Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Side Squares on the Mitred Square Blankie

Knitting Mama posted a comment asking about how the side squares are done, and "ask and ye shall receive", so here it is. I will try and not be too jealous, because Knitting Mama is, at this very moment, at the Yarn Harlot event in Massachusetts while I sit here at home typing this post. Yes, the Yarn Harlot! Ooooh, how I would love to go to a Yarn Harlot event and hear her talk. She was in NYC (only about 3 hours away) in March, but that was a big crunch-week at work, installing an exhibit, and no way could I take off. Tonight she is in Massachusetts, but that's about a 6 hour drive, and I have no pet sitter. These hooligans really rule my life....and I wouldn't have it any other way. I wouldn't trade a single day of having my sweet girls greet me with lickey-face-kisses for any amount of freedom to travel. But I can still wish for a pet sitter. I guess that's like having your cake and eating it too.

Enough whining. On to the knitting content. To add a square to the left side of the blanket, just start by picking up the stitches like you normally do, but when you get half of them done, you need to cast on the other half onto your needle. I use a provisional cast on so the stitches are still "live" to make it easier to finish the blanket, if I ever get to that point. There is a great tutorial on how to do a provisional cast on here on the Knitty website. Once you have the total number of stitches you are using for your squares, between pick-ups and cast-ons, just work it like a regular square. It'll be a bit flippy-floppy until you get a couple of rows done, but soon it will look great.

Here's a picture. You pick up the stitches where the yellow "P" is, and then cast on enough to fill out your square, where the pink "C" is.

On the right side of the blanket, just do the opposite. First cast on half of the stitches you need, then pick of the other half, onto the same needle, and work like it is a regular square. Here's a picture of the right side:

You'll see a string or a safety pin holding the stitches. That's because I use the provisional cast-on to make it easier later on, but you can use whatever cast-on you would like. Hey - it's your blanket! I hope this is clear. If not, let me know and I'll try again.

Knitting Mama, I hope you're having a great time at the Harlot thing. Post some pictures for us poor sods who can't attend. I'm going to go get some lickey-face kisses now.
My third pair of Jaywalkers! I just love this pattern. I made a minor change on this pair -- picot edge at the top instead of ribbing. I'll definitely do it again. In fact, I have already cast on for another pair. I just can't stop myself!
Look who has claimed them as her own. It's sweet little Tara. She also answers to Tata, Tata Dog, Toodles, Toodle Bug, Oodles of Toodles, Tattoo, Pigeon Toe Dog, Pidge or Wooly Bear. Of course, when I say "answers to" I don't mean to imply that she will "come" "sit" "stay" "roll over" or any of those other mundane things that some dogs do to pander to their owners. I just mean that those are other names I call her while she looks at me with those sweet eyes of hers. She just loves it when I give her kisses and sing a sing-songy version of Camelot but instead of words it's all "ta ta taaa, ta ta taaaa" to her. Of course when I say she "loves it" I really mean that she will tolerate it. She "tolerates" it much better if I am feeding her treats while singing to her!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Blankie Update Friday, Saturday, ok, Sunday

Late again on the blankie update. You would think I had more than 9 squares to report, but no. Nine, from two weeks work of knitting. It's just getting so hot and humid here, and if I have a choice of working on the big old blanket, or an itty bitty sock, I'll choose the sock every time. I'm thinking of just putting the blankie away for the summer so I don't have to have it staring at me from its basket while I'm working on socks. Hey, blankie, don't look at me like that. Where do you think all of your scraps come from??? Socks! And if I don't knit socks, it's "no yarn for you!"

We'll see. Pretty soon I'm going to start on another baby blanket. A dear friend is expecting, 14 weeks along, and she is going to find out if it's a boy or a girl, hopefully at her next ultrasound appointment. If the wee one isn't too shy, I'll buy the appropriate color. If he/she doesn't cooperate, it'll have to be a white blanket.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Another no-blankie update

Yes, I have fallen behind. No measurable progress on the blankie this week. Next week...I promise. It has been too nice outside to justify staying inside and knitting. The chickens were let out of their chicken yard for a while today. Look what Ducky found:
That's the patch of ground where I planted 6 dozen sunflower seedlings. She's having a great time scratching around looking for worms, and being none-too-careful around the flowers. At least she was having a good time.

Here she is again in the sunflowers, with Joey looking on from the background. Some cat. He won't even keep the chicken out of the flowers.
Speaking of Joey, look how nicely his tummy has healed - just a few months ago it was red and raw and naked looking from being shot with a BB gun.

This is a view of the garden after I put in strings for the pole lima beans to climb up, up to the sky and produce lots and lots of beans. They're pretty scrawny looking right now. I have my doubts about this crop. Oh well, there's always the Green Giant.
And here is a view of this week's dog-food. Yummm. I have the making of Mable's Meat Loaf down to a science. (For the recipe, look at the sidebar of the blog- it's near the top. I'm too tired to do the linking-thing tonight.) Anyway, I make up about a dozen batches of the dry ingredients and keep them in ziploc bags until the day of the meatloaf making. During the week I'll cook a pot of beans in the slow-cooker, and then puree and freeze them, 2 cups per bag. Another night I'll cook up 6 pounds of frozen veggies, puree and freeze them, also 2 cups per bag. Then for the big day, I'll cook up the rice, thaw the veggies and beans, and add catsup, worcestershire sauce and eggs, and my sister S will weigh out the proper amount of meat (eeewwww, I hate touching meat!) and mix it up with the wet and dry ingredients. We make three batches, which makes six meatloaves. This will keep the dogs in dog-food-heaven for nine days.
Man, does that oven need to be cleaned. Another day. I'm going to bed now. The Benadryl I took for my poison ivy is kicking in.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Tag Alert!

I've been tagged! My first time - Woo Hoo! Thanks, Criquette.

Here are the tag rules:

Each person tagged gives 7 random facts about themselves. Those tagged need to write on their blog the 7 facts as well as the rules of the game. You need to tag 7 others and list their names on your blog. You have to leave those you are tagging a note in their comments so they know they have been tagged and to read your blog.

Seven Random Facts:

1. My dogs are my girls, my babies, my whole life. They are undisciplined hooligans, completely without manners and socialization skills, and have me wrapped around their little fingers, or dew claws, I should say, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Actually, I'm working on the manners thing. Or I should say I'm reading about working on the manners thing. I started with Cesar Milan's Cesar's Way, but don't think I can follow his program - it's a little harsh for my sweeties. I've started reading Tamar Gellar's The Loved Dog and think that maybe I can put some of her theories into practice. We'll see...

2. I do not eat meat or wear leather. "No Food with a Face." Shoe shopping can be challenging, but hey, there are always Crocs!

3. I have a sick sense of humor. At times, it is really, really sick. So does my Dad, so when we get going, watch out! We love to gang up on Mom, but it's only out of love! Birds only pick at the sweetest fruit, right?

4. I'm a compulsive counter. I'm not sure if that is a real "thing", but I'm always, always counting things in my head. The number of letters in a word, the number of syllables or words in a sentence, the number of telephone poles on the roadway...the list goes on and on. Maybe that's why I knit so much, so I have something to count all of the time?

5. I get a little thrill whenever I come across a word that can be typed using my left hand only. No cheating to cross over the keyboard into the right-hand keys! I'm right-handed, but love it when I can type Edward, Tara, Caesar, Warts, Seaweed, Aware, etc. without right-hand keys.

6. I have to read something before going to sleep, even if it's just a page or two. I like to do four Sudoku puzzles first, then read, but if I'm really tired I'll skip the Sudoku.

7. My degree is in Elementary Education, although I have never taught. I was in Student Teaching in 1986 when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up, killing all seven on board, including the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe. That morning, before going to school to face a room full of first-graders (it doesn't sound so scary NOW), I remember wishing I was on board that space shuttle, too. It hit me then that I could NOT teach for the rest of my life. I dropped out of student teaching, but luckily had enough credits to graduate, anyway.

Now the tagging part, but I don't read a whole lot of blogs, and of the ones I read, most have already been tagged, so I'll pass it along to Jennifer, Noricum and Shelby. I don't think they have been tagged, yet, but I could be wrong.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Released into the wild...

I have made my first book release through BookCrossing.com. Out in the wilds of southern New Jersey is Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah. Good book. A bit of a downer, but still good. I recommend it if you are willing to suffer from incredulity interspersed with periods of depression. Hard to believe, but it's a true story.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Happy Mother's Day

The happiest of Happy Mother's Days to my dear sweet mom. Some of you might think that you have the best mom in the world, but sorry, I have that honor. Here is a picture from the way-back file...1967 to be exact. Mom, grandmothers, sister D and I are headed off to a Mother-Daughter banquet at our church. As you can tell, my sister is really excited about it.

I would say that I have followed my mother's example in how to raise my own sweet girls, but know that she would think that is an insult since Emma and Tara are undisciplined hooligans. Just look at these faces and tell me YOU could make these mischievous hellions behave...

Happy Mother's Day also to new moms Knitting Mama and Two Left Needles, and mom-to-be this week (the 17th to be exact) Jennifer. Last but not least, to Shelly, who is my knitting hero and super mom to two lovely girls. I don't know how all of you do what you do.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Blankie No-Update Friday

What was that I said last week about only completing 5 squares on the blankie last week..."There's always next week." Well, that came back to bite me on the butt. This week? None. Actually a portion of one, but less than half of a square, so I'm not counting it. My excuse? None. I have no excuse. Here is a picture of it sitting on top of my baskets of scrap sock yarn, waiting for a little love and attention.
The yarn scraps are sorted into three categories. The basket on the floor contains only balls of yarn that have enough yardage to make the large squares, and has larger striping patterns, and I don't use them for anything BUT large squares until they get small enough to go into the top basket. The bottom rectangular basket contains balls with enough yardage to make large or small squares, and I use that yarn for both sizes. The top rectangular basket contains the smallest balls, some of which will make a square with just inches to spare. I try and use these sparingly and place them strategically throughout the blankie. Some might call this set up kind of anal, but they just don't fully appreciate my method. I guess it's a "You say to-MAY-to and I say to-MAH-to" kind of thing.

The only knitting I accomplished this week was last Saturday. My sister and I went to Wegman's and she drove so I could knit. If you have never been to a Wegman's, and there is one within 100 miles of you, drop everything and go. It's a great store. Be careful on the way back though, because you could be innocently driving down the Interstate, minding your own business, and out of the blue a rock could come and WHACK a big old hole in the middle of the windshield of your new car that you got just 4 days ago. That could never happen, though, right? Wrong. My sister felt so bad about it that she paid for the new windshield. It wasn't her fault, but there you go. She's the best! The only thing is, every time I picked up some knitting for the rest of the week I pictured that crack in my new windshield (I had to stare at it for about 25 miles). Oh well, it could have been worse. We were still about 15 miles from home, and saw two surf boards by the side of the road and three teenage boys running back along the highway to pick them up. A surf board would have put a whole lot more hurtin' on the car than a rock did...

Look what brightened up my day today, though. I got a package from my SP10! Do you see the lovely color of the Opal sock yarn? Mmmmmm. And there was a pattern for a poncho, and the all important, ever appreciated, CHOCOLATE!!!

In her note she gave me another clue...she works at Yankee Candle. Double Mmmmmm. Yankee Candles are only the best in the whole wide world! She said that I can look forward to candles in the future. Yay! Thanks Secret Pal.

P.S. One of the bags of candies is already gone. I just might eat the other one, too, and call it dinner!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Blankie Update Friday

Yes, another week has come and gone, and I only completed 5 squares. Ah well, there's always next week. Here's a picture of it with a yardstick at the bottom for scale. I'm wondering if it should be wider...
Look what came in the mail today! I correctly guessed the type of tree that Criquette pictured in her blog, and was randomly chosen to receive these goodies. Lovely sock yarn, a cool sheep magnet which is already on the fridge, and some Crystal Lite mix-ins. Cool! I love their lemonade, and am anxious to try these new (to me) flavors. Thanks Criquette!
Funny coincidence, I had just come back from mailing a couple of packages at the post office. One to Knitting Mama for winning the We Want Clear Crocs drawing, and one to my super secret pal for Mother's Day.

On another note (forgive the pun), look what was on my car's windshield when I came out of the store at lunchtime:

In case you can't see it, it says "Nobody can miss this orange car!!!" I immediately thought of my parents and looked around the parking lot, then remembered that they were going out of the state today. I then called my sister S who was still in the store (we met in there at lunchtime) and she swore it wasn't her. It couldn't have been...I arrived after she did, and left before she did. I told S to look around the store to see if anyone I know was in there and laughing their heads off. No luck.

Then I thought....OMG, What if it was a total stranger and they hate my car and they hate the color so much that they had to leave a note on my windshield just to let me know it is the most ugly thing in the world. I slinked into the car and drove off at a high (though safe) speed. When I got back to work I showed the note to Bev, and she thought it was hilarious. I was ready to trade in my brand new car. Then Bev said... "Hey, that looks an awful lot like your boss' handwriting." My boss, who knows I'm a little sensitive about the color of the car, enjoys pranks, does not work on Fridays, and is known to frequent this store for birdseed and cat food on her days off. Hmmmm. She got me. I've got to think of something REALLY GOOD to get her back. Any suggestions? I'm open to just about anything.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

First Ride

First ride in the Dog Mobile. Brittany Mobile. Great Pumpkin. Whatever. A good time was had by all.

Tara being good and enjoying the scenery.
Emma being "bad" and trying to worm her way into the front. I'm going to look for those safety harnesses that allow you to secure the dogs in the car and keep them safe, without having to put them in a crate.
Did you notice that Emma and sister S have the same color hair? I'm surrounded by orange!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

In Which All Is Revealed...

What is with all of this orange, you ask. Cats, dogs, flip flops, yarn, toenails, even oranges for Pete's sake. Here is the last hint:

That's a lot of orange, but nothing compared to this:

Yes, an orange car. If anyone would have told me a year ago, a month ago, a week ago that I would be driving an orange car, I would have told them they were crazy. My car (my former car, I should say) would be paid off in 4 months, and then look at all of that extra money I could spend on yarn....knitting books....Crocs...the list is endless. But then I read at PetConnection.com that the Honda Element is "as good a Dogmobile as could possibly be imagined." Enough said - gotta get me one.

I love the way the doors open up - look how easy it will be for Emma and Tara to jump in!

The keen observer will note that this is not Emma and Tara, it's Mom and Dad. The first thing Mom said when she saw it was "Well, it's not as bad as I thought it would be." Praise indeed. Dad said whatever makes me happy, as long as I don't park it in their driveway. Don't you just love them? I sure do.

I'm off to take Emma and Tara to the park now. In the Great Pumpkin. The Dog Mobile. THEY don't care what color it is, as long as they get to go for a ride!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

And the winner is....

That's right, the "We Want Clear Crocs" contest is over. If Crocs decides to make clear crocs, you can all pat yourselves on the back. So, six bloggers entered the contest, and I have thought long and hard about how to draw the winner. Actually, not very long, or particularly hard. I knew it had to involve the dogs, though. What I did was print out the comments, cut them apart, placed them on the rug in a carefully planned, painstakingly random manner, and let the dogs in the room to choose.

Note the carefully carefree placement of the slips of paper:

Note the lovely Emma diving right in and picking one out of the group:

Emma is revealing the name of the winner.... It is Knitting Mama! (Go visit her blog - she had the cutest baby boy!)
Congratulations Knitting Mama! As your prize, you can choose a skein of sock yarn from my latest stash acquisition. I just got some Opal sock yarn, and these are the five colors:

It's kind of hard to see from this picture, but the top three look to be all the same patterning, and are, left to right, lightest to darkest. I cast on a pair of Jaywalkers using the middle yarn (Number 2) and this is what they look like so far:

Anyway, Knitting Mama, send me and email at [ dwood333 AT hotmail DOT com ] with your choice of yarn and your mailing address, and I'll send it off to you pronto! Thank you all for participating. I had fun!

Hmmm... Does anyone else notice a certain color popping up an awful lot in this entry?

Yikes, those are some bright toenails!
More tomorrow. Off to bed for now.