Tuesday, December 30

Sad news

News just in, my knitting friend, Nancy, passed from this life on Saturday, December 27. She had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer early in 2008. This is the same disease that killed her father a year or so earlier. She was 69.

You may remember that my fiber arts group made a love blanket for her in February. Here's a link to that post. She loved the blanket. I hope it was a source of comfort to her in her illness.

Nancy was a wonderful person, fun to be around, and so full of life. I find it hard to believe that she is gone. She was a member of my knitting group over the past 4 years. She was a very generous person, always willing to pitch in and help. Several years ago, she participated in a group project for another member. Members knit fish and Nancy volunteered to help me assemble a fish baby blanket from them for an expectant member of our group. On that occasion, we spent most of a day together, laying out the fish on my kitchen island, sewing them together, and talking about lots of things. I'm so glad I had the privilege of knowing her and I will treasure my memories of her. My sympathies go out to her family

The visitation and funeral are on Friday and Saturday. It is not a good way to start a new year by losing a friend.

The blanket is done!

The Not-a-Granny Square Blanket is finished! It contains 50 ounces of worsted weight acrylic yarn. This only put a dent in my scrap acrylic yarn. I have in mind a couple more scrap afghans to make--one to crochet and one to knit.

The finished size on this blanket is 64 inches x 64 inches. As you can see from the picture, it almost covers the top of my queen size bed. Boo gave his seal of approval as you can see.

I decided to use a tapestry needle to darn in all the yarn tails. Then I worked 2 dcs in each chain or dc down two sides of the afghan. I worked the last row and these two sides all in white. It's all washed and ready to gift. I am giving it to the guy next door. His mother died from a heart attack on Sunday, Dec. 21, right before Christmas. I hope it will give him some comfort.

We're finally enjoying a few nice days here. Ahh...what a relief!

Last Friday, we had freezing rain that turned all our our roads into skating rinks--literally! The local news aired a video of two kids ice skating down their street! It was so bad they issued emergency warnings in our county and two others to stay at home and off the roads or you would be ticketed. Many people ignored that warning and slid off the roads, flipped their vehicles, or got into accidents. One notable accident involved a young girl driving down a main road. Her car was hit from behind by another vehicle. She slid across a 5 lane highway, and crashed into a brand new Volvo on a car dealer's lot. How do you explain that one to your insurance agent? Numerous snow plows also flipped while salting the roads.

Over the weekend, it warmed up to 62 degrees with some rain. That took care of all our snow and the ice on the roads. For the last two days it has been sunny with temps in the low 40s, a very nice change from the cold, dreary, snowy, and icy days we've had for the past 6 weeks. Winter, I'm sure, will be back in full force shortly.

Christmas was busy as usual. After two days of running to see various friends and relatives, hubby and I both crashed for a day. Hubby was very good to me for Christmas. He bought me a Majacraft Pioneer spinning wheel and all of the Shimmy bellydancing DVDs. Woo-hoo! I love the new wheel! It spins like a dream. And the dvds will help me continue to get into shape and lose more weight. Each episode is a no impact aerobic workout. It's amazing how many muscles it works. I'm a little sheepish admitting at my age that I am bellydancing, though I love what it is doing for my body and my figure.

Saturday, December 27

When the wrapping is a gift too...

I decided this was the year to stop buying gift wrap. Doesn't it make more sense to make gift bags that can be reused instead of buying paper that is thrown in the trash after the first use?

My fabric stash contains enough Christmas prints to make lots of gift bags. A third of a yard of fabric is sufficient to make 2 small bags. A yard of fabric can make a bunch, depending on what size are needed for your gifts.

I chose 5 different prints for these gift bags. It took me all of 15 minutes to sew a few seams and turn a hem at the top. I used a sewing machine but they can be sewn by hand too. (Don't sew? Use fabric glue or an iron-on bonding material.)

To finish, I crocheted chains with scrap yarn to tie into bows. I popped the gifts into each bag and tied it closed. It takes just a few seconds to insert the gift and tie it closed instead of the time it takes to wrap a gift in paper. Odd shapes are no problem either. :-) No tape or paper needed. For gift tags, you can print out free ones on the web or create your own.

These bags are a bonus gift that can be reused again and again. That's what I call creative recycling and saving money. Holiday themed fabric can be purchased inexpensively (50% off or more) in the after Christmas clearance sales. Pick up some and start a new tradition with your family next year.

You can also sew fabric gift bags for any occasion. Wouldn't a child love a gift bag made from their favorite character fabric? If you make it large enough, it can be used as a pillowcase on their bed. If you quilt, you may have extra quilt blocks that could be turned into gift bags or even tote bags to hold gifts. Plain pillowcases can be painted, embroidered, stamped, or embellished to create custom gift bags too.

With a little creativity and what you have on hand, you can have some fun and save a little money too.

Tuesday, December 23

We're living in a freezer.

Ugh! We're definitely having a white Christmas this year. There's no way all this snow and ice will leave that soon. Here's a picture of what our roads look like (and have looked like for some time). What you're seeing is solid ice (about 1/2 inch thick) with snow over it. The ice has holes in places making it a challenge to drive. Some people are driving like it's dry pavement. On the news they keep telling everyone to slow down but people don't seem to be getting the message. It's sure keeping the tow truck drivers busy towing people out who slide off the road. And that's not even including all the bad accidents that have occurred. North of us in Michigan, they had a 100 car and truck pile up on I-94. It was white out conditions and the roads were not in good shape. A snowplow turned over when plowing downtown on Monday. Two Marine reservists and two others in the car were killed on the Toll Road on Sunday when their car slid across the median into a lane of oncoming traffic and a semi.

Today our temps are rising a bit. They're predicting rain and freezing rain. We don't need any more ice. South of us they just finished restoring power to 100,000 homes that lost their electricity in an ice storm last week. You can see the forecast here on our local news weather page. It's depressing.

Stay warm, stay safe, and happy Christmas everyone!

Sunday, December 21

"Not a Granny Square" Blanket - a pattern

Winter didn't officially start until early this morning. Someone must have forgotten to tell the calendar. It has been bloody cold here with lots of snow, some sleet, and 1/4 inch of freezing rain in just the past week. Over night a front pushed through and dropped our temps into the below zero category. Wind chills are even colder. Brr!

As a result of the snow, sleet, and freezing rain, our roads are covered with thick, rutty, bumpy ice. Cars driving down our road make a lot of noise bouncing over that bumpy ice. It's too cold to melt even with the liberal application of salt. It will either have to wear away from the traffic or wait until the temps get above freezing to melt. It does make driving a challenge and stopping even more so. LOL!

With my Christmas knitting projects finished, I've been wondering what to work on next. I had an idea yesterday for a scrap blanket project. Could I make a partial granny square and crochet around it in an "L"? I tried it last night and here is the result. I wrote this up pretty quickly. If you find an error, let me know and I'll fix it. Thanks!

"Not a Granny Square" Blanket

Worsted weight yarn scraps
Crochet hook size H

Pattern is now available through Ravelry.

Thursday, December 11

Blog anniversary!

I'm pinching myself, my blog is two? How did this happen?

Well, it all began with my first post on December 11, 2006. Little did I know what would happen when I did.

I was initially a bit terrified of venturing into blog land.
How does all this blog stuff work? (I've learned. )
Would I have enough to say?
Would anyone even read my blog?
I was surprised to find that the answer to both of those questions was yes.

I have enjoyed sharing bits of my life, my projects, and patterns. In the process, I've made many new friends along the way.

It never entered my head when I started Simple Knits, that I would end up as a pattern designer or be having so much fun playing with yarn and needles. :-)

Thanks everyone for coming along on the ride. I hope you're having as much fun with this as I am.


Saturday, December 6

I'm still here & Name this shawl

Things have been a little busy around here. More so than usual. What's been happening?

Trying to stay warm. We've been having January weather around here for weeks now. Our daytime highs haven't gotten out of the teens or low 20's lately. (Our normal daytime high temp is supposed to be 39. We've been no where near that lately.) The roads are icy and it's snowed almost every day. It's doing it again. :-(

For the last 3-4 weeks, I've been working on some articles for a college professor I've known for 25 years. The extra money is nice but it's left me little time to work on anything else. Not even knitting! Eeek! We finally finished up at almost 11 pm earlier this week. I've been catching up since. Finally, I'm getting a few minutes to update my blog.

Feeling guilty that I haven't had time to make cat toys for the toy jar at my vet's office. I can see that empty toy jar and cat owners looking for toys to give their babies for Christmas and it's empty! And feeling guilty that I didn't get any items delivered for the Pet Refuge Holiday Bazaar that is happening today. I swear I need to clone myself! (Or get some other people interested in helping make cat toys and stuff for the shelter. I've even tried to bribe them with free yarn and patterns to knit/crochet toys without success.)

I have two more lace shawl designs to finish writing up. They're both the wing shape like Fire Bird and Love Bird. One has a different lace border and the other is all over lace. I'm looking for a name for this shawl in the picture. Leave a comment with your suggestion(s) or submit it on my Simply SimpleKnits group on Ravelry. I've started a thread there to collect name suggestions. Remember, the person who submits the name I use for the pattern gets a free copy. This shawl is knit with my handspun Targhee wool from combed top hand dyed by my friend Liz (Chocolate Princess). I forget how much I like to knit with handspun!

The SquiddyCat toy pattern is now available as a free pattern download through Ravelry. I won't be posting it as a free pattern here on my blog. If you click the link in the sidebar, it will take you to Ravelry to download a copy. Not a Ravelry member? Go sign up now! Ravelry membership has hit about 230,000 knitters/crocheters.

I did manage to finish a spinning project this week. I finished spinning some grab bag wool I got from the Dyepot. This is over 1,000 yards or 7 ounces of luscious wool in a light fingering weight. I have an idea of what I might knit with this.

I knit myself a pair of Dzonba slippers in the black superwash wool I won in Mambocat's blog contest. (See my earlier post about this.) Dummy me, knit 2 pairs of these from felting wool. Washed one pair when they got ratty looking and...guess what? They're kid sized now. The other pair isn't looking so good either. It's been so cold I've need both wool socks and wool slippers to keep my feet warm.

After I finished the slippers last night (and put them immediately on my feet LOL!), I cast on for a hat with some odd bits of cream and green handspun yarn. Not sure if I have enough to finish the hat. Not a problem, I'll just spin up a little more of the cream if needed. LOL!

My fiber arts group is working on plans for an all-day retreat to be held in January. I'm helping with the planning and may teach a mini class at the retreat.

I've agreed to teach a class on the Fire Bird Shawl at a local yarn shop in January. Dates to be determined. The class will be two class sessions one week apart. I dropped a sample shawl and pattern off at the shop as a display to advertise the class.