Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Family Happenings (and a Little Knitting)

While some of my Facebook friends have heard, I know other blog followers do not. Especially one follower who is currently off Facebook. I found out yesterday that Older Son and Farm Girl (mother of Lil' Farm Gal)will be getting married. Yea! And next month too!

I am just old fashioned enough to hope they would marry. Yet I didn't want to nag or push them. To say I am excited is a bit of an understatement. The wedding will be on their farm, and they have a large yard and lots of empty floor on the barn in case of wet weather.

A little closer to home, Hubby has been responding to his blood pressure meds. While not perfect, it is much improved from what it was. The downside is that he has really been hit by one side effect. Drowsiness. Although he is way beyond drowsy. He is practically catatonic.

Well maybe not that bad. But some days he dozes, or sleeps off and on for 16 to 20 hours. And that is after being on the meds for a month. After checking with the doctor, we were told that could last up to 2months.

So for now, since Younger Son's ride to work has fallen through (again!), Hubby is going to continue to take him to work in the evening. He usually has his awake time then. And I am going to do the morning run to pick him up at 6:00 am. (Yawn!) I always had to get up Hubby anyway at 5, so now I'll just stay up longer. On most mornings I can then take a quick nap when I get home. That way Hubby can get a solid nights sleep.

It seems to be working somewhat. He didn't need to pick him up last week while he was still riding with a co-worker. And Sunday Hubby was up longer than usual. Yesterday he was up and on the go all day. And he got up late, but seems to be ok and is even visiting a neighbor today.

And I did mention a little knitting.

i have made a bit of progress on the Sweet Pea Cardigan. The color in the upper left is the closest to the true color. You can see the texture better below.

I had to rethink my original slip stitch pattern. Instead, on the fourth row, I knit one, purl one. On the eighth row I purl one, knit one. The rest is stockinette.

Easy Peasy.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Granny on Duty

This past week, I not only got my regular day with Lil Farm Gal, but the next day as well.
It seems the day care was going to be closed so Lil Farm Gal and I got to have two days together.  On Wednesday, (the same day the farm was getting fertilized) we went on a field trip across the neighboring county for a dairy farm tour.  They are locally well known as a independent farm that processes their own milk and cheese and ice cream. They even drove the right color tractor.  That is an important thing in the farming community.  The tour began with a video of the farm history and then a walking tour around the facilities.  No pictures, I'm afraid, but the moochies (cheese curds) and their chocolate milk sample were wonderful.  
After dessert, followed by lunch, we also took a side trip to pick up a prize I won during the baby food festival.  Then home and tv before attending to her afternoon chores.
The next day was fairly quiet, since we had spent the wad the day before.  She came along for an hour meeting I had to attend. and then a little shopping before heading home for quiet time again.
I am so glad I got an extra day this week.  My next regular time would have been during the fair, but she is going to her aunts for the week for a fair in Indiana.  Only one time more until school starts, unless we can get together the Friday of fair week.
After all this, and while the sleeves were getting finished, I did start to think about starting another project.   I dug out some yarn I had purchased a year ago,when we had hoped for a grandchild.  It turned out to be the wrong weight for the project I had planned, so I dove into the Ravelry pattern pool again.
I found a simple riff on a top-down raglan sweater out of fingering weight, called Sweet Baby Sweater.  It calls for two different yarns, a variegated yarn (left from a pair of socks?) perhaps for the yoke, and a solid for the sleeves and body.  I decided to go with the yarn I had and add a texture pattern to the plain stockinette.  I call it Sweet Pea Cardigan.
The yarn is less mint green and more pea green.  I have cast on and progressed an inch or two.  It should be a easy but interesting knit with the texture.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Brown Gold?

One day last week Older Son called and asked if his dad wanted to have some manure spread on our hay fields, now that the hay is off.  After a few calls back and forth, at the end of the day there was a large hose being dragged across our field from the farm a half mile away.
It was quite the production.
I had never seen it being spread that way.  One end of the hose was hooked to a pump at the "pit."  The one on our field was attached to a tractor with a pump and sprayer.  And then, as seen here, it zig-zagged across our hayfields spreading brown goodness here and there.
All told, we got 4 coats on the fields.  The smell wasn't as bad as I was afraid it might have been.  After it dried, it was hardly noticeable.  We even slept with the windows open. 
On the knitting front, I have been working as well.  Not on the lace shawl though.  That requires too much time without interruption.  Instead, I have finished both sleeves for Lil' Laban's Wallaby.  
Now, its just plain knitting for a ways, to fuse the pocket into place and join the sleeves.  Good position for Knit Night knitting.  
Maybe it is time to start thinking about something new to cast on. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wallaby Time for "Laban"

With the completion of the two Baby Sophisticates and matching hat, it is time to turn to a Wallaby for Little Laban.  The yarn had already been selected and was ready to jump onto the needles.  (The link is to the Ravelry project page.)
Beautiful Encore in shades of blue and green.  It was soon zipping along.  Shortly after the ribbing was complete and the stockinette established, I pulled my usual trick and made the pocket flap.  I find it easier to pick up the pocket stitches before I go as far on the body as the pattern calls for.
 After finishing the pocket flap I also cast on for the first sleeve.  I like having them done and ready to add when I get to the yoke.  Lizzie once again graciously posed for scale.  Well, okay.  She had claimed to footstool for her nap and wasn't going to move.
The other reason for getting some of the fussy parts of the knitting done is to have at least one easy, non-fussy project for knit nite.
My Plain Old Boysenberry Pi is going surprisingly well.  I am 10 rows into the next pattern section.  It now starts to change from the previous pattern.  I think it will be easier than I thought.  Although I am looking to change out the section following this.  I am even considering making the eyelet rings like I did in my Leftover Pi that I made with my leftover sock yarn.  I may do some rounds of eyelets, and the some other lace pattern.  After all I will have up to 96 rows to play with over 576 stitches.
I think that leaves a bit of room for creativity.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Projects 14, 15 and 16 for 2014

I finished the hat for Little Whose It.  The sweaters and hat were set out to block yesterday under the watchful eye of Leo.
I think he wanted to make sure they didn't harm the wool blanket at the foot of the bed. The plaid wool blanket at the foot of the bed was in the cleaners nearly all last week.  Both Leo and Lizzie were traumatized by its absence.  Leo crawls underneath it to take his afternoon naps.  And Lizzie invariably curls up on it at night.  The animals obviously share my love for soft breathable wool.   The blanket itself is over 60 years old as it was one of my parents wedding presents.
The hat and sweater look great together and I think will be perfect for a December baby.  Here is a pre-blocking photo.
They do look lighter and more purple than in real life.  The actual sweaters are a deep wine and are perfect "old man" looking sweaters for the two babies.
I hope the mothers like them.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

List: My Favorite Knitting Books

I have shared a lot here about how much I love (and need) knitting.  Some of the books that have helped me to grow in my knitting adventure are classics and others are newer.  I thought I would share some of them with whoever happens to actually read this drivel I write.

  • Knitting Rules, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  I mentioned this one yesterday in my post.  I like this because while it doesn't have actually patterns it has recipes for different items:  hats, scarves, shawls and a great sock recipe. She follows the idea that there are not knitting police, and you are master of what you knit.
  • Knitting Without Tears by Elizabeth Zimmermann.  Actually anything by this great lady...Knitting Workshop, Knitting Around, and Knitter's Almanac.  But this book was the first that I read when I returned to knitting after many years.   EZ (as she is known by her fans) is another person who knit by formulas and not hard core patterns.  While her pithy directions may leave you wondering, they also give you lots of leeway for creativity.
  • Victorian Lace Today byJane Sowerby.  This has actual patterns, but mostly I use this book for inspiration.  I did some commissioned knitting out of this book though and loved it. The patterns are beautiful.  And all the lace is charted.  I can't knit lace without a chart. 
  • The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns and The Knitter's Handy Book of Top-Down Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd.  I have made several sweaters using these books.  Again they are recipe or formula type books.   I also have her The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns.  Just have to make me a swatch and I can knit anything.
  • A Treasury of Knitting Patterns and A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker.  What list is complete without these?  Not a regular knitting pattern but many many stitch patterns: lace, cables, knit/purl.  Any simple pattern can be stepped up with the addition of these stitch patterns.  Any new project from Ann Budds book also involves a stroll through these books.
  •  Cast On Bind Off by Leslie Ann Bestor. Ironically two books came out at nearly the same time with this name.  This is the version with 54 methods, although I have both books.  I find the one with over 100 methods too overwhelming, and not that much difference between some of them.  This smaller book has come in very handy, when I was looking for provisional cast ons and stretchy ones.  There were several choice to go over and I could pick the one I liked best. 
While there are many other books that I have and love, these are some I wouldn't want to do without.  And I think any knitter could go far with just these.
What are some of your favorites?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Loving the Cool

Temperatures that is.  Yesterday I actually was able to wear something other than shorts and sleeveless top.  A cool wave went through and I am digging this weather.  I even got the house cooled down.  I actually shut the window to keep it from getting too cool.  By Hubby's standards, I could have stood it cooler.
On the way home from Knit Night last night I beat the pop up showers, although it looked like some would be soon on the way.
My knitting has been mostly on either the Boysenberry Pi, or on the Baby Hat since finishing the pair of sweaters.  I have enough ribbing on the hat done that I will shortly begin the decreases.
I am guessimating the size, using Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's excellent book "Knitting Rules" for hats.  I added to the length, figuring on turning the brim.  This is for a December baby after all.  I know it looks narrow, but it IS ribbing after all, two by two over 56 stitches on size 8 needles.  
Then once this is done, I am thinking its time for that Wallaby hoodie for my newest grandnephew, Little Laban to hit the needles.  (And yes, I know that is probably not going to be the real name)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Garden Goodies on the Way

Now Hubby and I may not be the best gardeners, but what we grow, we grow with gusto.  We also have a good crop of weeds.  But along with the weeds, we do have some produce to eat.
I mentioned how I managed to save the blue potato plants while Hubby was in the hospital.  We have a dozen or so of both the blue potatoes and Yukon Gold potatoes.  (Although I think they need spraying again.
We also have quite a few sweet potatoes plants.  They hadn't been rototilled in some time. The weeds were definitely taking over.  I helped out by trying to keep the vines out of way while Hubby ran the rototiller between the rows.
If you look close you can see the bright orange marker by each sweet potato plant in the row that was done.  Hubby takes a metal rod style fence post and cuts off the rods in half and paints them orange to use as markers.  Then when the potato plants die back, we still know where to dig. 
Here is one of the plants up close. 
They sure do throw out the vines. 
We also have on early and one late row of green beans,  as well as sweet corn.  One row planted about 3 weeks ahead of another two.  Of course we have tomatoes,  3 Heinz variety, 3 yellow (I think), 3 Bonnie Best and 3 cherry.  We had 2 but thought one died.  After I purchased another plant, the dead one revived.   But that is ok.  We love to eat tomatoes.  There is nothing better than a toasted whole wheat tomato and mayo sandwich.  But only with home grown tomatoes.  I don't eat tomatoes from the store..too tasteless.
Hubby has a few squash plants, and I also purchased a couple bush cucumber plants.
Yesterday I picked and ate the first cucumber of the season.  Yummy!  
I'd show you a picture of it, but I scarfed it down too quick.   I love summer produce.  

Monday, July 14, 2014

A Purple Haze? No, It's Deep Red

I managed to finish both of the Baby Sophisticate sweaters for Little Whose It, and Little Laban this past week.  The buttons are gray with a bit of texture.  I had purchased them for my black cotton cardigan and then chose others.  But they look fine here.
The yarn is really more of a wine color and not as purple as the flash makes it look.  I love the little old man look that they have.  Since I had a fairly sizable ball of yarn left after finishing the smaller sweater, I cast on a wee little watch cap for Whose It.  
That makes finished projects 14 and 15 for the year.  The hat will be 16.
And then,  I returned to the Plain Old Boysenberry Pi.
Gosh, do you think I am in a color rut?   This may be the last time I will be able to get much of a picture of this.  As it grows, it will be harder and harder to spread out enough to show the pattern.  I hopefully have made the last needle jump, now that it is on a 32 inch needle.  It is at least much cooler to knit than large heavy sweaters.  I love knitting lace weight for summer. 
Other news on the family front.  Little Whose It will be Little Farm Boy.  Although only 18 weeks along, he managed to show he was all boy on the last sonogram.  That means I will soon turn to knitting in blue.  After all the previously purchased yarn is used up that is.
There already is yarn for Little Laban's Wallaby (a pocket hoodie sweater), the one for Little Farm Boy, as well as the yarn kit I bought last summer.  I think I am ready to make that one soon too. Those are all easy knits,  and with my Pi as a more intense project, I may never get to my Plumcake sweater. I really had planned on that this summer.
But babies are the best reasons for knitting plans to be upset.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Anticipation Is Keeping Me Waiting

Thanks, Carly Simon, for that reminder.  Anticipation is exciting, but it is keeping me waiting for that little bundle due in December.  One way that waiting plays out, of course, is in my knitting.
I recently finished a Baby Sophisticate in the 12 month size.  (The link will direct you to my Ravelry project page.  You can see the project details and pictures taken while the knitting was in progress.  I will try to use this feature more often to share updates.  Now that I know how to do it.)
This sweater is all done but the buttons and weaving in of the loose ends.  I took a good look at it and as I mentioned before, I immediately cast on the six month size.  It is coming along nicely.
I have only one more sleeve and then the front bands and collar on the 6 inch size.  But because I was nearing the end of the first sleeve just before Knit Nite Tuesday, I decided on taking other things with me.
 One of those things was an old project that is suddenly new again.
I refer to my Pi Shawl that I started in 2010 for Elizabeth Zimmermann's birthday.  The lace patterns meant that it was a project requiring more concentration than I wanted to give it at the time, and it fell woefully behind.  The reason I turned to it now was that I had tripped and fallen into that vast time suck called the Ravelry Patterns database.  It shows whatever pattern you want to search for.  And not only that, but versions of the pattern knit by others.  If people post a picture they have knit of the pattern, as I did for the two links above.  So between looking at all the patterns, and the Pi Shawl pattern in general, I had to dig out my Pi.
It was either that, or cast on something new.
And I really didn't want that to happen.  Since at the beginning of the year, one of my knitting resolutions was to "rethink" about some of my forgotten projects, I decided to pull out the started Pi shawl.
Non-knitters may not realize the significance of either Elizabeth Zimmermann or the Pi shawl.  She is a British born knitter, who married a German beer-maker who came to America, settled in Wisconsin and became a knitting genius and guru to legions of knitters.  She has written several books that are well loved by her fans.  I proudly call myself one of them.  She had a no-nonsense approach to knitting that appealed to me: There are no knitting police, or if you make a mistake and can't or don't want to go back to re-knit it, call it a design element and go forth boldly.  I date my beginning as a real Knitter as opposed to casual knitter from the time I discovered her.  The Pi Shawl is one of her classic patterns, and a very adaptable one.  It can be knit plain.  It can be knit with oodles of lace.  If any of you remember my shawl/blanket that I made in 2012 with a strand of black sock yarn, knit together with a strand of various left over sock yarn scraps.  ( I am really liking this linking to projects.  Here is the Leftover Pi.)
In the case of Boysenberry Pi, it is going to be knit in the classic simpler lace pattern that EZ first envisioned.  It is very intuitive, as long as it is set up correctly.  Of course I may make some changes.  I was considering adding a row of hearts around the final edge, before adding the lace edging.  That heart pattern is part of the lace of the pattern I just ripped back, but maybe I can face one repeat.  We will see what happens when I get that far.  That will be many, many rows from now.   Because I did rip back a couple inches, salvaging the inside rows, I was able to avoid casting on again.  And I was able to salvage some of the original knitting.
And of course, there is still much knitting for babies going on.  I need a Wallaby (hoodie) for the new great-nephew, and one for Whose It.  As well as the rainbow sweater kit I bought last year for my grandchild, and oh, so much more.  I gotta keep my grandbaby warm after all.  Probably a blankie too.  I think I have some wool to use for that.
Babies sure do change knitting plans. But I love the anticipation.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In the Nick of TIme

Last week's medical episode interferred with Hubby's plan for the hayfield.  The day after we got home, after making sure he was feeling okay, Hubby checked with our neighbor who bales our hay.  They said go ahead and cut it all.
So he did.
And over the next couple days, it was raked.....
and baled.
113 bales of fresh, sweet smelling hay.
Our hay is mostly grassy hay, with a bit of clover and alfalfa in one area of one field.  But we also have quite a bit of trefoil.  Here is a picture of trefoil. 
It has finer leaves and stalks than clover, but makes great hay.  The funny thing is, that most is self seeded.  Our farthest field was seeded with it quite some time ago.  The process of bouncing the bales along on the spear, on the trip back to the barn apparently shakes off some of the seed.  Because now all of our fields have quite a bit of trefoil.  And they get more and more each cutting. 
Kind of nice when you don't have to buy seed to get a great field of hay.  
The best part of the haying process this year so far, is that just a few hours after the last was baled,  the rain came.  Nothing was rained on before baling. 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Back to Knitting,

First off, Hubby is doing fine.  His blood pressure meds need adjusting, as it is a bit higher than it had been.  Probably because of no diuretics, and not drinking as much coffee.  I told him he could cut back a bit on water, at least until we see the doctor tomorrow.
As I said before, his stint in the hospital did cut into my knitting some.  I had hoped to finish the Baby Sophisticate sweater last Monday.  Instead, it didn't come off the needles until July 3.  I took my car sock project into ER with me and finished the gussett and about half of the instep on Monday.  Tuesday I took a scarf project, but was too busy to get much done with that.
However, by Thursday, in between keeping an eye on Hubby while he played in the hayfield, I managed to finish the Baby Sophisticate, 12 month size.
After looking it over, I decided that since my little Whose It is due in December, that perhaps this sweater should be designated for my nephew's baby due in September.  So, for Little Laban it is.  (That is just my name for him.  It is a family name and they have two L's already.  I have a hunch that name won't past muster though.)
So I immediately cast on another in the 6 month size for Whose It.  I probably won't bore you with pictures.  The first sweater took almost all of one skein.  Since I bought two skeins, (Lions Brand Heartland, Isle Royale colorway), the second will be just like the first, just smaller.
I did find buttons in the button bin for this.  I had purchased some gray ones for possible use on the black cotton cardigan finished this past January. Since they weren't used on that, I think with the yarn's blue undertones, they will work well for these sweaters.
The second sweater is steaming right along.  I'm past the yoke and chugging through the body.  Maybe I can start sleeves tonight.  Once this sweater is done, I will go back and weave ends on both and sew on buttons.
Even though they are on the same project page on my Ravelery list, I can still call them 14 and 15 finished for the year, once they are both finished off.

Friday, July 4, 2014

One More Thing

I forgot to mention the most traumatic thing about doing chores. After I got home Monday, Younger Son was already at work, having gotten a ride with a friend. The hay bins looked low, and since I wasn't sure they had been filled, t decided to take a fork full of hay to each pen.

I couldn't reach all the feed bins without going through squishy "animal by-products" I forked some onto the cleanest floor I could reach from adjoining empty pens. Just as I filled up my first forkful, I spied a hole in the side of the standing big bale. I also then remembered that Hubby had told me there was a snake in the bale. He had thought it was dead, but the next day it was gone.

Gulp! I hate snakes.

And I fear them with a fear so great that when I ran over one in the car, I picked up my feet. And here I was with a load of possibly snake filled hay. No way was I going to carry that over my shoulder! So I made three trips awkwardly holding the fork of hay in front of me. No snakes spotted.

But there was a snake skin on top of the bale. (Shudder!)

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Life on the Farm--Solo Edition.

What a week!  Not much knitting, but a good portion of this week was spent at the hospital, with Hubby.
I posted updates on FaceBook about the excitement Hubby gave me Monday.  He ended up spending the night in the hospital after being dehydrated.  Not drinking anything, even coffee will do that.  Especially when the doctor has prescribed diuretics for blood pressure.  After testing and making sure the heart was okay, he came home Tuesday with no restrictions, other than to slow down if he feels the need.  And drink lots of water.  Often.
Meanwhile, I was left to run Younger Son to and from work. (And "from" is at 6am!)  And I had to make sure chores got done.  Younger Son handled most of them, haying and watering the cattle in the barn.  But the main job I had left was to take a bucket of milk replacer to the rambunctious calf we have housed in the old chicken coop.
Hubby gave me the recipe to mix it up.  The hard part was to get in the coop with the calf without wearing the milk replacer or dropping the bucket.  The calf had a refreshing habit of drinking quietly for a bit, and then giving the bucket a head-butt.  Luckily, I managed to hold on the first time.  After that, I braced the bucket against the side of the building.
I survived the feeding the first evening.  I came home in the early afternoon, after good news at the hospital to try another feeding and check the other chores.  While going past the garden, I noticed the potato plants looked a bit shabby.  Oh oh.  Hubby gone 24 hours and his blue potatoes were covered in bugs.  I looked in the garage and found the sprayer.  Giving it a good shake, I could tell there was spray in it.  I pumped it up and started to spray the buggy plants.  Only when the garden was half covered did I wonder if it was really Sevin spray, or if it was water, or (horrors!) weed killer.
Too late by then to do anything about it.
Luckily, once Hubby came home that evening, he said it was bug killer, not plant killer.  I followed him around as he checked out everything.  Cattle had been fed, so he added a bit more water to the tank, checked the calf, and sprayed the rest of the potatoes.
I didn't kill or lose anything while running the farm. And Hubby has a clean bill of health, as long as he drinks lots of water.
Next time...my knitting.