Monday, December 15, 2008


Thorpe and Super Mittens
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
That's about all there is to say today. Right now, at 9:13 a.m. CST, it's -8 with a -28 windchill. That's up from a -35 windchill when the kids left for the bus. Eek.

So yesterday I made Thorpe, thinking that a Fair Isle 100% bulky wool earflap hat would be just the thing to keep me warm.


I'm still a rookie at stranded knitting so apparently I must not knit as tightly when doing color work as I do when knitting plain stuff. If I'd known that, I would not have gone up a needle size.

Everything went along very nicely and the hat looks great, but it's a bit too big. Which is weird since I measured gauge and was afraid it wouldn't be big enough.

The patterned section is a big too long and loose and the garter stitch is waaaay too loose. The cold air is flying right through those bad boys.

It is so cute though and I'm not willing to give up on it just yet.

Those mittens, on the other hand, were a huge success! They are the Super Mittens from Weekend Knitting - my first and possibly forever favorite knitting book. I had bits of 3 colors of Lamb's Pride Bulky leftover from my kids' felted clogs. When I knew the deep freeze was coming, I decided to cast on and see how far I got. Lo and behold, I was able to get two pairs out of the leftovers - one for me and one for a boy, any boy.

The mittens are fantastic. So fast, so cute, and so warm. They are, indeed, super!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Clogs Abound!

All the clogs
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
My twin brother showed up this past weekend for a visit. Yay! Even though he often is an arrogant jerk, it was nice to see him and the kids adore him. Want an example of arrogant jerk-i-ness?

Me: Would you like me to make some coffee now?
Him: Yes, please.
Me: Do you want regular, French vanilla, or cinnamon spice?
Him: Regular. (then after seeing that it was Folger's) Uh, wait, maybe this stuff will be ok (the cinnamon spice).

No, Jamie, I am not a coffee snob. I do not have the luxury of being single. Here's another example...I made an apple pie and he did not want any when the rest of us had some. A short time later...

Him: Hey, can I have some apple pie now?
Me: Sure.
Him: [blank stare and awkward moment] Umm, ok, I guess I'll get it myself.
Mom: Your arms aren't broken! Get up and get it yourself!

Now for a normal person, I would probably be the good hostess and serve the pie myself. But my brother is a jerk who thinks everyone needs to wait on him. He's 35 years old. Nope, not me. He can get his own darn pie!

Now the story of the clogs. I heard about Bro's visit a couple weeks before the fact. I thought a pair of clogs might be a nice gift for the kids to give him. I asked him if he'd want some, what colors would he like and what is his shoe size. Sure, he'd like some and how about MN Wild colors? That's our hockey, green, gold.

Wait, what the heck is his shoe size? Darn brother! I sent another message (because forget trying to reach him by phone) but I had a good idea of his size so I went ahead and bought the yarn. I got Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted in Red Fox and Elf Green. 2 skeins each. I already had a nice gold at home that I'd dyed myself.

I bought the yarn on Wednesday. Got a text that night that Bro is a US size 9.5. Ok, good. Thursday got another text saying that he actually is more like a US size 9. Oye. I decided to go with the mens size medium and figured if I could get these suckers knit on Friday, I'd felt them early Saturday and pray the dryer would get them dry enough to give to him Saturday afternoon.

I knit like a madwoman on Friday, working just enough to satisfy my company that I wasn't slacking off. Soles and cuffs were done in green, two rounds of gold before the short rows of the foot, then red for the main part of the foot. I wove in the last end just before bedtime on Friday night. Whew!

At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, I consulted a few sock books and the tables with shoe sizes and foot lengths. I found the right length and got to felting. These felted up so nicely and got to the right size at the same time. I put them on the dryer rack and set it to medium heat. Got it all done in time to go watch my daughter's basketball games.

I kept the clogs in the dryer all afternoon. It was still running when my mom and brother arrived around 4:45 p.m. After saying hello and all that, the first thing he said was "so where are my MN Wild slippers? Huh? are they done?"

I walked silently into the laundry room, emerging with the perfectly dry and wonderful MN Wild Felted Clogs. They fit perfectly and he loved them. It also felt good that I didn't give him any ammunition to pick on me because I didn't finish something.

Not that it's ever happened before...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Hourglass turned Equinox

Yay for me! Rah rah rah rah! Wheee!

Finally something I can wear and be happy with!

As you may remember, I knit the Hourglass Sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts last November-December. It went smooth as silk, looked fantastic, fit perfectly - except for one problem. The hemmed neckline was touching my neck and I hate that. HATE.

I have not worn it and did not want to wear it so I set out to figure out how to make it into something I could love again. My yearning to do fair isle led me to the decision to rip out the yoke and do some kind of circular pattern using the EPS.

I was nervous about ripping the neck hem but last Wednesday I needed something to do while on a conference call for work (shhh, don't tell) so I grabbed the sweater and a scissors and started to rip. I took out the entire raglan yoke back to a round above the sleeve join.

After an exhaustive search through my patterns, I decided that the Equinox Yoke Pullover by Michele Rose Orne from the Fall '06 Interweave Knits was the best fit, needing a decrease of only 2 stitches to make it work.

Recently I discovered where Walmart hid the Lion Wool - in the clearance aisle for $2.50 a ball! I bought the remaining 8 skeins of Winter White and went to town with the Kool-Aid and Wilton Icing Dyes. That little dyeing spree, plus another a couple months prior gave me plenty of colors to choose from. I grabbed a few that I knew would look nice with the Sapphire Heather main color and dove in.

The colorwork went surprisingly smoothly. This was my first attempt at fair isle in a garment and only the second time ever. I find it funny that I can't knit Continental, yet I can do fair isle with two hands no problem.

Another thing I liked about this yoke pattern was that it incorporated the main color and had perfectly spaced areas of straight knitting with the main color. The EPS worked supremely well with this design. I did a 25% decrease for the 1st decrease round, 33% for the second, then instead of another 33% for the 3rd decrease, I did 25% to leave a slightly wider neckline. After the last decrease, I did 2 rounds of 2x2 rib, then bound off in rib.

I love the result! I have the great fitting sweater body from the Hourglass Sweater, and the great fitting yoke using the EPS - and it looks gorgeous because of the lovely Equinox pattern.

The one thing that I'm not sure about is the neckline and the only thing there is that it's the same on the front and back. I would rather prefer it to be higher in the back. Wish I'd thought of that before doing the yoke, but live and learn. I may take out the bind off and try to add some short rows, but we'll see.

In the meantime, I'm quite proud of how my first fair isle project turned out!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yay for me!

Jenny's Clogs (2)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Yay for my feet, really. My 4th pair of Fiber Trends felted clogs are finally for me and me alone!

I love them. LOVE them. They are like a hug for my feet.

As far as the knitting goes, these things are about as close to instant gratification as you can get. Sure you have to keep an eye on the pattern and can't knitting willy nilly off into the sunset, but they move along really fast. Plus, what is more cool than a gigantic slipper the size of your arm becoming something form fitted to your foot?

It's awesome! I nearly forgot about them in the washer but made it just in time. When I made the first two pair for my boys, I didn't put anything else in the washer with them - no towels, old jeans, nothing. Just the clogs.

Hmmm, why did it take so much longer to felt them than it should have???

Then, when I knit my first She-knits bag, her instructions said she likes to add rubber flip flops to the mix to help everything felt better. DUH!!!! What a difference a little bit of additional friction makes. Highly recommend the flip flops with the felting.

I knit these on US size 13 circular needles. When time came to pick up stitches and knit them together with the main needle, I just grabbed a smaller dpn (once it was an 8, another time it was a 10) and did about 10 stitches at a time. MUCH more manageable that way, especially in the larger sizes when you're trying to fit more around that 16" circ.

I also knit the bumper. I thought it was cute and another way to tie in the cuff colors. And since I already made this from the stash with zero new yarn aquisition, I knew I wasn't going to spend $15 on soles. The bumper is cute!

Ok the yarn. It was all from the stash. A lot of it was used in the Marly Bag and I liked those combos so much, I did it here. I used Patons Royal Purple and Lion Brand Cadet Blue together for the main part of the clog. The sole was Patons Dark Gray Mix and New Denim leftover from Luke's Very Warm Hat. Cuff and bumper were Leaf Green and Gray Mix held together. The colors all felted nicely together.

Even though this was the 4th time I've knit the Fiber Trends Felted Clogs, it was the first time I've made them for myself and had a chance to feel how they fit through regular wearing. I've hardly been able to take them off since they finished drying. They are like a hug for my feet and I'm so happy to have them.


Now I think I know why there were additional instructions for a woman's wide foot. Now, I don't consider my foot to be wide. It's your basic 8 1/2, perhaps slightly wider since I had kids, but I don't buy wide width shoes so I didn't feel a need to make those modifications.

After wearing them a few days though, I do notice that the sole does not seem wide enough. My feet seem like they are rolling to the outside and I often adjust them so that the sole feels more centered under my feet. Perhaps this is why that modification was introduced.

I'll have to try these again and see if that helps. Goodness knows I have plenty of stash yarn!

My youngest can't find one of his and has asked for another pair. This time he wants "lots and lots of colors". This should be good!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mom's Ruffled Scarf

Mom's Ruffled Scarf
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Two posts in one day! Wow! It's either the impending apocalypse or I have loads of work and in desperate need of a reason to procrastinate.

Come on, we all do it sometime.

I just couldn't believe I hadn't shared this one yet. Maybe I did and don't remember it, but oh well. It's my blog and I can do what I want!

This is the Ruffled Cashmere Scarf from Closely Knit, by Hannah Fettig. I like this book a lot. The projects are sorted into chapters based on the intended recipient. This scarf was in the "Mothers" chapter and I knew I had to make it for my mom.

When I asked her what color she wanted for a scarf, she said "sage green". Easy enough, right? I was not prepared for how blasted hard it was to find sage green yarn suitable for this project!

I first bought Dream in Color Classy in Good Luck Jade. That was the best I could do at my LYS. It's a great color and a great yarn, but too heavy for this pattern and really not even close to sage green. My mom's reaction when I showed it too her was not very enthusiastic either.

So I continued to search. I investigated several yarns and finally settled on Malabrigo Silky Merino. It's DK weight - exactly what I need for this pattern - and the Green/Gray colorway was as close to sage as anything else I was seeing. I ordered it, started it, and loved it.

And it matches Mom's eyes. I think it will look great on her.

The yarn is gorgeous. Single ply 50/50 merino silk blend. Absolutely beautiful! It looks great in this pattern too. There is enough stockinette to let the slight variations in color intensity shine through. The pattern itself is great also. I hate scarves that are the same thing over and over for a gagillion inches. I like that this pattern is broken down into a repeat that actually has something going on to keep my interest. I love how the short rows create the ruffled effect. In my opinion, it worked up quickly. For a scarf.

The fabric lost a little body during blocking, but it still has the same flow and movement to it (the photo is post blocking). I folded it, wrapped it in tissue, and included 3 packets of Soak in the bag. Now if only the stars would align and I could actually give it to her.

Maybe this weekend. Cross your fingers that she loves it! Cross your toes that she actually wears it!

A word about socks...

Jenny's Upstream
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Yes, I finally got bit by the sock bug. It took Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters, Book One, but it did take.

This is my favorite master pattern from the book: Upstream. I love the way the arch increases surround the instep. I'd like to try to incorporate a pattern.

If only I could get the sizing right.

I measure my own foot and I get one set of numbers. I compare my shoe size to the chart in the book and I get another set of numbers. Ever still different numbers if I look at other charts in other books. All of the charts give numbers larger than what I got on my own. I remember Ann Budd saying that she knits her socks a little smaller than her actual measurements because she likes them snug.

So I thought I was doing exactly this when I decided to knit my socks for an 8.5" foot circumference and 9.75" foot length.

Apparently, I was wrong.

Though all the socks from my recent sock explosion are great and don't fall down or bunch up around my instep like all my storebought socks, they stil are too big. Too big around the foot and too long.

What gives?

I convinced my daughter to try on a pair of my handknit socks. When she actually said "these aren't that bad", I took that as license to knit her a pair. Since our feet are the same size, I decided to get crazy and knit the socks for an 8" foot circumference and 9.5" foot length.

Hold me down, people!

'Lo and behold, they are perfect. They fit like a hug. I'm kicking myself that I made them for her, but happy that I now know what works and can make them for myself.

It's a beautiful thing once you figure out exactly how you like something, whether it be the fit of a sock or a method of cooking pork chops to perfection.

I feel empowered. And ready to make more socks.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pink is my new favorite color!!!

Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
No, I'm not blind.

Yes, I know there is no pink in this sweater. And I didn't do the same stripes as shown in the book.

What book?

Why, Wendy Bernard's new book, Custom Knits!

Before I go into that, let's talk about the sweater. I bought 5 skeins of Patons Classic in Natural Marl sometime last year. I don't even remember what I bought them for. A few weeks ago, I got the urge to dye some yarn NOW. I liked what I got out of that, but didn't know what to do with it. Then I realized that this little sweater would be perfect. I had enough yarn as long as I got creative with how I used the hand dye.

So I cast on the day my daughter and husband left for deer hunting. My gauge was tighter so I knit the 42.5" numbers hoping to end up with a 39" sweater. After joining the front and removing the sleeves, I started a random stripe pattern. All I did consistently was keep the rows of colored stripes an odd number. I followed the pattern in the book to the letter. Everything went perfectly and I got a great everyday sweater out of the deal.

If I ever make this same size again, I'll reduce the number of increases after the waist shaping. I think I'll try one size down next time. I gotta tell you, though, I love how this feels. I'm wearing it right now. Everything is perfect. Lengths, proportions, everything. It's a great sweater!

Ok, back to the book. It's called Custom Knits. Have you seen it yet? If not, go to Knit Picks (because they show pictures of the inside) and check it out. Then order it. Really, you have to.

I ordered the book without seeing any inside pictures first. I love Wendy Bernard's style so much, I just knew I would love this book, and who wouldn't love the concept of being able to tailor your garments just for you?

Stefanie Japel's book Fitted Knits tried to do this, but in my opinion, missed the mark. Wendy's book offers much clearer instruction and better yet, within each pattern is a "make it your own" box with tips on how to customize that pattern. It's brilliant!

I loved Pink from the moment I first opened the book, but I was a bit intimidated. Not because of the design - heck it looked like I could have knit it in my sleep - but because of the photo. A cute skinny brunette wearing the sweater and panties, taking photos of herself. I used to be a cute skinner brunette. Not so much on the skinny anymore, so I was a little leary of how this sweater would look on me.

A week or so earlier, I started Wendy's Opulent Raglan from KnitScene Fall/Winter 2008. After seeing so many nice FO's on Ravelry, and seeing how it looked great on everyone, I decided to give it a go. That is like a magic sweater. I loved how it was turning out. So I decided that Wendy knew what she was doing with this sweater design thing and began Pink.

Seriously fast to knit and seriously cute. Two things I can't resist.

I gotta knit me some more of this!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Boy has a New Hat!

Happy Boy
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
My son needed a good wool winter hat. The only hand knit hat he had was acrylic. That just ain't gonna cut it around here.

I knew it had to be wool and it had to be warm. As luck would have it, I had just bought Knitting Around (quite possibly THE best book for basic patterns in the whole world) and fell in love with the Very Warm Hat. My typical fear of the unknown - in this case, fair isle - has been less than usual lately. It's amazing, but I have actually wanted to try it.

This seemed like the perfect opportunity to try it. I started it in the car no less, on the way to Pierz to pick up our venison from Thielen's. If you're ever in central MN, look them up and buy some bacon. You won't be sorry!

I digress.

The color work went amazingly well. Here's the weird thing. I've crocheted longer than I've knit. I hold the yarn to crochet exactly how you hold it when knitting continental, yet I can't knit continental to save my life. However when I knit the colorwork in this hat, I held the yarn one in each hand and it worked out beautifully. No tangling, no twisting, tension remained constant. The tension was what had me the most worried, but it all seemed to even out magically.

So now I'm getting ready to start my first colorwork yoke sweater. I'm going to do the patterns from the Lite Lopi Pullover in The Best of Interweave Knits (because I love that Bohus look), yet follow EZ's EPS. That seems to be how many have found success with that sweater.

I also want to revamp the Hourglass Sweater. It's lovely, it really is, but I just can't wear it. The neckline touches my neck and I can't stand it. I'm going to rip out the neck for sure and I'll either redo it as is (only earlier) or I'll rip the yoke out completely and do a wide neck, u-neck, or colorwork. Not sure yet, but I have to do something to make it wearable again. It's too pretty and fits too well to sit in my closet.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Canopy Cardigan - New and Improved Photos

I was less than pleased with the initial photos I took of this garment. I was wearing what can only be qualified as jammies. They were photos for photos' sake and frankly I'm embarrassed.

These are much better.

This is how I wear this sweater from day to day. Jeans and my favorite style top in the world, the long sleeve knit crewneck T-shirt. A little close-fitting, but not tight. That's my style and this cardigan fits in perfectly.

I freely admit I could have knitted a size smaller. The sleeves and length are perfection, but the body is loose and a little wide. There is no way I can wear this cardigan without a fastener. It flops off my shoulders and I fear I could fly away like a kite.

I'd been using a kilt pin to fasten the ribbing together at the neck - which did work, but it was bulky. Plus the pin is so sharp that I worried about snagging the yarn.

Then I remembered the fasteners in Doris Chan's Everyday Crochet. These are genius. Grab a couple shank buttons, some beads and elastic beading cord and in mere minutes you have a wonderful non-permanent fastener for your favorite garment. It works kind of like a cuff link. Amazingly, I found the perfect buttons at Walmart.

The Fastener for Canopy

It works like a charm. I put each button through the lacy holes at the base of the leaves. I'm thinking a couple more might be nice to close it up a little more. I love the flyaway look of cardigans fastened only at the top or with just a few buttons done up.

The great thing about this type of fastener...wait, there's a few great things. You can make multiple fasteners for the same garment and vary your look as often as your mood. AND you don't have to sew anything. ANYTHING!! That rocks. Not that sewing buttons is hard, but it can be irritating. This fastener won't mess with the way your fabric looks either, no puckering or anything. Plus, playing with beads is fun!

Pretty cool, huh?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Yes...I made another cardigan...

Drops 107-9 Cardigan
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Ok, I know I've made a lot of cardigans lately. Yes, I do still have BOTH my mom's scarves on the needles. Yes, I said I'd make socks for my daughter before she goes hunting in 2 1/2 weeks.

What exactly is your point?

It's that same thing that happens when you have to study for a really big test and suddenly you feel the urge to scrub your bathroom with a toothbrush. Anything to prolong the inevitable.

It was just too cute to pass up. I even had a suitable yarn in my stash. Ok, acrylic may not be all that suitable to anything other than afghans, but I felt confident it would work in this pattern (Drops 107-9). The gauge is a little looser and the lace would give it more drape as well. I gave it a soak and laid it out on the guest bed. I'll blast it with some steam in a little bit. Steam certainly can't hurt.

I think it worked out well! It's a very pretty design, very feminine. Alas, I think I made it a little small for my taste (either that or I have the tricky gauge again). The Lupus Foundation is stopping by Friday for donations so I may leave it out for them.

Although now that I think about it, I'd kind of like to keep this stuff in town. I know there are people who need clothing right here. I'll have to check into where I could take my stuff.

I'm going to donate a few other sweaters as well. 28thirty, Leaf Yoke Cardigan, and Drops 79-24. They all turned out well, they're just not doing it for me either in size or style. A couple of them hit too high on the neck and I have a thing about stuff touching my neck. I've been saying I'm going to lose weight for a while, but since that isn't budging more than about 5 lbs., I'd better just get rid of the stuff rather than have it taunt me.

Plus, if you were someone in need, wouldn't it make you feel good to have a cozy handknitted item? I think it would feel pretty special to see something like that among your choices. I'll tag 'em and bag 'em and say a little prayer that they find good homes.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dulcie and the Bad, Bad Yarn

Dulcie Hat (6)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Remember the bad yarn? I shouldn't blame the yarn. It was all me. I had a bad morning at work and felt the need to throw Wiltons icing dyes at some yarn. I soaked it for too little time, tried to speed the process along, and ended up with something not remotely like what I'd envisioned.

But it all worked out in the end.

Somehow I'd forgotten that a very kind woman had swapped patterns with me. I gave her a scanned copy of a hat pattern and she gave me a copy of Going Straight by Woolly Wormhead. I know. A fair trade, it was not, but she was willing and I was happy to receive.

So I'd forgotten about it. Until the other day. Lo and behold, there lay the most perfect-est patterns for hand painted or subtely variegated yarns.

I chose Dulcie.

Now let me first say, these patterns are not difficult. The knitting is easy. However, one must familiarize themselves with short rows, hiding the wraps of said short rows, and kitchener-ing just about anything to anything else. I was 4 sections into my first go at this hat when I realized that I'd been hiding wraps as though the stockinette side was the right side. Wrong! They looked like crap, so I ripped it out and started again, this time doing it the right way. I also sized up to the large.

It's cute, huh? This is immediately after weaving in the two teensy ends. The colors aren't quite this bright (that's the flash) - they remind me of sumac in September, just before it's completely red. Or the Minnesota Wild hockey team. I will call it what I will as the mood strikes me.

The Going Straight e-book has THE best instructions for short rows, hiding wraps, and Kitchener stitch on the entire planet. No lie. I've never been able to Kitchener to save my life. Everything I've tried it on looks horrible. I learned to do it on the needles and that works fine, but I really wanted to do it the right way. The instructions in Going Straight are no fail. Perfect photos, perfect text, everything worked like a charm. I can't even find my seam now. How 'bout that?

Just remembered I have to get some dog food.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A better shot...

See? It's a little better. First one is with the flash - a little flashed out, but it shows the color variation.

Not as bad (1)

This one is without the flash and a more accurate representation of what it looks like to me.

Not as bad

As I went through the 3rd iteration of this yarn dyeing adventure, I decided to check out Knitty's tutorial on hand dyeing yarn...again. She let her yarn soak in the vinegar/water all night long. Hear that, Jen??? All night! Not 15 minutes until you've decided you can't wait any longer. ALL NIGHT!

Next time I'll soak it all night first. Think first, then act. I might just end up with something I love.

In the meantime, I'm going on a hunt this evening for Malabrigo Chunky in Stonechat. Must make a hat.

The Bad Batch (1)

The Bad Batch (1)
Originally uploaded by JRoKnits
Ugh. It's better than it was. When it came out of the pot initially, it was mostly green. Rats!

I really didn't want another skein of green yarn.

So I popped it back in and tried to add more blue. Got more mud.

So I let it dry. Then I laid it flat in a 13x9 glass dish and tried adding a little more dye in what I thought was a responsible manner. I do think the final product bears some more depth and is better, but it is so far from what I originally wanted.

There is far more reddish/purpleish/burgandy-ish and that's good. There is less green and that's better. There are hints of midnight-y blue, gold, and brown here and there. That is good too. Not sure what I'll make with it. Possibly the cabled footies from One Skein. Possibly a scarf or a hat.

Although if I had to wear this yarn on my head I might never leave the house.

Then again, I could make something really embarrassing and wear it on the 6th grade field trip next week.

Would that be too cruel?

Friday, September 26, 2008

I just can't give it up!

The blog, that is! It's just plain ol' good clean fun to have a place that's all mine to talk about my stuff. And, I got a very nice comment asking me to please not stop. Even if you're the only one reading this, that's enough for me. Thank you so very very much!

Plus, I can't talk about dyeing yarn on Ravelry. At least not how I'd like to.

Today was busy. Heck, I've been busy for about 3 weeks. All 3 kids are in school now, 2 in soccer, and other little odd things too numerous to count. Work has been coming at me full speed too. Instead of my regular morning hours, I was spending most of every day at the computer working. I think every sock we own collectively as a family of 5 was in my room unfolded. Half the room was covered in clean laundry. I finally bit the bullet a couple days ago and COMPLETELY CAUGHT UP. Yes, you heard right. Go ahead and hate me. I'm caught up on laundry.

If it makes you feel any better, I'll have 5 loads to do by tomorrow evening. That's usually how it goes around here.

Work today got so irritating that I decided to dump out all my Wiltons Icing Dyes and throw some yarn in a pot. I crashed the stash and came up with one of the 6 skeins of Patons Classic Wool in Natural Marl that I've have for nearly a year and one lone skein of Winter White. So I went for it.

Dyeing on the stove

There wasn't much science involved here. I was hoping for brown with bits of burgundy. I ended up with something very similar to a result I've acheived before.

Natural Marl Kettle Dye

But I like it. The marl gives it an effect that I really like and the fact that I did not stir the yarn left areas with less dye. I like that too. Plus, one can never miss an opportunity to embarrass the middle school daughter when she comes home from school!

Natural Marl Kettle Dye

My second attempt with the Winter White is not achieving anything near the results I was hoping for. I wanted to make a medium-ish brown with bits of purple and teal. The brown diluted and the purple and teal both spread and diluted. I added more brown, then added more purple and teal. Then I gave up and started randomly dotting the surface with regular dropper style food coloring. Who knows what this one will look like, but I still have fun with the process. This is pretty accurate to what I'm seeing in the pot right now.

Big pot of Blah

This is with the flash. Oh boy.

Big pot of Blah

I think I've added so much dye that it isn't really going to exhaust anymore. I turned it off. I might turn it back on for a little bit more. Whatev'

I find the process of dyeing my own yarn mind-clearing and creative-juice-flow inducing. I like it. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I lost my ground beef!

I'm convinced I'm losing my mind. Perhaps it's just a delayed Monday reaction.

I started out by getting my last Amy's Tofu Scrambles Pocket Sandwich out of the big freezer. Love those! Got the toaster oven ready and thought I might as well give it 5 minutes to preheat. Left the frozen pocket on the counter and sat back down at my desk.

I'm working away like a busy little bee and reading a couple Ravelry posts to kill some dead network time. One gal mentioned that she'd been waiting a half hour for her coffee to brew and realized she'd never hit the button. OH MY GOSH!!!

My pocket sandwich was glistening and I was sheepish. I stuck it in the oven and set the timer lest I forget again. At the end, I gave it "5 more minutes" at a higher temp to get the crust really crispy. Who needs a timer for 5 minutes? Me. I got my brown and extremely crispy pocket out about 15 minutes later. After burning my tongue once, I had a completely delicious breakfast.

Then I lost my ground beef. No wait, first I found Stephanie O'Dea's fantastic blog: A Year of Crockpotting. This thing is a gold mine! Before I knew it, I'd exhausted a complete hour and the rest of my printer ink. I am inspired and excited.

THEN, I lost my ground beef. I was so excited about the recipes that I went searching for a pound to thaw. I looked everywhere. How many places could 10 pounds of hamburger from the giant Sam's Club sausage-roll of 90% lean really hide? Apparently the ice cream bucket hides many a forgotten frozen item. I also found a few cartons of some 10 month old Rich Whip. I hope it's still good. That's one of those things that I hadn't seen before in real life and when I did, I grabbed about a dozen cartons.

Another thing I can't find in real life anymore? Sorghum flour. At least not within 30 miles of my house and with gas prices this high, I'll pay the shipping to order it online. That's been my most heavily used flour since starting to use all of Carol Fenster's mixes and wouldn't you know it, when I start using it more, all the stores around me stop carrying it. Crud.

I'm thinking of - take that back, I'm going to take a new direction with my blog. For one thing, I don't think there were many people reading it anyway and for another, Ravelry completely satisfies my need to talk about and share pictures of my knitting and crocheting. I believe I'd like to turn my blog into more of a GFCF in Real Life kind of place where I can discuss my sucesses and failures with being a GFCF family and hopefully help others who might be just starting out. I may change this one, or I may abandon this one entirely and create a new one. That's probably what I'll do, but stay tuned.

That said, I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Where has the time gone?

Again, yet another month+ since my last post. It's funny. I know there aren't many people who look my way on the 'net, yet I really enjoy getting on here and sharing my stuff. Just need to try to do it a little more often.

So, what has the summer held for me and my family? Let's see...


Well, I'd hoped to share a couple photos of our summer fun, yet Flickr hasn't been able to pull my assorted funny family fun photos off my camera. Fancy that. Guess I'll have to stick with the knitting. I finished 3 bags:


Rutabaga Complete (1)-JRoKnits #2

and 2 Malika's. (this one is a tribute to McDonald's)

JRoKnits #4 - Malika #2

and this was the first one. I made it longer than the pattern suggested because I didn't trust that it would be big enough as is. I could carry my kindergartner around in this bag if I wanted to.

Malika in Action

I'm making June is for Jag for my mom's birthday out of Dream in Color Classy in Good Luck Jade. The pattern is a perfect fit for the perfect yarn. Pretty, huh?

Mom's June

Because I'm not positive this is the exact color Mom is looking for, I'm also making the Cashmere Ruffles Scarf from Closely Knit using Malabrigo Silky Merino DK in green/gray. No photo yet, but it's oh so yummy.

I sewed buttons on 28thirty,

blasted through the Canopy Cardigan from Knitscene,

a pair of mitts (Laura's Ribbed Mitts by Carrie Barraco, free Ravelry pattern),
Laura's Ribbed Mitts (2)

and several hats (Santa Cruz, Foliage, Nezumi, Maple Seed).
Santa Cruz Hat (2)
Foliage #1 (1)
Foliage #2 (2)
Nezumi Hat
Maple Seed Hat

I had an itch to do some stash busting. Can you tell? I'd hit you with more FO's but they aren't as recently done so I'll leave those for another day. Have a good one!

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'mmmmmmmmmm Readyyyyyyy!

(said like SpongeBob Squarepants)

For what am I ready? The Summer KAL/CAL, of course! I first heard about the KAL/CAL earlier this year when I was listening to back-podcasts by Sharon and Marly. It sounded like so much fun I just had to get in on it this year.

I'm making Rutabaga from the Spring 2007 Knitscene. I already explained why I was afraid of this pattern initially, so I won't go into that again, but I will say that I loooove it!

Midway through Rutabaga

I adore this stitch and can't believe it took me a year to even read the pattern and figure out it was nothing to be afraid of. It moves along quite nicely and my favorite thing about it is that it is stretch, but it has limits to its stretch. I like a stretchy bag, but I don't want it to stretch with wreckless abandon.

My sweaters are rather languishing right now. The Incan Pullover is sitting in my way at the end of my chaise end of the sofa, but I haven't worked on it for several days. 28thirty only needs one sleeve, but I haven't picked that up either. The Sera Lace Top has also lost its luster. The problem with that is I need more yarn. I don't want to buy more yarn. So I'll probably frog. What to do, what to do.

I ordered Norah Gaughan Vol.3 and Berroco 281 - Cuzco and Peruvia Quick from Jimmy Beans Wool. I sat here waiting and waiting, then realized I hadn't checked my home email for several days. Turns out #281 is backordered for a few more days and they had asked if I wanted them to send one without the other. By the time I saw the email, it had been nearly the amount of time of the backorder. So I told them I could wait for all of it to come at once. Trying so hard to be patient...and to finish other things first so I can fantasize guilt-free.

The usual kind of Monday stuff is happening here, though I can't believe it's already noon! My son has already been too and from preschool and now I have to run off to the bank and the post office. Big insurance docs to finally get off to our mortgage company so that repairs can finally take place. The dog reeks to high heaven so my daughter is bathing him - cross your fingers she keeps the water out of his highly susceptible to infection Golden Retriever ears!!

Happy Monday everyone and I hope to see you, too, at the Summer KAL/CAL!

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Not such a bad thing! I go in spurts of startitis and finishitis. I love to start start start, but then there's nothing quite as satisfying as finishing a bunch of projects one after the other. Okay, I find throwing out ball bands and a pile of snipped ends to be equally satisfying but that's beside the point.

I really wanted to bust the cotton stash in June. I tried, really I did...

Washcloths (1)

This was less then half my washcloth production. When all was said and done, I'd made 14 washcloths for personal use and 4 more intended as a baby gift. Oh wait, I'm forgetting a couple - make that 6 more for gifts. All that knitting, and the cotton stash remains. It is smaller, but it's still there.

Doesn't help that I bought a cone of Peaches n' Cream and started this:

Rutabaga (1)

It's Rutabaga from Knitscene Spring 2007! I loved this immediately, but the word "cluster" scared me away from even reading the instructions. I envisioned having to knit a popcorn or bobble every few stitches (nevermind that I couldn't actually see anything like that in the photos) and couldn't bear the thought. Upon closer inspection, however, the cluster was nothing more than a couple wraps of a couple stitches. Big deal! I'm halfway through and it's really fun...though I can't work on it too much at one time since my hands are still recovering from the June Washcloth Mania (aka cotton hell).

I'm working my way through a couple sweaters. The Incan Pullover on the cover of the Summer '08 KnitSimple really is what this yarn wants to be, it's just taking a long time to become it.


Incan (1)

I like top-down construction, but the yoke takes so dang long! I'm knitting this on size 6 needles which is the smallest size I've ever used for a garment. I finally made it to the back and my goal is just to have it done by fall - but I better hurry because that could come any day now!

The other sweater is crochet: The Sera Lace Top by Doris Chan from the Fall 2007 Interweave Crochet.

Sera Lace Top (1)

So far so good, but I'm going to definitely need more yarn. I'm using 7 balls of Knit Picks Shine Sport in Violet that I bought from someone on Ravelry. I knew I was rolling the dice by starting this with a finite quantity of yarn, but it was a chance I was willing to take. It's cute, but I'm concerned about the length. I know Doris is great about taking stretch into account so you don't end up with a dress, but it still is a little worrisome. I think I'll end the body with 2 more balls of yarn - one for each sleeve - then I'll order more yarn and leave my fate to the dye lot gods.

I'm very blase about work right now and thinking I'll bug off and crochet some more this afternoon. My daughter is at a basketball day camp in St. Cloud today and won't get home until 4-ish, but then right away at 5:00 we're off to Minneapolis for her last regular season soccer game. Eek. I won't be driving though so you can bet my lace scarf will be coming along. That thing is moving like lightning. Have I shown that yet?

Easy Lace Scarf

The perfect use for the leftovers from my Knit it Down sweater and it satisfies my love of lace in worsted weight yarn.

On that note, have a wonderful day!

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Good, the Bad, and the Looney!

I had a that kind of weekend. Mr. T was given Friday off to make up for having to work so much over Father's Day weekend. After I finished my work for the day, we went to the nursery and picked some perennials for my new flower bed. That was about all we had the energy for that day, but it was nice to all be home and have nothing going on.

Saturday rocked! It was a lovely 85 degrees here with a breeze - not too warm, not cold, and not a hint of humidity. We went fishing.

The good (a nice bass),

Fishing 6/21

The "bad" (the world's smallest sunnie!),

Fishing 6/21

And the Looney!

Fishing 6/21

This beauty was only about 25 feet from the boat. The kids love them and Ben can do a mean loon impression. Frankly, it's not that hard for him.

I wore my newest yarny creation - another Fun in the Sun Hat!

Fishing 6/21

I made this one from Peaches n' Creme from the stash and an H hook. Super easy, super fast, and super functional. Cute too! I love it and it was perfect for a warm day on the lake.

We fried the sunnies, beer-batter fried the bass, and ate them with fresh corn on the cob. We finished the day with a fire and s'mores out back. It would have been totally perfect if the neighbors hadn't ruined it. The guys behind us whooped it up until 1:30 a.m. with huge (and illegal) fireworks, girly screaming, and manly belching. Yeah baby. We were exhausted. We turned on all the lights and ate toast in the kitchen at 1 a.m. hoping they'd take the hint. Who knows if they noticed us, but they did stop at 1:30. Or maybe we just passed out. One or the other.

I'd hoped to sleep in on Sunday, but my lovely son who never sleeps past 6:30 decided to open the garage door before we got up. The alarms went off and I flew downstairs to disarm before I'd even opened my eyes. Spent 5 hours cleaning and the rest of the day moaning my aching back. Oh well.

I was looking forward to my endodontist appointment today - not because of the excitement of dental work - but because I'm in PAIN! However, that plan was foiled when the roofers showed up at 8 a.m. Would it have killed them to give me a heads up? My daughter didn't feel like staying home alone with the boys while a roofing crew was here so I rescheduled my appointment for next week (the earliest I could get in after today). Crapper! Must ration the pain meds!

As for knitting/crocheting, I'm still doing washcloths and I'm crocheting another Fun in the Sun Hat. That pattern is addictive! This one is taupe/ecru striped - a little more neutral this time and slightly darker. Next time I'm at Michaels/JoAnn, I'll pick up a color or something for another one. The stash does not have quite the color selection I'm looking for. Love it and must have more!

I suppose that's enough for now...back to work, back to work, work work work work!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall...

...and the dentist couldn't put her tooth back together again! The title is a tribute to today being Hump Day and to my feelings regarding my tooth and its failure to behave.

Another visit to Dr. John, another x-ray, and a referral to an endodontist. I don't know how they'll handle this, but I hope it's handled soon. I go in on Monday. In the meantime, I think it's a perfect excuse to pay a visit to my LYS this afternoon: Silver Creek Cabin. I'm dying to see the new Berroco Fall/Winter patterns in person. They're gorgeous!

Here's my own little bit of gorgeous-ness. Well maybe not actually gorgeous, but this will be my go to sweater for a long time.

Knit it Down FO (4)

I love love love and ADORE it! It's so comfy and the yarn is ridiculously soft. It cost me all of about $8 to knit because sadly, I think the yarn is discontinued, but that just means that I should try to snag some more before it's all gone. Yes, Bernat Denimstyle is an acrylic/cotton blend, but that cotton makes such an enormous difference. It's one of those sweaters that you don't even want to take the time to wash because you want to wear it any chance you get. I could have knit the small size just fine and it would have fit me more like the model, but it's great the way it is. The collar sits just fine and I love the deeper V. AND, no seams whatsoever. Even the crossing of the V-neck was achieved through switching and passing stitches. I could make this again in a heartbeat.

Look what I started with the leftovers:

Easy Lace Scarf

It's the Easy Lace Scarf from Knitter's Review. I just realized that mine kind of looks like the one in the article. It's really turning out well and moves along so fast. What more could you ask for in a scarf?

I finished the first sleeve of 28thirty yesterday and instead of immediately blasting through the 2nd sleeve, I decided to go on a washcloth kick. I found a few great free patterns for diagonally knit washcloths, grabbed some leftover bits of 100% cotton and cast on. I made a reverse mitered washcloth last night and got halfway through Bernat's Eyelet and Ridge Washcloth this morning while I watched Angel. Fun fun fun! I love diagonal patterns because there's always something to look forward to. Plain straight up washcloths feel like they take longer. Maybe not, but they feel that way. Here they are so far:

Mitered Washcloth

EyeletRidgeWashcloth (1)

I'd better call it quits today and get back to work. I have a few things to do before I take L. to therapy this afternoon. Amazingly, it's 74 degrees here and it actually feels warm to boot! All the windows are open but I may even have to turn on the AC today. Could it be true? Summer? Really?

Have a great day!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Another Monday....seriously??

I can't believe how fast this year is going!?!?! More depressing - that it's nearly halfway over and we haven't had any real summer-like weather yet. No, seriously, I can do without scorching heat and choking humidity. The weather dudes don't think we're going to get much of that at all. It would be nice to save a little on the AC this summer, but hopefully there will be enough heat to coax the kids into playing with water outside.

We had a pretty darn fantastic weekend here. Mr. T's job makes things a little unpredictable so luckily we got in some fun prior to the actual Father's Day. On Friday we went out to eat at a local restaurant/bar called Chatter's. It was a perfect evening. The kids had a blast, we ate prime rib, and it's the kind of place where the kids can be themselves and nobody blinks. Then we drove out to a few lakes to check the status of their access ramps. Our favorite lake's access ramp was newly reopened so we all anxiously awaited Saturday and our first fishing trip of the year.

Fishing Fun

Fishing Fun

I was able to make a decent amount of progress on 28thirty. Here she is as of about 7:00 a.m. this morning:

28thirty - making progress

I will probably shorten the sleeves because 19" sleeves sound just too darn long for me. Or perhaps 3/4? Or I'll make another with 3/4 sleeves? I know I'll make one, if not two, more of these. Cropped, for sure, and I think I'll do one with the full-length sleeves and one with 3/4 sleeves. I'm excited to make the cropped (original) version because what I noticed when making this one is that the yoke feels like it takes FOREVER, yet once you separate the sleeves, it's done practically before you know it. The shaping helped the full version move along, but I kept having to stop and try it on to make sure I got the length and shape I wanted.

I had a fit of scarf frenzy last night as well. I swatched for a lace pattern (oops, can't remember off-hand the name but it was in Knitter's Review) with some extra Denimstyle and Moda Dea Silk n' Wool. Not sure if either is really right for that pattern, but I'll figure it out and get something made out of those.

I'm in a major-league mood to liberate some crap yarns from my stash. This morning I thought I'd try to be creative and see if there was anything I could do with a less than desirable shade of Lion Brand Homespun. All it took was a few stitches on plastic needles for me to throw my hands up and the yarn out. There's more upstairs - make no mistake, it will soon join it's friend in the trash. I wouldn't even give that stuff away. I, by no means, consider myself a yarn snob, but I honestly can't believe I ever considered that Homespun as one of my favorite yarns. I'm over it and I won't go back.

Anyway, I guess that's all for today. I'll work some here the rest of the afternoon, knit some on 28thirty, and then it's off to Eden Prairie for a soccer game. I'm cautiously optimistic about this one and the girls have chosen once again to wear their confidence-building mojo-cookin' black jerseys. They're awesome!