Monday, January 29, 2018

Seasonally Inappropriate Knitting

I don't know about you, but I've had enough of winter and it's cold, cold wind. I hate being cold in my house because the furnace can't compete with the draft coming in the window. I hate having to wear layers and layers of clothes. I don't mind having Buffy snuggle up in my lap, though - she's such a sweetie and is warm and fuzzy and loving. I decided to make a couple of tops for spring, if it ever comes, while still procrastinating on the cables cardigan that would be better for the weather now. First is a top called Paloma from the book French Girl Knits. I've made this before, but it's rather quick and doesn't take much yarn. I had three skeins of sock yarn from a friend and it was just about enough - I had to use a bit of coordinating yarn for the bind-off and sleeve edges.
The other top was inspired by the yarn. I found this at Wal-mart when Khloe and I were finishing our holiday shopping. It was so pretty in the ball - all striped and calling to me. It's called Mandala by Lion Brand. This top took just one ball. I really like how it turned out.
I have found out that they make this in purples. Yay! I want to get maybe three balls to make a dress after I finish the couple projects going right now. I've wanted to knit a dress for a long time. It may even be this pattern. It was fairly easy to knit and would look nice with some length, I think. It has short sleeves, but I couldn't knit them and make the stripes work out, so my top is sleeveless, but maybe with more yarn the sleeves would work. I couldn't get a good picture of what the cats got for Christmas (after Christmas, but they don't mind). Last year we looked at cat trees at Pet Smart and they were so expensive! I love these kitties, but I can't really justify spending over two hundred dollars for a tree. One of my friends at work found one on for 40 dollars and showed me a picture. It was just what I wanted. I ordered one and Eric put it together while I was working. The cats were wary at first, but I sprinkled some catnip on the platforms and now they love it.
Here is Buffy in her new spot - right on top where she can oversee her kingdom. She loves being at face-level with us. Joshua is very healthy right now and races up and down like crazy. It gives him plenty of exercise but makes him eat like a horse. He's healthy, though, and that's all that matters after how sick he has been. You may have seen on instagram that we got a new washer and dryer. Our old ones were over fourteen years old and were starting to not work very well. The spin cycle made the washer sound like it was going to explode! We went to Menard's last Sunday and Eric let me choose which set we should get. It will take us a little while to get used to them, of course. I feel like such a grown-up for being excited about appliances. I didn't make any resolutions this year. I've made a list of things I want to make, but we all know that my attention span is like that of a hyperactive toddler with a sugar buzz. Most of the list is stuff that didn't get finished last year. We'll see how that goes. I'll share what I make, of course. I just need to clean out my sewing room and decide what to make first. Have a great week, guys. I hope lots of good things happen to you! See you soon.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Fast, Cheap, and Easy

Not me - this sweater I recently finished. The pattern is $5 in Paris, a free one that I've made before. I've been working on a cabled cardigan and it was annoying me, so I decided to make something simple and familiar. The yarn is Simply Soft. I think it cost maybe six dollars total. I still have enough of both colors for another project when I find one. So, what do you think?
I've taken a few days off to clean the house and do some baking. You can tell from the mess behind me that the cleaning isn't going well - I'm obsessed with Stranger Things and don't want to do much else but watch it over and over. I did bake some cookies, though, for Khloe and her friends to decorate after school. I'm going to try to persuade them to unwrap some chocolate kisses for peanut butter cookies. Recently I watched some makeup videos on You Tube. Apparently I do it all wrong! One girl talked about blending her eyeshadow for 40 minutes. My whole face takes less than 10 - I have better things to do. I still do mine how I learned when I was young, when disco was everywhere and color was in. I like it. I don't want over-painted eye brows and tons of contour and fake lashes (can't get them to work, honestly!). I've never wanted a "natural" look. I guess it's dependant on when you were young and what you latched on to. Well, I should go do something responsible. The laundry still doesn't wash itself. Darn it. I'll see you all later!

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mind Calming Activities

The past few months have been insane - fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, a terrorist attack (even if the news won't call it that)...and I was making myself crazy thinking about it. What can I do? Why don't I have any useful skills? How can so much happen all at once? What kind of crap person leaves their pet out in a hurricane? What can I do? What can I do? I had to do something for myself to settle down and not have a breakdown or something. One of the things that I love about knitting and crochet is the relaxing rhythm and knew that I needed something simple to work on. Khloe had bought a scarf on her birthday shopping trip (she's seventeen. Seven. Teen. I can't even believe it.) that I picked up - a bunch of thin knit strips tacked together in a lattice pattern and then fringed. It reminded me a bit of a pattern I'd printed out earlier in the summer, so I dug it out, grabbed a ball of yarn, and got to crocheting. The pattern was just what I needed - chain some, double crochet, chain one, double crochet, repeat to the end, chain four, turn, over and over until it was as long as I am tall, slip stitch the short ends together, and add fringe. Calming rhythm, pretty yarn, and I have a new infinity scarf!
I showed it to Khloe and she asked for a black one. I got out some yarn for it and, well, I was kind of worried about this second one. The yarn is acrylic and was kind of stiff to work with. After I'd finished, I tossed it in the washer and dryer with a load of laundry and it came out super soft and lovely. Yay!
Khloe is wearing it to school today since it's gotten cold all of a sudden (it was 80 degrees last week and almost freezing this morning) and asked if I could make one in burnt orange. By the time I had finished both of them my mind had really calmed down. I've donated to some charities, especially for the animals, and am trying to add a donation amount to my monthly budget for future chaotic events. The other thing that's been helping has a bit of a backstory. When I was about 13, Duran Duran released Rio. I loved that record so much and played the heck out of it. I knew every song by heart and sang them constantly (to myself only because people gave me a lot of crap when I sang...a-holes). I actually had quite a great record collection but it's gone because I had trusted someone who turned out to be quite untrustworthy. Anyway, I have driven a Kia Rio for sixteen years now and often sing Rio to her while we're driving. Last week I found a cheap cd of Rio and had to have it - and I still remember almost all of the words to all of the songs! Singing along loudly on my way to and from work has been very therapeutic and keeps me in a decent mood. I walk in smiling and get home with none of the stress or drama that had been bothering me. Eventually I will rebuild that amazing record collection...probably not the colored vinyl import EPs that cost a lot back then, but the rest of it. The 80s are back - did you see Bananarama on Graham Norton? I sang along to that, too! I'm off today and plan to spend some time in my sewing room finishing a project that's been slowly going for a few weeks. I should be back soon!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Finally A Weasley

As a Harry Potter lover, I've long wanted the knitwear from the movies, especially one of the sweaters that Molly makes the kids each year for Christmas. In January I decided on a yarn and started one and finally finished it last week.
I'm so happy with how it turned out - oversized and snuggly. The yarn is a wool blend and will be nice and warm this winter. The pattern wasn't hard, it was just a lot of flat stockinette stitch which bores be, so I put it aside a lot for more interesting things.
The pattern is from the book Charmed Knits. It's all items from or inspired by the movies. I've had it for nearly ten years and this is the first thing I've made from it. It won't be the last, though.
Next up, though, is a cabled cardigan. The pattern was gifted to me several years ago and I've finally decided on the perfect yarn. I'm making some baby hats for charity, too, and have an expecting coworker who I want to make something for. That's all for today. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Nineteen Years Later

You know how much I love Harry Potter. Did you know that today, September 1, is the day of the epilogue? It's the day that Harry takes his youngest son to Platform 9 3/4 for his first year at Hogwarts. To celebrate, I want to share some of my favorite read-along podcasts. Tales From Godric's Hollow is Matt, a long time fan, and Josh, a total newbie, reading through the series. Josh seriously hadn't read the books or seen the movies and had no idea what he was getting into. They have great discussions about the chapters (usually two per week) and have built quite a community of fans. They give away a prize every week, thanks to their patreon sponsors. I won a little dragon during Goblet of Fire! It's really cute. They just celebrated their anniversary with a fun, live you tube episode. The episodes are long (the latest was over three hours) but probably half of that is reading emails from listeners. Check them out for fun discussion and fresh eyes. Dear Mr. Potter is hosted by Alastair, who is (if I remember correctly) a college literature professor - or he was, he recently moved. He brings so much knowledge about novel writing and references to each chapter. His show is recorded during live you tube chats, so there's interaction with viewers about topics that come up. Listening to him makes me feel so much smarter. He also hosts There and Back Again, a Tolkien reread, which is also amazing. His episodes are usually about an hour and a half long, sometimes longer, but are worth it. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text is about finding spirituality in the books, chapter by chapter. Vanessa and Casper met at theology school and have such a great relationship. They are like brother and sister but get really deep in topics like forgiveness and love. The way Vanessa says "Hermione" makes me smile. Their episodes are short - about half an hour - but really make you think. I hope you check these out. Listening to them brings new dimension and perspective to the books for me and gives me a place to just geek out and be a fan. Let me know if you've found any that I should listen to! Alohomora!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Inspired By Stevie

Stevie Nicks is rarely far from my mind. Lyrics come out of my mouth randomly and I often have the urge to twirl as if draped with chiffon. I can't tell you how often I have a kid get frustrated with me dancing to no music - because Sara or Gypsy is in my head and they just can't hear it. I follow a couple of Stevie fan accounts on instagram and am treated to dozens of pictures every day, and, as you know, Stevie wears a shawl like no one else. I've read that she crochets, too, and an idea was ignited. I have a shawl pattern book from 1971 and decided to make one of them -
using some red yarn that I've had for ages. Mine isn't as full as the picture, but I really like it.
Yeah, I'm in jeans today. I've been feeling kind of down. Today is the last day of J. C. Penney in town. It's the latest in a long like of businesses that have closed up. This town seems to be dying. We even had a thrift shop close - that can't be a good sign. I've been moody, too, and I'm blaming it on the upcoming eclipse. I mean, if a monthly full moon can make people crazy, a full solar eclipse must make us insane...that's my excuse, anyway. Joshua has been trying his best to cheer me up. If I'm sitting, he's on my lap. I appreciate the effort, I must say. That's all for the end of July. Happy birthday, Harry Potter! Have a great week, everyone!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Socks With Stories

I haven't gotten any better with my time management - maybe when school starts back up I'll be able to make a schedule that will stick. I have made a few things to show you, but today I just have a couple of pair of socks that I've knit over the past few weeks. Sock story number one: a couple of months ago one of my Ravenclaw friends asked us in the group if we'd like some sock yarn as she was destashing. I said sure because I always have room for a couple of skeins and I knit a lot of socks. About three days later I was watching Ghostbusters (the new one - I love Holtzman and Patty so much) and enjoying a day off when I heard a thud on the porch. When I opened the door, I saw a giant box and wondered what Eric had ordered and if I had maybe bought something and didn't remember. Well, it was addressed to me and when I opened it, it was full of sock yarn. Full. Thirty-four skeins. I was floored. I couldn't stop looking at all of the beautiful colors and squishing it all. One skein didn't have a label, so I caked it up and picked a pattern and this is them:
The pattern is called Double Agent and was inspired by Snape, but the colors are so bright that the stitches don't show. They're so bright and cheerful! I have a nice-sized ball left to make a little something else or maybe a pair of footies. Sock story number two takes us a bit further back. Several years ago, when Khloe was about eight or nine, I gave her a big skein of plain yarn to dye up. She had a great time picking colors and made a very springy and light colorway. I had already made socks for my mom from it and the giant cake has been staring at me, waiting for more attention. Well, I got it out and started knitting, planning to overdye the socks when I was done because green and orange are not my colors in any way. I rewatched a documentary called Paris Is Burning while knitting one afternoon - it's about the drag balls in New York in the 80s and the birth of voguing and interviews many different people. I've watched it several times because it's so interesting to me and especially now knowing that RuPaul and his best friend Michelle were a part of that scene but not in the movie. As I was watching, it came to the part where we, the viewer, meet a young girl named Venus who is so tiny and sweet but tough and has huge dreams of getting married and having a family. It hit me that the yarn was the same colors as what Venus wears, so I decided to leave them green as a tribute to her tragic story - spoiler, she was murdered.
I didn't capture the greenness very well in the picture. It's more of a fresh leaf kind of color. The pattern is called Fawkes, more Harry Potter inspiration. The designer faked her own death to get out of some obligations and caused quite a stir in the knitting community a few years ago. I don't know if her actions ever caught up with her. Finally, a kitten update. We determined that her birthday is in the first week of July, so she's one now and has gotten huge.
She's a very healthy eater and loves stealing Joshua's food. I kind of have to prepare myself when I want to pick her up since she weighs at least twelve pounds now. She still has her sweet face, though. Eric recently got a smart phone and it's full of pictures of Buffy which Khloe and I think is hilarious. That's all for today. Have a great week and I'll see you again soon.