Friday, December 25, 2009

A Gift For You

***NOTE***  I would like to thank the people who left comments letting me know that the pattern link wasn't working.  I believe I've got it fixed now, but please do let me know if there are any problems.  And if you run into any problems on the pattern, let me know and I'll do my best to fix any errors - your feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Another sock pattern is now available.

Jenny Socks (pdf)

These are the socks I designed after Jenny suggested I should enter the Think Outside the Sox Contest.  I didn't win, but I did end up with some socks I love.  You can read more about them here.


Happy knitting!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Chicken and Rice Soup

I love soup.  I think it is probably the most perfect food ever (except, maybe, for bacon).  And so, I give you...

Chicken and Rice Soup

1 lb. chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
1 small onion, diced
3 large stalks of celery, diced
2 T. olive oil
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, sliced
1 1/2 C. cut corn
1 C. uncooked white rice
6 C. chicken stock
2 C. water
1 T. dried parsley
1 t. dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the oil.  Add in the onion and celery and cook until softened, stirring regularly to keep from browning.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.  Add in the chicken and cook thoroughly.  Add in the carrots, corn, rice, chicken stock, water, parsley, oregano, and salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until the rice is tender.  Taste to check seasoning, adding salt and/or pepper if needed.  Serve with crackers or bread.


NOTE:  Since I personally prefer thicker, stew-like soups, I added to the boiling soup 1 T. cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 C. cold water about 3 min. before serving, cooking and stirring 'til thickened. 

Friday, December 11, 2009

Arizona Thermal

On a yarn crawl through Tucson about a year ago, I stopped in Kiwi Knitting and picked up several balls of sock yarn. Among them was 2 balls of Crystal Palace Yarns Maizy Print (I don't remember the colorway, and threw away the ball band before I had it written down somewhere).

In September, I decided it was time to knit this yarn up, but couldn't decide on a pattern for it, so I cast on without one. Once I had my usual toe done, I started fiddling around with different stitch patterns. I wanted something with ribbing for a good fit, but not just plain. I tried a rib that was K1, P1 for 2 rows and K on the 3rd row. It was okay, but really just looked like basic ribbing - not very interesting. Then I noticed the pattern on the wrong side of the fabric. It looked a bit like thermal undergarments, and wasn't boring. Perfect! I now had the stitch pattern I wanted, so I ripped it out and began anew, being careful to take notes.

After about 1 1/2 months of working on them off and on, they were finished.

And another 1 1/2 months later, I've finally gotten the pattern all typed up and ready to go. If you're interested you can download it here.

Happy knitting!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Getting Our Christmas Spirit On

We don't normally spend much time at parades or community events, mostly because I hate large crowds. This year, however, I decided to stop being such a Scrooge and took Jay to the Christmas parade. The ceremonies start with the lighting of the city Christmas tree, and then, when it's dark, the brightly lit floats start down the parade route. Of course, I forgot to bring my camera, but as the parade was almost over, I remembered the camera on my phone. The picture quality isn't great, but you'll get the idea. And you know, we both had a good time.

All of these pictures are of emergency vehicles, some from our city, some from the small towns nearby.

In addition to all the lights, they had displays that included Christmas trees or typical Christmas vignettes.

Most of the floats and vehicles had people walking alongside them, some were handing out little items.

One of the churches was handing out glow sticks, which Jay was kind enough to display for me.

Just out of sight to the right we had several EMT's doing a demonstration of some sort. It was hard to tell exactly what was going on, as they were surrounding an empty gurney, but mabye it was just the angle I was viewing it from.

This truck had signs on the sides reminding us of the things we need to do to have a safe and fire-free holiday, like keeping our Christmas trees watered.

It was pulling this float that shows what happens when one fails to follow the safety guidelines. Though it's difficult to see clearly, the little house on the float is on "fire".

Finally, along came Santa! His appearance was greeted with cheers and applause, then the mad rush to be the first to our vehicles began. We made good our escape, then stopped and picked up dinner. And maybe we'll try it again next year, too.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole

For the November 2009 edition of the Knit Picks catalog, I was fortunate to be able to knit the Tibetan Clouds Beaded Stole by Sivia Harding. Knit with fingering weight yarn, this stole is perfect for keeping the autumn and winter chill at bay. Lightly beaded, the stole starts with the center panel, then the sides are knit one at a time.

The yarn selected for this project was Gloss (70% Merino Wool, 30% Silk) in the Kenai colorway. And I got to select the beads to go with it.
They are 6/0 glass beads that I picked up at Michaels.

The center panel is created by starting in the center and repeating the pattern 4 times, making a perfectly symmetrical square. Then 2 of the sides are bound off, keeping live stitches on the other 2 for the side panels.

The sides are identical, featuring a lovely beaded brocade and feather and fan.

When finished the stole is 21" wide by 74" long; a bit too long for me to be able to photograph it all at once.

I would also like to recommend the book the pattern is found in, The Knitter's Book of Wool. Clara Parks has done a fabulous job explaining all things wool - and why it matters. And the patterns offer up something for everyone. You can read an excellent synopsis of it here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Already?!?

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

We were fortunate to have my dad and sister spend the holiday with us - my sister just for the holiday and weekend, my dad for a little over a week. It was lovely to see them, as always.

I'm now trying to get back into the swing of things and ready for Christmas at the same time. I can't believe it's already December! Here's a little link-y to help all you crafty people into the spirit of the season.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Actual Knitting Content (With Pictures!)

I've finally got the pictures of some of my recent finished objects uploaded, so, of course, I had to share them.

Janelle, one of my Knit Wits friends, had a baby boy a couple of months ago. His name is Connor, and he is a cutie! To celebrate his arrival, I made him this sweater:

It's the Cables and Textures Baby Sweater from the Beautiful Baby pattern book. I modified it slightly by not doing the garter ridge stripes on the sleeves or the sides of the sweater, and made it with Patons Beehive Baby fingering weight in blue - a much finer yarn than the pattern calls for. I am pleased with the way it came out, the pattern was well written with no errors, and when paired with a onesie and some corduroy pants will be adorable.

After completing a couple of larger projects and the sweater above, I was wanting a very quick knit for some instant gratification. I also had a ball of Borroco Zen in Gochu (8223) that I had been given when I was working on the Oddball Charity Blanket, and I didn't know what to make with it. In the end, I decided on a pattern I've long wanted to make: Calorimetry.

Although it probably wasn't the best yarn choice for the pattern, being a cotton/nylon ribbon yarn, it definitely served it's purpose of instant gratification knitting. I cast it on late one evening, and completed it the next afternoon. The button is from my button stash.

The other big finished project for me was the Galveston Shawl. I finished the knitting on this a while ago, but needed to get it blocked and the ends woven in for me to count it as completed. As I had decided to make the large size, this posed a bit of a problem because I normally block larger items on a queen-sized bed in the guest room, but the pattern listed the finished measurements of this size as 75" square. It looked like a bedspread laid out over the guest bed, but lacking another option at the time, I blocked it as best I could. Though the edging doesn't look as good as I would like, it worked out pretty well.
It's knit from the center out, with the sides being divided by the "X" you see in the picture above. There are 4 distinct lace patterns, and 2 others that are similar to the patterns they are nearest to.

Even spread out on my king sized bed, it still is a close fit. I do plan to take advantage of the fact that it does all fit on there early one morning so that I can get all of the definition that blocking provides, yet still have a place to sleep at night. The yarn is merino/silk handspun in the Pewter colorway, and the finished project is warm and very nice to wrap up in.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day 2009

To all of the men and women who are serving
Or have ever served in our Armed Forces,
Thank you

And may you be blessed.

The history of Veterans Day

Shoe Love

I love shoes. Not all shoes of course, just the cutest/prettiest/best shoes.

I also love bargains. Not the discount-on-the-stuff-that-really-wasn't-worth-its-original-price-so-now-I'm-paying-what-it's-actually-worth kind, but the I-can't-believe-I'm-getting-this-for-so- little-because-it-truly-was-worth-its-original-price bargains.

And now I've found a store that allows me to combine my two loves.


You see, a couple of weeks ago I had to buy a new quilt/bedspread/comforter for my bed, because Gypsy decided that the one I had was just a giant chew toy for her. Since Scott hadn't been thrilled with the last one (he called it "damn puffy") I decided to go with something a little different and got a quilt.

Once that was done I decided I'd just check out the purses (because I love them too) to see if they had any must-haves (they didn't), which led me to check out the scarves and accessories (which I decided I could make), which reminded me to check out the shoes. And I am so glad I did.

I found...the clearance aisle.

And I had a coupon.

So I was able to pick up these adorable shoes for only $9. Yes, NINE dollars. They were originally $55, marked down to $12 with the coupon dropping the price another $3.

I didn't see any others I felt I must have, so I left, only to be back there just a few days later at the request of Jay, who has decided that the fedora is his signature hat and he needed another.

Since I was already there, I decided to check out the shoe clearance aisle again.
I found these $70 Vera Wang shoes marked down to $7.

I couldn't believe it. And the best part is that even though both pairs are sporting 3 1/2" heels, they are surprisingly comfortable. Not that I'm saying I'd run a marathon in them, or even go on a marathon shopping spree while wearing them, but an average day spent in them IS doable.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Thank You

Thank you for the lovely gift;
You didn’t have to do it.
You have a good and gracious heart,
But then, I always knew it.

I love this, and I think of you
With fondness and with pleasure;
The gift is great, but even more,
It’s your thoughtfulness I treasure.

By Joanna Fuchs

I wanted to say thank you to all of the lovely people who did so much to make me feel special on my birthday. Your love and friendship are gifts I will always treasure, and because of you I feel blessed abundantly.

Thank you.

Krystal Acres Awesome Alpaca Yarn in brown from the lovely Topaz, Berroco Comfort Sock in Dunedin 1814, and a set of Hiya Hiya 9" circular knitting needles in size US 1 1/2 (2.5 mm) from my wonderful in-laws, Mike and Pam.

Mini Doily Design by Patricia Kristoffersen, crocheted by my wonderful friend Chris.

A golf towel custom embroidered by my wonderful friend Ruby.

A Ping G15 driver, the choice of which was mine, but whose purchase was made possible by my wonderful mother-in-law, Sue, and my wonderful husband and son, Scott and Jay.

The gifts are lovely and greatly appreciated - almost as much as you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Allocation of Resources

I've been finding lately that time really is a finite resource. Not that it hasn't always been, or that I haven't realized it before now, but rather that this resource seems to be stretched more thinly than ever lately.

And all of that to say simply that I haven't been able to make the time to post regularly like I had planned to.

So what's eating up my time? Well, rather a lot actually.

I've been working on some knitted gifts, projects for Knit Picks, sock designs - which I hope to be uploading to the sidebar soon, and some lovely lace. I've also finished some projects, some of which I can't yet talk about, but a couple that I can. The Galveston Shawl is done, blocked (mostly), and the ends are woven in. It also, happily, goes very well with both my new and old favorite dresses. The Arizona Thermal socks are also completed, and I hope to be doing a post about them when I post the pdf. I also made a Calorimetry as a relaxation project after finishing a couple of the larger projects I'd been working on. Photos on all of these to come later.

In addition, my husband and I recently celebrated 16 years of marriage. We decided to go big this year and stayed at a local resort for the golf package. We also included Jay in the festivities, and were even able to bring Gypsy along.

The two October birthdays we celebrate were quieter family affairs this year, but very enjoyable. Mine was filled with lots of fiber-y goodness and golf, which was just what I wanted, and Jay got all golf goodness, which is just what he'd wanted, so everyone was happy.

I've also been participating in the 52 in 52 challenge this year, and found myself falling a bit behind. That situation has now been remedied, however, and I am even a little ahead now.

Everything else continues to move along at its usual hectic pace, so at least I've got some consistency in that. Now if only I could find the brakes to slow this crazy train a little all would be well.

I'll keep searching.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Happy Birthday Jay!

He Has Lost His Baby Ways

Not long, alas! Not long; the mother-heart
Knows well how quickly she will have to part
With all this wonder; she who tries each art
To lure him on; the first to coax and praise
Each added grace; then first in sore amaze
To mourn that he has lost his baby ways!

~Alice Wellington Rollins

Thursday, October 1, 2009

SWTC Warehouse Sale

Last weekend (Friday and Saturday), SWTC had its annual warehouse sale. Of course, I had to go. They had a selection of their lovely yarns on sale for $10-$20 per bag. I didn't get some of everything, but I did make quite a haul.

When I went last year, I fell in love with the Craft yarn from the Vickie Howell Collection. It is a blend of cotton and milk fiber, and is quite soft. It was included in the sale again this year, so I picked up 5 bags.
Craft in Sandi (burgundy), Adina (black), and Carol (white).

I also found myself unable to resist picking up some Therapi. There were only these 2 colors available, and I usually don't use these colors, but it is so nice that I had to get it anyway. It is a blend of Bowlder (Jadite) fiber, fine wool, and silk. The color on the label didn't match the colors on the website, so I'm just calling these Mustard and Terracotta.
Therapi in "Mustard" and "Terracotta"

I also picked up a bag of Rock from the Vickie Howell Collection in Jonas (a fantastic blend of blue, gray, and black) at the request of Jay, who I very recently taught to knit. He's working on a scarf with it, but also requested one of the bags of Craft in Carol. Of course I said yes.
Rock in Jonas and Craft in Carol

Though I didn't get any, they also had Gianna, Vegas, Inspiration, some novelty bamboo, and some single balls (no bags) of Love.

In the end, I got 8 bags of yarn - that's 80 balls - for the amazing price of $1/ball.
The entire haul - Craft, Rock, and Therapi

I love this sale.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Raspberry Wheat Ale Messenger Bag

I was very fortunate to be able to knit the Raspberry Wheat Ale Messenger Bag from Pints and Purls for Knit Picks Fall 2009 catalog. The bag was knitted with Wool of the Andes in Dune Twist, and knit up fairly quickly on size 6 needles. The pattern calls for larger needles, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get gauge with anything larger. I seem to have become a bit of a loose knitter when I wasn't looking.

This would be a perfect knitting bag. It is large enough to hold a sweater, and the pockets would keep everything well organized.

The bag is knit in pieces and sewn together before felting, with the back pocket being sewn in after felting. I love the ribbon detail! Plenty of room in that pocket for a pattern and some accessories.

There are also 2 side pockets that are left unfelted and are sewn in at the end. These would be a great place to store needles, scissors, or other small accessories.

I really like this bag, and think I will have to knit one for myself. Pink and green will be the perfect combination for me.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Back to Normal?

Things have been quite hectic around here lately. School started for my ds the day after Labor Day, so I was in a bit of a tizzy to get everything ready before then. I'll have to admit that I didn't quite get the classroom finished (I still have a couple of maps to hang), but enough to get the ball rolling. Last year Jay's least favorite subject was math (Algebra I, if you're interested). Well, so far this year, he has declared that his 2 favorite subjects are science (as always), and ... MATH! I couldn't be happier. We've also been blessed with the friendship of a math major, and he's willing to patiently answer all of Jay's questions and to discuss math with him for hours. Jay LOVES it. And our microscope is the favorite tool that we are using this year; it was well worth the investment, and I think every home should have at least one.

On the fiber front, I am spinning up some lovely maroon wool that I purchased at Tempe Yarn and Fiber. I'm not sure what type of wool it is, but it is fairly soft and spins quite easily. I'm aiming for a dk to worsted weight 3-ply, and so far that's what I'm getting.

I've finally finished knitting the Galveston Shawl, but haven't yet blocked it. It is large, lovely, and deserving of its own post, which it will get when I've blocked it.

A few of my friends have been busy having babies, so I've decided it's high time I got busy knitting something for them. I'm making the Cables and Textures Pullover from Leisure Arts #3325, Beautiful Baby out of Patons Beehive Baby in Baby Blue for the one that is almost 2-months-old. I'm making the 6 mo. size, figuring that he'll still be able to wear it when I'm done that way. I have a bit of a cushion for the rest of them since they aren't yet born, so when I've finished this one I'll cast on for the Cables and Checks pattern.

I'm also designing another pair of socks. I've not been able to settle on a name yet, but the texture reminds me of thermal underwear, so I've been calling them my Long Underwear Socks. We'll see if I can't come up with something better. If anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them. :)

I've also finally cast on the Alpine Lace Scarf from Victorian Lace Today. I love the yarn (Alpaca with a Twist's Fino), and the pattern is beautiful, but I think I must be a little laced out right now because I haven't gotten much beyond the first edging pattern repeat AND I haven't even had any desire to knit it. (Sigh). Maybe it's the weather.

The Fall issue of Knitty has come out, and I find myself quite enamored with the Girl Friday cardigan. I feel certain that I will have to have this be the next project I start. I'm just trying to decide whether to make it with SWTC's Craft or Love from their Vickie Howell Collection. What do you think?