Vacation update

You know, except for the part where I have to keep checking in with work and taking care of things, this has been a really good vacation.

A is away, which is a bummer on one hand, but on the other – I can make a big freaking mess and not have to clean it right up.  I can leave the dishes in the sink for a few days (excuse?  we ran out of dish soap.)

So what have I been doing?  Well, puttering mostly, with lots of down time.  I finished a little pebble landing area at the base of the screen porch step – a spin off from the pool project.  I am always tracking sand into the house, even with two mats between inside and out.  So I figured if there were some pebbles at the bottom of the step, that could really help.  And I have all these pebbles I am getting from sifting dirt in the pool area, so why not add one more thing to the project?

It turns out pretty well – there weren’t too many pebbles in the sand by the step, so I got an extra load of sand for the pool area, and I used lots of little rocks that I would have just piled in the woods.  It didn’t add too much to the pool project, just head in a different direction with the wheel barrow full of stone. I can see that I will some day want to do a whole path like this, but not yet.  

Pool progress doesn’t show in the short term – kind of like a stockinette blanket that way – work fr hours, no difference.  But then when you look at the whole project, suddenly, you can see progress.  I still have a long way to go, but I think I am almost through a slow bad section and I hope the work will speed up a bit.

this morning I finished emptying out the guest room and giving it a thorough cleaning – like window washing and curtain washing kind of cleaning.  It is amazing to me just how much stuff we had stashed away in there that has nothing to do with guests.  It was OK when people were just passing through for a night or two, but if someone not feeling well is coming for a few weeks or more, the room should be calm and welcoming, right?

So, by 10 am, I had already got it emptied and cleaned, and now comes the hard part.  What to put back, what to do with what doesn’t go back?  This is where it is good A isn’t home yet as the living room is now a mess.  That’s how I know we have too much stuff that doesn’t have a true “home” – when cleaning one room completely messes up another.  A is a good one for everything looking neat, but she is one who puts things away out of sight, instead of where they belong.  Especially if it is something that we don’t know where it belongs! I am much more likely to put up with clutter than to put something where it doesn’t belong, but when I clean, I rip things apart and really clean.   And some things that DO belong in there, in general, can’t go in there now.  Like, the vacuum cleaners (one regular, one for the pellet stove)  They live in that closet, because nothing hangs there.  But, we need to allow for the fact that L might want to unpack – so I cleaned off a little set of shelves in the craft room, and put them in the closet, and that leaves a nice amount of space for some hanging things, should she want it.  But who wants a dirty old vacuum cleaner or two in there with your clean clothes?  I know I wouldn’t.  So, I will have to find a temporary home for those two things. Somehow we muddle along OK, but I still say it is good she isn’t here right now.  🙂 

I have also been knitting a lot. How’s the Hitchhiker coming along, you ask?  and the newest socks?  Well, I can say i have stuck to the rules of the Sock KAL and have done at least a row each day, but that might be all.  And hte hitchhiker has been abandoned for a brief moment.  I broke all my rules, but for a good reason, really.  I have made 4 hats in two days, and cast on another.  I have had this yarn kicking around fr a while, intended for hats for the craft fair in November.  And it suddenly occurred to me that it is September.  When, exactly will I be making these hats?  So, I went through my whole stash, sorted it out into hat projects, filled a big bag and brought that down into the linen closet (again,, good A wasn’t home to see that) and dug out the box of Lamb’s Pride I bought just for this purpose, and set to work. I had hoped to finish up all the lamb’s pride before A got home, but that wont; happen.  Still, I should be bale to make two more hats today, and that will put a good dent in it.  I am mostly making two patterns with this batch of yarn – Kaleidoscope’s Super Bulky Button Hat and Halcyon Yarn’s Alpine Topper.  The Button hat calls for bulky yarn held double, so it knits up REALLY fast.  The Alpine Topper is slower to knit, as it has color work, but it uses bulky yarn held single – good for all the leftovers from the button hat.  I haven’t added these as Ravelry projects, but I will get photos when I am done.  I made several of the button hats with leftovers from the stripey yarn CAL I did last summer, and so have some of those to add to my craft fair pile as well.

With the stash yarn, I will play about a bit more as none if it is really bulky.  I expect I will make some cable hats, and swirly hats and probably some plain old roll brim caps. I notice that all my yarns are in the same colors – mostly blues and purples and sea-foam type colors.  The Lamb’s Pride I ordered is several shades of gray and some red.  So I think I need to get my sister to choose some colors for me to work with , to broaden my array of hats – I never ever choose earth tones, but I expect that some people who might want to buy a hat would want to buy those colors, right?

And wait until you see the buttons I have for the button hat – Oh, I found such great ones at a local store – a young couple who owns a quarry makes stone buttons!  Just slices of beautiful granite.  Photos of those to come eventually as well.  🙂

Well enough about what i have been doing, I have hats to knit and rooms to put back together – A is coming home tonight!

I’ll catch up with you later, and maybe have photos as well!

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the view from the couch

After doing taxes yesterday in spite of knowing better, today is a lay-low day.

I got up, moved to the couch, surrounded myself with my three knitting projects, the remote control, a cup of coffee and a glass of juice, a box of kleenex, cuddled under my CAL stripey blanket. Tigger settled by my feet. What more do I need? I should be able to lick this cold in no time.

We have taped all the Olympic coverage, and I think I am up to Thursday with watching. It makes my knees hurt to watch some of these events. But it doesn’t hurt my fingers, so I am making progress on all WIPS. Necklace knitting is done, I just need to sew on the clasp.

First of sock pair # 3 is an Olympic feat – made it up the foot, around the heel and am now on the final downhill stretch! I LOVE the little needle. More of these in a few sizes are in my future. I did struggle with turning the heel, and eventually went back to two longer circulars for that. But for pure round and round knitting, it just flies on that little fellow.

The vest – I am supposed to knit to 11.5 inches before starting armholes, I am around 8 inches right now. Even though it is bulky, it is slow, the rows are long. The Lopi yarn is much more scratchy than anything I have worked on in a long time, but as it will be an outer wear piece, I think that is OK. The periwinkle color is so pretty. 🙂

We had a very uneventful Valentine’s Day – When I got home (with her favorite pizza picked up in a snow storm, I might add) I lay on the couch, fell asleep and didn’t wake up for three hours. When I did, I fund a cute little basket from A and the cats, with some candy and a little kitten puzzle. And today, everywhere I go, I find little cards she tucked around in my coffee cup, my book, the computer. Who knows how many more there are? Glad I got her some truffles and made a card in addition to the pizza. 🙂

So while I dozed, knit, and watched Olympics through the biased eyes of NBC, A went and got the car serviced, did the grocery shopping, did some laundry, cleaned the pellet stove, cleaned the snow and ice off the walk and driveway. I was feeling guilty, but she reminded me I did the same when she was sick. Whew!

Naturally, it is snowing again. It was supposed to stop yesterday morning, it never did – it rained for a while, but then snowed all afternoon. A wee bit of sun this morning, then clouds, now another storm. I think we are in the 8-12 inch area, depending, of course, on where it actually tracks and how fast it goes. Looks like the Maritimes will get slammed by this one, though. Again. This storm should last most of tomorrow, and then we are to get some sun on Monday. Snow on Tuesday. I might have to start wintering below the equator. This is too depressing. But I am getting lots of knitting done.

Here’s a quick shot of the valentine’s I sent the family… sorry about the photography, I am getting better at the glitter shots, but some sun would help. I used the Cricut Folk Art Cartridge, one of my favorites. This is the cutout heart, the solid cart, the shadow heart, all stacked on a 4 by 5.5 inch card. Accents are Rangers silver glitter and silver pearl dimensional paint.

folk art 2014

Off the camera – at last! – and what I have been up to so far this week

So, sometimes it takes me a week to get through the Friday list, what can I say?

One of the things I did this weekend was make the cranberry sauce for Thursday. These are the beautiful berries we got from Sugar Hill, a local grower. They were so beautiful that I thought they deserved to thaw in a crystal bowl. I used two pounds and got about 4.5 pints, two of which we need for Thanksgiving, and 2.5 we don’t. 🙂 We will use some Friday for our second Thanksgiving with A’s family, but that will be a small gathering, so I think we will have some for our own future use. Plus, I have 2 more pounds of berries in the freezer, so I can make more… unless I decide to make my favorite cranberry duff with some of them.

cranberries

cranberries1

cranberries label

cranberries done

While I was making the sauce, I managed to crush my pinkie in the hinge of a cabinet door. I still am not quite sure how I did it, but it hurt like a son of a gun. We got ice on it fast, and A even bought me a splint when she was out, so I taped it up over night, and it recovered fairly quickly.

I have been knitting up a storm lately – these mitts are with the leftover yarn from the Pi shawl that I waited so long to finish – which also shows how little yarn I was short. 😦

wristwarmers

These were pretty basic to make – I cast on 40 stitches. knitting back and forth, I used k2 p2 for all but the center panel which was a two stitch cable on either side of a four stitch horseshoe cable with a purl between the cable panels.

I used Quince and Co Finch (fingering weight, very stretchy)on size 7 needles. I knit both at once, so that they would be the same.

For each, cast on 42 stitches. Set up rows are as follows:
mitt 1: k2 p2 place marker k2 p1 k4 p1 k2 place marker p2 * k2 p2 repeat from * 6 times
mitt 2: p2 * k2 p2 repeat from * 6 times place marker k2 p1 k4 p1 k2 place marker p2 k2 p2

pattern, working back and forth:
outside of markers, follow k2 p2 ribbing as established. Inside of markers, work cable pattern:
row 1 and 3 – p2 k1 p4 k1 p2
row 2 – place first stitch on cable needle in front of work, knit next stitch, knit stitch off cable needle (first cable made over 2 stitches), p1, slip next knit stitch onto cable needle, hold behind work, knit next stitch, knit stitch from cable needle,place next stitch on cable needle in front of work, knit next stitch, knit stitch off cable needle (horseshoe cable made over 4 stitches), p1,slip next knit stitch onto cable needle, hold behind work, knit next stitch, knit stitch from cable needle (third cable made over two stitches,)
row 4 – place first stitch on cable needle in front of work, knit next stitch, knit stitch off cable needle (first cable made over 2 stitches), p1, k 4, p1,slip next knit stitch onto cable needle, hold behind work, knit next stitch, knit stitch from cable needle

repeat until as long as you would like (mine are about 6 inches), bind off in rib knit (don’t work cables in bind off row)

Fold, sew side seams, leaving at least a 2 inch gap for thumb opening.

If your hands are larger or smaller than mine, you can add or leave off sections of k2 p2 ribbing, but if adding or subtracting a lot, you might want to adjust where the center panel sets.

I also have been knitting hats, can you believe it?

1 hat

I love this side button hat, I think I have shared the pattern before – Kaleidoscope side button hat. I used the extra yarn from the CAL striped blanket, and made these beauties. Now, to figure out how to sell them. the ones with no buttons are waiting my creative genius. While I love the glass buttons on them, the buttons actually cost more than the yarn, so I can’t keep using them if I really want to sell them. My sister is going to think about making pottery buttons, and I am going to think about other options as well. Meanwhile, I have finally used up all the leftover yarn, so will stop making them for a while. Until I make my big red sweater and maybe have some more leftover bulky yarn…

warm hats

I also made a couple more hats for charity – one for work (the variegated) and one for the Nest Maine box (the bulky striped one) which I am working on filling. I use the flat rate shipping box, and want to pack it full, to maximize my shipping dollars. So, I will be making a few more before I ship it, but I want to ship it this week if possible, so I will keep on knitting hats.

label

more warm hats

I did block the Pi shawl, but haven’t gotten a photo of it yet – I will say that following E Zimmerman’s instructions to really stretch it make a huge difference, I would not be surprised if it grew half again in diameter. And became lovely and lacy in the process. So – 6 skeins of Quince and CO Finch on size 8 needles is perfect.

Other things on the camera – proof that the three cats are getting along better – all on the bed playing with A. (favorite game, fingers under sheet). While Allie requires the safety of the box to play with Tigger, she at least is willing to stay on the bed and play, which is very good for all of us.

3 cats

And the jade plant is blooming like never before – I would not say covered, exactly, but certainly there are many blossoms on it, very pretty! Too bad I have to keep it locked in the guest room away from the cats.

flower

flower2

Now, what else have I done this week?

Well, I cleaned the kitchen – the “wash the cabinets” kind of cleaning. It took two days, which is embarrassing, but I did take frequent breaks for knitting. 🙂

I did get upstairs to begin the Christmas card process, but I really am NOT feeling inspired this year, not sure why not. I have an idea for them, but it is complicated, and two years ago I did really complicated cards and I remember what a pain that was, so I want to simplify the idea. After all, I make at least 60, and usually closer to 100 cards… simple is good! Last night I was up there, cleaning up from Halloween cards, and when I came downstairs (in my stocking feet) I slipped on the stair and fell down a few steps. Made a loud crash, banged up my back and feet (against the wall at the bottom) so we got the ice out AGAIN and I relaxed and knit for the rest of the evening.

Not sure why I am being so clumsy lately, but I was sure to wear shoes when I went upstairs today.

And maybe tomorrow I will actually start making the cards…

A and I went to Ellsworth yesterday morning early to do a strange assortment of things, including dropping off donations at Good Will, and attempting to being some leftover supplies to Re-Store (not open Mondays) as well as a stop at the library to drop off and pickup books on cd. They have some nice long ones we haven’t heard before, they make the commute go faster. When we were all done, it was still breakfast time, so we went out for omelets before heading home. We were home by 10, with lots of time to do all those other chores.

Sunny Sunday

Ya know, this whole stay out of the sun thing is going to bring me down. It is a beautiful day for floating in the pool reading my book, and I can’t do it. I could cover my elf from head to toe and get in and scoop out the leaves, which is nice and relaxing, but I can’t really go swimming yet,until I get the stitches out, and I sure can’t float around in the sun anymore. At least until I hear that the big thing on my back is harmless. And I haven’t heard that yet, so I am a little cranky.

I called (twice) on Friday, and the office finally got back to me to say the results weren’t in. that sounds kind of fishy to me, and so I will follow up Monday morning. She said it would take a week, L, our ex-lab tech, said they would have results in a couple of days. So I am frustrated and growing more nervous.

Which means I should sit and do crafts. 🙂 I have been doing that today. I worked on making a couple of cards, and I hung up the collage I made when C was here, and I started my next craft project, which is a tray. It might get a tiled bottom, or it might just be a painting project, not sure yet. Depends if I can find the tile i want. In Martha Stewart Living quite a while ago, I saw a tray she made where she popped out some tiles and replaced them with sea glass. As I have BUCKET loads of the stuff, I have always wanted to do it. I was left alone at AC Moore on Friday (he he he ) and they had some small wooden trays, so I thought now is a good time to try it.

They had a whole lot of other stuff, too, so I got some Halloween ribbon (can you believe it is almost Halloween? It must, be the stores are full of goblins and candies. What happened to September?) and a cute rubber stamp of a row of houses, and a bunch of other things I “needed” which I am sure you will be seeing signs of eventually.

What I did not find, and maybe all of you savvy crafters can help me with is the yarn I can visualise but not find. It has to be washable, and it should feel nice, but other than that, I don’t care what it is made of. It should be Dk or worsted weight. Here’s the hard part. I want three colorways that look nice together – a burgundy, a navy, and a hunter green. Then, I want at least one variegated yarn that also goes with these colors. Ideally, I want three variegated yarns, one with greens, one with blues, one with burgundies. Then, I want a neutral that goes with all – either a gray or a cream, I think. Apparently, this is hard to find in Bangor, ME. I can find the solids, but the variegateds I find don’t match, and I haven’t yet found the two-colored variegated I want. All of this is to make A a CAL blanket. I don’t want to do it with less than 7 colors, and she is fussy and wants those particular colors. I might have to cave and not let her have all three, if I can’t find a variegated that will work with them all. I suspect I could find it all in dear old Lamb’s Pride, but keeping it clean and cat free is going to mean lots of washing, which would felt the Lamb’s Pride very quickly. So I will keep searching. If any of you have tips, please let me know!

So. I did manage the whole Friday list on Friday – and we had a really nice time visiting A’s Aunt N. she’s a hoot, and we heard some new stories about people in A’s family. Met two fo her great grandsons, who live in her basement apartment. They are cute little boys, and very fun. We are so glad that they live there, and so Aunt N is not alone, as she is getting a bit befuddled.

I have almost finished the bundle of things for Diane, the winner of my 100 followers giveaway. Some of it is taking longer than I thought,a ndshe probably thinks it was all a hoax, but it isn’t! Really! 🙂

I suppose I had better get upstairs and finish things up so I can mail them soon, huh? Take advantage of A going into the office for a few hours.

But first – I finished my book group book, the Burgess Boys. I really enjoyed it, even though some of it was hard to read, it definitely is making me think about what it would be like to be a refuge in a country where I did not speak the language nor understand the customs. She really captured what some parts of life in Maine are like, although I don’t live near Lewiston/Auburn where the large Somali refugee population is, so I don’t know if that is right, but it felt genuine. I’ll be interested to hear wha the other book group ladies think of it.

Now, I am going to do a bit of crocheting or something, then head upstairs.

Here are a few photos of things going on around here lately. Sorry they are blurry/crooked – blame the screen and old hands.

But you can see why I rarely need to prune anything in the yard!

collage

collage 1

The collage installed.

deer

fawn

deer in woods

Cute little creatures, as long as they stay out of the garden!

Cal week 12 – I’m Done!

a mere twelve weeks ago, this was my CAL blanket:

Foundation and row 1 - here we go!

And today, here it is! (Sorry about the sunbeam in the middle, didn’t realize it was there until just now.)

complete at last

I didn’t actually do the week 12 rows, just added a couple of HDC rows before starting my border. It obviously needs blocking, one border is a little wavy, a good block would fix that if I were so inclined.but as far as I am concerned, I think it is done! How I did the border – I didn’t have enough yarn on most of the colors to do a whole round, so I did a row of single crochet in the gray all around, spacing the stitches as best I could, then I started with the colors, and just used what I had – if I ran out in mid-row, I just changed colors. I did that and used up all the navy, the periwinkle, the variegated, and the turquoise. I then did a complete round of the teal that started it all.

I love this blanket, it is so warm and cozy – really it is big enough for a twin bed, certainly, it covers the whole couch, so a couple of people can sit and watch tv under it. I (almost) can’t wait for winter. 🙂

A is looking like she really wants one. Although I joke about making her one that is the same colors as the cats, it seems she has other ideas, and would like one that incorporates burgundy, green and navy, her favorite colors. So, I will see what I can find – I want more than 3-4 colors to work with, it was hard, even with 7, to mix it up enough to look random. It will also be washable, since I know cats will sit on her lap this winter. So I guess I have to go yarn shopping!

CAL Week 11

Not a very exciting post – I was so busy last week, I forgot to take row by row photos, which I KNOW make it much more exciting, lol.
week 11 complete

I am farther along on this project than I thought – the blanket is now as long as the couch. I’ll do this week’s rows, and then start figuring out a border. It will be plenty long enough to snuggle under while inspecting the insides of my eyelids this winter.

When it is done, I will have no reason not to get yarn to make another one, right? 🙂 But first, I have to crochet a baby blanket. For that, I will be using the star stitch, which I am so happy to have learned – I have a blanket pattern that is all star, with lousy instructions, so I thought it was hard to do. Now I know how to do it, it is NOT hard, and I will be using it!

Friday to-do list

Good morning! Today my list is more like a normal one, with one little exception. But it has pool, it has crafts, it has chores – life is good, because it has SUNSHINE ALL DAY. 🙂

Without further ado, here it is!

*In the garden:
*Pick last beans and peas, first tomatoes.
*Pull a few weeds

In the yard:

*Wander around with the grass clippers, and check on flowers, weed and water, clip here and there.
*Start gathering first blackberries, and last raspberries for freezer, future jam and jelly!
*Scoop pool

In town:

*Grocery store for a few things (as opposed to a killer trip to restock)
*Doctor’s office to get that annoying spot off my back – fingers crossed that whatever nastiness it is, they get it all. I’ll know in a week or so.
*Book store to pick up the book for this month’s book group – dangerous stop! There is no telling what else I will pick up there. We are reading the Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout. We have read her novel Olive Kittredge, and I really liked it, so I am glad to have this one on the list.

In the house:

*Clean the bathrooms
*Change the guest room bed
*Never-ending laundry
*work on art project left over from C’s visit
*knit
*blog last week’s CAL rows!
*rest and recover
*play with the cats (Tigger caught her first basement mouse, I am so proud! Allie and Zumba watched, so maybe they will pick up this skill.)

Then if I feel up to it, I will head back to Ellsworth for a volunteer appreciation supper with the good folks from Down East Aids Network. It is put on by the board of directors, and there are some amazing cooks on that board, so it is very tempting… even if they weren’t a fun group to spend time with, which they are. 🙂

This seems like a full day, doesn’t it? I’d better get moving.