Saturday, October 27, 2012

Had. To. Have.

My birthday falls on/near the NYS Sheep and Wool Festival every year.  So, it makes for a nice treat for me to go and buy yarn-y, fiber-y birthday presents!  We went down to Kingston (near Rhinebeck, where the festival is held at the Duchess County Fairgrounds) last Saturday afternoon and stayed overnight.  A simply gorgeous view from our hotel room:
love, Love, LOVE this time of year!

We went out to dinner at Texas Roadhouse.  Never been.  REALLY like the ribs and pulled pork. Our waiter informed us there will be one coming to our area.... Mmmmmm.  Then we went to Shop Rite and got a birthday cake:
Chocolate strawberry short cake.   Mmmmmmmm.   And no, that is not all we ate in case you were wondering.  We are dessert fiends  (I married into, and have hence assumed the tradition of, the Cassidy second dessert --- have a dessert, wait a while, then have another.  Sometimes three.) --- there was a little we couldn't finish.  Can you tell that it really is a small cake?

The next morning we got up early to go to breakfast and then the festival.  Here is the only picture we took there:
Ha!  And that was when we were leaving.  In case this picture doesn't accurately portray --- there were A LOT of people there.  And it was the second day of the festival - there were apparently a lot more there the previous day.  It was a gorgeous day and we had a nice time browsing the vendors and watching the pumpkin chuckin' contest  - area high schools compete to make a trebuche that will throw a pumpkin and other items the farthest.    (Spell check will not tell me how to spell trebuche - it offered Bucharest as an option.  You know what one is, right?  It's a medieval thing with a weight on one end and a slingshot thing on the other.)  At any rate....   we, of course, also ate yummy festival food.  Fried artichokes, wonderfully crispy on the outside but warm and soft on the inside pretzel, and a chocolate/peanut butter cookie bar.  We didn't go overboard this year.  I can't believe I didn't even bring home kettle corn.  It could have been my second dessert for, like, a week.

I did make two purchases.  My first purchase was a total impulse oh-my-gosh-i-have-to-have-this-since-it-is-so-cute purchase:
A Soakbox! (SoakBox Gift Set (Soakbox Celebration - Clark Cable) ) It is a skein of Lorna's Laces sport weight yarn and a fingerless mitt pattern, with matching nail polish (!!), lotion and Soak woolwash.  I just had to have it.  When I tried to add it all up to see if it was worth it ($50), I think it was.  But to be honest I didn't try all that hard to figure it out because i had. to. have. it.  Mine was the Clark Cable box which refers to the mitt pattern.  I actually really liked the pattern in the teal box - there were 5 color sets in all (I think) - and the woman at the booth said that pattern for that was also in the KnitSimple Holiday issue, so that sealed the deal for me.
That's my mitt-in-progress.  The mitts in the magazine are more of a teal - not blue like this picture shows. And the model is wearing the teal nail polish that comes in the kit.  Which is why I didn't get that kit.  Loved the yarn color but not the nail polish.  Blech.  Stay tuned for the picture of me wearing my finished mitts (washed in the wool wash) with my matching nail polish, on my lotioned hands! (You can click up there to be linked to Amazon to buy the set.)

The other thing I bought?...
Fifteen hundred and some odd yards of off-white worsted weight yarn.  To make an aran cardigan - the kind with different cable and other patterns.  Something similar to this:
Something that looks very classic, and will be so warm and cozy.  Now I just have to choose a pattern.  That could take years.

Want another picture of Mandy and Phoebe?
No, it isn't the same picture as before.  They lay this exact way all. the. time.  So cute.  And for something different, here is Mandy enjoying this beautiful, balmy fall day:

Friday, October 12, 2012

To Match or Not To Match

Last year, while at the NY State Sheep and Wool Festival, I purchased some yarn for these really awesome socks.  They would start out pink, then get some gray dots.  Then more gray dots.  Then tons of gray dots.  Then it would be more gray with lots of pink dots.  Then fewer pink dots.  Then all gray.  It looked like pixels.  Really neat looking, going from light to dark.  So, a year later, and one week before the next festival (where I will probably find more sock yarn, which I need more of like a need another hole in the head), I decided to start them.  Here is what they look like:
Now, I'm usually not very fussy about making my socks be all matchy matchy.  I actually like it when the stripes on one sock are in a different order than the stripes on the other.  I'm not an orderly kind of girl (in many facets of my life...).  But, for these, it's different.  I'm not sure why I'm stuck on them matching.   I imagined that they would match because I imagined that's how they dyed and split up the yarn.  AND THEY DON'T MATCH!   A closer look is in order.  The one on the right looks like this:
Starts with pink, then gray dots start 3/4 way
down the ribbing.
The one on the right looks like this:
You can't see them, but the dots JUST started,
1" into the leg....
 AND, looking at the first picture, you can see the one on the left has more pink yarn to go through before it would match the one on the right - which it won't because the other one is well on it's way and won't just stop where it is and wait for the other one. AND, i just now noticed after looking closer at the picture... THE BALL ON THE RIGHT IS BIGGER!!!!  Who knows how this saga will turn out?  I can tell you this much, there is no way I'm ripping out the one on the left to try to make it match.  I will live with it, even though I'm aggravated by it.  BUT, if I run out of yarn for the one on the left.....!?!?!? (stay tuned...)

In the meantime, I picked up my Harumi cardi this week, which I started June 11, 2011, and put a few rows on it:
 Not very far into it, but it was next on my list to finish.  I love the look of it.  Here is a picture from the pattern notes:

  I think it will be very comfy.  I'm making it with a dk weight cotton/nylon blend called Cascade Cotton Rich so it won't be terribly hot.

And I finished my basic socks with the Malabrigo sock yarn:
 Very comfy and cozy.  And now the weather is getting chilly and I can actually wear them!

Ooh, and look what I made in TWO HOURS!!!!!:
 It's a Yarn Bowl  - you put your ball of yarn in it so it won't flop all around when you are pulling the yarn from it.  It just needs a little clasp-y thingy to hold that opening shut (just above where the yarn will come out, to hold the strand of yarn in one spot. (Got the clasp at JoAnn's today.  Any bets on how long it will take me to put it on?  Hint:  Clasps are like buttons.)

And, on the homefront, this has become the norm:
Including Phoebe's paw flopped over the edge.  How nice that they can share.

Monday, October 8, 2012

IT has begun...

IT has begun:
....wood stacking.  Ugh.  This is one of the big difference between Paul and I.  He finds it relaxing.  I find it boring.  And tedious.  And BORING.  Part of my job in all this is to drive the lawn mower with the little cart attached, to bring the wood from the back to the front.  And yesterday?  Here's what I did:
I HATE trying to back up with the cart attached!  It just doesn't go the way I want it to no matter how many times I try (the above damage happened on the 6th time I had readjusted to try and get it in the right spot).  I would much rather just go forward all the time, but yesterday the cars were in the way.  Next time, i will move the cars.  One might think I would persevere and just get some practice with the backing up thing.  But, nope.  I've tried this SO. MANY. TIMES.  Life is too short to waste it on practicing this and fixing downspouts.

In other fall-related activities....I made THE yummiest thing to bring to a party on Saturday....  Apple Fritter Cake.  It is from the Cookies and Cups blog, and is a little involved (as she states) but it is VERY yummy.  Made with my favorite Honey Crisp apples that I got from Indian Ladder Farms.  Forgot to take pictures while I was making it, but here is the final result:

Oh and did I mention this is the first one, of two, that I made because I messed this one up?  There is a batter layer, then an apple-y layer, then you are supposed to sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon and then another batter layer, then just a little sprinkle of brown sugar.  I forgot the brown sugar layer in the middle so I put it all on the top and tried to swirl it in.  Then I was so mad that I forgot and wanted to make sure it came out the way it was supposed to, that I made another one.  After I ran to Stewart's for more sour cream.  This one still tastes excellent.  I actually don't know how the other one came out!  I brought it to the party and then ate other dessert(s) since I had this one at home.  Speaking of which, I need to get the recipe for the yummy S'mores Bars that were there.

In Knitting News:
I made this in two days!:
It was quick quick quick!  And so easy.  It's a pattern called Time Warp, which is a slip stitch pattern and can be modified to make a shawl or a longer cowl.  I used Cascade Casablanca yarn and the color striping works really well with the slip stitch pattern, don't you think?

And I've discovered something to help with my horrible impatience with blocking.....
That rack sits in the dryer so that the item won't tumble around.  I put the dryer on "no heat" and in about 40 minutes it was dry!  How did I not know what that rack-thingy was hanging next to the dryer all this time????

In Book News:
I had a shopping "accident" at Barnes & Noble the other day...
I was just passing through to get to the candle store across the hall at the mall and just couldn't pass up the buy 2 get 1 free table.  I saw 2 books that I had wanted to get already, then found another that was recommended on the Books on the Nightstand podcast.  Usually I can't find 3 books that I want to buy, so I saw this as a sign that I should do it.  Stay tuned for the book reviews!

AND, I'm subscribing to Paul's theory that you can never have enough motors books.  Especially since we went to Rome, NY last weekend to pick this up:

There are a couple more already in the garage I think.  Doesn't it look awful?  Like you wouldn't want to/couldn't do anything with it? Apparently that is not the case and apparently it was a good buy - good enough to drive two hours to get it - and you just never know when you will need another one.

In Gardening News:
The garden is done.  Picked all the green tomatoes that I could and pulled up all the stakes.

 Now to mulch and till for the winter... Can't wait for next year and a bigger garden and doing all the things right that I did wrong this year.

And check out the cute little critters we saw playing in the yard the other day (picture quality not great since they were so far away):
In case you can't tell - foxes.
Last week we saw the blue heron in the pond. Love that about our yard.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

On a Finishing Streak

I'm all over this knitting thing.  Not "over it" as in done, but "all over it" as in I-so-got-this-and-I'm-going-to-finish-everything-in-site-AND-start-some-new stuff.

Finished:  Watermelon Slice Socks
Love. Them.  And they are mostly comfy.  The biggest question I get is "Won't those beads hurt your feet when you wear shoes?".  Answer:  Only the one bead on the very edge of my left foot.

Finished:  (Actually, started and finished since you haven't heard about them yet)  Campout Mitts

These are one of each pair since the others are at The Spinning Room as a sample for the class I'm going to teach in them.  Very quick to knit and very comfy, especially the blue ones since they are made with Plymouth Yarns Aerie (100% baby alpaca).  Sooooooooo soft.

Finished:  Echo Flowers Shawl

That's it blocking.  I am mostly happy with it.  I'm not sure I chose the best yarn.  A little too tightly twisted and a little heavier than it should be.  Also the color.  Makes it hard to see the pattern.  What I'm most happy about is that it is finished.  This was a long-languishing unfinished project.  I started it 9/7/2010!  That's the oldest of my currently unfinished projects.

Started and then started over:  A slip stitch cowl that doesn't have a name.  Started over = cast on, but haven't knitted any of it yet.  So, no picture.

Resumed Knitting: A plain sock that I started at least two years ago.

And now I'm on the gusset decreases of the second sock, heading toward the foot.  But.... what's wrong with this picture:

(aside from the flash making it a crappy picture)  It's probably hard to tell, but the heel on the left sock is half the height of the heel on the right sock!  I have no idea what I was thinking when I knit that.  It's clearly NOT right.  But.  It's staying that way.  No way I'm ripping out half a sock, when it fits me just fine.  Let's be honest.... even if it fit me weird, I wouldn't rip it out.

Started and Finished: The Spellman Files: A Novel by Lisa Lutz (click there to purchase on Amazon).   Ok, so it's not knitting, but still qualifies as something finished.  I got this book on a whim at the Border's going out of business sale.  I started out not liking it very much.  It was a little difficult to keep track of the way the author was laying out the story.  But, then, once I got it figured out, I really got drawn into the story and the characters.  What characters!  The Spellmans are a family of private investigators, including the youngest sibling (who is currently 14) and not including the oldest (who is a lawyer and doesn't want anything to do with the family business).  This is the first book in a series (not sure how many), so there is a lot of family background to be told and this somewhat adds to the confusion in the beginning.  Woven into this is a current investigation that the main character Izzy (one of the siblings) is assigned by her parents, as well as some family drama that develops.  Lots of humor mixed into the drama as well.  I'm glad I stuck with it, since it became quite engrossing - not just the story but the way the characters and their personalities unfold.

Meanwhile, there's this:
That is a hole in the roof, letting water leak into the ceiling in our bathroom.  Yay!  Paul had to climb up into the attic through a tiny hole in the bedroom closet.  Ok, the hole seemed tiny, but it's probably normal-sized and trying to get up there was a task and a tight squeeze --- holding a flashlight and the camera.  And a screwdriver.  Because you never know if you'll need a screwdriver when you are trying to find a leak.   On the plus side, we've discovered a VHF antenna, installed in the attic.  The kind that used to be seen on top of your roof (not under it). The mysteries of the people that lived here before us never cease to amaze us.

But with all the money-pit like stuff inside, we get pretty autumn leaf views outside: