Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Best wishes to each one of you for a happy and blessed 2012!

I’m ending 2011 with a quiet happy dance.  My mother’s old recipe box collapsed when I took it down during Christmas cooking, and I simply dumped everything into an empty coffee can and went on.  I decided to follow my daughter’s example and combine my mother’s cards and mine into transparent sleeves and put them in a 3-ring notebook.  The pages came yesterday, so I set to work this morning.  I have been looking for a few years for a recipe that my mother used to make every Christmas that she referred to as “date loaf.”  I hunted through all the relevant categories in her box—candy, desserts, cakes, cookies.  I hunted on the internet sites using the ingredients I remembered.  I had no luck either place.  Today the first loose recipe that I pulled out of the can, actually in a handful of three, was that recipe.  The title on it read, “Date Pudding.”  I’m not sure why, since even the directions describe rolls that you slice, but it was filed with two other puddings.  Even though Christmas is over, I think I’ll get the ingredients the next time I go to the grocery store and make some just because I can.

I also finished knitting the Botanical Cowl last night.  At the moment, it is wet blocking, but I suppose that is my last knitting project of 2011.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hat for Hubby

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This is made from Paton’s Décor left over from one of the Christmas blankets I knitted.  The pattern is Waffle Hat by Gayle Bable, available on Ravelry.  It makes a very cushy-feeling hat, and it is easy to follow.  In our 34 years of marriage, I don’t ever remember him having a knitted hat with a stripe, so I went all out with this one.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Wallaby Notes

The latest Wonderful Wallaby is finished.  Since this is my 8th, I wanted to pass along hints that I have gained from experience.

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  • Sizing—This pattern has been around for awhile.  As written, it is definitely intended for a garment that is shorter than most of us wear them today, and it is also obviously intended to be worn as a sweater that replaces another inner top.  If you live where a hoodie is most useful as an outer garment pulled on over other clothes on a chilly day, you will need to consider that in your sizing.  My personal recommendation is to measure a garment that fits correctly, check your gauge, and make the size needed.  Length is not a problem--just keep knitting.  On the sleeves you will want to judge from the underarm down on another garment.  For children, I make the sleeves extra long with tight ribbing.  I’m going for 2 years of wear.
  • Yarn—My personal favorite for child wear is Plymouth Encore.  I get it from Webs.
  • Edges—My personal preference, which sort of messes up the Wallaby signature—for the neck placket and the edges of the pouch pocket is to use seed stitch instead of garter.  I like the firmer edge that it gives.
  • Needles—This garment is a perfect place to use a circular needle set.  I use cables as stitch holders all over the place with those little caps on the ends.  I screw and unscrew tips as needed for needle sizes.  I change cable lengths when needed.
  • Do follow the pattern suggestion about marking your pickup row for the pocket stitches.  It makes life much easier. 
  • I have made ties with a crocheted chain, with single crochet, with narrow seed stitch, and with I-cord.  They all work, but the chain is a little skinny for convenience.
  • Hood—The ribbing at the base of the hood makes the neck of the sweater fit very nicely.  I always make the garter hood.  I like the stretchiness and I like the contrast in texture with the body of the sweater.  The pattern suggests that for a nice finish the seam in the top of the hood should be kitchenered.  I did that on the first few that I made.  However, since you are kitchenering a folded seam, you are putting together two furrows or two ridges.  I just don’t like the way that looks.  I began experimenting with #7 with stopping with a wrong side row, turning to the right side, folding the hood, and using a three-needle bindoff.  It makes a slightly more pronounced ridge than the other garter ridges, but I think it looks much nicer than the other way, and it is still nice and stretchy.

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What I will do differently the next time:  I will put the underarm stitches on the sleeves and body on a firmer stitch holder than waste yarn.  It is very hard to pick them up nicely when I get ready to weave them together. 

Next up, a quick hat for my hubby and then a lovely pair of socks for ME, from some beautiful yarn my daughter’s family gave me for Christmas.

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Day After—Random Notes

Today was a knitting catch up day.  The replacement sweater that I intended to have finished for my youngest granddaughter by Christmas was put on hold during the days I was ill last week.  I knitted in every spare minute today, and I think that I am going to be able to finish tomorrow.  Smile

On the home front, I’m working on trying to get rid of one trash bag of throwaway clutter every day.  That does not include items to be given to charity.  I have to accumulate those and then take them when I am going out of town to a drop off place.

Before I retire tonight, I am also going to put on some steel-cut oats in my little crockpot.  I’ve been reading about doing this, and the recipe I found sounds good for breakfast.

While knitting, I’ve watched some tv or listened to audiobooks.  I’ve been able to download some of the Home Repair Homicide series by Sarah Graves.  I’ve actually read some of these before, but I can say that the audiobook narration is so entertaining that I’m enjoying them all over again.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A White Christmas

White Christmases are fairly rare in our part of the world.  We do have snow fairly frequently, but we tend to have most of our snows in the early months of the year.  However, there are “those” winters, and this one promises to become one of them.  We woke to the promised light snowfall this morning, hopped in the car, and set off to see our children in Amarillo.  Along the way, the snowfall became much heavier, with the roads covered.  Part of the reason they were covered was because there was such slight traffic.  Just as we reached Amarillo, the roads became relatively clear again.  We went to IHOP for breakfast with our son and his daughter, and then we drove to my daughter’s home for our Christmas.  With an 8-year-old and 2 4s, the gift opening didn’t take long.  We finished preparing our Christmas Dinner fairly quickly and ate it the same way because we could see the heavier snowfall out the window.  After the meal, we headed home, driving our 65 miles though snowfalls although the roads got better the farther we drove—sort of the reverse of the morning.  My daughter’s family needed to go 130 miles north, and they’ve arrived safely as well.  Son and his daughter are tucked in at his home.  I’m sure she’s playing with dolls and talking non-stop. 

Now I can post pictures of the Christmas knitting I didn’t show before.

The Emily Dickinson shawl:

back edited.

The second Moderne-style Blanket for my daughter’s new living room:

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And, in a no-affiliation recommendation, may I say that sewsecret4dolls on etsy makes cute, really well-made clothes for the American Girl and similar sized dolls that are easy for younger children to put on and take off.  I can assure you the products were road-tested today!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas today, even if it had to be a little bit brief, like ours.

And, for the final word on the holiday—I GOT YARN!  Pictures will follow when I can get a true color shot set up.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Have a Blessed Christmas!

Nativity-Cross

And when we give each other Christmas gifts in His name, let us remember that He has given us the sun and the moon and the stars, and the earth with its forests and mountains and oceans--and all that lives and moves upon them. He has given us all green things and everything that blossoms and bears fruit and all that we quarrel about and all that we have misused--and to save us from our foolishness, from all our sins, He came down to earth and gave us Himself.
― Sigrid Undset

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmases Performances Past

I went looking the other day for a remembered performance from a Tom Jones Christmas show.  In 1969, this young Welshman was one of the HOT contemporary entertainers.  This celebration of his heritage had me looking up Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales,” and to this very day I try to read it again sometime during the Christmas season.

Many years later at the Vatican Concert:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finally!

Weather, scheduling, a series of illnesses, and other general obstacles have kept me from getting together will all three granddaughters at the same time to make Christmas ornaments this year.  Today was the day!  I have one picture, my oldest granddaughter winding the yarn to make the wool on her sheep, which she named Sunshine in honor of the yellow yarn.  I tried to get pictures of the two 4 year olds, but they were moving at warp speed, so the pics turned into a blurry mess.

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The sheep bodies are bamboo, and I ordered them on etsy from Girl on the Rocks after seeing them on Franklin Habit’s blog last Christmas.  (Check out the fridge in the background.)

Just to be fair, the two little cousins, all ready for the Christmas Kinderkonzert  performed by the Amarillo Symphony Orchestra:

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Christmas Day will have to be extraordinary to be better than today.  I missed the older one and her little cousin and found that the big one had tucked M in for her nap and was reading her bedtime stories. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shopping Feedback

I did almost all my Christmas shopping on computer this year. Keeping in mind that these are only my personal experiences, I thought it might be worthwhile to post an evaluation of the service I received from different merchants. Of course, I realize that any one transaction could just be a one-time glitch, so please take that into account. Yes, I would have shopped locally, but I live in a very small town in which items that I wanted to purchase were not available. Adding in 35-70 miles, one-way, in gasoline costs made shopping on line seem like a good alternative.

  • Amazon—I found their customer service to be superior. The most difficult thing is hunting down the appropriate place on the web site. I used their chat service twice, once for a shipment that did not arrive and once for a digital download that I was charged the customary price for instead of the sale price. They immediately shipped a replacement for the first item by next day air, and they refunded the entire price of the download and did not charge me anything. In both cases, the resolution was more than I would have expected.
  • Target—I had difficulty placing an order on the Cyber weekend. Telephone customer service was also unreachable at the time. I ordered two of the same item. The items shipped at two different times by two different routes. They did keep me informed by email.
  • Land’s End—Shipping and customer service were adequate.
  • Hobby Lobby—I took advantage of their 40% off and some shipping offers in order to knit for Christmas. Their shipping was very fast and efficient. Orders were correct.
  • JoAnns—Service was good. Coupons were good. Hobby Lobby shipping was much, much faster.
  • Penneys—an old favorite of mine. I was very disappointed in customer service. I had difficulty placing the order from my shopping bag. It was being sent directly to the recipient, so I wanted to be notified and to be able to tell that person when to expect a package. The tracking system did not work. I called customer service, and they acted as if I were being unreasonable by wanting tracking info.
  • Others—I ordered two or three individual items from various sources that were mostly just one-time purchases. All arrived satisfactorily.
  • Etsy—every etsy vendor that I bought from shipped promptly and with care.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Best-Laid Plans. . . .

When Robert Burns wrote about plowing up a mouse’s nest, he was writing about this time of year:

An' bleak December's winds ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

We are definitely into bleak December winds, accompanied by snow, which are already wreaking havoc with holiday plans.  This is a mixed blessing.  After more than a year of drought and predictions for a dry winter, any amount of snow is welcome, and this is our second for the season.   However, blizzard conditions on the plains are not to be taken lightly.  In addition, it is always possible for blizzard snows to produce very little in the way of measurable precipitation, so we are waiting to see.  This weather will interfere with my planned trip on Wednesday to make Christmas ornaments with the granddaughters, but Christmas Day itself should be clear.  Our snow accumulations here are small enough to cause amusement to those of you up north, but because we don’t have frequent large snowfalls, we don’t have the snow removal equipment that is common in other parts of the country either.  It just isn’t economically practical. 

Furthermore, I was visited by a gastrointestinal something-or-other over the weekend.  Fortunately, my actual Christmas shopping and knitting was done.  I need to wrap.  The replacement sweater will probably not be quite finished by Christmas Day, however.  I know better than to try to knit when my mind is that foggy.

Right now, Hubby and I are in a warm house with a slab of ribs having just been cooked in the roaster, so everything smells great.  We can enjoy an evening of television and knowing that we don’t have to fight our way to work in the morning.

I just found this video interpretation of Burns’ poem:

Friday, December 16, 2011

Knitting Report for Friday

Wallaby progress—Finished body up to point where the sleeves attach.  Attached sleeves.  Ready to start the yoke tomorrow.

Lace project—Knitting was finished two or three weeks ago, but I didn’t have the courage to block it.  For one thing, my sore knee hurt enough if I stood still that I didn’t want to have to stand there while shoving in pins; for another, I was afraid that I would see a glaring error when I got it all stretched out.  This afternoon, I got brave!

Obligatory squished up lace photo--

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Pinned out--

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I am already a little disappointed in that while my shawl is blocking out nicely to the appropriate size, it is not as airy and light looking as the original.  Of course, I have no good reason to feel that way, since the original was knitted from cobweb weight and mine is knitted from Zephyr laceweight, which fine as it is, is comparatively a much heavier yarn than cobweb. 

Tomorrow I must sort and wrap some gifts and put the brisket—packer cut—into the refrigerator to thaw so that I can begin marinating it for Christmas dinner. The Wallaby also needs a yoke.

Knitting and a Present

I bought myself a present for Christmas, thanks to a suggestion from the Yarn Harlot’s series on gifts for knitters:

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This is a small, fully-lined project bag from the etsy shop of Stitchy McYarnpants.  I can always use another project bag, but I was also thrilled to see the fabric.  My first readers in first grade were from the Dick and Jane series, so I really loved this idea.  Now all it needs is socks in progress. 

The Wallaby is also growing. 

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The Wallaby pocket is knitted and fused, and 4 more inches of plain stockinette in the round will reach the sleeve attachment point. 

Please excuse the posing quality of these pics.  I am moving too fast right now to take on finding places for artistic poses for knitting products.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Wallaby Diary, continued

Yesterday was my husband’s birthday, so we drove up to Amarillo, bought groceries at United, and had lunch with the children and grandchildren.  All in all, it was a very nice day, but I got only a little bit of knitting done.

Today, I slept late after a restless night, and we spent some time putting together (him) and setting up (me) our Christmas/anniversary/his birthday present to each other, a new flat screen for the kitchen.  It’s a 22” Samsung, and will replace a very old 13” tv that we have had for probably 20 years.  The picture had gotten so fuzzy that we couldn’t actually read much of anything that scrolled across the screen.  This is going to be a real luxury.

I did, however, make some progress on the Wallaby.  The body is knitted up far enough for me to stop and drop back and pick up the stitches for the Wallaby pocket. I am going to try to get the pickup done tonight.  The pocket is one of my favorite parts of the sweater.

I finished listening to a really suspenseful mystery, Love You More by Lisa Gardner.  It is definitely a mindbender that keeps the reader interested and involved.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Movin’ On

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Bottom ribbing, body increases, and inserted “lifeline” so that stitches will be easier to pick up when I start the Wallaby pocket.  My Knit Picks Options make it particularly easy to insert this marker line.  I just thread some finer yarn through the hole for the tightening key, knit across the front of the sweater, and leave the line in.  That is much easier than going back with a yarn needle and picking out the stitches by hand, particularly when you have a yarn that is uneven in color saturation like this one.

Number Two

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Feel-good Christmas film recommendation—The Christmas Bunny, available on Netflix Watch Instantly.  I’d never seen this one.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sunday Morning News Bulletin

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First sleeve.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Welcome to the Wallaby Diary

Knitting has begun on the replacement Wonderful Wallaby.

First of all, a yarn picture:

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The yarn—Plymouth Encore in its Colorspun version—in the Hot Pink Specs colorway.  Encore is my go to yarn for Wallabies.  I think the acrylic content offers the parents the benefit of easy sweater care which is so important for young children.  The 25% wool content makes a lighter weight sweater than pure acrylic and makes it easier to weave in ends more invisibly and make more invisibe joins. Encore is also a “feel good” yarn to knit with.  I am not sure exactly why this yarn feels better going through my fingers than other yarns with the 75/25% fiber content mix, but it does.  I find the difference worth having to buy online and wait for an order and also having to spend a little more money per skein than from the other “identical” yarns.  FYI, this yarn was purchased online from WEBS. 

Some knitters suffer from second sock syndrome—for me, the disease is sleeve syndrome, first and second.  For some reason I hate knitting sleeves.  No matter how much I try to convince myself that a sleeve is just a sock without a heel and no matter that I know that actual clock time says sleeves go very fast, I just hate having a sweater almost done except for the sleeves.  (Remember that blue sweater I’ve been knitting for myself?  It’s just sitting right there by my chair waiting for sleeve completion!)  This time, I’m knitting sleeves first.  They will be all ready to attach when I reach that part of the body, and then I can just pop right on to the yoke and hood.  The first sleeve is just about 1/2 done:

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Looks like a hat, doesn’t it?  Two notes:

  • The hat shape is due to the fact that I am using the recommended increase method for small children and putting all the increases at the beginning of the sleeve.  As the pattern writer points out, very young children tend to have arms that are fairly uniform in size all the way up, so this gives a more comfortable fit.  I think it also fits better over long-sleeved garments if this particular sweater is being worn as a jacket.  A fussy child does not enjoy trying to get arms into tightly fitting sleeves, particularly with two fabrics exhibiting the “velcro effect.”  The pattern also gives directions for tapered sleeves.
  • It’s rather hard to see in the photograph, but I think this is some of the prettiest ribbing that I’ve ever knitted.  I almost always prefer 1 x 1 ribbing, and this is knitted using the combination knitting method that I learned in an online class from Annie Modesitt.  I hope the other sleeve and the bottom of the body turn out equally well.

If you are not familiar with this pattern, you should check it out on Ravelry.  It makes a very comfortable, easily-sized play sweater.  It can be very attractive, but it is also extremely practical and cozy.  The kangaroo pocket is a favorite with children and the technique is interesting.

Entertainment while knitting:  On Netflix, The McLeods; on MP3, The Serpent in the Crown, by Elizabeth Peters. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

A Short Knitting Post

The Gingerbread Hat:

Gingerbread

This design is by Angelrae Knits.  The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Worsted, in Bordeaux.  The actual color is much more of a wine/maroon color than the picture.  The cables were fun.  I modified the pattern a little bit:  I knitted the size M on size 8 needles and used 84 stitches.  In addition, I changed the decreases at the top:  the pattern gave instructions for a regular gathered top and a more rounded top.  I used the more rounded instructions, but I also modified the placement of my decreases in order to make a more “straight up” run of the cables.  I intended for this hat to be unisex, since it is for Hats for Sailors.  This yarn is a dream to knit with.  I’ve used the DK before, but not the worsted,  I’m definitely a satisfied customer!

I didn’t knit today.  I wanted a break before starting the Wallaby.  I did spend a little time this afternoon tidying up some leftovers from projects and unraveling some of the previously knitted squares and rolling them into balls to be ready for my next Mitered Cross square. 

We had a roast from the crockpot, spinach, and beets for lunch/dinner.  In retirement we sometimes just eat one meal in the early afteroon with a light snack in the evening.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

A Long, Rambling Knitter Story

I need to do a quick knit of a Wonderful Wallaby to replace one that I knit last year for one of my granddaughters.  It seems to have disappeared in some family moving.  I found out a few weeks ago, but I needed to finish some Christmas projects, and since my preferred yarn for Wallabies is Plymouth Encore, I waited on a Webs order.  Then, when the yarn came, I couldn’t find my Wallaby pattern, so I ordered another, which didn’t come in until today.  I will be all ready to cast on tomorrow.  Meanwhile, on the theory that one should never be without knitting, particularly when one is trying to rest a knee, I knitted a hat and then I started on a project that I’ve been wanting to do since I saw it on the Mason-Dixon blog earlier in the year—the Mitered Cross Blanket.

A few months ago, I ordered some Plymouth Boku to do an afghan that I saw in a knitting magazine that used mitered squares.  I was about half through, and it was indeed very pretty, but then I realized that I should have noticed the size given in the instructions.  It was going to be much too small for my needs.  I considered ordering more yarn, but given the price of the Boku and the fact that I would need to order about 100% more, I hesitated.  Not to mention potential dyelot problems.  I kept eyeing the Mitered Cross pattern.  The original is of Noro Silk Garden, and the blended colors in the vivid crosses and in the “solid” background are what makes much of the attractiveness of the afghan.  There are not all that many yarns out there with long, beautifully blended color runs.  I looked and looked at other people’s work on Ravelry.  I finally decided that I’m going to unravel my mitered square blanket and use another yarn for the background.  Instead of a neutral with color runs, I am using a neutral tweed.  I think this will work well since the Boku is also rather tweedy.  I am using Paton’s Classic Wool Tweed in Aran for the background.  Even though it’s 100% wool and the Boku has some silk content, I think it is going to work out fine.  I have knitted one square.  Here it is, unblocked:

square 1

I will not be working on this steadily; I’ll be knitting squares while taking breaks or between other projects, so I’ll try to post progress and pictures as I make the squares.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Precipitation and a Warm Hat

Snow!

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This won’t be much in the way of moisture, but it beats high, dry winds, and it is certainly better than nothing at all. 

I haven’t accomplished quite as much the last couple of days as I had planned.  I stumbled over a box yesterday and banged up a knee a little bit.  All appears to be well, and I’m getting around today, trying to keep anything from getting stiff while letting it heal.  Fortunately, this is good knitting weather.  And it is GREAT retirement weather.  In this little town, driving to work in the snow was never much of a problem, but walking from the parking lot to the building could be a real challenge.  My husband would also have to clear sidewalks at our business. Today we didn’t have to do any of that.Open-mouthed smile

OTN:  The Gingerbread Hat in Knit Picks Swish Worsted, color Bordeaux.  My intention is for this to be one done for the next Hats for Sailors deadline on Memorial Day.  If it goes to someone else before then, I’ll just knit another.  The pattern is easy, and I’m enjoying the cables, since it’s been awhile since I did any.

I’m going to spend the rest of the evening with my knee up, knitting, and watching a new episode of The Closer

Friday, December 02, 2011

A Brief Post

I am short on time, so here are some random thoughts:

  • Check out this link to an interesting story from Edinburgh.
  • The tinked project is back on track, if not entirely caught up to the tinking point.
  • Observation about Facebook:  I have noticed that the former schoolmates who are most likely to post rants about what is wrong with the youth of today—the usual things—are the ones who had the reputations of being the biggest hellraisers and troublemakers when we were young.  Time evidently changes perspective. 
  • In spite of the complaints I read everywhere, I find Amazon’s customer service to be very good to excellent, even at very busy times of the year.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Tink, Tink, Tink

On the plus side:

  • Christmas shopping is mostly done.  I’m down to the bought-everything-I-really-need-unless-I-come-across-an-absolutely-perfect-tiny-something point.
  • Tomorrow will be our wedding anniversary—34 years.
  • I got 2 yarny packages today.  One is Paton’s Classic Tweed from JoAnns that will let me use some Plymouth Boku that I have on hand to make a Mitered Crosses Blanket.  I am not liking the pattern that I purchased the Boku for, so I’m changing.  The other is from KnitPicks—a new set of metal needle tips, size 8 (mine are showing some wear, and I sometimes have two projects that need this size at the same time); my first—no kidding—set of DPN sock needles—Harmony, 1 1/2s—I’ve always Magic Looped, but I’m going to try the dark side; and enough Swish in some different colors for the Hats for Sailors project for the next go-round, due Memorial Day.

Note:  Much of my knitting is self-or Internet- taught.  Years ago, I read about knitting with DPNs.  It was a hat.  I bought some.  There were 4 very heavy, very slick, very sharp size 7s about 8 inches long.  The instructions were scanty.  They just said something like “cast on x stitches, dividing evenly among needles.  Join ends and knit in the round.”  Of course, I spread the stitches over all 4 needles and then struggled to scoot them to the appropriate ends without getting stabbed by a needle that was sticking out or by one of the very heavy and slick missiles sliding out of the stitches and impaling my foot.  Therefore, I never seriously considered DPNs for sock knitting until now.  We’ll see if I’ve lost my nerve when I finish my current project.

On the minus side:

  • Knitting project is trying to beat me.  I quit putting in lifelines after the lace part.  Now I’ve found an unfixable mistake 10 rows down the double decrease in the center back, and I’m afraid to try to frog laceweight, so I’m painstakingly tinking back to the place for repair, unbeading as I go.  I’m reminding myself that it will be worth it and that one of the beauties of knitting is that unlike most things in life it can always be fixed or at least you can have a do-over.  I’m watching a miniseries on the British monarchy, and I just tinked from mid-reign of Elizabeth I to the beginning of the Civil War, and I am still not through.
  • None of the Christmas shopping is wrapped, not a single gift. 
  • I have all sorts of cleaning and decluttering to do.  Still need to get out the Christmas Cat.

Monday, November 28, 2011

An Anniversary and Knitting Progress

Yesterday was Daddy’s birthday; today was their wedding anniversary.  I was told that they planned a birthday wedding but an autumn snowstorm prevented their travelling to Clovis, so the wedding was postponed for a day.  They were married in the living room of her sister’s house there, with her sister and brother-in-law as witnesses.  It was 1931, the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl.  There are no pictures of the wedding itself although they did have a very nice formally posed wedding portrait taken after the fact.  However, there is one snapshot taken the morning after the wedding.  I think it was at the country home of Mama’s parents.

Coveralls

There are certainly more attractive pictures of them about the same time period—photos that hint of fun and a little bit of mystery, like this one:

Faye_and_Elroy_1

Or this one:

Faye_and_Elroy_2

However, when my dad knew that he was terminally ill, it was that first snapshot in the overalls that he asked for and insisted on having it propped up where he could see it.

Knitting Progress:

emilyknit

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Expensive Pizza

Have you ever heard the old story that says that “dog bites man” is not necessarily news, but “man bites dog” is?

Yesterday was one of those times.  We decided we wanted pizza for lunch.  Pizza Hut pizza.  For us, that decision entails a 35 mile drive, one way.  With gas prices, that alone adds significantly to the price of a pizza, but we often go to this neighboring town to pick up items we can’t get here, and I did save significantly on the mops and broom that I needed.

I should also add that the winds yesterday were about 35 mph, with stronger gusts.  There was also blowing dust due to the lack of rain.  Neither of these situations is unusual for us.  In the Panhandle if you stayed home on every windy day, you would be a hermit.

Uneventful trip until we got to town and turned north on the street to Pizza Hut, directly into the wind.  One of those signboards made out of fairly heavy plywood flats hinged together on the top blew away from the parking lot where it was sitting and cartwheeled sideways in front of us.  We could not dodge due to traffic, but my DH did hit the brakes and slow us down significantly.  The bottom corner of the sign, which was now on top, hit the passenger side of our car directly behind the headlight, causing a very deep, but fairly small dent.  However, another few inches and it would have been on top of the hood and probably through the windshield.  The headlight wasn’t even broken.  We were very thankful.  And I would just like to point out that this was one case where “I was just driving down the road and that sign just jumped out and hit me” was the absolute truth and not a joke.

Deniability—I have been avoiding my current knitting project because I thought I really messed up the last row of the lace portion.  Last night, I gathered my courage—after you’ve escaped a wayward sign, what’s a little yarn—and checked and counted.  It appears that everything is ok, so I’m moving on to garter stitch today.  (Sigh of Relief)

BTW, the pizza was particularly delicious.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving Dinner Surprise

Considering all the preparation involved in preparing a Thanksgiving dinner, how do you have a surprise?  The story is long.  I usually have the family Thanksgiving at our house, but things are in disarray this year, so we were to have it at my daughter’s home in Amarillo on the 19th.  The early date was because of a family member who needed to be elsewhere on the Day.  Beginning the weekend before, however, the three little girls in the family began getting ill with a respiratory virus involving several contagious days with temp, general misery, and in one case, 7 nights of what we old timers describe as croup.  So did the doctor.  One mom spent all those nights holding the little one in a recliner beside a vaporizer before acquiring the illness herself.  Our plans were cancelled, then half-revived before being cancelled again.  On Wednesday, the mom was feeling much better, but no one was in the mood to thaw a turkey and make dressing so we gave up.  I did, however, drive to Amarillo on Thanksgiving morning to visit my son and to take care of some postponed family business.  Then conversations about lunch ensued.  Then we called my daughter’s house and examined what local restaurants were open.  At 10:55 or so, to beat the crowd, we hit the parking lot of a local tourist/Route 66 hotspot—The Big Texan—the place that presents pseudo Old West, tourist style, nailhead studded purse, big haired, mounted longhorn and buffalo head Texas at its finest.  Locals have a more mixed reaction—we enjoy the fun with a somewhat tongue-in-cheek reaction to the tourists.  As my 5 year old son remarked the first time he visited and looked over the Stetson, chaps, and boots-clad waiter, “Mom, these cowboys don’t smell right.”  It was true—they didn’t smell anything like the real cowboys at lunch in the Tasty Cream back home—no eau de manure and horse sweat.

On Thanksgiving, the usual atmosphere was missing, or was probably actually there, but invisible behind the crowd.  The enormous parking lot was entirely full; we elbowed our way through the crowd to the registration desk, where my SIL was given one of those round flashy things and a promise of a 10 minute wait.  The wonderfully kitschy curio shop was SRO.  I finally became claustrophobic, squeezed out on the porch to a bench, and texted my family.  We stayed out there for 1 hr. and 15 minutes before getting a table.  SIL said that by the time the hostess flashed his device, there was also a lengthy waiting list for flashers.  I am afraid the children got to see almost nothing of the charm of the place.  It was waaaay too crowded.  The food, however, was excellent.  Lots of raw veggie choices, fruit choices, a green bean casserole, sweet and mashed potatoes, dressing, giblet gravy, and a very moist and delicious turkey, and, of course, in Texas, juicy roast beef.  The amazingly efficient waiter—no chaps, but hat, boots, and western shirt—kept our beverages topped off and brought pumpkin or pecan pie.  In spite of the fact that a couple of members of the family missed out, and I’m really sorry about that, we managed to have a lot of fun!

And, instead of doing tons of dishes and disposing of that messy turkey carcass, we spent the afternoon and evening doing this:

Yep, my DD and SIL painted their hall, and then “we” hung paintable bead board texture on the bottom.  I did the pasting.  This is a very short video because it was supposed to be a still picture.  I’m still getting acquainted with my IPhone.  Today, they completed the painting and the chair rail trim. 

I took knitting and managed 3 rows of a plain stockinette sock. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

At this time of year, I’m so thankful for the blessings of God and family and friends and country!

Thanksgiving Plate

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Hat Project

hats

Pictured above is a bed full of the 337 hats donated to Hats for Sailors.  (The button for the Ravelry group is in the sidebar.)  These hats are part of an ongoing project to supply hats for U.S. Navy personnel to wear in their off-duty hours aboard ship.  This batch is going to the U.S.S. Ingraham, and there are enough excess hats to send to a smaller ship. 

I needed to order something from Knit Picks this morning, so I ordered yarn for the next round of hats.  Navy requirements are that the yarn be 100% wool (fire regs) and washable.  I have no local sources for superwash, so I ordered some Swish.  This past go-round, I knit only one hat—gray, front row, third from right—(I know it looks small, but it is very squashy and stretchy.)  This time, I am going for four.  I have some other patterns chosen in addition to my favorite Jacques Cousteau, and I’ll be knitting three different blues and a dark red, some DK, some worsted.  You can check the blog or the Ravelry group for more information and for patterns and yarn sources.  If you have some washable wool in your stash, or if you can buy some, this is a quick project to give a warm hug to some of our military.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cultural Experiences and a Knitting Start

Today is Friday, my usual hamburger-at-the-drive-in day, a real celebration in retirement, particularly when I have been marathon knitting and waiting for the plumber.  We, however, did something small town exciting.  We went to the new Thai/Chinese restaurant.  It is tiny—10 tables—and located in a former office building tucked in behind a gas station across the side street to the grocery store, but it is there, and it is neither a hamburger place or a Mexican restaurant.  (We have had 2 of the former and 3 of the latter, and that’s been it for quite awhile.  If you don’t count the pizza/gas station/convenience store/coffee shop.)  I had very acceptable chicken fried rice, and we visited with some people we hadn’t seen in awhile.

I also had a package in the mail. 

photo(12)

These are the lucets I plan to use with my granddaughters.  I bought them from n Sistermaide on etsy.  Her service was very quick, especially considering that she made these up especially for me.  These are the medium size, and I included a regular size paper clip so you could judge the size.  After I finish posting, I am going to try one out.  The reason I have this many is so that I can fix up a little kit to share this fiber experience with my granddaughters.

I have also begun deadline project number 3. 

photo(13)

Please notice that I have blotted out the name.  That is on purpose.  If you’ve knitted it, you may recognize the charts.  Unlike the other project knitting, this one starts with 545 stitches and gets smaller.  I had been reading comments on the pattern and felt rather sympathetic when one knitter said that the cast on and first row took her 2 hours.  Ha!  I spent almost 3.  Part of the trouble is that this was suggested as a backward loop cast on, and that kind of cast on is always painfully slow for me to knit off the first time.  I also took the time to add markers between every repeat.  I will only need those for the first 13 or so rows, so that should help.  I am also getting faster at adding the beads.  This is probably the last picture you will see until the project is completed and gifted.

Random Updates

Number 2 of 3 knitting-with-deadline projects is finished! 

Number 3 will be OTN today!

I also finished another first—my first library-downloaded Kindle book.  I had been neglecting Kindle in favor of a totally audio diet so that I could put in knitting time.  This week, however, I did read Shock Wave, the new Virgil Flowers novel by John Sandford.  The library did not have the audio available.  I suspect that all libraries are slighting audio budgets right now to beef up ebook selections, and that is totally understandable.  I just hope the disparity evens out soon.  I know there are people who can read and knit, but I’m not one of them.  It was really nice, though, to be able to use my Kindle 2, my most comfortable reader, to read a free library book.  It was also good to be able to do an immediate check in when I finished so that the book would be available for someone else.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Wow, Mom!

I came across this item in some family “junk” that we were cleaning out this week.

A No. 132 Hohner Marine Band Harmonica, in its original case.  This item is a keeper, not because I play it, but because of the story.

My grandmother passed away when I was in college, right before I was leaving for a summer abroad, so when her home was cleaned out, I was 6000 miles away.  A few boxes were put in storage in some other property.  Several years later, that property sold, and as a young adult, I came home to help my parents clean out the storage.  In a chest, we found this harmonica.  At the time, my mother was, I suppose, in her late sixties.  She grabbed the instrument with delight and began playing.  I won’t say that she was the most talented harmonica player I had ever heard, but she was the best I had ever heard in person.  The most amazing thing, though, is that I had never ever heard her play or heard her mention that she had played. 

Just a reminder that we never quite know another person as well as we think we do!

WIP—acreage still expanding

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Grandmother Help Needed!

Last Monday would have been my Grandma Carrie’s 123rd birthday.  I suppose that put me in a reflective mood and gave me a nudge toward something I had been thinking about.  I learned to sew mostly from watching my mother, from a Singer sewing class when I was in upper elementary, and from Home Economics classes in high school back in the days of the lined, tailored wool suit with the hair canvas and padding stitches and bound buttonholes.  However, my interest in some of the needlework arts came from hours spent with my grandmother when I was very, very small.  By the time I was in upper elementary, she had a stroke which affected her ability to sew and do handwork beyond rudimentary mending and button sewing, but when I was little, I sat at her knee while she embroidered and crocheted.  My mother was perfectly capable of these tasks, but much too busy with a home, a child, and helping in my father’s business.

From Grandma, I learned how to cross stitch, embroider French knots, and outline stitch.  I learned some of the basics of crochet—chaining, single crochet, and making a circle.  (She insisted that I use only yarn and bone hooks because the extremely fine hooks she used for lace were considered too dangerous.  She was convinced I would stick one in my finger and then it would have to be pushed all the way through like a fish hook to cut the end off and get it out.)

Eventually, I learned a little more crochet as a teenager from watching my mother crochet afghans after she retired.  I still have not attempted crocheted lace, but my next knitting project will use one of those fine needles handed down from my grandmother to place beads in my first beaded lace project.

It seems I have rambled.  I want to begin working with my own granddaughters in teaching them some of the joys of needlework.  I have some ideas in mind, somewhat different ones since my interests and skills are a little different from my predecessors.  My situation is a little more inconvenient because I don’t live in the same town.

I am thinking of beginning with making lucet cords.  The girls are 4, 4, and 8.  I think that will give them a fast feeling of success.  My original intention was to then string pony beads on these to make bracelets, but I would welcome any other suggestions of projects that don’t take too long.  I know shoelaces would be a possibility, but I think that would take too much time at first.

I then plan to move on to potholder looms and loops.  I am reasonably sure that they will not have the finger strength to pull and finish the edges, but they should be able to manage the weaving, I think.  Even if they have lots of assistance with the weaving, they should learn a great deal about color choice.

One of the children has a fine motor issue, so I also plan at some point to introduce a prewarped Cricket loom which can be managed with a larger hand motion.

Finally, I plan to move on to knitting.  I have a couple of easy projects lined up that I think they will like. 

However, as I said, I’m going to be doing this on sort of an “in and out” basis, so any suggestions you might have will be welcome.  I won’t have the long afternoons of one-on-one that I had with my own grandmother, but I’m not in a rush either. 

WIP update:  Knitting acreage continues!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

No Picture, but Lots of Knitting

I used to harp on the overuse of the word “lot” as a lazy replacement for a more precise word describing a large amount of something, but since my current project is quite literally large, rather square, flat, and covered in furrows of garter stitch, “lot” seems appropriately descriptive.  I have managed rather more than I thought I would this week because I have been spending much of the time waiting for a plumber/handyman person who was supposed to be here on Tuesday afternoon.  That was contingent upon his mother’s being released from day surgery on time.  Since I have been in the position of having an elderly patient in day surgery before, I really did not hold out much hope for Tuesday, but I did beg off my lunchtime Bible Study just in case.  I was right. 

Wednesday was a no show also.  So was today.  I was definitely afraid not to be here in case he did come, so I just kept knitting.  At least the time has been productive. It is my understanding that he will be here tomorrow if she was released from the hospital today.  We’ll see.  I will just keep knitting.

A couple of years ago, David Reidy mentioned the Brother Cadfael mysteries as good knitting.  I really can’t remember if he was talking about the audio books or the television series.  I have already exhausted the audio books that I have access to—both of them.  However, Netflix has recently made the television series Cadfael , starring Derek Jacobi, available.  The three I’ve watched so far have been a treat, and they are great to concentrate on while knitting mindless rows of garter stitch.  If you like medieval or mysteries or good acting, have a go at these.

I will also admit to taking knitting breaks with Hanging and Angry Birds. 

Note:  I am so glad that both David and Brenda Dayne are back with podcasts.  I don’t listen to many podcasters, but I really enjoy theirs, and not just for the knitting content.  In case you are not familiar with them, David is from Australia and Brenda lives in Wales.  The different cultural backgrounds add to the charm of their programs.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

For English Teachers, Former English Teachers, and Other Lovers of the Language

I am becoming increasingly convinced that Facebook is irrevocably corrupting English grammar and syntax.  The games, in particular, seem to have difficulty with plurals, gender agreement, and common spellings.  The use of “their” as an all-purpose pronoun to avoid gender reference and ignore number is particularly irritating.  All of these are problems with the programs and the site itself—I will not even mention all of the grievous injury inflicted by users.

This afternoon, however, my technical writer daughter liked a group which I consider worth posting.  (Notice how techy I am to have used “liked” in such a with-it fashion.)  The group is devoted to the celebration and preservation of the Oxford comma.  There are a couple of interesting articles.  If you don’t know what an Oxford comma is, one is lurking in the title of this post.  Here’s the link if you wish to read the articles or merely to lend your support to such an important matter.  If you do not like Oxford commas, you will simply have to abstain or start your own group because Facebook does not yet offer a dislike button.

Friday, November 04, 2011

A Movie Review

Actually a DVD review, but not really because I watched it by electronic download indexinstead of on the DVD, but I couldn’t watch it that way until the DVD came out, so . . . .

I really liked the novel Water for Elephants, both for the main story and for the portrayal of a side of the Great Depression that is seldom written about.  I was hesitant to see the film because I was afraid I would be disappointed.  Also, I just don’t get to an actual theater very often because the distance adds a substantial amount to the ticket price.  I save my theater trips for those films that really need a BIG screen.  For other video experiences, I make use of an HD flat screen and my living room.  It’s better for knitting and watching anyway.

It turns out that I was quite pleased with this film.  The acting was great.  The cinematography managed to give me the feeling that I was there, but at the same time something about the lighting and focus reminded me of the past.  I thought the film did justice to the main story and to the storyline about the Great Depression.  Of course, in a genre-to-genre conversion of this type, detail is always left out.  The one theme that was noticeably slighted was the old-age aspect.  I missed the ongoing battle between the protagonist and the other old man in the nursing home.  However, the film was a lovely way to spend a couple of wintry hours and well worth the rental fee.  If you haven’t read the book, please do, but watch the film also.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

A Finished Project and a Prize

I did indeed finish the afghan on my deadline of November 1—at 11:23 p.m., but on the date.  I plan to wash it for wet blocking purposes, but I’m going to wait until closer to the time to wrap it for Christmas.  This is based on the Mason-Dixon Moderne Baby Blanket pattern, which, of course, is not big enough for a 6’1” man, so I modified by adding six garter row bumps to each block.  In the end, that still was not quite big enough, so I added a side band on one side and an additional bottom block.  I used PurlBee’s directions for an attached I-cord edge.  I did add one more stitch, making mine a 5-stitch edge.  Even though this method is slightly different from what I remember using before, I am generally pleased with the result.

Yarn Review:  This yarn is Patons Décor, an acrylic/wool blend.  I chose it for its washability and because I could get the shadings of a monotone color family that I wanted for this project.  I like the yarn very much, but I think the price point could be better.  I also noticed a considerable difference in the feel of the different colors.  The lighter colors are fuzzier, fluffier, and you can almost swear an angora rabbit had sneaked in somewhere, although there is no shedding.  Some of the medium colors are almost silk like, but definitely not as fluffy.  Nevertheless, they work well together.  The end product is a wonderfully drapey, cuddly, comforting hug of an afghan.  The colors are specifically listed on my Ravelry page, but basically they are all of the taupe family, plus winter white and aran.  I would definitely use this yarn again, but I will check colors on Plymouth Encore first because of the Webs discount.

I have already begun a second Christmas project that I will not be posting pictures of.  My third planned project will be the same, so this is likely to be a rather dull knitting resource for awhile.  Sorry about that!  I do, however, promise to complain about any trials and tribulations I have along the way.  One of them will, I hope, be my first project using knitted-in beads.  I have established that thanks to my mother and grandmother’s hoards, I do have the required tiny crochet hook to place the beads with. 

As you can tell from the sidebar, I use Goodreads to keep track of my reading.  Occasionally, there are offers from publishers or agents or someone for advance copies of books.  Usually so many people sign up that it turns into a contest.  Well, I won:

I like historical fiction, so I am excited.  Ironically, I have made an effort in the last year or so to use the library, electronic editions from the library, an occasional kindle purchase, to save money and to cut down on clutter.  This is a hardback!  I feel as if I have a real treasure on my hands!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

halloween1

I am so sorry that all of you in the Northeast are having such foul weather!  We are still really dry down here in spite of the light snow last week.  I read that precipitation raised our annual to almost 1/4 of the yearly average.  I know, however, that too much can be just as bad and destructive as too little.  You have my sympathies.

I have a new knitting tool:

Yep!  That’s an IPhone 4S!  I am excited.  We live in a hole for the other services that provide service for IPhone, but my Sprint account was due for an upgrade.  This picture does not show the color well.  That’s the last white one that the Amarillo store had, outfitted in a blue/blue Otterbox Defender to protect it from my fumbly fingers.  I immediately installed one of the sets of knitting apps—KnitMinder and StitchMinder.  I think they will be quite useful, particularly since the holster for this case turns into an easel.  (I would welcome suggestions for other useful apps.)  However, the best knitting app has been unexpected.  The garter stitch afghan that I’ve been knitting on is now big and covers me from feet to chin, and I just struggled through the intarsia sections.  Now I’m adding extra blocks for a bigger size.  Whenever I settled down for tv or audio book and a knit after lunch and spread that warm afghan out on my lap, I kept dozing off.  (DH said I was “testing driving” the afghan.)  Then I found Words with Friends and Hanging with Friends.  I am trying to play a round between every row.  That keeps me awake, mostly, although I’ve made some rather spectacular game goofs when I’ve gotten drowsy.  I should finish the knitting tonight and the I-cord tomorrow.  My goal was Halloween, so I won’t miss it by much.

I wonder if there are recorded injuries from a knitter falling asleep on size 8 metal circs?

Friday, October 21, 2011

It’s big and white. . . .

Actually, it’s not all that big by today’s standards—I didn’t want to remodel a perfectly good kitchen, so this is a narrower fridge with French doors and a bottom freezer.  I am unreasonably excited.  Why?  Well, somehow I have never ever gotten to buy a refrigerator before.  Yes, I’m 62 and I’ve been married for 33 years, but the opportunity has never come up, probably in large part because I grew up with the “use it till it wears out” philosophy.

My first refrigerator was used.  It was in my first house when I was single, and it wasn’t very used.  At that time, my dad actually sold appliances in his small town hardware store.  A customer surprised his wife with a refrigerator—one of the small ones that only had one big door with the freezer on the inside—in a lovely harvest gold color.  It was the ‘70s.  Unfortunately, her kitchen was avocado.  She kept it for about a year and then traded it in to my dad for another.  I got the gold one.  It was an excellent little refrigerator with an icemaker.  When DH and I married, we kept the house and the fridge for a few years, but by the time we moved to our present town, we had two children and that fridge was really small. 

The house we moved into had an almost-new top freezer model.  It came with the house.  I used it from 1984-2003.  It cooled and froze well, but the outside top sweated like crazy, so much that it would grow mildew on the top of the refrigerator.  I finally found out that there was inadequate insulation in the top of the freezer, but I was not the original purchaser and the warranty would have worn out anyway.  I did not replace it, however, because we were starting a business and raising a family and for much of the time I was looking after a sick parent as well.

Then we moved back to my childhood home in the same community.  I gladly gave up the mildewy model for my mom’s side-by-side.  It was, however, a very narrow side-by-side, and it has gradually been giving out on us.  I should mention that it was purchased in the late ‘70s or very early ‘80s, so it had a good run.  For the last few months, it had been freezing everything that had any water content.  I had given up on storing much in the way of fresh vegetables.  Since we can only get good produce by buying when we are out of town and given that gas prices are such that we try to avoid special trips just for groceries, I felt we needed something that would store food safely and something with more interior room.  Besides, getting the milk out early enough for it to thaw whenever you needed some was just a nuisance.  We have also been noticing that when we get a handful of ice out and drop a cube, the floor seems much lower than it used to when we were younger.  Now we will have an ice dispenser and properly refrigerated foods.  I hope.  I have not yet had time to try out this new appliance, so I hope I’m not disappointed. 

Knitting progress—I am making good progress on the Moderne blanket.  The crocheted blanket that I had planned did not go well.  I frogged it after two evenings of crochet.  I have mentally redesigned, and I’m using as a base a pattern that I found on Ravelry that is constructed in the same fashion as the Moderne but with a different pattern of blocks.  It avoids the intarsia sections completely. 

On the subject of the pattern that I frogged--is it just me, or do patterns that are written by yarn companies for objects like afghans, blankets, and scarves sometimes skimp on the size, perhaps in an effort to make the project look like it could be cheaper than it will actually be if you knit or crochet a decent size?

Monday, October 17, 2011

For Bronte Fans—a book review

 

6394951Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler

(Copy of my Goodreads review)

First of all, let me say that I am a big fan of the works of the Bronte sisters.  I am also something of an admirer of Charlotte.  I recognize that this work is a novel, but it is undoubtedly based on research.  Unlike some of the other reviewers, I do not doubt that given the isolation and stress of the family situation and the fact that the three sisters were all writers, professional and sibling rivalry did exist.  However, those conflicts seemed to be more the focus of the latter part of this novel than I felt was warranted.  The story of the family is deeply moving, and I thought the novel slighted that aspect in favor of conflict.  Indeed, the last years of Charlotte's life were treated almost as an afterthought.

Perhaps I was misled by the title, but the book started with promise, switching back and forth from the hospital room in Manchester, where we know Charlotte began Jane Eyre, to episodes from the past.  Then, however, this novel seemed to lose focus.  I suppose I was expecting more of an analysis of how Charlotte was reflected in her own novel, and I did not find much of that.  I know just as much of how Anne's life is reflected in her books and how Emily used the Bronte family as material for Wuthering Heights.

I also felt that Charlotte's personal feelings were presented in a somewhat more hysterical fashion than I associate with her, particularly since part of the emphasis of Jane Eyre seems to be on controlling excessive display of emotion.  However, I will give the book the benefit of the doubt because I was listening to the audio book, and this feeling of mine may be due to the style of the reader.

I am glad I read this novel, and I did gain some insights into the family.  I just have trouble with this particular genre of fictionalized biography whenever I encounter it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Saturday Report

First of all, here’s some knitting candy:

It’s an adaptation of a Moderne Baby Blanket that I’m working on for a Christmas present.  This project is for an adult, so after the first three-block foundation, I’m increasing each block by six garter ridges.  I’m also knitting with a worsted yarn, Patons Décor, and using larger needles.  I still think I will need to add a border strip before the actual I-cord border to get the size that I need, but that will be ok.  However, I have been knitting so steadily that I am suffering from garter fatigue.  I have another Christmas project to crochet, so I’m going to start it and switch between the two because I know I will feel the same way about double crochet before I’m through with that one!  I will blog my progress on the second blanket, but I will not include pictures until after it is gifted.

I’ve been knitting to a LOT of Netflix.  I’ve enjoyed watching The Murdoch Mysteries and my DH and I have watched a few of the Catherine Coulter historical miniseries based on her books.  The last one that I watched was set around World War I.  I am the child of older parents, and I couldn’t help but think that those lovely dresses reminded me of pictures of my grandmother.  Those were the lovely dresses worn by the shopkeepers in the film, not the aristocracy by any means.  It seems particularly fitting since today would have been Mother’s 103rd birthday.

My sweater is not quite finished.  I still have some sleeve work to do, and I just haven’t been in the mood.  Perhaps I can use that as a garter stitch “break” as well.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Plans for Wednesday and Really Random Observation

I have extensive plans for tomorrow.  I am writing them down here so that I will be more likely to do them:

  • Clean out the refrigerator.
  • Take out some major trash—I have some boxes and stuff that need to go out to the dumpster.
  • Spousal felting session—No, I am not felting my spouse.  In a marathon knitting session made less tiring by watching back-to-back episodes of Bramwell, I finished some new wool slippers for my DH.  His felted clogs just absolutely wore out last year.  I had promised a new pair.  Just as I was knitting the instep decreases on the first clog, he mentioned that he would like slippers with a back and a side, so I switched to the Alpine Boots pattern by the same designer.  That pattern has boots and also some more substantial slippers, and, most importantly, it happens to use the same sole and toe increases as the clogs, or near enough considering this is a felted project.  I have already warned him that since he is retired, I am not felting alone and guessing at the size by holding up various samples of his shoes to try to get it right.  This time I intend to size them to the actual feet, so I have plans for DH spending part of tomorrow with slightly soapy, very warm, wet feet until we get it right!
  • Plan thorough grocery list.

I’ll let you know how this turns out.

Cultural observation—My daughter’s family recently moved into a new section of town.  New to them at least.  This is a residential area with a rather creative street layout, and while I can find their house fairly easily, I am still experimenting with how to get there if I come into the subdivision a different way.  Furthermore, this is one of those sections in which if you go around a sharp curve on the same street, the street name may change.  I always find that difficult.  Last week I tried a new route, drove down Hatfield Street and realized that I had arrived at the intersection of Hatfield and McCoy—someone has a sense of humor.  Then I had one of those English teacher moments.  I knew that in that same subdivision there is a street named Montague.  Aha!  If there is a McCoy for Hatfield, surely there is a Capulet for Montague.  Alas, I can’t find it on a map.  (This is complicated because I have been told that local pronunciation for Montague is “Montag.”  That’s just too confusing.)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life and Knitting Update

No knitting pictures, sorry.

I’ve made great progress on the KAL sweater.  The body is done, except for buttons.  Now I just have to finish the two sleeves, which will be 3/4.  I should start on them this afternoon.  I think the sweater is going to fit okay.  I know people always say that you can try on a top down raglan thanks to the flexibility of the needle cables, but with the tendency of stockinette to roll and the absence of blocking, I am never just quite sure.  So if this winter you see me in an ill-fitting blue cardigan, please notice that the bottom bind off  is absolute perfection.  (This last sentence is directed only at knitters—if you have to ask what a bind off is, never mind.) 

I procrastinated this morning looking up some ideas on-line for a gift project for someone who needs one right now.  I also need to make it RIGHT NOW.  I looked and looked and then went back to an old standby pattern.  Jo-Ann’s had an on-line sale for the yarn, so I should be ready to go when it comes in.  I can alternate between it (fairly mindless) and my DH’s promised felted clog slippers (ditto) for some quick knitting.  The larger project will require some frequent color changes, so that will help break up any monotony.

I also just reorganized my spices, using an organizer I bought on Amazon.  I should say, part of my spices, because I am ashamed to say I still have some infrequently used ones in the rectangular tins with the sliding lids.  I know they are so old that I should toss most of them, but I don’t.  I also have a few, like garlic powder and cumin—available here in the Mexican spices as comino—in large containers, so they will go on another shelf.  This won’t be quite as handy as grabbing them from the lazy susan that I was using, but that could only be said for the ones on the outside of the lazy susan.  I was forever buying something I already had because I couldn’t find it.  I will see how I like using this system before I buy more.  It also enables me to make use of a narrow cabinet and frees up the larger space I had been using for something else.

bio.jbtfsplk

Joe Btfsplk, from L’il Abner

For those of you out there who are my local friends, I know I have been posting more infrequently.  We are all ok.  I have just not been in the mood to make observations that were not hopelessly cynical or even to talk to people very much; our family has been going through our own version of annus horribilis, and the less said about it the better.  Trying to fight my mood and the heat was more than I wanted to do.  Now that fall is arriving, I will be emerging from my shell or cave or whatever.  I can’t hibernate in the winter because I must wear knitwear!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remember

 

 

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In memory of those who died on September 11, here is a link to “On Hallowed Ground,” my favorite essay about 9/11. It is written by the humorist Dave Barry.

A Finished Project

The sweater being blocked, or at least drying.  I suspect it is far too big for the granddaughter’s present size, but she will grow.  I like the pattern, but since it is a Jiffy pattern, the lack of size adjustment is a little worrisome.  When/if I continue my plan to knit sweaters for the younger granddaughters, the button band will be seed stitch instead of garter.  Garter is much too stretchy on these larger needles.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

A Link to Something Special

My daughter homeschools.  They moved to a new house in July, and for the first time, she has a dedicated classroom/play area for the girls.  She just finished remodeling the room and made some before/after pictures.  Her pictures were picked up by one of the organizing blogs.  Here’s the link.  Her name is Carrie—there are other neat classrooms there as well.  I am particularly fond of the art work above the desk area; the girls did the two big paintings, and my daughter did the melted crayon art in the center.