Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Knits

So what did I end up getting done for Christmas?  What do you make when you are in a rush?  How about a modified pair of Selbu fingerless mitts?  (Ha, Ha)

I made these for The Daughter.  You just never know what she is going to like so I am always a little nervous making something really "different" for her.  However, these got squeals of delight and rave reviews--whew!

The next thing I managed to finish--one of a kind "Mom I want you to make me these gloves I thought up.  I want them to be black and lime green checkered, with......"

They turned out really cute and PB has worn them almost non-stop.  He was so excited to get them.  He loves everything I knit for him.

It wasn't much but at least I got to give them something special from me.  HB got the pair of "Outdoorsman" socks I made for the Sockamania November pattern.  So everyone was happy.

On the Sockamania note, this is the new sock for January:

I love it!  It is called "Snowy Winters Eve".  I used Haneke merino/linen/aplaca for the navy blue main color and Haneke's angora blend for the white "snow".  The socks are warm, soft and wonderful. 

So, I made it through another "Christmas knitting craze".  I am already making New Year's resolutions that THIS year will be different!  I will start right away planning gifts to knit and I will dilligently work on them all through the year so that December doesn't sneek up on me again. (I think that is what I say every year). 

Wishing everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas!

My heart is full as I approach Christmas this year.  I have so much to be thankful for.  A wonderful husband, really good children, a warm house (it's 5 below zero again right now), a really good job that I enjoy, and good friends--I really miss all of you and think of you every day.

I am thankful for my cyber friends around the world.  You inspire me everyday and I feel blessed to know you.  So much talent and ability!!  It keeps me motivated.

I hope that all of you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.  May this be the best one for all of you.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Be Careful What You Look For

Ya, so we found it.  The wiring in the house IS THE ORIGINAL WIRING.  It's like a hundred years old.  I don't quite know how I feel about living in a house where the wiring might start a fire at any moment.  I have WAY too much yarn and fiber.  If it caught fire I would be the crazy lady running back into the house, braving the flames and smoke, to rescue my yarn and knitting supplies, sweaters, fiber, spinning wheels, etc.

Also the boiler is THE ORIGINAL BOILER.  I know nothing, zero, zip about boilers.  But a hundred year old, coal burning boiler doesn't seem to great.  I guess you have to watch the gauges on it and take buckets of water down under the house, where the boiler is at,  to fill it up at least once a week so that it doesn't run out of water, build up too much pressure, and explode.  I don't know how I feel about that either.

I am really torn.  Is it worth the risks?  It has been standing for over a hundred years after all--no fires, no exploding boilers.  Eight rooms, a yarn shop in the front............a fire destroying all of my yarn..........What would you do?  Would you risk it?  Does it sound worth it to you?  I have to have some input here.  Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

It Must Be the Season

Well, it's official.  I have completely lost my mind.  (No it has nothing to do with knitting this time--well, maybe some of it.)  I just agreed to move AGAIN next month.  It really isn't too surprising.  After all, growing up I moved like this all the time.  We would live in a house a couple of months then move or buy a house.  Live in that place a year and then move again.  In total, growing up, I moved 20 or 25 times by the time I was 17 years old.

Why would I even consider moving again with all of HB's back problems leaving him completely unable to help me and two teenagers with all of the packing, cleaning and then unpacking?  Why would I put myself through all of that exhausting work AGAIN when we just barely finished moving into the place we are right now?  WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I THINKING?  AM I COMPLETELY NUTS!!!!? 

Well, let me tell you a little about WHERE we are moving.  It is a three story victorian mansion with 8, yes that would be EIGHT, bedrooms, a dining room the size of my entire downstairs area where we live right now, a parlor that will make the most amazing yarn/jewelry shop in the world, all hard wood flooring, 15 foot ceilings in the kitchen and dining room, beautiful antique chandeliers, an amazing entry way that features a winding solid oak stair case with original banistering, so much storage space that ALL of our current belongings could be put into there--we are talking about furnishings and decor to completely fill a 1200sq ft home and two work shops, a library.....need I say more?  I am sure you get the picture.  Not only that, but a sweet little old grandmotherly lady owns it and is renting it for about the same as what we are paying for the sardine can we live in right now.  When she told me how much rent was, I dropped my phone.  She has had workmen fixing and replacing pipes, windows, etc. to make the home cozy and not drafty and more energy efficient.  As far as the store that we can put in the parlor, the place is zoned for residential and commercial AND it is located right in downtown on the main road.  We are talking about places that everybody in town will drive by or visit DAILY.  Even tourists will be able to easily find it because it is one the main road through town.  AND the nearest yarn shop (competition) is 85 miles away!  I can hardly contain myself!!

The lady that owns it mentioned she would love to see us buy it someday and she would be happy to carry the loan herself.  WOW!  I am sure there is a down side to this somewhere.  We have been looking at the place and mulling it over for about a week now.  Mostly trying to find a downside to the idea, besides the "moving again" part.  I spoke to her this morning and let her know we would take it.  So, I guess it's official. 

It's going to take me six months to decorate the place!  At least there is no lack of space, or wondering where in the world I am going to put all of my paintings.  AND a store....where my yarn can all be out.....where I can see it.....(sigh)......and my spinning wheels can have all the room they want..........and won't it be a sight to drive by and see me sitting out on that victorian front porch, in the summer time, spinning.  WOW.

I'll let you know when I find the downside.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


It has been so cold here for the last two weeks!!  I keep thinking that the temperature is going to rise and we are going to warm back up a little bit since, techically, it's still Autumn--winter doesn't officially start until December 21st.  But, so far, no chance.  The thermometer in my car hasn't registered a number over 3 degrees Farenheit for days and that is the HIGH!  It has been below zero every night and if you add in the wind chill we have seen temperatures as low as 35 below zero.  THAT'S COLD PEOPLE!!!  You don't just run outside real quick to grab something out of the car or a piece of wood without putting on the entire abominable snowman outfit--we are talking serious "keep you warm" fibers here; angora/cashmere/camel down/buffalo down scarf, hat, double layer mittens, and serious Antartica approved coat.  At least we haven't been as bad as the other side of the state.  Laramie, Cheyenne, and Casper have seen 45 below zero.  Trust me, all temperatures once you get below zero ARE NOT the same, as I mistakenly thought before experiencing 20 below zero temperatures.

It hasn't really snowed much.  Mostly because the wind blew all of the snow that was falling here all the way to Colorado--where they got 8 to 12 inches in my hometown (which is in the desert and rarely sees any snow at all during the winter).  My brother, who still lives there, said he would rather have all the snow than the extreme cold.  I am used to the roads melting off during the day, but I guess that regardless of how bright the sunshine is, if it's below zero nothing is going to melt.

So, I am currently experiencing the "two weeks til Christmas knitting frenzy".  In fact, it is so bad today that I can't seem to get going on my knitting because I don't know which project is the priority.  I have PB complaining that he still doesn't have any gloves or mittens and his hands are freezing at the bus stop every morning.  The Daughter thinks I am secretly working on the hat/scarf set she pointed out she would really appreciate having.  I gave up on knitted stuff for my brother, and in-laws completely last night.  And I guess HB will just get the socks I finished last week that I was making for someone else. 

What happened?  I thought I had it all covered.  I had seven pairs of socks finished and all of my yarn and patterns for everything in place.  The only thing I can think of is I moved and started designing patterns for Sockamania.  Moving is so time consuming (wasting!).  There's all that packing and then unpacking.  Trying to find the right box to put things in and then the right place to put it away.  All that cleaning, loading, and unloading.  Of course, when the day is done you are so tired and it is usually so late that you barely have the energy to undress so you can go to bed.  Sockamania hasn't been too time consuming itself.  If I'd quit changing my mind about the pattern or the yarn or the needles and making the sock over and over again it wouldn't take me but a week to have the entire thing ready to go.

Anyway, I hope everyone isn't too disappointed with their gifts this year.  I better get busy on those mittens for PB or he may end up with frost bite and then I will feel really bad.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Newest Sweater and Some Musings

As promised here is my latest sweater. It is from the same book as the other two--Best of Lopi. I used "Ecology" wool from Cascade for the main color and then left-over's for the accent colors. I thought it was kind of ugly as I was knitting it. After all the main color is quite drab. But when I finished it and put it on I was pleasantly surprised at how great it looked! I am loving these sweaters!! I have come up with a reason that I like them--NO SEWING is involved! I have avoided making many things because sewing was required. Not that I can't sew; I've quilted and sewn many items over the years. I just hate sewing up sweaters!!! I swear it takes as long to sew the darn thing up as it took to knit all of the pieces. These Icelandic sweaters have just a few stitches under the arm that you graft together and that is it! The entire sweater is knit in the round from the bottom to the collar. As I mentioned in the last post, I have yarn to make two more sweaters. Both of them will be out of Lopi yarn. I am so anxious to make them I about can't sleep at night! I've never made anything with Lopi brand yarn and I have seen advertisements that it is the warmest wool out there. I can't wait to compare it with the Australian brand yarn that I made the first two sweaters with. I will let you know if it truly is the warmest--I have tried just about every brand of wool yarn on the planet.

Now for the "Musings". Every winter I find myself doing this--in fact I may have posted about it before--I begin to look around at what people are wearing to keep themselves warm. I see small children in nasty acrylic knitwear that I know is not keeping them warm. There are teenagers on the ski slopes wearing very trendy hats, ear warmers, maybe even sweaters made in various third world countries out of the cheapest, scratchiest, worst wool on the planet (that's right, there is such thing as "yucky" wool). I walk through the malls and shopping centers and see racks and racks of trendy/holiday/fashionable sweaters, socks, mittens, gloves, hats, etc. all mass produced and just like the ones in the store next door and none of which will keep you very warm or comfortable.

During all of this I am wondering, "What are people thinking?" Do they think that ALL knitted items are the same? Is that hat the reason you think all wool is scratchy? Is your childs hat the reason you think that knit items don't really keep you warm? Do you go by that polar fleece junk because you think it will keep you warm in sub-zero weather? Did you spend all that money at that fancy sporting goods store for those socks because the tag says they are the warmest? HB even get's caught up in the notion that "commercially" produced fabrics and knitwear can rival hand-knit items even though he KNOWS it doesn't.

When I go to make an article of clothing or an accessory I ask myself, "Who is going to be wearing this? Where do they live? What temperatures could they encounter? Will it be wet and rainy, windy, snowing, below zero?" All of those play an important part in not only the style of the item, but most importantly WHAT fiber the article will be made from. For example: HB has an earflap hat I made for him a couple of years ago when he was spending almost his entire work day outside in various Colorado locations--some as high as 8,000-9,000 feet elevation. This hat is made from a black yarn--a blend of cashmere, merino wool, and silk. I knit it with needles that would be considered much to small for the bulky weight yarn I used. Why this particular style, fiber content, and needle variation? Because:

1. Black colored clothing will soak up any sunshine and help keep you toasty warm no matter what the temperature drops to.

2. Cashmere, merino, and silk are all very fine, very dense fibers. These fibers are known to keep you as much as 8 times warmer than regular wool (WAY warmer than the acrylic junk!! or polar fleece).

3. Smaller needles than what you would normally use to get gauge with a particular yarn will produce a firmer, more dense fabric. This makes the hat water and wind resistant. HB has actually worn his hat out riding our ATV in the snow and wind up in the mountains and his ears never got cold.

You see, hand knit items, especially when the knitter knows the purposes and uses for the item, are FAR superior to anything you can buy in any store anywhere.

I also spin yarn. Which means that I can get REALLY carried away with the details that go into making an item. I can make the yarn with any blend of any fibers I want. If I need extra strength--hemp, extra warmth--angora or cashmere or silk or all three. I can hand pick the wool. Just because something says it's made from wool DOES NOT mean it is going to be just like the other wool sweater or socks you have. Even wool from the same sheep can vary from year to year depending on it's diet, the climate, the weather, etc. Hand picking the wool ensures that you are getting all of the qualities you want to incorporate into the hand-knit item.

Sorry, I do get very carried away when it comes to the society we live in being slaves to whatever is for sale in the store. There are so many people out there that think they have to endure cold feet, hands, ears, etc. because they have given up finding something warm to wear. Me, I look forward to winter! But then........I knit!