January 31, 2010

Hut Upgrade

My house is a hut.  That means it's one up from a shack.  It needs all kinds of repairs and since I'm the only income producer in the house (my son is only 16 and wouldn't make enough money if he did work, and no one wants to rent my cat), the upgrades are few and far between.

Today's upgrade happens to be kitchen cabinet resurfacing.  My cabinets were a nasty mess before.  They look older than Central Park dirt (probably were) and the dark brown was just depressing.  The Cabinet Guy came this morning before I could get a picture of before - before he had all the doors off.  He was quick!

Top cabinet before:

Top cabinet after:

Oh my gosh!  What a difference 4 hours makes!  He had the old cabinets sanded and the new laminate on in what seems like no time!  Wow!  I was impressed and started thinking that maybe he would finish in one day, just like he said.

Bottom cabinet before (without doors, of course):

Now that's just scary!  It's been a long time since I emptied out the cabinet and cleaned it out.  I should be embarrassed, but I'm not.  Those cabinets are old news now.

Bottom cabinet after:

Not quite done, like Cabinet Guy said it would be, but darned close.  Cabinet Guy is coming back tomorrow morning and will build sliding drawers so I don't have to dig for my pots and pans.  Won't that be nice?

Dinner tonight was a frozen pizza in the oven because as you can see, there's no sink and no water:

And today was a day of no knitting since I've been all stressed out about having a stranger in my house all day and the mess in the basement , the fact that it's not done and that tomorrow I'm going to have to go through it all again.  Only tomorrow I get to put it all back.

And just so you don't mistake this entry for a home improvement blog, here's how far I got with the sock after I ripped it back halfway when I screwed up the short row hell heel. 

I never get those right on the first try.  It's the math part that screws me up every time.

And before I go, let me just say 'thank you' in a very big way to the ladies at the knitting circle.  They insisted I go to knitting class today, even if just for a moment.  So I left my son in charge and ran there quickly only to get a big surprise.  They were throwing a birthday party - for me!  They really shouldn't have, but the company was great and the food was too!

Thank you ladies!

Back row: Juana, Maria, Baby Mia, Renee / Second row: Winnie, Carol, Yvonne, Jeanette / Front: me and Carmen
(Not present in the picture are Nilda, who took the picture and Miladys who left before I got there)

Ladies, you're the best!  Thank you.

January 23, 2010

Yes? No?

Today was my one day round trip to North Carolina to pick up my great niece, Mikenzie.  She's only 2 months old and she was such a good baby on the plane - because she slept through the entire flight.  Those are the kind of babies I like.  The sleeping kind.

Before I got there, I was working on a pair of 'ski socks'*.  They're for David at my job, who made it clear that a pair of conservative brown cashmere socks was not what he was looking for.  So I decided to jazz them up a bit.

Is it too much?  You can be honest - I won't get mad.  The contrast is so sharp, and I wasn't overly thrilled with the choice of green merino as a contrast for brown cashmere/merino, but the look grew on me.  So, my question is: is it too much for a man to wear?  Keep in mind that he asked for loud.  He asked for unconventional.  But the colors beg the question - where can he wear these socks?

I didn't get much done, I spent way too much time walking 18 miles to get from the airport to my gate, and then walked another 84 miles to get my luggage while carrying a baby when I got back to NY.  Now that I'm home and looking at the sock, I'm feeling insecure about my choice of colors.

I'm going to mull a bit over the socks, which I can reasonably get done by the middle of the week once I've made up my mind about what to do.

Meanwhile, I got a bunch of packages in the mail yesterday that threatens to interfere with my sock progress.  Book #1:

I've wanted this book since the day it was released, but I had to wait for it to go on sale and it finally did.  Yay!

And in the same box, book #2:

Woo hoo!  Now I can 'loom' to my heart's content!  I'm going to make a bunch of stuff now so look out!

And in yet another box came:

Valley Yarn in the colorway linen purchased on sale from WEBS.  This is for Mom's Mondo Cable Cardi which I'm going to make for her birthday (Feb. 26).  Which means I have a lot of multi-tasking to do.

Fortunately for me, tomorrow I can do whatever I want all day long because it's going to rain and I'm using my one day trip all the way to Raleigh, NC as an excuse to say 'no' to everybody for at least one day.  I'm giving myself a freebie.

So, off I go.  Got lots to do and virtually no time to get it done.

Happy knitting/spinning/'looming' to you all!

* I think cashmere isn't a good idea for ski socks, unless those so-called ski socks are going to be warming some feet by the fire at the ski lodge.  Am I wrong?

January 21, 2010

Tiny Stitches

My Triangle Summer Shawl is coming along, but after a weekend of knitting tiny stitches on my tiny needles, I needed a break.  Not to mention that nupps are a pain in the hand.

So ... on Monday I dug in the cabinet where my mentionable fiber is (my unmentionable fiber is stashed in a few other places) and dug up some fiber from Desert Peach Farm & Fiber.  I'd promised Jeanette from knitting circle that I would spin her enough yarn to make herself a pair of socks.  This is what I got:

I was sure I started with more orange than lilac, but it's pretty all the same.  I think it's suitable for a pair of socks, or a pair of mittens, if she so chooses.

I'm not sure of the yardage, I just know it's enough to make a pair of ankle socks:

And, if I say so myself (since I am the only one saying anything at all), it came out pretty good.  As usual, I wasn't happy with the first spin, but after Navajo plying, it turned out to be pretty even - mostly - and should knit up pretty nicely with a size US3 or US4 set of DPNs.  You hear that Jeanette?

So, here's hoping it's truly enough for a pair of socks, and a pretty pair at that.

Now back to my shawl.

January 16, 2010

Once Upon a Time

I was on the Knitty website and I absolutely fell in love with the Seascape Shawl.  Oh, it is lovely to look at and every day that I didn't knit it, I so wanted to.

The thing is, nothing about actually knitting it was what I expected:

Trust me when I tell you, it really is a lovely shawl, really - especially if I could have gotten it already knit up by someone not me.  Apparently, I only skimmed over the part where it said to 'knit this chart 8 times'.  You want me to knit how many rows 8 times?  Not possible.

So I knit until I wanted to rip my eyebrow hairs out with my bare hands and ended up with this:

Oops!  You knew that was coming, didn't you?  Honestly, I had no idea it was going to end this way, but the 8 repeats was more than my fragile knitters mind could handle.  Too much math ... too much ... boredom.

But I'm a hopeful sort, and I did promise to get this done - last year.  I'm working on a new plan for this yarn, and it looks like this:

You can't really show you what it is, but it'll eventually become the Triangular Summer Shawl from Knitted Lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush.  The chart is in three parts, but it's triangular so there's decreases which keeps the repetition to a minimum - kind of.

Either way, this shawl is serving double duty. It's a gift and it's part of my 10 shawls in 2010 obligation.  If I'd waited a few more weeks, it would also have been my Ravelympics competition piece.  I'll have to come up with something different for that.

The nupps (pronounced 'noops', I'm told), are a pain in the rear, but I'll complain about  my inability to make them as soon as I knit enough of them for you to see.

OK, I'm off to figure out how I can make an entrelac hat, a cardigan, a shawl and a pair of socks all at the same time.

January 10, 2010

What Joy!

I finally finished the Knotty or Knice socks.  My goodness, it never takes me this long to make a pair of socks, but I failed to teach myself to cable without a needle and that was the hold up. 

They were worth the effort because they're for my mom, but it'll be a very cold day before I make another pair.  All those little crossed stitches were a pain in the rear, but I like the finished look.  I used Jade Collection sock yarn from Sock Pixie and US #2 needles.  Everyone should have a pair of green socks!

Now that the socks are behind me, I figured I'd get started on my shawl.  I cast on the stitches and did two rows before I realized I had miscounted the stitches, so I ripped it out.  After casting on and being careful to count slowly, when I got to the design of the shawl, I had too many stitches, so I ripped it out again.

I took a nap, I ate some dinner, I watched TV and then I assumed the knitting position again.  Just because my lips can count to 100 doesn't mean my brain can.  There is apparently a disconnect somewhere, so I gave up the shawl.  My go-to solution when I'm having a bad knitting day is socks.  I can  make socks, and I often do when all else fails.  So I tried to cast on for a pair of socks, and lost interest quickly.

Maybe my glasses don't work, maybe my brain is on vacation.  Whatever it is, knitting yesterday was a bust. 

I figured since I was on a losing sttreak with knitting, I might as well try something else.  Since I am the proud new owner of an Ashford 24" rigid heddle loom from Copper Moose, I figured I'd go assemble it figuring I'd probably never get to the weaving part.  I was wrong!  I assembled, warped and wefted successfully.

Yesterday at knitting circle someone donated yarn on cones which I quickly snatched up.  And I had some Yarntree alpaca that had been laying around here since Moses crossed the desert.  I set up and in an hour I had half a scarf.  Today I finished it.

It's not going to be featured in any magazine, but I'm pleased as punch!  You can probably play Where's Waldo with the mistakes, but who cares!  It was a learning experience, I'll do better next time and it won't have any mistakes, but for now, it'll do. I promised Monika that she would get the first thing off my loom, and so it's hers (whether she wants it or not!), and a promise of better looking dish towels in the future.

So, I'm off to try counting again.  I've got shawls to make!

January 02, 2010

How In the World ...

Happy New Year to everyone!  I wish you all health, peace and happiness,  and a lot of finished objects for this year.

Meanwhile on my home front, here's what happened.

Last month I decided that the felted Dumpling Bag would make a nice holiday gift, so I made one with Patons Merino which says right on the label that it would felt.  Sure, felting was going to be an issue since I'd only done it once before - unsuccessfully.  In fact, the booties I attempted to felt were so badly done that I shipped them off in a package to Africa.  But I digress.

I made the bag in one day.  The next day, I embroidered (I use that term loosely) the design, and then I searched high and low for weeks for the lucite rings which I never found.  Instead, I ended up at a department store and found a 'lovely' purse for $8.00 just so I could get the metal rings (that I did not want, but had to use):

Talk about a vision of  pleathery lovliness!  Oy - scary!  This is the ugliest purse on the planet.

I put the rings on, assembled the bag, and took my almost finished bag to the bathroom with my felting plunger (not to be confused with the other plunger) and my big plastic bucket.  Filled the bucket with hot, hot water and a little detergent and plunged until my right arm almost fell off.   When the pain got too intense, I used my left hand, then I stood in the tub over the bowl and I plunged like there was no tomorrow.  And what happened?

Nothing.  The bag looked the same coming out of the water as it did going in.  What could I be doing wrong? When is the stitch definition supposed to go away?  I let the bag dry and tried again a few days later.  Nothing!  OK, I'm doing something wrong.  I went online and reread the directions and decided it was the plunger's fault.

I let the bag dry and tried again.  And again.  And yet again.  Finally, I put the bag in a pillow case with a flip flop and really steaming hot water.  And when it was all done again, nothing!  Now I'm frustrated and ready to take the bag out into the street and drive over it with my car.

It's still going to be gifted, half baked though it is.  Ultimately, it's the thought that counts, right?

Only the bottom below the embroidery felted.  I give up!  Well, maybe I'll try one more time.

The other thing that happened is this: I had a conversation with my uncle who told me he's on Facebook and that I should give it a try.  I declined because with my luck I'd be stalked by the only axe murderer on the whole site.  So I decided to try Twitter instead - for a week or two.  Honestly, I think I'm headed for trouble because I didn't understand the instructions and I've already forgotten my password.

Happy knitting to you all!