Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year and a Knitting Connection

May you have a wonderful 2011!

I just had one of those knitting-connected moments. I am listening to this book

crescent dawn

While doing dinner preparation chores and finishing some 2010 knitting. I have been happily following the intricacies of Cussler’s usual improbable plot, which I always find to be so much fun. There are always little historical and geographical goodies thrown in. Some of this book is about the death of Lord Kitchener, who commanded British forces in World War I, at least for part of the time. Of course, my knitter ears picked up at the name and my internet generation curiosity could not be restrained, so I googled and found this blog entry. Yep, it’s THAT Kitchener all right! However, if you scroll down, the really interesting part of this entry is in the comments, particularly the ones by Of Troy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

I've Finished my Christmas Projects!

I finished my Christmas sewing a few minutes ago in preparation for our family get together this coming weekend.

I am a doll person. I'm not a collector or anything, but I dearly loved dolls as a child. I would stay with my grandmother as a preschooler on the four or five days a month my mother worked at my dad's hardware store. Every day after lunch, she would take whatever doll I brought and without using a pattern or anything, make a new dress for my doll. These little dresses had puffed sleeves and ruffles. They did not have buttons because my grandmother did not have a buttonholer that would make the tiny button holes, but the back edges had a sturdy bound placket that worked well with safety pins. I wonder what grandmother would have thought about velcro. When I was about 8, she had a stroke, and after that her vision was affected so that she couldn't sew any more. Although my mother sewed all the time, she hated making doll clothes, so I didn't get many from her. By the time Barbie came along, I was old enough to be interested in sewing costumes for my Barbie doll. In fact, I was really too old to be interested in playing with Barbie, but the sewing was fun.

My daughter was not particularly interested in baby dolls, and my oldest granddaughter isn't, but the two little ones like to play with dolls. This year for Christmas, they are getting Madame Alexander dolls that are still baby dolls, but more or less toddlers with pigtails. I decided to make them some clothes that are easy to put on and take off since the mamas are only three themeselves.

For the youngest granddaughter, I made a butterfly capri pant outfit, a princess bubble with bloomers that matches the pillowcases I made for her, and a pair of sock monkey pajamas. It just happened that one set of sisters had monkey Christmas pajamas this year. The background in the photo is the two minkee doll blankets that I made from some leftovers.

The older-by-5-weeks granddaughter also will have a minkee blanket, the capri outfit, and the sock monkey pajamas, but her bubble matches the owl pillowcases that I made for her. You do realize that this "matching" bit is the fancy way of saying I used scraps? That sock monkey fabric should look familiar as well. The other reason for using the scraps is that sewing with really good quilting cotton is like knitting with the really expensive yarn. It just feels so good!

And I finally figured out how to make some overalls that would fit the boy sock monkey! The pitiful thing is that I realized I needed to make the same kind of alterations to the pattern that I use when making pants for myself because we both have disproportionately large rear ends. I also, of course, had to allow room for the monkey's tail.

Random thought: I had to open up one of the dolls for fitting purposes, and I thought I was never going to get it out of the box. There were several cable ties, and the dress was literally sewn to the packaging. Then random parts were covered in plastic bubbles. I complained to my daughter, who suggested I take the other doll out as well and just put the dolls in with the clothing. I was thinking about how frustrating it would be for a child, but then I remembered when we used to get dolls that had the satin hairbows impaled into their heads with straight pins! Does anyone else remember this? Talk about toy safety! Even then I thought it was kind of gruesome.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

At the end of a year which included horrible losses in Vietnam, civil unrest in the streets of Chicago following the Democratic Convention, and the assassinations of both Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy, the Apollo 8 astronauts broadcast this message to the world on Christmas Eve.

May your Christmas be blessed!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

EBook Recommendations

This book is not exactly new, but it is by an author that I had overlooked. I was an early Patricia Cornwell fan, but I have become disenchanted with her more recent books, probably because characters that I had liked have become very unappealing. I think I may have discovered a replacement. Jefferson Bass is actually two people, one the actual founder of "The Body Farm," the famous facility at the University of Tennesse, and the other a media/fiction writer person. The cooperative nature of the writing did not detract from the suspense of the book. I walked around the house for hours holding my Sony Pocket Reader and booklight and stayed up until almost two in the morning to finish. Considering that I had stayed up to watch the lunar eclipse the night before, you know that I was riveted by the plot and the setting of the story.

I got this book as a free EPUB download from Books on Board. I got it there because I heard about it first through a feed from the blog Books on the Knob that lets me know what books are up free or at a vastly reduced price. Deleting the feeds that I'm not interested in every day is a bit of a nuisance, but I am also able to find some real jewels. I think that this book was also available for free on Kindle, but I had already signed up for the other source. I'm sure that this free book was intended as a promotion for other books by the same author, and in this case that promotion worked beautifully. I intend to buy a book as soon as I finish this review, probably on Kindle so that I can add it to my library in the cloud if I'm actually paying money for it.

Now I have to get dressed, run an errand or two, and come back to sew for the afternoon. I have downloaded an audiobook for the sewing session.
Edited to Add: I found 4 more books by this same author. I kindled one of them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Ladies First

The dress has matching bloomers from the dot fabric. The fabrics are Moda Funky Monkey Sock Red and Moda Funky Monkey Dot Cream from

Saturday, December 18, 2010


We are not having our family Christmas celebration with children and grandchildren until Jan. 1st this year, so I still have some time to finish many holiday tasks. I still have some sewing to do, a little bit of odd bits of shopping, and some general getting ready. The meal will be a combination of Christmas and a Southern New Year's Dinner with ham and black-eyed peas. After using the china at Thanksgiving, we are going all out with paper plates and plastic tablecloths for a quick dinner that will give us time for gift opening and enjoying the children enjoying their gifts.

Before then, though, I have to do serious grocery shopping. Not so much for the holiday meal as for general restocking. I have deliberately run things down to almost nothing in my pantry so that I can replace it all with fresh items. In the last week or so, we have had some very "creative" meals. I think I will try to make a daily grocery run during the next week to stock up on quantities of one or two items at a time. It's less exhausting that way. After I have the pantry done, I need to do much the same thing with our freezer.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

So Much for my Career as a Fledgling Knitwear Designer. . . .

On the other hand, using my 40% off Hobby Lobby coupon for a Clover Pom Pom Maker was a wonderful investment. As Olivia would say, "Accessorize!" (Ignore the instructions in the package and Google for video instructions.)

Now to sew the garments. And the eyes, mustn't forget the eyes!

And, in a totally random thought, when I made my visit to Happy Hour at the local Sonic Drive In, I read the sign out front, the kind that has the insertable plastic letters. I'm not sure about the rest of the country, but the latest Sonic creation here is a foot-long Tex-Mex Chili Dog, which has cheese, onions, and jalapenos. The sign advertised it as a "TXT DOG." I'm not sure if you have to order with your I-Phone.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Although told they had been identified. . .

by their long tails and their monkey-kind-of-shape, the naked and hatless animals stared blankly at the world around them.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rhinoplasty and Oral Surgery and a Book

While assembling, I am listening to an audiobook by an author who is new to me--Ivan Doig. The novel is Dancing at the Rascal Fair. From the blurb on the library site, I was expecting a romance novel set in the West, but so far I have been absolutely entranced by the voice of the narrator, as distinct from the audiobook reader, a young Scotsman emigrating from a Scottish Lowland village to Montana at the end of the nineteenth century. Seeing America and the West through his eyes is fascinating. The audiobook reader is excellent as well. I can detect the beginnings of a romantic plot, but this book promises to be far more than the usual history/romance mix. Enough writing. I need to put my earbuds on and hit the sewing machine!

Anonymous, with Cellulite

Just Checking In

  • All purchased/completed Christmas presents are wrapped and tagged (I used to leave the tags off just to frustrate people, but with 4 grandchildren, that's an impossibility.) and will be under the tree as soon as I move the vacuum cleaner.
  • The ham for Christmas Dinner, which will actually be on New Year's Day, is in the freezer.
  • I am heating up my sewing room now for the other items I have to start and finish--2 sock monkeys with clothing and two wardrobes for 14" toddler dolls. We had a cold and windy spell for a few days that would have made heating that room a challenge and expensive. By this afternoon, the outside temp should be in the '60s around here, so things will be comfy. I have already loaded my MP3 player with a couple of audiobooks for marathon sewing sessions.
  • I need to finish the menu for the dinner.
  • Knitting--I've been working on dishcloths for a housewarming gift and intermittently knitting on my Three Way Wrap. I got in an assortment of some yarn colors from Pisgah Yarn and Dyeing, the Peaches and Creme people. In today's economic climate, I rather like the idea of knitting using yarn that is grown and manufactured in the U.S.A. (If it were manufactured in Texas, it would be even better, of course.)

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Cheated!

My plans for hand-knitted ornaments did not work out this year, so I was looking for a last-minute solution. I found these online from Crate and Barrel. With the aid of Photoshop Elements and MS Publisher, and a kind aunt who sent an updated photo, these were ready to go in a few minutes. They are really heavy, good-quality frames.

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Artfully Posed Wallaby

I was tired of the starfish-like blocking pictures. This is the Wonderful Wallaby for the youngest granddaughter. The color is reasonably accurate--Plymouth Encore 1034, ordered from Webs. I am aware that I probably overdo including color and yarn info, but for those of us out here with no local yarn shops, any data that we get about sources, quality, colors, feel and durability of yarn is valuable information. You will notice that the sweater seems proportionately long. That is on purpose. This year it will be one of those longer sweaters that come to mid-thigh and look cute over leggings. There is extra length in the sleeves with tighter ribbing to allow for grow room also. The spot was from the camera, not on the sweater. I photoshopped a repair, but did not get it quite good enough.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Knitting Break

I took a knitting break on Sunday afternoon, drove to Amarillo, and continued a tradition with my daughter--watching Harry Potter. As an added thrill--I thrill very easily--we chose the digital instead of the film version, and I bought tickets online and printed them on my printer. Now for my review--

I was not entirely thrilled with the movie version of The Half-Blood Prince, mostly because I thought it seemed just like a plot "bridge" to the next movie and because I felt that it did not have the feel of the earlier films. So many details about Hogwarts seemed to be omitted or glossed over that I was not transported to that world in the way I had been in earlier films. Having read The Deathly Hallows and having read some reviews, I had an idea how difficult it would be to adapt this last book to the screen and make the slow suspenseful buildup come across in film. For the first minute or so of the movie, I was worried, but then it far surpassed my expectations. I was very pleased. I am reluctant to go into specifics and be a spoiler other than to say that I found this film to be quite a successful adaptation. It did not have exactly the same emotional impact on me as the book, but having read the book, I was anticipating some events rather than shocked by them. This film is bleak and heavy in mood as befits its subject, but even at the most suspenseful or most dreary parts, the humor and whimsicality that distinguishes the Potter series comes through. However, anyone who has not seen the other films or read the books would have a problem figuring this one out.

It is also quite obvious that this film would be spectacular in IMAX. If I lived closer than 500 miles to a theater, I would go see it that way as well.

Now for a discussion of color--the film is dark in mood and the predominant colors are shades of gray. The world of Hogwarts with the colorful school banners and uniforms is not in evidence. The setting is barren moors (I hate that phrase. If you live in the U.S. Southwest, describing moors as "barren" just seems silly.) in the wintertime, bare stretches of beach on a cloudy day, snowy forests, lonely houses, THE white tent. The director of this film has made that tent quite interesting, by the way. The color extends to the costuming. Everything is muted except for Dolores pink--a horrible color indeed.

The muting of color extends to the knitwear. I was keeping an eye out. Both Ron and Harry spend much of the movie in sweaters that I actually think are based on a British military design, maybe not a current one--gray, wide ribbed, collared, zipped part way--very practical for what they are doing. Hermione does wear a quite lovely fair isle cardigan in very muted shades that is somewhat played down by all the other garments she is bundled in. Even the gloves and scarves are muted. I may have missed some knitwear because I was watching the story so closely.

Literary allusion? Voldemort's snake Nagini, has much the same name as the snakes in "Rikki Tiki Tavi," the mongoose story from Kipling's Jungle Book. (I only noticed this because I had been sorting kiddie DVDs at my house.) I wikipediaed, and discovered that the "nag" part of these names comes from a Hindi word for "cobra." I just thought that it was interesting that Rowlings may have picked up on the Kipling story. It would be fun to ask her.

Wonderful Wallaby progress--I am EXACTLY halfway finished with the hood!

Oh yes, if QVC happens to put Hermione handbags up for sale on easy payments, please call my attention to it. I'd love to have one of those things!

Friday, December 03, 2010

Imaginary Knitting Content

Actually, the knitting content is real, but the photo is imaginary. The second sleeve--plain stockinette--is completed. If your imagination needs help, you can scroll down a post or so. The second sleeve looks just like the first sleeve. In truth, that is saying something. I was in a hurry, so of course, I messed up. First I knitted the entire ribbing part with the wrong number of cast on stitches. Frog. Then I got the right number of stitches but twisted the joining and didn't notice for a couple of rows. Frog. After that, things went swimmingly until I had knitted 10 of the 12 inches and noticed not one but three mistakes a couple of inches down. I tried dropping down and repairing, but that just didn't look good, so I frogged down again to the 8 inch point and started up. Finally, I finished. The sleeves are now attached to the body with a couple of rows of knitting. Every time I do this, I realize how happy I am to have interchangeable circulars so that I can just screw on tips instead of having to shift stitches to needles from holders. I don't know what my problem is with sleeves. I love knitting socks, and a sleeve is just a sock without a heel and kitchener. I never seem to suffer from second sock syndrome, but the second sleeve is always a killer. Perhaps it's because I know it's just a prelude to more knitting to follow or something. Note: my ribbing, knitted in the combination style, is looking better all the time. At least I feel something is improving.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

It Must Be Love. . . .

Today is our 33rd wedding anniversary. I googled for appropriate art, but anything for 33 years looked like it was for old people, and surely that couldn't be us! (That reminds me that in my mother's last years she got really picky about changes. Her purse was absolutely worn out, so my DD and I hunted and found a new purse exactly like her old one, except it was new. She rejected it entirely, saying that it was an old woman's purse and she wasn't going to have anything like that. It was just like her existing handbag, and she was in her nineties.)

Yesterday we celebrated by going out for Japanese food, and by going on a weekday, we had the little room with the grill all to ourselves! Today I'm making homemade chili. Life is good!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Quiet Day

And get a look at this.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Knitting Report

Thanksgiving was enjoyable. We had a wonderful time at the big table, and the kids' table was giggly most of the way through. The one grandson is, I think, going to have trouble getting a word in with three granddaughters, but he appeared to be taking it well. By mid-afternoon, the small ones were getting grouchy and tired, so everyone piled into carseats for a nap on the way home. At least, I hope for the sake of their parents that they napped!

Because of circumstances, our Thanksgiving was somewhat rushed. This year we are having our Christmas celebration on January 1, so we should have all morning for the children to play before naptime sets in.

In the extreme quiet after everyone left, I burst into knitting mode. I still have one grandchild sweater to finish and their 4 Christmas ornaments to knit. I also have Christmas sewing to do, but since my sewing room has sort of peripheral heating, I will wait for warmer weather than the 14 degree low we are due for tomorrow.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Getting Ready for Tomorrow

Tomorrow will be our Thanksgiving celebration. Both of our children, their spouses, and the four grandchildren will be here. The turkey is roasting as I write. The cornbread is crumbled, and the other dressing ingredients are ready to go. Later this evening, I will carve the turkey into slices, refrigerate it, and dispose of the turkey "mess" so that we don't have to do it tomorrow. My daughter and daughter-in-law are bringing parts of the meal, so I won't have much left to do other than the table setup. That will give me more time with grandchildren.

Knitting progress--more inches added to the wrap; in the middle of the pocket for the Wonderful Wallaby.

Friday, November 26, 2010


We are not having our family Thanksgiving dinner until Sunday, so I still have preparation work to do. However, I find that what I am most thankful for this morning is that I do not feel the need to "do" Black Friday, ever. The last time I got caught up in that kind of frenzy was the year Cabbage Patch Dolls were new. That must have been about 29 years ago. I am home, snug and warm, in my p.j. s, headed for a cup of hot tea, an audiobook, and kitchen prep. Life is good! And peaceful! And in between? I can knit:-)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ribbing and a Photography Question

Step 1 of the Wonderful Wallaby, the waistline ribbing knitted from Plymouth Encore Worsted, color 1034. I'm very proud of the evenness of the ribbing, which I knitted using combination knitting.
I made this picture indoors, with an indoor setting on my Canon A1000IS. I did not use flash. If you notice, the ribbing looks faded on the edges. I made one shot with a white background which was even worse. I do not know what to do about this. The lighting is simply the room lighting. If I do use flash, the white bleed is even worse. I would try to look on the internet, but I don't know what to call it. It should not be necessary to take all pictures outside. The color of the yarn is very close to the real thing. Any advice would be appreciated.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Very Plain Knitting!

A progress picture of the Three Way Wrap, Modified. You can see the borders that I added, as well as the one detail, a buttonhole. After doing a bindoff buttonhole as specified in the pattern, I single-crocheted the edges to make it a little bit firmer. The buttonhole is still not as attractive as I would like, but great big buttonholes seldom are, even in a sewn garment. I suspect that's why large coat buttonholes were traditionally bound.

This pattern is an easy knit, I love the yarn, and I like the way it is turning out now that I have added the borders and changed needles. However, as a "rest" project from a string of plain stockinette sweaters, this is not a good choice. I can't imagine why I thought it would be. I'm laying it aside temporarily to start the ribbing for the next Wonderful Wallaby, and I plan to alternate between the two until they are both finished. Then I have a second sock to do--lace--that should get my mind back in gear.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Eeeek! I'm Becoming my Mother-in-Law!

My MIL loved to garden and to cook. In her later years, though, she grew quite experimental in her cooking. Unfortunately, it would often go something like this:

"I know how (my DH) loves chocolate cake. I brought this new chocolate cake that (insert name of someone in her church) brought to the (insert name) funeral dinner last week. It was so good. I told her I just had to have the recipe. "

You taste the cake, which is interesting because it is brown, but not really chocolate.

Then she says, "Of course, I cut the cocoa in half because you know cocoa is just so expensive I can't afford the whole amount."

She also modified recipes by adding sour cream. The last incarnation of banana pudding had bananas, vanilla wafers, and THREE pints of sour cream! And you could really taste that sour cream, because, you know, sugar was expensive!

I have always wondered how much her friends appreciated being cited as the source for some of these recipes, such as non-chocolate cake.

Now, I'm doing the same thing with knitting. I started out to make the Three-Way Wrap--found under that name on Ravelry, as I've said before--not out of the cashmere blend yarn it calls for because I wanted a more rustic look, and I love tweed, and I don't have money for cashmere right now, and I needed something more easy care, and about a dozen other reasons.

Part of the styling on this wrap is its unstructured nature. It's a long strip of plain stockinette on size 10 1/2 needles. The edges are allowed to curl naturally. If a gauge is specified on the pattern, I didn't find it. I knit loosely, so I dropped to a size 10. The fabric was too firm--it's a wrap. It needs to drape, right? I also looked at the projects page and added a hem that someone else had used to minimize the curl on the cast-on edge. It certainly did that--it curled madly in the other direction and made the bottom edge even stiffer than the body so that it took away even minimum drape. Frogged after 3/4 of a skein. Decided to follow the pattern exactly--ignoring substituted yarn, of course--but after 5 inches, I decided that while I might be able to live with the curling sides, the bottom edge still has the effect of one of those old window shades that wants to spring up unexpectedly. I just know that I would constantly be fiddling with it. I did not frog; I just got out another skein of yarn and some size 11 needles, did a gauge swatch and some math to approximate the 16 finished inches I need, and I've knitted a 5 row garter stitch edge on the bottom with 5 stitches of garter going up each side of the stockinette. The bigger needles are making a more drapey fabric, and the edges are staying flat. So, for the record, I am knitting the Not-Entirely-Three-Way-Wrap-But-It-May-Still-Have-Three-Buttons. No sour cream.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Book Recommendations

If you look at the Shelfari shelf to the right, you will see two books by Louise Penny--The Brutal Telling and Bury Your Dead. These two books are part of the Chief Inspector Gamache series, and these two should definitely be read in order.

I am becoming more and more fascinated by this series. The last three books that I have read, in particular, have reached a level far above what I usually expect from a mystery story. They are difficult to classify because they are many things--detective series, village mystery, police procedural, political and social commentary. In these three books, however, the books have also reached a more literary and perhaps allegorical level. In spite of the fact that they are written about life in the "green" age, and in spite of the fact that they are mostly set in a somewhat romanticized--at least on the surface--rural village, these are also very much novels about the human personality, about complex social relationships, and about the nature of good and evil. Unlike many mysteries that are primarily just puzzles, characterization runs deep. Going into the woods in these novels is to make the journey into the woods of Hawthorne and Arthur Miller rather than an environmental journey with nature. The characters in the village are multifaceted human beings with faults and foibles, and it is clear that successful survival in life comes from accepting one's own failings and finding it in oneself to forgive and accept the failings of others.

Since they are mysteries, I should also say something about plot. They may not be just puzzles, but the puzzles are there, and they are intriguing. Bury Your Dead in particular has three going at once--one a continuation from a previous book, one a flashback to an incident between the two novels, and one self-contained within the novel itself. Amazingly well written!

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Finished Sweater!

Obviously, the children are getting big enough that I'm going to have to stop the blocking pictures and wait until I can make a picture of the sweater with the arms folded. . . .

This is the Elizabeth Zimmerman Seamless Saddle Shoulder with a Wonderful Wallaby pouch added. The sweater required every inch of 5 skeins of Plymouth Encore Tweed in Denim and the first 14 seasons of A Touch of Frost. I used the directions from Knitting without Tears.

The pouch, added because little boys cannot have too many pockets.

A shoulder. The EZ percentages worked fine, once you worked them out. I did use all 10 of the third set of decreases. However, the last decreases of the saddle had to be ripped back because they did not leave enough room for a child's head. I ended up doing half as many as called for. I hope the neckline is ok. If, not, I can always rip back a little and redo it. According to a sizing chart for children that I referenced online, it should be fine although it is a little more boat-shaped than a regular crew neck. I will try to publish a picture later of the sweater on its recipient.
Today I am attempting to whip out some very thick--2 strands of leftover Encore--bed socks for myself. Wearing regular socks in bed really bothers me for some reason, but I'm already having trouble getting my feet warm at night, and winter has barely begun. They are so bulky and have such short tops that they should be a fast project. Then I will cast on for my granddaughter's Wonderful Wallaby.
Today was our first snow of the season. This was early, so I wonder if we should anticipate a long wet winter. If they can get the rest of the cotton out of the fields, any moisture on the winter wheat will be quite welcome.

Veteran's Day

My hubby and I observed Veteran's Day, actually more than one day, by watching some of the newly released World War II color footage. This afternoon, we watched footage of the Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge. The narration is by Gary Sinese, and the series is on the History Channel.

I almost finished the sweater. The percentages failed me toward the end because the neck opening was clearly too small for a child. I ripped back and made it larger. All the knitting is finished and all the weaving of ends except for grafting one underarm and sewing those little circles at the end of the other underarm. I am generally pleased, although there is one spot that I had to fudge just a little bit. I hope it fits. It is rather difficult knitting without someone around to try it on.

I will finish in the morning and give the sweater a bath and lay it out to dry and make pictures. One note--Encore Tweed is just a little bit less smooth--reasonably so--to knit with than the regular Encore. I was using my wooden Harmony needles. There was one more "join" because of the metal cap on the wooden needle and the points are also sharper than the metal. Little hairs kept getting caught and slowing me down a bit. It would be exaggerating to say "splitty"--these were almost too small to see. I should have used metal tips, but I decided to stick with what I had swatched with.

We did take time out for a drive and lunch at Red Lobster in Clovis. We are expecting a winter weather front for the weekend. For many years, we have gone out for lunch on Saturdays. Now that we are retired, that is a hard habit to break, but we are discovering that there are many more lunch specials available on weekdays, so we went today, both for price and to beat the weather. The drawback was that I have felt like it is Saturday for the rest of the day! Now I can cozy up into a warm bed in my winter nightie with the thought that I do not have to face driving to work (not really a problem) and then walking on an icy sidewalk (definitely a problem) in the morning and perhaps scraping ice in the afternoon. The firewood cart is filled and in the back room so we can start the woodstove in the morning and be toasty if the cold weather materializes.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Pajama Day!

Do you know there's actually a group for Pajama Days on Ravelry?

Today is one of those autumn days when you can tell a weather change is coming. I slept a little bit late, and I had every intention of bouncing up for a day of varied activities. Then I sat down "just" to attach the sleeves to the sweater. A while later, I was ready to figure out the decreases to the Seamless Saddle Shoulder Sweater. With the actual garment in front of me and a copy of EZ's Knitting without Tears in hand, the directions actually made sense. After leftovers for lunch, I put on another episode of A Touch of Frost and made amazing progress through one set of decreases and halfway through the second set. I have made myself stop so that I won't make my shoulder sore. Tomorrow is my quilting group, and I do not have any quilting as of yet, so it will be my first outing for my Namaste Everyday Bag, filled with KWT, needles, sweater, and assorted knitting equipment + of course, an extra project just in case. With a little bit of luck and no mistakes, I can probably finish tomorrow. :-) Right now, I'm going to change clothes and sneak to the Tasty Cream for a Diet Dr. Pepper, complete with Tasty Cream ice. (In Texas, ice is a food group, and theirs is fantastic.)

I also got an e-mail from Webs that my yarn is shipping. I saw a wrap in the Levenger catalog, of all places, that I am planning to make for myself. I ordered the bulky Plymouth Encore Tweed in just about the same blue as the sweater I have completed. I have some g-normous oak buttons coming from etsy. Since it uses size 10 1/2 needles, it should go very quickly. I will be knitting a sweater at the same time, but since this will be my 4th bottom-up stockinette sweater on 7s and 8s, switching off occasionally will be good. The pattern I'm using is on Ravelry as the Three-Way Wrap. I am modifying it slightly to make it more like the one in the catalog--non-rolling edges, longer length, bigger buttons. Not that I could afford the cashmere yarn right now, but I plan to use this as a go-to wrap for errand running and other casual pursuits, so I wanted something more easy care, although I will have to be careful of my buttons.

I also took a few minutes this morning to finish an ebook--Grave Secret by Charlaine Harris, the 4th in the Harper Connelly series. I've really enjoyed this series, but I understand this is the last book, and that is probably correct because all ongoing loose ends were tied up satisfactorily. This was a second try at this novel for me. I had it as an audiobook awhile back but broke the MP3 player midway through the novel. I plan to explore the Lily Bard series and the Amanda? Teagarden series by the same author, who is most famous for her Sookie Stackhouse vampire novels. I absolutely detest vampire novels and movies of any sort. I forced myself through the Twilight series awhile back, but only because I thought it was a have to. So I won't be reading those.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Tuesday's Progress

The second sleeve is finished. I did not include a photo. If it doesn't look exactly like the previous sleeve, I don't want to know about it!

Progress Report for Monday

  • 4 inches knitted on second sleeve
  • barbecued a brisket in the oven
  • decluttering one trashbag worth
  • watched another episode of A Touch of Frost
  • nap

For today, Bible Study, another decluttering round, some sewing, and perhaps a little knitting.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Two Finished Objects

OK, it's probably cheating to call a book an object, particularly an audiobook, but I just finished listening to the audiobook of the new Jack Reacher novel, Worth Dying For. It was a download from the Free Library of Philadelphia. Many fans of Reacher seemed to feel that the last Reacher novel was somewhat off track--I did not particularly share that opinion--but this one is right back in the Reacher tradition. I must admit that the reader who reads these novels is also outstanding, and his performance always contributes to my enjoyment.

This is probably cheating, too, but the first sleeve is finished. See that little bit of leftover yarn? That was the end of the ball. Not only that, but I finished exactly as the audiobook ended. Surely this is some sort of planetary alignment thing, but all I can think of is that it is the beginning of Standard Time today. I know it looks long and skinny, but that is appropriate. I did not taper the sleeve since this is for a young child.

Those were the good things, in addition to the first stew of the season for lunch today. I'm getting ready to have another bowl for supper, and then put leftovers in containers to freeze for later. This was actually cowboy stew, made with stew meat and cans of other ingredients and cooked in the crockpot. I suppose this is cheating when I could use "real" veggies, but for some reason my DH and I find that this kind of stew does not give us indigestion the way the other kind does. When you reach a certain age, this becomes important. This is the original recipe, from a friend of mine named Jo:
2 lb. meat
2 cans minestrone soup
2 cans Ranch Style Beans
2 cans Rotel tomatoes (I use one Rotel, one plain diced)
1 can hominy
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can French style green beans
1 onion, chopped
This does a bigger crockpot. For our smaller one, I use less meat, 1 can of soup, and 1 can of beans. If you are short one ingredient, just substitute something else. If I have some leftover already cooked vegetables of one kind or another, I just stick them in as well. You can put this on in the morning on low, and it will be ready when you come in from work. The liquid from all the cans is plenty. I have eaten Jo's when it is made with venison, and it is delicious.
On the down side, my electric blanket died, and I think I'm getting a cold.
I also managed to download a podcast catcher today that does a good job of transferring them to my Sansa Clip. I never found itunes satisfactory. I am now using MediaMonkey, so I am back in business with Brenda Dayne and David Reidy.


Counted stitches for the body and put the underarm stitches on holders and the body stitches on the capped circular cable. Cast on for first sleeve--6 1/2 inches knitted.

Friday, November 05, 2010

New "Clothes"

The new outfit for my Sony PRS-300 arrived today. I ordered directly from M-edge for a very reasonable price since the Sony is the discontinued model. The picture above shows the cover in standing position with the light in something like reading position. The font is bigger so that I can read from a distance. Does anyone recognize the book I'm reading?

Below is the device in a closed case. Notice that the lamp is also in the case. That is a nice convenience. I love the pretty sapphire blue color. This is about as wild as I get.

Edited at 11:30 p.m.--The body of the sweater is complete except for the last round and putting the armhole stitches on holders. It's too late in the evening to count reliably, at least for me.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Pocket Fused

This will be the last Wallaby feature of this sweater. The pocket is fused, and after the debacle of the last sweater, I checked and double-checked everything about it. From here on, I plan for the sweater to be a seamless saddle shoulder in the Elizabeth Zimmermann tradition.
The color is actually a denim blue, rather than this gray or the brighter blue of the last post. I must say, however, that I absolutely love this yarn! It is slightly rustic in feel, and it creates a fabric with character that is yet remarkably even. I like it so much that I ordered some in the heavier weight for a wrap that I want to make for myself. It is backordered, so perhaps I'll have my other knitting finished by the time it comes in.
I'm having a quiet knitting and miscellaneous day at home. It is so nice to be able to do that.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

I Am Thankful

  • for living in a part of the country that is beautiful in the autumn, even without the spectacular fall colors seen elsewhere. The light at this time of the year is golden, and the clouds this afternoon were magnificent. It was a lovely day for driving.
  • for getting to spend the day with my daughter and three of my grandchildren and picture books and baby dolls and Legos and puzzles and Baby Bear. Oh, and Veggie Tales.
  • for having a wonderful husband to come home to at the end of it.
  • for yesterday's reminder that democracy may sometimes be inefficient, but it does work.

Knitting progress--The pouch knitting is completed. Now to knit up the body to the right measurement to fuse it. Then onward and upward!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Mid-Afternoon, No Knitting, In a Funk!

I have not yet knitted for the day. In fact, I've done little other than finish reading a novel--Alafair Burke's 212, an excellent ebook read for mystery lovers.

Why the funk?

  • I'm behind on some things I wanted to get done here at the house, out of procrastination and laziness, mostly. So of course, I'm not working on them today either.
  • I goofed up yesterday. When I retired, I naturally lost some of my organizational framework and systems. For example, my Blackberry now lives in my garage in the front seat of my car. It goes in my pocket only when I leave the house for some reason, and in a tiny town like this, most of the time it doesn't go in my pocket even then. My texting speed has dropped sharply. I have switched to google calendar, and I am synched with my son's calendar and my daughter's so that I can tell when I have things to do with the grandchildren. Hey, there's a reason I retired! Last week I received an invitation to the retirement "do" of a good friend. I opened the envelope in the car, read it, and when I went into the house, I added the date and time to my calendar, complete with a 12 hour reminder. All of that worked beautifully. Unfortunately, I posted the event to Nov. 2 when it should have been Nov. 1. I did not discover my error until I saw comments on Facebook last night! Fie!
  • With the change to the lovely fall weather, and it is indeed beautiful, the rapid temp fluctuations have increased some aches and pains that have caught me unawares. Nothing major, just enough to give me the blahs.

I have also succumbed to temptation to dress my Sony Pocket Reader. I was going to be minimalist about this "extra" reader, bought on the cheap to read epubs and pdfs. I bought the minimal Sony lighted cover and got a good price on it. I hate it--passionately! It is too thin to provide good screen protection. The light comes out at an angle that makes me feel as if someone is poking a finger in my face. If I adjust it otherwise, it does not go a good job of lighting the screen. The Sony is somewhat heavier and differently balanced than the Kindle and the reach to the central page turn button is a stretch for my short fingers. This cover is made like the cover of a book and means that only my right hand is in a position to turn pages. I checked this morning, and M-edge had their leather platform covers on sale for $15 for this discontinued model. I added the M-edge light as well. Now I can hold the book with either hand without a loose cover flap flopping on the left, the screen will have better protection, I hope the light will be better, and I can prop the book like an easel for reading when both hands are busy or when reading on my side in bed. Just for fun, I got a beautiful, showy blue cover.

Scary--if you have sinuses, a humidifier of some sort is almost a necessity here for the heating season. We had a big one, but our hard water eventually ruins the floats and everything, and we have to change the wicks so often that operation gets expensive. Besides, lugging those big tanks of water is heavy. I replaced the dead one with a couple of smaller ultrasonic type units. These look like big water drops--made by the same company that makes the frog and the panda and some others like that. I am most pleased. In fact, since we are just turning on the heat, I'm just getting ready to start unit #2. The other one is in our bedroom area. I am being faithful in cleaning the unit regularly. The first week I used the bleach method, but this week I decided to go with white vinegar because of hard water buildup. I cleaned out and rinsed the base and wiped the nebulizer with a soft cloth dipped in vinegar, as per instructions. Then I rinsed. I filled the tank with water--1 gallon--and added the 1 TEASPOON of vinegar that it called for. I was not pouring it on a deposit of mineral, just adding it to the water, a whole gallon of water. I could actually hear the fizz. I find that a lot scary. How high is the mineral content of our water? Anyway, what I paid for these two units is about what I was spending on wicks for the former humidifier, so if these get us through the winter without a bunch of sinus headaches and infections, I will consider it money well-spent. If they make two winters, we're in profit mode!

Late afternoon update--Laundry in progress; Wallaby pouch pocket started and about 1/2 completed thanks to an episode of A Touch of Frost.

Monday, November 01, 2010

No Knitting, but an Essential Measurement

When I measured a shirt belonging to my grandson in order to knit the sweater I'm working on, the shirt that I measured was a raglan sleeve. Needless to say, I couldn't figure out the shoulder width. Today, due to an unexpected change in schedule, I did not get to knit any on the sweater, but I did get hold of the boy and a Stanley carpenter's tape. I got the measurement! Now I can plug everything in to the Zimmermann percentages. I even checked a couple of the other measurements just to be sure I was OK with them.

A fiber story--My daughter teaches a preschool Sunday School class. This past Sunday, the Bible story was about Lydia, who was a seller of purple. That could mean that she sold purple cloth or purple dye or probably both. DD bought some purple Koolaid, and I mailed her some hand carded rolags that I had not spun. They used the microwave and dyed the wool purple. She said that she did not keep the microwave going long enough for the water to become all the way clear because the enthusiastic children had emptied five whole packages into a fairly small amount of water and she didn't want to disappoint them with black. The wool did turn purple, and they were impressed. I realize, of course, that Kool Aid is not exactly the same type of dye Lydia would have had, but wool IS wool!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Still Life with USB

My accountability picture for today. Yarn is Plymouth Encore Tweed in Denim. MP3 player is my faithful Sansa Clip for my audiobooks. I just finished listening to Ape House: a Novel while knitting and driving (not at the same time). It is an excellent book. Today's knitting accompanied an episode of A Touch of Frost, Season 6. Next up on audio is another mystery novel by Louise Penny--check my sidebar.
I spent most of yesterday with my son and his wife and daughter while he and my DIL worked on my car. I had sort of roped them into it, and I really appreciate their help. I am reasonably sure that I am going to need heat this winter, so I am really thankful for their kindness. I also got to spend some time with the youngest grandchild, so it was a win-win for me.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Accountability and Photos to Share

Warning: I am going to be boringly accountable on line for progress on the last two sweaters. That will keep me on task. I have cast on for my grandson's sweater, knitted the bottom ribbing, increased, and inserted the line of waste yarn to mark the spot for a Wallaby pocket on this non-Wallaby sweater. I decided that he had to have one when his cousins were so thrilled with theirs:

Please note that the above photograph is a personal snapshot made by me on the spur-of-the-moment. Oldest granddaughter. Wallaby is extra long to wear with leggings; sleeves are long because she is growing rapidly.
The next photo is of her younger sister. It is by a professional photographer. Ditto the information on the sizing.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Casting On!

Yesterday was swatch day and math day for the sweater I'm knitting for my grandson. The plans so far:
  • Bottom-up seamless construction a la Elizabeth Zimmermann. Right now, I'm planning to make the top with the saddle-shoulder construction. I wanted to go for the seamless hybrid, but I decided I should knit this kind first.
  • Kids like pockets, so I'm knitting in a front pocket a la Wonderful Wallaby.
  • The hems of the sweater and the arms will be ribbed. I wanted to do a turned hem, but I do not have the child available for fitting, and ribbing gives more adjustability and grow room. I am combination knitting the ribbing, just as I learned in my recent class from Annie Modesitt.
  • Ribbed crew neck.
  • Knitted from Plymouth Encore Tweed in Denim. I was planning to do a couple of rows in a navy tweed on all the ribbing. I tried it. The navy was slightly heavier and did not look good--it made the ribbing ruffle a bit.

Pictures will follow as soon as there is progress to something memorable enough to photograph.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wide Awake Pillowcases

A pair of owl pillowcases for an owl lover. Fabric is A Touch of Whimsy II from Tennessee Quilts.

Monday, October 25, 2010

It's Finished, Finally!

This particular Wonderful Wallaby turned into a learning experience, mostly an experience in the perils of overconfidence. I did learn some other things, though.

First of all, I like the stretchiness of the garter stitch hood, particularly for children, but I've never been completely satisficed with the way garter stitch kitchener looks. After two attempts on this sweater, I tried a 3-needle bindoff. I think it looks much better. It blends in with the garter rows instead of making a wider furrow between.

I inserted cables into the decrease rows of the raglan:
This girl is getting so grown-up that her next sweater will have to be on a hanger to photograph. I could have tried for an outside picture, but there is blowing dirt and a 40 mph wind.

Yarn is Plymouth Encore, Mauvetone, from Webs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Book Review

Actually, an audiobook review. I have been listening to an unbelieveable number of audiobooks while knitting and sewing and doing mindless household chores. Most of these are strictly entertainment. I have some really meaty books saved for spinning and knitting when I know that I can really concentrate on the book and its literary quality. This book, however, popped up as what I thought was going to be a touchy-feely sisters reconciled chick book:

All of the blurbs that I read ahead of time suggested that the focus of the book was the two adult sisters and their relationship, and that is indeed the framework for the story, but the background of Russia during the Stalin era and World War II and its effect on a woman with children and on her life after the war overshadows everything else. This book is not an easy listen, particularly if you are a mother, but it is worthwhile. The unabridged edition is over 14 hours, and I got mine from a library OverDrive account, so you can perhaps find it for free.
I will certainly be headed back to read more of this author's work.

Things Are Looking Up, Wallaby-wise

I have been struggling for a couple of weeks to finish a Wonderful Wallaby, a pattern that I've already made several times with no problem whatsoever. I have had to frog back four or five inches and detach and reattach the sleeves twice because of really stupid errors. Then I discovered another one--I was adding cables to the raglan decreases. Because of not thinking ahead properly, the last few inches of the cables had to be worked with half of them cabled from the purl side in order to match the two on the other side. That was slow and painful. In the end, though, I think they look ok. I am past that part and about halfway through the neck ribbing, with only the garter stitch hood to go. Unless I do something really stupid with that hood, I should be finished fairly quickly. Of course, I could repeat the same sort of stupid mistakes that I had on the sleeve/body froggings.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I Think I'm in Love

I really have to get my photography area set up again after the great plumbing redo. Yes, it is in the extra bathroom--great light, both artificial and natural and enough counter space. Photographing FOs on the computer keyboard is not exactly cutting it. If I were the artistic type, I would have hung these on the arms of the train crossing or something, but I just finished, and I'm tired.

These are the pillowcases for my grandson. Since he has a twin bed and will probably only use one at a time, I made them fraternal twins instead of matchy-matchy. The fabric on the left is In Motion--Trains; on the right, In Motion--Race Cars. The red is Pimatex Basics, Mini Dots. It is the stripe, however, with which I am in love. It is black and a slightly creamy white, the stripes are just a shade off from being uniform, as if they had been painted with a brush, and the feel of the fabric is wonderful. It makes you want to make a wardrobe for yourself and curtains or something just so you can feel it all the time. The name is Olivia Dreams Stripe, which I am assuming means that Olivia the Pig has something to do with this. I just need to make something else from this and check out the coordinating fabrics! All the fabrics came from
I am still knitting away on the Wonderful Wallaby that has given me trouble. I can attest to the fact that Plymouth Encore is very durable yarn, enduring a number of froggings and tinkings without complaint. I hope to finish it this week so that I can begin number 3 of this set. I am using some of the combination knitting that I am learning from Annie Modesitt since I am now to the part of the sweater that is not in the round.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pillowcases #2

Pillowcases for another granddaughter for Christmas. The fabric is Make Believe Glitter Butterflies and Make Believe Glitter Stripes from and the yellow is a small bit that I picked up at Sisters' Scraps in Amarillo. I was unable to capture the glitter with the camera, but it is really sparkly, much like the girl that it is intended for.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Memories Prompted by Logo

This design is the logo for the Campaign for Wool in the United Kingdom. Obviously, it is a sheep, but to me it evokes a completely different response, the "feel" of which probably was part of the intent of the designers.

My father attended business college in the 1920's. Among the skills required, in addition to bookkeeping and typewriting on those big black blocky cast metal manual machines, was penmanship. I searched references once, and I think the style was Spencerian, or a close cousin to it. He made futile attempts to teach me when I was in elementary school, but the lessons were undone by what was required in school. Of course, to achieve the proper effect, the writer has to use a fountain pen or dipped pen and ink, rather than pencil or ballpoint. Anyway, one of the features of this method was practices using those big sweeping movements to create designs. Most of my dad's were made of someones initials, or a single letter, or just big designs of loops. The sheep above, though, is certainly one of those kinds of designs. Today, I suppose we would call it calligraphy. It was nice to be reminded of my dad.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

First Thoughts--Sony v. Kindle

Thanks be to God for his mercy in the rescue of the Chilean miners. It has been a joy to watch humanity at its best, as well.

First of all, let me say that I am not a power user of my Kindle 2. I use it for reading. I have not yet used the speech to text feature, but I plan to. I love the provided screensavers, so I certainly am not trying to hack in to change them. What I am comparing here, after a few months of Kindle 2 use and a few days of Sony use, is the reading experience.

Similarities: The screens are similar--no surprise, same technology, same company. The Kindle is a little larger, but I did buy the Pocket Sony, so that's to be expected.

Differences: Weight--the Sony feels much heavier in my hand. The feel is heavier than the Kindle in its padded case. Of course, neither one is so heavy that I feel as if I'm holding a hardback.

Controls: I rather like the numbered buttons down the side of the Sony for menu selection; however, their placement means that the only page turn control is center bottom. If you are like me, and you want to hold your reader one-handed, this is very unhandy. (Nice play on words, huh?) The Kindle has page turns down each side, so I can turn pages no matter which hand I am using. That also means that I'm holding a lightweight reader halfway down the side in a balanced fashion. The Sony button placement means that I'm holding a heavier reader from one end, which means it wants to tilt back.

Charging: I prefer charging my Kindle with AC because it is faster. The Sony included only a USB option.

Wireless/Computer: Of course, I am getting Amazon books from the Whispernet almost instantly; Sony books come by the computer. This, however, is not a problem because that's what I bought the Sony for. What I did not expect is that I have to distinguish between EPUB books and .PDF books and only have one or the other loaded into my Reader at any one time. The forums all say it will mess up if I am not careful about this distinction. That is a pain, since my library source mixes the book types with any one author.

Light: I have a Mighty-Brite clip on light that I really like for my Kindle. I did manage to use it with the Sony, but there is not really enough frame to clip the light securely without blocking a little of the screen. I have ordered a Sony cover with light from, so that should take care of this problem.

So far, I am fairly satisfied with both products.

Knitting projects--back to cables on the Wallaby. 1/2 hat on a loom.

NOTE: Please excuse the random paragraphing on my blog. I am not doing this; Blogger changes what I write.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Journey to the Dark Side

I really, really like my Kindle2, which, of course, I bought just before Kindle3s came out. That is fine with me because K2 does everything that I want to do. Except for one thing. I cannot use it for public library ebooks. When I bought the Kindle, that was not even a consideration because I did not have access to public library ebooks. However, then I read about the Free Library of Philadelphia on an audio book forum on Ravelry. I got a card for $15, which gave me access to loads and loads of OverDrive audio books and to ebooks in EPUB and Adobe PDF format. Many of these books are by authors that I like. Sony recently came out with their new Readers, so, cheapie that I am, I bought one of the old models, brand new, from ebay. It came yesterday. It is charged and loaded, but I have too much to do right now to sit to read. Today will be mostly an audiobook day so that I can knit or clean.
Why do I like both book formats? Knitting and driving and household tasks are one reason for audiobooks. Another is that some authors are just really good to listen to, either because the book has a very strong sense of voice or because the readers are so well-chosen that listening is a dramatic experience. Other books are too complicated to tackle by audio--too many characters, a plot that is too involved, and some may be read by poor readers. And, of course, a book that depends on anything at all visual in the way of secret symbols, maps, or drawings is a problem in audio. I do find that with classics that I have already read several times, listening calls attention to features that I missed when I read the book all by myself.
On the knitting front, it was a slow week. I did, however, advance on the Wallaby to the point of attaching the sleeves again. I was absolutely sure to have center front in the center this time! I also am working on my combination knitting skills with the Modesitt class. I am finding the class very helpful, particularly the online chat time with Annie. I also have another charity hat on the loom--this time the purple Knifty Knitter hat loom with the pegs closer together.
I drove back to Amarillo on Saturday to watch my grandson play in his last soccer game of the season. He did a good job, and I am reasonably sure that our team won even though no score is kept at his age. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we had a real park bench under a tree.

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Christmas Project--1/4 completed

Fortunately, my grandchildren are still too young to get to my blog by themselves, so I can post Christmas projects as I complete them. These are pillowcases for my youngest granddaughter. She has a twin bed, so I made two different cases that can switch off. My own children used to enjoy character pillowcases that I made from fabric from the fabric mart. Those were just plain fabric tubes, stitched across one end, and then hemmed. I know we had Strawberry Shortcake, Care Bears, and Popples, and I think some with cars and perhaps dinosaurs. Grandmothers have time to get a little fancier. These pillowcases are made from quilting cotton with prairie points. The fabrics are all from Princesses by Elizabeth Studio. I ordered them from Up, Up, and Away Quilts. The pattern is from

Wallaby Update, a New Class, and Paper Questions, or A Random Monday Posting

First of all, I am back to the point of the last frogging on the Wallaby--still not all the way to finishing the body, but at least I've made some progress. Finally.

I am also treating myself to the Combination Knitting Class taught on-line by Annie Modesitt. The videos for the first class were quite informative, and they were in separate bits so that the student could mull over things before moving on. Here is my first swatch. Excuse the bad photography angle. I was in a hurry and didn't take time to set up a proper booth. The 20 rows nearest the camera are knit the way I usually knit--Western and English thrown. The top rows--above the paperclip--are also English, but knit in the combination style. I think the results are quite consistent. I can tell a tiny bit of texture difference when I hold it in the light a certain way, but I couldn't get that to photograph.

Last night I had the opportunity to chat with Annie on-line. It was quite a worthwhile experience. I also felt that I was chatting with something of a star. I am hoping that in this class I will learn some techniques that make purling easier for me physically and also improve the consistency of my tension.

Paper mysteries. I know that we are all concerned about being as green as possible. However, I bought some toilet paper--not a major brand, but a common one that I have used in the past. It is 2-ply. Each ply is thinner than tissue paper of any sort. I think it is almost transparent. Furthermore, the two plies do not adhere to each other in any way. That makes it hard to unroll and tear off. I am convinced that we will use more paper this way than we would have used with a more luxurious brand.

Second paper mystery. My husband and I are dealing with a government agency arranging some details of our retirement. We did this on-line in order to save gasoline and paper. The process was involved. We then got a telephone call assuring us that some questions were being taken care of. This weekend, we got a letter in the mail. First of all, I almost threw it away because it looked like junk mail. The envelope is gray, it is not a standard business size for correspondence, and the return address is not printed the same way as in other correspondence from this agency. Indeed the left margin of the return address is not justified and the spacing between the lines is uneven. Inside are 2 sheets of paper. The agency receives a plus for printing on the back so there would not be 3 sheets. However, the paper is a non-standard size. Furthermore, at least half of the second page directs me to do something that we have already done on-line. Considering that this is an agency that is constantly under fire for being "out of money," I have to wonder why they did not communicate with me by computer for this information, which I must answer by computer, and why they went to the expense of odd sizes of envelopes and paper, which in the usual nature of things, must be more expensive than the standard supplies. Furthermore, I wonder how many of these get tossed because they do not look like an official communication. Perhaps the government made the same error I did with the toilet paper. Nevertheless, I think I'm going to check out this communication by telephone before going to the site and doing what it says. I want something that looks more legitimate.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Frustration and Color Therapy

I made a mistake on the Wallaby and had to frog again! In my haste to catch up to where I was before I ripped out, I knitted very rapidly up the body of the sweater, and I evidently did not slide a completed stitch all the way off the left needle and picked up the bar as the next stitch, thus creating an extra vertical row of stitches with a little hole at the bottom. This would have been an easy correction--I've done it before--if I hadn't knitted 3 inches before I noticed it. I dropped the stitches out, but no matter how I pulled and fluffed, I could not get the existing knitting to rearrange itself to fill the gap. Three inches was simply too much. In desperation, I unscrewed the needle tips, put on the little cable end caps, and ran the half-completed sweater body through the handwash cycle on the washing machine. That's the acrylic blend version of "surely it will block out." It didn't, at least not completely enough to be satisfactory. Tomorrow, when I am sure the sweater is completely dry, I will frog back yet again.
Meanwhile, I knitted another hat and worked on a Christmas sewing project. I am having fun being a little experimental with yarns for the hats. Each hat requires a double strand of yarn, and I am using leftovers. Here's an example of color. The hat on the left is one that I had already posted, knitted from Plymouth Encore Colorspun. On the right, I used the remnant of the Colorspun and a solid navy. Very different effects from the orangey blend.

The Christmas project involves some quilting-type patchwork piecing although no actual quilting is involved. I am attending the quilting group once a month, but I probably will not start an actual quilt of any sort until January because I simply have too many Christmas projects going right now. Anyway, I've always had trouble trying to rotary cut much of anything because my ruler always slid around. I did learn at the class that there are things that stick on your ruler to stop the sliding. The recommended brand was a clear film that goes on the back of the ruler, but locally I was able to find some little stick-on sandpapery dots that do the same thing. My first step on this item was to cut 40 3" squares of cotton, fold them into triangles, steam-press, and fold into smaller triangles to make prairie points. That is as far as I have gotten.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Two More

Older child/small adult and small child. These will go to the Eveline Rivers Christmas Project.

Identify the Object and its Use

I found this in an obscure corner to which it was banished many years ago. I will say that when I graduated from high school, I received a really nice graduation gift of a fancy laundry bag and one of these items, handpainted with a floral design.
Anyone remember what this was used for?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A Swim in the Frog Pond!!!!!!!

I knitted happily on the Wonderful Wallaby this morning and this afternoon. The cables that I had adapted for the decrease lines worked beautifully, and I was very pleased. I was perhaps halfway done with the yoke on the sweater when I decided something looked wonky. It was. I had fused the top part of the pocket crookedly. There was nothing to do (I tried, believe me.) except frog the sweater all the way back to that point. At least I was able to salvage the sleeves so that I don't have to reknit them, but I will have to do about 9" of the body again, plus all the work I did on the yoke today. Next time, I will measure more carefully!

Because someone asked about this last night, I checked on line and found a class project that my English classes did a few years ago is still available for viewing. I thought some of you might be interested. Here is the link.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sweater Progress and a Wonderful Weekend

I had half-expected retirement days to just fly by, but compared to a life run by bells and schedules, my days have a more leisurely pace, which is welcome. However, yesterday was a real reminder of how fast time flies. We were in the nearby city where both our children and their families live, and we all went out to eat. We had been to this restaurant before, but this time we no longer had anyone in a high chair, so there was not room at the table for all of us. It ended up with the adults and the two 3-year-olds at the big table and the two 7-year-olds in their own booth! Independence! And I am proud to say that the older two behaved well. I foresee that they are going to be wanting that kind of arrangement from now on. Sigh! Just for the record, the 3s behaved very nicely, too, even though it was almost naptime. I cannot but reflect, however, how short the time seems since we were trying to find the spot to seat our own little ones.

Proof that the sleeves to the Wonderful Wallaby are knitted. I eschewed the looming of hats for the time being. My daughter was kind enough to deliver the blanket and hat set for me yesterday.

Now onward to the process of attaching the sleeves to the sweater body a la Zimmermann and moving on to the decreases for the yoke. I'm still planning cables, but I also have to begin before long on the seed stitch edging the front placket opening. I hope I can keep track. I used these "complications" to justify the purchase of this lovely row counter from the etsy shop of The Twice Sheared Sheep. I have changed my plans for the decrease row cables from the ones by Mason Dixon, which were actually increase-row cables, to the ones designed by Amy King for her pattern "Sprout." We'll see how they work out. I'm saving all that for tomorrow, though. Right now, I'm off to fold laundry and then I may cast on the loom for another hat!

Friday, September 24, 2010

These Are Addictive!

After looking at yesterday's baby hat and how cute it is, I remembered that I had yarn leftover from the as-yet-ungifted baby blanket destined for a late fall baby boy. Of course, I could not pass over the opportunity, right?
I did knit a couple of more inches on the sweater sleeve.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Old and New

Notice Sleeve Number One for the Wonderful Wallaby. Sleeve Number Two is already one inch above the ribbing, but it refused to pose with cuteness.
Now notice the hat, of which I am inordinately proud. I learned to knit when I was about 7 or 8 with needles and a houseshoe pattern. Occasionally over the years, I've tried to figure out a spool knitter or corker--you know, the thing that really little kids can do? Absolutely no luck. Admittedly I was going from written instructions, but I was still confused. I have a couple of totes full of odds and ends of yarn, and a charity project nearby has advertised for hats. I knew that I could not knit really fast hats on needles, but this looked like a good project. Then I got a coupon for Hobby Lobby. I ordered a set of the round looms. I think mine are Classic Knit instead of Knifty Knitters, but they are the same size. The looms came at lunchtime today. I dropped the sleeve, grabbed some Encore from my leftovers, and followed the well-illustrated wrapping instructions for a hat. You can see the results above, complete with a turned up brim. There is one not-quite-right spot, but it is under the brim, so I'm pretending it's not there. And, guess what? It dawned on me about halfway through that the 31 pegs were just like the spool knitter, just much bigger. When I finished the hat, I hunted up my expensive spool knitter--a lovely transparent green, bought with the theory that if I paid more I would figure it out. I didn't look at the instructions at all, just figured it out on my own and made the little knotted bit of I-cord perking up the top of the hat! It's neat learning something new, even if I do seem to be moving backwards in difficulty. While knitting this little cutie, I was thinking of some of the colors that I have and the combinations that I can perhaps make.
I knitted this while listening to a new Elizabeth George Inspector Lynley novel, at least newly available to my audio opportunity.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sweater Knitting Time Warp

I started this sweater on July 11, worked madly for a couple of evenings, and then took a break from it. At that point, I lacked two inches of length before I could put the underarms on holders and start the sleeves. Yesterday, I started knitting again, and I hit one of those times when you knit and knit and the progress is absolutely nil! It seemed to take forever to knit those last two inches. Tomorrow I will start the sleeves.
The yarn is Plymouth Encore in Mauvetone. This is Wonderful Wallaby #6 for the oldest granddaughter.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Phinally Phinished and Photographed!

The color is hard to photograph indoors, but at least the design shows up. This is the finished blanket for a baby boy. It's about 38" square. The yarn is Hobby Lobby's I Love this Yarn Tweed in navy. I'm not sure if it is in the stores--I ordered it from their web site. I chose this particular brand for washability and softness, as well as its good-wearing qualities. The pattern is from Ravelry, but it is also available on the blog here. It's a great pattern. She has other wonderful baby blanket patterns on her blog as well. Take a look!

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness;
Close-bosomed friend of the maturing sun. . . .

This is about as close as we get to the autumn mist described by Keats, but the sunlight glows with the yellow tones of autumn. Silage-cutting is finished; the corn that will be cut for grain is standing in the field awaiting the combine; grain sorghum is ready as well; and the fields are being prepared to sow winter wheat.