After working through the cast-on and ruffle decreases, I needed to knit an inch of cuff before I began the lace chart. I found it relatively easy to simply knit in straight stockinette for ten rows, or about one-inch of cuff. At the ten row point, which my last notes confirmed, I set the knitting aside Monday night, and left it alone until tonight.

It’s Thursday night, or Friday morning for some of you, which I love. I get to recover from the over a hundred half squats I performed while dealing Poker four about four hours, with breaks in there, too. Dear James is stuck at work(the poor guy), and I only have critter company, which doesn’t usually require much thinking, other than “Get out of my knitting or sewing bag.”

004Squib immediately sat down with me to inspect my sewing items this evening.

He pretended he wasn’t curious the entire time I had the camera on, until I left the strap dangling. After a bit, he settled down and snuggled in. Zeus decided on his spot next to the couch where he makes up his own bed. Scamp took the footstool that serves as a pet bed, more than a foot stool, anymore.  It’s not like we spoil the animals here, no? Briannag chose to keep her spot at the end of the couch. She was worn out jogging a bit in the heat earlier and likely won’t move much until Dad comes home.

013

Briannag, holding down her end of the couch…Zeus, snuggling as mom knit.

As I knit, I checked my notes. I’ve begun to learn my lesson. While I primarily have hash marks in the proper places, they’re enough to remind me what I did before. I began knitting the chart with minimal distractions other than animals changing places to snuggle up, or find somewhere else to sleep.  I even got through one entire repeat of the chart and knit the 16th row of the chart I sort of added.

008

Maeve joining the snuggle fest with mom…knitting needle on left above the cat…

The chart stops at 15 rows, which ends at the bottom knit 2 together and yarn over in the point of the heart. While I am going into stockinette right after, I feel it better to secure the chart with a row of stockinette before I set the work down until next time. You may note this is denoted to the right side of the chart with a simple hash-mark.

021

You can see the chart reasonably here, but I did not photograph the key on purpose. This pattern is available free from its designer at the following link: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/blackhearted

012Scamp decided it was best to settle for Zeus’ homemade bed in the meantime.

It’s simple, but it’s effective and leaves me worrying less about how far I have to frog or tink back to fix things if stitches come off the needles. I have enough choice words or phrases for when stitches come off the needles. I’m not leaving a lace chart to chance on that one. Now, to get one more photo without much cat intervention and show you what I mean. Until next week, happy knitting.

014

Here’s the progress I likely would not have made if Dear James had been at home.

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Dear Squib:

What are you doing?

Love, Dad

Dear Dad:

I’m taste-testing this stuff mom made. The cheese is good. Bleh! Keep this tasteless part.

Love, Squib

001

Squib, looking for trouble…

Dear Squib:

That’s a noodle. Get out of my food.

Dad

Dear Dad:

Perhaps you should have put it away. Let me try this again. Yup, cheese is good. *Bats noodle away, lands on Briannag who’s happy to eat it.

Squib

Dear Squib:

GET OUT of my food. *Dad gets up and puts mac-and-cheese away.

Mean ol’ Dad

022

Squib, pouting over his loss of cheese…

The next day…

Dear Scamp:

I need your help. Andrea wants mac-n-cheese. I’m not paying for refridgerated shipping…any ideas.

Love, Mom

Dear Mom,

I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’m sleeping, see?

Love, Scamp

023

Scamp, sleeping instead of providing ideas…

Dear Scamp:

*Moves to find a new toy…

What do you have? Did you take something apart? Taking it apart, hmm…

Love, Mom

Dear Mom:

What do you mean? Isn’t it supposed to do this?

Love, Scamp

Dear Scamp:

No, it’s not supposed to come apart. But I do think you two gave me an idea.

Love, Mom

Dear Mom:

Um, what idea? Why are you taking away my toy?

Scamp

Dear Scamp:

I’m taking away your toy because it’s not your toy. I’m going to take apart the Mac-n-cheese I send Andrea.

Love, Mom
005

Vegetable Rotini, Mustard, Onion, Paprika, Flour and Bay Leaf mailed with a catnip anchovy catfish toy and a gift card(not shown) for milk, eggs, cheese(which do not ship well) and bread crumbs-I had run out. A note was included, as well as a facebook post: Be Careful What You Wish For, You Just Might Get It…with instructions to share with a friend over a glass of wine. I have not heard if either of their cats were misbehaved enough to try the mac and cheese.

http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/baked-macaroni-and-cheese-recipe.html

Note; I use real food as much as possible, and cats do not care about things like healthy eating…if you’re looking for a healthier mac-n-cheese, add some broccoli.

Dear Mom,

Whatever. I’m finding another toy.

Love, Scamp

I created a second blog, called Scamp Letters, a little bit ago. I publish this blog early Monday morning, before I go to bed. This knitting blog is published on Thursday nights, or early Friday mornings. At first, I thought it was convenient as it was the end of the week, or the beginning of my work week. But I had the blog before I had the overnight, weekend job. My dear James, however, has had an overnight job working from Wednesday through Saturday for much of our relationship.

008The truly completed sock, sewn toe and all…

During this past week, as I finished classes and tackled projects that lay on the back-burner, I realized there may be more of a reason that I knit and blog more on Thursday nights, or Friday mornings. Usually, Dear James isn’t here. In addition, the plethora of pets we have behave marginally better for only one authority at a time.

004

Maeve, offering/requesting comfort while I knit…perhaps also scheming for a skein of yarn…

I was casting on my sock on Monday night, finally expressing some of my feelings about black yarn, and utilizing sites like knitting paradise and ravelry to show Dear James that I was not the only person who hesitated a great deal before knitting with black yarn. He dared inform me we have “good” lighting. I kindly informed him the lighting was only adequate, and that was after we put up a second lamp. Alas, I got the yarn cast on, and the first row knit, which took much longer than I expected, likely, in part due to company.

005Briannag, et al…helping me knit the decreases I mentioned…

Tuesday night, as he went to a role-playing gaming group he is part of, I planned to tackle some knitting before he got home. He came home a bit earlier than I expected, and the internet had run away with my knitting plans. I didn’t get started until after he got home. I invited him to play video games as soon as he walked in the door. I don’t always open with this invite. Once we got settled, I pulled out the knitting and began to knit the rounds and decrease the stitches. Aside from taking longer than I expected (once again), to knit each round of about 256 stitches and decrease to 128 stitches, with a few extra knit in, things were going well.

002

Scamp, offering her assistance or critique…Okay, she’s waiting for her banned yarn toys.

Occasionally a cat would come visit or a dog would need to be put outside. Dear James even helps with the dogs. With the cats, I simply hope they not eat the yarn, or run off with it. As I knit the round of 128 stitches to prepare for the next decrease in the ruffle cuff, I informed Dear James that I would like to desktop computer back. I don’t trust using the laptop on the couch, you will soon see why.

009

Zeus snuggling with Dear James, and Briannag claiming my knitting spot…

As I knit this round, about half-way through, Dear James returned to the couch, to be followed by not one, but two, yes, two–eighty pound dogs. Both dogs needed to be on our laps or in snuggling spots, knitting be damned. They got booted from the couch before I got the picture. Well, the less stubborn of the two found a bone on the floor. Then the oldest cat, Putzer decided four human hands had nothing better to do than massage him. Dear James was already reading on his Kindle.

Putzer, the cat, wasn’t as obtrusive as the dogs, however, he can get obnoxious about his demands, uh, requests… Next, Maeve decided my knitting bag made a good pillow, especially since mom had most of the pointy needles in her hand. I went from knitting with the occasional Squib rub down(and Squib is usually content to be petted between needles unless he is trying to eat them), to trying to knit around four animals. Somehow, we got the animals situated and I managed to finish the last leg of my knitting of 128 stitches…though I think the last 42 stitches took as long as the first 86.

004

Scamp asks: Just what does it take to get a skein of yarn from Mom?

On Thursday nights, dear James is at work and I’m home all-night, and usually pick times in which the curious kitties and pernicious puppies have settled down, at least until Squib or Scamp decide the yarn will make a great toy. This particular evening however, Briannag turned around to find a spot between mom and dad on the couch, and she deftly batted the yarn straight off my lap onto the middle of the floor. Scamp and Squib must have been napping, as no one attempted to run off with it before I picked it up and slid it back in the knitting bag. Now, here’s hoping the stitches stay on the needles till the next time I pull out the knitting.

In addition, friends, this dear man wants another dog….Is anyone donating another couch? We need another couch to make room for the dogs. And for all of you who do not allow your dogs on the furniture, I get it…but my dear stubborn James decided they get to be comfy as they are the equivalent of his kids and more spoiled than any kids he might’ve had would likely be. Then I get the joy of teaching a new puppy not to play with the yarn or knitting needles. My apologies if the furry felines and clawed canines take over the second sock journey I’m knitting this month or so.

     007

Thursday night’s progress…though the rounds of 64 stitches are much easier than the previous decreases…

Until I get to the lace parts.

For the intents and purposes of this blog, the sock is done. The dog has once again reclaimed my knitting spot, and I just need to sew up the toe. Sewing the toe is the easy part. Weaving in ends is a little tougher. But I’ll get it.

The toe may be my favorite part of the sock.  It means you’re almost done, and the end is in sight. However, it also means one of two things–either you get to put the socks on your feet for work tomorrow night, or you get to put another sock on the needles. In my case, I get to put another sock on the needles.   Allow me to rephrase that, I get to put another black sock on the needles. Thanks, dear.

017The trying on process…the eyelets aren’t entirely planned, but they’ll provide some useful ventilation.

Alas, let me talk about this sock before I start dreading a black ruffle on the next sock. Do you see my anxiety. “The only way out is through,” said Robert Frost. I shall simply knit. Which is what I did tonight, amidst an array of help except for the sleeping Putzer and mostly sleeping  Zeus.

016     See, my pretty black sock…is almost ready for the toe to begin.

Let me get back to the sock, the kitties will come. They always do.  I sat down tonight and began by measuring the sock on my foot. I love that newly knit sock feel. I still love that hand knit sock feel. The stitches hug your foot so soft and sweet, you consider walking around with the knitting needles still attached.  Then you take one step and remember why this isn’t a good idea. Sometimes, you don’t even get to the first step.

At this point, I was close to my baby toe disappearing, so I knit one more dual-toned row, then I changed to entirely cream colored yarn for the toe I want. I knit in the round for a couple of rounds, then I decided to choose my toe. I was almost giddy that I’d started on it. I had puppy and Maeve help at this time, as you shall see.

020

My trusty lap warmer, Maeve.

Before I officially started on the toe, I had to choose which toe to knit. I have knit the wedge toe, and the star toe. I decided on the star toe again. The wedge toe may be easier, sometimes. But I like the look of the star toe, and I’ve had no issues with the tip as I may have been concerned about before. Also, I only have to string the yarn through the six remaining stitches with a darning needle, tie a knot and weave in the ends.  With the wedge toe, I’d have about sixteen stitches still on my needles, or more, and would need to perform the kitchener stitch along them. Sometimes I enjoy it. Sometimes, I’d rather be just about done.

018

Scamp, scrutinizing my work, wondering why hands are not on her…

Tonight was a get it done night. Once I started on the toe, and made it through the first six rounds, I simply kept knitting. The first six rounds are the toughest, perhaps the first ten, as you decrease once every three rounds. However, you decrease six stitches each time you knit a decrease row. Once you get through a few of these, you have fewer stitches on the needle and each row takes less time.  I like that part. Sometimes, I downright love that part.

025Squib, making sure my legs do not get cold as he snuggles in for a nap…

As I knit this toe, the motivation to be done increases with each row. It simply knits itself along and makes you want to finish up, because there are six less stitches in each decrease. In addition, once I got past row ten or twelve, I began decreasing every other row. It’s kind of amazing to watch a sock from, knowing you could wear it with your half knit pair of pink colorful rose rib socks. My justification is that my thirteen year old niece informs me life is too short to match socks.  However, she believes there is a left foot sock and a right foot sock….Perhaps, I should stick to wearing finished pairs, for now.

028See, it’s ready to come off the needles and be stitched right up in a jiffy;-)

Happy Knitting, my friends. In addition, I received confirmation that I received a 4.0 grade point average, or the best a girl can get, especially while working and attending school. I deserve to finish this sock now, and begin the next.

G’night Ritual

May 11, 2015

*Mom gathers her sweater and puts it on to ward off the chill of these spring evenings…Scamp coos to her as she runs to their usual rendezvous spot.

Dear Mom:

Where are you going? Pet me.

Love, Scamp

003

Scamp’s all ready for mom to pet her goodnight.

*Scamp coos as she jumps on an end table she is usually allowed on. Mom grabs her backpack and prepares to start the car.

Dear Scamp:

It’s time for me to go to my own bed.  I’m going home.

Love, Mom

001

Getting permission to scratch Scamp’s ears…

Dear Mom:

Pet me. I’m thinking about running with you. I miss that house. But Squib isn’t there for me to pounce on him.

Love, Scamp

004

Scamp approving the goodnight ritual

*Mom pets Scamp and scratches behind her ears…Scamp’s favorite

Dear Scamp:

I’ll be back in the morning. You’ll be fine with the other kitties…never mind. I see you making tracks for the food dish.

Love, Mom

002

And she’s off…trust me…

Fantasy vs. Reality

May 8, 2015

Finals are finished..studying is done…the stress of school has ended(for this term). I did well. I got one wrong on each exam. Part of me wants to know which one I got wrong.  It’s almost like that one mistake you didn’t catch; you wonder when it happened, but realized it’d be more work to fix it, than to leave it be. After all, these questions did not prevent me from getting a better grade.

009

See, I did do some knitting, with help from Squib, who wanted his backside scratched.

However, I had grand plans of knitting when I was done with classes…I had grand plans of knitting right up to the toe so I could knit the toe over the next week. I was going to get inches of knitting done tonight, even with the kitty and puppy help; after an intense week of studying, the knitting would be a release. That was my week’s fantasy.

012

Even with Maeve’s snuggle time, I was going to get to that toe…

This fantasy saw me through the top fifty of the top sixty drugs, which was mostly like a review for me. It helped me survive the stress of reliving the quizzes I thoroughly disliked all semester long. These wonderful plans to knit got me through the next night of studying lots of definitions for the next exam that was more straightforward and had a review that made it feel more like a worksheet to begin with than an exam. It did turn into an exam, one I did quite well on.

013

Zeus either wants to take up knitting, or was relaxing while I threw together pasta I’d forgotten to make for dinner…

So, the studying is done. The books have been sold or stored. The note cards have been thoroughly ignored. Then duty called. I recently learned my niece was in a play tonight. I had finished my exam in time to make it to the play.I even got there early enough to let my nephew put my life in his hands behind the wheel of his mom’s car…perhaps I should have driven myself. We did make it safely. Sorry, David, I did not get pics of you driving. But he’s been starting cars since you could figure out the moving parts of a door and ignition.

017

I could have knit at the play, if only I’d planned ahead…(not my strong suit during finals week)…

The play was entertaining…these middle schoolers were decent at slapstick. Plus, I like plays. I got to watch my niece chase an “ugly duckling” behind his duck brother and sister using a broom. She looked like she enjoyed it(or maybe it was that the ugly duckling was one of her older brother’s friends).  Then I visited with my sister-in-law until she hit her bedtime and my stomach nearly began to rumble in protest at not having been fed in a couple of hours. I’d forgotten to take my baby carrots when I agreed to ride along with my nephew and sister-in-law to the play.

019I promise, I made progress…perhaps I’ll finally get to the toe for next week…

Once I got home and finished my computer stuff I’d neglected this week. I got about a half-inch of knitting completed.  My grand fantasy of getting to the toes has fallen distinctly shorter than the length of my foot.  I’m not even ready to try it on…and I’m not sure my toes are pretty enough today.  I could make further grand plans for next week, but I have a short trip to take and some sewing to work on.  Not to mention getting the transcripts rated and seeking out scholarships for further schooling funds.020

Another view of my progress…I should have take better measurements…alas, no kitten help at this point either…

But the fantasy will often help the day go by, and I did get some knitting done. I’ll take the small wins, and I wouldn’t trade being able to see my niece’s play for anything;-).

Back and Forth….

May 1, 2015

As I knit the foot of the sock, I’m working my way into sock-foot depression. It’s the week before finals, and life feels crazy. It will be okay. It just won’t feel okay until the final exams are completed. I’ll really breathe easier once I see the grades and learn they’re as good as I stress over.

In the meantime, It was a good day to kick off lots of studying for finals. I finished the lab final with a perfect grade in one class today. I got to leave early and enjoy a walk with Dear James and the puppies. Once we returned home, I snagged a bottle of water and headed out to my little’s softball game. It’s her first game, and due to class getting out really early, I arrived at the ballpark in the next town over on time. I got to watch her game with her grandma and see them do well once they warmed up.

003

The couch before I sat down to knit….not much room there…

Of course, I’m a proud Big. I snagged photos. Since my Little is nine, let’s just say I also got photos of her checking out what was going on behind the game instead of in the game…I will not post pictures of my Little here as 1) I have not asked grandma if I may and 2) I don’t feel children’s photos belong all over the internet. No worries, I still have cats and puppies. But I digress, allow me to explain what a Big and Little is.

005Tonight’s knitting snuggler-Zeus

I volunteer a few hours a month with Big Brothers, Big Sisters which is an excellent mentoring program for kids they feel have or are facing adversity. In other words, none of these kids have had it easy, and that gives each of them a soft spot in my heart. So, when I can perform the simple activity of watching a softball game (fastpitch, I believe), in the midst of my busy schedule as I go into the previously mentioned stress-filled finals week, I enjoy it. This weekend, I’m taking her to a play.

I did promise you some knitting, but the softball game was much more interesting. The girls were working on stealing bases. In fact, as I watched them start off to steal the base, just as often as they made a run for it, they had to return to the base they were on. I felt just a little bad for the pitcher who simply was not used to watching for base stealers in softball.  Some of the girls were better at hitting foul balls while they were up to bat, so I got to watch some of the girls take a few steps off base and scurry back to the same base. But once they got a good opportunity and were off, they were onto the next base before you knew it. It was a pretty impressive sight.  A couple of them even worked on their slides into home plate and lucky for them, the catcher was still a bit confused at all the activity.

016Measuring the progress as I inch along on this sock;-)

Now, there was a sock I’ve been working on, when I wasn’t watching the game or studying for a class that makes me want to scream. With the two colors, I’m knitting and purling often instead of knitting in the round.  I sit there, after clearing the cat and dog off of my knitting spot on the couch, and I began knitting. I knit the black, then I purl it back to the original side.  Then I switch needles,  and I knit the ivory color to the end of its needles, then I purl it back. As I finish a row or two of knits and purls, I combine the two sides as I have mentioned in previous posts.  Below are the results. Since I feel as if I am making little progress, I have even considered  measuring the foot of the sock so I can measure how far I’m getting.

010Tape Measure disappearing as I take the photo…

Don’t worry, there is still some cat participation after all. If you pull out the tape measure and let it dangle like a ribbon, the kittens will come.

014Reason the tape measure disappeared…aka Squib helping me measure a sock…