Memorial Day Weekend

This coming Monday, in the United States, we take time to remember all the men and women who protected our country and are protecting us now.  My parents and grandparents called it Decoration Day.  A Civil War General, General John Logan, thought it would be a good way to unite our country once again after war.  He decided on May 30th as the day to honor our Veterans because flowers would be in bloom all across America.  In 1971 Memorial Day became a federal holiday, giving us all a three-day weekend.

So whether you are enjoying a family picnic or taking advantage of the great shopping sales or just relaxing on a paid day off, take time to remember those who gave their lives so we could enjoy our freedom.  

I plan on doing a little of everything this weekend.  I am going shopping today, JoAnn’s of course!  And, a few other places too.  After that I will be spending time with family, cooking out, playing games, reading, and of course, working on projects.   Enjoy your weekend!  I will be back here on Tuesday.

Itty-Bitty Toys

Yesterday I wrote about the book Itty-Bitty Nursery by Susan B. Anderson and I mentioned that I didn’t care to add the book to my personal library because I had already made a number of the items in the book and I didn’t feel it had enough new patterns to entice me.

Today, however, is different.  I am absolutely giddy about the book Itty-Bitty Toys by Susan B. Anderson.  This book has the same eye-catching cover with a spiral binding and it also features a section devoted to the basics as does her other book.  The difference lies in the content.  Devoting one book to stuffed toys that are so adorable hooked me. 

From blocks to puppets to stuffed animals to reversible toys and more.  I don’t have one favorite in this book – there are too many to choose from!  I love the hippo, monkey, lamb and little brown dog.  Then again, I love the reversible lion and elephant.  And the giraffe!  Oh, my.  The pictures are bright and colorful, very nicely presented.  The patterns are well written and easy to understand. 

I guess I’ll need to add this book to my wish list!  It is definitely one I want in my library!

Itty-Bitty Nursery

While reserving books from our library inter-loan system I came across two books by Susan B. Anderson and decided to look them over.  Itty-Bitty Nursery caught my eye because of its very eye-catching cover.  A good-looking cover sells books.  Another feature this book has and that all knitter’s and crocheter’s appreciate is a spiral binding.  Nothing is nicer than being able to open a book flat to read the pattern while you stitch.

Inside this book are more attractive photos and easy to read pages.  Many patterns in this book are easy enough for the very novice knitter.  Susan also includes a section on basic skills. 

One pattern that caught my eye, is the grumpy old bear.  A simple brown bear with a scarf.  The bear is pictured on the cover.  Very cute.  One any child would love him. 

Another pattern that was interesting, although I don’t think I would make, are the pacifier clips.  You could make a flower, frog or elephant clip to attach to your baby’s pacifier.  I’m not sure where you would buy the clips.  An interesting and cute idea.

The book has a couple of basic sweaters that you can find similar patterns elsewhere, a very cute cupcake hat that I’ve made many of and which I also found the pattern elsewhere and a very cute knit tea set with cup cakes. 

It was a cute book to look at, but not one I would add to my collection.

7 Months Until Christmas!

Lately I’ve been in a dream world.  I’ve been dreaming about yarn and patterns and projects, mostly for myself.  Now it is time to settle down and decide what I am going to do about Christmas!  I know, Christmas isn’t for another seven months, but I’ve got too many gifts to have completed by then.  I must think about it now.  Last year by this time I was 1/3 rd of the way done.  I haven’t even started on Christmas this year. 

I usually have a theme going so that no one feels like someone else got more than they did.  Not that my family would feel that way.  No, not at all.  LOL.  I think I need to decide what this years theme will be.  It will not be hats and scarves!  Even though I love to make them, I think they are tiring of them and have enough.  So, what to make?  I also cannot make more blankets or afghans, as they are overloaded with them too.  My, and they think I’m bad to buy for!

I’m thinking of the kitchen again this year for everyone but the Grandkids.  I can knit dishcloths and scrubbies, sew pot holders and mitts, then there are placemats, aprons, and more.  Everyone can always use kitchen items – I hope.

The Grandchildren are a little harder.  With such a wide range of ages and interests, it is hard to know what they will like and use.  I’ve got to give that some more thought.  They have enough tote bags and hats and scarves.  They don’t like mittens.  More contemplation is needed. 

Well, I do have seven months, what’s the rush!

The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club

As an avid knitter, I like to find books that revolve around topics that interest me.  I noticed the book The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club book by Gil McNeil at our library and decided to give it a try.  The book was first published in Great Britain as Divas Don’t Knit in 2007 and was then released in 2009 in the United States under the title The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club. 

Gil McNeil writes in an easy flowing chatty way, filled with gossip and light humor.  As an American I find her words and expressions cute and it reminds me that American English is much different from that used in the U.K.

The book revolves around Jo MacKenzie and her two small boys.  Jo is a recent widow who moves her boys from London to the coast and takes over her Grandmother’s Yarn Shop.  Jo renames her Grandmother’s shop to “McKnits”, starts a Stitch and Bitch group for novice knitter’s, and the name of the book is “The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club”.  Although I see why the author decided on all three names, I would have liked to seen more continuity in the book. 

For many, this is the perfect book to read on a gloomy day and will lift your spirits.  I found the book  a little lighter and airier, without a lot of  substance or depth I am used to.  It is, nevertheless, an enjoyable read that I give 3 out of 5 stars, for those of you who like ratings.

Gil McNeil has written a second book in this series, Needles and Pearls, which came out in Britain in 2008 and was released in the US this year.  If you like light, feel good books with some humor added, then you will enjoy The Beach Street Knitting Society and Yarn Club.

Beautiful Weather ♥ Books ~ Burp Cloths ~ Baby Sweaters

A busy week-end and beautiful weather,  I couldn’t ask for more.  I got a chance to sit outside and read.  It is always nice to find a good book and relax in the fresh air.  I’ve started another book.  This one is about a yarn store and a knitting group.  It’s not my usual type of book and I’m not feeling pulled to sit down with it, but I’ll give it a shot.

I managed to get my manicure and pedicure in.  Now I’m ready for sandals and my hands are soft and snag-free for knitting.

The baby sweater is coming along nicely.  I finished one sleeve and I am about halfway along on the second sleeve.  I will be working on it more today as I sit outside.  It is really nice out already this morning.

I also made another trip to JoAnn’s.  I read their flyer wrong and thought that the flannel was half off.  It will be, but not until next week-end for their holiday sale.  I did find a few remnants so the trip wasn’t a total waste.  

The reason I was looking for flannel is that I was asked for a few more burp cloths.  I made up a dozen or so of  them and I’ll be making up a few more so I have some on hand for the next request.  They really are nice to give as a gift. The store-bought ones just don’t compare.  Then again, when does anything store-bought compare to handmade?  I was looking online for a tutorial on making burp cloths to link with the photos, but I can’t find any that are like the ones I make.  Most of what I found online uses store-bought diapers and just dresses them up.  If anyone is interested in making a few and doesn’t know how, I will put together some instructions for you.  Just let me know.

China Bayles Series

Reading is something that I can get engrossed in and lose all track of time.  I hate for a good book to end.  I guess that is why I like it when authors write a series of  books. 

A while back I read all of Susan Wittig Albert’s China Bayles series.  China is an ex-lawyer who moved from the big city and opened an herbal shop.  The books revolve around her and her friends.  The man in her life is an x-cop, University instructor and PI.  I enjoyed every one of her books.  The books should be read in order, as references to past incidents are mentioned in the following books. 

While looking for a book to read now, I realized that Susan had written a few more China Bayles books that I had not read.  Nightshade, #16 in the series, was written in 2008  and was the next book in her series for me to read.  So, after reserving and receiving the book through our library interloan system, I sat down yesterday to enjoy another one of her books.  I was not disappointed. 

Nightshade is the third book within the China Bayles series to revolve around her father’s death.  This book wraps up the mystery behind his death and the people involved.  It was another well written book and I couldn’t put it down. 

As many of you already know, I love the  Stop, You’re Killing Me! site.  You can find any mystery book by author, series, character, occupation, location, genre, and so on.  I find almost all of the books I read on this site.  You can find a list of all the books in the China Bayles series and other books written by Susan Wittig Albert here

I am now waiting to receive books #17 and #18, Wormwood and Holly Blues, of the series.  Enjoy!  I did.

Taking Time for Me

My hands and nails are a mess!  Dry, chapped, in desperate need of a manicure.  My hands once were soft and smooth.  My nails were long, neatly manicured and polished daily to match my outfits.  How did this happen?  How did they get this way? How long has it been since I spent time on myself? It has been a while. Too long.

The more I knit and crochet, the worse my hands and nails get.  Have you ever noticed how hard yarn is on your skin and nails?  We may love yarn, but it sure doesn’t like us.   We hold this precious commodity in our hands, winding it around our fingers, then we continually drag it ever so slowly around and over our hands and fingers.  In time, our precious yarn works like sandpaper rubbing our soft skin rough and chapped.  I’m not sure if it matters much what the fiber content of the yarn is.  Wool, cotton, bamboo, acrylic, or any mix of fibers, they all eventually work against you, making your hands dry and chapped.

We try different hand creams and lotions as a quick fix.  Some work temporarily, easing the itching and tight feelings in your hands.  Other hand creams leave your hands smooth, but are not so nice to your cherished yarn, leaving it stained and/or greasy.  Most of us know that lanolin dries out your skin, while glycerin is good for your skin.  Glycerin is a humectant, which means it is a substance that absorbs or helps retain moisture.  If you talk to other knitter’s, they will all have their own favorite hand lotion or cream and reasons why it is their favorite.  Most knitter’s recommend using lotions containing shea butter, bees-wax and almond butter.  Check the ingredients in the lotions you are using.  Test the different ones and see for yourself which works best for you.  Right now, my hands and nails are past the quick fix of just adding lotion.  I need the full treatment.

I keep thinking I’ll take time for myself.  Tonight, tonight I’ll give myself a manicure.  And, when night comes, I don’t.  I’m either too tired or I forget or I just don’t.  Always procrastinating.  No more!  The time has come to stop putting everything and everyone else ahead of my own needs.  I mean, don’t I need soft, subtle hands and snag free, attractive, freshly polished nails to knit and crochet?  Maybe not all of those things, but I do need snag free nails for sure. 

While I am at it, I might as well do my feet too.  They are a sight not to be seen in public.  Oh my, really, really bad.  A sad, sad sight.  And, all next week we are supposed to be in the upper 80’s.  You know what that means – sandals.   If I’m going to be knitting in public wearing sandals, I’ll need nice looking feet and toes too.

This is my plan and I’m sticking to it!  First, I’ll gather all the supplies needed for both a manicure and a pedicure.  Then I’ll get myself a glass of wine and my book (I don’t want polish on my yarn!) and I’ll sit in my comfortable chair with a warm, relaxing neck wrap.  I’ll soak my feet in a tub filled with a good smelling softening oil.  While my feet are soaking, I’ll be soaking my hands too.  In the end I will be relaxed, well read, and have smooth hands and feet and nicely polished nails.  Join me.  Take some time for yourself.  You are worth it!

Knitter’s and their Pets

Princess Patty Pepper

  

Prunella

 

Fiona

 

Daisy

 

Little Lady Buttercup

 Why is it knitter’s often choose a pet that has similar tastes in hobbies?  You know that can only mean trouble.  I’m talking about cats.  There are so many different companionable pets out there; dogs, birds, fish, reptiles, hamsters, you name them.  But no, knitter’s find themselves with another yarn lover in their home, a cat.   

Why?  Oh why, would we want to have a pet that we know will only cause trouble?  Have we lost that many marbles?  Clearly we knitter’s (and crocheter’s) are not rational thinkers.  That can be the only reason I can think of.   

In our home we have two dogs; a cocker spaniel, Little Lady Buttercup and a pug, Princess Patty Pepper.  Both are sweet, loving pets that provide us with all entertainment and love we could ever need or want.  They love to be petted and played with.  They follow you around the house and bark when someone comes in the yard.  They love to go for walks and rides in the car.  They love to cuddle with you while you are sitting and sleep on your bed at night.  Isn’t that enough? I would think so.    

But no, we have to add not one, not two, but three cats to the mix!  Yes, I said three.  Mind you, I did not go out looking to add more pets to our tribe.  I did not want any pets in this house to begin with!  But, just like kids and grandkids, they multiply.    

Daisy was first to come live with us.  She is a fat persnickety calico who has a mind of her own.  We adopted her as a kitten.  She lived outside – a homeless stray.  Who could say no?   Now she is fat and sassy.  She will let you touch her when she feels like it and only then.  She hates to be picked up.  If you have people over she is nowhere to be found.  But when she feels like it, she is as loving as can be.  She pushes herself onto your lap and won’t get down for anything.  Her favorite place to sit is on the chair at my sewing machine.  If I try to move her off she cries out loudly telling me to forget it.  I push her off, she jumps back up.  We keep this up until I give up and have to share the chair with her by sitting on the edge of the seat.  Who said she isn’t spoiled!   

Next came Prunella, an all black skinny cat.  Prunella adopted us.  It was a cold winter and she was a very tiny kitten.  She must have known we were suckers because one day she walked into our home right along with the dogs and never left.  She and the pug are best friends.  They are always together.  They wrestle and play and sleep curled up together.  Pru is my favorite and I think she knows it.  She still likes to go outside and sometimes she is away overnight, but she always comes home.  She loves to bring back presents for us.  There have been a various assortment of gifts – mice, birds, and rabbits.   She gets upset when we won’t let her bring her finds into the house.    

Along came Fiona, a beautiful striped tabby.  She is Pru’s baby.  A kitten had kittens.  You never know what you’ll get when you adopt.  We now have all of the animals fixed.  No more babies.  Fio has won my heart, but she is also the trouble maker of the bunch.  Fio can smell chap stick a mile away.  Leave it anywhere and she will find it and take it.  I’d love to see her stash.  She also is a yarn thief.  I think she takes it just to annoy me. I’ve had to put all my yarn in plastic bins because any skeins left out are fair game for her.  If I leave my skeins downstairs, she brings them up. If I’m working upstairs, she takes the yarn downstairs.  I think I have all the yarn put away and she manages to find them.  She even takes the tomato pin holder off my sewing table.  Not only do we have to baby proof our home, we now have to Fiona proof it.  How can such a sweet innocent little baby be so much trouble.  She has earned the nick-name “little shit” and wears it proudly.   

Even though all of the animals are so different in personalities they all get along.  They play, sleep and eat together.  They also fight over who is going to sit with me while I’m knitting.  Pepper pushes her way up to get as close to me as she can.  Then I will end up with Pru and Fio a little further down.  Lady sits on my feet or as close to the chair as she can get.  All the while I am still trying to knit.  Daisy is a loner.  She likes to sit with me when the others are not around.    

It sure would be easier to knit without my helpers, but not near as interesting.  I guess I’ll keep them.  But, please don’t send anymore my way!  I’ve got enough.  

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Handknit Holidays

While I was checking out books at the library I came across Melanie Falick’s Handknit Holidays, so I decided to add it to my pile.  I’m glad I did.  It has an interesting variety of patterns from scarves and gloves to beadwork, kids sweaters and more. 

I particularly like the Cardinal Joy Hoodie.  It is a childs hooded sweater with a front pouch pocket.  Very cute and could be for a boy or girl depending on the color of the yarn.  I’m not sure what the actual size is.  The pattern is for chest measurements from 25 to 32 inches. 

I also like the Holly Leg WarmersThey are shown in DK wool and done on size US 5 & 6 needles.  There is a simple fair isle chart.  I’m thinking what a great Christmas gift for my girls.

The River Forest Gansey sweater is beautiful.  The pattern is for both child and adult.  They show it on both a man and boy.  If I didn’t have so many men and boys to knit for, I would love to knit one up.  It uses a tree of life motif and basketweave stitch.  Just gorgeous!

The book has many fun patterns that I wouldn’t look twice at, but then again someone might like them.  Although it is a nice book for a couple of patterns, I am glad I was able to get it through the library.  It is not one I would add to my own collection of books.