Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Free!

Woo-Hoo! Saturday evening I shoveled more snow from the drive and we were able to get out of, and more importantly perhaps, back in the driveway. So, we made it to vespers Saturday for the first time in 2 weeks I think. Wow.

It was so wonderful to see people I don't live with! I mean, I love my family, but it was nice to have a few new faces, you know?

Anyway, the melt is really on now, and we have been out quite a bit. I think Himself is a bit concerned about my state of mind, so he's humoring me. I'd be out even more, but my van suffered a bit in the cold. The driver-side window motor is toast, or very, very ill. The window is stuck mostly down. I can lower it all the way, but I can't get it up more than halfway. Which, well, with the weather is sub-optimal. The van is off for repairs on Tuesday. I had to put it off until I could actually drive there.

I couldn't work up the motivation for the sweater last night, so I caved on the knitting. I cast on for a new pair of the Evangelines. I still haven't washed the first pair to see if that softens them up, but I started a new pair in some Cascade 220 in a varigated red/black. We'll see if they work any better. I did go down a needle size, to a US 6, to try to make a good fit for DD1, so we'll see if that was a good idea or not.

I made a bit of progress on those today as I watched Hogfather. I bought it for me, but I'm the only one in the house that hasn't seen it yet. sigh The family watched "with me" while I was cleaning something-or-other up one day, and as a result I only saw snippits of the first half. I have a few quibbles with it, but it is still a very enjoyable movie. Himself and friends are practicing music for a New Year's Eve gig, so I'm upstairs with all the small humans (my two plus one). That has cut into the knitting a bit, but I'm about to go find a quiet corner and try again.

All in all, calm is slowly returning to me. I can get out if I want to, and my family is all still at home. Am I nuts or what? The only difference between today and last Friday is whether or not I can drive away if I want to. Now that I can, I don't really want to, but I'm happier at home. No wonder my husband can't figure me out!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Um, where's the melting they keep talking about?

The weather forecast was for warmer temperatures and rain. In fact, we're supposed to be under a flood watch. (The lower elevations will have a rapid melt of a ton of snow, rivers will rise, flat lands will flood. You know, a whole different type of disaster.) Anyway, instead, we had about 2 and a half hours of heavy, giant snowflakes. It looked like a very heavy fog outside, but it was snow. So instead of a melt, which would allow me to leave my home and, say, get groceries, I'm home wondering what can to open for dinner again.

OTOH, I'm happy I still have food in the cupboard, but I'd really like to add a few new non-canned/boxed things. I don't think anyone expected this much snow. Really, 13 days? In an area where they don't plow my street so I can get out? No, 1-2 days is good for me.

We had a lovely Christmas (and yes, it was snowing) and the girls were very happy with their haul of gifts (a few books, some chemistry/science kits, two video games and two movies and warm, fluffy pajamas). I'm glad they like them so much, because that is what they're spending their time doing now. Other than an occasional crawl on the neighbor's igloo, they aren't much interested in going out anymore. The thrill of snow not only wears off, but most of the other neighborhood kids seem to be gone. (The igloo is there near the big bush, but may be too hard to see. It is covered over with more snow now.)

Because of the snow, we missed all of the Vespers services leading up to Christmas at our church. We also missed the Christmas Eve service and Christmas Day as well. That was a big bummer for us, and has never, ever happened before. I hope we can make it to church this weekend! We weren't the only ones not there, though, as a few friends who did make it said the church was really very empty. I guess more of us need chains or snow tires, even if we only need them once every 4-5 years. heh

We were able to get out Christmas Day to have dinner with friends from church. They had snow tires and came and picked us up. We spent the day with other friends and a new one (a co-worker of our hosts). The discussions were varied and quite interesting. The newcomer recently immigrated from India, another guest was from Lebanon, so lots of cultural exchange. lol I brought my knitting, but didn't manage a single stitch. That's okay. I sampled some Lebanese liqueur and some Turkish (style) coffee. Then didn't sleep much, so maybe I should have skipped the coffee. grin

I tidied up my yarn corner a bit today and now can't decide what project to work on. I'd like to cast on something new, but I should just stick with the sweater. I'm making decent progress, in spite of myself, and I'd like to keep going while I can. Other yarn is soooo tempting, though. sigh Especially now that I've been petting it. Oh why didn't I just leave it a bit of a mess?

Well, I'm going to go sit by the fire, watch more snow fall and try to decide what project to work on. Or start ...

Temptation thy name is yarn! Or, it is today.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowed in

Okay. We had about 8 days of straight snow. Sure, there were breaks, and sometimes the snow was tiny, tiny little balls of snow-like stuff, but it was 8 days of snow.

I'm from West Texas. We get virtually no snow. Well, at least no snow that lasts more than about 6-12 hours before fading away. I have memories of my mom waking me up at 1am to go get in the car, drive out to one of our main thoroughfares and doing donuts down the 7 lane roads. In our pajamas. There were no cars to hit, 7 lanes to play in, and the snow was gone by noon the next day. Snowball fights at 2 am in pajamas and coats. Snow ice cream for breakfast.

You get the idea. Snow was rare.

I grew up with impossibly flat land, dirt, trees that only seemed happy in our 2 weeks of Spring, sand, tumbleweeds, dirt, wind, sand, blazing heat, dirt, thunderstorms with very little rain, or possibly thunderstorms with grapefruit-sized hail, dirt, big open skies, sand. Did I mention the dirt? Or the sand? There was beauty there, but it wasn't usually green. Or white.

I love the Northwest. I love the rain and the grey, overcast days. I love the hills and mountains, even the volcanoes! I love having four seasons. I still get wind, and somewhere under all the green is dirt. I do miss the thunderstorms. My poor children will no doubt grow up afraid of them, they are so rare here. I love the water, water everywhere. I can sometimes get over the fact that the geography prohibits road construction to a ridiculous degree. (My hometown of 150,000 has bigger, wider streets than Seattle.)

Every year I can count on a few rounds of snow. It is really nice. It snows and it piles up just enough to look all nice and even, then in a day or two at most (usually) it is gone. It stays just long enough to enjoy it, but not enough to be truly hampered by it.

Not this year. I guess my real point here, before I tripped down memory lane, is that 8 days of snow is too much in a town that does not do well with snow. Big hills, and this year the city decided to be green and not salt (or whatever they usually do). They decided the best thing for us all was to pack the snow/ice down so that people with 4-wheel drives could get around. Now, call me crazy, but if the environmentally friendly folks are pushing us all to get rid of big 4-wheel drive vehicles they are going to have to come up with a better plan for ice/snow. I sincerely doubt the ability of Smart cars to get around on the roads as they are right now.

But I digress again. I have a van. It works well enough for me.

This past week was the last week of school for the kids, but they only went for two half days. They've been home with me all week. Himself is home too, but on vacation. His idea of vacation, so far, is to rearrange the house. Again. I begged off the house thing, I told him I just wasn't up to it this time. We keep shifting the same three sections of stuff upstairs and down, trying to get the perfect, usable arrangement. This is the third move in a year. So, I begged off.

He was a real trooper, got it all done and even weeded out some stuff. I'm impressed with what he's accomplished, and I told him so. Lots of positive feedback for the hard-working man. Of course, that made me feel like a total slacker. So, I worked on a few odd projects myself, but nothing equaling the enormity of his efforts. Anyway, the bulk of that was done by Wednesday, so we've all spent the past six days trying to stay friendly with one another, trying to keep the TV to a minimum and keep the Christmas Spirit to a maximum, as it were. In short, the kids are bored and neither Himself nor I are able to fully enjoy anything we're trying to do without constant interruptions. My computer time is broken up frequently so that the girls can play games, etc., so no real blogging, Ravelry or anything else.

Over the past week I've spent every day vigilant against freezing hummingbird feeders. I must be one of a few, the birds are swarming my feeder every day. I put it in overnight, and some days I've had to bring it in several times to thaw out and then put it back out. I know the hummingbirds back in TX usually migrate, but we seem to have birds that do not. I have no idea what they eat up here in the Winter, but I remember seeing them last year too. (Though we did not have anything like this snow last year!)

Yesterday we shoveled 16+ inches of snow off our deck. It is on a second story, and I was concerned about it collapsing. Our deck needs to be replaced, and I'm worried about its stability anyway, that much snow was just making it even more precarious. Not to mention the giant snow slides we will have when our roof finally melts.

Today we got out for a few hours, but had trouble getting back into the driveway. So, I got out and attempted to shovel a bit of snow off so that we can make the Christmas services at church. We'll see if that helps. We'll also see if I can walk, or even move, tomorrow. So far my back feels fine. I'm suspicious of that, but I'm not complaining. grin

You'd think being snowed in would provide more knitting time. I've spent too much time clearing up email stuff and trying to feel useful. (Himself has given me such a complex this week!) Anyway,I seem to be in a weird knitting place these last couple of projects. I knit up a Jayne Hat (Firefly fans will know what I'm talking about) finally, and somehow I made it too small for my head. I tried it on. I'm fairly certain my head did not shrink for the fitting, or grow after I wove in the last bit of yarn. I have no idea how I messed that one up, but there you go. I'll be knitting a new one. Eventually. Hmm. I don't even have a picture of it. I'll get one of the girls to model my strange hat.

Next, I decided to do some fingerless mitts. I chose the pattern Evangeline and used some Paton's SWS in Natural Earth. The colors were spectacular and the pattern was fun. I decided to give them to my mom if I finished them before Christmas. Well. They fit my 8 yo, but the won't fit my mom. The colors are great. DD was thrilled to have them. For about 30 mintues. Then she declared them very, very itchy. Now they just sit there mocking me. I convinced her to put them on so that I could get a photo, but they were off again immediately.

I'll try this one again with different yarn and maybe go up a size in the needles. I may have been knitting very tightly. I was afraid they would be too big when I cast them on, so maybe I never loosened up again. Worst case, DD gets a pair in non-itchy yarn that she can wear.

After those two relative failures, I decided it was time to pick up the sweater I am making for Himself. (I'm making the sweater on the cover, Jack's Aran Sweater.) I'm not sure it was a wise decision, after the gloves and the hat, but there it is. I've done it now, and I won't look back. I have ripped. Oh, yes, I have ripped and ripped again. Who knew there could be so many frogs in the snow? I checked my gauge before I got started. I decided it was off, too large, and ripped back 2 inches of cable to the ribbing. I knit those two inches again with smaller needles and remeasured. I found that I had been reading the gauge for the wrong sweater (I think) and that my original bit was correct. So I ripped again, went back to the old needle size and started again.

No. Really. I'm not drinking heavily or engaging in any other substance abuse that I know of. I have moved past it, though, and I'm about an inch and a half from the arm adjustments. I shall read the instructions many times before commencing any decreases, etc. I have only bodged up the cables once, and ripped back about 8 rows, but picked it up again and it looks right now. I will be using lifelines again, now that I've reminded myself why they are handy little things. I will post photos of the sweater soon. I am glad I've picked it up again. If nothing comes up, I might even have it done soon enough for him to wear it this year.

I have no idea what I'll do with all of that SWS yarn I picked up on sale, though.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hearts & Hugs

Here's another quick little project I've been working on. This is the Little Hearts pattern, though please don't judge the pattern on my work! I decided to make hearts of different sizes, and sometimes I didn't do a very good job deciding how many stitches to leave on the needle to Kitchener off. If I hadn't had a pretty firm deadline, I would have knit up a few new and improved ones to send. Then again, as these are meant to be symbolic hugs and warm thoughts from me, perhaps the slightly wonky ones are closer to my true self. lol

The lovely woman who organized and delivered the Pratchghan (from the Ankh-Morpork Knitter's Guild on Ravelry) recently lost her mom to cancer. Another wonderful Raveler decided to organize a quick response and many people from all around Ravelry are jumping in to knit heart themed items to send off. Nothing can ever replace a mom, but hopefully our hearts will help comfort and cheer her when she sees them.

Frankly, it blows me away just thinking about it. Not the fact that so many knitters who've never met face-to-face would want to give of their time and fiber and hearts (the real ones), I'm well aware just how thoughtful and giving people (and knitters) can be when someone they know is hurting. But the thought of receiving such a huge outpouring of love and caring from so many people around the world at a time when love and caring would mean so much, well, it just brings a tear (or many tears) to my eyes thinking about it. I'd really love to see her face when she opens the packages coming her way. She's in the U.K., so many folks in the US sent to one address where things will be combined into one package. Others will mail to her directly, so the love will continue to trickle in over time. I think it is such a lovely idea!

Anyway, I knit these hearts in some stashed Cascade 220 in red, pink and white on two circs, size 7 US. I got pretty darned good at the Turkish cast-on, which is harder with so few stitches, at least I think so. I also got the Kitchener down pretty good too. I should probably keep knitting these little guys so that I can keep these skills fresh, but I just don't know. I'm feeling a bit unenthusiastic about projects right now. Two weeks ago I was downright frothing at the mouth to get back to the Pi Shawl. Then the heart project turned up, so I needed to get that done asap. Now that I'm presumably free to knit what I want, I have no idea what I want to do. I dithered around for a day or so, then just picked something.

So now I'm currently working on Evangeline, some fingerless gloves. This first pair will be for my mom, and I'll probably do the short version for her. If I finish them in time to send for Christmas I will, but I'm not planning to make these a gift. I don't need the stress. I'm knitting these up in some nice earth tones for her, and I think she'll like them. I know she'll at least like the colors.

My girls want some fingerless gloves too, but I'm not sure if I can size these down properly for them. My thought was to remove some stitches (once I have a better idea of gauge) from the palm side of the glove, but I need to actually see it on a hand (in person) before I try it. My brain thinks I need to remove stitches from needle 1 and needle 2 to make the glove even. I haven't got a clue, and I really don't know if I have the patience right now to try it then rip the whole darned thing if I'm wrong. We'll see.

I think they've gotten a bit spoiled on the knitting thing. Everytime I do a project they like, they want one for themselves. I've had a request for bigger hearts in every color of the rainbow from the youngest, and she wants them all for herself. Then the oldest got a new coat, and no longer matches the hats I made last year, so she wants a new one. Well, if she gets a new one, the younger wants one too! sigh I'm really glad they like (and wear) my knitting, but sometimes it is a little too much. At least when and how they ask.

Who knows? Maybe their little, and not so little, requests will inspire me to get back to some serious daily knitting. You know, instead of playing Zoo Tycoon all day...

Friday, December 05, 2008

Catching up - Again!

Well, I finally managed to get all my photos on the computer, so I can post all the socks I completed in the Scarefest.

This is the bonus sock Wasp Woman. I knit this one up while watching the timely release of the Cinematic Titanic riff on the original movie. That was loads of fun and this was a fun sock to knit. I used Opal Rainforest in Chameleon on US2 circs, both socks at once. Wow. That is so much faster than on sock at a time! I love these socks! Here they are with a pipe belonging to one of Wasp Woman's victims.

This is the second pair of socks I managed to complete, NeverMore. This pattern was inspired by Poe's Raven. Poe is one of my all-time favorites, I really think he has such a musical feel for language. Anyway, these babies are knit up in Mountain Colors Barefoot Obsidian. This was my first toe-up sock. I find them a bit challenging to get on as they are tight across the ankle/instep. I understand there're alternative ways to knit this part and make a better fit, so next time I have a toe-up, I'll try something different and hope for a better fit. I can get them on, and I have worn them. I love the colors, the pattern was wonderful and they will look so much better if I ever block them. LOL

This pattern was lace and it was an easy pattern to do, technically my first completed lace project I think. I would enjoy these socks a little more if they were longer in the leg, so if I did them again I might do more repeats of the lace. Then again, if I'd blocked them, they would be a bit longer. They have mohair in them, so they are very warm & soft. I had a few problems counting, but that was all about me and the socks and the TV, as usual, so once I stopped with the TV, it got much better.

We had a couple of mummy patterns, but I only managed to work on the second one. This pattern is All Wrapped Up and was loads of fun.

This sock is a fun one because there is one pattern for the front, and then that pattern is re-ordered for the back of the socks. This was the last pair I was able to get done, and I mean I stretched it down to the wire! I had so many other projects going by the middle of the Scarefest, it was really difficult to set aside enough time to get the socks done. The first pair only took 12 days, the last pair almost took me a month. Still, a great improvement over the 2 years I spent on my first pair of socks!

This yarn does not show up well on film, or in person until it has been knit up. It is a creamy colored yarn with bits of pale, pale pink and blue. Once I had about a half inch of knitting done, the colors really showed up. Prior to that I was just taking it on faith that the dyer put pink and blue in it. lol The yarn is Cushy Delight in Darling Mummy by the Vintage Eclectic. I have another skien of yarn from her in Bump In The Night, and I'm really looking forward to getting that one knit up too. The link to her is:

I tried to put the link in the normal way, but I'm having some issues with the browser today. (My computer didn't like the Firefox upgrade and wouldn't open the browser any more, so I imported everything into IE and I'm still having issues. *sigh*)

The other mummy patter was also lovely, and I'll be getting to that one too. I've got the yarn all wound up and ready to go.
There were some amazing patterns in this KAL and I hope to get to them all, I've got yarn set aside and everything! I've signed up for another KAL with many from the same group, Bleeping Socks Games, and the theme is video games. It is due to start at the first of the year. I'm hoping my schedule will work out, but we'll have to see. It is a fun way to push myself to try new things and get stronger on socks.

I've been asked to knit some socks for a friend at church. He's a young man with Muscular Dystrophy, and his feet are always cold. He is confined to a wheelchair, so he just can't move around and get warmed up like most other folk. I'm working with his mom to get some size information and type of sock he wants, fiber, etc. Of course, I think he wants all black socks! So the KAL was a great warm-up to get me over the fear and stress with socks.

Things continue to be crazy around here. However did I work outside the house?! I'm trying to keep everything a bit more mellow for the holidays this year, we'll see how it goes!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Finish Line in Sight

Okay, here's a shot of NeverMore. I promise I finished the pair, not just one. heh. These were knit up in Mountain Colors Barefoot in Obsidian on 2.5mm Knit Picks Options needles. I started 2 on 2 circs, but had to switch to one at a time (on 2 circs) due to my inability to repeat the lace pattern correctly on both legs at the same time. I might could do it now, but not when I needed to. I could have done a couple more repeats of the pattern for a taller sock, but I'm happy with them, as is.

Not the best picture, but I was going for spooky, and I was trying to take a picture of my own foot in an artistic sort of way. That's really hard, you know? I'm just not that bendy. I should really invest in some sock blockers. The book behind my foot is actually a really lovely (in a macabre sort of way) book with poems and stories by Poe along with b&w photography of settings suited to the mood. Many are photos of statuary in cemeteries & such. Amazon doesn't have a photo of the cover, but there are other books by the same guy, so you can get a general idea if you're really interested.

I loved the pattern on these socks, and I learned lots of new stuff. They were toe-up, my first, and lace, my first completed lace, and they had a picot edge at the top, yep, another first. Obviously, there are some hole issues where I picked up the stitches at the heel, but I don't mind since it is a lace sock anyway. The only real negative is that the socks are pretty tight and hard to get on my foot, especially the one on the formerly-broken leg. (That feels like I'm talking about the artist-formerly-known-as-Prince, who's now Prince again.) I'm not sure if it is the arch part of the sock & part of the design, or if I had a death-grip on the needles through that part and just pulled everything too tight. I'm leaning towards a pattern/design issue only because I did try really hard to loosen up, especially at that part, on the second sock and it is only slightly less tight. I've heard this is sometimes an issue with toe-up patterns, though, so maybe I'll just share the blame for the problem. I know some folks in the KAL followed a different method for this part of the sock exactly for this kind of reason. Obviously, these folks are more experienced with socks. I have the New Pathways book by Cat Bordhi, so I'll look into it next time I do a toe-up sock. (If I can remember.)

The socks will go on my foot, though, eventually, and I love the yarn and the way they turned out. I'll be wearing them, and I can even see myself knitting this pattern again, though goodness knows I've got plenty of other patterns stashed all over. I'm finishing up (turning the heel) on All Wrapped Up, still in the KAL, and trying to get them done before the official end of the KAL (Nov 15). I love they way they are knitting up, and the yarn is just gorgeous. It is from the Vintage Eclectic and is Cushy Delight in Darling Mummy. This yarn is creamy in color and has very, very light color shading in pink and blue. I tell you, I spent ages looking at it in various light and I just couldn't really see the colors. About 6 rows into this pattern, however, and BAM! there they were. They are really lovely socks and the yarn is very smooshy. I have TINKed the heel three times because I am a doofus, but I'm right at the turn bit and then it is smooth sailing. All I need is some uninterrupted time. (I'm a doofus because I keep trying to work on this part while watching very interesting movies/TV and it just won't work!)

I like to think I'd be further along in the KAL, only on my third pair of socks, but I spent much of October sewing costumes for the girls. The picture was taken by Himself and does not show the detail I was most proud of for each costume, but we may stick them back in them and try again. I had a flower fairy and a vampire princess (the pattern was for a princess costume, with long drapey sleeves, we just did it in red and black). It was fun working on the costumes, but it took up all my knitting time most days.

Also for your viewing pleasure is the Scottie dog pumpkin. After all, what is Halloween without the traditional Dog Pumpkin? I kid. For some reason, the youngest wanted a dog & this is one of the patterns I found. I got lots of compliments on it. lol The other was a very well done (if I do say so myself) scary face. The dog was a favorite, though. Who knew?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm really not sure about this

I've signed up to be a substitute ParaEducator (teacher's aide) in the local school district. I thought it would be a good way to provide yarn money and get me out and about, without taking away from the time home with the kids. Since I'm a substitute, I can work when I want, more or less, and be unavailable at other times.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. Really. If I work 80 hours a month, I'll bring home about what was left of my check from my previous job after taking out gas money and daycare, etc. That isn't really my goal, but it is an interesting number to know. So, I went to orientation yesterday and today I had my first job. It lasted a whole 2 hours, as it was a lunch monitor position at a local elementary school.

Yikes! First, I didn't know what the job was, so I over-dressed a bit. I wouldn't care much, but my feet hurt from standing around on a non-comfy surface. Next time, I'll bring extra shoes, just in case. Secondly, first aid. I took a class a couple of weeks ago, so I'm now certified in first aid and CPR for infants through adults. This is a good thing, but today there were a million accidents requiring band-aids and I didn't have a stash on me. Other monitors did, so I think I may want to put together a little bag that goes with me for that sort of thing. Otherwise, the school nurse is overrun with small scratches that simply must have a bandage. Lastly, I had no idea I would become some sort of counselor. "Um, I want to be her friend, but she won't let me and she never lets me sit close to her and I just want to be friends with her..." It isn't that I'm not sympathetic, but I had a hard time finding out exactly what my duties were (not big on communication). I'm pretty sure this level of counseling was not high on my list of duties, if it appeared at all. I tried, but as often happens with the younger set, he got distracted and ran off. I hope he gets it sorted, but I imagine that since it involved a girl, he is in for a long road of confusion and, possibly, disappointment.

I also ended up with chocolate milk on my head, but well, I'll just let that one go.

I'm at the heel turn of the second NeverMore sock. I like the toe-up thing, it seems easier, somehow, than top down. I'm not crazy about how pointy this toe is, or the heel for that matter. Still, that is a function of the particular pattern, not toe-up knitting. So, I'll know to modify those things in the future. The job orientation and the short job today really ate up my knitting time, though, so I'm anxious about getting this sock done. The next pattern comes out tomorrow! Eek! (See? Scarefest!) I also spent the weekend cooking for a movie party (not mine) and taking the oldest shopping for some new jeans. So, no real knitting in about four days. Woe is me! And here I am blogging instead of knitting, but I'm trying to get a routine going, again, for all the things I want to do often.

I'll get pics up of the NeverMore socks once I finish the last one. These socks haven't gone as quickly as the Wasp Woman socks, but I've learned several new things and I've had trouble counting the lace pattern at times (sleep deprivation!). The second sock is going faster than the first, if only I hadn't been so busy the past few days!

Pardon me while I go chase the squirrels off of the bird feeder, then back to the socks!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Wow! A whole month

What have I been doing with myself? Well, just the usual stuff I guess. The girls had to get all their gear together for school, and there was all the last minute stuff trying to fit in some more fun before school started. There's been some knitting and some sewing as well.

When asked if she's enjoying first grade, the youngest had this to say: "If you mean do I like sitting around all day in my chair doing nothing and being bored, yeah, it's okay I guess." Hmmm. Not a thrilling reply, but it is early days yet. I'm not sure if she is still adjusting to going to school for a full day, not as physically active in first grade as she was in Kinder, or if she is really bored and not challenged. I'll wait a bit before getting too concerned. I know it takes a while for everyone to settle into a routine, especially first graders, so I'll just see how she feels at the end of the month. The eldest isn't very impressed with 3rd grade either. She doesn't have any of her old friends in her new class, and they spend an hour every day on maths. She is quite unhappy, and doesn't seem satisfied with her teacher either.

It is always so hard to know if it is just the child adjusting to the new teacher and routine, or if there is a real mismatch. I don't want to be a helicopter parent, they need to learn to work things out, etc., but I had some seriously BAD teachers when I was young, and my mom did nothing to help me sort out the problems. (Seriously, I had a teacher who personally hated my mother and took it out on me in class. She made fun of me in front of the other students, etc.) I don't want either child dealing with anything like that, but there's nothing wrong with a 'strict' teacher. They were some of my best teachers, overall.

'Wait and see' seems to be the path ahead.

I've been trying to get back on a "kids in school" routine ever since. I should have it sorted out soon. I hope.

We gave in and joined Netflix, and I've been watching way too many movies lately. Well, that and I joined the Super Sock Scarefest 2008 on Ravelry. I've been watching boxed sets of old horror classics. I'm sometimes confused why a specific movie is considered a horror film, but they are not very long and still entertaining, and it is easy to knit while watching them. I was hoping to gain some more experience and build up my comfort level with socks. I think I'm off to a good start. The first pair I finished is the Wasp Woman pattern. It was a bonus pattern given out before the Scarefest actually started. I wasn't watching the dates, so I started it about 3 days before the first real pattern came out. I've skipped the first pattern, The Mummy, for now though it is really nice and I can't wait to get back to it, and went on to pattern #2, NeverMore (The Raven). Wasp Woman was done in Opal Rainforest, chameleon colorway, which was some stash yarn, and they took about 12 days (or about 10 of actual knitting). I'm pretty excited as the first pair of socks took almost 2 years. LOL That's a nice improvement, don't you think?

I've been buying way too much sock yarn the past 3 weeks.

NeverMore is my first toe-up sock, and is a lace pattern. It is a simple pattern, and quite lovely. The only thing is that the pattern moves around the leg, so once past the heel I won't be able to do 2 on 2 circs. I'm a bit worried that I'll lag too far behind and develop SSS, but I'm hoping I'll manage okay. I'm starting the heel gusset today, and if I can get through this part, I know it'll be smooth sailing for the rest of the sock. They are shorter socks, too, so that should help me get them done. I'm doing this one in Mountain Colors Bearfoot in the Obsidian colorway. I'll take some pictures soon and get them up (hopefully in under a month!).

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Squeee Alert!

Today was the hand-off of the Pratchghan 2008!

As you may remember, when author Terry Pratchett announced that he had been diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers, a number of his fans in the Ankh-Morpork Knitter's Guild decided to send him an afghan filled with fibery love from knitters, and possibly a few hookers as well. I was lucky enough to contribute two squares to the project, (here and here) the horseshoe even glows in the dark like Binky's hoofprints.

Our project leader, and tireless worker who sewed all the squares together (though I would never call her a seamstress!), was able to contact Pterry's PA who arranged for her to deliver it in person. What a delight for her and for all the fans who contributed squares, as well as other fans in the Guild.

In addition to the Pratchghan, Cherryred also passed along letters from all of the contributors. While I realize Pterry could buy any number of afghans for himself if he so desired, it was so much fun coming up with themed squares, encouraging everyone to try something new and to see the finished product. The only sadness any of us feel (aside from sadness about the disease itself) is that we don't have our own Pratchghan to commemorate the project. (Photos by and with permission of Cherryred.)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Little Dragons

Adopt one today!Adopt one today!Adopt one today!Adopt one today!

I've gotten some cute little dragon eggs, and hopefully they'll grow to be dragons. Please click the eggs and help them out!

In knitting news, I did a heavy bit of cleaning yesterday and I think my glove had a leak. As a result, my fingers were crazy rough and I wasn't able to knit again after cleaning. I was afraid I'd snag my yarn. So, I got one round done on the shawl yesterday.

This morning I remembered I had a pumice stone somewhere, and used that to smooth out the rough bits on my fingers. So, now I can knit again, if I can just find the time and the mood today.

The morning got off to a crummy start, so I'm not sure what I'll do as far as knitting is concerned. Let me distract you with pictures of my homespun all washed and set!

Ruby Merino - 16 oz.

My first fiber, Romney - 16 oz

Northern Lights Merino

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Busy last week!

We had a busy week last week! This is a good thing. On Tuesday, we were invited to visit our neighbor's camping lot near the Skagit River. It was a little over an hour's drive North. I drove since the girl's are still required to use car seats, or boosters, and the neighbor's car wouldn't hold the seats plus three adults. There was virtually no radio, no movie in the van and the girl's were not interested in conversation. I daresay it was the sort of road trip I took when I was a kid (only shorter, we never went anywhere that only took an hour!)

The neighbors are in their 70s, so I was trying to keep the noise level in the van low enough so that they could talk. As it was Bob couldn't hear what Barb was saying most of the time, and she got really irritated with him for "ignoring" her. She's has a couple of strokes recently, and her memory isn't great, so no matter how many times I explained that the car was noisy and he just couldn't hear her, she was convinced it was deliberate. On the up side, she probably forgot she was annoyed by the time we got home. LOL

Once at the lot, we had a lovely picnic lunch, and then the girls and I hit the pool for about an hour and a half. 'Swimming' consisted of them jumping all over me and demanding that I ferry them around in the water, play Marco Polo, freeze tag, etc. All of the other games involved them jumping on me as well. As a result, I felt like I'd been lifting weights for an hour and a half by the time we got out. I was done in, honestly, but Bob insisted on taking us to the Meadow and showing us the great spot for baseball, etc.

It was a beautiful place, and there was a part of the river running through there. The river sort of broke around a little island, and then rejoined a little ways down from where we were. It was really lovely, especially near the river bank. The girls just wanted to get back in the water.

There's a lot of salmon fishing on the Skagit, at least one of the local bottled water businesses gets their water in this area, and there's a great microbrewery in the area as well. It is the same valley where we attended some Highland Games a few weeks ago, and they also have a Tulip Festival every year. This is also a prime area for (bald) eagle watching trips, which are usually river boating trips. I did see an eagle while we were walking, but it was directly into the sun, so no pictures.

Bob still wasn't done with us. He then made us hike about 2 miles (round trip) down to the river so the girls could see the swimming beach. (top picture) Mind you, this water is COLD, but crazy, desperate people do swim in it in the summer. The girls were exhausted until they got to the water. They perked up enough then to want to swim. Again. (We didn't) It was a lovely, if exhausting, trip and we all slept very well after all of that exercise.

Two days later, the girls and I caught a ferry over to Jetty Island in our hometown. The ferry ride takes all of three minutes, maybe less, but then we were let off at this cute little, well, jetty island. We went to hear a talk about sharks and the walked out to the beach. I was surprised at how many insane people swim in the sound up here. That thing is freezing year round! (in the 50s F)

When we set out on this trip, the wind was very strong and it was pretty cold outside, so I didn't plan for them to swim. By the time the shark talk was over, the wind had calmed significantly, and it had warmed up. We'll probably make another trip out before school starts so the girls can try swimming if they want. The only problem is that I will have to be prepared to get in too, and I really don't want to. It just doesn't get warm enough up here to lure me into that water.

Knitting? Not so much. I did knit a round or two on my socks! But mostly I was psyching myself up to do the Ravelympics. I'm in the WIPWrestling event with my Pi shawl as the project. So far, so good. More on that later.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

My Favorite!

Raspberries! I love these things, and they are always so expensive in the stores, even when they are in season. So in my never ending quest to keep the kids occupied and moving around, we went berry picking today at a local farm.

This is the first time we've picked raspberries, even though they are my favorites, because I forget when they are in season. So we usually go for strawberries & blueberries and I'm grumpy about missing the raspberries. Not this year! Yay me! We picked about 8.25 lbs of the things, so some are already sitting in the freezer (we really need to get a bigger freezer!) and we're gobbling the rest. I also shared some with the neighbors. My youngest may wake up as a raspberry tomorrow as she's eaten so many today!

I don't know if it was just my luck or if this is typical of raspberry fields, but I was nearly eaten alive by biting flies and mosquitoes while picking. I've never had them like this when picking strawberries or blueberries, but maybe I've just been lucky. The bugs didn't seem to notice the girls, which is good, or the whole experience might have been less fun for all of us. Then again, I'm always a bugs favorite in any crowd, I'm special that way. I just dug into the bushes not willing to be deterred by the stings. The berries are worth it, all yummy and sweet and just perfectly ripened raspberries.

The girls got bored, bless the little dears, and so we were only out about an hour. Still, it is a good thing I didn't press them to stay longer. I have no idea what I'd do with more berries! We got free shortbread at the checkout stand, which is a nice bonus, and I've got some lovely chocolate ice cream just calling out for a nice sidecar of berries later on. You know, after the kids are in bed and can't see me get all swoony over the double dose of yummy goodness. LOL

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Done with boring

Okay, so the quilt square is done! I finished it yesterday afternoon and danced a happy little jig around the room, much to my children's psychological distress. The photo looks a bit pink, but I set this on top of a pink surface and it kind of bled through the fabric a bit. Trust me, the fabric is white, the stitching is in dark blue, deep cranberry and a pale pink.

As I said before, this should be the last quilt square for a while, so I can now return to knitting. And getting that yarn finished (set) from the Tour de Fleece. I don't have photos of that up yet, as I was waiting to take them when I had all the fiber washed and hanging to dry. It is raining out today, so it didn't seem like the best day for washing fiber.

Still, with luck, I'll be able to pick up one of my languishing knit projects sometime today. If I ever stop playing on the computer!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Quilt square of boring

This quilt square is really driving me nuts and I just want it done. The pattern I have has some errors, so I'm trying to correct them as I go (which means: I rip out the stitches after I've finished that part of the pattern only to find there are missing stitches in the pattern). I'm having so much fun! I think I'm really just done on the patterns this year. This is like the 4th square (or more?) and since the patterns all come from the same book, they are very similar and I am BORED. And no, the chart errors do not add the correct level, or type, of excitement to the project.

I'm about 60% done, so that is the only bright spot right now. Well, and the colors are ones that I actually like and that helps too. Mind you, I'm very happy to be contributing to such a special gift, I'm just bored of the work. Fortunately, we don't have any more weddings scheduled until next year, so there'll be a break.

I'm been very happy to break things up with the spinning for the Tour de Fleece 2008. I finished all the fiber I had hoped to finish, the Ruby Merino, last night. I'm plying the last bit of it today as my Victory Lap. I'm very pleased with what I accomplished both in the quantity completed and in the improvement in the overall quality of my spinning. I hope I will make sure I spin a bit every week in the future, though that might mean shopping to enhance the stash at some point.

Oh, darn! grin

The oldest DD is feeling a bit under the weather, so there should be plenty of time spent at home to finish the square and get back to the other projects! You know, until I get whatever it is she has.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Stitching backwards

I still don't know how I managed it, but yesterday I spent a fair bit of time on the new quilt square project. In reviewing about two hours worth of stitching, I found that there are two small sections where for no apparent reason I decided to cross the stitch the wrong way. I don't know if I shifted the fabric while I was stitching or if I just temporarily lost my mind. (I like to pretend it is temporary.) So, today I will be ripping out those stitches and then trying to get more of the square done.

Yesterday Himself picked up season one of Nero Wolfe on DVD. He got it at a used bookstore for about $20, so it was a great deal! Last night, we watched the first episode and I spent the entire time spinning. It was so much fun! I love this series, it is very well done, and my spinning went really well. If I can continue to balance the stitching and spinning, this will do much to soothe my tired brain.

I handed off the hats to the two boys yesterday, and they were both pleased. The youngest, who requested them in the first place, was so happy he wore it all day. It seems he'd been pestering my friend about whether or not I'd remember that I promised to knit him a hat. He was very worried that I'd forget. I was really happy I made the time, he was very happy when he saw the hat in my hand. That made the whole project worth every minute. Even so, I'll try not to volunteer for anything else in the near future. I'm really not enjoying deadlines right now. Must be SUMMER! LOL

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sad news

I thought since I had mentioned her on the blog the other day, I would share this news as well. My cousin Lindsey passed away early this morning. She was an amazing witness to all in her love for the Lord and for her family and friends. She will be deeply missed by all.

Fleece photo

Here's 5.245 oz of the Ruby Merino all plied up. I haven't checked the wpi, but it is at least a worsted, maybe a heavy worsted, which is pretty much the weight I was going for. I'm pleased. I love this color! This is a good thing since I have about 13 more cakes of this stuff to spin.

I was very confident that I would finish this fiber easily by the end of the Tour, but now I'm a little concerned. As with many new endeavors, it is easy to make time for the project in the beginning, but as time passes, it is more of a challenge to find the time every day. Still, that is sort of the point of one of my goals anyway, make time for spinning at least a couple of times per week. Otherwise, how will I ever get better, or, maybe more importantly, knit from any yarn that I've created? Anyway, I'm still excited by the spinning & I'm definitely making progress. If I start to lose enthusiasm, I'll try petting my fiber stash and see if that helps. LOL

Here's my other sudden project, two more Badger Hats. They were done in Bernat Alpaca (like the sweater I'm working on) and turned out very nice, though possibly a bit large. One is in a cream and black (sort of slate-ish) mix and the other is in a nice blue and brown mix. I'm happy they went so quickly and I hope the boys like them. Assuming they can find them when they need them again.

Short post today, but I'm trying to get back in this habit too!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lazy blogging

I find it hard to believe that so much time has passed since I last posted anything. What a slacker! At least I can blame it on being Summer, even if that isn't necessarily the cause. LOL I'm afraid the past weeks have been very, very busy with good and bad things.

July 1 I had to have our sweet kitty put to sleep. He had kidney disease, and although we tried a number of different treatments, he just didn't improve and continued to deteriorate. He went from being a very thin 12-lb kitty to being about 5.5 lbs at the end. It was time. I am at peace with that, but it was very, very hard. I not only had to be the one to do it, I was also the one who had to tell the kids - who were devastated. That's both of my cats gone in 7 months, both unexpectedly. I'm feeling naked without my cats.

Himself seems to think this is an opportunity to be an animal-free household, he's convinced that the litter box creates dust that is deadly to his electronics. I say, he never bothers to dust - EVER - so how can he blame all the dust on the cat litter? I also say, we will have cats again and I really hope it doesn't cause an argument. The kids and I need animals to be happy, and the hamster just doesn't cut it for me. We'll see how this turns out.

The other bad news isn't really mine, but a dear cousin's news. She successfully battled cancer about 10 years ago, when she was 18. She had no symptoms prior to a collapse, but once she was in the hospital and the doctors found her cancer, they literally gave her days to live. With a great deal of prayer and chemo, she survived the cancer. Sort of. It seems that the treatments badly damaged her heart and lungs. She has been undergoing evaluation for the past few months in preparation for lung and heart transplants. However, this past week, the trip to the hospital (from OK to Cleveland) wiped her out and the doctors feel that there is nothing more that can be done for her. They expect that she has about 3 weeks left in her earthly life.

She is a beautiful young woman, a teacher, and has decided to leave the hospital and return to her home and hospice. Prayers are appreciated for her and her family, and I know many more than I can imagine are being offered in her behalf.

So perhaps you can see why I've stayed away from the blog. Too much sadness and I can't help but mention it here. Still, thanks for your patience. I will now try to turn it around a bit.

I am spinning away in the Tour de Fleece. I did miss about three days, but I also spun a bit on the day of rest, so I'm only down two days. Right? My goals are to get into the habit of spinning on a regular basis and to get that ruby Merino spun up so I can knit with it. This yarn is supposed to be for a bag for my other grandmother (not the one who's is receiving shawls). I'm making good progress and I've probably got just a little over 4oz left of the fiber to spin. I've got more fiber to play with if I finish this stuff, and if I can get some spinning in every day for the rest of the tour, I should get to try out new stuff.

I have made no progress on the Pi. I'm afraid it is knit five rounds, rip three around here. I think I've got it in hand, again, but then I started spinning and just haven't spent any more time on it.

I have made progress on the sweater for Himself. Sort of. I was nearly three repeats into the cable pattern when I figured out I was making an error. You see, I photocopied the chart from the book and made sure it was all there. What I didn't do was make sure all the shadings transferred. (You see where I'm going with this?) Anyway, it turns out that there are parts of the chart that are shaded, so the cables are slightly different. You'd think I might have noticed something since it seems to be impossible for me to remember front, back, knit, or purl without looking at the key every time I do a cable. Hmmm. The key had four different cable symbols. Why? I apparently didn't care, until I was three repeats into the darned thing. After comparing the photocopy to the book, I could see that the shading did not copy, so all the cable symbols looked the same. I've penciled in some shading now and I've ripped, because it will bother me, and I'm now one repeat into the pattern. It might just be wishful thinking, but I think the cables are looking better and more defined than they were before.

Tuesday I spent a few hours teaching a 12 year old boy to knit. He has no patience, but surprisingly I did. He is well on his way to a scarf (his choice, for a friend girl - not a girlfriend, nudge, nudge) though he believes that he will never need to learn to purl. heh. He did ask me to make him a hat, which I did yesterday. I'm thinking I'll do one for his brother too. So that is my project for today, and maybe tomorrow. We'll see how the time works out.

There's also another quilt square for a wedding quilt. What is with all the weddings?! I think this is the last one (no other weddings scheduled until next year), which is good. I'll get pictures up soon. I hope.

Friday, June 27, 2008

1 shawl competed

In time to ship for my grandmother's birthday. This is the Eros shawl, and it turned out rather well. I think it is perfect for her at this time of year: H-O-T. It is a pretty thing that may cut the chill a bit in air-conditioned spaces, but probably isn't any warmer than that.

I'm still working on the Pi Shawl, but honestly, I just haven't had much time for knitting lately. Now that the girls are out of school, I've discovered the small amount of progress I'd made towards having a schedule is all shot. I'm pretty much just starting from scratch. Again.

My oldest is surprisingly attached to the idea that I will be "homeschooling" them this summer. I don't know where the idea came from, but she really seems to want that to happen. We'll see if that holds up to actual practice. We've talked a bit about all the kinds of things she wants to do, but I think it is too much to realistically take on. I could be wrong, but I just think they need a lot more time to do nothing. You know, it is summer vacation.

So, we're planning trips to the library, and lots of reading at home, some crafts, and we'll see what we can work out for "field trips". I think I will work in a good deal of reading on history, possibly biographies, and mythology. The oldest will be working on an online math program they were using at school. She seems to be struggling with math, which concerns me a great deal. I don't want her to get behind this early in the game (will be in 3rd grade) because math skill build on the previous skills and it is so easy to get behind and never catch up. Of course, I personally feel that what they call 'math' in our schools (in WA, I have no idea what other states are doing) is complete and utter rubbish. It is confusing, assignments are very poorly written and the concepts seem to be too complex for the younger grades (I'm talking developmentally too advanced for the children.)

Sorry, I had one foot on the soapbox and the other was coming up to join it. LOL Still, My only real goal this summer was to get us all through it in one piece, with some growth in math skills and time for reading together. All the rest is icing on the cake for me (and the girls).

What was I talking about? Oh yes, the Pi Shawl. I'm up to the second lace pattern and 288 sts. Each round takes 30 minutes (give or take a few). I was falsely confident because by the end of the first lace pattern I could even watch simple (non-action) TV or sit in the room with the kids and their TV shows (or HGTV or Food Network) and knit without error. Well, lace pattern 2 has 24 st repeats, instead of the 12 st repeats on the first pattern. My brain has not yet adjusted to that change, so I'm back to the near-total isolation knitting that I started out with. Hopefully, I'll improve again, but I think once I get through this lace pattern, and double the number of stitches on the needles, it is back to repeats of the first lace pattern again. Sigh. I think I'll need more stitch markers.

I'm still enjoying the knitting, I just wish it was a more sociable project. I am planning to establish some "mom time" next week, just to make sure I get time everyday to knit, read or spin (or watch a movie or something). I think that is a reasonable thing to go for. It won't happen every day, but if I can make it work a few days out of the week, we'll all be much more at peace around here. LOL

I've also got the sweater for Himself to break up the intensity of the shawl. I'm trying to decide if I will allow myself to CO anything else. I'm trying to turn my brain back towards some spinning, too. My ambition has no limits! hee! I'm sure I'll get it all sorted, just in time for September!

Both girls modeled the shawl, so here's the back of it on my youngest's, erm, back.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Quilt square - done!

Well, it took a little longer than expected, but I finally finished the quilt square. Aaaaand, I'm two weeks ahead of the due date! Yay me!

There are light green flowers on a dark green plant with a very rich, dark brown soil. It would have been nice to have a different color to choose from for the flowers, but I was limited to 4 shades of green, tan and dark brown. I often choose to do a single color for these designs, and they look very nice. Lately I find that I get bored if I don't change up the color, so then I'm left trying to decide which green makes the best flower. LOL

The camera really glared on the white fabric, and I spent a fair bit of time trying to make it easier to see. Sadly, I could fix the white, but then I lost the colors, so here it is. It was a simple and small project. I really enjoyed stitching, but I was anxious to get back to the lace project and the rest of my knitting.

It didn't take any longer to stitch than I thought, I just had a hard time working it into my schedule. I got caught up in cleaning my laundry room. It is down in the lower part of the house (we have a split level), which is the part of the house rarely used, really. The cat box is in there, so the dust levels can get really high. It has a half bath (toilet & small sink) which never get used, along with a couple of bookshelves for my TBR books (To Be Read). Normally, I walk in, grab a book and leave. Or maybe, walk in put in / take out laundry, and leave. You get the picture.

Anyway, it is reorganized and sparkling clean from top to bottom. I could actually go in there and hang out if I wanted! (But maybe not with the cat box.) It was the last room in the house that needed a cleansing and reorganization, and now it is done. sigh Perhaps now I can actually feel less guilty when I sit down and knit, or maybe even spin.

Imagine that!

De-cluttering will probably be a life-long pursuit, but I am making a little headway. Sadly, I've run out of space to put the stuff that is going away. The stuff for a garage sale is all mixed up with the stuff that must go to the dump (due to space for storing it), so I need to wait before doing any more on that front. Darn. heh, heh, heh. Looks like it is back to knitting for me.

A friend on Ravelry got a new wheel, a Babe, and is very excited about spinning. I must say she boldly goes where no, well okay, other spinners have gone, but for a newbie, I'm just impressed with her willingness to try everything she can. She's getting me all excited to pull out the wheel and get going again. It has been too long! I expect to give in soon, but I'm trying not to plan too hard lest I be disappointed in how things really go.

In the meantime, I'm excited to be done with the quilt square and ready to get back to both shawls and maybe even the sweater. I've got a friend coming by today for a little knitting and tea, so that will be lovely. I think it is supposed to be a whopping 61 degrees (F) today. Wow, compared to the rest of the week, this is a heat wave! I'm really sorry for the rest of the folks out there who are having a real heat wave. If we could manage a heat exchange of 10-20 degrees, I'd be for it. Wouldn't it be nice?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What were we talkin' 'bout?

Oh yeah, goals. Smoals. Right.

Well, on the positive side of things, I'm posting more often. On the less positive side (but I'm not calling it negative), I didn't finish the square. Life is all about surprises.

Instead of stitching like I had planned, I spent way too much time on the computer. When I got off to fix dinner, the youngest DD had a small fever (really low). This makes the youngest DD a bit of a looney. More than usual, I mean. I also had a water fitness class last night. So, the kids get fed and bathed and I notice that it is 10 minutes until 8 and Himself hasn't made it home yet. Hmmm. I give him a call and he's totally forgotten my class and he's still working.


He made it home before the class started, but really too late to make the trip over for the class. If that makes sense. So I remind him that today I have a parish council meeting and he starts making faces. Thinking is painful, or so it seems. Turns out he's in a crunch sort of time, so I canceled on the meeting today. Pfffffffft. Again.

That doesn't explain the lack of stitching though, does it? No. I just got caught up in weird little projects around the house. I'm still trying to get some kind of routine going, with very little success so far. I'm not giving up, I'm just really struggling to stay caught up with the things I have gotten in order around here.

When we cleaned out one bedroom, we turned it from a work studio for Himself, to a Library for the girls (and my sewing machine). We wanted to make it a cozy room for them, so I decided to order them bean bag chairs (I can't find any locally!). The company said they'd email me when they shipped. Well, they arrived today & there was no email!

I'm glad to have the chairs, but I was counting on a heads-up. So today, instead of stitching, I was trying to clean out the room some more. There were odds and ends still floating around in there that needed a new home. That bled over into my room & some dusting. Sigh.

I think I'll have some time to work on the quilt square this evening. But first dinner - a Guinness Pot Roast. Yumm! My reward, along with the leftover Guinness.

Eventually I'll get the whole house in order. Right? Please lie to me if you have to.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Goals, smoals!

Okay, okay. I know, why set goals if you aren't even going to try? Right? Well, I found out that there was another wedding quilt square that needed to be finished by June 22. That has to take precedence over the Pi Shawl right now. I started this on Friday, and worked on it a little over the weekend. I should finish it up today, barring incident, and then be ready to get back to the shawl tomorrow.

I hope.

This block is smaller, and the design is simpler than for some other quilts in the past. I'm not sure why they went smaller this time, but perhaps the bride made a request for one reason or another. The colors are green and brown, but a nice range of both, so it is a nice one to do. I just get so bored with the ones that have colors that are too similar, you know?

My dryer is sounding a bit wonky (squeaky) and I thought I smelled a bit of a burned rubbery smell yesterday. I could be imagining that bit, Himself has let the kids try out the fog machine in the past week, so I might have just been smelling residual stuff from that. But I think that is stretching it a bit. At any rate, we haven't had the dryer for 8 years, so I figure a bit of maintenance might be in order. Just to be safe. So, at least one day will be spent cleaning up my laundry room so the technician can get in and work comfortably. sigh It has been on my list, but I am really not motivated. Well, I wasn't motivated until I scheduled the appointment. Now I think I can get to it. LOL

I saw an allergist last week for my crazy allergies. He got rave reviews from my regular doctor's office staff, but I have to say, I wasn't impressed. Why do they always focus on pets? I mean really. I had much more severe reactions to all manner of other things, but the only thing he wanted to talk about was my cat. In fact, the area around the Dust Mites swelled up to the diameter of a lime by the end of the day. Saturday it still itched, and then it suddenly stopped. Then my eyes started itching and then they swelled up again. Seriously, all within an hour. I have no idea if this is all related, but the swelling of my face/eyes is why I went to a specialist in the first place. Very frustrating. I need to call his office and report the problem, but I don't want to hear anything else about my cat.

Not off to a good start, am I?

He did say that he didn't think I needed shots, which is good. I don't want them, I just want to stop itching all the time. Perhaps he focused on my cat because he knows I can't do anything about being exposed to dust, pollen, cedar, ragweed, etc. (That is my charitable explanation. I hope he appreciates the effort.) My cat is not making me itch.

The swelling is down today, thank goodness, but I looked horrible Saturday evening and Sunday. This 'event' was much better than the previous one, maybe because of the meds. I take a Claritin and Flonase (a nasal spray) in the morning, and a Zrytec and Flonase in the evening. If I wasn't really miserable, I would rebel. But I'm desperate. I think it is helping, but I'd like more time to be sure.

The cat, poor baby, is not doing as well after his vet visit. The last visit I thought we had reached the end. The doctor gave him B12 & fluids & something for vomiting, and he was bouncy and eating and really alert and perky (and not sick). This time the doctor repeated the treatment, but it did not have the same effect. He isn't eating well, and the vomiting seems to be returning already. I think this is going to be a rough week unless he suddenly perks up. I don't want to push him, and this wait and see thing is really draining for me too. I'm not ready to let him go, but this isn't about me. I've been taking pictures of him with the girls, so I hope that will help them when he is gone.

Ah. Sorry, so depressing. I'll go out with a shot of my Pi Shawl. I managed to get the increases to 288 sts done, and the first four rows that are just knit. I've got all the markers in place now, so I'm ready to start the lace pattern again.

I'm hoping that my "lucky streak" will hold out. I need serious quiet time to work on this thing now, and the rows take about 25-30 minutes to complete. I'm counting nearly every block of 12 stitches, so that really slooooooows things down. But I figure it saves time if it keeps me from missing/dropping stitches. If I have to rip it back, it will take a lot longer than doing it right the first time. Right?

My next lace project is going to be on fingering weight! That will be so much easier! Of course, by the time I finish this shawl, I might have gotten used to using lace weight. We'll see, I guess. I had totally spaced that my grandmother had a birthday this month. There's no way this will be done in time. I won't even stress about that deadline! However, since I can't work on this all the time (kids are way too distracting!) I decided that I will do another shawl out of the Eros yarn for her for her birthday. The Eros will also be in a red sort of color. I've had a hard time finding red, for goodness sakes! This one is a rosey red with some darkish green and black. (At least that is what it looks like in my living room.)

An added bonus is that the Pi Shawl will come as a total surprise to her since she won't be expecting two. I've started the Eros shawl, but I'm not very far yet. They are fast, but I really struggle with knitting into the back of a stitch. I think I can knit 3-4 sts in the time it takes me to knit into the back once. Plus, that ladder yarn can be tough to pick up correctly (and not through the middle of the ladder!). Still, it is a mind-numbingly simple thing to work on and I'm enjoying having it around to balance the Pi.

I haven't made much more progress on the sweater, though I do need to get a picture up. I think I'll be shawling until I finish the Eros, then back to the sweater for my easier knit piece.

Ah well, back to work! I really want to get this cross-stitch piece done. Just some flowers to go and it is finished.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Still ignoring the socks

But I have a good excuse. I've been working on cleaning up different areas of the house. I moved about half the house around over the past month, but things are settling down again. This is what I did in my living room. I moved out the partial pile o' stash and the sewing machine & video cabinets and put in the Yarn Corner, or whatever it will be called. All my stash is in one room, all my fiber (much less than I thought), needles and so forth. The books are in a different room, but they are finally all on shelves together with all the patterns I seem to NEED to print out from the computer. I didn't take a picture of that room. The Library has the girl's books & videos & computer, my sewing machine, etc. & the knitting & other craft books. I'm going to put some bean bag chairs in there for the girls to use for reading, and that room will be finished. There's a whole 'nuther room full of my books, but let's not talk about that right now. LOL

I've also already found a new home for the fiber I didn't keep. Wow. That sounds so sad, doesn't it?

The Pi Shawl is progressing and I have not yet chewed off my own arm/leg or anything else. I finally, finally was reminded to use a lifeline. Man! I've used them before, I have no idea why I blocked it out on this project (possibly because I needed it so badly?). That made all the difference, or so it seems. Now that I have at least one going in the project, I haven't needed to rip back. Yet. I'm sure it'll happen again. Still, I've made it just past the increase to 288 sts & I'm about to start the repeat of the first 10 rows on Lace Pattern I. I've been considering this project and I don't think I'll knit the full thing. The reason is that my grandmother is a very petite 5'2", and this shawl is theoretically around 72" when completed. I don't need to wrap her up like a burrito, so I think I may pass on the repeats of the lace pattern following the increase to 576 sts. I will probably do one of them and then do a border of some kind.

I've set myself a crazy goal of a minimum of 5 rows per day, with a hopeful goal of 10 rows per day. 10 a day didn't seem too hard when it was at 144 sts, but since the increase, I'm not sure 10 rows is going to work out on a daily thing. I'm hoping I can manage the 5 & maybe a little over each day. I decided to try this "goal setting" thing the other night when I couldn't get to sleep. It seemed like a good idea at the time, because it would make the project move along at a reasonable pace (i.e., I might actually finish the shawl in a month or two) and then I can move on to more substantial yarn weights. sigh

I will do other shawls, I have to, I have the yarn. I just have a much better idea what I'll be setting myself up for, and I'll be sure to have some easy projects on the needles as well.

I cast on the sweater for Himself. A cabled sweater as my "easy project". Yep. Desperation is an interesting companion. The Bernat Natural Alpaca is a nice, soft yarn. My only complaint is that it sheds like mad. I've taken to knitting with a towel in my lap to catch all the shed fibers. Still, I've got about 4 inches of the back knit up, and I like the pattern. And the yarn, even though it sheds.

I also tried knitting up a baby hat from Itty Bitty Hats, but I made really dumb errors and ended up tossing the hat in the recycle bin. (cotton) It was fun and easy, but I mis-measured bits of it, so it was unwearable. I could have re-knit the sections that were off, but I probably could have re-knit the entire hat in less time than it would take to find the woven ends and rip it back, etc. Oh well, it was a nice distraction anyway. I refuse to be bitter.

I've also been kept too busy with a sick kitty. It seems our remaining kitty cat (my other baby passed away right before Christmas), has kidney disease. Going by the bloodwork, he should be doing better than he is (at his levels, etc.). But every critter is different, and he is not doing as well as he could be. We've done subcutaneous fluids, meds for his ulcer and so forth. He won't keep the meds down, so they're no good, and he's developing sever anxieties regarding trips to the vet for the fluids. I don't think he'd tolerate them much better at home. He went on a food strike last week, and I thought we had reached the end, but he rallied in time for the youngest monkey's birthday (6!) and was almost like his old self for a few days.

Sadly, he seems to be going back down now. As long as we can get him to eat he'll be "okay". But if he goes on another hunger strike, I think it will be Time. I'm not sure I'm up for that. Not that I'll have a real choice in the matter. I'm so sad. He's such a loving little guy, and my youngest will be devastated when he's gone. Part of being a responsible pet owner though, right? sigh

Lace is good for getting my mind off of things like this too. Let's hear it for lace!~

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Brains, braaaaaaainsssss

Okay, not really a total zombie, but I've got two projects on the needles that require my brains, that means no distractions, in order for them to proceed without... incident. Oh yes, incident.

The first project is the Bellatrix socks I cast on last month.

I took these socks to our Pascha feast (Eastern Orthodox Easter) and tried to knit them there. 1) I was also carrying on at least two conversations at the same time, broken up by one child or another stopping by to ask questions. 2) Beer. I had three. Not a crazy amount, but, well, there were still three.

I came home and tinked back 2/3 of the rows I knit while I was there. Mind you, it took me a week to tink back to a spot where I could move forward again. (I just kept putting it off.) Now I'm just a bit past the point where I found the errors, so I've technically made some progress.

I really do love these socks. The pattern is a delight (Monkey Toes pattern) and the yarn is wonderful (Scout's Swag Superwash Merino/Tencel in Death Eaters). Even with the tinking I've done, I am really enjoying these socks. However, I decided this pattern requires a bit more thought than my previous socks. That's fine, I can do it. I just had to learn that I needed to give this project more attention, that's all. No action movies, no conversations with people that involve more than a 'yes' or 'no' answer on my part, and absolutely no adult beverages.

No worries.

So I thought I could use another project, to fill up the time when I couldn't do the socks. So what'd I pick? EZ's Pi Shawl. (And no, I wasn't at the beer again when I made this decision!) I've been wanting to do this pattern since Kelly started talking about it on the Knit Picks podcast. It sounded like a simple project to try out lace. Big, sure, but not too tricky. Uh-huh. So it only took me 6 tries or so to get the darned thing cast on. I knit up to 144 stitches only to find I had 142. I tried counting at various spots to see if I could figure out where I lost stitches. I didn't seem to have dropped any stitches, so did I forget a couple of yarn overs? I have no idea! (although the lost yarn overs seems most likely, either that or accidental K2tog somewhere). So I tried ripping back to the spot where I last had the correct number of stitches. In. lace. weight. Yep.

So it only took me two tries to get the thing cast on the second time, much better. Oh, but then the yarn broke off at 36 stitches. That annoyed me, so I started over again. I got the thing cast on correctly in one go this time! Go me! I'm nearly back to the 144 stitches again, and this is how it is looking right now.

I'm knitting this in Cashwool by Baruffa in a bright red. Why would I do this to myself, you might well ask? Well, my grandmother (dad's mom) was in the hospital for a little over three weeks. When she got home she kept talking about how chilly it was for her all the time she was in hospital. I had knit up a washcloth for her in red and white, and she commented how much she'd like to have something "to go around her shoulders in a bright red". Well? What could I do? She gave me the perfect opening to try the Pi Shawl, the yarn was a decent price and the perfect color. I think I might find it less, um, challenging, if it were in a heavier weight yarn, but I didn't have anything red except the cotton yarn, and that wouldn't work. So while I was open to a fingering weight yarn, I didn't find anything that was cost-effective and the right color in a decent quantity for this project.

So, humor me here, I'm sure once I get used to using the laceweight yarn this project will go a bit smoother for me. I'm getting in a minimum of about 30 minutes of knitting a day, right before bed. I'm trying to trade back and forth between the socks and the shawl, so I'm making a bit of progress on both. However, I feel that I'm going to need a brainless project soon. One that I can do while talking or watching something exciting from time to time. We'll see how that works out. The important thing is that I'm learning a whole bunch of new knitting things these days. If I survive the experience, I'll be an even better knitter. (Go on, humor me some more...)

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

One of these days

I will get back into the swing of things. I'm sure of it, I'm just not setting a deadline. LOL

I am so stinking busy these days, I have no idea how I ever worked. Man! Therapy for the leg (now over) and hand (ends tomorrow) kept me running around, I gave up on typing with the cast, but of course that is now long gone as well. I've managed a little knitting, but not really in the past week and a half.

Okay, that's a bit of a stretch. This past Sunday was Pascha, the Orthodox Christian Easter, in a nutshell, and I did do a bit of knitting at our big feast Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately for me, I also had a little beer and way too much conversation going on at the same time. I am guilty of Knitting Under the Influence, and of being too distracted for what I was doing, so now I need to TINK back to the last know "good spot" and do it over. sigh

I should've known, right? I have cast on the Bellatrix socks and I'm using the Death Eater colorway from Scout's Swag (merino and tencel yarn). I LOVE the yarn and I LOVE the pattern. I've got two socks on two circs, so hopefully no more of the two-year sock syndrome. However, the pattern does seem to require some of my attention when I am dropping stitches, because whenever I think I've got it and let my attention wander, even just a little bit, I make a mistake. Since there are dropped stitches, and this is really my first pattern with dropped stitches, I can't see where the errors are and I have to rip back to the all knit row before I do the YOs that get dropped. Clear as mud? Yep. I thought so.

Even so, I am pleased to be working on the socks and I really do love the yarn and pattern. I only mind the TINKing because it is backwards progress on the socks. OTOH, my enthusiasm is pretty high for them right now, so maybe it won't take too long to get my brain in gear and get these socks done.

I'm finally getting a picture up of the BS Johnson hat. Since we've had such a peculiar spring here (with tons of snow!) I've had plenty opportunity to wear it. When I can get it away from my girls. I'm still very pleased with this hat. I'd like to do another one, but I think I will go down a needle size for the ribbing, it just seems too loose, but I like the gauge for the rest of the hat.

Well, I gotta hit the post office & grocery store before the youngest gets home from school. I'll try to post more often and get back up to speed. I'm really missing all my blog reading!