Mystery House


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Loot! category.

Pretties

I just love buttons.

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Flea Market Finds!

Flea Market Stuff 1

Oooh, stuff for projects!  And yes, there are Ts on those letter blocks.

Flea Market Stuff 3

Comic books and groovy barware for the M.E.

Flea Market Stuff 2

The pan makes miniature corn sticks.  And that ashtray?  Be still my heart.  It’s one of the best I’ve ever found, and it was seriously underpriced at $5.  I would have been thrilled with it at three or four times the price.

Grey Pearl Buttons
Gorgeous, yes?  They’re for this:

Circumnavigated Armhole
That’s one of the armholes on my Circumnavigated Cardigan.  I’m working on the raglan decreases now.  This sweater is about a billion tons of fun to make, because the construction is so interesting, and something about that makes it seem to go quickly.  I’m definitely making another one — and I don’t often make more than one of the same sweater pattern.

I can’t wait to wear this!

Armhole w Buttons


A Very Long Post About Tools

Each of my pursuits requires a different set of tools, and I’ve always believed in buying good ones and taking care of them.  These brushes?

Tools 3

I’ve had them since college.  Which was a long time ago.  No, I’m not telling.  Yeah, a few are taped, but I’ve never had to throw one out, and that’s because I paid the money for good ones, even way back when I I was a student and really couldn’t afford it.  Cheap brushes fall apart in no time, and they leave a trail of bristles on whatever you’re painting.  These don’t.  I’d be sad without them.

Bonsai tools.

Tools 2

I’m a newbie, big time.  Not much idea what I’m doing.  Bonsai tools can be incredibly expensive, so these are not top of the line, but they’re really good, Japanese-made tools.  Solid, and very, very sharp.  You could just about take your arm off with those scissors.  (I’m trying not to do that.)

I have far too many kitchen tools.  I won’t even go there.

Writing tools, for my real work

Tools 1

A small representative sample, that is.  I’m a pen geek.  I won’t show you all the pens.  Or the bottled ink.  Or the pencils.  Or the journals.  Not today.

Okay, maybe just a little ink.  In case Dan stops by.  He’s into ink, too, and may want to see the latest acquisitions.

Tools 15

Clay tools.

Tools 4

I’m finding my clay mojo again, and since all my old tools vanished in the House That Ate Things, I’m acquiring new ones.

I love my tools.  Every single one of them.  But what I’m really working up to here are these.

Tools 5

I’m surprised — and annoyed — everytime I see a post on Ravelry which goes something like this:  I want to knit a pattern that calls for size seven needles and I don’t have any.  Do you think I could maybe use tens instead, because I have tens and I don’t want to pay all that money for sevens?

See, hobbies aren’t about money.  (Even though you can certainly spend a great deal of money on them, and even though I’ve been known to do that.)  Hobbies are about what you love to do.  Love to do.  If you need size seven needles, find a way to get some.  There are thrift stores and garage sales and friends who might be willing to loan out their needles, and knitting moms and grandmas who’d love to share.  Actually, a decent pair of needles doesn’t cost all that much more than a cappuccino at Starbucks, and I rarely hear people complaining they can’t afford that.

The way I see it, if you don’t want to invest in tools for your hobby, then you don’t really love it.  Because people who really love something always find a way, even if they have absolutely no money.  Click here, scroll down to the January 9th post and read about the woman who wanted to crochet a baby blanket but didn’t have a crochet hook, so she made one herself.  You won’t believe what she used.  This is why I say that if you claim you can’t afford needles, maybe you don’t really love knitting and just want to do it because everybody else is doing it.  So don’t knit.  Go do something you really love.  It’s okay.

Well.  Now that I’m finished with my little tool rant for the morning, would you like to see some needles?  I’ve started collecting them, and I’m finding that to be a good thing, because it seems that no matter how many pairs of size nines or sevens or whatever I have, I’m always one short when I need one.

My mom is knitting again after a long hiatus, but decided she had too many needles and only wanted to keep one pair in each size.  Go figure.  So she gave me a big bag of them at Easter, knowing I’d give them a good home.

Wooden ones.

Tools 11

Plastic and plastic-coated metal ones.

Tools 9

Vintage metal.

Tools 10

Wonderful stuff.  And yes, I will use them all.  (Just not all at once.)  Thanks, Mom!  Mom doesn’t read this blog.  Or any blog.  But I’m sending thank you vibes out in the air.

I get asked now and then–usually at my knitting group, where, for awhile, the same woman was asking me a variation on this same question every week and it’s a damn good thing she stopped because I was ready to brain her–if I only use straight needles.  No.  Or only use circular needles.  No.

I like straight, circular, dpns…each kind suits a different purpose, and I have lots of each of them.  (I should–I’ve been accumulating them since at least the early 1980’s.)

Tools 14

Tools 13

Tools 12

Some projects just feel better with certain needles.  Same thing goes for material.  I like wood, plastic, metal, bamboo, depending on the yarn I’m using, the kinds of stitches I’m doing, and the gauge.  I hate bamboo for lace.  I love it for slippery ribbon.  In other words, you can’t pin me down about needles.

I just love knitting needles.  All knitting needles.  Can’t get enough of them.  I respect them as tools for my favorite hobby, and love the charm and aesthetic and history of them.

Some eye candy now, since you’ve been so kind as to read all this (or at least skim it):

Vintage needles from Australia, many of them made by Patons.

Tools 8

Tools 7

Tools 6

They have a fabulous feel to work with, but the sizing is different from U.S. sizing, so I tend to use them for things where gauge isn’t an issue.  I’m keeping my eyes open for more.  And I do think I probably need a few more pink vases now, too…




Flea Market Finds

Very fancy T.

Fancy T

Very small barn.

Small Barn

Alien, just in case.

A Grey

Buttons.  The green ones are bakelite.

Green Buttons

Subway token and clock key.  Probably for projects.

Key and Token

Wooden basket.  For knitting room, if I paint it pink.  Or not, if I don’t.

Red Wooden Basket


Ever Had a Bad Dream About a Yarn Shop?

I did, last night, about the shop I visited yesterday afternoon. I don’t often get to this shop because
it’s way on the other side of town from me, but we were nearby because
the M.E. wanted to pay a visit to his favorite hobby store, so I couldn’t not stop in.
I won’t mention which one it was, because in reality nothing bad happened there.  It was just fine, and I found two gorgeous skeins of laceweight (more about that in a minute).

In my dream, I was at the counter in the same store.  The clerk rung up my yarn, and it was $237!  For two skeins!  I looked in the bag and discovered that they’d thrown in a bunch of stuff I hadn’t wanted.  Weird stuff.  Some of it wasn’t even yarn — like a stack of small, bad paintings on canvas board.  The receipt was full of mistakes.  I panicked, tried to get them to undo it, but people kept pushing in front of me in line and nobody seemed too inclined to fix my pesty little problem.  It was getting late, I tried to call my husband and tell him why I was still at the shop….and then I woke up.

Thank goodness that in real life, this gorgeousness was rung up properly:

Green Lacey Lamb
Lacey Lamb in a marvelous shade of chartreuse.  I love chartreuse, and don’t encounter it in the form of yarn often enough.  There was a shade card hanging next to the yarn display, and this color wasn’t on it.  I tried to ask the clerk which was more current, the yarn or the color chart, but she was rather clueless about the whole thing.  (Just clueless!  Not a nightmare!)

Then there was this:

Cooper Yarn

Of course, the color won’t come through properly on your monitor — it doesn’t on mine.  This is J. Knits Lace-A-Licious in a perfect, warm shade of camel.  I’ve been searching for this precise hue for a very special project, and I got lucky.  Camel-colored yarn is also incredibly hard to find.  This is huge skein of soft alpaca:  1200 yards.

If you can figure out why I had a yarn shop nightmare after scoring loot like this, you’re a better shrink than I am!


Things I Learned in Florida

You may have deduced that I’ve been away.  I’m back now, and wondering why none of you stopped over and did the yard work.

Well, despite your falling down on the job, I’ll share some revelations with you.  See, the M.E. and I went on a long drive.  A very long drive.  To Florida.  And you can’t take a drive like that without learning a thing or two.  This is what I learned:

1)  Florida, since the last time I visited, has not improved.  It is still ridiculously hot, steamy, buggy, ugly, and full of crooks, seriously crappy antique malls and people who have never tried out the turn signals in their cars.  Nevertheless, it is possible to have a good time there.  And we had a very good time.

2)  Good knitting intentions go straight out the window when I am on vacation.  I packed five projects.  I dabbled with only three of them, and accomplished a pathetic amount despite the fact that the M.E. did most of the driving and all I had to do was sit there, chat, dig around in the snack bag and study the map.

Florida Knitting

3)  Poker is more fun than I thought it would be, particularly with my in-laws.  We cleaned their clocks and won back our gas money.

4)  Florida yarn shops (actually, “shop”) just don’t get it.  I expected that, since they have little need for wool in such a climate.  But still.  There’s just no excuse to stock that damn much eyelash yarn, even if you are located in West Palm Beach.  There’s also no excuse to jack prices up far beyond what I’ve ever seen in any yarn shop, anywhere, ever.  And if a customer asks if you stock laceweight, please do not attempt to give her a lecture about how crochet cotton is the best thing to use.  Really, it’s not endearing.

5)  If, however, a store happens to put all wool on sale for 40% off on the very day that I visit it, Koigu and Jitterbug will still prove to be great bargains, even if the regular prices at the store in question are downright preposterous.

Florida Yarn

6)  The South (I’m talking Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama, now) is full of great places to have ribs, fried catfish, fried okra and greens.  I knew this, of course, but took great pleasure in being reminded.  We stumbled across this amazing place, the Bootleg BBQ, in Louisville:

Bootleg BBQ 1

I even tried fried chicken livers at my new favorite joint, Green Acres, in Birmingham.  (Sorry, didn’t get a picture.  It’s a little green box of a place.)  I’m smitten, and eternally grateful to the hotel desk clerk who fessed up to his favorite place to eat and didn’t try to send us to some damn chain restaurant.  The M.E. has now been charged with the task of learning how to make fried chicken livers, since we can’t drive to Birmingham again before I become desperate.

7)  Birmingham also has an excellent art museum.  Well worth a visit.  I’d say that if you’re anywhere within two states of Alabama, you should veer in that direction, see some art and then pick up catfish at Green Acres.  I miss that catfish already.

8)  A Porsche is really not the best vehicle to take grocery shopping at Costco.  Those two little trunks fill up far more quickly than a grocery cart does, and then the passenger (that would be me) winds up sitting under a massive box of potato chips.

9)  Grouper is fabulous.  I could eat grouper every day.  Unless I was eating catfish, fried chicken livers or ribs.

10)  I still do not like boats.

11)  A really cool lizard that lives behind the rocks around the pool at my in-laws’s place will not make an appearance if he knows you are coming to visit and are dying to see him.  Any other day, he appears like clockwork about 9:00 am and puts on a show by running across the pool.  Evidently, he has an aversion to being seen by visitors from Minnesota.

12)  Ashburn, Georgia has a Fire Ant Festival every March.  Who knew?  I’m so bummed we missed it.

13) The Bourbon Trail, in Kentucky, is one of the very, very coolest things to see in the South.  Particularly the tour of the Maker’s Mark distillery.  That place smells so good I could move in.  This is what the fermenting mash looks like.  The yeast goes so crazy that small waves and explosions actually develop in the tanks:

Makers Mark 1

We learned the proper way to taste bourbon, and may have had a wee bit too much fun in the gift shop.  I signed up to be a Maker’s Mark ambassador, which means that my name goes on one of the barrels and in about six years when that batch is ready, we’ll make another trip to Kentucky.  Why?  Because we’ll be able to buy two bottles of single barrel sippin’ bourbon.  From my own personal barrel.  Obviously, this was irresistible.

14)  I only need to eat Cheetos about once every five years.  I may be ready for some about the time we go pick up that bourbon.

15)  It’s worth it to pay the highway-robbery-level tolls on the Florida Turnpike, because the road is better and the restrooms are much better than on I-95.  Costs nearly 15 bucks to drive from one end of Florida to the other.  In Illinois, however, the tolls are really and truly highway robbery because they charge you a lot of money and then provide roads so crappy they should have to pay you to drive on them.

16)  I’m lucky.  I knew this — just like I knew the South is full of fabulous food — but it’s nice to be reminded.  I have such a great husband that I miss him because he’s at the office today, even though we just spent every minute of every day for the past ten days together.  (Unless one of us was in the bathroom.)  I have wonderful in-laws whom I adore and who adore me, even though we weren’t so sure about each other when we first met.  My life is good.  I might bitch about Florida (Because really?  Florida is ew.), but I’m happy that we went, fortunate that we were able to make the trip, and lucky that all went well, we had a blast, and got home safely.  So even though much of what’s on this list is about other places along the way, I still learned it all in Florida.  And I wouldn’t mind going back.


Was There Yarn?

Yes, there was yarn!


Sandwiched between the deep blue laceweight and the lilac bulky merino from Handpainted Yarn (both courtesy of the M.E.) is some beautiful Vesper sock yarn given to me by Amy.  Mmm…Neapolitan ice cream feet coming up!  I’ve got lace projects in mind for both of the others.  Shoot, I’ve got lace projects in mind for these, too:


I loved working with Schaefer Laurel so much that I may have hinted a wee bit that I might possibly sorta want more for Christmas.  Oh happy day, I’ve now got enough for a shawl, in the Billie Holiday color.  And on the right is STR Laci in Oregon Red Clover Honey, because I’ve been dying–dying, I say–to make this.

Knitting is very much on my mind as 2008–2008, isn’t that crazy?  Remember when that sounded all far away and sci-fi and everything?–begins.  I have such an embarrassment of riches to work with (on top of the embarrassment I already had), and I’m excited about every one of these projects.  Huge thanks to Amy and to my incredibly wonderful husband!  You guys know how to keep me off the streets.


In Which a Mysterious Box Arrives


Hmm.  FedEx.  Weighs a ton.  Only one person would send us a FedEx this heavy and covered with duct tape.  Yup.  It’s from the M.E.’s father.  This could be anything.


Okay….it’s a plastic bag.  Some sort of new Christmas gift wrapping technique, perhaps?  The ties are red, at least.  Clearly, the M.E.’s mother had nothing to do with wrapping it–this could really be anything.


Best to let the inspector have a look at it first.


He’s finding it VERY interesting.  What could it be?


The inspector calls in reinforcements to assist with opening the bag.  (Just in case.)


Extra sniffing is required.


Ooh!  Could it be?


It is!  Organic oranges, grapefruit, lemons and avocados from my FIL’s trees, picked the morning they were shipped.  Believe me, the fruit in the store tastes like citrus-colored crayons compared to this stuff.  I see some really amazing ambrosia in our future.  Thanks, Dad!  Now this is Christmas.


Happy Mailbox Tales


That’s the yarn I’ll be packing up soon to send to knittingnovice.  Two skeins of Karaoke wool/soy silk, and two skeins of hand dyed Mystical Creations rayon.  I hope she’ll like her loot.

My mailbox is happy because of the marvelous packages that have recently arrived; one I expected and one which was a complete surprise.  I’ll have to come up with extra special projects for both of these gifts.

I knew that some lovely yarn would arrive courtesy of Quiddity, because I won a contest on her blog.


And lucky me, it’s just beautiful.  Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock in Jeans, which perfectly suits me since I’m nearly always in jeans when I leave the house.  She threw in some cute notecards, too.  Thanks very much, Quiddity!  I love it.

Here’s what I wasn’t expecting, another gorgeous skein of blue which went a long way towards banishing the blues.


From my dear friend Amy, gorgeous Malabrigo laceweight in Alpine Pearl, with a Day of the Dead card that’s a work of art.  I intend to frame it.

Inside the card was this:



Could that be any cuter?

Amy’s intention was to give me a thank you gift for something I did to help her out, but when she heard I was having a rough time last week she was sweet enough to send it early.  It arrived exactly at the right moment and was a beautiful reminder of how important it is to have a good friend in your corner.  Yarn can be a nice reminder of friendship, can’t it?  Thanks so much, Amy!


Things in the Mail

I love days when the mailbox has good things in it.  Things which are not bills.  Things which are in no way drama.  Things like…

Yarn Addicts Pink Dream, the gorgeous yarn I won in the August Sockamania drawing.  It’s such a perfect color, I’m torn between socks and lace.  It would make the prettiest socks, wouldn’t it?  But the color’s so good on me, I’d love to have it wrapped around my shoulders.  Hmm.  I’ll leave it out where I can look at it, until I decide.  Thank you, Anni, for such a fabulous gift!  I’m thrilled.

In my email box this morning was another nice thing.  My Ravelry invitation!  There’s one problem, though.  Someone seems to have run off with the name Miss T already.  This will not do.  I’m Miss T.  I can’t sign up until I come up with another name!