Monday, August 29, 2005

So close

I've got about 12 rows left to finish the last sleeve of the Mad Aunts sweater...
and I'm out of yarn. How iritating is that?! Worse, is I can't seem to find any online stores that carry it. I did find one, Woodland Woolworks. I've shopped with them before and they have great service, but they are closed for inventory so it wouldn't ship till next week. I really was hoping to finish it this weekend. Mom suggested I try calling the store I bought the yarn from originally and seeing if they'd be willing to mail me a ball. They are closed until the middle of the week. If I don't find any by then, I'll try calling.

Meanwhile, I knit a swatch with the Sockotta (needed car knitting over the weekend)
See how pretty the colors are? The picture is a little washed out, but the colors are really soft and subtle like that. I'll be casting on my socks this weekend for sure.

Since I can't finish MA, I figured there was no harm in starting the mini Weasley awhile. I only got the cast on done, so nothing to show yet. I'm hoping to get a few rows knit tonight. This should be pretty quick knitting.

More soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Tribute

My grandma Miller died this week. She was my father's mother. She lived to be 94, would have been 95 next month. She died peacefully, in her sleep. She lived a long, full life, though over the last year Alzheimer's had claimed her mind. I have decide to list some of my favorite memories of her here (most are from when I was pretty young).

15 Things about Grandma
1. She had Christmas Elves that sat over her fireplace every Christmas. When I found a pair in an antique store, I snatched them up and now I have Christmas Elves too.

2. She babysat my sister and I when we were little.

3. She would make popcorn on the stove and take the lid off the pot to let the kernels fly all over.

4. She always had copies of old movie-star photo magazines around (I wish I could remember their names...)

5. She used to sunbathe all the time...and later had to deal with skin cancer spots as a result.

6. I remember her pulling a shotgun out of the kitchen coat closet on the farm to shoot the groundhogs in the field.

7. She made the absolute BEST pork roast ever. EVER!

8. Actually, all of her cooking was good. Sandtarts, ham, fried cornmeal mush (yeah, sounds bad. Is bad when I make it. Hers? Perfect.)

9. When I was little, she lived on a farm with my grandpa. The farm had an orchard, a stand of pine trees (which were magical to play under), an awesome barn (which we probably weren't supposed to be playing in), and a huge field around it. It wasn't a "working" farm then. But a wonderful place to spend time at as a kid.

10. She always had lovely scented glycerin soaps in the bath. This was probably the seed that sprouted into my current soap fixation.

11. There was a water pump outside the kitchen door on the farm with an enameled basin and icky lifeboy type soap. We always had to wash up out there after playing.

12. She had (I believe) 10 children. Three died in childhood. 4 still live here in Pennsylvania, 2 in Virginia and 1 in Florida.

13. She used to do beautiful embroidery work.

14. She kept a garden and had a cellar stocked with home-canned veggies.

15. She had a spinning wheel. I had asked my aunts about it recently, but they don't think she used it.

I have, of course, hundreds more memories of this woman and the times spent with her. There are just some of the best. I'm glad to have known her and will miss her.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Not knitting

I'm having to lay off knitting for a few days due to pain in my left hand. It happens every few months, my hand aches for a few days until I finally put a brace on and give it the rest it's demanding. Tried knitting with the brace, not working. Stupid left hand. Doesn't it know I want to finish MA so I can start the Mini-Weasleys? And the socks? And that the situation has just gotten worse since these just arrived in the mail?The mitten book came yesterday (which greatly improved my mood). I'm so inspired. I'm thinking Christmas gives galore. Wait a minute...any family members who read my blog, just ignore that. In reality, though, I've never been a huge fan of multi-color (as in multi strand) knitting. So I'll probablly lose interest within 3 inches of the first mitten. Will keep you posted. (Note to self, one must challenge themselves to grow as a knitter. Get over fear of fair-isle.)

The yarn is dreamy Cherry Tree Hill Supersock merino in a colorway called Earth (dark blues and burgundys). So soft and cuddley. I got it for an absolute steal off Ebay (I thi
nk it may be a discontinued colorway since it's not on the CTH website.) I hope this isn't the start of a bad pattern, acquiring tons of sock yarn before even casting on my first sock.

I finally got my hands on a copy of The Principles of Knitting. This book seems to be held in
the highest esteem by any knitter that's had the pleasure of reading it. Talk has been rampent on the KnitList about it lately. I checked the local library system and sure enough, they had a copy. I'm anxious to see what all the talk is about. And since I can't knit right now, might as well spend my time reading about knitting. I'm kind of hoping I don't like it though. Seeing how it sells for upwards of $200 now! But then, maybe the rumours are true and there will be a rerelease soon.


Thanks for all the nice compliments on the project pictures yesterday. It's nice to get opinions from fellow knitters since I don't know any in the "real world".

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pictures

Work sucked today. So to cheer myself up, I borrowed a digital camera and got some pictures to dress this place up.

First, Quinn and Stuart in the window, (Quinn's pretty hard to see, she's the black spot on the left) wondering why the heck mommy dragged all her knitting out into the yard. (light's much better out there and it is a GORGEOUS day!)




Here is the lovely Sunset Malabrigo purse along with the felted
eyeglasses case I made over the weekend (thats done in Cascade 220).

The purse has been pilling pretty badly, the nature of the beast with such soft spun merino. No worries, a minute or two with the sweater shaver and it's good as new.



Since there's been so much talk about Malabrigo on the KnitList the last few days, here's a picture of my other Malabrigo project, a sweater in a color called Dark Earth. The picture is pretty washed out, the colors are green, brown and purple. I did not follow the rule of alternating balls of yarn every few rows, and you can probably see the pretty obvious color differences between balls. Doesn't bother me, but some might prefer a more homogeneous mix and want to switch between balls as they knit.

Here's the mitten from last week.

I've been working diligently on MA, so there's only a few rows on the needle of mitten 2. Pretty yarn though, isn't it? It's Manos. Everyone compares Manos and Malabrigo. For me, there's no comparison. Malabrigo is the hands down winner. Manos is nice, but it's not evenly spun and a bit scratchy (ever so slightly). Plus Malabrigo is so affordable!

No pictures of Mad Aunts. It looks like a blob now so pictures must wait until it's finished. I will leave you with one final picture. My glorious shawl...

I love this project beyond words. I can't seem to get a decent picture (even with a good camera) but it is lovely. So soft, a pretty lime green (Knit Picks Elegance in Grass). Now that it's finally cooling off, I'm excited to get back to work on it. Maybe this weekend.

Hope you enjoyed the photoshow. I'll try to get pictures up here on a more regular basis.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Not much going on this weekend. I recovered from my bad day Thursday. Made yummy, lowfat chocolate chip cookies (which I left at work Friday so I wouldn't eat the whole batch this weekend). And found these to make my mini-Weasley sweaters...

They are Rowan Yorkshire Tweed 4ply in Butterscotch and Knight. Ordered from Jimmy Beans Wool. I've shopped with them before and highly recommend them. Great customer service and fast, cheap shipping. I worked out the graph for the "H" (much easier than I expected). I picked up some size 3 double points on Saturday, so I'm all set to go when the yarn arrives.

I've spent nearly the entire weekend watching James Bond on AMC and knitting on MA. I finished the first sleeve. It's going to be REALLY close with the yarn I have to finish. I think I should just make it, if I'm lucky. I'm holding all my scraps just in case! I sewed on the sleeve and seamed the left side. I do all my seaming on the sewing machine whenever possible. I hate sewing up with yarn. Now I'm able to get a good look at what the sweater is going to look like. I'm liking it better now that it's mostly sewn up. Chuck thinks it looks great and he's usually a better judge of these things than me. With any luck, I'll have it finished and post a picture by next weekend.

I frogged the wool purse I had started for car knitting the other week and reknit it on my Bond. Threw it in a super hot wash with an hold pair of jeans and in no time had a felted purse. The Cascade 220 shrank by about 50% lengthwise, but hardly at all widthwise. I suspect that's partly do to the effects of machine knitting putting a lot of lengthwise stress on the knitting. Since the purse ended up being way too wide, I just wacked a couple inches off the one side after it was felted and sewed the side back up (I LOVE that you can do that to felt!). I used the extra little piece to make an eyeglass case. Worked like a charm.



Thursday, August 18, 2005

Weasley-along

Allison at The BlueBlog is starting another Weasley Knit-Along and I joined right up. (Even got the button on my bar!) I think that it is highly appropriate for my first knit-along to be Harry Potter related. Since my yarn budget is blown right now, I won't be making the full blown Weasley sweater. Instead I'm going to do little mini-Weasley's for Christmas ornaments (see Allison's here). Aren't they cute? I don't have the pattern she used, but think this one will work perfectly. Just need to work out a chart for the initial and I'm golden. That shouldn't be too hard (she says knowing full well that that statement has probably just doomed her to hours fighting with the chart!) I think I'll do the traditional "H" first, see how it goes. Tonight I plan on doing some surfing to find the right yarn. The pattern calls for sock/fingering weight yarn. Anyone know of a tweedy looking sock yarn? Will keep you posted of how I make out. And if you're a Harry Potter fan, hop over to Allison's site and sign up!

Meanwhile, I mangaged to unpick the neck on MA and re-bind-off. Much better now. I can get it over my head. Downside is, now that I can see it on and get an idea of how it will look, I'm not loving the fuzziness. Feels like heaven, doesn't look so good though. I've started the sleeves and I will finish it, but the last few days have really knocked the shine off my highly anticipated sweater. Bummer. Has this ever happened to you? I'm leaving final judgment until it's finished, but I'm not as gung-ho has I had been. Maybe I'll just knit a little on the mittens, maybe even work on the shawl (I must get you a picture of the shawl. Gorgeous. Truly. No doubts about that one!).

Shopping for my Weasley will certainly make me feel better...and chocolate...must find chocolate. I think I'll go now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Payback

The biggest side-effect of KADD is apparently the jealousy of the neglected knitting. Mad Aunts lived up to her name last night. I allowed myself an hour to work on the mittens last night. In which time I finished my first mitten and cast on the second. Then I went back to finishing the neck of MA. Everything went fine. I finished the ribbing in no time and cast off. Sure enough, the cast off was too tight and the thing won't go over my head. Not even close. Apparently neckbands in knitting feel the same way towards me as collars in sewing, they hate me. I was so ready to show that sweater a thing or two and chuck it in the trash. But, after spending all that money and time, I just couldn't do it. So I started the horrible task of unknitting the bind off. It isn't pleasant. At all. The yarn is so slippery and fuzzy, my needle keeps slipping right out of the picked up stitches while I'm trying to unknit the next stitch. I think I got about 10 stitches undone when I gave up and went to bed. I'll give it another try tonight. And hit the books to find a STRETCHY bindoff!

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Diagnosis: KADD

While perusing blogland the other day, I found a name for the affliction under which I suffer on Abbey's blog. KADD, short for Knitter's Attention Deficit Disorder. I had been keeping the ugly little monster under control lately, faithfully working on Mad Aunts. But we went away last week and I needed car knitting, so I started another purse. Totally hating it, though. Not the pattern, the yarn. The yarn is Cascade 220 and it feels so rough I can't stand it. This will be frogged and machine knit when I have the chance. Then I purchased the lovely skein of sock yarn. It's been taunting me since it entered my house. But I was good, I put it aside until I had a proper set of sock needles (which, by the way, arrived yesterday. We'll see how long I can resist the temptation now!) Still the KADD won't let me concentrate on MA. Even though I have finished the front (gorgeous!), sewn the shoulders and have started picking up the neck. Didn't even let me get once around the neck and KADD tugged me to the stash and the bookshelf until I found a suitable diversion. Hence, I'm now knitting mittens. (Sorry no pictures, it's raining and my POC digital camera has no flash). I'm totally loving the mittens. I'm using a pattern from Yankee Knitter and Manos yarn in a dark evergreen. The pattern has no schematics and only general sizing (child s, m, l, women, men). I'm knitting the women's size and it's going to be way too small for me. However, my husband pointed out they will be perfect for his sister. Score! One Christmas present down. And the mittens are so easy and fast to make, I'm sure I'll finish these without starting something else. Maybe mittens are the cure for KADD?! Who knew?

Friday, August 12, 2005

The heat continues with another plus 90 day. Had off work today (YEAH!) Chuck and I visited the yarn store in Lebanon this morning. It's under new ownership. Now called Yarn Over Ewe. A friendly little shop stuffed to the rafters with yarn. I really didn't need anything, what with the Frisky yarn I just bought still on the needles and a batch of merino/cotton/silk blend waiting in the wings. But those socks I received the other day really have my interest sparked to try sock knitting again. So I got this...


Of course my dinky digital camera doesn't capture how cool this yarn is. It's got denim blues and light and dark pinks. The Plymouth website describes it as "bold stripe effect". They didn't have a knitted sample at the store, so I'm excited to see how it knits up. I ordered a set of the Susan Bates sock needles which should be here by the beginning of next week. I'm reading every website I can find that talks about sock knitting. Maybe this time I'll get the hang of it and actually complete a pair!

Meanwhile, I kept my plans of working on the Mad Aunts while watching James Bond last night. I finished the first repeat of the chart. Here's how it looks so far


The fuzziness obscures the cabling somewhat, but in person it is pretty neat looking. I love the drape of this fabric. Can't wait to see how it looks on. This huge gauge is such a plus. I might actually finish this sweater before losing interest and being drawn to another project.

Thanks to Donna for the advice on freezing tomatoes. I was dreading canning in this heat and she suggested just freezing them whole. I had completely forgotten mom telling me they had done this with their Roma's the other year. Donna said just stick them in a freezer bag and freeze. When you need them, run a little warm water over them and the skins should peel right off. You can't even imagine what a time saver this is. And, she says, the flavor is better than canned. Coolness all around!

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Cabling at last

Hurray! I finished the back of the Mad Aunt's sweater on Tuesday and just finished the ribbing. Now I can finally start the fun part, the cabled front. Thunderball is on AMC tonight. Good James Bond, fun knitting, and no work tomorrow! Sounds like a plan.

Now, if you'll all excuse me, I hear my knitting calling.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Peppers!

It rained yesterday. This was good, we need the rain. But I knew I had tomatoes to pick (and needed some for supper) so hubby and I braved the rain and went out to the garden to gather these:



Our tomato crop had been pretty pitifully so far due to long dry periods interspersed with short heavy rains. For the first few weeks all we had were nasty, cracked tomatoes. Now, though, we have lovely, tasty, beautiful tomatoes. BLTs for supper, yum!

But while out there in the pouring rain, the pepper plants started crying out to be picked too. I put them off till today. Here's the first batch



Look how pretty! They are a variety called King Arthur. I've been growing these for 3 years now and have not been disappointed yet. They're all washed and cut up and in the freezer now. I'm trying mom's method this year of just cutting them in quarters and freezing them. She said they've had good luck doing it that way. In the past I chopped them before freezing. But since I didn't really feel like spending the night in the kitchen putting up peppers, thought I'd give it a try. The plants are loaded. If this doesn't work, there'll be plenty more!

I'm about 10 rows from finishing the back of the Mad Aunts sweater. I'm going to get it done tonight and put it on a spare needle (just in case the front doesn't work out according to my grand calculations!) With any luck, I'll be knitting cables by the weekend. I'm so excited! My first cable sweater!!

Monday, August 08, 2005

Good mail day

Just look at the lovely surprises that arrived in my mail today. First is a cool pair of hand-cranked machine knitted socks.

Aren't they great? They are a gift from someone I dealt with on Ebay. Can you believe it? Someone was nice enough to send a total stranger a pair of socks they made with their own hands. I'm blown away. Now it really MUST cool off so I can wear these bits of loveliness!

As if this wasn't enough to make my day...
The new Rowan also arrived. Since it only comes twice a year, it's always such a cool surprise when it does. Only took a quick glance through, but it looks like it's full of gorgeous designs, as always. Ever since I snagged my first Rowan magazine at a book sale last year for $.75 (can you BELIEVE that?) I have been hooked. I've never actually made anything from the mag, but I've got patterns marked in every issue I've gotten my hands on as "some day" projects.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Yesterday the ever entertaining Yarn Harlot posted this link: Llama Llama Duck. Be sure to turn on your speakers and be prepared to sing this song the rest of the day. If you haven't already guessed, she is my knitting hero. I try to never miss her blog and encourage all to check it out.

I finished the Audobon shirt/jacket this morning and am totally pleased. I had purchased two cards of buttons and it turns out they are slightly different in color. Same numbers and all. Don't know how I missed it in the store. Thankfully it's a slightly funky pattern anyway, so it turned out to be a nice "design enhancement". Now it must sit in my closet until fall arrives and it's not 90 anymore!

Finally, a picture: This is the back of the Mad Aunts sweater. Can you see the fuzziness? The picture doesn't show it very well, but it's fuzzy. I took the time and did the math on the length. Sure enough, the pattern is written for the short sweater. I checked and rechecked and think I have the right numbers to get the length I want. I think to be on the safe side, though, I'll knit the back to what I think is right and stick it on a spare needle until I finish the front. Now I'm off to find a fan to sit in front of to knit.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Mad Aunt's on a roll

Mad Aunt's is progressing swiftly. I might actually finish this sweater without starting (being tempted off by) another project. It's knitting up to about 15 st/4" on size 11 needles. The Frisky yarn is so soft and light. It's going to be so comfy. I'm a little concerned about the amount of fluff the yarn has. I'm hoping it won't be too much. The original mohair yarn looks pretty fuzzy in the picture, so I think it should be alright. Don't know how well it will wear, though. I can see this being a pilling nightmare. I'm also wondering about the pattern instructions. I have a bad tendency not to read the whole thing through before starting. I realized last night, there are two sweaters pictured on the pattern, one short, one long. I want to make the long one. The pattern only has instructions for one length. As usual, the pattern has me knitting the back first, which is plain, no pattern. The front has a cable design running up the front. The short has two cable crosses, the long three. I'm guessing I should try to do the math and figure out how many rows/inch I'm getting and make sure I knit the back long enough to accommodate the three crosses on the front. Or, put the back on hold and knit the front first. Guess this should be a lesson to read the pattern first! I've got a while before I need to decide, so on I go with the back.

I feel bad for the Landscape Shawl which has somehow slunk it's way to the bottom of my Knitting bag. I can so relate to Stephanie and her yarn infidelity issues. This summer, I've been trying to finish up all the half done projects I had laying around and have done pretty well. I finished the Harry Potter scarf which had been languishing for months. I decided to rip out what I had knit on the shrug Fayla Reese had done on Knitty Gritty and reknit it on my Bond (two evenings to finish a whole project, can you beat that?). Mine was knit with Bernat DenimStyle in Chino, a nice big rectangle that I hand knit garter stitch cuffs on. Should keep me nice and cozy this winter when reading (or knitting) in bed! There's still a drop shoulder sweater I'm making from Ann Budd's sweater book in scrumptious Malibrigo, but it's too fall like in dark brown/green. I contented myself knitting a purse in Malibrigo Sunset, very summer-y. I also started and finished two tank tops. Oh, and I finished the horrid acrylic baby blanket nightmare (we won't go there). The shawl was going like gangbusters, and I truly love the way it's turning out and the Knit Picks Elegance is a dream. But I'm just smitten with this sweater.

Now, if the heat would just drop below 90 for a few days! Fall just can't get here soon enough. Thank goodness for air conditioning or there'd be no knitting!

Finally, have you seen this? Way cool!

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Quilter not a sewer

I'm a crafty person. Love quilting, knitting, crochet, most any kind of hand craft. I learned to sew probably sometime around age 7 when mom would give me and my sister scraps leftover from her sewing to fashion doll clothes for our Barbies. Eventually, I graduated to sewing clothes for myself. But I never truly enjoyed sewing garments. Shirts were a hassle for the collars, pants never fit right, and skirts have miles of hemming. So I channeled my love of sewing to quilts, a process that never fails to satisfy me. All those little pieces, sewn back together into a whole new thing of beauty. Probably doesn't hurt that I adore scrappy quilts (ala my grannie's style). And that I only do straight line piecing (those collars must have really scarred me against curves!)

So what was in the air on Friday at the quilt show to possess me to buy not one, but two clothing patterns from Park Bench? Mary Lou, the designer, greeted mom and I when we arrived at her booth. She's truly delightful (and not a little bit persuasive
). She showed us sample after sample of fabulous garments. She extolled us on the simplicity of the designs, the ability to be creative and have the clothes be just what you want them to be. I felt confident that although I hate garment sewing, this was something I could do (I mean, come on, we were at a quilt show for heaven's sake, should be easy enough for a quilter, right?) I left with Williamsburg & Woodstock. Mom got Audubon and Trinity River. A stop by our friendly JoAnn fabrics on the trip home and I was all set. Fabric to make the Williamsburg pants, Woodstock skirt and Audubon jacket (mom lives across the street so sharing patterns was part of the plan).

Well, let me just tell you. By noon Saturday I had had my fill of Woodstock. This was no easy-peasy pattern. My dear hubby had to stop me from chucking the whole thing in the trash when I couldn't get the 13 pattern pieces to fit my yardage (by the way, when the bolt says 45" wide, don't you think they could get close? 43" is not close.) He was able to devise a layout to fit all but the facing, so all was not lost. I chugged away at it all weekend, the miles and miles of overcasting seams (no I don't have a serger...Yet), the pieces that didn't fit (Mary Lou mentioned having the "freedom" to "play with the pattern"...this is a requirement I found out the hard way), an HOUR of running the floral stitching on the hem (I had the pedal to the metal on my Kenmore and it still took a full hour to run the hem!) But in the end, it did turn out really cool. I wore it to work on Monday and everyone loved it. Audubon is going much better. Haven't had much time to work on it after work, but should be able to finish it this weekend. When I get Williamsburg finished I'll get the camera and post some pics. Don't hold your breath, though. I'm a quilter not a sewer. This may take awhile.

Monday, August 01, 2005

1st post ever

Hello! Welcome to my blog. Here I will post my random thoughts and ramblings. There will be talk of cats and quilts and knitting and cooking and gardening too. At least for the time being, there will be few if any pictures. We haven't taken the plunge to buy a digital camera yet for ourselves. If I've got something really good to show you, though, I will borrow one.

I've never much been one for journaling. However, the blog bug has bitten. I love reading everyone's blogs and have been inspired to start my own. Mostly to chat about my hobbies with like-minded folks.

This past weekend was a lot of fun. Mom and I went to the Quilt Odyssey in Hershey. I just love this show. This was my third year at QO and I'm never disappointed. They have just the right mix of traditional and modern quilts. The vendor mall held lots of tempation, as usual. I picked up another Heartwood Creek figure (an ornament of Santa holding a cat). Was tempted again by the needlepunch embroidery stands, but resisted until I sort through my grandmother's stash of Pretty Punch supplies and see what I've got.

Later that day we stopped at a yarn store called The Knutty Knitter. This was my first visit to Vivian's shop, but I'm sure not the last. She's a delight, sat and chatted with mom (a non-knitter) while I looked at all the fantastic yarns she has. I left with enough Reynolds Frisky
in pink to make this sweater. I've only just started the ribbing, but think it's going to be really pretty. Now if the heat would subside enough to knit!