Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Beginnings

I'm not going to get all teary eyed & sucky, but here's the chance to end it all with a smile & do it better next year. And I'm not talking Resolution, neither! No point in writing down all the things you know you should be doing but won't because it's too much trouble to actually DO all the things you know you should do or you'd have DONE them by now. I'm a Realist in a Dreamer's world. Resolutions are a waste of time & paper. I like one Blogger's idea of picking a WORD for the year. Nice Idea. Won't work for me. I have to be practical. So, I'm drinking a toast to all the mistakes I made in 2011 & kissing them goodbye like an old boyfriend with a wandering eye. I'm looking forward to some new opportunities in 2012. Nothing is written down, there's nothing to plan, no mistakes to worry about. It's all brand new. Like the shiny kitchen in a fancy new condo.

I'm hoping to complete some things I ignored in 2011 though.

-That Big Blue Afghan. It must be finished this coming year - I had no idea that it was started in 2005!! Yikes. It will go into the donation bin. And while I'm at it, I guess I should crochet those squares together too - they've also been around for years.
- The Purple Kyler's Kardigan. I need that damned sweater now.
- I must pull the BT's crappy old couch out from the corner under the window where it's been piled high with yarn & flotsam of all kinds & get it where I can use it. I'm stuck with it for a while yet so I'm gonna replace the worn seat cushions with a big slab of foam & put the red frog cover on it. So I can sleep on it. Or sit or lay on it. I might even buy one of those Couch Skins & make it look good!! If I had any brains at all, I'd push it outside in the spring & enjoy it out there all summer!!! hmmmmm . . . Now there's a thought
And that's it. Short, sweet & simple. Finish a few jobs.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It Ain't Over Yet

I always hate this week between the major holidays. I guess most people love it because they get to spend time with the family, go visiting or just plain shop till they drop!! I don't do the family thing - no one close enough if I wanted too, I don't want to visit anyone with a pile of kids & family hanging about & I wouldn't darken a mall if I was paid at this time of year!! I'm not even happy about going to Safeway for milk right now! The parking lots are jammed, people are running over each other to find bargains & it just isn't worth the hassle.

So, I went to work instead. Not surprisingly, I think the only places open for a square mile around me were fast food & the Pub. A haven of peace. So, I listened to a new Audio book - The Covenant of Genesis by Andy McDermott. The Covenant is a group of former Enemies, all of the three Abrahamic Religions, who are wiping out anyone connected to certain archeological discoveries. They not only slaughter every man, woman & child at the dig but destroy the animals, equipment, data & the dig itself. One Archeologist & her fiance survive to find out why. If you like spies, war, action & mayhem, this is the one for you!!

At my other job site, I'm listening to the Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows. A total turnaround. The book is made up of letters written in 1946 between a young author & the people of Guernsey that she wishes to write a story about. The letters are read in multiple voices & tell the story of Guernsey under the Occupation. It's sad & terrible, happy & uplifting & will make you laugh out loud while you wipe away a tear. I highly recommend it to anyone.

And just so you don't think I've stopped completely - a new project!! I started on my Poncho Pullover on Christmas Day while my Italian Soup burbled in the pot & I watched Downton Abbey. I swatched & liked the fabric I got with the 4mm needle & the Briggs & Little Heritage. Problem was, it just didn't work in the actual usage. The garter collar was too tight & too small with the 4mm needles!! Okaaaay. I went up a size but found I liked the collar in the 6mm in the end. But, it's just a collar - right?? Nope, I didn't like the 4mm in stockinette neither in the round. So, I'm knitting the Poncho Pullover with the 6mm needles which is a little looser than I wanted but hey, I'll get to try it on as I go &  may not need to add a few more increase rows. The smaller needles are in the Kyler's Kardigan sleeve anyway. I left the neck open a little bit farther than the pattern does - I worried about it being too tight. And I added a little color for interest. I have one more ball of this darker solid blue & then I'll probably finish the sweater with the Anniversary Blue that I used for the Carpenter Wallaby. It's a barber pole of light & dark blue - I have lots of it - instead of multiple shades of blue as I go.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Twas the Day Before the Day Before . . .

I'm not sure I need to make my Annual Silly Season Rant
this year since I can't find much to Rant about. Is it my imagination or is everything a little Low Key this year?? There doesn't seem to be any Public Debate on Political Correctness. I haven't heard a word about the Proper Greeting one must use if one is employed by any subset of the Government. And no one has made an Official Announcement about Decorations . . . everyone's just happily doing their own thing. Has the Government gone on Early Break to ski at Whistler?? Have we reverted to the Past somehow?? Everyone just seems to be enjoying themselves for a change. Why, I got a call from a Government Office this very morning & they said 'Merry Christmas'. Imagine my surprise!!

Meanwhile, on the Home Front, I've doled out the hats, socks & Port. Delivered a bottle of wine or two. Bought cheese, Triscuits, veggies & sausage & signed up for two 'classes' on Craftsy. I am going to do a Curvy Knits class & a Fit Your Knits class over the holidays. One class will take me through the basics of measuring & plotting out MY body on the basic diagram of the pattern & then adjusting it to fit while the other teaches me how to build in structure, choose the right pattern for my shape, choose yarns that flatter larger bodies and finally figure out where to put those damned darts & short rows. I know a lot of stuff will be similar in the courses but it seems they also teach a lot of stuff that's different too. I can FIT someone else - it's time to FIT myself for a change.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The ME Project

I bounced back & forth a little but made the final decision. The Poncho Pullover will be the Project & I'm using the Briggs & Little yarn. I have quite a collection of B&G skeins. Most of them are shades of blue - don't ask - and most of them are Heritage or Regal. I have a nice skein of Tuffy - the wool & nylon mix - which I've set aside for slippers. All the rest are 100% wool with bits of straw in them which I've been picking out as I wind the skeins into balls. Is it just me?? or is B&G dusty too??? It always seems so to me. The colors get brighter with a nice soak but then doesn't almost anything? It's nice Canadian wool, wears like iron & lasts forever!! You can't get better than that!!

The biggest pain in the ass is making all these skeins into balls. Once they're balls, I can easily rewind them into centre-pull balls which sit nicely on the floor instead of rolling around while I knit. But, with no skein holder I have to hold the skein in one hand & unwind with the other then lay the skein down to wind the ball! Since the B&G tends to cling to itself, it can get into an awful mess. Yeah, I've tried winding a ball right off the skein but it winds too loosely that way . . . and still clings to itself which causes a mess. But, there's lots of movies on right now so I'll just sit in front of the Tube & unwind skeins . . .

I haven't quite decided how all these blues will go together - I had purchased them with an Adult Surprise Jacket in mind - but I think a Poncho, knit in one piece from the top down, can handle a range of colors.
Before I bought this pattern, I planned to use the Nashua in hot pink & purple. I didn't realize this pattern was written for 'chunky' yarn. But I love the pattern & I think it'll be fun & easy to wear. So, I'm going to try using the B&G. There's several skeins left over from a Wonderful Wallaby I knit for a friend a couple of years ago in the Anniversary color - a barber pole of light/dark blue. I knits up to a slightly heathery look. I may use the variety of blues in the yoke & the Anniversary color as a solid bottom. I'll see what the swatch looks like. Yes, in this case, I am going to knit a large swatch in several colors to see what I think before I take on the whole project. I intend to wash it & even toss it in the dryer for a few minutes on cool. Hey, that's what a swatch is for!!!

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Addiction Returns

I couldn't help it. I was overcome by yarn fumes once again & just had to get out the old sock needles & cast on another pair of socks. I really, really liked that pink Kroy that Karen found. Hell, I even like the orange Kroy. So I squirreled away a coupla balls of each into my Private Stock of sock yarns. There was this old black & white movie on the Turner Channel the other day & someone was knitting . . . I couldn't stand it & cast on another pair of the pink Kroy socks. These ones are for me this time. I'm knitting them on my bamboo skewer needles - the ones that I made - in 2.5mm. Kroy knits better with a slightly larger needle, I usually use 2mm with the thinner sock yarns, but Kroy is thicker & works better with the 2.5s. I do have a lot of socks but I notice a lot of them are getting really thin - they should after being worn & washed every couple of weeks for 5 to 10 years . . . Some of them like my purple Regia socks, ARE 10 years old. The first socks I knitted when I moved into my basement were Regia in purple stripes & a pair in rainbow stripes. And the red & blue Invicta socks which have felted somewhat & recently worn a hole in one toe. There was less nylon in the older yarns so we often reinforced the heels & toes but we sure don't have to do that anymore.

Of course, I'm not even talking about the socks-on-the-go that always ride in the car with me. Diehards always have a pair in the car for those 'waiting' emergencies!! Like when you drop off the Man to an appointment & he doesn't have a cell phone so you wait in the parking lot until he reappears. Or you arrived on time for your own appointment but the Doctor's running behind. Or waiting for Really Long Trains like the one in Langley. My current car socks are pale grey Regia in the Jet Set series. The yarn kinda fades from medium barber-pole to very light barber-pole & back again. Dull but manly. A special request from my Motorcycle School boss. It's taken him years - I've worked there part time for over 20 years - to notice I knit socks. He might even get a pair in blue to go with them!

I haven't cast on for my new sweater yet but I think it will be the Poncho Pullover from the Cabin Fever Girls. I also really like the Medocino Sweater & have already purchased it but I prefer the easy wear & the casual look of the Poncho Pullover for every day. I just have to figure out which yarn I'll use because it's a bit too cool out there for my fleece jackets!! I think the Poncho will make it easier to sit outside in the cold when I go to Starbucks. They 'remodeled" & the new chair are a pain in the butt, literally. They're the metal version of the Ice Cream Parlor chair & very uncomfortable. The outside chairs have always been nice to sit on - the only problem is the smoothness so you tend to slide but they're comfortable. And I can feed the little birds!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Just Bitching

Today is a bitching day. For the third time in less than two weeks, I've had to disconnect a dog from a mouse trap. This isn't the 'hurtful' kind of trap that springs shut & breaks something but is, instead, one of those sticky monstrosities that an attached creature can't get out of when he gets stuck. It's a little rectangle of goop about a quarter of an inch deep that lurks in corners or by back doors where rodents might travel. But sometimes dogs travel in those places too. Especially little dogs. As stated before, I spend a lot of time in a basement office with three little dogs, Barksalot, Whinesalot & Eatstoomuchpaper. One is a toy poodle & the other two are maltipoos. One of the Maltis looks like a poodle & the other is very definitely a Holy Terrier. Eatstoomuchpaper, who looks like a terrier, is my personal fav. He's the bad boy who loves to go outside where he runs & runs & runs. He shakes floppy wet toys until his whole head is wet. And he chews all the squeaks out of everything else. He's a tough little bugger. He loves to wrestle, dig & fight. He nips the other dogs & pulls their facial hair to try to dominate them until he gets a boot in the butt. He steals all the bones if the others don't guard theirs closely. And he's just so damn cute. He's also so active that he has to be first all the time & that's why he keeps getting stuck on the mouse traps when we head outside. At least you can throw away the trap if the mouse gets stuck but prying a small, active pooch off the trap is almost impossible by yourself. Bad enough that they have to be there for mice! But guess why these ones are all over the place??? There are NO mice. Oh no. Those sticky bombs are there to trap spiders.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Touques have left the building . . .

The touques & socks have gone to new homes! And I got three giant balls of some sort of yarn - none of them the same color of course - towards the next batch. But, I'm not gonna think about HATS anymore, I'm thinking about those Squares instead. The nice thing about a square is that you can make a whole lot of things with it. You might nee
d a triangle here or there or need to crochet a little, but essentially, you can use squares to make just about anything. I've even seen socks made out of squares!!! Not that I'm thinking about anything other than blankets though!! Blankets are great. One size fits most. If it's too small - just add a couple more squares! If it's too big, hey - you kidding?? A blanket is never too big . . . They provide somewhere to hide. And somewhere to cuddle with your honey. And bring a sense of security. And colors that nature never meant to be together - they just WORK in a blanket! Leftovers work with new yarns. They can be knitted, crocheted, woven or sewed, cheap or expensive, pink or blue or some ungodly hue, but blankets are forever.

Back in the early 80s, my man of the decade traded a Mustang with a great pai
nt job for 4 gold claims in Atlin, BC. He had the Fever soooo bad . . . he was told he could only stake 2 in his name so I gave permission for him to stake 2 in mine as well. He had to tramp into the bush to find the corner posts & put our tags on them & register them in town. Since he was going to do this while traveling to work a Placer mine in the Yukon for the summer & leaving in April, I decided to make him a wool blanket. I'd been spinning up some local dark grey fleece - probably Romney - & had crocheted several nice squares with the intention of making a blanket for the couch. Instead, I put the finished squares together & crocheted around them until the blanket almost fit a queen-sized bed. It weighed a ton!! We argued over that blanket. He refused to take it. He said it was too heavy. And people would laugh. He didn't want to get it dirty. He said he had an arctic sleeping bag. He found all kinds of reasons not to take it. But, at the last minute, he found room for it just to shut me up. I'm sure he saw Death in my eyes when I told him it better come back with him 'cause I just knew he would toss it off the truck the first chance he got . . . He called several weeks later & thanked me for making him take that blanket. Seems he just about froze that first night in Atlin in the tent until he remembered that unwanted blanket on the truck. 'Arctic' in Vancouver apparently doesn't mean the same as 'Arctic' on the Yukon/ BC border in April.

Over the years, I've crocheted a lot of blankets for other people. Usuall
y they're the ubiquitous Granny Square or a version of it. Since I hate to sew things together, I often make ONE GIANT Granny square like the blue one or sew three Granny Squares in a strip & then crochet around them in one giant rectangle. I even have one Giant Granny on the back of my couch - first thing I made when I moved into my basement! It's in multiple rainbow shades using all the balls I could find in the Thrift Shops at the time. It's the sort of thing I've often made to cheer up newly Single friends in their empty apartments. I also knit blankets. My favorite is this Log Cabin construction created so I didn't have to do any sewing. I knit a big rectangle, cast off, turn it 90 degrees, pick up the stitches along one of the long sides & knit until my yarn runs out or I get tired of that color & cast off. Then I turn it 90 degrees, pick up stitches along that side & knit again. I keep knitting & turning & knitting until the blanket is the size I want. The blocks kind of spiral out from the middle, building one on top of the other. I often crochet around the entire outside edge in a solid color to finish it off. One big, wild, snuggly, blanket. No sewing.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

So it was kind of a crappy weekend for me. I stayed home the whole time, made a big pot of Italian Soup & stayed in my housecoat!! While contemplating whether I'd ever see my navel again, I kept on knitting touques. I now have 17 finished & 1 still on the needles. At this rate, I think I'll go for a personal best & knit 20 before the weekend when I'll drop them off!! I actually found some 'manly' yarn in blue, green & black - there was some red & some rust but not enough to work with - so I thought I'd better use it up in a good cause - head coverings! I know they don't look like much but they come down over the ears, they're nice & stretchy & feel good on! The afghan of squares will just have to wait till later. I may finish it up over the Holidays while watching all the OLD MOVIES on the tube. 'It's a Wonderful Life' in the original black & white was on this past weekend. You just know we're getting close when they start running that one!!

And just so you don't think I'm stuck in a rut - I made a batch of soap too! I have my favorite soap molds which are rounded to fit in my hand in the shower. I'm not fond of square or rectangular bars but I do like the shape of the DOVE bar. So I make mine curved on one side to fit the hand & flat on the other to sit in the soap dish. I love my Beehive & Lady Bug molds which I tend to use almost exclusively. Once upon a time, I made soap from Beef Tallow or a mix of olive & coconut oils & Gillett's Flaked Lye. I used the recipe out of the Reader's Digest "Back to Basics" book. I let my soap almost set & rolled it into balls which I flattened on one side removing most of my fingerprints in the process.

Then I found Voyageur Soap & Candle Company & my soap life changed forever! I'm lazy these days, I use a soap mold & buy my oils in bottles, premeasured & premixed. The lye is also premeasured for the mixture of oils. The nice part of all this is that I can get several kinds of blends that would cost a fortune to mix myself from bulk stock for a fraction of the cost. A couple of times a year I stock up & that's it.
Soaping is a lot of fun but when you make it from scratch with lye, it has to "AGE" for at least 2 weeks so that the lye stops working. I prefer to age it for 4 weeks so that I don't inadvertently give myself another facial 'PEEL' like the one I gave myself with two week old soap!! It should "AGE" for a couple more months so it lasts longer in the shower too. My soap sits atop the drying rack for a couple of weeks & then goes into an airy wicker basket to harden for several more months.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Another Grey Day

I woke up feeling a little achy & grouchy this morning. Even the weather was kind of grey & grouchy looking . . . no sparkle, no pizzazz! It's probably Touque Disease. I'm knitting them in my dreams.
So, I decided to knit 3 more touques - that'll make 15 hats & 6 pairs of socks all together for charity - and then it's time to move on to something else this year!

It's also time to knit something for me. I have several options in the stash that would work. I bought enough baby blue & navy ETON yarn - this picture sucks - several years ago to knit Jared Flood's 'Cobblestone Pullover' for the BT. I really, really wanted to knit that sweater but the BT decided he wanted something with a deep V neck instead.The yarn went into the stash to marinate & I never found a pattern. I know, I know - I sure take a lousy picture!!!
Then I bought a whole bunch of Briggs & Little yarn out of a SALE bin at Knitopia - my favorite knitspot. It was in all kinds of blues in both sport & worsted weights. I also picked up one skein of bright red - for a little interest! I thought I might knit an Adult Surprise Jacket so the weight difference wouldn't matter but it was summer at the time so the yarn went into the stash to marinate with some left over skeins of Briggs & Little's Anniversary yarn in two-toned blue. It would all work together when it came time to knit the ASJ for moi!! Of course, another sale came along a year or so later & I bought some lovely Nashua 'IVY' in plum & hot pink for another sweater that caught my eye. Isn't it pretty??? I often open the bag & just squeeze it a couple of times!! And then there's a sweater's worth of Dalesman yarn in Fuchsia - same shade as that IVY - that I bought a skein at a time over several years because I couldn't afford it all at once. I ended up buying enough for TWO sweaters by the time I was done & even knit one - the Moss Stitch Blazer - from the Big Knits book. But there's leftovers crying to be used.

The Poncho Pullover by the Cabin Fever Girls, caught my eye & I just had to have it. It's
worked from the neck down just like any Poncho but it divides for sleeves while leaving the front & back to dip into a deep V. With some fringe it would look very Western. It's so simple I don't know why I didn't think of it before I saw it on paper. I really want to knit the Poncho Pullover & I'd love to make it in the Nashua or the Eton but I suspect they're way too thin & I don't have enough to double up. I suppose the Poncho will have to be made with the Briggs & Little basket of Blues or the Dalesman yarn instead. If that happens, I have plans for the Nashua sometime this winter. There's at least two sweaters in the Winter Knitter's that're also calling my name!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Turning out Touques - part 2

As advertised in a previous post, almost a touque an evening! I can't knit as fast or as comfortably when sitting outside at Starbucks like I did last night with my buddy Steve. Why were we outside at night, you ask?? Well, a large transformer melted down in Steve's neighborhood & superheated three blocks of wiring. His landlord was on the way home from work when it happened & said the wiring suddenly glowed like red hot streaks, the transformer went "POP" and everything fell to the ground setting off a major brush & grass fire. And blacked out the whole area, of course. Everyone, who wasn't blocked in by fire & hydro trucks, met at Starbucks to keep warm & drink deeply of hot seasonal coffees. We had no choice by the time we got there & had to sit outside on the cool but comfy chairs while everyone waited to go home to light & heat.

I continued working on the latest head topper until my fingers got too cold - it's impossible for me to work in gloves!! I have 11 at last count!! After taking this picture, I realized that most of my hats are kind of 'girly' - it's the yarn I suppose - but I think I better dig a little deeper in the bin to see if there's any 'manly' yarn buried in the bottom!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Turning out Touques

So I'm cranking out a touque pretty much every evening right now. I've discovered that two strands of the donated yarn on a size 5mm needle in K2,P2 will produce a fast, comfy head warmer that should suit either sex nicely. Did you know that you lose 30% of your body heat through your scalp??? I shudder to think about all those men who shave their heads - even in the winter!! My cohort at the Motorcycle School shaves his head even when he's growing his November moustache for Prostate Cancer. At least he has a choice in his head covering. A lot of people with chronic disease who have thin, thinning or little hair due to disease, medication or poor diet have no choice. So a nice warm touque is important. This year I'm aiming to warm up a half dozen heads & toes & provide touques alone for at least another half dozen heads. Next year, I'll be able to warm the heads & toes of at least a dozen people all by myself.

And then there's all those 10" squares my Knitting Group was working on a few years back. I enjoy knitting squares & still crank out a few now & then. But the worst part of squares is sewing them all together. I hate sewing things together so they get stuffed back into a bin. I'm a starter not a finisher. Unfortunately, I can see them through the sheer side of the bin. And someone out there needs those squares sewed together so they'll get put together somehow for this Christmas. I think they would work with a quick crochet around each square in black or navy to make those colors pop before crocheting them together. Just think about the explosion of color when someone opens that parcel! Ha Ha

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I have HEAT

Not to be melodramatic or anything but I HAVE HEAT. Not only that, but I have HEAT in less than FIVE, yup, FIVE minutes! Not to be sneezed at this week in the minus temps that we're having!!! It's pretty damned hard to clear the windshield in the morning without heat since vans are a little too tall to scrape with any satisfaction & scraping on a slippery drive is how I fell this time last year & dislocated my left wrist!!! THIS year, I get into the van, turn on the wiper defroster & blast the window with air on high while I read & drink a tea for a couple of minutes.

I decided once my snow tires
were put on that I should have the whole system properly winterized since I don't know how my new-to-me van has been treated in the past. Without my mechanic of 30+ years, I'm o
n my own. So I went off to Mr Lube & went for the works. I wanted all the filters - including fuel - changed, oil changed, tranny flushed, anti-freeze replaced, hoses & belts checked. It was ugly in there!! They degunked. They cleaned. They checked EVERYTHING. The fuel filter was original from the factory!! OMG. It appeared the tranny had never been flushed. I knew the oil was bad even though it's only been just a bit under 5000 miles since the last change. I wondered if they even changed the filter at all!! Typical. But, now everything works just fine!! And I got them to disconnect the battery once more while I reset the system. Holy Crap. Everything works like clockwork. I just have to get another part time job to pay for it!!!

Since I spent money I didn't have on the Van this year, I'll be staying at home this holiday season - like I bother to celebrate anyway - & knitting up a whole bunch of this 'FREE' yarn I got from Lynne at Knitopia - a snug little yarn shop around the corner from the Buy Low in White Rock, BC. I've been cranking out hoodies for the Boomer project for the last couple of years but that project is ending so Lynne found a new Charity. She says the folks down at A Loving Spoonful - they provide nutrition support to people with AIDS in Vancouver - are seriously asking for donations for adults. Touques are the biggie on the wish list this year!! I've been knitting socks but when I finish the current pair - I've turned the heels on them - I'll crank out touques from now on. Why??? Well, I have two 135 litre bins full of donation yarn that I'd like to replace with a comfy recliner . . . Are ya listening Santa??? Make it BIG, SOFT & with side pockets for my junk . . . And unknitted yarn is wasted yarn when folks out there are cold.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just a Pair of Cuffs

I replaced the battery in my van. You just know when you buy a new-to-you vehicle that they're gonna put the oldest battery in the joint in your New Baby. Surprisingly, it lasted almost a year! I always knew I had to replace it & had plans to do so with the pre-winter tune-up but it died before my appointment. Typical! But when the battery died, the air conditioning/heating/defrosting/wiping module - ya gotta bless the old modular system of doing things - reverted to some factory reset. All the lights flashed all the time. The air conditioning became dominant. And no one knew how to fix it. "You can bring it in & we'll take a look" they say. Yeah, right. We all know that means $200 to mess around & it'll still flash! I didn't fall off the truck yesterday you know.

I discovered this is a common problem when batteries are replaced in the Caravan/Voyager series. Grand Caravan owners on down to cheapo 1990 Voyagers all have the same problem if they have air conditioning. Most mechanics & shops haven't a clue what to do. They tell you it will reset in 15 minutes by itself. Lies!! The lights still flash & make you crazy for 15 minutes every time you restart the car. It never permanently resets. People have bought new control modules, rewired things, installed new air conditioning & paid out hundreds of
dollars for "Servicing". One woman just duct taped over the lights!! Apparently, all it takes is pushing buttons in the right sequence to reset the whole system. A nice mechanic in Chilliwack solved the problem & put it on the net. The solution doesn't always work for everyone the first time, sometimes you have to reset it several times! And sometimes, you still have two blinking buttons that you have to live with. But it's better than 7 blinking buttons & no heat!!!

And what has all this to do with cuffs you ask??
Well, without the button solution I had a mixture of heat & air all the time. Yeah, the buttons stopped flashing after 15 minutes but the air never actu
ally shut down so I had a cold draft up top with heat underneath. And those damned flashing buttons. So I used the sequence to reset the whole thing. The first reset gave me heat on command but 2 buttons kept on flashing. I just couldn't leave well enough alone so I had to fiddle with it until ALL the buttons went off. And now, I don't have ANY heat for the first 15 minutes every morning. When I do get heat it's a mixture of heat & air or it fluctuates between the two. If it was summer, who cares but it's winter dammit or the start of winter. And I have to keep not only myself defrosted in the morning but my windshield as well & keep it that way too.
I'm freezing. My hands are cold & that air conditioning goes right up the sleeves of my jacket. A light bulb came on & I dropped everything to knit a pair of silk & merino cuffs to wear under my jacket. They work a treat!! And I love them. The heat is isn't fixed but by gawd, I'm a hellova lot warmer!!!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Still Crazy with Knitting

I've turned both heels on the latest orange socks & I'm just about to the toe shaping. This was yesterday's picture but you get the idea! They should be finished this weekend & hopefully, the grey socks will have their heels turned by then too. I have time to churn out another pair of 'manly' socks before the end of the month for sure & maybe even another if I have an extra week - we'll see. Trying to make a living beating on a keyboard & still churn out as many pairs of socks as I can for Christmas is a bit of a tear. Next year, I'll be knitting a pair a month & tossing them into the 'Basket'.

When the BT was still around, I used to knit at least 8 pairs of socks a year for birthday's, Christmas & the Parent's Anniversary. You know how these things work, once you find the 'Perfect Gift' you stay with it until you find something better. They all loved socks so I just knit all the time & tossed the result in the 'Basket'. I bought cards that caught my eye at the Dollar Store & tossed them into the 'Basket' too. When something significant came up, I shopped in the basket. One stop shopping, that's my motto.

Since they were removed from the Gift List, I've been filling my own sock basket. I had the flu & it dragged on so long that I didn't do any laundry until I ran out of socks. To my surprise, when I pulled them out of the washer & hung them up - well, I had 28 pairs of socks on the hangers. And that didn't include the short summer socks that were tucked away till next year. TWENTY EIGHT!! That's a heck of a lot of socks for one person! No wonder I've only had one toe wear out in the last 11 years of sock making! Perhaps it's time to just fill someone else's basket with socks instead.
A NEW BASKET, something interesting that can sit out on my coffee table all year long & just collect warm socks & hats.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Knittin as fast as I can!

Those orange socks are now history! And I've got another pair of orange socks on the needles already. I scored
another 5 balls from Karen so I can knit the next two pairs with larger feet. I sure hope there's a couple of fellas out there who'll like these for Christmas!! For the more conservative fella, I've dug out some nice greyish Regia. Got a terrific deal on this yarn too - can you say TWO BUCKS A BALL??? I bought it to make socks for my Ex who has terrible feet & feels cold all the time now that he's on that damned heart medication. But he's also developed sensitive feet - can't say if it's side effect or not. I have to knit his socks on my 2mm needles now & it takes forever to knit size 13WWWW socks. And, with some yarns, even turning them inside out sometimes doesn't make them bearable so he's back in machine knit socks & I have all this grey & blue yarn I bought for him . . . oh well, into the Sock Donation Basket with it!! And at this time of year, I have a sock bag everywhere I go.

I finally gave in & brought the Jade Plant & the two Cacti in from under the patio table on Hallowe'en night. I figured if I didn't, they'd freeze out there since we're in the low single digits at night these days. Geeze, that reminds me, the Spider is still out there!! Oooops! But anyway, the Cacti was so grateful to be brought inside that it started setting buds!! One of these is supposed to be a Christmas Cactus & the other, an Easter Cactus!!! And the cuttings I chopped from it's abundant self in the spring are also setting buds & they're still in the jar of water on the window sill!! It has something to do with the periods of darkness. My mother used to tell me that they set buds only when they got 12 hours of darkness. But what about the Easter Cactus?? Oh well, I guess it's just 'Shut up & Enjoy' time.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Kicked in the Ass Again

Woke up on Friday with the second half of this neverending virus. This time it's the headcold part. Felt like a brick building fell on me squeezing all the fluid to pressurize my head. The old eyeballs felt like they were popping out & the lower body just kind of wobbled. Took drugs & went back from whence I came. Slept when I wasn't upright & dazed in front of the Home & Garden channel with a big cup of hot lemonade. Did the same on Saturday. Today I'm wondering if I'll be able to pay the credit card at this rate . . . Bryan, I hate your kid!!!

Even though I was dazed, snuffling & wheezing, I am incapable of sitting in front of the tube without doing something other than zoning out - even when I'm semi-conscious. So I knit. I can't help myself. That orangey brown Kroy was sitting there staring at me. As if I don't have at least 30 balls of Other Sock Yarn laying about & at least one other sock on the needles! But I love the bright & wild stuff. It knits up faster. Yeah, I know it's all in my head but I think it's the excitement of finding out what the colors turn into that makes it go faster. And I wondered if this sock would turn out well. It was dark & muddy in the beginning with the colors blending together but I kept on knitting. Then that bright orange showed up & got in the mix and WOW. This sock doesn't seem to have the clear pattern the pink socks have, the colors tend to blend more but that shot of orange in there reminds me of a Southwestern Sunset. Aren't they grand??!! They'll probably go into my Donation Basket for Loving Spoonful but I sure enjoyed making them. And I wish I had 100 more balls of KROY.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Some Fun on a Gloomy Day in October

The sun was out & the sky was blue
all week & part of last weekend so I guess I can't really whine about the change in the weather too much but geeze, Weather Gods, ya didn't give us as much sunshine as we normally get in August & September after that cool summer so the lea
st you could do is throw a few more sunny scraps our way. I mean, what did we DO to deserve all this doom & gloom??? So, in order to brighten up my somewhat gloomy life - that damned virus my little buddy Bryan shared with me is STILL hanging in there - I had to knit something wild & crazy. TA DA

Yes, that's my messy desk in the background. I spend a good part of every day pounding on that keyboard & sorting through all that paper in order to afford my addictions! But, to hell with work at the moment. Aren't those socks glorious?? And FUN? They're made from the 79 cent a ball Patons Kroy that Karen found. Kroy is a little thicker than most sock yarns today so I knit it up on my 2.5mm bamboo skewer needles that I made!! After the first few inches, I wondered if I'd have enough yarn to finish them & compromised by making them a little
shorter than my usual winter sock, they're about 4 inches to the start of the heel including the 2 inches of ribbing. So, I guess that makes them officially Ankle Socks. Since I wear pants all winter - fleece lined ones when it gets really chilly!! - they'll be hidden away unless I take my shoes off. When I look at these I wish I had a pair of those see thru plastic boots everyone was buying a few years back to show off their socks.

And how much yarn did I end up using?? You can see I made it through to the toe but THIS is what's left. Not a lot. Not even enough to do a toe in another pair of socks. Good thing I didn't want a regular pair of Winter Socks. I wear an 8 to 9 women's shoe & would need 3 balls of Kroy to make a pair any longer or use my usual 2mm sock needles. But at 79 cents a ball?? Well . . . . who cares! I'm wishing I'd bought a few more balls of this color but when it comes to sock yarn I'm a bit of a slut. I can fall in love with almost anything if there's pink or purple in it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I'm Gonna Sound Like a Commercial

I am so in LOVE with the new Knitters magazine! I don't think I've seen one in a long time where I've wanted to knit so many things in the issue. Round yoke sweaters seem to have made a comeback this year - either top down as in the Ribbon-o-Round sweater or bottom up as in the Artichoke Twist! I think both of them are Up Sizable - especially the Ribbon-o-Round which you can try on as you go. I think Round yoke sweaters are very forgiving of a few more stitches & quite simple to make. Knitters has put several into the new issue which really excite me. I also love the silk lace Top Down jackets & Harvest Jewels, a Fair Isle inspired sweater!! There's even a sideways knitted Kimono style jacket!! I'm not impressed with the cover sweaters - they look silly to me & a fringed(not sure who would wear that!) skirt but all in all, a great issue!! The best part of all is that the price is the same whether you buy in the US or Canada. Yeah . . . Knitters!! I no longer buy the competition because of the blatant difference in price EVEN WHEN OUR DOLLAR IS AT PAR OR MORE!!

I really want to make the Ribbon-o-Round & the Artichoke Twist. I think someone on Ravelry is organizing or at least talking about a KAL for the Artichoke Twist. I have some Eton in a Robin Egg blue & Navy - I had planned on knitting Jared Flood's Round Neck men's sweater published in Interweave Knitting several years ago for the BT. But I think the Eton would work well for Ribbon-o-Round. Mind you, I have tons of Briggs & Little Anniversary yarn - a worsted two shade barber-pole of blue - too. I could make a true WINTER sweater out of the Artichoke Twist if I knit it up in the B&G!! Or, come to think of it, I have some Fuchsia Dalesman's Wool from New Zealand in the stash . . . Sooooo many patterns & soooooo little time!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Baby It's COLD in Here!!

I love the blue sky & sunny days but geeze, it sure got COLD allova sudden!! And damp. And I've been hacking
& wheezing with SOMETHING that doesn't quite make you sick enough to stay in bed but keeps you feeling achey, sneezy, wheezy, congested & sleepy. No ambition at all. And I keep seeking warm places like my car in the sunshine. Definitely WOOL Weather.

In self defense, I cast on another pair of socks.
I shared in a Pa
tons Kroy sock yarn windfall. We only had two colorways, but at 79 cents a 50gm ball??? Hey, where do I pay?? Kroy, if you haven't used it, is thicker than the usual sock yarn & it has about 30% less yardage in a 50 gm ball. I haven't used it in some time so I'm not sure if there will be enough in a ball to finish my sock - I'm using 2.5mm needles. If there isn't, it'll be close & I can easily knit the toe out of anything else. These aren't quite as long as my usual winter socks but they're still well above the ankle. They'll fit size 8 - 9 easily - just MY size - and I'll appreciate the nice thick sock when it really gets cold! When I bought the yarn, I was going to make socks for Christmas baskets but I'm keeping these ones because they're my colors!!!

This week it was warm & sunny enough on my patio one afternoon so I hauled out the old Indian Spinner & spent a couple of nice hours spinning up some more of the Brown Sheep mill ends that never seem to end. Every time I think I've spun up the last bit - well - I find another bag with a couple of 'bumps' in it. And that doesn't include all the wo
ol/mohair blend mill ends that came in the same bag about 6 years ago. I have plans for this wool if I ever get the rest of it spun up. I want to dye all the skeins at the same time so they'll WORK together. You know how awkward things look when you have to work in a couple of skeins at the end that aren't quite right??? Well, I AM determined to do all the dyeing at the same time so they'll at least be related enough to work in the same pattern. Still slobbering over Knitted Kimonos & unless I find something so totally wondrous that I have to drop all else to make it, this wool will be a Kimono style sweater.

Has anyone seen the Fall Knitter's?? There's a terrific sweater called Artichoke Twist in there which is knitted from the bottom up, the sleeves are knitted & added to the body & then everything is knitted in one piece to make the yoke. I like sweaters like this because there's minimal sewing & it can be mostly done on a circular needle.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Progress Report

Haven't been doing much since my eyes close when I sit down these days! It's either a virus or the change in the weather - depending on who you talk to. But, I have finished a few touques!!

My little 50 gm balls of sport weight wool knitted up to snug caps that will keep heads warm. I just cast on 100 stitches & knit in K2P2 ribbing until it was almost used up. I did a row of P2 tog, then 2 rows of K2, P1. Then a row of K2tog, P1 & two rows of K1 P1. Finally, a row of K2tog & sewed it into a ring at the top. Simple. Neat. And they fit an adult head.

On the circs - a simple ankle sock. I have one pair in the basket & this one on the needles. If time permits, I'll add a couple more pairs to the Donations. Or maybe some simple mittens from the pattern Karen shared with me. She found a top down FREE pattern that lets you knit mittens to fit any size from any yarn

Sunday, September 25, 2011

And the Moving Finger Moves On . . .

Time keeps marching on too! Only last week I put gas in the Beast, checked the glop that used to be oil & made plans to do a little maintenance on the old thing before winter. Since the battery posts were white & I couldn't find the date anywhere, I figured my next paycheque would not only get it some oil & fill up the fluids but replace the battery as well, sigh. But then, it died as I tried to beat the rain home yesterday from work. Thank Gawd for BCAA! And there goes my spare money once again.

Since my finances - such as they are - have been set back by mechanical repairs yet again, I guess my social life will be restricted to hanging out with my knitting needles this winter. Nothing like
a little kick in the pocketbook to get you started on the Christmas Donations! So, I cast on for a hat. Just a simple, ribbed hat suitable for either sex when it's cold outside. I found four balls of wool in the donated stash - WOOL - but in four different colors! And about the only thing you can make with one 50 gram ball of Sport weight yarn is wrist warmers, fingerless gloves & a small hat. Don't let the picture fool you, there's 84 stitches on those wooden needles & it will expand to fit an adult head. This was the only set of DPs I had in a size that would work with the yarn - 4mm - so I went with them since I wasn't sure how far the yarn would go. I'm pretty sure this hat will be large enough for an adult head but when I make the next one, I'll use circs instead in a 6 or 8mm to make a bigger, fluffier hat. The ribbing keeps it nice & stretchy & I'm sure there's plenty in each ball to make a good sized hat. And I'll be making it again in Wine, Brown & light Grey. Wooohooo!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Where Does the Time Go??

I finished the latest pair of socks & actually took a photo before they wound up on feet - MINE! Like I don't have at least three pairs of blue socks in the basket . . . but I liked this colorway & saved it for myself a long time ago. Fabel by Garn Studios. I think I like their yarn even better than the old Confetti black & blue speckled yarns that I bought by the dozen for you know who. This time around they're all MINE, MINE, MINE! well, except for the socks I volunteered to knit for the Christmas Hampers . . . Scarves & hats are just so damned boring.

So, I'm trying to knit as many pairs as I can before Christmas. And sew all those squares together for a couple of blankets - Oh, Girls . . . .

Monday, September 05, 2011

Happy Labor Day

I know it's a Stat but I've got work on my desk! Apparently so do a lot of us on this Labor Holiday. I know the Unions fought tooth & nail for the benefits
that most of us enjoy when we go to work but those benefits only apply to "employees". And Honey, that ain't me. Oh, I enjoy the 'freedom' of choosing who I labor for, when I go to labor, how much I will labor for & how long I will labor. Sounds great?? Well, not always! Sometimes the Self Employed labor far longer for far less in far weirder circumstances than an Employee could ever imagine. But today, it may not come to that. I suffered in sauna conditions yesterday - even put my bare feet on the warehouse cement floor to cool off because it was so hot. Today I should be in the basement office pounding on the computer but I think I'll sneak off to Starbucks & listen to a book on my new-to-me IPOD. Yes, I've been seduced by the Dark Side.

My Buddy Steve gave me an IPOD MINI for Christmas. It's a little one inch square gizmo that clips onto your collar. I love it. It stops & starts at a touch - gr
eat if you're working in an office & need to answer the phone or talk to someone occasionally. Great for music or audio books. UNLESS you get very long books with very long chapters because the gizmo goes back to the beginning of the song, chapter etc when you turn it off or pause it. I spent two whole days listening to the same chapter beginning over & over again. And when it came time to change to a new part of the Book - long books are broken into multiple parts for ease of download - I couldn't tell if I was going forward to a new part of the book, back to the beginning of the last or another piece that had loaded out of sequence . . . that was IT for me! My Creative device packed it in a couple of weeks ago so I'm left with the Mini. Steve took pity on me & gave me his old IPOD. It's a First Gen - not exactly sure what that means other than it was the first - & has a cracked screen. The screen has been cracked for a very long time but he used it anyway until one of his buddies gave HIM a new Fourth Gen IPOD. Tech guys!! But it's mine if I decide to keep it & we think we can even get a new screen. Steve's been trying to get me into IPOD for a couple of years now but I've dug in my heels because I refuse to pay for the NAME. I mean, I can get an Insignia or Creative which will hold exactly the same data & do the same thing for less than half the price!! Will people beat you up on the street for your Insignia?? Not likely. They will for your IPOD.

Meanwhile, back to Socks & Stuff. The blue Garn Studio socks still don't have their heels turned. I've been where I can work on them without enough light to see what I'm doing or been where there's tons of light but too many conversations going on to concentrate on the short rows!

I have been messing with a sample ball of Berroco Geode. It's a mix of mohair, silk & wool in winey colors that morph from a very reddish wine to a deep bluey wine color. I loved it at first feel but apparently it's discontinued so the only thing I could do when I'd finished fondling it was to make some fingerless gloves! One is finished but I'm not liking it much - I have to do something else with the thumb shaping . . .

And - I was cleaning up my kitchen counters - especially the corner with the tea caddies, pasta can & oil bottle - only to find the lone survivor of the last soap making kit I bought. One bottle of mixed Super Moisturizing oils & it's partner, 70 gms of flaked lye! I like to make my own soaps. I started doing so when I got married because he was even more sensitive than me & couldn't use detergent bars at all. I got out the old Reader's Digest 'Back to Basics' book & made my own. I used Gillet's flaked lye
& Beef Tallow from Safeway when I first started. But I discovered cheap olive oil, coconut oil etc & began to experiment. Lard is too soft to make good soap & beef tallow is almost impossible to come by. Crisco is no good. The best oils I've found are a combination of olive/coconut/Vitamin E oil & avocado oil. I bought my oils in several different ethnic markets at first. When I found Voyageur Soap & Candle Company, I thought I'd died & gone to soap heaven. Everything can be bought in bulk, in kits or small containers. I like the kits because the mixtures of oils are wonderful, they're premeasured & make FOUR pounds of soap. So, after the History & the Commercial, TaDa 6 new bars!

I like large soaps that still fit comfortably in my hand. I always liked the shape of the Dove bar so I found Bee Hives & LadyBugs which are flat on the bottom & curved to fit your hand. This is a super moisturinzing bar scented with bitter almond. It lather's beautifully even in very hard water like that in Saskatchewan. I'll be letting it air dry for at least a couple of months so that it hardens up & lasts longer. I have three more kits of Coco Butter Soap to make up - gifted to me by someone who 'doesn't have the time' anymore.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Not even a picture to show

I got the call on Tuesday at bedtime! The local fishermen got a two hour opening & there were fish on ice for me. I could pick them up in the morning after they were unloaded & cleaned! Since I had to work on Wednesday, I picked them up on my way home, still packed in shaved ice!! Once I got my hands in the fish, all I could think about was cutting them up, shrink wrapping them & filling up the freezer. I never thought to take a picture until it was all safe in the freezer!! Sockeye are gorgeous fish! Mine were that wonderful, bright orangey-red color under sparkly silvered scales. When cooked, they still retained that rich bright orange color & glorious salmon taste that simple cooking enhances. I simply fried my steaks up on low/medium in my non stick pan & ate them with a squeeze of lime & a romaine salad. The richest person on earth could not've had a better supper!!

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Separated Arrangement

My Ex is talking about ordering Meals on Wheels. He's 73 & hates cooking & shopping. He's really fit but just about killed himself hauling & chopping wood & then spent two days barely able to move last week. There was nothing in the fridge to eat
& he got mighty hungry. How hard is it to stock eggs, bread, TV dinners & canned soup?? Even I have a couple of cans of ready-to-eat soup in the cupboard! After laughing out loud, I suggested I might have to move back in. That led to a serious discussion - it might even work, I wouldn't have to pay rent & he would get fed. A simple trade. The thought of that cozy wood stove with a steaming kettle & burbling soup pot in the middle of winter when I usually freeze in my basement - well, it's kind of enticing. And a full size washer/dryer! Room in the garage for my freezer. It's a pretty small house mind you, but most of my fibery stuff already lives in bins so it could easily go outside in the enclosed garage. But I want a big deck or porch on the front of the house where I can sit outside when it's warm & spin. He loves technology but can't make it work. I'm constantly reprogramming his remote & resetting his satellite console & MP3 player. I just don't understand how a man can get an MP3 player stuck on ONE book or loose the MENU option on his remote!! I'm thinking about it. Is my freedom worth about $1000 a month in savings?? Do I want to look after someone full time again?? I could get that damned bill paid off sooner & my credit card back to zero. My buddy Steve said "MOVE" & volunteered himself & our buddy Kelly. He says they'll put up shelves, install the office & have me moved in one afternoon. Quick. The boys at the Motorcycle School said the same. Something to think about, for sure.

Meanwhile, b
ack in Reality, I've cast on yet another pair of socks. These are for the Fall. I found a couple of balls of this Fabel sock yarn in the bin of yarn that I reserve for myself. I love these colors & they get even nicer as I knit. Fabel makes some really yummy colorways - I have it in pinks, plums & now, blues. I think I even have a pink/orange pair!! I bought this yarn at Knitopia when they were in Langley but I haven't had much chance to get down to the White Rock store to see if they still stock it. Pity. Nice yarn, great colors, good yardage!!

Oh, surprise!!! Arvik has reared her soft head once more in a new incarnation. I hope. I've been drooling over a certain sweater for years. I worked out the gauge a couple o
f times in a couple of yarns but it just wasn't right. The sweater was designed for Noro to show off it's long runs of color which morph into each other. Now, Arvik doesn't have long runs of color but it IS variegated since the fleece ranged in color from very light grey to almost black. It shows distinct banding when knit so I thought it might work. I'll just have to play with it & see if it comes out like I hope.