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.
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