Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wish You Were Here

I have been on a big sock kick lately – this keeping with the idea of finish up what’s on my needles.  Because I had 3 pair of socks on the needles but now I am down to 2 pairs of socks. One being a pair that I found stashed away on my bookshelves in my sewing room that I had forgotten all about!

And yet, I am always leery of socks because I like the fingering weight yarn (the really thin/fine yarn) and then I am discouraged by it because it’s so thin and therefore, in my mind, it’s going to take f-o-r-e-v-e-r to knit.  I know it’s a vicious cycle in my brain. Of course this is stupid and I know it because I am just flying through the knitting in the evenings while watching “Survivor” on Apple TV.  (At the bottom of the post, I have a serious opinion on Survivor).

My first pair of socks that I started and finished this summer are my Wish You Were Here socks. In July I got an email announcing a contest from Jimmy Beans Wool promoting Wish You Were Here yarn from Lorna’s Lace.  I bought the yarn, took pictures of myself around the city of Basel, posted them on Facebook and I really hope I win the contest – I could win!  The contest continues until the end of August.  But here’s the real story behind Wish You Were Here this summer from me, this summer here in Basel was (and still is!)  bee-u-tee-full!  So I do wish y’all were here!

Me with my socks ... walking around Basel
I am getting pretty good at socks.  I am getting them to fit better and I understand the construction of the sock with every sock I make. So in the case of my Wish You Were Here socks, I combined the cuff of Cotty (a picot edge), the “afterthought heel” from Cookie A’s book Sock Innovation, the foot and toe from Ann Budd’s Getting Started Knitting Socks.  In addition to my favorite web link from My Jewel Thief Knit’s where she has a chart of foot measurements (she has a disclaimer about her measurements but she hasn’t lead me wrong yet).

The only gnome I own,
a Carolina Hurricane Gnome

The After Thought Heel
Then I have pulled out The Shaker’s Scottish socks, completed one sock and I am on the second one as I type.  I read or heard some place along my Vortex (aka my computer) travels that when using self-striping yarn; an afterthought heel will showcase the stripes off better by doing this method.  You can place the stripes right where you want them after you complete the sock – which is what I did.

And that mystery project that I found on the bookshelf was Vermouth’s America the Beautiful socks.  On her socks I am making the pattern called Gusset Heel Basic Socks from Wendy D. Johnson’s Socks from the Toe Up.  Which has the stripes going direction; just spirally happily around with no break in the yarn.

My favorite TV show Survivor

We (all 4 of us) have always been fans of Survivor since it started.  Since moving to Europe, we haven’t seen or heard anything about it; we have no clue what has happened since leaving the US.  We are nearly caught up watching all the past seasons (I think Season 28 starts next month). I just love the seeing how a group of people differ from each other from season to season; and where one idea works in one season, definitely doesn’t in another.  I would love to submit my name and video to Survivor because I know I could help my tribe by finding 2 sticks in similar thickness (aka, needles) and leaves (aka, yarn) and knit that tarp that everyone always wants!  But sadly, I know I would be one of the first people voted off, I think I could play a good social game but I would be voted off early because I would be the one complaining about lack of sleep and food.  I am a very evil person with lack of food and/or lack of sleep.  I know my truth and therefore, be voted off.  And I wouldn’t be happy about being voted off because of my age!  I am not that old, but the young peeps would say, she’s old and she’s gotta go.  So I will just drink my gin martini on the couch with my sock knitting and take this as a sign of maturity … yeah, right!

The Martini Knitter

Friday, August 23, 2013

I Knitted and Took a Nap

I spoke to Olive the other day and when asked about my knitting I said, “I can’t believe how slow everything is going that I am itching to cast on something else in order to break up the monotony of my current knitting projects.”  Olive’s answer, “You gotta do, what ya gotta do.” Which I think was code for, “I swear if you cast on one more project …”

But I didn’t cast on anything!  I know, shocker! I plowed ahead with my Tangled Yoke Cardigan.  I am finally up to the detailed stitches around the yoke area and I am halfway finished with this part.  But I didn’t realize how long this would part would take.  I knitted 4 rows in about 3-1/2 hours. Can you believe that? I can’t believe that I just confessed that to: “Yeah, I knitted 4 rows yesterday. Um … no … it didn’t take just 20 minutes to do; more like over 3 hours.”  I … um … also fell asleep for a while in the sun.  What? It was warm and the couch was way too comfy for my eyes to stay open.  Here’s the real story about the yoke stitches:  I went from about 250 stitches on the needles to over 400 stitches on the needles plus chart-reading hence the reason for the over 3 hours of knitting including the aforementioned nap …

Oh my gosh, it sounds like I am moaning! Here’s the good news: I started and finished a super fast knit this week.  It did take longer to dry than it did for me to knit both sleeves.   And here’s another thing, I am not sure about everyone else, but when it comes to a yarn label saying that that the yarn can be placed in the dryer, I am too paranoid and therefore I always block and dry my garments on my blocking mats.

I made Weekend Sweater by Diane Soucy. My project page shows 2 weeks but that’s because I really did only work on it on the weekends, as it was a super-simple no-thinking-required knit.  Talk about a great Christmas gift idea!

The Martini Knitter  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Look! I Started and Finished Something This Summer ...

As summer slowly approaches to an end for me, and Vermouth embarks down her final IB school year – yes, I get to go through this all again – I had a goal in mind: finish up those projects on the needles. I have been knitting almost everyday and where are those projects? They are still on the needles! In fact the other day I was rummaging around on my bookshelves in my sewing room and I found another project on the needles! Is there a name for a knitter like me that starts so many projects??? At least I try to finish them or at least that’s what I keep telling myself.

So I ask myself: Where has my summer gone???

I think is this one of the laziest summers for me on record!  And I as I reflect upon this, I think let’s see … last summer I moved into our apartment ... the summer before that was ultra rainy even for Holland standards … I bought a house and I worked on that house … I did the gardening for that house … I traveled … so yes, I think I deserve a little lazy in my life but at the cost of not finishing my projects – “what the *beep*???” comes to mind.

I think what’s funny is that I really haven’t been lazy!  I have really gotten my flabby self back into shape, my arms are starting to look like arms again at the expense of my flabby bit as my friends refer to as “bingo wings” are starting to go away and my thighs are showing signs of some muscle tone. Nothing like Miss Manhattan or Weekend Warrior Guy but in any regard I am so on my way!

But seriously, I did start and finish a project and not at the usual 11th hour like I normally do.  I made Gin a bed quilt to fit her extra long twin size bed for university.  The pattern is called “X-Rated” and it’s from the book Schnibbles by Carrie Nelson. (Click here for the book).I followed the patterns block size and layout but added extra blocks so that it would fit Gin’s bed.

Working on this quilt reminded me of the quilt that I made for Gin when she started kindergarten.  I remember the kindergarten supply list saying “that your child needs a towel to lay down on during afternoon rest time.”  I remember my response being this: there is no way my child is lying on a towel during naptime.  I used fabrics that had motifs that she liked and then I slipped in a few squares that were suppose to represent the 3 of us. I knew she wouldn’t sleep and I thought that all of the tiny squares would give her something to look upon and keep her quiet; and that’s all the teachers really wanted, right? 

Keeping with this similar theme, I made blocks that would that she would make her happy when going to sleep or ponder over when she is missing/thinking about us:  

Her favorite shirt that she wore in 6th grade - she was really bummed when she grew out of it and I said let’s save it and I’ll put it in a quilt one day for you.

Vermouth’s daisy dress that she wore as a child.

Flowers and bugs because growing up we referred to Gin as our “Nature Girl”

Destination motifs with the Eiffel tower, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Empire State Building.

A block with sunflowers because that was my maturity dress when I was pregnant with Gin

And of course, there is a martini block as Gin was the one who gave me my name. I’ll be honest, not sure how this block is going to go over in a college dorm but she just might have to say, “My mother has a blog …”

The Martini Knitter

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Tuesday's Tin of the Week

Olive sent this to me awhile back and even though it isn’t a pencil thin mustache, it reminds me of the song by Jimmy Buffet, titled “Pencil Thin Mustache.” Which actually reminds me of the song “Cheeseburger in Paradise” which reminds me of Gin of having all the cheeseburgers she wants now that she has safely arrived back in the US.  Excuse the discombobulated train of thought there, but welcome to the brain thought pattern of the Martini Knitter with only a cup coffee in my stomach as I type out this post.

The Martini Knitter  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My Grandfather and The Blender

This weekend is going to be a a very hard weekend for our family and, especially, me:  Gin is heading off to college in the US at 5 am on Monday morning.  I know it’s an exciting time in Gin’s life and this is what I keep telling myself over and over again, like a mantra! But I am going to miss her! (Thank God for Facetime!)

It has made me reflect upon my time leaving home and heading off to college.  Which brings me to what I call “My Grandfather and The Blender story.”  

My Grandfather
I think this was taken at his
retirement party
Somehow or another I got an idea of getting a blender to take to school.  My mother suggested that I get an “air popcorn popper” and I said, “OK. Can I get a blender too?”  I think we were in the kitchen when this conversation went down.  I can’t lie; I’ve tried … My brother can vouch for this as he likes to points out the holes in my fabrication.

So the first thing that pops into my 18 year old brain is this:  “I am going to make a chocolate chip cookies in it.”  Now this is the summer of 1984 and this before the smoothie craze kicked in. My mother just stopped what she was doing and just looked at me.  I think she even said to me,  “I know exactly what you are going to do with a blender at school!” 

A few days later my Grandfather (my mother’s father) called my mother.  My Grandfather never called me; my Grandmother - yes; him - no.  So my mother calls me downstairs and says to me, “It’s your grandfather on the telephone; he wants to speak to you.” 

I pick up the phone, perform the necessary niceties and he got right to the point:  “Your mother says that you want an air popcorn popper and a blender to take to school with you.” 

I said, “Yes, Grandpa, I would.” 

My Grandfather: “What are you going to do with a blender, Sarah?”

I repeat my lame excuse about the chocolate chip cookies.  Now I have to interject here and tell you something important about my Grandfather: he was a recovering alcoholic.  I think he joined AA around the time I was born and he was sobered from that time until he passed away.  It was no secret and it was openly discussed.

He says to me: “Sarah, I think you and I both know that you will not be making chocolate chip cookies in that blender, am I right?”

I responded with, “Yes, Grandpa.”

My Grandfather:  “Ok then, I want you to go out and by a really good popcorn popper and a blender.  Do not buy anything cheap.  Take your time shopping for these 2 items.  I want to but these for you for college.”

I can’t remember what the popcorn maker was, but I remembered the blender, it was an Oster blender and it looked exactly like this one in the picture below:

These 2 items made it all the way until I got married to The Shaker.  The popcorn popper eventually died.  But the blender got stuck on “frappe” during my freshman year of school.  My roommate and I came up with a drink that we called “green slime.”  We took frozen lime concentrate, ice and whatever liquor we could get and blend it.  It wasn’t bad but I don’t think I would drink that now.  I kept my blender until we moved from California to North Carolina.  The Shaker knew how attached I was to my grandparents and to this blender, but he even said, “It’s time to get a new blender; your grandfather would want you to get a new blender.”  I agreed with him; I even think my Grandfather would be embarrassed to know that I kept moving around with it anyway. 

Which brings me to Gin and her new Oster blender (I stuck with Oster in remembrance of my grandfather).

I said to her, “You better be making strawberry smoothies in this thing!” Gin’s response?  She just smiled.

The Martini Knitter