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!