Sunday, August 6, 2017

National Sister's Day

It's National Sister's Day and I'm shouting out to the best sister a girl could have.

The best sister, helping me move into my first college dorm at Radford University in 1980.

She may be ten years older and growing up, was frequently more like a mom than a sister, but she's the best!  Thanks for always being there for me, Cary.  Thank you for never killing me for playing in your makeup, thank you for allowing me to tag along on a few of your dates, and thank you for introducing me to 'real' music such as the Stones, Three Dog Night and Crosby, Stills & Nash long before my peers were tuning in.  You helped shape my life in ways you'll never know.

The scary part of this holiday is, how is it possible that the most recent photo I have of the two of us together is from the fall of 1980 when I went off to college? And why was I taking all those plants with me?



Friday, August 4, 2017

The things we do for love

So, Sarah announced she wanted me to knit her a blanket.  A big, soft, cuddly blanket.  I was pretty excited because she rarely asks me to knit for her.

knitting a blanket with yellow and orange chevron stripes
Spice Cake Caron Cakes yarn

She happened to go to Michael's with me later that afternoon and latched on to this very orange Caron Cakes yarn.  Luckily it was on the half-priced clearance rack because I'm probably going to burn my retinas which will require a trip to the eye doctor by the time I finish knitting the blanket.

Now, if she'd only choose a pattern.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

It's been how long?

Good grief! I knew it had been a while since I'd taken part in #craftingon Tuesdays at Frontier Dreams or #untangled Wednesdays over at As Kat Knits but....  Good grief!  Apparently, I never participated during the whole month of July!  And here it is, August!  Good grief!

What's even more amazing than how long it's been is my lack of knitting during that length of time.

Simple lace scarf hand knit with Stroll Gradient from Knit Picks
Rocket Ship

 I've barely made any progress on my Rocket Ship scarf, but at least I have made it into the gray section.  That feels like a big step forward.


I made a friend while knitting on the deck. We've had the strangest bugs this summer.  I think it's probably because they cleared the lot next to us & have started building a house.  When they cut the trees down, all the bugs relocated to our yard.

As for reading, I'm almost finished Dangerous Behavior by Nancy Bush.  I'm enjoying it much more than I thought I would.

I only have five more weeks of the summer work schedule to get through then I can get back to my normal life of obsessively reading and knitting.  Although I am suffering from a massive case of fall fever, I haven't begun having the 'Will this season EVER end??" thoughts yet.  Honestly, I'm a little freaked out at how few paychecks there are left to come.  Have you seen the new Hawthorne Tonal yarns from Knit Picks? Let's just say, I was a bad, bad girl.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lost

Did you think I'd gotten lost?

I've been MIA from the blog for a few weeks and I certainly felt lost. My days off are the only time I have for blogging.  On work days, I only have an hour of non-showering awake time so basically all I get done is a quick peek at the most important emails, packaging any Etsy shop orders, and a quick raid of the refrigerator.  So, what have I been doing with my day off time since I last posted?

First day off - spent at the vet's.  Always an adventure.

Second day off - spent at the Ear, Nose & Throat doctor's office.  Yeah, the sinus infection continues.  Except I think it may be beaten into submission this time. The ENT doc decided to give me one more round of even stronger antibiotics & steroids before sending me off to get a CAT scan.  I still have a few more days of meds to take and I haven't had any symptoms in a couple of days so I'm hopeful.

Third day off - spent buying a computer.  Finally!  It killed me to spend the money because my trusty MacBook had served me well for 12 years.  Twelve years!  Other than having to keep it plugged in because the battery no longer worked, there was nothing wrong with it.  Well, nothing but the  outdated operating system.  What worked worked fine, but it was so outdated most sites wouldn't allow me to make online purchases, Twitter had stopped showing me pictures and I was frequently unable to open video links.  It was time to bite the bullet and buy a new laptop.  It happened to be Amazon Prime day and my local Best Buy price matched and gave me a screaming deal on a new  Windows computer.  I know.  Windows.  Something I swore I'd never go back to, but a new Mac just wasn't in the budget.

I spent what little time I had at home over the next week cursing the new computer.  You probably heard me screaming at it all the way over at your house.

Fourth day off - spent back at Best Buy telling them what a piece of $^$#$$^& their computer was.  Turns out, there was actually something wrong with it and it wasn't just computer challenged me trying to convert to Windows after using a Mac for 12 years.  Thankfully Best Buy was great about allowing me to exchange the broken computer and they even gave me another screaming deal on an even better one.  A much fancier one that actually works.  Or at least it will when I figure out how to deal with Windows.

garter stitch shawl knit with 14 shades of Palette from Knit Picks
Ocean Stripes

So, all that to say, I haven't gotten much knitting done over the last few weeks.  It's hard to knit while trying to tug two large, unwilling dogs into the vet's office, or while doctors are poking things up your nose, or while throwing temper tantrums in Best Buy.  But I did manage to add a few rows to my Ocean Stripes shawl while I waited for the broken computer to restart itself over and over and over again.

And hey - look at that!  I found the file that contains my pictures.  That's more than I knew how to do yesterday.  Progress.  Slow, slow progress.  Now, if I could only figure out how to edit the photos once I find them.  Guess I know what I'll be doing on my next day off.



Friday, July 14, 2017

Eleven

Because of my summer work schedule, my knitting is progressing at a snail's pace.  A snail with a broken leg's pace, actually.

I usually participate in As Kat Knits' Unraveled Wednesday link up where everyone talks about what they are reading and creating, but these days, I'm feel pretty proud of myself if I read my email each day.

So, between not knitting and not reading, what am I supposed to talk about here on the blog?  I decided I'd tell you about a few of my all time favorite books that have shaped my life and made me the quirky, timid, scaredy-cat, twisted, neurotic, thrill seeker that I am.





Nancy Drew:  As a child, I owned and read every single Nancy Drew book there was.  Many of 'my' books were actually my older sister's.  They were all hard bound, had yellow covers and in some cases, yellowed pages. Miss Drew taught me to love a good mystery.

The Outsiders and That Was Then, This is Now, by S. E. Hinton began my love affair with bad boys.  As a pre & young teen, I must have read those books 100 times.

Jaws, by Peter Benchley:  As a child, I spent my summers on a large river, not far from the bay. I probably swam with a shark or two without ever knowing it.  As a teen with a day job, I spent many a summer evening water skiing in the dark.  As a young adult, I experienced the thrill of having dolphins surround me and literally push me back to shore while a shark swam just a few yards further out.  It was only natural that Jaws should become a favorite novel and that I should reread it almost every single summer for the next 30+  years.  As a mystery loving, thrill seeking, slightly rebellious gal, there couldn't have been a better book for me to add a little horror into my life.

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights, by John Steinbeck:  I was introduced to this book by a much older friend, Brenda.  I was in the early years of  high school and she was in college and she lent me her copy.  I was hesitant at first, I mean, come on!  Read John Steinbeck, for fun?  His work was on my assigned reading list for goodness sake.  But read it, I did and after only a few pages, I fell in love with Arthurian legend, knights, and men in chain mail & leather in general.  Have I mentioned my 'thing' for bad boys?

Desperation, by Stephen King:  While I'd read Carrie & Salem's Lot, and enjoyed them, Cujo was the first of Stephen King's books that made me go in search for other books written by Mr. King.  Over the years, I've read, and enjoyed (if you can call being terrified enjoyment) just about every single one of his books, but Desperation is the one that stands out in my mind as the most terrifying.  Thanks to Mr. King, I am now gut wrenching, heart-stopping afraid of spiders and you can not convince me that every spider in existence is not a brown recluse.  Thanks to Mr. King, over the years I have become afraid of my mom's washing machine, fruit pie (I always thought it was cherry pie but Wikipedia tells me it was strawberry,) rabid animals, clowns and a whole bunch of other things, but nothing and I mean Nothing terrifies me like spiders.

Maiden Voyage, by Tania Aebi:  This is the story of the youngest female to ever sail around the world alone.  I picked the book up for 25 cents at a yard sale and I have to say, it was the best deal I've ever made.  This is another book that I have re-read a zillion times. I dream of adventures at sea and of simply stepping onto a sailboat and sailing off into the sunset.

The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher:  This book was recommended by a long-ago boss.  Actually, she didn't just recommend the book.  It was more like she forced me to read it.  I thought it sounded incredibly boring but once I gave in, picked up the book and read a few pages, I was hooked.  It turned out to be one of those books where as I read the last sentence on the last page, I instantly wanted to go back to page one and read it again.  This book is another on my 'read every summer' list.

Deep End of the Ocean, by Jacquelyn Mitchard:  This book.  Oh My Gosh!  Although it makes my top 5 favorite books of all time, I had THE hardest time reading it.  It was so emotional, I could only read a page at a time. I only read this book the one time but the horror of the story will be forever burned into my brain.

A Series of Unfortunate Events:  My kids got me interested in this series.  I was a little concerned when they began reading the books.  They were so young and so innocent and the books seemed so dark....  But they were reading (even the boy child was willingly reading!) so....  At some point, the kids checked out the first book on tape and we listened to it in the car.  We spent a lot of time in the car back then and it didn't take me long to fall in love with the series.  The three of us listened to and/or read just about every book in the series and it about broke my heart when the kids wanted to donate their copies to Virginia Homeschooler's book sale.

Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling:  This another one of those books/series where I was so surprised to find that the book(s) actually stood up to all the hype.  And again, the kids introduced me to the series.  The kids read the first several books to themselves but I quickly grew impatient waiting for them to finish their copies so that I could borrow them.  The last two books became re-alouds.  I will never forget trying to get through the final chapters of Deathly Hollows.  I'll never forget, sitting on the sofa in the living room with the kids snuggled up on each side of me, my husband cooking breakfast in the kitchen (not sure why that is such a strong part of the memory but I can still smell the bacon cooking) and me struggling to read through the tears.

The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood:  Mr. King may have given me an odd fear of washing machines & spiders but this book.... Wow.  As a woman who would be lost without her debit card, this book is THE most terrifying thing imaginable.  Orwell's 1984 was a scary look at our possible future, but this, The Handmaid's Tale....  I get chills just thinking about it.

So that's it, my  top eleven favorite books/series of all time.  It's been quite a while since I've enjoyed a book well enough to add it to the list.  If you have an all time favorite you think I should read, please, let me know.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Ocean Stripes

So, I've been calling this one Ocean Stripes.

Garter stitch shawl knit with Palette from Knit Picks
Ocean Stripes

The colors remind me of swimming in the warm waters of the Gulf.

It's a work in progress.  I hope it to be shawl depth but we'll see how the yarn holds out.  I should have plenty.
shawl scarf knit with 14 skeins of Palette from Knit Picks
14 shades of Palette


The shawl is super simple to knit but not very portable.  It's all garter stitch with built-in fringe.  The fringe may get cut off to make way for a knitted border on each end.  We'll see how it goes.

As for the stripes, I ordered 14 colors of Palette from Knit Picks.  I simply used their paper catalog & went down the list of greens.  As for the knitting, I have two buckets and I take a skein out of one bucket, knit a row, cut the yarn & toss it into bucket #2.  When Bucket #1 is empty, I 'stir' the yarns around in bucket #2 and reverse the process.  I try very, very hard to blindly grab a skein each time & to not choose a favorite color or one I think would look good next to the previous.  The idea is for the stripes to be completely random.

Frixion Erasable Highlighters

Meanwhile, my Frixion erasable highlighters finally arrived.  It took almost two months for the highlighters to arrive from Japan.  Waiting for them has been killing me!  About three weeks after ordering them, I discovered that Michaels had started selling them.  I was a good girl though and waited, somewhat patiently, for my overseas order.  I'm glad I waited.  The colors are gorgeous!  Just look at that pastel aqua.  My erasable highlighters coordinate with my knitting!  And they actually erase!!  How cool is that?

Friday, June 30, 2017

Third Shift Lifestyle

You know you've been working third shift hours when morning coffee and sunset cocktails on the deck take place at the same time.

ocean stripes shawl knitting, cocktails and coffee on the deck
coffee & cocktails

At least I was able to get a tiny bit of knitting done.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

No Unraveling Here

It hasn't exactly been a productive week as far as my knitting and reading goes.  As far as anything goes, really.  My summer work schedule is taking a serious bite out of my time/goals/life.

The sinus infection I mentioned a few weeks ago has not helped my 'me' time either.  It turned out to be the mother of all sinus infections.  After the first round of antibiotics were gone, my face was still visibly swollen & the pain that prevented sleep returned.  Back to the doctor I went and back to the pharmacy she sent me.  This time I have more, super strength antibiotics, one of those 'take 10 pills the first day, 9 the next....' steroid packs, and nausea medicine and a double dose of probiotics to help prevent the crazy strong antibiotic related stomach issues.  About all I have time for these days is pill popping.


Simple knit lace scarf hand knit with Knit Picks Stroll Gradient in the Rocket Ship color way.
Rocket Ship Scarf

I have managed to get a tiny bit of knitting done on my Rocket Ship scarf.  The stitch pattern couldn't be easier.  I simply cast on a few garter stitch edge stitches then *yo, P2tog, knit 5* across until two stitches remain then yo, P2tog and garter more edge stitches.  Then repeat for every row.  So simple!

As for my reading, I can't believe it, but I am STILL reading Only the Truth by Adam Croft.  My Kindle tells me I'm 98% complete so if I get a break at work tonight, I should finally finish it.

Join me over at Kat's Unraveled Wednesday post to see what other creatives are crafting and reading.


Friday, June 23, 2017

Thank you, Mr. UPS Dude

So, I realize I sound like a walking & talking advertisement for Knit Picks these days but....  I just can't help myself.  Their 40% off summer sale has taken over my life.

I need my own UPS hub

UPS is considering building me my own hub...

UPS delivering yarn.  Truck full of yarn

And my delivery dude is starting to fear me.  I can only imagine what he thinks when I try to hug him then snatch the box out of his arms & immediately start tearing into it while babbling about yarn fumes.

giant box of sale yarn from Knit Picks
yarn haul

But, hey - can you blame me?

Maybe I should knit him an apology gift.  Would that be weird?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Rocket Ship

I'm not normally a big fan of yellow.

Gradient fingering weight wool yarn from Knit Picks
Rocket Ship, Stroll Gradient

But this Rocket Ship colorway called to me.  I haven't decided what to knit with it, but I do know it's what I'll be knitting with next.

If you haven't knit with any of Knit Pick's Sttroll Gradients yet, now is a great time to try out the yarn.  Many of the colorways are currently 40% off.  I've thoroughly enjoyed knitting my Hasselhoff scarf with it.  The yarn feels great in my hand, knits up into a soft & squishy fabric, the color changes just about the time I start to get bored, and there were zero tangles or knots in either of the two skeins I used.

And now I'm off to choose a pattern, finish reading Only the Truth and figure out how to justify spending the grocery money on 40% off yarn to my family.  I'm sure they'll understand.

Join me over at Kat's Unraveled Wedenesday meet-up to see what others are crafting and reading.


Friday, June 16, 2017

Shameless

So, here's a shameless affiliate link post.

Have you seen Knit Pick's summer yarn sale?  Actually, it's not just yarn.  They have books 40% off also.  But they yarn sale...   Good grief!  I should just have my paycheck directly deposited into Knit Pick's bank account.

Honestly, I'm a little worried about my order.  UPS is going to have to deliver it in one of those oversized, double trailered trucks.  I hope my driveway is wide enough.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What a week!

What a week it's been!  Actually, it's been closer to two weeks.  And while I hate to complain.....  Oh who am I kidding?  I've been throwing myself a huge, giant pity party, complete with balloons, streamers and even a DJ!  In other words, I've been a mess.

So, almost two weeks ago, I woke up in the middle of the night with this massive, weird head/face pain.  I quickly realized that if I lay on my back with my face pointing straight at the ceiling, everything was fine.  But if I tilted my head to either side...  OUCH!  I stuffed the pillows around my head so I couldn't move & went back to sleep.  When I woke up in the morning, everything was fine.  But later that afternoon/evening, I thought I might be getting a toothache.  The toothache got worse over the next few days and so did the headache.  But the headache was sort of an earache so I figured it was really part of the toothache.  We don't have dental insurance so I was going to wait until payday to go to the dentist.  But the toothache and the headache continued to get worse, the inside of my mouth began to swell, the two ibuprofen every four hours became every two hours, then became three every two hours, the Orajel stopped working and I actually bruised my face in a couple of places from pushing back against the pressure.  It was time to admit defeat and go to the doctor.

Turns out, I had both a sinus and an "oral" infection that was in my gums and cheek.  The doctor gave me a sack full of drugs and I'm beginning to feel much better.  Thank goodness!

http://shrsl.com/?hit9  Lifeguard and Sea You Later colorways
Scarf knit with Knit Picks Stroll Gradient

Throughout my giant pity party, I continued to go to work so I haven't had a 'sick day' to spend knitting, but I have managed to make a little progress on my Hasselhoff scarf.  I'm at the point where I could finish it if I had a full day to spend knitting.  In other words, I hope to have it finished by the end of June.

And since it's Wednesday, I need to talk about what I'm reading.  (Join me over on Kat's blog for this week's book discussion.)  I've sort of given up on Pressure Drop (there were too many different story lines going on at the same time & I just couldn't keep up) and have begun Only the Truth by Adam Croft.  It's a hard book to put down.  Almost from the moment the crime takes place, the murder's identity is obvious to the reader which makes me think it's probably not so obvious at all.  I can't wait to find out what really happened.

Meanwhile, it's time to go take another pill.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Another load of joy

It's Wednesday which means I'm joining up with other creatives over on Kat's Unraveled post to discuss what we're making and reading.  Sadly, I haven't been spending much time reading lately.  I'm still working my way through Pressure Drop.

Instead of reading during my spare time yesterday, I watched Maximum Overdrive, one of my all-time favorite movies.  Have you seen it?  It terrifies my daughter but my husband and I, with our twisted senses of humor, find it hilarious.  And highly quotable.  Rarely a day goes by that we don't include a quote from the movie in our daily lives.

Maximum Overdrive, written & directed by Stephen King. Best movie ever!
Another load of joy

And while I watched and giggled and quoted the lines along with the cast, I knit a few rounds on my scrap pi shawl.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Glow Stick

I look like a giant glow stick.  A bright red glow stick.

Boat drinks in my Yeti knockoff cup on the beach.
#summerfun

I spent the day on the beach, drinking ice cold boat drinks and I got a little sun in the process.  If I was to go outside and look up at the night sky, the folks on the International Space Station could see the glow coming off my face. 

I was pretty happy about my Yeti knockoff's performance.  It far surpassed my sunblock's performance!  I filled the cup with ice almost 12 hours ago, sat out in the blazing sun with it for most of the day, and tonight, 12 hours later, it still has ice.  Granted, the cubes are much smaller now, but they are still frozen!  I'm so glad my son gave me this insulated tumbler for Christmas. I use it all the time to take hot coffee to work but this was the first time I've used it to keep a drink cold in the sun.  Thanks, Zack!

a beautiful day at the lake's beach.
Lake Caroline

And because work has taken over my life and I spent my one day off on the beach instead of knitting....  I have no knitted things to show you.  Maybe next week....



Monday, May 29, 2017

Happy Memorial Day!

I'm at work today but I'm wishing all my US friends a very happy Memorial Day!

I'd also like to take a moment to thank all of you for the encouragement & positive words about my newest Pi shawl knit out of scrap sock yarn.  I hope you are all right and that it will tone itself down as it gets bigger.  Time will tell.

Meanwhile,

Happy Memorial Day!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Erasable!

Oh! My! Gosh!  I am SO excited!

erasable pens, erasable markers and erasable highlighters http://amzn.to/2qln26u
Pilot Frixion

My new favorite toy was hiding in Wednesday's post.  My new Pilot FriXion Erasable pen.  Oh! My! Gosh!  It actually erases!

First,

Pilot Frixion pen writes smoothly and erases cleanly
smooth ink flow

 then,

Pilot Frixion erasable pen http://amzn.to/2qln26u
erases cleanly

The ink is actually erased!  Not smudged, not rubbed into the paper until the paper disappears, but actually erased!  Pilot's Frixion line even has markers and .... get ready for it.... highlighters!  Erasable highlighters!  YES!  My world is complete.

And the excitement doesn't end there.  For the ex-homeschooling science experiment loving geek in me, the pens are a science experiment waiting to happen.  According to the packaging, if the pen is stored in temperatures above 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the ink will turn clear.  In order to return it to its proper color, you must put it in a freezer & let the pen reach 14 degrees.  I can not wait to play with that fun fact!

Meanwhile, in between purposely making mistakes in my writing just so I can erase it, I've been working on my Hasselhoff shawl.

striped scarf knit with 2 colors of Knit Picks Stroll Gradient
Hasselhoff scarf

Not sure you can tell from that photo, but I've begun the third shade of blue & red.  I'm SO pleased with the way the two gradients are working together.  Almost as please as I am about my new erasable pens.

I'm absolutely giddy about my pens.  Sarah even got excited over them and stole the black one as soon as I showed it to her.  And now I anxiously await another Amazon package containing the markers, highlighters and another black pen.  Once it's existence is known, a girl just can't live without a black erasable pen!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Off my rocker

I'm questioning my sanity.  I started a new Pi shawl....

circular lace shawl knit for https://www.etsy.com/shop/jeanniegrayknits
Scrap Sock Yarn Pi Shawl

.... using scrap sock  yarn.  Am I completely off my rocker?  It's either going to be the most hideous thing ever knit or it's going to be a gorgeous thing to behold.  At the moment, it's at the Really, Really Hideous stage that scrap yarn projects tend to experience in their early stages.  We'll have to wait & see how it turns out.  Whatever happens, I'm determined to use up a good chunk of my scrap yarn collection.  I need to make more room for the 'real' yarn stash.

While I knit around and around and around, I'm also reading Pressure Drop by Peter Abrahams.  Although I'm a little confused about the story line, I am enjoying the book.  I think my confusion is mostly due to reading myself to sleep after 14 hour shifts but.....  The story alternates between a deep sea diving accident (was it an accident??) and woman who decides to have artificial insemination using an anonymous sperm donor.  The baby gets kidnapped immediately after being born and I get the impression that the anonymous sperm donor may have something to do with both the kidnapping and the diving accident.  Another reason I'm a little confused about the story line is that I'm having trouble putting it down.  I tend to read until  I fall asleep still holding my Kindle. I keep waking up hours later, laying on the Kindle, unable to remember what happened over the last few pages.  Honestly, I'm pretty surprised I haven't rolled over on it & cracked the screen yet.

So, what are you reading? Knitting? Crafting?  Join me over at Kat's Unraveled Wedenesday post.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Hasselhoff

Remember this striped scarf/shawl?  I've made lots of progress.

striped triangular shawl knit with Knit Picks Stroll Gradient, Lifeguard
Hasselhoff

First, I've knit far enough that I can now see the first gradient change in the yarn.  That change was a long time coming!

Second, it will be a shawl, not a scarf.  A very, very long, triangular shawl with the wide part at one end and the point at the other.

And third, it has a name.  Hasselhoff.  The orange yarn is called Lifeguard and the entire time I've been knitting with it, I've been picturing David Hasselhoff running along the beach.




Thursday, May 18, 2017

SOS

I'm feeling a bit like I'm on a sinking ship these days.

a hand knit, beaded lace shawl
Annis Shawl

I finished my Annis shawl last night . Do you notice anything odd about it?  Anything odd other than it's loose ends still hanging from it?

Annis shawl knit with Stroll Tonal from Knit Picks
That'll block right out.

It's a little on the small side.  Obviously I didn't knit to the proper gauge.  Honestly, I never checked my gauge.  It's a shawl.  It doesn't have to fit.  Besides, the pattern called for lace weight yarn and I used fingering and a needle appropriately slightly too large for the yarn.   Big, massive mistake apparently.


beaded shawl knit with Knit Picks stroll tonal in Train Station colorway
Train Station

I thought about frogging it and starting over but.... I love the dark, smokiness of the knitted fabric and I really, really don't want to deal with all those beads coming loose so....  I'm thinking I might sew the ends together and call it a decorative cowl.  But then.... maybe, just maybe the magic of blocking will stretch that baby out.

And then there's the grapes.

Grape vines have smothered the garden gate.

Do you notice what's behind the grapes?  Yep, our garden gate.  Dammit!  Someone forgot to trim the grape vines back this spring.

A collection of lace weight yarn from Knit Picks
Shipwreck

And last but not least, Shipwreck.  Shipwreck is a collection of Gloss Lace from Knit Picks that I bought as a birthday present to myself.  Between my love of all things nautical and my tendency to sink any boat I board, I thought it was an appropriate gift.  Now, if I could just decide what to knit with it.  Suggestions are welcome.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Cybernetic Spiders

Because my life is not strange enough, we now have a cybernetic spider living in our house.

So, yesterday afternoon, Sarah asks me if I've seen the weird spider in the office.  It has creepy blue eyes, she says.

Well, Sarah does NOT like bugs & goes into a full on panic attack if she sees even a tiny gnat.  There's no way she got close enough to a spider to see it's eyes.  I had to take a look for myself.

black spider with bright blue eyes.  Bright, bright blue eyes.
North American Jumping Spider

Sure enough!  Our spider has bright, fluorescent blue eyes.  I mean, they are seriously, bright, bright BLUE.  His eyes are so blue, you can see them from three or four feet away even though the whole spider is a little smaller than a quarter.  They are SO much bluer than that photo'd spider's. They are seriously creepy and there's no way they are natural.  He has to be some kind of cyborg spider.  Those eyes just can not be natural.  No way. No freaking way.

So now I'm left wondering, has he escaped from some kind of governmental lab?  DC is only 60 miles away.  Or maybe the government placed him here to spy on us.  Or worse, my husband is using him to track my yarn purchases.

And if cybernetic spiders aren't freaky enough.....

knitting an Annis shawl with Knit Picks Stroll Tonal and using beads instead of nupps
Beaded Annis Shawl

I was sitting out on the deck this afternoon, knitting in the bright, blinding sun when all of a sudden.... Max, our dog, comes strolling out of the house carrying a package of Pop Tarts.  He casually walked right past me, over to the steps, down the stairs & out to the shade of the tree where he began removing the Pop Tarts from their wrapper.

What kind of household am I living in??

Friday, May 5, 2017

Train Station

I couldn't stand it any longer.  I had to take a break from knitting mitered squares.  Actually, I just needed a project where I could see that I was making progress.  My slow progress on the mitered square blanket was starting to feel discouraging and no matter how much I knit on my To the Beach scarf, it never seemed to grow.  The solution?  Cast on something else of course.

An Annis shawl knit with Knit Picks Stroll Tonal yarn.  A knitted beaded, lace shawl.
Train Station

It's an Annis shawl knit with accidentally purchased Stroll Tonal fingering yarn.  A while back, using my tiny screened phone to place a Knit Picks order, I accidently clicked on Train Station instead of Raven.  I was in the mood to knit something beaded and purple. Raven is purply and I have beads that I think would coordinate perfectly, so I quickly placed my order.  Except I didn't.  I ordered Train Station.  But, as luck would have it, it turns out, I already had some pewter beads that look good with Train Station's smoky blackness.  Yay for having a bead stash!


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Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Mitered Squares

Goodness gracious! I still haven't caught up from working Spring Break week and I have the feeling the summer isn't going to help any.  I'm ridiculously behind in every aspect of my life and I can't seem to catch up.  Okay, mainly, I can't catch up because I'm spending all my spare time watching YouTube music videos and playing computer solitaire.  Yikes.

mitered square blanket knit with scrap sock yarn for https://www.etsy.com/shop/JeannieGrayKnits?ref=hdr_shop_menu
Mitered Squares

Somewhere inbetween music videos & rounds of solitaire, I've knit a few more mitered squares.  My stats are currently 276 knit, 108 still to go for a total of 384 squares.  I'm not even going to think about the tangled mass of ends I will need to weave in when I'm done. I'm channeling my inner Scarlet on that one and will think about weaving in the ends on another day.

I've also been reading The 10X Rule by Grant Cardone.  The book hasn't exactly taught me anything I didn't already know but it has been a good reminder that if I want to succeed, I need to put out more effort.  Admittedly, I'm sure I'd benefit much more from the book if I wasn't still suffering from spring break burn out.

Join me over at askatknits.com to see what others are reading while they knit.


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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

On the needles

Wow! And I thought last week's knitting update was boring.  I have definitely moved into summer/work knitting & blogging mode.

OTN.  What am I knitting?  Knitting a scarf, knitting a shawl and knitting a blanket. Knitting while watching GirlBoss
On the needles 04/25/17

Nothing has changed. Nothing.  I'm still knitting on my Just Knit It shawl, as seen in the forefront.  Off to the left, you can see that I'm still knitting mitered squares and way back there, shoved behind the computer is the striped, as yet to be determined, shawl or scarf.

The only thing that's different is my Netflix view.  I finished binge watching Shetland & have started on GirlBoss.  Are you watching it?  Sophia, the main character is a nightmare.  As far as I can tell, she's a self-absorbed, bratty, little shoplifter who starts an online business.  If I didn't have my own Etsy shop, I doubt I'd find the show the least bit interesting but....  I have to admit, despite how I feel about her constant shoplifting, I'm entertained by Sophia's handling of difficult customer service issues and how she deals with the pull of business vs. family & friends time/relationships.  Maybe I'll even learn something from the show.  Time will tell.

Join me & other knitters over at Unraveled Wednesday.

Friday, April 21, 2017

To the beach... or UVA

We've been experiencing unseasonably sunny days and warm temperatures lately.  Normally, April is a month of rain showers with the temperature spiking crazily up and down, but this April has been sunny and the temperature has frequently been hitting the upper 80's.  It's making me crave the beach.  In fact, I'd sell my own children to be at the beach right now.  Luckily for my kiddos, Knit Picks is making it easier for me to at least pretend I'm at the beach.

gradient sock yarn being knit into a triangular shawl.
Knit Picks Stroll Gradient yarn.

Last week, while I was working those crazy hours, a box from Knit Picks showed up on my doorstep and guess what was inside - two skeins of Stroll Gradient.  What does yarn have to do with pretending to be at the beach?  The colorways are Sea You Later and Lifeguard.  Unless they have colorways named Sunburn and Shark (which they don't,) it doesn't get much beachier than that!

I'm knitting a.... well, I'm not even sure what I'm knitting.  The finished piece will be some form of shawl or scarf in a triangular shape. The original plan was to knit a long triangle shape until I'd used up half the yarn then start decreasing.  But I may never do the decreasing.  Instead of making a looong, shallow triangular shawl with the point in the center, I may just make it an even longer triangle with one narrow end and one wide end.  It's a work in progress.

While the design may be a work in progress, knitting with Stroll Gradient is definitely not work!  I've knit with other forms of Knit Pick's Stroll before.  Knit Picks offers practically a full catalog's worth of varieties of Stroll.  There's regular, flat colored sock yarn, there's Tonal, Hand Painted, Glimmer, Tweed and probably a few others I'm forgetting.  But for reasons unknown to me, Stroll Gradient is the softest.  It has the same fiber content as the other yarns so maybe I'm just imagining it being softer.  Maybe it's the beachy themed colors I chose.  Maybe it's that the yarn came in ready-to-knit cakes and I didn't have to pause to wind the skeins.  Whatever the cause, I swear, this yarn is softer than the others and I am having SO much fun knitting with it, even if it looks like I'm knitting a UVA scarf instead of a beach themed masterpiece.



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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Happy Belated Easter

Happy belated Easter!

Evil Easter Bunny plant
Is that not the most horrifying Easter decoration you've ever seen?  Well, maybe not THE most, but it definitely ranks up there.

Whether you pray to the church or Cadbury, I hope your Easter was enjoyable.  Mine was.... wonderful and as terrifying as that bunny plant.  Easter Sunday marked the end of working ten straight days of 10 to 14 hour shifts.  After not working all winter, the week was an interesting experiment in sleep deprivation & burn out.  By Friday I was struggling to do the simplest tasks, things like counting to ten and remembering to take the top off the pen before I tried to write and yet, I could still do the complicated things without much trouble. By Saturday, I was starting to turn mean and by Easter Sunday, I was oddly okay.  Although I was working on only about four hours sleep, I was much more energized and I felt like I was thinking much clearer.  Pretty amazing what a handful of jellybeans can do for your attitude!

Working that many hours, absolutely no knitting got done all week. Even my Knit Picks order sat unopened on my desk for four days before I had a chance to open it.  I can't wait to show you what it contained.  It's rainy and gross and dark and dreary in the house today but hopefully the sun will shine once again tomorrow and I can get some decent photos.  I bought a bunch of Stroll Gradient and it definitely deserves sunshine.

And now, I'm going to go catch up on my knitting.  Catch up on my knitting and binge watch Shetland on Netflix.  Have you seen Shetland?  If not, you must!  It's a crime/detective show that takes place in the Shetland Islands.  I have to admit, I end up paying more attention to the knitting than I do the storylines but.... the scenery is perfect to knit to!



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Monday, April 17, 2017

Makers' Monday - Gifts for Mom

Welcome to Makers' Monday, a celebration of knitting designers, artists & creatives.

The plan was for this post to be about handmade giftables for moms who knit.  Hand lotions, cute stitch markers, project bags, knitting jewelry, notepads with sheep on them.... things like that.  That was the plan.  But the first thing I searched for was handmade soaps on Etsy and well, we now have an entire blog post on handmade soap.  Soaps that any knitting mom should love.

decorative soaps from Tularoo Soaps for Mothers Day.  Mother's Day gift ideas
Knitted Soap from Tularoo Soaps

What knitter wouldn't want these adorable knitted soaps from Tularoo Soaps?  The shop offers these mini bars in sets of various sizes as well as full sized bars.  And even if you're some kind of knitting weirdo who doesn't want knitted soap, you should still take a look at the shop.  The artistry of their soaps is amazing and they offer great customer service.

Another shop with fantastic customer service is Sweet Sheep Body Shop.

Sheep Shaped Soap from Sweet Sheep Body Shop

I've purchased solid lotions from the Sweet Sheep Body Shop numerous times and have loved every single scent I've received.  The lotion absorbs into my skin quickly and leaves just a tiny hint of scent on my hands.  I don't know how they do it but my hands will smell slightly like the lotion but the scent is never transfered on to my cookies. (I really hate it when lotion makes my cookies taste funny.)  Until I started researching items for this post, I didn't even realize the shop sold soap.  Look!  It's sheep soap!  Sheep shaped soap made from goats milk.  Every knitter should have some sheep shaped soap!

But what if Mom is some kind of weird non-knitting soap lover?

gifts for Mother's Day
Vanilla-Coconut Soap from Rustic Edge Soaps

How about this vanilla-coconut goatsmilk soap from Rustic Edge Soaps?  I'm not typically very girly so I'm fascinated with the color of this soap, plus I love the idea of the vanilla and coconut scent. I'm also in love with the shop's header.  It's goats.  Y'all know how much I love goats.

hand made luxury cocoa butter & goatsmilk soap for Mother's Day
Luxury Soap from Crickett Soaps

Or, how about this soap from Crickett Soaps.  This soap is made with shea and cocoa butter and the swirls of color remind me of a hand painted yarn flat.  Knitters gotta love soap that looks like a yarn flat!

gift ideas for Mom; handmade soap with holistic healing properties
Rose and Clay soap from Sage Sweetgrass Soaps

Or how about this moisturizing rose and clay soap that promises to help with shaving issues from Sage Sweetgrass Soaps.  Not only is this soap moisturizing and helps fight those pesky shaving bumps, but it also offers holistic healing properties.

spa bath gift set; great Mother's Day gift idea
Spa Gift Set from Little Flower Soap Co.

Or how about this gift set from Little Flower Soap Co. that contains soap, lip balm and a mini bath salt?  I like how the Little Flower Soap Co. has their listing set up so that you can choose both the soap's scent and the lip balm's flavor.

choose your own scent soap, lotion & body polish gift set for Mom
Lotion Spa Set from Wild Botanicals

How could you resist an almond scented lotion gift set?  Don't like almond? That's okay because you get to choose the scent of both the lotion and soap included in this spa set from Wild Botanicals.  The set contains soap, lotion and a whipped body polish.

healing balm for dry skin, chapped lips, minor cuts & burns and eczema
Organic Healing Salve from LBApothecary

And look - something besides soap!  Last but not least, I know I could use this organic healing salve from LBApothecary.  This healing balm protects against dry skin and chapped lips and helps heal minor cuts, burns and sores as well as eczema.  I would love to receive a tin of this healing salve for Mother's Day.  This salve would be a tremendous help to me at work since the air is so dry, constantly handling money sucks the moisture out of my hands (not to mention the frequent hand washing,) and I constantly give myself paper cuts.  Someone, please forward this post to my kids!

Friday, April 14, 2017

World's Most Boring Blog Post

This blog post may truly qualify for the world's most boring post.  Most boring ever.

I've been working a lot of hours this week and haven't been able to get much knitting in, nor photos taken.  My mitered square blanket stats are currently:

Total squares needed:  384

Total squares knit:  240

Total squares remaining:  144

The weird thing about it is, even while I'm bitching and moaning about how long it's taking me to complete this blanket and how badly I want it to be finished, all I can think about is knitting another one using Knit Pick's new Stroll Gradient.  I'm also slightly obsessed with the idea of buying all the blues and knitting another Find Your Fade, but that's an idea for another day.

And for a bit of color...

Eiffel tower in spring; eiffel tower surrounded by tulips and spring flowers.
Paris in the spring, courtesy of rareinterloart.co.uk

Okay, so that's not my actual view walking into work each day, but it's close.



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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Top 5 Reasons To Go Yarn Shopping

Top 5 Reasons to Yarn Shop:


1.  The sun is shining.

2.  Your spouse is going out of town and will be blissfully unaware that UPS will be leaving eight crates of yarn on your porch.

3.  Your oldest child is turns six and you realize that in the blink of an eye, they'll be grown up and having their own babies.  You suddenly feel the need to stock up on baby yarns.

4.  A new yarn catalog arrives in your mailbox.

5.  It's a Wednesday.



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Monday, April 10, 2017

Makers' Monday - Shawls for Mom

Welcome to Makers' Monday, a celebration of knitting designers, artists & creatives.

It's hard to believe but Mother's Day is only about four weeks away.  Do you knit for Mom?  I never knit a shawl for my mom but I wish I had.  I think she would have liked to receive, and would happily have worn, any of the following.  Perhaps in honor of Mother's Day & remembrance of my own mom, I should knit myself a shawl.  (Or maybe even six!)

knitted shawl, garter stitch, stockinette; beginner knitting scarf
Magic Spring Shawl courtesy of Katerina Bobkova

I will definitely knit myself this Magic Spring Shawl sometime soon.  It reminds me of a smaller & simpler version of a Find Your Fade and I think we all know by now how much I loved knitting that.  The Magic Spring Shawl is a free (gotta love that!) Ravelry pattern designed by Katerina Bobkova of Cathy-Cathy Designs.

Or perhaps you'd like a hint of lace.

easy beginner lace shawl designed by Leah Michelle Designs
Simple Spring Shawl courtesy of Michelle Krause

The Simple Spring Shawl has just a tiny bit of lace to break up the garter stitch monotony.  Designed by Michelle Krause of Leah Michelle Designs, this would be a great beginner's lace project or movie knitting for more advanced knitters.  The lace appears to be fairly simple & easily memorized.  You won't have to play yarn chicken when knitting the Simple Spring Shawl.  Just weigh your yarn before you start, then knit until you've used up half, then begin the decreases.  Simple!

Woodland Spring Shawl
courtesy of Christina Wall

Or how about knitting a Woodland Spring Shawl?  Designed by Christina Wall of A Knitter's Life, this triangular shawl appears to be about half garter stitch and half lace.  I really like knitting this style of shawl.  You start off with simple garter and you can make lots of progress quickly.  About the time you start to think you'll go mad from garter stitch, the lace begins and holds your attention to the very end.

crescent shaped shawl with an all over lace pattern; knitting, hand knit
Primula Spring Shawl courtesy of Linda Choo

Or how about this beauty designed by Linda Choo for Garden Canadensis?  The Primula Spring Shawl is crescent shaped with an all-over lace pattern.  The size of this shawl can easily be adjusted by knitting more border repeats.  And while we're talking about the border, those pesky border nupps can easily be replaced with beads.  (Y'all know how I feel about knitting nupps!)

hand knit lace shaw for spring and summer.  Lace stole
Spring Flowers & Butterflies Shawl,
courtesy of Katherine Bryant

This one has the dreaded nupps too but once again, they could easily be replaced with beads.  And we'll forgive Spring Flowers & Butterflies Shawl for those nupps because look what else it has - Lilies of the Valley!   I LOVE Lilies of the Valley.  They happen to be my birth month flower plus they remind me of my mom.  She had acres of them growing in the yard. (Okay, "acres" is a slight exageration, but she had a lot.)  The house always smelled of Lilly of the Valley in the spring.  Even more exciting than the Lilies of the Valley, Katherine Bryant, the designer, is offering the pattern for free on Ravelry!  And, Ms. Bryant is kind enough to tell us in advance how many beads we'll be needing.  This pattern is definitely going near the top of my Ravelry que.

And last but not least, I wanted to mention the Sundae Summer shawl.  I wasn't able to obtain permission to use a photo but I thought it was worth mentioning.  It's a free Ravelry pattern, it appears to be extremely simple and quick to knit and you could make the pattern your own by changing up the weight and/or fiber content of the yarn.  The pattern is so simple, with the right yarn, you could probably wait until Saturday afternoon to start knitting and still have it finished by Mother's Day morning.

Will you be knitting for Mother's Day?  Feel free to share pattern suggestions in the Comments below.