Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Under Construction

I'm sort of in between knitting projects at the moment. I finished up my socks for the year and have my first pair of 2015 picked out, but I'm taking a little break from sock knitting for now (mostly because I don't want to mess up my nice round number of completed socks for the year). But I can't just not knit. So I've been doing some quick, random projects.

Yesterday was an uninspired kitty toy since I had previously promised Olive that I'd make her one. So far, Cocoa has been the only one to play with it, but she was enthusiastic in her biting and bunny-kicking, so I can't be upset about that.

I thought about making another kitty toy today but honestly, in the way of all cats, my cats are the type to prefer to sleep in the box instead of the expensive cat bed that came in it. So no kitty toy today. Well, except for the pattern I picked is supposed to be a kitty toy.

Construction Cone

This one is mine though! Or Dan's. His desk is pretty messy; it might need to marked as a construction zone.

Instead of stuffing this with fiberfil, as directed by the pattern, I used some plastic canvas sheets. After all, it isn't to be a kitty toy so it doesn't need to be soft. Naturally, this means the kitties will most likely try to destroy it. But until then, I have a construction cone that is reinforced and sturdy, ready to denote any area in which caution should be taken!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

More Winning

Guess what? I won more yarn!

Plymouth Sockotta

This one was another prize from my 12 Socks in 2014 Ravelry Group and I won one of the November drawings. That makes three drawings I've won in two months - and I've wound up with some pretty awesome yarn!

It's ironic that I've started to win yarn right about the time I banned myself from buying more. I don't plan for it to be a long ban, but getting the prize yarns has made it easier to stick to. That and the fact that I have a ton of awesome yarn and not too much room for more!

Must knit faster!

Mission Accomplished!

I have done 30 socks for the year!

Slipper Socks

This last pair was just a quick (two days!) pair of slipper socks. Worsted weight yarn, size US4 needles, 44 stitches around, and footies - all these things combined to allow me to squeak one more pair in to my 2014 count.

I did run out of yarn and have to finish the socks off with something else, which was a bit sad, but I think they turned out okay. Well, ugly but in a charming way maybe? The variegated yarn did end up pooling and it did it in a pretty cool way, I think.

Slipper Socks

I instinctively dislike pooling, but sometimes it does cool stuff that is repeated or mirrored on both socks and then it's pretty cool. This falls in the cool category for me. Always a nice surprise!

These puppies are superwash wool though, so I'm thinking I'll put some Plasti-Dip on the bottom to keep the holes away - and to make them not so slippery. Because they are crazy slick on our laminate floors. But they have to finish drying first and I have to figure out the best way to paint them. Maybe with a foot form in them? Something. I'll figure it out.

And then I can start on my 12 socks for 2015!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Number 29

After hitting a bit of a knitter's block for a couple of weeks, I've finally rediscovered my knitting mojo and have managed to finish another pair of socks!

Gentleman's Fancy Socks

This pair is for Dan and I think was bribery for doing something, but it's been almost six weeks now and I can't recall what I was trying to bribe him in to. Regardless, he gets socks!

Even if I hadn't run out of knitting steam just over half way through these, this pair would have taken a little bit longer than my norm because I had to reknit the toes. I'm still searching for the knitting merit badge that I believe this deserves.

Speaking of knitting accomplishments, I noticed that the repeating pattern would make it fairly easy for me to figure out how many stitches are in these socks. So I figured it out.

Each toe and heel had about 1,248 stitches and each block section was 720 stitches each... so short row toes (not including the first ones I had to frog), short row heels, plus 21 block sections... that's about 17,616 stitches per sock or 35,232 stitches total. Over 35,000 stitches. Okay, maybe I never need to calculate that again.

I have only a tiny amount of time before 2014 is over and honestly, I'd really like to make it to thirty pairs of socks. I see some worsted weight footies in my future.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

I'm Sneaky

In my quest for 12 socks (and slippers) in 2014, I've shared that I was up to pair #22. Well, I might have fudged a little. I'm really up to pair #28.

Christmas Slippers

Yep, I made Christmas slippers. From left to right, they are for (top row) my dad, my father-in-law, Dan (though these were given prior to Christmas because he is impatient), (bottom row) my mom, my mother-in-law, and my aunt.

Of course, when gifting wool slippers to people, you do want to make sure you also haven't given them something that will make them slip and break their neck. (Newly made wool slippers are crazy slick - I've almost fallen more than once when my slippers were new or newly washed). So I put little non-stick bottoms on them!

With Sticky Bottoms!

The bottoms are out of a product called Plasti-Dip, which is a liquid plastic I picked up at Lowe's used to put plastic handles on pliers and such. Instead, I put it on the slippers with a little foam brush. Honestly, it's so awesome. I'm kind of tempted to take the leftover Plasti-Dip and put it on my slippers (but I like sliding sometimes so I just can't quite bring myself to, no matter how neat it is.) I have about half a container of the dip left and, assuming it stays good, I do have thoughts of making myself a big fuzzy pair of slipper socks and putting bottoms on them. It's just too neat not to use.

Anyway, I've been working on these puppies since June and I'm so glad I finally get to include them in my yearly sock/slipper total. (Also, this is the project that broke my washing machine. Yes, felting all these slippers killed my old top loader. So thank you Christmas slippers, for buying me a new washer dryer set!)

Yay for 28 pairs! I have one more pair that I'm almost done with (more socks for Dan) so I'm really hoping to get my total up to 29 before the year ends. Of course, if I could I'd love to get to 30, which is a nice round number, but I don't think I can knit a pair of socks that quickly... unless it is a big fuzzy pair?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Our Week

Dan took a vacation week last week and we used the time to do some home improvements.

First on the list was the master bedroom.


Master Before


Master After

This one wasn't a huge project - mostly just filling some holes from the previous owners, fixing some nail pops, giving it a (matching) coat of paint and getting in a new light fixture. We do still have to figure out what we are going to do with the windows - we are debating between wooden blinds and Roman shades - but other than that (and the eventual house-wide carpet replacement) we are done!

Next up, the guest bathroom.


Guest Bath Before

In process:

Guest Bath During

Originally were were just going to paint, but then we decided maybe we wanted to go ahead and replace the vanity sooner rather than later and things just snowballed from there.

This project is, naturally, going to take a bit longer than the bedroom as we are pretty much gutting and redoing the room. We still have to finish taking up the floor tile and removing the fiberglass tub/shower combo thing. But we already have a vanity and mirror purchased and new tile picked out for the shower so we are making slowly moving forward!

Dan also got some beer brewing done this weekend; he made a golden stout and an kind-of imperial stout. No pictures of that, but the kitchen in the midst of the brewing looked very similar to the in process picture of the guest bathroom above.

Yay for productive vacations!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Book 14: Success!

Previously, I expressed some difficulty in attempting to read A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. It took me a little bit, but I was able to get past the wonky (and, in my view, occasionally illogical) made-up slang and actually figure out what the heck was going on in the book.
Our pockets were full of deng, so there was no real need from the point of view of crasting any more pretty polly to tolchock some old veck in an alley and viddy him swim in his blood while we counted the takings and divided by four, nor to do the ultra-violent on some shivering starry grey-haired ptitsa in a shop and go smecking off with the till’s guts. But, as they say, money isn’t everything.

At times, getting past the slang was easier said than done, but I found as long as I picked the book up fairly regularly, I could keep in the mindset that allowed me to not get tripped up on the slang.

Once I got past that, the book actually ended up fairly interesting. The main point seemed to be about choice and yeah, it was a bit heavy handed with that.
A man who cannot choose ceases to be a man.
Is a man who chooses the bad perhaps in some ways better than a man who has the good imposed upon him?
Goodness comes from within.... Goodness is something chosen. When a man cannot choose he ceases to be a man.
They have turned you into something other than a human being. You have no power of choice any longer. You are committed to socially acceptable acts, a little machine capable only of good.
Beat that dead horse, baby.

No, but really. It did bring up some interesting things to think about and it came at a good time for me, so thumbs up on that. But honestly, I think the end kind of fizzled and it left me wondering what the takeaway was supposed to be.

Apparently, the last chapter (SPOILERS: where Alex gets bored with his youthful life of violence and decides he'd like to be married and have a child and effectively grows out of his thieving, assaulting, raping and murdering ways in one night), was originally removed from the US versions of this book. (It was this edited version that Stanley Kubrick's movie was based on, which is probably why watching the movie didn't help me resolve any of my issues with the book.) I can understand that because, to me, it ends the book on a confusing note. It kind of messed with what I saw to be the strong choice-related themes of the book.

I think if the book had ended differently (the last chapter particularly, but I think it started to decline when Alex ended up in the hospital), I might have actually enjoyed this book. As it is, I'm left with kind of a "meh" feeling about it all. It was interesting and provoked some interesting conversation with Dan, but it could have been more.

Anyway, I'm apparently still on my weirdly violent (violently weird?) book kick. And I've just started reading a Haruki Murakami book, so I don't think the kick is done yet.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sock Repair

So I messed up. I'm (slowly) working on a pair of socks right now for Dan and I was attempting a short row toe. Only thing with a short row toe - you have to know how many total stitches you will use for the sock and then you have to do a little math and accurately count to make the short row toe work. Well, apparently I forgot the whole "accurate" part of the counting thing and ended up with way-too-pointy sock toes.

At times, I'm okay with minor mistakes in my socks. But something like this? Not so minor. And the fact that the socks are for Dan made it doubly important to do it right. Which means I had to fix the too-pointy toes. I could rip them back, but one sock was past the heel - half way done! - and the other was almost as far.

So I took a deep breath, braced myself up and unravel the toes.

Toeless Socks

It took about two hours to do the first (short row turns apparently can't be simply frogged when unraveled counter to the direction knit) but the second one only took an hour. Then I got all the now live stitches back on the needles and I reknit the short row toes (making sure to pay attention to the whole counting thing).

Repairing the Toe

Then, a little kitchener stitch and ta-da! Sock toes that aren't too pointy and another knitting merit badge!

I'm so relieved that I was able to fix Dan's toes. There was a lot of nervousness involved in the fix since I had never done such a dramatic fix before. But now that I've done it once, I have the confidence to do it again if it ever pops up. Win all around!

Of course, too-pointy toes aren't the only sock-related things around the house that have needed fixing lately. Dan's first pair of socks had a spot that had begun thinning out so I set up to reinforce the thin spot with some duplicate stitch. Unfortunately, when I started to repair the thin spot, the worn yarn gave way creating a honest-to-goodness hole.

Sock Repair

Now, I don't love getting holes in my socks, but this hole did present me with an opportunity. A while back, I picked up a Speedweve from eBay and an actual hole gave me a great chance to give it a try.

Basically, the Speedweve is this little mini-loom contraption that you hook up to your sock to create a woven patch.

Sock Repair with Speedweve

You create a warp between the Speedweve and the sock then use yarn as a weft and weave it back and forth (attaching it to the sock on each edge) to create a little patch.

It was pretty easy to do and it worked great!

Sock Patch

Dan even wore the socks the other day and said that he couldn't even notice the patch. I'm so pleased!

Holes in hand knit socks still make me sad, but it is a bit of a fact of life apparently, so I'm really pleased to have a way to fix them that's pretty fun. (I do have a small darning egg that is great for doing some duplicate stitching for reinforcement, which I used for a pair of my socks that hadn't gotten to hole-level yet, but the darning egg isn't as fun as the Speedweve!)

I'm now flying pretty high on my mad sock repairing skills. Go me!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Knitting Has Happened!

This post is a little delayed (I've been a bad blogger (and knitter!) lately, but I'm trying to catch up) but I've finished sock pair number 22 for the year!

Birthday Socks

This pair was made as a birthday present for my aunt's eightieth birthday - eighty years old definitely deserves hand knit socks!

Aunt Grace's Socks

I think they were a success!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cidering (Part Two of ??)

Woodchuck Hard Cider Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider

Woodchuck Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider
3.5 out of 5

It smells like apple candy but with a little extra. The taste is kinda different - apple, yes, but there's the extra in there that is obviously gourd. I was expecting more pumpkin pie with sweetness and spices but this is really more straight raw pumpkin. It does add a nice depth of flavor which I am finding I like in ciders but I'm just not sure if I'm a pumpkin girl. As it warms, I get a sweet vanilla note and I quite like that. I think I might have to try the second bottle closer to room temperature to see how I like that.

Woodchuck Hard Cider Cellar Series Mint

Woodchuck Cellar Series Mint
3 out of 5

The smell is champagne and mild feet. I don't think I get mint on there other than a note that transforms apples into champagne. It smells very dry.

The taste is very bright and, yes, there is mint. It's sweet but not over powering and gives a nice tingle on my tongue. This does hit the sparkling white grape juice note more than apple cider but I do like it, especially the sweet yet slightly earthy mint at the end.

It's not my favorite cider but I approve of its uniqueness. I prob like the cheese flavored cider more but this is similar in style/sweetness/lightness to the Crispin so yeah, I like it well enough.

Magner's Irish Cider Original

Magner's Irish Cider Original
2 out of 5

This one smells of apple, good funk, crackers and some fermented fruit that isn't apple. Almost a prickly pear.

Taste is interesting. It makes me think of rotten rubber band fruit. There's something in the aftertaste - it's so fruity and sour - that all I can think of is rotten fruit. Which is a shame because the first part of the taste seems like it would be a good beer substitute as it isn't overwhelmingly fruity or wine cooler, but rather something with a little funk and personality.

Great potential, but disappointingly not for me.

Angry Orchard Hard Cider Apple Ginger

Angry Orchard Hard Cider Apple Ginger
4.5 out of 5

The smell is very sweet and apple-y, like candy. It's very nice. Candy sweet can have its place.

The taste is interesting. It very apple-y on the front end and very ginger-ale on the back end. The ginger gives it a nice balance to the sweetness of the apple so it's not just candy sweet. It also gives the flavor just enough earthy funk to make it super tasty.

This one is one of my mom's favorites and I can totally see why. Nice flavor, great balance. This is up there with the Woodchuck Belgium for me. Definitely going to have to buy more of this.