Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm Having Issues.

Gauge issues. This is the last of the belated Christmas gifts that I am still trying to finish. (Christmas last year. Long story. Don't ask.) And it's been awhile since I've done any two-color knitting. These little ear flaps are knitted flat (rather than circular), which complicates matters. It seems that I purl much more loosely than I knit, so my gauge is off. Not so much the stitch gauge, but the row gauge. The first time I knitted one of these pieces, what was supposed to be 4” tall turned out 5 1/4”. The width, which was also supposed to be 4”, was 4 1/2” How can that be??? Wouldn't it seem logical that it would increase equally in both directions? Clearly, my knitting is messing with me again. Anyway, I frogged & went down a needle size. When I finished these two pieces (and they turned out a bit closer to the suggested size) & attached them to the body of the hat to work in the round, my gauge suddenly changed, and I needed to jump back up a needle size to have the stitches look more alike. Live and learn.

Well, I am glad that I'm down to the last project.

I did finish a set of quilted placemats for the in-laws. Doug's folks in Arizona moved into a new home last year, and these should work well with their new décor & dishes. The placemats are reversible. I machine quilted a large piece of fabric for the centers, cut that into 12 3/4” squares, then added the side rectangles. Binding took the longest.

On another front, the chickens have suddenly realized that the days are getting longer again! We are getting 2 – 5 eggs/day from our eight little ladies. As the days lengthen even more, we will get 6 or 7/day. The weather has been warm enough that the girls have been able to go out & wander in the yard, searching out bugs & worms to consume. Amazing little creatures, these hens! They take leftover food, & veggie scraps from food preparation, along with a bit of chicken food, and make eggs out of them, all the while entertaining us with their antics.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year, 2010!

We were so happy to have the family with us for the holidays. Last year, snow nearly everywhere from Bellingham WA to Billings MT kept our daughter & her boyfriend on the other side of the hump. We didn't get together until spring. But this year, travel was without incident, and all made it here safely. Lisa & Josh, Brian & Robin, Scott, Jeff & Mandi were all here at the same time. Daughter-in-law, Libby had to work & we missed her, but her gift went home with Jeff. And Doug was actually off both Christmas Eve & Christmas Day!

We did have a house-full, and had planned to overflow into our trailer. When I went out to turn up the heat & make up the bed, I found that the carpet in the bedroom was saturated with water. Squishy. Nearly frozen. No mildew, though. There was “room at the inn”, fortunately, so Brian & Robin went to stay at the Comfort Inn nearby. I hear that the TV was better there, anyway. (The trailer will be fine.)

Brian & Robin have a tradition of making chocolate truffles every year. They got a late start this year, but worked early into the morning preparing ganache in various flavors (lavender/vanilla is our favorite), which they brought here to finish off with the assistance of other family members. It's a messy job, but, you know, somebody's got to do it. While the rest of us were in the kitchen, Doug & Josh pulled the soggy carpet from the trailer.

Gifting is sometimes a challenge, but I think I did okay this year. I swore up & down that I wasn't going to knit any Christmas gifts this year, and I really didn't do very much. The one that remains to be opened was the biggest project, and of course I can't tell you because the recipient hasn't received it yet. But here's a peek.

I can tell you that I got hooked on the “Mrs. Beeton” wrist warmer pattern from I wore the first one while knitting the second one, and I haven't been able to part with any of them yet. I can knit one in an evening, and despite the fact that they're, as one knitter describes, “a bit fiddly”, they turn out gorgeous, and I feel compelled to choose different colors of DK yarn to combine with different colors of lace weight yarn, and beads. Oh My, the possibilities. And I really don't even like ruffles. It just seems that no matter how warm the rest of me is, the wrists are cold. Not enough fat or muscle mass there, I guess. The ones I plan to keep are alpaca, which should be really warm.

The one major project that I did finish this year was the Christmas tree skirt. I've made five of this pattern now, and this is the first one I've kept. Over the years, one was made for Jeff & Libby using fabrics from their wedding, one for Scott (who was a banker at the time) out of neckties, and two of Christmas fabrics. This one is staying with us.

Happy New Year, everybody!