Saturday, July 18, 2009

Cranberry Socks

Well, the cranberry socks are coming along. I'm knitting them on size 1 needles and am just about two pattern repeats past the toe. I'm thinking the pattern will pop more when I get a few more repeats knitted. I used Judy's Magic Cast-on for the toe, but changed it up a bit - on the increase rounds I did K1, P1, Kfb at the beginning of each needle and ended each needle with Kfb, P1, K1. I like the way it looks.

Miss Bunny agreed to model the sock-hat - Next time there will be enough of the pattern over the instep to show it to better advantage. (My apologies re/the date stamp...)

Be sure to check out for her giveaways - especially if you're a quilter. Yummy goodness! in a fabric-y sort of way. :-) And, I think today is the last day, so be quick!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

...And the Time Warp continues...

Sheesh! Can't believe another month has whizzed past. And, um, my last post...the one dated in June? I forgot to actually publish it until just yesterday. I kept thinking "I've got to get some pics to go with that post and then get it published!" But the days turned into weeks (overnight or so it seemed) and the weeks turned into a month so finally yesterday I just published it without any pics.

In the meantime I finished the Rivulets socks (I've re-named them the "Re-Rivulets" socks since I re-worked the lacy pattern), and here's a couple pics of the finished pair. Sorry about the incorrect dates on the photos - the camera ran out of batteries again and of course, I forgot to re-set the date. The yarn color is more accurate in the top photo.

Still working along on the Orenburg scarf... it's a few inches longer than it was last time, and I haven't worked at all on DD's sweater. Hard to work on a winter sweater in the heat of summer! I went thru my stash the other day, hoping for inspiration as to a new knitting project, but, alas, no light-bulb moment. Don't know what I'm going to tackle next.

We had a chicken tragedy about a week ago. Very sad. Lucille (her pic is up in the sidebar) had figured out how to flap over the short little picket fence that divides the chicken/garden side of the back-yard from the "regular" side of the back yard. I could usually lure her back into her side of the yard by offering her peas from the garden, but one day she was being all totally independent, and wouldn't be lured, so I left her on the wrong side of the fence, thinking that she would flap back over when she was ready. Later, when she tried to do so, she managed to get her poor head stuck between two of the pickets and died. I cried for two days and even writing about it now makes my eyes well up. In the big picture, I know that Lucille's death is a small event, but ... crap. I hate it when things like this happen.
An update re/ my next project. I have some cranberry colored sock yarn and have begun working on the pattern for a pair of cranberry socks. (I love Barbara Walker's pattern books! - there's no way I could even begin to figure -out a lace pattern from scratch!) Hopefully, cast-on happens today and there'll be a pic or two in the next couple of days.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Long time no we...

How can it be June 17th already????? "Doo doo doo doo" (Twilight Zone theme music) It's a time warp this time of year.

But...knitting has been accomplished...a little bit. I finished the Dusk socks; I'm further along (several inches worth) with the Orenberg Lace Scarf, the first sleeve of DD's sweater has made it up to the sleeve-cap decreases (and has only been re-knit twice), I've cast on and got two inches past the heel on Wendy's Rivulet socks (click on "free patterns" near the top of her blog-screen) - but didn't like the lace pattern expanded as it was for the large size - so frogged it back to nuttin', reworked the pattern, cast-on again and am barely past the toe. Sheesh - you'd think I might have noticed that I didn't like the expanded large pattern before I turned the heel at least...but no. Just a word or two about Wendy...She is one of the most influential people in my life when it comes to knitting... I heart Wendy.

Remember how I said I was looking forward to doing a "Judy's Magic Cast-On" toe, but doing it in garter stitch? Well, I'm still going to pursue that notion on some future pair of socks, but when I got "sucked-in" to the Rivulet socks I decided that I didn't want a garter stitch toe, (or heel either for that matter), but I did spend a day or so figuring out a heel alternative. I love the way Wendy's heels (at least those that I've knit so far) look. But I hate, Hate, HATE the wrap-and-turn part of that kind of heel. Actually, it's the "Pick-up-the-wrap-and-knit-it-with-the-stitch-it-wraps" part that drives me bonkers. I don't know if it's because of eye-sight problems, or just an old fashioned mental block, but that part of the heel (only eight stitches or so of the whole thing!) makes me break out in cold sweats! I invariably get one of those crucial stitches fouled up somehow and am reduced to a blubbering blob while I try to frog back and repair the damage...

So, I think I've mentioned before how much I like knitting the Priscilla Gibson-Roberts type heel - (Google Priscilla's Dream Socks and read the little box on the right side of page 1 to see an explanation of her yarn-over technique with no holes) but I like the looks of the Wendy-type heel (and they fit my feet just fine)... I figured out how to use PGR's special stitch instead of a wrap and turn stitch to fill-in the hole you'd get if you didn't use one or the other - and the test heel I made with scrap yarn turned out lookin' fine. It wasn't all that hard! I know this kind of thing is old hat to experienced knitters (I'm not one of them, more's the pity) but for me, this was a super WOW accomplishment.

And I've been stitchin' on my two WIP quilt tops. I have plenty to keep me occupied and you might think that would keep me from launching off on other projects, but (again) no. A dear friend mentioned a couple of weeks ago that she needed some way to organize and store her knitting needles, so what did I do? I piped right up and said, "Hey, I'll make you one of those fabric jelly-roll things for your needle storage." I just got her cute little bag of all-things-knitting-needle-related stuff yesterday and spent part of the morning sketching out a holder for her DPs. I'm thinking that her single points will get their own holder and I'm not sure what I'll do with her circs. (Unlike some of us knitters she only has a "reasonable" amount of knitting needles - Me? If there was such a thing as a jelly-roll type holder for all my needles, it would have to have its own zip-code!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Life in the Treasure Valley of Idaho

Yes, this is my knitting blog. But honestly...I'm at a point in all my projects that it's just same-o, same-o. I'm turning the heel on the second dusk sock - but if you saw the first one, you've seen the second one. (Scroll back a few posts and you can see it if you've forgotten.) I'm up to the armhole decreases on the first sleeve of DD's sweater - but it's just plain stockinette. Nothing to get excited about. The Orenberg scarf is maybe a few inches longer than it was last time I included a pic. And, frankly, I haven't crocheted even a smidgen more on the Sassy Sack handle. Ho Hum.

So let us put knitting (and crocheting) aside and speak of other things. Like, the weather. A week ago tomorrow morning we had a freeze warning right down here in the city. Yesterday we had a record high temp of 95 (beating the former record of 93 set in 1954 I believe). Today's morning low was 71. Tomorrow's predicted high is 68. It all kind of makes your head spin, doesn't it? I love Idaho.

I spent a good part of yesterday sitting in the shade and working on the aforementioned sleeve (my idiot-knitting project at present). DS let the chickens out and I thoroughly enjoyed their company. At one point, Lucille had pressing business inside the coop and DS took this darling picture. She's inside the coop, roosting on (in?) the favorite nesting box. Isn't she just the cutest thing?

DS made three little windows - one for each of the nesting boxes. In the winter he slides in a solid panel to cut down on the draftiness. But in warm weather he slides in the screen-doors so the chickens can look out and we can look in, and the coop gets some ventilation. The silly chickens all like the one box furthest to the left as you look at this view. We've never found an egg in either of the other two boxes.

Here's a "front" view of the coop and the pen. I have teased DS unmercifully about the Taj Majal he built for the chickens, and reminded him yesterday that he still hasn't come up with a hot tub spa, nor has he installed their wide-screen TV with cable. (He reminded me that I never did get around to knitting them shawls or booties this past winter...)

This view (below) is from the far end of the chicken run, showing the ramp (on the right) leading up into the coop. When we let the chickens out into the yard, we leave the door to the chicken run open so that the chickens can go back into their run/coop whenever they want to, and it's not unusual to have one of the cats go exploring up the ramp and into the coop. One time we had a cat in the coop while one of the girls was on the nest laying an egg. I expected a confrontation of some sort but the cat exited the premises leisurely a short time later.

This morning I worked outside and weeded part of a "suicide" strip along the drive-way where we have some of our rose bushes planted. I'm thinking of planting nasturtiums and/or moss roses there. Pansies, Johnny-Jump-Ups and sweet alyssum would be pretty along there, too. Maybe I'll plant some of each. I call that area a "suicide" strip because it tends to get foot traffic off the drive-way and also, in the summer time it's hard to keep it adequately watered - the concrete driveway just sucks the moisture out of the soil next to it.

Maybe I'll have some knitting to share next time I post. Or maybe...who knows. Happy days, happy days. Can you believe this coming weekend of Memorial Day weekend???

Saturday, May 09, 2009

One Sock Done

Finally, something accomplished (knitting-wise)! I've been so distracted by hexagons and DD's quilt blocks, that knitting has been somewhat neglected...along with house-work and other "chores". But I did finish the first Dusk sock, see?
The toe construction on this pair of socks is "Judy's Magic Cast-On" and is a stockinette type toe...but when I got to the heel, I did a garter stitch "Priscilla Gibson-Roberts" heel. (If you're not familiar with PGR, just google her - there are several good tutorials regarding her heel and toe technique - the only change I make for my garter stitch adaptation is that when I turn my sock to work the next row of the heel/toe, I knit the stitches instead of purl them.) Next pair of socks I'm going to use Judy's cast-on method again, but am going to try changing it up to garter stitch. Maybe the anticipation of trying that modified start-up will encourage me to get this second sock done. (I'm especially prone to second-sock syndrome!)

And I've made some progress on the Orenberg scarf. I've learned something about knitting lace with lace-weight yarn - USE LIFELINES! Before I began using lifelines, my biggest problem with this lace-weight was that when I made a mistake and attempted to frog back to fix it, I ended up creating more problems than I was trying to fix, and got into such a muddle that I always had to rip back to ground zero. Now that I've finally embraced lifelines, the most I have to rip back is just a few rows. One of my AHA! moments with lifelines was when I switched from regular straight needles to a circular needle...I could not insert a lifeline to save my soul when using regular needles! But with circs, you just slide all the live stitches onto the cable and it's easy to thread the lifeline through those stitches because they're loose.

So... if you're struggling with lace and you're knitting with regular straight needles, switch to a circular needle. To insert a lifeline, thread a blunt-tipped tapestry needle with pearl cotton or a heavy crochet thread, slide your stitches to the cable part of your circular needle, and thread your lifeline through the stitches, leaving a generous tail on both sides of the live stitches. Then, when you have knit the next few rows and are ready to create the next lifeline, just pull out your former lifeline and re-do in the current row. (I actually keep two lifelines - I'm so paranoid! - so I remove the oldest lifeline to thread through the "new" row.) Also, be sure to mark (on your chart) which row you've used for the lifeline. That way, if you have to rip back, you'll know right where you are.
Just umpty-jillion pattern repeats to go...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Annual Time Warp

There's some magically evil thing that happens this time of year - every year! Time somehow speeds up and rips past at such a fantastical speed! Outside, the weeds (and grass) grow so fast that when you get up each morning and look outside, you are astonished to see that the just-weeded garden is (again) swamped with weeds and the lawn is now a meadow. Inside, you just can't ignore all the calling-out from projects and wanna-be projects that have slumbered peacefully for most of the winter. And the dust bunnies are multiplying at an alarming rate - far faster than usual. Not to mention the sticky place growing larger and stickier on the kitchen floor.
After the ennui of Winter, Spring wants so much...weed this, prune that, knit on your wips, cast-on for this and this and this, piece (patchwork) this, no this, finish that. On and on. Overwhelmed I am!
In spite of all the distractions, I have made a few rows progress on the Knit Picks Dusk socks -
Oh, hilarious! Finally remembered to "fix" the date stamp on the camera and I got the year wrong!
As you can see, I did a Priscilla Gibson-Roberts heel - in garter stitch, so it doesn't match the toe, but I figure "Who Cares?" Not me.

And, here's a top view showing the lace pattern winding it's way up the foot onto the leg. Sorry about the perspective - it's wonky.

Made a couple of potholders for my across-the-street neighbors who generously gave me a large bag of yeast (they belong to CostCo). The largest size of yeast I can buy in the local stores is the jar - far smaller than the bag, and we go through yeast pretty quickly.

Pot holders for Doug and Rosemary -

The chickens are deliriously happy with the weather and have been outside every day. Outside their coop, that is. Two of them - Henrietta and Penelope tolerate my petting them. Lucille? Not so much.

That's Penelope on the right and Henrietta on the left.

And, this is Lucille. Isn't she pretty?

As I've mentioned previously, my knitting time has been seriously impacted by my re-kindled passion for patchwork and quilting. And this poor blog has "suffered", too. So...I've begun (just barely) a quilting blog here -- will try to keep my knitting here and my quilting/patchwork there. I briefly tried WordPress but ran into all kinds of problems I couldn't solve, so came back to blogger.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Patchwork...and not much knitting

One day last week I was taking something out of the oven, using one of the patchwork pot-holders I made years ago, and I almost got burned because the poor old potholder was so shabby and threadbare. I decided maybe it was time I made some new ones, and that is just what I have been doing... Digging through my fabric stash (I don't really have very much) reminded me that DD once expressed her desire to have a quilt made by me, so I've started that as well.

Here's a shabby old potholder -

(Sorry, I forgot to fix the date-thingy on the camera...)

Here's some new ones -

And here's two 15" quilt blocks - Geese in the Pond is the pattern name.

This is basically a scrap quilt. I might "need" to purchase a couple fat quarters in a yellow print (I think the greens cry out for yellow and I just don't have any pretty yellow in my stash).
Knitting? Well, not much progress...I did turn the heel on the Dusk sock and make a bit of headway up the leg. And I have managed a few inches on the first sleeve of DD's sweater. It's my "idiot" knitting at present...just stockinette stitch with a few increases along the sides. I've been working on it when I go outside to chicken-sit (say that 6 times fast), but the weather has been pretty severe so time outside has been hard to come by.

In spite of the cold, windy, wet Spring weather, the peach tree has begun to bloom and the plum tree out back is gorgeous - all white and lacy. Sweet peas are up (about 2 1/2"!) and today DS thinned out the lettuce, spinach and radishes and gave the thinnings to the chickens. Boy, were they ever enthusiastic about those little seedlings!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Monday, Gorgeous Monday

It's supposed to get up to 67 degrees today and 73 tomorrow!!! Then, rain on Wednesday. But who cares? I live for today and today the weather is glorious! Our forsythia is blooming, along with some early tulips and all the rose bushes are showing all kinds of new growth, even the ones that I pruned back to nubbins. (Yes, I still have to get those other bushes pruned - before they take over the whole block!)

To make matters even more wonderful, the house is full of the fragrance of home-made bread. Actually, home-made Po' Boys for our French Dip Sandwiches (tonight's dinner). Using up some Bar-B-Qued steak that DS fixed last night.
There's been more knitting goin' on! As I may have mentioned, with DD's sweater in no hurry to get finished (it won't really be "needed" until next Fall), I felt the need to get some other things on needles. Actually, I already had one WIP on needles, but I had forgotten all about it (it's from years and YEARS ago!) until I was digging through my yarn stash (for Ravelry). Here it is:

(You can see I've got the date stamp on the camera fouled up again)

This project is from the Summer 1998 issue of Interweave Knits. It's supposed to have a rectangular crocheted base but for some reason I substituted a round knitted base. It was completed up through the middle of the darker blue section - now I've completed the knitting (except for the I-cord draw-string) and am working on the crocheted straps.

Here's a close up of the crocheted eyelet section at the top of the bag - for some reason I just love the look of it...

(I'm a miserable photographer! That's the camera strap on the right.)

This project in IK actually has two bags/purses and I made the other one years ago and really like it - except I made the crocheted straps as directed and they are too long (they stretch-out quite a bit). I know I could re-do but a knot strategically positioned in the straps works fine...

Here's a pic of that first bag/purse. It holds my portable quilting supplies so when I go to my friend Jan's house to quilt I'm all set. Finger cots...check, quilting thread...check, baby powder...check, needles...check, thimble...check. You get the idea.

A "new" WIP - lace. You know, I've been kicking myself because "I can't knit lace" - but that's not it at all. After all, Pookie's Shrug and The Bean's Shrug are both all lace, and the Purple Fountain Lace socks were lace (duh). It's just that lace weight YARN gives me fits. I found a pattern for a scarf (in one of those old IK's-staff-all knit-their-take on some theme - in this case scarfs) that didn't look to be too complicated. It's garter stitch lace, it isn't too big and the pattern is all knit stitches, yarn-overs, and K2togs. You'd think I could handle that, right? Well ... would you believe this is my third try? Yep, ripped it back to nuttin' twice.
Sorry it's so blurry. I tried to stretch it out using "paper-weights) to show the pattern...The yarn is Knit Pick's Alpaca Cloud in the Iris color-way. I just can't justify spending money on new lace weight yarn until I prove to myself that I can knit with the stuff. But my heart is yearning for red. Or bright spring green. Or vivid aqua. Oh dear.

And lastly, a sock in progress. My own pattern (using Barbara Walker's patterns for the lace)...

The yarn is Knit Pick's Essential (I think) in the Dusk colorway.

I loved the cover of the next-to-last Knit Pick's catalog. Which inspired me to take this pic:

I'm hoping to need a larger sock-drawer soon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Woo Hoo!

Happy dance! It's the first day of spring! And it actually feels like Spring here in the Treasure Valley of Idaho. Some of our little wild violets are blooming out front - they smell so sweet! I still haven't gotten outside to prune the rest of our roses...I keep looking for growth on the ones I already pruned (none that I can see so far), but the giant, un-pruned roses are showing all kinds of new growth.

Also GREAT BIG Happy Dance - I got The Bean's Shrug finished last night.

Elfin Lace - on the arms...

Mrs. Montague's Lace on the back.

The Shrug really doesn't "go" with this shirt, but oh well!

I've also made a little bit more progress with DD's sweater back...

And, another GREAT BIG WOO HOO - since I've only got one WIP going right now, that must mean that I can start something else! (After all, DD won't need this sweater til next fall, right? What a happy thought!

Now, what's it gonna be? I have quite a bit of sock yarn and I can always use socks. But I keep thinking about lace...and something earthy in garter stitch. Or...

Oh, dear.

Finally, DS gets home this afternoon after being gone all week. What's for dinner? Home-made bread Brat roll-ups. (like hot-dog roll-ups, but with Brats instead). And Green Beans. Yum!

Monday, March 16, 2009

There's been knitting going on...

How can a whole week have flown past since I last posted? It's a time warp, I tell you. Guess that's what happens when one stays busy.
Showing the bottom...

Showing both the fronts.

I have completed both fronts on DD's sweater-in-the-making. The first one involved much frogging and re-knitting. Despite having measured gauge (on the idiot shawl I started with this yarn) I got about a third of the first front done when I realized that I was getting different gauge than I thought. So, RIPPPPP... Then I got to the second section of the front and didn't like it. Not. One. Bit. So, RIPPPPP again. I liked the reverse of that section so I re-knit it wrong-side-to so to speak. Then I got to the armhole decreases and almost up to the neckline decreases when I decided that the armhole just wasn't quite right, so (you guessed it), RIPPPPPP... and I re-knit that section. The second front went much quicker because I had worked out the problems on the first front. I am now about one fourth the way on the back and it should go OK because it's just like the fronts only back-ier.

A nice surprise this past week. Back-story: I used to be the proud owner of a Bernina 830 sewing machine. I'd had it for at least twenty years and loved it. About a year ago I got it out to do some mending and it wouldn't work. Like, it had been turned to stone. So I took it to the little shop where I bought it so many years ago and left it there for Scott to fix. Scott called some weeks later (he had a BIG back-log of sewing-machines-waiting-for-repair) - long story short, it was going to cost a bundle to order the needed parts because Bernie was so old, and he offered me a nice big fat trade-in on a new Janome. (What's a Janome? I wondered) - He had stopped carrying Berninas. So the Curmudgeon and I went to the shop and I tried a Janome and I fell in love with it and we ended up buying it (for a fraction of what the Bernina had cost us all those years ago). Not very long after that the Curmudgeon died and I had other things besides sewing on my mind.

Now to last week. DS was gearing up for several weeks out of town with his job (home on weekends) and he realized that he didn't have enough changes of clothes to survive a week without a washing machine. But, he did have several pairs of jeans that he had ripped out in the crotch, or that needed belt loops re-attached, or whose pockets were ripping off. My old Bernina didn't do denim - at least not where multi-thickness seams were involved, but I decided to try the Janome. Amazing! This little sewing machine just ate up those seams and all the jeans got mended in jig time. What a nice thing.

I'm about a third of the way through "Ursula, Under" and loving it. What a neat book.

One last thing...I have an ancient Crock Pot and I want to find some truly delicious recipes to make with it. I've always really liked the idea of crock pots - but sadly, never found any recipes that we liked well enough to make a second time. If you read this and have any suggestions, please pass them along to me.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Monday, Monday

So...I frogged the shawl and have started a sweater for DD. She's very picky about her clothes...not so much about how they look, but about how they fit and feel. So I've taken measurements from a sweater she wears a lot and am trying to re-create it, hoping that it will feel "right" and fit her, too. I'm trying to throw in some of my own personal design touches so it won't seem like such a blatant copy. Working with yarn at this gauge is amazing - it knits up so fast! When I get a bit more done on it I'll post some pics.

And yes, I'm still working on The Bean's Shrug. You know how I am about starting new projects. I love the starting so much more than the finishing!

In addition to knitting today, I need to haul out a whole bunch of re-cycles, gather all the household trash, do laundry, bake bread and figure out what's for dinner. That last one could be very simple. As a good friend once said, "Toast is a hot meal." (And toast made from homemade bread is a gourmet hot meal!)

Well, I haven't done everything on my "list" today, but I've made good headway. The Bread...

is in the oven. Can you smell it? I think we'll have cheese omelets and homemade bread toast for dinner.

In a totally unrelated corner of my life, I have begun to read Ursula, Under by Ingrid Hill. Recommended by DD - in fact, she bought it for me along with a copy of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. And, I have a copy of Anne of Green Gables waiting in the wings. (I'm probably one of the few people my age living in America who has never read A.of G.G.!) What fun, to have three amazing books waiting to be read.

I recently re-connected with an awesome knitter (through Facebook of all things!) and if you're on Ravelry, check out her knitting. MaureeninFargo. She is amazing! When I grow up I want to be her.


Saturday, March 07, 2009


First of all, there's not a lot of news on the knitting front. I've been in frog land, ripping and re-knitting a section on The Bean's Shrug three times now (aarrugggghhh). Nothing as bad as the Harlot's tale of woe (see her March 6 entry), but gee whiz - why couldn't I get it right the first time? Also cast on (Bad Grandma! Bad, bad, bad!) for a very plain rectangular shawl with some Lion Brand Homespun that was given to me several years ago...I really like having some "idiot knitting" (very plain and simple and either doesn't require a pattern, or is SO idiot-simple that even I can remember what to do) - hence the casting on of said shawl. But two things: first, this yarn is driving me slightly bonky - it's so filament-y and fuzzy that I constantly have to undo and re-do stitches just to get rid of those extra strands that hitched onto to the just-knitted stitch, and shouldn't have (extra credit if you understood that) and second, DD just about did back-flips when she saw the yarn (colorway "Quartz") - she loves it! So now I'm thinking maybe I ought to find a sweater or vest pattern for the yarn and make something she can wear. Hmmmmm.

Birds. Yes, I love birds. Yesterday I looked out our living room window and our big Ash tree out back was full of these:

American Robin

I counted 28 at one time! And they were all facing the house, their big red chests looking like ornaments in the bare branches. I didn't even try to take a picture...I just sat there and enjoyed the scene.


A couple of weekends ago, Pookie looked out the same window at the same tree and said "Grandma, look at that bird!" We looked up the bird in the "Birds of Idaho Field Guide" by Stan Tekiela and found out that we had a Downy Woodpecker in our tree. I have seen Downys in our tree on several occasions. They're beautiful little guys.


Several days ago I spotted a "new" bird at our feeders out front. We regularily see house sparrows, house finches, Juncos, and chickadees - and they all pretty much stick to our regular bird-seed feeders or ground feeding, but this new little bird was at the thistle-seed feeder and was much smaller than the other birds. I think it was a Pine Siskin like this one.

Pine Siskin

And, finally - I love this pic! Emailed to me by a dear friend...

Babka's Eggs

She says that since all the roosters were "dispatched" (by one of her Chicken Lady Friends), her remaining hens are super happy girls. Aren't those eggs just gorgeous!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

They're Shrugs - not Shawlettes

Just the other day I saw a pattern (somewhere?) for a Shrug, and it had sleeves with a shawl type piece across the back. It was constructed like the "Shawlette" I knit(ed) for Pookie and the one I'm knitting for The Bean. So now I know. They're Shrugs.

Pookie - all smiles - with a few of her beloved animals.

Part of the back and sleeve.

The Bean's Shrug? Progress is being made. I'm past the center back portion and about two inches along on sleeve number 2. (Yes, I did finish the Purple Fountain Lace Socks.)

Apropos of nothing, one of my favorite things are "Bird Trees". The Curmudgeon and I always called them that. A "Bird Tree" is a large bush or a small tree where a flock of birds has gathered and they all begin to chirp and shout at each other. (The McLaughlin Group on PBS sometimes remind me of Bird Trees - the talking heads on said program all talking and shouting at once... But, Bird Trees are much nicer and the birds probably make more sense than the talking heads.)

Also apropos of nothing, I heard a profound statement this morning on Religion and News Weekly (PBS). Forrest Church was speaking in an interview with Bob Abernethy and said "The opposite of love is fear." Without thinking much about it, I would have said that the opposite of love is hate. But, I think he's right - it's fear. And then, fear begets hate. It might be helpful to remember that those who hate us most likely fear us. Hmmmm.

Recently a friend of mine (a very wise woman whom I love deeply) also said something profound. I can't quote her verbatim, but the essence of her thought was this: Isn't it strange that religious fundamentalists (of every stripe) tend to be anything but fundamental in their words and actions? Every major religion (that I know of, anyway) preaches love, forgiveness, service, acceptance, non-judgment of others to name a few of their fundamental beliefs. Yet, "Fundamentalists" often preach hatred, retribution, exclusion, etc., and are super judgmental of anyone different from themselves or who disagree with them. Another hmmmmm...

And here's something that I think is hilarious. The Bean's sixth grade classroom has been the recent home to an incubator complete with fertile chicken eggs. Recently, the eggs hatched and the kids in the class got to name the chicks. One little yellow chick was named "Omelet". Don't know why, but my funny bone gets tickled every time I think about it.

And lastly, Clem takes a breather.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

And the Frogs were heard in the land

(Did you hear them? Rip-it, rip-it, rip-it...)

Yes, I did it. I frogged the Fair Isle sock all the way. It was a good thing. I could tell that I was not going to be happy with that sock! Sometimes when I make knitting mistakes I just let them go - I know they're not gonna bother me. But other times, I know they're going to make me nuts and the only thing to do is go back and fix them. In this case, I had messed up not once, not twice, but several times on the heel and the heel was driving me CRAZY (as I may have said before), and there were other issues going on, and, well, ripping was the only solution. I'll probably try these socks again someday, but in the meantime I'm finishing the second purple Fountain Lace sock and then I AM GOING TO FINISH The Bean's Shawlette. Honest.

I debated thismorning about going outside to prune another rose bush. Or ... making cookies. The cookies won. (The Bean will be so happy when she gets home from school!) Also on today's agenda: homemade Beef and Vegetable Soup (recipe from this season of America's Test Kitchen) and maybe homemade crusty French Bread. I haven't made French Bread in years, but I make and bake "regular" bread about twice a week. The aroma of baking of my favorite things on earth.

(Hey, didja notice? I got the date stamp thing fixed on my camera. Yesterday afternoon I was complaining about the date thing to DS and he gave me one of those looks. You know, the kind of look that says "Oh, you poor pitiful thing. You are so totally clueless!) "You just go into the menu, Mom, and use the arrows to navigate around and re-set the date." Me - "There's a menu?"

Another favorite thing - our Chickens! Yesterday afternoon DS was out back cleaning out the garden beds and he let the chickens out to forage. They were so happy.

This is Penelope, one of our three hens. I wish you could click on her image to embiggen the pic, but I seem to have lost the ability to make that feature work in my blog. Chickens are so cool. My grandma and my Aunt Jean both had chickens when I was a child and some of my favorite memories are the times I helped feed those chickens and gathered eggs. My dear Curmudgeon's family had chickens when he was a boy and one of his chores was to clean out the chicken coop. He ended up hating chickens and wouldn't even entertain the notion of having them during our time together. (He's really missing out now. DS does all the clean-up, and with only three hens it isn't such a terrible task. And we get fresh free-range eggs. Scrumptious!)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Feels like Spring! Did you hear a frog???

It is achingly beautiful outside today! I worked out front and pruned three of our huge, overgrown rose bushes. Here's a pic showing one of several left to prune, and an "after" pic showing a couple that I pruned today. None of our roses have been pruned in several years. The Curmudgeon used to love doing the dead-heading details during the summer months, but he wasn't so big on doing the big winter cut back stuff. I hope I haven't killed them!

My plan is to dig out all the grass and weeds around each bush and maybe plant annuals around the roses. But then...that's been my plan for at least six years. Who knows if I'll get it done this spring.

This is my little dog, Clem (short for Clemson). He hates it when I go outside and don't let him come along. So his little nose is out of joint from being relegated to the house while I was out side this morning.

He'll forgive me soon though, because after finishing this post I'm going to go out to the back yard and engage in some chicken-watching (our three hens just fascinate me and they're almost as good as meditation when it comes to calming the heart). Clem thinks the chickens might be good play-mates, but they're not very cooperative in that department.

Knitting? This is supposed to be a knitting blog, after all. I'm about to rip out the Fair Isle socks. (I'm sure I heard a frog just now.) The heel is driving me CRAZY! And, although the sock looks plenty big, it's really hard to pull over my heel - stranded knitting isn't as stretchy as stockinette or ribbing. I'm thinking I might do-over: add a pattern repeat going around the leg, lengthen the leg and try a Priscilla Gibson-Roberts heel in garter stitch. I know that will mess up the beautiful heel pattern that Katherine Misegades charted for this sock, but...hey, sometimes you just have to give a sock another chance at life, and if that means simplifying things, well then you do what you have to do.

That's it for now. Out I go to commune with chickens :-)

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

True Confession Time

The Purple Fountain Lace Socks? Well, they're not the only new WIP I've begun while needing to finish The Bean's Shawlette... I also cast on for some Fair Isle Socks (yes, I know! I really am BAD!!). Not once, but twice. The first time, I began with an inch of 1 x 1 ribbing as called for in the pattern, but it looked so wonky that I ripped it out and started again, this time with a braided edge that I liked from some long-ago mittens. (Speaking of ribbing...I love the way my 2 x 2 ribbing looks, but every time I do 1 x 1 ribbing it looks like crap! Why is that, I wonder.

Here's a pic of the first couple of inches or so. The pattern is from "The Tongue River Farm Sock Collection" found here, and the wool is Icelandic Wool found here. I love knitting with this wool - It's springy and earthy and very appealing. It also felts like crazy. How do I know? I knit another pair of socks with this yarn several years ago and my Darling Curmudgeon accidentally washed them - and dried them! They were never the same!

I have knit a few stranded projects in my time, but I'd be the first to admit that I don't have a lot of expertise in this type of knitting. However, I found a stranded knitting technique here that I really like. Why? First, the yarn doesn't get all twisted (which drives me crazy) and second, I have more even tension with this technique: the floats on the back are only carried over a maximum of two stitches at any time, so there's less possibility of having extra loose floats or extra tight floats.

I finished the first Purple Fountain Lace sock and only have a few inches to go on the second one but I'm such a WIP whore that I couldn't even finish before I schlepped off to the Fair Isle socks.
As for the Shawlette? I'm going to pick it up and actually knit a bit on it soon, I promise!