Friday, December 21, 2007

Happy Holidays

From our family to yours.

Peace and goodwill to all.


Runty the Cat

Billy the Bear

Monday, December 03, 2007


Memories are made of this

I was going through Bill's clothes to donate them when I came across his flannel shirts. He has several of them and I thought something could be made from them to remember him by. Thus Billy was born.

I found this pattern at JoAnn's :

I don't sew that well, but the patterns and the instructions are very clear and I could follow them pretty easily.

Billy was born.

Here he is, sitting in Bill's favorite chair. But wait. Even though he was made from a shirt, he still needed a shirt, don't you think?

Here we go. That's better.

Here are Billy and Billy 2. Billy 2 was given to Bill's daughter Erica. He was made from a shirt that she gave to him two Christmases ago. Now she has the shirt back. And more.

I will be making more Billys. Each of the grandchildren will get one on his/her birthday. Billy, of course, will stay with me.
In the meantime I did some knitting.

A honeycomb vest. A present for Erica.

Another honeycomb. This time a cardigan sweater/jacket. This one is mine. It looks just like Runty.

And that little guy was inspecting Granddaughter Ingrid's Wonderful Wallaby.

This last picture has nothing to do with Teddy bears, knitting or cat, but it's so pretty I decided to include it anyway. Here are the trees in the Shenandoah National Park one foggy morning in November as we drove along the Skyline Drive hoping to see the Fall foliage and instead encountering ... ice and snow!

Pretty anyway, eh?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hi, there

I'm back.

You may have thought I have moved to Mars. Believe me, there were times I was tempted....

I was in Thailand visiting my folks for a month. Thailand, especially Bangkok, has changed a lot, physically and socially, for better and worse, in my humble opinion. One thing was for certain: having been gone for five years I found myself a stranger in a place I once called home. My parents' house where I grew up remained unchanged but everything else around it was unrecognizable.

Skyscrapers overshadow gilded temple spires and the golden arches of MacDonald's tower over street vendors. I am not sure I like this modernization of Thailand. I went to the Temple of the Emerald Buddha to seek out the old, familiar, peaceful site of the most serene, most revered place in the country.

Thank Goodness it's still there. The giants and the monkeys from the Indian epic of Ramayana are still holding up the gilded pagoda.

Aren't they adorable? Here's a close-up.
That's a monkey holding up a pagoda. Here is a giant guarding an entrance to the temple.
And now for one change I will never complain about.

Bangkok used to be notorious for traffic jams. It still is. But one improvement since my last visit is that you no longer have to negotiate (translation: haggle) the prices with taxi drivers. Taxi drivers in Bangkok now are relatively new, clean, air-conditioned, and HAVE METERS! You flag on down, tell him you destination and hop in! No more haggling over prices, no more holding up the traffic! Small wonder!

On top of that, they come in wonderful colors. Have you ever seen such candy-colored cabs elsewhere? I call them M&M on wheels...

In pink..
And Blue..
And purple...

And in red, of course

They also come in orange.

And apple green
And sunny yellow
And even two-toned!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The joy of life.
Five reasons to carry on.






Five reasons for this grandma to carry on.

And Runty too, of course!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

I knit

Therefore I am.

I have been knitting for just over three years. It has changed my life. I learned how to knit at the Knit Out in Washington DC and started knitting when Bill became ill. I picked up the needles and never put them down. I walked into the Yarn Barn and started a stash and a friendship, both of which continue to grow. I knitted while waiting for the doctors, for the tests, for the test results. I knitted as I learned there was no cure for Bill's dementia, that they didn't know exactly what it was, that they didn't know what caused it, and that they didn't know how to treat it. I knitted as I learned his brain was dying, but I didn't know why, nor how long it would take, nor how fast.

I knitted scarves. I knitted socks. And vests. And sweaters. For me, for him, for friends. I knitted.

Knitting brought me joy, solace, peace. Knitting brought me comfort and peace. Knitting kept me sane.

For three years I knitted as I tended to a dying husband. Until finally he was ready to go. His tired brain had had enough.

I put down my needles.

I told him it was okay for him to go. I told him I would be okay. I told him not to worry. I told him I would carry on.

I told him I would knit on.

I knit; therefore, I am.

Friday, July 20, 2007


My sweet William

William Henry Schauer

December 28, 1943 - July 5, 2007

Good Night, my love. Sleep tight.

Godspeed, my love, till you are mine again.

Monday, July 09, 2007

My Two Homes

A tale of two countries. Mine.

Last week the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC hosted the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall. The festival showcases cultures around the world and the U.S. This year three cultures were selected: Northern Ireland, cultural roots of Virginia and life on the lower Mekong River. The Virginia celebrates the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement. The Mekong River portion features life and culture of the people of the countries along the lower Mekong River: China's Yunan province, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and my native Thailand.

Isn't that a great coincidence? My hometown of Thailand and my adopted state of Virginia were celebrated at the same time! Two totally different cultures from the opposite side of the globe merged into one on the National Mall. I am so proud.

Here are some pictures from the festival. First Virginia.

This is a replica of the John Smith boat. Where is Pocahonthas?

Carving a mortar from wood..

And one from clay..

An early settler showing you how to make a wooden tomahawk.

And the essential whiskey barrel.

A native American dancing.

And an all-American quilt.

Now on to the Mekong River.

String musical instruments from northeastern Thailand.

Yunan people weaving.

And weaving from Cambodia.

A loom from Thailand.

And a close-up of the woven silk.

My two homes. I am so proud to be a part of both.

Monday, June 25, 2007

It's all in the wood

As in rosewood and ebony.

I have been having issues with knitting cotton for a long while. No matter what I did I could not get or maintain gauge. First I would have to drop down several needle sizes to obtain gauge, then have to constantly measure my work and adjust my tension to maintain the gauge, which is a real pain in the neck. I rarely have gauge problems with wool or wool blend. I thought it was the texture and pile of the cotton yarn. I seem to have much better result with tightly twisted yarn like Karabella Zodiac than with Nashua Ecologie Cotton.
Then I discovered Susanne's and Holz & Stein needles.

I was knitting primarily with Addi Turbo or Denise Interchangeable Needles. I tried Crystal Palace bamboo needles before but did not like the joins which always catch yarn.

Then I heard about Susanne's ebony and rosewood needles and got a pair of ebony to try. They are wonderful. The joins still catch the yarn once in a while, but not enough to annoy you.

The best, is the Holz & Stein needles from Germany.

The ebony is the Susanne's and the rosewood is H&S:

The Susanne's has metal joins where as H&S has none. That's pretty much the only difference between the two but it makes a world of difference. I was able to get gauge! No more loosey-goosey stitches!

I realized my problems were (apart from loosely-piled yarn) the needles. I love Addi Turbo. However, the Addi does not grab the yarn and while there is no problem with wool, there is with cotton. My stitches are too loose and flopping all over the place, making it impossible to maintain gauge.

The top is Addi Turbo, the bottom H0lz & Stein. Both are Ecologie Cotton knitted on #6 needles. The stitches achieved with the Addi are much looser and the gauge far off. The Holz & Stein, however, gives me much neater stitches and the correct gauge.

Yeah!! I can knit with cotton now!

This is Evie, a free pattern from Debbie Bliss. I am knitting it in Blue Sky organic cotton. The pattern calls for needles size 8 and I got gauge with Holz& Stein size 8. Way to go! The only drawback is that the Holz & Stein are very hard to find, and pricey to boot. You can get them at Catherine Knits (you need to call; they don't have online ordering) or at Knitty Noddy . At $30 a pair they are an investment, but in my opinion they are worth every penny!

In the meantime the zucchini plants are producing.

I picked five more zucchini over the weekend. So far I have had nine, which is nine more than I had last year.

Things are looking good in my knitting and gardening world!

Happy knitting.