Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Do Not Squander Time...

…for that is the stuff life is made of. Ben Franklin
I had a really nice weekend. The weather was pretty good. I got some work done in the yard and around the house, but I didn’t go overboard and try to do too much. There were a few weekends earlier in the Spring when I worked close to 10 hours outside on Saturday, then paid for it on Sunday with total exhaustion.
It was still cool enough to bake, so on Saturday morning I made banana bread to use up a mushy banana, and threw in a meager picking of strawberries too. It turned out quite well. After years of making banana bread that I just didn’t like, I returned to a recipe that I learned in 7th grade, from the Betty Crocker Cookbook, and that’s the only one I make now.
On Sunday I made a cream cheese quiche with onion and bacon. I seem to be on a quiche kick – this is the second one I’ve made in two weeks. Both were very good!
So where does the squandering of time come in? Well, in knitting, unfortunately. I had been gifted with some needlework supplies earlier in the week, and among the needlepoint canvas and crewel yarn was a variety of colors of Red Heart acrylic. My first thought was to put the Red Heart in the box I have going to Goodwill. But then I thought maybe I would use some of the colors for slippers, and add some of my coned yarn to liven them up a bit. Or make a child’s sweater.
I spent too much time thinking about this yarn, searching for an appropriate pattern, starting the project, and then realizing what I knew all along, that it just wouldn’t be a nice finished product. And I knew this going in, so why couldn’t I stop myself?
I guess it comes from the old “waste not, want not” philosophy. Even though I hadn’t spent money for the yarn, or maybe because I hadn’t spent money on the yarn, if I could make something good with it, I would be at an advantage.
But life really is too short not to work with good yarn. So I will happily take this to the Goodwill on Friday, and who knows, maybe I will find some treasure there. Maybe not yarn, but maybe a cute summer top, or a book I’ve been wanting to read, or the perfect size teapot that’s also easy to clean.
With a long weekend coming up, there will be plenty of time to do good things: a little cleaning, a little visiting with family, and a lot of knitting. And if I squander time, I hope it’s only to take a really good nap!
Rusty is the king of naps!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer Sweater

Last winter I enjoyed wearing this wool sweater around the house. It kept me warm. Truth be told, it was a little roomy, but oh so comfy.

I decided a cotton version would make a nice summer sweater. Something I could throw on if the air conditioning got too chilly, or on a cool summer evening. I wanted to make another top-down raglan, but I wanted the finished cardigan to not be so loose.

I read through the design sections of Wendy Bernard’s “Custom Knits”, and followed her formula for calculating the cast on. I decided I wanted a v-neck, and may have fudged a little on getting that started, but I figured the neck and front edging would help work ease out any jogs or width issues.

Years ago, when Lion Brand discontinued their Cotton-Ease yarn (it’s since been reintroduced), I bought up a bunch of it on clearance in two shades of blue. I picked the lighter shade, and decided that I wanted a textured stitch pattern. I didn’t see any in my stitch dictionaries that said “knit me”, but I saw something similar to this one in a photo. I charted out what I thought was an interesting texture, and knit a swatch. I even tried adding a spreckled blue coned yarn I had for extra interest, but it made the fabric too stiff. I wanted soft and drapey.

As I knit, and started shaping the neck opening, I added the new stitches to the stitch pattern right away, rather than wait until I had a full 8 stitch repeat. This still gives definition to the raglan seam lines, but does not make a jagged looking wedge of knitting.

At this point, I’m still shaping to the top of the sweater, and getting to the antsy stage. I know it’s not deep enough to cover the arms yet, but I don’t want to make too deep of an arm syce. Also, this stitch pattern is actually a ribbing variation, so its tendency is to pull in, making it look like the sweater will be way too small. It makes me not trust my calculations. I’m worried that my sweater won’t fit me, but a child instead. However, I’ve been stretching out little sections, like across the arm, and when I do that, it looks fine.
As today is the first day of summer, my hopes for finishing this sweater before fall are iffy. I’m still working on the first ball on yarn! That’s great, and means that I should have plenty of yarn to make this sweater with some left over. But it does mean I have a long way to go. And with so many other projects on the needles, I don’t want to see this one get put aside. Tonight I hope to finish the first ball of yarn, and do some measuring. So far, so good!

Sunday, June 19, 2011


The blog has been at a standstill for a while now, and here’s the reason why. I wrote the following back in January, and thought I needed to add some photos to go with it. But I stalled at adding the photos, never having the two jump drive in the same place at the same time, remembering too late at night, etc.

And since then, many really good blog entries have written themselves in my head, but I really wanted this entry to precede them, so they sat and stagnated.

So I’m finally getting this January Resolution out there, and maybe after this I can get back to the fun knitting blather…

From January -

I’ve been trying to think of how I’m going to jump back into blogging, and I guess I’d better just do it! Even though it’s almost the end of January, I’m still trying to plan out the year, in many ways. The following areas come to mind: work, home projects, money, needlework, organizing. No need to go into the work stuff here. As for the others…

Home projects: I stopped blogging in late summer because life got a little hectic. My brother Tom got started on another renovation project for me. We replaced the last of the old windows in my house with new double hung windows. This was a big undertaking, and it’s not quite finished. It’s up to me now to sand and paint the interior walls of the sunroom while my brother plans what kind of interior trim work he will make. I have the paint and other supplies; I just need to get moving.

Money: I am still trying to get my finances in order so that I can retire when the time comes and not feel panicked. I made progress last year, and that’s encouraging. There’s still a lot more to do, and changing habits is an ongoing process.

Needlework: I accomplished quite a bit last year, but I could work on knitting, crocheting, sewing, and others all day long and still never achieve all my goals. This is one area I’m still trying to sort out.

Organizing: There is still too much stuff in my house. And it’s still way too disorganized. I keep a box out all the time for Goodwill donations, and have a nice stack of boxes set aside for an upcoming garage sale. However, as I’ve said before, this is almost another hobby, and one I could work on all day long as well.

Finally: I’ve been thinking a lot lately about personal privacy. On the one hand, while it’s fun to share all my activities, trials, achievements, and experiences, and get feedback and encouragement, I’ve started to feel that maybe too much information is being shared. I have very few blog followers; just a few friends and relatives, so the likelihood of having my privacy invaded is small. But with the glut of social media these days, it just seems like everyone is rushing to share their most personal thoughts and feelings with a whole universe of total strangers, without realizing the potential consequences. It’s overwhelming. I can read blogs that I think are about knitting and suddenly they go down the path of child rearing, or politics, or mental and physical disabilities. And while I understand that we are not one-dimensional, it feels like someone has just blurted out some inappropriate remark or had a private conversation overheard.

All the information that we are bombarded with on a daily basis is too overwhelming; it’s giving me the desire to withdraw from the hectic, fast paced frenzy of it more than ever. I’ve been thinking about Emily Dickinson, and her reclusive life, and wondering if would work for me. Can I be a recluse with a blog? Seems contradictory, doesn’t it?

Well, I think I might just try it. After all, even though Emily was reclusive, she was a prolific correspondent. And even if I just stick to writing about knitting, and maybe throw in a photo of a cat or some garden flowers, I still should have plenty to write about!