So long 2009.......and hello 2010

2009 was a relatively good year. It seemed focused more on work and I'm not sure how to change that just yet. I've got to work on that. I'm still knitting on Thursday nights with my knitsibs, our Wednesday lunch knit group is still going strong, although I was absent all of December because of work, and I've knit some lovely items in 2009 that I'm really proud of. Below is a list of completed items, although I may have left some out.

Café Au Lait Mitts – 2 pair
Baby J Cardigan
Garter Stitch Toes socks
Lacy Shrug
Baby Bunny Toddler Dress
Baby Blankets – 2
Capelet for me for winter
Felted Mittens
Feather and Fan Scarf
Kicking Bags for baby – 2
Amigurumi animals
Garter Stitch Loop scarf
Baby bibs – many
Fingerless Mitts

I welcome 2010, it's another year closer to retirement. :-) I have some great projects on the needles and a good list of projects to start. Some I have already purchased the yarn, so I've got a good head start.

Another Christmas is in the past

Christmas is the holiday when I miss my Mom the most. She was the glue that held our holidays together. She made it extra special and I miss that. My husband and I had a very quiet Christmas day, just the two of us. We relaxed, drank some coffee, played some colorku, I knit a little, did some baking and then we had our turkey dinner about 6:30. We had already exchanged gifts at Thanksgiving, I know, early but when it's just the two of you, we tend to do that. Just buy something for each other at odd times of the year. I received a Sony EReader, Touch Edition, PRS-600. I love it!!! Not only will it hold tons of books, it will also hold Word docs and PDF's, so I have my knitting patterns on it. It has 2 Memory Stick slots so it will hold mega data. No more lugging around a notebook of patterns. It's not too good on formatting of the charts, but then I rarely do chart knitting, so not an issue for me.

I did do some surprise holiday knitting. I've given the goodies to her now, so I can post about it. I made a pair of Cafe Au Lait mitts, in Misti Alpaca. Did I mention I love this pattern? They are wonderfully warm but not bulky. The other item made is a scarf made with Poppin. It has a very nice feel and although it's polyester, it's very nice against the skin. Very easy garter stitch pattern, looks more difficult than it was.

I always enjoy the last week of December because this is when I transfer information to my new paper calendar. Yes I have a Smartphone that has all the calendar functions and address book and excel documents, but I like having my paper calendar, for note writing and at a glance calendar notes. I have lists of my current knit projects on the needles as well as future knit projects. Post-It Notes with yarns I want to try, books I want to read or authors I want to try, etc. Transferring to a new one every year lets me cull out what I no longer have an interest in, especially the Future Knit Projects. I've culled a few out that were on my list from last year. I have no problem doing that as I feel that our interests change over the course of a year and I'm ok with that.

Have you ever been out and wished you had your knitting label with you? Does it get lost from your knitting bag? I don't think I came up with this idea, I actually think I saw it somewhere, but can't remember. But go buy yourself a portable photo album (you grandparents out there will know what I'm talking about) I purchased mine at Hobby Lobby, but you can find them anywhere. I purchased the clasp kind so that I made sure it stays closed. Instead of photos, place a knitting label with a small strand of the yarn of your current projects on the needles. It never failed that I started a project and someone would ask.....what yarn is that? and I wouldn't remember. This solved that problem. It just stays in my knitting bag now.

On to my laundry and some knitting.

Not holiday knitting

I haven't knit one thing for the holidays. I'm getting through 2 Baby showers within less than a month. I knit 2 baby blankets, a rare thing for me, and they both turned out beautifully. Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture of one before I gifted it, it was an ivory colored feather and fan pattern for a sweet baby girl. The next one, finished last night, is for a little boy due in another couple of weeks, and it's a simple ripple pattern. Picture below.

The other item made for the shower is the Baby J Cardigan by Cabin Fever. This adorable sweater is knit with, hmmm, I've misplaced the label, the buttonholes are made on each side and that way you can knit ahead of time and then add the buttons once you know the sex of the child. It was well received.
These are the cupcakes that were at the baby shower. I thought they were adorable. The punch was absolutely delicious. Hawaiian punch berry, with sprite and lemon sherbet. We also made an ice block with a teething ring in the middle of it.

October knitting and Halloween

Halloween: I do live in the country but I do have some neighbors nearby, although I don't know how many kids live around here. I'm not usually home in time for trick or treaters but this year since it was on Saturday, I thought there was a remote possibility that I could have them. So, as I was grocery shopping yesterday morning, I bought some candy. Well, we had absolutely no trick-or-treaters, not nary a one. Note to self, don't buy any candy next year and yep, you';ll probably have them. It's like deciding not to take an umbrella and you can bet on it, it'll rain.

Obviously vacation is over but it was a glorious week. Of course by the time I have rested and actually realize, hey I'm on vacation and then actually feel like doing something productive, it's Friday and I only have 3 days left. So I tried to be somewhat productive those remaining days.

I had finished knitting the "straight" part of the Kid Merino Easy Lacy Shrug quite a while back. Before I could seam and knit the frilly part, I had to block it and I had put that off. So, I rinsed and blocked, seamed it and then finished the frilly part this past Thursday. It is a very versatile shrug and I love it. It can be used as a scarf or a shrug. I knit mine with one strand of GGH Soft Kid on size US 10.75 needles. I bought the yarn half price at Haus of Yarn and it was a great purchase. I cast on for it on April 3 and unfortunately I don't remember when I finished the straight part. Since I'm not a monogamous knitter, I think I may have finished that part late summer, but really don't keep track of the true knitting hours. Mine doesn't fit quite as loosely as the pattern picture reflects but at least it doesn't scream look at the girls as most shrugs do. I also finished the Capelet and it is wonderfully warm. Our winters in Nashville aren't too harsh and this will be a perfect late fall/early winter coverup. It is knit with Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Chunky in a beautiful red.

I started a pair of handwarmers to go with the Capelet. I'm using the tabbed cuffs pattern from Mother-Daughter knits (the Melville team) I decided to make them in black to go with the black button I got for the capelet. I'm using Berroco Pure Merino on size US 8. What a fun pattern and I will need to find some cute buttons for this as well (looks like the picture shows 12).

More to come.......................

Vacationing in Oktober

I love to take vacation in mid-October. The weather is usually gorgeous, beautiful blue skies and 65-70 degrees Fahrenheit. This week is no exception. After a nasty rainy week last week, by Saturday the weather was wonderful, albeit a little cool.

After 2 painful cortisone shots on Friday, by Saturday afternoon I was feeling much better and decided to take a little jaunt outside with camera in hand.

I plan on going on a little longer walk today since my knees are feeling much better.

On the knitting front, I finished the Feather and Fan scarf in the luscious Lisa Souza bombyx silk. Everyone wants to touch it because it's so soft. It feels glorious around my neck too. I have been working on some baby items since there are 2 preggo's on my team at work. I finished the kicking sack in Magic Stripes and I made a bib in stockinette stitch with Hobby Lobby's I Love This Cotton. I'll have to say for cotton yarn, this is one of the SOFTEST cotton that I have ever knit with. It's fabulous! It's my new favorite cotton yarn.

I am also working on a baby blanket in the Feather and Fan pattern and it's looking beautiful so far.
On my list of things for me, a mini-shawl/kerchief made from a beautiful royal blue in Koigu...pattern will be 198 Yards of Heaven (found in Ravelry) and some socks, fingerless gloves and the Thorpe ear-flap hat.

Life without Television

Our television went on the fritz while I was in Jacksonville. Now, that is not a huge traumatic event in my little household as we really don't watch that much tv, at least not "series" watching. The only things we continually watch (record, actually because we never watch anything live) is Masterpiece Theatre on public tv, House, M.D. on Fox, Burn Notice on USA and I like to watch The Office on NBC. In addition to these series, we will watch quite a bit on TCM because we like those old movies.

These past two weeks have reminded me of the years when DH was in school. Instead of studying for a test, we would play chess or chinese checkers or something similar. We didn't have a tv when he was in school either, so this has been quite reminiscent. We have spent quite a bit of time together, actually eating dinner at the dinner table, playing Mastermind and Colorku (a colored marble version of Sudoku), lots of fun.

What I have come to realize is that I have not been getting much knitting done. So I guess I do most of my knitting while we sit on the couch watching tv. So if I'm not watching tv, I guess I don't knit much. Now there will be times when I would sit on the couch listening to a book on my mp3 player, but that was in lieu of watching tv. Now that there has not been one, we've been spending more time together. It has been great!! All that to say, the fall season is ready to start and we decided it was time to get serious about buying a tv. We have decided on the Samsung 58" Plasma. It sounds big, but we are dropping down from a 64" Sony behemoth. At least the Samsung is flat screen. I assume we'll have it in the next week or two and maybe then I can get back to some serious knitting.

I have been updating Ravelry with some stash photos. My internet line is not conducive to uploading photos on Ravelry so I will probaby not continue that endeavor. I will continue just to keep stash photos on my hard drive and my stash list in Excel. I am almost done with the Capelet in Nashua Handknits though, it will be very nice. Photos will come later.

I have been thinking of holiday knitting. I'd like to make a few things but I'm not sure for whom at the moment. On to my planner so I can think this through.

à toute à l'heure!

Labor Day weekend and knitting stuff

I've taken a 2 month hiatus from blogging but I have been doing some knitting. Also, some knitsibs and I went on a knitting retreat at The Cabin again and I took a little 3 day trip to Jacksonville over Labor Day weekend to visit family.

Had some good beach time on Saturday morning, temp was great, the water looked beautiful. It was a little rough, especially on my knees, but the water felt great. Here are a few pics:

Now on to some knitting:
This is my version of the Kicking Bag that I mentioned in a previous post. The concept is a blanket that you can put around the baby while she's napping and as her legs kick, the blanket doesn't come off. This one is knit in Sirdar's Baby Bamboo and knit in the round. The ribbing is done in the mock cable stitch and it's nice and stretchy.

I've also started the 10-Stitch Blanket by Frankie Brown. The beginning of the pattern is a little fiddly but once you get past the first few corners, it's a joy to work. You only have 10 stitches on your needles at any time so you never have to worry about that "let me finish one more row".
I'm working this in Mini-Mochi in pastel colors to make a napping size baby blanket, not a full size crib blanket. Knitting with US 4's.

I'm also working on a 10-stitch blanket for me, probably something for the couch or recliner. Also done in Mini Mochi with a red/fuschia/purple base. It didn't photograph well because of the red, but you get the idea.

I purchased some wonderful Lisa Souza silk at Stitches South and have been wondering what to make with it. I decided on the Feather and Fan scarf. It's knit with a multiple of 18 + 4 for the garter edging. I'm knitting on US Size 8.

I forgot to put the ruler in the picture but the width of the scarf is 6 1/2 inches. It feels glorious to the touch!

I've also started a Capelet knit with a gorgeous red Nashua Handknits. Since red doesn't photograph well, I didn't take a picture of it. Maybe after it's complete, I'll try it.
On a personal note, for the past 4-5 years, I have had severe pains in both knees. I finally went to an orthopedist a couple of weeks ago and xrays revealed that I had absolutely no cartilage left in either knee. The ortho referred me to a joint replacement specialist. Before I left the ortho, he gave me a cortisone shot in each knee. After the shot, the knee pain was virtually gone, I had no idea it would be that great. The joint replacement specialist said I have severe osteoarthritis. My options are surgery or manage the pain. He recommended that I wait as long as possible for surgery, so I have decided to wait and to manage the pain with cortisone shots and Aleve. I can still feel the benefits of the original cortisone shots but it's not as good as it was, so I will definitely be monitoring it.
It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon and I'm going to go outside and enjoy it, so à toute à l'heure!

Knitting during the Tour de France 2009

The 3-week bike race that my husband and I watch religiously every year started yesterday in the beautiful backdrop of Monaco. I always get a lot of knitting done during the race. Exciting news this year is that Lance Armstrong is back in the race after 3 years of retirement. Lance won 7 Tours in a row, 1999-2005, a feat that will probably never be repeated. My mother, the frenchie, couldn't believe that he won 2 in a row (1999 & 2000) and then she died in 2001 and never saw that he won 5 more consecutively. I think she was proud of him but her french heritage demanded that a Frenchman win the Tour. (It's been a while since a Frenchman won.) This year's route is quite unusual as they aren't doing a circle of France, they actually start in the south, move west, dip into Spain, travel northeast, back south again and then take the train to finish in Paris. The last Saturday before the finish they tackle Mont Ventoux. It's a difficult ride when you're feeling good. To tackle it after a grueling 3 weeks will be extremely hard. That mountain is unbelievable. My husband and I visited Mont Ventoux in 1998 and we basically went from 1st to 2nd gear and back to 1st gear all the way up. Every time you think you have to be near the top, you keep going. When you finally get to the summit, it's spectacular. The elevation is 6,273 feet.

Anyway, at the beginning of the race yesterday, I cast on for the Angel Sweater, a cute pattern from Oat Couture. I'm knitting the 12 month size. One of my knitsibs is making it as well.

I'm using yarn conveniently made in France :-) from Anny Blatt in a salmon color. It's 100% wool that is machine washable and it feels wonderful. I believe I can get it done with just 2 balls.
I'm still working on the Kicking Bag mentioned in the previous post. I'm on the 3rd ball of Sirdar Baby Bamboo.

Still spindle spinning

I will have to freely admit to my spinning enablers out there that I have been enjoying my spinning. June has been a horrible month at work, too many hours and add to that my long commute, makes for a very long day. More to the point, I was actually too tired to knit several evenings. I didn't want to think about a pattern at all. I got out the spindle and some fiber I purchased at the Dickson Fiber Festival and did this.

It has actually been quite relaxing, I know that's contrary to what I said a year ago, but I have grown to like it. Had I been smart, I would have practiced with the spindle before I took the wheel class, that way I would have had the drafting concept down. Strong recommendation to any of you who are contemplating spinning.

As for knitting, I am still working on the Ty Dy Cardigan, knit with Delicious. I'm also working on a Kicking Bag, it's a free pattern on Ravelry. Here is one from Ravelry, compliments of SarkaFarka:

The bag is knit a little narrow I think, so I will add some increases to make it a little wider so that their legs won't seem so confined. I'm knitting it in Sirdar Bamboo Baby.

Legendary Nashville Songwriter

You can see songwriter Billy Arr perform locally on piano here with a little backup singing too. The song: "A Night With Me" was written by Billy Arr and published by- Binoco Music BMI

Did I mention Billy Arr was my Dad? Yep, that's why we moved to Nashville in 1970 when I was a mere child of 11 1/2 years old. My dad has stayed true to his craft in the nearly 40 years of living in Music City. I respect his perseverance in this mighty tough industry. As much as the media touts the overnight successes, they don't show you all the hard work and years of playing in dives and playing on the road that so many musicians and writers have to endure, so my hat is off to all of you that have endured that life. My Dad has written many beautiful songs, many of which have never been recorded and heard on mainstream media, but they are forever embedded in my brain and in my heart. I love you Dad and you are still my favorite singer. Keep on writing.

Here are some "old" pictures of him in action. I'm sure he'll appreciate me putting these up on the internet.

This one is from the late 60's, a band he had while we lived in Topeka, KS. His baby brother, my Uncle Jack, was also in the band.

New cat in our midst?

As many of you probably know, the cat that adopted us about 2-3 years ago, Bosephus, has been gone for approx 2 months now. I don't know if he was dinner for one of the coyotes that live in them thar hills, or if he got hit by a car. He did like to roam in the evenings and at night. Since he's been gone, the mice have been plentiful and the moles have gone crazy making tunnels in the yard. DH and I had decided to find a female kitty that might be more inclined to stay around and not roam so much. One of our very distant neighbors had kittens back in February and we had about decided just to get one of his when they are old enough, maybe sometime in July.

As luck would have it, this one appeared today. We assume someone just dropped her in the country because we believe she is pregnant. At first we thought she had just had babies, but she's seems a little young, she's not a year old yet. So, we'll see if she sticks around. I've named her Callie because she's obviously a calico.

Where will it stop???

Now I'm needle felting animals???? Last weekend I was spinning? I bought a Cricket Loom at the Fiber Festival in order to weave? Where will it stop? When do I think I have time for all these fiber related activities? I've realized that my Wednesday lunch knitting group is full of know who you are. :-) Last Wednesday, Deb brought an adorable show and tell. They are so cute and tiny, she is holding them in her hands.

She let me borrow her book, Wool Pets, for the week.

Now, the cute little teddy bears she had are not in this book but since I already had felting needles at home, I went home that very evening and I made my own little bunny rabbit from the book. He's far from perfect but for my first attempt, I think he's cute.

Should he have had a pink nose? The book showed black but I think pink may have been cuter.
I've since done a little more shaping with the needle and his nose is not as pointy, but his tail is still too big and there are other flaws, but I love him nonetheless.

This weekend I have been making an excel spreadsheet with my stash and taking pictures of my stash. It will not be done in one weekend, I have waaaaayyyyyyy too much stash. Where did it all come from? I won't be loading it into Ravelry, uploading pictures on my slow internet connection takes too long, and in addition, if Ravelry or Blogspot goes away (as they always eventually do) I don't want to have to rush to try to get everything logged elsewhere. I will always have it in my spreadsheet and the pics on my external drive.

Spindling.......and spinning a new yarn

The Spindle I bought at Stitches South is very light weight and I like it's design. My Wednesday lunch knitting buddy gave me some yellow roving to practice with and I have been practicing. Drafting the yarn is definitely the hardest part to learn and since I'm doing it on my own, I'm probably developing some bad habits. A friend and I are taking an actual spindle class from our LYS in July so I guess I'll find out what bad habits I've learned. :-)
Here's what I've done so far.

A Sweet Toddler Dress

I saw the sample in the store and knew I just had to make the Toddler Dress for Gracie. I cast on for it while at Stitches and I finished it last week, so it took a month. I was not monogamous to the project but nearly. I made the 18 month size because Gracie will be 18 months this summer, however, I think it came out a little big. Won't it look cute with a little turtleneck and tights though maybe this fall? It's knit with Plymouth Baby Bunny which is 60% Pima Cotton, 30% modal and 10% angora. It's a little fluffy but oh so soft! I chose not to add the flower because I thought it would get torn off with those little inquiring fingers.

I don't know how the colors will come out on the computer but to clarify I knit it in celery green and white, color # 206.

The only big change I made to the pattern is that I went down 2 needle sizes for the bodice and I started with a row of single crochet before I crocheted the picots.
What have I been up to in the knitting world??? Stitches South is one! The long weekend of April 23-26 was spent with great knitsibs, Chris and Martha, in Atlanta. We left early Thursday morn (left my house at 4:45 AM) and arrived in Atlanta in plenty of time to check in to the hotel, get registered at Stitches and still have time for lunch before our first class on Thursday. Thursday evening, the market opened to registered students only. It was great, overwhelming, beautiful, overwhelming, lots of vendors of yarns and roving and wonderful accessories, and did I mention overwhelming??? Martha and I spent Thursday eve just going up and down each aisle, in anticipation of what we might purchase on Friday when we returned to the market. Chris on the other hand, already knew some items she wanted and went immediately to those vendors. Chris has already blogged about some of our adventures, if you'd like to hop over there..... She has even blogged about our yarn shop crawl on Saturday. We stayed away from the Stitches Market on Saturday with good reason. Open to the public day, ouch!
I will post pics of some of my purchases, but meanwhile, I am posting some items that I have either finished knitting or am in the process.

Fingerless Mitts: I find that they are used more in the spring and summer when the office has gotten so cold because of the air conditioning. My co-workers always want to borrow mine, and they are the wrong color, so I made her a pair of her own to go with her red sweater that never leaves her shoulders in the spring and summer while at the office.

The bank is consolidating some of it's functions into one location and therefore a co-worker lost her job. She loves bunnies, so I made her this little cutie.

My garter-toes socks. I love this pattern!

This was an interesting pattern.

It started out like this:

Then you fold it together, end to end, and you seam it.

and you end up with these: very comfy footies that I made with Cotton for summer.

I've also been working on a Baby Bunny Toddler Dress. Baby Bunny is wonderful yarn to work with, it feels so wonderful, like knitting with butter.

Although I'm knitting to gauge, it's turning out a little bigger than I had anticipated. It was meant for an 18M old, but I believe she will have to grow into it.
I've also cast on for a shrug for me, a very lacy lightweight shrug. Now I don't normally go for a shrug because they typically scream "look at the girls" and I don't need anymore attention there, but I tried on the LYS store sample and it was lovely, even on me. So I purchased GGH Soft Kid at half price (even better) and cast on. The pattern is relatively easy to remember and it's usually not bad as a visiting knitting, although you do have to pay attention, yarn-overs and K2G's and all that. Well, as you have deduced, I made an error and it went into time-out until i could tink it in peace and quiet. I have now tinked and will resume the knitting. But here it is as it stands now:

I've also cast on for a couple of summer tops for me. I will post about them separately.