Monday, December 21, 2015

hopelessly behind....

Ok, so I probably should have knocked on wood after that last entry, because I read it and I feel so naive and optimistic! Of course things fell apart!

I did finish the panda PJ pants--trust me they are in the hamper as we speak.

And I did not do any other sewing or knitting. Oh wait that's wrong. I finished the one knitted gift I am making this year. And in the last entry I promised a picture. And I believe in promises. So much so I unwrapped it so I could snap a quick ipad picture.

Shhh somebody's #knitted gift

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

Don't worry, I had it in a gift bag.

Mostly, I've been decorating and baking. The tree is up! The fall quilts are down and the Christmas quilts are up--including the advent wall hanging that my Mother in law made years ago--that the girls made ornaments for. Of course everyone has been so busy that they are two days behind putting up the ornaments!

And the baking! I have made one batch of pecans, the marshmallows and two batches (first batch totally gone!) of salted caramel. (I'm feeling lazy about the recipes. I've linked them before. googling Oprah Salted caramel should get you that recipe and googling betty crocker peppermint marshmallows should get you that one. Spiced pecans are probably buried many years back in the blog). Tomorrow teacher gifts, filled with those go out. I didn't make any hard candy this year, I doubt we will miss it.

Today in a frenzy of shopping, I bought the last gifts, and all the containers needed for packing teacher treats. Then I came home and wrapped everything. I am still waiting on one gift in the mail, and still in the process of making one gift.

So what still needs to be "done." Well packing the teacher treats, probably one more batch of both caramel and pecans (for US!), and the placemats. I have most everything cut--and so sewing should probably be happening now. I am probably not going to get to the other 4 pairs of PJ pants until after the holidays. (say January) I did cast on finally for a sweater. I am hoping that I won't have to re-cast on (gauge is always tricky with me--YES I did a swatch) and am hoping that as we travel and visit with people this holiday season, I'll have plenty of time to knit.

Monday, December 07, 2015


I feel like I have made such steady progress that I need to document it here, so the next time I feel slogged down with the soul crushing weight of projects undone, I can look to this entry and think, "ah yes, on December 7 I felt accomplished". Ok maybe not, but onward

First, I totally finished the monkey Pj pants


And I cut out and sewed together MOST of the panda PJs (no picture, you'll have to trust me that all it is missing is a waist band).

I also made not one but TWO rockin Barbie outfits.


The white outfit was fashioned after some music star red carpet outfit that my daughter who is into all things glam found online. It is being modeled by a Barbie with a glitter undergarment of some sort.

I always hesitate to write too much about gifts here, especially when one of the three or four people who read this blog might be the one getting the gift. But I do have to talk about two of them. First, the one I have no pictures associated with. Someone in my life wanted a "thing like you made the girls only REALLY soft". She means a cowl like this one:


and this one:


And since, I have no idea what yarn those were in, and I'm guessing they were probably clearance the many years ago I made them, I just decided to look for some soft and bulky yarn. Along the way, I ran into a store that was selling something like this and by golly it was cheaper than what I was thinking I'd have to spend on yarn. HOWEVER, this didn't happen as I was able to buy some chenille yarn at a pretty low price. I got that cast on (twice) and joined (straight) and knit about 3/4 done. No pictures because most of the knitting was accomplished while riding to a band contest. Pictures next time, I promise. And it is soft.

I also got it in my head to make placemats for someone. I have a pattern for a quilt as you go that starts with a center square and builds triangles around it. I was struggling with colors and kind of feeling like it was a bit old fashioned looking. I also was googling just to see if it was a pattern that maybe I could share here (even though I originally got it maybe 18 years ago as part of a class I took--you never know!). Anyway, I found something I like better. A quilt as you go that uses stripes. I had decided that this would be a scrap only project and was originally thinking blues. And this is where I need to back up a bit.

In 2014, I undertook a resolution that I would get rid of at least 2 things every day. And in the fall--I hit my sewing room hard. Except.... Well I didn't want to just throw away the fabric. And I didn't want to just give away the fabric. So I put it all in a giant tub and planned to sell it. Except I never did. I SHOULD have, after a year, just donated it all. But I'm kind of glad now that I didn't. You see I went digging through the tub looking for blues to use in this project and I found the HUGE stash of Christmas fabric that I had been given. I pulled it all out, sorted through it all and discovered I had a bunch that went together pretty well.

I think I'm going to use one of these two groups (there is only one fabric difference)


I have not quite decided which of these. And I have to see if I have enough batting scraps to make at least 4--although I'd like to make 6.

Yep that's right, I just added a project to my list from last time. And I haven't started baking. That's just how I roll in December (and how I roll right to crazytown).

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

December goals

I had thoughts about doing daily entries in December as part of the Holidailies tradition. And I started to think about the crafting I want and need to get done this month. I got as far as making a list:

6 pairs of PJ pants (2 for the girls, one for me, one for my husband)
Barbie clothes I have promised the girls--which includes a pants suit and two dresses. (And hey I got one made!)
all the treats for teachers: marshmallows, salted caramel, spiced pecans, possibly hard candy
A scarf my Mother in law hinted she'd like for a gift
And the sweater that goes with this swatch

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

It seems like there was something else because my list felt super long, but maybe because I have condensed it here (Like 6 pairs of flannel pants did not get written as: Make panda pants, make matching plaid pants, make penguin pants, make dot pants and make monkey pants).

At any rate, after I looked at my list and all the other stuff that has to happen this month (some increased work responsibilities, plus all the present gathering/wrapping/decorating), I just decided that taking on a daily project would perhaps make me crazy. So instead I'll do what I've been doing--fitting in projects where I can, doing little bits here and there and reporting here as often as I have a spare minute. Maybe I'll even get my act together and do some pictures.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

finished object Lap blanket

I always say I'm a slow knitter. And to some degree I am and to a larger degree, I don't spend a lot of my free time kniting. Heck, some people would say, I have no free time. And it is sort of true that I don't have a lot of free time as I have two children that keep me hopping, as well as tons of other things, but as I found out this month, if I make a point to knit while I wait for my girls to finish showering, instead of checking facebook or pinterest I will actually get things done!

What did I get done? Well a lap blanket!


At one point, I realized I was running out of yarn, and I wasn't sure it was long enough. But I had a great coupon and bought another set (for less than $10!) but then I worried that maybe I should just end it there. Usually if I get to fretting about a project, I'll stop working on it for a while. And I did that with this project and decided to weave in the ends, while I thought. And I asked on facebook how long people thought such blankets should be. In the end, I decided to add one more color repeat. And Monday night I finished binding off (and weaving in the few ends that were left). I decided then that I should do a single crochet all the way around because it was curling. After trying several times, and not being satisfied with how a crochet edging looked, I decided to scrap that part. So last night, I declared the project finished.

As you may recall--the blue, green and purples, are all Vanna's choice yarn. And I used just a little over 1 skein of each. The white is Loops and Threads, and is whatever was left on the skein I already had. Probably most of one. I used US size 8 needles, and the pattern is Chevron baby blanket. I didn't modify except to add length.

Now, all I need to do, is write up care instructions and get it delivered!

Next up sweaters for my girls.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

blanket progress

The big debate I had today was--write about my knitting or actually knit. And I love the project I'm working on, and it is going well, so writing about it wasn't first priority and then I thought--Hey I can show it off!

As you might recall I am working on a lap sized blanket for a member of my book club who is undergoing chemo. I'm using the Chevron baby blanket pattern. I'm using Vanna White yarn. Which while not the most cuddly, is affordable and washable. I think if I were going to re-do this I'd think about Berroco Comfort or Knitpicks mighty stitch. This is a fun pattern, and I love the colors I picked out. I hope that my book club friend enjoys it as well.

You might also recall, I set a deadline of Dec 2 for finishing. I started it for real on friday last week--ripped it out almost immediately and started over. And took some pictures to document the process.

This is Saturday--after a sleepover in which I knit during the movie and well past my usual 10pm deadline


Two days ago, I posted a terrible picture color wise to instagram.(took it on my ipad)

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

Yesterday it looked like this


and shortly before I started writing today:


with my hand for scale


I want to make it longer than the original pattern calls for because I'd like it to cover full stretched out legs. I worried about it being weird shaped given that it is only 28 inches or so wide. But we'll see how it looks as it gets longer. I'm wondering if this is just the first of several of this pattern I'll make, because wow am I really loving just about everything about this project.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

feast or famine

I swear my knitting life is feast or famine. Either I can't think of anything I want to knit or I have a bunch of projects or ideas for projects going. The summer of socks was kind of a reaction to that and after doing several plain vanilla socks I feel like I have the knitting feast back.

I finished a small project that is a gift and so I won't say much about it until it hits its recipient. Except that it made me want something like it, so I restarted a project I had finished and ripped out last year.

Then I finally got the girls to decide on colors for the sweaters I want to knit them, and that yarn is currently winging its way here.

THEN, well I started something a little ambitious. Or maybe starting is too strong a word since currently I have 16 stitches on the needle for an informal swatch. If this were a sweater, the swatch would be bigger, but this is a lap blanket and so I just want to make sure that a) I'm in the ballpark for width and b) that I'm going to like the fabric I'm creating.

And yes, I said lap blanket. A lady in my book club was diagnosed with some pretty serious cancer this summer. I'm not close enough to offer to do the things that would be helpful (meals, driving keeping company etc), but I feel moved to want to do something, so I decided I'd knit something. At first I thought hat, but not everyone likes hats. Then I thought fingerless gloves because I understand the chemo centers are cold and I know my friend likes to read. But fingerless mitts don't keep me as warm as I like, and several websites I saw suggested lap sized blankets. So I went looking and found one that I think she'd like.

Ok, it is called Chevron baby blanket and it was the number one pattern (based on popularity I think?) under the blanket pattern in Ravelry. I think it is a good size, although I want to be sure I get the width right because I could add repeats for length. I have not completely decided if I'm using 3 or 4 colors. I have bought three. Or rather I bought two and had one in stash. I am making this in Vanna's choice just because I want it to be easy care. I have a cream (which I owned and is not actually Vanna's choice, but another craft store brand) and a soft blue and a soft purple. I was considering a green. Michael's wouldn't let me use more than one coupon today (although they sometimes do) and so I decided to swatch a little and see if I need more yarn or colors. I can always make multiple trips.

I'd like to finish it before the next book pass which I think is December 2, although at the rate I have been knitting, I might not make it. I'm not really doing any hand knits at Christmas, so maybe this is doable. Plus I knit better on a deadline. Ok I don't knit better, I just decide not to clean and knit instead.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

halloween 15

Ok. So at this time of year, I usually take much needed sewing breaks from my making of halloween costumes to blog about sewing on said costumes. This year? Ok this year was both easier and harder.

It was easier because one girl decided to be sadness from Inside Out. And if you follow that link you'll understand the ease of this. We found some blue leggings at Kohl's for $7 and a fleece blue cowl necked shirt at the thrift store ($3!) and I bought some blue and white face paint and a blue wig. Due to my policy on not showing kids faces on the blog, I may not actually post the finished photo here. In essence this costume is more about the face, than the clothes.

But it was harder because the other girl had trouble making up her mind. First she wanted to be a three headed monster, than a princess, then finally a minion. But not just any minion--A cute minion. She declared a need for goggles, a tutu and overalls. I'd love to say that hey I have all that done and am basking slightly in the glow of the tealights in the pumpkins.


I have in fact purchased at thrift store a shirt the right color and was told it a) smelled like old man (Before I washed it--I wanted her to try it on so I could return it! if it didn't fit) and b) had a turtleneck. So I washed it and removed turtleneck. Then she said she wanted to wear her blue leggings so ok. But then she wanted a tutu that "stuck out" and overalls with a Grue symbol.

This is what I have come up with:

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

I created the overall part, managed a buttonhole! and used fusible web to create a Grue eymbol. She thinks the tutu is too long but eh.

Goggles might be the end of me. I saw a tutorial on Pinterest that used canning lids and wiffle balls, but I thought I'd use very large googly eyes instead. BIG MISTAKE. Those googly eyes are too big for ANYTHING. and nothing I've been able to work out has satisfied her.

So basically I am waiting for her to come home from school and approve the latest incarnation which is a wide mouth canning lid and said eye. She can go as one eye or I can glue a second one on. Maybe. I don't have the rivet tool from the pinterest tutorial I found, and so I bought elmers brand super glue and I'm hoping there is enough surface between two lids to glue.

A photo posted by Jodie (@ja_gardner) on

So here I am basically last minute (wearing these to school Friday) throwing stuff together. I hate that feeling! But I have a coffee date planned for after everyone is off and I plan on sleeping that extra hour out over the weekend, and come back with more knitting in November!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


I used to really love fall, the leaves turning, the apples, the digging out of handknits. This year I find myself hating it: the mornings are darker, the days are colder and I put off digging out the handknits. I'm trying really hard and the days lately have been helping. Spectacular days with colorful leaves are making the morning exercise go much smoother, but still, I'd rather go back to summer. A lot of people hate knitting in the summer, but I love it in part because when you finish something you can put it away almost like a Christmas present to yourself when colder weather gets here. Which I guess is a long way of saying, I pulled me new socks out of the drawer the other day and it made it a little easier to get going on a cold morning.

I finished the last of the "summer socks" and will take a picture later when the recipient can model them. I was very close to finishing them last week right before we decided to go on a short trip. I didn't want to take them along and finish them on the road and not have anything else to knit, so I decided to do that really stupid thing that always gets me into trouble and bring yarn, needles, and pattern and start a new project.


I picked this yarn that my mother in law gave me. She had bought it and a pattern at her quilters lock in. And someone told her they went together. The yarn is Linaza and the pattern is Dragon Hide Mitts. The pattern calls for a DK weight yarn and as I discovered 1/2 hour down the road, Linaza is not DK weight.

So I swatched. And I swatched again. I ended up never getting guage, never even getting close, but getting to the point where if I made a bigger size, i could stand the fabric I was making on size 1.5 US and even then, it was a little airy for mittens. But I started anyway. About 4 rows in, I realized I was doing seed stitch instead of 1X1 ribbing and I just gave up. Perhaps this yarn is not going to be THIS pattern.

But it does leave me at loose ends.

I have the socks that were on the needles done. I have, I think, gotten a little tired of socks, and I'm not wanting to dive into the other sock project I have. The girls have not decided on colors for the sweaters I want to make them--which is getting old. So what should I make?

While I decide, here is a picture of me on a turtle from our trip. My handknit sock is sort of peeking out.


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.

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.


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.


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.


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:

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.
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.
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.


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.
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.
socks of the week
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.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

leftover bright socks

Because of the way that feedly and facebook show thumbnails, I'm going to lead off with the progress on socks I'm making. I'm not sure why, but I feel like I must finish these plain boring socks before I can start something complex. A smarter person would start the complex socks and have two sets going, one for traveling and places where a simple sock is best and one for times when you need complex knitting. I suspect I feel I must finish these, because I only have the one set of size 0 dpns. Ok that's not true, I think I have 2 or 3 sets of US ) but I LOVE these.

Ok the socks!
As you can see they are going to be more fraternal than identical. That is by design. This yarn not only has large color repeats, but I'm using leftovers of two colorways. The second sock is actually coming out more like how I envisioned both socks. No matter--these are fun and playful. And I take them places because they are just a simple toe up pattern, that I swear I could do in my sleep.

Sigh, I really should at least swatch for a complex sock.

Onto the darning project. This week's sock to darn are these:
Which I went to look on ravelry for when I made these, and I NEVER documented them. I tried looking for them on this blog and I can't find them. When did I make these? I have no idea. I know the yarn is Lorna's laces and so the fact that they are wearing thin on my heels surprises me, because I think of them as relatively new. Oh hey wait--found the entry from May 2013 so two years. Hmm, why did I not put them in ravelry? At any rate, I have one sock darned, and need to start the other.

I also went through ALL my socks and have a pile of those that need repair. Sigh. It is large. It will take one pair a week all summer.

And of course it is the last few days of school, so I've been tackling the constant influx of stuff from lockers. Failing of course:

Thursday, June 04, 2015

summer of socks begins!

I declared this summer to be my summer of socks!

what does that mean summer of socks?  Well it means I'll be working on my socks this summer--both looking at making new ones and making sure the ones I have are in good repair so come fall, I have no big surprises. I did this in part because my handknit sock collection is getting older.  Sure, I add a new pair every year or so, but I don't think I've ever gone through and really thought about which socks might be beyond saving.  So far, I've pulled out four pairs that either are just beyond repair (old darning patches have holes!) or they have holes, and I just don't like them enough to repair them (like maybe they don't fit me right). I also pulled out four pairs that need some repair (And honestly, I need to go through them all and find all the ones with holes).  I hate darning though, so I'm making myself take care of one pair a week.  I started that last week, and promptly didn't do last week's pair. 

This week though, I did that PAIR and this week's pair.
This is this week's pair.  I did one sock already--this one needed both the heel and the ball of my foot.  Usually most pairs just wear at the balls of my feet.  I'm glad I'm not a 19th century maiden lady looking for a husband because my darning is quite simply atrocious.

And of course, I'm going to try to knit a few pairs this summer.  This has been my traveling sock, as it is just a plain sock pattern.  I was playing around with two different skeins of leftover yarn.  So the toes and heels are in one skein, and the rest in another. 


Further, I've been playing with something.  First, I know that tighter knit socks SHOULD be less prone to holes, so I am knitting these on size 0 needles.  Second, the gauge I usually use for socks means that when most sock patterns call for 64 stitches, they are way way too big on me. In part because I need a sock smaller than most sock patterns make and I think I'm always a little loose on my knitting. 

I'm thinking about fancier patterns though. Like Knitty's Neldoreth. Wouldn't that look just divine in Modeknit sock yarn?  Of course it would.  I wanted to do that pattern/yarn combination a while ago when I made some just plain green socks.

I also just lost about 20 minutes looking through knitty at all the other socks I'd like to knit.  That doesn't even dive into the two issues of sockupied I own or all the sock books I own.  I might just have a tiny little sock problem.... First though, finish the plain socks.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Finished: Indigo Cones

I finished it! I totally finished the indigo cones shrug in time to wear it to my nephew's high school graduation!

At first when I finished knitting I was all like--whew done, and then I realized, nope--ends to weave in, buttons to choose and block that puppy. So, I wove in the ends, went through my buttons and asked facebook and in person relatives about which of these buttons:


And eventually decided on the lower button.

Then I blocked it (and waited for freaking ever for it to dry) and got the button sewed on just in time to pack it. I wanted to photograph it before I left, but eh no time. So, I had my husband take pictures of me on the trip. And no, I have no idea why I al always holding my arms like that:



For the record:
Pattern: Indigo Cones from Knitty.
yarn: Nashua Creative Focus Linen (discontinued) color: bleach; 3 skeins
needles: US size 3 and US size 8
size: medium
button: totally forgot where it came from.

It was a totally fun trip and when I told my sister in law I had knitted it, she didn't believe it--one of the highest compliments, I think, is that people think your handknits are not homemade looking. And now I feel like the summer of socks might be upon me. I am having a serious hankering to make some fun socks--which means trying to figure out a pattern that I like that will fit my narrow feet (which is a story for another day).

Friday, May 08, 2015

light at the end of the tunnel

One thing you should know about me is this: I don't usually knit during the day. Even though I work part-time outside the house and am home a lot with no one really watching my every move to make sure I don't "waste time," I usually reserve knitting for after kids are in bed and I'm watching tv with my husband. For the most part it works. Oh sure it might mean that I only get an hour to knit or that I may have to spend my whole time counting or (could pause that show I have no idea why we need to keep throwing out numbers--this is a reality show about special effects!) maybe if it is late I'm too tired to knit. But I find it a relaxing prelude to sleep.

Well until I am not too tired to knit but too tired to make sense of what the pattern is asking me to do.


Which is why it has taken me so long to get what should be the home stretch of this shrug: the button band.

Ok, well there was the counting and generally trying to be sure I picked up the right number of stitches. and honestly, why do they yell out numbers so much on reality/contest shows. I get that they are timed, but it is frustrating to be counting along 30, 3,2, 34, and have the tv person yell: 30 minutes! Even House Hunters has numbers (22, 24, 26; This house is 2600 under our budget! the wife will scream). Heck even Game of Thrones has numbers (12, 14, 16, There are 4000 wildlings ready to shoot you in the back!).

Ahem anyway, it took 3 days just to pick up 159 stitches and figure out what the heck the directions were asking for. And then today I actually got to knit on it during the DAY as I got together with friends for coffee. Knitting during the day is so different. Things make sense, when you aren't tired. Mistakes are fixable in both the light and the clear of day. Or maybe that was just the coffee.

At any rate, button band is moving along:


Graduation is in 9 days. I think I'm actually going to get to wear this!

Friday, May 01, 2015

And none of it was yarn

I had this whole entry planned out in my head--it was called "and half of it was yarn" and it was all about the last few days. The things I had in mind were: Some new yarn I bought, progress on the shrug, my answer to a question proposed for a luncheon I was invited to ("bring an item from your shelf or wall and be prepared to share why it is treasured with the group") and My velcro project.

Sadly, I feel like the day is waning and dinner must be made soon, so I'm going to table three of those and just go with the last one.

I run. I would say avidly, but not um expertly. Let's call me an advanced beginner. And when I run, I like to have my gear: my fitbit, my road id, my heart rate monitor, my ipod, and my phone. I should figure out how to combine the ipod and the phone, but that's neither here nor there. Lately, I've been leaving my phone behind because while I can hang everything else off my body, I have no solution for my phone. I have an armband and while I feel like my arms are flabby, they must in actuality be tiny because I can strap that thing on all the way to the end and it still slides off my arm. As you can see, the sticky part of the velcro is only at the end, so if you pull it far enough, there isn't soft stuff for it to hang on to.


Anyway, today, I learned that sometimes you need your phone, even if it is just to feel safe. You see Every time I run or walk, I notice people who didn't learn to drive the way I did. I learned--stop before the crosswalk (marked or not), look for pedestrians and bikes, proceed into intersection as needed to see cars coming. I learned to do the same for crossing your sidewalk pulling into or out of your driveway or any parking lots---LOOK for pedestrians or bikes on the sidewalks. Every day though, I see multiple incidents of:

(and yes, I realize that as a pedestrian, I look like I'm pretty far away, but she never ever stopped before rolling into the crosswalk AND she was on her phone the entire time--I'm not suggesting she wait for me but really--she could have seen traffic coming from behind the crosswalk. I was a little afraid taking this until I realized she too was on her phone-- I don't think she ever saw me--despite my getting to the corner as she pulled out.)

I didn't pick on this ONE person, this was just the first of no less than 6 incidents I saw just like this on my 1/3 mile walk to get my girls from school. 6. And it makes me mad. Today I hollered at one while I was running (earlier in the day than the picture I took), he hollered back and we ended up having a screaming match. So... while I have vowed not to ever let another ahem bad driver ahem make me lose my cool so effectively, I also decided maybe I had better start carrying my phone every time I run. Which means--time to make the armband fit my scrawny (and yet oddly flabby) chicken wings.


I'm hoping this works, but I'm thinking I might need even longer velcro.