Monday, June 20, 2011

Happy Birthday and Monday Challenge Part III

Great weekend starting with a sleepover Friday with pool fun on Saturday. Hubby golfing all day and Friday night too. My birthday and Father's Day happened on the same day this year and we exchanged gifts, had a steak barbecue with potato salad and strawberry shortcake with local strawberries. Just lovely.
Sunday was a quiet day so hubby could recover from all the weekend golfing and rest up for the Monday morning league and I just sat and read all afternoon.
Finished "Dead Reckoning" the latest Sookie Stackhouse which are always a treat and started "Every Secret Thing" by Laura Lippman which I downloaded from the library and am reading on my iPhone as an ebook. Tomorrow the latest Stephanie Plum book comes out and I will go to Barnes and Noble to pick it up along with "Robopocalypse" which I am seeing advertised everywhere and does sound rather good. I may check out the Nook when I'm there, as I think I would like an ebook reader and I can download from the library site with this. I really want to look it over and check out the features . One thing about not knitting, the time must be filled up with something and books seem to be the thing. I also started "We'll Always have Parrots" a Meg Langslow's mystery on my iPod.

Three different formats, never without a book.

In the video department, we watched "Gnomeo and Juliet" with the kids on Friday, (cute) and "My Favorite Year" on Sunday, which has one of my favorite scenes. I'll just say "wedding dress" and if you've seen it you'll know what I mean. Laughed just as hard this time as I did the first time I saw it.

There always seems to be a new television season beginning or ending. Not like a few years ago (maybe more than a few) when there were 3 networks, 4 counting PBS and summer meant nothing but reruns. Sunday night I needed a flowchart to figure out when I could record all the shows we were interested in. A new Masterpiece Mystery, Poirot; the second to last Law and Order:CI; which wasn't the same without Goren and Eames and is just great with the unpredictable Bobby; Game of Thrones; In Plain Sight; and the season finale of "The Killing".

Every time we get sucked into an ongoing series, we get let down. Maybe by the series not being picked up for renewal so a rushed ending leaves you dissatisfied or a planned ending just doesn't answer all the questions you have (I'm talking about you,"Lost").

We watched the series "The Killing" which promised to follow a murder case from beginning to end over 13 weeks, each episode being one day in the investigation. Assuming the final episode would climax with the case being solved, it was a little disappointing when it ended with more questions than answers. I'm not sorry I watched, it was a dark, compelling drama with some excellent acting and I will definitely watch the second season, but I was more than a little annoyed with the ending, which wasn't really an ending but teasers for the next season.

So a little bit about knitting.

My challenge this week is to keep not knitting.

I am going to rip back the Calsada short row garter stitch. I am disappointed in how small it turned out and I think using larger needles will make it a bit bigger and be a better look for me. I have plenty of yarn left to do this with.

I ordered yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts for the first time. I wanted a goldy-yellow for the Elektra and decided to move out of my yarn comfort zone and try them. I hemmed and hawed over the color, then ordered the 24Karat and second guessed myself for a week until it arrived. I was completely blown away by the beautiful color. Instead of the '70's gold I was worried it would be, it is gorgeous, rich going into a beautiful brownish gold. It's going to look amazing with the right beads.

I'm off to block my Lace cardigan that got all its ends tucked in this weekend.

Not knitting? Not bad!

Saturday, June 18, 2011


This week and next will be a series of adjustments in what could be called life rhythms. Hubby's finished with work until September, so we are adjusting to him being home and unstructured, for want of a better description. Always there, no time alone, sort of thing.
The school year is winding down for everyone, which means a little schedule adjustment, with end of school activities and half days and at the end of the week, children home for the summer.
Unstructured, not my favorite, will be on the agenda for the next two+ months until the school bell rings again. It will mean getting the week's schedule and figuring out what days we will have kids and for how long and what days we will be by ourselves to schedule things like doctor's appointments(which I should have gotten out of the way a few months ago, I know.
But the weather is beautiful and I can feel the siren song of long summer days with lots of free time beckoning.

Now about the knitting, another adjustment. For the past few weeks, I have had a horrible stiff neck on arising. Sometimes on the right side, sometimes on the left. So painful, I couldn't bear to be touched. After having my DD#2 look at it and my right wrist which was also sore, she advised it was due to too much knitting. When I protested, my hubby chimed in and said "You are knitting all the time". I guess he's right. I start in the morning, carry around at least a sock throughout the day for when there is a little spare time to knit a few rounds, then watch TV in the evening for about 3-4 hours of constant knitting.

I have an impressive amount of items completed, which is great, but I really want to be able to do this without the pain. I had this problem once before when I was taking classes and trying to get as much done as possible. The solution then as it is now is to just stop for a while. I was figuring through the month of June, but it may take a bit longer. Now I have another class on the 25th and 9th for a cotton ruched top that I will go to but absolutely no knitting until then and I am not going to try to complete the top in that time frame. My DD#2 is going to work on my neck, shoulder and arm this Saturday and give me some exercises to do to get back into knitting form.

I guess I am going to have to adjust to becoming a process knitter rather than a project knitter. The way I understand the terms and the way I am going to slowly ease back into knitting is to take one project at a time, do some research and background on the pattern and/or stitches and just enjoy the journey rather than speeding through to get to the end.

My immediate problem was what do I do with my hands while relaxing, reading and TV watching. I have organized my knitting, I pulled knitting books out that explore techniques, fair isle, stranded knitting, entreloc, double knitting, color theory, lace knitting and I am going to study technique. I have always planned to do this, but just speed through to the patterns and ignore the rest.

I am finishing sweaters that just needed a button or some ends woven in (two down one to go) and there is the monumental task of sewing up all the blocks for my bed spread. I have yarn to wind into cakes (hubby fixed my ball winder,yeah) and two shawls to rip back to various points and restart. I gave myself a manicure and pedicure and worked on some puzzles.

So far so good, but it's only been two days!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Try, Try Again and Monday Challenge II

The weather has been good for getting the yard and garden in shape, so we did some work this weekend and my plan is to finish all the planting and mulching this week.
Pretty roses are blooming all over my climber "Fourth of July". It looks like a fireworks display.

In the weekend entertainment department - we went to the last BPO concert of the year, a really rollicking Duke Ellington swing fest. Now to pick out our concerts for next season.

We actually watched a movie, as all the winter time series are over and the summertime series have yet to begin in quantities and our DVR was empty. "The Panic Room" with Jodie Foster was on HBO for free, which was what it was worth. Good for knitting, though, just enough action to keep you occupied and not enough that you have to put down the knitting. Kristen Stewart of the "Twilight" movies was the young daughter which I totally didn't get until the credits.

Sigh, the knitting. My green Elektra was going great, I got to the lace bottom and started to panic when I saw how fast the yarn was running out. When I checked the pattern, I realized I would probably not have enough yardage. How I missed the yardage requirements, I just don't know.

Went to my LYS but they didn't have another skein or anything else I might want to knit Elektra in. I wound up ordering some Socks That Rock lightweight in a gold. Never tried this yarn before Can't wait to try it out.

I looked for a different shawl in Ravelry and it was amazingly easy to find just the right one using specific criteria. I put in my yardage, weight, beads and found the Pacific shawl. It is easy enough to be complementary knitting to my Frost Flowers.

Challenge #2 - The Join.

I had the house to myself on Friday afternoon, so I cleaned off the dining room table and assembled my tools.

I wanted to lay the knitting out flat and make sure there were no twists. 992 stitches is a lot of stitches to keep flat. I have KnitPicks interchangeable needles and have several 60" cables with joins. So I made a cable needle that was 160 inches long, flattened out the knitting, taped it down, then knit the first repeat, took off the tape and removed the extra cables. Time will tell if I got it completely right or not. I have only knit through the first two rows of the pattern, so I guess my challenge for next week will be to finish the first 12 rows.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Things I Love About Summer

Not officially summer yet, I know but Wednesday was a hot, hot mid-summerlike day and the pool was open and ready to cool us down after a day in the classroom.

Boy's book waiting for a few minutes of quick reading time between dunks...
Bathing suits and towels dancing in the breeze. Lovely day!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Challenge Part I

I have been knitting up a storm in the past few months, making 2 small shawls, three sweaters and a pair of socks but all of the projects were incredibly unchallenging. The shawls had a small amount of lace with large amounts of garter stitch , the sweaters were large amounts stockinette with small interesting details. Great for mindless knitting but I was aching to dig into a really challenging project and in the summer my fingers ache for lace..

I thought I would start making Romi's Seven Small Shawls, since I have yarn for at least two of them, so I cast on for Elektra with some MadelineTosh greeny-yellow that matched leftover beads from another shawl. Beautiful, but rows and rows of garter stitch before I get to the lace.

Fondling yarn at my LYS I fell in love with the Crystal Palace Silky Alpaca in a dusky pink that is one of my favorite colors. I decided this was the premier yarn I was looking for to make the Frost Flowers Stole that's been in my queue for 3 years. This is definitely the pattern I have been looking for to stretch my skills. So Saturday I read through the pattern and started the cast on.

I don't know how far I will get with this, hopefully it will get finished. I am going to take my time and do the best job I possibly can to make this a magnum opus for my summertime knitting.

I am going to blog my progress every Monday, giving me a bit more incentive. So here goes.

Challenge #1 Cast on 992 stitches.

I started the caston on Saturday and completed it on Sunday. I placed markers every 50 stitches, a black one at fifty and a larger colored one at 100 to make keeping track of the number easier. I counted the stitches at least twice before placing the markers, this is not the place or time for hurrying the process.
The cable caston is perfect for this many stitches since it is a firm cast on and you don't need to guestimate yarn amounts as you do with long tail.
I knit the first row and am in the middle of the second row which is an eyelet row followed by another knit row. I will recount the stitches at this point as a check.

The next step is to knit the lace pattern in the round and I see this as the next biggest challenge. Keeping the stitches from becoming twisted when I join the work with this many stitches will be difficult, I'm sure.

Friday, June 3, 2011

What a Tangled Web

Bitten by the desire to wind all the yarn I want to use on projects this summer, I set up my winding station on the dining room table and wound skeins in spare moments. Grandkids came and went and helped enthusiastically. With two more skeins left, I decided to finish up and clear the table so it could be used for summer crafts (dining is done al fresco in the summer, whenever possible).
In the middle of a skein, my trusty KnitPicks ball winder flew apart. Oh, no! I plopped it together and tried to finish the skein. My hubby was watching me and insisted parts must have come off. Of course he was right. Screws and washers were all over the rug and my half wound skein was a tangled mess. I'm hand winding it into a ball and detangleing at the same time.
He is attempting to fix my ball winder but if that's not possible, I guess a new one is on the horizon. They are quite inexpensive and fortunately, I have all the yarn wound that I need for the next four projects.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Why I Really Do Love June

The view from my kitchen window....

the prospect of veggies fresh from my garden.....

flowers and color everywhere you look....