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)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Where Am I?

My laptop is in the repair shop having an operation to remove two memory resident viruses.

First I tried to ignore it. It got worse. Then I tried to fix it myself. I spent hours and hours for naught and got very frustrated.

Now it's in the competent hands of "Yes, I can fix that!" Richard waiting its turn to be attended to in his one man repair shop.

Meanwhile, I'm using a ten year old laptop from the closet. Some of the keys don't work unless they're pounded on. It only has one USB port, no functional battery so I have to set the date and time everytime I turn it on, and it's slow, slow, slow.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Thinking ahead, I've been scouting out yarn for Metro by Connie Chang Chinchio from the Fall 2010 Twist Collective. It calls for a heavy worsted to knit up at 18 stitches/4 inches.

Included in my last Knitpicks order was a skein of City Tweed to swatch.

First impression is WOW. It's soft, it's easy to knit, stitch and row gauge are right on perfect, and I love the tweed look.

Disclaimer: I reserve the right to change my mind after I wash the swatch. I need to do that soon before I have a keyboard spasm and order enough yarn for the sweater. Last time I swatched with a single skein Knitpicks broke my heart by discontinuing the yarn before I could order enough for the intended sweater.

I love my coral and aqua stitch marker pins. They slide in and out of stitches with ease and every project I knit is full of them. I hook them in stitches to keep track of the row count, to mark increases and decreases, to mark the first row of a stitch pattern, and to slide on the needles and mark divisions in a row.

To get my last Knitpicks order into the free shipping dollar range, I happily ordered TWO packs of their (assumed) identical marker pins.

They're so awful they're unusable. The points are not sharp and not smooth. They snag my stitches. For fingering weight socks, I can't even slide these pins into a stitch because of the excess plastic that didn't get trimmed off the tips.

Don't buy these things! They're worthless.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Chat Back for April 23

Responding to comments left since the last time I did Chat Back.

Kathy B. asked . . .
What was your main tip to me about losing weight??? Do you have one?
Losing weight is all about the calories. I write down what I eat and add up the calories as I go along making sure I leave enough for a 300 to 400 calorie dinner and a 100 calorie bedtime minibagel so I don’t have to go to bed hungry.

My magic number is 1200 calories a day. I lose about a little less than a pound a week at 1200 calories and I can still eat enough so I don’t feel like I’m starving, although I do have moments when I get hungry.

After eating my calorie limit at a meal I rarely feel full and am always ready to eat more, so instead I fiddle around making and drinking a cup of tea. By the time that’s all done, I’m over the urge to keep eating.

Think I’ll go fix some tea right now. Do I especially like tea? No. But it’s the fiddling around with it that works for distraction.

NMjewel asked . . .
I'm betting you could get another 'matching' pair from that yarn. Will there be enough?
Even with Mom's short, five inch cuffs, there was not enough yarn left from the Zauberball Socks for a second pair.

There were two very long sections of black that I cut out and didn't use.

MomSue84 asked . . .
Just wondering how you like knitting with KP Stroll as opposed to Slackford Studio sock yarn?
I've enjoyed knitting with Stroll, but enough time hasn't passed yet for a wash and wear verdict.

Stroll seems to be a good workhorse sock yarn, but for beautiful soft socks with no fuzz after many washings, good wear, and super excellent stitch definition there is no comparison to my favorite sock yarn, Stalwart from Slackford Studio.

Your question prompted me to search the stash, and I found some Stalwart in a bluish gray color to use for Heather's birthday socks instead of the untested Stroll.

Yes, I'm knitting another pair of BFF socks. The pattern is so perfect for gift socks that I couldn't resist. Makes for uninteresting blogging, though.

The color is Steelyard Blues.

Laurie asked . . .
I enjoy your blog very much, and I wanted to let you know that you inspired me to knit my very first pair that I just finished. I was not really sure what was the best brand of yarn to use, so I used Happy Feet by Plymouth. I haven’t washed them or worn them and the socks seem very fuzzy to me. Do you think that this is because of the yarn (should I have spent more money) or is that just the way all sock yarn is? I loved making the socks, and only like to knit with wool, but don’t like the fuzzy look that I got.

Any advise that you could give me would be much appreciated.
I had trouble with this question because wool does have a natural tendency to be fuzzy. Still, some sock yarns are fuzzier than others.

Opal, Regia, and Stalwart (from Slackford Studio) are tightly spun and three of the less fuzzy yarns. They are a bit expensive, but my socks from these yarns last for many years. Some of my old Opal socks are over ten years old now and still going strong without being fuzzy.

The worst yarn I ever bought and used was Austermann Step with Aloe Vera and Jojoba. Over several washings (I do machine, not gentle by hand) it fuzzed and pilled to the point I couldn't see the stitch pattern. Just yesterday I asked myself why I was saving those socks and pitched them in the wastebasket.

Congratulations on your first pair of socks! I've found sock knitting to be an addictive hobby and there are so many patterns it never has to get boring.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Wednesday Wings - Yellow-shafted Flicker, Male

Last week I spotted this Flicker in the grass celebrating spring by eating ants, his favorite food.

His head is a little blurry because he was bobbing it up and down so fast.

The female Flicker has been coming to the suet feeder since March, but this is the first time I've spotted the male. (See the female eating suet here.)

The male looks exactly like the female except for the black mustache extending out from his beak.

The pictures were taken between two bars of the porch railing which are showing on the picture edges.

Needless to say, I'm very excited to have a pair. Maybe they'll bring their young to the suet feeder. There's no season as optimistic as the beginning of spring.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Brandywine Back

I debated. Knit it in one piece and have easy finishing? Or, knit it in pieces and have easy knitting? I felt like knitting the pieces one by one, so that's the way I'm doing it. Since I'm never happy with the look of sewn in sleeves, I may sew the fronts and back together and knit the sleeves top down in the round.

The back is unblocked, but I have a blocked swatch to give me confidence the sweater is going to look nice when it's done. And, hopefully fit.

Pattern: Brandywine

Yarn: Knitpicks Gloss DK, 70% Merino wool 30% silk.

Color: Woodland Sage.

Needles: Options #5.

Gauge: 22 stitches and 31 rows = 4 inches in Stockinette.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Colorful Socks, Staid Socks, and Future Socks

These socks are gorgeous, for sure.

The Zauberball yarn is single ply unevenly spun - like a fingering weight Lopi. The feel of it is like a rough fuzzy wool, not the smooth, soft sock yarn I love to knit.

Because the yarn has no twist, I predict a short life for these socks but they will be bright and cheerful while they last. I had fun knitting them.

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

Yarn: Zauberball.

Color: 1155.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Once a year I knit Vegan acceptable socks for sister Carrie's birthday.

This year she got a a black pair of Panda Soy and this pair of dark blue Panda Cotton.

Both of the Panda yarns are nubbly and neither has decent enough stitch definition to support a stitch pattern. I find the Panda Cotton a little more pleasant to knit then the Panda Soy. Both are splitty. Panda Cotton splits easier than Panda Soy.

Pattern: Basic cuff down sock pattern on 56 stitches. k3p1 ribbing on cuff and instep.

Yarn: Panda Cotton. 55% bamboo + 24% Cotton + 21% elastic nylon.

Color: Delft blue.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Today, just in time to start the next set of birthday socks, there was a box from Knitpicks in the mailbox.

Daughter Heather, May birthday, asked for gray and/or black socks. Mom, June birthday, asked for green.

From left to right: Ash Stroll, Peapod Stroll, Black Stroll. The skein in front is Springtime Tonal Stroll. Much brighter than the picture.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Well Dang

A root canal and a nasty computer virus, all in the same week. Feeling frustrated.

Writing this on an old laptop that hasn't been booted up in two years and is missing all the links, files, and programs I need to act functional.

I'll probably be out of commission a few days at least. Sigh.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What's Wrong With Your Head, Girl?

I've been feeling totally blah for the past three weeks, so last week I decided to rest and see if I could heal myself. Instead of feeling better, I got splitting headaches every afternoon.

I kept thinking I would feel better soon, but it didn't happen. Yesterday morning the headache didn't wait until afternoon, and the only decision I needed to make was whether to call the doctor or the dentist.

Knowing I had an appointment in two weeks to have a crown replaced because of underlying decay, I decided to try the dentist. Good choice. To make a long story short, I ended up having a root canal yesterday. Even though my jaw is still a little sore, I feel much better.

While suffering and recovering, I started a pair of Zauberball socks for Mom.

The long color blocks gradually merge one to the next. I knew I could never get the socks to match exactly, especially not while my head was throbbing, so I just split the skein in half and started knitting.

This is the wildest pair of mismatched socks I've ever knit. Looking at the balls you can see that the cuff colors of one sock match what's going to be the foot colors of the the other sock.

Mom asked for socks out of this yarn, but I'm not sure she expected this. If she never wears them out of her apartment, I'll understand.

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

Yarn: Zauberball.

Color: 1155.

Needles: Options #1, 2.5mm

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch, 10 rows/inch

Friday, April 08, 2011

Early Spring, First Week in April

The Goldfinches are making excellent progress in their molting back to yellow.

Another sign of spring in the above picture - the window needs washing.

The grass is turning green and threatening to need mowing even though the daytime temperatures are still around 40F and the extended forecast is for rain, rain, and more rain.

For wildlife interest in this picture, I chose a mole hill.

AccuWeather has promised us a warmup, going as high as 80F on Sunday. With rain and possibly violent thunderstorms. In April in SW Michigan, violent thunderstorms translates as tornado weather. Our houses have basements for just that reason.

I love the look of the sedum buds in the spring.

Each year I've been increasing the garden areas devoted to sedum because the deer don't eat them.

This is a wobbly picture of a muskrat in the creek taken by someone with two pulling, leashed dogs who dream they can catch a muskrat without getting wet.

Sometimes a muskrat comes up on the land.

For this picture I only had one leashed dog pulling on me, so it's a bit less blurry.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Simple Woman's Daybook for April 5

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

FOR TODAY April 5, 2011...

Outside my window...

The sun is shining, the sky is blue. From inside the house it looks like a beautiful spring day. When I go outside it's 40F degrees with a cold brisk wind. Wool hat and mitten weather.

I am thinking...
That income tax preparation must be big business in the US. I looked over our forms today and all the numbers and calculations made me dizzy. Normally I'm a detail person and not afraid of math, but those forms aren't math, they're insanity. I live in fear of our CPA retiring.

I am thankful for...
The CPA who does our taxes. It's one of the bills I pay with gratitude.

From the kitchen...
I need someone to come in and do the dishes because I don't want to.

I am wearing...
It's a very casual day here. Gray sweat pants and a pink sweatshirt.

I am creating...

A second pair of Vegan acceptable socks for Sister Carrie. These are Panda Cotton.

I am going...
To get up and fix a cup of tea.

I am reading...
Bible Study Fellowship commentary. We're approaching the end of a school year study of Isaiah. Not an easy book to understand but very rich and beautiful. I'm adding it to my list of favorite books of the Bible.

I am hoping...
That when I go to have a crown replaced in a few weeks it won't require a root canal.

I am hearing...

The Phoebe. They're nesting under the balcony floor. Same place for twenty years now.

Around the house...
Dogs are napping, Bob is laughing at something online.

One of my favorite things...
Dannon Greek Yogurt in vanilla. It's rich and creamy and only 110 calories.

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

Monday, April 04, 2011

Silver Lace Vest Finished

This was a fun, quick knit. Plenty of variety in the stitch patterns, and no sleeves.

Caution on the pattern though. There is errata, but even the errata didn't cover the most confusing error I found - right leaning decreases in the lace patterns were labeled ssk in the stitch key and left learning decreases in the stitch key were labeled k2tog. Also, there is no help in planning how to make the lace look decent when the neck decreases start. A beginning knitter might have a very challenging time of it.

I washed and blocked it late last week, and wore it to church on Sunday over darker gray slacks and turtleneck.

The ribbings have a slightly ruffled look from a yarnover, k2tog row just before the bind off.

It fits, but I wish it was a little smaller. I've lost fourteen pounds since late December, and my knitting mind hasn't wrapped around the fact that I don't need garments with a 40 inch bust anymore.

Pattern: Oversize Lace Top by Deborah Newton, published in Spring/Summer 2007 Vogue Knitting.

Yarn: Knitpicks Gloss. 70% Merino wool, 30% silk. DK weight.

Color: Robot. (Silver gray)

Needles: Options #5.

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

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Chat Back for April 2

Responding to comments left since the last time I did Chat Back.

Laura asked . . .
Can't we get spring to come to West Michigan?? Seriously, I am OVER this cold!

Yes! We are all ready for a beautiful, sunny 70 degree day. Including this Robin who would like the ground to unthaw enough so he can get breakfast out of it.

Linda Jo aka Beadknitter asked . . .
Came back to ask where you found that x stitch pattern? I've thought of a good use for it already. ;-)

The Red X Stitch Pattern is Number 6 in Knitting Patterns Book 300. It's one of the simpler stitch patterns in this gorgeous collection which can be purchased at Needles Arts Book Shop.

Needles Arts Book Shop has many Japanese knitting publications. It's a dangerous site to visit if you don't want to spend money.

They also have a free PDF on interpreting the Japanese knitting patterns.

Kathy in Iowa wrote . . .
Hopefully the deer do not like daffodils.
Nothing likes to eat the daffodils. They are rodent free, deer free, and insect free. Mother Nature's spring gift to us after a long, colorless winter. And, they always bloom the week the income tax is due.

Shirley asked . . .
I am trying to picture how you used the flashlight and knit at the same time. Maybe the flashlight was a stand alone model?
It was a combination of propping the flashlight in place with my sweatshirt and holding it in place with my chin. Not an elegant solution, but it worked long enough to get the gusset stitches started.

Linda Jo asked . . .
A knitters gotta do what a knitters gotta do. The flashlight was a good idea, and the socks look great. I applaud you for knitting with black. ;-)
If you could have seen me, you would have laughed instead of clapping.

Sanity has returned. I'm knitting stitches I can see this weekend.