Monday, December 31, 2007

Never Too Late

For me the most difficult thing about blogging is coming up with a clever or semi-imaginative or even a not-even-the- tiniest-bit-inventive title for each post. The writing is the simple part since this is a blog not the Great American Novel. And aren't you glad!

That's the first 15 or so rounds of the first of the watch caps for the brothers. Another two inches or so will and I'll begin the striping. While I was blog surfing and knitting on the hat this afternoon I came across an amazing tip for changing color at the I'm Knitting As Fast As I Can blog. Scroll down to the red and white hat. So simple and I'd never thought of it. Thank You Susan for sharing that tip. So now I can do the striping on this hat and anything else it'll look even better.

Today Sweetie figured out how to download podcasts into our MP3 player. Both of our main computers default to gxine (an open source video player) to play such things. There was no option to "save" the podcast, we could only "listen" to it. Which was fine until I thought that listening to a podcast while I was on the treadmill was a great idea. We purchased the MP3 player a few months ago so I could listen to music while I mowed the grass. Hopefully I'll be inclined to climb on the damned thing more often now.

We don't DO New Year's as far as an "Official Celebration". If we're awake at midnight so be it, if not whose to know or care. We really are hermits at heart!

blogging to: Awake by Josh Groban

reading: Sanctuary Hill by Kathryn R Wall

Parting Shot: "New Year's Eve, where auld acquaintance be forgot. Unless, of course, those tests come back positive." ~ Jay Leno

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Twenty Questions or Going for Twenty Projects?

1. Have you started the cotton afghan?
No.

2. Have you started the Plymouth Encore afghan?
No.

3. Have you purchased the yarn for either project?
No.

4. Have you done anything toward getting those two projects on the needles, let alone done?
No.

5. Have you cast on for the second watch cap in oyster and slate gray?
No.

6. Have you been working on the garnet and slate gray watch cap?
I've got 5 rounds done.

7. Have you worked on your Nautical Sweater which is supposed to be your main focus?
No.

8. Have you picked up your Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern?
No, but I've fondled the yarn when I showed the sock-in-progress off at Christmas.

9. How about the Simple Sock?
Not since before Christmas.

10. The Jayhawk Sock. Anything?
No.

11. I already know the answer to this one but I'll ask anyway. The Paws To Remember Shawl?
I've borrowed the crochet hook, pencil, project notes clipboard and the 2mm fix-it needle for another project. Does that count?
No.

12. So what have you been doing?
I cast on for a new project

13. You already have seven on the needles and two in the just-need- to-buy-the-yarn-already-and-cast-on stage and you started ANOTHER ONE? The only two that are past the 10% mark are the sweater and one sock. Everything else on the needles is less than 10% complete. Before this "phase" you only did one or two at the most THREE projects at once and you cast on ANOTHER ONE?
Yes.

14. What did you start?
A scarf.

15. A scarf? What yarn, pattern and for whom?
I'm using the peach / cantaloupe colorway in Douceur et Soie from Knit One Crochet Too. It's like Rowan's Kid Silk Haze. It's a fine lace weight but I'm holding it double. I'm using the stitch pattern from the Heavenly sweater I knit early in 2007 and finished before Christmas. It's for a friend of my SIL and she doesn't know she's getting it.

16. Isn't that the same patte . . . .?
Yes. Same everything. It's a good pattern and this time I'll be careful and not do what I did last time. I hope.

17. So how far are you on this one?
About 4" which is 24 rows.

18. So less than 10%?
Yes.

19. So what are you going to work on after you post this?
...........

20. Is there any end to this end of year casting on?
I hope not!

blogging to: jazz on the radio

reading: Sanctuary Hill by Kathryn R Wall

Parting Shot:
"For me, my craft is sailing on,
Through mists to-day, clear seas anon.
Whate'er the final harbor be
'T is good to sail upon the sea!"
~ John Kendrick Bangs

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Auld Acquaintances

I've started two new projects and neither one is an afghan or a sweater or (gasp!) a pair of socks. And I'm using yarns I've never used before. Well, that last one's not such a biggie since almost every project I cast on I'm using yarns I've used before. Those who've been keeping up will guess that's they're hats for the two brothers we re-connected with this past summer. I was able to get out to my LYS the other day and picked up several hanks of Blue Sky Alpaca in the alpaca-silk blend. I was going for cashmere but this alpaca-silk blend is so soft and has a nice shine.

I got three 50 gr. hanks of a slate gray, one of an
oyster or cream and one hank of a garnet red. I cast on for one of the hats the other day. I used the garnet as the cast on edge then switched to the slate gray. I'm holding the yarns doubled for extra warmth. Using the mock cable pattern I got all the way up to round 40 and realized that just the plain knits and purls were more beautiful and showed the yarn off better than the knotted-looking mock cable. So I frogged it — before taking a picture. You would have agreed.

I like the stripe pattern I'd come up with so that's going in the next hat. I kept notes (as I always do) and will be able to recreate the stripe. The other hat's going to be the same except it'll be cream and gray with a different stripe pattern. I don't know what that one's going to be but it'll be a little different. And the ribbing, since they're both ribs now, may be a different one. I'm going to keep the mock cable pattern except not do the mock cable which is actually the second round of the two round stitch pattern.

blogging to: The Retro Cocktail Hour

reading: Promised Land by Robert B Parker

Parting Shot: "New Year's Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual." ~ Mark Twain

Friday, December 28, 2007

Book Review

I just finished a wonderful book, Sanna, and the Dragons by Roxanna Matthews (Click on the Book Store link at the top. I just type Sanna in the search box then scroll down in the new link.). You might know her as Roxie from her blog Sanna's Bag. I read the first book in this series, Sanna, Sorceress Apprentice this summer and really liked it. I was looking forward to the next one and it's finally out. All the wonderful fiber references from the first book are there and it seems like there were a lot more. Roxie is so clever in how she gets them in there.

The story moves along well (don't want to be giving anything away here) and kept me turning the pages and staying up way too late reading. Knowing Roxie just a teenie bit from her blog, it was fun to see a Xena
inference. If you're a Xenite you'll know it when you see it. I had good chuckle and absolutely loved it. And maybe the name of the Knitting Mistress was a knitting nod if you take into consideration the name of the book. (loved that one, too!) There were probably more but I was too caught up in the story too catch them. Those particualr two just resonated with me. All in all I loved the book. It was way too short as are all good reads. I'm looking forward to the next one.


Parting Shot: "Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear." ~ unknown

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Old and The New

Now that Sweetie's Burr Oak socks are done (and greatly admired — this STILL blows me down) it's time to figure out what's next. Oh, I still have all the same things on the needles and some are progressing (the Jayhawk socks and my Nautical Striped sweater) and some are not (my Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern and the Paws to Remember shawl still has a problem). I haven't done anything about or on either planned afghan other than to think my new Denise needles will be GREAT! for that.

Today Sweetie suggested I knit hats like I knit for him for the two brothers we re-connected with several months ago. I'd been mulling knitting something for them but hadn't come to any decisions. I knit Sweetie's hat in a watch cap-style with gray cashmere yarn in a broken rib pattern. The yarn is only a two ply and even holding it double it's thin. The hat is light weight but that's OK. He has another watch cap knit with two strands of Reynolds Alpaca held together and that sucker is heavy and warm and a wee bit itchy. The cashmere hat can be used as a liner for the heavier alpaca hat even though that was not my intention.

Anyway, I don't have any yarn that'll work. I want a medium weight and mostly what I have in wool is fingering weight sock yarn. We also want it to be very soft so some kind of cashmere or a cashmere blend in dark colors (the only downside to this whole thing). And that means a trip to my LYS!!

I'm going to do a mock cable or a cable pattern so it'll be even warmer. I'm going to use a Cable Twist Rib pattern that I found in my sock-shaped Knit Socks! book by Betsy Lee McCarthy for one of the hats. It's a two row pattern so that'll be a piece of cake. For the other I'm not quite settled on a pattern. I'm thinking about the Nancy Bush's Conwy from her Knitting on the Road book. It's a longer pattern (four rows, I think) so that would be OK but I'm going to be keeping my eye out for another mock cable pattern.

I've FINALLY settled (again!) on a pattern for SIL's Jaywalkers. I took all my WIPs with me Christmas Eve so she could see them all up close and personal. I didn't tell her than any of them were for her. She loved the cuff I had done on the Jaywalkers, the yarn and colors. Yea! As for the pattern, since they ARE in KU Jayhawk crimson and blue colors I decided to use an 11 stitch rib to celebrate KU's 11 wins in a 12 game season. * p1, k5, p1, k4 * It'll go fast with all those knit stitches strung together and a minimal amount of purling. I've got about 12 rounds done on the leg and I'm a likin' it.

This evening I'm going to baste the front and back of what I've got done (up to the armhole on one side and almost there on the other) on the Nautical Striped sweater and try it on. This is where my new Denise needles are coming in handy. I've got both sides strung on long cords with no needles just the stops that come with the kit. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Edited to add: I tried on the sweater, as much as you can try on just the bottom of a sweater and it fits. The length I'm going for is correct and I'm now ready for the armhole decreases on the side that's furtherest (is that a word?) along (row 89). Whew!

The photos are close up photos of our fiber optic Christmas tree.

blogging to: YouTube music that Sweetie's listening to

reading: Sanna, and the Dragons by Roxanna Matthews aka Roxie of Sanna's Bag fame

Parting Shot: "It's true that we don't know what we've got until we lose it, but it's also true that we don't know what we've been missing until it arrives." ~ unknown

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas To All!

Had to do a quick post today. SIL gifted me with a set of Denise Interchangable Needles.* I was/am completely blown away.

I was also a little skeptical. I really, really LIKE my wooden needles, dpns, circs and straights and am not looking to giving them up. The wood is smooth and warm and beautiful. These other needles are not as pretty and don't speak to me like the wooden needles do.

But I gave them a try. The needles for my Nautical Sweater are 4.5 mm Suzanne rosewood circs. Like most folks I purl more loosely than I knit. When I'm knitting the purled stitches they slide easily over the join. However, when I'm purling the more tightly knit knit stitches most of them catch on the join. When I'm scooching stitches up to the top on the left (non-working) needle I have to bump several stitches over the join individually. Not a huge problem. I've been doing it for half of the 153 rows I already have done on the main body of the sweater. I just considered it one of those things you just have to do.

So this morning I charged up a pair of the Denise needles, size 4.5 mm with a 16" cord. Let me just say WoW! As I purled, the previously knit stitches slid over the join like there WAS no join. Needless to say, I'll be using these needles to finish the sweater (as long as there's no obvious change in the stitches).

At this point Denise doesn't make anything smaller than a 3.75 mm needle so I won't be knitting socks with them. I'll stay with my beautiful wooden bamboo, ebony and rosewood dpns for the socks and maybe some other things with the two pair of wood 4.5 mm straights I recently purchased [a pair of 32 cm (13¾") Suzanne's ebony & a pair of 12" (30½ cm) Lantern Moon blond needles].

But the set does have all the usual sweater- and afghan- and shawl/ scarf-sized needles that I'll need. Since I'll be knitting more sweaters and some shawls and have afghans in my future this could be a good thing.

Oh, and SIL got me the pink breast cancer one (click on the breast cancer link from the above link). $5 from every pink kit goes to the SD Ireland Cancer Research Fund. In an interesting turn of events, I got her a pink breast cancer gift card at Coldwater Creek. 10% of each gift card is donated to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. We each donated the same amount with our gifts to each other.

*NAYYY

blogging to: the smell of bread baking

reading: Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling

Parting Shot:
"Remember
This December,
That love weighs more than gold!"

~ Josephine Dodge Daskam Bacon

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Last FO of 2007! (so far)

I finished Sweetie's Burr Oak socks today. I didn't think I'd have another since my Nautical Striped sweater was supposed to be taking center stage. But how can you not knit on something that garners such praise and longing every time you bring them out!

Sweetie does enjoy the other socks I knit for him but somehow the others I knit for me and these were knit competely and totally for him. He wanted plain, he got plain. With no cabling they're surprisingly heavy. It must be because the foot is long and the leg is tallish.

Yarn: Koigu ~ 1 hank from Patternworks bought a couple of years ago and 2 hanks of souvenir yarn from String of Purls in Omaha, NE purchased this past September specifically to become one with the lone hank for these socks.

Colorway: natural ~ no difference at all between the hanks

Pattern: Oak Ribbed Socks from the book Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush. This make a total of six of her sock patterns I've knit. This doesn't count the two of her patterns I still have on the needles (Country Socks and Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern).

Pattern Details & Modifications:

  • I cast on 91 stitches using the cable cast on and used the extra stitch join.
  • I did my usual Eye of Partridge ( I think that's what's it called) heel flap and turned the heel using a wrap method which I've never done before. I picked that part up from doing the short row heels. Can't really see much difference and it adds a step each time you turn so I may not do that again.
  • I also used Kathy's (aka Grumpernia) way of picking up gusset stitches the pretty way. That's become my way.
  • A while back (about the same time as the pretty gusset stitches, I think) I started knitting the first round of the gusset stitches through the back loop. It goes well with the way I picked up gusset stitches and I read somewhere that when you knit through the back loop it tightens the stitch. As that whole picked up area can be a bit loose and wonky that's what I do. I start my decreases on the round after I knit through the back loop on the gusset stitches.
  • I carried the pattern down the instep to the toe decreases.
  • I did one of my usual toes. I don't know what it's called but it's the same toe Grumperina used on her Jaywalker socks which is where I got it when I knit two of those suckers.
  • I decreased down to 7 stitches and kitchnered the toes together.
Needles: I cast on with my usual 3 mm bamboo dpns then switched to my usual 2.5 mm needles for the rest of the sock, using the Suzanne ebony dpns this time. I love my ebony needles. They are very slick and the yarn just glides over them.

These socks make the 26th pair I've knit; sock #51 & #52. I stared these on November 17 and finished December 23. I didn't knit on them every day and it seems like I spent quite a bit of time on the Paws to Remember Shawl and my Nautical Striped sweater but maybe not as neither of those two projects are as far along as I want. But, oh well.

I'm going to TRY to keep Sweetie from wearing them until I take take them around Christmas Day to show off. I may not have any luck and folks may just have to admire a damp pair socks!

blogging to: Audiovisions on XML

reading: Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J K Rowling

Parting Shot:
"On the first day of winter,
the earth awakens to the cold touch of itself.
Snow knows no other recourse except
this falling, this sudden letting go
over the small gnomed bushes, all the emptying trees.
Snow puts beauty back into the withered and malnourished,
into the death-wish of nature and the deliberate way
winter insists on nothing less than deference.
waiting all its life, snow says, "Let me cover you."
~ Laura Lush, The First Day of Winter

Saturday, December 22, 2007

HO! HO HO! and A Bottle of

. . . . Oops! Wrong Celebration!! Or not.

Well I am celebrating. Shopping (as you know) is done! Wrapping is Done! And even the bowing and tagging each gift is DONE!! WooHoo! I want to give the person(s) who (un)invented gift bags a Gold star. (None of the color choices look Gold, so work with me here.)

It's snowing like the Dickens (unintentional,
intentional pun) out there and we're both warm and dry and safe at home. Fridge and pantry are stocked. I've got lots of unread books and unknit knitting. We have music and lights on the tree and later maybe a fire in the fireplace. And did I mention rum and chocolate!

Sweetie had a service call this morning and I got most of the wrapping and gift bagging done before he got back, thanks to an old Lime & Violet podcast. If I can figure out the logistics, I may even get back on the treadmill with a podcast to make the time go quickly.

I made my Fiesta Meatloaf yesterday and the mashed potatoes were so good I didn't even want to put gravy on 'em. Amazing what a little cream cheese and butter and do for a potato. So add great leftovers to our Saturday scenario.

Christmas Eve night we journey an hour to the east (Lenexa, KS) for dinner and gift exchange with BIL & SIL. She usually makes a wonderful sauerbraten and we get homemade cream puffs for dessert. So. Good.

I've made great progress on the Sweetie's Burr Oak Socks. I've only about seven rounds until the toe decreases on the second sock. I may even have them done by days end. At the very least, they'll be done sometime Sunday.

blogging to jazz on the radio

reading: Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling

Parting Shot: Sat., Dec. 22, 2007, 1:08 A.M. EST (06:08 UT), marks the solstice—the beginning of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and summer in the Southern Hemisphere
local: Sunrise Saturday: 7:37 am
Sunset Saturday: 5:03 pm

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Christmas Whisperer

I finished my Christmas shopping Wednesday — well, except for their dog. We need to stop by the Natural Foods Pet Store and get some doggie treats. One of the things I picked up was The Dog Whisperer page-a-day calendar. I think I'm going to give that to the dog, also.

I worked hard getting SIL & BIL things I think they'll like. Gift cards to places they like to shop and some warm winter clothes. They keep their house really cold. I'm happy with what I'm getting them and I hope they like them, too.

While I was out and about I stopped by my favorite spice shop, Penzey's and stocked up. I stop right inside the door (out of the way) and just breathe for a moment. Penzey's has apothecary-style jars with with each spice about a quarter full. It's wonderful unstopping the lid and inhaling the fragrance. Don't ever go there hungry! I bought some new (for me) spices to try.
  • Seasoned salt. I got a small bottle of the "regular" seasoned salt and a large bottle of their smoky 4/S [Special Seasoned Sea Salt]
  • I also picked up a jar of their Beef soup base and seasoning.
And I replenished my stock
  • small jar of powdered Chinese ginger
  • small jar of Ceylon cinnamon
  • small jar of Spanish cracked rosemary
  • large jar of pizza seasoning
  • small jar of French sweet basil
  • small jar of Albanian rubbed sage
  • small bag of Italian herb mix
  • large bag of minced toasted onoin
  • small bag of Turkish bay leaves
  • 3 large bags of cinnamon sugar
I also managed to find myself a "nice" lightweight jacket. I've got my nice heavy coat and I have a hooded denim barn coat which is very warm and very heavy. The only jackets between those two are a couple of very casual fleece zip ones. While I was at Coldwater Creek I found a smashing black suede jacket on Sale! And they had petite sizing so it fits well. When I got back to Mathilda I pulled it out of the bag, cut off the tags (yea knitting bag) and wore it while I finished my shopping.

The whole experience was stress-free. I had my knitting and my simple sock. Thank goodness for stoplight knitting. Since I did my shopping on a Wednesday morning and early afternoon the shops weren't crowded for less than a week before Christmas. Traffic could have been a huge hassle but I had my knitting.

Now I'll spend several hours between now and Christmas Eve wrapping, bowing and tagging everything. I picked up a couple of plain red gift bags and some green and some white tissue paper at the grocery store. I've got a few bags from last year so a few more into the mix for this year.
Cherry Tree Hill Northern Lights
Between Wednesday's Christmas shopping and today's errands (again with the stoplight knitting) I've started the heel flap on the simple sock.

Shortly after my last post I ran into a problem with the Paws to Remember shawl and it's spent a few days in detention. I think I've got it back on track this afternoon. I had to tink row 15, another 'real' pattern row. We'll see if that fixed it when I pick it up next time.

I'm half done with the foot on Sweetie's second Burr Oak Sock. Once you get to the foot and you only have to do pattern stitches on only half the round it just seems to fly.

After I post this I think I'll pick up the Nautical Striped sweater. I feel the need for large yarn! Maybe it's because of the yarn, but the needles for the sweater which are the same size as for the Paws to Remember shawl feel larger. Both are 4.5 mm. I'm using circs on the sweater although I'm knitting it flat and straights for the shawl. Weird, huh?

blogging to: a Linux podcast

reading: Wind Spirit by Aimée & David Thurlo

Parting Shot: "Three phrases that sum up Christmas are:
* Peace on Earth,
* Goodwill to Men, and
* Batteries not included."

Monday, December 17, 2007

Progress Has It's UP and It's downs

The down-side of multiple projects on the needles and two in the planning stage? You can't work on everything at once, not even two things at the same time. Well, I can't anyway. Even though I want to.

I'm making glacial progress on the Paws to Remember shawl for SIL. Thank goodness she has no idea she's getting it. I had to frog it (at row 11 of the first border) and cast on again because two stitches magically appeared. I cast on again that same evening, knit up to row five and hadn't touched it since. Well today, I progressed and completed the troublesome row 11 with the correct stitch count. (Yea! Me!) On rows where nothing much is happening (such as all or mostly knitting) I put a stitch marker every 25 stitches. On rows where there is actual patterning taking place, like row 11, I had one every eight stitches as that was the stitch repeat. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. And so far, 11 rows and 89 stitches per row, it's worked for me.

I'm also zoom, zoom, zoomin' along on the Nautical Striped sweater. I'm ready to do the second blue stripe which means, I just finished row 26. The other front/back is knit to row 89 so I have a ways to go yet.

One of the up-sides of the multiple projects on the needles thing is that I have many choices; a couple of thinking projects, a sock on 2.5 mm dpns in the round and a shawl on 4.5 mm straights knit flat. As far as mindless knitting projects, I have the sweater that's knit flat on 4.5 mm circs and three socks on 2.5 mm dpns in the round. Soon I'll have a couple more ~ the afghans.

blogging to: a Linux podcast

reading: Monkeewrench by P J Tracy

Parting Shot: “Progress lies not in enhancing what is, but in advancing toward what will be.” ~
Kahlil Gibran
Quote Source

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Late To The Party . . . AGAIN!!

Since Sweetie and I have DSL I've discovered knitting podcasts. WoW! Just. WoW! When Sweetie's napping, gone to bed before me or out on a service call and there's nothing on TV to knit to I can download and listen to a knitting podcast. I can sit in my comfy office chair, knit and listen and click on the links in the show notes (very dangerous, by the way).

When I started I had no idea on how to find them or what would be interesting to listen to. So I decided to search for a podcast that featured Stephanie Pearl McPhee, aka The Yarn Harlot. She has such a calming voice. It's easy to knit to. The first one I found was put out by Lion Brand, Yarn Craft is the name of the group. I really enjoyed that one so I searched for another one. I found episode 8 from Knit Cast. This was just after Stephanie's first book, At Knit's End - Meditations for Women Who Knit Too Much came out.
Marie Irshad has such a delightful accent.

I remembered that Franklin Habit had been a guest on some podcasts so I searched for that. That's when I found Brenda Dayne's Cast On podcasts. What a wonderful voice she has. I listened to episode 49. I was expecting an interview with Franklin. And I found something EVEN better. A story by Franklin and told by Franklin. If you think his blog The Panopticon is a delight to read wait until you hear his storytelling. So glad the man has a book coming out and a blog so I can my Franklin fix.

Somehow I stumbled onto Lime & Violet. I've listened to four of these, two recent and the first and third one. OMG! These ladies are "seriously" FUNNY! and probably LOUD! What a hoot their S&B must be! And they have already cost me money. The last one I listened to, episod
e 49.5, I clicked on a link and bought some sock yarn. When I get it, you'll see it here. It's yummy looking.

Since I keep getting these great Coldwater Creek catalogs I look through them and instead of sweaters I want to buy, I see sweaters I want to knit. Wouldn't it be cool, if they also sold the patterns? Anyway, here's a great simple ribbed turtleneck that would be boring to knit but what a classic sweater. And I love the cable detail on the one below. Once I get better with the sweater thing and the sizing I may just do that.
I have already decided about my next sweater project. It'll be for Sweetie and it's going to be a button down the front cardigan. It'll have to be in a darker color (maybe a heathered or tweedy something) in a plain pattern, maybe a stockinette.

I've started on the front/back of my Nautical Striped sweater. I've got the red garter stitch
border done and I'm about halfway done with the first white stripe. It's in the candy cane mode with the red and white. Since I only have one 4.5 mm circ I put the back/front onto a smaller needle to rest. So far I'm very pleased with the whole thing. I unearthed another sock project sized basket and switched projects around so I'm fine basket-wise for now but I'm keeping my eyes open when I'm out and about for likely candidates.

Raverly is going to have an open house sometime in January. Non-members will be able to get into to see how it all works. I'll let y'all know when and how.

blogging to: a Manheim Steamroller Christmas CD

reading: Bye-Bye, Black Sheep by Ayelet Waldman
The book is good but I'm a bit disappointed. Click on the link and you'll see why. Not a word about what's going on on the front cover. Oh, well.

Parting Shot: "Winter is the season in which people try to keep the house as warm as it was in the summer, when they complained about the heat." ~ unknown
Quote Source

Friday, December 14, 2007

Weather.com is My Friend

Lately my life has been all about the frozen stuff falling from the sky or moisture falling in a liquid state from the sky but solidifying upon contact with terra firma or shortly above same. And this weekend is no different. At least this time the whole state isn't icy pink. At least this time the pepto pink is trying for that artistic look. It's a changing ragged edge on the front of the shades of grey that is the snow.

So I'm ready (again) for another winter storm that will bring ice (hopefully not as much) and snow. We are to get 1-6". edited to add at 7pm cst: now they are saying 5-7". I went to the store and laid in supplies for stew and beef soup. This time I'm trying Williams Country Store Soup Mix, the steak one. In the past I haven't been much of a soup person, but I find I'm liking soups more and the canned ones just aren't makin' it anymore. They're fine for a quick soup and sandwich lunch but my taste buds want different / better. I love the stew recipe I found and I'm thinking about adjusting it for soup. To me, stew is thick soup without the noodles. Anyway, I'm going to give this one a try.

And lately we've fallen in love with a local bakery's baguette. They make a delivery every morning to the grocery store where I shop. So I got one of those, too! And I also picked up two Ferrero Rocher small boxes of chocolate at the store. One is the standard gold wrapped hazelnut confection. The other is their dark chocolate version. Mmmmm.

Let it Snow. Let it Snow. Let it Snow.

I was able to sneak in a bit of Christmas shopping this morning. The BIL (always difficult) is all taken care of, except for a couple of our standard gift cards. SIL is partway there. A trip into Kansas City next week will finish her up along with her standard gift cards.


And then there's the knitting.

I've turned the heel, picked up the gusset stitches and I'm a few rounds into the foot on Sweetie's second Burr Oak Sock.

I'm just about up to the armhole on the front / back of the Nautical Striped sweater. I've finished my first skein of white. I'm now casting for the back / front (they're both the same up to the armholes). I want to make sure this is fitting properly before I go any farther on the first piece.

I've ripped out the Paws to Remember shawl a couple of times already. I really, really, really have to watch my stitch counts. Somewhere, somehow, when I finished row 11, the first serious pattern row with ssk's, yo's, k1tbl's and the ubiquitous k2tog's, I had two extra stitches. I couldn't figure out where I got them so I just frogged the whole thing. I cast on [Again!] and now I'm up to row five [Again!]. Until I find my rhythm with this shawl, it's going to be slow going with lots of place markers and counting, counting, counting.

I've not done anything on my Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern.

I got a couple of rounds of stoplight knitting in on my first Simple Sock with Lorna's Laces today. I've got about 3 more rounds then I'm ready for the heel flap.

I decided on another pattern for the Jayhawk socks. I didn't like how the Sailor's Rib from Charlotte Schurch's book More Sensational Knitted Socks looked with the color changes in the striped yarn so I frogged the eight leg pattern rounds I'd done. The cuff is still intact. I'm going to use Nancy Bush's (NO! Really! ANOTHER NANCY BUSH sock!) County Socks patten from her book Folk Socks. I have three of her books and have knit socks from each one. The book I've used most often has been Knitting Vintage Socks. I haven't started on the leg yet.

I've haven't done anything further on the two planned afghans; no swatching and no yarn buying. I probably won't do anything with either of them until Sweetie's Burr Oak sock is done.

So, that's what's been goin' on.

blogging to: Dream a Dream by Charlotte Church

reading: Hell Hath No Curry by Tamar Myers

Parting Shot: "God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December." ~ J. M. Barrie
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Ice. Ice. Baby













Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oh, the Weather Outside . . .

. . . is fit for man nor beast. This top photo is our River Birch in the backyard all icy and bent over. The next one down is what "real" Christmas icicles look like on our Burr Oak.

Inside, knitting is getting done; mainly on Sweetie's second Burr Oak sock. I'm on round 62 less than 20 rounds away from the heel flap. Knit. Knit. Knit. Round and round and round. They are very soft and warm. As usual, lately, with socks, the second one is a bit of a snooze and I have to push myself to work on it. At least this one has an easy pattern so I can knit and read blogs or forums while working on it.

I've got about a yard to go on the second hank. I must have used some of the
the first hank which I'd had for quite a while as it didn't go nearly as long as this one did. I wish I'd weighed it before I started. Oh, well. I'll be able to figure out how much I'd used for something when the sock is done by how much of the third hank I use.

Here's a fun thing I did. In Raverly, they have progress bars that increment 5% at a time. I've implemented that same feature in text format on my side bar. Rather than arbitrarily assign a percentage I worked up a chart for socks. [I am so anal.] It's not exact but it's how I think of the progress.

First Sock
Cuff = 5%
Leg = 20%
Heel = 25%
Foot = 40%
Toe = 45%
Weave in ends = 50%

Second Sock
Cuff – 55%
Leg = 70%
Heel = 75%
Foot = 90%
Toe = 95%
Weave in ends = 100%

I've got one on sweaters as well. As I'm still fairly new to sweaters and it may need some tweaking. Here's what I have. Again, rough but it'll do for me.

Back
Knit bottom to armhole = 20%

Knit armhole to neck = 30%

Front
Knit bottom to armhole 50%
Knit armhole to neck 60%

Sleeves

Knit 1st sleeve 70%
Knit 2nd sleeve 80%

Finishing

Block, seam shoulders, neckline 82%
Attach sleeves 85%
Seam 1st sleeve & side 90%
Seam 2nd sleeve & side 95%
Weave in ends 100%

I've finally got an in-progress shot of the Paws to Remember shawl for SIL. It's not much but it's going. The yarn is very soft and I'm enjoying the first color. This is about 8½ rows of the bottom border.

blogging to: one of our Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CD's

reading: Hell Hath No Curry by Tamar Myers

Parting Shot: "Never worry about the size of your Christmas tree. In the eyes of children, they are all 30 feet tall." ~ Larry Wilde from The Merry Book of Christmas
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Sunday, December 9, 2007

Call Me Crazy

I've started a new project today and I'm officially out of baskets to put this WIP's in. This project is way down on the list. How far down I don't know yet. I kind of have a list of priorities but it's not set in stone. My Nautical Stripe sweater and Sweetie's Burr Oak Socks top the list and the Jayhawk socks for SIL are at the bottom. And so everything else is in there somewhere. I guess it's mostly a case of what I want to knit on and how much I want to concentrate and think while I do it. This is going to be a thinking scarf at this stage anyway.

Oh, the new project. I cast on for the Paws to Remember scarf/shawl for my SIL which is going to be a complete surprise for her since I don't have to get it fitted like socks. I'm using the Strickwear Merging Colors yarn I got this summer at my LYS's sidewalk sale. I originally intended to use it for socks but then I decided, as it's real lace weight, to try knitting a lacy scarf or shawl since I've proved to myself that I really can do lace. I'm using the Rose Garden colorway which goes from a salmon-rose to a lilac in eight stages.

I'm holding it double since the pattern calls for fingering or sport weight. I'm using the needle size called for in the pattern, a US 7/4.5 mm. It's the Suzanne ebony circ I got for the Nautical sweater but the long circ is driving me bats. I've straightened it with the blow dryer but it's very stiff and gets in my way. Once the weather clears this week, I'm going to get a pair straights at the LYS. Every even row is a knit so I "should" be able to fix stuff.

Since the yarn I bought was part of a kit there were no ball bands, just tags letting you know in what order to use the graduating colors for the pattern, a bolero (scroll down), which I have absolutely NO interest in knitting. I have a total of 427 grams of yarn which I know is 100% merino, but have no idea of the yardage. So I think I'll just keep knitting and see where I am when I run out of pattern in center. The finished size is 10" x 66" for the small and 12" x 66" for the large. I'd knit about 7½ 10" rows before I decided I'd have plenty of yarn and frogged it to make it wider. Now, I have this great wild idea to make it more shawl-like instead of scarf-like. So I'm casting on again to make it 20" wide which means I'll cast on and knit 89 stitches instead of my original 49. Go big or stay on the porch.

Here's a breakdown on the colors and weights I have. Except for the last one I have two small hanks of each color. The color names are what I'm calling each color.
  • salmon #1 = 57 grams
  • rose #2 = 57 grams
  • dusty rose #3 = 56 grams
  • wine #4 = 57 grams
  • rose-purple #5 = 57 grams
  • purple-rose #6 = 57 grams
  • periwinkle #7 = 58 grams
  • lilac #8 = 28 grams
Anything you get from Fiber Trends is printed in black ink on dark teal cardstock, a bitch to copy, which, I guess, is the idea. I don't like to haul around the original pattern, even in the house in case I spill on it, rip it or whatever. So, I'm painstakingly (a few rows at a time) transcribing it into a word processor so I can print myself off a black ink on white paper copy. That way I can also highlight particular sections and scribble notes on it, whatever.

The pattern also comes with charts in a more copy-friendly color, but I am so not a chart person. The one lace thing I did with charts was the Waving Lace sock and I transcribed the chart. I am such a Wuss.

So now I've got six WIP's which is a RECORD for me. With four socks, a sweater and a shawl on the needles, I feel like a "real" knitter with several different projects going at once. One of these days I'll get around to swatching for the Encore, green, Snuggle Blanket and I'll add that to the mix! It will be interesting to see if I stay with my wild non-monogamous ways or revert back to a one-or-two-project-at-a- time-kinda-gal.This may also be just a winter fling!

blogging to: one of our Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CD's

reading: Hell Hath No Curry by Tamar Myers

Parting Shot: "Don't quack like a duck ... soar like an eagle." ~ Ken Blanchard
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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Yes, Deer

I wish I could take a flash photo or had one of those night scope things that could take a photo. For some reason, probably good naps and not having to get up for work, we were both up around 2 am Saturday morning.

Backstory: For several weeks now a couple (or more) times a week the full bird feeder would be completely empty the next morning. We'd seen deer tracks around the feeder and last year they munched on the Limber Pine bark and the Blue Spruce bark in late winter. The folks at the bird seed store figured it was a raccoon that was standing on the wood pile and batting all the food out of the feeder. We're also putting corn on the cob (from the bird seed store, not [Ho! Ho! Ho!] Green Giant) under the feeder.

Back to this morning. The back of the house, which looks out onto our backyard, was dark and Sweetie happened to look out the patio door on his way to the kitchen about 2:15 am this morning. There's this HUGE deer at the feeder eating the corn. Our bedroom also looks out onto our backyard, so we slowly opened the curtains in our bedroom and lay on the bed watching the deer feed. I don't know how long he'd been there before Sweetie saw him but about 3 am he walked around up by the feeder then walked over to the fence, leaped over it and and disappeared in the dark through an empty field.

I would love to take a photo but I'd be afraid the flash would scare him/her, blind him/her momentarily and he/she wouldn't be back. I could set up the camera on a tripod for but when he/she moves, it'd be blurred.

He/She looks so big next to the picnic table. We put out two cobs last night and he/she didn't bother the birdseed or the trees. We put out two more today. If two cobs a day keeps him/her from the trees then I'm all for it. It also might lead more deer to us and we'd have even more damage.

More wildlife for us. Sweetie wants to get a salt lick now and put it out by the bird feeder. Gosh knows what else we'd be bringing in. Are there bears in Kansas? There's talk of a bobcat that's been seen around town for years. And we've seen coyotes in the field behind the house.

blogging to: music on YouTube

reading: Hell Hath No Curry by Tamar Myers

Parting Shot: "Snowflakes are one of nature's most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together." ~ Vesta M. Kelly
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Friday, December 7, 2007

Red, White, Blue and . . . Green?

That is my Nautical Striped sweater, so far. Although right now, it looks more like my Patriotic sweater. I'm really liking the Reynolds Saucy yarn. I've relaxed a bit in knitting it but I don't think I've screwed my guage too much. And as everyone knows, swatches LIE like rugs. Once I get more a couple more pattern repeats knit up, I'm thinking I'll put this on smaller circs to hold it and knit up the front to the same level and see I got, size-wise.

And yes, I'm still contemplating an afghan out of this yarn. I never did listen very well. Ever. And I'm still thinking about making two, maybe not at the same time, however. And I have no idea which one will be first up.

I've been hunting for afghan/blanket patterns for awhile now and after being drawn to the mostly solid color ones no matter what the stitch pattern, I've decided that one of the afghans will probably be in a solid color.

At present*, the cotton one's going to be in the Dimple Shale (page 76) pattern, a variation of Old Shale. Both are in the 200 Ripple Stitch Patterns edited by Jan Eaton. This one will most likely be the solid color one. This was the first pattern I marked in the book when I first paged through it. When I at was my LYS picking up the white yarn for my Nautical Striped Sweater I looked at other Saucy colors. I found some I liked. If I don't do a solid color in this it would be maybe be in graduated blues. I'll have to look more at that option next time I'm in.

At present* The Green Plymouth Encore one's going to be the Snuggle Blanket pattern (page 87) which is actually the Puff Lace pattern (page 34) from the same book. I like the subdued two color nature of the photo. So sometime soon, I'll pull out some Encore, knit up a swatch and see what I get. When I swatch, I'm going to see how the dark and light greens I have work with this pattern.

* Not Written In Stone

blogging to: Solas by Ronan Hardiman

reading: Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy

Parting Shot: "Lo. sifted through the winds that blow, Down comes the soft and silent snow, White petals from the flowers that grow In the cold atmosphere." ~ George W. Bungay
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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Snow Falling on . . . Snow

Our first snowfall of the season.Didn't get much, maybe an inch two where I am but it is sure pretty. I'm glad I got the leaves all mulched in and the grass cut short the other day. This photo is looking up into the snow. Yeah. Sometimes, those arty shots just don't work out so well!

The Jayhawk socks have been frogged back to the cuff. Negative progress. Well, they're at the bottom of my knit list now anyway.

Sweetie and I went to Topeka (about 25 miles or so west of Lawrence, KS) late Wednesday afternoon to drop a part off at one of his sites and ended up having dinner at The Pad in North Topeka. I always have a Pad Burger. Shredded cheddar cheese, mayo, lettuce and no mustard, ketchup or pickles come with it. A good sprinkling of black pepper and yummy! They have great curly fries, too. Anyway, on the way there and part of the way back (until it got too dark to knit) I worked on my Simple Sock. I'm about 5 or so rounds from the heel flap on the first sock. This was at the bottom of my knit list, but with the simpler rib that I'm going to do for SIL's Jayhawk sock, this one has moved up in the knit chain.

Between bouts I forget how nice Lorna's Laces is to knit with. It's squishy and the yarn feels like it has some life to it. The Cascade Sassy Stripes that I'm using for the Jayhawk socks feels flat in comparison. It even feels squishier than the Koigu.

And speaking of Koigu, lots of creamy Koigu, the cuff is done on Sweetie's second Burr Oak Sock and I'm on to the 80 round leg. Once you get past the cuff, it goes quickly. I may just have a final FO for 2007. We'll see.

The Nautical Striped Sweater is slow going and kinda boring (all that stockinette) but I knew it would be. I'm about halfway to the second blue stripe on the back which means I've got about 1½ 12 row pattern repeats done. I wish pattern writers and editors would write plainly what they mean us to do instead of trying to save space and ending up with cryptic instructions that take several readings to figure out. And then if I knit more sweaters it might help, too. So far, I figured them all out (I think) and so the knit goes on.

blogging to: classical music on the radio

reading: Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy

Parting Shot: "When it snows, you have two choices; shovel or make snow angels." ~ unknown
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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

All Fall Down

Here is a photo of Sweetie's one Burr Oak sock taken with some Burr Oak leaves before I mowed over and mulched them and all the frickin' elm leaves from our neighbor to the south.

Seems like when all the leaves come off those big elm trees the wind is
always blowing from the south and a great deal of those leaves end up our backyard. Oh, well. Normally, this time of year we'd also have a few Burr Oak acorns but we had a late freeze this spring and it froze all the buds on the trees. All of the trees eventually leafed out but many didn't bloom (such as fruit trees) or set seeds (such as acorns) this year.

I don't know how wel
l you can see the leaves in this photo but here are before and after photos of my backyard mowing this afternoon. I set the mower down on the next to lowest height when I mowed. I know it's supposed to be good for the grass and such but I like it because when it snows, grass and leaves don't stick up out of a not very deep snow and it just looks prettier. Also, I don't have to mow as early come spring since the grass starts out very short.

The yarn shop called this afternoon and I picked up 13 skeins of white Reynolds Saucy for the Nautical Striped sweater.
And I've started knitting on it. With the bright red border and the snow white yarn it's looks more Christmassy than nautical at this point.

With all the action on the Nautical Stripe Sweater, I've not forgotten Sweetie's other Burr Oak sock. I've cast on for it but it'll get finished no where near as quickly as the first one. Six rounds into the stockinette on the sweater I am so glad I have other projects to knit on.

And I'm not happy with the Sailors Rib on SIL's Jayhawk sock. With the yarn stripping the way it does, the purling looks wonky so I'm going to frog these eight rounds back to the cuff and do something else.

blogging to: a Linux podcast that Sweetie's listening to (no where near as interesting as a knitting one but we share).

reading: Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy

Parting Shot: "The only place where housework comes before needlework is in the dictionary." ~ Mary Kurtz
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Monday, December 3, 2007

Present and Future Knitting

Sweetie's first Burr Oak sock is likely to be done by the time I go to bed tonight. I've started the toe decrease rounds. I'll put a photo up next post of the completed sock.

I'm thinking that when I get this pair done, instead of casting on for another pair I may cast on for a shawl for my SIL. I already have the yarn, the Strickwear Merging Colors I got this summer in the Rose Garden colorway and I already have the pattern [Evelyn Clark's Paws to Remember from Fiber Trends]. OR I may do the other colorway I have in that yarn, Cape Cod and a different pattern (yet to be determined) for me.

I was still torn over the what yarn to use for the afghan but then I had one of those AH HA! moments. I really want to use the Saucy because I love the color selection and the soft feel but I agree that it may be a really heavy afghan. And several knitters (here and on Raverly) have recommended Plymouth Encore. Nothing says I can't have more than one afghan, even going at the same time. Yeah, I know. What a twit!

I've have a couple skeins of a heathered dark green and several of a lighter dusky green that may be a start to one of them. When I go back to my LYS to pick up the white yarn for my Nautical Sweater I'm going to look over the colors again with a eye to one in blues. So I'd better start looking at patterns.

blogging to: one of the Manheim Steamroller Christmas CD's

reading: Circle of Friends by Maeve Binchy

Parting Shot: "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” ~ Aristotle
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Saturday, December 1, 2007

Blame It On The Rain

I finished the third Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban this evening. That woman knows how to string words together and put thoughts on paper. Yeah, I know. I'm late (again) to the party. But now they're all out and I don't have to wait. I've not seen any of the movies yet. From a remark my SIL made at Thanksgiving I'll probably be getting a HP DVD or two and Charmed Knits for Christmas.

It's been a very relaxing day. So relaxing in fact that Sweetie and I took a nap and slept right through most of the afternoon. I had knit group today. But by the time I was awake enough to function it didn't make sense to scramble out of a warm house into the wet and cold for the last thirty minutes or so. Darn!

I'm working a little this evening on the Jayhawk sock for SIL. I've only got about six rounds done on the cuff but I want a break from the Koigu natural plainness of Sweetie's Burr Oak Sock. I really want to work some on the Schaefer Anne sock (LOVE that yarn) but I need a mindless knit this evening. Maybe tomorrow I'll feel more mentally "with it" and able to tackle a few rounds or so.

I really want to work on my Nautical Striped Sweater but I'm still waiting on the white yarn from my LYS. Maybe this week! It's only been a week.

If I were to rate my projects just on the yarn, the Schaefer Anne (Child's First Sock in Shell Pattern) would be number one. Sweetie's Burr Oak Socks with the Koigu would be second. The Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock (Mountain Creek colorway) Simple Socks would be third. In last place is the Cascade Yarns Sassy Stripes for the Jayhawk socks for SIL. Not anywhere near as soft as the other wools. Not as squishy, somehow. The skeins feels OK but the yarn as I'm knitting isn't as nice. I'm glad that the yarn I like the least is at the bottom of my to knit pile.

blogging to: Retro Cocktail Hour

reading: The City of Falling Angles by John Berendt

Parting Shot:
"I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December
A magical thing
And sweet to remember.

'We are nearer to Spring
Than we were in September,'
I heard a bird sing
In the dark of December.

~ Oliver Herford, I Heard a Bird Sing
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