Friday, October 02, 2015


Still moving along on socks. Not much to show, except I'm working on the ribbing of what might be the last of the summer socks.

Not much to say about halloween costumes, blue face paint and blue leggings have been aquired. One trip to Goodwill, and one short trip to Salvation Army have not turned up an appropriate sweater. Still waiting on the other child to stop changing her mind every 10 minutes.

Last week the weather turned slightly nippy (and yesterday decidedly nippy) and when it was highs in the upper 60s low 70s I decided to bust out the shrugs. I often don't really know how to wear them, or which ones look best. But I remembered to take selfies with 3 out of the four I wore. It turned a bit colder before I could get the fifth one worn, and I have no idea why I didn't selfie the other, probably because I wore it first.

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

I love shrugs, and I always feel like I never get to wear them, and I guess given that I had exactly one week in which they were weather appropriate, there might be something to that. We may still see some warmer temps, but the key may be to dig them out in the spring.

Progress has been made in these areas!

I finally figured out how to keep the cocoons in the garage wfor the winter, protecting them from mice, but still allowing air circulation. I have a used fish tank and today I bought a wire mesh cover like you'd have if you wanted to keep mice in. I bought it at the pet store and probably paid more than I would had I made something myself, but this fits perfectly. I have moved out all the birch eating ones, and will be moving the lilac ones after the girls have had a chance to help me "arrange" them.

Also! I have yarn and patterns all picked out for sweaters for the girls! Now all I have to do is buy the yarn. And since my LYS closed I don't feel at all guilty about online shopping. Whereas before I might try to order it from the store (because they never had enough of one color) and maybe wait forever.

So, am hoping that next week sees me complete the sadness costume by acquiring a sweater, and pinning down the other girl, ordering the yarn, finishing the sock and moving the rest of the cocoons.

Monday, September 21, 2015

wrapping up the summer of socks

I guess summer isn't technically over, but I feel like maybe the summer of socks is drawing to a close. As I said on instagram; the summer of socks is probably over when you feel the need to wear socks.

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

What I feel most bad about not completing is the large scale darning project I attempted. I hate darning, but thought it might be a good idea. In the end, I fixed the worst of my socks, and really what is left are places where some swiss darning or duplicate stitch would work (thin spots). My attempts at it have been less than stellar, and I need some practice. This is always a clue that it probably won't get done.

I did finish the first of the "emergency travel" socks. One of my daughters (the one who is not extremely picky about socks)claimed them.

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

Second sock is underway.

Also in the underway category, Halloween costumes. If you have been following me for a while, you know I like to sew these and I like to get a head start on them, because I am not a big fan of night before runs to the store for blue paint or whatnot. I thought initially that there would be little or no sewing involved this year. One girl wanted to be Sadness from Inside Out. I figured blue facepaint, blue hairspray, blue leggings and a trip to some thrift stores for a light blue or off white turtleneck sweater and presto.
The other daughter wanted to be a three headed.... something. Again, not terrible, wig stands from the craft store, a toy football shoulder pads to attach them, maybe make a garment to cover it all and presto!

The three headed girl wanted to look at patterns. (no sadness patterns this year, still no Olaf patterns) Remarkably three headed girl changed her mind. She decided she'd rather be a princess. Perhaps like Glenda, but more grown up. (she was Glenda in kindergarten). We found a pattern that she liked and bought it (on sale--score!). She wanted to buy fabric RIGHT NOW, but I made her wait until I could read the pattern. This weekend we went fabric shopping. There was talk about scary blood stained lace princess, silver princess, fuscia princess. Imagine my surprise when suddenly she wants to be a minion.

Officially, I have no idea what to do. I gave her a deadline (October 1) and I guess I'm leaving it at that.

As for the future, aside from much shopping at thrift stores, and possibly attempting to make minion goggles from canning lids, I want to plan sweaters for the girls. It has been three years since I made them sweaters, and they have both outgrown them. I made a gray sweater and a purple sweater. The gray sweater replacement will be the same pattern, possibly in gray(!) or maybe pink, or maybe blue or maybe.... (Yes, she wants to be a minion this week). The purple one wants to look at celeb and gossip magazines to find a "fashionable" sweater. I think we will be looking at ravelry--easier to figure out if I can actually replicate. She is thinking a blue green that will "compliment her eyes." Never a dull moment when you live with tween girls.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

peaches, socks, and school Oh my!

I felt like maybe I should title this post "what I did over my summer vacation" because I think that would make me feel more accomplished than a list of things I put off that I need to accomplish in September or even this week.

The kids went back to school and OH the list of things I put off while they were home is long.

Last year I did this whole write an entry every day as I slogged through my canning of both peaches and tomatoes. This year, I finished tomatoes so early. They were abundant this year instead of moldy. And then, peaches started coming in.

So here are the peach statistics so I don't forget. I made two batches of jam, one regular and one peach vanilla. I didn't really have enough fruit for the regular and so it is a little grainy, but the vanilla is OH MY. Then I managed to buy a half bushel of peaches from my regular orchard, even though they technically weren't selling them, And then a few days later I bought another (and they were selling them). So it worked out well and I ended up canning 24 pints of peaches. I didn't do any honey spice because it turns out that I'm the only one who likes them. I actually have enough peaches left on my counter to do another pint, but I think I'm going to smoothie them up instead. Maybe freeze them too.

I have been slowly slowly working on socks. at least the plain socks. until I ran into this

Yarn barf

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

And so now I am busy untangling yarn so I can knit. It should have pushed me to work on the complicated socks, but I am having complicated feelings about them. I'm sure that once the newness of school wears down, and my kids get healthy again (yes, school started yesterday and my kids have head colds), I will not feel like such a zombie all the time and will actually (gasp) maybe even have time to knit during the day every once in a while!

And yes, Halloween is on the horizon. I think I have a plan. One girl picked something I can easily scrounge around at second hand shops and find (she wants to be "Sadness" from Inside Out), and while the other one was more complicated (she wanted to be a three headed... something), she has decided instead upon being a pink sparkly princess. The pattern I bought is a generic Glenda, but we are going to "un-Glenda" it by maybe choosing some fushia and gold or silver. Stay tuned on that one.

And in case you were curious--all the caterpillars are now cocoons! It was a fun process, and now one of my many September jobs is to get them set for the winter, safe so animals don't eat them, and exposed to weather. Then we wait.

Last of the birch eating #cercopia #caterpillars has pupated

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

Thursday, August 27, 2015

late summer

Summer is in full swing here. I've talked to the peach guy about the bushel and got a definite "maybe" so am still waiting on those. We finished out Tomatoes from last year the same night our CSA came with tomato palooza. So I ended up with nearly a bushel of tomatoes, which I have been steadily canning ever since. I did the last of them today (and tonight is more CSA pickup!) and ended up with 4 pints of sauce and 14 pints of crushed tomatoes.

There are signs of fall--the weather turned cooler, and the girls picked up their schedules for 7th grade. Michigan starts after labor day, so we are trying to squeeze the last juicy bits out of late August. To that end, we went to a baseball game where I knit a heel on the "travel" sock, then made a mistake and ripped out part of it, reknit that at the dentist and then dropped a stitch that made it so I had to unravel a bunch of the heel---it was a yarn over stitch that unravelled quickly all the way to origin and POP disappeared.


Am almost where I was at the end of the ball game.

I also started Neldoreth and am about done with the ribbing. Once I got the hang of it, it wasn't hard but I KNOW I can't do it at a ball game or in the dentist's waiting room.


I guess the big news around here has been in the caterpillar front. If you came for the yarn, stop here. Well maybe not. The caterpillars are working on cocoons, so far half of them have spun one. Because Cercopia are related to silkmoths, their silk is similar. It is stronger than it looks and is really kind of fun to play with. As the friend who gave the caterpillars asked me: Are you wanting to knit with it? Maybe not, but I find it really fun to watch them spin. ,br> DSCN5344


Of course some of them are still just hanging out, doing their "thing"



Thursday, August 20, 2015

matchy matchy

I'm going to try for a bug free update. The caterpillars are doing great--is all I'll say. They are still caterpillars, but I'm thinking that will change soon.

Nope, today I'd like to focus on the other things going on, namely socks. I finished my vacation socks. I ended up dragging these in multiple car trips, baseball games and even knitting on them during a sleepover. Sometimes it was great. Sometimes the team I was rooting for scored and I dropped multiple stitches (that once I didn't find until it laddered down 4 rows and I had no crochet hook). In fact, I finished these shortly before leaving on another car trip. More on that in a bit. For now--the stats:


Pattern: Based on Ann Budd's Knitting socks from the toe up published in Interweave knits--sometime I can't remember when, I have this puppy memorized.
needles: US size 0
yarn: Knit picks Felci

I did my best to match them up and I came close enough for me--they might be a row or two off, but nothing that even I'll notice after a while.

So, then we were set to leave for my mom's house (a six hour drive, plus 3 days of knitting with my mom, then six hours back) prime knitting. But it was literally last minute so I grabbed somme yarn I bought on vacation--Noro Silk Garden sock. And all my DPNs and off we went.

Well, about 20 minutes into knitting I noticed (for the first time because I am teh dumb) that this yarn is handwash. I am many things, but I am not a person who handwashes socks. Yes, it is a failing. After arriving at my mom's house I discovered many ravelry knitters also complaining that they felt with wear. Which if you want a felted product might not be bad, but it was clear this yarn was not getting made into simple socks.

My mom is a knitter though and she let me dig into her stash and I found yarn perfect to make NeldorethAnd so I printed out the pattern. Well, Let's just say Neldoreth and car knitting don't mix for me. Now that we are home, it probably will get started again.

In my desperation, I begged to go to Hobby Lobby. Usually I prefer Joann's or Michael's but neither store is near my mom's house. At Hobby Lobby my choices of sock yarn were um scant. I ended up with "wool free sock stripes." it is a sign of my desperation that I'd choose this. But I did and on the way home (yes, I *was* pretty twitchy) I cast on a simple sock. I think it might not be for me in the end.


Maybe you have a good eye and you have noticed something I have noticed. The stripe repeat on this is LOOOONG. Which in practical terms means one of two things a) the socks won't match or b) the socks will match because I will have manipulated the yarn in a very very major way. since they may be for one of my daughters--they may actually not match.

Are you a sock knitter who needs your socks to match exactly?

Tuesday, August 04, 2015


This is probably going to be a more caterpillar focused post than a knitting focused post, so if bugs and caterpillars creep you out, you may want to skip this one. I did work on the sock but not much, so you won't miss anything big.
So, the caterpillars are getting bigger. I googled and it looks like they go through 5 "instars". Each instar is after it sheds its skin. Each molting looks worrisome because the caterpillar will stop eating and moving, and will sometimes stop pooping too. I mean you think oh man it is dead! and then it wiggles out of it's skin and gets back to business (sometimes will even eat it's skin). Last week, the tiniest of the lilac eating caterpillars worried us all and then shed and the next day left us this heart:
One of the birch eating one shed yesterday for it's next to last instar. It will only shed one more time before spinning. One of the interesting things to me is that the caterpillars are all the same age but are at different stages. Here are the biggest and smallest birch eating caterpillars
I mean look at those feet!
I know that sometimes when I take close up pictures, it gives the illusion that these guys are HUGE. And they are bigger than they were a month ago, But the biggest is a little smaller than my thumb.
How fascinated am I? Well, I took videos of them eating. And I encouraged my daughters to take videos of them pooping (which is actually more fun than it sounds). My video gets a little unfocused at the end, but I decided that it was pretty cool anyway:
If that doesn't show the video--Go here
And oh yeah, the sock is coming along:

Thursday, July 23, 2015

felici socks

Today I was thinking about summer and why I feel like it is just kicking my butt. I mean what's not to like about summer--it is finally warm enough that exposed skin won't freeze, you get to wear sandals, and you don't have to make your kids do homework or get up and get ready early. Summer has the best foods, with tomatoes and sweetcorn and fresh green beans. I love my kids being home, and not having to deal with the after school crankies (although now it is after pool crankies--but I don't have to make them do math in the midst of it). But MAN does it ever take forever for me to get anything done in the summer. It may be because stuff gets piled on. Currently I'm soaking lettuce and broccoli from the farm share, and I've made a year's worth of strawberry and sour cherry jam. The girls want to blueberry pick etc.

Case in point, I've been trying to write this entry for DAYS, before this sock picture got too out of date


I finished the first sock in the car on the way home from vacation and started the second. I even pulled out yarn so they could start close--and then had trouble casting on. Judy's magic cast on is a bear to do on a bumpy interstate. And so I ended up not being able to start exactly where I thought I should, but not bad matchup eh? I turned the first heel at a baseball game, ripped it out, knit more and turned it again at another that went into extra innings and it looks like that I may actually be turning the second sock's heel at another baseball game. I do love summer.

I wish I could tell you that I finished darning the last "socks of the week" and started a new pair, but alas that didn't happen. One sock is done, but the other still needs heel and some swiss darning.

I should also do an update on the caterpillars. I'll try to get a new picture for next time, as they look totally different now.