Sunday, September 30, 2007

Little things

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Lots of little stuff to talk about today...

Chemistry Two is going well, and I really am enjoying the class. It's nice to get "credit" for doing experiments, because without the labs for this course, the only chemistry I participate in is the reactions which take place when I clean our toilets, and when I burn our dinners...for which I don't really get credit...

I have done some little knitterly things, too. My seven year old wanted a pair of slippers, so as I was touring a yarn store in town (a place I'd never been before, called Off the Beaten Path), I ran across a basic slipper pattern/kit for half price, and combining the leftover yarn with some Heilo from my stash, I'll easily be able to make a pair of slippers for my five year old, too. My seven year old says they are really comfy... It's nice he didn't use the word "itchy" anywhere in his description of them -- a concern I always have when I knit for him...

I've had this felted purse for a few years, as it's one of the very first felting projects I made. I was using stuff exclusively from my stash, so I originally used white 1/4 inch wide elastic and a wood button I had on hand. This past week, however, I was at the fabric store, and I decided to see if there was a way to give this bag a little more pizzazz, so I found some round, black elastic (which is less obnoxiously visible), and a fun button, and it has made all of the difference. Not too exciting in the grand scope of things, but much more fun for me to carry around now...

I dug out my Sapporo again, and sewed the second sleeve in place (which took me all the way through an entire movie -- I'm very picky and slow about the finishing work), and it is a relief to have that out of the way. Is anybody else wondering if I will ever complete this? Next, I'll pick up stitches for the neckband.

I had to laugh at all of your comments regarding the weather on my last post. I had it wrong, as Mary Lou pointed out -- clearly, if I want the weather to stay warm, then I should put the summer clothes away. It's going to be quite warm again here today (upper 70's F), though the mornings are nice and cool, which I love. Yesterday morning, we went to a corn maze, and as we were going through it, more than once I mentally compared myself to a lab rat searching for the cheese. In spite of that, we had so much fun, and it didn't even seem like six acres...

If you are good at picking out projects given a list of yarn, then check out Allison's blog. She is celebrating her 200th post, and looking for a new project to make with things she already has on hand. There are prizes, including the possibility of baked goods, and if you ever read her blog, then you know what an enticement that is.

Oh, and my last little bit of excitement -- I've been invited to THE PARTY !!!! My name there is just like it is here -- "YarnThrower" -- and I've already made some of you my "friends", so I'll see you there! Of course, I have no time to actually input any of my projects...but now and then I sure am enjoying looking through what everybody else is doing!

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Thank you!!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

There is just nothing better than coming home and finding an unexpected treat in the mailbox!! Thank you!


What a wonderful surprise! And timely - most of the young mom's in my family have been requesting hats and socks for their kids, so I'll be putting the book of hat patterns to good use in the near future! I enjoyed the goodies that you picked up for me at Stitches - certainly things I would have picked up.

The last few weeks have been kind of crazy, but things are getting a little bit back to normal, as much as normal ever is. A few highlights:

Finished my nieces socks during another hospital stay with my dad - mom is modeling them.


However, she noted that one was noticeably shorter than the other. I started to rip out and make the second one longer, when it occured to me...."Have my niece try them on and see which fits best!" Which resulted in my getting to rip back the first sock and SHORTEN it - always easier!

And here they are being worn by Hayley.


Without pictures, but other things that I've been up to:

Canned 20 more pints of salsa.
Finished a baby hat for a gift. Cream cashmere yarn, basic roll brim hat with a knot on top!
Cast on a pair of "Falling Leaves" socks from the new Interweave Favorite Socks books - although I nixed the ribbing, and chose a picot-edge top.
Cast on a "Ribbons Baby Blanket" from Fiber Trends using leftover Dale of Norway Baby Ull from several baby projects.
Had a bit of a meltdown about the amount of baby knitting in the next nine months.
Picked and husked seed beans so that we will have them again next year.
Took a little yarn store trip to Knitting Today (it doesn't count as buying stuff if I just ordered it, right?? or put it on hold??)
Also went to D'Vine in Shipshewanna, which has a fine collection of yarn. I did buy some yarn with sequins to carry along in a little-girl hat....
Accidently ordered GORGEOUS sock yarn online, because I read a blog that said, "(Go buy his hand-dyed yarn. Go.)" so I did. Truly beautiful colors!
Didn't blog for three weeks because I just couldn't seem to put my thoughts together.
Decided to finish out the year without monthly goals, just for old-times sake.
Oh. Started a blog with my friend The Rebellious Pastor's Wife, focusing on our weight loss/health improvement goals. (Haven't posted much there either, but it's next on my to-do list!) Our blog can be found here.


I will endeavor to be more regular, as my life seems to be settling down a bit. (Yeah, I know, a sure sign that the whole thing is about to take a dip, a swerve and a couple of wild curves....)

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter!)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What are humans, anyway, without crying?

Greetings and Dear Cynthia,

With the title of this blog post, I'm not trying to get all philosophical on you. This is what my seven year old told my husband the other night as he was being sent to his room, for crying crying crying. He is not like this at school, but at home he has been crying seemingly incessantly, though he does break for meals. It is generally because something hasn't gone his way. The world is not catering to him, and he chooses to be upset by it. Anyway, I'm trying to teach him that things are just how they are sometimes, and we have to be flexible and resilient. AAUGH! His teacher told me the other day that he is a real sweetheart. I said, "That is so nice of you to say that," instead of what I was really thinking, "Who is this boy masquerading as my son, and can he come live at my house?" Anyway, I've said it before about parenting: If it doesn't kill me, it will make me stronger.

Similar mantra for my chemistry class. Lots of work, but I'm really enjoying it, too. I have a presentation to do tomorrow on Bupropion (Wellbutrin). Everybody in the class was assigned a different drug to study as part of our organic unit...

In knitting news, I continue working on the sleeve...
and the sock...
Can you contain your excitement? First sleeve just about halfway done. Thank you to Linda for your tip about the joining row when the hem is turned up. I decided to go with ribbing on this sweater, but for my next hemmed sweater, I'm going to try your idea for using a larger needle on the row in which the provisionally cast on stitches are worked along with the current stitches to secure the hem.

And finally, you know you're in Wisconsin when you could conceivably have the air conditioner and the furnace on during the same week. I've been trying to avoid both for the past couple of weeks. Today they are predicting a high temperature of 87 degrees F.... The only way to make the hot weather go away is probably to put the summer clothes away.....

Have a great Tuesday!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Change of plans

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

I can no longer say, "My four year old", because I don't have one of those any more. My dh totally accepted and conquered the challenge of creating a pancake shaped like the number "5" (and all I had to do was clean up everything afterward :-) He did a nice job, don't you agree?! Breakfast in bed for "my five year old".

Well, chemistry is taking up a lot of time which could otherwise be spent knitting. That doesn't stop me from knitting, but it is very slow-going. Last year, in September I started making the Hardangervidda sweater which I finished in time to give to dh for Christmas. This year, I picked a straight-forward stockinette sweater using luscious yarn (so, so soft), and I'm not sure I'm going to finish in time -- same gauge, much simpler design, very little "finishing" work -- I just don't have much time for it. ...And, the added detail that I think I'm going to start the whole thing over. Take a look at this photo:
I'm very concerned about the bottom folding up. The yarn seems very light, and I thought the hem would add a bit of weight, but it doesn't seem to be enough weight to get it to lie flat. Perhaps blocking it will help in the end, but with wear, I'm concerned that the bottom edge will still turn up. I do have a provision so that I could thread some elastic through the casing formed by the hem, but the more I think about it, I just don't really want to do that. And so, I decided to start on the second sleeve (first sleeve is about 1/3 done), except use K2P2 ribbing at the bottom edge instead of a hem, to see how it behaves. So far, so, I might just cast on for the body of the sweater again, starting with a couple of inches of K2P2 ribbing, and compare it with the hemmed version. I hate it when this happens, but the "nagging" voice in my head which has been getting louder that's saying, "it's going to turn up, it's going to turn up, etc", must be put to better to cut my losses now if there is a way to make it which I'll be happier with. Any words of wisdom out there? I'm all ears! This is a dk weight 100% alpaca yarn.

Anyway, both kids are enjoying school. My 5-year has been reading for a couple of years, as he picked it up on his own, and has been reading chapter books (Magic Tree House books) lately. His preschool teacher wasn't aware of that, so when he brought a toy over to her and showed her the words on the toy that said it was "made in China", she thought perhaps he was just guessing about that and by coincidence happened to be right. Later that morning, he read something else in the classroom, and she realized that he really can read. He's still very fixated on where things are made, especially how many of our products are made in China. I might have shared this story with you already.... He told me one day that there must be a LOT of people living in China. I asked him why he thought that. He said, "To make all of that stuff."

Car is in the shop today, getting new tires put on it. The current set have gone almost 75,000 miles, and it occurred to me that that is a lot of miles for a set of tires. One of them has a slow leak, and when I bent over to check what psi to inflate it to, I noticed the tread looked pretty low. Then I checked another one, and it looked the same. Then I realized that it's still the original set of tires, and instead of having the slow leak fixed, we really should buy a new set. So, yippee -- new tires. How very exciting. For piece of mind, though, the money is well worth it. Now, if I could only have the repair shop figure out why this vehicle keeps dying on me. Only when the engine has recently been sitting for a long time (so it is back to ambient temperature), and only if I don't really give it enough gas as I'm starting from a stop or completing a turn. The man at the car place says he believes me that it happens, but yet (and of course), they aren't able to replicate the failure. Perhaps if he had been with me when it happened twice as I was trying to get out of a parking garage yesterday...

Anyway, beautiful day here today! Truly God's country! Have I mentioned that I love fall?

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Parenting: If it doesn't kill me, it will make me stronger.

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

You are so ambitious in processing your harvest, and it all looks so yummy! And, sounds like almost all of your jars sealed well, too, so YAY! Your hard work really paid off!

First, some quick knitting content, because I don't have a lot of knitting to show for the past few weeks...and second, against my better judgment, I'm including some snapshots of my new haircut, too...

Here is a completed ankle sock made out of leftover yarn. It is toe-up, and I used 60% (instead of 50%) of the stitches to make the heel.I think the heel looks "large" because it is a contrasting color, and because I'm accustomed to looking at my other heels which are all a little bit smaller, and so it is somewhat obvious that I used more than half of the stitches for it, though it fits great and the casual observer would never even notice. Thanks to Debi for that tip for adding a little bit of room to my sometimes otherwise snug heels in my toe-up socks.

Here's a new sock I'm just starting for one of my friends:It is my first time using Trekking Yarn. My friend has feet which are a little bit bigger than mine. To be fair, she's also about a foot taller than me...

Here's the bottom of what is going to be a boring blog sweater which probably won't be done for MONTHS, the Alpaca Vee, made out of wonderfully soft alpaca yarn, and stockinette stitch all the way! It has hems at the lower edges. On the body of the sweater, I knit the first few rounds back and forth after casting on provisionally, then joined to work in the round, then standard "hem protocol" of knitting some rows, working one row purl, then knitting some more until it is time to turn up the hem. By knitting the first few rows back and forth, after I turned up the hem (catching in my provisional stitches along with the stitches of the current row), I ended up with a little "hole" on the inside so that I could insert a length of elastic, or a rip cord, into the "casing" formed by the hem, if needed. I know that once in a while, the bottom of a sweater can flare out a little bit, and my dh does not like that as a design "feature", so if I do end up having that issue on this sweater (and preliminary indications are that I won't), I'll be prepared to easily fix it.

And, here is my haircut, which my kids thought looked really weird, though now, after about a week, they've decided they like it after all.... Pictures taken without the benefit of a bathroom mirror, and I'll add the disclaimer that it is the middle of the night and I'm blogging right now because I couldn't get to sleep, and by the way, this is the first time I've noticed I've got some gray (which could explain the expression on my face), so I guess the camera doesn't lie...or maybe it's just the reflection from the flash...yeah, or maybe I'm delusional. Side view:
And a view from the front -- what I look like under the previously discussed conditions except with the added "flash ten inches from my face and I'm looking right at it" affect: In all honestly, I think I look better in my drivers license photo, though my eyes are open here, so its a step up from my high school senior pictures. My seven year old has cowlicks, and just now I figured out why...

Anyway, let's just say that the end of summer has been a bit of a challenge. My kids have utilized FIGHTING INCESSANTLY as a means of combating boredom, and it's taking it's toll. One day, I decided that, since they seem to have enough energy for slamming doors and stomping on the floors, I would help them channel their energy differently....perhaps more productively? having them run laps around the nearby park. At first, they did not like this. In fact, shortly after I had given them each their "lap assignment", and as I was taking care of business in the bathroom, my four year old stood at the doorway and calmly told me, "I **definitely** want a nicer mommy." He and his brother then proceeded to discuss the merits of living in a different family, how things would be so great with a much **nicer** mommy, etc. In any event, we all went to the park and ran laps (and I ran along), and by the end of it, we were all enjoying ourselves. So then I told them, if they want a different mommy, that would be okay. I'd pack up my bags that night and go stay someplace else, and perhaps they would find somebody who didn't make them eat their vegetables or try to get them to behave. My four year old stepped up then and told me that it would be okay if I stayed at "our house" that night, **really**, and he does like me, **really**. My seven year old said, "Yeah, it doesn't matter to me."

And my little "baby" turns five on September 4th. He has requested **a** pancake for breakfast, brought to him in bed, and shaped like the number 5. I guess it's a good thing he has so much confidence in his parents' ability to figure out how to do that? My dh has accepted the challenge. I'll definitely try to get a picture of that!

I'm sorry I haven't been posting very often. It's been a crazy August, and I won't bore you with all of the details, but I've been out of town three times, there's the getting my kids ready for school thing, and I also started another class last week (College Chemistry II).... But, school starts for my kids this week, and I am hopeful that our schedule will settle into more of a steady state to allow me more time to visit with you via this blog.

Happy September!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Let it snow!

Greetings and Dear Laura:

This year I shared a garden with one of my brothers and his wife. I didn't have any home-canned tomatoes last year, and I really missed them. They said that if I'd help with the garden, we could plant enough to share. We had a big crop of cucumbers, and a few green peppers. Most of the beans died - we are keeping all the rest for seeds. These are our "family heritage beans." And we have tomatoes! Oh my!

The first tomatoes arrived just as I was getting back from Louisville and my dad's surgery. I did can 12 pints that weekend, with help from the Rebellious Pastor's Wife, but I determined that my share from that would be for my mom. I just couldn't get to the next batch at all, so RPW canned them and we got a few quarts from that. So my goal for this weekend was 24 pints of tomatoes and 12 pints of salsa.

Friday we picked (3) 5-gallon buckets of tomatoes for me, and I didn't get to them until Sunday. That's all I did all afternoon and evening - mom helped - and I finished up mixing and canning the salsa this morning.



30 pints of tomatoes (29 sealed) and 15 pints of salsa!!

I've got canned tomatoes and frozen corn, peaches and strawberries. Plenty of wool. I'm ready for winter - bring it on!!

Keep knitting!

Cynthia (aka Designated Knitter)