Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The end of 2013

On this day where we both look forwards and backwards, I'm going to do my best to look forwards.  It's been a rough year.  First there was this:

And we got gallons of water in the house and had to move to an apartment for 3 months.

Then there was this:  Weight Loss

and a little over 9 months later we look like this:
My Daddy was diagnosed with two brain tumors in September, underwent radiation and surgery in October and is now on hospice.   I will treasure this photo forever:

I have two beautiful daughters (inside and out) and am profoundly proud of who they have become...and can't wait to see them on their life journey in 6 months.  I'll miss the devil out of them, but will be so excited to hear about the life they'll build for themselves.

 I have two of the sweetest and prettiest cats one can imagine:

I've knitted a whole bunch...and even started a new blanket to ease the travel time in the car.  Isn't it gorgeous.

Tonight David and I will go out and celebrate making it through all the tough times this year.  We will toast our weight-loss, the professional and crafting accomplishments we've made this year...

And we will ring in 2014 with a positive attitude.  I have decided to stash bust in 2014 (and following) as things have grown to embarrassing proportions.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Love, Happiness, and a Pair of New Socks!

This weekend was a momentous weekend.


I celebrated 23 years of marriage with my sweetheart on Saturday (though our anniversary was on Sunday).  We went shopping for new bras (yep, needed again...but hoping this is the last set) and dresses. I intended to buy 1 dress for going to dinner, but ended up buying 4 dresses and a sweater/skirt set.  1 dress for anniversary dinner, 1 dress for New Year's Eve dinner and the rest for wearing to work.  Here we are in sparkly dress #1 before heading to dinner.


A kitty sitting on my feet which are under a beautiful blanket that I knit.

A pair of finished socks:

Fire and Ice were completed about 15 minutes before we left for dinner on Saturday (thus the hint of fish-net stockings underneath).  I love them and am wearing them to work today.  And if anyone is wondering, I do not wet-block my socks before wearing them.  1: I'm too impatient and 2: I hardly see the need.

And of course finishing a pair of socks means that I've started a new pair (even though I currently have 4 pair (that I know of) on the needles...none of those are calling my name at present).  The yarn is Bertie Bots by GnomeAcres.  I'm using the Hickory pattern from my green socks that I made in August.  I love this pattern and I made it through the heel turn and almost finished with the gusset decreases on Sunday.  It was all I wanted to knit, so I revelled in it!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Birthday Boy

Today is David's birthday...the 12 days of listening to him tease me for being older than he is are over.

This is the hat I made him.  It's made using Zauberball Crazy and is just a plain-old-hat pattern. I made it generously sized so he can pull it over his ears for walking to work.  I think he looks quite adorable in his hat.

He also looks like a little kid!  I'm not sure how we're getting younger by the year rather than older, but I'll take it!

Thursday, December 12, 2013


I think every knitter realizes how delusional she/he is at this time of the year.  That feeling of knitting super-power that we had back in November became a reality check at Thanksgiving and now is a pitiful pile of self-doubt.  We know there are 13 days until Christmas...12 presents left to knit.  Even if we stayed up 24 hours a day and did nothing but knit we still wouldn't be finished.

We starting to rethink WHAT we're going to knit for people...looking for chunky yarn, quick projects.  I love all the posts coming around on FaceBook that promise "quickies"...2 hour cowls...that sort of thing.

I learned a long time ago...not from knitting, though...that I will not be able to finish everything I want to by the deadline.  I learned to let it go.  To give the recipient some hint of what they'll receive and hopefully have it finished by the end of January, so I can go back to my own selfish knitting for myself.

This year, I'm doing pretty well.  Thanks to the therapy wash cloth knitting, I have the office folks, the in-laws and my parents taken care of...not to mention having several extra cloths.  And now, I have both daughters and my mother also finished.  I'm starting David's Christmas gift today....

And speaking of David...he's a particular challenge.  He has a birthday on Friday (hat), anniversary on Sunday (cowl--starting tonight) and Christmas (socks).  His feet are huge...those socks will NOT be finished before Christmas.

And in the midst of all of this I had a sick day at home yesterday.  I knitted a lot...finished Alyssa's gift.  Worked on my Fire and Ice Socks.  I had visions of finishing it yesterday and wearing them to work today.  I got just past the gusset decreases...still 5" of foot and then toe decreases left to knit.

I was clearly delusional yesterday!

But now today.  I know that I won't finish everything.  I haven't even picked out the yarn for David's socks yet.  I honestly don't know if I have the yarn for David's socks yet.  I have the pattern but can't remember what weight yarn it requires and the poor fella can't wear wool...so I have to raid my stash for the appropriate sized yarn with enough yardage to cover those boats on the end of his legs...I'm thinking he may have mismatched socks if it comes down to it! ha!

I thought I'd do a throw-back Thursday picture today.  This is the very first sock I knitted.  Every step was an adventure and I knew that I was hooked as soon as I got going good on it--and turned the heel...I discovered that was a bit of magic.  The best advice I got was "just read the pattern and do exactly what it says...don't think about it."  And it worked.  I still love those socks and they still look amazing...Yarn:  Malabrigo Sock.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Holiday Spirit

I knitted up some pretty glitter headbands for the girls.  They work at a movie theater and I thought it would be fun for them to wear something festive.  I used Yarn Bee's Glitter Eye Lash yarn, cast on 10 stitches and knit.  When I was about 8 inches into it I decreased 1 stitch on each side for 2 rows and finished knitting the needed length with 6 stitches.  Then I bound off and sewed in.

One fun thing...weaving in the end is a breeze because you couldn't see it if you had to!

Finished product in less than an hour and way way fun.

The kitties thought so, too, last night.  I found this this morning.  I told A&E that they'd better come get them ASAP!

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Blur

This weekend was kind of a blur...as was most of last week.  Not because I did so much, really, but because I don't remember doing most of it!

Kind of like this:

This was one of the "action shots" I got of Pearl when she was acting crazy last night.  It was taken with my new phone (a blue iPhone 5C that I got on Sunday :) )

David and I took a picture before heading out to our friend's Christmas party on Saturday.  While not blurry, it was interesting not being recognized by people who know us.

I wore the hat all night...partially because my hair was out of control and partially because it's all sparkly and festive and perfect for a Christmas party.

Last night the girls came over and we had chili for supper (yum) and played a game called Fortune Street.  I worked on glitter yarn headbands for them.  By the end of the night my eyes were definitely blurry.  (it was particularly sad when I accidentally dropped 2 stitches when I was really close to being finished with the red one, and darn if I couldn't find them.  Had to rip all the way out...but at least it was a quick knit!).

Oh, and I finished Mom's Christmas present.  Daddy's is done.  Sam and Marilyn's are done.  Elizabeth's was finished a long time ago, the office people's are finished...now I just have to finish Alyssa's, START David's...and then finish those Fire and Ice socks for me because that's all I really want to work on...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Birthday Yarn

One of the good things about getting money for birthdays is that it always fits and I will always be happy with the present!

This year I got money from my parents and parents-in-law (as always).  And this year I bought this:

Five gorgeous skeins of fingering weight yarn from Gnome Acres.  They are the following colorways from top to bottom:

  • Mint chocolate chip
  • Bumblebee
  • Hermione
  • Pumpkin spice latte
  • 'Tis the season
Bumblebee and 'Tis the Season are "Sparkly Gnome"...and I love this...75% merino, 20% nylon, and (are you ready for this?) 5% "sparkle."  I can't make that up...they have 5% sparkle.  I think that's just adorable and perfect and made me really really happy.

Anyway, my plan for this yarn is more socks...at least that's what I'm thinking right now.  It could totally change at some time in the near future.  Hermione is definitely going to be Hermione's Everyday Socks...but not before I finish Fire and Ice and then the Bertie Bots socks...oh and all that holiday knitting I'm supposed to do.

Last night "all" I did was address 2 weeks' worth of bills, package up 14 gift bags for my student workers, and continue to unpack and organize stuff from the trip.  (I'm happy to say that all the yarn is back in its place AND has baskets to live in despite Pearl letting me know that this particular basket should be hers.)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Fire and Ice!

I'm in love.  Plain and simple.  Isn't it gorgeousness in sock form?

I can't wait to start its mate tonight.  After this, it's all holiday knitting until the holidays are over.  I'm on a pretty tight deadline with the parents' and in laws' stuff because I need to get that to them (or in the mail) fairly soon...

I am happy to report that I have a nice fat stack of dish cloths knitted up.  They have been great therapy but apparently I've moved on to socks now...the kind without any patterning on them, but something different.

 I'm in love with the yarn I got for my birthday and with my birthday money.  It's all such happiness I hardly know where to start!

OH!  Finish Fire and Ice (then it's Bertie Bots by GnomeAcres).

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday after Turkey Day Hangover

Boy, were things slow-going this morning.  I hope everyone had a terrific holiday and didn't eat too much and enjoyed time with family and friends.

I know I did.

I also spent a LOT of time in the car and did a LOT of knitting.  I finished this pair of socks.  They are the Across the Universe color way from Vesper yarn and are beautiful and wonderful and very comfortable.

And then I finished a hat for my Daddy.  Unfortunately I never took a picture of him wearing it like I planned.  It was the second hat I got out of a single skein of sock yarn.  Zuaberball Crazy by Schoppel Wolle is awesome!

Then I knitted on some dish cloths.  The reckoning when I got home showed 4 finished ones and a 5th started.  They are all washed and ready to pack up for office gifts and a few others.

Finally I started another pair of socks in the Fire and Ice colorway by Vesper.  I'm ALMOST finished with the first one.  Got a lot of knitting done on it after I got home on Saturday while watching football.  Those will, hands down, be my favorite socks ever. (until I make my new favorite socks, that is!)

I'm also happy to report that David and I did very well on our diet during our travels.  I expect to show a loss of a couple of pounds over the 2 weeks since I last weighed...he'll probably be about the same.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Birthday Day

David and I had a great day yesterday.  We slept in, went to a "natural foods" grocery store and ate lunch at the Happy Belly Deli.

Then we drove up to Mill Mountain and saw the star.

And then we drove over to Gander Mountain (the store!) and bought David a coat and some warm shirts and gloves...and me a coat.

Then we came back to the hotel for my daily knitting and then we went to dinner at 419 West (very good).  

Then we came back to the hotel and hung out at the bar for a bit with David's colleagues before going to bed.

It was a fun day and I'm so glad that I got to spend it with my sweetie!

And no cake, and I didn't want any or miss having any.  It was spectacular!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Now, this is MY kind of birthday cake!

I've been having a conversation with Mary over at Hugs about the fact that I'm not eating birthday cake this year.  I celebrate my birthday on Sunday...and I'm not eating cake...and I'm so good with that.  I'm not feeling deprived or that I'm missing out or anything.

And I'm 100% serious about that.

This won't be my first attempt at having a birthday with no cake, but it will be my first birthday without cake where I'm ok with it.

I mean, really.  I've lost almost 90 pounds...and even I look at myself and think "hmmm...girl, you're looking good."  I never think I look good even when I looked good.

And for me, that's far beyond the momentary pleasure that a piece of cake today at my office birthday party, a piece tonight at my birthday party with my friends, and a piece on Sunday--the real birthday...not to mention the cake that would likely be there at Thanksgiving because we need to celebrate the special day with everyone there too.

That's at least 4 pieces of cake that I'm not eating, but I'll tell you that given the opportunity I would have eaten much more than that.

So, in celebration of not EATING birthday cake, I wound up the yarn that I'm taking on my week long trip into yarn cakes...and that is MY kind of birthday cake.

This is Fire and Ice by Vesper and is the most gorgeous red, turquoise and teal striped yarn that I've ever seen.  I'm actually motivated to knit something besides a dish cloth on this trip...these will be going on my needles as soon as I'm finished with the ones that are currently on my needles (that's Across the Universe by Vesper).

And this one is Son of Spooktober, which is the October club yarn from Vesper.  It's just crazy fun with all those bright colors--with grey and black thrown in there too.

and finally, these are the 7 skeins of yarn that David picked up for my birthday from the Springtree Road yarn close-out.  I was so sad when she sent out a FB post saying that she was putting everything on Etsy and focusing her attentions on another craft...I love her yarn and just recently discovered it, and have only made one pair of socks from them, and they are my favorites hands down.  So, to now have 6 skeins of sock yarn and one skein of DK...oh my.  And they are all so incredibly beautiful that I intend to use up every single inch of them in making socks.  I figure after I get the first solid pairs, I'll have stripes.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I was bowled over...

...by this...

See that lovely soft green cowl around my neck?  It was a gift from a fellow knitter, Mary, who lives in Toronto and I've only met through e-mail and her blog... 

and she even put a sneak peek of it on her blog a couple of weeks ago and I didn't even know it was for me!  And I'm fairly certain it's her hand-spun yarn...and it's so soft and warm and gorgeous that as soon as I pulled it out of its packaging I knew I had to wear just the right thing to show it off today.

Thank you so much, Mary.  I know, because I've been reading your blog for a while now, that you put loving, healing thoughts into this cowl. That you put the energy into it that will help me through all this hurtful time we're "slogging though."

Your generosity is amazing, and I appreciate it, and will wear this with pride.

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm busy...and distracted...and it's a good thing

Last week I knitted up these 4 dish cloths:

And then on Saturday I knitted up these 4:

Top photo variegated yarns are Dishie from Knit Picks.  I have enough in each ball to do another one.

The other 2 from the top photo are I Love This Cotton by Hobby Lobby.  The resulting cloth is super soft.  Definitely more of a bath cloth than dish cloth.  I don't think they'd be sturdy enough to withstand actual scrubbing.

In the bottom photo, the two on the left are actually a snow man and Santa.  You can probably see the images if you click on the photo to make it bigger.  I used Lily Sugar and Cream for the White, and the Red is Dishie again.  The pink is also Dishie--and it's hearts.  The green one is a yarn I got from Discontinued Brand Name Yarns...I have a good bit of it and keep drawing it out of my bag, so my current knitting is also in this green.  I like how the lace pattern showed up, and it wasn't difficult to knit...remember I can't handle difficult knits these days.

On Sunday I got interested in knitting things other than dish cloths, so I worked on and finished David's hat.  Then I started Alyssa's hat.  Upon finishing up the laundry on Sunday I decided that I don't have enough socks, so I pulled out my current sock knitting...and I'm about half way done with the foot on the first sock.  That's like getting a major bonus in the sock knitting department, so I worked on that a little bit last night.

It was a nice relaxing weekend, also spent in my pjs.  I've needed that a good bit lately, and won't get pj weekends until December...we have travel coming up.  Any recommendations for yarn shops in Roanoke?

Friday, November 15, 2013

In situ

Dish cloths I made for my Aunt Betty while staying at her house which used to be my Grandma's house when I was in Texas for Daddy's surgery.  I think they look awesome in the place they're meant to be (and I've heard reports that they make washing dishes so much fun that she wouldn't let that coffee cup that's sitting in the sink sit there for 20 seconds! ha!)

Yarn:  Dishie by Knit Picks (probably my favorite).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Things that give me pleasure

Pretty kitties sitting in a chair.

Pretty stitches sitting in a row.
 (It's Trellis or Bee Stitch.  Yarn is I Love this Cotton by Hobby Lobby).

A weekend in my new pjs...too big, but oh-so-comfy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Hats and Cowls

Back when I was using my Nifty Knitter and making hats that were just "ok" but functional and definitely keeping me from going bonkers on the road, I had the idea that a hat without a top was actually a great neckwarmer.  (This was before I really understood or knew about the fashionable accessory called a cowl.)  So, I proceeded to make one that would NOT go over my head.  Turns out that the bind off on a Nifty Knitter is really tight, and the resulting edge has zero stretch.

But, still I knew it was a great idea.

Flash forward to my current prowess with knitting. I love making hats, and I prefer wearing cowls.  And considering that I hate knitting scarves, this is actually not a bad thing.  I like my cowls to fit close to my neck rather than be super-loose.  I'm just not the kind of girl who is going to dress with lots of fluff or items of clothing that will get in the way of doing things.  That said, a cowl, or more appropriately a neckwarmer, is just the thing for me.  It keeps my neck warm when I'm freezing outside, doesn't get caught up in the zipper of my coat, and provide a stylish accessory to go with and potentially match perfectly a hat.

Enter the Spin Cycle Set:

I made this hat the day after Daddy's surgery a couple of weeks ago.  I think he liked watching me knit on it and asked me about my progress every time I came up to visit him.  I finished it that night, and wore it up to show him.  Then the next day I cast on to make a cowl out of the same yarn.  I knit it almost exactly like the hat, having a shorter ribbing on either edge and making it about 5" wide.  The set looks great, is just the right color...and for now was the perfect knit.  It is easy to do (only 2 rows of pattern until the decreasing at which point you have to pay a little more attention).  Mary over at Hugs did a great job on this pattern and suggested just the right yarn for it (I used Noro Iro which is a nice chunky weight wool, silk and angora blend in the amazing Noro color changes).  Noro never disappoints me, but when it's used with the right project (such as a simple stitch like this hat and cowl) it positively sings.

Which makes me happy on this Tuesday morning before a real, serious cold front.  I'll let you know how warm it is tomorrow.

Monday, November 11, 2013


I truly hope you all had a great weekend.  Mine was just how I wanted it.

On Friday I sat down on the couch and was knitting away and I thought, "It would be heaven if I could park it here in my pjs and not get up until Monday morning."

David, being the awesome husband that he is, told me to rest.  He would wash the clothes, clean the kitchen and do all the other things to keep the house comfortable and I could rest.

I rested.

And I knitted.

And I could have used another day of it, but alas...

What did I make?  Well...dish/wash cloths of course.  Two of my favorite stitch patterns are here:

The first is "Star Flower" made using Knit Picks Organic Cotton.  It's a sport-weight cotton in natural colors (this one is called marshmallow) and is so soft that it won't be a dish cloth, but will definitely be a bath cloth...I may keep it for myself.

The second is called "Tiny Bow-Ties"...and I used a Christmas speckled cotton yarn line from Hobby Lobby called "I Love this Cotton."  It's surprisingly soft and was super easy to work with.  So far, of all the yarn lines available at the big chains (where I can shop in my home town) this is the best.

My favorite yarn overall has been Knit Picks' Dishie.  I made an orange to beige variegated cloth that is pretty wonderful...but I'll show that in a day or so.  No special stitch pattern on that one.

I also started a super-simple hat for David's Christmas/Birthday present (haven't decided which yet).

AND I ripped out the only sweater I've ever made.  I made it for my larger self...it now fits like a cape.  And while I'd really like a cape, this one is definitely a sweater that's way too big.  I have to say that I was terrified that it would come unraveled.  I can't believe how well I tucked in all the ends.  It's all finally unraveled though and it will become something else wonderful one day--maybe two sweaters...we shall see.

I really wished I could have stayed home again today, but I couldn't, so I'm at work wishing I was sitting on the couch knitting....

And, in case you didn't know it, it's going to be super cold here in a couple of days.  Freezing temps before Thanksgiving is really quite unusual...brrrr...

Friday, November 8, 2013

My First Knitting Project

Back in the day my Grandma was a very lucky lady.  She could enter a contest and would almost always win.  I remember wishing she would play the lottery when that came around.  I thought maybe someday down the line I'd get some of that money...but Grandma never played the lottery, so I don't know how lucky she could have been.

<I'm taking a break today from my regularly scheduled dish-cloth to discuss my first knitting project as part of a contest offered from Knitting Daily.  >

Back in early June 2011, at the Thornton Thimbler's Quilt bee, my Aunt Betty and I were talking about how I had never been able to learn to knit. I had tried, and failed, several times.  I wanted to learn, but I just wasn't having any luck.  I anticipated being on the road a lot that year and needed projects that I could bring with me, small portable things, that I could pick up and put down, that the bumping of the road wouldn't bother me and that I could have, at the end, a practical, usable, or wearable object.  Knitting seemed perfect, but I'm telling you, I was all thumbs.  I would get terribly tense and the end result was a very frustrated and aggravated me and some very tortured yarn.

I don't know why I gave it one more try.  Especially after that conversation with Aunt Betty, but I did.  And it was like magic.  Something "turned on" for me and the whole process made sense and in the end I had a very practical (and too big) hat.  I made it on Addi Turbo circulars using Fabulous Felines yarn from Yarn Market.com, and on June 25, 2011, I finished it and wanted to wear it to work even though it was 100 degrees outside.

I credit the Addi needles for my success.  The way my hands want to hold the needles and the yarn, I need something shorter than your standard straights. I wasn't clumsy using a circular and the whole process of knitting this little hat felt exactly right.

I was hooked.  I worked on my skills, knitted and knitted and knitted until it became what I do.  In the 2.5 years that I've been knitting I can't count the number of projects I've completed.  I have 68 projects on my Ravelry page, but I've done many more that for some reason I didn't put on there.

Sadly, the fate of that hat was to be ripped out.  I admitted it this summer...it was too big and while it was my first project, this WAS knitting and one of the beauties of knitting is that I can reuse the yarn for something else.  I wanted to make a monster to be like my calico kitty, so I ripped, reknit and ended up with this.

Zee Monster sits on the credenza in my office and makes people grin when they walk in.


If I am selected to win the prize for blogging about my first knitting project I would select the following 5 items from the Interweave Store:

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Indulge me

You'll have to indulge my fancy for knitting dish/wash cloths for a while.  I hope this doesn't bore you.  It isn't boring me, and I'm finding that it is a great way to get some knitting in (which I must do), make something practical (which I like to do), and not tax my brain during this overly stressful time in my life.

Indulge me in saying that 2013 has been a year that I will be glad to put an end to.  Starting with a tornado in February, in-laws diagnosed with cancer in March, my aunt who almost died with her lung disease in May, and my dad's recent diagnosis and surgery in September/October.  I'm just about wrung out and done for.  I will not tempt fate and ask "what else could possibly go wrong this year" because honestly, lots could and I don't want to experience it. 

Instead, I will, every night, find my thing to be grateful for...and during the day I will knit little squares of cotton that will keep me from going a little wacky during all of this.

I hope you enjoy today's sample:

It's a purple and white mitered square cloth that I finished Monday or so.  I really enjoyed making this and have plans for many more.  It's great when you have about 20g or so of one color, or scraps and bits.  It could look really cool with different colored stripes alternating with the white, though that could be an unmerciful number of ends to weave in...something to consider.

I didn't use a pattern for this. I just worked from my current knowledge of knitting mitered squares but instead of decreasing in the center by K3tog, I marked the center stitch and decreased one stitch on each side of it.  The end result is more of a curve in the middle than a point, but I like the effect for a cloth...plus I didn't have to go crazy counting stitches to find the middle and could knit and carry on a conversation with my family.  Always a huge plus.

I'll have more to say tomorrow about knitting these little cloths.  Trust me :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Surreal Land

I'm kind of at a loss of how to start this entry.  When I taught writing, I would tell me students, just start writing, something will come to you.  So I'm starting writing...we'll see where it gets me.

As you know, David and I have been on the Ideal Protein diet for the past 8 months.  Together we've lost just over 200 pounds and we look and feel like different people.  Just look at this picture of Saturday when we got dressed up to celebrate.

The Surreal Land part of this whole adventure was most poignant when I went shopping at Coldwater Creek in Tyler while we were there for Daddy's surgery.  Because I didn't know what size I really am, I picked up two of everything.  I always try on the smaller first just to see.  And man, I was shocked.  Not only was I down another size in pants (14 now!) I was also a size Medium in tops.  Shocking.  Truly amazingly shocking.  Surreal or whatever you want to call it.

I found a lovely black dress similar to the one in the picture but with a v neck and got a size 16.  It was too big, so I asked the attendant to bring one in a 14...they didn't have it but she brought this red one which was similar.  I thought, that one will never fit, but I put it on, looked in the mirror and said, "wow."

I mean seriously, this whole experience has been "wow."  And I once again am having difficulty understanding my SIZE and what clothes will fit me.  My reflection isn't what I expect to see.  

It's definitely surreal.  And awesome.  And I'm extremely happy!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Still Obsessing

I'm still obsessing about knitting dish cloths.  I've completely given in to the obsession and am not worrying about anything else.  If you're on my gift-giving list, expect a dish cloth or two (or three depending on how much I like you!)

This lovely little purple one was finished over the weekend.  Isn't it sweet?  The flowers are just perfect, AND it used up every single inch of the yarn.  I should have knitted an extra pair of garter rows at the top, but didn't have enough yarn.

Since I finished this one I made one in a stitch called "Bee Stitch" which I loved a lot.  Not only is it a really pretty stitch, but the way it looked with the speckled yarn is really cool.  Then I made one in purple and white stripes...this one is a mitered square.  I decided that while counting to the center stitch to decrease using the K3tog is possible when I cast on 31 stitches, it would be miserable when I cast on 80+ stitches, SO I cast on 40 or so stitches (I don't remember today), put a marker, cast on one more, then put another marker and cast on the equivalent to the first half.  Then I knit a garter stitch pair of rows and decreased on each side of the center stitch.  It worked perfectly.  I cast off when I had 5 stitches left.

I am now making one in purple again (for my hairdresser...he requested purple dish cloths).  The patter is called Crocus Buds and I'm doing something wrong, so I'm going to give it a few more rows during lunch today to see if I can get it right, and if not, I'll rip it out and start over with the next pattern in my booklet.

And you know what else is really cool and fun.  After I finish one in a color, I get to move on to another color.  This is so meeting all my knitting ADD needs these days!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dish Cloths

I have discovered knitting dish cloths.  During this busy, stressful time, I can't tell you how satisfying it is to knit dish cloths.  I would never have thought it, but there it is.  A humble cleaning cloth (because these could easily also be used as bath cloths) can be very satisfying and meet all my knitting needs right now.

I have made several over the past week.  They were perfect for sitting in the hospital.  I could throw them in a zip loc bag, tote them upstairs, work on them while I chatted or watched tv with Daddy and then tote them back down stairs when it was David's turn to come up.

ELNS asked where I got patterns and what yarn I'm using.  So, here's the low-down.

As part of my mental therapy getting ready for the long days in the hospital I spent days going through all the free dish cloth patterns on Ravelry.  I printed anything that looked interesting or wasn't a duplicate from ones I'd already printed.

Then I contacted Jimmy Beans Wool and asked them to recommend some dish cloth yarn.  They recommended Rowan Hand Knit 100% cotton.  I made one cloth from it and it was wonderful.  I'm glad I bought several balls so that I can make some more.  I bought pretty colors too.

I also did a little stash diving and pulled out anything that was 100% cotton and didn't look to "fancy" (i.e. would be better suited price-wise and look to be a scarf or sweater or something).  I used K1C2's Ty-Dy 100% cotton.  I think it might be a little soft, but the ball was huge and I got most of the dresses I made from it.  I love that it variegated in long strips from green to orange, so I have some really interesting dresses made from that yarn.

Finally, I shopped at Hobby Lobby, Michael's and a few other stores like that to get some readily available 100% cotton yarn.  The most available is Lily's Sugar and Cream, which is really nice and squishy and a super-great price.

While doing one pattern, I noticed the ad for another book in the upper corner of the print out.  I got on Amazon.com and bought that one.  I also shopped at Hobby Lobby and saw some great booklets and purchased a couple of those.  Dish cloth patterns abound...and once you get the hang of it you can always just make up your own pattern.

A few things that I think are important...garter or seed stitch edges to keep it straight.  Something interesting enough in the "middle" to keep you knitting...though total garter stitch really isn't bad.  Using wood needles is really important for most of these yarns, though I think the Sugar and Cream could tolerate metal.

And finally, just "wing it" sometimes.  I just knitted until it looked like the right size.  I figure I can't go too wrong with these things as they'll mostly be cleaning dishes or bodies or faces.

Today's picture is of the green cloth I'm working on right now.  I'm alternating 4 rows of stockinette with 4 rows of seed stitch in the middle and have a garter stitch border. I cast on 41 stitches, knit 10 rows in garter, and have 5 stitches on each end in garter.  It's pretty mindless, quick, and shows off this yarn (which I think it probably better suited to a blanket than a cloth, and may be making blocks from this yarn since I have several cones of it)...

And see...there's another benefit of going crazy knitting all these dish cloths.  In a pinch, you can put them together and make a perfect baby blanket!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Back Home

Thanks, all, for your patience while I was with my parents during my father's surgery.  Things look to have gone well.

It was an exhausting week, though.  I did get a lot of knitting done...a hat for my dad, a hat and cowl for me, several dish cloths and another set of "stuff" that I'm going to give as quilt bee gifts.

I did NOT pull out one single sock, but I made progress on my neon scarf as well as my color affection.

I hope this week looks good for everyone.  I'll have pictures to post eventually.  For now, I wanted to let you know that things went along, and that I got a lot of knitting done...

...and that I LOVE knitting dish cloths.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The right tools for the job

I think it's super important to have the right tools for the job.  For instance, trying to pull steamed cauliflower out of the steamer basket with a fork usually ends up in a mess.  David uses tongs, but I prefer a large spoon.  Mine and David's definition of the "right tool" is usually quite different...and comical when we start discussing why one tool is better than another.

Knitting needles work in the same way.  Have the wrong tip or the wrong finish and your project will be more chore than pleasure.  I have two instances where this has been brought home recently.

I'm knitting dish cloths at the office during lunch.  I brought the only size 7 tips I could find (My Addi Turbo 16" circular) and the only size 5 I could find (my Knitter's Pride Harmony interchangeable tips).  I knit my first dish-cloth using the Harmony tips.  It was like working with the exact right thing.  It went quickly and smoothly and happily.

The second dish cloth I started using the size 7 tips...and oh my.  These were too fast, too slippery and not the right tips for the job at all.  I only have the Harmony wood tips (and forgot to bring my size 7s to interchange to work today!).  But this hasn't been the most fun thing to make because the tool is the wrong tool.  I'll get it figured out, but in the meantime, i.e. during lunch today, I'll be knitting on "ice."

This got me to thinking when I was working on mom's socks this weekend.  I'm using my signatures, which I love.  I love the finish on them, which is just clingy enough to hold onto the yarn, but also slippery enough to be a fast knit.  The tips, however, are called "stiletto"...and for a reason.  They'd easily poke your eyes out and I'm fairly confident that they wouldn't pass TSA security.  These tips were the problem.  The Louet Gems yarn that I'm using is a 4 ply merino which means that the plies are pretty skinny since it's a fingering weight yarn.  It also means that because there are 4 plies that they push against each other and create a rather rounded yarn that splits easily with stiletto tips.  I decided on Saturday morning to switch out my Signatures for the Cubics that I have and it was like using a spoon to get my cauliflower out of the steamer basket instead of a fork.  My stitches were flying, I was no longer getting little snags...and I knit several inches on those socks in just a couple of days.

Exactly what I needed.  Happy progress!

Today's picture is of the progress I've made so far on Blish.  I am really enjoying working on this project.  It's big enough that I know I'll be working on it a while and has filled the void that was the Noro afghan.  Also...it's looking pretty awesome, don't you think.  And probably most importantly right now, it's not difficult. Only one row where I have to remember to do the cable twist, and everything else (until I get something like 406 stitches!) is just increase row, plain row.  The hardest part at this point will be to remember entering the row counts into my KnitMinder.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's finished

...and I have to admit I feel a little bereft...at sea...at a loss of which project to focus on next.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Some Advice Please

So, as you know I had some Awful News a few weeks ago...and now the Awful News will result in several days of hospital waiting time.  And I need projects.  Easy things that I can knit without having to do too much thinking but that can be beautiful and distracting all at the same time.  Advice? (links to the Ravelry page in the comments would be great).

I'm planning to take some socks I have in progress.  The Color Affection Shawl is really quite perfect for mindless, addictive knitting, so that will also be in the bag.  I've been working on some dish cloths for Christmas gifts, so that will be in the bag.

Which, when you really stop and think about it, is probably more than enough knitting for 10 days.  But that little word "probably" causes me issues.  What if it isn't.  What if I finish everything, get bored, or something else just as awful?

Because I know that laughter is the best medicine, I'm showing you a picture of Zora wrapped in bubble wrap.  She did this all by herself, btw.  She can be a very funny cat when she chooses.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The tipping point

...there's a pun in that title...let's see if you can figure it out.

I reached a tipping point in my knitting last night.  A critical spot at which I have to stop and say "either you finish up some projects or rip them out...or steal needles from them...because you can't buy more needles"...

Yep, I started ANOTHER new project last night. It's Blish which is a free pattern from Berroco.  I saw it and I loved it and knew that it was THE thing I needed to make for my new body.  I've been wanting a poncho and I think that this one is super cute.  Tailored and comfy looking. And won't pay much attention to whether I lose another 30 or so pounds...

I'm using some Malabrigo Rios yarn which is so gorgeous and soft.  I had originally started to knit a sweater out of the yarn but ripped it out when I started losing weight.

I also figured out that I'd been using the wrong set of needles for the hat that I'm making.  I found this out because the tips that I needed for the poncho were not in the hat like they should have been...they were in the bag.  I'm going to have to take the live stitches and put them on waste yarn and try on what's completed of the hat so far to determine if I'm going to have to rip that back or not...

(Trouble, I tell you...I have trouble...and I can't tell if the mistake I made is because I'm tired at night and not paying close attention or if I made the mistake because I can't see well and thought the size 4 needles was actually a size 5...Now, I HAVE glasses, but I hate wearing them.  Oh, the woes.)

Today I want to share a pic of Harold in his new home.  Yep, that's the shelf labeled "food" in David's office.  He looks pretty happy to be among books about food.  I think he'll probably spend a lot of time reading those books when David isn't around.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The long way around

There is joy in taking the long way around...I'm trying to convince myself that this is true.  The long way around will get you beautiful scenery.  You'll appreciate the effort it took to get there.  The long way around holds promise of great things to come and experiences to be had.

Because I know you've been missing it, here is a picture of the Noro afghan...

It's a nice big afghan...and very heavy.  I put it on my lap and let it all spread out and then I proceed to knit very long rows.

I find that my motions are very exaggerated when I'm knitting these long rows.  I find that it is very hard to hold up the weight of the portion of the blanket I'm working on.  My back and shoulders are definitely getting a work out.  For that reason, I'm only working on it 30 minutes per day.

And while I know I'm making progress, knitting the border of a blanket is definitely "the long way around."  I have 2 done, 1 about 1/3 finished and another side left.  I'm thinking maybe next weekend?  Then it'll get a nice soak and some warm sudsy water to soften everything up and it'll be a wonderful addition to my living room...

...and what this "long way around" is accomplishing is a framing of some other gorgeous work.  The blocks feel settled and all nestled together.  They feel complete.  It's definitely the right thing to do even if it feels like it will go on forever.

Monday, October 7, 2013

2 finished, 3 started

When David came home from his work-trip on Sunday morning he asked the ridiculous question, "how many projects do you have going anyway?"

I mean really?  Why ask that question. I  have a basket full of project bags sitting beside my place on the couch.  There are 2 shelves of project bags in my studio and a work table full of grouped yarns just waiting to be cast on (most of the time they're waiting on needles, but I'm not going to go there because that might inspire me to buy more needles, and I am NOT buying more needles just so I can start more projects!)

So, today, in the spirit of bragging, I will show you the two projects that I finished.  The first is a buttoned cowl.  It was intended to be a scarf, but I really didn't enjoy working on it.  As I was looking at the project bag on the shelf, I thought, "I just need to see how long it is and see if I can finish it off into a cowl," and guess what!  It's perfect!  See (and please ignore the messy hair...It was Saturday morning, early...and I was home alone...

I like the buttons...I think they are perfect with all the bright color right there at the ends.

As I was looking at the skein and a half that I had left, I thought "what could I make with that besides another cowl or a monster?" and it dawned on me that a matching hat would be just the thing, so I pulled out my book "Weekend Hats" and looked through for a worsted weight pattern, found one that I think will look good with all the long-color stripes and cast on.  (I needed 5 sets of needles for this thing and I'm happy to report that I did NOT have to steal ANY of them from another project).  The hat is pretty far along, and I'll post a picture of it when I'm finished.


Then I looked at Harold who has been sitting next to me on the couch for 2 weeks while I worked feverishly on the Noro blanket...with only one arm...and I told him I'd go ahead an finish that arm...and approximately 45 minutes later, Harold was finished.  Wow...2 finished projects and it wasn't even 10am!  woohoo!  Here is Harold sitting with Zora.  She isn't pleased.
In fact, she avoided sitting on that chair until Harold got taken away from it.  David has taken Harold to be his office monster.  I'll have a picture of him in his new home soon.

So, of course it was time to cast on for another monster.  I totally ignored the fact that I'm only supposed to work on monsters 30 minutes per day to preserve my thumb joint.  This was a different monster in different sized needles...and  I've been dying to knit a P monster to go with my Z monster (this one will be Pearl).  I'd bought 2 different yarns trying to decide which was best, and I went with the Blue Moon Fiber Arts' BFL Sport--mostly for the size of the yarn, but also because it had enough orange in it, and bright orange at that, to be more like Pearl.  As usual with these little critters, it's all I can do to limit my knitting on them.  She'll be absolutely adorable, but I don't have a picture yet because all she is so far is a tube.  Soon, though, personality will come through.


And finally, on Saturday afternoon, I decided to pay attention to that little bit of my brain that has been thinking about the Color Affection Shawl and picked out the yarn for it.  I don't know how it all happened, but the Satakieli yarn that I attempted to make mittens from (remember this) told me that it would make a really pretty Color Affection, or two, and that I needed to go ahead and buy the pattern and get it started because it would be a great travel project and it would be gorgeous and all that other stuff that yarn does to convince you that it needs to be cast on right at this very moment.  So, I cast on the blue as my main color and picked out the two oranges to be the contrasting colors and cast on.  I made it through the first section and started the first striping last night.  It's going to be gorgeous and cozy and all kinds of wonderful.

I can't tell you how much I like this yarn better than when I was working on the mitts.  This yarn is so squishy and soft and I can tell that once it's washed it's going to bloom and become all kinds of gorgeous and even softer.  It knits up very easily and quickly and the color is very true and rich.

So, now that I have bitten the Color Affection bug, I have already decided that the other two skeins of this yarn are going to make another CA...and maybe I could get three or four of them depending on how much of the yarn I have left when I'm finished with this one.  I thought about combining it with others of the sock yarn that I have in my stash.  This has started to get a little out of control, but I understand that's what happens with a CA...I'll keep you posted on where things go with it.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Home Alone

I like being alone.  I like being able to stop and think and talk to myself (yes, out loud).  I like (sort of) simple meals, simple clean-up and unhurried "getting things done."

I like being able to watch what I want on tv.

I like not being interrupted 300 times...

But I do miss having someone to talk to, to give me hugs and tell me things are going to be alright...to tell me that it's ok if I'm tired and weary, that they'll take care of things.

I guess I miss being pampered a bit :)

After a few days I really enjoy having all my people back around, but for now, I'm reveling in being alone, being able to do what I need and just relaxing and being quiet.  My mind clearly has needed time to process and think through everything.

My hands have needed to knit.

Clearly, last night, I needed to sleep.  I slept almost straight through the night.  That's something for me.

Today's picture is of the baby ensemble I finished up a while ago.  I loved working on this project and kind of wish there were more babies around me to knit for.  Tiny projects knit up quickly and then they're just so darn cute!  The booties were my favorite, though the sweater is pretty sweet...and of course that little cap.  This was all knit with one skein of Dream in Color Smooshy yarn.  The color is called Flamingo Pie.  If you've never tried it, Smooshy is special...it lives up to its name, the colors are gorgeous, and the feel of the yarn is so soft.  The hardest part is taking the skein and winding it into a ball because you just want to sit and "smoosh" on it.  I had a tiny tiny bit left of the one skein, and then a whole other skein (because the pattern said I'd need two)...guess who will have some Flamingo Pie socks someday???