Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Drifting with Reyna

Lately my Facebook feed has been nothing but photos and posts from people knitting Reyna.  I'm not normally one to knit the popular, trendy Thing but the pattern seemed like it might be a good use of some of the Mini Mochi I bought recently.  So...

hand knit shawl knit with Mini Mochi yarn for https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
Reyna

The early stages of my Reyna.  Which I'm going to end up referring to as Revna instead of Reyna.  My printer is nearing the end of it's life and struggles to print letters that hang down below the line.  In other words, the "y" looks like a "v" on my printed pattern.

I'm loving the Reyna pattern.  It's simple and fairly mindless although it changes stitch patterns just often enough to keep me interested.  The pattern directions are well written and best of all, there's a row tracker with boxes to check off each time I finish knitting a row.  Besides not having to keep up with a row counter thingy, it's super sweet being able to glance at the pattern and know how many more rows I have to go before I change patterns.  For now, while the rows are so short, having this information isn't necessary, but later, as the shawl grows and the stitch count seems to grow 4,000% with each row, I'm sure having that information will be quite motivational.

And, since I'm participating in today's Yarn Along over at Ginny's blog, Small Things, I need to tell you about what I'm reading.  Except, the only thing I'm currently reading is some seriously trashy smut that was a free Kindle book and I'm just not ready to go public with that.  Instead, I'll tell you about what I just finished reading.

The Drift, a book about being lost at sea by Chris Thrall
The Drift

I just finished The Drift by Chris Thrall.  I love stories about being lost at sea, adrift in a life raft, trying to survive surrounded by water but with nothing to drink.  I've sunk practically every boat I've ever been on.  Okay, that's a slight exaggeration, but I have sunk a few and I've swum more boats back to shore than I've sailed back.  Besides preparing me for the day I gather my courage to leave sight of land and I end up finding myself lost at sea in a life raft, those types of stories always make my own life's drama seem so trivial.  And sometimes I need to be reminded that my drama is minute in the grand scheme of things.

So, The Drift...  I enjoyed reading it but the ending left me.....  in speechless shock.  I finished reading the book a few days ago and I'm still slightly speechless over the ending.  I don't want to give anything away in case you decide to read it (which you should,) but....  I'm just speechless.  I keep thinking I misunderstood.  Three days later and I still have the urge to pull a Annie Wilkes on Mr. Thrall and force him to change the ending. 

And now, since thinking (and typing) about dehydration & starvation (have I mentioned I'm allergic to seafood?) has made my blood pressure rise, I'm going to go knit a few more rows of my Reyna to calm myself down.

In the words of Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knit on!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

It's been a while

It's been a while since my last post.  I didn't do an end of the month/April in review post because there just wasn't anything to review.  Somehow I only finished knitting three things in April.  Three hats. Three hats that haven't been photographed.  One of which never will be because it was a gift & I shipped it off without ever taking a picture.  I did take one blurry in-process picture with my phone.

A cabled brim beanie hand knit with Cascade Quatro wool.
Kate's Hat

"Kate's hat" was knit with some Cascade Quatro that's been hanging out in my stash pile for quite some time.  The beanie has a mock cabled brim and is knit in one of my favorite colors.  The other two hats will eventually show up in my Etsy shop.

My lack of finished items has to do with my Pebble Beach shawl.  Karen over on Pumpkin Sunrise introduced me to the pattern.  Even though it took me a lifetime to knit the shawl, the pattern was simple and very well written.  I ended up doing a beaded bind off.  I was running low on yarn and was afraid I wouldn't have enough for the suggested Picot cast off.

I finished the bind off in the wee hours this morning and since I needed something to blog about today, I set it to soak while I was waiting for the coffee to perk.  I'm proud to say it's now on the blocking mats.

My hand knit lacy Pebble Beach shawl is being blocked.
Pebble Beach Shawl

I had to get seriously aggressive with the blocking.  It wanted to be bubble shaped instead of a crescent.  I pulled an tugged on it a while and finally wrangled it into it's proper shape.

I also got artsy with the photo.  I've discovered that 'getting artsy' hides a multitude of sins like bad lighting and blurry photos.  It also hides the fact that I'm using all my windows & doorways as an indoor clothesline.

So, yeah.  My house looks ridiculous with all the laundry hanging everywhere, but hey - at least I remembered to take the wet clothes out of the washing machine.  And, miracle of miracles, I remembered to remove the wet clothes on the same day they were washed!  Just call me Miss Productivity today.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What's on the knitting needles?

What's on my knitting needles on this rainy day?

On the knitting needles  for https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
OTN 4/27/16

I've passed the 70% complete mark on my Pebble Beach shawl.  I've also had to start a third skein of yarn which wasn't supposed to happen.  Luckily I had several extras on hand.

My Seaweed scarf has been mostly abandoned in an effort to make some progress on the Pebble Beach.  For the most part, Seaweed has been labeled 'car knitting.'

And the newest 'knit while I read' project is another multicolored stockinette cowl.  The yarn is Wisdom Yarns, Marathon Socks North Pole in the Fruitcake colorway.  It's been in my stash pile for a while.  The yarn's yellow, orange, red and green stripes scream autumn plus it has a bit of metallic shimmer that catches the light just so and reminds me of brilliantly colored maple trees.

bumble bees or carpenter bees

So here I am at the end of April, enjoying porch knitting with the bumble bees, thinking about how desperately we need to repaint the porch, and jonesing for fall.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Fear Factor

This week has been all about facing my fears.  I haven't gotten much knitting done, actually, I'm at a negative mark on the knitting, but I have chased away several of those pesky fear demons.  (Okay, maybe I've watched a few too many episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.)

Today I faced my fear of glaucoma and going blind.  For the past few months, I've had round after round of eye exams that have contradicted each other.  Some the tests said I was just old, about half said I had a pretty bad case of glaucoma and the rest said I simply needed more sleep & better hand/eye coordination.  I went in today for one final test, the big boy scan.  The kind of scan where I'm dammed glad that we have medical insurance.  The kind of scan where I needed a GPS to find my way around the medical facility.  It was scary and I'm glad its over with, but the results were good.  I don't have glaucoma.  I'm just old and I need to eat better and get some exercise.

Last night I faced fear on Netflix.  Have you seen the movie Hush?  Stephen King recommended it in a Tweet so I figured it would be good & scary, but damn!  My heart rate is still elevated and it's the reason I've accomplished negative knitting this week.  I had to frog a giant amount of my progress thanks to that movie.

Earlier in the week I faced my fear of old car ownership.  It was time for its annual inspection and since I knew I had a big, giant eye doctor bill to pay coming up, I figured at least eight different car parts would fail inspection.  But, to my amazement, she passed!  She passed with flying colors & not a single repair necessary.  Not even a burnt out lightbulb!

And even earlier in the week, last weekend to be exact, I faced my big fear.

Eiffel tower kings dominion, doswell, va
Eiffel Tower, Kings Dominion

Heights.  I had to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower for work.  You step off the elevator and you are 264 feet up in the air.  That doesn't sound like much, but it's significantly higher than the trip up the Statue of Liberty.  It's high enough to make your ears pop.  And it's definitely high enough to make me somewhat nauseous.  There's nothing quite as fearful as trying not to freak out or barf in front of your department head while you interact with park guests.

the view from the top of the Kings Dominion Eiffel Tower
View from the top

I have to admit though, as long as I remembered to breathe without hyperventilating, the view was spectacular.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

Sixteen Things

In honor of the Brown family and Jalen's 16th birthday, I decided to make today's blog post a list of 16 things that make me happy.  Sixteen things that I can see, touch, or am reminded of while sitting here at my computer.  Here goes, in no particular order -

a giant coffee cup
My coffee cup

1.  Coffee, and more specifically, coffee in My cup.  I absolutely LOVE my coffee cup and the rest of the family know not to touch it (actually, it's a "them."  I have three.  I used to have four, but we won't go into that because this is a post about happy things.)  It holds two cups worth of coffee, the handle fits my hand perfectly, the cup itself is not too heavy and it keeps the coffee warm for quite a while.   While this particular cup is showing signs of its long life (I've been using these cups daily for 14+ years) its original finish had that old world, scuffed and well loved look to it.  I just love my coffee cup.

2.  I have come to love the little scribbles the kids made on what used to be our dining room table but is now my desk.  Back in the day, when the table was our dining room/homeschooling table, I was not pleased to find little hearts, stars and x's, "I hate math," "Klaine," (what is Klaine??) or even "Metallica" carved into it.  But now, many years later, with homeschooling in our past and the kids all grown up and a new, unmarked dining room table in the dining room, I look at those markings and am instantly transported down memory lane.  And it's a good lane to travel down.

a female foxhound
Minnie

3.  Minnie.   Minnie always makes me smile.  Even when she's only hanging out with me because she wants my sandwich.

4.  Flip flops.  Cheap flip flops.  The kind that cost $1 at the grocery store are my favorite.

perfect flip flop weather
Blue Skies

5.  Flip flop weather.

Officially, Maxwell.  Our Great Pyrenees
Max

6.  Max.  He is my constant companion and The biggest pain in the butt but I love him more than life itself.  I even freely admit that he's my favorite.   Just don't tell Minnie.  She might get an attitude and eat my flip flops.

7.  My Passion Planner.  I can't get over how much more I am accomplishing with help from my Passion Planner.  Instead of Passion Planner, it should be called the Miracle Maker. 

8.  Knitting on the porch.  This kind of goes along with flip flop weather except porch knitting is a slightly longer season.

my "emerald" ring from theringlady.com
www.theringlady.com

9.  My new ring from The Ring Lady.  You'll have to remember that I am Not a photographer and take my word that it is much shinier in real life than it looks in the picture.  Emerald is my birthstone and since I outgrew my birthstone ring in late middle school, I have always wanted another.  I finally bought myself one last week at the Southern Women's show.  The stones aren't real, but they look real, and for less than $40, I couldn't be happier.  I've worn it every day since I got it and it doesn't show the first sign of wear and it is not turning me green.  I couldn't be happier.

top employee
theringlady.com

This guy was our salesman.  (Sarah got a ring too, for even less than mine and hers isn't turning her green either.  Yay!)  I can't believe I got a photo of him, but not his name.  Good grief!  He was super nice and extremely helpful without being the least bit pushy.  If The Ring Lady happens to see this, I hope she gives him a raise or a bonus, or at least a pat on the back.  He deserves it!

Magenta modeling a cowl for https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
Magenta

10.  Magenta, Janet and Dr. Frank-N-Furter, my mannequins.  Dr. Frank came to live with us first and got his name because he's a male mannequin but I slapped a dress on him so that he could model my sweaters.  Magenta and Janet arrived later.  It's easy to tell them apart because Janet has a weird discolored spot on her boob.  Every time I'm using her in photographs, I get to say, "Dammit, Janet" and then I laugh and jump to the left.

iTunes on my computer
iTunes

11.  iTunes.  Where would I be without iTunes?  I seriously have no idea how we survived back in the day before iTunes.   I love music and have extremely eclectic tastes that, as you can see, range from Frank Sinatra to Marilyn Manson and beyond.  And while I'm talking about music, let me say a quick RIP to Prince.  The news of his death was just breaking as I began typing this post.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
Office Mates

12.  My office mates.  I just love these guys and smile every time I look up & see them sitting there on the shelf, never complaining about the fact that I tend to sing along to my music.

13.  The Kindle app.  I can't say that I love my actual Kindle so much anymore.  It's old and tired and it takes 48+ hours to charge now days.  But I sure do love the Kindle app.  With the app, I can turn just about anything into a Kindle and read where ever I am.

Hand knit scarf for sale at https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
Seaweed Scarf

14.  Social media and the small world it creates.  Social media is the most amazing thing.  The other day, I was sitting in the mechanic's shop waiting for my car to be inspected.  I was reading and knitting to pass the time....   Another customer came in and we began chatting.  Nothing out of the ordinary, just chatting to pass the time...  At some point, I'd snapped a photo of myself reading and knitting & posted it to Instagram. (I am SO loving having a phone that's smart & not dumb as a box of rocks.)  When I got home, I peeked at my Facebook account & saw a post from the guy I'd been chatting with at the mechanic's place.  It turns out, we're Facebook & Instagram friends but hadn't recognized each other in real life.  What a small world!

15.  My car.  I may not be crazy about the way she looks, but damn if she don't run good.  Two and a half years ago, I broke our 'Chevy's only' rule and bought a Nissan Altima.  She was well used but seemed to be in good shape.  She was also affordable.  I bought her with the cash I'd saved up working a half a season at the local theme park.  Two and a half years later, she passed another inspection without needing any repairs.  I'd say I'm definitely getting my money's worth.

16.  Mini Mochi yarn.  It's just so gloriously soft.  I'm using Citron Mist to knit the scarf (pictured above) but my skeins don't have a color name printed on them & I've been calling it Seaweed.  It's not the prettiest color I've ever seen, but it does remind me of seaweed and seaweed reminds me of the ocean and I love all things ocean related so....  Even though this isn't my all time favorite colorway, I love knitting with the yarn itself and I think the scarf will be quite snugly when it's done.

16.5  I'm sneaking this one in here.  Don't laugh.  I know I rank up there within the world's top poorest spellers.  I had to look up how to spell "snugly" and guess what its definition is -

"Full Definition of snug. snuggersnuggest. 1a of a ship : manifesting seaworthiness : tautb : trim, neatc : fitting closely and comfortably" 

How cool is that.  I had no idea snug also had a nautical meaning.  I'm going to love snugly things even more now.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Come Monday

Have you noticed I seem to have daily theme songs playing in my head?  Today, it's Jimmy Buffett's Come Monday.  I'm not wearing my hush-puppies, but I am singing, "Come Monday, it will be alright..."

And alright, it is.  First and foremost, I feel better.  I've been sort of sick since the middle of last week.  I've had some kind of cold/allergies/lung rot thing.  Up until late yesterday it left me more exhausted from coughing & lack of sleep than actually feeling bad.  By last night, I wasn't feeling so great & by 6 a.m. this morning, I was begging for death.  I took yet another mega-dose of Mucinex, went back to bed and (once again, thanks to Jimmy Buffett & God's Own Drunk) "slept for four hours and dreampt me some tremulous dreams" and woke up feeling much improved despite the weird, vivid dreams.  Thank you Mucinex!

hand knit cowl for sale at https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits

Second, I finished the Make Believe #2 cowl and promptly blocked it, using my new Knitter's Pride blocking pins.

Cowl blocking with Knitters Pride blocking pins. for sale at https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
Make Believe #2 

I'm in love with the blocking pins.  They are a huge time saver!

Third, the Biotin really does seem to be working.  Last Monday, my nails looked like this:

Started using Biotin to help my nails grow.
4/8/16

And this week...

The Biotin seems to be working.  My nails are growning.
4/18/16

Okay, yes, my nails still look horrible, as do my cuticles and the skin around my nails.  But, I only fully broke two nails over the weekend.  I dented up and took a notch or two out of a few others, but only two actually broke/ripped off.  That is a HUGE improvement.  And if I could find a lotion that was gentle enough not to cause allergic irritations but strong enough to combat the frequent hand washing & antibacterial gel bathes I'd be in business.

In celebration, and to continue the Jimmy Buffett theme, I think I'll go grab a Corona & a cheeseburger and exercise my license to chill.





Friday, April 15, 2016

State of the Union

The knitting has been slow going lately.

knitting projects, cowl, scarf, shawl for sale at https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
On the needles 4/15/16

That pesky April 15th tax deadline came between me and my yarn.  I'm proud to announce that my taxes were done and mailed an entire 24+ hours before midnight on the 15th.  That's a record for us.

Unfortunately, next week's State of the Union will probably look almost exactly the same as this weeks.  As soon as my daughter gets home from school, we're heading back out to the Southern Women's Show.  I'm oddly excited.  I've never been before.  I've always intended to go but end up remembering that it's happening about 23 minutes before it ends.  Not this year.  This year, I marked my calendar.  (Thank you Passion Planner for reminding me to schedule fun time as well as work.)  As soon as we get home from the show, I'll rewash my work uniform (because yes, it's still sitting in the washer, gathering mold) and go to bed so I can be fresh as a daisy for a weekend of working at the theme park.

So, maybe I'll see you at the Southern Women's show.  If you can't make it, well, bless your heart.