Sunday, December 31, 2006

Final pair for 2006

I really thought I was done with completed 2006 objects until I had some unexpected knitting time. On Friday night, we watched Pirates of the Caribbean with the boys and I was able to knit through the whole movie. Then, yesterday, we had an unexpected snow storm which kept me home for the entire day. It didn't make sense to go out in the snow so I sat at home, near the fire, and knit away. I got all but the last 4 rows and the toes kitchenered last night. Finally, today, after a long day spent scouring bargains at Target and attending the sale at my LYS, I came home to finish the second sock.

I love these socks and can not wait to wear them. The Dublin Bay pattern is perfect for dark colored yarn which really wouldn't show any other pattern. The lace panels down the sides of the legs are just enough and hold your interest while you're knitting mostly stockinette. The Cherry Tree Hill yarn amazes me. It is very, very soft and yet so sproingy. It feels like is has elastic in it (which it doesn't) and the socks hug your legs. I only wish that I hadn't had so many problems with it. The first hank I used had 5 knots in the second half. The second hank that the wonderful owner of the LYS sent me had 2 knots in my knitting of this sock. That's a lot of knots!

I'm anxious to try Cherry Tree Hill supersock again. I'm going to tell myself that the knot problem was specific to this particular colorway. The LYS owner sent me a different colorway to try and though I can't wait to knit with CTH again, it will have to wait it's turn. Tonight I'll cast on for my second Bearfoot Flathead Cherry sock. Tomorrow, I plan to cast on for the Fancy Silk Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks. I'm taking on the January Challenge for the Knitting Vintage Socks KAL. I plan to use the Lorna's Laces seen below in Grapevine which is awfully close to the yarn used in the book (though it wasn't planned that way).

I believe this will be my final post for 2006. Happy New Year everyone!!! I hope the new year brings us all prosperity and health.

Friday, December 29, 2006

It's a good thing she's cute

Last night I sat down to finish my Bearfoot sock. I always get antsy as I get near the toe decreases and have to be careful not to get too anxious and make the toe too short. It's just that I can see the finish line and I can't wait to get there so I can try the sock on without those pesky needles. I put the yarn down for a couple of minutes to check on something in another room. I returned and anxiously picked up the needles. When I gave the yarn a tug the string came loose in my hands - that is it wasn't attached to the skein anymore. The yarn felt suspiciously wet on both ends and sweet, little Lucy was sitting right next to my knitting cleaning herself. She won't admit it but I know she ate through my yarn.

It's a good thing she's cute.

I couldn't even get mad at her. I just picked up where I left off and finished the first sock last night. I immediately put it on my foot and put the one Dublin Bay sock on the other. I love the way the Dublin Bay sock hugs the foot while I'm not too sure about the Bearfoot. When I walked with the socks on (in my slippers), the Dublin Bay sock was fine while the Bearfoot felt slippery and perhaps biggish or something. Time will tell. I decided to finish the heel of the Dublin Bay sock so I could get to the mindless foot portion that can be knitted anytime, anywhere. Later, I'll cast on for the second Bearfoot. Neither look as though they'll be finished in 2006 but I should have two great pairs of socks to start 2007

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Waiting in the wings

Wow, that's fast service! When I saw that yarn4socks was having a sale I couldn't wait to place my order. They carry the J. Knits sock yarn that I was raving about last week. I placed my order Christmas Eve day and it was mailed that same day. I was very pleasantly surprised to see my order in my mailbox today.

On the left are two skeins of Lorna's Laces in the Grapevine colorway - it's the perfect shade of purple. Next to that is J. Knits Light Sock in the Massachusetts colorway - beautiful shades of roses and pinks (I love it even if I'm not a pink kind of girl). Finally, on the right is J. Knits sock yarn in Tamap - shades of pink and gray. Mmmmm ... I'm not sure what drew me to the pinks as I have never, ever knit with pink before but this yarn is luscious..

The weather is not exactly sunny today but is clear and I thought it might be nice to try to get some outside shots. Below is a skein of Cherry Tree Hill in one of their potluck colorways. This one is shades of clue and green (mostly green). The wonderful owner of Ewe'll Love It sent this to me after my Cherry Tree Hill disaster. She picked it out for me herself and I think it's beautiful. I don't normally knit with green because the color makes me look ill but in socks it will be perfect.

Finally, I took another picture of that Bearfoot sock yarn I posted about yesterday. I think this picture shows the colors much more accurately though still not perfectly. I like how quickly this yarn knits up - I'm just about through the gusset without a lot of time or effort.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Fibery Treats

Today's a good day for posting about fibery treats.

My youngest son was determined to buy me yarn for Christmas. Whenever he shopped with me he picked out hideous fun fur in bright colors like turquoise and asked me how I liked them. I tried to steer him toward yarns I really do like but, well, he's 7 and he was attracted to "pretty" yarn for his pretty mom. I suggested that my husband bring him shopping at a LYS and called the owner ahead of time so she could steer them toward appropriate yarn.

After guidance from my husband my son picked out the following yarn because he knows my favorite colors are red and purple. This is Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Flathead Cherry. The colors don't show up great in this photo but the yarn is beautiful. This is my first time knitting with Bearfoot. It is definitely heavier than my usual yarns but is listed as fingering weight.

I wanted to get something cast on right away to show my son how much I loved the yarn. After some fiddling I settled on a 56 stitch cast on with size 2 US Addis (oh, how I wish there were decent circulars in size 2.75). I'm using a simple ribbed pattern and the sock is moving along quickly. The yarn is very soft and cushiony. I'm a little worried about the yardage and my big feet but we'll see what happens. My LYS owner assures me that I'll have enough as she uses the yarn often and has the same size feet.

Today I did my usual day after Christmas shopping. I was shocked at how few people were out and was very pleased not to have to wait in lines. I picked up my wrapping paper for next year at Hallmark and then went to Borders. I decided to return a cd given to me by my husband because I knew I'd never listen to it. With that cd return money and a 30% off coupon I was able to get Knitting Vintage Socks - this is a much better gift for me. While I was there I also picked up some Jelly Belly jelly beans at 75% off (isn't that little container cute?). I also got a knit a day type calendar at 50% off because I thought it might be fun and I might even find a pattern or two. I got all this for under $25 (and only $12 came out of my own pocket).

Finally, I made a deal with myself (everyone does that, right?) that I could knit on my new sock only after I finished the Trekking socks by weaving in the ends. I had a load of delicates ready to wash and wanted to throw these in too. I'm really hoping I like these socks more after they're washed. Right now I could not care less about them. My 12 year old told me that he'd be happy to take them off my hands if they fit him. I think his feet are too big (size 11.5 mens) but we'll see after they're washed.

Now on to the other deal I made with myself. I have to fold the laundry before I can sit down to knit and I just heard the dryer beep.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's practically here

There is no really good reason why I have a picture of Lucy today except that I dislike pictureless posts. Doesn't she look filled with Christmas wonder?

After a morning spent baking, I ventured out shopping with my oldest son. I had a few odds and ends that I wanted to pick up. We went out with a good attitude knowing that the stores would be crowded. We were pleased to find the stores had ample employees working and that parking was easy to find if you didn't insist on parking right near the stores. I picked up every last thing I needed or wanted and can now rest easy that shopping is complete. We've done lots of wrapping over the last week and though I know there's more to be done, it's not overwhelming.

I started my second 2nd Dublin Bay sock. I do love the Cherry Tree Hill yarn but ... would you believe that right as I got to the end of my 2 inch 1x1 ribbing I found a knot! I can not even believe that I found yet another knot in a different skein of Cherry Tree Hill yarn. I'm continuing on but this will be the end of Cherry Tree Hill for me if I find another knot.

I received one of my Christmas presents early. My mil is not up to shopping this year and asked us for ideas for places we'd like gift certificates to. I told my dh that I could suggest a couple of online and local yarn places for my gift certificate. Instead, with the stipulation that ALL the money be spent on me and that none is put toward bills or the boys, my mil sent me $300 to spend on yarn!! I'm looking to make a couple of biggish purchases soon so that the money is spent as intended. As I don't knit big items, I don't spend oodles of money on my projects. I'm thinking this money could go pretty far. I'm also thinking that I need to buy something practical like a new pair of boots so I can continue my walking this winter. I'm feeling pretty blessed and lucky.

I'd love some suggestions for yarn or books or other knitty things that I just need to have or try. I know that The Loopy Ewe will be getting some of my business. Sheri is just wonderful - every store owner should be just like her - and I want to reward her amazing customer service with repeat business. I'm thinking I should try some Sweet Georgia or Yarn Pirate (or both). I also know that I can't resist the yarn sale at yarn4socks because they have the J. Knits yarn I was raving about the other day as well as a great selection of Lorna's Laces and all the yarn will be at least 20% off starting tomorrow.

It feels weird to be doing this much shopping for myself but I made a promise.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Two wonderful discoveries

I made two amazing discoveries today.

The first is a new yarn.

While shopping at a LYS today I stumbled across a new yarn. The yarn is made by a localish company J. Knits. The yarn I bought is superwash sock yarn in the color Boston. The yardage is great at 420 yards to the hank but the price is a little steep at $26. With my big feet I'm always happy for big yardage. The yarn is very soft and I like the 25% nylon. The dye is great with lots of variation in color while still being almost solid. I love all the hand dyed sock yarns available but I'm hankering for some solidish yarn for cable patterns.

The second discovery is related to photography.

Taking photos in my Colonial during the winter months is tricky. In fact, even getting good outside photos is difficult because capturing the sun seems to be impossible. Tonight I realized that the best lighting in my house is in my bathroom on my counter. The photo I took of my new yarn is awfully close to the real thing. I'm just thrilled to have discovered a place I can take photos this winter. Of course, I'll still try to get the wonderful natural light of the outdoors but this is going to work for me.

In knitting news ...
Today I finished knitting my second First Toe Up Trekking sock. I just need to bind off and the pair will be finished. I'm anxious to wash them and hope the yarn softens up quite a bit.

While at the LYS, I used their swift and winder to wind my new yarn as well as my new hank of Cherry Tree Hill for the second Dublin Bay sock. I need to get the original second sock off the needles and mail it to the store so they can send it on to Cherry Tree Hill to examine all the knots and then I just need to take a deep breath and cast on again for the new second Dublin Bay sock. I really do love the yarn and the pattern and can't wait to wear these socks.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Closing in on Christmas

Not much knitting going on so I figured I'd update with a picture of Lucy.

I had a busy weekend trying to get all the last things ready for Christmas. There was shopping to do and goodies to make. Unfortunately, there was also an oldest child who needed to be driven to social events. My entire day on Sunday was lost as I drove my oldest where he needed to be. I was happy to do this for him and was glad that he was having such a nice day but it was exhausting and took up valuable time that I really didn't have. We saw Eragon together. I liked the movie (because I don't remember books after I've read them). He didn't like it too much because it deviated so much from the book.

I still have a couple of Christmas presents left to buy and was very sad last night when I found out that none of the bookstores in the state have a book I wanted to buy for my youngest. I still have a couple of independent bookstores to try but a nice lady at Borders last night called all the Borders and Barnes and Nobles for me. Today I need to finish the Sugared Almonds and Chocolate Walnut Fudge because my husband's brother will be stopping by briefly tomorrow and will take our gifts back with him to Connecticut to family there.

I feel this way every year without fail. I get the vast majority of my shopping done and the last few details drive me crazy. I struggle with finding the last few gifts, cooking the last minute things, and making sure that everything seems "even" for the boys. I just want everyone to be happy and for Christmas to seem magical. I still can not believe that Christmas is less than a week away.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Houston, we have a problem

You all know how much I've loved working on the Dublin Bay socks. I think the pattern is perfect for hand dyed yarns that would get lost in most patterns and I love the sproingy Cherry Tree Hill yarn. Sadly, the second sock has not been going as well as the first. I ran into two knots in the yarn while knitting the ribbing and then ran into a third knot right before the heel. I decided to contact the folks at Cherry Tree Hill to see if this is normal for their yarn to have this many knots or if this was simply a case of poor quality control.

I spoke to Cheryl at Cherry Tree Hill and she assured me that this is not normal for her yarn and suggested I contact the store where I bought the yarn for a credit. I bought this yarn back in September from Ewe'll Love It and raved about the store. The owner, Beverly, is very nice and has proved to be very accomodating as well. I explained to Beverly that I really wanted to finish the sock with the yarn I had but that I was frustrated and wasn't sure that I'd buy Cherry Tree Hill yarn again. Beverly also assured me that this was not typical for Cherry Tree Hill and said she'd send me a new hank in a different colorway.

Last night I returned to the sock only to find knot number 4 as I started the gusset! Sheesh! Enough's enough. I finally decided to rewind the yarn to see if there were any more knots and found a 5th knot a few yards from the end. I spoke to Beverly again and this time we agreed that I'd give her my second "damaged" sock and, in addition to the yarn she had already sent, she'd give me another hank of Tropical Storm so I can make my second Dublin Bay sock.

My first hank arrived today - about 24 hours since I first spoke with Beverly. Beverly had picked it out for me. It is one of the potluck colors and is mostly green with some blue hints. I never, ever buy green yarn but this is beautiful and I just need to find a pattern for it. The color is almost solid so it would work well with any sock pattern.

I feel like I've lost my knitting mojo a little. I was SO looking forward to wearing those Dublin Bays and I felt like I was SO close to a pair. I'm very grateful for people like Beverly and Cheryl (from Cherry Tree Hill) who care about their products and customers. I will definitely do more business with Beverly and if you're ever in the area you MUST stop by her shop. It is the nicest yarn shop I've ever been in. As for Cherry Tree Hill ... I'm anxious to give it another shot. I really hope that I have better luck because I really, really like this yarn.

For now, I'm forcing myself to work on my second First Toe Up Trekking sock. I should also force myself to finish my Irish Hiking Scarf before casting on for any new projects. I only have about 5 inches left on the scarf and could finish that very quickly.

This weekend I need to make a large batch of Sugared Almonds and Chocolate Walnut Fudge to send to my inlaws for Christmas. They are not going to be able to make it for Christmas this year and I want to get their package finished by Monday.

I can not believe that Christmas is 10 days away.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Busy Baking

Yesterday turned out to be even more full of baking than I had anticipated. I decided to make the Holiday Poppy Seed Cookies from Old Fashioned Country Cookies by Gooseberry Patch. I've been making these cookies for years and they always look nice and a little different for a cookie swap. While they were cooling I thought I should make some cookies for the boys because there were no extra poppy seed cookies. I decided to try a new recipe and made the Tender Toffee-Chocolate Rounds from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion (which is slowly but surely becoming my cookie bible). The cookies are amazing - filled with bittersweet chocolate, toffee bits and only 1/4 cup of flour. Yummo!! Unfortunately, the chocolate was too dark for the boys and one by one they said they didn't really like them. They made a nice treat for the oldest son's piano teacher. I know from experience that she loves chocolate.

This seemed like a good time to switch gears so I whipped up a batch of banana bread because I had bananas just sitting there begging to be used. I have a trusty recipe that I've been using for years by Mollie Katzen. Originally I cut it out of a Family Fun magazine many years ago. It is also reprinted in my copy of Disney's Family Cookbook published by Family Fun magazine. While I was making the banana bread my middle son decided he really needed to bake something too. I didn't know he was in the other room pouring through our children's cookbook. By this time I was really done baking but he was very persuasive and convinced me we needed to make just one more thing. So right before I had to leave for my cookie swap party we made the Chocolate Pudding Cake from New Junior Cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens. We'd never made this recipe before but it was super easy and very delicious (I had a bite or two before I scooted out the door). Best of all it is made with ingredients that are always on hand.

I'm now baked out for a couple of days. Or at least until tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Bright sunny morning

We don't get a lot of natural sunlight in my house so it's difficult to take photos inside. This morning as I sat on the living room sofa knitting my Dublin Bay sock and drinking my Tazo Awake tea a beam of sunlight came through the bay window behind me and illuminated the Christmas tree. I was able to take this photo of three of my favorite ornaments. On the left is one of my glass candy ornaments which I love because they were the first glass ornaments I dared to buy after I had children. In the middle is a crocheted snowflake that my Nana made for me. I have a few of these crocheted snowflakes ranging in size and pattern and I love the way the look on the tree. To the right is a snowman made by my friend, Kristen, that she sold a craft fair that we had at my house a few years ago. She drove over 45 minutes in a blizzard and then had to help my husband shovel the driveway to get into my house. We had very few customers because of the storm but we had a great day and I have this ornament to remember it by.

Here you'll see the progress I've made on my second Dublin Bay sock. Do you notice all the yarn ends coming out of the sock? That's because I found TWO knots in the yarn since I started the second sock. I'm not happy. I hope this isn't typical for Cherry Tree Hill yarn because I do love the yarn but I'm very unhappy with the knot situation. I had the hank wound for me when I bought the yarn so I had no idea they were there.

Today needs to be a day of baking. I have a cookie swap tonight and still have not completely decided what cookie I plan to bake. I'm probably going to bring my Poppyseed Holiday Cookies but I can't commit. I'll post a recipe later.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care

Christmas stockings

The Christmas stockings are now officially hung. My middle son is a stickler for tradition and he just could not wait to hang our stockings. You may notice that there are only 4 stockings instead of 5. Look more carefully. Behind the stocking on the left there is a second stocking. That is because I found our stocking hangers at Goodwill for 89 cents a piece and I've always been too cheap to find another hanger that would match. So my husband and I share a hanger. Someday I really should break down and buy a fifth hanger.

Some of you may recall that these stockings were the very first items I ever learned how to knit. I talked about it back in October. I'm always amazed when I take them out every year and remember my friend who taught me to knit and kept telling me I had "potential". I didn't know anything about knitting so when she told me I could knit a Christmas stocking for my first sock, I believed her.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

First Dublin Bay sock finished

It's 27 degrees outside and the ground is covered with snow so no outside photography for me today. Sadly, my house gets very little natural light which is what is really needed to show off this wonderful yarn. Nevertheless, I present my first Dublin Bay sock in Cherry Tree Hill yarn in the colorway Tropical Storm. In the background you can see the feet of Odysseus who is trying to decide if he really wants to go out in the snow.

I love every single thing about this sock. The yarn is wonderful - very sproingy with an almost elastic feel to it which makes it fit around the leg and foot wonderful. The pattern was very nice also. I did make a few modifications - I used 64 stitches instead of 72. 72 stitches would have been much too big for me. I then adjusted the pattern accordingly. I also added 4 rows of plain stockinette after before the heel. This made it better when it came time to pick up the gusset stitches and allowed me to pick up in the corner as I usually do without running into a lace pattern. I also did not make an Eye of Partridge Heel because I didn't think it would show up in this very dark yarn.

Finally, here's a picture of middle son and Lucy.

Friday, December 08, 2006

More baking

Progress on the Dublin Bay sock has slowed to a crawl. I'm still loving everything about it but it's taken a back seat to life. I've had some unexpected appointments this week which have taken me out of the house on days that I'm usually able to stay home. Although I don't believe in chiropractors (I mean I know they exist but I don't want to see one myself), I was forced to call one this week after a 10 day headache refused to go away. The CAT scan confirmed I don't have a brain tumor (not that I was worried about it) and the medication the doctor gave me didn't do a thing. My first visit to the chiropractor was very painful and made me feel miserable all day yesterday but my headache is gone! I went back today and will go a couple more times next week. I feel almost human again.

I spent a huge part of the day today baking. I'm trying to find the perfect recipe to use my Trader Joe's UFOs in. UFOs are chocolate mint wafers that are YUMMY! Today I baked a basic sugar cookie, placed a UFO on top when they came out of the oven, waited for the chocolate to soften and then spread it over the top of the cookie. The boys loved them but my husband wasn't too impressed. I think the sugar cookies are too crisp and not exactly what I'm looking for with the UFOs. I'll continue to search for the perfect recipe.

While I was baking anyway I made a wonderful batch of Molasses Cookies. They are wonderful little circles of crunchy goodness - perfect to have with tea or cocoa. I have LOTS of flour and butter, plenty of chocolate and oodles of other baking supplies. I have a cookie swap to go to on Tuesday and need to decide what kind of cookie to make. There are just so many wonderful choices.

Tonight I went out Christmas shopping with my 12 year old son. It wasn't pretty. The other boys had a great time when I brought them shopping but the 12 year old is just getting a bit too big for his britches right now and he's difficult to spend time with. He found nice gifts for both brothers and his father. I even managed to buy a couple of gifts for him while he was otherwise occupied. All in all, it was a successful evening.

I spent some time on the Dublin Bay sock and it's almost to the toe decreases. Stay tuned for a picture very soon.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Baby it's cold outside

I'm trying hard to stay motivated but it's really hard to want to go outside to walk in the morning when it's 22 degrees. I am grateful for my neighbor and walking buddy because without her I'd stay in my warm cozy house and just knit away. It's nice to be home again but I'm very glad that I got my 4 mile walk done. Yeah me!!

I'm working my way down the gusset on the Cherry Tree Hill sock. I wish I could just sit down and knit away but I have children who need schooling, housework to do, a family to feed, and places that the same children need to be driven to. I'm very sad that I'll be out of the house all afternoon and far away from my knitting. Tonight, however, all the boys will be gone and I'll have the house to myself. This may be my favorite sock I've ever knit.

And now, kitty pr0n

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Risking frostbite

I really wanted to get a good picture of both the pattern and the yarn so I risked below freezing weather this morning to sit outside in the little patch of sun I could find to take this picture. This yarn is SO pretty but the colors are very hard to capture. This picture is very close to the real colors.

I've never knit with any yarn like Cherry Tree Hill before. I don't know anything about how yarn is spun or plied or how this yarn is so sproingy but it's much different than any yarn I've knit with before. It has a lot of elasticity which makes it perfect for socks. When this yarn chose me I didn't have an idea for a pattern. The yarn is very dark and most patterns wouldn't show up in it. I wanted to showcase the yarn and a plain vanilla sock wouldn't have done that. I like how the lace panels in this Dublin Bay pattern show off the yarn. I'm also happy with how quickly this sock is knitting up. The yarn is somewhat thicker than other sock yarns I've used - I'll be at the heel very soon.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Busy weekend

We had one of those busy, productive weekends. On Saturday I made a batch of peanut butter chocolate chip cookies to send with my oldest son on his camping trip. Teenaged boys ALWAYS appreciate homemade cookies. We kept a few out to fill a bag for our neighbors who gave us Lucy. Later in the day the boys and I made our first batch of gingerbread cookies. I love gingerbread cookies but I'm not the best at rolling out dough so I don't make a lot of cut out cookies. Gingerbread cookies, however, are a tradition and my middle son is a stickler for tradition. Jeff and the middle son also went out to cut down the tree that we tagged in November.

On Sunday we needed to pick up the oldest boy from his camping trip, get him home to shower and drive him to Youth Group. We also picked up Lucy from the neighbors so she can live at our house now. While oldest boy was at Youth Group I did grocery shopping - following sales and coupons at two different stores. After Youth Group and grocery shopping we came home for dinner and decorated our tree. I love decorating the tree. As we go through the ornaments the boys pick out their special ones - the Lenox rocking horses they got from their aunt the year they were born, First Christmas ornaments, silly ornaments from Mimi (like the police car with a siren that works), and ornaments they made. I also tell them who gave us particular ornaments or when we got them - though by now they know most of this and may tell me first. Our tree will never make any decorating magazines but I love it and all the memories it holds.

On Saturday I was determined to do the short row heel on my second First Toe Up Trekking sock. It took me three tries. I got the rhythm and really understood it on the second try but I dropped a stitch almost at the end and had no idea how to pick it back up because of the wraps. I couldn't fix it so it looked okay so I frogged. Again. I got the heel done on the third try and then knit a few rows of the leg. I'm not enamored of the short row heel. I can't say I like the way it looks. At some point I need to find a real live person who can sit with me while I knit one to point out a better way to do things (my LYS owner was very, very helpful but she doesn't knit socks and had never done a short row heel before). Until then, I'm sticking with my regular cuff down socks.

To reward myself for all that hard work, I cast on for a pair of Dublin Bay socks. The yarn is Cherry Tree Hill in a colorway called Tropical Storm. This is my first time using Cherry Tree Hill yarn. It's wonderful! The yarn is very sproingy and soft. It's going to make wonderful socks. It was impossible to get good lighting this weekend but I tried anyway. I've got the cuff almost done - even doing the k1p1 ribbing called for in the pattern because I like the way it flows into the lace. I'm going to have to force myself to finish that second Trekking sock.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Meet Lucy

Meet Lucy.
Lucy is the newest member of our family. She joins our two other cats Odysseus and Mason. Lucy is 8 weeks old. She came to live with us today. She's pretty scared and is hiding behind the big, red couch in the living room right now. She belongs to my youngest son and now we have a cat for every boy.

Aren't they adorable?

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Origami Day

I am a woman of few talents but my boys (well, the younger ones at least) think I'm a genius. Last night, while searching the bookshelves for a book on juggling (which I know must be in this house somewhere), I found this Fun with Easy Origami book. While watching part of the Heroes marathon I tried a few of the easier of the easy origami shapes and made a cat, a penguin, and a pinwheel. The boys found the shapes this morning and asked for more. I've now added a dog, a rabbit, a horse and a pigeon to our origami menagerie. I failed at the frog and the star (obviously, not so easy Easy Origami).

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I love blogland

I love blogland. It is amazing how blogs can connect people all over the world who share similar interests. It's made knitting a very different experience for me now than it was when I started. Way back then I joined a local knitting guild which was an amazing group of women. Here I was, a new mom in my late 20's, surrounded by women at least 40 years older than me and often even older than that. They loved my babies as they were born and they welcomed me with open arms.

I don't know any real life knitters anymore. Oh, of course I know people who knit, but I don't know any KNITTERS. I'm not connected with any knitting groups. For me, blogland is all the support I get. I appreciate each and every person who visits my blog and especially appreciate comments with praise and suggestions.

I'm very thankful for the praise on my baby hat. I love that little hat. The yarn is scrumptious and I think the pattern is adorable. When I brought it to book group yesterday to show off one of the women, who happens to knit, said how much she liked the hat - even asked if she could have the pattern for her soon to be born granddaughter - and then asked if I had a pattern for a "boy hat". Huh? I told her that I was giving this as a gift to a woman who does not know the sex of her unborn baby and that I'd definitely put this hat on my boys' heads. She just made a face at me and said it was not a boy's hat.

All your comments made me feel much better. Thank you blogland friends.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Instant Gratification

One skein baby hat

I've been wanting to knit this baby hat from One Skein since the book entered my hands. When I found out on Friday night that the wives of two old friends are expecting babies, I was so excited. Yesterday, I tried a new LYS in search of yarn. The Classic Elite Lush called for in the pattern is beautiful but I wasn't inspired by any of the colors. Instead, I chose another Classic Elite yarn called Princess. Oh. My. Yarn. Goodness. This yarn is so unbelievably soft. It's a merino, rayon, cashmere, nylon, angora blend that is perfect for a baby's head.

I started the hat last night and finished it this morning. I haven't had instant knitting gratification like that in a long time. I think it's absolutely adorable and I'm going to get it packed up to send to the mama to be right away as her due date is December 12.

On the non-knitting front, I've made some brownies (from a box) and Rice Krispies Treats for the Tree Lighting tonight. The brownies were free (using coupons and the Grocery Game) and the Rice Krispies treats were made because my husband found a stash of marshmallows in my baking cabinets when he cleaned them out this weekend. Apparently, I always think we need marshmallows for s'mores whenever we have a fire so I buy a bag each time. There's only so many marshmallows one house needs. So brownies and Rice Kripies treats for the Christmas Tree lighting - it may not be gourmet but the kids will love them.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Raspberry Mocha Socks Finished

I finished my Raspberry Mocha socks this morning. I everything about them. The Seacoast Handpainted yarn is super yummy and was a dream to knit with. The Guernsey pattern was easy and fun to follow. I think the pattern would work better with a solid color yarn but the yarn I used is very similar to the yarn used in the picture with the pattern. The only pooling occurred on the instep - big splashes of raspberry. Once I got down to a smaller number of stitches again the pooling stopped.

I have a TON of yarn left over. In fact, I'm sure that someone with more normal sized feet could get two pairs of socks out of a skein of this yarn. I'll have to do something with all this leftover yarn. I can't exactly make socks for any of the boys with it - they don't really like pink. I'm open to suggestions.

Here's a close up of the sock. You can't really see the pattern well but you can tell there's a pattern there.

Closeup  Raspberry Mocha

If I were good, I'd finish my Irish Hiking Scarf now which only needs about 5 more inches. I could cast on for my second First Toe Up sock. I could even, if I were very, very good, finish the Christmas Stocking I've been working on for years (and which I detest working on). The truth is, however, that I feel some yarn calling to me from my stash. I think it's a pair of Dublin Bay socks next.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I'm so very thankful

It may be trite to blog on Thanksgiving evening but I can't help a short post. I love every thing about Thanksgiving - the food, the Macy's parade, football, time with family, the food. I am by nature a very grateful person. I look around me every day and am amazed at all I have to be thankful for. But on Thanksgiving, it's nice to be reminded to be thankful.
We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. It was my husband, my boys, my sister and her children, and me. I cooked all the standard fare - turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, rolls, corn and apple pie. Everything was delicious, cooked on time and was hassle free. The children all enjoyed their food and everyone was polite and got along. Ahhh ...

After dinner and after my husband had done the dishes and our company had left, I sat by the fire in the family room, alone, and knitted. It was wonderful.

For these and many more things I am thankful this year:

  1. My family. I couldn't ask for a better husband or sweeter children. I love them all.
  2. My health. It may not be perfect but it could be much, much worse.
  3. My home. I love my home, my town, my neighborhood. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else in the entire world.
  4. Good friends.
  5. Wonderful people like coaches, teachers, mentors and leaders in my boys' lives. It's not possible to raise good children all alone.
  6. Getting my knitting mojo back. I've missed it.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Still here

Baseball season is better for knitting.

I haven't meant to be absent; I've just been doing the Mom thing. November has been a busy Scout month for the boys. We had Veteran's Day, the Spaghetti Dinner, and Scouting for Food as well as our regular weekly meetings. My oldest son has had patrol events on two weekends this month and Troop events on the others. This weekend we have our town Christmas tree lighting which is done by the Scouts. It's been busy. Scouts requires me to be a participant, or at the very least a driver. Not much knitting time thrown in there.

I'm still knitting away on my Raspberry Mocha sock. I'm on the foot now so it shouldn't be too much longer. I LOVE these socks and the yarn. I can't wait to wear them. Right now this sock is the only thing I'm knitting. I've got my Irish Hiking Scarf to finish - only 5 inches or so left. I've also got the second toe up Trekking sock to get on the needles but I don't have any desire to start it except that I'd like to have a pair of socks.

I stopped by an A.C. Moore today while I was out running errands (45 minutes from home) because I heard they were discounting their nicer, high end yarn. I found some beautiful yarn there but I couldn't figure out what to do with it so it stayed there. The magazine picture above, however, came home with me. Oh. My. Goodness. If you get a chance to purchase this magazine, please do so. Every single recipe looks like it's to die for. I can't wait to make one.

Friday, November 17, 2006

When it rains ...

See that tire? That's the front tire on my van. As I was leaving this morning to take the two youngest boys to the dentist I could feel something "funny" with the van. When I got out of the van, this is the sight that awaited me. I absolutely, totally forgot about their dental appointments last week which did not please the office one bit. This was the rescheduled appointment. Thankfully, they took the flat tire news well and we're rescheduled again for a couple of weeks from now.

So. Now I'm home for the day with no chance of going anywhere. I love being home but I don't love being stuck at home. I will shame-facedly admit that I don't have the foggiest idea how to change my own flat tire and so I will have to wait until my lovely husband comes home from work to rescue me.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I promise not to bore you to tears with stories of my medical woes but things could be better right now. Almost one year ago, I had a total thyroidectomy to treat Graves' Disease. The surgery was a success and I feel much better now than I did before my surgery. Unfortunately, I'm still not able to remain at any stable levels for very long and need constant monitoring and medication adjustments. Finding a doctor or doctors who are willing to really listen and try to understand my symptoms is proving to be impossible. I have lost my faith in the medical system.

Yesterday I had a full blown anxiety attack. It was terrible. I knew what it was and didn't think I was having a heart attack (as many do) but it didn't make me feel any better. I took some medication and went to bed early and woke up feeling much better. Still, I can feel an underlying anxiety what won't go away. I know I'll need to call the doctor but, frankly, I don't see the point.

Today I'm treating myself with knitting and baking. I was a good girl and went out for my usual 4 mile walk this morning. I also did the regular stuff around here - schoolwork with the boys, laundry, cooking, dishes. But the rest of the time I knitted or baked. I'm moving along on my second Raspberry Mocha sock. I love patterned socks because it's easier to measure progress.

This afternoon, Jared and I baked Chocolate Crinkles. Mmmmm! After dinner I baked regular old Peanut Butter Cookies. Both recipes came from The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. We'll have to see how many recipes I make out of that book this year. In the last week alone, I've made 4 different recipes. More are sure to follow.

Monday, November 13, 2006

First Raspberry Mocha Sock Finished


I could have finished my sock this weekend but that would have meant there would have been so many other things I couldn't have done. It's all about priorities. Saturday was a beautiful day and we went as a family to tag our Christmas tree. Here's our tree in it's natural state. It will look a lot different in a few weeks.

On Sunday, I taught my girlfriend, Claudia, to knit. I've been putting this off for years. I love Claudia and I think she's an amazing woman but I never saw her as a knitter. She has decided, however, that she wants to knit a scarf for her elderly father for Christmas. She bought some wonderful wool/alpaca yarn and Brittany needles at a local yarn shop and I provided the instruction. She was a great student and I have all the faith in the world that she'll become a good knitter (or at least finish this scarf).

So I could have finished my scarf on Sunday but I helped bring another knitter into the world.

Today was filled with dentist appointments and shopping with the boys for new sneakers and boots (ugh, I'd rather be at the dentist than the mall with the boys). Finally, I came home to my almost finished sock and kitchenered the toe. The weather is not great for photography right now and I really wanted to capture this yarn and pattern but this photo will have to do for now.

Here's a close up of the Eye of Partridge heel. This wasn't the heel called for in the pattern but I think it looks nice with both the pattern and yarn.

I decided to knit the foot of the sock plain because I didn't really care for the arrow part of the pattern. I'm not very fond of patterned legs and plain feet but I think it looks fine on this sock. The Seacoast Handpaints was a dream to knit with. It is sooo soft and cushy, not at all splitty. I can't wait to cast on for the second sock tonight.

At some point, I'll have to get that second Trekking sock started too. I just need a push.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Raspberry Mocha Parfait

I love food. I love food more than I love knitting. This time of year is dangerous for a foodie. Everywhere I go I see wonderful holiday cooking magazines calling my name. I know most of them have recycled recipes and ideas from years past but I can't help myself. I know that I probably won't make more than one recipe from any magazine but I still can't help myself.

I spent yesterday baking. Cub Scouts had their spaghetti dinner tonight and parents were asked to provide dessert. Because I have two cubs in the Pack I figured I ought to make two desserts. Both treats came from the The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion. I made Cafe Au Lait bars and Fudgy Peanut Butter Squares. Mmmmm ... my whole house smelled delicious. I was very, very good and sent them all off to the dinner.

I didn't get to go to the spaghetti dinner because my youngest came down with the chicken pox on Wednesday. He's looking pretty pocky by now but, thankfully, feels fine. He's itchy but otherwise feels okay. He was sad to miss the dinner so I took him to Wendy's drive thru. We sat in the van and ate our dinner together. After we ate he told me what a great night he had eating dinner, just the two of us, in the van. I love that kid. On the way home, we saw the Big Dipper just looming in front of us. I had a great date.

Still at work on my first Raspberry Mocha sock. I'm hoping to finish it by the end of the weekend. Until then, I leave you with this recipe by Emeril for Raspberry Mocha Parfait.

Raspberry Mocha Parfait

# 2 cups whole milk
# 1/2 cup sugar
# 4 large egg yolks
# 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
# 2 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
# 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
# 1 pint fresh raspberries, wiped clean
# Sweetened whipped cream


1. In a medium, heavy saucepan, combine the milk and sugar. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and cornstarch until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Slowly add 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture to the egg yolks, whisking constantly until smooth. Add the egg yolk mixture to the pan of hot milk and whisk to combine. Add the espresso powder and whisk to combine. Return to medium heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heavy wooden spoon until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes.

3. Remove from the heat. Add the chocolate pieces, let sit for 2 minutes, then stir to melt. Strain into a clean container. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing down against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and ready to use.

4. To assemble, spoon a portion of the chocolate pastry cream into the bottom of 4 parfait glasses or large, tall wine glasses. Arrange a layer of berries over the cream, and repeat layering, ending with berries on top. Top each with a large dollop of whipped cream. Refrigerate until chilled, 1 to 2 hours.

Yield: Makes 4 servings

Recipe courtesy of chef Emeril Lagasse, Copyright © 2003

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

First toe up

My first toe up sock is done. Here are my thoughts:
1. I used the Easy Toe from Sensational Knitted Socks and while it was a bit fiddly it wasn't at all difficult. I do like how the smooth, unkitchenered toe looks and feels. I also like how the toe somehow seems more rounded than my usual toe even though I use the same formula for decreasing.

2. It was easy to knit the sock until the ankle bone which turned out to be the perfect place to put the heel.

3. Doing the heel was terrible. It took me a million tries and a trip to my LYS to get it right. It seems like an awful lot of work and there was no way I could have put it down in the middle and come back to it later. It's just not always possible in a house with three boys to have that chunk of uninterupted time to knit. I think I like the way it feels but I'm not sure yet.

4. I like the way the sock folds all flat. Cute.

5. I used the Russian Bind Off for the cuff of my sock. The bind off was easy enough - though I'm not really sure if I did it properly. I detest tightness at the top of my socks. This bind off came out nice and loose but also somewhat messy. It's fine but it doesn't look very neat or crisp. It also gave a teeny flair to the top of the sock which I can live with but prefer wasn't there.

This experience most certainly did not sell me on toe up socks. I will definitely finish the second sock the same way as the first and we'll see if I feel differently at the end but I'm betting that I don't. Cuff down works well for me and unless there's a really, really good reason to change my method I think I'll stick with it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

I voted

I voted this morning. It was simple and painless. I even volunteered to count ballots tonight. In a small town with paper ballots, the ballots are still counted one by one by simple people like me.

Please vote. Every voice matters.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Monogamy is boring

I really love my Trekking sock. The yarn is beautiful and now that I'm past that pesky heel the sock is coming along quite nicely. The thing is ... it's boring. It's perfect for being out and about but I like something with a little more of a challenge when I'm home.

I pulled this pattern out of my stash. It's by Country Trunk and is called Guernsey Style Sock. I used it ages ago with a sportweight (or is dk weight?) Silja. Now I'm making it with some absolutely scrumptious yarn out out by Seacoast Handpainted Yarns in a colorway called Raspberry Mocha. I bought this a little while ago at a terrific yarn store while I was visiting my grandmother.

I had to tweak things a bit because while I could get the recommended gauge of 7 spi on size 2 US needles, this just made the sock too big and flimsy. I went down to my usual size 1s and kept the stitches the same and the sock is coming out great.

Tomorrow I'm heading up to the King Arthur Flour store. It's kind of like baking p*rn. The store is just so wonderful for those of us who love to bake. I'm not sure what I'm buying even though I keep meaning to make a list but I do know that I'm sure to find many, many things that I need.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Socktoberfest is officially over

So, it's officially over. For those of us who are ardent sock knitters not much will change. I loved Socktoberfest, however, for the focus on sock knitting. I set some goals for my sock knitting for Socktoberfest and met them all.

  • I knit with yarns exclusively from my stash. It would have been very easy to get carried away during Socktoberfest and to have ordered TONS of new sock yarn but I did not buy one single new skein of yarn. I did have the luxury of receiving some wonderful Lorna's Laces in a swap and I knit with that but it did spend a tiny bit of time with my stash.
chocolate swap package

  • I knit a new pattern from an old book. I've owned Socks Soar on Two Circulars for many years but only used the book to teach me how to knit on two circs. I've never used a pattern from the book before. I used my new Lorna's Laces to make the Columbine Peaks pattern from the book and it came out wonderfully.
Columbine Peak

  • I tried a new technique - toe up socks. I got the toes done without a hitch but the short row heels almost did me in. I've got the heel done on the first sock and I'm knitting my way up the leg. I'm not sure if I'll ever try it again (except for the second sock) but I did try something new.
Toe ups with heel

  • I finished my Jaywalker's second sock. I'm not thrilled with the pattern. I don't care for the inflexible feel of the sock but they're done and once they were washed I liked them more. I don't think I'll ever make another pair.

I was also blessed during this time to be the winner of a drawing from an exchange. I was able to purchase yarn from a new to me shop, The Loopy Ewe. The customer service from the owner has been absolutely wonderful and I can't wait to receive my new yarn.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

My 12 year old son has learned his pumpkin carving skills from his very talented father. Gone are the days of triangle eyes and a one toothed mouth.

The boys all went out trick or treating last night while I stayed in the nice warm house to pass out candy. We had about 150 trick or treaters come to the door. I was glad to have an easy sock on the needles so I could knit while I waited for the doorbell.

Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Read all about it

Toe ups with heel

Do you see that? Huh? Do you?
That's the heel on my toe up Trekking sock. Yup. It only took 4 froggings, almost 24 hours, uncounted tutorials, and FINALLY a trip to my LYS in typhoonish weather to get it right. It's still not perfect and I'm not sure exactly what I was doing wrong. I think the problem was that I was actually doing the short rows a stitch too early as I seem to have a hard time understanding on which stitch to work the magic. Next sock I'll use markers or counters or something but I just know it will work out fine.

I do love the way it feels and now comes the easy part. We'll see how the bind off goes as I can not STAND a tight bind off.

In other news ...

I finished my Jaywalkers. I like the way they look and the pattern was very, very easy to memorize. I just don't like the way they feel. The bias stitch gives the sock very little give and my tight gauge makes them feel awfully stiff. They're in the wash now and I'll see if a good wash changes my opinion. Although I really do like the way the pattern looks, I don't see me knitting this pattern again anytime soon.