The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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She spins, she knits, she blogs about it all.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Casting on the Twosies

I've finished my first project for 40 Days. I whipped up a little hat in the Live Dangerously-No Swatching pattern, using up some leftover Encore worsted in the process. I ran a bit short at the end and used some of the leftover Fun Fur from the chemo caps to finish it off. Joe says it looks silly, but I choose to disagree.

I also finished his first Welsh Country Stocking. It fits him perfectly; however, he is complaining that the heel feels funny. Since he normally wears tube-type socks, or else socks with very plain heels, the double-thick shaped heel probably does feel unusual. I'm telling him that he'll get used to it. I'd hate to think that I'm putting the effort into these socks that he may decide he doesn't want to wear. And they certainly won't fit me!

So today I decided to cast on for all the number two portions of the projects at hand. At the top is Fetching Mitt Number Two; on the left is the 40 Days Hat Number Two, and on the right is the Welsh Country Stocking Number Two.

And because I'm going a little crazy longing for some spring-like color, I cast on another little number. Socks for me in shades of yellow, blue, and lilac. Who cares if it will soon be too warm for wool socks? It's the colors to cheer my soul.

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

February 007

February, at least in Southeast Arizona, is Quilt Show Time. All the yearly shows take place in February. Perhaps it's because it's the last gasp before the winter residents start heading back for the northern states; perhaps it's because the weather is properly condusive; perhaps it's just because it's February, dang it all, and everybody needs something bright and wonderful to look at and lift the spirits.

I belonged to a quilt guild for several years. I learned a lot and made a lot of small quilts, almost all of which were given away. I have a couple of the small wallhangings still in my house. They are both hand pieced and hand quilted; both of them made their appearance in February Quilt Shows. This one hangs in the living room and was made from scraps of Barbara's quilt.

Another one was done during a "blue and green" phase. At one quilt show I demonstrated hand piecing with this quilt; two years later the completed quilt hung in the same show in February. Do you notice that I have a decided preference for squares and triangles? Two inch squares being the size I prefer.

There are several quilts still in the works. Two need quilting; three are in various stages of being pieced. This quilt will one day be a queen sized bed quilt, done in fabrics filled with flowers, leaves, and various bird and insect prints. Can you see the bumblebee in the flowers?

Perhaps I need to do some piecing on this quilt. Certainly the flowers would make me feel like spring.

(P.S.: There would have been a lot more fabric eye candy on this post, but Blogger wouldn't allow any more pictures. I was hoping the new Blogger version was going to fix that problem. Guess not.)

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Random Musings

Another blogger gone missing in action for more than a week! Actually, I think I've been in a sort-of-end-of-winter-not-quite-spring funk. Our weather has been going from lovely and warm to windy, cold, and wet and back again. And I finally went over to our new building to check things out, and that didn't help the funk. The building is no where near finished, is very badly laid out, and has more wasted space than a body could imagine. Now I understand why for weeks now I have been hearing how awful the design is. No one is happy about it. In the meantime, we are still in our old office, but everyone else has moved to the new complex (their new digs are lovely, bright, airy, and enviable!) and we are stuck in an old building that is falling apart and which no one will spend the time or money to fix. Such is progress.

A year ago last weekend, Joe had his "mini-stroke". This was on our minds a lot last weekend, of course. I'm pleased to say that his health is excellent and that whole episode seems to be safely behind us now. And I can also say that now, a year later, it really did affect our lives; now there is none of this "Someday we'll do this or that or whatever". Someday is now, today, and if we want to travel or do something, it's time to plan it and do it. No more putting things off for us. Life is fragile and precious and nothing should be put off if it can be done now.
I've been working a bit on Joe's sock; I'd like to say that I'm racing towards the toe on the first one, but it's halting progress at best. Although I am getting pretty close to the toe shaping. I've been spending a lot of time lately raking up the yard and going through old papers and files. When we were in the military and moving every few years, it was easy to keep things from piling up; sooner rather than later I would have to throw out all the junk before the movers showed up.
Now we have been in one spot for 12 years and the "stuff" has become unmanageable. So the garbage can has been pretty darn full every pickup day for the last couple weeks. And after a day of sorting crap, I've been looking for some low-key knitting, and finding myself picking up the sock yarn log cabin blanket. The colors have been very soothing and the simple garter stitch has been suitably mindless. Very relaxing.
I haven't picked up the Icarus Shawl for quite a while now. And spinning has become a Friday night only event. In my carry-around bag are the makings for a hat for 40 Days For Others. In the past two days at work I've managed to get a couple inches done on it. Prior to starting the hat, I've been making myself a pair of Fetching mitts; I've managed to complete one mitt in the odd moments at work when nothing else is going on.
The yarn is Malabrigo, in the Sunset color, I think...I absolutely adore the softness of this yarn. Once I'm done with my 40 Days knitting, I'm sure I'll make the other mitt, but there's no hurry. Spring is fast approaching and I can't see a need for hats and mitts lasting much longer. The rose bushes and the trees are trying to bud. Soon it will be time to head to the garden center and pick up some annuals for the flower beds. Certainly in time for Easter!

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Even When It's Cold...

....Mother Nature is still at work. The irises push up through the soil, and the weeds that manage to stay green even through the winter start to bud and flower.

I've finished up my fun fur chemo caps. I had bought two balls each of two colors, and each cap needed one plus a little of the second. The two lower caps are each one color. Then I combined the leftover yardage to make the top cap, alternating the colors on each row. And even though I made the same pattern, they look as if they are different sizes. C'est la vie...

Next week I shall pack them up and mail them off, and soon I will start on my 40 Days knitting. Joe's socks are coming along and so far the fit is working for me. I'm working on that long, long first foot now. Thank goodness I bought plenty of yarn!

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Walk Before Work on Wednesday

Who needs words?


Monday, February 12, 2007

40 Days and 45 Miles

It's time again to start thinking about knitting for Lent. Ann is hosting 40 Days for Others again, and of course I have jumped aboard. It seems as if I have been doing a lot of charity knitting the last couple months and this will just be a continuation of the same. Ann has a couple organizations that she is collecting for, but you are welcome to knit for the charity of your choice. I've gone through my stash and I will be able to knit some hats and fingerless mitts with what I've got on hand. A good choice, since I am trying to decrease the size of the stash on hand. I have felt for a long time that Lent ought to have its' positive disciplines, not just giving things up in a negative sense. (Although I could certainly do with giving up kettle chips.)

Isn't this an interesting photo? It has sort of a Lenten feel to it, I think. Daughter Annie took this in Utah a couple years ago. She likes to work with black and white and sepia tones. I would like to go back hiking on that trail. I've logged 45 miles for Runagogo so far; it's been a good discipline to get me off the couch each day.

I'm going to give Joe's socks a rest for a couple days. The right arm is feeling a little too sore for my liking. I've decided to give up the Harebell Lace-Pumpkin socks, probably permanently. The yarn isn't working out as well as I would like and I don't feel that I want to spend anymore time on them. I'm not frogging them yet, but I'm just going to put them away for now. I just don't feel like spending that much time on something I don't think I would be happy with.

Stay warm and healthy, everybody!

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Birthday, a Sock, and a Dog on Steroids

Twenty nine years ago today (was it really that long ago?) our oldest son was born. Thus began 29 years of having at least one kid in the house at any given time. And honestly, I don't seem to remember what life was like before having children. Now that new baby of 29 years ago is married and about to present us with a second grandchild.

Time sure flies when you're having fun.

It wasn't a good week for knitting or blogging or much else except work. I shouldn't complain. There hasn't been anywhere near as much overtime as in the past year, but this week saw some extra long days and extra reports to be written up. Every day this week I came home and took a much-needed nap. I don't know who started the rumor that older people don't need as much sleep. All I know is that I can definitely tell when I haven't gotten enough. I can't stay up late like I used to and just toss it off the next day. It used to be a breeze getting up early and being to work at 5:30 or 6:00; now by the end of the week I feel as if it's becoming more and more impossible. How long until I can retire?

When I have picked up the needles, however, it has been to work on Joe's socks. I turned the heel on the first one today. It's the first time I've done a sock with leg shaping and it's working out quite nicely. So far it fits him very well and he's happy with it so far. But I need to convince him that wool nowadays isn't necessarily the itchy stuff he thinks it is. The acrylic is knitting up nicely and I am getting perfect gauge with it, but it makes my right arm hurt after a while since there isn't much give in it. And I don't want to irritate the arm again because it's been feeling really good lately. And besides, it's going to be such a freaking big sock! Those size 13 feet!! It's also my first two-color sock, which has it's own challenges. Anyone care to instruct me on how to join in the new color yarn for a sock? I don't want to knot the ends if I can help it. Right now they are just dangling in place but I'm going to have to do something about them soon. And none of my books seem to have any instructions for joining yarn when changing colors.

Another new technique I'm trying with these socks is doing the heel with both ends of the yarn alternating stitches. Nancy Bush gives this technique in Folk Socks for reinforcing the heel. It's turned out nice but it did slow things down a little bit. And it's a headache trying to pick up gusset stitches in black yarn!

Buddy got neutered two weeks ago Monday. We have always gotten our animals fixed. He came through it okay and was ready to go for a walk as soon as he got home from the vet's, even though he was still groggy from the anesthetic. He came home with beaucoup meds; in fact, the pills cost more than the surgery. In addition to his surgery, he also had an infection in one of his back paws, and we had the vet deal with that as well while Buddy was sedated on the operating table. Seems he picked up something deep in that paw, probably before we got him, and the pad on that paw was swollen and tender. So we had to give him antibiotics for ten days (tucked into meaty chunk dog food) for his surgery, as well as drops and creams on the paw and steroid pills twice a day for all the swelling.

I'm happy to say that Buddy has recovered very nicely. The surgery is all healed and the paw is looking much, much better; he's walking on it normally now. But there has been a side effect. A week or so after the surgery, we noticed that he was starting to eat an awful lot. He was cleaning out the cat food on a daily basis. It got to the point that we had to hide the cat food in the laundry room so that the cats could get it but he wouldn't go in there after it. (He usually won't push open a door that's mostly closed, but the cats can slide through and get at the food.) He was following us around every time we went into the kitchen and would scarf up anything in sight. Lettuce, nutshells, lemon juice, you name it. It finally dawned on us. All the steroids were making him hungry. Buddy was just trying to bulk up. Nothing like trying to buff up for all the girl dogs in the neighborhood. So we started feeding him more. It got to the point that he was eating four times as much as normal. And depositing four times as much in the backyard. It looked like grizzlies were sneaking in when no one was looking. We thought about hiring a dump truck (pun intended) to follow us around the neighborhood when we took him for walks. We were bringing a couple pounds back with us to throw in the garbage can after every trip. It was becoming positively embarassing.

Fortunately we have been cutting back on the steroids since Thursday. Buddy has to be tapered off them over the next couple weeks, so I imagine we will still have some appetite issues for a while, but the situation has started to slowly drift back towards normal. I took Buddy for a walk this afternoon and didn't need any of the plastic bags or latex gloves I brought along. There may be hope that soon the appetite and the poop production will be back to normal.

I'm sure the garbage men will appreciate that too.

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Joe's Watchcap

Pattern: Based on the Marsan Watchcap by Staceyjoy Elkin, with 104 stitches cast on and a total of 55 rows knit before decreasing at the top. This is a nice hat pattern and is easy to tweak to adjust the size.

Yarn: Caron Simply Soft in black.

Needles: Size 7 circular (16 inch) and Size 7 DPNs, all bamboo.

Finished: February 4, 2007


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Something Old is New Again

Don't get me wrong here now. I really like my bottom whorl spindle. I know that most folks are using a top whorl, and most of the written literature is about top whorls, but I really like my bottom whorl. I'm getting some nice fine singles on it, exactly what I want to do, and even though one of these days I will probably get a top whorl spindle, I REALLY like my bottom whorl.

But there is one drawback. I've got a bunch of roving now, very nice Ashland Bay stuff, and I really want to spin more. And the spindle takes time. A lot of time, and so I haven't managed to spin much up yet. And I'm getting really tempted by a lot of the rovings that I'm seeing on your blogs. I've been clicking on the links all you enablers provide and there was a lot of heavy salivating over the Rhinebeck posts. Something has been crying out to be done about all this. So this week, some definite action was taken.

Say hello to my almost-30-year-old Ashford Traditional, newly refurbished thanks to the local shop which, in addition to lots of undyed rovings, carries Ashford wheels and maintenance kits. With about 15 minutes work and a goodly amount of lubricating oil, I was ready to see how much I remembered.

It took a few false starts and some adjusting of brake bands and tensions, but in fairly short order I was on my way and the wheel was humming along. Now the practise I had put in with the drop spindle was making a big difference, since I found it very easy to draft the roving as I treadled away.

The new spinning is pretty good, I think, for my first Friday Night Spinning with the wheel. I think I will need to get more twist into the singles, but all things considered, I am quite pleased with this. I have lots of the white roving to practise with before I start working with the Ashland Bay. Who knows, maybe I'll complete the slide into the Dark Side and dye some of the white singles once I've plied them up.

See what you all have done to me?


Thursday, February 01, 2007

Project Spectrum

Today begins Project Spectrum, and I'm beginning it with Joe's socks in two shades of gray Schoeller Esslinger "Hit", a washable acrylic sport weight which I think has been discontinued; I was able to get a bunch really cheap at the local shop. (The man does. not. wear. wool. Yet.) The pattern I'm using is the Welsh Country Stockings from Nancy Bush's Folk Socks. Perhaps to you that's not a traditional bed sock, but it is to him. And they'll be his socks, and he gets whatever he wants for his first pair.

Next post, a surprise!

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