Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Post-Christmas Stuff

Christmas is over for another year.  It's time to unwind and de-stress from all the self-imposed Christmas goals and deadlines.  I don't know why I put myself through it each year, trying to have a spotlessly clean house, the best homemade cookies - 12 different kinds - the perfect gifts, and all the social outings, and I don't think I'm going to do that to myself anymore.

I had planned to make up a bunch of neck warmers for my knitting group ladies, but I ran out of time, and so rather than add any more stress to my life, I gave them each a nice hank of Malibrigo, the very yarn I had intended to use for their neck warmers, instead.  (Heck, they're knitters, aren't they?  They can make their own stupid neck warmers!)  Actually, it was a bit of a bust - I really wish I had completed the projects and I feel bad that I didn't - but at least I got their colors right and they all said nice things about me. 

Looking at other blogs, I see a lot of folks posting their annual intentions/resolutions list ("I'm going to write the Great American Novel and then in my spare time away from my busy medical practice, I'm going to feed all the homeless orphans and build designer bird houses" or some such nonsense).  My  list is far more simple and is not in any particular order:

  • Attempt to learn to crochet.  (Got a project that incorporates crochet and I'm having a doozie of a time with it.)

  • Try to keep the house clean.  Well, cleaner anyway - at least keep the filth down a bit.  That may mean I don't have as much time to knit, but some sacrifices must be made on behalf of the local health code.

  • Knit down my stash.  Not ALL of it or anything that drastic, but I no longer have a place to store my pretties since my daughter moved back home and took back her room (which was my former stash location).  It really sucks, but at least now I've got a really good idea on what my inventory is.  I'm starting with my bulkier yarns and trying to use them up first and then work my way down to the skinnier yarns (they take up less room than the fat yarns).  I see lots of new sweaters in my future...

  • Attempt to get better at focusing on the current project at hand and not putting it down when it gets boring.  Yes, I am so totally guilty of that!  The lure of the new patterns and exciting yarns call to me, but I must be strong and finish what I start before moving on to the next project.  At least that's what I'm telling myself - I'll let you know if it works.

  • Most important, spend more time with my family, who absolutely mean the world to me.

May your New Year's Resolutions be simple.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

When the Bleeding has Stopped

I got a big jug of vinegar and have successfully stopped the bleeding on the red cabled cardigan.  I'm now waiting for it to finish drying so I can seam it up.  The process went something like this:

Daughter to my husband: "Uh, Pop - what's up with Mom?  There's this big pot on the stove and Mom just put her new sweater in it.   And the place smells."

Pop:  "Not sure, I think she said something about boiling her sweater.  I don't ask too many questions about what she's doing -  it's safer that way."

Daughter: "And the place smells like...pickles?  What is that smell?"

Pop: "It's vinegar."

Daughter: "What?"

Pop: "Yeah, she's boiling her sweater in vinegar."

Daughter: "Huh?  Why...(looking around)...uh, nevermind."

Pop: "Exactly."   

All goes to show you - they CAN be taught!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Found out yesterday that my daughter is moving home.  This week.   Like Thursday.  We knew she would be moving home sometime this month, but were not prepared for it being this quickly.

Her room had been converted over to a storage area/knitting/sewing room/guest room/cat sleeping area.  Don't care that much about upsetting the cats, but I have no place for my knitting stuff (left the sewing stuff in the closet - she doesn't really need a closet, does she?).

I now realize that I have a LOT more knitting stuff than I thought I had.  A lot more.  I have to go on a yarn diet until I have more space to store it.  That sucks.  But, I will take the opportunity (see how I can spin this into a positive thing?  Almost scary!) to go through my yarn and get rid of the stuff I don't really like.  If I'll never use it then why am I holding on to it?  Get rid of it and get something I like.

The other plus to this (besides my daughter coming home - yeah! I won't be the only female in the house anymore!) is that now I finally have all my knitting stuff in one room.  Can't get to it because of all the other junk, but I can almost see it... 

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Went to do a quick wash & block for the pieces to the cabled carti (finished them a couple of days ago) and lo and behold, the beautiful cranberry red that caught my eye in the store has bled all over! 

I washed again - same thing.  Wash water that looks like something out of a homicide scene.  So I got out the vinegar.

One vinegar soak down.  Then in the rinse the red kept coming out - I figured that I didn't use hot enough water. 

Went for soak #2.  Used the last of my vinegar.  Son of a.... still has red dye bleeding out.  I have NEVER had bleeding problems like this before!  Worse part is that I still have 6 skeins of this stuff left. 

Going to get a 5 gallon jug of vinegar tomorrow and look up some new swear words.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Hoodie Done

Update on Billy's hoodie: it's done. Just finished sewing on the buttons.  Here it is:

Likes: Pattern is fantastic (Knitting Pure and Simple pattern - #105, the Neckdown Hooded Pullover for Men) - as the norm for a KP&S pattern.  Knitted up quickly with size 9 needles. 

Dislikes: Used Cascade Greenland yarn - thought it would be sturdy enough for Billy to take this sweater camping & get fish guts all over it, etc., but it pilled up terribly after the first wash.  (The yarn got nice & soft, though.)  Boring color, but it's what he wanted.  I did suggest to my son that he get a couple of his friends to pick off the pills, picturing something similar to chimpanzees picking lice off each other, but the analogy missed him.  Oh, well - it's probably for the best.  He's messy enough as it is.

Would I do this pattern again?  Sure thing.  He's going to outgrow the sweater in a few months anyway, so I might just do it again for him next year, but with a different yarn.

Next on my dance card is finishing up my red cardigan,  the cabled cardigan #1791 from Plymouth Yarn Company.  I had finished the back & right front before I put it down (got bored with it).  Finished up the left front last night and decided to do the three needle bind off on the shoulders, even though I was so tired I could barely see.  The results: the seam on the wrong side and the front pieces attached to the back on the wrong sides.  I didn't realize this until I took a look at it this morning, either.  The moral of this story is not to knit when you're that tired. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Billy's hoodie progresses.  This is just a basic garment.  No fancy stitches or colorful yarn, just the way he wants it.  When do guys learn to like "guy" styles and colors?  This thing is light brown done in plain stockinette.  No variegation in color.  No texture other than the yarn,  BORING!

I will tell you, it's showing all the different tensions in my gauge.  Different times of days or places (I even took the project with me to the movies last week; glad I did, too -  the movie was terrible and it gave me something to do, although knitting in the dark was really different) make my tension uneven and it's showing.  Billy won't care, but it is interesting to notice.  Oh well, I try to learn something new with each project, so I guess this is it for this one.

Got the body of the sweater done and now have the sleeves and hoodie left.  I may run out of yarn, so I'm going to get the sleeves done next, so if I need to get more yarn the hood won't really matter.  This sweater will be taken camping, hiking, get fish guts on it, be covered in mud, and should be able to stand up on its own after it comes home, so it doesn't need to be fancy, just sturdy. 

Here's my challenge to you: try knitting something very simple (like stockinette) and see how your tension is at different times of the day, locations, stress levels, etc.  It's pretty interesting to notice.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Billy's Hoodie

I was out with my youngest son on Thursday - he'd outgrown all his sweaters and needed to pick up two for now.  He only found 1 that he liked and then turned to me and said: "Mom, I really like your sweaters - would you please make me one?"  Who could resist that?   Gotta love this kid!

So we picked out a Knitting Pure and Simple pattern - #105, the Neckdown Hooded Pullover for Men.  These patterns can be found in local yarn shops, but here is a link to the web site - http://www.knittingpureandsimple.com/Men.html.  The pattern I'm using is on the right side.

Once we picked out the pattern we ran over to Shelby's Place and my son picked out the yarn, a tan/brown color Greenland (I liked the russet color much better than the tan color my son picked out, but it's his sweater, so we went with the tan.  He does the typical guy thing with colors - brown, black, grey, dark blue or deep red. and PLAIN patterns only, please.). 

This yarn fits the gauge (4 stitches per inch using a size 9 needle) and is a true worsted yarn, 100% merino wool.  (to see the difference between a worsted and woollen yarn, please see http://missourifamilies.org/quick/materialqa/material26.htm).    This sweater will be used walking around school and will go camping/hiking/fishing with my son and receive all kinds of abuse, so the Greenland was a good choice.  It may be a bit scratchy at first, but will soften up with washing and will really hold up.  Billy is nothing if not tough on clothes.

Once again, may I rave about the Knitting Pure and Simple patterns?  (Sure I can - it's my blog, after all, lol.)  These patterns are so well written and easy to follow.  You can get creative and change things up if you'd like with a texture stitch pattern to the overall garment or just go as written - I think I'm going to add a big front pocket.  These patterns just make sense.  I also love the way she starts things: "cast on firmly" - too much fun.  

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Exercise in Futility

Ever hear that saying "It's an exercise in futility"?  That's when you do an action over and over again, expecting different results even though nothing in the situation has changed.   I call this playing electronic solitaire. 

For some reason I think I've gotten smarted since the last time I've played...then reality sets in, and after I've lost - AGAIN - I get all optimistic and think, "Well, maybe next time" and start the cycle all over again.  

At least I'm not playing for money.  

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Amy Singer in the House!

I took a modular lace class from Knitty.com's own Amy Singer this weekend.  Learned a LOT and now have some fantastic ideas for some projects!  (Like I need to have more projects to get all excited about.)   

I liked Amy - she's a self-described goof who likes both technology and knitting, which is right up my alley.  She's also a pretty good ukulele player and entertained us with some songs while we knitted along.  (Wonder if that could become a new craze - knitting along to live music?  Different styles/tempos for different types of knitting, knitting musicians at local hot spots all over the city - I can see it all now!)

The dust has settled down here at home (literally - see the previous blog entry for details) and life is good.  Hope you all had a good weekend!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Life Kicks You in the Rear End Sometimes

Life - or you could call it fate, karma, kismet, etc. - has a way of kicking you in the rear end at times.

Point in fact #1: My friend Stephanie had a cat who peed in her stash basket, I believe while she was gone for the weekend, so she got a wonderful surprise when she returned from her trip.

I laughed my butt off.

Point of fact #2: One (or maybe both) of my friend Christy's twin boys dumped an entire plate of spaghetti - noodles, sauce and meatball - into her knitting basket. He then closed the lid and said nothing, giving her a fun surprise the next time she reached in to pull out her project.

I really laughed my butt off.

Life kicking my rear end time: We had a leak in a bathroom shower, which we fortunately caught right away and were able to fix. It involved going into the pipes from the back of the wet wall, which happens to be the other side of a hallway - also fortunate, since we didn't need to replace any tile that way.

The pipes were replaced and the drywall patched up and things were starting to look back to normal except for the thick layer of drywall dust on every surface in the house. Drywall can be insidious stuff, but I have the power of cleaning in me (sometimes) and industriously wiped down surfaces and such, making everything pretty again.

That was Tuesday night.

I walked in from work Wednesday to see a thick white cloud of what seemed to be smoke, although nothing smelled like it was burning. (My boys were sitting all zombiefied playing video games - I think the house could really burn down around them as long as the power held out. But I digress.)

After frantically running in to the kitchen and determining that the cause of the clouds of white smoke was not really a fire, I had the boys help me open all the windows to vent the air. (November in Sacramento - I think it was close to 80 degrees that day so there was no loss of life or limb due to the extreme cold or anything. I know, all of you up in the Northern climes are thinking daggers at me right now - knitting for me is simply a hobby; for you Northerners, knitting is more of a life skill. But I digress again.)

I then heard a noise and after investigating, found my husband in the hallway with a belt sander and a big grin. He thought the drywall texture had gone up a bit thick and was sanding it down. Boys never do completely grow up, and he's just a big kid with power tools. (But it's OK - he puts up with my knitting, so we're even.) The problem was, now I had drywall dust in absolutely every nook and cranny of the house after working so hard to clean up the mess the night before.

Here's where it gets good (and somewhat gross): We inherited a geriatric cat from my mother when she went into the nursing home. I think this cat is about 20-25 years old. She occasionally gets the runs (the cat, not my Mom). This cat also likes to sit in my desk chair when I'm not home. (Anyone getting where this is going?)

Exacerbated by the mess, I went to my computer to relax for a few minutes before starting the clean up efforts again. I sat down in my desk chair and this foul, sickly, kitty-cat poo smell poofed up in a cloud of white (or maybe more brown-ish) drywall dust, spreading yet more crap - quite literally - into the room. I'm now typing from the comforts of a kitchen chair. My desk chair is out of the way, needing to be febreezed another 100 times or so and then shampooed. Repeatedly. Many times. (Lather, rinse, repeat, and repeat, and repeat...)

Steph, Christy - I really shouldn't have laughed at your pain, even though it was really funny. I'm sorry. I'll try not to do it again, but if I do - and I probably will - you can laugh your butts off at me.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Back Done

Got the back done on the new sweater. It's taking a bit longer than I'd like - had too many other things to do pop up, like work, family, etc. Y'know, I'd get sooo much more knitting done if I didn't have to do all that stuff. Oh, well - maybe I can convince my employer and family to let me knit instead of taking care of things. (Done laughing yet? I know - I'm funny.)

If the back piece is any indication, this pattern should come along nicely. The cable pattern repeat is easy - almost monotonous - but the shaping keeps things interesting. (Shaping with a bulky yarn - who knew?) This is going to a tighter fit that I was expecting. Yes, I DID measure myself and used the correct size, and yes, I DID do a gauge swatch. The pattern just has less ease than I'm used to in the fit. Worst case, I just mail the thing off to m'daughter, who likes such types of things.

It's always good to have a plan.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New Sewater

It's finally started to get cooler here - its' currently 53F and supposed to have a high of 58F. I ended the weight loss part of my diet a few days early because I came down with a cold, so the cooler temperatures combined with the weight loss part of my diet being over means it's now sweater knitting time!!! Who knew getting a cold would make me so happy?

I had a moratorium on knitting any sweaters until I'd stabilized in weight. I'm now down 46 pounds and will stay there for at least 6 months until I go for more loss, so it's time. Very few clothes fit now, and that's both good and bad. Good because I can get new stuff and bad because that costs money. But I'm in better health with fewer pounds (overall, cold not withstanding), so I think I can deal with it.

I picked up a sweater pattern a few months ago that I've been wanting to try - the cabled cardigan #1791 from Plymouth Yarn Company . I then found the yarn on sale AND had a coupon and got it for about $3.00 a skein. The pattern calls for bulky alpaca but I substituted Cascade 128 in a lovely cranberry color. I got the exact same gauge and the alpaca was about $14.00 a skein with less yardage. The determining factor was that I would have heat stroke wearing a bulky alpaca sweater (alpaca is SOOOOO much warmer than wool), so even if the softness and drape is not as nice, I had to go with the Cascade.

I generally don't like working with bulky yarn, but I really liked this pattern. The carti should work as kind of a light jacket for this area of the country. It's a bit too warm for indoors but should be nice for going from the car to somewhere. Got about 8 inches done on the back yesterday. Size 10.5 needles makes the work go fast!

Also on the needles is an EZ Ribwarmer Vest using all my bit & pieces left-over Encore yarn. A friend from work and I are doing a KAL with this - I can't wait to see what she's done with hers!

So, cold or no cold, life is good. I'm working on a nice, meaty sweater and a vest, my radio station is playing good music again with little talking, and the weather is getting cooler. Hope you all have good knitting, too!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Radio Rant

My radio station - well, not mine, but the one I like to listen to night - has been doing their Fall Donation Campaign, which is where they continuously beg for money instead of playing music.

Now I'm all for public radio and television, but when they start the begging I change the station. I do not donate to them - I did that once and they sold my name to EVERYONE and then upped their begging levels towards me ("Hey, she donated once - that means she's good for more!"). I will not do that again.

If they didn't call me or write or sell my information to anyone and everyone I would probably continue to donate. I like the programs. But I HATE the begging. Get some dignity, please.

End of rant. Got to go change the station now...

Monday, October 11, 2010

What to Do Next?

I've done hats, scarves, and socks so very many times these past few months. I'm tired of them. Don't want to do them anymore. I WANT TO MAKE A SWEATER!!! Or a shrug, or a vest - something meaty and with nice, chunky or worsted weight yarn. The answer is no, of course. Not yet. And throwing a temper tantrum doesn't help. :)

The weight-loss part of the diet ends October 27 (and then it's just maintenance for 6 weeks). After October 27, THEN I can start a sweater. Not before. Almost there.

So what do I make in the meantime? Just not another hat or scarf or socks...

Saturday, October 9, 2010


The first time I made a hat it was supposed to be a beret. After working very hard to get it done, I looked at it and just didn't see the beret shape. So I put the hat on, thinking that maybe it looks different on the head. It didn't and I was very disappointed. What I didn't know is that you get that shape by blocking the item.

What a difference blocking makes! Here's before and after blocking pictures of the same hat.

I blocked the hat by getting it wet (although I washed it to get all the dirt and any extra dye out) and put it on a dinner plate to dry overnight. Not that much effort, but what a difference!

The hat was made with Cascade 220 Superwash, pattern is from the new Knitty issue (Deep Fall 2010), Brambles.

Blocking really shows your work. And gives a hat that jaunty look that puts a spring in your step!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Almost Went to Lambtown

Almost went to Lambtown today, but changed my mind at the last minute to stay home and paint my son's new room. (Big brother moved out & the oldest remaining child at home gets the big room. It's his turn now.) I'm glad I stayed home - I wouldn't have been able to do this if I'd have gone. It's a shame, but I'll go next year for sure.

So I've painted. And moved out furniture & stuff, prepped & taped, and washed down shelves. New electrical outlets have been installed along with a new light switch (been wanting to do that for a while now. Old house.). Still need to do the trim on one side and we're putting up a photo wall mural on the last wall, but that's for tomorrow. If I can move, that is. Right now I'm too tired to even knit.

A few years ago I would have been able to get this done during the week after work and still been able to bounce up and move the next day without a second thought. Funny how that changes as you get older. I'll probably be in bed by 8:00 tonight. It sucks getting old.

Party on. I'll join you in my dreams.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Starting to get used to the bi-focals - they're not giving me as bad a headache anymore. Guess I'm getting used to them.

(They still look funny though.)

I broke down and got a new camera. It's a Kodak 12-Magapixel Easy Share M530. I took a picture of the cat and all his little fluffy hairs are defined. (LOVE the pixel rate!) The problem is that the camera wants to automatically install the picture to the web (like Facebook, etc.) and I am WAY too much of a control freak to allow that.

I choose what gets posted and what does not. I'm very careful of what I post - first, I want to protect my privacy as well as my family's and friend's (my daughter on the other hand, will post EVERYTHING, even when I've asked her not to post pictures of me); secondly, not all shots are good. Most of my pictures are OK, some are outright bad. Why post anything other that good pictures?

Anyway, I will soon be putting up pictures of projects again - something I've missed being able to do. So as a teaser, here's the cat. If you double-click the picture you will see all his fluffiness.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Seeing Things

Well, I did it.

I've finally given in to the bi-focal glasses. I did it because of my knitting - I was having a really hard time knitting and watching TV at the same time - couldn't see the TV without my glasses on and couldn't see my knitting with them on. What's a poor girl to do?

Get bi-focals, of course.

The optometrist offered to get me bi-focals last time I was in, but I just waved the suggestion off because I didn't need them and only OLD people have them. Oh, little did I know what was in store for me. Mother Nature & Father Time sure have a way of turning things around on you, don't they?

Now I've got the new glasses and I haven't quite gotten used to them yet. I need to actually wear them but they give me a headache, so I don't like to. That little line makes everything blurry. Steps appear out of nowhere. But I can now knit while watching the TV, so my objective has been met.

I still don't like it, though.

(Oh, I'm gonna be such a pain at the nursing home...)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Squishy Stuff

While riding in the car this afternoon, my husband turned to me and asked, "So, how many projects do you have going right now?"

Me: "A couple. Well, actually, since I finished those last 2 pairs of socks I've only got 1 thing going right now."

Hubby: "Why don't you go get some more yarn?"

Me: "Huh?!" (Almost crashed into the car in front of us.)

Hubby: "Yup, (ignoring the fact that we can now read the small print on the tail lights of the Honda in front of us) - you've got some gift certificates that need using, don't you?"

Me: "Who are you and what have you done to my husband? I'm starting to have a storage problem, remember?"

Hubby: "Cut it out. (Loud snort from my direction) I'm serious. It squishes, right?"

Me: "What squishes?"

Hubby: "Yarn. You could squish it all up to store it."

Me: "Huh?"

Hubby: "In those plastic bags that use the vacuum to seal it up. You could store yarn in those."

Me: "So I can get more yarn as long as I can squish it up in a bag that sucks?"

Yup, it's official. :)

Monday, September 6, 2010

I Love Socks

I've decided that I love knitting socks. Just about done (just have the toes remaining) on the Belle Epoque socks. I've tried them on and so far they feel really nice. Pretty, too.

I'm bouncing around on another pair of socks, the toe-up basic sock by WendyKnits. You know, I didn't think I'd like - or even be able to work with - the size zeo's. As it turns out, I'm not only able to work with them without my hands cramping up, but I am enjoying them. Maybe it's the brand of needles - got the Addi Turbo Lace for the zero's - and they feel good. Making good progress, too - just up to where I start the gusset. They make a nice tight weave on the material.

That shrug I started still looks like something the cat threw up, so I'm going to unravel it and put the yarn in stash for future use. That pattern just did not work out for me. Well, not everything is going to be a winner the first time around.

Picked up some more sock yarn - going to make a new pair of Tabi socks since the ones I made for myself are a bit too big. Want to make a slightly smaller pair that fit snugger. I'll send the first set out to my daughter, so they won't go to waste (she wears a size larger shoe than me). They're funky, so she should like them, even though they are white and not her usual lime-green.

Knit on, folks!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Ode to Socks and Summer

I'm really getting into socks. Still working on the size 0 (that's ZERO) needles and am actually having a good time with 'em. Took them with me to my son's Back to School Night and knitted during the whole thing. That's the fun part about being a parent - you can get away with stuff like that at school.

There's a new group in Ravelry, Frankensocks, that I just joined. The group is taking all the bits and pieces of left-over sock yarns that you have hanging around and putting them together in some kind of a sock. All while reading Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, which I have to say I've never opened. Book club & KAL starts in October. Sound scary yet?

I can't believe that August is gone - it feels like the Summer never really got going this year and now it's gone. September is when the playtime of Summer turns to the responsibility of Autumn. It's when the oppressive heat eases up with a sigh of relief. The last of Summer produce but the start of apples. Halloween. The crispness of November air. Fire going in the wood stove. Steamy hot chocolate on a cold afternoon.

Almost sweater-making time...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Socks Good!

Since I put down the illegal shrug, I've started a pair of socks (basic pattern #3 from WendyKnit's book, 'Socks from the Toe Up'). I thought I'd have a hard time of it with the size 0 needles, especially since I was working on these while traveling (plane ride then really long car ride), but I didn't!

The needles have a great deal to do with the ease I've had, I think - two 16" Addi Turbo Lace needles, size 0. They're sharp and metal (and rather lethal looking - I'm surprised I was able to take them on the airplane), so things have been whizzing right along. I've got the foot done on one sock and am starting the toe on the other. (I like to work both socks at the same time, section by section - do one section first and then switch over to the other sock and do that part. I get both done that way. I wouldn't otherwise - ask me how I know.)

Cute self-striping yarn, Lana Grossa Meilenweit colorweed (whatever that means in German. Ironically, the yarn is made in Italy. Go figure.). It has subtle stripes in blue demin/grays and should go well with jeans.

I'm having fun with this and I didn't think I would. My hands aren't cramping at all and it's going along much faster than I anticipated. So far, so good - I might be done with my crash & burn streak (I hope!).

Friday, August 27, 2010

Train Wreck

I hate it when a good plan goes South.

You all know I've put my sweater making on hold for a while in order to lose some weight (no point in making anything I won't be able to wear in a couple of months), but recently I tried to "cheat" by making a shrug that really only covers the shoulders. Just one little shrug!

I should have known better. Anytime I try to break the rules - or even bend them - I get caught. Things should have been OK - this wasn't a sweater, after all.

Got the pattern out of the new Interweave magazine, so I thought it would be a good pattern, well written & all. Who knows, it may be a good pattern and the problem could just be me (wouldn't be the first time, nor will it be the last), but my project looks like an old, beat-up rug that got left out in the rain and dried up all funny.

This piece is not at all attractive. Not sure if I want to keep going to see if any faith I can scrape up for it is justified, or just kill the thing and unravel. Historically speaking, it usually takes me a couple of tries before I get things right, so maybe I just need to try again. Think I'll put it aside for a couple of days and think about it.

Hope all your projects are going better than mine!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Self-Challenge Tanked

Have you ever noticed that when you try to set a goal - let's just say finish a shrug by Friday - that you will find yourself too busy to even knit? From like, the minute you decide to start your new challenge until you realize it's hopeless and you will NEVER finish the item? Life has conspired against you in a huge cosmic way so that not only can you not finish your project, you can't even find time to pick up the needles? Yup, me too.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Diets Suck

Since I have been on a diet I've lost almost 30 pounds. This means that most of my clothes no longer fit. ALL of my handknit sweater no longer fit, but it's OK because it's summertime in Sacramento. I don't want to start any new sweaters because I intend to lose more weight. That just makes sense, doesn't it? I think so.

But I've been itching to work in a heavy worsted/bulky yarn. I love making sweaters. Instead I told myself to concentrate on things where size is not so much an issue, like socks or shawls. I also told myself to not buy any more yarn for a while until I have my out-of-control stash under better management. I have plenty of yarns to work with while I'm off making sweaters.

So, to keep myself more interested in socks, I ordered the "Socks from the Toe Up" book by Wendy D. Johnson. Going toe-up makes sense since you can just stop when the yarn runs out. Very practical.

I received the book (ordered online) and opened it up. Such lovely patterns! Then I noticed the needle size for that pattern. It was a 0.

I don't have any 0's. Never used them. I generally like the the 7-13 size range. The smallest I've ever tried were a 1 and it felt like I was knitting with toothpicks. A 0?! Yikes! But maybe there were other patterns that used a larger needle. I was optimistic until I kept turning the pages.

Next pattern - 0. The next one the same. Panic set in as I realized that every pattern in the book called for a 0. Then I got to the last section in the book. Those last 3 patterns use a size 2 needle. Whew! Saved at the very end.

Then I got to thinking, maybe I could try a 0. The material would certainly be much better for socks, more sturdy, durable and all that. OK. I'll try it. Except I don't have any 0's.

The it hit me - Filati's was having a great anniversary sale. I didn't need any yarn but I could go with a friend who had a gift certificate burning a hole in her pocket and get some needles. Cool.


Why is it whenever you put yourself on a yarn diet the most fantastic sales come up? I found some beautiful bulky yarn for about $3.00 a skein to use for a yummy cable sweater I've been wanting to do in a gorgeous burgundy. It had my name all over it, so I bought it (I know - shame on me!). I took it home and did a test swatch to see how the gauge was. It matched perfectly! Oh, how exciting! I almost never get gauge on the first try with the size stated. That sweater would become a reality...

...except I'm not making myself any new sweaters right now.

The yarn is now sitting there looking so lonely. It wants to get used for that cute cable sweater but it can't right now. So sad...

But I got the needles - two Addi Turbo Lace circulars size 0 and a set of dp's. My heart's not in it, though.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Energy-Sapping Chair

I swear, I always have good intentions. I will do x, y, and z when I get home. Do I? No - I sit down and it's game over. It never seems to hit me how tired I am until I sit down. I think the chair is sapping all my energy....

Monday, August 16, 2010

Knitting is Cool

I sat in a coffee shop this morning - no, it wasn't anyplace really cool like Naked Coffee or my favorite, Chocolate Fish - I like the independents - it was Starbuck's, but it was all about location today.

I had about an hour to kill while I was waiting for my son to finish some things nearby and a coffee sounded nice. As I sat there waiting I watched the people in the shop. They were all very busy looking, typing away at their laptops (I'm sure it was something impressive) or talking in a group of two or three people, looking glamorous and vibrant.

There I was sipping coffee while trying to figure out how to open the fruit and yogurt parfait cup Hey, it was hard - they had a separate container for the granola. I was trying to pry that section out and was educated by the nice girl at the counter when she simply lifted the granola section out of the main cup. Embarrassing...

Anyway, here were all these important people doing all sorts of important looking things and there I was just trying to open a plastic cup. I felt I was way out of my league. Then to make things even more frumpy for myself ('cause I'm normally such a glam girl), I pulled out my knitting.

I had people coming up to me. Me! Asking about the yarn and the pattern I was using, comparing which needles we all liked, etc. I met one lady who was really into sewing and had just started sewing knits and I discussed stash habits with another woman who had just gotten back from Filati's big sale. It was so cool! The hour passed by quickly and I felt like I was hanging out with friends. Could have done that all day, I had so much fun.

Knitting just has this magic way about it bringing people together, doesn't it?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Da Belle

The Colonnade shawl is done and the yarn really made a difference. I love this shawl and can't wait to wear it this winter!

I've started a new pair of socks - the pattern is Belle Epoque out of the 2-at-a-time socks book. The yarn is a deep red superwash from Lang yarns called Jawoll. Pretty...

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Knitting for Myself

I've been doing some knitting for myself receintly. I normally knit for other people. I like the process of knitting, but honestly, I live in California and so I really don't need much cold weather stuff.

Since I am actively trying to lose weight (24 pounds so far), I don't want to make any sweaters for myself right now. My old ones no longer fit, but I want to shed more weight and feel I should wait until I have met my goal, or have at least steadied out. So, that means I get to work on socks, shawls, etc.

I finished the Tabi socks and let me tell you - they're really fun to wear! I like the pattern so much I think I may make my daughter some. (I know, I get a pattern I like and then do it over and over...) I also finished a simple scarf with a funky yarn - AslanTrends "Tango" with the color "Rust Paradise" (it has nice big slubs at a fairly regular interval - makes for a cute look). I cast on 18 stitches on a size 15 needle and went with a garder stitch until I ran out of yarn. This color is gold, red, and brown - lovely Fall colors - and should add a nice bit of color to a sweater or light jacket this Autumn.

Next on the needles is a shawl pattern from Knitty, the Colonnade Shawl from Fall 2009. I made this before with some cheap acrylic yarn and it turned out looking like a 70's poncho reject. I did like the lace part even with the bad yarn, so I decided to try it again using better stuff. Trying it with Jojoland Rythm, a cute superwash that changes all these really cool colors.

Been thinking about starting another pair of socks, but I need to finish this shawl first. That's OK, it will give me time to think about what kind of socks I'd like. I have some soft, pretty green yarn to work with - maybe some cozy cables? Hmmm... I think the decision process is sometimes just as fun as the knitting process!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Weird and Fancy

I finished one of the Tabi socks last night. Again, great pattern. It looks just like the picture - I used the recommended yarn, a washable wool/silk/polyamid blend called Regina. I like this stuff. It feels nice on the hands. Probably nice on the feet, too.

Yup, the pattern is really good.

It's probably even better if you follow the instructions more carefully than I did. I got a little confused when separating the big toe from the rest of the toe section - there's a spot where you "make 6" and then add the new stitches to the holder for the big toe. I added them to the main toe section by mistake.

So now the big toe part on the right foot is a little snug, but I can live with it. This is now a feature rather than a mistake, 'cause I'm not going to undo the work at this point. Don't the Amish deliberately put a mistake in their work because only God is perfect? Hey, I can do that.

Rather proudly, I showed the finished right sock to my boys and asked what they thought of it. Teenage boys aren't too caring about their Mom's knitting projects (unless it's for them), so I should have know better. But I didn't and asked anyway.

Older boy: "Weird..." He wasn't too sure of the separate big toe and wondered why I would make such a thing. He then turned back to his video game.

Younger boy (after seeing his mother's look of disgust given to his brother): "Fancy, Mom".

Already my younger boy know how to deal with women better than his older brother.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Good and the Bad

Bad news: my camera is not compatible with Windows 7. Don't know if I'd have gone with W7 if I'd have known that - I really like my camera. Must figure out a way to get it going here...

Good news: While the evil hat is still in timeout (see last post on this) I've almost gotten my really cute Tabi socks done! Just need to do the toes now.

This pattern has been a lot of fun (especially after getting my butt kicked by that stupid hat - I'm sure Jared Flood is off somewhere, laughing himself silly at my problems with his hat design. I mean, it's beautiful, but EVIL.). I love lace. Lace is good. Much better than colorwork.

That hat may never see the light of day again....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Hat from Bottom-Most Pit of Nastiness

Stupid hat.

I almost got to the end of the 2nd chart on the Beaumont hat and realized that my hat did not look very much like the picture.

Or really anything at all like the picture.

This hat is supposed to have color popping out in graceful swirls of geometric patterns, a beautifully choreographed dance of colors. Mine looked more like a tweed pattern gone bad on an acid trip.

Seems I got off the color pattern a little bit.

This is where I started calling the hat all sorts of bad names. (Creative swearing at it's best - no one can do that like a knitter who's realized that her past week of tedious work was unrepairable and had to be ripped out - again.)

The hat didn't reply to my rantings and threats. It just sat there silently, taunting me with it's obscene tweedidness. I swore at it some more but the hat still said nothing. They don't, usually.

Don't know why that would be any different this time.

How many times can you rip out angora before all the fluffy parts go away? The only things that keep me going on this project is love for my daughter (the proposed recipient of this item) and my own stubbornness.

Updated score: Jen 1, Hat 3.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Knitting Enabler

I had the honor of teaching someone how to knit yesterday. It was a lot of fun watching my student trying to figure out how to hold the needles and keep the yarn from falling off as she took her first tentative stitches. She'll get it in time.

My friend's niece is having a baby soon and so she wants to make a cute little hat and booties for the baby. (I love knitting for babies! They can't argue about what you're making them wear and they just look soooo cute! Almost makes me want one more - NOT!)

I hope my friend enjoys knitting as much as I do. And I'm glad to be a "knitting enabler". Knit on, my friends!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I got an email today from a friend saying how fashionable we are. Her justification? A link to a $1400.00 sweater.

No kidding - they really are asking $1400.00 for the sweater. And $1400.00 for the skirt, $55.00 socks and $495.00 for the shoes. That's $3350.00 for the outfit, not including tax or any undies. I'm sure they're extra - they're called foundation garments. I call 'em skivies.

I also don't pay out the nose for them.

A sweater like that takes some time, but having the self-satisfaction of making it yourself is priceless. And the SOCKS! $55.00! Are you out of your mind?!

We've been making things like that for a while. Recipients of our handmade items have politely said thank you and then stuffed the item in a drawer somewhere, never to see the light of day again.

I don't know ANYONE who buys clothes at that price. But if you do, send them my way - I can cut them a great deal on a handmade sweater or pair of socks. ;)

Saturday, July 10, 2010


It's 104 out today and what am I doing? Playing with some Malabrigo, of course!

The new 1st Fall Issue of Knitty is out and I wanted to play with a couple of patterns in it. The first one is Purliue and the other is Lamia - both of which would make excellent Christmas gifts. (OK, Christmas? I know, it's JULY. And hot. Really hot. And working with 100% heavy worsted weight wool is not going to help any with the heat. So why now? I'm starting now to see if I can make things up in time for Christmas. Don't want to wait until the last minute like I always do and not get anything done. Gonna try, anyway - we'll see how it ends up.)

I really do like working with the Malabrigo. It's soooo soft.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Hat Score Update

Well, the Beaumont hat & I have come to terms. It won't hide the pretty colors if I don't knit too tight.

I'm knitting with no stranding technique, just letting the non-used color float in back. It's really helped the colors to "pop" out. It's hard to let myself knit so loosely - I feel like it's going to be full of holes, but when I look at the hat (in progress) it looks fine. I just gotta let go of my tension...

Pictures to come later. Got a new PC and have to install the camera software, but I have to find afore mentioned software first. There's always something, isn't there? :)

Friday, July 2, 2010


Ok, one more thing: go check out http://www.ravelry.com/twir/77/ask-a-knitter-20. How many of you know how to do a ptbl? Great video demo of this.

I Just Need to Go Knit

It's Friday night once again and I tell ya, I have been really stressed out this week at work. The whole drive home I was thinking, while clenching my jaw and doing the death grip hold thing on the steering wheel, "I just need to go knit for a while & calm down".

So I got home and did some knitting.

Know what? It worked. Just like magic. I could feel the stress flowing out of my body.

I love knitting. It's cheaper than therapy, nobody gets hurt, and I don't go to jail. How did I ever cope before I started knitting?

Going back to the needles now....

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Beaumont - Part 1

I got going on the Beaumont hat and knit up about maybe 3 inches of the colorwork pattern and realized that the colors were just not popping. The colors pop in the picture - so why not in mine?

After consulting with some friends at lunch today (yes, I have a knitting group at work - I know, a sure sign of sickness) I was told by the Colorwork Goddess, Carole, that the problem was:

  1. my tension was waaaaay too tight, and

  2. I was doing stranded knitting, which is not needed in a hat ('cause it's not going to catch on anything like a mitten or something like that would). Also, since I'm using a Navy blue and white combo, the whole light/dark color thing - twisted stranded knitting does not help with this.

Carole was also good enough to send me a very useful link from Knitty on Color Stranding, which I though was way cool. Thank you, Carole!

So now I've ripped out the work so far - score is currently Hat: 1 and Jen: 0. But it's only the first quarter. More news to come as it happens.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

June Updates

June has gone by so fast! We've had another child graduate high school and had lots of family visits & traveling to visit other family out of the area, so I haven't had too much time to post.

I picked up some yummy Alchemy Haiku yarn (color is "Fern" - slightly variegated deep greens) as a memento of our visit to Ft Bragg and then got the Cascading Leaves Stole pattern to knit it up with. Even thought I think the designer meant it to be more of leaves, that pattern reminded me of the ocean and seaweed and other swirly water-type things. Not sure how long this will take to knit up - it's more of a challenging pattern than I've done before. The lace is knit up on both sides, not just knit or purled on the back. Yikes!

The other project I'm currently working on is Jared Flood's Beaumont hat. The pattern is pretty and the yarn is scrumptious (yes, I got the Classic Elite Fresco yarn that the pattern recommended and it feels incredible to work with), but so far my hat isn't looking as good as the picture. Maybe my tension is off? Stay tuned for more later.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Clap

The Hubby was cleaning out the garage over the weekend and found, among other things, a "Clapper" device.

For those of you who have missed out of the educational TV ads, a Clapper is a device that allows you to plug in something (a lamp, stereo, etc.) and turn that thing on/off by clapping your hands twice. I don't know how we came to having this thing-a-ma-jingy in our house, but I do remember seeing it before it got put into time-out in the garage (usually the last step before making the long journey to Goodwill or the dump).

So after finding this little gem, the Hubby has hooked our little friend up to a light in our living room. He's been in there ever since playing with the thing.

CLAP-CLAP - the light comes on.

CLAP-CLAP - the light goes off.

And so on and so on.

Then I found out that if you clink your glass on the top of the coffee table it has the same effect. That stupid clapper has kept us entertained for hours, just looking for things that will work in place of actual clapping.

"Hey, do ya think that singing would work?"

"What about stomping your feet?"

Then the kids piped in, "What about burping?" (I drew the line at farting. You've got to draw it somewhere.)

We're so easily entertained. Next up is the bug zapper.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Why is it that anytime one of my boys tries to cook they absolutely tear up the kitchen? And they don't even seem to see it - it certainly doesn't bother them to have a dirty kitchen - and they absolutely do not clean up their messes.

I shuffled down to the kitchen this morning in search of some coffee. The coffee pot was buried, couldn't see it at all. It took me 40 minutes of path clearing to get to it before I could start my brew. That's SOOO not right.

My older (now technically an adult-just-ask-him-but-he-doesn't-have-to-listen-to-you) boy made pancakes for dinner last night. (I had left the building to meet up with some friends for drinks. Lovely, lovely margaritas with chips & salsa... Left the hubby at home, too.) There's now pancake batter all over the counter tops, dripped on the stove, dribbled on the floor and splatter on the cabinets and walls. I do not do polka-dots in the morning. Ever.

When I got home my good hubby pointed out the mess in the kitchen and about how pissed off he was at the boy who made the mess, but I just didn't much care after the margaritas.

Until I couldn't get to the coffee pot this morning.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Happy Friday!

Note: this was supposed to be posted on 5/14/10. I must have been really enjoying those margaritas 'cause I didn't notice it hadn't been published until tonight (7/2/10). Oops.

Today had a great ending. Friends, food & lovely, lovely margaritas... I probably should't be trying ti type rigt now, but ish OK. (You know you've had too much when you can't remember your Ravelry user name. 'Nuff said.)

I do like margaritas, and I really like meeting up with friends I haven't seen in too long a time. We got to meet up and have drinks together like grown-ups. I've missed my friends. We've all been so busy that we haven't been able to catch up as much as we'd all like. But we fixed that tonight.

These are my friends from school. Not college - before that. The kind of friends who remember what your hair style looked like in the 9th grade (and still tease you about). They remember who your first boyfriend was and how many tries it took you to pass your driver's test. Those kind of friends. We've been through life's ups and downs together and I can't imagine better friends.

The start of today wasn't that great. It was grimy. Turns out we all had a grimy day today, so when the idea to meet up went around we all jumped on it. We shared appetizers and gabbed. I got to see new pictures of children and hear stories of what's happening with the new house and we all got to talk about how our day went. It was really nice.

Plus there were margaritas...did I mention that?

Hope you're all having a happy Friday!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Link Added - Knitting Terms Translator

I just added a new link to the Knitting Help area - it's a link to a kitting language translator. http://www.vogueknitting.com/magazine/article_archive/parlez-vous_knitting.aspx Neat article on translating knitting terms into different languages, so when you're working on a pattern in Norwegian you can finally figure out what stitches are what!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Designing My Own (Really Long) Toe-Up Socks

I'm close to finishing the toe-up socks. This is from Margaret Radcliffe's article in June's Knit 'n Style magazine, "Design Your Own Toe-Up Socks".

I've been trying to get over my pattern dependency issue and this article came along at the right time. Used worsted weight yarn and size 6 needles to make thing move along quicker, but have ripped out the socks more times than I can count before I got what I wanted. Now I just have the cuff left.

I like the pattern/guidelines she gave except for the foot. She writes under the Working the Foot section: "Continue until the piece (foot) is long enough to reach the rounded part of the heel, directly below the ankle bone." I took that (incorrectly) to mean knit until the foot hits the end of your foot and didn't notice until I got back to do the heel.

So I can't read. Wasn't this little experiment supposed to be about getting away from the rigid absolutes of some stuffy ol' pattern? Directions, dischmections...I've turned into someone - cough, a man - who refuses to ask for directions or look at a map! I wasn't about to undo everything at that point and decided to continue on and figure out what to do with it all later.

Now my socks are about 1.5 inches too long for me, but fortunately they will fit my daughter, so not all is lost. Besides, this was just a working experiment anyway, right? I should finish them off and get them sent out to her just about the time she won't need socks that warm. I love it when a plan comes together...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day! My youngest made cookies that spelled out "World's #1 Mom" (except the '#' fell apart). I thought that was very thoughtful of him. He was also very helpful later when he helped me eat them. :)

Mother's Day to me is not how much loot you get - face it, most of the stuff you get are things like macaroni jewlery, a hot wheel car from their collection, flowers stolen from a neighbor's yard or something like that. They'll make you a big breakfast and tear up the kitchen while they do it. So no, Mother's Day is not about the stuff.

It's about the kids telling you they love and appreciate you. It's a card they painstakenly picked out, or even better, one they made theirselves. It's about the hugs given with the grubby chocolate-covered little hands and the drooly kisses when they're babies. Later it's about them getting over their embassasment of having a parent around and getting a quick-before-someone-sees-me-doing-this hug before they move on to more imporant things, like a video game or hanging out with their friends.

Mother's Day is just a time when they stop, even if it's for just a moment or two, and remember Mom and all the things she does for them and how much they care.

I also get to go clean up the kitchen.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bad Magazine

I've always had bad luck with magazine subscriptions.

I usually receive the renewal notices before I even receive the first magazine, or I get the magazine in Spanish (that happened with National Geographic - it was kind of fun to look at & try to figure out what it was talking about). I've had magazines show up all torn up or not show up at all. I never know what I'd get, so I stopped subscribing to any magazines.

But I love magazines. They're fun. Quick reading and full of 1001 ways to clean with a potato or something like that (but not that I clean or anything - the information would probably be much more useful then).

So what am I doing ordering a subscription of Interweave? I think I'm testing fate to see what happens. The first issue is due to be sent June 1. We'll see....

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Goody, Goodie

Oh, my....

For those of you who know about my pastry addiction (and those who didn't know now do), I've just gotten back from my absolute favorite bakery, Mirabelle. Nirvana for the taste buds.

It's a little pricey and the coffee is not Chocolate Fish (my favorite coffee shop - hey, even that has the word "chocolate" in it!), but the pastries are the most amazing things I've ever tried. They also have wonderful crepes & entrees, too. Everything is good there. Trust a fat chick to know where the good places are to eat.

Speaking of the fat chick, my pants have been getting a bit snug. I've got to face facts and get myself straightened out. The Diet starts Monday. Sigh...healthy food. At least I can knit to keep my mind off the no sugar-low fat-low carbs-no taste thing. It's good for me.


So, why is it that when we think about going on a diet we start eating more? It's like before you go swimming under water you take in and let out several deep breaths before you take that last big one in that you hold. It's survival instinct. I've been preparing myself for the long winter where food is scarce. February is the "starving month".

Except that there's a McDonald's right around the corner and at least half the ads on TV are for food of some kind.

My ancestors were able to survive and continue their line because of this ability to store fat for the lean times. Now I have to undo thousands of years of gene evolution and create an artificial starvation time. Not fun. But necessary for my survival in this modern time.

I will know it's bad when I start knitting "cupcakes".

Really bad when I try to eat them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I wore my Valentine's Day sweater (Knitty/com - "Hey Teach" pattern) to work for the first time yesterday - it was so much fun! When someone complimented on my sweater I was able to say, "Thank you. I made it myself." And then smile.

Wearing something that I made myself is a real treat, I must say. So many people do not make ANYTHING themselves - not even boil a pot of water - so when someone makes something by hand people go insane over it, especially when it turns out well. This wasn't the case for my mother's generation.

They were expected to make things. It was part of being a "good wife" for some lucky schmoe. My generation grew up on the cusp of the previous women throwing off the "good wife" expectations.

My mother doesn't knit. She always hated it, but she knew how to do electrical wiring and how to keep the house running.

Maybe my generation likes the handmade stuff so much because we don't HAVE to do it. There are no expectations for us to do the ironing with starch (HA! - as if!). I knit because I like to. I can go out whenever and buy socks or sweaters or hats, or whatever, but I get great satisfaction from doing it myself.

And compliments, too - they really make my day.

I can cook, too! :)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dead Cat???

This is one of our cats, Missy. Missy is a sweet, older cat (who has dandruff, drools like a Saint Bernard, and is as dumb as a stump - but we like her anyway) we inherited from my Mom after she moved and is about the same age in cat years as Mom is in people years.

Missy hasn't moved from that spot all day. Not a twitch. I only noticed after one of the boys asked is the cat was still alive. Seriously hoping I wouldn't have to explain to my Mom that I killed her ancient cat, I went over and peered at the beast. No chest movement, not tail flicking - nothing.

Then I pet the cat. Several times. She woke up and looked at me like "what's your problem - I was sleeping here!". Talk about sleeping like the dead...

Monday, April 12, 2010

What's Going On?

Quickie update:

1. Had a cold from my trip to Idaho (went to visit my daughter). Terrible weather but pretty scenery when it wasn't snowing. Besides, how often do you see snow in the high desert?

Before & After:

(BTW - the picture on the right was taken at about 3:00 pm. Soon after, it got to be white-out conditions. The weather sure turns fast there.)

2. Dropped everything to make my daughter a new sweater so I could give it to her there. It didn't fit her and she didn't like it. (But at least I didn't have to finish the sleeves - it's now a short-sleeved carti, lol.)

3. Completed 2 (soon to be 3) hats. Two are chemo hats and the other is for my daughter. (If she doesn't like it then I'm not knitting for her anymore.)

I saw a thread on Ravelry (By Hand Yarn group) where they're knitting up tons of charity hats and blankets. I'm a big fan of community service, so please remember those who may need a cozy blanket or cheery chemo hat, etc. As mentioned in the thread, a hat is fast and usually only takes a single skein or yarn or less to complete (Premie hats are even smaller - about the size of your fist - and only use a tiny bit of yarn. A fun and fast way to use up left-overs.)

4. Need to borrow my friend Stephanie's ball winder to wind up my stuff from Tess' Yarn. The skeins are soooo big that a regular ball winder doesn't hold it all, and I hate to cut the yarn if I don't need to. Then I get to start my EZ Green Sweater KAL- and it's for meeeeeeeeee!

5. Reminder to self: Finish up all the bits & pieces of the last few projects you had Knitting ADHD with - weaving in a few ends here and there, adjusting a collar, and finishing the last few inches of border on that lace shawl (I just couldn't deal with it any more!). Buckle down and get to it.

Does this mean I don't have to do housework anymore? :)

Happy Knitting!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung and we've been doing some desperately needed Spring cleaning. While the boys were out back doing battle (backyard vs. mower - it was a close call), I was going through my knitting stuff.

Earlier today I took a look around and discovered that things have really spread throughout the house (finding knitting paraphernalia in the kitchen pantry was the last straw). So after a bit of organizing, the knit creep has been safely contained to just a few areas.

One of the things I did was go through my stash and - gasp! - got rid of a bit. This is stuff I will never use and no longer liked. (I used to be quite happy with acrylics. I know. I've matured a lot this past year.) I took a bag of yarn and donated it to a local yarn shop, to be used for people who need knitting supplies to teach kids to knit in schools. This way I clear out room for the things I really like and let the stuff I don't need gets put to a good use.

Doesn't it feel like the house gets lighter when you get rid of things from inside? It's strange, because personifying the house and thinking it just lost weight is a load of bunk, but... I do think that having too much stuff in your life just weighs a person down and takes your mind away from more important things.

So, now I challenge you to do a Spring cleaning of your own. Go through your stuff (and not necessarily just knitting stuff), pull out things you don't like, will not ever be using, haven't used in many years, and donate it to a charity of your choice. You'll get some free space in your home and your unwanted things will go to a place where they are needed.

Happy Spring to you!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Wine Tour

What a beautiful day! We went out to Amador County and did a mini-winery tour today. It was such a pretty day and everything is still very green that we wanted to get out of town and see something other than home or work. Here's some pictures.

Do you see the green everywhere? Here in Northern California most vegetation turns brown after May, so we really appreciate the greenery while it lasts. Everything is so pretty now - green grass with amazing Spring flowers.
This is a general picture of what the area is like this time of year, from the first winery we visited, Young's Vineyards on Shenandoah Road in Plymouth, CA. Not only were the vineyards immaculate, but the landscaping was absolutely stunning.
I've found that while vintners are usually pretty down-to-earth, they also have a quirky side. They tend to include lots of local art in their showcase. These are sculpture from a local artist (I didn't catch his name, but he is supposed to live over in Sutter Creek). I love how the sculpture fits in with the yard and building.

Even though we were in the foothills of California doesn't mean you can't park your boat! Yes, this is a real boat. The pond end about 4 feet left of the picture.

This is Zinfandel country, but they also have some fantastic Barbera and Sangiovese.
Our next stop was Bray Vineyards right next door. Yummy wines and knowledgeable sales staff. I picked up a bottle of Brayzin Hussy Red (a blend of Zinfandel and Sangiovese - I think) that was too much fun to pass up. I also got a bottle of the Sangiovese that is really, really good. (I was told that this is one of the four grape blend that makes up Chianti. Didn't know that...) This is the sign that caught our attention from the side of the road:

A couple of other places we visited had some sites to see, too. The rattlesnake sign is for real - remember that this is their territory and they will win. Just watch where you step and you'll be OK. Not sure what the architect was on when he/she designed this house.

For the record, I love chicken sculptures. They're just fun. And please don't throw gravel at the frogs.

I had a blast, and since I wasn't the designated driver I was able to sample all kinds of wines and knit in between stops. (Not too sure how well that knitting will turn out, but...)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

ADHD Knitting

I've been like an ADHD kid sugared up on candy with my knitting recently. No attention span whatsoever, hopping from one project to another while not getting much done. This is why I don't like to let my UFO pile get too big.

Unfinished projects sit heavily on my mind, like a nagging voice in the back of my head. I put down the object for a valid reason (or so it seemed at the time), and the additional work they represent (un-doing, figuring out what to do, fixing and re-doing) makes me want to run and hide under my bed. On top of it, I started a new project last night. No, not the EZ Green Sweater KAL - a new sweater for my daughter.

What was I thinking? I have three UFO's waiting for me, so I need another new project like I need another hole in my head. I wonder if there's a support group for this?

Friday, March 5, 2010

UFO Attack

I've been working from my UFO bag (UFO means "Un-Finished Object") and dug out some socks I had started for my husband about a year ago. These are on size 1 needles and with a dark yarn. It's kind of like trying to knit on toothpicks in the dark.

I messed up at the heels, noticing that the heels are on the wrong side of the fabric (I usually knit inside-out when knitting in the round. Don't know why - it just feels better that way. Maybe to get a surprise at the end of the project? I dunno...). Anyway, I managed to un-do the rows I reversed the work and started again. By now, my fingers and hands have cramped up into scary claw-like things and I've switched from my normal classical or jazz I like to knit with over to hard rock. That I save for doing tasks that I don't like doing but that need to be done, like housework. I know things are not going well when I start playing Beasty Boys.

Time to take a break.

Made myself a cup of decaf and figured a little typing would be just the thing to help relax the tension from my hands. It's working, too. Looking at those needles I think that I've pulled out bigger splinters. Some people love the tiny needles ("I never knit with anything larger than a 000." Show-off.) Not me - about the smallest I like is size 3, my favorite is a 7-8, and I really don't have a limit on the upper range.

How about you? Assuming anyone actually reads this blog, what size needles are you favorites and what range do you like best?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Stitches West 2010

Stitches West - you know - Stitches!

For those who may not know about this event, this is an annual knitting/crocheting/spinning/fiber event that has classes and more vendors than you can imagine - and I got to go for the very first time this past weekend.

Stitches West is located in Silicon Valley. I'm a big techie so I got very excited when I drove past the Oracle building (so pretty!) and the Yahoo headquarters (oh, yeah, baby!). It sent tingles of excitement down my spine, I tell you.

But I was not there for the tech side. I had a job. I was temporary help for a yarn booth. My friend Stephanie got me a gig at Tess' Designer Yarns (web site: http://www.tessyarns.com/). The first thing I can say about this place is: Oh, my! I got to play yarn shop girl in a booth with the most amazing yarns. And here's the kicker: I got paid in yarn!!!

My husband wasn't so impressed with this. After I told him about the deal he said "You're paid in yarn?"

"Yup. Isn't it great?"

"But it's yarn."

"Uh-huh! Yarn is good."


He just didn't get my enthusiasm. (I got paid in yarn!!! Hey, I'm easy.) What do husbands know?

Anyway, it was a lot of work - I certainly earned the yarn I received - but it was also a lot of fun. I enjoy talking to people and seeing what projects they wanted to make with the yarn they picked out.

There's a lot of creative people out there and I think I may have helped most of them in my time as a yarn shop girl. Now it's back to work, but I've got some gorgeous yarn waiting for me to make something with.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Singing Lessons

Ever wonder why you get songs stuck in your head? And why are they always the lame ones?

I've had the "Star Spangled Banner" playing over and over in my head for the past few days. My daughter fixed my up, except I now have "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt " ("His name is my name, too...") on mental replay. Agggh!!!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

News Brief

Ummm...coffee and pastry. Food of the Gods.
I'm sitting here enjoying desert and thinking that I need to update everyone on what's been going on. I'm finishing up a cold that caused me to miss my February Guild meeting as well as my Saturday knitting group. Sad about that, but it couldn't be helped. On the good side I've had time to work on some projects.
I've finished my Valentine's Day sweater and as promised, there are pictures (the color is a bit off on the right - it's red and not pink. Still learning how to use the camera).

Things I liked about it: The lace pattern was pretty easy to knit up and looks pretty good, too. Nice pattern and nice sweater - the project looks harder than it really is, so I look like a knitting Diva when in real life I'm more of a knitting clown. :)
Things I would do differently next time: I would use a 100% wool on this project to help define the lace pattern better. I used Encore (a wool/acrylic blend) that I use for a lot of the kids' projects for ease of care, but I should have stepped up for this. I would also try doing the main body in the round rather than flat, although I'd need to adjust the lace pattern a bit to do that. Might make one for my daughter.

Next up is a hat I did using no pattern. Top down. It's not the most incredible thing ever, but I did it without using a pattern!!! (I know, you knitters that have been knitting since before you could walk are all laughing at me. I don't care - this is a big step for me. I'm starting to kick my pattern dependency thing, lol. Maybe.)

The next thing I am working on is a scarf. I tried it using Kidsilk Haze but had too large of needles, so I took it out (well - tried, anyway) and started again, but took two strand, one a blue and one gold. It's a bit thick of a fabric - I should have used a larger needle - but it's OK:

That's pretty much it for tonight. I've got more coffee to drink and maybe another pastry to indulge in. Good night!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Valentine's Day Sweater is Done!

The sweater is done - well, almost.

The Valentine's Day sweater is complete, except for the buttons. It's now in the wash and the buttons will go on after it's dry.

Yes, I put items made with Encore yarn in the wash - that's the whole purpose behind using that wool/acrylic blend and I use a "handwash" cycle. I will dry the item flat rather than putting it in the dryer, though.

Pictures to come!

Friday, January 29, 2010


The sleeves are done. I'm now at the "Finishing" part. I always get sad at this section. The creative part is over and I'm a little bit in mourning for my almost finished project.

The main knitting is all done and all that's left is the blocking of pieces, weaving in of ends, and the sewing up - boring! This is the part where I lose interest in the project. I've been going, going, going and then BAM! - it's suddenly about as interesting as balancing your checkbook. Many a project has been abandoned at this point. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

I'm sitting here trying to rouse some enthusiasm for the finishing, but it's not working. Ugh! I need to get this done! (I also need to balance my checkbook.)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sleeves, Again.....

Those of you who know me know that sleeves and I don't get along too well. (Actually, we're more of nemesis rather than a mere "do not get along". )

I am getting better at sleeves, though. This time I did the sleeves for my Valentine's Day sweater and I got the pattern AND the decreases correct both at the same time!!! That's a first for me and I was rather proud.

Then I noticed that I did the wrong border (did a garter stitch boarder instead of the 1x1 rib the pattern specifies). I considered leaving it as it was, but that would have bothered me every time I looked at it, so - rip, rip, rip! went the sleeves. Oh, well, it's only my second try this time. That's something. :)

Happy knitting!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Movie Time Fun

My Aunts sent me a blue-ray movie, "Julie and Julia", that they had picked up by mistake thinking it was a DVD. I loved the book and have been looking forward to seeing the movie for a while. I started watching the movie this morning and have still not finished it. It's now 5:15 PM.

The remote for the blue-ray machine went missing about 15 minutes after we set the thing up. (I wonder if one of the cats ate it or something - we'll never know for sure.) This means that once a movie gets started you can't pause it. You can stop it, but once the movie gets back on play it starts all over at the beginning again. Between phone calls, lunch outings, and picking up boy scouts, I can't seem to catch a break. I've seen the beginning about 6 times now.

Why don't we just get a universal remote? Because we only have 2 blue ray movies, including "Julie & Julia", and the old DVD remote works the start and stop functions. We also think (or used to) that this is kind of funny in an irritating sort of way.

I think I just need to stick to knitting...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Lunchtime Update

Just a quick note - I'm on my lunch break right now. Just found out that ALL of my work knitting group are in for the Elizabeth Zimmerman's Green Sweater KAL!!! The last member just decided to join in and I'm SOOOO excited!

What got her to join in was the steeking - I sent her a link to this video and that was the deciding factor. I love Knit 2 Together videos! Link:
http://letsknit2gether.com/2009/12/06/lk2g-063-eeeek-steek/. I've never done steeking and it's a bit scary, but it helps to have others along...

On Ravelry, there are 78 projects for the EZ Green Sweater:http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/elizabeth-zimmermanns-green-sweater/people?page=1. Saw lots of greens as well as some really interesting versions. How cool is that?

Now, I just need to finish my Valentine's Day Sweater and I'm all set!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Update on Valentine's Day Sweater

I finished the back and started on the front two panels. I do two of anything (sleeves, socks, front panels, etc.) at the same time so they are the exact same size, pattern and so forth.

After my knitting group I noticed the the left side was a few rows higher up than the right side, and had repeated a section the shouldn't have been repeated at that time. Oh, boy. I got so irritated at myself for doing this that I put the work down and DID NOT KNIT FOR TWO WHOLE DAYS. Anything. Nothing. It was like my hands had been amputated or something.

Lesson learned here: Do not bring anything to knitting group that requires any kind of thought. Bring simple garter or stockinette stuff. That way you can chat with your friends without worry of what will you mess up this time while you ignore any fun conversation. Boo!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Happy as ...

Well, I'm as happy as a (insert your favorite expression of happiness here: "pig in mud", "cat in cream", "teenager in new video game", etc.)! In the mail today arrived not only the new Knitpicks catalogue but the EZ Green Sweater pattern I ordered! It feels like Christmas all over again.

I have started a new project - a red sweater for myself. The Guild is challenging us to wear something red that either we knitted up or someone knitted up for us in honor of Valentine's day. The pattern I'm using is "Hey, Teach!' by Helene Rush, which is a free Knitty download (http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEsummer08/PATTheyteach.html). Using red Encore (as usual!), a wool/acrylic blend, for ease of care.

I have the back piece mostly done and I like the way it's knitting up. My work so far:

I need to get this done for the February Guild meeting, so I'm gonna scoot & knit. Later!

Friday, January 8, 2010

New Year Projects

Happy New Year! I just realized I haven't posted anything since the start of the new year. Oops! I need to remedy that.

I've been reading - which is a real luxury to me - several wonderful books by Phillippa Gregory. I started with "The Constant Princess", moved to "The Other Boleyn Girl" (and the book is MUCH better than the movie, in case you're wondering), and am now working on "The Boleyn Inheritance". What a treat!

Something else I've been working on is creating a couple of patterns for the techniques afghan KAL. I did a couple of small 6" squares to start since I've never written a pattern before. This has been interesting. Proofing is the worst. Even after I've gone over the chart many times and have knitted up the square for the ump-teenth time I'm still finding errors. Yikes!

I sent an email to one of my friends on what I've learned so far on the creating process:
  1. Do not use a dark blue for the cable patch - it makes things hard to see. Use a LIGHT color yarn. (DUH - don't they tell you that in all the books? Yup.)
  2. Use wool or other blockable material. I used a wool/acrylic blend - it majorly wadded up on me and that stuff doesn't block well. (I also tried it with acrylic. Yuck!)
  3. You can only cable on ODD rows - Right Side facing. (Yes, I did.)
  4. Use a counter to prevent you from losing track of which row you're on. (Yup, did that, too.)
The good news if that I've finished 2 block patterns and they look pretty good. Need to get some more done. I sure hope this process doesn't kill me...

Your in Knitting,