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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

I was going to put in a really cute photo of the mess left over from Christmas, but when it was time to upload the photos, the camera said that there were 101 photos to upload.  What?!  Turns out that my husband took a zillion photos at the Trans-Siberian Orchestra show and I just don't feel like sorting through them right now...so no photos. 

The holiday was really lovely.  We spent several hours at Aaron's Dad's and had a great time.  The boys made out like little bandits.  I got a big giftcard to Sephora, a new beta, some inter-changable needles from knit picks, and Bones season 5 on DVD.  I just bought myself a little gift too...Intwined Pattern Studios chart designer!  This is going to really take my pattern and chart designs in a whole new direction.  I can create my charts, do written directions to match them, invert charts if I need to (which I frequently do need to), and have access to knitting symbols all for a ridiculously reasonable price.  I couldn't be more excited, especially since I've been designing things in my sleep lately and it always takes me more time to create the chart than it does to write the pattern out. 

My most recent design is a tie for little guys.  I knit a wonderful tie for Dante from Hilary Smith Callis called Carrie's Ties.  He glanced at the screen as I was reading her blog and back-tracked to tell me that he thought a knitted tie was cool and he would wear one if he had one...  so I bought the pattern and two skeins of Seduce Colors in # 4481 Dreams and knit him one (I finished it last night).  It's really a lovely pattern and the yarn is beautiful.  I hated knitting it because the Seduce is so unforgiving and doesn't stretch, so when you knit in magic-loop the last stitch of every row is always tight and I had to force it over the needle, but the finished look was worth it.  It just drapes so nicely and has fantastic sheen and color.  So anyway, while I was knitting the tie for Dante, I realized that Alex would want one and that he's too small for a traditional tie.  That led me to design a tie for him that looks just like a real tie that goes around the neck, but features a button band for an adjustable fit.  I've knit the first one in SWTC Bamboo #144, and I'll be working on a few different sized and weights, and then releasing a pattern.  I was inspired by Hilary's slip-stitch feature in the full sized tie and after trying different methods to create a seam, I decided that her feature works best to allow the tie to lay flat and I incorporated it.  That's the end of the pattern similarities, as my version is worked flat and seamed in back like a real tie, and is made in three pieces to allow the shape and fit.  Photos to come soon, after I knit a few more samples and get the 101 photos off my camera.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Two down, one to go

I finished the finishing on the second of three items I took in for the holiday.  This one was simple and easy, but it took quite a while because of the sheer size of it (50" chest).  I finished the last of the tail weaving at my knitting class and then took out Dante's socks to work on them.  I'm almost half way through the foot.  What a difference a few extra stitches can make in the amount of time one spends working on a sock!

I've also collected more yarn.  It's really yarn collecting at this stage in the game because I just don't have the time to knit it all, yet I keep bringing it in.  I'm a yarn hoarder (almost).  Today I picked up 3 skeins of orange Berroco Vintage for another top-down sweater for Alex.  He's watching The Cat in the Hat and Nick wears an orange sweater just like the one Alex has...so he wants an orange sweater.  Lets not forget the purple sweater he asked for too.  I might just return the purple yarn, if he never mentions it again.  I also got a fantastic colorway of Noro Silk Garden Sock which I didn't need because I have 3 balls right now that I haven't knit, plus a ball of Lang Magic Stripe in pink/red/black, a ball of Knit One Crochet Two Soxx Appeal in a variegated green for Alex's socks (Dante's getting socks, so Alex will need socks too), and a pair of size 8 Addi Turbo needles because I don't have a 24" 8 and I've been using one pretty often.  Then at knitting, I scored some free green mystery yarn of undetermined yardage that I took for Alex, and some blue for myself.  I needed to get a separate bag to put it all in.  Oh, and did I mention the Pacman pins from Namco for the Pacman hat that Alex asked me for??  Right.  I have to design a Pacman hat.  This is either gonna be awesome, or it's gonna fail big time.m

Monday, December 13, 2010

WaterFire Hand Warmers pattern now available!

 WaterFire Hand Warmer pattern is now available in my pattern store on Ravelry.  You can purchase it from my sidebar (even if you don't have a Ravelry account...but why wouldn't you?). 
 The hand warmers are knit from one ball of Zauberball fingering weight, in their rainbow colorway.  The cool colors were separated from the warm colors, and two balls were created.  I used those two newly created balls to knit the fair-isle design.
 The stitch motif is inspired by designs in Alice Starmore's Fair-Isle Knitting book.
 The pattern is also inspired by WaterFire, an award winning sculpture created 15 years ago by a local RISD student.  It's free to the public and runs every year from June - October with special "partial-fires" through out the year.
 These would be just as pretty in two solid colors, as well as any other high contrast color of Zauberball (they were test knit in the purple/orange colorway).  Cast on and stay warm!

Oh Christmas Tree & Hacho Mittens

 The Christmas tree is up, decorated, and lit.  Alex was way more excited this year than he's ever been before.  He put up all the ornaments that you see on the bottom 3 feet of the tree, and he did a pretty good job of getting them spread out.  Aaron moved one and Alex got really upset so I told him to leave them where Alex put them, and fill in as best he could with the glass ornaments.
 I also finished Alex's Hacho mittens finally.  To be fair, I finished them last year but he lost one.  I didn't think it was necessary to knit the replacement at the time (after all, the season was over), but now it's getting really cold and it's definitely mitten weather.  I started them three times before I found the needle size that I used on the original pair.
Now, I just need to finish the one seaming job that is due before Christmas, and I think I can sneak in a quick pair of mittens for myself.  Oh, and I also need to finish Sabrina's mittens before she gets here in the next few weeks.  Better get some pain killers, cause my fingers are gonna be sore.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Things I've learned today

 So I asked Alex to try on this sweater so that I could get an idea of it's fit, and I could see it on a body.  I had to threaten him with death.  Turns out that Alex doesn't like blue...  I had no idea.  He hates it.  He hates it enough that he whined, flopped, took forever to put it on, flopped some more, and after I threatened him with a nap, I was able to take the above photo.  Can you see his pain?
In this photo, I was encouraging him to make monster faces, stick his tongue at me, and do funny things with his hands.  He didn't want to but at least I got a snap shot of him with a much better face on.  I thought he hated the sweater, but I had him try on the green version and he couldn't wait to get it on .  He loves that one, so it turned out that he loves green, hates blue, and wouldn't take the green sweater off.  He said "mom, can I wear this?!  It's so cozy and warm."  So even though it was supposed to be his Christmas gift, I gave it to him today.  He wore it all day long and loved it.  He especially loved that his neck warmer matched (there's a green stripe in it that I knit with the same yarn as the sweater).  

I took him with me (in his sweater) to run several errands, on of which was to drop off the sweater-of-doom.  I'd called the shop and let them know that I was done and would bring it in later in the day, just in case the Nana called...and she did call (sigh).  I'm just not getting paid enough for this.  So, while we were there, Alex and I wandered into the back room where we proceeded to let him pick out yarn for his next sweater.  I figured that he was so particular about color that it would be best to let him decide for himself.  He chose the most ugly primary-color-variegated Comfort DK, and I had to veto that decision.  I offered to knit him a hat or something, but there was no way on this Earth that I was knitting with that yarn.  None.  After I hid it out of sight, he chose a pretty baby purple.  Sadly, I had to steer him to other options in the purples.  He chose a really pretty (and yet still gender neutral enough) Cascade 220 superwash.  It's a bright purple that's heathered with black (hard to describe) and it's really a beautiful color.  I handed him a ball and he happily ran out to the counter.  So here's hoping that I'll be able to knit him a brand new sweater for Christmas.
Oh, and by the way, if anyone is looking for a copy of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer...the post office had it for about 11 bucks as part of some promotion.  We picked one up when we stopped there to return a cookbook that I never asked for, that was sent to me anyway even though I returned the card stating that I didn't want it.  It was that kind of day.  I also had to speak to the people at Capital One regarding the email that I received, telling me that my new credit card was on the way... only I never applied for a credit card.  They had my name, social, and DOB on file, and obviously my email address, but the mailing address was incorrect.  Thank goodness I called because the account had been opened a few days ago so they had time to flag the card and get it closed, close my account, and flag it with a fraud warning.  After my day, I'm really tired. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Little German Boy

 Pattern: Children's Neck Down Pullover #9730 from Knitting Pure & Simple
 Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash Hand Painted, color 9997
 Size: 6-8, knit at a smaller gauge so it's more like 5-7 years
 Ready to go into the mail, and off to it's new home with a 5-year old little German boy for Christmas.
Whew!  Now, on to the next one.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Glutton for Punishment

Aaron's hand drawing from art class
Punishment and I are getting cozy these days.  I've got more homework that I know what to do with.  I'm working more hours which is really making it tough to keep up with said homework (last night I was up till 2am working on papers).  I've got a cookie swap tonight and I didn't have time to bake any yet.  I've got some butter out on the counter right now to soften and I'm going to whip up the dough before I leave, and have Dante & Aaron bake them up while I'm out...I apologize in advance if they don't work out.  I'm about half way through the last sleeve on the German kid's top down sweater.  This is a really good thing because GermanNana is very nervous and has called or dropped in on me twice now to check on it's progress.  For some reason, she was under the impression that it would only take a few days to knit an entire sweater for a 5-year old boy (in which case, she should have had time to do it herself...) and I've had to tell her twice now that I'm working on it, I have homework, kids, work, and family obligations, and that I'll call her when it's done.  She's a nice enough lady, but her nervousness is really starting to wear on me and I need her to relax before I hand the entire project over to her as-is (I'm doing her a big favor here, it would be nice if she remembered that).  Then I still have the vest to put together for a customer, and another one dropped a baby sweater off that needs to be seamed together, have buttons put on...oh yeah, and the sleeves need to be knit.  Honestly, I just don't know if I can get that done before Christmas.  I let her know, and she's grateful that I took it on and is understanding.  We'll see what happens.  So I've let the shop know that if anyone else asks...I can't do anything else at all until after the holidays.  That way I won't feel pressed to take on that one last project because it's an emergency and they're really in a bind and they really need this, and can I please please try.  Obviously, I need to review the chapter on how to say 'no' and stick to my guns.

While all of this excitement over work and homework is going on, I've been bombarded by design ideas and I haven't had time to knit any of them up to see if they work.  I've got lots of socks and mittens in my sketch book, and I just don't have time to get to them.  Maybe I should work on things in my sketch book while I'm in Cali for 3 weeks.  I've already got the yarn for one project, and I picked up some Comfort DK to knit a pair of Cocky! socks for my mom.  Now, if I could only find time to finish the gloves for my MIL, the new socks for my FIL, the socks for Dante, and the elephant for Carolyn.  Looks like I'm baking for everyone else for Christmas.  That's good too, right?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cocky!

If any of you watch Bones, then you'll know exactly what this is, lol.  Turns out that the bird is a cockatoo!  Who knew?  I always thought it was a rooster.

So what does this have to do with anything, you may ask?  Well, instead of doing my homework last night, I got out of the shower inspired by this belt buckle and pulled up excel to chart out a brand new Booth-inspired sock...Cocky!  I've started a new Yahoo group page for my Bones Ravelry group to host knit-alongs with original patterns and this is the first one.  I'll be running this round for about 2 months (to get us past the holiday season) and then we'll add new patterns as they come.  If you're interested in joining the group, leave me a comment or send me a personal message on Ravelry and I'll get your pertinent info.  Once you receive an invite to the group, you'll be able to download patterns.  But if you don't feel like joining one more thing, I'll be releasing the patterns to the public after the end of each pattern's knit-along round.  That means that (assuming anyone else reads this thing and joins up) Cocky! will be released toward the end of January.
Here's what you need to know to knit this sock:
  • it's written for 8 sts per inch in the stranded pattern
  • you need to be able to read a chart, decrease, knit in the round, and be familiar with basic sock construction.
  • you'll need 50gm of red and 50gm of white fingering weight yarn (or any other color of your choice but I think you can see why I chose red and white).
  • the pattern is downloadable from the yahoo group in a PDF format.  please keep the pattern private, as it is an exclusive pattern for the group.
  • That's it!  No more.  Are you still reading this list?!
So, if anyone want's to get in on the fun, let me know.  More random patterns to come as I attempt to stay focused on my school work, and commissioned knitting, lol.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Stalking my patterns

My patterns have taken out temporary restraining orders against me, because I keep stalking them on Ravelry to see how many sales I've made.  I just can't seem to stop myself.  Does anyone else do this??  Seriously.  I need to know that I'm among friends.  I check my patterns about every hour.  I check it on gmail to see if there are any emails about sales.  When I don't see anything there, I go over to Paypal to verify that there really is nothing there.  After that's been verified, I check Ravelry to see if the other two sites are lying to me.  It's really unhealthy, lol.  All I can think about is people knitting something that I've designed.  I'm hooked!  I have several designs that I've written a pattern for, which I just need to have test knit.  I've found a free test knitting group, but there are so many rules!!  I don't mind rules, but that means that I need the time to read them all, and then fill out all the necessary paperwork, and I don't have that kind of time right now.  (Anyone interested in test knitting a pair of stranded hand-warmers?)  I have a design that I wrote out based on an item that a customer brought into the shop yesterday.  She needed to replicate it for someone else, and didn't know where to begin.  We talked about it some, and then she said something about socks that jogged my memory, and I was off like a rocket, scribbling the pattern down on a notepad.  She offered to pay me for the pattern, but I gave it to her in exchange for knitting the sample for me (free test knitting!).  Hopefully it works out and than I'll have a sample photo to include with my pattern.  I also need to work out a few other sizes, and if it all works out then I'll introduce it here.  All I can say for now is that it's retro and based on a vintage item found in a yard sale.  Very cute, very practical, and I'm inspired to do some really funky things with it.

In other news, I'm knitting a sweater for the German-Nana (did I mention this already??) and it's coming along nicely.  My only issue is that the Cascade 220 superwash (which I love) is pooling just a bit through the sleeves so I'm now working from both ends of the ball to minimize this.  I could have just pressed on with the sleeves as they were, but I'm a bit OCD about these things so I ripped it back and started again with one strand from the inside and one from the outside, alternating them every row.  There's still a very slight amount of pooling but much less, and much less obvious than the first go-round.  When that's done, I'll be finishing a piece for a customer and then there's a possibility that I may need to knit an angora scarf for another woman who can't find what she's looking for.  I suggested she try Amazon, and Etsy, and then let me know if she still can't find it as I've got a connection to some 100% angora yarn.  I'm never gonna get Dante's socks knit at this rate.  The knitter's kids have no handknits.  But when I finally get back to knitting my own stuff, I'll have fantastic labels to put on them because I ordered custom labels from Namemaker.com.  They do lots of different types, and their minimum is really tiny so I could try them out before I commit myself to 1000 labels that will sit around my place taking up space.  I'll let you know what I think of them when they arrive, but I'm excited about them.

I'm also excited about the jeans, long-sleeve T-shirts, and gray wool pea-coat that I ordered from Gap!  I'm hoping this coat will fit better than the one I bought last year.  It was just too big, but I never got around to having it altered.  I figured that I'd try the next size down this year and see how it fits.  I really wanted a pea-coat anyway, and it was way on sale.  I also got a few long-sleeved tee's because they're really practical in the winter and they work really well under my vests, and short-sleeved sweaters.  And lastly, I got two pairs of skinny jeans.  I know.  I wasn't going to.  I'm more of a boot-cut jeans girl, but it's hard to wear my boots with them when it snows and I need to tuck the pants into the boots.  There's just so much fabric in the legs to tuck in.  So I figured I'd try the jeans with my boots this winter and see how they work out.  This is either going to be really cute, or really not. 

Finally, let's talk about school.  I'm burning out folks.  I'm frustrated with the ridiculous level of work in classes that have nothing to do with my major (thankfully, these two are the last of my general ed classes).  I'm irritated that the classroom layout was changed so drastically that I missed an assignment (my first missed assignment since I started school) because I didn't know we even had an assignment.  I got it turned in, but I had to hustle to keep from losing more than one grade on it.  I've never even been late with an assignment before.  Not even when my entire family was sick with H1N1 flu last year.  I've never earned less than an "A" on an assignment either, but I guess this is my first.  I'm also irritated because I've been assigned to a group for this week's discussion, and no one in my group has responded to the email I sent out 3 days ago regarding the project.  I finally just did my assigned part, and sent an email to the instructor telling her about it.  Hopefully we're graded individually and not as a unit, because I'm not gonna lose points for other people failing to hold up their end...and I'm not gonna do their work for them.  Guess I'll update you on that next week.  While you wait, here's a photo of a cat being silly. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Night of the Lepus: public release!

 Today is the big day!  The Super Sock Scarefest group officially wrapped up today, and I am free to release the Night of the Lepus pattern to the public (no Ravelry acct needed to follow the link).  The pattern is written for two sizes (Women's M/L), and provides instructions on how to increase or decrease to fit your foot if you wear a larger or smaller size.  You'll need to know how to increase, decrease, and be familiar with stranded knitting.  The floats are kept as short as possible, and the bunny tails can be omitted so that you never have to work with more than two colors per row if you prefer.

  • Gauge: 8 sts per inch, or 32 sts over 4 inches in the round, in stranded pattern.  Important note: it's critical that you knit your swatch in the round and in the stranded pattern.  Stranded knitting is tighter, and if you do not knit your swatch in the stranded pattern, the sock may end up too tight!  Take the time to ensure proper fit. 





















Pattern price: $6.00

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pressure

So, what is a girl to do when she starts being bombarded by design ideas, but has no time to knit them?  I've had two come to me in dreams.  I've designed one because I couldn't find a mitten pattern that I liked.  I was inspired by holiday decorations on the way to a friends' place yesterday and I had to sketch my idea as soon as I got there.  One of them I'm really itching to knit but I can't because I got suckered commissioned to knit another sweater for someone else by Christmas.  I know I said I wouldn't take anymore until after the holidays because I have my own family to knit for...but she was a tiny little German Grandma and she needed a wool sweater for her 5-year old grandson in Germany.  I just couldn't tell her know!  So I directed her to the wall of Cascade 220, and told her to pick out a color and buy the yarn.  Now I'm knitting a Knitting Pure & Simple pattern out of 220 Superwash Handpaint in a pretty blue/green colorway.  I'm working on the body now and hopefully I'll get to the sleeves today.  If I can finish in a few days, I'll still have time to knit for my own boys.  And maybe I can start on the really fun holiday project that's floating around in my head.

Oh, and yes...I was in the Sunday Providence Journal.  I got bum-rushed by a reporter and her cameraman who's name sounds like a Hobbit or a Star-Wars character, and next thing I know I'm in the paper.  Good thing I managed a shower that morning and put on some lipstick.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Disaster of Holiday Proportions

Today was full of disasters.  Exhibit A: Alex's chosen outfit.  It just wasn't worth fighting over.  Exhibit B: well...I'm missing a photo here because after getting my squash pie in the oven I realized that I couldn't put the pecan pie in the oven with it because they cook at different temperatures.  That's about the time that Aaron called me and said that his mom was getting dinner on the table and it was time for Alex and I to come on down.  I hadn't even started my mushroom Shepard's pie yet and told Aaron so, at which point he asked me how long it would take to cook it.  That's when I realized that I hadn't had a chance to so much as look at the recipe and when I did...I realized that I was looking at about 1 1/2 - 2 hours worth of cooking time.  For Shepard's Pie!  With no meat in it.  Really.  Thank goodness my MIL and her companion are good cooks and they think of me, because she had a really good lentil soup, and fantastic sides like mashed potatoes made with cauliflower instead of butter, butternut squash with apples, and a stuffing with mushrooms.  On the bright side, the squash pie that I made with coconut cream instead of evaporated milk came out fantastic (just a bit sweet).  Let's hope that the pecan pie with coconut oil instead of butter is equally good.

Exhibit C: again, there is no photo here because after I finished knitting the first of Dante's Christmas socks, I had him try it on only to find that not only did his feet get longer...they got wider too.  His sock was too tight.  I knit an entire sock, and had to rip it out!  That yarn is now in time out and I grabbed a different skein of his choosing to start a new pair that will fit well.  I just don't have this kind of time.  It's the holiday knitting season people!  I still have a pair of fingering weight gloves and two pairs of socks to knit (for large-footed men).  So, back to watching Julie & Julia while I knit yet another sock for The Boy, and lament the status of my poor neglected blog.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fibonacci Cowl Pattern

Hi Folks!  I know that some of you who frequent the blog and stalk my Ravelry project page are no stranger to this finished object, but I finally decided to go ahead and write up the pattern.  It's now on Ravelry for sale, and I'm including a link on the blog for anyone those without Ravelry accounts who are interested.  This cowl is a one size fits all kind of deal.  My little guy stole mine when he was 3 and wore it all winter.  I finally knit him one of his own, and stole it back.  The pattern is a series of Fibonacci stripes which run opposite of each other.  It can be knit with 2 balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, or any other aran weight yarn with at least 99 yds a ball.  It has a simple rolled edge detail that I though looked really pretty with the stripes, and it folds up small enough to stuff into a medium sized purse if its gets too hot to wear (or a coat pocket).  I wore mine all over Rhinebeck and it worked like a charm (I was there a year ago when it was frigid!)  Feel free to join me in my cowl obsession.  Come on, you know you wanna...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Boys after Halloween
This week has brought some really cool stuff.  First, after Aaron's insistence I went on netflix to see if we could set up streaming to the Xbox without having to upgrade our membership and found out that we could so now we've spent the last two days watching every instant watch that looks even remotely interesting.  You know, the ones that you want to watch but won't sit at the computer for long enough to do so?  Right now I'm finishing The First Power

Today I voted.  I also got to knit with my group for a little bit today.  I really missed those ladies.  First of all, they're just fun.  Second, they're crazy talented.  We have spinners, yarn dyers, yarn reclaimers, designers, and really fantastic knitters.  One of the girls was wearing this really pretty sweater knit from about 3 skeins of Silk Garden sock yarn.  She said she used size 7 needles and it fluffed right out after going in the wash.  It was really plain, and the colors did all the work.  I'm feeling a little bit obsessed and I want one too.  But that's going to have to wait until after I finish this sweater that I'm knitting for a friend, and then the next commissioned sweater after that, and then the Christmas knitting.  Who knows, maybe I'll get my list finished this year :)


Thursday, October 28, 2010

exhaustion

Has it really been weeks since I last posted?  I guess school and work and kids just got the better of me and I was too tired to bother.  Since we last spoke, I've done some knitting but I've mostly been doing homework.  I'm on break right now and thank goodness I am because this last set of classes just about killed me.  My final projects were truly ridiculous and I'm still wiped out.  My back is so badly out of alignment that I've been having a hard time sleeping and I can feel that my collar bone is grinding when I move my left arm.  I really need to see the chiropractor but I just can't afford it right now.  I'm entrenched in a battle with my former employer and it's affecting my unemployment so the budget is really tight right now.  Luckily, I've been taking in some repairs and finishing work from the shop which helps make up a little of the difference. 

I've been commissioned to knit a sweater for a friend's husband and I've been agonizing over it.  I've knit 3 swatches and I've tried to cast on and get started but I do this thing where I feel like, if a person is paying me to knit something for them (and it's not cheap) then I want the finished item to look like it was worth the amount they paid.  I also get bored if the item is too plain.  Plain socks?...then I need the yarn to at least be a really pretty color.  Solid color yarn?...then I need a nice stitch pattern to show it off.  Giant turtle-neck pullover for a 6'2" man?...then I want to put a cabled panel down the center to break it up and make it look a little better.  That should be easy enough but I've gone over it and over it, and I've narrowed it down several times.  I've knit four-five different swatches and come up with three likely candidates.  Here's the issue.  My favorite one is harder to knit and harder on the hands.  The next one looks more like the first one and is easier on the hands but will still take more time than the last one.  The last one is fastest and simplest, (and Aaron likes that one best) but it's just boring!  So therein lies the problem.  Fast, or interesting.  Can't a girl have both!?  So I'm off to cast on and figure out what to do about this issue.  One way or another, I'm starting this sweater tonight.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Monster Hat


the Monster Hat
Yesterday I posted about the Pumpkin Hat (which was met with much enthusiasm this morning), and a few days before that I posted about the Bunny Hat, but in between these, I knit the Monster Hat and I totally forgot to post it here.  It's a cabled hat that matches the Monster Hand-warmers that I knit a month or so ago for Alex.  I knit a seed-stitch brim, and then switched my favorite cable-rib pattern.  I wasn't too sure how I was going to handle the decreases, but I decided to push forward and see what happened.  I had 10 cable-rib repeats, so I decided to decrease every other one and see what happened.  That worked out just fine, but I still had too many stitches so I decided to start decreasing the remaining cables, and at the end I had something like 10 sts total left over.  I cut the yarn and pulled it through the remaining sts, and ended up with a perfect little star at the crown of the hat!  My first ever cabled hat without a pattern. 

pretty five-pointed star on top!
I'm thinking about knitting another one, in a larger size (or smaller) and trying to work out a pattern for this as there's been some interest on Ravelry in a pattern.  I used Cashmerino Aran for the original, but I'm looking to knit the samples in a different yarn because frankly, the Cashmerino hasn't held up very well in the hand-warmers, which is disappointing considering how expensive that yarn is.  We'll see if I ever get this done, as I've still got two projects due this week for school and I'm two weeks away from my final projects.  And let's not forget about the shop samples that I still have on deck.  Oh!, and I'm using the left over yarn from the pumpkin hat to knit the cowl that Alex asked for. 

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Pumpkins, pumpkins, everywhere

It's the Great Pumpkin
Yesterday we took Alex to the Jack-o-lantern spectacular at the Roger Williams Zoo (which was expensive but definitely a good show).  This is just one of the 30-odd photos that Aaron took and we'll get them up on facebook later, but I thought it was a good segue to the hat that I knit for Alex.

It's the pumpkin hat from Itty-Bitty Hats.  This is one of the best baby books out there, and I seriously need to buy a copy for myself because I've knit three hats since I borrowed this one. 

the pumpkin hat from itty-bitty hats
 So the story of the hat goes like this.  I knit the bunny hat (as you know) and Alex woke up and liked it, and asked for me to knit one for him too.  Well, as he's 4...and a boy...and looks like he's 6, I decided to steer him toward a different hat.  He agreed to a pumpkin, and here it is.  I knit the hat with Berroco Comfort (worsted weight at 4 sts per inch instead of a DK at 5.5 sts per inch).  According to my trusty Ann Budd Handy Book of Patterns, his size + my gauge = 88sts, which is exactly how many stitches they say to cast on for the largest size of the hat.  With that lucky break, I was able to just follow the exact directions as written, with my only modification being how long to knit before starting the decreases (6 1/2 inches).  This hat went so fast that even Aaron noticed!

stem and leaf
 I've got plenty of the orange left over, and I had the brown left over from the monkey blanket, so I think I'll work up a quick cowl for Alex to use up the yarn.  Plus maybe if I knit one for him, I'll get mine back.

Next time, maybe I'll get photos up of the cabled hat.  It's pretty sweet if I don't say so myself...and I do.



Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bunny Tail and the Placket Neck Pullover


So recently my friend from church had her baby, and I realized the day after that I'd never gotten around to knitting anything for the baby.  That might not be such a big deal, except that I'd knit something for their first baby and I have a theory that the new baby should have something of their very own so that when they grow up, they won't think that I thought that they were less special than the first born.  I guess that means that if I knit for your first child...I'm knitting for all of your subsequent children, lol.  Anyway, I realized this fact on Friday and pulled out my Last Minute Knitted Gifts.  There's a hat in there that I've knit a few other times in cases just like this one, but this time I went for the Child's Placket-neck Pullover.  It was in the 4-6 hour section and uses DK weight yarn and size 7 needles (4.5mm) to knit up a super cute and super quick baby sweater.  I modified the placket-neck a little bit to add button holes, as the pattern used large seed-beads as buttons and they didn't require button holes.  Other than that, I knit it as written using Sublime Cashmere Merino Silk DK in a taupe color that looks gray in certain lighting.  I bought 3 balls but only needed 1.75 for the sweater so I decided to go for it and knit a hat too.

My friend Denise has a copy of Itty Bitty Hats, and I knit the Bunny Tail hat with the same yarn on the same size needles, in a newborn size.  I still have about 3/4 of a ball left over!  This hat is the cutest damn thing I've ever knit, at least recently.  Knitting the ears is probably my favorite part of the pattern, and unknown to me, the hat has a tail on it!  I've never seen a photo of the tail. Anyway, there's no photo yet because the recipient has been known to read this blog and I want them to receive the package before I post it for everyone on the inter-web to see.  Now, I've got a huge amount of homework this week so I'll be busy with that for a little bit.  As you were.

Edited to add:  The package has been delivered.  Here's the photos you didn't get to see...


Sunday, October 3, 2010

facebook

Recently it has come to my attention that an old friend is sick and losing a battle with cancer.  What does this have to do with Facebook, you ask?  Well, if I'd had a profile, I would have known about it 3 1/2 years ago when he started to deal with it, and I could have lent support back then instead of reaching out now and trying not to have it look like I feel bad for him and just want to say something before he dies.  And I've missed out on quite a lot of other important information because I didn't have a page.  No one I know really uses myspace anymore (including myself), but I have a profile there and since I don't use that one I figured it would be a waste of time.  One more social networking site for me to ignore.  But this last straw forced my hand and I added one.  I just want to be able to peak into the lives of good friends from high school... people who meant the world to me back then... so that I'll know they're okay and doing well.  I don't want to be blind-sided like this again.  I don't want to sit at home and grieve for the boy who took me to prom, and his young bride who I never had a chance to meet, and know nothing about their lives together except that it's going to come to a premature end and I can't do anything about it, or show any support for them other than a friend request via facebook.  Being 3000 miles away from my hometown makes it hard for me to stay in touch and I've lost friends before only to find out after the fact, one time by checking in on their myspace profile and finding that it had been turned into a memorial page.  So Now I've got a facebook and I've added a "badge" to my blog.  Feel free to send me a friend request so that I can be sure you're all alive and well, but don't be too upset if I don't show up there very often.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Milestones

inside the club house at the Deutsche Bank tournament
Well, we've had a few milestones in our home this week...like my first homemade fruit spreads, and Alex's first curse word.  Yep.  His word of choice?...the S-word of course.  (I believe that was my word of choice at 4-years old.)  We were just starting to watch Transformers (which he's gotten into because of the toys and Dad has been letting him watch the movies), when he decided to use the fateful word.  I snapped my head in his direction and shot him the coldest glare I could muster, said "what did you say?!", and got up to turn off the movie.  He was just devastated.  He cried for a full five minutes because I turned it off.  I told him that he's clearly not ready for Transformers and that if he was going to use that sort of language, he wouldn't watch the movie anymore.  I'm going to have a talk with my husband about the movies Alex can and can't watch.

My own personal milestone is much safer than Alex's was.  This week, I successfully canned a ginger-peach butter, and last night I did plum butter!  The whole process wasn't quite as difficult as I thought and I just love seeing those little jars in my pantry full of sweet, spreadable fruit that I picked off the trees myself.  Today or tomorrow, I'll start working on all of my apples.  I'm thinking apple butter, apple sauce, some apple cider (if I can find some mulling spices again).  I even have plans for an apple pie, after all, I have plenty of apples.  I need to go back to Walmart again for another flat of mason jars (pint jars this time) for my apple sauce.  Alex loves apple sauce so he'll be super excited about it.  And I think I'll use Kelly's recipe for the apple butter because hers turned out so good and I don't have to worry about adding any extra sugar to it.  With all the sugar in the other two recipes, it'll be nice to have one that's better for us.

Speaking of recipes, my MIL gave me one for a veggie chili that was fantastic!  It made a good amount, not too much but enough for a few days worth of left overs for my family.  It was a big hit with everyone except Alex, who decided after laying eyes on his bowl that it was "gross".  He went to bed without dinner and with no story just to avoid eating it.  But Dante and Aaron both really liked it.  Aaron gave me the standard "this is really good...now it just need some meat in it", which is how I know if he likes a vegetarian recipe.  Anyway, the recipe calls for a 'large pepper', which could really be anything (I used a green bell-pepper), a zucchini, a yellow summer squash, an onion, some garlic, some canned tomatoes, corn, and two different types of canned beans.  There's no mention of whether or not the beans should be drained (I didn't), if the corn should be drained (I did), of which types of beans to use (I had black and Great Northern in the house), but overall it was quick and tasty.  It went really well with the Jiffy corn muffins that I baked up while it was simmering, and like most chili it taste much better the next day.  This would be a great recipe for people like me who are vegetarian, living with a family who aren't.  I can make this ahead, put some aside, and put meat in the rest for guys, or I could just put in large chunks of chicken or steak tips which I could easily pick out of my own bowl.

School and knitting are picking up.  I'm already in week 4!  There's a big writing assignment due for my art & humanities class this week so I've got some serious reading to do.  I'll be doing this while trying to host a knit-a-long that I challenged my buddies to.  One of my friends is knitting a beautiful sweater, and I decided that I needed on too.  So we're all knitting a sweater of our choosing, and we'll be peer-pressuring supporting each other as we go.  I'm working on Oblique.  I've wanted to knit this for years and I'm working on full sized swatches right now in two different yarns to see which one I'd rather use.  I intended to use my pink Queensland Kathmandu Aran for this project (as so many other knitters have) but I've had to go down to a pretty small needle to hit gauge and I'm not sure how I feel about the fabric.  My back-up yarn is my gray-green Berroco Ultra Alpaca in peat mix.  It's a worsted weight yarn (even though the patten calls for an aran weight) but I'm hitting gauge on a 4.5mm needle (which is what the pattern was knit in) and the fabric has a nice drape.  Once I finish the Queensland swatch I'll know which of the yarns to press on with.  This process might seem crazy, but it's given me a chance to feel how these yarns work up, and to test out the charted lace directions that I had to work up because I can't follow written directions without missing a step.  I seem to have gotten it right.

Well, I'm off to fix lunch for a hungry little boy.  I'll update soon with my yarn choice and maybe even a photo or two :)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Done, done-done-done, done!

A boy and someone else's blanket
The Sleepy monkey blanket is done!  It turned out beautifully, and as you can see Alex loves it.  He's a bit sad that it's not for him but he agreed that I could give it away if I knit his one of his own.  Just one more thing to add to the list, lol.


I have a good amount of comfort worsted left over so I'll have to figure out what to do with it, but it's not quite enough to knit a sweater with or anything.

flirty
The blocking hid a multitude of sins, lol.  I did pretty well with the monkey panel, but the circles were pretty wonkey and definitely needed to have a good blocking.  The question came up as to how I was going to manage to block a double-think blanket made out of synthetic materials.  I could have done a full-immersion blocking but I really didn't want to wait around while a two layer thick blanket took it's sweet time to dry (plus there's the issue of chasing Alex away from it).  I usually turn to the iron for cases like this, but again...synthetic.  So I remembered my mom talking about a pressing cloth many years ago, so I pulled two clean dish towels out of the closet, soaked them and wrung them out, and used them to steam-block the blanket.  It worked like a dream, and my blanket is nice and smooth.

folded nicely and behaving
look what's on the other side!
The border even decided to lay flat.  I have to say, the knit border really makes this piece.  It's not nearly big enough without the border, but the border is part of what drew me to the piece in the first place.  I didn't realize that I'd be knitting it twice, lol, but it was worth it.

 The finished project isn't perfectly square, but it does fold up nicely and most of the edges line up.  I don't think the new-mom is going to be too particular about that.  I think she's gonna be blown away!  It's just so hard not to keep it for myself :)

Full-frontal monkeys





Back shot.



The happiest boy in the world!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

This is the song (or project) that never ends...

The Boy & his cat
It just goes on and on my friends.  Seriously.  On and on, and on.  Every time I think I'm an evening from finishing the blanket, I have to knit another increase round, or I have to knit another border entirely.  I'm so close to joining these two, but even then I won't be close to done.  It's what a smart woman who's blog I used to read calls "sleeve-island", only this is border-island.  This being said, I'd knit this blanket again in a heartbeat!  Maybe in wool this time.  But not until I actually finish my husband's crocheted afghan, the shop sample, my socks, and let's not forget my friend's bride's shawl for the wedding that took place this past June.  And then there's the new hat for Alex because he's grown.  And the hat & glove combo for The Boy per his request.  It just goes on, and on, and on (my que, that is).  This is the que that never ends...

Dante started school today and came home with the obligatory 5 pages of documents that needed my signature.  It took me a good hour to read through them all, fill them all out, and get them all signed and back on the table for him to collect (or maybe forget) in the morning.  His teacher's aren't messing around this year.  Eighth grade is a big step up from what they've been doing, in an effort to be sure the kids are ready for high-school.  My own classes are getting increasingly more difficult so I'm not sure just how much help I can be in terms of organization this year but I'll see what I can do.  Tomorrow I'm pulling him out of school early to take him in for an 'emergency' appointment with the psychiatrist because the meds he prescribed aren't being covered by our insurance company, so now we have to start again at square one and try to get him on something before we get too far along in the school year.  This appointment is at the same time as Alex's last appointment with his behavioral therapist so I'll have to miss that and take Dante to his, leaving Aaron to handle that one. 

And now that the bathroom is free, I'm finally off to bed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day weekend

Today, I'll be spending my Labor Day by trying to finish my assigned readings for Unit 2, working on my discussion questions and my project for Arts & Humanities, working on the Monkey Blanket's border, knitting on the Willow sock when I'm not able to work on the other, and eventually going out to pick Dante up from his friend's house.  Yesterday he and two boys from his Young Men's group came over to play for a while and then they all decided to keep the party going by going over to one of the boy's to spend the night.  I wasn't too sure if that would be a good idea, with him starting school in two days and needing to get up early in the morning over the next few days so that he can start to readjust...but then I though about the peace and quiet of his being somewhere else for the night and I just couldn't turn it down, lol.  I know these boys pretty well as I had them all in primary so I know what can happen when they all get together.  I sure hope they weren't too much trouble for that poor Sister.  They probably ate her out of house and home, because they almost did that to me when they were here for lunch.  Who knew how much teenage/pre-teen boys can eat?!  I went through 5 cans of tuna, and about half a loaf of bread just for lunch!  Not to mention the chips and the drinks.  But I happened to be stocked with bread and drinks just in case we got his by Earl (who decided to go elsewhere) so I had plenty.  I guess I got hit by hurricane "Fortes, Gomes, & Washington" instead :) 

This whole think was foreign to me because in my neighborhood, I'm the 'mean mom'.  Kids rarely come to the door to ask if Dante can come out.  We only have one who's brave enough to ask to come over and play.  No one has ever asked to stay overnight.  If I catch Dante doing something foolish, I'll address it (usually inside but occasionally right on the spot), and if the other kids are a part of it, I'll be sure to include them in the scolding.  Last week I had to seriously adjust Dante's attitude and because he's 13 now, he got a little cocky and wanted to know why I wanted him to come inside...so I told him exactly why he needed to come inside...right in front of his little friends.  Then I told them all that they should be ashamed of themselves for their behavior.  So, given all of this, it was a little strange for me to see that so many of the young men wanted to come over to my house.  I only had room in the car for two, and had to promise the third that he could come over next Sunday.  My husband says that it's because the kids at church are totally different than the people who live in this neighborhood (which is true), and because these kids all really know me.  They know I can be strict, but I love them all and I'm really a nice person under the intimidating surface.  It was really nice to see that they were so fond of me.

The whole time I was serving in Primary, I never realized how the kids felt about me or my presidency.  So yesterday was my first day taking Alex down and leaving him there on his own.  Before I could leave, the new president took me aside for a minute and said that the kids were really sad about the sudden change and she wanted to if I would like to do a guest-sharing time in the near future.  I was so excited about the idea and I jumped at it!  I was so tired of sharing time by the time that Heather came back from Utah that I thought I'd be pleased if I never had to do it again...and then I got that wish and was beside myself.  The idea of coming down and teaching sharing time for an afternoon made me so happy that I almost cried.  And then I went up the stairs to class and had to hold myself together because I missed those kids.  And then I got into class and relaxed because I was learning things at an adult level, and I really did miss it, but I think I love those kids more.  I got all of my manuals and I tried to get caught up on the current lessons, and before I knew it it was time to go down and pick up Alex.  And when I came downstairs to get him, several of the kids came up to me and told me all about what they'd done in sharing time, lol.  One boy told me that he'd earned two stickers because he gave both prayers.  Another told me what he'd done in the lesson.  And a third was dressed up in a dress-shirt that used to be Dante's.  He looked so nice in his dress clothes, and I made sure to tell him so, and he looked really proud of himself.  They were all really excited to see me, and I never realized that they'd all loved me like I love them.  It was just like when I come home after work and the boys are telling me what the did that day, even before I have both feet in the door.  So now, I just have to wonder how I can help these kids now that I'm no longer in the Primary.  Other than supporting the new primary leaders by volunteering my time if they need help, I'm not sure what more I can do, but I'm sure that the Bishop will think of something.

And on that note, I'm off to spend the rest of this holiday weekend doing homework.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Monkey's & Good Waiting

monkey side, pre-steek
This blanket is turning out to be a real pleasure to knit.  First you knit the monkey side, then you knit the back piece, then each piece are steeked and the border is picked up and the pieces are knit together.  It's an example of fabulous pattern writing, where everything that the pattern asks you to do is strategic.  Do exactly what it tells you to do and it works out fabulously.  It's also an example of "Good Waiting", which is a concept that I've been working on with Alex.  He's not the most patient child I've ever known, and before you say to me that most 4-year old's aren't, just know that the average 4-year old is infinitely patient compared to Alex, lol.  So the last few days, when he's done a good job of waiting a few minutes for something, I've made a big deal about what a great job he did is showing me 'Good Waiting'.  Now that he knows what it means (after doing it by accident a few times), I've been asking him to do it when he wants something.  Like yesterday when he wanted a juice pouch and we were still just coming in the door from the market.  I had him go sit on the couch and show me good waiting, and I praised him when I could see he was starting to get a little antsy.  He made it a whole 5 minutes without freaking out or making a nuisance of himself, while Dante went back out to the car to get the rest of the grocery bags (which is where the juice was, it turned out).  This is even more impressive when you stop to consider that the night before, Aaron was working the tournament and I had to drop Dante at Young Men's at about the time that Alex should have been getting in bed.  Then I had to hit Sam's to make sure we were prepared for Earl, and by the time I got home, Alex didn't get into bed until about 9pm.  Anyone who's been following this blog for any length of time will remember that missing bed-time at our house is punishable by one solid week of whining, tantrums, and defiance.  So far, so good.
inside of monkey piece, pre-steek
So I may have mentioned that my MIL took her sewing machine to these pieces for me so that I could steek them.  I cut them open the other day and remembered to take some photos pre & post steeking.  One of the things I love about steeking is that something that once was shapeless and weird suddenly looks like what it's meant to be after the cutting.  And it's not as scary as you might think to cut into your knitting, especially if you've run it through a sewing machine before hand.  I also love that when you pick up along the edge, the steek folds over nicely on hit own and lays flat.  Lesson learned: after you cut the steek and pick up the stitches, go back and cut the excess steek and sew it down.  In this case I don't have to do that because I used the sewing machine to reinforce it, but ordinarily you'd want to do that.  Alice Starmore's book on Fairisle knitting has a great illustration on how to do this without it showing up on the front side.
back piece, pre-steeking
I've been interrupted (what else is new...) in the process of finishing this, but I did have time to pick up the stitches for the border of the monkey piece and knit the 8 rounds prior to joining it to the circle piece.  Now I'm mid pick-up, and I'll have to knit a round or two before I use a technique similar to a 3-needle bind-off to join the two together and finish it off.  So, what's the hold-up, you ask?  Well, school for starters.  I have a project due next week for Arts & Humanities class.  Second, the first real sock for the Super Sock Scarefest hit on September 1st and I've started that too.  I'd like to try to keep up with them this year.
inside of the back, pre-steeking

The first pattern of the Scarefest is Willow, and it comes from Guernseygal, the ever-talented.  As the name suggests, the pattern is inspired by the best friend a slayer ever had...Willow Rosenberg.  I happened to pick up a barely-used  red-orange ball of Zauberball fingering-weight sock yarn for half price, and then this pattern came out and I thought 'this is perfect! it matches Willow's hair'.  So after casting off my long-suffering pair of Beetlejuice socks, I cast on last night.  These are knit toe-up so they won't go as fast as the top-down seem to do for me, but I'll get a custom fit.  I've already modified the pattern a little bit, by casting on 16sts instead of the 8 the pattern called for, because the wider toe is more comfortable on my foot.

monkeys, post-steeking
So, now that I have a case of bottled water in my trunk, a box of individual serve highly-pasteurized non-refrigerated milk, canned veggies and soup, bread, pb&j, snacks, tuna, beans, hummus, my freezer at it's lowest level possible, and I know the exact location of my candles...it's time for me to show Good Waiting and to stay inside and keep the boys busy until the winds and rain from Earl show up.  If nothing else, I've got the rest of this blanket, a pair of socks, the Lace Edge Swirl Shawl, and a major assignment to keep me busy till then :)

circles, post-steeking