Can’t write right now, I’m knitting!

I think I realized how soon Christmas is, in terms of knitting projects.  And then I cast on for presents, which I can’t talk too much about here, but which I can say  are coming right along.  One is a really easy (boring) knit which goes with me everywhere as it is miles of stockinette stitch.  That needs to be done by mid-December.  The other involves a million little parts which are not hard to make, and only a bit fiddly.  But I need so many of them!  What was I thinking?

I got the idea the other night to use some of my handspun for some of the parts, and that made it more interesting.  I have all those mini skeins created because my bobbins filled  up before I ran out of fiber.  This is the perfect project for those mini skeins.  Oh, I wish I could share them with you!  I will, right after Christmas. This project needs to be done right after Thanksgiving, also for delivery.

See why I think it is closer to Christmas than the calendar says?

All of this has meant that I put my sweater aside.  I finished the body and am ready to pick up the sleeves as soon as I can. I am trying not to think about the history I have with this yarn.  Many years ago (15? 20?), I knit a sweater with it, got it all done but the sleeves. Put it away, and never went back to it until this September, when I pulled it all out, washed the yarn and started over with a different pattern.  I am determined to finish this one, this time.  But not until I finish these other projects.

This means I also put aside the two remaining shawls from last summer, Biophilia and High Country Crescent.  I am thinking of frogging Biophilia, I am not loving the yarn and needle choice with the pattern.  It Madeline Tosh, so it is not like I won’t find another use for it!  High Country Crescent, which I was unsure about when I got going actually looks so pretty in the very fine yarn I am using.  I look forward to getting back to that one.

And there are more shawls in the queue – I have signed on to knit one for the Purple Fleece, and will do that in January.

Then there are these mittens – I was so pleased to pick up the blue and aqua/teal yarns in the Knitting Sarah’s de-stash earlier this year.  I thought they would be great for these mittens, but I needed a third color.  Last week I was in Over the Rainbow in Rockland, and spotted this soft gray yarn!  It is from Quince and Company, and sure enough, when I got home, it was the perfect third color for the mittens.  So they have joined the line that stretches behind my chair in the living room.  🙂

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We are on a “staycation” next week, and between the holiday cleaning and cooking, I hope to make real progress on the deadline knitting.  I’ll take photos, but can’t share them for quite a while – sorry!

Then I will get back to working on things that I can share with you, I promise.

Non-knitting – We continue to dominate in A’s office version of the biggest loser – I have lost weight for 7 consecutive weeks!  Woot woot!  A has as well, but I am ahead of her, likely due to being sick last month.  I’ll take it.  Last weigh in is Monday, then we should be able to collect the prizes.  We are on the same team, and though the other team is also working hard, I feel pretty confident that our team is going to win over all.  You know this means more money for fiber and yarn and goodies, right?  Plus it means my clothes fit better. And my doctors are happier.  And I feel better.  All good things.

I’ll try to write more when we are on vacation – when I take breaks from knitting.  🙂

What do you mean, it is Sunday?

I never posted Friday list! You are all probably crazy with anxiety, wondering what I did.

Sorry about that, but it was a pretty simple list, as I wasn’t feeling well. Went to work Thursday morning, by the time I got to work, I knew that was a mistake, so I turned around and came home again. So Thursday – sleep on couch, wake up knit a row or two, sleep a few hours.

Friday the list was more like:
put in a load of laundry
sleep
scoop the cat box
sleep
watch an NCIS rerun
sleep.
knit a few rows
sleep

You get the point. So I completely forgot to write it down for you.

Anyway.

All that sleep seemed to work – I never got A’s awful cold, what I ever I did get obviously laid me low for a few days, but I feel much better now. Not fully energized, but better.

Yesterday, A’s two sisters came over to help with the never-ending insulation job in the basement. We have decided to go with spray foam insulation on the walls, but that means A has to remove everything from the walls, all her racks and hangers, etc. And it means that she had to make a decision about how to insulate the ceiling with the radiant heat pipes, and do it before they spray, which they will be doing in a couple of weeks. So we ripped out the disgusting pink stuff, and are using this silver stuff, much thinner, cleaner, and hopefully it will work. Sisters climbed around and insulated all along the edges, while A took down her racks. Next up – framing the walls.

Meanwhile, I puttered and got lots of little things done. I got one of my rotten raised beds completely planted with spring bulbs – tulips, daffies and muscari. I hope the creatures leave them alone so I can have cheerful spring flowers next year. That is the last raised bed made from “junk” wood. As those have rotted, I have just planted them with wildflowers or grass to see what will happen. So our yard looks like a strange patchwork.

I also planted a few sticks of wygelia that I had rooting on the window sill all summer, we will see if they make it or not. And I finally got around to planting a grocery store hydrangea I got for our wedding last spring. I hope that is happy,as it really was pretty.

I also began the job of priming and painting our new screen/storm doors that we got a few weeks ago, as we are having a dry weekend. The instructions said one more coat of primer and two coats of outdoor paint. Sigh. Can only do one side at a time, of course, and so that means 6 times I have to get everything ready and paint and then stop and put it all away again. I can see that this will become tedious. I finished priming one door so far. Lots of rests in between, of course.

Today – more painting, knitting, and sleeping, I think. As well as a few loads of laundry – where does it come from?

Oh, other news – a couple of weeks ago, we started biggest loser again at A’s job. First week, she lost SEVEN pounds, and didn’t win for the week! (Sometimes, competing with men stinks!) I gained a pound and a half. This week, I lost 2.5 and won for the week! Being sick sure helped with that. But she isn’t pleased. We also keep track just between us, with the weekly prize $10 per week, to go to or own stash. So I am building up my yarn stash money again. It was pretty low, so this is a good thing. Not my stash, you understand, but my yarn money. 🙂

Knitting has slowed down a bit, what with all the sleeping, but I did finish a KoolAid hat, and am working on a scarf for myself. It is some lace weight silk/alpaca blend I got a couple of years ago from PineStar Studio. I am making a “Multi Directional Diagonal Scarf” (Pattern by Karen Baumer, 2003. I haven’t tried searching for it online, but if anyone wants it, I will be glad to search and or share.) It is the same pattern and yarn I used for the purple scarf I made Crimson Crow for a pay it forward giveaway, but I have added seed beads to highlight the directional changes. I’ll get a photo of it soon. For some reason, the direction changes seem to be a little more wobbly this time, I suppose it could be the beads, but I think blocking will fix it. I also changed the pattern slightly to add button holes at one end, and some tiny sparkling buttons are planned for the other end, so I can wear it different ways. (edited – Found the pattern on Ravelry at http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/multidirectional-diagonal-scarf)

It’s a pain to move the yarn through all the beads, but I do like how it is looking.

friday typing with the cat

Cute Allie is being very helpful today. She is perched beside the keyboard watching my fingers and the screen. It’s a lot to keep track of and requires the occasional pounce, or walk across the keyboard to get closer to the screen. She isn’t usually this engrossed when I am on the laptop. She loves the desktop because she can get right up close to the screen and I can still type (ie no Mommy saying”get off of there, get out of my way”) but today she is right next to me on the couch, so it is interesting for both of us.

Today is a fun day – we are having a potluck at work to say goodbye to a coworker who is leaving, so I am cooking a pot roast in the crock pot to bring along, and will head to Ellsworth around 11. While there, I guess I will mosey along to the fabric store to get the batting and backing I need to finish my quilt project. But if they don’t have what I want, how sad, I will head up to Bangor to the store where I started this project. And while there, I will make a Target run, as we need new laundry lingerie bags, and that seems to be the only place around that I can rely on them being in stock (don’t say “Wal*Mart” to this woman, I do NOT shop there, unless under duress.)

Aside: Allie just left. She is now boxing with Zumba, who before that was curled up asleep in a box under the Christmas tree. Zumba is surely wondering what she did that made her deserve to be pounced upon by her sister.

Anyway… Once in Target, I might find a few other things to buy. Just maybe. And as long as I am in Bangor, I might as well head over to AC Moore and use my gift card. he he he.

I am sort of annoyed at JoAnn’s – I also got a gift card for their store, and I went online, found a real deal on copic markers, ordered a whole bunch, used the gift card and credit card to pay. They confirmed the order, then cancelled it with the terse note that they would refund my credit card. I emailed back to ask if they would also restore my gift card balance so I could use it in the store. No response. Helllloooo – JoAnn customer service if you are reading this, please go read my email and respond.

So I am not sure if I will stop there – maybe I will and start by having them check the balance on it.

Either way, I see a day of consumerism on my horizon. And how nice that I can do most of it without spending “real” money. And leaving my little yarn stash intact!

Another aside: have I told you how I get my yarn money? Very crafty of me, I am sure. Each week we give ourselves an allowance of $20 for incidentals. My deal is when I get the new $20, I take all the remaining money out of my wallet and stash it. Also, we save all of our change in a bank, and now and then we roll it up and split it between us – that also goes in the yarn stash. And any stray money that comes my way, like my Biggest Loser winnings, or little lottery winnings (also split) or small gifts or findings goes right in there. It is amazing to me how fast it adds up to enough cash to buy real yarn! This Christmas, Mom gave it a big boost with a gift certificate to Halcyon in Bath, which I will have so much fun spending! But not today, as Bath is a whole day trip. I’ll wait until Mom and sister C can go, too. So anyway, if I need to make a big purchase, I use my yarn stash. But for small things like half a yard of muslin, the regular old household account can handle. I try to keep my yarn stash for special occasions like Maine Fiber Frolic, the Common ground Fair, and trips to the “real” yarn stores in Belfast, Rockland and Bath. I haven’t been over to Shirley’s in Hancock in a while, either. That’s another good LYS. Which is why I have almost $100 in the yarn stash right now.

The other project I am working on is our mortgage refinancing application. It is so annoyingly tedious. Not hard, just tedious. I want to get it done, so we can reduce our rate and get rid of our PMI faster, but of course, we are nervous about the appraisal value and wondering if it has dropped a lot since we last did this. Only one way to find out – apply, get it appraised, and pay the hundreds of dollars to see how we are faring. Is it any wonder I keep putting this off?

time to go log on and plug away at it. Let me just run and do that. After I move the laundry. And do the breakfast dishes. And get another cup of coffee.

Besides Christmas….

Although Christmas prep and activity takes up lots of our December, we have been doing a few other things.

We are on vacation this week, and it is pretty low-key – no real plans. Last Friday evening we had a friend over for a visit and some pizza. It was a great visit, we don’t get together often (although she follows this, so knows what I am up to.) That day was a stormy day, and so around 8:30, the power went out. No big deal as it wasn’t cold out – I know, it’s Maine, it’s December, but really, it was warm and rainy. So we lit some candles and kept on chatting.

What was funny was the reaction of a family member of hers who texted while we were visiting, and when he found out the power was out reacted with “YIKES!” we laughed about it, but then the next day, we heard from someone else who has family away that they had the same reaction, and another friend of mine sent a message saying that she hoped we were OK. I know that the last few big news events about power outages have been huge hideous stories. But this is rural America. We have trees. When it rains, snows and blows, they come down, and it takes a while for the power company to clean it up and get power back. Not a while like weeks, but a while like a day or so. In this case, it was about 16 hours. It is a bit frustrating, and a bit nice, we know it will happen at least once a winter, so we have “systems” in place. A wood stove we can light if it gets cold. Candles, flashlights, batteries, cell phones. We even have an old-fashioned corded, plugged-into-the-wall style phone that works without electricity. I have a battery operated head lamp, so I can read. Can’t watch TV. Can’t run the water. But there is quite a bit of water in the system if the power goes out unexpectedly. If we think it will, we fill some pitchers and call it good. So, everyone – the power was out. It is back on. We were and are fine.

(of course, on that note, we are in the midst of a snow storm right now, and I should probably go fill a few pitchers…)

Saturday we went for our walk, dropped presents off at the neighbor’s and went into town for a Dunkin run (the one thing you can’t do when the power is out is make good, hot coffee). Then we came home and wrapped presents. We had a nice visit from an old friend bearing lots of homemade candies his wife made – just what we needed for the wrapping marathon!

Sunday was slow and easy, a few errands, no pressure. We were amazed that we were so ready for Christmas so far ahead, very unusual for us. No last minutes forays for wrapping paper or bows, presents organized, wrapped, bagged and ready to roll.

Monday we went to Bangor to meet up with A’s niece and her kids, and sister-in-law L. We had a good lunch at Olive Garden (note – try 11:30 Christmas Eve morning for no lines there!) and stopped at a new little market in Holden for the broccoli, which I had forgotten to get for Christmas Day. We were both impressed at how grown up niece E and nephew S are getting – it is possible to have conversations with them! They are lots of fun, enthusiastic about their interests. S is doing a lot of thinking about next year (college) and what he wants to be. We told him the two probably won’t really go together in the long-term, but he should be interested in whatever he studies. Don’t think I know anyone who is really doing what they planned to do at 17. Well, maybe one. Not sure they still like it, though.

Monday evening, we opened our presents to each other and the cats opened their stockings. They got great stuff – cable ties, crinkly balls. Allie wasn’t too interested, but Zumba was in heaven.

Zumba's Christmas

While A knew about the miter saw stand, she was very surprised with the Belgian waffle maker from King Arthur Flour (made in America!!!!) – and I think she likes it. We got waffles today, anyway, and when she next has to make breakfast for the gang at work, she will haul it in for them.

I got TWO cricut cartridges I wanted (ornamental iron 2 and Art Nouveau), plus gift cards to Joann’s and AC Moore – fun fun fun! Also got lots of candy in my stocking and an iTunes gift card, so I can get some new music, which is super as I only had 1 cent left on my account.

I also got some fleece lined jeans from A. They are cozy and warm, and a little snug, so I need to stick to walking and try not to eat all that candy! (pet peeve – why aren’t companies consistent in their sizing???? I have three pair so pants from this company in my closet, and they are all the same size. A ordered a size LARGER by error, and they still barely fit! Mom got me a pair of jeans in the size I said, and they were way too small. I exchanged them for a pair 2 sizes up and they fit just fine. Shouldn’t we be able to expect consistency across a brand???) Anyway, we watched sappy Christmas movies and opened our presents, and had a good Xmas Eve.

Christmas was at Mom’s, and lots of fun, with all siblings there, and all but 2 grandchildren. Bill cooked a giant roast, and we all brought everything else, so Mom had to set the table and make cookies. It sure makes it easier to have everyone bring parts of the meal. Mom spoiled us all as usual – A got a really cool dovetail jig thing for making drawers – I think she will have the world’s fanciest custom-made closet some day. 🙂 I got dishes and a gift card for yarn, and clothes.

We siblings and spouses did a Yankee Swap, our first, and it was fun – people put a lot of thought into the gifts, and there was some good-natured swapping going on. A gallon of maple syrup made the rounds, as did an ice globe lantern kit. A had number 1 (how does she always get that?) and so we brought home the syrup. I swapped for to get ice grippers for our shoes, which I have been wanting, as our ramp and stairs get icy. I hope we do that again next year.

Little E got lots of books and toys – she didn’t really care, just wanted more presents, as one would expect at that age. I think when she ran out, she started looking through to see what she got, and she will be glad to have the books when she learns more reading. She taped all the bows onto her dress and looked quite cute.

Yesterday was a low-key day – we went for our walk in the morning – in daylight! and saw lots of neighbors out doing the same. Pretty amazing to have bare ground on December 26, so we all took advantage. A had a doctor’s appointment in Blue Hill, so I got to check out the Barnacle shop, and use a gift certificate I won last summer. As there was a great sale going on, I was able to stretch it, and got a few granite block magnets, some earrings and a puzzle, all for three dollars! And found a new store which looks like a good source of Maine made gifts, as well as clothing, mens and womens, owned by a local person, not a huge conglomerate. My favorite kind of shopping. After A got done, we went up to Ellsworth where I exchanged the jeans, and we did some grocery shopping and had lunch at Burger King. Biggest loser is SO over with. We had better have a New Year’s resolution or two. 🙂

We came home and I had every intention of going up to the craft room, but instead, took a long nap on the couch in front of the fire. LOVE winter vacations! I did put a crock pot of ham and pea soup together, so I accomplished SOMETHING.

Today we are having a snow storm. We should be getting somewhere between 7-12 inches. Glad we are home already, and not having to travel to and from work today. It will be a while before A will want to walk outside. Even with ice grips on…

So, now I am going to get a bowl of homemade ham and pea soup for lunch, and then head up to the craft room. Really. No nap yet…

Knitting in progress:
more hats for giving, and a new Estonian lace project, a blue one this time, for a wonderful woman at work. It is out of Swan’s Island fingering weight yarn that Mom gave me from her stash. I have the borders almost done (I knit the top one first not last, in case I run short of yarn. As it gets grafted on at the end anyway, it doesn’t matter what order I do it in. While I don’t like grafting, it does make this part easier.)

biggest loser update

A gained a bit of weight this week, and I lost only .2 pounds, so we are NOT the winners this week.  But our previous weeks losses keep us at number 1 nad 2 overall.  Of course, coworker Dave is gaining ground all the time, don;t know how he does it.  A is annoyed, as she ate the same and exercised almost the same this past week.  We are hoping for a fluid retention weight loss this week.  Beats a plateau any day. I just need to get up and walk more to lose my usual pound or so a week.  I guess we will see how that goes this week!

biggest loser

I am getting a complex. I keep writing the same post, it keeps disappearing.  What’s up, WordPress?

A came in second on the last contest, I came in 4th – woo hoo!  The group decided to start again, this is our first week,a dn I lost the most.  It won’t happen again, but I wanted to do it once.  A and I each lost over 4 pounds.  Now we will settle back to our standard one or two pounds a week.

Biggest loser week 7

I gained a pound, and A lost her usual 2. She is in the running for winning the whole prize, and losing 25 pounds!! I am so proud of her.

If she wins she will get cash AND get to keep the trophy they have been passing around each week. Second place also gets cash – but no trophy or bragging rights.  🙂

Biggest loser week 6

Almost forgot again!  I stayed the same, A lost 2 pounds.  She is going for a whole 25 by the end of the contest, and she just might make it.  She is in the lead as well, although she hasn’t won the weekly trophy in a while she is holding steady.

I want to win that darned thing just once, but I have to pay more attention to my stress eating.

Biggest loser week 2

Almost forgot!

A lost 2 pounds, I lost 1.

Dave at the office won the weekly award, A had to turn over the trophy to him.  Not sure we will stand a chance of getting it back this week, as we are eating differently – but we will try – lots of walking in our plans.

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