Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Birthday Hangover (Day 25)

I love birthdays. I truly, madly, deeply love birthdays. Either mine or someone else's (if they'll let me celebrate with them), it really doesn't matter. Cake, ice cream, the excitement of gift giving, all of it. I've never lied to anyone about being a grown-up, so I don't feel bad about being so enthusiastic.

So, with the latest turning of my annums this past weekend, I was geared up for some major partying. You saw the pretty sparkly nails I got (which were nice), but I also got Victorian Lace Today, by Jane Sowerby, which is lace knitter porn. I love that book. I may never knit anything from it (which is a lie; I have clear designs on at least four of the patterns), but I'll love looking at it forever and ever. Then I got Sweeney Todd on DVD, and Bach The Art of Fugue by Pierre-Laurent Aimard which is simply....ethereal beauty via piano. I might have to start collecting Aimard's backlist. Check that; I will have to collect Aimard's backlist. No "might have" about it. Then I got some other nice freebies, which I will tell you about as we go along, yes?

I have a big family, and we're famous for generosity.

Anyway, I took a four day holiday this weekend (took Friday and Monday off) and my mother and I went out to visit our cousin. She's a nun and has retired out to the Mother House at St. Mary of the Woods in Terre Haute, Indiana. I've wanted to go back there for a while--when I was in high school, we would do week long choir camps out there, and I have some really good musical memories on that campus--and I really wanted to go back after Mom came back from her last retreat, burbling with enthusiasm for the newest inmates of the convent:

Llama! Well, alpacas. But they're related. This is an assortment of the colors available on the campus. The college is incredibly self-sufficient, which is not amazing when you consider that they have a very large agribusiness department (animal husbandry, farm management, etc.) They've had an equine program for as long as they've been a college, and they recently decided to expand their animal husbandry programs. Yes, I know, unusual in a traditionally all-women's school, but what can I say, until recently Terre Haute was quite out in the boonies; the campus has always been rather contained. They've also got their own biodiesel generator and biodiesel production plant, in addition to medical facilities that are highly impressive. Unfortunately, as the sisters age out and retire, this becomes more of a necessity than luxury.

We stopped at the alpaca shop, White Violet (the shop is under the "fiber sales" link), and I got this:

Alpaca, oooh. Handspun, looks to be somewhere between a sport and worsted. The best part is that each skein is labeled with the names of the alpacas who gave the wool. The white is Campeonato, the tannish is a blend of wools from Cecelia and Soulaines, and the gorgeous heathered gray is from Theodore Guerin. It was from his first trim, which makes it better (or so I'm told; all three are filthy soft and beautiful, I can't really tell much difference). They're beautiful, and I'm excited to do something with it. I've picked out a stitch pattern and am thinking of a scarf with Theodore ruffles at the end. All three together are 450 yards, so it should be a decent length (considering I've chosen a lacey pattern for the body of the scarf.) Very excited to play with this stuff!

I've been thinking about doing one of the Little Nothings over at KnitSpot, as I may have said before, and she's got a beautiful little piece called Tudor Grace. The yarn she used she describes as "light through stained glass", which I find odd, as it's so muted and sedate. I am far more accustomed to stained glass like this:

A window in one of the chapels at St. Mary of the Woods. I felt bad taking pictures in there; some of the nuns were at their offices, but I was reassured by my cousin that people do it all the time. So I took this one and a shaky one of the main altar:

Beautiful. I felt...vaugely disrespectful, all the same. Oh, well. Supposedly they're used to it.

Anyway, refer to the window above and check this:

MUCH more stained glass like, in my humble opinion. I'm not sure how it will do in pattern, as it's got more bounce and some nylon in it (it's a sock yarn after all) so it won't block properly, but it should work if I just use bigger needles. Eh, we'll see.

I got this (and the subsequent pictures' worth of yarn) using my brother's gift--a gift card to Joann's. Yarn, yarn and needles, and I've still got $20 worth on the card. Not too shabby!

One of my friends is going to be a grandma for the first time (yeah, scary, I know, but she's older than me and her daughter is only 18/9) and I wanted to make something as a gift. So I'm going for the Le Petit Trianon baby kimono by SockPixie. It's a gorgeous (and fast) pattern, and I wanted to use a yarn with which I have familiarity. I went for Cosetta from the Bellezza Collection at Joann's--I've got a bunch in blue for a pair of Cleaves for me, and I love the way the yarn catches the light and just glows and shimmers. So I got a bunch of purple for Le Petit Trianon:

It's actually a darker array of purples--my flash has washed it out--but you get the gist, I'm sure. Here's another shot, just for good measure:

Beauty! Shower's in two and a half weeks, I best get casting on, hadn't I?

Anyway, I also got gift cards to Big Box Bookstore, which I've already burned through on their website (the green Big Box Bookstore, if you're curious). I've got a couple of pre-orders in on a couple of my favorite authors and am getting an old Miranda Sex Garden disc that I've been wanting forever. I don't like waiting, but I'll be patient--I really can't do anything else at this point; no one carries Miranda Sex Garden in their cd sections anymore, and I'd have to wait on the books anyway. Then I got a gift card for the second hand bookstore (which is really sweet--I'll go a lot farther on that cash) and a copy of The Cruise, which is a very strange, lost but unbelievably sweet little love poem to New York. I quite sympathize with most of the things the main character ranted on. It was an unexpected little joy, actually--I'm so rarely surprised in terms of birthday gifts anymore. Then my sister pre-paid at the vet's for me, so I don't have to worry for the next 25 days. Well, slightly longer than that, as it will take me another 14 days to have seriously disposable income, but you know what I mean. I might let my mother have my credit if I don't use it before I have disposable income again. Either way, since I'm going to start paying for her vet bills once I can, it's going to be used on my behalf.

All in all, a tidy little haul. The benefit of a large family, I suppose.

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