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!