Well into the mad dash to Christmas

This weekend I realized that I have a lot of things to get done before the big day.  Until now, I have thought “Oh, December 9th.  Next month.”  and “Christmas – weeks away”

But December 9th is next weekend.

That is when we have our family carol sing party at Mom’s – aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, all in-laws, and offspring gather together for food and singing.  For a giver with her act together, it is a chance to save a great deal on postage.  🙂  So, I am feverishly working on a my present for my aunt and uncle, and have gotten a start on the Christmas cards… need to have at least a dozen done and ready to deliver.  I think I can do it. Not sure how or when I will get the other 50-60 done, but I will.  Hope no one minds a good holiday card coming after 12/25, lol.

I also got all the November birthday cards and presents together to deliver next week – crazy late on those!

December 9th is also the mailing deadline for a fiber swap I am doing with a  friend over on Ravelry.  I have gathered such a  nice bundle of things together for her, it is going to be hard to part with them!  I packed the box up this weekend, just a have a few more things to add to it and it will be ready to go.

And knitting.  In order to avoid the legwarmers I promised myself I would knit for the youngest niece this year, I agreed to test knit a hat (and the yarn is SO SOFT and wonderful!) and I am knitting another hat that someone ordered.  And I would like to finish the chain mail shawl, it looks reproachfully at me all the time.  It is soft and lovely and sparkly, but other things have deadlines.

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So, things will be happening fast at my house, and all pleasure knitting and spinning must wait until the other things are done.  Because it is the mad dash to Christmas now. I think I can make it.

 

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.  🙂

A month of news, with photos

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I got you caught up on what we are up to!  It has been a rather crazy month – bookended by holidays, filled with family visits and parties, a crazy amount of knitting for the holiday pop-up shop, shopping, and finally, vacation this week, and we both have nasty colds.  It never fails that when we make plans to get through big chores during vacation, someone’s health suffers.  Still, we have managed to get things done that need to be done, and so have time to just lie about and enjoy ill health.

This month has included thanksgiving and gingerbread house decorating:

 

Followed by some major furniture moving the next day.  This buffet is an immense solid piece that was my great, great grandmother’s.  It holds the many many dishes that my grandmother gave me over the years.  We hardly ever use any of them, because A is nervous about using the “good” china, but every now and then I break it out.  Thanksgiving is one of those times.  But I have never had it all out at once, as we had to do to move the buffet. It is a little overwhelming, all these dishes for two people.

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Oh, and these were in there as well.  Not the pumpkin, but everything else.  The white and gold dishes were another great-great grandmother’s, the clear glass ones were given to me on my 40th birthday by my mother’s aunt – a wedding gift to her in the thirties.

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With the buffet out of the way, we can move the table to the wall, which opens up the dining area quite a bit.  The table comes out far enough that the light is not a hazard to navigation.  It is easy to pull out when we need to fit more people around it.

 

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Where did we put the buffet?  We moved it to the living room section of the room, against the big wall, behind where all those people were sitting at Thanksgiving.  The couch used to live there, but now lives across the room.

I took this picture before the move was finished, because I loved the shadows on the wall. The sun is so low, it shines in at that angle at about 2 pm. No leaves on the trees, the lines are so pretty.

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Then it was time for the holiday pop-up shop in Bucksport, Creatively Maine to open.  The open house was the Sunday night after Thanksgiving – I too lots of photos, but that is because all of the crafts and arts were so amazing, but more than that – the fact that Sonja was able to take the work of 53 artists and in TWO days create this space from a plain white box.  So, here are some of the pictures I too that evening.  The neat thing is that every time I go in, it is different – as people buy things and stock gets replenished, she rearranges to fill gaps, and so it always looks fresh and amazing.  And in about two weeks it will all be gone, packed up and cleaned out.

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All of this jewelry is made with eggshells.  Yep, eggshells.  She raises chickens and one day got the idea of painting and dying the shells and making jewelry.  She does something to it so that it doesn’t break easily, and they are actually quite lovely.

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Here are some of my things – and some one else’s hats as well.  (The large black and white one did not stay on the little head very long, she switched it out the next day.  🙂 )

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You can see some of my shawls hanging on the rack in the background of this shot – I put three in the shop, including an Estonian lace one that had a (for me) high price tag on it. Funnily enough all were some shade of blue-green.  I kept all the other ones I knit this year, and parted sadly with these three.  🙂

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This window is on my “really want and don’t know what I would do with it” list.

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From my frame of reference, the shop has done really well.  I sold several hats, and two of the three shawls, including the Estonian lace one!  I also had a custom hat order from a guy who saw the TV coverage of the opening, spotted my hats in the background and came in to buy one.  He was disappointed to find that the one he wanted he had only seen from the back, and it was a woman’s hat.  So I knit him up one without the button flap and button.  🙂  There is still about ten days to go, but I expect the big sales will be done tonight when the shop closes. My yarn stash now has a bit of cash in it, which is good.  And I have a nice sized bag of yarn for making hats and shawls, which I will work on this year so that I have a bigger inventory ready to go and won’t have to spend every waking minute in October and November making hats.  🙂 Having the shawls sell well also feels really good – vindication – they are beautiful AND practical and people will buy them.  I’ll make more, and try to brace myself to part with them.

Onward….

We got our tree last week, and decorated it this week. A declared that anything we don’t put out for Christmas decorations this year is going out the door, so I kind of overdid the ornaments, lol.  I also decided she is wrong.  Anything that doesn’t get put out this year gets reviewed and possibly given away next year.  But not definitely.  I like to mix things up a bit.

 

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So that brings us up to date – the house is decorated, the presents are bought and wrapped, the Christmas cards were mailed Tuesday (just a BIT late!) and we are sitting around this Christmas Eve wondering if we will be well enough to go to Mom’s tomorrow for the big festivities… I think I will be, but not sure about A  which will mean my day there is abbreviated, as hers was last week for her family gathering.  That was different – I participated in the Yankee Swap by cell phone pix and text.  It was fun, but not the same.

But while we wait , sniffle, and hack, I can work on some deadline-free knitting –  I’ll finish this up, make a hat to match, then list it on Etsy.  THEN I will get back to the things I was making last September… 🙂

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And a post from me would not be complete without a few cat photos – Zumba has been particularly cute this month.  🙂 She loved checking out the bags that came in on Thanksgiving, they all smelled so good!

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She is finally growing hair on her belly – guess we solved her food allergies at last. She loves to stretch out and show it off in front of the fire.

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Happy Christmas to all!

Holidays at work

I work for a non-profit with little cash for things like employee moral.  We work with people who face really hard times, and so at times our work can be quite draining.  Thus, we have to make our own fun.

Each year we have a door decorating contest – prize is bragging rights only.  Last year I was housed in the Finance Division, and we created this masterpiece:

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It was great fun to do and we did win the grand prize.

This year I am in a smaller office, along a hall of similar spaces.  This is what my next door neighbor created this year.  She is a wonderfully up-beat person who always has a smile and a kind word.  The photos of tots being not so good are very funny, and I wish you could see them more clearly in this photo.  I know her clients will enjoy seeing that door.

 

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I currently share a small over-crowded office with a big-hearted but curmudgeonly fellow who has the job of making sure we all have funding – a job that requires him to smile and be genial all day and evening long.  It is a job filled with highs and lows, frustration and moments of glory.  He and I share a dark humor that helps him smile when he really wants to say  “WTF are you thinking?” many times a day.  He is NOT into door decorating and stuff like that. He isn’t against it but has no time or energy for it.  He would give you the shirt off his back if he thought it would help, but don’t even talk to him about where to hang the tinsel.

So it was left up to me to put together a door that properly represented the two of us and our unique outlook.  Yesterday I sketched a plan, showed it to him and got a guffaw and a “go for it!”

This morning I arrived early and implemented my design.  Here it is – we won’t win any awards, but we have people who know us laughing, given that the door is a foot away from the cheerful welcoming one of our neighbor.

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Happy holidays to you!

Craft room cleanout giveaway!

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I know Crimson Crow has been waiting to see this post for a few weeks – and here it is!

When working on the craft room clean out (still in process) we worked on a bin of fabric I had. It had a lot of fabric I love but have to face that I will never use.

It is too good to just heave, so I thought I would offer it up as a giveaway here.

There are about two yards of each of the red, green, and cream (the cream one is a wee bit darker than shows in the photograph, but not much). The print is small but not busy, and obviously, they are all the same print in the different colorways.

It’s all been washed and dried, so should be ready for your sewing or crafting needs.

Want it? Leave a comment by next Thursday night and include your email address (it is OK to spell it out if you want to defeat the web crawlers), and I will draw the winner on Friday. No limit as to where you live, I’ll be glad to ship this fabric to a new home anywhere.

Good luck!

Best Christmas present ever

t’s been a long two days. Power went out Monday afternoon. Ice storm didn’t really stop until Tuesday morning.

We chipped out the cars, kept the wood stove in the cellar going, which kept the house up to about 60 degrees, until the wind and bitter cold moved in. then it was rough keeping it up to 60.

But the cellar was warm, so we knew we were OK, even though we don’t have a lot of firewood.

Everywhere we went Tuesday (for hot coffee, the mail, etc) we heard the same word from the power company – no lights until Friday!

So, we packed the contents of the fridge and freezer into coolers and buried them in banks of ice, melted ice on the wood stove, and hunkered down.

A had the brilliant idea that we should open our presents to each other early, so we could see what we got in daylight. We decided to do it where we could be warm, so we carried everything down to the cellar, and what a picture!

Presents piled on the workbench, us very grubby sitting in lawn chairs in front of the fire. Only in Maine!

The sad part was that we each got the other a nice big present that required electricity, so it was a bit anticlimactic. I got her a digital camera that has rechargeable batteries, and she got me a TV with a dvd player for the craft room! Very exciting, as I like to watch movies when I sew, and haven’t been able to since we moved in here.

Today with the bitter cold, I went to Mom’s alone, A stayed home and tended the fire, then, in the middle of the day headed up to see her sister L for lunch, and snagged a shower, too.

I showered at Mom’s, and had a nice day with her and B, my brother C and sister, brother-in-law and niece little E. My other brother N and his family stayed home because N and his son are sick, and they have no power, so he didn’t want to leave the house that long, and the girls decided to stay home with him. So we were a quiet group, with plenty of food to eat, and E got lots of attention as the only kid. 🙂

I left there around 4 and headed back, and as I got closer to our house, I noticed lots of power company trucks and tree trucks around, and houses with lights. The closer I got to home the more excited I was to see lights on. And I turned down our lane and saw it – a light on at our house!

I came in not to a cold dark house as I had imagined, but to one where the dishwasher was running (yeah!) the pellet stove was fired up and the tree lights were on.

Yahoo! Wonderful Christmas gift! Thank you, Central Maine Power Company! I don’t think I could have stood no coffee for two more days. And the dishes were piling up in the sink.

And I have a new TV and lots of movies to watch!
Which is good because, unbelievably, it is going to snow tomorrow and into Friday.

Almost Friday

Here it is Thursday night and I never told you how I made out with my Friday list!

I did pretty well actually – got to Lowe’s and got the miter saw stand – pretty funny story there, actually – A and I were setting our Christmas budget, and I wanted it to be $100 more than she was saying, because when I saw the stand, I was sure the price was $100 more than she was budgeting for. I finally said “look, make it this much more than the price of that darned stand so I can get you some surprises!” and she agreed. So off I went to the store, and lo and behold – they had 2 – one was $100 more than the other. So we were both right. I of course, justified getting her the cheaper one because it is the one she was expecting – but also because it looks more like the size she wants – the expensive one was massive with giant wings, etc. I did order her the waffle iron, and I got her the chair repair kit as well. Now I have a little bit of money left to do her stocking.

I did go to the Toyota dealer,and was pleasantly surprised – nothing unusual wrong, so just got the tires rotated and the oil changed – and had enough Down East Toyota points to get it done for free! Gotta love that!

A came in just as I was getting ready to pay, so we headed across the street to Ruby Tuesday for dinner. I got the salad bar with a steak – which was silly, as I was too full to eat the steak, but it did mean that I had meals for the rest of the weekend. That is the one thing that is so hard to adjust to following the gastric by-pass surgery – and it has been almost 3 years! I try ordering small portions, and not much, but I always wind up carrying home 3/4 of the meal and eating it for days. You should see how long a pint of fried rice will last me. Ridiculous.

Saturday we were home, doing chores and not cleaning – but working on Christmas presents and cards. The glitter is taking forever…. Nothing too exciting. Sunday I went to Bangor to get niece B and take her down to her Dad’s for a visit – Mom and B came over for a few minutes on their way to a concert, so it was a good visit for B. THe first time the rest of the family has seen her all semester, and she is so close now! Hopefully, she will realize it isn’t so awful to see us, and we wont; take over her life, and we will see more of her in coming semesters. She is studying for finals now, and will head home the minute they end next Friday – her mom is meeting her at the dorm when they end. I will meet them both there so I can pass over the presents. Which are not done yet. eek.

I did finish the last scarf (not a lace one) and it is all pinned out, drying upstairs. Well, probably it is dry, so just sitting there waiting for fringe and wrapping. And I finished a necklace, and strung the beads for the last one. SO I feel like I made good progress on the handmade gifts this weekend.

Off the needles

Last weekend I finished up a project, long-term one, another Estonian lace scarf, and I made a knit/beaded necklace and earrings I have been wanting to try for a long time.  I paid a lot of money for the pattern/kit for the jewelry.  I think I could have figured out the pattern from the picture, but I feel strongly that I should pay the creator of such things (as I want to be paid when I finally get around to publishing something.) Anyway…

They were easy and fast to make, and I think they came out nicely – now that I have paid for the pattern, I will definitely be making more of these going forward – after all, I have lots of lace weight scraps!  And it turns out I have lots of beads as well – from other craft projects and because I can’t resist pretty, shiny things for craft projects. Would it be over the top to create necklaces and earrings to match all the Estonian lace projects I am giving away this Christmas? I think maybe….

This is what the lace looks like fresh off the needles.

Finished another birthday card this weekend as well, and I have two more to make for November birthdays. I’ll try to get photos of those before I mail them!

Right now my knitting project is pretty low-key – worsted weight yarn, a hat of course.  I am making the second one using this “pattern” in my head, if it works out as well as the last one did, I will write it up, because it is a stash buster – lets me use different weights of yarn and still get an end product  that looks great and is warm.  I MIGHT be able to modify it for that pony tail hat I keep thinking about and not making.

I do plan to go upstairs soon and see what I have in the stash for larger projects – I feel like I need more bright wool socks.  Been looking at blogs of amazing knitters, and some of them have wonderful socks.  It’s been a few months since I did my sock binge for the nieces and nephew last winter. Might be time. I also have one more lace scarf in my future, a woman at work who loves my knitting and is good to me deserves a wonderful present. But we will see what i have that excites me when I get into that amazingly organized closet.  🙂