Archive | May 2015

My First Hitchhiker

Well, I broke my own rules. Instead of working only on current WIPs, I started a new project yesterday. I couldn’t help it. I’m going to a party tonight and I need a new simple travel project. (Yes, this is how you party when you’re old. You get together and eat, play games, and knit. I’m okay with it.) I also had a craving for garter stitch. The Hitchhiker shawl was near the top of my library and I had my new Frolicking Feet yarn handy, and before I knew what had happened, I’d cast on. It’s marvelous! IMG_2357I love that nifty sawtooth edge there, and the garter stitch is so squishy and dense with the size 4 needles I’m using, and wow those colors! This is my new favorite project and I’m sure it’ll be finished before I get back to those other, older WIPs.

But sadly, Hitchhiker is not a good travel project for me, at least not a good party project. You have to keep track of which row you’re on, and I’m not good at that when I’m distracted. So instead I’ll cast on for AndreSue’s KitKat Hat with some brown Malabrigo Worsted and that’ll be my happy mindless knitting for the evening.

And also sadly, I had another needle mishap. I have the worst luck with needles lately! Especially this set of Knitter’s Pride Trendz acrylic needles. I already have one with a broken tip, now I have one that came apart. Apparently you need to be very careful when you tighten these. IMG_2358I love the colors of these needles but they’re definitely not as durable as others I have. At least this one I can glue back together.

Oh, and big news in our house: the girl got her learner’s permit! IMG_2350Now I have to let her drive my car, eek! She’s been out once in my car and once in the husband’s truck, and actually she’s doing well. We’ll just stick to parking lots for a while, I think.

Two More WIPs Finished

I’ve been on a roll lately! In the last couple of days I’ve completed two more WIPs, bringing me down to only three still on the needles. One of the new FOs was my Mother’s Day project, the Chocolate Cherries shawlette with the Baah wool. IMG_2344It hasn’t been blocked yet, so the yarnovers aren’t as open as they will be. I’m also hoping I can block it a bit longer, because I wanted to be able to wear it like this: IMG_2342I absolutely loved knitting with this yarn. The colors are so gorgeous, and the yarn is perfect, soft without being limp. It has great stitch definition. I have another skein of this, and I’m looking forward to finding the right project for it. My Ravelry project page for it is here, or you can go directly to the Find a Penny pattern page.

My other FO is another Oh, Helen! mesh scarf. This one I made in a silvery-gray Berroco Weekend. It’s a worsted, not DK, so I cast on fewer stitches and used size 9 needles. I rather like this one better than the first, pink one. It doesn’t roll quite as much so you see the pattern better. I made this so I’d have something versatile and lightweight to wear when I do craft shows so I can model my wares! IMG_2345I haven’t been knitting as much the last few days, though, because I’ve had another project going. For the first time in my adult life, the first time in the almost 18 years I’ve been married, I have an actual bed with a headboard and footboard! We’ve always just had the metal frame that comes with the mattress. We waited at first because of money, then the husband wanted to make them. I think he would still like to, but he’s got a lot of things going on, and it probably won’t happen for a while. Then a friend of mine mentioned she wanted to sell her bedroom set with a bed, dresser and nightstand. It just happened to be oak and the Mission style that I love and that matches the nightstands the husband made several years ago. She was asking a fair price and it just seemed like too good a deal to pass up.

The downside was that it meant quite a bit of manual labor, to move them home then clean out the bedroom and set up the new furniture. I took apart the old bed and set up the new one ALL BY MYSELF (okay, the boy helped a little bit) but I needed the help of the husband and brother to move heavy dressers. Last night it was all set up and I could appreciate my new grown-up bedroom!IMG_2347 IMG_2348The dresser has a matching mirror, but the husband was too tired to attach it last night. Maybe tonight. Anyway, I’m delighted with it.

And last but not least, here’s a recent puppy photo. Remember the new dog bed Grace tore up? The one I mended and sprayed with the bitter apple spray? Yeah. Here it is. IMG_2328I give up. I mean it, I really and truly give up. No more new dog beds. At least now I can look at this and chuckle. This was Monday, and nothing’s been destroyed since then. Fingers crossed we can make that trend last a while!

The Secret Bag is Unveiled

I have finally finished my sister’s project bag, and now that she’s seen it, I can show it to all of you! Voila…IMG_4240It measures 12″ across, 9″ tall and 4″ deep. IMG_4241Nice big button with tab closure.IMG_4256I love how the fabric I found continues the blue and brown theme.IMG_4253This might be my favorite bag ever. The pattern is called Retro Knitting Bag and the main visual element is the butterfly stitch. It was wonderful to knit, new and a bit challenging, but not so difficult to be frustrating. Once I got the hang of the stitch and the pattern, it was smooth sailing. I made a few modifications: cast on fewer stitches since I was using a heaver-weight yarn, made it 9″ tall instead of 10, and added the button closure. The pattern also said to sew the sides together, but I didn’t like that idea. I wanted my sister to be able to open it up wide and see inside easily. I used Berroco Weekend, an acrylic/cotton blend that should be durable. I already have plans to make one for myself!IMG_4249

Meet My New Baby

That’s what I’m calling it anyway, since it took nine months to make. This is the first project I’ve made with the silk yarn the husband brought home from his trip to India. Remember that marvelous pile of handspun, handpainted yarns I blogged about last summer? I started this cowl back then and for some reason I found it slow and boring and set it aside for nine months. Then Saturday I finished the chair socks (all 32 of them, with 4 tails each) and yesterday I finished the sister’s bag. (I KNOW!! I’M EXCITED TOO! I’m giving it to her tonight so I’ll show you tomorrow.) I’ve known for a while that my next priority would be WIPs. I don’t like having so many lingering projects. Aside from a cardigan that I don’t know if I’ll ever pick up again, this was my oldest WIP.

Once I picked it up, I had no idea why I set it aside. Well, that may not be completely true. The pattern called for size 9 16″ needles. At the time, I didn’t have my 16″ interchangeable circs, so the needle tips were full length, making them closer to 18″ than 16″ and making the knitting awkward. I immediately switched to the shorter tips and the needles flew. The yarn is glorious, as soft as you can imagine, with beautiful rainbow colors. It didn’t split or snag or knot; it flowed smoothly through my fingers and over the needles. It took three episodes of Gilmore Girls and two episodes of Supernatural and I was done! (Aside: have any of you watched both those shows? It’s strange seeing Dean from GG as Dean’s brother on Supernatural. Plus Supernatural is extremely freaky and weird and strange. I was not watching it, the girl was. She’s got strange taste.)

Anyway. Cowl is done. As soft as it is, the silk is a bit limp and floppy, so it lays strangely when I put it on. I might try pinning it close to the neck with a shawl pin or brooch. Still, it’s gorgeous. And when I see it I think of the husband, so that pleases me too. IMG_2320 IMG_2321 IMG_2322Here are the details: the free pattern is Malabrigo Neck Thingie and I made no modifications. The yarn is Duke Silk, 100% silk worsted weight from SilkIndian.

I am now down to only four WIPs, not including that cardigan. That feels good! Next up is finishing my delicious Chocolate Cherries shawlette. I’m really enjoying this phase of not thinking of knitting as a business. I’m not missing the craft shows or the pressure of making things for them. Instead I’m just making what I want to make, letting the yarns guide me, and it feels so much better. I don’t know if I’ll even want to make Christmas presents this year! Okay, okay, it’s not even June yet. I’ll keep an open mind. But I’m going to keep knitting for pleasure for as long as possible! If I don’t do many craft shows, though, what do I do with stuff I make that I won’t use? What do the rest of you do with all your knitted or crocheted goods?

The sun really did come out tomorrow!

Figuratively, anyway. We’re still stuck in a long stretch of gray, rainy days. Thanks to those who cheered me on after my rough day! Yes, after my (very) early start yesterday, things got much better. I had a lovely long lunch with two great friends. Funny how something like that can improve your outlook so quickly. I came home and got out the chewed up dog bed to further inspect the damage. Here’s what I saw. IMG_2309That’s all there was, the rest of the bed was fine. This was doable, especially since it didn’t have to look nice. I trimmed the rough edge of the zipper and re-threaded it so I could zip as much closed as possible. Then I just sewed it all closed, making sure to sew around the zipper a bit to keep it closed. I won’t be able to open it for washing, but at least the bed will last a while longer. It’s not pretty but it worked.IMG_2310_2Once that was done, I sprayed it all with the bitter apple no-chew spray and set it aside to dry. Then I moved on to the other bed, the one that had been soiled. It needed a second run through the washer but came out nice and clean. By the time bedtime rolled around, the pups had two good beds again!

But wait, it gets better! I got to sleep until 6:40 this morning AND nothing was chewed up overnight! *CHEERING* Yeah, I got this. These puppies aren’t gonna break me!

Oy, What a Day I Had

Yesterday was not a good day. Yesterday was pretty close to a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad day. It was the last day of school so it was going to be my last day of peace and quiet, and I had high hopes which were quickly dashed. I woke up to find the 2-day-old $30 dog bed now had half its insides on the outside. Not only that, the charming dogs had also chewed up one of my smaller tote bags. Thankfully, it was a $2 bag from Goodwill, but still.

After breakfast, I had to cancel an Etsy order. I messed up when I created the listing, which was for multiple sizes, and I had no idea which size the customer wanted. Three emails had gone unanswered, so I refunded her money and fixed the listing. Maybe she’ll reorder. I hope so. Until then, there went that money.

I didn’t have time to sit around with tea and yarn, because I had an errand to run and I wanted to get it out of the way. The boy’s school said he still owed money on lost library books, and I had proof I’d paid for them a year ago. I get to the school…nope, I need to go to the elementary school since that’s where the fine was accrued. Fine. I went to the pet store and spent $60 on new puppy toys to hopefully discourage the darn dogs from chewing on inappropriate things. I went to the grocery store to get milk and bread for the mother, and discovered it was the day for everyone and their grandmother to shop. Seriously, so crowded, and they all moved SO SLOWLY. Plus, they didn’t have the exact bread the mother wanted, and she’s picky about her bread. One phone call later, bread was selected and I was on my way. I dropped off the milk and bread and got my first pick-me-up of the day: she’d made No Bake Cookies! Whew. One was consumed quickly and several were packed away for later. Off again, this time to the elementary school. Thankfully, they were very nice and took care of the problem quickly.

After that, the day improved for a good long bit. We had a nice dinner, started watching Shrek, then discovered one of the pups had an upset tummy and had been eating A LOT of grass. A fight ensued over which puppy would get to re-ingest said grass before we ushered them outside so we could clean up. Two more small puddles and a movie later, we went to the kitchen to get ready for bed and discovered the one remaining dog bed had a very large puddle/pile of…unpleasantness on it and next to it. I swear, what the heck was wrong with these dogs?? I was pretty sure it was Jack, since he was the one looking sad and pathetic. Dog bed cover was thrown in the washer, towels were laid down for them to sleep on, and off to bed we went, with hopes that surely things would look better in the morning.

Well. I certainly didn’t mean at 4:45, but that’s what the puppies thought. I really think it was Jack. He was probably starving after emptying the contents of his stomach last night. But, at least they hadn’t chewed up anything overnight. Small victories, right? Sigh. I am discouraged. Discouraged and frustrated. I’m trying to tell myself that I survived small children, so I can survive this. I’m trying to remember that my pups bring me lots of joy and love, they really do. I mean, look at this sweet guy. IMG_2294_2So let me end on a high note. My collection of chair socks has grown significantly. IMG_2296_218 made, only 14 to go! My sister’s project bag has been knitted and has handles attached. I bought the fabric for the lining and it’s GORGEOUS so now I only need to line the bag and it will be done and I can show it to you! And best of all, yesterday I booked a room for a short getaway next month. I get to go meet a dear Facebook friend who I’ve never met in person and I can’t wait! It’s only one night but it’s better than nothing and I think we will have a marvelous time.

Now, if you will excuse me, I’m going to go find a quiet place to play with yarn. I need to restore some sanity.

Crochet Chair Socks

Yarn and I had some good quality time together yesterday. This time it was crochet, not knitting. My MIL requested some chair socks and even provided the yarn, so I’m providing the manual labor. I’ve got eight socks done…only 24 more to go! IMG_2284I’m using this pattern but doing variations on the stripes to keep it interesting. I’ll do two in each stripe pattern, and I’ll probably end up repeating more. The yarn is Red Heart, sturdy and washable. They’re super fast to make and make for great TV crocheting.

And here’s today’s puppy pic. Every morning they need to spend about an hour outside running around, then they come in and nap wherever I am. They don’t always nap together but I love it when they do. IMG_2274

Fine, you can peek

Much progress is being made on my sister’s bag. I’ve got the body done and now I’m knitting the flaps that will be used to attach the handles. It’s not the most interesting part of the knitting, but it’s still kind of exciting. So close! Since I have no other knitting-related photos to share, I’m going to post one photo of the bag. It’s inside out, though, so you can’t really see what the pattern looks like. Or maybe some of you master knitters can, I don’t know. The main thing is, my sister won’t have a clue. I like to keep her guessing. IMG_2278I don’t have more knitting to show you because it’s May, y’all. And that’s a busy time of year for people with active school-age children! We’ve had so many concerts and orientations and end-of-year events, it’s crazy. Plus there’s Mother’s Day and at least four birthdays. This past weekend we started off with an audition for the girl. It’s her third year auditioning for the Kansas City Youth Symphony. IMG_2255_2 The first year she didn’t make it, last year she was an alternate, so I have a good feeling about this year! She also auditioned for the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra this year for the first time, so I’ve got my fingers crossed that one of them works out. We only have to wait 2-3 weeks. (UGH)

That same night, she had Oscars night at school for the theater department. She was presenting an award with a friend, so they color-coordinated. And Jack had to be part of the party, too. IMG_2279Yesterday was her end-of-year recital. Her flute teacher partners with two piano teachers to present an afternoon performance, and it’s always fun to see the kids play. The little ones are so cute and earnest, and there are some older ones who are truly talented. (“Like mine,” she whispers) IMG_4238But now! Now I think we’re done. That was the last event of the school year. Now we can just relax and hang out, and I don’t have to drive 50 million people from here to there and back again. Whew. They do a lot of cool stuff, but by this time of the year, I’m tired. Not sure I’m ready for full-time at-home kids, though! I guess we’ll muddle through somehow. And I know the puppies will be happy to have their kids home. Speaking of puppies, Grace was at it again. Look what she did. Just look! IMG_2272Yep. Dog bed as chew toy. The worst part is, this was the second one she chewed up in as many days. Granted, these were both older beds and almost worn out and probably had a small hole here and there to tempt her. But still. These were Jack’s beds. Last night, I put them to bed and tried to get Jack to lay in Grace’s bed but he wouldn’t. He laid down on a towel I’d put down and Grace still got her bed. Such a gentleman he is. Now the question is, do I go to Costco and get another dog bed, or would that be tempting fate?

You Messed Up, Shonda

If you don’t watch, or don’t like, Grey’s Anatomy, please look away. This post is not for you. I will hear no comments about how TV shows are silly and it’s not real life or anything like that. You can think I’m sad and pathetic, that’s fine. But don’t tell me about it. I have feelings, and I have to share them.

Dear Shonda,

You screwed up. Big time. I’m not talking about killing off Derek. I actually understand that. I hate it, but I get it. He wanted off the show, maybe you wanted him off. There wasn’t a better way to do it. There was no good way to set it up for him to leave Meredith; that would have been even worse. And clearly you weren’t ready to end the show and let them live happily ever after. So fine, Derek has a tragic accident. I get it.

But THEN. Then what do you do? You skip over all the grieving. Within three episodes, there’s talk of everything that gets broken being healed, and Meredith is dancing with a smile on her face. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad she’s healing. We all want her to heal. But you cheated us.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who strongly identifies with Meredith. That’s why the show succeeds, right? You have to connect with the main character(s). In some small way, I *am* Meredith Gray. And my husband is my own personal McDreamy. So when Derek was dying, it felt personal. That could happen to me. That could happen to my husband. It was traumatic and horrible and painful and agonizing, and Meredith struggled to deal with it.

At least we assume she did. We have to assume, because we don’t know. She disappeared for A YEAR and we get nothing. For ten years, we have been through every step of the way with Derek and Meredith. From their first meeting to falling in love to Addison and “choose me, pick me, love me” to Post-it to Zola and Bailey to DC and back. Every single one of those things, we lived right alongside Meredith. This decade-long romance ends tragically, and it’s like a curtain falls. We don’t get to grieve WITH Meredith. We don’t get to see how she finds the strength to go on, even though that’s one of the things we love dearly about her: her will to go on.

I know, I know. This ISN’T real life. He’s just a character on a TV drama. But you can strongly connect with characters whether they’re in a book or a movie or on TV. And Meredith and Derek have been a constant for me for a very long time. This was a rough way to end it. Now, I’m not completely crazy. No, I’m not sad every day about Derek. I don’t cry about him until watching the show makes me cry. But I was invested in her, him, them. I visited them every week for a long time, so yeah, they felt like friends in a really weird way.

And Shonda, you took Meredith from us when we needed her the most. We needed to go through the process WITH her. We needed to see how it affected her, how it affected everyone else. We saw Callie cry a little bit over Derek. We saw Amelia cry over Derek, but that scene was more about Amelia’s growth. Heck, we saw April sobbing after Jackson’s ultimatum. But Meredith loses Derek, and all we get is one mini-breakdown that she cuts short. Seriously? I mean, seriously? Let the girl cry! And let us watch! We want to cry with her. We deserve to cry with her.

These last few episodes have been disappointing. You moved on way more quickly than Derek deserved. Oh, I’ll keep watching. I always do. Of course I want to see where Meredith goes next. But I think the magic is gone.


A formerly devoted viewer

Cute Baby Hats

I didn’t knit another thing yesterday after I finished Stupid Hat. I did some chores, read a bit, watched some TV without knitting (which meant I could actually see what was on the screen). I think I needed a break. So I have no progress to share on that front. Instead I’ll share the two wee baby hats I made for my brother’s new baby, which should arrive in about six weeks. … Nope, scratch that. I’ll share one of the hats I made. Apparently I didn’t take any photos of the other. IMG_2172This is the Baby Hat with Topknot but I did a ribbed brim instead of garter stitch. I used some supremely soft Plymouth Yarn Baby Bunny. It’s a delicious blend of cotton, rayon and angora. It made my Knitting SIL’s allergies flare up, so I bought it from her, and it’s a dream to knit with. I made a newborn size for this one. Nope, it won’t last long, but it’ll be cute while it does.

The other hat I made was with this same yarn, a simple striped beanie with this celery green and a soft baby blue. I aimed for a 3-6 month size, hoping it would fit him in the fall. Maybe someday I can share a photo of the baby wearing the hat. And I’m sure I’ll be making more baby things in the future too, but for cooler weather. Maybe a small car seat blanket? It’s my Crochet SIL having this baby, so I probably won’t be doing much crochet for the baby since he’ll get plenty from his mama.

With all the spring showers we’ve been getting, my rose bushes are blooming wildly. They’re lovely. Except Grace thinks they exist only as stick-makers for her chewing pleasure. Tell me again why I have two puppies?? IMG_2241I know, I know. They’re cute and loving and sweet and when I see them playing so happily with each other, or sleeping next to each other, it warms my heart. But still. Sigh. Someone suggested spraying them with my bitter spray, so that’ll be my next step. Anybody else have a good tip? Wish me luck!