Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grandchildren

My grandma had a saying that God made grandchildren “closer to the floor.”  My aunt said that she used to say the same about her children until they were grown up.  When you heard it, you could be sure that she wanted you to pick up or to hunt for something.  Well, today my 4-year-old granddaughter paid me a visit.  When she came, she brought one of those little Barbies that McDonalds is giving away.  When her dad came back after her, she couldn’t find it.  Well, guess where it was?  Down low, snuggled up with my missing ball of sock, needles, and yarn!  The one I had looked for all last week!  I suppose Grandma was right.  In my own defense, it was in a spot without much traffic on a background that made the stripey sock pattern as good as camouflage. Barbie was in a bright pink outfit.

Now I’m 2/3 through with a sock on DPNs.  My plan is to finish that sock, knit a hat for the cancer center project, finish the lost sock, knit another hat, and then alternate knitting the second socks with two more hats.  I’d like to have 10 hats altogether to send off during the first week of March, but I’m not sure I will make it, since I have some other obligations that I cannot or do not want to give up.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Progress Report and a Cause

I find that I am rather liking the process of knitting a sock on DPNs—in fact, it would be almost perfect if I could suspend the law of gravity or perhaps just suspend the needles.  After so many years of using the circulars, I keep turning loose of the left needle when I empty it and then it falls to the floor.  Since I am knitting in my living room, this isn’t a big deal, but I would have a real problem if, like so many out there, I knitted on public transportation—let’s see, Greyhound runs a bus through occasionally, 200 miles to the nearest passenger train station, 70 miles to a commercial airport--I think I’m safe.

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Today I watched a video on how to knit with DPNs.  They were using only 3 needles to hold the stitches and making a triangle instead of a square.  I knew that some people did that, but mentally I found the image of my sock stitches divided into fourths to be a better idea than thirds.  Was I wrong?  Is there some reason that a triangle is better besides the fact that it would be one less potential ladder site?  One plus that I noticed yesterday: it was easier to distribute the stitches without twisting them than it is on magic loop.  I also find that I rather like the historical feel to the process.

The other project that I’m working on at the moment is the current project from the Craft Hope blog.  This project is knitting hats or sewing bags for children with cancer.  The description stated that boys’ hats are particularly needed.  I’m using some washable stash yarn to knit hats, and I’m trying to make most of them boy-friendly.  The pattern I am using is this one—Little Guy Hats by Faith A.D.  They are very quick to make, but they look very nice, and the pattern allows for lots of customization to fit your particular yarn.

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I’m dedicating my knitting for this project to the memory of my cousin and dear friend that we lost after a really valiant battle with what was then a hard-to-detect form of childhood cancer.  That was 54 years ago next week, and I am very pleased that retinoblastoma now has a cure rate well over 90%.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Sunday Report

Any day that begins with the children’s sermon at church having a live hedgehog as the centerpiece of discussion holds promise, so I continued with spiny things.

As I mentioned before, I recently purchased some sock-sized DPNs from Knit Picks just to try.  This far, all my sock knitting has been on 2 circulars or on 1 circular using magic loop.  Even though I’ve been using the circs, I have never knit 2 socks at a time because I like my sock projects to be very portable, and I find dealing with two balls of yarn to be more tedious than knitting a second sock.

Much to my surprise, I’m enjoying the DPN process.  I have a tiny mistake in the ribbing, but that is due to the difficulty of knitting on the dark gray/black yarn at night rather than using the new needles.

needles

The yarn is some that I have had for a long, long time—part of a bag of sock yarn that I bought from Elann when I first took up knitting again.  I have 2 pairs knitted from this yarn purchase already—Elann’s “house brand”—and they are some of the most durable and most comfy that I own.  By durable, I mean not only without holes but also with few pills and with no fading. 

I knitted tonight through part of Downton Abbey; however, when the show became too emotionally intense, I stopped to watch without distraction.  For anyone who is becoming interested in the home front in England during World War I, may I recommend an autobiography written by a woman who lived through it and served as a nurse.  The book is Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain.  There was an excerpt in a literature text I taught from a few years ago, so I became interested and read the whole book. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Almost There

In spite of the fact that I took a day off yesterday, I am almost to the point that I can ready my sewing machine cabinet for transport because I have a place to put it indoors.  Hence, I can probably look at the end of next week as THE day.  I will still not have everything in the room exactly as I want it, but I am also finding out that this is going to be a work in progress, that as I use it I may have different ideas.  I have already made one or two changes.  The site of the machine is going to be a little bit cramped.  I considered putting it somewhere else, but, when I get some other changes made later down the road, I would have to move it.  This way, I will already have it in place and can already be mounting some bulletin board space above it.  That just seems wiser.  I will still have junque—the kind that needs to be given away, as opposed to junk that can just be tossed—to get rid of from the closet and sewing fabrics to organize, but I can do that as I bring them in a little bit at a time from the other room.  The closet items can be bagged and toted out of town to a charity shop when I’m making a trip anyway.  This also means that I will have a place to move the spinning wheel out of the living room when I’m not using it and the rigid heddle out of the kitchen.  It will also be a relatively light and cheery place to work.  The whole idea is making me feel contented and peaceful.

I promised a picture of the Button-Tab Hat from the Hats for Sailors project:

Button-tab hat.

After washing and blocking on a wig head.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Nothing Much to Write About, but I’m Writing Anyway

For the last 24 hours, things have been fairly uninteresting, but I can at least use bullets:

  • Yesterday, I slept late because I did not actually go to sleep until 5 a.m.  That usually means a non-productive day. 
  • We did go out for a pizza lunch.  That’s a once every two to three month occasion for us.  It also involves a 35-mile drive, so it’s a bigger deal than it seems.  They’re having a survey about the waiters, so we suffered from extra attentiveness--really extra,  as in, “You’ll be glad to know they’re cutting your pizza now.”  However, she was very nice, and the pizza was excellent.
  • When I got home, I read on my Kindle for awhile and fell asleep.
  • Last night, my hubby went to bed early, and I turned off the television and finished my book.  No knitting, no work on the craft room project.
  • It rained last night.  The amount of precipitation was probably not measurable, but it at least slowed down evaporation, I hope.

Plans for today:

  • Check off at least two more items on the list for the craft room.
  • Make meat loaf.  (I’ve been having miserable failures with this lately, but now that I did all the organization of Mother’s old recipes, I’m going to try one of the four or five that she had.  I think I remember which one was her favorite.)
  • Prepare a couple of good vegetable dishes to go with the meatloaf.

Amusements:

  • I haven’t been keeping up with the outdoor sports/camping scene in awhile.  We passed a sign yesterday advertising “Yeti Coolers.”  The immediate mental image I got was that of a storage box used by the expedition that finally found an abominable snowman in order to keep him comfortable while bringing him to civilization.  Remember all the problems transporting King Kong?
  • I have one audible.com credit per month—my big book purchase extravagance.  Sometimes I have to hunt for awhile to find a suitable book to spend my precious credit on.  This month I had already decided in advance on the new Nevada Barr novel.  Now audible is having download problems, not that I want to listen at the moment, but having to deal with a computer glitch is an irritation.
  • Still haven’t found the sock.
  • The closest fairly large newspaper to us has been crusading about public salaries of all kinds for the past few months, even to the point of writing articles about one of those icky teacher/student affairs and including the amount of the teacher’s salary in such a way that it implied a relationship between the two issues.  I find misusing logic that way irritating, so I’ve been in the mood to look for mistakes.  I’m usually not that mean-spirited, at least in part because pointing out other’s mistakes is the fastest way to make one myself.  However, here’s a sentence from a news article yesterday:  On Jan. 18, a white minivan pulled into the Amarillo High School parking lot, near a 15-year-old girl when he exposed himself, police said.  I do not mean to imply that I found that sad situation amusing, but I really wanted the writer’s or the copy editor’s salary affixed to that sentence. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Quiet, but Satisfactory Day

Quiet as in the way we spent the day and quiet as in no wind, thank heavens!

I had a really good night’s sleep last night, got up this morning and watched two episodes of a British television series while finishing the hat that I started the previous evening.  The button is on, the hat is soaked, and it is blocking right now.  I will photograph ASAP.  I’ve even started another hat, this one for a different charity project from the Craft Hope blog, involving hats for small children who are having chemo.  I’m using some odds and ends of some very soft yarn that I happen to have on hand.  I began the first one tonight while watching Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  I know it’s a Brangelina classic, but I’d never seen it.  This particular broadcast included the extra scenes that are included on the DVD.  That was interesting, but it rather spoiled the suspense.  Anyway, I got a good start on the hat.

More progress on my “room.”  I managed to drag an upholstered chair all the way out to our “storage” room.  It was much too uncomfortable to sit in, mainly because it had a tendency to tip over backwards if you even relaxed back a teeny bit.  I have another chair in mind for a replacement that will be comfy for knitting, but I don’t want to move anything else in there until I get the other furniture arranged.  Tomorrow I have more items to move out.

I’m on allergy meds due to the wind yesterday.  It’s entirely possible that the red cedars are already pollinating as well.  My DH has been sneezing and coughing all day.  I’m not sure if it’s allergies or a cold—he’s a man and won’t admit to anything!

Tomorrow will be a meat loaf day!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Doing My Bit

Tonight was Episode 3 of Season 2 of Downton Abbey, with World War I in full force.  I needed a knitting project, so I decided that nothing I needed to knit would be more appropriate than a hat for Hats for Sailors, so I cast on a Button-Tab Hat in Knit Picks Swish Worsted:

button band hat

By knitting a little bit of overtime, I did finish the button band.  The rest of the hat is plain stockinette, so it will go much faster.  I really like the dark teal color, even if I don’t remember at the moment what it is called.

The wind blew hard almost all day, with up to 50 mph gusts here and much higher than that in Amarillo.  With only 10-15% relative humidity and power lines being blown down, fire danger was high, but we managed without a local disaster.  I’m not sure what kinds of wind damage happened here, but the wind in Amarillo destroyed my granddaughter’s new trampoline.  Here’s hoping tomorrow will be better.

I did manage a little more cleanout in the future sewing/knitting/weaving room, and I have more planned for tomorrow.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Remarkably Little Knitting

I’ve been taking something of a knitting break this week.  For one thing, I spent some time earlier in the week weaving on the beginning practice piece.  I’ve also been working on a planned move to set up a sewing/knitting/weaving room in the spare bedroom.  I’ve been cleaning out, and I’ve made some progress getting that done.  I anticipate making more progress this weekend.

Furthermore, I still haven’t found that sock!

In addition, I’ve spent time reading 2 books on my Kindle2, and I’m halfway through another.  I’ve rather neglected reading-reading in favor of audiobook-reading while knitting lately, but I’ve hit some books that I can’t get in the audio version, so I’m enjoying the Kindle versions, courtesy of a public library link.

What else of note has been going on?

Well, I just changed my computer desktop to this picture, which I appropriated from my daughter’s Facebook Timeline:

the three

I like the picture because it is so reflective of their personalities: enjoying the caramel apple; plunging headlong into the sensory experience; and analyzing the recipe. (No, there are no twins; there are cousins.)

They all began ballet lessons this week—one also took last semester.  The two younger ones were particularly proud of their buns:

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The little ones are also proud to be “Buttercups”—I think because they like saying the word, which simply must be accompanied by giggles.  The oldest girl, alas, is a Daisy, which is not quite so much fun to say, but I understand she got off to a very good start as well. 

The “analyzer” from above also had a birthday this week.

I did get to spend time with one granddaughter because she was sick and her dad couldn’t take off work, so Meemaw got to babysit.  While she was napping, I got in a little snooze for myself and quite a bit of knitting on a square of my mitered square blanket.  (After years of knitting almost entirely on circulars, I’m using straights on this project, and I keep forgetting and turning loose of the needle at the end of the row.  My granddaughter found it quite amusing that the needles kept clattering to the tiles.)

Today I’ve been home, reading, piddling around, and cooking lunch.  We had tilapia again, cooked in the microwave using the recipe I found earlier.  I fixed oven-roasted potatoes which did not get quite done enough and cooked cabbage.  I sliced 1/2 head of cabbage, put a small amount of canola oil in the bottom of a cast-iron skillet (just enough so that the bottom of the skillet was shiny), dropped in the cabbage and stirred until it wilted a little bit.  Then I stirred a little more and sprayed on a little EVOO from my new sprayer, added 3/4 c. water, covered with a tight-fitting lid, and lowered the temperature to low and let it simmer and steam for about 15 minutes.  I find that the cabbage gets done without getting slimy and limp.  I prefer eating mine with some Jack Daniels Mustard.  Emphasis on mustard in that last sentence.

I’m off now to do some more reading, drink a Coke Zero, clean the kitchen, and plan Sunday dinner, and perhaps sneak in a little more craft room work—and, of course, look for that darn sock!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Randomness

A literature book that I used to teach from in the 1970s when I taught mostly 10th grade had a short story by Herman Melville, called “The Piazza.”  Notice that I said the book “had” the story—I didn’t say I actually taught it.  Even in those days, there was more literature in a text than could be taught, and frankly, Melville ranks as my most-hated classic American author.  I did, however, read the story myself, and while there are probably many interpretations and symbolic meanings that can be applied by those wishing to do so, let it be said that the story involves a narrator who has settled in a house on the edge of a valley with a mountain on the other side.  (Of course, if there’s a valley, there’s a mountain on the other side. But if I can’t be overly wordy when writing about Melville, when can I be?)  There is a piazza on the side of the house (title justification).  On occasions when the light is just right on the top of the mountain, he can see a clearing with the light reflecting off something shiny.  After much reflection (It’s Melville, much is much.  Notice the pun with “reflection”?), the narrator decides the golden sheen he sees at the top must be some sort of beautiful palace, so he undertakes a journey (better description than just “climbs”) to the palace.  When he gets there, it’s an old ruined house with light hitting on the broken windows.  I’m not going to discuss possible meanings of the story here.  Possible meanings of Melville always depress me.  (I once was forced into having to give my opinion of the meaning of the whale in Moby Dick after a lengthy, rather pontifical discussion in grad school—pontifical as only a bunch of graduate assistants could be. I failed to “pretty up” my answer and suggested that I thought the whale represented revenge because after the critics had given Melville such a hard time about his earlier works he had written an unjustifiably long book and thrown in every contradictory symbol or possible symbol he could think of just to give them something to rant about.)

For some reason, this story popped into my head on Saturday.  I found that rather scary, frankly.  A couple of months ago, my son and I were driving in Amarillo after dark and noticed the lights of a restaurant in a rather unusual spot.  There was only a car or two, but the name was exotic—started with a “P,” don’t remember how to spell it—and the view in the windows looked dark and mysterious with low hanging lights.  We did not stop to investigate because we were on the way to the car wash.  A few weeks later, I drove by in daylight and noticed that neon had added “Thai-Chinese Cuisine.”  Now understand that I like Chinese food and that I live where it is not available, or was not available until a few weeks ago.  My husband will tolerate it if it is a buffet.  My son doesn’t particularly care for it.  My daughter has that fish allergy that makes it entirely too risky.  But on Saturday, I found myself eating lunch alone, just me and my audio book.  I made a mad dash of my errands, getting a haircut and shopping for groceries in 47 minutes flat and headed to the restaurant.  It was supposed to open at 11.  It was 11:20.  The door was locked.  However, when they heard me try it, they did come and open the door.  I was anticipating an exotic atmosphere.  It turns out that the mysterious atmosphere was just the tinting in the glass; the tables and chairs were early café.  The menus were somewhat sticky.  In short, there was no ambiance at all.  It was obviously a quickie lunch place, which is probably a better business choice for their location, but it had looked so different that night.  I must admit however, that the food was plentiful and quite tasty, even if it was not the best I’ve ever had.  The service was attentive as well.  Now you can see why the incident reminded me of the story.  I’m not sure that there is any meaning to be drawn from the relationship of the two whatsoever, but I get some satisfaction in feeling that if Melville knew I was calling attention to the parallel, he would be tremendously irritated.

Knitting note:  I’ve lost a sock!  This may be a crisis.  I lost it somewhere in the house, and it is half-finished with a metal size 1 1/2 circ sticking out of it.  I’m hoping it is not stepped on or sat on until I find it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday, January 15, 2012

The More Things Change. . .

Sorting through old cookbooks to decide which ones to donate has been something of a challenge.  However, I have come across a few treasures that I intend to keep. 

One such treasure, and I have two copies, is a microwave cookbook.  This one came with the very first microwave that I bought in 1981.  My mother bought one just like it, so that ‘s the reason for two.  In those days microwaves were just becoming really affordable to the average person and even a portable microwave was big by today’s standards.  Another reason they were big was because everyone thought that people were actually going to COOK in them.  Hence, the many-paged hardback cookbook.  This book includes directions for thawing and cooking a turkey—it was big enough—elaborately browning and cooking t-bone steaks, and baking cakes.  I hadn’t looked at it in years, but I’m glad I did.  There are actually some good recipes and cooking methods in there that I’ve sort of forgotten about over the years.  Their method for cooking frozen corn on the cob is excellent.  Their method for softening an acorn squash to make it cut more easily is helpful.  And there are many vegetable recipes that were very good, much better than just popping in a Steamable.

I also remembered that their method of cooking fish fillets in lemon butter sauce produced better results than I ever got in an oven.  (Place in dish with thickest parts to the outside, cover with seasonings, cracker crumbs, and lemon butter, put waxed paper over the top, and cook until flaky.  In those days, you had to rotate halfway through.)  I tried it again last week on some Tilapia and was very pleased.  I used to do this all the time when we first got the microwave, but then my daughter turned out to have an allergy to fish—not just a food allergy but a severe reaction to exposure to fish in any form—so I had completely forgotten about it.  If I remember correctly, there were some pretty good chicken recipes in this book as well. 

Anyway, I’m looking forward to trying out some of these old recipes again.  What I’m wondering is if anyone else out there has a good recipe that is microwave prepared.  I don’t ever see anyone sharing those anymore—everything seems to be grills or crockpots.

There was no knitting today, but I did weave on the Cricket.  I’m still not pleased with my edges, but they are getting better.  I’m having an enthusiasm problem.  Although I know myself better than this, I set up my first project as what would amount to a very long swatch rather than a scarf or something.  Eventually, making a great big practice swatch of no particular beauty gets really old.  I watched a couple of videos this afternoon, and I’m going to do a little more selvedge work tomorrow and then remove that item from the loom.  I have some cotton that I got from Webs just waiting for me to try making a scarf for myself.  The color is quite lovely and the yarn has some variation to cover sins a little bit.  I’m going to give that a try.

Almost time for the new Downton Abbey.  I must get another cup of tea.  Do you think the Edwardians would have heated the water in the microwave if they had one?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Reporting In (No Pics)

  • Fiber-related activities—Knitted the central cross part of a Mitered Square Blanket square, ready for the log cabin frame strips.  Most importantly, helped the youngest granddaughter weave 1/4 of a potholder on a potholder loom! 
  • Audio books—I had unexpected knitting and listening time because my granddaughter was tired and took a really, really long nap.  With travelling and napping and nighttime listening, I polished off the two shorter audiobooks, leaving only the book on Abraham Lincoln for tonight and tomorrow.  Coincidentally, the Wine Country Mystery novel that I listened to first had an essential plot point involving documents related to the assassination of Lincoln.
  • And most important of all, I got to spend one-on-one time with a granddaughter.  That is hard to come by sometimes.  I need to make more of an effort to do this. 
  • I also have to finish my sock and then slow down knitting for a little while. One of the reasons I got my Cricket loom was for the grandchildren to learn to use.  I thought I had time.  Then someone gave one of them a potholder loom for Christmas, and now all three have potholder looms, and I’m hearing chanting of “over, under, over, under.” 
  • Furthermore, someone published an interesting project today using cord made on a corker to decorate a pillow.  I think the spool knitter might be a little hard for them right now, but I already have lucets on hand for each of them, and I think the square braid would be easier to attach to something.  I just need to work on my technique.  I find lucet cord harder to keep an even tension.  Supposedly Pinterest has a spool knitter made from a toilet paper roll and popsicle sticks, but I can’t visualize that making a very attractive cord, and I think it would be hard to keep an even tension.

When I was a child, I was an avid reader.  At that time there was no public library in our town.  I was fortunate to live across the street from the school and sometimes in the summer, I got to sit in the bookroom and read out-of-adoption readers, no kidding.  My parents bought books for me, and we always had newspapers and magazines.  I remember that one book was something similar to a Whitman Classic, but it was a Roy Rogers story.  I don’t remember the name, but it involved needing to build a suspension bridge over a canyon.  Although I was something of a Roy Rogers fan and although the plot was suspenseful, I remember being absolutely fascinated that the characters made ropes, mostly from horsehair if I remember correctly, to build the bridge.  I must have read that part a milllion times.  Of course, the horsehair cordage that I have actually seen has been braided rather than knitted, and if truth be told, I think it would have taken herds and herds of horses to have enough hair to build a suspension bridge, but nevertheless, I was interested.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

When did this happen?

I’m packing today for a trip tomorrow that includes an overnight stay—alone much of the time, except for a small black dog.  Of course, I must pack travel knitting, and right now I’m planning on taking a bag with a partially completed mitered cross blanket square.  I’ll save the sock for in-the-car knitting.  This time I’m driving. 

However, I am also packing audio books into my little MP3 player.  I have an hour- and-fifteen-minute drive each way.  I can’t listen to audio books while driving in town because I don’t multitask that well, but I find that listening in the very light traffic on the highway helps keep me alert and my eyes on the road.  I can play my little player through my car’s sound system, or in a pinch I have some ear thingies that are not sound-cancelling.  Most of my audio book listening comes from my annual subscription to The Free Library of Philadelphia.  I buy one Audible.com credit per month.  In addition, I get books from my local library’s consortium, which I would prefer to use all the time, but their selection is very small and the number of titles that you are allowed is two.  The third source is LibriVox.  The quality there varies, but I have some favorite readers that I like to use for classics.  The FLP has excellent service when it comes to having a hold list and notifying the client when the books are available.  However, it sometimes happens that the books on hold become available at the same time, which is what has happened to me in the last 24 hours.  Therefore, I am making a trip which will last approximately 36 hours, including sleeping time and several hours with a grandchild and son and time for a haircut.  In addition to the knitting, I am armed with 3 new audio books, adding up to 23 hours, 17 minutes, 15 seconds of listening time and a Kindle book that also came through the FLP.  This and my knitting make me feel secure, but intellectually I think this could be a problem.  At the same time, I am thinking that if the little player is full, I could load more into my IPhone.  I don’t use the IPhone for audio books because it’s too heavy to haul around the house with me, but in the car. . . .

Sigh!  I should also admit that there is a paperback in my suitcase just in case all technology fails.

In case you’re wondering—audio books: Explosive Eighteen; The Chardonnay Charade; Killing Lincoln   

Kindle—The first C.J. Box mystery—forgot the title.  Open Season, maybe.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Looking Better

Today was bitterly cold.  I’m not sure about the exact temperature, but very strong cold winds blew until sunset.  It was nice to be inside.

If there’s anything I don’t need, it’s usually more cooking equipment.  Someone online today described herself as having three grandmothers worth of sewing equipment—me, too—and my cooking stuff is even more in depth.  I use cast iron skillets, which seem to be gaining in popularity among the young.  None of mine, however, are new to me.  In fact, with the exception of a tiny little one that is not good for very much, all of them are older than I am.  Three of them came from my mother, and the biggest one came from my father’s camping equipment.  Similar situations exist in other cooking areas.  Today, however, I bought a new item:

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In trying to eat healthier—that cast iron is not exclusively used for frying—I have been looking for ways to use olive oil more and ways to roast veggies.  I have been using commercial cooking sprays, but I hate the way they smell when sprayed, and I worry about inhaling them.  This is a pump up oil sprayer.  I’m going to put EVOO in it and try it.  Since I have plans for the rest of the week, it will be after the weekend before I get things going, but I have high hopes.

After yesterday’s sock disaster, I jumped right back on the horse.  In cleaning out my projects basket, I found a barely-started pair of socks—same number of stitches and same size needles as the other pair, but the yarn is different.  This is some Patons Kroy that I picked up in the closeout bin at Michaels.  I think it was $1.24 per ball.

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The leg appears to be the right size.  I experimented a little bit with the heel.  Someone on a knitting site mentioned using the heel stitch on the bottom of the heel as well as on the heel flap for extra strength and cushioning.  I am trying it.  I am now past the gussets and part way down the foot.  I hope there’s enough yarn to finish.  If not, I have plenty of pieces of one of the solid colors to knit a toe!  I know that Kroy is not the snazziest, snobbiest sock yarn, but it makes very cushy, very durable socks.

Today I also finished getting all 8 totes of yarn stash organized and into the bedroom/studio closet.  Now I need to clean out another area of the closet to store fabric.  It’s a VERY big closet, in case you were wondering.

EDIT:  I worked on the new sock last night while watching The Help.  I am pleased to say that I thought the movie was excellent.  I had been a little bit hesitant to watch because I really, really liked the book’s presentation as an audio book.  Of course, it is difficult to compare two different genres, but I did find the movie true to the spirit and concept of the book itself, and that is something that does not always happen.  Like any book-to-movie adaptation, there was just less of it.  I also found the movie to be less suspenseful because some things had to be left out, such as the suspense over whether or not the book would actually be published.  It could be, though, that suspense was lessened because I had already listened to the book.  I also thought that the movie’s mean and bitchy characters did not have time to be quite as mean and bitchy as in the book and that there were fewer stories from the maids about white people that had been really kind to them.  Some of the little details about the extent of Jim Crow customs which made the book so fascinating—and horrifying-- were also left out.  If you really liked the movie, you might also like to listen to the audio book, which is read as a dramatic performance with more than one reader.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Houston—and everyone else—I have a problem

Admittedly, I did not check gauge for these socks.  That is because I was using the same size needle—checked it twice—the same number of stitches, and a yarn that I have used at least 3 times before—checked my notes.  However there is something vastly wrong.  These came out much bigger than I expected.  (Not, of course, the ribbing, which is perhaps the nicest 1 x 1 I’ve ever knitted.  I was using Annie Modesitt’s combination method.)  I even did my wet blocking in hot water to try to shrink something, but I think they stretched instead.

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Just to be clear, the socks are actually the same size at least.  It’s the photo angle that makes them look different.  The good news is that I think they will fit my husband, even though I used twelve fewer stitches than I usually knit for him.  However, I don’t think there is any way that the ribbing will be big enough, and he also prefers a shorter leg.  These are cuff down socks.  Is there any way to frog back the beginning and knit up some different ribbing to salvage the job?

And, just to be sure that I’m not crazy, I picked up another sock that I had already started—same number of stitches, same size needles—and it seems to be working fine.  I’m wondering if there happened to be a difference in the yarn because the fabric feels obviously different than the other pairs I’ve knitted from this.  I suppose I should have gone down a needle size. 

Any “fix it” suggestions are welcome.

What a Shame!

I did not get to move my book donations out and to the library’s book shoppe on Monday as I had planned.  It seems that the glass door to the shoppe is boarded up because someone broke it.  The little charity business will not be open again until it is fixed.  I’ll have to keep an eye out to see if it will be available next week.  I could just drop them at the library itself, but then someone else has to tote them to the sale site, and I hate to dump extra work on someone else.

Since I couldn’t get books out of my developing craft room area, I put some in.  I moved my knitting and spinning books to one of the vacated shelves.  They are such a variety of sizes, and more importantly, thicknesses.  I think I am going to put a magazine holder on the shelf—I have some left from my former career—to hold the very thin or very small ones so that they don’t slide back between the bigger books and hide themselves.

There is a big closet in the room to hold my yarn totes.  I did sort out my living room project basket, which tends to collect the unused leftovers from projects.  Now it just contains “to be knitted” items, and the extras have been sorted into the appropriate stash totes.  I don’t know about you, but a sizeable part of my stash is yarn left from one project or another.  Since I don’t have a LYS, I always buy a little extra because that is usually cheaper than ordering another skein in a matching dye lot and paying the shipping charge.  I try to use the extras for smaller projects, but it’s sometimes hard to keep up.

I set up a drying rack for woolies in the tub of the extra bathroom where it is convenient.  I usually use that sink for soaking them, and the tub is seldom used, so it seems like a good idea for the winter.

I also found my Ziploc of sock yarn leftovers—make that one of my Ziplocs of sock yarn leftovers.  That was important because I needed to darn two pairs of socks.  I have very limited success in darning socks that have worn through, but I had two different, perfectly good socks—one almost brand new—that had snagged on something and been cut.  I found the matching leftovers and mended them.  The darns don’t feel as smooth as I would like, but they are not very visible, and since they are both up on the leg of the sock, they’ll not be uncomfortable.  Now DH and I are each back in business with one more pair each. 

I know this sounds like a really dull day, but it is such a relief to be making some progress on getting all this stuff sorted that the day was actually quite pleasant, particularly since we had a good lunch that I had put in the crock pot the night before.  There will be enough leftovers for Tuesday so that I can get even more done in the room—toting totes perhaps.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

A Miscellaneous Sort of Day

  • Watched a little television early this morning to see the granddaughters at church.  The televised service from FBC Amarillo is a great boon to grandparents.  One panoramic shot included mom and dad, too.
  • Attended church myself.  Had great fun with the hymns this week—a good tenor behind me and a good bass in the next seat over.  That’s so much better than feeling you are the only one singing!
  • After church, made a flying trip to the grocery store for milk, eggs, BARLEY.  Of course, I came out with more items than that since I rolled past some things that I knew we were out of.  I remember that when I was a girl, my mother used to send me in with money for a loaf of bread—29 cents—because she said that way she wouldn’t come out with a cart full.  Now I know what she meant.  The barley is capitalized because I never found it.  I looked in all the logical places, too.  I also confess to being irritated with the supermarket service.  If a business is going to offer Wal-Mart-type unload-your-own, carry- out-your-own service, it should be reflected in the prices.  And, most importantly, if you must push your cart to the parking lot to unload into your car, there should be some place to put the cart.  You should not have to lock up everything again in order to return the cart all the way into the store.  At least I don’t have small children.
  • We snacked on leftovers for lunch.  After I finish writing this, I’m going to put a roast on in the crockpot for tomorrow’s dinner.
  • After lunch, I knitted on the sweater for the doll clothes while listening to Trap Door by Sarah Graves.   I’m not entirely sure yet, but I’m afraid I’ve been bitten by the gauge monster on this project.  My husband was watching a miniseries about life on a Channel Island during World War II.  I watched part of it, and while it is interesting, I kept comparing it to The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and found it somewhat wanting.  However, we haven’t finished it yet, so I’ll reserve judgment.  And I was knitting and listening to an audiobook during much of the film.  That was probably too much multitasking.
  • Tonight was the premiere of the second season of Downton Abbey, and it was great fun.  Perhaps I could have finished my sock, but I kept stopping and turning off the light in order to watch.  Also, the World War I scenes made me feel  that I should perhaps be knitting a dark green sock from one of those Red Cross kits that are available.
  • Yea, Denver and Tim Tebow!
  • Tomorrow I have plans for moving out some more stuff so that I can move fiber items into the extra bedroom soon in order to have a bright and cheerful place to work on my projects.  It’s coming along rather slowly, but it is coming.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Interrupted!

I had excellent intentions of making significant progress on the second sock today and did indeed manage to finish the leg with only a couple of rows to go before beginning the heel flap.  However, I have a granddaughter who received an American Girl doll for Christmas who has a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks and Ravelry has all these knitted patterns for doll clothes and I have some extra skeins of this and that in the stash, so. . . I just finished knitting a lace-ruffled skirt.  The matching sweater is on the agenda for tomorrow.  I do promise that I will at least knit a flap and turn a heel.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

You Know You’re Retired When. . .

your husband is called for jury duty at the county seat and you grab your knitting, your Kindle, some items to deliver for charity, and a grocery list, and go along for the entertainment value!

We left here before daylight, drove over to Clovis, NM, delivered the charity items to the drop-off bin, and had breakfast at Cook’s Truck Stop Café.  Then we drove back across the state line to the courthouse, amused ourselves watching a woman park a very large Cadillac very carefully—four times, no less, with a walk around between each time—and waited until time for him to report.  I waited until the crowd had reported upstairs and then seated myself in the waiting area for a court that was not in session and cast on for the second of a pair of socks and knitted a bit of ribbing while listening to A Face at the Window on my MP3 player:

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I had a nice conversation in the ladies room with a former coworker as well.  Although my husband did have to serve, the proceedings lasted only 1 hour and 28 minutes, so we were out in plenty of time to pop back over to Clovis for a trip to the office supply for pens, to a grocery for some monthly restocking, and then to the Cotton Patch for lunch.  We were home and comfortable by 1:30.  Not bad for a morning’s work!  He has to report again in March; I am trembling with anticipation.

This trip was also the first outing for the Botanical Cowl.  I really liked wearing it. 

Note to those who like British TV:  The first season of Downton Abbey was great knitter watching as far as I was concerned.  The second season starts on our locally available PBS on Sunday evening.  I’m setting the DVR just to be sure.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Last Finished Knitting Project of 2011

Unpinned from the blocking board last night, the Botanical Cowl by Megan Goodacre.  photo(44)This cowl took about 1.25 skeins of Elann Peruvian Baby Silk, an alpaca/silk blend in the Cornflower colorway.  Alterations to the original pattern included using a 152-stitch cast on to make an intermediate, necklace length.  The original pattern shows a close-fitting neckwarmer and a double length that can be looped up twice for a bulkier version or worn as one of those very long circular scarves.  I wanted something to give a more vertical, non-fluffy look.  My fluffy self can use all the vertical it can get.  After a severe blocking, the ring drapes well and is practically weightless.

All of the finished projects on Ravelry were of multicolored yarns.  This pattern would be ideal for that purpose and ideal for fine handspun.  I’m very pleased with how it turned out.  Another variation in a very different yarn may be upcoming.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Motto for the New Year

Any day is just a little bit brighter if it includes turning a heel!

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Sunday, January 01, 2012

A Lovely Christmas Present

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This was my Christmas present from my daughter and her family—4 skeins of Claudia Handpainted fingering weight merino from The Loopy Ewe.  Top to bottom, the colorways are Oops! and Secrets.  I have the sock pattern all picked out for the Oops!; I just need to get another pair of socks off needles first.  Meanwhile, I plan to keep the yarn calm by frequent squeezing and stroking.  This feels really nice.

Today was a quiet New Year’s—slept late, went to church, cooked lunch, and knitted while watching All Creatures Great and Small on Netflix and listening to a David Baldacci audiobook.  All, of course, with a short nap thrown in.  Tomorrow it’s back to some business items, doing some more decluttering, and trying to finish sorting recipes into the binder.  None of that sounds very strenuous, does it?