Thursday, February 28, 2013

I hope my mother in law forgives me

First a disclaimer, I think my mother in law is great. She has never made me feel bad or foolish. She welcomed me into the family. She reads the blog and likes my knitting. She has never been the stereotypical monster MILs are made out to be.

Last night, I dreamed that she came to visit us and started cleaning my house. No really cleaning my house; the beds were flipped and naked, the dresser was standing in the middle of the room so she could vacuum underneath of it. Who vacuums under the dresser? Wait, you do that? Never mind.

The funny thing is, I was so ticked off because she started it at  9pm and now I had to help her clean instead of getting ready for bed. I just wanted to go to bed! Rarely have I woken from a dream more tired than when I went to sleep, but this night? Whew! Good thing I did wake up, so I could reset the dream button so I could get some rest. I don't remember dreaming anything after that.

Do you think I am worrying about being too pushy at her house? She has MS so I try to help, but maybe I feel I am treading to heavily on her territory? 

Or it could be one of those wacky dreams that we all have from time to time. At least no one was naked except the beds. 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mulling it over

You know how I am a wee bit obsessive and like to plan things? I am still at a point where I am planning a lot of knitting. Pretty much that is always running in the back of my mind. You know the part of your brain that kick in and keeps you safe driving to work. On those mornings when you're getting out of the car and you suddenly realize you have no memory of driving there? Yeah, that part of my brain also plans my knitting.

It gets pretty frustrated with me when I have too many projects on the needles and it has nothing to plan. While the actual knitting part is firing away, the planning part is plotting ways to lose a project or two, you know, just so it is needed again.

Well this part of my brain is busy chugging away planning a train trip that is not even booked yet. It has decided that train knitting should be somewhat like plane knitting, no complicated lace projects. While socks are always a go to project, they don't take that much effort to plan. Sweater knitting is out since it is too bulky to lug around and the trip will most likely be in the summer.

Planning brain is thinking a shawl would be nice. But not a lace shawl, that's cruel. It keeps focusing on  a nice garter stitch shawl. Actually it is pretty darn focused on one garter stitch shawl, the Color Affection Shawl. Lovely is it not? Those nice long rows would allow me to sit and stare out the window, watching the countryside roll by, while keeping my hands happy.

Now my dilemma is what yarn to choose? I bought the pattern before Rhinebeck so I would know how much yarn to get, but alas I did not buy yarn that would work together. I've had a vendor in mind to get yarn from but they don't seem terribly active right now, so that is out. I've even resorted to googling for a kit, but the trend seems to have passed so no one seems to have them. (You can usually tell when a trend has hit its peak if I am finally interested in it.)

So we will have to wait to see what pops up before the train leaves the station. Hey, what colors do I want? I like green a heck of a lot, what goes with deep forest green as the darkest color? Maybe I should just spend a bit of time slogging through all the completed projects on Ravelry. All 7000+ of them, see what I mean about being the tail end of a trend?

I still want to knit it though! Any color combinations will be considered. Let me know what you think.

And to top it off I am one of those weird people that does not like to mix yarn makers. I don't know if it is because they will fight or just that they may have different tension or feel. I just know it is one of my things.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On reading and viewing

I am one of the rare people that jumped off of the Downton Abbey train. I enjoyed two seasons but just could not bring myself to go crazy in anticipation of season 3. Honestly I think I may be committing heresy but I haven't even watched any of the new season. Yes, I already know some of the spoilers. There is a reason why you have to keep up with the crowd on these things. Thank goodness I managed to read the 7th book of Harry Potter before someone told me who did and did not make it.

Even though I am not all caught up in the TV show, I've been reading Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle by The Countess of Carnarvon. In case you did not know from the title; Highclere is the fictional Downton. It is where the show is filmed.

The book, so far has not discussed the show, which I am very happy about. It gives a loosely historical look at the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and Highclere. I am enjoying taking a look at what it took to run a country house at that time. Heck, I would love to take a look at what it takes to run a country house in this time. While I learn about the Earl and Countess's lives, I am also learning about the house and the servants lives. Turns out it takes a village and an estate to run a house like that.

Reviewers have said that the author sees the 5th Countess through too rosy of glasses, but I have not seen it yet. It is clear she admires the strength of character it takes to step into that role. Which I think is totally understandable given her perspective. I may be fascinated by royalty and aristocracy but I would never wish it on anyone. Talk about an exhausting job, one that you could not really turn away from.

I am planning to read Up and Down Stairs: The History of the Country House Servant by Jeremy Musson. I am thinking this book may give a different point of view. And really I just love reading about English country houses.

I would love to travel back to England and see more of the countyside, including some of the country houses. I had looked in to diverting to Blenheim Palace  but my timing was off as the palace was closed to the public. Turns out January in England is not the full tourist season. That of course was one of the reasons we went at that time.

We have however, toured a couple of American mansions in Newport, Rhode Island. The Breakers is something to see! D enjoyed it less than I did but he was good trooper. That was where I bought my copy of The Glitter and the Gold by Consuelo Vanderbilt Balsan. This was the book to introduce me to the difficulty of living as an aristocrat. A loveless, arranged marriage between two people that ended up hating each other. It is great having all that money and all those estates, it really brings you ultimate happiness.

Well anyways that is what I'm reading and enjoying. How about you guys?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A knitter's confession

Let me just get this off my chest...I don't read and understand patterns very well. Whew it feels good just to say it.

Once I get a pattern or understand how something is made I am golden. Have you seen how many socks I've made? I understand socks, well my style of socks I understand. Throw in a different method of construction and the light bulb goes out. Now I am playing with the idea of making achilles heAl which is way out of my comfort zone, but still it is a sock. I looked at it a few times before I made the jump and printed off the pattern. It still seems to be made in a way that I understand, at least half of it I do. I am itching to cast on but I've been lured away by other things like finishing up some works in progress. D should have a new pair soon. His sock drawer was empty again the other day. Many of them were clean downstairs in the laundry room just waiting to hitch a ride up to the drawer, but still an empty sock drawer in this house, gasp!

And speaking of other things luring, you know like a new sweater I want so badly I can taste it? (Did you know wool tastes like wool not chicken? Yeah, you're welcome for that little tidbit.)

I have a hitch in my sweater plan. My problem is that I want to make a sweater from one of my Christmas books, Ann Budd's Knitter' Book of Top Down Sweaters. You see my problem? No, neither do I, let me explain; I can not conceptualize how it works, I start in the back knit for a bit, pick up stitches on the original cast on and knit down a bit on the front. Now I know it does not say knit in the round all the time but that is the only method that has ever been done in my head. Can you see how prior experience is leading me astray? Also how does short row shaping work in a sweater/sleeve? I never done short row shaping for a sleeve cap, I can not see how this all comes together either.

What is an frustrated knitter to do? You got that right, I contacted my local yarn shop and asked if anyone would be willing to teach me the skills I lack. Turns out that people are willing to teach what you need to learn. Now I just need to think about how I want to ask some things since I really don't want to walk in saying simply, HELP! I need to think about what am I really asking for, what don't I understand. Do I just need someone to explain how it comes together?

I remember being extremely frustrated when I first started to knit socks. On a sock with a heel flap, you pick up and knit along the sides of the heel flap. Being a new knitter I had no idea what that meant. Pick up and knit what, where and how? Every source I looked into simply said pick up and knit. Pick up and knit, pick up and knit, pick up and knit. That phrase kept mocking me! No where could I find an example of the action. Argh!

Finally when I started to want to write angry letters to all the people not explaining it, I saw the Yarn Harlot on Knitty Gritty doing it. My next thought was That's it? It was the first knitting example of me over thinking something that should have been intuitive.

Let's hope my instructor can spark up my intuition.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

For better or worse cake edition

As you know D is on a cooking discovery journey. For valentine's weekend he decided to try cake. But not normal cake, that would be too easy and really why try to discover cake mix? 

He discovered Wacky Cake VIII. Now when I was a kid on the farm we used to make something called Crazy Cake and this sounds quite similar. You started by mixing the dry ingredients together in the cake pan. That is right, you did not even need a mixing bowl for this one! A cake without eggs, milk or a mixing bowl? It is crazy! A well is made in the dry mixture and the wet ingredients are poured in then mixed all up. Put that baby in the oven and bake away.

Unfortunately our pan had a well portion that did not get mixed. Hey it is all part of the learning, right?

But frosting covers all kinds of mistakes and it tastes good too!

For better or worse, we get cake!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Finnish River Socks

I have a Finnish river named Kalajoki on my feet now. 

You know how you're just going through life and something keeps catching your peripheral attention? I was searching for a pattern that was not my standard sock, but not reinventing the sock either. This nice plain sock with a nice meandering detail kept showing up on the screen. The three times I thought hey that is a nice sock, Kalajoki was on the screen. What is a knitter to do, other than cast on?

The yarn is Ensign Brook Farm, Great Scott from Cheviot sheep. Go on over and see how good looking these sheep are. Cute little buggers aren't they? This was again one of my bonus finds from the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival last September. I wanted to find some breed specific yarns that were not Merino. While I love a soft smooshy Merino yarn, there is just something ultra satisfying working with a yarn that does not coddle you. A yarn that can go on a mid winter hike with you and not whine the whole way, unlike me the person wearing it. I whine a lot while hiking. No wait I meant I wheeze a lot while hiking.

I bought a natural colored skein too. I had planned to make a pair for D out of it, but man is it hard giving up the added warmth of this type of socks. Although if I worked it right, I bet they would make excellent boot socks for D. Luckily I don't have to worry about it since he has another pair on the needles now. And fair is fair, that means the next pair I cast on should be mine, right?

What do you mean I have a whole drawer full of socks? I'm not telling him, are you? Oh right he reads the blog too. (I love you honey.)

Anyways, I am currently eyeing a skein of yarn Adriene sent me in our swap. I'm trying to see if it should be plain socks or fancy socks. It is not giving me any clues yet.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine Love

Hubby has some new wooly proof of my love. You see around our house Valentine's day is celebrated with green socks, not red and pink hearts. At least this year it will be celebrated this way. 

So is it still a gift if I started it way before the holiday with no gift intent. Does it still count? If I eat chocolates on Valentine's day that automatically makes them Valentines day chocolates, right?

You should note that these are the last of the gotta-get-em-done projects, that I started out the year with. That is right I am done with my new year's obligation knitting. Freedom feels quite nice. But it also comes with a grand case of guilt free startitis. 

I printed off a few sock patterns that have been sitting in my Ravelry queue. Now I'm dreaming up a storm and may or may not have cast on a sweater to take off the sock edge.

Anyways Hubby knows I love him, or at least his feet do.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Mittens before snow

I must apologize to the northeast US. I think my knitting may have caused snowpocalypse, because I have been knitting up a storm. (It is OK you can tell me, I already know my knitting does not cause weather fronts to converge.)

So that is the really long way to tell you I have finished my driving mittens.  I remembered to catch a quick photo of each of them, but quick photos never seem to capture the magic. 

 They're nice and light, made of fingering weight yarn. I can hold my keys and feel the steering wheel. I don't feel like I am overwhelmed like some mittens can feel.

But the down side is that they are not super warm. I would not want to go on a long hike with these alone. But again they were never intended for that use.

I used Ann Budd's The Knitter's handy book of patterns to make them. The yarn is Ball and Skein Sophia, a lovely soft yarn with a touch of cashmere. I enjoyed knitting with it immensely. I made a long  four inch cuff intending to tuck it under my coat cuff, but I like them turned down into a double cuff too.

So now what about that sweater I was going to make. Hmm this is prime sweater knitting weather going on. Oh and look the yarn is green too.

Don't mind me I just be swatching a bit. Oh wait can I count my Rhinebeck sweater as a working swatch? Ann Budd and I will be off in a corner running the numbers from her Top Down Sweaters book. Well she is here in spirit anyways.

Don't worry my train travel thoughts are still chugging along too. I've run some numbers on flying vs railing and it has dispelled some guilt that I want to tell you about but that is all another post or two.

Friday, February 8, 2013


It looks pretty winter white outside my windows now. The real snow has not yet accumulated. But both D and I were home early before the snow turned vengeful. We were foolish/smart and stopped to fill the autos with fuel. I went to the grocery store because like a good farm girl, I was overcome by the urge to warm the house by making food. I bought food to make the following: chicken noodle soup, chili, pulled pork, pizza (we had it for dinner), bread, scones and muffins. I know I will not be making all that but I just had to be prepared in case... in case of what you may ask, but I don't have an answer. Sickness and snow make me want to cook everything. No really everything!

I redirected some energy tonight by printing off some sock patterns. I guess snow makes me want to plan my knitting too. I freed up some space in my binder by disposing of a couple toe up sock patterns. I am still having trouble with the last heel on D's toe up socks. I ripped it back twice tonight. I am starting to suspect that I am not a toe up knitter. I guess I will just constantly run the risk of being an odd toe knitter when I run out of yarn. I am willing to accept that risk.

A new tradition will be starting in our house this weekend since it was foiled last weekend. D stopped at the wine store and the library on his way home. We will have a nice relaxing night tomorrow watching Groundhog Day and sipping wine. We will most likely be stuffed with all the food I've made too.

So all in all it is shaping up to be a pleasant weekend.

Monday, February 4, 2013


You know those repetitive task days where your mind just wanders but your hands are busy? Today was one of those days at work. So all day at work I wrote this blog post in my mind, but now I've got nothing. So go make yourself a cup of tea and I will try to get to the point eventually.

I'm dreaming of some travel. Not really travel for travel's sake but doing the traveling differently. We will be going back to SD this year again and I want to try taking the train instead of flying. But I have so many train travel questions that are currently unsolvable.

My Mother always said I was in love with love. This would be the wordy and most accurate way to say I am a romantic. Romantic is how I am feeling about train travel right now. I am in love with my version of train travel. I want it to be a fun and relaxing way to get from A to B. I want to say I've slept on a train. I have rode the rails. I think of all the knitting and reading I can do. How D and I can sit in the dining car drinking a glass of wine gazing into each other's eyes. How we can play endless games of cribbage and I may even win a few. How we can travel together without the distractions of traveling. No paying attention to the road all day or rushing to catch a plane.

Now you see why my Mother was worried when I talked about marriage. She thought maybe, my glasses were a bit too rose colored and I would have a hard time accepting the realities of marriage. (Like socks on the floor and the cap left off the toothpaste.) (Marriage tip number one: if the toothpaste thing bothers you that much you can just buy two tubes. It really does help!)

I think I just choose to see the world through the glass half full perspective. But since I am an introvert I  also know I need time away from people. 20+ hours on a train full of strangers may not be the most ideal situation for my personality.

I do think many situations are made better with a good attitude. The train may just be a longer version of a plane ride but why not give it a go? I mean other than the trip home, if I really hate it I never have to do it again, right?