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.

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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.

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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

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

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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:

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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.

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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

caterpillars

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:
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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
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I mean look at those feet!
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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.
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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:
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If that doesn't show the video--Go here
And oh yeah, the sock is coming along:
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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

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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.

Friday, July 10, 2015

bright socks done!

Should I start every entry with: the Summer of Socks continues? Because it does!

The sock I started as a sort of emergency "trip" sock continues to travel, more locally. It has gone to two minor league baseball games. In face, I turned the heel in the 7th inning in the first one (on July 3) and then decided to rip out the heel and knit more foot length at the game last night. I did get the heel all finished, even though I had to stop knitting in the 9th inning because I was making a lot of mistakes and it was getting late. The game went 15 innings with the hometown heroes losing and with us getting in at midnight. At any rate, here is a pre heel rip out picture.

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I also decided to try some swiss darning (or duplicate stitch) on this week's sock. I ended up having to go back to my tried and true weaving a patch for the heel because the stitches were so stretched out. One heel is done. I'll do the other soon and try duplicate stitch on the foot area. Might be next week though as I seem to be running out of week! I knit these in July of 2012 after taking them on vacation. They actually have worn pretty well for having an obviously too narrow heel.

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I also finished the leftover socks, finally! All I really had to do was a few more rows and bindoff. I'm not sure why I need to look at instructions for the bindoff--Jenny's surprisingly Stretchy bindoff is incredibly easy once you have the process in your head. It has been a little hot to wear them but the things I do for this blog.

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And last, but certainly not least, we adopted a few more pets this week. I do a lot of volunteering and it puts me in touch with a wide variety of people. One person that I especially like is an entomologist for a public garden. She is very cool and always is doing something fun and buggy. This summer she managed to breed a few wild moths and ended up with an abundance of caterpillars. Now some knitters might actually be horrified with this but this summer I am helping her raise moths. Many people think of moths as eating sweaters, but really it is larva both of moths and carpet beetles. These moths however are Cecropia and while they do eat a lot, they don't eat wool. In fact my nine eat birch, while my daughters each have 3 eating lilac. They are native to my area, and so releasing them in the spring wouldn't be an issue. In fact, I doubt these would survive if they were outside. Heck, they may not survive being raised by us. they are cute though:
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They like to hang out together which is fun. And I love watching them. I don't actually have a birch tree though so I am roaming the neighborhood and knocking on doors. Well and hitting playgrounds--a surprising number of playgrounds have birch trees.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

car knitting

The only problem with taking a long weekend is that it kind of killed both weeks. We left for a trip "up north" after a busy week and got back mid-week this week. About halfway through last week, I realized I had not started darning the socks of the week, and then I got a comment from Daisy that reminded me about swiss darning, and honestly that would be perfect for last week's socks. I need to dig out my magazine that explains it well and do some research. All of this is a long way of saying I took a two week break on the darning, but I'll be back to it next week.

And so yes, we took a trip which meant car knitting. And I had a slight problem, the socks I had been knitting were almost done and I had not planned another project.
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And I kind of wanted to use the needles I had been using in this project. As you can see I am only like 5 rows away from the bind off. And since I've been using a bind off I rarely use (but should use more often--Jenny's surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off), I needed to have my cheat sheet along. So I decided to put in some yarn to hold stitches and take the needles with me, and finish the socks later.

This did not however, help when deciding, what do I knit on this trip!? The answer, I was sure was maybe a scrap yarn sock. I was thinking a purple pattern with solid purple toes and heels maybe? But purples are super hard to match. I was sure I had a solid purple that would go with ONE of these purples.
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Alas, I could not find it.

I also tried seeing if any of my greens would go together (no), before deciding just to give up. I dug out my last knit Picks Felci and took it along.

I hesitated with this because I have several pairs of socks made from this yarn, and it doesn't hold up as well as many others (proof--I'm darning almost all of the ones I have already knit). But in the end, it was probably the best choice as it doesn't require much beyond a simple toe up sock.

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Now to change needles again just long enough to finish off the other socks.....

Sunday, June 21, 2015

socks, strawberries

Summer is officially kicking my butt. But the socks progress! Actually I knitted so much more than I darned this week, in part because I needed to catch up to the season finale of Game of Thrones, and sometimes I just need to focus on my knitting instead of the tv. So I turned a heel. Even though I can turn a heel while watching, let's just say I watched this heel turn.
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I also got out my skein of Modeknit sock yarn

(in "no Spoilers--Merry Maids") and tried to imagine what it would look like knit up as Neldoreth. And sigh. While I could easily imagine the green ("no spoilers Sherlock's kitchen") in this pattern, I'm feeling that this isn't quite right for me in this colorway. And I hate to even say anything like this at all because I LOVE this yarn, and would love to have about 6 other colorways in my "collection" (ie stash) Merry maids is not quite the color I thought it would be. I looks pinker and muddier than I had thought it would be. I'm sure I'll find the perfect pattern for it, but Neldoreth isn't it. hmmm I may have to buy Lyanna blue and/or Daenerys Eyes if they become available in the sock yarn. Red wedding would probably also be good on Neldoreth. And I can not say enough about how lovely this yarn is to work with.
So, I guess the quest continues to find a yarn to go with that pattern, or a pattern to go with my modesock....
Meanwhile, the darning project continues.
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So many of the socks in my darning pile are from Knit Picks. Either I knit them too loosely or the yarn is weak, but man they get thin fast, although according to ravelry I finished these in Feb 2012. At any rate, both socks needed heel and foot work. Because summer is kicking me you know where, I have only 1.5 of this repair complete at the end of the "week."
Looking at my to do list shows that while the list was long there are still three items on it--only two I'll try to finish today (as I start next week's list). And in case you are wondering--Change the little frogs' water and darn the socks get the attention while cut off capri's does not. Although to be fair, I did one pair of the 2 pairs of capris I promised to make into shorts for my daughter. After weeks of the "how short do you want them?" question, answered by a shrug, I cut measured a pair of shorts I knew she liked, asked if that was the right length and hemmed them to a 7.5 inch inseam. This is evidently too short. So second pair is on hold.
One item I did not put on the list but should have is: make Strawberry jam. Because boy did I ever. I made 4 batches of freezer jam this week--and 2 last week so 6 total. I'm done with (strawberry) jam (will make cherry and peach and have been asked for blueberry --yuck), and now moving on to strawberry lemonade concentrate this week. Maybe strawberry marshmallows. We keep eating them (the strawberries) though. And I can't imagine a scenario where we eat a whole pan of strawberry marshmallows. I may just freeze the puree needed for them and make them at Christmas when I can give a bunch away.