------------------------------- ------------------------------------ On and Off The Needles

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Winter just isn't letting up for a minute this year. Another foot or so of snow is headed our way tonight and all day tomorrow. It has been brutally cold these past few days, so at least it has to warm up a little to snow (I'd be happy to hit the mid 20's!). The snowblower is getting quite the workout this year!

Dad's mittens are progressing quickly, as colorwork seems to do! I am just about done with the top, and then I just have to pick up and knit the thumb, then one will be complete. The pattern is showing up very nicely in the colors I chose.

Dad's First Mitten
I like the little braid detail between the cuff and mitten body too. A very, very cool technique! Once this first mitten is complete, I can move on to the second.

Poor Otis was back in surgery yesterday. His tail didn't heal from the last time and pretty much split back open where the stitches were. They had to take off a bit more and stitch him up again. I feel so bad for him.
Otis After Surgery #3
He is getting lots of loving and special attention while he's healing.....

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sunny Sock!

We got hit with another blast of winter weather this past weekend - another foot of snow (luckily more light and fluffy stuff that's easy to move) and more bitter temperatures. This week seems to be a break in the pattern of snow every few days though. Sunny and bright all week, though this weekend the temps are supposed to plummet again. When does Spring start?

In order to warm the mind (and the feet) I finished up the first Gent's Shooting Stocking for Naomi. The pattern is really easy to memorize and makes for a really textured and super duper stretchy sock.

First Gents Shooting Sock
I'm really happy with how the yarn is not pooling at all. None, zippo! A very pleasant surprise! I decreased a bit more in the toe to add a few rows of length where I needed them, other than that, it's knit to the pattern.

In the mitten department, I scrapped the design I was working on. Frustration led to real annoyance with the pattern so I just put it aside. It's on a big time out for now and maybe I will pick it up again in a few weeks. So, instead, I turned to the miracle worker again - Nancy Bush. Kalev's Mittens (Rav link. Flickr link here) struck both my sister and I as a pattern we thought dad would like. Plus, to me it looks like little coffee beans, and his winter walks often take him to Starbucks, so I thought they'd be perfect.

So I have plenty to work on right now in the knitting department (yes, for me two WIP's is plenty!). Plus, I have to fix hubby's first sock (that will make it three!)which will involve ripping back to the heel and making the foot longer.

On Saturday, Ace and I headed to New Hampshire for an AKC agility trial. Just one day indoors with single digit temps outside all day. It was a fun trial, although it ran a bit long (the trials with only one ring tend to be very long even though they limit the entries). We did our last run around 6pm. I am proud to say that Ace came away from the day going three for three with a second and two first places! He also got his Novice Standard title which moves us up into Open. He is so much fun to run - I get really nervous and excited before every run! Thinking about it, we've only actually had 9 runs together so we are still in the infancy stages, but I can only imagine where it will go from here! His speed is also coming along too. As he gains confidence out there, he has gained some speed too! Our next trial isn't until March. We tried for one in February, but got wait listed. Boo.
Open Jumpers (1st Place)

Novice Standard (1st Place)

Friday, January 16, 2009

Pile on the Woolies!

It is cold. Beyond cold. Way beyond freezing even (heck, if it was 32 degrees, we'd be breaking out the shorts!). Yesterday was cold. Single digit temps, with a bit of a breeze. This morning, it was just brutal.

Cold Morning
It actually dropped to -7, but my hands were too cold to get out the camera again. It hurts to breathe outside. The air is so dry that the snow is now "squeaky". I piled on all the fleece and handknits I have to make the trek from the parking garage into work (about a 6 minute walk). I was still cold. Luckily today there is no wind.

The dogs (except Ace, he is Arctic dog!) only go outside when they absolutely have to. Poor Otis - his paws were so cold yesterday afternoon, he plunked himself down in the snow and lifted his feet off the ground! He'll get booties on this afternoon. It is a big day for him - he gets his stitches out! He'll still need to wear the E-Collar for a bit longer, but I'm hoping he can get back to normal soon!

With the chilly temps outside, evenings have been confined to inside activities - like knitting and, for Naomi, spinning!
Blue Raspberry Worsted
This is some superwash Merino in Blue Raspberry she got from Jessica's Esty shop! Since she has pretty much spun up all the fiber she had, she bought some different things to try. She also got some BFL in a beautiful yellow. Anyway, my holiday gift to my mom was a cowl. I wanted to let her pick the pattern, and Naomi offered to spin the yarn! This is her first attempt at spinning thicker than fingering weight. She's really, really good at spinning thin - she can spin cobweb weight if she wanted, so this is a great challenge for her! The thickness of Malabrigo is what she's going for, along with the same, single ply (it's the yarn used in the pattern my mom picked). I think it's coming out great, and the color is just amazing! It's a bluish-purple with hints of a dark pinkish-burgundy color. Dying genius!

Her sock is coming along well - I'm into the gusset decreases The last two socks I did had short row heels. Not my favorite. Heel flap, I have missed you! Short rows are just not my thing. Never have I gotten them to come out really nice. Many methods have been tried, there is just something about picking up the wraps and that whole second half of the heel. Just not pleasant for me. Give me a good 'ol heel flap any day!

The mittens I designed are another story. The corrugated ribbing was done, I had the pattern designed and tweaked and started knitting. Ick. Double Ick. Super Ick. It was just nothing like I wanted and it was not fun to knit.
Back to the Beginning
The previous mitten and cuff are now two balls (beautiful center pull balls, may I add) of yarn again. The cuff will be changed to a ribbed cuff (better for keeping out the weather as my dad is a walker in all sorts of temps) and I have to re-work the design again. Back to the drawing (Excel) board.....

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Bitter Cold
Need I say more? (it has actually gone up a few degrees - my car thermometer said 3 on my way into work.) Time to layer up the handknits!!!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Comfort in the Familiar

When things are up in the air and seem hectic and unorganized, we find comfort in the familiar - be it a dinner we've loved since childhood, a cozy blanket or even, in my case, socks. I have been trying to start a sock for my sister. I've tried the Herringbone Rib Socks, but the pattern and I just didn't click. I also tried the Stansfield 304 pattern, but no luck there either. Things just were not jelling and it was getting frustrating. I finally took a deep breath and went back to what is comfortable and familiar. For socks, that means only one thing - Nancy Bush. I pulled all the books by her I had out and thummed through them. After showing my sister a few options, we settled on the Gentleman's Shooting Stockings. The texture in these socks is wonderful.

Gent's Stockings
It's more of a texture than a pattern, so I think the variegated yarn is going to work ok with it. It's knitting up nice and cushy, and Naomi would like some longer almost knee socks, and with about 500 yds on the skein, I should be able to do that. I have knit so many of Nancy Bush's patterns that the language, her pattern style and everything is just so familiar and comfortable. It feels good. Eventually I hope to knit most if not all of her sock patterns. I'm making my way slowly through them!

Today is also an anniversary of sorts. Four years ago today I learned to knit! It's truly amazing how much I've learned and how many fabulous people I have met both on line and in person. A hobby that has really changed my life! From my first project to the most current, I have to say I have learned something from each of them. Here's to the next four years!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

First FO of 2009!

I'm trying to start the year off with a bang. My knitting momentum seems to be up right now - I'm really enjoying it and am itching to cast on quite a few new projects. But, the monogamous knitter in me keeps things in check. One sock and one other project on the needles. That's it. I'm not too good at multi-tasking my knitting!

The first hat I knit my dad turned out a bit too big. So, I cast on again (coincidentally in the same colors!) and knit him up another. I went down a needle size and did not do the increases after the ribbing. The whole base of the hat is 96 sts up to the point of starting the decreases. It came out pretty cute.

Dad's Second Hat
It is snug on me, so I'm hoping it will fit him better. It was quick and easy - a nice mindless knit with almost instant gratification! I'll probably knit him a few more if it does fit. He wears hats every day inside in the winter! He also needs another pair of socks...hmmm....

To brigten up the dreary days we have been having - snow and freezing rain for pretty much 24 hours straight, and today is just very windy and cold - I cast on for Naomi's next pair of socks.
The yarn is from Ellen's Half-Pint Farm - a whopping 500 yard skein! I knit just the cuff over 60 sts, but am going to I think rip it and start over. It kind of fits, but not great, so I'm thinking of going in a different direction. Originally, we had picked out the Herringbone Rib Socks from this winter's Interweave. The handpainted yarn seemed to go nicely with it. But she's inbetween sizes. I may just delve into a sock book I got and have barely even looked through it. New Pathways for Sock Knitters - book One looks fascinating. New construction and entirely new ways of knitting socks! I'm pretty sure we can find a pattern in there that she will like, and it will be fun to knit socks in a new way!

I'm also still contemplating which yoke sweater to do next. I owe hubby a sweater, so his may be first. The current sweater on the needles for him isn't working gauge wise. A simple yoke sweater with some nice stripes may be a good option....

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Bit of an Unintentional Break

I didn't mean to be away for that long without a post. It's been a bit crazy around here lately. Tucker and I went away for a long weekend up to New Hampshire to an agility trial. There were so many entries that they actually had to cancel some classes. The days were very long - starting around 6:15 and going until about 7pm each night. Days were busy too. Five runs per day for us - kept us on our toes and a bit tired. It took a few days to recover from that!

Otis was healing up pretty well, but in a flash, he had the bandage off and the stitches ripped out. Back to surgery and we are starting the healing process again. I feel so bad for him. I know it must be miserable!

There has also been some knitting. A new, smaller hat for my dad as the last one was a bit big on him. I went down a needle size and did not do the typical increases after the ribbing. Here's hoping for a better fit this time.

Whitney came up with a brilliant theme for 2009 - The Year of the Yoke! Yoked sweaters are perhaps the easiest and quickest kind to knit. They also lend themselves well to all sorts of customization. I joined up and now have to find a pattern to start with. I'm eyeing Aftur (lots on Ravelry here) as well as a couple of others. I'd like to pick one that will use up some of the single balls in my stash. One of my goals for this year is to try and streamline the stash and get rid of the odds and ends.

We are in the midst of a big snow/sleet/freezing rain storm right now, so it's not pretty out there. At least it isn't the coating kind of freezing rain like we had last month - this stuff is bouncing all over the place and it sounds like someone is throwing gravel at the windows!