Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Quick Note: I wrote this days ago, but we have been so busy, I couldn't find the time to get it posted. Now that I have survived most of the holiday, there is some quiet time to get this up and running!

I hope the holidays were wonderful for you and that you got a special something under the tree - hopefully knitting related!.. And most importantly of all, II want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas!


Back in Michigan for 12 days to celebrate Christmas with our family.

By the time I finished making my pile of Christmas gifts, I was all crafted out. I didn't even knit on the flight back to MI - just didn't have any project to work on that excited me. I did read my fabulous book, I am on the second book in the Game of Thrones series - it is an old fashioned epic story, and I love it.

I was wondering if this meant I was headed for a knitting funk.

When I got home, I glanced through some yarn in my stash, but no inspiration. Just when it looked like I needed to pick up a hibernating WIP, I saw the perfect project on Ravelry.

It also coincided with my effort to learn a new knitting app on my iPad, KnitCompanion. I have been watching the video tutorials, trying to get the hang of it, but my new project let me give the app a real try.

Project - Kindle case

Yarn - Noro kureyon sock

Kauni - in solid black

I am making the small size - it will be my FINAL knitted gift. It is flying along and I am pretty sure I can get it done. (Yes, it is almost done!!)

Now for a little about KnitCompanion.

I think it is a very clever app that allows you to take a pattern PDF and turn it into a true working document. It reminds me of what many of us do with a paper pattern - we make a photo copy of the pattern, highlight the sizes that apply, check off the rows as we finish them. If there are charts, we use a magnetic board or pattern keepers or highlight tape to mark the row we are working on.

Sometimes we enlarge the chart, cut it out and even tape several charts together, sound familiar??

This app does all these things - and turns your iPad into an essential knitting aid.

So far, the only negative thing I can say is that it took some time to learn all the functionality. If isn't intuitive, so you cant just jump on, hack around and make it work. You need to watch videos, and there isn't a good written tutorial or faqs to complement the videos.

Once you know how it works, you need to take some time to set up your pattern in program. But believe me - it is worth the time. I am so inspired by this product, I'm thinking I would love to teach a class on it.

You can use it to highlight each row of written text or chart, add stitch markers on your chart, include reminders on specific places in the pattern, and even add verbal notes. It might seem a little expensive at first glance, but if you are willing to take the time to learn how to use it, it is totally worth it.

I guess the moral of the story is don't despair when your knitting mojo lags, be patient and inspiration will return.

Ok friends, don't forget to take time to ENJOY the season. I tell myself often that "these are the good old days". You never know what tomorrow will bring, so treasure each day.

Time for me to enjoy my family, I am off to celebrate with all six grandkids ! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Very Crafty Christmas

I am working hard to get everything done before we head back to Michigan for Christmas on Saturday.

Still need to pack up the knitted gifts for my sister's family and get those in the mail. That is complicated by the fact that last night I started ONE MORE knitted item for my niece. I couldn't help myself - I am in love with this item and I think she will feel the same. I think I may send everything that is done and mail this last item on the needles separately. Need to buy some wrapping paper today and get that done.

I am also doing several gifts using photos, so need to pick up a few more prints at Walgreens and see if I have everything I need for those gifts.

Finished the Gap-Tastic Cowl. How does it look? (I didnt make it quite as wide as the patterns calls for) I hope this keeps me warm when I am home for the holidays!

Got the granddaughters' ballerina skirts done - lots and lots of tulle and ribbon. I hope they fit and that they love them.

Also got a fabric ditty bag done for my grandson. He is a huge sports fan and University of Kentucky is a favorite team of his (his mom and dad are both alumni).

A Green Bay Packer pillow case for Oldest Son:

I have been thinking about this little shell project for quite some time - saw some in a gift shop, and I finally tried my hand at it.

Gluing the shells worked out great. Putting the hot wax in the shell - not so good.

Actually, it seemed to go well, until all of a sudden, the wax seeped through the shell and leaked out all over the counter (luckily I was working on some cardboard). I think they are cute, but not going to work as candles I guess.

Mental note to self - next time you need to seal the inside of the shell with some sort of waterproofing.

Bathroom Remodel Update:

The remodel is almost done. Tile is laid (still needs grout), tomorrow we get measured for the glass shower walls and door. I think I am going to love it.


How is your crafting going? Is your shopping done?

Friday, December 9, 2011

When deadlines approach and the knitter has gift knitting to finish, what does every good knitter do? Yes, you are right - she casts on another project.

It all started on Wednesday, when I was at A Good Yarn to teach a workshop on knitting the Mini Flip-Flop ornament. As usual, there were some new finished objects to admire, and two (yes, two) projects caught my eye.

I just happen to have some Debbie Bliss Riva yarn that I won as a door prize waiting for the perfect project, and Amy (who works at AGY) showed me the Gap-tastic cowl. It is long, luscious and perfect for my Riva yarn.

Two days later, this is what I have so far....
They also had a sample of Lucky 13, by Coco Knits. This uses super bulky yarn, but I could hold three strands of my bulky Riva together and make this project too.
I haven't given up on the Coffee Cup Cozies - as you can see by this little stash. All I need is buttons. As anyone who sews will know, buttons can be pricey things to buy. I am hoping that my generous button jar in MI will hold some good ones - if not, I will need to dig into my wallet and buy some at the store.

My Kid's Felted Clogs - they need some more felting, my HE top loader doesn't work very well at this job! I might try a coin machine I guess.

I am still slogging through the skirt from he##. Not only is this taking forever, I'm not sure I have enough yarn, or that it will fit, or if it fits, will it look good. Seriously, what was I thinking??
How are you coming on those gifts? Or did you decide to knit for yourself instead this holiday season??

Monday, December 5, 2011

Another beautiful day in Florida. The kind of day that makes me feel guilty for not being outside all day (again with that Dutch guilt?). Went to breakfast to get away from the remodeling team, and saw this decorated bike in the parking lot. I didn't know Harleys got the holiday spirit!

Our remodeling has turned the corner, so all the dirty, dusty work is done. That means I spent several hours today cleaning up the furniture, lamps, blinds - all the hard surfaces. TanMan still needs to vacuum the upholstery and the floors, but it feels much better. I also finally got to put out some holiday decorations that we brought back from MI.

I put up the ceramic tree that our neighbor made for my Mom, decades ago. I love it.

These are ornaments from that my parents had from years ago. I love them. I remember loving them as a child and I still feel that way. I bet you have some special holiday item that brings back memories of holidays gone by?

Yesterday we took a road trip to Tampa, to have lunch with some friends who recently moved full-time to Florida. We ate at my favorite restaurant, The Columbia, in Ybor City. Afterward we stopped at the Hard Rock Casino. It was a busy place, and we left when our gambling budget ran out - I left wondering why do I like to gamble, when I rarely win??

I finally got to start knitting the coffee cup cozy on the road trip. I got two done, but in looking at them today, I realized I have a problem. One is seriously smaller than it should be, it has all of the rows, it is just a much smaller gauge!

Did the knitting fairy slip me smaller needles?

Did my gauge change that much between projects?

This is seriously freakin me out. I've got a third on the needles, but lord know what size that will be...

Friday, December 2, 2011

More Condo Remodel

The countdown to getting my gift knitting done has started. I was doing okay, but I keep coming up with more ideas of things that I want to make. My sister-in-law suggested that I knit this cute little cozy for her. Of course I have 4 other sister-in-laws too, but I think this looks like a fun project. Perfect for knitting from the stash!

I've got the man's felted clogs knit. I decided to make a pair for grandson Mason, so I have started those now. Not sure how the felting will work in my new washer - it is a high efficiency top loader -no agitator, but a drum that goes up and down. I'm not very optimistic. I'll keep you posted on that. Not to mention that I hate to use my new washer for felting!!

I did get a Christmas tree ornament designed, I think it is a cute little devil, just now sure what to do with it. Should I see if Kelly J wants it as a KalamazooKnits pattern? Should I just put it up on Ravelry and sell it on Ravelry and this blog? Oh my, I'm not sure what to do now that I don't have KalamazooKnits!

KellyJ has a new ornament pattern done for KalamazooKnits. It is Deck the Balls with Mosaic and I think it is adorable.

Speaking of Deck the Balls, on Tuesday I taught a Deck the Balls workshop at A Good Yarn. Three students participated and in addition to working on the pattern, two learned to knit in the round with the magic loop and one learned the long tail cast-on. That is a lot of teaching in 2 hours! But they all did great.

Our remodel is moving along, but I am tired of having someone in "my space". Not to mention the coat of grit on top of everything. It should be done by next weekend ( I hope!).

The is the hallway leading to the back of the condo, where the bedrooms and bathrooms are. On the left if the laundry closet (like my new washer & dryer?) The laundry closet still needs cabinets above the machines and bifold doors.

We raised the ceiling of the hall and the entry point into the hall. I love the look.

We are keeping the vanity and marble counter top, but getting a new light and medicine cabinet to match the lower cabinets. Ceiling has been raised and the walls redone.

Toilet and shower area. On the right is the shower - we removed the doorway that separated the toilet/shower from the vanity area, added a foot to the shower and cut out the partial wall to open up the look. The shower needs to be tiled, a cabinet above the toilet, etc.

It looks like a lot of work left, doesn't it?

Another beautiful fall day in Florida. I took a bike ride this morning (on my ancient one-speed) and I think I will sit on the beach for a while. Hope you have a great weekend my friends!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Up, Up and Away

We are headed back to Florida after an action-packed 10 days in Michigan. I think it will take me a few days to recover from the holidays!

I was able to spend time with most of my girlfriends, which is very important to me. Even though we text, email and phone while I am gone, it isn't the same as sitting down together for coffee, dinner, or even gambling! It always amazes me how time spent with friends can restore your soul. Thank you to all of my girlfriends - I am lucky to have you in my life - I feel very blessed.

Then there is the family - the real reason for being home for the holidays.

Our Thanksgiving at Ford Field in Detroit, watching the Packers/Lions game was a blast.

Two very happy Packer fans - oldest son and grandson Mason!

We had turkey leftovers at oldest step-daughter's house on the way home from the game and got to spend time with the 3 grandkids.

What a madhouse getting 4 of the 6 kids together - two are ages 5, 3 and 1.

We had our own Thanksgiving dinner on Sat night, with both of my sons and grandson. TanMan showed that he still knows how to cook a great meal.

On Black Friday I visited Your Local Yarn Shop , the new home of KalamazooKnits. Got to see what was new at the shop, talk with KellyJ about the new designs she is working on and spend some time catching up with my knitting mentor and good friend Susan!

YLYS knows how to rock a Black Friday - this year their grab bags were a huge hit - the bags were stuffed with patterns, yarn, gift cards, etc and the knitters were not disappointed with the value of their bags. I didn't buy any bags (something about my Dutch heritage that prevents me from spending $ when I don't know what I am buying), but Susan shared some of her yarn with me, so I felt the love anyway.

I did buy a couple of patterns there, Knitting Pure & Simple's Mukluks

and Fiber Trends's Children's Felted Clogs - thinking maybe they will be good Christmas gifts.

Speaking of knitting gifts, how are you coming on your list? I have 3 gifts completed, another one almost done and one more to go. Of course, I have a few others items I would like to knit, but not sure that will happen.

My Hip in Hemp skirt is getting in the way of the gift knitting. I am concerned that I don't have enough yarn, so I want to keep knitting to see if I have enough. It is kind of like when you are almost done with a project and the ball of yarn looks like you might run short, and you knit really fast, as if speed will compensate.

I am almost done knitting the latest KalamazooKnits pattern, designed by Kelly Jensen, called Just for Him.

It is a very cool hat pattern with a ribbed cuff and options for ear flaps. I actually finished the hat, but youngest son tried on the hat and I think I need to shorten the length a bit. I was working on it while TanMan was having a colonscopy & endoscopy, so I think I got carried away on the length, because it was nervous energy knitting. I just have to take an inch out and it will be perfect. More on the hat to follow.

And last, but not least, I want you, my faithful readers, to know how thankful I am for you! Many thanks to you all for following my knitting adventures! I wish you all a happy holiday season filled with great knitting!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I flew the coop

The holiday season has started for us. We have flown the Florida coop and returned to Michigan for 10 days of family fun. I am excited to see everyone and my biggest worry is that I won't have enough time to see all of my friends. So far, the time is allocated pretty much to family!

The last few days in Florida were busy. We have a home remodeling project that might start while we are gone and we needed to buy some items for our builder.

The project involves the guest bathroom (also known as TanMan's bathroom when no guests are in residence), the laundry closet and the coat closet in the entry way. They all join each other to make a rectangle of remodeling possibilities - as random as that may sound.

Our project in a nutshell...
Guest bathroom
- tear out half the wall and the door way separating the shower/toilet from the sink area. - Expand the 3 x 3 shower into a 3 x 4 shower, ripping out the yucky fiberglass enclosure and update it with tile. We will steal the extra foot of shower space from the entry closet.
- raise the ceilings if possible

Resulting collateral projects
- we need to re-tile the floor, since we will have untiled areas on the floor
- redo the walls, since there will be patching in a bunch of places
- update all of the towel bars, faucets, on and on (let's just say $400 at Home Depot).

Laundry Closet
We wanted to expand the toilet area into the laundry closet a bit but we ran into depth issues with the new fancy washer and dryer we wanted.

As luck would have it, our dryer broke a few weeks ago, so that timing worked out well. (TanMan might not agree on the timing issue, since he is the one who had to go to another building in our complex to use the coin operated dryers !)

We bought a new washer and dryer, but weren't able to get the fancy front loader and matching dryer to stack, but we did get a HE washer dryer that will fit in the space. Once TanMan pulled out the old equipment, it was clear it needed to be painted and that the old shelves won't do. So TamMan did a quick paint job yesterday - and we decided that now we need to put in new cupboards above the machines.

Of course, we should probably put in new doors while we are at it...

If this isn't scope creep (as we used to say at Pfizer), I don't know what is.

Then there are the two new ceiling fans we bought to replace the original one ins the bedrooms. When our builder saw those, he thought maybe we should have them wired to the wall switch, and then while we were at it, we might as well have the popcorn ceilings redone. Okay, I finally stopped the madness at that stage!! Just put up the fans and we can continue to turn them on and off with a pull chain. Oy.

Two rounds of visits to Home Depot and Lowe's, many sharp words and angry looks later, I hope we have most of what is needed. No wait, we forgot a new vanity light fixture and a new faucet for the sink...

I am just not a person who loves this kind of stuff... I know I will like the end product and I have no problem coming up with the big picture, it is just all of the details, complications and mushrooming costs that aren't my favorite.

And now it just occurred to me that I forgot to take before photos, darn.

Our flight was a few hours late and we should be landing soon. I will try to check in with you, but if I don't get the chance- have a great Thanksgiving.

Look for me at the Green Bay Packer / Detroit Lions game on turkey day -I will be the lady eating hot dogs instead of turkey, sitting with the son and grandson wearing Green Bay Packer shirts and the husband who is a Lion's fan.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Use It or Lose It?

The last few weeks have resulted in some humbling experiences for me and I'm starting to believe that the adage  "Use it or lose it" is true.

The day before I left to visit my girlfriends, I decided to whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies.    Making the dough was my first problem.  I thought I had checked the pantry to make sure we had all the ingredients, but I "assumed" we had the basics, like baking soda, vanilla.  Helloooo? doesn't anyone cook in this kitchen anymore??    Naturally, this required a quick trip to the grocery store (sidetracked by a stop at Bealls). 

Okay, got the dough mixed up and put the first batch in the oven.  I haven't baked in this oven much (no kidding, no vanilla?? no baking soda??), and I should have set the timer earlier and checked on the first batch was over baked  (not burned, just very brown).

I adjusted the timer for the next batch, and 10 short minutes later...oops, those were too brown too.

At this point TanMan is watching me and trying not to say something.  I can tell he is annoyed that I am ruining a good cookie.  I say nothing, he eats the dark ones, and I successfully bake two trays of cookies.

Last batch - you got it - I forgot to set the timer and actually burned those (not dark brown, not over baked...burned).

Luckily, I had enough to take to the girls and I left the bad ones for TanMan to eat when I was gone. 

I am kind of stubborn and needed to prove to myself that I haven't lost it, so when I returned, I decided to make my favorite biscotti recipe.  This time I made sure I had all of the ingredients before I started (see, I do learn from my mistakes...)   I put the almonds on a baking sheet to toast them up, I know they tend to burn easily, so I checked them.  Decided they needed to be stirred a little, so I was taking out the baking sheet, and hit the top of the oven, and spilled about 1/2 cup of almonds on the bottom of the oven.  Oops...they started to burn and I tried to scrape them out using a wooden spatula (which now has a nice, dark, edge to it).

The recipe said there is a a variation that adds almond extract to the dough.  Half way through the mixing, I wondered if maybe I used to make it that way??? still can't remember if I did or not...didn't have any in the pantry (no surprise there...), so it would have to do with just vanilla.   Spread the dough on the baking sheets, noticing that they really were spreading out, more than normal.  I put them in the oven and picked up the recipe to check on the baking time.   I guess I should have been wearing my reading glasses when I added the ingredients, I misread the quantity of flour, and left out 1/2 cup.  I guess that could explain why there were spreading too much??

I pulled out the baking sheets, and reshaped them a little since they had started to bake up, making them a little more normal in size.  At least I didn't burn them - in the first or second baking.  Finally a success!

I guess I don't want to "lose it", so what should I bake next??

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Update

Wow, where did this week go? 

I spent a few days hanging with some girlfriends - we have been getting together once a year for maybe 8 years or so.  I have missed the last couple of years, so it was good to be with them again. 

I did get some knitting done. 

The Christmas gift in the lovely cream Berroco Vintage yarn is done.  Nice pattern, nice finished project. I will tell you all about it after the holiday. 

Next up for gift knitting is another project using Vintage in grey.  It will have to wait until I am back in MI where I can get the needles that I need!

Spring Fling socks are also done, in A Good Yarn's custom color way, Gil's Night Out.  Just in time for a cold snap here in Florida, and I am wearing them right now.

I am working like crazy on a linen skirt.  It is  a pattern from, called Hip in Hemp.  I am doing it in Louet's Euroflax , Champagne shade.  I am knitting it on size 5 needles, and the only pair I can find is the Zephyr acrylic Knit Picks.   Linen is hard enough to knit on, and I really need a set of the nickel plated needle tips.  I will be back in MI in a week, so I can get them then   (my main problem with living in two places - I don't always have the right equipment when and where I need it!)

While I was gone, TanMan painted the living room (we had picked out the color together!!). It looks lovely.  I guess I wasn't meant for plain white walls.  Lots of the decorating magazines say to use white and then get color from everything else, but it just seems too institutional and cold for me.  Luckily, TanMan is a great painter, and willing to take on the task.

My other task is to wind off mini-skeins of Koigu for my Etsy store.  I have 31 new colors, so I will be spending some quality time with my ball winder, swift and skein winder!

Tomorrow I am going to A Good Yarn's second anniversary celebration.  It is an incredible shop, with a group of "regulars" that make me feel right at home.  I am looking forward to the party (and maybe I will win one of their fabulous door prizes.). Wish me luck!

Saturday, November 5, 2011


It has been a while since I updated you on my knitting, so here is the rundown...

BeeKeeper's Quilt.
I have stopped all production on the Hexipuffs.  I still love them, but I need to work on holiday gifts. I continue to sell the mini-skeins at my Etsy shop, Mermaid Knitting.  I have 31 colors of Koigu headed my way, so I will need to spend some quality time with my winder and swift to create the 25 yard minis.

Featherlight Cardigan
This is definitely in hibernation.  Haven't worked on it since we arrived in Florida. 

Spring Fling
One sock done, another about 1/4 of the way done.  Looks like another hibernating...but I am spending a few days with girlfriends this weekend - am taking this project and might just finish them!!

Holiday Gift #1
Actually isn't a WIP - but a finished project.  Can't show a picture or give much detail, in case the recipient reads this post.   They are socks - very large socks - for a large man's foot - and best of all - they are DONE.

I used to love knitting socks, but not so much anymore. 

Sea Turtles
Okay, these have no real value, other than I thought they looked cute.  I am intrigued by the sea turtles, since the whole nesting process is such a big deal on the island.  This is my first crochet project since the Angry Birds craze.   Did you notice you can buy Angry Birds plush animals all over now??

This reminds me of my anatomy lab - although we only dissected frogs and cats (that I can remember..)

I bought the eyes from an Etsy shop, 6060.  The sent them out right away and work great.  She carries all kinds of eyes and other facial parts.  Great prices, great service.  They really add a lot to the look of the turtle, don't you think??

Finished (but still needs blocking)
Taygete, using Schaeffer, Anne.  

Next Project- Holiday Gift # 2
SHHH, this is another secret.

Then there is One MORE project that I am starting..  It is a skirt using Louet Euroflax linen, that several knitters are doing at the yarn shop.   I resisted buying the yarn last week, but broke down and bought it this week.  I had to do a second gauge swatch- they had to be washed and dried, so it was a pain.  I usually always get gauge, but based on my swatches, I need to go up a needle size. 

What are you working on?
Have you started your gift knitting yet?

I will be spending a few days with some girlfriends up in Hudson, FL.  This is the group of friends known as the "flamingos", and I haven't flocked with them for a few years.  I am looking forward to some quality girl time. 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Know a Good Divorce Attorney???

Today TanMan and I are venturing into rocky waters.   We have boring windows in our living room that need some curtains, so I have spent days planning and working on them.  

Actually, I have spent five days already on this stupid project.  Today is day 6.

Day 1: Figuring out what kind of window coverings I wanted.  I have been pondering this for almost a year, but I got serious on this day...

Day 2: Buying fabric, rods, etc.

Day 3 & 4: Sewing the valances.

Day 5: TanMan and I went shopping to buy additions to the rods to make them work.  New hardware to hang them, because we needed some additional support brackets.... and I knew the nightmare had started!!!

Note:  It is important to realize that while Days 1 - 4 are going on, I know that TanMan is wishing I would just call someone to come measure the windows, make the drapes and install them...  Of course, I don't want to spend the $1,000 plus it will I continue on my merry, albeit frugal way...

On Day 5, he was with me trying to help me get the right hardware, etc - we didn't argue, but I could tell he was having serious doubts.

Day 6 - Today

TanMan couldn't find his drill.  I found it on the shelf, where it should be.  I'm thinking he isn't committed to making this project work.

He had to go to the hardware store for a drill bit and those plastic things you put in the holes.  Then he needed help putting the drill bit in the drill.  Seriously???  Okay, here we go.

First far so good.  Doesn't he look like he knows what he is doing?

Okay, we have a lot of hardware to go,be back in an hour or so.  

All of the brackets for the valance are hung.  TanMan is sweaty, but not crabby yet.  He needed a break.

Next up, three rods for the  panels.

Okay, all the brackets are hung and I am ironing the panels.

OMG, I am so happy.  The panels hung without problems, everything is lined up perfect and I am happy.

Final picture aren't great, because the sun is coming around to the west now and causing too much contrast.  (maybe I'll take new pics tomorrow morning). 

But take my word for it, it totally changes the look of the room.  Never mind about the divorce attorney.