Monday, June 27, 2011

Another Summer Mystery

I started another WendyKnits Summer Mystery shawl using Blue Stocking from String Theory Hand Dyed Yarns.  It doesn't look like much yet, but...

The photo doesn't do the yarn justice.  It's gorgeous! And it feels incredibly good in my hand and knits up well.  Blue Stocking very well may turn out to be one of my favorite yarns.

And because I'm trying to stretch this post out a little further,  do you think maybe we have a woodpecker problem?

And last but not least,

I finally have blooms on one of my tomato plants.  And yes, I am aware that the grass is almost as tall as the tomato plant.  A farmer I am not.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Other than that weird shawl I finished the other day, just about all my other OTN projects are stealth projects.  Gift items.  Items I can't talk about until the gift has been given.  And not talking about them is killing me!  

I love knitting gifts for friends and family, but I also love talking about what I'm knitting.  In the past, I would simply psyco-cackle to my immediate family about the project, they would totally ignore me, and all would be good.  But now that I have this blog, I feel compelled to tell the world what I'm knitting.  And I can't right now.  Aack!  It's killing me!

I have been making lots of progress on my stealth projects.   That probably has something to do with the amount of time I've spent knitting while waiting on the kids lately.  Over six hours at the bowling alley just yesterday!  Zack's team won the set, by the way.

Today's plan is to go get my run in, which I really need to go do before it gets any hotter.  It's already 76 degrees and it's not even 8:30 a.m. yet.  After that, I'll spend some time knitting while I pretend to do laundry.  I may be able to get one stealth project finished today.  I'll be seeing the recipient in the next few days.  Maybe I can go ahead and give it to her, 3 months early, just so I can talk about it.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Not the Best Choice

I've once again proved that your choice of yarn has a huge impact on the success of your project.  The first time I knit a Meadow Flowers shawl I used a solid color lace weight yarn and the project turned out great.  Extra great actually, because it was my first attempt at lace.  I enjoyed the pattern so much that I knit it again.  But this time, I used Lorna's Lace Shepherd Sock yarn in the Icehouse color way.  Big mistake.  Here it is, unblocked when I was still slightly hopeful that the yarn wasn't too busy for the pattern.

And here, blocked, not looking so great.

The pattern is completely lost in the busyness of the color variegation.  Oh well, I assume someone at the local homeless shelter will be able to use it.  And, believe it or not, I still have plenty more yarn.  I have no idea why, but I had enough of that particular yarn to have knit eight king sized bedspreads.  And I'd already knit myself two pair of socks and a felted bag with it.  All I can say is, it must have been a Hell of a sale!  I have no idea why else I'd have bought so much of the same color of sock yarn.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Where's the swift?

Looky, looky, looky!  Look what showed up in my mailbox yesterday -

Oh, how I do love gift certificates and contest winnings!  And the only reason I'm typing this and not busy knitting is because I can't remember where I hid my swift and the fact that my left hand is still so cramped from yesterday's knitting excursion that I can't quite hold a needle today.

Yesterday was one of those glorious, perfect days that so rarely happen.  First, there was the cooperating weather.  Instead of the 100+ degrees and 4,000% humidity we've been experiencing lately, it never got out of the low 80's and there was no humidity.  And Zack was working which meant I got to drive him.  I will be so glad when he finally gets his license, although I will miss the "forced" knitting time.

Zack has a job clearing a jungle's worth of bamboo out of someone's yard, so while he chops down bamboo, I sit on their beautiful, shaded patio and knit.  The homeowner prefers that Zack not be left there alone because she's worried he'll fall & impale himself on a piece of bamboo.  It is kinda sharp.  My husband doesn't want him there alone because he's worried about snake attacks.  Personally, I'm quite happy to be "forced" to sit and knit while Zack works.  Specially on days like yesterday.  I was actually cold at first!  I was sitting there knitting away, wearing my running jacket (which luckily lives in the car for some strange reason) and a beach towel (which also lives in the car) wrapped around my chilly legs.

Normally, Zack only works a few hours per day.  It's just too hot, too many mosquitos and the work is too exhausting.  But yesterday, as I said, the weather was quite cooperative.  It was overcast at first, in the 60's & a breeze was blowing the bugs away.  Absolute perfect outdoor knitting & bamboo chopping weather.  Zack ended up working for five hours instead of the normal two.  Which meant five hours of knitting time for me.

I arrived home from "work" to find a whole new yarn stash had arrived.  Which of course led to fits and giggles and lots of heavy petting.  Next, there was the rush to get dinner cooked & everyone fed because it was knitting group night.  Another couple of hours of knitting time.

I got home from knitting group and struggled with the urge to instantly cast on some of the new yarn.  Eventually, the decision to finish at least one of my UFO's  before starting something new won out.   Mainly, that decision won because I can't quite remember where I put my swift.  Even as teens, my kids are fascinated by the swift and constantly play with it if it is left within their reach.   So, about an hour later, I was frantically knitting along on a stealth project when my left hand cramped up.  And refused to uncramp.  I have the feeling that eight hours of knitting in one day just may be my limit.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Mysteries & Miracles

I finished knitting the  Summer Mystery Shawlette on Saturday afternoon and I blocked it yesterday.

Sorry for the blurry photo.  I think my hands were shaking from excitement.  I absolutely LOVE this pattern!  I don’t have much experience knitting lace and this project turned out to be perfect.  It wasn’t one of those four row repeat patterns that are mind numbingly boring, but it also wasn’t so difficult that I had to lock myself in a quiet room in order to properly follow it.  Best of all, it was a very quick knit, even for me.  The pattern was issued in four parts and I was able to knit each section within a day or two.
My Mystery Shawl is knit with Silky Wool in color 55.  Although the yarn’s weight seems to be correct, my shawl only blocked out to 46 inches across the top and 24 inches down the center.  The Silky Wool doesn’t seem to have a whole lot of stretch to it and honestly, maybe I should have used a larger needle.  The shawlette is definitely a mini but will be a perfect neck warmer tucked inside my coat.
I can not wait to knit this pattern again.  I already know that I want a blue and a red one.  But first, I have to finish at least one other UFO.  I promised myself I would.  
Now, on to other exciting things...
Things, other than crab grass & poison ivy that is, are actually growing in my yard!  It’s a miracle!  Maybe my black thumb is finally starting to turn green.  
First, there are the lilies (another blurry picture, I’m afraid)

 Then there’s the Weigela and Rose of Sharon,

And of course, the Stephen King grape vines,

The grapes have gone crazy and are growing like something out of a Stephen King novel.  The vines are growing so freakishly fast we are afraid to sleep at night.  We may go to bed and wake up the next morning so entangled in grape vines we can’t escape.  Back in February, we trimmed the vines back for the very first time.  We thought we’d gotten a little trimmer happy and probably wouldn’t have grapes for a few years.  Boy were we wrong!  Actually, we don’t have that many grapes.  We have vines and leaves.  But maybe there are a few grapes somewhere under all those leaves.
And last, but not least, one of the Mimosa trees has an open bloom on it.

Ok, it’s hard to see the bloom, but it is there.  Both trees are loaded with unopened buds.  It’s going to be breathtaking if they all open at once.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Remembering D-Day

My dad passed away several years ago and he is greatly missed.  Oddly though, D-Day reminds me more of him than either his birth or death days do.  Dad arrived on that fateful Normandy beach on Day 2. After surviving that, he went on to experience the Battle of the Bulge as well. Dad had a few funny stories to tell about his European visit but I think he had quite a few horror stories that he kept private. 
Dad was always active, with the exception of his night time T.V. (Lawrence Welk, Hee-Haw, Mash and Wild Kingdom. Dad had pretty exciting tastes in T.V. programing!) Dad never just sat. He did. He built radios, built wooden stuff in the garage, hunted for "dead indians" (Dad's Very non-politically correct term for archeology,) hunted, fished, hiked.... But on D-Day, he always just sat. He'd sit in a rocking chair in the living room, stare off into space and occasionally, you'd see a tear run down his face. As a kid, I didn't understand but learned to avoid the living room. As a teen, I learned to be respectful when he stopped staring off into space long enough to give me the "This is D-Day" lecture. But I still didn't understand. History was never my thing. It's only been in the last few years that I've become interested and have really started to comprehend the enormity of D-Day and WWII in general. 
Dad told a funny story about landing at Normandy. They'd heard that the previous day hadn't gone well, but.... He was in charge of the radios and communication. He carried a fortune in radios and equipment and figured they'd never send him onto that beach if it wasn't safe. While he was waiting his turn to leave the ship he watched jeeps from other ships float away. The other ship's jeeps were carrying huge vats of water and those vats floated. And caused the jeeps to get carried away. When it came time for dad to leave his ship, he had to drive his jeep standing up because the water would have been over his head if he sat down. His instructions were to hit the beach and immediately dig a fox hole and get into it. Well, as I said, Dad figured they wouldn't risk loosing all that equipment so it must be safe. He hit the beach and ambled up to the one tree still standing. He put down his pack, set up his cot and lay down to rest. Instantly, the tree exploded. He was being shelled. Then he'd end the story with "You never saw a white man dig a hole with his helmet so fast in your life!" 
Dad also told a story about being lost in a snowy pine forest. This one wasn't so funny. In the middle of the night, the Germans attacked his unit's tents. The shells started flying and Dad escaped out of the back of his tent - with no coat, no gun, no supplies. The only thing he did have with him was a little German shrapnel in his knee. For over a week, he was lost and alone in that pine forest. Eventually, he met up with guys from some other country and he hung with them for a while. For several days, they did nothing but walk down a dirt road and chop trees down with axes in hopes of stopping the German tanks. 
Somehow, that story morphed into once again being alone and hearing loud, boisterous voices in the distance. He followed the voices and came upon a HUGE, gigantic wine vat. He was in France after all. In the vat, were 5 or 6 drunken military men swimming in the wine. Of course Dad joined them. 
He told stories of fishing in the Rhine, of trying to hunt rabbits by hand (didn't want to waste a bullet) when there was no other food available. Stories of prostitutes offering free services if Dad would give them one of those rabbits. Of how the women threw themselves at the soldiers when they marched into one particular town in France. The town's people were just so happy to be rescued. 
Dad made all the stories sound like a fun adventure. But I know from the way he'd sit in that rocking chair staring off into space with a tear slowly sliding down his cheek that it wasn't all fun. 
So here's to you, Dad. And all the other men and women involved in WWII, for that matter. Thank you for your service. Thank you for fighting so hard to preserve our freedoms. You'll always be remembered.