Friday, August 19, 2011

Just a Quick One (You Know You're A Knitter When...)

Leonard finished his first sock in fingering weight yarn. He had a lot of challenges to get up to "real" sock knitting.  His view not mine. His first pair of socks were actually felted slippers. He made the Fuzzy Feet from His second pair got stalled out after the first sock was completed. It was a worsted weight pair but the yarn was not a good choice and he wasn't using a pattern and cast on too many stitches so the sock was so big it ended up fitting over a cast. We frogged it.
The reason Len was knitting such big yarn was because he had really bad cataracts and couldn't see. Then he had surgery and suddenly my stash of sock yarn was in immediate danger of being poached. Shelley and I got him some lovely blue/green sock yarn of his own as a present. And now Leonard has a fabulous sock, that fits, and is technically his forth sock. He's still counting them individually... silly man.
The punch line of the joke is, he's over on the couch casting on his second sock and is grumbling and swearing because he's having trouble with the join and I go over to help. As I lean over in my very skimpy nighty to see what's wrong he sits there and counts stitches and examines his joining technique and not once does he do the descent thing and look down my cleavage. He has now graduate to full knitter status!

You know your a knitter when you have a chance at a cheap feel and would rather finish your knitting.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Today is My Birthday

Leonard, me and Ryan at the Seattle Aquarium
 Len has been hassling me to blog, so here it is. We're going to start with a bit of miscellany about what I've been doing the last month or so and then work up to an actual post that may have a point to it.
Since the last time I blogged I have babysat for my Mom. Had Ryan and Jarret for a while. Jarret went home to his Dad's but Ryan stayed. We had a good time. We processed a ton of cherries and ate a ton more. We baked. We painted. Ryan filled an entire sketch book. We did some illustrations for Homeward Pet. If you go into the shelter you can even see one of the "Staff Pick" signs up on the bulletin board.

Knitting at the library
 I went to the library with Leonard while he taught Word classes. I even managed to score a new Nevada Barr hardcover for $2. Between Shelley's Kindle and the library I should run out of things to read sometime next millennium.
As far as knitting goes it's been a low knitting month. I'm almost done with the pink summer socks. I've finished the sock monkey for Teresa and most of the baby sock monkey too. The baby monkey just has arms and a tail yet to go. That's it. I haven't worked on any other knitting.... sigh. I do have some funny things to say about knitting with babies but that's going to be another post.

Steampunk brooch for Ryan. Cold riveted and hand sewn on an old button.
Ryan and I did find something new to bond over. We discovered a similar taste in fashion. Not mine, I have very little fashion sense when it comes to dressing myself, but hers! We went through the fabric I'd been collecting for when she got old enough to dress like everyday is Halloween. I had some fabulous burnt out velvet with skulls and scroll work, and black lace and ribbon. We had a little gothfest and made a dress, a necklace and choker, bracelet, pins and brooches. And I still have fabric left over, I just need to get my sewing machine fixed. Yep, you read that right, the whole project was hand sewn because I'm to lazy to replace a part in my sewing machine. I even have the part, but in my defense I have no idea of how to get it in there and then get it working once the part is in. In the whole fit of sewing enthusiasm I also fixed and re-hand tied an old quilt. It looks so much better with all new yarn ties and no giant holes in it. It was queen sized so you could have lost a whole herd of sheep in there and never found them again.

On my birthday I like to think about all the stuff that has happened in the last year. Most people do this at New Years but I never have the time around the holidays to think of anything but baking. So here's my year in review:

1. Had several months of major health challenges, followed by abdominal surgery. This pretty much took up my year until February.
2. I knit a large and industrious amount of bibs, baby sweaters, and toys.
3. My Mom adopted a newborn baby girl, giving me a new baby sister and someone to foist off all the knitting goodies on.
4. Len adopted a new cat from Homeward Pet.
5. John went and adopted a cat from them the next month.
6. The next day I started as a volunteer. I work cats and reception. They like me enough that they haven't fired me or anything.
7. My iTunes library has expanded to over 10GB.
8. I'm finally getting a divorce, yeah!!

I love knitting. I love life. I love my family. Next year is going to be better. 38 was ok. 39 is going to be lovely. 40 is going to rock on toast. I think I'll do a recap post every year on my birthday.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Busy Week Brings Cherries and Not A Lot of Knitting Time

Len, Ryan and I went to Burbank, Washington to visit Len's folks on Monday and Tuesday. It was fabulous. Len's parents are darling and Bonnie always goes out of her way to make us feel welcome. They didn't even mind us bringing Ryan along at the last minute sticking a quiet gothy teenager on the couch.

Ryan petting baby horse.
Ryan got to see a little slice of farm life. Leonard's dad, Lyle has about a 1000 fruit trees around the house plus a tack barn, a small pasture, a work barn and three horse paddocks. One of the horses was home for Ryan to pet and coo at but she wasn't broken to saddle yet, and the other two were up the road getting breed so we didn't get a chance to go horseback riding this time. We did get to visit the other horses and pet all the new baby horses. Some of the foals and colts we were petting were only a few days old. Ryan had never seen new baby horses up close before. They were sooo cute!

Cherries had just come in while we were there so we spent a couple hours picking some. We came home with two 5-gallon buckets of cherries. One bucket of Rainier and one of Van, Van's are dark and sweet just like Bing.

We also went thrift store shopping and came back with some cool milk glass and another cast iron skillet, like Leonard needs more. One shop had the coolest chandelier. This picture doesn't do it justice.

All in all a fun trip. I wish we could have stayed longer. Once we got home we had to wash and pit and freeze all those cherries. We've actually just been eating some and I gave a couple gallon bags to the volunteers at Homeward Pet. Between the trip and yard work and general business I haven't had much time for knitting. I got one sock done and cast on for the other one. And I started the sock monkeys for Teresa at Country Yarns.
Let sleeping Bosco's lie.
Two year old Tango.
Will try harder to knit more this week.... maybe.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Knitting By Glow Stick - It Can Be Done!

I wish I had brought my camera tonight... not that it would have done a lot of good in the dark but it would have made a fabulous picture.

Here's the story. My fifteen year old daughter, Ryan, got invited to Pump It Up for her friend Shelly's birthday. Pump It Up is basically a big gymnasium with inflatable toys on a grand scale and party rooms for after you bounce, slide, and tumble your way to exhaustion. It's actually a lot of fun. The grow-ups are encouraged to play too and some really smart person even put a drinking fountain in each  room. Ryan beat me on the obstacle course.

One of the things they do to make it even more fun for the teenage crowd is turn off all the lights. They give each kid, and adult, a glow stick necklace to wear and then turn on one lonely overhead black-light. Then the music gets louder and the laser show starts and you can't see much. More to the point, you can't see well enough to knit. This will not do. But I am a clever knitter and if there is a way I will find it.

They'd given me a glow stick too. I broke the seal, shook it up and made it into a necklace. It didn't have a lot of light but when I lay it right over the top of my needles I could just make out the yarn. I was knitting socks. My double points were Knit Picks Harmony size 2, not a light color it turns out. The yarn was better, it had flecks of white in it so some of the black-light glow made it easier to see. First I hung my glow stick over my wrist but that was to far from the tips of the needles for me to see. Then I hung the glow stick of off the needle I was working on. That was better but I dropped a stitch while I was knitting around the glow stick and it was like having and extra needle in the way. I had to go out to the lobby to pick up the dropped stitch. Eventually I landed on a solution. It was elegant and ridiculous, but it worked. I put the glowing necklace in my mouth. I had to lean a little closer to my hands but it put the light just where I needed it. You couldn't actually see the needles, you had to go on faith that they were there. I finished half the foot and started the toe decreases. Ryan's friends and the other parents think I'm crazy.

I am happy I got some sock knitting done.
Yes, the cat really is trying to pick his teeth on my double points.

Ryan actually tells me that her friends like me a bit because I'm nuts and paint and knit and bake. She sometimes feeds them my cupcakes and spent a good part of yesterday experimenting with my acrylics to make Shelly's birthday present. I'm so proud.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Everyday Should Be Knit In Public Day, and Homeless Pets Need Love Too

This is going to be part public service announcement and part random this is what I'm working on now post. Just so you know.

I've started volunteering at Homeward Pet, a no-kill animal shelter here in Woodinville. I love it. I do laundry, answer the phone, feed cats, clean litter boxes and pet more cats. It's just like home! Some day I will graduate to walking dogs. I love kitties. I've always wished I could do more for the ones that don't get adopted. All our pets are rescues. So, now I go in two mornings a week and help out. The staff and other volunteers are very welcoming and friendly, and they do me the enormous honor of eating the cupcakes and cake I bring in after a bout of stress baking. This is a much better thing than having me and my diabetic family eat it all.
Now for the cute cat pictures, here are mine.
Bugaboo stalking the driveway.
Pixel on the cat tree.

Annabelle does not like having her picture taken.
Pixel came from the Humane Society nine years ago and he is still our largest and most cuddly cat.
Bugaboo was part of a litter of five kittens my daughter Ryan rescued from the parking lot of our apartment complex four years ago.
Annabelle and Temperance are both from Homeward Pet.
Bobbie, our ever patient three-legged dog is from PAWS in Lynnwood. He's always happy to have his picture taken with my knitting.
Temperance is only 4 pounds at two years old.
Bobbie under lace wash cloth.... thinks his Mom is nuts.
I also have made good progress on my socks and went to Snohomish and picked up some knitting projects from Country Yarn. Expect Sock Monkey pictures soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Knitting Rules For Chronic Screaming Depression

1. Never knit dark grey socks. This goes for navy blue and white too. Life is just to short to knit boring socks you can buy at Target $6.00 for a package of twelve.

2. Never knit anything grey in the winter. Seasonal Affective Disorder is not just for neurotic middle age women. Why stack the deck? If you live in a cold, rainy, northerly place the absolute last thing you want is a giant pile of more darkness in your lap waiting to become a sweater.

3. Knit bright colors. You don't have to make everything in royal blue or shocking pink but do consider adding a pop of color to your knitting. After knitting a beige cardigan make a few cherry red wash clothes, or lime green cats toys, you'll feel better.

4. Knit something small. Working on a small project can give you a sense of accomplishment when nothing else you're working on seems to be going anywhere. I like interspersing my big projects with baby bibs, booties, dish rags and cat toys, really anything you can pick up and finish in a couple hours is fabulous.

5. Listen to music while you knit. Sing out loud. Some people like background noise, some people don't, I like a bit but not an actual conversation that I have to pay attention to when I'm feeling blue. But I find it impossible to sing and be depressed at the same time. I can listen to Machines of Loving Grace all damn day and still be in a rotten mood but singing off key to the radio perks me right up, and the cats never complain about my lack of singing skill. The extra bonus is you can sing and look at your knitting at the same time.

6. Don't drink and knit. Alcohol is a depressant. This is bad. And when you sober up and see all the mistakes you made on that nice lace scarf you'll feel even worse.

7. Find other knitters. Even if you don't knit in company, even if you have trouble leaving the house, other knitters are a godsend. They will laugh with you, cry with you, and above all understand you when you get teary over a cashmere blend yarn that your dog got ahold of and buried in the yard.

8. Knit for others. Some days it's hard to get motivated to make something for yourself, so make something for someone else. I don't actually use knitted wash clothes, or bibs, and I have plenty of hats. I do have a growing pool of folks to foist off my quick pick-me-up projects.

Pixel under the Icelandic Lace Shawl
9. Knit something gorgeous just for you. Sometimes I don't like my body very much. Some days I don't feel like I'm worthy of having a really nice thing made with really luscious yarn. I'll spend money getting that perfect yarn for the kid's christmas presents but not me. Do it anyway! Knit yourself an alpaca lace shawl or a silk/merino cardigan. If you're a petite then knit a whole bathrobe. If you're on the plushy side then accept who you are and go buy more yarn. Just working with the super soft yarn will make you happier.

10. Life is to short to knit with yarn you hate. Don't do it. If you hate the color, the texture, or if it's just hard to work with, then don't do it. Sometimes you have to fight your knitting, don't fight your yarn too. I don't care if it was a gift, if your five year old picked it out specially because it's their absolute favorite color and they will die with out it, or the wool fumes at your local yarn shop got to you and you bought it on sale, take your crap yarn and give it to Goodwill. Some one there will love it and it will take up less space in your house.

Bobbie thinks his Mom is nuts for putting knitting on him to take pictures.

 Seriously though, depression sucks, and I joke and make light of it because that's how I deal with uncomfortable subjects. And this isn't just about knitting, and this isn't just about dealing with depression. Humor is a weapon I use every day to fight depression. I also knit. Making things makes me feel better. So go out there and knit, and feel better. Maybe life will surprise you with cashmere.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Happy Woman Buried Under Sock Yarn

I have an enormous amount of sock yarn. It's slowly taking over the rest of my stash. But I had no idea how much really until I decided to catalogue it all on Ravelry. I just took 105 pictures of sock yarn to put on my stash. Now this does not mean that I only have 105 skeins of sock yarn, nor does this mean that I don't make socks out of yarns that are in another yarn weight. This does mean that I just took 105 pictures of just the sock weight yarn in my stash that I can find, and is not being used on another project, sorted by brand and color.

And you know what? I don't have enough. I only have three skeins of Socks That Rock, and one skein of Socks That Rock Silkie. That can't possibly be enough to work such a fabulous yarn. I know me. I've done four pairs of Opal socks and still haven't gotten Opal out of my system. Colinette's Jitterbug is very nice, and Fly Dyed Monarch works up with a similarly lovely hand but it's not the same. I've gone over to knitting some Cherry Tree Hill Supersock and Shibui to ease the pain of not having enough Socks That Rock but I still want more. It's like chocolate, more is better.

My housemates have said that that is quite enough and that I don't really need more sock yarn. It'll take me hours to put it all up on Ravelry and if I buy more it'll take even longer. John says I can buy more when I've knit up 105 pairs of socks. I very carefully explained to him that some sock patterns actually require more than one color of yarn, in the case of fair isle, and that some knee high socks actually use several skeins of yarn. And would he really want me to suffer from not having soothing cotton/bamboo ankle socks in summer, and warm merino superwash fair isle thigh highs in winter? Of course not. I even use my sock weight yarn to make other things, gloves, mittens, baby clothes. I even keep all the little balls of leftover yarn for turning into an afghan later.

Leonard says that I can have all the sock yarn I want provided that he gets to pinch as much from my stash as he can get his grubby little sock knitting hands on. He is eyeing my Zauberball Crazy. It may have been an error to teach him how to knit socks.

Just because my sock yarn now takes up an 18" x 18" x 3' bin plus 2 really large baskets does not mean I have to much yarn. My other yarn takes up 7 more bins plus a basket, several sweater bags, a couple boxes and thats not counting the roving. I have not yet reached the critical mass of more yarn than I can knit in my lifetime. I divided up the sock yarn into projects and at my current rate of sock knitting, about a sock a month or so, it should only take me 4 1/2 years. I'm only 38, that's plenty of time.

In fact, it may even be time to get more sock yarn...