Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Gratuitous Pug shot

In checking the pictures from Christmas, I found this great one of our pug Gadget. Sadly I did not take it myself, all credit goes to my six year old. But since this is a knitting blog, not a pug blog, I also have a few other shots...

The finished socks for my mom. I'm really happy with how they turned out. My minor modifications made them fit her really well. The nice part is knowing she will wear them a lot. I read somewhere the best gift you can give a knitter is by wearing their knitting. I can't agree more.
I'm excited about the new year, what new skills I will acquire. What new projects I will work on. I'm hoping to do more in lace. I've purchased some really nice lace weight and am deciding what those skeins want to be when they grow up.
So I got started on a new pair of socks for me, simple plain vanilla socks. Using Harry Potter sock yarn, in the Tonks colorway. No counting required, just simple soothing knitting. I like it. I'm using my new sock needles and they are smooth and the knitting is moving along...
This week's work schedule is a bit odd, I have tomorrow and Thursday off, but back on Friday. Usually we get to leave early the day before a holiday, but I'm doubting that will happen today. However, if we do get to leave, I just might head over to Borealis yarns to see what might need to come home with me.
Enjoy the New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pictureless blog - Christams Knitting Success

Christmas knitting is SO done! My mom loved her socks. The adaptations I made worked out perfectly, they fit her perfectly. While I didn't finish the mittens before giving them to Anna, she loved them and I finished them over the weekend. Success! And I'm glad I did it. But oh man, I can finally cast on for something new, something dare I say, for ME! And while I got the new book Hand painted Socks, beautiful Claudia Hand painted sock yarn and a batch of sock needles, I started a plain vanilla sock for myself, plain stockinette and in the Tonks colorway of the Harry Potter sock line. And I'm loving it. The joy of watching the colors flow through my finger tips. No counting necessary, but just beautiful simple knitting. Doesn't get much better than that.

My girls had a good Christmas, gifts they knew they wanted, delighted gasps when they received something equally wonderful they didn't even know they just HAD to have....

I'll get pictures uploaded soon, one more week of weird work schedule, and then time to settle into the long winter. No trip to focus on to Dallas this year, instead I will have to hang on until we go to Florida for my niece's wedding in July. But much knitting will take place between then and now.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Top 5 perks of working on Christmas Eve

1. No traffic. After a couple of weeks of triple the normal commute time, today I flew in under 30 minutes.

2. Parking spaces available in the front row. No parking in the second lot waaaaaaaay in the back, or sneaking into the intraoffice parking section. Nope, today I breezed in and scored a spot in the front row.

3. Total silence in the cube filled world I work in. Instead of hearing phone conversations, meetings, copiers humming, phones ringing, today it is nearly total silence. That happens when less than 10 people are here on a floor with normally over 60 people.

4. Time to really dig into those projects that you've been stalling....umm saving, ya that's what I meant, saving to get into.....or just move piles around on your desk to help foster that look of I'm working here people!

5. Getting to leave early at 2, so by not taking a lunch, you can head out at 1!

I tried but I don't think I will finish the second mitten tonight. So I will wrap up the completed one and tomorrow will show Kyle's Anna the partial second one. I know I can finish it probably even tomorrow night, but I'm not staying up all night tonight to finish it.

But the fact is, tonight is Christmas Eve. The girls and I will head to church so I can work in the nursery for the 4 pm service. Mom will stay home and get a lovely dinner of crab and other wonders ready for us. After a quick clean up, let the present opening begin!

We will then attach our Santa key to the front door (Santa left us a magic key, this can be used for homes without fireplaces, and even to alert Santa when you are not at home for the stocking fill up to occur. Who knew it had a GPS chip in it. We hang it on the front door of where ever we are and when the girls wake up on Christmas morning, the stockings are full of wonders from Santa!)

Tomorrow morning we will get up and load the van and head out to the wilds of Wisconsin to spend a few days with my sister and family at her log cabin on the lake.

I wish you a Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Socks DONE! Happy Birthday Anna!

I'm relieved to say I finished the second sock as hoped for on Saturday night. Now I still have many ends to weave in between the two socks, but the knitting is complete! And I'm really happy with how they turned out. I can't show you how they turned out because the batteries in my camera are dead and I had no extra ones at home. Not a good thing a few days before tonight will be one more stop on the way home to pick up batteries so the camera is fully charged for all the gift opening mania. I also got to the main color work section of the mitten as well. So I'm really in good shape to finish both knitted presents before the time to open them. Of course by not only saying it but TYPING it, I've just now waived a red flag at the knitting gods...but so be it.

Yesterday was my Anna's 12th birthday. TWELVE years old. My girl is amazing. Funny, goofy, and such a good kid. Since the weather was awful we did not go anywhere yesterday, but we had a nice time just the four of us. She loved her presents, especially when her grandma handed her a sizable chunk of cash to spend on anything she wants. Loved the open mouth, wide eyes look. Of course I look back in my mind to her first birthday, when she was baptized on her first birthday. We had been home from China for only a month and I could only dream of what our life together would be. But it is because of Anna's joyous happy soul that we became a family of 3, her love for me encouraged me to pursue getting her a little sister as well as another daughter for me.

I remember walking into daycare the 3rd day she started there, the other days she seemed indifferent to me picking her up at the end of the day, but this time it was like she got it, she knew I was ALWAYS coming back for her, I wasn't leaving her in another orphanage, she saw me that day, squealed and lifted her arms to me. The first time she did that. And always, every night when I would come pick her up, she would see me, her face would light up and run to me, arms wide open, hurling herself into my arms for a hug and a kiss. When I pick her up now from church or school, she may no longer hurl herself into my arms, but her eyes gleam with joy and there is always a smile on her face. This is the child that I was blessed to receive a little over 11 years ago in China. The best Christmas present I have ever received.

So I wish everyone a wonderful blessed Christmas. I'll probably be back before Christmas, hopefully to show pictures of the completed socks as well as mittens.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

T minus 6 days and counting

I'm doing the typical Christmas scramble. In years past I've been better about buying gifts ahead of time. Not this year. But I think I'm basically done. I'll need some stocking stuffers but that is it. And Anna's birthday is in good shape as well. Just need to finish wrapping those last few gifts tonight. Will fed ex presents to my niece in Florida and then I can sit back and go whew!

Oh wait, no I can't, see I have 6 days remaining in my mad dash to complete my knitting. So last night when I should have been pushing out the sock, I instead sat. Stared numbly as more snow is predicted over the next couple days. Oh and needed to color the gray that was shining through the rest of my hair. So I did. Pushed the snow out of my mind. Can't change that, it will do what it wants. Colored the gray, banished it for a while at least. Then sat down to knit.

I'm just starting the heel of sock two. Started the first color work section of the second mitten.

Now doesn't that just instill great confidence that these will be added to the completed single mates for both? sigh...I still believe they can be finished in the next 6 days. Just will be a bit harried I think. I know I can get the sock done. Hopefully this weekend. Just not as confident on the mitten.
And I'm feeling some bah humbug creeping in.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

no new pictures

But the good news is sock one is done, done I tell you. And half of the unending tails have been neatly woven in. The second sock is 9 rows from completion of the cuff, (ya, my great plan of immediately knitting the second cuff before completing the plain body of the each sock went by the wayside). Tonight I will finish the cuff and launch into the body. I should finish the second sock by Sunday (dare I hope Saturday?), which leaves me 3 1/2 days to finish the second Norwegian mitten for Kyle's Anna. Still doable, but teetering on the brink of disaster. But really, I have one complete sock, and one mitten (minus the thumb) that even if I don't knit one more stitch would show the gift recipient what they will receive. So it is not going to be a disaster no matter what. And that works for me.

Today is one of those challenging days in MN. The temp this morning was -8, -30 windchill. No matter what, that is cold. My normal commute of 35 minutes took over an hour. Just no fun, it wasn't white knuckle driving, just slow, plodding, creeping along driving. The rest of the week will be challenging, but slowly warming up (warming is used loosely here). And to top it off, we are getting 1-2 inches of snow each day this week. oh boy, we know how to party here!

I guess you could say we are just getting our outside ready for Santa to feel comfortable in! Welcome Santa, the snow bound frozen tundra is here in MN waiting for you!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Knitting crunch time

The good news is I'm on the home stretch of sock one, reaching the toes tonight, should be able to kitchener off tomorrow and start the race on sock number 2. I think the fit is good, my mom has some feet issues and I have to adjust the sock to her foot. It is a bit of a loose fit on my foot so it should fit well on her. I have made gifts for my family for years. I've been doing one type of needlework or crafting since I was a teenager. They always appreciated anything I ever gave them. But I must say, my mom has enjoyed my hand knit socks more than almost anything I have ever given her. Funny how something as simple as a sock can bring such joy to a person.

And hard as it is, I'm desperately fighting the urge of spinning. I simply can't break now. I have 13 days to finish both socks and a second Norwegian mitten. Both the socks and the mitten are fair isle so I'm not as fast as I could be on "plain" knitting. But I'm pretty sure I can still get these two gifts done.

And watch on the day I get home from celebrating Christmas at my sisters, I'm betting I will be online picking out a couple new batches of roving to send to me from Etsy. smile....see that is only 16 days away. So while one part of me is wishing time would slow down so I could knit faster, the other part of me is wishing time to fly by so I can get to spinning! No wonder I'm in such a quandary.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

No picture today

Why you ask? because the sock karma is fading! I did turn the heel last night on sock number 1. There is still hope, but between work and shopping for others, my time seems to be slipping away faster than normal. Lists to prepare for others to shop from. Shoes to find by searching multiple stores. Deals that must be purchased TODAY ONLY! all kill my knitting time. I slog home at the end of the day tired and dragging. But I still believe I will make it. yup, that is my plan anyway.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas Socks sabatoged

This is what threw me off my carefully calculated path. Roving. Pretty roving. And an empty spindle. sigh...empty no more. but it is sure a nice diversion.

All is not lost, just merely delayed. I wouldn't want to be cocky and just fly through those socks. No, I'm much better at working under pressure. Let's see, from today, I will have 16 days until I must have 2 completed socks under the tree. TWO....not one, not one and 1/2. But two. And I'm sure I will do that....see here is how far I got....still sock one, but heh! I'm through with the cuff part and flying on the plain section. Tonight's plan is to stop with sock one and start the more labor intensive part of sock two.

But guess what is calling my name....

Darn if I don't have more roving....and more room on the spindle....sigh...I'm hopeless....well after all I still have 16 days to make a pair of socks. I'm sure if I have 15 days I can still make a pair of socks!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Day 3 in the Christmas socks campaign

Well I didn't get as far as I hoped last night. My mom and girls and I watch Survivor together and couldn't very well knit on the socks during that! But after getting upstairs I waded through another 10 rows of the chart. So I'm only on row 30. 14 rows left. Hopefully I will finish the cuff tonight. I am happy with how it is turning out though.
Tomorrow is my Emily's first sleep over. She is so excited, that may be why her suitcase was packed last night! smile....
While Emily is away, I'm hoping to take Anna and do some Christmas shopping. Then later I can take Emily on her own and see what we can take care of.
I'm wishing Santa would bring me a spinning wheel for Christmas but since I'm Santa for my family and we put the Santa gifts in our stockings, I strongly doubt that will happen! But maybe I can convince Santa to leave me some nice that I think I can do!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Day Two of Christmas sock

So here we are, day two in the mad dash to the finish of the Christmas knitting....see Exhibit 1

I made good progress in just about 2 hours of knitting last night. I'm on row 19 of the 44 row section of the cuff. Then it is plain knitting for the entire rest of the sock. Since I also will drop down a size in needles at that time, it will be easy for me to immediately start again on the second cuff and churn out the fair isle section again. My fear is I will be knitting late into the last few nights and mistakes in fair isle are much more likely when I'm tired versus knitting plain stockinette row after row. So my goal is that by the end of next week, I will have both cuff sections completed. We will see.

I also think it will take at least a day to weave in all the ends, good grief, do you see that mess? But I'm also loving the pattern and the yarn. I haven't knit on socks for the last couple months and I really miss it. Between using Addi turbos and lovely sock yarn, there just isn't nicer knitting around for me.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Christmas Knitting

So call me crazy. I have 3 weeks to finish a pair of socks and a pair of mittens. And one mitten is about an hour away from being done.

see? This is for my nephews lovely fiancee, Anna. I'm farther along than this picture, I'm actually reducing for the top of the mitten. I figure about 10 more rows there and the thumb and cross off one mitten from my list. But then I realized I didn't think things through quite as well as I should have. See I'm not going to see Anna for Christmas and I will see Kyle at his folks place for Christmas weekend. But I will see my mom and that is where it gets interesting. I plan on giving my mom her socks on Christmas Eve when it is just the four of us, mom, my girls, and me. Yup. That is in exactly 3 weeks. The socks I picked out are from my favorite sock book, Favorite socks, 25 Timeless patterns from Interweave. And her socks have a beautiful fair isle pattern on the large cuff which then turns into plain stockinette for the leg and foot. She asked me for them last year, but I was a newbie sock knitter and wasn't comfortable with fair isle yet. But I've gotten better, can do fair isle (see above) and am thrilled to be able to make these for her. But that means I need to have these socks finished in 3 weeks. And the knitting must be done when she isn't around. hmmmm....and here is where I am today with her socks.....

Yup, I think I'm in the phase of knitting delusion that the Yarn Harlot talks about. But man, I'm sure I can get it done! Stay tuned.....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Spinning 101

I took a spinning class a week ago and I'm thrilled. I tried to learn from a DVD but clearly I needed more interactive help than that. So I was frustrated trying to create something that looked remotely like yarn. When I saw the class at All About Yarn to learn on a drop spindle, I think I called to sign up within 2 minutes of receiving the email update of their classes. And it was great. The end result is that I can now spin something that resembles yarn. The first attempts resulted in lumpy bumpy yarn which we were corrected and told we had made "Designer Yarn" smile....whatever you call it, I was still proud of my efforts.

Lumpy bumpy it may be, it was still something I made. The drop spindle works quite well although I admit I'm not great about letting it remain spinning while I'm drafting etc and pinching the yarn to move the twist up. I tend to send it spinning and then clamping it between my knees while I work the twist up the roving. Maybe with more practice I will get more confident on that part.

So after working on half of the roving I had 3 balls of lumpy bumpy designer I started again and look what I ended up with this time!

This looks much closer to regular yarn to me! Still have sections that are lumpy than the rest, but I'm quite proud of this. There will definitely be more spinning in my future. I might have gone online to Etsy and purchased a couple more batches of 4 ounces of roving. smile....can't wait to get it and start spinning.

But in the mean time I have some Christmas knitting to take care of.

I'm about 2/3 done with the first mitten for my nephew's fiancee, Anna. Although my knitting was slowed this weekend because I tweaked my back. But I'm much better and think I can handle sitting for the amount of time I need to get some knitting done.