Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year! 2009

Sunday, December 21, 2008

I think I’ll break “tradition” and post again this month…LOL. At least I’ll try to come with something interesting to write, though I can’t guarantee anything. Christmas is NOT my favorite time of the year and I just don’t know why. I always feel kind of like Charlie Brown; the commerciality really bugs me, but that doesn’t seem to be quite all of it for me. I do love the traditional things that happen, but some things are just too much. This year I am remembering that last year I lost my beloved Miss Alvin right after Christmas and I am feeling very sad. I don’t much care about tons of gifts, either, as I would much rather give someone something that’s just perfect for them or that they really wanted than actually get a bunch of stuff myself.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy getting gifts; I do. I just would prefer to get some little things that someone really put some thought into, rather than expensive stuff that someone really didn’t think about. Does that make sense? One of the little things I got last year from Mike was a set of Harmony cable needles from KnitPicks. They didn’t cost a fortune, in fact they didn’t cost much at all, but he knew I’d like them and he ordered them for me. I got a lot of other knitterly things too, but they were all things he knew I’d like and use. This year, I don’t care if I get a damn thing; I told him I got my gift in July when we got married. I know he doesn’t really believe me, but that’s really how I feel.

We didn’t even put a tree up this year. We always put a fresh tree up, one we’ve gone out into the woods for and cut down ourselves. It makes the whole house smell wonderful and so Christmassy that I can’t imagine having a fake tree, no matter how good it looked. We planned to go out to cut one down last weekend, but Mother Nature had other ideas…We’re in upstate NY and we got hit with a mess of an ice storm. Our power was out for four days and it was so cold in the house, I worried about my pipes freezing, though we got past that ok. Then this weekend, it’s done nothing but snow since Friday morning. I think we’ve got about a foot and a half on the ground now, though it appears to have stopped. Christmas Eve we are expecting what they call a “wintry mix” so that could be snow, sleet and/or freezing rain. I guess we’ll stay home and watch Christmas movies with a bottle of wine. On second thought, that doesn’t sound half bad.

I did buy some lovely evergreen-smelling candles, so I’ll have the tree smell, if not the tree. And I’m sure we would have had to tie it to the walls and the ceiling and whatever else we could anchor it to with these three frisky cats in the house. Miss Alvin never did anything but lie under the tree and look pretty, but I’m sure that these three would be climbing the tree and chasing the ornaments all over the house, so maybe it’s better that we didn’t get one this year. Of course, our cutting back on spending isn’t going to help the country’s economy at all, though it will help the economy of our home. Silly, isn’t it? The government wants us all to go out and spend like fiends to shore up the economy, but we just don’t have the money to do that. Is that a catch-22 or what?

I worried when Mike got laid off from his job in November that we’d have problems with money, but his unemployment insurance will get us through. There won’t be much left for frivolities, though, so it’s a good thing I’ve got plenty of stash to knit up. I did want to take a class at my local yarn store in the spring; I’ll have to put a little aside so I can maybe do that. It’s a fairly expensive class; $100 to learn to make an Aran cardigan, but it would be so worth it if I could learn to make a sweater like that. I love the intricacies of cables, but haven’t the nerve to try it on my own. All the sweaters I’ve ever made (except the BSJ, and I took a class for that) have come out so badly that I really feel I need the guidance of a class to get me through. I have the loveliest alpaca/wool blend yarn that I bought ages ago for just such a project, too. It’s a lovely creamy white and the hand is so soft. It will be a beautiful sweater when it’s knitted up; I’ve just been afraid to try it on my own.

I’ll stop for now; it’s time to go clean the car off and help with the snowblowing so I can go to the store for dinner things. Thank heaven the market isn’t far from here! I’ll write more later.

January 1, 2009

I never got around to writing more that day. Funny, I just have to be in the mood to sit down and think on paper (or computer screen…). In the time since I wrote the above, I’ve actually finished a shawl. Ok, so it’s not blocked yet, but the knitting and the weaving in of ends is done. I didn’t have quite enough of the cream alpaca to make it as large as I wanted to, so I added a few inches of a deep cranberry-red Baby Twist and improvised. I think it turned out rather well and it’s so warm. My house is a little chilly today (of course it’s about 12 degrees Fahrenheit outside and the wind is howling), so I tossed it around my shoulders until I warmed up nicely. It’s also a nice size for tossing over my lap as I sit on the couch, so I’m happy with the way it turned out.

I’m still working on my “wedding shawl” but that yarn is soooo fine and it just seems like I’m getting nowhere fast. I knit and knit and knit and it’s like I’ve done ¼ inch. I’m sure we’ve all been in that boat, though, so I just pick it up whenever I think of it and go from there until I’ve had enough. This shawl is lace-weight and I have to say that I don’t think I’ll ever buy any more lace-weight. I still have about 1,000 yards of a beautiful hand-dyed pale spring green that I won in a raffle and I actually bought a huge hank of merino lace-weight in cream on a whim. I guess that will sit in my stash until I find I like it again. Hmmm, I think I like cream colored yarn; I mention it a lot lately….

That lovely cranberry-red Baby Twist is alpaca that I bought in Kentucky when we went down to see my sister and her husband two years ago. I ordered it: 18 skeins in the same dye lot because I was absolutely going to knit a sweater from “Big Girl Knits” and I figured out that I would need 16 or 17 skeins and I better buy an extra, since Kentucky is not just around the corner from upstate NY. I made the “Cherry Bomb” from that book and it turned out so horribly that I never did start another sweater and the “Baby Twist” has been sitting idly by in my stash since then. Oh, and I started another of what I call my “office ponchos”. If you’ve read “The Knit Stitch” (sorry, can’t remember who wrote it), you’ll find in the book a “pattern” of sorts for what she calls a “Sweaterless Yoke”. I made one for myself about three years ago and I keep it at work for chilly days. Lately, it’s always a chilly day in my office as they are saving money by turning the thermostat down. I have a blower right over my cubicle and it seems that when it’s on, it just blows right down my back.

Anyway, I made one from the book and it’s all knitting on circular needles, around and around and around until you decrease a bit and bind off. So, the one I made is a variegated gray/black/white alpaca and it came out so nice that I wear it quite a lot over my shoulders when I get cold. I like that it isn’t on my arms; I’m a ¾ sleeve person and prefer to push my long sleeves up for comfort, so the fact that this little poncho just sits on my shoulders and doesn’t hinder my working is fabulous to me. A friend admired it and I told her I'd make her one. She picked out the wool - a lovely shade of deep olive green - and I started it. And I got so bored going around and around and around that I decided to change things up a bit. I put in some evenly-spaced YO’s and k2tog’s to give it a little interest and it came out so nicely that she just loves it. It's not like it's lacy or anything, but it's not all just stockinettte either.

So let me tell you a little about the one I’m working on now. Since I just finished a shawl - EZ’s Pi - I decided to do a variation on a theme type shawl and I’m working out a kind of a Pi poncho. I’ll post it no matter how it turns out, but so far, so good (keep your fingers crossed!). I'm using the previously-mentioned Baby Twist and it looks lovely so far.

Let’s see…what else is going on? We’re holding our own so far. Money is very tight, but we’ll make it, I think. Of course, having to toss the contents of my fridge, freezer, and my stand-alone freezer after the ice storm isn’t helping much. I hate to think of all the food we tossed and how much it all cost. I have to look on the bright side; my big freezer got defrosted and that’s a good thing, right? Hope all of you are doing well. I wish a Happy and Healthy New Year to all.

Remember, until next time, wear natural fibers; hug your cats!