Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

This week's prompt is to list 10 Places I Hang Out.  I'm afraid this is going to be a very boring list because I am a home body and I live in a small town that doesn't have coffee shops, or theaters.  In fact I live in a town that literally does not even have a stop light.  But my favorite place to hang out is right here.....
1. On my waterfront.  Bow Lake is one of the best kept secrets in NH and I can't believe how lucky I am that I get to live here :-)
2. On my deck, overlooking this same view, but in comfier deck furniture.
3. In my living room. Call me Sheldon, but I have my spot and nobody else ever considers sitting there. Except my dad when he's visiting and he's the only one who gets to enjoy it besides me.
4.  In the boat, cruising the lake or watching my family have fun behind it.
5. On the back of our Harley because that means Tom and I are off on an adventure together.
6. On Ravelry plotting my next project.
7.  On Facebook catching up with friends or playing Candy Crush.
8.  At Cooper Hill, our local pub/pizza parlor.
9.  In the kitchen because it really is the heart of my home and I love to cook.
10.  My Laundry Room because nobody really bothers me in there! :-)

Do you have a favorite place to hang out?  I'd love to hear about it!

Monday, November 16, 2015


As I was enjoying a cup of tea this morning, I started thinking about what I would write about today and realized that I completely forgot to post yesterday. Sometimes I think I am just a dingbat! Oh well, that can only mean that I was too busy having fun :-)

Saturday was a day of College Football. I love college ball and as I may have mentioned a few times, my boys have gone to spectacular football schools. This weekend's dilemma was that Alabama and Clemson were playing at the same time. Bama boy is living at home and wanted to watch the game live, so we did that and recorded the Clemson game to enjoy afterward. What the heck was going on with football this weekend?!? Mississippi State gave Bama a real run for the money, but in the end Alabama won the game. The score did not reflect how well MSU played.

I decided to start a new project to work on during the game. I cast on this cowl and 3:15pm and wove in the ends at 6pm!
This is the White Cloud Cowl and I used Malabrigo Rasta in Stitch Red.  It used the entire skein with literally inches left over.  It's a perfect quick knit and I'm going to keep this in my back pocket for when I need a quick gift idea!
The Clemson game was even more crazy than the Alabama game!  There was a lot of back and forth and lots of scoring on both sides.  I made a lot of progress on my Wenceslas sweater during that game but I haven't taken any pictures of my progress recently.

Sunday I got together with the Boston Custom Fit Knitters group.  They are a fun group of ladies and I really enjoy their company.  I sat next to Rachel who is a speedy knitter.  There was some teasing that we couldn't believe she wasn't ready to bind that sweater off yet.  After all, she had already separated the sleeves before she got there.  And then the comment was made, the one that will have me giggling for days.
"You could bind that off now.  Everybody need a worsted weight tube top."  That just struck me as so funny.  Can't you picture it?  Maybe it's time for tube tops to make a comeback! :-)

Then I finished off the weekend with dinner at my in-laws watching the Patriots game.  What an exciting ending to that game!  I admit that even though I am happy the Pats won, I felt a little bad for Eli Manning.  He truly played a great game.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go do errands, and stop by Dunkin Donuts for my free coffee.  Thank you Patriots!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Prayers for France

I know I'm not alone in feeling heart-broken and helpless for the people of France today.  I have been contemplating whether I would, or should, write a post about my feelings, including anger, today, and have just not been sure.  Then I turned on my computer and signed onto Facebook and saw a link to this article.


I think this says it all without uttering a single word.  Imagine.


Friday, November 13, 2015

FO Friday

Christmas is coming and I have already started my Christmas knitting! I've never started this early before so I'm hoping that I will get everything knit that I hope to for gifts this year. The Mall must be avoided at all costs!
This is a hat for my son.  I'm pretty confident that I'm safe sharing it here because I really don't think he reads my blog.  And if he does...... Well, he knows I bought this very special yarn and that it hasn't yet appeared as something wearable for him, so I think he'll be happy.  Worst case scenario is that he gets it early :-)

The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Bulky and the color is Crimson Pride.  The yarn is special because this is a color that Lorna's Laces dyes exclusively for Serendipity Needleworks in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Tuscaloosa is the home of The University of Alabama and my son is a proud graduate and former member of the Crimson Tide Waterski Team.  I bought this yarn while in Tuscaloosa for his graduation in May 2014.  I was just waiting to stumble upon the right pattern for it.  This pattern is Man Hat.  It was an easy knit.  The hardest part was finding time to work on it while he was at work :-)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Confessions of a Yarn-a-holic

Hello, my name is Dianne and I'm a yarn-a-holic. It's been 50 hours since I last purchased yarn and today I was considering buying more.  I may need help.  Or more hours in the day in which to knit.

Seriously, I have had a substantial influx of yarn over the last 6 weeks.  I was somewhat prepared for it and even planning for a reasonable part of it.

For example, I'm in two sock clubs, so I was expecting my club shipments from the Rockin Sock Club for September
and the Cookie A Sock Club for October.
They're both beautiful and will make stunning socks.

I attended the Make Wear Love Retreat with Amy Herzog October 1-4th.  It's a sweater knitting retreat with vendors, so I expecting to purchase a couple sweater quantities of yarn, like this Eden Cottage Bowland DK.  I'm not sure yet what I'm going to make with this, but I loved the feel of it and the color.  My LYS doesn't carry this line so I knew that I may not have another opportunity to see this in person and pick a color that really spoke to me.  So I bought it.
One of the classes I took at the retreat was dyeing a sweater quantity of yarn with Kim of Indigodragonfly.  It was a phenomenal class and now I really want to go to her Dye Camp!  I chose her MCN fingering for this class and dyed this...
I named it Sebasco Harbor in homage to the beautiful seaside setting where I dyed it.  So that's 7 skeins of fingering yarn which is 2800 yds.  I'm not sure what I was thinking when I ordered that much yarn to dye.  Perhaps I was thinking of a shawl collar cardigan that is cabled over every square inch?  Or perhaps I just couldn't do simple math that day.  Fortunately I am in LOVE with this color  and will be happy to make a couple projects with it.

Amy also always releases 3 new designs at her retreats featuring yarns from the vendors at the retreat. My favorite design from this year is Parker Head featuring The Woolen Rabbit's Emma.  As always, The Woolen Rabbit booth was swamped and by the time I could get in it, Kim was sold out of the few colors that I really loved.  But I really wanted to make this sweater with this yarn, so as soon as I got home I placed an online order for some Emma in the color Through the Looking Glass.
It's even more beautiful in person and it absolutely glorious to knit with!

On the way to the retreat I met up with my friend, and fellow retreater Laura, at KnitWit in Portland.  It's become a tradition for us over the years to do this.  It's a really quaint store with some great yarns so I always enjoy stopping in there when I'm in Portland.

I fell in love with the Coastal Gradient Cowl that they had on display and bought this gradient kit and base color of Lillian by Dirty Water Dye Works to make my own.
They are also one of the few stores around that carries Quince and Co yarns.  I've heard so many great things about their yarns from my knitting friends around the  country that I had decided I wanted to get a sweater quantity of one of their yarns.  I chose Lark in this all-purpose silvery gray.  My thought is that I'm going to make a v-neck pullover with a cable on the front that I can split and continue up the sides of the neck opening, utilizing what I learned in Fiona Ellis' class.
No trip up the coast of Maine is complete without a stop at Halcyon Yarns in Bath.  I was very restrained there and only purchased this one skein of Peace Fleece that I have already used to make a hat for my father-in-law.
Since I've been home from the retreat I've made a couple of trips to Spinning Yarns, which is my LYS.  And I've come home with a couple skeins of Rasta in Stitch Red
and Ravelry Red, which I plan to use for gift knitting.
Two days ago I stopped in again, convinced that I needed some Ultra Alpaca in a nice cranberry red color for a pair of mittens for a holiday gift swap.  No luck on that front, but I did end up buying a skein of Home in Charcoal for a gift hat,
a skein of Tosh Vintage for a different pair of gift mittens,
and then this eco alpaca to line a pair of Northman mittens I plan to make for myself
with these two skeins of Ultra Alpaca

I was entering all of this on a spreadsheet that I keep of yarn in and yarn out (everybody does this, right?.... RIGHT?) and was a little stunned that my "yarn in" total so far for quarter 4 of this year is 10,914 yards.  That's 6.2 miles.  And that's more than I have knit for the entire year so far.

I might need a bigger storage bin if I don't start knitting faster!  Oh, and can somebody keep me busy tomorrow at noon so that I'm not tempted to peek at the Plucky Knitter ready-to-ship update?  Thanks :-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Veteran's Day

Like so many people, I have family members who have served our country by being part of the military. I was hoping to find a picture of my dad to share today from when he was a handsome young man in the Navy. I didn't find a picture of my dad, but I did find one of my Pepere who served during World War 2. He passed away about 10 years ago, but I can still remember him telling us the stories of his early life.

When I was looking through the old pictures that I have I found a letter that my Memere kept from him that was still in the envelope.  It was dated 1944!  What a treasure to have found :-)

Thank you for your service Dad and Pepere!

Today is also my sister Jenn's birthday!  And it's a BIG one too.  Without giving the secret away I will just say that she's older than 30, but younger than 50 ;-)

Happy Birthday little sis!  I love you to the moon and back!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

Today is Tuesday, as much as I keep thinking it's Wednesday, it is in fact Tuesday.  That means that it's time for Ten on Tuesday.  This week's prompt is 10 Things to Shout When You Hit the Jackpot!

I'm going to pretend that I'm in Las Vegas, or the Cruise Ship Casino, and have been feeding a slot machine, and it actually wins!  I would probably shout...

1. Shut the front door!
2. Holy Crap!
3. Woohoo!
4. Shazam! (yes, I know, I'm one of the very few people on earth who still says this :-))
5. I can't believe it!
6. No way!
7. Oh my god!
8. Son of a gun!
9. Where's the exit before I blow this?
10. Get my financial advisor on the phone :-)

If only we could all be so lucky at least once.  Wouldn't that be fun?  Since I know Carole was in Vegas with friends this weekend, I hope she enjoyed some luck!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Book Review

Today I finished reading "George Washington and the Secret Six: The Spy Ring That Saved the American Revolution" by Brian Kilmeade and Don Yeager.  I found it to be an interesting book.  Who knew that there was a spy ring that aided General Washington during the Revolutionary War?  I certainly did not!  I thought that the story was well researched, at least as well as it could have been.  Many of the spies of this ring kept their identity and involvement secret their entire lives so much of what has been learned about the Culper Ring was learned second hand from family members after their deaths.  Whenever possible, actual letters and communications were used in the telling this story.

I listened to the audio version of this book and I wish that I had actually read a print copy.  There were many dates, locations, and details that were cited that I had a hard time recounting.  Several times I wished I could have flipped back and reminded myself of some of the details.  That's hard to do when you're listening.  Brian Kilmeade was the narrator, and as much as I enjoy him, I don't think he was the right choice.  As much as it was obvious to me that he has a passion for this type of history, he just didn't come across to me as "telling a story".  It was more like he was reciting it.

Overall I would give this 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Mother's Heart

I'm sure every mother knows this but I'm going to say it anyway. Sometimes you just plain miss your kids when they are far away. You know he's out doing great things, preparing to conquer his world, making you proud of the young man he is becoming, but you just miss him anyway. And then he sends you a picture like this..

right after he tells you how much fun he had being right in the middle of it, and you can't help but smile.  Only 2 more weeks and he'll be home for Thanksgiving break :-)

Great win for Clemson over Florida State yesterday!  Go Tigers!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Have You Heard?

Look what came in the mail!

It's a Beanie Bag!  Four swatching samples of yarns from Shibui, a darning needle, and a Soak sample all in a cute little zippered bag from Jimmy Beans Wool.  All of this fun for only $10.  Cute idea and I love it because I get to see, touch, swatch a selection of yarns each month that I normally don't get to see in person.  I love my LYS, but let's be honest, there's no way they can stock everything that I hear about on Ravelry.  This is a fun way to be able to branch out and try some stuff.  Want to try it yourself?  Click on the link above and sign up.

Friday, November 6, 2015

In Which I Share My Cookie Baking Secrets

Over the years I have managed to acquire a reputation for making the BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies ever. I have been asked many times what my secret is and if I would share my recipe. Well, here it is...

Go buy a bag of Nestle's Semi-sweet Chocolate Chips and use the recipe on the back of the bag. I do have a couple tips though for making them a bit better.

First, I always use butter.  Always.  Everything is better with butter, especially cookies, and I really do think that the flavor is just better with butter.

2nd, I double the vanilla.  I think the little bit extra just smooths out the baking soda and salt and makes the cookies taste a little better.

When you add the eggs you want to mix the mixture until it gets a little fluffy and almost starts to form peaks.  The you'll add the flour mixture.  This is, in my opinion, the most important part. The batter will be too thin so you will need to add extra flour.  How much really depends on the size of your eggs and how much liquid they provide to your dough.  Try adding an extra 1/4 cup and then give the dough what I call The Pinch Test.  Take a pea size of dough and give it a little pinch.  It should still be moist, and yet dry enough that when you separate your fingers, the dough stays behind.  If it's too squishy add a little more flour and test it again until you're happy with it.
I use a scoop to portion out the cookies.  My favorite is the OXO Good Grips Cookie Scoop and I use the medium sized one.  I like using a scoop to portion them because then they are all the same size and bake more evenly.
The next step is baking time.  I think that the recipe calls for 10-12 minutes, but in my oven that is way too long!  I set my timer for 7 minutes and take them out while they are still very blond and just lightly browned around the edges.  I tried to take some pictures of what they look like when I think they're ready to come out.
Just remember that the oven is 375 degrees, so they will continue to cook for a bit on the tray once you take them out of the oven.  So if you leave them in until the look done, they will actually be overdone :-(  Once they sit for a few minutes they will look a little more like you expect them to.
Give it a try and see what you think.  It will take some trial and error to find the right combination for your oven, but it's worth the effort.  Your family will thank you :-)

Of course it's also possible that I just have a magic oven!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Throwback Thursday

I'm thinking today of the fabulous vacation Tom and I took in September to celebrate our 30th Anniversary.  We went on a Mediterranean Cruise and spent a couple extra days in Rome.  It was the best vacation ever!

This is Saint Peter's Square in Vatican City.  It is so beautiful!  We took the guided tour which took 4 hours but we could have easily spent the best part of a day there.  There is so much art and architecture to see between the Vatican Museum, the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.

I have about 500 pictures from the trip so I'm sure you'll see some more of them in future weeks.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hump Day

Happy Wednesday!  Or Happy Hump Day.  Whichever you prefer :-)  

I remember when I was in college at UNH (Go Wildcats!) and telling my mother about my week.  My friend Kathy and I were responsible for snacks for our weekly floor meeting in our dorm, which was always on Wednesday and known as Hump Night.  My mother's response was something along the lines of "Wait...... What did you just say?!?"  It still makes me laugh to think about that!  But we were over the hump for the week and probably snacking on something really gourmet, like S'mores, because we had figured out that we could roast marshmallows in the dorm oven if we used the broiler :-)

Today is a Hump Day for me though for a completely different reason.  I am knitting a Wenceslas and I have crossed the half way mark!  I have 2 sleeves completed and last night I finished the right front and cast on for the left front.  And that, my friends, means that I have officially crossed the half way mark and have more done than I have left to knit.
 These are pretty lousy pictures of the pieces I have finished, but the cables are so pretty I wanted to try to show them off.
At this point I'm pretty optimistic that I'm going to have a fabulous new red sweater for the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Ten on Tuesday

I love to read almost as much as I love to knit.  What is it though about a book that makes you want to read it? What is it the magic hook that pulls you in?

This week Carole has asked us to come up with 10 Sentences that Would Be a Great First Line of a Book. It's not as easy as it sounds!  But here are my attempts.

1. Some people say that love is the thing that can transform anyone into a better person, only I know that isn't true.
2.  As I stood taking in the carnage around the room, darkness seemed to creep it's way into every corner.
3.  I know what I'm seeing is true, but I have no idea how I became a part of it.
4.  Today is my birthday.
5. I'm lying awake in bed as the sounds of a happy family beginning their day waft up the stairs of my house.  There's only one problem though, I don't have a family.
6. Memories are the songs that play forever in your mind.
7. I thought my life had no meaning to it, that I was just one of those people who would never experience something extraordinary.
8. Sunshine streamed in through the window in a way that should have brought warmth to the room.
9.  I was seven the day of the big fire that changed this town forever.
10.  I know it only takes an instant to change your life forever, because that's all it took to change mine.

I'm feeling a little dramatic, but it was fun to come up with these.  Click on Carole's link above and see who else is participating this week.  I'm betting there are some really great ideas this week!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Monday Morning

When Monday morning greets you like this, embrace it. Clearly it's going to be a glorious week :-)

“Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”
—John Muir, Our National Parks

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Planning A Head

Hello my Blog Friends!

It's been too long since I last posted but it hasn't been for lack of thought. I bet you'll know exactly what I mean when I say that I would often be doing something and think "I should blog about this" but then in worrying about taking the time to do it justice.... well, time just slips away and it never quite gets done. So I've decided to turn over a new leaf and be more committed to creating a great space here. To that point, I have decided to commit to NaBloPoMo for the month of November.  I hope you'll visit here often and leave me an occasional comment!

To start this off, let me tell you about a plan I have for Christmas this year.  I have a pretty good sized extended family.  Tom and I both have 3 siblings, and with that, several nieces and nephews.  A few years ago I decided to knit hats for everybody on my side of the family.  Instead of choosing a pattern and yarn for each person I decided to just knit a variety of styles in a variety of yarns.  I put them all in a big basket and then passed it around.  I told everyone that if there was something in there that they loved, it was theirs.  It was a BIG hit.  I've decided to do it again, but this time for Tom's side of the family.  Since my goal is to NOT be gift knitting like a crazy person in December, I decided to start early.

The first hat finished for the gift basket is An Unoriginal Hat by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee knit with Malabrigo Rasta.  The color is Porrinho and there are no words to describe how much I love this hat.  I'm seriously hoping that nobody will love it like I do and I'll be able to keep it for myself :-)
The next hat I finished is Declan's Hat by Samantha Kirby.  This is a free pattern and is extremely well written.  I used Ultra Alpaca for this and it practically knit itself!  Yummy yummy stuff and I might need a whole sweater in it!
I also knit this Habitat by Jared Flood using Peace Fleece.  This one is not going into the gift basket.  I had already promised to knit a hat for my FIL after he made a very generous donation for me when I participated in the Avon 39 Walk to End Breast Cancer in May.  (Perfect example of "something I should blog about but never quite did")

My hatpalooza has begun!  Do you have a favorite hat pattern?  I'd love to hear about it!