Friday, December 25, 2009

So this is Christmas...

and I hope it is a merry, peaceful, warm, joyful one for all. This end of the family met at my sister's house for dinner (defined as the afternoon meal), so I'm already home with a full belly and some lovely gifts, not the least of which is some natural yarn from my BIL's cousin's sheep, from their farm in Vermont, spun by Green Mountain Spinnery. Four skeins, two of that lovely natural creamy color, one grey, and one dark brown. (Mindy, if you're reading this, it's dark like the fleece I bought at Rhinebeck!)

Mitzie received a new bed for the holiday and has pretty much spent yesterday and today in it. As in, all of both days. I think she would eat and drink from it if she could reach. Some folks asked how she managed to dislocate her hip; I don't really know. My best guess is that she was jumping to or from her latest favorite spot (on top of my kitchen cabinets) and miscalculated somewhere on the trip. Now that she has a comfy new bed, she doesn't seem to mind being in the crate much at all. She had the pillow from her basket in there before, but it's meant to be in the basket, which provides the side-bumpers. Therefore, without the basket, she kept sliding off it. This is much better.

So once I hit "publish," I plan to put on fresh PJs, pick up my sister's Hemlock Ring throw (which is going SO MUCH easier this time, it makes me wonder if I was briefly functionally illiterate the last time I tried) and knit until I decide to go to bed. I left the house with a whole pie of one kind this morning, and came back with a whole pie of three kinds, so I think I'm all set there, too. Be well, everyone.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Down to the Wire

There's five days until Christmas (in case you were wondering). I finished my Eastlake sweater and the Pastaza sweater; the next time I make it, I need to do something about the sleeves. The pattern calls for a rolled-up cuff, and I don't like it. But if you leave the cuff unrolled, you get a very wide edge. It's not awful, but I'm not enamored of it. I want to cast on fewer stitches, and then monkey with the rate of increase to have the correct number for the beginning of the yoke. Shouldn't be too hard. Hopefully I'll remember I want to do this when the time comes. Post-it note, need to find a Post-it note.

One thumb left on my niece's mittens. It's an easy pattern, but since it's knit at a pretty firm gauge, it's tiring on the hands. I may still finish it tonight. I'm a little tired of brown yarn today, though. Many thanks to Michael Palin and two episodes of his "Great Railway Journeys" that got me through most of the right hand.

Cast on for my sister's Hemlock Ring Doily Throw. Now, there's no way on this green earth that it'll be done for Friday, and I know it. I knew it never would be after I ripped out the first attempt. I'm up to round 16 and I like this SO much better. I can see what I'm doing and the yarn is better suited to the project. Someday it'll probably end up felted, and if it happens, I'll make another.

Haven't cast on for Dad's sweater yet, but that's OK too. We'll have our Christmas next Monday, so there's time.

In non-knitting news, last week was quite dramatic in the cat department. Mitzie somehow managed to dislocate her hip. Two nights at the hospital, two x-rays, lots of painkillers, and one night of near-panic for me (as soon as the vet mentioned "possible need for an orthopedic surgeon" I started to cry...I simply can't afford something like that) later, she's back to her old self. Mostly. She's crated when I'm not around to watch her. If I'm here, I let her sleep on the couch or the comfy chair (and she's sleeping a lot) so I can stop her if she tries to jump down. But back in the crate she goes if I need to go upstairs or to the store or something. She doesn't love it, but there's no way around it. (It's a wire dog crate, by the way, not a travel carrier.)

Oh yeah, the day after the snow day was the annual winter concert with my advanced band and 4th/5th grade chorus. My band is small but mighty, and I have a tuba-playing former student who comes back to provide the bass line. The chorus collectively got a case of the heebie-jeebies that night, but we made it and got many compliments. My exhortations to "Dig out! Dig out!" during rehearsals served us well. (It means "Figure out where the hell you are, compared to where the hell the rest of us are and GET BACK IN!") If nothing else, I train flexible musicians.

If I don't check in again before Christmas, I hope my readers have a joyful and peaceful holiday season. I've already missed Hanukkah and probably others, but a wish for peace seems to fit no matter what the occasion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day!!!

It started as a two-hour delay, and about an hour later they called the whole thing off. I would guess we have about 3-4" of snow, which isn't what closed things down; it's the layer of sleet and freezing rain on top of it. Purl Street hasn't been plowed (7:52), so I'm sure the roads out in the hinterlands are in even worse shape. Hill roads aren't reliably paved here, and many of them lack a shoulder (and the space to have one...on your right, we have a hill, and on your left, we have the drop-off to the hollow). I am a happy girl today.

So: there's two sticks of butter on the counter coming to room temperature so I can make a batch of buttermilk biscuits and a large loaf of white bread, half of which I'll take to school tomorrow. There's the neck-trim stitches to be bound off on my Eastlake sweater, some more mileage to be put on a sweater my dad will give as a gift (in Cascade Pastaza, an old Bernat pattern from 1985. It's a no-button cardigan, with a twisted-stitch yoke and raglan shaping. The original calls for the bottom part of the body to the armholes to be 21 1/2 inches. Hah. Sixteen is plenty. It's a nice pattern, though, and goes quickly.

Speaking of going quickly, there's also Bella's Mittens for my niece. One is finished, and they go fast. They're knit in chunky yarn with smaller-than-you'd-expect needles for a nice dense fabric. They're nearly elbow-length, which is perfect for my niece; I think she only wears t-shirts no matter the weather. (At Thanksgiving, she noticed that my thermostat was set at a whopping 67. I said I had turned it up for her and to put on a sweatshirt. She declined. Oh well.) I may make a pair for myself, but just a little shorter.

And of course there are two projects not yet begun, but if they're not finished for Christmas, it'll be OK. There's a sweater for Dad in Berroco Vintage, a nice superwash blend. He sheepishly admitted that he felted that last one I made for him. This one's an old Interweave Knits pattern, a knit-purl patterned gansey-looking thing. For my sister, there will be a Hemlock Ring Doily blanket. I had started this a while ago also in Vintage, but on 10 1/2s, I didn't like the fabric. It was too loose and sleazy between the large needles and the superwash yarn. So instead, I went back to the yarn suggested in the pattern,Cascade Ecological Wool. $15 a skein, two sekins needed. Can't beat that with a stick.

Hmmm, can I link to anything else? I didn't feel it was right to tell you about my fab gift-knitting and not provide sources. Who knows, you may have been looking for just the thing. Oh, the Pastaza link? I am using one of the discontinued colors, so the price is correct. There's other, non-discontinued colors for regular price. I think Berroco is doing some great things lately; props to Norah Gaughan. If you really want to know which IK Dad's sweater is, let me know and I'll go find it. Currently, I am too lazy to go upstairs. It's pre-Melanie Falick, if that's any indication. Mid-90's, I think.

And now, enough blogging...time to get knitting on this beautiful bonus day.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

And One More Thing...

I'm going to blame some of this ennui on PBS (I may have mentioned this before). EVERY DAMN TIME I feel a downturn in my mood, there's a freakin' pledge drive on. Coindence? I think not. I need "Antiques Roadshow" and "Secrets of the Dead" and "Craft in America," dammit! Andrei Rieu, Doo-Wop 3784, and Lawrence Welk's Greatest Hits are NOT CUTTING IT.

There. I feel better already.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A Random Act of Blogging

Oy. Busy busy, but that's not any different than anyone else reading this. I'm going to attempt a catch-up.

1. Rhinebeck: everything I hoped it would be, with the possible exception of ten degrees warmer. August in October is not necessary, but neither is early December.

2. House: looking ever-more like a home instead of a construction-waste and plastic-bin dumping ground. There's just one bin of things without a spot, and once I get a desk and another bookshelf, that should be that.

3. More House: There is one futon mattress on the trundle bed, and another will be on its way in a paycheck or two. They aren't fancy (no springs), but since they won't be in regular use, I figured they'd be fine. Besides, have you priced 6" deep twin-sized spring mattresses lately??? Also, there is a bed frame in the other spare bedroom. No mattress there yet either, but it was a purchase I couldn't pass up. Picture soon, with any luck. (Also, mattress soon, with any luck.)

4. Yet More House: There's curtains on almost every window now (the valances and shades have been up); it finally occurred to me that the tiered panels I used while living in Apartmentia would probably work rather well on the bottom halves on the windows. And they do. A little more privacy, and a little more light-filtering. It's a nice effect. I've also found fabric to do the office window, but that probably won't happen until Christmas break. That's OK; at least it's here. I prefer to do a whole big whack of sewing once I get the machine out.

5. Thanksgiving: I had it here. Being able to host my family for the first time in two years was delightful and bittersweet at the same time. Amazingly, the last Thanksgiving I prepared in its (almost) entirety was just before I got divorced, and we were both still in the house at the time. Apartmentia was too small to have more than one or two other people over at any given time. I wasn't expecting to feel sad about it, but it passed. The fact that there were three kinds of pie to squash any extraneous feelings down probably didn't hurt either.

6. Fiber-related: almost no spinning has happened in about two months. This saddens me also. Christmas knitting is in full swing, but there were a couple of false starts. Hopefully we shall charge ahead starting NOW. There's also two pots of onion-skin juice sitting on the stove waiting for jars. I'm thinking that if I make some dye extracts as I get the chance to, when I have more time (see above, "Christmas break"), it should facilitate the actual dyeing. I'd like to get an indigo vat going again, too. Indigo is magic, no matter how many times you see it happen. (Sorry folks, I use indigo crystals. I'm not THAT much into authenticity.)

7. Health-related: yeesh. I think I've been on a round of antibiotics monthly since school started. I've not been sick enough to be SICK, but enough to put a damper on a lot of things. The kids at school got hit hard; it seems to have tapered off. We're afraid of Round Two, though. On the mental health side, both meds seem to be working for the most part, but mornings are getting increasingly difficult. It doesn't help that I live in the Northeast; we aren't known for abundant sunshine at any time of year, and now it's dark by about 5:00. Also, I've never exactly been a morning person. I don't mind being a little cranky in the morning, but waking up anxious and self-doubting is not my definition of "cranky." I take one Wellbutrin XLR in the morning when I get up, and I'm wondering if it's totally worn off by the next morning. I wouldn't be surprised if there were an uptick in the dose shortly. As usual, on the one hand, I know that if it helps me feel better and function better, it's a good thing and who gives a crap that it's more medication. On the other, it's a little hard to avoid feeling like things must be getting worse, or I wouldn't NEED more medication. I want to be one of those people who can taper off and return to the non-medicated life and still be OK. But that doesn't look like part of the plan just yet.

So there's at least the quick and dirty. Off to put a dent in one item of gift-knitting...