Sunday, 31 January 2010

Days Four and Five - Finally in Texas

We crossed the Texas state line yesterday morning. It was nice and sunny and the temperatures were in the teens Celsius. We decided to go a little farther than Port Lavaca and spent the night in Sinton, TX (pop. 5,354). This morning we drove to the Rio Grande Valley ending up in McAllen, TX. Tomorrow we'll move into our condo on South Padre Island, unpack and go grocery shopping. All this restaurant eating is disastrous to my waistline.

I finally downloaded my photos taken during our epic voyage.

Here's Skip and the car just as we're getting ready to pull out.
This was the fancy McDonalds we bought lattes at:
People were just hanging out there, reading the paper, using the wifi, watching the big TV, etc.

I  became quite proficient at multi-tasking while Skip drove.
 This was one of the attactions in Tuscaloosa, AL - home of the University of Alabama Crimson Tide.
I knew we were really in the south when we started seeing mistletoe in the trees. The arrow is pointing to mistletoe. It is a parasite that grows in the form of round balls of tiny-leaved foliage.

Mississippi had a very fancy tourist information centre.
The stepping stones on the ground in front of the sign were quite informative:

And the inside of the building was impressive: 

We finally made it to Louisiana in the torrential rain.

I use lots of navigational devices when Skip drives. It keeps me out of trouble.

After about 3400km, we arrived in the Rio Grande Valley under sunny, clear skies and temperatures of 15C.

I ♥ palm trees.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Our Odyssey - Day Three

Today we continued on our southward itinerary. We had a fairly easy drive through the NW corner of Birmingham, AL before heading in a SW direction on I-20 through Tuscaloosa, AL; Meridian and Jackson, MS; then down I-55 to I-12 to Baton Rouge, LA then to I-10 to Lafayette, LA where we are spending the night - for a total of 753km.

Great things:
  • I found my misplaced knitting this morning! YAY! It was shoved under the driver's seat of the car. I even got a couple of rows knit on it.
  • the temperatures rose from 6C near Birmingham, AL this morning to a high of 19C in Lafayette when we checked into our lodgings.
  • we had an excellent Italian meal at Antoni's in Lafayette near the U of Lafayette campus
  • our plan to evade the freezing rain worked!
Not-so-great things:
  • it poured rain for much of our drive today
  • some of the pavement on the interstates today was really noisy to drive on. Combined with the torrential rain, it was a very wearing drive
  • the temperatures have dropped this evening since the sun went down
Tomorrow, we are aiming for Port Lavaca, TX on the Gulf of Mexico. We have made reservations at the Best Western there which is 1 mile from the Formosa Wetlands walkway, an elevated walk of recycled plastic stretching over coastal wetlands into Lavaca Bay at the Lighthouse Beach and Bird Sanctuary.

Sunday night we plan to spend the night near McAllen, TX in Edinburg - home of the Scenic Wetlands aka the sewage ponds.

I haven't dug out my camera USB cord so I can't post any photos yet. Hopefully tomorrow.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Our Odyssey - Day Two

Great things:
  • we got up bright and early this morning and got on the road by 6:45am. Today we decided to drive as far as we could in daylight hours as we were trying to outrun the snow/ice/freezing rain storm that is coming across from Oklahoma almost to the day of the BIG ICE STORM that went through last year.
  • we believe we were successful in outrunning the storm as we made it 300+km south of the predicted line of ice and snow.  We will get rain tomorrow but it won't be in solid form.
  • we crossed into Central time somewhere in Kentucky so got another hour of driving in for a total of 11 hours on the road (counting comfort and food stops) and covered 930km. Major cities we drove through were Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville, Nashville and we're just north of Birmingham, AL tonight.
  • we asked the desk clerk at our motel for his restaurant recommendations. As a result we ate an amazing barbequed pork dinner at Full Moon Barbeque  - the "Best Little Pork House in Alabama". (urp)
  • this evening just before the sun went down it was 15C here. I didn't wear my coat at any time once we left Lima, OH this morning.
  • I made significant progress on the Kaffe Fassett leafy lace pattern hat during today's trip. I only had to 'tink' the first row I knit this morning a couple of times but got the hang of the leaf pattern enough to get several rows done. 
Not-so Great Thing:
  • I lost said (effing) leaf pattern hat project and needles!!!!!!!  I couldn't find it after checking into the motel this evening. I haven't torn the car apart yet and am hoping it'll appear tomorrow but tonight I can't find it. Argh!!! Those of you who know me personally will also note that this is not the first time I've lost a knitting project on a car trip.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Our Odyssey - Day One

We got away this morning by 8:45. We had a very uneventful drive and no lineup at the Bluewater Bridge crossing into the US. The drive through Detroit was amazingly easy with only very light traffic as was the drive through Toledo. I love the Interstate system in the US. We arrived in Lima (pronounced like the bean), Ohio at about 4:45. Tomorrow we hope to make it into Alabama tomorrow as we're trying to outrun a storm that is already hitting Oklahoma.

One remarkable thing today was a McDonalds south of Toledo where we had a 'comfort' stop. They made an awesome McLatte and the dining area looked like a Second Cup with a two-sided fireplace in the middle with big flat-screen TVs above each one and lots of comfy seating for eating and wifi use. People were there checking e-mail, watching CNN on the TV and enjoying their McMeals with friends. Their McBathrooms were also very fancy and clean.

I did some knitting in the car (while Skip was driving) and got the welt band done on the Kaffe Fassett hat but I had to change needle size to start the leaf pattern and couldnt't reach them so I did some more work on the second sleeve of the purple cardigan.

After supper, I got the needle size changed on the hat but had to tink and frog several times after realizing I wasn't reading the pattern properly. Part of it is because the pattern is translated from German and the other factor is most likely that I'm quite pooped after only 4 hours of sleep last night. I was so geeked up about the trip, it was like I'd downed a few espressi before going to bed. Tonight, I'm sure I'll drop off to sleep quite easily.

Tomorrow will be a long day. We hope to travel at least 800km with an 8am (or earlier) departure and gaining an extra hour crossing into Central time.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

One More Sleep

These past few days I've had lists running through my head. Skip and I are heading out tomorrow for our epic voyage to south Texas where we will be spending the month of February. There are lists of things to do, things to buy, people to call, errands to run, items to find, etc. And of course the only things I've packed so far are knitting items. I have several projects to take - most which I can do in the car with a little bit of concentration.

I cast on this hat last night. It has a welt band that I've never done before. It should be a good project for the car.

At some point today, I'll start packing clothes. I take a small suitcase with things I'll be wearing on the way down and put my summer things in a duffel bag that will stay in the car until we arrive at our ultimate destination.

I know I always forget to bring some stuff but I'm hoping by making lists and packing over a few days to it will minimize the things we'll be doing without or have to replace when we get down there.

Friday, 22 January 2010

2 Great Things

Great thing, the first:

Last night I went to my monthly embroidery guild meeting. I usually stop by the coffee shop and get a latte before the meeting gets underway. When I went to pay, the barista informed me that according to my loyalty card, this latte was free. YAY! On closer inspection of my loyalty card, she said I also qualified for a second  free latte so I guess I'll have it next time I'm at the library.

Great thing, the second:

I then sat down at the meeting and opened up my needlework bag and started pulling out projects and tools and what did I find? MY MITTENS I THOUGHT I HAD LOST!! My moose mittens were there! And they'd been there since December 16. YAY! I don't have to knit them again.

Let's have another look at them, shall we? 

 I love it when I find stuff I've misplaced.

And, of course, a not-so-good thing:

I did some stitching on the hardanger project I started back in November. Unfortunately, red fibres from the jacket I was wearing were getting mixed into the bright, white threads of the project and I think I'm going to have to pick the stitches out and re-do them. Sigh.

Lesson learned: Don't do needlework when you have something on that is shedding fibres.

I finished the body of my cardigan and have about half of the first sleeve done. I'll take some pics tomorrow with some natural light. The stocking stitch above the fair isle bands is not as mind-numbing as I thought it would be.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Four-Leaf Clover Mittens

I finished these mittens today.

NHM #7 - Four-Leaf Clover Mittens.

I used 'sticky' wool yarn that would have been closer to the kind used in Norway than the sock yarn I had been using. It is Briggs and Little Durasport and has some nylon in it but is fairly 'scratchy'. Since the feet have the thickest skin on them of the whole body, I guess it would be OK for socks but the Durasport makes a pretty fine mitten, too.

I have enough left over to make several more pairs and I found a hank of a lovely heathered purple Durasport in my stash as well.

The "Icelandic Star" cardigan is coming along. I'm very close to the point on the body of it where I'll set it aside and start the sleeves. I'll have to do a bit of math to calculate the sleeve length that I like and proportionate increases but for the most part it's stocking stitch once I get past the two-colour work above the cuffs. I am making the body an inch or two longer than the model in the magazine and not quite as form-fitting. I also plan to do the grey and white stars on all of the black fair-isle detail on the body and the sleeves instead of just on the yoke.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

♫"Knitting in the Dark" ♫

I went to see "Precious" today. It was an excellent movie and I'm very pleased Mo'nique just won (as I'm writing this) a Golden Globe award for her role. As I only have stocking stitch to do on the "Icelandic Star" cardigan for several inches, I took it to knit in the dark. I got a couple of inches done including finishing one ball of yarn and starting another.

Once home, I had a chance to take a look at what I had done and checked to see if I had made any mistakes. And there were none! Yay!


I'm starting to think of projects to take with me to Texas. I have a couple of mitten patterns I want to do and this tam:

In this colourway ------>

(Photos by Jared Flood)

The pattern is in Jared Flood's new Classic Elite book "Made in Brooklyn". I'm going to be using yummy soft alpaca yarn. The key to blocking it is using a dinner plate. I'm sure I'll be able to find one in Texas.

 I had lots of fun yesterday teaching the second of two sock classes. My students all had opted to do the 'Eye of Partridge' heel after seeing how nice it looked compared to a plain sl 1, k1 heel flap. They really seemed to get the hang of grafting using Kitchener stitch on their little swatches. After correcting my omission on the pattern (I was mortified!), they got underway decreasing for the toe. I'm sure they'll be able to finish up their socks very capably.

Friday, 15 January 2010

What Knitting Podcasts Do I Listen To?

Sitting around this afternoon at my Thursday after knitting group we started talking about knitting podcasts. I love them. My husband doesn't like it when I read in bed when he's trying to sleep so podcasts are my substitute for that relaxing activity before I fall asleep. Many mornings I wake up having slept on top of my iPod all night or somewhat tangled up in my earphones.

Here are some that I regularly download. I'm won't insert all of the links so just google them and listen to them or download them as you see fit. You can also open iTunes and use the search feature to download them. You can subscribe to podcasts and then they'll automatically download whenever a new one is available the next time you open iTunes. Then synch your iPod. If you don't have an iPod, you can listen to them on your computer or download them to your mp3 player.

Here they are in no particular order:
  • The KnitPicks Podcast - KnitPicks
  • Ready, Set, Knit! - WEBS podcast
  • Sticks and String Podcast - David Reidy, 'an Australian bloke who knits'
  • Never Not Knitting Podcast
  • Knit Obsession with zknits
  • Knitty Nora's Knitting Natter
  • The Manic Purl Podcast
  • She-Knits Smalltalk Podcast (formerly She-Knits Podcast: the Knitting Circle)
  • Yarn Thing: Crochet and Knitting
  • Limenviolet's Podcast (I find this one quite annoying but some may enjoy 
  • Socks in the City
  • Stitch Stud and his Bride
  • Sleepy Eyes Knits
  • Let's Knit2gether - a video podcast
Today, I started the Icelandic Star cardigan from the Winter 2009 Interweave Knits. I don't have a photo of the first 4 1/2 inches that I've knit but this is the yarn I'm using:

The purple is the main colour. Some knitters on Ravelry have knit it in the round and steeked it so as to avoid having to purl with two colours but I haven't tried steeking yet and wasn't brave enough to do it with this big project so I'm just doing it as printed. I'm not finding that purling the two-colour work is very difficult anyway.

This sweater is seamless with the body and sleeves knit separately and then joined at the yoke with the fair isle pattern. Then the little stars are embroidered along the centre of the fair isle design.

I think it will knit up quite quickly.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Je déteste l'hiver!*

On a happier note...

Yesterday, I had a delightful time at the library sitting and knitting. I also took some photos of the display that is up this month of the Durham Hand Knitting Guild.

 On the top shelf is draped my lavender-coloured Lace and Ribbon scarf. Two shelves down is my Madli's  scarf, my blue Blossom Diamond scarf and papaya-coloured Peacock Tail and Leaf scarf.

And beneath the scarf is my pair of Charade socks lying on my Angel Lace shawl and under the red arrow is a pair of my Selbu mittens.

I keep forgetting that there's a Sit 'n Knit at Kniterary on Wednesday afternoons. I'm going to drop in tomorrow. Maybe the yarn for my cardigan will be in?

*I hate winter!

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Stash Containment

Skip and I had a fun day at IKEA the other day. We had a terrific Swedish meatball combo lunch and then shopped for various items. One of the items I bought was a birch Expedit shelving unit and 2 Lekman sliding bins.
Today, I finally got things moved out and around in my office and got the unit assembled, up and loaded. It looks like a mini yarn shop in here now. I grabbed some knitting books that were lying around the room and was pleased to see that there was more than enough height to the shelf to accommodate them.

 I don't have a very big stash, nor is this all of it. However between this unit and the other containers that I have, it pretty much takes care of my unused yarn. I do have a bunch of UFOs that I'm deciding whether I'll frog and rewind the yarn, will finish them up or take them with me to work on during our holiday in Texas.

My husband refers to me as 'acquisitive'. I appreciate the euphemism but really would call myself a packrat, have a lot of 'stuff' and am somewhat messy. It is good, however, to tackle some piles and do a purging. It does make me feel somewhat freer.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon teaching a sock class and then sitting and knitting with my 'peeps'. Knitters understand other knitters and the passion we have for the creative process, the tactile satisfaction of working with lovely yarn and the challenges posed when tacking a new project. What a lovely way to spend one's time.

While there, I finished the first NHM #7 mitten except for the thumb. It's called a 'four-leaf clover' pattern.

Friday, 8 January 2010

All Better Now

I got my CPU back today. YAY! The hard drive was replaced with a bigger one that runs much cooler. The power supply was also replaced and my RAM was doubled to speed things up somewhat. AND all my data was recovered and transferred to the new hard drive and everything works and I'm still on the Windows XP platform. YES!

So most of the innards of my computer have been replaced/updated and it's like a new one for under $300 including labour and tax.

In knitting news, I've been working on NHM #7 from the "Selbuvotter:..." book. It's a 'four-leaf clover" pattern.

 I'm using Briggs & Little Durasport yarn and 2.75mm needles. The mittens are a little bigger than when I use the same needles and same number of stitches with the Sisu yarn. Skip wants them to put over his gloves for when he's shovelling snow. I'm going to let Skip have them - for now. Then I'll knit him a nice, plain pair and felt them. They'll be much more durable that way.

Another reason I'm thrilled the computer is back and working is now I can retrieve the sock lesson notes I had already made and finish prepping for the class I'm teaching on the weekend.

Tomorrow Skip and I are going to the Timex outlet. I want to get a heart rate monitor watch. I'm also interested in looking at the ladies' Expedition watches. After that we're heading to our favourite 'dim sum' place in Markham. They have lunch specials from Monday to Friday before 11:30am and after 1:30pm where the dishes regardless of size are only $2 each.  Yum! And a bargain, too! After that, we're going to make a quick stop at Mary's Yarns in Unionville before setting out for home.

Life is good.

Monday, 4 January 2010

On the Fritz

On Christmas Eve we had a little power failure. Both Skip and I were working on our respective computers. When the power came back on, his computer booted, mine did not. Since then, I've been making do with my 5 year-old Toshiba laptop but don't have it connected to a printer as of yet. I need to download the drivers but it slows the connection down so much we can't use our computers so I'll have to start the download after Skip goes to bed.

Skip is a Mac user, I am not. The word processing program I'm most comfortable using is Word Perfect. It was free to schools in Ontario so that is what I used exclusively during my teaching career and since I retired.  Word Perfect is not compatible with Skip's Mac computer so if I want to print something, I compose the file in Word Perfect, publish it to PDF. Then I e-mail it to Skip's computer, 2 rooms and approximately 20 feet away and he prints it. Fortunately, I haven't had to print much lately, however I have been working on my notes for my sock knitting class on Saturday so I had to get him to print them for me.

Although I purchased an external hard drive a few months ago, I haven't been using it all the time to back up my files. I've been too lazy to figure out how to set it to back up only the files I've added or saved since the last backup. The last time I backed up all my files was near the end of November. Since then I prepped for my sock-knitting course which I begin teaching this Saturday. I also had saved a few photos since November. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the nice people at the computer repair shop will be able to boot up my computer and I'll be able to retrieve my files. Just in case they can't I spent most of last night ('til 2am !) re-creating the file for my sock-knitting lesson.

Right now my desk is SO messy, with computer cables everywhere - some not hooked up to anything, some hooked up to my laptop. And then there's all the knitting needles and yarn...

Sunday, 3 January 2010

2009 in Review

These are the projects I completed in 2009:
I have 8 unfinished projects some of which I'm going to frog or just leave unfinished.

Last night I finished the first stained glass mitten except for the thumb and have cast on the 2nd.

I hope to not have to rip the second one out as many times as I did the first one.

    Friday, 1 January 2010


    The other day at Kniterary I noticed some handwarmers that Martina had knit using Vickie Hartog's "Fair Isle Hand Warmers" pattern. I thought they looked very spiffy and thought I'd make mittens extending the basic pattern. It calls for DK weight yarn so I figured I should use slightly smaller needles with the worsted weight yarn I was using.

    The pattern calls for 4mm needles so I started with 3.75mm and the cuff looked huge. I ripped it out and started again with a smaller needle. I knit another cuff and a few centimetres of the pattern and realized it was going to be too tight. Rip! I went up a needle size and tried again, knitting the cuff and most of the pattern. It still was too small. Rip! Then I cast on using a 4mm needle. Much better. After knitting the cuff and a few more rows, I discovered I had made a major pattern mistake on the palm and ripped back to the row before. I used a 2.5mm needle to pick up the stitches and started knitting away again. A few rows later I realized I hadn't transferred the stitches back to the 4mm needle. Rip!

    I now have finished the entire pattern and have begun a repeat to extend the hand long enough for mittens. I think I finally have it right. I'm calling them Stained Glass mittens.


    One would think that after knitting 5 pairs of mittens with very intricate designs using fingering weight yarn that using worsted weight yarn would be easier.