Saturday, May 31, 2014

Serendipitous Octopi

How cute is this octopus?

I love it when serendipity steps into my life.  The other day at work one of the supervisors was talking about a cute octopus.  I only briefly overheard a tiny bit of the conversation but it stuck with me because you don't often hear the words "cute" & "octopus" used together.  When I got home, I checked my email & guess what I found - a free knitting pattern for a mini octopus.  It was fate.   I had to knit one.

I would love to include a link to the octopus's pattern designer but I don't have any idea who emailed me the pattern (I can't seem to locate it in my deleted emails) and the web address listed on pattern I downloaded doesn't exist.  If you recognize the pattern as being yours, please let me know.  I'd love to give the designer credit.  It was a super easy pattern that only took a few hours to knit.  Actually, it would have taken a lot less time if I was more organized & didn't have to search madly for my dpns & sewing needle.

By the way, have I mentioned how much I love my job?

Yesterday was a super slow day so, rather than doing what I'm paid to do, I got to spend most of the day knitting & reading.  I haven't had much time to work on the Christmas socks mentioned here but I am almost ready to start the heel.  And that means, it's crunch time.  The more I look at the sock, the more it looks like a wine bottle bag.  The question is, if this sock becomes a bag, what will I do with the second sock skein of yarn?  Decisions, decisions.  It's a lot of pressure to be under.

So, if you have any thoughts on Christmas socks vs. wine bottle bag, or if you recognize the octopus, please get in touch through the Comments.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday 5/29/14

It's Throwback Thursday & today, I'm looking back to May, 1980 & my senior year May Day parade.

To protect the innocent, I won't name names, but I'm the one in peach.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Wild Side

A few more squares have been added to the mitered square "thing" but not enough to make it photo worthy.  So, instead of knitting pictures, here's a few of the wild life at my house.

A late afternoon visit by our neighborhood deer.

Mr. Bunny,

It's no wonder I can't grow anything.  The other day, there were six rabbits (that I saw) in our yard at one time.

And then there's this.

I'm totally freaked out by this animal den.  I'm convinced the black panther lives in there.

You'd think I'd be more worried about the wasps & hornets building nests on my front porch, but nope!  Black panthers actually worry me much more.

The other day, I was outside when a thunder storm was brewing & I took a few pictures of it rolling in.

The pictures were taken only moments apart & show how quickly the storm was forming.  I like the contrast in colors.

And, to take my mind off black panthers living in my yard....  wind chimes.

 I love these wind chimes!  We were at the beach on 9/11/2001 & brought these back with us.  They've hung on my porch, year round, ever since.

What kind of wildlife do you have at your house?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mitered Squares how-to

I'm still knitting away on my mitered square "thing."

I'm currently 84 squares into it.  As you can see, it's ten squares wide & my goal is to make it 30 squares long so that it becomes a blanket rather than a "thing."  We'll see if my attention span let's it get that long.  Even with 84 squares completed so far, I haven't made a visual dent in the scrap yarn pile crate.  Having enough yarn should not be a problem.

I've received several questions about how I knit my mitered square "things" so I thought I'd try to answer a few of them.

This particular "thing" is knit with squares made from 33 cast-on stitches, fingering weight yarn & #2 needles.  Over the years & many, many different mitered square projects, I've discovered that I much prefer smaller squares to larger ones.   With larger squares, the large blocks of color stand out.  With smaller squares, all the colors tend to blend together & you don't notice one yarn's color clashing with another's as much.  And since I don't plan my colors in advance, not clashing is a good thing.  Rather than planning the colors,  I keep my scrap yarn in a large bin & just grab a ball out of one end of the bin & when I'm done with it, I toss it into the opposite end of the bin.  It's a very scientific method.

As for how I decide how many squares to put in a row....  I tend to knit five or six squares in a row, get bored & start the next row.  Sometimes I'll add on a third row.  Eventually, I come to the conclusion that my "thing" needs to be wider & I add on another four or five squares to the first row.  Next, I build the second & third rows up and I just keep adding squares in each direction until I'm happy with it's size, or, until I go yarn shopping.  When yarn shopping happens, the mitered square "thing" is considered "done" and I move on to knitting something totally different with the new yarn.   Yes, I'm monogamous with my knitting.  And that is why I call the mitered square things "things" until they are finished.  When I start one, I never know if it will be a coaster, a pillow cover, a table runner, a baby blanket or a full blown king sized bed blanket.  I should probably state here that while I dream of completing a king sized blanket, I've never come to close to making one.  Baby blanket size seems to be about as far as my attention span can cope with.  But one day....

If you are new to knitting &/or don't know anything at all about knitting mitered squares, here's a link to a  YouTube video that explains it fairly well.   There are a zillion other how to knit mitered square videos out there though so if you don't like that one, just try a different one.  It's really super simple.   I do make my center decreases slightly different though.   My preferred method is to slip one, knit two together then pass the slipped stitch over. (s1, k2tog, psso)

I am cheating on my mitered square "thing" though.  I needed an At Work project so I started a pair of socks.

Christmas socks!  Believe it or not, I've never knit myself Christmas socks!  I know!  It's shameful!

While taking that photo & realizing what a boring picture it is, I realized that the yarn & pattern would also make a cute wine bottle bag.  See?

I just might have to place another yarn order, except, this yarn is a discontinued color.  KnitPicks currently has it on clearance.  Hmmm, I wonder how much they have left.  I also wonder if anyone will notice if I order from them three times in less than one week.  Hmmm....

In case you are wondering, the yarn is KnitPicks' Felicity in the Jingle colorway.  This is the first time I've knit with Felicity & am enjoying it so much I went back & ordered a bunch more in different discontinued colorways.

I'm dying to put the mitered squares away & focus on the Christmas socks but I'm forcing myself not to.  The socks are going to be strictly at work/travel knitting.  Yes, they are.  I swear!

Yeah, I'll keep telling myself that.  Right up until the next yarn order arrives.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

ABC's of Knitting Terms

ABC's of Knitting Terms:

A = abbreviations
B = bind off
C = cables
D = dpns (double pointed needles)
E = entrelac
F = Fair Isle
G = gauge
H = Harlot, as in Yarn Harlot
I = interchangeable needles
J = join
K = kitchner stitch
L = longtail cast on
M = make one
N = needles
O = one-row buttonhole
P = purl
Q = quilt, as in The Beekeeper's Quilt
R = rows or rounds
S = short rows
T = three needle bindoff
U = unplied yarn
V = video's, as in the multitude of How-To videos found on YouTube
W = worsted
X = Xmas stockings
Y = yarn
Z = z-twist

Yes, I'm keeping it simple today.  And yes, I'm sort of cheating for the letters "V" & "X" but can you think of anything better?

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Help celebrate my birthday

Today is my birthday & to celebrate, I'm offering a 50% off coupon in my Jeannie Gray Knits Etsy shop for the next two hours.  Use coupon code "HappyBirthday" to receive 50% off your total purchase.  But hurry, the coupon is only good for the next two hours.

And yes, there's a reason for 50% & two hours but I am in no way admitting my age.

For a different birthday celebration, look at what I woke up to this morning.

Yep, two different packages were sitting on my porch when I got up this morning.  One from Knit Picks and one from Blicks.

Now, my only problem, besides facing my age, is deciding on which to do first - knit or draw in the art journal.  Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How I'd spend ten million dollars....

I came across a writing prompt recently that wanted me to explain how I'd spend ten million dollars.  Easily, I thought.  But I got to thinking, how would I actually spend that much money.  Yes, I could buy a football team & easily get rid of the whole ten million but I have no desire to own a football team.  What would I actually spend that money on if it suddenly landed in my lap?   It was harder to create a budget than I expected.  Here's what I came up with:

$1,000,000  for a sailboat & all the expenses that go along with a boat

$1,000,000 for a river house

$500,000 for a mountain cabin

$10,000 for yarn

$10,000 for books

$1,000,000 for my own yarn shop. (Owning my own shop has always been a dream.)

$100,000 for furniture for the two houses & yarn shop

$150,000 for clothes & jewelry

$500,000 for furthering my education

$20,000 for camera equipment

$5,000 for a new computer.  (I love my MacBook but it's starting to show it's age.)

$5,000 for office equipment/electronics (I could really stand to update every electrical gadget                       I own.)

$5,000 for business upgrades

$100,000 would go to charity

$50,000 for a new car

$1,000,000 for a European adventure

$800,000 for exploring the USA

$3,000,000 would be invested in hopes of living off the interest

$105,000 for health & well being (stuff like finally getting around to getting new eye glasses & running shoes...)

 $640,000 for other "fun" stuff like lunch with the girls, what ever catches my fancy, or if I've budgeted too low on anything else on the list.  After all, $10,000 for yarn may not be nearly enough!

So, how would you spend ten million dollars?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy belated Mother's Day

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day yesterday.  Mine was a little weird.  I never saw a single family member.  My daughter is still on her Florida vacation, the husband is working out of town, my son had to work the morning shift (he leaves for work about 2 hours after I get home from work,) I worked the evening shift (& left for work a few hours before my son got home) & my own mom passed away several years ago.  However, I received lots of virtual hugs from the family in the form of snail mail, phone calls & texts.  At work, all my co-workers & the "games kids" wished me a happy Mother's Day.  It was actually a pretty nice way to spend the day.  Work was slow so I had lots of down time to read, plus, I sort of felt like death warmed over.  I've been suffering from what I assume is pollen allergies.  I don't normally have too much trouble with them, but this year....  Phew!  I feel like I've been run over by six tractor trailers & dragged down the highway for a few miles.  And you should hear me try to talk.  My voice sounds like a 12 year old boy.  One minute my voice is weirdly deep then suddenly I'm talking in this high pitched squeak.  It's pretty comical.

At the end of the day, my boss gave me THE best Mother's Day gift.

Okay, so I know you are thinking I've totally lost my mind.  "THE best" gift is some used paper bags??  Well, actually yes!  They are deli paper.  Free deli paper.  Most with a super cute panda logo on them.  Knitters won't get it, but the art journaling world will.  The absolute coolest stuff can be created with deli paper & deli paper is (1) hard to find & (2) expensive when you do find it.  Free deli paper rocks!  Anyway, my department  head knew I got excited over free deli paper & saved a bunch for me.  How awesome is that?

Speaking of art journaling....

I'm still having a blast playing with gesso & paint.  I've made a new discovery though.  Gelatos.  They look like tubes of lip balm & anyone who knows me IRL knows how addicted I am to lip balm.  Gelatos are basically water colors in lip balm form.  How cool is that?  Way cool!  If you have the slightest artsy bone in your body & haven't tried Gelatos yet, do so.  Quickly.  Gelatos rock.  And when you combine Gelatos & deli paper.....  Words can't describe.

Okay, sorry.  This is supposed to be about knitting, not art journaling (although I may have to add art journaling to my tag line.  I really have fallen in love with the idea.)  As for my knitting, I'm on my 69th mitered square.  I think I was on the 62nd square in my last post.  Obviously there's not a lot happening in my knitting life at the moment.  And even less happening with my knitting to-do list.  I'm ashamed how behind I am on the knitting to-do list.  So ashamed, I think I'll go play in my art journal.   Playing in the art journal is a fantastic de-stresser.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Summer Shame

In the cold light of day, this is what my summer looks like.

Summers should be a time for relaxation but instead of chilling out by the pool, I go to work.  I really do love the job, but the hours are long.  And daily.  So, during my short time not at work, I have time to put something away or knit another row.  Can you guess what I choose?

So, let's pretend this is a nice picture of the progress I'm making on my newest mitered square "thing."

So far, I've knit 62.75 squares.  At the moment, it's ten squares across so it's still table runner size.  I'm hoping I'll have the attention span to turn it into a blanket.  So far, so good.  I really do love knitting mitered square after mitered square from left over bits of yarn in many, many colors.  It never gets boring.  Okay, let's be honest.  It rarely gets boring.

What else is spread all over my desk?  Coffee & a computer of course.  There's the normal officey stuff like a printer, calendar, pencil holder...  There's the yellow lace poncho, the white pi shawl, both still waiting to be blocked; the Fair Isle scarf still waiting to be kitchnered then blocked, the rainbow chevron scarf which has been delegated to the UFO pile and a couple of headbands waiting to be photographed & listed in my Etsy shop.  There's a pile of Prisma Color markers, baby wipes & many, many how-to & art journaling suggestion books.  Four art journals, each of a different size & style because, well, let's face it - I'm indecisive.  (Have I mentioned how much fun I'm having with art journaling?  It's part of the reason I'm only 62 squares into the mitered square thing.) There's a heat gun & a box of Bandaids.   There's the vase of beautiful carnations one of my writing group kids gave me, as well as the awesome bracelet one of them made.  If you look closely, you'll see a teeny, tiny box that a friend made with her new laser cutter. There are multiple packages & flavors of crackers & a half a bag of potato chips.  There's a jar of peppermint sticks.  The crackers tend to be my lunch & the peppermint sticks tend to serve as dinner.  And there's my two clear "work bags."  Anything I take into work needs to be in a clear container, even my cup.  One work bag contains a couple of small knitting projects for those rare down times at work when not much is going on.  The other is my "purse" & contains all the normal things like gum, lipstick, Tylenol, an ipod (work allows me to listen to my ipod) and the chargers for my ipod, Kindle (I can read during down time too!) & phone.  Notice I didn't include a wallet.  Wallets are not allowed although debit/credit cards are.  It's a long story.  Rather than keeping my debit card in my work bag, I keep it in my i.d. holder which is attached to my key ring to ensure I don't forget to take it with me.  It's frowned upon to show up for work without your i.d.

Well, that's all for today.  I have to go in search of my key ring/i.d holder.  Notice it wasn't there on the desk.  Hmmm....  Where could I have left it?  I hope I find it quickly because I need to leave for work.