Friday, September 30, 2011

The things we do for our friends...

October 1st was my self imposed deadline for starting a Civil War shawl for my friend Kate.  I decided to start it early.  I finished up several projects yesterday and had nothing else in the works that could possibly be finished by tomorrow.  I decided, what the heck.  Live dangerously.  Start early.

And so I did.  Despite feelng my Confederate ancestor, General Johnston, glaring down at me from his portrait on the wall while I knit a shawl for a Yankee soldier's wife, I'm enjoying the project so far.  I'm knitting it from a Civil War era pattern and other than the fact that the terminology, including instructional terms, yarn weight and yardage are totally different from today's terminology, it's an easy pattern both to follow and knit.  In fact, it borders on mindless knitting.  Which means it's not only a good TV knitting project, it's also good travel knitting.  Which means, it should go pretty fast.

And I am LOVING the color.  It's pink.  A heathered pink.  I'm not normally a big fan of pink, but this particular yarn has caught my attention.  In fact, Kate will be lucky to receive this shawl because I keep thinking of all the other wonderful things I could do with this yarn instead.  But Kate is a dear friend and I will make this shawl for her no matter what.  No matter how badly I'd like to use the yarn for something else.  And even if she is a dammed Yankee.


Sorry.  No pictures until after she's received it.  She knows she's getting it, but she doesn't know exactly what it's going to look like.  I've decided to keep that a secret just so she gets to be a tiny bit surprised when she receives it.   Instead, here's a picture of Max getting caught howling at a bird in the yard.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

88 Days

88 Days to Christmas.  How is that possible?  I put that dammed Count Down to Christmas thingy over there on the side of the blog just a few days ago.  Just a few short days ago.  At the time, the counter was showing 101 days.  But today, it's suddenly screaming 88 at me.  88 days.  I am SO not ready for Christmas.

Ok, let's rethink this.  Get a new attitude about it.  88 days.  Plenty of time.  Right?  I mean, I don't have that much to do.  I just need to save some money, order some yarn, knit a few (thousand) projects, buy a bunch of gifts, wrap them & deliver them.  All while stuffing my face with homemade Rum balls.   We're going to need more rum.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Panic Mode

So, I'm in full knitting panic mode.  I've got way too many projects OTN and their unfinishedness is making me edgy.  Actually, more like full panic attacky.   I opened my Etsy shop back in August and I still haven't quite figured out  how to accomplish shop knitting while I knit for myself.  And now that the holiday shopping season is upon us, the kind folks at Etsy keep sending me  reminders to knit, knit, knit so that I have something in the shop to sell.  And of course I have these grand ideas about how I can whip up three or four shawls in an evening and if I drink an extra pot of coffee after dinner, I could probably knit a baby blanket or two as well.  Yeah.  Sure.  No problem.

So on top of having about 50 Etsy projects going on, I also have about 50 personal projects going on.  Well, okay, three personal projects OTN.  But way more than 50 still in hanks awaiting the needles and that's not even counting the Christmas gifts I hope to accomplish.   And then there's the Kate project.  I've promised myself I'm going to start the Kate project on Oct. 1st.   Meanwhile, I'm frantically knitting away at some of my OTNs trying finish as many items as I can before that 10/1 deadline.  Because once I start on Kate's shawl, I'm not going to work on anything else.  I'm afraid if I set Kate aside, even for only a moment, it will stay on the sidelines until the day before I've promised to have it in the mail.

So what exactly do I have on my needles and just how much knitting do I have to get done over the next five days?  Well, there's the baby blanket that I've stashed somewhere and can't seem to remember where, then there's the green Pi shawl from Hell

This thing has been in the unfinished pile so long I don't even remember what the pattern was and as you may or may not be able to see, the needle has come out of it.

Then there's the Lorna's Lace socks, which had also lost a couple of needles.

There's a heart shaped multicolored shawl,

A blue metallic shawl,

Game Day mittens,

Game Day scarf,

Ribbon Candy, of which I need at least 15,

A linen stitch scarf, which I'm super excited about although it knits up even slower than I run.

Did you happen to notice a theme with those photos?  Besides the theme of bad lighting & blurry photo taking?  Ah  yeah.  Anything with an "s" on the end, means I have a whole other one to knit.  As in, a second mitten,  a second sock & 14 more ribbon candies.  And did you notice the fact that the shawls were only measuring 5 or 6 inches while the scarves had less than an inch done so far?  Uh, yeah.  There's going to be a few late nights over the next five days.

And then there's the Kate project:

Although I'm complaining about knitting this, I'm actually looking forward to it.  The light pink yarn is the main color and it's to die for.  It's a simple pattern that should knit up rather quickly.  It's just that I'm going to have to do a bit of math before I start knitting, thus my aversion.  Once it's cast on though, I know it will be a happy knit.  I would like to get at least one of the above finished first though.  Wish me long, sleepless nights.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Holiday Charity Knitting

I finished the mittens and listed them for sale in my Etsy shop.  The colors are horrible in that photo, but in reality, they are very pretty.  The pinks and purples remind me of the inside of sea shells and make me long for a trip to the beach.   I was quite pleased with the yarn (Cascade 220 Paints.)  The colors didn't pool and it wasn't overly stripey.   The yarn itself didn't feel exceptionally soft, but the knitted fabric sure does.  If it hadn't have been for the fact that it was horribly humid out and in the mid 70's, I would have kept them on all day.  The photo is a bit ironic - mittens and flowers.  The real life colors looked good together though and it was raining so I didn't want to step off the porch.  Because of the cloudiness, the inside of our house was rather dark and dreary & lamp light really made the mitten's colors look strange in photos.

As soon as I finished those mittens, I cast on a new pair.  I'm knitting Game Day mittens.  In maroon, white & gold, of course.  Still haven't decided if they'll be true mittens or fingerless mitts.  I also haven't gotten very far in the knitting.  I had to take a knitting sabbatical yesterday & do laundry instead.  The entire family was out of clean socks.

If you are looking for a holiday charity knitting project, check out Wendy Knits.  She's helping to promote the Hats for Sailors program again this year.  I was only able to get a few hats knit last year.  Hopefully this year I can churn out quite a few more.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hats for Sailors

It's that time of year again.  Wendy Knits is showing everything you need to know to knit hats for sailors.

Think Pink

Because my On the Needles list wasn't long enough, I started a pair of mittens today.

The color is not showing up well at all.  Could be because it's dark outside and a few of the bulbs in our chandelier are burned out & since no one has bothered to replace them, it's almost as dark inside.  The yarn is Cascade 220 Paints and is a dark shell pink and purple.  I'm extremely happy with the striping, or lack of striping, I should say.  The mitten is not turning out stripey at all, neither are the colors pooling.  I sure hope the second mitten has the same luck.

The mitten is knit in plain stockinette.  I expected it to have lots of stripes so I didn't think a pattern of any sort would work well.  Even without a pattern, I think the mix of colors works on it's own.  I hope others think so too because these will most likely end up in the Etsy shop.

Here's a very bad photo of half a mitten on my hand:

And yes, our couch is a hideous olive green.  It's old and faded.  It used to be a pretty hunter green.  But still, a green couch?  What were we thinking?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Christmas Countdown

Woo-hoo!!  It's that time of year.  It's Christmas Countdown time!

Well, ok, it is a little early.  Even for me.  After all, I do seriously enjoy pumpkins & turkey.  Fall is my favorite season.  Wouldn't want to skip over it or anything, but my daughter happened to mention that it was 101 days to Christmas and well... After a bit of gasping & gagging and wondering how it could possibly be 101 days to Christmas, I found myself saying, "Really?  I thought it was sooner."

Sooner???  Please, no!  I'm barely ready to gobble my weight in candy corn.  I am NOT ready for Christmas.  It can not be Christmas time.  It just can't.

So I decided to go ahead & add the Christmas Countdown button.  Now I'll be sure to know how far behind schedule and desperate I am.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

True Love!

First, let me say how much I HATE my internet service.  I love my Verizon cell service, but my Verizon phone card internet service is the absolute pits!  And why do I mention this?  Because I just spent an hour typing this blog entry & inserting photos and getting it just so.  I pressed "publish post" and all my typing disappeared and the nice "You aren't connected to the internet, sucker!" screen appeared.  And of course it's dinner time and I don't have time to retype it all.  Argh!


I finished my Stacy Shawl from Wendy Knits Lace last night, blocked it this morning and unpinned it this afternoon.  It's Perfect!  Absolutely perfect!

As much as I love to knit shawls, I don't wear them.  I feel silly, old and fat in them.  Triangular shapes make me feel like I have a giant neon sign pointing at my overly large butt.  Any other shape makes me feel like I'm wearing a tent.  Because of my height & broad shoulders (a kinder way of saying I'm gargantuan) shawlettes barely cover my shoulder blades.  There just isn't much point in wearing them.  And long, rectangular shawls annoy the life out of me.  I never have figured out how to wear one and move my arms at the same time.   But the Stacy shawl is perfect!!!  The point in the back hits the small of my back, not my butt.  The side edges are the perfect length - the edge just barely brushes my inner elbow. Which means, it's long enough to keep my arms warm but not so long as to either bunch up in my elbows or to prevent me from using my hands.  It even stayed on me when I did the "It's Perfect!" dance.  And that was a pretty wild dance!

The photo is horrible.

For the life of me, I can't take a decent photo of anything large being blocked on the floor.  I probably need to stand in a chair to get a better angle, but...

I used two and a half skeins of Silk Wool and #8 needles.

I wish I had time to retype what I'd had before.  I'd blathered on about this shawl having a new way (for me at least) of casting on & starting the shawl.  I'd also discussed the fact that I liked my edging results better than the edging shown in the photo in the book.  Mine looks lacier.  Perhaps my yarn was thinner.  I didn't do a gauge swatch, nor did I measure my shawl pre or post blocking.  All I know is mine is perfect!

I also know that everyone is screaming for dinner and for some reason, they all seem to think I'm the only one capable of using the stove.  Argh.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Trying not to knit

It's our family's first day back to school, homeschool that is, and I am jonesing to be knitting.  Frankly, I'm not sure why I'm not knitting because we sure aren't doing school.  We haven't received half our text books yet so while today was clearly marked "School!" in bright red ink on my calendar, it's kinda hard to accomplish much without the books.  But I'm also afraid I'll end up blowing off school for the entire year if I start knitting during school time.  So I jones.

As much as I want to knit though, I have to admit that I'm secretly happy to have an excuse not to.  I finished the bulk of my Wendy Knits Stacy Shawl and now have only the edging to complete.  There's nothing "only" about it though.  Ugh.  I hate edgings.  Zillions upon zillions of rows are fine.  I can knit a row and know I have a zillion more to go and be okay with it.  But knit-on edgings.... Good grief!  They seem to go on forever.  I knit for an extremely long time yesterday, long enough for Hubby to make a few snide comments on my lack of anything else, and I'm still not even half way across the top edge.  Good grief.  The edging is pretty though and I know I'll be pleased once I finish it.  If I finish it.  I was hoping to be able to wear this shawl next week, but at the rate I'm going, I'll be lucky to have it finished by Christmas.

It doesn't look like much at the moment, but spread out it's beautiful and once blocked, it will be gorgeous. It's also purple, not blue.  It always amazes me how colors change in photos. Everything else in that picture is the correct color, but not the shawl.

Hmm, maybe I could sneak a few rows of border stitches in while the kids are reading their government books.  You won't tell, will you?

Friday, September 2, 2011

A Very Late Hurricane Post

Boy am I late posting this!  The next hurricane is swirling around out there in the Atlantic and I haven't even blathered on about the last one.  Sheesh.  But hey - better late than never, right?

As Hurricanes go, Irene was actually a bit disappointing.  At least from my point of view.  Personally, I love a good natural disaster.  I love watching a storm's ferocity, from the safety of my home of course.  I'm not a total moron.  And I love dealing with the storm's aftermath.  I'll admit, I get a kick out of survival and facing up to what ever challenge the storm presents.   Irene didn't present that many challenges for us.  Granted, a week later and a few miles down the road, they are still without power and we know two families who've had to abandon their homes due to the damage they sustained.  But for us personally, it was a pretty low key storm.

We'd gotten all of our storm preparations done on Friday and woke up Saturday morning to heavy clouds and thankfully, a bit less humidity than the day before.  By 9:00 a.m., there was a decent breeze blowing, and the clouds were turning a weird brown color, probably due to the wild fires burning in the Dismal Swamp, way to the south of us.

By 10:00 a.m., it had started to rain.  I broke out my redneck version of a rain gauge.

Ok, yes.  I should have my homeschooler's license revoked for that.  Sheesh.

I also realized that the one storm preparation I'd failed to make was doing the laundry.  Hey, give me a break.  Homeschoolers are notorious for not having their laundry done.  I frantically started throwing dirty clothes into the washer & praying the lights would stay on long enough to get the soap rinsed out.

By 11:00 a.m., the power was flickering steadily but not bad enough to affect the washer or the clocks.  I kept on cramming clothes into the washer & dryer.

At 1:00 p.m., we had our first tree come down.  Hubby started getting nervous and I started getting excited.  Boy, this is gonna be good!  The bad stuff isn't even supposed to get here until tonight.

Around 1:30, hubby got an emergency call to go fix a bank roof that had blown off.  I have no idea what they thought he was going to do about it in the middle of a hurricane, but he took off to check it out.  Turned out it was only the gutters that had come loose, but they were blowing around wildly & could have smashed windows or done some serious damage if they'd come completely loose and blown into a passing vehicle or a human.

At 5:02 p.m., just seconds after I'd bragged on Facebook about still having power, the lights went out for good.  Hubby returned home around 5:30 and we had sandwiches & ice cream for dinner.

After dinner, Hubby got the generator going and we watched the storm coverage on TV and I knit by candle light.  Luckily, I have a simple garter stitch baby blanket on the needles and boy, that snow white acrylic yarn seems to glow in the dark.  I was having no trouble at all seeing my stitches.  The news reported that a child had been killed in his home by a fallen tree.  Hubby started dragging the kids' mattresses down the stairs.   Meanwhile, the rain continued and the wind blew.

The wind didn't seem to be all that bad until we opened the windows.  I never realized how much sound our windows keep out.  But still, it wasn't That bad.  There were strong gusts of wind that would make you pause & hold your breath, but I never got that "is this ever going to stop" sensation from the wind.

We played Monopoly by candle light which is a lot more difficult than you'd expect.  At least for old, blind people.  The kids weren't having any trouble, but I couldn't read the board to tell what I'd landed on and I couldn't read my Deeds so I never knew if someone had landed on a place I owned.  I have the feeling there was quite a bit of good natured cheating going on.

We ate more sandwiches and polished off the ice cream and I lay down on my "bed" to read.  Ugh!  What a bed.  I'd planned to sleep on the couch but the family were camped out there so I lay down on a sleeping bag and a folded quilt on the hardwood floor.  And let me stress HARD wood floor.  All I can say is that my hips must be a lot skinnier than I think they are because, ouch!  Every time I rolled onto my side, I felt like I was laying on a bed of nails.

I finally fell asleep and was awakened at some point by my husband & son chatting excitedly.  The storm was "over" although we were still getting some fairly strong gusts of wind.  Their excitement was due to another earthquake aftershock.  Boy, those aftershocks just keep coming!

The next morning, I woke up bright and early with the sun gleaming through the windows.   I looked out and saw...   Not much really.

There were several other downed trees, but none of them were overly exciting or particularly photo worthy.  Our rain gauge had a bit of water in it and we were the proud owners of the only tree to fall and block our road.  Hubby broke out the chain saw.

Then I promptly tripped over a stick and face planted into the road.  Actually, I knee, hand, elbow, shoulder and back planted.  I saved my face, but every other single part of me ended up scraped and bruised and I have a huge, disgusting blood blister in the palm of one hand.  I look like I've got Jack Sparrow's Black Spot.  I also have a nice puncture wound in my right arm pit.  Eew!   All I can say is Thank God!  The neighbors hadn't ventured outside yet.  I don't think anyone saw me flopping around on the road.

After we got the tree cleaned up,  Mike cut a few more up/down that were infringing on the roadway and we chatted with the neighbors who'd come out to help.  We all chatted a while then I went back home in search of coffee.  Once the coffee was brewing, I went into redneck survival mode.


and hot water:

See those pots sitting on the tool chest?  They are full of water and after a couple of hours in the sun, you have hot water.  Hot enough to feel relatively comfortable about using it for washing dishes, even bathing if you have enough pots.

By 5:30 or so, the power was back on and we were cooking steak on the grill.

The next morning, I was happy to see (said sarcastically) that my "pet" spider hadn't suffered any.  He was even out of his tunnel enjoying the post-hurricane cool down & low humidity.

Sadly, I still have a looooooong way to go on that acrylic baby blanket.