Saturday, December 30, 2006

Second Day of Christmas –well, now the Sixth Day!

Christmas day always has been a day of little knitting – even in the years when I needed to finish an item as a present!

This year was no different, though the day did not feel as hectic as other years have. A lovely, quiet family Christmas morning, and after breakfast a nice restful time looking over and enjoy some of my Christmas present. Then a mad scramble to pick-up enough for the 20-24 that were at our house for Christmas dinner. A bit more picking-up then past years, as one dear friend is now in a wheel chair, and we wanted her to be able to get around everywhere on the first floor (once all the gents safely got her up the front steps!).

It was a lovely dinner, good food (all contribute, in all ways – we don’t do turkey [my dad and I were very tired of it when I was kid, and my mother gave in and started a tradition of having roast beef, etc instead – which my husband was delighted to go along with]. So we did the roast and mashed potatoes, others brought vegetables, wine, deserts and nibbles, and one brings a large roast chicken, as his wife and son don’t “do” red meat. The fun of it now, since this crew has been getting together for Christmas for sixteen to twenty years now, one friend makes the gravy, another carves the meat (much to my husband’s delight, he’s not big on carving), and all help get it out. We eat on our knees, as we don’t all fit at table, and most of the kids are now bigger physically then their parents (13-24 years old now, with the exception of Nathaniel and his sister, who are everyone’s babies now).

Beatrice got a cute little stuffed elephant for Christmas, she’ll get the blanket for her birthday (January 21), which is now top of the knitting queue – I’m just about half-way on it right now.

OOOps And now the sixth day – Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday got caught up in various things – and then --- I GOT SICK! Stomach, and spent most of Thursday night and all of Friday between my bed and bath – you get the picture.

I did do some knitting – I was looking for something, and found the unfinished afghan kit (Cheryl Schaefer) that I’d given to my son’s one godfather and his wife for Christmas LAST year – and felt guilty that it still wasn’t finished – so I’ve been working on that recently – it actually was just the right thing yesterday as I started to feel better. It goes fast, but boy do I find size 11 needles TOO BIG! My hands hurt after awhile. I’m alternating between the afghan and the elephant baby blanket. (which is on size 3s)

More with the New Year. Right now I’m concentrating on getting better. (and dealing with my goddaughter’s house guests – we have four, giggling, 20 somethings in and out from Thursday until Tuesday.) Her mother is laughing her head off at me for “being so dumb as to say yes they could stay here.” Actually, they are all very nice young ladies – it’s just FIVE of them, ‘en mass – ye Gods! Luckily they sleep late, go out a fair amount so it’s not a huge problem . . . . I will also post current photos of the elephants and of the afghan – the colors are wonderful on the afghan – that’s what is so neat about Cheryl Schaefer yarns – the incredible colorways she comes up with – the colorway is Elena Piscopia.

Have a wonderful rest of 2006 – I’ll be back on blog soon in ’07. (with photos)

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmases Past and Christmas Present

Happy Christmas Eve!

I didn’t blog recently because it got busy with Christmas coming, and feeding my spirit in different ways. I’ve joined a Spirituality study group at my church, and we’re meeting Thursday mornings, so that was first thing – finished the cuff on a sock, and started the pattern – I’m making Jaywalker socks right now for myself – it’s fun to see what it’s doing with a green with some strips in it.

And then there was a doctor’s appointment, and then to try and organize like crazy heading towards Christmas. We only need to get a couple of small gifts for our son, and we will done with what HAS to be done by Christmas day. And after dinner was the last Choir rehearsal for 2006 (and Christmas Eve), and then I felt it was time to get lights on the Christmas tree, so we spent two hours after rehearsal doing that .

As we got the rest of the decorations out, (though not on the tree until tomorrow – husband and I both ran out of steam) there came the Christmas stockings – so I did put them all up on the mantel. Because my goddaughter is living here, she and her mother will be with us for Christmas morning, and their stockings are here too – it impresses ME to see six of my hand knit stockings hanging on the fireplace! And they represent the time frame, as Vanessa’s (my goddaughter) was one of the first ones I ever designed and made. I counted how many I can remember that I’ve knit since hers (dated 1989), and Nathaniel’s was at least number twenty-four, if not twenty-five! 25 in 17 years! In the photo of ALL the stockings, the little ones on the end are the dog’s (which I knit from the Christmas Stockings book) and two little ones for the kittens – which are store bought. Somewhere there are two other small, obvious cat stockings for the other two.

The shoemaker’s children go barefoot is the old saying, and it’s true of hand knit stockings for my immediate family. As I said in an earlier post, my stocking still is not completely finished – the cat on it is suppose to have knitting needles with a stocking in her paws . And the dog only got her own hand knit stocking THIS year, even though I started it last year – before Christmas.

And Friday disappeared in resting and knitting, and doing some Christmas shopping – for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas dinner – but we don’t NEED to go to any stores until AFTER Christmas!

Tonight, I made a Santa head for a Christmas stocking (very basic, plain) that I knit for my goddaughter’s godson (got that?), and the stocking has been waiting since LAST year for Santa – but I finished it tonight. Added it to the mantel array – and voila! Quite impressive display if I do say so myself!

And following are photos of my family’s stockings:

Bob’s (my husband) who has told me there are only 33 instruments total in the house!

Andrew’s (he was VERY into trains when he was 2 to 6)

And mine. I love cats.

Merry Christmas to you all, tomorrow (which is really today after I’ve slept) is busy with two church services to sing at, cookies to bake, dinner to fix, and guest bed to dig out for my best friend, so she can be with her daughter first thing Christmas day –chances are they’ll do there own Christmas REAL early Christmas morning, and we’ll join them for breakfast and OUR Christmas, before they go off to visit family for a good part of the day – back to us for desert, if not dinner it’s self.

Boxing Day will bring my progress on various things – the Swallowtail shawl I’m now focused on, as the Purlioned Letter blogger did such a gorgeous job on her’s – she inspired me to get going again on mine, and the Elephants Baby Blanket, and the socks.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Finished Christmas Stocking, and the two old ladies . . . .

The two old ladies are my oldest cat, Agatha, and the dog, Kaitlin, who’s 11+ (12 in March). They are pictured here.

Nathaniel’s stocking is now finished. Ends sown in, label added, and damp blocked.

And then there’s my I-cord question – HOW many stitches wide can an I-cord be? For the loop to hang up the stocking I started with a 4-stitch I-cord, and after about an inch, felt it wasn’t wide enough, so ripped out am now doing a 6-stitch I-cord, which is just right. But it made me wonder – how many stitches can you knit into an I-cord, without it just becoming an item knit in the round to be opened up somehow. . . . .

I think when I deliver the stocking tomorrow, I will just go by the house, and if someone is home, fine, if not, just hang it on the door – they live in a safe neighborhood, so I don’t think anyone will take it.

Now the Old Ladies – I did talk about Agatha yesterday, and have now pictured her above. But I didn’t mention the dog. Her name is Kaitlin, and as one can probably tell from the photo, she’s a Golden Retriever – an overweight one. She’s a really sweetie, and the cats, particularly the babies, love her. One of them is often curled up with her when it’s cold. Our late Maine Coon used to sleep with her ALL the time, and he was an “orange” tabby Maine Coon, and the same color as she is – and we couldn’t tell them apart! We often had a large golden “rug” – with two tails and two heads, and we couldn’t tell where one started and the other ended. When he died, I think she mourned the most of the surviving animals. If I can find the photos of the two of them together, I’ll post one – I know we took many.

And having finished the stocking, I will go on to finishing his sister baby’s blanket. It’s an AS pattern, and (pictured below) of elephants – and waaaay back when I started the blog last week, I mentioned there was a story behind the blanket being knit for an almost four-year old (she’s getting it for her birthday – there’s NO way I’ll finish it by next Monday (aka Christmas Day).

I knit the Point Rhys lighthouse baby blanket for her brother, at the “proper” time – for the baby shower for him. Well SHE loves it – and so, I felt she really needs her own. And I didn’t want to knit the same blanket for her, and she has a “thing” for elephants, so she gets the elephants. I am glad about that, as the other AS baby blanket that speaks to me is Widdicombe Fair, and I think sometime in the next year I will order that one – and make it for ME! A nice lap blanket to decorate the knitting room when I’m not using it!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

More on Christmas stockings . . . and the household I live in.

My household consists of me, my husband, our son, four cats, and a dog.

My husband’s stash is musical instruments – at one point there were 42 guitars in the house – acoustic and electric – plus six or eight banjos, several mandolins, at least one, if not two fiddles, mountain dulcimer, ukuleles (banjo ukes, banjo mandolins, ) etc. So his “stash” takes up more room than my yarn. (I think the guitars are down to under 30 currently).

My yarn stash is mostly in nice plastic boxes with handles – over 60 of those (I just did a rough count), plus three bigger ones, and the stuff I haven’t looked at in years in the attic. First foray into cleaning out the attic has resulted in two very large bags of yarn for charity.

And now, cats. I’m delighted to say, in the thirty-five years I’ve lived with various cats, they usually loose interest in the yarn and knitting after about six months living with me. When ensconced in my favorite knitting place, I almost always have feline company – the colder the weather, the closer to me (and the space heater) they are. On cold evenings I usually have a revolving door of cats on my lap, as I knit.

My current feline companions are:
Agatha, a thirteen-year-old basic grey short-haired cat. She looks like she could be a Russian blue, but she’s a rescue. She’s got arthritis poor thing, but still has the most wonderful purr, and wants lots of interaction with her humans. She was named after Agatha Christie.

Snowball – she’s five, and little, only weighing 8.5 pounds. She has almost no tail, and given that, her size, and the way her legs are shaped, we’re pretty sure she’s a Manx. Being pure white, with blue eyes (and great hearing – it’s the males that are more often deaf) her name was a no brainer when my son found her in a pet adoption day at a Petsmart. She’s a real cuddle bunny – which is one of her many nicknames.

And then, there’s our babies. We had, a year ago, four cats, but two of those died early in’06 – one of cancer after two years of treatment and dealing with it, at 16. The other, my son’s official cat, quite unexpectedly of cancer at barely 6!

So when we got down to just two, we were sad, and decided, since we had really enjoyed my son’s cat Maine Coon, that we would make a point of getting another Maine Coon.

Somehow, we ended up getting TWO. A brother and sister. They are now, as of today, nine months old, and weigh in at 16 pounds for Barnum and 13 and a half for Bailey.

Meanwhile I’m off to my knit group – and then Christmas shopping at the mall, which is open until 11 pm tonight. I’m hoping to finish the name cuff on Nathaniel’s stocking at the knit group tonight – if not tonight, then tomorrow. I sent word to his mom that they’d have it by Thursday. All the others are already up at his house! No photos of Agatha in the computer, when I take photos of the finished stocking, I'll take a few of her and upload them too!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Blogging Time Table

Having had a very busy weekend, between my goddaughter’s dorm room arriving in my living room (her mom had to move this past summer, and for various reasons, my goddaughter is now legally living at my house when not at college). If she hadn’t gotten a wonderful internship for next semester at Disney World, the dorm room wouldn’t have arrived until May – giving us another five months to find space for it. But . . . . .

We have a wonderful, large house, with a full, walk-up attic, divided into two spaces, one for storage and one we have used as a guest room. But in the past year or two it also became storage . . . . And we have a full basement, which we finished six years ago. It has a walk out to the back yard, with a nice big room, and a full-bath, and a smaller room for instrument storage. Our son has been living mainly in the big room, but he and goddaughter have been negotiating, and I believe SHE is going to have the basement (makes sense for a 22-23 year old with a very active social life) and HE is going to move to the attic. BUT we have to dig out both spaces before this can happen.

So to start this whole Chinese Fire drill, we have been going through the attic – mostly the storage side, because there are boxes in there that haven’t been looked at since they were placed there 16 years ago. It felt like every third box had YARN! I didn’t realize how much acrylic yarn or part acrylic yarn I knit with 16-20 years ago! A huge (maybe 4x4 feet) box worth went off to charity knitting yesterday – and there’s still more to go through. (LOTS more). What I’m saying is Saturday went to attic dig out – and Sunday to parties, farewell for an interim rector at my church, and two, knitting Christmas parties. Both great fun. So it’s only today that I’m again writing on this blog.

My hope is I will post on the blog a minimum of once a week – hopefully more like two or three times – with occasional weeks where it will be daily.

Nathaniel’s Christmas stocking just needs me to finish the toe (left one color yarn in the car at the second party, so stopped on that for the evening, and when I got home, I went to bed), and then the cuff with his name. Look for photos on Wednesday. Tomorrow is my favorite knitting group meeting [we meet twice a month on Tuesday evenings – at a wine bar], so I may not have time to post.

And then, there’s Christmas shopping --- I haven’t even put together a full list. Luckily we don’t have to buy for a lot of people, and for example, my goddaughter’s mother, N – my dear friend of over 50 years, and I, agreed yesterday to not worry about exchanging our presents ON Christmas Day (although we will be together) but just plan to do it by Twelfth Night (January 5).

But the tree was bought today, and the kittens get to explore it, up with no decorations or anything tonight, tomorrow it’ll get lights, and then Wednesday ornaments – maybe they’ll be bored with it by then.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Stocking – part III

The reindeer are done – they were really fun! I think it came out well. And soon I’ll be to the heel – and I love heels! I think my favorite part of sock knitting is turning the heel. Even after knitting socks for over 12 years, I still get a thrill every time I turn a heel!

If things go as planned, Nathaniel will get his stocking Monday or Tuesday – well in time for Christmas Eve and Santa Claus to fill it up!

Actually when it is finished, and is given to Nathaniel, it will contain a small Cedar Chips bag – to help protect it when it’s put away after the holidays! (If you noticed a bump in the toes of the two finished stockings in the last post, that’s what was causing the bump!)

11 pm, about to post – and right at the heel. I’ll take a photo, and then publish all this.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas Stockings, take two

Here’s the start of Nathaniel’s – by tomorrow evening I may have the reindeer part done, and I will add a new photo.

And then here are two from long ago – my goddaughter’s and her mother’s – knit in 1989 and 1990 (I have from the needles of Jennifer labels that I embroider the year on before I sew the labels on the knitted item, so everything gets dated – Vanessa’s stocking is one of the first that I dated).

And then, recently, I found unfinished a stocking I'd started for our dog from the Christmas Stockings book, and finished it --

Christmas Stockings

I mentioned in my first post about the Christmas Stocking for my almost nephew – Nathaniel (I mention his name because, for a Christmas stocking it’s LOOOONG). (He’s pictured – looking over photos I found this wonderful photo of him from September) I’ve know his mother since the day SHE was born – her older sister is one of my closest friends, and has been for OVER 40 years now. (My “best” friend and I are going on OVER 50 years – which gives a clue to how old we all are).

Anyway, at the baby shower for Nathaniel I gave an Alice Starmore (AS) baby blanket (Point Rhys I think is the pattern – it has whales and a lighthouse)(pictured!) and a certificate for a Christmas stocking, because at that point, two years ago this January, we didn’t know for certain what his name was going to be – and I had just finished two stockings over Christmas, so wasn’t in the mood to do another one.

Fast forward, last year got hectic and Nathaniel’s mom and I agreed he didn’t need it, that he wouldn’t notice the lack thereof.

But this year, I think he would, and I’ve been thinking about it for a month or so --- I should say that the Christmas stockings for my extended family (I’m an only, of an only, and have very few blood relatives) so my two closest friends (see above) and their families are my extended family, as well as a few other dear friends that we’ve gathered together over the past 25 years) are all DESIGNED by me, as well as knitted.

I came up with a basic pattern when my godchildren were little (now nearly 25 and 23), originally knit out of Germantown in “Christmas” Red and Green (those were the color names!) and white, black, and whatever colors I needed. The original ones (my first forays into Fair Isle Knitting) were such a hit with all the parents as well as the kids, that over the next few years I knit everyone else stockings (except my husband and myself). My husband, Bob and I got ours (mine’s still not totally finished, it has a cat knitting, and I keep meaning to start a little tiny Christmas stocking on toothpicks and insert them in my stocking) when I made one for our son just before his second Christmas.

So when Nathaniel’s parents got married in 2000, their Christmas presents that year were handknit stockings, and when his older sister was born in 2003 (January), she got one for her first Christmas. So Nathaniel’s due one.

So yesterday I decided to dig out the box labeled Christmas stockings in my stash (60+ plastic boxes with handles, roughly labeled, stacked in a big pile in my “knitting” room), see what yarn was in there, and what I needed. I also checked my computer for the patterns I done for his sister and parents.

I went to lunch with my former co-workers at the LYS (now a web-based business), and then got the colors I was missing (white and red and yellow). These days the stockings are done in Cascade 220—a little thinner than Germantown, but the same nice defined colors. Came home, played with Knit Visualizer, and did the name first – even though that’s the last part I’ll knit, and talked with Nathaniel’s mother and aunt about any interests he’s showing at 22 months, and then played around with designs, pulling out AS’s Chart designs book among others. My WONDERFUL husband came home just about then, and sweetly wound the yarn into balls for me (there is a swift and a ball winder), and I cast on –

The basic stocking pattern is set, it just what I put in them in the leg that makes them unique to each recipient—so Nathaniel’s has holly bands (which almost all do), and then a band of reindeer in the leg.

(one I did years ago was for the son of a Jewish friend who’s married to a gentile, It’s a basic stocking, but the motif for him is a menorah.)

And thus, my first photos on this blog are of the stocking on the needles – I’m using size 5’s 12” circulars – Cascade calls for 7’s to get 5 sts to the inch. I am a loose knitter, and always start 2 needle sizes smaller. I am right at 5 sts to the inch on the 5s.

The next two photos are of my goddaughter’s and her mother’s stockings – I’ll post photos of my immediate families’ when they come down from the attic next week. We decorate for Christmas slowly – putting electric candles in all our windows around the first Sunday in Advent (4 Sundays BEFORE Christmas – this year Christmas Eve is Advent IV – a horror for all who are involved with church services regularly [I sing in my church’s choir – have sung in choirs as long as I’ve been knitting! No wonder I knit during the lessons and sermon!!!!!!!!!]), then we add lighted wreaths on doors, and sometime in the week before Christmas we get the tree [Saturday this year], and it goes up by the 22nd, and comes down on Epiphany, which is January 6th.

I probably should put at the top of this blog that it is a babble – I become quite long winded when I sit down to write . . . .

Photos to come after Choir rehearsal -- found the camera, but haven't found the device to download the photos. . . . .

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

First Post

After thinking about doing this on and off for awhile, and with great encouragement from my main knitting group -- Tuesday night SSKers, I am taking the plung on a blog, mostly knittig.

I am middle aged knitter living in the 'burbs of Washington, DC. I am also LEFT-HANDED, and I knit LEFT-HANDED --- so where most knitters knit from the left needle to the right needle, I knit from the right needle onto the LEFT needle, hence calling the blog Knitting on the Left (hand).

I have been knitting most of my life -- since my mother managed to teach me when I was seven or eight years old. She only managed to get me to do the knit stitch, what with me being SOOOO left-handed, and she was quite right handed. So for ten years or so I did LOTs of garter stitch items -- dolls' clothes and household items, lots of baby blankets, an afghan in high school, when rediscovered 30 years later, went straight into the trash -- between the cheap yarn, the lack of any real finishing, and the loose gauge, I really didn't want anyone else to see it.

Then, back in college, I found the Sunset Book of knitting which included drawings on knitting LEFT-HANDED -- with VERY clear directions on purling -- I found the book in September, by that Christmas my father had a magnificant red cardigan -- all over cables! (I still have that!) Germantown yarn.

Since then I've averaged at least 12 projects or more a year -- these days it's a pair of socks a month, plus other things.

In the past month I've finished two lace shawls, a glorious fair isle pullover for my husband, a pair of socks for him, a pair of socks for me . . . .

Currently at the top of the pile:

1. A Christmas stocking for an almost nephew -- promised at the baby shower for him, and gee, he's gonna be two in February, so I realized he's old enough to maybe realize that he didn't a have stocking when his parents and older sister do! (all knit by me). So I deisgned it, and started knitting tonight.

2. An Alice Starmore baby blanket -- Elephants -- for the older sister of the stocking recipient -- explanation when I post photos of the blanket.

3. Alice Starmore's Russian River Fair Isle -- second time, first time was 8 years ago for a friend, this time for me (got the yarn eight years ago), and it's going to be a cardigan instead of a pullover -- also will post photos soon.

4. Fetching mitts from -- made one, will make a second soon, especially if it gets cold again -- my knitting room is only heated with a space heater, so if it's REALLY cold (under 30), my hands can get cold.

5. And a pair of socks, of course (ALWAYS have a pair of socks on needles -- finish a pair, start a pair -- I could knit over 100 pairs from the sock yarn in my stash).

And lurking in the piles are several lace shawls wanting to be finished -- I hope I go for one of the black ones soon, I'm always wishing I had one to wear . . . but knitting with black . . . .