New Year…Short New Post

January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! I hope your 2016 is better than your 2015;-).

 

I had promised photos of some super-secret gifts. I have gifted them, but hours are long and many this week and time off is short and highly limited this week. The good news is, though I didn’t quite get the knitting colors I wanted, I got new sock yarn that I just adore(even if my feet may sweat a little in it) and my needles are no longer naked.

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Some of my stocking stuffers…now I have to go pattern searching in the New Year…The darkest sock yarn is getting cabled…

The quilt did not get finished, but I’m back to making progress. The fuzzy dice are done, and I used brass thumb tacks for the pips on the dice. I believe I got some decent pics of this one.

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David’s fuzzy dice. Though he’s concerned about the stability of the tacks, he did try to test them on Lizzie’s ear…

However, I do not have pictures of Lizzie’s happy feet, but her first word when she saw her socks was “Pretty.” I’m glad she enjoyed them. I hope she continues to enjoy her hand-knitted socks.

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My Christmas tree, with the mini Christmas tree, which hid the soda in which I used the box to wrap marimba mallets (tightly wound yarn balls with a stick-I could make a fortune if I had more patience), fuzzy dice and a spare can of soda to add weight.

And my baby brother(don’t tell anyone I still call him that;-)), enjoyed his “t-shirt” re-created as a worded painting. It’s not by any means a masterpiece, nor is it stenciled, but it is a gift hand-made, that he can enjoy every day and made from the heart. That for me, is more Christmas than I see when giving semi-personal gifts bought at the store.

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“My t-shirt,” says John (a.k.a. baby brother;-))…oops, there I go again.

Though I admit, I bought Jessica’s gifts, but she’s highly into baking. I bought her baking supplies and put them into tins. She conned dear James into leaving the pan with the seven-layer or magic bars in it because she could return it with cookies in it. (It wasn’t like I didn’t give her four tins that would work for this!). But kids have their own methods of craftiness.

To Peek Or Not to Peek…

December 25, 2015

…just might be the question of the night;-)

The Christmas gifts are mostly wrapped and done. I have one more to finish and wrap, but it involves paint and shellac(the spray kind), and it will be done in time. I may have to thank my brother and sister-in-law for moving our Christmas family gathering this year. I had less craziness involved in completing the gifts. I’m much happier with them when I can look at it and say, “This is closer to what I wanted.” I really wanted perfection, but that would require months, not weeks….

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The Christmas tree is getting full of gifts…there’s a couple more to go under it, and perhaps next week I can show you my creations.

Alas, they are getting done and mostly wrapped, and the gift pile beneath my tree is growing. I’m not sure how I’m going to fit some of these gifts beneath it until I get to deliver them. Then the directing may begin. Though it would be fun to see this gift I can’t fully explain opened both ways. I may just let the teen figure it out for himself. He’ll have his own ideas anyways.

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Scamp is convinced these are her toys…

And the nieces are set up to be opened how they wish. Now, if I could just find the treats meant to go with them. I have the candy canes, but I got some other items and am not sure where I put them…I may have another search on my hands. In the meantime, this is a knitting blog…

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Scamp likes to play with the ribbon before she peeks…

But my needles are all naked right now, and I want to cast on and start a new black (shh…don’t tell dear James) sock that fits better, and I might still tonight. But then I have to get some knitting graph paper and design an arm sock set for a friend of a friend. This could get interesting. I was impressed my knitting journeys took me to fair isle. I didn’t expect them to take me to custom arm sock design. This could get interesting. Now to figure out which journal I need. I promise, you will hear about whether I like it or not. I picked out this one:  http://www.fringesupplyco.com/product/knitters-graph-paper-journal

I hope I didn’t ruin a Christmas gift, but I suspect he bought me yarn and he said something was a set and I could get the rest of it after Christmas…it’s curious, because he tells me it’s not needles. I know where it is, I could check the packages. It’s tempting, but I won’t. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being naughty, I just learned many years ago that I don’t like ruining the surprise.

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Scamp and Squib Inspecting the gifts, and their box…

When I was ten, (please forgive me if I’ve told this story before), my little brother woke me quietly at 2AM. We snuck down the stairs, and peeked at the Christmas gifts, which were only covered with a blanket. My brother woke me to help because I had a knack for putting things back exactly the way they were. So, we peeked, and I found mine and looked. It was fun, and made a great story about what I did on Christmas vacation. And I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for that meddling teacher, Mr. Sauve(Saw-vey, not shampoo). He kept our essays, and returned them to our parents at conferences in February.

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Squib is pro-peeking…

I was mad at him for a month. We didn’t get into too much trouble, but our cover was blown, because it made a better story than I watched tv, fought with my brothers and waited for school to start back up where the rules were consistent and we frequently busy, except when I finished my classwork before everyone else, except for writing. I would have written all day if they’d let me. Alas, the stocking soon took over for my favorite tradition, and I remember having to “act surprised” at my gifts, though I already knew what they were. After that, I decided just to wait and see what the gifts were. That way, I wouldn’t get anymore essays returned to my parents that I didn’t ever want them to see or know about. (Though it does make for a fun story now. At least I think so).

 

My Needles Feel Naked…

December 11, 2015

….really, really naked. Like, considering the black yarn again naked.

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Or, why I don’t have socks on my needles…I could go into references from Sherman and Peabody when I was growing up. I don’t wish to bore you if they’re not your thing. If you have no idea who they are, I hope you can find them on Youtube.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m not knitting. It’s simply that my sock needles feel lonely and unloved. I still have yarn, and thread, on my needles. the needles are simply much bigger or much smaller these days…and sometimes, I only need one.

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Briannag, taking my place on the couch after a short break from sewing…

It’s Christmas season here, and I’m hoping to get these gifts done by Christmas. One of them is done, and I showed them to you last week. I’ve also had the delight of working on other projects…. However, I can only share a few of them with you, and it must be done carefully. Though these will all be given out by Christmas. Somebody, please remind me to take my camera. It’s going to matter.

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Squib and Putzer helping me sew the latest project…

Where to start…I told you about the stranded color work…it’s coming along, but my aunt offered me a cheat which I traded her the cotton yarn I found in order to accomplish. I may be gifting some of the other stuff to my sister-in-law so she can crochet a scarf or something else with it. It may be easier to color block in crochet….Of course, I may be too ambitious for my own good. I really never thought I’d utter those words, let’s just forget I said that, okay;-).

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I can’t tell you what it is or who it’s for yet…but it’s coming along(this is the stranded side).

So, next on my ambitious projects: a teddy bear. I can’t tell you who will receive the bear. I can’t tell you why. I can simply tell you I think she needs it and she loves mint green. Not to mention we’re Irish (with some German and likely some Greek thrown in…along with a few other nationalities…) But if you noticed the tiny shamrocks, we’re Irish.

I believe I named him Fitzgerald William…(it could have been William Fitzgerald…it’s been a couple of years).

It’s actually coming along better than I expected. Perhaps it’s simply determination and focus. Perhaps it’s that I’ve sewn stuffed creatures before that were tougher, by hand. I didn’t even mean for this one to be sewn by hand. I just started it at work, and took it to band concert (my oldest nephew and youngest niece are now in band). It kinda stuck, and it came together pretty quick. I have ears and stuffing and buttons and details. Each should take no more than a day.

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Scamp, helping me with my latest sewing project…(more, after I gift it, promise.)

The ambitious part, you say? I have no instructions. They have been misplaced. I received the pattern second hand and luckily have been able to figure it out on my own, mostly, I think, and I hope. I’m sewing the ears so I can figure out their placement as well. Then again, I’m almost fearless about knitting. Why should I let a wonky ear stop me? It’ll give the bear character and more for me to blog about-next week. Now I’m going to take a deep breath and show you a late fall/almost winter surprise in Michigan.

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December, 2013-not too much, but some snow on the ground…

Most of our winters have snow on the ground by now. We don’t always get snow days by now, but let me show you a first weekend of December a couple of years ago…(and puppies, of course).

Now, we have green grass and mild temperatures. The weather is mild enough that I looked out my back window and saw green leaves in my backyard, in December. I had to investigate and found the cabbage I’d neglected for the past month and a half was still growing. However, we started having hard frosts at night. I had to pull it, no matter what size it seemed. I checked it, and I thought I had heads-nearly three inches I guessed. I pulled the cabbage, roots and all, and felt a smidgen of guilt for it as I did. Then I had an event(or perhaps needed sleep) and left Dear James to harvest the actual heads. He gave me the partially deflating news that I had no heads just leaves working at being heads.

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My cabbage baby, harvested in December(rare in Michigan, we usually put our gardens to bed in late October/early November).

I still found a soup to make with it. I even consulted dear James and we somehow decided on a Weight Watchers recipe. It’s pretty good, though I’m thinking of adding a bit of hot sauce and perhaps some smoked ham hocks…If treated like greens, they’d be pretty good. In the meantime, I found one tiny, almost 2” red cabbage head that I couldn’t bear to put in the soup yet. I’ll let dear James add it to his chili(everything goes into the chili). I have to show it to him first;-). With that note, yes, I do hope for snow on Christmas eve(just enough for Santa to pull his sleigh), and twice, perhaps in January, when I don’t have work or class. Until then, that s-word is banned from my tables…and my vocabulary, even if I do think snowmen are cute.

Traditions, Old and New…

November 27, 2015

 

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Situation normal…Mom, I’m keeping the bag…no you can’t have the contents.

This morning was Thanksgiving and I worked a bunch of extra and unexpected hours tossing cards at people(literally for this game). Then I came home to get the requisite five hours of sleep so that I might travel to visit Dear James’ family for gathering and food gluttony.

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Just when I thought I might get to knit without furry help…It never lasts…excuse the terrible photo…

I enjoyed the day and trying a new wine…perhaps I’ll aim to try a new wine every Thanksgiving, and perhaps I’ll share one of my aged Chianti’s with them each year. We’ll see how that tradition develops. I’ll discuss stocking topics closer to Christmas. You’re welcome, it does happen to be my favorite tradition. For now, I have some simpler traditions and potential new ones to discuss. My oldest niece and I play the ‘I love you more,’ game. I thought I’d won it this past year when I told her that I loved her enough to share my ice cream with her. She’ll be 14 in two weeks. You can imagine how long she remembers the ice cream at that birthday party.

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Look, look! Do you see what I see?

However, as I’m knitting these socks for my younger niece, I’m realizing we’ve yet to create our own catch-line tradition. Lizzie’s specialty is funny faces, and making people laugh. But as I knit, even tired, on little sleep(and only a small mistake I chose to ignore). I had knit these socks these socks right “Down to the toes.”

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Scamp, sleeping where the knitting bag should be. She’s making her own traditions…

This line is going to be included with the gift of the socks, because every girl(every child, even,) deserves to know they are loved, right down to their toes. And what better way to accomplish that, but with a pair of warm socks that are knit…

Right Down To The Toes. 

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This week, I’ve been nearly as exhausted as last week. I still got knitting done, and I made a 2+ hour drive to take my Aunt Maryal to visit my Aunt Jane. It was a perfect day to wake early and drive to get some heart-warming dinner at Bob Evans. We had a good visit and got to chat and catch up. Since I don’t spend many day-time hours awake, I enjoyed the evening visit.

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Squib, helping me knit…

Now, about the knitting…I did get some done, and with fewer errors than last week, thankfully. I was much more careful about knitting when tired. I can work on the quilt or the jeans when tired. I finally got around to starting to update my jeans in the hopes of keeping them around longer…and a floral patch deserves some embroidery, right? Only, I’m not a huge fan of embroidery. I suspect crochet vines and flowers would be faster, but I do not know how to crochet. Instead, I’m embroidering. I will simply make some time for it each night, and listen to Dear James pout that his fix wasn’t good enough. I suppose I should tell him I’ve been planning this embroidery the whole time.

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Now, I just have to match some of my shirts;-). Or embroider some shirts to match. This may take some time. I’m not starting an embroidery blog, however. I still have cooking and quilting to focus on. In the meantime, as I do find time for knitting, I ponder the next color I will choose as soon as I begin searching out my next skeins of yarn. I have a favorite shirt in gray and purple paisley on black. I do enjoy this shirt and I thought it would be nice to have more socks that match my shirts. I may be buying some lavender and grey heather style socks soon. I like these colors and I think they’d be nice to knit up. I also think they’d match another favorite sweater.

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Putzer, demanding his massage as I knit…

I’m knitting Lizzie’s socks as I ponder the colors of the next pair, and as I reach the 7” point, it occurs to me that if I’d followed directions, I’d be halfway done with this sock. Honestly, though, they are going together quite well…and I need to determine which pattern to knit these new socks in. These are the thoughts that go through my mind, when I’m not cursing the pattern or ripping out stitches.

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Current Progress on this sock…(almost half-way done with this one…)

It has been a week for ripping out stitches(one of the reasons for the smaller amount of errors). If I catch the errors in that row, I frog (rip-it, rip-it, rip-it…yes, knitters are often punny), back to the errors and re-knit. If I do not catch the errors in that row, there is no true idea of how many rows I screwed up, and I call them angel kisses. Who doesn’t like angel kisses?

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Maeve, snuggling while I knit…

In the midst of frogging, and a relatively busy social calendar, I decided I also need another project on the needles. There are two reasons for this. I wish to have another Christmas gift knit by Christmas, and I decided it would be great to have something relatively easy or mindless on the needles that only requires me to knit and purl. So, I’m breaking the rules, as my nephew is sixteen and has just begun driving. He didn’t want me to knit him anything. However, a car evens the playing field, with some minor issues…

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My new yarn…nothing drool worthy, but still better than Red Heart…(see what I mean about mindless;-)? Leave it to me…)

…I keep a spare set in a bag, just in case. I simply forget where I store it often.

Last week, or the week before, I’d entirely lost my marbles. This week, it seems I was on the track to finding them, once I opted out of needing them. I looked at the training I was going through, which required a serious time commitment as well as invading on important plans I had in place for months. I still went through with the plans, trying to schedule around them, but to little avail. In the end, I decided my best friend’s birthday and my sanity(in part) were more important.

   008Briannag, taking over mama’s knitting spot, reminding me she looks just like the socks I’m knitting…

I drove the hour and a half from work after my tenth day of reporting for training, to Grand Rapids, MI to visit my best friend and deliver her a birthday gift.  I’ve had to only hint at this gift on the off-chance she read this blog. Now I can finally tell you what it is: socks!

It sounds unexciting, unless you’ve worn hand knit socks. In addition, I did not knit her a pair of socks, as it takes long enough for me to knit each pair I get to wear. Someday, I will move into the world of knitting for others. Just not this year. Alas, I bought her a sock loom and took my little into the little world of wonder that is my local yarn store and we picked out some bright pink sock yarn. Photos shown below.

002Andrea with her sock loom and yarn (the good stuff).

Taking my little into the yarn store was an education in itself. She wanted to touch everything. I may have a future knitter on my hands. Yeah! The sock loom may be another education in itself. I’ve tried to show her how to knit with dpns, and she just doesn’t get it. I also considered showing her circulars, but she just doesn’t get the basic knit stitch. It works easier on a loom with a hook for her. Now she’s getting used to a smaller scale yarn.

005See that face, Andrea has wanted a sock loom forever…

I’m sure she’ll make some beautiful socks. I can’t wait to see how they turn out, either. In the meantime, I’ve been working on my second sock for the black-hearted socks. The heel is turned(and yes, I was mostly alone when I knit it), and I am now attempting to recall how I joined the two colors in the previous sock I knit. I’d better do some checking.

010Current progress on the sock, and proof I still have a couple of my marbles…some days;-).

This next week will be a busy one with a semi-private birthday party for my little, Mariah and myself, to which my nieces are invited. I will also have my nieces overnight. Later in the week I will be helping a friend by watching her four kids while she attends a daytime meeting. But this doesn’t begin to cover the fun I’ll have working on the fairy garden with my dad and sister-in-law and likely, my nieces, the following week. However, as I was gathering supplies for the fairy garden we’ll be creating, I found a bag of marbles I could have used last week! At least, I’ve found my marbles for the time being.