The next day

It turns out my forecast was pretty accurate, although the wind *might* have been more fierce than I expected.  We got about 14-16 inches of snow, I would guess, although there is no place to really measure it accurately, that is what the towns around us report.  It is still snowing lightly, but the storm is pulling away, and we should see sun this afternoon.  Yeah!

In spite of my shoveling the vent out periodically all day Tuesday, it still clogged and so we have no hot water or radiant heat until the plumber comes over.  I called early, they will call me back when they get a feel for the schedule.  Since we have electricity, we have our pellet stove and of course, the wood stove in the cellar, so the house is quite warm.  However, that means that I have to stay close to home to keep fire going and pellets in the hopper.  And today is the day I was to head over to Mom’s for a visit.  I am bummed. Not to mention the lack of hot water for washing people and dishes and laundry… also a bummer.

I did, however finish the mittens last night, and I wore them out to shovel this morning – so much warmer than my acrylic gloves!  I used Elizabeth’s Zimmerman’s thumb trick, and really like it.  Obviously, I went with a solid thumb, and struggled with keeping the alternating stitch pattern while increasing for the thumb gusset.  I have some ideas how to deal with that the next time, like make the thumb gusset solid, and the thumb. Or do the increases together in the center of the gusset so the pattern isn’t interrupted.  But that won’t be for a while, these were far more work than I expected when I blithely cast them on.  🙂

mittens jan 28

Here’s another shot of something with progress to show – at last!  The blue sweater body, all blocked and drying out, waiting for me to finish knitting the sleeves, which are about 3 or 4 inches long at the moment.

blue sweater jan 28

Aside from waiting for the plumber to call back, today I plan to work on the blue sleeves, maybe cast on a beaded silk necklace for the daughter of a friend, shovel off the decks (more snow on the way, and the next storm is said to be a heavier, wetter snow.  That means we have to clean now while we can!) and I should probably clean up the mudroom, which looks like a wet mitten and boot tornado hit it. A is back at work today, so I can work at my own pace.  🙂

Another knit-heavy post/Today on my needles/What I am up to this bright Monday

On my needles – the photo was taken this morning, but it is what was on the needles all day yesterday.mitten and sweater jan 18

Yesterday I conceded that the cold was winning and did the only thing I know of to beat it – I stayed put on the couch with knitting and Gray’s Anatomy reruns.  All those doctors did the trick, I feel much better today!

The mitten is coming long, although I did rip it back to the cuff when I realized I was carrying the yarn too tightly between needles.  That problem is solved, I have made up all that ground and then some.  I think they will be too long on me, but I will wait and see.  Meanwhile, I am learning about thumbs.  Elizabeth Zimmerman uses something she calls a thumb trick so I am trying it, as she is, after all, a certified knitting genius. I am loving these beauties, I knew I was ready for some red and white mittens!  Because of all the nice carried yarn, they are thick and warm, too.  Can’t wait to get then done and on my hands.

The sweater – sigh.  I love blue, you know I do.  And I do need a blue cardigan, I truly do.  But this “very easy” lace is killing me, I can’t get in the flow of it,so it simply isn’t becoming instinctive and mindless.  However, I made a real push this weekend, and finally got up to the armholes!  Now, the directions have me supposedly knitting first the left front, then the right front (with opposite shaping to the left, of course) and then the back.  And it all says “working in pattern.”  I was in a dilemma, as I can’t read the knitting! How do I know where the heck I am or left off in the pattern? So, I joined two more balls of yarn, and am knitting both fronts and back at the same time.  That way I at least know which row I am on.  I THINK I have figured out where each section begins in the pattern, but time will soon tell.  The good news is that there are now 72 fewer stitches in a row, so it should go faster.  As long as I keep those three balls untangled.  And I will definitely be knitting the two sleeves at the same time so that they stand a chance of matching.

But what else have I been up to?

Well, reading blogs, of course, and uploading hats to Etsy – thanks to all of you who have looked at my shop, and don’t forget to let me know what you think if you haven’t already. I think there will be some cards and things posted soon, in the next few days, at least.

Since it was the weekend, A was home with me the past few days, and she was such a sweetie, doing lots of laundry and table clearing, and being generally a good sport about being married to a slug.  🙂  She even drove me to Ellsworth on Saturday so I could pick up a book the library had gotten for me.  Since it is the book club book, and the meeting is tonight, it was sort of important.  🙂 (My Brilliant Friend – more on that when I finish it) we did a few other errands, then had breakfast at Martha’s Cafe, which we love.  I like to go out for breakfast, because the food is so yummy, and it doesn’t cost the earth. I like Martha’s because she makes delicious everything. I had a veggie and ham stuffed omelet, and stole some of A’s raspberry muffin.  mmmmmm

Today, besides finishing the book and not getting sucked into red and white knitting, I plan to do the housework I did not do Friday (start deep cleaning the bedroom) and get into the craft room to make some cards for the Etsy shop – I am thinking Valentine’s and birthday cards, but I am open to ideas, so please, offer them up!

And I have to go check the mouse traps I have outside, they are no longer buried under a pile of snow – with all that rain yesterday and balmy (is it really 40 degrees F out there today???) air, we have almost no snow left – so I  can find the traps.

Other than that, I will putter, putter, putter.  🙂

NOT Blue!

mittens jan 16

I was able to stop at the Yarn Barn in Bangor today, and wasn’t I lucky?  She had these three luscious cascade washable wool skeins – perfect for my mittens!  I’ll go cast them on in just a minute….

First a word about the Yarn Barn.  She is tucked away behind a credit union outside a mall – you kind of have to know she is there.  And she hasn’t got a HUGE inventory, but she has some real workhorse yarns, and she offers:  A frequent buyer discount (I have full cards just waiting for me to need yarn) and a discount if you pay in cash!  So today’s purchase came to a whopping 12 dollars and change.

How often does that happen?

On another note – I finally opened an Etsy store today.  I  only have two things uploaded, but I am working on it.  At first, it will be the hats that I took back when Creatively Maine closed, but I hope to knit and paper craft other offerings to sell. SO please, visit but be kind, it is a new venture for me and I am clumsy and awkward.  Kind suggestions most welcome! Take a look at https://www.etsy.com/shop/SalpalCrafts  I can’t sell the necklaces online, per agreement with the designer, but I have some ideas for my own or non-proprietary designs so someday I will get fabulous silk/beaded things up there as well.

Now, I am off to cast on the mittens.  Trying to decide – I-cord edging or garter stitch? I know which will look better in the end…

Sunday update

Mom and I had a really nice visit this weekend. I got to make that new recipe I wanted to – which in the end tasted very much like the “sauce Normand” we enjoyed so much in France – it had cream, apple cider, onions and pan drippings – along with a tablespoon or so of Maple syrup. No Calvados in it but it tasted delicious anyway. I’ll be making it again, it was heavenly.

Saturday we headed up to Bangor and walked in the Bangor City Forest, and out on the bog boardwalk. A really beautiful morning, and I think Mom liked it, she had never been out there before. We had a good lunch at Schooners in Brewer, and did find the yarn store. Had some trouble locating it, but asked at the quilt shop(I ain’t no dummy – and I will be going back to the quilt shop – it looked really nice, the two seconds I was in there.) the yarn store was OK – not exciting. She had some good basic yarn, and one particular brand of fancier yarn – Ella Rae. Very nice, but it didn’t really inspire me. A small selection of Noro. Nothing that I spotted that is local, or otherwise special. So, I will keep her in mind for patterns and notions, but my guess is that I won’t be making special trips there. Which is not to say that I didn’t buy yarn, of course I did. She was having a sale! I bought some variegated grays and blues to make another lace scarf (someday) and checked out some sock yarn. She did have a small but nice selection of that, but most of it was the kind that only makes one sock, and it was a little pricey when you start doubling the price (since I like to make my socks in pairs. 🙂 )

I did lots of knitting on the latest Pi shawl, I should finish that in a week or so, I would guess, since it is now my mobile knitting. It is very fluffy, I think it will be very cozy. and the best part? Ten skeins of yarn out of the stash and not a cent spent to make it. It is from the cousin Nancy stash, and I think about her as I work it. I wonder what she planned to make with this yarn? I know she made a lot of felted hats, and I wonder if that was what this was going to be? She wasn’t into fluffy sweaters, as near as I can tell from what her daughter sent me. But maybe she was planning something new and different?

Today, we had our electrician buddy here briefly to hook up a few new outlets in the basement. He took a lot of the slightly used fiberglass insulation off to a guy he knows who is building a house. Wow – we were going to toss it because they would not take it at ReStore! 16 contractor bags full! That is probably 6 trips to the dump we did not have to make today – woo hoo! We did make one trip there, and to the hardware store. I got more Rustoleum primer for the little outside tables, and when we got home, I did more spray painting – finished the last planter, and primed the three tables. One of them will be blue, same as a chair I did last week, and the other two remain to be seen – I have to get back to Lowe’s where they have a million colors of spray paint. I still want to find some true periwinkle colored paint – the blue is not as purply as I thought 🙂 The little teal one I did last weekend came out well, and is making me think that I am going to love having these cute, bright tables under my plants next summer. On my screen porch.

The contractor came this week, one morning when we were not here because of having to vacate – but he got a good look at where we want to build, and I have to send him a sketch tomorrow of what we are thinking of, and then he will give us a quote, and I really hope we can afford this last bit of construction on the house – I have been waiting for it for a long time! I can just picture my pretty colorful porch, but right now it is an expanse of sand…..

Other than that, we have not been our usual workhorses, we are tired! Last weekend nearly did us in.

Ignoring all my rules

I cast on another Pi shawl last night. I really have been wanting to, so I dug around in my stash to find something I had enough of to give it another shot while I await the arrival of the last skein of Quince and Co Finch for the first Pi shawl, which I am itching to wear.
pi shawl 1 and zumba
Zumba is inspecting my work in this shot.

I think I was also itching for something that would move along faster than the blue scarf is. While I love it, it is not very gratifying to knit all evening and not even finish one section. But see how the beads add subtle sparkle? (well, ok, it is so subtle it is hard to see in this photo, but they march along the edges of the triangles.) Wait until you see it with the buttons I got…. I love it. But I am impatient to finish SOMETHING. So.

diagonal scarf

In my bins of Cousin Nancy yarn, I found what I think is enough of Knit Picks Suri Dream. I have two shades of gray – 4.5 balls of stone and 6 balls of black forest. So, I will make it striped, and I will pay attention to the fact that border requires the equivalent of 16 rounds of the last section.

It was a little tough casting on with this very fluffy stuff, but as Elizabeth Zimmerman said, once I got going, it got easier. I am doing this on size 13 needles, so it should go pretty fast. And, once I finish the hat that is in my mobile bag, then I will put this there, and I won’t have broken my rule about number of WIPs. I don’t count the first Pi shawl as an official WIP because I can’t finish it until the yarn gets here. 🙂 Once that yarn arrives, I will once again be over the WIP limit, and so might have to sit and spend a day finishing things. How very sad.

pi shawl 2

Can you tell I am procrastinating about writing grants? Yep. Gotta go do that.

How on earth have I missed this most of my life?

Yesterday was our big day in Portland, and it went off pretty much as planned – we spent an hour or so (and $75) at Rockler, A got all sorts of things that excite her for her workshop. Then it was over to the Cryptozoology Museum to excite L.

I can now tell you what it is. Apparently, cryptozoology is the study of hidden or unknown animals. Like mermaids, Loch Ness monster, and abominable snow men, among others. The good news is that the approach is one of science and debunking myths, but the museum seemed full of myths and stuffed animals. As A and I said, we are glad to have gone, so L can say she did it (she loved it, has several new T-shirts, post cards, etc) and we never have to go again. 🙂

Then it was off to Papier Gourmet. This was a bit disappointing as they have vacated their large store for renovations, and are in a very small space, with very limited stock, no special sales or overstocks. And while there was much there that I liked, I was not in a mood to spend $30 on a calendar. But I saw enough to know that I will go back when renovations are complete, and they are back in their big store.

Next up – lunch. Here, things got dicey. Where we wanted to go was down on the water on Commercial Street. Well, it was mobbed, there was absolutely no place to park, and A was getting crankier and crankier, and so, in response, was I. Finally, we gave up, and went over to our next stop, in my sister’s neighborhood, the Knit Wits yarn store. As expected, there was on-street parking, and we found a pizza place that turned out to be absolutely heavenly – Otto’s on Congress street, in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood. After lunch, we headed to the yarn store, and my sister and niece came down – for some reason, no school Friday. It is always good to see them, but when E is there, it is nearly impossible to have a whole conversation with C.

I did, however, get to play with yarn, and as expected, I could not resist buying some. I got Quince brand Finch, in the color dogwood, which is soft a nice, soft pink with a touch of beige or gray or something to keep it from being baby pink.

quince skein

quince skein and balls

I also got Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Almanac, mostly so I could get the pattern for the Pi shawl I have been reading about on blogs and Ravelry.

How have I avoided reading anything by EZ? Of course I have heard of her, and some of her patterns (surprise jacket, percentage system for sweaters) but I have never been tempted to really read anything she wrote.

Well, now I MUST have it all. I just love her! I don’t know that I could make a thing she describes without her “pithy” instructions, but the way she mixes life lessons and her personal world into her knitting tales is simply wonderful. It is like having my grandmother B back – very funny and sharp observances, right on target. I read most of the book before we got home, and I cast on the Pi shawl in the Quince this morning. As recommended by EZ, it will travel with me to Phoenix on MOnday, so I want to get it big enough to get onto one circular needle. I think I am almost there. I can see I will have more of these, as I am already doing what EZ says I will do with it – thinking about how to embellish the big knit spaces. 🙂

So. Before I could read all the way home, we had to get back up the hill to the truck, and in making that trip, I stepped wrong on a broken brick, and fell down. Embarrassing! I twisted my ankle, which was no fun. It happened when I noticed niece E run off into a shop to talk to a little boy, and as I was the trailing adult, I turned to make sure she didn’t disappear on us. I was focused on the store front, and did not look where I was going. Duh. E came right out and wanted to know why I was lying down, and as I got up, she told me I scraped my knee. I said it was ok, she informed me, no, it is fat. Observant little dolly. 🙂

So, I hobbled up to the truck, we said good-bye to everyone, then went off to Trader Joe’s. A was humiliated when I hopped into a wheelchair cart, but I knew I would no way be able to hobble around the whole store, and driving was fun. We got lots of little odds and ends there, including parmesan crisps, English toffee, a birthday card and cinnamon cereal – eclectic shopping trip!

Then it was time to head toward home. We stopped for a gelato in Brunswick, and a grocery store for a bag of frozen peas for my ankle, and then we continued on our way, with me ensconced in the back seat, leg up, peas in place, and Elizabeth Zimmerman to entertain me.

A good day – we each got hobby supplies, we discovered a new pizza place, L got to her museum, and we had good gelato as well. And, got a short visit with C and E, which is always nice.

And I found Elizabeth Zimmerman. Holy cow. A great day.

And before you worry, my ankle is doing much better today, I think the peas did the trick. I should be in good shape to deal with traveling on Monday.