31 May 2024

Five Favorites For This Friday

Hello and Happy Friday, and happy last day of May! I'm kind of sad to see May end, as it is one of my favorite months, usually because the weather is pleasant - not too hot for any length of time, with cool nights which means good sleeping. This May was rainier than usual, but I think around here at least, April was a LOT rainier, so I'll take it.

If you are a long-time reader here, you may recall that I used to do something fairly regularly called "Five Favorites For This Friday," which was a post that was a random collection of things that made me happy in the past week. I felt like doing one today, and I looked to see when the last one was.

Gulp. 2016.

Well, I'm bringing it back today, so here we go.

1. I apologize to anyone who already saw this on Instagram or Facebook - feel free to move to the second item on this list!

I took this photo on our way to West Virginia last week, because looking at the mountains covered with trees reminded me of something. When I was in fourth grade, my classroom had a view very similar to this one.

I used to look out and think how the trees resembled a tufted carpet. Then I imagined that God and our guardian angels walked along it unseen, making sure that we were OK. It was always a comforting thought. (I spent a lot of fourth grade looking out the window. We had moved in the middle of the school year, and I was way ahead in lessons, etc.)

2. I took this picture to post on  my friend Carol's Facebook page. Some of her family background is Polish, and I knew she in particular would appreciate this. On Saturday night, this was our dining venue. I didn't just like the sign, I liked the bonus statue of the Infant of Prague in the window. A perfect storm, you know.

For the record, the pierogies were wonderful. I wish I had more right now!

3. Guilty. All 34 counts. 

4. There's a little girl who lives down the street from us, who I used to see at least twice a week, taking a walk with her babysitter. She is a cutie, but has always been pretty shy if you said hello - you know, she would kind of give you a smile and then hide behind the babysitter. 

I saw them yesterday afternoon, and was surprised because she was so much bigger. And she has definitely gotten over being shy! I said hello and commented that it had been a while since I'd seen her, and she said, "I'm five now, and I had a birthday party last week!" I wished her a happy belated birthday, and she launched into a long, complicated story about something that happened at her birthday party which was probably not as complex to understand as it seemed. But the best part was at the end of the story, when she said, "So all in all, it was a fabulous and magnificent event!" 

We should all be so lucky, right? 😊

5. Yesterday I showed you the very beginning of my Emotional Support Chicken. I spent yesterday afternoon putting the two back wing sections together, and working on the next part. 

I'm having such a good time with this! I even tried crocheting the two back wing sections together (the red vertical line) and though it's not perfect, I'm happy with the result. I just thought that the crocheted seams that I had seen on other projects looked much more decorative, and wanted to try it.

So there you go. It was a decent week for the most part. 

Now it's on to June and the weekend. The only specific plans I have are to take some herb plants and put them into different pots, and getting The Tim to help me with potting some lavender plants in a large pot similar to ones that are holding some other plants that seem to be very happy. Other than that, I just have my usual little projects around the house, and seeing what I feel like doing. It will be nice to have a quiet weekend after traveling last weekend, and having a kind of iffy start to this week.

I hope you'll have a good one as well, and find some time to just do whatever will make you happy. Take care. 

30 May 2024

Weekend Trips and Changes

Hello all - I hope if you live in the U.S., you had an enjoyable Memorial Day weekend - and if you don't live here, I hope you had a great weekend that was not a holiday. 

We had a lovely trip to West Virginia. We didn't run into any real traffic on our way, and it was a lovely, sunny, cool day to travel. We lucked out with that same weather on Saturday and Sunday as well, which made it perfect for porch-sitting (our fave thing when we are there) as well as our various outings with my sister, brother-in-law, niece Amanda, and her husband Patrick. There were lots of laughs, good eats, lots to drink, and it felt like we were there for a nice long time.

Coming home on Monday, we really didn't run into much traffic either, and fortunately, even though we drove through some rain showers, the serious rain didn't happen until we were on our very last leg of the trip, on roads we know. Still not a lot of traffic there, just fortunately everyone slowing down since it was raining hard enough to make it difficult to see very well. But we made it home safe and sound, much to the pleasure of the kitties, who made friends with the cat sitter but were glad to see us.

As a matter of fact, even Esme made friends with the cat sitter! The service we use has them send us photos from each visit. In one of the photos, Esme was sitting on the arm of a chair in the living room, right nexts to Brian the cat-sitter! It drove The Tim nuts, since she is still scared of him. But Brian is very soft-spoken, so I think that was the difference. The Tim said he was glad we didn't stay longer, because the next picture probably would have shown Esme tap-dancing on Brian's lap! 😂

The changes referenced above relate to my employment status. I am currently unemployed, as of Tuesday. I mentioned a while back that things were getting a bit difficult at the yarn store. On top of that, there are several medical things I have to take care of this summer (nothing life-threatening or overly serious), and it has become impossible to find someone to cover/switch shifts with me if my appointments are on days I'm supposed to work. I have no control over medical scheduling, and even when I've asked them not to schedule me on certain days, when those are the only days available or when certain things are done, I have no choice. So there was that. Also, as of April, my hours were cut by a whole day. I was no longer working on Sundays, which to be honest, was my favorite day to be there. 

And frankly, if the medical things didn't get in the way, I'm not sure how much longer I would have lasted. A new person was hired to be an intermediate level supervisor, and I worked with her every day I was there. She is nice enough, but one of those people who gets super-hyper-focused on something and drives it into the ground. It was making me NUTS, and there were a few times I didn't appreciate things she said about me or my work ethic. 

So here I am at 68 years old, hoping to find another part-time job. Ugh. I've been applying for a while - the yarn shop pay was very low - but nothing has been happening. I get it to some degree, but for a part-time job, I would think you might want an older person who is less likely to jump ship quickly. Of course, that is my own, very self-serving opinion ... 

I did have a really good interview a couple of weeks ago, and thought I had a good shot at the job, but then .... they hired someone else. Oh well. I'm giving myself a couple of weeks to try and decompress and get organized (unless someone wants to hire me tomorrow, LOL), and then I'll look into volunteering, so that I have a requirement to leave the house from time to time.

And that's the latest from here. I have been knitting, and have a good start on all of my projects. Last week, I did in fact get to start my Emotional Support Chicken (good timing!). 

Here is the first part of the back - I have actually finished both parts of the back and they are currently blocking so that I can seam them together before moving on to the rest of it. It was fun to do, and I'm hoping that the rest of it will be as much fun. I have started my Anker Tee and a pair of socks as well, so even though I have no photos, I'm enjoying those projects. 

And of course I've been reading a lot. I have loaded up on some "summer" reads and also am waiting for some books I have on hold at the library to make their way to my name on the list.

And oh - remember the portable leaf blower that The Tim ordered and I mentioned couple of posts back - well, it's supposed to be delivered today. So we'll see a) how portable it really is, and b) how quiet it is. Supposedly it is both of those, but often my definition and their definitions are not the same, you know? 

24 May 2024

Memorial Day Weekend 2024

As you are reading this, we'll be on the road headed to West Virginia for the weekend. I hope you have a wonderful long weekend if you are here in the U.S., but that you also take the time to remember why Memorial Day exists in the first place. 

No matter where you are though and what you do or do not observe, enjoy your weekend, and I'll check in again next week, before we head into June.

22 May 2024

Observations From the Week So Far

Hello there! Thank you for all of the kind comments about my Daisy Socks - I was also glad to know that other sock knitters agree that you don't always have to have a fancy pattern to enjoy knitting socks. 

The weather has been nice this week, though yesterday and it sounds like today will be a bit too hot for my liking. But it's not raining, which is a nice change. And since it is now officially Cats At the Garden Door Staring Intently Season, some members of the family are glad that the rain does not interfere with any outside activities. 

We had some excitement the other day. Pip, Alfie, and Esme were sitting at the door to the garden looking more intently than usual at something. So I had to take a look to see what I was missing.

We had a visitor! A very pretty kitty cat, who just stayed and hung out for about four hours. The most they would move would be to change position. Our cats were mesmerized, and surprisingly quiet about the whole thing. No yowling or growling or other weird noises they can make when seeing another cat from time to time. The kitty wasn't at all scared or bothered when I went to the door and was talking to them. When I texted this photo to The Tim, who was not at home, he texted back, "Oh no no no no no." 😂

I told the kitty if they needed us to come back, but so far there hasn't been a second appearance. I'm hoping that is because they belong somewhere and went home. But who knows?

You may recall that in past years, I've spent a LOT of time outside in the garden, cleaning it up and getting it ready for late spring/summer/early fall, so we can be out there comfortably. And it has always taken me several times working on it to get done, and every year I tell The Tim how it kills my back and my knees. 

Well, without me saying anything at all about getting the garden ready, he has gone out there three times already this year to work on cleaning up the garden. Which is fine with me, it's not like I have any ownership on that chore. As a matter of fact, I always wished I had some help. Anyway, things are just about finished, clean-up wise. I have always felt in the past that when I took so much time to do it, and commented about how physical it was, that The Tim felt that it was likely just me being my usual dramatic self. 

So yesterday, he informed me that he saw that Lowe's was having a sale on portable leaf blowers, and he was planning to order one. I said that was fine with me, but I was kind of surprised he was interested in one, and he said that he thought it might make keeping the garden cleaned up "a lot easier."

So ... I guess when he started working on it himself, he found out I wasn't necessarily being my usual dramatic self??  No comment. 😉

I have started two new knitting projects, and hope to start another one today. I cast on for another Anker's Summer Shirt the other day. Though the 1 x 1 ribbing kills me (not my fave thing), I understand the pattern much better now, and so it's going a lot more smoothly than it did with the first one I made. Plus, I realized that I wear my already-knitted one quite often and it's nice and comfortable, while also looking put together. I don't have much knit yet, but it's certainly moving along faster than my first one did!

And then yesterday I cast on for a pair of socks, and so far have knit one cuff. My plan today is to cast on for my Emotional Support Chicken, which I think will be a fun project to have on the needles.

And that's about it so far. I have a Dr appointment later this morning, and will work on some laundry, as well as some other things I would like to finish before we head to West Virginia. Tomorrow I left as kind of open, to see what I might absolutely have to do still, but also to be able to take my time getting organized for our trip.

I hope your week is going well, and that you are getting some sunshine instead of rain or hail or other drastic weather I've been hearing about. Take care!

20 May 2024

Monday FO: Daisy Socks

Hello! Well of course I am shocked to learn that for those of us in the U.S., the upcoming weekend will be Memorial Day. I'm still somewhere at the beginning of May, to be honest. I mean, I do realize the holiday is coming, because we are planning to go to Almost Heaven West Virginia for the weekend, and I had to arrange for the kitties to be cared for, but it still seems like there should be more time until it all happens.

Both The Tim and I are off work this week, which is nice. Not that we have any specific plans - but we have some projects around the house and garden, and it's nice to just have time to do things when you feel like doing them.

OK, now the real reason for this post - I have another FO to show you. They have been finished for a week or so, but it took me a while to find a day when it wasn't raining and/or cloudy to get a decent photo. Here are my Daisy Socks.

Project: Daisy Socks
Pattern: Plain vanilla sock pattern in my brain
Yarn: Timber Farms Twin Sock, in the Daisy colorway
Needles: US size 0/2.0 mm
Notes: I bought this yarn along with another one a couple of years ago, and finally got around to knitting with it. I love both the name and the colors, and decided that it would be a perfect springtime knit. 

These are just a plain sock, with 2 x 2 ribbing at the cuff, and a heel and gusset construction, using the pattern I learned to knit socks with, which is now in my brain. I thought about using some kind of pattern but decided that the stripes should just be stripe-y, and I'm glad I did. I'm very happy with them. 

Whenever people say they will never knit the same pattern again, I think they must not be sock knitters. Because most sock knitters I know try different things with their socks, but have a go-to, plain pattern that they use more often than not. I enjoy trying different sock, but sometimes knitting a sock is more of a comfort thing, so I just go for what I can already do without worrying about counting, etc.

And now - other than some ongoing projects (for example, my Cozy Memories Blanket), I do not have anything officially on the needles! That will however change starting today, as I have the yarn, needles, project bags, etc. ready for my next three projects, plus I want to organize things to start a summertime needlework project. So do not fear, I'm not project-less for long!

Hopefully this week will be good for all of us. Take care, and I'll let you know what gets underway when.

16 May 2024

Thursday Flora Update

I thought I'd show you some "flora" (as in fauna and flora) we are enjoying lately. First up, our clematis, which is blooming like crazy in the garden and giving us something so pretty and splashy to see out the window!

There's a lot of dead leaves on it that I didn't get to trim before it started blooming, and I didn't want to interrupt things then, so I'll wait until its season is over to trim them. But this year it had ten blossoms altogether, which is a record. One of them was even on the ground, in the middle of some ground cover.

Of course since it's been raining so much this week, a lot of the blooms are gone, but they were sure nice while they lasted. Especially considering that about three years ago, I thought I'd killed the plant altogether when I got a bit carried away trimming out the ground cover. It just makes me so happy that it survived and seems to be thriving.

You may recall in the post where I regaled you with tales of our new door - which we are still loving, btw - I mentioned that the day after we got our new door, that we got a new tree, and I promised a photo. 

Behold, our new tree:

It's a honey locust tree, and since I took this photo about two weeks ago, it's gotten even taller and fuller! We used to have a crabapple tree in the spot that became diseased and had to be removed. The City of Philadephia has a program where they will provide you with a free tree, but needless to say, you get added to a list, they check the location, and then you wait until your turn comes around. They check the location because sometimes in the past, people have planted trees in places that are not not optimum for either the tree or for foot/car traffic. So your space has to get approval before anything else moves forward. And then you wait. But the bonus is, you don't get charged for the tree and volunteers in the program do all of the planting (which would currently be completely exhausting for the two of us to attempt).

There's also a list of approved trees for city streets. This is important because not all kinds of trees will do well in this kind of environment. Also, years ago many many gingko trees were planted everywhere in the city, and though they are lovely to see, those that fruit then drop the fruit, which gets trampled or driven over, and the permeating vomit-like smell is really disgusting. Needless to say, gingko trees are not on the list of choices! We chose the honey locust because it the particular one listed is a smaller variety that would not split the sidewalk or cause other problems. And as I mentioned before, at least right now, it seems to be pretty darn happy and growing like crazy.

And you know what? When you walk out of our new front door, our new tree is about 2 feet to the left of it. So our new tree and our new door are so pretty together when you walk up towards the house!

We were feeling pretty good about things on this side of the house on this particular street, thinking the only thing that was the next project was replacement of the carport, which has been out of commission now for a few years. But lest we start to think we are ahead of things for once, we awoke last Friday to find that part of the brick planter in front had completely collapsed. Either someone tried to sit on it, or ran into it with a car or a bicycle. So now we have that to deal with as well. It's a good thing we budgeted a little bit more than we thought we would need for all of these repairs and projects. But you know - yet another thing. Ugh.

It will of course all be worth it in the end, but finding the right people, scheduling everything, and then making sure you can be here when they are doing the work has a lot of moving parts to consider. And then of course trying to get Alfie to understand that 99% of the time, he just cannot be involved is a whole 'nother story! 😊

"You don't understand - workers need to have me there to snoopervise and help with the work. But my TERRIBLE parents refuse to allow me to be included. Just wait until someone reports them to PETA, that'll teach them!"

15 May 2024

Wednesday FO: Mabel Sweater

Do you watch the show "Only Murders In The Building?" We love it. We have always been big Steve Martin and Martin Short fans, and Selena Gomez has now also become a fave of ours based on this show.

Anyway, her character is named Mabel, and in Season 1, she wore a light blue, bulky, funnel neck sweater in one episode that just caught my eye and I wanted to make one just like it. So off to Ravelry, where I did a lot of searching with various filters, keywords, etc. I couldn't find anything that looked just like - or even enough like - the sweater to suit me. But I found a pattern that I liked that used bulky yarn, so I decided to knit that and it would be sort of *my* version of Mabel's sweater.

Project: Mabel Sweater
Pattern: Cozier, by Tanis Lavallee
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky, in the colorway Fjord Heather
Needles: US size 10/6mm; and, US size 11/8mm
Modifications: I opted for a length in between the cropped version and the longer version (something like Mabel's sweater looked to me). I also didn't knit a turtleneck, but didn't quite create a funnel neck either. Which is fine, it's for me.
Notes: First off, I have to say that this is not my best work. There are a lot of flaws, but 1) I was making it as kind of a throw-on cozy sweater for around the house so no big deal there; and, 2) I had a hard time with the large needles - first off, I'm not used to needles that big, and second of all, I couldn't knit for very long at any one time before my hand would be killing me. So even though people say things like, "Oh using bulky yarn means it knits up SO fast," for me that wasn't the case. 

So although I am happy enough with the finished sweater, I'm mostly just glad it's done and over with. It looks fine for an around-the-house sweater, and it will be nice and warm and cozy. But unless it's some small thing like a hat or mittens or something like that, I'm done using bulky yarn and big needles. I just didn't enjoy the process, which for me is just as important as the result.

The pattern is very well-written, and I kinda sorta wish I could make one similar to the striped one shown in the pattern. But I'll just have to make a colorful striped sweater using a different pattern and smaller yarn somewhere down the road.

The photo above shows the actual color of the sweater much better. I do like the color (I guess that's why most of wardrobe is blue? LOL), and it's nice and soft. And since it's super wash, I won't have to baby it, which is nice.

So in closing, I can recommend the pattern and the yarn if you enjoy making bulky weight items. And I am happy enough with the final sweater. And putting a completely positive spin on the whole thing, I guess it was a learning experience for me regarding bulky knits.

Needless to say, your mileage may vary, as the saying goes.

I also have a finished pair of socks to share with you, but that's another post. So stay tuned!

06 May 2024

FO Monday : Alpine Bloom Red

Hello and I hope your weekend was a good one! Mine was fine - nothing especially good, nothing especially bad. It was pretty rainy and cold, which was nice for staying inside, knitting, reading, and drinking tea. Plus, yesterday was one year since Miss Esme joined the family, so we had a little celebration for her - little, because although she has made huge progress, she's still not sure we're not trying to kill her ... it was also Hamlet's birthday, so we drank a special toast to him last night. We miss our Hammy so much!

Anyway, I'm starting this week with an FO which was a long time in the making. Partly because it was colorwork, which I am not well versed in, and partly because it was charted, which I have not really done too much. But it all worked out in the end.

Project: Alpine Bloom Red
Pattern: Alpine Bloom Hat, by Caitlin Hunter
Needles: US size 3/3.25 mm and US size 5/3.75 mm
Yarn: Barrett Wool Co. Wisconsin Woolen Spun Sport Weight; colorways Chestnut and Apple
Modifications: Are you kidding me?
Notes: This was part of a kit I purchased from Barrett Wool Co. at the beginning of 2024. I had decided that I wanted to give colorwork knitting a try, and thought a hat would be a good start.

I have not really knitted much from a chart, so that was also a challenge to me. Fortunately, the pattern was very well-written and very understandable. Though it required a lot of concentration on my part, and went quite slowly. I had to make sure that I was home by myself with no distractions whenever I worked on it! I started at the beginning of February, and finished around the middle of April, so it was a longer project (though of course it was interspersed with working on other things during the same time.)

This was also the first time I knit a pattern by Caitlin Hunter, and I have to say that it was really enjoyable. I can see why her patterns are so popular, if they are as well done as this one. (Who knows, maybe I'll try another one ...) 

The kit was good for me, because there were limited choices as far as colors go - otherwise I might still be deciding what colors I wanted to use. I like the yarn - it is cozy feeling and soft but still rustic. I think this will be a great hat to wear. The kit included a pompom option, and I like the hat both ways to be honest. Since the pompom is one of the removable kinds, I don't have to make a single decision about it, at least not right now.

Best of all, it fits my big head! I knit the Adult Small/Medium, because I figured that the Adult Large might be really large (which now I know it must be), and figured if it didn't fit me, I could always gift it to someone in my family. But too bad, everyone else, this one I'm keeping for myself! 😊

I only used about half of each of the colors of yarn, so I think this would be an excellent scrappy project. Down the road, I may look through my leftovers and make another, you never know.


I hope your week goes well. I have two Dr appts on different days, but otherwise am hoping to work on some of my personal projects, in and out of the house. And I am one sock toe away from having completely empty needles - time to decide what projects are next!