Sunday, September 30, 2012

Warm Hands, Warm Heart

Last year I took a good look at my yarn stash.  I have quite a bit of yarn.  Ok, all jokes and sarcasm aside, I have a lot of yarn.  So why not do something with it to help people?  There are people, kids especially out there in New England that go cold in the winter, because there's no hats, mittens or scarves.  I can't stand seeing  a kid in the dead of a Massachusetts winter, with no mittens or hat, it makes me sad on a level that's tough to describe.  You can always tell the kids that don't have mittens from the ones that refuse to wear them, too.

I love a good challenge.  So I made up my own charity challenge:  To see how many pairs of mittens I could knit in a year's time.  One Rule:  I could not buy yarn to make any of these mittens.  Every single pair is made from scraps from another project, single skeins of wool that I already had, or yarn that was given to me in a "de-stashing" event.  My knitting group has a "destash night" every year in May, where we bring in stuff we no longer want or need.  I came home with a nice little bag of wools and acrylics, with the intention of making mittens, a scarf and perhaps a hat or two for charity.

This was fun, and mittens don't take a lot of time.  I can whip out a pair in about two hours, which is actually kind of slow.  They fit nicely in between projects, too.  And here's thirty-six kids that will have warm hands this winter!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Harry Potter Redux

22.  Read the Harry Potter series (9/17/12)

I finished the seventh Harry Potter book on Monday night.  And I bawled my eyes out.  These were such great books, I wish I'd discovered them sooner.  I never saw myself enjoying "Fantasy" books but I really, really did!  And words do not express how BUMMED I am that there's no more to read.  This is honestly the first time in my life that I've regretted getting books from the library instead of purchasing a copy.  (Which is of course easily remedied.)  I don't know if I could pick a favorite.  I really liked #4 with the Tri-Wizard Championship, but #7 was incredible.  I haven't felt this strongly about a series in an incredibly long time.

The only complaint I have?  The epilogue in #7.  I won't spoil it for anyone...but it left me wanting more.  There's so many details that I wanted to know, and it was so far into the future.  I know I'm not the only person that feels this way, either.

At least I still have 6 movies to placate me.  And the third one just came in from Netflix yesterday!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

This is the Way We Mow the Lawn, Mow the Lawn.....

You know the or it didn't happen!

#54:  Mow the lawn myself.  

Upon deciding that today was the day to cross off #54, Will asked me if this was the first time that I had ever mowed a lawn.  No, it wasn't, my brother and I shared the job as pre-teens.  It was a much bigger lawn, and a bulkier mower.  I'd put my Madonna mix tape (no, I'm not kidding) into my Walkman and spend an hour making the blades of grass shorter.  One time, it was my brother's turn to mow and my father said that I should go outside and "give him some moral support."  (I knew even then, that was code for "Just go outside.")  Imagine my parents' surprise when a few minutes later they came to investigate the yelling in the backyard and found me cheering him on.  "Gooooooo B______!  You can do it!  Mow that lawn, show it who's boss!" and turning cartwheels.  Smartass, I know.  But when I do something, I go big or I go home.

I even had my own little cheering section today.  Hubby took the pictures from our little deck, while Sean cheered and clapped his hands.  I haven't mowed our lawn since we bought the house like ten years ago!  Both the front and back lawn are pretty small so I'd say that I did it in about half an hour.  The lawn mower is much nicer than the one we had, but man the self-propellor is strong.  It's kind of like walking our dog Joey...if you push it too hard it kind of takes off on you!

It feels good to cross off this list item.  That's two items in one weekend:  dyeing yarn with friends and mowing the lawn myself.  I stayed up till past midnight on Friday, reading the last Harry Potter book.  (And my sadness over this being the last one is a whole 'nother blog post.)  If I didn't have 350 pages to go and it would take me til very late, I'd want to push myself to do three in one weekend!

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dye Baby, Dye

66.  Dye yarn again with my friends

I had so much fun with my friends last year, dyeing yarn with Kool-Aid.  I just knew that I had to do it again!  So that is where I found myself on a gorgeous Saturday afternoon...hanging out at my friend Kristina's, with what felt like hundreds of Kool-Aid packets, snacking and chatting with a bunch of like-minded knitty friends.  

Last year we boiled dye on the stove, and threw the yarn into the pot.  Well....I put the yarn into the boiling water and added the dye, and some of the powder worked directly into the yarn, making it a dark royal purple in some spots.  This year my mom (who came with us) found a great website that had a formula table on ratios of Kool-Aid flavors in order to achieve the color that you wanted your yarn to be.  Also, I spent some time on Pinterest and found a website that showed how to make your yarn look like it had been kettle-dyed using a casserole dish instead of a pot on the stove.

First, the yarn has to soak for half an hour.  We piled all of our yarns up in Kristina's sink for a group soak.  

After that we worked in groups, since there's only four burners on the stove.  Before long, the whole house smelled like Kool-Aid, sweet and fruity.  It was awesome.  :)

I had purchased two skeins of fingering-weight wool/silk blend for this.  After doing some perusing, I decided on a 5:1 ratio of Pink Lemonade and Black Cherry.  Meet "Cherry Lemonade!"  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this yet, there's 720 yards so I'm thinking a lace shawl. 

Warning:  yarn dyeing is addictive.  Kristina let me have two skeins of wool that she wasn't using (Thank you, Kristina!) so I decided to dye them blue.  I used five parts berry blast to one part grape.  Say hello to "Surf's Up!"  It's about 400 yards of worsted weight yarn....perhaps a sweater for Sean. 

Mom used some fingering weight merino wool and a packet each of lemon-lime and orange, the yarn turned this lovely kiwi color.  She loves it, and is going to use the 800 yards or so to make a swanky shawl. 

All of our yarns hanging to dry in the pretty together.  

What a fun day!  I'm going to get some more bare yarn at the New England Fiber Festival in November, hopefully we can do this as an annual event.  And hmmmm....I think I might have just found the way that I am going to dye Easter Eggs next year.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Hundred Warm Babies

Last night I finished my 100th baby hat for Stitches from the Heart.

I can't believe I've made a hundred of anything!  The first fifty were knit to commemorate Sean's first birthday.  And now that he is 2.5 years old, I have gone on to warm up another fifty babies.  These are just little hats that I worked on in between projects or when I was frustrated with something else that I was knitting or needed a little project to make my hands busy while doing something else.  They didn't cost much to make, and I had fun doing it. 

Who knew that inexpensive and fun could make a difference in the world of a little baby.  Let alone a hundred of them.  Here's to the next hundred!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Takin' Care of Mama

Oohhhh.......the sciatica is back.  It's been back, it reared its ugly head right before vacation in July and I've been dealing with it ever since.  I don't know what's caused this flare-up, but I just want it to go away!  I've had two courses of medication, pain meds and I start physical therapy next week.  At one point it hurt to cough, laugh, sit in a hard chair....and pretty much made household tasks like bringing laundry down to the basement or giving a toddler a bath nearly impossible.

I'm stubborn, though.  I push myself too far sometimes and I pay for it.  Such as I did this weekend....instead of asking for help I moved stuff around and I paid for it.  I found myself on Labor Day at home, needing to take it easy.  So when Sean went down for his nap, I got out some books for Will and I, and some knitting. 

After five or so books, Will and I were tired of reading.  And I was feeling so sleepy, so I suggested that we hang out in Mom and Dad's room, watching tv.  Will had other ideas, and said that he was going to take care of his Mom.  He brushed my hair, and then said "I'm going to go and get you a snack Mama.  And while I'm at it, I'm going to get me a snack too."  He brought back two packs of Gummy Snacks, and when we finished those he threw the trash away, and said "Now I'm going to get our second snack."  He brought back Trix Cereal that he had poured himself into little snack bowls, each complete with a spoon.  No mess in the kitchen either!  I had forgotten just how good Trix tastes.  After that, he gave me stuffed animals, covered me with a blanket and rubbed my back while singing a lullaby.  I didn't fall asleep, I just basked in the glow of my older son pampering me.  He is going to make some girl SO lucky someday! 

Bunker in the Rain

Rainy and seems like a good day to bunker down at home and watch television with the kiddos and avoid the mess outside.  Mother Nature is one conflicted dame today, with sun, rain, sun, rain, and sun/rain.  Too bad it's a school/work day and that's not going to happen.  But tonight is knit night!  I haven't been in a few weeks and I'm excited to be going tonight.  I'm starting some fun birthday presents over the next couple of weeks and can't wait to see how they turn out.  Until then......I'm watching the rain fall from the confines of my office and hoping it dries out so that I can get some errands done today.