Thursday, May 21

Birthdays, sump pumps, and solar dyeing

Not much on my needles at the moment. While I think about what I'd like to knit, I've been spinning some pink and peach merino (or it may be Corriedale). It's a gift from my friend Jamie. Can't wait to see what this looks like after I ply it. I have another bobbin to spin before that will happen.

Hubby hit a milestone birthday this week---the big 5-0. His birthday did not start well. We were awakened at 4 am to the sound of our sump pump running in the basement. Not a good sound. Hubby went downstairs and was met with a strong smell of something burning. Oh-oh! The sump pump hadn't turned off and was overheating. He unplugged it. It had triggered because our water softener was cycling. We were both horrified to find that the water softener was only halfway through its cycle. There was no way to stop it once it starts to cycle. Yikes! We would have a flooded basement if we didn't act quickly. Hubby grabbed a couple of buckets and began bailing water as it drained into the pump hole. He passed the filled buckets to me and I ran them upstairs to dump into the bathroom sink. That's how we spent the next hour. No fun, especially at that time of the morning! By 5:30 am, the water softener had finished. Hubby went back to bed. I was wide awake, sweaty, and stinky from the water I had sloshed on myself. Yuck! I headed for the shower. At 6 am with the sun rising, there was no going back to bed. I let the kitties outside for an early romp and made pancakes. Then I spun for awhile until it was time to meet some friends. I took hubby out for a spaghetti dinner (his favorite!) in the evening. He got a birthday card and gifts before he went to work. Not a stellar birthday for him by any means. His belated birthday gift was the plumber coming the following day to replace the sump pump. :)

Our weather has finally warmed up. We've been in the 80's for the last two days. I decided today was a good day to do some solar dyeing with Easter Egg dye. I pulled out 4 undyed skeins of wool yarn and one pale one that I didn't like the color. Here's what the wet skeins look like dripping in the bathroom. The colors won't be quite as intense when they're dry. I'm happy with the way they all turned out. The one on the far left is the skein I overdyed.

Our bathroom project is still not 100% finished. Here's a picture down the hall. See all the light coming from the doorway on the right? And look at the bathroom ceiling---that is a tubular skylight. There is no light on in the bathroom; it is all light coming in through the skylight. This used to be the darkest room in the house. Now you don't even have to turn a light on in their during the daytime. Here's a peek at the new sink, cabinet, and light fixtures too.

I hate the gold tile in this bathroom. The previous owners of this house chose it. Yuck! I'd be much happier with a neutral color. Hubby hasn't wanted to spend the money to replace the tile. Since there is nothing wrong with the tile except for the color, I understand his not wanting to spend the money. Though trying to find a paint color that goes with it can be hard. This caramel color doesn't look too bad. I wanted a darker color now that the room has so much light. If I had painted it white or cream, between the skylight, the light flooring, and the white fixtures, you would probably have needed sunglasses to enter the room during the day. LOL!

I'm considering putting a shelf over the toilet to hold a couple of plants. With all the light and humidity in the bathroom, they should do well. I'm still looking for something to hold the hand towel and some kind of storage for shampoo and other items.

Thursday, May 14

Blossom Facecloth -- new pattern!

Introducing my Blossom Facecloth.

After knitting the Reverse Bloom Washcloth at Christmas time, I knew there had to be an easier way to knit a flower washcloth. Here's what I came up with. You cast on all the stitches you'll need onto a circular needle, work around knitting one petal at a time with short rows, and then decrease to the center. No cutting for each petal and only two ends to weave in when you're done. Easy!

It's also a fun knit. I gave the pattern to a friend on Monday afternoon. She's already knit 3 of them! She likes it! LOL!

All you need is a 2 oz ball of dishcloth cotton, a set of size 8 (5.0 mm) dpns and a 16" circular. Use any cotton worsted weight yarn or a blend.

You can knit one of these in a couple of hours. I got two cloths out of one ball of yarn (95 yards) and still had a few yards leftover. The one is the picture was knit out of Peaches & Creme in the pink lilacs colorway.

Pair one of these with a bar of soap for a thoughtful, easy, and inexpensive gift.

The pattern set includes the Blossom facecloth, the Blossom coaster, and the Blossom rug.

For more information, visit my Ravelry pattern store to see all my available designs, current pricing information, and purchase pattern downloads.

Friday, May 8


Spring has finally come to the Midwest. Trees have been blooming like crazy (causing my allergies to flare) and my lilac is blooming. Hubby has tilled part of our garden up. Cool weather crops are being planted. The cabbage seedlings we started some time back have been transferred to the garden. Broccoli and tomato plants are being hardened off, awaiting their time to be planted in the garden. The tomatoes will have to wait until later this month to be planted until night time temps get into the 50 degree range. The plants are getting huge so we're hardening them off getting them ready to go into the ground. On cooler nights, they'll have to be brought inside to protect them from the cold. Frost will kill them and too cool temps will stunt their growth for awhile. Brussels sprouts, peppers, eggplants, and more tomatoes are growing steadily under lights in the basement.

We buy seeds and start our own plants. This allows us to grow varieties you'll never find at any greenhouse or nursery. We grow for flavor, disease resistance, and productivity. Here's a peek at some of the pepper seedlings in the basement. We start our seeds in jiffy pellets and transfer them to peat pots as they get bigger. Plant roots will grow right through these pots. Sterile potting mix is a must if you don't want damping off or other diseases to kill your seedlings. Our grow lights are kept close to (not touching) the plants. They're mounted on chains so we can adjust them as the plants get taller. We use shop lights and full spectrum florescent bulbs. Grow light bulbs are good if you can find them.

Our onion sets are in (red, yellow, and white) and their green tops are poking through the soil. Seeds have been planted for carrots, lettuce, radishes, kohlrabi, bok choy and other greens. Potatoes are scheduled to go in this weekend. Squash, cucumbers, corn, and melons will wait for warmer weather.

My energy is coming back again. I've been spinning. Here's some rainbow merino I finished this week. (2 oz/437 yards). I've spun this for long color runs like Noro. Now to find the right design to knit it up. My friend Jamie sent me some more lovely batts to spin. She's getting a drum carder for her birthday. I sent her a huge box of fiber to play with. :)

I've completed a bunch of new designs--two felted bags, a baby bib, a drop stitch stole (similar to a Clapotis), and a new take on the flower washcloth (mine is knit in one piece from the outside in). Here are pics of a few of them. All of these have to be test knit before they are released. Some projects have names and others are waiting to be named.

May is always a very busy month for me. Mother's Day is Sunday, closely followed by my SIL's birthday, hubby's birthday, our 17th wedding anniversary, my mom's birthday, and ending the month with my dad's birthday. Whew! I've been shopping for cards and trying to figure out what to give to everyone. Hubby's gifts were ordered online yesterday. I'm crossing my fingers they arrive in time. I'm covered for my SIL as I have some things put back for her. Mom and Dad will probably get cash. Parents can be so hard to buy for. :)

Friday, May 1

Basketcase bib & washcloth

Here's one of the baby bibs I came up when I was making baby shower gifts for my niece. This free pattern is available as a pdf download through Ravelry (click HERE to for the pattern). The pattern also includes instructions to make a matching baby sized washcloth.

It's a simple basketweave pattern with an offset strap. You should be able to get 2 bibs out of a ball of cotton yarn such as Peaches & Cream or Sugar & Creme.

I'm calling it the Basketcase Bib. LOL!

I'm looking for something to laugh about. Stress from a number of different things pushed me to the limits this week. I ended up in the ER early Tuesday morning. I was stressed enough until one comment made by my doctor on Monday afternoon finally did me in. Nothing like being told you may have a blockage in an artery and to please go to the ER if you feel any pressure in your chest!!! After bloodwork and a chest x-ray that afternoon, I waited all evening for a promised call back from the doctor. No phone call. Can you feel my stress level rising? Shortly before midnight I called our insurance 24-hour nurse line to see what, if anything, I should do. Her verdict--go the the ER immediately. I did. My blood pressure was high. Are you surprised? I'm not! After more bloodwork, another chest x-ray, and a stress test, I was pronounced healthy and released. I had a panic attack.

I haven't had to cope with this level of stress since I was 27 and working as a legal secretary. After 13 months of working for attorneys, I was ready for the looney bin. I quit my job and learned to deal with my stress. The de-stress lessons I learned at that time had served me well for many years. Must be time for a refresher course. :)

I'm taking it easy, being more protective of my free time, spending time with the people I love, and doing the things that make me happy. There are things that need to be done but they aren't going anywhere. They'll wait until I'm feeling more able to tackle them.