Sunday, November 13, 2011

My New Obsession...When I Can Get to It

Several years ago I decided that I wanted to try spinning. A year later I took a spinning class from a fantastic teacher at my local guild. Months later I bought a wheel. I bought this alpaca fleece about a year ago, hence the "when I can get to it" part of the title.

This comes from Hawkspass Farm. The lovely fellow that donated his fleece to me is Tribute.

I am completely enamored of the transformation the fleece takes once it has been washed.

Hopefully, there will be a finished project from all this fleece, when I can get to it.

Monday, November 07, 2011

Project Mania

I'm so excited I just can't hide it. Well, maybe I can. I've been told that I'm very laid back.

Anywhoodle. The projects. We have lived in this house for 11 years. Most every room is still the same color as when we moved in, plus crayon art...on...every...single...wall. We have second hand furniture through out the house (not the beautiful antique kind, but the found by the side of the road kind), and the house is very unorganized (personally, I feel we have too much stuff, yarn is not included in this definition).

For years I have wanted to do something about it, but lack of money and time have prevented us from doing anything major. Now, I have both! Our list of improvements to the house is long, and it will be a time consuming endeavor, but I am up to the challenge.

The problem is how to tackle it. The Husband and I are of two minds on the subject. He doesn't see any reason not to have multiple projects going on at once. I would prefer to pick one, and see it through to completion in all of it's little steps.

Both of our views are analogous to knitting. He would be the knitter that has multiple WIPs. I am the knitter, that although I have multiple WIPs, I don't like to have too many to the detriment of all. If you have too many, it's possible that one or two could suffer.

You could think you have the pattern memorized to that lacy scarf, but realize towards the 50th inch of it that you screwed up. This does not bode well if you are also a perfectionist at heart. (I was also described as a perfectionist, but that was before having to share my house with those that are not. I gave up on that.)

But if you have multiple projects going on, this would indicate that you are an impatient soul. You want it all, and you want it now. My father always said that if you had everything you wanted, you'd have nothing to look forward to.

It will be fun to see how this all plays out. Keep tuned.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

What a Fall!

Excuse me, I fell down the high school marching band rabbit hole. With the Boy having 2 hour rehearsals three times a week, plus a football game on Fridays and competitions on Saturday (his marching band earned 4 "Grand Champion" awards this year and a superior rating at the state competition), I've been a bit busy. Thank John Phillip Sousa it's over until next year.

All that time sitting in the car waiting for practice to be over, or waiting for the buses to get back to school (after they broke down one hour away from their destination) has yielded some knitting. I am about 50% done with Thing 2's Harry Potter sweater. This is the one I started last winter and had to rip, because he grew. It's not very exciting to look at, thus no picture.

I also have a pair of socks going that I just leave in the car, so I am never without knitting if I suddenly find myself waiting. It's just a plain old vanilla sock pattern which is good for throwing on a few rounds if the wait is short.

Pardon the crappy photo, it was taken with my phone. I'm much further along now. There has been much waiting. I'm using Opal Rainforest in tiger, knit on a 9" circular needle. The wee little needle is fun. I had tried it out before, but didn't like it. I was strictly a dpn sock knitter. I think I didn't like it because I knit with the yarn held in my right hand.

After I learned to knit Portuguese style, it was easier to use this needle. I don't think I'll completely give up knitting socks with dpns, but this is a fun change.

I've also been washing, carding, and spinning an alpaca fleece I've had for a year. This is my first attempt at spinning from fleece to yarn. It's amazing how easy it is. I had always been in awe when I would read about the process on other blogs. Don't let them fool you.

Washing the fleece is no more than picking out the ick, and putting bits of it in the sink with soap or a scouring agent to soak, rinse, and repeat (if necessary). After it's dry, it can be carded while watching television. It's the equivalent of doing garter stitch without looking.

The part that takes the most concentration is the spinning. To me, this is the most fun part and I wouldn't want to miss it by dividing my attention between spinning and something else.

Although I do love seeing the Boy occasionally walk past my shoe box full of clean fiber, stopping to stick his hands in it, and hearing him say, "mmm, alpaca". There's hope yet for that Boy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Christmas Knitting/Crocheting

Are you getting ready to start your holiday knitting? I know. Who wants to think about that time of year when it's still hotter than your husband sitting down to knit after first making you dinner and tidying up, but not before he lovingly rubs your feet.

If you would be so kind as to add one more person to your gift list, they would be ever so grateful. How about whipping out a scarf or a hat for one of our military personnel serving away from home this year? Operation Gratitude is asking for donations of handmade scarves to include in their care packages. All the information is there, just follow the link.

If you do this, you will lose 20 pounds over night, your hair will be shiny, and you will find $50 in the pocket of the coat you wore last winter. Well, maybe you'll just feel smug for doing something nice for a stranger.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Great Googly Moogly

It's August, already? But summer just got here. I need a do-over. Band camp has come and gone for the Boy, Thing 1 and Thing 2 are complaining that we've only gone to the pool once, and the Girl, well, she's been hiding in her room.

It has been a productive summer, knit wise. As far as accomplishing things around the house, not so much.

I did finish the fat green socks that had started out to be for me, but they became the Husband's socks along the way. This the Country Socks pattern from Nancy Bush's "Folk Socks" using Sheep Shop's Sheep 3 yarn (say that 5 times fast). I was a little late to the Sheep 3 party, as it's been discontinued, and I love it. Of course. I finally found a bra that I loved, didn't buy eleventy of them, and now they are discontinued. I know, TMI.

The very next day I cast on the Hair Tamer. The Girl has convinced me that since I have had bangs since 7th grade, that it was time for a change. Hence the need for a hair tamer. The pattern (Cabled Headband by Jennifer Hagen from "The Knitter's Book of Yarn") called for the headband to be the same width for the whole circumference, but some one more brilliant than I on Ravelry suggested tapering the back to make it more comfortable. This is wide enough that on cold days I can wear it over my ears, or I can push it behind my ears if I'm embarrassing the Girl by wearing it over my ears.

I also started and finished my new favorite sweater. This one will be getting a lot of use. Its the Garter Stitch jacket by Fleece Artist. The only modification I made was to leave out the waist shaping. I asked the Girl to model it for Le Blog, and she complained that it was itchy. Good. I won't need to go trawling through her room when I want to wear it.

I'm currently working on the Frisco Whip Cowl (another cowl!). This may end up being a gift for a friend in Syracuse. She gifted me (well, I strong armed her) with 2 jars of her pickles, 1 jar of pickled beets, and 1 jar of her pickled green beans. She is the pickling queen. She has red hair, lives where it's cold 10 months of the year, and gave me pickles. It will be perfect for her.

I've also started on the Dorflinger Tee. I'm not sure if this is "me". The beauty is that it's knit top down, so I can try it on and decide if it's "me" without having to finish it first.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Camping in the Great Outdoors

Well, duh, I guess you could camp in the living room. There'd be less bugs, and we wouldn't spend the first night sleeping in wet clothes.

This past July, yea, I'm a little late, the kidlets and I did our yearly trek to Watkins Glen State Park for a week of bugs, rain, dirt, and holy poison ivy those birds are loud at day break! Good times.

A sideways photo of the Boy asleep after a night of pouring rain.*

We met up with friends of mine from college and their respective kids and dogs.

We went for hikes,

we visited wineries (one of which was very hippy-dippy and had this Keith Moon autographed drum),
and we had good food, heard good music, and saw a beautiful sunset all at another winery.

This lovely creature rode home with us. His name is Ringo, and he is a service dog in training. We gave him a lift, because his trainer (my friend that lives in Massachusetts) was in southern Ohio, while we camped with the rest of his family in NY. He was a delight, even if he did leave behind a carpeting of hair in my car.

*Crappy photos taken with cell phone. I forgot the good camera.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Tribute to My Mom

That is (was) a plate of blueberry muffins. My mom had a recipe for blueberry muffins that I have never seen its duplicate. I've also never tasted its duplicate. Mom used to make these for every church bake sale, and they were the first to sell out.

Luckily, I have the recipe. I have since let the Girl in on the "secret" so she can make them. Whenever they are made, they are devoured within 24 hours. My Mom's name for the recipe was the simple, yet alluring "blueberry muffins". We have changed the name to the more descriptive "Grandma Margie's blueberry muffins". This isn't the first recipe name change I have made. I changed "molasses cookies" to "Mamoo Ruth's molasses cookies".

I think there is no better way than to keep a loved one's memory alive for later generations than through food. Every time we make these muffins, it's a chance for me to tell the kids about the grandma they never knew. By following her recipe, it's like she's there guiding them through the steps to the best blueberry muffin ever.

But you don't need to have a favorite recipe from a long gone family member to remember them by. I had a great aunt named Edna. She was by far the funniest person in my extended family. She was prone to making hysterical statements in her hillbilly twang that would bring tears of laughter to your eyes. Whenever some one starts telling stories about Edna, there would always be a mention of the mouthwatering blackberry cobbler she made in her cast iron skillet, followed by the lament that she never passed on the recipe (if she even used one.)

Not only is food a great way to remember some one, it can also bring great comfort by reminding us of that person. Years ago when my mother learned that the cancer could no longer be treated and she had only days, I asked her if there was anything special she would like to eat. She requested the molasses cookies that my grandmother (her mother) used to make. I had the recipe and rushed home to make a batch. My mother only had the energy to eat one, but at least she had one before she passed, hopefully bringing her some peace.

It's enough for me that some day my kidlets will remember their grandma and great-grandma this way. If I don't come up with something, they'll be telling my grandkidlets that this grandma really knew her way around a box of macaroni and cheese!

Monday, April 25, 2011

JayZ on a Cracker!

Enough already. The local news reported this morning that we are having the wettest April on record with over 11" this month, and we still have 5 more days to go. To make matters worse, here's the local forecast for the next 7 days.

At least it's warm.

All this rain has been a boon to my knitting. Since I've not been able to get out and work in the yard, I have started and finished a few projects.

The first is a watch cap I knit for the Husband using the Portuguese knitting method. This technique involves very little hand movement. The working yarn can either be carried from your right, around your neck, to your left where it is in use on your needles. Or it can be carried from your right, hooked on a knitting pin, and down to your right. The yarn is to the front of your needles for both purling and knitting, and you only need to use your left thumb to flick the yarn into place.

Here's a link to an episode of Knitting Daily with Andrea Wong explaining the method. It's about 8 minutes long, but pretty interesting.

I didn't take picture of the project, because it's a black watch cap. Boring.

But this isn't boring.

I found myself on a cowl kick. That there is the Ptarmigan cowl by the brilliant Jared Flood using Knitpicks Gloss in fingering. That's not the best picture, but you get the idea. I love this cowl. It's got some extra length to it, but it's not so loose that it flops to the base of your neck like other cowls I've made. This was easy and fast.

The next cowl I made was the Pretty Thing by the ever witty Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. I used Plymouth Earth Ecco Cashmere (said with reverence), and I still have have half of the skein left! The only problem I had with this project was that I had Michael Jackson's "PYT" as an ear worm during the knitting of this cowl. Very distracting. Listen if you dare.

Finally, I finished the Audrey Triple Wrap. No ear worms here, thank JayZ. This is made using Audrey by the Schaefer Yarn Company. The colors are beautiful, yet subtle.

Right. I'm off to look at the possibility of moving to Seattle. They can't possibly get this much rain in a month, can they?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why the U.S. needs a Royal Family

We need a Royal Family so we can have Royal Family weddings and all of the hoopla and consumerism that surrounds it. Have you seen some of the "commemorative" items for sale in celebration of the wedding of Wills and Kate?

You can have press on nails like these

You can leave a tea ring from your mug

on your coaster

The one I am most excited about is this one. Knitted figures of the Royal Family! Here's the link.

It even includes Her Majesty's Royal Corgis.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My Night Life

So, I share a bed with what I like to refer to as a 'messy sleeper'. You know the type. They can't just get into bed, fluff the pillow, and go to sleep. When they turn over in their sleep, they flop. They kick covers off, pull them back up, and they somehow end up half off the bed.

When I get into bed (many times before the Husband), I have to put my pillows back on my side of the bed. On the mornings that I arise first, the second I am out of the bed, he grabs my pillows and uses them to prop up his arms and legs, because his four pillows aren't enough. Our bed is never made. The only people that go in my room is the family and the dogs. The dogs can often be found on my bed during the day, further messing it up so there is no point in making it.

Two of my kidlets have inherited messy sleeper syndrome from the Husband. The boy frequently rolls into his blankets like a burrito and sleeps across the bed with his feet hanging off.

I was forced to sleep with the Girl once. Never again. She would sit straight up in her sleep making an 'L' shape, then proceed to fall sideways across me.

Over the years of sharing a bed with the Husband, I have had his arm flop across my face, been punched in the head, and on many occasions had my pillow pulled out from under my head. I even had the cat thrown in my face in the dark as I was getting into bed. (Evidently the cat didn't like being in bed with a messy sleeper either, and he scratched the Husband, causing him to throw the cat out of the bed into my face. The room was dark, and the cat was black. I didn't see him coming until my face was the cat.)

So when one of his many pillows ends up on top of my head in the middle of the night, I take great pleasure in rifling the thing across the room.

Last night was the worst experience by far. He often flops arms and legs across the 'line of death' that runs down the middle of the bed. His hand got caught in my shoulder length hair. He actually ripped out a tuft of hair. A very rude awakening, indeed. I heard the hair popping out of their follicles. My scalp still stings 5 hours later.

What did I get for my injury? A mumbled "sorry" and a snore.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Word is Getting Out

This is further proof that knitting can be cool. The British design house Meadham Kirchoff sent gansey sweaters down the runway during London Fashion Week, which had the prime minister's wife in attendance.

They employed 35 knitters to make sweaters, socks and skirts in the gansey style. They made 40 pieces in all. The complete article can be found here.

As one commented on the story, "Whit? Fae Scotland? Canny be trendy. Kin it? Weel done the brae lassies!" I think that's Scottish for, "Well played, knitters."

Sunday, February 06, 2011

I'm Not a Big Fan

of cats. I tolerate her. You can see why I'm not a big fan. She decided to sit on my lap mid-row, while I was in the act.
Settling in...

Aaaaaaaaaand down.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

As Seen at a Kitchy Discount Home Store

A froggy policeman (woman? who can tell with frogs).

An exploding flamingo.

My personal favorite, a biker gnome.

My hand still hurts, so there is obviously not much knitting going on. Obviously.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ten Days

That is how long I have been told by my (obviously) non-knitting doctor to "lay off" the knitting. My daughter was in the room and her reaction was a horse snort followed by a skeptically sounding "yeah". She knows me so well.

It would seem that I am suffering from tendonitis in my left thumb. I hope that is all it is. He did say that if it doesn't feel better after 10 days, to come back and he would send me to the orthopedist.

So until January 20th, these projects will still look like this:

and this:
and this:

Those are one of a pair of mittens for Thing 2 (Thing 1's are already finished, but Thing 2 does have store bought mittens he could wear), the back of the Wishbone sweater for me, and finally, the Harry Potter type "R" sweater that Ron wears for Thing 2.

Rather than look at the next 10 days as a prison sentence, I choose to be positive about it. In the next ten days I could finally get caught up on the laundry, or I could get the house clear of all clutter. I could finish all of those books I've been meaning to read, or, dare I say it, practice my crochet skills. Crocheting doesn't require the use of the left hand except as a means to hold the yarn in ready position. Right?...

Lawdy, help me. I'm going through withdrawal. I sound like a strung out addict. I'll say anything to myself to justify holding yarn in my hand!