Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sam strikes again

Last night, I almost had to murder my dog, Sam....again.

He looks innocent enough, but really, he can be the devil. He already destroyed the first wearable sweater I'd made - Funky Funnel Neck Fun from the Yarn Girls Guide to Simple Knits - but I did forgive him for that because I had bound off the neckline too tightly and it was a little annoying. However, I happen to love - no, LUFF - the Teva Durham Unisex Knock-Around Cashmere...er, Patons Shetland Chunky Tweed...Pullover. It has peanut butter on the front and sleeves but I still managed to wear it for about 23 of its first 24 hours of completed existence. Yesterday afternoon, after shooting off a few photos, I decided it was ready for the laundry pile.

Ok, so it isn't the wisest choice to have a laundry pile that lives on the floor of my bedroom when I have a slightly less than 1 year old Golden Retriever who loves to sleep on dirty laundry - but that's beside the point. I threw the sweater in that pile and the next time I saw it, there was a loop of yarn that had been pulled out about 10 inches sticking out of the dead center front of this sweater!


I'm sure he didn't mean it, and that's why I took no retaliation (at least I meant not to until I knew the exact fate of this sweater). I think his claw snagged one stitch in the front and somehow he pulled it until the entire row across the front had been tightened to where it wasn't even visible and all the yarn was coming out the front.

To poor Sammy's credit, he did not chew, slobber, or otherwise maim any other part of the sweater. I spent about 30 minutes wheedling the yarn back through all the stitches to bring that row back into the world. It worked. Yay! Sammy's life is spared again.

Once the yarn was successfully and evenly woven back into a knit row, I went to work on fixing the problem of the curl at the bottom and cuff edges. I unknit the reverse stockinette border on the front and reknit it as 6 garter stitch rows (3 ridges). Garter stitch matches the rest of the garment perfectly and hopefully should solve the curl problem that could not be blocked out since my yarn is 75/25 acrylic/wool. I did the same to the back except I did 8 garter stitch rows. I used a crochet hook for the bind off - a method I adore - and then I crochet-seamed the lower panels together at the edge slip stitches so that it was a little less of a slit at the sides.

I picked up stitches around the cuffs and added 6 rows of garter stitch there as well. My bind off there might be considered slightly less flexible than it should be for garter stitch, but the cuffs are quite wide and they are not tight at all. The garter border and bind off should help to keep them a little more under control. Plus the roll was making the sleeves feel too short.

It's now bathing in Sweater Soap and I'm confident all will be wine and roses from here on out.

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Universe is Conspiring Against Me

This is a severe crisis. I placed an order with Knit Picks last week. I placed an order with Amazon this morning. The Knit Picks catalog came in the mail. Ravelry is too irresistable to ignore. The knitting that's on my needles is too irresistable to ignore (excepting the Ombre Blanket - until the Knit Picks order comes in).

There are patterns and books and yarns and needles and and and....ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!

This is truly a crisis of epic proportions. I should be working, but I'm not. Instead I'm drooling over the catalog and dreaming of yarn.

Deep breaths. Must regain composure in time to pick up Alicia from basketball. I can listen to more Stash and Burn in the van. Yeah...that's it!

Oh, and Lucas made it through the day without incident...Yay!!!!

I have presents coming!

I'm treating myself to some knitting goodies this week. The way I see it, if my darling husband and daughter are going to leave me with the boys to go deer hunting, I need something to keep my sanity in check. With the Teva Durham sweater (from Weekend Knitting) complete, I've made a resolution to kick it into high gear on the Ombre Blanket...though that may have to wait for my goodie box from Knit Picks to arrive.

I ordered a 47" cable and size 7, 9, 13, and 15 needle tips from the Knit Picks Options line. I currently own two 24" cables and tips in sizes 4, 5, and 6 and though I love them down to my toes - the slickness of the finish, the point of the tips - even with the little key, I still have a little trouble keeping one end of one cable tightened while knitting. Must be that particular cable.

The size 15 tips are for the neverending Ombre Blanket. I've been suffering through the project thus far using a 36" plastic circular needle; it's a wonder I've made it as far as I have. The plastic tips are sticky and the overall cable length is too short so I'm having to rebunch and position the entire thing every 10 stitches or so. My hands get terribly sore from having to fight with this stupid needle. Thus, I am more than willing to suck it up and deal with a little retightening here and there if I can make the process even a teensy weensy bit more enjoyable. I like the pattern, I like the colors, and I love how it's turning out, but the process is a real turn off. I briefly considered the 60" cable, but then thought I didn't quite need one that was nearly as long as I am tall. The 47" cable should do quite nicely. My latest knitting fantasy is dreaming of how quickly I'll be able to complete the blanket and get it safely off to my brother.

After I finish that blanket, I'll use the 9's and 13's to make some more Fluffy Lap Blankets (more Weekend Knitting). I need to give one to Luke's old occupational therapist - he saw her for 4 years until school started this year and her schedule couldn't accommodate him anymore - so she deserves one. A few months ago, Smiley's had Red Heart Symphony on sale for $1 a ball and I couldn't resist. I bought a lot and have enough to make at least 8 blankets. They really are the perfect teacher gift and they knit up in a flash. I'm hoping these needles will help me keep the yarn doubled and not pick only one strand. I only did that one time, on one blanket, where I didn't first catch it and I felt horrible, but it I knew it wasn't going to unravel so all was well.

Lastly, the size 7 tips will be for the...CRAP, I can't remember the name but it's the really cute portrait neckline pullover from Last Minute Knitted Gifts...Hourglass Pullover...that's it! I also bought what I hope will be enough Wool of the Andes worsted in Sapphire Heather to make that. I'm a little cautious about this one. I've never used WotA before and I'm worried it will be too itchy, but another Raveler said that it got considerably softer after a dip in Eucalan. It was such a purdy color that I went for it. There were actually several colors I would have gladly purchased, but I'm sticking to my resolve and only purchasing yarn for a project already in mind or committed to. It's really not that hard and I'm finishing a lot more stuff.

My last present will be from Amazon. I finally bit and ordered Jenny McCarthy's book "Louder than Words" even though I probably won't learn anything knew, I'd like to take a look and be able to give some sort of review to people. It's next to impossible for me to buy just one book from Amazon so I gave in to gentle evil twin arm twisting and also ordered Clara Parks' book The Knitters Book of Yarn. I'm so excited about this one! I've wanted to buy Knitting Nature by Norah Gaughan for some time until the other day I realized that one of my favorite patterns required size 3 needles. I'm sorry, but there ain't no way I'm gonna knit a sweater in size 3 needles! Then the Berocco KnitBits newsletter came out last Friday and showed one of Norah's patterns from the Book of Yarn. Ahhhh! I went to Knit Picks to see pictures of the projects and I was hooked! I put it in my Amazon shopping cart intending for it to be how I would achieve free shipping, but I want it so badly I decided what's $5 anyway?

You might be thinking why would I buy these things for myself when Christmas and my birthday are around the corner? Well, Tony refuses to buy me anything remotely related to knitting and for the past 5 years, nobody has ever given me anything that I've asked for related to knitting. So, I'm treating myself. And I can't wait! I can't wait for the flurry of productivity that will inevitably follow and and for the many happy hours I'll have to spend with the activity I love so much!

And with Tony and Alicia out of the house, I'm gonna need all the fun I can grasp if I'm gonna keep from going loony with these goofy boys!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Whoa...what a weekend!

Actually it started a little early. I was in quite a state of ecstacy for finishing the Unisex Knock-Around Pullover - I think it was a new record, even with having to rip back a couple times and fudge my way through the math. It was my first time messing around with the math of a sweater and to my utter amazement, it all worked. The sweater is the exact size it should be and it's incredibly comfy. Because it's not 100% wool, the lower edge and cuffs didn't uncurl so I might add some garter stitch, but it is still great. Love it! But I digress...

So Friday morning was it's usual hectic self...Alicia needing to be ready early to go to school early for crossing guard duty, Lucas needing his lunch and "high-5's" (a vitamin/mineral cocktail we give him every day per his DAN! doc's directive), and Ben needing to eat and be ready for preschool shortly after the other two leave. Alicia, Lucas, and I triple teamed packing his lunch and everybody was ready in time. Alicia left and we waited for Luke's bus.

Now Lucas loves school. So much so that each day he runs down the concrete steps from the house and across the grass and a sidewalk to get to the bus. The busdriver and I have been warning him for the past two months that one day he'd fall down and on Friday, it happened. One more step and he would have hit the grass, but unfortunately he fell onto his face. He was bleeding at the gumline of his front teeth and scraped above and below his right eye. So I told the busdriver to continue and I'd take him to school when he recovered.

That is one thing about the autism that is difficult - or perhaps it's just because he's a stubborn child who comes from stubborn parents. Lucas is doing great and understands a lot, but when he is hell bent on something, he's so stubborn it's difficult to change the course he takes. Thus, it's been impossible to get him to slow down and walk to the bus. Today even I had to continuously remind him to walk. He got irritated with me when I tried to slow him down - he was walking fast - and said "C'mon Mom, I'm trying to walk!" He made it though and I warned him to walk carefully at school today.

We cleaned him up and by the time Ben went to preschool, Luke was good to go. I got him safely to his class and the day proceeded as normal.

Then about 1 p.m., right when I take my Knitty Gritty/A Haunting break from work, the phone rings. Caller ID said "unknown caller". That's never good because during the school day, that always means it's school. Lucas tripped entering his classroom after recess and cut his head on a chair. Ben and I packed up and got the poor kid. The cut had stopped bleeding but I decided to take him to the ER to have it looked at just in case. It wasn't very deep so they ended up just glueing it and now all is well.

Oh, I almost forgot the icing on the cake! Luke's para, who was with him in the nurse's office asked me "did you know you packed a raw egg in his lunchbox today?" My jaw dropped! I couldn't believe it! I'd had two hard boiled eggs sitting right on the shelf in the fridge, but somehow, between the 3 of us packing his lunch, he got a hold of a raw egg. I even helped pack it in a baggie. I'd even asked him if he wanted me to crack it at home for him, but he said no, he wanted to crack it at school. Geez! I hope this is enough weirdness to take us at least through the end of the year.

Saturday was just busy. The Monticello Soccer Club had a rec soccer Jamboree. In an effort to become more involved in the community, Tony is on the soccer Board and I am in charge of apparel sales. Alicia's traveling team signed on to sell concessions as a fundraiser for their team. So the 5 of us were at the fields all day. Tony cooked brats and hot dogs, Alicia assembled hot dogs and caramel apple slices, and I sold apparel in tandem with refereeing the boys. It was fun, and we sold a lot of stuff, but it was cold and long. At the end of the afternoon, as if to signal it was time to get out of dodge, a gust of wind lifted the tent right off its poles and it flew off and the poles went flying. One pole hit my niece in the back of her head, but she was fine and luckily the little kids were off in the fields picking up garbage.

Here they are...Alicia is in the gray hoodie with the black hat, Tony is in back turned facing her, and my two nieces are in the blue and yellow coats. They were an enormous help! Thanks girls!

Sunday was mercifully calm. Tony and my dad went to the gun club to sight in their rifles and now they are all ready for the whitetail firearms season to open this Saturday. We watched the Vikings lose in grand fashion, then switched over to see a similar fate fall upon our beloved Wild. The discovery of "A Haunting" marathon on Discovery saved the day, however, and we watched until that was over. Then when Tony went up to get clothes ready, I turned on Jane Eyre again. I'll have to discuss that in another post...I think I'm in love with Toby Stephens. Ahhhhh!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

If someone compliments your sweater, then asks if you made it, is it still a compliment?

I'm gonna say yes. I wore the Cable Yoke Sweater today for the second time, but it was the first time out in the actual public eye (the neighbors don't count). At the neighbors' house last Friday, nothing was said at all about my sweater. I took that as a compliment in itself - that hopefully it wasn't too obvious that it was handmade.

I'm wearing it today with a cute coral-colored tank underneath - to both deter itch and hide bra straps - and Ben's preschool teacher first said how beautiful it was...then asked me if someone made it for me. She continued to be so sincerely complimentary, though, that I won't take it as a bad thing that she recognized that it was handmade. She did say that she, too, is a knitter so it stands to reason that she would recognize a handmade sweater.

So I'm good.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Airing of all things Stash...and a Shooting Star!!

I saw a shooting star! 4:40 a.m., clear black sky, and 36 degrees will do that, I s'pose. Sammy and I made our wishes and no, I'm not gonna tell you!

Speaking of 36 degrees, it must be the cool crisp air of a Minnesota October that gets me in the mood to air all things Stash, yarn or otherwise. I don't get into spring cleaning half as much as I get into fall cleaning. Realizing that the house is going to be shut up for the next 6 months will do that, I s'pose.

The airing of the yarn stash happened last Friday. Though I've been a knitter/crocheter for many years, I've been cheap for my entire life and until recently had a hard time purchasing anything other than Red Heart Super Saver. Then a couple of years ago when I bought a Knifty Knitter, I also bought a lot of novelty yarn (have I ever mentioned the Scarf/Hat Extravaganza of 2005?) I pulled out my underbed plastic boxes and found a horrendously large number of hideous partial balls of acrylic and glittery disgusting boucle/furry novelty yarns.

I have no plans to partake in another Scarf/Hat Extravaganza and I know no one, charity cases included, who would benefit from a scratchy acrylic hat that turns into a wet snowball come December. There are better acrylics out there and heck, there are inexpensive wool blends - so what was stopping me?

Nothing! I went through all the boxes, consolidated what I wanted and tossed what I never planned to touch again. This led to the cleaning of my closet (shudder) and the decision to frog Breezy Cables . I had a little heart palpitation there...but I think it's something that has to be done. The back is done, one front side is almost done, and one sleeve is about a third done, but I really have a hard time thinking I'll ever get back into it. Firstly, it's acrylic (TLC Essentials). Secondly, it's robin's egg blue acrylic. After having knit a few things with 100% merino, I look at this project and frown. It's just not working. There, I've said it. I took the remaining two new balls and cast on for the Uma Sweater from The Natural Knitter and I'll use those up before I commence frogging. I'm sure I'll be ready by then. Talk about going from one extreme to the other: all over cables and box stitch to garter stitch. Couldn't we all use a little truly mindless knitting?

Back to airing. Stash airing led to closet cleaning, which led to bedroom and hallway cleaning. Then I had to look at the guest room that my darling Ben has turned into Star Wars Playstation Annihilation Central - sprinkled with plastic faceted beads and puzzle pieces with a few outgrown clothes thrown in - so I hit that one too. I vacuumed the stairs even! Downstairs wasn't nearly as bad, just had to remove the top layer of Golden Retriever fur and everything looked bright and shiny again.

Another stash I set out to air yesterday was my plastic food storage container and bakeware collection. We all have them, don't try to hide cuz I can see you - you right there behind the cooling racks! My plastics reside in a black hole-like upper corner cabinet, are never nested properly by other members of my household, and invariably go on the attack whenever the cupboard is opened. My bakeware is much the same except it lives in my island. I emptied both cupboard and island, wiped down the insides, and tossed everything that I hadn't touched in the last week. That might seem extreme, but I was nearing mutinous levels of take n' toss plastic containers, gallon ice cream bucket lids (where the heck did the buckets go?), and one cake pan with the nonstick coating flaking off. I don't need that in my life, so I tossed it all! Now I have at least two bright and shiny cabinets! The spice cabinet is whispering it's taunts...

Fruit flies led to my thorough disinfection of the entire kitchen (I told Tony not to buy the bananas!) which wasn't complete until I'd baking soda and vinegar'd the drains. Bleeeeaaaahhh! All better now.

My infernal job has been getting in the way of my knitting...silly office had to go and move...AGAIN...so I'm stuck with the job of changing every phone number and address everywhere it occurs in documents, database, and on the website. Icky. I needed a break, hence this post.

Now I'd better get back to it. There's no preschool today, thus no reason to leave the house, so I'd better be able to get in some knitting time. That is if the 6 baskets of clean laundry waiting to be folded would SHUT UP ALREADY!!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

So what's your point?

All right, I admit it...I succumbed to the peer pressure put unto me by the Cable Yoke Sweater. (there's something really wrong with that statement - I just put myself on the same level as knitted animal fiber).

Wrong though it may seem, knitting really does talk. So does yarn. In the same way the Ombre Acrylic Blanket is taunting me on a daily basis, so did the Cable Yoke Sweater strongly urge me to keep knitting until I was done. And I am done! It's pinned to the floor drying as we speak and I really love it. Another note in my defense, I did sit down and knit on the blanket for an hour this morning before the urchins awoke.

The sweater was very easy to knit and moved quickly, however it was not without its issues. There were no errors in the pattern, so everything was fine that way. I love the yarn; Patons Classic Merino in Natural Mix is exactly what I love - a rustic tonal natural shade and it was perfect. I happen to really love feminine designs done in rougher hues.

The body went perfectly. I added a couple short rows to the back and sailed along until the armholes. I stuck with the pattern direction to bind off 10 stitches for each armhole (rather than put them on a holder and graft them at the end). It didn't much matter to me. The arms came together just as well as the body. I used 2 circulars until I had enough to fit onto a 16" circular.
Ready for the yoke!

I was totally pumped! The cable pattern was easy to follow, but I did have to knit back on a couple of rows because I'd lost my place. It was quick to knit though and there was no raglan shaping involved. All shaping was done by changing the needle size. The body/yoke up until about 1" past the completion of the cables were done with size 8's, then size 6's were used until the point of the neck ribbing, which was done in size 4 needles.

So I'm knitting along perfectly happy and I completed the yoke and neck ribbing per the pattern instructions. I bound off then tried it on. I was not happy.

First an explanation. After I had my kids, I could not wear turtlenecks anymore. I have no idea why. I used to love turtlenecks and I lived in turtlenecks in the winter months. However now, for some reason, any time fabric is touching my neck, I feel as though I'm being choked. That's what this sweater did. The crewneck was just barely touching my neck, but that was enough and I knew I wouldn't wear it, even though I loved the rest of the sweater, if I didn't fix this.

When I knit a sweater, I pretty much follow the pattern to the letter. Yeah, I can add short rows to a back but even if I'm using the Sweater Workshop formulas, I still follow it all to a T. I stood in front of the mirror for a while, trying to figure out what to do. My first thought was a v-neck. I sought The Sweater Workshop for guidance, but that persuaded me not to do the v-neck. I wasn't interested in performing math calculations on 1x1 rib. So I ripped.

What's ironic is the point at which I stopped ripping is right about where I took the picture above. I stopped about 1 1/2" above the end of the cables. I stuck the caps on my Knit Picks Options cables and threaded half the stitches on one, half on another. I tried it on again. This was it! The neckline was in a sort of boatneck or wide-but-shallow scoopneck shape and it was perfect! Next, I put markers at each raglan seamline and at the center front and center back. I decreased on either side of each marker all the way around (decreased 12 sts), then bound off in 1x1 rib. I didn't try it on again, but it looked good to me so I sure hope I didn't biff that neckline.
So the sweater is laying on a towel in my living room, pinned, damp, and drying. I can't wait to wear it!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A moment to breathe...

What day is it today? Oh yeah, Thursday. They all run together lately. For some strange reason, I thought that school starting would bring a sort of respite to my world, that I'd be able to fall back into a nice easy schedule and things would be all wine and roses.


Last night, fueled by a PMS storm of emotion and a post-flu lethargy guilt trip, I got angry about the state of my side of the Little Mountain. My daily life has been a frenzied mess of running kids here and there, running the dog out and in, running to and from cabinets trying to satiate my son, The Bottomless Pit, and all the while bobbing along in a sea of laundry and blowing aside the dust bunnies. It really is everywhere.

On top of all that, I actually have a job. I'm an administrative assistant in the electric industry. I've done this work for many years now and I've been lucky enough to work from home since my middle son was diagnosed with autism. It's a blessing to be working from home since it means I can contribute something to the household while still being able to take him to the therapies he needs. It's also a curse.

When I worked full time, we got up very early and the kids went to daycare and I went to work. I came home and had lots of housework, but comparatively less than now because when you work outside the home, typically nobody is left at home to make a mess! Now that I work from home, there's always some other living thing here with me doing something to add to the sum total of my work. Then there's the annoying fact that my husband and I discussed and actually agreed that since I'm home and he works, I'd be responsible for all housework. Could I really be THAT stupid?

So as I sat knitting this morning at 5:11 a.m., I decided I needed a schedule. Here's what it looks like:
  • 4:40-6:30 a.m. - Walk on treadmill, knit/read/listen to podcasts or audiobook
  • 6:30-7:00 a.m. - Shower/dress
  • 7:00-8:20 a.m. - Get kids all ready, clean up kitchen/pick up house/run laundry
  • 8:20-9:15 a.m. - Get kids off to school (which means put Luke on his bus to the school across town, get Alicia off to her bus or drive Alicia to school when she's on crossing guard duty, take Ben to preschool when he has it)
  • 9:15-11:15 a.m. - Work (or volunteer at schools when I'm scheduled)
  • 11:15-11:45 a.m. - Pick Ben up from preschool/blog/clean up/laundry
  • 11:45-1:30 p.m. - Lunch/laundry/clean up/knit/watch Knitty Gritty
  • 1:30-3:30 p.m. - Work
  • 3:30-4:00 p.m. - Clean up/await the arrival of Luke and Alicia
  • 4:00 p.m. - Pick Alicia up at school when she's on crossing guard duty/leave for Buffalo (on Thursdays when Luke has occupational and speech therapy)
  • 4:00-5:45 p.m. - On Thursdays, sit in the van and knit or read while Luke is at therapy (otherwise known as trying very hard to resist the temptation to fondle yarn at Silver Creek Cabin); on every other day, figure out what to feed the herd/clean up/laundry
  • 5:45-7:00 p.m. - Clean up after dinner/dishes/homework/pick up/laundry
  • 7:00-bedtime - Sit like a lump in my spot on the sectional (the chaise part!) with a pillow behind my back and knitting on my lap.

I'm really going to try to stick to this. The one thing I know is that I need my little bit of alone time each morning and my time in the evening to stay intact. I have to knit. It's like breathing and it keeps me somewhat sane, although that isn't likely to happen until I get a handle on the disarray of my home.

Anyway, knitting-wise, I realized yesterday that I was one month away from the second deadline I've given myself for completing the Ombre Alpaca (Acrylic) Blanket. November 10 is my brother's birthday and I am gunning for having it in his condo in the Bronx by that date. I'm 3" from joining sleeves and body to begin the yoke of the Cable Yoke Pullover. It is going to take an extraordinary amount of restraint on my part to set the pullover aside and finish the blanket. It would take next to no time to finish that sleeve and get going on the yoke, but I know that if I did that now, I would never be able to put it down until it was finished. I need something subliminal, chanting the words "Blanket first, the Pullover will wait". Here's where I am now:

I have two colors of yarn left and I cannot miss my second deadline for this blanket! Ahhhhhh, help me!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Yay, the weekend!

I have quite a productive and pleasant weekend before me. The Beastmaster and my daughter are off to Pequot Lakes to ready the deer stands for hunting in a few weeks and they'll be gone until Sunday afternoon. During Ben's preschool yesterday, I went over to Silver Creek Cabin in Buffalo, my nearest LYS. With the prospect of a weekend of unhindered knitting, I felt it incumbent upon me to buy something that would make good use of my alone time. I purchased both the child and adult Felted Clog patterns from Fiber Trends and enough Lamb's Pride Bulky to make clogs for my two sons.

I've heard much about this pattern. People seem to think they are just about the best item of footwear in the world - yet, the same people say they are a dog to knit. I've chosen this weekend because I'm making great progress on my Cable Yoke Sweater (body is done and sleeves are 3/4 done) and best of all, there's no husband to make me turn out the lights at night after the kids go to bed. So I'll have some nice time to knit without anything distracting me.

Another highlight of my weekend will be happening shortly. Anyone familiar with Minnesota hockey knows of the North Stars and Lou Nanne. Well Lou has done a book called Minnesota North Stars: History and Memories with Lou Nanne. Lou is going to be at Barnes & Noble in Maple Grove this afternoon to sign the book so I'm there, dude! I bought the book for my dad for Christmas and he'll have a fit when he sees that it's signed. Heck, I'd like the book! It's great and probably the only thing that I would willingly let break up my weekend of wreckless knitting.

On a sad note, I likely will not be able to go to the MN Knitters' Guild Knit Out. I've had my eye on this event all year, but there's nobody here to keep the boys out of my hair. Even though they have expressed far more interest in knitting and knitted things than my daughter, they would be bored to tears by the prospect of an entire afternoon of knitted bliss. Rats! I'll have to wait until next year.

The felted clogs will keep me company.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Frustration averted!

I began a post this morning saying how frustrated I was that my inner designer was being cruelly denied by a heartless eBay seller, but 'lo - I'm back in the saddle!

I know that I'm a creative person - I can draw, paint, arrange furniture, quilt, sew, decorate tastefully for Christmas, and I'd like to think I can knit or crochet anything I want. However when it comes to designing, I just don't have the tools. No Barbara Walker. No Alice Starmore. No Vogue Stitchionary. I do have Nicky Epstein (Knitting Over the Edge), who has been quite helpful and inspirational, yet not particularly in the direction to which I want to travel. The main thing I learned from Nicky's book is that I really really like color photos of swatches where I can actually see the edges. This is probably why I have no Barbara Walker in my life (though I'm earnestly thinking of "losing" my library copy of her 1st Treasury and forking over the fine).

So I wandered over to eBay and found a Vogue Stitchionary Vol. 1 Knit & Purl. I knew if I strategized correctly I could get it at a good price. Luck bent my way and I scored a copy for $16.00. That was last Wednesday.

Now I know that was a week ago, but for pepperoni's sake, I paid immediately and I wanted my book! The Cast-On podcast has got my brain whirling at Muzzy Broadhead speed and I simply cannot be kept waiting lest my zeal go flying off into the first buck to roam in front of my window!! (um, can you tell what the talk has been around my house lately?)

Well, my "patience" was rewarded today by good ol' Ms. Postman - she brought me my book!!! I like it! I'll probably be looking at it all night. Ok, so here's what's prompted my zest for designing:

They are just balls of Lion Wool, purchased on clearance last spring at Walmart, but I hand dyed them with Wilton icing dyes (bottom two) and tea and Kool-Aid (top). I especially love the yarn on the lower right. Yummy! Looks like fall so I thought it best to photograph them with my trees in the background. My first thoughts are a hat or neckwarmer, but the yarn is mute and I'm content for now to simply watch.

So anyways, the yarn and I are looking at stitch patterns and I'm trying my best to be patient while I wait for the yarn to tell me what it wants to be. For someone who has never experienced the profound event of yarn speaking, that may sound unutterably corny, but I know you know what I mean.

Yarn really does talk.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

I'm in!!!

I'm in Ravelry!!! I just got my invitation! You'll find me there as JRoKnits. It's gonna take me a little bit of time to get myself established - I'm currently populating my bookshelf - bit it's gonna be so much fun! Just had to share!

Ok, this thing is going to keep me up at night! It was a very bad idea indeed for me to get started on Ravelry during the middle of my workday. It's sooooo cool! It is SOOOOO worth the wait to get that invitation. If you're still waiting, take a few minutes each day to jot down notes about your projects, your stash, take pictures of your projects, etc. Once you get started fiddling with Ravelry, you won't want to stop until you've catalogued your entire stash and projects. It's great!

Something new and finished even!

Ugly sock has been frogged...or at least is on it's way to being frogged. Let's face it, sometimes looks really do matter. I am not in mourning. I am moving on.

On to bigger and better things. I finished another Clapotis! This one is what I wanted from the start. I made my first last spring and loved well enough, but it had it's drawbacks. I used Patons SWS in Natural Earth. I thought the yarn felt nice and soft in the ball, but it ended up itching my neck every time I wore it. It was a bit heavy as well, got a bit too fuzzy - what with the yarn being spun in singles and all. Lastly, it proved to me that while I adore autumn, the colors of the season do not suit me well. I am a cool person. Oh yeah, dig it.

So a couple weeks ago I made the 25-mile pilgrimage to JoAnn and bought 4 balls of Patons Decor in Secret Garden (purple, black, green, gray/blue). (This by the way is also my effort to confining yarn purchases to already decided upon projects.) The name of the colorway alone was enough to grab me, but it's absolutely my colors to a tee! I don't think my pictures will do it justice, but here they are:

I love it! It's lightweight, easy care, and just warm enough with the 75/25 acrylic/wool blend. I wasn't sure how well it would block because of it being a blend, but I was pleasantly surprised. There still is a little curl at the points, but that's ok. It's drapey and fantastic! My only modifications from the pattern as written were that I did one extra set of increase rows, one extra set of straight rows, and of course one extra set of decrease rows. It's the perfect shawl size yet because it's lightweight, I think I'd have no problem bunching it up into a scarf. Well, that is if I didn't have a freakish fear of things being around my neck, but that's another story.

There's another sweater on my needles! Oh shut up, I know very well that I have two other sweaters languishing in the basket upstairs, but I don't care. I bought some Patons Classic Wool in Natural Mix intending it to be made into the Placed Cable Aran pullover in Knits Fall '07 but alas, I could not get it to knit to gauge. It seems the yarn is just not chunky enough. Second in line to that sweater was the Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I love the combination of natural rustic looking yarn and feminine details or even lace. However, the yarn was too chunky for this sweater. A bit consternated, I grabbed my copy of "100 Knitting Projects" - not the best, but always good for an inspiration or pattern in a pinch. Well lo and behold was my perfect sweater for the Natural Mix yarn! #50 - The Cable Yoke Pullover.

It's gonna be great! Even if it itches like hell, I can wear a T-shirt underneath. I'm using the rustic colored yarn I love, working in the round, and I'll have my feminine cables in the yoke, much like both the Placed Cable Aran and Tangled Yoke Cardigan. I'm excited! This is 3 evenings of knitting and I'm over half way done with the body. I added one set of short rows to the back and I think that will be fine. I'm itching (no pun intended) to get through the body so I can start the sleeves. I'm gonna do them two at a time on two circulars so they should go quite speedily. Oh, to get to that point!

It's times like this, when I have a fantastic sweater on the needles, that I find my job is really irksome. I love working from home, but here I'm surrounded by all the things that I love and distract me most. Oh well, duty calls, knitting beckons. Brenda Dayne is waiting for me on my iPod and she will help me through my sentence of work-time.

The Ombre Blanket is taunting me again from the other room. Shut up already....before I make the dog sit on you!