Sunday, December 28, 2008

All is least for the moment

It's late Sunday morning. My parents just pulled out of the driveway. Zack is reading his biology homework. Sophie is outside doing whatever dogs do. The house is quiet. No TV. No xBox. Just quiet.

Now Sophie is barking and done doing what dogs do outside. The silent spell is broken. It didn't last long, but I enjoyed every second of it.

Referring back to my last post from mid-December, I did indeed get the cold that my co-worker so graciously shared with everyone in the department. That put a bit of a damper on my Christmas preparations. I didn't get as much baking done as I had planned, but the Christmas knitting made it out the door in time to get shipped to Michigan.

In the end I turned out two batches of fudge, two batches of cranberry pistachio biscotti, 19 Christmas cards, 2 packages to Michigan, 2 hand knit (1 was hand spun) hats, a set of hand knit and fulled coasters, and two skeins of hand spun yarn. Also figure in 3 Saturdays of Christmas shopping and a weekend of cleaning. Don't forget to add the 14 strings of Christmas lights on the bushes, 4 lengths of red tinsel garland on the pillars, 8 wreaths outside and 2 inside. Plus 2 Christmas trees, 24 feet of garland, 3 big red bows and a basket of fresh cut holly and magnolia boughs. That adds up to wow!

A word of advice--don't try to figure out what bulb isn't working on the string of Christmas lights because the odds of having a replacement bulb that will fit that string are less than .01%. Throw the damn lights away. In the trash. In the outside trash. Go buy new lights. I had a brief moment of doubt when I opened up the trash can to pitch another bag of garbage. Look at all those lights. What a waste. Surely I can figure out which bulbs aren't working and salvage the whole lot. No! NO! I tossed in the bag of trash and closed the lid. What a rush! I am free!

On to the good stuff!

The Marsan Watchcap for Steve (grudgingly modeled by Zack). Yarn was handspun about a year ago. I love the decreases for this pattern. One could probably knit this hat in a weekend. I used a thinner yarn and made the large size. Zack's head is about 23 inches and this fit perfectly. The nice thing about the twisted rib pattern is that it's stretchy yet holds it's shape very well. I also knit it about an inch longer in order to get a more generous cuff.

The earflap hat knit for Drew. I really don't have one specific pattern for this hat. The pattern is loosely based on Swell from I made quite a few modifications and added a great 10- stitch color pattern that I found online. The yarn is handspun shetland with a bit of alpaca. I partially lined the hat with a light weight polar fleece. It's a killer hat!

Felted coasters for Amy from the free pattern section on Berroco's website. I used Paton's SWS yarn and started each coaster from a different section of the colorway. Each coaster is different but they all match. The SWS felts like a dream (in a top loading washing machine...don't attempt in a front load, bad words will be spoken.) Berroco has this pattern labeled as intermediate but I thought they were fairly easy. However, I wouldn't suggest trying these unless you have knit with DPNs. You knit from the outside and work in. Handling all those stitches and markers on DPNs is a bit tricky.

So, what's next? I'm in a scarf exchange on Facebook and the deadline is January 15th. I have to finish Joann's annual mini sock. It's basically done, but I need to add the snowflakes. I'm working on Fetching wrist warmers for Amy's birthday. I'm making them out of Plymouth Encore to match the hat and scarf my sister made for her. Then I'm going to knit something for moi. (Maybe I can use my new sock blockers!!!)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Today's List

I will not get the cold that has plagued my co-workers. "Get a cold, continue to go to work so you can sneeze and cough on everyone" is not on my list, so therefore, it will not happen. Simple.

It's Saturday morning and there's quite a bit of heavy frost on the lawn. The dog is beside me enjoying her morning nap (in my next life I'm going to be a spoiled, lazy dog) and I'm enjoying my first cup of coffee. There's no better time to start the "what needs to get done today in order for me to retain any semblance of sanity" list. Right?

1. Shop. I don't have a lot of shopping left to do so this won't be an all day affair. Repeat. This will not be an all day affair. I'm also going to endeavor to use nice words when describing the driving techniques and traffic maneuvers of my fellow shoppers. I'm going to Cool Springs. Say a prayer for me.

2. Clean up the empty ornament boxes. The tree looks great but the sofa is covered with tissue paper and empty boxes. It just ruins the effect.

3. Make bows and hang garland. This should be pretty easy...which means it will end up taking 3 hours and will require power tools, dry wall patch and Jack Daniels.

4. Make two batches of fudge. There are people who are waiting patiently for the first batch. I'm going to tamper with the recipe this year. Don't freak! I'm not using Nestle chocolate chips. The Ghirardeli (spelling??) chips were on sale. When I changed from using Hershey milk chocolate candy bars to Ghirardeli milk chocolate chips the fudge was much creamier. We'll see if the chips make a difference.

5. Stash the stash. It's really not so bad (not like the days leading up to the Parental Visit of Labor Day 2008). The stash just needs some general in I can't see the guest bed.

6. Hang the outside lights. I've been dragging my feet on this but Zack is insistent. The number of light strands that won't work is in direct proportion to how many Jack Daniels I'll need to get through this. Locating the giant extension cord is going to be a joy. I should add "clean garage" to the list

7. Get Jack Daniels (I prefer Gentleman Jack for my holiday imbibing.)

I think this is enough for one day. I'll check in later tonight and let you know how it went. If my typing is slurred, you'll know that items 3 and 6 kicked my butt.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The 14 Days and 5 Hours of What the Hell was I Thinking

The first knitted gift is almost done. I still have to make the dangly braids and fashion a cozy lining so the wool won't be quite so scratchy. But other than that, it's almost done. Photos will be posted after the gift-giving. This is a project that I have knit twice. The first round was done on size 7s...this one is too small. [insert copious amounts of horrible language that I learned from my parent's cat] The second time I used size 8s...this one is just right. [insert contented sigh of satisfaction] Almost.

I still have three more projects to go, and I don't have any "Plan B" gifts should I fail [insert gasp] to get those projects completed on time. As I said, what the hell was I thinking?

For the past two weeks I've been seeing a physical therapist, Robert, for my wrist/arm pain. Did I mention that it's not carpal tunnel? It's tennis elbow caused from repetitive motion. (hmmm, like knitting? spinning?...nah!) I have all these little exercises that I'm doing at home. Goofy exercises that involve a bath towel and an unopened can of soup. Today he started working my neck (as I am typing this my shoulders are up around my ears...relax, Chris!) All those little shoulder and neck muscles were as hard as rocks and I could hear them crunching against each other as he pounded on them. It hurt. A lot. But I have to admit that I've noticed quite an improvement. My arm is happier and isn't sending shooting white hot pain indicators to my brain anymore.

Maybe I should take a break from repetitive tasks and give my arm a that will happen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

You Have Got to be Kidding!

I should be knitting...or spinning...or felting something. Once again, I've gotten myself into the pre-Christmas panic of knitting more stitches than humanly possible in 3 weeks. Actually, less than three weeks because half of what I'm knitting has to be shipped to Michigan in time for Christmas. The yarn doesn't even exist yet for one of the projects. The count down clock is mocking me.

Quite a bit was accomplished while visiting my parents over Thanksgiving. I brought my spinning wheel and was able to finish up the shetland I bought from Three Creeks Farm. It's gorgeous! Reds and charcoal gray. I got another project to the felting stage and did a bit of swatching on another. I still can't divulge all the Christmas knitting projects because everyone in my family (bless them) knows how to read. In the mean time, I'll have to share my all knitting, spinning and felting projects with the girls I knit with on Wednesdays. They won't tell...

My mom, dad and I braved Black Friday at Walmart. It was actually quite surprising. We got there around crowds, no lines. At one point, I was standing near a small group of 20-somethings who were laughing about their morning shopping spree. The girl in the group was concerned about being recognized by security. I couldn't help but pause to listen. Apparently, in her rush to get to a sale item, she knocked a woman to the floor. She was still wearing the same clothes (pajama bottoms and a hoodie) and was worried that the security cameras got her picture. She was going to go home and change so she wouldn't be easily recognized. What?? And they were all laughing about it! When did knocking someone over become acceptable? Then when we got home, we read about the person in New York who was trampled to death earlier that morning. This is not why we celebrate Christmas. It's beyond sad.