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!!