27 February 2017

That's What I Get For Not Listening to Myself

Why don't I leave well enough alone?  I always plan to, and then I just *have* to give things another try.  And it always comes back to bite me on the butt.

I spent the last week carefully and dutifully taking out, stitch by stitch, the messed up border of my Park Slope Blackbird (aka Multnomah  Shawl).  Finally, on Saturday afternoon, I got it to the point where you finish the main knitting, and the next row will be the beginning of the border.  I was so pleased with myself!  I did manage to accomplish that, and then I put it aside.  Because I knew if I started over again right away, I'd be likely to mess it up again.  

Yesterday afternoon, I thought I'd give a try to starting the border again.  I messed up the beginning of the first row, so I took out those stitches, and read through the directions again.  I'd made a stupid mistake, and even better, realized what it was, so I started over, and by the time 45 minutes or so had passed, I'd managed the first repeat of the border (4 rows).  There were a few more stops and starts, but finally I "got" it.  Hooray!  So I thought to myself, "I'll put this away, and do another group of four rows in another day or so.  I don't want to mess it up now that I finally got it right."

You can probably guess where this is going.  The Tim had to work the closing shift last night, so after I ate some dinner, I thought, "What the heck, I'll do another four rows."  And then I REALLY SCREWED THINGS UP.  I thought I could only rip back the latest four rows, but I kept dropping stitches, and ended up frogging all 8 rows.  

A) Why do I keep doing this to myself???
B) Why is it that anytime even the least amount of lace is involved, I have problems?  Trust me, I never try complicated lace - it's always just some yarnovers in one row at a time, but every time I am unable to figure it out.

Tonight while I was waiting for The Tim to be ready for dinner, I tried again to knit the first four rows of the border.  I got it to work, though I can't swear it's actually correct - that remains to be seen as I continue.  But I am NOT touching it again until TOMORROW at the earliest.  For real.  Honest.

Because I do not wanna have to spend the evening ripping back again!  Instead, I'll work on sock #2 of my Hermione's Socks.  I finished the first one late last week, and cast on the second one Saturday night.  I have the cuff done, and will start on the leg tonight.  

Honest.  That's the truth.


The weekend otherwise was a nice one.  We went out to breakfast at a local diner on Saturday morning.  It's a "real" diner, where the waitresses call you Honey, Sweetheart, Doll Baby, etc.  This amuses me greatly, since I'm sure I get called that more by the waitresses in one visit than I ever did by my own mother during my entire life!  I also went to the eyeglass place near us, where they were having a 50% off sale on all their frames, and picked out new glasses for my new prescription.  

And well, other than messing up a lot of knitting yesterday, I managed to clear out some clutter and get it organized to put out for recycling pickup today.  I also wrote another one of my February letters and got it ready to mail today.  So other than my knitting fiasco, it was a good day.

I had planned to watch at least some of the Oscars (I never make it to the end.  It's too late, and even if I could stay up, I'd have a hard time getting up for work the next day!), but due to actual technical difficulties with our television, I had to miss them.  We haven't seen any of the movies yet, but I enjoy seeing what people are wearing and snarking, so I did miss that.  But it sounds like an awful lot happened, huh?  Oh well I would have already been in bed and missed it anyway.


Here is a picture of some crocuses that started budding/blooming already in the planter in front of our house.   I guess they think it's spring already.  They aren't looking as happy today, since we had a big storm on Saturday evening (I took this photo that morning).  We have lots of other shoots for crocuses and daffodils coming up, and I'm worried they won't survive, as there is still time to have a freeze or long cold snap.  Not that I can do anything about it.  So I decided to enjoy these while I could.  :-)

Here's to a good week for all of us!

22 February 2017

Knitting Indecisions

I didn't mean to be incommunicado for so long.  I thought I'd post over the long weekend, but obviously that never happened.

The weekend was nice, but exhausting, at least for me.  The weather was so nice here on Saturday, we went for walk in the afternoon.  It wasn't that far, but since I haven't really been walking around outside with my crutches and cast, it was more effort than it would have been otherwise.  Sunday, I also decided to take a little walk while The Tim was at work.  Sunday evening, we had tickets for "Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs" and since I was off work the next day, and the evening was lovely, we walked back and forth from the concert.

Which by the way was WONDERFUL!  We are fans of Alan Cumming's and he did not in any way disappoint.  He mostly sang, but it was interspersed with stories and anecdotes and he can be really hilarious when he gets going.  He was on stage for 2 1/2 hours straight with no intermission.  It's also funny when you have seen him on American TV shows (such as "The Good Wife"), and then his normal speaking voice is with a Scottish accent.

Monday, The Tim wasn't on the schedule to work, and he wanted to go over to NJ to an outlet mall there.  One of the stores is a Corning Ware outlet, and he had a coupon, so he wanted to use it for some things he'd been wanting to get.  I went along for the outing.  So even though it wasn't constant coming and going, it was a lot of activity for me, and so my other activity involved sitting.  A LOT!  :-)

I'm knitting away on my Hermione's Socks, and am nearly finished with the first one.  I like it, but it's funny when you have been knitting so much with either variegated yarns or using several colors, how knitting with a single color seems weird.  The yarn I'm using is pretty, but I keep thinking, "Wow it's just blue all the time" - which shouldn't be so surprising!

The other project I had re-started has been frogged and the yarn discarded.  I managed to memorize the stitch pattern, so that problem had been resolved, but the yarn kept breaking every two rows or so.  There was no sign of moths, so I don't know if it had been wound in a center pull ball for too long, or if it was just not that strong to begin with.  It was disappointing, because I really loved the colors in the yarn.  But after I had 10+ ends after 15 rows, I decided it was just not gonna happen.

Which means I have to decide what I want my "other" project besides socks to be.  There are about 5 things I'm really itching to try, but not a single one is crying out to be knit.  If I haven't decided by the weekend, I'm going to put the pattern names in a hat and draw one ...

I'm also busy taking out the messed up border of my Park Slope Blackbird (aka Multnomah Shawl), which is both tedious and time-consuming.  I'm trying to be really careful, so I don't confuse myself even further once I get to the point where I'm good again.  I really really really want to get it right, as I love the way it was looking and the finished one that inspired me a few years back at Maryland Sheep and Wool was stunning.  If once I can finally start the border over again, I can't get it right, I may consider just leaving it off.  It wouldn't look as nice, but I could finish it and enjoy it.  We'll see.

I think part of the problem with making the decisions on what I should/should not knit, or how I should try to knit it, has to do with the fact that I'm knitting for me!  It's much easier for me to decide on things when they are for other people, even when knitting isn't involved.  But let it be about me, and I change my mind a million times, and then fret unnecessarily once I make a decision.  Because my brain enjoys obsessing over every little thing whenever possible ...

At least I have the cats to distract me.

15 February 2017

What's Happening?

As I wrote that blog title, I realized there used to be a show called that, and it's still on what we call one of the "lesser channels" on TV.  I never watched the show, but I do remember it.

Which is of course, apropos to nothing.  Which is of course not a surprise.

Moving on, I hope you had a lovely Valentine's Day.  At our house, Valentine's Day is also the birthday of Jetsam and Pip.

Jetsam turned 11 and Pip turned 5, and they are two of the sweetest creatures ever to live on the earth.  We usually celebrate, but The Tim had to work the closing shift last night, so we have decided to have their treats and presents this weekend, since it's a long weekend, and The Tim will actually be off two of the three days.  

We usually also celebrate Valentine's Day by exchanging cards and small gifts, often just treats we both happen to like.  And I usually bake a cake or brownies to celebrate both Valentine's Day and the kitty birthdays.  This year, I had absolutely no opportunities to get a card, much less anything else.  And I couldn't even dig up any decent materials to make a card.  So I mentioned to The Tim that we might want to skip it this year, and he said, "Don't worry about it."  So of course he gave me a card, and the kitties gave me this bracelet.

I already have one of the original Lokai bracelets (the white one) that I wear all of the time, but The Tim said the kitties gave me this one because it's red (and then also because it supports AIDS research).  So that was a nice surprise.  And I feel kinda bad that I didn't even have a card, but such is life.  

Then, yesterday was a really awful day at work.  When I left work, and took a cab home (because walking is too far with the crutches, and I can't maneuver the bus with the crutches either), there was a huge traffic jam on the way.  I was getting annoyed with the cost of the ride going up while we were just sitting there, so when we got to a reasonable distance from home, I just decided to get out there.  I was really tired by this point, and decided I had no energy to bake brownies or anything.  On the couple of blocks on the way home, I knew I would pass Carlo's Bakery, where we had gotten a cake for our anniversary back in October that was really wonderful.  So I stopped in and got us one of their strawberry shortcakes (image from their website).

I knew it would still be OK for us to have tonight. and I was pleased with myself for thinking to stop there.  And then I got home, and The Tim had made brownies!  Trust me, neither will go to waste ... but one would have been more than enough ...

So though it was not a "usual" Valentine's Day, all's well that ends well, and we'll enjoy it and enjoy our long weekend.

Moving on from that long and rambling story, I read this article the other day, and thought it was worth sharing.   I know that I am doing much better than I had been, once I told myself that I needed to pace things, since it appears life lately is becoming a marathon, not a sprint.  Recently, Kym's post talked about the same thing, and had some good suggestions for all of us.  I mentioned one thing to her that I have found helpful, and she replied she was going to try and do it too.  I have started to disconnect from all social media after 8:00 p.m. in the evening, and it's been really helpful. (OK, I'll admit I still look at Instagram, but I'm mainly talking about Twitter and Facebook.)  The reason behind this is that it keeps me from getting worked up, which was causing me to have problems sleeping.  (And not being a great sleeper to start with, I didn't need any more things contributing to that!)  Just this one thing alone has been really valuable for me.  I spend the evening being calmer/calm-ish, and sleep better.  And sadly, there's plenty to read about and hear about the next day anyway ... In any case, I thought maybe sharing these things might be helpful to others.

On the knitting front, I have two more projects going.  No pictures though, since the days have been so cloudy and I haven't been able to get indoor pictures that are worth posting.  I've started another pair of socks, Hermione's Everyday Socks, a pattern I've been meaning to try, and am enjoying.  I dug into my stash for some yarn and am using some from Black Bunny Fibers - from 2007, when Carol (Ms. Black Bunny Fibers herself) was dying a colorway called "Unity" and was using the profits to support the first Presidential campaign of Barack Obama!  Anyway, the socks are coming along nicely and I'm enjoying working on them.

My other project is a resurrection of sorts - Delaware River Waves, also using Black Bunny Fibers.  (What can I say, I love Carol and I love her yarn!  She is a talented knitter, dyer, wonderful friend, and overall badass.)  I had been going along OK on this project, and then one of the cats attacked it (I seriously don't remember which one), and my attempts at repair made things worse.  So I had to admit that frogging was the answer.  I wasn't sure if I would start over with the same pattern, or try something else, but I recently got it into my brain to try again.  As of this moment, I don't have a lot done, but it's working out OK, so hopefully I will have a nice lacy scarf for my efforts soon.  The pattern is one from Rosie's Yarn Cellar that was never published, but which makes a lovely scarf, called Ocean Waves.  The sample in the shop was always one of my favorites, and even if this version doesn't make it, I'm determined to knit it someday!

And that's what's happening around here.  What's new with you and yours?

14 February 2017

Happy Valentine's Day!

Have a happy day, no matter how you celebrate. :-)

10 February 2017

Cold Weather, Warm Feet, Another FO

Well, after it being 60+ degrees on Wednesday, then an snow/slush storm yesterday, today is just plain cold!  But cold and sunny, and FRIDAY, so I'm not complaining.  I had my return visit to the dr today to get x-rays on my ankle to see how/if it is healing, and got good news!  She said it's healing really well, and that I can use one crutch now instead of two, and that I should start regularly putting more weight on it.  She also said that before I go back to see her in another four weeks, she wants me to take the walking cast off every few days and do some basic range of motion exercises.  HOORAY for good news!

As I was waiting for a taxi to take me to my appt, I did think about how my right foot was extra cold, due to the low temperatures, but also due to the fact that the walking cast is open at the toe. I had on a pair of Smartwool socks that are cozy, but standing still while waiting meant that I really felt the cold. you know?

I hate it when my feet are cold, which is why I  am always wearing slippers and socks around the house.  I think that whenever I get to wear my latest FO, my feet will be nice and cozy!

(with the cuff folded)

Here are the second pair of socks I've finished for by Box o' Socks!   As it turns out, it's a good thing I'm only doing this on my own, and not "officially" because I'd be disappointed that I couldn't count these towards the goal of 12 socks for the year.  I took a look at the Ravelry group, and one of the requirements is that all socks for official KAL be fingering or sock weight.  But since I'm doing my own thing, these definitely count!

Project:  Winter Berry Socks
Pattern:  Wisconsin Winter Socks, by Carol Anderson and Kristi Williams
Yarns:  Lorna's Laces in the Mixed Berries colorway - Shepherd Sock Multi and Shepherd Worsted Multi (one strand of each held together for each sock)
Needles:  US 5 (cuffs) and 8 (rest of the socks)
Modifications:  None
Notes:  The resulting socks are cozy, comfy, and it's great to have a nice pair of warm knee socks included in my box for 2018.  The yarns were both great work with, no knots, uneveness, or other things that can make it annoying.  But as I've mentioned before, I absolutely HATED this pattern!  It was written in a faux folksy, chatty tone that made simple directions seem way more complicated than they were or needed to be.  I know this is a popular pattern, so maybe I'm the only one who thought it was faux folksy, or who is driven nuts by that, but as soon as I finished the second sock, I put the pattern booklet right into the recycling bin, because to use a popular expression, "Ain't nobody got time for that."

It's been a while since I used worsted weight yarn to make a pair of socks, and I forgot how quickly they go, so that was a bonus!

(with the cuffs up)

In the end. I am really happy with these, and they are safely tucked away in Bridget's Box o' Socks.  I am so glad I'm doing this because I know next January when I open a box of new socks waiting for me, it will make me all kinds of happy.

Now it's time to decide what's next.  Definitely another pair of socks, and something else ... specifics to be determined.

Are you up to anything interesting this weekend?  The Tim is working on Sunday, but tomorrow we may venture to a nearby Kohl's since we have a coupon and we need some new towels.  That will be an exciting outing for me, and a chance to get out and do something other than go to and from dr appts and work.  You know you're jealous of my thrilling plans, right???

Have a good one!

07 February 2017

About Podcasts

Hello all, here's hoping your week has started out OK.  It's supposed to be in the 60s today in Philadelphia, and then on Thursday, we are supposed to wake up to freezing temperatures and 3-5 inches of snow.  Sigh.  This wimpy winter weather here is making me think we are doomed for this summer.  Usually when we don't have a regular winter, the summer is deadly hot and humid.  I am truly hoping to be proven wrong ...

Anyhoo, I was just wondering if any of you are podcast listeners/fans.  I used to enjoy audio podcasts, because I could listen while doing any number of other things.  But it seems that most podcasts today are video podcasts, which mean that a) you need to have your computer/tablet/whatever with you, and b) since you are "watching" you need to pay closer attention to see what is being talked about or shown.  Which, at least for me, means that I need to be actually sitting down, planning to watch and pay attention.  At first this really annoyed me, but I've gotten used to it to some degree.  I still miss audio podcasts, but I do enjoy actually seeing what people are talking about.

During evenings or weekends when I sit down to knit, I've started using that time for podcasts.  Also, in the morning when I get to work, I listen to some of them while clearing out e-mails that have accumulated while I was gone.  I get to work anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half before anyone else, and clearing out e-mails usually takes about half an hour, so it's nice to have "company" while I'm doing that.

Here are some I've sampled recently.  All of these are on YouTube, and a few have become favorites while others are still being "tested."

Grocery Girls
Once Upon a Corgi
Tea and Possibilities
Along the Lanes (Dee told me about this one, though she hasn't done a podcast for a while)
By the Lakeside
Sew Sweet Violet
Knitting Envy
Brooklyn Knitfolk
Little Bobbins

The good thing about podcasts are that they make you aware of patterns, yarns, and notions that you may not have heard about otherwise.  The bad thing about podcasts are that they make you aware of patterns, yarns, and notion that you may not have heard about otherwise ... ;-)

Case in point:  The Knitter's Chatelaine.  These were mentioned on one of the above podcasts (Tea and Possibilities, I think), and I looked them up.  And then became obsessed.  I am going to treat myself to one for my birthday, I just have to decide which.  Actually, I think it's a brilliant idea.  Not that I don't have plenty of other little containers/bags for this kind of stuff. but these do appeal to me, and my birthday is coming up, so there!

What about you?  Do you have any podcasts that you like and/or recommend?  I'm still experimenting with most of the ones I come across, but I have found some that "click" with me (and some that definitely do not!).

Even better - do YOU have a podcast??  Let me/us know in the comments!

Unrelated to this topic, here is a photo my niece Lauren sent of her family.  If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you may remember when we went to Mexico for her wedding about 6 years ago.  Well now she and Ben have two kiddos (and she has a friend who is a professional photographer, so her photos are a lot different from the rest of the family's photos!).  So here are Lauren, Ben, Parker (5), and Ari (2) somewhere near where they live in the San Francisco area.  You can see that some of us clean up pretty well.  :-)

See you next time!

04 February 2017

A Sunny Saturday Sunny FO

Even though it's very cold here in Philadelphia (in the teens, and that's not counting wind chill), today is a beautiful, sunny day!  I would love to take a walk, but though I can get around pretty well, even a walk around the block would likely make me feel cold for the rest of the day, since I'd be moving so slowly.  So I'll admire the sunny day from indoors, and just be glad it looks so pretty.

Believe it or not, I have a second FO to show off!  This astounds me, since I usually am lucky to have one thing finished by early February.  But the combination of being rather home bound and not having the ability to do my usual chores due to a certain degree of immobility, has meant a lot of knitting!  So here is my latest finished project.

Project:  Bluegrass Baa-ble On a Sunny Day Hat
Pattern:  Baa-ble Hat, by Donna Smith
Yarns:  Fibre Company Canopy Worsed, in the following colorways:  Tanager (blue), Lemur (gray), Orchid (white), and Turmeric (yellow)
Needles:  US 4, US 6
Modifications:  A friend had made one of these using the size 4 and 6 needles, and said they made a better fitting hat than what the pattern called for, since everyone was complaining that the resulting hat was too big.  So I took her advice and used those needle sizes as well.  I also did a 2 x 2 ribbing because I thought I would like it better than the 1 x 1 ribbing called for in the pattern.
Comments:  This hat was fun to knit, though also challenging.  It is only about my third fairisle project, so there is definitely room for improvement, but I'm really pleased with how it turned out.  The pattern is very straightforward, and the two biggest challenges for me were the chart, which printed so lightly, it was difficult to tell the contrast in yarns used in any given row.  Fortunately, The Tim fooled with it, and got it both clearer and larger, so I could read it more easily (not being a chart person most of the time, I can get easily flummoxed by them!).  The other challenge were a few rows where, instead of only two yarns at a time, you were using three.  I'm not sure I did it "correctly" but I got it to work, so that's fine with me.  :-)  I had downloaded the free copy of this pattern a few years back when it was available for Shetland Wool Week; I notice it's a paid-for pattern now, so maybe the charts, etc are clearer, who knows?

This was yarn I had purchased for to make this pattern a few years back, so it counts as knitting from stash, which also pleases me.  I have enough left for some other smallish project too - if nothing else maybe some stripey mittens.

I found that having a fairly simple project, like basic socks, and another more "thoughtful" project, is working pretty well for me.  Sometimes, I am not really in the mood to read, so I'll pick up the project that needs more of my attention and work on it while listening to music or an audiobook, or when I'm not 100% engaged in something we might be watching.  This hat didn't take me long (~2 weeks of non-monogamous knitting), but I did have to pay attention to the chart, so I'd usually work on it when I was alone.

If you've been thinking of trying this pattern, I'd recommend it.  The chart was understandable (once I could actually see it better) and it was fun to watch the sheep appear!  And it is a good way to practice some fairisle on a reasonable scale.

That's it for now.  I hope you have a good weekend, whether or not you also are having a sunny day.

02 February 2017

Don't Drive Angry, Phil

Happy Groundhog Day!  I love Groundhog Day, the event and the movie.

Everyone always gets so worked up about Punxsutawney Phil, but I find it highly amusing.  I feel sorry for Phil when the "town fathers" pull him out of his space and hold him above the crowd, but otherwise I like the idea of Phil, and the idea that he can predict the weather.

As for the movie, the incredible ridiculousness of it pleases me.  I guess it also helps that I like Bill Murray ... and because I think we all know someone like Ned Ryerson.  Right? Right?

But anyway, moving on, today is Think Write Thursday, and the topic is Hello, February.

So - Hello, February!  I am happy to see you, because of things that happen during the month, and because of hopes I have for what could happen.

I know a lot of people whine about Valentine's Day, but I love it!  Growing up, it was always a big deal in our house, not as the lovey-dovey kind of thing, but to let friends and family know yow were thinking of them.  And currently, not only is it Valentine's Day, but it's also the birthdays of Jetsam and Pip, so even more reason to celebrate.

And then, it's always nice to have a long weekend from work because of Presidents' Day.  :-)

I like that February is different, because it has fewer days than other months.  It's distinctive that way.

I am *hoping* that when I go to my dr's appt on February 10, that I will find out that my ankle is healing the way it is supposed to, and that I can soon get rid of the cast.

I am looking forward to going to "Alan Cumming Sings Sappy Songs" at the Kimmel Center here.  The tickets were one of my Christmas presents, and I think it will be fun.  We both really like Alan Cumming, and I think we'll have a good time.

And I am looking forward to more cozy days, when I can be at home and knitting, reading, or whatever else I feel like doing.  I like this time of year even though most people just want to get past it.

February, since January ended up being a bust for me, I'm hoping I can feel like I'm getting a good start with you.  I have some goals for the year I'm hoping to organize, so that I can actually work on them, and I'm hoping that even if the state of the government doesn't improve, that I'll be better able to deal with it and still take care of myself.

I'm glad to see you.  :-)