Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Kroy, still on the needles

Are you sick of hearing about my Kroy blanket?

Kroy blanket

I promise, I won't be talking about it much longer.  It is still on the 24 inch needles, but I've decreased enough that there's no longer a danger of the stitches falling off the needles if I set it down for a moment without putting point protectors on and, I no longer have to twist the entire blanket around after each row.  And, I've knit almost two full skeins since my last post about it.  Without measuring or even looking at the opposite end, I'm guessing I have four or five more skeins to go before I've decreased down to zero stitches.

Kroy blanket

I doubt I'll finish it this week but I expect to be done by the end of next week for sure.  Of course, I've just completely jinxed myself.... 

Strawberry milkshake from Ashland Coffee and Tea

And, because so many of you wanted to know about what was in the Mason jar at Wednesday night's Sit and Stitch....  It's a strawberry milkshake.  The one in the photo was someone else's.  I didn't get one that night, but you can bet I will tomorrow night.  Other flavors offered were chocolate, banana and banana split.  I think bananas are disgusting but I will be hard pressed to decide between the strawberry and the chocolate.

And while I'm talking about previous posts...  Thank you all so much for the kind words and wishes for Sue and her health.  I'm happy to report that she made it through her first dose of chemo with absolutely no ill effects.  Let's hope this week's goes as smoothly.

Monday, April 29, 2019

52 Weeks - Work Detail

Today's 52 Weeks Blog Challenge topic has me telling you about some random, interesting detail about my job.  That gets tricky because about 99% of my job is confidential and I'm not allowed to discuss it.   But there is one thing that, while not in the least bit interesting, you may enjoy.

My stapler.  Our office can not keep a working stapler!  We frequently have to send our staplers out into the park and they are constantly getting broken so we have to send out another.... and before you know it, we have six people sharing one stapler that only half way works.  

So I bought my own.  Most of the office staplers are black or gray so I bought a white one.  (I really, really wanted a red Swingline but even I couldn't justify the price.)  I love my white stapler.  And because it's white, everyone knows it's mine and not to send it out into the park.  Except, our desks are white and every time I'd reach for my stapler, it would blend into the background and I wouldn't see it.  

DIY decorated Swingline stapler
My stapler is a coffee addict.

So I added stickers.  Now I can find my stapler on my desk and I love it even more.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sunday Supper - Spinach Salad

It's that time of year when I want to eat nothing but fresh vegetables straight from the garden.  No matter that most of them haven't even been planted yet, much less are available to eat.  

No matter.  I want fresh vegetables and the thing I'm craving the most right now is spinach salad.  I know, it's a weird thing to crave, but what can I say.  Fresh spinach.... fresh tomatoes....  both hand picked from my imaginary garden....  Yum!

photo courtesy of livescience.com
photo courtesy of livescience.com

I guess I'll just have to settle for store bought vegetables for tonight's Sunday Supper.  I'm also not sure that spinach salad counts as a 'supper' but add a piece of grilled chicken or a nice steak and....  

And I need to stop thinking about steak on the grill because I'll be eating my Sunday Supper at work.  Luckily, spinach salad is portable and thus doable.  What do I include in my spinach salad?  It's pretty basic.  Here goes:

Spinach Salad:

Spinach, washed, dried and nasty stems removed
Tomato, cut into wedges or diced
Cucumber, partially peeled and sliced thinly
Red onion, cut Very thinly, almost shaved.
Feta cheese
Black pepper
Italian dressing

I'm not sure why (I'm a horrible cook and don't know these things) but if you mix the tomato, cucumber, onion and Italian dressing together and let it marinate while you deal with washing and removing all the nasty spinach stems, the whole salad tastes better.

I really, really don't like spinach leaf stems.  Could you tell?

Friday, April 26, 2019

On the Needles

... Or more like, still on the needles...

Blanket knit with Patons Kroy Socks yarn.  Diagonally striped knit blanket.
Kroy Blanket

Yes, the Kroy blanket is still on the needles.  But, it's now on a 24 inch cord  instead of a 36 inch cord.  The stitches are pretty bunched up on that 24 inch cord, but they are all on there.  And that, my friends, is progress!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Three on Thursday - Wednesdays

Wednesdays are so fantastic!

Wednesday is Sit and Stitch night.  And that means,

One - Excellent food and drink,

Ashland Coffee and Tea wines and dines the knitters.

Two - Guilt free knitting time, and

Garter stitch prayer shawl knit with Manos Del Uruguay Fino purchased at https://centeroftheyarniverse.com/
When your knitting matches your project bag...

Three - Social time with other knitters who 'get' it.

Join me for today's Three on Thursday link up.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Prayer Shawl

My apologies for when this starts to get confusing...

I've started a prayer shawl for a close relative (not my daughter) who's recently been diagnosed with cervical cancer.  She does not want to be identified here but I know that she and her illness will weigh heavily on my mind and will be a big part of my life for the next many months.  I know I will talk about her and/or her illness here and since she doesn't wish to be identified, I'm going to call her Sue.  I've racked my brain and don't think I know anyone named Sue so I don't feel like I'm jinxing anyone by using their name.  If your name happens to be Sue, my apologies for that too.  I wish you nothing but health and happiness.

Anyway, Sue is cold.  Constantly freezing cold.  And as chemo started yesterday, the feeling will only get worse.  So, I'm knitting her a prayer shawl.

The shawl will be a generic half circle design that I'm knitting in garter stitch.  I plan to add in a few lacy, *yo, K2tog* rows occasionally to fancy it up just a teeny tiny bit.  The main goal is for the shawl to be warm and finished quickly.

While the shawl's design is rather generic, the yarn is not.  I'm using Manos Del Uruguay Fino which is a merino/silk blend.  It is Heaven to knit with.  The yarn is incredibly soft and the Delft colorway is fluctuations of violet and periwinkle, occasionally fading to almost while.  In other words, it's not boring to knit with at all.  And I think (hope!) it's Sue's favorite color.  At least she wears it frequently.

As for my reading these days.... Can I call it 'reading' if I'm only on page 5?  This time around, I'm reading an actual book.  A paper version!  Not a virtual book on my Kindle!  It's titled Something in the Water and written by Catherine Steadman.  I may be only on page 5 but I was hooked by page 2.  If the writing keeps up and the story is as chilling as I expect it to be, this book just may knock Jaws off my all time favorite summer/beach read list. 

Friday, April 19, 2019

Happy Easter

Photo of colored Easter eggs courtesy of history dot com
photo courtesy of history.com

Wishing you a very happy Easter weekend!

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Three on Thursday - Socks

I know it's a little early to be thinking about what to knit during summer's heat.  After all, half the country had a big snow storm last week and there's still a nice layer of pollen on the cars  here in the south.  That indicates spring, but... It's almost Easter which means at least in my mind, it's almost summer, and we had a massive thunder storm the other night which left cold winds and a definite drop in the temperatures.  And now my toes are cold. Again.

All that means, I'm thinking about socks.  Or more specifically, my desperate need to restock my sock drawer.  So today's three Three on Thursday things are sock patterns I'm considering. 

Adult sized, textured socks knit with speckled yarn.  Free pattern on Ravelry.
Amanda Stephens' Speckled Space Socks

Normally I just knit plain vanilla socks with self striping yarn but I'm thinking I should jazz up my knitting a bit.  I have a lot of this type of speckled yarn in my stash pile already.

115-34 Socks with cables and rib

Or maybe I'll knit a cable or two.  I love this design because I wouldn't have to commit to cabling the entire length of the sock. 

Free sock pattern on Ravelry.  Sock designed for self striping yarn.
Nutkin designed by Beth LaPensee

And this design looks like it would be quite simple to adjust for my boat sized feet.

And now for the hard part.  Deciding which to knit.  All three patterns are free on Ravelry, by the way.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Turned the corner

Yes!  I have turned the corner!

Diagonally knitting a full size bed blanket with self striping Patons Kroy Sock yarn
Diagonally knit Kroy blanket

I finally turned the corner on my diagonally knit blanket and am now decreasing on each end.  Progress will be much more visible now.  And mentally!  Phew!  Mentally, I feel like the end is finally in sight.  

Having to rip the entire month of February's work out and reknit it was a huge mental set back and felt horrible.  Even though I've only knit a few rows since turning the corner, I'm decreasing on each side now and it feels terrific!

Monday, April 15, 2019

I don't know

Where am I?  Last week I knew exactly where I was.  This week, not so much.

photo courtesy of yourdictionary.com

I don't know where I am and I hope you won't be expecting much from the blog this week.  I was supposed to be leaving on a multi state road trip with a family member tomorrow...  But said family member had a health issue and has been hospitalized for the past few days.  And while I should be at work, I'm either at the hospital or celebrating her release and hitting the road.  Only time and a few doctors will tell.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Sunday Supper - Lasagna Soup

Lasagna Soup.  Lasagna Soup quickly and easily made in the Instant Pot.  Need I say more?

Instant Pot recipe for Lasagna Soup from Belle of the Kitchen
Lasagna Soup, photo courtesy of Belle of the Kitchen

The recipe comes from Belle of the Kitchen.  The website is a little too ad heavy for my taste but the recipe can't be beat!

Friday, April 12, 2019

Where am I?

Where am I?  I find myself asking that a lot.  

photo courtesy of videoblocks.com

It's been ages, years actually, since I talked about where I can be found on the web.  If you find yourself on any of these social media locations, please stop by and say hello.

While it seems obvious, the blog, Jeannie Gray Knits, can be found at www.jgknits.com

My Etsy shop is located at JeannieGrayKnits.etsy.com

On Ravelry, I'm jeanniegrayknits

On Instagram, I'm jgknits

My Facebook (yes, I'm old school) address is https://www.facebook.com/JGKnits/

And on Twitter,  I'm https://twitter.com/JGKnits

It's been suggested that I join Snapchat but I've never gotten around to it.  Are you on that site and do you have thoughts, good or bad about joining?

photo courtesy of ashland.gov

And, most Wednesday evenings, I can be found live and in person at The Center of the Yarniverse's Sit and Stitch gathering.

Stop by and say hello and if you know of some other fabulous place I should be, of course, let me know.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Three on Thursday

It's Three on Thursday so you know what that means - three random things...

1.  Thank you all for your support and "Me too!"s on this past Monday's 52 Weeks Blog Challenge post.  Admitting to my crazy was a little scary and intimidating but y'all made me feel safe and 'normal.'  So, thank you!  It's nice to know I'm not the only one out there with a few quirks.  

And apparently, it is not the least bit weird or quirky to have kitchen issues.  So many of you responded with "Me too!"  regarding my kitchen OCDness that I think I'm going to have to wipe those issues off my weirdo list and start saying "I told you so!" to my family when they roll their eyes at me when I loose it over the dishwasher being loaded incorrectly or the knives being out of order in the knife block.  I'm not weird, my family is just wrong!

2.  I was quite excited to have my blog spammed recently.  It was the first time anyone has left multiple, weird, unrelated-to-the-post comments.  I feel like I've reached the 'big time' now.  I won't be excited the next time it happens though.  It was a time consuming pain in the rear to remove multiple comments from multiple posts.

Using stitch markers to indicate the need for increases and decreases.  https://www.ravelry.com/projects/jeanniegrayknits/kroy-blanket
Kroy Socks blanket knit on the diagonal

3.  My weirdness continues.  I've mentioned the diagonally striped blanket I'm knitting a few times now.  I'm currently knitting the sides and to get straight, parallel sides when knitting on the diagonal, you must increase on one side and decrease on the other.  When I first started the sides, I placed two stitch markers on one side to indicate the need for an increase and one marker on the other side to indicate a decrease.  

And then the confusion started.  Two markers to indicate the increase, which is done by K1, yo, K1.  And one marker for the decrease which is handled by K2tog, yo, K2tog.  

See my confusion?  Two markers to indicate a K1 and one marker to indicate a K2...  I'm somewhere around 1,000 rows into it now so it's lost the confusion factor but at first...  At first, I'd have to stop and think about it every single row.  If I ever knit another of these diagonally striped blankets (or anything knit diagonally for that matter) someone Please remind me to mark my increases/decreases differently.

As usual, I'm linking up with Carol for today's Three on Thursday. 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Casting on

I cast on a shawl using super soft fingering weight sock yarn. http://shrsl.com/1jmge
Hand Painted Eliot Capretta from Knit Picks

I spent Monday casting on for a Wedgewood shawl and binge watching The Umbrella Academy on Netflix.  

It was a good day!

First, The Umbrella Academy, not my normal show but....  Sarah had watched it and thought I'd like it and she's normally right about that kind of thing.  I'd seen it advertised but had turned it down.  Time traveling, talking monkeys aren't my thing.  But I am SO glad I listened to Sarah.  I only have one more episode to go and I'm still totally confused and wondering what in the world I'm watching but at the same time, I am Loving it and can't turn it off.  It's fantastic!  Weird and confusing, but fantastic!  Besides being weird and confusing, it's funny, heartbreaking and has awesome music.  You should definitely watch it if you haven't already.

Oh, and speaking of awesome music, I've recently discovered 'Mongolian metal' which I've fallen in love with.  It's fantastic background music and it's playing as I type this.  The current song sounds Scottish. Scottish sounding Mongolian metal??  Binge watching talking monkey movies??  Apparently the return to work has sent me over the edge. 

But back on topic....  The Wedgewood shawl.  I mentioned recently that I wanted my next project to be knit with Capretta from Knit Picks. (#Affiliate)  I knew I wanted a crescent shawl with some stockinette to show off the yarn's hand paintedness and a little bit of lace for umph.  I have spent hours and hours checking out designs on Ravelry.  Then yesterday, I  finally decided on Wedgewood and wouldn't you know - I already had the pattern on my bookshelf!

And now I have a cast on shawl and one more episode of The Umbrella Academy to watch.  I'll see y'all tomorrow.

Monday, April 8, 2019

52 Weeks - OCD Habits

Today's 52 Weeks Blog Challenge topic is my OCD habits, more specifically, what are they.  I don't know if they can truly be considered OCD, but they are weird little habits that I obsess over.  Except 'obsess over' isn't exactly right.  I don't sit around thinking about them, but I sure do throw a fit if they aren't done or aren't done right.

So, my list of OCD habits:

1.  The dishwasher.  The dishwasher has to be loaded correctly or I loose my flipping mind.  And by "correctly," I mean the coffee cups on the right side, the glasses on the left.  And for damn sure, you better load the plates into the back row before you start putting them in the front. 

The plate thing is more a matter of convenience.  If someone loads the front row with dinner plates, they block the back row and it's hard to get anything back there without pulling the rack so far out it comes off the hinges.  The coffee cups vs. glasses is just .... well, it's just the way it should be.  And thus, it's my #1 OCD habit.

2.  When starting out on a journey in the car, I have to apply my lipstick before I buckle my seat belt.  Have to. When my husband drives, it makes me a little nuts because he doesn't wait for me to go through the ritual before he starts off down the driveway.  We'll be moving before I get my seat belt buckled and that makes me a little crazy too.

3.  I have a thing about 'finishing' a pen.  I love LOVE pens where you can see the ink level and I get a weird amount of joy out of using the last of the ink.  That joy almost ranks up there with the thrill of yarn shopping.  

ball point pen with removable cap and visible ink level
Acceptable pen, photo courtesy of officeworks.com.au

4.  Another pen thing - pens with removable caps MUST have their cap put on the end of the pen or I can't write with it.  If the cap is missing, I can't deal.  The pen becomes unbalanced in my hand and I just can't deal with the sensation.  The pen above is fine.  The idea of writing with the one pictured below makes me so uncomfortable I can barely look at it.

Ball point pen without a cap
Unacceptable!  Photo courtesly of recyclenation.com
5.  The knives in the kitchen knife rack have assigned slots and although the different knives may fit in various slots, you better put them in the right slot or I loose my mind.  Knives put in the wrong slots bug me maybe even worse than misplaced dishes in the dishwasher.

And last but not least (apparently my OCD is most prevalent in the kitchen,)

6.  Hanging pots and pans should be hung in size order, smallest on the left.  Nobody in my family understands this and it drives me completely crazy.  I feel like I spend more time rearranging the hanging pots and pans than I do doing laundry.  And I do an awful lot of laundry.

Now, don't you feel mentally healthy and normal?  

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Sunday Supper - Chocolate Cake with Caramel Icing

So, it's been a long work week and I'm in need of sugar.  Nothing says sugary comfort food like chocolate cake with caramel icing.  

A made from scratch recipe for chocolate cake with caramel icing from Tastes Better From Scratch
Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting

The recipe (and photos) comes from Tastes Better From Scratch's website.  And since I'm trying to loose weight, I'll probably leave off the chopped up Milky Ways.  

An easy recipe for chocolate cake with caramel frosting
Tastes Better from Scratch's Chocolate cake with caramel frosting

Oh who am I kidding?  I'm leaving off the Milky Ways because I don't have any on hand and I'm too lazy to go to the store.  I think it will be just fine without them.

Friday, April 5, 2019

How I Follow Knitting Charts

Madli's shawl is coming along.

Knitting a beaded estonian lace shawl. https://www.ravelry.com/projects/jeanniegrayknits/madlis-shawl
Madli's Shawl

Luckily I haven't gotten bored with all that orange yet.  So far I have knit ten of the thirty one center pattern repeats.  Not bad progress when my bare minimum goal was to finish seven repeats by the end of April.  For once in my life, I'm ahead of schedule!

While knitting on Madli at a recent Sit and Stitch meeting, several fellow knitters commented on my pattern graph/row tracker/check list sheet.  I'm sure there's a much better name for it, but whatever it is,  it's not coming to me at the moment.  Anyway...  since both newbie knitters and long time, skilled knitters both commented about what a clever idea I had, I thought I'd show you how I track my lace rows.  (And let's be honest - I want to brag when someone calls me 'clever.') 

How I follow knitting charts
knitting chart row tracker

Whenever I'm knitting from a chart, I photocopy the chart and mark up the copy rather than the original.  Because Madli's center chart is twelve rows repeated thirty one times, I cut out the 12 row chart and taped it to a sheet of graph paper.  Then I labeled the squares one through twelve on the y-axis and one through thirty one on the x-axis.  When I finish knitting a row, I scribble in the corresponding box on the graph paper.   And no, the ink color means nothing.  I just like colored pens and used whatever pen happened to be handy at the moment.

I also stick a Post-it on the line above the one I'm knitting.  The Post-it highlights the row I need to look at and allows me to see the stitches in previous rows so that I can 'read' my knitting.  And, I can use the Post-it to scribble notes to myself if necessary.   I know lots of knitters prefer Post-it tape but I like to use regular Post-its.  Besides being cheaper, I'm a bit of a Post-it hoarder, have thousands of the pads laying around and like I said, I like being able to scribble notes to myself.  By the time the Post-it looses it's stickiness, it's not uncommon for it to have multiple grocery lists, phone numbers and to-do list reminders scribbled all over them.

Also, not shown in the photo, I write any special stitch instructions on the graph paper.  I don't bother writing standard or common stitch symbols but in Madli's case, there's a weird little symbol for adding the bead and the first stitch of every row is slipped in an unusual way.  I wrote the instructions for both of those on the graph paper so that should I set the project aside for a month or two, I could easily pick it back up without having to track down the original pattern to know what I was doing.

How to keep up with multi rowed pattern repeats when knitting lace.
old school paper row/chart tracker

And what makes the graph paper/chart/row tracker so easy to use, I fold it in half and lean it up against my yarn bowl, computer, phone, project bag, skein of yarn or coffee cup.... The fold makes the chart stand up so that it's easier to read and the row tracker part is flat and ready to mark after each row.

And because I'm weird and a collector of unnecessary things, when I'm finished knitting the shawl, I'll tape the row tracker into my knitting journal for posterity.  

And that's how I keep up with multi-rowed pattern repeats.  Do you have an easier way?

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Three on Thursday

I'm joining Carol and friends for Three on Thursday.

Three totally random things -

1.  The 'season' has started, I'm back to work and have increased my normal, winter time step count by over 8,000 steps each day I've clocked in.  I'm sure I'll be skinny any day now.  I'm also in need of a nap.

2.  I cleaned out my Spam folder the other day and along with multiple 1) requests to respond to Rachel, my hot, naughty, Russian neighbor, 2) offers for little blue pills and/or body part enhancers and 3) notices that I've won large cash prizes and need to claim them, there were also several offers for me to "get a sexy girlfriend."  And now, I have Long Duck Dong from Sixteen Candles stuck in my head repeating, "Oooh, sexy girlfriend."

3.  My hair!  Oh my goodness!  I seem to be going through a spring shed.  My hair is not falling out in clumps, but single hairs, continuously.  I mean, like one a minute continuously.  I've let my hair grow and it hasn't been this long for five or six years so maybe the found hairs are just more noticeable.  I don't know.  But good grief!  If it keeps up like this, I may have something to worry about.  Right now, I'm focusing on the happy fact that all the hairs I'm finding laying everywhere are gray ones.  The few brown ones I have left are still clinging to my head thankfully.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

On the Needles - Kroy

Phew!  I finally finished re-knitting February's cut off stitches back onto my Patons Kroy diagonally striped blanket.  What a time consuming ordeal!  But, it's done and I can move on and hopefully learn from that mistake.  

Knitting a diagonally striped blanket with scrap yarn.  https://www.ravelry.com/projects/jeanniegrayknits/kroy-blanket
Patons Kroy Diagonally Striped Scrap Blanket

To celebrate finally getting to knit with 'new' yarn  instead of my self-made sock blank and because it was a glorious spring day, I picked up a skein of Meadow Stripes which really stands out on the blanket.  'Stands out' as in clashes with the rest of the blanket.  

Meadow Stripes is bright greens, blues, pinks and reds and looks nothing like the other mostly muted colors I've been using but I've decided not to care that it looks weird.  The idea behind the blanket is to use up some of the zillions of skeins of Patons Kroy in my stash.  And at some point, there will be a bright turquoise and magenta striped skein added in so ....  So yeah.  I'm just not going to worry about it looking weird.  It's a 'scrap' blanket - it's supposed to look weird.

Another thing I finally finished - I finished reading Disturb Not the Dream.  It wasn't anywhere near as scary as I remember it being, although there was a lot of unpleasant sex in the form of incest and rape.  Perhaps that's what I found so scary when I read it the first time.  I was pretty young and innocent back in those days.  This go round, I found the book to be much more disturbing than terrifyingly scary.

The next book in my queue is By the Unholy Hand by Kathryn Le Veque which I've just started reading.  I'm not sure I'll finish it though.  It's full of typos and grammatical errors.  The story has to be awfully good to put up with that.  I'll probably read another chapter or two before making the decision to finish or delete it from the Kindle.  It's a medieval knights' tale which is a genre I normally enjoy so we'll see how it goes.

Monday, April 1, 2019

52 Weeks - Last Meal

Today's 52 Weeks Blog Challenge post topic is what would I want for my last meal and I hope I'm hungry when the time comes because it's a big meal.  Thankfully, it being my last meal, I won't have to worry about calories, fat grams or diabetic comas.  Or, perhaps the menu is the reason it's my last meal.  In any event...

My last meal would consist of:

Biker dive bars always have the best food.
cheeseburger and fries, photo courtesy of usatoday.com

A cheeseburger from a biker dive bar.  What is it about biker dive bars?  They have the best cheeseburgers!

steak on the grill, photo courtesy of expertgriller.com

A steak cooked on the grill.  Burnt on the outside, practically still mooing on the inside.

brussel sprouts and bacon, photo courtesy of myrecipes.com

Brussel sprouts with bacon.  I can't believe brussel sprouts are making my list but...

Thalhimers had the best chicken salad.
Thalhimers, photo courtesy of amazon.com

My sister's chicken salad.  She uses the Thalhimers recipe but she does something extra to it.  Hers always tastes SO much better than anyone else's, including Thalhimers!

A not too heavy, fresh fruit cake perfect for spring and summer.
lemon blueberry cake

And for desert, there will be my grandmother's chocolate mocha cake, coffee or peppermint ice cream (but the peppermint needs to be the special Christmas kind, not the sold-every-day-of-the-year kind) with my mom's chocolate sauce over top and Sarah's lemon blueberry cake.

Yum!  I hope my last meal comes soon.  I'm hungry now!