Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!!!!

I loved Halloween growing up. The dress up, the candy, staying up late, a party at school--all of it. As a home owner, I despise giving out candy. Mostly because it freaks out our dogs. So, we are the boring neighbors who leave every light in the house off and hide in our bedroom. Pathetic.
We DO, however, make sure that we take care of the little ones in our life (aka Jack and Aidan, not Riley and Kiki).

Here is Jack's little package for Halloween. We picked him up this cute little cow in PA at the Boyd's Bear HUGE store.

He also received this little Pumpkin hat to wear for the rest of the fall.
Pattern: Pumpkin Hat from Patterns for Knitted Hats
Yarn: Encore Worsted
Needles: US 7
Size: 1 year

Aidan is a little older, so he got the candy. But we couldn't just give him any candy! We raided the candy aisles at the Boyd's Bear store. Patrick had a grand old time--cooked "eggs", bottles, and all kinds of other strange, but "cool for a boy", candy. Hope he likes it all.

The plus side of only buying for the nephews? No extra candy around to tempt us to eat sugar and ruin the weight loss!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pumpkin Patch and Haunted Hay Ride

This past Sunday we decided to partake of a little fall activities. We originally had planned to go to the Haunted maze in Danville, but the weather was rainy on Friday night and cold on Saturday night--plus the long drive. Instead, we opted to go to the Russell Farms pumpkin patch on Sunday. It was a cute little set up and is great for kids--big and small. We played the tic tac toe toss game and ended it in a tie.

We then went on the treasure hunt in the corn maze. Patrick got done a LONG time before me, but he sat in water so I wasn't too upset at him! We "won" our little prizes, which went to Aidan (sucker and a little thing to get your finger stuck in--total boy toy).

We then went off to the patch and picked out a pretty large pumpkin. After grabbing a carving kit, we were off. (We did stop at the Noblesville Tea and Coffee house on the way home to exercise my new love of herbal tea. I was seriously disappointed. The music was loud and I didn't care for my tea. I seem to only like the tea that has cinnamon in it.)

I was SO excited that this pumpkin turned out. I have NEVER had one be successful. Yeah!

Patrick baked the seeds in olive oil and fake salt. Yummy, yummy, yummy.
Patrick being silly on the hay ride.

Goodness I look tired.

That night we picked up my BIL and his girlfriend and headed to the haunted hay ride at Connor Prairie. They had a headless horseman haunted hay ride. It was enough to make you jump. I will admit that I was the first of our group to get scared, but Doug screamed the loudest! The little boy (about 3) behind me accidentally kicked me in the back and I jumped a mile. He thought that was the greatest thing!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mums the Word

Patrick had a few days off recently. We needed to cut back the hostas for the fall and put something pretty in to pop up in the spring. Now that we don't have those ugly bushes in the front of the house any more, we have some spots by the porch for flowers. We also cut out a large flower bed under one of our back yard trees two summers ago. Poor Patrick. I got the bright idea to put in bulbs and mums. Being the wonderful husband that he is, he told me to pick out what I wanted and he would do all the planting. Fourteen mums and 200+ bulbs later, things look great. I can't wait to see how it all looks in the spring!

All pumpkined up and ready for Halloween night!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Shop Nancy's Lasagna Soup

A few days ago I posted about my knitting weekend and mentioned the lasagna soup. It was made by my dear friend Nancy and she shared it with me. Here it is for your enjoyment:

She SO did not want me to take her picture. Of course, I had to any way...
I won't even say what she called me!

For the recipe: PK and I added lasagna noodles and put everything into a crock pot for the day (putting the noodles in already cooked at the end of the day):

1lb hamburger (use can mix 1/2 lb. of Italian with 1/2 lb hamburger or 1 lb Italian sausage)
1 onion finely chopped
3-5 cloves garlic minced
2 -14.5oz. petite diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
1 - 15 oz. can tomato sauce
3 teaspoons Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Fry hamburger, onion, pepper and garlic till meat is browned. Drain hamburger, in large pan add the additional ingredients with meat. Cook 30-30 min on low heat. In each bowl put 1-2 teaspoons of mozzarella ladle soup on top.

You can add fresh grated Parmesan directly to the soup about 10 minutes before completed. If you make it the day before DO NOT ADD cheese till you reheat.

I prefer to make it a day ahead so the flavors can "merry".

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Booties for Ethan

With so many large projects on my needles right now, I started "craving" the feeling you get when you finish a project. My solution was not, of course, to finish an already started UFO. Oh no. That would be too logical. Instead, I decided to crochet up some baby booties. These are for Baby Ethan--the son of a co-worker.

Pattern: Gumdrop Booties from Crochet Today! Nov/Dec 2009
Yarn: 1 ball Berroco Pure Merino color 8653
1 ball Berroco Pure Merino Heather color 8613
Hook: Recommended is an H; I used an F
Notions: 1 stitch marker; 4 buttons; tapestry needle

I hadn't used this yarn before, but had been wanting to try it out. I thought that the colors were nice and I love a good merino wool (my favorite fiber). I was very disappointed in the loose ply of this yarn. It split constantly. I suspect that it would have done a lot better if I had used it for knitting, but I wouldn't use it again for a crochet project. A shame because the colors are nice and it is a machine washable yarn. It does feel nice in your hands in terms of the softness.

The pattern was a simple and fast one. The note about taking under 1 hour for a bootie is accurate. I was impressed with this edition of Crochet Today! for the holidays. I do think you have to look past the retro Christmas colors they used--not my cup of tea. I'm going to make a gingerbread house with more modern colors and glitter yarns. We'll see how that turns out.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Cool Picture

I liked how this picture turned out.
It is the view from Tonia's den window.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Progress on Patrick's Sweater

The back and front of Patrick's Briar Rose sweater are done and I am now knitting the sleeves. This will be the first sweater I have done with a saddle in it. Oddly enough, we had two customers come in this past week that are also doing their first saddles and one of the other shop employees is knitting a sweater with a saddle too.

The way that the saddle is constructed for Patrick's sweater is simple enough. You knit the sleeves from the cuff up (your standard normal shaping along the way). The pattern has a center cable pattern. The top of the sleeve ends in a 2-4 inch panel that continues the center cable. This extra tab is then sewn to the front and back pieces at the shoulder. I'll post more as I get to that section of the sleeves.

A few posts back, I posted about knitting sweaters for men. There is another sleeve trick that I use ESPECIALLY when knitting sweaters for my long-armed hubby. I knit both sleeves at the same time on one needle. This means that I have the EXACT same number of rows on each sleeve. Although this is helpful when knitting any sleeves in a pieced pattern, but it is very helpful when knitting for men because there is much more length to track.

2 sleeves, 2 separate balls of yarn, 1 needle

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Knitting Accessories

My MIL makes beautiful stamped items. (In the past I've posted pix of her cards.) I am opening my own etsy shop early next year and we've decided to offer some of her items there. If you can't wait that long, here is a sneak peak. You can email me if you would like to place an order before the end of the year.

Little journals for keeping all your knitting notes...

Bookmarks for keeping your place in a knitting book or journal.
They have a magnet inside to keep them in place. (Sorry for the blur.)

Accessories tin, complete with a little chocolate!

She didn't miss a detail. The red stock actually has knitting stamps on it that didn't show in the picture. The outside decor is duplicated on the inside and the bottom border is trimmed with a ribbon and button. Of course, these red ones are mine!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Knitting Weekend

This past weekend was full of knitting fun!
There was the fun at the Classic Cable Knits knit-along. There was class...making the B4 Bag! There was a Sunday of knitting, excellent food, and lots of yarn!
Phew, I'm tired...good thing I have a mini vacation later this week...

Marcia took a class with me learning how to make felted bags.
She finished up these cute little items for presents.
What lucky little girls!
All of the B4 Bag ladies were loving them...

Nancy made some yummy deserts. Saturday's KAL included some lasagna soup. OMG! It was wonderful! I don't typically like lasagna, but I loved this soup. Perfect for the chilly day...

Jane hard at work on her sweater.

Everybody enjoying themselves and, hopefully, learning lots. This month we covered dividing for sleeves, trying on your sweater, adjusting for fit, and casting on in the middle of your row. We also conducted knitting interviews with each other. The big yarn winners were Malabrigo, Dream in Color, Vintage Wool, and anything alpaca. Alpaca. Alpaca. Alpaca.

Sara and Deb knitting away. What a beautiful shawl Deb is making.

I haven't a clue what they are talking about, but it looks like they are deep in thought.

Tonia's beautiful house. The chili was great! Nikki, there was cinnamon in it. Yummy.

Group picture. I was dutifully knitting on the Spiderman socks.
(I love Tammy's full on laugh in this picture.)

Sherman loved TusaRebecca. I think he was in heaven with all the yarn and ladies.

Said sock...
Check out Nikki's lovely red Manos sweater that she is making for me, um, I mean herself. :)

Tammy and Nancy knitting on the Einstein coat and fingerless mittens.

Tonia's husband, Rick, is such a kid at heart. He is turning part of the porch into a pirate's ship for Halloween. The kids of Crawfordsville will have a great time looking at this!

What a great weekend it was. Good (healthy) food, great friends, lots of laughs, and yarn at every turn. Thanks, ladies, for making my laugh so full of fun. Sorry I didn't have even more pix to share...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


This past Saturday night we drove up to Lafayette for a visit with Patrick's side of our family. We got to spend a few hours with everybody, including both of our nephews. It was so cute to see Jack and Aidan interact with each other. Jack is at the stage where other kids are intriguing and Aidan was eager to oblige. Aidan would dance around and Jack would giggle and giggle. The thing that really cracked me up was Aidan calling him "Baby Jack" and then "Jack Jack".

Since we don't get to see Jack Jack as often, we went ahead and gave him his Halloween treats. I couldn't resist seeing the hat on him in person. It was a perfect fit!

Seeing Aidan sent me into a flurry in my head about his Spiderman requests...those are next up on the knitting list!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Men's Sweaters continued

One of the things that drove me nuts when I would make sweaters for Patrick was how often I felt like the middle of his back would ride up. I didn't notice this much on my sweaters, but on him it was the first thing I saw every time I'd finish up a sweater. This is called back creep. Throughout classes I took, books I read, other patterns I tried, I discovered the magic of short rows for shaping in the bust area. Well, of course, this works on the back too. Duh. When I was reading one of EZ's books, I realized that I needed to insert this into PK's sweaters.

How do you do this, you ask? Well, I've seen various instructions for it. I decided to go the simple route. If I am making a top-down sweater that will have a neckline added on, I go ahead and do the short rows right off the bat--usually six rows. If I am doing pieced work, I have been putting in 4 to 6 short rows after the armhole shaping, but before the shoulder bind off.

Working in pattern, mark the middle of your back. Work to X number of stitches past the middle and wrap & turn. On the next row, work the same X number of stitches in the other direction past the middle and wrap & turn. On the next row, work a little further past the first wrap & turn, and wrap & turn again. Repeat in this fashion for 4 to 6 rows (I usually do an extra inch in length--so if 4 rows gets an inch then that is all you need).

Here is a great video on YouTube for a simple short row. Enjoy!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Men's Sweaters

Right now I am knitting a sweater for my husband. I am using Briar Rose yarn, so I was VERY excited to cast this one on. It is beautiful and I keep joking that it is my boyfriend sweater. I have a feeling I'll be wearing it a few times.

I really enjoy making garments for Patrick. Sometimes, knitting for men can be a little tricky. Men tend to be a little more particular about necklines and fiber. Getting the fit just right can also be a challenge. My MIL and I were discussing this the other night and I thought some of you might be wondering about knitting for men too. Here are some tips I picked up along the way...

1. Measure your guys favorite sweater. However, measure the chest AND measure the length. For example, Patrick has a sweater that fits him well across the chest, but he prefers the length of another sweater. I tend to combine these measurements when I knit for him.

2. Know his suit jacket size. I find this useful when making sweaters that are meant to be oversized.

3. When picking the length, ask him if he plans to turn the bottom rib under and where he wants the turned part to hit him. Makes a difference in the overall length.

4. If your guys is tall or long in the torso or arms, buy the yarn requirements to the larger chest measurement. For example, I make Patrick the 40 to 42 size, but I always buy the yarn for the 44 or 46. Covers the extra length in his torso and arms.

5. Knit your gauge swatch with the needle size below what it says, what it suggests, and a size higher than suggested. Wash your swatch how you will wash your sweater. The AFTER WASHING AND DRYING gauge is what you want to match your pattern gauge. The most common complaint I hear is that a sweater is too big because it stretched out after blocking. If you go with the after blocking swatch measurement, you won't have an issue. By swatching with the three needle sizes, you'll be able to tell which size works. You won't have to make a second swatch this way. Be sure to swatch in the pattern it states on the gauge area of your pattern. If it doesn't specify, use stockinette stitch (St st).

6. If you are lucky enough to have your guy around the house, hold up the garment to him often. This helps a TON with length. Remember that it will look a little small because it will probably grow during blocking--unless it is an acrylic and you find that blocking doesn't make much of a difference.

Tune in tomorrow for another little tidbit about knitting for men!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Congrats to Larry Sweazy!

On Tuesday night, in my sinus infection haze, we went to a book launch party for our friend. It was so great to see the excitement on all the smiling faces. If you like westerns, you can pick up a copy at They Mystery Company bookstore in Carmel, Indiana. If you aren't local, they will ship it to you. (You can request a signed copy too.)

The Rattlesnake Season by Larry D. Sweazy
1st in a series about a Texas Ranger named Josiah

Phil introducing Larry

A shot of some crowd members. Notice the red bandanna theme?
I spaced getting ours, so we were definitely out of dress!!!

The man himself. I love to listen to people talk about their passion.
You can really tell when someone truly cares about a topic.

The Scorpion Trail will be the second book of the series...currently two more planned after that!

Congrats to Larry and Rose!