Sunday, August 30, 2009

End of the season

Our yard is really coming together nicely. We always seem to do more work on the yard toward the end of the season that at the beginning. I think it is because we've always got pressures to keep working on 'more important' things during the first part of the season. But this year, we NEEDED to do a significant amount of heavy work - including getting get rid of a huge and awful pile of wood along the side of our yard that was riddled with gross mushrooms and creating a major eyesore. So, thanks to a couple of bagsters (3 cubit foot bag type dumpsters), the wood is almost gone. And we've planted a vibernum hedge that will hopefully grow very quickly to provide some privacy. We still need to put some edging of some sort along this or it will be really difficult to mow. It looks great, but you know what? 60 privet hedges showed up in the mail yesterday. My husband placed the order and he did not think it went through, but here they are. They come from an online nursery - very small with no dirt - in a dormant state. But they started to sprout on their way to our house, so they need to get into the ground. I guess I know what I will be doing today.

Our sienna maple is just two years old and look how big it has gotten:

It is getting to be the end of planting season in Minnesota, but we've taken advantage of low prices on shrubs.

And a little giant arborvitae, potentillas, and a red twig dogwood - these are a little more well established - maybe five years. And we put in the retaining wall, steps, and cobble stone sidewalks. The potentillas are great because they give yellow flowers all summer long.

And we just created this little corner for a that evergreen and a few perennials. You can see a tarp and some junk in the background. We're building a deck there first thing next fall.

And here is a smoke tree and two hibiscus. I need to get some pots for the hibiscus, so I can bring them in and out of the house. And the smoke tree is going in the front - as far as I know now.

And a weeping Japanese cherry tree, diablo ninebarks, and alpine currants (also just a couple years old!). And we're getting a new drive way poured next spring. I can't wait to be able to shovel a real driveway instead of gravel.

But the real winner of the season is going to be our soffits and fascia. They were damaged in a storm two years ago and we hadn't fixed them - we were having a difficult time finding them and weren't looking forward to the work. But we placed a special order for them and you can see them all wrapped in plastic on sidewalk in the above picture. They are slowly but surely getting on the house. The high wire act isn't very much fun - ladders and hanging off the roof by the skin of your teeth. But it will be done!

I am nearly finished with the back of the minimalist cardigan - more photos soon!

And I know....another new template for the blog layout.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Making progress on minimalist....

or making minimal progress? "Making progress"....this phrase has somehow gotten woven into my regular speech and it has got to go! 'We're making progress' or 'I am making progress' with fill in the blank - projects or tasks at work, yard work, house projects, you name it. And I am tired of if. I am tired of thinking of my life in milestones toward completion of some work that needs to be done by a date that feels like it was picked out of the ether. These self-imposed deadlines are no doubt the result of feeling like things don't get done, but boy, can it suck the fun out of things. I have an inordinate amount of yard work that I'd like to get done this year, along with new carpeting in the living, purchasing new couches, finishing the ceiling in my dining room, getting a walk in closet finished upstairs, and generally having the house poised for projects to do in the winter. This house under constant renovation is a real strain and I want to be living like a normal person again. Maybe the solution is a shift in thinking - some kind of paradigm shift. I will let ya know how that goes.

I was knitting the Minimalist Cardigan this week. I see my photo features the same book I used in the photo last week! I don't take much time taking these photos, but at least the photo isn't taken on the couch next to me as so many are. I frequently set my project next to me (laptop on my lap), grab the camera and take a few shots and call that good. And I think I keep looking at the front of this book not just because of the patterns, but because I think I want my hair to look like the model's hair on the cover! It could happen...

This brown is so pretty. The moss stitch too is a good one to use if you've got any wrist or arm strain from keyboarding or other repetitive stress activities, because are moving back and forth so much. I still really love the color for fall and just recently got a gold silky tank top that should go beautifully with this brown.

So, other things to look forward to....I am selling my Honda Ruckus scooter, because I don't feel safe on it any more and I want to use the proceeds get the husband a new guitar and amp just for the fun of it; I am taking 1 of 2 more classes this fall to finished my masters (perspectives of adult development) and the instructor is very relaxed and creative - I think I will be journaling this fall if that tells you anything!; and I am planning on doing a long weekend camping trip to enjoy the colors and do some hiking before winter.

And I will leave you with has been 90 degrees with matching humidity the past few days - all around icky. This picture was taking in Minneapolis, MN out my kitchen window in January 2009. Yup, 20 below zero - I think the windchill that week was 35 below zero. Scary cold.

Here's to enjoying the rest of summer!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Minimalist Cardigan

I am taking what I hope is a very small break from the Flutter Cardigan to cast on the Minimalist Cardigan because I wanted to have something that I didn't need to pay close attention to while watching a movie. The Flutter Sleeve Cardigan has only the front bands to knit and some finishing work. The bands are something else - they will require some very careful mattress stitching of the band to the body of the left and right fronts.

And then the long band that will need to be stitches to the body?

See how you use some reserved stitches from the waist and knit a long band up the front?

And here's the beginning of the Minimalist Cardigan from the Fall 2007 Interweave Knits. Fall 2007 was a great issue - I have made the Tilted Duster from that issue and have a few others marked for future knitting. The color in this first picture is very accurate - I sometimes run into trouble with my camera. The deep brown moss stitch is going to be beautiful in the fall.

Size: 39
Yarn: Knit Picks Andean Silk in Fedora (it has a great fuzziness - its an alpaca, merino, silk blend)
Needles: Size 6 Addis

And The books in the background.....Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book. I just picked that up at the library yesterday. I bought it for my tween nephew for his birthday and thought it looked pretty good. There's nothing that says I can't read kids books - I read all the Harry Potters so why not branch out into other kid's literature? And the other book....Knitting New Mittens & Gloves by Robin Melanson. I also got this at the library, but think I am going to need to buy this. This has a wonderful variety of patterns - creative and unexpected, folk, clever and unexpected and a few patterns that I could see as great standards to always fall back on. I learned about this book from a fellow blogger, Knitting with my Mothers's Hands, on one of her recent posts.

And on a personal note, I have had minor bad luck for weeks and I hope things are going to change. I got a notice from the City of Minneapolis for out of control lilacs in the alley. I cut them by the requested date and still got a fine. So, I went to court to dispute the charge. (The fine was pretty small, but annoying - $134). The judge was condescending and treated me like a naughty little girl. But the most annoying part is that a neighbor was there for a similar ticket. Well, now he knows who I am and came down to my house to talk with me after court and he thinks the city is conspiring against the citizens, and that they are perpetrating fraud and wants me to work with him to fight the man. I am guessing he is about 40 years old (but looks much older from smokin' and drinkin') - well, the best part of this story? I also got a letter from the guy's mother asking me to join forces with them. Oy vey.

And then my brand new car (Suzuki SX4) was vandalized and backed into. I had not made the second car payment yet when this happened. And even though I think the two things happened at the same time, Allstate processed this as two claims. Yes, two deductibles.

And then my wallet went missing at work (big public University campus)on Monday afternoon. I realized it was gone in about two hours. By the time I called the bank, the criminals who I now think actually pick pocketed it out of my purse had made 11 fraudulent charges - at four gas stations. So, I had to cancel everything. And the only reason I had a VISA with me that day? Because I needed it to pay the $993 charge at the auto body shop to get my car back. That meant I could not get my car. But in the end I hope this was nothing more than annoying - the bank fixed everything, I got my car, and wasn't out any money. But a word of advise....know what's in your wallet. I knew exactly what was in there, so I knew what needed to be canceled immediately and where I was at risk. I even canceled my health insurance card and library card.

And last but not least, thanks to Zel, the Grimm Witch for blogging advise on how to get a picture into my header. Cool! Now I just need to find a good pictures that matches this template. I am still working on the right layout and I am not loving anything that's canned, so I might continue to work on my own and make incremental changes over time.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Flutter Sleeve Cardigan

The Flutter Sleeve Cardigan from the Spring 2008 Interweave Knits mag is about 75% finished. The bulk of what's left is finishing work - the band and the tabs. The finishing is going to be kinda difficult.

Here's is right front side to give you a sense of the cool short row shaping. And lots of increases and decreases at various intervals.

This is what I needed to do to keep track:

Each number is a row (knit or purl depending on odd or event) and each I is an increase row. Each number with a circle around it also has a decrease on the neck edge. There was a lot going on 'at the same time', which often gets confusing for me. And the BO 5, BO 3, etc is just the shoulder shaping for reference. I like to check off each row as I complete it on more complicated patterns too.

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool - beautiful, but this stuff is awful to wind, super sticky.
Needles: size 3, 6, and 7 needles

Ok, I am off to knit quietly for an hour or so. I worked hard in the yard today (despite being up at 3 am again). I am taking action to improve my sleep - including quiet time at night, no eating late, and getting some exercise, and let's not underestimate the power of drugs. Herb tea and valeriun herb (not together) are also on the menu tonight.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

More Simple Ribbed Socks

Here's yet another pair of socks...another pair of Simple Ribbed Socks and I think this is the Madder Ribbed Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks. I've made a number of these since I stopped blogging regularly, so I am kind of guessing based on the heel. I can't tell by the toe or heel flap, because I almost always do the same heel flap (s1, k1, purl back) and toe (k2, ssk, knit to end, kt2, k2, repeat). This appears to be the Horseshoe Heel or Dutch heel, which I like very well. Creates a nice little cupped shape that hugs the heel.

Nice horseshoe or Dutch heel.

I think the yarn is going to be very nice - doesn't have a nice texture? It is very soft. It is Knit Picks Essential Tweed. The bummer is that one skein isn't enough and there is sooo much left of the second. I hate all those leftovers.

The striped socks on the left are the same pattern in Trekking XXL on size 0s. Trekking is a great sock yarn - very durable and it gets softer with washing. The Flutter Sleeve Cardigan in the background is my current WIP from Interweave Knits on some Elsebeth Lavold yarn - silky wool I think. I should have pics of that fairly soon!

If any of you are looking for a great sock book, Knitting Vintage Socks is it. It has great instructions, some very nice simple patterns that will become standbys, and some other really nice and interesting patterns.

Oh, and it is exactly 3:00 am in Minneapolis here and I am sooo sick of insomnia. But being up at this time, I saw something I've never seen before though. There are only 588 Ravelry users online. I am sure that this interesting tidbit is not worth how I am going to feel when the sun finally comes up. I am getting crabby. And it is August freakin' 1st today. That stinks. Pretty much everything stinks at 3 am.

I have been doing a little online shopping in the middle of the night and can't believe I need to start thinking about fall clothes. I would like to have a more interesting, good looking and well fitting wardrobe this fall. I don't like shopping, but like to have a good looking wardrobe and this year, I am going to put a little more effort into putting together some better looking styles. I think thrifting is going to be a key in getting some more interesting stuff. And stylish shoes.