Saturday, December 20, 2008

The trouble with sweaters

For some reason I am almost always starting sweaters at the end of the cold season.

It is as if I am so tired of being cold that I finally say--Oh alright already--and cast on a sweater. Then in say May, I finish it just in time to bypass spring and jump right to 80 degree weather. I suppose it balances out because inevitably in June, it gets cold enough for sweaters again.
Last year I started early--in January. But then I put it aside and finished in April. I got to wear it twice before it got really hot again. Of course it always returns to cold here in michigan, so no sweater is ever truely wasted.

This year, I'm vowing it to be different. I've started a sweater--knit in the round, using recycled yarn. In this pattern, you knit back and forth for a while, to make the collar and shoulders, then join. I've been meaning to get a pair of socks going so that at all the holiday gatherings I can knit and not drag 10 balls of yarn (they are small--Berrocco Touche which without looking, I'm remembering at 98 yrds a skein). And yet, this sweater is just plugging along so well that I'd almost like to get the sleeves divided before Christmas. And I'd LOVE to have it finished sometime when it is still cold. Although the cotton Modal blend, will make a nice spring sweater too.

But today I decided, I'd better start swatching that sock so I'm not swearing about stripes, gauge and size during say Christmas eve service. Not that *I* would knit in church (you know unless my mom is preaching--Just kidding mom) or anything, but you get what I mean. Add to it, that my extended family don't at all understand knitting and let's just say, socks are really the best project to be working on.

Was a good thing I did, because my sock yarn for this project (Meilenweit cotton fantasy) was so tangled on the inside, that I ended up rewinding the ball. Now to decide toe up, top down, heel flap or short row heel.... I guess I might be able to work a few round son the sweater while I decide....

Monday, December 15, 2008

darn it!

Back when I first took a class in how to knit socks, a very good friend of mine gave me a darning egg from her collection (she collects them because she finds them amusing). She said--You'll probably want to learn to use it.
darn
I went along fine, and then my first pair of socks got a hole in them, which irritated me, as they were not even a year old at the time. Then my beloved Lorna's laces socks all started to get thin. Drastic measures needed to be taken.
So yes, I scoured Youtube.
I discovered that some videos are not as helpful as say others. But, if you want to learn like your grumpy grandma was teaching you, please watch the first link. (If you'd like to see how to really do it click the second). After watching both videos, I attempted it and this:
a hole!
Became this:
mended

I discovered that the hint about the matching yarn makes for a much better patch, and so now, I'm keeping all my sock yarn leftovers FOREVER. I also patched up my very first pair I ever knit, but it was tiring work, and so I haven't yet done my second pair of Lorna's laces. Am wearing one pair I mended today and I can't really feel the patch like I thought I might.

Also, I finished blocking the colinette scarf:
scarf
And I've started on a sweater. I need to do some tiny swatching on the socks (I hate to admit swatching socks, but I do. Not as much as say a sweater, but still.) My bathrooms are still dirty and the floor still needs mopping, but I'm happy.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas knitting DONE

I have finished all my Christmas knitting! That sounds so impressive, that we might just forget that I only knit two things this year and they were both scarves. I still need to block the colinette scarf, so no pictures yet.

While I was knitting, I had a crisis of confidence. What if the teachers didn't appreciate my knitting? What if I should have gotten them something else? What if they preferred gift cards? In the end I decided that even if you don't wear handknits or scarves or something, you could at least appreciate the work and love that goes into something handmade. I don't knit for many people, so if I knit for you it is truly a gift to be appreciated.

Also while I was knitting, I started to get ansty about knitting things for me. I wanted more socks, I need to learn to darn my current socks (I have 3 with holes or thinning spots), I want a sweater, I want a lacey mohair scarf, and every time I turned around I saw some new project that I couldn't wait to knit. And now that I'm done, I have no idea what to do first. I should probably start both the sweater and something smaller and portable so that when the Christmas travel comes, I'll have something I can knit in the car. Not that I can't do a sweater in the round in the car, but usually we are pretty packed in and socks just work better. Of course at the rate things are going on the dishwasher front (it is on order...), I'd probably be just as well off buying some kitchen cotton and cranking out the dishcloths in the car.
So there's my conundrum, what to start first? Or you know, I could start the socks AND the sweater, then when the girls are in school next week, I could follow the tutorial on darning socks. or I could wrap presents and clean my house.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pictures!

I have pictures!
here is the noro scarf all done and blocked scarf

And here is the closeup view of the colinette scarf--not blocked.
dropstitch

There was a knot in my colinette and I was a little irritated because it is superwash wool, so no spit felting. Still I have close to three feet done on it, and I'm thinking ending size will be close to six feet--I'll have to discreetly measure the teacher's aide tomorrow at school. (don't worry I'll just stand next to her so something).

I almost took a break from the drop stitch scarf this week, but to tell you why involves a story.
See, my dishwasher broke on Sunday. And on Monday when my best fixit guy ever came out and looked at it, he was sure he could fix it with a part. One I had to order it turns out. The estimated ship time was NEXT Monday, so I figured, we need to do dishes by hand for a while. I am so totally a spoiled dishwasher gal. And when I use the dishwasher, I also use a kitchen sponge. When the thing gets dirty or I've cleaned something gross, into the dishwasher it goes.
My mother swears by dishcloths, the kind you can make with kitchen cotton. She thinks they are more sanitary. And I'm sure if you change it every day, it probably is, since my sponge makes it in perhaps once a week. So anyway, after about a day of washing with the sponge, I decided well hey, I should go find my dishcloths. Because of course I have knit some.

When I learned to knit we made two. Because I was and overachiever obsessed, I made four for me and two for my mom. Now remember, I don't use them. So why would I need four? Well, I have two daughters and I thought I'd make a set for each of them for their hope chests. They were two at the time and I guess I figured I'd never ever knit for them again (Ha!). I don't really care for making dishcloths, so maybe this is all the dishcloths they'll ever get. Anyway, I dislike making dishcloths, although I could probably crank them out much quicker now.

So this, I figured was the perfect opportunity to actually use the ones I have! I can make more when they get married (for their husbands!), it isn't like kitchen cotton is suddenly going to become rare. Well, I went looking and I came up with two and a fairly large swatch I made in prep for a baby afghan square. I also came up with enough kitchen cotton to make another one. Well, I thought I'd need another one, so I could you know WASH them. So I actually considered, for more than 5 minutes, making a third one.
I KNOW! Not only am I washing dishes which I detest, I actually considered knitting something I detest to go with it!

I don't get it either, best to stick to the scarf.
scarf2

Saturday, November 29, 2008

scarf frenzy

I am sick again. So I haven't been up real late, but I have been doing some knitting during the day, while my children fend for themselves, which they've gotten very good at doing because I have been sick most of the month of November. I am looking forward to December so that maybe I can break out of this cycle of get sick, get slightly better, relapse.

I finished the first teacher scarf, although I have not blocked it yet. I made the Drop stitch scarf from Noro silk Garden colorway 203. I'll take a picture of it soon, I promise. Part of my problem with this scarf, was that I wasn't sure what size needled to use, or how many stitches to cast on, because the pattern is like a good pattern very fluid. So after starting and ripping back oh, say 5 times, I finally looked on ravelry, and discovered most people using silk garden had used size 8 needles and cast on what looked like the requisite 26 stitches. After trying that, I was satisfied and then took about 2 weeks to knit the entire thing. I ended up using a little over 2 skeins, and I probably could have made it longer. I was really impressed with myself because I spit-felt the ends together, making it look like one big skein of silk garden. I think I might make a tiny tippet out of the leftovers. But that will have to come after the second scarf.

The second scarf, I decided to make for the teacher's aide in colinette jitterbug. I decided to use the same pattern, although... again I tried out several needle/stitch combinations before settling on size 5 needles and 36 stitches. At one point I woke up at 3am convinced, I just needed to scrap the project altogether and use different yarn. I think it might be a slight problem that knitting wakes me up in the middle of the night and keeps me a wake worrying! The more I knit on it, the better I am liking it. Again, I'll have to get a picture.

I was thinking the other day, that I should get some of Jill's pretty gift tags (and you should too) to go with them. if for no other reason than then they will know that a) I made them and b) please please please don't throw the silk garden into the machine. The only reason I don't already have some around is that I rarely knit for non family people.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Finished socks!

I finished my purple striped socks!
purple socks

I love love love having nice cozy wool socks in the winter. I usually think of myself as a fairly process knitter, but for me, sock knitting is all about the product. I want more socks! therefore, I should go cast on another pair of socks.

I bought some yarn, for one of the scarves.
swift
(Collinette Jitterbug)

I decided to use the noro silk garden I have for the other (and bought another skein, so I don't worry about running out)
noroscarf
Have cast on this project at least 6 times. I think I finally have the combination tension/stitches that I want. I'm hoping that it moves along nicely, because it just hit me that I have to finish two of these puppies in the space of a month. It is a fairly easy pattern, and I have been able to watch most tv while doing it, which helps.

I should though stop writing about it and start knitting.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

felting

There is something deeply satisfying, to me at least, about felting something I've knitted. Take something big, perhaps unevenly knitted, perhaps with small holes where the color join didn't go smooth and toss it in the washer with hot water, a pair of old jeans and a bit of soap. Take it out and it has been transformed into something smooth and dense and completely unlike what went in.
I like to try new techniques on felted items, as I once told a group of new knitters, all the mistakes come out in the wash. To that end, I did my first colorwork on felted backpacks. I did my first attempts at continental style knitting on my felted yoga mat bag. And I suppose I probably should have done my first socks that way. Then I would have had, before now, this warm and cozy pair of slippers.
after
(yes, I know they don't match, I ran out of yarn)
I finally finished and felted yesterday, a pair of slippers from Knit one Felt too. Today, I am wearing them thanks to the fact that my house is incredibly dry. I've gotten very casual about the felting process and so now I'm not hovering over the washer waiting and sniffing wet wool. Instead, I throw them in, wander around cleaning things until I notice the washer is stopped, and then I run a rinse cycle, spinning out the rinse cycle really aids the drying process. I used to hang out, pulling the items out every 5 minutes checking progress. I like this new relaxed style better.
Just for comparison, here is the before:
before

Since finishing these, I've had a really bad burst of starteritis (in knitting, I added lest my family think I would be starting things for them like starting to do dishes or mop floors or clean the bathrooms). I re-started my kindergarten scarf, on size seven needles (as opposed to size five). I don't think it will be nearly lacy enough, but I'm going to just deal with it. I wanted to start a drop stitch scarf with some noro silk garden I have hanging around. I actually carted three projects to my MIL's house for 90 minutes of free time. At that point, I decided I wasn't starting ANYTHING else until I had the purple striped socks done--and I only have another 2 inches of ribbing. I'm glad I set a goal or I would have started a bunch of stuff last night.

Instead, I have a plan: finish the striped socks, buy yarn tomorrow for at least one teacher gift (possibly two depending on what I find, if I don't find what I need, I'll use the silk garden), then start teacher gifts and a swatch for the sweater I'm hoping to make from my frogged sweater.

I also think I want to make another pair of these slippers. Although I'll use leftovers and they may look even more motley.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Yarn stash

So the other day, when the ladies were at school, I dug out all of the yarn I have stored upstairs and laid it all out.
stash2
I organized it by color and realized that well.... I have a lot of blue and purple yarn. I should not be allowed to buy any more blue or purple yarn. I also have a lot of pinkish colors, so really I should stick to green and red. Just in time for Christmas!
I also have an embarrassing amount of novelty yarn, some of which I've hid in the basement. But in my defense, I bought it all to use as accents on hats and gloves!

I also decided that if I'm going to be knitting for Christmas gifts for the teacher and her aide, I should get my butt in gear. To that end, I've decide that I should probably make the teacher's aide a drop stitch scarf, as suggested in a comment. I've seen her coat and have a good idea what colors to choose--and whoo hoo they are in the blues family. I do think I'd like to buy new yarn for that project, because I don't seem to have anything quite bright enough.

The main kindergarten teacher is a bit more hip, and so I was thinking about something more cool for her. Then again maybe a drop stitch scarf in my noro silk garden. At least that would clear a bit of my stash out. Although I've also toyed with knitting her an ice queen or an Abby. Perhaps I'll just let that one percolate in my head a bit more.

In the meantime, I'm starting to feel better and so stay up later, and so knit! I've finished the first slipper of a pair of felted slippers. I really want to felt it to see if it will fit after it felts, but I know if it doesn't I'll never knit the second. If it doesn't fit I'll have to find someone with smaller feet than me.

Friday, November 07, 2008

double whammy

Funny thing happened to me after Halloween, I got hit with a double whammy: time change and head cold.

Most of the time a head cold wouldn't slow down my knitting, in fact I would probably have had more time to knit because I wouldn't be doing other things. However, last week was so busy and the time changed and for some reason things didn't slow down like I thought they might.
What happened instead of knitting?
Sleeping for one. I've barely managed to be awake past 9pm any night this week. Kind of hard to get much knitting done when your prime knitting time is 8:30-10pm and you've been going to bed at 9.

I have been working on a felted slipper. By all rights I should be felting the pair this weekend, but with the time change and the cold, I have only turned the heel on the first one. Felted items knit up fast though, so maybe next weekend.

Today though I'm going to start going through my stash just to catalog it, and see what I have that might possibly work for teacher gifts this year. No one has managed to convince me that it is a foolish thing. And in fact, I'm trying to put together an entry to help me decide what it is I should be making. So if you have any ideas, leave me a comment. (I already had one idea left in another set of comments, keep them coming!)

Monday, November 03, 2008

future

I really want to start updating more than once a week.
When I finish a big project, I get on a small high and get very excited to cast things on. However, since Halloween I've been sick, so I haven't actually gotten anything cast on. Well that's not entirely true, I cast on 42 stitches for a felted slipper. For some reason my congested brain could not figure out how to join them. I ended up dropping--and don't ask me how--5 stitches not at the end, but in the middle. I decided to pull it all out and wait until my head cleared.

I have a sock going, and I'll take that to book club tonight--although I took the other sock of the pair to book club last month, and was at about the same place, so I'm sure if they remember, they'll think I don't actually knit that much.

I've also decided that my lace scarf just really probably needs to be on bigger needles. So I'll be ripping out the 6 inches I have on that and starting over. Then I have plans to swatch for a sweater. And then... well I need to do some stash organization and figure out what (if anything I own) would make good holiday presents for the teachers.

See, I have plenty to write about. Now, if I could just get over this cold.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Halloween lessons

Top ten things learned this Halloween:

10) It is probably not a great idea to give the children carte blanche on picking costumes because there are patterns that stretch my limited sewing abilities.

9) The kids will like the crowns better than the costumes.
Glenda's crown

8) Glitter glue does not stick to smooth plastic. It will dry and then peel off like rubber cement did off my fingernails in the 3rd grade.
fell off

7)Glue from a glue gun will make the glitter glue last only a tad bit longer. (the one thing glitter glue seems to stick best to--my steering wheel)

6) If I make the costumes, I should take the girls trick or treating and if at all possible, let them go at least some without coats because the compliments will make it all worthwhile.

5) No matter how creative your daughter thinks she is there will be another child dressed just like her at school (well this was true for Glenda, there were no other purple princesses) yours will be better though (wink wink).

4)Any costume made from fake crushed velvet will automatically look better than the cheap poly/cotton blend that puckered at every stitch.

3)There will always be one costume that makes you want to tear your hair out--this will be balanced by one that goes together much easier than expected (last year this was true too!).

2) It is a costume, do not get upset if it gets oh blue cupcake frosting on it.

1) It is dark or nearly so for most of what people see. The dark hides a lot of mistakes.

But I should also say--I may complain and gripe and moan about this. I may really feel cheated out of knitting time. I may even not be saving any money whatsoever by making costumes. But it was WORTH it.
halloween
(if you want to see the version with their faces, click through to flickr and add me as a contact--I've got the other marked friends only).

One lady told the girls that she gave extra candy for extra special costumes, so now the girls are already asking for what I can make them next year. Plus, seriously at least 10 people complimented me on my mad seamstress skillz--and that never happens when I knit (although it should, I knit far better than I sew outfits).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Halloween (almost ready)

Saturday morning I seriously thought the opening line for this was going to be: All the costumes are done and are excellent.

Instead I find myself with this horrid fact, the purple princess costume is nearly done, needing only a final check of the hem (long enough without being too long) and a crown, but the Glenda costume continues to plague me.
Glenda it seems is a snug fitting costume, the size 6 barely fitting my size 6 child. If that were not all, she claims the sleeves "hurt". So now Glenda needs to have the sleeve seams ripped out, sewn back in with less seam allowance and then have bias tape sewn over where the netting and fabric meet--because this I think is the main cause for the "hurt". But my Glenda daughter has a lot more in the way of "sensory issues" than her purple sister. Oh and yes, I still need to put all the appliques on Glenda too--Although I did a test and feel like I could safely glue the stars onto the netting with my hot glue gun (i.e. it didn't melt my swatch). And then I guess there is a crown for that too.
I didn't want to put up pictures until halloween, but on "fitting day" I took a few pictures:
halloween hint
haloween hint

I am having trouble deciding what to do about posting their pictures here, I generally make their pictures friends/family only on flickr (follow the link on a picture and add me as a contact!--If I recognize you I'll add you in the friend category). But after all the talk about the costumes, I feel like I need to post the finished things here. I'll figure something out.

On the knitting front, I'm having a massive case of starteritis, as cold weather is upon us here in Michigan, and I feel the deep need to be warm. I have plans for felted slippers and a sweater, not to mention that someone should slap me for thinking this, but I'd like to knit the kindergarten teacher and her aide a scarf or hat or both for Christmas. Anybody out there have any ideas for good head/shoulder covering type stuff that will look nice but not set me back more than $20 per gift?

Monday, October 20, 2008

more progress

I meant so much to write an entry before a week had elapsed. I even opened a file that I called "yarn store funnies", but I have no idea what I was going to write about.
Well, maybe I was going to write about how I took my girls to the yarn store with me, and these girls who will barely wear the sweater or socks I made for them were insisting I make them hats, socks, and purses. I am also a softee, because I figured I could make them each a felted purse. My pink girl wanted a "real" green. Purple girl insisted on a soft purple. I have LOTS of purple feltable yarn in my stash though, so I only bought green--well that and none "met her expectations about softness."

So when I knit this weekend--Friday through Sunday this is what I managed to get done:
weekend

You'll have to trust me that it is purple.

I did manage this week, to get nothing done on Glenda--although I'll be doing some hand sewing tonight during Heros because I found my Thimble. I also managed to get the zipper in on the purple princess. All I have left on that is the sleeves and the crown! (I also got some knitting on my socks done, funny how the debates have been great tv knitting time--and the irony of knitting purple during this debate is not lost of me--since I think most of the country would look purple if we could get every township to be either red or blue depending on how they voted)

We need to go and buy the materials for Glenda's crown , as I have just been informed that the crown is necessary. The crown for this princess is throwing me off--it calls for buckram and then gluing fabric to it--is there any reason I can't use double sided fusible interfacing?

Monday, October 13, 2008

another week

Seriously, after Halloween is over, I promise I'll update more often than once a week. I may even start before that, who knows though, just get through this week has been my mantra for about a month now. My life has just been so crazy busy lately, but after next Saturday it should ease up some.

I did finish something (sort of). I finished one of the purple striped socks I was working on for me.
purple sock
When it is not on my foot, it looks really weird--and you can kind of tell from the picture that it is a little snug. I din't want to give up the stripey though. I have enough yarn left over on each skein to make some shorter socks and I'll most likely do that with a few more stitches or something. Maybe bigger needles, I don't know... I love the stripe. I've cast on sock number 2 and am almost past the toe.

I still have done nothing on my lace scarf (kindergarten knitting) but am seriously thinking about what it might need-- right now I'm leaning towards slightly larger needles. I'll get back to that as soon as I finish... The costumes!

Glenda: I did most of the appliques, in that you needed to fuse interfaceing to sequin fabric, cut them out then glue sequins along the outside. The pattern calls for: one flower, two butterflies (one in each of two sizes), and 14 stars. The stars are supposed to be "randomly placed on the overskirt" but I used tulle with glitter and designs on them, so I made the executive decision that she only needed 7 stars (I didn't buy enough sequin trim). Sunday when I was away from my machine and had some time on my hands (ahem) I managed to get everythign done. So really they just need to be tacked on the dress. Go me! because it took almost two hours. I do still need to sew (or glue) them on the actual costume.

Purple princess: I started this and got as far as the collar this week before I was stymied by the instruction to "understitch as far as possible." I googled understitching, thought I had the answer (from here by the way) and went downstairs to the machine and stared at it for a while. Eventually I did print out the page, and next time I deal with the sewing room(probably right after posting this), I'll take that with me. It looks really cool and is really starting to look like an actual lcostume, that might actually get done! I am encouraged that the zipper addition (on tap for possibly later this week) will go smoothly too.

Monday, October 06, 2008

weekly update...

Another week has gone by , and I have little to show for it. Well, I did get some sewing done--even though I have no pictures. So, let's do a listing on the projects at hand and see where they are.

Glenda: I have declared Glenda done for the moment. Oh she's not done done, but I do have the zipper in (what a pain that was, let me tell you) and the collar done (ditto). The zipper I actually sewed in 4 times, because unlike a *normal* pattern, you put in the zipper almost last, meaning that I kept sewing it to the bodice. I also stepped on my portable sew table and broke it in three pieces. I did glue gun it back together, but man was I mad at myself.
Glenda, still needs a hem, and some appliqu├ęs.

Purple Princess: This is costume #2. I cut out all the pieces this week, and fused the interfacing. I need to read the directions carefully on this one, because I'd like to put in a zipper instead of the lacing and don't want a repeat of the glenda zipper fiasco. After I finish this, I'll start sewing.

Knitting
socks for me: I started a pair of purple striped socks. I did decide that I should use the size 1 needles, and decided to make them a little smaller than the gauge/size said they should be. It fits great (love love love toe up socks), and during the debate this week, I did the heel. Now it looks long and skinny and quite funny. I did start to say they, but I'm only doing one at a time.

Kindergarten scarf: oh my--I set this in my bag so it would be out of the way and did not pick it up all week. Part of my problem is that I think I need to be using larger needles as my result does not look anywhere near the laciness of the picture. I know blocking will help, but right now it would need a LOT of blocking. Am still thinking about how to proceed. Contrary to past events, I really don't want to finish it and then decided to frog it and start over. Speaking of which...

All that yarn: Is now wound into center pull balls and waiting for me to get done sewing and swatch something.

Speaking of sewing... I promised I'd only write until 10 am and that is now.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Unknitting

I wish that I could be writing this with a finished object in hand. But alas, instead of knitting, I've been mostly unkniting.
This:
me in the purple
Became this:
sweater undone

I've never liked this purple sweater--well I did like the yarn, I did like the concept, but for some reason I never liked the fit. After much debate and agony, I decided that there was only one thing to be done, frog it and make something I'll wear. I decided that about six months ago. But the other day I realized that I had a pattern that would fit this yarn, well. I don't know about the gauge, but I've made the pattern before and I think I could easily adjust for the gauge.

I've also been sewing this week and have made great progress on the dress for Glenda.
costume
I still have to put on the collar, the zipper, the hem, and some of the ornamentation. I'll probably get the zipper and collar done, then start heavy into the second costume--that way I'll get both dresses done, and if I don't get the ornamentation done before Halloween, no one will miss it. It feels so good to see some progress on this. For a long time, I felt like nothing was moving forward and like perhaps I would never get this done. Now I can see where I might actually be cutting out the second dress by this time next week.
Well whew, I'd better get back to work.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

busy not knitting

Has it really been a week? Oh man this week has been so busy that I feel like I have not done anything. I don't have any pictures either which increases that feeling. So what did I do this week--I'm glad you asked, here's a list.

On Wednesday I felt too dizzy to go running and so I sat down and typed up a chart for the lace in the lacey hug me tight shrug. I did it for Jill, and I'm quite proud of it. I've never actually typed a chart before. I can't post it here or make it available to you all, because I don't own the copyright to the pattern. I just really did it for my own personal use and I gave it to Jill because she helped me with the big needle dilemma. Well that and I know she owns the book--and really the chart should have gone with the book.

I also bought a book. Lace Style by Pam Allen and Ann Budd. I'm hoping that one of the sweaters in there will inspire me with that grey yarn. If not, well it has been on my Amazon wish list (which is now looking very puny) since forever.

I came to the conclusion with the Glenda costume, that my five year old does not need the bust darts that are in the costume, in the shape of curved piecing. Yes, I did decide this when no one I knew could get them in without puckering madly, but it doesn't make it any less true. I cut out a new piece that incorporates the side pieces, and the bodice will probably not lay right for my troubles but eh! It will be dark, she'll get frosting on it anyway. Insert witty rationalization here. While I was futzing with that I was also doing the sleeves, and I'm hoping to sew them in today. This week should be less hectic, so I'm hoping I'll be able to work more on it--only 40 days until halloween, and I still have another costume, I have not started.

I started a sock for me. Well I started two--I was trying to see if I could get the purple stripe yarn I made kids socks out of not to do the weird pooling with the striping. So I know a bit on size 1.5 needles and a bit on size 1. The 1.5s are the brittany birch and UGh dull ugh. Seems, too, that the pooling must be inevitable, as I have it on both socks. I think I'll frog the 1.5 version though. I should be knitting more socks, they are good interesting tv knitting (and Heroes starts Monday so....) and I like wearing them. Add to this the amount of sock yarn I own, and really I should be knitting more socks.

I also did maybe 4 rows on my kindergarten lace scarf. I have an extra stitch too, but it isn't noticeable, I hope.

Hopefully this week will be less busy.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

In which I whine

I've been thinking about this post for a few days now. How especially to make it sound really non-whiney.
See, I finished the socks:
done
So both girls have a pair.
socks
And I started my lace project for when I have free lace knitting time. And I wanted to start a sweater, that I could work on while I watched interesting tv. I was reading a forum or something where someone was dying to make Oblique but had yarn too thin. Well, I should never have clicked through the link because then I had the very same problem. I'd love to knit this, but I just can NOT get gauge. I'm at 3.5 inches for 17 stitches--when I need to be at 4. And NOTHING I have looked at so far is suitable. The yarn is a DK and I'd like to make a cardigan in something a little more complex than simple stockinette. Ravelry says there are over 500 items that fit this criteria. When I limit it to patterns in my library it suggests a sweater from A gathering of Lace that calls for size 3 needles (and is not clear on what I should be testing my gauge). And I think might be a little out of the league of tv watching.

But I should not be knitting at all because there are a mere 47 days until halloween (and I'm guessing costumes might be needed before that too).
costume
However, I spent an hour today in frustration trying to piece in some curves on Glenda's dress. The most frustrating part--there seem to be no reason for the curves. I could have easily made a pattern out of the pieces I cut--gluing them the way they are supposed to go and then using that for a pattern. Right now my MIL is setting in the curves as I was told that if I cried over the costume, we were going to buy costumes next year. Have I mentioned that the only year I ever bought a costume for the girls was their first halloween when I was not sleepign more than 4 hours at a time and could barely write my name, much less find a pattern. Too bad too, because baby costumes are terribly cute.

Monday, September 08, 2008

the next projects

So kindergarten is now in full swing, but the socks aren't done (yet). I only have about half a sock more to do and then, new socks for school! My knitting prowess and speed (ha) have evidently made a big impression on one of my daughters, who offered to one of her new friends that mom could make her a backpack. The backpack in question is Ayla from knitty. I made one for each of the girls a while ago in fact one of them hung in the yarn store I used to work in as a sample. I don't have a good picture of that one, but the one that started it all was this one:
purple ayla
Turns out the friend wants pink and green or something. Hope the friend isn't actually expecting the backpack.

You know how I said I wasn't knitting anything else for anyone--especially not as a Christmas present? Well, I should just stop saying things like that. I've agreed to knit one of my non-knitting friends a shrug for her mom for christmas Guess which one. You can laugh right along with me. I'm doing the lace first this time though--get through it.

I probably shouldn't, given my track record with big pronouncements, announce that now that my children (the ladies) are in school I have tons of free time. Actually I don't, but I am finding myself with the odd hour or two where the house is quiet and I do not feel like collapsing in a giant puddle. This will probably change just as soon as I say that or as soon as I tell you that I have fun and exciting things planned with that time.
First you must know that as of today there are only 53 days left before Halloween. And Halloween means.... candy and sewing! And yes, I am a nutcase, but I've already made my children decide on their costumes.
costumes

Since their tastes are running toward frilly dresses and gowns, I'd best get cracking.

But really, the reason I'm excited about quiet non sleepy time is:
lace
That's some hand dyed by me Knit picks Bare, lace weight. I'm hoping it is a good substitute for Alpaca Cloud. I'm also hoping it doesn't look too clown-like since it is one of my first dyed efforts and I went a bit crazy on the colors. I did think that this lace project would be fairly easy so I could theoretically do this during my less than awake times and would be good to do in the odd hour or two I have. That is when I'm not making costumes.

You can tell I'm not little miss suzy homemaker, because I never once thought to myself--Ahh now I will have time to clean my house!

Monday, September 01, 2008

socks socks socks

I think I might be on a sock kick.

I was working on toe up socks for me from Knit picks Dancing. And I finished those.
socks
Then I decided that I'd make some socks for my daughters. I started with the daughter who loves pink and who had picked out some pink stripey cascade fixation. It is a bit thicker and really knit up fast. I finished those in four days. FOUR. I don't have a picture yet though because it is still on my camera. She wanted them short, so I guess that helped.

Then the daughter who loves purple has some Lorna's laces Purple stripe that I bought 18 months ago for her (stash much?). I started those last night and have a decent amount done on the first toe. I think they were both hoping they'd be done before school started but, eh, not going to happen.

I can't really tell exactly why I am so enamored with this toe up sock. I liked socks ok from the cuff down. And when I first learned to make them I made... well three pairs much like I am now--one for me and one for each of the girls. I just don't remember liking them as much. I think what I'm enjoying is the short row heel, which just seems to give a heel with little fuss and no picking up stitches and then decreasing or heel flaps or any of that other nonsense. Perhaps I'll have to learn to do a cuff down short row heel, and see if I like that.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Finished object!

Ok, so I whine a lot--and perhaps only have a few readers only two who bothered to chime in to help me out with my decision, and one of them I browbeat into giving me her opinion (thanks Jenn) in real time. I've made a decision too, but you'll have to wade through my finished object report to find out what it was. As for Jill... I'll have to think of a nice something for her by the next knit night.

I finished the lacey hug me tight shrug. The pattern is from Knit 2 Together. I used Elle Aran gold yarn--2 skeins and 3 skeins of Ella Rae Bamboo silk.. I used size 7 needles for the body and 10.5 for the lace. The body part went together fast, but the lace part just dragged for me. Part of the problem was that the lace pattern made no discernible "pattern" for me. So I charted it, and only worked on it when I could give it more attention than the things around me. Then I ran into big trouble.

It pains me to admit this, because the next series of problems were caused by my own pride. You see, I didn't pay attention to the instructions. The instructions say that you should cast on 19 stitches and follow the lace pattern until the piece reaches 60 inches, then bind off. (then it goes on to tell you to only make one lace piece for the armholes, which is clearly a mistake, which I may actually blame for my own stupidness in what comes next). Did I do this? Well, I did the lace part, but I just kept going, thinking I had to make it long enough to go around the outside of the shrug--forgetting that 2X2 rib will um stretch. In fact ribbing such as that stretches so as to never quite be the same diameter any two times I measured. After approx. 72 inches of lace, I decided to be done. I blocked it, and I sewed it on.

What happened is that I also failed to follow the next direction which clearly said--pin the darn thing together BEFORE sewing.

So 72 inches didn't go all the way around. And then I ran out of yarn.

I tried it on and was immediately overwhelmed with lacey ruffleness. My impression was ewww I'll never wear this. I set it aside thinking then, that perhaps I'd never finish it. Then someone asked about it at knit night and I realized that hey, I should finish this for all my complaining. So I ripped off the lace I had sewed on. I measured out 60 inches, and marked it. Then I pinned (with approx. 30 gazillion pins) it on, easing it in so that I stopped at or near my 60 inch marker. THEN I sewed. I did decide not to mess with the sleeves, which were about 15 inches instead of the required 12.
The result is much better. Who knew that the directions might actually provide some useful advice?
I had my daughters take some pics (with their cameras, so sorry about the quality)--click on the picture to see more pictures.
me in my shrug

I've worn it three times already. I love it. So much so I think it earns the rare--I'd knit it again designation. Only next time--I'm so doing it in the Blue sky Alpaca Silk it recommends.

And my decision? Well... size 2 in the rosewood. I'm still thinking might have rather had the 1.5s, and I did have to special order, so 2s it is. I can't wait.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Quandary

Yes, I'm still chugging along on the shrug--I'm finding some problems that are making me about scream, but I'm still hanging in there. Still working on the second toe up sock too. But today dear readers, I have a quandary I need your help with.

It is about double point needles (dpn). I know some people hate hate hate them. Me, I like them. And in socks, I like them to be fairly short. I have some six inch long ones I tolerate, but really I like the ones I have that are 5-5.5 inches long. I have the following:
clover size 0, 5 inches long
clover size 1, 5 inches long
Brittany Birch size 1.5, 5 inches long (I HATE these not pointy enough)
Unicorn Books size 1.5, 6 inches long
Clover size 2, 7 inches long. (way too long for me)

Now, I knit socks fairly regularly. I wouldn't say that's ALL I knit, but in the plans right now I have a pair for each daughter, and probably one for me too. So three pairs I'll most likely make before the end of 2008.

I confess that I avoid using the size 2s because of length and find myself either with the 1 or the 1.5s. I might use the size 2 more if I had a smaller set.

Now here's the big deal: every time I go to a yarn store, I look for 5 inch dpns. Last Monday, I asked the wonderful Sally at Apple Valley if they had any. Well they had some 6 inch ones on the wall. And then I noticed they also had sox stix. When I teased Sally for not pointing those out she said--I know you--you won't spend $20+ on needles--especially needles you already own. And she's partially right. Ok she's totally right. But seriously, I almost have in the past. Plus, they didn't have any size 2 but Sally said if I was serious she'd see if they could order or get them from the other store (in Clare).
Well I came home and babbled on to Husband about how neat it would be to have some and wouldn't rosewood feel just great to knit with and then his eyes glazed over. I ended it with, "before you zone out they are called Sox Stix and they'd make a good gift".

Tuesday was a normal day, except that I decided to list on Amazon all the textbooks* I had cluttering up my knitting book shelf (I've done this before and usually August and Jan are good times to do it). By Wednesday am, I had sold 6 of 9 and have since sold the seventh. I e-mailed the man with a hey hey I sold $150 worth of books! He e-mailed me back saying--Monday buy yourself some of those stix thingies.

Here's my quandary should I:
1) buy myself size 1.5
a) rosewood
b) ebony
2) buy myself size 2
a) rosewood
b) ebony
3)buy myself $20 in yarn instead at the lys

4)go a little over and buy myself enough knitpicks Cotlin for the dollar and a half cardigan

5) buy myself some frosting food coloring and a few hanks of bare and dye my own yarn.
or 6) other (please explain)

Tell me in the comments what YOU think I should do. And hey if you want the Brittany Birch needles--tell me that too, because if I get enough comments I might be able to put together a "prize" for some random person--I'll have to take a closer look at my stash first (oh and it might include fabric too).

I just read this over and thought that it makes me sound really um dependent upon my husband for money and such, which is not really true. It is just that both of us have in the past two years tried really hard to cut back on the non-necessary. We're trying to be more thrifty. Plus I'm just really indecisive.

*textbooks that the man is done with, after he's done he puts them on my shelf.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

socks and lace oh my

You know-It seems like I should have updated more recently, especially when I finished a sock and one of my daughters said--you should take a picture of that and put it on your blog!
So of course I oblige:
toe up

That's the first toe up sock. I used a bind off described in Knitting Daily but I don't think I like it. On sock #2 I'll do a sewn bind off and if I like that, I'll ripout the bind off on sock #1 and sew it in. I'm liking the toe up method--in fact I have 2 more pairs planned (and neither is for me. So much for my everything I'm knitting from here on out is for me).

But wait! I was asked if I indeed had ever finished the lacey hug me tight. The answer is... sort of. I had finished all the lace before I left for Illinois. But I didn't block it. so I blocked it when I came home and went to sew it on last night and discovered... wait for it... that the lace around the armholes wasn't long enough. I'm knitting longer on one piece, and I'm... I'm not sure on the other piece, it is only short by maybe an inch. I also might be too long on the lace around the whole shrug, but I have an answer for that too--I'll just start at the cast on end and unravel what I don't need and re-bind it off. Clever. eh? Now If I could only tell which side was the bound off side.... I think this has made me even more determined to finish it.

socks and lace oh my

You know-It seems like I should have updated more recently, especially when I finished a sock and one of my daughters said--you should take a picture of that and put it on your blog!
So of course I oblige:
toe up

That's the first toe up sock. I used a bind off described in Knitting Daily but I don't think I like it. On sock #2 I'll do a sewn bind off and if I like that, I'll ripout the bind off on sock #1 and sew it in. I'm liking the toe up method--in fact I have 2 more pairs planned (and neither is for me. So much for my everything I'm knitting from here on out is for me).

But wait! I was asked if I indeed had ever finished the lacey hug me tight. The answer is... sort of. I had finished all the lace before I left for Illinois. But I didn't block it. so I blocked it when I came home and went to sew it on last night and discovered... wait for it... that the lace around the armholes wasn't long enough. I'm knitting longer on one piece, and I'm... I'm not sure on the other piece, it is only short by maybe an inch. I also might be too long on the lace around the whole shrug, but I have an answer for that too--I'll just start at the cast on end and unravel what I don't need and re-bind it off. Clever. eh? Now If I could only tell which side was the bound off side.... I think this has made me even more determined to finish it.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

traveling

For the next week, I'll be traveling to visit my mom. Usually, i like these visits if for no other reason than 13 hours in the car is some serious knitting time. This time, however, I'll be doign all the driving, as the man will be staying home--so no serious 13 hour knitting stretch, because I haven't figured out how to drive and knit at the same time.

Before I go, I'm going to really push to finish that lace on the lacey hug me tight. I'll do it too as I really only need to knock out maybe a dozen rows. I'll block it so that when I get back I'll have some sewing to do. I think I'd probably find the Olympics to be good Lace knitting TV, if I were watching them. I'm not though because (ho hum) I really don't find them that exciting.

Speaking of Olympics, I've decided not to do the Ravelympics. I was debating it right up to the end, but in the end decided to sit this one out. I'd like to say that I was taking a high road on the human rights record of China or some other geopolitical reason (free Tibet). But the reality is that as much as I like having a knitting blog that uses the word geopolitical, I really didn't have a project that I thought would work well for it. Especially given that I'll be driving for 3 days of the time.

This doesn't mean that there won't be knitting! I've decided I really for reasons I can not even explain, enjoy making these toe up socks.
sock update
I initially had planned to make them as long as the yarn would allow. After several days of deliberation (every night I asked my husband, how long should I make those socks), I decided I don't really want these socks to be that long. In reality, I like most of my socks to be as long as these socks are now. I think I'll make them a bit longer and then start the next sock. Also, Im bringing another skein of sock yarn as a back up project (on the off chance I finish both socks).
lorna's laces
I haven't decided if that sock will be for me or for my purple loving daughter, and really I have enough of that color to make both a pair for me, a pair for her and perhaps a bunch of leftover. The only problem with making my daughter a pair of purple socks, is that it means I'll have to get some yarn that will satisfy her sister. I know I have a lot of sock yarn and none of it is pink.

Perhaps when I get back, I'll be in the mood to knit something else.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

plugging away

So, I'm plugging away on the lace and I have the long piece --the part that goes around the outside, done and blocking--and well it should be dry by now. I have one arm piece done, I'm doubting it is actually long enough, but I'm calling it done--I'll block it tonight or tomorrow. I cast on for the second of the two and have about 2 inches knit on this.

I've done lace before and I've never had anything quite like this. The pattern isn't symmetrical since it is worked side to side. There isn't any pattern repeats and the number of stitches changes every right side row. It is only 12 rows but it makes such little sense to me, I can't memorize it. Ironically, I'd like to start another lace project soon, I guess I just need to make it my quiet time project.

On the sock front, everyone told me that the best part about toe up socks was being able to try them on as you went. I was not however able to do that because for some reason my foot didn't fit in. This really upset me because I was worried that it might not fit me. In the end, I decided to be zen about it and decided that if it didn't fit me, it would fit someone, and I'd give them away.
Then it hit me, it wouldn't fit not because of the sock, but because of the needles! So if I try it on while I'm halfway through what the instructions say are needle two, it will fit on my foot.
toe up sock

Today I actually marked where two inches from where my heel is--on my heel, so I could try it on and get it right. Sadly this heel turn will be a new technique also so probably no tv watching while I do that either.

Friday, August 01, 2008

unmotivated

I'm having trouble staying motivated in a lot of areas of my life right now. And my knitting is being symptomatic of that. I feel as if I've been knitting this same lace pattern forEVER for the Lacey Hug me tight. I even dared to bring it to knit night although I added a lifeline (or two) and had to use one. If you've never used a lifeline when knitting lace, it is a godsend. Basically you use a cotton yarn (like sugar and cream) and you run it under your needles at a certain point. If you have to rip out, the cotton will hold that row of stitches. So if you remember at what point you put in the lifeline, you can rip back to that point and start again. When you finish you can pull the lifeline out.
Lacey hug me
Now, I have done a bit more on it and have decided it is done. Now to block it. I also need to knit some small versions for around the armholes then start sewing. Ironically, now that is is almost done, I don't want to work on it, I want to put it away for a long time.

I want to start another big project, but part of me doesn't want to until I finish the lace. I'd like it to be a little simpler--for optimal TV knitting, but not something all stockinette stitch. I was thinking about the dollar and a half cardigan from Interweave Knits. I have grey yarn in a wool acrylic blend that might work, but I must swatch to be sure. I'm not feeling motivated to swatch. Not at all. But I know if I do swatch it, I can finish the lace while I'm letting the swatch dry (not blocked exactly, more like washed like I'll wash the sweater).

Sometimes when I am unmotivated in other areas of my life, learning something new or challenging myself will help me kick it into gear. I've also been thinking about my stash as of late. I should do an entry on my stash. Anyway, I have a ton of sock yarn, because sock yarn is easy to buy a skein or two and do something useful with it. Up to this point, I've only ever knit socks from the top down on double pointed needles. But there are a ton of ways to knit socks: top down, toe up, on DPNs or magic loop or two at a time on circular needles or even a tiny circular needle. So it makes sense to try to break out of my unmotivated rut by attempting one of these techniques. Since I need this NOW NOW NOW, I can't wait for a class. Enter the stash of knitting magazines--and so using an Interweave knits article I have taught myself a new cast on and have started some socks from the toe up:
sock

Still it remains to be seen if the motivation will come back.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

finished objects

Finally I have some finished objects to write about!
Last weekend, I decided that since we were going to go visit my mom for the weekend, it might be nice if I kicked it up a gear with the monkey socks, which were for her. So I set aside the lace for the lacey-hug me tight and cranked out the socks.
monkey socks
It is really hard to take a picture of your own socks. Especially if you don't want to get out the tripod.
One complaint I've heard about this design is that the multicolored yarn hides it. And based on the pictures, I'd agree. But in person they look rather textured. I like them but I'm so sick of the pattern that I don't see myself making another pair anytime soon. The yarn is regia bamboo colors, which my mom bought to make herself some socks. She got tired of trying to learn socks and gave me the yarn--so she's getting the socks after all.
Of course now we aren't going this weekend, because my step-father is ill, but the socks are done!

The other day I was complaining to my husband that I've never knit for him. He doesn't think he'd like handknit socks--poor man, he doesn't like sweaters, although he will wear cardigans sometimes, but he has three and that's enough thanks. He has a hat and doesn't wear scarves. he prefers his leather gloves. Then he said--What about my ipod sock? A month ago he got an ipod for a birthday present (from everyone ever) and has been asking for some sort of container since. Well I got out my leftover Felici and in one day knit him this puppy. I don't think I've ever knit anything in one day before.
ipod case

So now, I guess I'd better get working on that lace. But I'm still having the issue of having to have a tv show that isn't action-packed, or that takes any thinking in order to finish it. And I've got a fresh disk of the 4400.

I see more socks in my future.

Friday, July 18, 2008

TV knitting

Most of the time, I only knit when I watch tv. In part because that's mostly when I have the time--the girls are in bed, the house is quiet and most of the daily chores are done and I'm too tired to do things that aren't. It works, in that I get a little time every day and it helps me unwind a bit, Plus I can't eat and knit at the same time, so I don't mindlessly snack. It doesn't work in that usually by that time, I'm tired and my attention is split between the tv and knitting. Sometimes, the split isn't a big deal--I can do garter or stockinette with out paying close attention. I can even do a simple pattern repeat if it makes sense to me. Sometimes the show that's on doesn't require I stare at the screen.

We also only have basic cable, meaning we don't get Disney or Bravo or Food TV or anything like that. We do get Netflix, mostly TV shows, but by and large we don't watch a great quantity of tv. My daughters get an hour every day, which we'll probably revisit when school starts up in earnest (like when they start going all day instead of mornings). They watch whatever PBS show is on at 4pm or if they've asked for me to tape something else. Sometimes I watch with them, but more likely I make dinner.

I say all this, really just to say that lately I've noticed that if we aren't really watching anything or if we're watching one of the shows we occasionally tune in for, I can knit on the lace for Lacey hug me tight. If we are watching our netflix offering or some "must watch tv" I'll mess the lace up every time. BUT, I can do the Monkey socks while something exciting is on.

Initially, I thought I needed a "plain" project for the "keep your eyes on the screen" tv, but I think I just need something less random than the lace. Which is really too bad, because I'm finding myself wanting to do more and more lace projects. I guess I'll just have to figure out how to find some non-tv knitting time.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

yarn yarn yarn

I have been thinking that perhaps I am just not meant to actually knit on Mondays. Last monday I spent all of my knitting time unravelling a huge mess in my Regia bamboo sock yarn. This monday I had to rip back about a foot of lace from my Lacey Hug me tight shawl. The story is this--I went to lay out the lace I had to see how much more I needed to knit. Then I thought I'd take a picture for the blog. Then I realized that I didn't have the right side up. Then I turned it and realized I still didn't have the right side up, then realized this was because the last eight inches were all done backwards meaning I had lost my place in the rows and thus done one row twice or skipped a row. It took the rest of the foot to actually pick up every stitch and figure out roughly which row I'm on.
Lacey hug me tight

About two weeks ago, I had thought that it might be a good idea to start some stash management. My plan was that starting July 1, I would not buy any new yarn and instead knit on the yarn in my stash. I had thought July 1 to January 1 would be a good goal. Then there was the trip to Ann Arbor. I met up with Karen and she took me to Busy Hands, A yarn shop I never would have found on my own--mainly because I would not have known to wander in the building it was in. All I can say is that I'm really glad I did not tell anyone I wasn't buying any yarn because otherwise I'd have a lot of 'splainin to do because they had Malabrigo silky merino as their yarn of the month and two skeins of purple needed me. The picture just doesn't catch the purple-ness of the yarn.
malabrigo
Any ideas about what to do with 300 yards of yummy goodness?
I also bought some bamboo sock yarn. I have plans for this one--might not get made for a while, But I do have plans.
On your toes
Somehow Karen resisted the lure of the malabrigo, but she too was swayed by the bamboo sock yarn. It is some serious softness. If she makes it back up here any time soon, I'll take her to Apple Valley Yarn--because turnabout is fair play.

Anyway, so now I'm going to try to not buy any yarn for a while. Or not, you know, whatever.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

shrug

I've been a bad blogger lately. I wish I could say, I have not been writing because I've been super busy knitting. This is not the case.

Yes, I did cast on the second Monkey sock. But then I spent about 4 hours untangling the horrid mess that came out of the yarn ball. And even then I ended up slicing a piece of it--in error of course I thought it was a fuzz tangle and it was indeed a knot. I've been trying to knit it in the 45 minute swimming lessons. I think today I got three rounds in the lace pattern in. At this rate it will take me... um a lot more swimming lessons.

I also started work on a shrug. I even took a picture of that project with the intention of writing about it. It is Lacey Hug me tight from Knit 2 together. The plan was to knit the body in a cream yarn that I had in stash (and I do believe I still have enough for the sweater I originally bought it for) and then knit the lace edging in the green yarn I got for mother's day. Well, I needed to swatch both the lace pattern and the body. The body so that I could get a good fit, the lace, so I could figure out what size needles made the lace look the best. The body part went fine, I swatched on both size 6 and size 7 needles. Got gauge on the 6 and felt good about the fabric. Then I started the lace. Whoo boy, I could not follow the pattern for anything. Plus nothing looked right. Of course, when you can't even finish one repeat of the lace, it is hard to tell how it's looking. Finally I settled on size 10.5 needles. I also decided it might be easier if I charted the pattern. And lo and behold, for some reason I can follow the chart I made but could not follow: k5, yo, k2tog, k3, skp. I didn't even chart properly--since I made every row go right to left instead of having he Rs rows go left to right. But still I can read it and it is working for me.
So after I took the picture, I didn't write about it and then, I finished the body part. And sewed it together. I was quite skeptical of how something that was rectangular could become shrug-like and fit. And yet it does. So now I should take a picture of the shrug sans lace. I also have about 2 feet of lace done (the pattern says make 5 feet of lace) and I'm not sure how this floppy bamboo silk yarn is going to look as lace edging to what seems a sturdy shrug. But because I also couldn't see how a rectangle could end up as a sweater-like object, I've decided to preserver. Although initially, I thought a smaller lace around the edge would look better and perhaps I'd do the patterned lace just for the arms. but if I change my mind, the lace will make a decent scarf.

So that's where I am. And given that it took me three blocks of writing time (10 minutes each) to bang this out, I should post and go to bed.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

updates

I thought that this might be a good time to do a few "updates' to some
previous posts. Perhaps answer some comment based questions too.

Cinnamonamon said in regards to my entry on making jam that it looked really easy. And I guess I just wanted to say that indeed it is. Perhaps the hardest parts are mashing the berries, but only if you do this by hand, and stirring the pectin in for three minutes. This year I did one cup by hand, and the second cup with the hand blender--I'm hoping that this will cause the jam to be sufficiently chunky while saving me a bit of arm soreness. And this year I let my children do some of the stirring. Given that this year I've made four batches of strawberry and will most likely make one batch of peach (and trust me peach is harder to mash), the more arm saving I can do the better.

I would say though, if you are thinking about making some jam--NOW is the time to do strawberry. In January, when you pull out a container that tastes just like spring, you'll thank me. Unless of course you live in the southern hemisphere--in which case, never mind.

In regards to my yoga
socks post
, Kniterella asked if I'd gotten to wear them to class yet. Well... sort of. See usually I go to a class called "slow flow" which sounds easy (or you know vaguely dirty), but really it is about moving from pose to pose with the breath. I like it because I'm used the the routine, and yet I can challenge myself with the poses. But the class is only two days a week, and usually I make sure I have at least one of those days free it is totally drop in) so that I can go at least once a week. The past few weeks though I have been so busy that I've had to schedule things (like work and playdates etc) into "yoga time". But I did have a morning free and there happened to be a class that was billed as a step up from "Slow flow" and it took passes. I thought I could probably handle it so I went, and I wore my yoga socks. The room was so hot though that I ended up taking them off just for a small respite. I should have left them on to test the effects on sweaty feet because after the class I looked like I had run a few miles.
Next class I promise. Also--that class kicked my butt--and I was sore for two days afterwards--a painful reminder to keep my slow flow mornings free.

I also wanted to update on the stuffed animals I made. The pig is still very much loved and occasionally toted around the house. The panda has been relgated to the panda shelf where it looks out over the other pandas--something like 13 at this point. But then I knew that would happen--no Panda is going to replace her favorite--Stillwater is her name.

I have been knitting, even though I have not made it to the LYS knit night lately. I almost went this week, but had the bad knitter mojo combo of not having everyone home for dinner by 5:15 and not having a project in a good "chat" mode--so I ran instead. I'll try for next week--even if I have to cast on a simple sock--although I could cast on the second Monkey sock because the first inch of ribbing isn't hard just after you get to the charts that it gets iffy. Must find a way to make that sock more portable, I have places to go this summer. Starting a simple sock would make it harder for me to finish the Monkey socks.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Jam

There is actual knitting being done--I promise. But I'm not going to talk about knitting today, I'm going to talk about jam.
I've only been making jam for two summers. And I was afraid at first to tell my mom I was making jam because when I started knitting she said to me, next thing I know you'll be making jam! As if I was some suzy homemaker instead of just stressed and twitchy with an unhealthy love of strawberries. So last summer, I had a bunch of really good berries and a taste for my husband's aunt's freezer jam. So I called her and asked for her recipe (since she was no longer growing strawberries and probably no longer making the jam). She laughed and said--I just follow the recipe on the certo box. Go buy yourself some certo. She insisted I get the liquid.
certo box

I've only had two batches of jam NOT set. One batch was a batch of peach last year in which I used Ball brand pectin and one batch of strawberry this year in which I used a different measuring cup for the berries (it was larger and I think less accurate). The certo is good stuff. I highly recommend the certo!

I thought that I'd actually photodocument the process so that I'd make sure I was following the directions after that first unset batch. So--here is how I make freezer strawberry jam.
First--Start with some good berries, I recommend your local farmer's market or U-Pick place. The recipe says you'll need a pint, but it varies for me--somewhere between a quart and a quart and a half. Usually I buy the flat and we eat and jam and we all are happy.
whole berries

Then you wash and cut the berries up--discard the stems of course. This is my smaller measuring cup.
berries

Then you get to mash or Blend the berries. You want chunks, but you also want juice. I usually use my potato masher. This year I also tried the hand blender too. I wouldn't do it solely with the hand blender I don't think, but after a cup of berries, my arms were tired of mashing. The pre-mash picture though is my favorite--looks very arty.
mash

At any rate you need to get 2 cups of mashed up juicy berries. I usually do one cup at a time, and pour them into a large bowl. Then you add the sugar. Four cups of sugar. And don't skimp. Like the directions say--you want less sugar use the low sugar formulas--you want no sugar--don't make jam. I add them one cup at a time, and stir it in well. At this point you are supposed to set it aside for 10 minutes. I usually gather up containers and keep the kids out of it. Trust me, this tastes so good at this point--like strawberry syrup.

Then I mix up the certo and two tablespoons of lemon juice. The directions say to use a real lemon. I use juice from a bottle. This then gets poured into the strawberry sugar mix.
certoadd

Then you stir this for three minutes. My girls help. Sometimes it starts to feel like it is setting before the three minutes are up. usually this step makes me so hungry.

Then you spoon it into containers, cover them and let them sit for 24 hours (or until they are set and you need counter space). I use both 1 cup containers and 1/2 cup containers (that I used to use for baby food when my husband made all the baby food). I call this the "tower of power"

tower of power

I've found that if it is going to set, it will within a few hours. And I've found that if you follow the instructions, it will set. My only problem using certo was I believe caused by too much strawberry in the strawberry sugar ratio. My biggest clue for that--it took almost 3 quarts of berries.
Anyway, you can freeze this for a year--I usually thaw in the fridge. Use the thawed within three weeks. I've made three batches of strawberry this year that have set. I think I'm done until peach season.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yoga socks

I finished the yoga socks. And even got brave and posted a picture on flickr.
yoga Socks

I do think that the key to avoiding the ickies is in your tags. (or as the librarian in me says--subject headings are the access points!)

Anyhow, I promised I would explain yoga socks, although I must say--I've been doing yoga for four years and I've never found the need for socks. The idea is, that in yoga, you need to have bare feet in order to balance properly and stick to your mat so that your feet don't slip out from under you while you are in say down dog pose. My hands actually get slicker than my feet, but that's neither here nor there.
Ok, so you don't want your feet to slip, but perhaps your feet get chilly, or sweaty. enter the yoga sock--which is essentially a sock--one that would absorb sweat--because it is wool (yay wool) and yet would let your toes and heels have contact with the mat (or floor) giving you an extra sense of balance.
Yoga Sock

I'll confess that I didn't come up with the idea--and actually if you google yoga socks, you'll find links to socks with non slip grippies on them, similar to kids slippers. The idea being that you might not want to prance around your dirty yoga studio barefoot. I saw in namaste knitters ( Ravelry group I belong to) someone mention that they had made a pair from a pattern and I thought they were cool. I also thought I could make up my own pattern.
And I did. They don't of course look exactly like the pattern, but that's ok, if I wanted them to look exactly like that, I would have purchased the pattern. Instead I took my one ball of Knit Picks felici and worked up a toeless and heel-less sock. Seeing how much yarn I had leftover, I figure I might have been able to make two short socks out of the one ball, but live and learn, I'm sure they'll make nice baby socks or something.
I'll have to wait until my next yoga class--and who know when that will be because I'm having trouble remembering to leave myself space for the class I like to take (my studio is all drop-in)--to find out if they work.

I also managed to finish the first Monkey Sock and take a very bad picture of it.
Monkey Socks

I did not cast-on for the second monkey sock and went a record 24 hours with absolutely NOTHING on the needles. That's twice in one month that I've been without something on the needles, the world may be coming to an end.
But please don't worry--I've rectified the matter... details later.