Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Bunnies are DONE...

I'm so excited to tell you that the bunnies are DONE and they've been submitted via CD to the contest. Here's the "unofficial" picture.

Done Bunnies!
Much, MUCH gratitude to Kid #1 for creating the tree (it's going back to him because he's not quite satisfied with it) and to Hubby for taking the time to do a real "magazine-quality" photo shoot for the contest. It's so awesome; when the contest is over, I'll publish the photo --- or maybe the LINK if I win something!!

Kid #1 says that he'd like to increase the size of the base, and he wants to "antique" it so that it looks a little more rustic. He may also add more branches on it. If he's thinking I'm adding eggs???  Well, maybe.

The bunnies - I may be adding some floss whiskers to them, since Hubby wasn't sure which end was the front. But for now, they are what they are.

So I guess this is project #2 that's "done" in 2012. The baby blanket continues to come along; and I'll post pictures soon.

On another note, I had a visit today from my friend's mom. My friend's IPI treatment IS WORKING!! The tumors in her brain are shrinking, and the IPI is apparently passing through the blood-brain barrier. Aside from the science, which I don't always understand, the brain has some sort of "preservation" mechanism where the dura doesn't allow chemicals to pass through in such instances as chemo - which is why brain cancer is so deadly. And I may have totally mashed THAT concept up as well. But this is what I'm told, and it sorta makes sense.

Anyway, she's had some nasty side effects; enough to delay her 3rd treatment (out of 4) for an additional 10 days, but the doctors are confident that it's worth it to delay to give her body a bit of a respite. She still can't knit; but her left side has a mind of its own.

Her mom was describing a conversation where she yawned and automatically, her left hand lifted to cover her mouth... So the brain is re-wiring the pathways; it's just taking some time, because it's also healing from the surgery, abosrbing the IPI and just kind of re-setting itself. Heaven knows it needs all the time it can get to make itself better.

Her hand having a mind of its own makes me smile.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Hat is DONE!! First project of 2012...

Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!! The hat is DONE! And in time to meet Sonda for lunch! Hope she likes what I've done since it's her sock yarn.

Here's my version of the Sockhead Hat by Kelly McClure of Bohoknits.  I call it the "Not-So- Slouchy-Sock-Hat."

Mind you, Kelly's pattern is lovely. I've seen it done by some of the knitters in our shop, and they've done it exactly to her specs, and it's adorable.

I just like hats that fit closer to my head. So I altered this a bit. It's got a 4" 2x2 rib, and then you do a 9" body before you do the decreases.

I did a 7" body and then did the decreases. It fits closer to my head, and I can adjust the ribbing to pull down nicely over my ears. The size 2 circs and then DPNs were small!! I know - there are knitters out there that think those size needles are "logs." But I don't knit socks (yet) on anything smaller than a size 5. I'm working on it!

Here's a shot of the decreases. It just tickles me. Just the mechanics of doing the decreases, coupled with the self-striping yarn - it just fascinates me that we do that with string and 5 sticks (at that point, you're working on the DPNs).

Frankly, this pattern was much more clearly written than the pattern I used for the (temporarily misplaced) periwinkle alpaca hat. Those decreases were all over the place, and Kelly's pattern lays them out for you so neatly that it's a breeze to do this and make it look spectacular. And really, I had been working steadily at it, but also - it knitted up kind of quickly - for me.

I'm looking forward to wearing this today, since we got our last blow of snow (till Saturday, at least) and I've got a couple places to go.

The yarn is 40% alpaca (see, I still snuck it in there), 40% superwash merino, and 20% nylon. It feels very light, but as many of you know, alpaca is really, really warm without a lot of bulk.

So, next, I warm my hands up (its 17* here...brrrrrrrrrrrrr) and then relax a bit before I pick up the March Baby Blanket. Heck, that's on size 9 needles - THOSE will feel like I'm knitting with logs.

Go visit Kelly's etsy site. She's also bohoknits on Ravelry so if you want to post what you've done with her pattern, or just look at what others have done, I think that'd be great.

I've completed my first project of 2012! That bodes well for the rest of my WIPs and all those things that I'm sure will scramble the project list for the year.

I haven't bothered to figure out how many stitches it is. After all, I don't want to lose my knitting mojo!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Not Quite Snowpocalypse - but Soup Weather!

OK, so it's not "snowpocalypse" even if the drivers here have completely lost their minds.

I mean, seriously. This is what it looked like around dinner-time (5:30 p.m. CST).  But that wasn't what it looked like at 9 a.m. when I was driving down Rt. 53 in an early attempt to avoid the crazy drivers.

I was on the way to pick up my new glasses. I have them, but have to return them, as there's something funky on the lenses - which we can't figure out. Bummer.

Anyway, I said to Hubby, "I'll go VERY early today, get the specs and then I'm in for the day. They're gonna be nuts out there."

And Kid #2 confirmed that when he came home, but that's another paragraph.

So I'm driving down Rt. 53 and right about at one of the busiest intersections, people are NUTS. The snow plows are out salting, to get a jump on it. But everyone feels like driving 15 mph slower when there are 2 flakes flying is a really good idea. Except that when they get to the red light and it changes to green, flooring it is a better idea. Not so much...

Here's another shot, all of which are out the front door. I told Hubby that I'd shovel (getting my butt off the chair) and not to worry. Well I did. And in another hour, it needed to be done again. Which I started to do, but Kid #2 came home.

Did I tell you that he got a job??????!!!!?????  Ok, so Christmas sinus surgery wasn't the best, but Kid #2 got a job teaching at the school where he did his student-teaching.

He's tickled. This week is finals, so they're coming home a bit early. He complained about the idiot drivers, and I concurred that, heck - you are in ILLINOIS. It's JANUARY. It SNOWS. Get used to it and pay attention, for pete's sake.

The number of people futzing with their phones, pulling out in front of him, and just generally acting as if they'd never seen snow --- not to mention a rookie snow plow driver --- well, he came home a little annoyed.

So, when I went to do shovel job #2 he came out and told me that he'd take over. Which was good, because my back was complaining as it was. Hubby came back about that time, and lickety-split, the front and back were taken care of.

Snow's still coming down, but it's waning. It'll be interesting to see if we get the 8" we have planned.

It's supposed to snow through the night. Kid #2 is hoping they do NOT cancel school (ok, THAT is a huge change from when he was a high schooler! LOL), and I have lunch and dinner plans, both of which are contingent upon the weather.

This is what the birdfeeder station looks like. Hubby said he'd fill it up once the snow lets up a bit. The birds are getting annoying.

See the house across the street? I'm washing dishes, and watching the adorable toddler, obviously enjoying her first snow. Mommy is out there videotaping the whole thing, and Daddy decides to grab a trash can lid to "sled" with the little girl. Daddy bends over to grab the "sled." Oh.My.Eyes..... butt-crackage. MAJOR butt-crackage. Enough so that I couldn't get my gloves off fast enough!! I'd like to get to know my neighbors (they moved in just about the time I was having surgery), but not THAT well... (sigh)

So, what do you do with a small snow storm? You make soup. Which is what we did. This is a variation on a Weight Watchers recipe. Chicken Florentine Soup with Elbow Macaroni.

Here's my version:

5 or 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, chopped
3 c. Knorr veggie broth (water + the cube)
1 box Barilla elbow pasta, whole wheat variety
8 oz baby spinach
2 T. cilantro cooking base
3 large pieces of roasted red pepper
1 c. frozen peas
Onion powder, crushed black pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, garlic flavor
1/2 t. sage
1 cube Knorr chicken broth + 2 c. water

Prepare the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. In large pot, place broth mixture and bring to boil. Add chicken, turn to simmer, let the chicken cook, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, dice up the roasted red pepper. Remove the chicken from the broth, then add the tomatoes and pepper to the pot, stirring till it's all warmed through. Toss in the spinach, and stir about 5 minutes, or till it's wilted. Add the chicken back in, add the noodles, cilantro paste, and then add the onion powder, frozen peas, sage and crushed black pepper to taste.

Put the lid on it and let it simmer for a bit till the peas aren't frozen. Add the extra chicken broth + water mix. Serve it with a nice crusty loaf of bread.

Of course, I can't leave ANY recipe alone. You can substitute any greens you want for the spinach: like kale, nappa cabbage or bok choy. You can add fresh or dried mushrooms for a very intense, earthy flavor. You can use any kind of pasta you'd like: maybe an orzo, a ditalini, or even substitute rice. Use a pesto (home-made or bottled) instead of cilantro for more punch. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese before you serve it.

Either way, it's a great night to sit, soup, and then knit!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

New Year, New Project...

OK, you know you're a knitter when you lose your knitted hat and instead of going out to buy one, you cast one on!! So Hubby and I were shopping and we looked at the hats; nothing struck me. They were all too furry, too clunky and too "something" for me.

So I took the blue hand-dyed sock yarn and started to cast on the "Sockhead Hat" from Bohoknits by Kelly McClure. The pattern says it's "for that one skein of sock yarn that you just can't bear to put on your feet." Which is cool.

Sockhead Hat - the start
But do you know how many stitches there will be in this thing??? I swear, the 2x2 ribbing alone has a MILLION stitches, and this thing should ultimately be a 4" rib and a 9" body before you start the decreases. Here's a shot of what I have so far.

It looks a little "Les Miz" so I may actually shorten that body length. There's about 5oo yards of sock yarn here, a blend of merino and alpaca with a little nylon. So if I shorten the body of the hat, it will not only fit me better (hey, I'm 53 - this is just too much "flop" for me!) but I can also maybe do some wristlets or a small scarf. This yarn would look gorgeous with a simple cable though I may be pushing my luck trying cables on size 2 needles. LOL - I may be setting myself up for something interesting.

Check out Kelly's other patterns. I've seen this hat knitted up. Not only did our LYS owner do one, but another of our knitters did it and it's really cute.