Monday, June 30, 2008

WIPS, Wanna-Do’s and Everything Else

I don’t know what your summer knitting looks like, but mine looks something like this:
(This is what I found collected around my knitting chair.)

From the left, Planned: a basic crew neck t-shirt (Edin Madil, bamboo), July socks (Noro Kuryeon Sock), Unbiased (Frabjous Fibers, Recycled Sari Silk Yarn), OTN: Secret Swap Sock, (top) Branching Out (#2; Silky Wool) – finished yesterday! (Still needs a good blocking), (bottom) Summertime Shell (SWTC Beyond Bold)*, (right) Mis-Matched Socks (Shelridge Farms Merino DK), and Baby gifts (Stork Cotton) …
…And just needing stuffing and embellishment:

Catnip Mice (Kit by Bully Woolies for Store Sample) – the kit is supposed to make fiver but there was enough leftover yarn to make a 6th (striped) mouse!
…Complete with complimentary (pre-felting) product test

(tester seems satisfied)

Since I do occasionally do other things than knit, I’m pretty sure this is most likely everthing I’ll be working on this summer, but since there’s three to five more planned projects lurking in my stash, if I finish something listed here, who knows what will be OTN next!

* A project made possible through the wondrous powers of Ravelry! The "Beyond Bold" cotton is a discontinued product, but thanks to Ravelry, with a little searching and I was able to track down antoher knitter with some of this yarn in purple. The owner graciously was more than willing to swap for some of the yarn in my stash. So, now, I’ll have enough to do it in solid purple!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

I’m a Sock Knitter

I've been totally at a loss of words and inspiration since making the Harlot's blog (chicago redux in case you missed it). Well, I have been knitting... and I just finished the Aquaphobia socks. Pattern: Aquaphobia by Knitfreak
Yarn: Regia (Kaffe Fasset) Mirage: color Fog
Size 1 DPN

Really, there’s not a whole lot more to say about these socks other than that. I'm still sort of at a loss for words, so I thought I’d share with you something I wrote up for the Sock Boot Camp that we did at the Shop a couple of weeks ago. This was something that we did just for fun and passed out to the sock knitters who attended.

The Sock Knitters Creed
I am a sock knitter; a practitioner of one of the oldest crafts known to man. I am proud of the hand knit socks I create. I will do my part to carry this time honored tradition into the future. I will ably create cuffs, heels, gussets and toes. I will deftly select the right yarn for each pair. I will knit warm socks for those I love, and when called upon, for those in need as well. I will share my love of sock knitting with other knitters and seek to learn ‘new pathways’ as my skills increase. I will proudly wield my double-point or circular needles for all to see by carrying my sock knitting along for filling idle moments. I will not shy away from the questions asked by curious non-knitters. I will salute my fellow sock knitters when I see them. I will knit socks, for I am a sock knitter

(Feel free to copy or share this with a sock knitter you know, but please, please, pretty please attribute it back to this blog!! Thanks)
Other than that, I cast on for the Summer Shell with some stash yarn, but I’m not ready to show off pictures of that yet. There could be yardage issues. I’ll probably work on the heels of the mismatch socks before I start on my next sock project, but we’ll see where the knitting whims go next

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Harlot Has Landed and Other Stuff

(our group: me, Melissa with Trella, Stephanie with Helen, Christine (in back), Michelle and Kelly)

Yes! It is true that on Friday June 20th, the Yarn Harlot descended on Chicago and made it to the second edition of her Oak Lawn book signing. (Thanks Nana's!) Did we have fun? You betcha! The day started out a little cloudy (and I can’t repeat the things that might have been yelled at those clouds…) but not so bad-weatherish so as to prevent a plane from approaching or landing in O’Hare. I rode down to Oak Lawn with Christine and the delightful Helen since the other members of our group took a jaunt out to the Fold in Marengo to stock up on … what else… more yarn. The met us down in Oak Lawn. We hadn’t actually determined a meeting time or place, but it seemed logical to stop by at Nana’s Knit shop before we did anything else and lo and behold, there was the other half of our group already talking to the Harlot herself and (drum roll please) Franklin! We got a bonus pre-event visit and photo op right then and there. (Pardon the “squees” from my inner fan-girl). I also presented my “gifts” of the Violet washcloth and emergency chocolate to Stephanie and she seemed to like both. Yes that’s the same washcloth pattern that I was previously designing – I wanted to do something representative of IL and chose our state flower the Violet. I didn’t get a chance to visit with Franklin there because they were whisked off a few minutes later. So after a little browsing in the shop, we left and went to a nearby restaurant and had a leisurely dinner, and then headed over to the hotel to claim our seats… there was a short wait in line as we arrived about five minutes before the doors open - I used that opportunity to go to the restroom (having consumed 2 iced teas and half a glass of water at dinner). The line had progressed to the point where right as I walked out of the restroom, I was able to join our group and enter the ball room. Do we have the timing thing going on tonight or what? Stephanie’s talk was funny and insightful and we really had a thoroughly fun time. I managed to work the mis-matched socks to the point of starting the heels while she spoke. After her talk we had to wait in line (some more) for the book signing part, but due to having brought enough knitting for a four day trip that was no problem. I whipped out the Aquaphobia sock which was still on probation after misbehaving during meet-up Thursday night. I worked on it some and did my best to get back on track with the heel – I managed right up until the point we got to where Franklin was hanging out and then I had to stop and do a little chatting with him and take a picture (of course). He’s as nice in person as I imagined he would be! I resumed the sock knitting for the rest of the wait and the sock began to settle down and cooperate, so I let it get its 5 seconds of fame and be held by Stephanie when we got our “official” book signing picture taken. All in all, it was an excellent way to spend an evening.

So what could be better than that? Well, I’ll tell you, Saturday was my birthday, and DH did his very best to spoil me most of the day. We had a lazy morning (well had to get out of bed early, but laid around the house and drank coffee); then a stop at Caribou for coffee, a trip to the mall and a new pair of Capri pants; a late dinner out and a nice relaxing evening finished off by a soak in a bubble bath. Hardly excitement, but I’m at that age where doing what you really want to do is a great present. Besides, I already showed off pictures of my new needles and yarn that “he” bought for me. (You know, he authorized the purchase, to get off the hunter-gatherer-of-gifts hook). Now if he could just train the cats to let me sleep in on my b-day…. LOL!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tuesday Tidbits

Yesterday’s mail was bountiful:
A little advance birthday package via Knitpicks

Harmony Sock Needle set and the Riverside Cafe Lace Sampler

And a check (rebate) from my credit card!
Yarn and money; a winning combination I’d say!

The dish cloth pattern is progressing; I had to swatch some more and am hopefully attempting the finished item today. It's really hard to take good pictures of this, but here's a sneak peek:

Leaf v2.0 (done in some spare blue yarn, this is not the final color I'm using)

And finally, I'll leave you with some random stuff I've been thinking...

I was thinking the other day how nice it is to finally be a part of a bigger knitting community. Not so very long ago, I was really just a lone knitter doing my little hobby in my “off hours” when I wasn’t at work or involved in some other activity. Squeezing in knitting projects and knitting with whatever I could get my hands on. (Which was mostly the type of yarn available at ‘big box’ type stores). The only feedback I got was the type you get from non-knitters – you know - mostly “Oh, I could never do anything THAT complicated” “Well, I learned to knit once, but haven’t done it in years” or my personal favorite… “[insert name/relationship here] used to knit [back when] but I thought it had gone out of style” PAH! I suppose those are meant to be encouraging, but mostly I felt like I was some sort of bug on exhibit doing some quaint little thing. So looking back over the past few years, I am happy to say that I have been on a journey of discovery about the joy of being part of a knitting community. From discovering actual yarn shops while living in CA (but still being a little too far away and too busy for regular visits); to having a regular yarn shop to visit, take classes from and join a group of knitters at, in MN; to discovering the world wide knitting network through websites, blogs and now Ravelry; and best of all being able to work in a yarn shop. Still, the most amazing part is having the ability to connect with like-minded people in person or online and in short order get a knitting technique explained or demonstrated; get a valid opinion on the progress of a project. (Should I rip; should I go on knitting?) (Do these instructions even make any sense?) It’s really such a shame that there are still knitters out there who are unaware of the resources and friendships that exist in the bigger knitting community. I count myself very lucky to have become aware and involved with this community. I love the fact that I don’t have to knit with, heaven forbid, a local discount store’s version of a wide range of yarn choices (shiver) anymore. I love the fact that if the pattern calls for brand “X” that I have enough options to be able to track down the specified yarn and use it for my project. I don’t think I could ever go back to knitting the way it used to be for me. So where am I going with this? Oh, yeah! I’m just very thankful that this evolution from lone knitter to enlightened knitter has taken place. Not only has my knitting improved, but I feel empowered to experiment with techniques, patterns and yarns that I might not have tried before and even to forge off on my own with just my basic understandings of the craft, yarn and needles. Now I don’t have to sit alone in the “dark” trying to figure it all out for myself. I feel the same way about being part of this community pretty much as I did all the way back in the ‘80s when I discovered Knitting Without Tears in the Ferguson, MO library and had my very first knitting break-through. “I knit continental; I am not a weirdo!” “Thank goodness for another knitter who understands me!” So today, I say: “Thank goodness for knitting pioneers and thank goodness for the visionaries who have found ways to adapt today’s technology to keep knitting fresh, current and relevant.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

So Much to Tell, So Little to Show

The Sock Boot Camp went well. The day started out a little iffy when I started having vertigo right after breakfast, fortunately Chris lives close by and agreed to give me a ride. I did start feeling better once I got to work and got-to-work! We had a small but steady turn-out and met lots of new-to-sock knitting-knitters. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so I have no documentary pictures to show off all the fun we had. Chris took some and maybe she’ll send them to Linda to add to the shop website. We think we’ll do another similar event in the fall, but without the “Official” sponsorship. (Of course we’ll call it something else too!).

I did get a little KIPing done in honor of WWKIP day. DH took me out for dinner since I worked all day and I knit between ordering and eating. But sadly, again, no pictures; I thought about getting out the cell phone and kinearing myself or having DH take one, but I was in the middle of (pattern) row one on Aquaphobia, and well, that’s just not a good row to interrupt. I’m close to the heel on the second sock, so maybe I’ll have pictures of a finished pair by the end of the week (optimistically).

Since finishing up baby things freed up some knitting time for projects besides socks, I decided to design a dish cloth. After graphing the sketch, I spent most of last evening knitting; ripping, re-knitting, tinkering with stitch placement, tinking, thinking… well it’s about half-way there, but not photo-worthy by any means! I may go get more yarn and knit a second one because there are a few mistakes I left alone just for the sake of getting on with the knitting. I also think I might need to go down a needle size. We’ll just consider the on that’s on the needles right now the “prototype.” Hee, hee.

The catnip mice got finished Friday morning. I had to put them in the car as soon as I was done because Saucey was very interested in the project once I got the catnip container out. They were a big hit with the shower honoree (and her cats). Here's a picture I can show!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Done and Done-r

The Last-Minute baby sweater for Kristopher is done!
Pattern: my own / Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Sea Spray, Size 7 needles; Teddy Bear Buttons

The baby gift for baby “P” is done! I even had time to knit & felt a couple of mousies for the big brother cats (no pic – they are drying)
Pattern: Buddy Blanket from 101 Designer One Skein Wonders, Shine Worsted Sea Spray, Size 7 and 4 needles
(Felted Mice from Kitty Knits)

Oh, and I spent a little time sewing this:
My really-cute-bag sized just right for a small project. I bought this fabric on an impulse when I was at Camp Stitches in Monterey, CA a year ago (pre-blog event). My roommate Marina and I were exploring Carmel, CA (lovely town!) and stopped in at this shop called “Findings” (no website) that sells buttons and trims. I spied this remnant and the soft tweed just begged me to be a little tote bag. Only took me a year, but I like the way it turned out! Of course that day we also visited the LYS called Knitting by The Sea; nice shop! I seem to remember a splurge at a couple of other shops too! Fun times! I can’t believe it’s been almost a whole year!

Now back to our regularly scheduled sock knitting!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Defiant Knitting

The past few days it seems like almost everything I have tried to knit has been defying me. I tried to work on the baby sweater I started, but the yarn is just not playing nice. I’ve been working on another baby gift for a shower coming up Saturday… everything I try is yuck. I managed to get a few cooperative repeats in on the Aquaphobia sock. Baby Kristopher was born Friday… he’s a 10 pounder. That confirmed the decision to put the original sweater into hibernation. The original sweater was planned for a smaller newborn size. Luckily there are a few more babies on the horizon with a population explosion going on at church. So the teeny tiny newborn sweater will go on hold for a few weeks until I get other things done or going. I started the as yet to be named last minute sweater for Kristopher last night and not only is the yarn behaving much better, but I think I’ll be able to get it in the mail this week. Here’s what I’ve done so far.

I’m winging the pattern based on some others I had that weren’t quite what I had in mind… so I calculated my stitch counts and am loosely following some of the shaping details to get where I plan to go. Stockinette stitch body with moss stitch yoke and sleeves. It will end up being a cardigan style sweater. To put it all in perspective, here is the first sweater on top of the second. The stockinette stitch portion is curled under at the sides, so if you look at the top by the needles you can sort of see the size difference better. It's about 1 to 1.5 inches off circumferance wise.
BTW... this post was supposed to go up before I went to work yesterday, but gee... 1:30 really sneaks up on me, so I ran out of time. Maybe I'll be able to give an update this afternoon, I've already started one front!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Planning and Playing

So, what have I been doing besides instead of knitting? I’ve been planning more knitting projects, playing with yarn, planning the Boot Camp for Socks we’re having at the shop, playing with ideas for the event… that sort of thing . . . and a teeny little bit of knitting
The sum total of my accomplishments so far this week:
Wound yarn for a secret swap project, narrowed down pattern possibilities to three (next step; swatching)
Knit and frogged and re-knit 4 inches on a baby sweater (baby due yesterday… Aunty d says it’s okay to hold out a little longer fella! Oops, sorry your mommy won’t like that!)
Finished toe of 1st Aquaphobia sock and cast on and knit cuff and four repeats on second sock
Knit 2 inches on mis-matched socks
Surfed around on ravelry getting more project ideas and playing in forums
Sewed buttons on finished vest (debated putting in reinforcement on button band, but realized I didn’t really need it)

(please disregard frizzy haired model with camera unfriendly face)

Knit mini-socks samples of Tofutsies
Wound up two skeins of Noro Sock Yarn
Now I’m sure, someone out there is thinking or even saying out loud, “why bother, the yarn comes in center pull skeins already! For crying out loud, are you nuts?” Well, in a word, probably, but I have my reasons. This goes back to project planning. I’m planning a project for this yarn and due to the number of people who have posted comments about how this yarn can be full of surprises, like cut and tied places, enormous thick spots, weird color changes, etc. I thought it best to wind the yarn so I could eliminate the element of surprise before I start this project. The main thing is I really wanted to be able to see all of the colors hidden in the yarn. If you are a fan of or have ever even used any of the Noro self-striping yarns, you will know that every once in a while there will be a completely hidden color deep in the little skein that you just don’t see when you poke around looking for the end to start knitting … then HELLO! … You are knitting away and along comes a color that is the vilest shade of puce or mustard or whatever color it is that really makes you go “yuck” and you have to rethink the whole project. Okay, maybe that’s a little dramatic, but well, I didn’t want any color surprises this time. So, yes I wound it. And yes, one ball does appear to be smaller than the other. That is because the second one took longer and therefore I think I wound it more loosely. It ended up having two cut-and-tied places. Neither one affected the color sequence, but one looked like it might affect the size of the stripe. Cross your fingers for me on that one.
I seem to have quite a few knitting projects planned, so I feel I’m probably getting too little knitting done right now. Maybe I shouldn’t spend so much time playing on the internet either?
So, what are you planning for summer knitting?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Now That That's Done...

Much better, don't you think? Now I have an actual work space to work on again!

I didn't get much photo-worthy knitting done over the weekend, but suffice it to say, each project got worked on a little bit.

I've been working on setting up the classes and events for the "Boot Camp for Socks" that we're going to have at the shop in on June 14th. We've actually decided on which classes to teach, but there's always room to embellish. Any suggestions from fellow sock-knitters or anyone who attended a boot camp at their LYS would be highly welcomed!

So in lieu of knitting content, I give you ladies in waiting....

I have no clue why, but for some reason the cats were doing this on Friday night. DH and I suspect they were waiting for us to leave

... maybe we spoiled their party plans by staying in?