Sunday, December 31, 2006

Christmas wrap-up

Although still unseasonably warm, it's been a wonderful holiday week. Lots of good food and fun time with the families (the diet starts today!). Everyone loved their gifts.We sat around Christmas afternoon watching Finian's Rainbow (love that movie!!) Santa was good to me this year and I was lucky enough to get nearly everything I wanted. I got movies and candy and gift certificates galore; a cozy sweater and an awesome MP3 player. Two knitting gifts to note...a gift certificate for the LYS and ...I was thrilled!! I read just a bit in it so far and was instantly reminded why I love EZ so much. I had almost ordered this book and the accompanying dvds a few weeks ago, but ended up ordering some of Lucy Neatby's dvds instead (still waiting for them to get here from Canada though.)

Here are the pictures of the gifts I made that I couldn't post before.

The way cool pirate dishcloth...And the cute and cozy house socks...
I am on a major sock kick right now. Just finished the first sock in my pair of Online Supersockes
I thought these would turn out more green, but there isn't much green in them at all. Still a nice neutral colorway. I needed some car knitting last night so I cast on the Mr Joe yarn to make the Welsh Country socks from Folk Socks.I'm having just a little trouble with my super-pointy Knit Picks Options needle wanting to catch in the fairly loose spun yarn, but I'm getting the hang of it now. I think I'm really going to like this yarn for socks. The color is ever so slightly mottled when it's knitted up. And it feels soft and warm. I'm considering changing the sole to a fair-isle pattern (just got the Sock Hop book and am inspired to try some colorwork). But the two strands of yarn would also add strength to the sole. I've got a while before I get to that point and have to decide.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Martha Stewart redo

The Martha Stewart Holiday magazine was FILLED with fantastic ideas this year. I've got many of the projects flagged to do "someday". But one particular item really struck my fancy...hand warmers (pg 65). My hands are always cold and I thought these looked perfect to tuck into a pocket. I made one, mostly following the directions in the mag only I used rice instead of pie weights to fill the warmer and I machine stitched around the edge (I hate hand sewing!) The result was less than I had hoped...You can see my attempt there on the left. Part of the problem was the fabric. I used wool felt, which ended up being too stiff. I also used too much rice further adding to the stiffness of the piece. And the over all dimensions were too small. So I went back to the drawing board and came up with an improved version of the hand warmers. I call them Hot Spots. Mine are a bit larger and have an inner bag containing rice and salt which is sewed up with the tiniest stitches possible to prevent leaking. Then I sewed a larger bag to encase the rice bag and blind sewed it shut. Finally, I hand stitched around the edges for decoration (this step could be skipped, but it does look nicer if you take the time to do it). The result is a soft, flexible little pillow that can be warmed in the microwave and stuffed in your pocket to keep your hands warm. It's also great for spot heating an sore muscle. I added a drop of fragrance oil to the rice bags of a few of them, these are particularly delightful.

Today was Christmas Bread day. Can't wait till Monday to have some!

Check out my cool flea market score last week...Clara, Herr Drosselmeyer & the mouse king nutcrackers!!
We got to the flea market about an hour before closing time and really didn't expect to find anything. I saw these three nutcrackers laying in a box. When I asked the stand owner how much he wanted he said "$8 each or I'll give you all 3 for $9". I thought he was pulling my leg, so I asked his wife if he was joking and she just laughed and said no he's just like that. Needless to say, I took them. I'm sure they aren't worth much, but I think they are so adorable. The mouse king needs a sword, but I should be able to find something that will work. Clara appears to be missing something to go on top of her head. I've looked online, but can't find this particular version of Clara anywhere. There's a hole in her head where a peg for a hat might go. But I'm thinking of just getting some blond doll hair rather than trying to make a hat.

I must be off to finish wrapping and baking. Merry Christmas everyone!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

A bit of history

I love to bake. Especially this time of year. My husband's friend sent me a bread recipe that sounded really interesting. You basically just mix together the four ingredients (flour, yeast, salt & water), give it a good stir, let it sit for hours, knead it 2 or 3 times, let it sit some more, then turn it into a pre-heated pot, cover it and bake. It sounds way too easy, but that makes it all the more intriguing. Trouble is, I have only one large covered oven safe pot and it's in use making ham & beans for supper. Enter this fantastic piece of family history...This is one of my late Grandma Miller's cast iron pans. My dad told me, his dad made (that's right I said MADE with his own hands) a whole set of cast iron pans for her. This was back in the '30s when he worked for steel mill (I'm not sure if this was when he was at Bethlehem Steel or perhaps another mill). This pan is awesome. It's some 70 years old and not a speck of rust or wear on it. It is perfectly seasoned and smooth as a baby's butt. My grandma used this pan to make her corn pie, unquestionably the best corn pie one could ever hope to taste. I wish I had her recipe, although I've been able to come pretty close with an amish recipe I found. I think while the pan is visiting her at my house I may have to whip up a corn pie in her honor.

As promised, a picture of the finished hats for the in-laws. Hats are kind of hard to ph
otograph without a head in them, so they look a little wobbly.
These are the rolled brim model from the Holiday 06 Knit Simple magazine. As I said in the last post, I put in a couple of inches more in both the brim and body section above the checkerboard on the second hat (which is actually the hat on the left in the picture). It feels like it will fit an adult size head much better.

A little peek at my current knitting.
Can't say much about this one as it may or may not end up a Christmas present for someone, depending on how much knitting time I get in the next 2 weeks.

A small bit of stash enhancement this week, courtesy my good friends at Elann.
This yarn, Mister Joe Blanket, was featured in this week's newsletter. It's a wool/nylon blend and it's super soft to the touch. It's a bit finer than I like (sport weight) but I'm thinking I may use it for socks. It's funny how frigid temperatures and cold feet make you long to knit nothing but warm socks.

I decided it's about time we got the tree up for Christmas and set to work at doing just that this morning. I got the tree on it's stand and put the skirt on, we'll do the decorating tonight. I walked out to my laundry room to flip the wash, came back to the living room 3 minutes later and found this...
Anyone care to place a bet how soon the tree will be on the floor?

Monday, December 04, 2006

Mom loved her socks. She even wore them the day after I gave them to her, even though they were wool and it was well into the 60's that day. Meanwhile, I finished the kool aid socks.The are a bit uneven, probably due to the fact I switched needles and methods several times throughout the process. They started on two circs and ended up on one circ, different brands every time (we all know needles aren't always consistent between manufacturers.) I also lost the instructions for the heel between doing the first and the second. Thus the second heel doesn't match the first.This is a bummer for me since my shoe wardrobe is nearly all open heel slides and clogs. You don't really notice it when they are on, and they fit very well, so I'm keeping them as is. I plan to purchase more of this yarn. It's KnitPicks dye your own (they've changed the name to Bare now). It's soft and warm. There is a nice sheen to it too. The kool aid dye took fabulously. Everyone that saw me knitting on these socks commented how much they loved the color.

Current knitting is hats for my MIL and SIL for Christmas. The holiday 06 issue of
KnitSimple had a whole slew of hat patterns and, although I had decided not to knit Christmas presents this year, I couldn't resist. I finished the one for my SIL in 2 days and should have the other one done tonight. The patterns are wrong (in my opinion) and produce hats that are way too short. I followed Stephanie's "Rule" for hats for the second one and it looks like it will fit better. After I get these done, I plan to cast on another pair of socks. I've still got all that six ply sock from the other month to knit up. And socks are PERFECT car knitting. Plus, I think I've finally got the method/pattern/rules memorized so all I need to carry is the yarn and needle.

In other news...Santa came early to the fuzzy faced creatures of our home. When Stuart and Quinn were babies, we had a pet fountain for them to drink from. However, it died a few years ago and we never bothered to replace it. Lately, Stuart insists on drinking out of the spigot. Whenever you brush your teeth, or take a bath, or wash your hands, he's right there on the counter trying to drink out of the faucet. It got to be just too annoying. So we broke down and ordered them a new fountain. Even after 2 or 3 years, Stuart remembered what it was. Here he is waiting for me to fill it.He tried every way possible to get water out of that empty fountain. I could barely stop laughing long enough to fill the darn thing. Here's Stuart a few minutes later.Happy as a clam. He played with that water and drank and played for 45 minutes straight. Quinn accepted it with her normal aplomb. When Stuart finally finished, she strolled over, drank a little, then laid down for a nap.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Another FO

The knitting is just rolling along! I finished mom's Online Supersockes this weekend.
Hope she likes them. These will be her first wool socks as well as her first hand knit socks so I'm anxious to hear her opinions. They turned out fairly identical, which I'm very happy about. I'm usually not to fussy about having identical socks, but since they were for someone else and the pattern is very obvious, I thought it was important in this case. I used the Dutch Heel. I'm not sure I like it though. It's very narrow and I'm afraid you may be able to feel it under your heel. Again, will have to hear what the jury says.

I'm back to knitting on the mix 'n mingle kit from Knit Picks. I've made it through one full repeat of all 8 yarns. I think Shamrock is my favorite and Suri Dream my least favorite. I found on the Suri rows I added stitches because I couldn't see or feel the stitches very well, it's just too fuzzy. I've wised up and added markers to mark the double yo's so hopefully I can stay on track now. Loving the Shamrock as much as I do, I'm tempted to order some to knit these stockings. But I'm really trying not to buy any more yarn until I finish the projects I have going (afghan, cardi, kool aid socks). I should have the socks finished by Christmas since I'll have plenty of car & visiting knitting time between now and then. The cardi and afghan are going to take awhile longer.

I took time out to get some of the Christmas decorations up today. I can't believe Christmas is coming so soon! Thanksgiving was great. We had a good meal and watched Miracle on 34th Street. My mom and I went shopping at a big mall on Friday, rather than going to our local stores. Although it was a lot of fun and really great to see the different stores, it was far more crowded than if we had gone local. Thus we missed out on some deals because the lines were just too long. I ended up doing about half my shopping online (gotta love Amazon!) I still have a few gifts to buy, but Chuck and I have a shopping trip planned in a few weeks when I have some time off from work, so we should be able to wrap it up then.

Monday, November 20, 2006

CC Tunic finished!!

YEAH! And it's about time. I looked at my notes and I started this sweater Jan 21! I finished it on Nov 18. Obviously, it was an on again - off again project. But well worth it.

Here are the stats: used 14 balls of Elann Peruvian Sierra Aran in Jasper and 1 ball in Oak. I used a size US 8 needle and got 4.5 st/inch. The sweater is thick and warm. I wore it today and experienced only the very slightest itch (I did where a thin shirt underneath). Despite the fuzziness of the yarn there was almost no pilling or shedding. So far, I truly love this yarn. The color is fabulous and it looks like it will wear like steel. I liked the pattern. It was very easy to follow and the sweater fits well. But I don't think I will knit it again. It's a lot of knitting. Knitting it in one piece is great in that there is no seaming up to do at the end. But toting around the whole sweater as it grows larger and larger made me not want to work on it except on cold days.

I knit a few Christmas gifts this weekend. Just little somethings. One is so awesome (hope the recipient thinks so too), I can't wait to post the picture, but it will have to wait. Now I'm trying to finish mom's socks and my socks. Then I'm planning to work my way down the pile of UFOs. It's not too big a pile. I've got the kitchen rug, the wool-ease cardi and the awesome KnitPicks afghan. The afghan will probably take the lead since it will be nice to have it's warmth on my lap this winter.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Charity knitting

Not much to blog about lately. Vacation was a wonderful week of decompressing. I did a good bit of knitting, we did some antiquing, and mostly just relaxed.

I'm trying to get caught up on reading the huge stack of magazines that has been piling up. The current issue of Vogue Knitting mentioned the Caps to the Capital project and it struck a chord with me for some reason. So last weekend I decided to knit some hats. The first one was made with leftover Opal 6ply and made a darling, soft, warm hat. While at Joann Fabrics, I picked up a skein of Red Heart in a color called Monet (a blend of purple, teal & yellow). The hat turned out really cute, but I really hate this acrylic yarn. It has a terrible hand to it, almost feels like plastic. Maybe it's just me. Maybe I've been spoiled by using good yarns! The third hat was crocheted with Wool Ease in a tan & green color. It had more of a trendy, hip look than the others which looked like traditional baby hats. Unfortunately, I was so excited to have made these little cuties and get them on their way to some needy little kiddies, I forgot to get pictures! I realized it about half an hour after I mailed them. I hate not having pictures of my projects, especially those that are given away.

In other knitting news, I'm nearly finished with the CC Tunic. Hooray! I'm on the homestretch of the second sleeve. With any luck, perhaps a good movie and some uninterrupted knitting time, I might even finish it this weekend. I've been alternating between the tunic and the two sock projects, but no real progress to show on any of them. Till next time, I hope to have pictures of finished projects to share with you.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Booze and socks and gloves, and one very bad cat

This is one of the neatest things I've run across lately. Creative Juice recently ran a program on Gifts for under $5 and showed how to make your own Coffee Liqueur. Here's my rendition...Very tasty and certainly cute enough for gifts. Although the batch cost more than $5 to make, it does make 4 jars so the end price would be less than $5 per gift.

My sister's Fetching gloves are way cooler than mine.Her choice of colors is perfect. For some reason, the first cable at the cuff came out loose on both of these. But at least they match and it just looks a little like a ruffle.

Mom's On Line socks are well under way. The bright colors are fun to work with.It's inspiring to knit with these self striping yarns. They make you want to keep knitting so you can see what patch of color will come up next. I used the Dutch heel from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks book. I wanted to do a Band Heel, but couldn't work out the math. This is the predecessor to the band heel, so I hope by learning it I'll eventually figure out the band heel. It looks awfully pointy to me. Mom's foot is much narrower than mine so I'm thinking this will be a good heel for her.

Here I am at the heel on the second kool aid sock.Had to hunt down the instructions on the internet for the no purl heel since I long since lost them (the heel on the first sock was done long around April I think!)
Here's my sock the very next day, after turning the heel.Stuart, aka grey cat, aka Jaws, aka menace to society has chewed right through the cable of my beloved KnitPicks Options. Believe me, I was not a happy camper when I lifted the sock and it's mangled needle from my knitting basket. I used to keep my knitting in a bag so the cats wouldn't bother it. But they'd been so good I switched to a lovely basket to keep my knitting in. Lesson learned. Keep the cables covered. Now I'm waiting for a new needle to come. At least I have plenty of other projects to keep me busy. And my vacation has officially started and I plan on doing little more than knitting and watching movies for the next week (some shopping, eating and sleeping tossed in of course).

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mighty fetching

I fell a bit off the wagon the last few weeks as far as yarn purchases go. I'd been pretty good since the summer of cotton, buying just what I was going to use right away. Then I finally finished the washcloth that had been my "purse knitting" and started back in on the kool aid socks. I started getting itchy for some sock yarn. So this...Ah yes, my dear love Opal 6ply in yummy pastels. From a lovely online retailer called Knot Another Hat. Now that the weather has turned cold here and I'm wearing my one and only pair of Opals (almost constantly I might add), I can not wait to get these on the needles. But I'm holding firm, I'm going to finish the kool aid socks first.

Next, I've made a lot of progress on the CC Tunic, as seen here as of tonight (yes, that's a cat butt in the corner, he wouldn't budge)...But as I neared the top of the back, I realized there's no way I have enough yarn to finish it. So I placed an order with Elann
(this one doesn't really count since I still had gift certificate money left so it was essentially free.) But just ordering the Sierra Aran I needed was going to leave me with only a few dollars left on the gc, so I HAD to find SOMETHING else to use up that last little bit. Hence this...Scholler Stahl 6ply sock yarn. Love these colors. Will be great with jeans, dontcha think?

Next, mom and I went to the Harvest Festival at Brickerville last week. At the yarn shop, Ball & Skein, I spied a display of, you guessed it, 6 ply sock yarn (this time from On Line) and made bee-line for it. Mom picked out the cool multicolor and I picked the green hues for me. I also picked up some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino to make the Fetching gloves from summer K
nitty.I couldn't help myself and cast on the gloves as soon as I got home. The result?
5 days later, gorgeousness. So soft and warm. I bought 2 balls since the pattern said it took every bit of one ball and another girl in the shop mentioned she made them and needed quite a bit of the second ball. I managed to get the pair from one ball with about 5 yds leftover. I've ordered yarn to make more.

Finally, I broke down and bought the Mix & Mingle kit from KnitPicks. I waited until I finished the body of the CC Tunic before casting on, but I just HAD to try this.
The yarns are really pretty together (this colorway is called Sea). The knitting is fast, which is good, but I still suspect this will be my winter knitting project since there is a lot of knitting involved.

So, verdict? A bit obsessed with the 6ply sock yarns at the moment? Definitely. Have enough projects to keep me busy even if we had a blizzard tomorrow and I was snowed in the rest of the winter? Probably. Going to stop before this gets out of hand? Too late!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

It's been a busy couple of weeks here in Peaceville.

I finished the 2nd machine knit sweater.
This one was knit using Bernat DenimStyle in Polo. I used the Fast & Fun pullover pattern from Bond America. If you remember back to spring, I used the same pattern to knit a sweater in Red Heart yarn. This yarn is MUCH nicer, so soft, almost sweatshirt like. I used a crochet caston technique for the hem and cuffs, gives a lovely braided look. The collar was hand knit. I also shortened the sleeves considerably from the orignal pattern as the first sweater's sleeves are way too long. These are perfect.

We finished up our painting this weekend. The place looks oh so clean and fresh. Check out the nifty light switch covers we found...
I had originally planned to go with wooden plates, but saw these at Lowes and couldn't resist.

Now that everything is back in place we decided to get festive. A tour of our fall decorating...

Yesterday I went to the local fall festival. It's a small affair held at the homestead of our little town's founding father, Issac Meier. They had a dozen or so crafts people their demonstrating different traditional crafts...there was a cooper (barrel maker), 3 spinners, a weaver, a hooked rug maker and several others. I was delighted to speak with 2 women who worked in the fiber arts. One dyed yarn using only plants and berries. It was completely fascinating listening to her. The other was selling yarn and wool from her and a friend's sheep. I got this interesting little thing from her stand.It's a little fair isle bag encasing a bar of soap. I'm complete enthralled by this. It's so cute. It's great to wash your hands with since it's like having a built in washcloth. I am fast discovering, though, that it's not so much practical to use. The wool holds too much water and is making the soap really squishy. I've tried to press the water out after using it, but it still holds too much moisture. But still, I'm liking the idea enough to perhaps try some for gifts. Maybe to use more as a sachet than for washing with. Or perhaps finer wool would solve the problem. This was knitted with worsted weight.

I haven't had nearly enough knitting time lately. I (finally) finished the first of the kool aid socks started way back in I think February. The second sock is moving along. I think Magic Loop is definetly the way for me to go with sock knitting. Much faster than I was on dpns. I'm still knitting on the Cottage Creations tunic. That thing appears to be never ending. I'm almost to the back neck shaping and then it's on to the collar and sleeves. I was trying to figure a way to knit the sleeves on machine, just so I could get it done, but since the body is knit in the round, it would be pretty cumbersome to inset the sleeves rather than knitting them on as the pattern calls for. So I just keep slogging away at it. I'm really jonesing for one of these KnitPicks afghan kits. But I keep telling myself no. I can't even finish the projects I have going! How could I commit to an AFGHAN! for heavens sake! But oh they are pretty!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Maybe not as good as I thought

Well, color me disappointed. It was cool and rainy today, again, so I decided to wear the new Main Line sweater. It's very comfortable, just the right weight, perfect color, but look...

PILLS! Hundereds of them. I've had the sweater on for a grand total of maybe 9-10 hours and it looks 5 months old. Very disappointing. Thankfully they come right off and a few minutes with the sweater shaver should solve the problem.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Ernesto came a callin' last night. The wind has died down some but it's still raining cats and dogs. Perfect weather to curl up on the sofa with my knitting and a good movie. Can't say so much for my movie selections, a B horror movie and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which was actually ok, but one of the very few movies I didn't like Johnny Depp's performance in. Want Johnny Depp at his best? See Pirates or Neverland). However, I quite enjoyed my knitting. I managed to finish the Main Line sweater. Here it is flat out... I wish I could get a good picture of the color of this sweater. These all look kind of pink to me, it's actually a gorgeous deep dark red color. This one is a bit closer in color. It fits much better than I thought it would. Although I knitted a gauge swatch on the machine and was right on the recommended 4.5 st/inch, when I went to block the pieces they came out smaller than they should have. It may be because I measured my swatches after washing and the yarn may relax a bit. Even so, I really like the fit. I couldn't be happier with this sweater. And with the cold rainy weather we've got this weekend, it was perfect timing.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Close but no cigar

I didn't quite meet my goal to finish my Main Line sweater this weekend. But I did pretty damn good. The machine knitting took about 7 hours total. You knit the shoulder seams together by machine and the sleeves are knit right onto the body, so right there you eliminate 4 seams that would normally be done by hand. But there's still a good bit of hand work to be done. I've knit the ribbing for the cuffs and am working on the bottom ribbing now.The pattern suggests using garter stitch for all the edges, but I thought ribbing would look better. I'm also knitting the bottom rib continuously so I won't have to seam it later. I still need to do the collar and seam up the sides and arms. The hand work will probably take me as long to do as knitting the whole sweater. But still, 14 hours for a whole sweater, for me, is awesome. Oh, and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this yarn. It is super soft from the high cotton content, but the wool makes it not so stiff and string-like like most cotton. The weight is fabulous, not too heavy. I used the recommended 4.5 st/inch and it's perfect. I washed my swatches before I started and it looks like this yarn washes up beautifully too. I'll definetly be buying more of this yarn.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Painting...during & after

Such was our zeal to start our painting project (yeah right), I forgot to get any before pictures. Here is the carnage as of Saturday afternoon...

Looking from the washer towards the entrance to the kitchen...
View from the entrance towards the washer and dryer...
Not much room to work in there. The washer and dryer got shimmied around like square dancers all weekend whilst we painted around them.

Painting goods galore on the kitchen counter...
And the same views now that everything is dry and back where it should be.