Saturday, December 27

Merry Christmas!

I'm stopping in at home over night and turned my computer on for a few minutes to catch up on the internet. (A few minutes is not enough. I gave up.) I hope everyone who celebrates had a happy and safe Christmas, and the rest of you had a happy and safe day.

Merry Christmas

The weather has been a little crazy here; we've had snow, ice, rain, fog, and thunderstorms all within the last week. It is over 50F at 9am right now, but the high for tomorrow is only 29F. Luckily it hasn't stopped us from going where we wanted to for the holidays.

I've got one more weekend of visiting relatives (mine and my husband's) and then I've got another week off work that I am so excited about. No plans yet, I'm hoping to spend a chunk of the time knitting, sewing, cleaning, and organizing. I want to start '09 in a good place, mentally speaking, so I need to de-clutter my desk and craft areas as well as my computer hard drive. (Does anyone else feel stress when their hard drive gets "messy"? I do - the same kind of stress a pile of dirty dishes creates!)

Here are a few photos from my holiday, including the only knit gift I made. More details on that in the next few days.

Kitty Pi cat bed

felted cat bed

cookie gift box
cookie gift boxes


crazy thick fog, for over 60mi

Christmas sock in progress

socks I started Christmas Eve

Friday, December 19

Finished: Fake Isle Hat

Taking full advantage of my unexpected day off, I finished my fake isle hat this morning. It is a little large even though I made the smaller size; I think I was trying too hard to make sure I didn't strand the colors too tightly that everything ended up a little loose.

Even so, I'm happy with the finished hat. The top is a little pointy, something I noticed while browsing finished hats on Ravelry but then forgot to correct while knitting my own hat. It doesn't bother me enough to rip it out and redo.

Fake Isle hat

If you are familiar with the pattern then you may notice that I reversed the main color and contrasting colors as called for in the pattern. The main color is supposed to be the variegated/striped yarn but I decided that I would rather have the main part of the hat solid colored and the design striped.

Pattern: Fake Isle Hat (pattern, or Ravelry)
Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino Wool in Demin, Paton's SWS Natural Blue

Needles: Clover bamboo size 8 Circs
Date Started/Finished: Dec. 15, 2008/Dec. 19, 2008

Snow Day!

Heavy snowing falling overnight and this morning caused an snow day at work. I'm so excited - not only because I don't have to drive in this weather, but also because this makes a three day weekend. A little bonus time to work on Christmas preparations.

(I didn't get to sleep in however, since I had to be up to find the closing announcement online. Oh well.)

first big snow of Dec. '08

There isn't all that much snow, not blizzard quantities anyway, but I think it was the timing of the storm coinciding with morning rush hour, plus a layer of ice under it that closed schools.

But it is going to be a long winter if this keeps up.

Thursday, December 18

Some things to Share

We are supposed to get hit with a big winter storm tonight and tomorrow. They've pushed back the estimated storm ETA about four hours - hopefully, I should be home from work before it starts to snow/ice. A number of schools around my area are already announcing that they are going to be closed tomorrow. I can only hope for such luck for myself.

There is knitting, baking, shopping, and wrapping going on here, but nothing exciting enough to talk about in detail. Instead, here are a few photos of what I've been up to.

Fake Isle Hat in progress

Fake Isle hat

Note: When picking out yarn for this project, do not choose two skeins which make you exclaim "These match so well!". The fair isle effect is unsurprisingly lost when the matching colors meet up.

Christmas Cactus going to flower?
Christmas Cactus

Flowering at Christmas?! Outrageous. The last time it flowered was April 2006. Of course, it is only three of the stalks.

new hair cut/color
new hair cut/color

Although, seeing the correct color might depend more on your monitor settings...

Sunday, December 14

Book Recommendations (or - Gift Ideas for a Knitter)

I realize this is a little late, but I have been browsing Amazon a lot lately looking for gift ideas and thought I’d post a list of my favorite knitting books that I own here in case someone needs an idea for the knitter in their life. (Hey - Amazon still has three days of free super saver shipping available in time for Christmas delivery!)

You really can’t go wrong with any Elizabeth Zimmermann book for a knitter. I think a beginner might be a little frustrated with her chatty, somewhat vague style but anyone willing to throw a few brain cells into the ring will get a lot out of it. My current favorites are the Knitter’s Almanac and The Opinionated Knitter. I enjoy simply reading them, even when I am not looking for a project to knit.

The Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques

by Nancie Wiseman

This is a book I come back to time and again. Many things are explained in a clear concise manner, such as different (and matching) cast ons/offs and increases/decreases. This book also contains the only written instructions for kitchener stitch that I have come across that actually make sense to my brain. There are also other helpful tidbits and great photographs.

The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns

by Ann Budd

These books are a great jumping off point when you have an idea for a hat or pair of mittens with a favorite stitch pattern or colorwork design. Do a gauge swatch, find the numbers, and add in your pattern. I used the glove pattern earlier this year to turn a sock cuff into a glove cuff by adding a hand and fingers using the numbers given for my gauge!

New Pathways for Sock Knitters

by Cat Bordhi

This is a mind-bending collection of sock patterns. It is amazing that the unusual construction methods all result in wearable socks, but they do! Another book to make you think, and produce some very unique socks. Probably not for the new sock knitter - unless you love a good challenge.

Knitting New Scarves
by Lynne Barr

Think scarves are boring? This book looks at them in a new light, with sculptural design elements and unusual textures. I really enjoy the eye-candy in this book. It is very inspiring and relaxing to me to page through and look at the pleasing photographs and layout. One thing however, the typeface is a little small when you are actually trying to use a pattern, and I find it helpful to make an enlarged working copy. Besides, you wouldn’t want to write directly in this gorgeous book anyway!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of my favorites; they are the books I have turned to the most lately for help or inspiration. I think I will try to do a post of my favorite pattern books soon as well. There are some great ones out there.

Friday, December 12

Finished: Monkey Socks

Monkey Socks, finished!

I've named these my "better late than never" monkey socks, since I am at least a year behind the height of their popularity if not more. These were an easy knit, if a bit tedious. I've since come across a no-purl Monkey version on Raverly, but I do like the look of these even if the purls slowed me down a little.

This was my first time using Cherry Tree Hill's sock yarn and I really liked it. It is soft and springy, as well as being less "woolly" than Regia or Opal, the yarns I typically use. I think this has to do with the way it is spun. Whatever - I loved the feel of the yarn. I am slightly disappointed that it fuzzed up significantly after a gently wash and lost some of the stitch definition. (I'll have to get a photo to show you the difference.)

monkey socks, closeup
(this is a pre-wash photo)

Pattern: Monkey Socks by Cookie A. from Knitty. (on Ravelry)
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in English Garden
Needles: two circulars - size 0 US Addi Turbos
Date Started/Finished: Sept. 19, 2008/Dec. 11, 2008

I couldn't get the color quite true to life in any of my photos. I guess that's what you get when you knit with blue and purple yarn!

Tuesday, December 9

I wasn’t. Until now.

I was shopping with my dad last Sunday, and he asked what I was making mom for Christmas. I said nothing –I wasn’t making anything for anyone this year. He said something like “Oh!...” I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but it left me with a twinge of need to knit things.

So now I’m planning on making a few little drawstring pouches to hold small gifts and some pairs of mini mittens for people who haven’t received a pair yet. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t think I will be adding to that list but you never know.

Mostly I am making non-knit things this year, namely sugary treats.

I’m planning on giving an assortment of treats to a few coworkers, as well as making a plate to leave in the division office next week.

I am a little worried that it is too early for some of the things I want to make, since I have no freezer space to speak of for storage, so only goodies for work will be made this weekend. I’ll do another round of baking after the 20th for the people I’ll actually see on Christmas.

Here is what I am planning on so far:

Chewy caramels (I think mom is planning on snagging some of these for her coworkers), “As Good as Fannie May” fudge (that would be the Chicago chocolate company Fannie May, not the bailed out mortgage brokers), and then some type of cookie product. I’m leaning towards one of my favorite German cookies, such as Nussecken(nut triangles w/ a choco dipped corner) or Pfeffernuesse (spicy bite size cookies).

Steve has been angling for chocolate covered pretzels lately, so I might throw those into the mix for him. Of course, with melted chocolate around I might as well dip some marshmallow and peanut clusters, gummi bears (seriously) or strawberries. The possibilities are endless.

I’ll link to any recipes I decide to use later this week when I make up my ingredient shopping list. Yumm... I'm getting hungry just thinking of all these goodies.

mini mitts 2

Sunday, December 7

Finished: Mystery Beret

mystery beret 1

According to my notes I finished this on November 15th. It is Woolly Wormhead’s Mystery Beret from her Ravelry group. The pattern was posted in chunks without a photo of the finished beret. I love it! I’ve never made or purchased a beret before since I assumed I’d look stupid in them. But I think it is actually pretty cute and I look forward to making more.

mystery beret 2

Pattern: Woolly Wormhead’s Meret (link goes to Ravelry)
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Claret Heather, 2 balls
Needles: Clover bamboo needles, 16” circular, size 7US
Started/Finished: - Oct. 30th 2008 - Nov. 15th 2008 (clues released on Oct. 28, Nov. 6 and Nov. 13th)

Saturday, December 6


my computer  is home!

My laptop is home, powered on, booted up, and working properly. Well – at least while it’s plugged into AC power; I’m still waiting on a working battery. But that’s fine with me. I am so glad this fiasco is over.

Thursday, December 4

The Saga Continues...

I’m tired of talking about it (thinking about, dealing with it) and I’m sure you’re tired of reading about it, but here’s one more Computer Saga update.

I have my laptop back in my possession. This makes me very very happy. BUT. It doesn’t work. Nope.

I am fuming mad at Geek Squad. I know I am being lied to, but have no way to prove it.

(please note: The thoughts that follow are my opinion of what happened, and have not been proven yet.)

Basically, it seems they accidentally repaired my laptop without contacting me with an estimate because someone thought it was still under warranty. It was an expensive mistake on their part (the motherboard). Instead of contacting me and telling me what was done, a new service order number was created and parts of my laptop that I know were functioning just fine when I brought it in were replaced with ones that aren’t working, and that I can tell are obviously not my original ones (the ac adaptor and battery). I was quoted a high repair cost for these two things that I declined. I’m assuming this was an attempt to recoup some of the money lost in the mistaken warranty repair.

But how do I prove that those are not my ac adapter and battery? Because these are a mess and all beat up, while the rest of my computer is in nearly perfect condition?

At this point all I really want is an apology and an admission that they did something wrong. (I’m not holding my breath.)

And because I am so tired of depressing posts without photos, here are a few that were already uploaded into Flickr.

lily, macro
Cat Face, side view
Between a rock and a log.