Sunday, December 31, 2006

Thanks to my blogging friends

Several friends have posted warm thoughts for healing. I thank you all. I am doing somewhat better. I've decided that my bed is the major culprit, since I wake up in the morning with the worst pain. If I stay in bed, I just get worse. If I get into my favorite chair, with proper lumbar support, and to my PT exercises as prescribed, I begin to feel rapidly better. Of course, the heavy-duty pain medications and muscle relaxants help, too, I'm sure. If I wasn't so attached to my DH and hated sleeping alone, I'd try sleeping in my chair. But that would only be a temporary solution, at best.

Thus, I believe it is time to give the old bed the old heave-ho. Something to think about, anyway.

I am still figuring out how to address comments, since I feel like such a new blogger and there is so much etiquette to be learned.

Sheepish Annie mentioned in one comment, "That quilt is just beautiful. The one I started this past summer is still sitting untouched. I have a fear of binding. I sorta didn't actually bother to learn how to do that...newbie quilters are easily flummoxed, I suppose! " Now, I'd love to offer to help her finish the quilt or even finish it for her, since she bring such joy into my humdrum life. But I could find no e-mail address on her blog and it felt weird to post a comment on one of her posts, since it would not relate to anything in her posts. Is making that offer in my blog allowable? And yes, Sheepish, that Octagon Swirl washcloth is a blast. I'm on #5 and I've only started on them this week. Thanks!!!!

Also, when I receive e-mail notification of comments, the return address always has "no-reply comment" in it. Does that mean you can't reply? Yet someone else e-mailed me from a different account recently and I could reply to them. How did they do that? Can I do that with bloggers that I want to share my e-mail address with?

Guinifer, I am going to have to take your suggestion and go halvsies on the Christmas money. The Socks That Rock yarn is just getting such raves that I've got to try it.

I want to say thanks to everyone who complimented all my FO's. It really warmed my heart and gave me the strength to press on when the stress was on. I don't have many readers but I love those who do comment regularly. You rock!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Convalescent knitting



Well, my back continues to give me grief, with some better days and then a few bad days. I had an MRI yesterday and the dr. is talking about a cortisone shot next week but I'm working hard on my PT to avoid such a drastic measure. Needless to say, I'm spending plenty of time resting between PT sessions, which means lots of knitting progress.
The Vine Lace Widdershins are complete and ready to be gifted to a dear friend. The photo does not do the pattern justice but there is no way for the lace pattern to show up in a photo because of the yarn. But I really enjoyed the pattern and hope to make a pair in a solid yarn in the future.
I've also completed 3 Octagonal Swirl Washcloths, first inspired by Sheepish Annie, then by Trek. A fun pattern that works up quickly and the results will be gifts to friends, as well.
I know, I know, I was going to do some selfish knitting. And I have. I have finished knitting a pair of slippers for myself (in the background of the washcloth picture). I need to felt them yet but my back is not allowing me to do much laundry, yet, so I'm waiting until I'm a little better before attempting that job.
I worked on Samus for awhile and have the body nearly completed. It is pretty heavy, though, so wrestling it around makes my back ache so that I've set the bodice aside for awhile. When I have the washcloths all finished, I'm planning on working on the braided cable cuffs for the sleeves, since they won't tax my poor, aching back.
Well, even with moving the chair and keyboard around and making every effort to get this desk as ergonomic as possible, I've typed as long as I can. Even blogging and visiting blogs can only be done in short sessions right now, so I'll try and catch up when I'm better. Blessings to all for a Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

With visions of spinning wheels dancing in her head



We made it home safely from our holiday gathering. It was a quick trip this time because my oldest two have a cat-sitting job over the holidays and had to be back to scoop poop, feed, water and dole out treats to four adorable kitty friends.

As you can see by the date stamp on the quilt, it was finished on Christmas eve, mere hours before our trek south. My fingers were hamburger by the time I finished, since I don't hand-quilt very often and I've lost my calluses but the pain was worth the reward of seeing my parents' reaction when they opened their gift.

All told, I'm pretty pleased with my Christmas gift production this year. I didn't quite make all my goals, since I had some Bible study friends I still want to gift with some small, hand-made tokens but I have a week yet to put some belated gifts together. The total listing below speaks for itself, I think:

  1. 11 pairs of slippers, 8 of which were embellished.
  2. One cable backpack.
  3. Hat and scarf set.
  4. One pair of Fetching mitts
  5. One pair of socks
  6. Two cotton wash cloths (technically not a gift, since they were bought from me but still made during the past week).
  7. 3 purses with crochet flower pins (the components were already pre-made - I just finished them up last week).
  8. One hand-quilted wall-hanging.

Now my plans are to join Sheepish Annie in some totally selfish knitting. I am currently finishing up a pair of Vine Lace Widdershins I've had on the needles since before the Christmas knitting frenzy, then I plan to resurrect Samus and, if my slowly healing back allows, even return to my MBR quilt blocks. My plans to make some Thrummed mittens is on hold because everyone in the family received gloves and mittens for Christmas. A surprise blessing, so I can be selfish for a little while with my knitting/sewing.

On a shopping note, I did receive some money for Christmas and am so torn. Part of me wants to go hog wild and buy Socks That Rock and Lisa Souza and PippiKneeSocks and Scout's Swag and all kinds of fibery goodness. On the other hand, it is a sizable amount of money that could be socked away toward a spinning wheel or a weaving loom, both of which are on my, "if only I believed in gambling and won the lottery" wish list. On my imaginary third hand, with which I multi-task with startling speed and agility, I'd love to own the Barbara G. Walker Knitting Treasury books. So many decisions . . . how's a girl to decide? Fortunately, I have enough new yarn in my stash and so many UFO's hanging around, I have time to mull it over and dream a little before I decide. Let other's have visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads. I plan on dreaming of spinning wheels and hand-dyed yarn and can't-live-without design books - at least until the money burns the hole through my pocket and escapes into someone else's hands.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Oh my - almost done!!!!

My back is marginally better. I can walk with relative ease but bending over is still not possible and I have started physical therapy.


In the meantime, I am plugging away on the last of the Christmas gifts. This is a pre-basted view of the Celtic Christmas quilt I'm finishing for my Dad and his wife. I've completed the quiliting in the center block and am finishing the quilting on the borders now. Then I just have the binding and hanging sleeve to put on. Of course, this all has to be done - TODAY - since we are leaving tomorrow for points south for the family conclave.


In between quilting sessions, I finished two more pair of slippers, knit two cotton washcloths for a friend who requested some and have re-designed the slingshot from knitty.com to work with some Peaches 'n Cream yarn I had in stash. I also finished DD#1's Fetchings and spent some time going through old Interweave Knit magazines looking at patterns for the Shimmer.


On a "Murphy's Law" note, my new washing machine is leaking. They can't send a repair man until next Thursday. With my gimpy back, laundry has been a very difficult chore to get done, anyway, so having more than a week's worth backlogged is going to make for an interesting post-holiday experience.


On the furry front, my kids managed to feed the cats twice last night, so they have a little food in their dish yet. So I made the strategic decision not to feed my knitting companion right away this morning. So she's pacing across the desk in front of my face, swishing her tail up my nose and stepping on the keyboard at random intervals, to remind me that I have been remiss in my cat care responsibilities. So I'd best not continue this post, lest she decide to add her own post-script. Merry Christmas to all and a Blessed New Year, too.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

FO Follow-up Photos






As promised, here are the pictures of today's progress. Four pairs of slippers embellished and Celtic Christmas being quilted. I am also sneaking a few rows in on Fetching for DD#1 when she's otherwise occupied and working on yet another pair of slippers for a nephew.
The photo of the sleeping cat is completely gratuitous. She is thorougly enjoying my pain because she gets to sit on my lap for hours. When I slipped out from under my lap blanket to get the camera, she didn't flinch and she managed to sleep through the entire photo shoot, too. What a snuggle-puss!
Well, back to work. So far, the meds are helping, as are the prayers, I'm sure. I am up and moving with a little more freedom. But there is so much left to do in the 9 remaining days until Christmas. Ho, ho, ho, oh I'm so tired.

Mama has a booboo

Been off the computer a few days with a back injury. Started Wednesday when my back went into spasms during Bible study. I've had back spasms before but this time something went wrong and my sciatic got involved. Sitting at a desk is nearly impossible.

Fortunately, knitting is still possible. The scarf that matches the double knit hat is done, a last-minute pair of slippers that were added to my to-do list are finished and I've started the hand-quilting a gift for my Dad and his wife. I'll post some pictures later, when it's daylight and I can snap a few. In the meantime, I'm on a cocktail of cortisone, pain-killers and muscle-relaxants from the doctor and prayer from friends and family. Pray that I heal before we need to travel for the holidays. A 5-hour ride in the car to visit family does not seem feasible at the moment. Much less sitting and catching up with other bloggers. I miss you guys.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rub-a-dub-dub, three loads in a tub!



Rejoice! The washing machine arrived this morning and the third load of the day is already going (DS's hockey jersey's - whew - did they stink!). And knitting progresses apace, with the hat portion of my last knitted gift finished and the scarf nearing completion.

On a sadder note, I didn't reach my goal of finishing all my gifts with stash yarn. After a long and fruitless search for one more skein of black Encore, I had to go buy one skein to finish the scarf. Overall, I'm pretty pleased with myself, though. It was a valiant attempt and $5.80 spent in December for all the knitted gifts is acceptable - I guess.

A few details about the hat - I used a two-color, German Twisted cast-on, which resulted in the braided effect on the bottom edged. I prefer the German Twisted cast-on because it has more stretch than the traditional long-tail cast-on. Since the hat is double knit, casting on both colors at once made sense. The other option I thought about would have been to use a provisional cast-on in one color and knit a few rows. Then pick up the stitches from the provisional cast-on in the other color and re-distribute the stitches on the needles for double-knitting. This would have resulted in a seamless edge but would have been quite fussy and time consuming. Having done the two-color cast-on before, I was comfortable using it and I like the braided effect it gives. I toyed with the idea of experimenting with Judy's Magic Cast-On but was too impatient to get to work. Perhaps on my next double-knit hat pattern. . .

The rest of the hat was worked in double knit fashion in a 2x2 rib until the crown decreases, then the decreases were worked first in the alternating purl wales, then the alternating knit wales until it was a 1x1 rib. The yarn was cut and pulled through the remaining stitches and knotted off. The hat is reversible and the color in the photo with the hat and scarf together is truer than the color in cast-on detail photo. The scarf is a plain 2x2 rib, over 32 stitches, with 12 rows of each color, worked on the same size 8 bamboo circulars used for the hat.

When the scarf is finished, I'll be moving onto the quilting on a small wallhanging for my Dad and Step-mom. It will be a challenge to get it hand-quilted in less than two weeks but it's another portable project, so it can go with me wherever I go. Then I have one gift left to make for family, another quilted project, if I have time.

By way of inspiration, after the Christmas rush, this has been requested by DS, these will be finished for DD#1, thrummed mittens are on tap for DD#2 and DD#3, there are two pair of socks still on the needles and Samus is waiting to be finished so I can move onto something with my new Shimmer yarn from Knit Picks. But all knitting will be for pleasure and there will be NO DEADLINES! Oh yeah, uh-huh, woohoo! (insert mental picture of happy dance here).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Washing machine woes


Well, the fixing of the old washing machine was not to be and a new washing machine is due to be delivered on Tuesday. The mountain of dirty laundry is growing hourly but I did find a bargain, financed it so I have six months to pay it off and got free delivery and the old one will be hauled off for free as well. So one item of stress is checked off the list.


Progress is being made on the gifts. This one is not earmarked for anyone in particular, yet. Perhaps a hockey coach. I'm nearly done with the hat for my nephew, which is the last knitted family gift I have left to complete. Then a couple quilted/sewed projects to finish and gift making will be complete.

Off to dance - DD#1 has a class and then a performance this afternoon. Big dance week, with multiple dress rehearsals and performances this weeks. Yikes!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Knitting Queen!


Bow in homage to my superior gift knitting skills. Don't pay any attention to the fact that I'm waking up at 3:30 am obsessing about all the things left on my to do list. Ignore the slightly crazed, glazed look in my eye as I sit in the waiting room nearby, muttering to myself as I find a mistake and have to tink. Don't you dare mention the stinking pile of day-old dishes in my sink or the mountain of clean laundry waiting to be folded and put away in the middle of my bedroom floor. And when I end up with a bleeding ulcer, an incurable migraine or a nervous breakdown (or all three), and am laying in a hospital bed, far away from any internet connection, THEN you can nod your heads and sagely comment, "I saw it coming. She's only human, after all. Just who did she think she was?"

Here's the run down - Fabulous Felted Backpack from Bags - a Knitter's Dozen, made from Mary Lu's Schuss Plus 100% wool worsted weight yarn (I held two strands together) on size 10 needles. I added one pattern repeat to the length, because I didn't want the felting process to result in a bag that was too short. Nothing's worse than a skimpy bag, IMHO. It took a dedicated weekend of knitting to make. I was not able to completely forego the cable needle because the side cables are six-stitch cables but I did manage the center cable/bobble pattern without a cable needle and without turning the bag on the bobbles. This is a bag I'm definitely making again because it worked up so fast and fabulous. Maybe in ballet pink for my DD#1?

Just to add to my holiday stress, my washing machine died. The repairman came today and declared it DOA. It would cost more to repair it (in labor) than a new machine will cost. Of course, given the state of our holiday finances, this is NOT a good time to spend $500 or more on a new machine, so my blessed, talented DH is researching how to get the part, to see if he can fix it himself. Being an electrical engineer extraordinaire, I know he has the ability, but the time? Ah, that is another matter entirely. And with a family of six (plus one old, sick cat who throws up on a regular basis on anything soft he can find), I cannot be without a machine for long without having to contact people like Sheepish Annie, with a surplus of necessary garments to donate to a worthy cause. What to do?

Time to cook dinner and prep for Awana. Ah, the scent of adrenaline. Nothing like the smells of the season.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Gift making central


This was my progress on additional gift #1 as of Saturday morning. The pieces are now all finished and ready to be felted. This particular pattern, from Bags, A Knitter's Dozen, has you felt the pieces before assembling the bag.

I'm in the process of trying to design a hat pattern for the other gift but am not happy with my swatches so far. I'm attempting to double-knit the hat in two colors and have experimented with different cast-on techniques. I've found some fun things to do but they all end up being a bit too fancy and girly looking for a man. So the search continues. But time is running short, so I may fall back on a tried and true pattern, instead of designing something myself.

Onward and upward because there is light at the end of the tunnel . . .

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Happy Birthday to me



Here is the delicious birthday present purchased with the gift from my Daddy. Four skeins of Shimmer in the Flower Garden colorway from Knit Picks. It has a luscious hand because it is 70% Baby alpaca and 30% silk. Unfortunately, I didn't get a perfect color match on the computer, as the real things is a lot deeper and has more purple/burgandy tones but it is lovely, lovely, lovely.

Now I need to find a pattern that takes under 1760 yards of lace weight yarn. Although a shawl would be an obvious choice, my lifestyle doesn't lend itself to wearing such an article of clothing very often. I'd love to find a lacy, openwork sweater, similar to this but written for lace weight yarn. The latest Vogue Knitting has a lovely cropped lace sweater that I'm looking at modifying to lengthen it to reasonable proportions but it's on the back burner until the Christmas gifts are finished. I can't write or rewrite patterns until the pressure of Christmas knitting is off the ol' noggin.

On the hockey front - the boys tied their first game in the tournament. It's a point-based tournament, so the early games are allowed to end in ties. DS played hard, in spite of feeling crummy but 4 members of the team are down with the same symptoms and one of the other top players on the team dropped out of the game halfway through the first period because he was too ill to continue. It's going to be a long weekend for the whole team. They are playing their second game as I type. But it was a wise decision to stay home. DS#3's symtoms have worsened again today, with a spike in her fever this morning. She's watching Annie on DVD and staying in bed today. Shuttling her back and forth in this cold weather and into and out of cold arenas would have been a bad, bad thing. Pour little peanut.

On the gift front, I'm halfway through the knitting on the first of the two new gifts on the "to do" list and will post a picture later. It's going fast and I'm pleased with what I picked and how it's turning out. I'm hoping to finish it by the end of the weekend. Again, it's a felted project, so it will need to go in the washer at some point but that's no biggy. I was able to watch 3 Danny Kaye movies on TCM last night while knitting away. What a hilarious evening I had. I laughed out loud so many times, I scared the cats.

Well, back to the grindstone. Actually, it's not much of a grindstone. I'm enjoying this pattern and the movies and the absolute control over the remote. It's heady, this domination of television watching. What is that quote? Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely? DH may come home to a remote control megalomaniac. Muahahahahah!

Friday, December 01, 2006

No hockey tournament for me :-(

My family drew names (at last), so now I know the last two people I need to finish gifts for. So I'm knitting away, frantically, stressedly, hurriedly . . .

I'm sad, too. Two of my girls got sick late this week. So plans changed and it was decided I needed to stay home with the girls. So I didn't push and do all the stuff I would normally have done to get ready to go on the trip to my DS's hockey tournament this weekend. Then DS got sick and it seemed as though none of us would go. It was depression central around here last night. Then this morning, the girls were much better, DS got better but my work was not complete enough to get everyone ready to go. So off DH and DS went to the tournament and home I stayed with the girls. No hockey, no new knit shop to explore, no hotels to clean up after us, restaurants to cook for us, just more knitting for Christmas and chores galore. Bah Humbug!

So out will come all the sappy chick flicks in my DVD collection and I am going to get all weepy and girly this weekend and knit my heart out. And if I get some decent light tomorrow, I'll post some pictures of the birthday present my Dad's money bought for me. It's too yummy for words. I'm still searching for the perfect pattern for it. And hopefully I'll have some Christmas gift progress to post as well. In the meantime, heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to knit I go . . .

Monday, November 27, 2006

A new meme for Scout

Scout’s Meme:
1. How and when did you learn how to knit/crochet? Who taught you?

I learned as a child, around 10 to 12 years of age. My mom taught me. She is an awesome craftster, having far exceeded me in what she has learned and done. Besides knitting and crochet, she also sews, quilts, has painted in oil and acrylics, as well as refinishing furniture and collecting and restoring antiques. Her cross-stitch is exquisite and she has made extraordinary crocheted bedspreads and tablecloths that boggle the mind.

2. How has this craft impacted your life? (besides financially!)

After my second child was born, I suffered from post-partum depression. Quiliting became my therapy. The quilting community became my support group. Having something besides my home and children that brought praise and encouragement gave me a broader vision of who I was and that was the key to my recovery from depression. I'm not saying it would work for everyone but it was my salvation. Since then, when I hit periods of depression, I will find a new project to work on. It is so theraputic to be able to just sit and meditate and knit. Tension melts away and there is always something positive at the end (well, almost always - if not, then we get to frog it).

3. Pick at least one person to talk about who you have met through the knit-world and why you are thankful to have met them. Feel free to get all mushy.

I've got to mention Sheepish Annie because she is just too hilarious for words. She is just a source of pure joy and laughter everyday. I don't have large amounts of time to check all the blogs I enjoy but I check hers every time I log into the internet. No matter how lousy my day might be otherwise, I can always count on her blog to give me a chuckle. I also have to mention livnletlrn because she is one of the first homeschool/knitters I found and we struck a friendship right off the bat. I love her style of homeschooling and always check in to see what fieldtrip they've been on last. She also has a wonderful sense of knitting style and I am always looking to her for pattern ideas. She even sent me the pattern from one of her latest FO's, which I love and am hoping to make as soon as the Christmas gift rush is over. I am so thankful for internet friends like these who brighten my life everyday.


4. Comment and let me know when you post this in your blog so I can read them all.

Done!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Mobius done and slippers, too.



Voila! The pictures of my progress, as promised. Three of the eight pairs of slippers are now embellished and Mobius is finished and in use.

I've also started a new project with some yarn my darling Mom sent to me along with my birthday gift. She is always hitting the local thrift stores and often scores yarn at amazing prices. This is an older brand yarn that is an 85% wool/15% acrylic in a lovely tan color - at 50 cents a skein!!!! She has developed a wool allergy, so she passed this along to me. I've started Shifting Sands by Grumperina (a.k.a. Kathy) and I LOVE this pattern. She recommends learning how to cable without a cable needle (and has a tutorial on her blog, too - how cool is that), which I promptly did and !ZOWIE! what a difference that makes. This is working up fast and fabulous. This will be a Christmas gift for someone as well, although I haven't decided for whom yet. I'll post a picture of my progress as soon as I have better light for a photo.

It's been a long weekend. DS had his first hockey tournament of the season. They lost the first game 1-2, which they could have won because they out shot the other team 27-9. The other goalie was just very good. DS got the only goal of the game but I didn't get to see it because I was home nursing a feverish DD#3. I left DD#3 home with DD#1 for game 2 because it was a day game and the our boys won that one 5-1, again dominating offensively, outshooting the other team 4 to 1. DS had two assists but no goals. Today's game was a much closer game in the shots-on-goal category but our goalie pulled off a shut out, allowing us to win 3-0. No goals or assists for DS but he had 4 shots on goal, including one rocket off the post. A great ending to the weekend but very draining for this very enthusiastic hockey mom.

We have an away tourney next weekend. I'm praying that everyone else avoids this virus DD#3 had over the weekend and we're all healthy for the trip. We have family in the town where the tournament is being held, so we're really looking forward to this tournament. I'm looking forward to no dishes or chores for the weekend, so I can devote the down time to more Christmas knitting. I also know that there is at least one knit shop in town that I'll have to schedule a field trip to. Woohoo, hockey and knitting. It doesn't get much better than this!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Something picture-worthy soon

I'm in the Christmas gift finishing rush this weekend. I've got four pair of slippers in the washer as I type and plans to embroider and embellish a whole bunch of slippers this weekend. I'm heading out shortly to get sticky stuff to put on the bottoms to make them non-skid. So I'm hoping to have some lovely pictures to post, soon. Woohoo, I'm on a roll!

Some other gifts are in the works but they may have to wait because the friends they are for check in here from time to time. I'm also hoping to finish a couple of purses/bags, while on break. We'll see how much time I have. I'm off to shop.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Slippers, slippers and more slippers

It's been a pretty boring knitting life lately. Christmas knitting this year is one of those mixed blessings I've been blogging about lately. I was delighted to find a pattern that worked up fast, uses up some of the coned wool yarn that I've had clogging up my stash closet for so long and would work for a variety of dance teachers, hockey coaches and friends/family. But now that the pattern is learned, I'm getting bored.

Fortunately, there have been quite a few great movies on TCM lately and with the holidays approaching, there will be even more holiday movies. Old movies are my favorite thing to knit to. I've seen them before, so I don't necessarily have to watch to follow the action but still can "see" the movie in my imagination while I pay attention to my knitting (a bonus of being a highly visual person). Yesterday I enjoyed Desk Set with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn. This morning I got to see Top Hat with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. And the Star Trek marathon this past weekend was a treat as well. I know that many people work to books on tape or to music, but old movies are my favorite knit-along activity.

On the progress side, two more pair of slippers completed for dance teachers (one pair to go) and one slipper done for a hockey coach (at least 2 pair more to go, 1 more if I include our manager). I've emptied one cone of yarn so far and am down to a smidge of yarn left on two more cones, so I'm making progress on clearing out some of the stash yarn, too.

I celebrated my birthday this past weekend, as well. I was served breakfast in bed and received and handmade quilted table topper made by DD#1. The family did extra chores and let me knit and watch old movies. I also was taken out to lunch by my DH and have been promised a special handmade weaving board I've been wanting for awhile. I just need to go to the hardware store with him to pick out the materials so he can make it for me this week. I also received several great backrubs from DD#2 and DD#3. DS played his heart out in two games this weekend, dedicating his games to me. Who could ask for more?!? Even though the family lacked the funds to buy expensive gifts, everyone worked hard to find a way to make my birthday meaningful by using their gifts and talents to bless me. WOW! I was blown away by the creativity and kindness and thoughtfulness that everyone put into my weekend. I am blessed!!!

Monday, November 13, 2006

Just pictures

Hockey KAL Bears
Two more pair of Christmas slippers
A sunset snapped by DD#1 last Wednesday
Mobius, before sewing down embellishment and felting

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Blessings in disguise

Well, I've got the nasty sore throat my DH had last week. I've been nursing it all weekend by resting in bed, trying to knock it out quickly so I can get back on schedule on Monday. But with Christmas around the corner, it has actually been a blessing in disguise because I could spend the time working on knitting gifts.

I managed to finish the remaining slippers on my "absolutely necessary" list, finished another slipper on my "would really be nice to get done" and started yet another. I also managed to finish the first bear for my Hockey KAL during the Gopher/Wild double header last night and start another. Since the Wild are playing again tonight, I'm going to try to finish the knitting on the second bear tonight.

The only good thing about being sick is realizing you have a wonderful family that is willing to take on the housework and let stay you in bed and knit and watch old movies and hockey all weekend. There is also the added blessing that my DH already had this, so he knows exactly how miserable it is, so he's really empathetic. He is giving me lots of suggestions for how to treat the raging sore throat and other nasty symptoms of this particular bug. It makes me so thankful for my family, and especially for my DH, who has bent over backwards to take care of me while I moan and groan my way through this bug. It is so easy to take family for granted and I am so thankful that they can really step up and take over when I'm down. I am so blessed!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Letting go and trusting the words

I just finished knitting the Mobius Bag from Knit It! Fall 2006. I don't have the pictures to upload yet, as I need to sew down the I-cord embellishment and felt it but I did feel the need to blog about the knitting process on this particular project.

As a highly visual person, I tend to translate words into pictures. It's just the way my brain works. I've been learning much more about that recently because I've been reading a couple books on spacial/visual thinkers because DD#3 is showing strong indications of being an even more extreme type of visual thinker and they require special teaching techniques. It's been illuminating to learn about myself while trying to learn about my daughter's particular learning style.

I can remember back when I finally learned, however, to stop trying to visualize knitting instructions and just "do it". For years I had struggled because I tried to "see" the pattern before attempting to knit it. I had attempted socks but always got stymied by the heels because the instructions for short-rows didn't make sense to me. I couldn't "see" the end result, so everything would get all snarled up.

I finally gave up trying to figure out socks on my own and signed up for a class. At the last minute, though, the class was cancelled, due to lack of interest. Frustrated, I headed off to my LYS for knit night instead. I sat and fumed and pondered the issue. On my way out after musing over my own incompetence for several hours, I saw a sock kit with beautiful, Cherry Tree Hill yarn. I decided then and there that I was going to conquer socks or die trying. There was no way I was going to bypass all that fibery goodness because I was a knitting dunce.

I started the socks and got to my usual hang-up spot in the pattern - I read and re-read the instructions. I counted and re-counted stitches. The math didn't make sense and the pictures in my head would not cooperate. Then I closed my eyes and just released the pictures. I told myself to just read the words, let my hands follow the instructions and trust that the pattern writers knew what they were doing and it would all just work out without my having a strong vision of the process in my head first. Eureka! As the knitting progressed, then the pictures began to unfold in my head. It made sense but only after I let go and trusted the words first.

Now this may sound incredibly simple to some. Perhaps you've always followed the words without a picture in your mind and my mental quirks don't make sense. Or maybe you're even more visual and have no problems seeing the pictures, regardless of how convoluted the words make it seem. But it was the absolute epiphany of my knitting career.

Now, this long story was the prologue to my Mobius Bag story. It was a "let go and trust the words" kind of project. The picture of the bag didn't jive with what the instructions seemed to be saying, so my mental pictures were wrestling with the words initially. But I remembered my mantra and just followed the instructions and everything worked out just fine. It is actually quite a clever little bag and I can't wait to see how it felts up.

In reality, this process is a great analogy for faith in God. Sometimes when things don't make sense to us "logically," we just have to trust the Word. After all, "faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen" (Hebrews 11:1). When life is taking us for a ride and we try everything we can to control things that really are beyond our control, there comes a time when we need to let go and just take it on faith that "all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).

Right now, because of things beyond my control, I am battling depression. It's all chemical, due to migraines and the weather. My life isn't horrible, so there isn't anything situational that I can place any blame on (besides a little stress and who doesn't experience stress). So even when things seem dark and hopeless, I am just letting go and trusting the Word when it says, "Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." (Ephesians 4:4-9)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

My Favorite Chair


Here is my little knitting world. My old recliner, inherited from my FIL, which perfectly fits my kinks. The side table, with enough room for my tea and snacks and all the clutter that knitting requires. The knitting companion that warms my lap without attacking my yarn or needles (unless they get too feisty - then swift and stern discipline is needed and expected). My DS snapped this pic Sunday evening as I worked away on yet another Christmas gift. I'd been there for several hours and it was a blissful, Sabbath rest for me and I am so thankful for these brief breaks of peace in my hectic schedule. (I think Koda enjoys them, too. She was completely sacked out!)

I also teach school from this recliner most days, since our basement school room is a little chilly right now. We haven't rezoned our heating system yet, so we're still schooling on the main level until we get the settings right and it's more comfortable downstairs. I wish I could clone this chair, though, and have one in every room of my house. Being a short person, having a chair with the right seat depth and arm rests that don't hitch my shoulders up to my earlobes and a neck pillow that is actually behind my neck and not hitting me in the back of the head is such a blessing. It's a great chair for snuggling little ones with books, too. When the older ones need help, a foot stool is pulled along side and books are placed on the arm rest and we can work together. I love this chair!

If I were a poet, I think I would write an ode to the perfect chair. But I'm not, so I'll just settle for this blog entry and head off to school my kids with a thankful heart and remember to send a little note to my FIL this week by way of remembering his sweetness in sending my favorite chair into my life.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Joining a new KAL

Well, even more proof that I'm a weak woman. I gave in and joined the Hockey Knitter's Knitalong, although I should really admit that I have no time for charity knitting right now. But The Mother Bear Project is really one I've wanted to get involved with for a long time. One of my favorite LYS has been actively involved, so I have an easy way to deliver my goods, not to mention an excellent excuse to visit the shop from time to time. Talk about motivation to finish a few bears.

I have no picture to show of my latest FO, only because it was finished in a hurry and delivered, pronto. A friend broke her ankle on Friday, had surgery on Saturday, was home on Sunday in a cast. So I started knitting Sunday night, fulled on Monday morning and delivered on Monday evening a still slightly damp toecozy. I'm hoping my friend will snap a photo of it in use and e-mail it to me, so I can post it on my blog later.

I adapted the felted clog pattern by eliminating the bottom portion of the clog and just casting on the full number of stitches needed for the top portion of the clog. I knit two rows then made two YO button holes in one end and knit 2 more rows before starting the top portion of the clog. I ended the top portion of the clog about halfway up and bound it off. I then picked up a few stitches under the front portion of the clog and knit a little lip, picking up stitches at each side by and k2tog with last stitch, making sure that I didn't increase the total number of stitches, since it only needed to cup underneath the edge of the toes and the cast a little. After it was finished, I embroidered three little roses and some chainstitched leaves, just to dress it up a little.

Well, off to my crazy running day. Ta-ta.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Flying Purple Widdershins Hockey Debut

I wore the Flying Purple Widdershins to the first hockey scrimmage tonight. When I came down, I showed them to my DS and announced their name. My DS, a natural born skeptic and having the normal, teenaged aversion to anything out of the realm of ordinary, wrinkled his nose and asked me not to announce to the parents or team what they were called. When I inquired as to why, he said the name was "weird." In other words, his mom would be considered weird for having socks with a weird name. Or maybe the fact that I name my socks at all is the weird part.

Needless to say, that got me thinking about what Widdershins might mean. So I googled it. I had to laugh. According to Wikipedia,

"Widdershins (sometimes withershins, or widershins) is a word which (usually) means anticlockwise, however in certain circumstances it can be used to refer to a direction which is against the light, i.e. where you are unable to see your shadow. It is cognate with the German language widersinnig, i.e., "against" + "sense". The term "widdershins" was especially common in Lowland Scots, and was known in Scottish Gaelic as tuathal, which uses the same root as tuath meaning "north", the opposite of widdershins is deiseil/sunwise. In the southern hemisphere, the sun actually goes anti-clockwise, but in the northern hemisphere, it goes clockwise, which is where the term "sunwise" originates from. Because the sun played a highly important role in primitive religion, to go against it was considered very bad luck."

Now, I've already stated that I don't believe in luck. But I did laugh that my hockey socks were named for something that 1) could be considered bad luck and 2) has an link to pagan religion (if you read further).

The scrimmage went well. The boys lost (2 - 4) but played extremely well. They were plagued by pentalties, not having adapted to the new rules quite yet but managed to kill a couple 5 on 3 penalties. My DS played defense the whole game and got an assist and managed to draw one penalty on a breakaway, all without getting a penalty himself. He played extremely well and I'm one proud hockey mom tonight.

Did the socks have any impact on the game? Well, my feet were warm. Quite toasty, in fact, even though I was working the penaltybox and was on the cold side of the rink. Therefore, score one for the Flying Purple Widdershins!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Catching my breath and catching up.




Whew! What a whirlwind week! Finally, a quick breather and an update. While frantically running around, I did get a little knitting done in the small snippets of time afforded a frantic homeschooling hockey/dance mom.

I officially have two and 1/2 pairs out of four planned pairs of slippers completed, with thoughts of expanding the total number by who knows how many. This pattern is really working up so fast and it is easy, now that I have the format of the structure figured out. With Sunday School teachers, dance teachers and hockey coaches to get thank you gifts for, the idea of whipping out slippers is very appealing. Since I have a huge stash of 100% wool worsted weight yarn I picked up for my knitting machine on clearance at $10 a cone last year in a bunch of colors, there would be virtually no added expense for me to make these this year. Clickety, clickety, whirrrr goes the brain as I try to figure out how many gifts I could make . . . And talk about the stash reduction this would result in. My DH would be in 7th heaven if I could get rid of the pile of coned yarn in my craft closet.

The blankets are a pair for twins due any time now. They were made from some lovely hand-dyed mohair boucle and hand-painted sock yarn, mixed with some of that coned yarn in white in a simple chevron pattern. I reversed the color stripes between the two blankets, so they were slightly different. They are deliberately layered so you can see one chevron of each colorway. They're going in the wash today, so they can be blocked and ready to be wrapped. I figured if Mom peeks now, she'll be okay, since she knows she's getting blankets from me, since I'm lousy at keeping secrets.

The socks are the ones started for Socktoberfest that never got finished. I was so engrossed with mastering the 2 in 1 process that they were the only completed socks I could truly boast of starting and finishing October. But socks are a year-round thing for me, so they will go on.

Now, I've been meaning to do this MEME for sometime but just now got around to it. So here it is:

48 Things You Could Care Less About

1. FIRST NAME? Lorraine
2. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Not that I know of.
3. WHEN DID YOU LAST CRY? Yesterday – a young man sang at our Academy and I teared up.
4. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? When I pay attention, yes. When I’m rushed, no way!
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCHMEAT? Roast beef.
6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I really don’t know. I’m quirky and a bit weird.
7. DO YOU HAVE A JOURNAL? I have in the past but don’t currently.
8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? No.
9. WOULD YOU BUNGEE JUMP? I might, in the right context.
10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Coco Wheats (hot cereal)
11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE THEM OFF? No way. I’m always too rushed.
12. DO YOU THINK YOU ARE STRONG? Physically, no. Emotionally, yes.
13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM FLAVOR? Plain old chocolate.
14. SHOE SIZE? 8-1/2
15. RED OR PINK? Deep, dark red
16. WHAT IS THE LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOURSELF? I can’t put names to faces and I’m a very scattered conversationalist and easily distracted in crowds. Makes me socially awkward in public.
17. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My departed cat Joey.
18. DO YOU WANT EVERYONE TO SEND THIS BACK TO YOU? Go for it.
19. WHAT COLOR PANTS, SHIRT AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? I’m in an old black and red velour full-length gown that I recycled into a nightgown because I never attend formal events and the stretchy velour dress is a much more glamorous and sexy warm nightgown than anything else I’ve seen in the stores. No socks or shoes, just a red cardigan with pearl buttons over the nightgown to give it some class.
20. LAST THING YOU ATE? Tapioca pudding (I woke up with a migraine and tapioca soothes my upset tummy)
21. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? DD#3 blow up a beach ball.
22. IF YOU WERE A CRAYON, WHAT COLOR WOULD YOU BE? Red.
23. FAVORITE SMELL? Roses
24. WHO WAS THE LAST PERSON YOU TALKED TO ON THE PHONE? My DH.
25. THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE YOU ARE ATTRACTED TO? The face – probably because I can never put a name to them.
26. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON you stole THIS from? I just found fellow Minnesotan Cori’s blog, so I’m just getting to know her. But who can help liking someone with such a cute baby.
27. FAVORITE DRINK? Coffee with lots of cream and Splenda.
28. FAVORITE SPORT? Hockey – Go Wild and Gophers!
29. EYE COLOR? Brown
30. HAT SIZE? No clue.
31. DO YOU WEAR CONTACTS? Glasses only.
32. FAVORITE FOOD? Depends on what I’m craving. Right now, a good steak.
33. SCARY MOVIES OR HAPPY ENDINGS? I hate scary movies. Happy endings all the way.
35. SUMMER OR WINTER? Tough choice, but summer, I guess.
36. HUGS OR KISSES? Nothing beats a warm hug.
37. FAVORITE DESSERT? Kentucky Butter Cake
38. WHO IS MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? I have no idea.
39. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? ???
40. WHAT BOOKS ARE YOU READING? In the Minds Eye by Thomas G. West and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
41. WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE Pad? St. Thomas Alumni Association.
42. WHAT DID YOU WATCH LAST NIGHT ON TV? Gopher Hockey – They won!
43. FAVORITE SOUNDS? Worship music, guitar, piano.
44. ROLLING STONE OR BEATLES? Rolling Stones.
45. THE FURTHEST YOU'VE BEEN FROM HOME? California or Arizona - I don't know the mileage.
46. WHAT'S YOUR SPECIAL TALENT? I can read upside down and backwards. No, seriously, I used to sing a lot. I also used to design costumes, quilts and currently teach knitting and other art classes to homeschooled kids.
47. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Riverside, California.
48. WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? I stole it from Cori.

Now, I've done a little checking but I can't figure out where #34 went. Anyone else know?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Too much of a good thing?

I'm beat. It's been one of those days when I ask myself what I was thinking.

To begin with, someone forgot to notify my fluffy knitting companion about the time change. So she's waking me at 3:00 am now, instead of 4:00. No matter how hard I try to go back to sleep after her attempts nuzzle, lick and paw my face, I just can't seem to doze back off. So this tired mama, knowing she had more things on her agenda today than were humanly possible to achieve anyway, pulled her sorry self out of bed and started her day at 3:30 am.

First on the list, Awana preparations. After 5 years as secretary, this stuff is pretty routine, so I downloaded Lime & Violet's latest podcast and enjoyed a hearty chuckle or two at their "Till Bill" Spoof while doing my data entry and clerical magic. Hey, I finished early and even visited a few favorite blogs (something I've had far too little time for lately) before heading out for my weekly Bible Study at 6 am. So far, so good.

Home after study to help DS#1 finish her "oops, I procrastinated too long" homework for some co-op classes she takes on Wednesdays. A frantic rush to finish several things before sending her out the door to catch her ride and I was flustered and winded but, whew, back to a semi-regular schedule. But, what's this!?! DD#2 is nearly done with her math book! Did I order the next one? Blast! Got to go online and get it ordered. This company takes a few weeks to get things out and I'm not willing to pay through the nose for faster shipping.

Well, this is a problem. Unfortunately, DH is sick. Really sick. But being the obsessive compulsive, er, I mean diligent, hard-working kinda guy he is, he will still work from home. So I needed to approach my poor, suffering husband to ask him to vacate the desk for awhile so I can use the computer. Now, ordinarily, this wouldn't be too big a problem. After all, he does have his work lap top and he doesn't use the home computer for work, except to listen to talk radio. But, as some of you may have experienced in your own lives, husbands don't make good sick people. They get a little cranky. So I had to be the good nurse and check his throat and make some hot tea and get him some ice cream for his raging sore throat to kind of smooth the way before asking to use the computer. Worked like a charm but took up extra time I really didn't have today.

So, I go online to order the books. I am literally on the computer for under 3 minutes and get up to find my purse and my DH makes a move to take back the desk. "Excuse me, I'm just getting my purse. I'm not done yet." DH replies with a growl, "How long you going to be?" "I don't know. I still have to pay for it. And, oh, by the way, when you told me you were working from home today, I did remind you that I needed the computer today. A lot!!!! Please bear with me when I ask for it, okay?" "GRRRRR!" Time for more ice cream, I guess. Or a tranquilizer.

Well, back to school with the kids. Math for the little girls, Argument homework for DS. Now, one of the challenges of homeschooling is the fact that you have multiple students in different grades on different subjects at the same time at any given moment. "Mom, I need help! How do you spell 'anticipate'?" "Mom, do I plus or minus?" "Mom, is my '5' backwards?" (This from my left-handed DS#3 who mirror writes and needs to be reminded to move out of Da Vinci mode from time to time.) I feel like I need a split personality some days to deal with the very disparate questions that gets thrown at me. I have to switch from single digit subtraction to the reasons why a rating system for children's comics would be impractical in a free market to what the four major bones of the skull are in a split second. Oh my, is my mind beginning to reel now. Okay, maybe it's time for lunch. I think my blood sugar is low.

Of course, in the midst of the school day, the phone rings and it's people calling with questions about DD#3's b-day party on Friday and the sports shop finally getting back to me with answers about DS's hockey team sweatshirts and my girlfriend calling back with the answer to a question about spelling programs. Then the doorbell rings and the groceries I expected to be delivered at 9 am arrive at lunch time. Before I get the groceries half put away, everyone is trying to eat things. "NO! I'm going to make lunch. Stop! Put the chips back! Don't open that!" I am eyeing that bottle of wine on the counter. No, it's too early for that. Then the keys by the back door start beckoning me. "Come, run away with me." No, I'm a responsible adult. I can do this. Just make lunch.

After lunch, it's time for the little girls' read aloud. We're halfway through Little House on the Prairie. But something starts to go horribly wrong before the end of the 2nd chapter of the day. I can't seem to keep my eyes open. I am slurring words, nodding off and garbling things up horribly. My DS, who wandered in to listen for a few minutes is looking at me with a very quizzical look in his eye. He starts correcting my speech. This is bad, real bad. I definitely need a nap. So I send the girls off to play and send Chris back to his argument class homework with a few instructions on how to structure his rebuttal. I head upstairs to rest for a little while but my DH hollers, "The e-mail you were waiting for just arrived."

Blast again! I have to go finish the hockey sweatshirt forms now. If they'd come a little later, I would have been justified in letting them wait until tomorrow. But now I had to finish them for practice tonight. So down I trudge, to the computer, which my DH seems more than willing to give up this time. Hockey is the magic key to opening doors in the heart of my DH. So a 30 minutes and the hockey form is done. I head back upstairs. But the nap is not destined to be.

I get another call, one I have to take. So I sit and fold laundry and talk on the phone for 45 minutes. The good news is I folded all the clean laundry, something that wasn't really on my list. The bad news, no nap. It was now time to finish getting ready for Awana. A few more finishing chores, feed the kids, get DS to hockey for practice, pick up the girls for Awana and spend the evening ministering to the greatest bunch of kids in the world. Come home and look at my list of accomplishments and go, "Wow!" And then wonder, what was I thinking?

Unfortunately, tomorrow looks even worse, with prep for our Academy classes on Friday, as well as shopping for DD#3's b-day party on Friday. And orthodontic appointments, DD#1's Bible study and Hockey pictures and practice and a kickboxing class I'd really like to go to, if I'm insane enough to actually think that I can do that, too. What am I thinking?

As far as knitting - I cast on for a third pair of slippers (the second pair were made yesterday) and knitted exactly 2 rows while I was at Bible study. Not much progress but better than nothing. At least Socktoberfest is officially over. I don't know how many socks I finished. I haven't counted. I still have 6 on the needles, so they'll keep moving forward. Now there is a new Hockey KAL that livnletlrn just told me about. How I'd love to join that one but charity knitting is just not in the picture right now. Or else I'd be really asking myself - WHAT WAS I THINKING!

I need some sleep. Good night!!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Productive weekend

I don't have any photos yet but am happy with my weekend knitting progress. I wove in tails on a couple of baby blankets for a friend who is due with twins between Thanksgiving and Christmas sometime and managed to get a pair of slippers completed in a hurry. One took less than a DVD movie (Pride and Prejudice) and the other less than 2 periods of Wild Hockey. I'm also working on the gusset shaping of a pair of gift socks, so Christmas knitting is progressing apace.

It was a pretty good hockey weekend, too. The Wild won one and lost one, the Gophers swept Colorado College and my DS's first scrimmage ended in a 0-0 tie. My DS was moved from defense to center and managed to win 7 of 11 face offs and every shot he took was on goal. He had a great first game and playing center may work out well on this team. We'll have to see if he can start getting the shots around the goalies and find the back of the net now.

Well, off to dance, boxing and hockey. Round and round we go. More knitting time while I sit and wait. Woohoo - I'm a knittin' fool.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Long delayed stash acquisitions



As promised, here are the pictures of my latest stash enhancements. The purple and black Knit Picks yarn is for my DS's Christmas socks. I haven't decided whether to go wild and crazy and make patterned socks or go with 2 pair of solid socks. Fair Isle might be fun to try but I'm still mulling things over.

The ribbon yarn was picked up on clearance at 75% off. The green will make a shell and the pink/purple will make the cardigan. There wasn't quite enough yardage of the pink (one skein short - blast) for the pattern, so I purchased the purple as insurance. Another design option would be to make the sleeves 3/4 length, if necessary. Again, these are things to mull and let simmer before jumping in. This yarn may be used for DD#1 as Christmas gifts, depending on how the time issues work out. So many gifts to knit, so little time.

Sock knitting is progressing slowly, a round here, a round there. Life is hectic and crazy, so I'll take what I can get. We have two different hockey games to choose between tonight - Gophers vs. Colorado College and Wild vs. Anaheim Ducks. We'll probably watch the Gophers but we'll sneak peaks at the Wild during intermissions and commercials. Good knitting time tonight.

The good news is that I returned to my kickboxing class last night. It was the first class in nearly 2 months. It felt great to be back in class again after such a long layoff due to injury and illness. The bad news is that I've lost a lot of my conditioning and I'm really sore today. Whew, it's going to take some time to get back into fighting form again. But I'm just happy to be back again.

Again, no pithy comments but simple satisfaction with acquiring new yarn for the stash, pleasure at returning to good health and kickboxing and the joyful anticipation for some quality knitting time watching great hockey tonight.

Monday, October 23, 2006

2 in 1 - cut and print!




Done! They are not the prettiest socks in the world. For instance, I will never show an expert my version of the Kitchener stitch on these socks, but the socks are off my needles and on DD#1's feet.

Please forgive the poor pictures. I woke up with a migraine and although my meds stopped the headache, I ended up with an upset tummy and spent a good portion of the day trying to keep my stomach contents where they belong. Ergo, I missed daylight for photos.

Already on my needles is another pair of socks. This time, toe up and I'm trying a new lace pattern from Socks, Socks, Socks called Vine Lace. Another 4 row pattern that will be easy to memorize and will give a little texture to the Dancing yarn picked up on sale from Knit Picks earlier this summer. I'm also still working on the Fall Dancing Widdershins but they are such a fine knit that they are taking forever and I'm a little bored with them.

I did stop by Knit Wits in Chanhassen this past weekend and scored some 75% off sale yarn. I know I'm on a yarn fast but I was looking for a felted clog pattern and saw the sale bin and couldn't help myself. I am so weak. The sad part is that they didn't have the clog pattern I wanted. I'll hopefully get some pictures of the yarn (and the patterns I got for the yarn) to post tomorrow.

I also ordered the yarn for my DS's Christmas socks from Knit Picks, as well as some size 0 and size 1 36" circular needles. After all, if you're going to pay shipping, you might as well get your money's worth, right? (I am so weak!)

I want to send a big thank you out to livnletlrn. A present arrived in the mail last week, the pattern for this. She was done with it and passed it along to me. I was in love with it and raved on her blog. WOW! Such generosity! I can hardly wait until my birthday next month. I'm hoping to get enough money from my Daddy and DH to maybe get some really extraordinary yarn for it. Thank you so much!!!!

Well, I wish I had some humor or something wise to end this entry with. Unfortunately, the nausea kind of sucked all the fun stuff out of me today. In the meantime, I'm going to go work on the new socks and be thankful the 2 in 1 experiment is OVER! Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt and have given it away to Good Will!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

SAY IT AIN'T SO!

Oh, my WORD! Was I dreaming or what? Did it really happen? Did Jeffrey actually win Project Runway last night or what! There is definite chagrin in this household. My children are especially disappointed because they are still young enough to believe that good behavior should be rewarded and bad behavior should be punished. Jeffrey's foul mouth and less than gentlemanly behavior toward Angela's mother caused them to be repelled by him early on.

I myself was not drawn to his clothing early on but knew that the show was about design and not about personality. In fact, the popularity of the show was driven by the conflict and personality issues on the show, so the "Sturm and drang" was probably somewhat tailored (pun intended) by the designer selection process. However, given the last minute accusations of cheating, I doubted he'd even be allowed to show.

In all fairness, his clothing line was the best overall collection. I loved Laura's evening wear but it did lack the scope a full collection needs. Michael was a complete disappointment because he went trashy and too skimpy. Uli ran a close second but her line just didn't have the same WOW factor that Jeffrey's did. So, hats off to Jeffrey. Well done. But stop swearing so much - it's annoying. And apologize to Angela's mom.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Visible progress at last


The heels are finally turned. They are not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination but after three tries, I'm done trying for perfection. These socks are learning socks and it's okay that they're not perfect.

Problem one, I don't think the wraps on the purl stitches were consistently wrapped the right direction. On one side of the heel, I have a strong horizontal loop but not on the other. On the next pair of toe up socks, I'll try the short row heel and experiment with the wraps to see if I can get the two sides to be identical. With one sock inside the other and backwards, too, it was just too hard to compare sides and I gave up trying to wrap my brain around it.

Problem two, I somehow picked up an extra stitch at some point, so I have a weird YO in the heel of one sock. I don't have an extra stitch now but it is in the inside sock, so I have to turn everything inside out to get a good look at it, so I'll wait to analyze it later. I'll probably just sew up the gap with a little sewing thread. Since it's on the bottom of the foot, who cares anyway, right?

As for the technique, it's an interesting novelty but I'm not sure I'll make it a regular in my arsenal. I'd have to get much better at short row heels and I need to do that one sock at a time, first. I also am not a cuff down girl, never having gotten terribly comfortable with the Kitchener stitch. I love my toe up and if I could figure out how to do 2 in 1 toe up, I might give it a try. I'm also a lace sock lover, which I don't think could be done in this technique.

On the homefront, DS recovered from the flu. Unfortunately, his poor performance at the hockey try outs resulted in placement on the C team but I'm actually pleased with it. He does have a very tough school schedule this year and I think having a little less hockey pressure is a good thing. He can relax and have a little more fun on the C team, instead of having to push all the time to keep up with the higher level of players and competition on the B level team. He's one of the best skaters on the team, so he has the potential of being a leader on the ice, too, which could be a great learning experience in itself. He's a little bummed but he loves the game enough to keep playing, regardless. So onward and upward.

And on a fibery note, he was a little jealous that I gave the L&V socks to DD#1. He wants a pair of hand knit socks and liked the purple yarn. Not having any purple yarn in my stash, I guess I'll just have to go shopping for some purple yarn to make him some socks for Christmas. To quote a favorite pod caster - "Sqeeeee"!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

2 in 1 socks - Take 4, 5 and 6

Arrrrggghhh! Let's just say I should have tried short row heels on one sock at a time first. I'm on my third attempt now, having spent nearly all day at it. Enough said! Where's the wine!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

2 in 1 socks - Take 3

The socks hit a snag. I was blissfully knitting along this afternoon . . . well, not so blissfully, if you knew how my weekend was going.

It has been a bad day, a very, very bad day. DS#1 had been up most of the night with his version of the flu. No vomiting but lots of throat pain and congestion, with much wailing and weeping and gnashing of teeth because we are in the midst of hockey try outs and it is the WORST time to get sick if you are nearly 14 and trying to get to a higher level Bantam hockey team. So, after getting up, dosing DS with cold meds and watching him try to suffer through the last day of try-outs, DS takes a check and gets a head injury. Not a serious one, just enough to ring his bell and end his try out hopes this weekend. He wasn't doing well to begin with but to leave in the middle doesn't bode well for his team placement. So, we came home early, and crashed in front of the t.v. and tried to relax and just forget about our troubles.

So, out came the 2 in 1 socks. Things seemed to be going well but I stopped to do a quick check, as I frequently do, and - OH NO - I've crossed my threads! Not recently but several rows back. Now, when I'm normal and sane, I think nothing of tinking back a few rows. It's much easier than frogging. But I was frustrated. So, without thinking, analyzing or even taking a breath, I popped all the stitches off the needles and start frogging. ARRRRGGH! When I looked down at what I'd done, I realized I'd never get those stitches back onto the needles in the right order without dropping stitches and getting runs. This is a 1x1 ribbing, with the stitches flipping back and forth on two socks at the same time. It looked impossible to get back onto the needles as it was.

What's a girl to do? Well, I carefully set the socks aside, checked my son's pupils and fever, asked him if he wanted anything while I was in the kitchen, then dished myself up a monstrous dish of chocolate ice cream. I calmly, while slowly savoring every bite of that delicious ice cream, meditated on the sock dilemma. By the bottom of the bowl, I'd devised a plan.

First, I separated the socks. Then I pulled out smaller dpns and started picking up stitches. Using 2 needles, I carefully counted stitches, making sure each stitch was oriented the right way and that I had an equal number on each needle. I picked up and knitted or purled any dropped stitches and made sure everything was perfect on each sock before setting up for the recreation of the 2 in 1 set up.

Then I carefully started picking up stitches from each dpn onto my Addi turbos, being extra careful when I started the second needle of the Addi to make sure that the other side began with the correct stitch.

By the time I'd finished, it took me 2 hours to fix what should have taken me 1/2 hour to tink back. Moral of the story: "Think before you frog." Actually, that might sound better as "Think before you tink" but I didn't tink, so, oh well. Or maybe I should say, "Think, then tink." Or perhaps, "Frogging is only for singles." Or better yet, "Don't take your hockey mom frustrations out on innocent socks, especially when it's not their fault that you got your yarns crossed, you silly goose."

Friday, October 13, 2006

October Flurries


It's hard to capture snow flurries in a photo, especially when you're also trying to show a pretty maple at the same time but I had to attempt it. Yes, it's October in Minnesota and the schizophrenic nature of our weather is typical. It was in the 80's only a few days earlier and now we have snow showers. I'm just thankful we didn't get hit as hard as some areas farther north and east. I'm not ready to break out the shovel or snow blower quite yet.

The 2 in 1 socks are progressing apace. I have 4 inches done on the cuffs and am researching sock patterns for the short row heels now. Because the article at www.knitty.com is more a how-to than an actual pattern, it requires that you have a pattern in mind. However, I didn't read ahead enough to realize that she recommended a short row heel and not a heel-flap sock pattern. Being a heel flap kinda gal, this came as a bit of a shock. Moral of the story: read the full story before beginning the project. Not that I mind so much. This was a learning project, anyway.

What prevented me from reading the pattern in it's entirety was really something pretty silly. You see, in my efforts to save a few pennies (after all, I'm on a yarn fast because of severe budgetary restraints caused by the onset of annual autumn school expenses and putting DD#1 in braces this summer - big words make me feel better than saying "I'm broke") I printed half of the pattern on one side of the paper, then turned the sheets over and printed the rest on the back of the papers, not realizing that the order would be completely wonky and out of whack and hard to follow. Add a paper jam and reprinting a page or two out of order, and I had a real confusing mass of papers. So, being the less than persistent person that I am (a'la Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about it tomorrow!"), but too cheap to just reprint everything, I didn't finish reading the article, just the part about casting on and beginning to knit. Now that I've looked ahead, I find that my current pattern will not do and I have to regroup.

So, time to dig in my library. I'm sure I have some basic sock patterns somewhere with a short row heel that can be adapted to the number of stitches I've cast on. I just should have read first, then started the project. Wise words about hindsight being 20/20 sound about right here. I just hope none of my knitting students see this post since I'm always telling them to read the entire pattern at least one time and to make notes of any new skills or stitches that they might have to learn before they tackle the pattern. Oooohhh, bad teacher! You should practice what you preach!!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

2 in 1 socks - Take 2



Eureka! By George, I think she's got it! Instead of having my hunky husband run interference, my knitting companion opted to assist me by waking me at 4 am today by persistently licking my face and purring loudly and kneading my upper arms until bruises formed. Once slumber had been effectively and brutally ended for me, I decided to take advantage of the very quiet house and attempt the 2 in 1 socks again.

So, fortified by strong coffee instead of the fruit of the vine, I cast on again. This time, I returned to my trusty magic loop method and experimented with holding both threads around the left hand. By looping one thread an extra time around my finger, I can spread the two yarns out and pick the appropriate thread as needed, while keeping the front yarn in front of the working needle and the back yarn behind. Using a variegated yarn has aided the learning curve by keeping the two yarns distinctly different looking on the needles, so I don't get as confused about which yarn should come next.

The close up picture is not the greatest but it actually is supposed to show the two layers pulled apart. The other picture, in spite of looking like some bug-eyed alien creature, is the progress so far. It is a 1x1 ribbing about 3/4" long. Now I need to decide if I'm going to carry the ribbing all the way down the cuff or switch to stockinette or get fancy on this sock. Hmmmm?!?

By the way, who is George and why do we have the phrase, "By George, I think she's got it!"? DD#1 is in a Shakespeare class and she's learning a lot about the fact that hundreds of phrases and idioms have come from good old Billy Shakespeare, which as made me curious about lots of other phrases we use every day. Now I'm going to have to google "By George". But tomorrow will have to suffice. After all, I have been up since 4 am, thanks to my . . . well, you can supply your own idiom for my little knitting companion. Bless her hungry little heart.

Monday, October 09, 2006

2 in 1 socks - Take 1

Well, the first try at the 2 in 1 socks ended in a mess. I know I understand the concept, theoretically. However, things went horribly wrong in the real world. There were a number of factors that contributed to my humiliating failure. Not the least of which was the fact that I haven't used double points for socks for a long time. Add to the tangle of managing two balls of yarn and 10 pointy needle ends to the trials of trying to get back in the groove of holding yarn on both hands at the same time again and trying to remember which yarn moves to the front and which moves to the back and trying to get the ribbing figured out on two socks at once and being at a noisy dance studio with strange kids asking repeatedly, "Whatcha' doin'?" or less strange kids asking me to drop everything and read them another story - "Please Mommy!!!!" (Insert puppy dog eyes here).

I need a glass of wine, some quiet music and some strong, handsome man to keep all young people under the age of 14 at bay while I try again. Unfortunately, my DH is at hockey tryouts with my son. Doh! Guess it's back to my Autumn Widdershins for now. Where is that wine bottle?

Whew!

What a weekend! DD#1 was sick with the flu, fever, upper respiratory symptoms and all, with some vomiting thrown in for good measure. Of my kids, she's the one who gets the sickest. I know the high fevers are because she has a kick a** immune system that is whomping the invading viral infection but it makes for one miserable 12 yo. What made it especially hard is the flu came on the heels of her 12th birthday, which was such a bummer for both of us.

So we spent lots of couch time watching movies and listening to my favorite history tapes. I love Diana Waring's What in the World is Going On Here, so we spent hours Sunday just hanging out and listening together. I worked on the Leftover L&V Socks and DD#1 just drowsed or worked on a tabletop loom from Harrisville when the meds were in full force.

In one sense, it was hard because I watched my darling suffer through so much. In another, it was a blessing because I spent a lot of time just sitting with her and working on fiber arts.

We so seldom slow down around here. Because of the activities that our children are engaged in, we're always on the run. Next weekend, she'll be gone with her dance performance company on a weekend trip. I won't see her for 3 days. I'm sending her with a homeschooling mom that I love and trust, so I know she'll be safe. But, in a way, this illness coming the weekend before the trip may have been God's way of giving her and me some 1-on-1 time that gets neglected in our hectic, rushed lives. Just sitting and watching Sense and Sensibility together and listening to history tapes together may not seem exciting but I'm a little tired of all the excitement in our lives. Peace and quiet companionship are just fine with me. Now, if I could just remember to seek it out without one of us getting sick first.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Leftover Socks go Lime and Violet



Remember a few days ago when I said the wild weather made me go a little kooky and I cast on with some leftover purple yarn without having a pattern in mind? Well, here are the final results. When it became abundantly clear that the purple yarn was going to run out well before the gusset shaping, I dug in my stash and came up with a variegated lime yarn. Since I've given a little blog space to the Lime and Violet podcast lately, it stands to reason that they would influence my knitting, especially since their recent podcast seemed to include some subliminal messages. Now, since my knitting students are all in the 10 to 12 year old range and they might check in on my blog from time to time, I don't link directly to the Lime and Violet website from my blog (sorry, L & V) but I do listen and here are my kooky, L&V socks that prove it. Not the prettiest socks I've ever made but a great learning experience.

What I learned:

1) Stripes kind of get wonky when you hit the heel flap, especially if you haven't planned your stripes in advance. I had just started the stripes mid-foot, doing a graduated pattern to work the green yarn in gradually, so it wasn't a very abrupt changeover. I was flying by the seat of my pants, so I was designing as I went and paid the price.

There is no way to carry the purple stripes across the heel flap while working two socks with the magic loop method unless you break the yarn and tie it on where you want it. It would have messed with the graduated stripe pattern I had going on in the instep, so I just let the variegated yarn carry up the heel flap. It's not a beautiful solution but the socks will be worn inside boots for hockey, so no one will probably see the heel flap anyway.

2) I should use two row counters when doing stripe patterns and gusset increases. I missed an increase on one side of my gusset and didn't find it until about 6 rows later. Fortunately, I could drop a stitch and work the increase and stitch back up with a crochet hook but what a pain that was. I was trying to keep track of my rows of each color and the alternating increase rows of the gusset and the fact that I had one sock on the magic loop "backwards" so that the jog in the side where the stripes don't line up would be on the inside of both socks. It was too much for me to keep track of, especially late at night, when I was trying to finish up with the gusset increases before bedtime. I need to be better about notes or setting up row counters, instead of trusting that I'll remember where I am.

3) I learned how to do a picot hemmed top. It's not perfect. It's too big and rolls, so I may run some elastic in it to tighten it up a little but I was pleased to learn a new technique and it ended up looking very pretty. The angle of the photo doesn't do it justice. On my next socks, it will be better.

I'm being kicked off the computer. DH needs to study for his big exam this week. More later!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Wild Socks



It's official. The hockey season has started and it was time to break out the official Wild Socks. These socks were the first socks I ever made. I actually completed them during a Wild playoff game during the 2002/2003 season. The team was behind and when I put the completed socks on to admire them, the Wild managed to pull out an upset win and advance to the next level of the playoffs.

My son promptly dubbed these socks the Wild Socks and proclaimed them lucky and made me wear them for every subsequent Wild Game for the rest of the season. He even tried to keep me from washing them between games - eeeuuww! These socks have seen us through several season since and are ragged and have been darned repeatedly. I'm out of the leftover yarn and as we speak, there is a large hole in the heel of one of them.

Last night, the Wild played (and won) and tonight, when the Minnesota Gophers fell behind in the first period, 0 to 2, my DS asked if I was wearing the Wild Socks or not. So, I dug them out, holes and all and put them on. By the end of the first period, the Gophers had scored a goal and were closing the gap.

Now, I don't believe in luck and I don't really support my son's belief in lucky socks or anything else. I'm a firm believer that hard work and team work are what drive wins and losses. Sometimes immorality plays a part, if there are bad refs or bad coaches or bad players, and I think God plays a part when there are honest, good players and He chooses to reward those who go above and beyond in being upright and honorable in their play. But I don't believe in luck.

That being said, I do love my Wild Socks and they do bring back great memories of a fantastic Wild hockey season and the wonderful time my son and husband and I had watching that magical season unfold. So when I put on my Wild Socks tonight, it wasn't to bring the Gophers luck but to celebrate great family memories and to remind my DS and DH that I'm just as passionate about hockey as they are. After all, I'm the one wearing the old, holey, smelly, "lucky" socks. Go Golden Gophers!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

A Very, Very Small Milestone

I have just passed 100 visitors at my humble blog. I am pleased to have reached that little milestone, although I know that the same people are probably visiting multiple times. I just want to say thanks to all my friends and faithful commentors. I love you guys.

But there is another blog out there that just eclipses anything I could ever hope to achieve here. Granted, I have no high aspirations but WOW. This blog is the Sun to my space dust. The comments to her recent post stand at 1087 so far today. Of course, she had some really great news - an "I do coup", so to speak. So she deserves every comment and all the best wishes in the world. How she managed to pull off the surprise is beyond me but kudos to her for the outstanding blog post. It was the ideal mix of photos with titles, comments and play on words. Wow, all I can do is bow to the master and cry, "I'm not worthy!"

Now for the knitting news, because I was so disgusted with the slow progress on the Fall Widdershin Socks, I did cast on another pair of socks with size 2 Addi's and the leftover purple yarn from the Flying Purple Widdershins. I figured I'd use the purple on the feet and then maybe use some other leftovers for the cuffs, if I didn't have quite enough to make anklets or something. I was just bored enough to get wild and crazy and trust to my ingenuity if I ran out of yarn. I'm nearly done with the toes and figured if I change my mind, I could even start striping the socks with leftovers. Who knows, I'm just in a kooky mood. It was a wild weather evening (lots of lightening and wind but no rain - spooky) last night and I got all wonky and weird.

I also dug in my stash and found some Lana Grossa sock yarn in a pretty blue/green/yellow color combo and wound it into two equal balls yesterday. I printed out the 2-socks-in-1 instruction from www.knitty.com and I'll be ready for my Socktoberfest challenge socks. The bad news is that the instructions are for cuff down socks and I am a toe up kinda gal, so I'm going to have to suck it up and kitchener this pair (I HATE the kitchener stitch). But it'll be worth it to learn a new technique, right? All in the spirit of Socktoberfest. Huzzah!