Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Traveled and Unraveled

This weekend, we traveled to Des Moines to visit DH’s family. Since Saucey is now a ‘special needs’ kitty (insulin twice daily) that means that the kitties have to travel with us since we don’t have anyone close enough (or willing enough) to take on administering her medicine. This is not really a problem since the cats travel well by car and our trips are usually short. The only challenge we faced this time around is that SIL and her husband now have 4 dogs since their newly adopted ‘second dog’ had pups last fall. We usually stay with them when we visit Des Moines and so we weren’t sure how they would react to the dogs. Here’s a little glimpse of how the trip went… Are we there yet?
What is that down there? Puppies! Puppies everywhere… ('mom' Dabney and pup Monte.... pup Hugo)
I didn’t get very many good pictures because the cats hid most of the time (looking out occasionally from a strategic vantage point) and because generally the dogs were in constant motion. Winston (the oldest dog) didn't make it into any at all.
(Monte and Hugo 'wrestling')
We had a nice visit and made it home safely, the kitties are happy to be back on their own turf and I’m still trying to get back into the groove.
Knitting wise, things have been slightly less than promising. I did make some progress on the MIL sweater (back is finished, one front is half done).
DD’s sweater, not so good. I got about halfway through the sleeve and realized the stitch count was out of whack. Since we didn’t have access to the internet, I had to wait until we got home to look up the pattern errata on line to be sure there wasn’t some tragic mistake. Okay there was… my inability to decipher the pattern instructions… so I had to frog it back to the cuff… sigh… but never fear, it’s quick knitting when you actually do it right!
The horseshoe cable sock made it through the heel turn and gusset with out incident, but so far I’ve knit the same 8 rows on the foot twice
And if that wasn’t enough unraveling there was also a slight yarn-winding incident that left me with a highly tangled skein of yarn that took 3 tries to get undone and rewound. All is good now.
May your 2009 be filled with many happy hours of knitting and many finished projects!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Greatest Gift of All

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. Titus 2:11
May His birth bring you life...
Peace and Blessings

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Clarification of Sorts

Thanks for the comments on the Mother-in-Law sweater. To answer your questions... I'll probably hang in there with the yarn. It's what she wanted. I don't think she crafts. My stepdaughter saw it in progess and had more or less the same reaction, but said if that was the same yarn her MIL gave me, then it would be okay. The weather in MI during our recent visit canceled the event where I was supposed to meet the recipient, so I'm taking SD's word for it. The pattern itself, though, is really quite nice and I have a much nicer yarn in mind for my very own version, so I'm considering the first go around as practice and a way to discover any areas of the pattern I might need to adjust.

How To Take A Self Portrait With Cats

A brief photo tutorial ...
Step 1: collect cats Step 2: set camera timer and get into position
Step 3: unhook claws from leg Step 4: check picture on camera Step 5: gather up cats and reset camera timer Step 6: try to get all three into frame this time Step 7: pet cats to smooth ruffled fur and repeat step 2 Step 8: repeat steps 5 and 6 Step 9: repeat steps 1-8 trying not to utter profanities so loudly as to cause neighbors to dial 911 Step 10: give up; wait for someone else to get home to take picture, don't expect cats to pose... Merry Christmas from our house to yours!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Two Wrongs Really Don’t Make One Right

Just a quick update before I dash off to work. Our weekend was busy but productive. First there was the drive from snowy Illinois to equally snowy Michigan and back with more snow in the forecast.  We had a nice visit with the SDs, grandtwins and grandaughter and still made it safely home before the next round of flakes. Yesterday we braved the bitter cold temperatures and the mall for last minute shopping (and survived).  

As planned, during our trip to MI, I cast on for my next big project, a sweater for the mother-in-law of my step-daughter.   I think it’s safe to say that this project could earn me major points with the knitting gods if there is such a thing. I sure hope so anyway, because at this point it is an undertaking of both fascination and horror. 

You see some time ago, I sort of agreed to knit a sweater as a favor to my stepdaughter.  I say sort of, because it was really more like my DH who told his daughter that I could probably do it and the project got presented to me.  Now I don’t want you to think of this as whining.  I like doing nice things for people that I love and besides that I’m looking at the whole thing as a knitterly challenge.  It’s also a chance to try a pattern I wanted to knit for myself anyway. 

The problem is the yarn.  Now I’m not really a true yarn snob.  I believe every yarn out there has a place in the knitting spectrum.  Some yarns are better for some types of projects and are easier on the budget when you know the project recipient might not appreciate or care for a garment or gift made out of expensive yarn.  Acrylic yarns also have their place for people who have true wool allergies and for children. I do have my preferences, but the fiber content isn’t what is giving me trouble. It's the color of this yarn, which can only be described as "helloo 1985... please take your colors back..."

Yes an ombre yarn in vintage colors which didn't work then and still don't work now.  It is both a fascination to see what is happening with the patterning of the yarn when combined with the lace stitches of the pattern; and kind of a horror to behold.  The pattern doesn’t complement the yarn in any way and, well, I’m not sure that if I had chosen this yarn myself that I could find a pattern that would.  IMHO even the stockinette stitch portions blend the colors in undesirable ways.

Here’s a quick rundown:  I’m knitting this sweater, with this yarn (Red Heart Supersaver in Wedgewood)  (More pink and blue than picture shows).

 and this is what I’m getting so far…

Do ya’ think? Even the camera didn’t want to get involved with this.  It took three tries to get a halfway decent picture that didn’t vibrate.

I devoted most of the weekend to working on this and I'm almost finished with the back.  We have another round of travel coming up and I plan to work on it some more then. It’s resting comfortably in its own project bag for now.

Meanwhile, other knitting continues to happen.  (Fear not dear daughter), sweater sleeves are progressing nicely, if a little less than photo worthy.  But will be my focus until the next round of car knitting.

My horseshoe cable socks are on track, and various small projects are still being finished at a relaxed pace. 

So it's back to our normal routine for a few days and then Christmas followed by more travel.  

Stay safe and warm and keep on knitting!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Knitting

In case you’re wondering, the reason I was at work on Saturday is because we had the charming and talented Franklin come to our shop for a book signing. The event went well and we had a fun time hosting Franklin. I'm the dorky one in the picture here:My camera died so I only took a couple of pictures, but Linda took some, and hopefully they will be up on the shop’s website soon. It seems wrong to actually call being there work. I’m still surprised when I get paid for hanging out at a yarn shop. Especially on a day when something fun happens such as having an honest-to-goodness knitting celebrity there. Knitting wise - I am actually very pleased with myself.
I finished up a little tuck-in gift to add to the package for my grandson. I think it’s safe to show these off because he doesn’t read my blog (yet); maybe in a couple of years, but not yet.
These are just quick little slippers from a basic pattern I’ve been knitting since my kids were his age (or maybe even younger). The yarn is an unknown acrylic that I had hanging around, but the colors are nice and bright which I’m pretty sure will suit his tastes.
I’ve also squeezed in knitting time for a couple of charity hats and wash cloths for my sister in law. I don’t have pictures, sorry.
I’ve also made good progress on the hoodie I’m knitting for my DD#1. The body is done and blocking.
Up next is the sleeves and then the hood; I can’t remember if she wanted a pocket, so I’ll have to check with her, but that’s the last thing and very quick.
I got this far on the next pair of socks:
The pattern is the Horseshoe Cable socks by Judith Durant from 101 Designer One-Skein Wonders, Yarn is Lang Jawoll. I’m only going to knit the first sock right now. This pattern is the one we will be doing in my next “Advanced” sock class. I'll knit the second one during class so I can have it on the needles for demonstrations. I’m not crazy about the stitch definition with this yarn, but this is the second pair of socks I’ve used this yarn for and I discovered with the first pair that it does bloom a little after washing so I’m not going to let myself get too hung up on that right now. The next thing I’ll be casting on for is a sweater for my Step-daughter’s Mother-in-Law. I’ll tell you all about that as soon as it’s picture worthy. Since I’ve really done very little Christmas knitting this year, I’ve been able to keep my knitting projects going at a nice pace and haven’t felt stressed or harried about any of them which is a great feeling. I have a good mixture of quick projects and big projects to alternate when I need to and have some take along knitting when I know I might have a little time to fill. I am having fun with it and not feeling like it’s a chore. I’m pretty sure that’s what knitting should be all the time... happy knitting. PS Zelda wants “lol” vote for her at:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

A Day With Zelda

It’s me Zelda. I get to write on the blog today, because Mommy is busy at work and Daddy is out shopping. If I hurry, they won’t know I was here. I wanted to tell you a little bit about how I spend my days here at our house. I lead a very busy and important life. After I wake up in the morning, I have many duties that keep me busy…. I’m a member of the neighborhood watch. I keep an eye out for any suspicious activity by, um, birds, squirrels, papers, dogs, you know, anything I should let people know is out there. I have a great vantage point from this nice window.
I supervise Mommy when she knits. Saucey thinks this is her job, but I cover for her when she’s sleeping (a lot).
Sometimes I even model for her.
I help Daddy when he watches TV; he lets me sit wherever I like.
I even keep Saucey company at times… although she doesn’t like me getting too close. All in all, I’m an important member of this family. Don’t let Saucey tell you otherwise. Now I think I’ll go back to my favorite spot and have a nap. After all, that’s what Mommy and Daddy think I really do all day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

We're getting another snowfall to add to our recent collection. It's a good thing that I didn't have any plans to leave the house today. So I'm going to make the most of the opportunity, because I have another set of empty needles to fill up! May I present my latest pair of finished socks… the Blueberry Swirl Socks

Pattern: Harris Tweed by Ali Green Yarn: Gypsy Girl Creations Fingering Weight in African Violet Size 2.5 mm Knit Picks harmony dpn Started November 28; Finished December 8, 2008

I showed these in the blog once before when I was indecisive about whether or not to keep going on the first sock with the ugly fat lightening bolt flashing that was happening, or to frog it. Ultimately I did frog the sock and start over. The second attempt at the patterning produced a more pleasing swirl and even though they are not identical, the look is one that I am happier with. The pattern might be a little on the wild side, but the color which is a very saturated true purple is so pretty, that it doesn’t matter. I hate that, try as I might, I can’t get purple to photograph well. You might have noticed that photography in general is not my strong suit, so any suggestions big or small, would be appreciated. I tried to capture them in what little light was available as the snow started falling this morning, and here’s the result:

Still not exactly the right shade, but closer than the indoor shots.

But that's beside the point....

I just baked a fresh batch of cookies and poured myself a hot cup of coffee… So now that I’ve wasted a good part of the day on the computer, I’m ready to spend the rest of this snowy day knitting.

I’ve still got about half of DD#1’s sweater to knit and a hat or two for the PADs project. Oh, and I’ve picked out the pattern for my next pair of socks, but you’ll have to wait until I cast on to actually see what I picked out! Stay safe and warm!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

A Bit of Randomness

So a really random thing happened the other day; I got this card in the mail:
(Message Inside)

Now you would think this might have come from one of my knitting pals or someone who knows my love of knitting....

This really cracks me up.

It came from a local merchant.... it was advertising! But the card is so perfectly suited for me....

Oh, and isn't "Toodles" just the cutest?

Is it random or is it something I should really be a little scared by?

Only the shadow knows for sure....

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Finally, Something to Post About!

It seems like I’ve been stuck in neutral lately. I’ve been making such slow progress or no progress on my knitting projects. But last week I was able to knock out a couple quick projects and get back going on DD#1’s sweater. It feels good. Here are a couple things I finished.
A pair of fingerless mitts for a friend at church: My pattern (I’ll have it written up soon) in Claudia Handpaint, Twilight Some ornaments for the Christmas tree at work: Mini Hat (my pattern)Mini Mittens byAlice Rice from Knitting Digest (July 1999) A Reverse Bloom Flower Washcloth (from Weekend Knitting) I started on my December SAM socks. I picked the Harris Tweed pattern because I had seen it being knit by someone else and really liked the look of the pattern stitch for socks. It turned out to be a really good choice because it is an easy to memorize and quick to knit pattern. The yarn however is questionable. I knit the first sock and the flashing of the colors started to make me queasy. I got to the start of the heel and stopped. I put it away while I knit the ornaments and thought about what to do. I cast on the second sock. I used a different starting point and liked the effect much better. The heel on that sock is coming along nicely. If you're not familiar with what can happen when you use self striping or self patterning yarns and how starting at a different point can effect the outcome, I’ve included this short pictorial review of what happened.
I cast on sock one with the colors set up like this: I cast on sock two with the colors set up like this:
Here's what happened....the sock on the left is #1 and the sock on the right is #2…
I’m still deciding whether or not to frog sock #1. I put a question up on the SAM discussion board on ravelry and three knitters weighed in that they would probably frog… hmmm. I have knitting group tonight and might ask for an opinion there also, or I might wait and see how fast I knit the foot on sock #2 and decide what is the most practical thing to do. After all, it will mostly be hidden inside my pant leg anyway.
The progress on my daughter’s sweater, while feeling good and being worth noting does not make that exciting of a picture, so I will spare you that … (it’s on flickr if you are really that curious).
Oh and just for grins, if you want to make a mini-hat ornament, here’s the pattern: Mini- Hat Ornament Using worsted or sport weight and appropriate double point needles Cast on 36 stitches; join for working in round Work k1, p1 ribbing for 5 rounds Work stockinette stitch for 10 rounds (add stripes if desired) Begin crown decreases: Rd 1: *k4, k2tog; repeat from * to end (30 st) Rd 2: knit Rd 3: *K3, k2tog; repeat from * to end (24 st) Rd 4: knit Rd 5: *K2, k2tog; repeat from * to end (18 st) Rd 6: *K1, k2tog; repeat from * to end (12 st) Rd 7: *k2tog; repeat from * to end (6 st) Cut thread and draw through stitches, weave in ends. Embellish with pompom or tassel if desired

Friday, November 28, 2008


We had an out of town Thanksgiving dinner and got back late-ish last night.  Very low key but nice.  Just my parents and me and DH.  Everyone else was very busy with their own families and/or extended families.  We did get to talk with my girls (on the phone) after dinner and my dad and I won the spades tournament.  It was a very nice day indeed.  We are thankful for family far and near and for the bounties this year has brought.  I certainly didn't think a year ago that I would have done so much this past year.  I hope you all have much to be thankful for as well.  
 Oh, and Saucey is thankful for good news from the vet.  Her BS reading is down to 102 from previous 440 and weight is up 1 pound from when she was diagnosed.  We are going to work on her diet and keep her on the insulin for now, but the new goal is to get her off the insulin by getting her diet right. 
 Blessings to all. 

Monday, November 24, 2008

Too Pretty Not to Wear

I grafted the toes and wanted to wear these right away! Good thing it was early this morning. See; my toes are toasty on this snowy day. Bavarian (Pattern by Candace Eisner Strick from Vogue: The Ultimate Sock Book) Yarn: Claudia Handpaint Fingering in Thistle Needles: US 1.5 / Magic Looped
I still love this pattern. And I’m still trying to figure out if there is an error; but the good news is I found Candace’s email (from my class instructions from Stitches) and I plan on sending her out a message to figure it out. This pair really didn’t need to take so long to knit, but I paced myself on the first one for the class and I let other things (Goldilocks Socks) come between me and finishing the second one. I really need to go back to smaller numbers of projects on the needles at a time. Like only one big one and one sock project. I really have felt overwhelmed when I have too many things going at once and it really isn’t that practical for me. So, I’m going to try to scale back my knitting ambition and only peek at new patterns and yarns when the try to tempt me and seduce me into casting on right away. Like this and this and especially this (which has been breeding in my stash). I think there might even be a pattern/yarn match plan in there. But before any of that… I have a few little gifts and a sweater to knit. Back to it…. Happy Knitting

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Just Right

May I present: “Goldilocks on a Fall Walk”

I'm really happy with how these turned out.  After all the fiddling with the size, it was well worth it.  You can sort of see what happened with the colors on the heels.  one side came out with the orange and carmel stripes and the other side is the blue and grey. 

And the colors oppose each other so it looks like I even planned for that to happen.  When I put them on the orange/carmel was on the inside and the grey/blue was on the outside.  The toes came out pretty close to the same too.  


Pattern: Jaywalker by Grumperina

Size 2 needles / magic looped

Yarn: Thank Ewe Hand Dyed in Geology gifted by Becca of Forward Motion

And the best part of all....  the fit is “just right"

Monday, November 10, 2008

Not Quite a Pair

I finished two socks last week, but they are not quite a pair… I got one each of the Bavarian and Jaywalker socks finished and the second sock of each pair started.
I also knit a pair of mittens for a shop display … here is a picture of one of them. I finished the second one at work on Thursday and immediately set up the display at the shop, I did take a picture with my cell phone, I put that picture on ravelry, but it is not good enough to show here.
Trust me. And believe that there really are two mittens knit. Or come by the shop and see for yourself!
And most miraculously, I have started the hoodie for DD#1, and I’m happy to say that I’m off to a pretty good start!
I have a new beginning sock knitting class starting tonight, but I’ll be using the previous class samples for this one since I have my quota of projects OTN right now.
Saucey goes to the vet tomorrow for her first follow-up since starting the insulin so say a prayer or think good thoughts for her.
And here’s a sure sign around our house that winter isn’t too far off….
Happy Knitting!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I take that back

Hangs head in shame... I still contend there might be an error in the Bavarian sock pattern.... just not the one that I thought it was.... after studying the picture it appears the knot-like branchy cable is correct and not the smoothly crossed one... not that it matters anyway, I'm knitting it as written ... with mismatched cables. On the bright side, I have two more options to reinterpret the pattern in different yarn! PS.... If you haven't already, get out and vote!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Still Struggling (warning: Longish Post)

So, the knitting pace has improved slightly, but I’m still struggling with finishing things. Just for the record though, the last week or so, I finished the Bye Bye Baby Bunting: [Pattern "Bye Bye Baby Bunting" by Dorcas Sokalow, available only at Prarie Arts and Fibers, Yarn Claudia Handpaint in Turquoise Jeans and Copper Pennies; Size 1 needles.] This was a “test” pattern I was working on for another knitter at the shop. It took me far too long to knit and seemed to be the source of some of my knitting frustrations. I just couldn’t stay motivated to work on it. I really liked the yarn choice for it, but due to my dislike of working things flat, combined with a very simple pattern repeat, I just couldn’t “love” working on it. Don’t get me wrong… It’s a cute pattern and would be a nice gift for someone expecting in colder climes or the winter months.
And I finished my Unbiased. I really like how it came out. This was sort of a whim to knit and the only problem I found was I just had too many other things going to work on it.
Pattern: Unbiased by Frabjous Fibers
Yarn: Frabjous Fibers Recycled Sari Silk
Size 9 Needles
It really shouldn’t have taken as long as it did.
Of the two pair of socks I’ve been working on, well, progress has been entirely too slow for my happiness. I am almost done with the first sock of the Bavarian that I’ve been doing for my advanced class. I really like this pattern, love the yarn choice and again, find it’s the distractions, and other knitting projects that are really keeping me from making progress. One thing about these though, there was a part of the pattern that just didn’t seem to be looking right to me. I just wasn’t sure and had to rip a couple times to make sure I wasn’t doing something wrong. I was knitting it exactly the way the pattern/chart was written, and still, something about it just didn’t seem to look right. I checked the errata for the pattern, no errors listed. Okay, I kept knitting. But that little voice just wouldn’t be quiet. So, I paid closer attention for a couple repeats and “click” the light went on. The chart is wrong. I tested my theory… yup! After 9 repeats of the pattern, I figured out why it looked wrong … the twist on the left should mirror the twist on the right… instead it is identical, which means the crossing comes out looking like a tangled branch instead of a smooth crossing the way it is on the right. Since I was in the 10th repeat and that error was done on the front and the back of the leg (15 times if you are counting) and nearing the toe shaping, I decided this is one time to “love the result” anyway. So I’ll knit the second sock with the same pattern error. But I made a note on the pattern for future reference, because I’ve decided I’d like a pair in another color as well.
The other pair of socks I’ve been doing has been pattern and size resistant. I swatched a couple different patterns before actually casting on, because I couldn’t find a pattern I really liked with the yarn. After settling on Undulating Rib, I worked about 2 inches of the pattern but didn't like the way it looked, ultimately, I ended up going with the Jaywalker pattern. So far I am happy with the result, but I’ve had to do some adjustments for the sizing. I’ve decided to name this project “Goldilocks on a Fall Walk” The first time I cast on they were too big, the second time (I knit almost the whole leg!) they were too small, third time they are just right (so far). The striping is beautiful though…. Fortunately, Jaywalker is an easy pattern to memorize and knits up quick once you figure out the sizing. These should hopefully behave now.
In addition to these projects, the swallowtail shawl is waiting patiently for me to find some knitting time for it and I started on a little class sample for a class I’m hoping to do in December, the Heart Sachet by Vicki Sever.
It only needs four more squares. This is actually a really quick project if you can clear your knitting decks and work on it exclusively.
Besides knitting, we did a little traveling over the weekend and got to spend Halloween with the Michigan kids. We went trick-or-treating and had a nice visit. Here are a few of the pics we took: I tried, but really couldn't get all four costumed kids together in one shot. The twins were dressed as Count Dracula (Aidan) and a Knight (Braylen) the baby was Marie (from the Aristocats) and Jason was a Transformer. We had fun and it was much more satisfying than the trick-or-treating we had here at home last Sunday when only three kids rang our bell.
And finally, I think the biggest distraction of all the last couple of weeks is that our sweet kitty girl Saucey was just diagnosed with feline diabetes. She is not the first cat we’ve had with this problem, so I’ve been a little down. She’s still a youngish kitty, so it is just really hard to accept that she may not live as long life as we’d hoped. She and I have been through a lot together so we have a very strong bond. I just don’t want to think too hard on it right now. We started her on insulin injections yesterday after we returned from our trip. It’s too early to say if she is responding or not yet. I’ll have to take her to the vet for follow up later in the month.