Monday, November 26, 2007

Thanksgiving...and a fit of consience.

Hey, how was your Thanksgiving? Once I got done with work-work, then house-work, and got down to the business of cooking-work, I had a great time. My mom came over and that was it. The turkey was perfect (thank you, Alton Brown!) and everything else was exceptionally good. See?

In a post-meal, Arbor Mist/Shiraz haze, I announced that I would not knit on anything else until I finished my brother's Ombre Acrylic Blanket from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I was really good and I'm soooooo close! However....

Progress has definitely quickened since I began using my KnitPicks needles and the 47" cable. I'm about 3" into the final band of color. I'm ridiculously close to finishing, yet yesterday afternoon, my wrists got sore.

So following the Vikings heroic victory over the Giants (Skol Vikings!), I scrapped my vow, looked to the right and saw Drops 79-24...the front is done, but the back was calling my name.

That's ok, I justified. It's such a fast moving knit, I said to myself "I'll just knit the back until this ball of yarn is done." True to my word, I stopped on the back when I finished the ball.

Then I looked to my left. There lay Drops 103-1, with just a teensy weensy bit of its ball of yarn left. Well, that would not do, so I had to knit until that ball of yarn was done. All right, maybe I did just a little bit more. Isn't the brown tweed purdy!

Now I'm at a crossroads, but I think the final decision is clear. I absolutely have got to get this off my back. Just think of what a relief it would be to get this thing done with and shipped off to NY? This blanket is like knitting shackles right now. I must free myself from its grasp. Wanna see my dilemma?

Now, if I were truly conscientious, I might remove the tempting projects entirely. What you can't see in the shot is that a little below the frame is also a pile of books and magazines including both One Skein Wonder books, the last two IKs, Creative Knitting, and Knit n Style. As a side note, those last two magazines are ones I usually cringe at but to my surprise, Creative Knitting has several attractive projects and Knit n Style had ok projects and decent articles. I mostly bought them because I felt I deserved something for working 40 hours in 3.5 days.

So tonight I'm faced with the problem of deciding to which project I'll devote my time. Hmmmm. It's gonna be tough.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What do you do when your VPN kicks you in the head when you're trying to meet a deadline?

I don't know about you, but I.......

....cast on for Drops 103-1! Yaaaaaaaayyyyyy!

I am extremely frustrated right now, which directly translates into 1 1/2 more inches than what's shown in the photo. I really should have known better than to publicize to my professional colleagues my specific intentions regarding what exact time I wanted to send out my meeting agendas today. I've been doing this long enough to know that whenever I do such a thing, my computer decides to poop all over me and I'm left in a caffeinated mix of panic and heart failure.

Casting on was about all I could do to keep from beating my head with my stapler. What also helped goad me on was that I'd had a little Ravelry-based correspondence on the ability of Patons Shetland Chunky Tweeds to successfully translate into the Drops 103-1, plus the fact that I have a sweater's worth of the stuff in Earthy Brown, and that I had a ball, the needles, and the pattern sitting right next to me - already swatched, just calling my name.

It's so cute! I have 6 balls of the yarn, but I know I'm pretty darn sure I'll need more since I'm making size L in the 17 sts/inch gauge. Luckily I think my gauge is a little on the tighter side so it all should work out just fine.

In the meantime, while I would love to keep on knitting away into a blissful yarn stupor, I'd like us all to say a little prayer to the IT gods....WHOA! It worked! VPN is back! Gotta split and get my work done!

Oh yeah...Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Sweater Issues Divert Me from Tooth Pain

I'm trying to psych myself up for Root Canal, Part Deux, but mostly I just want it over with. Yesterday I finally had a day with no pain and very little sensitivity...and then the temporary filling came out! So I'm on a hunger strike until it's all over. I'll divert my mind to sweaters~~~~~(picture a wavy movie scene fading into sweater world!)

I put on my wonderful Cabled Yoke Pullover yesterday:


I love this sweater, even more so since I discovered Sweater Soap. I always thought wool was too itchy for me. Well, I do still have sensitive skin, but this stuff peforms miracles - the sweater is as soft as a cloud. Even my sweater-phobic daughter melted when she touched my arm yesterday. However there is a problem.

Note the attractive boat neck in the photo above? Would have been nice if it stayed that way, but after blocking and one washing, the neck is now in full Flashdance mode. It's ok if I wear a t-shirt underneath, but it feels like it's going to fall off. It's hitting right at the edge of my knobby shoulder bones. I'm going in.

I've been over-thinking this for about a week and last night just went ahead and picked out my bind off (not very fun when you used size 4's!). I restarted the 1x1 ribbing, replaced markers at where I think a raglan seamline would be and at the center front and back. This probably isn't the best method of decreasing in 1x1 rib since it's a little obvious. I might still rip back and do it again with evenly spaced decreases, but I'll see how much it bothers me when I try it on again. I'd also like to add some short rows to the back neck so I can take less than a 10 minute super inspection to figure out which side is the front.

I just want to get it right since I really do love this, my first 100% wool sweater, and if the weather man is right, the snow that's been teasing us for days is going to fall in full force next week.

Now I must decide which sweater would make me feel best while my tooth is repaired...hmmmm. Decisions, decisions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Short-Sleeve Cardigan Pix and Thoughts

You ever have something that you really need to do - like write a term paper or finish your brother's God-forsaken afghan - and suddenly you feel an obsessive need to clean the toilet?

Well, I had an obsessive need to knit this cardigan! A 2 for $6 sale on Patons Shetland Chunky at Michael's was no help. Neither was this fantastic color (dark leaf green) which matches my eyes perfectly! There was no question, it had to be done.

When I started swatching, I knew I was not going to get the recommended gauge of 14 sts/inch with the recommended size 10 needles. I got more like 15 sts/inch and ended up deciding to just go for it at the 38" size using the 10 and 8 needles called for in the pattern. I added 4 extra rows in the yoke since historically I have found the armholes in Fitted Knits patterns to be too shallow. For those extra rows, which were worked back and forth, to keep the yo's intact, I worked to two stitches before the marker, ssk, yo, sl marker, k1, yo, k2tog. You can't even tell.

I did find a couple errors that are not in the currently published errata at Glampyre Knits. I've emailed Stefanie, but I'll include them here for anyone to reference. The final set of instructions for the stockinette/reverse stockinette ridges on the body begin with a RS row and should actually begin with the directive to knit 2 rows instead of just one. This way you get the knit row on the right side to transition into the horizontal ridges and the first purl ridge.

I was happy to see that the sleeves were written in the round. I find it funny that this cardigan, whose instructions are obviously to knit back and forth, has sleeve instructions in the round. The pullovers, which are knit in the round, all have instructions to knit the sleeves flat and seam them later! I don't see the point of that so I've been doing all my sleeves in the round just like how this pattern says. However, when you get to the bordered ribbing and the "next row" instructions with the decreases, they are completely wrong in both the directions and the numbers of stitches you'd end up with. It should read NEXT RND: Knit, inc 2 (0, 2, 2, 0) sts evenly spaced - 36 (36, 40, 44, 44).

I'm very happy with my finished product. The ribbing rides up a little but that's my only complaint. The rest of it fits perfectly. At first, because I live in Minnesota, I questioned the practicality of a short-sleeved cardigan. As I wore it, however, I realized that a short-sleeved cardi is perfect for me. I often roll up my sleeves while I work and all the time when I knit. Even when I use circulars, my needles sometimes get caught up inside longer sleeves. Then there's the times when I'm trying to cook, or helping with homework, or doing laundry, blah blah blah. So for me, you see, this cardigan is ideal.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Two Tone Shrug Pics

It's the Two Tone Shrug from Fitted Knits. Yay!

I love it! It took just over 1 skein of Patons Classic Wool in Brown and one skein of Lion Wool that I hand-dyed with Wilton Icing Dyes. If I'd chosen two colors of the Patons, it would have only taken two skeins, one of each color.

I followed the numbers for the 15" size but since my gauge was a little larger than the pattern called for, it ended up being about 16". I was unsure of how exactly to measure - should I measure the area between the shoulders or from the edge of one shoulder to the edge of another? Ravelry came to the rescue, as usual, because I was able to not only look at pictures of everyone's finished shrugs but also read comments on the sizing, yarns, etc. Love it!

The whole project breezed along wonderfully and I've worn it 3 times now. The only thing that I notice as a slight problem is that I neglected to knit one round in the contrast color before beginning the ribbing on the sleeves. Thus, there is a color blip that I could do without. I'm still trying to decide if it bothers me enough to redo it or if I'll just make another. My daughter even said how cute it was, but of course when I asked her if she'd like one, she promptly said no, thank you. Kinda sad, because I love to knit for other people...but I also love to knit for myself so I'm doing quite well.

My contrasting color was a skein of Lion Wool that I'd hand-painted with Wilton Icing Dyes. I wound it around my kitchen island, tied it in several places, and laid it in a 13x9 pan with a little water in the bottom. I mixed my colors in squirty bottles - kinda like those picnic ketchup bottles - and dotted it around the pan. I was originally going for more of a brown mixture, but it ended up a beautiful autumn-y mix of oranges, pinks and light browns and beiges.

After painting the yarn, I cooked it in the microwave until the dye had exhausted, then hung it outside on my planter hangers to dry. My daughter really loves this when her bus goes right by our house and yarn is draped all over the place! I wound it up and stared at it for about a month and a half before the idea came to me to use it in the shrug.

I'd seen the pattern in the book, obviously, but never considered making it because I didn't know how to fit it. Then after seeing it on Ravelry, I was convinced. I held the brown Patons wool from my stash against my hand-dye and it was perfect. This is a great pattern for stash crashing!

The yarn really does talk, you sometimes just have to wait until it has something to say!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Happy Birthday to ME!

Yep, Saturday was my birthday. Now I'm 34. My husband had been calling me 34 for months, saying that it was "close enough", but I wasn't willing to concede until the last possible moment. So as of 4:38 p.m. on Saturday, November 10, I am 34.

What did I get for my birthday, you ask? The kids gave me Brain Age 2 (I need all the help I can get), my dad and step mom gave me money (promptly used for Mason-Dixon Knitting), my mom gave me the Minnesota North Stars history book, and Tony is holding out until Christmas (presumably because the gift idea he has is too huge for birthday alone). But there was another, far better gift than I could have ever imagined...

A root canal!!!!

Aren't you jealous? When I first described my sudden tooth sensitivity to my mother, she gleefully exclaimed "I wonder if you need a root canal! I was about your age when I needed my first!" She said it in a way that made it sound like some sort of an accomplishment. In that case, I did it. Yay me! After this Friday, I hope I never have to experience it again.

The root canal did, however, afford me some excellent guilt-free knitting time. I got a free ticket out of Alicia's basketball tournament on Saturday so I spent all day working on the Short-Sleeved Cardigan from Fitted Knits. This sweater kind of snuck up on me. I bought the yarn (Patons Shetland Chunky, Dark Leaf Green) last week when it was on sale for something like $3 a ball at Michael's. I couldn't resist immediately swatching and casting on. Even though I've found several errors (in addition to the already published errata), they were easy enough to spot and remedy so I got through it ok. I made the 38" size, but I wish I'd made the 40". Because my gauge is a little tighter than called for, even though I followed the 38" numbers, it's actually a little smaller than that. It will be wearable, for sure, but we'll see if I feel self-conscious about wearing something so fitted.

I had a little trouble figuring out exactly how to pick up the button bands. Every time I counted I got way more stitches than I was supposed to. I eventually did get it right though and all that remains is to find the right buttons. I'll look at Walmart, but if I don't find anything there (highly likely), I'll hit Joann's on Wednesday.

I'll take some pictures tomorrow when the daylight is fresh again, but I wanted to get this post out now while all is still in my head. Have a great evening!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Coffee and Pop Tarts

I'm sure I'll be in a sugar-induced stupor soon, but that's what the coffee is for. Plus, I'd forgotten just how good those evil things are! I bought them yesterday - or rather Walmart's generic version - because Ben was being exceedingly cute and I was feeling equally generous. I am now convinced that though they are, of course, still abundantly evil, there are not many taste sensations that could pair with a cup of coffee so ideally. I needed it this morning.

It hasn't been a bad morning. Last night, I finished the Two-Tone Shrug from Fitted Knits and I'm wearing it now. It rocks! Even Alicia said "ooooohhhh, that's cuuuueeeettttte" in her 11-year-old way. Alas, no pictures yet because the camera is up north waiting patiently for someone to shoot a deer. They have shot 3, but last year by this time in the week, I think they'd had 7 or 8. The camera will be back tomorrow though and pics will be taken.

This morning Lucas had an appointment to see Dr. Thomas Sult at Williams Integracare Clinic in Sartell, MN. When I first looked up DAN! doctors 3 years ago, I quickly saw that in my area, there were no MD's. There were chiropracters, optometrists and accupuncturists. I wanted an MD not only for the medical school piece of mind it would offer, but then perhaps I'd have a prayer of my insurance company covering something. Dr. Sult fits the bill perfectly. He's a family practitioner who supports every mode of autism treatment that our regular pediatrician scoffed at. We've used a combination of vitamin/mineral supplementation and chelation with great results. He rocks too!

The appointment was at 8:15 a.m. The boys had to wake up at 6:30 and we left at 7:30. Alicia stayed home and got off to school on her own. The goal of this visit was to get all the test kits and instructions, and from there we will reevaluate Luke's current condition and his treatment plan. There are 3 tests. The first test is an organic acids test. This test looks for the byproducts of yeast, fungi, and even bacteria in the intestinal tract. It's the easiest sample to collect because you only need a small amount of first morning urine. However, it's $284 if you pay out of pocket up front, $474 to submit it to insurance.

The second test is the Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis with Parasitology (Random) - wheeee! (CDSA for short). This one involves 3 stool collections, taken 3 consecutive days. This one doesn't scare me either. It's another biggie: $370 up front, $475 for insurance.

The third is the Toxic Element Clearance Profile which tests for heavy metal contamination. Last time we did it, it showed high levels of both lead and mercury. For the test, Luke will take 8 capsules of a chelating agent (DMSA - nasty stinky stuff), then we will collect all his urine for 6 hours. Definitely a weekend project. The last time we did this, we emptied the capsules into pop and though it stunk to high heaven, he drank it and didn't seem to notice. His senses are a little more refined now, though, than they were 3 years ago so we'll see how it goes. I might have to try to teach him to swallow pills. Beyond that, the collection part shouldn't be that bad. Last time we did it, he was not potty trained and I left him naked and followed him around the house for 6 hours with a small jar. The redeeming quality of this test is that it's the least expensive of the 3 tests: $58 up front, $118 for insurance.

My project for the next few days is to go over the shipping rules and limitations and strategize exactly when and how we will do this. Then I'll also need to investigate our insurance policy. I am hopeful that my insurance company will cover these tests. We are fortunate enough to have a policy written out of Indiana, a state which has a law mandating insurance coverage for those with a pervasive developmental disorder (such as Asperger's or autism) and they may not be denied coverage for services rendered necessary for their condition. I hope they will cover these tests. Unless I get a definitive answer soon, I'll be paying the discounted up front cost, then submitting the tests to insurance later. I'd hate to rely on my insurance, then get stuck with $1000 of test costs.

For those who would like to know more about these tests, you could check out William Shaw, Ph.D's book Biological Treatments for Autism and PDD. It's intensely scientific, but it was right up my alley and has been a good reference book. There are more user friendly books that give the same kind of information though. If you're considering the GFCF diet, Special Diets for Special Kids by Lisa Lewis has, in addition to a great selection of recipes, a comprehensive section that focuses on the science of the diet and other popular biomedical treatments for autism spectrum disorders.

Well now that I've written a novel, I think I'll take a knit break to calm my caffeine/sugar charged brain before getting back to the work-grind. I'm swatching for the Short-Sleeved Bulky Cardi, or more accurately, whatever I can make with Patons Shetland Chunky after I've determined a fabric density I like. Whatever will that be?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Breezy Cables has Blown Away........

Did I ever show you Breezy Cables?

It's a Kathy Zimmerman pattern from the Spring 2006 IK. I began this in Fall 2006. The pics are a little dark, but as you can see, it's heavy on the cables and texture. I love love love the finished pattern.

I hate hate hate that I have to pay so much attention to knitting it though! It's ridiculous! The 4 most hateful words to me when I'm looking at a pattern are "at the same time." Yeah, I think you know what I mean.

The back went along fairly easily actually. I love cables and texture and having to follow a repeating pattern helped make it progress quickly. I also learned how to cable without a cable needle which was great. I made a zillion copies of the chart and marked each in sequence and noted where all the shaping happened. Then came the fronts.

As you can see, I've never even finished the first front. I got through the "at the same time" crap and needed to come up for air. I've never gone back to it. It did all work out fine, but it was so tedious to have to keep two separate sets of notes and keep the pattern straight and stop the pattern here and start it up again there that it quickly lost its appeal. Not to mention that at age 33 (for 4 more days), I felt like I needed a magnifying glass to read that darned magazine and I'm not ready for that yet.

A couple months ago I tried starting a sleeve, but at this point, nothing was drawing me to this project anymore. Not the yarn, not the pattern, not the work I'd already done, not even the finished product. I had chosen to make this in TLC Essentials in Robin Egg. I'm cheap and I'm learning that this is not always a virtue. Great for afghans, not even mildly acceptable for an aran cardigan.

Then the color - a mild blue with a hint of green (duh, robin egg). I do still like the color, but I've come to realize that I'm not going to wear a robin egg cardigan because it isn't going to remotely go with anything I own. Even though I'll admit that what I have already knit is excellently done, it doesn't even look attractive to me anymore through the gross sheen of the acrylic. It's not squishy or cuddly. It wouldn't keep me warm and darn it, I want to be warm when I put on a sweater!

So even though I have not frogged my work yet, Breezy Cables will go the way of the whispering winds as soon as I run out of the rest of the unused yarn. From one extreme to another, I've cast on for the Uma Sweater in The Natural Knitter (BTW, can I live in this book, please?). Could there be anything more opposite? It's a U-neck garter stitch - ALL garter stitch - pullover. It would be delicious in a lofty merino, but I'll make it out of the robin egg acrylic and wear it over my long sleeve T's. I'm cheap, and all that yarn has to go to some kind of use.

If I get sick of garter stitch, I can always make the pieces of the sweater into some kind of out of proportion Log Cabin blanket.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Tough Weekend

I got my Knit Picks order today. The needles are fabulous and the yarn (WotA Sapphire Heather) is as beautiful as the glittering night sky. The Knitter's Book of Yarn is wonderful. It's huge, easy to read, extremely informative about all fibers, and the patterns are exquisite. Louder than Words is compelling and easy to read, heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. It gives me a little more impetus to continue pursuing a book of my own, however, because her son's story began quite differently than mine. Autism is what I want to talk about tonight.

Yesterday, Tony and Alicia left to go hunting, leaving me alone with the two boys until Sunday and without Tony until probably next Friday. I love my boys dearly and we often have a great time together, but I always have a little dread about being alone with them because they are true partners in crime and I don't have a lot of faith in how well I can handle the naughty things they do. Mostly I'm a patient mother, but there are days when everything rubs me the wrong way. We've had a few of those days.

We have 3 ice cream buckets full of Halloween candy - one of all the stuff Luke can have and two full of everything which before eating, he needs to take enzymes to help his body process the gluten and/or casein. Thursday we picked up fundraiser products, of which we also ordered candy. Luke really loves mint and we'd bought some little minty chocolate covered cat's paws candy. Those also fall into the must-have-enzymes-first category.

I don't know how he did it, but Friday evening I walked by the kitchen table and noticed that the package of the cat's paws was empty. Ben told me that "Woo-cas ate all of them." At that point, enzymes were futile. Ever since yesterday night, Luke has been a frenzied mess of stimming - obsessively playing with his stuffed animals acting out the same scenes from Backyardigans over and over, babbling constantly, spinning, and picking at invisible things in the air. I hate it. I hate it because I don't know how my boy is feeling and I can't do anything to help him. His body just has to work it all out.

Frenzied might not be the best word to describe it. Lucas was still alert enough to always respond correctly to me and he talked to me quite normally, except whenever he wasn't actively engaged by me or his brother, he went right back into his stimming behaviors. It was like an unseen force compelled him to keep up that movement.

I heard a racket upstairs and when I went to check it out, found their room a complete mess. It shouldn't have gotten me as upset as I was - they are two boys, 7 and 5, sharing a room - but I was upset. I tipped Luke's mattress up and spent 30 minutes pulling handfulls of garbage out from under his captain's bed. I was furious and I made them leave until I had it all under control. 3 garbage bags and 1 give-away pile later.

The boys alternately fought and played their way through dinner. Then Luke went to the bathroom and somehow ended up getting #2 all over the toilet seat and himself. I got mad at him. I'm so ashamed of it. It wasn't his fault. When his diet gets messed up, his poop gets messed up. The poor kid was even cleaning it up when I got in there and I still got mad.

Then later when I held him and told him it was all ok, wasn't his fault, I wasn't mad, and that I was sorry for yelling, the little angel looked into my teary eyes with teary eyes of his own and said "it's ok Mom...are you sad?"

That boy is something indescribably special. He's amazing, not for one thing, but for everything he is and has all wrapped up in his 7 year old self. You can't meet him and not love him. God has gifted that boy with incredible knowledge and insight. He'll do amazing things one day.

Once, a relative said to me "it must be hard to have to lower your expecations for him after getting a diagnosis like that." I angrily replied back that I haven't lowered my expectations at all. I don't expect any of my children to go into any particular field of study or profession, but I have the highest expectations that they will use their talents to the best of their abilities and throw their entire beings into whatever they choose, whether it's a neurosurgeon or a night-shift custodian.

It's late and I'm tired, but I have a lot of laundry to fold. Tomorrow we'll have a good 5 hours in the car, trekking to Pequot Lakes and back to get Alicia, so I'd better get some shut eye tonight.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Holiday Knitting...I've got the blues (but it's okay because I have presents too!)

And not for the reason you might think. Am I overwhelmed with projects and don't know how I'm going to finish them? Am I staring at the ceiling each night wondering what the heck to make everybody on my list? Am I worried I won't please anybody with their gift?

Nope. Not me.

Last November I crocheted a sweater for my mom and this year I'm making the Ombre Acrylic Nightmare - er, Blanket - for my brother, but I haven't done any holiday gift knitting since the Scarf and Hat Extravaganza of 2005. That year I made 9 hats and 15 scarves. It was craziness!

That was a little much, so I'd hoped not to do that much again, but I didn't expect that I wouldn't be doing any gift knitting. I'm kind of sad. Here's the deal....

The Husband sees the idea of a sweater/hat/scarf/socks or anything knit for him and expected to be worn by him as torture and a threat. He gets nothing and likes it.

The Girl, as I've said many times before, said to me "Mom, I don't like knitted things." She gets nothing and likes it. Well she does want a striped rib hat to match her new winter jacket, but that's all she wants.

Bigger Boy loves anything I make. He doesn't specifically ask for anything, but he'll take anything I make.

Smaller Big Boy loves anything I make. He's begging me to finish his blue sweater.

Everybody else already has a scarf or hat, my mom has a sweater, and my brother will eventually have this beast of a blanket. What more could they want? The other attitude prevailing in my household is that a handmade gift isn't enough. Nevermind that the yarn for my mom's birthday sweater last year cost $50 and hours and hours to crochet, Tony didn't think it was good enough to give that on its own and we bought another gift to go with it.

It's not that I don't know my family well enough to decide what to make for each of them. On the contrary, I think I know them well enough to understand that they don't want anything and I'm not about to force anything knitted upon them. Plus, everybody at my house but me sweats year round so they don't need any wool in their lives. I pity them. More for me. My hands are cold.

On one hand, I'd love to be the person who is constantly asked to make things for others, but then again, I wouldn't have as much time to knit for myself. Which brings me to my presents!

The first half - the package from Amazon - came yesterday. I started reading Jenny McCarthy's book and it's pretty good. Her son's story is vastly different from my son's but I'll save all those details for a review when I've finished it. I haven't looked at the Knitter's Book of Yarn much yet, but I can tell you that I'm DYING to sit by the fire and read until I fall over! It's huge! I'm so psyched and so ready to soak up some knowledge about yarn. This book is jam packed with info. I'll review that too once we've gotten to know each other.

My Knit Picks package should be arriving tomorrow. Package tracking said it was only 25 miles from my house at 3 a.m. this morning. I was hopeful for today, but certainly it will be tomorrow. Yeeee! Of course that does mean I'll have to work on that blanket...

I'll let you know if I survive.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The yarn is talking again...and Sam contributes to my progress.

Ahhhh, it's November and now we can all come down from the Halloween sugar-high. After a cold blustery day yesterday, the winds died down and it wasn't all that bad last night. I love a nice cool October, but it's never fun for the kids when they have to cover their costumes in winter gear for the sake of a little candy. Correction...a LOT of candy. Luke made me take a picture of his bag after we'd been down one side of the block. There was a ton in the end!

The candy was checked and sorted into either the GFCF bucket or the regular bucket and now comes the challenge of rationing until Christmas. We can do it.

On Tuesday, the yarn started talking to me again. This time is was the 9 or so balls of Lion Brand Landscapes in Autumn Trails. This yarn started out life as the Indulge Yourself cashmere pullover from the Yarn Girls' Guide to Beyond the Basics. It's a cowl neck A-line swingy looking pullover that of course I could not dream of doing in cashmere (somewhere between ouch and boing!!!), so I chose Landscapes. It was going along well, but I lost my stride somewhere along a sleeve and just didn't think it was going to work out. Off to the frog pond it went.
I made one Cabled Wedding Hat from the same Yarn Girls' book, but that didn't take up nearly enough yarn. It is my favorite hat though, soft and warm and gorgeous.

The rest of the yarn sat in hand-wound balls until I bought a winder, then it sat in nicely wound cakes. Forever. Then I bought Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits and spied the Alexandra Ballet Neck Pullover. It was a great idea, but of course, I incorrectly calculated gauge - or rather I incorrectly compensated for my lack of gauge. It was too big.

Some otherworldly force led me to Loop-d-Loop by Teva Durham. I love looking through this book and one design that has always spoken loudly to me is the Assymetrical Mock Cable Vest. The unexplained Force also drove me to the pile of Landscapes, which really wasn't hard since Alexandra hadn't been frogged yet and sat right before me on the table. I swatched on size 11 straights and had gauge...first try even! Alas, no size 11 circulars. How does that happen when I seem to have multiples of every other size needle? Walmart's needles stopped at 10 1/2 and I neither wanted to drive to Maple Grove for $6 needles nor Buffalo for $20 needles. So I compromised and cast on for the largest size on my size 10 1/2 circulars.

Turns out this yarn is absolutely fabulous in this pattern! Each stitch shows the yarn off in a different way. The reverse stockinette is muted, the stockinette is the highlight, and the Irish Moss glows as it peeks out from the centers of the "cables". The larger portion of moss stitch in the back is going to be indescribably beautiful.

I started this on Tuesday. I arrogantly thought I could finish it to wear out trick-or-treating with the kids last night. Early Wednesday morning, Sam inadvertently fed my arrogance by waking me up at 3 a.m. puking and pooping. I didn't feel comfortable turning out the lights again once he'd relieved himself sufficiently from each end so we turned on the fire. He slept and I knit. I really thought I could do it, but I only got mostly through the upper front. I wasn't too bothered by that. I wore my Unisex Tweed Pullover instead. One Teva for another.

I finished the knitting on the vest this morning and wove in ends and crocheted the edging during my lunch break. I might have 1 full ball leftover, but it's in 5 separate mini balls, so I think it will go bye-bye. What a fantastic stash busting project this was! It fit the available quantity of yarn to a tee. The vest is washed and blocked and waiting to dry. I chose to wash, then block because this vest really needs blocking to make the patterns all behave and I didn't think the spray bottle was going to cut it. The moss stitch inside the stockinette "cables" wants to pucker, but that's how it looks in the book too so I'm not worried about it. I'm hoping that in the end, this will fit me a little loose, like it does the model in the book.
I already know that it fits me because I tried it on pre-washing. I also know that I'll wear this no matter how it fits. What's not to love about a soft, warm vest that goes with everything?