Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why yes, I am a totally geeky knit nerd.

I'm so utterly proud of myself. I can now drop spindle and walk at the same time. I actually managed to do 1 1/4 miles on the walking trail while spindling, and I only dropped it (off the roving and onto the path) three times. Which is about my average while sitting still. And by the end of the walk, it was a pretty good-looking (but slightly over-twisted) single that will ply nicely into a fingering weight.

I wish I had a picture, but I still haven't figured out how to add photography to the walk & spindle action.

This came about because I forgot to pack an extra skein of yarn this morning. I only had the cashmere gloves with me, and the fingers (which is where I'm at with them) are too fiddly for the bus. Yes, I did say "for the bus." I'm sure I've mentioned that because I'm sharing my new car with my son, I now have to walk 15 minutes after work to catch the public transit bus, then walk another 20 minutes to the car. Then I have one hour until it's time to pick up my son (provided I've caught the correct bus; otherwise I get to sit at the VA center and wait until he comes and gets me because I've gotten on the wrong bus... but that's another story!). So instead of driving home and turning right around to get him, or running to Starbucks like a sane adult, I go to the local park and walk while knitting.

So anyway, I got to the bus stop this afternoon and realized that I didn't have anything to knit while on the bus. I did have the CD drop spindle and some roving with me. So I pulled it out at the bus stop and proceeded to get in a little practice with it. I did pretty well. I really like the CD spindle so much more than my first drop spindle. This thing spins forever. Now I KIP (knit in public) all the time, and I've pretty much grown immune to all the odd looks it can bring. However, spindling in public -- and especially while sitting on a bench next to a major intersection -- teaches you what "odd looks" really are. Two motorcyclists nearly crashed into each other trying to figure out what I was doing. (And then they blamed me!)

When the bus arrived, it was too crowded to keep my spindle out. I probably wouldn't have even attempted to knit, it was that crowded. (Oh, who am I kidding. I would have knit.) But as I sat there, I remembered that someone mentioned seeing people walk and spindle. And by the time I got to my stop, I was determined to mange it.

It actually isn't as difficult as it sounds. It's like knitting and walking: as long as you can knit (or spindle) without looking at your work constantly, and you're in a place that you can walk without worrying about walking into or falling over something, then it's just a matter of putting the two together and taking turns which one you pay attention to. And not to brag or anything, but I even managed to add a third component of listening to an audiobook on my ipod while spindle-walking. (Yeah, I always have to go it one better. It's a sickness.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Seriously, do you know how many ways you can use knitting needles to protect yourself?

The women at tonight's knitting group came up with a large enough number to ensure that none of us will be allowed to knit on an airplane ever again. I think it helped that the discussion came after we had already talked about both the foster parent system AND the amount of child support owed to us.

I finished another baby hat. I really love this pattern, using the mosaic knitting technique. It looks really complicated, but you only knit with one color at a time, slipping stitches for the second color. I'll probably knit a couple more of these, in different colors, just because they're fun to do.

I also finished up another towel and washcloth set. Both of these patterns are very easy to do, and make great "take-along" projects to carry in my pocketbook.

I didn't finish the gloves yet. The fingers are tricky, and I have to really concentrate. Which is a shame, since the first part had gone so fast. I did manage to get another finger done while waiting for PJ this afternoon. Then I made the mistake of trying the glove on. Cashmere is amazingly comfortable. And warm. (Hey, it's in the 50's today. That's really cold for us.) I didn't want to take it off. Actually, if I could have figured out a way to finish knitting them while wearing it...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

I feel like I should talk about our new president.

Today at work we watched as President Obama took the oath of office. We've followed the process throughout the election, and today it was a definite party atmosphere. Hopefully he'll make a real difference.

I am feeling very excited about my new spindle. I made it myself, and I plan to make several more to take to the Farmer's Market when Skeiniac and I go this weekend. What amazes me is how nicely it works. I had no difficulty spinning up a fine ply, and the spindle twirls almost forever so the twist is nice and even. I had purchased a beginner's spindle a few months (maybe a year) ago, and I hated it. I couldn't get it to do what I wanted. The Rakestraw Spindle I tried next was better, but even with that I had problems. Which is why I bought my wheel -- I really wanted to be successful at spinning. It could just be that because I spin on the wheel, that's why I was able to use the new drop spindle. But I totally love the weight and spin on the CD spindle.

Now I just need to make myself a spindle bag, since the project bags I've made are too small to fit the 12" dowel. And I'm going to try to dye some roving for practicing.

Monday, January 19, 2009

I wanna go camping.

I went back to Riverbend Park today, in Jupiter. Faith came with me, and I introduced her to the joy of letterboxing.

Riverbend is one of the most beautiful parks in Palm Beach County, and I can't wait for an excuse to go back. I want to get a bicycle, or at least rent one, and explore all of the trails. I also want to rent a canoe and explore the waterways around the park. I want to go back with my very tall son, because neither Faith nor I were able to reach the oranges and tangerines growing wild. (We did snag a couple of limes, though.) And I want to be in the park when the fruit trees blossom.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

It's just a walk in the park

I went out letterboxing today, and added four more finds to my tally. I would have had a fifth, but the park was closing.

I had to go by myself because everyone was busy doing other stuff. But it was alright, I had a good time. Marsha (my new TomTom) kept me company on the ride. We did have a couple of disagreements because I kept turning the wrong way (who knew electronic devices could sound so annoyed), but we worked it out and I found the parks I needed to.

Every time i go out on a hike, I wonder why I don't do it more often. I really enjoy it. I was a little nervous retrieving some of the boxes, since gators and snakes were a real possibility. But when I caught myself wishing the kids were with me to get the box for me, I realized that if it were safe enough for them, it should be safe enough for me. (Although truthfully, there are times I'd be willing to sacrifice a child.)

I had some really cool sitings while looking for the boxes. I saw a gopher tortoise, hiding in his borrow. I saw an armadillo foraging on the edge of a parking lot. I saw a blue heron sweep across the lake. And I watched a redheaded woodpecker.

Maybe I'll go back out tomorrow.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

If you're going to ask, I'm going to answer.

One of the things that I've missed by not writing regularly is the chance to say, "Hey look at what I did. Isn't it cool?"It's not so much that I want to brag, because I don't think I have anything to brag about. It's more a reaction of "wow - I did that?" It's like when my kids were little and had to have mommy clap every time they tried diving (jumping) into the pool.

So here's the catch-up for the past couple of weeks.

Despite the Christmas knitting (which didn't all get done on time), I managed to finish a baby hat for the Loops of Love charity every week.

I counted it up, just for fun, and I knit 24 baby hats for charity in 2008. If I stick to doing at least one hat a week, I should be able to do 52 hats in 2009. I've already finished two hats this year. The baby hats are obviously one of my favorite things to knit. There are lots of patterns, so it doesn't get boring, but because a hat is basically the same no matter what the pattern, they're easy once you've done a couple. And they go very quickly. I can have a finished project in just a couple of hours.

By the way, all of my projects are listed in Ravelry along with the pattern and yarns used, which is why I don't write it out here. But I'm more than willing to share the information -- I love to give the pattern designers credit!

I also finished the three pairs of socks that I was knitting as Christmas gifts. This is the pair I did for my sister.

I forgot to take pictures of my mom's and my daughter's socks. Which is a shame, since I love the way my daughter's red and black stripes turned out. I'll try to grab a photo of them the next time she wears them.

By the way, the sock count for 2008 was 10 finished pairs. I had also knit 10 pairs in 2007. (I thought that was a neat coincidence.) I have one pair to my credit for 2009. When I told my mom these stats, she didn't think I should count the 2009 sock because I actually started it in 2008. But I'm counting finished socks, so it stays in my total for the new year.

Thanks to Christmas knitting, I have a new item to add to my favorites list -- washcloths. My daughter was knitting washcloths for a while, and I thought "how boring." I loved the finished items (even stole one that was supposed to be given to someone else), but there was no way I was going to waste my time knitting a 6" square.

But then I needed gift ideas, and decided on washcloths with handmade soap.

I'm hooked. They're quick, easily carried around, and are a great way to try out different stitch patterns. Since December, I've knit 7 washcloths...

...and one kitchen towel.

The Special Olympics Scarf Project is ending, but I was able to send off another scarf from me... one from my student. Coats and Clark had sponsored our Ravelry group (which produced over 1000 scarves), and they awarded prizes to 20 randomly drawn scarves. One of mine won! So I get to pick out 12 skeins of free yarn. Plus they're also giving me another 12 skeins for being a group moderator. I'm so excited, and I keep changing my mind about what I want.

One other project I've started is plarn market bags. These are made of recycled grocery bags (plastic yarn = "plarn"). Both of my bags so far have been crocheted because it's easier for me to design something crocheted. Unfortunately, it makes my hands hurt for the next couple of days. So I'll have to see what I can come up with, knitting. I'm going to try to sell these at the Farmer's Market the next time we go (in two weeks).

You'll notice that I still haven't finished the Mystery Stole, although I'm getting close. I only have 1 1/2 more clues to go! The Lady Sweater was put on hold until the stole is finished. I've got three more pairs of socks that are also waiting to be finished (and they're going to be counted as 2009 sock, mom!), but they're waiting until I finish my daughter's gloves. You know, thinking it, I should probably get back to my knitting!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I'm just saying...

It's really nice to be able to knit cashmere gloves while sitting on the beach. (That's what I did yesterday, after dropping my daughter off at the airport to return to cold, snowy New York. )

Monday, January 12, 2009

It just wasn't enough time!

My oldest came home for the weekend, just in time to celebrate my baby's 15th birthday. Unfortunately, she arrived with the flu and our plans had to be modified to include bed rest, tea, and trips to the drugstore for medicine and tissues. It wasn't exactly what we had planned, but it was still nice to have her home.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I have no idea what to title this post; I'm just rambling.

Happy 2009! The year has just started, and it already looks to be an interesting one. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that "interesting" means good things, rather than being a polite way of saying "lots of stuff that you can only pray you live through."

We made it through the holidays, even if I didn't manage to post about any of it. And even though that makes it sound bad, it was really a great few weeks. It was just really, really busy.

One of the things I've been busy with is knitting (of course), and spinning. I'm going to wait until next week to start the WIP Wednesdays again, so you'll have to wait for pictures of my projects. I'm going to try to be good this year, and limit what I'm working on. It's not a New Year's Resolution; this is just me trying to get a handle on things. I realized I had so many things I was trying to do that I ended up not getting anything done. So my knitting is going to be limited to: (1) a small project such as a sock or gloves, something easily carried around; (2) a large project, such as a sweater or lace or fancy colorwork; (3) a long-term project, which would be my Sampler Sock Blanket at the moment; (4) charity baby hat or weekly washcloth; and (5) current spinning project. I may add a 6th project -- something I can sell, such as a plarn market bag -- but I'm not sure about that yet.

I'm also hoping to get my house under control this year. I want to clear out all the clutter and come up with a workable cleaning schedule. I feel so much better when things around me are neat and orderly, and right now the house is total chaos. We have so much going on that the kids and I tend to just ignore the vacuuming and mopping. I'd like to get a system so that we can still have our busy schedule as well as keeping up with the dust bunnies. (Dust bunnies would be so much easier to accept if they could be spun into yarn!)

Other items on my "Project - Me" list include scheduling regular FLAC monitorings; sticking to my budget (which means no wild splurges on fiber); regular exercise as a preliminary step to running the marathon in three years; and learning to project an aura of calm when my son is driving me to work. Okay, that last item is probably just wishful thinking. Basically, I just want to get organized so that I can do the things I want to do.

I'm not sure how I got onto this self-improvement topic. I really meant to post about how excited I was that my oldest girl is coming home for a visit tomorrow. I figured that was a wonderful reason to start writing again. Oh well, I'm sure I'll be telling you all about it...