Sunday, February 27, 2011

Insanity & Knitting

Do they go hand in hand? Perhaps, at times. This time, though, they’re quite separate.

A package arrived at work this week. That’s nothing unusual, really; we have packages arriving almost daily. We’ve been expecting this one for a couple of weeks. Or, I should say, I’ve been expecting it.


Inside this box, we found this…


…which contained a white paper bag about the size of a lunch bag…


Here comes the insanity part. Inside that paper bag?


A small  packet with three sticks of Drill-ease (a drill bit lubricant), each about the size of a stick of chalk. All that packaging for those three little sticks of drill-ease! I was appalled at both the waste of packaging and, probably, the cost of transporting that nearly-empty packaging. Absolute insanity!

Now, the knitting. I finished another hat this week, but I’ve been told that it really doesn’t do anything for me, so I won’t show you a picture of me wearing it.


It’s a very cute hat, but it just doesn’t suit me apparently. That’s fine. It will go into a box, eventually making its way to someone on whom it does look good. The hat is Grantham, a free pattern available through Ravelry. As for yarn and stats, I posted all of that in last week’s post, so I won’t repeat it here.

Even though the hat doesn’t suit me, it really is a nice little hat. The yarn knitted up to a very nice fabric, firm without being stiff, touchable and warm. Sigh. Too bad it just isn’t me.

With yesterday being a Sit & Stitch day (for me… there’s usually someone there every Saturday, but I don’t attend every week), I wanted to start something new. Last week, after teaching at the yarn shop, I splurged and bought two balls of sock yarn (100 gm balls) to make another Western Seas sweater for another one of my grandsons. This time, it’s in a blue-green colourway and I think the patterning will show up better. At this point, there’s not a lot to see, just one of the lower bands. I haven’t even taken a picture of it yet, so the details will just have to wait. Next week, I promise.

On the weight loss front, I’m doing really well. I’ve been exercising almost daily, using a resistance tube (like a large tubular elastic with handles) and a skipping rope (not daily, 3 times per week is all I can handle… felt like I was about to get shin splints at one point). Between the increased exercise and changes to my eating habits, so far I’ve lost 4 lbs! I was thrilled when I stepped on my scale yesterday and realized I’d lost that much, three pounds in one week!

I must say that I really do feel a lot better, physically. Already, I have more energy and a much more positive outlook. And, there have been other results… John has really come on board in helping me to eat healthier. He does a lot of the cooking since he’s not working yet, and he’s been making an effort to use less fat, more vegetables and smaller portions. Both of us have pretty much stopped drinking alcohol, although he does like his beer on the weekends.

As well, my daughter has also joined LoseIt. We’ve been encouraging each other and it feels really good to know that we’re both working at getting healthy!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where to Start?

It’s Sunday. Yesterday was Saturday, my usual blogging day. I, however, was busy with other things. I was asked to be the substitute teacher for two knitting classes yesterday and I did it gladly, and enjoyed myself.

Ok, this is where the post takes a slight detour. We will get back to Saturday. On Friday, we received some mail for the person who lived here before; it was a T4 slip (needed to file income tax returns here in Canada, it’s a statement of earnings), originating from a hotel not far from where we live. John decided we should drop it off there, letting them know that the intended recipient no longer lived at the address on the envelope. I delivered it, then told John I’d walk the rest of the way home. The weather was gloriously sunny.

It was, however, a little on the cold side, even with my jacket, alpaca scarf and gloves. When I got home, half an hour later, I decided I wanted a hat that would come down over my ears and stay there. Most of my hats creep up a bit or don’t quite cover my ears. I went hunting. It just so happened that in my “friends activity” that afternoon, someone had posted a picture of “Minty”, a free hat pattern, available through Knitty. I went shopping in my stash and found a dk weight yarn that I liked (Fleece Artist Silk Stream…50% wool, 30% silk, 20% nylon… discontinued), made some alterations (Minty calls for worsted weight, a heavier yarn, so I had to change the stitch count and slightly modify the pattern) and cast on.

Now we’re back to Saturday. Minty was my knitting project. Even though I was supposed to be teaching, in reality, I was there as more of a hand-holder, advice-giver and help-I-screwed-up fixer-upper.

Once I got home, I kept working on the hat, a very simple project, by the way, and finished it that evening. I like it! It’s kind of funky; John described it as “hippy-ish”. And it covers my ears nicely. I’ll give it a test later today.



As I was searching through Ravelry, I also came across another hat I thought would be eminently suitable for my walks. This one has earflaps, but not like some of the earflap hats that seem to be ubiquitous these days. They’re just large enough to cup the ears, something I think would be just right. While at the yarn shop, I looked around for the perfect yarn and ended up with Berroco’s Vintage DK, 50% acrylic, 40% wool, and 10% nylon. This is a really nice yarn, soft without being sloppy. I can see myself using it more often.


The pattern, if you’re interested, is Grantham and is available as a free Ravelry download. You can find it by clicking on the name. This hat is my project for today. I love making hats; they knit up so quickly!

I’ve also been working on the cardigans for Trinity & Oceanna. After last weekend’s fiasco, I’m back on track and alternating between the two cardis.

Cardis for girls

At this stage, they’re perfect listening-to-audiobooks knitting, nothing but stocking stitch until I get to the neck shaping.

Speaking of audiobooks… which I listen to on my iPod… which brings me to iPod apps. I know, I know. However, I found a couple of apps this week that I really like. All are paid-for apps (all .99). The first is Water Your Body. It helps you track how much water you’re drinking during the day. You input your weight and it tells you how much water you should be drinking per day; then, each time you have a glass of water, you tap the screen and it puts another glass on the table. John thinks it’s kind of silly, but I like having the visual reminder to drink more water, something most of us need.

I found my second app as a result of being very disappointed with All-in’s Pedometer app. Every time I went for a walk, it would count about 6 steps and stop. Very frustrating. I went hunting and found Run Pedometer. It’s a simple pedometer that shows your number of steps, calories burned, distance travelled and elapsed time. And it works well.

The third app I purchased is Best Timer, a really pretty kitchen timer, stop watch, countdown/up and sand timer. I just thought it was a really nicely done app and couldn’t resist.

There! Enough for this week. I have every intention of getting out there today and enjoying the sunshine, even though it’s pretty chilly out today (-9C/15F) – the perfect day to test the new hat!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Two Steps Forward…

So, how did I mess THAT up? I was almost finished the back of the turquoise sweater. I was up to the point of casting off for the neck and my stitch count didn’t work.


It seems I missed one of the increases somewhere, maybe two. I thought I was keeping track, but apparently not. Now, both sweaters are at the point of increasing for the sleeves. And I’ve set it up as a check-off list in Evernote. Hopefully, I don’t screw it up again!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Oh My! I’m Amazed!

When I asked for app recommendations yesterday, I wasn’t expected to be blown away. Nicola recommended Be-earthed, which I did check out. As she wrote in her comment, it is now a paid app, not one I’ll download at this time. Bejeweled, on the other hand, might be one I’ll think about.

image(click the image to take you to it’s iTunes page)

The app that has amazed me is Kristie’s recommendation, Evernote. Even if you don’t download it (and I don’t know why you wouldn’t… it’s free), check it out. I have it on my iPod, my pc laptop (or the Mac) and the free web account; it syncs all of it. I can make notes on my laptop, sync it and access it anywhere! It has a browser addition called WebClipper, which gives you the ability to highlight anything on the web and save it as a note.

Incidentally, ignore the customer reviews; apparently, things have changed since those comments were posted. One of the tutorials I watched even commented that the user had been using the free version for some time and wasn’t even curious about what was different in the premium version as the free version was all she needed and more.

When I did a search for reviews of Evernote, I came across this one on AppAdvice. It gives a good overview of what the app can do, as well as it’s pros and cons (there aren’t many). The verdict? “If you’re not using Evernote already, go download it right now and at least try it out. You have nothing to lose.”

I’ve even showed it to John and he was impressed. Even he can see how useful it would be for his online research and note-taking. With the click of a button, he could take information from the numerous websites he haunts, clip it, add tags, and store all of his notes in any number of customizable “notebooks”. If HE is impressed (I’m the technophile around here), I think you will be, too.

And it’s free… did I mention that? Check it out here! Go! (Just don’t forget to come back, ok?)

I mentioned yesterday that I would tell you about my current time waster. Oh dear! Even though I want to be knitting, there are two games that have snared me. One is Angry Birds, a game that involves physics, something I’ve never been good at. It’s fun and frustrating at the same time.


The one that’s really trapped me, though, is Sneezies.


It’s just so cute! The premise is that you have to free the sneezies from the bubbles. You tap the screen and release sneezing powder. As they sneeze, they’re freed and  parachute down to safety. It’s simple, it’s pretty and it’s highly addictive. I played it for two hours straight last night! As I said, it’s a time-waster; not much knitting got done last night.

Now, it’s time to get some knitting done… no Sneezies, just the knitting and the book I’m listening to at the moment (Mark of the Assassin by Daniel Silva).

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Knitting and iPods

Another week has flown by; we’re almost halfway through February! I’ve made some progress on the little cardigan for Oceanna; the knitting is simple stocking stitch, almost meditative, so it moves along quickly. As well, having made two cardigans for myself, working on a little person’s garment just seems to go so much faster!


The colour, incidentally, is much closer to the actual colour in this picture than in the last picture I posted. This has been the extent of my knitting for the week. It will be coming with me to Sit & Stitch this afternoon, and I’m hoping to get the back done this weekend.

In other things, having finished two sweaters for myself and having had John photograph me in those sweaters, I’ve realized that there’s more of me than I’m comfortable with. I’ve known for a while that I really should lose some weight, but seeing myself in pictures and a Ravelry thread about must-have apps really brought it home.

One of the apps mentioned numerous times in that thread (among others) is Lose It!, a weight loss app. I’ve downloaded it and have been using it this past week, religiously inputting everything I eat and drink and any and all exercise. You start out by supplying information about yourself: gender, age, height and weight and your goal weight. The app tells you how many calories to eat per day in order to reach your goal. I have mine set to lose one pound per week. In addition to installing it on your iPod or iPhone, if you set up an account on the Lose It! web site, you can sync the information (I find it easier to input data on the laptop than on the iPod’s small screen).

I have to tell you, it’s been interesting and eye-opening. I’ve never been on a diet before; I’ve never needed to. And, have I lost any weight this week? Sadly, I’ve gained a pound. Must cut back on wine… must cut back on wine… must…


Last week, I asked you if you had any apps you’d recommend. Louisa recommended Knit Minder. I’ve had it on my iPod and deleted it. It was far more than I wanted in an app, but I can see the usefulness. I can remember thinking that, for me, the ability to track all your projects was somewhat redundant because of Ravelry and my blog. As well, the thought of typing in all that information on the iPod’s tiny on-screen keyboard was a little intimidating.

Anyone else? What’s your must-have app? It doesn’t  have to be knitting related. Next time, I’ll tell you about my newest time waster.

Winking smile

Monday, February 07, 2011

What Happened to Spring?


Yesterday I posted a couple of pictures I had taken on Saturday. Well, the picture above is what the fence looked like a couple hours after I posted. We got snow! I’m not sure of the final numbers, but it looked like about 4-6”; it was a lot for one day, that’s for sure.

Today, it’s melting and it’s sloppy out there; it’s supposed to go below freezing again tonight, with the possibility of more snow. Apparently, spring may be coming but it isn’t here yet.

Because of the snow, John was called in to work for a few hours. That gave me time to work on, and finish, the Western Seas sweater. It is off the needles, ends are woven in and the few little seams there were (the overlapping neck band and borders on either side of the waist band) are sewn in. All it needs now is a wash and it will be put into a box, ready for mailing to one of the grandsons.


Now, on to the little cardis for the girls. I’ve been swatching; even though I had started it in stocking stitch, I wondered if it would curl up too much, even with a crocheted edging, so I frogged it and started over in garter stitch. I didn’t like it… at all. It felt too much like a knitted dishcloth and that’s not what I want to make. I think I’ll go back to stocking stitch.

Since I’m home early today, that’s what I’ll be doing for the remainder of the day. That, and listening to a book.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Does This Mean Spring?

001 002

If so, why is there white stuff falling from the sky? And why are we under a snowfall warning?

We’re supposed to get 5-10 cm, but the temperature is supposed to hover around 1º C, going up to 4º C by tomorrow, which means the snow won’t stay around for long.

All in all, this will probably be a good day to stay inside and knit.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

There Has Been Knitting

I love my iPod. I love the fact that I can download audio books from the library and listen while I’m knitting; right now, I’m listening to, and enjoying, “the Book of Spies” by Gayle Lynds. Listening and knitting means I make good progress on my projects.

Like this one…

WS3 …the Western Seas pullover. One sleeve is now finished and the second sleeve is on the needles. It could… possibly… be finished this weekend. I’m not pushing it, though. There’s no rush to get it done and I’m enjoying the process.

This week, as I had hoped, the yarn for the little girls’ sweaters came in.


Both are Knit Picks Comfy fingering, 75% pima cotton and 25% acrylic (the tealy-blue yarn is really difficult to photograph!). Wow, is this yarn ever nice! Comfy is a good name for it; it’s nice and soft and cushy. I have a feeling these little cardis will be go-to sweaters. I think I posted a link to the pattern, but in case you missed it, it’s a Drops pattern. Here’s a picture…


The entire sweater is worked in garter stitch, but I’m doing it in stocking stitch; I much prefer the look of stocking stitch over garter stitch. The only thing that concerns me (other than the fact it might curl at the lower edges) is the crochet edging all around the body of the sweater, as well as the sleeves. Crochet has become a method of torture (my thumb doesn’t like it at all), but I think if I take it slowly, I should be ok. It’s just a simple picot edging, after all.

I wasn’t going to cast on for this until the Western Seas sweater was finished, but it is definitely not TV knitting at this point (working patterning and decreases at the same time) while the little cardis start out with 18 cm of straight knitting, much more amenable to watching CSI.

Speaking of iPods, this week I splurged and bought myself an iTunes App Store gift card just so that I could download a couple of apps that I’ve had my eye on for a while.

The first one I bought was Knit Counter. I’d had the free version for a while, but you can only input one project and we all know that I NEVER have just one project on the go. If you’re a knitter and you have an iPod, I can definitely recommend this app. You can input all your increases, decreases, stitch patterns, link counters… pretty impressive.

The second one I bought was the iKnit Needle Sizer, a very clever little application and quite handy because most knitters don’t always carry a needle gauge.

ndlszr1 ndlszr2

To find your needle size, you lay the needle over the white lines. If you can see the red lines on either side of your needle, but no white, you’ve found your size. (I know, it’s a little difficult to see the red in the photos, but you get the idea.) Very clever!

I bought a few other apps, too, but these two were the only knitting-related apps. What about you? Do you have any favourite apps, knitting or other? Anything you can recommend?