Being the continuing story of my creations and curiosities.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Year-End Catch-Up

When I was looking through my finished project notebook I found that I hadn’t ever written up the last sweater I made. So here ya go!

Winter Dark Sassymetrical

Sassymetrical2 For: me

Begun: November 26, 2010
Completed: December 7, 2010

Yarn: Berroco Remix, 30% nylon/27% cotton/24% acrylic/10% silk/9% linen, colour 3970 (charcoal mix) dyelot 8581, 216 yds (200 m) = 100g. 3.2 balls (approx 700 yds).

Needles: Addi Lace circular 4.5mm, Denise 4mm and assorted cords as stitch holders.

Gauge:  18sts & 26 rows = 4” on 4.5mm needles

Pattern:  sassymetrical by Gay Schiff (gaysknits.com). This is really only a recipe for one size: x-small. Very easy style to adjust though.

Comments: A quick project as a nice change from tiny yarn and needles. This is the recycled yarn that wasn't suitable for the Princess due to the nylon content. Well, I wasn't going to return it to the shop! Mine. I really like this yarn. It’s very easy to knit with, cohesive but not too string-like and softens just a bit in the wash. It takes gentle machine washing very nicely and I’m betting you might be able to machine dry on the air setting but I haven’t attempted it yet. The ball band recommends 5mm needles but I like the fabric I got on 4.5mm. The larger ones create a fabric that looks too sleazy to me. Lots of yardage on these balls too.

SassymetricalI've cast on the same number of stitches as called for in the pattern but it’s a heavier gauge yarn so it up-sizes to a medium. Top section is 7" to the underarm and I cast on 6 sts under each armhole. Making 3/4 length sleeves and a longer body (10" from underarm). Used one-size smaller needle for seed stitch hem to keep it from being too floppy.

I'm hoping the wide neckline will stay put on my admittedly wimpy shoulders. Probably should have used the smaller needle there also. If it doesn’t cooperate I might have to snug it up a little with crochet. We'll see. So far so good.

I still have nearly 2 balls of this yarn and was able to get a third one from Birkeland Bros Wool yesterday. They didn’t have any more unfortunately but this gives me about 600 yards which is hopefully enough to make a zipper-front vest. Though I’d love to have another ball just to be on the safe side.

And I also forgot to write up the second iTouch cosy. Sheesh! Where was my brain? Oh yeah. On a cute little baby granddaughter, that’s where. No surprise.

iTouch Cosy #2

iTouchCosy2 

For: Ruby, my iPod touch

Begun: December 15, 2010
Finished: December 17, 2010

Yarn: sock yarn leftovers, hand-dyed by me, perhaps Sisu?, superwash/nylon.

Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo dpns, 2.25mm

Pattern: iPhone Cosy by Susie Blackman (Rav link, pattern link), flap mod idea link

Modifications & Comments: Just like T-Man’s, I used smaller needles than called for. Made the same fold-over flap with an eyelet hole for the earphone cord but no belt-loop. This time I made a strap to wear it around my neck or slung across my body to keep it out of the way.

See first i-cozy for specific pattern mods.

I used my new toy, the Embellish-Knit, and my fringe twister to make a twisted doubled i-cord for the strap. I hand-stitched it to the body of the cozy and buried the ends in so they don’t show. The strap is much less stretchy than a plain i-cord.

Whew! Have I missed anything else? I’m nearly at the toes on the Dark o’the Moon knee socks. Doubt I’ll have them done to add to this year’s inventory though. Even though I’m not quite done I’m still feeling the need to cast on for something new. Bad sign! I may not be able to resist for long.

Then there’s the Watercolour Quilt which is sloooowwwwllllly coming along. I haven’t been ignoring it, just working in small time increments. I’ve decided to modify the size somewhat because I was attempting to make a king-size which would necessitate some major piecing to get enough squares. So instead of my original 16 x 16 I’m going for 15 x 13 and only sewing 1/2” seams. When it gets on the bed it will go with the longest direction going across so it will tuck in well. Should work the way I envision and I just might get this thing done in the next few weeks. I hope. I want to check another thing off my list and this one has been dragging on since summer when I did the big dye session on the vintage cotton sheets. It’s good to take advantage of the warm weather when we have some. Right now it’s gone quite cold and Procion dyes don’t work so well this time of year. Luckily there’s always something else to occupy me. Heh.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Damselfly’s Year In Review

What is it about this time of year that brings out all the retrospective stuff? I guess if you know where we came from then we can figure out where we’re going. Or at least we can hope to pick a direction and see where it takes us. We don’t really have a lot of control over some things, do we?

Such as, who knew that 2010 was going to be my Year of the Dermatologist? Yuck-O-Roonies! Though I suppose in hindsight things could have been much worse. They also could have been a lot better! Some doctors need re-educating in the caring and empathy department. A little “I’m sorry it’s not working but we’re trying everything we can” would help a lot. But I guess it’s too much to ask them to admit it when they don’t know something, huh? Their god-like status would then be in jeopardy and we might see that they are only human after all. Of course this does not apply to my GP. He’s pretty darn perfect as he is. And no, he’s not taking any new patients. Sorry I can’t share!

On a more positive note, my garden was better cared for than ever before because I was restricted to doing everything while wearing gloves. It did pretty well and we got quite a lot of produce out of it. I definitely made use of my new dye garden and shared the bounty with other interested folk, especially the woad blue. Actually a lot of dyeing of various sorts happened, including the old sheets for the Watercolour Quilt, a dozen pairs of cotton gloves and a lot of sock yarn, mostly for a sweater that I haven’t started yet.

My notebook says I made 2 pairs of knitted and felted slippers, complete with felt insoles, 2 pairs of legwarmers, 1 pair of tights and 5 pairs of socks. A sixth pair of kneesocks isn’t quite done yet, but they are past the heel turns. I also spun the yarn and knit 3 lace shawls and there’s 3 baby sweaters, 2 child-sized sweaters and 3 adult sweaters finished. Yes, and another hot water bottle cover, a baby blanket and 3 bibs, 2 neckwarmers and 2 iTouch cosies. The only sewing project I finished was a gift tote bag but this was also the year T-Man helped me make Debbie Double, my dress form. All in all it was rather productive, considering my hands were a mess for a majority of the time. Obviously it’s hard to stop me from creating, isn’t it?

I don’t know if my Inspirational Word for the Year really helps me focus or not but this will be the fourth one I’ve chosen: 2008 was Contentment, 2009 was Harmonize, 2010 was Conserve and 2011 will be Acceptance. I think this year was definitely one where conserving became quite important, especially in terms of my health. And I’ve already started working on acceptance: trying to come to terms with things as they are as opposed to how I wish they would be.

I’d cross my fingers that the New Year will be a much better year than this last one but it’s hard to knit like that! Here’s wishing a happy peaceful 2011 to all my Dear Readers. You don’t comment much – but I know you’re out there somewhere! My stats tell me so.

Before I forget I need to show this Christmas gift we got: a print of this painting by my daughter-in-law’s mom, Judith Fairwood (I don’t think she would mind me giving her some publicity!):

Snooze

Entitled “Snooze”, that’s our mutual grandson looking much more like his dad at that age than he usually does. Isn’t it a great portrait? I just love Judith’s perspective on her subjects. The little guy just turned a Big 4 yesterday. Happy Birthday, Stargazer!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

On The Fourth Day of Christmas

My True Love went back to work. And then the rain finally stopped and the sun came out! Timing sucks sometimes, huh?

Yes, I survived – thrived even – during the Crazy Christmas Onslaught at Damselfly’s Pond. Twenty-five guests. It was totally fun! Too much food, a modicum of drink, and a whole lot of hugging and kissing and baby-snuggling. Perfect. No I didn’t take any pictures. Sorry, my hands were full of turkey or baby. No I didn’t get them mixed up! The turkey was a lot bigger so it was easy to distinguish. Heh. I also seem to recall a mountain of mashed potatoes somewhere in there too. We have leftovers enough to last us the week. Good thing I love turkey. And ham. And pickles! Sometimes all together. Yum.

Then in between the rain and wind we managed to get out for a couple of nice long walks. The house is back in order now too - except for needing another good vacuuming. The lights stay up at least until Twelfth Night. I like to keep them as long as possible in the dark of winter. This is in direct contrast to those who put up their lights and decorations before the Halloween pumpkins have cooled and then take them down the second Boxing Day is over. I tend the other way – late to get them up and later still to take them down. We have one more family function – New Year’s Day at T’s brother’s. They volunteered even though they’ve already hosted Thanksgiving this year. Their house is even smaller than ours and somehow it all seems to work out! Hey, I’m already getting into my new Word for the Year: Acceptance, aren’t I?

Now we’re back to your regularly scheduled program. In the next couple of months I plan to get lots of crafting done – quick before I have to start planting seeds again. Plus we need some major mucking out of the corners around here. January 1st is the 32 anniversary of the day we moved into this house. Surprising how much accumulates when you don’t change abodes every few years, isn’t it?

WinterSunrise

To keep this post from being completely boring, here’s a somewhat out-of-focus sunrise. I have always had a thing for tree branches against a colourful sky!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dust Off The Elliptical Trainer

I have a feeling we’re both going to need to schedule time on it soon. What with all the holiday baking:

Chocolates ShortbreadTarts  

That’s two tins of chocolate, a double batch of shortbread and 4 dozen butter tarts with raisins. Oh my! Hopefully the Thundering Hordes we’re expecting on Saturday will help us eat most of it. We are just going to have to ration ourselves lest we develop tummies that jiggle like a bowlful of jelly. Oh wait – they already do that. OK, jiggle even worse than usual. Do a couple of shortbread cookies and a butter tart count as lunch?

Now we’re on the home stretch. We have to pick up our fresh free-range turkey today and bake the ham tomorrow. (No time or oven space for it on Saturday so we’ll just have it cold.) There will be some last-minute toilet scrubbing and vacuuming going on. Luckily the house will be so full and the lights so dim that hopefully nobody will notice my “pet” cupboard spiders, Queenie and Teeny. Moving right along…

I’m nearly to the heel flaps on the current pair of knee socks. They are going quickly even though I had to frog back to fix the messed-up gusset decreases. I only have one project on the needles at the moment and I’m trying desperately to resist the urge to cast on something else. Especially after I found a whole cone (800g) of worsted weight yarn in a tweedy fawn colour in the stash. No idea where I got it but I know I didn’t buy it retail. I’ve been gifted boxes of vintage yarn in the past so maybe that’s where it came from. Anyway it looks awful on the cone but washes up to a nice fluffy state. However it totally needs to be overdyed into a more interesting shade. There’s definitely enough for a whole sweater on the cone.

There’s also the lovely nearly-black Corriedale fleece that is crying out to be a sweater for T-Man. It was supposed to be for the Anne Field spinning workshop last spring but turned out not to be suitable. The crimp was too similar to another fleece and the dark colour made it harder to see what we were doing with counting twists and such. Mine! I paid the big bucks for it so now I get to make something that fully justifies its qualities. It’s all washed and ready to start picking and carding.

So right now I feel like I’m in some kind of crafty suspended-animation waiting until the Holidays are over to start new projects or even to finish old ones. I haven’t even looked at my quilt project except to move it so that I have half of my work table available for when I was gift wrapping. I also have fabric and patterns all ready to start upgrading my wardrobe but no space to work on them yet. Maybe that’s why the socks are going so fast? Nothing else is competing – except cleaning and baking, that is. Two more sleeps and then we can move on. Whew!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Solstice Aftermath

Man, that was big fun! But Bad Blogger never took any photos of the mayhem – even though I dutifully brought my camera. You’ll just have to use your imagination. We played Musical Baby and passed the newest family member around from one loving relative to another. We all got a chance to feed her a bottle and I was the official diaper-changer, a chore I do willingly because it’s such a delightful chance to interact with little ones. Yeah, I know. Coo-coo!

A big hit with the larger grandbeasties were the light bracelets that I bought cheap at Halloween and saved just for this light-themed celebration. At one point we were all (even the baby) wearing many bright-coloured bracelets and at another The Princess was decked out in all of them, creating necklaces and crowns as well as the bangles. We had our little gift exchange and one of Stargazer’s gifts was a large-scale tinker-toy-like building set where you are supposed to cover the structure with a spare sheet to make a fort. Even the adults got into this in a big way and we collectively built a castle that the Princess then decorated with the light bracelets. Very festive. There was wine (T-Man’s homemade of course), yummy food and not one but two desserts plus lots of laughter, kisses and joking. The Return of the Sun was toasted. We got home very late – at least for us early-to-bed types. This is totally my favourite and true winter holiday celebration.

Now on to the Big One! I didn’t get a chance to actually bake the shortbread yesterday because…duh! I cleaned the oven and by the time that was done I was out of time. I also was short of cookie sheets because I used 2 of them to make dark chocolate almond and cranberry bark and milk chocolate hazelnut bark. I’m not as fond of milk chocolate as I am the really dark kind but T-Man got both from the great little chocolate shop that’s on his way home from work. So I figured everything tastes better with nuts in it, particularly organic local hazelnuts! (Not ours sadly since the squirrels get them all.) Besides it’s real Callebaut from Belgium. The Good Stuff! Today I’ll bake the dough I made yesterday and probably the butter tarts as well. The freezer will keep them fresh for a couple of days.

I’m not so much of a baker anymore since my digestive system isn’t all that happy with too much flour and sugar. (I’m already feeling the effects of the pasta and two pieces of garlic bread I had yesterday!) However I don’t mind doing it and I really enjoy cooking in general. I always joke that my cooking skills are in an inverse relationship to my dear departed mom’s lack of them. I plead self-defence! What she could do to an innocent vegetable ought to be illegal. Though I really shouldn’t denigrate her too much – I still make her “Scots-haggis-in-a-turkey” oatmeal stuffing every year. (Yes, I actually have Stove Top this year for those who have a different idea of family tradition than mine.) And there are other recipes that are still in my repertoire – though I’ve tweaked them to have more herbs and spices than her more bland taste would allow. Even my shortbread is hers and the only modification I add is the cherry bit for decoration. Thanks, Mummy!

So I guess I’d better get to it, huh? Time’s a-wasting!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Solstice!

Sun

Happy Return of the Sun! For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and particularly those who live farther north, this is actually a big deal. Even here just above the 49th parallel it’s not fully light out until 8am and then starts to get dark again before 4pm. That’s only 8 hours of daylight and when it’s dull and rainy as it is so often around here, even the so-called daylight isn’t much. I know the change is subtle but it’s there. Even if there is the bulk of winter left to go.

I’ve been doing my best impersonation of Cinderella Pre-Ball and mucking out the dump cleaning house for the Big Turkey Day. How do I get myself into these things? Oh well. It’ll be fun! But please remind me that next year it is definitely somebody else’s turn, will you? Or I’m going to make a double reservation at an anonymous snowy resort with cross-country ski trails and just disappear for a week.

Carrying on, this morning I’m running the oven through a clean cycle in preparation for messing it up again with The Bird. I’ve softened the butter for the shortbread so I’d better get the dough made at least. I’ll have to refrigerate it because I can’t bake anything until the oven is cool enough to open again. Good planning, eh? It wasn’t easy to soften the butter in my deliberately cool house. I had to put it out on the counter so the morning heat from the furnace would start the softening and then tuck it in the bathroom cupboard with the towels to stay soft until I get to it. There’s a vent right under the cupboard that warms the towels and they retain the heat for hours. Nice.

I only have the butter tarts and chocolate almond bark (with cranberries!) still to make. Lots of time yet. No point in overdoing it! The Extended Fambly will just have to take us as they find us, paper plates and all. I’m not going to go all Martha Stewart at this late stage.

Tonight is our Annual Immediate-Fambly-Only Solstice Party at Milady Daughter’s. Much more low key. I have some of those colourful light bracelets that I got for $2 at Halloween. That ought to keep the grandbeasties busy for 5 minutes at least decorating everyone. I still need to make the salad that I’m bringing. And hope that T-Man has remembered to bottle a couple of bottles of his homemade wine (or he’ll be doing it quick-like before we head off to pick up Nana). And that’s it!

Sadly we missed the Lunar Eclipse last night. Didn’t even try to stay awake long enough. And I was trying to find a photo of a full moon that I took a few years ago but it’s buried somewhere. Yes, it’s also the Full Moon today as well as winter solstice! Converging Celestial Phenomena! Real things that you can’t argue about. Unless you believe the earth is flat. Then there’s just nothing more to discuss.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Playing With Toys

I’m in Avoidance Mode. Maybe if I do a whole bunch of other things besides getting ready for the Christmas onslaught next weekend somehow everything will be ready anyhow. Urp. I’ve put up minimal decorations. After all, there’s no room in my little house for 28 guests and a Christmas tree too. Even if some of the guests are very small. Besides, I have my 3D tree picture, made from broken wine bottles and old jewelry bits glued to velvet and complete with lights. This wonderfully tacky item was made by my late birth mom, who kindly made one for all the siblings. I love it, truly.

Maybe I’ll put a few decorations on the Hawaiian schefflera, since it takes up a goodly corner of my dining room and is just about as big as a regular Christmas tree. I’ve had this plant (actually that would be plants, since there’s more than one in the pot) for over 30 years and it’s definitely part of the family. They call them “dwarf scheffs” but mine keeps heading for the ceiling and has to be trimmed back! I can’t put lights on though or anything too heavy because the leaves will fall off. They do that all the time anyway. Luckily it grows back.

So instead of cleaning and decorated and baking I’ve been playing with a new toy I bought yesterday at our guild meeting from Jeff (of Fibres Plus).

embellish_knit

There was quite a run on these at the meeting – at least half a dozen people bought one! Personally I’ve been meaning to get one of these little items for awhile and although I’m sure it would have been much cheaper with a half-off coupon at Michaels, it’s nice to support our local suppliers. Otherwise how do they stay in business? Anyhow, this is actually a little 4-needle circular knitting machine and like all knitting machines it has its quirks. There is a definite learning curve and one needs to be a) gentle, b) dextrous and c) google these YouTube videos for help: Part 1 & Part 2. I’ve read some negative reviews of the Embellish-Knit but you know how some people are: dangerous around tools. This thing demands care and attention. A crochet hook and a flexible wire beading needle are also helpful. I believe the manufacturers have shrunk the size of the hole through which you must thread the yarn so as to discourage you from using yarn that’s too thick. It just looks so much easier on the video but it’s impossible to get the darn thing through without some kind of threader.

When I finally learned how to start the i-cord properly (thanks to the videos and the icky pink yarn included in the kit) I cranked out a couple of lengths using the sock yarn scraps that I’ve been using to knit my iTouch cosy. Then I used one of these (mine’s an original Lang double in purpleheart wood) to make a twisted cord out of the two i-cords. This is less stretchy and more substantial than a single i-cord alone. (And also needed another toy to make! Yay!) I plan to stitch it to the cosy so I can wear it either around my neck or slung across me for those times when my clothing lacks pockets. Is it wrong that I now covet a quad fringe-twister? When does one have enough toys? No. Don’t answer that.

And I almost forgot to mention that my Green Eyelet Cowl found a new home with guild member Diana. She was very happy with her score. And in return I got this really sweet little sewing case:

SewingCase1  SewingCase2SewingCase3

Hand-stitched on felt by my dear friend Kirsten. I love it! Though it might end up in my knitting kit instead since I don’t really do a lot of stitching. Hmmmm…maybe I should…

Have I talked about how this is the way I prefer to give and receive gifts? One-on-one. One at a time. To someone who is deserving and appreciative of the craft and effort that it took to make it. I just seriously dislike Excessmas.The whole point is lost in the insanity of it all. It will not kill you to just stop. Of course you’ll probably have to put up with a lot of Scrooge references for awhile. Ask me how I know.

Sorry. I wasn’t supposed to indulge in my Favourite Seasonal Rant. Slipped there for a moment. Where was I? Oh yeah. This:

MyTree

Isn’t it bee-oo-tee-ful?! Red velvet, faux granite painted frame, holes for lights drilled by my brother, glass snowman lampworked by T-Man, jewelry bits from the family stashes (including some from my late sister whom I never got to meet because she died in a car crash before I met my birth family). Now that’s celebrating! Who needs an old fir tree anyway.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Electronic Magazines and Such

Some random stuff today. (Like my blog posts are anything besides random. Heh!) I’ve only got an hour or so before I head off to my weavers’ guild Christmas party. Because our president is also my driver, I get to go bright and early and sit through the executive meeting. At least I have knitting…

Have you seen those new e-mags that Interweave is coming up with? I’d provide a link but you know where to locate them, I’m sure. Anyhow, what do you think of these? So far they’ve covered quilting arts, sock knitting and spinning & knitting combined. I like the fact that the satisfaction is immediate – no trying to see if they’ve come in to my local shops yet or (even worse) being slowly snail-mailed to me by our ever more expensive postal system. They cost the same as a print magazine though. I don’t understand that part. Yes, the production needs to be paid for: writers, designers, editors, computer whizzes and all. But there’s no printing or paper, shipping or distribution. That should save something that might be passed on to the consumer, no?

And although there is some cute and magical content that you can’t get in print journals (animated logos, video demos & interviews, popups and flyouts, oh my!), afterwards I’m somehow left feeling like I just had a piece of candy. All sweet taste and no protein. I enjoyed seeing folks actually do stuff (particularly good for spinning demos) it seems sort of superficial and basic and some of the very minimal number of projects are recycled. The e-mags are pretty and amusing but will I look at them more than once or perhaps twice? Not so far.

There are drawbacks also. The file sizes are huge! It took my highspeed modem about 15 minutes to download the SpinKnit issue the other day (purchased at a 20% holiday discount). And then you have to install it which took another 10 minutes. So I guess it’s not quite such immediate gratification, huh? I don’t think anyone with a dial-up connection could get it. And it needs lots of computer power too – though my little netbook, Bluet, running Windows XP managed ok. I think they need to get the file sizes down to something reasonable or folks are not going to buy too many of these and fill up their hard-drives like crazy. Oh yeah. That was something I just dealt with over the last few days, wasn’t it?

Another drawback is something I’ve complained about before – I can absolutely guarantee that you won’t be able to access these publications in a couple of years. No reading them again 20 years later like I do with my print magazines. No passing them off to someone else to enjoy after you’re done with them. They are limited in their usefulness. Like anything electronic. Just ask my 5-year-old Palm T/X! Oh wait. You can’t. The pressure screen is dying on it and it hardly works at all.

OK, I’m running out of time and I still have to pack up my necessities: portable and easy knitting project, magazines to return to the guild library, tea cup, plate, fork, napkin, finger food (celery & cream cheese – yum!), gift for the exchange, nametag, “ears” – oh, and mustn’t forget the tapestries. These are a dozen vintage pieces from a guild collaboration long ago. So long ago that nobody now remembers who wove what! T-Man and I were in charge of taking them out of the frames which we did. Mme. President wants to give them away to perhaps be used to make tote bags for our guild booth for next year’s ANWG conference. Not sure about that. We’ll see.

One last whine: why does a brand-new pair of footless tights get a hole in the panty area the Very First Time I put them on? They were not cheap ones either and I was careful to don them in the correct manner. Now I know why I so rarely wear pantyhose of any description. I’ve used Fray-Check stuff on the edges and hope it doesn’t run further. Oy.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Dusting The Cobwebs

No, not the ones that my buddies the cupboard spiders make. I was shocked the other day when my big desktop computer, Damselfly (yes, she’s named after me), suddenly spit up a warning that she was nearly full. Only 2 GB left of free hard drive space. Yikes! How did that happen?

Well for starters, my desktop HP Pavilion is pretty vintage in computer years. There’s lots of junk and really ancient files collected up. You always think you’ll need them later but no, you only need that one you deleted. Not the one you carefully saved. It’s a corollary of Murphy’s Law, I think. Then there’s the rude updates that don’t get rid of the old files automatically. It’s dangerous to do that kind of thing yourself manually. Who knows what obscure file will be needed to run something vital? I’m not a programmer or a hacker. Just a long-time user who knows the hard way what Bad Things can happen when you uninstall or delete the wrong files. It ain’t pretty. However, those who are programmers should be more tidy. Just sayin’.

So I foolishly bravely uninstalled programs I never used, deleted old files – 3-year-old guild newsletters, birthday cards, out-of-date backup files and (most helpful of all) old podcasts. Ones I’ve already listened to or would never get to. That alone freed about a quarter of my 250GB. Yeah, I know that’s pretty small by today’s terabytes of space but I did mention this is an older computer. She was nearly top-of-the-line when I bought her. Really! I still have a little more cleaning up to do but I don’t think she’ll spit up again anytime soon. I hope. I don’t even use this computer all that much because I have to actually sit in a chair in front of it. Not in my comfy warm bed with blankies. Like I am right this second with my netbook, Bluet. Too comfortable by half.

If I can pry myself out of here, I need to go clear off some space on the portable hard drive and do some back-ups. That poor thing is just as wimpy as the computer it’s supposed to be backing up. Amazing to think that my first computer, the Commodore 64, only had 64k (yes, kilobytes)of memory and No Hard Drive. Only a floppy drive where you had to swap out discs to run a program or save a file. Ah, progress! There’s so much more computing power in my little iTouch, Ruby, that it’s not even funny. That’s how far we’ve come since the early 1980’s. That’s millennia in Computer Years.

So what else? Oh yeah. I promised to show off my Festivus prezzies from dear wenchlette:

FestivusGifts for me 

That’s a felt cookie decoration, some ribbon with bees on it in a useful-sized tin, a star punch, some really nice buttons (need to make something to put them on) in a little round decoration box, a stitch marker case with red stitch markers, a business card case and – the main feature – a slouchy tam in Ysolda’s Ishbel pattern in (gasp!) Wollmeise! My very own Wollmeise and in my colours too:

IshbelTam

I did have to put a little elastic cord in the band just to snug it up a little. It was slipping down over my ears! The curse of a small head and no hair to hold it up. It was really easy to do though and now it is perfect. And it goes perfectly with my bamboo Ishbel scarf. Everything was all packed in that handy polkadot drawstring bag that will be perfect to carry spinning fibre in. It’s slippery so the fibres won’t stick and densely woven so a spindle won’t pierce it. Thanks so much, wenchlette! She says she forgot to put something in but I can’t imagine what that might be. Guess I’ll find out when I see her next.

Now what else is new? The Really Long Cuffs are done on my latest pair of knee socks:

DarkOsocks_prog

Now I’m carrying on down the leg. The yarn is actually a dark greyed midnight blue with very muted purple and navy bits. Hard to tell without good light because at first glance it just looks charcoal grey. It’s Trekking XXL which I quite like though it tends to get a little fuzzy with wear and washing. I’m calling these socks “Dark o’the Moon”.

Oh, and there’s also this:

Rosebud_day11

The Gratuitous Cute Baby Picture! My little Rosebud there in her Grampa’s hands is nearly 2 weeks old already. She now has on her first cast to fix her curly left foot – the first on a long road towards making it as normal as possible. It’s kind of like getting your teeth straightened with braces and retainers and all. More trouble for her poor parents than for her though. She is such a good baby. And so adorable too. That nose is definitely her mommy’s and the rosebud mouth comes from her daddy. The horizontal dent above her chin is mine!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Drab

It’s been a dark and stormy morning here at Damselfly’s Pond. The wind beat the rain into my windows on the west side of the house which is quite disconcerting. You just know the weather is coming from an unusual direction. Seems to be clearing up some now. Just makes me glad I don’t have to commute anywhere on days like this.

Speaking of drab, when I’ve had to go to the mall (recent dentist & audiologist appointments made me!) I always take a glance at the clothes shops. Just out of curiosity, you know? Not that I ever think I’ll find anything that a) is in my style (assuming I had one), b) fits, or c) doesn’t cost an arm and 3 legs. But it’s a fun exercise. This last couple of times perusing I noticed that most of the shops looked dull and drab. Even the window displays mostly lacked colour except for the occasional shot of seasonal red. Are the manufacturers echoing the state of the economy, the mood of the public or something else I don’t seem to be aware of? Black, charcoal, taupe and grey are colours that I actually like but not everywhere and on everything! It’s depressing.

There is a reason though why a lot of my own wardrobe is black. When a certain style is offered in pink, aqua, baby blue and black, I will pick the black every time. Now if they offered it instead in mustard, deep rust, olive, orange, lime or purpley-brown I would have a hard time choosing and would probably buy one of each. Colour is so subjective. The colours that make my heart sing are not necessarily yours. And the Powers That Be are dictating which ones you can have this and every other season. No wonder the Little Black Dress is so popular. It’s a no-brainer. Looks sophisticated and elegant. Also safe and boring. And available.

I had a similar problem buying some tiny sleepers for little Rosebud. I was trying to be somewhat unisex, just in case her parents either decide to have #2 someday or give them away to someone else. She’s only going to be wearing them for a few months at most. No point in going overboard on the pink and girly which none of us appreciate much anyhow. But just try to find something in other colours besides the ubiquitous pink that doesn’t look masculine! What’s wrong with dressing a girl in blue? Her mommy likes blue! And why are there not strong colours like purple and red and orange to go with the pastel greens and yellows? Babies like intense colours. I like intense colours. Pink is just as boring as black all by itself. Put it with orange or green or something. Oy.

Now you know why I learned how to dye things. However, it would help if they made things in pure natural fibres and sewn with cotton thread. Polyester doesn’t take the dye and then you’re left with white stitching on your new colourful garment. Bleh. Sometimes it’s worth it though. Just to have something nobody else does.

Notice that even crows and ravens have hints of blue, violet and green in them. Look carefully in good light. Not boring or drab. Yes, I’m fond of corvids. Even when they pull up clods of grass to get to the chafer beetle larvae or wake me up in the morning cawing at their babies. They’re just being smart birds.

P1040420

Rant over. I did manage to photograph my Festivus goodies but you’re going to have to  wait until I process them out of my camera. I spent all my available time typing this instead. Oops.

We did have a wonderful impromptu get-together yesterday afternoon with our immediate family. The other half still hadn’t had a chance to meet the newest member. While eating our yummy take-out sushi dinner I fondly reminisced about how 40 years ago there were just T and me. Then we have a daughter and a son. Son marries and has a daughter and a son. Daughter marries and has a daughter. And now we are 9. None of us are taking this happy family for granted but ever so thankfully. Who needs Christmas? I’ve already received my biggest gift.

***Twinkle!***

Hey look! I discovered The Anti-Drab!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Lazy Sunday

We were thinking about going to get our groceries with the car today and stocking up for the Big Dinner. I need to get some things done ahead of time if we plan to have 20+ people here! However, we ended up lounging around and deciding that it was way too busy at the supermarket today to bother. We’ll go after work sometime during the week. Right.

Moving right along. I finished a project!

iTouch Cosy #1

For: T-Man

iTouchCosy_on

Begun: December 6, 2010
Finished: December 10, 2010

Yarn: sock yarn leftovers, hand-dyed by me, perhaps Sisu?, superwash/nylon.
Needles: Clover Takumi bamboo dpns, 2.25mm
Notions:  1” wide non-roll waistband elastic, 15” long; piece of ¾” wide Velcro, 2.5” long.

Pattern: iPhone Cosy by Susie Blackman (Ravelry link, pattern link), flap mod idea: Ravelry link.

iTouchCosy

Modifications & Comments: Used smaller needles than called for. Made a fold-over flap with an eyelet hole for the earphone cord and a belt-loop. Also made a strap to velcro to his arm as per his request. Turns out it works better with the cosy facing his arm to keep it from joggling around.

Flap: CO 22 & work waffle patt flat for 1.5” (5 patt rep). Made a double-yo eyelet near the end during the next rep (in line with the hole for the earphone jack). This flap gets stitched down to the sides later.

Body: CO 20 more sts at end of round using knit-on CO and began knitting in the round for one rep of waffle pattern.

Belt Loop: With separate strand of yarn, centre the flap of 15 sts on back of body by picking up strand between sts and k in back of it as I knit the row, then separated sts onto 2 ndls. K flap separately in st st for 1.5”. Cont k body in patt until it’s the same length as the flap. Join loop flap onto body by k2tog from both ndls. (Note: could have made full width of cosy back. Also could have edged in garter to eliminate curl. OK as is though.)

Cont in waffle patt until long enough (4.5”) to fit iTouch (stretches!). End with 3-needle BO as for orig patt inst.

Strap: CO 10 st and k plain in the round 16.5”. Inserted 1” non-roll elastic (15” - long enough to go around upper arm with a generous overlap) into tube, sewed ends of knitting closed. Machine-stitched 2.75” velcro strips to ends to fasten.

In other crafty news, local Ravelry group had a fabulous and fun Festivus party last night at the Yaletown Brew Pub. I even managed to stay awake without tea! As you might expect, it included a gift exchange, handmade of course. My Giftee was someone I hadn’t met before so I spent some time stalking her Ravelry page and noting her answers to the obligatory questionnaire of likes and dislikes. I’m pretty sure she liked her package!

FestivusGifts

You’ve already seen the shawlette here (scroll down). Sneaksy, aren’t I? The package included some actual Festivus tea from the Pekoe Tea Lounge, a needle sizer, some packets of Eucalan wool wash, a needle case made by T-Man:

NeedleCase

and a set of stitch markers made by me:

StitchMarkers

They include 3 sets of moveable stitch markers that can also be used for crochet and a set of jump-ring style markers with 2 slightly larger ones, handy to differentiate start of round or whatever. These were all packaged up in a custom-sewn tote bag:

LeafyToteBag LeafyTote_det

There’s a pocket on the inside and one on the outside. The fabrics are black denim, green gingham and a leafy print plus heavy cotton tape handles all from the stash. The pattern was a free one called Pink October Tote from mamaspocketbook.com. Not that I really needed a pattern since this was so simple to make but I liked the small size and proportions. Once I located the ingredients it only took an hour or two to make. Now I want another one – with mods of course (more pockets! closures!) – for me.

In exchange I got a very nice package of goodies from my Giftor. I’ll have to have a photo session when it’s light enough to show you what I got.

More anon.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

MIA

I’ve been rather remiss in posting, haven’t I? In my defence I’ve been busy knitting and spending time with Rosebud, my current endearment for this little cutie:

Pumpkin_day3

Also shopping for sleepers for same, going to the dentist (for a cleaning) and several other exciting activities. I actually finished the latest sweater, the Winter Dark Sassymetrical, for myself but haven’t photographed it yet since it has been so dark and rainy. It always amazes me how fast projects are when knit in worsted weight yarn! Must be because I knit a lot of things in tiny yarn and equally tiny needles, huh? Right after casting off, I cast on for another pair of knee socks. And an iTouch cosy for T-Man to fulfill his special request for a way to wear his music on his arm. I’m done the cosy itself, complete with flip-top, an eyelet hole for the earphone jack and a belt loop. Now I’m working on the endless tube to cover the elastic armband. I’ll sew velcro on the ends to attach the armband at a comfortable size to go over whatever jacket or shirt he will be wearing. Mindless knitting is just what I need right now. I also have a special request for a tea cosy so that’s also on my asap list.

No, I have not even glanced at my quilt-in-progress. ’Nuff said.

There isn’t much in the way of other news, but I’m slowly integrating Ruby (my iTouch) into my life. I found a $4.99 app called KnitMinder. It doesn’t really supplant my projects and yarn stash in Ravelry but it’s quite useful for quick on-the-go references and notes. Log entries are automatically dated which makes it easy to keep track of progress. (Or lack of it!) I like that you can either link to a photo already in the iTouch or use the built-in camera to include a quick snap of the project’s current state, the pattern photo, yarn and finished object. The drawback is that I haven’t found a way to extract photos taken within the app to use anywhere else. But they aren’t up to blogging or archiving quality anyhow. Really just a reminder of where you are at in the project’s progress. An especially helpful touch are the counters – you can have unlimited numbers of them labelled to keep track of increases and decreases, rows and repeats. Just tap to add one. (Cracks me up that the “undo” is labelled “frog”!) I also like the needle and hook inventory that includes an icon to indicate which ones are being used in projects. Great for figuring out where that 4mm Addi Lace circ has gone. Comes with a comprehensive help file but really, it’s pretty intuitive. There’s a free trial version of KnitMinder but at $4.99, the main program is not a budget-buster. And you can’t easily transfer your input from the free one to the main app.

Another useful app that’s also a helpful addition to KnitMinder is FileMagnet which allows me to read files like Word, Excel and PDFs offline. (Which is surprisingly missing in iTouch.) It even includes a desktop program that makes it easy to transfer the files by Wi-Fi to my iTouch without syncing to iTunes. Now I can bring my current knitting and crochet patterns along with me. Unfortunately it’s suffers a little from the iTouch’s memory limitations so large, graphics-heavy files fill it up rather quickly. Patterns in Word format could be edited resaved without the pics as an RTF or text file if that’s a problem. However unless you have the full version of Acrobat (or another similar program) or use a converter to change it into a Word file, you can’t edit PDFs. There’s a free converter here that will email the results to you. That might be the best way to go with a large PDF file. (I have no idea about any copyright issues this might cause!) I’m still experimenting!

My attempt to stay out of malls this time of year isn’t working too well. Before the dentist appointment yesterday, I went upstairs to get some hearing aid batteries and now my audiologist wants to give me a hearing test tomorrow afternoon. Yikes! At least I don’t have to try to find parking. I can walk or take transit. Just need to Stay. Out. Of. Shops.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Quick Update #2

Thanks to everyone who sent congratulations! Here’s the little sweetie that I got to hold today:

Baby

(Pardon the grainy low-light photos from my iTouch.) I think she looks amazingly like her mom when she was born but with a goodly dash of her daddy too. Lots of black hair and pudgy cheeks and escaping fingers. So cute!

Here’s the exhausted but very pleased and happy mommy and daddy:

HappyMommy HappyDaddy

Welcome to the world, little one! Know that you are truly loved and cared for in the arms of your family.

Quick Update

We have a new granddaughter! Finally. An even 9 lbs. by C-section near midnight last night. Everyone is doing fine though Milady Daughter is going to need some recuperation from the very-long-haul labour, the meds and the serious abdominal surgery. (Gee, too bad they couldn’t have done that before she spent 3 days working so hard to no avail.) Whew! What a trouper. I’m so proud of her. And Milord Son-in-Law for his dedication and grace under extreme pressure. Apparently he’s already been changing diapers. Gotta get a photo of that unprecedented new skill!

More anon. We’re off to see them soon.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Reluctant Baby

Nope, she’s still not here yet! I know – unbelievable, huh? This grandbaby will be born sometime tonight though. Come hell or a C-section! My Favourite Doc has called in the reinforcements (actual obstetricians – he’s only a GP, but the best GP ever), Milady Daughter is finally on pain meds and it now depends on how well things progress. It’s been a long haul (luckily not quite as intense as it sounds) since Tuesday morning. Nobody has gotten much sleep. We left them at the hospital early this evening with Milady hooked up to monitors and IV, Milord snoring on his pallet on the floor and their doula doing crosswords. Pretty low stress really, all things considered. I’m exhausted just with the concern for them all anyhow.

Backing up a little, while they were sent home yesterday (not enough contraction action), we grandparents went for a walk. A pair of the newly-available muted red Blundstone boots was calling to me and I decided I needed a little Retail Therapy, don’t you agree? Just to lower the stress level. With the money I earned cat-sitting last summer burning a little hole in my wallet, we walked to the Australian Boot Store. It’s quite a hoof but it was so nice to get some air and exercise and maybe quit worrying for a short while. (Yeah, right.) Anyway, I came home with these little darlings:

RedBoots

(Un-retouched photo taken with Ruby, the new iPhone touch. Not bad!) I walked all the way home in them too - 4.6 kilometres mostly uphill with an added detour to Granville Island for lunch – proving that they are instantly comfy and do not need breaking in. Yes, that now equals two new pairs of boots in a very short time. New personal record! Note that besides the cat-sitting pay, I also got a bonus that equalled nearly the total of the taxes off the bill just because I wore my old Blunnies into the store. So they really only cost me about $60 which is quite a bargain. Now I have 3 pairs again: black Wedges (no longer made and wearing out), dark brown Chunks and red 556’s. Since I threw out my original pair that completely disintegrated this summer, I missed the 500’s series which are the most comfortable, if not the most stylish ones. At least on my feet. OK, so I wouldn’t know ‘stylish’ if it bit me. I’m really all about comfort with perhaps a little kick of fun. Mostly comfort. But red!

So needless to say with all that’s been going on the last couple of days, I was mostly a zombie at our Spectrum Study Group meeting today. I was waiting all day on news that didn’t come until I got home. Now I’m more than ready to welcome our new granddaughter to the world. Whenever she deigns to join us. We’re just waiting for the phone call. Meanwhile I’m going to sleep…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz