31 August 2016

Olympic Efforts

I'm finally getting around to sharing two of my four (!?!) Olympic projects with you.  Our Internet connection at home has been wonky, so I uploaded photos before I left for work this morning, and am writing the post during my lunch hour at work.  So much for technology, huh?

Anyway, as I mentioned before, the Olympics really helped me get going on some knitting.  Between having a couple of hours on some days to sit and watch the events on TV, and sometimes more time on the weekends, and signing up for Kathy's dishcloth swap, I was knitting up a storm!

The funny thing is that I am 100% certain if I'd signed myself up for the Ravellenic Games, I wouldn't have finished anything.  As much as I love the idea of KAL, and have signed up for some in the past, it seems that the minute I do that, I no longer feel like knitting, or I suddenly have other commitments.  So though I was tempted this year, I didn't - and it really worked out.

I'll post about the dishcloths once I know my swap partner has opened the package (which was finally mailed yesterday).

Here are the more "major" projects I finished during the Olympics.  Something that still shocks the heck out of me, to be honest ...

First up: Four of my nieces really appreciate handknit items.  I decided to knit each of them and their husbands Christmas gifts (the same patterns, different colors).

Here is the first one.



Item:  Annie's Gold Medal Portfolio Scarf
Pattern:  Portfolio Scarf, by Erika Flory
Yarn:  Loop Studio, colorway Easel (most of a single skein)
Needles:  Size 7US
Modifications:  None
Notes:  I made this pattern for myself in a different colorway a little more than a year ago, and not only received lots of compliments on it, but found it to be a great pattern.  There's enough going on to keep it interesting, but once you get the hang of it and the rhythm, it goes really really quickly.  I would usually knit a section at a time while watching the Olympics.  The yarn is lovely in color, feel, and drape.  This is a pattern that I think would be good for a beginning knitter who wanted to learn some new techniques (increase, decrease, basic lace pattern).

One down, three to go (I've already started the next one)!

Next up, for the nieces' husbands, who are all getting a Turn a Square Hat.  (I have just realized that I never blogged the first one I finished a bit ago - so I'll have to get going on that.)  This is the second one, for my niece Elizabeth's husband, Greg.  One of the best things about this is that it was made using stash yarn.  Since the pattern doesn't use large amounts of either color, you can get more than one hat out of a skein.



From the top

Item:  Greg's Turn a Square Hat
Pattern:  Turn a Square Hat, by Jared Flood (a freebie)
Yarns:  Berocco Vintage, Sour Cherry colorway; madelinetosh Tosh DK, colorway Ink
Needles:  Size 6US, Size 7US
Modifications:  None
Notes:  I really enjoy this pattern, and have knit many of these hats over the years.  They are always well-received and worn by the recipients.  This is a pretty quick knit, and another pattern that would be a good confidence-builder for a new knitter.

I do have to say that my photos make the colors much brighter than they are in real life.  The blue is more of a medium navy, and the red is closer to burgundy.

I have one more of these to knit, so I'm well on my way with the guys' gifts.  :-)

I'm so glad that my knitting mojo returned.  I really do love to knit, and if I end up with nice gifts to boot, it's win-win!

28 August 2016

Post Office Fail and Giveaway Winner!

Hello there - here's hoping your weekend was enjoyable.  Ours was fine, if unexciting.  Since the weather decided that once again, hot and humid was the way to go, I stayed put most of the time.

Yesterday, I grabbed my swap partner's package and another one I'm sending to one of my nieces, and walked up nice and early to the Post Office to mail things.  I figured if I got there early, there wouldn't be a long line.  Guess what?  There was NO line at all ... not so fast - it was closed, because apparently they had no electricity!  Grrrrrrr.  So I may not get the package in the mail until Tuesday, the very last day and what seems to me to be the very  last-minute.  The P.O. I pass on my way to and from work isn't open when I leave in the morning, and I won't have a chance to stop on the way home  tomorrow because I need to get home quickly, change, and head to Stitch 'n Pitch tomorrow night.  Perhaps The Tim will think to mail both things for me tomorrow, but there's no guarantee.  Sigh.  I can think of one other time I know the P.O. was closed unexpectedly when I needed it.  Maybe they are just messing with me, I don't know ...

I did open my package from my swap partner, Araignee, and it is AH-MAZ-ING.  She really spoiled me.  Once I get the pictures I took out of my camera, I'll show off here.  :-)  (If you follow me on Instagram, I posted some quick shots there already today.)

Anyhoo, it's Giveaway Winner Time!   It was so nice to hear from so many of you, thanks for your congratulations and for entering the giveaway.  Originally, I was going to use a random number generator, but instead decided that I would have The Tim choose the winner.  So, he swished all of the names around in a little bowl for way longer that was necessary, and chose:


Congratulations, Lynn!  I don't have your mailing info, so please send it to me, either via e-mail at baclancyATverizonDOTnet, or via a Ravelry message (my Rav name is thekittyknitter).  I'll let you know when your package is sent out, so you can be watching for it.

Thanks to everyone for playing along - on the one hand it's so much fun for me to read everyone's comments and see whose name will get picked; but then of course, I wish I had more things to send to every single person ... so I promise if I ever win the lottery, I'll send something to all of you.  In the meantime, I hope you stick around, because you never know when there might be another "event" or what it might be ... :-)

I'll be back soon with swap stuff, a Stitch 'n Pitch report, and my Olympics knitting.  In the meantime, I hope a good week is in store for all of us, whether or not the weather forecast feels like cooperating.

26 August 2016

Five Favorites for This Friday

I don't know about you, but I need a Friday faves post.  This week has nearly done me in, and I need to think of five good things.  So here you go.

1. Weather nice enough to open all of the windows, and nice enough that I wanted to take nice long walks in the evenings.  (Though nice long walks are not as much fun on my own, but such is life.)  We will not discuss today's or this upcoming weekend's weather.

2.  Lunch with a good friend.  A week ago today, I had lunch with my friend Carol of Black Bunny Fibers.  She works in an office less than two blocks from where I am, but negotiating a time when we could both meet and go to lunch was ridiculously complicated.  But it finally happened, and it was so much fun to see her and catch up.  This weekend, her oldest kid goes away to college - how did that happen??

3.  Continued return of my knitting mojo.  For a while it was pretty quiet, even non-existent at times.  But the Olympics got me going again, and thankfully I'm still knitting away now that they are over!  Good thing, too, since I had planned on knitting some Christmas gifts ...

4.  Receiving my package for Kathy B's dishcloth swap in yesterday's mail!  First of all, I love getting stuff in the mail, and second of all, I can't wait to open it.  But I am not opening it until I return from the P.O. tomorrow after getting my package to my partner in the mail.  It's stupid that it's not on its way yet, the knitting part has been done for two weeks.  I just have not gotten myself together to organize the rest and send it. Tomorrow is the day!

5.  Friday.  It's been a rough week, and I am seriously exhausted.  So all I have to do is make it through today (which looks to be a challenge in itself), and then I can enjoy the weekend.  The Tim is on vacation, so he will actually be around both days, which is pretty unusual.  We don't have any specific plans, but that's part of the beauty of it.  A weekend to do what does or does not inspire us.

So there you go.  What about you?  Are there any good things that you have for this week?  Feel free to share in the comments.

Also, if you haven't entered my blogiversary giveaway yet, you can leave a comment here through midnight on Saturday for a chance to win some goodies.  :-)

Have a good weekend!  

(By the way, I think I may actually be close to having the photo editing problems I mentioned earlier in the week resolved, and I can share some finished projects with you ... so stay tuned!)

22 August 2016

Open Windows, Frustration, and Anniversary Giveaway

Well, I don't know how long it will last, but FINALLY the extreme heat and humidity have broken - so much so that *all* of the windows are open, and it's glorious!  Breathing is possible, you can walk around and not be soaked in sweat, and being outside is actually enjoyable.  I'm guessing it won't last too long, so I'm trying to soak in every second and really enjoy it.

I had a comp day that had to be taken before the 25th, so I took today as that day so I would have a long weekend.  One of the things I wanted to do was download and edit photos from my camera of the projects I finished during the Olympics (yes, that is plural - projects - it's like I don't even know who I am anymore!).  Downloading was no big deal, but editing got to be so frustrating, I just gave up for now.  My new laptop does not have Photoshop on it, and the program it has is beyond annoying.  I tried to download Photoshop a couple of weeks ago, but it didn't work.  I may ask The Tim to give it a shop, as he is much more tech-worthy than I am.  It shouldn't take more than 10 tries just to crop a photo.  Grr ...

So instead, I'm going to write this post.

Saturday, August 20 was the ten-year anniversary of this blog - 10 YEARS!  I was surprised, because though I knew I'd been doing it for a while, ten years seems like a loooonnnng time. :-)  I would have written this part of the post on Saturday, but I decided to wait until after I wrote about Sunday being the date of my father's 100th birthday - I wanted him to have a weekend post all his own. 

BUT - here we are today, and it's time to celebrate not just blogging here for 10 years, but having wonderful blog friends who actually read and comment.  It makes me so happy, and is often what makes me feel like I'm not all by myself all the time.  Granted, I would probably keep going even if no one bothered, because I enjoy writing and I enjoy being here.  But having all of you here with me, and getting to visit your blogs, is just something I enjoy more than I can say.  Thank you!

To celebrate, I've decided to do a giveaway.  The giveaway package will contain the following:

1. A knitting-related item.
2. A reading-related item.
3. A food-related item.
4. A Philadelphia-related item (please note: not a cheesesteak!)
5. A surprise.
and, if you have pets, please let me know how many and of what ilk, because if you do, there will also be:
 #6. A pet-related item(s).

Everyone has a chance to win here.  Any comment left on this post ONLY, between now and midnight EST this coming Saturday, August 27, 2016, will give the commenter an entry.   I'll choose a name at random, and announce the winner next Sunday, August 28, 2016.

Good luck, and thanks for sticking around - whether for all ten years, or just today!

21 August 2016

Harry's Hundredth

It occurred to me the other day that I forgot to do an update for July for Harry's Hundred.  So I figured since we were already into August, I'd just wait and do a two-month update.  So that's not what this post is about.

Nope, this is a post for Harry's Hundredth - 100 years ago today, my dad was born in Wheeling, West Virginia.  He was the oldest of four children - two boys, two girls.  At the age of thirteen, when his father was killed by a train on the way home from work, the kids would be split up, and the two oldest (Harry and Mary Agnes) would live with one set of relatives, and the two youngest (Helen and John) with another.  Though of course he saw his younger siblings often, he was never as close to them as he might have been had the family been able to stay together.

Here he is at four months old.  This is one of my very favorite pictures, and is in a frame on display in our house.

(Oh how this amused me as a child - a boy in a dress!)

The funny thing is, he looks pretty much the same as a baby as I remember him as an adult!  I know that most people retain some of the look of their baby pictures, but this one is really uncanny.

He used to tell stories of playing football in high school, where he said it was not uncommon when one guy came off the field, he would take off his jersey, so that someone else going onto the field to play would have a jersey to wear - try to imagine that happening today in most places!

Just like many of his generation, the defining event of his young adulthood was World War II.  He joined the Army, and his main claim to fame was as the singer in the base's band.  He used to claim that women would swoon when he sang.  (My mother claimed otherwise.)

He and my mother were quite a couple.

With a flair for the ridiculous, which was passed on to their children.

He was a real ham - loved to sing, dance (well ... ), perform, anything like that.  What would start as a card game at our house could easily turn into a sing-along.

In this epic drama, he's on the far right.  I don't know what/when this is.  (Probably for the best.)

We were a fun family, who moved a lot, and as a result were very close.  I've posted this picture before, but this is the only family picture that exists, and it was taken long before I was born.  But it's one of my favorite pictures, because everyone is clearly so happy and healthy.

My dad died when I was 13 years old, from liver cancer, at a time when the treatment was nearly as deadly as the disease.  And yes, I remember that, and I remember seeing him then and not really recognizing him looking like my dad.  But 99.99999999% [repeating] of my memories are the fun ones and the good ones.

When I was little, he would end up babysitting me a lot while my mom and sisters went shopping or who knows what.  It was not uncommon for us to end up at his favorite bar if it was during the evening, so he could watch 'the fights' with his friends.  On weekend afternoons, we'd park ourselves in front of the TV and watch baseball games or football games, and share sandwiches and a beer (OK, I'd get a sip and have something else for my primary drink, but *I* still consider it having a beer!).  He loved to cook (and would use every single available pot or dish), and I was always "helping" him.  (I realize now that I probably spent the bulk of the time talking to him non-stop and God bless him for never telling me to shut the h*ll up!)  But I actually learned a lot about food and cooking from him.  He and my mother loved playing cards, going to the horse races (the whole family went along), and laughing.  He was a crazy goofy animal lover (sound like anyone you know?), and a real softie when it came to helping someone, human, furry, feathered, etc.

He took me to the circus every summer (this was when it was still OK to go to the circus).  It would be just the two of us, and it was the highlight for me of the summer - right before school started again.  A lot of our family vacations were trips to the Jersey Shore (northern end of things), and they were always an adventure, as he didn't think it was necessary to make reservations for a place to stay.  He was an early riser, even on vacation, and would get up around 6 a.m. and say, "Rise and shine girls, time to walk on the beach!"  (He knew better than to try and include my mother.)

He was a good guy.  He had plenty of faults, which I realized even as a kid, but he wanted all of us to do better and be better than he was.  He worked hard for his entire life, and I think - or would at least like to hope - that he got to do a lot of the things he enjoyed.

This is the last picture I have of him, taken from a program for a work-related organization event where he was the outgoing president.  I don't know specifically when this was taken, other than it was sometime in 1969.  He died in November of that year, and I'm guessing this was probably in the springtime.  But this is the Dad I remember.  And love. And think of and miss every single day.  

So if you are inclined, please give your dad a kiss, a hug, or a phone call today, if you are lucky enough to still have him with you. And tonight if you have a drink, please raise a toast to my dad - he would approve!

Happy 100th Birthday, Dad - I wish you a day of sing-alongs, card games, and cocktails!  Give our love to everyone.

17 August 2016

It's Wednesday and I Meant To Do This Yesterday

But our modem died, so we had no Internet at home.  I was home all day due to a medical appt smack-dab in the middle, that made going to work not worth the effort.  Anyway, I'm on a break here at work, doing my best on my tablet to post this, so if it is wonky, you'll know why ...

Onward to Kathy's weekly questions.

1. When was the last time you saw a butterfly?

About ten minutes ago, when I actually saw about 20.  We have a butterfly exhibit at work, and I had to deliver something to someone who works there.

But, as far as outside in the wild, I saw one a week or so ago on my walk home from work.

2. Why on earth is this shoe on top of the station wagon? It appears to be tied there.

Maybe it belongs to an amputee who just washed it and doesn't have a clothes dryer?

3. Do you prefer a cardigan with buttons or a zipper? (Assuming you don't have to put the buttons or zipper in ...)

Buttons.  If you wear a sweater unbuttoned, I think it looks better than one that is unzipped.  And I usually don't button my cardigan sweaters, since most of the time I wear them over another layer.

4. When was the last time you wished you didn't have so many ends to weave in?

A few years back, I made a fairisle vest for The Tim, and though it turned out really well, weaving in those ends took nearly as long as knitting it (or at least it felt that way).

5. When was the last time someone asked you "Did you knit that" (this includes relatives who have seen you don articles of clothing that perhaps begged the question)?

Probably last winter.  I haven't worn many knitted things this summer (handknit or otherwise).

6. When was the last time you spilled a drink?

Sunday morning I spilled the last of my cup of tea on myself when I picked it up carelessly thinking it was already empty.  It wasn't.

7. Are you a fan of Dot&Bo house decor (they are the new Pottery Barn in my book)?

Never heard of them.  Probably a good thing, since at the moment funds are extremely low.

8. When was the last time you floated in a tube on a river or a lake, jet skied or water skied?

Never.  I love to be near water, and will go in if it's not deep.  But I don't know how to swim, so I'm not very adventurous.

9. If you could knit with anyone today, who would it be? (not fair to say me, that's a given ... lol)

Dug the Doodle Dog.  He used to always keep me company when I knitted.

If you mean a person who knits, I'd have to say my friend Andrea who I worked with at Rosie's - we knitted together there when we had a chance, and would always have a hilarious time.  I still see her from time to time, but never for a very long time.


OK, back to work.  We are supposed to have our new modem today, so hopefully I will be back sooner rather than later.  Keep cool everyone!

12 August 2016

Good Thing It's Friday ...

because frankly, if it was not Friday, I think I would seriously have to consider a life of crime.  People at work have been ridiculous this week, which is bad enough.  But then today, we have a temperature of 98 degrees, but a "feels like" temperature of 110 degrees.

I don't want to tell you what this makes me "feel like" because I don't want this blog post to be used against me in a court of law ...

Now I'm home, and the kitties have been fed (because of course they were - as usual - near death from starvation), and my evening and weekend have begun. The Tim is working tonight, so I am on my own, which is probably a good thing for everyone involved!  

Here is my plan for the evening:

1. Enjoy a glass of wine.
2. Eat the healthy salad I bought on my way home from work, because I could not bear the thought of fixing anything at all for myself.  The salad has artichoke hearts, which is extra pleasing.
3. Clean up any dishes I dirty.
4. Take a bubble bath.
5. Watch the Olympics and knit, and cuddle kitties.
6. Have a drink with The Tim when he gets home.
7. Go to bed.

These are all good things, that will let me go into the weekend in a happier frame of mind.  


09 August 2016

Put It All Together, It Does Not Spell Mother ...

Remember the song where each letter of the word "Mother" is sung and is meaningful?  "M is for the many things she gave me ..." I hated that song.  Until I heard a version on "Saturday Night Live," that went "M is for the many things she gave me ... O is for the other things she gave me ... " and so on - hilarious!

But I digress.  This week, Carole is challenging us for Ten on Tuesday to do the following:

10 Words That Describe You ... but they must begin with the first letter of your first name!

This was a hard one!  But it reminded me to be glad my name was not Xaviera ...

1. Blonde (well, I used to be before the gray).

2. Blue-eyed.

3. Brainy (I used to get this in school a lot.  I was not overly smart, I just paid attention most of the time).

4. Bereaved.

5. Bemused (a lot of the time, usually by other people!).

6. Bookish (this should actually be #1-10).

7. Bruised (99% of the time; as a matter of fact, just thinking this word, I bet I have a new one).

8. Blusher (I blush so easily, it's not even funny).

9. Baptized.

10. Brave (hey, I get up every single day ...)

Well that was fun ... and if I do say so, a Brilliant idea for a topic. ;-)

07 August 2016

Olympic Weekend

Well, I've been sucked in, as usual.  I always think that I probably won't watch much of the Olympics coverage, and then I think, "Well, let me see some of the Opening Ceremonies," then I'm in for the long haul. Sports I often either know nothing about or usually care about suddenly become very important to me.  

There are worse things I could do.  And I have to say that the Olympics are very beneficial to my knitting.  I haven't done much this summer at all, but last week I got back into some projects, and yesterday I pulled out a pattern and yarn I wanted to start for a Christmas gift.  Once I remembered how it worked (you really need to pay attention at the beginning, then you can pretty much do the rest with muscle memory), and tore out the first beginning version when it looked wonky, I was on my way.  As long as I don't need to pay close attention, Olympics and knitting make an excellent combo for me.

Of course, The Tim pays a bit of attention, but he's able to continue with his life better than I can.  He gets somewhat sucked in, as opposed to the vacuum whoosh that takes me.  He'll sit with me and listen to an audiobook while watching, and then pay more attention when something major is happening.  And the poor cats just avoid us altogether, due to increased animation and sometimes yelling on our (OK, mostly my) parts.  

Anyway, it's also been a good distraction for both of us, which is helpful.  And we actually have brief conversations beyond our usual summertime conversations, which generally consist of "Do you want something to drink" or "I'm going to bed now."  (Neither of us enjoys the heat and especially not the humidity, so we have little to say since it makes both of us crabby.)  

But I digress.  As I said, I started a project yesterday, and made a lot of progress between then and today.  Given that I am not the fastest knitter, this is major for me.

This is approximately 50% complete.  It's for my niece Annie for Christmas, and the pattern is the Portfolio Scarf by Erika Flory.  I made one for myself and I wear it a lot.  It's a pattern that, as I said above, is not difficult once you "get" it, but has enough interest, and is small enough that you don't get bored.

What about you?  Are you doing any Olympic knitting, or participating in the Ravellenic Games on Ravelry?  (Surely I'm not the only one ...)

03 August 2016

Garden Report

You may recall that a bit ago, I was busy reclaiming our garden space.

It worked out a whole lot better than it had in previous summers.  I actually got it cleaned up enough to be out there and not surrounded by weeds, branches, thistles, and the like that had taken over.  And I was in a groove, where each weekend I would go out early on one of the mornings and pull any weeds that were still trying, and sweep up whatever was there from the previous week.  I bought a few plants and put them in pots, found some bird feeders we'd had and put them out, and also found some of the wind chimes we had (I love wind chimes).

The good news?  It's still in pretty decent shape.  We even found a couple of chairs and a table on sale to put out there.  And the birds, squirrels, and plants seem to be pretty happy.

The bad news?  Well, of course I hurt my knee pretty badly - well, OK, both knees within weeks of each other, so I haven't been able to bend down to pick anything up, and therefore haven't been out to pull weeds and sweep.  Also, there were quite a few weekends when it poured rain the entire time, so that took care of any time planned out there.

But mostly?  It has been way too hot and way too humid to be able to stand to be out there at all, even long enough to fill the bird feeders and/or water the plants!  That takes less then 10 minutes, and still by the time you come back inside, you are completely soaked in sweat.  (Not perspiration.  Not a glow.  Sweat.  Period.)

I am looking forward to a change in the weather that will come if not sooner, at least in the fall.  Then we can enjoy being out there, and working out there will be pleasant.  So there's that.  But the fact that I was able to make any progress, and that it's at least under control on a basic level, means that things can only improve if I can stay with it.

All is not lost, though.  We are still able to look out the window and see our plants and bird feeders, and hear our wind chimes.  And the couple of plants outside the doorway to our street are happy too.

Geraniums and impatiens, blooming away!

The Gerbera daisy is blooming again, and the sweet potato vine is really happy.

These are the two newbies in the garden.  I had two avocado pits that I rooted.  I hope at least one of them takes hold and I can have an avocado plant at least for a little bit.

The garden impatiens and the sweet potato vine are getting along quite well, and the impatiens has hardly stopped blooming so far.

This photo looks weird, because I took it from above.  The mandevilla has not bloomed, but it's very busy filling out and climbing.  And the little purple flower plant (whose actual name I forget) has bloomed for the third time!  (The flowers are actually a light purple, not whitish like they appear here.)

So the garden and the plants and the bird feeders are doing quite nicely.  And in a summer that has been awful for so many reasons, it's a nice bright spot that I can see every day.

I know for those of you who are real gardeners, this is nothing.  But we finally have a garden that we can enjoy again, once the weather decides to cooperate.  And after wanting to get it to this point for a few years, and never making much progress at all, it's a sense of accomplishment to feel like it is coming back to being one of the best things about our house.