Monday, December 28, 2009

The week AFTER Christmas

This is one of my favorite weeks.  The Christmas holiday is over, the pressures of gift giving and making is done.  Running from one place to another is done.  This week is another short week due to New Years, but no big plans are set for the long weekend.  Which translates into more relaxing times for me.

Our Christmas went very well.  We adjusted to the snow.  Yes, it snowed here in MN in case you didn't hear.  Check out the girls standing next to the snow pile across from us.  Crazy, if it keeps up, we will still have that pile in June!  It takes a very long time for something like that to totally melt.  But in the meantime, the girls can slide down the other side as much as they want.

Everyone got to our house safely, MK/Steve came from the lake in the wilds of Wisconsin on Wed. night instead of Thursday due to the storm.  I think they were happy with that choice when we woke up the next morning to 6 inches of new snow, with another 12 expected.  Fun times I tell you.  But it did make for a picutre perfect Christmas.  It was gorgeous outside.

And since I finished the Christmas knitting to my relief and everyone else's joy, I could start new projects.  In 3 days at home, I spun 8 ounces of roving in two different colorways...this is 100% Falkland wool.  The color is much prettier, it is a greenish blue with just a hint of brownish in it.  I hate trying to take pictures during the winter.  We never have sun and if we do, I'm at work and can't stop everything to rush out and take good pictures.  Which means I'm stuck in indoor lighting and flash bulbs which washes everything out.  Maybe if you squint your eyes and turn your head just so, it will look better.
This is the other roving, called Sugar Plum.  Seemed appropriately named.  100% wool.  Very soft and squishy.  I don't know what I'm going to make from it, maybe some fingerless mitts.  Will see what I feel like when I get to it.
The last thing I did was make a hat.  I pulled a free patter from Ravelry and using my handspun I made this.  When I was working on it, I showed Emily and asked her if she wanted it and she wrinkled up her nose and said NO!  I shrugged and said it would be the first thing for the craft fair I'm planning on working next December.  Well the moment I finished it, wove in the ends, Emily took it out of my hands and plopped it on her head.  She fell asleep with it on last night.  smile...I guess it was meant to be hers all the time.  So I started a second hat for the fair.  I have enough yarn to easily do that.  And her happiness in wearing the hat made it worth it.  So as December 2009 comes to a close, I can't wait to see what our new year will bring. 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Anna's birthday

My Anna is 13.  A teenager!  smile...she has been eagerly counting down the days for the last month.  Her day arrived and was a success.  While she slept, I put a present on her bed, went into her sister's room and together we dialed a new number and then went to watch as Anna woke to a persistent ringing.  She slapped at her alarm clock to turn it off, but the ringing continued.  Finally I kept repeating, Anna, answer your phone, answer your phone.  And her eyes lit up as she ripped into the ringing package to uncover her much wanted phone, I too am now dragged into the present day by giving up my trusty old reliable flip phone.  We both own very fancy phones now, even with QWERTY keyboards.  And I succumbed and bought a family plan with unlimited texting.  She was thrilled.  As usual, my thoughts go to China, wondering if someone thinks about my girl this day.  I'll forever be linked to China for the rest of my life.  And I will cherish my China girls.  I'm such a blessed mom.

The deadline for Christmas knitting is fast approaching.  I'm down to the last mitten.  It is nearly half done so I'm not worried about it not getting done.  I'm just tired of knitting.  Gasp, shock. The horror!  smile...because all I want for Christmas is to spin.  I can NOT wait to be able to sit at my wheel and spin.  We are supposed to get a huge snow storm during Christmas, like up to two feet of new snow with wind.  Bring it on!  I have enough roving to keep me happy for several days.  And I'm ready to sit and listen to the wheel whir away, transforming my buch of fluff into yarn....and by the time I'm done spinning, I'll be ready to turn the yarn into something comforting and warm.  There are many good things about living in MN and one is you can never have too many mittens, hats, scarves or sweaters.  Perfect location for any spinner/knitter to live.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Home Stretch

I started with this lovely blue roving from the Sanguine Gryphon.  It was shiny and silky and lovely to spin.  This is what I'm using for my fingerless mitts for Kyle's Anna.  And this is the first mitt sans thumb.
Spinning has turned into such a joy for me.  I love to knit, but there is something special about spinning.  It is mesmerizing to me.  And I can't spin until I finish my Christmas knitting...sigh...don't know why my family wouldn't get all excited about getting beautiful skeins of handspun yarn!  No, they insist that I transform that yarn into something they can wear.  Silly people....

I have one sock done for mom.  The other is on the foot, just past the gussets.  The matching mitt for Anna is just above the thumb section, so they are flying along.  However, Kyle's hat still has a hole at the top where I need to complete the decreases and his mittens have yet to be started.  So plenty of knitting to be done in the next week.  Which is why there must not be any spinning going on!

Sunday Emily played for the Christmas program at church.  She was so nervous about playing Good King Wenceslas.  But she walked up in front of the jammed church, people crowding into the aisles, sat down at the ginormous grand piano and calmly played her song flawlessly.  I was so very proud of her.  She even had her hair cut earlier in the day with layers in it like her sister.  I am so proud of my girls.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

-5 at the bus stop

Somehow we Minnesotans seem to have the capacity to forget just how painful -5 at the bus stop can be.  Yes the sun was shining and reflecting beautifully off the newly fallen snow.  However, that sun had zero warmth to it and frankly hurt my eyes!  But being the dutiful mom that I am, I shivered at the bus stop with my daughter and 2 neighbor kids.  They had snow pants.  I did not.  They had snow boots.  I did not.  I did have hand knit socks and hand knit mittens tucked into my bigger snow proof mittens.  And that helped me survive the morning bus wait.

My Christmas knitting is on target.  I'm actually ahead of schedule.  I finished the first of mom's monkey socks last night.  I searched on Ravelery and found a pattern I liked for fingerless mitts called "BonBons" by Susanna IC.  I chose a lovely bright navy blue handspun yarn that has a bit of a shimmer, maybe some silk in it.  And cast on for the first of Kyle's Anna's mitts.  The color goes nicely with the blue Pretty Thing I've already completed for her.  So my goal is to finish one of the mitts by Sat. afternoon.  Start the second sock for mom Sat. night and repeat.  Which would end up with both the socks and mitts finished by Saturday the 19th.  Which leaves me 4-5 solid days to complete a pair of mittens for Kyle.  This my friends I believe I can do.

Unless the knitting gods are biding their time, laughing at my efforts and planning.  I did after all choose a pattern that calls for "approximately" 150 yards to complete and decide to knit it with my own handspun that is "approximately" 152 yards in length.  Yup, that is tempting the fates there.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Howling Snow

Life in Minnesota is predictible, there will be flowers in late May, there will be mosquitos all summer, there will be crisp leaves falling in fall, and there will be howling snow during the winter.  Winter arrived in a big way last night.  In the cities, the roads are slow but passable, if you drive carefully.  Don't get me started on those vehicles whipping past me only to cut in front of me since I leave a nice safe distance between me and the car in front of me.  But I admit, it is exhilirating to live in this place.  It can take your breathe away as the wind slams you in the face while you drag your trash can down the snow clogged driveway but it also blesses you with beautiful white pristine snow covered fields with trees draped with snow laden branches. 

And last night as I sat knitting, I looked out from my bedroom window and watched and snow danced across the windown pane and I snuggled into my warm bed and happily worked on mom's new Christmas sock.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My Amazing Race- T minus 17 days

Remember when I said I was ahead of the game on Christmas knitting?  Well I may have been, but no longer.  I finished Kyle's hat last night, put it on and realized it was too short.  It just hit the top of my ears.  Leaving the bottom of ones ears hanging out in the harsh winds of a Minnesota winter is not a wise idea.  So I ripped back the decreases and added another 2 1/2 inches to the body of the hat, I've started the decreases again, it should be finished in an hour or so of knitting.  I also decided that I would make him a pair of mittens to go with the hat.  I finished his Anna's cowl a couple weeks ago, but now am going to add either fingerless gloves or maybe just a little lacy cuff to tuck into jacket sleeves or sweater sleeves.  That makes 2 more projects.  Which in 17 days is more than doable.  But the real kicker is the happy socks.  They make me very happy, however, I do not see them for mom anymore.  She will not want to work at pulling on socks in the morning.  So Saturday I started another pair of socks for her, my first pair of monkey socks.  I started late Sat. night and by last night I got the cuff section done and completed the set up rows for the heel flap.  So now I have a pair of mittens, fingerless gloves/cuffs, and a pair of mittens to complete in 17 days.  Still doable but I will have to be careful and not let time slip past me.  Add into the mix piano lessons, choir concerts, and Sunday School programs and the knitting time becomes more elusive.  (Since mom will be at all but the piano lessons, can't work on her socks then.)   So the race has begun!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Frozen Frog Pond

Getting up this morning and taking my dog out I admitted it is winter.  We started with snow in October and I just flat get surly when it snows here in October.  But after a weird month of October weather, November settled into a normal cool fall pattern.  It snowed a bit last night, and it is now cold enough that the snow does not melt when it hits the ground, instead it skitters across the dark pavement, dancing in the wind, swirling and twisting across the road.  But no complaints, it is December in Minnesota and we have come on snow...I'm ready for you.  (darn, forgot to put the snow scraper in the car....)  umm snow?  can you please hold off one more day?  I so hate to be scraping the windshield of the van with my credit card!

Tuesday night I started working on my nephews Christmas present, I have about 350 yards of brown rustic looking wool handspun yarn.  I thought about doing a scarf, I found a heavily cabled pattern I liked, cables crossing each other and reversible to boot.  I cast on only to discover I can't count to 36, I would count, yup, 36, and start knitting, two rows into the pattern it wouldn't work, I was short a stitch, I recounted, darn, I only cast on 35.  Rip it out.  Again cast on, 36, I counted twice, from each end, yup, 36.  Knit on, this time I got to row 6 before realizing I was again off count, counted again, this time I had 34! it again.  At least my handspun is holding up well, no wear or tear visible.  I also decided with the cables criss crossing everywhich way, the scarf was looking a little narrow, so since I seemed incapable of counting to 36, I did the math (stop laughing) and added enough stitches to make another section of cables...cast on again, this time at 48 stitches, counted 3 times and just to be sure, had my older daughter come in and count for me.  We both agreed, I had 48 stitches.  Start off again, this time I happily had no problems, the yarn was working out well, the 6 stitch cable looked good, until I got to row 11, where I discovered that instead of adding an extra 12 stitches (I wanted another column of cables, six stitch cable pattern, so added 12 stitches) the way the pattern worked I should have added 18 stitches.  sigh....again I ripped out.  And knew that I did not have enough yardage to make a long scarf that was as heavily cabled as this scarf would be.  I wound up the yarn and went to bed knowing that even though I knit for over 3 hours, I had NOTHING to show for it.

Last night I started again, I searched earlier in the day and found another pattern I liked, almost looked like thermal underwear, no cables.  I cast on, counted carefully and started, the pattern was working out just fine, but again, I felt like the scarf was too narrow.  So ripped again, added on the right number of stitches and took off.  Finally success, got through 3 pattern repeats, it is working up so nicely.  However, I'm convinced I don't have enough yardage of yarn, I was about 50 yards short from what the pattern said, but I must knit at a different guage than the designer.  So once again tonight, I will be ripping it out. 

And this time, I'm not going to make a scarf.  I'm going to make a hat and mittens.  I know I have enough yarn for that!  Lately I don't know what is happening to me, but I can't seem to pick patterns that match up with the yarn I long to use...stay tuned to Christmas watch 2009. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Birthday Present Done

Our Thanksgiving was a knitting and spinning fiesta for me.  I planned to continue my cleaning and purging binge I'd been on the weeks leading up to the holidays.  But nope, I happily plopped myself down to either spin or knit most of the long weekend.  I did do motherly duties and helped Anna rearrange her room (only because I used it as a way for her to clean up her room).  But most of the afternoons found me in my room knitting and/or spinning.  I realized that I needed a birthday gift for my nephews bride.  I needed it quickly, like in a week.  So I remembered a pattern in one of the Interweave Holiday magazines for a Cable and Bobbled headband.  I looked in my stash and pulled out some of my own handspun.  Three hours later I had this.  I'm silly proud of it.  It is simple and perfect.  My yarn looks good and that makes me very happy.  And I loved that I knit from my stash and didn't go out and buy something.  This will be the perfect small birthday gift.

I also worked quite a bit on my mom's christmas present.  The pattern is the Latvian Wedding socks, I simply call them the "happy" socks.  I chose to simplify it by doing a regular heel flap using the multi colored yarn and will proceed with the foot just in the white rather than continue the pattern.  When I get to the toe section I will again use the colored yarn.  I smile everytime I work on these and I know my mom will like them and that is the best gift of all.

Other than that all is quiet at my house.  My girls are dragging out all the Christmas decorations as I type and we will set up our tree tonight after supper.  All I have to say is thank heavens for pre-lit trees.  I HATED putting the lights on the tree each year, I love that in 10 minutes I can have the tree up and lit and ready for all our ornaments to come out.  It is fun to see the special ornaments my girls receive each year and remember their significance.  Some are Chinese ornaments, some are truly American.  Just like our family. 

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Socks!

I'm so looking forward to the long holiday weekend.  I worked really hard last weekend to do the more difficult chores at home, carpets have been cleaned, storage room emptied and then reorganzied.  (No pictures, I couldn't do it to myself.)  I still have a few bins to sort out, mostly books the girls said they did not want, but from which they already pulled out several to read.  I can do the final cleaning this weekend and it will be ok.  Mostly clothes to sort and purge through.  The worst of it is done.

Which means, I can have more down time over the holiday.  Being a single working mom who also shares a home with my mom means I have a lot of things to take care of.  Most of the time it is ok, I can handle it.  Sometimes it can get overwhelming being the sole person that is responsible to manage everyone's appointments and care.  Which is where my knitting/spinning comes in.  That is where I pour me into.  Where I can find solace and peace.  I don't know where I would be without my knitting.  And I don't want to know!

So over the weekend, this is what I did,   I started the Latvian Wedding Socks as a Christmas gift for my mom.  While I'm following the charts as written, I'm letting the varigated yarn do its own thing.  I'm not cutting out sections of the self striping yarn as the directions suggested, I'm just going with the flow.  At first I wasn't sure about how it was turning out, but now I've decided they are simply Happy Socks.  And when things are dreary this winter, it may bring a smile to my mom's face when she pulls on these wildly colored socks.  Soon the color will change to a mustard yellow followed by a spring green....let happiness reign on our feet!

I'm also half way through a scarf, also for my mom for Christmas.  This is using the first of my handspun yarns I've ever knit up.  It is just a simple ruched pattern.  I realized after several sections I made it too wide, however, my mom commented she thought it being extra wide would be nice when the blasted winds start howling here laden with snow.  So even though she has seen it, I'm going to give it to her as a gift.  It is super warm as the gray/white blend is wool and mohair.  That is the yarn I spun up and it is working up so nicely.

I hope everyone is able to safely travel this coming weekend.  The girls and mom and I will be at our house, just the four of us.  I can not wait.  I plan on Thanksgiving being a day of just that, one of remembering to give thanks.  I'm incredibly blessed, I have my two girls, my mom is healthy and home with us, my job is stable, and I have enough yarn that I could knit for a year without having to buy more.  That is a bountiful basket of blessings in my book.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Pretty Thing - Check Hemlock Ring - Check

Here is my Pretty Thing...although it isn't so pretty at the moment, this color is not true at is a pretty heathered blue with hints of lavendar.  Not the gray as it appears here, that is what you get when you take pictures in a flourscent light filled cubicle at work.  But it is done as far as the knitting goes.  Tonight it will soak in a bath and I'll pin it out.  Same goes for the Hemlock Ring.  The knitting is done, soaking and blocking await.  I sure hope the blocking cures the sad lumpy look it has now, it won't lay flat at all.  But I've seen blocking perform miracles before.  So no panic until after it has been pinned out...

I've decided to make Latvian Wedding socks for my mom's Christmas present.  I have the yarns at home all ready and will start tonight.

I'm looking forward to the Thanksgiving break coming up.  I'm tired of work and can use the respite.  I have plenty of work at home that needs to get done.  I'm cleaning out the storage closet, moving in an old dresser and hopefully filling it with things that just have no other place to live.  I need the upstairs more organized and soon.  While I believe in the lived in casual look, we have clearly crossed the line into a mess.  And with winter closing in and us being in close quarters for several months to come, I need to get the space more organized and cleared out.  So I feel some serious purging coming through.  If I get really brave, I will post before and after pictures.  not sure I'm ready for is bad people....

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Battle of the Ninja is won

I'm not even going to think about how much time has gone into one pair of socks.  Nice socks, but they took more time than I usually spend on 2 pairs.  Of course that may be because I probably knit stitch for stitch equaling two pair, but so be it.

They are done!  And I will relish wearing them.  Even though the picture does not show the toes of both, rest assured I completed them in the same yarn.  And had this much left over. Not even enough to really save for darning or making any future repairs.  But they are done and complete.  I wish the cuff was a bit longer, but then looking at what I had left over in the yarn department, we all know that was not an option. 

So I'm moving on, I'm really ahead of where I normally am for Christmas knitting.  I have 3 rows left and Pretty Thing will be complete.  I'm about 75% done with the crocheted edging on the Hemlock Ring Blanket.  Which leaves me with a scarf for my nephew Kyle and has opened up the possibilites for my mom's gift.  I've decided to make a pair of Latvian Wedding Socks.  I can't figure out how to get a picture of them on here, but they are a cream background with riotous colorfilled fair isle patterns.  She will love them!

So the Christmas countdown continues, T minus 35 days.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ninja battles winding down

So the ninja socks and I have formed a truce I think.  I'm within 1/2 inch or so to where I start the toe decreases.  The small ball of yarn at the bottom of the picture may or may not get the sock finished.  I have the multi more turquoisey blue  yarn ready in the wings to finish the toe if needed, or I may just go with a straight white toe.  But in any regard, these socks will finally FINALLY be finished by the weekend.  And I can move on.  This has been a great lesson in sock knitting.  I've made so many pairs over the last couple years, I really stopped paying attention to fit as everything had been going so well.  Goes to show you, when you think you know what you are doing, that is the time you will trip and fall.  Such is life.

Christmas knitting is moving along, especially when you look at the calendar and realize Christmas Eve is 37 days away.  Thirty seven....not that long in knitting time.  But I'm doing reasonably well.  The Hemlock Ring blanket is done except for the edging.  I'm working on that each night until the boredom overtakes me and I pick something else up.  What I'm usually picking up at the moment is this, The Yarn Harlot's Pretty Thing.

I'm making this for Kyle's Anna.  I'm over half way done and I started it the end of last week.  So it moves very quickly.  Easy pattern with really nice results.  I'm hoping she will like it as much as I'm liking making it.  It also appears I'm in a blue yarn mood...but I think that is coming to an end, lately I've been drawn to orangey golden yellows...must be because our monochromatic winter world that is filled with white, gray and black is soon going to arrive.  I have plans for some new orangey yarn...but that is after Christams knitting is done.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ninja Socks 3, Me 3

You would think I've learned to quit waving the red flag in front of these socks.  Last time we talked, I realized I had forgotten to turn the heel and had blithley whipped right past that and was working on the gussets decreases.  I frogged them back to the heel flap, quickly turned the heel and once again picked up the necessary stitches for the gussets and I'm working on the body of the foot.  This is going relatively quickly when you consider I'm lucky to get 4 or 5 rounds knit during my short lunch.  I contine eyeing the steadily decreasing ball of yarn, so last night I weighed sock one, it came to 1.7 gr.  Weighed the second sock along with the remaining yarn, yup, 1.7.  EXACTLY.  So the good news is they weigh the same, which theoretically mean I should be able to finish them with the remaining yarn.  The bad news is they weigh the same, which will probably mean I will run out of yarn 3 rows from the end.  smile....

But the really good news?  I don't need my socks to match exactly to be happy with them, so I will not mind having a diferent toe on one sock, so I'm not going to rip the first sock back to make matching toes, I'm just going to knit until I run out of yarn and then deal with the fall out on the second sock.  So there ninja, take that!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas Knitting has begun

This year has been a total year of festivities already, my favorite niece was married in Florida in July to her Jeremy.  My favorite nephew was married in October to his Anna.  Both resulted in travel both near and far.  Which has impacted my pocket book.  But Christmas is coming...and gifts must be prepared.  Some will be bought and shipped.  Others will be coming out of my stash.  And after organizing it this weekend, my (at least to me) rather substantial stash made me see plenty of options. Looking at this picture it seems I have more deep dark colors, in greens/blues/purples than lighter pastelly colors.  I have an 3 drawer, 8 cubed unit that holds my yarn and various knitting gadgets.  (and boy do I like gadgets)  This weekend I bought a kitchen scale so I can more easily determine where I am in a project.  (Note to self:  weigh ninja sock one and compare to semi completed ninja sock two and remaining small ball of yarn and see if backup plan needs to be put into action.)

So with bugets impacted by weddings and travel, I started working on one Christmas present already, the Girasole afghan I made for Kyle and his Anna turned out very well and was met with lots of oooohs and aahhhs and my sister strongly "hinted"
i would really like one for Christmas Sharon that she wouldn't mind having one herself.  But I didn't want to make a second one so soon after finishing the first one.  So I pulled up another pattern by Jared Flood called the Hemlock Ring.  He and the Rainey Sisters made this popular a few years ago and the pattern is free on Ravelery.  So I started working on this for MK.  I can't get the color right in the picture, but it is a deep wine color.  I should have it finished around Thanksgiving.  Which then gives me plenty of time to go through my stash and figure out what I can make for both Kyle and Anna.  Knitting for Kristin is much harder, as wool and Florida don't really mix well.  Such is life. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Home Spun Yarn Explosion

This is what happens when you get a niddy noddy.  You grab all the handspun yarn you wound into balls and skein them up.  It felt like my yarn exploded!  Much like those little compressed sponges in the animal shapes my girls loved, you dropped them into water and they slow absorbed all the water and kept growing and growing and growing as long as you kept adding water.  Well I kept winding and winding and winding and discovered much to my amazement that I have a LOT of handspun.  Some good, some not so good.  Which I view as my training yarn. 
I have much more than I thought I had.  Which trust me isn't bad at all.  It just means I need to figure out ways to use it up.  And to realize that I don't need to get more roving at the moment.  And just maybe I need to focus on knitting what I have in hand.  Trust me, I won't be suffering at all.  I have many lovely colors to play with, a lot of white, which can be used in fair isle or even trying out dying.  Great, another new idea?  Stop, some one help me.  I bought my niddy noddy at the Midwest Alpaca farmers fiber festival held at the Hopkins High school this weekend.  I thought the vendors were all very nice and had such lovely things to offer.
 I decided to get some suri alpaca roving.  It was the softest stuff I've felt in a long time.  It is a pretty champagne color.  That is going to sit in my roving basket until I'm quite confident in my spinning.  And since I need to knit like a wild woman to wade through some of the hand spun stash, that may be a while.  But just having it to look at and fondle works for me. 

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Sunny Days

There has been a dearth of sunny days here this fall.  It has been downright dreary.  And I realized something today, the news is equally dreary, doom and gloom, horrible tragedies, nothing but awful.  And that is why more of my discretionary time is spent reading knitting blogs instead of the news sites.  I'm tired of reading all the bad things going on in the world.  And while I'm not an ostrich with my head in the sand, I can certainly limit the amount of "hard" news I take in each day.  Instead I will focus on seeing new projects created from yarn and fiber, watch sunsets recreated into fair isle mitts, see how sheep wool can be transformed through spinning, dyeing and knitting to become well loved blankies, and to see how simple hats and mittens knit for charity can help those in need. 

So with that in mind, here is a simple earwarmer I recently finished for myself, another rariety.  I used two nameless sock yarns and a pattern from Selbuvettor and wound up with this.  I really need to do better on my pictures, like have a person in them occasionally.  but I think it turned out well.  And shortly when I'm out shoveling or scraping the car off I will appreicate it's double thickness.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Gotcha Day - 12 years later

Twelve years ago today, I was in a tiny room in China, packed with anxious couples and me, waiting for an amazing gift that was going to change all of our lives.  A child.  In a matter of moments, I heard the Chinese name of my daughter called out.  I reached and was given this tiny, chubby faced China girl.  Who from the moment she was placed in my arms, beamed and laughed in delight.  We had been warned that the babies would be afraid of us and would cry when given to these crazy people who didn't look like, sound like, smell like anyone they had ever seen before.  All the 10 other baby girls were screaming and crying.  Not my Anna.  She was chortling with delight.  I was the one who was near tears.  I couldn't believe the gift that was in my arms.  My child.  My child with the fat cheeks, sparse hair on her head, dancing eyes, and the rail thin body.  This was my child.  Fast forward 12 years, and I look at my oldest daughter, with beautiful cheeks, long thick shiny black hair, still with dancing eyes, and a strong body.  Still my Anna.  We celebrate the days I received both my girls in China as almost a second birthday during the year.  They get a small present, I get to relive memories of the past years of our lives. 

I wonder if somewhere in China there are parents who wonder what happened to the baby they brought into the world.  How I wish I could let them know they are safe and loved and cherished.  That my two girls are the greatest gifts I have ever received.  Many people tell me that my girls are so lucky that I adopted them.  I simply reply that I am the lucky one.  I am the one who has been blessed to have two of the most wonderful girls in the world.  So wonderful there is no way that I could have created these unique creatures. 

So 12 years have passed, a blink of an eye at times.  I looked at my two girls getting ready for Halloween and realized that no matter how many gotcha days we celebrate, nothing will compair with that first moment in China when I held my child for the first time and blocked out the rest of the world to feel my heart melt into hers.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ninja Blue Socks 3, Me 2

I may have neglected say what the name of the bloody blue socks I'm working on.  They are the ninja socks.  The definition of a Ninja is "a member of a feudal Japanese society of mercenary agents, highly trained in martial arts and stealth (ninjutsu), who were hired for covert purposes ranging from espionage to sabotage and assassination."  Am I the only one to see the irony here?  Sabotage?  I finished the heel flap today at lunch, giddly whipped through the picking up the gussets and starting to knit my way around...did a couple rows, lunch was over, and I looked at it.  And felt a wave of frustration run through me.  In my delight to finish the heel flap, I neglected you see?

It took me a moment and then I realized, in my giddy delight, I missed one step, rather an important step.  I did not turn the heel, looks silly and gangly.  Which means I must....wait for out two rows.  To get back to my heel flap with no gusset stitches picked up, so I can properly turn the heel.  Even the eternal optimist in me can not see past it.

Ninja sock 3, me 2.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The blue sock isn't done with me yet

First before I continue the duel between the blue socks and me, look at this...from my office window last Friday.  Snow, big fat flakes of snow, covering windshields and starting to stick on the ground...and it is still October.  This does not bode well for the length of our winter...and while it makes my knitting fingers happy, come February and March I will be muttering a different story...but I digress...the blue sock.

The last time we talked I was crowing, Sock 2, me 1, because I finally finished the first sock and cast on the second sock, this after knitting, ripping, knitting and ripping yet again because of operator errors.  But I felt confident that everything was crusing along nicely as I started the second sock.  Well now I'm starting to have those knitting needles jabbed into my brain again and while I'm at least aware of them now, there isn't much I can do at this you see? I'm just starting the heel flap, pattern is done (first time a success, ya me) ready to just cruise on the plain foot, but look at the size of the remaining ball of yarn that I have left...hmmmm that does not look like a lot....considering I have size 11 feet and need a LONG foot that really doesn't look like is going to be close, do I hear devious laughter from that ball of yarn? I continue to knit along, convincing myself I will have enough.  Well, shhhhh don't say this out loud, but I have a back up plan, I have not kitchnered (is that a word?) the toe on sock 1, which means I can easily rip back (AGAIN!) and use that yarn to hopefully complete the foot of the second sock and then use something complimentary to knit both toes to finally finish the torturous blue socks...I refuse to give the sock another point yet, I'm not defeated, I have a back up plan in place, if anything I should give myself another point!  And since I'm writing the blog, that is what I'm it is a draw, sock 2, me 2.  And now that I've waved a bright red flag in front of these socks, can't wait to see what happens next....

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Weekend Wedding

My favorite nephew married his favorite girl on Saturday.  It was one of the most delightful days my family has had since the last wedding...oh yah, that was just in July.  smile...There was a bit of drama, my Emily was struggling with a bad cold Friday and Friday night, woke up and shortly afterwards had the first of two bloody noses, ramping up my stress level.  Think about it, putting your child into a white flower girl dress within 2 hours of having 2 bloody noses....yup, fun times.  But she made it through and we had just a wonderful day.  And when I got home Sunday afternoon, I realized I did not take one picture.  Not a one.  So hopefully soon I will get some pictures to add to this post.

I did hear from my sister that the newlyweds loved the giant gray blob of an afghan that transformed into the lovely Girasole.  I'm happy they like it.  Nothing better when a hand knit gift is warmly recieved.

So now I'm about 2 months to Christmas, let the Christmas knitting begin!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Big Gray Blob Done

It is done, I finished Girasole, the wedding is Saturday and it is done, ends woven in, soaked, and pinned out to block.  And I really am pleased with it.  The pattern done by Jared Flood is weel done, the charts easy to read and the end result beautiful.  I know my nephew Kyle and his Anna will enjoy this for many years.  Part of the gift is I'm tucking in a note saying I will take it each spring, wash it and block it out for them. 
We leave early Friday morning to drive to Milwaukee for the wedding.  Hopefully there will still be some leaves on the trees so we can enjoy the drive out.  I fear the fall in MN will be less than stellar this year due to the snow that fell the last two days.  While it is warming up this weekend, I'm sure most of the leaves will simply fall off the trees instead of turning colors.  When I lived in Texas, fall was the season I missed the most.  After living in Texas for several years I did learn to appreciate the subtly of its fall.  But how I longed for the cool crisp mornings, scuffing my way through the dried leaves on the ground, watching the geese heading south, while the rest of us prepared for the long winter ahead.  So this year not getting to watch the leaves change and glow in the sun will be sorely missed.  But one advantage of fall in MN vs TX?  Knowing that I can knit and knit and knit as many warm woolen things that I can manage and know that I still can continue to make more.  It will only get colder!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Finished Object

I finished two things Sunday night, the great gray blob of an afghan is done!  I need to weave in the ends and then block it, so pictures will follow after the weekend.  The wedding is a week from Saturday, so while not done too far in advance, it was done before I started to panic.

I'm happy with the results of the Emillia mittens.  I haven't done a lot of fair isle, but I really love the look and plan on doing more stranded knitting.  I used Julia yarn from Kristin Nichols' line and it is perfect for this.  They will be quite warm this winter.  And sad to say, the weatherman is predicting snow possibly by this weekend?  sigh....the second mitten still needs its thumb and the ends woven in.  So that better happen this week because a thumbless mitten really does NOT work for a Minnesota winter.

I did some spinning last night, the hot pink roving from yesterday's post.  It is amazingly soft stuff and I hope the yarn turns our as squishy as I want.  Emily wants me to make it into a hat for her.  I have a pattern I'm thinking about with lots of texture in it.  I need to see how the yarn actually turns out before I commit totally to the pattern.

And not to end on a sour note, but last night I spent over 2 hours looking for a dress or skirt to wear to my nephews wedding on the 17th.  I looked at 3 major name stores and 3 smaller clothings stores.  What is going on here, the primary color of the dresses/skirts were black.  I love black, most of my wardrobe is made up of black/grey/brown pants.  But I really don't want to wear black to the wedding. There were black sparkly dresses, squeiny black skirts, shimmery black jackets, even solid black outfits with embroidery.  Wehre were the browns, greens, rusts?  I was surprised that there weren't more fall color options.  I did try on a couple outfits at one place, they would have been ok, but there really didn't make me feel special or pretty.  I kept searching, found a jacket at one store, but nothing to go with it.  Found a skirt at another store, but it wouldn't go with that jacket.  Just very frustrating.  So that means this weekend I'll be heading to Mall of America.  That is where I found my two dresses for the July wedding and loved them.  Hopefully that will happen again. 

Monday, October 5, 2009

A spinner's life

When I dreamed of getting a spinning wheel I alternated from thinking I was crazy to want something that would help me make yarn to the thought of bliss when I could make just the most perfect yarn that only I would have.  Sure I could buy any yarn from my local yarn shop or from big box stores but it wouldn't be that special yarn.  I yearned for a wheel. I bought a hand spindle and started to learn to spin that way.  A slow but soothing process.  Although I never could get the hang out of letting it go for long, I continually had to trap it between my knees and then work the twist up.  I couldn't explain my longing for a wheel to many folks.  I waited a full year from when I first started thinking about it to when I decided I was going to get one.  I bought books and subscribed to Spin Off magazine, all to try and learn before I actually ever sat down at a wheel. 

My family understood, my sister and I have been crafters from the ages of 10 on.  You should see my sister's house.  It is filled with magnificent quilts she has made.  Her work is stunningly gorgeous and last year she bought herself a machine that helps her quilt her colorfull quilt tops into truly works of art.  She understands the longing of that one piece of equipment that will further your desire to MAKE something by hand.  My mom, though more puzzled, doesn't question wanting things like quilting machines or spinning wheels.  She has seen us both labor over projects and appreciates the time and effort they take. 

So last spring I found a way to buy my first wheel.  I've loved it since.  In the last few months I've churned through a pile of roving and am beginning to create yarn that looks like YARN!  So much to learn but that is part of the fun I think.  I"m hoping to take a class in November from the Weaver's Guild here in Minneapolis so I can learn exactly how much I don't know!  But in the mean time, this is what I do.

I'm going to make Emily a hat and mittens out of this hot pink roving.
So I continue to spin, to the point where when I come downstairs from "working" up stairs, my mom tells me to brush off the doghair from my pants...ummm that isn't dog hair, it is bits of fluff and roving.  Darn, she figured out I wasn't cleaning the upstairs like she thought, instead I had plunked down at my wheel to just spin for a that bit turned into an hour and a spindle full of singles later....but such is the life of a spinner.  Next....

Friday, October 2, 2009

My crazy life

My life at times is weird. I say this knowing it is my life. And I'll keep it thank you. But sometimes, I'm shaking my head at what passes as being normal around here.

I have two daughters, one is almost a teenager, that opens many doors that I prefer to stay shut, but also realize I'm not going to be able to keep them shut. Or keep her at home, with just us, instead she will be going out more and more into the "real" world. She was invited to a birthday party tonight, a slumber party, no big deal, she has done many in the past. But this one is at a hotel. A hotel I'm not staying at. That is hard. But she is ready. She is responsible. She is smart. So after checking out logistics, who is attending, etc., good chaperons, I said yes. My fear is tamped down with the glow in her eyes. I trust my girl. It is just the rest of the world I don't trust.

Then we get to my mom. We all live together. It works out more good than not good. But while I'm at work and the girls are at school, my mom is home. Thinking. Thinking a lot. More than some things need to be thought about. Like garage floors. I have washed that garage floor more than I have EVER washed a garage floor, because really people, it is a GARAGE floor. The van is out there, my old saggy, drippy, solid, drippy, van. It has left its mark. A mark that even with scrubbing is not coming off a basic plain garage floor no matter how many times you wash, how you wash, or what you use to wash it. Those marks are still there. And when my mom thinks all day alone and there is a stained garage floor near by, that is not a good match. But before I totally throw my hands up in the air, our handyman arrives, looks at the floor and tells my mom, it is clean. A really clean floor, for a garage. And short of painting it (painting a GARAGE floor?) it is fine. So what does my mom say? Oh good, thanks. I really need to keep our handyman's number on speed dial so he can repeat things I've said that apparently don't register to her unless it is spoken by a man's voice! smile...

And while the weirdness of my every day life swirls around me, I knit and spin. sometimes I spin in my head, but I really like spinning on my wheel....look what I made...

I think for only having my wheel for less than six months, taking no classes, and spinning sporadically, I'm making pretty decent progress. I'm still a bit inconsistent, but overall this is pretty usable yarn.

And just so you know? Sock 2, me 1

Monday, September 28, 2009

Big Gray Blob

I'm working on a wedding gift for my nephew. He is getting married to his Anna on October 17. I'm about 2 days from finishing the edging, can then block it, and hopefully by the end of this weekend, will have a complete afghan ready to go. Currently it looks like this.
Hard to get a good picture of it, but it is Jared Flood's design of Girasole. Very nice pattern and very nice afghan. It is unique in that it is round, has a nice pattern to it so it isn't boring and amazingly fast. I will say I'm a bit tired of the border, but hopefully will finish it in the next couple of days. In any event, it will be finished before the wedding and after all isn't that the goal? And the joy of knowing my nephew and his Anna appreciate a gift made from my hands and heart make me happy as well.
I also finished sock one of the blue Japanese sock. Actually, I knit it enough times to have a pair of socks, they wouldn't have fit any human I know, so as you know from the previous entry, it was rip it, rip it, rip it....but I now have one good fitting sock. I will cast on soon for the second sock.
I've been on a bit of a spinning binge though. I'll try and take photos soon of everything I've spun up in the last few months. My wheel is one of the best gifts I've given myself in a really long time.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sock 2, Me 0

The sock I'm working on is kicking my butt. I rarely worry about gage on socks, (bad me), perhaps because I never had to. However, this time, I should have paid attention. I knew casting on 60 stitches using size 1 needles was smaller than the comfy 72 stitches I normally cast on. But heh, I figured there must be a lot of stretch/give in the pattern, it does have a lot of yarn overs, so I'm sure that is why they cast on a smaller amount. I dive in, knitting away, just loving how the pattern and texture look. As each row grows, I'm eyeing the sock, hmmmm, it does look a bit small, but I'm sure if I keep going it will work out fine. I keep knitting, the bumpy texture looking marvelous in the Cherry Tree Hill yarn...still it does look a bit smallish....never mind, keep knitting! I knit.....I try it on, hmmmmm that is really a bit tight, but I have an idea. See how much in denial I was? I will give it as a Christmas gift, I know just the family member, she is petite and this will surely fit her....yup, I'm sure you can see where this is going....why I couldn't see it or more likely admit it, is beyond me. I complete the patterned section of the cuff and before I even start the heel flap I have my oldest daughter who is 12 try it on, sure it is going to slide gracefully on her foot. Nope, she struggled to get it past her heel.....and this was without a heel on it at all. That did it, I numbly realize if I want ANY normal human to be able to wear this sock I'd have to succumb to the screaming inner knitter in me and rip it out. So I did, I ripped a beautifully albeit too small sock completely out. Sock 1, me 0.
I started again, this time, figuring out with the pattern stitch what I would need to increase the count to an amount that will fit over my foot, and cast on, this time I cast on 80, yes a little bigger than my normal 72 when working work size 1 needles, but I'm confident (from experience) that the cuff pattern is very snug so sure the 80 will not result in a stretchy floppy mess wrinkling into a puddle around my ankle. I still love knitting the pattern and am very happy I can keep these now socks for me. So much for my thought of completing a Christmas present! They are all MINE. I knit along and whip through the cuff. Follow the pattern directions for the heel flap, hmmm, the inner knitter in me starts ringing those warning bells again, this pattern calls for a shorter heel flap than I normally do. You would think that I would remember the reason I had to restart this sock, but no....I again, blindly follow the directions, even though holding it up I keep thinking, that is a pretty short heel flap....somewhere my brain stopped after hearing the "pretty" part and ignored the "short" part. I kept knitting, turned the heel and started flying on the foot which is in stockinette....hmmm, because the heel flap was short, there was very little decreasing required on the gussets to get back to the 80 stitches.....inner knitter by now is up and screaming in my brain, jabbing with knitting needles....but sadly yes...I keep knitting, watching each stitch fly off my needle, chortling in delight as it grows...and grows....and grows....not just length wise...width wise as well.....I finally bow to the screaming inner knitter who is clearly hoarse now and I pull on the sock....and it is the saddest ill fitting sock I've knit (other than my first pair which I refuse to discuss). I again look at it and grimly realize if I want to wear these socks, it must be done....and I rip it out AGAIN, but at least only to the heel flap....where I proceed to add nearly 3/4 of an inch to the heel flap....I turn the heel and I'm now seeing the normal gusset amount and I'm also going to reduce to 72 stitches for the foot instead of the 80....and this is what this sock looks like as of can see the crinkly used yarn waiting to be reknit...I will vanquish this sock pattern...and I will relish wearing them....and hopefully my inner knitter will figure out a way to yank my yarn high knitting fingers back to reality next time so I don't waste so much time and effort into clearly wrong directions

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spinning continues

I got my wheel several months ago and I'm finding it is one of my favorite things to do. Now I'm not very good yet, but I'm getting what I feel are respectable sets of yarn. I'm still working on my consistency but I'm getting there. The newest batch I'm working on is a white and black wool and mohair combination.

This is what the remnants of my roving look like. I started with a pound of wool/mohair. And after several nights of spinning, this is all that remains. I found the wool and mohair is very slippery compared to the straight wool I spun previously. But this feels lovely sliding between my fingers...

My singles look like this...a tweedy blend with one section of solid white....I'm going to ply this tonight...waiting the 24 hours after filling the bobbin with singles is hard, but what I'm finding is that I spin first each night when I go upstairs, then after filling a bobbin, I knit the rest of the night. This keeps me from getting bored with either part of the process. and if I can keep myself off the computer perusing Ravelry or sigh, playing mindless computer games, I actually get quite a bit accomplished each night. After plying the two singles together, I'm left with this.....

Two hanks of beautifully blended tweedy yarn that should be warm and is very soft. I'm hoping to do a scarf/hat/mitten set....I'm going to look through my books to see what I can find.

I also completed a pair of socks for my mom last night. They are just plain vanilla socks, but with fall fast approaching, it won't be long before I will have my toes inside my handknit socks for the duration of winter. And I eagerly started a new pair of socks for me last night...remember I said I wanted to make 12 socks this year? Well I've only completed 4 complete pairs and still have 2 singles, so even giving me the lee way of counting mismatched socks as a pair, I'm only on 5. Hmmmm and it is September? Oh well, I'll push on.

For my birthday, I used gift money to purchase books, one of them I've just poured over... it is the first Japanese inspired pattern book I have. I think I will be getting more. I LOVE these socks and patterns. I can see making many of them in my future. I also would like to try and put some of the patterns into other things like mittens. The patterns are very textural and interesting. I've done so many plain vanilla socks lately, this is just what I needed to spark my sock knitting mojo again. So last night I cast on and here is what I have...

The color is spot on, Cherry Tree Hill yarn, but I don't remember the colorway. This color blue just makes me happy...and after spinning so much black and white yarn, this blue just sings to me.

And finally tonight will start the beginning of school year activities. I signed up both girls to be in a gymnastics class, once a week. It is good for them to be active and I hope they enjoy this. It is only for 8 weeks, but I see some prime knitting time as I wait for them each Tuesday night.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Where did summer go?

I have no excuse other than life just got really busy and blogging fell by the wayside. But the knitting and spinning has not. This is just going to be a quick check in. I will write a long post tomorrow night. My nephew and his finacee are picking up my girls tomorrow afternoon and keeping them over night! Be still my heart....I'm taking my mom to see Julie & Julia and go out to dinner. It will be a grown up night...the girls will have fun and I will have a night to do as I wish.

We had some excitement a couple weeks ago, Emily was scheduled for her second round of surgery re her cleft, the day before my mom calls me saying she does not feel well and to please come home. Ended up with her in one hospital with a "slight" heart attack (oxymoron if I ever heard one) while Emily was in a second hospital undergoing her surgery. Thanks to my sister who quickly came down from the north woods and stayed with my Anna while following up on mom, I was able to just focus on Emily. She came through surgery with great results and is thrilled with the outcome. She just gets prettier and prettier. And she is so very strong and brave. Surgery is never easy and to have it on your face is even harder but she just did wonderfully. And mom was able to come home the next day to start her recovery.
July found us spending nearly a week in Florida celebrating my niece's wedding. The location was amazing, I was able to sneak off 3 times to spend several hours on the beach with the girls. And while the wedding was amazing that was my favorite part of our time away. But seeing my two girls all dressed up in their wedding finery made my heart sing. And taking out all 112 bobby pins from Anna's hair later that night left us all in giggles.

In any event, I'll try to post more frequently, but no promises, because life is life...I'll do it as often as I can.