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... 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? 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 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, 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 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 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!