Uncategorized · knitting

Half of a Pair

Finally. I have a sock. My oldest daughter’s response when I sent her a photo of the completed sock was, and I quote, “Ayyy. Only took years.” I have no idea what “ayyy” means. I’m sure it’s some sort of exclamation indicating astonishment at my slowness. But let’s talk about the “years” that it took, shall we?

Several years ago…less than ten, or maybe more??…I took oldest daughter to the yarn shop to purchase sock yarn. I bought some for myself, which I knitted up into a pair of socks in approximately 5 years, and she chose this blue/tan combo.

She began knitting her socks, completed approximately one inch of ribbing, and declared that she was ready to do the heel as she didn’t want high socks. At this point in time I wasn’t even close to ready to start on my heel, and, as we needed to make a trip to see the “knitting lady” for a bit of show-and-tell on how to actually do a heel, my daughter laid her pair aside.

By the time I was ready to learn how to do the heel, our “knitting lady” had passed away and my daughter had lost all interest in finishing her socks. (She had moved on to sweaters and afghans by this point and thought that knitted socks weren’t worth the effort.) Without our “knitting lady,” I had to watch YouTube videos on how to form the heel since our printed directions were slightly lacking in photos and instructions. Finally, I completed my pair.

As I’m not really a blue and brown kind of gal, oldest’s partially completed sock lurked in my knitting basket for several years before I finally picked it up to work on it. As I wasn’t certain exactly where she was in the pattern and since we knit at a different tightness, I picked out her work and began again. After several months, which involved much picking out due to misreading directions, I finally completed this sock. It’s mate is in the early stages and may be completed within this decade. I can’t make any guarantees.

I was recently discussing the cost of homemade socks with my husband. I believe one skein of this particular sock yarn was somewhere between $9 and $18. It’s been so long ago that I can’t remember what I paid. When you add all of the hours spent working on a pair of socks to the cost of materials you end up with a pair of socks that would be too ridiculously expensive to sell.

So why spend all the money and time making them?

They are super comfortable. Many of the socks I buy from the store are too long for my feet. I have some toasty wool socks whose heel lands significantly north of my Achilles tendon when pulled on all the way. They bulge out from under the hem of my pants like a fluffy tumor. Homemade socks can be made to the exact size of your foot. That said, I don’t think I’ll be making all of my socks in the future. At the rate I knit, I’d be barefoot most of the time. I’d also be broke.

knitting · Uncategorized

Knitted Socks and Pureed Peaches

This past weekend was all about peaches. (And hiking and errands and church and movies and knitting. But mostly peaches.) Our peach tree is a sad little thing. It’s lopsided and leans heavily toward the ground once the peaches begin growing. Once upon a time we had its trunk tied to a large aspen in our yard in the hopes that it would eventually end up standing straight. We’ve since given up all hope of this happening.

Our peaches are also sad little things. They have dark specks where bugs have attacked them, and they are generally no larger than ping pong balls. There may have been two in the bunch this year that were a decent size.

While they are sad looking and tiny, there are many of them. This year we picked a grocery sack full. After at least 4 hours of peeling and cutting while listening the Paper Ghosts podcast over two days (resulting in a horribly cramped hand), we ended up with 28 bags of puree to freeze and add to smoothies. While I know that all those little plastic baggies aren’t good for the environment, it was the best option for us this year. In years past I have frozen the puree in ice cube trays and stored the cubes in a large plastic bag. The trouble with ice cubes is that they take up a lot of room. These bags flattened out nicely and fit well in our overstuffed freezer. Last night we enjoyed our first peach smoothie, and it was tasty!

This weekend I also decided to make some progress on my knitted socks. I enjoy the sock knitting process once I get the needles all sorted out after the first few rounds. But when I neared the heel I knew I would need a lot of concentration and a few YouTube videos to get past it as I’d only knit one other pair of socks before and had forgotten how to do the heel. So I set the project aside until I felt ready to tackle that part.

I’m not sure why working on the heel seems so scary and daunting. It’s not really that difficult. After a few tries and bit of picking stitches out when I struggled picking stitches up on the heel, I managed to produce something that looked pretty good.

Below is a photo of the sock in process and one sock of the pair I made a few years ago. I really like the striping yarn. I’m using a five needle sock pattern that I got for free from the woman who taught me how to knit. I believe she may have created the pattern herself as there is no information on it that indicates it was created by someone else. Whenever I get to a tricky spot in a knitting pattern, I always think about this woman and wish she was still around to help me out of a bind. Sadly, she passed away several years ago.

knitting · Uncategorized

Shrieking Owls

I sat down to write and an owl started hooting outside. It sounded close to the house so I rushed out on the deck to see if I could spot it in the trees. Luna, the dog, fearing an intruder on the property, got mad and started barking. Nevy, the other dog, charged out onto the deck with me because that’s what he does when the slider opens. The owl hoots had him quickly wanting to go back inside. He’s a bit of a scaredy-“cat” when it comes to loud or strange noises. I wasn’t able to spot the owl, but as I stood and listened, another owl, also close by, began shrieking. Our hooter, perhaps offended that someone else was in his/her territory or scared off by Luna’s barking, quickly relocated across the pond.

(Luna is on the left, Neville is on the right. Luna was enjoying the brown-eyed Susans on Saturday. The photo of Nevy is from a hiking trip where he managed to get himself from the back of the car into the middle seat. He was very pleased with himself.)

We’ve lived in the woods for over 20 years, and up until this year I had never heard an owl shriek. We’ve only ever heard them making their cute little hooting call. A couple weeks ago I stepped outside IN THE DARK with Nevy so he could do his business. It sounded like Jurassic Park out there. There were shrieks coming from all directions! This is 2021, and, as we all well know after living through 2020, anything is possible. I didn’t know if there were velociraptors lurking in the weeds or alien life forms swinging from the tree branches. What I did know was that Nevy and I were not going to stay out there long. He was in total agreement with that.

After a bit of YouTube searching, I discovered that our little shriekers were the barred owls that we’d only heard making cute sounds up until that moment. For many years we would occasionally hear a pair hooting to each other from separate sides of the neighborhood. After listening carefully to our shriekers, I’ve determined that we have at least three now, which is incredibly cool!

We’ve been enjoying nature a lot the past few weeks. I’ve not been spending much time in the sewing room, because when northern Michigan gives you decent weather and minimal mosquitoes (I hear others aren’t so lucky), you get your fanny outside because you know it’s only a matter or months before your fanny will be freezing out there without multiple layers.

I’ve picked up my knitting again in the evenings. My goal was to use up most of my yarn before purchasing anything new. Ha! I stayed strong until I saw some yarn that would make a pretty afghan. As if we need ANOTHER afghan! And now that I have the yarn, I can’t find the pattern I was going to use. So while that yarn sits gathering dust, I knitted up some dishcloths.

The variegated yarn is from a large spool which I believe is never going to run out! I can’t tell you how many dishcloths I’ve already made from that spool. You can see from the photo that I’m attempting to use up every last bit of dishcloth yarn, even if some of the color combos are a little wacky (such as the variegated and blue one). Once I bored of dishcloths I started a pair of socks.

I find it’s nice to have a project going that you can do almost mindlessly while watching television at night. I feel just a bit less lazy if I have something to occupy my hands while relaxing on the couch.

We’ve been working our way through Schitt’s Creek, a show our middle daughter suggested, and have found it to be really funny. On the opposite side of the “humor” scale, we’ve not been enjoying HBOs (which I think stands for Random and Pointless Nudity) The White Lotus, which for some strange reason claims to be a comedy (and a drama). We started watching since it claimed to be a comedy. We keep coming back week after week and cringing through it because we just want to know who dies. Why are we doing this to ourselves? It’s not like we don’t have better things to watch. Hubby has that DVR filled up with movies…and there’s always those Chicago Med episodes that I haven’t been desperate enough for entertainment to work my way through. (I got fed up with a few of the characters…well, all of the characters…and stopped watching last year but never told the DVR to stop recording them.) The good news is, we are four episodes in and there are only six in total. I gotta say, though, I’m about one random and pointless nudity away from not giving a crap how it all ends.

knitting · Quilting · Quilts · Uncategorized

The 2020 Afghan

My kids prefer afghans to quilts for cold winter days or chilly summer nights. I’ll let you in on a little secret…I do too. When it comes to having something to snuggle up under on the couch, afghans are our go-to.

That’s not to say that quilts don’t have their place. In our house that place is on the walls, the backs of the couches, or atop the beds. So basically everywhere…just not on top of us.

It’s silly, I know. I love making quilts and all the different designs, but to me they are more of a decoration than a way to keep warm.

We recently had a conversation after what happened in Texas about how we would never get too cold in our house even if the power was out for days since we have so many quilts and afghans and blankets all over the place. We could build a fort and stay nice and cozy in front of our fireplace. While it sounds fun and novel, romantic even, in reality it would probably be none of those things!

Without electricity, we’d have no hot water and quite quickly no water at all since our well would stop pumping it from the ground. While we’ve cooked in our fireplace before, it’s never been anything more complicated than a hot dog. In fact, hot dogs cooked over the fire was our Anniversary dinner this past December since we were without power that evening. Also, the guinea pigs, Winston and Basil, would suffer as they are delicate little fellas who can’t handle the cold. I’m not sure I’d enjoy having them in our fort since they throw hay all over the place!

I finished this particular afghan last weekend. I began working on it early last year. It looks a lot like another I finished last year since I wanted to use up all of the remaining yarn from that project. The pattern was my own design:

The first 10 and last 10 rows were all Knit rows.

Then Knit a row, Purl a row for as many rows as desired. This started out as 20 rows. As I ran low on some yarns and had a lot left of others, I adjusted and did less rows of some colors and more rows of others. (First 5 stitches in all rows were Knit.)

Then (when on right side) 2 knit rows, 1 purl row, 1 knit row. (I did these in green and purple)

Things got a little wonky color-wise as I neared the end of my yarn supply and had to change up the color pattern I had started out with. This didn’t bother me as it was a project I began just to use up leftovers. I was amazed that I was able to get two very large afghans out of 5 1-pound skeins of Caron yarn.

The Celitc Knotwork St. Patrick’s Day project is coming along nicely. I’m still not sure I’ll finish in time for the holiday, but I made good progress yesterday. The first clover is completely sewn now, and all the letters are glued in place. I’ve also begun sewing the letters. I’m hoping to make some progress this weekend but may not as there’s a birthday to be celebrated. Special food will be prepared. Brownies and ice cream will be consumed. Presents will be unwrapped. And fun will be had.

knitting · Quilting · Quilts · Uncategorized

Afghans or Quilts?

Seed stitch.

Every time I saw those words on the pattern, I groaned and stuck the afghan in my knitting basket where it gathered dust until I was ready to tackle the tediousness of Knit Purl Knit Purl over 199 stitches.

Times 10 rows.

I knit while watching television at night. I want something easy, something I can do mindlessly so I don’t miss key plot points in whatever show we’re watching. Let’s be honest. I want to just knit every row because I can do that without even thinking about it. I don’t want to have to worry that I’ve knitted when I should have purled or purled when I should have knitted. But, I also want a finished project that looks amazing, so I suffered through the seed stitch. (Don’t get me started on the raspberry stitch I’m using for a dishcloth right now. Who in their right mind thought that up?)

This is the second time I have used this pattern. (It was free from Bernat. I found it at Joann’s or Micheal’s probably 10+ years ago.) The first afghan isn’t quite as soft as it once was. We still enjoy snuggling up under it, but it was time to make something new, something that would look a little nicer draped over the couch than the old fuzzy one.

I used up all sorts of scraps in the first one, but for this one I wanted to go outside my comfort zone with the colors. I found myself pulling out pinks and purples and blues and forced myself to put them back and use colors that I ordinarily wouldn’t…hence the green, orange, and yellow. I love, love, love how it turned out.

I finished this early in the week and despite telling my son that I wanted to be the first to use it, I caught him burrowed under it doing his schoolwork. I still haven’t had a chance to try it out! This leads to me admitting something. We prefer knitted afghans to quilts when it’s cold and we want something to keep out the chill.

But, I still love how beautiful a quilt looks draped over the back of the couch, hanging on the wall, or decorating the kitchen table.