Thursday, April 21, 2016

Tipping Point

I have to really admire the busy bloggers I know who nonetheless share their crafts regularly with their far-flung fans on the net.  It seems like when I hit a tipping point, everything else falls off the radar.   But, despite my very slow rate of crafting recently, I've blogged even less, so I do have a few new things to show you.

1.  My stalwart assistant.  Biscuit wants you to know that depriving you of his presence was not his idea.  He's cute even when the internet isn't looking.

2.  Yarn!  Which is not new, but I amazingly managed to wind it off without help (Biscuit loves the yarn swift).   I of course in a fit of optimism figured I'd be needing the rest of my skeined sock yarn any minute now.

3.  But in fact this is not the case.  I'm still working on sock number one of the latest Chevron socks. Probably because I tried four different patterns with the stripes until in exasperation I resorted to a pattern I had already tried and knew looked good.  

4.  Jake and Cookie want you to know that they're guarding my jacket diligently.  Probably because it was in a good position to surveil the cat food bowls in case any passing humans decide to Do Something Interesting involving cans and thumbs. 

5.  When the sock got to be too complicated for me, I fell back on mittens.  Plus, they satisfy the primal urge to finish something already. 

6.  And last but not least, on the rare occasions I am not missing the right needles, the pattern, the contrast yarn, and am not grafting the ^&%$$#@!! hood for the fifth time- wrong- I've been making progress on the Tomten jacket.  I'm now at the sleeves, so I'm hoping I'm on the home stretch.  I need to hustle, or the kid's going to outgrow this before it is done.  (It's for the new son of one of my co-workers.)

In other news, I've been to Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis and upstate New York since we last visited, work continues busy, I've opened the pool (after a windstorm mostly took the cover off anyway), gone to concerts, visited with relations, climbed a mountain (first long walk of the season), gotten sunburned (first time forgetting sunscreen of the season) and hobbled around like a cripple (first time overdoing-it-while-in-pathetically-unfit-shape of the season).   Or in other words, life is humming along at its usual frenetic rate.    And now I should sleep, because I haven't the least intention of slowing down any time soon!  

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Scrappy Marathon

A couple of years ago I made a baby blanket using baby yarn and size 2 needles.  And when I was done, I said, "Never again."    I may need to say the same thing about size 3 needles.  But I'm finally done.

The finished size is 37 inches square, and it represents an entire (small) bag of yarn- about 6-8 full skeins and another dozen or so partial skeins.  (Picture me doing the happy dance of stash reduction.)

As I neared the end of the blanket, I started planning the next project- a baby sweater this time.  I've been wanting to make an Elizabeth Zimmerman Tomten jacket, so I pulled out more lightweight yarn and started poking through it.    My first thought was nice and bright:

Unfortunately, I had the yellow in only two weights- too light and too heavy (the red is the main color for the sweater because I have a lot of it, the other two are trim).   So I switched it out for beige, which is more sedate, but also plays reasonably well with the red and dark brown.

Cookie didn't have an opinion.

Aside from adventures in yarn, life continues busy, principally employment related activity.   We did get out to a nice concert of Irish music last week.  And this weekend, I had a full day at home by myself.  Not only a full day- but I woke up early (unusual for a Saturday) and full of energy (positively abnormal).   There was a useful amount of cleaning that happened, and I made a good start on the baby sweater.     The cats thought the cleaning was interesting- except for the vacuum, which they hate.  It's because they're a part of nature, you know.  And nature abhors a vacuum.    When they weren't following me around getting underfoot, there was some communal snoozing.

Then today we went out for a delicious maple-drenched brunch in western MA, and went for a nice short hike on Mt. Warner.    Most years it's too mucky and or snowy to hike much in March.  But not this year.  Beautiful sunshine, and see the snow?

Me neither.  We had to look pretty hard even to spot ice.  But when we found it, it was pretty cool.  So to speak.  I've never seen ice crystals that big outside.  (They are about the size of my fingers.)

We finished by going to hear the Navy Band, who are on tour.  They're really excellent.  I actually like brass and wind instruments more than strings (I don't hate strings, but I play a wind instrument).  They did some nice classical, some Rogers and Hammerstein, some patriotic numbers (of course) and naturally also some Sousa.

And then a quick dinner in Northampton (but no yarn, Webs is closed on Sundays), and home again.  I got to knit on the drive, so the tomten is up to the armpits, the current sock is an inch or two short of the heel, and I expect further progress this week.  Maybe even a photo!

Monday, February 15, 2016

New Year, Same Old Blog

Ahem.  Although I felt very pleased over the holidays to finish my shopping well before the holidays, ship gifts and do baking, something had to fall off the radar.   Sorry, friends.  It was you.

It was a very busy year- house guests through the summer and fall, a major construction project and a long trip in September combined to make it all rush by.  There was also a lot of employment related work that left me unwilling to spend time in front of the computer in the evenings.  Particularly when it meant wrestling with Photobucket's latest so-called upgrade to try and make it do things that used to be a lot easier.  However.  While I still intend to get the rest of the travel photos up, I have decided that there is no excuse for depriving the world of my latest craft endeavors, not to mention the unbearable cuteness of my household.  For example:

There has been a lot of seriously cuddlesome behavior happening since the weather turned colder.  Jake and Cookie have decided that they are pals united in the desire to be warm.   Biscuit is happy to cuddle with people, but I think he mostly doesn't really notice the chillier temperatures.  It's the fluff.

Though he has been known to seek a blanket now and again.

And of course there has been crafting.   You knew that, right?  For example, before I mailed off the Oriel socks before Christmas, I finally got a picture that bears some resemblance to their actual color.

The recipient was very happy with them, which is always nice to hear.  

Then just about one minute into Christmas morning, I wove in the last end and blocked the last knitted gift, socks for my sister. (Edit- pattern is yet another pair of  Sagittarius socks.)

As soon as the holidays were over, I went nuts casting on new things.  Because I'd spent the last few weeks trying to stay on target for the holidays, I was ready to cut loose.   Which then took a back seat to preparing for our 4-day New Year's house party/board gaming extravaganza.    Here, I'm doing a little baking, under the stern supervision of Biscuit.  (He wanted to be a lot more paws-on about it, but I banished him to the pass through, where he could see but not touch.) 

Over the long weekend, I made substantial progress on a new pair of socks, and finished them up a week or two afterward.  (Deep Water Dye Works Tweed in colorway Lichen.  The pattern is Charlene Schurch's Alternating 2x2 Rib)

Then one snowy evening I stopped in to the bookstore to wait for the snowplows and sanders to catch up with the storm- when you can't brake (even very gently) without losing traction, it's time to wait for a sander!  And what should I find but a group of knitters and crocheters crafting for charity.  So when I got home, I searched out the various hats and things I had made.  And I figured I really should finish the Mock Aran hat that I'd started back in the fall.  Imagine my surprise when I pulled it out of a knitting bag and found that it was already finished.  

Naturally I went around and checked other bags to see if any other WIPs had finished themselves without me knowing it, but this appears to be the only one.   If I figure out how it happened, I'll let you know.   So I went back the next week and donated my hats, plus another bagful supplied by a friend at our weekly knitting group.  

And then I happened by the local yarn store (yes, these things happen), and found that they were collecting red hats for preemies for a pediatric heart awareness event at the hospital.   So I went right home and cast on.  

I did have to sternly remind myself of the size of my stash to get out without any new yarn.  The baby hats used up one full skein, so on balance the stash is going down.  Slowly.

And in the last couple of weeks, I've been alternating my attention between a scrappy baby blanket (no photo yet, but I've used up a whole whack of baby odd and ends in it), and a scarf for my aunt-in-law.   Which I rushed to finish because I was seeing her yesterday.   Once I blocked it, I had to put the blocking mats on top of a bookcase to dissuade my assistant from sitting on it. 
(He's not easily discouraged. He sat on the step-stool for quite some time, trying to figure out how to get himself up there.) 

I had to gently finish drying the last hint of moisture with a hairdryer yesterday morning before we took off. But I was quite pleased with it.   It's the last skein of yarn I bought from Wandering Cat Yarns, a couple of years ago.  The yarn is Slinky Solo Cat in the colorway Blue Skies, a luscious silk/wool blend.

The pattern is the Strangling Vine Lace Scarf,  which isn't a terribly appealing name, but I loved the pattern.  Super easy four row repeat and I really liked the way it looks.  Here's a closer look at the pattern.  The way the pattern rows alternate makes it look at lot more complex than it is.  

Anyway.  That's what I've been up to.  Hopefully (since you've made it this far), you're more impressed than Cookie and Jake.