Six Geese A-Laying

On the sixth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

And me? Well, I remembered there once was a cardigan that I must have! My Must Have Cardigan is lacking two arms that I just may be able to make some progress on in the remaining six days of working on UFO's for the Twelve Days of Christmas.


Five Golden Rings

On the fifth day of Christmas
my true love sent to me,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.
And I had an itching to knit on my Inishmaan sweater! This is the Alice Starmore sweater I am working on for the Mara KAL. As you may recall, I am focusing on UFO's throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas and trying to get them finished up so I can enter 2009 unburdened by lingering projects.
There is no possible way I can finish this sweater during the Twelve Days of Christmas however, I can get the front finished which was my December goal. This sweater is supposed to be completed for the knitalong by mid-February.


The MUM Organizes Her Mind

With the hustle and bustle of Christmas behind me and the New Year before me, I've had time to slow down, take my thoughts captive and ponder the year. "Taking your thoughts captive", have you ever contemplated that? This is something I continually tell myself and encourage others to do. Have you ever considered that, by changing a negative thought into a positive one, you can get a whole new perspective about your life and your surroundings? It has taken me a lifetime to learn this and I continue to grow in this area. It's been a hard journey since I tend to over analyze things and look at the cup as half-empty instead of half-full.

My plan is to have a more organized life in 2009 and the first step in doing so is to organize my thoughts and clear some mental clutter. I know that 'clutter', whether it is physical or mental, tends to drain my energy and make me feel overwhelmed. When I am feeling overwhelmed then I start to think I cannot possibly accomplish the things I need to get done and that results in the "P" word - procrastination.

This Weeks Goals

Get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night.
A little tough while my nurse-daughter is living with us because she works the night shift and wants me to stay up late with her on her nights off.....REALLY late.
Start my day by jotting down a reasonable To Do list.
The key word here is 'reasonable' since I have a tendency to set lofty goals, far more than one can get done in a day.....that is, and still knit!

Start writing in my journal again.
I love reading my old journals but I have been far too sporadic in my writing through the years. This is something I highly regret. This year I will write
but not feel pressure to write in it every day.
Have daily quiet times of meditation and prayer.
I don't have a struggle scheduling quiet times to read and study my Bible because I find great comfort and guidance in it. However, this year I would like to spend more time meditating and praying which requires that I don't let the pressing duties of life cut this short.
Schedule time to exercise.
This has been very difficult lately since I have a recurring ankle injury. I need ideas on how to continue exercising in a non-aerobic way, perhaps yoga. And
, I know I need to do some weight bearing exercises for my bones.
Schedule time for just "me".
Of course, since I do not work outside my home and since my children are grown, I have more free time than most do but I would like to start going to
my LYS to knit with other knitters and develop some knitting friendships.
Eliminate energy drainers in my life.
Clutter control! Unfinished knitting projects! Unfinished scrapbooks!

Take control of my time.
And I when I seize control of my time I would also like to be a good steward of it. I will set goals and then break them into doable daily To Do's.

I've been contemplating ways to cut back on the amount of negative information and images that I let come into my mind. One avenue that has worked for me in the past is to be selective about television, movies and books. Have you ever read a book and certain characters in the book reminded you of someone you knew? Then, before you knew it felt angry towards the real-life person? Or, have you watched a violent movie and then went to bed with fear in your heart or had a nightmare? But another way I can limit negative influence is through the internet. Something I've noticed recently is that there are many blogs out there filled with complaints, gripes, profanity and other negative information. Now, I know we have the privilege of free speech to express ourselves, and I respect that, but I have decided that reading these blogs is not necessarily healthy for me. As I've read them, I've often thought of something Dale Carnegie once said, 'If you want to gather honey, don't kick over the beehive'.

Unfortunately, I've kicked over a few beehives this year. The consequences have been ones of growth for me and, even more fortunately, the beehives have been kicked over on people who love me and are willing to work through conflicts. I'm resolving to be more positive this year and less critical in the lives of all those I know.

Criticism is futile because it puts a man on the defensive and only makes him want to justify himself all the more. Have you ever noticed that? It is also dangerous because it wounds and arouses resentment. I don't know why it has taken me so many years to figure this out and, this year was the one that finally brought it home to me, again. Seriously, how many years does it take one to learn a lesson?
Buzzzzzzzzz......beehives.........resolving to have a positive influence on your lives in 2009!

Four Calling Birds

On the fourth day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

And I remembered a pair of LIZZY SOCKS I started for a family member because the pattern reminded me of her. I've lost motivation to work on them but maybe using some bright fuschia double point needles will make it a bit more fun. If not, these may end up in the frog pond because I'm really not enjoying the Wildfoote Yarn.


Three French Hens

On the third day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me Three French hens,
Two turtle doves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

however, I wasn't thinking of French Hens but Cat Mittens.................

The verdict is still out on these. They may be frogged on December 6th because they are a wee small. The pattern is fun but I think it may work better with a sportweight yarn instead of a fingering weight yarn, we'll see.


Two Turtle Doves

On the second day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me Two turtle doves,

And a partridge in a pear tree..............

And I remembered that I once was very excited about watching the clues unfurl for the Socktoberfest Mystery Sock and somehow got distracted from finishing that second sock! I'm picking it up once again on the second day of the Twelve Days of Christmas..........


A Partridge in a Pear Tree

On the first day of Christmas,

my true love sent to me

A partridge in a pear tree......

And while he was doing that, I resumed knitting the MAD WEAVE SOCKS with the yummy Lorna Laces sportweight yarn.

12 days to work on unfinshed projects!



The Twelve Days of Christmas

I have almost finished my Christmas knitting. I'm down to one extremely large sock for my husband's extremely large foot and when I finish it I will be done, done, done!

There has been little time for knitting the languishing projects on my needles that I promised myself would be done-or-frogged by December 31st. When I saw the Twelve Days of Christmas KAL on the UFO Ravelry group I immediately decided to give myself a grace period for finishing those unfinished projects. I joined immediately.

Starting December 26th and the eleven days thereafter, you are to focus on unfinished projects and not cast on anything new. Twelve days of getting those needles free so that we can enter 2009 afresh! Perfect! Can you envision how wonderful that will be? Come join me! It is only twelve days of focused knitting...........


Knitting Technique: Chain Selvedges

The Noro Scarf is finished and somewhere along the way I learned a new way of knitting a chain selvedge. When I first started knitting this scarf I was not pleased with the way the selvedge was coming out. Neither side was uniform. It looked a bit wonky.
So, I set out to ask everyone I saw knitting the scarf if they were having similar problems and received several different suggestions. Then, I went to the Brooklyntwed Ravelry group and read several other opinions about the wonky selvedge edges. Wondering why so many people had varying techniques to achieve the same result of a uniform selvedge edge, I pulled out my trusty knitting reference books. I read everything I could find on chain selvedges.

In these books I learned that there are several ways of obtaining the same result. The one that worked like a charm for me was the following method:
  • Right-side rows: slip knitwise first and last stitches
  • Wrong-side rows: purl first and last stitches.

I block my scarves by putting them in a zippered sock bag and washing them in cold water on the delicate cycle of my washing machine. If I have Eucalin around, I use it but if I don't have any I use Woolite. Then I put my puzzle foam pieces together for the length I need (I love these things) and pin them to the shape and length I want.

Both scarves are for my newlyweds and are on their way to Tennessee. By the way, the second scarf is the Yarn Harlot's One Row Scarf made with Malabrigo yarn. It is for my daughter. The Noro scarf is for my new son-in-law. And while I'm giving you all the pertinent facts I might as well tell you that my very favorite needles for knitting scarves are the 9" Takumi needles by Clover. I have sizes ranging from US 5-9 and they rest in a jar that one of my daughters decorated when she was a little girl, priceless to me now.


Holiday Baking

My mouth has been watering this week as I've read many of your blogs about your holiday baking. I've copied down a few of your recipes for my own baking.

This week I got a very well known catalog in my mailbox that I suspect a few of you also received. You may recognize this cover. I'm not telling you which one it is but,..................would any of you knitting bakers out there have a recipe similar to this one? If you don't, I'm heading down the mountain to stock up on a few tins of this delicious peppermint bark.

An Elf Makes An Elfin Scarf

Like many of you, I have been a busy little elf knitting Christmas presents. It doesn't look like I'm going to make the deadline on a few of them having not factored into the knitting-timeline-equation that most presents have to be mailed this year. How many Christmas Eves have you stayed up late trying to finish that one special gift? Guess I won't this year. Guess someone will get a post-Christmas package or two. Bummer. But, I did finish my mom's Elfin Scarf late last night and will share it with you (Merry Christmas, Mom!).

My mom? She loves anything that I make for her just because I took the time to make it with her in mind. You know how moms are! How many things have you hung on your tree this year that your kids made for you that are rather silly looking? You treasure those items forever just because your kid made it for you with you in mind, right? There is quite a bit of love that goes into something made with ones hands and there are memories you have of the recipient knit into each stitch. Wouldn't you agree?

This Elfin Scarf combined with the Elfin Hat are a perfect hat/scarf combo but mom doesn't do hats, unless she is skiing. I would consider this pattern more of a muffler than a scarf although I'm not sure that word is used anymore. The scarf is only 42" long and is perfect for those who don't necessarily want to mess with a scarf but do want to have a warm neck.
I used Malabrigo which made it ohhhhhh.....so soft! I want one for myself and will most definitely be knitting and Elfin Scarf for myself in 2009. Another great thing about this pattern is that it is reversable and both sides look pretty much the same (if you don't look too close). I think the stitch pattern resembles crochet. For those interested, the pattern can be found in the Fall 2007 Interweave Knit magazine.

This elf must get back to some more Christmas knitting, baking and decorating. Did you notice in one of the pictures that my tree is up but has nothing on it?


How Does My Garden Grow?

Mary, Mary quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Do you remember that nursery rhyme? I have a garden, too. My garden is a Noro Silk Garden and it is growing. When I knit my husband the Noro Striped Scarf last year for Christmas, I KNEW I would be knitting it again. For who? For me! I spent the summer combing the internet to locate the exact colors that Jared used in his infamous Noro Striped Scarf. I found the most obscure skein from a Raveler and made her an offer she couldn't refuse and she accepted it.

Although Jared says he holds no claim to designing this scarf, he most certainly has influenced its massive production. As I write this post it is the second most popular scarf on Ravelry. There are 2,390 projects in 2,519 queues!

Why is this scarf so popular? Why does it mesmerize so many knitters? I think partly due to a rapture of colors. The subtle color transitions in the Noro Silk Garden are spectacular. When you alternate two different dye lots in this simple ribbed scarf you find that you are addicted to watching the mystery colors unroll. The yarn itself is wonderful. Silk Garden is an Aran 10-ply silk, mohair, wool blend and is ever so soft.

My Noro Scarf is restricted knitting designated to be knit only as I read through blogs. Up until I started this project my blog reading had suffered serious decline. But now you will find me lurking around YOUR blog and checking Bloglines more frequently to see if anyone has posted.

So, how long will my Noro Striped Scarf be? Well that, my friend, depends on how frequently YOU post on your blog.


My Shepherd

I am speaking at a ladies' Christmas church function on Saturday and my topic is 'Why a Shepherd?'

I've been spending lots of time this week researching sheep and shepherding. I've selected special music to accompany the devotion and happened upon this beautiful song by Michael Card, one of my favorite musicians. I wanted to share it with you although I know many of you do not share my faith. For those who do, I hope you enjoy it!


Personal Sock Club 2009

This morning I read about the Ravelry Stash Knit Down 2009 group on Theresa's blog. The plan this year is to knit 100 balls of yarn. I did a quick calculation in my mind of all the upcoming projects I have planned and realized that this is a goal within my grasp. So, I hopped on over to Ravelry and saw some great sub-groups to cheer this endeavor on.

The Personal Sock Club 2009 really grabbed my attention because I have way too much sock yarn that has been accumulating through the years and far too many patterns that I have longed to knit. Unfortunately, those patterns never get attention because I've been focusing on whatever challenge Socknitters Anonymous has going on for each month. This has left me with little time to knit the patterns that I have bookmarked.

Now, don't get me wrong - Socknitters Anonymous has exposed me to several designers that I would not have known about had I not been participating. But the negative side of that exposure is that the designers I love get no attention at all from my pointy sticks.

The idea behind the Personal Sock Club is that you package up in a brown paper bag a sock pattern with accompanying yarn and staple the top. You do this for each month of the year and then select a 'mystery bag' each month. I like this idea. You KNOW you will like the sock and you are knitting down that massive stash!

I spent the morning combing through patterns I have printed off and sock books and came up with fourteen pairs of socks that I MUST knit this year. Then I picked stash yarn for each pattern and packaged them all up together. Thirty-two balls of yarn all in brown bags ready to go for 2009! I am going to call this Brown Bag Mystery Socks. Mix them up! I'm ready to go come January 1, 2009.

Now I'm off to figure out the other sixty-eight balls of yarn. Which ones will make the cut?