28 September 2017

Three Weird Things

Carole and Kat have left Think Write Thursday behind for Three on Thursday - every week, write about three things.  No other requirements.  You realize that this is A LIST, right?  And Lists R Me.  So today I shall share Three Weird Things About Me.  (I can hear you saying, "Only 3?" hahahahaha)

Weird Thing One

My belly button is fake.  No I am not an alien.  Back when I had a mastectomy, I also had breast reconstruction, using the TRAM flap method.  (Now I'll bet you wish you hadn't read THAT.)  Anyway, my plastic surgeon created a fake belly button so that I would look normal.  (Yeah, I know.)  So when I asked him where my original belly button went, he said it was somewhere in my upper chest.  Which caused me to ask him if when I got a cold and coughed, my reconstructed breast would move on its own.  Which caused him to nearly pass out laughing.

Weird Thing Two

I did not graduate from high school, but I have a Master's degree.  At the beginning of my senior year, I got pneumonia, and missed the first six weeks of school.  Even though I only needed two more credits to graduate (one more for state requirements), I was told that I couldn't return, and would have to wait until the next fall to do my senior year.  At this point, I had already been admitted to college at two places.  I contacted each of them, and they said no big deal.  So I worked and saved money the rest of the school year and started college the next fall.  Not being someone into the high school experience, I was not upset to miss things like the prom and such.

Weird Thing Three

I have won four different sound-alike contests for the "Mr Ed" theme song.  As you know, "Mr Ed" is my fave show EVER.  I know all of the words to the theme song, and at the end where Mr Ed sings the last line,  I have won four sound-alike contests for that.  Two of them were against people who others swore I would not be able to defeat.  Pffft.

How's that for a list??

26 September 2017

Casting On

I have been knitting for a lot of years.  Not a lifetime, but probably about 20 years.  (Which I know is a lifetime for some. Keep it to yourself.)  I'm not a great knitter, I'm not a fast knitter, but I have learned a lot, and I'm certainly better at it than I was when I started.  Overall, I'm pretty pleased with my ability.

So can someone tell me WHY casting on for a new project is so ridiculously hard for me to get right the first time? Or even the first *fifteen* times???  It doesn't matter what the project is, or how many stitches need to be cast on, or what kind of cast on method, or needle(s) I'm using - I just cannot get it right on the first try.

Take for example, a pair of plain socks.  I've made a ton of them over the years, probably more than any other knitted item.  I could probably knit a plain pair in my sleep (not well, mind you, but I could probably do it).  But before I even get to the knitting, I have to cast on multiple times!  Either the count is off, I've wonked it up, I don't have enough yarn to finish, etc.  Some say - put a marker every 5 stitches ... and then, I look at what I have, and there's a marker every four stitches ... or every six ... or - well you get the drift.

Over the weekend, I finished the pair of socks I'd been knitting.  So I decided to cast on (at last) for Main Street, which I'd been wanting to do for about a month.  The pattern says to cast on 228 stitches for a size Medium.

Someone - please just KILL ME NOW.

Over the past couple of days, I have cast on at least 4 times, and each time there has been a problem that required starting over.  I'm sure by now I've cast on over 1000 stitches total, and I have nothing to show for it.  Well, that's not true.  This morning before I left for work, I *think* I successfully got the right number of stitches.  But I made myself put it away so I can re-count them later.  My work life has enough aggravation without arriving to work already annoyed!

So tonight I will count the stitches.  And then I will force The Tim to double-check my count.  Should it be correct, I will knit the first two rounds of the pattern, Row 1 being all purl, and Row 2 being all knit.  I'll wait before continuing after that, because guess what - a simple lace pattern follows!

In between, I'll cast on for my next project, which will be a pair of socks for the I [heart] Fall knit along.  Well, I'll start casting on ...

Tell me - am I the only knitter who has this problem?  Surely there is someone else ... right?  RIGHT?

22 September 2017

Five Favorites for this Fall Friday

Well, OK technically Fall doesn't begin for another couple of hours, but - details, details.

What a week.  I mean, WHAT. A. WEEK.

I really really really had to think to come up with five things that made me happy in the last week.  But I found them, and here they are.

1.  Vegetarian sloppy joes.  The Tim made some the other day for dinner, and they were sooooo yummy!  And it's kinda funny, because when I used to eat meat, I wasn't really that crazy about sloppy joes, because the ones I had always seemed kind of greasy.  But these were most excellent.

2.  Talking to a friend I haven't seen for a while for a nice long time.  Last weekend, I had a phone conversation for a bit more than an hour with a friend who I haven't really had a chance to talk to for any length of time for about 4 years.  We e-mail back and forth, but nothing too involved.  It was fun and so nice to talk to someone who "gets" things that no one else does.  And that's a lot coming from me - someone who HATES to talk on the phone for the most part!

3.  Taking a colleague out for a belated birthday lunch.  One of the scientists who works where I do had his birthday at the beginning of September.  Every year at my birthday time, I inform him that he is taking me out to lunch.  To his credit, he always does.  So I took him out for lunch yesterday, and we had a good time.

4.  Weird but amusing dreams.  I've had a few dreams this week that were even stranger than usual, but what I could remember from them was really funny.  I woke up laughing twice, because somehow even as the dream was occurring, I knew it was ridiculous.

5.  The show "Difficult People."  I know it's not everyone's cup of tea, but we watched the episode for this week last night, and there was a particular part of it that made me laugh so hard, I could barely breathe.  Even The Tim was gasping.  So stupid and so funny.

I hope you've found some good things this week.  Everyone needs to find at least one, right?

We do not have any specific or elaborate plans for this weekend.  The weather is going to be stupidly hot and humid, so I sincerely doubt there will be any activities that require spending any amount of time outdoors.  Does that mean I have to clean the house???!!!

Have a good one.  Happy First Day of Fall!  And if you are lucky enough to be enjoying fall-like weather, enjoy some for me too.  :-)

20 September 2017

The Good, the Bad

Hello there - I meant to write a post in the past couple of days, but got waylaid by some other stuff that needed more immediate attention.  But things have settled at least for the moment, so let's discuss some good things and some bad things, shall we?

Good things first!  On Saturday of this past weekend, I bound off the Scattered Wishes shawl!  Here it is in a state of unblocked, unwoven ended-ness:

Sunday morning I wove in the ends, and blocked it later in the day.  Stay tuned for an upcoming FO post about this one.  Here it is, folded up waiting for blocking:

It's not perfect on the lace border, but it's just fine as far as I'm concerned.  I fudged a couple of things but it's not that noticeable, and even if it is, you have to be mighty close and looking at each stitch to tell.  My plan to only do two rows of the lace whenever I sat down to work on it was the answer to my problems with the lace.  I'm waiting for a nice day when I can get a really good picture for a project post on it.

Another good thing over the weekend:

Sticky buns!  A bakery near our house has these on weekend mornings, and every once in a great while we treat ourselves to one.  These were nice and warm from the bakery, and soooooo yummy!  We are suckers for good sticky buns, let me tell you.

So the weekend was successful.  I am also not that far from finishing the pair of socks I'm knitting - I'm at the decreases for the heel gusset, and then will be able to sail along on the foot and toe, and another pair will be in the books!  Then I can start on my project for Dee and Vera's Fall KAL.  I need to finalize what I want to knit, but it's narrowed down to three possibilities, so I'll just need to decide what works best with the yarn I want to use.

That's all good.  :-)

Then there's the Bad.  Sigh.  Earthquakes and hurricanes.  With not even a breather in between!  This morning on the news, the death toll from yesterday's earthquake in Mexico City was already in the hundreds, with a lot more searching to be done.  I've never experienced an earthquake of any note (gratefully!), but I can only imagine the fear and horror.  

There are wildfires in the west, some barely being controlled, that are destroying forests, lands, homes, and habitat.  Some areas have been suffering from drought and so fighting the flames becomes even  more difficult and unmanageable.

And then, Hurricane Maria heading right for my beloved Puerto Rico makes me incredibly sad.  I keep thinking of the horses, chickens, iguanas, and other animals on Palomino Island.  My hope is that they were able to move the horses somewhere else that is safer, but I also realize they do not have a ton of resources to work with, and will concentrate on people first.

Places right on the water will be especially hard hit, and likely destroyed.

And I keep wondering how people will survive and rebuild.  I know they will want to, since it's their home and their lives, but they are having so many financial issues to start with, there isn't a lot of anything else to use for a jumping off point.  

It's overwhelming when there is just one terrible thing happening - but there have been two earthquakes in Mexico in only a few weeks, and then Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and now Maria all in a row.  And OK, technically, Hurricane Jose has been riling up the waters and flooding along the East Coast, which is not good, but at least it's not as destructive as the others are/have been.  

We can only do so much to help, but it's better than nothing.  And we don't even have the example of compassionate leadership for direction and comfort to make us feel like can and do and will help.  Instead we are stuck with someone who wouldn't know what compassion and empathy were if they were standing in front of him personified.  It boggles my mind that people can exist who are like that, but we have our very own shining star in that arena.

Ugh.  It's up to the rest of us to do what we can, however we can, and when we can.  We're the ones who need to act and do a Good Thing.

13 September 2017

Extremely Ravell'd

Ha ha, see what I did there?  (Hey work with me people, I need to amuse myself however I can these days.)

Anyway, it's Unraveled Wednesday, and this week I actually have some stuff to share, so I thought I'd go ahead and post.  Sometimes there is nothing different to show you than the same old thing from last week, so I'm often uninspired.  But this week I felt like progress had been made.

Below are the two projects I am currently knitting.  On the left is the cuff and almost all of the leg on my second Solar sock.  It's an enjoyable knit, and once you get into the rhythm of it, you can make a lot of progress quickly.  It's when you haven't picked it up for a while that you find yourself knitting along and then you realize you've screwed up and have to unknit a few rows.  Then you become annoyed with yourself.  

On the right is a bunched up shot of my Scattered Wishes shawl, which is no nearly finished, that it makes me nuts.  Why, you ask?  Because the last 26 rows are lace, and as you know if you have read this blog more than twice, lace and I have a complicated relationship at best.  Having said that, I am currently at Row #20, which is farther along than I've gotten before, so perhaps the end is in sight.  Even using lifelines, I have frogged and restarted this section more times than I can remember!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this project, and even hope to knit another one, but this last section is killing me!  I am determined to be the victor in this battle though.  ;-)

Lately I have not been able to read anything very complex or involved, so I recently finished two quick cozy mysteries, and started this the other day.  Edna O'Brien is one of my favorite writers, and this is a collection of short stories, which is perfect for me right now.  I just started this, but the couple of things I've read so far, I've really enjoyed.  I love her way of seeing things and describing people.

In other news, I went to a trunk show at Loop last Sunday for Backyard Fiberworks, and I have found another true love yarn brand (yeah, because I needed something else to spend my non-existent funds on, right??).  The colors she had were truly gorgeous - lovely combinations, and solids that were so saturated, they almost didn't look real!

She had three samples knit in her yarns that I was insanely crazy about:  5190 Miles, On the Spice Market, and Torquata, which Alice - the dyer behind Backyard Fiberworks - was wearing.  These are all lovely as shown on the pages linked here, but seeing them in person, in the combinations she had, made me actually want to knit them!  For the last two, she had sets of minis for the pops of color, and then you just add one skein of yarn for the main color, as she said, "Just from your stash, unless you want to spend more money!"  She was wearing her version of Torquata, and I think that may be an upcoming project for me, once I can save up to buy one of the mini-packets (they weren't that expensive, but I am currently very broke! ... and, since Loop will be starting to carry her stuff, I won't have to pay shipping).  Anyway, it is always fun to see yarns that are new to me, and to see how a different color combination can change your whole experience of something.

That's it for today's blathering.  I'm happy and relieved to see/hear that so many of my blog friends in Florida are safe, even if slightly inconvenienced by Irma - inconvenience is always preferable to injury.  One friend IRL who moved to Florida last year, said that her 3-year-old thought sleeping in a closet was so much fun, he didn't want to go back to his regular bed - he wanted to know if they could have another "raining party" soon!  I guess it's good he wasn't traumatized, but I'm pretty sure no one is hoping for another raining party anytime in the near future ...

Take care, all.  I'll be back  again soon.

08 September 2017

Five Favorites for This Friday

Even more than usual, TGIF!! (By the way, have you seen Kym's new way to interpret that?  I may have to give that a try myself in the future.) 

Thanks for all of your kind and supportive words over the past few weeks.  This week has been particularly brutal, and so I need a favorites post to keep me from just losing it altogether.  So let's see what we have to think about that has been good over the past week.

1.  The weather.  The actual weather outside - not in my head!  It's been a lovely week here in Philadelphia.  Tuesday was the least enjoyable to me, since it was warmer and more humid than it has been recently.  But other than that, the days have been sunny, warm but not too warm, with  nice breezes and overnight temperatures that require a sheet or lightweight quilt to be comfy.  Particularly given what other places are dealing with, it's been perfect.

2.  Our trip to Nockamixon State Park on Labor Day.  It was such a nice day, and though there were lots of people around, it was not crowded in the least.  We saw and petted lots of pups, laughed at some of the kiddos at the pool, and enjoyed watching the birds of prey flying around.  We saw hawks, buzzards, and even some brown eagles.  Even better, none of them were interested in us!

3.  Kim's Knitters Hunk and Knitters Chick contest.  It's just gotten underway, and if you haven't been participating, you should.  Not only is it fun to see who is nominated and vote, but I find it fascinating to see who is involved.  So many people nominate their faves that you truly see a crazy range of people.  

4.  Kindness.  Seeing how people have been going out of their way to actually do what they can for others with all of the hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, and even earthquakes happening.  So much of our daily lives has been overtaken by the horrific actions of the current administration in DC, that it was rewarding to be reminded that most people, when given the opportunity, have true kindness in their hearts.  

5.  Farm stands.  On our way home  this past Monday, we stopped at a farm stand and bought some fresh corn, a cantaloupe and some peaches.   We are still enjoying all of them, and they really and truly are so much yummier than what you can buy at a grocery store.  

Hopefully there has been at least one thing this week that has made you happy.  And here is wishing all of us a good weekend!  For those of you anywhere near any of the terrible weather, I hope that you and yours will be OK. 

Take care, everyone.

07 September 2017

Shortest To-Do List Ever!

This week's Think Write Thursday had a different kind of twist to it, since apparently participation is not what Carole and Kat were hoping.  I understand that, since I am not always a participant.  Sometimes I seriously just don't want to put the time and effort into a topic that doesn't grab me, and other times I truly forget altogether.  So they asked us this week to think about Three Things Thursday, and share three things from our To-Do List.

As you probably know I love lists, and I have To-Do Lists that are a) very long, b) unrealistic, and c) lists of To-Do Lists *for* my other To-Do Lists!  (Ridiculous, I know.  So.Many.Lists.  Oh well.)  But I can certainly share three things that are in the top of my brain (and its own list) right now, so here goes.

1. Find another job.  This has been on the top of many lists for a long while, but recent events have made it even more necessary for me.  The real kicker was yesterday, when I asked if someone could please empty the trash in the library, since our usual person is on vacation this week, and nothing had been picked up since last Thursday.  The solution: *I* am now collecting the library's trash.  I am not too good to do this, or a snob who thinks that people who collect trash are somehow not worth thinking about.  Rather, I am angry that this is the solution they came up with.  The powers-that-be decided outsourcing the building maintenance would be a great idea, so there are very specific things that the cleaning service will and will not do.  I could go on, but suffice it to say that apparently adding someone else's duties to another employee when someone is out is not part of the contract.  Which is stupid.  Anyhoo, I am very hopeful that something happens sooner rather than later on the job front for me.  Because especially very soon, it will only get worse for a long while before it gets any better.

OK, sorry for the mini-rant.  Moving on.

2.  Clean out one closet.  Yes, all of the closets need to be cleaned out, but you know, baby steps.  Surely I can get one out of the way.  Theoretically, it will help remind me not to just throw stuff into closets willy-nilly, and cut down on the need to do it again whenever it becomes Another Big Thing.

3.  Finish - or just even get closer to finishing - seaming a sweater.  My Custom Fit sweater was finished and blocked months ago.  A couple of weeks ago, I seamed the shoulders.  That's it.  If I would actually finish seaming it, then I could knit the neckline, and then I could actually WEAR it.  And the weather is only going to get cooler in the next couple of months, so I don't have the well-it's-not-like-I-could-wear-it-in-this-weather-anyway excuse.

To some extent, the first item is out of my control - but the other two could actually - hopefully - happen.  Yay.  :-) And I could do them this weekend ... or, I could do this:

I won't.  But ... I could ... and it would greatly amuse me ...

06 September 2017

In Which I Am Feeling Unstable

Hello there!  I hope all of you in the U.S. had a good Labor Day weekend.  Ours was for the most part uneventful, but the highlights were my successful crockpot dinner of minestrone on Saturday, and our trip to Nockamixon State Park for the day on Monday.  Most of the weekend was rainy, but Monday was one of those perfect days, and we had a great time hiking around, and then ending the day at the pool.

On Saturday, I finished the first of my pair of socks using the Solar pattern.  It took me a while, with my arthritis flareup, but I'm really pleased with how the first one turned out.  Here you will see one of my assistants checking for mistakes ...

I have yet to cast on the second sock, mostly because my arthritis is acting up again due to too much knitting over the weekend.  No one's fault but my own.

Rest assured, the other assistants also were busy.

I am currently having one of those weeks/times when you are fine, nothing much is going on, but you are unable to really concentrate on much of anything for any length of time.  I started a book, and I know I'm gonna like it, but I put it aside until I *must* read.  Right now my reading consists of looking at magazines and being able to handle the short articles.  My knitting is currently non-existent, between the discomfort and my lack of interest/concentration.  I'm trying to just ride it all out, but I'm feeling really out of it, and am with it enough to have it be annoying!

I did manage to revisit my Scattered Wishes shawl over the weekend, and make progress on the lace border past where I had to rip out and start over, so that was a good feeling.  (Until I realized that I'd done myself no favors by doing that much knitting.  Sometimes it's like I'll never learn.  Eejit.)  It's looking nice, but I didn't take any photos because at this point the stitches are so shmushed onto the needle, you can't really tell quite what it is supposed to be.  :-)

Summer Book Bingo 2017 ended and I didn't even have a single bingo.  Such is life.  I enjoyed it for the most part, but I'm not sure I'll do it again, at least not at this point.  I'm glad I branched out in some of my reading, but I guess the whole thing just didn't "click" for me.  Which is fine - some things I glom onto, and others, not so much.

This coming weekend is the New Jersey Sheep and Fiber Festival.  We went a couple of years ago, and it was a lot of  fun.  It's quite small, but perfect for spending a good portion of a day.  I'm not sure if we'll be able to go this weekend or not, but if you are nearby, it's worth a visit.  And yesterday I found out about the existence of the Lehigh Valley Fiber Festival; I was not aware of this event before, so maybe we can check that out.  It would not be that far from us, and at that point in September would probably be a lovely drive.

And that's it for now.  What are you up to?  Any fiber events coming your way anytime soon?