Sunday, January 29, 2006

Ain't Blogging Fun?

So, yesterday, I had a post already to publish. I hit "Preview" to see how it looked. And then, I'm not sure what I did, but I lost the post completely. It wasn't a long post; I was in kind of a funk. But it disappeared. And I signed out. I did not deal well with the frustration last night.

All I wanted to show you yesterday was the pair of Most Basic Socks. Yes, the pair. The second one is done. Here ya go...

I've decided I love these. They've been on my feet since I got up this morning. I LOVE the colours. And, did you just happen to notice there's no pattern? I mean, the colours don't repeat in any kind of order. Looking at the original ball of yarn, I could have sworn there'd be a "pattern". There isn't.

Today was a day for experimenting. We're talking food this time, not knitting. I love crackers. My favourites have always been Stoned Wheat Thins, but lately I'm finding that they have an almost stale flavour. I'll eat them, but I'm not enjoying them as much as I used to. So, I went hunting for cracker recipes yesterday. I found two to try; one is a Saltine recipe. The other is a Flax cracker. I tried the flax crackers first. Yummm! Nice flavour, nice texture. Good with cheese; good with cream cheese; good with peanut butter; good with butter (my personal nemesis.. love it, but the fat... *sigh*), good on their own. This afternoon, I tried the saltines. The flavour is a little on the bland side, the texture is not like the Premium Plus saltines at all (heavier), but we discovered they're great with soup.

I'll post the recipe for the Flax crackers on my recipe page one of these days (got more knitting to do today). Now, back to my knitting. I'm re-doing the Embossed Leaves socks from Interweave Knits, Winter 05. You know, the ones I frogged? This time, I'm using a different yarn, a different cast on (tubular) and a longer heel flap. I'll stay with the star toe that's in the pattern, though. I'll show you how they're turning out later this week.

For now..... enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Beginner Socks and Other Stuff

First things first. I did say I'd post a picture of the absolutely basic sock, didn't I? Here you go. As I said, absolutely basic. It has 1x1 rib for an inch and a half, then stocking stitch for six inches. The heel is the basic k1, sl 1 heel flap with 20 stitches picked up for the gusset. The toe, as well, is the basic toe. Doesn't get any more basic, does it?

The yarn I used is Trekking XXL in colour #100, on 2.25 mm (US 1) needles

I gave the preliminary copy of the pamphlet to Sue (our knitting teacher) so she could go over it and suggest any changes or additions she might have. She also suggested that some new sock knitters might prefer to make them in a heavier yarn, so I'll add the Absolutely Basic Sock in sport weight yarn. I don't knit a lot of socks in sport weight yarn, so I'm not sure how many stitches to cast on. I make them for John and for his I cast on 56 stitches on 2.75 mm needles. I'm thinking of doing the basic ones with 48 stitches on 3 mm needles. Sound about right??

For those of you who have been reading this blog on a regular basis, you know that we live in a beautiful part of the country. I'm often overwhelmed by the scenery around here. Each day brings something new. Today was no different.

When I got up this morning (7 a.m.), it was still somewhat dark. There was low cloud (sometimes known as fog) drifting over the opposite bank of the lake. The water was like glass. As I watched, I could see that the clouds were slowly drifting south over the lake. At the same time, I watched a flock of coots slowly moving north, at almost the same pace as the clouds. It was so beautiful, so peaceful. The other side of the lake was completely obscured by the mist, but I could see clear sky above the clouds.

A little later, I went down to the dock for a while, coffee mug in hand. When I got there, I found signs of a life and death struggle. On our dock was a pile of feathers, a webbed foot and various internal body parts. A coot had met it's fate at the mercy of an eagle or osprey, right there on our dock. Nature truly is amazing.

By the time I got back up to the house, John was up and we watched the sun trying to break through the low hanging cloud. I'd never seen a sunrise quite like it. I'll leave you with that scene.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

In response to Ana

Ana asked how she could get the suggestions to me. Thanks for asking! You can email me. My email address is stringsnthings at shaw dot ca. The usual applies. All at becomes @ and dot becomes just that... a dot.

Looking forward to your suggestions.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Anyone Interested?

We've been having a problem at the store. Those ladies who've been learning to knit socks have, for the most part, been using a Paton's free leaflet to knit their first sock. It's a very basic sock, but it's got a cast on of 68 stitches on 2.75 mm needles. It's supposed to fit a ladies' medium. They're huge!

Another woman brought in a pattern from another yarn store, which is fine. It was supposed to be a basic pattern, but it's almost impossible to decipher, even for me. That's daunting for someone just learning to knit socks. To that end, I told Sue, our teacher, that I'd write up a simple, basic, easy to follow sock pattern that she can use for the classes.

I finished writing it up yesterday. I've printed it up for Sue to go over and suggest any changes she thinks should be made. I'm knitting it up so that I can include a picture of what the "Most Basic Sock Pattern" sock will look like. This is where the "Anyone Interested?" comes in. Would any of you knitters out there be interested in test driving the pattern for me? I've discovered that it's all well and good for me to write out a pattern, but even I make errors and omissions at times. I want/need this pattern to be super easy to understand and follow.

Let me know and I'll post the Word format of the pattern (or I can convert it to pdf if that would be more conducive to your computer system). Once you've read it, knitted it, whatever, let me know what you think. Any and all opinions and critiques would be gratefully appreciated.

Incidentally, I've got one sock on the needles (the basic pattern, but I haven't been looking at the pattern) and it's just past the gusset shaping. Once it's done, I'll post a picture of it.

Postscript (3:00 p.m.):
Thank you, Carla, for volunteering to test the pattern for me. For you, and anyone else interested in helping me out with this, I've posted the pattern in my sidebar (Most Basic Sock pattern). It's in pdf format. Please, any and all feedback is appreciated. Keep in mind, the pattern is meant for newbie sock knitters, so it needs to be easily understood. Being the diehard sock knitter that I am, there may be things I take for granted. Seeing the pattern through the eyes and hands of others is an important thing. Thank you so much!

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Another FO for January

The baby booties are finished. I don't have a baby to give them to, but I'm sure they'll be put to good use one day. They're a quick knit. The pattern could use a little re-writing just to make it easier to follow, but it works and the finished booties are cute. I'll make more of these just to have them on hand and to use up some of the little odds and ends of yarn left over from making socks. And if there are no babies to give them to, I may, once I have a "stash" of booties, donate them to the hospital.

John, incidentally, thinks they're cute, but doesn't like the colour. It reminds him of seafoam, he said. I told him they weren't for him, so his opinion really didn't count for much. They're perfect if you don't know whether the coming infant is male or female. When he needs a pair of baby booties, I'll make them in a colour of his choosing.

I've picked up the Stashbuster Spiral socks again this morning. They'll be pretty funky, I'm thinking. Here's how they look so far...

For any of you who've made these before, how on earth did you keep your yarns from tangling? I feel as if I'm spending more time untangling the yarns than I am knitting the socks!

I'm using two colours of Regia (the dark blue and the variegated) and two colours of SuperSocke (by process of elimination, that would be the pink and the blue). I cast on with a tubular cast on as found at Knitty. I like how it looks (the cast on, that is). I think this will be a work in progress for some time. The untangling is a little bit of a putoff.

Now, time to call my daugher. It's her 26th birthday today. Happy Birthday, Kristen!!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Knitting? What's that?

From the title of this post, you can correctly surmise that there hasn't been a lot of knitting happening around here for the last couple of days. The Embossed Leaves sock has become nothing more than a ball of yarn. Yes, I frogged it. I tried it on again and decided it just wasn't working out right for my foot.

The Stashbuster Spirals are on the go, but haven't left the basket at all today. I did knit one Newborn Crawling bootie (you can find it here). I'll post a picture when the second one is finished. I must say, they are cute!

I had Thursday off. After puttering around the house most of the morning, John and I took a ride to the library. We both came away with an armload of books. Surprisingly, there were not many knitting books on the shelf. Before heading back home, I asked John to take me to the Rotary Center for the Arts, where the Ponderosa Spinners and Weavers Guild has a studio. I wanted to find out about spinning classes (yes, I'm going to learn how!). There were two ladies in the studio, both spinning and chatting and very willing to share their love of spinning and weaving. One was a spinner and knitter, while the other was a spinner and weaver. I did find out that a class had just started the previous week, so I'll wait until the next session starts. Now that I have a valid phone number and contact name, it will be a lot easier to find these things out. Both ladies, incidentally, agreed that spinning your own yarn adds another dimension to knitting. I'm really looking forward to learning about spinning.

Now, I really think I should get some fresh air.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Decisions, decisions

So, I started the Embossed Leaves socks from the Interweave Knits, winter 2005 issue. I've gotten to a point in my sock knitting where I really don't need to use a pattern as I know what fits me, how many stitches I need, all that fun stuff. This one, though, employs a couple of techniques I'd never done before. One is the cast on, 1x1 rib cast on. Once I got the hang of it, no problem. It's a little awkward, but I can see the value of it. In the magazine, they call the cast on and first two rows a tubular cast on. That's not what it looks like to me, but ok. I'd never done a cast on like this, so I learned something new.

The entire ribbing is done in a twisted rib, where you knit into the back of each knit stitch, rather than the front. I like the look of it. The leafy part is no challenge at all, just follow the chart (although I must say that the placement of the lacy "holes" isn't as easy to remember as they intimate it is). The heel flap is basic, but way to short for my foot. Likewise with the gusset. I've never done socks with that short a heel flap and gusset. I'm well into the foot now and I'm thinking of frogging the entire sock and doing it MY way.

I did try it on as is and I find the cast on a bit tight. Once on the foot, it's okay, but as I said, the heel flap is just too short for my foot. I think I'm talking myself into starting over. I didn't work on it at all last night because I was mulling it over in my mind... frog or not... frog or not... watch Lost.... frog or not.... Lost..... oh, forget the darned sock for tonight... watch Lost!

In the cold light of day, I think I'll frog it.

The yarn, by the way, is Lorna's Laces 4 ply in a colourway called "Tuscany". I love the combo.

I did start another sock last night. Incorrigible, I am. It's based on the Stashbuster Spiral sock. I'll be making a few modifications, of course. The first is the cast on. I'm using the tubular cast on that's explained at (a little ways down the page); I'll also be using a different heel. I haven't decided between the standard heel flap and gusset (which I think I like best) or the afterthought heel (which is second best on my list). I'm using four different colours, one of which is a 4-colour variegated. Then, there's a turquoise blue, pink and navy. Sounds wild, doesn't it? I'll take a picture of it when I have a little more than the cuff knitted.

Incidentally, I've tried the Sherman Heel used in the Stashbuster Spiral socks and found it way too complicated. And, by the time I had it done, I really didn't like it. I won't be trying it again.

Now, in the continuing saga of the mouse in the house... A couple of days ago, John and I had just arrived home. We were still in the back hallway taking our coats and shoes off when I heard a slight noise off to my left.

I should explain that the back hallway is sort of like a small workshop area. It has a long counter with cabinets below and a row of cabinets above. There's a refrigerator there, shoe racks and a coat rack. I'm not sure how long it is, but I'd estimate about 12 feet or so. On the countertop, we have a microwave (we had originally intended to use that area for my creams and lotion production, but that hasn't worked out), and other odds and ends that have no real place in the kitchen.

Anyway, I heard a skittering of some kind, and when I turned to look, another mouse, looking absolutely terrified, scurried, almost bouncing, under the microwave. I jumped and yelped; I was as startled by it's presence as it was of mine. I didn't even try to catch it. Is it any wonder I'm dreaming about mice these days???

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Just another FO

This time, it's a felted bag. I got the pattern from Cat Bordhi's web site. It's supposed to be for the Denise needle kits, but I decided not to put in the pocket after it was felted because it didn't felt quite the way I expected it to. Here are the requisite before and after pictures.


...and after...

I would have put the Denise needle kit in the after picture, but I was upstairs and the kit was downstairs. And I was too lazy to go back downstairs to get it. What can I say? It's just that kind of day.

I really want to do some serious knitting today, but my head's just not there for some reason. I'm very restless today. Oh well, I'll just putter around today. I've already made up a batch of Spiced Rum Glazed Pecans this morning (for anyone interested, the recipe is available on my recipe page), felted the bag, worked on a freeform moebius (pictures another time as there's not much to see yet) and picked up the Donegal Tweed cardi again. I've got two inches to go on the back before starting the shaping for the armholes. I've also been down to the dock to soak up a bit of peace.

Leslie, in her comment on my adventures with the mice, asked who Rob and Carol are. They are the couple we share the house with. We all moved in here last May, hoping that we could actually live under the same roof. In the first house we (John and I) lived in when we moved to Kelowna, Rob and Carol rented the basement suite. After we moved out, they were frustrated by the noises and lack of friendliness coming from the new owners and their two small children and decided that it was no fun living there any more. They were having a difficult time finding other housing and approached us with the idea of sharing a larger house. Since we weren't exactly thrilled with where we were living, we were easily talked into that idea. And an experiment in communal living began. It's not succeeding. Enough said.

Ok, back to the cardi.

Friday, January 13, 2006

There's a Mouse in My House

I've written about our problem with mice before. At that time, with traps set out, we caught eight of the little critters in about 36 hours.

Well, earlier this week, John and I were blissfully watching the tv in the comfort of our bedroom when I caught a movement out of the corner of my eye. A little (and I do mean little) mouse gingerly made his way around the legs of the dresser and scurried over to the fireplace, where I happened to be sitting. It managed to climb up the bricks and went exploring around my baskets of yarn. I'm not afraid of mice, but I did let John know we had some uninvited company, and moved a basket from harm's way. He, being the loving and caring man he is, came instantly to my defence with something to trap the little creature with. It was much too quick for John, though, and after a couple of minutes of scurrying here and there, doing some of the most amazing gymnastics I'd seen in a long time, the mouse scampered back under the dresser, around the computer desk and disappeared.

A little later, when I went to the bathroom down the hall to prepare for bed, I was accompanied by a little gray creature that stuck his head under the door as I was "otherwise engaged". He got just a little too close to my slippers, so I swatted at him and he beat a hasty retreat. After all of this excitement, John told me that he'd had a close encounter of the personal kind with that same mouse earlier in the day. He'd been at the computer when he felt something on his leg. That little mouse had climbed up his pant leg!

What to do? Well, we left one mousetrap downstairs in the kitchen and the other one was moved up to the bedroom. It hasn't caught anything yet, but John did notice yesterday that the cheese on both traps had been carefully nibbled away, without sprining the traps.

Then, last night, after I got home from work, I decided to get a glass of wine before even thinking about dinner. John had just gotten comfy with a book in the recliner upstairs. Once in the kitchen, I checked the trap and discovered a mouse. Excellent, we'd caught it, finally!

I got a wine glass out of the cupboard, took the wine bottle out of the fridge, turned back toward the sink for some reason and noticed...... another mouse..... on the counter.... behind the knife block. I couldn't believe it! Being very quiet, I picked up a ziploc plastic container that was on the opposite end of the counter, turned it upside down and waited, slowly moving closer to the corner where the mouse was now investigating the two chunks of salmon Rob & Carol had defrosting on the counter for their dinner. The little creature moved around the sealed pouches of fish, trying to find a way to climb on top of the packages. He moved out into the open, saw me, sat up on his haunches and looked me in the eye. When he had determined I was no threat (big mistake), he started to move off, without a care in the world, toward the soap dish. That's when I pounced! And trapped him with the container. I think I was as shocked as the mouse was. To make sure he couldn't get away, I put the bottle of dishwashing soap on top of the container. After watching the mouse exploring his suddenly small world, I went upstairs and told John to get UNcomfy and follow me. On the way down the stairs, I let him know that his trap had caught a mouse. Then, I showed him that I'd caught one, too.

He slid a magazine under the container, scooping up the mouse and the container and we disposed of him in the great outdoors. No, we didn't kill the mouse; we let him go. No doubt, he'll be back in the house very soon if he doesn't meet up with the neighbourhood cats. For the night, though, we were not interrupted by any little creatures checking up on us.

How long will the saga continue?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I'm Back

Yes, we were away for a few days. We drove up to Prince George to attend the funeral of old family friends of John's. I didn't get a chance to do any taking of pictures or blogging before we left, so today's post could be on the long side (space-wise, hopefully not too wordy).

First of all, I've got a finished object. It was finished on January 3, the first FO of 2006. (Incidentally, I'm going to set up a separate web page with little pictures of all my finished objects of 2006... just cuz I can. The link will be in my sidebar when I have it up and running.)

The object, you ask? The Bernat Soft Boucle shawl. I didn't use a pattern for this one, just started it at the neck, the way the Kiri shawl is done, and then just knit the right side and purl the wrong side. And when I forgot what I was doing and knit on the wrong side, I just made it a design feature and did a few more reverse rows on purpose.

And one picture taken a little closer in so you can see the true colour. This ended up being a nice cozy shawl, perfect for wrapping around your shoulders while you're watching TV or sitting around doing nothing but knitting. It took two balls of the Bernat Soft Boucle; total cost for this shawl is under $10 cdn.

So, that's the first FO of 2006. Then, while we were on the road, I finished this little project. I had started it before we went to PG, had one done, finished the second on the way home yesterday. I love them!

The pattern is Mrs. Beeton, from I was a little leery about knitting these at first, but I shouldn't doubt my knitting skills, for one thing, and for another, the pattern is clearly written. I wouldn't recommend it for an absolute beginner, but an intermediate knitter shouldn't have any problems with this project.

Just a couple more shots of Mrs. Beeton. Did I mention that I love these? I think I'll even wear them to work this afternoon.

They're just so feminine!

I did one in purple, too; still have to do the second one. Depending on what's happening at work this afternoon, I just may cast on for it today. Incidentally, I did put the beads on the green pair, but not on the purple pair.

The yarns used in the green pair are Atacama 100% alpaca and Rowan Kid Silk Haze, 2 strands in the ruffle, 1 strand with the alpaca for the cuff. In the purple one, I used the Atacama alpaca and 2 strands of Allessandra Kid Silk (I think that's what it's called... the ball bands are still at the store) in plum and light purple. I found that using 2 strands of the kid mohair with the alpaca made it a little too fuzzy for my liking. That's why I used a single strand with the alpaca in the green pair.

Then, on the drive up to PG, I cast on 56 stitches with Sirdar's Country Style dk. By the following evening, I had this......

I've got the second one cast on, but haven't done anything with it yet. They're for John, of course. Personally, I don't really like dk weight socks except for wearing in my slippers around the house. He, on the other hand, doesn't mind the heavier weight of socks and I don't mind making them in the dk weight; they knit up a LOT faster than the fingering weight yarn.

There, now you're all caught up and it's almost time for my shower. Two FO's and the year's just ten days old. Not bad!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Good News and Responses

First, the responses...Carla asked how I made the reversible hats. It's a pattern I downloaded from the Elann web site. You can find it here. I'll also put it in my sidebar, under Patterns I Recommend. It's not a difficult knit. The only challenging (if you can call it that) part was the provisional cast on. If you enjoy learning new techniques, you'll find it a fun knit. I know I did. A lot of the knitting was done watching television, as it's pretty much just knit, knit, knit!

Leslie, your idea for the Soft Boucle shawl would work, but this is a difficult colour (it's actually 3 or 4 colours blended) and texture to match. I didn't have to resort to Walmart (yesssssss!!), thankfully. I tried Michael's first and found the yarn there. I've almost done the shawl now and will post pictures of it when it's off the needles. It's really just a simple triangle with four increases on each right side row (one at each side and one on each side of the center stitch), started at the center of the neck. Simple, easy knit. In addition to being a response, finding the yarn at Michael's was also the good news.

That's one project very close to being completed, the first of 2006. Not bad; the first week's not even over yet.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Something New for a New Year

There's not a lot of knitting content today. I'm continuing working on UFO's and will keep you up to date on progress as I make it.

I've added a link to my sidebar that you may (or may not) be interested in. I've set up a recipe page with some of our favourites. Right now, there aren't a lot of recipes there, but I will be adding more now and then. All of the recipes I include have been tested, either by John and myself or my family. Some of the recipes have been in my repertoire for many years and are considered comfort food by my children, like my Cream of Onion Soup recipe... so creamy, so very yummy!

Let me know what you think. And if you have any favourite recipes you'd like to share with us, please feel free! You can email me at stringsnthings at shaw dot ca. I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Happy 2006!

I did it! I finished hat #4 in time for it to qualify as an FO for 2005. That feels good. Now, to get them mailed out to the grandkids.

And, as resolved, I've started (again) to work on some of the projects already on the needles. When we moved into this house, I decided I needed to have some wraps available for those cool nights we were sure to encounter on the lake. Now, it's become even a more practical idea. This house is not one of the warmest I've lived in. With all the windows in the living room, it can get downright cold in there. A lot of heating dollars go straight out those windows. Sweaters and warm wraps are more and more important.

The project I've picked up to finish first is one of those wraps. I started it shortly after we moved in here and it got put to the side when the weather turned warmer. It's a simple triangular shawl, worked in Bernat's Soft Boucle, an inexpensive, but cozy yarn. It's a 5 oz ball, priced at about $6.00. I thought one ball would do the shawl, making it a REALLY inexpensive project, but now it looks like I'll need one more ball. It still won't be an expensive project. At this point, I'd estimate that the shawl is getting close to 48" along the top edge and about 24" in length at the deepest part of the point. That's not big enough to wrap around yourself for warmth and coziness. That's where I may have a small problem. It's a yarn that my boss brought in only to have some boucle yarn in the store. It's a yarn that hasn't sold very well, but well enough that we have none left in my colour of choice. I'll have to make the trip to Michael's or WalMart this week to see if I can find one more ball. I don't like shopping at either store. They're always way too crowded and I just don't like the way WalMart (and a lot of the major chains) do business. It's a matter of principle for me. I don't have to shop there, so I choose not to. In this case, however, I may have to.

I'm looking forward to putting quite a few finished objects in my sidebar this year, starting soon. Now, where did I put all those already-started projects?