Friday, August 31, 2007

A one-skein (or a little less) scarf

So I sat down this afternoon and decided to make up this scarf. I love the pattern and it turned out really nice, but I have more yarn left over than I thought I would. So, before I cut that yarn and finish it off, I am debating if I want to rip it all out and make it again, but longer this time. When I did all the math, converting the pattern from the yards on the pattern to the yard on my ball, I thought it would be just right. And although I did the math correctly, I think the ball might have just been a little longer than the label said (which i know is just a standard figure, but can vary).

I think I would like a longer scarf, and will probably decide to start over. I think I will add 4 more cycles of the pattern. That will add about 6 inches of length I think. I also used smaller hooks than the pattern called for. I used a J and K, and the pattern calls for a K and L. I simply don't have an L hook. I think it's the only size I don't have!

I do, though, absolutely love this pattern, and plan to make it up as gifts, and in different yarn sizes to make more "everyday" type wear in lighter fibers. And may even make it a little wider to see how that turns out. I think it would be a fun pattern to make in a chunky yarn for Alyx, and I'm sure I can adapt the shell border to go around a hat to match!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Hats for Iraq?

So I sat down yesterday (actually it was Tuesday) and decided I wanted to make a hat for Evan, my son who is serving in Iraq in the Army. I know it's hotter than blazes there right now, but it does get cold in the winter. So I whipped up one of these great hats (found in the Happy Hooker). I used Caron Simply Soft Shadows. I know it's acrylic, and theoretically won't breathe as well, but it is incredibly soft. The stripes are simply some Red Heart I had lying around and that actually contrasted. They whip up so fast, and I hope the guys like them. I have some Red Heart acrylic in a desert camouflage , and I may make a couple up in that, then wash them to see if they soften up. If they don't, then my two boys can wear them instead. I looked all over for some wool to make these in, and just didn't find anything that appealed to me. If the acrylic hats aren't warm enough, then I'll hunt around again for wool. These are nice and soft and stretchy, and I think would be comfortable. Fast and easy.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

More stash builders

So a friend and I hit the two yarn shops in town today after lunch, and I found a couple of great yarns to add to my stash. Actually, they won't go right into the stash, because I have projects planned for both of them. I bought the variegated mohair to go with the mohair I got at the estate sale. I think it will make a lovely shawl. The top picture doesn't show it all that well, but I think the colors go together nicely. The variegated is a little darker, but has a nice bit of peachy orange in it. The lower picture actually shows the variation in the yarn better. I'm still looking for just the right shawl pattern, but I have plenty of yarn for even a larger one. I like the brighter colors sometimes, to brighten up a darker outfit. And I love to wear colors in the orange family.

So, with that in mind, I also found a marvelously soft alpaca tweed in a burnt orange (the picture makes it look browner than it actually is). It's a 100-gram ball, so it will make a lovely scarf. I'm thinking the one-skein pattern in the Happy Hooker.

And, Twist has a ball winder that I can go in and use to wind all the hanks I have hanging around. Not many, granted, but a few balls that need to be rewound, and a couple of hanks (including this great new mohair). Yea! I've been doing it by hand, which kind of works okay, but takes a long time. And there is a beautiful sit-and-work area with daytime stitch-n-bitch times as well. Now I think I can really get the knitting think happening. It is, however, hard for me to let go of crocheting, even for a little while. I can move fast, and it's hard to think about having to work so hard again in going back into learning mode.

I love daisies

I saw examples of this pattern on the granny-along blog, and one of the lovely ladies who posts there also posted the pattern. Actually, she posted some pictures of the squares, and then the gal who designed the square actually posted the pattern in the comments section. It's called Mary Ellen's daisy granny. I changed the pattern just a little, adding an extra round after the dark green (which is the leaves just behind the white daisy petals). The pattern calls for just two rounds of any color after the leaves, but I wanted a bigger square, and a little extra color. The top square is the dark green of the leaves, then a round of white, then two rounds of sage green.

I did a square with lavender (2 rounds), then sage green (2 rounds), then sort of a denim blue (2 rounds) for Kyle as a little blanket for his otter. He likes it, but I won't repeat that particular pattern again!

These are just some colors I tried together, and since grannies can be just about any color, and still be put together, I figured it was all right to experiment. I did realize after I got these three done that I also want some regular grannies to go with them. The flowers will be overwhelming if there is not something simple to break them up a little.

And of course, if I want to make the squares a little larger, I can just add a round or two to each square without any trouble. They make up really fast. I did these three in just this afternoon. I think these would make an adorable bag done up in cotton with a fun flowered lining, or a too-cute baby blanket in little sport-weight baby-color yarn.

And I have been informed that we certainly don't need another afghan, so this one may just have to be a gift for someone.

I am having fun in the meantime just making some squares and mixing up colors in true granny fashion. I have a couple of variegated yarns that will coordinate with some of the yarns I have used in these three squares, and some other colors. So I'll do some more, and include some variegated yarns as well.

Once I have some more done, I'll start thinking about what color to use to join and use in a border to tie the squares together. And now, I am just itching to make my granny-square sweater!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Woohoo! Look what I found

I was out today with my ladies from the pool (from when I used to teach aquatic classes--we just decide we all liked each other enough that we meet once a month for lunch, and we just go to local places), and there was an estate sale right next to the tea room where we ate. Well, I love estate sales, so we walked over and wandered around. There was a little random yarn, and then I saw this great mohair. I am not sure how old it is, but the wrapped balls are 40g each, and the round ball feels like it might be about 3 more.

I stopped in at the Heritage Hut (a great little yarn store that was nearby), and the owner gave me the tip that I should rewind each of the balls into a new ball to check for breaks and weaknesses. One of the ladies in the crochet guild showed me how to make a center-pull ball by using a knitting needle to wrap the yarn on, so I should be able to wind these skeins without too much trouble. I think there's enough here to make a nice shawl. The fiber is 91% mohair and 9 % vinyon rhovyl (and I have no idea what that actually is). The label says "made in France exclusively for Reynolds yarns (N.Y.)."

It smells a tiny bit musty (like an old person's house), but I think it will crochet up into something pretty nice.
And the best part? It was only about $3! I love a bargain, and even if all I get out of it is a scarf, it's still a bargain. And I might decide to take it in and find a variegated mohair to go with it and make something a little bigger. There were a couple of really beautiful variegateds at the shop that I think would be nice with it. So now begins the search to find just the right pattern to stitch it up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

And she's off!

To college that is. Today is the day that we send No. 2 off to school in Nebraska. I got off work at a little before midnight last night, had to run to Wal-Mart to buy all those last minute essentials that we forgot (you know, the little stuff like notebooks to take notes in class, a stapler to put papers together, etc). So at about 1:30 I'm sitting in the living room putting stuff together. At about 3:30 I finally get to bed. At 5 I am up again because she and her dad are getting the last of her stuff in the car to take the drive (not quite 5 hours to Lincoln). At 5:30, I am driving around the neighborhood to find my dog (who camouflages amazingly well in the dark as he is black and gray and a little white), because in the madness of leaving for college, the door to the house was left standing open long enough for the friendly animal to sneak away. At 6 I was waking up the 8th grader to get to 6:30 a.m. cross country practice (a 20-minute drive to the middle school each direction), and at 7 it's time to make sure the 6th grader gets up and catches his bus. I finally fall into bed at about 7:20, setting an alarm for 9:30 because I have to teach an 11 a.m. speech class. This is why we are glad that there is only one first day of moving to college!

In the next day or two, I should have a photo to share of what it looks like when one 18-year-old moves into a residence hall several hours from home. I understand it's not pretty! But most textbooks are purchased — thank heaven for the scholarship that helps pay for them — and a new room mate is assigned, and classes start Monday. Whew!

Now, off to nap for a short while before I have to head off to another night at the paper. If I don't sleep I will be guilty of letting errors pass through my stories, and I just can't have that!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

One more done!

And now Alyx can take her rug to school with her. The colors don't show the greatest, but the closeup is fairly decent. The red is a true red, and it's blended with black and off-white. The pattern worked up really quickly (which is good since she leaves for school the day after tomorrow (Thursday morning). The Nebraska colors look great together, and the rug is small enough to fit under her lofted bed. It's just a little more than 3 feet across. The design is a star (one arm of the star can be seen at left), with a little lacy design.

You can kind of see the design in the picture of the whole rug, but the flash on my camera kind of made the picture a little weird. I think it will work really well in her dorm room, and give her a little warm spot to put her feet when she gets out of bed on a cold morning. Now, if only I could figure out something that would ensure that she does her homework as easily as I can help keep her feet warm...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Finally, some projects to show

Well, kind of. I finished the sampler afghan (the one that had the most horrible directions ever). The pieces came out different sizes despite my best efforts. I had to add a row of double crochet here and there, sometimes around a whole piece, sometimes just along one or two edges. Hence the sometimes thicker white between pieces. Then I just double crocheted around the whole thing to finish it. I did the edging at tonight's crochet guild meeting.
I am happy with the way the finished afghan looks, but it is staying at my house. The pattern was a pain the butt, but I stuck it out and did all 20 squares. It's going on my couch!
Here's a closeup of the corner, and a better shot of the edging (if you can call simple double crochet edging). It's also pretty darn heavy because some of those squares are thick!
And finally, here is a square for another afghan that I'm starting. Half the squares will look like this, and the other half will have the colors reversed. And I also have to start Alyx's rug for her dorm room. She moves in on Thursday, and I really should try to get it done in time for her to take it with her. It's three strands held together, and I am doing it in red, black and white, surprise! The colors of University of Nebraska...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Badlands

On our way home from South Dakota, we drove through Badlands National Park. It was a short detour off I-90, and from the exit where we got off the freeway to where we got back on was 20 miles on the Interstate, and only about 36 via the loop through the park. However, it took at least an hour longer because of all the stops we made to take pictures, and how slow we drove to see everything.I chose a few pictures to try and show the variety of rock formations we saw in the park. The day we drove through was pretty hazy and the bright colors in the rock are not as easy to distinguish as I had hoped. But what is really amazing is the fact that you are driving across a prairie that looks like great farmland, and then you just come upon this crazy area full of these deep canyons and gorges and cliffs. Man, I would have hated to be a pioneer and walking along thinking it was all right and then see this!
There were so many varieties of prairie grass, and they added color to the landscape along with the rock formations.

Some of the rock formations were sharp and pointy and tall, and some of them were sloped and rounded like the ones above. These had layers of bright yellow rock then the red and on top they were white. It almost looked liked layers of ice cream.
Even in the deep canyon areas, you could look out and there were areas that looked like a piece of the prairie had just dropped into the middle of the rocks.
It was really something to see, and I would love to go back at a time when I had more time to explore; get out of the car and do a little hiking, and see more of the park than just what you can see from the road.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The kids start school next week!

I can't believe we've already been home for a week from our vacation. It just doesn't last long enough. I have been back at work for a week, and it is time to get the kids last-minute preparations for school. Kyle starts school Wednesday and Ryan starts on Thursday. I have to admit that it will be nice to have some quiet time at home in the mornings before I have to go to work in the afternoons.
The photo above is of the falls that were just outside the mine we went in to view the underground falls. The river is Rapid Creek (for which Rapid City is named --or maybe the other way around?). It was so clear, and ran rather rapidly (hence the name?) and was just the complete opposite of any body of water I have ever seen in Kansas. Everything here is muddy and mucky. This was a beautiful, small fall, with lots of tall pines and granite cliffs.
Then later we went to Mount Rushmore again. It was definitely worth seeing more than once. it was a little lighter than the first time we went, so I took a few more pictures. I thought this through-the-trees view of Lincoln was pretty cool.
And here's mom and dad with Ryan (right) and Kyle (left). Dad almost didn't get his hat back from Kyle, and I had to watch Kyle closely and make sure he didn't sneak his grandpa's hat into our car before we left! The boys had a lot of fun spending time with their grandparents. I wish we lived a little closer so they could see them more often.

Monday, August 06, 2007

More on our trip

My internet connection is very slow tonight, so I will post more pictures later. We actually got mom into a mine tunnel to see an underground waterfall. It was only about 600 feet from the mouth of the cave to the falls, but that is sometimes too far for mom. It was originally dug as a gold mine, and when the miners got in to where the waterfall was, they quit digging. It's pretty cool, and you can see the drill marks in the walls. There are spots where you can see the copper residue (the walls turned pretty green) and where quartz deposits are (and those often indicate a presence of gold). The small river then runs out the front of the cave and there is another small falls. It is in a really pretty area with lots of Ponderosa pines and other foliage, granite rocks and some interesting rock formations.
We also went to Deadwood that day, but there wasn't much to see--just lots of gambling joints. I think the casinos have kept the city alive, but it doesn't make it a fun place for families. There were some pretty famous criminals and Wild West characters that are connected to Deadwood, though, like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock. They have a "Boot Hill," but the REAL Boot Hill is right here in Dodge City, Kansas. And we can claim Wyatt Earp as out own...
Once my connection is cooperating a little more I'll post some other pictures from the falls and some pics of our drive through the Badlands National Park on our way home. It was pretty incredible!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

We made it to Nebraska, and head home today

We went to Rushmore Cave on Monday morning before Mark had to leave to go to Tucson for an Air Force Reserve trip. It was really cool, and I'll post more than just the one picture below later. There were really cool formations and it was quite colorful. It wasn't really big, but it was worth the trip.
Then on Tuesday we went to Wall and to Wall Drug. That is an experience everyone should have at least once in their life. What a fun day! I didn't take a lot of pictures, but I did get one good shot of the front of the store. It now takes up a city block and has stores that sell everything under the sun!
There was this cute little alligator (and I LOVE alligators and crocodiles), so the kids insisted I have my picture taken with it. He was awfully cute! We drove through the Badlands National Park on the way to Nebraska yesterday. We took a ton of pictures, and I will post some of them later, too.

And of course, I did try my hand at knitting just a little. And Chauntel, mom actually helped me! With a little practice I might eventually be able to figure it out. I think I need to go ahead and get some straight needles at first. Those circulars were really difficult to maneuver at first. I now know why I love to crochet--I don't have enough manual dexterity to work two needles and the yarn! :-) Mom even said that she might have to knit a little, she had fun working with me!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

It's Wednesday...

and we are a little more than halfway through our vacation. We have seen Mount Rushmore, Rushmore Cave, Wall Drug, Keystone, and some woodpeckers in our campsite! We have also spent some time in the swimming pool and played cards and dominoes. All in all, it has been a nice few days. Mount Rushmore should be right over our heads, but the nice lady who took the picture didn't get it in.

Here we are after arriving at Rushmore for the evening ceremony and lighting of the monument. There was a symphony concert that evening that we didn't know about, and it was pretty incredible. The kids were musicians from around the country who had auditioned for a camp held in Rapid City. They were 11 and older.

There is a short hike you can take around the base of the monument now (it wasn't there last time I was here a zillion years ago). It lets you get some pretty cool pictures. The one above was taken from between a couple of large rocks right down the trail, and you can look out between them up at George and Abe.
At the end of the evening, they had a flag retreat, and asked all veterans, active duty and representatives of such to come and participate in the ceremony. That's who all the people across the bottom are. And this picture has not been doctored at all; the lights above the stage area are shining on the monument, and the stage is lighted, and there is a break in the light between the two areas, making it look like the picture is a composite. The ceremony was so cool, and there was one WWII veteran there. He could hardly walk, but his family helped him to the stage. It was so awesome!