Monday, December 06, 2010

Christmas Gifts Part 1

Still a busy little beaver around here. I managed to finish my Starter training for USA Swimming this past weekend so I am now officially a Starter. Thank you very much.

Thankfully, our homeschool academy wrapped up it's Fall Semester and we have one less activity on the calendar for the time being. I taught Beginning Knitting and it was a blast. This group of young girls was an exciting group.

Finally, still frantically knitting away on Christmas gifts. Alas, the FO I have to show today has been long anticipated and will NOT be a surprise on Christmas morning. But Airman is very happy with it. In fact, he is sleeping under it nightly.
Nothing like having a knitted gift be thoroughly appreciated by the recipient. One down, 6 or more to go. Yikes!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meet Airman 1st Class Hockeyman

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It has been an eventful start of the school year. Obviously, the big gap between posts should have clued you in that things have been a little busier than usual. One of the biggies is that Hockeyman is now a senior in high school. College visits, PSEO classes, hockey practices and a burgeoning popularity of his rock & roll band have all had me running around more than ever.

However, the biggest news is his enlistment in the Air Force Reserves. He officially became an Airman 1st Class this morning. He will leave for basic training right after graduation in the spring and, if all goes according to plan, will be a loadmaster within the following year.

In other news, I am furiously trying to finish knitting up Christmas gifts. I am still working on TUSKAUFOFE as well.

Oh, and by the end of the weekend, I hope to be certified as a Starter by USA Swimming.

See, I told you I have been busy.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Gah! Record-breaking gap in posts!

I knew it had been awhile since I posted but I had no idea it was almost 6 weeks. I am so ashamed! What a loser blogger I am!

Okay, I'm not that upset. Life just has a way of getting in the way of the fun stuff. After all, even Super Mom can't juggle absolutely EVERYTHING.

I have been crafting. Not as much as I'd like. Not nearly enough. But in the dribs and drabs of time that the kids' crazy schedule will allow. And I've been learning some new skills as well - like canning. All the fresh produce at the farmers' markets around here has inspired me to try and capture some of it for winter. Anyway, here is a synopsis of what's I've been working on.

Finished Objects: Diagonal Lace Socks (#6 in TUSKAUFOFE), canned 5 pints of strawberry jam and 5 pints of Zesty Salsa and 4 trays of peach puree ice cubes (great for the morning protein shakes) and 5 pints of frozen peach puree.

Almost Finished Objects: Drop Stitch Pleated Tank (about 10 more rows and this baby is off the needles) and Easy Drop Stitch Scarf (the latest UFO to be resurrected for TSKAUFOFE).

Newly Started Object: Shetland Pi Shawl for KAL on Wendy Knits. I've been a follower of Wendy Knits for years and when this little KAL popped up, it was just the thing to get my knitting mojo back on track.

I also warped my little mini loom to make some coasters for the family room. More on the weaving progress later.
Well, it's pretty hard to sum up 6 weeks of insanity in just a few paragraphs. But I need to go get Peeps from dance studio now and you all will just have to stay tuned for more details.
(Whooosh - Super Mom wisks away for another dramatic rescue of a Damsel in Distress {i.e. Peeps, who is STARVING after 2 hours of dance class}.)

Monday, July 05, 2010

So long, for now.

Heading out on vacation, so I'll be out of communication for awhile. However, couldn't resist updating a few things.

First, Arwen for Peeps is done. She asked for a belt to tie the sweater (not shown), so no button shopping for me.

However, after seeing all the nicely wound balls of singles on Turkish spindles on Ravelry's Tour de Fleece, I've decided I just have to get me one of those things.

In the meantime, I'm still spindling away on some purple sliver I've had in my stash for several years. I know I got it from Detta's Spindle but I have lost the little label that came with it, so I have no clue what breed of sheep it came from. But it's spinning up beautifully, once I got past the dropping stage of drop spindling.

Well, I'm off to finish packing. Have a great week, all!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Tour de Fleece Day 1

Well, the race has started and I've managed to get in 1.5 hours of spinning on a spindle today. Since I'm going camping next week, figured I might as well spend the first full week getting reacquainted with the ol' spindle. Since I got my spinning wheel several years ago, I haven't even seen the spindles, much less used them. But there just won't be room for the spinning wheel in the van when we leave to camp, so spindling will be my camping activity.

Other goals during the Tour de Fleece:

  • Bust Stash! Going to use as much of my stash as I possibly can during the Tour de France.

  • Learn to spin silk! I have several sets of silk hankies that I've been too scared to touch. But during the mountain stages of the Tour de France, I'm going to challenge myself to learn to spin silk.

  • Attempt at least 3 different novelty yarn techniques I learned over a year ago at Shepherd's Harvest. I haven't decided which ones, yet, but I will as soon as I get back from vacation.

  • Finish washing and carding the Coopworth fleece I've been working on. Of course, since this work will have to come after the spinning, it may or may not get done. But nothing ventured, nothing gained.

In other news, I managed to get a 26 mile bike ride in this morning. My Hubby and I have a favorite trail we like to do on Saturday mornings. It starts in St. Bonifacius and runs all the way to Wayzata. Since Hubby has a rode bike, that is much lighter and faster than my trail bike, he takes off at his own pace and proceeds past the end of the trail as far as he feels like going, then comes back. So he squeezed in a 40 mile ride this morning. So we both get a good workout but I don't hold him back and he doesn't push me to go faster than I want to go. Win/win, wouldn't you say?

On the knitting front, I'm nearly done with Arwen for Peeps. After trying it on her, I decided to add a couple more inches of length to the sleeves. She's apparently grown some since I started the sweater. Fortunately, the body is more than wide enough and plenty long enough. I've knitted the cabled cuffs for the sleeves, so once the sleeves are long enough, I'll sew the cuffs on and call it done.

Except for the closures. I haven't decided yet how to do the closures. It will probably require a trip to the yarn shop to look for buttons. After all, buttons are not yarn, right? So a yarn diet wouldn't preclude the purchase of buttons, right? And the fact that there is a new yarn shop within 20 minutes of the campground I'll be at next week means I just have to stop in and check it out, right?

(Hint - This would be the perfect time for all those enablers out there to lead me on!)

Friday, June 25, 2010

New Season - New Look

I spent some time re-designing my blog today. It is the first day I've actually been home for more than half an hour at a time, so I decided to take advantage of it. Hope the new design is as bright and happy for you as it is for me.

I started a new project this week, called the Drop St Pleated Tank. I figured that summer is the time to make and wear some summer tops. So TUSKAUFOFE notwithstanding, I decided to spend a little extra time revamping my wardrobe as well.

I'm using Ella Rae Silkience, which is a 41% cotton, 39% Modal, 12% silk and 8% rayon yarn. It has a silky hand and significant weight, so it should drape beautifully. The pattern is from the Early Fall 2010 Vogue Knitting magazine I just picked up. It was the back detail that really sold me on the pattern. I love little design surprises like this.

As usual, I'm a little nervous about the amount curl the bottom hem is exhibiting. However, I have a couple of redesign ideas to take care of that if strenuous blocking doesn't cure the curl. (Mwahaha - evil knitting genius laugh). I have also revised the pattern slightly by using a twisted knit stitch on the upper ribbing. This yarn has no memory, so I figured it would fit a little snugger and keep it's shape better if the ribbing included a little extra twist.

In other news, I'm just in one heck of a joining mood this summer. Not only am I in training for the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry (a group of teams who are spinning their way through the Tour de France in July), I also joined the Knitgirllls group and am participating in the 50 Skein Stash Down. The goal is to use up 50 skeins of yarn over the 3 months of summer. I joined a little late but am hoping to catch up with the group in a short hurry. The Ella Rae yarn has only 119 yards a skein and I'm using up a skein a day right now.

Well, I'm rather alone this morning, having 2 of my kids off at a camp, Hockeyman at hockey and Eldest Sister up in her room communing with all her friends via Facebook, so I'm going to head back out onto the deck to enjoy knitting, listening to a book on CD (Magyk by Angie Sage), and the temporary, blessed solitude I so seldom get to enjoy.

Ahhhhh! Bliss!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Still Drifting About

Life still seems very disjointed. First of all, with summer comes a total change in schedule. Kids have camps, lessons and fun activities galore, which keeps me hopping from place to place. So far this morning, I've dropped Peeps at drama camp, picked up Eldest Sister's best friend and dropped them both off at community center to exercise, driven Bubba to and from piano lessons, taken Hockeyman to and from hockey camp, as well as gone to the pool to do my own work out. All that before 1 pm. I still have to pick Peeps up from drama camp, take Bubba to swim team practice and hopefully make it to my knitting group this evening. Gah! And I thought summer would be more relaxing.

Anyway, knitting is still happening in the little snatches of time spent waiting for various and sundry kidlets. I managed to start and finish one of those spur-of-the-moment projects last week.

Meet Annis from After visiting The Yarn Garage and seeing a lovely shawlette, I was suffering from "Didn't Buy The Pattern, What Was I Thinking" remorse. So I did a little searching on Ravelry and came up with this pattern to knit instead. I used some Tofutsies sock yarn I had in my stash and whipped up this little baby in 5 days.

What is even better than an instant gratification project like this is the fact that I conquered my fear and/or aversion to nupps on this little beauty. I simply pulled each stitch of the nupp a little longer to make them slightly looser. This made purling all the stitches together on the following row much easier. SWEEEET!

Also, I am making gradual progress on carding the Coopworth wool. Granted, I have a long way to go, but every rolag I make is one rolag closer to finishing up the carding and getting to the spinning. Whilst I'd love to finish washing the entire fleece and have it all carded before the Tour de Fleece, that is beginning to look like a long shot at this point. But it is still moving forward, which is for the best. (I have a very pretty picture of the basket of fluffy rolags but Blogger is giving me a some difficulty posting pictures. So you'll just have to wait for that little photo.)
Also on the needles is the 6th installment of TUSKAUFOFE - The Diagonal Lace Socks. Still not totally burned out on socks yet but looking forward to some of the more complicated patterns. I'm in the mood for something more challenging.
On the UFO front, I'm trying to finish up Arwen for Peeps - still. It's just one of those "yawn" projects that I have a hard time getting the gumption up to work on it. Again, I'm itching to tackle something really intense.
Well, off to pick up Peeps at drama camp. Then I'll actually have a couple hours at home to do laundry and chores before the evening running begins.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rollin' along

Lots of little steps forward on multiple projects. Sometimes I feel a bit schizophrenic because I am working on so many disparate projects at the same time but it just seems to be part of my personality. It drives my loved ones crazy sometimes but I do eventually get things done.

Finished Objects:

The Go Green Sock Knitting Tote is finally finished. I had all the components done but it required a little hand sewing to finish, which I managed to put off until today. I'm nothing if not a champion procrastinator. But 'tis finished at last.

The Lacy Rib Socks are off the needles as well. These took a little longer than they should have, only because I've been working on so many other things at the same time. However, they were still finished in under 20 days. Again, the yarn pooled in a very annoying fashion at the gusset/ankle area. This tendency in hand-painted yarns ticks me off sometimes but they are still very soft and comfortable. They should be just fine under jeans or inside boots.

In Progress:

My big gardening project is actually a furniture refinishing project. I've been stripping and sanding our patio dining set. Once I started the project, I found that all four chairs were very wobbly and some of the joints were damaged. So what started as a simple refinishing process ended up being a reconstruction project. All four chairs had to be disassembled and rebuilt with new dowel joints and stronger glue. Hubby did most of the reconstruction (I'm better at destruction) and I finished painting all the furniture with primer and a base coat.

I'm trying to decide if I'm going to go for a crackle finish/distressed finish or just polyurethane the paint finish and leave it bright and light. The advantage of a distressed finish is that this furniture sits outside all year around and is likely to get distressed all by itself. If it starts out that way, the subsequent wear and tear will look intentional. But I have to admit, I like the buttery yellow color I concocted from two cans of leftover paint. I may just do a little stenciling, age it with a little tinted wax and let it weather from there.
Finally, I am still carding the Coopworth fleece, little by little. I took it with me to our homeschool beach day last week, and to our little knitting group at Dunn Brothers Coffee on Monday night, and it is always a conversation starter. Everyone who is new to this process is just fascinated by the carding process. I get lots of questions and even more requests to touch the finished rolags. I have a long way to go to finish all the wool but I feel good about the steady progress I am making.
Well, that's it for now.
Going to go work on the TUSKAUFOFE #6 intallment - Diagonal Lace Socks.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Washing o' the fleece

Since this is my first fleece washing experience, I had lots of mistakes to make and things to learn. This post is not an all-inclusive how-to about how to wash a fleece. It is a post about my misadventures one hot, steamy day in May.

The yellowish blob of fiber tucked in the blue sheet was the Coopworth fleece in such dire need of a bath. So early one morning, I girded my loins, rolled up my sleeves and dove right in. With my handy dandy Spinning Bible in hand, I heated the water, added the soap and plunked a lingerie bag full of fleece in the water. It was sent through two baths with soap and 3 or 4 rinses (I can't remember how many now), all according to the proper procedures and instructions in the Spinning Bible.

Mistake number one: Must open up the fleece and fluff it up or it won't all come clean. This first bag of fleece was washed and rinsed completely, then taken out to the deck to dry when I discovered all kinds of VM and dirty tips hiding out inside. So a good half hour was spent fluffing it up and picking out the debris before sending it back to the tub for a whole new cycle of washing and rinsing.

Since subsequent rinse water is not as dirty, I was sending bags of fleece through in a train. Basically you just add soap to mostly clean rinse water and start the next batch through before draining the tub, refilling and rinsing the first batch. With organization, you can train quite a few bags of fleece at a time, draining and refilling only as needed. This conserves water and energy because each tub of water is used multiple times.

Mistake number two: Don't try to wash too much fleece at once. Bag #2 was bigger than the first and it didn't get clean the first time through, either. So it had to be divided into smaller bags and be sent through the process again. So much for saving energy and water because two batches were now having to go through double washings.

I eventually had a good system down to get everything through the washing and rinsing cycles. I'd learned my lesson on the first two bags of fleece and was making steady progress.

Mistake number three: Don't over agitate the fiber, trying to get it clean. After having to rewash the first two bags of fleece, I got a little more aggressive with my swishing and the last few bags came out slightly felted. Not so much that it is not usable but enough to make fluffing it for the drying rack more difficult. So much for saving time by getting it clean the first time.

In spite of it all, I was pleased with my progress. Approximately half of the fleece made it through the first day and now that I know a little more, the second half shouldn't take quite as long, nor as much water and energy. I guess you could say it was well worth the effort in the end.
And isn't it so pretty and white now?

Now to get it carded up before July 3. Yikes! Guess there will be a few mistakes lessons in that little process, too.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


I'm just having so much fun here. So many fibery things going on so I'm going to play the random paragraph-ish/bullet post thing (with pics).

*TUSKAUFOFE #4/Dead Simple Lace Socks are now done. These are going to be gifted to a dear friend who is battling ovarian cancer and is starting an intensive round of chemo on June 1st. I figured some lovely socks would be just the think to keep her tootsies warm while laying around in a hospital bed.

*TUSKAUFOFE #5 is on the needles and going strong. Another super simple lace pattern, already memorized, so I don't need to refer to the book. However, I am mulling over the idea of re-printing the basic heel shaping instructions onto 3x5 cards and laminating them. The only time I have to refer to the book at this point is to memorize the chart and to turn the heels. Since I don't like carrying around books all the time (I already lost one copy of this book and had to buy a second), it would be a sweet and simple solution. Still mulling though. Haven't followed through. Too much other stuff going on.

*The Go Green Recycling Project has become my UFO project of late. I started cutting up old sheets a long time ago, with the thought of using it as yarn and making rugs. Well, I loved the Beach Bag I finished so much that I've started a Go Green Sock Tote. I'm nearly half way done now (further than the picture shows) and loving it, loving it, loving it. I have a huge pile of sheets to recycle and am on the hunt for more pattern ideas to use even more of this recycled yarn.

*I even have a few ideas about how to spin these strips into some fun and funkier yarn. Stay tuned for more later.

*I have also signed up for my first Tour de Fleece competition on From July 3 through July 25, you spin every day (except for 2 designated rest days). I have pulled out my full stash and started making plans so I'm ready to go on July 3. First step is to scour and card the fleece I bought at Shepherd's Harvest last year. Then I need to finish plying some bobbins of singles I have on hand so I can free up all my extra bobbins before July 3.

*I've joined 4 teams so far: Rookies, Stashbusters, Knitgirllls and Knitter's Palette. It's a lot of spinning to do but July will be the perfect time to do it all. I am so excited, I can hardly stand it.

*Besides all this fibery activity, I'm working on a plethora of other creative projects. I'm currently sanding and painting some old cedar deck furniture, planning on building a headboard for our bed with Hubby and preparing to create yet another huge flower garden bed in my back yard. And I'm trying to train for a Sprint Triathlon in my spare time.

*On a sad note, The Girl Formerly Known as Dancing Diva Who Has Yet to Find a New Passion So Will be Called Big Sister For Now participated in her last dance recital as a backstage helper last weekend. It was a highly emotional time as she said goodbye to her life as a dancer. She is still wrestling with the ramifications of the arthritis diagnosis and struggling to find a new passion into which to pour her very considerable talent and energy. Whilst I would love for her to share my passion for fiber arts, she is very different from me in temperment and personality. I am encouraging her to pursue acting and singing and music in some form or another, she has yet to latch onto anything yet. A few prayers sent in her general direction would be greatly appreciated, so she can move through this dark time into a new life path.

Am I a bit insane? Probably but I've decided that after the crazy year we've had that as a family, we are going to go for the joy this summer. Do what is necessary but find the time to go above and beyond the mundane and have a fabulous summer.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Shepherd's Harvest Swag

Woot! Had a great time at Shepherd's Harvest again this year. I didn't take any classes this time and spent most of my time volunteering at the information booth in Building B and manning the table.

I did manage to pick up a few things, though. The red yarn was on sale for $10 a hank. I got enough yarn for a short sleeved top for $40 dollars. Silver Creek Cabin was the booth where I scored that little bargain.

The buttons are hand-made buttons by Jennie the Potter, as is the yarn bowl. I've been eyeing the yarn bowl for several years. It has a curved channel carved in the side to thread the yarn through. She was featured in last summer, if you want to see more of her work.

The bag of fleece was purchased from Dakota Carding & Wool. It is called Opalescence and the color is Caribbean Blue. It has just a touch of glittery angel hair carded into it, so it has a very subtle sparkle. I can't wait to free up a few bobbins and spin this lovely stuff up.

The braid of wool was a gift from River's Edge Weaving Studio. I volunteered to organize a Ravelry Bingo/Vendor Crawl for members who were attending Shepherd's Harvest. The lovely ladies from River's Edge not only generously provided gift certificates for the prize basket but also gave me a personal gift of Hand Dyed 100% Bluefaced Leicester wool. What a sweet thing to do!
The line up of little finger puppets was picked up at a vendor in the back corner of Building D, next to the Yarn Garage booth. I forgot to pick up a card but I knew the little girls would be thrilled with these little guys. Bubba is especially fond of putting on shows and often makes her own puppets.

The black headband was a gift for Elder Sister (formerly known as Dancing Diva), since her new passion is snowboarding. It is an alpaca headband from Alpaca Treasures. They show a website on the Shepherd's Harvest Vendor list but I can't get it to work right now.

The Sea Turtle was purchased from Saori Free Style Weaving Studio, mostly because the packaging was entirely in Japanese. Hockeyman has been trying to learn Japanese on his own and I knew he'd get a kick out of trying to translate the packaging. Again, the Shepherd's Harvest Vendor list shows a website but it doesn't seem to be up and running at the moment.

I also managed to finish my Go Green Tote bag just before leaving. It was very helpful as a shopping bag at Shepherd's Harvest. I inherited a bunch of double bed sheets from my mother in law. Since all our beds are singles or queen, I decided to recycle them into "yarn". I cut 1.5 inch strips on the bias and then crocheted them into this extra sturdy tote. It will be perfect for beach days because it is porous enough to let sand filter out of it and yet large enough for numerous beach towels.
Well, it is time to get back to the normal routine of life - sort of. We have our home swim meet this weekend, so I'll be working hard at that from Friday through Sunday. Then next weekend is Peeps dance recital weekend. THEN, only then, will things slow down a bit.
Then again, there is a new garden bed just begging to be laid out and dug up. And all the wonderful fleece to spin. And of course TUSKAUFOFE which is in full swing.
Guess "slow down" is a relative term, eh?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Shepherd's Harvest is coming!

I am giddily preparing for Shepherd's Harvest this weekend. I will be leaving on Friday and spending the weekend camping and wandering through all kinds of fibery wonderfulness.

I am also in charge of the Ravelry Bingo/Vendor Crawl for our Shepherd's Harvest Ravelry group. If you are a member and haven't checked out the group, click on the Ravelry link and check it out. We have a nice basket of goodies that will be given out to some lucky participant in the game.

In the meantime, have a very happy Mother's Day!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Spring, Glorious Spring!

Sorry about the long absences from blogging. It has been such a glorious spring here in Minnesota that I've been spending all my free time working on the gardens.
One of the new, exciting things I found is a special service Holasek Greenhouses offer every spring. They sponsor open houses in March, when you bring your pots in, get to fill them with free dirt and then purchase beautiful hot-house grown annuals and perennials to plant in the pots. Then you register the pots with Holasek and leave them in the greenhouse until you are ready to put them out in May.
I took full advantage of this service this year, planting over 20 pots with plants. I ended up picking up my pots a little early. We have had such a mild and warm spring that I risked putting the pots out a little early. So far, so good, although I do have old sheets ready in case I need to cover items to protect from frost.

I've also been freshening up the garden beds, weeding, dividing perennials, replanting the divisions, setting out annuals and generally working myself sore and silly. But I love it. The garden beds look so fabulous this year.

I have been getting socks done. Because I still have all the usual running and waiting for kids, I still seem to be making tons of progress on TUSKAUFOFE.

The second of the plain, vanilla socks was finished several weeks ago. These are for my hubby, hence the wonky toes. My sock blockers are too small for his socks but they looked way too wimply without something stretching them out. These socks used the gusseted heel, which I absolutely love. They tend to hug the heel better than the slip stitch heel I've always used and are much smoother. Total winner in my book.

I also finished the third plain, vanilla socks, using Lorna's Laces sock yarn I purchased at Shepherd's Harvest several years ago. I love the yarn - EXCEPT where it pooled around the heels. This yarn would have worked much better with a contrast short-row heel or with an after-thought heel. I also ran out of yarn before the cuffs were as long as I wished. Had I known they'd be this short, I might have substituted an hemmed cuff instead of ribbing.
Finally, I am nearly finished with the Dead Simple Lace Socks. I finally broke down and bought a pair of Addi Turbo needles in size 0, so I didn't have to refigure all the heel shaping instructions. I did substitute the gusseted heel for the short row heel in the pattern because I do like it so.

Well, I need to go get the oil changed on my car and start running kids everywhere again. The only advantage to all this end-of-year running is the extra enforced sock knitting time.
Then maybe you'll find me back in the garden tonight for a little more weeding and planting.
Ahhhhh, I love spring!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Sometimes I wonder whether becoming attached to our electronic "conveniences" is really beneficial. They are so wonderful and convenient . . . until they break down.

Case in point, computers.

Our home computer was infected by the most malicious and nefarious of viruses. Hubby spent days and days trying to track it down, kill it and immunize our computer against further infections. In the meantime, e-mail was not functional; internet was not available and even my online calendar was beyond reach. After a valiant battle, my beloved Hubby declared the old computer DOA and went shopping for a new one.

So, here we are, a week later, with a brand new computer, but without all my favorite blogs bookmarked. I had such a long and lovely list of favorite friends whom I would visit via blogdom and now I have to go out and recreate my favorites list.

If you haven't heard from me in awhile, feel free to pop in and comment. Then I can click my way back to your blog and re-enter it on my favorites list.

While I wait for long lost friends to check in, here is an update on the progress on TUSKAUFOFE. All three basic socks are finished and Dead Simple Lace Socks are on the needles. My plans to work on UFO's has not come to fruition, mostly because the weather here has been so beautiful that I've been out in the perennial garden, freshening and primping it for its annual spring bloom extravaganza. When I come back in, I'm just too tired to do more than knit a few rounds on a sock. Forget about figuring out where I left off on the pattern and finding energy to tackle a long dormant project. So, sock knitting is what is going to happen until the garden is all weeded and ready for showing off.

Then maybe I'll even find the energy to photograph all three pairs of the finished socks.

Now, I am going to take a couple pain relievers, put some cold compresses on my brand spankin' new sunburn and knit a few rounds on the socks du jour.


Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Ups & Downs

Life has been a roller coaster this past two weeks.

The Good: We spent a wonderful 4 days in Chicago during spring break. We visited some of the best museums I've ever seen. The Museum of Science and Industry was spectacular, with the highlight being the tour of U-505. It was amazing to see a piece of WWII history up close and personal like that.

The best part of the trip was the fact that I found the Chicago City Pass. Not only did it allow us to see the sights we wanted to for a discount but it also gave us special privileges. On Good Friday, we went to the Shedd Aquarium. When we arrived, the line to purchase tickets extended for 2 blocks or more. However, because we had the City Pass, we were able to go to another line that allowed us to get into the aquarium within 10 minutes. And the wait at the Sky Deck (Sears Tower) was 1.5 hours for those purchasing their tickets there. We were able to pass to the front of the line - another 10 minutes wait for us. In time alone, we estimate we saved more than 3 hours. I'd definitely recommend looking into the City Pass if you plan on visiting any major city in the U.S.

The weather was superb and we all had a wonderful time.

The Bad: Just prior to leaving for Chicago, my upright freezer died. Not only did I have to throw away a significant amount of food that had gotten ruined, but I was frantically cooking up stuff that only partially thawed and was trying to squeeze still frozen stuff into the small freezer in our kitchen. The freezer had leaked stinky stuff all over the floor in the basement and I had to clean the floor and the inside of the fridge to prevent a nasty, stinky smell when we got home. Bah!

Also just prior to vacation, we found out that Dancing Diva probably has a form of juvenile arthritis called spondyloarthropathy. She had been battling fatigue and joint pain for several months. After exhaustive testing at our general practitioner's office for everything from Mono to Lyme's Disease, we were referred to a rheumatologist, who performed even more tests. Although he was unable to give her a definitive diagnosis yet, she did test positive for the HLA-B27 genetic marker. Since this is a particularly difficult disease to diagnose, we will be watching for additional symptoms and going back to the rheumatologist on a regular basis to follow-up. As a result, DD has had to withdraw from all her dance classes because it had become too painful to continue and the wear and tear on her joints was more than she could afford to risk. I now need to come up with a new moniker for The Girl Formerly Known as Dancing Diva.

The Ugly: TGFKADD returned to school on Monday to the news that one of her classmates had committed suicide over the weekend. It was yet another case of a young person who was not accepted by his peers and teased about his unconventional attitudes and appearance, who found his lot in life to be unbearable. This young man was a friend of a friend and, although TGFKADD never was unkind to him herself, she was shocked and devastated to find out how deeply the teasing affected this acquaintance.

For my part, I am deeply sorry for the family and friends of this young man and am praying earnestly for them to find comfort in Jesus. And for the entire High School, that this experience may serve to teach everyone how to be more accepting and tolerant of our individual diversity. To have them learn that everyone - EVERYONE - has value in the eyes of God and that teasing, bullying and unkindness has no place in this community.

May God forgive all of us for our callousness and unfeeling behavior toward those who are "different"!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And She's Off!

Well, it is official - I'm off to the races with TUSKAUFOFE. The Short-row Toe and Heel Basic Sock is finished and Gusset Heel Basic Sock is on the needles.

I have to admit that I am not a huge fan of the short-row heel. I have a high instep, so these socks tend to slip down under my heel. I had decided early on to make these socks into anklets, since the Patons Stretch Socks yarn is cotton blend and suitable for summer socks. This choice means that I may be pulling these socks up in back all the time. I am also wondering how they will stand up to multiple washings.

I am currently working on two other projects. First is the 2 for 1 Hat pattern by Ravelry friend SwordofaKnitter (Ravelry link). I am test knitting it for him. It is taking me much longer than usual because it is double knit and I can only work on it at home and in a quiet place because it takes so much concentration to make sure I keep the pattern straight. I am currently working on the decreases at the crown of the hat and should be able to finish it soon. It will be a very warm hat, having two layers and should be fabulous for skiing next winter. I have no photos yet, so you'll have to stay tuned for an update.

The UFO I'm working on is Arwen for Peeps. I am knitting the cable bands for the front of the hoodie. Then I only have the cable bands for the cuffs and this baby is finished. I don't have a current picture of it either.

I am way behind on photographing WIP's. With the beautiful, spring-like weather around here, we've been spending extra time outside. I have also been spending more time at our local pool, learning to swim. I have a secret yen to do a sprint triathlon and was most afraid of the swimming portion. So I started taking private lessons to learn how to swim and am now trying to build up my stamina. I can now do 500 yards of breaststroke without completely dying. Freestyle is still too hard for me to maintain for long distances but I'm pleased with the progress I've made so far.

Well, I'm off to finish school with the kids so we can take a quick shopping trip to buy a suit and new shoes for Hockeyman. He has a formal dance he will be attending next month. I assume he will also need a suit for interviews at colleges and other events in his upcoming senior year. It is hard to believe my baby boy will be 18 this year and graduating next spring.

Where has the time gone?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Fear of Commitment?


After announcing to all of knitting blogdom the advent of my upcoming Toe Up Sock Knitting Adventure, little niggling thoughts began tickling the back of my brain. Doubts and fear began to creep into my subconscious, giving me crazy nightmares and random flashes of goose-pimply, gut-tickling shivers throughout the day.

First thought to rear it's ugly, guilt-inducing head was the list of unfinished projects cluttering up my normally spacious, but now dangerously over-crowded, craft studio. It whispered, "Wouldn't it be more prudent to knock off a few of those before attempting an epic journey through toe-up sock knitting that may well take a couple years. After all, Hockeyman's Blanket is so close to done; and that Center Medallion sweater you know you couldn't stand to wear because it is too itchy and plan to recycle into a tote-bag or pillow . . ."

Next, the overwhelming stash of yet untouched yarn began a siren song of lonely longing, calling me, calling me to, "Go ahead and cast on that Fair Isle cardigan, the lime green summer cardigan, the purple cotton hoodie . . . And what about the Fair Isle hat and mittens you purchased yarn for before going on Fiber Fast 2010 - it is so lovely and quick to knit. It's okay, go ahead and submit to startitis. It's what you do best."

Finally, stark and raving fear crept up on me. What if I run out of sock-knitting steam half way through the book; what if all my bloggy friends find out what a flaky, easily-distracted ditzy dame I really am . . . Oi, what have I gotten myself into?

After some serious soul searching and stern, self-directed lectures and very inspirational internal speeches, I decided to follow through on my original plan to knit my way through Socks from the Toe Up, with some minor alterations to the plan.

First of all, I will knit my way straight through the book, one pattern at a time, starting with the Plain Vanilla patterns before moving onto the more exciting lace sock patterns.

However, after each pair of completed socks, I will finish (or frog) one unfinished project. My goal is to finish one pair of socks and to finish one UFO per month. However, if the UFO in question takes longer than the remainder of the month, I will cast on the new sock and continue to work on two projects until one or both are finished. I will include other crafts in the UFO completion marathon, like the rug hooking project I'm half done with and some unfinished quilts in my sewing basket.

Once the UFO's are eliminated from my over-flowing craft room, then I will allow myself to cast on a new project after each pair of socks.

Another goal is to burn through some of my stash (hence, Fiber Fast 2010), so I will use up all my accumulated stash of sock yarn before purchasing any new. However, once I have run out of sock yarn, I will allow myself to purchase sock yarn, even if Fiber Fast 2010 has not concluded.

Henceforth, I will be referring to 2010 as the year of Toe Up Sock Knitting And Unfinished Object Finishing Extravaganza, or TUSKAUFOFE for short. I am taking the plunge and putting this commitment out into the blogging world with the hope that it will be motivation enough to urge me forward to meet the goal of unlimited sock exploration, endless UFO elimination and ending world hunger . . . okay, maybe I'm getting carried away.

In the meantime, I did have a couple of prior commitments to live up to before diving into TUSKAUFOFE full time. Therefore, I submit for your approval HABS 2010. Granted, they are a month and a half too late for Hubby's birthday but I figured I'd better finish them off before getting too wrapped up in TUSKAUFOFE. He's very patient but with the Hockey Expo and High School Hockey State Tournament this weekend, he really needed a new pair of warm wool socks to keep his toesies all toasty.

I also promised a Ravelry friend that I'd test knit a new pattern for her (Ravelry link). I am working on that at the moment and plan to finish tonight or early tomorrow.

Oh, and on a sock knitting note, I have been attempting the short-row toe used by the first sock pattern in Wendy's book and not having a great deal of success. So far, I've knit and ripped 4 separate toes. I understand the directions but when I start picking up the wraps with the stitches and knitting them together, I keep dropping stitches and getting things all tangled up. Grrrrr!

Perhaps my mistake was trying to cast on and knit short-row toes late at night, by the light of a small lamp, so I wouldn't disturb my sleeping hubby during my commitment-phobic, anxiety-induced insomnia last night. I'm hoping attempting this new-to-me toe pattern will go better in full daylight, and after a full and restful night of sleep. IF I can actually go to sleep tonight without dreaming of half-finished socks chasing me through crowded warehouses of whining UFO's and lovely, lonely yarn singing alluring songs in the background.

After all, I am a flaky, easily-distracted ditzy dame who gets all goose-pimply from time to time. Not a pretty picture but, hey, you all are likely to figure it out sooner or later.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Searching for Inspiration

I have to admit that knitting for the Ravelympics was exhilarating. However, after the torches were extinguished, I have to confess that I was left feeling a little flat. With the completion of Cables & Lace, I had reached my goal of 12 sweaters in 12 months. I earned the medals I was competing for and then . . . pfffft!

I've lost my knitting mojo. Everything I picked up looked boring. "Been there, done that," became the mantra as I thumbed through books and magazines, looking for something - anything - that might get my blood pumping once again.

I was resolved that I'd have to explore some new craft - or resurrect an old craft to find inspiration. Not a horrible thing but knitting has become such an integral part of my identity that I was afraid friends and relatives wouldn't recognize me without my ubiquitous knitting bag and needles in hand.

Then, today, as I was teaching the sock knitting class at our local homeschool cooperative academy, lightening struck!

In front of me was Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up. As I thumbed through it and talked with my class about the different toe and heel configurations Wendy demonstrates in the book, I realized that I had barely scratched the surface of toe-up sock construction. Here in front of me was a recipe book for endless explorations into sock construction and design. I began to feel like Julie in Julie & Julia (which I just read recently) when confronted with Julia Child's monumental tome of French cooking.

Why not spend the next 12 months knitting my way through Wendy's awesome book? What is more, when her second book comes out, why not progress through that one as well?

That is not to say I won't be working on other projects along the way. After all, I do have a few other UFO's floating around here that could stand some attention. And Shepherd's Harvest is coming up and attending that always gets my spinning mojo back in gear.

But what a fun goal to have - knit my way through a book. A pair of socks a month would leave plenty of time for other projects, since I could knit a pair in a week if I really concentrate on it.

And it will be much less fattening than cooking my way through a Julia Child cookbook.

A Win-Win situation, don't ya think?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Talk about cutting it close!

Official finish time!

Knitting Completed
Still need to weave in tails, wash and block, and purchase/apply buttons. But every stitch of knitting was completed during the allotted time frame. Barely!

As for the Gold Medal Men's Hockey Game, all I can say is Sidney Crosby attended Shattuck-St. Mary Boarding School in Minnesota for a year during high school. Perhaps the U.S. (and Minnesota) had a little stake in that Gold Medal after all. Not that I'm biased about Minnesota hockey players but this is the "State of Hockey" after all!

Nuff said!

Good Night. I am E-X-H-A-U-S-T-E-D!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It doesn't get much better than this!

Guess what Hubby managed to win this week:

4 tickets to the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher vs. University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldog hockey game in Duluth on Saturday;

Oh, and a luxury coach bus ride with free food and beverages to and from the game;

AND a pre-game dinner party at Grandma's with Coach Doug Woog;

As well as 4 t-shirts for us to wear at the game.

Can you spell e-x-c-i-t-e-d!

Best part, long bus ride to and from to knit like a maniac so I might just possibly finish Cables and Lace before the Olympic Closing Ceremonies, as planned.

Yeah, Hubby.

Oh, and Go Gophers!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My first 2 medals - Squeee!

The American Girl Sweater Set was entered in 4 events and two of the medals have come through so far. I feel so proud!

This is, by far, the most fun KAL I've ever done. Go Teammn2010!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ravelympics Progress

After all that soul searching, poll taking and decision making, you'd think I'd have a clear goal for the Ravelry Olympics. After all, I spent weeks agonizing over which sweater to attempt. I spent 2 weeks drafting and rewriting the chosen project's pattern. I even fussed a bit at my husband when he surprised me with a dinner invitation on Friday night, when I'd planned to cast on with the thousands of other Raveletes during the opening ceremonies.

So what did I do . . .

Started a different project and finished it - all before I was 6 inches into my Ravelympic project.

Granted, this is a special gift for a lovely little girl who invited Peeps to her birthday party on Friday. Being a American Girl Doll fanatic, it only made sense that I could whip up a sweater set for her favorite doll. And I certainly did whip through this project.

Cast on Monday night at about 5:00 pm. Finished knitting everything by 10 pm Tuesday night. I finished the buttons at 9:00 am this morning (Wednesday). I used some Deborah Norville yarn I had in my stash and made up the sweater pattern, hat pattern and scarf as I went. I also invented little crocheted flowers to embellish everything. I am going to put this project up on Ravelry as an Olympic project, too, even though it is going to be a last minute entry. After all, I did start and finish it within the required time frame.

However, now I am back on track with my original Ravelympic project. It is moving along fairly smoothly but I am concerned that 5 of the original 14 days has already passed. I am really going to have to buckle down and focus if I'm going to cross the finish line in time.

And pray that no one else has a birthday party invite for my girls in the next 2 weeks.

Gotta go for the Gold!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Oh My Goodness!

Look what just popped up on Knitty!!!

Whaaaaaa! And I have already committed to knitting Cables & Lace for the Ravelympics! (Ravelry link)

Alas, I have been working very hard on rewriting Cables & Lace as a top-down raglan pattern. Even though I can't cast on until 8:00 tomorrow night, I've been "training" very hard this week (i.e. swatching, drafting the pattern, calculating gauge, etc.).

I'm just about ready for the Olympic Opening Ceremonies tomorrow. A little more pattern refining, a little more measuring and I'm all set to compete.

Oh, and my new reward for finishing Cables & Lace before the Closing Ceremonies: Casting on Skew!

Talk about going for the Gold!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Votes Are In!

I have tallied up the results of my completely unscientific polls, both here on the blog and at the Team Minnesota-RavelryOlympics forum, and there is a clear winner:

Option #3 received a total of 5 votes, with two people suggesting that I convert the Cable and Lace Cardigan pattern into a top-down version. This suggestion intrigued me quite a bit, since I've been making up sweater patterns lately anyway. This would be the most complicated stitch pattern to incorporate into a top-down version that I've ever attempted. Very Interesting!

Option #2 received 2.5 votes (the half vote coming from someone who chose to vote for both Option #1 & #2). Whilst this would be a fabulous sweater to work on while actually watching the Olympics, I'm just fooling myself if I think I'm going to spend a majority of my knitting time in front of the television. Life is just too busy and I'm out and about a lot. And straight stockinette is deadly boring to work on while waiting in the dentist office or at swim practice.

Option #1 received only 1/2 of a vote, with the comment that if I love color work, I should just cast on and enjoy the process and not worry about crossing the finish line for the Ravelry Olympics. A valid argument, if I ever heard one. However, when I attempt that little challenge, I think it would be better to have no deadlines or stress attached to the process. I want to focus and master two-handed stranded color work.

Now, simply because I reserved the right to veto any of the Options (in my head, if not in writing) for any reason I deemed valid (certain elected officials shouldn't have all the veto power in the world), I have still been weighing my options and doing some sincere soul searching.

My conclusion is: The people have spoken! If a majority (albeit a very small one) wants me to proceed with the Cable and Lace Cardigan, then who am I to disagree with the democratic process. And for those two lone voices who lobbied on behalf of pattern adaptation, well, they deserve to be heard and heeded as well.

Ergo, I will be proceeding with the Cable and Lace Cardigan pattern re-write immediately and shall make every effort to complete the entire knitting and finishing process within the time frame of the Winter Olympics. And if I finish it on time, my reward will be casting on the Colorwork Cardigan that has been wooing me with it's siren song of beauty for the past 6 months.

However, if I don't finish in time . . . hmmm, would it really be considered a punishment to knit the Daily Sweater first?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Decisions, decisions!

A New Year without some kind of resolutions or challenge just didn't seem right. My world has been all out of kilter since I hadn't managed to find that one perfect goal for 2010.

In my younger days, I'd done the "Finish all the UFO's in the house or you can't start anything new for the entire year", "Lose 50 pounds in 4 weeks and figure out how to look 10 years younger as well", "Exercise every day until you Puke before giving up on January 5th", and "Clean house then keep it spotless all the time, even if it means alienating your children and ending up in divorce court" resolutions in the past. You can guess how successful I was with completing those crazy goals.

With age, however, I've become a bit wiser and much more realistic about resolutions. And I've learned to have fun with it. It's my humble opinion that resolutions should be about improving the quality of your life, not altering your life beyond recognition. So, given my love of all things crafty, New Year's Resolutions have become fiber arts adventures for me.

Those who have been with me for awhile will probably remember the great Ravelry Puck This Hat Trick 2009 adventure, when I completed 9 hats in the month of January (6 adult/3 baby). The whole challenge seemed to fire my imagination and I had a total blast trying new techniques and churning out WIP's in rapid succession. However, since we still have a large box overflowing with hats in the closet, Hat Trick 2010 just didn't seem all that appealing this year.

I had done some mulling and meditating on the whole dilemma. January 1st came and went and I still didn't have a clue what to choose. Eventually, though, Ravelry came to the rescue - again.

The Ravelympics 2010 is gearing up to start and I have joined the Team Minnesota-Ravelryolympics Group. In keeping with the whole sweater obsession I've been enthralled with since the end of Hat Trick 2009, I have decided to try and complete an entire sweater during the course of the Olympics this year. One sweater in 16 days. That's the challenge I've set for myself.

However, having also suffered from compulsive shopping for the past year, each trip resulting in one or more sweaters' worth of yarn each time, I find myself with a plethora of choices for this epic Olympic event.

(I have also considered the whole "yarn diet for a year" resolution this year but decided that was even more far fetched than the "lose 50 pounds in 4 weeks" resolutions in the past. Let's get real, after all! No yarn for a whole year. Yeah, right!)

I have a couple weeks to choose, swatch and prepare to cast on during the opening ceremonies on February 12th. I've narrowed the choices down to three options.

Option #1: The Fair Isle Cardigan (on the cover) from The New Stranded Colorwork Book. I picked up the book and the yarn at the same time this past fall. This would be the most challenging project to attempt in the 16 days alotted. I would be trying to perfect my two-handed knitting technique while working on a fine gauge yarn and having numerous high quality finishing techniques involved, including steeking, picot turned hems and hand-sewn ribbon trim embellishments. Whist I may not be able to meet my goal of finishing it during the Olympics, it is the project I've been dreaming about most in the past few weeks.

Option #2: The Daily Sweater (Ravelry link) from Mason-Dixon Knitting Outside the Lines. This project would not be nearly as technically challenging since I've already made one sweater from this pattern. There is a chart to follow for the raglan increases, which takes some careful counting but after that, there is a lot of plain stockinette. It would be highly conducive to watching the Olympics but likely to become a bit boring otherwise.

Option #3: Cable & Lace Cardigan from the cover of the September 2007 Creative Knitting Magazine. I bought the yarn for this sweater shortly after purchasing the magazine in 2007. I love the combination of cable and lace and the yarn has such a soft appearance and silky hand that I've had this in my queue for a long time. It is a bulkier yarn and should work up very quickly. However, since I've fallen in love with top-down, seamless sweater knitting, I'm less than enthralled with the thought of having to sew this one up by the deadline. I'm notorious for finishing pieces and then procrastinating on the blocking and seaming. The challenge would be to follow through and actually FINISH it by February 28th.

Well, it's your time to help. Got an opinion? Let me hear it. I'm completely kerflummoxed, so I welcome input.

Oh, in the meantime, I'll be ripping out carpet. Been working on that "little" project (2000 sq. feet of carpet to remove - oy!) since Saturday. I have 2 rooms and the upstairs hallway/stairs left to finish before Thursday morning when the new carpet arrives and is installed. We saved over $800 by removing and disposing of the carpet ourselves but it's made for a physically grueling week. Especially since Hubby has a very bad back and has been unable to help as much as he'd like.

Let's hope my hands and forearms have recuperated from this massive project by February 12. Or else I'll be learning to paint with my toes during the Olymics instead.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Things I Hate . . . errr, Dislike Intensely

When you live with a child who sees the world as black and white, with no shades of grey, the word "hate" is a bad word. I am routinely lectured on my use of the word "hate," even if it is the word that best describes my true feelings.

For example, I HATE washing dishes. The fact that I spend 50% of my waking hours either dirtying dishes (meal prep and cooking) or washing dishes, it's a pretty strong feeling being evoked by the sight of yet another mountain of dishes teetering in the sink. Especially I've gone to bed, leaving a clean kitchen, and wake up to the mess caused by a group of miscellaneous children who have decided that they needed some bedtime snacks, and a teenager gets up at midnight for a little refueling and decides turkey bacon and eggs make a good snack and leaves the egg smeared pan and plate drying on the stove, and hubby gets up in the morning and fixes breakfast and leaves the cereal box, rice milk carton and cereal bowl on the counter. Can you blame me if I growl a bit about how much I hate dishes?

I also hate bitter cold weather. Winter is fine, as long as you can step outside with a reasonable amount of warm clothing protecting your body. However, when the temperature and wind chill combined dips into the double digits below zero and your teenage daughter asks you to drive her to school and you forget your mittens and the drive is too short to truly warm the engine enough to heat the car and your hands are so cold when you get home that you can hardly turn the key in the ignition to the off position, "hate" seems like a very reasonable word to use.

Alas, now I even have a knitting "hate." Nupps! Believe it or not, I am knitting nupps for the first time in over 30 years of knitting and now I know what all the fuss is about. I used to hate bobbles because I had to turn the work so many times. But I learned to knit in both directions and I no longer hate bobbles. They are a piece of cake. But nupps . . . grrrrr!

It seemed like a fun little pattern. I picked up some Land O' Lace yarn from Creative Fibers in New Prague. They had a lovely little sample scarf knit up from a Land O' Lace pattern. So scrumptious I just had to purchase the required two hanks and pattern. I cast on for the scarf and was rolling along merrily when I discovered that this was a two-ended scarf that needed to be grafted in the middle.

No problem, I cast on the other side, knit it to the same length as the first side, then transferred both sides to the same needle and started knitting both ends at the same time. Then I arrived at my first nupp. Argggh! I wrestled and fiddled, perspired and pouted, growled and grumbled. It was official, I joined the Nupp Haters of the Knitting World.

The scarf is now in time out, whilst I seek out a pair of Addi Turbo Lace needles in the appropriate size to see if the pointer tips will make nupps less objectionable or not. If they don't, I'll be heading directly to the frog pond and seeking a nupp-less lace pattern for a new scarf. Life is too short to spend precious knitting time HATING.

In the meantime, I've gone back to knitting Arwen for Peeps. I am working on the hood right now, then I will have the sleeves and the cabled band left to finish before sweater #12 is off the needles. I am also continuing to work on Hockeyman's Japanese-inspired Blankie whenever I'm sitting in my armchair, watching television. I am also carrying around Hubby's Annual Birthday Socks as my travel knitting project. Plenty of projects to keep me busy without returning to the dreaded nupps.

Feel free to send any tips for knitting nupps my way. After all, what we need is LOVE . . . especially in the knitting realm.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Busy Holiday - Relatively Speaking

I've been a busy little bee over the past 2 weeks. Having made the decision to stay home for the holidays made for a relaxed, quiet time with family (and a few friends). An uneventful holiday season had the added benefit of allowing a bonus of ample knitting time.

As you can see from the photo, I have been working on a number of projects. First of all, as soon as Amused Revamped was finished, I cast on a blanket for Hockeyman. Having made a blanket last year for Dancing Diva, I was not about to make the same mistake twice of making a twin-sized afghan out of worsted weight yarn.

This time, I opted for Lion Brand Wool-Ease, Thick & Quick, which is working up so fast, my head is spinning. The pattern is my own adaptation of Mason-Dixon's Modern Log Cabin blanket. (Ravelry Link) I am enlarging it enough to cover a twin bed and hope to have it finished in a few weeks.

Because of it's large size and weight, it has become my "recliner project". So, obviously, because we had a hockey tournament up in Hibbing this past week, I needed to find a more portable project for the car trip up and back. I decided to pull out a couple pairs of UFO socks.

Actually, it was decided for me because Hubby's birthday has snuck up on me and it is time to cast on the Hubby's Annual Birthday Socks (HABS). I needed to finish one of the pairs of UFO socks in order to free up a pair of needles to use. The first socks I pulled were the Peppermint Twist socks I started ages ago with yarn I won in a drawing. They are Tofutsie Sock Yarn and I have to admit it is not my favorite yarn to handle. It was a loosely plied yarn, which made it very splitty. It also has a fairly harsh hand. However, I will reserve judgement on whether I'll knit with it again after I've worn and washed them a few times. Some of the most delightful yarns to knit with do NOT wear well and I'd rather have long lasting socks that weren't quite as fun to knit than spend all that time knitting something wonderful to end up throwing them away after a couple wearings.

Knowing that the Peppermint Twist socks wouldn't take that long to finish, I also brought along another pair of UFO socks. I think the yarn is Trekking XXL Sock yarn but I wouldn't bet my first-born child on it. It was an emergency knitting project I picked up at Coldwater Collaborative when I had forgotten my knitting bag at home. Being the obsessive-compulsive knitter that I am, I was unable to go on without something to knit. Hence, another pair of socks was born. However, this little project doesn't have a fancy name yet. If you have any suggestions, I'm open to ideas.

Finally and of course, as soon as the Peppermint Twist socks were off the needles, I had to cast on the HABS. So far, I haven't done much more than start the toes. I need to dig out a knit stitch dictionary and do some hunting for a nice textured pattern.

The yarn is some received through Wool Girl's 2008 Sock Club. It is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock and is 90% superwash merino and 10% nylon. It has the beautiful hand of a nearly all wool yarn and I'm hoping that the nylon will make it a longer wearing sock yarn.

Whew! As if all that knitting time wasn't enough, I also managed to find time to finish a 500 piece puzzle with my hubby and parents AND a 750 piece puzzle all by myself. I still have a 1000 piece puzzle waiting in the wings but will wait to start that one after I finish the Yet To Be Named Socks.

Then again, I do have two more days of holiday vacation before homeschooling starts up again in earnest. And I absolutely love puzzles.

Hmmmmm . . .