Wednesday, December 9, 2009

How Time Flies

Oh my goodness! I can't believe how fast time has flown the past two months! Hubby is getting ready for back surgery and I have had to limit the knitting due to 'knitter's elbow' and numbness in my hands.

We are trying to make preparations to be ready for when he comes home from surgery later in the month as well as get all our shopping finished and ship stuff to family. The tree is up and there are a few more things to attend to so we don't have to worry about anything but hubby's recovery. Thank you, God, that he will see an end to the misery he has been going through for the past several years.

I have no new projects, just working on existing ones a bit at a time.....no deadlines in the foreseeable future.

On a side note, friends of ours lost everything in a house fire less than a week ago and are in need of prayers. Walter and Loreen Loder were my sponsors when I became Catholic and they are well loved by members of both neighboring parishes....St. Mary's in Sherman and St. Patrick in Denison. Please keep them in your prayers as they regroup and, with the help of fellow parishioners, prepare to rebuild their lives.

Have a wonderful and Blessed Christmas.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Multiple Projects at the Same Time



Does anyone else out there work on more than one project at a time? I usually have several going simultaneously, and I always get them finished....unless I am designing and don't like the way the pattern is working out....and frog the thing. However, I digress....

I mostly enjoy knitting shawls. I started another one a few days ago in Bernat Denim Style that will be for the ladies in my knitting group to work on. I like the way the 'from the top down' triangular shawls knit up that I found in Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle, but made some changes to suit me.

I like the Peddlers Shawl, but didn't want to use the lace since this is for semi-beginning knitters. I like the increase rows in her Feather and Fan shawl, but wanted to keep it simple with plain garter stitch. So, I knitted one for myself using left over blue and white and pink in Bernat Denim Style and the ladies really liked it. To avoid the annoying line where you change colors of yarn in garter stitch I decided to do a 'k1, yo, k2 tog' on the row where I change yarn.

I am using Denim Style in Chino (cream) and White for a couple of stripes midway down the shawl for a little interest, and THIS time I am writing down the pattern, which is easier than trying to go back and figure out what I did when I knitted the other one.

Since this is a fairly simple thing to knit up, I decided I need another project that is a bit more interesting and requires a bit more brain cells to keep me occupied when I feel boredom setting in from all that garter stitch. So, I am finally getting back to the Swallowtail Shawl I started months ago, and that I took on our trip to VA last month. It is fine yarn and is going to take awhile to finish.

Then, there is the Veteran's Scarf that our knitting group is starting.....you get the picture!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Finally Finished!




After several delays I am finally finished with the shawl for my friend. I tend to forget how long it takes to knit sideways lace all the way around a shawl....but the time was well spent.

There is no pattern for this shawl because I didn't write it down. It just sort of 'happened' as I went along and I tend to focus on basics rather than line-by-line directions anyway. The only two measurements I was concerned with was the neck opening and the length. My friend is petite and she will be wearing this shawl while seated, as she is confined to a wheel chair. I didn't want anything getting in her way, but it needed to be long enough for her to tuck her arms under when she is chilled.

I used I-cord to finish the front and neck with tails that can be used to tie it at the neck to keep it in place. I can hardly wait for it to dry and I can give it to my friend. She is very special and there is scarcely a day that goes by that I don't think of her.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Knitting Sisters




I just visited the Knitting Sisters in Williamsburg, VA, for the second time a couple of days ago. The first time was over a year ago when our daughter gave me directions and said I would like the place. She was right.

The ladies at the shop are very helpful and knowledgeable and I enjoyed my visit very much. I found some yarn for a couple of friends as well as a couple of skeins for myself for more shawls: one skein of Prism Lace Wool in Cabernet and one skein of Mountain Colors Hand-Painted Yarn, Winter Lace, Crazy Woman.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Avoiding Temptation

I am getting better at avoiding temptation. Maybe it is guilt over the huge stash in my house, but I have had two opportunities in the past couple of weeks to get some 'good buys' at yarn shop closeouts in my area and I decided NOT to go there.

I am trying very hard not to buy anything else for awhile since I have a lot of stuff to pick from already. Of course, I did buy those two skeins of Merino Lace yarn in OKC on a visit to my mom a couple of weeks ago......but at only $15 a skein compared to $36 for the single skein of Prism Lace Wool I am already working on, it was hard to pass up.

So, I wish all you folks well who are getting good buys and fantastic deals on yarn and accessories this summer. Think of me, sitting at home or here at the Boiler Room Coffee Bar in Sherman, TX, and knitting on stuff I purchased.....LAST YEAR!

Happy Yarn Shopping!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Ravelry

I thought I would take the time to plug a great website: Ravelry. If you aren't familiar with it, you can find tons of great stuff there including free patterns and other people who are working similar projects that are of interest to you.

You can click the link to create an account and have access to groups and forums on a variety of subjects. There are even groups for you spinners and weavers as well as knitters and crocheters.

Drop by Ravelry, sign up, and you won't regret it. I just spent an hour searching their pattern base for scarf patterns for my knitting group and marked them to my favorites so that I can share them with the ladies.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Time with Friends

I just spent two wonderful hours with a knitting friend at The Boiler Room in Sherman, TX. We talked of family and knitting and religion and before we knew it she had to go. I treasure the time we spend and I always learn something from my friend. She is wise and kind and I miss her when we don't have time to spend together.

So, spend time with a friend soon. You won't regret it.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Swallowtail Lace Shawl


I finally decided on a pattern for my skein of Prism Lace Wool. I really like the looks of Evelyn Clark's Swallowtail Lace Shawl available in a pdf file for free. I discovered the link on Ravelry while searching for free patterns. Any serious knitter, or crocheter for that matter, should check out Ravelry if you haven't done so yet. They also have groups for spinners and weavers as well.

I have had the Prism Lace Wool since May of 2008 when I purchased it in Willimsburg, VA, at Knitting Sisters while on a visit to our daughter. There was one skein in Antique colorway and I didn't know what I would do with it, but it called my name and so I bought it. I don't often pay $36 for one skein of yarn, but this was too gorgeous to pass up.

The Swallowtail Lace Shawl pattern in lace weight yarn only calls for 437 yards, making a very small shawl. I plan to keep increasing until it is big enough to suit me, which won't be a problem since there is 1,460 yards in this skein! So far, so good as the knitting goes. The chart is easy to read and once I manage to get the repeat to remain in my brain long enough I won't even need the chart. The main part of the pattern is only 3 pattern rows with purl rows following.

The only thing cooler than knitting and blogging is being able to do both away from home....yep, that's right! I am sitting at Panera bread in Sherman, TX as I write this. I took the photo after knitting a few more rows, uploaded the photo and posted it here. I love technology! (when it works)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Shawl for a Friend



I began knitting a shawl for a friend of mine and had to put it aside to knit a couple of baby blankets for the two youngest grand-daughters. Both blankets are finished and I have started back on the shawl.

It will be a square shawl with an opening down the front, a collar and a sideways lace border along the bottom. I am using a size 8 Addi Turbo Lace needle and Naturally Caron's Country in three colors in a Cat's Paw pattern. I don't recommend this yarn for knitting because it is a cabled yarn that is plied in the opposite direction and tends to untwist when knitting.



Note: Most knitting yarns are spun Z and plied S, meaning the slant of the twist will mirror the slant to the right for the letter Z and to the left for the letter S. This cable yarn uses several strands of 2-ply and is then plied the opposite direction for a Z twist, which is better for crocheting than knitting. There are probably cabled yarns that are spun S and plied Z and then several plies spun S for the finished yarn. I need to do a bit of research on that subject, but it would make sense to me that someone would have figured out the problem with cabled yarns used in knitting when the final plying is done Z instead of S.

A New Juicer in the House


I recently purchased a Breville Juice Fountain Plus Juice Extractor from Bed Bath and Beyond. It is a much better product than the Jack Lalanne Power Juicer.

The Juice Fountain has a one piece blade/filter basket that has NO threads, unlike the Power Juicer which has a two-piece assembly with plastic threads. There are three grooves in the Juice Fountain filter basket that fit snugly onto the base unit. The pusher has a groove as well that keeps it snugly fitted with no rattle while running, unlike the Power Juicer.

It comes with a covered one liter plastic juice jug that fits over a spout on the filter bowl surround and eliminates any splashing. The jug has an insert that will separate the froth if you prefer. The pulp container has a rounded bottom for easy cleanup without any crevasses to catch bits of pulp. It also comes with a long handled brush for cleaning the filter basket. The entire Juice Fountain is easier to clean than the Power Juicer and there is no juice left in the pulp container at all. Letting it run for a minute after juicing results in no drip from the spout, unlike the Power Juicer which continues to drip. It sells for $149.99, but I had a coupon for 20% off which lowered the price to $119.

We will box up the Power Juicer and ship it to our daughter in Virginia to store for when we visit them later this year. We stay in a suite at the Hampton Inn Suites when we are there and being able to prepare some of our meals and not have to eat out as much is a great help. The kitchen sink in the suite has a garbage disposer so we will have no problems cleaning up when we juice.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Sarah's Blanket


I just finished knitting grand-baby Sarah's blanket. It is 41 inches square before washing and I still need to finish off the ends. I wove in the tails, but I will use sewing thread and a needle to whip the ends down so they don't ravel on me. The Bernat Cottontots is a great yarn, but it can be difficult to secure the ends because it won't split and give you several plies to weave in. Tomorrow I will finish it up and launder it and get it ready to send off to Virginia....along with some books for our daughter to use in homeschooling.

Note: My math was way off....I just took the blanket out of the dryer and laid it out on my mom's carpet and it is 41"x45"

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Log Cabin Baby Blanket



We have a new grandchild, Rachel Grace, and so, of course, she needed a blankie. So, I decided to adapt a pattern out of Mason Dixon Knitting for a Log Cabin pattern.

I had several skeins of Bernat Cottontots in coordinating colors and thought they would be a safe bet, just in case Rachel turned out to be Joshua. You never know for sure until they are actually born!

I used a size 10 1/2 Addi Turbo Lace needle, 24", and cast on 30 stitches. I knitted 25 ridges in garter stitch and cast off. Then I picked up 25 stitches along the narrow side, plus 2 extra stitches (one on each edge to square it off nicely) and knitted 12 ridges in blue. I repeated that on the other side, using lavender. Then I picked up 56 stitches along the long edge (12 stitches for the edge of each short side, 30 stitches from the center block and 2 extra) and knitted 12 ridges.

I continued this sequence alternating yarn as I saw fit (I had different dye lots of one yarn, so I used a different lot on opposite sides.) and created borders using two different yarns in variegated and white, then finished with a 4 stitch I-Cord border in variegated.

I am now working on a similar blankie for Rachel's 15 month old sister, Sarah Rose. It will be a bit larger, for a toddler to cuddle in, and it is in pink and white Cottontots yarn. I cast on 40 stitches and knitted 30 ridges. The border sections are 15 ridges deep.

It is a simple matter to adjust the size of the center section of the blanket. You could make it square or rectangular. I decided on each border being half the width of the center section. You could play around with that as well.

Follow it up with a cold water wash on delicate and toss it in the dryer on low until dry and voila! A lovely, cozy cotton blankie for your baby/toddler to cuddle in. The unwashed blanket measured 33"X35". Washed and dried it measured 31"X33". Before washing the gauge was approximately 3 spi. I didn't think to measure the gauge after washing. I will do so with the pink one.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Jack LaLanne Juicer?? Not on your life!

I would like to share our saga of trying to purchase a newer model of the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer:

We have an older model, their classic white, that was purchased a couple of years ago at a Kohl's Dept. store. We love it. We have used it off and on since we bought it and have had no complaints. January 3rd of this year my husband and I decided to try a 21-day detox program offered through our chiropractors office, the Standard Process product. My husband has lost over 40 pounds and I have lost 15 pounds since January 3rd.

We decided to keep up the shakes each day: one for breakfast and one mid-afternoon and so we use our juicer every day. I had seen the Power Juicer Pro advertised on TV and checked it out on the Internet as well. The sleek stainless look appealed to me and so I ordered on from the website.

We were sadly disappointed with it. The motor is not as powerful as the one in our older model; the carrots and apples get jammed in the chute and you have to stop and get it unclogged and try again; when you exert more pressure to try to juice what is getting jammed in the chute the bottom of the plastic pusher comes in contact with the cutter blade because the stainless housing is flexing, unlike the rigid plastic housing; the so-called no drip spout won't clear the stand that came with it and juice drips down between it and the bottom of the juicer making a big mess.

We shipped it back via UPS, costing us over $20, and the clerk at the Sherman, Texas UPS office told us that ours was the tenth Power Juicer Pro she has had to return from our area in a week! Sherman isn't that large of a town!

We then went to the local Kohl's store to see if we could get the same model we already have. We found one that looked identical, took it home and found the same problem as with the Power Juicer Pro that we sent back....the motor isn't powerful enough to juice carrots and apples. We returned it to Kohl's for a full refund the next day.

We really like our old juicer. We wore out a Sunbeam Juicer about 12 years ago and a Juice Man about 3 years ago and were thrilled with the Power Juicer. It is just a shame that their product is now substandard.

On a side note: When you call their customer service number you are more likely than not to get a rude, obnoxious person to have to deal with. My husband actually got lucky and spoke with a very nice man named Sebastian who was very helpful and not difficult to communicate with, when he called to order a new cutting blade and pusher for our old juicer. (The reason we needed a new pusher is the old one has water trapped inside it because I put it in the top rack of the dishwasher like the manual said to do.)

So....if you are looking to buy a juicer, DON'T buy a Jack LaLanne Power Juicer! At least not until they make a better product. When this one wears out we will probably purchase an Oster that we noticed at Kohl's....on the shelf right above the Power Juicer.

Note: We ordered a replacement blade and pusher for the Power Juicer. The blade dulled after the first use and we are unable to use it seeing as it is made of inferior materials. The design of the pusher leads to water being trapped in the top under the edge of the cap.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Texas Wildlife



We are fortunate to live in the country and enjoy seeing all sorts of native Texas wildlife. I snapped a photo of three deer about 100 ft away from the house yesterday morning, and this morning managed to get a shot of what appears to be a red shouldered hawk.

I was surprised at the black tails. We usually see white tails here in North Texas.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Knit A Life Knitters


The Knit A Life Knitters had our monthly meeting last Monday at Hyde Park Presbyterian Church in Denison, TX and Pastor Ron was kind enough to snap a couple of photos of the group, along with the caps that were finished and ready to be taken to the local cancer center.

I am truly blessed to be a part of this wonderful group of ladies and I look forward to seeing them all each month.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Finished!



I just got finished blocking the brown shawl. Whew! It takes up the entire top of the king-size bed. The brown center is 50 inches across and the border is 14 inches.

I let it soak a few minutes in some Eucalan and spun it out in the washer. It took me half an hour to pin it out using a yard stick for a guide. I can hardly wait for it to dry. I turned on the ceiling fan to speed things up so it won't be long....which will be nice since we have another cold front coming this way tomorrow according to the local weather report.

Since we don't have carpet, the next best thing is to use the bed and by moving it out from the wall (it's on wheels) I can get all the way around it without reaching too far in any direction.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Almost finished...




I am working on the lace border for my brown wool shawl and hope to be finished by this weekend. The border I chose is the 2X2 Openwork Rib from Traditional Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman. After looking through all my pattern books I couldn't find an edging that I liked so I altered one from Victorian Lace Today. On page 80 there is a lilac scarf with a wide border. I shortened it and eliminated the double yarn over in the pattern and the result is quite nice.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

It's a Kalonchoe!

After I posted a query in an attempt to identify a plant, I learned that it is a Kalonchoe, probably K. daigremontian, also known as alligator plant. I have seen Kalonchoes before but none with leaves long and slender like this plant. I am looking forward to it blooming, if I don't manage to kill the poor thing, and have moved it to a south facing window. I thought it seemed a bit 'leggy' and it's new location will help that.