a dark and stormy night (ok, it was really mid afternoon and it was actually pretty sunny) my Sister and I received a package.... of... knitting lessons.

And the world ceased to exist as we knew it.

You see, my mom, known affectionately as The Mamajama, went on a rampage declaring that traditional crafts like knitting and tatting were dying out and that she was duty bound by her ancestral heritage of nutty women to bestow onto her daughters the fine art of making things for yourself.

Every generation of my family has had an artist of some kind. Nana painted china. Grandpa work wood. Dad fashions stained glass. Mom does almost anything with a needle (get it, "glass" and "needle"!?) If my ancestors wanted a pretty dress to be married in, they made it. If they needed socks to warm their feets, they knitted.

And so began our adventure into Quirky Art. In these pages, you will find the crafting and creating adventures of the Glass Needle Artists.