Monday, December 31, 2007

This Is The End-Bring In The Beginning!!

I haven't got a lot to say. Just that it is the last of 2007. I am a real party pooper, and I will be in bed asleep by 10p.m. I always think I will try to stay awake until midnight, but I never do.

Thanks to all the readers of my new little blog. I have certainly enjoyed reading other people's blogs, and I have certainly found a lot of inspiration in all of them. There is a big community out there. With this communication device, we can certainly share with each other so much easier than before.

And I think that this has been my focus and my reasons for starting a blog. I want to reach out to the community. I have always enjoyed my immediate knitting community that is in my physical reach. But to find so many new people to say howdy to is overwhelming. All I know to do is say THANKS!

I was waiting for one of my seniors today at a local drug store. After leaving the restroom, I passed by the card section. There was a card with a western style saloon with sheep in different stages of intoxication. There was a sign on the wall that said: Attention all sheep dogs. No herding while intoxicated. Inside it said "Many tanked ewes."

I can't add a thing to that. See you next year.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Buzz Word- Confidence!

Okay. I think I am getting a little bit of understanding with this knitting stupidity thing.
1. I am a competent knitter.
2. I am tired a lot at night when I want to knit.
3. I have gotten into bad, bad, bad habits of doing mindless, little projects.
4. I have gotten into bad, bad, bad habits of picking out patterns and trying them out because they are neat, or pretty, or something. Very little thought other than my emotional response.
5. And I am going to go back to basics again and start where I need to start.

So for all the newbie knitters who chance upon this little blog. Learn the basics. Learn how knitting works. Learn to read beyond the patterns. Have confidence that you can do whatever you want to do.

Two blogs to look at: http://Modeknit/Knitting Heretic and http://DonnaDruchuna'sBlog.

It is becoming increasing hard to be a good designer. Our culture relies on designers to steer knitters to the front. But there is a real business of how to get to be a designer, published, and to have a following. There is also the part about the tech writers who write the text for the books. Sometimes there are mistakes. Sometimes the instructions are lousy. Sometimes it just doesn't make sense. That is where the basics, common sense, and confidence come in. If the knitter knows the basics, he or she can work through the problem areas. Sometimes we have to slog through and just do the best that we know how to do.

In the olden days, there were no written patterns like we have now. People just knew the basic instructions of how to make a pair of socks, a sweater, a hat, etc. The fun was knowing patterns and applying them to the basic pattern. It required a little bit of math and thinking. I think that is why I went back to the basic 1940's sock pattern when I knit the Plain Men's Socks for my friend and neighbor.

Anyway, I am still looking through the books, but I think I am getting a handle on this now. I am a competent knitter, I am a competent spinner, I am a competent dyer, I am a competent crocheter, I can tat so-so, and I still know how to design and do needlepoint. And I also sew and piece quilts. And I do a bunch more things. I just have to have confidence in my skill level. I am not a master in any of these skills, but I am good at these skills.

On that note, I am going to go outside now. I need to feed Buddy, the horse, and walk a little bit outside before it gets too late.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

It's Almost The End For 2007

This is the hat. You cannot see the swirls of holes. It is quite warm and toasty, but I needed more length around the ears. Maybe I will add a few rows there.

I have been knitting mitres on this end of the humongous blanket. It is a lifetime project-literally. I can knit little squares for days-as I have this week-and it doesn't look like anything is done. At this rate, it could become a scarf instead. Hmm-that's an idea!

This is a hideous attempt to photo the socks I have started. I knit a picot edge. I love it. But I cannot get a photo. Sorry!

And this is my latest spinning project. It is Icelandic wool-cleaned but not carded. It was gifted to me, and I promised the woman I would do two skeins of wool as a gift back to her. Well-I did one skein and never completed the second. So before this year is ended, I will complete that promise.


The little tiny library in my closest town is part of a county library system. I occasionally look up the names of books I am interested in, and put in a reserve. We have a county-wide system, and sometimes it takes a week or two to get to my little library. Well, I have never put in a generic title of "knitting". Last weekend I did that, and came back with pages of book titles. Today I went to my library and picked up seven of the ones I reserved. What a deal!! There is one I have never heard of -No-Pattern Knits by Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer. It is simple modular techniques, and it looks interesting. The rest are books that most of us have or want to have. I only like one or two things in some books, and I cannot afford to buy the whole book. So I am going to study and read and get a handle on this latest fiasco I have been through.

I am glad the latest weather skirted by us. I am in an elevation that I got a dusting of wet snow yesterday on my truck. But we have a coupla more fronts moving in that look COLD! I am not a great big fan of cold, cold, cold weather. I like to visit places that are cold, but not to live in. I can't imagine not having my Spring around Easter.

Happy Saturday! Enjoy the day!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

It's Almost Christmas!

Well, I just hit the wrong button and it published. Oh, my, aren't we just a little touchy this morning. You silly computer.

I finished a little hat. It has holes that spiral around. I could not get a good picture. I used the same handspun yarn that I made that little bag. You only notice the holes and spiral when it is on the head. And I am not able to photo my own head in such a way that it shows. And off the head it looks like a blobby hat.

We got the cold front that came through the middle part of the U.S. Fortunately I am just south enough that I got a dusting of snow. Today it is mostly gone. There is wind, but the sun is strong enough to melt some of it. The shady parts and the north part of the property is still dusted. My girlfriend in Kansas called to ask if we had the snow yet. At that time it was just raining with occasional frozen parts. She told me they had 5 inches, possibly more. Whew!

My younger brother's birthday was yesterday-Solstice. I remember very well the day he came home from the hospital. I was three years old. My older brother and I stayed in the Studebaker and waited. When I saw my parents coming out of the hospital, I noticed my mother was carrying something wrapped up. When she got into the car, I peered over the back of the front seat. I asked, "What is that?" My mother said, "This is your new brother. Santa Claus brought him for you." "Well, I didn't ask for that. You can just take it back." So 56 years later, he is still here.

My parents also answered a question by older brother, age 6. "What are you going to call it?"
When told what the name of my brother was, my older brother said, "You can't call it that. That's your names." My parents were so clever to name him after themselves. My father had been a junior, and he didn't want a junior. It seems strange that now we have four generations of Stephens, but only the middle two have the same middle name.

Oh, well, I am spinning and sitting in the sun as it comes in the window. It has been very relaxing. I finished my green skein yesterday, blocked it, and it is packed away with the others.

As far as knitting this weekend, I am going to stick to my afghans. I need to add more mitres and make some more of the Lizard Ridge blocks. I can manage this. But I am not going to try anything new for a while.

Have a happy Sunday! Enjoy the day and remember-Christmas is almost over! No more buying, no more anxiety, and no more "oops-I forgot ____".

It's Almost Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happiness Is............

When I was much, much younger, I learned to watch sunsets with my family members. But I always turned around to look at the opposite sky in the East to see the reflections of the colors. This is what I saw last night as I was going home. Isn't that amazing?
I have been getting a few Santa Clause surprises this week. I also got my full-spectrum light this week. Of course, it has been really sunny, warm, and nice all week. I will give a report when it is dark and gloomy out.

My friend CJ sent me a wonderful book called Andean Folk Knits by Marcia Lewandowski. Her husband accidentally ordered two of these books, so she sent the extra to me. Yeah! It is filled-and I mean filled-with history, lore, and explanations for the culture of the peoples of the Andes. We forget that their history did not begin with the Inca. That was just one part of their culture. I love it.

Also my seniors that I see regularly have been giving me cake, cookies, preserves, pecans, candles, and I can hardly stand it. It reminds me that I guess all those years of giving to the elderly as a child has come full circle. Of course, my brother always reminds me to look in the mirror. I forget that I am almost 60 myself. But I am truly blessed.

I missed the Christmas party at work today that was given to the seniors. I was too busy driving folks around. I missed Santa Clause. What a bummer! I heard they had a big,big meal with ham and stuff. I would have had to have a nap if I had eaten that.

I am almost finished with my latest endeavor to knit. I will include a picture when it is done.

I want to finish this little note with this quote:

We forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something we don't have, but rather recognizing and appreciating what we do have.
-Frederick Koenig

As we finish out this Christmas week, just relax. Christmas is not about the perfect gift we can give someone. We already have the perfect gift within ourselves.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Thoughts on Knitting Disasters!

I have been doing a lot of thinking today about this knitting thing! It is crazy that I found a UFO in a box that is an alpaca sweater with cables and complicated knitting going on. I have no idea at all where the pattern is for this thing. But I am looking at it and wondering when I did this. And why didn't I finish this? I have moved probably a minimum of 4 or 5 or even 6 times since its conception. I know it was before alpaca was boon, and it was very costly to buy. I bought it at the Taos Wool Festival, and I met the alpaca farmer and met one of the alpacas. I have a cardigan that my grandmother made with the same yarn-cables and all. So now I have to unravel the whole shebang and block the alpaca yarn and do something else with it.

I have also been thinking about New Year's. I don't make a list of resolutions, but I try to set goals for the New Year. Things I would like to do for the year. It is hard to explain, because verbally it sounds like the typical resolution-thing. But this is not the "I want to lose 25 pounds in the year of 2008" thing. It is "how can I make a difference" kinda thing. It sounds stupid.

Anyway, I think I am going to go back to basics again. I am going to study a technique-like cables. I am going to make a ton of swatches. I want to understand how they work. I want to understand the math part of it. I am not going to worry about being Garment Challenged.

I want to study cables and fair isle again. I mean-I have been knitting since I was 5 years old. I was still knitting when knitting wasn't cool. But suddenly nothing seems to be working. I have got to re-group. My father would say "You've got to circle the wagons and reassess how you're going to get out of this mess."

So Knit 101 here I come. I think I've got to buy a coupla books for this. But I have a plan. Do you?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

First Snow!

It's not much-but it is first snow!
Who gives a hoot about first snow? You won't let me go after the birds! They are easy pickings right now! Humph!!

I am sorry there is not much knitting news. I am thoroughly disgusted that everything I knit is AWFUL! If the project I am knitting now is ok, I'll show you a picture. But otherwise-it may be cats for a while. My girlfriend that is new (and going strong) with socks says it is because I keep trying to do such weird things! Maybe-but I don't think so.

I love first snow! Too bad it wasn't enough to use my cross-country skis around the pasture. Maybe next time.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Early AM Photos

Mom---Mo-om---turn off that damn alarm clock!!

What does a guy have to do to get the light out of his eyes around here?

AWWW! That's better! ZZZZZZZZZZZ

I couldn't pass up this photo moment this morning. Normally he is just a big lump under the covers! I have never seen him like this before. Really weird!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Just A Little Note!

1. My LYS (Handheld Knitting) has finished with the yearly calendar. It has color photos this year! Really nice! Good kid and cat photos!
2. I got a call from a coworker wanting to ask if I know how to make candy! I said, "Sure." So she asked some simple questions, and asked for suggestions.
3. I took the flag down at work last week-before the yucky weather set in-and starting folding the flag correctly after handing one end to another coworker. Everyone was amazed that I knew how to fold the flag. Doesn't everyone know how to fold a flag? Isn't flag etiquette taught to children any more? Are elementary schools using flag patrols any more?
4. It hasn't stopped raining for two days now.
5. Despite the weather, it seems there was a crowd at the LYS yesterday for the afternoon Last Minute Gifts event. And there was a goodly crowd for Knit Group when I left at 6pm tonight. I had all the intentions of getting home before dark. I hate going to the barn with a flashlight.
6. There seems to be a lot of dead possums on the road lately.

Sorry-I had to stop to yawn. It is time for bed!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Where's My New Lamp?

First this is the little bag I finished a while back for a friend. I wanted to show the little button I used. Isn't it just the cutest thing? I lined it with a material that was tans and cream that looked like stones. I knit it from handspun that was dyed with walnut. I blended a little bit of mohair that was dyed pink to give a little kick to the browns. I included a small pair of scissors, a needle holder with some darning needles for sewing seams, and some really cute markers. This was the nightmare called an oven mitt for a giant. I cannot believe it grew and grew and grew. By midnight Friday night I was listening to my audiobook and really sickly aware that this thing could not actually shrink enough. Look how it fits the top of my washing machine!!!!
So here is the transformed oven mitt that became a door ornament! I mean-how many people could possibly want an oven mitt door ornament? Well,it went to a friend's house last night as a hostess gift! With the artificial flowers!

So, this is really a serious thing! What has happened to my ability to knit? This is so awful!

I want my new spectrum light to hurry up and get here. It has been cloudy for three days, drizzly, and tonight it is threatening to turn into frozen precipitation. Friday night I piled up in bed with my book on tape, the hot water bottle under the covers, my two cats, and my knitting. I. at least, finished this awful project. Maybe I should give it up for a while!

Does anyone else look around the house and realize that things are just out of control!?! I was thinking about this this morning. I changed my tablecloth to my Christmas cloth. And I went through the pile of stuff that piles up around the table. It was at this point that I saw the mess everywhere. I need to organize my piles of stuff today. That is the plan! So (as I sigh loudly) I must go take care of this before I can have some fun! Take care. Later.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It's St. Nicholas Day!

I have already gotten a present today. And I haven't even put my shoes out or a carrot for the horse. One of my co-workers bought me a pair of (gasp!) acrylic fingerless gloves with the hinged mitten thing that goes over the fingers. I am really appreciative of any gift I receive. It was not expected.

Has anyone noticed that if you talk about something you like or want, and suddenly the gift fairies of the world inundate you with that object? One year I mentioned to one friend that I bought myself a calendar with polar bears on it. That year I got 12 different calendars from people. I think I mentioned that I was knitting myself a pair of fingerless mitts, and I showed everyone the ones CJ made for me. So I guess this is the year for this gift.

It has been really cold with a cold wind blowing. Today we had some frozen rain at times. I only slid once in the van going up a hill. Late in the afternoon I noticed the sun came out, and it changed to non-precipitation.

Last night I put the hot water bottle under the covers. I gathered my audiobooks, and put the cd player in the bedroom. I gathered up my knitting, and crawled into bed. Baby had already discovered the warm lump, and was curled around it. What a life, huh?

Tonight I am cooking a pumpkin pie for one of the seniors I take to the hairdresser every week. She is 96 years old. She always tells people, "I am not old. I have just been around a lot longer than most." Her family came for Thanksgiving. Last week I asked her how that went, and she was telling me she never got a pumpkin pie. They did all the cooking in her tiny kitchen, but no one thought about her love of pumpkin pie. So tomorrow I will give her a pumpkin pie that she can eat all by herself. She will not have to share it with anyone.

I guess that is all. I decided today I needed to make myself a pair of dull brown socks to wear as everyday socks. So when I feel inspired, I will begin those. Most of my socks are wild and handpainted, and don't really match too much of anything. I just like them. So I guess everyday brown socks are going to be next.

So time for CSI. They have advertised it as a new show. Last week it was a rerun. Later.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Are Spinners Nuts?

I went to the local alpaca exhibit yesterday. There was not a livestock show, but some of the farmers brought animals. There was one poor little guy that was very young, and this was his first time at a show. He was humming. He was tri-colored. He was a light brown with a shock of fawn on his head. And there was a dash of red in the fawn on his head. And he had freckles on his face. Really cute. I am so sorry, but I did not take any pictures of the animals. I always ask the farmers if they mind if I put pictures on my blog. It becomes a little difficult when there are people from all over the place and they don't know you. So I just prefer to just look and talk to the animals.

The spinners from my guild were there in the lobby spinning alpaca. The guild's alpaca afghan was there. My friend CJ had blocked all the squares and crocheted an edging to make them even out. She just roughly put it together with black thread to just demonstrate how it might look when finished. Some of the spinners have not turned in their squares yet. It will be auctioned next year at the livestock show.

Of course, the spinning guild is the best customer of any of the farmers. Some of them bought whole fleeces, some bought a few ounces, and some just wished for more. I bought a blend of a black and white roving-just 4 ounces. I really didn't need any more stuff to spin. I think everyone is like me-they like to know where the fiber comes from. They like to meet the animals, and know the face that is associated with the fiber.

I also got 4 audiobooks at the library. Has anyone else noticed that there is very little on t.v. these days? I guess I have 2 shows I am really interested in, and last week there was a rerun on one of them. Then there are the stupid Christmas shows. I mean-Rockettes at Madison Square Gardens? After a coupla dances I lose interest. They're good. We all know that. And that stupid Grammy thing? Who cares who had on the least amount of clothes at one of the Grammy shows? Anyway, it is getting close to time to show It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street. And Rudolph and Frosty the Snowman. Sigh! Turn on the audiobooks.

And our PBS station has been doing another fundraiser. I really can't understand why they always show the exact same shows every time. I mean-the very same ones. Not an update since the last show in 1995, but the exact same show.

O.K. enough grousing this morning. It is raining! Yeah! We had less than one half inch in the month of November. November is usually one of our rainy months.

I have to go put the clothes in the dryer. I am not knitting. I have been a slug. I wanted to finish plying my green wool. That's all I plan today.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

New Words

I guess I am going nuts. I was playing the word game on, and I was suddenly aware that our language has gone to pot. We never use these words anymore. What happened? Do we just get into habits and get lazy? I guess we could play the game that we played in college and write down one new word from the dictionary and make a sentence. But I certainly don't remember some of these words. Oh, well!

I have declared that I am through with this Christmas mess! I hate the traffic, I hate the nutty people, etc., etc., etc. Of course, my job requires that I do drive into the mall mess, or the Wal-Mart Mess. Yesterday was shopping day for most of my seniors. "Please let me stay until 2p.m." What do they do in the grocery store for 3 hours? I guess I don't really want to know. Wal-Mart is a heavenly place when you are 85 years old and cannot go very fast. One told me she just slowly goes up and down each aisle. I asked if she had a list of things she needs. "Oh, yes, I have my list right here." Oh, well! I guess some day I will be there too. But not in Wal-Mart.

It was such a glorious week of windy, warmish, sunny days. Yesterday someone pulled the shades down, and it was cloudy, dreary, and chilly. It is still dry, and everyone is complaining of no rain again. I noticed there had been a sprinkle out here in the country when I got home. But no rain. I finally broke down and ordered a full-spectrum light at a greater price than I have seen on Ott lights. I found the ad in the Alaska magazine. I was thinking I probably really don't need one. When the true drab, dreary colors of winter appeared, I was happy that I have ordered one. I will give a report when I get it.

I have been doing non-knitting things this week. I did start an oven mitt that I am knitting and will felt. But since I finished my little projects over Thanksgiving, I am really only working on the two afghans. I am so lazy, but I do have to start my holiday cooking soon. I want to make some of my Sherry Pecans. It is a wonderful recipe from my grandmother, and it is like a soft praline. Really, really sugary goodness! With a little Sherry thrown in the last step. The alcohol evaporates, but the taste is there.

My family was always big candy makers when I was little. It was my parents favorite thing to do. After the all-night candy making that my parents would do, all the family got into making cookies, cakes, and "stuff". We would assemble tins and baskets of goodies to give to the elderly people and shut-ins from our little church and town. We would deliver all of these on Christmas Eve. We started our Christmas on December 6, which is St. Nicholas Day. We would leave our shoes out, and leave carrots for the horse. And we always got a little gift of some kind. Never much. It was the week after this that my parents would do their all-night candy making. We were also required to make our Christmas gifts. I cannot tell you how many handkerchiefs I embroidered as a child. After I learned to knit and crochet things, I made hats and scarves.

My favorite story my grandmother told on us was when my brother and I came up with a wonderful idea of how to put more presents under the tree. We didn't care about what was in them, just having the pretty packages under the tree. I was probably 5 or 6, and he was 8 or 9. Everyone knew that we did it because of the wrapping. My father was one of those artistic wrappers that made it look BEAUTIFUL! But not our wrapping. So when everyone unwrapped the presents, there were our beach towels, our swim suits, a pair of shorts, or even summer shoes. Anything that we could find that no one would miss. And we just covered the floor under the tree with pretty packages! Such silly children!

I guess I better get ready to go. I wanted to go to the alpaca show, and to the library in town. I guess I better look at my recipes and get the stuff I need. I will also get a new candy thermometer. I can't make divinity, but I think some of the other stuff will make in the weather we are having.