Ready to Cast On!

I have had two months of little knitting and now that I am unpacked it is time to remedy that! This morning I perused Ravelry for ages until I found three patterns that called my name. I don’t know if I’ll get them all cast on today, but I will soon. As much as I love my Hitchhiker knitting, I’m craving some variety.

I’m going to start another Retro Style Knitting Bag, like the one I made for my sister, for myself out of some pink Berroco Weekend. It will be lined in denim. Love this bag, and of course I’m in desperate need of another knitting bag.

Second will be some Foliage Lace Mitts out of the second skein of my Chocolate Cherries yarn. It will go with my Chocolate Cherries shawlette. They’ll be a nice little set to wear in the fall when it gets chilly but not cold.

And finally, I have this skein of Crystal Palace Gold Rush. It’s gorgeous, all shiny and sparkly and multicolored. IMG_3147I wanted to make something with it but had a heck of a time finding a good pattern that uses only 85 yards. I wanted a lacy cowl, something beautiful and feminine and delicate. Finally, I found this Fall Leaves Scarfette and I think it will be perfect. I’ll even get to add a button!

Sorry, not as many photos today, but maybe soon, if I manage to get as much knitting done as I hope. But I have good puppy news: the last two nights, Grace has been quiet until at least 5:30! This morning I heard one short bark and then she was quiet again. I went back to the basics and reinforced the routine we had at the old house: potty break, nighttime treat, tell them to lay down, and love on them before going to bed. I don’t know if that made the difference, but it doesn’t hurt! Seriously, puppies are just like toddlers. Sadly, Grace’s streak of non-destruction has ended. The husband got complacent and left a hat out overnight. Oops. IMG_3013And none of us can wait until we can get our fence up and stop having to put them on chains in the backyard. I’m tired of untangling them, and poor Jack is tired of getting stuck. IMG_3012Today I’m taking the girl to her new school to audition for the choir and then enroll in her classes! Exciting stuff. Plus I’ll have some downtime, so I better get my yarn wound and ready to knit. Happy Tuesday!

Progress Made: House and Hitchhiker

I mentioned last time that our sitting room is all set up and since then I managed to get a nice photo. Now, the kids wanted it to be a music room, with the piano, flute and trombones. I wanted it to be a library. So it’s a library with a piano in it, and the other instruments can practice elsewhere. I love having a room whose main purpose is to house books, and give a person a quiet place to read books. IMG_3001Curtains have been ordered and that will really finish the room off nicely. We’re doing double curtains: an ivory sheer and a brownish-gray panel over that. It’s hard to describe the color, but they’re quite lovely. I even found a book to add to my library today: a nice first edition of Colony, and for only $2, I’ll have you know!IMG_3002I’ve also been working on my second Hitchhiker. Someone requested a teal and gray one, so that’s what I’m making. I got to buy some gorgeous Frolicking Feet Done Roving for it, and I keep trying to photograph it, but the colors just don’t come out right. Here’s my best attempt: IMG_2998It’s better in person, I swear. Gorgeous colors. I do love that yarn. I also bought a skein for yet another Hitchhiker (I’m obsessed right now). It’s Cascade’s Heritage 150 in a fun mix of green, purple and navy. Good thing I have no yarn stores near me, since I have no ability to resist pretty yarn.IMG_2995I have no puppy photos to share this time. Puppies are not my favorite, I’m afraid. Grace has decided that it’s fun to bark anywhere from 3 to 4 in the morning, for no good reason I can figure out. She’s always been able to wait until at least 5:30 before needing to go out. I don’t know if it’s because they’re not getting as much exercise being on chains as opposed to having freedom in the yard, or if she’s still unsettled from the move and is just slow to adjust. I can get up and pet them and go back to bed for around an hour or so before the barking starts up again. I’m tempted to let them sleep in my room tonight to see if that helps, because I could really use a night of uninterrupted sleep. Have any of you had similar problems with pets after moving? They were so good before the move that I have to believe we’ll get back there. The good thing is that we’re able to leave them unrestrained in the house while we’re gone/sleeping and Grace hasn’t destroyed anything. It’s been a week and a half and the only thing she’s done is eaten the tomatoes we left on the counter. So, that’s something. But still. Sleep would be good. And speaking of sleep, I believe that’s where I’m headed now. Wish me luck!

Settling In and Starting to Knit

Most of the boxes are unpacked. The rooms look normal and lived-in now. We’re becoming more confident in our movements around this big new house. It doesn’t feel like Home yet, not the way the old house did, but I’m also not pining for the old house. Well, except for the big kitchen. I do miss that. In every other way, though, I am very comfortable here. It feels good. It feels right. I like my new town, even though the closest LYS is 20 minutes away and the only craft store is Michael’s. I like that I have yet to see a Starbucks, even though I’m sure they’re here. I like that I’m already learning my way around these streets after just a week. This was a good move, I’m pretty sure. Even the dogs agree. IMG_2992They love to be outside, rolling around in the lush grass and watching the world go by through the fence. None of us are enjoying the chain experience; they continually get tangled up around trees and each other and I have to go out and free them. But since there’s a long section of fence at the back that’s barely 3′ tall and my puppies are good jumpers, I can’t let them run free yet. And since we’re in the historic district, we have rules to follow for replacing our fence. It’ll get done, we just have to go through the committee and get approval first. But eventually we’ll have a lovely 4′ wood picket fence and the dogs can run around in circles to their hearts’ delight.

They’re also enjoying being free overnight. We didn’t have a good way to shut them up in the kitchen as we’d done in the old house, so we left them out and they did fine. No destruction at all (*knocking on wood*). But the last few days, Grace has decided she gets lonely in the middle of the night, and we’ll get short barks around 4 in the morning. That’s not okay with me. I got up with them this morning, let them out, then went to sleep on the couch. But I don’t want to make a habit of it, even if they do end up all cute and sleepy by mid-morning.IMG_2993So I have figured out a way to keep them downstairs, thanks to a door and a gate, and we’ll see if that helps. If not…well, is there doggy Ambien? ;)

I did indeed manage to cast on a hitchhiker the other day, and it felt SO SO GOOD. I’d missed the feeling of the yarn in my hands, the rhythm of the needles. But I didn’t start it with the purple I showed you. Instead, I started a teal/gray one that’s a custom order and it’s going to be gorgeous. I’ll do my best to take some photos today. Now, do I sit and knit for a while, or do I do something productive and useful? Hmmm…

Progress on Unpacking and Hitchhiker #2

I’m feeling optimistic right now. We *might* someday get to live in a house without boxes, and I *might* get to do something besides unpack stuff. I spent a little more time in my craft room this morning, and I’m pleased with what I came up with. I used an over-the-door shoe holder for all my fabric. I can see what I’ve got easily.IMG_2983At least I could, until I hung (part of) my tote bag collection on the bar in front of the fabric. But I don’t have a better way to store/display my tote bags, and these are ones I like to use more often. (I might have a wee tote bag addiction.) Plus the hangers are easy to move when I need to get at the fabric.IMG_2984Last night I got all of our books shelved in the sitting room (I’ll take a photo of that later) and I’m feeling good. So good, in fact, that I this morning I wound some yarn in anticipation of real knitting! Hitchhiker #2, here I come!IMG_2985

Ready to Knit Again

I got my yarn all unpacked! I was able to finish getting my kitchen set up, so playing with yarn was indeed my reward. Plus, I needed the plastic tubs the yarn was packed it, so really, it was a necessity. IMG_2964Love it. All this yarn makes me happy. I can’t wait until I have the time to pick out a new project and cast on!

Today was the first day of full band camp for the girl, and she had to be there before 7 am. The plus side is that I get plenty of time in my day, I guess! I spent a while outside with the pups before it gets too darn hot. Jack was feeling frisky.IMG_2965 IMG_2966Enjoy your day, readers! Maybe someday soon I’ll have a knitting-related post for you.

All Moved In

It’s done, we’re all moved into the new house, thanks to 11 hours of hard work by the movers. Yes, 11 hours. I can’t believe we even considered doing it ourselves. I will never move again without hiring movers. They put the furniture in the right rooms but we arranged it all, put beds together, and worst of all, carried boxes from the living room to all the other rooms in the house. It was really quite horrible. But exciting too, of course.

Before the movers got there, my SIL and I were ripping out carpet. The previous owner had clearly had pets, and the smell was terrible. We knew we’d want to take out the carpet eventually but I was scared of what was under them. She egged me on, though, and before I knew it we were pulling up nasty blue carpet from my sitting room. You can’t even imagine how bad it felt and smelled. Or if you can, you have my sympathy, because it was truly disgusting. There was one corner that was still kind of moist. So here’s the before: IMG_2675During: IMG_2937 IMG_2938And finally, After:IMG_2939There’s a big section of water damage, probably from a radiator leak, and there are some stains, but we knew we’d have to refinish it so that’s no big deal. But it’s still strong and sturdy and the smell was gone almost immediately. It pleased me so much we had to do the dining room next! Before: IMG_2681After: IMG_2941Again, stained but a good base that will be gorgeous once it’s refinished.

I’d never pulled up carpet before and never want to again. Once we heaved the heavy carpet out, we had to pull up the stained padding, then pull up dozens of staples. My SIL was kind enough to go around and pull up the tacking boards around the edge. I was tired before the movers even got there! Between that and moving boxes around all afternoon/evening, I gave myself a sore back, aching feet, tight muscles and a bit of tendinitis in one elbow, but it got done. Now, three days after the move, we’re maybe halfway unpacked? Hard to tell. We’ve emptied a lot of boxes but there are still a lot hanging around. The worst is the kitchen: the new one is smaller than the old one. So I have a LOT of dishes and pans and mugs that need to go in cupboards I don’t have! Time to do another round of purging, I guess.

We love the house as much as we thought we would. It’s big and airy and roomy even with all our furniture. We have had two AC repair calls already, the second thanks to a leak that sent water down into our office, but I think that’s squared away now. They did say the system was top of the line, just not installed perfectly. The puppies are adjusting to being chained in the backyard, but we’ve gotten a couple of bids for a privacy fence that they can’t jump over. They’ll be so happy once they can run freely around the yard! IMG_2954I bought Grace a new Martingale collar so she couldn’t slip out of it. She outsmarted me, though. The one I bought was a little too loose and instead of exchanging it, I thought it would work. Nope. IMG_2958It might not surprise you that the room with the most progress made is my craft room. My yarn isn’t unpacked yet, but I’m getting close to that point. It will be my reward for getting the kitchen done. IMG_2961 IMG_2962 IMG_2963Can’t wait until it’s all done and I have nothing preventing me from sitting and knitting. But for now, this post is long enough and I have unpacking calling my name. I *might* even get to do laundry today, if the husband succeeds in hooking up the washer and dryer. You know you’re in a bad way when you’re excited about doing laundry!

I’m Still Here and I Finished my Shawl

Anybody still out there? Hope so! I’m *this* close to moving day (just three days away) and I’ve got enough packed that I have some free time. What does a knitter do with free time besides knit, right? I pulled out one of two WIPs I hadn’t packed away, my Quadratic shawl, and the endless garter stitch was endlessly comforting. The pattern didn’t come out exactly as I intended–I ran out of gray too soon–but I’m still delighted with it. I think this is my first full-size knitted shawl. Given my lack of patience with knitting large items, I’m pleased that I could complete it. Plus, did I mention this is FINGERING WEIGHT yarn?? The really thin stuff that takes forever to knit? Yep, that’s right! Sure, it took me nine months, but hey, who’s counting? IMG_2926It’s soft and squishy and now I will pack it away for cooler months. If you’re interested, you can see the Ravelry project page here. Or go here and buy the pattern itself; it’s marvelous. Perfect TV knitting.

So what next for me? Well, I wasn’t in the mood to pull out my last WIP, so I stopped at Joann and bought one skein of gray acrylic. I dug through the box with my knitting needles to find the right circs and cast on for another one of AndreSue Knits’ KitKat hats. This is exactly the kind of knitting I need right now, simple and peaceful. It’ll get me through the next few days until I can unpack my craft room and restore some sort of order to my knitting life. It can’t happen soon enough. Moving is horrible. I’m sure it will be worth it in the long run, but after two long, hectic months, we’re all kind of fried. I don’t ever want to move again!

What’s Going On? Everything!

I miss this! I miss blogging and reading other blogs regularly and having those little conversations and connecting with my knitting people! But I’ve been so consumed with the upcoming move that I simply haven’t had the time, energy or material for blogging. I haven’t been knitting or anything really fun. I’ve been packing. And cleaning. And packing some more. That’s not terribly interesting. But a few noteworthy things have happened, so here are the highlights of the last couple of weeks.

I have a new nephew!! He was born at the end of June and he’s perfect! Can’t wait for cold weather so I can make him all the baby hats. IMG_2893The boy turned 12! 12, can you believe it? I can’t! IMG_2878As busy as we are, we squeezed out enough time to have cake and ice cream with some of the family, and David got lots of LEGO/Doctor Who/Hobbit stuff.

The husband tore out our 16-year-old tiled shower and is in the process of re-tiling it. It will be gorgeous and fabulous and I’m jealous that my sister will be the one getting to use it. Thankfully, we do have a bathtub in which to bathe so we are not all stinky. IMG_2829 IMG_2881I watched fireworks on the 4th with my two favorite children. IMG_2834During one of our recent mega-thunderstorms, a branch from the neighbor’s tree fell on my husband’s truck. We’re so lucky: no damage at all! IMG_2749Not so lucky: during *another* mega-thunderstorm, we got water in the basement. The basement that’s been try for the last ten years or so. But the ground is just so saturated and it was raining so heavily that the water soaked through and found a weak spot to pour in. IMG_2885Perfect timing, eh? Prepping to move in 10 days and we get water in the basement. Sigh. Seriously, though, I’m glad it happened before we moved out so we can take steps to prevent it happening again. And there was some luck here too: the sump pump alarm went off, bringing me downstairs before the water flooded too much. I saved the Christmas decorations that were in harm’s way, the husband dug a trench to divert the flow of water, I got buckets put down, and started mopping. With a fan, it was all dry within 24 hours. Could have been so much worse!

I think that’s all. Isn’t that enough? Oh but wait, one more thing!! Yesterday it was raining again and I was tired and achy and discouraged and so frustrated with all the moving stuff that I rebelled. I pulled out my chevron scarf, turned on Wimbledon, and spent the day knitting. It was marvelous. By late afternoon, the knitting was done and it was time to learn Kitchener Stitch to graft the ends together. Guess what?? It wasn’t nearly as hard as I was expecting! I know there are variations, depending on whether you’re grafting knit or purl stitches, but this was just stockinette and I picked it up really quickly. And I LOVE it. It looks fantastic. I can’t wait to do it again; I think this will become by go-to seaming method. IMG_2899I should have done one more row of black before seaming, but I thought the Kitchener would add a row of black, plus I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn. And in the next photo, you can see where the points of the chevrons don’t match exactly all the way around. IMG_2900But in the grand scheme of things, those tiny imperfections don’t matter a bit. Once it’s on, you don’t see either of them.IMG_2901 IMG_2905I love it. I can see myself making more of them in different color combinations and widths; I think I’d really like a skinny one next. But as long as this one took, it might be a while before I cast on another.

That’s really all, folks. Today I’m back at the packing. Not much left, really, just some more kitchen stuff. Everything else is essential and will get packed right before moving. With any luck, we’ll close within a week and be moved within 10 days. I can’t wait. I’m so tired of having *this* view everywhere I sit in my house! IMG_2895

Moving Trumps Knitting

I can finally reveal why I’ve been absent for the last month: we’re buying a new house and moving! I didn’t want to say anything too early in case something fell through, but we’ve had an inspection, the offer has been signed, so I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve spent the last three weeks going through the house and donating/selling/trashing so much stuff, and now I’m packing. Packing, packing and more packing. It’s going quickly; I’ve got the craft room all packed up, but don’t worry, I left out two WIPs in case I needed emergency knitting. The kids are on their own and the girl is doing well. The boy…well, his room was pretty much a pigsty so he’ll probably need some help soon. The husband is doing some fix-it-up stuff around the house so I’m doing all the packing. Except for all his woodworking tools and stuff. He’s on his own for that.

We’re moving about 20 minutes north of where we are, but it’s getting the kids into an amazing school district with advanced classes and bigger, better programs than they’ve had. That’s the reason we’re moving, really. About a month ago, at the end of the school year, we learned that the school district we’re in is changing the gifted program a bit, making the one gifted class an elective and making all kids take a mainstream reading class. Well, my kids were reading at a 12th-grade level by sixth grade, so that class won’t do much for them. The only advanced class they offer in middle school is math, and no advanced English until 10th grade. That just didn’t sit right with me. A few days after we spoke with someone at the school district, we went to a party with a teacher friend who lives in a nearby town, and she told us their district offers THREE gifted classes (math, science, and English) in middle school. I was amazed. I knew our district had some drawbacks, but I hadn’t realized most of the other nearby districts were offering more. By the next day, I was idly browsing through houses for sale, just pipe-dreaming, I thought. But when I mentioned it to my husband, he said he’d been thinking the same thing for a while. Well. That was all we needed, and we started looking in earnest. We stumbled across this house and fell in love with it, and that part was really easy.

It’s really hard to leave, though, because I was born in this town, lived here all my life except for college, and I love it. My family is all here. I wanted to have faith that this city, and this school district, would get better. I wanted to believe in it.

But I also really want to do better for my kids. I took the girl to meet the new band director and see the facilities, and she was so excited she was practically in tears. It’s just such a big change to go from an older school with less funding to a newer one that can afford a huge band room, one that prides itself on the band enough to put a glass case with trophies and awards in the hallway. Her old band director is trying really hard, and we love him. He’s fantastic. But he’s trying to rebuild a band program that’s suffered the last several years, and that’s a hard, slow process. Band is my daughter’s passion, her gift, her future, so if I can do anything to get her into a strong program, I’ll do it.

And I’m excited about the change. I think I needed something different. We really love the house. It’s big but needs some work. But it has hardwood floors, pocket doors, a finished attic with a full bathroom (the girl is SO excited about that) and a nice big backyard for the puppies. My new craft room is bigger and has three big windows. The house is a 5-minute walk to school for the boy, and he’s so excited to not have to ride the bus anymore. So yeah, we’ll be farther away from my family, but it’s not too far. It’s a short, easy drive. I just might have to try harder to schedule time with them. And that’s totally worth it. Now, I have to go pack some more, but here are some pics of the house.

Dining room

Dining room

Living room

Living room

IMG_2677

Sitting room

Sitting room

IMG_2682

Craft room

Craft room

My Weekend Adventure

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Eleven days! That’s how long it’s been since I posted anything, and it feels like longer. The worst part is that I haven’t even been knitting in that time, or crocheting either! I know, I know. It’s a bad thing. I need to fix it. But you know, it’s summer, and I decided it was a good time to clean out the basement. We’ve lived here for 16 years, the kids have been sticking old toys down there for almost that long, and it’s just getting uncomfortably full. For the last 10 days, I’ve been busy going through boxes and getting rid of stuff left and right. It feels good but it’s hard work too! That’s why I was so glad to take a break this weekend.

See, I have this friend, Rory. I met her on Facebook through a mutual friend, and I discovered her jewelry page first, Kind Spirit Jewelry. We started chatting a bit, I had her make me a special necklace in memory of my dad, and the friendship just grew from there. She’s truly a kindred spirit for me: our circumstances are the same in many ways (SAHM of older kids, creative people, part-time caretakers for moms, lost our dads too soon), we see situations much the same way, we finish each other’s sentences, she’s just…a special person. Kind and loving and supportive and encouraging. I love her.

But. I live in western Missouri and she lives in Ohio. We’re 13 hours apart. That’s not fun. Texting and messaging is great, but not the same as face to face. A couple of months ago, she said she was thinking of coming to visit me. After squealing a bit, I realized it could be easier on her if I met her halfway, plus I’d get the benefit of a little getaway. Halfway was the Chicago area, but neither of us are big city girls, so we found a Hampton Inn in Ottawa, IL. Not much to recommend it, but we just needed a room to house us while we talked.

Of course no road trip is complete without a yarn store, so I did some searching and decided to stop in Milan, IL at the Naked Sheep Yarn Barn. And guess what?? When I got there, I found out the entire store was 50% off!! How cool is that? I was fast and within 15 minutes I had paid and was on my way with these goodies. IMG_2663I got two skeins of Berroco Peruvia wool, two skeins of Plymouth Baby Alpaca Worsted, and one marvelous skein of Scrumptious superwash (hello, Hitchhiker #2!) I was quite delighted.

Anyway, I made it to Ottawa and met up with Rory and it was so so good. It just felt like we were already old friends. There was no awkwardness even though we’d never met before. 2+ years of conversations means you get to know someone pretty well. We got along just as well in person as we did online. We talked, drank a bit, walked around the little downtown, ate too much, laughed a lot, slept too little. It was heavenly. I let the stress of all the stuff at home melt away and just enjoyed the calm, easy friendship. I even got to introduce her to margaritas! (Can you believe she’s never had one before? I couldn’t. But now she knows the joy that is a margarita on the rocks with lots of salt.) She made me a bracelet while we were there, working away while we chatted, and it’s perfect. Iridescent rainbow sparkly beads with a lot of purple, and a heart “friend” charm. IMG_2664Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time, and after only 24 hours together we had to say goodbye and drive our separate ways. I think this was only the first of many meetings. As Rick says in Casablanca, “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” IMG_2660

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