Tuesday, January 29, 2008

B is for Balance


I've been giving a lot of thought to balance. I think it's one of the most important things in life. Balance. Moderation. They're not exciting or passionate words it's true but life without them is like a roller coaster ride. I know that I'm not alone in my quest for balance.

In January of every year you will find hundreds of blog entries or Ravelry threads about yarn diets and food diets. I've never been one to diet, as I've said many times, because the sheer act of dieting causes rebellion to well up in me. Instead, I strive for more balance. I can't say that I won't buy more yarn or, more positively, that I'll only knit from my stash because that starts feelings of deprivation in me and I begin to crave yarn. I'm not, however, one of those who can collect yarn in ever increasing numbers without feeling badly. I'm reminded of how much promise each yarn held when I purchased it and I feel badly that I'm not knitting with the yarns I love sitting right in my closet.

This year I joined two sock clubs which should keep me sufficiently supplied with sock yarn for the year but I still pine for new yarns. I don't jump on every band wagon - you certainly won't see me buy any of the new Noro sock yarn after all the terrible reviews I've read - but sometimes a new yarn calls to me. Last night I ran across one of these yarns. Ivy Brambles is a beautiful looking sock yarn carried by the Yarn and Fiber Company. If you don't know Yarn and Fiber yet you should check them out - they have good prices and free shipping. Anyway, what drew me to this yarn was that I'd never heard of it before and when I checked Ravelry only one other person had knit with it. I slept on the decision over night and I'm still wanting the yarn but haven't yet purchased it.

Instead, I'm sitting here with the still life in the photograph above. I'm already struggling with balance today. I've got the beautiful Brigit which is calling my name loudly, World Without End which is calling almost as loudly, the loved and dreaded laptop which brings the internet right to my lap, and then, sadly, the all too real demands of my boys and household. So I knit some, read some, do a chore or two, attend to the boys. In between my mind wanders to the promise of new yarn.

For all those who have sent us good thoughts and prayers, thank you. Adam's surgery went very well yesterday. Can you believe that from the moment he entered surgery to the moment we left the hospital was 2.5 hours? He's home resting comfortably. We won't know the outcome of the surgery for many weeks but it's out of our hands now - we've done all we can to promote the healing of this bone.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Knitting and Reading

packed bag

My bag is packed and I'm ready to go. Adam is scheduled for surgery tomorrow morning at 8:00. We need to be at the hospital at 6:30. It's bound to be a long day with lots of waiting. My goal was to get the Madder Ribbed socks to the gusset so I could have some mindless knitting to do at the hospital. I've got it all packed away in my favorite little project bag. It will keep me company tomorrow.

Brigit 1

As soon as I got the Madder Ribbed sock where I needed it to be, I abandoned it for Brigit. I think I made a great choice with this pattern. It's such a nice pattern but I don't care for the yarn used in the pattern picture. I think Brigit looks beautiful in this Zen Yarn Garden. I'm loving both yarn and pattern. I even learned to cable without a needle to handle all these little tiny one stitch cables. Dropping the stitch off the needle and leaving it hanging there doesn't work for me but knitting into the second stitch or rearranging the stitches works wonderfully. It's great to be able to knit just with my regular Knit Picks circs and not have to deal with a cable needle.

I hated to put the sock down today but all that cabling tends to hurt my wrists and I don't want a knitting injury right now. Besides, I'm reading World Without End and I don't want to put it down either. I pretty much spent the day reading, knitting and tending the fire. I managed to get a modicum of housework done and made 3 pounds of meatballs but mostly I enjoyed the quiet and solitude while Mr. Baseball and the older boys were on the slopes.

Please keep us in your thoughts tomorrow. I'll check in if I can.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Baby it's cold outside


I've heard that the Eskimos have many words for snow. Unfortunately, the English language is not terribly expressive or precise. What I want is a word to tell you how very cold it is outside. It is so cold that it hurts. So cold that it takes forever to warm up even when you come inside and sit by the wood stove. So cold that my eyes watered as soon as I stepped outside this morning for my walk. Freaking cold - that's what it is.

We planted this bulb a few days before Thanksgiving but it took this long to bloom because our windowsills are all so cold. I kept this Amaryllis on the windowsill above the kitchen sink for the past two months and enjoyed watching it slowly grow and open. We've moved it to the family room now where we all enjoy it's flowery show.

Zen Yarn Garden Harmony January

I got my first installment of the Zen Yarn Garden Harmony Semi Solid Sock Club. I've misplaced the ball band so I can't tell you the exact composition of the fiber but I know it's bamboo and merino. It's a huge hank of over 400 yards and it's soft and silky feeling. The color is named Down by the Bay and it has a watery blue/green/gray tone that is impossible to capture well on camera.

Brigit beginning

The difficult part is deciding what pattern to use with this beautiful yarn. I scoured my library of sock books but didn't find anything that grabbed me. I went through my queue on Ravelry and decided that this was the perfect yarn with which to make Brigit. I've got the cuff started but I really need to put it aside for a little bit. I need to finish the leg (about 1 inch), heel and gusset pick ups on my Madder Ribbed Sock. The Madder Ribbed Sock will be the perfect knitting to take with me to the hospital on Monday but only if I get through the heel and gusset. I'll need something totally mindless.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

B is for Baking

Baking mosaic

I wasn't going to do another ABC-along post this week but you know how I feel about pictureless posts and right now I'm having to go with pictures I already have loaded into Flickr. I had this little baking set already set up at flickr and realized it went perfectly for the B part of the along.

I LOVE to bake. I'd bake every day if I could. The problem is I also love to eat what I bake and I've reached an age where I can't pretend I can eat anything I want anytime I want. I had many years when that was possible but they were long ago. I'm not a great baker and I don't make fancy things because no one in my family would eat them. Guess I'm not a Fearless Baker anymore than I'm a Fearless Knitter. I love to crank out cookies and other simple things, however, and my boys are grateful for them.

Baking relieves stress for me. Right now I'm feeling the stress. Last year was a difficult year. My father died in January and I spent the rest of the year dealing with the estate and interesting family relations. My oldest son had a number of injuries including two broken arms and a serious ankle injury. We also had major renovations done on our house which took much longer than anticipated (and cost more, too). I was glad to put 2007 behind me.

Then 2008 started with a visit to the Emergency Room for Oldest Boy. We found out the serious ankle injury requires serious surgery. Although Oldest Boy's braces came off (yeah!), we found out he needs significant cosmetic work done on his teeth (which costs the same amount as his braces) and today discovered he needs gum surgery. This seems like a lot for a 13 year old boy to handle. As his mother, I feel the pain and try to lessen it for him in any way I can. Still, he must be tired of being "broken" and needing to be fixed. Although it may not be polite to talk about money, I'll be honest and say we have no idea how we are going to pay for all this. Our insurance deductibles and copayments are ridiculously high and insurance will probably not cover the dental work at all (or only marginally).

Did I mention that the reason I needed to use an old photo is because my desk top computer decided to stop working? sigh It's in the shop now. I think it has something to do with our security suite which was just renewed and that just pisses me off. I purchased a lap top a couple of weeks ago so Oldest Boy could use it while he's laid up (and, well, to be completely truthful because I've wanted one for years and I felt entitled to buy myself something special with the inheritance money) so we're not computer-less but ... I'm tired. Really.

We have a long road ahead of us with ankle surgery, gum surgery, hours and hours of cosmetic. I need some strength. I'm quite good at putting my head down and shoveling. We'll get through this and it will make us stronger. I know we'll be fine. I have faith. But tonight I'm tired and I really want to make a big double batch of chocolate chip cookies with Trader Joe's chocolate chips and then eat until I'm sick. That's why I'm here typing. It keeps me from baking and eating.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

B is for Birds

Bird Mosaic

We have a few suet feeders in a small tree in our front yarn right outside our schoolroom. We can view this tree from all the front rooms in the house. Until we put up the feeders we never noticed the birds much. Once we put them up, however, we had numerous birds who come to visit regularly. I put a field guide and binoculars by the window and the boys and I identify any new bird who comes by. We truly enjoy the little bit of wildlife a small tree and a few suet feeders provides.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Unoriginal Hat

Unoriginal Hat 2

After yet another snow storm on Monday that left about a foot of snow, I took the boys skiing on Tuesday. While the boys were on the slopes, I sat in the lodge and restarted my Unoriginal Hat. I did come to terms that the first one was not going to fit anyone's head. I couldn't find size 7 mm needles called for in the pattern but I was able to find some 6.75 needles.

I worked on the hat on and off during the day in the lodge and on and off some more that night at home. Before I went to bed I had a completed hat. It's still too small for me - and the style's not really flattering on me anyway. None of my boys want the hat so I'm putting it away for charity. Where should I send it? It would easily fit a child or young teen.

Unoriginal Hat 1

What a quick little knit! I'm very glad I added some bulky weight yarn to the stash.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A is for ...

ADAM - My first born son. Adam loves to be outdoors and enjoys sports of all kinds. His favorites are snowboarding, baseball and soccer.

adam ski lift

He's also quite the Guitar Hero. Seriously. He was great at it right out of the box. I love this picture of Adam on Christmas morning.

Guitar Hero

Unfortunately, he was very injury prone in 2007. He broke his arm snowboarding, his wrist skateboarding, and now has a serious ankle injury. He is scheduled for surgery before the end of this month. The ankle looks innocent enough, doesn't it?


Finally, because this is primarily a knitting blog, A is for Angora Rabbit. When I first started knitting I wanted one of these badly. I've since decided I do not want to learn to spin. Spinning would take away from knitting. The rabbits are still awesome.

angora bunny

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday morning chores

Drying by the fire

It's been a crazy, busy week around here and next week looks even crazier. This morning I took some time to catch up on some chores. I started the first load of laundry at 6:45 and then threw a big batch of socks into the kitchen sink to soak. It always makes me laugh when people say they "don't have the time" to handwash socks. Anyway, after a soak and wringing them out in a towel I put them on a drying rack to dry near the woodstove.


It's always nice to see the washed socks all line up waiting to dry. It makes me feel industrious. A crackling fire and wet wool smell like winter to me.

Bearfoot Closeup

While I was spending time in the family room, I realized that the lighting might be good enough to finally get a decent picture of this Bearfoot yarn. The base is very dark plum but it has beautiful colors like blue, green and purple running through it. This picture is very close to how the yarn looks in person. I'm very happy to have settled on something to knit that I enjoy. This sock is working for me right now.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Inauspicious beginnings

Baby Cable Rib ugh

I usually have a pretty good idea of what I want to knit next while I'm working on my current project(s). In fact, there are usually half a dozen things I want to knit next. When I finished the Cherry Cordial socks I knew I wanted to knit a hat next. You already read how that worked out.

While the hat is on hiatus I thought I'd cast on for a pair of socks. I wasn't terribly inspired by my Ravelry queue so I took out all my sock books and flipped through. Again, nothing really jumped out at me. I knew that I wanted to use some of the ShiBui yarn that has been marinating in the stash but I had no pattern to go along with it. Finally, I settled on Waving Lace from Favorite Socks. I cast on and purled the first row and immediately misread the pattern for the rest of the cuff. I wasn't happy with the pattern and didn't want to start with a purl on every needle for the whole sock so I decided to scrap that plan.

Next I cast on for Baby Cable Ribs (seen above) from Sensational Knitted Socks. It's a very simple rib and I like how it looks and I figured it would make a very cozy sock. Well ... I misread the pattern and forgot to add the cuff. I figured that was no big deal really since the whole pattern is ribbed and decided it would look nice without a traditional cuff. I got about 2 inches of the sock done and realized it was just going to be too big. The kind of big that sneaks down into your shoes and wraps around your leg and foot big. I conceded defeat and put it aside. Although I like the pattern and the yarn, I don't love either and can't bear a third start with this yarn.

Madder Ribbed 1

Instead, I went through the stash again and came up with this Mountain Colors Bearfoot which was sent to me by a wonderful Secret Pal last year. My Lichen Ribbed socks which are knit out of Bearfoot are one of the first pair I wear after wash day because they are so warm and cozy. I decided I wanted another pair of Bearfoot socks to wear this winter. The Knitting Vintage Socks Along is knitting Madder Ribbed socks right now so I decided to cast on for those. I think I've found what I'm looking for.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Denial is not a river in Egypt

I had to come to grips with myself about the Unoriginal Hat from the post below. I realized that if I was getting 7 spi compared to the Harlot's 12 spi something must be amiss. I took a look at the Ravelry page again and realized I was knitting the hat on US size 7's (4.5 mm) instead of 7 mm needles. Big difference! The hat was maybe going to be big enough to fit a newborn and this is not a newborn type yarn. I ripped it out and intended to start over. Sadly, I discovered that although I have size 6.75 mm needles, they come in a 4 needle set and this pattern is just so much easier with 5 needles. For now, the yarn is just sitting, patiently waiting for me to decide what to do.

You know it's somewhat out of character for me to be knitting with yarn this bulky to begin with. After viewing my mosaic, however, and seeing the finished objects on other folk's blogs, I decided to widen my knitting scope a bit. When I heard a not so local yarn store was having a 60% off sale in their sale loft I decided to go investigate. Here's what I found:

(Mostly) Rowan sale

Pretty aren't they? They were each around $5.00 and they'll serve me well as hats, fingerless mitts and mittens. I'm excited about the possibilities and kind of sad I didn't get a little more. The sale is through the 19th but the store is an hour away - near nothing else I need to go to. We'll see what happens.

While I was up in the sale loft, I took a good look around and I found one bin filled with Claudia's Handpainted Yarn. I remember a conversation I had with the owner sometime last year when she told me she wasn't going to carry Claudia's anymore because of the yardage and other issues she was having with ordering. I happen to really like Claudia's but with the skimpy yardage and my big feet I really need 3 skeins to complete a pair of socks and that's pretty expensive at $13.00 a skein. However, what if the skeins were only $5.20? I found five different colors with three skeins.

Claudia sale

My stash is pretty enhanced.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

First FO of 2008

Cherry Cordial Pair

My first finished object of 2008. Plain Vanilla Cherry Cordial Yarntini socks. Sometimes a yarn just calls out for a plain stockinette sock. If you have never knit with Yarntini you are missing out. The colors are wonderful and only pooled a tiny bit around the gusset. The yarn is soft and squishy and knits up into a nice dense fabric. The skeins have great yardage - even with 7 inch legs and long feet I had a good sized ball left over (I really want to get a scale soon). I would love to get my hands on more.

Cherry Cordial Roll

The sun is out and we are having record breaking warm temperatures here. It was a fine day to take the socks outside for a photo (though my sock blockers have mysteriously disappeared). I also brought out another tub of yarn to photograph for my stash on Ravelry. If you have an account, check out the stash. It's beautiful but it's somewhat overwhelming. I added quite a bit to the stash this week when I went to a BIG sale at a not-so-LYS (more about that another day).

Zen Yarn Garden Samples

Speaking of Ravelry ... I asked a question a few months back wondering why most indie dyers do not reveal the source of their base yarn. The question prompted some great dialogue and Roxanne of Zen Yarn Garden offered to send me some samples of her base yarns so I could feel them for myself. Aren't these the cutest things ever? I especially love the little ball bands. Her base yarns are wonderful - just what I look for in yarns - and her yardage is very good. I immediately joined her Semi-Solid Harmony Sock Club and the yarn arrives before the end of the month. I can hardly wait.

Unoriginal Hat Beginning

Last night, even though I only had a few rows left on my second sock, I couldn't help myself from casting on this Unoriginal Hat by the Yarn Harlot. I'm really enjoying it. The big needles and cabling hurt my wrists some but I'm taking it easy. I'm not getting anywhere close to gauge - she calls for 12 stitches over the cabled area and I'm getting more like 7 or 8 - but the hat is really cute and I'm figuring I can donate it to charity.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Vacation yarn

I thought I had mentioned that we were going on vacation but I looked back and I'm not sure I ever mentioned it. Last week, we went away for a few days with the boys. We stayed near the mountain where the boys have season ski passes at a lovely "resort". It really wasn't very resortish but we did have a nice little condo and there was an "amenities" building which had a big pool with water slides, a sauna, a Roman spa, a ping pong table, a racquetball court and a fitness room. The boys loved the amenities building and we spend much time in warm water. I also beat them all at ping pong many, many times. In fact, I thought I'd go undefeated until Mr. Baseball destroyed my record.

I intended to have pictures to share with all of you but it was too warm inside the pool area and my camera wouldn't lens kept getting steamed up. I couldn't take ping pong pictures because I was always playing. And, well, it was just too darned cold to take skiing pictures.

Vacation yarn

Instead I have this picture of vacation yarn. On the coldest day, when the high temperature was 12 degrees F, I skipped the skiing part of the day and headed over to Patternworks which was about 20 minutes away. I haven't been to Patternworks in years. It's a nice enough shop with lots and lots of room but I can't say that I'd hurry back. The staff working that day wasn't terribly pleasant or helpful and that always turns me off. I scored some lovely solid Koigu on sale for 50% to go with some Koigu already in my stash. I also got some yarn called Soxx Appeal because I just couldn't resist the name. It feels nice with good bounce and the color awesome. It will all have to marinate in the stash for now however.

Hopefully, tomorrow I'll have a finished object to share along with some rather cute knitty thing I received in the mail today.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

2007 in review

2007 Knitting Mosaic

I tried and tried to post a mosaic picture before we left for vacation but ran into technical difficulties. Finally, through a roundabout way I got a mosaic made. I love seeing all the finished projects for the year in one place. This year, I hope to add a few hats and perhaps some mittens into the mix just for fun. I really am a small project only kind of knitter so there won't be any sweaters but I'm thinking of expanding my repertoire just a tiny bit this year.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Taking a dive into 2008

Cherry Cordial 1 FO

I thought I'd start the year off right with a picture of some actual knitting. Pictured above is my first Cherry Cordial Yarntini sock. It's just a plain vanilla sock which shows off the yarn to it's full advantage. Yarntini is one raved about yarn that has really stood up to its reputation. I only wish I had more in the stash. I'm almost to the heel of the second sock and can't wait until I can wear these.

YP  Rum Runner

I picked up the mail late yesterday because of the snow storm. I was very pleasantly surprised to receive this Yarn Pirate yarn from Tiennie. I left a comment on her blog and was one of the random winners. She chose this yarn to send to me. It's beautiful. Thank you so much Tiennie. It's generous bloggers and knitters that make this blog universe such a great place.

We broke with tradition last night and went to a neighbor's party to celebrate New Year's Eve rather than staying home with Chinese food and a movie. We all had a great time. The boys kept themselves quite busy with friends playing in and outside and eating lots of junk. The adults had a great time eating, drinking, and playing Taboo. All was good until 11:59 when, with a glass of champagne in my hand, I was told that Oldest Boy had cut his eye open. There was a nurse at the party who took a look at him and suggested a trip to the ER.

First Patient

Oldest Boy and I headed to the hospital about 25 minutes away. We were pleasantly surprised to find that on a snowy New Year's Eve there wasn't a single person in the waiting room. In fact, Oldest Boy was officially the first ER patient of 2008! Quite an honor I'm sure. Thankfully, nothing appears to be broken and his injuries were minor. The ER doc was able to superglue the laceration on his eyelid and sent us on our way. We made it home by 2 a.m. Oldest Boy may not look too pretty right now but it could have been a lot worse. Apparently, the boys were having snowball fights and using shovels to toss the snowballs. Oldest Boy went face first into a shovel.

2008 can only get better. Right?