Thursday, December 28, 2006


Knit that bundle of joy a sarcophagus!

For some reason, the little shaver doesn't look too happy...

Wiener Wrap, or What I Knit For My Dachshund

Here's Buster encountering Peggy, my inlaws' German shorthair. This creation is one I saved out of a slew of sweaters I knit to sell last winter, before I became gainfully employed. The dang sweater collection has done nothing but languish--all last holiday season at a doggie boutique, then all last spring, summer and early fall at a LYS for their biweekly sidewalk sale coinciding with the Hillsboro Farmers' Market, and now at a local pet supply store. Whateva. They'll come in handy as gifts for the next decade or so.

Buster is modeling the "Halloween" or "Oregon State Beavers" themed sweater. However, it's a bit on the longish side, especially the chest piece--so he's always piddling on it! Fortunately, it's made of Encore (orange) and Cascade 220 Superwash (black.) I can just pop it in the washer. For more formal occasions, here's an oldie but goodie: the KISS logo sweater I knit just for him. SPECIAL NOTE TO GENE SIMMONS' ATTORNEYS: The pictured KISS logo sweater was knit by me for my own personal use; no reproductions of the band's logo have been made to sell, nor have I attempted to sell my original design of the garment.

OK, now that we've got the legalese out of the way, here is the pic:

I even made an Excel chart for the intarsia. Party on!

Monday, December 25, 2006


Made for each other

Now, a great guitar and a great guitar player are united!

It's been nothing short of a great Christmas here at chez Chickenlips. The shopping, wrapping, visiting, feasting and gifting are complete. Instead of post-holiday letdown, I'm experiencing a mellow tryptophan high courtesy of the turkey-with-all-the-fixin's I spent all day cooking and 15 minutes eating. At least I don't have to do the dishes! I was serenaded through most of the kitchen prep (now I know what a Gibson Les Paul sounds like) and the man in the picture is now on cleanup duty.

Since this is one rockin' household, and the metal just keeps grinding louder, may I present the lyrics to Twisted Sister's "Heavy Metal Christmas":

"On my heavy metal Christmas my true love gave to me--
12 silver crosses; 11 black mascaras; 10 pairs of platforms; 9 tattered T-shirts; 8 pentagrams;
7 leather jackets; 6 cans of hairspray; 5 skull earrings; 4 quarts of Jack; 3 studded belts; 2 pairs of spandex pants; And a tattoo of Ozzy!"

Because Sometimes You Gotta Eat

No Suzy Homemaker am I, nor should we even mention the name Martha. Since I've never been big on decorated sugar cookies, but am a chocoholic of the first order, this is my take on the Christmas cookie. My brother shares the love, so this is his plate. The recipe is called "French Pistachio Butter Creams," and it's from a Ladies Home Journal of about 10 years ago. Which, coincidentally, is about how long I've been making these goodies at Christmas.

Still Knitting

Now that I've finished my dad's Trekking socks, I'm free to resume work on other WIP's. I'm ready to begin the back armhole shaping on Salt Peanuts. A progress photo will accompany next post.

Oh, and...


Friday, December 22, 2006


Y'all are gonna love this

Last post, I carried on so much with the boring, work-related crap that I forgot to mention the wonderful Miss Doxie, aka Leigh. An Atlanta attorney with a small herd of dachshunds, Miss Doxie blogs about such subjects as wiener dogs, her boyfriend Dukay, and getting drunk and buying shoes online, although not necessarily in that order. Her delightful humor and original "Bad Wiener" drawings have garnered her a fiercely loyal readership, and lucky us--Leigh opened her online store, Shop Doxie, just in time for Christmas. I bought three packs of gift tags, and they came beautifully packaged with a personal note. The lady is a dynamo, what can I say. The tag pictured reads "this for you! You better like it." That is one of my favorites, along with Bad Wiener wearing a Santa hat that's too big for him, with the message, "merry damn christmas." (The lowercase captioning somehow seems to boost the cute factor and drollery.)

Friends, if you own a dachshund or three, or know someone who does, you owe it to yourself to spend some time in Miss Doxie's world. She manages to make the subject of poop funny without going down to the grade-school level. Although I must admit, dachshund persons such as myself deal with copious amounts of poop where it shouldn't be on a regular basis, so it's either laugh about it or get rid of the damn dog! And even though today Jimmy grabbed my unfinished Trekking sock and ran around the house with it while I sat at the computer, rendering the yarn a hopeless tangle, and is generally a poop manufactory of the first magnitude, I put him in the pet carrier for a desperately needed time out...but get rid of him? Never.

It's a sickness. Has to be.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


It's not exactly Christmas at our house

Rather, it's KISSmas.

It's a simple recipe: take one lump of school-fundraiser cookie dough purchased by the hapless Jason from a coworker. Roll out between sheets of waxed paper and cut into circles using a drinking glass, because who can find the dang cookie cutters? Bake and watch them spread out into pillowy masses that touch each other. Cut apart with a spatula and cool on racks. Buy tubes of black, red, white and blue decorator's icing, and turn Michelle and Heidi loose to create art while they blast KISS CD's. Let cookies languish in a Tupperware container for ten days, then throw away.

Back To Our Regularly Scheduled Knitting

The first Trekking sock. Good thing I put out my holiday tablecloth, as it makes the color melange more visible. I'm about to do the heel turn of the second sock, so they just might be ready to be wrapped up for Christmas.

I liked working with the Trendsetter Dune so much that I picked up some more sparkly fuzzy stuff--something called "Heavenly." It'll be enough to make another Lacy Scarf of about 60" length.

This Was Almost a 3-Minute Pity Party

How appropriate that on the winter solstice, the shortest and thus darkest day of the year, my job-related frustration was at its most intense. I've been working since late September on a project without a project manager (the designated PM has been too busy being an account manager, and is out of the office three days out of every five,) so I scrounged for any type of work I could find to keep me busy, often doing grunt work for other PM's. As gently as I could, I nudged the powers that be to keep in contact with the agency to whom they outsourced 75 percent of the formatting, so that I could avoid a big crunch just before final delivery. Well, the infrequent and substance-free blog posts should tip off the alert reader to the fact that nobody listened to me, because I got slammed this week, and have been working my ass off. This morning I made up my mind that I was going to take tomorrow off, deadlines be damned, because I haven't finished shopping, and haven't begun baking and gift wrapping. Not to mention, I haven't begun enjoying! All the things I listed are things I look forward to doing for Christmas every year, for myself as well as my family. But if I'm constantly rushing to and from work/keeping us all in clean underwear/doing all the other various and sundry chores, while trying to give attention to my too-numerous knitting projects, the Christmas stuff becomes just another "to-do", no fun at all. Add to that a non-verbal guilt trip from the boss, compounded by a worsening skin infection I've had for most of the year that I can't get rid of (the dermatologist can't see me until January 9,) and you've got a seriously bummed-out Chickenlips on your hands.

But like I said, it's almost a pity party, because the payoff came when I least expected it! The PM deposited a $25 Starbucks gift card on my desk, made out to "Angelina Jolie" (awww) from "Santa," and sent me an email on which he cc'd my boss, the Ops Manager and company president, singing my praises to the skies for keeping the project on track and just generally being a classy sort of gal.

I ended up getting tomorrow off, with only one volume to work on at home over the next five days. To quote The Who, "I call that a bargain...the best I ever had!"

Saturday, December 16, 2006


All I want for Christmas is yarn...

Dang, I've been so busy with work that I missed this week's Wayback Wednesday pic. Sorry! Hey, were yarn skeins really that big in 1971? I mean, looka' the size of 'em, they're almost as big as her head! (The skeins. Chee.) Although I'm not a crocheter, I love this pic. It conveys that feeling I've had, of being breathlessly eager to get that just-purchased bagful of yarn home from the LYS/Michaels/Jo-Ann/Craft Warehouse or wherever, and start stitching. Whether your pleasure is 100% cashmere, 100% acrylic, or somewhere in between, Chickenlips is not here to judge. I just hope that if yarn is your vision of sugarplums, you get yourself lots of it! And if it isn't...well, whatever floats your boat, but hey--this is a knitting blog, after all.

The Christmas Song That Always Gets Me

I keep my alarm radio tuned to Soft Rock 103, which throughout December has been billing itself as "The Christmas Station." No aficionado of Christmas music am I, but interspersed with the wistful "Where Are You Christmas" and "Do You Hear What I Hear" they play this one song--I don't know the name of it, but it's "Silent Night" with voice-over by a gruff-voiced Santa, telling the story of a lonely soldier on a cold winter night somewhere far from home, trying to sleep. When it gets to the part where the soldier says "Carry on Santa, all is secure," I well up without fail. Though I've put my Log Cabin blanket, Salt Peanuts Cardigan, and current Shawl Ministry projects on hold so I can knit some Trekking socks for my dad, I've got a ball of black Patons Classic Merino in my stash, and I'm yearning to cast on for another helmet liner. Any other knitting calling to you despite the fact that you're hard at work making Christmas gifts? I'd love to hear.

The scent of fresh Noble fir is wafting through the house, waiting for the lights to be strung, and the current gaggle of teenagers (God help me) to decorate the tree. My sweet spousal unit is on the roof at the moment, because the other day's wind and rain storm tore shingles from our roof. It also blew down part of our backyard fence, but so far, neither Jimmy nor Buster have made a break for it.

I've finished the gusset of the first Trekking sock, and am now working on the foot. My goal is to cast on for the second sock by tomorrow morning. Chickenlips out!

Sunday, December 10, 2006


If only I could get paid for this...

'cause I loves to do it!

Generic, no-frills handwarmers which I sent to the MIL in Spokane...it gets bitterly cold up there, and though in her late 70's, Mom still goes out every day to feed her horses. Thus these mitts had to be machine washable, which Bliss Cashmerino Aran is. I hope they'll be warm enough.

I also turned out a couple more items:

My first pair of Fetching. (It's a good thing I'm not trying to make a living as a hand model--I'll keep my day job, thank you very much!) Clearly they're too small for me, but the fact is, I made them for another co-worker. These ladies are Desktop Publishing/Formatting specialists, so rather than poring over documentation wielding a red pen as I do, they spend their entire work days at the computer, working in such esoteric media as Quark and InDesign. In a drafty computer lab and office building with wildly varying temperatures, cold hands is a common complaint.

Oh, yeah, the mitts! I used Nashua Creative Focus for the first time. What a lovely yarn--wool and alpaca. Feltable, but I probably wouldn't use it for that. It feels wonderful, and not the least bit scratchy.

The other item is also knit from a free pattern--I do have at least a binder full of single patterns I have purchased, but with the abundance of free patterns online, I enjoy not only knitting them up, but also hunting for them! Besides Knitty and Mag Knits, I love Knitting Pattern Central. It's the most comprehensive source of freebie patterns for making great stuff that I've found yet. If you visit it, and go to Scarves, Shawls and Stoles, it's the "Lacy Scarf." I'm very pleased with how it came out. I used 2 balls of Trendsetter Yarns' Dune, which made a 40" scarf with angled edges. Needs a little light blocking to make the edges lie flat, but otherwise, it's soft and twinkly--an unbeatable combination, if you ask me.

Chickenlips, you've got some 'splaining to do...

We have two cars: both late '90's models, both Chevrolets, both paid off. That said, they both have a lot of mileage on 'em, and my spousal unit and I are wondering a) how long the higher-mileage one (the one I drive) will last before we have to replace it, and b) how much of a car payment we'll be able to afford. And that said, today I bought the aforementioned spousal unit a $2,000 electric guitar for Christmas.

I shall now pause to allow my cherished readers--both of them--to absorb that last statement.

OK, it's not just for anybody, it's for the guy to whom I said in front of God and everybody that I did and I would. And it's not just an electric guitar, it's a Gibson Les Paul 1960 reproduction. Maple body, mother-of-pearl inlay on the fretboard, pickups designed to give it a sound on the funky side of classic, and the thing weighs a metric ton. To give you an idea of what it looks like, click here. Our daughter, the lead singer in her dad's band and the next incarnation of Storm Large, knew exactly what her dad's dream guitar looked like, and everyone working at Guitar Center this afternoon assured me that they would in fact crap themselves if they found this guitar under their tree. At this moment, I am optimistic that I can pay it off within the 12 months of the credit agreement--and even though every rational brain cell I possess tells me it's a wildly extravagant gift, I still want to give the man something he dreams about having. He did that for me; after all--he made it possible for me to have a college education, and consequently qualified for the job I now have.

And one last thing, perhaps the most important: he beamed like a little boy last Christmas when I gave him his first electric, a $150 Fender Strat. Now I can't wait for Christmas morning, to see how happy he will be to see this present. In a way, it's a present for me, too.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Holy crap, it's Christmas!

No, really! It was so easy you wouldn't believe it! I just went down to the Wally Mart and bought a couple boxes of tinsel garland. Then I grabbed my Size 50 needles and half an hour later, I had the perfect stole to go with that little black dress!

*um*...next time, though, I'm gonna get the garland without the miniature lights already strung on it...

And Now, Knitting As We Know It

Shawl 'nuff.

Here are a couple views of a comfort shawl knit from Noro Transitions. Even at 40% off, it was still an investment to get enough hanks to make a 60" finished piece. I look at my wild spending of yarn money thus: my teenager seems determined to make my life a living hell these days, so I'm spending her college tuition-slash-inheritance.

I think that's only fair, don't you?

I'm proud to say that I'm a co-founder of the Shawl Ministry of the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Washington County. (whew! now there's a mouthful.) We began officially in January of this year, and so far we have bestowed eight shawls on members of the congregation, including the interim minister, who was in a near-fatal auto accident last spring. The response has been extremely positive, and those we knit for to show our friendship and caring have been very moved. This is one of the most rewarding efforts I've ever been involved in as a knitter, and I'm very proud of what has been accomplished by just a handful of ladies who love to knit. Whether the shawls are made of Lion Homespun or all natural fibers, as is my personal preference, they're always the length of a hug, and they've been going to those who founded and nurtured the church itself. They were there when we were a young family, looking for a place to belong, and welcomed us.

This post has been brought to you by Tramadol.

Saturday, December 02, 2006


My first Log Cabin

Bought myself Mason-Dixon Knitting as an early Christmas present, and gave their no-frills Log Cabin Bath Mat a whirl. Instead of holding 3 strands of cotton yarn together, I used a single strand of Sirdar Denim Ultra on size 15's. Now I see I could have gone down a needle size, but c'est la vie, as they say in the Engineering dept. (That's a really inside joke, and you'd only get it if you worked where I work. But I digress.) Anyhow, it's probably sproingy enough to be a bath mat, but since it came out to such a loose gauge, I'll probably use it as a throw rug for the icy bathroom floor. I would have done that in the first place, but who wants to see a picture of Chickenlips' unwashed bathroom floor? I thought so!

Altered States

Remember that totally weirded out, suspension-tank movie of the '80's with William Hurt? It has nothing to do with this photo--I just wanted to work a movie title into the post. This is the result of the fine dusting of snow we had earlier in the week. It's probably difficult to see, but I liked the look of the snow on the bare branches of the chestnut tree in the back yard. I'm starting to slow down more in general, and notice the little things--in many cases fleeting evidence of the change of seasons--that I no doubt have taken for granted much of my life, especially when I was rushing to grow up, then frantic to escape being grown up, only to struggle to catch up on my emotional growth while I raised my little girl and myself at the same time. I can only ascribe it, meaning this slowing down, to age. For some reason, I'm feeling like an old gal tonight, not quite up to the job of doing the blogosphere equivalent of stand-up comedy. I do feel that way from time to time, but it seems to make those around me uncomfortable when I try to talk about it. My husband, (who is four years younger than me I might add,) my teenage daughter, and 27-year-old office mate will say quickly, "You're not old!" Well, they're right. I'm not old. But I'm no longer young, either. And whether it bugs the sweet, well-intentioned people around me to hear that or not, it's a frickin' part of life, and it's really OK with me--being older affords me certain new fringe benefits and freedoms, after all. Such as AARP membership, helpful salespeople tentatively checking to see if I qualify for a Senior Discount, and the ability to express road rage without feeling guilty afterwards. Yes!

And I knew if I rambled long enough, the above part of this blog entry would eventually reflect the title I chose for it. Thank God for blogs. I no longer have to have a point!

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