Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Wrap Up

I have a little vacation. Four days off. No kids until 2011. This was a surprise. I thought I'd have them today and start the regular routine on Monday, but vacation days for parents frees me up to get my life in order for the new year and to do some major book reading and movie watching, relaxing and new year planning.

So a little review of how the resolutions of 2010 went.

1. No joining in on knit alongs.

I didn't join in any knit alongs until December, when I started the Advent Scarf. Don't regret it. I had plenty of time as I did no Christmas knitting. I haven't finished it yet but am making good progress and will probably have it done in the next two weeks. It is beautiful.

2. No knitting bags.

Nope haven't even thought about it. I think I am over this.

3. Taking only classes for items I am interested in.

Took a toe up sock class (great) and the Diamond and Pearls shawl also great and probably the most difficult thing I have knit so far.

4. Stop impulse buying.

I have to work on this. I did well all year, only buying for projects I was working on. Then the December Knit Picks sale happened and I succumbed to temptation and ordered more yarn that I really don't "need".

5. Keep to my list of queued items and not get sidetracked by new projects.

Kept to this fairly well which was why I allowed myself a knit along in December.

6. Improve my knitting, try new techniques, immerse myself in technique.

I'm working on this. Got to color work late in the year and will continue in 2011. Did more lace knitting and am learning a lot, improving my skills.

Reach my goal weight and read more. Not so much.

I am still struggling with the weight. The new program at WW has allowed me to reclaim my 15 pounds and hopefully this will continue. I actually read less this past year than last ( by 2 books).

What I accomplished in 2010:

2 Stuffed animals for kids

5 Sweaters

5 hats

3 shawls

7 pairs of socks

2 afghans

2 scarfs

I knitted 13.8 miles of yarn. Two projects were completed from very old stash yarn and eight from newer yarn that was re-purposed, or used up odds and ends from older projects.

So for 2011 here are the knitting resolutions:

1. Continue with culling out the stash and knitting from it. I had the rule of no new yarn until 10 items were finished and kept to it well. This year I will continue to knit from the stash. I am going to go through all the stash this weekend and prioritize projects.

2. Organize projects by quarters. I will have all the projects I want to complete for the first quarter of 2011 separated with their patterns and ready to grab and go. The first thing for the first quarter is to finish the Advent Scarf and DH's socks.

3. In conjunction with resolution #2, no new yarn for the first quarter of 2011.

4. Any new projects that need yarn, I want to buy yarn from indie dyers and independents. I want to be a little more adventurous with my yarn purchases. I won't do much of this, as I have plenty of yarn in my stash, but I want to have the oooh factor working when I get yarn.
Other things to work on:

1. Stop wasting time in the morning. I get up at 6:00am and usually spend this time on the internet. I usually check out blogs and comments from the groups on Ravelry that I am a member of and suddenly I fall down the rabbit hole and 3 hours have disappeared. I should be using this time for reading and knitting, or getting something accomplished.

2. Stop wasting food. I have been better at using up food, especially produce that gets overlooked until it goes bad. I want to continue with this and extend a little by doing better planning meals and buying only what I need at the grocery store.

3. Really embrace the new Weight Watcher plan and get to my goal weight and stay there.

4. Read more and include one piece of classic literature (Dickens, Dumas, and Austen come to mind) every quarter.
I love the start of new year and the idea of 365 days to fill with the things and people I love.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Little After-Christmas Glow

The kids will be here all week so we will be busy and tired! We had a wonderful Christmas, with lots of eating and playing with new toys, and gadgets, wearing of new clothes and general togetherness. I say it constantly, how did I do all of this when I was working full time? I get crazy now when I have all this free time and it takes all my energy to get everything finished.
This year we actually had to make time for the kids to come over and do the Christmasy things, like making gingerbread men and women and making the Christmas graham cracker village. We usually do them on the weekend before Christmas, but we went to the BPO Christmas concert instead, so had to make up the time during the week.
I assembled the houses ahead of time, since it is fiddly and the kids can't wait to start the decorations before the houses are completely dry.
Let the decorating begin!
Quite the mess!
But the finished project and the quality time - priceless!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

After the Solstice and Before Christmas

Well, I am finally in a Christmasy mood. Presents are wrapped, trees are up and decorated,

(this is the kids tree in the den that has a Fisher Price nativity set and a train running around it, totally kid friendly)

cookies are made, (there are Pecan Tassies, Hello Dolly bars, pizzelles, cuidati aka Italian Fig cookies, gingerbread, jam thumbprints, Mexican wedding cakes and cutouts.

Christmas dinner is made and in the freezer and all is right with my world. We had two of the grandchildren over yesterday for an evening of cookie making and pizza and wing eating. When I told the littlest granddaughter that we were going to make gingerbread men, she asked, "Why not gingerbread ladies?". Bless her little feminist heart. I feel I have made a mark as another generation of little girls fights for gender equality.
We went a little crazy with the frosting!

Here is a picture of decorated men and ladies. We had lots of fun, made a big mess and when we took them home we oohed and ahhed over the decorated houses and had a fun contest counting lighted Christmas trees.
I am on day 5 of the Advent scarf and am really enjoying the various beautiful lace patterns the designer picked for this project. I probably won't get this done by the end of the year much less Christmas, but no worries, it is a great project that I will finish in the beginning of the new year.
We have passed the day my DH hates the most, winter solstice (although I really love the dark, cozy time) and are now on the other side to brighter, sunnier days!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Some Finished, Some Not So Much

This is the Fake Fair Isle hat using the fair isle technique described in the Philosopher's Wool website. Works really well to make a nice woven fabric with no loops on the back. The only thing I would do differently is use a 2x2 ribbing rather than the 1x3 called for. It's bitterly cold and snowy today, so it's going to get it's first wearing when I pick up the littlest granddaughter at school today.

I'm having a much better time knitting the Advent scarf now that I am using Knit Pick's Gloss. I'm on day 4 and may get it done before I have to leave today. No, I am not going to try to catch up. I am just enjoying the knitting. It will be a bit bigger than I expected but that is all to the good. Plus I get to read all the posts and learn by other's mistakes or misreading of the pattern.
Since this project needs concentration and quiet, I needed a simple one to use for TV knitting.

Two summers ago I made the Lizard Ridge afghan out of Plymouth Boku and had lots of little bits of yarn left. I weighed it and there were over 250 grams, which translated into more than enough for the Noro 1x1 ribbed scarf that has been all the rage. I have read about it in so many blogs and people were rapturous about it. So I began. And now I know what all the shouting was about. It is absolutely addicting. I find myself mesmerized by the way the colors morph into other colors. I am not trying to match the two balls I am knitting with. I kind of randomly

pick out the next ball and spit splice it on. No matter what I choose, the colors seem to go together, or show each other off beautifully. It is like magic.

Monday, December 6, 2010


There is not much to show on the knitting front today, so I have added some snow pictures. We are north of the city, so weren't effected much by the lake effect snow last week that stranded motorists on the Thruway for 24 hours. We had about 3 or 4 inches and the streets were clear. Just enough to have some fun in the backyard with the grands while the parents shopped on Saturday. Grandson #1 made a diorama on the picnic table with soldiers and sticks. Today, and all this week according to the weather reports, we are going to get more snow ending with a snow storm on Sunday. Right now it's steady, but light-clinging to the branches of the pines and making everything look Christmasy .

I am moving right along on hubby's first knitted socks. And the Fake Fair Isle hat has been a learning experience. I believe I now get the "Philosopher's Wool" technique of knitted with two colors and creating a woven fabric on the wrong side. No more long strands to catch fingers! I highly recommend the video on their site, beautifully explained.

So while I was reading through posts on the Knitting Lace a-z group in Ravelry (one of my favorite enabling sites for lace patterns) There was mention of two advent mystery knitting projects. Two lace scarves with 24 clues appearing one each day of December. An advent calendar you can wear.

Now, one of my resolutions this year was to not fall down the rabbit hole of KAL's and I've completely kept this resolution, even thought the Knitmore girls Cece cardigan has sorely tempted me. I have been good and weeded through my stash getting rid of old yarn, knitting up items that have been languishing for years and generally not buying yarn for new projects until 10 items have been completed.

So I figured since I was actually looking for something to make out of some lace weight yarn I have in my stash, this would be a great project. The first clue was an easy start that gave a pretty edging the spacer rows were completed without beads, as I want to wear this with my new coat and beads would feel cold on my neck. All was right with my world.

The clue for the second day done me in. It is a lily of the valley type section with nupps. Now I have made many garments with bobbles without a problem. But I found this section completely baffling. I knit and re-knit it twice. Then ripped back the entire piece and started over. Got to the second pattern and gave up. The rows didn't turn out right as far as count and the appearance was less then stellar.

Thinking there was an error in the directions, I logged on to the group and scanned the pictures people had posted of their completed work. By this time, of course I was days behind and had spent the better part of Saturday frogging, reknitting and getting frustrated.

No, no errors and beautiful pictures of three or four completed sections. It was me. I have never been so flummoxed. I ripped the whole thing out and put the yarn away, thinking I just couldn't get it.

Of course, I couldn't leave it there. A lot of the knitters were using fingering weight, instead of lace weight. The yarn I was using was alpaca, slippery and hairy. Maybe I should try fingering weight. So on Sunday I sat down with some white sock yarn, cast on 87 stitches, and went through the second pattern, marking each repeat with stitch markers. What a difference! I was able to complete the nupps perfectly and the pattern finally made sense to me. Of course I don't have 1000 yards of fingering weight in gray in my stash, so I placed an order for some KnitPick Gloss this morning. I will be hopelessly behind, but so what. It is a beautiful scarf, another good learning experience and I will have a new scarf for the new year. Win, win, win!

I should know better than to try lace without stitch markers.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Knitting Much?

So Thanksgiving is over and the Christmas season is well underway and I can't believe how little I've blogged. So this post is a catch -up and I might even get to knitting.

The turkey went in the oven by 8:00 am at 325 degrees. By 3:00, I was hyperventilating, again, about it not being done. I was anticipating it out of the oven at that time and everything else going in to heat up. It came out about a half hour later and was done but after slicing, we saw pockets of underdone spots that I recooked in the microwave (just to be sure). We made up 7 pounds of mashed potatoes and had way too much. Two packages of bread cubes with 1 1/2 pounds of sausage and lots of dressing. Like to reheat it the next day with turkey and gravy-----turkey mush, as we call it. Didn't run out of any vegetable but didn't have a lot left over. Need to make 2 chocolate pies next year, the kids really like it and fight over it, with none left over. Otherwise a comfortable number of pies with lots to take home and 4 pieces left over for us to enjoy. All in all a very successful dinner, with lots of laughing, talking and family togetherness. Perfect.

The turkey carcass had so much meat left on it that was very difficult to remove, so on Friday I put it in the stock pot and made a very rich, thick soup. We have enough for three more meals, at least. I froze it with out pasta. I cooked the pasta separately and put it in the hot soup rather than cooking it with the soup. Came out very firm and delish, not mushy like it sometimes does.

The kids came over on Saturday and we dug out all the decorations and started to get in the Christmas mood. For some reason I'm having a real hard time with that. I shopped on Monday and Tuesday and cybershopped Tuesday and Wednesday and am pretty much done.

I picked out buttons for the purple mock cable sweater and had it blocking on Thanksgiving, so it was done but not worn.

Here it is unblocked. I was worried that blocking would flatten out the cables, since they were formed just by a knit and purl pattern, not regular twisted stitches, but the sweater has been in my bin and pulled out and put back so much over 3 years that it really needed a good cleaning. So I soaked it, gently blocked it and shut the door on it and made Thanksgiving dinner. On Monday when I opened the craft room door, the sweater was blocked beautifully and ready for its buttons. It still retained the cable detail I was afraid blocking would remove.

This is a mid-thigh length sweater and fits very well. I will take an outdoor picture when I sew on the buttons that will, hopefully, show the detail better.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanksgiving Planning

Since every Thanksgiving I go a little crazy trying to remember what and how much of everything I made for dinner, I thought I would use the blog to keep track. It might as well be useful, right.
So last week I cooked and froze 10 sweet potatoes (in casserole), 4 butternut squash (they were a small to medium size), 2 rutabagas, 2 frozen packages of brussel sprouts cooked with red onions and balsamic vinegar, and two frozen packages of pearl onions which I roasted.
Today I am going to cook 3 packages of cranberries (can never have too much cranberry sauce) and make the two pumpkin pies and put those in the freezer.
I bought an 18.9 pound premium fresh turkey from Wegman's. We are going to have 8 adults and 4 children for dinner, with two more adults and 4 children joining us for dessert.
I have the ingredients for a cherry pie, apple pie and chocolate pudding pie, which I will make on Wednesday.
I am also planning to make the dressing on Wednesday and stuffing the turkey and have it in the oven by 9:00am on Thursday with dinner at 4:00.
I have been on 5 websites and have 5 different answers to how long to cook the bird. No wonder I obsess about this every year!
I want to plan this so that the only thing I have to cook on Thanksgiving day are the mashed potatoes and crescent rolls (bought 3 containers). Oh yeah, the turkey too!

I just checked out my last post and I can't believe it was in October. Will have a knitting update soon. Now have to put groceries away and cook.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Your Reach Should Exceed Your Grasp

Maybe I'm being a bit too ambitious in my goal to clean out some of the projects that have been hanging around forever but I think I actually do better on attaining my goals if I over reach. I am using Ravelry to manage my projects (was there a world without Ravelry at one time and how did we survive?). I took two projects out of hibernation and added seven others. I will include the pictures when I actually start the projects. Not sure I will finish but since I am not knitting any Christmas presents this year I may succeed. I finished the Who? hat for DD#2 but I think I am going to reknit it. For some unknown reason I used size 6 needles. A "What was I thinking" moment. It is really too small. I'll reknit it on a size 8 like all the rest.
I sat down with the purple mock cable sweater and figured out where I was in the pattern. Before I started to knit, I had to also figure out why this was such a slow knit. Now I love working from graphs. I remember vividly the first issue of Knitters magazine that had all the instructions as graphs. I was very intimidated and it took me a few years before I tried them. Now, I would never knit from instructions over graphs. It is very visual and easy (for me) to follow. This pattern is a 16 row repeat of alternating knit and purl stitches that make a very interesting cabled look. I found it extremely difficult and that is the reason it languished for longer than I like to acknowledge.
On thinking it through, I decided to try writing out the pattern repeat on my trusty index card pad. I used one card to write two lines of pattern, since the wrong side row mirrors the right side row. That way I got all 16 rows on 8 cards. By flipping the pages, I am able to remember where I stop and can pick up very easily when I return to my knitting (unless someone moves the pad and accidentally flips the pages). This saves an amazing amount of time. I was also able to indicated the rows that are decreased for the neckline decreases.

I have been working away on this and am finding it so much better than trying to follow the graph. I actually think I can get the second front and the two sleeves done this month. There is no finishing to speak of, just sewing the seams together. So it may very well be possible that I will wear this on Christmas but Thanksgiving would be nice, too.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Finishing Friday?

I love listening to knitting podcasts. I started with the Knit Picks podcast and listened and re-listened to Kelley. Loved her! Sadly, these seem to have come to an end. But there certainly are a ton of others to choose from. My personal favorites are the Knitmore Girls, Cast On, Sticks and String, CraftLit, Fiber Beat and just recently I discovered the KnitWits. One of the, for me, primary criteria for listening (other than content) is a good radio voice and a limit to often repeated irritants, like "uums" and "you guys". They have tons of tips and pattern and yarn recommendations and it's like having a fiber friend in my ear, as I do my daily exercising.

The Knitmore Girls, started Finishing Friday, a day devoted to the sometimes put off parts of knitting, sewing up, putting on buttons, weaving in yarn ends and was thinking of doing the same thing.

But something came to me as I near the completion of the Clapotis II and was thinking about what big project to start next. I have quite a few "hibernating" projects and projects that are filling up a basket in my craft room. I think I am going to spend the rest of the year finishing up these projects and work on some of the hats, gloves and socks that I want for winter. Then in the new year I can really start with a fresh slate!

I have a lovely purple sweater that has the back and an almost completed left front that I would love to get done. That will be my big project. There is an entreloc scarf, the cream bedspread that needs to be put together and the swallowtail shawl. I have three hat, scarf and mitten sets
one in purple, one in white and one in pink that I have been mulling over and a "fake" fair isle hat and a ribbed scarf to go with it from the leftover bits of Boku from my Lizard Ridge afghan.

There are assorted skeins meant for gifts, all small projects that can be finished in a couple of days.

Here's a picture of the finished Clapotis before it gets sent off to its new owner. I enjoyed knitting this so much that I think I'll make one for daughter #3 and one for myself! Can't remember why I didn't like knitting the first one!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

While I was Waiting

Knitting this week was surprising. I have moved my February Ladies sweater to the basket upstairs. The yarn isn't making me happy. This may become slippers or get thrown out. Not sure which. While I was thinking about what to knit next, some yarn jumped out at me and I started another Clapotis. I had the yarn but was not even considering this as a next project, but I already have three of the stitches dropped on the straight section. And it is very soothing knitting. I really didn't enjoy the first one I made and never thought I would make it again, but I must admit I'm enjoying it this time around.

I am still in love with the Flower Basket shawl. I actually threw it over my shoulders this morning because it was definitely chilly in here but not cold enough to turn on the fireplace or furnace. I can't wait to start another lace project but am not sure which one it will be.

The weather is sunny but chilly and because of the frost warnings we picked everything off the plants. This meant teeny tiny eggplant and a few sprigs of broccoli. I wasn't sure what to do with the eggplant, then decided to roast it. I cut it in nice thin slices along with the banana peppers and tossed it all with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt and pepper, laid it out in a single layer on cookie sheets then roasted at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes. I put this in the freezer and it will be a definite yum this winter.

Grandson #2 is staying over the weekend while his folks are celebrating their anniversary. Having a good time with him. Movie night last night, game night tonight, I'm thinking.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

F is For Flower Basket

I am in love with knitting lace. I started this shawl on October 1st, brought it with me on vacation and finished it October 12th. It is the Evelyn Clark Flower Basket pattern using Knit Picks Gloss Fingering weight yarn in the colorway Dolphin.

About the yarn: Gloss is a merino and silk blend that has a nice, well, gloss to it. The pattern calls for 2 skeins of 400 yards of lace weight yarn, held double. This seems to make a shawlette and I wanted something a bit bigger. Each skein of Gloss is 220 yards and I used 3, knit separately. My intention was to knit until the yarn was gone. The yarn was smooth, so stitch definition showed up beautifully. It really is a lovely yarn at a very reasonable price. The color is a dusky blue which I am very partial to.
The pattern: This is a top-down triangular shawl. It increases two stitches on each end and two stitches on either side of the center stitch every other row. The wrong side is purled.
There is a chart for the first 10 rows and another that is repeated 7 times . I did 14 repeats and my finished shawl before blocking was 23 x 54 inches.

It is a sad, bumpy looking blob, isn't it?

I had 5 grams of yarn left over, certainly not enough to do another pattern repeat.

During blocking, size grew to 39 x 68 inches. It is always amazing what blocking does to lace.

After drying. It is exactly the right size to wear around my shoulders over a coat or dress.
I'm a member of the knitting lace a-z group on Ravelry, hence the name of the shawl. I think I have an I, the Icarus, a D for Diamonds and Pearls for the shawls, M for Montigo Bay scarf and B for Beaded Lace Scarf. I don't count the Clapotis since I really don't think that is lace knitting. I am going to see how many letters of the alphabet I can match with the lace I knit, but I'm not going in order, just making what appeals to me. There may be quite a few B projects, as I have Bitterroot and Brandywine waiting in my projects basket with their yarn.

Monday, October 11, 2010

And We're Back!

We had a wonderful week at Letchworth. It rained Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday which made for a spectacular amount of water going over the three falls and some challenging walking on wet, slippery trails. I had every intention of chronicling our week using my iPhone to do blog updates, but remote hillsides do not have good service, so I journaled the old fashioned way with a pen and paper.
Monday-I knit on a new pair of traveling socks on the 2 hour ride. We were amazed at a line of windmills that had sprung up since our last trip that went on across the hillside as far as the eye could see. They were in farmer's backyards and fields with cows grazing nearby. An incredible sight.
The rain had the Genesee River changed from its usual placid look to a raging torrent. The middle falls at Letchworth was a churning mass.
We walked around the falls for a bit, had dinner at the inn and walked a bit more afterward. It was too cold to stay out on the porch, which is our favorite thing to do , so we went up to the library, which is a large room that has the only TV in the place and lots of seating. It is a gathering place for the guests and all the chairs were filled. Usually there may be one or two couples up there but the rain kept everyone indoors.
Tuesday morning was also rainy and for the first time ever, we couldn't walk our early morning trail, trail #2, which starts at the upper falls and goes for 2 miles through the woods, ending up back at the Inn. We stayed on the roads and walked about a mile and a half. We went to Hammondsport and picked up over three cases of wine at various wineries. Sampled a few new ones, but primarily stuck with the wines we have had before.
Wednesday started out rainy and again, we couldn't walk our trail but we walked around the middle falls before breakfast. We went to Inspiration point and walked trail # 1 until it got too slippery from the rain. Even wearing our waterproof coats we were soaked through! It finally stopped raining and we sat in a pavilion at the lower falls for the afternoon, reading, knitting(me) and snacking.
Thursday was the best of the days, sunny, warm with the crisp fall light and blue, blue sky that make fall so special. We were able to hike our favorite trails and we sat out at Wolf Creek in the sunshine, reading, knitting and snacking (one of our favorite pastimes).
I had my pedometer with me so I could get an idea of how much we walk. It was over 17,000 steps each day. The color was at about 50% and these pictures do not do it justice. I had to use my iPhone camera since my good camera was not holding a charge. I have to replace the battery, I guess. In spite of the rain, we did everything we usually do, including sitting out in the evening on the porch, eating great meals, relaxing and we even got to see a train going across the trestle over the upper falls, DH's favorite thing.

Friday we came back home, got the dog (who had such a good time at the kennel she didn't move all afternoon) and unpacked. Saturday was another gorgeous day with laundry and lawn mowing looming and Sunday was sunny with just a snap of cold that was perfect football weather. We went to #1 grandson's game. Perfect, if only they had won! He got his name announced on the loudspeaker because of a great tackle.
I got some knitting done and I was smart not to bring as much as I usually do. I knit up to the toe on one of my travelling socks and got through the 7 repeats of the Flower Basket shawl the pattern called for. It has me puzzled, because I only used one skein of yarn (220) yards to get there. The pattern calls for 2 skeins (400 yards) of lace weight yarn held double. Hmm, it looks okay and the # of stitches is correct, so I don't think I goofed anything up. I have three skeins because I wanted a larger shawl. I knit through the second skein and I have 14 "flowers" . I think the third skein will take me through 3 more repeats of the pattern before I finish the edging.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Lessons Learned

Yesterday was a day to clean the house, start packing and get ready for our week at Letchworth State Park. No, I don't camp. We stay at the Glen Iris Inn in the park. We have been going for over 20 years, always the week before Columbus day, always the same room on the third floor. Once the weather turns a little cooler and the leaves start to fall, a feeling comes over me that is telling me "It's almost time to go to the park". We love it. We hike the trails, check out the beautiful views of the canyon and falls and turning leaves, loaf in the sun reading and napping and eating great food. One of the days, usually a rainy one, we will drive to Hammondsport and stop at a few wineries and pick up a few cases of wine to get us through the winter. We usually eat a late lunch at the restaurant at Bully Hill, stop at Lorraines for home made pie and ice cream.

I usually pack way too much stuff. The restaurants are very casual, the clothes you wear for hiking are perfectly acceptable for dining. So this year I am not taking as much. Same with the books and knitting. I will have my mp3 player which has a ton of books on it. Haven't decided what type I will listen to. I am leaning toward the very light, however. The last few books I've read have been very dark and I need a change. I'm taking a couple of cosy mysteries that I haven't tried yet. I gave up on the Coffeehouse series. Not that they are badly written, I just didn't feel any empathy for the heroine. Not my cup of tea, I guess. The four that I have yet to read will go on Paperback Swap when I get back. Too many good books out there to waste my time on ones that don't hold my interest. I'm still on the lookout for the series that will be as good as Agatha Raisin and Hamish MacBeth.

As for knitting, I am not taking my February Lady Sweater. That is in time out while I decide if I want to continue it. I have gone through about half the yarn and am only about an inch past the garter stitches. The yarn is a gorgeous color but it is very harsh, like knitting with Brillo pads. I loved the sweater that it used to be and wore it quite a bit. Maybe it was just because I didn't know any better yarns at that time. Also, my hands need something soft and easy since they are hurting. The last three projects, the cotton diagonal blanket, the spideyman afghan and the Feb lady gave my fingers and wrists a lot of pain. So I am taking vanilla socks, the Flower basket shawl in beautiful blue Glossand another lace sock which hasn't been started yet. I'll decide whether the lady continues or gets thrown out when I return. Yarn that is of no use is moving on out of here. There is too much good yarn to be knit to waste time on bad yarn.

See, my resolutions are still going strong.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The spiderman blanket is finished! At least the knitting is done. I still have to crochet the lines of the web and I found a graph for a spider on Kathy Taylor's "We call Him Spidey" mittens that I am going to duplicate stitch on the blanket. I will probably make the mittens for Baby D and Mikey out of a washable fingering weight wool. I think that means I am doing mittens for Christmas. I may be crazy. 10 pair of mittens would be one pair a week. Possibly doable. I am going to pick out a pattern for one pair with yarn in my stash and see how long it takes me.

I am really pushing the knitting time on the February Lady Sweater that I am making out of recycled yarn. I worked on it quite a bit yesterday trying to get past the garter stitch top to the point of separating the sleeves and putting them on holders. Got up to one row before the separation then fatigue set in and I had to go to bed. I am not sure I'm going to have enough yarn to get full length sleeves. This may be a vest, short sleeved, 3/4 sleeve or full sleeve depending on the yarn. I will finish the body, weigh the yarn and divide in two and knit as far as I can.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Little Rant

Pardon me while I rant, just a little bit. I was catching up on my favorite blogs and websites this morning, and I don't know if it was an over indulgence in caffeine, the fact that this is the last full day of summer or what, but I was struck by the huge amount of misspellings and the misuse of contractions especially your and you're that I encountered. There was not one single blog that I read that used this correctly.
Now, I am not a perfect speller or grammarian. I usually have to consult a dictionary and rely heavily on spell check, but I try. It doesn't seem that anybody is trying any more, especially with contractions. So the sentence "(YOUR,YOU'RE) going to love (YOUR,YOU'RE) new yarn" should be a no-brainer. Your - possessive. You're - a contraction of you are. Simple. Just say it out loud.
I recently listened to an NPR piece about the guys who wrote "The Great Typo Hunt: Two Friends Changing the World, One Correction at a Time" travelling across the US with white out and sharpies to correct the typos they found. Don't you want to do that sometimes?
Edited for typos:)))

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Subconscious

Got my Knit Picks package yesterday. Love it when yarn comes in the mail. I thought I had ordered just two of each of the four Simply Cotton Organic Worsted Yarn colors to finish the brown diagonal blanket, but I had ordered a third skein in Marshmallow. While I was kicking myself for adding an unnecessary skein and trying to figure out what to do with it, I laid out the skeins to see how I wanted the colors placed. Lo and behold, my subconscious must have taken over when I ordered because this skein will be the break in the middle of the blanket that will go from increases to decreases. Perfect. This project will be my mindless TV knitting when anything I might be working on is too complicated or my mind needs a rest. It will probably take me a while to complete as there is a lot of yarn. No hurry, though.

I am really getting psyched on knitting lace and may try something from Herbert Niebling. My Diamonds and Pearl Shawl is so beautiful and was such an adventure to knit, I have been bitten by the lace knitting bug. I'll be starting two small Evelyn Clark shawls next, the Swallowtail and the Flower Basket. Don't know what I'll do with them, maybe just hang them on the wall to admire.
Yesterday was #1 grandson's 12th birthday, cake tonight!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Not a Hoarder

I caught a full episode of Hoarders the other night. In the past I have just seen snippets of this show and was appalled. Now I am horrified! I can see how easy it is to slip into the mind set of sentimental attachment to things and the maybe I'll need it someday thoughts.
I don't have a huge stash of yarn but I do have a stash and have been reluctant to get rid of anything, hence the thirty year old stuff I pulled out recently that was unknittable. Yesterday I opened all the bins and filled up a trash bag with stuff I have had forever and will never knit. In fact some of it no one will ever knit with. I also have the tendency to keep that little teeny leftover bit of yarn that isn't enough to make anything with but I just can't let it go. So I am putting all the bits in another bag and will knit up scrap afghans for charity. I am looking for a pattern that is easy, mindless knitting. I feel better already. A benefit: more space for new yarn (just kidding).

I also went through some old sweaters I knit years ago and have kept even though I rarely wore them when they were new. Sometimes a pattern and yarn seem like just the right project and turn out unwearable. Into another bag to get donated. Feeling better and better. This winter I am going to go through all the drawers and cupboards and the few remaining boxes in the basement and get rid of the dregs of stuff that is just clutter.

I'm doing well with knitting up from my stash before buying anything new, at a ratio of 10 to 1. Ten projects knit before buying yarn for 1 new project. I just placed a Knit Picks order using the 2 gift certificates I got for my birthday. I ordered yarn to complete the organic cotton diagonal throw in shades of brown. Great yarn, by the way. Four skeins of sock yarn to make a cardigan similar to the one I made in linen/cotton this summer. I have finally found the right look and fit for me! The order also included yarn for the Flower Basket Shawl that I started with the very old yarn and couldn't complete because it was splitting. I also ordered some replacement needles and some notions and long cables (60 and 47 inches) since I seem to be knitting very large items lately. Love it when I am waiting for a knitting package to arrive.

The Spiderman blanket is on two circular needles and knitted with a third because it is so big. Knitting this way is killing my hands so it's on hold until the new cables arrive.This blanket was also using up some stash yarn and I thought I would be safe with the amount I had. Would you believe I am about two yards short on the blue and had to order 1 more skein. DH says to make mittens or slippers with it and I may just do that. I want to get rid of this stuff!

We are entering the end of our vegetable garden production and I have processed so much that the freezer is full to bursting. The raspberries are ripening and we get about a quart every day. Lots get eaten and lots get frozen! This picture is one days worth of ripe raspberies.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Start Up

Yesterday was a great day. Got a lot done including making double chocolate brownies for the back to school kids and peeling and freezing 1/2 bushel of peaches for the winter. I am in heaven when tomatoes and peaches are ripe in our garden and at the farmers market, so much so that they are eaten at every meal until like now, I reach my limit. They will be a real treat in the winter when summer is a dim memory.

The Yarn Harlot has a great blog post today (as she always does) about the start of the school year seeming more like the real new year. New beginnings, clean notebook pages, folders without creases and stains, a whole bunch of new pencils, all sharp and pointy WITH erasers! I actually had to buy myself a new notebook, since I no longer have to supply anyone with supplies for school but couldn't resist the shiny new stuff.
It's spiral bound day glow index cards. I have one with just white pages that I use for copying patterns such as my basic sock pattern, that I need to be portable. Small enough to slip into a small knitting bag, big enough to be able to find easily and it doesn't get dog-eared or crumpled.
The garden is getting a little ragged. The petunias are leggy and brown but the gladiolas are still blossoming. The earlier ones were all bright reds and whites with red centers, these are pastels in yellow, pink and apricot.
I'm off to reorganize the yarn bins in my craft room. I want to put all the color work yarn in one clear sided bin, so that I can easily see what I have. We'll see how far I get today!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back to School

We're going to have a very warm, sunny day today which always seems to happen on the first day back to school when kids want to wear their new corduroys and long sleeved shirts. The weekend was cold, windy, rainy and would have been much better weather to face the return to normal. It is going to get cooler later today and for the rest of the week, so that should take a little of the sting away.

I'm going to make a batch of double chocolate brownies as an after school treat for later today when I start my fall routine. Right now I am enjoying the total quiet at my house, since DH is back to work.

Knitting wise, I am still working on the Spiderman afghan which is killing my wrist and fingers, heavy duty acrylic and lots of pushing along the needles seems to be the culprit.

Baby D liked the trucks I sent and he should receive the books today, so I'm not in a hurry with it, just want it to be done.

We are eating the bounty from our garden and the weather has been great for baking raspberry pie and eggplant parm. Have tons more raspberries on the bushes and I am freezing quite a bit. Never did this before but it seems to work just fine.
This garden is a bed that was planted with perennials which were all removed and put in the new beds that were added around the deck and porch. The plan was to plant this with all lilies with different blooming times and until we purchased them I planted zinnias, cosmos and sunflowers to keep the weeds at bay. We liked the look so much we just keep planting the annuals. They blossom in late summer through fall and keep color in the garden when everything else is just about done.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The End and the Beginning

September first! The summer is coming to an end and it seems like it just started! It's been a beautiful, hot sunny summer with just enough rain to make the garden grow and the vegetables flourish. We are getting one last few hot pool days. The weather last week was definitely fallish, highs in the 60's. But in the past few days it has been hot enough (high 80's - 90's) to get the pool temperature back in the 80's, so we have been spending as much time as possible swimming and having one last go at swimming until we are all tired out.

This is the last day of having the grandkids to watch during summer vacation. School starts next Tuesday but mom and dad have the next few days off to finish up school shopping and haircuts and all those last minute things.

The "baby" starts all day kindergarten, so nana will pick her up and walk her home after school, that's at 3:00 pm. Daddy gets home by 4:00. So just a little piece of my day will be spent with the kids.
DH is starting back to work, part time three days a week from September to March also beginning next Tuesday.
So what all that means is that I will have uninterrupted blocks of time to myself. I think the last time that happened was when MY baby was in kindergarten. After that I went back to work.
To be honest, I'm not sure what I will do to fill the time. I have lots of knitting, sewing, cross-stitch, quilting and smocking projects sitting around gathering dust. There is also cupboard and closet cleaning. Lots of books to read and lots of trim painting to finish. It's been waiting since we had the windows replaced, was that 2 or three years ago? I want to have the piano tuned and restored, so maybe piano lessons are on the horizon.
Hmm, I guess I do know what I will do to fill the time. I will use the blog to report on my productivity. Sometimes you get more done when you are pressed for time and trying to fit a million things in, rather than when you have great parcels of time on your hands.

I am making progress on the spideyman blankie and it looks great. I am being a monogamous knitter with this project but I still won't make it by the 6th of September. Maybe close to it though.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What is Vintage?

As most knitters do, I have a stash. For non-knitters, a stash is yarn you HAD to have NOW to knit something, RIGHT-THIS-MOMENT. As soon as you get it home, you admire it, look at it a while, pet it, put it in the yarn basket in the living room, then move it to the box in the craft room to make room for the new yarn you HAD to have RIGHT NOW, then it gets moved to the tub under the stairs in the basement to make room in the craft room and remains there until you have no more room for anything else and have to sort through all the storage tubs so you don't end up on a program like Hoarders.

As part of my 2010 resolution, I am knitting from my stash, one project from older yarn, one from newer yarn and not buying anything new until 10 projects are complete. So far so good. I have yarn that goes back to my yarn shop years in the 1980's. Yes that makes it 30 year old yarn. Yikes. Most of it is very high quality wool yarn that I still love and I have lost very little of it over the years to anything like m**hs or any other disasters.
I took out 500 yards of a pinky-purple Phildar yarn called Alpalima, an Alpaca blend that I have 7 skeins of, to make the Flower Basket Shawl. I don't remember what I originally bought this for but it must have been a colorwork sweater of some kind because I have 4 skeins of green, two of the purple and one cream. As I knit, the yarn was pulling apart. I re-wound it to check through the skeins to see if I could spot the weak parts but to the eye it looked okay. As I continued to knit, however, there were too many breaks and actual spots that were worn through one or two ply, to make it a worthwhile knit. It breaks my heart to say it, but this got thrown away. I am going to see if the green and cream have weakened in the same way and they too may met the same fate.
So as a cautionary tale, don't let your stash linger for 30 years. That "vintage" yarn may no longer be a viable knitting source.

I was doing a Google search for vintage images when I spotted a picture that took me to the blog Unraveling Sophia. She has a great blog and posts vintage patterns and books along with her own patterns. This particular vintage book rang a huge bell with me because it was the book I learned to knit from. I contacted Sophia for more information about the book (publisher, author) so I could look for a copy for myself. She very kindly gave me the info and also a website to order it from and this week I received it in the mail. Here it is in amazing condition, considering its age!

Christmas morning of 1951, when I was 7 years old, I opened a package that contained a knitting kit. Included in the kit was this book with a Christmas story, knitting instructions and patterns for doll outfits, yarn in red, white and blue to make the outfits and a knitting nancy shaped like the penguin in the story.

As I paged through the book and reread the story (which I vaguely remember and which has one scary-looking Santa), this page jumped out at me! I must have spent a lot of time looking at these instructions because it was like a trip in the way-back machine!
The first page is a letter to Mothers advising them that "Knitting cannot be learned through the medium of books as are the alphabet, grammar and history. Little girls cannot learn to knit by themselves unless mothers have the time and patience actually to show them how to do it."
My mother must have had an enormous amount of patience. I remember chasing her down to show me the stitches, just one more time. And I actually completed these two outfits, I am sure with a lot of help from mother.
What really amazes me is that the gauge is 7 stitches to the inch using size 3 or 4 needles. That makes it a fingering weight or light sport! I have been teaching my grandchildren to knit and use a worsted weight and size 7 or 8 needles. Some difference!
So a question is: Is it vintage if you remember using an item or does that make you vintage, too?
Thanks Sophia for enabling me to get my hands on a book that has so many good memories and thanks mom for giving me the gift of knitting that has sustained me all these years!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Best Things in Life

I spent a lot of money over the years, trying to have roses like my parents had, a beautiful rose garden, with a huge variety of colors and sizes. I would do everything right, feeding, spraying, covering them with mulch in the winter, only to have very limited success in summer and all of them dying over the winter. I had given up until I saw some roses for sale a few springs ago at the hardware store. They were $1.99 each, so I bought three, thinking six bucks for a few roses that summer was a bargain. Here they are three summers later still alive and blooming for the third or four time this year! I do little more than dead head them and they have been spectacular.

This is one of the many sunflowers that pop up all over the garden, a gift from the birds that drop them randomly as they eat. This actually is growing in a huge pot by the pool. I have culled them back in the garden to a manageable amount and there are a couple of small plots that I fill with sunflowers from a few packages I bought in the spring. It makes for a sunny display at a time when the garden is shutting down as we race toward fall! (It is 59 degrees this morning, no pool again today. I'm having serious withdrawal.)

This is a spiderman afghan that I have started for Baby D's 2nd birthday. Not sure I will have it completed by the 6th of September, but I'm going to give it a try. I knew hanging on to all those skeins of Reynolds Utopia that I have had in my stash for years, would come in handy some day!
Cheap, free, stash diving, it's all good!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Date Night and FO

Saturday DH and I decided to have a date night. Dinner and a movie or rather a movie then dinner, so we could go to an early and "cheaper" show and then dinner. Eight dollars per seat is not too cheap, but a little better than the normal price. We went to see Salt with Angelia Jolie as a CIA agent who is accused of being a Russian spy. She then goes on the run. It was a fun movie with lots of shooting, car crashes, jumping from high places and suspense. It was great to see a woman play the action hero role for a change. Only Angelina could pull that off. There were plot twists that I wasn't expecting and the action never stopped. Altogether a good choice.
Then dinner and we were home by 8:00, which was perfect since we had a doggie overnight guest and didn't want to leave the two dogs locked up for very long.
A rainy, overcast weekend allowed me to complete my other big summer project, the cotton diagonal afghan. This was Lion Brand Cotton Ease that I had purchased to make two great looking market bags until I realized I would never make market bags, too much work when I have so many cloth bags already that I use for that purpose. Decided that I could never have too many afghans, liked the way the colors looked together and liked the idea of a garter stitch project to offset the complex lace I was knitting. I divided the balls evenly (by weight) and used it all up. 1800 yards made a 49 inch x 49 inch afghan. I will use this pattern often, I'm sure, to use up leftover yarn.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It Sneaks Up On You, Doesn't It?

These really are the signs of a change of seasons:
This is what's left of a half bushel of tomatoes I picked from the garden this week. Some were eaten, a lot were given away. There's probably another half bushel ready to be picked. They will go in the freezer to be enjoyed all winter in soups and sauce. They are absolutely delicious due to the hot, beautiful summer we have had. Quite a bit different from the disaster of last year's tomatoes that developed a fungus and rotted because of the incredibly rainy summer.

The weather has turned a bit this week, so we have some cooler days, still in the high 70's, but there is definitely a feeling of fall in the air. The leaves are starting to collect in the pool, evenings are getting a little bit cooler and dark comes sooner and school starts in 2 weeks. I'm always surprized at how quickly summer comes to an end, but this year it really seemed to fly.
The Erie County Fair was this week, so we took two of the grandkids on Tuesday and went to see the animals. We also went on Thursday to enjoy as much of the fair food as we could hold. Granddaughter #4 was eager to see all the animals until we actually got close and she discovered they are big, noisy and a little scary.

She much preferred the life size plastic cow that could be "milked".