Monday, July 28, 2014

It could be worse.


For $400 I got an afternoon of knitting by myself, a cup of bad coffee, and the check engine light to turn off.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A Flower grows on YouTube


I picked up a grapevine wreath on sale at Michael's, and now there's one more project on my needles. 


Originally I had thought to add some of my crocheted hearts. I think that would have been very pretty.

But then I found a couple of videos on YouTube showing how to crochet multilayered flowers. And of course I had to try that out.

I ended up spending the afternoon making flowers. I probably could have finished the wreath as obsessed as I was. Only somebody is not house trained yet, and peed all over my yarn--which was in my lap at the time.


Surprisingly, no animals were harmed in the making of my wreath. 


Saturday, July 26, 2014

All Fun and Games Today

On Saturday mornings I usually walk down the street to meet some friends at Starbucks for coffee and knitting time together. We'll spend a few hours together then go off on our separate ways. Recently we've started to expand our time together into a full ladies day. (Although we aren't excluding guys. They just haven't shown any interest in joining us.)


After knitting, we now head out for lunch together. Today we went to The Diner on Gateway. It was my first visit and I was very impressed. The portions are huge and delicious. When she brought out my spinach salad I thought I had made a mistake and ordered a family portion instead the individual salad. It was so good, with lots of goat cheese and strawberries. (And I had enough left over for dinner.)


After lunch a few of us continue the day with an afternoon of Mah Jongg. Sometimes we play at my apartment, but today we went to the bookstore. We should have agreed to ignore the mess at my place because the bookstore turned out to be crowded. All the large tables were taken and we had to be be a bit inventive in setting up the game. As soon as one of the big tables freed up, we snagged up and moved over.


We've started playing for money. Nothing big, just a $5 limit. Last week, our first money game, I lost 50 cents after three hours of playing. Today I won the first game, making Mah Jongg myself on a 30 cent hand giving me a total of $1.20 in winnings. 


I won a second game. This was on a concealed hand, giving me the biggest win of the day : $2.40. So much excitement! 

Looking back in the day, I question what kind of person I have become, to be so happy over a day if knitting, lunching, and Mah Jongg with the ladies. Then I answer myself - a very lucky one.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Blogger Makes it Happen!



This week's favorite thing has to be the Blogger app. Because really, it's the only reason I've been able to get back to blogging. 

I've had this app for a while, almost as long as I've had my iphone, thanks to one of my knitting pals. But it was too difficult to navigate to do me any good. I would get frustrated before I could finish a post that it was taking all the fun out of blogging. It was easier to just wait until I could get onto the computer at home. After a while, I forgot I had this app.

Flash forward to the present. I've had the iphone long enough that apps have become a major part of my life. I wake up to an app. I schedule my day by apps. Apps keep me entertained and informed. My banking is done with an app. Even my knitting involves apps! So when I noticed I still had Blogger, I decided to give it another chance.

I don't know why I ever thought it was complicated. It's actually one of the easiest apps on my phone. Granted, I still get annoyed when I'm trying to type a word and it gets autocorrected to something really ridiculous and I can't get it to stop autocorrecting. And I still have trouble getting the formatting to go the way I want it because my fingers are too big to move the tiny bits I'm trying to select. But I can type up my post, add the pictures, and save as a draft. Then it takes just a few minutes during lunch or after work to use the computer to format and publish the draft.

Hopefully I'll be able to get a working computer at the home soon. (Although parting with my much-loved-even-if-it-is-outdated-and-slow laptop is proving difficult). In the meantime, Blogger is my favorite thing to keep me posting!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thursday's Thanks Giving



 I am so grateful that I have friends who are willing to share their babies with me.

 I don't have grandchildren yet. And I don't want grandchildren yet -- I think my kids are very smart to be waiting until they are more settled, and financially and emotionally ready for babies. I know too many people who had children too young and didn't get to enjoy them, or who have grandchildren that they are having to raise because the parents weren't really ready for the responsibility. I really enjoyed my children but I don't know that I would enjoy raising any more children at this point in my life. And yet...


With my children all grown up, it is a total joy that I can cuddle and spoil my friends' babies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wednesday's WIPs and FOs


My big accomplishment this week was finishing the Crochet Alone. All I had left to do was the border, but I thought I would never make it to the end of those ten rows! But now that it is all done, I really love it. When I started this project, I had said that I would probably give it away. After all, I only agreed to crochet the throw because the others in my Wednesday fiber group talked me into doing this Crochet Along. (Then they all dropped out before it started, without telling me, making it into my Crochet Alone.) But it's so pretty, and goes so well on my dark brown couch that I think I'm going to be selfish and keep it.

The yarn was Loops & Threads Impeccable from Michael's, in the Aqua. The pattern is Red Heart's Checkerboard Textures Throw.



I haven't made any real progress on the other active projects. We didn't do a knitting lesson this week, so the baby sweater is still waiting for the sleeves, and the ball still only has the one completed strip. I did do several more pattern repeats on the preemie blanket, although it's difficult to see any progress on a blanket. I just have five more pattern repeats (20 rows) and the garter stitch border (another 8 rows) and it can be bound off and given away.

I just couldn't get interested in any of these projects. After doing the crocheted throw in the worsted-weight acrylic, I wanted something fun to knit. Something pretty and challenging.

So I pulled out my Aeolian Shawl. I had started this back in 2010 (!) at my daughter's request that we do this pattern together. She, of course, never cast on her project. And I ended up getting distracted and putting it aside. Although I'm not sure why I would have abandoned this -- it's gorgeous. And despite using a bead every 10 stitches stitches in the pattern, it's an easy knit so far. I was actually able to take it to my knitting group and work on it while socializing. (I felt like such a hard core knitter that night!) The yarn is Knit Pick's Gloss Lace in Stirling, and the pattern is from Knitty.com.

I have two more repeats of the current chart, with all the beautiful beaded leaves, then there are still five more charts to navigate. So maybe I shouldn't get too confident. But is is an enjoyable contrast to the Crochet Alone!




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ten on Tuesday

The Ten on Tuesday topic for today is "Ten Thresholds You Cross Everyday." This could be a very thoughtful post, like the one posted on Zeneedle. But I think I'll go the more pragmatic route, and just detail my day's (sorry!) route.

1.  The first threshold of the day is the one from the bedroom into the bathroom. It's one I cross several times in the process of starting my day, and frequently involves tripping over the cat as the cat also attempts to cross the same threshold to start its day. (The litterbox is in my bathroom.)

2. The threshold from the living room onto my porch. I have several plants out on the porch, and they need a lot of water to survive the Florida heat. So watering is a daily event for the catnip, flower basket, and aloe plants. (The Christmas cactus is out there, too, but actually likes the sun and doesn't need as much water.)

3.  The threshold of the front door. A given.

4.  The threshold into the Rosser room, which is the main entrance of the church where I work. This involves juggling my bags, the mail (which I get from the mailbox on my way in), and the alarm.

5.  The threshold into the sanctuary. I'm still juggling all my bags, mail, and keys, plus the padlock and chain. Unfortunately we've had to start padlocking the sanctuary at night. The church leases space to other groups, and we had some damage done in the sanctuary from unsupervised children. It seems like such a shame to lock up the church this way, but it was easier to just prevent any further problems. I cross this threshold several times throughout the course of my day since my office is off the sanctuary and the fellowship hall, kitchen, restrooms, and supply closet are all on the other side of the Rosser room.

6.  The threshold into the Fellowship Hall is another one that I cross several times a day. The kitchen and restrooms are actually in the Fellowship Hall.

And since I've already mentioned these, but I also manage to cross the thresholds of the (7) Volunteer Office, (8) kitchen, and (9) restroom in the course of my day.

10.  After work, I almost always end up crossing the threshold of a Starbucks. Either to meet friends for knitting, or just to grab a coffee and sit to read for a little while before going home. I try to also cross the thresholds at the gym at some point during the day.

Monday, July 21, 2014

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. (Jorge Luis Borges)



I've been hearing more and more about the Little Free Libraries that are popping up all over the country, and I was hoping to find one. A guy in Wisconsin started this movement back in 2009 when he built a small schoolhouse-shaped box in honor of his mother,filled it with books to share with his neighbors, and put it in his front yard. His neighbors loved it, and it didn't take long for the idea to spread. Community support, word of month, human-interest publicity, and eventually a website  (www.littlefreelibrary.org) has lead to over 15,000 Little Free Libraries across the world.

It turns out that there are 100 Little Free Libraries just in Florida, and 6 are in my area. I was thrilled when I discovered that there was one in Vero Beach, where I was spending my vacation day. So naturally I went to search it out.



I found it at the edge of an empty lot, in a quiet little neighborhood. The theory of the little libraries is that you take any book you like, and leave one in its place. I had wondered if there were problems with people taking the books and not leaving anything, so that the libraries ended up empty. But the typed note on this libraries door basically said to please leave ONLY one book for each book you take, so the problem seems to be that people are overly-generous in sharing their books.

I did, of course, end up picking out a book to take. And then I walked the two blocks down to the beach where I spent a very nice couple of hours reading.


Thank you, J. J. Wilson for sharing Little Free Library #5048!

If you want to find a Little Free Library in your area, check out the website's interactive map.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Vacation!


I don't have time for a full post -- I'm getting ready to leave for a quick trip toVero Beach. We weren't able to work out a full vacation for me, but at least I have this 3-day weekend. I plan to enjoy every minute of it! (Saturday was pretty great, with knitting followed by lunch out with the gals and then a marathon Mah Jongg session.)

Missy Gray is pouting because she knows I'm leaving. I think the overnight bag gave me away. But I'm not worried. I figure she'll take her anger out on the puppy while I'm away, and then we'll have a long cuddle session when I get back.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Snapshop


This is a quick knitted project I had finished in early July. I was able to give these to a friend for her new granddaughter just about a week before the baby was born. The pattern, which is well-written and easy to do, is Bows Before Bros by Carrie Briggs. This pattern is going on my list of great baby gifts to make.

Friday, July 18, 2014

The MSG Golem

It was easy to decide on my favorite thing this week. I am still smiling over PodCastle's  The MSG Golem by Ken Liu.

I love PodCastle anyway. This podcast is all short Fantasy Fiction stories, and they are almost always wonderful. (Rarely there is something I just don't get, and even rarer something I just don't like.) But The MSG Golem from the July 2nd podcast is definitely a favorite.

I think one of the reasons I love it so much is the scene when Rebecca argues theology and religious ritual with God. It's so much my Rebecca. Especially since she seems to be winning.

I also love that God keeps whining about the way He gets blamed for everything when, having given man free will, He has no control. There are a few lines in the story that have me thinking about the God that I believe in and what obligations exist on both sides because of that belief.

If you've never listened to PodCastle before, this is a great first cast to start with. It's got God, a Golem, a sassy teen, space travel, and rats.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Bean Counter



One of my favorite apps is Bean, although I keep changing my mind on what I want to use it for. Right now, it's pretty much to track how many books I'm reading. In the past I've counted finished versus unfinished knitting projects, how many days a month I got stuck in traffic on I-95, how many times my daughter did the dishes, even how many butterflies I saw in the Memorial Garden. The whole purpose of this app is to count things. You can change the colors of the tiles and add short descriptions to count whatever strikes your fancy. Increasing the count is just a tap of a finger. Just be warned that if you reset the count to zero, the date also changes. It's usually easier to decrease the count by tapping with two fingers.

My only negative for this app is that I wish you could add more tiles, or have a 2nd version. Even though I don't have many items listed at the moment, I could easily load up two or three Beans with stuff to count!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Still too many PhDs!

Naturally I would jump right back into this on WIPs and FOs Wednesday. There's no way I'm going to try to fill in everything that I've done since my last knitting post. The only knitting that matters is the project in my bag right now. So here's what I'm carrying around today:

Preemie Baby Blanket - I don't have a written pattern for this. I'm using an ordinary acrylic baby yarn in a basket weave stitch until it's big enough. And big enough isn't very big, although the project is starting to feel like it is "lasting forever."

One of the girls in my Saturday knitting group is a neonatal nurse, and part of her job is to facilitate a a final visit by the parents with their baby when a preemie hasn't survived. She's talked about how difficult it is to find a blanket to wrap a preemie that doesn't overwhelm the baby. As she put it, image a one pound bag of sugar wrapped in a regular baby blanket. A hand knit blanket actually sized for the tiny preemies help to "normalize" the visit (if normal can in any way be used in this situation). Plus, if she has a few of the tiny blankets she can offer the parents the opportunity to keep the one their baby was wrapped in. Another knitting friend recently had preemie twins, and she kept the blanket her child was wrapped in. While one of the girls survived, the blanket is special to her for the memory of holding the daughter they lost.

I cry every time I think about this. There are so many tears knit into the blanket I'm working on. And even though I'm finding it tedious to knit a blanket (even a small one), I know that there will be others to follow.


This baby sweater is much more fun to knit. It's the Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater pattern by Carole Barenys. I had been knitting by myself in Starbucks when I was approached by a woman wanting to know if I knew anyone who teaches knitting. We struck up an arrangement, and I've been helping her knit this pattern for her new granddaughter. I try to stay one lesson ahead so that I can show her what she needs to do and how it will look. (I'm hoping she doesn't catch onto the mistakes I made in my button band, after all the emphasis I put on making sure she got it right.)


I guess I'm doing all right with the teaching, because she asked me to work with her 5 year old grandson. He's such a joy! I actually feel guilty getting paid to teach this boy how to knit because I have as much, if not more fun, than either of them. Our first project is a knitted ball. He's making one of the the six garter stitch panels for the ball. I'll make three, and his grandmother has offered to make the last 2. We knit at Starbucks (of course!), and there are quite a number of baristas and regulars there that are anxious to see this project finished. Yes, it's really going to be a ball when he's done knitting.

I'm almost finished with the Crochet Alone. If you follow me on Instagram  you can catch all the whining I've done about this project. Basically, even though it's almost finished, I am still not happy with the group that convinced me to start a project I didn't want to do so that we could have a CAL (Crochet Along) and then left me as the only one actually doing it. And I know that I could have given up once I found out they all had, but I got stubborn enough to eat worms. I've complained every stitch along the way, though. I will admit, if you promise not tell the Wednesday girls, that now that the squares are seamed and the border is almost finished -- it a really nice project.

And those are my four "Carry With Me" projects at the moment. Recently my knitting gals convinced me that three projects was more than enough to tote around. The discussion had been prompted by my question of how they managed to come to knit night with only one project, when I had six projects plus another three in the car "just in case." As you can see, I'm still above my "reasonable" number, but I'm going to claim that it's because two of those projects are teaching examples and should be counted as one.


This week I also crossed three projects off my PhD list. I was able to add the last three rows to my front door mat, crocheted out of plarn (plastic yarn - made from recycling grocery bags).
 


I finally blocked the pinwheel purse I knit back in 2012. It took me a whole four minutes to pin it out, so why did I wait so long?

I also blocked one of the shawls while I was at it. This is Pettine, knitted back in 2011 out of Malibrigo sock. I loved this shawlette before, when it was more of a scarf. But blocked out -- wow!

Monday, April 28, 2014

It was a bargain!

Mom and I went yard saling this weekend and although we bought more than we should have we did manage to stay within our budget. (By the way, can I use "yard saling" as a verb? I'm getting a big NO-NO from my spell-check program on this. But we've always referred to it as going yard-saling. "We went to several yard sales" is just too much class and  legitimizes the process beyond its spontaneous cheesiness.)

I passed up a great bargain on a wooden daybed. A few months ago I would have jumped on the chance to get both the daybed of my dreams plus a matching dresser for $75, even though I know that it wouldn't fit into my tiny Kia Rio. Even taken apart, the suggestion given by the desperate owner at the "Moving Tomorrow--Everything Must Go Today" yardsale, the bed would not have fit into the car. Even for $50, it would not have fit into my car. (Although if she had gone any lower, I probably would have  attempted to carry it home on my rooftop!) But just a couple of months ago I was gifted with a wonderful full-size bed and mattress, so I really didn't need the daybed. And since my day's budget was $10, I stayed strong and passed up this terrific bargain.

At the next yard sale I did indulge in a pie crimper, which I probably overpaid trying to get it. It cost $.25 plus the promise of a home-baked pie. But the guy holding the sale was cute and single, so it may still turn out to be a bargain.

I also picked up a couple of nostalgia items: a dvd of the The Borrowers and a Barney-the-Dinosaur puppet.*

I thought I had talked about The Borrowers before, but I can't find that post to link to. When I was a teenager babysitting my younger cousins, I entertained them by convincing them that there were tiny people living in their house. I had read The Borrowers, and basically used it as a bedtime story. What made it fun was that the kids believed me for a really long time. My best friend/cousin helped me keep the story going, to the point that the tale passed into the realm of family legend. In fact, at the last family wedding, the story came up again. So of course I had to get the dvd of the original movie adaptation. It probably isn't as good as my retelling of the book was, but I'm looking forward to watching it. I think it'll be worth the dollar spent.

I'm even more excited to have gotten Barney, and he didn't cost me anything. The people having the yard sale were so entertained by my story of why I wanted him, they gave the toy to me for free. You see, my two oldest were young when Barney was all the craze. It was in the days when parents would fight over the last stuffed-Barney doll in a store, the show was that popular. We had bought a Barney for each of the children, and they loved him. Neither will admit it now, but there was no bedtime without Barney back then. One day I was taking my son for a walk in his stroller while his big sister was in school (kindergarten, age 4) and it wasn't until we got home that I realized Barney had dropped out of the stroller. I frantically retraced our route, but Barney was gone for good. That left us with one doll and two children. My husband and I tried to replace it, but we lived too far out in the country (not a lot of stores) combined with Barney's popularity (not a lot of product to be had). So I spent the next year going to elaborate lengths to share the one Barney between the two children in such a way that neither child would realize that their doll had been lost. It's been 22 years, and I finally have a replacement for the missing Barney. Of course, now neither child will want it. But I finally feel like a good parent again for having gotten the doll back.

By the way, my total purchase for the day, including a third item I'll chat about another time, was $2.25 plus a pie. I love yard-saling!

*These were not from the same sale as the pie crimper. Having a Barney doll for sale would have made me think creepy instead of cute single guy.