30 December 2010

A Christmas Miracle

This year for Thanksgiving Daughter, Husband and I went to visit Brother and his family in the Detroit suburbs. We had a very enjoyable time which included eating a lot of food, as well as a little of a new hobby that Daughter and I have taken up called geocaching. Before we left for Detroit I looked up a few caches that would be close to Brother's house and got the details.

Here we are after finding the first cache. It was a little chilly out, and there was a very brisk breeze blowing that day, so we only found two of the three that I had looked up.

While we were digesting our turkey feast, brother mentioned that his hunting hat was getting too stretched out for his taste, and would it be possible to make him a new one? He wanted a Liberty Cap in hunter's orange, if possible. It seemed like an easy enough request, so I said yes.

The first step in the process was acquiring the yarn. In case you haven't checked your local yarn purveyor recently, you may not know that hunter's orange is not a well stocked item. Perhaps the problem was that I was trying to find it just after hunting season, but the yarn proved tricky to find. I eventually turned to the internet and found a company selling hunter's orange wool. I ordered a cone of their HunterSafetyOrange just to be sure I didn't run out. It came soon after and I made up a gauge swatch to see how it would work up.

Next I had to locate a pattern for a Liberty Cap. The internet came to the rescue in this department as well, although the first pattern that looked promising turned out to be sized for an 18 inch doll rather than a real human being. I finally located a pattern here that I was able to use with a few modifications.

The next step, of course, is to actually knit the thing. For reasons unknown to me, at least on a conscious level, I didn't start doing the real knitting until Christmas Eve. To make it an even better challenge for myself, I needed to have it done and ready to go by 9:00 in the morning on the 26th, which was when Brother and his family were leaving Parents' house to go back down south.

I got ready to start and discovered that I had everything that I needed except a crochet hook. The pattern calls for a provisional cast on, and the only way I know how to do one is using a crochet hook. I asked Mom if she had one, and after searching in several locations she told me that she did not. I was momentarily concerned that the hat might not happen, but then brother asked me for the specification of a crochet hook. I told him that it was just a long piece of thick wire with a hook on the end. He then borrowed a piece of old coat hanger from Mom, went down to the workshop, and came back minutes later with this:

It's not particularly pretty, but it got the job done. I spent most of Christmas day knitting. I took a couple of breaks to play Scribblish and watch a family movie classic (Boxman, for those of you in the know.) Most of the day, however, looked like this:

(Thank you again, Honey, for the cool new Blackhawks jammie pants.) At the end of the day, the very end of the day, I finally finished it off, built a tassel using no instructions whatsoever, and washed and conditioned the hat. I set it out in the living room hoping it would be at least mostly dry by morning.

It did not dry completely, but that didn't stop Brother from putting it on and modeling it just before getting into the car and speeding away.

Looks pretty good for a hat knit in a day.

11 August 2010

Socks, Check

I finished the socks. The pattern is called "My Heart Beets 4U." If you look at the heel in just the right way, it is supposed to look like a beet, with the pattern on the leg forming the beet greens.

I don't know that I really see it, but they are good looking socks, even if I can't see the cuteness of them.

I'm glad that they're done because the beginning of the end starts tomorrow when we leave for 4 days at Kohler Andrae state park in Wisconsin.

08 August 2010

Socks that Rock

As I've mentioned, I'm a member of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin' Sock Club this year. I received the May club kit which contained this skein of yarn:

I know, it looks like they sent me an undeyed skein of yarn, but if you look REALLY closely, you'll see that the right side of that skein is very slightly more green than the left end. It is actually dyed, it's just deyed in a very subtle way. The patterns that were included in that package were both ankle length socks, neither of which really spoke to me, so I haven't made either of them yet.

A week or two ago I received the July shipment which contained this yarn:

This color is called Firecracker, and the patterns this time were a little more to my liking. I ruled out one of them because it features cables, which I don't like to deal with in a sock related situation. The second pattern only calls for 3 cables on each sock, so that's the way I went. This is what they looked like last night:

They look very narrow, but that's because they have a lot of ribbing. They stretch out nicely and fit just fine. I'll need to get a move on and finish them soon, because Thursday we leave for a 4 day camping trip, then we go to Colorado the day after we get back and stay there for 8 days. We'll be back home the day before Daughter starts school. It's frightening how fast summer goes by.

03 August 2010

Bad Blogger

Yes, yes, I know. It's been a while. But the knitting fairies conspired to give me a couple of bad projects in quick succession. The wallaby I'm making for Daughter is made out of a had dyed yarn, and when I got to the end of one skein and started another the colors were violently different. So the poor thing has been sitting on my coffee table waiting for me to make a decision about what future awaits it. Then I started a pair of socks, also for Daughter, and there were 3 breaks/knots in the skein before I got 2/3 of the way through the first sock. Since there hasn't been any cool knitting to talk about, I've let the blog go to pot. I still haven't gotten any knitting to work right, but I did have an interesting weekend.

Daughter and I and 15 other people went on a camping/canoeing extravaganza this past weekend. We were at a cute little campground owned by River Raisin Canoe Livery. There are 16 little camp sites, but we were the only one who were there, so we got the whole place to ourselves.

You can't really tell from the picture, but the river runs just behind the trees. The canoe livery rents canoes and kayaks as well as driving your party up the river for the half and full day trips. So on Sunday morning we got in the white van and were driven 20 miles up the river for the all day canoeing trip.

Once we put in, there were 3 canoes with 2 adults in them, 1 canoe with 2 teenagers in it, 2 canoes with 2 adults and 1 child in them, and my canoe with 2 kids and me. So if you re-read that, I was in the only canoe with only one adult in it. So you can guess who the slowest boat on the river was. It also means that Daughter was chosen as the expedition photographer, so there are a lot of pictures like this:

She did manage to get a couple of good ones:

And I took a couple as well.

It turns out that 6 hours in a canoe was a little too much for the kids, who are not used to going that long without a television or computer to keep them company. So as soon as we got back to the campground they jumped out of the canoes and immediately jumped in the river.

When I asked Daughter on the drive home what the best part of the trip was, she chose swimming in the river. When asked what the worst part was, she chose the canoeing. I guess the lesson is that next year I need to bring a babysitter to watch the kids on the day that all the grown-ups go canoeing.

15 May 2010

Spiders and Socks

Today was yard work day. It hasn't really been a good day for working in the flower beds yet, but today was the closest we've had for a while. It rained heavily a couple of days ago, so the ground wasn't rocks hard, and the sun wasn't out beating down on me so it was all right. I pulled up a 5 gallon bucket full of weeds from my beds, and there are still a lot of little ones coming up, but I'm thinking I'll deal with them using newspaper and mulch.

Husband was also working out in the yard after his tennis match, and while he was trimming back the ivy under the maple tree, he discovered that we have some new pets.

In case it's not really clear from the picture, that is about 200 baby spiders. Click on the pictures to make them bigger.

That's as close as I can get with my Point & Shoot camera. The ivy leaves are about 2.5" across, so that makes the spiders... really small.

In other news, I finished some lotion socks while watching a hockey game earlier this week.

As the name implies, these are for wandering around the house in after I put lotion on my heels. I had another pair at the beginning of winter, but Daughter loves them and they have disappeared into the black hole she keeps her bed in.

I also started a Wallaby for Daughter. This is good hockey knitting as I don't have to look at it while I'm knitting. This will become more and more important as the Blackhawks get farther and farther along in their quest for Lord Stanley's Cup. The sweater is made out of Araucania Nature Wool, which I picked up two bags of at Stitches last summer for 50% off.

Most of this was done last night while Husband and I watched Proof of Life. And yes, that is one of the homemade stitch markers hanging there. I think it may even be the one that was being constructed during the "incident."

09 May 2010

Odds & Ends

A few bits & pieces from the last few days.

It took until 3 weeks ago for Daughter to learn to ride a bike. She then learned, became addicted, and rode the 11 mile loop from our house, around the forest preserve, and back.

2. The last few weeks of school the kids have A B C countdown. Each day has a theme that goes with the next letter in the alphabet. D was Dress like someone else day.

Daughter went as me. That's my shirt, my capris, and my sandals.

3. Son saw this in the parking lot at the mall and thought it was the coolest truck ever.

You need to be a Transformers fan to understand that one.

4. To celebrate my birthday and son's birthday which were both in the last month, we went to Texas de Brasil which is a restaurant where they basically walk around with grilled meat on sticks and cut you off a piece at the table.

Steak, pork, chicken, you name it. They even have lamb, but we all passed on that. I took another picture of the drippings all over the tablecloth, but I'll spare you that one.

And lastly, the socks I've been working on. I'm making these out of the wool that my birthday swap buddy sent me.

They look very nice, but the foot is hugely too big for me. So now I face the decision: do I make the second one, or rip out the first one and rewrite the pattern so it'll fit.

30 April 2010

Birthday Business

As I've mentioned before, I belong to Ravelry, and recently participated in a birthday swap. My swap buddy sent me a package that arrived on Monday, but I waited till Thursday to open it, and this is what was inside:

There's all kinds of good stuff. I got two different kinds of yarn, a sock pattern book, some tea, a handmade ceramic vase, a handmade ear warmer, some notecards, a bookmark, a photo album, and a Razorbacks keychain. All things that I will enjoy using.

As I was putting some things away I discovered a couple of things that I had intended to put in Merideth's box but forgot. I'll send them off tomorrow and throw in these, too.

I'll have them done by this evening because the finger, it's healing up nicely.

21 April 2010

(Wo)Man Down

WARNING: This post contains medical content that may be disturbing for some viewers. If you are sensitive about blood and whatnot, it would be best that you turn away now.

I am a member of Ravelry, the online knitting and crocheting equivalent of Facebook. One of the features of the website is that you can join any number of groups, where you can discuss things with like minded knitters. I am a member of several, one of which is the 2010 Birthday Swap group. Once you join, you are matched up with someone who has a birthday near yours, then you buy each other small gifts and swap them. Since my birthday, and my partner's birthday are both on the same day next week, I've been picking out things to send her.

One of the required elements of the package is that you include something you make yourself. My buddy said that she would like to get some stitch markers, so I took a careful look at some of mine, and decided that I could probably make some for her.

I went out to Googly Eyes and Other Supplies (Daughter's name for Michaels) and picked up all the necessary bits and pieces that I needed. I sat down last night after dinner and started putting them together and got this far:

As you can see, I managed to put together some passable, if slightly large, stitch markers with the few tools I had at hand. The technique I used was to load up some beads on a headpin, run that through the stitch marker loop, twist the headpin, then snip it off to the correct length. I got all of the beads strung and the initial twists made when I discovered that my snippers were in the basement. I didn't feel like going to the basement, so I just grabbed my scissors and used them. This worked well for the first 2, but then came the third one and the medical incident.

Had I gone to the basement and gotten my snippers, I would have been able to trim off the little excess bits of wire from a nice safe distance. Using the scissors I had to hold things in a somewhat awkward position, which resulted in this:

On the left is the stitch marker, and on the right is a sizable piece of my left index finger. In fact if you click on the picture to make it bigger you can clearly see my fingerprints. 12 hours and 3 bandaids later it seems to have stopped bleeding, but it is causing a major knitting issue. I can make a knit stitch with very little pain because the yarn moves across the upper part of my index finger, but when I purl it seems that I use my index finger in just exactly the wrong place to move the yarn on the needles.

So unless someone can suggest a knit-only pattern that I'd enjoy, the knitting world will be one woman down until some healing occurs.

14 April 2010

Time Out

This weekend I spent a lot of time cleaning. On Saturday I did a major job of spring cleaning in the dining room which involved recycling a huge amount of paperwork, and going through Daughter's craft area and getting rid of all of the stuff that she hasn't used in years. To top off the 5 hours of cleaning I spent 30 minutes on hands an knees with a bucket and a rag scrubbing the hardwood floor.

On Sunday I thought about doing the living room, but instead I cleaned out the front closet, then for fun I thought I would work on "the basket." It's the basket I keep in the living room where I put things that I'm taking a break from working on. In theory it's just a place for them to rest a while, but in reality it's usually a one way trip. Things go in but they don't often come out again. I decided that maybe I should try the "Finish it or Frog it" technique. The idea is that you either pull something out and work till it's finished, or you pick something out and turn it back into a ball of yarn.

The first step was to clean out the basket and sort things.

Clockwise from the lower left are: the Hockey Wallaby, a Vest, some socks and a sweater for the donate pile, a sweatercoat (in the basket), some donateable yarn, and some yarn to return to its rightful place in the stash room. D'art decided that this would be the best time to help me by making it impossible to put anything else in the basket.

I decided that the first thing that would get finished should be the Hockey Wallaby. Especially since the Blackhawks played their final regular season game against the Red Wings on Sunday afternoon. It was a fairly quick game, relatively speaking, even though it took an overtime for the Red Wings to finally win. During the course of the game I made this:

That would be the second sleeve. This sweater should be done very soon, then I think it will be on to the sweater-coat which, I'm somewhat embarrassed to say, need only the button band. The sweater itself is done and already sewn together. What's even more distressing is that it's been done for at least 3 years. It's not in my Ravelry database, and I started that in September of 2007. As soon as I finish the Hockey Wallaby the sweater-coat is up. I wonder if it's even still in style?

04 April 2010

Happy Easter

Happy Easter everyone. As I write this I'm sitting on a lawn chair in the back yard after having first cooked Easter dinner, then cleaned up the kitchen afterward. I had my English Breakfast tea, and my Iced Tea, so that plan is still on schedule. As I sit here and enjoy the lovely weather and gentle breeze, I can see all kinds of plants that have gotten a good start on the year.

The first flowers I have every year are the flowers on my Vinca. They are one of the signs of spring that I look for each year.

The second one that shows up is usually the Muscari.

Pulmonaria showed up next. This one is Daughter's favorite because the flowers turn from pink to purple.

And today's newest addition is the Jack Frost Brunnera.

These all tie in very nicely with the latet shipment I received from Blue Moon containing a skein of yarn called Wild Irishgirlie, and two patterns.

I chose the one called Slip Jig, and I've finished the first sock. The pattern was easy to memorize so it went fairly quickly.

Here's a close-up of the cuff pattern...

How's that for some nice Easterish color?

03 April 2010

The Saturday List

Tomorrow is Easter. The end of Lent. Time for celebration. Time for the subject of my list, and my plan for tomorrow.

1. For breakfast I'll have 2 or 3 cups of English Breakfast while I eat a mountain of candy breakfast.

2. For lunch I'll have a glass or two of LiptoComment iced tea. I made that this evening so it'll be nice and chilly by noon tomorrow.

3. In the afternoon I'll take a walk on the wild side and have some fully caffeinated estate tea.

4. And to finish off the day, a little Vanilla Nut just before bed time.

I hope everyone has a joyful Easter, and enjoy a cup of tea while you're at it.