Wednesday, April 25, 2007's a real live Finished Object!!!!

I actually started and finished something in less than a week!! I'm so proud of me. My 6 balls of Patons SWS in Natural Earth had been taunting me for a while, and after browsing through the photo pool at the Flickr group Clapotis!, I decided to go for it.

I saw someone comment that Clapotis was a boring knit, but I have to disagree. There was always something to look forward to, whether it was adding a marker, dropping a stitch all the way down, or removing markers. It went along remarkably quick and while I had to pick out every dropped stitch by hand, even that went quickly. The results are worth it! It's a little dark and warm for this time of year, but it's still coming on the plane with me to Florida - because I'm ALWAYS cold on planes.

Girl is glad to see that I'm done so I can FINALLY finish her Knit.1 Travel Wrap. We are a mere 5 pattern repeats before the end, then it's pocket time.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Afghans and Autism

The yarn has been ordered and the 2nd Annual Great Afghan Marathon is about to commence! The afghans are going to be teacher gifts at the end of the school year. Before you all (as though I had readers...snort!) think "isn't a blanket a little ambitious for a teacher gift?", let me explain.

I have 3 great kids: the Girl is 10, the Boy is now 7, and the Little Guy is 4. Boy was diagnosed with autism at age 2 and had the same teacher from age 2.5 through last summer at age 6. Along with the teacher was her assistant, the speech clinician, and the occupational therapist. As Boy got ready to move on to kindergarten, I felt they all deserved extra special gifts because of all their hard work (which BTW paid off in leaps and bounds), something much more than anything you could buy in a store. But what?

As I read through Weekend Knitting, I thought "could Nicky Epstein's Fluffy Lap Blanket BE any more perfect?" I didn't think so. I imagined each woman after a trying day with special needs kids going home and snuggling up with a book or perhaps some knitting of her own.

So 4 lap blankets were made last spring for 4 special women who dedicate their lives to helping kiddos with autism. Not willing to be outdone, Girl demanded that a blanket be made for her teacher as well. All were extremely well received, so I'm going to do it again.

This year, 4 lap blankets will again be made for 4 special women who have once again enriched the life of my Boy. Girl has a male teacher so I'm counting on her not wanting to give him a blanket. Cross your fingers!

Stay tuned for more details about the blankets, the yarn, and the cause!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Obligatory Poncho

Don't get me wrong, I love ponchos...but they are rather obligatory. And this one might be the most common of all...The Martha Poncho. The pattern I used was the "Coming Home" Poncho from done in Homespun, color Quartz. It's 3 years old, it's a little ratty, but I still love it. Perfect for throwing on when it's a little cool, but you have such spring fever that you can't bear the thought of wearing a jacket or a full on sweater. Kinda like today!

Can you see my Dashing mitts peeking out? They are so great, they warrant another picture...

Or two!
Ok, ok, I'll stop now! My cold little fingies have a mean obsession with the fingerless mitts!

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Ahhhh.....Fitted Knits!

This book is my new obsession...Fitted Knits by Stefanie Japel. She has got to be my favorite designer out there right now. I've coveted her designs from Knitty and MagKnits for some time now and I just realized that my favorite sweaters that I've seen advertised under other yarn labels or pattern companies were also designed by her! Her style is so appealing to me and you just can't be all-in-one-piece construction. Ok, I'm drooling now...

That said, I'm working on the Airy Wrap Sweater from the book. I decided to give it a go with some Caron Simply Soft in Orchid. Not my favorite yarn ever, but the color is fantastic, it worked to the correct gauge, and I had it on hand (I'm trying soooo hard to use up what I have before I buy more). It's turning out fantastic and I just couldn't wait to post pictures, even though it's not finished yet.

The first picture (taken with flash) shows the color of the yarn really well, but doesn't show the detail all that great. It's amazing how a pattern of such simplicity can look so complex and intricate. I'm about 2/3 of the way through the first side tie and tried it on last night. I'm so thrilled with the fit and the color. It will be perfect on our vacation to throw on over a thin-strapped camisole before dinner. I'll have to be careful not to snag it, but the yarn is so cheap and it's working up so fast, I might not even be mad if I snag it.

This photo was taken without flash at 10:00 p.m., so it's a bit dark, but it does show more of the pattern and design details. Ooooohhh, I love it!

Of course I should mention that I'm once again abandoning other projects to finish this. Projects on the needles at this very minute, in order of importance to me (which BTW does not indicate importance to the recipient! picture me with a sheepish toothy grin)

  1. Airy Wrap Sweater - Fitted Knits (for me, done in Caron Simply Soft)
  2. Travel Wrap (Quillow) - Knit.1 last year sometime (for the Girl, done in Caron Simply Soft)
  3. Twinkle Toes Socks - Cookie A. (from Knitty Gritty) (for me, done in overdyed Wool Ease)
  4. Breezy Cables Cardigan - Interweave Knits, Spring 2006 (for me, done in TLC Essentials)
  5. Wavy Boxes Baby Blanket - Ellen Lynch (for a friend's baby, double strands of Red Heart Soft Baby)
  6. Picovoli T Shirt - Grumperina via MagKnits (Knit Picks Shine Sport)
  7. Hooded Pullover - Patons Weekend Retreat pattern booklet (for me, TLC Essentials)
  8. Pashmina Cowl - Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson (unknown chenille)
  9. One Cable Scarf - One Skein by Leigh Radford (hand dyed Lion Wool)
  10. Warm Up America! Blocks using miscellaneous stash acrylic (Red Heart Super Saver)
  11. Last but not least...a stripy poncho from Vogue Knitting on the Go! Ponchos (Red Heart Super Saver)

I shouldn't really put that the charity blocks that low on the list, because they are very important to me. I can't believe it took me this long to realize that they are the perfect use for my old acrylic. Clever choice of stitch patterns can give you a surprisingly soft fabric for acrylic. I've also learned through the years that solids are usually softer than variegated, and once I use up all the Red Heart, I'll switch to TLC Essentials for my charity knitting. Love that stuff.

I'll get to posting pictures of these other items in progress...I really need to finish Breezy Cables!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Weee Widdle Baby Knits

It's a baby sweater! Isn't it cute? I love it. It's from some Debbie Bliss book that I can't remember the name of (I copied it out of a library book...shhh, don't tell!). It's all done in garter stitch and I used Bernat Satin. Boy was I ever happy with that yarn. Obviously I wanted washable - because it's for a new baby - and for the same reason, I also wanted soft. My only experience with a "soft" acrylic has been Caron Simply Soft. Might I describe it as, uhhh, let's see...wimpy? Bernat Satin was great though, such a nice surprise. The finished sweater is soft and cushy and I love the texture of garter stitch.

I tried to catch some detail with this closeup, but failed due to low light. Anyhow, that's it, in all it's cuteness. Now I just need to get the darn thing off in the mail before cute little tadpole outgrows it!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

..and she does sweaters too!

Yes, there actually are some full-fledged sweaters in the completed bin. Here's a few of them:

Here's my boy in his beloved "Rough and Ready Raglan". I found the pattern free online, but then saw it was part of the book Hip Knits, and I snatched it up with a 40% off coupon from you-know-where. I'm a book hound, so I ate this one right up. It got terrible reviews on Amazon, but I happen to really like it. It has adorable baby/child items and I like the adult sweaters as well, though I have yet to make one of those.

The boy really digs this one and I have to be careful or he even swipes it from the dirty pile before it gets washed. It's made out of trusy Red Heart Super Saver, but I'll probably do the next one out of a wool blend. Gotta keep that machine washability though.

These next two sweaters are my absolute favorite "go to" sweaters and I can't wait to make more. I am not a snob, but for those of you who are, be warned, they are...crochet. When I was young, I thought yarn was what you used to learn to crochet but real crochet was with thread and itty bitty steel needes. I quickly crocheted my hands into a twisted mess of pain. I threw aside my filet crochet "home sweet home" doily and swore I'd never do it again. Then I saw these books - Crocheted Aran Sweaters and More Crocheted Aran Sweaters - and I had to have them both. These sweaters worked up so easily - easy patterns to follow and easy on my poor hands - and the gauge stays true throughout and they fit so well! I could go on, but here are the pictures:

Both are done in Wool Ease. I'm wearing the striped one as I type and both are my absolute favs for throwing on when I get's April 11 and it's been snowing nonstop since yesterday yeah, I'm chilly. Why put on a sweatshirt when you can wear one of these and still look gooooood?
My very first sweater was a good one too - Funky Funnel Neck Fun from the Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits. It was Wool Ease Chunky and aside from binding off a little too tightly, it was perfect. Alas, the dog tried to pull it out of the spaces in the sides of the laundry basket. Frog time, baby.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

The last of the dyes...for now...

Ok, time for a retrospective of my yarn dyeing to date. I left out the overdyed Wool-Ease, but if you really want to see it, it's a few posts back. It's peachy and not inspiring at the moment.

In the picture on the top left (counter-clockwise) we have the grape-y Dashing fingerless mitts (because that yarn couldn't wait to be knitted up), a black cherry/cherry Kool-Aid concoction, a test in tea-dyeing and Kool Aid together, a purple/blue achieved through the hot-pour method (my favorite!), and another hot-pour trial that didn't work as well as I'd hoped. The top right photo is a close-up of the bad hot-pour and the bottom is a close-up of the good hot-pour. I really shouldn't say "bad" though. The yarn does look good. There are subtle shades of green with bits of blue turquoise here and there; I just need to perfect my technique. I was going for something a little lighter and less solid.

This is the one-cable scarf from One Skein. I started this the other night with the first green yarn I dyed. I'm torn between Kool-Aid and Wilton Icing Dyes - I like Kool Aid because I seem to have a better chance at getting the semi-solids I love so much, but Wilton gives more vibrant, clear colors. That settles it, I simply have to get more yarn so that I can continue experimenting!
Right after I finish one of the 6 projects I have on the needles...

Monday, April 2, 2007

You might think...

...I have tons of time on my hands. Actually, I really enjoy starting new projects, but then as I start to lose interest, I start another one. Kinda like if you smashed ADD with knitting, you'd get me, someone who starts tons of projects and only finishes the ones that are quick.

Maybe that's why I love my two new books: Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson and One Skein by Leigh Radford. They also fit perfectly into my newfound love of hand dyeing with my crockpot. I can't really fit more than one skein into the pot at once and I don't yet feel like messing around with the stovetop. So I dye a bunch of skeins, then find a quick little project to knit up with my great new yarn. Over the weekend I started the one-cable scarf from One Skein with my green hand-dye. I think it will be really nice!

Anyways, the project photo for the day is this; the Pashmina Cowl from LMKG. I'm using this rather fine chenille yarn that I bought from Ebay a couple years ago. I loved the colors, but never had a clue what I was going to do with it. There isn't too much, just 3 balls, and there's no label or anything, but when I saw the cowl in the book, the chenille screamed out to be made into it! It worked up to the right gauge (with the correct needles even!) so we're off to the races. It's a little hard to tell in this photo, but it's a variegated chenille with green, tan, brown, and almost a hint of lavender. I think I remember the Ebay listing describing is as Astro Thunder Chenille. I don't know though, because I've done search after search and never found it anywhere. No matter, it's very pretty, very soft, and I think it will make a great accessory for a jean jacket or hooded sweatshirt.