Thursday, December 23, 2010

Holiday knitting

I have given away all the necklaces. Here are the ones I made for my co-workers.

They seemed to like them. I also gave the teachers theirs and they seem to have been appreciated. Then I went and bought some new beads.

But, beaded crochet isn't a good "travel" project. I put travel in quotes because travel projects are good if you are traveling a long way or just down the street for holiday stuff. I always think it is good to have a small easily memorizable patterned thing when visiting with people. And the week after christmas is going to be big on this knit and chat type project, so I was trying to finish up a few things so I could get well and easily started on my "talking" or "traveling" or whatever you would call it knitting.

So I finished my leftover socks. I didn't know if I would have enough yarn. I didn't but was only 4 rounds away, so I just made the second sock a little shorter. (Would have stunk to have run out of yarn in the middle of the post turkey talk!)

This way I can wear them over the holidays.

I also want to finish my shawl before Christmas--and get something new started, for my talking knitting. It has about 4 maybe 5 more rows left.

Instead of baking this year, I seem to be doing all this knitting. It is kind of too bad because I have a few things I love to make at Christmas, and this year I skipped them to make socks. Ah well, probably better for my waistline to be making socks than spiced pecans.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

back to knitting

It isn't all beaded crochet around here.  Although I did see a website for bead weaving and that looked cool, and so I don't think my beading days are over.

But I need to get back to my knitting.

I am having a problem with a pair of socks. see I decided to make a pair of short socks from some yarn I dyed last year... well leftover yarn.  And as you might imagine, I don't have quite enough.  So, of course being hand dyed yarn there is NOTHING that I can do about it

Wellt he only thing I can do about it is to use a different yarn to finish the second sock. So that should be entertaining. I just need to decide what I have that will work.

In the meantime, I finally decided what to do with some yarn my MIL brought me from Ireland

I don't have a tag, so I don't know the brand or the color-way or anything really. I know it is wool, has an interesting texture, and is a little difficult to work with. I decided to just make a garter stitch shawl using an old dishcloth pattern. You cast on 3, knit 1 yo knit to the end, every row until it gets big enough, then I can't remember the decreases to make it a dishcloth. Instead I'll just bind off when it gets big enough.

yarn close

I don't know if it will work, but it has been fun.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


I have made 12 beaded crochet necklaces.  That's 36 strands and roughly 1000 beads.  I only really started feeling a slowdown around eleven and I think that's because my bead supply is dwindling.  I'm entirely out of white beads, running low on purple and blue and clear but have a ton more green and black.  I got the green and black at Joann's and I think if I do this again (who am I kidding when I do this again) I'll get the beads there because for $4 I got a ton.

What am I doing with all these necklaces? Well, I'm giving them ALL away.  So far I've given away two.  One to my best friend and one to my hair um artist her card says.  Of course I started with one for the teacher and one for the teacher's aide.  (that's 4 in case you lost count) I made one for each of my daughters (6) and one for each of the six people in my department (12).

Initially, number 12 was going to be for me.  I made it the day my book club was going out for Christmas dinner and wore it.  Then I started on number 13 and realized that with the limited beads I have left that it looks very much like one I already made.  So, I decided to be THAT person and give away the one I wore. I also hope I'm right in the number of people in my department, I feel like I'm missing someone.  So. I'll be boxing those up early so I can have time to think.

Then I'll have to think about what to make for myself.

Monday, November 22, 2010


I think I'm addicted. Addicted to beaded crochet of all things.

It started out as a neat idea to give the teachers, something non scarf, not because I have any objection to scarves really, but more because I'm not really all that inspired at the moment by scarves--wait a month I'll be cranking out scarves like mad. and then it sort of got out of control.

First there were the swatches, and then:
teacher gift
And then:
teacher gift

Seriously, I had two teacher gifts in less than a week.  Turns out I can knock out 3 strings of a necklace in about 90 minutes.  So my teacher gifts were done, but I couldn't stop. 

green and black

I have two different types of metallic threads, but I like the dandyline in the top pictures the best.


I've already been to the craft stores twice since this project started, and I'm sure I'll be back for more dandyline.  And gold clasps.  And maybe just more clasps because I was teh dumb and bought 4.  I mean really, what was I thinking?  That I'd be able to stop with 4?
I think it might be the beads

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Usually about this time of year I start to get all excited about Christmas knitting. The last few years I have knit scarves for my girls' teachers. ANd then last year I made a pair of socks for my MIL. At the end of the Christmas season I wished I had whipped up a few scarves for my co-workers. This year I was determined to start earlier and do that very thing. Um yeah. Let's just say this year, I don't really feel the need to knit everyone I work with a scarf. It isn't that I don't like them, I just don't want to spend the money. Ok and I've been feeling tired lately at the end of the day and the thought of such pressurized knitting fills me with dread.

But that's not to say I won't be knitting some gifts! In fact I've already started (and finished) a few. LAst year my girls got American girl dolls for Christmas, and while they don't "play" with them exactly, they do like dressing them up. So this year after browsing the catalog--and realizing that the scarf trend that is so popular with adults is trickling down to the dolls, I decided the dolls needed scarves. And hats:


All this is cascade fixation done one size 4 or 5 needles. Fours I think.
I did measure the heads and worked up enough stitches to go around based on gauge, which was about 52.


The one doll is sporting a complicated updo (as seen in a doll magazine--it had directions so of course we had to do it...) and the hat doesn't fit over her head. It will fit when her hair is down though.

I have no idea this year if the girls' teacher is a scarf appreciator. Last year I figured if the teacher wasn't, she had a teenage daughter who might be. This year, there are no teenage daughters. Also complicating this year is that the aide in their classroom (who is there to help one boy but she really does more) was also the aide in their kindergarten classroom. So I already made her a scarf. And even though she has a new coat this year, I know she knits--AND I gave her the pattern for her scarf (she asked). So I figured a scarf wouldn't quite do.

Enter a quick look around ravelry and Lo and behold, I discovered you can crochet beaded necklaces. I'm following the directions here. I'm really happy so far:


I think I need more and bigger beads though. Who knows, maybe I'll end up making necklaces for my co-workers too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

the fall

In the middle of the Halloween costume craziness, my daughters decided they wanted to be brownies. After attending the first meeting and being handed the uniform order forms I has a small gasp of sticker shock. The whole kit for vest/patches etc retails around $50. Take that times 2 and well... let's just say I had a moment of quiet contemplation.

I went home, and after researching it out--the patches totaled $15 each, the vest was $16 and the rest was made up of books, I decided there must be a cheaper way. I looked on ebay, I asked around, and in the end, I scanned a bunch of pattern books. Because really--$16 for a brown vest? The downfall of me, was when I said--how hard can this be? In the end, I found that Mccall's pattern M6229 has a view that is roughly the same shape. I got the pattern for $1 on sale at Joanne's and then went looking for fabric. I found some for $6 a yard, and bought 3 yards. I also bought a bunch of bias tape, but in the end, I didn't use it. So, for $17 I was ready to make 2 vests.

Well, this is about the time I realized that the vest pattern was only partially lined, and I was thinking fully lined (although for the record, official brownie vests are not lined at all). So I thought I'd just make mine fully lined, I've done a vest like that before, and thought I remembered how it should go. So I cut out the 2 pattern pieces 4 times and set to work.

The first vest, went together really nice until I sewed the lining to the outside. Let's just say that the way *I* had it it would have no armholes. I could not for the life of me figure out how I had done this before. Looking at the vest I had made, I could not figure out how to do it. After a day of fretting and ripping, I finally thought to look to see if I had kept the pattern. I had and after looking at the instructions, it was very clear what I had done wrong.

The second vest took only an hour to put totally together.

But the vests also took some handsewing--on the sides, which was how they got turned inside out. And again, I had to remember how to sew slightly invisibly those seams together.
So, ok it isn't much of a fall, but you would think that two vests could not take 3 days to sew. And then the patches! The patches are ironed on, but they need to be sewed down still. And I didn't foresee that my homemade vests would need some sort of label so that girls could tell them apart.

The official vest:

My versions:

Sunday, November 07, 2010

pride goeth before the dfall

You know the saying, Pride goeth before the fall? This here, this is the pride:

the public view

I don't know if I've ever been more proud of my sewing skills. Not only did I manage to pull off a frog costume, I managed to shorten it in a fairly non-distracting way. I think you can see where I had to make cuts, but it doesn't distract from the overall look. And then! And then I made a dress. A real dress that actually fits and doesn't look costumey (like ariel as a bride and Glenda). Also in those last two, I can really see all my mistakes. Honestly, I pull it off, but I can see saggy hems and threads hanging and puckered sleeves. In this year's colonial girl--I don't see ANY of that. Of course if I was to do it over, I'd probably have surged the hem first, because that is where it is fraying. Or maybe an overlock stitch. But anyway, it looks like well, a real dress, not just something someone whipped up for Halloween.

You might think that the "fall" I allude to in the first line has something to do with a school halloween party and black frosted cupcakes (actually something like that happened to Glenda), but no! Actually aside from a minor punch mishap which I think if I washed the colonial girl dress, would probably come out, they remained unscathed. The pride... well let's just say I got a little too proud of my sewing skills and details will follow.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

How to turn a bear into a frog

* First look to make sure you can't find a frog pattern. I couldn't but perhaps you have resources I do not (or a smaller child). Second, look for something close to a frog, perhaps a bear:

Next project

* Decide that a bear is really a brown frog and you can do this. The buy the fleece the pattern calls for in green, buy the accent color as yellow. Get a tiny bit extra because it is on sale and you have no idea how you are going to make the head look froglike.

* Sew up the costume, omitting details like the bow around the neck. Frogs do not wear bows.

* Listen to your children when they say, just make it like ears only make the front look like an eye, you know with white fabric with some black sewn on.

* Find some white fleece leftover from the time you turned a bear into a panda (bears are very versatile)

* Borrow two black buttons from a child who seemingly has a bigger button collection than you.

* Do some hand sewing instead of knitting for two nights.

* Hear Tim Gunn in your head announce, "Make it work!"

frog head

* Adapt the mitten pattern to have a more fin-like look.

* Sit back and enjoy how froglike it looks.

flat frog

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nine days

With nine days left and counting, dare I say I'm in good shape for Halloween.

I have the "clone" (colonial) girl dress completed and it is absolutely lovely. I need to still work on the shawl and mobcap, which are made out of a purchased lace panel.

I have the frog jumpsuit completed, and a good idea how the frog eyes are going to go. I have a little bit of handsewing on that, that I'll work on tonight instead of knitting. I do need to figure out the flippers and as my daughter says, buy the facepaint.

So of course I'm spending a ton of time in the sewing room and I'm thinking projects. For some reason I have a big starteritis going on the sewing projects. Not so much on knitting. Here's what I think I might be sewing soon:
A fleece jacket for me. I made one a few years ago (ok 8 years ago) and I love it but it is getting pilly. So when I bought the frog fleece and noticed fleece was 1/2 price, I bought a pretty blue for me.

PJ pants for me. I love making these, I need a new pair to replace one and MIL bought me some cute flannel. The big drawback is that I need to thread the serger first.

Brownie vests for the girls. I found a Mccall's pattern that is the right shape, if I can find some appropriate brown fabric, I'll be making rather than purchasing brownie vests. Also Mccall's patterns are $.99 at my Joann's this week. And seriously, if I can keep it under $20 I'll be saving money ($31 is what buying 2 will cost me). Of course I have to find brown fabric--I'm guessing 2.5 yards should do the trick. So even if I have to pay $8.50 a yard, I should still be good.

I wish I had such plans for knitting. I want to knit the teacher a nice scarf, but at our house, when I bring up patterns, everyone wants the pencil scarf.

Maybe in nine days I'll be able to concentrate on my knitting again. Nine more days.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

State of the costumes

I had a very real moment of panic when I looked at the calendar for something at work this week.  Oh my, there is only two weeks left to get the Halloween costumes done.  I still had sleeves and collars and oh my.
So this week, I set some goals, I only had two free afternoons, but I wanted to make the most of it. Collars, facings, and sleeves for the colonial girl (or "clone girl" as she puts it). I actually set that all for Wednesday afternoon, but only ended up getting the collars done.

I hate collar facings.  I think I do them wrong or something but they never lay the way they should, they are my least favorite thing to do in any costume. Boy, am I glad they are done.

I had some issues with the colonial girl sleeves as they have two pieces that have to be set in. And there was an error in the pattern directions because it told me to match up the "R1s" and there was nothing like that on the pattern. I did the best I could matching seams and notches, but they look backwards to me. So much so, I ripped out the first one and re-did it, but they still look a little backwards. I guess we'll have to wait for the fitting.

There is a moment in every episode of Project Runway where Tim Gunn comes in and says "Designers, I'm sending in your models for a fitting" and that's when sometimes things get crazy. My goal is that later tonight, I'll be doing fittings. I may find myself a little crazy as I deal with two very excited seven year olds dancing as I'm trying to figure out exactly where the frog should get hemmed and my big worry--making sure the colonial girl dress fits. Simplicty patterns are so whack that while the Frog was too big, I'm concerned that the colonial dress with be too small (and yes I did take measurements, and by those, she needs a size 8 everywhere BUT the waist where I am either measuring wrong, or somehow my stick figure daughter with the rib bones you can see, needs a size 14 waist).

Since I'm talking fittings, you might realize that I've lost a bit of panic, and I have... as long as everything fits, I should be in decent shape, which is good because this promises to be a busy week.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


I've been meaning to write for a while, but this time of year is really busy and October 1st I had this panic of thinking that Halloween was just at the end of this month and my progress on the costumes has been abysmal. Although I'm not sure getting distracted by thinking the kitchen floor needs mopping every time I got to cut out pattern pieces helps much.

I did finish the socks though--which means that before they were in school a month, I had made each of them a new pair of socks.

I did a toe up pattern, just a plain vanilla sock and made them pretty short. I used only one skein of Lorna's laces Shepherd sock and probably could have gone another inch or two longer. Of course finishing the socks meant that I had no travel knitting during a week when I needed about 4 hours of travel knitting, so I grabbed what was leftover from my hand dyed sock yarn and started some toe up socks for me. I have no idea if I'll get an actual PAIR of socks out of what I have left, but I'm pretty sure I'm ok with that, as it is helping me focus on the scarf or shawl I think I'd like to make out of my Ireland yarn.

And I'm really trying hard not to panic at the thought that Christmas knitting should start soon. I don't know the 2nd grade teacher as well as I'd like, and this year there is an aide int he classroom and she's the same aide I knit a scarf for when the ladies were in kindergarten.
scarfThe scarf I knit for the aide

Anyway, back to Halloween, because deep breathing and thinking of one thing at a time helps. I did get the frog costume cut out (double layer fleece UGH) and mostly sewn together before I realized that the size I made was WAY too big. So big it nearly fit me. So the frog costume will have one more seam in it an was called for because I decided the only way to make a fleece jumpsuit short enough (the crotch was at her knees!) was to take out nearly 4 inches in the middle. For all that fuss though, fleece jumpsuit costumes must be the absolute easiest things to sew as fleece doesn't really fray and jumpsuits have only one real tricky part--the zippers.

Today's task is to finish cutting out the colonial girl's dress. Made tricky by 1) wanting to get it right and 2)my wrist hurting again. The wrist problem though has been diagnosed as tendonitis and is being treated. It doesn't interfere with the knitting, but the cutting motion is really hard on it, so I have been cutting in shifts so I don't hurt it again.

So in summary: panic, panic, socks, decisions to be made and ouch.

Friday, September 24, 2010


It took me a week, but I think I have all the materials to get started on this year's halloween costumes.  Well most of it anyway.  I could not believe how difficult it was to find a plain pink calico or in the words of the "client" "white with dark and light pink flowers and green stems."  One of these years I'll actually achieve my goal of buying everything for both costumes at $20 per kids, but not this year thanks to the pink calico finally found at a local quilting store for $9.50 a yard instead of Joann's $2.99 per yard. Thankfully halloween is only once a year.

Along the way I bought fabric to make myself a fleece jacket and almost bought flannel to make jammies for me.  As if I have the time for all that nonsense.  Nope, all my sewing time for the next 5-6 weeks is focused on Halloween.  The class party is Friday the 29th which cuts off two days of sewing!

I had thought this year also that perhaps I could have a costume--and had the perfect idea... Velma from Scooby Doo.  I have the orange sweater and the hair and glasses but then I'd need a red pleated skirt and orange knee high socks.  The crazy part of my brain whispered that I could sew the skirt and get this... dye and knit the socks.

Are you laughing yet?

As odd as it sounds after running to three stores to look for pink calico I started to think the red pleated skirt might be the issue  rather than say knitting a pair of knee high socks.

Did someone mention socks?  I finished one.

libby sock

Lorna's Laces Mardi Gras done toe-up and short because I'm trying to get two kids socks out of one skein--somehow her feet have grown since I last made her socks.  Second sock is underway.  Thankfully my sewing and knitting times are so different in nature that this won't interfere.

Friday, September 10, 2010


In my haste to tell you all that I had entered the exciting world of crochet I had neglected to tell you about the socks!

I finished the first pair of my back to school socks for the ladies. They both had picked out some yarn at Threadbear and I can't tell you why I started with this pair, but I did. The next are on the needles now, but for some reason I'm having a big mental block on them--I've ripped back so many times that I'm nearly ready to rip all the way back and just start fresh. And you know what--they aren't even HARD socks.

next socks

That's some Lorna's laces in Mardi Gras--a colorway I'm sure I've seen at other shops although I was told (at purchase it wasn't a deal breaker for me) that this was exclusive to the shop I was in. I'm just hoping I have enough--their feet have grown a bunch since I last made them socks.

And coming soon (well next month anyway):

Next project

Oh yeah, life is good.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

insert obligatory hooking joke here

I have a very mixed history with crochet.  Oh sure I can knit, and I can quilt and I can even do some basic weaving and dyeing, but I think I might have this mental block when it comes to crochet.

My mom crochets and has ever since I could remember.  She mostly makes afghans which I once at the tender age of 3 or 4 thought were going to turn into dogs, after meeting an afghan hound.  I don't know what my small self would have thought had I known a whole country existed... but I digress.

I have several afghans (the blanks not the people or hounds) that she's made for me (and for my girls).  Once I tried to knit one, and boy howdy that's not something I'll rush to do again any time soon. And frankly, I have enough so at this point learning to crochet so I can make afghans is kind of pointless. Still, I love the 1970 style granny square hats and vests (although I would probably never wear a vest) and would love to make some.

My mom did try to teach me to crochet once, but it was very short lived as I had the attention span of an ant. I tried to teach myself once, about 18 years ago when my husband's roommate's wife was pregnant, and gave up on it shortly after the child turned 2--and gave everything away.  And I taught myself to chain and single  crochet for knitting projects. 

This time though I'm determined to master this... in part because I thought it might be a good thing to teach my girls.  So when my mom announced her annual visit--I said--perhaps you could teach me to crochet.  She proceeded to teach both of my girls to chain and single crochet (sort of).  She also helped me clarify why it is so hard for me to get this. 

First, crochet is not knitting and I was expecting that I would be as good at crochet as I am at knitting.  By this I don't mean that I am an expert knitter (I'm not) but I mean I can read a knitting pattern, know what's going on and follow it pretty well. I can look at my knitting and tell where I am.  I can look at my knitting and see the mistakes AND how to fix them.  I can do none of that (hopefully yet) with crochet.

First, the directions still don't make a lot of sense to me and second, I'm clueless when it comes to looking at something someone has crocheted and knowing what they did (I can do this with knitting pretty much).  But my mom left me with two how to crochet books (one for kids and one for clueless adults like me) and the girls and I are working through them.  My girls though, ever the optimists want to make hats and blankets for charity or afghans. Me, I have given up on the idea of a granny square hat anytime soon, and am focusing in on doll blankets as let's say practice swatches. 

I guess it is like anything--a lot of bad swatches need to come out before you can start producing good.  I wince at the first attempts I made at quilts, and I think I pitched my first knitted swatch (although I still have the project I made with my grandma--before I learned to cast on). So it is with this knowledge that I show you my efforts on single crochet

I think there are a lot of doll blankets in my future.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

why I love socks

I had been working hard on my shrug. It does seem to go very very slow for some reason. But I felt like I was starting to make some progress:

But a closer look reveals some ripping in my future:

So I started a sock:

Since taking this picture, I finished this sock and started sock number 2. This is for my daughter that loves pink. I have yarn for socks for my daughter that loves purple.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

state of the jam

I've made my last batch of jam for the summer. And in the interests of memory here is the listing.

3 batches of strawberry--with berries prepped by my husband. Very easy, very fun. Made a facebook offer to make jam for others, and so made a batch in exchange for sock yarn.

1 batch of sour cherry. Sour cherries are a pain in the side to prep. All those pits! But not only did I do a batch of jam, I froze two small batches of cherries for 2 small batches of cherry crisp.

2 batches of blueberries. Blueberries are about the easiest to prep for jam, as they have no tops to cut off or pits to cut out. So essentially I throw them in the bowl and mash away. Sadly, I don't care for blueberries (don't say it too loudly or I think they will take away my Michigan Drivers license). I don't mind them if they are frozen, but let's just say the jam was not my idea. Other people in this house got a taste for them. I made the second batch to give away (and I have 4 of those left!). I'd offer them here, but freezer jam really doesn't mail well.

1 batch of peach. I love peaches. I could eat (and have) peaches every single day. I hate the skins (fur--yuck) but as I say here: I'm a grown-up and know how to use a knife. These are about the hardest to prepare for jam--you have to peel pit and chop. But yesterday I did the 6 containers that now make up my peach jam stash. What happens to me is that I buy a large quantity of peaches because I love them, then they all get ripe at the same time and I get overwhelmed because not even I can eat 6 peaches in one day. So one year every time the peaches started to get overripe I'd make peach jam. I think I made three batches. That was the year I gave everyone at playgroup peach jam--someone might still have one of my tupperware containers (for the record, tupperware is the only container I'd want back). Now, I have a different strategy--I freeze them for peach crisp. This year I have a container going and I chop one or two that are just ripe but can't be eaten into the container--when it is full, I'll stash it in the downstairs freezer. I'll probably make a fresh one too before peach season is over.

Friday, August 06, 2010

no, I am not done yet.

One of the things I think is funny about knitting in public, which is what I've been doing lately with this purple shrug, is the comments you get.

I've been asked:
If I was done yet. (no)
How do you do that (by an 8 year old)
What is it going to be (a shrug, followed by a short explanation)
How long does it take you on average? (have no idea--depends)

And no, I'm still working on the back. I had an issue in which I worked on it in the car, and about half-way through the trip I realized the lace wasn't coming out right and ripping was needed.  I didn't want to rip back in the car, so ended up making the return drive with no knitting (boo hiss) and the next night ripping out 12 rows.  But on the plus side, I made a side trip to a yarn store that everyone around here raves about and bought some new yarn. For some reason my graph isn't helping me a bunch, so almost every row I have to stop and think about how to get started--then it is off and running.

But I only have about an inch left on the back. 


Maybe I should start a sock.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I love ravelry shrug

I must confess that when I was a new knitter, nothing scared me.  In fact, I think I mentioned I knit some sweaters for my then toddlers right after having mastered dishcloths.  But why not?  sweaters are basically big rectangles and triangles.  While my results weren't perfect I learned some things that stick with me today.

And yet, lately I find myself afraid to take chances on things that I *really* want to make.  I'm finding I'm afraid. So that's the real reason I don't have a dollar and a half cardigan. It is also the reason that I don't yet have a shrug to go with my purple, green and black dress.  Ok, I have one that I whipped off, but I wanted a lacy purple one.

So, I picked out a pattern that I liked, which is more jacket than shrug from Ce Ce knits and hiked off to my yarn store, with the dress in hand to find DK weight yarn in this specific purple.

I love purple, but purples are hard to match.

The yarn store had two choices: Tahki Charles cotton classic and Debbie Bliss Baby cashmerino. There wasn't enough of either at the store, but she thought she had enough Debbie Bliss at the other store. I like cotton classic, I made a sweater in it once, and as cotton goes it is pretty good, but I didn't want to have to special order it (because of the weight! ha I bought this in MAY).  So the owner brought down the Debbie bliss from her other location, and 3 days later I had the yarn.

Now, Debbie Bliss Baby cashmerino is not DK weight.  But I thought... oh heck I do not know what I thought, I've seen too much Tim Gunn proclaiming Make it work! that I thought I could... well make it work.

After 3 swatches it was clear that either I'd need to do some major math, or find a new pattern.  And I tried the math and learned that "just making a bigger size" was only going to work if I made one size larger than the largest size listed on that pattern and that seemed to me just asking for trouble.

So off to Ravelry I went searching for a new pattern. And I found one.  Only is isn't a shrug, it is a whole sweater called Henley perfected.  It was in the Interweave knits magazine a while ago and I had the issue.  I guess I never thought of it as anything else until I saw all the variations people had done on it in ravelry.  I saw variants with all lace, no lace, short sleeves, all lace sleeves and then it hit me, I could do a short sleeve short sweater variant.  In other words, a lacy jacket like coverup that I'd call a shrug.

But of course there has to be adjustments made to pull this off. The first was that the directions for the hem were just whack. Basically it had you sew the hem in. Which is funny because Interweave knits online shows a better way. Then my hem rolled so I pulled out out and made it longer.

Actually that wasn't the first--First I had to figure out how many to cast on because the stitch count changes several times for shaping. Combine that with deciding how long to make it, and you see why I have only part of the back done.

Now I am busy doing the decreases for the sleeves into the back lace pattern--which by the way is not something I do well naturally. I am reasonably good at reading my knitting which is what you pretty much have to do at this point. But since I like to knit while I watch tv, I need to write it all out. So my knitting time today has been taken up by graphing out the lace repeats and blocking out the decreases. A tedious task, but it should make the lace come out right.

No pictures, but perhaps when I have a bit more to show.

Thursday, July 22, 2010


I have some longer stuff to write, but am in the middle of a bunch of other projects and need to sit down and focus to really get this right. SO instead here are some quick updates.

First a picture of the completed jam socks--made from yarn that I swapped for making some strawberry jam.  I have swedish runner legs...

Second, all the tests have come back negative on my wrist (so it is not broken, or sprained and all my blood work came back normal, so probably not RA) and I have figured out some stuff.  First aleve makes it feel better.  My wrist brace does not.  Also, knitting does not seem to effect it either way.  However biking makes it worse (as does housework but I might be making that up).  So right now the plan is take aleve and hope it goes away in 4 weeks.

Third, a while back I was thinking about making a skirt for summer and then I got frustrated at the sizing and the pattern. Then my Mother-in -law brought back this cute already elasticized for sundress fabric to make sundresses for my girls and I thought--wow that would make a really cute skirt.  $8 and a few hours later I had:


I didn't make pockets because I was lazy. But I wore the skirt all day and feel very very flirty and summery, which was the goal to begin with.

More later.

Monday, July 12, 2010

my aching wrist

finished my socks, and while I don't have a picture of them, trust me, they are fun fun fun. And in September when the weather cools and I feel like wearing ANY socks again, I'll have to model them.
I;ve started in on my next project, which is a shrug that I've modeled on a sweater from Interweave knits. Details later mainly because I don't have them at hand--except to know that I'm using Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino and US size 3 needles mainly because of the color the baby cashmerino came in--it is a dead ringer for the purple in my dress.

I'm excited about it, and working through the technical issues I'm encountering--like for example, the original pattern calls for a hemmed edge, which I've never done, but I couldn't figure it out from the instructions, so I had to do it differently following instructions from my very handy Knitter's book of Finishing techniques. And so far so good--I'm only on step 4 of 5 steps. What's bothering me, quite literally is my wrist.

A few years ago, I had this weird thing that when I was knitting (or more when I was sewing up) my pinkie and ring finger would go numb. After many tests later, it was determined that I "wrenched" my elbow picking up one of my "babies" who were 3 or 4 and weighed in the neighborhood of 35-40 pounds. After I stopped lifting them and slept for 6 months with a hand brace on, I gradually got better. This is different.

It started a few weeks ago, by feeling that I'd slept wrong on my hand an that my wrist needed to pop. Like you'd pop your knuckles. Except it won't. Steadily it has gotten worse. Nothing seems to make it better--I've even had days when (gasp) I haven't knitted anything. In fact on vacation, I went days without knitting and all the while that pain was still there. I should also note that it does not hurt to knit, but it does to scrub sinks. It does not hurt to sew up, although writing anything longer than my name is painful. Yoga has been excruciating at times. Mornings are worse than evenings. The hand brace does not seem to make a difference one way or another. And tomorrow, I'll be having it checked out. I'm hoping that it doesn't take weeks of (painful) tests to decide that I'm doing something stupid like lifting a 35 pound child regularly and calling her a baby (and scaring the doctor who wanted to know how old my "baby" was). I'm also hoping that I don't get the kibosh on knitting.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


We went on vacation! We drove a grand total of 22 hours and so of course I needed some car knitting. I know Elizabeth Zimmerman recommends lace knitting for summer because it is light and portable for the car. Obviously Mrs. Zimmerman did not fulfill the same car role as I do (book on cd changer, fight referee, video set-up artist, navigator, and toll change counter). I usually make socks in the car because they really are small tuck anywhere projects. I've done patterned socks in the past, but I've also lost row counters in the car, only to find them months later. This time, fate was on my side. I had no projects on the needles and none of the fancy patterns for socks were coming out to my liking.

I was also in the midst of jam making. I love strawberry freezer jam (well and peach and cherry too) and we were afraid given the warm spring we've had here that if I didn't get the jam done before we left we'd miss strawberry season. Turned out to be a good thing too. I made my three batches of jam and still had enthusiasm left over, so I posted on facebook that I loved making jam so much IU'd probably make some for you. And Cinnamonamon took me up on it. In exchange for the strawberries, sugar, containers and sock yarn, I made her a lovely batch of Strawberry jam. And suddenly I had sock yarn that I was excited about. Because you know--i don't have enough sock yarn of my own? Of course, but mine is boring. behold:

vacation socks

Just a plain toe up pattern, started a few nights before we left just to make sure I was happy with the tension/fabric combo. After we'd crossed our 4th state line I had the idea to take the sock's picture with the state signs so you could see my progress. Sadly, I didn't. But I did finish the first sock on the road and started the second. I had the heel all turned by the time we pulled into the driveway. I probably could have had more but the stars had all aligned. Good movie for the kids, familiar navigation and no tolls for the driver and so I whipped up some lace! Naw just kidding, I had a good book and I read.

We also got home in time to hit the very very short sour cherry season. So The day after I got home, I tackled 7 loads of laundry and 2 quarts of sour cherries. I ended up with a batch of jam, 2 freezer containers of pitted cherries for (small--read serves 2) crisps and a chocolate cherry crisp that was divine! We also ate 2 quarts of sweet cherries, which have a slightly longer season. Although my favorite farm at farmer's market is done with all cherries, so the ones we have this week are kinda eh.

I'm feeling better about knitting and have an idea for a new project. I need to work out the details sometime when I am awake and yet not busy--but given that we've entered the great toy purge season as well as fresh produce that needs to be dealt with regularly season, usually it is all I can do to knit a few rounds of socks before falling asleep. It is lace though.....

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'm feeellllting.

There is just something magical about felting. About how you can take a pile like this:

Throw it in the washer. And have it come out like this:



The purse is a simple cast on however many stitches--in this case 64, but it is a little wide and short--knit in the round until you are almost out of yarn and bind off and sew together--or you can get fancy and three needle bind off. The cord is just 3 stitch icord.

The flowers were perhaps my favorites--the sea anemones are cute, but the flowers... Well the purple is cascade 220 and the pink are Ultra Alpaca and I think the ultra alpaca with the pebbly way it felts up just looks almost like I bought them at a craft store.

We don't know what were going to do with them yet, but I have this terrible urge to knit more.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

felting (and jam notes)

Last summer I whipped up a few things out of a skein of Paton's SWS.
sea urchins and flowers

But I didn't felt them because it seemed like a waste to felt so little. So I set them aside.

In my latest eh what to knit phase I had a chance to knit at a playground while my kids ran around with gobs of other first graders and I did not have a sock started. In fact I had nothing started, so I grabbed a skein of Noro Kureyon and some needles. In less than a week I had:


Also not felted because after I finished that, I realized I still had some scraps of purple wool (cascade 220, I think and only realized because I used some to finish the strap) that I could maybe make another flower from. But I couldn't remember where I got this pattern... and I found another felted flower pattern (from 101 one skein wonders which is where I thought the sea urchins had come from.) and started one in purple. THEN I realized I needed one in pink and realized that I happen to have some leftover ultra alpaca in pink. SO I think it will be a while before I start felting.

On another note, I'd like to say that this blog has saved me! Last year I noted that I had made 3 batches of Strawberry jam (and one peach and 1 sour cherry). Well the jam came out perfectly in terms of amounts and this year Strawberry season is here a few weeks early. So after making 2 batches of jam which came out to this much:

I wondered--how much had I made last year because I have 2 containers left and that's about perfect (I like to give away jam too to pet sitters, teachers, etc). I looked in the archives and lo and behold last July I mentioned I had made three batches. So future self--I'll be making batch #3 of Strawberry sometime this afternoon.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

socks socks socks

I finally finished a pair of striped socks.

I love this yarn, which is Felici by Knit picks, and the pattern which is a plain jane toe up sock pattern I found in an issue of Interweave knits.

Stripey socks

However, I'm a little bummed on socks right now. But I do have quite a bit of opportunity to knit in places where I need to be focused on something OTHER than the pattern. So I started a felted purse in a very simple, knit this puppy in the round until you are almost out of yarn, sew it up and add an i-cord strap and felt that puppy. Use a Noro yarn and whoo whee you've got a sweet small purse.

But, I think I'm going to be using my concentrate on the knitting and pattern time to work on this shrug from CECE knits. Short sleeve version in a yarn that is the same purple as in my dress. I know because I brought my dress to the yarn store. I'm just not sure how it will work because the yarn I bought (Debbie Bliss Baby cashmerino) is a bit thinner than the DK yarn called for. But that is what the swatch is for, I guess.

Friday, May 28, 2010


I'm feeling like I'm in a knitting ... well rut isn't the right word. I want to knit something, but all that I have yarn for is socks... well and a sweater or two. So I knit a sock:
Purple sock

The yarn is Felici from Knit picks. The pattern is a basic toe up from interweave knits. The second one is on the needles now, but it suddenly got hot here in the North and so now if I wear socks it looks more like this:

Which honestly isn't making me wanting to crank out the socks. I have some laceweight yarn and Elizabeth Zimmerman claims shawls are the perfect summer knit. I love lace, but I'm not sure I'm a shawl wearer. Which is also making me less likely to want to knit a shawl.

I did however finish the Retro Redux shrug from Lace style:

Front shrug

And I really like it--especially with my new dress.


Right now the only thing I want to knit is another shrug or lace jacket or something in the purple of the dress. I have no yarn in that purple right now, and no way to get any until late next week. Plus I don't exactly have a pattern picked out. I'm kinda in a rotten mood about it too. I know I'd feel better if I knit, but I don't feel like knitting (well except for that imaginary perfect purple shrug-like thing). Kind of a catch-22.
I'm sure I'll snap out of it, just as I'm sure I'll be knitting socks all summer long.

Friday, May 21, 2010

All my mistakes will become masterpieces

When I started this blog, I titled it Disasters with yarn, because I felt like I was having a streak of knitting disasters. But then I got wimpy and didn't actually write in it until I was past those "disasters". In actuality, they were mistakes and I don't mind mistakes as long as I learn from them. They play a song in my yoga class that has the refrain--All my mistakes have become masterpieces.

I'm not sure if mine have, but I have learned something from most of them, and this one is no exception. You see I had this sweater. I didn't knit it but I really liked it.

It is a nursing sweater so it has a flap in front that buttoned down and holes on the inside. I liked the color, I liked the yarn, and so I wore it even after I didn't need it for nursing Until at least it developed an "extra" hole:

Then a few months ago, I found it when I was cleaning my sewing room--I had put it down there thinking I could somehow repair it. instead I got this really bright idea, why not take it apart and make something else out of it. Something lacy and summery. And so I did--I took off a sleeve and that's when I learned something very very important.

When garments are constructed in factories, they are often surged, by which A tiny bit of material is sliced off and the edges are sewn together all nice and neat--look at any seam in any t-shirt you have and you'll see what this looks like. I even have a serger and I love it. However, when you cut the edge off a piece of knitting.....

So, yes every time I unravelled a row I had a row sized piece of yarn--and not great yarn at that--very loose splitty yarn. So now I think it might be time for plan b. I have no idea what plan B is though. I did learn though that if I ever go "goodwilling" for sweaters to tear apart to look to make sure they aren't serged together.

On the brighter note, I kind of had a small leap out of my knitting blahs and finished a shrug, which is proving impossible to photograph by myself, so I'll have to wait until I can get some help. I also received a gift from my globe trotting mother in law of some yarn from Ireland.

She didn't save the label I think--and all I know is that it is over 50 grams of a mohair boucle--each skein is over 50 grams. I have been dreaming ever since about what I will make with it. I envision something Lacy and scarf-like. Then my mother in law called--she also had gotten me a woven scarf but couldn't find it until she unpacked all the way. It has the same colors and is just gorgeous. Again, impossible to photograph by myself, but I wore it to target today with my white t-shirt and hey librarian sweater because you know when it is nearly 70 you need sweaters and scarves (and raincoats which totally ruined my look).

Thursday, April 29, 2010

knitting blahs

I'm in a knitting rut. And a knitting slump

I think it started with the ill fated skirt. Then it moved onto a pair of socks that I was knitting that seem a bit snug. Then I thought why am I always knitting socks?

Well, I can save you many days of soul searching and tell you that I am always knitting socks for these reasons:
1) I wear socks almost every day
2) I have a ton of sock yarn
3) socks are portable
4) I have a ton of sock yarn
5) Socks are easy to do while watching TV
6) I have a ton of sock yarn.

You get the picture.
Seriously I spent 2 days trying to figure out something non-sock to knit. And I realized, I don't wear that many scarves or shawls, and I can't knit lace or anything complicated while I watch TV (looking at you dollar and a half cardigan). I don't have a lot of yarn for mid-sized projects--either socks or one-skein things or sweaters.

I have three balls of Muench Touch me, and toyed with a velvety scarf. And I could not for the life of me think about where I might wear such a thing in MAY. And of course I *could* save it for winter, but please, I want something I can appreciate NOW, not 5 months from now (oy, really 5 months from now I'll be wearing a scarf--yeah probably). I also have some leftover yarn--Briar rose Sonoma I think--that I have mittens and scarf from, but was thinking I had enough for some sort of hat-like thing. Again, 5 months.

Then it hit me. I have 2 skeins of Malbrigio silky wool In a beautiful purple. Surely I could get a small shrug out of it and certainly it would match the bits of purple flowers in the dress I bought to replace the ill-fated skirt. Well, yes and no. Yes, I probably had enough to make a small shrug. Like the small one in Lace Style which is not pictured in that link... But the purple wasn't quite the right purple. The purple bits in the dress are more red. And if I could tell that before I pulled the dress out of the bedroom (and into the sunny living room) then you know it was off. But I also noticed that there was some olive green in it too (and black and white--mostly black and white with a few purple flowers with olive leaves) and I have some olive yarn.

The yarn is Elle Aran gold and it is acrylic. I've knit with it before though and find it to be a lot sproingyier than most acrylics. In fact I made a whole sweater from it, which I actually still like and wear on a regular basis (wore it this week even). Of course it was a dead match for the olive in the dress, how could it not be. How could my expensive really want to create something lovely from it yarn be so far off as to be funny, and my cheap (purchased at a LYS closeout sale) acrylic match perfect? Well that's the way of things. Plus I had enough for the retro redux shrug pictured in the link above.

I was intrigued. I was interested. I swatched. I started dreaming of how I would look the NEXT time I wore that dress (which is in 10 days most likely). And I cast on, more excited about this project than I have been since I messed up the toe on that last sock and it the wall with my sewing.

Although, if anyone has a non scarf option for the lovely purple Malbrigio silky wool--I have 2 skeins which makes about 300 yards (274m) of a dk weight yarn, leave it in the comments. Oh heck, if you have a scarf pattern that I can wear in early fall--say September let me know about that too.

Monday, April 19, 2010

two things I learned.

This is probably the space I should be telling you about the fabulous and cute skirt I made and then wore to a banquet and got a tremendous amount of compliments. And in fact I did wear something new to said banquet and got a ton of compliments.

First though I should say that as in knitting, in sewing I am learning all the time. In fact for this project I learned two very helpful things.

1) the grain lines on the pattern pieces should be straight and parallel to the selvedge edge. "otherwise your clothes will never hang right" so says the video I watched the clip out of. And as it turns out I always tried to get them straight but when I followed the video's helpful instructions: measure from the top of the arrow to the selvedge edge, pin, then measure the bottom of the arrow to the selvedge edge, I learned I can't eyeball straight. In fact my "eyeballing" was a good 2 inches out of whack. And indeed, this skirt went together so much easier than any halloween costume I've ever made.
Which makes it really too bad that I also learned:

2) Simplicity is on crack with sizing.
I usually wear a size--oh let's say 14. And I realize that sizes are different, look at the measurements blah blah. I did this and actually it looked like the simplicity 14 would be way too big int he waist, but ok in the hips. Well, my skirt doesn't fit. It is too short (which I could fix) and too small--which I maybe can fix. But seriously, I think I'd need an 18 in Simplicity and 14 in regular clothes, how is this not in anyway not messed up?
But it very well could be that I messed up. Perhaps I always thought I wore a certain size, say 14 because even though practically every other size 14 out there in the whole world fits me, I've been tricked by vanity sizing and I really wear an 18. But I must say... in vanity size (aka Liz Claiborne) I wear nearly an 8.

So, I slipped the skirt on when I was ready to put in the zipper and discovered that no way was it ever going to fit me. At least not unless I found a way to expand it somehow. Which was really too bad because up to that point things were going super smooth. I think I have a way to fix it. I think I can throw in another panel of skirt and then figure out how to expand the waistband and then I'll have a really short skirt that fits and I'll have to wear leggings under.

But I've learned my lesson for skirt #2.

And I also managed to find a dress for the banquet. By all accounts it looks good on me.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

tap tap is this thing on?

Whoops, I didn't mean to not update for almost a whole month. Being sick really put me behind on lots of other stuff around the house and I guess I've been a little off my game because until this month, I don't think I could have said that I didn't knit anything for more than a day. Coincidently, I also didn't watch much tv....

But I did finish (again) some socks:

They don't match and it bothers me just a little, but that's what happens when you get a knot! in your self striping yarn.
socks close

Also, if you have been reading for any length of time, you'll know I am terribly indecisive about ... well everything. So, you know some serious time has passed when I can announce with great decisiveness a new project.

After tons of looking through stores for just the right skirt, I finally caved to the four or five people who said--just make one. And so tomorrow, I'll be cutting into this:

To make view E of this: skirt. Although it shouldn't surprise you that I went on a day patterns were 99 cents and I bought another one, which I'll show later if I actually decide to make it.

I'm not all decisions decisions, I also bought material to make a second skirt because I couldn't decide at the fabric store!


This is also a big thing for me because I don't think of myself as an accomplished sewer. Sure, I quilt and make halloween costumes (and pjs) but real clothes that people wear? nope. But I think I can handle this. If I can't I have more shopping ahead of me.

Oh and I'm back on the knitting horse, knitting some socks (of course) and obsessing about the next knit project.