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 30, 2010

Chat Back for January 30

Answering questions from comments and email.

Thanks to everyone who left me a comment about using Google Reader.

The switch from Bloglines to Google Reader was completed this morning. In just a few clicks Google grabbed my 116 feeds and their folders. Having the folders come as part of the conversion was a pleasant surprise. I was impressed with how easy it was.

Now I'm getting complete posts for everyone which I really appreciate. Being on dialup it saves so much time.

With minimal fumbling around to see how everything works, I'm fully functional in Google Reader now and love it. Wish I'd converted a long time ago.

Lynn asked . . .
Do you have issues with Lyme Disease in your area?

It's not much of an issue here. We have lots of wood ticks, the kind that don't carry Lyme disease, but I've never noticed one of the smaller deer ticks or known anyone in the area to get Lyme Disease.

Maybe I'm living in ignorance about the possibility, but that's OK. There isn't much I can do about it other than what I'm already doing to avoid getting sucked by the wood ticks.

Jean asked . . .
Do they (the BFF socks) have some give for a better fit or are they stiff because of the cables?

The pattern has just the right amount of give.

The base pattern is a ribbing and there's no problem getting the sock over my instep even though I knit them to be snug fitting.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Haloscan and Bloglines

Haloscan, the application and server this blog uses for comments, is shutting down February 11. As I understand it, there will be no way to retain years of my comments unless "someone" writes a program. It didn't sound promising.

Since I'm going to be switching over to Blogger comments, it's the perfect time to do the blog redesign I've been procrastinating for over a year. I'll practice on my old blog Seasons of Violet to get an idea of what I like, but this blog will be seeing major changes before the February 11 deadline.

If you come here and the layout is a mess, it means I'm working on it. At least I hope that's what it means.

Lately I've discovered that some of my favorite blogs are publishing and Bloglines is not picking up the feed. There are other problems with Bloglines that I forgive, but missing out on knowing when my cyber friends post is unforgivable. I want to switch readers, but haven't looked to see what else is available.

If you use a reader you like, would you please leave me a comment and let me know what to check out?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Hedonist Cardinal Socks

For some mid-January winter knitting pleasure I'm knitting myself a pair of socks from Slackford Studio Hedonist Sock yarn, 80% Superwash Merino, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon.

The stitch pattern is from one of my stitch pattern books, Beautiful Knitting Patterns by Gisela Klopper. It's a simple 8 stitch knit purl pattern with a knit 7 purl 1 ribbing base. Easy to memorize and interesting to look at.

The yarn color name is Cardinal and Mr. Cardinal approves - as long as I keep the feeder loaded.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wednesday Wings - Cardinals Eating Suet

Cardinals are platform feeders. They don't use hanging feeders where they have to cling or use a perch. Therefore, they don't normally eat the suet we put out in the hanging suet feeders and it's never crossed my mind they might like to do so.

This week I found out by accident that Cardinals love suet if the suet is available in a Cardinal acceptable way.

It all happened because of possum poop.

I went out to insert a new suet cake in the feeder but couldn't get directly under it without stepping in the possum poop.

Not wanting to track possum poop back into the house, I leaned over and awkwardly jammed in the suet cake.

Because of the left-over sliver of the previous suet cake, the new one didn't slide all the way down into the wire holder.

The Cardinals thought this was wonderful luck. They used the top of the suet feeder as a platform and took turns chowing down on the suet.

Now I no longer consider my feeder collection complete. I need to find some type of suet feeder where the Cardinals can stand on a flat surface and feast.

Monday, January 25, 2010

BFF Socks Finished

Don't have much to say about these socks except I'm happy with them and looking forward to wearing them often.

The pattern instructions are a good example of how to increase for a sock cable after the ribbing is finished and decrease for the heel or toe once the cabling is finished.

Pattern: BFF Socks, a free pattern by Cookie A. Size 56 stitches.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Billie Jean.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Evening stroll through the melting snow.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Chat Back for January 23

Answering questions from comments and email.

Sheila asked . . .
How do you like knitting with 2 circulars?
I enjoy knitting socks with two circulars, although I use three circulars when picking up the gusset.

I started using circulars about eight years ago when we got our first little dog. She would jump up in my lap without warning or respect for what I was doing and I didn't want her to get hurt on the double points. The circulars just flop down when not in use so they're not as likely to poke a jumping dog or get rammed into me.

Other than the safety factor, I don't have a preference between circulars and double points. Because of the time spend pushing the knitting from one end to the other, the circulars aren't any faster for me.

Kathy B wrote . . .
Sorry you had to frog. Hope the yarn reknits well.

It did reknit well. The Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio was just like new after I frogged it.

Ann wrote . . .
Hope you have got over the frogging of the BFF sock.

Yes, I'm over it and the cuff is reknit correctly. I'm on the gusset decreases of both socks so they should be done this weekend.

Ice and snow are not the only road hazzards in rural SW Michigan.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ivy Vine Cowl and Flowers in January

Last post said I was going to cast on something small and quick to knit until I got over the pain of frogging a seven inch cuff back to the ribbing.

Then I hopped over to Pat's Knitting and Quilting and spotted the perfect project - Ivy Vines a lacy cowl by Anne Hanson.

If you want to see what the cowl looks like on a human neck, Pat has lovely pictures over on her blog.

While it's the perfect project for a luxury yarn, I didn't have any luxury yarn in a color that would go with my dog walking parka, so I picked a skein of Nature Spun wool instead.

Pattern: Ivy Vines a lacy cowl by Anne Hanson.

Yarn: Nature Spun wool, sport weight.

Color: light gray

Needles: #3 and #4 16" circulars, down a size from what the pattern calls for. Fit is OK but fabric should probably be looser for a better drape. If I knit another, I'll go up a needle size.

Flowers make the perfect gift for a birthday in the middle of January.

Thanks Mom.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

BFF Socks Setback

Last time you saw these socks there were two seven inch cuffs completed and looking good.

It wasn't until I started to pick up gusset stitches for the second sock that I noticed they didn't match. Instead of alternating knit panel - cable panel on the second sock, it had a knit panel on both ends of each needle.

If I had been knitting these socks at the White House, I could have entertained the Obamas with a frogging demonstration.

Pattern: BFF Socks, a free pattern by Cookie A. Size 56 stitches.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Billie Jean.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Since I only have two projects on the needles, these socks and the ignored for several months but ready to appear again soon red gansey, I'm going to cast on something small and quick to knit until I get over the pain of frogging a seven inch cuff back to the ribbing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Inadequate January Thaw

Last week the weather man said we were going to have a January thaw and it did thaw a little. Just enough to melt the snow down so it could refreeze and make a lot of ice.

We've had "freezing drizzle" and "freezing fog" with more to come in the week ahead.

This is a mid day picture of our dreary sky.

Doesn't it just make you want to plop down and take a nap?

The little dogs are sliding all over on the crusty, icy snow so I keep them close to the house. When they try to get into "position" to do what they need to do, their little feet slide out from under them.

I've been taking Glory on walks in the back field without the little dogs. She thinks that's wonderful.

Knowing the January weather we could be having, I can't whine about this half-hearted thaw. It's a nice break from shoveling.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

BFF Socks

I wasn't going to knit any more socks for the Sock Innovation KAL, (a Ravelry link), but I couldn't resist this pattern that was chosen for January. Just what I wanted, a simple, well fitting, pair of socks with a ribbing base.

The pattern is free and comes in three sizes - 56, 64, and 72 stitches.

I wear jeans every day, so this color is just perfect. These socks will be one of the first on my feet every time they're clean and ready to wear.

Pattern: BFF Socks, a free pattern by Cookie A. Size 56 stitches.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Billie Jean.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Granddaughter Sydney's socks are done. Knit with the yarn she picked out to give me for my birthday.

Pattern: Basic cuff down k1p1 ribbed socks on 48 stitches.

Yarn: On Your Toes. 75% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Wisdom of Brother Dave

My brother Dave, the world famous trumpet maker, called me to chat a few days ago. Here's a snippet of our conversation.

Dave: One of my clients just played for the Obamas at the White House.

Me: How could he do that? I'd be so nervous I couldn't get a note out.

Dave: Playing trumpet is his life. He lives for it. He wasn't nervous at all.

Dave: Would you be nervous knitting a sock at the White House?

Me: Well, no. I'm willing to entertain the Obamas with sock knitting anytime they want to invite me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wednesday Wings - White Breasted Nuthatch

The little White-breasted Nuthatch prefers to hunt his food from an upside down position.

When they visit a hanging seed feeder, they come down the side of the house upside down to approach it.

It takes all the fun out of the hunt to simply land on a board and have seed all around his feet.

But he decides it's OK to eat some anyway.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Anne's Birthday Socks Finished

Although simple, these socks were an entertaining puzzle to knit because the skein of yarn had three knots and each knot started the color sequence in a different place.

I started out knitting from the skein until I hit the first knot, about an inch and a half down the first cuff. Then I carefully wound the skein into multiple balls, documenting the color sequences of each ball to calculate the best way to proceed for matching socks.

Other than the knots, the yarn appears to be nice. It felt "wooly", even with the added Aloe Vera. Not necessarily a bad thing for those of us, including Anne, who have real winters.

Other knitter's have let me know it washes and wears well.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 64 stitches. k3p1 ribbing on cuff and instep.

Yarn: On Your Toes. 75% Superwash Wool, 25% Nylon.

Color: Moss.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Anne's socks have a seven inch cuff and she wears size 8 shoes.

The On Your Toes only has 390 yards of yarn and I was so certain I was going to run out that I ordered a second skein. It turned out to be unneeded. This is the total amount of yarn I had left over.

It will be interesting to see if the second skein I bought has knots. But I'm not interested enough to check it out this evening. For right now it's going in the stash with a reminder note that there isn't enough yarn for a man's pair of socks and there are possible knots.

Granddaughter Sydney sent lavender On Your Toes for her socks. Winding it into two balls, I found 5 knots!

Two of them were joining breaks in the yarn and interrupted the color sequence.

Three of the knots were something I've never come across before in all the sock yarn I've used - the yarn wasn't broken at all, it was just tightly tangled. I was able to untangle those knots and keep winding.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Chat Back for January 9

Answering questions from comments and email.

Jean asked . . .
Snow looks very deep - how high is it? How are the other dogs getting out? Do you have to dig an area for them?

Last weekend we had a foot when the snow was fresh. As the snow sits around it settles, making it denser but not as deep. That's a good thing, since we often have more snow before we get a thaw.

This week Thursday we had about six inches new on top of the settled foot. Now that's settled and a stick in the snow goes down eight to twelve inches depending on the drifting pattern.

When the snow is deep, the little dogs usually are happy to use the driveway. They go out on a 26 foot Flexi leash while I stand on the porch. When they want to venture away from the house I always go with them and often end up carrying them home because their feet hurt from the cold.

Today it's single digit cold and the little dogs are happy to do their business quick, close to the house, and race back to the door.

Jennifer asked . . .
I was wondering how you center your k3, p1 across the top of your foot

There are many ways to center the k3p1, but none that I know of where you can have an equal number of stitches on the heel side and instep side while you're knitting the cuff.

Here's one way for a 64 stitch sock:
  • Work 31 stitches on the heel side, starting with a k1, p1, k3 and ending with a p1, k1.

  • Work 33 stitches on the instep side, starting with a k2, p1, k3 and ending with a p1, k2.

  • Do a Make 1 in the middle of first row of the heel if you want an even number of stitches in the heel. I usually don't bother.

  • When decreasing the gusset, you can either

    • a) decrease down to 33 stitches and finish the foot on 66 stitches.

    • b) decrease down to 31 stitches. Make the first toe decrease on the instep side only in order to bring the stitch count back to an even 31 - 31.

Kathy in Iowa asked . . .
But, I am not familiar with that yarn brand. Any more information??
If my On Your Toes skeins are typical of the brand, you don't want to buy any!

I'll share details in a future post when I show the finished socks.

Marcia asked . . .
Do you ever have problems with squirrels in the feeders. I stopped feeding the birds because of 1. squirrels and 2. feral cats.

The squirrels we feed. It's either that or go crazy trying but failing to keep them away. With acceptance comes peace.

We buy our sunflower seed in 40 or 50 pound bags at Farmer Supply, which is less costly than buying seed elsewhere, even the discount stores. When the seed is cheaper, sharing with the squirrels doesn't hurt so much.

We don't have feral cats around, probably because we have three dogs. A friend who does have an occasional feral cat catches them in a no-kill trap/cage and takes them to the humane society. If you don't address the problem, they will multiply like rabbits.

Kathy asked . . .
Love the feeder. Ideas on where I could find one?

Birds Choice has a website. Many many interesting products that I'm going to keep in mind for future gift requests.

Mine came from Amazon.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Mom's Third Pair of Purple Socks Finished

Mom asked for purple socks, and she got them - medium purple, dark purple, and now a pastel purple.

Pattern: More Fun Than Cables.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Iced Lilac.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Now that we've had our snow cover refreshed with a new layer of about six inches, the temps are going to drop down into the single digits tonight.

Good thing we bought 120 pounds of sunflower seed Wednesday. The birds are going to need to eat to keep their body heat up.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Wednesday Wings - New Suet Feeder

One of my Christmas gifts from the Idaho family was a Birds Choice recycled suet feeder with tail prop.

I confess it was the tail prop and not the recycled label that got this feeder on my wish list. Still, it is interesting and nice that the feeder is constructed of poly-lumber made from milk jugs and plastic bottles.

The woodpeckers with their powerful pecking always stabilize their position with their tails.

This is a little male Downey woodpecker, the smallest and most populous woodpecker we feed. He thinks a tail prop is great.

So does this much larger female Red-bellied woodpecker.

The little Marsh Wren doesn't care a thing about the tail prop, but he thinks the suet is a fine idea.

Thanks John, Anne, and Sydney. The feeder is a big hit with me and the birds.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Yarn From Idaho

In the Christmas box from Idaho was a bag of yarn for my upcoming birthday with a note that I could open it immediately.

This is the second year the Idaho family has picked out their own birthday sock yarn so I'm ready to knit their birthday socks.

The dark blue is Happy Feet for Son John. He remembered I ran out of yarn for his man size feet last year, so this year he sent three skeins.

The purple On Your Toes is for Sydney. Her birthday isn't until April, a silly time to give wool socks to a rapidly growing child. I plan to knit hers up as soon as John sends me an ankle measurement and shoe size.

The green On Your Toes is for DIL Anne. The cuffs are started and I'm hoping to have them in the mail soon since her birthday is January 10.

The bright and happy red/pink/lime green is for me. Instead of adding it to the stash, I whipped up a pair of simple, practical socks to brighten up the colorless winter days ahead.

Thanks John, Anne, and Sydney.

Pattern: Basic k3p1 ribbing on 56 stitches

Yarn: Happy Feet. 90% superwash Merino, 10% nylon.

Color: 25

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Monday, January 04, 2010

Simple Woman's Daybook for January 4

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 4, 2010...

Outside my window...
It's lightly snowing and the bird feeders are busy.

I am thinking...
I've had enough sugar for a while.

I am thankful for...
The Kalamazoo Public Library which keeps me supplied with audio books and actual books. All for free as long as I get them back before the due date.

From the kitchen...
DH Bob just made a huge pot of what he calls chili. It's never the same twice and varies in taste so much that sometimes I like it and sometimes I don't. No matter, he always likes it and I can eat something else without worrying about what he's going to have.

I am wearing...
Jeans and a beige sweatshirt. Multi colored handknit wool socks and, as always, a bit of dog hair.

I am creating...
DIL Anne's birthday socks out of some On Your Toes sock yarn she selected.

I am going...
I was going to lunch in Kalamazoo with a friend today, but we postponed because of slippery roads and reported slideoffs.

I am reading...
Hothouse Orchid by Stuart Woods, the 6th book in the Holly Barker series.

Entertaining, no brainer reading. In fact, the Holly Barker books are best if you don't try to think about the loopholes in the plot.

People actually buy this book? Checking it out of the library, I am free to enjoy it for what it is. If I had paid money for it, I would be annoyed.

I am hoping...
That my church gets a new Senior Pastor soon. We've been without since September.

I am hearing...
The wind blow as the next Lake Effect Snow band moves into the area.

Around the house...
I've been lazy. Some Christmas things still need to be put away.

One of my favorite things...
The dogs all had a nice bath at the groomer last week so they're clean, fluffy, and soft.

She trimmed the hair on their feet and between their toes so the snow doesn't build up into ice there when they're outside.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Relax, knit, and enjoy the snow.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

More Fun Than Cables in Progress

Christmas Eve Mom pulled out her turquoise More Fun Than Cables, waved them in my face, and told me they were what she meant by "simple" and that these were one of her favorite pair of socks.

Getting the subtle hint, I decided to make her third pair of purple socks using the More Fun Than Cables pattern.

Pattern: More Fun Than Cables.

Yarn: Stalwart Sock from Slackford Studio. 75% Superwash Merino, 25% Nylon 4 Ply Fingering Weight Sock Yarn.

Color: Iced Lilac.

Needles: Options 2.50mm circulars.

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

Big dog Glory finally understands why the little dogs didn't join us on this walk.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Chat Back for January 2

Answering questions from comments and email.

Lynn asked . . .
I've never been to Bermuda but I've flown over the Bermuda Triangle to get to Puerto Rico. Is that the same thing?? LOL
Even though you're joking, I realized I didn't know the answer and had to look it up. What did we ever do before the Internet?

There are various versions of the Bermuda Triangle, but the most common has Bermuda at the North East corner and Puerto Rico at the South East corner. Miami is the third corner.

While on a business trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico in December about ten years ago I saw a newspaper headline that read "COLD WAVE!!!! Temperature Dips to 69 Degrees". That's when I realized the Bermuda Triangle is real and I was truly in a different dimension.

Marie asked (About the BonBon stitch pattern) . . .
Is it just me, or does the photo of the Bonbon stitch directions you linked to look like the cable is one large one twist, versus the little twin side-by-sides on your socks? Maybe it is an optical illusion because of the yarn?
The more the pattern is stretched horizontally, the more the two cable twists become obvious. The swatch for the stitch pattern sample is not stretched at all, but nice fitting socks always have a negative ease to show the bonbon twists in their full glory.

All is as advertised. The written instructions for the stitch pattern has a four stitch right cross done twice and the stitch pattern graph shows the same.

Dani asked (About the BonBon stitch pattern) . . .
Did you need to change anything to knit in the round?
The BonBon chart is 22 stitches. Repeated three times, it makes a nice 66 stitch sock cuff. To use the chart for knitting in the round, just start at the bottom right corner for Row 1 and then continue starting each following row/round on the right side of the chart.

Marianne asked . . .
I have commented before...but my comment never seems to show up.
Although I have no way to know if I see all your comments, I do see at least some of them.

I bet if you refresh your screen or leave and come back to look you will see your comments.

Kathy b asked . . .
All of those cardinals at once? Is this a mirror trick ?

We don't use mirrors, just lot of sunflower seed which we buy by the 50 pound bag.

The overgrown snowball bush in the picture is about fifteen feet from the board where the Cardinals feed. They rest up there between meals.

Cardinals like to feed on flat surfaces, not on hanging feeders. We have dozens of Cardinals who feed on the board and under the board. They're the first birds at the feeder at daybreak and the last birds to leave the feeder in the evening.

Dorothy wrote . . .
I was just thinking about you today and wondering if you were buried in snow. Love, love, love that picture with the cardinals. As you know, they are my favorite birds, but we don't have them here. So I do enjoy your photos of them very much.

Now that it's settled, the snow is about ten inches deep with only an additional inch or two expected. Nothing unusual for January weather.

It takes about three feet of snow before a Michigander will admit to being buried, but we have enough snow to make life a bit challenging.

While admitting it is possible to post too many Cardinal pictures, I plan to keep doing it. They're so pretty in winter I can't resist.

Glad you enjoy them.

Jan Berry Darling asked . . .
Is that a chipping sparrow??? Couldn't be at this time of year, could it?

Our Chipping Sparrows come to the feeders year round. They like the black sunflower seeds, the thistle seed, and even an occasional peck of suet.

Donna asked . . .
Kinsey Millhone is soo good isn't she?
Yes. I'm about a third of the way into U is for Undertoe and I think it's the best yet.

For readers who haven't read the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton, it's best to start at the beginning, A is for Alibi, and work through the alphabet. They just keep getting better.

Sue Grafton turns 70 years old this year. I'm hoping she stays healthy and ambitious enough to make it through the entire alphabet.