Saturday, November 30, 2013

Brown Sock!

Size 0 needles - I have now turned the heel on the 1st sock.  I don't really like to knit socks with just 4 needles at the heel gusset - I prefer 5.  In Austria usually sock needles are sold 5 to a set, but in the US and Canada you get 4.  Anyway, I find it easier to keep track of the heel gusset stitches when I have just gusset stitches for each side on their own needles - that way the heel stitches and across the top of the sock stitches stay the same.
The pattern is Gravel Grid Socks.  I don't really follow entire sock patterns because I have my own "base" so to speak, but am using the pattern design.  

A photo from our train ride today (excuse the window glare) ... we went outside of the city.  Graz tends to stay warmer than the surrounding areas - we have no snow... but there is a bit of snow once you get outside the city.
I am a day late for the weekly knitting link-up, but I had M*A*T*H homework and then we were away for the day... but you can still take a look at everyone else's knitting goodness at Judy's blog, "Patchwork Times"

Friday, November 22, 2013

Knitting a sweater!

There is a shop in Canada that has beautiful hand knit items and they had a sweater - very similar to this one - for $240.  I love wool sweaters!  They are so warm.  I know that wool has sort-ov gone by the way-side in favor of fleece.  I won't fib - I have fleece jackets in several different colors and they are all worn a lot.  But for warmth, fleece can not even come close to comparing to wool.  I have several very nice wool sweaters and wouldn't mind having some more - I just don't want to pay $240 for one!
Anyway - I finally found a pattern similar and bought it right away.  I love the neckline because I can get a nice patterned scarf to wear and then I won't have itchy wool anywhere near my skin! Then my friend and I went to the Briggs Little mill in Canada and I bought the wool.  LOTS of beautiful colors to choose from at Briggs, and I really had a hard time selecting just one!  DH says that if this sweater is too big for me he will happily take it!
I brought the wool and pattern over here with me and over the course of the week - here and there - DH has held the skeins while I wound them all into balls.  Just one skein I did on a swift and ball winder to make a cake before leaving Canada, but then I thought the unwound skeins would pack better in my suitcase.  Here is a little snapshot of 1 ball, 1 cake, the skeins and my knit swatch.  I knit pretty loosely and had to go down in size for the needles.  Always knit your swatch!

You can see what everyone else is knitting this week over on Judy's Blog at Patchwork Times.
*Updated to add:  I did the swatch, changed needles, re-did the swatch, measured twice and it was perfect... and then I cast on one size larger than I meant to.  Ooops!  I ripped it out today and will start again tomorrow - fortunately I found my mistake after just a few inches of knitting.  Geez - my DH almost DID get this sweater afterall, LOL!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Baby Monster!

I love our weekends in the winter!  Friday we went out with a friend for lunch and then School Boy had accordion lessons.  While he was at lessons, we went to a very old bakery for coffees (or a latte in my case - yum!).  The bakery was founded in the 1500's.  It always amazes me in Austria how very old some things are!
Saturday is always a bit busy because on Sunday ALL the shops are closed, so if you want something, you need to get out on Saturday.  Walk, walk, walk everywhere.  School Boy usually needs some sort of pen or eraser or marker or something for school!  While there are no big, super, craft stores over here, there are a few stores that have small craft sections.  We picked up some different colors of yarn (1.30 Euro a skein!) and fake eyes to make... baby monsters.  Last night I started making these cute, little monsters!  The first one was orange and my son grabbed him up in a hurry.  Will have to try to get a photo later.  My son glued the eyes and embroidered the mouths - he has crafts at school and they do lots of hand sewing for their projects so he is actually quiet good at it!  The baby monster?  The pattern is from this site HERE (Craftsyiscool).  Takes a bit of time to make, but they are so cute!
And Sundays?  Usually lazy mornings, doing the wash, some housework, School Boy finishes his homework...  It is a nice day out so we will go for a family bike ride, spend some time at the park, probably play a board game in the early evening after dinner... speaking of - my son likes to use Lego pieces as his game pieces, ha!

The next 2 weekends will be busier for us because of open houses at the gymnasiums.  My son has several different "test days" scheduled (where he will go to a gymnasium for the day instead of his own school) coming up and then the open houses.  Most of the gymnasiums have "specialties" (math, science, language, music, art, sports, etc.).  My son is most interested in the math with science programs.  I WISH math came to me as easily as it comes to him!  He doesn't even have to think about it - for him it is just common sense, while for me it is a big mystery and every question has to be solved.   So we will see... applications have to be submitted right after report cards are issued.  

Updated to add:  We went downstairs to go bike riding and my LOCKED bike had been stolen.  This was quite a blow to - we really enjoy bike riding together.  DH tires quickly walking so anytime we have to walk a distance, usually my son and I go by ourselves.  So, biking is our big "together" activity outside.  The theft was most upsetting to my son who promptly burst into tears.  The bike had been a special Christmas surprise to me and it truly was very nice (purchased used, but in excellent condition).  School Boy and I still went (I used my DH's bike), but that means DH had to stay home.  My bike is easier to ride (or was) so DH always used my bike to go grocery shopping.  The DR had prescribed bike riding to help my DH's knee and my bike was perfect for that and DH was saying that his knee was starting to feel better too.   So, loosing a bike (especially since we don't have a car in Austria) hurts.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Before School...

Before I decided to go to college... I used to quilt!  I made this Shakespeare in the Park quilt when my son was small.  Actually, I have made 3 quilts using this pattern and gave 2 of them away.  This one is never used and today - it too is going to a new home.  I washed and dried it before leaving Canada (just to "freshen" and make sure that it wouldn't shrink or something dreadful since I was giving it away) and brought it over here with me.
Obviously, you can see that my own, personal bedding is all in colors of cream, yellows, golds, orange.  This is my bed in Austria so it is a bit of a different size - over here we have 2 big duvets with covers that we fold in half - and viola - the bed is made!  Orange is such a nice, bright color for our long, gray winter days.  We used to have blues/greens and I found it too dark.  If the sun isn't going to shine outside, at least I can pretend it is shining inside!   In the summer, my bed in Canada is all creams and whites. 
With my life schedule, business, school classes, etc... there has not been much time for quilting... but it is there - perking on the back burner, just waiting for my return when the time comes.  In the meantime, when I have spare time I like to sit down, put my feet up and knit!  And knitting is much more portable than quilting.
This pattern is from Judy Martin.  It is found in her book, "The Creative Pattern Book".  It is an easy pattern, but has many, many pieces!  What I did was get a bunch of med/big zip lock bags and label each bag (using a Sharpie marker) with the pattern letter.  As I cut - I put the pieces into the correctly labeled bag.  As long as you stay organized, you can master this pattern!

You can read an older blog post of mine about these quilts by clicking HERE.  And HERE is a post all the way back from 2006 when I was making BLUE stars for this pattern (I make the little sawtooth stars first because they take the longest - the snails go together fast so I save that for the end).  I am sure that I have other posts here and there about making this pattern, but you know... after blogging for years and years - it is a lot of blog posts to wade through to find what you are looking for!  Anyway, long story short - if you like the looks of this pattern, I do encourage you to give it a try.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Concert

Well, my son's big concert was this past weekend.  Two years ago he came home from school with a little card for a "test-day" for a melodica class.  I had never heard of this instrument - but think... piano horn (I actually don't have a photo of it handy so here is a photo from Amazon for you!)
He loved it from the first class.  It was easy to see that he took to it like a duck in water.  At the end of the year he had a little concert at the town square with lots of people milling about.  The next year he graduated to the accordion with the piano keys on the side (which we rented and paid insurance on).  But the classes weren't working out - a group lesson and on Monday's, but Monday has so many holidays we were paying for lessons that he wasn't actually getting, and Monday is always a heavy day for homework at school.  We looked around and found a professional music school and he now has private lessons.  The school has lent him (no additional charge) a lovely accordion.  An added plus - his lessons are on Friday so he has all weekend to get that homework finished for school! He has progressed by leaps and bounds and this past weekend was his first really big concert.  Big relief that it was well before the onslaught of Christmas events. 

His view - I estimated that the place holds 300 people because there are chairs you can't see in the photo and I would say that there were probably a good 250 people there.  We sat in the back 1/3 seats because they were cheaper - this was a fancy event.  But, since we were there for the rehearsal we actually had a mostly private concert the first time around.  (Rehearsal photo below).

I won't lie - it was a long day for him.  We left home just after 4 for the rehearsal and then the concert didn't start until 7:30 pm.  They had a 30 minute intermission.  Many of the churches over here have bars and serve little sandwiches/drinks you can buy during intermission for events held there.  After a little sandwich and some OJ he was ready - 3 kids total played in the 2nd half of the concert.  Why oh why didn't they put the kids first, I have no idea, but that is just the way it works sometimes.  So, the concert didn't get out until after 10.  We went straight to a little pub with a smoke free room for pizza and didn't get home until after 11.
It was pouring!  At night, the public transportation does not run as often so it was actually faster for us to walk all the way home.  I was so happy that my husband had bought me my very own umbrella earlier that day on a whim when he was at the grocery store (we usually share and that works fine for a light drizzle, but it was really coming down in buckets going to and leaving the concert).
I think this will work now - if you click on the little triangle it will play a short video clip of the group playing a song during the rehearsal.  Really worth listening to!  He has come a long way from that squeaky melodica.  So - if your kids are learning to play an instrument - hang in there - it DOES get better!


Saturday, November 09, 2013

Hand knit socks!

One month ago - I bought this Kroy yarn in Canada.  A few hours later I badly sprained my ankle (which is now starting to feel better - the DR was correct in saying to take it easy for 6 weeks).  I couldn't really take it easy at first though -  I still had to close down my property/business, pack for the next six months, drive hours and hours to Cape Cod, take my math mid-term at college, and catch a plane the next day to Austria... 
When life is really crazy, and I am super stressed out - having some simple sock knitting to pick up - here and there - helps me relax.  The first sock didn't go so well, I think I was just overall too tired to even sock knit!  Even with the all the mistakes and ripping back, it did help me relax, so served a purpose.  I knit down to the heel on the wrong sized needles and ended up ripping it all out (they were so wide they looked like leg warmers!).  Then I made a mistake at the rib and ripped it back.  Then I saw the heel gusset had a hole (but not until when I got down to the toe), so I ripped that back and fixed it.  The 2nd sock went much faster!  
I K2, P2 for 2 1/2" and then K3, P1 for the leg down to the top of the toe.  
Here is my sock mushroom - in action.  You might think that you don't need one of these lovlies, but really, it makes weaving in the ends for socks so much easier!  I love mine - it is an oldie with German writing on it (I have no idea what it says).  An appreciated tool, to be sure.
And now, I am happy to say - I have a lovely, new pair of socks for the winter.  Hand knit.  The very best kind.  The stripes don't line up because I measured and knew I would not have enough yarn to start the 2nd sock at the same pattern repeat since I would have to "skip" so much yarn.  Then the yarn had a break in it anyway and didn't the new piece didn't start at the same place - and THEN the stripes matched on the foot part itself.  Funny how that works out sometimes.  I never worry about matching stripes though - and this is the first time I thought I might and then I couldn't anyway.
I would really, really like a nice basket to put my current sock knitting project into to - easy to move about the house from room to room and contain a few tools (like tape measure, scissors and mushroom).  My sister has a basket similar to the one below (hand made in Africa) and I want one too!  It is so beautiful.  Well, I will put it on my wish list!

If you always wanted to learn how to knit socks - just give it a try.  The very worst that can happen is that you rip the yarn back and guess what - you still have perfectly good, usable yarn to start over with again.  When I learned, I had a book and also watched videos on You Tube for things like turning the heel and the kitchner stitch for closing the toes.
You can see what everyone else is knitting over on Judy's blog here:

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Family Game Night

Monopoly (this is the Sponge Bob version)...

and DKT are 2 family favorites.

The beloved Austrian board game DKT and Monopoly are basically the exact same game!  
As we swing into the longer nights of winter... we spend some family time together playing board games (at least once a week anyway).  By the time my son gets home from school and gets his homework done - it is just about dark!  So, games are a nice way to break up the evening.  
My son is now 10 and does a great job as the banker for Monopoly and DKT.   Sneaky way to teach math and change counting, etc. And playing as a family gives you a safe environment to not allow cheating and specifying what the rules are before they go out and play at another house.  I think most 10 year olds like to win, and as parents - I think sometimes it is easier to just let them win so they are happy, but in the long run - you aren't doing them any favors.  So, we play by the rules and he usually wins anyway, but is also learning to loose, if not gracefully, then at least - not in a sulk.  Phew.  It is all for fun.
We also play Sorry!  But - I am on the lookout for a new board game for the family (3 players so that rules out the 2 player games).  Any favorites?  Suggestions?  I am thinking maybe Life.  What are some of your family favorites?

On the weekends, we head outdoors!  Not that we aren't outdoors a lot during the week, but school takes up such a chunk of the daytime.  Anyway, it IS getting cooler here, but mid-day is usually fairly nice.  We like walking and bike riding - just taking it easy and enjoying our time together.  

Note:  You can get all sorts of versions of Monopoly - from the Classic, New York, Sponge Bob, Dr. Who, National Parks - lots more!  Amazing.  Just be sure that you are ordering the board game if that is what you want, not some electronic version!