Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas Gifts

All gifts were a success. I knit double-knit hats and ear warmers, socks and a hat/scarf. I also sewed flannel pj pants. Basically I didn't buy anything ready made.

The hat pattern that I was missing was in Alasdair Post-Quinn;'s Extreme Double-Knitting Book. I needed a third color, and raided my 6-ply sock yarn stash.

That led to designing another hat and 3 ear warmers.

I even finished the sewing by Christmas Eve, with the last minute hemming of pj pants for a granddaughter I had not been sure was coming in town for the holiday.

I started a baby sweater for my gift drawer drawer. Pattern and yarn have been waiting for months.

In a Christmas related search session (didn't find what I wanted), I found a skein of yarn that never made it to the yarn corral. It called to me: "Use me now, use me now!" Here are some steps to craziness;
  1. Find renegade yarn
  2. Look on Ravelry for a pattern using that weight and yardage
  3. Find one pattern, a hat, and it's an Elizabeth Zimmermann pattern which I own.
  4. Her instructions are very vague, so I used some Ravelry information.
  5. One hat is finished, and I've only used about 1/2 of the yarn.
  6. This is for charity, so I'm knitting another hat.
  7. The baby sweater is not likely to be finished this year. 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Mystery Pattern Search

I had trouble getting to sleep last night. I had been searching for a pattern for a double knit hat. I had bought two colors of dk weight yarn for the project. After much searching, finding books that I forgot I owned, and resorting where some books are stored, I finally found the book where I thought the missing hat pattern was in, but it was worked in three colors and a heavier yarn. Searched Ravelry in every category I could think of, but no luck. I still don't know what I was thinking about when the yarn was ordered. I even got out of bed to search another section of Ravelry. I've swatched the hat with the yarn I bought and am going to start with that. If it's too small, I'll abandon it until after Christmas, and try again.

The day dawned chilly, but getting warmer. I walked the dog, ate breakfast, went to church and the gym. The afternoon was tied up with a knitting guild knit-out at a local library. The room was very nice, with glass walls on two sides, so that even with the door closed for noise control, we attracted interested onlookers. The goal is to find new knitters to join the group.I've almost finished another pair of Christmas present socks, which is why I was preparing to start another project

The evening dog walk was wonderful. 61 F, with clear skies. We walked in the park and even heard crickets. I've given one daughter a cricket ringtone on my phone. When she called the other night, it was disconcerting to hear crickets in the middle of a rain/sleet storm. The weather was wrong for the sound. I quickly realized that the crickets were on the phone, answered it, and we had a nice talk. She told me that she has a wind chime alarm sound that often seems out of place when it goes off.

I'm almost to the toe shaping on this large pair of socks, so should finish up tomorrow. I will be going to bed early tonight.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

What to do on a rainy day

On Wednesday morning I went walking with two of my friends. It was chilly but dry. Thursday was grey and very windy. Bo and I had a lazy day.

I got some knitting done, and took a nap. This will be a child's sweater for Wool-Aid. I'm writing the pattern in five sizes. So far the body is written, but sleeves and neckband still need to be done. The yarn is left over from a sweater knit last year for a customer, and is Lambs Pride wool.

Friday saw more wind, rain, and sleet. The morning walk wasn't bad, the wet weather held off until later. In the evening, we were crossing a busy street when the sleet hit. Bo was not happy, although he calmed down a minute later.

This morning, we saw this as we were heading home. A quick shot, while Bo stood still. We were about three feet away, so I tried a quick shot, out of focus.  Next time I'll try to give the phone time to focus.

We see deer often on our walks. They have nibbled my green pepper tops and flowers from the mums in my front yard. So far they haven't eaten whole plants.

There certainly are days when I wouldn't walk if I didn't have a dog. A canine exercise partner won't take no for an answer. Most days however, I feel good once I'm out and moving!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Oh, The Weather

One day I go out early to walk Bo, and find this, frost on the ground. 

The next day it is gloomy and raining, but warmer. Variety is the spice of life. 

Last night, I made overnight apple butter.  10 apples went into the slow cooker, along with a cup of brown sugar and half a cup of honey. Spices were added. This morning, I smooshed the apples and cooked the mess some more. 3 3/4 half pint jars.

Three of them went in the freezer. 

I also made tomato tarts from garden tomatoes. For some reason, the homegrown ones are meatier than store bought. Tastier too. Pie crust, ricotta, Asiago cheese, and basil. Yum!

I cut them on quarters and put them in short muffins cups for a knitting guild potluck/holiday party. We don't meet in December. I brought home enough pieces for lunch tomorrow, as well as a corn muffin donated by another knitter who didn't need to take all her leftovers home. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Am I Getting Old?

Not that the alternative is better. I've had a few things go missing recently, and I wonder if I'm losing my mind. I keep losing the Bluetooth earpiece for my phone. It is small and black. I misplaced the drawer money at work. It gets put in a small flat bag at the end of the day. I slipped in my computer case, and it fell into a pocket. Found it s few days later. Lost the Bluetooth again, found it again. I do have another one, because this has happened before. I leave it in a pocket and forget that I wore the garment when looking. It has only gone in the wash once. I had to replace it,because they are not designed to swim. Usually I plug it in at night along with my phone. That limits where it might be hiding.

This train of thought was triggered by my latest lost and found. I have been planning for over a week to make overnight apple butter. I checked the recipe and made sure to have all the ingredients. Then I lost the recipe. I thought it was on my iPad with my other electronic recipes, but couldn't find it. I was looking under the wrong name and the recipe collection has no index, to say nothing of an apple butter category. All's well now. I should put it together tomorrow night, because I'll have tie, in the morning to strain and package it.

What have I been doing besides knitting? Of course I've been knitting. A lot of what I have finished is Christmas gifts for family who read the blog and follow Facebook. What I've been doing is training my new dog and walking miles with him for exercise. I'm slowing down now that it's dark after work. He's a rescue dog. I have spent many dollars on him for shots neutering and training, which limits spending elsewhere. I have picked up another dry cleaner to do alterations for, so that will help pay back my savings account. 
Bo is about one year old and is the most loving dog, sometimes too much so. He's quiet and well trained enough to go to work with my on my days off if I need to work extra to meet deadlines.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

I Think It's Spring

It's hard to tell, because it's still cold. We had a few days of warmth, enough to melt the snow piles! Things are starting to poke up out of the ground, but I've seen daffodils get snowed on.maybe this year will be different.

It is different, because I have already finished two Christmas presents. I'm sewing more birthday presents this year, which is quicker than knitting them. The one I just finished is a pair of socks.

The pattern was a challenge for Ravelry's Sock Knitters Anonymous. The category was under-appreciated patterns. I was the 4th person to knit this one. I found a mistake in the chart, but it was easy to knit correctly.

The other gift is a warm hat.

I've been working on a new sweater for myself. The body is about 1/2 done, 2" more before the armholes. The yarn was dyed by my local yarn store owner, and was my birthday gift to myself. I waited six months from the time I first admired it, and whenit was still there in the color I wanted, it became mine.

The back is longer than the front. It's a simple pattern.

Other than that, it's the same old thing, work, exercise, knit with friends, cook a few meals. I have a house guest this week. He arrived last evening. Don't get any ideas, he's a great guy married to his college sweetheart. Anyway, it was Friday in Lent, so I wanted something meatless that could be a big pot of goodness if he wanted dinner when he got in. This time I made Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup. I made a kit on Thursday, when I was off work. I did all the chopping and sautéing and set out the rest of the ingredients: black beans, pumpkin, diced tomatoes, veggie broth. Friday morning, I set the slow cooker on warm, and put everything in. Nothing needed cooking. When I came home from work it was ready.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Grey sweater even better

I wore the sweater yesterday, and the collar wouldn't stay folded down.

This morning I undid the bind off and added to the collar, starting at the top of the buttons and adding fewer stitches for each row until I had added another 2". This is more what I had in mind originally.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Recycle Success Grey Sweater Version

Over a year ago, I sat down in front of the Olympics and took a part a sweater. Ravelry called the event "Aerial Unwind" in their version of the Olympics. I had loved the sweater when I was a bigger person. I loved the yarn, so soft and squishy. It was my TKGA Masters program challenge, which means I designed it. I had the pattern in my computer.

I started here.

At the end of the Olympics, it had became a basket of yarn. I did a little bit each day and it was very freeing.

The yarn needed washing, which required a session with the yarn turn the balls into hanks.

After hanging in the basement to dry, it went into a laundry basket, and one hank at a time was put back on the swift and run through the ball winder.  Luckily I have acquired a lot of yarn toys like this over the years.

I had to rewrite the pattern in a much smaller size, leaving out some of the cable patterns that didn't fit, but all is finished. Yesterday, I finished the sweater, complete with buttons.

Today, I am wearing the sweater. It feels just as good as I imagined. I wound up the last of the yarn and put it away. There is over 500 yards of beautiful yarn, enough to do something with eventually. 

As with many people, I'm tired of winter and tired of wearing the same warm clothes. It's nice to have a new cuddley sweater!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Musings on a Very Cold Day

The weather here is still Arctic! We're not equipped to handle this much cold weather or continued snow. The driveways that get plowed have huge mountains at the street. It's supposed to warm up a little tomorrow.

I've been knitting. No surprise there! I finally made the mittens I need. The yarn was bought over a year ago when the previous mittens started growing holes.

My gray sweater has, not only a back, but two sleeves and two front pieces. I'm working on the front ribbing/collar now, 3" wide. Here's the latest photo from a week or so ago.

Can't take a photo now when it is scrunched up on the needle.

I finished a really warm hat today. I had a request from one family for warm hats as Christmas gifts and have been looking at patterns. This will be a gift for someone, but not the grandchildren of the request. I have something else in mind for them.

One of my neighbors got tired of the cold/snow/windchill that is keeping children home from school. There's a chili cook off at her house tonight. My oldest daughter sent me a recipe for Jalapeño Cheddar cornbread. I cooked it this morning. I happened to have all the ingredients. Should be fun.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A look at what I'm reading

I'm reading a fascinating book on the background and causes of the Civil War.  It's America Aflame by David Goldfield. He discusses how we got into the war, and how it transformed us into a modern nation. America was fighting slavery in the 1850s. That was the time of the Missouri Compromise and Uncle Tom's Cabin. It was a time of religious evangelical rebirth and the popularization and growth of Science.

The part I'm reading now covers the ending of the war. The North has established a manufacturing base, augmented by a railroad network for distribution. Men of simple origins are rising to be Captians of Commerce.

Charity knitting continues. I finished a pair of mittens for our guild. I used a strand of acrylic yarn with sock yarn carried along side. That finished off four balls of sock yarn. It may seem silly, but I hate to throw out small bits of yarn. The mittens are man size. The next pair will be large child size. They have been started and will be my work knitting. The wool socks that were at work will now go to the gym with me.

At last night's guild meeting, the program was a scarf and shawl show-off. Members wore their creations. We got ideas for styling tips by seeing what our friends do. A list will be sent out with info on all the pattern.

It's still cold here, it's winter after all, but a few warm days melted a lot of the ice on roadways and foot paths. That makes life easier. I'm wearing a scarf today, styled like my friend Nelly. Take a narrow scarf, tie an overhand knot on one corner, slip the other corner through the knot.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Third Times the Charm

Thursday afternoon - I finally got my two sweater sleeves to match! The picture shows the point where the sleeves didn't match on the first two attempts. If I had looked more carefully, the sleeve would be finished now. Better that it's correct. I'd regret it every time I wore the sweater! Also, I probably wouldn't wear it as often as I hope to.

Friday morning - The second sleeve is finished and it matches the first!!! One is still wet. I'm so relieved to finally finish it.

It seems like I've been knitting this sweater forever! I did start recycling version #1 in February, so it's been a year, but I didn't work on it the whole time. I needed to put the yarn into hanks and wash it. Actual knitting started mid November, with time out for Christmas present construction. I've got patter notes for the fronts (it's a cardigan). The fronts are smaller than the pieces I have finished. There is hope that I can wear it before the weather gets warm.

Almost there! I've got all the pattern knit on my second sock, with just a little ribbing to do before toe decreases. I should finish that tomorrow.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Yes, We Have Snow

It almost buried the bird bath.

It blanketed the bench. We have bright sunshine, but it's still hard to get around!

I spent Sunday knitting a hat. It was slow going because the lilac yarn is mostly cotton and not elastic. It does make a cute thick hat!

The sweater sleeve doesn't show much progress. I thought that I needed to knit 18 more rows to the under arm. Did that and a little more. The cables didn't match sleeve #1. Retreated and started 2 rows later. Wrong! This morning I took another look at sleeve #1, and started the underarm 4 rows earlier, 16 rows from last posting. I could have finished it by now if I'd had my head together. It looks right now.

Sock the second nears completion.

Thursday, January 29, 2015


I was eating dinner last night when I heard it. It took a while for me to figure out what the sound was. A smoke detector battery. I thought I just changed all of them! The first ones lasted 3-4 years, why was one chirping now. Batteries last a long time when the detectors are wired into the house. I started changing batteries. This required a store run to buy more batteries. I went ahead and changed all four smoke detectors.  Later I heard the chirping again. I didn't know there was one in the basement! This wasn't my responsibility when my husband was alive. This is the second time I have found a smoke detector that I wasn't aware of. Today I will be putting the old but still good batteries back in the first four detectors. I should be okay for a couple of years. The house was rewired at least four years ago, and three of the detectors were installed then. This last battery dates from that time.

I'm plugging along on sleeve #2 for my sweater. 18 more rows until the underarm. I'll have to redesign the front soon. The magazine is hat research. I have a request for warm hats for grandkids for Christmas. February is hats thin month on Ravelry's Stash Down forum.  I thought I'd get a head start on gifts. I have yarn pulled out for two hats. The first one is for charity. It's not warm enough for the grandkids, but it's washable, so the guild will get it. 

Today is cleaning day, as well as gym day, and work at the shop to catch up. Better get started.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Knitting Fumes

It started before Christmas. I "needed" a needle to knit the cowl/neck warmers. I went to Knit Picks and ordered one of their pretty green wood needles in a 16" length. I also am always on the lookout for solid color non-shrink sock yarn.  I bought enough for 5 pairs. That should last me for a while!

Then my LYS got in a new line of guess what, non-shrink solid color sock yarn. 5 1/2 pairs worth joined the sock yarn stash. The library knitting group had a yarn swap/party.  Some partial balls joined the stash. I'll use them for color work socks. That's what the extra ball from the yarn store became. I agreed to design a mystery sock for a Ravelry group. I needed yarns with a good contrast. Back to the yarn store for 2 more balls.

On New Years Eve, I got am e-mail about a sock yarn sale at WEBS. 10 pairs worth, trying to concentrate on lighter colors. 

Then to top it off, my guild had its annual yarn swap/sale. Yarn for 12 more pairs followed me home. 

This is where the recent purchases live. The top shelf is the 50 gm bits that will show up in color work socks later. Some of it is leftover from other socks.

Meanwhile I keep knitting on my Fledermaus socks. 

I'm now nearing the toe. The patterning is going slowly, complicated by the fact that I'm knitting other things too. I finished the cowl/neck warmer for my grandson's birthday.

I've started a commission sweater. It's a simple pattern that I can take with me. The socks can only go to a limited number of situations, due to their complexity. The same for the grey sweater that I work on every morning. 

Weather continues to frustrate my dog walking, so I have more knitting time. We have started walking in a cemetery. The roads are clear, the traffic light, and it's not near enough to our house that she thinks she's allowed in the road. Walking the neighborhood twice a day will commence when the sidewalks are ice free.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Library Challenge

Thanks to Ravelry I have joined The Library Challenge.The idea is to use that pile of books and patterns that you have collected over the years, using at least one pattern per month. I'm doing well this month.

Erin's Elephant is from Knitted Wild Animals. She'll be getting that on Thursday January 15.
I have a gift for my daughter in law, where I used my Best of Lopi book. No photos yet, she reads the blog.
The Socks I'm knitting came from a free pattern that was in my Ravelry library.

I'm reknitting a sweater that I designed in 1999. That one's from my personal library. I have a lot done on the first sleeve.The photo story is on Ravelry.

My charity knitting continues. Socks for Wool-Aid, a pair nears completion. Mittens for our knitting guild. Other knitting this month: a neck warmer for a grandson with a Feb.1 birthday, a mystery sock design for a Ravelry group to be released in July/August.

I have a basket of yarn to be used this year, some new, some very old. I'll add to it as I knit up projects.

I'm getting more knitting done these days. The weather is not safe for me to walk the dog, so that time is being put to knitting.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The word of the day was "Hope"

Last Sunday at church we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany.

The sermon focused on hope. I don't remember the exact connection. Hope is a good thing. Our pastor hoped for a warm, snow free winter, so that he wouldn't have to pay so much to the plow service. The priest wanted a snowy winter, so that he could ski. They both were happy! We haven't had much snow, and the weather has been cold enough for the ski resorts to make snow with their machines.

I'm happy because so far, my dog and I have been able to walk a lot.  We both enjoy that! I'll walk if it's not icy and the snow isn't too deep. The polar vortex has done us in this week, but Tuesday afternoon we got a walk in.  There was about an inch of snow on the ground, enough to cover any ice. It was quite cold, but I remembered that i have a pair of ski pants ( bought at a thrift store), so I was warm enough. My dog wears a winter coat all year. She's a real fur sharing animal when she sheds.

On the knitting front, I finished an elephant for DGD E's birthday and am now working on the next birthday.

I have a notebook with all the birthdays noted and room to write down gift ideas. I have an October request that I have ordered yarn for. I keep trying to be organized. Sometimes it even works.

I stared the new year by making a "basket" of yarn I hope to use this year, not the whole year, but to put in place what I know I want to do. This keeps it in front of my eyes, and ups the chances for completion. Some of the yarn is quite new and I know exactly what to do with it. Some of it is quite old, and maybe by looking at it enough I can figure out what it wants to be.  The oldest yarn is sock yarn, so it's just a matter of deciding on a pattern.

Today, I will finish the leg of a charity sock, so I can go back on autopilot for the heel and foot. A change of yarn is required, and I want to get that set up. I need to finish about 1/2" of the leg and the change yarn.

Dinner soup is made, so I'd better get knitting.

Friday, January 2, 2015

A Fresh Start

The holidays are over! I'm so glad I could make most of the gifts. As I was coming home from the fabric shop Christmas week, I got stuck in a traffic jam caused by people going into the mall!! I felt sorry for all the shoppers

As I said, I made almost all the gifts this year. The one exception was a cookbook that I picked up last fall. I own a copy of the same book, so I sticky noted all the recipes that I made.

Knitted gifts were cowls for most of the guys, a pair of fingerless mitts, and three pairs of socks. The trip to the fabric store was supposed to yield enough flannel for five more pairs of pj pants. I ran short of fabric on the last pair, and was fabric shopping Christmas Eve. I sewed that pair Christmas morning. I live alone and the family get together was on Saturday.

I also knit pair of scrap yarn advent calendar socks. Every day was a different color, with guidance on the choice provided by the designer. One day was your favorite sports team. There were charts for cartoon characters. I don't remember the rest. Each day you knit the number of rounds for that date. It got difficult as we got closer to Christmas. I actually finished on Christmas Day.

Now I'm knitting on my reknitting Masters sweater. I lost weight and it was too big. I'm nearing the
end of the back. Earlier last year I unraveled the sweater and washed the yarn. There is hope that I can wear it this winter. Silly phone camera saved the photo sideways.

I'm also knitting an elephant for my granddaughter.  I converted the pattern from flat knitting to knitting in the round. I almost had a head and trunk that couldn't be stuffed, but I realized in time and there will be a seam on the trunk.

I hope to blog more often. That really is my only New Years resolution.