Wednesday, January 31

More snow and a dropped stitch

It hasn't stopped snowing for long since it started on Saturday night. Our official measurement taken last night with a yardstick is 13". See how much more snow is on this table since Monday's post? Hubby and I cleared the driveway at 10:30 pm last night when we got a break in the lake effect snow. I had on wool socks, a down-filled coat, and 2 pair of wool mittens. The only thing that got cold were my toes. I HAVE to knit myself a pair of heavy wool boot socks.

This morning, our outside thermometers disagreed reading 1 degree and -3. However you look at it, it's cold! It is partly sunny today which is helping melt the roads a bit. They've been snow packed and icy since Sunday. Unfortunately, more snow is predicted tonight, tomorrow, and as far out as the weather forecasts go. We're paying for all that nice weather we had in December and early January.

I've made some progress on the Mystery Pi shawl. I don't know if I will get Clue #3 done before the next clue goes up on Friday. 288 stitches in lace pattern takes awhile to get around. That's 36 repeats of a 9 stitch lace pattern. You don't get to rest on odd rows and just knit. You still have to count because there is one K2tog in the odd rows. I freaked last night when I found a dropped stitch about 12 rows back. How I dropped a stitch when I have stitch markers between every pattern repeat, I don't understand! I usually find any mistake when I knit the next row and correct it.

The Traveling Vine pattern is not one I'd care to attempt ripping only a few stitches out and reknitting. Though I have successfully used this trick on less complicated lace patterns. It's either rip back 12 rows and 3,456 stitches, or see if I can fix it. I'm afraid if I tinked that many rows, this might become a UFO.

Once I calmed down, I compared the dropped stitch section versus the section next to it. They look the same except for a loose stitch. So I threaded up a needle with a little of my project yarn and stitched that baby invisibly into place. All there is to mark the spot is a knot on the back and two yarn ends hanging down. I'll leave them there for now. Once I block the shawl, I'll weave the ends in and cut off the excess.

Yesterday, I ordered an extra ball of yarn for this project. The one I'm working with is shrinking fast and I still have the largest part of the shawl to knit. I hope it comes before I need to start ball #2. If the dyelot is different, I'll have to alternate knitting a row or two from each ball so they will blend in. Cross your fingers!

Monday, January 29

Winter Wonderland

Woo-ee, was it cold this morning! Nine little degrees, though it may have gotten even colder than that. Until Saturday night, when it started snowing, we'd only had a couple of inches of snow for the entire winter. So NOT a typical winter for us in northern Indiana. Now it looks much more like winter here with 8+" on the ground and more coming down. See how much snow is on the table on the right? (And don't ask me why hubby didn't put it away last fall.) It's a lot lighter out than these pictures show. I'm guessing they came out so dark because of how hard it was snowing when I took them.

The Mystery Pi shawl is growing larger. I'm about halfway through clue #3. Now that we're up to 288 stitches per row, it takes awhile to knit one row. When the stitches double the next time, I'll have to hunt up a longer circular needle. I'm beginning to get nervous about running out of yarn.

I'm taking some time to do some design work on a hamster cat toy pattern. I've knit a least 3 versions so far and still haven't got the look I want. Pookie stole one of them to play with. At least he likes it! The weird thing is I had intended to work on a idea I had for a worm toy, not a hamster. Several years ago, I played around with a hamster pattern but never finished it. We'll see if I can make it work this time around.

Saturday, January 27

Another Cat Toy Pattern --- Crocheted "Rollies"

Here's another of my cat toy patterns. These only take a minute to make. If you can do a chain stitch, double crochet and half double crochet stitches, you can make these simple ball toys.

CROCHETED CAT “ROLLIES”

Crochet hook size G or H
About 4 yards worsted weight yarn (scraps are good)
Large eye jumbo tapestry needle
Cotton balls

Pattern is now available through Ravelry.

Friday, January 26

Elfin Slippers

Solitaire likes the pair of Elfin Slippers I finished last night. This is the third pair I've made. The first two pairs went to my Mom for Christmas. She loves them because they keep her feet warm. This pair is earmarked for my SIL Mindy. If you like easy, mindless knitting, these garter stitch slippers are for you. The slipper looks like a letter "T" before you sew up the toe and heel seam. I used a smaller needle size than the pattern recommends and felt them slightly. I haven't felted this pair yet. One ball of Patons Merino Classic Wool (223 yards) will make a pair with a little left over. The color I used is Regency, a variegated red and pink colorway. I like knitting slippers in warm colors. It may all be psychological, but I think they keep your feet warmer than cold colors like blue. The Elfin Slippers pattern is by Amy O'Neill Houck. You can find it for sale here as a downloadable file.

Thursday, January 25

Oh, what a pretty yarn!

My friends, Elizabeth S. and Liz M., came over yesterday to spin and knit with me for a couple of hours. The time flew by way too quickly. Elizabeth is working on a hap shawl and a felted bag. Liz brought her spinning wheel. She's working on spinning some Dorset wool into sock yarn. It's some of her hand dyed fiber. When she got tired of spinning, she switched to working on socks from her handspun in her signature Chocolate Princess colorway. While she was here, Liz delivered the roving she'd dyed for me. I was shocked, since I only took it to her last Thursday! She's speedy! The colors are all beautiful. I plyed the BFL and skeined and washed it in the evening. It dried overnight hung near our wood pellet stove. Isn't it pretty? Out of 4 ounces of combed top, there are 404 yards of lusciousness just begging to be knit. It's a spun a little thicker than the merino. It was such a joy to spin that I let it tell me what weight yarn it wanted to be.

Tuesday, January 23

Fighting kitties & one bobbin done

I finished spinning half of the BFL top last night. Here's what's left of the roving and a bobbin full of singles. Pooka decided he needed to be in the picture too. If Mom finds it interesting, so does he. See how he's grown and his fur is so shiny?

Boo and Pooka are getting along well and playing together. Unfortunately, Boo has taught him how to tackle a kitty and bite them in the belly. To Boo's horror, Pooka uses this move on him. That's what he was doing here (Boo on left, Pooka on right). Boo isn't very happy about it as you can see. Click on the picture for a closer look.

My friend, Elizabeth, is talking about starting a prayer shawl ministry group that will meet once a month. I will definitely join. We've found some simple shawl patterns to knit that aren't too boring or too complex. I want to help others get through their trying times and pay back some of the good wishes and prayers sent my way over the past 4-5 months. All that healing, positive, energy really does help. Since last September, it has been one family medical emergency after another. My 82-year-old FIL hurt his back and couldn't get around or take care of my MIL. My MIL was diagnosed with colon cancer and had surgery to remove a sizeable tumor in October. After several months of not feeling well, my Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer in October. She had surgery to remove part of one lung in late November. My Uncle John died and I couldn't travel out-of-state for the funeral because I was needed here. My relatives understood though it upset me that I couldn't be there for them. My Aunt Maxine was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery to remove it a week ago. It has spread to her lymph nodes. She will have radiation treatments starting soon. And, if that wasn't enough, my MIL was taken to the emergency room on January 6 and almost died. She is home from the hospital but is not doing as well as we would like. Another real concern for me is that the rest of my family---my Mom, Dad, and both of my brothers---have all had cancer in the last 10 years. All four are doing well and the prognosis is good. But...you still worry about them and yourself too. Hubby and I wouldn't have made it without the support of friends and family. Knitting, spinning, and kitties have helped me keep my sanity too. :-)

Monday, January 22

I love Blue Faced Leicester!

I started spinning the BFL roving that I got from Liz last week. It's not roving, it's top! The fibers are all aligned which makes for an easy spin. It's like spinning butter! So much easier than the inch worm spinning I had to do with the turquoise merino. I'm stripping the BFL it into thin lengths to preserve the colorway. It's luscious in pinks, orange, and brown. I'm going to love the finished yarn!

I finished clue #2 on the Mystery Pi shawl. It's a long time until Friday when they post the next clue. I've placed a button in the sidebar (to the right) if you'd like more information about joining this group.

Sunday, January 21

Socks are finished!

I finished my second pair of socks using the Queen Kahuna Crazy Toes & Heels book. This pair I made a little smaller and they fit even better than the first ones. Store bought socks have never fit my feet. Usually the heels end up above my ankle. LOL! Even though I learned to knit socks several years ago, it's only since I got this book that I've been able to customize socks to fit my foot. My goal is to fill my sock drawer with handknit socks. That could take awhile if I only knit one pair a month. That's doable though as I don't want to give up knitting other things. I've got quite a stash of sock yarn to choose from as I've been collecting it for several years. I'll probably cast on another pair soon.

Saturday, January 20

Mystery Shawl KAL

This week, I joined a mystery shawl group run by Bo Peeps Wool Shop, home of the yummy Goddess Knits shawl patterns. I knit the Mystery Diamond pattern last year and it's a real beauty. Someday I'll have to put a picture of it up. I digress. Click here for details on how to join the KAL. We'll be doing several shawls in different shapes. The first clue is out and the second one was posted yesterday. It's a Pi shawl! I stash dived for yarn and got it on the needles last night. I used Emily Ocker's circular cast on to start it. It's a bit fiddly for the first few rows on double points. I moved it to a circular needle as soon as it was large enough. I finished clue #1 and started on clue #2. So far, I really like the pattern! The yarn I'm using is Lisa Souza's Sock! Merino yarn in Mulberry. It's not a one color yarn but has subtle color changes and variations in it with hints of lavender along with the mauve and pink tones.

Friday, January 19

Yarn bands for handspun

Julie posted a comment yesterday asking about my yarn bands. They're something I put together. My handspun was piling up and I'd forget how many yards was in a skein what type of wool it was, etc. I decided what I would like on my yarn labels and laid it out in Word Perfect with a nice font. I print them sideways on a letter size sheet. I usually use acid-free scrapbooking paper. Cut them apart, fill them out, and tape them around your skeins. I gave a bunch of them out to spinning friends at a recent Spin In we had.

If you want to print these out for yourself, copy the jpg file to your computer. Open your word processing program and set the smallest margins for the page that you can. Now insert the jpg file into the page and size it to full size. You should be ready to print! Enjoy!

Thursday, January 18

Have I lost my mind?

Is it possible to have too much spinning fiber? LOL! I think we all know the answer to that! It's not possible for any knitter or spinner to have too much yarn or fiber in their stash. Though recently, when I was going through my roving stash, I noticed how much plain cream colored wool roving I had collected. Now, I love color and I doubt I'll ever sit down and spin up a pound of cream color roving. So what was I thinking when I bought all of this? And what am I going to do with almost 6 pounds of it?

Hum, don't I have a friend who loves to dye roving? Yes! Call Liz and she says she'll be happy to dye it for me. I packed up 4 huge bags of roving, collected my friend Elizabeth (not the same one), and off we headed for Liz's house. When we arrived she had the dining room table covered with her handspun yarn, handdyed roving and yarn. She twisted our arms so hard that a lot of it had to come home with us. LOL! Or would you believe it just jumped into our bags or followed us home? Yikes! I delivered 5+ pounds of roving to Liz to dye and brought home a couple of pounds of roving and sock yarn. I am certifiable! The colors are much more vibrant than the picture shows. Liz is a very talented spinner and dyer. You can check out her Etsy shop, Chocolate Princess here (or click on Knit & Spin Crazy in the sidebar). Bottom left to right in picture above: merino/silk roving, superwash wool roving, 3 skeins of handdyed merino sock yarn (440 yards each). Top left to right: Blue Faced Leicester roving (4 oz), 2 skeins of merino/nylon sock yarn (231 yards each), and 2 more skeins of handdyed merino sock yarn.

I finished the turquoise merino I've been spinning. Here it is. It's been plyed, skeined, washed, and is ready to knit. Out of 3 ounces of fiber I got 531 yards of fingering weight (or thinner) yarn. I'm not sure what I'll do with it. If I don't use it myself, I may gift it to a non-spinning friend, or sell it. The next fiber on my wheel may be the BFL roving from Liz. The colorway is so luscious in red, orange, pink, and brown.

Sunday, January 14

Save Time---Spin & Ply at the Same Time!

Tammy Rizzo posted a great tip on the Spinfree list about how to use a high whorl drop spindle with a hook to spin and Navajo ply at the same time. Normally, when you get an arm's length of single, you wind on and keep spinning. With her technique, you stop at this point and Navajo ply what you've spun. Then wind on the plyed yarn and spin more singles. When your spindle is full, you have finished yarn, ready to use! You can read all the details about her technique in message 22062 on Spinfree. I'm very interested in this technique and may have to try it out with both a spindle and my wheel!

We got a little freezing rain overnight. Thankfully, we didn't get much. Just enough that it coated all the trees and wires. It's melting quickly. I do hate ice storms. We had a bad one here in January about 4 years ago. We were lucky and only lost our power for a few hours. The most trying part was having my inlaws move in for 2 days and nights. My MIL was quite vocal about her unhappiness at being forced out of her home by the cold and lack of power. :-( Even though I dearly love them both, it was not a comfortable situation. My younger brother was moving between two houses at the time and neither house had power for a week. One of our neighbors lost most of the big trees on his property. It was crack, whoosh, crash all day. Some limbs were so big we even felt them hit the ground. If you ever hear the sound of trees cracking under the weight of ice, you'll never forget it.

Saturday, January 13

Ancient kitty

The oldest of our kitties is White Kitty. He's 19. That is not a typo. He was 1 when my husband adopted him from Pet Refuge. Phil said he chose him because he was yowling so loud. He thought he'd been there for a long time. No so. His family had to give him up because of a child with allergies. White Kitty was originally christened "Mikey," but hubby didn't like it. By the time I came on the scene it was too late to rename him. He was used to being called White Kitty. He has arthritis in his spine and tail and is deaf as a post. He hollers loudly around the house and is constantly being startled and yelping when anyone "sneaks" up on him. I don't know if it's his age or arthritis, but he considers washing himself to to be optional. A few licks of his face or front paws is it. We take him to the vet to get bathed and groomed. I wouldn't dare try to bathe him. He can be dangerous. Once when I was combing him, he got so excited that he bit me in, shall we say a sensitive area, through my clothes and drew blood. No, let's not go there!

Pooka's been here 2 weeks today. It seems like he's always been here. Boo is starting to play with him. They've been chasing each other through the house for a couple of days now. This morning they ran under and over our bed about 5 am. The rugs are constantly messed up and there are toys everywhere. Pooka trots around a lot with a toy in his mouth. He's unearthed toys I haven't seen in years. I haven't a clue where he's finding them.

I'm still working on the turquoise merino. I've almost finished a bobbinful. It is slow and tedious spinning. I'll be glad when I can ply it. The second sock is started and a couple inches are finished. I may work on it more tonight.

Friday, January 12

Ebay needle bargain

I love the old Susan Bates Quicksilver circular needles for lace knitting. You remember, the ones that were made made in one piece from gray nylon? (The new ones are metal with a teflon coating and the points aren't as nice.) Of course, since I like them, they don't make them anymore. I've been collecting them from Ebay for quite some time. I won an auction last week that had a couple of pairs in it. I didn't know how good a bargain I got until the package arrived yesterday. The auction only listed 3 sizes of needles and just a few pair. From the pictures (on the left) I could see there was more there than that. To the right is a picture of the back of the packages. For under $10, I got 14 sets of circulars and 26 double points in a range of sizes from 3 mm to 3.75 mm. Two of the 3 mm circulars are 9" and 11" long with metal cables. I've never seen any this short before. Some I'll keep but others will be finding a new home soon.

Thursday, January 11

Yarn sale!

I go wild when I hear these words, especially when it's 65% off! I got all this at Erica's for about the regular price of the Lavish Lace book. Yum, more lace knitting patterns! The two skeins of Oasis soy silk in, I Candy and Parrot, will probably become scarves. Sheep's Clothing gave me a pattern for a wave stitch scarf that I've been itching to knit. I'm not sure what the Sandnes Soft Mohair will become. The colorway of red violet, lavender, and lime green really attacted me. There's about 350 yards, enough for a small wrap, wimple, or something.

Here's the turquoise merino roving I'm spinning. It's a little neppy. I keep pulling little lumps of fiber out as I'm spinning it and the occasional bit of VM. It's a slow, inch worm, spin because this roving is not as well prepared as some I've used. That said, my singles look good and it should make a good yarn. After I got tired of fighting with it last night, I cast on for the second sock.

Tuesday, January 9

Socks again

One sock down and one to go for another pair. I'm itching to cast on the second sock. It will have to wait. Tonight I'm attending a Frog Pond Fiber Arts meeting. I'm taking my Majacraft Little Gem II spinning wheel along with me as well as a drop spindle and some fiber. A friend wants to learn to spin so I'll give her a lesson tonight. I'm currently spinning some turquoise merino roving. It's pretty dense and isn't drafting easily. I got it in trade for some alpaca I had. (I love alpaca but it doesn't love me.) My favorite spinning fiber is Shetland.

Here's a picture I took of Solitaire sleeping on a quilt in the sun. She's aptly named as she would rather be left alone to sleep her life away. I nicknamed her Little Toes because she is so petite and cute. Please don't try to cuddle her as she'll cry and scratch you to get away. We adopted her at the age of 4. She's 12 now and even though she's better, she's still not a social kitty.

Monday, January 8

Pooka pics

Say hi to Pooka, our new kitty. This one is a live wire and it's hard to catch him still long enough to get a picture. He weighed 8 pounds when we brought him home. He had fleas and a cold. After a week of plentiful food, Revolution, and antibiotics, he's gained some weight, is healthy, and his coat is soft and shiny. He's going to be a big cat once he's full grown. Right now, he's in the string bean stage and is all legs.

I stuffed and sewed up 50 more cat toys last night. I dropped some off at my vet's office today. She lets us keep a jarful of toys for sale in the lobby of her office. When hubby took Pooka, Solitaire, and White Kitty there last week, several ladies came in looking for mice toys. They were disappointed to find the toy jar empty. Hubby told them I was working on more. When I fill the jar with toys, I pick up the money for Pet Refuge. I was surprised to only find $2 in the jar. At the front desk the receptionist gave me the rest of the money. She removed the money from the jar after someone stole a $20 bill from it! Shame on them! I guess I'll have to buy a money container with a lock to discourage stealing.

Sunday, January 7

Vicki's Whale Cat Toy Pattern

I designed this pattern for charitable use (though you may knit as many toys as you like for your own cats or as gifts for other kitties). Do not sell toys made from this pattern unless all money raised from such sale is donated to your local animal shelter. If you do use this pattern to support your shelter, I'd love to hear about it.

US Size 7 or 8 needles
About 12 yards worsted weight yarn
Large eye jumbo tapestry needle
2 stitch markers

Pattern is available for $2.00 through Ravelry by clicking HERE. All money from pattern sales will be donated to Pet Refuge.

Pattern prices subject to change without notice. Check my Ravelry Store for current pattern prices. 

Friday, January 5

I'm still here...

Hubby and I caught a virus at a New Year's Eve party and have been sick all week. It's been kind of surreal what with being sick and having a new kitty dancing all over the place. Pooka did go to the vet early this week to get checked out. He had fleas (not unexpected) and has been dosed for them. He also has a cold. The vet gave us pill pockets for the antibiotics. Pooka figured that out after one dose. So we're back to one of us holding the kitty while the other one throws the pill into the back of his mouth and holds it closed until he swallows it. None of us are enjoying it! He is getting better. I hope to get some pictures taken in the next day or so and posted of him. He so wants to be friends with our kitties, especially Boo. So far we've only had minor hisses and a few growls and Boo running to hide under our bed. Everytime he hisses at the new kitty, Pooka starts crying. It is heart breaking! He so wants to be friends and play. Hopefully, Boo will come around. He's beginning to get more curious about the new addition.

Haven't got much knitting done this week because of the crud. I've been working on mice because they're fast and I have the pattern memorized. I will post the pattern soon. I want to take some pictures to show how to work the ears before I do.