Sunday, September 28

The Freedom Hat pattern

I call this the freedom hat because the pattern frees you to customize it any way you like.

This is my standard “no brainer” hat that I knit in the round from the top-down. I start with 4 stitches on double points, work a little I-cord, and then move to a 16" circular needle when it’s big enough (or use 2 circs if you like). No seaming, no fuss. When you’re done just sew in the ends. It can be knit in any weight of yarn by changing the needle size to suit your yarn. I can knit one in a couple of hours.

I’ve listed finished sizes for kids, teens, and adults. The “long” measurement below refers to the length of the hat from the top of the head to the eyebrows. This hat should cover the ears. The measurements below are unstretched. Hats should be a little snug to fit well and stay on the head. They will stretch several inches larger than their finished size.


Working on getting this pattern up on Ravelry.

Saturday, September 27

A roadtrip to Knitting Today

It has been another busy week. Things never seem to slow down. Some days I feel like a hamster on a treadmill. :-)

On Monday, I took Solitaire to the vet. Dr. Reese verified our suspicion that she has a thyroid problem. She's also lost 3/4ths of a pound. That's a lot for a little kitty. She's down to a little over 8 pounds. White Kitty (who died last year) had this same problem so we recognized the symptoms and the weight loss that goes along with it. This is a common illness in older cats. We've started Solitaire on medication to stabilize her. So far we've been successful in hiding the pills in pill pockets. It's much easier on us (and her too) if she will take them this way. We'll take her back in a few weeks for testing. If everything is ok, she will be scheduled for thyroid surgery.

Tuesday morning, hubby scheduled me to take our car in for servicing. I took my knitting along with me to pass the time. I tried to find a quiet corner out of the ear shot of the huge TV in the lounge. {{{Shudder!}}} I had a headache and I don't watch those kinds of shows.

Wednesday, I stayed home not feeling well probably due to allergies. The mold and mildew have been awful around here since we had the 11" of rain several weeks ago. I've been taking allergy meds on a regular basis lately. I caught up on some home chores and got a little knitting done.

Thursday, hubby was off. Need I say more?

Friday, I went on a road trip to a not-so-local yarn shop, Knitting Today in Wolcottville, Indiana. The shop is on the corner of SR3 and 500S in the northeastern part of Indiana (east and a little south of Shipshewanna and north of Fort Wayne). This is the heart of Amish country---very rural and scenic. The shop appears out of nowhere as you're driving the highway between cornfields. I first discovered the shop online several years ago when I was looking for sock yarn. [She does mail orders from her website.] I visited the first time in the fall of 2005.

This shop is a little jewel and is well stocked with good brands. Leann carries Noro, Elsebeth Lavold, Cascade, Brown Sheep, Mountain Colors, Smooshy, and lots more. Here's a pic of the Noro display. She has more Noro pattern books than I've ever seen in one store.

Recently, I'd gotten a postcard in the mail from Leann advertising a sale from Tuesday to Saturday. With the lure of discounts up to 50%, I called a friend and asked if she would like to ride along with me to the shop. She said yes! (It's so much more fun to go with a friend!)

We started out early on Friday morning while there were still traces of fog hanging by the sides of the road. Burning off, the sun came out. It was a very pleasant September day for a drive in the country. Our trip took us just over 1 hour from South Bend. We arrived just minutes after the shop opened for business.

I browsed the entire shop before I could make up my mind what would come home with me. It was tough. I had to decide what I really wanted versus what my budget would allow. I settled on a couple of balls of sale yarn for scarves and splurged on some turquoise blue Silky Wool (love the color), Hempathy (this is nice stuff!), Cotton Fleece (to supplement some already in my stash), and a ball of the new Silk Garden sock yarn. How could I resist the colors in the Silk Garden? It's the first time I've seen the sock version of this yarn. It is already on the needles testing out a possible new shawlette design. LOL!

These pictures should give you a hint of what the shop is like. There's more than is shown. Some of the pictures I took turned out too dark to use. That's Leann at the cash register and my friend checking out. She was more restrained than I was. She almost succumbed to the lure of yarn. She finally settled for a book of Elsebeth Lavold designs. One of them may already be on her needles from yarn in her stash. LOL! I'll ask her the next time I see her.

If you're ever in the Wolcottville area, please stop and visit. The shop is charming and the staff are very friendly.

Sunday, September 21

Swaps and secrets

I'm remiss in posting that I went to Michigan Fiber Festival in August. I don't know how I missed posting about that. My husband's cousin, Sue, was in town at the time. The three of us went together to Allegan for the festival. Unlike most years, I brought home more yarn than fiber. Either there wasn't as much fiber or I am getting pickier about what I spin. I can't even find a picture of my spoils. Oh well, they're all pictured in my Ravelry stash folder. LOL!

I did buy a 1 ounce ball of lime green roving to finish a special gift shawl. The shawl is an odd ball one made up of small amounts of fiber I had spun up since I began spinning in 2005. It's a simple top down triangle shawl as the colors were too bright to show well in lace. I spun up the lime green wool and ended the shawl with that pop of bright color. Here it is. It's a little on the bright side. I tried to tone down the pink by alternating it with cream. I gifted this to hubby's cousin Sue as a memory of her trip to South Bend and our trip to Allegan. I had hoped to finish it before she left town but was unsuccessful. Finished and blocked, I mailed it off last week. I didn't want to post about it until she received it. She says she likes it! (at least I hope so). It is a little on the wild side.

I've joined several swaps on Ravelry. I mailed this lot to Jamie, my partner on the Autumn Sock or Scarf Swap. I crocheted the sock nut to hold the skein of sock yarn in an autumn colorway I sent. (I posted more about the sock nut yesterday.) The yarn was to go with the Oak Leaf and Acorn Scarf pattern by Evelyn Clark. Other tuck-ins were a drop spindle, some fiber, spinning instructions, a jar candle with topper, an apple key chain, tea, and cat toys for her kitty. I wrapped everything in tissue paper and added fall leaves. The outside of the box I covered with leaf stickers. I couldn't resist! She really liked the package. She has been spinning madly away since I sent her the spindle and fiber. A second package of relief supplies (more wool LOL!) was sent out shortly afterwards. Jamie is hooked on spinning!

Here is what I sent to Helen, my swap partner on the Amazing Lace Swap. Malabrigo laceweight from my Red Purl (my LYS) paired with my Cascading Leaves shawl pattern. The two seemed to be a perfect fit. She's already cast on for the shawl. Jelly bellies, a lavender soap (double wrapped to keep it from smelling up the entire box), stitch markers, a 2009 page a day chocolate calendar, a pair of my favorite vintage lace knitting circulars, a blank book to record knitting projects, a tape measure, and an emery board. Can't have ragged nails when you're knitting lace! I didn't want to send chocolate as it had been so hot. (A friend of mine had a swap package ruined when chocolate melted all over everything in the box) The cat toys I included in the package had Helen's cats tearing into the box almost before she could. LOL! Kitties knew I had sent something for them too!

I'm anxiously waiting for my swap packages to arrive. I can't wait to see what they are sending me!

Putting these packages together was so much fun that I signed up for two more swaps---one through Threadbear and another one on Ravelry called Color Swap. I'm nuts!

Saturday, September 20

Updates and new projects

I've updated the 285 yards or less list. I have removed all the dead links and added new ones to replace them. All the new links are in red.

I discovered that I had posted a bunch of links in late March that never made the big list. I added those and the 66 I posted earlier this month. (Both posts are now gone since they have been incorporated into the big list.)

The total number of free pattern links on the big list is now....big drum roll...653!

I'll update the triangle shawl list one of these days.

I haven't been able to settle down to working on one project these days. I'm thinking about items for the holiday bazaar. I've been working on a crocheted kitty bed and a dishsoap bottle apron washcloth. I have a tons of ideas for new designs.

I've started another pair of toe up socks. This pair I'm starting with a garter square toe. Cat Bordhi wrote about it in her New Pathways book. Do a provisional cast on with 1/4 of the stitches you need for your sock on double points (or circs). For me this is 13 sts. Knit 26 rows (2 x 1/4 of the stitches). Pick up 13 stitches down one side of the square on another dpn (use the purl bumps that stick out on the side). Unravel the provisional cast on; put those 13 stitches on a third dpn. And finally, pick up 13 stitches along the other side on a fourth dpn. Now start working the foot of your sock in the round. Neat! This avoids the whole issue of starting with a few stitches and working increases every other row until you have enough stitches for the foot. This toe looks really weird until you put the sock on your foot. Suddenly, the toe looks just as it should!

I'm considering trying a different type of heel on my sock too. I read about it in the Up With Toes forum on Ravelry. Fleegle came up with it. She has a toe up, no flap, no hassle sock pattern on her blog that uses this heel. It has no heel flap. There's no picture on the blog post but there is on Ravelry. I like the idea of not having to knit a heel flap but it's not a short row heel either in the usual sense. If this works, with the new toe and this heel, it could vastly simply my sock knitting and speed it up even more.

I've been knitting some cute little things. This little elephant toy called Oliphaunt. It's a very fast knit. The only problem is that the sewing up directions are very sketchy. I left about 2 yards of yarn at the end for sewing. You end at the tip of the trunk. I sewed up the trunk to the legs, sewed up one front leg, came back down the inside, did the other front leg the same way, worked on the center seam to the back legs, sewed them up the same as the front and then the center seam. Stuff as you get to each section. I sewed the butt with the cast on tail. I crocheted the tail and sewed it on the butt. The pattern directs you to pick up stitches on the side of the head and knit the ears. That was a bit awkward so I knit them flat and used the yarn tail to whip stitch them to the head. I think it took longer to sew it up and do the finishing that it did to knit the entire body!

A sock nut for an autumn themed swap on Ravelry. (Hi, Jamie, if you're reading this!) This one is so cute. This is crocheted. It will hold a ball of sock yarn and your needles (though circs probably fit better than dpns unless you're using really short dpns). Wind up your sock yarn before you start on this so you will get a good fit. I modified the pattern a bit. (Why do I always seem to do this? LOL!) I didn't like how the top was fastened to the bottom of the acorn with 4 buttons nor how the handle was attached to the stem of the top. These seemed to me to put too much weight/strain on those areas. I crocheted one button for the front of the lid and sewed about 1-2" of the back of the lid to the bottom. I doubled up some yarn and crocheted a handle which I attached securely to either side.

I crocheted a herd of spider toys for cats using this pattern. She calls them an octopus but I think they look more like little spiders. I stuffed the heads with a bit of catnip and sewed up the bottom with the yarn tail. The most difficult part was getting the catnip in without going everywhere. I really like making these toys so I will have to figure out an easier way to load the catnip. The whole lot of them are now in the toy jar for sale at my vet's office. (Don't worry, I checked with Judith and gave me the ok to sell these. All the money goes to Pet Refuge, my local no-kill animal shelter. I sent the recent proceeds of the toy jar [$83.00] to them yesterday.)

Wednesday, September 17

Cleaning out the stash and craft library

It's time to clear some of this stuff out of the house so I can get into my craft room again. I've listed a lot of knitting and crochet books, magazines, and booklets for sale or trade on Ravelry. Prices for each book or lot of books is in the post. (If you think I'm asking too much for something, make a counteroffer.) You can find the post here if you are a member of Ravelry.

I will accept trades or Paypal payments. U.S.mailing addresses only.

I'm offering most of these at 50% or less of their face value. If you buy something, I will charge you actual postage costs for shipping. I will ship the cheapest way (unless you want to pay to send it faster). If it's a trade, each person pays their own postage costs to mail the item(s) to the other person.

Double click on the pictures to get a closer look.

Some books are vintage and others are new. Most are in like new condition. Some of the vintage ones are not in as good condition. Some of the oldest ones date to the 1940s and have been through a lot over the years.

If you love afghans, have I got the collection for you!

Books on socks,


the Shaun the Sheep mobile pattern from Simply Knitting,

baby patterns, and more.

Check out my trade/swap folder on Ravelry for the yarns I am destashing. If you're interested in anything, send SimpleKnits a message on Ravelry.

I'm very open to trading my stuff for yarn, fiber, or other books.

Oh, and I also have a slow speed whorl for a Majacraft spinning wheel for sale too. It's $25 with free shipping in the U.S.

Tuesday, September 16

Water, water, everywhere

I can now say that I know what it's like to experience tropical rain. After having the remnants of Hurricane Lowell (from the Pacific) train over us for several days and the leftovers of Hurricane Ike (from the Gulf) roar through us on the heels of that, I didn't think the rain would ever stop. They weather forecasters told us that after Ike got out of here (about 5 pm on Sunday) that the rain would stop. Well, it didn't. (Wouldn't you love to have a job where you can be wrong most of the time and still have a job? LOL!) We continued to get rain showers through Monday afternoon.

Our rain gauge holds 5 inches. We emptied it twice! I can only remember once when we had 5" of rain spanning two days. The total just for Saturday alone was over 6 inches in 24 hours. That broke the all time, 24 hour record for rainfall. We got even more on Sunday. The total at our house as of last night was almost 12 inches!

Our home is on land that slopes down from the road. When we had our driveway put in they angled it so the water would drain away from our house. Well, that works as long as you don't get torrential rains. By Saturday morning, water starting seeping into our basement. Given the rate the rain was falling, hubby and I knew we had to do something to divert the water from the house or we would have a flooded basement. I helped where I could though hubby did most of the muscle work. A tarp was placed over one section by the house to keep water from pouring into that vulnerable spot. Hubby angled it so it would drain off where it wouldn't do any harm. He dug out our driveway drainage spot so it would funnel off water into the center of the yard. Both places in our home's foundation where the water came in needs to be fixed so they won't leak again. Though I hope we don't have these kind of rains on a regular basis.

By Sunday, the ground was saturated and water began coming in a little more seriously. Hubby, clad in a hooded rainsuit, dug a deeper hole by the driveway to collect the water streaming down our drive. Another tarp was added to the other one to protect a larger area from overflowing gutters. They simply aren't meant to handle that much water at once. He bailed water out of one of the flower beds in front (where it had collected to a depth of 3 inches) saving us from more basement flooding. I helped him get things when he needed them and worked on sopping up water with towels and rags downstairs. Afterwards, we set up fans to dry the rest of it up. Thankfully, we managed to keep most of the water out. Hubby may have had some little boys dream day of playing outside in the water and the mud, but it wasn't his idea of a good time. He was defending his home from an unwanted intruder!

Several times on Sunday our electricity blinked off and on. At one point, I heard an explosion nearby that hubby said was probably an electric transformer blowing up. It wasn't ours. I had my fingers crossed we would not have to deal with a power outage too.

Others in our area weren't as successful in keeping the water out of their homes. Our next door neighbor bailed 150 gallons of water out of his basement! The local news carried stories about more flooded basements, apartments, streets, etc.

Needless to say, not much got done over the weekend other than dealing with water and watching the radar on the Weather Channel.

Friday, September 5

What to work on next? -- updated

I wish I knew the answer to this question. My list of things to do is reaching mammoth proportions. Where should I start?

1) Go shopping for paint and wall cabinets for the bathroom remodel?
The paint colors are picked out. Needs to be picked up. Cabinet shopping would require going 3 or more places. It's Friday and a Notre Dame home football weekend. The traffic is bad because there are way too many people in town. I'd better wait until next week.
9/8 went to Lowe's and Home Depot looking at cabinets. I'm underwhelmed by the selection.

2) Look for a cardigan pattern for the yarn I bought yesterday?
O-Wool Balance in denim blue, 1100 yards of worsted weight. I want a shorter cardi with 3/4 sleeves. Something fairly fitted with some detailing but not tons. No cables as they make me look fluffer than I am. I browsed patterns last night without any luck. Need to move onto something else. The right pattern will eventually turn up.
9/17 I turned up a cute hooded cardi on the Drops website. I think I even have enough yarn in my stash to make it!

3) Knit more cat toys for Pet Refuge's toy jar?
A friend told me today that it is totally empty. They're supposed to call me when it gets low but they never do. Sigh...major guilt trip. Kitties need toys! I'd like to recruit some knitters to help make toys. I've even offered to give them some yarn and the patterns. No takers.
9/17 I've been crocheting little spidee toys from this cute pattern. I leave a long tail at the end, stuff with a little catnip, and sew them closed. I contacted the designer for permission to make and sell these for charitable purposes. She said it's ok.

4) Work on the new shawl design?
The needed yarn is here. I've charted some ideas for borders. Haven't decided what to do. Also need to knit some samples to see what I like best. Meanwhile, the unfinished shawl is sitting in my knitting basket staring at me every time I walk past it.

5) Finish sorting out all the yarn and books and get rid of some of them?
There is a 2 foot high pile of books in the office and more in my craft room. You all know how much time and how difficult it is to decide what to keep and what to get rid of. The carrot, so to speak, is putting the unwanted stuff up on Ravelry to trade for other books/patterns/yarn. I need to set a goal of going through a few every day. One toe at a time as my hubby says. (Referring to the joke about how do you eat an elephant. That's about the size of this project. LOL!)
9/6 sorted through another pile
9/7 sorted through another pile
9/8 sorted through some more
9/9 donated some of them to the library
9/17 tons listed on Ravelry for sale or trade

6) Start a new pair of socks?
Since I got the 5" Chiao Goo sock needles, sock knitting is fun. The temps are finally starting to cool down a bit. I'll need more socks to wear soon. Then I can throw out all the storebought socks. I should always have a sock on the needles to take with me.
9/6 started with garter square toe from New Pathways book

7) Do something with the two baskets of pears I picked from our tree?
It broke a limb it's so heavy. I've found a recipe to make Pear Jam. Maybe this weekend. Otherwise, somebody had better come and get some of the ones still on the tree!
9/7 told the guy next door to take some of them (please!)

8) Skein and wash some old acrylic yarn so it's in usable condition?
This is acrylic yarn scraps from all over. A lot of it has been stored, is dusty, and doesn't smell the best. You wouldn't believe how much it blooms once washed. I can't wash it rolled up into balls. I can use this to make stuff for the bazaar.

9) Put together the skeiner for my spinning wheel that I bought at Michigan Fiber Festival several weeks ago?
Yep, this needs to be done. It would make skeining up all that acrylic yarn go much faster.

10) Update the shawl list on my blog?
I know, I know, this needs to be done. I have more shawls to add and all the links need to be checked. Anybody want to take on the project of checking all the links for bad ones? This list still gets lots of hits regardless of Ravelry.

11) Update the small yardage list on my blog?
Again, anybody want to take on the project of checking all the links for bad ones? I have more links to add. This list if very popular with handspinners looking for projects to use up small bits of handspun. Feel free to send me links/yardages for patterns for this list.
9/8 Added 66 more links
9/9 Checking links - done through 50s - fixed several - several are dead
9/10 Finished checking links - deleted bad ones - need to add about 14 to replace the dead ones

12) Add more recipes to my cookbook and print out a new copy?
This is an ongoing project started about 10 years ago. I'm overdue to update this with new recipes and changes to others. (My SIL and others have a copy of this and occasionally remind me they would please like an updated copy too. It makes a nice wedding, birthday, or Christmas present. ) I hate it when I try out a new recipe; love it; and can't find it again. If I type it into my cookbook on the computer and/or print it out for my printed cookbook, I can always find it. I mark my favorites with a star. I should blog about my cookbook and how it's set up someday.

13) Work on items for the Pet Refuge Holiday Bazaar?
I don't want to go crazy at the last minute doing this again. They're really feeling the financial pinch with fewer donations. Everyone's budget is taking a major hit because of the economy. I've started a box for the bazaar. They told me that the scarves sold well last year. I'm working on some from scraps and leftovers. Two are finished and one more on the needles. I'm thinking about making some kids slippers, hats, and other small items. (Of course, if I use free patterns on the web, I have to contact the designer and ask for permission to make these for charity.) Oh, and cat toys and maybe some cat beds too! I'm nuts! (Want to contribute a handmade item for Bazaar? Contact me on Ravelry for a mailing address. I'll be happy to post pictures and donors names if you do. Hmm, maybe a blog contest if you send something in an item for the bazaar? What do you think? Good idea of bad?)
9/5 working on a design for a crocheted kitty bed, one simple shawl on the needles
9/10 almost finished a simple shawl

14) Finish taking pictures and adding my stash to my Ravelry notebook?
I've been working on this one. Still 3 or 4 bins to go plus my recent purchases. I should take a break from buying yarn and use what I have. (Does trading on Ravelry count?)

15) Package up two Ravelry swaps to mail plus a couple of trades.
I'm working on this. They should all go to the Post Office on Monday.
9/7 Packed and ready to go!
9/8 Mailed!

16) Pick veggies in the garden.
If I don't do this today, it has to be done tomorrow. Squash are pretty much dead. Cucumbers are done. Beans are drying out for dry beans. Corn is done. Potatoes are dead though it's too hot to dig them yet. Winter squash is getting there. Tomatoes and peppers are still coming in. I'm not sure what of the cool weather stuff the deer didn't eat.
9/6 Picked the winter squash as the vines are dead. Got 10!

17) Freeze tomatoes.
Yep, more of these to get ready to go in the freezer. Have you checked the price of canned tomato products lately? Yikes! I heard that when they had the salmonella scare earlier in the year, that they destroyed a lot of the tomato plants in the US. That probably means fewer canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, paste, etc. and higher prices on what is available.
9/5 Gave some of these away. Have more to pick.
9/17 The rain split all the tomatoes. I don't know if there will be anymore.

This is getting depressing. I'd better stop tormenting myself. I'm not even including all the lovely household chores and other demands on my time.

Monday, September 1

Honey, it's dripping under the bathroom sink...

How does a simple statement like that turn into this?

What was a simple repair has turned into a remodeling project.

It began with the hot water shut off valve under the sink leaking. It has to be replaced. It's hard to work inside the sink cabinet (think contorted on your back) especially when the old shut off refuses to budge. Why not remove the sink and the base cabinet for easier access?

Should I mention that the wall was damaged as it came out? LOL! Since we have to fix the wall, we'll have to paint it. Guess we'll go shopping for paint. Here we are trying to find a paint color that will go with the ugly gold tile in the bathroom. We're going for a bolder color this time.

The sink cabinet didn't survive the removal very well. It is being replaced with a pedestal sink that we purchased today.

I've never cared a lot for that faucet. Shouldn't we replace it too? Shiny faucets water spot. So why do they sell so many of them? Luckily, we had purchased a new satin finish faucet for our second bathroom (which still has to be remodeled).

Hubby didn't like the old baseboards so they're going to be replaced too. LOL! We picked out a trim color to paint them.

We might as well replace the wall cabinets too. That means shopping for replacements. (We may reuse them in the second bathroom.)

The tubular skylight/vent fan hubby bought over a year ago may finally get installed. I will love having natural light in this windowless bathroom!

The plumber will be getting a call soon.

I have to say this isn't as bad as the first remodel of this bathroom some years back. (We've been in this house for 20 years.) At one point, there was nothing left in the bathroom except for the tub. There was a big hole in floor where the toilet was. (Our cats loved peeking down that hole and climbing onto the heat duct hanging from the basement ceiling. We had to put a board over the hole to keep them out until it could be fixed.) The wood around the toilet had water damage. We had to replace even the subflooring. Picture this, the flooring was gone, the door had been removed, and there wasn't even a light fixture. I rigged up a curtain in the door frame for some shower privacy and brought in a floor lamp from the living room. I was so happy when it was completed. We saved a lot of money by doing all the work ourselves thought it took weeks to finish th
e project. Hopefully, this time it won't take so long.

Kitties aren't real impressed with what's going on as you can see from these pics. That's Pookie on his double decker pizza box hammock. He loves it so what you gonna do? Boo is upside down in hubby's chair. I cover it with towels to protect it from fur. The towels are easy to wash, the upholstered chair, not so easy to clean.

In the meantime, t
here's not much knitting going on. The new shawl is stalled until I finalize the borders for it. I have some borders charted but not test knit. Once I decide which I like, I'll finish it up. There's no real rush. (The two weeks it took to get more yarn to finish it have stalled my momentum.)

The wild Opal socks are finished. I've got a couple of new design ideas bugging me. I worked on one of them yesterday.

I've signed up for two swaps on Ravelry. One is the Autumn Sock or Scarf Swap and the other is the Amazing Lace Swap. I've got my swap partner for the first one. I'm starting to collect items for Ja
mie's box. I should get my lace swap partner soon. I'd forgotten how much fun doing swaps can be.

Our garden is winding down. Most of the plants are dying. I've been freezing tomatoes for use this winter. I have to get out and pick the pear tree. One of the limbs broke it has so many pears on it. As well as giving some of them away, I may make pear sauce, pear butter, and/or pear jam.

So much to do, so little time...