Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Ready, Set...

...knit? Or blog? I've been reading blogs and poking around Ravelry and I see all these people who love to knit, apparently, but they also love to tap tap tap away on their computers. I just have one question.

How do people find the time? I mean, to do both? With any regularity? If anyone were to actually read my blog, which I think only one other person besides me has, they would be appalled at the infrequency of my posting. I think it's kinda cool to blog, in a narcissistic sort of way. Kind of like podcasting. It's a person with self confidence to spare that will talk for a given length of time to themselves, basically, about themselves and what they think and what they like. What does that say about the people that like to read or listen?

I actually get inspiration from both sources...I suppose that's the point. Or one of them. I love to listen to Brenda Dayne's "Today's Sweater." I'm Wwaayy behind on that cast. For some reason I think I have to start from the beginning and try to catch up. The KnitPicks Podcast is one of my favorites because it's thoughtful and educational and....I don't know...homey. I'm still finding others. Of course, not all casts have to do with knitting.

I keep finding blogs to occupy my time. Some are about knitting. Some have beautiful photography. Some are hilarious. Some have furry animals.

I love to fritter. It's one of the things I do best. Knitting, reading, blogs and casts.

Fritter On!


I love fall. I love the smell of the leaves. Today I picked apples off of our trees and gathered the windfalls for the deer. The smell of the slightly overripe juice took me back to my grandparents' farm. I love how smells do that to you.

I'm looking forward to the day when I smell a certain aroma and it brings me back to this time in my life when the wind from the southeast brings with it the noxious and rotten smell of turkey manure. I look forward to that day because that means it won't be this day, when I can step outside my house and gag. I have candles burning inside because I don't want to be aware of the fumes that may be leaking into my house.

Oh the life of a farmer. Lovely smells, textures and, if you're supremely unlucky, tastes.

Actually, being a farmer really is the best life. Sometimes the work is difficult. Sometimes the result is poor. Sometimes it's tough to be looked down on and taken for granted and thought to be stupid. BUT....but..but..but! Imagine leading a herd of cows across a field behind a tractor and seeing them begin to graze in a new pasture. Imagine watching calves run at full throttle with the tails straight up in the air. Imagine the smell of freshly cut hay. Imagine that while you're checking fences you find ripe black raspberries. Or you see a deer see you in the woods. Or you are scared out of your wits by a pheasant that flew up right in front of you.

Drought and floods and insects and disease and controversy...all of it's worth the beauty and satisfaction of my life.

Friday, September 21, 2007

This N That

I've got to get more organized at this. Any respectable blogger has some sort of system. Right? But then, do I really want to be respectable? Well, yes, I guess so but I certainly wouldn't want to be ordinary or part of the norm. In that case I'll keep up my Slog Blogging.

So, baby socks. After that last post, I want to redeem myself. I really can knit a bootie/sock that will fit a human baby. Here's the proof.

Baby alpaca, spun commercially from my very own baby alpaca, dyed using Cushings dye in Red Grape and a very crowded crockpot (hence the very variegated grapiness). The pattern is Side Step Socks and I am very pleased to report that I knit it with a magic loop not the dpns the pattern was written for. Seeing as how these are my second official finished pair of socks, I just might break my arm patting myself on the back!

Then, I got bit by the ball band dishcloth bug. I've been reading Mason-Dixon Knitting and since I'm rather new to the cyber knit world, had no idea what they were talking about when referring to the ball band dishcloth. Grandma's favorite I'm familiar with but what's this ball band thing? Then I read a bit further...OohhhH! The ball band! So I dug in my cotton stash and found a ball band with the pattern. Here's my first one.
Since then, I've been dealing with the result of spring's busy ness. I've gotten tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cukes, and even an eggplant, or as we real fancy people say, Aubergine. I've canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, salsa, pepper jelly, pickles.... And all this for a family who has trouble getting themselves around a vegetable. I'm afraid the aubergines went to friends but they certainly added a flash of color and a bit of a gourmet flavor to our rather plain jane garden. And they make a pretty picture.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm a Knitting Scout

Looking through the Scout Badges on Cast On, I've found one that fits me truly. Early on in my return to knitting, I thought that it'd be easy to adapt my handspun alpaca into a simple garter stitch baby bootie. I tried it as written but because my yarn was HUGE compared to the delicate sport weight recommended the booties would have fit a baby giant. Being relatively smart, I thought, and moderately ballsy, in the knitting world anyway, I thought I could adjust the gauge to fit my yarn.

I knit, finished and BEHOLD, when I looked at these, my first baby booties out of my first handspun, I saw not booties for baby humans but booties for baby herons.

I keep them as decoration on a shelf in my living room to remind me of my rebellion against the gods of gauge.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Audio Books and Podcasts

I LOVE audiobooks and podcasts! I'm just becoming fully aware of my capability to read and the same time! And I'm not the only one! Ann over at Mason-Dixon is reading Patrick O'Brian while finishing her gorgeous tweedy blanket! I'm waiting, and not patiently either, for The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander McCall Smith. Mma Ramotswe got me through a weekend of canning tomatoes and salsa and tomatoes and tomatoes and salsa and salsa.

Now, I've discovered knitting podcasts. How do I catch up? I may forget my family!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Squatty Update

My niece fell in love with this purse and since her birthday was very near, she is now the proud owner of my squatty. Which is not a bad thing At All. She loves it and that makes me happy. I get to knit another one for me and that makes me happy.

Happy Happy Happy.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

My Squatty Sidekick

Knitting Daily provided me with another interruption for my life. This cute little bag just begged me to knit it and so I had to do it. Of Course.

I used Reynolds Lopi and it knit up quickly and beautifully.



Even my dog, Sophie, thinks it's a cute little bag.

I ran out of the blue so had to pick up another skein. Now I have enough for a felted cell phone case. Or a little pocket book. Or a case for my sunglasses.....

Power Posting and Afghan

Third post in one day. Must mean that I've got time on my hands and no one around to need something. I want to join a couple of webrings and I think that you actually have to post to your blog in order to join. Trying to be a PreMember in good standing, I guess.

Final bit to post today. Eric's Afghan in ON THE NEEDLES. I know, it's been listed as OTN for at least a month. Well, I've been swatching and changing my plan and 2 days ago, it went on.

First, I wrote down my plan and calculated how many stitches to cast on based on my gauge. All this done while "watching" my husband play for the church softball team. I didn't bring the dog to this game.

Then, while riding in the semi with my husband to deliver a load of corn, I cast on 240 stitches. Actually I cast on 232, then 237, then finally 240 (I thought). I counted, counted, counted, and counted. Yup, 240.

So with my Options size 9, 47" cable, I started in on the garter stitch border, 6 rows and knit until we returned home.

Yesterday evening, I sat in my big foldup lawn chair with the footrest on the deck and finished the border. I ran out of the first ball of yarn and experienced my first small panic attack. I hope that the 30 balls of yarn I ordered will be enough for this afghan!

I must insert here that "A Prairie Home Companion" is a great program to knit to. And if you can be on your deck and watch your Great Dane tear around the yard, lips flapping up and down, well that's even better. AND if you can rescue a tiny Chipping Sparrow and her small nest of 2 blue eggs from Said Dog, better and better. Not so great for speed knitting, but pleasure knitting? Definitely.

Back to the afghan. I'm using Swish Superwash from Knit Picks in Dublin and so far I am so pleased with my choice. The yarn is soft to my fingers, the fabric has a very nice sheen to it and the color is perfect.

I've moved past the border and just started the pattern stitch. I waffled between doing a sampler type of piece with different stitches (mainly to keep myself entertained) but decided on just the one stitch because it seems to have enough interest in it and then there won't be any sewing!!! I'm using "Moss and Diamond Brocade" from the Vogue Stitchionary Volume One. I love this pattern because it looks interesting, creates a solid fabric, and is really easy! Every second row is a repeat of the previous row. Interesting enough to keep you thinking but still able to watch "Pride and Prejudice" for the zillionth time.

Here it is:

Berries and God

Sunday seems an appropriate day for religious reflection. This afternoon I tromped through our woods in search of Black Raspberries. Actually I was in search of Blackberries but about half way through the patches I found, I realized I was eating/picking black raspberries. I called my husband over with my enlightened discovery and his response was, "Yeah. Did you think you were picking blackberries?" I hate it when I'm not as smart as I think I am.

Anyway, while I was picking Black Raspberries, I thought to myself, "Can a person find God picking berries? Is God there too?" Not so much is He IN the berries, although some religious persuasions claim that to be true, but is He present in the day to day, non-earth-shattering events that surround me. I thought about that. I thought about the hot sun beating down on me, making me sweat. I thought about how cool I felt when I moved just inches away into the shade and felt the breeze blow across my damp skin. I thought about how some of the berries are hard and dry and small in the hot sun and just underneath, in the shade, the berries are black and shiny and juicy. I think that the evidence of God is Everywhere. He may not be directing my every step but I think He is definitely present in my Everyday. Taking time to be silent and to think is something that I don't do enough of. I seem to fill my life with words and noise. Always reading. Always listening to music or words. Not that these things are bad. Just that listening to/for God is better.

Tomten Finished AND Delivered

But don't you know that the camera batteries were dead so no picture of the Finished Object. Hopefully Mom will take a picture of baby (or kindergartener as the size of the jacket dictates) when he's wearing it and I'll post a picture then. I had to frog the buttonhole band to make the there's a shocking idea! Make the holes while knitting the band!...and since I had only 4 of the Great Buttons, I had to carefully space them rather further than ideal. Anyway, Mom, Baby, Tomten and socks are together at last.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Finishing the Tomten...Again

Can't help it. Just couldn't get myself to like the Tomten jacket. The collar seemed flimsy, the inside of the i-cord bind off looked bad, the tabs for the button holes were iffy. When I fastened the Great Buttons (found in an old button old buttons) the whole thing just bugged me. I still didn't like the inside of the i-cord bind off and since it would show on the collar I needed to find a way to finish it neatly. So I trudged....truly, Trudge is the the fabric department at my local Walmart and bought some very nice matching grosgrain ribbon. I thought I stitch that inside over the top of the "seam" and it would finish it nicely.

After I left it sit for several days while finishing the Tajik hat and adding to my garden I came back to it and decided, "Yuck! Maybe I should rip it out." And so I did. The i-cord edging, button tabs, and buttons anyway. I folded the collar over to the inside and whipstitched it down. That made it a nice, sturdy, cozy stand-up collar. Then I picked up stitches along both fronts and made a button band in garter stitch. My next step is to make the button holes and sew on the buttons. Already, I am feeling like this is the Tomten that I have been meaning to make!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Tajik Hat

I finished my third hat for Tajikistan! The deadline for the donations is coming soon and my total hats made this year tops last year's by one. Next year I might crank out 5!

Physicians With Heart is connected to the American Academy of Family Physicians of which my aunt and uncle are a part. They have been making trips with this organization for nearly 10 years. My uncle the doctor is involved with the medical part of the mission and my aunt is deeply involved with the Children's Projects. Each year she lets her volunteers know where they are going, the size quilts they are going to need and any other items needed. Hats and mittens are ALWAYS in demand. This year, she requested items for teenagers, boys in particular.

The Tajikistan Airlift has gotten my mom into the quilting world and I've become enmeshed in the knitting world. I'm even blogging for heaven's sake!

Since becoming a cyber knitter, I've joined Knitlist and just the other day noticed that designer Sidna Farley recently passed away. This hat is her Basic Hemmed Hat from the book Homespun Handknit. My basic hangup with winter hats is that the wind always seems to whistle through the single thickness of the hat to find my ears. This hat met that criteria.

In looking for materials for my Tajik hats, I wanted quick, washable, warm and basic. The first 2 hats I knit up quickly using a 2 hour hat pattern and Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick. The pattern was a basic SS in the round with a circular decrease. Since the hats were more than likely going to be going to boys, I didn't think a rolled brim would be what I wanted. I knit a row and purled a row twice and then finished the hat in ss. The second hat I tried a ribbed cable cast on and knit the hat in a k1p1 rib. The decreasing was tricky but it doesn't look too bad.

The second hat I used some of my stash of Wool-Ease Worsted. I found it at a JoAnn's Fabrics for $1.47 / skein and of course I bought all of it. It will be a perfect yarn for warm and washable hats! The Sidna Farley pattern was perfect also. I got to learn and practice the invisible cast-on, learned another new technique in hemming the hat and the rest was simple and basic. I also practiced knitting without looking...a recent topic on KnitList. I'm not too good but I held a conversation today and was able to maintain eye contact reasonably well.

I like the idea that the first Sidna Farley hat I ever made was for a good cause. From reading about her in the Homespun Handknit book and from comments made on KnitList in regard to her recent passing, I think that she would approve heartily this use of her hat design.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Baby's Covered For Several Years-Part 1

My original thought was to make a baby sweater, for a baby, before the baby was born. I checked all of EZ's books out of the library system (I didn't have to wait long for any of them...knitters in Wisconsin either already have them or I caught them all sleeping!) read ferociously and decided on the Tomten. Actually, my heart was set on the BSJ but I Did have to wait for that particular book and I had to start the sweater quickly. Babies have a way of arriving right around the 9-month point and I only had about 3 months to go before the Person of Unknown Gender arrived.

We met the family of the baby during the 4 year period of our Alpaca Adventure and became good friends. Although we no longer have the actual alpacas grazing and pooping on our farm, we have a room full of yarn and roving and fleece. Since our initial contact with our friends was through the Alpaca World and since our friends are still heavily involved in the business what could be more obvious a choice for this small sweater than ALPACA! I dug around in my stash and found a sport weight white that I could dye their signature purple and put it with my favorite dark brown to make a striking sweater to fit both a boy or a girl!

First, to dye. I had earlier dyed some of my own handspun (my first) using Cushing Dye in "Red Grape." I really liked the shade of purple so I went to my local rug hooking store and picked up a packet of dye. I also thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try out a new dyeing technique. So combining the information on the dye packet ("this will dye 1 pound of fiber") and the instructions for crock pot dyeing I stuffed 1 pounds worth of yarn, roving, and a pair of Lovikka mittens I made for a belated Christmas present. I saw my mistake shortly after I finished cramming the yarn gently into the pot. I had purple water running over the side of the pot and onto the white kitchen countertop. After bailing and bleaching and Gently Stirring, I completed the process. I was hoping for a nicely uniform color throughout but instead I got a Gorgeous Variegated yarn in shades of Red Grape. (Thankfully the mittens were mostly uniform.) The roving, btw, is a bit felted but will make a lovely thick fulled "something" someday.

Back to the Tomten. I tried following all of EZ's advice. Check your gauge, relax, check your gauge, think and meditate, check your gauge, control your knitting, check your gauge....

Some kind of weird gremlin was in my needles because no matter what size I used, I had the same gauge. So I figured I'd be tightening up at some point and since it's a baby he/she'd be able to use the thing at some point. The size 6!

Since the brown yarn was more in the way of a worsted weight, I used one strand of the brown and 2 strands of the purple. Not all together! Brown with purple stripes and one fawn stripe. (Fawn is alpacaspeak for tan.)

I Owned my knitting. I didn't make any short rows across the back despite EZs admonition that this will keep it from riding up. I strolled through the body and up the fronts and back. When I came to a direction that made no sense (this is NOT a reflection on Mrs. Zimmermann by any means!) I did what I thought I should and it didn't turn out badly. I became concerned about the amount of yarn I had left. I still needed to do the sleeves which, I felt was more important than the hood, so I knitted up so that there would be enough for a collar, left the stitches on the cord (I'm using my Options set) and proceeded down the arms.

I was adding stripes where ever I wanted to and when I sewed up the last arm seam, all I had left was to decide Yes or No to the hood and how to finish the front.

Not being overly fond of tinking and getting ready to move on to the next thing, I decided No to the hood and concentrated my efforts on the trim. I decided to put an I-cord trim on the front edges and finish with a zipper (not an option for embellishment offered in "Knitting Without Tears"'s that for being in Control of My Knitting?!).

Then I saw a method for making I-cord loop buttonholes and the decisiveness just left my body.

Another bump in the road to knitted bliss is the fact that with No Hood, I have an inside edge that will now be showing on the outside! How bad does it look?

So I finished one side with the I-cord to the top and the other side I made the I-cord long enough to double back over the outside edge of the collar.

Now what?

Oh, btw, the baby, a boy, was born in April and is busy depriving his parents of sleep.

Also, this 6-9 month sweater turned into a kindergarten sweater. Maybe not quite kindergarten but he won't be wearing it any time soon. So I got a bit of time to waffle back and forth with my decisions.

And I just finished a pair of Side Step Baby socks for the current 6 months. More on those the next post.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

My Very Own Afghan!

Sort of.

I have this yearning to knit something for everyone I know. This works very well for mothers, girl friends, grandmothers, babies. Not so good for husbands or step sons. One, because he is practically anti-fashion and the other, because he is Quite Particular.

I solved the one by knitting socks which are only worn around the house in the dead of winter and I am solving the other by making an afghan. BSS is a junior and will be heading off to cold college in a little over a year and he has agreed to allow me to make him an afghan. His only requirements are color and "not too holey."

Excellent! I can DO this.

I've even decided to Design My Own. Can't be too difficult since there aren't any sleeves to attach, etc. I posted a question...series of them KnitList and several very helpful people gave me ideas.

My orginal thought was to use a superwash wool, just in case BSS decided to wash the thing. My eyes first fell upon KnitPicks Swish Superwash in Dublin. My LYS suggested an acrylic from Dark Horse which would be affordable, soft, and wear pretty well. It really felt nice but I just have this aversion to acrylic. Probably from all the years of using Red Heart before I discovered Real Yarn. Does this make me a yarn snob? Oh well..gotta be something!

Then I Googled superwash yarn and found Sarah's Yarns. There I found a superwash lamb's wool by JaggerSpun in a lace weight that was Very Affordable and had the lovely option of Trying Before Buying. In spite of the fact that I ordered the wrong wool, I can't wait to get my needles on this yarn. What I ordered is close to what I actually wanted so I may not reorder...we'll see.

For the pattern, I am looking through the Vogue "Stitchionary" books to come up with 3 or more stitches to use in a sampler type of pattern. I have waffled between knitting one big piece and knitting in sections and then joining. I have tentatively decided to do sections and then join the pieces with a three needle bind off. I think this will give durability to the joins rather than simply sewing up. Besides, I hate sewing up.

Now I just have to decide on the stitches. A panel of each with a seed stitch border. I think with the 3 needle bind off, I'll leave the border off certain sides so that all the borders will be equal. Gotta get it on paper.

In fact, writing about it makes me want to do it.

Off I go.

If It Isn't One Thing...

Working for a tax accountant really makes for a rather preoccupied winter. I've managed to knit a bit and read a bit but real life has taken a back seat. I don't even work "full time" but to me, working everyday is full time. I simply don't manage work, husband, family, house work very well all at once. I've said before that I will probably never be classified as a workaholic or type-A personality since it's very simple for me to let What Must Be Done remain undone while What Needn't Be Done is indulged in on a whim. Which is why, during this terribly busy time for most people who work in the tax business, I have managed to complete a washcloth and wrist warmers, begun and nearly finished a baby/toddler sweater, and am planning an afghan well as read at least a dozen books. Of course, ask my BH what has been neglected and he will firmly and resoundingly reply, "ME!"

Poor thing.

So now that taxes are done, I've begun thinking about gardening and have even ordered seeds from Seeds of Change. Since I ordered so late, I missed out on a few things but my fellas don't thrive on vegetables unless they are in the form of pizza sauce so I guess it's no great loss. OH, except for sweet corn which BH is extremely keen to get in the ground so we can have corn for July 4. In the northern part of Wisconsin, it is an accepted fact of life that gardens do Not go in until after the 15th of May. Accept, of course, for potatoes which Must be planted on Good Friday. So yesterday, April 20th, when BH called me at work and wanted to know if I wanted to plant sweet corn this weekend...I was a little stunned. THEN he informed me that we were going to start planting...meaning regular field corn in the So that means that now my life will be full of feeding hungry farmers, running to the implement dealer for parts, driving tractor (I hope!) and being all around "gofer."

So, if it isn't one's another.

Life is like that.

Lovely, hmmm?

Monday, February 12, 2007

Dishcloth Itch Scratched

I found this Great pattern for a modular dishcloth but due to my odd knitting habits or whatever, it is not strictly a square piece. My friend Sharon, when she observed me ripping out, said, "Jolene, it's a Dish Cloth!"

Yup, a wobbly edged, sunny dishcloth.

Should make my dishes sparkle, huh?

Now that that's done, I think I'm over the most recent dishcloth urge.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Another Day, Another Change...

Okay, so now I've decided to devote this to what I'm reading and what I'm knitting and it'll be purely for my own use. It's nice to track what I've done...makes me feel like I really am accomplishing something.

So, as for what I'm reading....

It's another go 'round for the Mitford Series. There is something wise, charming, funny, and real about this little village and it's residents. I've been reading mysteries and this is giving my brain a break from crime. Somehow reading about the simple, daily lives of Father Tim helps to encourage me in my daily life. He and Cynthia and the others, live their faith but have struggles that anyone could have. Reliance on God for making it through, being human, reaching others in the place where they are at. Not being afraid of talking about what is important...and if afraid, overcoming it somehow.

Now, what I've been knitting.

Since the Christmas KAL (where I happily won a prize and am waiting with anticipation for my sock yarn!) I've finished another pair of fingerless mittens. These are for my mom who quilts in her cold basement sewing room and needs toasty hands and free fingers. I used Autumn Walk from Catalina Yarns for the pattern and a lovely handpainted wool/mohair yarn from a local spinner Loretta Pederson/Blackberry Hills. The only "on purpose" change I made was the cables to a 2x2 ribbing. I tried and tried the cables but just couldn't get the hang of it. Everything kept getting tighter and tighter so I decided to make the ribbing change and work on cables another time. I did make a "on accident" change and one mitten is three rows shorter at the top but I tried them on and I'm pretty sure the warmth factor isn't much different.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Let me tell you about Sophie

I have never had a dog before.

I've been owned by many cats. I have always considered myself a cat person. I like their independence. If a cat comes to you, it's because they really feel that you are worthy of their attention. It's an honor to be acknowledged by a cat.

I like that.

However, I had never been introduced to a Great Dane before.

Sophie came into our lives at the age of 8 weeks. 48 pounds of rapidly growing bones, an empty belly, floppy ears, a whip of a tail and Teeth. Teeth that Must Chew. And cheeks that can easily hide a refrigerator.

She has grown up, literally and figuratively. She no longer has to chew everything that is still for 2 minutes. She does like to cuddle with socks and underwear and she'll give our shoes an affectionate gnaw once in a while but her need to eat furniture seems to be past.

Sophie is a champion farter. The rule seems to be pretty solid. If you can hear it you're probably safe. The sneaky ones seem to coat your mouth and can clear a room in seconds.

I have found what I thought was a cobweb hanging from the ceiling only to find when I go to wipe it down that it's really dried doggy drool. Cleaning has become much more involved. The cat required more vacuuming. Sophie requires buckets of hot water for drool detail.

She is a lap dog in the body of a small horse. I often find her sitting on the couch looking out the window. Don't picture her sitting like other, less significant dogs. Her butt is on the couch and her back feet are dangling and her front feet are on the floor. She also likes to sit on my lap. Imagine a teenager sitting on your lap. Now imagine that this teenager is covered in fur, has long floppy ears and a long line of drool from lip to floor.

That's my girl.

My favorite Dane website has a Dane Owner's Checklist and I am always amazed at how so many of the things listed are really true!

Sophie is busy barking in the background so I'd better go and assure her that the table and chairs are really quite safe.


Starting Anew

This blog at it's beginning, had no purpose. It was like others, just a place to hear myself talk. An online journal. A place to pretend to be literate, wise, poetic, clever.

Now, I hope, it will be a cyber coffee shop for Sara, Judy, and I.

A place to chat, post the odd thought (what? from us? odd? Never!), the obscure observation, the favorite recipe, the sorrowful lament, the deep tearing pains, the funny thing the husband or kids or grandkids said or did, the searing critique of the Seattle Talent on American Idol...whatever.

I've sent the invitations to the girls.

We'll see what happens.

In the meantime....