Friday, June 27, 2014

Granny Summer

While I still am not a baby Granny, Lil' Farm Gal is the next best thing.  And this summer, on the weeks she is home, I get to practice being a Granny for real.  Every other week she is with her father during the summer, but one day a week, when she is here, I will be staying with her.
This past Wednesday was our first day.  I had been there with her before. Once when she was home from school sick, I came and popped in for a while to make sure she was ok.  And I picked her up from her field trip the last week of school.  This week, we went to pick strawberries in the morning.  We got about 7 quarts or so.  We just picked them into our buckets so didn't need to use the quart boxes.  After getting home we washed and hulled them and put them in the fridge for her mom.  I had planned on a trip to Walmart because I was going to try to get my old laptop on the internet with the aid of a cable.  But Farm Gal, (the mom) said her class was done and she wouldn't need access to Word right away.  So we got a couple other things, browsed the toy section and got lunch at Subway.
The toy section was a new experience for me. Who knew there there things other than Hot Wheels and toy tractors?  Not when I had boys around, that's for sure.
In the afternoon, she drew and colored pictures on the sketching pad she bought.  I knit, and we also watched TV.  (Another revelation.)  I had also brought along a couple knitting books of baby patterns.  Lil' Farm Gal looked them over, exclaiming over all the cute girly sweaters.  All in vain probably.  From what I hear, there is a 90% chance of Whose It being a baby boy.
We may be making plans for the future too.  I'm thinking of picking blueberries if it isn't too hot.  And a friend suggested picking cherries.  We shall see.  I thought I would take her to the local yarn shop to pick out some yarn for a baby sweater, once we know for sure if it is a boy or a girl.
I also became buddies with Snowflake while I was there.  She is sporting her summer cut but still has a fluffy tail and the cutest stubby legs I've ever seen on a cat. 
Anyway, I got so inspired, I cast on again last night.  After all, December babies will need lots of sweaters. Right?
It is actually more of a wine color, so it would work for boy girl.   And trust me, there will be more to follow. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Blocking Made Easy

I got up early to soak my SWestie shawl yesterday.   It went into my plastic tub with some wool wash and soaked while I walked Lizzie and did cat/dog chores.  After getting the coffee to brew, I started the procedure.  I though I would share how I do it.
First, I unfolded my old, practically antique cutting board out on the bed.  Then I assembled the foam blocking squares. Those are actually foam hopscotch squares I picked up on sale--$7 dollars per set, for 3 sets of 9.  Much more affordable than the ones made for blocking.  I just put them picture side down.
Then I spread out some of my blocking towels.  I bought a bunch of cheapo bar towels, and a few cheap bath towels that I keep in my plastic tub with a large dishpan sized strainer in my wool room so they are all together.
Returning to the water, I dumped the tub into the strainer, shawl and all.  Then I repeated the process, with clear water, still lukewarm.  After a gentle swish, I dumped out the water.  In order to help get the most water out, I then roll my knuckles in a kneading motion to help push out the water, going from one side to another in the strainer.  I flip the knitting over, and knead it again.
Then taking the strainer, I dumped the shawl on the towels, gently unfolding and pulling it out to a single layer.  I cover with another batch of towels and roll like a jelly roll.
Then, I squeeze as much more water out as I can.  Hug it, stomp on it, sit on it.  Heck, a person could even do a headstand on it, as long as it forces the water out of the knitting, and into the towels.
Next, I unroll and put the towels in the dryer.  I carefully form the shawl into shape.  In this case, I got out my blocking wires and put them on on four sides, stopping about 4 inches from the three corners, so the points could be stretched out farther.  All I needed was a pin in each corner.   I patted down the curved ends into shape, and let it sit for the day.  The hardest part then was keeping the cat off of it.
Here is a closeup of the corner in the lower right above.  It shows the lace opened out and you can see the blocking wires.
By the end of the day, it had dried nicely.  It fits like a dream.  Even Gertrude says so.
And, the multicolored yarn is softer, after the bath and stretching.   Now all I need is cooler weather, so I can wear it.  Although I must remember to bring to Knit Nite tonight, for Show and Tell.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Found Yarn. New Project

I mentioned the other day that I had frogged and reclaimed some yarn from a long languishing project.  I had even swatched for a new project.  The idea was for a new tee type top.  I debated over top down and bottom up.  I cast on for a top down tee, knit a few rows and then put it a way for the night.
After sleeping on the idea, this morning I ripped it back again.  But I knew just what I wanted to make.  I have cast on and am working on the bottom border.
I knew I wanted a lace project for me.  So I am going to use this for the bottom border of the sweater, instead of your typical ribbing.  I calculated that I need about 41 repeats.  I am on number 7 right now.  Needless to say, I have a way to go.  Once the lace is finished, I will need to pick up the stitches for the body along the straight edge.  Of course I need to add a bit of shaping as I go along.   It will be either a raglan or set in sleeve.
I had some qualms about starting another sweater for me.  I do have baby knitting to work on, both for grandnephew number 4, as well as for Little Whose It, my grandchild.  But after all, I did take finish two sweaters this year that were started years before.  Even if this lingers on a while, while I work on the baby knitting, I will have still whittled down the project pile this year.
No updates on the SWestie shawl.  I hope to block it on Monday and will post official finished pictures after that.

Friday, June 20, 2014

60's Movies, Late 50's Too

After an evening watching old Doris Day and Rock Hudson movies last night, I find it don't find them nearly as much fun as I used to.
It isn't just the hindsight when I see Rock Hudson in the romantic lead.  The closeups and semi-closeups of Ms. Day drive me crazy with the blurry picture.  How could I not notice the vaseline or filters or what ever they used on the lens back then?  I blame my youth when I first saw them, but what about the rest of the world?
And did anyone really dress like that?  I mean how practical were coats with one button?  And with elbow length sleeves?
A kinder gentler time back then perhaps, but very strange.  Although it did produce my favorite movie of all time:
The Blob, starring an unknown by the name of Steve McQueen.

Knitting Again

One of my plans for my knitting this year was to re-assess my Works in Progress and decide if they were worth continuing or ready for the frog pond.
This project was the front and a few inches of the back of The Shapely Tee.  The project was so old that I hadn't even started Ravelry when this was cast on.  At a guess I would say I began around 2008 or so.
The yarn is South West Trading Company's Pure, 100% Soysilk and those balls on the foot stool represent all the frogging.  The yarn is much less purple and more fuchsia in real life.
The yarn is soft, and I really like it.  It drapes well and has a nice sheen.
I even swatched it last night.
So now I am trying to decide on a pattern.  The gauge is different than what I had mind. I punt and use math to adapt the pattern?  Even the book with different gauges and sizes will need math.  My gauge is between sizes.  It was fine before I washed it, but it grew in its bath.  I am learning that swatches need to be washed before measuring.
And why all the fussing about what to do with all this found yarn?
This is done, all but the blocking.
My SWestie Shawl.  Finished project 13 for 2014.  The shaping shows best in this picture of Gertrude from the side.You can see the deep point in the back.  You can also see that there is another corner coming from over the shoulders.  Not quite so deep but still a point.  It is pretty much how I imagined it as I was winging my way with it.  Don't you like when a pattern works out as pictured in your head?   I think it will block out with the points almost meeting in front, almost square.  I really like it. Now I just need to finish making my blocking frame.
And see what I am holding? That is all the yarn I had left over after my stretchy cast off.
That's what I call cutting it close. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Berry Patch

After discovering that the neighborhood strawberry patch was open for the season, I paid a visit.  I also dragged along a friend who hadn't known where this U-pick farm was.
No, I am not that good at berry picking.  She offered to take my picture and at the same time had me hold both of our carriers.  I only got about 4 quarts.  This old girl just cannot bend over as much as I used to, without getting dizzy.  I had to quit before the end of the row.
Perhaps I can do better next time.
And there will be a next time.  Remember Lil' Farm Gal?  I offered to spend one day a week with her now that school is out.  She spends alternate weeks at her dad's during the summer, but when she is here, I will be spending time with her.  I plan to take her berry picking next week.   We will see how well we can do then.  She is bound to be better than Older Son was.  He ate most of the berries he picked when I took him, years ago.
I may also have found out why I kept finding links in the blog titles.  I hopefully have that problem solved.  As a result, I think I have a blog template I like and will stay with for a while.  I kept changing the blog template to try to correct the problem.  There should be a measure of stability in the background once again.

Monday, June 16, 2014


Last week, after the last day of school, the state, I think, closed the main east/west road into town. I mean barricades and everything  They have been putting in drains, curbs on corners, and I think they are going to repave.  Nice improvements.  But since, as I mentioned, it is the main road into town from the west side.
There is, of course an official detour.  It takes people about three miles north of town, and across to the main north/south road of the area.  But, since the Midwest is laid out in grids of roads, we tend to find our own detours and shortcuts.  And this summer, apparently our road is the shortcut of choice.
Luckily, the planting season is mostly over, but chopping hay will begin soon, if indeed it hasn't already.  All those city folks used to zipping along are not going to take kindly to that.  They already are rather impatient at the occasional tractor and trailer.  It is a risk to even get the mail.
Its going to be a long summer.
On the family front, Hubby is doing okay.  The doctor put him on BP medication and it is coming down.  It is still a work in progress though.
I decided to skip the lace bindoff all together on my SWestie Shawl.  I am going with plain old garter stitch.  I just hope I can do a loose enough bind off.
I am not ruling out a row or two of eyelets soon.  Just for variety.  

Friday, June 13, 2014

Second Verse, Same as the First

Well, maybe it's the third verse by now. Once again I have ripped back the lace bind from my SWestie shawl. I had ten repeats finished and was already panicked that I was going to run out of yarn.

It looked great. But after weighing the remaining yarn and having some "fun" with math, I knew I would run out. Drat.

So now I am trying to decide how to finish it. I could do a third repeat of the Lacy V that I still have left. And follow that with some garter stitch instill I am close to running out and just finish with a stretchy bind off. But all my little markers have been removed that separate the repeats. Right now I am leaning to just working several rows of garter. I am still thinking while it sits in timeout.

I want to get this done to start baby knitting.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Busy Week

What a week it has been. And it is only Thursday.
Monday Hubby's Medicare supplement insurance had a home health evaluation.  As a result of finding his blood pressure slightly elevated we needed to buy a monitor to test it. (When I say slightly, I mean high.)  They called back yesterday and when I gave them the readings, they said we better not wait the three weeks the doctor mentioned to schedule a doctor appointment.
So, today I went with him to town and got him checked out.  He is on meds for blood pressure, and has a blood test scheduled for tomorrow.  He even got a quick EKG.  And we have orders to call in his BP readings on Saturday when the doctor is on duty this weekend.  Thank God he has insurance, even if I don't.
So Hubby is a work in progress for a while.  I guess I will be attending his appointments with him.  Apparently when he went in with pneumonia a year and a half ago, the doctor told him it was elevated, and that he should have it checked further.  With me hanging out on future visits, I can assure you, the doctor will be listened to.
And while working socks and shawls and scarves on the knitting front, I discovered that I may need to throw out all my summer knitting plans.  Besides a grand-nephew due in September, it was confirmed by sonogram that all is progressing well with Older Son and Farm Gal's baby due in December.  I guess I may just give grandma knitting another shot.  For the time being to be referred to here as little Whose It.
Maybe I can even dig out this baby sweater kit again.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

There's a Time

Anyone remember the song from the 60's or 70's "Turn, Turn, Turn"?  It was by the Animals, I think. I haven't checked on YouTube. But the song was based on Ecclesiastes 3. "For everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven."
My knitting went like that yesterday.
I went with Hubby to get a set of tires in Muskegon yesterday. I took along my sock project and made a lot of progress on it. The yarn is from Yarn Hallow. It is a merino and tencel blend so it has a great sheen. the color is Spoumi and I love it. Bright and cheery.
If you look closely, the needle is positioned just above the ribbing. I ended up ripping back to the ribbing and starting over. No fault of the pattern or yarn. It was an user interface error. The textured pattern I chose didn't show up in the busy yarn. So rip it back and change to change plain vanilla generic socks. Much more suitable to this yarn.
All this happened after I had begun the lace bind off on the SWestie Shawl.
I loved how it was working,but after some analysis of the rows knit with the first ball, I was afraid I would run out of yarn before finishing. That's the trouble using stash yarn. This is a discontinued color of Gloss from KnitPicks.
I deliberated some more after packing it away and this morning picked a shorter stitch count with a better chance of not running out of yarn. And once again I ripped.
I'm glad I didn't wait until I ran out of yarn.
Yes, there is a time for every purpose under heaven. That old Preacher was pretty wise.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pentecost, With Tongues

Sunday was the Day of Pentecost. Also known in history and fairy tales as Whitsunday, it is the day celebrated in the church as when the Holy Spirit came into the Apostles a d they began spreading the Gospel around Jerusalem, speaking in the languages of the many people in the streets. "People from from far away places, with strange sounding names."

At least that is how many of us who read the lessons would like to paraphrase the long list of countries that occur in the lesson from Acts traditionally read that day. This year we tried something a little different at St. John's.

I and another parishioner were talking about the reading a couple weeks ago. Since the lesson deals with the Apostles speaking in the tongues and languages of these "far away countries", he said he should do the reading in Russian, since he was lector. Well after thinking about that (never a good thing), I suggested we go one better. We found someone who would be willing to read in Spanish, and another who can do American Sign Language. I volunteered for the English version. And after okaying it with the priest, we did that Acts reading yesterday in all the languages we had available.

Mike started us with a verse in Russian. I then repeated it slowly in English while Bonnie signed. Then Kris in Spanish followed by Bonnie and I again. Mike and Kris alternated languages though the whole reading.

It was kind of fun. I think the congregation liked it, even if we were a little longer going through it. I only wish, with our town's rich Dutch heritage, we could have also had someone read some of the verses in Dutch!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Yes, She Liked It

I managed to make connections with Farm Gal, and Lil' Farm Gal and delivered the sweater.  As I told her, just in time for it to be too hot to wear it. But maybe there will be some cool evenings.
I think she liked it.  It was rather warm at the time, so we didn't shift it around or button it, but it looked good.  
I have continued with the SWestie shawl and working through the lace pattern again.  And I have also worked on the car sock project.  The heel is complete and turned, with the gussets in progress.  It is far enough along that I can return it to the car for emergency knitting.  And yes, there is such a thing. 
Since she wouldn't move for pictures, small dog is once again included for details.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Operation Overlord

Seventy years ago, the world changed.  The Allies fought back, and this time, eventually won.  It is so sad that so many today, don't know why this day is special.  I don't know enough, but what I do know awes me.
So many young boys and men who died that day.
One think I do know is about my family.  I ventured to the city veterans memorial last week and got some pictures.  My dad and two of his brothers served in World War II.
I don't know where my uncles were on D-Day.  I'm not sure what they did in the army, although I think it was something automotive related.  (Do any of my cousins know?) I do know that when their father (my grandpa) died in August of 1945, they were both still in England, and according to one of their sisters, they wanted to remember their dad the way he was, and did not return for his funeral.
Dad on the other hand was home on D-Day, or at least back in the states.  Not because he hadn't joined yet, but because he had enlisted, and was severely wounded in September 1943, while serving with Darby's Rangers.  He was recovering from his wounds, and would not return.
But for Uncle Don, Dad, and Uncle Howard, and all those who served in that and other conflicts, my thanks, and admiration to you all.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Life on a Farm--Part 2

I neglected to mention the other day the other excitement on the farm.
We have a fairly small farm, only 40 acres, and have one small tractor, an older model Oliver.

But the other day we were invaded.
Older Son works for a local farmer with a large farm and who handles the field work for other large area farms.  He had once before raised his own corn in our back field, since we no longer grow corn.  The field is all of 3 acres.  This year, the ground was dry enough for the heavy equipment.  And heavy equipment we got.
When Hubby used to plan corn, he would disc it and manure it, disc it, drag it, and eventually plant it.
As I said, the heavy equipment was here around noon. And by 7:00 Monday evening, it was planted.  While the tractor pictured here was not used, a couple just as big were, only they had wheels.
Modern technology is wonderful, even in a little 3 acre field.  I hope I can catch a ride in the corn picker this fall.
And for the knitting fans, I will share where I am on the SWestie Shawl.  I have finished one repeat, and am ready to begin another.  I may only have enough yarn for a repeats, depending on the bind off I decide to use, once I get that far.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Life on a Farm

Hubby seems to enjoy the fact that I am unemployed at the moment.  He is constantly having me come out to the barn to hold the trouble light, push this, pull that, etc.  Today we both went to deliver "The Beef" to our meat processor of choice.  (All animals become named The Beef once they are designated for the freezer.)
With that delivered we then proceeded to the auction sale barn where Hubby had purchased a small (tiny) calf to replace The Beef on the farm.  
Meet little #54.  We get rid of one.  We get a new one.  Life on the farm.  
We also had breakfast out.  Whoo hoo!  Morning date time! For Farm Mom here, sometimes that is as good as it can get.
Meanwhile on the knitting front, the recently completed sweater will be delivered tonight.  I have pretty much decided to start the Shetland shawl before I start the sweater I have envisioned.   I would need to swatch the yarn I have planned on using.  And since I want to also use a lace pattern on the body and possibly lower sleeves, with a stockinette upper body/yoke/sleeves it will take some planning.  I had wanted to use a Custom Fit pattern for it.  But that would only handle one stitch pattern.  The lace part would have me on my own.  I am not sure if I really want to try the pattern fudging with my good yarn.  Or, if I were practical,  I would just use stockinette with a simple lace insert up both sides and center back.  That would be similar to the gray cabled cardigan I made last year.
Since all that is up in the air until I decide exactly what I want to do, I continue work on my SWestie shawl.  I almost have a complete lace repeat done, so will be able to share pictures of the new section soon.  I also pulled out my sock projects to work on.  The car sock project is at the heel and I want to work that past the turn before returning to the car.  My home/travel socks are barely started, but will be good to take to Knit Night.  The lace on the shawl does have some plain rows, but on the two pattern rows mean it not good as the only project for Knit Night.  Hence the socks in the bag for a while.
And one last life note, I did hear of a great sounding job.  I put in an inquiry.  But, alas!  It was for a volunteer position.  While I would love the gig, I cannot afford to drive to a non-paying job.
I shall continue to freelance from home I guess.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Great Weekend

Lil Farm Gal's sweater is blocking on my bed. So far, Leo our humongous skinny cat is merely laying next to blocking mat.  I hope he stays there.
Some of you who follow me on Facebook may have seen some of my pictures taken Saturday at the Open House at Chickasaw Farm.  Usually they have it when shearing, but the last few years have been a bit chilly and rain.  So they videoed the shearing done early.  They had baby lambs, alpacas, demonstrations, and vendors selling some of their hand crafted items.
There was hand dyed wool, hand dyed and/or spun yarn.  One of my friends, in addition to her wool that she raises as well as dyes, brought her massage table.  It seemed to be a very popular item as well.
I took the loom that I have for sale.  No takers, but one of the vendors was interested.  I left it with the farm owner.  She and others in her co-op go to several fiber shows through the summer and she thinks she may be able to sell it for me.  Anything to avoid Craigslist.  I'm just leery about trying that.
Other than the loom, I had nothing to sell, so I mostly tried to avoid the sun.  And other than a bit of burn on one knee, I did all right.  I finished the garter band at the color change on my SWestie shawl, and was able to start the new pattern when I got home.  Great day all in all.
And I didn't quite melt.