Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Charity knitting

Remember this?

It was a shawl to be donated to raise money for cancer research.  Notice the word "was."  The yarn loved pattern and both knitter & yarn were quite happy, but, (and there's always a but) I didn't begin to have enough  yarn.  I'd put the project down not long after starting it because it was becoming quite obvious that the finished piece would barely be big enough for a hamster, much less a human.

With heaviness of heart, I frogged it.  Yesterday, I finally picked it up again and cast on for a semi-circular shawl.  And I ripped and cast on, ripped & cast on, over and over and over again.  The yarn simply refused to behave.  Actually, I think I was jealous.  I was working on it in a few different social situations & I think the yarn may have been jealous that I was focusing more on talking than on knitting.

Last night, while quietly sitting alone, I frogged it one final time & started over.  And perfection!  Ok, I'm only about 10 rows into it, but so far, perfection.  I may have to admit to myself that this yarn has jealousy issues and will need a bit of special care.  It does seem to enjoy late night Buffy though, so all will most likely be well.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

An Unnamed Post

Unfortunately, there's not much knitting progress to report.  I went for over 48 hours this week without knitting.   At all!  That is totally unheard of for me.  Instead of knitting, I read the fourth & fifth books in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  Thank goodness I've been able to find a few of the books at the library because if I had to buy them all, it would severely cut into my yarn budget.  I'm a little worried about how I'll survive tonight.  I finished the fifth book this morning & will be picking the sixth one up at the library tomorrow.  How will I survive the night without a book?  Of course, I have several hundred other books on the shelves waiting for me, but I don't want to start one of those yet.  I want to finish the BDB series first.

Let's see, what else have I been doing to fill the time?  Several days were spent in utter immobile panic over how lengthy my to-do list was becoming.  For the first time ever, I sat down & made one of those four-zoned lists with sections called Important & Urgent, Important but not Urgent, Urgent but not Important & lastly, Not Important nor Urgent.  I had a little trouble placing a few items that I really want to accomplish in that last category, but if I'm honest with myself, neither of the things are important or urgent. They are simply things I want.  Other than that, the list was fairly easy to make and I can not verbalize the sense of tranquility that came over me once it was done.  I now have a very clear picture of what needs to be done and when.  Or at least, which tasks need to come first.  I have to admit, it's a bit of a relief to give up worrying about sending out my Christmas cards this week since they are neither important nor urgent.  And yes, my Christmas cards.  I'm a bit late.  Seems to be a not-so-new tradition for me.  For the last few years, I sent Christmas themed cards at Easter.

I've also spent a lot of time worrying about my growing butt & gut lately.  I haven't run in almost a year and I really miss it.  Apparently I don't miss it enough to get out there & do it, but....   But I do miss it.  I miss the post run calmness.  I miss the excellent nightly sleeping, I miss the energy it gave me even as it calmed me.  I keep telling myself I'm going to go back to running but something always seems to get in the way.  I was even dressed for it the other day but I had to go rescue Hubby who'd locked his keys in the car.    Actually, that one was probably the only real excuse I've had.  All the others were pretty flimsy.   The other night, I "ran" the grocery cart across the parking lot back to it's corral.  While that tiny bit of "running" left me embarrassingly breathless, it felt great!  It made my legs realize just how much they missed it.  So today, I went for a walk.  I know.  Not a run, but hey - at least I got up out of this chair.  My plan is to walk at least 4 times a week for a few weeks then start running again.  I figure if I start now, I'll be capable of really running about the time summer hits & it's 100 degrees with 100% humidity outside.  Something to look forward to.

Today's walk did give me an idea of something to knit though.  More about that in a future blog.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Just a quickie

This is just a quick post so that the blog knows I haven't totally forgotten about it.  I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted anything.  And worse, I can't believe I have nothing to show for that time.  I don't have photos of 15 recently knit shawls to show you, I haven't been on some exotic vacation & thankfully, I haven't been hospitalized.  Honestly, it's been a rather boring 10 days.

I have gotten a little knitting done in my time away.  I've finished a couple of cowls and am half way through a third.  I've read four books from the Black Dagger Brotherhood series.  Which frankly, is the main reason I don't have more knitting to show.   I don't have photos of the cowls yet because I haven't gotten off my butt to do the blocking.  Hopefully, that will be taken care of tomorrow.   I still don't have photos of the beaded shawl because the weather has been so bad.  It's either blindingly sunny or blowing rain & neither of those conditions allow me to take photos on my porch.  And since the inside of our house either has no natural light coming in the windows, has too much natural light coming in the windows, or has weirdly colored walls that don't look so good in photos...  I haven't had the opportunity to go into photography mode.  But again, maybe tomorrow....

I really need to buy/build myself a light box.  But....

Ugh.  Can you hear the whine in my voice?  Ick.

Meanwhile, and to get rid of the whine, I think I'll go have lunch with a good friend at a nice Mexican restaurant. Yum.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A New Toy

For months and months and months I've been wanting an i-cord making machine.  I saw a picture in a magazine over a year ago of a bag that had been knit from i-cord.  Yes, they'd made a zillion yards of i-cord then used the i-cord to knit the bag.  I LOVED it!  But, I don't know what it is about knitting i-cord, but I swear, I'd rather scrub toilets.  Thus, my burning desire for a machine to make it for me.   And lately, as in the last month or two, I've had many other ideas for ways to use i-cord.

I finally broke down and placed my order.

Two days later, my new toy was sitting in my mailbox.  Now I just wish I could remember why I wanted it so badly.  Yes, there was that purse, but what else did I want to make?  Why has my every waking thought for the last three weeks been about i-cord machines?  If you have any ideas, please send them my way.  I'm at a total loss as to why I wanted the damn thing so badly.

It does work though.  It took a little fiddling, but within 30 minutes of unpacking it, I was cranking out i-cord.  Luckily, I was prepared for the fiddling part of the process.  Everyone I've ever talked to that has one & every on-line review I read reported that it was fiddly to start with, but once you got going it worked like a charm.  And they were right.

Oh, and I guess I should mention - I finally finished that #%%##% beaded shawl bind-off.  It took a little over six hours to do that final bind off row.  The process was simple enough, except that I kept dropping the beading wire.  And apparently my carpet is wire colored.  That darn wire would instantly disappear the moment it jumped out of my fingers.  What I don't understand is, why I haven't found any of the wires in my socks?  There's at least six of them down there on the floor under my feet.  You'd think at least one of them would have the decency to poke me.  Maybe the wires are down there getting together with all the beads I dropped.

But hey - on a positive note, I had enough beads to finish the bind-off.  Didn't even have to crawl around on the floor looking for dropped beads.  I had plenty after all.

And it's just dawning on me that I don't have a photo of the shawl.  Maybe on Tuesday....

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Beaded Bind-off

If this stupid migraine that I've been fighting for three days now will go away, or at least ease up a bit, I should be binding off the beaded shawl this evening.  Or at least starting the bind-off.  It may end up taking a few days.  In the last post, I was complaining that it took me an hour to bead the row that had 128 stitches.  I've gotten a lot faster at doing the beading, but still...  The bind-off row will have 1,024 stitches.  Yikes!  I'm also not sure I have enough beads.  I would bet you that I'll run out of beads within 3 or 4 inches of the finish line, except that either way, win or loose, I'm going to be short on beads.  Being short on beads is NOT going to help the headache.

I'm not bothering with photos of the progress I've made on the shawl because, really, it looks pretty much the same.  I've made some progress, but honestly, until it's blocked, it won't look like much.  I also haven't made all that much progress because I haven't been home to work on it.  It's been a rather social week.  Our homeschool bowling league started back up on Monday so that took up pretty much the whole day, Tuesday was spent at the mall with a friend.  And yesterday was spent eating too much and drinking lots of lots of coffee at a friend's house.

The trip to the mall was interesting and news worthy though.  Once a month or so, we meet at the mall and spend the day "exercising" by aimlessly wandering through the mall while our kids do what ever it is that teenaged girls do when they are at the mall.   This time however, the trip was a bit different.  The fire alarms kept going off, as in they went off probably 8 - 12 times while we were there.  The bell/warning signal would ring, lights would start flashing, there'd be an announcement asking everyone to please calmly go to the closest exit and evacuate the building.  Then the lights would stop blinking, alarms would stop ringing & all the shoppers would continue milling around in the mall.  It was very strange and surreal.

For now, I think I'll go grab my afternoon cup of coffee and a book & sit out on the porch and read a while.  It is gorgeous outside today!  The computer's thermometer says 60 degrees, but it has to be much warmer than that because we have all the windows open.  It's a beautiful, beautiful day and I should get out there and enjoy it while it lasts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bead Crazy

I've been a bit obsessed with beaded knitting lately.  Long ago, I learned how to string a zillion beads onto your yarn and knit something beaded, but I never liked the finished product enough to bother stringing those zillion beads.  And Heaven forbid if you were doing a pattern with the beads.  That meant you had to count the zillion beads and if you messed up counting, your whole project was screwed.   SO not worth the effort or the outcome!  But recently one of my knitting group cronies showed me how to put the beads onto the individual stitches.  No pre-stringing the beads required.  It's such a simple technique!  Time consuming, but simple.

Anyway....  I've been putting a few beads on lots of things lately and over the weekend, I started a beaded lace shawl.

I may still be working on this bloody thing when I'm 90.  It's a simple half circle dropped stitch lace shawl with beads on every other stitch of the increase rows.  The last beaded row took me a solid hour to knit.  I am not looking forward to the next increase row where the stitches will double.  Or the one after that.  Maybe it will be a shawlette, not a shawl.

Meanwhile, I'm off to go work on the taxes.  We have high hopes of getting them done early this year.  Ok, stop laughing.  And yes, I know.  That's a pretty radical idea for us and it will never in a million years happen.  But it's fun to dream.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

That was a first!

Last night was a first!  I woke myself up laughing.  I have no recollection of what I was dreaming, but I actually woke myself up laughing.  The deep, from the belly, spitting coffee all over the computer screen kind of laughing.  Very, very weird.  Way better than waking myself screaming, or worse, snoring.  But waking up laughing?  Very, very strange.

I also finished the basket weave scarf for my daughter late last night.  When I went to bed, she was laying on the couch in her pj's wearing it.  When she came down stairs this morning, she was still wearing it.  Either it's really cold in our house or she really likes the scarf.  I'll snap a photo if she ever gets dressed.

For now, I'm off to go spend an hour or two, or three or four reading.  I fear I'm about to totally abandon my knitting for a while.  I've discovered a new book series.  Actually, it can't possibly be new since I think there are 10 books, but it's new to me.  The Black Dagger Brotherhood by J. R. Ward.  Ever heard of it?  My SIL introduced me.  I'm not normally a big vampire story fan.  Ok, I know.  I've been totally obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer recently but I don't like it because of the vampires, I like it because of the romance, the action, the comedy and the sarcasm, not to mention I'm head over heels in love with Spike.  But the Black Dagger Brotherhood is good too.  I've only just started the second book so I'm not positive I'll like the entire series, but it definitely has potential.  Once again, there's plenty of action, a bit of romance, a bit of comedy/sarcasm and the sex scenes will make you sit up and say, "Oh my!"  The only problem is that the books' titles are enough to make a Harlequin Romance writer gag.  I may have to knit myself a book cover so that no one sees the embarrassing titles.  Thankfully, my library doesn't have many of the series so I'll be buying most of them - on my Kindle.  

Oh, and I love the vampire's names.  There's Wrath, Rhage, Zsadist, Vishous and well, I can't remember the others, but they all have great names.  Ok, I'm off to read...

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Axel & I

I've always loved Guns & Roses and apparently, Axel & I have something in common.  As the words to Estranged go...

"When you're talkin to yourself
And nobody's home...."

I've often wondered if anyone out there reads this blog at all.  Am I really just talking to myself?  

Apparently so!  I had the big book give-away contest yesterday, but nobody entered.  How embarrassing!  But then, it's sort of a good thing.  I'll put the book back on the shelf & try again later, as in, if & when anyone actually starts reading this blog.  

But the best thing about nobody entering to win?  It's proven to me that nobody does read this.  Which, if I stop & think about it, means I can be more myself here because I really am just talking to myself.  I have to admit, I'm slightly hesitant to admit to all my stupid mistakes and lack of know how here.  I mean, I am trying to be slightly professional.  I am hoping that this blog might one day lead someone to my Etsy shop, Jeannie Gray Knits.  But trying to sound somewhat professional is pretty boring.  So from now on, it will just be the real me and all my real idiotic escapades.  Just thank your lucky stars you can't hear me singing the song that's now stuck in my head...

"When you're talking to yourself
And nobody's home...."

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Knitting Green

I'm so excited!  My daughter asked me to knit her something that's actually doable.  Normally, she finds weird items online that aren't knit to begin with but she wants me to knit her one anyway.  You know, things like a silk vampire cape, a beautifully patterned silk kimono, a heavily ruffled prom dress....   And she'd like it by this Friday, please.  In a color that no yarn comes in.  But this time, we were walking through the Hobby Lobby looking for a mechanical i-cord maker (long story...) and she picked up a ball of yarn & asked if I would make her a scarf.  A scarf!  In a yarn that's actually sold!  And a store has the yarn in stock!  And I'm actually in the store that has the yarn in stock!  OMG!

Ok, so it doesn't take much to excite me these days.

We got home, I handed her a stitch pattern book & suggested she pick 4 or 5 patterns that she liked.  The pattern that she and the yarn both seemed to like best turned out to be a simple basket weave.

Ok, not the best picture.  It's actually a pretty olive green, technically Moss according to the manufacturer. It's Yarn Bee's Andes Alpaca and quite hairy.   Which is partly why Sarah liked the yarn so much.  She figured you wouldn't be able to see the dog hair on it.  Nice.

I was going to crop the photo but then I decided to have a give-away instead.  If you can correctly guess what my screen saver image is & you leave me a message in the comments, you'll be entered to win a copy of The Art of Knitted Lace.  For unknown reasons, other than my passion for book shopping, I seem to have two copies.  Both appear to be equally used so I'm just grabbing one off the shelf for the give-away.  I don't guarantee it won't have a coffee stain or a pencil marking or two in it, but hey, free is free.  Right?   Ok, let's see.  Let's make the deadline midnight on Friday.  I'll announce the winner on Saturday, get the winner's address over the weekend & mail it on Monday.  Oh, and let's make this offer good to anyone located in the continental US.

How exciting!  My first give-away!

Ok, now, who's still trying to figure out why this post is titled "knitting green"?  Two reasons.  One, I'm feeling horribly uncreative and two, both the scarf and the sweater on the cover of The Art of Knitted Lace are both green.  It's a theme.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Wow.  I can't believe how long it's been since I've posted.  Shame on me!  In my defense, it has been a rather crazy & unusual holiday season.  It was my first Christmas on Etsy and I went a bit obsessive there.  There was the fact that my kids' "letters to Santa" were digital this year.  And late, or at least my son's was.  He didn't give me his list until the 20th & of course I was waiting for his list to order everyone else's stuff.  It was also my first year shopping completely online.  I know.  Don't laugh.  I really am behind the times, but I have to say, it was awesome!  It wouldn't have been awesome if I didn't have a list of live links to work from, but having those lists, online shopping was awesome.  Of course, since I was ordering around midnight on the 20th,  55% of the items I ordered said they would not arrive before the 24th and the other 45% were due to arrive after the 27th.  I was dreading Christmas Eve.  My normal routine is to cry & scream in the kitchen while cakes fall, dogs jump up on counters and steal platters of food while my family act not much better than the dogs.  Also, we leave around 4 p.m. to head to my sisters and don't arrive back home until late.  I was expecting Mr. UPS Man to arrive with all those gifts somewhere around 3:30 p.m., smack in the middle of the worst of the crying jag.  Oh, and have I mentioned how much I HATE to wrap presents?  The thought of having 30 minutes to complete my crying jag, rescue my contribution to two Christmas dinners from the dogs, get dressed, and wrap all the gifts was adding just a tad bit of stress to my pour addled brain.

But that wasn't the worst of it.  There were two other issues.  First, I had a pretty bad reaction to a new medication and secondly, I discovered  Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.  I'd never seen Buffy before.  I know.  Once again, I'm behind the times & have apparently been living under a rock.  I'd always thought Buffy was some stupid annoying preteen show.  But I'll be the first to admit - Buffy ROCKS!   Anyway.... let's just say I became slightly obsessed.  I watched the entire seven seasons over the course of three weeks while totally ignoring my family, my blog and many other things.  I did however get lots of knitting done.

As for the reaction to the medication, ugh!  I have Rosacea & take medication for it and apparently, the country is experiencing a national shortage of Rosacea medication.  Weird, isn't it?  Anyway, the pharmacy  was out of my usual meds so they gave me something else.  I never read the warning labels because of that power of suggestion thing.  I'll instantly think I have every symptom on the list even before I swallow the first pill.  So, I took the new drug for a  month & went in to get a refill.  Meanwhile, about five days after starting the new meds, I started having some pretty weird problems.  I kept thinking of the coincidence of the problems starting close to when I started the medication, but there were other more logical explanations too.  First, I started having "girly" problems, but hey - I'm going to be 50 on my next birthday.  Time for some girly issues to occur.  Then the muscle spasms started.  First, it was in my neck & shoulder, but I had slept funny so a neck crick wasn't that unusual.  Then I started getting weird muscle spasms all over the core of my body.  Everywhere from my ears to my hips.  It was not fun and it was a little bit scary but I kept reminding myself that I'd been spending an unusual amount of time in a chair either at the desk or knitting, then eventually Buffy watching.  I wasn't getting any exercise at all so it was no wonder my muscles were doing weird things.  Then the lung cramps started.  They really scared me & I was pretty worried about a heart attack but the cramps would alternate between lungs.  One day, the pain was on one side, the next day, the other side.  Again, I chalked it up to no exercise and the start of holiday binge eating.  And then the GURD (or is it GERD?) started.  That was fun.  Nothing like vomiting every time you lay down while having a lung cramp that is preventing you from taking a deep enough breath to even blow your nose.  Again, I chalked the GURD/GERD up to massive holiday foods, specially late at night while I obsessively watched Buffy episodes.  Finally, it was time to renew my meds & this time I read the warning label.  Muscle aches, GURD/GERD, & stomach distress.  Oh yeah.  Except I think they could have used a better word than muscle "ache".   So, I called my doctor, got a different medication, stayed off all medications for a week (while my face exploded just in time for Christmas photos of course) and all the weird symptoms finally went away.

So, leading up to Christmas, things were kind of crazy.  But, the gifts all arrived in time, in fact, the last one to arrive showed up on the 23rd in plenty of time to get wrapped.  As for the kitchen related crying jag on Christmas Eve, it never happened!  My innards were still a bit tender & I just wasn't in the mood to bake much.  Actually, the thought of eating much of anything was still a pretty icky thought.  Hubby was a bit disappointed not to have rum balls but otherwise, he was actually happy I wasn't baking.  We both need to loose a bit of weight and having all those baked goodies around doesn't help the situation.

Christmas day rolled around & everyone seemed happy with their gifts.  I feel pretty bad for hubby though.  I had never wrapped his gifts & hadn't noticed it.  He didn't say anything about not receiving anything from me & I didn't give it much thought because we'd given each other new tires & a gym membership.  We weren't supposed to give each other anything else, but of course we each did.  Anyway, I didn't notice hubby hadn't gotten his gift until a few days later when I opened my dresser drawer where I'd had things stashed & found his stuff still laying there.  Oops.

But I got the best present ever.  Actually, I got two gifts that have me super excited.  One is a tote bag/purse-like brief case.  It's got room for lots of knitting, all my purse junk and my laptop.  I LOVE it!  No current photos of it.  Sorry.  One of these days.....   The other item came from my Mother in Law & for the life of me, I can't figure out how she came up with it.

It's a yarn bowl.  Sorry for the bad photo.  I'm not sure where I left my camera & that's taken with Photo Booth pre morning coffee.  Anyway....  I've heard about yarn bowls, seen pictures of them & thought it would be cool to have simply because I like gadgets.  But seriously, a yarn bowl?  A special bowl to hold your yarn?  What a waste of money!  Just use your knitting bag or a Tupperware bowl.  But I have seen the light!  This thing is AWESOME!  Besides the fact that it's hand made & pretty, it works amazingly well.  The yarn doesn't roll out of it, even when you hit a major snag in the yarn.  The yarn even seems to pull easier & more smoothly from the skein.  I don't feel like I have to keep  pulling the yarn out of the skein, it just flows naturally.  The bowl will also hold a stitch counter & a cable needle & when you are ready to take a break, you can plop your knitting into the bowl (it wouldn't hold a sweater, but it does hold a surprising amount of fabric) and have it all contained.  I LOVE this bowl!  Best invention ever.   The only problem I've had with it is that for the first few days, it kept giving me slight panic attacks.  I'd be sitting at the computer desk, watching Buffy DVD's and knitting.  I'd glance over, catch sight of the bowl out of the corner of my eye and go into panic mode because my soup bowl was too close to my knitting.  LOL  I have no idea why I kept thinking it was a bowl of soup.  If you are curious, this particular bowl came from here.

New Year's Eve rolled around and we celebrated in our traditional manner.  Hubby went to work, I took the Christmas decorations down (all but the tree) and the kids slept.  When I went out to take down the Christmas flag, I discovered that it was a gorgeous, gorgeous day.  I hung the snowman flag, said a little prayer that for once it wouldn't bring blizzards, mentally apologized to my husband & his business partner & took a break from cleaning.  Now, I'm sure you are wondering why I'm praying & apologizing over a flag, but Mr. Snowman seems to have super powers.  It's gotten to be sort of erie how our weather suddenly changes & the snow & ice hit as soon as I hang that flag.  Hubby has made me promise over & over again to never again hang it (apparently I like to break promises) and his business partner has offered me money not to hang it & threatened to burn it if I did.  Snow impedes their work flow so they aren't big fans.  Anyway, after hanging Mr. Snowman, I sat out on the porch & basked in the sunshine.  I was wearing a long sleeved t-shirt and actually got hot, almost sweaty!  It was that warm.  I never did check the thermometer, but it had to be close to 70 degrees.  Mr. Snowman is going to have his work cut out for him after all that warm sunshine.

For New Year's dinner, we (hubby) did the traditional grilling, but this year he didn't have to wear a winter coat, hat & gloves while he did it.  And as our tradition goes, we ate well then all went our separate ways within the house.  Twenty minutes to midnight, Hubby announced he couldn't stay awake any longer and within minutes, he was in bed & snoring.  The kids & I gathered to watch Dick Clark & the ball drop, we did our  New Year's hug & kiss thing then all went our separate ways once again.  Personally, I went back to trying to finish my book & gave a box of Oreo's a run for its money.  I was hoping to finish the cookies so that they wouldn't be here in the house today, but the Oreo coma struck before I could polish them all off.  Now I'm struggling with the moral dilemma of telling the kids they can finish them or hiding them for when I'm in serious "I Need Chocolate" panic mode.  Decisions, decisions.