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.