Keeping Me Happy

IMG_0023 Twelve hundred and ninety yards of pure Plucky Knitter bliss just arrived at my door. It doesn’t look like it yet, but this is going to be a silk and merino tee for the summer …… once I figure out the stripes :). And I love the Plucky Knitter. I wish she’d come into my life a lot sooner. This came all the way from Churchmouse Yarn and Teas on Bainbridge Island in Washington to Maine in 4 days. On a holiday weekend. I love all those Churchmice that make life so interesting.

I’m so new to this knitting thing and to this Plucky Knitter yarn OBSESSION that stole upon me in the middle of the night …….. Sigh. I need more and more and more and more. I’m already planning for the next update ……. whenever it is. My son gave me the option of a spinning wheel or a gigantic yarn binge in July. I will have a mild yarn binge in June. And a mild needle binge. We do seem to need to eat around here. Sad.

On another note – I keep trying to stay happy. If not happy then at least not sad. But it is still hard. Only 6 months since my husband died and I still feel so abandoned, which makes no sense, but there it is. Knitting keeps me from screaming and crying and throwing things. Which upsets the cat, you know, so not doing those things is good.

I’ve got to live this life alone and the knitting needles permanently tied to my hands is helping. And those yarn splurges are going to help too, I just know it.

Lemonade Socks

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Well the socks are fuzzy, so why not the picture? :) This is a pair (thank god they took FOREVER) of socks for which I hand-painted the yarn. I was playing around trying to get color that doesn’t pool and I did do that. But I am less than thrilled knitting with a single ply high twist sock yarn …….. no spring in it …….. That’s why they seemed to take forever.

I got this on the needles last night  …… and in my somewhat dark living room, the colors didn’t wow me. This morning though, they’re fine. I don’t like knitting colors I don’t like ……

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I’m now on pair 22 in the mega sock marathon. My son raves about his socks and always remarks about how much he hated all those plain socks he’s worn since he was a sprout. There’s a little adventure in that artist’s soul of his for sure.

And then today, in-between vacuuming (have I mentioned how much I hate cleaning house?) and straightening up the living room and emptying out reusable K-cups and generally doing the chores, I went onto Churchmouse Yarns and Teas and bought some more Plucky Knitter yarn in the colors she dyed specifically for Churchmouse. Let me tell you, it was a scramble. I initially wanted a purple, an awesome yellow and a mellow blue. The blue and yellow I got and I should have gotten the purple first, I think, because it sold out by the time I went back to get it. Sigh. So I ended up with a nice orange-rusty color in place of the purple which will be fine for my plans. Now to download the pattern I’m going to make and then, wait till payday again to get some needles. My needles have to be Signature Needle Arts. I. Cannot. Knit. With. Any. Other. Needles.

It’s beautiful here in Vacationland, all green and everything is blooming, although if you came here now, you’d for sure need a sweater or a sweatshirt! I’m freezing still. I have on my socks and a hoodie and I’m inside. The best part for me is a no-electricity month because I’m not heating or cooling ……… I love that. My bill will drop down to $60 or less and that will be dreamy. More yarn. :)

There is another Plucky Knitter update on Monday and Tuesday. Sigh. Can’t do it. So I’m pretty sure there will be another one in June and my pennies will be saved for that. I did join the Classics Club and I’ll be getting a skein of Plucky Feet every other month to hold me if I have to skip an update or two. Plus there is a ton on the destash board on Ravelry.

I got my first Plucky on Thursday and I love it. I got this really deep saturated purple on Feet, Chamomile on Sweater, Lollipop Guild on Bello Worsted (was that a value!) and Magnet and Steel on Bulky and Bohemian Blue on Trusty. Luckily I have no problems with single skeins ……… hats and mittens are always needed and if not for us, there are a lot of folks here in Maine who need hats and mittens and the Salvation Army Church is right down my street ……. just 4 homes away. I can knit and do good at the same time. Which beats the hell out of vacuuming! :)

Time to Cook Supper

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Okay I’m cheating. I don’t make ravioli, although I’m sure someone will tell me it’s easy. Ha. I tried it a long time ago and all the filling ended up outside the pasta. Not good. So this is the ravioli.

We’re having this plus a marinara sauce and freshly baked breadsticks. My marinara is better than any I can buy, so I make it. Here’s what I do:

5 large cloves garlic, finely minced

1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes plus three squeezes of tomato paste (from a tube)

3 T pesto

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

I “fry” the garlic in evoo until it smells like heaven on earth, then I add the tomatoes and the paste. Into that I add the pesto, oregano and basil and some freshly ground black pepper. I don’t add salt – are you kidding? There’s enough salt in there already. I let this simmer for at least 40 minutes to get the flavors melded.

If I’m feeling adventurous I grate in some REAL parmesan after the sauce is off the heat.

I cook the ravioli in a super large pot of boiling salted water.

My foccacia dough makes great breadsticks – or you can take it easy and buy some ready to bake. How easy is this? If you’re really hungry – add a salad.

I Have Been Pluckyed

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This is just a plain not-so plain vanilla sock. Thank god it’s the second of the pair ……. all washed and ready to go into the drawer. It’s heating up here so it might not get worn until the late fall, but it’ll be there when I need it.

Now about my new condition. My Plucky condition. I chanced upon a blog post by Susan B. Anderson and a giveaway for a shawl kit. That kit had yarn from The Plucky Knitter in it. I didn’t win. No surprise there. But, like everything Susan B. Anderson writes about – I had to have me some of that there yarn. Bad. You see, I have excellent taste. Except in men. Nobody would tell you I have great taste in men. However, men aside, I could almost be called a snob when it comes to quality. It’s a shame I was born without a trust fund, but then again I have to figure out how to afford my excellent taste and that keeps me busy. It’s okay.

I started looking at The Plucky Knitter stuff on Ravelry. I went to her website. I signed up for the newsletter ………. I missed one update on the 1st, not having the least little clue how to participate. I started finding out. And then there was an Instant Gratification Update that landed in my in box. Oh my. I think I can figure out the regular update procedure if I try hard enough, but the IG was somethin’. Whew. I haven’t had that much fun in years.

I have always resisted competitive yarn buying. I could not resist The Plucky Knitter. She has these fabulous base yarns and they are dyed up in her barn in Michigan. And although I was born in Illinois and lived there to the ripe old age of 29, when I think of home, I think Michigan.

So yesterday morning I set my alarm for 7 am, 7:15 am, 7:35 am …… I do not arise early in the morning any longer. I sleep like a dead thing. But yesterday I had my coffee in hand, the tabs up on my screen and my cat fed all before 8:30. I was ready to go.

I had my eyes on Plucky Feet, being a sock knitter. I knew it was going to be a rough haul and it was. I would put stuff in my cart and by the time I hit the check out button, something would be gone. I think I mistakenly didn’t buy some stuff because only one skein or so was out of stock, who knows? In the heat of the moment, I was all about paying for that yarn. I managed to get one skein of Feet, a mystery tasting of 3 skeins and then I went back for the evening update and got another skein of Trusty. There was a Mystery Spring Fever (that’s a scarf) group of 8 skeins that  went up. It was $230. I looked at it forever. I resisted. I was crushed. I tried begging but children have no heart. Especially mine. Even on Mother’s Day week he didn’t think $230 worth of yarn sight unseen was a great deal. I did.

I have also joined The Plucky Knitter group on Ravelry and I check the destash discussion every hour or so. I will have more Plucky. I have several patterns in  mind and I am forestalling any yarn purchases until the next update ………. sometime this month. I will haunt the destash board too.

Wasn’t it the Borg who said resistance is futile? Let’s apply that to the quest for yarn, yarn and more yarn ……….. The Plucky Knitter yarn in particular.

There’s A Reason I Knit Socks ……….

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There is a reason I knit socks. It’s because they don’t take forever, you don’t have to knit 18 inches of stockinette and I can wear them. Sad to say, I’m not much for wearing wool sweaters – never being a super-cold person and if I get cold I just put on layers. Sigh.

This is the last sock for my son in the Madelinetosh Sock Blue Nile color way he chose. They are super squishy and nice. I love my Tosh socks ……. and I have 4 more skeins of Tosh to knit.

Saturday I cast on my sweater, joined it to knit in the round (the blasted thing was 81 inches – a big over-sized sweater) only when I  joined it – I twisted the stitches and didn’t figure that out until 9 rows were done. I am not in the mood to cast it on again. I will not wear a sweater that is 81″ wide. I will not wear a wool sweater. I wore the one I finished just after my husband died today to go out. I was extremely warm and it isn’t warm in Maine yet. So now I sit and stare at that yarn and I have no idea what to make from it. I think I will have to let it hibernate for a while until something grabs me. I could make a cardigan – and I could make socks from the yarn. We all know I like making socks. And we wear them ………..

Color and Happiness

Colored Pencils

I’m not sure where my love for color entered my life. It could have been in kindergarten when I got to mess with fingerpaints? I would have been 5 then and color has informed my whole life.

I love rich, over saturated colors, calm milky colors and colors that speak to me of the sea, like turquoise and white and pine and gray. I love wearing gray which makes me feel homey and comfortable.

From fingerpainting to painting to quilting with wild fabric to making my own clothing with bright colors to knitting with bright yarn — all of these have made me happy. My next step is going to be knitting with more than one color at a time. This should be good, right? Sure, just as long as I can keep from tangling the yarns and knit right and left-handed. Since I’m left-handed, the left-handed bit should be easy – but you see, Mom was right-handed and where else could I learn knitting? No where else but from Mom. So now I get to retrain myself just a little ……… and I’m ready.

I’ll be using directions and patterns from this book –

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and you can see just a few of the lovely mitten patterns in this book. There’s another title I’m going after too, next month, after I read this one cover to cover and plot my mittens. I cannot wait.

My late husband was from Latvia. He is currently thrilled to bits with the idea that I will attempt a Latvian mitten pattern. How do I know this? Because everything I did fiber-wise, thrilled him to bits. So he can look over my shoulder and let me know which patterns he likes the best. And I will knit them.

I’m finishing up the most beautiful socks in Blue Nile by Madelinetosh –

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and I’m wearing my Mad-tosh socks. Once this last (second!) sock is done, I’m going to take a break from sock knitting for a bit and start my sweater from this yarn:

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which I so gladly found at Imagiknit in San Francisco. All of you knitters dying to get hold of colors of Malabrigo Mechita that you can’t find anywhere? Go to imagiknit.com – they have them all!!!!!!!

That sweater is going to take some time …….. and since none of the 6 skeins I got look remotely like another one, I will be alternating two skeins at a time. It’s a good time of year for a long project  and if I get antsy I can always cast on another sock, right?

And then, when the weather gets awesome, I’m  going to Belfast and I’m going to visit Heavenly Socks Yarn shop. Oh yes, more color …………….

Fly Over

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I live in a town with a National Guard base. It’s the Air National Guard and when they fly, they fly. They fly re-fueling planes out of Bangor and other large aircraft too, I think. I only know that when they rev up their engines for take-off, it is loud. And I’m miles away from the airport. They must be training this week. Last night, late, a huge plane revved up and took off. I swear the glass in my windows rattled.

Today some big jet of some kind, which could have been commercial, went flying over my house. It sounded like the roar of doom. I don’t know if it was a military plane or just had a differing flight path than normal. When we looked at houses, we stayed away from those in the direct path into the airport. At one place we were looking, I  was standing outside (I didn’t like the house at all but my husband was checking it all out) and a passenger jet from overseas came in for a landing. I could have shaken hands with the people on board, I swear. There was no way I was living there.

Other than listening to large planes land and take off, I’ve been rolling yarn into a ball. I don’t have a ball winder and a swift, nor am I liable to get them. I have a chair and my hands. It works out but just takes me longer. I’m really good at winding balls of yarn now. I wound one ball this morning and poof that’s it for me. I find I’m in the middle of spring fever and I need something new to get stuck into. But who can settle? Not me.

We’re melting like crazy here – I’m so pleased because now I’m not freezing to death inside. Since it’s warm out, my heat pump is putting all sorts of nice warm air into the house. And I’m loving it because it’s so much cheaper than oil. Let the season of mud begin.

Spring cleaning may have to happen, but let’s face it – it isn’t the most fun thing to do when you’re antsy. I found years ago that I clean really well when I’m pissed. Well, shoot. I’m not pissed anymore ……. so the interest in cleaning is like nah. I’ll have to think of something that really pissed me off so I can get in the mood. I can handle that – piece of cake.

I have some knitting books coming my way and I can’t wait to read them. And look at the pictures! And think about whether or not I’m ready to tackle something different. I think I can do stranded color work and these books will give me the directions. Plus they’re full of projects that won’t take forever and won’t cost an arm and a leg. Since I don’t have spare arms and legs ………… And I need to decide if I’m going to get a different needle for my sweater or if I’m going to knit it on the circular needles  I have. I have been spoiled by Signature Needle Arts needles and I use them all the time for socks. I have two circular needles by the company and they make knitting so much easier. Someone said it’s like  knitting with a piece of jewelry – so true!

Ok times up. Time to get back to these gorgeous socks –

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We All Like It

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This yarn is rarer than um, something I can’t think of right off the top of my head.  Rare as heck actually. This is Malabrigo’s new Mechita yarn – a gorgeous single ply in unbelievably bold colors. This color is called Diana. I don’t care what its name is, I want it. All of my normal suppliers have Mechita. None of them have it in this color. I want this color. I wanted this yarn the moment I heard it was coming out …… all of  my mittens are knit in Malabrigo and I did a sweater in Malabrigo worsted over the winter. It seems I’m not going to get this yarn. Nobody has it anymore. That color – among a few other contenders – is gone. Maybe. There are thousands of places to look …… and I will look at them all.

Do I want this color because I love it or because I can’t get any? I’m contrary that way. I must have been hell to live with (I can hear my husband laughing from the other side right now saying “MUST?”) My son doesn’t seem to think so,  but then again we don’t get on each other’s nerves. Being a lot alike helps I think. Or a lot non-alike. One or the other.

Since Friday, I have been searching for some store, any store, any website anywhere that had this in stock so I could buy it. I just can’t imagine living without it. I have the perfect cardigan pattern that I am willing to try if I can just get my hands on this stuff. And I would rather knit socks the rest of my life than make a sweater. Sweaters take a long time.

Luckily, I am on an austerity program. I can sit here and pat myself on the back that I can’t find this yarn because I’m being really good. I can’t afford to be anything else. But I do have to have stuff to do …….. so hard to rationalize my way into spending money when I just keep thinking “groceries” “oil”, etc. I did promise myself that next month no yarn will enter the house. I have plenty of sock yarn and if I run out (not possible in a month) I can just wait until May to make more socks.

Speaking of socks, I found myself knitting green socks on St. Patrick’s Day. One of them was done, one is on the needles …… and how pretty is this?

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It is greener in person, but there are areas of blue-green and brownish green. This is new sock yarn for me, Madelinetosh Sock and I love it. I think this is going to be a great alternative to Koigu, which I also love but the skeins are small in yardage. I’m wearing my Koigu socks now and my feet are warm ……… not an easy thing to accomplish in Maine, where it is 19 degrees right now and the wind is blowing a gale.

We’ve had some kind of winter weather since the weekend and it keeps on coming. We usually (always) get a storm for St. Patrick’s Day and this year was no exception. We’ve gotten so used to snow that a storm with 4 to 6 inches doesn’t even leave an impression. I will be glad though to see green grass, to go outside without boots on and without a coat. I want spring. Now.

While I’m waiting for spring, I’m going to look for that yarn. Hard.

Mega Dirty Dishes Supper Tonight

photo credit food network.com
photo credit food network.com

Here’s the link to the recipe http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lemon-fusilli-with-arugula-recipe.html. It does dirty quite a few dishes ………

I cannot even describe in just words how luscious this is. I even leave out the arugula and the tomatoes – we just do it with broccoli. It has garlic, heavy cream (I do half and half because I just have to hold the line somewhere), parmesan, lemon zest, lemon juice and tons of pepper. We love this. We don’t make this super often, but when we do WE EAT IT.

With all the lemon zest and lemon juice, this pasta dish tastes like spring. And since it FEELS like spring out there – I’m eating things that taste like spring!