Saturday, November 24, 2012 1 comments

Eagle Pictures from Our Backyard

Do you love eagles? My husband certainly does! We were all thrilled to see a bald eagle fly into our backyard yesterday to feast on the Thanksgiving turkey carcass along with the turkey buzzards. I thought I'd share some pictures.

 Coming in for a landing - He sat further back in the field for a little while, probably trying to make sure everything was safe.

Looking right at us - We tried to be very still so we wouldn't disturb him. They have terrific eyesight, and I suspect he would have seen our motion through the window.

Defending his rights to this portion of the turkey carcass - apparently the buzzards were getting too close for his liking

I wish we could have heard him!

He's coming closer ...

We've had a variety of animals eating at our "slop pile" in the past (skunks, neighborhood dogs, foxes), but an eagle is more than we could have hoped for! 
Look at that - he's standing right in our yard! For those of you familiar with our backyard, this is amazing!

We must have watched him for at least 15 minutes.

See the turkey bone in his mouth?

Something spooked him, and he flew off suddenly. It was amazing to watch.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures!
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 3 comments

The best-laid plans ...

... are often interrupted. I have lots of knitting projects to share, but I managed to break my toe last Saturday. That has complicated a few things, and it's not so easy to get around and take pictures at the angle I usually take them (i.e. on the floor).

I'm getting around quite well, though, so I expect to have pictures taken before too long. But don't worry about me if I'm missing for a few days. I'm not sick or dying! :)

On another note, I have most of my Christmas gifts assembled and/or wrapped. (That's what I was doing when I cracked my toe off the caster on my computer chair.) We collect gifts throughout the year as we find good deals, and I tend to make things throughout the year, too. It feels really good to have this much done already!

I'll try to get pictures of some of those gifts to share, too, in case anyone needs some inspiration. I've done a lot of collection-style gifts this year. I'd call them basket-style, but I'm not using baskets. Basically, I've collected a few gifts in a certain theme and/or color, and I tried to package them attractively.

I'm trying to be more organized this Christmas. In addition to the gifts mostly wrapped, I made a list of all the Christmas treats I want to bake this year. Then I collected my recipes and wrote down all the extra ingredients I'll need to make them. I expected a huge list (my baking list is pretty long), but I have a lot of it on hand already as pantry staples. I'll buy the rest of the ingredients over the next few weeks with leftover grocery money.

You may be wondering how on earth we do all of this and still homeschool. Well, for the last few years, I've planned the entire month of December to be a break from schoolwork. Between visiting out-of-state relatives, all the extra activities that December brings, and actually celebrating Christmas, there aren't many days left to do schoolwork. Besides, Christmas is my favorite time of year, and I want to enjoy it! We make up for this by starting earlier in the year and taking fewer days for holidays like Thanksgiving. Although we don't have to count days for homeschooling in my state, we do end up doing the same number of days as anyone else since our curriculum runs for the same number of weeks.

Well, that's about it for now. I'd love to know how your Christmas preparations are coming!

P.S. In case you think we've skipped Thanksgiving this year, we haven't. We're doing a full traditional meal and including a lonely woman from our congregation in our festivities. I have everything purchased and ready to go, so I'm looking ahead to planning the next major holiday ... but we will take time to be thankful this Thursday!
Wednesday, November 14, 2012 1 comments

La Newborn Layette Set

I just realized that, although my daughter got this doll for her birthday last month, I never shared the clothes I made for it.

We got her the 14” La Newborn doll (Wal-Mart/Berenguer/La Baby) from Wal-Mart. There's a story behind this doll. You see, I had seen a little girl carrying one around in Wal-Mart while I was shopping by myself one day. I wanted so badly to ask her where she got the doll, but I don't like strangers talking to my kids, so I wouldn't do it to someone else's. A week or so later, I walked through the toy department looking for something else and found this doll. I was so excited!

I can't say enough good things about this doll. She is so realistically newborn that I would want to buy one even if I didn't have a daughter! If I end up senile as an old woman, I hope my daughter still has this doll so I can have an excuse to carry it around with me everywhere. :)

The only downside to the doll is that she's a bit hard to dress. She's all  curled up, just like a real newborn. I did find the trick, though - you have to rotate one of her arms behind her head to get this sweater on. I would never, ever do that with a real baby, but you do what you have to with dolls, right?

I used a gorgeous free pattern from a very talented lady: Premature Baby Cardigan, Hat and Bootees Set by Claire Topping. If you knit and have a daughter with dolls, you owe it to yourself to visit her site: Baby & Doll Handknit Designs. You'll want to make everything on the site. You've been warned!

I made this in the 3-5 lb size. I hate seaming, so I made the sweater and hat seamless. It took a bit of thought, charting, and rewriting instructions, but it was totally worth it.
Monday, November 12, 2012 1 comments

Charybdis Socks for Me: After-Thought Heels

I recently had the opportunity to try out a great sock pattern with after-thought heels. It's called Charybdis Socks, and it's very reasonably-priced. (ETA: The sales from her patterns are helping to pay off college debt for her son.)

Since I had never done these kind of heels before, I was anxious to try them. These socks are very comfortable! They would be perfect first-time socks, too, since there is no wrap-and-turn or anything else that’s exclusive to knitting socks.

I only wear anklets, so I modified the pattern accordingly:
  • 1-1/2” top ribbing
  • Knit 4 rows before “dividing” for the heel.
  • Continue in pattern until it measures 6” from the heel (the sts that will be the heel), then begin decreasing for the toes. (I wear a US size 6-1/2 to 7 shoe, depending on the manufacturer.)

I got to the end of the first sock and was within a few yards of the same color that I started the first one with, so I decided to go back to do the heels when both main sock pieces were finished. I’ve never been able to make completely matching socks with self-striping yarn before. The bonus: I only needed one 50-gram ball of sock yarn for these. Yeah!!

The heels don’t match exactly, but nobody sees those when they’re on. If that bothers you, you can always make the heels in another contrasting/coordinating solid color.
Friday, November 9, 2012 1 comments

Camo Socks for the Bitty Twins

I had just a little bit of this camo yarn left for my daughter's dolls and decided to make them some socks.

I used a free preemie pattern (Chandler's Preemie Socks) and tweaked it a bit.

I did the 10 rows of ribbing, but I didn’t need a fold-over cuff, so I went straight to the heel. It’s a good thing, too, because I wouldn’t have had nearly enough yarn otherwise.

I would have used the heel suggested in the pattern in order to try something different, but I just don’t “get it”. (I frogged the first sock at least three times.) I did my tried-and-true regular heel flap and got no holes (as usual), so I didn’t see the point in making it confusing to avoid holes I didn’t get anyway.

I started decreasing for the toe on row 13 (assuming you don’t start re-counting rows until after all the decreases are finished on the gusset).
 They are really cute, and I achieved my objective of using up the yarn. There were about 8” of yarn left, and I gave myself permission to throw it away. :)
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 1 comments

Christmas Socks for My Son

My son has watched me knit socks for charity and myself quite a bit lately and finally asked for his own pair. Who can resist an almost-9-year-old boy that asks for handknit socks?? I decided to make him a pair for his stocking at Christmas.

He doesn’t like the traditional store-bought white socks because he says they aren’t tight enough around his legs, so I made these in 2x2 ribbing to ensure that they hug his leg well.

He specifically requested red and blue socks, but this was the closest I could find locally. In the store, the grey looked almost bluish, but it doesn’t so much now that the socks are finished.

I didn't follow a particular pattern, just basic sock construction for his size leg and foot. In case this helps anyone else, here are the specifics ...

This sock was designed with:
  • 5" cuff/leg 
  • 7" foot circumference at the widest point,
  • 7" long foot
I used Patons Kroy Socks Ragg Shades yarn (4-ply, colorway #55048) with size 3 double-pointed needles, working top-cuff-down.

CO 48 sts.

K2P2 ribbing for 5”.

Make heel. (I used Fleegle’s heel for the first time.)

Continue ribbing on sock top, stockinette on bottom until sock measures 6” from the back of the heel.

Decrease for toes (decrease 1 row, knit the next for 10 rows total, then decrease each row for 4 more rows).

Graft ends using kitchener stitch.
Monday, November 5, 2012 2 comments

Pink & Black Ruffled Fingerless Gloves

I found the prettiest fingerless gloves on Ravelry, and the pattern is free! It's called Belle Ruffle Gloves.

I love this color combination, and I plan to make them as gifts in a few other color combinations, too.

See? It fits my hand/arm perfectly! I finished one in about an hour, so it's not nearly as difficult as it looks.
Friday, November 2, 2012 1 comments

Brown Bitty Pants

These pants were an experiment, which (hopefully) explains the strange color. I wanted to try out a pattern designed as leggings for AG dolls, but I didn't want them to be "skinny jeans".

I used the free pattern Chinese Woollies and made the following modifications:

  • I didn’t do any of the leg decreases after the gusset.
  • I knit the legs to 5” (inner leg measurement), then did a purl row and 6 more stockinette rows to be hand-sewn down afterward. This creates a more traditional-looking pants hem, instead of it hugging the ankle with ribbing.
I like the fit, so I'll probably be making more in the future.