Friday, December 28

More Goodies!

The holidays are certainly a busy time and this year is proving no different. I'll be happy to finally be able to spend an evening at home sitting in my favorite chair knitting. Don't get me wrong, I love family and friends, I just need a breather and time to recharge my batteries.

I'm more of an introvert than not and too much socializing takes a real toll on me. Add in eating at odd times and eating things I don't usually have causes me to not feel so good. My system needs to settle down a little, which it will, just in time for New Year's Eve.

I hope we don't have a repeat of last year. Both hubby and I were sick for several days after that party. Inevitably, someone shows up sick and spreads their germs around. I get worried when I hear people say, "I didn't feel well but I came anyway because I didn't want to miss out on the fun."

Two things I managed to squeeze in this week are a quick trip to Sheep's Clothing in Valparaiso with a friend on Wednesday and meeting up with knitting friends last night at a local coffeeshop, Indulgences Pastry Cafe.

The trip to Sheep's Clothing netted the information that they will be moving to a bigger location in the near future. With yarn stuffed almost from floor to ceiling and in every nook and cranny in the current shop, they really could use the space. I didn't get as much time to look around as I would have liked (Do I ever? LOL!). It takes me awhile to figure out what I can afford to buy as opposed to what I would like to take home. I got another skein of Lorna's Lace sock yarn in turquoise to go with 2 I already have. I should have enough yardage now for a future project. I also couldn't resist a bag of novelty yarn marked "SAVE ME" for $10. An hour's worth of untangling netted me this--5 balls of Gedifra Techno Hair Lungo (retail $11 a skein), a small ball of same, and 1 ball of lavender eyelash without a label. It will go in my stash for knitting scarves and other items. After bashing novelty yarns for the last few years, I am finally learning how to use and combine them with other yarns to make fun things.

Then here are a gift, a swap, and two books I've acquired recently. The skein in the front is a gift from my fr
iend Jess. She hit it dead on with this one. It's Handmaiden Sea Silk in my favorite colors. (I squealed when I opened it.) Even though it came with a free pattern, I'll put it aside until I find the perfect project for it. My guess is it will be used for one of my future lace designs (of which there are several more floating around in my head). Behind it on the left is a skein of Dream in Color laceweight yarn in sunrise colors and a Christmas sock kit in a cute round box. Both are a swap from my friend Sarah for a skein of my handspun yarn. The sock kit is very special as the pattern is Sarah's toe up design paired with a skein of specially dyed sock yarn and a little container of hand cream. The two books in the back---Beautiful Knitting Patterns and Knitting Around---are acquisitions from Amazon.com and Ebay, respectively. Now the only Elizabeth Zimmermann book I don't own is The Opinionated Knitter.

After a mostly green Christmas Eve and Day, it started snowing again today. At 9:30 am there was nothing on the ground. By Noon everything was covered with snow and the roads were icy. Throw in a little freezing rain this afternoon and it's a good night to stay at home.

Saturday, December 22

Christmas cards

This is what my front door looks like today. Christmas cards adorn this ugly metal door that we've never gotten around to painting. I cover it with Christmas cards as they arrive, vaguely in the shape of a Christmas tree, to make it look festive. I miss it when I take in down sometime in January.

The number of Christmas cards we receive goes down every year. I don't blame anyone for not sending cards anymore. With postage at 41 cents plus the cost of cards, the cost adds up quickly.

When we got married 15 years ago, I assigned hubby the task of sending out our Christmas cards. This helped take a little of the holiday pressure off me. And since his card list was about double the size of mine, I certainly didn't want to take in on! LOL! At one point, we mailed out over 60 cards every December. I do not want to figure out how much it cost to do that.

With the cost of everything going up, and everyone's budget feeling the pinch from property taxes (ours went up this year), gasoline prices (there's no public transportation I can use where I live), etc., even we have cut back on cards. I've sent a number of ecards but hubby hasn't wanted to. (Incomprehensible when you consider that his job is computers.) There are some really nice ecards on the web. Though there aren't as many free ones as there used to be.

Tuesday, December 18

Early Christmas presents!

Woo-hoo! Look what I got! Two early Christmas presents from my friends. Aren't these beauties?

The new Cat Bordhi sock book has some very interesting ways of constructing socks. I can't wait to try some of them out. I really need to knit myself some more wool socks.

The knitted trims book has some edgings and other trims that I've never seen before. It will be another great resource to use for designing new knitting projects. Thanks so much for the goodies!

I finished a baby hat last night and worked on one sleeve of the baby sweater. The bind off was too tight so I'm going to rip it back and try again. Only one more sleeve to go and sewing on a couple of buttons until it's done.

In looking for something else, I found an orphan baby sock I'd made a while back. If I can find the pattern I used for it I may make a mate. The trick will be locating where I put the pattern. Yes, I know, I should have stowed the pattern, the orphan sock and the rest of the yarn all in a Ziploc bag for future knitting.

Monday, December 17

Snow and booties!

My back is feeling much better. Thank you everyone for your good wishes. By Saturday night I was able to do a little knitting again. I cast on for a pair of little Robin Hood type booties. The pattern is a free one from the Bernat website called Organic Cotton Knit Booties. Since I don't happen to have any of that yarn on hand, I used Sugar & Cream worsted weight cotton. These were simple and fast to knit. I made the 3 month size and only used about 60 yards of yarn. Here's what the bootie looks like before seaming and after seaming. They're so cute!

I cast on for a hat to match the baby sweater last night. I knit my hats from the top down in the round. I start them on double points with a bit of I-cord and move to a 16" circular as soon as it is big enough around. I'll post my pattern for it one of these days. The baby sweater is done except for the sleeves. I'm having trouble with the bottom of the sweater rolling. The pattern I'm using from One Skein Wonders doesn't have you do enough garter stitch rows. I'll make a note on the pattern in case I make it again. I'm not sure what I'm going to do about the rolling edge. It may block out. If it doesn't, I'll have to stabilize the edge somehow. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

We got 8" of snow over the weekend. Once the system moved through we got some lake effect snow on top of it and it got very windy. Today, it has warmed up a bit and the sun has come out. The streets are melting which is good. Here's a pic of what it looks out our patio door and here's what's growing inside. Yes, that is a bell pepper plant with a pepper turning red. We had too many plants for our garden this year so hubby planted two of them in pots. They've been growing in our family room all summer. Soon I'll have some fresh peppers to pick. LOL! If you double click on this picture, you'll be able to see our wood pellet stove burning. It keeps this room toasty in the winter time. It used to be the coldest room in our home. Our kitties love it! The pellet stove produces so much heat that we push some of it into the rest of the house with a fan. Our furnace doesn't run much unless it gets really cold outside.

Saturday, December 15

Back pain

I have been seeing a chiropractor for most of this year. He's gotten a lot of my neck and back problems straightened out. I have a history of back problems beginning at the age of 35. It's something that runs in both sides of my family. Being involved in a number of car accidents where I was hit from behind (none my fault) and several injuries at work moving things haven't helped.

Unfortunately, yesterday I managed to hurt myself again. How can the simple act of lifting a phone book and stretching over to lay it down cause so much pain? Well, that phone book was heavy and I did hyperextend and overstretch my arm. As I did it I felt a flash of red hot pain run down my back. Oh, no!

After laying down for a few minutes, the pain didn't go away and I could feel it with every breath I took. I knew I had a rib tip out for that to happen. Ask me how I know? LOL! Not good.

My chiropractor closes at noon on Friday so I quickly called to ask if I could get in. They said to come right away. It was not easy driving myself to his office but I managed. The injury is on my right side so every movement of that arm made it hurt even more. Dr. Bryan told me I had thrown out several vertebrae and rib tips. No wonder I hurt! After the regular therapy didn't do the job, he resorted to more force. I heard and felt everything pop back into place. It still hurts but not nearly as much as it did. It would have been much worse today if I had done nothing. I've had enough past experience to know. I can't do much of anything until this settles down and starts to heal. It's better today though I'm stiff and sore. Help is only a phone call away if I need it this weekend. Now there's a caring doctor for you! Otherwise, I have another appointment on Monday.

No knitting yesterday and maybe not today either. :-( I'm working on a baby sweater for a friend who is due in January. Still have the sleeves to do and maybe a hat and booties to go with. (Michelle, there is no way this is going to be a surprise. LOL!) The stole is about 60-70% done. I've measured off what I need for the final edging and tied a marker on my yarn. Now all I have to do is keep knitting in pattern until I reach that point. Rectangular stoles always take longer to knit than triangles.

Snow is headed our way again. I'll take it over freezing rain and ice any day. They don't know yet how much we'll get out of this storm though starting tonight it could get nasty. I'm happy staying home where it's warm and hope I can start knitting again soon.

I really feel for the people in Oklahoma and other states who are still without power. Snow is adding insult to injury and slowing down the repairs to their electricity. Such a widespread outage and bad roads means you're on your own until repairs are completed. There's no running out to the nearest store if you need something. The Weather Channel and the Red Cross both advise having a safety kit and a plan for disasters. It's good advice.

I emailed copies of the Tweets pattern out to the contest winners last Monday, December 10. Two of them were successfully received. The third person is having problems getting it. I sent a second copy out to her today. Please check your junk, spam, or bulk email box if you don't find it in your regular mail.

Monday, December 10

Tweets, a toy for cats, is here!

The poll has closed and "Tweets" won with 17 votes. Monty (the dead parrot) finished with 11 votes and Fly Boys with 6. I've emailed copies of the finished two-page pattern to the winner and the 2 runners up. Enjoy!

These toys are a fast knit and should take less than 30 minutes to make. The little birds are about 3.5" high. I've included 3 different beak/bills (curved, long, short) and how to make it with or without wings. It only takes a few yards of worsted weight scrap yarn to make a Tweet.

The body is knit flat in garter stitch. The beak and wings are knit in as you go. The legs are added at the end. You fold the bird body along the front edge and seam down the back of the head, tail and bottom. Since it's worked in garter stitch, seaming is easy. Just weave the yarn back and forth pulling the purl bumps on each side together.

The two-page pattern costs only $2.00. 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.

Saturday, December 8

Ice and freezing rain predicted

Our weather forecast for the next 2 or 3 days does not look good. Starting after midnight tonight, we could get significant freezing rain and ice. Once this crazy front moves in it is supposed to stall out for several days. Which, of course, means an even greater chance of ice. A local weather forecaster is predicting 1/3" of ice tomorrow.

It only takes 1/2" of ice to break trees and bring down power lines. This has me worried.

I still remember several years ago when we had an ice storm in January. Everything was encased in ice. All day we heard nothing but crack, slide, and thud as the trees near us broke under the weight of the ice. Yes, the heaviest branches hitting the ground made out house shake. Thank God we didn't have any trees over our home!

We were lucky in that storm to only lose our electricity for about 4 hours. Others in the area were out for days. Not what you want when the temperatures are below the freezing point. :-(

We'll hunker down and hope for the best.

Thursday, December 6

And the winner is...

Well, actually there are three--Tanya, Sue, and Chris. Their submissions were so good that I couldn't choose between them. So I've decided that all three will receive a free copy of the bird toy pattern once I have a name to put on it.

My three favorites are: Tweets, Monty (the dead parrot), and Fly Boys.

To help me choose the best name, I've created a poll on the right hand side of my blog.

Please vote once for what you think is the most appropriate name for the pattern.
(Please play fair and don't ask all your friends to vote for the name you submitted. Thanks!)

The poll closes on Monday at Noon (EST).

Wednesday, December 5

Stole progress report

Here's a peek at the new lace pattern I have in the works. This picture is a rough pin block so you can get an idea of the design. I've completed 4 repeats of the chart. I'm knitting it with some merino handspun from my stash. I'll keep knitting until I have just enough to do the final edging. I'm very pleased with how the design is turning out.

I'm calling it Promenade for the motifs that stroll along the length of the stole as well as the meandering zigzags formed between them. (Though I could just as easily call it Meandering Paths.)

After combing through every book I have for lace edging patterns (and everything I could find on the web), I ended up designing my own from scratch. It's a nice wide border that will only be on the ends of the stole. The edging repeats the heart that appears inside each motif and adds a fern leaf point. It's all in garter stitch and knits up quickly.

The stole starts by knitting the edging and then picking up the body stitches in the slipped stitches on the edging. The body is knit in stockinette, purling the WS rows . Knit the body as long as you like (or as long as my yarn allows LOL!). Then cast on for the edging and bind off (cast off) 1 body stitch with every other row of edging you knit.

This pattern I'll rate as intermediate because of the edging and the fact that some of the wrong side body rows have pattern stitches to knit. They're not all straight purling. It's those extra stitches that give the motifs those elongated points.

I got the idea for this stole from the Janus stitch pattern in the Barbara Walker books. I deconstructed it and played with the resulting motifs.

I'm considering offering this as a charted only design. I don't knit lace from line-by-line instructions and it's not easy to write them up. Alternately, I may offer two versions with the charted one costing less than the one with both charted and line-by-line directions.

I'd be curious to know what you think of this idea. Reactions? Comments?

Monday, December 3

Coming soon...and a blog contest

I have a new cat toy pattern! It's a little bird.

The birds are about 3.5" high x 3.5" long. There are options to make it with or without wings and with a curved or a straight beak.

It is knit flat on straight needles. You fold the completed bird along the front edge and seam down the back of the head, tail and bottom. Since it's worked in garter stitch, seaming is easy. You just weave the yarn back and forth pulling the purl bumps on each side together.

While it's being test knitted by Marti, I've decided to have a blog contest to give it a name. Send me your suggestions and I'll pick my favorite.

The winner will receive a free copy of the pattern.

The contest is open until Noon (EST) on Thursday. You may enter as many times as you like. Email your name suggestions to junkyarn AT yahoo DOT com with a subject line of Bird Contest.

Saturday, December 1

Fingerless computer mitts

I recently stumbled upon the project I made with my first spindle spun yarn. It's a pair of fingerless mitts I wear when I use the computer during cold weather. (Today is one of those days. Brr!) If you take a close look at the picture, you'll see that one of the mitts biased when I knit it. (This is something that an unbalanced single ply of handspun would do.) Yup, I made a mistake plying the yarn. I couldn't remember which direction to spin when I plied it. LOL! I don't remember what kind of wool I used either. Regardless, the yarn knitted up fine, the mitts are warm and that's really all that matters.

Here's the pattern I designed for them. They are simple, fast, and easy to knit. The second picture is of one of the pairs I've made and gifted to friends and family. I made it with Paton's Look at Me yarn. The scrap yarn was from a baby sweater I had made. (I know, I know, just call me frugal and the scrap yarn queen. LOL!)

These mitts will just cover your knuckles and leave your fingers and your thumb free. You can try them on as you go to see if they will fit the way you want them to. Feel free to make them longer or larger or add your favorite stitch pattern to make them yours.

FINGERLESS COMPUTER MITTS

Free pattern is now available through my Ravelry pattern store.