Thursday, May 28, 2015

TBT - For the birds

It's Throwback Thursday....

Throwback Thursday, me holding a bird, mid 1960's

I've always loved this picture of me holding a robin.  Of course there's no date on the photo, but I'd guess it was taken somewhere between 1965 and 1967.  The picture was taken in my aunt & uncle's backyard and while I can't remember my own name half the time, I remember that the tulips on the dress were pockets and I had red patent leather shoes to match.    I was quite the fashionable young bird catcher.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Today's post will be about octopi because what else would I write about when I haven't knit a single stitch in four days?  Work has been crazy busy & the shifts have been long.  By the time I get home from work, I've only had seven or eight hours to eat, sleep, shower, eat again & get dressed in time to go back to work.  On top of that, it's been busy at work so I haven't had time to knit there either.  I'm starting to twitch from lack of knitting.  Or maybe lack of sleep.  No, I'm pretty sure it's lack of knitting.

So, what do I blog about when there's been no knitting for days on end?  Octopi!

One of my favorite supervisors defecting from  her life in Cash Control & moving out of state.  She has an odd octopus obsession & over the years, I've knit her a few octopus items.  Tomorrow is her last day & since today's my day off, I thought I'd quickly whip up a new octopus thing for her.  I hit Ravelry & typed "octopus" in the search bar .... and, well, I doubt I'll be giving her another hand knit octopus.  It turns out I've already knit her all the simple, quick-to-knit octopi.  I did, however, find some seriously awesome patterns that would have been a blast to knit.  If I'd started a month ago, that is.

Check out these awesome patterns.  There's an Octopus Tentacle Scarf.

 And there's this cool fair isle octopus hat.

And I found several different mitten patterns.  These are fair isle,

These are just textured knitting with what looks like bobbles,

And another colorful pair of fair isle mittens.

These would be great for using up little bits of left over yarn.

And then there's this free pattern for fingerless mitts which I absolutely love & may end up making for myself.

And of course there's octopus socks.

Look  how cute those socks are laid side by side.  They not only have octopi, they also have mermaids!

I can't fathom how long it would take me to knit these socks but I absolutely love them. 

And last but certainly not least, take a look at this octopus sweater.

It's knit in the round with stranded colorwork and the tentacles wrap around onto the back.

It's an octopus hug!

After looking at all these patterns, and wanting to knit them all for myself, I'm coming to the realization that maybe having an octopus obsession isn't such a strange thing after all.

Anyway....  Allison, we will miss you & we love you, just not enough to attempt knitting a pair of octopus socks in a single day.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT - Hospital Hair

I'm throwing back to 1982.

In traction, May, 1982
May, 1982
Celebrating my 20th birthday in traction with hospital hair was not a lot of fun, but I guess it could have been worse.

broken back, Henrico Doctors Hospital, Richmond, VA, May, 1982
May, 1982
I survived the windsurfing accident, the lengthy hospital stay, the bedpans, and the surgery.  I lived to tell the tale.  And all the cigarette smoke stunted the hanging plant enough that it didn't grow so big it smothered me in my sleep.  Yes, you could smoke in hospitals in the early '80's.  My roommate & I both smoked and all the nurses would come in our room during their cigarette breaks to hang out with us.  I'm a little surprised the air was clear enough to even take a picture because when you're in traction, there isn't much else to do but smoke.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On the needles

Today's OTN project is the Sweet & Simple lace hat I showed you on Sunday.

OTN, simple lace hat, knitting, #todayonmyneedles
On the Needles
As promised, it really is a very simple pattern to knit.  And as usual, I fouled it up.  Sort of.  I didn't exactly read the pattern.  I just skimmed it for the number of stitches to cast on  & the type of ribbing I was supposed to do, then I proceeded to knit.  Turns out, the pattern is written for flat knitting & I'm knitting mine in the round.  It also turns out to be an exceptionally easy pattern to correct for round vs. flat knitting so no major issues there.  Thank you, Knitting Gods.

It also turns out that I'm a lot closer to finishing the hat than I'd realized.  I'd never even read the pattern thoroughly enough to know how many pattern repeats I was supposed to do.  For the purpose of writing this blog post, I took a closer look at the pattern & realized I only have one more four-row repeat before beginning the crown decreases.  Cool!  I just may get this baby finished today.

And you'd think.... four more rows then begin the decreases... simple!  I should have this bad boy done within the hour.  But I'm not holding my breath.  Today's plan was to be super productive and I'm seriously failing the plan.  It's currently 2:23 in the afternoon & I've scratched one thing off my to-do list.  One thing.  One simple thing.  Good grief!

Although I know it's not the real reason, at least not totally, I'm blaming my productivity fail on my daughter.  She got her driver's license recently & today is her first time driving with a friend in the car.  And they are going places she's never been before & she's even more geographically challenged than I am, if that is even possible.  I sort of can't breathe and I'm terrified I'll never see her or my car ever again.  Oh, and did I mention it's getting ready to storm?

Yes, I am totally aware that I'm a psycho helicopter mom.  But she's my baby.  And I'd really like to have my car back.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Hats - Sweet & Simple

It's Sunday so you know that means hats...  And if you know anything about me at all, you know I like anything labeled "simple" so when a recent Ravelry search produced the Sweet & Simple Lace Hat pattern, I knew I'd found the pattern for me.

knitting pattern by Karen Marlatt
Sweet & Simple Lace Hat

A few minutes later, after retyping my Paypal password 50 times before I got it right, (I really should have chosen a simpler password!) I went stash diving for the perfect yarn.

I finally settled on Knit Pick's Hawthorne in the Goddess Kettle Dyed color-way.

fingering weight, kettle dyed yarn in Goddess colorway
Knit Pick's Hawthorne, Goddess Kettle Dyed
Sorry, horrible picture I know, but I'm trying to type this in the three minutes I have before I have to leave for work & I took the photo with my non-smart phone.  But hopefully you get the idea.  In real life, it's a beautiful, deep purple with slight variations in the color.  And I think it will knit up into an even more beautiful version of Sweet & Simple.

knitting pattern found on Ravelry by designer Karen Marlatt
Karen Marlatt's Sweet & Simple Lace Hat
Here's a slightly closer up photo that shows the stitch pattern a little better.  I've only knit a few rounds of the ribbing so far (darn pesky work!) but Karen Marlett, the pattern designer promises the pattern is a simple four row repeat & easily remembered.  Once again, you know how I like simple, easily remembered things....  And I think the Hawthorne will show off the stitch definition perfectly.

And now, my three minutes are up & I'm off to work.  Sadly, it's a beautiful day and the weather is perfect for theme park visiting.  I imagine I'll be busy & won't have a chance to knit on my hat.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

TBT - Daddy's Girl

Today we're throwing back to 1964.

Dad & I, Gloucester Banks, 1964
What can I say?  I was a daddy's girl.  In all honesty, I think I was daddy's girl for two reasons.  First, I drove my mother crazy; and second, my parents were older when they had me and they were beginning to run out of energy.  Dad was just so glad I was a girl & he didn't have to play football with me.

Speaking of my birth....

Today's my birthday.  To celebrate, I'm offering a 50% off coupon code for 3 hours today in my Etsy shop.  Stop by my shop between noon and 3 p.m. EDT, today and use coupon code "HAPPYBIRTHDAY" to receive 50% off your total order.  Fifty percent off!  It's almost as good as cake!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

It's my party

It's my party & I'll cry if I want to....

Hopefully I won't be crying on my birthday tomorrow.  I'm not THAT old.  Although some days I do feel my age.  But tomorrow won't be one of them.

Instead of crying, I'll be celebrating.  I'm throwing myself a Jeannie Gray Knits birthday party and you're invited!  Tomorrow, from noon to 3 p.m., EDT, I'll be offering a coupon for 50% off your entire order from my Etsy shop.  Just use coupon code "HAPPYBIRTHDAY" to receive your discount.  Mark your calendar and set your alarm because the offer only stands during those three hours.

Another reason I won't be crying...

a birthday present camera bag to hold all my stuff
Nikon Camera Bag
I got an early birthday present.  It's a new camera bag and I'm pretty excited about it.  The one that came with my camera held just the camera and one extra lens.  There wasn't even extra room in it for my phone.  It also screamed "I'm confused.  Am I a camera bag or a very small padded cooler?" This new camera bag screams "I'm rough and rugged and ready to carry anything you want, anywhere you want to go."  Besides having removable padded space to hold the camera and two extra lens, there's also room for a laptop or tablet, my phone, a week's worth of makeup (because you never know when you'll need to freshen up out on the trail) a water bottle (or 2 or 3,) a jacket or sweater, and a smallish knitting project.  And if I only include one knitting project, there's still room left over for the kitchen sink.  You know how I like to be prepared.

Birthdays are so much fun!  Don't forget to come join me for virtual cake & a 50% discount tomorrow between noon & 3 p.m., EDT!

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Today on my needles

The Hawthorne scarf is growing, albeit, slowly.

knit scarf or shawl,
Hawthorne Scarf
 The majority of my recent knitting time has been overlapped with email reading time and I don't trust myself to do the 'knit 2 together's' while I read so I haven't spent as much time as I'd have liked on this project.

scarf or shawl available at
Hawthorne Scarf
Although it may be coming along slowly, I'm still happy with the way it's turning out.  I absolutely love the color combination and the shaping is working out as I'd hoped too.  As you can see, one end is currently 'skinny tie' width while the other end is becoming 'shawl' width.

And then there's my 'at work' project.

knit hats for sale at
Striped Hat
This one's pretty boring to knit.  It's plain stockinette in the round, on #US2 needles.  So, yeah.  Lots of knit, knit, knit, over and over and over again.  But that's okay.  All those knit stitches mean I don't have to concentrate so it's super easy to set down & pick back up when work interrupts my knitting.

It also means I can read and knit at the same time.  I'm getting lots of trashy romance novels read while I knit.  I just keep praying that the security cameras are focusing in on the fact that I'm reading while knitting, and not focusing in on what I'm reading.

But about the hat....  Like I said, it's just simple stockinette, round and round and round on US2 needles.  The yarn is Paton Kroy Socks in the Eclipse Stripes colorway.  I'd bought the yarn with the intention of knitting socks, not a hat but .....   I love the colorway so much I'm going to have to buy more so I can knit the intended socks.  Actually, I might order enough to make arm warmers too.  Even though it's quite masculine, I really do love the striping.

And off the needles...

hand knit VCU Rams hat with pompoms
VCU Rams Hat
It's a VCU Rams hat.  In real life, it's not yellow, it's VCU gold.  A year or two ago, I stumbled across Red Heart Team Spirit yarn in local school colors at my neighborhood big box craft store.  Even though it was acrylic and Red Heart, neither of which are my favorites, I bought a few skeins.  Knitting this reminded me how much I dislike knitting with acrylic yarn but I did get to play with my pompom maker, and I used up an entire skein from the stash pile so I guess it's a win.

coupon codes for
On a totally different note.... Thursday is my birthday & I'll be throwing myself a party in the Etsy shop.  Stay tuned for the details.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sunday Hats - Princess Bonnet

It's Sunday Hats day and there's a new princess on the block so I'm sure you know what that means...

Kate and William's baby, Princess Charlotte style bonnet or knit newborn hat
Princess Bonnet by Linda Castles
Wouldn't your little prince or princess look adorable wearing this bonnet? 

The pattern is a Linda Castles design and can be found on Ravelry here.  The bonnet is knit with fingering weight wool and uses short rows for shaping.  Knit in creamy white, the bonnet is quite royal, however you could knit it in traditional pale pink or blue to girl or boy it up.  Or just go crazy with color for the newborn rock stars out there.

Even though I don't have any little princes or princesses coming into my life any time soon, I just may have to knit at least one of these precious bonnets anyway.  Although newborn sized items are fairly quick to knit, it's always nice to have one or two items on hand for emergencies.  You know... Those emergencies like when you know you'll need a baby gift in nine months, yet you wait until 20 minutes before the baby shower to start knitting....

Oh, and Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

TBT - Birthday Boys

May is a big birthday month for our family and today, we are throwing back to celebrate two May 9th birthdays.

My father-in-law, Rex, who is deeply missed and my nephew, Mike.

happy birthday Mike J.
Mike J.
Yes, another Mike in the family.  My extended family is odd like that.  My husband & my nephew are both Mikes.  Besides my husband & nephew sharing names, my mom & my sister's mother-in-law shared a name, as does my nephew's wife & my daughter.  The same goes for birthdays.  My nephew & my father-in-law share the same birthdate, as does my mother-in-law and brother-in-law.   All the similarities make it extremely confusing when we gossip about each other.  

Happy birthday, guys!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Exciting times

We've had lots of hair raising, heart thumping, exciting times in the Jeannie Gray Knits household recently.  First, there was that whole Babadook experience.  My pulse is still racing.  There were several hours worth of conversation with the girl child regarding what made the movie so scary.  Things didn't jump out at you, much.  and it wasn't bloody & gory, at least not much.  Neither of us could put our fingers on exactly what made the movie so horrifying.  The dog bothered us both but beyond that, Sarah wasn't really able to voice what scared her, yet she readily admitted to blocking her closet doors shut & sleeping with the lights on for a night or two.  For me, the idea that the Babadook came out of a children's book was upsetting.  And the mom's breakdown reminded me of those early motherhood years of postpartum hormones and sleepless nights.  Those sleepless nights especially can make a mom go a little batty.  But still, what was it about the movie that was so terrifying?  Even after a lengthy conversation, neither of us could put a finger on it.  How about you? Have you seen Babadook?  Were you totally freaked out?  What did you find so scary about it?

Next up on the excitement list.... Avengers, Age of Ultron.  Sarah is a Huge Marvel fan and she intends to one day marry Captain America.  Me, I couldn't care less about the comics, but I love anything Joss Whedon touches.  I love his style of humor and sarcasm and how his characters interact with each other.  And, well, Thor.  Thor on the big screen always gets my heart pumping.  And then there was the group of eight seven year olds who sort of sat behind us.  They got the heart pumping too, but not necessarily in a good way.  It was so frustrating.  We went to an early show and there was hardly anyone in the movie theater, yet this group of eight seven year olds and one mom sat in the row directly behind us.  Then they proceeded to talk, yell, shush each other and run up and down the steps throughout the entire movie.  Sarah & I were both ready to turn around & go all Hulk on them.

Once Sarah and I had finished our individual "I hate seven year olds" rants and had stopped coming up with all kinds of fun, torturous things we would have liked to do to those kids for interfering with our time with Marvel, Captain America, Whedon witticisms and Thor, we then proceeded to have a long and lengthy, and sometimes heated, discussion over the actual outcome of dropping a small island on a large city.  Would it really cause global destruction? And would the dust cloud be worse if the island was intact or already turned into dust/rock chunks when it fell.  I have to say, I was impressed with Sarah's scientific knowledge and our discussion made me sad that we have finished our homeschooling years.  The argument would have made for an excellent homeschool science project.

And then there was today.  Today was the most hair raising, exciting time of all.

My baby got her drivers license.

driving all by herself.

And off she went.  All by herself.  Without me.

I'm having a hard time letting go.  I sure hope Captain America is out there somewhere, looking out for her safety.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Blaze orange & the Babadook

It may not be actual blaze orange, but it's definitely bright.

cabled knit hat
And it was a lot of fun to knit.

I came up with the design after watching Hinterland on Netflix.  The show takes place in chilly Wales and the detective was wearing a similar (but boring brown) hat throughout the series.

The hat is knit with the wool I dyed last week.  I love the slight variations in color and the tiny flecks of white that are a result of the yarn being tied too tightly during the dye bath.  I also love the pompom.  Generally, I don't like wearing hats with pompoms.  They wiggle & the motion irritates me.  I've always despised making pompoms but I recently broke down and bought a pompom maker and now I'm slightly obsessed with making them.  At the time, I thought I was nuts to spend $6 on a pair of plastic pompom makers, but I'm glad I did.  They work SO much better than cardboard circles.

And since we were speaking of Netflix.....  Have you seen Babadook?  Holy Moly!  My daughter recommended it.  She says it's her new favorite movie.  So I watched it last night while I finished up the blaze orange hat.  Holy sh*t!  Twelve hours later & my heart is still racing.  At one point in the movie, I jumped so badly that I stabbed myself with the cable needle and drew blood!  Drew blood with a cable needle!  Not a pointy lace knitting needle, but a blunt tipped, wooden cable needle.  Holy smokes!

And can I say, I'm not even comfortable typing the word, "Babadook."  Good grief!

And speaking of movies.... Sarah & I have a date this afternoon to go see the newest Avengers movie.  I'm oddly excited.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sunday Hats - Cuba Street

It's Sunday so naturally, we're talking about hats.  I stumbled across Cuba Street totally by accident, and I'm so glad that I did.

hat pattern by Nikki Jones on Ravelry
Cuba Street by Nikki Jones
I was searching Ravelry for  shawl patterns & made a major typo.  I cleared my search & thought I'd typed in the proper search terms but instead of shawls, I got an assortment of all kinds of things and this hat was one of them.

knitted hat pattern by Nikki Jones on Ravelry
Cuba Street, a Nikki Jones design
At first glance, it was just another striped hat, except it's not 'just another' striped hat.  Cuba Street is fair isled, or color worked.... or what ever you want to call it.  I love the little band of color around the beginning of the brim and how the hat could be crazy colorful or knit with only two colors.  The pattern would also make excellent use of those little balls of left over sock yarn.  Or, knitting it in 'new to me' colors would be an excellent excuse to go yarn shopping.  My favorite kind of pattern!

Cuba Street is a Nikki Jones design and seems to be quite versatile.  It's a unisex design but could easily become sexist by use of color.   I love how the hat is slightly slouchy but I think that if I didn't want slouch, I could leave out a pattern repeat and it would be okay.  The pattern is written for sport weight yarn but in the description it states that fingering weight could be used.  I prefer hats knit with sport weight but for some unknown reason, I rarely have much sport weight in the stash pile.  And you know what that means.....  Yarn shopping!!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Reflections on hiking at Three Lakes Park

Did you miss me?  I don't know what happened to yesterday's TBT post.  I had one scheduled, but it disappeared.  I guess that will teach me to schedule posts in advance instead of blogging live.  Oops.

I don't have much knitting to show you.  I decided to go hiking instead of spending my time off this week knitting.  I've been wanting to get into hiking.  Damn Pinterest!  While looking for examples of hats, I came across pictures of hikers and it looked like fun.  And something I could do.  Hiking is just walking, right?

Of course, my daughter is laughing at me for wanting to become a hiker.  She knows I'm just in it for the shoes.  (And a cool backpack.  She doesn't know me as well as she thinks she does.  There's just something I love about an awesome looking, well worn backpack.)  Sarah also laughs at the idea of me hiking because she knows how I feel about going for a walk around the block.  It's just way too much effort.

But the idea of hiking through nature.... wearing cool, well worn and well fitting boots and toting that special backpack....  Of course my backpack only contains water & the camera.  Even in fantasy land, I don't think I'm ready for overnight hiking.

Anyway... Sarah & I packed up our cameras & water bottles (minus the cool boots & backpack.  I need to go shopping.) and 'hiked' around Three Lakes Park.

lake at Three Lakes Park

We saw lots of pretty reflections on the water.

creepy vine at Three Lakes Park

Lots of creepy vines.  And poison  ivy.  And frequently, the creepy vines were surrounded by poison ivy so I'm wondering if the creepy vines are in fact poison ivy vines.  Probably.  What else would create such a deadly looking vine?  Ick.  Makes me itch just to think about it.

Three Lakes Park

We saw lots of geese and one followed us for the longest time.  I imagine they think humans mean food.

Three Lakes Park

And we saw a  heron.

Three Lakes Park

 And Mr. & Mrs. Mallard feeding in a leaf & pollen strewn swampy area.

Three Lakes Park

And some pretty flowers.

Three Lakes Park

And this bridge.  I was fascinated by the lines of the bridge.

Three Lakes Park

And thousands of turtles.  Well, maybe not thousands, but many, many turtles.  Turtles of all shapes and sizes and colors.

Three Lakes Park

And lots of big fish that creeped Sarah out.  She doesn't like the way fish "just hang there in the water with their eyes bugging out, looking at you."  And as you can tell from that photo, it's spring in Virginia.  Lots and lots of pollen floating on the water.

After our hike, I came home and played with yarn and food coloring.  I'm proud to say that I did not dye my hands a weird color this time.

yarn for knitting

I turned boring white yarn into

bright orange dyed with food coloring

burn your retinas, day-glow orange yarn.

Hmmm...  I just noticed - the new orange yarn is almost the same color as the turtle.  How cool is that?