Saturday, January 30, 2010

What a Week

We had a very busy child watching week from Saturday until Friday. In addition to our regular after school watching the two children on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, we also had a Saturday both parents had to work day; a Monday and Tuesday night we're both teaching classes and his dad is out of town babysitting evenings; and a Friday girl is sick and is staying home today. They are all at great ages, very independent and lots of fun to have around, so it was not a terribly onerous ordeal for us at all. Lets see, cookie baking, movie watching, game playing, no not bad. In fact, I am happy we are able to be there for the grandchildren when we are needed.

But not much got done in the way of knitting. I am finishing up my blue cabled cardigan. Sewing it up, actually. All the knitting is finished. I have to go hunt up a zipper for it today and then give it a good wash. Hopefully I'll be able to wear it on Monday.

It certainly was cold enough to need it. Zero this morning. Thursday, January 28th we had a lake effect snow day. Lots of wind and snow. Being the hardy Buffalo citizens we are, nothing was closed. We just had to deal with it. There was not a lot of snow, maybe 3 or 4 inches, but the cold temps and wind made curling up by the fireplace awfully nice. This was the thirty-third anniversary of the Blizzard of '77, an event that everyone who lived through, remembers vividly. It was the only snow event declared a Federal Disaster. I was eight months pregnant with my third daughter and my husband was stranded at his office for three days. This is a great video and broadcast of the event.

Remember as you watch this, this was the aftermath with huge snow drifts up to the peaks of some houses. The storm itself was the most frightening event I have been through. The wind, incredibly low temps and the huge amount of snow on the ground and on the lake lasting for three days, was unbelievably scary

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Being Monogamous

I am working on one project. I have no other knitting on my needles . Not a plain sock. Not just a little hat. Nothing. I am giving monogamous knitting a try, for now. I feel like I've been so scattered with my projects, I haven't been giving them my best effort.

Not that I don't have plenty of yarn tempting me to start something new. Here is a bag of yarn that is by my chair waiting to be turned into hats.

I am finishing the last sleeve of my Blue Cabled Cardigan. I discovered an error in the first sleeve, two cables crossed incorrectly at about the middle of the sleeve. I discovered that when I was about 1 inch from the end. Instead of stopping and fixing it at that point, I continued on and cast off the sleeve. I have to decide if I can live with the error, rip back the whole sleeve, or drop the stitches and correct the mis-crossing. In the meantime, I am plodding on with my second sleeve, and only that sleeve. I really, really want to finish this sweater so I can wear it NOW.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Rainy Monday

It's raining. It rained ALL day yesterday and continued all night and it is still raining! January thaw anyone? The snow is almost all gone. Just ugly piles of dirty looking stuff by the streets. It is supposed to get colder with snow later today and tomorrow. Regular winter weather!

Chiara's sweater is finished and will go in the mail today. So, as it was finished on her birthday I didn't completely miss the date.

We had a movie weekend. For some reason, we haven't watched any movies for a long time maybe because nothing appealed to us. And now there seems to be an abundance of riches on HBO and pay-per-view.

On DH's ROMEO's (Retired Old Men Eating Out) night I watched "He's Just Not That Into You" which was an okay chick flick, just meant for a weeknight viewing alone.

On Friday night, I put on Julie and Julia which was as absolutely adorable as I had been lead to believe. I'm reading the book at the moment and will compare the two when I finish it.

Saturday night we watched Inglorious Basterds which is a typical Quentin Tarantino film, cartoonish yet somehow oddly compelling. I loved the "Aldo Ray" reference and the spaghettii western type music. Christoph Waltz was excellent as the evil Nazi. Be warned, subtitles (and they move pretty fast) don't allow for much knitting!

Can you see the hawk in the tree? We have multiple bird feeders, as do our neighbors. So our backyards are often the hunting grounds for hungry predators. They are magnificent aren't they!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I've Only Been Knitting One Thing

When a disaster such as the earthquake in Haiti happens, I marvel at humanity. The generous outpouring of money and prayers, with every one from big name entertainers to just the ordinary guy or gal giving what they can is always inspiring. Check out the amount raised by Yarn Harlot readers for Doctors without Borders. Amazing. Hopefully once this fades from the front pages and some other news takes its place, there will still be a commitment to continue the help.

Wednesday was my deadline to get Chiara's birthday present done and I did not completely make it. The bear and his sweater are finished and arrived in West Virginia in time for her birthday, but I am still working on her sweater. I think I over thought this project. Even though I made it to her measurements, it just looked small to me. And I kept reknitting and changing counts until I knew I wasn't going to meet the deadline. In a perfect world, I would have her close at hand and have her trying the garment on as I knit. Sigh. That is not meant to be with them so far away.

The Polar bear is a pattern from Fuzzy Mitten, a wonderful designer. Her patterns are very clear and have absolutely amazing detail that give her critters so much personality. I marvel at young mothers who can accomplish such things. I remember having a hard time getting showered when my kids were as little as her guy is.
I made the baby penguin for Nathan for Christmas and of all the gifts that were opened, that one was the most passed around and oohed and ahhed over. Give her patterns a try, you won't be disappointed.
I have all my other knitting on hold until that sweater gets finished. I should have it in the mail to her on Monday.
Tomorrow it is going to be in the 50's for a while. Goodness, my daffodils are going to start coming up!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

More Winter Pictures

The icicles on the "sunny" side of the house (stalactites) are making stalagmites on the ground. They are actually touching in some spots. The warm sun is melting the icicles and the cold temps are freezing the drops by the time they reach the ground. A real education on what takes decades to accomplish in caves.

I finished my "wine country" socks and put them on immediately. It's amazing how wool socks keep the whole body warm.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Few Tips

Read this article about women and sleep in the Huffington Post. It is so true. When I was working, the alarm went off at 4:30. In the years that we had baby watch (our #1 grandson) we sometimes didn't get to sleep until 11:00pm. We were trying to do it all on 5 1/2 hours of sleep. No wonder I am still trying to catch up!

I feel so much better when I force myself to get 7 and a half or 8 hours of sleep. And yes, it does take a push. There is so much to keep you from your bed. And I love getting up extra early in the morning, before anyone else, even the the sun. No demands, time to myself, quiet thinking time or reading time or surfing the Web time. Although, the winter with its dark days and nights, make me want to snuggle in.

I am working on my Blue Cabled Cardigan again. It was pushed to the side by Christmas. And I am now completing the sleeves. The yarn is a heathery blue Brunswick Germantown wool. It is a very smooth workhorse yarn that shows detail beautifully. Yes, it has been in my stash forever and is another one of those yarns that I absolutely love and is not made any more and was waiting for the exact right pattern before it became something other than wool I took out once a year and admired.

The thing about this particular group of eight skeins (more than enough for a sweater) was that three of the skeins were a different dye lot. I knew it when I bought it but I figured I would MAKE it work. There are a few tricks that can help hide differences in dye lots if you accidentally get wrong lots or like me, know that you are taking a chance.

A very general rule of thumb for yarn amounts for sweaters is thirds. One third of the yarn for the back, one third for the front and one third for the sleeves. So I put the three skeins of different dye lot aside for the sleeves and looked for a pattern that would have a lot of texture. This also can hide differences in dye lots.

Now, what you should always do is make a good size swatch staring with dye lot A. After a few inches, change to dye lot B and knit for another few inches. Wash the swatch and let it dry.

Take the swatch outside and look at it very carefully in full sun. Take a very critical look and don't try to kid yourself. Some dye lots are as different as night and day, some are just a tiny bit different and some are so similar as to make no difference.

If there is a very distinct color change, never knit these two dye lots together. No matter what you do, you will spot the changing colors and be unhappy about the outcome.

If there is a slight difference you can do several things.

Knit one or two rows with one dye lot and the next 2 rows with the other, alternating like this through the garment. This is way too much work for me, but it may work for you, especially if you have a goodly amount to incorporate.

If it is just one skein, use it in the ribbings. The different texture hides the color well.

In my case the dye lots are very similar so I am knitting both the sleeves in the different dye lot.

In any case keep it symmetric. Do both sleeves or the back or the front or both fronts, if it is a cardigan. This can fool the eye and won't be noticed.

Even if the colors look the same, I would take care and use the yarn as I mentioned. Sometimes yarns wear a little differently and what is not noticeable at first, can show over time.

Everyone seems to be having a Buffalo kind of January. Cold and snowier than usual. We are in the deep freeze, too. But that is usually our winter.

A couple of Winter tips. If you see a drift of snow on the roof with icicles hanging down and your granddaughter asks you to pull one off for her, make sure you are not standing under it when you do. The whole shebang came down when I touched this. They've been known to put your eye out.

Take out your wool sweaters, socks, whatever you have and put them on. That's what you knit them for.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Yarn Harlot Nearly Done Me In

I turned the pages of my new Never Not Knitting Page a Day Calendar and there it was on the page for Jan 5th, the suggestion to start your own sock KAL by going through your stash and picking out 12 patterns and yarn, putting them in a box or pillow case, then picking out a new sock adventure every month. What a great idea! I was reading the Yarn Harlot's blog and sure enough she was going to do it herself. Then on the Ravelry fan group there was a KAL for the KAL. Talk about a really skewed idea.

I actually started to pull out patterns and yarn before I got a good strong hold of myself and re-read my resolutions post. NO. MORE. KAL's. I didn't even get a week into the new year without serious temptation. See what I mean about Internet fumes?

However, I do need to decide on the next sock project since my "wine country " socks are almost done. The monkey sock has been hibernating in Ravelry so this is the next logical sock, yet I just can't seem to start it. I tried to figure out why I was so reluctant and I realize, it is the yarn.

I absolutely love these two skeins of yarn! The colors are almost the same combination as a summer dress I had as a child. It was brown and pink and yellow tiered stripes that I called my "ice cream" dress because it reminded me of Neapolitan Ice Cream. The Knit Picks Gelato has green in it also, but otherwise is very reminiscent of my dress. And it is discontinued! I feel there is no pattern on earth that is going to do it justice or be what I want it to be. So I am changing the yarn for the monkey socks to the Bordeaux kettle dyed I have in my stash.
Maybe someday I'll find just the right pattern!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas Cuteness

This is one of my Christmas presents this year. Isn't it fun! It's the Green Apple Snake figurine by Home Grown. One figure is cuter than the other. I have the Rabbit/Carrot also. even the box is cute!

I finished all 1076 pages of Stephen King's Under the Dome. It took me a week to get through and because we didn't have the kids all last week, I had reading time. I would give it 4 stars out of 5. Of course it was too long. He must get paid by the word and his editors are too much in awe of him to cut it down. I stopped reading King after Needful Things (just a horrible book , as I recall). I gave him another go with his newest books, Lisey's Story and Duma Key , both of which I really enjoyed.
In Under the Dome, King does what he does best, explores the characters (and there are many, many of them) and their actions and reactions to great stress in unbelievable situations. The ending and reason for the Dome was a little too much like a Twilight Zone episode for it to rank in the best of the best, but still not a bad way to spend a few days.
(Edited to add: I loved the shout outs he gave to:
Nora Roberts (I've been reading Nora since her first book Irish Thouroughbred. She got me through the kiddie years and nothing beats the In Death series
Jack Reacher. My number one favorite hero
Lost, the best television series ever.)
A bit more snow yesterday. We have about two feet on the ground and temps in the single digits. The roads are cleared so the kids had school yesterday. Nathan has a good 5 or 6 block walk to middle school and he was a sight to see as he walked home with his friends. He was covered with snow from his head to his feet. He looked like he had a great time, snowball fighting and just rolling in the snow mountains. Of course he was dressed well for the weather, snowsuit, wool hat and scarf (from Nana) and thick gloves. He did look a little like Randy in A Christmas Story.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Marshmallow World

Having a bit of a snow event today. It's been snowing steadily all day. Should stop about 6 pm, they say. No wind, but mighty cold temperatures. Right now it's an almost balmy 14 degrees. Up from a low of 9 when we got up this morning. Wind chill makes it about 1 degree. Broke out all the wool I could find, socks, sweaters, afghans etc. Hubby is keeping the indoor temp at 64. Hasn't even been noticeable until the last couple of days.
We are having the last of Thanksgiving today. I divide the leftovers on plates, wrap well and put in the freezer. Easy dinners and you really enjoy the turkey and all the trimmings so much more when you have had a few weeks rest from them

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Oldies but Goodies

I did a lot of knitting for my girls when they were little and medium sized. The sweaters were loved to death and passed from one to the other. When the sweaters had gone through the three of them and if they were still in good enough shape, I put them in a storage box with cedar chips and they went in the basement. A few years ago I went through the two boxes and took out anything that was good enough to pass on to the next generation.

This cream colored sweater is a Penny Straker design that I made for DD#3 when she was 3 or 4. It was her favorite. It was worn by her constantly, had every conceivable food stuff spilled on it, and was worn until it just didn't fit anymore. It has been passed from granddaughter #1 to granddaughter #2 and still shows no sign of age. I have no idea what yarn it is made out of, but it washes beautifully in the washer and dryer. It is soft and still looks lovely. Remember, it is over 30 years old! (Unfortunately this pattern isn't available on the Penny Straker site at this time.)

This zippered cardigan was made for DD#2 and was passed down to her little sister and is now being worn by the third granddaughter. This was from McCall's Knit It for Children book published in 1979. (Notice the collar change?) Again, I don't know what the yarn is but it has held up amazingly well for the past 30 or so years. These are probably a wool/acrylic blend but both are soft and very wearable. Not what you think of when remembering 1980's yarn, is it? It needed a new zipper and there are a few spots I want to reinforce on the neckband. Hope the yarn I pick will hold up half as well as the original.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Hello 2010

Nothing like a new year and a new decade to get you thinking about past mistakes and new resolutions!
In the past few years I have made resolutions that I kept, by making one resolution I could follow all year long. One year, for example I studied herbs, took classes and planted gardens, read books etc. It was a whole year immersion.
This year I am resolving to do two things: improve my knitting and improve myself. A little bit sweeping but let me explain.
As I reviewed the kitting I finished in 2009 this is the list I came up with:
4 pairs of mittens
7 sweaters
2 afghans
13 hats
3 stuffed toys
5 scarfs/shawls
7 pairs of socks

Of the items that were meant for me, there really were only two scarfs and one hat, the summer scarf and the purple multi color scarf and the white Who? hat that were actually worn all the time. (This is not counting socks) So it seems my choice of projects left something to be desired, but what was the cause of me making all these mistakes? I blame the Internet. Why not!

I really discovered the Internet knitting community in the past year plus and became a little intoxicated with it, sort of like the yarn fumes the Yarn Harlot is always blaming for her increasing stash. It's so great to find thousands of people that share your interests, when for years you thought you were the only person left in the world who knit. The patterns, the podcasts, the blogs, the knitting retreats, the sock clubs, the knit-alongs and the festivals and conventions! Who knew there was so much going on out there. It became easy to get sucked into the enthusiasm for say a Clapotis, when two years ago I would have laughed at this design. (Disclosure: I have made 1 and have yarn for another)

So as I was cleaning up the craft room, I took an honest look at what I had gotten myself into in the past year and how to avoid letting myself get sucked into making things I really don't like in 2010.
So this new year I will:

1. Not join in anything! No knit-alongs. I joined my first Knit-along in 2008 on the Lion Brand site to make the Tree of Life Afghan. That was such a resounding success that I kind of went nuts for knit-alongs, but have discovered they are not all created equal.

The Lion Brand site knit-along actually had help with the pattern, was easy to follow, people didn't get caught up in personal discussions that had nothing to do with the knitting that was going on . It was helpful and supportive, exactly what a good knit-along should be.

Knit-alongs on Ravelry tend to be the same, but I joined too many and was unable to keep up or have time to knit other items that were more important to me.

I joined several groups on the KnitPicks community site and again , too many to keep up with. Also this site has a few people that comment continuously, even if they are not making the items in the knit-along and make the strings too long to look through for information pertaining to the knitting. I'm sure they are lovely ladies with only the best intentions, but I don't have the time they seem to have to read hundreds of posts. I received a snarky comment as a reply to one of my posts, and although it was only one, that's all it took for me to no longer post on the site.

2. I will not think I am going to knit a bag of any kind. I have yarn I purchased for 6 bags. Market bags, fair isle bags, Sipalu bags, I have not started one and never will. I am re-purposing the yarn. What was I thinking. I hate purses, never carry them. Or if I do, it is a big serviceable tapestry bag that holds the earth. Plus all of the patterns were very complicated and 4 were cotton which I dislike knitting . Internet fumes!

3. Taking classes. I took 3 classes last year at my LYS and they were very successful. I learned to make socks, made a beaded scarf and the Lizard Ridge afghan. All good. However on the week-end retreat, there were 4 classes and I only finished 1 item, the bunny for Angel. (I finished the cowl, but Frankie chewed it to pieces). I will probably finish the Entrelac scarf, but no retreats in my future. Too many other projects I want to get through first.

4. Take a deep breath and count to 1000 before I buy the works for a new project. I'm not making any promises to go on a yarn diet or only knit from the stash, but I really want to think before I act, stop impulse buying, it never works for me. (I just checked out the Knitpicks site and there are 3 new kits I want to buy)

5. I made up a project list for the first quarter of the year. It is very loose and has plenty of wiggle room. I've left time for birthday knitting. What this does is put the projects I most want to finish in the queue. Now I just have to stick to it.
6. Improve my knitting. I want to try new techniques and improve on others, most notably colorwork. I think this is going to be the immersion knitting of this year. I also want to spread my wings with new sock patterns.
Improving myself:
Keep on the healthy weight loss that I have started. Get to my goal weight this year.
Read more. I have kept track of my reading for the last three years on a spreadsheet and whether I just haven't recorded the books I read this year or I haven't read as many, I am way down in my totals.
I have given this list a lot of thought and I really think I can keep to the resolutios. We'll see what 2010 brings!