Saturday, January 28, 2012

Bright spot in the dreariness

It's been so dreary around here the past few days....
But it was nice to have a sunny, warm day today!   Here are all the other bright spots in the dreariness that I've been up to.

Today  I went to The Spinning Room for the Socks of Kindness knit-a-long and just had the nicest time visiting with everyone.  The shop was full to the gills with knitters, including my knitting friend Alison who moved away and came to visit today.  So nice to see her.  It's just so nice to sit with the group and talk about everything under the sun.... knitting, movies, books, yarn, food, kids, husbands/boyfriends, knitting.

Ready for my progress on the socks?:
They just need toes and they'll be done Done DONE!  YAY!  I think this is the quickest I've ever made a pair of socks.

I also made yet another car seat blanket, this one for a class to have at the shop:
This was very quick to knit. Sort of.  I started knitting it on Wednesday and was cruising right along but then on Thursday I took a look at the measurements and measured mine.  It was supposed to be 22" after blocking and mine was 16" before blocking.  There was no way I'd be able to stretch it 6 inches once it was wet.  Then I realized the needle size in this pattern was a size 7, and smaller than I had used before (in another, almost identical pattern by the same designer).   I. Was. So. Mad.  I had knitted 1/3-1/2 the blanket!     But there was no way I could leave it at the smaller size.  It would have been postage-stamp size.  (A slight exaggeration.)   So.......
Ripped it out, wound the yarn back into a ball and started again.   This time, used the size 8 needle and I got closer to the appropriate measurements.   The fact that I was mad at having to start over made me knit even quicker - started this yesterday afternoon (Friday) and finished this morning.  Ha! 

The other thing I now have to get cranking on is my Sycamore Vest, since I will be teaching it as a class in April.  I'm only this far:
It's going to take a while because it is sport weight yarn (skinny) on size 5 needles (little).  I'm so happy with how it's coming out so far, though.  I'm using the new(ish) Cascade 220 sport which is 100% wool and it's very nice to knit with.
Love. It.:
I discovered these recently when someone brought them to the yarn shop.  All the red ones!  I always ate the orange and yellow ones first so I could save the red ones for last.  This is just perfect!  AND, they added more flavors of which my absolute favorite is Fruit Punch:
(Mandy's too.)  Tastes just like Hawaiian Punch.  No joke.  LOVE. IT.

Other stuff:
Phoebe has taken to sleeping in the far back corner of her bed:
I think she needs something cozier.  I've been thinking about making her a felted cat bed.  Add it to my ever-growing list!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

My Sunday Afternoon Project

Deirdre, at The Spinning Room Yarn Shop, called me the other day to see if I would come take a look at a lace, mohair shawl that needed some repair.  It was gorgeous ---- except for the holes that the new puppy chewed into it.  UGH!

I met the customer at the shop and she told me she had purchased the shawl St. Petersburg, Russia over 20 years ago, and that she really wants to be able to pass this shawl down to her children/grandchildren.  Talk about pressure!  She said she even had pictures of her now-grown grandchildren wrapped in the shawl when they were little.  Talk about sentimental pressure!

I have some experience in repairing, mostly my own things but nothing to this extent (you'll see what I mean soon...). Usually it's things that are unraveling, not chewed with lots of little ends hanging out. I did a little research online but didn't find too much to help me.  My basic plan of attack was to rescue dropping stitches weaving the loose ends through them and tying in the loose ends the best I could.

So, today I broke out the shawl and sat at the kitchen table for a few hours.  Here is what I did:

Hole #1 Before:
 Hole #1 After:
Can't really see it right?  I know!  My plan was working...

Hole #2 Before:
 Hole #2 After:
Can't really see it right?  I know! Double yay!

Big Gaping Hole #3 Before:
 Big Gaping Hole #3 After:
Can't really see it because the picture is so dim, right?  I know!... my camera was turned to manual (forgot about that - I had been experimenting with my new how-to-take-pictures book....)

Whole Shawl After (and for some reason, upside down):
That #3 was a doozy.  I'm pretty happy with the results of all three.  #3 is more noticeable than the others but it was such a gaping hole that I could only do so much.  Hopefully the customer will be happy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

What the....?

Know what this is?:

One clue:

I absolutely didn't see the ice that was covered by the snow on our driveway and was shocked to find myself on the ground.  Of course, then I realized that is the spot in the driveway that always has a puddle and it would follow that when it got really cold, it would turn to ice.  Der.  I hate that.  I was on my way to the yarn shop for the knit-a-long --- needless to say, that plan got abandoned.  I limped back into the house, covered in snow and spent 10 minutes trying to walk around and see if I could still go to the knit-a-long.  All the while, Paul is following me around, rolling his eyes at me because he thinks I should just stay home and put ice on it.  In then end I realized he was right. Went to the doctor yesterday and it is just a bad sprain.  Foot up.  Lots of ice (aha! so, ice can be helpful after it trips you up.....).  Lots of TLC from Paul!

On the knitting front:
I've been working on a knitting commission project for a customer at the shop.  An entrelac scarf made with Noro Silk Garden:
Oh great - this sideways picture thing again...
I have known how to do entrelac but had abandoned a scarf I had been making a couple of years ago since it was very tedious to me.  I just couldn't seem to remember the pattern and had to constantly refer to it, and it just went so slowly.  Well, this commissioned project has cured me of that!  I have the pattern committed to memory and it is going along nicely.  The customer wanted me to use 5 balls of yarn which equals 550 yards and an approximately 70" scarf.  Almost done and should be able to give it to her this weekend.  By the way, aren't those colors so pretty?????

And here is the progress I'm making on the knit-a-long socks:
I'm just about to the heels.  I decided to knit both socks at the same time on two sets of double pointed needles, in order to decrease the likelihood of Second Sock Syndrome.  For those who don't know, Second Sock Syndrome is the inability to knit the second sock of a pair, because after you finish the first one, it feels like you should be done with your project and moving on to the next thing, but you can't because you have a whole 'nother sock to make.  And socks take a loooooong time to knit.
Skinny yarn + skinny needles =  a looooong time
So, to combat this, I'm knitting a little on one, then a little on the other and it's working like a charm.  I feel like I'm making good progress and know they will be done almost at the same time.

I mentioned the Umaro blanket in a recent post but didn't have a picture, so I'm putting it here:
Haven't worked on it recently but it will soon be in rotation.  I've also gotten another knitting commission from a customer at the yarn shop so I'll have to work that in too.

In other news, I got this from Amazon recently:
It's an acupressure neck pillow.  I saw it on another blog and the person had great success with it.  It's used to help reduce stress and tension in your neck.  I've used it a couple of times so far and it's a little strange but definitely relaxing --- which might also be because you are laying there for 10 minutes not doing anything else. The jury is still out as to if the acupressure things are what's doing the trick.  They are supposed to help release endorphins.

This came in the same box:
Hopefully this will help me with my picture taking.   Haven't had a chance to look at it yet.  First I have to figure out this thing with Blogger turning my pictures sideways (even the ones I didn't purposely turn).

On the home improvement front --- refinishing the stairs....
Lots of adventures, staining every other step and having to go up the stairs two at a time for a few days while all the clear coats dried/cured (which has been especially fun with a sprained ankle); sticky notes to remind us what stairs were ok to step on; keeping the cat and the dog off of them; sitting on the cat in the middle of the night because we thought we had kept her from coming upstairs but apparently not.  Next up is painting the risers, but that should be fairly adventure-less.  We hope.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Don't you hate it when....

At 2:30 am your dog insists on trying to get past the huge chair you have put in front of the stairs because you are re-finishing them and you don't want her to scratch the finish before it has time to cure? Despite the fact for the previous 4 days that you have been working on applying the finish (one coat of stain and three costs of clear) she seemed to have forgotten the stairs were there?
AND THEN don't you hate it when you can't get back to sleep and end up writing a blog post at 4:28am?

Friday, January 6, 2012

A book trio (but they aren't related!)

I've been reading a lot lately, mostly because I've picked some books that I just couldn't put down.  I love that.    I've put links to Amazon for books and Kindle books after each review, if you are interested.  So, here they are:

Book the First:
Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane.  LOVE his books.  Most of them (Couldn't seem to get into The Given Day).  This book has his recurring characters Patrick Kenzie and Angie Gennaro and takes place 12 years after the events in his book Gone, Baby, Gone: A Novel (Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro).  In that book, they investigate the disappearance of a 4 year old girl and in Moonlight Mile, they investigate her disappearance again, at age 16.  Patrick has lots of internal conflict about the previous case since it involved him returning the 4 year old to an abusive, drug addicted mother instead of leaving her in the wonderfully loving home her kidnapper (her concerned uncle) took her to.  Now it all comes back to him as he tries to find her again.  Very exciting page-turner.

If you haven't read his books, I highly recommend them.  They are detective stories jam packed with action and suspense.  Patrick Kenzie struggles with right/wrong as he acts on his instincts to bring people to justice.  And his friend Bubba is scary but hilarious.  Then there is Shutter Island (not a Patrick Kenzie book) which I read and couldn't put down but it. was. so. scary.

  Or get it for your kindle here:

Book the Second:
Track of the Cat by Nevada Barr.  This was the first time I had read anything by this author and got the recommendation from the  2 Knit Lit Chicks podcast.  They have read all of the books in the series and highly recommended them.  So I started with #1 in the series (I think there are 13).  This is a series that also has a recurring character, Anna Pigeon, who is a national park ranger and in the course of her work, stumbles upon murders in various national parks around the country.  In this first book, she is in Texas and is investigating the murder of another park ranger.  We get little peeks into Anna's life and how she got to Texas from New York .  Another page turner, with lots of little cliff hangers at the end of chapters.  It was a little difficult to follow the writing when it was describing the national park and the various hills and valleys --- clearly trying to set the scene, but I was having trouble picturing it.  In the end it didn't really matter, but it distracted me a little.  I will definitely read on to the next in the series, since I'm curious to know more about Anna and why she ends up in these various parks.
   or on your kindle here :

Book the Third:
Light on Snow by Anita Shreve.  I really like this author.  My sister loves her.  I have read a few of her books and liked most of them but some I felt plodded along.  Can't remember which ones now.  I have another book by her on my book shelf: Tesitmony.  She reminds me somewhat of Jodi Picoult because often there is some sort of moral dilemma on the line.

In this one, Nicky and her dad stumble upon something while snowshoeing in the woods.  The track their life takes from there is affected by this something (you have to read it to know what it is!) and brings on the moral dilemma.  But brought into it is also their tragic past and how these two worlds are colliding.  Nicky is 12 and the story is told through her eyes, so we also see the struggles a pre-teen goes through with all of these events.  While not action packed like the first two books, I still could not put this down for wanting to know what was going to develop and happen next.
   Or get it for your Kindle here:

So, there you have it.  I'm reading a new-to-me-author, Carol O'Connell, now.  More police detective mysteries and recurring characters.  Stay tuned...

And, remember when I said I really liked putting quotes on my weekly emails when I owned the yarn shop and so I was going to do it here?  And then I didn't?
Ha!  Here's one:

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."
-- British Poet Edith Sitwell 

(...and for curling up by said fire with a great book!)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Catching up

I didn't mean to take such a long break from the blog -- it's been so busy this past almost two weeks!  Three days of Christmas, several days of home improvement, two nannying days, and New Years.  Whew!  Luckily, there was no last minute shopping or knitting mixed in there, since I/we got that done ahead of time (for once).

On Christmas Eve Paul and I went to my sister's in Connecticut:

 with Mandy in tow:
I worked on my long-neglected cabled sweater (started in March) in the car:
More on this later (hint: I finished it!!!).

Knitted gifts were all a hit but only got pictures of the mukluks for my nephews:
They loved them, immediately putting them on and then disproving my attempt at non-slippage by sliding across the kitchen floor (after I told them I had put the stuff on the bottom so they wouldn't slip).  What can I say?  I tried.  And left them with a warning to be particularly careful on the stairs.  But they wore them all day and that leads me to believe that they were warm and comfy.

Lots of cooking going on at my sister's:
Making sugar cookies (and adding sprinkles to look like Aunt Liz)

More sugar cookies...

More sugar cookies (we all took turns at icing and sugar)

The biggest food hit - pigs in a blanket
Mmmmmm.....dessert! (including a yummy gingerbread trifle)
Christmas day we spent at Paul's mom's opening presents and having dinner with some of his family.  Forgot the camera, but she liked the knitted dishcloths I made for her!

Home Improvement #1:
Paul wanted to tackle a couple of projects during his time off from work.  The first was changing our fireplace into a wall-with-mantle-and-heat-shield-so-we-can-use-the-stove-and-put-the-tv-on-the-wall.    Here it is when we first moved in 4 years ago:
That white section used to have a piece of metal over it. Blech.
We got a wood burning insert,  painted the walls and then we painted the brick so we could live with it until this day came...
Another use for the level
Paul put up some framing things so we could attach drywall:
ANOTHER use for the level (straight edge for cutting drywall)

Top on Paul's priority list was hiding the tv wires...
And now it looks like this:
Just a little bit left to do... putting in some side wood to complete the mantel and then, after heating season, putting stone or tile over the brick.  We. LOVE. IT!  (That black thing directly under the mantel is the heat shield that is required if you have a wood stove that sticks out of the fireplace. We might take it down in the summer.)

Home Improvement #2:
The stairway. Ugh.  We've been dreading painting the stairway/hallway/ceiling area since it is very high up and required changing the light fixture.  We are both a little leary of heights and don't have a ladder tall enough etc.  So, Paul built this:
Which meant we had to hurry up and get this done unless we wanted to keep climbing under this in our pajamas for several evenings.  It was fairly sturdy and we cranked out the light change and the ceiling and wall painting in about 24 hours.
That's the new light.
Knitting News:
In the car on the way to xmas eve and then in the several days after, I finally finished my Brigid Jacket from Vintage Modern Knits: Contemporary Designs Using Classic Techniques:
Sans buttons, of course... and the sleeves ARE the same length.  They just don't look it in this picture....

 I love how it came out.  This book has several patterns that I'd like to knit eventually. BUT... see my ramblings later on in this post.

And at The Spinning Room on Saturday a new knit-a-long started, which I joined in on:
These will be the Socks of Kindness and I'm making them with the Periwinkle Sheep Watercolors sock yarn in the Rhinebeck 2011 colorway.

And finally, I started the Sycamore Vest by Hannah Fettig using the Cascade 220 Sport:
I thought it would be a great springtime piece.

Here's my problem now:  I've started two more things.  I have many other things started.   Those of you who are knitters will likely be able to relate.  So, I feel the need to come up with some sort of plan.  Something like.... work on these for a little bit, then work on something already started.  Like my Dahlia Cardigan.  Which i love!  And I've only gotten the back lace piece done.  And my Froot Loop socks.  I love them too! And of which I have the leg of one sock done.  And my Umaro blanket by Jared Flood.  I have almost one repeat done of that.  And I love it!  But I love these new things too.   Ugh!  Decisions decisions.  Any suggestions?

I also read two books recently but will save those for the next post since this one is already ten years long.
Happy New Year!