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 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 . . .