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Monday, January 26, 2015

Please Don't Yell...

I doubt there's any readers still around to yell with such a long break between posts. But I do come bearing gifts! Yay!

What kind of gifts? First, lots and lots of pictures. I promise. Did I mention for Christmas I got a new camera? I have taken it out and played with it a few times.

It's funny how different a new camera can be from the old one of the same make and slightly different model, isn't it? I have got a lot of playing to do but it's so nice to have a camera that focus's again!

Well, sorta... Okay, so maybe there's a learning curve here.

As you can see, we got snow! Not much, but snow it is.

Most of it is gone already from our couple of warm days this last week, but there's supposedly more on the way, so fingers crossed. Still, not enough to get the skis out in the park, but I have high hopes.

Ever wonder what dog hair is good for? Especially long shaggy coats?

As it turns out, it's nice for snapping pictures of snowflakes.

Who knew?

Tucker helped me out the other day as we were coming in from a walk. His coat was already cold so the flakes didn't melt as they hit him and I snapped a few with my phone.

Then I had to get busy making The Guy his dinner.

Homemade Chicken Pot Pie!

Sorry, no recipe for this yet. I once again added a bit too much celery seed to my mix so I need to tinker with this one before sharing it, but I will. I promise.

Speaking of recipes to tinker share... Find this one here at the Brown Eyed Baker. She's wonderful. they take a bit of time so either get up REALLY early like I did, or make them up before hand and pop them in the fridge.

With all the new snowfall and then sunny days, we've seen the Michigan wildlife, or proof of their existence around the house. I found these tracks looking like they were hunting up squirrels in our pine trees along the drive. Lets pray it's not skunk...

And speaking of squirrels. We have a silly one I've seen doing a lap of our back yard a few times. He runs in here from the West, across the deck, over the wood pile, to the east fence line, through it an up the far side to the north. I guess it's his daily territory boundary run. He's always fast and on the move when I see him doing it, but I've seen him run it several times always in the same manner and direction. The Guy thinks he's using the fence as cover from swooping birds of prey, which he may very well be. Makes sense to me limiting the way then can attack from either straight down or in from two sides instead of four.

And then there's the birds... Caught this Red Bellied Woodpecker at the suet the other day. Ran up to get the camera when I saw him and the Downey Woodpecker on the feeder together but missed my chance at the smaller one never came back.

Then there's the numerous Tufted Titmice. Let's face it, that's just fun to say...

I think these are Dark-Eyed Junco's. See them from time to time, though not daily and I need to look them up.

Also, one of our many resident nut hatches. These guys are warming up to our presence though still quite shy when we move about or make much noise.

I finally got a good picture of one of these guys!

I've been trying to get a jay as long as I've been working on getting a cardinal picture. At last, there were no cardinals at the feeders on the day I got these, but I have high hopes with the new camera I can get a shot of them finally.

And what else have I been doing in my absence? Well, there's been a bit of knitting. Okay, a lot of knitting, it is the cold months after all, no?

I shared a peek at this item before I believe the last time I posted. Lets not discuss how long ago that was, shall we?

I saw a woman wearing a similar scarf that just kind of sang to me. She thought she bought it somplace like Marshal's or TJ Max. I came home and I looked through some things to see if I could find a pattern for such a thing. I found a lot of things similar, but not quite what I wanted.

The one item I found' was a bit pricey for the pattern and I thought, "screw it, you're going to change the pattern to suit your needs anyway, so you might as well just make your own up."

So I did. 

And I actually wrote it down! To share!

Holy Smokes Batman! I am not charging for this, because, well I'm not a designer. There are probably issues, so feel free to share them with me. As you notice, there's no picture of this piece actually being worn. Betsy, congratulations, it's yours and I'll be mailing it soon, but I need someone to model it, just for one shot. I'd be willing to do some face editing... Just saying. Why is it Betsy's? Because from the point of casting it on, the pattern and the yarn screamed her name to me. Don't be jealous.

So, where can you get this? Here, of course! It's in PDF format so hopefully it's usable on all kinds of devices. I even hope to throw it up on Ravelry soon too.

Oh, I also have something else. What else? Another pattern...

This pic isn't on the pattern, I just liked the sun effect that was present in it and saved it for the blog.
I know! I went kind of crazy lately, feeling a little stuck I guess so the creative mental diarrhea started up... Luckily for everyone else, I wrote it down.

I've been needing a more neutral hat to go with all my jackets. And this is what I came up with. Who needs a pattern for a hat?!? A lot of people I guess because people always ask me for them when I throw one together.

This is just a nice simple masculine hat with a simple wedge stitch pattern and a gradient color change. Most guys I hope wouldn't balk at wearing such a hat. If they do, then they don't deserve little piece of hand knit love. Screw's.

And who get's this one? Me! Sorry guys, this was an item that was all about me. See how I play? But you can go here and knit yourself or that fella in your life one too...

Again, it's in a pdf format and I hope to add it to Ravelry later.

All right, that's enough and I'm getting hungry. Talk to you all later! Promise I'll try harder in February.

Oh no, almost forgot!

I've been spinning a bit too! I needed something a little summery with how brown it was all looking as our snow melted. It's a beautiful Super Fine Merino/Silk/Bamboo 50%/25%/25% mix that almost looks like it was colored with crayons.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Beginning as you wish to end

Obviously Emmitt here has high hopes for the new year. As do I for the poor kid, it's hell getting old and he seems to be moving quite slowly and with a constant gimp. He'll be getting checked out soon, but alas, the kid is 9! It's so hard to believe as he still has the energy of a young pup some days. He is still at his older age the highest energy of our remaining crew.

You can see that Tucker too, is just hoping to have more long walks and lazy post walk naps this year. We're finally looking a bit wintry around here with snow, but he has been enjoying the cold wind it seems. Takes him back to his puppyhood Wyoming possibly? Cold winds often make me think of Casper.

As for this guy, he's had a rough week. Seems to have gotten a stomach bug. I had to leave him at the vet yesterday as both The Guy and I worked and he had stopped eating and drinking, but he seems to be rebounding now and feeling better. Couldn't be that he seems to think he's either a beaver or a squirrel could it? Hoe many times have I had to tell him to stop eating acorns or gnawing on trees? Maybe I need to find him a fiber supplement? The other day on our walk, I found a squirrels stash by accident as I was picking up some poo.

As for us, we had my families traditional New Years Day feast. As for New Years Eve, we stayed home and off the roads. In fact, I was the last one up last night and in bed by 1030. I believe in leaving the roads to the drunks on major holidays, because there's always going to be idiots on the roads but the percentage of drunk idiots on nights like new years in increased and I prefer to stay away from them. They seem to always manage to survive the crash, unlike the rest of us.

What exactly is my feast? Well, A good solid pork roast, cooked al day with a beer and sauerkraut to clean out the gut of last year, and black eyed peas to bring you luck in the new one. And of course some garlic mashed potatoes with gravy for it all! Mmmmmhmmm. But I realized I was kind of short on green vegetables now that I look at it. I'll need to remedy that tomorrow.

The color isn't quite right, much more mellow than what showed up here under the ott light
As for personally starting out the new year right, I may not have my sweater on the needles... Another yarn didn't work out quite right and now I need to do some math work to assure that it all comes together properly despite the fact that I think the designer was smoking more yarn that knitting with it when she wrote her own numbers down, so the sweater is on hold to I make myself sit down and do it. Just the gauge numbers are easy, it's those darn sleeve and shoulder decreases I have to work hard on. Instead, I have another creation on the needles, and perhaps I'll share this pattern with you all since I am actually writing it down as I go. We'll see.

Happy New year to you all on this first eve of twenty-fifteen. I hope you all are as safe and warm as us tonight.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

May the Spirit

Good Evening Readers,

Woodpeckers on the suet in our rain greened lawn... so much for snow for this Alaskan kid.
As I chug along making dinner for us tonight I hope you all are spending your time in a similar fashion doing what brings you and your loved ones joy.
What's a Christmas dinner without my home candied nuts? Please, just because it's a holiday doesn't mean I'm not twisted, run with the unsaid joke...
I hope you had a relaxing holiday as I did today. May you surround yourself with those you consider your family and love as yours. Shower not only your loved ones with your affection, but yourself too.

Nothing says Christmas like homemade cranberry sauce! Yum.
I myself have enjoyed three whole episodes of Downton Abby, and The Guy suffered through them with me... Ah, Love...

MMmmmmm... Cheese sauce.
Truly, I hope these holiday wishes find you safe and warm today and throughout the winter.

Nothing says Love like Potatoes Au Gratin and Glazed Ham, no?

And may the new year bestow blessings upon us all.

Merry Christmas, and to all a Good Night!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

And So We Begin Again

What begins again you ask? To me, the new year. I know, it's not truly the new year, but to me the Winter Solstice always feels like the beginning of a new year. The return of the sun harkens spring and new growth much more than what feels like the arbitrary placement of New Years on the common calendar.

The Solstice Sun's Arc over the Tyrrhenian Sea from the coast of Italy in 2005. Photo originally posted to and credited and copyright: Danilo Pivato
So, in my minds eye, the new year begins today. With that being said I've been looking back on this last year a lot the last couple weeks. It's been a doozy with two major household moves (one 1,900 miles), new jobs for both of us, the loss of Shiela, and countless other changes. Here's hoping 2015 is a bit quieter but no less fun.

the other morning I laid in bed (after walking the dogs mind you and getting a bruised hip in thanks) and watched the sun come up for a few minutes, and found myself looking forward to the return of the light more this year than previously. With my current schedule I'm seeing very little of the light, and with our local dearth of snow, when I'm out with the dogs it is very dark indeed. So much so that The Guy pointed out how filthy a local trail is getting with dog crap and I couldn't even find myself agreeing; because when I'm on that stretch of trail in the morning, it's dark and cold. I haven't actually seen the reported dog turds, nor smelled them. The latter being a small blessing of this time of year mind you.

With this feeling of darkness I for some reason have been feeling that my fiber pursuits production was down this year, which for some reason makes me feel as though I'm a lazy unproductive bump on a log, and I wonder where all my time went, sitting in front of the boob tube? So, I've been looking back at my projects of this past year, and the books I've listened to while working with my hands and I suddenly feel much better about how I spent my time in 2014. For I realized that I knit 12 pairs of socks in one year, each pair being on an average of around 20,000+ stitches and 350 yards of yarn per pair. That means just those projects alone left me with about a quarter million stitches and over 2 full miles of yarn knitted into said stitches to my name for a year.

Then I looked at the fact that I just finished up the last unfinished item in my queue which was the second of two large shawls knit in sock yarn, both taking up about 3 skeins of yarn apiece and the  fact that it was designed on the needles as I knit it. Then there's the realization that I designed and knit the mystery knit along for the yarn store, which was another 900 yards of yarn (which I just discovered I never got a picture of it for the blog! I will work on rectifying that this week), and there were nine other smaller projects that if I play on the conservative side of approximating the yardage knit, was around 1550yards of yarn. Which all together means I knit about 8750 or just shy of 5 miles worth of yarn this year. And now, I don't feel nearly so unproductive, though I'm sure there were other things I could have been doing with that time mind you, and let us not discuss how much spinning I did this year.

Lets not discuss the tediousness and frustration of a double picot edge. Why did I come up with this idea of self torture? Some people... No, I have my limits people, and I will not torture myself more so with sitting down and writing out this pattern either. It was long and boring, believe me, you don't want to do it.
I can tell you that in the Tour de Fleece alone, I spun 5827 or 3.3 miles of yarn and then my other two big spinning projects for the year were an additional 1670 yards and 3976 yards so all together about 11470 yards of yarn spun or six and a half miles.

So, with all that said, and the purple and pink beast above (Peacocks in the Vineyard) I am going to start something for me. Yes, for me... What is that little green square? The beginning of a sweater (Redford) that I've been looking at for almost 2 years now. It is mine!!! Or, it will be in about a month I hope. That is if I stop screwing it up. Of course, it's amazing how much better it went when I said to myself, "Screw what the pattern says, do it your way." I went from tearing out the first 12 rows of that square four different time, so getting all the way through the first round of decreases. The yarn is a Louisa Hardings Aimee which is a 90% Cotton/10% Cashmere yarn. And yes, i'm knitting myself a cotton sweater. Why? Because I realized one day when I was thinking about buying this yarn and kept coming back to the fact that it was a cotton yarn, that all of my favorite store bough sweaters are actually cotton... So, go with what I know I like and will wear, no?

So, with all that said, I hope the solstice treats you all well and here's to another year of watching the ebb and flow of sunlight and seasons with you all. Do something for you this year.

Oh, and eat good too. To celebrate I made a little tropical inspired dish for dinner tonight that is sitting in the fridge awaiting baking. A Chorizo and Cornbread Strata. The Guy made cornbread (from a package mind you... from a package...) for a work gathering so I broke up the leftover and layered it with fresh browned chorizo, green onions, salsa, corn, cheese, and chopped asparagus. Beat up 8 eggs, and a enough milk to bring it all to about 4 cups of liquid, dumped it over the top, let it sit in the fridge overnight and I'm going to bake it tonight at 350 degrees for 45min-an hour or until it's firm and browned. Yep, that's as close as a recipe as your going to get out of me, I create recipes like I create knit shawls, Just Do It Baby! And for those that stear clear of mystery Mexican meat sausage or pork products, I think ground turkey spiced up with a bit of crushed peppers and green chiles would work great too... Just say'n Sara.

Now stop wasting time on the computer and go play in the sun, or knit. Or spin. Just go do something for you.