Let the past sleep, but let it sleep in the sweet embrace of Christ, and let us go on into the invincible future with Him. (Oswalt Chambers)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wishing all my readers a very wonderful 2009.

It's cold here and the snow is gently falling. No serious accumulation is expected as we head into the new year. For now winter is back to normal. Michiganders have no problem dealing with a few inches of snow.

Thank you for all your kind words of sympathy and encouragement on yesterday's post.

Something happy and unexpected happened when I took my ear-splitting loud exhaust system in for an estimate this morning. Nothing needed replacing. They welded a joint back together and it cost $55! How often does that happen? I'm still smiling.

Once again life is good.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ending The Year With A Roar

Everybody has them. Brief periods in life when one thing after another happens to throw off our plans and we begin to wonder how long it will be before we can return to our normal, boring life that we failed to appreciate.

I thought about writing a happy post and not bothering to record the things that recently happened. Somehow that didn't seem right, especially since I mentioned the possibility of more weather woes in my last post. So, I'm going to briefly write about our fun weekend so all my readers can be happy they live where they live instead of at my house.

When I left off in my last post we were expecting a thaw of about 5 feet of snow packed down into ice. Saturday it happened along with lots of rain. I was able to get the car out and go to the grocery store.

Saturday evening it rained some more and we started watching the basement for water. Soon we were going downstairs every hour to pump out a drainage area just outside the back door. Then water started to seep onto the basement floor not related to spot we were pumping. The routine changed from pump to pump and then wet vac.

About 1 am the wet vac died, so the routine changed to pump and mop with big old towels.

By 3 am the rain had stopped, the temperature was dropping back down to freezing, and a very strong wind started to blow taking out the power. We were so tired we bundled up (because there was no heat) and went to bed.

We consider ourselves fortunate. The power came back on at 9 am Sunday morning and most of the water in the basement had receded by then. Some Michigan residents didn't get their power back until today, Tuesday.

After catching up on my sleep Sunday, Monday I drove to Kalamazoo and had lunch with Mom. On the way home, my exhaust system died. I have an appointment tomorrow for an estimate to fix it, but there's no question it needs to be done. I can't even hear my radio when I drive. This is not happy financial news as well as being a bother.

To end on a happy note, we're having our family Christmas Thursday. If exhaust parts need to be ordered I may be pulling up with a roar, but I'm still looking forward to it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Word for Christmas 2008 is 'LATE'

I'll put the detailed weather whine at the end of this post for readers who aren't tired of hearing about it. For now, let's just say that even if the roads were clear and safe, we can't get the car out of the driveway until there is some thawing.

Presents for our Christmas Eve family get-together at Mom's in Kalamazoo are still waiting to leave the house. Gifts from Idaho and North Carolina are waiting at Mom's until we finally have our Christmas party.

It was a no brainer decision to postpone our celebration. Daughter Heather wasn't feeling well and just wanted to go to bed. Granddaughter Kimmy needed to travel sixty miles to her dad's house. She usually goes Christmas Eve after our Kalamazoo party, but the roads were expected to get treacherous and we wanted her to go earlier in the daylight and before the freezing rain. Then, there's the little problem that DH and I can't get out of the driveway. Not that we want to get out of the driveway.

Christmas Eve and presents will be rescheduled when Kimmy returns, everyone is healthy, and the roads are not hazardous.

Brother Dave living in the boondocks of Portland, Oregon was snowed in and without power for Christmas. His gifts to the family are unmailed, but I know what I'm getting and the anticipation is making me smile.

Dave is getting socks. Large, shoe size 14 socks. And they're not done yet. One has the gusset half decreased and the other is ready to have gusset stitches picked up. This is Kaffe Fassett Regia and the colors are making them an enjoyable knit.

These socks were never promised by Christmas and everyone is OK with them not being done by then. If Dave likes his handknit socks, I'll do better next year with getting them done on time.

Sister Carrie's February Lady is done but needs a few finishing touches and a trip to the post office. I hope to mail the sweater and the socks early next week. Weather permitting.

This little gem was not late. A Christmas present from DH.

I've been wanting a small camera to carry around in my purse, and this one is perfect. It measures 3.5 inches x 2 inches and is 3/4 inch deep. I think I'm going to love it.

Detail Weather Whine
It's been a week since the last time we had the car on the roads.

We are living in the middle of a very hard ice glacier and hopefully watching for signs of melting so we can get out to the store. So far everything is still frozen solid, so I'm thinking it will be this evening at the earliest. (For those not into the Michigan weather report, it's supposed to be in the 50s by tomorrow.)

We don't have snow anymore. Thanks to the snow, rain, freeze cycle we have about a foot of heavy, slippery ice in the yard and driveway. Can't shovel it and the car is frozen into it.

Good grief! This weather is totally insane. It will be interesting to see where all the water goes once things start melting. The ground is too frozen for it to just sink in. The wet vac and pump are ready and on alert in the basement.

On the radio they were saying in town, Kalamazoo/Portage, the gutter drains are clogged with snow, ice, and leaves that never got picked up thanks to early and continuous snowfall. They're asking people to get out and clear the gutters so the streets don't flood. Doesn't that sound like a fun project?

Morale is OK around here. We're having "fun" discovering things in what used to be the back of the cupboards and the freezer isn't empty yet. Most important, we still have plenty of dog food.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Heron and the Hawk

One of the many reasons I love living in the country is the variety of birds we see.

Today, sitting on the loveseat with my laptop and wishing it would thaw, I spotted several of the larger birds that hang around our property.

This is more a snow picture than a bird picture, but that dark lump in the center is a blue heron fishing in the creek.

With the white snow on the ground for background, it was easy to spot the heron gliding in to take his position. The creek is fast running, so it never freezes.

Way up high on the property line this hawk sits and surveys all the neighborhood feeders.

I'm a bit weak on hawk id. Without a closer look it's impossible for me to make a confident identification, but I'm thinking it's a Red-tailed Hawk. If any reader knows better, please correct me.

The sky really was the color in the picture in anticipation of the sleet/rain/snow that's supposed to entertain us for the next 24 hours or more.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Officially Begins

When Kalamazoo churches cancel Sunday morning services, that means the weather is on the "totally hostile" edge of the bell curve.

For SW Michigan today "totally hostile" means temperature at zero (-18C), high winds with a wind chill temperature of -17F/-27C, and blowing, drifting snow. The salt doesn't work on the roads and anything cleared of snow fills in rapidly with the blowing snow.

Things are expected to get worse overnight.

From the National Weather Service:


There hasn't been as much knitting getting done as I'd like because I've been sore from shoveling.

There isn't going to be any more shoveling until it warms up a little, so I'm planning a knitting evening tonight instead of the church Christmas concert I was looking forward to attending.

We've kept the bird seed flowing out the door today.

Still, this Bluejay wants to know if he can come in and warm up for a while.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Not Much Except Snow

The weather and road conditions are severely cramping my style this Christmas season.

We live in the country on a narrow road in the woods that's only been paved for less than a year. That's our road in the picture, running along the front of the trees on the far side of the frozen pond. If I didn't tell you that, it's doubtful you could distinguish the road from the rest of the snowy landscape.

The nearest place to do any away from home business is eight miles away. Most places I want to go are between ten and twenty miles from the driveway.

Before I can leave home I have to ask myself:
  1. Can I get out of the driveway?
  2. Do I want to get out of the driveway or would driving on the current road conditions be so stressful I'd be happier staying home?
  3. Is it snowing? Raining? Freezing?
  4. By the time I'm ready to come home, what will the roads be like? The visibility?
  5. When the snowplow comes by, it creates a deep ridge of packed down, heavy snow and ice across the mouth of the driveway. Is the snowplow going to come while I'm gone so I won't be able to get back in the driveway? It's not like there is parking in the street around here.

The skies are blue this afternoon. I should be rushing out to the grocery store to get ready for the next snow hit. For tonight and tomorrow we've been promised 100% chance of snow and the prediction is for snow everyday forward until after Christmas.

Normally I love living here. Today I'm a cranky grandma whining about the weather and trying to remember why I probably would not like living in the city. What's the cure for this? Well, cranky children usually need a nap. Maybe I'll try that.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Chat Back for December 13

Answering questions from comments and email.

Jean asked . . .
Would you know where I could get this pattern, it is calling to me. The swatch you knitted looks like it would be crisper looking, more defined stitches (than the picture in the pattern) right?.

The cabled vest pattern is free from Patternworks when you buy the Bretton yarn. There are about 10 free patterns to select from. Just pick the one you want when ordering online.

Right! The stitch pattern shows up better in the pink because the yarn is a lighter color than the dark yarn used for the pattern picture. Dark colors don't show stitch patterns as well as lighter colors.

Barbara asked . . .
Would you please post what sizes the pattern covers and the amount of yarn for each?

The sizes run 36(40,44) requiring 6(8,9) balls of Bretton, 50g/145 yds per ball. It's a DK weight yarn.

I bought the bag of 10 balls to get the better price. If there's enough left over, Bretton makes wonderful warm cuddly socks or mitts.

Dorothy asked . . .
Where do you get your Opal? After hearing you rave about it so much, I really do need to try some.

Simply Socks Yarn Company has Opal yarn.

In the brief time between my trumpet lesson and my church class on Wednesday evening I went to the biggest yarn store in Kalamazoo to select brother Dave's sock yarn in person. They carry Opal and I planned on buying Opal, but once I saw this Regia it was a done deal.

Fortunately for my pocketbook, I didn't have enough time for other yarn browsing. I don't need more yarn. Really. But now that I know how close the yarn store is to the music school . . . . DANGER!

Tomorrow, Sunday, is the doggy school Christmas party. This afternoon I baked a dogfood cake to take for the dogs. My dogs tell me this is really yummy stuff.

Dog Food Cake

2 c. flour
2 (6 oz.) cans Hi Protein dog food
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. oil
4 eggs
4 tsp. baking powder
Milk - enough for batter consistency (I used a half cup)

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes in 9 x 13 inch pan. Recipe can be "halved" for smaller cake.

Frost with whipped cream cheese.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Swatching for After Christmas Project

A little problem showed up in the mail this week - new yarn and the urge to cast on another project.

I already have three projects on the needles: Chenille, February Lady Sweater, and Karen's socks. My rule for knitting peace makes three projects the maximum I can have going at once, but swatches don't count.

Swatches are the perfect way to take care of that urge to get new yarn on the needles. Now I'm really ready to cast on as soon as my Christmas projects are done.

This yarn is going to be a vest for Mom.

Mom's request: A V neck vest to wear for warmth - one that she can throw in the washer and dryer like her hand knit socks.

The answer is Bretton, a Patternworks house yarn. 70% superwash wool, 5% alpaca, 25% nylon. The nylon content isn't noticeable, at least not to me. Having it means the vest is going to be almost indestructible and it will hold its shape, not sag, bag, and stretch like some superwash wools I've used.

The alpaca provides a subtle halo and extra softness and warmth.

This attractive pattern came free with the Bretton yarn.

As you can see from the swatch, I've decided to use it unless Mom gives it the thumbs down.

A word from 14 pound Pappy:

Hey, you think I'm a husky?

This snow is a bit much for a little dog. Let's head home.

(Picture taken Sunday, December 7.)

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Christmas Knitting Updates

The February Lady Sweater for sister Carrie in North Carolina just needs sleeves.

As always, I'm enjoying knitting with the Coto Canapone. And, big relief, the yarn is working well with this pattern intended for wool.

Pattern: February Lady Sweater.

Yarn: Elann Coto Canapone. Worsted weight. 52% cotton, 48% hemp.

Color: Murano Blue.

Needles: Options #7.

Gauge: 4.5 stitches/inch in garter stitch.

Brother Dave and his SO Karen are getting socks. We finally touched base Sunday evening about size and color preference, so they may not get done by Christmas. They will get done before I start any after Christmas projects.

Karen requested "dark", so I hauled out some Opal Smoke and Cookie's Monkey pattern.

Opal yarn is perfect for gift socks because it's long wearing and indestructible in the laundry yet it's soft and warm like hand knit socks should be.

The Monkey pattern is perfect for gift socks because it's interesting, pretty, and has plenty of stretch for a good fit when the exact size needed is a guess.

Brother Dave (size 14 feet) has requested "bright" for his color. I'm headed for the yarn shop to see what I can find for him. I've never knit socks for such long feet before. Maybe I should buy two skeins just in case?

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A. in Knitty, Winter 2006.

Yarn: Opal.

Color: Smoke.

Needles: Options 2.5

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Just in case anyone is waiting with bated breath to know how much snow we got Saturday night and/or if I made it to church, the answers are: About a foot on top of what we already had and no.

In the picture, Glory is breaking the path for us on our first dog walk of the day. She's a big dog and she was plowing the heavy, deep snow with her chest. We all needed a nap when the walk was over.

This will be the second night we've had a freezing rain/ice warning. Alwen, who lives somewhere in SW Michigan as I do, wrote a post about why this is even worse than snow. Check it out here: Two Words I Dread

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Chat Back for December 6

Answering questions from comments and email.

Qutecowgirl asked . . .
Totally off topic here but do you have any tips about knitting a sweater with alpaca?

You're very wise to understand that knitting with alpaca is not the same as knitting with wool. With the right pattern and the right gauge, you can knit an alpaca sweater that's every bit as wonderful as cashmere. With a pattern not suitable for alpaca, you can create a sweater you may never want to wear.

I've written up my thoughts on selecting an alpaca sweater pattern here: Thoughts on Alpaca.

Judy asked . . .
It is beautiful, isn't it?

Some snowfalls are beautiful, some aren't. Some are cold, windy, and nasty.

This picture was taken at 2 pm this afternoon when I went out to the road to fetch the mail. It is a color picture, there just isn't any color today. There is not a bit of blue sky to be seen. It's been snowing all day - not the pretty kind with big fluffy snowflakes, but the small flake, dense snow that is backbreaking to shovel.

According to the National Weather Service, there is 90% probability of at least 4 more inches tonight with winds up to 30 mph. That means drifting. (That last detail is for my warm climate friends. Judy knows about drifting. She lives in Michigan.)

If that happens and the snowplow doesn't come down the road, it's unlikely I'm going to make it to church in the morning.

If that happens and the snowplow does come down the road, it's even less likely I'm going to make it to church in the morning. The plow will create a high, dense pile of snow across the end of the driveway and since we're not expecting temps above freezing, it will need to be shoveled before we can get out.

Laura from beautiful West Mich asked . . .
Do your dogs get those little ice balls in between their pads when you walk them in the snow? How do you handle it?

All three dogs get their foot hair, including the hair between their toes, trimmed off every six weeks at the groomers. It seems to help a lot.

We do have a problem with the cold. When it gets to about 15 degrees or below, Pappy's little feet get so cold he tries to get all four feet in the air at once and he happily lets me carry him back to the house. The other dogs' feet are a bit more tolerant of the cold, but they have their comfort limit.

We keep our outings short when it's cold. I can't carry more than one dog at a time.

Kate asked . . .
Beautiful socks! They look perfectly matched. How do you do that?!!!

This is a frequently asked question.

Getting Socks to Match is a entire blog post on the method I use.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Gail's Christmas Socks Finished

Seven years ago I signed Sunny up for puppy class with dog trainer Gail. My intention was to get her Canine Good Citizen certificate and visit nursing homes with my sweet little dog.

As Sunny matured it was obvious she didn't have the personality for visiting nursing homes. Strange objects freak her out and she doesn't like to be petted by people she doesn't know.

Dog trainer Gail describes Sunny's personality as "Queen Bee". Sunny is bossy and opinionated. Without the guidance and wise teaching of Gail, Sunny would be a very obnoxious little dog.

Sunny loves obedience class. After puppy class we went on to intermediate class and ended up in a class called "Hobby Advanced". We do some obedience, some agility, some tricks and games, all to have fun with our dogs, not serious stuff for competition.

When abused and rescued Pappy joined our family six years ago, we gave him a month to adjust a little and then started him in the beginner class.

Gail coached us in turning a nervous, traumatized dog into a loving, happy family member. Pappy has been in a "Hobby Advanced" class for five years now. His favorite part is the agility.

The dogs go to doggy school on separate nights. It's their night out with Mom's sole attention and they love it. That's 4 hours a week I spend in doggy school and the reason dog trainer Gail gets hand knit socks at Christmas and on her birthday.

I'm so pleased that there is something I can do for her that she appreciates and wears. Hope she likes the colors in this pair.

Pattern: Basic sock on 64 stitches. k1p1 ribbing for 20 rows, then k7p1 ribbing down rest of cuff and instep.

Yarn: Opal, 75% Superwash wool, 25% Nylon.

Color: Petticoat 1293

Needles: Options 2.5mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

More Snow

The days are so short now that when I went to take a picture of Gail's finished Christmas socks it was too dark - at 5 pm.

So instead here are some snow picture taken yesterday. Socks tomorrow.

First daylight morning dog walk.

It snowed more Monday afternoon and evening. It snowed more today, Tuesday. There is snow in the forecast for the next five days, but I'm not going to ruin the mood of the pretty pictures by whining about it.

When the temperature is warm but still below freezing, the snow comes down in big, fluffy flakes and sticks to the branches making for a beautiful world.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

6x6 Meme

Found this meme over on Smatterings and Knitorious. Saved it for a snowy, Sunday evening like today.

The rules:
--Go to your sixth picture folder and pick the sixth picture
--Pray you remember the details
--Tag five others

The name of my sixth folder is 2003_05_26, representing the date.

I had a new digital camera, my first, and was outdoors trying it out in amazement. Now it's difficult to remember the days before digital cameras enriched my life. One more thing to be thankful for.

The bright bluish purple wild violets were just ending their spring bloom.

If you need a quick and easy blog post, you're tagged. Let me know so I can visit and see what you found in your sixth folder.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chat Back for November 29

Answering questions from comments and email.

First we'll chat about the weather. That's a Michigan thing to do - the year round number one small talk topic.

This picture was taken about 2 pm today. The temperature made it up to a high of 42 F/6 C. The top layer of ground is frozen so the snow lingers longer above freezing than it would have a few weeks ago when the ground was not as deeply frozen.

The sun and temperature both drop fast this time of year. Sunset this evening is 5:13. It looks like we're going to keep some white stuff around until tomorrow when the forecast is for Mother Nature to spend the next four days refreshing the snow covering.

Kathy asked . . .
When you tried frogging, did you first put the yarn in the freezer? That will help mohair not grab onto each other.
I'm a novice, uninformed mohair knitter and had no idea some time in the freezer would help.

I like the idea, though. Sounds like the perfect punishment for some of my uncooperative projects.

Robbyn asked . . .
Regarding the mohair, have you thought about a throw or a blanket?
I confess to being partial to store bought synthetic fleece throws and blankets. That likely disqualifies me for the Knitter's Hall of Fame.

In my defense, they're easy to launder and I don't have to worry about moths when I drizzle food into the nap.

I've started a stockinette plain sleeveless vest with the mohair. Looks like it will use most of both skeins so there wasn't enough for anything requiring more yardage.

Today's Speed Bump is really all about yarn and knitting, even if it's not obvious from the picture.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

FLS Progress and Mohair Swatch

The February Lady Sweater for Sister Carrie is zipping right along.

As well as being easily memorized, the lace pattern is one of those where it's easy to see immediately if stitches aren't falling in the right place.

Carrie requested a version without buttons. It will be interesting to see what the front neck does without buttons to hold it up.

Pattern: February Lady Sweater.

Yarn: Elann Coto Canapone. Worsted weight. 52% cotton, 48% hemp.

Color: Murano Blue.

Needles: Options #7.

Gauge: 4.5 stitches/inch in garter stitch.

Still trying to imagine what this mohair would like to be, I knit a swatch to get a feel for how it knits up.

It knits up very fuzzy. Not a surprise. It wasn't an easy knit with all the fuzziness.

My original bind off was too tight. When I tried to frog it, I learned that whatever I do with this yarn I do not want to make anything that might require frogging. The stitches were not coming out easily and some refused to come out at all.

To sum up, it's a very fuzzy yarn that needs to be knit in stockinette or garter because the stitches aren't going to show through all the fuzz. On #10 needles I got 3 stitches/inch. Whatever it becomes is going to be colorful and warm. And it needs to be something simple.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Simple Woman's Daybook

These writing prompts are available every Monday from Simple Woman's Daybook where we're invited to join in celebrating the beauty of everyday moments around us.

I doubt I'll do this every week, but it seems like just the right touch to start off the week of Thanksgiving.

FOR TODAY November 23, 2008...
Outside my window... A dreary, gray winter day with wet snow falling from the sky. I'm thankful for my warm house.

I am thinking... How quickly the summer and autumn flashed by, how quickly the years are flashing by, and how I'd like to do something worthwhile with the rest of my life.

I am thankful for... The new church I started attending a few months ago. It was an unexpected change and feels so right.

From the kitchen... Today I'll be making Green Dream. I've been making Green Dream for over thirty years. I guess it's a family tradition. It's the perfect holiday side dish for adding a slightly tangy accent with roast turkey. Wonderful to eat with cold turkey leftovers.

I am wearing... Gray sweatpants and a gray sweatshirt with an Arlo and Janis comic on the front. Arlo is saying, "The older I get the less I enjoy the coming of fall. It's something to do with the passing of time. Year round time passes at the same speed, but in the fall it sticks its arm out the window and flips you off."

I am creating... Something in my subconscious to make with the prize mohair while knitting away on the almost mindless February Lady Sweater.

I am going... to get up and take the dogs for a walk in a few minutes.

I am reading... Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.

I am hoping... The roads are not slippery for the next few days. There are places I need and/or want to go.

I am hearing... Terence Blanchard's Tale of God's Will. This is the best CD I've ever experienced in my whole life. I can't play it without wanting to start over from the beginning and play it again.

Although written as a "Requiem for Katrina", it's much more than that. It's the story of the human condition put to music. And the trumpet playing is awesome.

Around the house... We are staying cozy and warm while wintry things happen outdoors.

One of my favorite things... Is sitting here at my laptop communicating with family and friends with one little dog curling up on my right and another little dog curled up on my left.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Tomorrow I'm headed for Kalamazoo to help Mom figure out how to use her DVD player and then go out to lunch at the Main Street Grill. Wednesday evening is trumpet lesson in Kalamazoo, and Thursday, of course, is Thanksgiving. We're having the simplest of Thanksgivings this year, but I do have a small turkey to roast for just the two of us and many things to be thankful for.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...
Last week's view outside the window directly in front of the loveseat where I sit with my laptop.

It's snowing today and the view is much the same except the snow has been removed from the feeding board running along the porch railing. Instead of snow, it's loaded with sunflower seeds being enjoyed by several dozen birds, mostly cardinals.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Mohair in the Mail

Author Barbara Bretton shares a blog Romancing the Yarn with other romance writers who do fibery things. Lately Barbara has been cleaning out her stash by having drawings to give it away.

A few days ago I won the "MOHAIR" drawing, and yesterday there was mohair in the mailbox. 440 yards of beautiful fuzzy mohair with a label gauge of 3.5 stitches/inch on #10 needles.

Given that I don't want to knit a hat and/or scarf with this, any suggestions? I'm thinking maybe a pullover vest.

Meanwhile, it's found a good home in my stash. Thanks Barbara! I'll take good care of it.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Chat Back for November 21

Answering questions from comments and email.

More Lake Effect Snow today.

Knowing it's all supposed melt by Sunday, I'm content to stay home today and enjoy watching the fluffy flakes come down.

JoLynn asked . . .
Right side /wrong side of caston is the smooth side or bumpy side?
Got me to wonder, what I had learned originally? and from what source?
What is your right side of the caston?

I think it's standard to consider the side that looks like a crocheted chain, probably what you're called the smooth side, to be the right side. That's what most pattern writers and I like to use for the right side.

But really, if someone likes the bumpy side as the right side there's nothing wrong with that. Sometimes it does look better especially when doing a garter stitch border.

Sherilan asked . . .
Could you mention again how you position the k7p1 to go down the foot evenly?

There are several ways to do it.

Lately I've been doing it the easy way and having the 32 stitch heel and the 32 stitch instep both be k3,p,p7,p,k7,p,k7,p,k4. It's next to impossible to notice the lopsided stitch on the finished sock.

During a more perfectionist time in my knitting life, I would use 31 stitches heel side, 33 stitches instep side and center the k7 panel down the heel side and instep side. When knitting the heel I would Make1 in the center to bring it up to 32 stitches. When decreasing the gussets I would bring the heel side back down to 31. Toe decreases then needed to start on the instep side in order to come out even at the end to Kitchener.

Jean asked . . .
Love the contrast between the cardinal and the snowflakes falling. Do you leave any food out for them in the winter?

Yes. And every other season as well. Long time readers here have seen dozens of bird pictures taken at the feeders.

We buy sunflower seeds by the 50 pound bag.

On the east side of the house where we sit at our computers there is
  • A ten foot plank full of black oil sunflower seeds specifically for the cardinals who don't like to perch on a feeder. All the other birds and squirrels eat from it as well. If there's anything left, the possums clean it off after dark.
  • A hanging tube feeder with black oil sunflower seeds.
  • A thistle seed feeder always loaded with finches, especially the Goldfinches.

On the west (kitchen) side of the house
  • A peanut feeder - the one in the picture. That's a Tufted Titmouse getting ready to fly off with a peanut in its mouth.
  • A double side suet feeder.
  • A hanging tube feeder with black oil sunflower seeds.

Debi asked . . .
I love the cotton/hemp version of the February Lady Sweater....is it knitting up as a true worsted weight?

The Elann site suggests 20 sts/inch on a #5!! Could that be a mistake?

The Summer Spice short sleeve gansey I knit with Coto Canapone was 22 st/4 inches on #4s. It was a nice firm fabric but not so tight that it hurt my hands to knit.

I almost always require a needle size one less than the pattern calls for to get gauge.

February Lady calls for worsted weight yarn and #8 needles for 18 st/4 inches in garter stitch. I swatched with #8s, #7s, and #6s. The 6s were too tight, the 8s were an unacceptable floppy loose fabric. The #7s were just right and gave me gauge right on.

If the Elann site says 20 sts/4 inches, that's reasonable. If it really says 20 sts/inch that's just silly.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Is Your Taste In Art?

Islamic art? Never heard of it until I took this quiz.

The quiz was fun to answer and the personality results, at least for me, are accurate. Because who wouldn't want to be vibrant and tasteful?

Click and the link at the bottom, enjoy the gorgeous art, and see how you rate.

Your result for What Your Taste in Art Says About You Test...

Traditional, Vibrant, and Tasteful

28 Islamic, 14 Impressionist, 12 Ukiyo-e, -9 Cubist, -26 Abstract and -1 Renaissance!

Islamic art is developed from many sources: Roman, Early Christian, and Byzantine styles were taken over in early Islamic architecture; the architecture and decorative art of pre-Islamic Persia was of paramount significance; Central Asian styles were brought in with various nomadic incursions; and Chinese influences . Islamic art uses many geometical floral or vegetable designs in a repetitive pattern known as arabesque. It is used to symbolize the transcendent, indivisible and infinite nature of Allah.

People that like Islamic art tend to be more traditional people that appreciate keeping patterns that they learned and experienced from their past. It is not to say that they are not innovative personalities, they just do not like to let go of their roots. They like to put new ideas into details and make certain that they will work before sharing them with others. Failure is not something they like to think about because they are more interested in being successful and appreciated for their intelligence. These people can also be or like elaborate things in their life as long as they are tasteful. They tend to prefer geometric patterns and vibrant colors.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Snow Report and New Project

The view as we started our early morning dog walk today.

Here in Almena Township we ended up with about ten inches of fluffy white snow. The ground is still a bit unfrozen so as the day went on the snow settled down to about four inches.

The most frequently uttered words in SW Michigan in the last 48 hours: "I wasn't ready for that yet."

Though unwashed in the picture, the swatches for my next project are washed, dried, and measured.

This makes the third project I've knit with Elann Coto Canapone, 52% cotton, 48% hemp. It goes in the washer, dryer, and comes out the same size, same gauge, only softer. It's a wonderful yarn.

Little sister Carrie in North Carolina, recipient of the Manon Shawl in Coto Canapone, requested a February Lady Sweater in the same yarn, same color. I wasn't sure about knitting the pattern in something other than wool, but the swatching indicates all will be wonderful.

I plan on casting on this evening.

Pattern: February Lady Sweater.

Yarn: Elann Coto Canapone. Worsted weight. 52% cotton, 48% hemp.

Color: Murano Blue.

Needles: Options #7.

Gauge: 4.5 stitches/inch in garter stitch.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Beginning of Winter

This was the scene early this morning as the dogs and I headed out for our first walk of the day.

I was cozy and warm in an insulated underwear shirt, jeans, heavy wool socks, my helmet hat, and a Land's End Squall Parka.

Heavy duty shoes were OK for the early morning walk, but the snow has picked up again. I'll locate my boots before the next dog walk.

The weather forecast says four more inches today. Due to the unpredictable Lake Effect Snow, snow depth forecasts are always iffy. National Weather Service has been known to create panic about storms that fizzle and miss calling major snow falls.

Much yard work was accomplished this year. The rest will have to wait.

I'd love to get in one more mowing. We say that every year while in denial that mowing season is definitely over.

The sky is dumping white stuff while I write this (10:30 am) so four more inches or even more looks very possible.

Hard to resist taking pictures of the red cardinals in the snow. In this picture, taken just a few minutes ago, the camera was set to show the snow fall, not so much the bird.

Winter has arrived in SW Michigan.

Lunchtime Weather Update: The National Weather Service has decided to up its forecast since the snow doesn't seem to be stopping. There's a "DISTURBANCE" moving into the area which could result in 12 inches of snow by morning. Hope this is one of the days they're wrong. I'm not mentally ready for 12 inches yet.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Gail's Socks Maybe Done, Maybe Not

I can't remember where I got this yarn without a label. I do know it's Opal, but I don't know the color pattern name.

Doggy school teacher Gail frequently wears blue denim, so I picked it out of the stash for her Christmas socks. About half way through the first cuff I began to worry. Is this yarn ugly? Is Gail going to like these socks?

Now that they're done, the colors and dots have grown on me and there's a good chance Gail will like them. But I'm racking my brain to remember if I've ever seen her wear green. I think so, but I'm not sure. While I'm watching for something green to appear at doggy school, I started another pair (below) just in case.

Pattern: Basic sock on 64 stitches. k1p1 ribbing for 20 rows, then k7p1 ribbing down rest of cuff and instep.

Yarn: Opal, 75% Superwash wool, 25% Nylon.

Color: Unknown

Needles: Options 2.5mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch.

These socks are perfect for Gail. I know she wears each color represented and there are no crazy dots to make her wonder what I was thinking.

I better get the needles clicking and get them done.

Pattern: Basic sock on 64 stitches. k1p1 ribbing for 20 rows, then k7p1 ribbing down rest of cuff and instep.

Yarn: Opal, 75% Superwash wool, 25% Nylon.

Color: Petticoat 1293

Needles: Options 2.5mm circulars.

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

She Said Aran Modeled

I finished this sweater last April, just in time for it to be completely unwearable weather wise. I packed it away knowing I would enjoy seeing it again in the autumn.

The autumn that seemed so far away in June is now here, complete with cold weather inviting the woolies out of hibernation.

Other than the photo shot a few weeks ago, I still haen't worn it. It's truly a winter sweater, 100% wool, tightly knit, and heavy.

Pattern: She Said Aran by Barbara Venishnick in Knitters Winter 1999, #57.

Modifications: Sleeves were knit on picked up stitches with short rows across the sleeve cap. The pattern's turtleneck collar was shortened to something more like a crew neck.

Yarn: Cascade 220, 100% wool worsted weight

Color: 7808 Violet

Needles: Options #5

Gauge: 28 stitches/29.5 rows in 4 inches on lower sweater. 26 stitches/33 rows in 4 inches for upper sweater.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hats Are Always Handy

Last week we had unseasonably warm, sunny weather and not much knitting got done.

This week? Well, it's November and the weather is acting like November in SW Michigan. Cold, rainy, a little snow overnight. The ground is still too warm for the snow to linger, but it did nicely coat my cold car.

It's a little too warm yet to wear my Helmet hat, but this nice wool head covering is just perfect.

I only had one skein of yarn, 128 yards, originally purchased for the failed twining experiment. After the yarn was frogged and untangled, I decided to go for a simple and quick hat instead of storing it in my stash bins.

The hat isn't windproof like a twined hat would have been. Not a problem since I wear it under a nylon parka hood that keeps the wind out.

Pattern: Basic hat on 102 stitches. Ribbed cuff and then knit tall enough to use up all the skein.

Yarn: Crystal Palace Taos, 100% wool worsted weight

Color: Hopi

Needles: Options 6 and 7.

Gauge: 5 stitches/inch, 7 rows/inch.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Chat Back for November 8

Answering questions from comments and email.

First of all, I want to thank all of you who suggested AVG as a replacement virus protection. It was an easy install and it's now busy working away protecting my laptop with almost no fuss, bother, or system slowdown.

Sorry it took me so long to remember to mention this.

In response to the sweater I was wearing in Kimmy Turns 13:
Jean asked . . .
. . all I could think about is "I wonder if she knit the sweater she was wearing?"
Laurie asked . . .
Any more pics of the finished sweater??

It's been almost a year since I finished Autumn Song. Here are the links.

Autumn Song Finished
Autumn Song Modeled

Jean asked . . .
I have the (knitpicks) harmony circular knitting needles with the interchangeable cables and they keep coming undone while I am knitting with them - got any tips to eliminate this?

I have the metal Options, not the Harmony, but they're probably the same engineering.

When I put the little tightening pin through the hole and twist as snug as possible, I usually don't have a problem with the joins. When I'm lazy and think I can just twist and tighten without digging out the little pin, sometimes there's some loosening.

When one does come loose, I feel it right away because the little gap snags the yarn, so I've never had one come completely off. It's a bother and I wish I could say it never happens (that one starts to come undone), but I consider the sharp points worth the occasional tightening.

Lynn asked . . .
Have you ever knit a sweater for your dog? If he wasn't thrilled with his costume, does he prefer not to wear clothing? Or was it the fact it was a costume?

No, yes, and the headpiece annoyed him more than the body piece.

It's not practical to knit for my dogs. They don't enjoy "dressing". If and when dressing is required, it needs to be something that will stand up to country living.

Pappy has haircuts in the summer, but we let him grow out in the autumn for winter. An unclipped Pappy has thick fur all over, including his underside. Dressing for warmth is totally unnecessary and his straight, shiny hair quickly sheds snow, ice, and weed seeds.

Sunny has thin fur, a bare belly, and chest hair which functions as a snow/ice ball magnet.

She wears a fleece coat outside in the winter. She hates wearing it, but it's needed. Her coat is blue plaid, but in this picture it's coated with white snow.

I think a knit coat would be too fragile for her needs.

The dogs like to run in the fields and woods - through the briars and brambles and sticks and stalks.

Glory loves chasing rabbits, squirrels, whatever is around to chase. Sometimes that chasing involves jumping into the creek. Totally not appropriate for knitwear.

This is a close up of Glory's fur taken on a walk this morning. See what I mean?