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)

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chat Back for January 31

Answering questions from comments and email.

Shirley asked . . .
I have been wondering how you are coming along with your trumpet lessons??

I'm making steady progress, but I'm not ready for the big time yet.

When I started lessons last June I promised myself to practice faithfully and give it a year before judging the outcome. I think I've already proven I'm not a natural talent, but I do believe I will turn out to be adequate enough to have fun playing with a group.

Kathy B. asked . . .
I wonder if you know why the birds don't seem to be coming to my suet feeder this week????? IT has been cold in Chicago. I put new suet in the feeder. I'm a little worried. Maybe someone nearby is offering something better???? any ideas?

Kathy and I had several emails back and forth. It's hard to know why her birds stopped eating suet right now, it's certainly been cold and snowy enough in Chicago so they need it.

One idea was that substituting fruit flavored suet for peanut flavored suet may have her birds looking for nuttier pastures. My birds scoff and ignore the fruit flavored suet. We don't buy it.

My theory for this is that northern birds wintering over aren't fruit eaters in any season and don't like having their suet messed up with fruity pieces.

JoLynn asked . . .
It just hit me, yarn type and eye of partridge heel flap. Sometimes, the eye of the partridge really pops with stitch definition, other times is barely noticeable. do you agree or not? or some other thought?

Eye of partridge heel is:
Row 1: slip 1, (slip 1, knit 1) 15 times, knit 1. Turn.
Row 2: slip 1, purl to end of row. Turn.
Row 3: (slip 1, knit 1) 16 times. Turn.
Row 4: slip 1, purl to end of row. Turn.

So the knit stitches are in every fourth column and the slip stitches are in every fourth column instead of being aligned in the same column.

I agree with JoLynn that yarn with better stitch definition is going to pop out the eye of partridge heel better than other yarn.

Every eye of partridge heel I've ever knit has had poor stitch definition, so much that I have to pay special attention to which row I'm on and find it difficult to read my knitting.

Eye of partridge is a prettier heel than the standard heel flap, but I think the standard heel flap has more sideways elasticity and gives a better fit to the foot.

I let my Elann Sample Skeins subscription expire. It was fun and I'm glad I tried it, especially since it was free in a way. I will continue to get credits applied to my Elann orders until the subscription fee is used up.

The fact that I didn't use all my credits during the year is telling. I just don't buy that much yarn. I have a very modest stash and most of it is wool for charity knitting. I like to buy major project yarn when I'm ready to start a new major project. There's such a huge list of nice, reasonably priced yarn available I don't feel the need to buy ahead and stash for the future.

About 90% of the samples were yarns I wouldn't buy. The best part was finding a few summer yarns I liked, but that benefit wasn't enough to get me to reenlist.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Snow, New Buttons, New Yarn

New Snow.
It just doesn't end. It's been a week since we've had more than a foot at once, but we keep getting little "refresher" snow falls - one to three inches almost every day.

The little snowfalls all add up to huge piles of snow that will still be melting well into the spring reminding us of a winter to remember but one we'd rather forget.

Sympathy to all of you who endured the ice storm, especially if you had a power outage. That's the worst in wintertime. We just caught the very northern edge of the storm. No ice, but three inches of snow.

New Buttons.
This has to be one of the most unusual but beautiful Christmas presents ever.

Brother Dave, the trumpet maker, is making precious and semi-precious stone key pads for his clientele. My favorite stone is Tigereye and I now have Tigereye key pads on my trumpet.

I've had them for a few weeks but it's been a challenge to capture their beauty with a camera. I still haven't, but the picture is good enough so you can imagine their shining beauty.

New Yarn.
A birthday gift from friend Sherry.

Two skeins of Blueberry Borscht Peace Fleece, 30% mohair, 70% wool from Russia.

Sherry and I both knit for CIC and Mittens for Akkol and I'm sure she was thinking of them when picking out this pretty warm wool yarn. It's not enough for a sweater, but should be plenty for a vest. Or maybe socks and mittens. I'm looking forward to casting on with it.

The Opal Petticoat is going to be for me. This is the same colorway I used for Gail's Christmas Socks. At the time I felt generous knitting up and giving away an Opal I would have liked for myself, and now I've got more of it. There may even be enough for two pair of socks if I use the little left over balls from Gail's pair.

And More New Yarn.
A birthday box from Idaho. I love it when they pick out yarn for their own socks so I don't have to agonize over if they're going to like their birthday socks.

The pastel Trekking is for Sydney. It will be the first socks I've knit for her since she was a baby.

The green is Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet for Son John's birthday socks. The gorgeous Kaffe Fassett dark jewel tones are for me. At least I think so. They had tags on them that said "Grandma B.". I'm checking with John to make sure that's what he intended.

The bumper sticker extra says Harmony Yarn in the small print.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wednesday Wings - Gold Finches

This is only the second winter I've fed thistle seed to the gold finches. They love it and we always have a group hanging on the feeder.

The goldfinches are tiny birds. In the fall they lose their gold color and turn winter olive drab.

If you are wondering about the feeder, click on over to last year's post about the Kaytee Finch Station . I give it an A+ and they're cheap.

This one bag model only cost nine dollars and came with an extra bag. There's a plastic hopper not showing in the picture. It stores some extra seed and holds the bag.

The gold finches also eat sunflower seeds with the larger birds.

The big bird is a female cardinal. The reddish bird is a house finch. The four other birds are gold finches in their winter coloration.

In the spring, the male gold finches turn (can you guess?) gold along with the daffodils.

This picture was taken last summer when the world was a brighter, sunnier place in so many ways.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Flashback 5 Years Then Back To The 80s

Now that I've been blogging over five years, I can go back that long and dig up the best of the month minus five years to share with my current readers. (I think the only person reading my blog back then was my mother. Thanks mom.)

Back then I participated in an ongoing meme called "Blogger Idol". We were assigned a topic each week and then voted on who did the best job with it.

Here is my entry for January 18, 2004:

This weeks Blogger Idol theme is 'The 80s'.

Forget the Whales, Save the Working Woman coffee mug

Forget the Whales. Save the Working Woman!
The Eighties is the decade I entered the world of corporate America as a female computer programmer. It was a great decade for women to get established in the workforce, especially in the technical fields. Little or no experience was needed.

My Resume Lacked a Job Experience Section
I have a college degree in Biomedical Science with a minor in Chemistry. In the early Eighties, companies were desperate for people who could learn programming. I scored very high on a programming aptitude test and I had a vague idea what a computer was, so I got hired to be a COBOL programmer. My hiring manager gave me his "Computer 101" book to read over the weekend and told me to come to the office on Monday to start learning COBOL. It was the start of a very satisfying career.

One Point was Better than None
In the Eighties companies were hiring women over men in order to make their Equal Opportunity quotas. A white woman employee was worth one point. A minority woman employee was worth two points. I was only a one point woman. Both places I worked in the Eighties asked if I had any Black female programming friends who might be looking for a job.

The Record
Twenty-eight is my career record for greatest number of men in a business meeting where I was the only woman. There was also one token Black man at that meeting. We huddled together and started a friendship that lasted two decades.

Dress for Success - or Else!
In the Eighties technical professional women wore suits: skirt, jacket, blouse with panty hose and high heels, earrings, and gold chains. Appearance was very important. Managers were evaluated on the appearance of their technical employees.

When I got a problem call in the middle of the night I was out of bed, dressed, and off to the office - in jeans. After all, it was the middle of the night. One time after working all night on a very challenging problem, I was still at work in my jeans when the office opened at 7 am. I was reprimanded. My manager told me that from now on when I was called in the middle of the night, I was to dress "properly" before coming in. He was so upset he forgot to say thank you for fixing the problem.

Working for Pin Money?
In the Eighties my new manager was meeting individually with his people to get to know us better. He was very old school, but I could see that he was trying hard to accept a woman on his team. During our meeting he was nervous and he blurted out, "It's OK that you're working. My wife works part time for pin money."

I was afraid this meant I would never get a promotion or a raise from this man. The opposite was true. He went out of his way to make sure he treated me fairly just because he was afraid that he wouldn't. I ended up being very fond of him.

What Does that Cabinet Do?
By the middle of the Eighties, the computer punchcards were gone and we all had our own terminal in our office. One day a six foot tall maple cabinet, locked and on wheels, appeared in our area. Our manager informed us that the cabinet contained a personal computer made by IBM. We were told to rotate it around our workgroup and get familiar with it because it was the wave of the future.

We rotated it. Noone knew what to do with it, but we obediently took turns having the cabinet in our office. I never did see anyone actually use that PC for anything. I wonder now if there was any software on it other than DOS.

Time Passes, Things Change
What fun looking back on the beginning decade of my technical career. Technology has come a long way since the Eighties. Women in the workforce have come a long way since the Eighties. It's been a pleasure watching both.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Chat Back for January 24

Answering questions from comments and email.

Dani asked . . .
Please tell me that you have a snow-blower or plow of some sort.

With the heavy snowfalls we've had this year, a "snowplow fairy" has come to plow us out. It's probably a neighbor.

DH saw him out the window once just long enough to give a wave and motion for him to stick around a minute, but he waved back and drove off. The rest of the time he's sneaked in when we weren't looking.

It's a wonderful good deed he's doing. I'll be watching for his truck when I drive around the area so I can give him proper thanks.

Marcia asked . . .
I'd love to hear candid comments about the yarn you chose. How is it to knit with? Did you do a swatch and block it? etc.

Here are some comments about Bretton from past blog posts:
  • Bretton is a lovely, soft yarn with a slight halo. Very alpacaish in nature although it's only 5% alpaca. Patternworks calls Bretton a DK weight, but it could easily be used for a sport weight pattern.
  • Bretton is discounted if bought by the bag. With the 25% nylon content, leftover skeins are perfect for socks. Bretton makes wonderful warm cuddly socks or mitts.
  • 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.

After all that hype I have to admit this is the first non-sock garment I've knit with Bretton. I have knit about a dozen pair of Bretton socks, carrying along a strand of fingering weight sock yarn to make worsted weight, really warm socks. Some of the socks are mine and they're my favorites to wear this time of year. I wish I had more.

The yarn is soft, but not too soft to give good stitch definition. It knits smooth and I have yet to find a skein with a knot.

You bet I knit a swatch! I'm a great believer in knitting swatches with the entire center cable back to a side seam. I've always found it fun to knit swatches and they tell me so much.

After washing, it's easy to get a perfect fit with a measurement over a quarter of the sweater width. I learn the cables and often find things I'd like a little different. Sometimes I find the yarn I was planning to use is not the best choice.

See and read about the pink vest swatching here.

Paula has a new family member, "Destructo the Amazing Poop-producing Puppy" that her husband found in the road. They've named her Muffin. It's going to be fun watching how big this little girl gets. If you like adorable puppy pictures, click on over and see the fun.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Lilac Scarf Finished

Mom's vest requires more attention than I wanted to give to my knitting on inauguration day. I needed something mindless and pleasurable for inaugural knitting. The first things that came to mind - Andean Treasure, scarf, and a knit/purl Barbara Walker reversible stitch pattern.

Knitpicks Andrean Treasure, 100% baby alpaca, caresses the hands as it slides on and off the needles. It's almost too soft to be practical, but it's perfect for next-to-the-skin scarves.

I dug down into my stash bin and found three skeins of Andean Treasure in Lilac. Guessing that was enough for a nice length scarf, I plucked it out and went to look for a stitch pattern.

Since I don't like the thought of a scarf flipping over to an unattractive "wrong side", I pulled out a Barbara Walker book to find a pretty, reversible knit/purl stitch pattern.

Imitation Lattice is found on page 34 of A Treasury Of Knitting Patterns (the blue book) by Barbara G. Walker.

It's a multiple of 12 +1, so I guessed 25 stitches in pattern with 5 stitches of seed stitch on each side to prevent curling would give a scarf somewhere around 7 inches wide.

Andean Treasure has a halo, so I was able to use #7 needles and still get a nice fabric even though it's a sport weight yarn. If I were using Andean Treasure for a sweater I would want a tighter fabric and use smaller needles.

One skein made 20 inches of scarf, so I ended up with a warm, soft, fuzzy, 60 inch scarf. It will be going to the orphanage for older children in Akkol, Kazakakhstan.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Canine Complaints

Although I resolved not to whine about winter weather in January, the dogs have not joined me in that resolution. I'm hearing many canine complaints about deep snow and sub-zero temperatures.

From Glory, a 13 year old lab mix:

See my gray hair? I'm old. From now on I want to spend the winter in Florida. Arrange it please.

From Sunny, a 7 year old 14 pound Papillon mix:

It took me a long time to get this laundry arranged just right. I am not going out with you. The only thing I'm getting up for is food, and it better be good.

From Pappy, a 10 year old 14 pound Papillon:

There's some sun shining in the window but it's still awful outside. How's a fellow suppose to chase rodents when the snow is over his head?

I can't even take a nice walk in the paths mom made because my little feet freeze. Then mom has to carry me back to the house. How humiliating. Hope the rodents aren't watching.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Progress on Mom's Vest

I never post a cabled project picture without wondering if I'm going to spot a wayward cable crossing. Why is it easier to see mistakes in a picture than in the actual knitting?

Thankfully, all the cables seem to be behaving in this picture. I hope to have the vest done soon.

Pattern: Cabled Vest, a Martha Hall design exclusively from Patternworks. Free with Bretton yarn purchase.

Yarn: Patternworks Bretton. 70% superwash wool, 25% nylon, 5% alpaca.

Color: Pink Diamond.

Needles: Addi Turbo #6.

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch in pattern.

  • Knit in round with purl column fake seam up each side.
  • Mirrored side cables.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Chat Back for January 17

Answering questions from comments and email.

Kathleen C asked . . .
I was looking at the bird mess hall shot... and I wondered if they all get along? Our hummingbirds were awfully territorial about their feeder this Summer... do some breeds chase others off or do they co-operate in this kind of weather?

In general they all get along, but some species get more respect than others.

When the Bluejays fly in, most of the little birds scatter out to the bushes and trees for a brief time. Those who stay, keep their distance. The Bluejays don't have to chase the other birds off, the others seem to know the Jays rule.

At the suet feeder, the woodpeckers rule. The small Downeys fly aside for the larger Hairys. The Hairys patiently wait for the even larger Red-Bellies to finish before taking their turn. Nobody messes with the Flicker while it is eating suet. But again, I've never seen an actual confrontation. The birds just seem to know their place in the pecking order.

Carrie asked . . .
Am I imagining it, or is that a very fat cardinal?

Don't worry, we're not over feeding the birds.

It's very cold here right now. The birds fluff themselves up to trap air in their feathers and stay warm.

Pat M. asked . . .
Is there a gauge that tells you if a shoe is a certain size what size the sock should be?

I use the Brannock Chart.

Click on "printer friendly version" in the upper right corner for a chart big enough to read.

If you know how many rows/inch you knit and you know how many rows needed for a sock that fits you, you can easily calculate how many more or less rows it will take to knit socks to fit any size shoe using the chart. Male, female, child, European sizes are all included and compared.

Sue J. asked . . .
I mean, how long can a person put up with sunshine and 50 degree weather?

I'd like to try some 50 degree weather. That's 50 warmer than it's been here in SW Michigan for the past week. But if all this snow melts too fast we'll be too busy dealing with the resulting flooding to enjoy the warmth, so let's work up to it gradually.

According to AccuWeather, the week we're finishing marks the end of the worst of the winter for SW Michigan. Temps are going to get back in the 20s and 30s and driving will once again be occasionally possible without risking our bumpers.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Knitting Socks That Don't Bag

Susan asked . . .
What suggestions can you give for knitting socks that stay up? Do you have a secret? My son who is in the Army loves the Olive Drab socks that I knit for him, but he says they slide down. Yikes! Any advice?

Lots of advice! I hate baggy socks and that's one of the first problems I learned to avoid when I started knitting socks ten years ago.

As an extra benefit, when socks stay in place they are much less likely to get holes worn in them.

Here are my suggestions for knitting socks that fit right and stay in place.

Use a firm gauge.
If the gauge is too loose, the socks will bag. If the gauge is too tight, the socks will be hard to pull on and uncomfortable. Almost always, the gauge on the ball band is not tight enough.

After some trial and sagging error, these are the needle sizes and stockinette gauges I use for socks. The gauge is the critical number. Needle size to get gauge may vary for each knitter.
  • Fingering weight: 8 stitches/inch using #1, 2.5mm needles. I've also been happy with 8.5 stitches/inch using 2.25mm needles.
  • Sport weight: 7 stitches/inch using #3 needles. I haven't knit many sport weight socks, so this number may need to be tweaked.
  • Worsted weight: 5 stitches/inch using #5 needles.

Use the right number of stitches around.
To find the ideal number of stitches around use 90% of the ankle measurement times stitches/inch.

For most socks a certain stitch multiple is required. It's OK to add or subtract a few stitches to get a required multiple, especially with fingering weight yarn.

Example with my measurements in case you want to knit me a pretty pair of socks:
  • 7.5 inches (ankle measurement) times 8 stitches/inch (gauge) = 60
  • 60 times .9 (way to calculate 90% of a number) = 54.
  • I use 56 since I usually knit patterns that are a multiple of 8.

Remember that some stitch patterns will change your stockinette gauge. Lace patterns are usually looser fabric than stockinette. Cable and twist patterns create a tighter gauge than stockinette. Calculate accordingly.

I have narrow feet. For years I've been knitting myself 56 stitch socks on 2.5mm needles and they fit perfect. I can use as many as 60 stitches around before the socks get too big for my leg but then I do the gusset decreases down to 56 to fit my skinny feet.

It is perfectly acceptable to have a different stitch count on the foot than on the leg if foot shape or cuff stitch pattern dictate. The number of ideal foot stitches is calculated the same way as number of cuff stitches. Measure around the foot at the smallest foot circumference.

Make the heel depth long enough:
The height of the heel flap usually needs to be taller than the pattern dictates. If the heel flap is not as tall as the human heel, the sock will want to go down into the shoe creating sockwide sagging.

I have smallish (size 6 shoe), narrow, flat feet and I knit my heel flap 2.5 inches tall.

My daughter-in-law is a tall lady with larger feet. I knit her heel flap 3 inches tall.

For my very tall son (6'6"), I knit his heel flap 3.2 inches.

If the sock recipient is available for measuring, take the actual measurement from the floor to the top of the heel. You may be surprised at how tall the heel actually is. Knit the heel about 10% less tall than the actual measurement. Socks need to stretch a bit in order to fit well.

Don't skimp on the ribbing.
The less ribbing that's going to be in the leg of the sock, the more ribbing that needs to be on the top of the cuff.

I use about two inches of k1p1 ribbing to start a 7 to 8 inch cuff. Sometimes I do vary the ribbing to flow into the stitch pattern I'm going to be using.

I've read that k2p2 ribbing is more elastic than k1p1 ribbing. That's not my experience. Maybe it's just the way I knit, but I believe I knit normal stitches.

Ribbing based stitch patterns are perfect for socks.
Whenever possible I like to use a pretty stitch pattern that has purl columns in the pattern to provide the elasticity of ribbing.

The free patterns offered on this website are all based on a ribbing.

Basketweave Ribbing Socks

Shetland Lace Rib Socks

More Fun Than Cables Socks

Even when I don't run the stitch pattern down the top of the foot, I like to continue the purl troughs all the way down to the toe to make the foot more elastic.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wednesday Wings - Under the Feeder

I've lost track of which predicted snowstorm just finished and which one is expected this evening. We've escaped the high winds, but not the single digit (F) temperatures and snow, snow, snow.

It's too cold for the road salt to work so driving is like playing bumper cars. To complicate matters, visibility periodically reduces to "where is the road?" condition.

The Cardinal picture was taken during a period of heavy snowfall. The pictures below were taken during a lighter snowfall but much colder temps.

This little Red Squirrel dug himself a burrow in a foot of packed down snow under the board we keep stocked with bird seed.

It's his own little squirrel size igloo complete with room service when seeds drop into the opening.

I wish those birds would be a little more accurate with their seed dropping. It's cold out here!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Simple Woman Prompts for January 12

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

FOR TODAY January 12, 2009 ...

Outside my window... The birds are gobbling up the seed. I love knowing I can make this difficult winter a little easier for them.

I am thinking... That all my efforts to get the car shoveled out of the driveway after 15 inches of snow this weekend may be for aught because another winter storm warning has been issued for this evening and all day tomorrow.

I am thankful for... Being retired so I don't "have" to go anywhere when the roads are slippery and/or visibility is poor. Now I need to learn to relax and enjoy this luxury instead of being annoyed when my plans are cancelled.

From the learning rooms... Do trumpet lessons count? I'm working on hitting the F above tuning C with ease. Right now it only happens sometime.

From the kitchen... I'm trying not to think about food because I need to lose ten pounds.

I am wearing... Gray sweat pants and a gray, long sleeved insulated underwear shirt. Not very charming, but comfortable and easy to pile layers on when I go outdoors.

I am creating... Knitting away on Mom's pink vest. It's 268 stitches around with cables so progress is slow.

I am going... To doggy school with Sunny tonight if it looks like we will get home before the storm starts. And, of course, if I'm done shoveling out the driveway.

I am reading...
Just finished Charlotte MacLeod's Rest You Merry, a Christmas gift from my mother.

Very well written and fun to read. I'll be looking for other Charlotte MacLeod books at the library.

I am hoping... That the two winter storms forecast for this week fizzle out before they get to SW Michigan. I have places I want to go, things I want to do besides shoveling.

It's obvious by my answers that our harsh winter is dominating life right now. Not a whine, just an observation.

I am hearing... Quiet except for the hum of DH Bob's desktop computer. All three dogs are sleeping. Walking in the deep snow makes them very tired. Me too.

Around the house... We have enough supplies to easily get us through a week of being snowed in.

One of my favorite things... My "Forget the whales, save the working woman!" mug was a gift from daughter Heather over twenty-five years ago when she was just starting high school and I was a working woman. It is sooooo 80's.

I hauled it out of the cupboard today to use it for some hot chocolate and realized that it's now over 25 years old.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
  • Monday night Sunny and I go to doggy school.
  • Tuesday is a stay home day. Winter storm expected.
  • Wednesday is trip to library and grocery store in the morning, trumpet lesson in Kalamazoo in the evening.
  • Thursday afternoon I have a haircut appointment in Kalamazoo. In the evening Pappy and I go to doggy school.
  • Sunny needs to go to the vet for her annual shots and checkup.
  • I will continue knitting on Mom's vest and start thinking about some charity knitting.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

I must remember to look at the beauty and be thankful for indoor plumbing and central heating.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Chat Back for Janaury 10

Answering questions from comments and email.

It's a lovely January day. Weather report at end of post.

Megan asked . . .
I was wondering this morning if you and your dogs are still able to get out in the evenings to go to doggy school during the winter?

Here's Pappy looking out the window to check the weather to see if a trip to doggy school is going to be possible.

In Michigan we're prepared for winter. We have snowplows. We have road salt. We know how to drive on ice and through snow.

When the weather is severe, I try to use good judgement on if it's safe to drive to doggy school or not. Most times we go and all is well. Sometimes we just have to stay home and the dogs pout.

So far this winter Sunny has missed two classes and Pappy hasn't missed any.

Dorothy asked . . .
Are you getting something "trumpety" from Dave??

Yes, brother Dave has created something beautiful and trumpety for me. I'll be sure to post a picture when it arrives.

Kathy B asked . . .
Do let me know how you like the camera. I'm on the prowl for a new one. Happy New Year.

This is my third Canon digital and I do like it.

My first Canon, a Powershot A70, is five years old now. I still use it occasionally when I want to take pictures someplace that might be dangerous for a camera - like outside in a snowstorm.

My second Canon, a Powershot S3 IS is the one I use for zoom shots of the birds and most of my knitting shots, although I've started using the new little SD770 for some of the knitting pictures. The S3 IS is too big to carry around in my purse, which is why I wanted the new tiny camera.

I'd been looking at smaller Canons for months, ever since I saw what my brother could do with his SD1100. I just didn't want to spend the money. The new little SD770 measures 3.5 inches x 2 inches and is 3/4 inch deep. It's easy to use, takes great pictures, and I love it.

Susan asked . . .
What suggestions can you give for knitting socks that stay up? Do you have a secret? My son who is in the Army loves the Olive Drab socks that I knit for him, but he says they slide down. Yikes! Any advice?

I hate baggy socks so I have lots of advice.

I'll make this answer a separate blog post hopefully nest week.

Dorothy asked . . .
Any progress on Chenille?

Chenille has been gathering dust since I finished the back in October.

The love is gone. The problem is the yarn. It's not as nice as the Knitpicks Andean Treasure alpaca and I've discovered I don't look all that great in pale pink now that I'm almost white headed.

The jury is still out on if I'm going to frog it or not. Meanwhile, it's in time out.

Kathy B asked . . .
Do you know of a nice basic pattern that isn't in a book, that I can start knitting my gansey ? I would love to order a pattern, Im looking for a basic botttom and a not too complex top portion, knit in the round.

I don't have any individual gansey patterns.

Knitting Ganseys by Beth Brown-Reinsel sells for about $16 on Amazon. I highly recommend it for all knitting libraries. It does have three adult gansey patterns as well as all the information to vary them for your own unique design.

All the patterns and techniques in the book are seamless, knit in the round, bottom up with simple knit/purl motifs on the top.

Sue asked . . .
I love the Kaffe Fasset socks. And Opal is the nicest sock yarn. Did you find the KF yarn splitty?

The KF yarn is just like the other Regia sock yarn if you've ever used it. Tough but reasonably soft and not splitty at all.

Like Opal, Regia can be thrown in the washer and dryer so a gift recipient will (hopefully) actually wear the socks.

Kathleen C asked . . .
when you say the hemp blend softens up do you mean the way linen yarns do? I hesitate at hemp because it does feel so stiff and scratchy, but so does linen... until you wash it a couple times. Then it's heavenly soft! And drapey... almost too drapey. Does hemp get drapey?

I don't feel experienced enough with hemp and linen to answer this question.

The Coto Canapone, 52% cotton, 48% hemp, softens up nice when washed. I'm hoping Carrie's February Lady Sweater doesn't soften up too much or that worsted weight lace is going to bag all over.

My Coto Canapone gansey sweater is knit tight. Although it's not as soft as a cotton/acrylic blend I've used (Comfy from Knitpicks), the cotton/flax is holding its shape better, has better stitch definition, no pilling, and it's comfortable to wear even in hot weather.

Sheila asked . . .
If you can't be cranky with your blogger friends, where can you be cranky?

I'm tired of my own weather whining so this is not a whine. This is reporting.

We have over a foot of new snow and it's been coming down hard and heavy ever since I got up eight hours ago.

When it finally stops snowing tomorrow, the temperature is forecast to hover around zero for the first part of the week. Translation: Nothing is going to melt and it's going to be too cold to shovel unless we want to have heart attacks.

We keep having our worse weather on the weekends. I suspect tomorrow is going to be the 4th week in a row I won't be able to make it to church. I can't remember ever missing four weeks of church in a row.

This is turning into a whine, isn't it?

Friday, January 09, 2009

Snow and Start of Cabled Vest

It's been snowing all day. I'm not whining, just reporting.

That's one of my few New Year's resolutions - to stop whining about the weather when the weather is normal for the season.

This winter started in November while it still should have been autumn and, I admit, I whined. Now it's January and cold with snow is normal January weather in Michigan. I'm done whining about it until March 15 when the robins return and spring is supposed to begin.

Any snow that happens after March 15 will be whined about.

My new knitting project is a vest for Mom. She asked for a washable vest "like the socks you knit for me."

I picked Patternworks Bretton for the yarn and Mom picked the color. Bretton is a lovely, soft yarn with a slight halo. Very alpacaish in nature although it's only 5% alpaca. Patternworks calls Bretton a DK weight, but it could easily be used for a sport weight pattern.

Bretton is discounted if bought by the bag. With the 25% nylon content, leftover skeins are perfect for socks.

Pattern: Cabled Vest, a Martha Hall design exclusively from Patternworks. Free with Bretton yarn purchase.

Yarn: Patternworks Bretton. 70% superwash wool, 25% nylon, 5% alpaca.

Color: Pink Diamond.

Needles: Addi Turbo #6.

Gauge: 6 stitches/inch in pattern.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

February Lady Sweater Finished

It's headed to North Carolina to sister Carrie as soon as it gets wrapped and off to the post office.

Cotton/flax ends are not easy to hide in a lace pattern. At least I don't know any easy tricks for securing them. Even though I did the splicing join there were still ends and I couldn't just clip them off like I do with sticky wool.

I split the four ply yarn into 2 ply threads and used a sharp smallish needle to bury the ends in their neighboring stitches.

Other than the ends, it was a joy to knit.

This is my third project using cotton/hemp and I'm very fond of the blend. It doesn't stretch like cotton but it's not uncomfortable on the hands to knit. It gets softer with each washing without losing its shape and doesn't take forever and ever to dry.

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.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wednesday Wings - Flicker

DH Bob is Mr. Magoo without his glasses.

When he spotted something big (12 to 14 inches) with yellow under its tail at the suet feeder, he popped his glasses on quick to see a Flicker come to eat.

I've occasionally seen Flickers in the yard, but this is the first Flicker to take advantage of our free food.

The preferred Flicker food is ants, not easy to find this time of year.

With his long sharp bill, he's not having any trouble getting some of the frozen suet.

This picture from the back shows how he is all puffed up to stay warm.

It amazes me that any bird can live through a Michigan winter without a place to get out of the cold, wind, snow, and ice.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Sending Socks to Oregon

Brother Dave and I are both behind on our Christmas creations. Now Karen and Dave's socks are done and ready to get wrapped and mailed.

Dave is moderately tall and has long feet - size 14 shoes. I knit the cuffs eight inches long and had to add a new ball of yarn while doing the toe decreases. If I had knit the cuffs seven inches long, one skein would have been enough.

Since I bought four 50g skeins of this yarn, there's plenty left to knit a second pair of socks for someone with a normal size foot.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 72 stitches. k5p1 ribbing on cuff and instep.

Yarn: Regia.

Color: Kaffe Fassett 4251.

Needles: Options 2.5

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

These Opal Monkeys are for Karen, Dave's SO.

The yarn is a bit busy for the Monkey stitch pattern, but I had to knit some kind of interesting stitch to keep from going stockinette crazy.

The socks look nicer in real life.

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

Yarn: Opal.

Color: Smoke.

Needles: Options 2.5

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Christmas, Knitting Gifts Received

Cables, Diamonds, Herringbone: Secrets of Knitting Traditional Fishermen's Sweaters by Sabine Domnick. A gift from Granddaughter Sydney.

My knitting book collection reflects the fact that I love knitting Gansey type sweaters. Somehow I missed this book until I spotted it a few months ago and I popped it on my Amazon wish list. So glad I did.

While I have yet to study it in detail, I can tell it's going to be a popular book to pull off the shelf when I'm thinking of my next Gansey. It has some nice sweater patterns and well written technical information. There are some new to me, complicated and attractive gussets. Also Gansey designs with a shoulder strap, knit in the round with no seams.

With all the different stitch patterns, there's no reason to ever get bored knitting a Gansey. I'm looking forward to my next one.

Continuous Cables by Melissa Leapman. A gift from DH Bob.

This book has a stitch dictionary of Elsebeth Lavold type cables, cables with no beginning and no ending. There's nothing like this in my knitting library and I'm excited to have it.

There's even a music note cable. Bet I will find a place to knit that, for sure.

Using some left over yarn from my Summer Spice Gansey, I knit a little case for my new camera.

The flap is just the right length to tuck in instead of requiring a button.

Now I can carry the camera around in my purse.

Pattern: Made it up as I knit. Mostly seed stitch. Flap is 11 stitches wide. Bag is 36 stitches around. Put a four stitch cable up the front and back to supply some extra padding.

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

Color: Summer Spice.

Needles: Options #4

Gauge: 5.5 stitches/inch, 8 rows/inch.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Christmas, the People

We had a very nice family Christmas get together yesterday. I was having such a good time that my camera was forgotten until we started making noises about it being time to go. So here are some last minute smiling faces.

Party was hosted by Mom in Kalamazoo, a nice central place to meet with Daughter Heather coming from the east, DH Bob and me coming from the west.

Seeing Granddaughter Kimmy is always a highlight for me. She is thirteen now and gets prettier every time I see her.

Daughter Heather takes awful pictures. A beautiful face goes into the camera and some weird expression never seen in real life comes out in the picture.

She's probably going to hate this picture, but it's the best of the lot. It does capture her happy personality.

Grandkids rate two pictures, so here is Kimmy again.

She's hoping for a snow storm Sunday so she can postpone going back to school on Monday. None of the adults think this is a good plan. There are three more months of winter in Michigan, plenty of time for numerous additional snow storms. We need a break before the next one.

DH Bob's pictures turned out awful and I love him too much to put them online for the world to see.

This picture is from last year's Christmas party. This year he sat in the same chair and looked pretty much the same except for a little longer beard and hair. He even wore the same red flannel shirt.