Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Winter Whites

A box arrived!  
A February, winter box of glorious whites arrives!  
Packages are such a treat, especially when they contain yarn.

 This stuff is so lovely, even the cats want to check it out! 
 Wishing I had draped my table in a darker tablecloth to showcase the yarn, but it is the season of winter whites, after all!
 Boots obliges the photographer with a yarny pose.
 Does that label say Angora Merino?
 It does!  Lion Brand has a collection of yarns only available by online order, which includes this Angora Merino blend.  80% extrafine merino, 20% angora.  I did tear into the package to fondle this little ball of fluff and it is soft and sweet.  It is part of the LB Collection.    An affordable decadence.

Even the yarn band is a treat to the eyes.  Soon, these will be on my needles and will adorn my mother's hands.  Those hands that have held me so gently through the years should definitely be cocooned in angora softness! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Changing my Perspective

February is upon us.  I've been dreading February for a couple of weeks now.  It's my longest, most difficult month.  Have spent the majority of my adult life in Arizona, I struggle with the deep, long heart of winter here in the Midwest, particularly the lack of sunshine and outdoor time.  I've given this dread a lot of thought the past few weeks.  I have decided that I need to refocus and celebrate February, just as I celebrate the other months of the year.  Time to bundle up and get out in the weather and glory in the beauty that is the deep, long heart of winter. Beauty can be found in green grass under bare toes, as well as crunchy snow under layers of wool socks and rugged boots.

It is because of the long, dark days of winter that we are so joyous when spring arrives.  It is during the long, dark days of winter that we enjoy the extra time to lounge, relax and pursue our indoor hobbies.  It is during the long, dark days of winter that our houses feel so warm and cozy and welcoming.  It is during the long, dark days of winter that I can cuddle up in The Disco Blanket all day long and read a good book without regret for chores not done.

Welcome, February!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

They're Now Mine

I know I promised you this post days before now, but the boy had a rather large homework project that required the computer and being the teacher that I am, there was no way I would kick him off the computer when he was completing required assignments!  Sorry you had to wait.  He received a nice grade for his efforts, but I'm afraid I have gotten a D for timeliness! 

 Susie's Reading Mitts, cast on as a project for mom.  Was intended as a stealth item, but while cruising around on Ravelry with her, she saw the pattern for them, and wowed over the lovely, white mitts with the pattern.  Of course, they were in angora so they had a gorgeous halo.  And she has a black and white winter coat.  It all made sense to order her some white angora/merino blend yarn.  (Yes, Mom, if you're reading, I'm using luxury angora/merino yarn on your mitts!!)   So, finished these for myself and just in time for another cold blast of winter.  I pulled them on over my driving gloves this week and it made going out into the cold worthwhile!   So warm, so cozy.  Love!  And they match Ingenue, as they were knit from the Cascade 220 leftover from that knit. 

 The boy was my photographer here.  We tried several artsy shots, but lost the purple color in each of those.  So we're opting for practical and realistic vs. artsy and inaccurate.
Had I cast on with the intention of knitting for me, I may have chosen the small.  These were knit medium.  There is a bit of extra room in with wrist, but I do have ridiculously tiny wrists.  Freakishly tiny.  (That bulge on the left is my watch).  But, it all worked out, as my driving gloves fit well under them.  
I also cast on five stitches when picking the thumb back up, and k2tog each row until only one extra stitch was left.  So glad I followed that modification that others were using on Ravelry.  No gap on thumb, and nice and roomy (but not too) to get gloves under and still unrestricted use of that opposable thumb of mine. 

While I wait the arrival of my package of yarny angora goodness, I cast on for a baby hat.  A young mother I know is having twin girls.  Following Itty Bitty Hats by Susan Anderson, Simple Baby Cap 2.  Plan to have shiny tulle emitting forth from the top.  As there are two baby girls on their way, another hat will be started immediately.  Heimo is a very cooperative model!
We have learned that he freezes when a hat is placed upon his head!

It's a bit girly for him, don't you think?

Monday, January 28, 2013


My man, the love of my life, is a handy, handy man!  A jack of all trades.  This has saved us a boatload of money through the years and continues to do so.  This weekend, he was headed to the nearest home improvement store for some wood with which to work on an ongoing household project of his.  He waffled back and forth about the cost and then inquired as to my opinion on the expense.  Here was my line of thinking:  he needs to be busy or becomes a bit, ahem, "dicky", (shall we say?); we were anticipating a freezing rain storm which would leave us housebound; two days in a house with no project to complete for a a restless man; and

during the freezing rain event
 I had just spent a little money ordering some angora yarn (contented sigh).  So I told him that I felt he absolutely should run to town and pick up the wood.  Besides, I said, I just spent a bit of money on my hobby, of course he should spend some on his.  He turned to me, smiled a great big smile, and said "My hobby benefits the house."  
(Insert pregnant pause here)  
(Perhaps a few more seconds of a pause).  
Don't take this wrong, please!  It was a joke and he is very supportive of my yarn acquisition and consumption.  There has been nary a word about the expense of my knitting ways.  
Shortly before this particular conversation, we were discussing what to do with the young one's room when he vacates the premises.  (It will be a few years yet, but parents can look forward to that, right?)  He was thinking an office space, which is a fine idea.  I mentioned that since he is handy (and has an awesome set of tools!) that perhaps he could fashion me a built-in for my yarn.  There issued forth from this man a heavy sigh, followed by "so this will be a craft room then?".  There was an even greater sigh on my part, after which I informed him "I KNIT.  I DO NOT DO CRAFTS.  BIG DIFFERENCE."  So, that's settled then!
Seriously, though, please don't think he is crabby or intolerant of my love of the yarn arts.  He is not at all.  
Look what he brought me the following morning from his convenience store run:
It's a doughnut!
 Sitting on my cake stand.  With a little plastic frog.
Tomorrow I will post what I accomplished this weekend whilst hobbying on my hobby which doesn't benefit the house.  Hee hee.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


 There are several blogs running a series called 52 weeks of happiness, wherein once a week they post about the moments of the week that have swelled their hearts and created gladness within.  I love this idea!  I love stopping to take note of grand and ordinary moments that make our lives joyful, peaceful and worth it all.  But I know myself.  I know that I will start this wonderful series and miss days and add stress to my life by making this blog, my outlet, my creative space, an assignment or chore.  I do not wish that upon myself!  So, having said that, I do vow to stop and observe those times in my life that make my heart sing.  This week was full of those moments.  Some grand, some not so grand, but great each and every one of them.

 Daddy's 70th birthday was this week.  I helped him celebrate twice!  The second time was a surprise, and I was the surprise.  Having traveled to see him last weekend, he was not expecting me on his actual birthday of Tuesday.  Immediately following work, I hopped into my Dart and darted his way.  Once in town, I picked up my brother and showed up on his doorstep.  He was completely surprised and tickled and thrilled.  He proclaimed it the best birthday ever! 
 Spending time with my parents always fills my heart with joy.  I gave up the splendor of Arizona for the closeness of my family and I don't regret it one minute.  I do miss Arizona, but do not wish to return and leave my family again.  So worth it to be here near them!

Whether we're chilling out watching t.v. and eating snacks, or traveling to Europe or hopping on a cruise, I love, love, love my time with them.  It doesn't have to be a grand adventure, to be grand.
My Hipstamatic has pleased me greatly (more so than it probably should?) this week.  Much experimenting has taken place and I will inundate this blog with those pics here soon, I feel!
Knitting has been a joy this week.  Several people have been the recipients of my hand-knits.  Each has been pleased.  That pleases the knitter!  Greatly! 

Dad had one kneewarmer left from his mother, who knit these for her youngest son, the outdoorsman and hunter many many years ago.  I took note of gauge and size and tried my best to duplicate.  I'm pretty sure dad was pleased with his new matching set.  I chose forest green to go with the original.  It was that or blue from my stash and I was afraid the blue might resemble too closely the colors of da Bears.  We are Packer backers in this family!  Specifications:  54 stitches, size 5 needles, knit in 1x1 ribbing to 6 1/2 inches then cast off.

This moment just made me giggle and as we all know, laughter is the best medicine!

Friday, January 18, 2013

FO Friday: Ingenue

 Finally!  It took nearly a year to get this beauty off of this needles, but it finally is.  Ingenue by Wendy Bernard from Custom Knits.  It has been cast off, ends woven in, blocked and in wearing rotation.  Wore it to work already and received several compliments on it.  I love the neck and the folded down seamed collar.  Followed this pattern to the letter. 
These pictures were taken after returning home from a full work day.  A work day during which it was worn.  That explains the wrinkled elbows.  The sweater lays nicely and has a good fit.  I made the medium (37 1/4) on size 8 needles using Cascade 220 in a nice grape purple.  Yarn bands nowhere to be found a year later, so my apologies on not having the dye lot or color group on this yarn.  This yarn was the first on my swift last Christmas!  The pattern was very clear and easy to follow.  I would definitely make another knit by Wendy Bernard!  My only complaint is that my neckline was not as wide as is in the original pattern, but I actually do appreciate that my neckline will be warmer for me here in Northern Illinois. 
 I also made the Brain Waves Beanie hat sometime in early winter.  As I look so goofy in hats, I thought I'd have Heimo model this one.  Those three pictures are three different pictures, taken in not-so-rapid succession.  Once I put the hat on him, he completely froze!  It was like he was paralyzed.  Brain waves indeed!
 Neither boy is very fond of it, but it has been worn.  Always good to have a supply of hats in the closet!  It brings a knitter (and crocheter) great joy to see someone leave the house in a hand knit versus a "Fox" or "Mobil 1" or "DC" or whatever designer watch caps are being mass-produced out there!  There's nothing like wool and loving stitching to keep one's head warm!

It may have paralyzed Heimo, but Boots is always good for a lay-about on it!  Not a good picture of the pattern, which I think is great fun (though the boys did not).  I guess "fun pattern" is not a priority among male wearers of hats.  Who knew?
I have a few other finished objects which will be displayed on another FO Friday post.  Might as well save them if it's going to take me a year to get a sweater off the needles, eh?  I am finishing up some stealth knitting, which will be available for viewing soon.  In revisiting old and ongoing knitting resolutions, I have a sweater that has been languishing, and I do mean languishing, for years!  I resolve to get that off of the needles.  It is Sitcom Chic by Bonne Marie Burns.  
Stay tuned!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hip to be Square!

So, what have I been up to?  I spent nearly an entire day this weekend reading this blog.  After which I embarked upon making my own yogurt.  Quite easy; quite tasty.  
I heated the milk to 180degrees, quick cooled to 110degrees, stirred in some active cultures (through purchased yogurt).

 I set this atop a heating pad, which was placed upon a towel upon a baking sheet.

I then covered this jar with a towel, ensuring that no draft would breach the bedding.
 After eight hours...et voila!  Yogurt.  It's a bit runnier than purchased canister yogurt, but oh, so tasty.  Today for lunch I mixed in some strawberry ice cream topping and it was like eating dessert for breakfast.  (probably calorie-wise too!).  I have mixed granola and fruit in as well.  It is plain yogurt, but without the TANG of store-bought.

Another development in my after-work time-killing activities was the download of the Hipstamatic iPhone app.  What absolute fun I have had with this app. What follows is a photo essay of how to burn the night hours playing with the Hipstamatic app!  
Here is the yogurt posed artfully (hee) atop a cake stand.

 In this picture, the boy is readying himself for an evening ice-skating.  (please note this is the garage, I DO NOT hang Mobil 1 oil banners in my home).

Man insulates face in preparation of extreme ice-skating temperatures.  

 Man is getting a bit annoyed being asked to stop and pose.  He was a good sport throughout, but I decided to seek out other subjects. (He's cute when he's annoyed, eh?)

Sleeping cats make very good photographic subjects.  My boys snuggle (very familiar pose).

Boots wonders why the camera if there are no woolen knits upon which to lie.
 Furball is our (former) feral who occupies the garage and patio and refuses to come inside.  In fact she'll only stay in garage if side door is open.   She usually is not a good picture taking subject as she's always on the move, but apparently she appreciates the artsy nature of Hipstamatic.

Heimo up close and personal.  

Heimo has tired of the picture taking and has fallen asleep upon his mama.

And this is what awaits me after burning through the waking hours with my new Hipstamatic.  (No they are not paying me to endorse them)

There has been knitting but pictures will need to wait.  Some of the knitting is stealth knitting, some slated for FO Fridays and some will require their own post.  Please note that all previous New Year's Resolutions will apply for this and future years unless otherwise notified.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Finished Objects: Disco Doesn't Suck (and neither do ripples)

 Ta-Dah!  The Disco Blanket!  
This pattern is from Lucy of Attic24; it is the Granny Stripe.  I debuted this blanket on my previous segue post.  It began as an effort to learn this crochet.  What followed became a way to use up stash yarn.  What became is an explosion of color!  I tried, dear reader, I tried to stick to my resolve on only using stash yarn, but every so often (every few rows or so), a color that would combine beautifully, fabulously with the one just laid down would pop into my head.  That color would not leave.  I knew that color was available somewhere.  It all started because the color I knew I wanted was wool and this was to be an all acrylic, washable all-season blanket.  Looking at that wool skein in my hand that was the perfect color, and knowing that I would no longer have a very practical, machine washable blanket drove me to it!  I could see it in that wool, that perfect color, but wrong fiber skein. 

Well, once you've caved and made a trip to the store and opened your wallet to the possibilities of color, further trips are absolutely justified.  I mean at that point it is no longer a completely stash driven blanket, right?  And I really didn't have my heart set on a "stash+one" blanket, so what the heck...when the mood/color struck, I was more than willing to make the drive again.  I did put a border around it of several rows of granny stripe, followed by a lovely scalloped edging. 
 So here's the story you've been waiting for:  The man and I made a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to see my favorite uncle and aunt and pick up a 1937 Chevy Sedan.  This was to be a quick trip.  Neither of us wanted to take time from work.  The mission of the trip was simple, to pick up a truck and spend a very little bit of time with my aunt and uncle.  We enjoyed a very carefree drive up, splitting the trip with a night in a hotel.  Upon our arrival the following morning, we had coffee and conversation with my relatives and then the menfolk set out to corral the Chevy.  That left my aunt and I some lovely womenfolk time to play catch-up and take a stroll to Mummu's.  The men didn't return.  We discussed dinner plans.  The men didn't return.  Rather than worry, we assumed that the menfolk were discussing the finery of machinery, as we had discussed the finery of woolen knits.  Still the men didn't return.  When the finally returned, they informed us of a problem.  The truck we had borrowed to haul this Chevy back with had broken down. 
You already know that my man is handy and he is also especially handy with vehicles.  He spent many many hours on the cold ground outside in the November cold of the Upper Peninsula.  He was under-dressed.  He was now chilled to the bone.  We returned to the room and he took a hot shower, but still could not get the chill from his body.  At that point I took over and wrapped The Disco Blanket around him.  The same blanket he would roll his eyes at whenever I laid it out for inspection.  He made small fun-making comments of it.  
And then, enveloped in the warmth that is a hand-knit, albeit acrylic yarn blanket, the chill left him.  He forgot the sections of 70s colored yarn, he forgot the projective yarn vomit of color.  He was warm.
Who said disco sucks?
 The previous winter I had tried my hand at the Neat Ripple Blanket by Lucy of Attic24.  I needed to produce a blanket for grandbaby boy two and loved the ripple pattern.  On the first blanket I had used one skein of yarn (actually multiple skeins, but all the same color).  I wanted to make a true, random color placement ripple this time. 
 This is the result.  This beautiful little grandbaby boy loves blankets and now has a hand-knit blanket of his own.  He cuddles in it with his Jacob-Kitty.
 Thinking maybe I should post of picture of just the blanket as that little guy is so gosh-darn cute, it's hard to look away from his loveliness and check out the actual knit object.

*p.s. we were stuck in the U.P. for two additional days, waiting for parts to come in.
to view the finished objects of others, click here