Thursday, December 29, 2011

Not a creature was stirring....

I have not forgotten about blogging - I have just been in full holiday melt down. It's hard work being full of Christmas cheer. My cat Izzi agrees with me and curled up under the Christmas throw I "won" in the gift exchange we did at my parents house this year.

We stopped doing a formal gift exchange and started doing an anonymous exchange where people bring wrapped gifts that can go to anyone and they get wrapped up and placed in a pile. We set the timer for 20 minutes and pass around three dice and shake once in the hopes of getting doubles. Every time we get doubles we get to take a present of our choice from the pile. (No unwrapping though!) When the pile is gone you get to steal the presents from other people until the timer rings. This is always interesting since there is always one gift that gets fought over rather fiercely and since nobody (except the giver) knows what is in it - it's fun to see what everyone fought over. Once the 20 minutes is up we go around in a circle and unwrap the gifts and then lay them out in front of us. When all the gifts are unwrapped, we play the dice part again for 10 minutes - and you get to take the gifts you really want. (And hope the gifts you don't want get grabbed by someone else.) The rule is you don't have to take anything - so that is pretty nice since there is some pretty yucky stuff people try and get rid of sometimes.

Gift certificates are fought over pretty hard. And then there are gifts like the throw above. I grabbed it mostly because I knew "my girls" would love it. My hubby was appalled that I took it - because it's pretty fugly and because we have blankets coming out of our bums. I take satisfaction in the cat curling up in it all cute like though. Vindicated in bringing yet another blanket home.

I hope everyone had a happy holiday season! I am hoping to blog more regularly again now that much of the holiday shenanigans have slowed down.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Epic Fail (ok not Epic, but....)

One of the things that my hubby loves is fingerless gloves. Not the kind that end at the knuckles - the kind that have individual fingers that stop a portion of the way up each finger. In all my brilliance - I thought I could secretly knit him up a pair on my lunch hours and present them to him on Christmas. Never mind the fact that I had never done this before, and that other people had noted that the math was a bit off in the pattern, or that I wasn't using the yarn the pattern called for. Gauge swatch?!?! What is that?

So I plunged in (as is my tendency) and spent my lunch hours for several weeks knitting away on these. It wasn't until last week that I realized these are mitts for a giant Sasquatch - not for my husband. I took them home and asked my husband if they looked to big (ruining the "surprise") and he said "Uh.... YEAH." Well crap.

After I got them home I noticed that a row had also got twisted somewhere along the way. This happened every time I have to knit back. I twist my stitches. Garg.

Weeks of secret squirrel knitting and good intentions go nowhere without a little good sense. Lesson learned. (At least until I start my next project....

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Standing Ovation for Love!

I finished my Rasta Shawl! I am so happy with it! It's my first lace pattern shawl and it was done with the yarn I HEART Rasta by Malabrigo. This pattern, which I foresee using over and over, is a pay pattern on Ravelry called Ovate by Tori Gurbisz. Clever pattern and wonderful use of the yarn. I have had this in my stash since the Hubby gave it to me on Valentines day this year. I had talked pretty non-stop about how much I love this yarn, and my Hubby brought me home these two skeins - and two others in a green colorway - for Valentines day. YAY! Sadly I couldn't find a pattern worth spending my Rasta on.

 Then I came across several Ovate shawls. They were all made with one skein, but when I looked at the pattern details I saw that a 2 skein version was coming out soon! So I paid my $5.50 and got the pattern. Soon the 2 skein pattern arrived as well and I ran out and bought all the needles and materials I needed.

The color of the yarn is really true Black - and it shows every single fleck of dust and dog hair it comes into contact with - but it's squishy and warm and wonderful. I love where it sits on my back. Love the cuteness of the heart in the center of my back. The shawl rests far enough down on my arms to keep me warm but not so far I can't work in it.

The needles were massive - Size 19's! I spent most of my birthday gift certificate from the yarn shop on those needles and the giant crochet hook (P) I needed. Now here is the thing I do not like about the end product. The closure is a 5 chain crochet chain with two toggles. I thought it was really clever until I made it and realized it looks pretty Kindergarten on me. (Either my execution sucks or it looks cute on flat chested size 4 girls. Or maybe both of those things.) Anyway - I find myself really not happy with how the closure looks - and I think I will be investigating shawl pins to see if I can find something that suits my body shape/size better.

I love the versatility of the shawl. I can wear it like a normal shawl with it open and the ends hanging in the front, or.....

I can wrap the ends and clip them together behind my back and were this like a shrug! Very versatile!

I used just 1.67 Skeins of the Rasta - so about 150 yards. I am pleased with the length I got on this pattern and am overall very pleased with the results.

When I make this again: 
I will go through the pattern and highlight all the YO twice so I can keep better track of those.
I will also remember to have uTube up so I can watch videos on the techniques I hadn't used until I made this. I don't do much in the lace world, so there was some stuff I ran into on this pattern that I had never done before. 

Very happy. Two thumbs up!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Wonder Twin Powers - ACTIVATE

I am trying to slowly work into a crochet-capable existence. I am improving and I can mimic uTube videos, but I cannot read the language yet. I decided recently to use up some of my scrap from my Treadmill afghan and knit up a couple headbands.

I am pretty pleased with the results! The first one is in Purple and the second is a pretty Teal. They are both in Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Bulky and I used just over a half skein on each of these.

I had the thought that I could give these as Christmas gifts, but then I thought....No. Too scratchy for your average Joe. So, alas, I will have to keep them all to my greedy self! (yay!)

I am fairly sure these are single crochet. I used an (h) size hook and chained 13 for my foundation. Then I just hooked and hooked until it went around my head. Then I crocheted both ends together and that was that!

I love how fast crochet is. I love the freedom of just whipping out a quick headband. Sadly my wrist is now KILLING me from making these, so I can't see doing much crochet in one sitting in the future. Maybe I can work up to it - but pain is a pretty big motivator to NOT mess yourself up.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Treadmill Afghan Part 2: an Update

Tonight I knit the last square for my second Treadmill Afghan!

I started these squares on 6/4/2011 and it took me an hour on the treadmill to knit each square. Unlike the last afghan, (which I am still assembling, eh hem) I sketched out a pattern for this one and kept it in a specific color range. The design will be 9 squares wide and 9 squares tall - so I ended up knitting 81 squares for this afghan (81 hours on the treadmill....)

I have been wanting to exercise harder on my treadmill so I am VERY happy to be done with this aspect of the project. And yet.... I feel just a little sad because I probably won't knit on the treadmill anymore and really - it was a huge impetus in getting my life back on track.

And now I have two afghan's that need to be assembled. Oy vey!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Wind Blows

The snow is not melting away anymore. It's in the teens in the mornings now. Brrrrrr! Not very excited for it to be winter again. Although it's been fun wearing all the hats and other knit accessories I made over the summer. My first real chance to rock them out!

See - there is always a bright side.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Cowl 471

I had a single hank of Misti Alpaca Chunky in a really pretty Black and Grey twist color (color 471) that I was itching to use. It's a really busy yarn - and I was wanted it to be a cowl in the worst way - co I came up with a simple pattern and it was PERFECT!

I love the length & width. Unstretched it's about 6.5 inches wide and 18 inches (or 36 total - do you measure a cowl in half or in whole?) long. It's just perfect! And the alpaca is just so wonderfully snuggle yum.

As you can see - Emma was pretty excited about the whole thing too. She jumped up and "Gave me 5" while I was waiting for the timer to go off on the camera.

I was even able to wrap it double around my neck for really cold days. (It's a bit snug going over the head but fits nicely on the neck once it's there.)

Here is a picture of it blocking in my basement craft area over night. Just a quick pin and a gentle mist and it was lovely the next day.

Here are the directions for the cowl if anyone is inclined toward making one themselves. You can check out additional notes on my project page on Ravelry

Cowl 471

Needle: 16” Size 13
Cast on 85 stitches using Long Tail cast on (Any cast on is fine).
Join in the round being careful not to twist and place marker.
Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: Knit
Row 4: Purl
Row 5-9: Knit
Row 10: Purl
Row 11: Knit
Row 12: Purl
Row 13 - 17: Knit
Row 18: Purl
Row 19: Knit
Row 20: Purl
Row 21-25: Knit
Row 26: Purl
Row 27: Knit
Row 28: Purl
Bind Off knit wise.
Weave in ends.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Pocketbook Slippers

I finished my Pocketbook Slippers and I love them! They are a free pattern on Ravelry, and they used just under 1 skein of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Yarn (stash buster!)

I knit these up thinking it would be wonderful to have a tiny pair of slippers to throw into my house when I go to friends houses this winter. We get a LOT of snow - so we generally take our shoes off when we go into someones home, and then I spend the night sitting on one foot and then the other because my feet are frozen! So this will help keep me warm without having to haul giant slippers with!

You can see the seam on the center of my foot as well as where I seamed the center strap as well. Very clever construction. These are knit flat and then you seam up the ribbing areas for the front and the back of the foot - and then the two tabs on the ends become the strap over the foot. The pattern is so easy! I cast on for Thanksgiving because I wanted a really simple project to work on and just couldn't face another scarf or hat.

We are already in snow season so I suspect I will be getting some serious wear out of these. I think that is why the Knit Picks was a good choice too - it's a tougher wool than say Malabrigo. (Malabrigo would be pretty and warm - but I suspect they would have holes in them pretty darn quick!)

They fit like a dream and will tuck in my purse with no problem. I was tempted to put embellishments on them (buttons or flowers) but in the end decided they should be plain for me. I had visions of my headphones wrapping around buttons or flowers and really just wanted neat and simple for purse rides.

Wonderful pattern! Love them!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday Morning - Health update and goal setting

Saturday morning weight in and health evaluation time. I like to take time to think about the week ahead on Saturday mornings and how I can make it a better week. What can I do to be stronger and healthier? What are my concerns?

This last week was a struggle with food. I didn't go crazy - but I felt a little out of control. The voice of justification (It's ok - eat a cookie!) was in my head too much and usually that means other things are going on that make me feel like I need extra. Extra love, extra food, Extra stuff to fill the holes in my soul. I try to be mindful of that voice - it's a trickster and will lead me astray.

So I did the "Please let me not have gained" prayer as I stepped on my Wii this morning and was happy that I saw a little loss. Not even a pound, but it's the right direction and I consider that a win.

I have noticed my Zumba workouts aren't destroying me as much anymore, so I want to step up the workouts. Either the intensity of the short work-outs (Since I am on beginner) or trying the 40 minute work outs. I am not sure what makes sense to do yet - but I need to change something there.

I only have three more work outs to go on my 2nd tread-mill afghan and then I can be done knitting on my treadmill. I have been wanting that to be harder too, and I just can't go too fast while knitting. Visions of being impaled on my pretty hard wood knitting needles fill my head. No thank you! I have the incline at 50% and walk for an hour every time. It's enough that I drip with sweat every work out - but I am to the point that I really want to work harder.

I REALLY need to finish putting together my first tread mill afghan. I pretty much just have to finish stitching on the seed stitch borders surrounding the blanket and it's done. I run screaming from finish work.

I thought I would include a couple pictured of Emma in the cat bed. We purchased the largest heated bed we could thinking the girls might share. We find Emma in the bed as often as the cat. They have a nice view of the bird feeders from the bed and some nice sunlight. Pretty sweet spot.

This is how she curls - all her feet together in a pile of cuteness. She is giving me the "What? What now? I just want to nap!" look.  Love my fur-babies.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

It's December!

And true to form that means it snowed here today!

Not this much snow though. This is a picture from about two weeks ago when we got our first real snow of the season. My hubby is chasing Emma in the back yard. You can practically here her saying in Puppy Language "catch me! catch me!"

I heard a factoid once that stated that Thursday was the worst traffic day. Ever since then I have been mindful of that and noticed that I seem particularly frazzled on Thursday's and that traffic to work (and home) is worse on that day. This morning as I was balancing:
1) my work bag
2) my purse
3) hot coffee
4) car keys
5) a bag of noisy recycling

And trying to make my way over the snow covered pavement to my car, I had a moment to notice that I was already about 15 minutes behind the time I told myself I was going to leave. Boo!

Some days are just like that for some reason.

This morning it was having to put on my hubbies boots with my pj's so I could go outside and show our dog that "No really! This white stuff is not acid that will eat it's way into your soul! So you can come out here and pee! See?!?!? I am out here in my pajamas, husbands boots, wool coat and hair sticking up in 8 directions and I am not melting at all! IN fact, I am turning into a pointy little rock! So come on out!" I think that might have been where my morning when awry....

Thank Riesling Tomorrow is Friday.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making "ART" (not really)

I am a pretty big fan of the site Pinterest and I find lots of crafty projects on the site that I HAVE to make. Below is my first attempt at one of these crafts. Printing a photo onto tissue paper and mod podge it to canvas. Very cool. I followed the directions from the blog "Little Bit Funky" which were wonderful. I found the comments from the other users very helpful as well. My project ventured into the dark room of pipe cleaner abominations (When crafting goes bad!) but I still see the potential in this project. So here was my process.

 I took a piece of plain white tissue paper and cut it to 8 x 11.5 (or standard letter size) since that was around what my canvas measured. (Ok - my canvas wasn't even close to this size....Ooops #1).

After cutting the paper I ironed it out as flat as it would go. Then I had to re cut it as the crease marks puffed it out and I had cut it a little wonky. Then I ironed it again. Better!

Next I found the picture I wanted to use and tried to feed the tissue through the printer. The picture above shows what I was able to pull back out of my printer. Hmmmm. This is not good. So I read what other people had done and someone mentions that they taped there tissue to a piece of card stock. "I can do that!" I thought. So I did. I went and re cut and re ironed some tissue and then headed back to the printer. And it tried to rip the tissue off the card stock. So I really had to jam the card stock/taped/tissue into my printer and eventually I got it to work! Wahoo!

So here is a picture of my tissue picture taped to a piece of card stock. I re cut the edges to remove the tape and the white that peaked through.

Next, I took a foam brush and smeared a thin coat of mod podge on my canvas board. When I had it covered in the glue, I centered my picture and slowly started to smooth the tissue out on the canvas board, working out as many bubbles and wrinkles as I could. (This sucked. My fingers picked up ink and the ink started to smear a bit...)

 Once I was satisfied I couldn't get it much better, (and thought my efforts were causing more damage than good...) I started gently smoothing a layer of mod podge over the top of the whole thing. You can't see it on this shot, but the ink smeared pretty badly from this and I ended up causing more wrinkles. I started to get that "Oh crap!" feeling again.

Not long after that I completely jumped the shark and "hid" the ink smears with green paint on the edges thinking it would "sort of blend" with the grass. Yeah...... You will notice I could not be bothered to wait for the glue to actually dry before I went bonkers with the paint? Yeah.


I think this craft has a lot of potential. But probably I should try it again when I am well rested, when I have all the proper tools, when I am capable of telling what size my canvas is.

This is seriously a case of crafting gone wrong.

I will let it dry in the basement and take another look at it tomorrow. Perhaps a frame can cover the damage I inflicted with the paint? We shall see.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Black Friday Mittens

YAY for Finished Objects! I finished the thumb on my mitten last night and wove in all the ends on my second mitten and Walla! They are done!

This is a free pattern on Ravelry called Wool-Ease Mittens by Stephanie Taylor and this is the second set I have made. LOVE THEM! It took less than one skein of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick yarn and they are so thick and so warm! I am just geeked out to have my own pair.

The first pair I made I gave to my niece for a Christmas gift and they were wonderful and I kind of had a hard time giving them up. :) You know how that goes. So since I had a lot of this yarn left over from my Capucine Hat I decided that I would go whole hog and make matching mittens. 

I did a few mods on the pattern to make them a little shorter and they are pretty close to perfect. They look a little big laying flat with my hand on them - but when I put them on they are pretty ideal.

They go up my arm far enough that when I go to scrape my car after work I know I won't end up with a frozen wrist. I could probably make a pair with crazy long arm length and go gauntlet on them if I had the desire - but for now I am just tickled pink with my Black Friday Mittens!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fa la la la la.... la

We started a little decorating around the house for the holidays. It feels too soon, but in my family we start decorating the day after Thanksgiving, and this year we did just that!

We purchased a wreath from a boyscout who knocked on our door. He delivered it last week and we actually put it up this year! Sadly the wreath we bought last year went into our front closet and lived on a shelf in the plastic bag until Spring when it went in the fire pit. We sort of forgot it was there.... Sad sad sad....

This year, as we cleaned out the basement, we came across the little three foot fake trees we purchased a couple years back to gussy up our wine barrels in front of the house. Yay for us! We actually put them up this year! They look super cute too! There is one on either side of our front door and they are just happy little trees.

Maybe.... Just maybe... I won't be a mega Grinch this year! (Will stock up on booze just in case though.)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Saturday Morning: Weight in - Check in

It's been a busy busy week around here! This week was filled with: Insomnia, projects galore, work (but not much of that...), Thanksgiving Holiday, and (joy of joys) my period.

So after last weeks OUTSTANDING weight loss I was a little concerned about this week. I knew I was due for my period. I knew it was Thanksgiving and that it would be really hard to face that meal. I haven't had to handle too many celebrations since going on Weight Watchers and I admit - I was scared! I heard statistics all week about how that average American eats 4500 calories on Thanksgiving day. And I love our Thanksgiving meals. Turkey, Mashed potato's with thick brown gravy. Rolls. Cranberries. Stuffing. Green bean casserole. Pumpkin pie..... The list goes on and on! So I was trying to gird my loins for going into celebration mode. My motto was: "Eat with intent. Enjoy what you eat." Oh - and the period hit the night before Thanksgiving, so I went into the day with cramps, feeling fat, and wanting to eat the house down. (Yeah - thanks for THAT body!)

So on Thanksgiving day I ate my normal breakfast and then went to my parents for Brunch. My mom really tried to cut back on the amount of food and tried to go leaner on things which was really nice. I ate a little bit of everything I wanted. The taste of these foods was just amazing and so rich. I wanted to gobble it up just because it smelled and tasted so good! I ate a minimum of snacks and then when we sat for dinner I had a small serving of everything I HAD to have. I was shocked at how full I got so fast and I actually never made it to eating my Turkey! I had to stop before I got to it and ended up taking it home in a doggy bag. So I was really pleased with how I handled myself and now I feel just a little more confident about handling food situations like this in the future. (Which is good because we are in full holiday mode!)

So this morning was weight in and I was trying to be prepared for what could be a bummer with the factors working against me. (Period, Thanksgiving eating, insomnia at the beginning of the week, and a really good loss the week before.) I did my usual pep talk (You are on the right path, have faith in the process, one week is not the whole picture of your journey......) and then did my weight in. Yay! I LOST weight this week! I did a snoopy dance and celebrated losing my 1.1 lbs! YAY! Every success just strengthens my faith in myself and my belief that I can really get myself to a healthy weight and feel healthy. It's just such a wonderful thing to feel in control of your body and to know you can handle situations that come up. Crazy to be 40 years old and just getting my feet under my body in this area, but I am happy to FINALLY be getting there.

So I had insomnia this week which generally means less knitting. I had to rip out a few things I attempted because I just can't focus when I am exhausted and I make mistakes. But I did make a little headway on two projects.

I started the Pocketbook Slipper pattern that had been in my Que on Ravelry forever. I wanted something very simple that I could work on over Thanksgiving and it is a very simple pattern. I am anxious to get the other one done and to seem them up so they are done. I think they will be perfect for taking with when I go to friends/family homes this winter. You can't really tromp around in snow covered boots at other people's houses so having a little pair of throw on slippers that I can just have in my purse is pretty ideal. I chose a lighter color so that dog and cat hair doesn't show us badly. (I have learned that lesson well in my own home!) The yarn is a stash bust, Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in the color Green Tea Heather. The first one weighted in at 25 grams - and the skein is 50 grams, so I might just make it in 1 skein. (I have a second one standing by just in case.) I love the construction of these and think they would make great X-mas gifts too. (Free pattern on Ravelry!)

My other project I made progress on this week was a pair of gloves to go with my
Hood and Shoulders above the Rest hat I made a couple weeks ago. I had most of one skein of yarn left over from the hat, so I thought a nice set of mittens to go with it would be wonderful. (My hands are already cracking and bleeding this winter and we have only had one snow so far!) I have a pattern I really like for using the Lion Brand Thick & Quick yarn, the Wool-Ease Mitten pattern by Stephanie Taylor on Ravelry. (Also a free pattern.) I need to weave in the ends on mitten 1 (Pictured above - inside out so I can just grab a needle and get to it!) and then move on to mitten 2. It makes me twitch to be EXACTLY half done on two projects. I do not want to come down with half-done idis!

The other project we have been working on this week was to get my basement craft/treadmill room updated a little. I did not take a before picture (Argh!) but what I wanted was more storage and a place to have my sewing machine out and ready to use at all times. Previously I would take my sewing machine upstairs and set it up in my dining room everytime I needed to make something. This resulted in me sewing almost never because it was a giant pain in the toosh to set up! So now I have two new bookcases on either side of the tv that are housing craft books, which really opened the space up a lot. I am so happy to be able to see all my craft books! They were stacked previously in a way that I could not see what I had - so I am very excited to see all my books! The Tv is set up better for tread milling. AND I have the ability to listen to my Ipod as well! It's very exciting!

I am still organizing and tweaking the space. I want a rolling chair for my sewing table and I still have stacks of stuff laying all over. My Yarn Balling station fit perfectly next to my sewing table and that made me really happy. I used to keep my swift and baller in a drawer and then set it up every time I needed to ball my yarn up. It's awesome to just have stuff in the ready position!

I am pretty excited to treadmill this morning in my new and improved space!

Have a wonderful weekend all!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sparkle & Shine Holiday Scarf

I fell in love with Martha Stewart's Glitter Eyelash Yarn when I was at Michael's Craft store about two weeks ago. I picked up 6 skeins of it (There is only 39 yards on a skein  - so it's not THAT much!) and then tried to think up a pattern for a scarf or cowl to go with my velvety winter dress coat. After a few swatches and finding a yarn to work with it (I loath knitting with just an eyelash yarn - Must always combine another yarn with it!) I had a simple pattern for a scarf with pointy ends.

I pulled out my tri-pod and hit the self timer button on my camera to take pictures, so I look a little "Is it working" in every picture I snapped. Plus I was running back to my spot and hoping I was in frame, on a snowy deck, in heals.... Yeah. But I got the pictures! In this one I wrapped the scarf around and around to make it look like a cowl. The end untucked when I ran for my spot.

In this one I have the scarf wrapped around my neck twice. I like this look and it looks really cute looped twice and then loosely tying the ends. (No photo of that!)

This is looped once and the ends loose. You can see the tapered ends in this shot a little better.

And an almost full length shot to show how long I knit this guy. It only took about three hours of slow knitting to get this done on my Size 19 needles. It went super fast and I love the Sheep(ish) yarn in Gun Metal (ish) held together with the silver eyelash. It worked perfectly!

This is the first picture I took - I am trying to figure out if I am in frame and if the timer is still on and did I shut off the flash??? I cropped the picture and turned it into a Black and white. Cuz it's fun to do.

Final shot of the scarf without a person. You can see the Sheep(ish) yarn in this shot a little better. 

I have more specific pattern notes up on my Ravelry page for this scarf. Am hoping to add it as a PDF file to my blog one day, but I need to figure out how to do that.
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