Very Vanilla Nemo

IMG_3678Nope!  Not a new ice cream flavor…a pair of socks.  I knit these for my son’s girlfriend.  The fact that I knit her socks should be a good indicator of how I feel about this girl.  Shes fun, loves Disney movies, and is a pre-med biology major.  The colorway called Clownfish just seemed to call her name.  This was a new yarn for me.  I ordered it directly from Biscotte Yarns in Canada, but you can order some of their yarns from The Loopy Ewe here in the U.S. as well – but I don’t think the Bis-Sock yarn is available there.

The yarn stripes beautifully.  And this pair turned out to be the most perfectly matched pair I think I’ve ever done – in spite of the fact that the Doxie from yesterday’s post chewed off the yarn and then swallowed about a yard of it. (Don’t worry, all the yarn was extracted and the dog is fine!).  It’s got a nice soft silky feel to it.   I did find that it split just a bit, but the yarn is so soft and beautiful that I wouldn’t let that deter me from using it again.  I knit these on a size 1 but think next time I might go down a needle size.  She loved the finished socks!  (Pattern is Very Vanilla Socks)

I’ve got my eye on the Queen of Spades colorway – or what I prefer to call the Chicago Blackhawks color!  That will be after I finish the scarf for hubby and a camouflage-colored bottle coozy for my son.  So much to knit.  So little time.

Monday Musings

Hello, peeps!  I’m having sort of a lazy Monday morning to finish off a pretty lazy weekend.  I had an acquaintance (notice how I didn’t say friend?)  ask me what I’d “been up to” lately.  I don’t cross paths with this person often so that’s probably a fair question.  A few answers came to mind.

  1.  Well, I’ve spent the last year recovering from a traumatic accident and surgery.
  2. I’ve been solving all the world’s problems like famine, disease, and terrorism.
  3. Spiritually? Physically? Socioeconomically?
  4. I’m alright, slight bruises here and there, nothing i can’t handle (this is probably close to the truth).
  5. Today I’m a rutabaga, but tomorrow I’m thinking I’ll be a coconut.

But what I actually said was, “Nothing much.  Same old stuff.”  This must not have been the answer she was looking for because after few more minutes she repeated the question.  And then followed up with the zinger:

Haven’t you gotten bored yet since you aren’t working?

WHAT?  Bored?  Me?  She must not know me well at all.  Now, you must keep in mind that I have never in 22 years known this woman to “work”.  She stayed home with her children (which is ALL KINDS OF WORK) but did not have a job outside the home.  Then after the divorce, she lived off support from her ex-husband and talked about trying to decide what to do with herself. She did that for years.  And all of that is fine. Fine for her, but apparently not for me because she was all sorts of judgmental about me not working  for the last 6 years.  Never mind that I put in 25 years teaching science to high school students!  In the end, I just shrugged her off and said, “I knit.  I read. I have hobbies. I keep busy.”

But last night at meditation class, a retired friend said, “We are’human beings’ not ‘human doings’.  The meaning of life is to live it fully in each moment.  Our worth doesn’t come from a job.” She makes an excellent point!!  And she also pointed out that they aren’t hobbies at all; they are passions.  And she’s right again!

So here’s what I’ve “been up to” in the last few weeks.

  1.  Hubby and I put in a no-dig fence for  the dogs.  It’s not a tall fence, but it looks nice and works for our two dogs.  The golden is too old and not a jumper or otherwise we would have needed a taller option.
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Shawzy looking out.  She’s adorable, is she not?

2.  I finished up a few knitting projects.  One,  a pair of socks for the hubby (to be discussed at another time) . The other is a baby sweater for a friend.  I think the sweater turned out quite cute.  Entirely made from leftover sock yarn.  One solid gray and the other a self-striping.  Thrifty and cute both.

3.  Exploring local coffee shops.  I take my dog to Pittsfield, IL to be groomed.  While I wait, I support the local economy.  There’s a gift shop, a diner, and a coffee shop that I love there.  Not to mention a few antique shops.   Free Press Coffee and Tea is a favorite.  Great atmosphere (and it’s attached to a historic hotel), good coffee, and even some gluten-free choices (with more to come).  It was pouring down rain last week when I was there so it was a cozy place to kill some time reading and enjoying a breve.  (We did have snow on Saturday though!)

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Free Press Coffee last winter.

While I was there I bought a cup to add to my hand-thrown coffee cup collection.  I love it.  It makes me happy having my tea in it.  Small pleasures.  Isn’t it a beauty?

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Cup by local artists at Crooked Clay Creations.  

4.  Yoga.  I’ve started a gentle yoga class to help improve my core strength in the hope it will alleviate some back pain.  It saddened me a little to feel like the youngest member in the class, but it’s okay.  I like it.  I love the instructor who’s very helpful at guiding me away from moves that might cause me trouble.  She’s one of the those people that you meet and know instantly that you could be great friends. AND, I’ve flexed my stiff spine in ways that it hasn’t been in over a year.  That’s a good thing.  I pay for it a bit afterwards, but that’s getting better too!   I’m only going once a week since it’s a 40 minute drive, but I bought a DVD to try to add a couple of days on my own at home. I’ve committed to 10 weeks and from there we shall see.  Maybe I’ll switch classes or add another class to the schedule.

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A class at my yoga studio.  Not MY class (notice the “youngsters”).  My class would look much more “mature”.

5.  Reading.  Always a given.  But this time I am reading a book that I have looked at many times but always put it back.  I don’t care for the circus.  Never have.  I’m not sure why either.  I just don’t like them. I’m not sure what kept drawing me to this book but I can’t tell you how many times I read the blurb on the back.   We have a locally owned bookstore that I try to support,  so last week I didn’t put the book back on the shelf.  Instead, Andy wrapped it up for me in brown paper.  (I love that old-fashioned nod to times past.)

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Isn’t it lovely?  Sort of like a living room filled with friends.

Anyway, the book that followed me home is The Night Circus.  It’s very well written.  Reads like a dream. . .both literally and figuratively.  It’s not what I expected.  It’s much, much better.  It’s not a dash to the end, it’s more of a slow contemplating read with stops to imagine the magical circus the author has created.  And I think it may be one of those books that I will be sad to see it end.

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6.  Watching Blackhawks hockey with the family!

7.  Getting my pictures in order so that I can begin the scrapbook of last year’s vacation.  I think I’m about ready to start it.  It’s an overwhelming number of pictures to sort through.  Plus the idea of telling the story which turned out so different than we had planned. I know I’ll cry often while I do it.   It’s daunting.  But soon I will get to it.

8.  Laundry.  Cooking.  Cleaning.  Grocery shopping.  And all the other mundane things we do to keep a house running.

9.  Tangling.  Doodling.  And drawing.

10. Cleaning up the yard and raking leaves.  I love my big trees – but oh my- the number of leaves to rake!

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The front yard leaves.  Doesn’t include the back yard at all.  That’s a ditch under there.

11.  Sometimes I just sit in my chair with the dog on my lap.  Small pleasures. (Again.)

So!  That’s what I’ve been up to.  It’s been pretty damn awesome too.  Part of me wonders if that acquaintance can say the same.

 

New Favorites (and a few old ones too)

Holy cow!  Has it really been a month since I wrote a post here??  I’d like to say I have been really busy.  Really, really, super busy.  But maybe not.  So what little thing triggered the response that led to this blog post?  Well, another blog of course!!!  Which is my first new favorite.

Rubber Shoes in Hell.  Seriously, what a great name!  I love quirky titles on anything.  Yarn.  Books.  Blogs.  Wine, even.  And this one is a gem.  Maybe it’s the fact that we are both women of a “similar age”?  Or that we the share experience of raising a son?  Perhaps a similar sense of humor.  Or that some of the discussions with her husband remind me of the tenor discussions with my own?  Or that we both think Donald Trump is a narcissist? Whatever the reason, I love this blog and encourage you take a peek.


“Captain Serious” kisses the cup.

Blackhawks Hockey.  My gosh, what a long dry summer without hockey to watch especially on the heels of the Stanley Cup win.  But theeeeeeyyyyy’rrrrre baaaaaack…but without a few of my favorites.  Losing Brandon Saad was heartbreaking.  Same with Patrick Sharp.  And there were others.  Several.  The words “SALARY CAP” are definitely not favorites of any hockey fan.  Or player.  Or team for that matter.


Photo credit: Jessfuel.com

Photo credit: Jessfuel.com

Zoodles.  A.K.A. Zucchini noodles.  I’ve been making them for years now using a vegetable peeler for ribbon-like noodles.  But they got so much better when I bought a spiral slicer.  If you want to see how I make them, check it out here on the Against All Grain blog.  She has some great grain free recipes.  I wrote about the slow cooker Moroccan chicken recipe some time ago.  Since then I’ve made it again. . . only not in the slow cooker and I found it to be better.  And the “cauliflower cous cous” is the best stuff for those who’ve given up grain.  But back to the zoodles.  I use them instead of spaghetti and they are awesome!!  Just make to use at least one zuke per person because they sort of shrink down a bit.


I love it so much!!

I love it so much!!

A song from this album came on the radio last weekend and I fell in love with it all over again.


Biscotte Yarn

Now I haven’t actually touched this yarn.  I hope it feels as nice as it looks.  The self-striping colorways are just beautiful and I can’t wait to knit with it.  (If you read the Rubber Shoes in Hell blog post from above, this might make great fin mittens for homeless sharks!)

Clown fish colorway will become a pair of Dory socks!

Clown fish colorway will become a pair of Dory socks!


Knitting – off the needles!

I’ve had a great deal of knitting time over the past several months as I’ve been recuperating.  Mostly I’ve knit gifts for others.  This little “one-skein” asymmetrical shawl just came off the needles this weekend.  I love it.  Love the color.  Love Like the yarn a lot.  And it’s destined to belong to someone else too!

Ardent

Ardent

The pattern is called Ardent by designer Janina Kallio.  It uses one skein, is knit on the bias, and is all knit – NO PURLS at all.   It’s the first pattern of hers that I have knit and it turned out quite well except I did find the side without all the increases to be a bit messy in the eyelet section for my liking. (The irregularities did block out pretty well though.)  I think next time I might slip the first stitch at the end and see how that goes.  I used Alpaca Sox fingering yarn – another first for me.  It’s a blend of alpaca, merino, and nylon in a colorway (1885) called Orange Blush.  It reminds of a pink grapefruit.  I’m glad I bought extra because I do love the color a lot – even though orange typically isn’t a color I would turn to.   I think I used a size 5 needle and I had a tiny bit of the ball left over.  My only hesitation is that the alpaca in this yarn seems to be a little “hairy”.  You hand-spinnners out there know what I mean; there were these longer fibers that stuck out a lot.

DSC_2370Now, I’m off to finish the pair of socks I have on the needles.

And it’s done. . .well sort of.

 

Page 23 - A ride through the Badlands.

Page 23 – A ride through the Badlands.

I am finally finished with last year’s vacation “scrapbook” .  It’s uploaded and waiting to be printed.  I’m not sure why, but I’m always a bit anxious about the process.  I read and reread all my journal entries to proof them for spelling and punctuation, but it never fails that one tiny little error slips through.  And my son is always the one to notice it. Always.  Sometimes it’s not spelling.  One time I left a staple in his friend’s head.  I tell myself that nobody notices.  Anyway, this time I am more anxious than usual since I sent it to print at Blurb, a new experience for me.  It saved me a little money (and I found a coupon code online that saved even more) and by all accounts offers a product that’s equal or better to the printer I’ve used in the past.  We shall see.  The process was a little time consuming since I had to save all my pages as high quality jpeg files, and then import them and drag them on to the new pages.  That actually went really smoothly.  And I will say that in that respect, BookSmart worked perfectly.  And it was faster than you might think even with 43 pages.  It was just that when I looked at where the page would be trimmed, well some elements (photos, journal entries, flowers, etc) were a little to close for comfort.  In the end, I had to edit about a fourth of the pages to move some things away from edges, and then do it over. So what I thought would be a quick relatively quick process took me a bit longer.  Then I had more choices that I did at my old print shop.  Different colors of end pages.  Various papers of different weights and finish.  I hope that when it arrives in two weeks (because I was too cheap  thrifty to spend twice the amount on shipping to have it next week) I will love it.  I’m sure I will.  But the waiting to see if I got it right makes me a little crazy.

The scrapbook may be done, but this project is not.

Provence baby sweater for Noa.

Provence baby sweater for Noa.

The sleeves are done.  And I’m about halfway to dividing for the underarms.  I’ve got several hours of knitting time next week so hopefully, I can get this project all finished up.  Would be nice to deliver it to Noa when we see her (hopefully) in Germany next month.  It’s quite soft.  Beautiful color.  Washable wool.  It’s just that the yarn isn’t much fun to knit with.  And my new beautiful yarn is calling to me.  But I refuse to give in until this sweater is done.  So until then. . . I knit on.

 

Let’s Talk Yarn . . .

It’s been a while since I was really excited about a knitting project. I was just browsing projects this morning in Ravelry when I spied it: the project calling my name, The Inspira Cowl (Steampunk version).  If you’ve never heard of Ravelry,  it’s like Facebook just for knitters.  I know, that’s crazy, right?  But it’s an amazing place.  I’m not even a huge cowl person and colorwork isn’t really my “thing” either,  but I’m willing to suck it up for this project since the yarns will do most of the work for me. 

Isn’t it beautiful?  Mine will be not be as heavy since I’m using sock yarn but will still have beautiful color changes. 

Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea

Fiddlehead

Fiddlehead

Gold Hill

Gold Hill

Roadside Gerry

Roadside Gerry

I ordered all these Lorna’s Laces lovelies from The Loopy Ewe.  And no, neither of them are paying me to write how awesome they are, but they really ARE quite special.  The people at Lorna’s Laces have beautiful colorways down pat and The Loopy Ewe has a huge selection and great customer service.  You can’t ask for better. 

I’m thinking those ugly socks are on hold for a bit. 

 

Ugly Socks Still Keep Your Feet Warm

I started knitting a pair of socks for the “hubcap” (I started calling him that when he was promoted to captain years ago.  He loves tolerates it.)  He’s sort of boring when it comes to socks.  Blue.  Black.  Brown,  Khaki.  Oh, and white for the gym.  So finding sock yarn that will appeal to both of us is a challenge.  For him because . . . well have you seen the sock yarns out there?  They are fabulous although a little bit whole lot out of his comfort zone.  For me, it’s finding a yarn plain boring enough for him but still interesting enough for me to want to knit.  I finally settled on this ball of superwash something – ball band is AWOL for the time being. The colors, by the way,  are much more drab than they appear in the picture.   I cast on eagerly in February with that glee that always accompanies a new project.  Yep.  Almost 6 months ago and I still only have part of the first sock done.  That’s kind of unheard of for me. And I can tell you why.   It’s because the things are damn ugly.  I know, I know.  I should be happy to knit on something that will bring him unabashed joy, right?  I’m not counting on that either since when I asked him a few weeks ago if he was really going to wear them he hesitated before saying yes.  He hesitated.  Doesn’t bode well for the sock love.  So I guess now I need to decide whether to forge ahead and finish the ugly buggers or rip them out and knit something that is enjoyable and will be loved by someone.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA