Archive | October 2017

Back to Knitting

My socks and I have reunited, but our relationship isn’t quite as obsessive as it was a while back. I do still work on it when I’m on my lunch break at work, or if I need an easy travel project, but I’m on the same pair I started almost a month ago, and I’m not even halfway through the second sock. That’s slow for me. Still, I’m making progress, and I’m quite happy with how they’re turning out. Unfortunately, I’ve discovered something sad: some wool socks make my feet itchy. Especially when it gets warm in the afternoon and my feet get too warm. There were a couple of days when I had to get them off as soon as I got home from work because I couldn’t stand the itchiness anymore. A couple of pairs are worse than others, so I’ll probably give those to the girl. And otherwise I’ll just save the wool socks for the coldest days and hope for the best. I don’t want to stop knitting socks forever, and I do like wearing the fun yarn on my feet.

My other current project is just about as mindless, it’s the Chocolate Diamonds Cowl with my Fiber Arts Expression purple silk/wool. This is my luxurious knitting, all soft and squishy and…well, silky.  It’s about halfway done and growing quickly. I’m hoping that I’ll have some time in the evenings this week to get back to my Wonder Woman Wrap. I want to wear it soon, now that it’s getting colder. Plus it would be the perfect thing to wear on Halloween night, while I greet trick-or-treaters!

Fixer-Uppers Wear Me Down

Guys, I need to unburden myself. I have worries, many of them. I am afraid we made a colossal mistake when we bought this house two years ago. It was in the neighborhood we wanted, a price we could afford, the size and features we wanted, and we thought we had the time/energy/mental stamina to do all the work it needed. And it needs a LOT. More than we realized when we bought it. I’m not sure our inspector gave us a thorough idea of some of the bigger issues, and I’m not sure if he did and we ignored it because we were in a hurry.

So now we’re in a house with an old home addition that wasn’t done right to begin with, and probably needs to be torn down and rebuilt. When it was done, the rooms it added weren’t done as conditioned living space, so at least tearing it down doesn’t lose us any square footage. But spending the money to tear it down doesn’t really add to the value, so without doing a rebuild, we’re afraid it’s just throwing money away. And doing the rebuild in a way that adds valuable living space feels prohibitively expensive. (We’ve gotten two bids. Both daunting.)

It needs to be painted, badly. The pet-stained hardwood floors need to be repaired and refinished. The radiators and boiler need to be removed. The upstairs bathroom needs to be gutted and redone. The kitchen was redone, but with cheap materials, so it’s aging quickly. The front porch needs a new floor, and possibly joist repair underneath, plus new stairs and railings. The fireplace needs to be redone. The landscaping sucks. There’s not good storage. And on and on, with a myriad of smaller jobs that stare me in the face day after day.

Add onto that the unexpected projects that have come up since we bought it: the existing chain-link fence was too short and needed to be replaced with an attractive picket fence. Raccoons in the attic and wall. A small tree losing limbs and needing a trim. A large tree losing a large section, and probably needing to be removed. A dishwasher that died. Insulation that needed to be added.

It all wears me down. Wears me out. When I first saw this house, I loved it. I loved the traditional style, the hardwood trim, the pocket doors, the high ceilings, the wraparound porch. I think I still love those things, but they’re overshadowed by everything else. This house has a lot of potential to be stunning. I can almost see it in my mind’s eye. I just don’t know if we can be the people to get it there. Aside from the money, I think about the hassle of renovation. We have three big dogs; taking away their access to the backyard, even temporarily, would make life really difficult. We have two kids; taking away access to the kitchen for weeks would be annoying. One of our dogs is not friendly to strangers. He doesn’t bite, but barks. A lot. Managing all the workmen coming in and out would be stressful. My husband and I manage home repair jobs in different ways that have resulted in conflict in the past, and I don’t want to be fighting for the next five years.

And then, as weird as it may sound, I have emotional connections to my homes, and my connection with this one has soured. I broke my foot in this house. My husband and I struggled more than we ever have while living here, partly because of how we went about moving here. We’re doing all right now, we’re fine, but now it’s connected for me. It’s like, with the old house, that’s where I lived when we lost my dad, my father-in-law, my husband’s grandfather, my dad’s dog. Moving for me felt like a fresh start, a clean slate. So now, with all that’s happened just in two years, I don’t love this house anymore. I don’t love it enough to stress us all out to fix it up. I don’t love it enough to pour a ton of money into it, when that money could go somewhere else.

So what do we do? Right now, the husband is more flexible than I am. Big renovation doesn’t scare him off, although he does want to make sure we could get our money back when we sell if we rehab. Me? I want to move. I’m ready to go NOW. I could pack up and walk away without a second thought, if we could get out what we paid. I want a newer house, one that won’t need huge home repair jobs in the next five years. One that’s built to have a big TV in the living room. One with good-sized closets. One with a functional kitchen and a laundry room. One with modern windows that don’t whistle with every cold wind.

I don’t know what’s next. We’ve reached out to a realtor to explore our options, and I’m doing my best to be open-minded. Of course, I’m also online looking at houses for sale, but that’s to be expected, right?

Sigh. Anyone want a house?

Nerd Girl Field Trip

I’m lucky enough to have a fantastic indie dyer only thirty minutes away: Nerd Girl Yarns. Her colorways are exactly what you’d expect (Doctor Who, Harry Potter, superheroes, and much more), the colors are gorgeous, and the yarn is always a treat to knit with. In the recent past, she’s been primarily an online seller, without a brick and mortar retail location, but she’s in a new space now and had a Grand Opening this weekend. Of course I had to go, and I haven’t gotten to hang out much with Knitting SIL lately, so she joined me. We weren’t disappointed: the new location was beautiful!

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The wood glass-fronted cabinets are stunning, especially filled with yarn. She also carries a bit of tea, so we saw tea accessories too. When you first go in, you see a cabinet full of crystal teacups and flasks, each holding yarn.

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But as pretty as it all was, we were there mainly for one thing: yarn!

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Her selection of already-dyed yarn is limited, but it’s all tempting. There was pima cotton in bright pinks and oranges and yellows, plus plenty of merino in a variety of colors. There were also tie-dyed sock knitting bags, which I resisted (It was hard), and dyed wool for spinning. (Is that called roving? I don’t know.)

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There was plenty more bare yarn, and if I dyed my own yarn, this would be the place to go, since she had all different weights, plus some with sparkle!

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So what did I get?? This was my little impulse purchase, rainbow scissors up by the register. Love them!

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This is merino worsted in a color called Too English to Say Anything. I think I want to look for a solid or two to go with it.

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Originally my goal was to only buy one skein. But then I found this one, a fingering weight called Queen of the Amazons, and of course it had to come home with me.

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It was a fun little field trip in an otherwise busy weekend. I’m glad we were able to squeeze it in!

Stupid Hat

I had plans for the weekend: I was going to go to Nerd Girl Yarns’ Grand Opening at her new studio. Then I was going to go to a band competition and out to dinner with the mother. In between all those things, I was going to finish a proofreading job. Well, I can make plans all I want, and then life happens.

I’m closing my Etsy shop, as I mentioned before, and have everything marked down to cost, basically, to clear stuff out. These are things that have been hanging around for a year or so, packed up in bags in my craft show supply tub. I sold a hat last week, and in a hurry before work one morning, I packed it up and sent it out. Last night, I heard from the buyer: the hat had a big hole in it. What?? So now I’m embarrassed that I didn’t check it, worried that either I didn’t do a good job finishing it or I have moths, and disappointed that I sent out an inferior product to a customer, regardless of the price. Of course I’m replacing it, but I don’t have more of that yarn, so that means an emergency trip to my LYS to get the yarn, and then emergency hat knitting to make a replacement hat. And all of that means I will probably lose money on that sale. (If you’re interested, check out what’s left here. Low prices and free shipping!)  BUT. It’s the right thing to do, and it doesn’t matter that I’m closing my shop, I’m still going to do the right thing. But. Sighhh. At least it’s a quick pattern in bulky yarn, and I do love to knit hats. This can be my band competition knitting tonight. Gotta look for the silver lining, right?

I’ve been doing some service projects instead of selfish knitting, so not too much knitting to show. I actually switched to crochet this week. We’re working on a Welcome Blanket at work, with several of us making squares that we’ll sew together into a blanket. The blankets will go on display for short time and then distributed to refugees. You can read more about the project here. I’ve got four squares done; our theme is black plus a bright color. Of course some of mine had to be purple!

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I’ll be sure to share a photo of the finished blanket! It’s due by November 4th, so we’re trying to work fast. What’s your favorite service project?

WIP Wednesday

Okay, so I haven’t gone off socks completely. I got back in the groove of my pretty purple and pink sock, and made it past the heel. And since I frogged and restarted with a different pattern (my fave, Vanilla Latte socks) I’m not even dreading the second sock! In fact, I’m wanting to get this pair finished quickly so I can wear them!Also, I have not finished Wonder Woman yet. I knit on it a lot over the weekend and made good progress…

But by Sunday afternoon I needed a break, and as I predicted, I got distracted by the purple yarn. I have four new skeins of purple to play with, and I chose the Expression Fiber Arts yarn solely because it was the one skein of worsted, and I wanted something to balance all the fingering weight yarn I’ve been knitting with. I found a pattern designed for this yarn, a lovely simple cowl that should show off the yarn and be super cozy to wear.Pattern is called the Chocolate Diamonds Cowl, and it’s free and really simple. The yarn is, of course, delicious to knit with, since it’s 50% silk and 50% wool. I’m guessing this cowl will get a lot of wear this winter!

Pupdate: Duncan

Do you remember that I adopted a new dog?? Well, I know you’re probably itching for an update (haha probably not but I’m going to blab about him anyway) so here goes: he’s awesome!

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I mean, he’s also kind of a butthead at times (he likes to push the other dogs out of the way to get attention) but he balances it out pretty well. He loves attention, loves pets and belly rubs, loves to flop on top of me when I go to bed at night and snore away. He doesn’t chew things up (although he did try to bite my Wonder Woman shawl while I was working on it last weekend. We had a serious conversation after that incident. I think he understood the gravity of the situation and it has not happened again).He loves to play fetch, is the only dog to play with a ball, and he gets my dignified lazy pup Jack out roughhousing and wrestling. And when Jack is tired of it, Duncan moves on to Grace, who is delighted to have someone who will run around and around and around the back yard with her. As I mentioned before, he’s had a bit of a potty issue, leaving us a puddle when we’re gone all day at work/school. I really don’t want to kennel him for a variety of reasons, so we’ve been working with it and hoping it’s partly because he’s adjusting to living with us and partly because he is still a little young. We’ve had a few dry days, so I’m encouraged that we’re at least moving in the right direction. And I am encouraged for another reason too. When we adopted him, he had a small wart on his muzzle, and they said they hadn’t tried to remove it because he was recovering from kennel cough. The wart kept growing, and tiny ones popped up around it, and he had this really gross, bulbous growth. It didn’t seem to bother him at all, but then the more he played with the other dogs, and the bigger it got, it started getting…slightly injured. We took him to the vet and found out he has papilloma virus, similar to what humans get, but the dog version can’t be passed to humans. It’s apparently more common in young dogs, often regresses on his own, and surgery wasn’t really recommended. Okay, fine, we could wait it out. Well, the dogs kept playing, and the wart got injured again, and looked really red and painful, even though he was acting fine. Back to the vet, who said they could remove the warts, but it wasn’t hurting anything as it was. Okay, fine, we’ll give it a few more days and see what happens. That was about a week ago, and it’s gotten so much better! The main wart is much smaller, the tiny ones are almost gone, and the one on his paw is much smaller! I hate to be superficial, but he really is so much cuter without a large wart on the side of his face. And I am loving having three dogs. Yeah, we get more dirt and dog hair on the floors. Yeah, we’re spending more on food. But every day I come home to these three happy pups and my stress disappears. We sit out in the backyard and I love to watch them frolic. I come out of the bathroom and there are three smiling doggos waiting for me. (Yeah, that one’s a little weird, but still cute.) They’re noisy and messy and there’s always at least one dog underfoot…and I love it.

But three is my limit, I’m pretty sure.

Working on Wonder Woman

I’ve been knitting on a sock during lunches, but that’s not the fun knitting. The fun knitting has been the Wonder Woman Wrap, which has grown significantly this week! I managed to get both side stripes done, short rows and all. I was putting it off, afraid it would be tricky or confusing or time-consuming, and it wasn’t at all. The first side went faster, since it was the knit side.

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I still don’t love knitting them, but I will concede that they are not difficult, and they can help create some awesome shapes.

The second side was all purling, and my gauge was slightly different. But once it’s all knit, I don’t think it’ll be too noticeable. Right now I just wish I could spread it out and see how it’s coming along! This is as good as it gets, though:

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Maybe I can finish it this week…if I don’t get distracted by all the purple yarn I wound yesterday, that is!