WIP Wednesday: Socks, Mitts and a Shawl

Yep, it is cold out there. I was thrilled that the driveway finally melted dry yesterday only to discover it covered with an inch of snow on top of a bulletproof layer of ice this morning. The trees had inch long hoar frost! Beautiful, but a little dicey taking the trash cans to the bottom of that driveway.

What a great day to knit. I decided that I absolutely needed to try to make a lace mitt on cable needles, so risking my life on the driveway I headed out to the LYS briefly to get two 2.25 mm red lace ChiaoGoo cable needles. I scored 16″ needles and headed home (with a side trip to IKEA on the way back to score some cinnamon rolls…) to cast on.

Yarn and Needles
It’s a start! I am tired of my mitts falling off the double pointed needles so I am going to try to make a pair using 2 small cable needles. Right now it is really confusing…

OK, it’s only the start, but they make me happy. The yarn is La Jolla by Baah Yarn. I once lived and worked in La Jolla (California), so it makes me really happy to knit this yarn. To make it even better, the colorway, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a special dye job for the owner of Colorful Yarns.  Can you tell Tiffany’s favorite color is purple?

Socks
The end is in sight. I need to stop going on knitting detours and get these done!

Now that I have cast on a mitt and gotten far enough along to see how to do it, I need to get back to the socks that I am working on right now. I’m almost down to the heel flap on the second sock, so I really do need to buckle down and get them done over the next couple of days as there is more snow coming at the end of the week. Woo-hoo! Knitting weather!

Knitting
This yarn is 20% cashmere. It sure would be nice and warm to wear.

There is one more project that is slowly chugging along. It is a small shawl that I started during a trip in the car over the holidays. It’s mostly garter stitch, so it is an easy knit. Now that the new season has started on television perhaps I will get it cranked out in the next two weeks, too. No promises, as I am also itching to get started on my New Year’s resolution January sock. I’m looking at a skein of red yarn in my stash and thinking how nice it would look on my knitting needles… The red would go really nicely with my fabulous Hitchhiker shawl…

Sock pattern: Chouwa by Judy Sumner (in the book Knitted Socks East and West) Sock yarn: Hedgehog Fibres Sock, colorway Malice.

Shawl pattern: 3S Shawl by Amy Meade. Yarn: Zen Yarn Garden Serenity 20

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Book 1: The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penney

I did it! I went to Goodreads and joined the 2015 Reading Challenge with the goal of reading 100 books this year. That was the New Year’s resolution, and I am sticking to it! Luckily the weather is cooperating. It is cold and snowing again, and the cats and I are piled in bed reading between snow-shoveling breaks. If this keeps up I will have the 100 books done in no time!

Cat in snow.
Hunting for a warm and dry patch in the yard. Sorry, guy. There just isn’t one. Too bad kitties can’t shovel snow.

No, I will not be reviewing all of those books on this blog. (Did I just hear a sigh of relief from my sister in San Diego?? )  Seriously, that might cut into my knitting time! Besides, I really have no intrinsic desire to become a book reviewer; too much like doing book reports late Sunday night like I did in school.  Every once in a while, however, there is a book that I feel compelled to write about. It consumes me while I am reading it, it forces me onto the internet to track down information, and leads me into reflection on the personalities and motivations of the story’s characters. I’m almost forced to write about it to get it out of my system.  Having said that, let me present to you the first book of 2015. Ta-daa! The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny.

I’ve been reading her Chief Inspector Gamache novels steadily since I read the first one in early December,  Still Life. What a series! I’ve grown to love the people of Tree Pines even though they seem to have too many murders in their tiny, artistic village with its great food and crazy duck-loving poet.  The complex relationships between the Chief Inspector and his staff, the hint of a conspiracy of immense magnitude, the ongoing themes and mystery plots keep me reading each new book as I care about the people in them so much.

The Beautiful Mystery is a book of many layers. In the most simple terms the story centers around the murder of a monk in a remote monastery in the wilderness of Quebec called Saint-Gilbert-Entre-les-Loups. As Gamache and his second-in-command Jean-Guy  Beauvoir investigate this crime they discover that the monks, who have taken a vow of silence and devoted their lives to the singing of unique Gregorian Chants, are deeply divided and engaged in civil war. When Gamache’s superior arrives at the monastery it becomes clear that another civil war is waging within the Surete du Quebec. If that wasn’t enough, further events make clear that the monastery’s secret location and devotion to music is part of an ancient division within the Catholic Church.  Good grief! How many layers deep does this go?

It should have been a confusing book, but the many different themes and plots are skillfully woven together and the book is written beautifully. The murder is solved, some of the conflicts are resolved, and others move forward to be continued in further books. I am becoming concerned as this is the 8th book in the series, and I do hope that I will get to the bottom of this immense conspiracy within the Surete soon. Wait, forget I just said that. I think that the suspense was getting to me there. The truth is, this book was simply wonderful. It is a book about faith, love, betrayal and great divisions. It addresses addiction; to music, to drugs, to power, and what people will do to protect and secure their addictions. Easily, and too often, these addictions can lead to murder.

“The Beautiful Mystery” in Gregorian chant is the starting note for the chant; the baseline that can be used to compare all other notes to.  This book is about beginnings, but it is also about endings; the beginning of the conspiracy in the Surete has now been reveled, the sides in the civil war are drawn, the battles have begun and resolution is coming. At the end of the book it becomes clear that Gamache is much more than meets the eye; he has been engaged in a campaign of complex and long duration to clean up the rot in the Surete. He feels he has “been at sea a long time, but he can finally see the shore”.

Please, please  make it soon. I’m running out of books.

I’m starting How the Light Gets In, the next book in the series tonight!

Resolutions for 2015

Well, this is it. There are only a couple of hours left for the year. The end of a really busy year, and I have no idea what exactly was  accomplished over the last 12 months. Well, I did read a lot of books and did a lot of knitting, but since I didn’t keep track of things, I don’t exactly have any numbers. I do have a memory of a quilt that I made for my younger son, and then there was the enormous landscaping project along the house, but seriously, the year is just a blur.

This year I would like to set some goals and then measure my progress. With the best of intentions, here is what I’m planning for in 2015.

Sock Books
Seriously, how many sock books does one knitter need? Wait… that’s not a fair question.

Knitting

  • I’m going to go through my sock books and select a different sock to make each month. Then I will knit the sock! Seriously, I will get this done.
  • I will knit the socks with the STASH YARN!!!
  • I will make a really serious effort to record my projects in Ravelry.
  • I tend to make multiple items of the same pattern, so I will also start a spreadsheet to list my knitted items. Ha! Next year I will know exactly how many baby booties I actually made.
Spinning Wheel
Here’s my beautiful Schacht wheel. Poor baby, the flyer is in pieces and it actually has a loose screw.

Spinning

  • I dropped my spinning wheel. Parts fell off. I finally sucked it up and told Maggie Casey of Shuttles, Spindles & Skeins (Boulder, Colorado) that I had hurt my baby. She told me (3 months ago) to bring it in and she would fix it. I will for sure absolutely without fail take it in this month!! next month before summer.
  • I’m struggling with the spinning wheel because I bought 5 ounces of Paco-Vicuna roving to spin. Wow! This stuff is soft beyond belief. I’m afraid to spin it. If the wheel is broken, I can’t be expected to spin it, can I? All right. I’m a big person. I will without fail get this fiber spun before the end of the year.
  • The Paco-Vicuna is from a local grower, Jefferson Farms. The name of the animal is Gulliver. I promise to call them up before the year is over and I will go visit Gulliver. Won’t that be a fun post!
Paco Vicuna fiber
This fiber is so soft I am scared to spin it. I need to settle on a project first, I think.

Books

  • Goodreads says I read 25 books this year. That can’t be right!! I know that I am reading more than that.  Therefore I resolve to list every book that I read at Goodreads this year.
  • I will even review every some of the books that I read.
  • Maybe I should start a spreadsheet while I am at it.
  • I would love to read 100 books this year. Ha! Really, it will be fun!
Home Run Roses
Here are the Home Run on the day I planted them. The shrubs are now 2.5 feet tall and covered with blooms after two years of growth.

Roses

  • The roses at the front of the house, Showbiz, look just terrible these days. Mainly they serve as food for wandering insects. Maybe I shouldn’t have dosed them with bleach while painting the house two years ago. They have never been the same again…
  • I am going to rip those roses out and replant with some roses that are hardy, full of blooms and resistant to insects. The Home Run roses at the side of the yard look great. Maybe I will get some of those for the front.

That’s it. There is only an hour left to the year. Goodbye, goodbye 2014.

Happy New Year everyone!!

Who Let Winter In Already?

It’s cold here today, and the ground is covered in snow. Icicles are hanging off the edge of my back porch. The weather forecast is calling for bitter cold and more snow early next week, and I can feel the misery of winter starting to close in already. I used to love this time of year, but lately I’m feeling the cold a lot more than I used to, and I sure do long for those days of early fall when the leaves where spectacular, the geese were just arriving in town, and everywhere I drove there was a blaze of color.

Yarn in tree.
I loved this yarn so much when I bought it this fall I took its picture in my maple tree. Doesn’t it just fit in with the leaves?

It was in that spirit that I pulled out this shawl/scarf that I had started last month for some weekend knitting. I had put it aside a couple of weeks ago to get the Christmas stuff done, but now I was on fire to finish it.  The pattern is called Hitchhiker (by Martina Behm) because there are 42 little teeth along one edge, and who can ignore a scarf that is the answer to life, the universe and everything? Certainly it should be the answer to my winter blues.

Half knitted Hitchhiker scarf.
This is the HItchhiker at exactly the halfway point (21 little teeth). The scarf languished for a couple of weeks while other projects were finished up.

The pattern is all garter stitch, so it is really warm and squishy. It’s colorful, cheerful, and just what I need to face next week. Even better, it will match a new top that my daughter-in-law gave me for my Christmas present. Yep, time to knit like a fiend. 🙂

I knit last night while watching a movie, and then settled down this afternoon and worked pretty steady on it for a few hours. This evening I cast off and it is done!

Finished scarf on author.
Here it is finished and keeping me warn already. Who can be cold with such a cheerful and colorful scarf around their neck? Not me!

All right winter. Bring it on!

FO Friday: The Day After Christmas

It’s the day after Christmas! I know that it is Boxing Day, but in my house it is “Recover From Knitting Day”. It came right down to the wire (again), but I got all of the gifts done on time and into the mail or under the tree. The most fun for me is getting the feedback from recipients after my little knitted gifts arrive at their new destination. So,  from the yarn stash to the Christmas Tree, here are the knitted items of 2014.

Knitted cat.
For my cat loving cousin I made a black and white kitty,
Cats!
Here he is in his new home on Christmas morning. Happy landings little guy!
Lace Mitt WIP
I was knitting lace mitts like crazy as we got closer to the big day…
and here are the same mitts this morning on their new owner's hands. :-)
and here are the same mitts this morning on their new owner’s hands. 🙂
Mitts
The mitts that I made for my sister arrived in time for Christmas…
Socks
and the socks for my daughter-in-law got done early Christmas Eve a couple of hours before I handed over the wrapped package

Ta-daa! Christmas gift success.

OK, there were some things that I planned and bought stuff for but didn’t make, but I have a head start for next year. Right?

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

FO Friday: One Christmas Gift Done!

Ok, I have a lot of knitted Christmas presents going. I buckled down and got one of them done today. I offer for your viewing enjoyment the Christmas Cat!!

Pieces for stuffed knitted cat.
My cat MacKenzie was thrilled to model the start of this knitting project, a black and white cat for a cat-loving cousin.
Last night I completed knitting all of the pieces and steamed blocked them into submission so I could start seaming.
Last night I completed knitting all of the pieces and steamed blocked them into submission so I could start seaming.
By this afternoon I had the body of the cat together. Not very appealing, is he?
By this afternoon I had the body of the cat together. Not very appealing, is he?
Cat is done! MacKenzie still isn't sure about how he feels about him.
Cat is done! MacKenzie still isn’t sure he’s happy about this new friend

It will be snowing this weekend in Denver, so hopefully I will get those Christmas mitts done next. 🙂

Pattern:  Four Knitted Cats by Kath Delmeny

WIP Wednesday: Christmas Gifts!

This is the time of year when my Christmas knitting plans are waaay too big for the time left before the big event. I always knit or plan to knit presents for everyone. As the days creep closer to the date I begin to triage and start presents that need to go into the mail first while holding local presents on the back burner. That’s how I ended up with soooo many works in progress this year. Here they are:

Knitted Mitts
I already have three pairs of lace mitts finished, and these are the ones that I worked on over the weekend. When I get the third pair done I’ll sit down and do all the thumbs at once.

 

Half knitted Hitchhiker scarf.
This Hitchhiker (exactly half done!) went on hold before I started the mitts as it is going to someone local. I’m getting a little nervous about this one’s chances of making it to full Hitchhiker status. 🙂

 

Pieces for stuffed knitted cat.
My cat MacKenzie has been hanging out today as I worked on the pieces to create a black and white stuffed cat. This is one of two cats I need to get done and into the mail by next week.

 

I still have to get another stuffed cat and a pair of alpaca half-finger gloves done too.

I hope to have some finished objects to show off by Friday.

Patterns: