Fall Yarn Projects – and a surprise πŸ˜†

Good evening (or day depending on where you are in this great world of ours) dear audience.

Let’s discuss something that is close to my heart – yarn!

“But wait!” I hear you cry (I have amazing speakers on my phone/computer you know!) that is far too broad a topic.

I agree my friends, so let’s narrow it down. The dreaded C word is fast approaching you know. Yes, Christmas.

Now, I know many of you who are crafters (like me, or at least I like to pretend that is so!) will probably have already started – if not completed – some of your intended gifts.

However, this is what normally happens for me:

The Festive Season Checklist:

  1. Realise Christmas is X number of months away.
  2. Realise “oh crud – gifts
  3. Think to myself “oh, of course, I could hand make gifts”
  4. Start lists of everyone who I think I could make something for.
  5. Remember that, actually, I am a slow knitter/crocheter and so in order to do this for everyone I should have started in January.
  6. Cry at list.
  7. Throw list away and start browsing Amazon.

However, there are people out there, normal sane people, who can do this and do this well.

And for those I have some wonderful news.

This is my first-ever sponsored/requested post!

Yes I’m actually doing something practical for a change.

(Stop gasping at the back there, you there in the back row – I see you!)

So, let’s talk seasonal knitting. Now did I mention I am a slow knitter? I’m better crocheter in terms of speed, but I find making anything beyond blankets in crochet a bit head scratchy.

So I really ought to have started things like sweaters or cowls or ponchos back in the spring let alone in the summer.

(I do have a seed stitch cowl that I’ve been working on but it’s very much at the bottom of the unfinished object pile)

However for those of you who can knock up a sweater in a week – and I know people like this exist, there are several in my weekly knitting group – there is still more than enough time for my exciting news to impact you.

LoveKnittingUSA are running an amazing giveaway via yours truly.

They are offering 10 free balls of yarn for one of my lucky readers.

That’s right dear audience 10 balls of gorgeous yarn from the Simply DK range

Why DK? Well it’s from my own personal preference – I find I underuse DK (when I work on projects for myself I tend to work in fingering/sock weight) and I therefore feel that this yarn could use some love.

Isn’t that amazing? Obviously there are T&Cs but they are remarkably simple. You will need to be prepared to provide your name and address by email (so that spam bots don’t pick it up from my blog or Facebook) to receive the prize.

It will be sent directly from LoveKnitting, (due to me knowing how crazy busy my life can suddenly get, and I would NOT want you missing out) and so you would also need to contact me once the prize arrives with a photo.

And, we would very much like a picture of the winning Finished Object.

Which leads me nicely on to the next part of this post.

So, how do you win this wonderful loot?

Well, send me a comment, either on the blog directly, or through the Facebook link, telling me:

  1. Your favourite part of Fall/Halloween heck even Christmas
  2. What you would most love to make from the prize.
  3. Who it is intended for – and don’t be shy, self care is important, so if it is for yourself that’s great too.
  4. The color palette you would use – all 10 could be the same shade for a sweater, or multiple for scarves, or heck brioche colorwork it’s up to you.

The deadline for comments/entries is two weeks from the publish date of this post.

So sharpen your pins, polish your hooks, heck get out those looms people.

And get thinking/posting/writing

If you need ideas, there is this wonderful Fall inspired post which includes ideas for cozy seasonal patterns.

Or, if you are more spookily inclined, (and I have to admit that since moving to Massachusetts, Halloween is fast becoming one of my all time favourite holidays) there is also this Halloween knitting projects post which LoveKnittingUSA have already published.


Why flog a dead horse? These are amazing resources dear audience so please use them


Our weekend

It’s been another up and down-er.

Saturday, well a few good things happened.

The lady lady sent her handyman fiancΓ© down to fix our various issues.


Let us just gloss over the fact that we were given six minutes notice, and that I was still in my pyjamas.


So he fixed Nathan’s door handle straight away (though borrowing our tools to do it) but needed to return later to affix the new toilet seat and deal with the bathroom lock*

Which he did, at 17:00 with ten minutes notice this time.

The new toilet seat was equipped, and a hook and eye lock installed – almost out of my reach, so no worries about the children in the main.

He also noted that they were getting in a plasterer to fix H’s bathroom ceiling next month** so if we had any similar issues to report them and they would get them seen to at the same time.

Considering I will be recuperating from major abdominal surgery, how about no to random people in my house doing random crap? Plus H sent her son up two weeks ago and he dealt with the holes in our walls.

We then had Date Night. We saw Star Wars: The Last Jedi.

I liked it. I mean yes there was some sad stuff, and some stuff that could have been better. I wonder what they will do about the next film given Carrie Fisher is no longer with us. But there were some adorable moments.

I want a Porg. And a Crystal Critter. And I used my scary spooky abilities and spotted the actress who played Dr. Ellie Stadler in Jurassic Park.

Which, leads me nearly on to some of the trailers I watched.

Films Which I Now NEED To See:

  • A Quiet Place
  • Avengers: Infinity War
  • A Wrinkle In Time
  • Panther
  • JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM***

There were a few others, but given you cannot have your phone in the cinema, I’ve forgotten some.

So that was lovely. Film was good. Food at the cinema in-house bar wasn’t great but they do good cocktails. We had 45min to spare before the film, so we went to the arcade and played a Jurassic Park shooter – and I didn’t totally suck!!! So that was fun.

Behold the awesome that is reclining cinema seats though!!!

Didn’t get home til half midnight, but the sitter had cable and snacks and the kids hadn’t been evil, so she’s happy to come back next week for our Burns Night shenanigans.

Then came Sunday.

We had a visit from the lovely Libidia, and First and Third. Sadly Second was poorly-sick five minutes from our place, so his daddy took him home and vowed to return to collect his lady and remaining offspring anon.

TT adores Third. However she constantly refers to them as “baby”, which, as they are actually older than her we all find hilarious.

#1 Son gets on amazingly with both First and Second, so he was sad at the diminution of expected guests but they had fun.

However. I learned that I cannot trust him to play in his room at the moment.

During the course of the visit, we noticed three separate small marker pen drawings on the hallway wall. They were too well formed to be TT or Third. And Libidia knows her offspring well enough to know their “lying face”


I wish I did!!!!


#1 Son however not only denied it vociferously but blamed his sister. Now, one of these smaller drawings was a traced handprint. And he had the offending marker on his hand and palm. Yet continued to deny and deflect blame.

So we left that for a bit, until at the end of the visit we went to find them. To be greeted with this:

Now, he was not alone in this. First did assist. Libidia offered to help pay for cost of supplies to repaint.

Fortunately this was not required. Though it did take more than two tubs of wipes to clean off:

And it ruined my poor nails:

So, as you can imagine, neither myself nor the hus-creature were enamoured of our eldest yesterday.

And do not worry dear audience, he did not escape unpunished:

  • No allowance for last week.
  • Costs of materials needed to repaint were to be taken out of his savings.
  • No screens for the rest of the day.
  • I confiscated all colouring materials.
  • I made him tidy his room unaided whilst I scrubbed his walls.

He was not impressed. But he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, tell me why he had done it.

So I shot off a quick email to his therapist, enclosing those photos and asked her to talk to him about it – if she deemed it appropriate.

So that was not a good end to the day.

However, look what I finished:

Yes – IT IS THE SOCKS.

The socks of wonder and joy.

My photo shoot got photobombed!

Despite all the trials and tribulations, I love this kid so darn much πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•


*There was much blathering about the existing one being a Mortise Lock and worry about the kids getting the key and similar.

Look, at this point I don’t frigging care – just get us a damn door lock!!!!

**Uh huh – we all believe that.

***No, really I NEED to. I regress to being an over-excited 10-year-old whenever there’s a Jurassic Park film involved (well except Lost World, but that was due to my disappointment with the book) this is one of my all-time favourite franchises and I cannot wait!!!!!

Self striping yarn

I am never one to shy away from a challenge. So, having figured out my warping board, I decided to have a play.

Most people would have started on say:

  • Sock yarn
  • In a superwash base
  • Certainly without silk, alpaca, cashmere etc
  • A simple co-ordinating colourway.

You know, what with it being their first attempt and all…

Would anyone like to have a guess at what I did?

Anyone?

  • Worsted weight.
  • Non superwash
  • 80:20 alpaca silk
  • Teal and a self made orange (1/4 tsp each of Jacquard Cherry Red and Sun Yellow). I think I might have gone too heavy on the red but we shall see.

So yeah, not the usual starter probably. But see, I’m knitting these glorious bed socks in 100% baby alpaca. I’m not going to try and sell my first striping attempt, so why not play on a base I can turn into more comfy bed socks for me?

Sister in law – see what you have inspired.

The skein all dyed up and ready for wrapping and steaming.

Okay so it’s a completely clumsy job, but here it is all wrapped and rolled:

Steaming away quite contentedly:

The rinsing process begins:

And now to the drying:

All I will say is that, though fun, and highly creative (since I can definitely see pretty much endless possibilities here)

I CAN SEE WHY THIS TYPE OF YARN IS EXPENSIVE TO BUY

Not counting drying time (which I can speed with the aid of the gas fire) this single skein has taken over four hours to produce.

Oh and it does this to hands:

I did wear gloves while actively dyeing. I just didn’t for the rinsing of the foam brushes… or the skein…

*hides from Na, her nail tech*

Back to normality

Well mostly. Tomorrow is a half day for #1 Son. I don’t know why. Just because I think.

He also gets Monday off next week because it’s Martin Luther King Day.

But the school system here has much shorter holidays and no “half terms” so I don’t begrudge the random days. It’s part of the reason I’m not rushing the work stuff.

While I still doubt my domestic goddessing skills, it is pleasant being home with the kids. I’m actually watching TT grow, and know I can take credit for her development rather than feeling guilt.

I do miss working, but I’m makes tentative steps to earn some pennies at home – but I’m still blocked by not having an SSN, which I can’t apply for until my permit is actually in my hands. We did however have confirmation today that this is actually in the post now!!!

W00t w00t!!!!

Yesterday #1 Son came home with this:

REACH Star? Wahey πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

“Pirate mask”? 😫😫😫😫😫😫

He did not appreciate the bath and face (and chest) scrubbing he received in a vain attempt to remove them. He believed he was face painting. And apparently we cannot convince him that scented colouring markers are not the same as face paints πŸ™„πŸ™„πŸ™„

Today wasn’t as good. Apparently he refused to leave school (I know right? πŸ™€πŸ™„) so our lovely J went in to get him.

His teacher believes that it is because he loves to play in the snow, but refuses to wear his boots, therefore his socks get wet. We are to provide either snow boots or spare socks.


He is convinced there are “bugs” in his current Wellington boots, and we cannot convince him otherwise.


 

I have been known to complain about the speed of USPS in comparison to good old Royal Mail. This was underlined today, when my Christmas present from my lovely sister in law (you may pick a blog nickname if you like lovely πŸ˜‚πŸ€£) finally arrived.

Worth. The. Wait.

A wonderful alpaca yarn sock knitting kit. With pattern, and new (wooden) needles and pettable, snuggleable alpaca yarn.

I was actually able to sit on the sofa and knit tonight. I am braving the hedgehog that is knitting in the round with double pointed needles to do this.

I think someone was jealous of my pettable yarn – she doesn’t normally sit on my lap like that πŸ€£πŸ˜‚

It knits up so fast too πŸ’•πŸ’•πŸ’•

My other pair of socks has had to be shelved for now until I can replace the circular needle I was using – an unknown child snapped one of the needles πŸ™„


This pair of bloody socks is cursed I swear!


So at least I have a non-shawl project for tomorrow’s knitting class.

And TT? Well she has re-discovered crayons. And walls. Green crayon comes off of painted walls much easier than red or yellow.

Ask me how I know.

Bright side? Yellow is much harder to see at least 😒

Oh, and she found her pretty cloth nappies, which I hadn’t used since we moved, as they arrived by sea crate and I presumed she had outgrown them but couldn’t bear to part with them…

Well, she filled her bed with them, then waved one at me and insisted I put it on her.

Cue much running around the house shouting “Nappy. Yay”

So we will try them again during the day at least – she pees far too much at night!

After all, what else can you do with a sock and trouser refusing toddler?

Dresses and ruffled nappies!

I need a new diaper pail though.

Random acts of yarn kindness

Well sort of.

I haven’t really talked much about one of my main keeping sane hobbies – my fibre arts.

That’s actually because most of my most recent projects (“works in progress” or WIPs) have been gifts or surprises so I haven’t really been able to publicise them.

I’m planning on getting back into the dyeing groove in the New Year (I am desperately awaiting my warping board) so I thought I might do a “Look Back on 2017” sort of thing.

At least for those projects now safely with their recipients.

So these are from a Swapalong. The idea is that we all completed a questionnaire stating what we were prepared to make and what we would be happy to receive and in preferred (and not preferred) colours.

As I can really only make shawls yet out of the stated options, I decided to make them a bit more special and one of a kind (OOAK) by dyeing up the yarn myself.

So in the summer came this:

This was a crocheted special and yes it truly was that big.

In the winter came this:

I chose the purple rather than the multiway.


Note: the pastels were caused by using a protein fibre dyeing method on a 50:50 Merino:Cotton blend – 50% protein and 50% cellulose.


This one is knitted, and I had discovered knitting with beads by this point.

Such fun to do πŸ˜†

As it was smaller than the first, I popped in a skein of the Wonder Woman sock yarn I covet so.

Both giftees seemed very happy.

In parallel to this, I was working on a much bigger project in 80:20 Alpaca:Silk (such gorgeous yarn to both dye and crochet with).

A friend and former colleague was diagnosed with that bastard cancer and I wanted to help, so I decided to make a “you will kick this thing’s backside” blanket.

This is one I am very proud of.

The darn blanket got stuck in customs, but it found it’s way to her in the end.

I’m finally working on something for myself now – I have a yarn advent calendar with an exclusive pattern πŸ˜ƒπŸ‘πŸ»

The (apparent) aftermath

I am unwell today.

I’ve had killer headaches off and on for over a month – a lot of that can most likely be attributed to my untreated hypertension (started my new medication yesterday – I am now on three pills a day πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜‚)

But at 3am this morning I was dragged awake with a screaming head – to the extent I actually woke the poor hus-creature by sobbing.

And I remained awake for at least an hour.

This beautiful creature kept me company though:

I’ve often said we have a dog-cat πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

Sadly kitty-snuggles were not sufficient and at 4am I was calling God on the porcelain telephone.


Note: American toilets are not comfy for doing this if you are used to British plumbing.


Oddly I felt better enough to then snuggle down with my furry companion and my cuddly hot water bottle (that would be the hus-creature) and basically pass out until the alarms went off.

I’ve pretty much been a zombie for the rest of the day though. Just mainlining stodge, carbs, sugar and caffeine to get through.

No it’s not healthy but lord has it helped.

My head is still pounding, and #1 Son has a half day today, but he’s being lovely and TT is also being reasonable.

A little Christmas present from me to me arrived today:

Which has helped.

I am so tired of feeling sick and tired. Endometriosis is a bastard, and all the other conditions can get in the sea as well.

The Thanksgiving Break

It’s taken me a little while to write this as I am missing everyone like crazy so it’s been tough to get things written down.

It was wonderful.

We stayed for three days in the company of family (on the hus-creature’s side) in their stunning guest apartment.

I got to know a number of my lovely in-laws a lot better, which was really something special.

We had the turkey. And the hus-creature and I most generously offered to save everyone from the dreaded dark meat.

Honestly we truly prefer it.

Let me see if I can list the culinary delights:

  • Turkey – of course
  • Mac and cheese (delicious)
  • JalapeΓ±o cheddar corn bread (I need the recipe for this wonder)
  • Sweet potato bourbon maple mash (oh so good)
  • Green beans
  • Gravy
  • Cranberry sauce

Then there was pie. Oh so much pie.

  • Chocolate peanut butter
  • Apple
  • Pumpkin
  • There were two more but I forgot.

Apart from the apple briefly going missing, it was all delicious.

The kids were remarkably well behaved.

TT ate actual food:

#1 Son… did not. But I didn’t really expect that he would.

They had loads of fun outside in the gorgeous grounds of the main house.

TT made daddy take her for a ride in the cart:

There was much happy shouting of “wheee” and “MORE” πŸ’•πŸ’—πŸ’•πŸ’—

#1 Son just ran about a LOT.

There was a brief moment of panic. Do you see the large body of water? There was a moment when Daddy could not find him. He had wandered in to tell me about his “club house” and wandered off again. He meant the guest apartment, which is where he had gone.

Without telling us that he was going there!!!

So no, he had not drowned himself, but we all panicked. He was most confused as to why.

On Friday, almost everyone else took the train to visit New York and do the tour of Lady Liberty.

We opted not to attempt to drag the offspring up 200+ steps. Granddad also decided not to go. So there was brief discussion on how to entertain said childer-beasts, and we decided to go to the nearby aquarium, and leave granddad to rest.

However he decided that he would like to join, which was lovely. However there wasn’t room for five people in our car, lovely though it is.

Therefore, rather than take a Lyft on a very busy day, I selflessly (honestly, see the halo πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡πŸ˜‡) opted to stay behind in the guesthouse with my knitting, tea and leftover turkey.

Totally generous of me wasn’t it? πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

They had a lot of fun:

Right until they found a soft play area. Whereupon #1 Son had a full on meltdown, including trying to escape from granddad, because other children wanted to play with the things he was building an invention out of.

How very dare they πŸ™„πŸ˜πŸ™„πŸ˜

And so the trip was cut short and they all came home.

All in all it was a lovely visit with family with many moments of happy.

The drive home was much less eventful than the trek up, we managed it on a full ‘tank’.

However upon our return we discovered that when, in his haste, the hus-creature had dropped the car charger to the ground before we embarked, it had gone kaput.

Which, in my humble opinion, makes it entirely unfit for purpose. Sadly it is still busted over a week later but the company are working on it. Stand by for that update.

So yes, that was our Thanksgiving Break. Many thanks are extended to Domi et al for putting us up and for inviting us up for Christmas.

We are very much looking forward to it πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜˜

December Madness

Begins.

I’m still working on the Thanksgiving update so stay tuned for that dear audience.

So. Yesterday was December 1st. Therefore Advent Calendars are back in this household.

However this year no edible ones.

Mainly because we think TT is still a bit young for daily chocolate, and she’s old enough to be totally annoyed if her big brother has one when she doesn’t. So we went with fancy toy ones.

But, there are very few options for two year olds.

#1 Son has a Lego one. TT? Well we scoured everywhere and finally found a Paw Patrol one with no tiny pieces. TT still insists on sticking non food items in her mouth!

As for me, normally I have a Hotel Chocolat sharing one, but I didn’t think about it in time and I don’t know if they ship here.

So instead, I treated myself to a Sparkle Yarn advent box from Tinky Dye Yarns. The lovely Maria has been still shipping my clubs to me so this was a lovely addition.

The glorious box:

Dec 01:

It also comes with a bespoke pattern which will soon be on sale on Ravelry from the lovely Julie-Ann Amos and I am happily working my way through it.

I have not yet opened today’s window.

We also went to the Melrose Christmas Lights switch on last night:

There was live music

The children wanted some of the light up plastic tat that they sell. #1 Son got a light sabre, TT a snowflake magic wand.

That wand lasted less than 30 minutes before she whacked it against the stroller hard enough to shatter the snowflake πŸ™„

It’s not like they were $10 apiece or anything….

But the piΓ©ce de resistance of the evening was seeing SANTA.

Yes those are the Melrose High School cheerleaders.

The best bit though?

The kids. Both were so thrilled to see Santa.

I teared up with the happiness. I didn’t expect the sheer delight for both of them.

Mall visits will happen soon.

Today or tomorrow we will buy a tree and new decorations.

Oh, I’m also trying a new nail salon tomorrow as my last set didn’t last two days 😑😑😑

4 months in

Well. I (we) have now been living in the USA for a third of a year πŸ™€

Have I learned anything?

Nothing earth shattering. People are people everywhere. Some suck. Others do not. I still struggle making friends but maybe that’s just how it is.

I’ve invited H up to ours for a coffee on Friday as we will (hopefully) have a sofa arrive tomorrow so I will have somewhere for her to sit comfortably while we natter. And she really seems nice, so perhaps I can manage that? She seemed really happy to accept and has been so friendly.

———-

I’ve drawn a line under the possibility of friendship from the knitting class. I’m looking on it as purely educational with a hint of social, and that’s okay. I’ve done it before.

As the weather is changing and getting colder, I’m going to stick it out until the sock(s) are finished then explore other options towards the spring. I’ve got a (probably irrational) fear of being stuck in an unfamiliar town in the snow with no way to get home.

————

I wrote the above before going to my group tonight. I actually had fun. I am officially still confused as to what the hell is going on though.

It was the start of a new 10-week session tonight and there were a lot of people. Including one lady who hadn’t been there in a while due to being hit by a car. She was bubbly and fun and, when she realised I am British, basically grabbed on to me and asked me to talk to her all night.

I didn’t, but people chuckled and found it charming. I am not trying to work it out anymore.

I got a lift home with the lovely G (the lady who gave me her cell number) and she asked if, when I have my hysterectomy, if I want company for an hour or two for knitting and a cuppa she would be happy to.

She had the op at 31 and for the same reasons, so she “gets” it.

Surely you don’t make that sort of offer if you don’t like the person right? Perhaps I have made a friend?

Oh, and I’ve worked out how to share the Fun Run link:

Turkey Trot weblink: Here

Of Book Fairs and Class Rewards

So tomorrow is the school Book Fair for #1 Son.

As far as I can tell we give him money ($20) and he and his classmates toddle off to somewhere presumably in the school building I can’t imagine they let them out and spend the money on books. Apparently for every dollar spent some additional funds go somewhere that allow the school to purchase additional books for the school library. Which in my opinion is actually pretty epic. Kids don’t seem to enjoy reading quite so much as well I did when I was little but perhaps I am an anomaly.

What me? Odd? Never!!

In addition #1 Son’s kindergarten class have won a class reward which involves wearing their pyjamas to school tomorrow. I was a tad sceptical until I received an email from his class teacher confirming it. It is also apparently National American teddy bear day or some such fiddle-faddle so he can also take in a soft toy of some description for the day. He has chosen Happy.

Who is a plushie snowman gifted to him by my cousin Jenny just before our big trip.

He’s been pretty much inseparable from that snowman since we got on the plane. And he has been named Happy because apparently that “is how he made him feel”.

Nenny you rocked that!

I’m not crying you’re crying.

He also has a “bedtime stories and hot cocoa” evening on Thursday this week from 17:30-19:00 and pjs are the requirement then too so both kiddies will look insanely cute.

On the TT front, she has discovered the joys of the phrase “no, not yet <thing which I want her to do>”

This is me:

She did also spontaneously count from 1-5 tonight and jumped for joy after (I may have been making a huge fuss 🀣)

I’ve also gotten her to accept Moana (which is “BURD” because of that damn crazy chicken)

In addition she will nowΒ occasionally allow one of the Ice Age franchise.

Which is saving my sanity a bit.

As for me, I’m not in the best place mentally today. I’ve attacked my fingers and my scalp a bit. I don’t consciously do it, but it’s not a great stress reaction.

Thinking of going to the doctor after the holiday and seeing if anti-anxiety medication might help. Should probably track my blood pressure a bit first.

I did some knitting though so yay. Need to finish my non sock project.