Saturday, December 31, 2005

"What's the situation on the mittens?" "I'm on it!!!"

Okay. Maybe my plan of trying to watch ALL of season 3 of "24" this week is producing some strange urgency and the desire to constantly provide updates and maybe also the urge to ask people who they work for and to have a cliffhanger every hour on the hour....

I thought I'd show you something funny. Not really "Funny Haha" more "Funny want to curl up in the corner rocking and humming tunelessly".

Yes, that is mitten number 2. Yes, that is the thumb 4 rounds from completion. Yes, that is the end of the yarn.

Some frantic searching turned up a 1 meter (approximately) scrap of this yarn. I knit on. I finished the thumb. I had this much yarn left:

5 inches. Just enough to close the thumb and weave in the end. 5 (FIVE!!!!) inches!!!!


So, here they are.

I can't believe how closely they match. They are almost identical. I made NO effort to get the yarn to start in the same place in the colors b/c I didn't think that it would work since I was using 2 strands. Magic!

This is the last Christmas present so:
"NOW can I knit on the Clapotis??? (imagine whiny child's voice). What's that? I should knit the birthday present that is to be given this week? What? Okay, Fine. I'll knit the birthday present. But THEN can I knit on the Clapotis??? "

what? i knit the mitten. honest.

Yesterday I showed you my haul minor stash enhancement that I picked up at the LYS. I also mentioned the minor fact that I had one mitten left to knit for my last Christmas knitting. I cast on for the mitten, because I am NOTHING if not responsible

Feeling proud of myself, my eye wandered to the hanks of Nature Wool for the Clapotis. "Maybe I should wind one of those. Just to see how the color spreads out. Then, if I wind it I'll be ready to go when the mitten is done." As we have already discussed, I am responsible and the mitten was my top priority, knitting-wise.

I have NO idea how that happened. The set up rows and 3 repeats of the increase rows are somehow knit. Who?? What?? How??
okay, FINE I may have knit the set up rows to see how the yarn felt and how the blues moved along the variegation. I really don't know how so many increase rows happened. really.

The knitting on the Clapotis was a one-time lapse in my resolve to knit the mitten. I set the clapotis aside and reached for the mitten. My hand had to pass the Only Stretch for Shedir in order to get to the mitten and somehow

In my defense, I was really really curious about how this yarn would be to knit. Also, this is TECHNICALLY a gift, although it will be a combination Christmas/Birthday gift. I was only going to knit the ribbing and somehow ended up with one full cable repeat done. I don't know how that happened.

BTW: It is REALLY elastic and feels sooooo nice while knitting. On the down-side, it is a pain in the butt to do cables with, since it is so elastic and I don't usually use a cable needle. I usually just drop the stitches that are to be held on a cable needle and then reposition the stitches on the working needle, but with the stretchiness of this yarn, the stitch dropped has a tendency to disappear! But, on the plus side, Shedir is primarily 2 stitch cables (only one stitch crossing over) so it's not so bad.

Okay, so 2 momentary lapses in my resolve. I sat down once more with the mitten. I remembered that I had bought Kool Aid to dye the thick and thin yarn I got from the yarn lady. "Maybe I'll wash the yarn in the Eucalan and then it will be ready to dye tomorrow morning," I thought.

um... well... you see....

OKAY. FINE. I am really really easily distracted!!!

I'm a bit undecided about the thick and thin. I like the colors but it's not what I intended. I was going for more teal/deep blue/purple-y blue. The green and red Kool-Aid seemed to take hold far stronger than the blue. I like these colors, but this is going to be for me and I don't know if I like these colors ON me. I think I'll get some blue dye (or more blue Kool Aid) and over dye the whole skein.

What? You want to know about the mitten? I TOTALLY knit on the mitten. I did.

I realize that to the untrained eye, this doesn't look that much different from the first picture. But trust me. That, right there, is ONE WHOLE ROUND of the ribbing. See? Told you I was responsible.

Friday, December 30, 2005

yeah, 'cuz i need more...

Our office decided to close at noon today, so I had an unexpected afternoon off! I decided that I would spend the afternoon doing "chores" (are they chores if you are the only person who lives there and it is no one but you demanding that they be done?). On the way home I decided to stop off at my LYS, Gina Brown's (if I had looked at the link there earlier in the week, I would have gone earlier in the week, but I digress).

I intended to pick up some wool wash and THAT'S IT (I really really really meant it. really)

But I walked in and realized they were having a Boxing Week sale!
So, then I thought maybe I would just have a look around. Still intending to just buy the wool wash.

But then I saw this. Araucania Nature Wool in exactly the shades that I wanted to make myself a clapotis. I love the bright green one, but it is awfully bright. and green.
So then, that was going to be it. Just the wool wash and the yarn for the clapotis. Then I saw that there were sale signs over in the section where the discounted yarn is. I just thought I would have a look and see what they had there. I almost picked up some Rowan Calmer to try Shedir from Knitty's special edition last October. It was on sale but they only had 3 shades, none of which were what I wanted. But it was tempting. I used self-control and moved on. But then I saw

Schachenmayr Only Stretch, which seemed similar enough to possibly sub for Shedir (one for a friend in the states, possibly one for me...)
Okay, so my original plan was not being strictly adhered to, but I was gonna make it out the door. I only had to get past the sock yarn

Okay. FINE. I caved. Sisu Fantasy in some cool blue shades. I am not sure how this will pattern, but that's half the fun of the sock for me (when knit with self patterning yarn, of course. In solids it's not as big of a mystery)

(The above yarn choices should possibly reveal something about me and my color preferences... they all kind of go together...)

So, I got home and the yarn is just LOOKING at me. "Cast on for me FIRST" the Nature Yarn called out. "NO, ME!" the Only Stretch shouted. "I'm for someone else and you should try to work on me first. Besides, you've already made a clapotis. I will be a challenge." The Sisu sat quietly, knowing that as soon as the sock that is currently in progress on my teeny tiny circular needle was finished I would cast on for a sock using him.

But reason reared it's head.

"Does this look like a pair of mittens and a scarf to you?" Reason demanded. "The last time we saw her your friend had 2 hands. She may prefer to have 2 mittens. You need to finish US first!"

Stupid Reason. Why does he always have to speak up??

However, Duty (or whatever we want to call it) is louder than all of them.

and no, i don't plan to make it a habit to photograph my cleaning supplies. i just picked this up on the way home and it was sitting there, demanding that i keep my promise to use it when i got home.

btw: I realize that to any muggles (non-knitters) reading this, the thought that the yarn is talking to me is at best absurd, if not a sure sign that i need some sort of professional help. you knitters will understand though, right?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

unexpected happiness (or: I really AM a big dork!)

These have nothing to do with the title, nor the content of this post. I just thought I'd show you because they're cute. I made a ton (at least a dozen) of these a couple of years ago. I don't remember where I got the idea from, but it's just a (clean) ankle sock turned inside out (so it's fuzzy) and stuffed. Then you tie off a lump for the head, stitch on a baby sock (awwwww...) for a toque and embellish with eyes and craft pom poms. The scarves are a strip of remnant fleece. My mom had found this when she was moving (or maybe she had them in with her Christmas decorations. I don't know) and had them in the room I stay in at her house. Awww....

I have been working a LOT of overtime and have been happy with the paychecks, even though it meant I was TIRED and possibly CRANKY a lot. I had decided that I would save as much of the overtime pay as I could and try to get a new computer. I anticipated that this would take place sometime in the spring. Then, last week, my company surprised us all with a really unexpected (and frankly larger than we would ever have hoped) year end bonus. So, the schedule for saving up for a new computer jumped ahead a few months, and, thanks to Boxing Day sales...

(and, because I really AM a big dork, I thought I'd show you. And write a little story. And prove beyond a shadow of doubt... you know... Dork)

Tuesday evening, my geriatric PowerBook was resting in his usual place.

He didn't seem to have any clue that his world is soon to change.

He noticed someone on the desk with him. "Who's there?" he croaked. "What are you doing here? Crazy kids with their fast processor speed and gigantic hard drives. All speed these days. No one wants to take their time anymore. That puts me in mind of the time..." he trailed off as he drifted off to sleep.

Before the old PowerBook could even shake his walking stick at the young whippersnapper quick new iBook, the young whippersnapper quick new iBook had taken his place on the desk. While the new iBook respected the old PowerBook's years of service, it really was time for someone younger to take over. The old PowerBook shrugged and shuffled off to the retirement home, where he plans to play scrabble and take lots of naps.

So, why did I put you through this? I keep forgetting that I am now... wait for it... able to upload pictures and post from home!!!! (I can also comment on your blogs, so i'll try to get better at that. Hi!)

So, in the spirit of suddenly realizing that I can post from home: My FIRST EVER in-progress knitting pics that will be posted within an hour of taking the picture!!!! (I KNOW!!! It's so exciting!!!)

I do not like using dpns. I CAN use dpns, I just don't like it. Why? I seem to have some sort of mental block or something when it comes to doing a purl stitch at the start or the end of a needle on dpns! I suddenly am fumbling and i drop stitches and I just can't do it. (okay, that is a bit of an exaggeration. I can do it. It's just really awkward and I try to avoid it whenever possible) So, the mitten above is still at the cuff stage, but happily, it is DONE the cuff stage and will soon be on to the straight stocking stitch (i.e. knit EVERY round!!) stage, which I can totally handle!

Multidirectional scarf. Another knitblogger required knit. Also, so fun to knit! It looks like so much more than just garter stitch!

This is the LAST Christmas knitting!!! I knew before Christmas that I wouldn't see the recipient of these until after Christmas, so I didn't stress about them last week.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

reknitting. (will i EVER learn?)

Merry Week-Between-Christmas-and-New-Year's!!

(I guess I could also just say "Happy Holidays" but this whole hoopla about the appropriate holiday greeting is getting on my nerves. I promise I won't get into it. Let's just say that it doesn't bother me, as a Christian, one bit if you want to wish me "Happy Holidays" or "Seasons Greetings" or "Happy Wednesday Evening" rather than use the word "Christmas". It doesn't take away from what I believe about the meaning of Christmas if you don't want to use the word. ehem. Sorry. I promised I wouldn't do that.)


You may remember the brown v-neck I knit myself a while ago. (and, really, why wouldn't you remember? really? I'm sure the goings on around here are upmost in your thoughts at most times)
(ehem. i had a very long boring day. sorry.)

Where was I? Right. Brown V-Neck (in case you want to catch up/understand what i'm on about: the post about it is here) which was WAY too short. Even a vicious blocking didn't make it long enough. I wore it anyway, but I was ALWAYS fighting with it.

I decided that once the Christmas knitting was done (well. the majority of the Christmas knitting, but let's not get into my distractability) I would attempt to re-knit the bottom of this sweater.

First I spent considerable time threading a piece of waste yarn through the round where I wanted to re-start my knitting. Then, I spent considerable time trying to undo the cast on row. Then, I tried to frog. You know how to frog. You just gently tug on the yarn end and the stitches come undone. Well, not in this case! I don't know if it is a quirk of frogging from the cast on edge or if it is the way I knit, but the yarn twisted around itself at each edge of the ribs in a way that made it impossible to just frog around. So, I did the unthinkable: I snipped one side of a stitch a couple of rounds below where my waste yarn was. I unknit around (sort of the opposite of grafting) and ended up with a round of live stitches on my waste yarn and a band of ribbing.

Then I put the live stitches (with the waste yarn still in them) back on my needle and knit. I ended up adding 3 inches in total length which brought the sweater to where it should have been in the first place!

Much much better.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Birthday Presents.

Today, I want to show you cool stuff that I DID NOT MAKE!!!!
My birthday was a month and a half ago, but I'm only now getting around to posting pics of the really cool stuff my friends gave me!!

My friend Robin made me this beautiful pin cushion!! It is velvet and beaded and so pretty. I didn't want to put pins in it!!

Thank you Robin!!! I love it.

My friend Julie gave me these note cards (so cool!):

And this pendant:

which, I realized as I was looking at it one day, sort of matches my eye (apologies if pictures of someone's eye grosses you out)

Thank you so much Julie!!

And, my friend Cobi gave me this needle holder (formerly a paint brush holder!) that she stamped:

Thank you so much Cobi!!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

More Christmas Knitting. With Zebras! And Giraffes!

Well, to be truthful, it's ONE Zebra and ONE Giraffe.

So, the secret Christmas sweater has been given and received and I have pictures finally!! I had the idea to knit a hoodie for one of my best friends, Cobi. I wanted it to be cabled somewhat, but couldn't find a pattern that I liked. So, I found a pattern for a plain stocking stitch hoodie and added cables and ribbing.

Pattern: sort of made up, sort of based on a hoodie from Vogue Knitting Summer 04
Yarn: Patons Decor (way softer than I thought it would be!!)

BTW: Cobi, love ya, but seriously, in the middle of this massive amount of cabling, which wasn't hard but just a little time-consuming, somewhere there in the middle i started to wonder if it was worth it. Not a reflection on you, or on our friendship. Just a reflection on the never ending rows of cabling. love ya!!

I completely forgot to take a picture in the daylight on the weekend. You may be able to just make out the cabling. I did a cable rib for the bottom bands and the sleeves and then the cables grew out of the ribbing to form the twisted lattice of the body of the sweater.

Cobi did the thing that makes a knitter's heart rejoice. First she was so excited about the sweater, but then... (you will all be jealous and want my friend to give knit things to) but then, she noticed the cables on the hood AND she commented on them excitedly. Having a non-knitter notice something like the fact that your cables match up on the top of a hood is a wonderful thing.

(It is slightly possible that i'm a bit loopy today. it's been an up and down and up and down kind of day. forgive me if i become too saccharine or melodramatic.)

A rather dim picture, but you can see how happy she looks in her hoodie!! When I got back to work (we did our gift exchange on my lunch break) Cobi emailed me wondering about whether she could get away with wearing it all the time, you know, smell-wise (sorry Cobi. It was just too funny).

Next up: Toques for Cobi's kids.
Not as much fun as the toques from last year (i posted them on craftster
here) but they seem to fit okay.

Pattern: Brioche Helmet from IWK Fall 05
Yarn: really soft acrylic, but I can't remember the name of it right now.
I really like this pattern, which uses short rows to shape the ear flaps, but frankly, the decreases at the crown made me swear a lot. The yarn is doubled, plus in the brioche stitch you are doing yarn overs and then knitting the yarn over with it's companion slipped stitch so on the decrease (k3tog) you ended up having 10 strands of yarn to try and work your way through (2 slipped stitches with companion yarn overs and one knit stitch).

I got Melman the Giraffe to pose for me. She was busy chomping on an orange, but she was very happy and kept thanking me.

Marty the Zebra was less enthusiastic about posing for pictures, but everyone knows that zebras are shier than giraffes, so it was to be expected. I did get him, toque on head, with his mom in the hoodie that she may never take off (although it warms my knitterly heart that she would say that, I really really hope she changes her mind there).

Monday, December 19, 2005

Christmas Knitting! For real this time! With Pictures and Everything!!

Alternate Title: Blocking: You Can Do It!!

Christmas Knitting Completed #1
Every year my family picks names among the "grown-ups" for Christmas. I have mixed feelings about this, as it sometimes feels more like it becomes an obligation for my family rather than a chance to give generously or joyously to our loved ones. However, that said, I understand the reason behind it.

So, this year I picked my sister-in-law's name. I was happy about this for several reasons:
1. I knew she would appreciate and, possibly, love a hand made gift.
2. She had asked me to knit her a sweater, way back in September.
3. She picked out a pattern she really liked once when going through my knitting magazines.
4. The pattern she picked out called for chunky weight yarn and US10/6mm needles!!

Yarn: Patons Shetland Chunky in a steel grey (I can't find the ball band right now)
Pattern: Cabled Jacket from Vogue Knitting Winter 04/05

Before I show you the sweater, I have a few things to show you:
1. With about 8 rows left in the last sleeve, this is what the yarn did:

There was this really strange over-twisted and then un-twisted and then over-twisted section. I thought I could just knit through it, but it was noticeable. I hate it when there is a really noticeable flaw in the yarn like that! If it had been 100% wool, or handspun I would totally have understood. But this stuff is 75% acrylic!! argh. But I knit on (after joining a new end to this spot. Luckily there was enough left to do this).

Then I began to block. Now, I have a tendency to look for the laziest most expedient way to do things. I should have soaked and pinned the pieces, but this is Christmas time people!! There isn't time!! So, the magic of the steam iron was called upon. And Magic it is.

The 2 sleeves. I think I'm glad I made myself block it!

And the finished jacket. I won't get to see her open it, they aren't able to be with us for Christmas. So, at this point I'm in "I hope she likes it. I hope it fits. I hope this is really what she wanted" mode. I really like seeing people open gifts and I will miss that.

And one final oops to show you:

Can you see the difference between the collar and the jacket? I knew I had one ball from a different dyelot, but it didn't look as noticeable in the store!! I saved it for the collar b/c I figured if it did turn out to be noticeable, it would be less strange on the collar than on a sleeve.

Christmas Knitting Completed #2

So, a few posts ago, I told you about a sweater I had completed for my friend, Julie. Actually, I probably didn't say that it was for Julie. It was. Where was I? Oh, yeah. As I neared completion on the Hourglass Sweater I was knitting Julie for Christmas (in NOVEMBER!! I was WAY ahead!!) I realized that it was a tad small. Like possibly 4 inches less in circumference than it should have been. You know: "a tad". ehem

I kept knitting, finishing the sweater, hoping that maybe it would just magically grow into the size/shape it needed to be. (It was really small. On me, it fit sort of like how a baby-Tshirt fits. Not the look you're going for in the Hourglass sweater!!) I put it aside while I finished my other Christmas knitting. I was mentally preparing myself to frog and re-knit the whole thing. I warned Julie that her gift may be late due to another Christmas Knitting Brain Fart (last year her gift sweater turned out to be a disaster and I ended up knitting a different sweater which she received in the end of January).

So, as I was blocking my sister-in-law's sweater, feeling like I had some sort of blocking magic working for me, I decided to try blocking Julie's hourglass sweater. I had already tried soaking/stretching it, but to no avail. Why did I think that steaming it would work? Well, I didn't. But, I already had the iron steaming and the ironing pad was out and I had nothing to lose as far as the teeny-tiny Hourglass was concerned.

The tape is showing you the width of the sweater at the narrow part of the hourglass shape of the body. It reads "16" As in: 16 inches across. As in: 32 inches around.

Post steam blocking: "18" as in 18 inches across. As in: 36 inches around.
I don't know how I did it. This yarn is 100% acrylic. I have NEVER had acrylic block like this. Maybe it's the yarn, it's not very tightly twisted (my spinning vocabulary is not so expansive). Maybe I had some sort of blocking mojo working for me. Maybe it's a Festivus Miracle!** Either way, it worked. The sweater that was minutes away from a frogging suddenly was wearable and exactly the size I thought it should be!!

And, given my excitement to give the gifts and to see the receiver open the gift, I was really really happy when Julie's response was so enthusiastic. She loved it. It looks really good on her and the colors suit her perfectly (and go well in her dining room!)

So, I thought I had one whole sweater left to do for Christmas knitting but now, the score is:
Total Christmas Sweaters planned: 3
Christmas Sweaters left to knit: 0 (yes: ZERO) (okay, I still need to put in a zipper on one, but that is SO NOT KNITTING!)
Assorted other Christmas knitting planned: 2 toques, 1 scarf, 1 pair mitts/gloves,
Assorted other Christmas knitting completed: 1 1/2 toques, 1/4 scarf
Days until Christmas: 5
BUT: the scarf and mitts are for a friend I won't see until after Christmas. I totally have time.

Now to complete a toque and knit on a sock (sock? oh, yeah, I have Birthday Knitting to do.) and watch some hockey and/or football. Where is Picture-in-Picture TV when you need it??

**I almost forgot: For those among you who have NOT seen every Seinfeld episode a dozen times: Festivus was the holiday that George Costanza's dad invented. In the Festivus episode Kramer yells out "It's a Festivus Miracle!" It's funny. Although, reading it, not so funny. Maybe you had to see it.

Christmas Stockings

My header refers to crafts, as in not-just-knitting, but it seems that i spend far more time knitting than anything else. I do really enjoy other crafting things, like, for example, SEWING!!!

So, I present, SEWING!!! With PICTURES!!!

A couple of years ago, when I first got my sewing machine, I had this sudden idea to make stockings for my nieces and nephews (5 of them at the time) using pieces cut from my Dad's old shirts and/or jeans. It hadn't been a year yet since he had passed away, and it was the first Christmas without him. They were a big hit with everyone, and my younger brother and his wife, who didn't have kids at the time, were hoping that when they did have kids I would make one for them too. I didn't tell them at the time, but I had set aside enough fabric squares to make at least 2 more.

So, now that they had the boys, I wanted to make them stockings too. I kind of wanted to surprise them, but my brother had asked about the stockings back in September...

I pieced the fabric squares together, trying to get a mix of the different patterns. Most of the fabric is from shirts/jeans from my dad, but there are a few squares cut from a scarf of my mom's too.

I stitched the squares together and cut out my template (which I had saved from the first 5 stockings, thankfully!). I was using thin batting which a backing of scrap fabric for the front "quilted" piece, and some solid colored fabric for the back and the cuff.

It took a couple of days after they had been assembled before I had time to finish them. I had them lying on my floor where I would admire them and think about Christmas, my Dad and the babies. I was feeling proud of myself and my craftiness, when I noticed this:

Yes. That is a large, gaping spot where I failed to get the top sewn together properly. Yes, I only noticed it 3 days after I sewed the back to the quilted front. Yes, I was very very relieved that I noticed it BEFORE I sewed on the cuffs. Yes, this does nothing to curb my tendency to procrastinate and be distracted by other projects, because I wouldn't have noticed it if I hadn't procrastinated/been distracted by other projects.

So, crisis averted, I managed to get the top fixed with a minimum of swearing, it is Christmastime, after-all, and I continued on my merry way.

the letters for their names are out of fimo-type clay

So, now they are boxed up and on their way to my brother & sister-in-law's, hopefully will arrive before Christmas... Go Canada Post Go!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Knitting! With Pictures!!

Okay, so I've not been posting much. The projects I've been working on have mostly been Christmas knits, so I haven't shown you just in case the intended recipients happen to come by here. But, today, I have REAL KNITTING PICS to show you!!

**in my head there's crazy cheering and applause.

1. Green sweater. From recycled yarn from previously turtlenecked green sweater. (that reminds me of what I told my aunt when we were at the Yarn Lady's house. The Yarn Lady made me put on slippers that she had in the closet. When my aunt came around the corner I told her I had been "Slippered".)
Where was I? Oh yeah. Green Sweater.
Fibre content: some weird mix of wool, rabbit fur, and acrylic.
Pattern: um... I had something as a jumping off point somewhere along the line, but no real pattern.

best (only) compliment I've received on this sweater: My friend Cobi and her kids took me to lunch for my birthday. I was wearing this sweater. When I took off my jacket, Cobi's little girl stopped what she was saying and said "That's a really pretty green... um... shirt Lori" awwwww (she's 3 1/2. awwww)

2. Cabled Zipped Jacket for my sister-in-law from Vogue Knitting 04/05
Yarn: Patons Shetland Chunky
This is my sister-in-law's Christmas present. They are moving this week and I don't think she would see this before I get it to her, so I'm posting pics!!

The other front and most of one sleeve are done. Yay Chunky weight knits on US10/6mm needles!!

3. Cabled Secret Sweater for my friend Cobi.
COBI: You are NOT allowed to look at this. (although, if your name happens to be Cobi and you don't know me or have any reason to suspect I may give you a Christmas gift, go ahead, look)
Yarn: Patons Decor. Suprisingly soft and holds the cables really well.

HA! Cobi I knew you'd look, so I didn't show the whole thing!!

I need to block it, weave in a few ends and put int the zipper, but otherwise the score is:
Christmas presents completed: 1(ish)
Christmas presents in progress: 3 (i don't have pics of the toques, sorry)(oh, yeah, i'm working on 2 toques for un-named kids of an un-named friend)(shh)
Christmas presents completed and messed up and needing to be frogged but being avoided because of the soul-sucking realization that i'll never get it re-knit in time for Christmas: 1
Christmas presents yet to be started: 2. maybe 3 or 4. I haven't decided yet.
Days until Christmas: 12
Chance that I will get it all done BEFORE Christmas while continuing to work 10 hour days: slim
Migraines and assorted aches and pains causing me to take a half sick-day: 1
Time spent during my half sick-day feeling like I should be working or knitting: 3 hours.

I'm off to go in to work. Merry Christmas Knitting all... And to all a good FO.