Monday, October 29, 2007

Mittens for Children's Sweet Hands

Rowan asked about a mitten pattern for her grandson. When the boys were young I frequently used an old pattern book for many pair of mittens. Recently I found this pattern book on the Anne of Green Gables Knit Along website. like the way the thumb is positioned on the side so there is no right or left. I'll pass along a little tip with mittens for children: I made tags with our last name and phone number by using seam binding and a fabric pen. I sewed this tag into the cuff of each mitten. Some lost mittens found their way back home as a result. I still have most of the mittens that survived all the walks to school and playing outside in the snow. Last year at Christmas I filled a basket with the old mittens and added some holiday greenery. The boys (now adults) enjoyed looking at their old mittens and photos of themselves wearing them.

Elizabeth Zimmerman also has wonderful mitten patterns in Knitter's Almanac and Knitting Without Tears. I thought she had a thumb-less mitten pattern for infants somewhere in the books, but I can't find it. (Forgive me, Elizabeth!)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Baby Booties for Hope

I made these darling booties from Saartje's pattern. The only change I made was making a real button hole instead of a loop. (The photo distorts the size a bit. They are smaller than they appear to be.) The new mother was hoping for a baby girl, since she already has two boys. I know she is delighted to be dressing her little baby girl in pink! The buttons are a little oversized but I rather liked them that way. My favorite part is the crossover straps. So adorable!

I'm going to drop them off at their house so traditional gift wrap wasn't necessary. I simply tied netting around them and garnished with a pink bow.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Nature's Tapestry

This is the first autumn in our new home and I'm totally besotted!
The little goldfinch sat very close to the back door for quite a long time, not seeming to mind that I was taking photos.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Why Did I Agree to This?

A few months ago an acquaintance asked whether I would be a model for a camera club workshop. At the time it sounded as if it might be a good experience but as the actual date drew closer I found myself dreading it. At first I imagined that it might be outdoors with all the beautiful fall colors and I would be piping on a hillside with people snapping away. I found out a week beforehand that it was all indoors. Fortunately I had only committed to 2 hours. I certainly complained enough to my husband and also to myself all last week. Why I had agreed to this, I don't know. It turned out to be every bit as boring as I thought it would be. The workshop was held in a basement with all artificial lighting. The models were a beautiful 17 year old girl, a clown, and me-the-piper. I probably fell somewhere between the gorgeous girl and the clown. Lesson learned! Think before you say "yes". Why photographers would want to spend a whole beautiful fall day indoors is beyond me.

When I arrived home we began preparing our back yard for seeding. We would like to restore the woodland as close to the house as possible but in the meantime we need some grass to control erosion. That project lasted until around 5:30 p.m. at which time we left for a bonfire party. Sunday afternoon we finished our grass project. Today we've had a fine mist of rain all afternoon. Perfect timing! Rain is also predicted for the next four days.

I started taking Tai Chi today which was very interesting. I've practiced yoga for several years and have wanted to take Tai Chi but I couldn't find a class at a convenient time. I missed the first two sessions so it was a bit of a catch up for me. After the class I stopped at the library to get a video tape so I can bone up before the next session.

The baby kimono and booties are nearly finished now and I'm getting ready to order yarn for the Anne of Green Gables KAL. I'm going to knit a shawl called Meadow Flowers from Knitter's Stash.

Tomorrow I will post beautiful fall photos! The leaves are in their glory now!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

A View from My Window and a Little Venting

The trees are beginning to change now after a very hot and dry spell. We finally have the cooler nights they need. It may not be the most colorful autumn we've had but there is always beauty to be found in nature.

The photo shows the view from our back deck. There are some prettier trees with vivid red leaves but I had to take their photos through the porch screens so they aren't great photos.

The little baby sweater in Bernat Cottontots doesn't seem quite right. I'm sure my gauge is off. I thought that would be ok, just that the sweater would be for the little girl as a toddler, but now I'm doubting that. The front pieces seem a lot larger than the back. If anyone has knit this sweater from One Skein Wonders, please let me know how it turned out. The photo shows how it looks without the arms.

Ok, I have to vent about something. I like to watch Martha Stewart. I record the show so I can watch at my convenience and buzz through some of it. I'm not a crafter but I do enjoy the cooking and gardening segments. The one thing I bothers me is that Martha interrupts her guests constantly! For someone who prides herself on etiquette it is surprising that she hasn't figured this out yet. She also says "Ummm" a lot but I can get over that because it isn't rude, only annoying. So Martha, I'm sure you are reading my blog and I know you are a nice person and don't want to appear rude, so there it is. I don't want to hurt your feelings but someone had to tell you and everyone who works for you is probably afraid to mention it. Whew! I feel better now. Martha said she has a blog on MySpace but I haven't read it. She probably is not a regular reader of my blog because she is very busy and she is also not a knitter. Knitting is one of the few things she does not do because if she did we would have seen it on the show by now. Pity.

Friday, October 12, 2007

A Broken Friendship

A sad thing happened today. A person who has been a friend for over 25 years decided to end our friendship. I have no idea what has caused this, although I began to notice changes with her about the time we began to build our house a year ago. She began to distance herself from me, even to the point of being rude. I let these things go past me because I valued our friendship and figured it would blow over. Last April she showed up at my door to apologize in a rambling sort of way, saying that she was sorry for all the rude things she had said and done. She said she felt as if she had been living her life through me and had to distance herself. I gave her a hug and said it was all fine now, hoping that was the end of it. Things did not change at all. Today she came to my house and apologized again, but this time said some things that hurt me very much. It was nothing I had said or done to her, nor anything I have any control over. She has created a very uncomfortable situation since there are times we cannot avoid one another. I just don't understand at all and probably never will. I didn't know what to say as she stood on my doorstep and said, "We don't have anything in common since our kids grew up." She is wrong but how can I argue if she feels that way? After my initial shock I composed an email responding as kindly as possible but still being direct. I read that email many times to make sure I wasn't just trying to hurt her back, although maybe I did want to do that just a little. I feel she has done irreparable damage now. When a person apologizes for their own benefit, saying things that hurt, then it isn't really an apology, is it? It would be better to be silent than to say harmful things about which the other person has no control.

To assuage my hurt today I started a new knitting project: a little baby sweater for a sweet baby girl! I'm not ready to jump back on the Hemlock Ring Horse yet. This project will go quickly.

It is going to be a busy weekend. I have to work Friday night and Saturday morning. We have a wedding to go to Saturday afternoon and evening. Church on Sunday morning and then an event to attend on Sunday afternoon, although that one will be just about an hour. Hope all of you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I Created The Blob

Last night I finished the Hemlock Ring Shawl from Jared's blog. I joined my first KAL with this shawl and the comments have been helpful. I started knitting The Blob on Sept 15. When the shawl was about 1/2 way out from the center I had a nagging suspicion that something wasn't quite right. Apparently in denial, I kept knitting to the bitter end, including the tedious lace edging (not that tedious really, just not as fun as the other part). Last night I knew I should have listened to my gut and stopped about 10 days ago. I have knitted enough lace to know. Nonetheless, I hopefully carried The Blob with the materials necessary for blocking it to our guest bed. Right away I could see that no amount of blocking was going to turn this Unhappy Amoeba into anything useful or beautiful. There are bubbles and ruffling occurring where there should not be. My guess is that (1) I should have knit on a larger needle to allow for more stretching and (2) Alpaca is perhaps not as forgiving and elastic as wool. As soon as The Blob dries completely I am going to unravel it. I still want to do this project but I may choose a different yarn. Jared, who started this mania, used Cascade Eco Wool. His shawl is beautiful! Any thoughts/suggestions on my Unhappy Amoeba, aka The Blob, are appreciated!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Recommended Reading

I finished reading Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker and am giving it 5 stars. It is the story of Neely and his wife's struggle to adopt a child in Zimbabwe. It is well-written, poignant, informative (Africa and AIDS), and will surely move you and make you more aware of the tragedy that is happening in Zimbabwe and other parts of Africa. I am even more passionate about the Bears to Zimbabwe project. A friend loaned me the book but I am considering buying it just to get it into the hands of other people.

It is fall break at the university so a bit of a holiday for us. We have been working on some landscaping projects around the house. I would like to restore the part of the woods that was ruined when the excavation was done for our home. Also, our woods is largely maple trees with a few oak, ash, and elm thrown in there. We need to cut down some of the smaller maple trees and get some native trees to bring more balance to the woodland. The photo shows what the woods looked like about a year ago.
I have 2 new piping tunes to learn this week and I haven't worked on them enough.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Our Favorite Granola

I know this has nothing to do with knitting but there is much going on in my knitting world right now except the border of the Hemlock Ring Shawl.

We've been making this granola recipe for many years. As I made it last night I thought of the many pounds of oats we have eaten. Maybe I'm part horse.

8 cups rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 cup bran, wheat germ, or ground flax (optional but healthful)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup honey

Mix dry ingredients and then add the oil and honey. Stir thoroughly. Bake on a greased jelly roll pan at about 350 deg for 30 min, stirring occasionally. Bake longer for toastier granola. When granola has cooled stir in raisins, dried cherries, etc.

Variations: add 1/2 cup coconut before baking. Not as healthful but it tastes good.

I've been experimenting with the seasonings. My latest version is to use freshly grated nutmeg. What a difference! Then I add
1 tsp ginger
1/2 t cardamom

I'm slowly increasing the amounts of ginger and cardamom each time I make it. While visiting my brother in LA I bought some Ginger and Almond Granola at Trader Joe's. It had pieces of candied ginger in it. I LOVE anything with ginger.

Another tip is that I do not like teflon type pans. I now use parchment paper on the baking pan. It makes cleanup so much easier and we think it also improves the taste. If you have a convection choice on your oven set it at 350 for 25 min. I just accidentally got the convection option with my range because it had the other features I was looking for and wow, I just love it!

I buy all my spices from Penzey's. Unfortunately we do not have a Penzey's near us but if you are fortunate to have a store near you then hightail on over!


Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Read or Knit or....Work?

It's great that there are so many interesting things to do. I am torn between reading Love in the Driest Season by Neely Tucker, which is already gripping me, and finishing my Hemlock Ring Shawl. Of course I need to spend some time working in my office, too. And in the piping world we received 3 new tunes last week and are supposed to have them memorized on pipes tomorrow. I have 2 of the 3 down. Fortunately they are easy tunes. Within the knitting realm I am planning my next project. I think it will take a while to knit the border of Hemlock. (Isn't Hemlock poisonous?) Anitcipating the next knitting project is as much fun as finishing one.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Big Oaks from Little Acorns Grow

I love sitting on our deck and knitting. Above the deck there is a big red oak tree that provides lovely shade and a beautiful sound as the wind blows through the leaves. There is only one problem. Don't let the small size of these acorns fool you. They fall from a great height and pack quite a punch. Often they ricochet off the table and pick up speed as they careen past my head. So far I've had no direct hits but just in case my luck is running out...

Monday, October 1, 2007

A Tip to Make Knitting Life Simpler

Whenever I have a challenging project I bring out highlighters in various colors. Each element of a line (charted or otherwise) can be colorcoded. This way you can just glance at the line and know what to do. In the Hemlock Ring Shawl (Brooklyntweed) I only needed 2 colors.
I hope this tip helps a few knitters out there. It is so simple.

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