Saturday, December 31, 2016

Bitty Bits of Blather - The 2016 in Review Edition

I felt this overwhelming urge to do some bitty bits of blather. I have missed our time together going over the minutiae of my life in tiny bite sized pieces.

Let's do this more often shall we?

I think I posted around 500+ times on Instagram this year. Not bad. 

Or really bad depending on how you look at it. Unlike the Kardashians, none of my photos came with pouty trout mouth and I was fully clothed the entire time. You can thank me later.

Here are some of my favorites

I watched approximately 125+ movies/documentaries. It is an approximate number because, even though I am anally retentively obsessed fairly careful about keeping a list of the movies I have watched, I do occasionally forget. That list also includes several TV shows that I might have binge watched, including The Great British Baking show.

Can I just digress for a minute to say that without Mary Berry, Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins, the show is now dead to me. I will just have to live on re-watching the first 7 seasons. 

I managed to read 71 books this year. That is a grand total of 22,635 pages. And I can tell you that because of the fabulous "AutoSum" feature in Excel.

Thank you Microsoft.

My favorite books of the year were:
On Living by Kerry Egan
Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi
The Crime of the Century by Dennis Breo
Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
Junk by Alison Stewart
The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin
Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein
Valiant Ambition by Nathaniel Philbrick    

2016 was again The Year of the Wedding. I coordinated/attended/attended & coordinated 11 weddings. There was everything from the bride who wore a sparkly pink dress, had no attendants and could not speak English to the wedding with 10 bridesmaids. Yowza. Here are my favorite pictures from those days.

There was some knitting that happened. That cannot be a surprise to you. I knit a total of 15 pairs of socks. The evidence is below, although this is not all 15 pairs.
This picture is short at least two pair of socks because those went to Mimi. She always appreciates them and knows how to take care of them. 

As in years past I have already taken out 12 skeins of yarn from THE STASH, put them through the ball winder, put them in brown paper lunch bags, stapled the tops shut and labeled them with the months of the year. The January 2017 Mystery sock is sitting with my sock knitting bag just waiting to be cast on tomorrow! Below are the yarns that will become socks in 2017. That is not to say that these are the ONLY skeins that will become socks. It is just that these are the planned skeins.
There was other knitting going on as well. Three baby blankets, several cowls, a number of hats, at least one lace project as well as ongoing work on the Never Ending Sock Yarn Blanket and a couple of other things.

Speaking of knitting, as we are, today I will also evaluate the current "WIPS" (works in progress for the non-knitters) sitting in my UFO (unfinished objects) pile and make the decision as to what projects will actually continue into the new year. I always swore that I would be a momonogamous knitter, only working on one project at a time.

I am obviously a big fat liar.

There are projects that you start with great intentions and enthusiasm and then you just lose interest.  It is better to just frog and put the yarn back in the stash for another day. I know that there is at least one knitted vest in there that is half finished and will never be finished because I don't like the yarn with the project.

Life is too short to knit something that doesn't bring you joy.
The rest of today will be used with cleaning out and cleaning up in preparation for 2017. I am cleaning out all of the articles I had stashed in Pocket because I don't use that any longer and I am trying very hard to just delete things that I don't use on a regular basis. I have found that the digital age just makes it easier for some of us with hoarding tendencies to hoard but not take up any space that anyone else can see.

Yarn stash is never to be counted as a hoard. No need to look over there.

I will be looking through ALL of the iPhone photos that I have taken over the course of 2016 an eliminating all that don't really need to be kept. That would currently be 1149 photos that I have to go through.

There is a bunch of stuff to scan. There is planning to be done.

So many things to do before the Ohio State - Clemson game comes on tonight and I start stuffing my face with shrimp and beer.  

OK all, lets go out there and have a happy and safe New Years Eve.

Personally, I will be sitting around, sans bra (but with pants on) watching football and eating junk food cuz, you know, I was SO smart to schedule my annual physical for a week after the new year.

See you in 2017.  

Friday, December 30, 2016

Gauge Lies

I have been knitting for a while now. I am no stranger to the ways of the knitting Force. It is strong in me. Therefore you would think that I would know better than to cast on a sweater on a day when I was under the weather.

Did I tell you that I have been under the weather for the past few days? And by under the weather I mean that I produced a 103F temperature on Wednesday with a resulting cough that makes Chez Knit sound like a TB ward (HHBL is coughing too.) We went out to dinner with LaurenLeep and The Tech Guy on Wednesday and I remarked to myself as we were getting out of the car that I wasn't feeling quite "the thing" at that moment. You know those vague feelings of something not being quite right with your world but not sure what is wrong. Sort of like the lookouts on the Titanic right before the iceberg emerged.

Or not.

At any rate, dinner was fun as it always is. There was Italian food. There was wine. We laughed a lot. But every time that I got up to go to the bathroom, which was located in a rather chilly hallway, I was suddenly shivery. I sucked it up and persevered but the minute that we stepped out into the chilly night....I knew something was definitely wrong. Go home, dig out the digital ear thermometer, stick it in my ear and wait. You know you aren't going to like what it says when it takes an age to beep. 103F. How nice. 

So yesterday I wasn't feeling so up with things. In fact I spent the day in flannel pajama pants, a thing which I NEVER do. No really, I always get dressed in the morning. But yesterday I put on my flannel pj pants and my big old Star Wars sweatshirt and I spent the day on the couch, reading and watching the TV and knitting. You know you are really feeling bad when the thought of going to the basement to measure the swatch for the sweater you want to cast on is just too much effort.

But late in the afternoon I oozed my way down to the KnitCave and measured the swatch and Bang! spot on gauge. If the term "swatch" and "gauge" mean nothing to you, just know that a gauge swatch is a small or big (depending on how much patience you have) piece of knitted fabric using the needles and the yarn for your particular project. If the gauge is "off" that will mean that your knitted garment will not turn out to be the size that you were expecting. Think of all of the hilarious pictures you have seen of "boyfriend" sweaters that some hapless knitter produced without checking her gauge.

When knitting a sweater "gauge" is the mantra that we live by. It is the word that can mean smiles or tears depending on if you did your swatch and if you actually listened to what it was telling you. I did two swatches. The first one said to me in big bold letters, "YOU NEED TO GO UP A NEEDLE SIZE!" I listened intently, went up a needle size and the angels sang. So, in the midst of my fuzzy fever ridden day I decided that it was a good idea to cast on the sweater, which is using yarn that my MiL purchased for me in Lima. I can't get any more of this stuff and so I need to be sure that the sweater fits me, especially considering the fact that I am going to steek it. 

What is steeking you are asking yourself if you are not a knitter. Steeking means that I am going to DELIBERATELY cut my knitting right up the center. So counter intuitive to everything that we teach ourselves as knitters. But that is what the pattern calls for so I had better make sure that the size is spot on. Once the scissors do their job there will be no going back to reknit.

This is how far I got by the end of the evening. Oh how I love stranded colorwork. Knitting with two hands at the same time makes me feel like I can take on the entire world's issues and still have time for coffee and knitting. 

I am a knitter. Hear me roar!

The knitting was perfect. I felt like I had adulted a bit in an otherwise lying on the couch kind of day. But, there was that nagging, maybe there is a iceberg dead ahead feeling in the back of my brain. Looking at those perfectly done colorwork stitches, I just knew that the gauge was off.

But gauge swatches never lie, you are saying to yourself.

Oh yes, they do.

I know what some of you are thinking. You are thinking, "I bet she knit that gauge swatch flat, not in the round. That will mess with the gauge." You would be wrong. I did swatch in the round (an entirely fiddly process that makes my brain crazy.) The only thing that I can conclude is that perhaps the gauge was a bit off because I am knitting with both my left hand (my dominant knitting hand because I knit Continental) and my right hand (which always knits a bit tighter.) That is my story and I am sticking to it.

I woke up this morning and knew that I had to check the gauge on that sweater and sure enough, it was off. And then I had to make the painful decision to.......frog it. To be fair, I did not frog it completely because that would mean having to re-knit that blasted K1P1 ribbing at the bottom. I despise K1P1 ribbing and I wasn't going to knit that again. But I did pull out everything up to the first round of colorwork, a lesson in carefuly measured movements so that you don't pull out stitches that you didn't mean to pull out, which I did despite being careful. I put larger needles on the cables and then had to go through the tedious task of getting all of the stitches back on the needles and fixing any mistakes I made when picking up stitches. I am not going to explain that last statement to those who are not knitters because I can already see your eyes glazing over. It was tedious and there might have been some language involved that I am not going to share with you.

Just know that in about an hour I am going to back to where I was when I so happily went to bed last night.

Just remember boys and girls. 

Gauge lies.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas (One Day Late)

Yes, I know, I am a day late. I have a reason. The house is full of progeny, that is my reason. We have lived in the current Chez Knit for 3.5 years now but this is the first Christmas that all of the progeny have been here at the same time. Thank goodness for 4 bathrooms! And a finished basement! And enough beds! It has been a busy few days.
I might have spent time baking bread (6 loaves) before everyone got here. Well, actually I baked three loaves thinking that would certainly be enough. But then we went through 1.5 loaves in the first 24 hours and only Cartoon Girl and That NYC Guy were here with us at that point so I began to be concerned about the bread usage, knowing that the other progeny love bread as well. So I baked 3 more loaves the day that TMO, TSiL, Shoe Queen and SlimJim arrived. Since Thursday we have gone through 6 loaves of bread. That is four loaves that I baked and two stellar whole wheat loaves that TMO baked. Yowza.  
There were numerous games of Mah Jong. I managed to win one game, which is one more than I usually win. I seem to always pick the combo that means there are only pairs in the Mah Jong that I am building and pairs are a difficulty because you can't put them up on your wall using a Joker. At least this year I remembered that I cannot do that move. But it didn't help me win any more games. Did I just lose all of you? Hello?  
Our Granddog Darcy is here to visit as well. She is the perfect dog. She rarely has to go out. Her shedding is no where near as momentous as Max the Magnificent's was. She doesn't bark and she rarely licks the floor. She did, however, figure out that if I am cooking in the kitchen and I then walk by her, she tries to quickly sneak a lick of my fingers just in case there is anything good there. Maybe I shouldn't have let her lick my fingers that had Tahini all over them. Just a thought.  
There was a great deal of after dinner talk and laughter. NO POLITICS. Lots of wine. We went through the equivalent of a small winery's worth of vino. But really, what is good food without good wine. And we ate well. Shoe Queen and Slim Jim cooked a vegan taco meal one night. I am very intrigued with tempe. Then TMO and TSiL cooked an Indian feast one night. Oh the curry! Then we all participated in the meal yesterday. Oh the food! We have several food traditions for Christmas, one of which is that we have Nutmeg Coffeecake for breakfast. But, we also have vegans in the house and Nutmeg Coffeecake is not vegan. I am going to tell you that I am so proud of myself that I managed to make it vegan. There were just two ingredients, an egg and milk, that I had to substitute. Guys, 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed soaked in 3 tablespoons of water substitutes for an egg! It is magic. And I just swapped unsweetened almond milk for the regular milk. I was so pleased when it came out of the oven. And it tasted fantastic.
We managed to make Cartoon Girl snort on various occasions so life was in balance.
The perfect Christmas gifts arrived. I can see a marathon in my future. #itwasneverpersonal And last but not least. We managed to take a fairly good family picture. I felt like I was channeling my father as I would push the button on the camera and then have 10 seconds to run into the picture and get myself situated so that I didn't look like I had run into the picture.
Merry Christmas from the Quigg/Cudney/Cutherell/Barwegen clan. We hope it was a great day for you. Now I am off to clean out my refrigerator.            

Monday, December 19, 2016

Forceable Blog Rearrangement

Stupid work laptop.

Stupid Feedly.

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

There, now I feel better....well not that much but I am getting there.

Monday, why do these things always happen on a Monday. Monday's are hard enough with all of the "well I guess I actually have to get up and put on pants today" and "yes, I guess I really should go to the office and be productive" stuff that you have to deal with after two days of not going to the office. I still put pants on mind you because, it is WINTER here, or almost. It was 15F when I got up this morning.

I put on pants indeed and a wool sweater and wool socks and a wool cowl. Of course I will take most of those off at some point during the day because I will inevitably have my own personal summer at some point. Never let anyone tell you that if you have the internal lady parts removed you won't have hot flashes. They will be lying to you. I don't know how the body figures out how to do this without all of the little female bits, but it has done so. 

What was I talking about? Oh, Monday.

Monday is always one of my busiest days. There is always tons of things that have to be done and last Monday was no it should have been expected that on this particular day my laptop would say, "No. Sorry. Not feeling it today." It was slower than the line at the DMV. Outlook didn't want to open and when it did open it didn't want to stay open. Nothing wanted to work. So, the decision was made to jettison the old behemoth for another lap top. I work at a software company, believe me when I say that there were other laptops that were just crying out for a job. I grabbed the first one that I could find, which happened to be laying in plane view and said, "Let's use this one. That should be easy."

Famous. Last. Words.

It took HHBL two hours of his precious time just to get Outlook and Office up and running. If you think that I am busy that is nothing compared to his schedule, which currently runs about 70 hours a week worth of work. I spent most of the afternoon getting all of the things moved over to the new computer and downloaded and set up and thought everything was fine.....until I tried to use Feedly, which is where all of the blogs that I read for all of the works reside.

Feedly kept telling me that it didn't know me. I tried every which way to tell it that we were old friends but it was as if Feedly had suddenly unfriended me. 

Me: But I am logged in on the old computer AND the iPad!!! 

Feedly: That is not my problem. I don't know you. Login with Google and start all over.

Me: But, but,  that isn't workable. All the blogs! All the stuff!

Feedly: Not listening. Here look, I logged you in with Google. You can thank me later because I know better than you.

Me: But none of the blogs are there! That isn't the way I login to get the blogs!

Feedly: LALALALALALA. Not listening 

Me: Fuck (sorry but that is what I said)

I tried again on Thursday morning but nada. Feedly is telling me that I am dead to it, at least the email login that I have used forever is. Guys, I am religious about putting all of my logins for ALL OF THE THINGS into my Datavault manager, and yet, I have no login info for Feedly. 

So, I finally decided just to reconstruct the blogs, painstakingly, slowly, into Feedly on the "new" laptop. And I decided that maybe it was time to just weed out all of the blogs that aren't really updating any longer. If the last time that you put up a blog post was more than 12 months ago......goodbye (says the person who went three months without blogging a thing.)

Have you noticed that less people are actually blogging these days?

I can tell you this because I eliminated half of blogs that I have been following. I felt bad about it, really I did, but if it has been 42 months since your last blog post then I think I can safely say that you are most likely done. 

And, if I would routinely pass by your blog and say to myself, "Well, I will get to THAT one later." And you had 10+ blog posts that I just hadn't bothered to read......I said goodbye to you too.

My, my feedly feels so clean and streamlined. And I DARE Feedly to lock me out again.

Says I with fear and trepidation.  


Wednesday, December 14, 2016


OH my gosh guys, I really do miss you. I miss our little talks, one sided though they may be. I miss thought vomiting all the minutiae of my day onto your computer screens. All the stupid things that I do.

This whole having three jobs and still finding time to blog thing is not treating me well. I think, "Hey I should tell the few people that still follow me about that!" and then life walks up with it's steel toed boots and just gives me a swift kick and it never happens. Life you are a mean bully with yellow teeth and bad breath.

Whine, whine, whine.

Where was I.

Oh yeah, life. Do you know that at one time I actually thought that once the progeny went out of the house for good and onto their lives that I would have all of this time on my hands to be creative and do things and...

The cosmos (and probably you as well) is laughing at me. Big belly laughs of incredulity that I would ever think such a stupid thing. Life is just kicking my big fat bahookie and I am just saying, "Please sir, may I have some more." Maybe 2017 will be better.

I am thinking that I am going to rely less on pictures and more on words as we go along here together. So, if you are all, "but where are all of the pretty pictures," you might be disappointed. There are still pictures, have no fear, and I MIGHT have a new camera body that, if I wasn't married to HHBL I might marry it. Oh my word and all the stars in heaven it is beautiful and heavy and doesn't play well with half of my lenses so I might have to purchase a new lens next year. 

Maybe I will stick with iPhone pictures, of which I take a vast amount. That cannot be a surprise to you. If it is you haven't been here for very long.

 Here, this is me riding an indoor carosel with a bunch of other adults, all with drinks in our hands. I lead a wild and crazy life during the holidays. Actually, this was at a holiday party that HHBL is invited to that I also go to as they are a client of mine. The intersections of life.

I also just need an outlet for all of the words and feels and you get to be it. Well, you and my journal which gets ALL OF THE FEELS. Don't you feel privileged! The one thing I won't talk about is politics.

Can I tell you something......

I didn't tell ANYONE who I voted for (except HHBL who I tell everything to except for how much I spend on yarn). And I am not going to tell anyone who I voted for. And I am thinking that this will be my rule from now until the day that the Lord calls me home. Politics = a toxic pool of swamp water that someone is going to get their panties in a wad about. So not worth it.

So, all the words to say that I am still here. I will try to do better. I just don't think that it is time for me to pack it all up and go home.

Unless you tell me I should.