Saturday, April 15, 2017

Those Irish


They are a sturdy, hardy lot. 

Because they have persevered through all of the trials and tribulations that they have been exposed to by climate, the Vikings, the British and it seems like everyone else through the centuries, even by each other?

Sure.

But also because they can knit good old Irish wool yarn, this Aran yarn, specifically. I bought it last fall when I was in Ireland because I loved the color, but I've just finished knitting a hat in it, and boyoboy, is it tough stuff. Made for knitting clothing for the fishermen going out on the homicidal ocean in cold, windy weather to fish. It's the kind of coarse, rustic yarn that people are remembering when they say they can't wear wool; "It's too scratchy."


This yarn is so tough that it broke my needles!




The cord broke off of the needle itself, not from the weight of the yarn; it's quite light. Just from the struggle of wrestling it around the needles and pulling the yarn through the loops.

Not a problem in the end---I just transferred it to double points and continued. Because I'm sturdy and hardy too!  Just don't make me go to the snowy north in the winter, ok?

I'm so sturdy and hardy that when I weighed the hat (2.3 oz.) and the yarn I have left (2.7 oz.) I didn't even whimper a bit when I realized I have enough for another hat.

Oh, yay.



Saturday, March 25, 2017

Hope Springs Eternal


at least among gardeners in the spring (hahaha). THIS will be the year I have the flowers/vegetables/fruits I dream of, say all of us.

And so I must be an optimist. After years of drought, a broken ankle (no gardening), a broken wrist (no gardening), last year I tried again. No drought, no broken bones, but, OMG---deer!!! They ate everything, even rose bushes and they have thorns on them. Ouch! Wouldn't you think?

But this year I'm off again, to the nursery. I bought flowering perennials and I just put them in the ground. Our last freeze date is April 15th, so I'm early, but I figure that perennials are tough. Persist, perennials!!! (please don't die)



I had everything I needed, including my gawjus garden boots. It's beautiful out and it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so perfect timing.

I even planted purple coneflowers!



And that is proof of my optimism; a gardening friend, who is a way better gardener than I am, and who worked at a really good nursery, told me that, "If you can't grow coneflowers, we take away your trowel." Well, I have had coneflower plant after coneflower plant die on me, year after year. I can't find my trowel from last year, so maybe someone DID take it away. Hah! I bought another even BETTER one and I love it.


Best trowel ever!  Soil Scoop by Garden Works, Bellevue, WA

It is really curved well, has notches on the sides that make digging really easy, and I can scarify the root systems well with it. (Scarify is a word my daughter taught me, meaning that you sort of pull the roots apart so they don't continue to grow in the shape of the original container. I think she was watching a lot of Martha Stewart at the time she learned this.) Maybe you already knew the word. I did not.

So now I wait and watch. Last year I briefly tried netting until I was warned that the netting could trap birds in it. It also allowed vining weeds to twine up and through the netting and into the rose plants. I tried helium balloons. I tried cotton wadding that was soaked with smelly stuff and then attached with bread ties to the plants. 

And the deer ate my whole garden.

But THIS year? THIS year? As doG is my witness, if those deer show up, I'll, I'll, I'll, well...I don't know what I'll do.  

Cry? 


Thursday, March 9, 2017

So I Finished



these $%^& socks. 

I don't usually swear at projects AFTER I've finished them; I usually swear at a project during the process when things aren't going well.  But these have taken almost a year to finish.

from my Ravelry project page


In my defense:

                             a.  knitting is not a job

                             b. I made four blankets in the meantime. And a scarf, I think.


So here they are, made from Gale's Art, Graffiti and Asphalt colorway:




See?  Skinny needles.


I made these on size 1 needles, and I really do not like knitting on size 1's.  The yarn is so fine, meaning thin, that my usual size 2's made a very loose fabric. I do love the colors in this yarn though.

FINALLY!  Finished.  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Oh, My.


These are photos from a spec-built house (click link for the video) in LA that is currently on the market for a quarter of a billion dollars.  A quarter of a BILLION, y'all. WTH!!!






The $200,000.00 candy wall, because?




From the article linked to above:  

At 38,000 square feet, the home spans four levels, has 12 bedrooms, 21 baths, seven staffers, three gourmet kitchens, five bars, two commercial elevators, a massage studio/wellness spa, a fitness center and a James Bond-themed, 40 seat Dolby Theatre. The main outdoor deck features an 85-foot Italian glass infinity pool, a swim-up bar and a pair of mini Sea-Doos and a small catamaran.  At the flip of a switch, a massive outdoor hydraulic theater-sized screen emerges, the aim of which, according to Makowsky, is to bring the Hollywood Bowl to Bell Air.

But wait!!!  There's more!!! (of course there is.)

Below the infinity pool is a sprawling auto gallery with more than $30 million in cars including a baby Formula 1 race car that goes from zero to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds (Not in LA it doesn't). There are Lamborghinis, Ferraris, Bentleys and at least a half dozen motorcycles---including a "first of firsts" electric Sora superbike.

Among the 130 art installations are chrome sculptures of skateboards and guns, an interactive digital work that stars Disney's Seven Dwarfs and a champagne pinball machine. Next to the bowling alley is a massive $200,000 candy wall, which evokes Willy Wonka, the Golden Ticket and the hope that --- just maybe --- Gene Wilder isn't really gone.  (Oh, c'mon) AND:

The helicopter from the '80s TV show Airwolf sits parked on a rooftop helipad (it's a "sculpture," says Makowsky, who notes that the helicopter is inoperable.) 


So yes, it's OVER THE TOP, geeze Louise. (But I do love the views and the pool. I've always said that I would sell my soul to have my own pool, but so far, there have been no takers.)

Now this is a spec house which makes the whole thing a bit of a risk, but the builder says that he thinks there are about 3,000 potential buyers. I get that if you are really, really, really wealthy, you are exempt from paying taxes (seems fair, right?), but what I don't get is that I didn't know it was legal to sell or buy People, Real Human Beings. But I guess it must be legal because the house comes with seven staffers, presumably live humans.

Just how does that work???

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Who Says


that you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Yesterday, I learned this new cast on:





It took me several tries, and when I finally got it, I was still as clumsy as I was the first time. It involves Magic Loop techniques, which I also had to learn a little of, but I did it, and now I have this:




which is the beginning of a pinwheel blanket using up at least some of my sock yarn leftovers.


Ah, yes.  Peterson's book.  We had a Cooper's hawk at our pond yesterday.
Don't eat our fish!!!



Baxter promises not to touch any of this yarn or my blanket or my knitting needles so that I can leave this project out and pick it up for a few stitches or rounds when I feel like it. No completion date on the horizon.  

This old dog rocks the circular cast on!

Friday, February 3, 2017

Four Blankets Finished


This is my fourth blanket, and the last blanket for a long time.  Phew... I need smaller projects now.


It is Lion Brand's Sutter's Mill Throw, made from Cascade Yarn's Lana Grande and it is MINE!  The last three blankets have been gifts, and actually, I guess I can consider this to be a gift as well, a gift for MEEEE.

It is soft and warm and just needs to be blocked. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Speaking of Decorating


I suppose someone, somewhere, was. 

This is our latest project:


Doorway to dining room

Doorway to living room



  

Attractive, right?


You, too, could have this trendy decor with just a few pieces of lattice from your local big box home improvement store and a saw.

We have a cat who has decided that the carpet in the dining room is a good place for, uh, solid waste. We put a litter box in there to encourage him to use that, but for solids, there's no place like the rug apparently.The rug is currently off being cleaned and this barrier keeps him out of the dining room. Where I didn't want a litter box anyway. He is supposed to use the one in the laundry room or the one in the basement, and now he is. The question is: will he continue using those once the rug is back and the barriers are down.

Cross your fingers for us, please???  


Thursday, January 19, 2017

Apple, Decisions and News


I would say that I have spent too much time lately at the Apple Store, located conveniently only eight miles from my home, except that I love the Apple Store and the geniuses who work there. And I think that there is something in the air, as there must be in yarn shops, that makes me w.a.n.t to buy something. That's easier to do at a yarn shop; yarn is way less expensive than any iThing. Even if I buy a lot of yarn. 

However, I needed a new computer. While my old one isn't completely dead, it's been coughing up blood more and more frequently. It freezes; it shuts down, it takes forever to boot up. I went to Apple and looked at computers and then asked the saleswoman if I couldn't replace my laptop with the new iPad. We compared both products and I bought the largest screen iPad with a Logitech case/keypad.The combination is genius and I loved it. Really, really loved it. But over two days I realized that it is still an iPad, not a MacBook. I could not format it so that it was easy to use for what I needed. I had 14 days to return it so I thought and thought and thought.

Do I have trouble making decisions?  Well, yes and no. 

I did finally manage to make a decision and two days after I bought the iPad and genius Logitech case/keyboard, I returned it and bought a laptop. Not as exciting and shiny but it works the way I want it to and it is WAY faster than the old laptop. 

This is the charging cord for the old computer:



It has been repaired with electrical tape, repaired again, shrink wrapped with electrical tape and this is always the eventual result. I had priced a new one and it was in the vicinity of $80. I knew that if I bought a replacement the computer would die the next day. I'm glad I resisted.

Today I go to the store again to have them wipe the old laptop and then I'm done, I think. I hope. My husband seems to think that my new laptop is the last one I'll ever buy---'cause I'm so old, you know.

I hope it lasts years, and I hope I outlast it.

I have only one complaint: when I got the new laptop running, and I checked out the sites I usually read, THE NEWS WAS STILL THE SAME. I expected more from a new computer.

Tomorrow I get to go to the swearing in of my Russian friend when she becomes a US citizen. THAT is good news.

Congratulations, Marina!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

My Conscience is Finally Clear


A few years ago, maybe five, maybe more, a friend who is not a knitter gave me some beautiful yarn she bought in Colorado? New Mexico? I don't remember now. Occasionally she or the friend she was shopping with would ask me what I had made from it.

Uh, nothing.

The problem is that there were no tags on the yarn, so I didn't know how much was in the huge hank she brought me. And I don't know what the fiber is. Also, since I am an average knitter, not a genius knitter like friends Marina (from Russia) and Anna (from Ukraine) who don't need no stin, ahem, who don't need patterns (showoffs!), I do need patterns. And I have to slavishly follow them.  I've seen both A and M just decide, hmmmm....I think I'll add some lace/cables/shaping to this sweater/scarf/jacket I'm making. La la la....

And they just DO it. Amazing. But that is not me.

So I would have had to know the amount of yarn in the hank in order to match it to a pattern and I did undo the hank and wind it into smaller hanks and then into balls and then out of balls to try and measure the yarn.  I ended up with a horrible tangle, which knitter Sally untangled for me. And a thought came to me:  instead of knitting one LARGE thing which I may or may not have enough yarn for, I could knit a couple of smaller things. And that's what I've done. I wound the untangled yarn into one HUGE, basketball-sized ball, and have knitted---so far---two cowls. There is probably enough yarn left to make a scarf.



They look a bit lumpy, but that's the yarn and they don't look like that on a person. I'm going to give them to the friend who gave the yarn to me, for her and her friend to have. As a knitter, I have a million, zillion scarves and cowls, and except for the past couple of days, usually have little chance to wear them. We didn't get but a quarter inch of snow yesterday, but we did get ice and it's cold outside. To us Southerners. (It was 11 degrees outside this morning, so stop laughing. That counts as cold anywhere.)

So, the yarn that has been glaring at me reproachfully from my yarn closet, clearly shouting: knit me! you.......  no longer has reason to complain. 

And to save my conscience the nagging, the next time I am given a gift of yarn, I will figure out what to make from it, well, sooner than in five years time.  

Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Finished Hat


Finished in plenty of time.  The Yarn Chase Hat.  Tah Dah.







This pattern requires lots of what I define as "fiddly bits," (def: stuff I don't like to do) and I won't make another....probably.

BUT, it is not going to fit any of my grandchildren.  I'm pretty sure it's way too big.

Did I make a gauge swatch? Well of course not. Stop asking! I once made gauge swatches for a sweater, and the swatches LIED and I had to frog the sweater. I have not bothered with gauge swatches since then. 

But actually, I don't think the problem is with the gauge; I think it's with the size I chose to make. This was my second attempt at making the hat because the first one was HUGE, and so I consulted head circumference charts on the internet and then chose the size based on the typical head size of a 14-year old. I think the charts were wrong.

I'll find out on Christmas morning. Just the thing: give a child a gift she can't use.  

Yay Gran!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

What Have I Been Doing? you might ask. Or not.



But I'll tell you anyway.  

I have been busy!  Knitting away, cooking, having things done to the kitchen and generally jumping from project to project, with no organization in play.  

That's me.  OCD or something.

But here is my current project, which needs to be finished by Christmas, and since I just finished the chart this morning, I know I'll make it.

It will look like this


when I finish (with a turquoise pom pom on top) but as the Powers that Be are my witness, I will NEVER do intarsia or stranding again.  NEVER!!!

Because this is what is involved:


a tangle of yarns that keeps getting more tangly and annoying and time-consuming to untangle.  

So there, knitting.


To go back in time, I made this gorgeous pie for Thanksgiving:


It is from this Williams Sonoma recipe, and although I am not normally a fan of pumpkin pie, this tasted pretty good to me, and I overheard another guest tell the hostess that it was the best pumpkin pie she had ever had. (There is brandy in it, so there's that.) I just happened to have the leaf punches, from WS of course, so I could copy the top perfectly. And I've just realized that this is the photo from WS, and I wonder what happened to the photo of mine. hmmmm....  Anyway, mine looked like this.  


Another project:

I've been cooking in the dark since we moved in here 20+ years ago, and just the day before Daylight Savings Time went away, I had can lights installed.  Let there be light! said I. And now there is!  Doesn't mean I like cooking any better, but when I do cook, I can see what I'm doing.  As Martha says, It's a good thing.

But we lived with multiple holes in the ceiling until I finally found a painter willing to repair them and paint the ceiling. It was surprisingly difficult to find one and someone told me that lots of people have painting done before they entertain for Thanksgiving.  Really??? That's about the last thing I would think about if I were having a mob over for dinner, but ok. Anyway, I wasn't having anyone over; we went to our friend's home. So no hurry, but now the ceiling no longer looks like this:


Blurry photo......  I think there were about five holes in all, but they are all gone.


Since the weather has suddenly turned knitted-things cold, I can wear my hand knit socks, and I do!  In the house I wear them with my Birks, easy-on, easy-off.


Classy with a K, right?  (And no, H and S, I do NOT go out in public like this.)


BONUS!  I realized that I promised more photos from my trip in the fall, but instead I'll just post this one.  One of my favorites: 


A very relaxed Archbishop.  I think he is in the York Minster.  

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Huh?



I am working on the Sutter's Mill Throw even though I am supposed to be knitting a Christmas gift. When I have a deadline, even a self-imposed one, the You Are Not the Boss of Me part of my brain interrupts, and off I go in a different direction. Makes no sense since this means that my brain is arguing with itself, and I can't figure out how to bring in a third part of my brain to argue logic with the other two parts.

This is an EASY project, with super bulky yarn (Cascade Lana Grande, color 6024) and it's just too tempting to pick up and work on mindlessly. Only one row of each 18 in the pattern repeat is different so no reading or charting is required.


Isn't it bee-yu-ti-ful???!!!



And it is so soft. This is the same yarn that I used for THREE Umaro throws, and I hope the part of my brain that thought that making THREE of anything was a good idea keeps quiet. What WAS I thinking? The third one is as beautiful as the first two, but knitting it got really old really fast.

I will go back to the Christmas gift....I will go back to the Christmas gift....

probably not today, though.

Friday, November 18, 2016

This is How I

roll cook:

I need a sous-chef!




I made this:  Cottage Pie


The recipe serves 10, so I made two casseroles from it, one with cheese on top and one without for a friend who just had surgery and is lactose intolerant.

It takes FOREVER for me to get everything chopped and because the recipe is British, it also required my converting kilograms to ounces/pounds, milliliters to ounces, and centigrade to fahrenheit and BONUS, I have no idea what this means:

..heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7




There is too much cheese on top. It looks awful but it will taste great (I've made it before) and thank goodness for dishwashers.

But I still could use a sous-chef.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Because I Have a Sort of Odd Sense of Humor...



And for us knitters:



A knitted tin foil hat.


Dedicated to one of my daughters someone who thinks there really are space aliens among us.  

You are welcome, someone.


Monday, October 24, 2016

Two Projects Finished in Four Days!



Well, finished as in I had been working on them for months and just coincidentally finished them within four days. 


First off, Vogue Knit's Purple and Pink Extra Long Cowl:



I THOUGHT that I had joined it in the round with no twists.  hahahaha... When I tried to pin it out to block it, I couldn't even figure out how many twists were in it. When I wrap it around my neck a couple of times it won't matter that I messed it up added a design feature of my own.  




AND, I finished my THIRD Umaro.  Whew....


This one seemed to take forever, but I think it's because it was my third---and last---for now. And thank goodness for fellow knitters. Somehow I ran out of just enough yarn, about two yards, to cast off. Another knitter was knitting a different blanket with the same yarn and gave me the two yards to finish it. 

Yay Knitters!


Friday, October 7, 2016

My Poor Brooklyn Tweed Yarn


I've just frogged my Brooklyn Tweed Shelter yarn, AGAIN. I had swatched and swatched and swatched this yarn in order to get the right gauge for a sweater I wanted to knit, but the swatches all lied and I had to rip out the first incarnation of the sweater. I changed needle size, got a drape I liked in the yarn, but still didn't like the way the sweater was working out. So I've frogged the whole thing, including the twisted rib beginning of the sweater and sleeves. I  thought I might soak the hank because the yarn is all squiggly, and I still might, but I'm putting it all in a time-out and maybe everything will behave better next time.



Now, on to Ireland and the UK. I first wandered around England, Scotland and Wales with my husband, and then joined my sister in Ireland.  So---photos!

Sweaters for sale were everywhere, and ON sale too, which seems odd timing considering winter should be on its way. I saw this neck border on several sweaters and loved it, so I investigated.  It is knit separately from the sweater and then attached to the neckline.  I may try it out someday.




This is a bike outside of this cute little shop in Derry. All the knitted goods inside were for children younger than my grandchildren, who live in hot Texas anyway, so I didn't buy anything here but it was fun to look at all the gorgeous knitting. Some of Edel MacBride's patterns are available on Ravelry.



Photos in no particular order:

Who says it's always raining in the UK and Ireland???




The view of the back of Kilkenny Castle:



A portion of the wall around the city of Derry/Londonderry. 




Just some of the oddly shaped rock formations at the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland.




A hurdy-gurdy player in Galway.  I had never seen one before and had to google it to find out what it is:


An old school at the entrance area to the Giant's Causeway:




Complete with the iconic red phone booth. We saw one of these in London painted black and with a sign indicating that it is now a source for WIFI. 

A pretty street---I don't remember where it is and the new iPhoto program no longer identifies location for photos. Either that or I have some setting wrong.



Another street.....somewhere.




Sheep wandering wherever they want:



A quaint view from a hotel window near Dublin.  hahaha.  Wind turbines are everywhere, and I imagine that with all the windy days they have, these are a good source of electricity.




More to come.