Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Off the needles

 Okay, the title should be Off the Needles a Looong time ago.

I finished this shawl, knit with yarn from Organized Chaos Yarns, back in April and I am just now getting around to photographing it.

The yarn, Colorstravaganza, is fingering superwash and I love, love, love it!  I think it looks like faded denim and I want a whole sweater knit from it.  I absolutely love the faded denim look with little blips of color.  

My daughter says it doesn't look like denim but I think it does.  My faded out jeans even usually have the blips of color on them from dropped markers, paint and/or nail polish.  So yes, my jeans and my shawl will match this winter.  I can't wait!

And because I'm excited about my new roommates...

Meet Pumpkin, the platy fish.  Her little black nose reminds me of a puppy's.

And Spot, the nerite snail.  I love his spots.  They look like they've been drawn on with a Sharpie.

Spot has his work cut out for him.  Captain Morgan, my old nerite, died and the tank got overrun with algae.  Again. Argh!

Hopefully Spot is hungry and has an appetite close to Captain Morgan's.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Sunday Supper - Cleo's Potato Salad

The description for this potato salad recipe says it's perfect for summer barbeques.  My husband loves potato salad so I just might be able to entice him into throwing us (i.e. doing all the cooking) an outdoor, summer barbeque this evening.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Fable Fur

 I really should be medicated, if not institutionalized.

It's July in Virginia and I've just knit a stack of Fable Fur cowls that measures almost twelve inches high!

And now I'm knitting matching Fable Fur headbands.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Fable Fur from Knit Picks is a delight to work with.  It's incredibly soft and it doesn't shed like mohair.  But it's furry.  And it's July in Virginia which means it's hot and humid HOT and HUMID outside.  It's even hot and humid inside because the a/c just can't keep up with the 10,000% humidity.  The Brazillion rainforest has nothing on a Virginia summer!

If you are interested in finding out more about Fable Fur, visit Knit Picks' website. They have some more beautiful colors that aren't pictured above and I notice they have another sale going on.  

Something else I'm excited to discover about Knit Picks is that they seem to have changed their shipping procedures recently.  For years and years, it seemed my orders always went out on either a Monday or a Friday and arrived on my doorstep about five days later.  Then a year or so ago, it started taking a lifetime to receive my orders.  Sometimes it would take as long as three weeks and frequently, the packaging would be damaged.  Like, smashed with holes in the boxes, damaged.  I stopped purchasing from them as often.  But thankfully, my last few orders have arrived much quicker and in excellent shape.  In fact, my last order was faster than an Amazon order!  I ordered it on a Thursday night, it shipped the next day and was at my post office on Saturday! It would have been on my doorstep on Saturday but our Saturday mailman is a little lazy.  He won't get out of the car to put the package on the porch so he takes it back to the post office and you have to go pick it up.

Okay, advertising aside, Fable Fur really is awesome to work with.  It knits up quickly, only takes one skein to knit a cowl and I can get two, maybe three headbands out of one skien.  I haven't actually tried that third headband yet.  I'm knitting all these cowls and headbands for my Etsy shop and for the craft vendor booth at Winterfest.  I'm so focused on building up my inventory, I haven't wanted to waste time attempting a third headband.  The only thing worse than knitting with faux fur in July in Virginia is running out of yarn and having to frog faux fur in July in Virginia.

And yes, I could dig out my yarn scale and figure out if there's enough for that third headband but that would involve going into my unairconditioned storage area.  And that's probably not going to happen!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Knitting with birds

So, last summer, there was a carpenter bee (I have always called them bumble bees and have just recently found out they are two separate beings) that would come say hello to me every day when I was sitting on the deck.  We got so used to each other that he would land on me and crawl around and I was mostly okay with it.  He even took a nap in my knitting bag a few times.  

This summer, I don't have a bee friend.  Instead, I have goldfinch and hummingbird friends.

Yeah, he's very pixilated.  Sorry.  We are friends, but it's a new friendship.  He comes to see me each morning but he doesn't trust me enough yet to allow me to get a decent photo.

I can't even begin to get a photo of the hummingbird.  Every afternoon he flys up about two feet from my face, hovers just long enough for me to realize what's happening, and then he's gone again.  

I am really going to miss the wildlife here at this house when we move.  And no, we don't know so when that will be but it will be soon.  Well, soon-ish.  We are feverishly working to clear out all the junk from the house and fixing the things that need to be fixed so we can put it on the market.  And once that happens, our search to find a house to buy will turn into panic mode house hunting.  I can't say I'm looking forward to the experience. 

Thankfully, I have my knitting to keep my mind occupied.

And boy do I have knitting!  I finished the granny square baby blanket.  It's being modeled on the new deck railing.  I finished the blanket much sooner than expected.  I sort of went into knitting panic mode because...

I thought I'd mentioned that I was going to be a craft vendor at Winterfest this year but I don't see a post about it so I'm not sure if I never wrote it or if I deleted it some how or if it's there and I'm just blind.  Who knows.  Who cares.  The point is, I'm going to be a craft vendor at Winterfest this year.  I am excited and I am in TOTAL panic mode.  I've never participated in such a big event before and I'm slightly terrified.  But also very excited.  And very, very busy knitting for it.

Currently, I'm focused on knitting faux fur cowls and headbands.  I should have chosen something else to focus on during the summer months but I already had most of the yarn I needed and the projects knit up fast.  I wanted to quickly feel like I was making progress.  ...So, I'm slogging through knitting with faux fur in July and August.

I'll be sharing the Winterfest booth with several other artists and to get some practice working together, we participated in Ashland, Va's 4th Friday celebration last week.  Even though we didn't sign up in time to be advertised, we still had a decent amount of foot traffic and sales.  

In fact, 4th Friday was so much fun, we've decided to participate each month leading up to Winterfest.  If you are local, come check us out.  We have a nice, varied selection of items for sale because we have a jeweler, a seamstress, a paper artist, an all round crafter and my knitting.  There's something for everyone and it's never too early to start your holiday shopping!

Meanwhile, I have a few thousand items I need to go knit. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Sunday Supper - Dry Rub for Chicken

Have you noticed a theme with these Sunday Supper recipes?  They are all about getting my husband to do the cooking. ๐Ÿ˜

Today's recipe is an easily modified dry rub for chicken from Simply Recipes.  Hopefully, chicken cooked on the grill by the man of the house.


Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Thank you, Dominion Power

Although I didn't get to have ice cream on National Ice Cream Day, it was an exciting weekend.

Late Saturday afternoon a line of thunderstorms blew through.

They were a bit stronger than expected and a dead tree covered in kudzo on the railroad's property fell.  On it's way down, it hit the electric pole, knocked it out of alighnment, knocked the transformer completely off the pole and brought down a bunch of wires into our yard and on Sarah's car.

At some point during the night, the power company came out and pulled the wires off Sarah's car, set the transformer up instead of leaving it leaning against her car and put caution tape around it all.

In the morning, we went out to inspect the damage to Sarah's car.  The tree had missed it by less than two feet and all that was on it was a few kudzo leaves.  Her license plate looks damaged but it's not. That's just how my computer blurrs things out.

Rather than falling on her car, the transformer had fallen straight down then tipped over and had been leaning against her tire.  Her tire, not even the hubcap!  The wires that had fallen across her hood hadn't done any damage either.  Her car didn't have a single scratch or ding on it!

And then we waited.  And waited and waited.  Thank goodness for generators!  Finally around 3:30 in the afternoon, just as I started to complain about how long it was taking, the first truck showed up.

And then a second truck.  And then a third and fourth plus the boss man in a pickup truck.  We felt like very important people with such a gathering in our yard.  

They got to work chain sawing the tree and kudzo vines off the power lines.

And then the "grabby thing" truck set the pole back up straight and they all went back to working.  I think there were about 15 guys 14 guys and a girl working.  They were like ants, all scurrying around doing their job.  By 7:00 or 7:30 p.m., we had power once again. 

And by 8:00 p.m., the environmental recovery team showed up to remove the brush that had had oil spilled on it.  I'm still not sure where the oil came from.  I'm assuming either the chain saw (they did break one cutting the kudzo) or maybe the transformer had oil in it.  I have no idea, but the crew showed up and while they didn't clear all the debris, they cleared what was oily.  

All in all and despite my whining about how long it took them to get here (there were 10,000's of thousands without power due to the storm and there were only 4 customers affected by our line problem  so we were the last service call of their day,) I was very pleased and entertained by the events.  And I can not express how thankful we all are that Sarah's car sustained zero damage.  That girl must be living right!

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Ice Cream for Sunday Supper

 It's my favorite day of the year!  National Ice Cream Day!

So of course today's Sunday Supper recipe is for something ice cream related.  Cocoa Hot Fudge Sauce.  Yum!


Friday, July 16, 2021

More Potholders

 I just can't stop!

I've made a few more potholders that I need to get listed on my Etsy shop.  

Okay, question for the grammar police...  "In my Etsy shop," or "on my Etsy shop?"  It would be in a shop, but on Etsy/the web.  Which is correct?  I really should have paid more attention in school.  But hey - in my defence, the web didn't exist back in those days so my lovely English teacher, Mrs. Hall, never taught me "in" or "on" an Etsy shop rules.

I really am excited about these extra large potholders.  The cotton loops are SO much better than the kids' ones from the big box craft stores.  Besides being a much better quality and color, they are bigger and make 8 - 8.5 inch potholders instead of the little 5 or 6 inch ones.  These are big enough to protect a whole adult hand and they make fantastic trivets.  I'm just 100%, completely obsessed with making potholders!

It's a good thing I'm so obsessed with weaving potholders.  I'm going to need to make an awful lot of them over the next few months.  I've signed up to be a craft vendor at Winterfest.  Remember me talking about Winterfest?  Winterfest is the big Christmas/winter holiday event at the theme park where I used to work.   I'm very excited.  And a little bit nervous.  It will be fine though.  I'm sharing a booth with a few friends.  Sales or not, we'll have fun.

Oh, and sorry for skipping this past Tuesday.  I was busy hanging with my best girl.  Poor Hayden, her molars are coming in and they are giving her a fit!  Plus, she wasn't very happy that Nana was interrupting Paw Patrol to take selfies.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Sunday Supper - Pepper Poppers

I've been keeping up with my Tuesday and Friday posts and y'all seemed to enjoy them before, so I've decided to re-introduce Sunday Suppers.  This time around, I'm making it easier on myself and I'll just be sharing a recipe that sounds good, not necessarily one that I plan to make today.

But, having said that, today's recipe for poppers may actually get made today.  Hayden and her parents are coming over this afternoon and we all love poppers.  Well, Hayden probably doesn't, but the rest of us do.

Both the recipe and the photo above come from tasteofhome.com.


Friday, July 9, 2021



Tropical Storm Elsa is upon us.  Thankfully I was able to spend a few minutes outside on the deck crocheting my giant granny square afghan before the rain started.  I am absolutely loving this YarnBee cotton yarn.

I was so glad, and sad, to hear how many of you have also suffered roof and a/c condensation leaks.  One good thing about our problems - they are keeping me active.  I LOVE wild weather and normally during a big storm, I sit in front of a window and watch the weather while I knit for 12+ hours straight.  Not this time!  Having to bail the drip buckets is forcing me to take crochet/craft breaks which is good for my arm as well as my entire body.

For those of you in Elsa's path, I pray you did/will make it through safely.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Haunted House

This is going to be not at all knitting related but I wanted you all to know I hadn't abandoned the blog again.  I'm just busy cleaning up a giant mess.

You know how haunted houses on TV always seem to have blood oozing out of the walls?

photo courtesy of heyallyouzombies.com

Our house is doing that, except thankfully it's dripping water instead of blood.  But blood or water, I'm convinced the house knows my mother-in-law is no longer living here and it is Pissed!

It started with a roof leak in my room.  When it rains, it rains in my room.  When we first moved in here, we'd had a roofer come fix the leak and he'd said it would need to be recoated every two years or so.  Well, it's been two years so that leak is not totally unexpected.  A pain to deal with, but not totally unexpected.

Thankfully it finally stopped raining practically every single day and my room dried up.

But then we started finding water on the floor in the hallway.

And then water started pouring out of the office ceiling for absolutely no reason.  

And then water was dripping out of the laundry room door frame.  Not the ceiling, but the top of the door frame.

The next day, water began dripping out of the fuse box in the laundry room. 

And then it began pouring out of the crown molding in my daughter's room.

And then the water started oozing out of the laundry room walls.  Literally, oozing out of the middle of the wall. 

There's no plumbing behind or above any of those places.  I know what you are thinking.... The laundry room is the problem.  But the laundry room is on the second floor and its pipes run below it.  All the water pipes run through the flooring, not the ceilings on the second floor.

Where is all the water coming from??

And as haunted house water leaks go, because the water was running down the walls, not dripping from the ceilings (except in the office,) we couldn't put buckets under the drips to catch the water.  All that water made such a big mess!

We finally figured it out.  We figured it out after the laundry room ceiling and wall finally turned to pudding and fell on the floor with a big splat.

The a/c condensation pan/pipe/whatever was stopped up.  We got this thing where it's sort of like firing a shotgun into the pipe and it forces the clog out.  It sort of worked and we got some water to go through the line so we thought it was fixed.  

And then it started raining so I put the drip pans all around my room where the ceiling leaks and we all left the house to go run errands.  

Leaving was a mistake.  The house apparently didn't like that either!  We came home to a pseudo-swimming pool in my room and the upstairs hallway, and the water flowing down our stairwell looked like white water rapids.

Turns out, whoever installed the upstairs a/c unit failed to hook up the backup pipe.  The backup pipe takes over if the condensation drip pan gets full or stopped up.  Have I ever mentioned how humid it gets here in the summer?  It gets very, very humid.  And all that humidity was being turned into condensation which was running willy-nilly all throughout the space between the second floor ceiling and the attic flooring. 

We've got it rigged up so that all the water is now dripping into a 20 gallon bucket in our hallway.  We have to wait until everything up there in the ceiling dries enough to be able to get up there to make the necessary repairs.  Meanwhile, there is a steady stream of water pouring out of the ceiling into the bucket.  I bail the bucket out every few hours.  So far the lowest amount I've bailed in a day is 11 gallons and my high was 19.  

In other words, I'm too busy bailing to knit and I may be too busy to blog this week.  There is a LOT of clean-up that needs to happen here.

Friday, July 2, 2021

And then my arm fell off

So, remember the needlepoint I just finished and how I was excited about how quickly the project had gone so I was going to start another?  Remember how I'd said my arm was so sore from the repetitive motion of pulling the tread through the mesh?  Apparently, I did not remember that until I started the newest one.  It didn't take long to remind myself.  Ouch.  

So I decided to focus on knitting instead.  

But it's too hot to knit.  And since I'm spending most of my time outside on the deck because there's no TV or internet... and it's been 95 degrees and crazy humid.... It's just too hot to knit.

So what do you do when it's too hot to knit and your arm feels like you've had six flu shots in one day?

You begin a giant, single granny square, stash busting blanket.  Of course you do!

Although I had to resort to Google's help to remind myself how to start a granny square, the project was going well.  It was going well until I remembered that I'd stopped crocheting years and years ago because it irritates my carpal tunel so badly.  A few stitches and I can't even pick up a pencil for a week.

In other words, it was going well until my arm fell off.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Skipping Fall Fever

This is about the time of year fall fever hits me hard.  And I mean, HARD!  Normally it hits the moment the lightshow from the last firework fades from the night sky on July 4th.  I instantly go from being all about bathing suits and flip-flops to wanting to build a fire, wear a sweater, drink hot spiced tea and eat pumpkin muffins.  

And while I have already had a few days of fall fever this summer, for the most part, I'm skipping fall and going straight to Christmas apparently.

I finished the second Christmas wreath needlepoint (here's the first) and have picked out the colors for the third one.  My plan all along has been to do one per year but I finished that second one so quickly and needlepoint is a good, mostly mindless, not too hot in your lap, summer project.  So...

The canvas is all taped up and the yarns are chosen.  Now I just need to remember where I put my needlepoint needles.  Argh!

Somebody, somebody much smarter than I, needs to invent a needle roomba/robot that automatically returns your knitting and sewing needles to their proper storage containers when you finish a project.  Can you imagine how much money that invention would make?  I know I'd pay a fortune for one!


Sorry, but prepare yourself for lots of Christmas needlepoint photos in the future.

Oh, and I'm still using Palette yarns to stitch the needlepoints.  I'm also using my Knit Picks blocking mats and pins to block the needlepoint.  I don't stitch on a frame so the finished canvas is always all wonky.  Pinning it into submission and a spritz or two of water always takes care of that though.  

And by the way, Knit Picks is currently having their summer sale.  Tools are on sale throughout the sale, worsted yarns are on sale this week and their DK's will be on sale next week.

You're welcome.

Friday, June 25, 2021

How to Knit a Rectangle

 Thank you guys so much!  

First of all, I've been remiss in telling you how much I appreciate the warm welcome back and specially the love and support that came my way while I was having my 'dark time.'  Many of you got in touch to make sure I was okay and I very much appreciated it.  I'm also touched by how many of you immediately welcomed me back into your homes when I began blogging again. It means the world to me.  

I also appreciated all the positive comments on my summer cotton top.  You know, the one made out of rectangles.

Many of you asked me for pattern/design details so, here you go:

But hopefully I can describe what I did a little more clearly in hopes that you don't have quite so many scratched out numbers.

1.  Gather your yarn, needles and knit a gauge swatch.  If you can create an accurate gauge swatch, it would be tremendously helpful.  If you can't/don't, you may find yourself doing steps 2 through 5 a second time.  Maybe even a third.

2. Decide how big your sweater needs to be and calculate how many stitches you'll need.  If your gauge swatch says you get 4 stitches to the inch and you want a 40 inch sweater, you'll need 160 stitches over all for example.  (4 x 40 = 160)  If you are of average proportions, you'll need to divide that number in half to get your front and back numbers.  (160/2 = 80)  If you happen to be busty or perhaps your belly  pooches out more than your back flab...  You may want to adjust your numbers slightly.  For example, in my case, I cast on 95 stitches for the back and 100 for the front.

3.  Determine how big to make the arm holes.  You could use a tape measure to measure from the top of your shoulder to your underarm, or you can take the easy way out and measure a favorite shirt from shoulder seam to underarm seam.   You can also take your measurements to determine how long you will want your top, or you can go the easy route there too and simply try it on occasionally as you knit.

4..  Now, you've got your yarn, needles and the number of stitches you'll need for the back half of the top so cast those stitches on.  Any cast-on method should work.  

5. Knitting flat (back and forth, not in the round) garter stitch until you reach that armhole measurement then put these stitches on a holder.

6.  Now, repeat steps 4 and 5 for the front but don't put the stitches onto a holder.  I counted my garter ridges to make sure the two pieces were the same length but again, if you are overly busty or hunched back... you might want to make small adjustments to the lengths.

7.  It's time to join the front and back together and knit in the round.  I put a marker at the first underarm join but it's not mandatory.  If for no other reason, I like to have the marker when I'm knitting stockinette in the round so that I know I'm making progress each time I come to it.

8.  Keep knitting around and around and around.  When you get that, "It's bound to be long enough by now!" feeling, simply pin the shoulder seams together and try it on.  Then go knit some more because you know it's not long enough yet.

9.  Once the top is an inch or two from being long enough, revert back to knitting garter stitch (knit a row, purl a row) to make up that extra inch or two and bind off.  Hate purling?  Do as I did and wrap and turn at the end of the round and knit back to the beginning.  Wrap and turn again, knit around to the marker, wrap and turn and....just keep going until it's long enough.

10. With the shoulder seams pinned, try the top on again.  This time, move the pins to mark where you want the shoulder seam to stop and the neck hole to begin.  I used clothes pins for this because it was easier than trying to pin and unpin safety pins.  Once marked, sew up those shoulder seams.

11.  If your cast-on stitches are nice and pretty, you can consider the top finished.  If not, knit an icord border around the neck and arm holes.

12.  Weave in those ends and now you really are finished!

And of course, please, make your top your own!  Add a cable running down the front - or all around for that matter!  Use a decorative stitch instead of plain garter and stockinette. Knit the entire front and back seperately and seam the sides instead of knitting the body in the round.  I used garter and stockinette because I wanted it to be 100% mindless and fast.  And hey - if you're feeling adventurous, instead of icording the armholes, pick up those stitches and knit some sleeves!  You could even add a collar if you wanted to.  

Just make it your own!  And of course, send me a photo when you're done.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

It fits!

I can't say I love the look of those horizontal stripes on me, but my patternless cotton top is finished and it fits!

I'm not sure which is worse - the horribly pixilated photo above or the one below where I look like I'm trying to catch bugs in my mouth. 

You also have to pardon the hair.  It was basically 1,000 degrees and pretty close to 1,000 percent humidity and well, remember those Wham bangs I accidentally got last year?  They are growing out.  Very, very slowly.  

Whatever.  The sweater/top fits, it's wearable and it's very comfortable.  Again, I'm not thrilled with what those stripes do to my girlish figure but it fits and I'm pretty amazed by that.  

I didn't have a pattern but I remembered knitting rectangles and sewing them together to make vests back in the '80's when I was young and skinny.  And a vest is really just a sleeveless top and I wanted to knit a sleeveless summer top and in my limited Ravelry search, I didn't find any patterns that struck my fancy.  I decided to return to my '80's style of knitting.

I actually made a gauge swatch and did the math and cast on the required number of stitches.  And I knit and I knit and I knit then I put those stitches on a holder and started over and knit and knit and knit then I joined the two peices together and knit in the round until it was almost long enough.  I knit a few rows of garter to finish it off and to tie back in to the chest area and then I bound off.  

Next I icorded the neck then decided I'd better try it on before I did the armholes.  I sure am glad I did because those holes were way too big and my boobs were pretty much hanging out the arm holes.  I simply mattress stitched a couple of inches up from the bottom of the arm hole then did the icord.  

And presto-magic!  I have a new cotton top for less than $12.00!

The yarn I used is Yarn Bee's Sugarwheel Cotton which I'd bought on sale at Hobby Lobby.  I bought four skeins but I barely made a dent in the third.  I see a LOT of blue and green dish/face cloths in my future!

Now, the big question.  How will a less than $12.00 hand knit cotton top hold up in the wash?  We will see soon.  Today is laundry day.