Sunday, January 31, 2016

January in Review

January was more productive than I'd realized.  I knit lots of mini wallets, some with keychains attached.

knitted wallet, tea tote, gift card holder
Pink Keychain Wallet

It's amazing how much I can fit into one of those little pouches.

mini wallets & tea totes for sale at
Keychain wallets & tea totes

I finished the Marigold socks.

hand knit socks for me.
Marigold Socks

And I knit five hats.

knit hat with octopus button
Octopus Hat

ladies knit hat with whale button
Whale Hat

womens knit hat with snowflake rhinestone
Red Snowflake Hat

charcoal gray hat with snowflake button
Charcoal Gray Snowflake Hat

knit slouchy wool ski hat
Slouchy Hat

Not too shabby.  I'd say I put a fair sized dent in the knitting to-do list this month.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Knitting Polygamy

It's hard to make much visual progress when you practice knitting polygamy.

knitted cabled hat, hat with cable brim,
Cabled brimmed Hat

The new design for a cable brimmed hat is coming along, albeit slowly.  The cabled band has been knit, stitches have been picked up and I'm working on the crown.

Hitchhiker scarf and 2 hats being hand knit

The green, Stroll Tweed watch cap is another inch or so of ribbing further along and the Hitchhiker has 16 teeth and two not very noticeable errors.  One error is extremely minor - one tooth has an extra garter rib in it.  The other error is only noticeable when the teeth lay pointed to the left.  For reasons unknown, I switched from garter stitch to stockinette stitch for about 15 stitches in the center of a row, way back near the beginning.  As long as the teeth point to the right, you can't see the mistake at all and I'm okay with that.

knitted mitered square afghan blanket knit with sock yarn

And the mitered square afghan has quite a few more squares now.

Mentally, I'm struggling with having all these projects going at once.  Normally, I prefer to have only a Current Project and a simple, Stockinette in the Round project on the needles at one time.  I like to keep a simple stockinette project handy to work on while reading or in-the-dark movie watching, while the Current Project is the 'real' thing I'm knitting at the moment.  Last week's blizzard caused a bit of cabin fever, I'm afraid, and the result was a few too many projects going at once.  And now, I'm caught in that 'I can't decide which to work on' trap.  I'd like to finish the hats so I can list them in my Etsy shop, I want the Hitchhiker done so that I can wear it this season, and I want to work on the mitered squares afghan because it's fun, colorful and I'm using up scraps.  The result of that indecision is that I've been logging way more time playing computer solitaire than I have been knitting.

Ugh!  Knitting Polygamy.  It's a knitter's worst nightmare.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Autumn in Alta

Well, this post is loooooong over due!

hand knit poncho
Autumn in Alta Poncho

I'm finally getting around to showing you my Autumn in Alta Poncho.

wool poncho hand knit
Autumn in Alta Poncho

I finished knitting it back in mid October but didn't get around to blocking it until the week before Christmas.  There's nothing like the excitement of having a huge, giant brown poncho spread out over your dining room table the week before Christmas, let me tell you.

hand knit wool poncho knit with worsted Wool of the Andes wool
Autumn in Alta Poncho

I'd put off taking pictures of it because (a) it was 79 degrees at Christmas and just way too hot for modeling a heavy, wool poncho and (b) I sort of hated the finished piece.  Right after blocking, I'd tried it on and looked in the mirror and immediately decided I looked like a huge giant Hershey Kiss and would never be seen in public wearing the poncho.  I liked the pattern and I liked the wool I used.  Honestly, I think the tweedy brown is a good color for me.  But the combination of the poncho's shape and my body shape....  Well, Huge, giant Hershey Kiss.

But, part of the whole Fascinating Fridays 'thing' is me getting out of my rut, me getting over things like my Hershey Kiss shaped body and getting on with life & living.  And part of life and living was modeling my Autumn in Alta poncho.  Modeling it for the camera and showing you the outcome.

As it turned out, I don't mind the photos.  I don't think I look quite as much like a huge, giant Hershey Kiss as I thought I did.  Granted, you aren't seeing the pictures where I look like I'm about 18 months pregnant, pregnant with triplets.  But I'm okay with the pictures I'm showing you.

As for the poncho itself, the pattern was well written and it was a super easy knit.  Beginners would have no trouble with this project.  Experienced knitters might find that much solid color stockinette somewhat tedious, but that tediousness made it the perfect 'knit while I read or watch TV in the dark' project.  And if you're curious, I used Wool of the Andes in Lava Heather and #7 & #9 needles.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A 2016 Reading Challenge

Have you heard of the Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2016 reading challenge?

a reading challenge, book list, reading suggestion list
Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2016 Reading Challenge

While I realize it's a Wednesday, part of my Fascinating Fridays goal is to get out of my reading rut and read something, preferably more than one something, out of my normal reading comfort zone.  About the time I was coming up with the idea to have Fascinating Fridays, I stumbled across the Modern Mrs. Darcy's Reading Challenge and I'm so glad I did.  It's perfect!  It's challenging but doable with lots of flexibility. The book categories are broad enough to encompass just about anyone's taste while maintaining a challenging aspect.  And as long as "read 12 books from 12 different categories in 12 months" means read 12 books in 12 months from 12 different categories, count me in.  Care to join me?

For January, I'm reading Charming by Elliott James.  It falls into two of the challenge's categories - it was recommended by a friend and I already owned it.  I may wait until closer to the end of 2016 to decide which category box to check off.

Meanwhile, between Charming chapters, I sobered up from the Blizzard Watch to kitchner my Marigold socks.

hand knit socks
Marigold Socks

And because that's a little blurry...

hand knit socks
Marigold Socks

That close up may be blurry too, for all I know.  I'm desperately past due on an eye exam and updated eye glasses and, horror of all horrors, the auto-focus on my camera has died.  I'm having to rely on Manual mode and (a) I don't have a clue how to use Manual Mode and (b) I can't see well enough to tell if the camera is focused properly or not.  But the good news is, I have two things to add to my Fascinating Friday to-do list - get new glasses & learn to use my camera.

But back to reading.  If you decide to join me on the challenge, let me know what you're reading. Heck, let me know what you're reading whether you join me or not.  I love to talk books.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

On the needles

No knitting monogamy for me these days.  Currently on the needles,

knitting garter stitch hitchhiker scarf
Hitchhiker Scarf

A few teeth have been added to the Hitchhiker scarf, but nowhere near as many as I'd hoped to have done by now.

knitted hat with cabled brim
OTN 1/26/16

I had an idea for a new hat design.  Good thing I took the picture because it looks like I have some frogging to do. I didn't noticed that cable goof until I was cropping the photo.

knitted watch cap
Watch Cap

And the very beginnings of another simple watch cap.  This one is being knit with Knit Picks' Stroll Tweed in the Lost Lake Heather colorway.  And I just noticed the yarn is on sale.  I see a bit of shopping in my future.

I'm still adding a block a day to the mitered square blanket but I didn't bother photographing it again so soon.

Well, I'm off to do a tiny bit of frogging, knit a mitered square, and contemplate ordering more yarn.  I'm not sure there's much point in ordering anything online for a while.

mail box covered by snow. No mail delivery for a while.
Jonas Blizzard of 2016

It will be August before our mailbox is accessible.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Digging out

Blizzard of 2016, #blizzard2016, #snowzilla, #snowmaggedon2016
33 hours & still snowing

It snowed for a little over 35 hours.  But today, the sun is shining and we are starting the digging out process.

Blizzard of 2016, #blizzard2016, #snowzilla, #snowmaggedon2016

It's going to be a while before my car sees pavement.

Blizzard of 2016, #blizzard2016, #snowzilla, #snowmaggedon2016
01/23/16 Jonas Blizzard

Yesterday at noon, our life looked like this.

Jonas, Blizzard of 2016, #blizzard2016, #snowzilla, #snowmaggedon2016
Noon, 1/23/16

Today, the dogs have said Hell No! to the snow.

Jonas, snow, Blizzard of 2016, #blizzard2016, #snowzilla, #snowmaggedon2016
Hell No!

I think our dogs may be a bit spoiled.  Here's their path to the outside.

Jonas, Blizzard of 2016, #blizzard2016, #snowzilla, #snowmaggedon2016
The dog's path

Here's ours.

Blizzard of 2016, #blizzard2016, #snowzilla, #snowmaggedon2016
Our path

We've got some digging out to do.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Blizzard of 2016

So, we're having ourselves a blizzard.

2016 blizzard

It started snowing yesterday around 11:00 a.m.

blizzard of 2016

These photos were taken around 4 p.m.

snow 1/22/16 2016 blizzard

Had to get that flag photo in.  You know how I have a thing for snowy flags.

snow plow, 1/22/16 blizzard of  2016

Our neighborhood snowplows are keeping up a constant vigil.  Yesterday, they were having a good time red-necking up & down the hills.  Today, not so much.  Today, they are barely moving.

Snow totals so far are hard to measure.  I went out this morning and because of the drifting, some places measured as little as eight inches while it was up over my knees in other places.  And I should probably tell you, I'm tall.  I have high knees.  It's supposed to continue snowing until 8:00 or 9:00 p.m. tonight.

So far, our power is still on and we still have plenty of food, booze and yarn so all is well in our little household.  While I hear that Richmond's Nickel Bridge is closed to automobile traffic & they are sledding on it,

Nickel Bridge, Richmond, VA

I'm keeping busy knitting.  I finished the second Marigold sock, although I do need to kitchner the toes.  I'll wait until the snow is gone for that because I probably need to be sober for kitchnering.

OTN 1/13/16 Hitchhiker

I started a Hitchhiker scarf using Knit Pick's Hawthorne in the Irvington colorway.  While I love the fluctuating blues and I enjoy knitting with Hawthorne, I am a teeny tiny bit worried about that much garter in a basically solid color yarn.  It's a fantastic, mindless TV & weather watching project though.

mitered squares blanket, knitting,
Mitered Squares

About a week ago, I dug out an abandoned scrap yarn mitered square blanket & have since been knitting one square a day.  Last night I picked it up to knit the obligatory daily square & never put it back down.  Turns out, it's warm & cuddly and a great snowy night project.

If it's snowing at your house, I hope you have food, booze & yarn.  Stay safe and warm!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Fascinating Friday

My first Fascinating Friday post... and I have to admit, the week sort of got away from me.  I'm cutting myself a little slack this week since I only made the decision to do this on Tuesday.  I've only had four days to experience something new and fascinating.  Not to mention it's been in the teens every day which means it's just been too cold to be fascinating.

But, I did discover and begin something new and seriously fascinating.  Have you heard of Airtable?  It's Air plus Table because it's a spreadsheet/database in the cloud.  And it's free and it's the most awesome thing I've seen in years.  I might even be more excited about Airtable than I am about my yarn stash!  It's that cool.

Airtable @airtable

It's a spreadsheet and a database and so much more.  And even better, it's incredibly easy to use.  We all know how computer challenged I am but within minutes of logging in, I already had six different databases set up & functioning.  It's that easy!

You should really go check it out.  Go Google it and/or watch a YouTube video about it.  Even if you think you don't have reasons to use a spreadsheet or database, go check it out.  Besides businessy things, you can keep track of meal plans, restaurants to try, hiking trails to explore, your reading list, or simply your Roladex.

Well, that's my 'new thing' for the week.  And now, I'm off to play with it some more before the power goes out.

Have I mentioned we are having a blizzard?  Depending on whether it changes over to ice (Oh joy!  Ice!) or stays snow, we are supposed to get somewhere between six and 24 inches of snow.  I think we are ready.  We have a freezer full of meat we can cook on the grill (& keep frozen in the snow if necessary,) I have a well stocked yarn stash pile, the wine rack is full & there's two unopened bottles of bourbon in the bar, I have an economy sized bag of Peppermint Patties stashed away and I've got several books on the Kindle waiting to be read.  I think I'm ready.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

On the needles

Today's OTN is less than 5 minutes of knitting time away from OTN meaning Off the needles instead of On.

Stocking Cap, slouchy hat,
OTN 1/21/16 Stocking Cap

I thought about going ahead & finishing it (it's a hat. A stocking cap to be more exact) before I blogged about it, but I have a schedule to keep and keeping to the schedule is all part of the new me.

I'm not sure how I feel about this whole Keep to the Schedule lifestyle.  Part of me likes how much I'm accomplishing while part of me wants to throw a You Can't Make Me! temper tantrum and do what I want instead of what the schedule says I need to do.  Maybe the solution is to simply schedule throwing the occasional temper tantrum, sort of like scheduled cheat days when dieting.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On being boring

You never realize how boring your life is until you start a blog and open a Twitter account.  Suddenly, the realization that your life revolves around doing laundry, cooking the same four meals over and over and over again, and sitting on the couch watching Netflix while knitting.  

I have a “real job” but it is a ‘summers only’ job.  Mind you, I work the same number of hours that a normal, full time employed person works, I just work them all in the summer.  And since I’ve signed confidentiality agreements for work, I can’t tell you much about it.  Well, that and the fact that when you work twelve months’ worth of hours in seven months, there’s not a lot of time for non-work exciting things to happen.

It doesn’t help that I’m a creature of habit.  I tend to read the same genres of books over & over again.  I knit the same style things over and over again.  I have a small group of favorite, affordable yarns that I knit with over and over again.  I shop in the same four stores over and over again.  Actually, I don’t even like shopping, except of course for yarn and books.  I don’t shoe or purse shop like most girls.  I find an item I like and I wear/use it until it disintegrates. I’ve been wearing the same pair of shoes for four years.  I did recently have to buy a new purse, but the old one was three years old and in pretty bad shape. My car has over 200,000 miles on it and the car before that had 380,000 miles on it.  I find something I like and I stick with it, which can be pretty boring. While friends are “finishing” Google, I’m over hear obsessively checking the six bloggers that I stalk follow to see if they’ve published an update.  Hell, even my clothes are boring and habitual.  My idea of risky dressing is wearing the purple sweatshirt instead of the gray.

Part of me likes the rut I’ve dug for myself.  It’s comfortable down in here.  It’s safe and warm & cuddly.  Well, maybe not cuddly.  I’m not sure a rut can cuddle, but it’s definitely safe and warm and fairly drama free.  But it’s awfully boring.  And I’m sick of being boring.  I want to be fascinating.

So what am I going to do about it?  How am I going to become fascinating?

My first thought was to challenge myself to doing or using something or going some place different each day.  Every single day, do something different. Something new and different that I’ve never done before.  

But something new and different that I’ve never done before could get expensive and I am on a pretty tight budget.  Bankruptcy does not need to be one of the new things I try. Plus, I want to challenge myself to stick with the plan for an entire year.  During the summer, when I’m working 90 hours a day (or at least that what it feels like some days) I won’t have time for something new in my life every day.  Plus, the idea of something new every day terrifies me.  Absolutely terrifies me!  I know, I know.  Climbing out of the rut will be scary, but the idea of scaring myself on a daily basis is just too scary.  Both mentally & financially.  

So, I hereby challenge myself to do something different once a week.  It doesn’t have to be a big, giant different thing, but for the remainder of 2016, I will do something different at least once a week.  And to keep myself accountable, I’ll tell you about it on, let’s say.... Fridays.  And we’ll call the project Fascinating Friday.

Bored dog.

Minnie says, "I'm bored."  Got any suggestions for new, fun, fascinating things for us to try?

Monday, January 18, 2016

It lives!

Yay! The blog is alive!  I was starting to have serious doubts.

Last Thursday evening, I took the blog down so that I could do some major renovations to it.  I'd finally scratched "buy a domain name" off my to-do list and it was time to connect the two.  And while I was in there fiddling around, pretending that I have a clue what html is, I wanted to link my Etsy shop in a way so that you could get to it in one click.

Well, it quickly became VERY obvious that I do not have a clue as to what html is.  Things went badly and then they turned even worse.  I got the shop linked, but then the blog simply disappeared.  I finally got the blog back but then I was locked out of my Etsy shop.  I was finally able to get back into the shop, but now the blog had reverted back to it's old site address...  The new .com address wasn't working.  It was stressful and I consumed, on average, three pots of coffee every hour for about 46 hours straight.

Thank goodness for tech-loving kids!  My son finally got so sick of hearing me curse & swear at anybody & anything that crossed my path that he took pity on me and came to my rescue.  He ended up spending every one of  his non-working, waking hours for two days helping me.  He will now forever be the favorite child.

I have no idea how Zack managed to fix the site for me.  By the time he took over, about all I was capable of doing was sitting, curled up in a ball over in the corner, muttering curse words to myself and barely knitting stockinette in the round.  I was a pathetic mess.

While the whole frustrating process about drove me mad and I'm missing a few handfuls of hair, my teeth are chipped from the caffeine shakes and the neighbors are now very much aware of my potty mouth, I'm sort of glad it happened.  Sort of.  Yes, I wish that everything would have gone as simply as the domain supplier said it would, but I'm glad, sort of, that the blog crashed & burned for a few days.  And the reason is because, I really, really missed blogging.  Which surprised me.  I realized how much I enjoy turning the blank screen into, albeit bad, pictures of yarn and knitted things.  I've got a new respect for the blog and plan to take better care of it in the future.

So, with that being said....

Not much knitting got done over the last few days.  I knit a few more rounds on 'the hat.'

knitted striped hat
The Hat

The hat still doesn't have a name.  Sadly, it may go onto Ravelry with the unceremonious name of The Hat.

hand knit socks
Marigold Sock #2

The second Marigold sock has a heel and gusset, except I just noticed that that photo doesn't show the gusset.  Oh well.  You'll have to trust me.  It has a gusset and I'm a few rounds into the foot.  And that means I can check that task off for the week.  Well, last week.  This week's to-do says I need to knit until I'm ready to decrease for the toes.

first snowfall of 2016
20 minutes into the snow storm

We had our first snowfall of the winter yesterday.  The first hour or so was like a total white out.  Honestly, it scared me a little because it came as a total surprise and we were not prepared for a big blizzard.  It turned out to be the perfect snow storm though.  It snowed like Hell, the view from the desk window was awesome, the ground was covered but it never stuck on the roads at all.  The. Perfect. Snow.

There's just something so American about snow on a flag.

And I just love how the snow looks on the flag.  I don't know what it is about snow on a flag, but I just love the image.  It's just so American.  Okay, so maybe I'm still mentally traumatized by the whole website fiasco.  What ever.  I do love the image of snow on the flag.

So, to put this novel to rest.... Take a look around the new website.  Notice it's now super simple to type into the search bar.  It's just instead of jeanniegrayknits.blablabla.blablabla....  Please make any necessary changes to your bookmarks or however you routinely find me.  Take a look around the site and let me know if you find any links or pages that aren't working properly.  For the most part, I think everything is fixed now, although there are a few improvements I still want to make here and there.  One other important thing - if you have a blog & were on my blog roll, please, oh please send me a link to your blog.  For unknown reasons, my blog roll disappeared in the fiasco and was not recoverable.  And if you know me, you know I can't remember names, which means, I can't remember the name of your blog to search for it.  Help a girl out & send me a link.  Please!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hoping apologies won't be necessary

So, over the next 24 hours I'm going to be making some really big changes to the blog.  I hope they work.

But if they don't and the blog crashes & burns, Minnie & I are both sorry.  Wish us luck.