Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More knitting stuff

As much as I love knitting, I may love the knitting tools even more. I love all the little things that go into my knitting bag. I have two basic modes of knitting. One is sock knitting, which, for whatever reason, I tend to do more of in the summer, and scarf knitting. Both are pretty much mindless; I knit the ubiquitous Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf, which I have memorized by now, and I knit my own basic sock pattern, which I have cobbled together from various patterns that I've tried over the years.

I also occasionally knit other things, like baby sweaters or novelty items, but socks and scarves are the constants. When I'm knitting a scarf or something like that, i.e., larger than a sock, I usually carry around a small tote bag with the knitting and a few tools, i.e., tape measure, crochet hook, stitch markers, etc. I have a Vera Bradley bag that I'm currently using as my knitting/tote bag, it's their Holiday Tote from a couple of years ago.

If I'm knitting socks, I carry a smaller bag, and I like clear vinyl bags because the yarn is so beautiful. I have a couple of small ones that I've purchased at yarn stores, but I kept hoping that Vera Bradley would make one, and they finally (sort of) did. I went to the VP store last weekend to get a coin purse, but when I saw it in person, I didn't really like it, but they did have something new--a Clear Beach Cosmetic.

It's the absolute perfect size for a ball of sock yarn and all of the accouterments. The only thing that would make it better is if it had handles, but other than that, it's pretty perfect. Inside the bag are:

  • Ball of sock yarn
  • Half a sock on five Size 1 bamboo double-pointed needles
  • Extra needles -- I seldom break one, but it can happen, so I have three or four extra ones
  • Scissors
  • Tape measure
  • Yarn needles -- a "chibi," a little plastic tube, with two needles, one plastic and one curved-tip metal one
  • A pill box with stitch markers, a couple of fancy ones that I made and a ton of tiny colored rubber bands that I just love
  • A crochet hook in case I drop a stitch
  • A laminated card with my sock pattern on it
  • One of my business cards, also laminated, in case I leave my bag somewhere
  • A pack of Post-it notes and a pen in case I need to make a note
  • And not absolutely necessary, but handy -- a tube of handcream, a package of tissues, and a spare pair of reading glasses

That pretty much covers all the basics. There are things that would be nice to have, and have occasionally been recommended, like a nail file, and band-aids in case you cut yourself, so you don't bleed all over your yarn, but there is such a thing as going too far, and that's pretty easy for me to do, so I try not to.

Olympic Knitting

I LOVE the Olympics. I always have. I look forward to them every time. I'm not exactly sure why I love it so. I have almost zero interest in sports at any other time of the year.

I've tried to analyze it; I like seeing the different countries, the different customs and scenery, and I enjoy the human interest stories about the athletes, but I think what I love most is the insular nature of it all. I enjoy books set in defined spaces like hotels, airports, resorts. There's just something about it that intrigues me. I think that's a big part of why I love Disney World so much, too.

I hurried home Friday evening so I could see the opening ceremony, and I've been firmly planted on the couch every evening since then, from 7:00 to 10:00. As far as the ceremony, I don't really care all that much for the pageantry, but I love seeing the athletes walk in, and I try to see all of that part.

And I also knit. I settle in on the couch with a fleece blanket and my knitting, and I'm set for the evening. Dinah sticks right by me, either on my lap or beside me on the couch. Or on my lap and under the blanket, which was kind of funny.

I do more knitting during the two weeks of the Olympics than I do any other time of the year, I think because I really watch so little television. In my down time I'm normally reading, and it's hard to knit and read at the same time. But watching television, I feel like I have to be doing something with my hands, so I knit. I finished a sock over the weekend, and started a new one, and I'm about halfway finished with it already. If I keep up this pace I can probably finish a pair before the Olympics are over.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Keeping track

One of the things that I really love--okay, one of my obsessions--is calendars. I love them, and I'm picky about them. When I find one I really like I want to keep getting it every year, but sometimes that causes some anxiety. I used to start getting really anxious when the calendars came out around September each year, wanting to be sure that I could get the ones I wanted.

Then the big bookstores--when there were still big bookstores--would have them for half price or less after the end of the year, so I tried to wait for that, and I was lucky for awhile. Then they got smart and stopped carrying so much inventory, so by the end of the year all they would have would be "History of Shoes" or "Sharks of the World" or The Simpsons.

Bob has gotten me Llewellyn's Witches' Calendar for several years now for Christmas. The last couple of years he hasn't been able to get it locally, so this year he went right to the website and ordered it, and then, of course, he went to Barnes and Noble and they had it. That one hangs next to my desk/sewing machine.

Then we have a calendar in the bedroom, and for several years that has been a Spirit of the Far East calendar. And I bought the "Zen Cat calendar for work last year and really liked it, so I wanted it again for this year. I didn't even try to get them locally, though, I just ordered them from Amazon.

I also ordered my favorite datebook, We'moon Gaia Rhythms for Womyn. I know. "Womyn." But I love it. It's perfect. I think the first time I bought it was in a gift shop in Sarasota, but I've never seen it anywhere else. Since then, I've ordered it from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, wherever it was cheaper. I tried to not buy it this year, but I caved and placed the order on Christmas Day. It looks like they probably won't arrive until after the first, but that's okay. I'll try to not wring my hands too much.

Bob also has a calendar he needs every year, the Trout of North America calendar, and I ordered it for him from Amazon, too. It's an odd size, and fits in his bathroom on the wall between the toilet tank and the shelf above it. Oh, and we always have one in the kitchen, but I don't obsess over that one. If someone gives us one, that's cool, or I'll pick up a cheap one somewhere. We always used to get one from my uncle's service station, which was neat, but he passed away last year, and we don't get that anymore. (I ended up getting Charles Wysocki Cat Tales at Joann on the clearance rack last week.)

Barb got me a mini Japanese Wood Block Prints calendar for Christmas, and that goes by my "writing" chair. So I think we're pretty well set for calendars!

For the past few years I have successfully kept myself from buying Franklin Planners or similar; I love them so much, but I just can't justify them anymore since I keep my calendar on the computer. And they're heavy, and I get tired of carrying them around, but they're useless if I just leave them at work, so I try to resist. The We'Moon one is a compromise. I probably don't really need it, but it's lighter than some, and not too bad to carry around, or at least that's what I tell myself.


I didn't feel like I accomplished a lot this weekend, but I did accomplish some things.

I don't usually do a huge shopping trip all at once, partly because it's too expensive, and partly because I can never really plan, since Bob doesn't work a regular, set schedule.  Some days he goes in at 6:30 a.m. and works until 3:00, some days he goes in at 1:00 and works until 9:30.  So I tend to go to the store a couple of times a week and just buy what I know I need.

Yesterday I asked him what he wanted for dinner (this was a day when he was working until 9:30 at night), and he said hobo dinners.  I had gone out earlier in the day and gotten my nails done and had lunch, then I had come back home and fallen asleep in my chair.  I didn't really want to go back out, but I needed to.  I needed to get potatoes, onions, and ground beef.   I decided I wanted to go someplace different, just to be a little more interesting, so I went to the WalMart grocery store (Neighborhood Market?).  I have been there a couple of times, but I don't usually shop there.  I usually go to Target, occasionally to Price Chopper, and sometimes to Hen House because there's one very close to home.

So anyway, I started walking around, and got the things I needed, then thought, well, as long as I'm here I might as well try to plan some meals.  So I got enough ground beef for the hobo dinners last night, chili tonight, and maybe something Italian tomorrow night, if there isn't enough chili left for chili dogs.

I also got stuff to make vegetable soup, which I did yesterday, and which will be my lunches all week.  I've already portioned it out into individual Rubbermaid containers.  What else . . . I bought peanut butter and jelly, and potato chips and bread, bacon and eggs, lunch meat and cheese, a lot of cans of cat food, and various odds and ends.  It came to almost $100, and filled four reusable bags, which is what it almost always costs anymore--a bag is $25.

I really hated to spend that much all at once, but I shouldn't have to go to the store any more this week unless it's for bread or something like that.  I never plan meals for the week, but this week I could:

Saturday - Hobo dinners
Sunday - Chili and biscuits
Monday - Chili dogs
Tuesday - Italian casserole
Wednesdayt - Ham sandwiches and tortilla chips
Thursday - Grilled cheese sandwiches and potato chips
Friday - Bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast

When I was making the chili tonight, I was opening cans of beans and tomato sauce and tomato paste and whole tomatoes, and breaking up the tomatoes in the pan, and I wondered why I always buy whole tomatoes.  I always do, and it seems like maybe they are better, but I don't know why.  Why not try diced ones, or better yet, crushed ones?  I guess I do it because that's what my mother always got.  But it made me think of that old story about the new bride who made a pot roast and cut off the ends first.  Her husband asked her why she did it that way, and she said that was the way her mother did it.

The next time she saw her mother, she asked why she did that, and her mother said it was because that's the only way she could fit it in the pan!

So maybe the only made  cans of whole tomatoes when my mother made chili.  I don't know.  I guess I'll just keep doing it that way, though.

I also bought a new electric skillet this weekend, because the non-stick coating was coming off the old one, and a cookie sheet, and got prescriptions filled and went to Costco to buy coffee for work.  Just a bunch of normal errands, but kind of a lot of running around.  And I read a couple of books, which is always nice.

Oh, and listed a few things on Etsy.  So yeah, I accomplished some stuff.