Tuesday, May 31, 2016

On the needles

I have too many projects on the knitting needles at the moment.

knitting projects for sale at https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits

Between the work schedule and my knitting polygamy, I feel like I'm not making any progress on anything...

So I should probably start something new....

hand knit lace shawl scarf https://www.etsy.com/shop/JeannieGrayKnits?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Friday, May 27, 2016

Double Done

Amazingly, Reyna blocked out okay.

Lacy shawl, knit, blocked and ready to be worn.

Because of the blocking problems I had due to my poorly chosen bind off method, this Reyna isn't as wide as she should be but she wraps around my neck and is oh so soft and snugly.  I was worried my blocking mats would need to be blocked after dealing with Reyna overnight but they seem to have survived unscathed.  And since my bind off caused so many problems, I think I need to knit another Reyna just to see what a proper bind off looks like.  Sounds like a good excuse to knit more, right?

I also think I need a better light source.  I've come to the conclusion that this house is not meant for taking photos.  The natural light we receive indoors is either nonexistent or blindingly bright.  

Thursday, May 26, 2016

As promised

simple lacy triangular shawl knit with Mini Mochi yarn http://www.ravelry.com/projects/jeanniegrayknits/reyna
Reyna Shawl


My Reyna shawl is finished, soaked and on the blocking mats.  It was a great knit but a nightmare to block.  My bind off was way too tight.  The shawl was knit with a #4 needle and I used a #6 for the bind off but it was still way too tight.  WAY too tight.  I had to really tug & pull on it to get it anywhere near close to the shape it's supposed to be.  Even with all the tugging, the wing tips are causing the blocking mats to bow upwards.  I've got heavy brass candle sticks holding the mats down & I expect to hear them crashing to the floor at any moment.  I think I'm going to end up with a hooded scarf instead of a triangular one.

I knit Reyna with Crystal Palace's Mini Mochi.  It took two skeins plus a tiny bit of a third.  The ball band says it's color #317.  Very unimaginative!  I've been calling it 'Warm Seas' because it reminds me of the water in the Florida Straights but I was knitting outside yesterday (first sunny day in something like two months!) and the bumble bees were pretty interested in what I was doing.  It made me realize, it's not Warm Seas, it's Morning Glory.  The yarn is the exact color of the morning glories that used to climb our back fence.

As for the pattern, I have nothing but good things to say about it.  And I just realized, it does suggest a much stretchier bind off.  If I'd only learn to read the entire pattern.....  Oh well.  Live and learn.  And end up with a hooded scarf instead of a triangular one.  I'm sure I'll get a chance to try the proper bind off though.  I see many more Reynas in my future.  There are several skeins  in my stash pile calling the shawl's name.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Feral Swine

So, I've mentioned how I have an irrational fear of panthers hanging out in the tree tops, right?  No?  Well, ever since I read Little House in the Big Woods way back in the dark ages of elementary school, I've been afraid of panthers.  Specifically, panthers in trees waiting to pounce on me.  Remember the chapter in Little House where Pa is late returning home from town & there's a panther in the tree tops stalking him as he rides his horse home?  Yeah, well, that image stuck with me.  To this day, I'm a little freaked out to be outside at night if there are trees around. I just know that panther is up there, waiting to pounce.

And then there's my more natural fear of our local wildlife, mainly bear and snapping turtles.  Bears live in the woods behind our house.  We've seen them.  I think it's fairly natural to be afraid of them.  And then there's the snapping turtles.  I've encountered two since we moved to this house.  The first was back in the early days of when I used to run.  I ran down a hill (more like stumbled back in those days,) rounded a curve in the road and there he was.  He was huge, he was dead center in the road and he apparently smelled my fear, exhaustion and inability to run properly because he launched himself towards me & chased me half way up the hill.  If you've ever been chased by a snapping turtle, you know how frightening it can be.  And admittedly funny.  Funny & frightening.

My next encounter with Mr. Snapping turtle was several years later.  I got in my car to go to work, started to drive down our driveway & had to stop.  Mr. Huge Butt Snapping Turtle was sitting dead center of our driveway.  He was so big the bumper of my car wouldn't clear him and he was in that one small area of our driveway that's lined on one side by bushes & the other side by trees.  Mr. Huge Butt Snapping Turtle just sat there looking at me and hissing.  Have you ever heard a turtle hiss?  It's terrifying!  I ended up having to throw rocks at him to get him to move out of the way and then I had to call work & say I was going to be late because a turtle had been blocking my path.  Once again, funny & frightening.

So to make a very long story short, I have a fear of panthers, bear & snapping turtles.  And now apparently, I also need to worry about feral swine.

Va. Agricultural Dept. wants you to report feral swine.
Report Feral Swine

Feral swine!  Pigs on the loose!  I didn't even know there was such a thing.  Apparently there is because yesterday, when I stopped by the post office, there was a warning sign on their bulletin board.  I laughed all the way home, until I had to get out of the car, that is.  I'll admit, I was a bit leery to step out of the car.  What if a feral pig was out there in the bushes beside our driveway, just waiting to attack?  Good Lord.  I'll probably never gather the courage to leave my house again.

Reading On the Beach while knitting Reyna shawl & sharing on Yarn Along
On the Beach with Reyna

Have no fear though.  (Well, except fear of panthers, bear, turtles & feral pigs.)  It's okay if I'm trapped in the house.  I have yarn and books.

I'm four rows plus the bind off away from completing my Reyna shawl.  Hopefully tomorrow's blog post will be short & sweet & just say "done!"

And since the rain has finally stopped and the sun has popped out & brought summer like temperatures with it, it's put me in the mood to start my summer reading.  Besides the normal garbage that I read, (yes, I admit - I love a good trashy novel) I have three books that I rotate re-reading each summer.  This year, the rotation falls to On the Beach by Nevil Shute.  My high school English teacher, Mrs. Hall, made us read it.  At the time, I some how missed the whole 'there'd been a nuclear war' thing and the book made absolutely no sense to me and I hated it.  (I'll never claim I was a good student.)  But a year or two after high school graduation, I found myself at the beach with nothing to read.  A copy of On the Beach happened to be in the room where I was staying & I picked it up & started reading.  I really have no idea why I like the story so much.  It's SO tragic!  But I do like it and I've read it while sitting on the beach, every few summers since.

So, do you knit and read?  If so, why not join the Wedenesday Yarn Along over at Ginny's blog, Small Things.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Wednesday's Yarn Along

Thank goodness Ginny over at Small Things hosts a weekly 'Yarn Along' where we share what we are knitting and reading.  I made a commitment to myself that I was going to participate each week and if it wasn't for the Yarn Along, I wouldn't be bothering with this post.  It's been an insanely nonproductive week as far as knitting and/or reading goes.

Knitted Reyna shawl.  Simple lace triangular shawl.

My Reyna shawl has a few more rows but not enough to be noticeable.

striped cowl in autumn colors for sale at https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits  fall colored stripes
Make Believe 2 Cowl

I've knit a few more pattern repeats on the cowl but again, not enough to be noticeable.

brown adult sized beanie, slightly slouchy hat with cables on the brim

The one saving grace for the week is this hat.  It practically knit itself.  The yarn is Patons Classic Wool in the Chestnut Tweed colorway.  I was in my local Joanne's Fabric store buying buttons & discovered the yarn on sale.  I'd never seen Patons Classic Wool in a tweed like that with the blips of color before.  The yarn just jumped into my cart all by itself and once I got home, it just magically cast itself onto the needles and before I could even get dinner in the oven, I had a hat.

As for what I'm reading, I'm still reading Sweet Southern Trouble by Heather McGhee.

a 99 cent Kindle book written by Heather McGhee

It's a cute romance novel set in a small southern town and it's well worth it's 99 cent Kindle price tag.  I've noticed a few editing errors (which always seem to plague the 99 cent Kindle books) but not so many it becomes difficult to read.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

On the needles

Or more like, what's not on my needles.  I didn't make any photo worthy progress on a single project over the weekend.  This whole working for a paycheck thing is seriously cutting into my knitting time.

knitted lace shawl http://www.ravelry.com/projects/jeanniegrayknits/pebble-beach-shawl
Pebble Beach

My Pebble Beach shawl is blocked, dried and wrapped around me.  That photo does not do the shawl justice.  It's raining, again, and our house is dark and dreary (and cold - thus the shawl being wrapped around me.)  There just isn't a good place to capture decent photo-taking light in our house on dreary, rainy days.

hand knit lacy shawl, Pebble Beach http://www.ravelry.com/projects/jeanniegrayknits/pebble-beach-shawl
Beaded bind off

I ran low on yarn and didn't think I'd have enough to knit the picot bind off that the pattern called for so I added beads instead.  I haven't yet decided how I feel about the beads.  Part of me thinks they look weird, part of me likes them.  I think I'd have loved them if I'd added a bead every third stitch instead of every fifth.  Oh well.  Whatever.  It's done, it's warm, it's snugly, it's long enough to wrap around me and it's knit in my favorite shade of Palette.

hand knit lace shawlette Indian Feathers
Mystery Shawl

While I had the blocking mats out for Pebble Beach, I grabbed this shawl from the 'For the love of God, weave in my ends & block me' pile and got 'er done.  This shawl has been in limbo for so long, I don't even remember the pattern's name.  Whatever the pattern is, I'm calling it a success. It's going to be a favorited shawlette/scarf this fall. Or maybe this summer if it doesn't warm up and stop raining.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Seasonally Challenged

I never seem to be knitting for the current season.  My knitting is seasonally challenged.

It's spring here in Virginia and we're actually having a spring.  It's the first time I can remember in my entire life where we actually had normal spring-like weather.  In past years, from the middle of March to early May it is either snowing or 85 degrees.  There's no inbetween.  Freezing cold or hot as blue blazes.  And days flip flop back and forth so that on Monday you're outside wearing flip flops and shorts and getting sunburned then on Tuesday, you're back in your warm woolen sweater with a fire in the fireplace.  But this year, we're actually having spring.

And spring feels like fall.  It's too chilly for short sleeves but I'm hot in a sweater.  And the rain!  Oh my gosh, we've had some rain.  All those memes about Prince and purple rain.... well, it literally began raining the day Prince died and it hasn't stopped since.  It feels like fall, not spring.

Golden maple leaves in fall. Hand knit cowl for https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
Autumn Cowl

So I'm knitting for fall.  This cowl is the same multi-colored style as the Make Believe cowl I knit for my daughter last year.  My original plan was to use a matching green for the solid color, but the boldness of the self-striping yarn reminded me of maple leaves in fall so I decided to use brown to represent the tree trunk.

photo borrowed from www.dansokb.top
Autumn maple tree, www.danasokb.top

 I borrowed this photo from Google Images for inspiration.

And, since it's Wednesday and I've set a goal for myself to participate in the weekly Yarn Along that Ginny over at Small Things hosts....  I'll mention what I'm reading.  I'm queen of the 99 cent Kindle books and this week's choice is Sweet Southern Trouble written by Heather McGhee.  I'm only 17% into it according to my Kindle so I can't tell you much about it other than that it's the story of a big city girl meets small town cop and so far, I'm enjoying it.  And I have to say, this fallish spring weather we've been having is perfect for reading & knitting while curled up in a comfy chair.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reyna update

I'd hoped to have several different finished projects to show off today but...

the Reyna shawl.  https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits

There hasn't been as much time for knitting as I'd hoped there'd be.  The lack of knitting time plus fighting that twisty, curly needle cable has severely impacted my progress.  My work life is definitely putting a damper on my knitting time.  I still love my job, but they've reorganized different positions' duties as well as eliminated a few positions and well, now there just isn't as much time to knit at work.  The nerve of my employer!

I have the feeling that my blog posts over the summer will look more like tweets.

So, in tweet format, Reyna is slightly more than half way done based on the number of rows and about a fourth of the way done based on number of stitches.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Drifting with Reyna

Lately my Facebook feed has been nothing but photos and posts from people knitting Reyna.  I'm not normally one to knit the popular, trendy Thing but the pattern seemed like it might be a good use of some of the Mini Mochi I bought recently.  So...

hand knit shawl knit with Mini Mochi yarn for https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits

The early stages of my Reyna.  Which I'm going to end up referring to as Revna instead of Reyna.  My printer is nearing the end of it's life and struggles to print letters that hang down below the line.  In other words, the "y" looks like a "v" on my printed pattern.

I'm loving the Reyna pattern.  It's simple and fairly mindless although it changes stitch patterns just often enough to keep me interested.  The pattern directions are well written and best of all, there's a row tracker with boxes to check off each time I finish knitting a row.  Besides not having to keep up with a row counter thingy, it's super sweet being able to glance at the pattern and know how many more rows I have to go before I change patterns.  For now, while the rows are so short, having this information isn't necessary, but later, as the shawl grows and the stitch count seems to grow 4,000% with each row, I'm sure having that information will be quite motivational.

And, since I'm participating in today's Yarn Along over at Ginny's blog, Small Things, I need to tell you about what I'm reading.  Except, the only thing I'm currently reading is some seriously trashy smut that was a free Kindle book and I'm just not ready to go public with that.  Instead, I'll tell you about what I just finished reading.

The Drift, a book about being lost at sea by Chris Thrall
The Drift

I just finished The Drift by Chris Thrall.  I love stories about being lost at sea, adrift in a life raft, trying to survive surrounded by water but with nothing to drink.  I've sunk practically every boat I've ever been on.  Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but I have sunk a few and I've swum more boats back to shore than I've sailed back.  Besides preparing me for the day I gather my courage to leave sight of land and I end up finding myself lost at sea in a life raft, those types of stories always make my own life's drama seem so trivial.  And sometimes I need to be reminded that my drama is minute in the grand scheme of things.

So, The Drift...  I enjoyed reading it but the ending left me.....  in speechless shock.  I finished reading the book a few days ago and I'm still slightly speechless over the ending.  I don't want to give anything away in case you decide to read it (which you should,) but....  I'm just speechless.  I keep thinking I misunderstood.  Three days later and I still have the urge to pull a Annie Wilkes on Mr. Thrall and force him to change the ending. 

And now, since thinking (and typing) about dehydration & starvation (have I mentioned I'm allergic to seafood?) has made my blood pressure rise, I'm going to go knit a few more rows of my Reyna to calm myself down.

In the words of Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knit on!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

It's been a while

It's been a while since my last post.  I didn't do an end of the month/April in review post because there just wasn't anything to review.  Somehow I only finished knitting three things in April.  Three hats. Three hats that haven't been photographed.  One of which never will be because it was a gift & I shipped it off without ever taking a picture.  I did take one blurry in-process picture with my phone.

A cabled brim beanie hand knit with Cascade Quatro wool.
Kate's Hat

"Kate's hat" was knit with some Cascade Quatro that's been hanging out in my stash pile for quite some time.  The beanie has a mock cabled brim and is knit in one of my favorite colors.  The other two hats will eventually show up in my Etsy shop.

My lack of finished items has to do with my Pebble Beach shawl.  Karen over on Pumpkin Sunrise introduced me to the pattern.  Even though it took me a lifetime to knit the shawl, the pattern was simple and very well written.  I ended up doing a beaded bind off.  I was running low on yarn and was afraid I wouldn't have enough for the suggested Picot cast off.

I finished the bind off in the wee hours this morning and since I needed something to blog about today, I set it to soak while I was waiting for the coffee to perk.  I'm proud to say it's now on the blocking mats.

My hand knit lacy Pebble Beach shawl is being blocked.
Pebble Beach Shawl

I had to get seriously aggressive with the blocking.  It wanted to be bubble shaped instead of a crescent.  I pulled an tugged on it a while and finally wrangled it into it's proper shape.

I also got artsy with the photo.  I've discovered that 'getting artsy' hides a multitude of sins like bad lighting and blurry photos.  It also hides the fact that I'm using all my windows & doorways as an indoor clothesline.

So, yeah.  My house looks ridiculous with all the laundry hanging everywhere, but hey - at least I remembered to take the wet clothes out of the washing machine.  And, miracle of miracles, I remembered to remove the wet clothes on the same day they were washed!  Just call me Miss Productivity today.