Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Felted Laptop Case

I'd like some input on my felted laptop case. These are the things I've thought of so far, have I missed anything?
  • A division down the center, so I can put my laptop on one side, knitting on the other.
  • Pockets for nebulizer etc.
  • A secure place for wallet and keys.
  • What else? Ideas?

I think I've come up with a way to make a flat bottom, and am trying to make discrete edges. Just because. It may be wasted when it is fulled, but still, I like the idea.

We are supposed to be on the leading edge of another winter storm. There are people still without power, with this storm, supposedly projected to be just like last week's, it is supposed those people will be without power for a week. They also expect more power outages. Whoopee! I suspect the stores are doing a landmark business. I understand that last week on of the local grocery stores broke their record of most sold in a day. Wonder if they've restocked enough to do it again?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

On My Way

I decided that along with getting on "The Beach" (the South Beach Diet) that I'm also going to exercise. I've increased 5 minutes a day until I'm up to 25 minutes! Pretty good for being so out of shape that 5 minutes was enough the first day. I find it sad how I try to find excuses for not working out. Yesterday's was the fact that I'd shoveled the last inch of snow off the walks -- couldn't that count? Decided not. Today I tried to say that an hour shopping was the same -- nice try, I worked out anyway.

I'd seen this on several blogs Judy's started the process, but today Tricotine's post did it for me. I joined in. Really late, as it started January 1. But I can do this!

Here I go! I'm not going to post about it daily, but I will check in on it weekly.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

And the snow came

My leg against the snow, for perspective.

My car was BURIED! The ice came off in a sheet after Howard got one side loose. Of course, he had to remove the snow first!

Howard (standing back because he didn't want his picture taken) against a drift next to the porch.

Thank God for Mike, who came before lunch to plow us out. He brought the big machine for the drive. You can see that there was "just a bit" of snow!

I stayed in today, read and started a satchel for my new laptop. I have one briefcase here at the house, and it is too small -- the laptop sticks up over the top by a couple of inches. I have a Lands End briefcase that I've had for years. Unfortunately, it is in storage. Of course. So, I knit up 2 pockets as gauge swatches. They are fulling as I type. I'm using yarn that my cousin Larry brought back from Brazil last year. His sister-in-law had purchased it in Uruguay. I just checked, it fulls beautifully after 15 minutes from the time the washer started filling. I'm going to allow the washer to complete the cycle, then pull them out. I'm using the satchel
here as a starting point. I want to be able to have my knitting in there as well as the computer. I'll probably make it wider, perhaps put a separator in there to keep the laptop cords from tangling with my yarn. A pocket for my keys wouldn't go amiss either! This is still in the hmmmmmmm stage.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Night with Snow

Still snowing...
The snow is supposed to continue until 6 tomorrow evening. The sidewalk has probably 5 inches (12.7 cm) of snow already. I almost deleted the first picture from my camera, but it seemed to be such a surrealistic view of a snowstorm, yet so true!

Ice Storm!

We had an ice storm that rolled in through the night. This morning Howard moved my car from the street (I forgot to move it last night) to the driveway. The car was iced over, when he closed the car door, the latch wouldn't close because it was frozen. You can see the ice on the railing. The trees are covered in ice, we've already had a power outage of about an hour. Just long enough for us to start to settle into the "oh dear" mode, as the house is heated by electricity, and the kitchen is electric as well.

Now we are getting snow on top of the ice. This is going to be an interesting period of time. The department of transportation has requested that people NOT travel at this time. It just isn't safe.

Church has been cancelled for tomorrow. We had to chuckle, Howard called the cancellation in, there must have been a misunderstanding as to the name of the church. Grin Um, it really SHOULD be called First Congregational UCC of Webster City! Not quite what he heard, was it? I thought it was funny enough that I took a picture of it.


I have a new computer! The old one was so slow that even the computer tech was complaining! LOL

I have a laptop! I'm looking forward to using it. Right now I'm in the process of adapting to it. My biggest problem is the keyboard -- I'm used to an ergonomic one, so the keys aren't in the same place. For some stupid reason, I'm not hitting the space bar with my right thumb hard enough, and that is the thumb that almost always hits the space bar. So I have to go back and insert a space. Drat it. Oh and the touch pad. I've avoided one so long, because I've worried that I wouldn't be able to control it. So far, it has been...interesting. Even posting this, I keep popping the cursor up higher in the paragraph. Coordination is the key. Too bad I don't have enough. LOL
All of my programs are now loaded. I think. grin Updates are a pain, but necessary.
I've had two good nights of sleep, hopefully I'll feel up to knitting again. Not sleeping well kicks me in the hind end!
We had freezing rain, everything is coated with a quarter inch (.6 cm) of ice. Now we are supposed to get up to 12" (30.5 cm) of snow on top of it. YUCK!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

My Bad

I announced the other day that Nathan and Kim had gifted me with a car. I've been enjoying the freedom of being able to hop in it and drive. Thank you again!

Yesterday evening while Howard was at church, I realized that my drive band on the Louet S-10 had gone bad. It was not allowing the Woolie Winder to feed evenly. You can see the problem here. So I cut the drive band -- after trying to figure out how to get it off the wheel (as far as I can tell it is there to stay!) and went to the local farmers supply store. You know, one of those that has almost everything? A fun place to explore. I had called first to make sure they had O-rings. I got there, asked where they were, and a perky young thing told me she'd take me, as she knew where they were. We got there, and she showed me -- the largest was 3 inches across. My face must have shown something, because she asked, "How big of one do you want?"
"I just happen to have brought my old one" I said and pulled it out. Her expression was startled.
"I've not seen one that size before!" she said. So we went up to the front where she showed someone else the band and asked him where one would be. His face was startled as well.
"I don't think we have anything, but let's ask ..."
So we proceeded into the depths of the store to find ..." While we headed that way, I heard announced on the loudspeaker "Will the owner of the red Tempo please come to the front desk!"
I hurried up front, wondering what was going on. "Your car started rolling across the parking lot!" I'm sure my face went white! I raced out the door, afraid of what I'd see. There the car was, away from other cars, just as I'd parked it, just forward a bit. A wonderful woman who had been shopping with her children told me "I saw a man beside the car and it was moving. I asked if it was his and he said no. So I opened the door, got in and put it in gear. Your emergency brake didn't hold." I thanked her profusely!
Went back in, and was met by the 2 clerks who had continued to check on my drive band situation. The store didn't have anything that would help, but they had done a fantastic job trying to find something.
Howard says that I'd told him earlier that the emergency brake doesn't hold well, and the car must be left in gear. I don't remember that. I will remember from now on to put the brake on and also leave it in gear! Thank God that I had decided to park away from other cars and walk. If it hadn't been stopped, it would eventually have rolled into the embankment at the edge of the parking lot and stopped, as that is too steep for the car to roll up. But still... If I had parked somewhere else, I could have hit another car!
I got home, and ordered new drive band material. Enough for 2 drive bands, on the theory that if I have 2, the new one won't go out. If I only have 1, it will. Since I needed to finish up what I was spinning, I cut about 4 inches out of the old drive band and burned it together again. About 120 yards of a bulky weight Cormo. Looks good. I forgot to take a picture before it was popped in the mail.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Samson's Fleece

I played with the fleece today. There is one section of the cinnamon color that is heavily contaminated with vegetable matter. In fact, some was so bad I threw it out. Other areas were beautiful. Those I saved. I'd thought to separate the white from the cinnamon, but in the end I didn't. That is after making 3 piles, of course, of the closest to white, the cinnamon with white and the cinnamon. In the end, they all went into the same bag to be processed together.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Some Knits are Like That!

Okay, I started a pair of knee socks the other day. The pattern calls for twisted rib, (k1 tbl, p1) for the cuff. I got started and forgot. So, I decided to go with regular 1 by 1 rib for the top half (the visible part) of the cuff, then do twisted rib for the under half. I figured the twisted rib would pull in a bit. Problem was, as I started the twisted rib part, that it made the first part look messy. So, there went 3.5 inches of the first sock and 4 of the second. Frog. I'll start over again.

Then I pulled out the other pair of socks I have been working on. The orange with green. I took a serious look at them, and decided I wasn't happy with them either. They just didn't work. Frog. So that is 2 pairs of socks frogged in the same day! Not a good time for my knitting.

We drove up part way to Nathan and Kim's to meet them. My birthday present (with the connivance of Allison -- thank you!) was an alpaca fleece. Kim's friend raises them, Samson's fleece won first place in his color division at the 2002 Midwest Alpaca Jamboree. The breeder sent his whole fleece -- unskirted -- in a sheet so that it will be easier to skirt. I have legs and neck fleece as well as the blanket, so I'm going to have to spend some quality time tomorrow separating it out. Any good ideas as to what to do with non-blanket fleece?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Freaking COLD

You know, the weather is supposed to break and warm up. But you know, at 10:00 PM to see that it is -7*F or -21+*C, the only thought that goes through my head is -- DARN IT IS COLD!

SP 10

I had such a great time last time with Secret Pal 9 (thanks to Kitman and Lianne) that I decided to do it again. So, the questions are bold, my response isn't:

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
After many years of knitting with acrylics because they were all I could find at the time, I now prefer natural fibers. Wool, mohair, alpaca, angora, llama -- I have loved knitting with them all, and wearing them. I do use acrylic for baby hats and for people who prefer that. Cotton and linen are hard on my hands.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
The straights are stored in a vase from flowers my son and daughter-in-law sent me. Double points are sorted by size and are in PVC tubing from the hardware store. Each size has its own tube. Circulars are in a paper/cardboard file (check) folder with a divider for each size. The circulars and double points are stored in a handy rolling tote that Howard found for me. It is great to take when I teach. There is room to (usually) tuck the current project, any samples and patterns I'm bringing.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I learned in 2nd or 3rd grade in Brownie Girl Scouts. Probably 2nd grade, as my sister didn't learn and she was in the troop with me when I was in 3rd grade. I take on advanced patterns without a qualm.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
No, I've not been asked for such a wish list by the family.

5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products, etc.)
Unscented please, I have asthma and scents can set it off. Darn it.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I do, but between food allergies (why is corn in almost every candy?) and trying to shed pounds, I have to be careful. I love Altoids Cinnamon Gum.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I spin. I have a Louet S-10, and have temporary guardianship of my daughter's Sleeping Beauty wheel. There is also a Great Wheel that lives here, but I'm still not sure that it is spinnable. A Judi drop spindle, an Ann Grout acorn spindle and a lace-weight Spin-Dizzy are my portable spinning supplies. I enjoy needlepoint and counted cross stitch, although I've not done either for a while. I'm threatening to pick it up again for my dollhouse. I'm also trying to put together a dollhouse fiber studio.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
Classical music. Yes, I can play MP3s.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
Rust, browns, orange (in small bursts), teal, periwinkle -- I love them and they look great on me. I can't wear black. Makes me look wider than my height!

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
Married with 2 adult children away from home. No pets, it is in the lease. Not even FISH! sigh We have 2 grand-cats and 1 grand-dog.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Scarves and mittens. I usually feel like an idiot wearing a hat, although I love the way they look on others.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Socks, lace and textured sweaters I almost always have a pair of socks on the needles.

13. What are you knitting right now?
Two pair of socks. Several projects pending but not started. An Aran for Serena, Ballerina for me, and something lace from the gorgeous yarn my wonderful Spin Me a Treasure pal Florence sent from Belgium. Ashforth and Plummer's Penrose is languishing, wondering if it will become UFO.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?
A handmade gift is a gift of self -- I love them!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
Circulars, as straights hurt my wrists. My current favorites are the Knitpicks Options -- I love the sharp point!

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes to both, and I am grateful to have them.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Oh dear, a pair of socks I started for DH when we moved here in 2003. I have the worst of the knitting done -- black over the calf socks in 3 ply sock yarn. They are both done as far as the heel (top down) so it shouldn't take forever to finish. It is just DOING it! Unfortunately, the needles have come out of them, so there is going to be a bit of an interesting time starting them again. They aren't called "Howard's Eternal Socks" for the way the LAST!

18. What is your favorite holiday?

19. Is there anything that you collect?
Books. Yarn perhaps -- but it will eventually be used up. I used to collect small Nativity scenes, but there just isn't room in this house to display the ones I have.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I have subscriptions to Spin-Off, Vogue Knitting, Knitters and Interweave Knits. I need to resubscribe to Cast On. Norah Gaughan's "Knitting Nature" is on my "to buy" list as is a subscription to "Twists and Turns". Living an hour away from yarn stores these past 3 years I've not seen or fondled many of the lovely yarns that are out there. I have heard about them, but...

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Not a new technique, but I'd like to improve my stranded knitting.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Yes, I love to knit socks. I have a high instep, so I need a heel flap of 3 inches (7.6 cm) or more. My foot is 9.5 inches (24 cm) long and the same around at the ball of the foot.

23. When is your birthday? (mm/dd)
January 26

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I've taken those socks off the needles. I'm not happy with having to make 2 pairs of socks to make them match. I put the other 2 skeins in a "safe" place, and can't put my hands on them now to see how they look.

I called the store where I purchased the yarn, and warned her. She is just starting to sell yarn (it has been a scrap-book only store for years) and doesn't need to have a first-time customer (or any other customer!) angry because the yarn color is bad. I don't know if she will return the rest of the yarn or not. She offered to have me return the yarn I have. I probably won't. Don't have a CLUE what I'm going to do with it, though.

Then yesterday I decided to start a new pair of knee socks, only top down this time. Were you around the Knitlist when Regia first began making a splash on the knitting scene? I have several of their pattern booklets from that time. I did a trade with Holly Doyne while she was in Europe -- I'd send over things she needed, she'd send me pattern books and yarn. Worked for us. Anyway one of their booklets is on knee socks. I'm going to use one of those patterns. It is one I've meant to knit since I first got the pattern book! So much that going through my booklets yesterday I found 2 copies of the booklet in English and one in German. LOL

So, I went through my stash and found 4 skeins of white -- again from Patons. I've had these for several years -- before we moved to the Midwest. They are discoloring! They are all the same dye lot, yet 2 look creamy, the other 2 white. No, I didn't spill tea on them! At that point I backed away from all yarn. That was NOT the time to start any new sock projects, obviously. Later I started the new pair with Knitpicks Color Your Own sock yarn. I've not knit with it before, but it feels nice so far as I'm working on it.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Oh for land sakes!

My Dad used to say "Oh for land sakes!" upon occasion. I was trying to come up with an appropriate exclamation for what I just discovered. "Oh for land sakes!" Seems to cover it.

I very carefully checked dye lots on this yarn before I bought it. One of those automatic things you do. On top of which, the store probably only bought one bag or 10 skeins of this color, so it would have been all the same dye lot.

I was knitting away at them, and suddenly noticed something pretty awful. At least, in my opinion. THE YARN DOESN'T MATCH! You can see it better in the first picture, the sock on the right is a faded version of the sock on the left! Grrrrrr. I am not happy. I guess I will be writing a letter of protest. I have 2 more skeins, to make these knee socks. I wonder if the 2 skeins I have will match one or both of these!

I frequently knit fraternal twin socks. Deliberately. The same color, but something different on each. I don't knit a pair of socks that don't match this way.

On another front with these socks, I tried the baby cable. Yuck -- it got lost in the patterning. I tried a lace pattern -- again this yarn is busy enough that it didn't show. I gave up and am doing a 2 by 2 rib. Interesting (to me) is that the color pooling that I see in these pictures wasn't as evident to the naked eye.

These socks are trying to prove to me why I hate toe-up socks, aren't they!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Toe Up -- Top Down

I am a top down sock knitter. I don't know why, but that is what I've become. I don't think it is so much that I learned that way -- but there is something satisfying to me about knitting top down.

My most spectacular pair of toe-up socks are these -- the pair I did for Antina's wedding. I knit them from Zephyr -- a size 0 for the lace and a 0000 for the foot. Since it was a US Civil War wedding (the bride and groom are active re-enactors) I used a stitch pattern that was from "Knitting Lace: A Workshop with Patterns and Projects" by Susanna Lewis. She deconstructed a lace sampler from the early 1800s. The only real problem I had was when I had her try the first one on just after the ankle-- it wasn't wide enough. I added a pattern repeat and all was well. After I picked up all of the stitches that fell off the needles when she tried it on and it was too tight. That wasn't pleasant.

That is what got me over any problems with Kitchener stitch. 43 stitches each top and bottom - 86 total per foot. I had the technique down by the time I was done with the pair! The bindoff was tighter than I would prefer, I've learned new methods in the many intervening years that would eliminate that . I've knit one other pair of toe up socks -- the Toe-to-Cuff Lace Rib Socks designed by Jackie E-S. I'm not even sure where that pair is. I've knit lots of pairs top down since that pair.

Fast forward to now. My knit buddy Dianne asked me to partner with her and do a pair of toe-up knee socks. She saw the post on The Keyboard Biologist (scroll down to the January 24th post.) We were supposed to start February 1, but...I didn't. I did start today. I'm using some Paton's Kroy that reminds me of a cross between the Red Heart variegated yarn that children love and a box of crayons. Mainly red, but about 4 stitch stretches of orange, yellow, green, blue and purple. This time I used Stasia's cast-on so I don't have to graft the toe when I'm done. So far? I'm not enjoying myself. I think I'm just whining at the moment. They really aren't far enough along that it should make a difference, for pete's sake! Perhaps it is the fact that I've not been able to establish a rhythm yet? I want to add baby cables to the top of the foot and the leg. We'll see how that turns out! I don't think the cables won't show at all. Perhaps some lace? The photo is slightly out of focus, I'm sorry! I figure you can see well enough for the start of the sock. Any further pictures will be in focus.

Top down or toe up is a matter of preference, just as the choice of knitting with 4 (or 5) double pointed needles, 2 circulars or 1 circular (the magic loop technique.) I unvented magic loop many years ago for my own knitting, when I was decreasing on the neck of a sweater. That allowed me to continue knitting when I didn't have the double points I needed. It was an emergency measure then, and I didn't like interrupting my knitting to pull the cable. I was surprised when others really fell in love with the technique. (No, I do NOT claim I unvented it and someone else took the credit. It was something I did for myself, that's all.) I've tried knitting socks on two circulars and switched to double points part of the way through. I'm delighted that other people enjoy the techniques. For whatever reason, there are certain techniques that I prefer over others.

So why did I agree to knit this pair of socks this way? No clue. "It sounded reasonable at the time" is about the only excuse I have. But I promised I would do it. Maybe I'll change my mind by the time I'm done. It could happen!

Have you see this website? I came across possum/wool yarn once before, and it was oh so soft. As someone that is perpetually cold, I want some! Gee, and I'd be doing something for the environment too! LOL

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

My Mystery Skein Swap Project Revealed!

Now that my Mystery Skein Swap Partner has received her package, I can show you what I made for her. Remember the skein of cream yarn I posted about? Here is the finished product thoughtfully modeled by Howard.

I took the skein of cream yarn, and added two strands of Brown Sheep Naturespun Sport -- one of Metropolitan Turquoise and one of Blue Knight. The center area -- where I realized that that there wasn't going to be nearly enough of the cream -- was an additional strand of the Blue Knight. I was running a bit tight (i.e. I was running out!) of the Blue Knight by the handles, so one handle is 2 strands of turquoise and 1 of blue, the other (the first half) is 2 strands of Blue Knight and one of turquoise. Oddly enough, it doesn't jump out and announce the difference.

I tried, I really did. Mary D, one of the people in my knitting group, told me about putting plastic tubing in your i-cord to prevent it from stretching. After several trips to the E.R. for allergies, as well as having to borrow a nebulizer when my own died, I have lots of plastic tubing on hand. (Doesn't everyone ask the E.R. to save the plastic tubing from your breathing treatments?) Anyway, after I knit up the i-cord, we (as in Howard -- I lost patience quickly when it kept poking through my stitches) threaded the tubing in the i-cord. Then it was fulled/felted. Worked really well, the nicest, roundest i-cord I've made. Unfortunately, as I tried to cut the tubing to fit the bag (as the tubing now extended way beyond the fulled i-cord) I...goofed. The tubing pulled out, leaving me with my nice ROUND i-cord, without the tubing. I'll have to try again, it makes sense, it was operator error.

Today I went to the school about a half an hour away to talk with more girls about knitting. They were so excited, it was fun. There was also an older woman who came as well. This is going to be a weekly (except for school interruptions) meeting -- teaching them more about knitting. Right now they know how to cast on, knit and bind off. They may know how to purl, but it didn't look like it today. Their stated goals (there were 8 people there, so the goals vary):
1. to make a scarf that she can be proud of;
2-5. mittens
6-7. hats
8. stranded knitting -- preferably in a scarf
We can do this! Today I touched briefly on Russian Joins (try describing this without yarn and a needle -- I drew it on the whiteboard and promised that I'd bring yarn and needles next week!) as well as other methods of joining yarn without making a knot and knitting on. I also showed some of the things I have knit, as well as passing around many different types of yarns. These girls have really only been exposed to acrylics, so they enjoyed the different textures as well as the possibilities ahead of them.

Why do we, as teachers and learners, tend to limit ourselves? "That is too hard for me to try." or "I can't do that." By setting ourselves up to fail, we make it difficult to learn any more than what we've already done. ARGH! Or, another one "I don't have the patience for that." From someone who has knit several garter stitch scarves, I really have to wonder if they realize what they are saying. Isn't it closer to "I'm afraid to try anything new?" Okay, rant over.

It has still been COLD here. I brought in the totes from outside tonight. They had been in the frigid temps for 3 days. I found it telling that after almost 2 hours inside, some of them STILL had snow on the lids. Wow, we are supposed to be all the way up to 20*F - -6.6*C by Monday. HEAT WAVE!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Baby it is COLD outside!

We drove up to visit Nathan and Kim Friday. Came back home yesterday. Two 5 hour drives in 2 days is a bit much! We just wanted to spend some time "with." As an aside, Minnesotans have an interesting speech difference -- they don't say with "what", they just say "Do you want to go with?" Used to drive me nuts when we lived there, one of my kids would say, "can I go with" and I'd reply "with what?" So, since we were in Minnesota, we were spending some time with. Argh

The 5 hour drive was good for knitting -- I almost finished the present for the Mystery Skein Swap. No pattern, I just played to get what I wanted. Can't show pictures until it is received.

We drove up with one car, came back with 2! They gave me (!) their old car -- a 1991 Ford Tempo 5 speed. They worried about me being home without a car for those times Howard is away. This way I can drive myself places, instead of relying on him. Isn't that sweet of them! They had it checked out for necessary repairs before they handed it over. Nathan drove around Saturday morning in the bitter cold (-15*F -26*C with a windchill of -37*F or -38 *C) to have the tires checked. I drove it home, it is a sweet car. The heater works too, which I really appreciated on the drive home!

The bitter cold has arrived here. It was -13*F -25*C with a windchill of -35*F -37*C. The weather that causes frostbite in a minute or less.

Remember the fact that I took all of my fiber outside to kill moths? I brought it in after 3 days, and should have taken it back out last night. I didn't -- it was too cold. This morning I got up, and my sweetie had carried it all out for me! In all of that cold. What a precious gift!