Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Yesterday was a bust ...just couldn't get anything done. I think I had worked so hard on Monday that there just wasn't any energy left for Tuesday. This "being retired" stuff is tricky. Without deadlines to meet and immediate tasks screaming for attention, it is entirely possible to fritter away an entire day, and that's just what I did.

This morning I made a list, and I am sticking to it. Otherwise, I might fall prey to idleness again, which is very unlike me. The deck is covered, and I mean crunchy covered, with helicopters from our Maple trees. They are even sticking between the slats on the patio table, which is teak and also needs immediate attention. First - go to the shed and get the push broom. Second find the hand sander (electric of course) and figure out how to use it. The table must be sanded and oiled.

The cable bag is progressing. I'm at 14 1/2" now and the goal height is 16". You know how it feels when you are close to finishing a project? You keep knitting and keep measuring, and the measurement  is always the same? Well, that's where I am. I think I could work 2 more repeats of the 12-row pattern, and the measurement would still be 14.5".

Well, I can either write about it, or get off my duff and actually do something about it. My choice!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Looking Forward

We keep a 5th-wheel in Door County – about 50 minutes away. We call it our "cabin in the woods", although in reality, it is pretty luxurious. My days of sleeping in tents on air mattresses that are invariably flat in the morning are long gone, so the "Far-V" (my now 18-year-old grandson named it that when he was about 5) is perfect for my arthritic joints. We escape to Far-V almost every weekend, that is until the call of the yard work gets too strong, and then we stay home and work ourselves to the bone.

This Memorial Day weekend we are going to Far-V early and staying late; altogether we will have 5 days and 4 nights! Can't wait. We have planned the menus, and I am shopping and preparing for the venture. AJ has a smoker upon which he plans to do a pork loin, and I have a camp dutch oven, in which I plan to roast a chicken. We also have a small freezer that is stocked with burgers and brats, and the pantry has such staples as canned baked beans and S'mores makings. All in all, we should be able to roll home instead of driving.

There are lots of goings-on in Door County on Memorial Day weekend. Sturgeon Bay has a juried Fine Arts Show, and Jacksonport or Bailey's Harbor, can't remember which, has May Fest. We like to take Jessie to Murphy Park, where she can catch balls that AJ deftly tosses over the water.

Of course, all of this requires careful knitting preparation. I have to pack in such a way as to get everything I might possibly need in the car with me. Enough wound skeins of yarn, tapestry needles, scissors, tape measure, stitch markers, etc. I  plan to be able to finish the cabled project bag this coming weekend – the knitting part at least. The lining part will take more time and a sewing machine. No I won't be taking that up to Door County.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Spring in Wisconsin

Tuesday night a fellow knitter from the Bay Lakes Knitting guild was on his way to drop of some yarn for one of the residents at the Bellvue Retirement Community. He called and said he was on his way, so I went out on the front steps to wait for him. It was about 7 pm, and the light was perfect for taking pictures. I ran back into the house for my camera, and these are some of the results.

I just love Allium. Part of it is the color - can't help it - I'm a purple person. The bulbs are expensive, so I don't have very many. They are so regal, don't you think?

Sitting on the front step looking toward the street, this brick fencing with columns is what you see. Again with the purple - Vinca - so sweet and cute. They bloom early and then you have a nice green ground cover for the rest of the summer. If anyone knows how to get the crab grass out from within the Vinca shoot me an email. I usually just give out.

One of my other favorite spring blooms is Euphorbia. The color is unmatchable - chartreuse. Where else in nature to you find this color? Unfortunately in another month it will look gangly probably brown out, but it is gorgeous this time of year. The original plant seems to have reseeded itself around the yard, something that my husband does not appreciate, but I guess it is hardy.

This is the entrance to our front porch, and the Phlox seem very happy there. The taller shrubs in the background are dwarf lilacs and will probably pop this weekend.

When I was cleaning and organizing my craft room a week ago I found some fabric sheets for ink jet printers. Wouldn't these pictures make great quilting fabrics. Think I will have to give that a try.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Red Cabled Bag

I thought you might like to see the Cabled Bag in progress. As you can see the fabric is very dense. The Stitch pattern is Cat's Eye, an overall pattern from Barbara Walker's first stitch patterns book. The cable is an 8-stitch cable (4 back, 4), which is why it is so dense and rather hard on the hands.

Ultimately it will be a knitting project bag, about 16" high. At this time it is about 6 1/2 " high. Notice that the bottom edge really wants to curl, but I think that will settle out when I pick up for the base. I am designing it as I go. The top edge will conclude at the appropriate length and after a "cross" round. I have awesome lining fabric for it and will also use plastic canvas sheets for stiffening on the sides. I plan to have a special piece of hard plastic cut for the bottom.

Here is a close up of the stitch pattern, which is a 12 - row repeat. Cables cross right on row 6 and left on row 12. I am a Continental knitter, but on the cross rows and the the following rows I throw the yarn. It is easier on my hands, and I can work at the very points that way.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Domestication, Ugh!

It is stunningly beautiful here today, and rather than enjoy it, I am running errands, ironing, doing laundry, etc. Dropped the dog of at the groomers this morning at 7am, then went to get an oil change for my car, home to start laundry, ironed 6 tops, planned supper menue, and have two major cooking projects to do before dinner.

I have 6 bananas that are going bad, so it is either throw them out or make something with them. Banana Bread it is. If it is any good I will share the recipe, although it is readily available on the internet.

Also, we are out of dog treats, and my daughter shared a recipe for Peanut Butter Dog Treats that she found on Pinterist. I'm going to try my hand at that as well. .

Yesterday we spread some great smelling cedar mulch on the island bed in the front yard. Need to do the same thing everywhere else. No time.

Knitting, you ask? Well, I worked quite a bit over the weekend on the Cabled Bag I am designing for Monterey Yarn. It is about 8" high now, but that is only about half way. When I first started working on it a couple of weeks ago, the cross-over row and the one after just exhausted my left hand - the one recovering from the hand surgery. Now, I can keep going, and the hand doesn't tire so much. Guess that means I am getting stronger. Always a good thing.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Victoria Jicha's Tales of a Knitter: Knitting for Charity

Victoria Jicha's Tales of a Knitter: Knitting for Charity: The Bay Lakes Knitting Guild of Green Bay, Wisconsin has several charitable projects: chemo caps and baby hats for hospitals drive these kni...

Knitting for Charity

The Bay Lakes Knitting Guild of Green Bay, Wisconsin has several charitable projects: chemo caps and baby hats for hospitals drive these knitting activities. A new endeavor this year has been establishing a knitting group at the Bellevue Retirement Community, an independent and assisted living facility here in town. The project at Bellevue started in January, and upwards of a dozen residents there meet every other week to knit and chat. Two or three Bay Lakes Knitting Guild members attend the sessions, to help, to encourage, and underscore this important group activity. Without guild involvement the Bellevue knitters probably would not have come together.

The guild introduced the knitters there to our charitable knitting projects, and one of the residents has turned out more than 30 baby hats for the newborns at St. Vincent's Hospital here in Green Bay. We provide her with the yarn, and she just knits her fingers to the bone. Each time I walk into the Community Room at Bellevue, the first thing I see is a row of five cute, little white hats that remind me of the Pillsbury Dough Boy. Last night at the guild's annual picnic I was able to present the guild with 18 of these little tot toppers, all knit by the same woman at Bellevue.

What has been the results of this senior citizen knitting project?

  • The meetings have brought residents together. Rather than staying in their rooms, they have been thrown together with other seniors with like interests.
  • They have rediscovered the art of knitting, something several of them had not done in years.
  • They are producing items to donate to others. Often seniors are only on the receiving end of life, but knitting has provided them with an opportunity to give.
  • They have an activity now to fill their sometimes long and lonely days.
If you are in a guild or club somewhere that is looking for an outreach project, I encourage you to look at senior facilities in your area. Contact the activities director and see if they would welcome your involvement. You will be all the richer for it. I know I am.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spring in Door County

We spent the weekend in Door County, WI opening up our 5th wheel for the summer. We keep it in a campground just north of Carlsville. It is our "cabin in the woods" and where we spend most weekends in the summer. Some folks travel the US in 5th wheels, but we just reside in ours on weekends. It never moves. The campground is heavily forested, quiet, and very peaceful. This time of year it is awash in Trillium, and the sight is beautiful.

There are also numerous wildflowers - little yellow ones - don't know what they are called but they are so delicate and sweet.

The local stores are also advertising morels, and on occasion I have found some to harvest. They are a great addition to a morning omelette, but I didn't find any this weekend. We had a lot of rain, which was OK because there was a lot of cleaning to do. We usually are the winter motel for a mouse or two, so everything has to be cleaned thoroughly, which I did most of Saturday.

I got a fair amount of knitting done as well - on a cabled bag I am designing for my LYS. It is based upon the Cat's Eye overall cable pattern in Barbara Walker's first volume of stitch patterns. The cable is an 8-stitch cable, so it is fairly physical for the hands. I have to pace myself, because my left hand still doesn't have the strength it should have after the surgery. If I do top much my wrist hurt, which couldn't be a good thing. Right?

I see the doctor tomorrow. Hopefully he will tell me I am progressing as I should and to knit away with abandon. Finger's crossed!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Stormy Weather - There's a Song in There Somewhere

We have had quite a morning here in Green Bay today - the thunder and lightening have been pretty constant since after midnight. At one point it got so dark it looked like night time rather than 10:00 a.m., which is what time it really was. I even shut the computer down for a while.

Then there was a little break with no rain, at which time I scurried around, looking for my shoes, so I could go out and harvest some rhubarb before the next storm rolled in. As you can see, I made it. I think there is a rhubarb pie in our future tonight.

It always makes me think of Dad, because it was his favorite pie too. At this time of year, I would always make 2 of them at a time – one for Dad and one for us. There is a Rhubarb Custard Pie recipe in the old Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook, and that is the recipe that Mom always used. Me too, still today, but over the years I have amended it a bit for more fruit in the pie. Of course, if you are going to add more rhubarb, you have to add more sugar, 'cause rhubarb is pretty tart. Anyway, DH loves it, so there will be dessert after supper tonight.

While waiting for the storms to abate I craned out a pair of socks using the ribber. I think I finally have that contraption down, and am beginning to understand the difference between the various sized cylinders. At any rate, my goal is to have 45-50 pairs of socks ready for my sister's Art Fair in October.

I also want to start taking orders for socks from customers on the internet, but that seems to require a logo, price tags, business cards, etc. Way too much work for a rainy spring day.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Successful Crawl (for yarn that is)

Saturday's Yarn Crawl to Milwaukee-area stores was a rousing success. 17 members of the Bay Lakes Knitting Guild left Green Bay at 6:45am in about 5 cars and drove down to Fox Point, where our first store was the Knitting Knook.

My purchases for the day show
restraint, don't you think?
It is in a house just off Interstate 43 and North of Bay Shore. What a find! I've seldom seen a greater selection of sock yarn. The rooms are small, and every inch is crammed with yarn displays of one kind or another. The owner very kindly opened early for our group, and at the end of the day, everyone agreed it was one of their favorite stops.

After that we continued south to Ruhamas, Wisconsin's oldest and largest yarn store. It is located in Whitefish Bay, which is just north of Milwaukee, and it too was amazing. This store also has an entire wall devoted to gorgeous needlepoint canvases and the yarn to work them. They had stunning Fair Isle-type kits from several Scandinavian designers, any one of which I would have been delighted to purchase if I could have afforded it.

After that we caravanned to Brookfield, a western Milwaukee suburb, to Kopp's for lunch. Kopp's is famous for gargantuan hamburgers, to-die-for onion rings, and the best custard Wisconsin has to offer. (Wisconsinites are partial to custard; ice cream is not favored.) I can attest that the onion rings are out of this world.

Across the parking lot from Kopp's is River Boutique and Yarn
a different kind of store with lots of vintage clothing, antiques, and yarn but not the variety we had seen. They have a great sitting area in the middle of the stores with sofas and soft chairs, where knitters can sit and knit to their heart's content. The owner made brownies for us that were awesome. Unfortunately, after the visit to Kopp's, I wasn't very hungry.

Next stop was the Cream City Yarn Shop in Brookfield, which is located in an old bank building. The store is owned by a couple of young women and it has only been open a year. They had a nice selection of yarns and the store space was light and airy.

From here the last shop stop was at Fiberwood Studio in Milwaukee.  A very small store front, they specialize in fibers for weaving and had an entire wall of coned yarn. I was excited about this, thinking they would have coned yarn I could use for my circular sock knitting machine, but alas, their yarns were 2-ply, too light to use in the machine.

Each of the stores had gift bags for us and a drawing set up for the one lucky knitter who would win it. (I wasn't lucky!) They all were very welcoming to our group, and I'm sure made a tidy profit from our visit. The final stop was at The Cheesecake Factory for dinner and then back up 43 to Green Bay. All in all a very jam-packed, fun-filled day of yarn shopping.