Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Must Go Knit Now

So, I think I’m still struggling with the residual from last week’s stress-fest. I feel like I just sort of went into a self-protective mode and I’m doing my best to slog through everything I need to get to. I might be wrong, but I think Saucey is feeling it too. I have to keep my eye on her because she’s been fussy about eating and wanting attention at weird times.
I’ve been getting things done around the house, but not exactly knitting…
The only project finished so far is branching out and it has already been mailed off to its recipient. I love it so much that I immediately cast on for another one for myself with the leftover skein. I figure I can do that at my leisure (ha, ha). I’m still knitting away on the Earl Grey Socks, but somehow I don’t think I’m getting my “A” from the SAM5 group. I’m basically to the toes on both socks, but dang that’s a whole lot of grey yarn to knit and finish today! I haven’t touched my vest since I finished the left front. Sigh, I’ll get there.
I have so many plans for new knitting projects … but until I finish these…
Double sigh…

Saturday, April 26, 2008

And the Weather Is….

Severe thunderstorms with 100% chance that any important flights coming in to any Chicago-area airport will be canceled.

So we had our exciting adventure to see the Yarn Harlot yesterday, but it didn't quite turn out as planned. Leaving Vernon Hills we had
1) Carful of knitters
2) GPS
3) Munchies
4) Knitting
5) Good spirits.

Well, the trip went fine and dandy, but the ‘seeing the Harlot’ part just didn’t happen. As many of you in the knitting world already know Stephanie couldn’t get out of Toronto yesterday due to our crummy weather here in the Midwest. The Hilton was lovely, our hostess was gracious and the crowd was more concerned about the well-being of their guest speaker than the outcome of the event. We had a nice road trip got in a little knitting along the way and still ended up having fun even if the main objective wasn’t met. We’ve been promised a do-over and that’s good enough for me.

Here’s a shot of Michelle, Jessica (our lovely driver) and Kelly knitting at the Starbucks in Oak Lawn… another of the very patient and understanding crowd… and one of the group at Caribou in Vernon Hills afterwards… making the most of our adventure. (We met the very pregnant Melissa at the train station in Oak Lawn before the event and then brought her back up north with us). Oopsie... I forgot to implore an innocent bystander to take one of all of us, so I'm not in any ... bad knitblogger! Oh, but that's probably for the best...

ps just to end on a positive note: the floors are done (can I get a woohoo?)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

What Was That?

Yesterday I had the strangest sensation . . . One I haven’t experienced in almost a year . . . bam… stress! (Ummm. . . Mommy, why is the toilet in the bedroom?)

Now that I’m (usually) in control of my schedule and my project timetable I haven’t had anywhere near the toxic levels of stress I was experiencing at work before I retired. But recent events have been conspiring against me. The first thing is that phase II of the great floor fix-up is underway (phase III – carpet on stairs – is scheduled for Saturday). The two-day tile job to do two bathrooms, the garage-side entryway and laundry room is now looking like it will take four, grr. I was a little leery on the first day when just one guy showed up (late to boot) and took most of the day to get the old tile off one area. So we have to use the guest bathroom and can’t use our washer or dryer for the time being. Second thing, I had a pretty tight schedule going this week between work and other plans; I worked an extra day this week, and was planning on having today before going to work to clean up and get the house back in order, but with the tile floor not being remotely close to finished … not gonna happen. The rest, like going grocery shopping, going to the bank, post office and generally anywhere else out of the house won’t be getting done either. The cats are agitated. DH is annoyed. I’m stressed. Am I going on and on? I’ll stop.

So, what’s going on with knitting? I temporarily suspended regular knitting yesterday to knit a square for an afghan being put together by our RAK group for a fellow raveler going through a really tough time. You can go here (afghan) for more info. Here’s my square:
(cascade pastaza, 7x9 adaptation of a washcloth pattern)

But the other knitting is going on. I guess that’s the one upside of my forced imprisonment needing to stay home while work is going on in the house.
The left front of the Diagonal Delight Vest is done, will probably pick-up the stitches for the right front tonight.
The Earl Grey socks are getting there. A group of us from meetup are going to see the Yarn Harlot and get our books signed in Oak Lawn tomorrow night. I figure I’ll have some sock knitting time then. (thus, will have more interesting stuff to post on Saturday).
The Branching Out scarf only needs six more repeats of the lace pattern (about 60 rows) and the garter stitch border until it’s done. I’ll be working on that this afternoon.
I’ve been doing more samples for the shop, but they are all at the shop, so no pictures. One pair of kid’s slippers out of Manos del Uruguay and a sock for the sock class I’ll be teaching out of Berroco Sox (Kingston). The colors almost match my vest!

Monday, April 21, 2008

What I Shouldn’t Post About…

Our neighbor across the street has the scariest messy garage I have ever seen. I mean just seeing the door open makes us cringe. The thing is full front to back and floor to ceiling – literally. Today they are cleaning out the garage… I am compulsively sitting at my window watching all the stuff being carried out. Very Rear Window-ish of me, I know. I’m terrible. I can’t help this awful fascination. I won’t post pictures, so as not to violate their privacy, but, wow. There was sure a lot of stuff in there!

My three projects are plugging along, but somehow April doesn’t seem to be keeping pace. I mean, Holy Cow! It’s already the 21st! When did that happen? It seems like the month just started… maybe the last two days of actual spring weather are just messing with my head….I only think it should be the beginning of April because the weather is finally like the beginning of April.

This weekend we finished putting the upstairs back together and, boy is it nice. We really like the new floors. Since I didn’t take any pictures of knitting and it would be rude to post any of the scary garage; here’s a quick peek at the new floor…

One of the upsides of having everything discombobulated during the installation was that instead of putting everything back exactly as it was before, I had a chance to edit and purge some of the little knick-knacky things that were just collecting dust. I guess you could call it a kick-start on spring cleaning. And very fortunately our church is hosting a rummage sale in May to raise money for the youth group missions’ trips… so we’ll have lots of stuff to contribute!

Maybe I should let the neighbors in on my secret ... a little purging now and then is good for your space and your soul!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Progression of Purls

Do you know why I love projects that are knit in the round?

No purling (unless it’s part of a pattern.) In recent posts I’ve mentioned my purling problem. Or rather, that I’m working on trying to come up with a technique that will improve my tension when I purl to avoid this:

(Guttering and inability to get correct gauge)

But since I want to complete the Masters Program, knitting acceptable swatches flat is a must, so I am on a quest to find a method of purling that is compatible with the way I knit. (I knit continental). From the forums in Ravelry, I have come to understand that this is not necessarily a unique challenge. So as mentioned before, Lynette at 3 bags full showed me a couple of things and more recently, some very helpful posters on forums in ravelry have posted links to how-to videos for Norwegian Purling. One of the gals at knit night had demonstrated this once, but I really hadn’t thought about trying it myself. But, the technique is highly recommended for continental knitters-with-gauge-issues (MOI!) so, what the heck, I downloaded a video and whipped out my purling practice swatch and in about 3 stitches worth of practice, I was Norwegian purling like it was in my blood. Now I’m not saying that it was an instant fix…. But I think I may be on to something here. Just for grins, here’s a quick review:

How I used to Purl; I held the working yarn in-between my index finger and thumb and wrapped it around the needle before pulling the loop through:

How Lynette showed me; sort of loop it around my index finger and dip it down while ‘picking’ the stitch with the right needle:
(sorry this one and the next are a tad blurry)
How I adapted; loop the yarn from front to back over my index finger and pick the stitch with the right needle:

Okay, the Norwegian is a little to complex for one pic, but how about a peek at the effect? Notice the last 5 rows under the needle… looks a little better, huh?

Want to know more? Go here. (This is just one of many sites I found where the technique was demonstrated) There’s one with sound here. There’s a good written description with pictures here.
Now I’m off to try out some seed stitch and ribbing….

Thursday, April 17, 2008

A Little Accounting… Math, That Is

24… pairs. I did a little stash review and discovered I have enough sock-weight yarn to knit at least 24 pairs of socks. There were a couple of odd skeins in there as well, so I might be able to get 25 or 26 if I get creative. Now, I’m not admitting to a problem or anything here, it’s just that I was curious. My friend “H” from knitting group (who is also a huge enabler- but we won’t talk about all the ways I can be enabled) was telling me about trying to get her WIP problem under control. She’s not allowing herself to start any more new projects until she crosses four (!) WIPs off her list. Now, I’ve been known to be more of a one-project-at-a-time type myself, but I must confess I cast on for another one yesterday. That takes my current WIP count to 3; the diagonal delight vest; the earl grey socks and now the Branching Out scarf. It’s just the time of year when it gets hard for me to focus so having several different things to work on seems right. But as for my sock yarn, I think I will let “H” enable me in a positive way. I’m going to resist buying any new sock yarn until I go to the Fiber and Folk Festival in July. Reason 1, that gives me a couple of months for knitting socks – I’ll try to knit 2 pair each in May and June. Reason 2, is I know that one of my favorite sock yarn sellers will be a vendor there and as hard as it is to resist online, I will be helpless in person. But maybe I’ll only take cash with me when I go (Bwah, ha, ha) Well, it isn’t a promise or a declaration. Just a goal… I’ll let you know if I succeed. (you see there is some Claudia's that has been waving and winking at me in the shop…)

So... just to distract you from any thoughts of calling in the sock-yarn-addiction crisis intervention’s a peek at Branching Out. The first 6 repeats anyway:

(BTW, and the heel flap is done and gusset stitches picked up on the first earl grey; and I have cast on for the second).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Knitting Progress and a Challenge

The vest is slowly progressing but right now it’s just boring old garter stitch on the fronts, so no update pictures to show right now.

The earl grey socks are up to the start of the heel – again not really picture-worthy progress… so, instead, I hope you enjoy these little diversions I’ve been knitting…

Shop samples for the yarn displays…

A little umbilical cord hat (Ultra Alpaca), a wee sock (tofutsies) and a mini-vest (Cashsoft) …

Oh, and these are gadget covers. I knit these as samples for the class that starts on Thursday, I’ll be doing an after school knitting class for kids. I need to add closures and possible handles or something, but these are the basic models. One is knit with chunky and one is knit with worsted. Same # of stitches just changed yarn and needle size.

Now for the challenge:

Ray, one of my favorite yarn enablers, posted a challenge on his
blog, so I’m passing it on to you…

For the first three people that reply to this post, and who re-post this challenge: you win!!!For your prize, I will send you a gift.It might be something I've made, or something cool from my hidden stash of fabulousity. It might be a mix CD, or a rubber duck, or a book I think you might enjoy. A love letter, a useful object, or something else that is awesome or maybe just taking up room in my house.Whatever it is, I promise I will get it to you in 365 days of your posted comment or less, and I will need your snail mail.The only thing you need to do to receive your gift is PARTICIPATE.Be one of the first three journalers to reply to this, and post this very same thing in your journal, and YOU are the lucky giftee.Just 'cuz.Because you get what you need when you ask, and because it's fun to give people stuff.

Friday, April 11, 2008

3 Layers of Dust

The floors are 99.9% complete. The trim work around the edges and the “transitions” (a fancy name for the piece that goes between two types of flooring) in the doorways still need to be done as well as the top of the stairs. Meanwhile, I’ve been busy trying to remove something like three layers of dust from everything, including the new floor. I “Swiffer-ed” and dusted and dusted and “swiffered” and I think I may even have dusted with the swiffer. I haven’t taken any pictures yet because DH wants to buy some protectors for all the feet, legs, footings, and anything-that-touches-the-floor thingies just as a precaution against any accidental scratches. So none of the furniture is back where it goes. Can I just tell you how NUTS this is making the poor cats? I think all this chaos and dust is getting to me a little bit too. For example, I was knitting in the bedroom, far from my usual spot and I had to go into the office to fetch a darning needle. When I came back, a tragedy (of sorts) occurred. As a result of above chaos, I had my WIP socks plus a set of needles one size smaller, plus a set of addi turbos in my sock pouch. I left it on the chair and when I came back I accidentally sat on my sock pouch…. The addi’s are bent and I broke two size zero clover sock needles... oh, and ahem there is a slightly bat-bite-like scratch on my rear. (Um, you know… just like the tell-tale bite marks in all the Dracula movies). Yeesh! So, then I decided to take some pics of my knitting and other things, but the camera batteries went dead, sigh! Maybe I’ll have it more together tomorrow.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Do You Swatch For Socks?

I’m not one who usually swatch for socks – unless I’m doing a pattern or yarn that I feel like I need to test out together or if gauge is super important. So, I started knitting the Earl Grey Socks by the Yarn Harlot (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) on Tuesday night. These are for my DH who only wants to wear grey, black, navy, and brown… you get the idea. I started out using Rowan wool / cotton in a perfect shade of grey that we both liked really well. The knitting was going pretty well but I decided I didn’t really like the looks of the cable in that yarn. So rummaged in my stash and came up a couple choices of Knit picks Essential; a skein of Tweed called Flint and a skein of solid called Dusk. I showed him both and he picked the Tweed. This is actually the yarn I originally bought for the project when the pattern was first posted. I thought the solid would be better for the cable pattern, but the color was more blue than grey. As I suspected, he liked the color of the tweed better and so far it isn’t really affecting the cable pattern in any way.

Here’s the first attempt with the wool/cotton

Try to see the soft fuzzy cables

And here’s the tweed (worked to the same point)

Much better; the cables look crisper… the way they are supposed to look.

Oh, and JUST in case your wondering the floor is still a “work in progress”…

Here’s Saucey making the most of the furniture being all piled up on one side of the living room. "They're mine, all mine...." (She gets to sleep in both cat beds at once!)

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Floors and a Finished Object

Today is floor day. We’re getting a new floor in our kitchen/dining and living rooms. It is so loud in the house right now. I almost can't hear myself think.

I tried to take a "before" picture, but for some reason blogger won't upload the picture properly. No problem with socks though

Zelda wanted to help model these (note tail near left foot) but moved too fast:

The Limbo Socks Redeux are done

Limbo Mexiko Sock Yarn (Scholler & Stahl) in blue color way
Size 3 circular needle
Toe up, two-at-a-time... the sewn bind off is a little looser than I like, but they fit and that was the whole point!

Now I think I need to go find a quiet place to sit and knit.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Can You Still Call it Work?

Can you still call it work if it feels like fun? I had my second day at the YS today and I think I’ll really like working there. It’s a brand new shop so there are still a few things to be worked out, but I really enjoyed myself. Some of my duties so far:

Help customers find yarn for pattern
Help customers decide how much yarn is needed
Check out knitters with their yarn purchases
Wind up little balls of lots of lovely yarn for the “Yarn Tasting” (which was today).
Help set up for Yarn Tasting
Help customers solve little knitting problems
Answer general knitting questions.
Assist knitter who needed refresher on casting on, knitting, purling, etc…
Talk to knitters about knitting
Talk to non-knitters about classes

Whew! I’m a little tired, but the good tired you get when you had fun doing something you felt was worthwhile. Oh, I even got to knit a little too… when everyone was busy knitting (and not shopping) I sat and did a swatch with one of the yarn samples…. Very nice sari-silk yarn… duties to come will probably include knitting sample patterns and there are a couple of classes (to teach) in the works.

So, you’re wondering with all this working going on, have I found any time to knit?

But, of course… lately, there seems to be nothing on TV except baseball and basketball… and…and…the remote has mysteriously vanished…

Here’s where I’m at with the diagonal delight vest...Does it look more like a vest, yet?

"All that work talk just wears me out"

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hi Ho, Hi Ho….

It’s off to work I go. I’m so excited. Today is my first day to go work at the yarn shop. I’ll have to tell you all about it later.

In the meantime, here’s what came in the mail recently:

My Secret Prayer Swap socks from my partner Becky aka Knittingma on Ravelry. She also sent a lovely skein of Hill Country Yarns; Sweet Feet Sock Yarn in a nice purple and reds colorway.

The Limbo socks are coming along nicely and actually starting to look more sock like. Here is Saucey doing a routine inspection:

And speaking of Saucey… this is what kept me from posting yesterday:

“No computer time until I get petted”

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

No Foolin’

Happy April to all. No foolin’ here.

I mentioned each of these projects a couple of time in previous posts, but never shared photos of them because both of them were surprises until today.

First up are the Scarborough Fair Socks by Melanie Gibbons of Pink Lemon Twist. I knit these for the Secret Prayer Sock Swap for my partner Tiffany

Yarn Louet Gems Pearl, Goldilocks
Size 0 needles / Magic Loop

I really enjoyed the pattern and hope to knit a pair for myself next time. It was a little challenging until I figured out how to do the twists without a cable needle, then the socks just seemed to fly off the needles.

Next is the Little Slip of a Thing felted purse (from Knitty) . I knit this for my DH’s boss/coworker. The pattern was the March project for the Christian Knitters monthly KAL. I had bought the yarn and fabric for the lining some time ago with thoughts of knitting her a felted purse… eventually. Can you guess which team is her favorite?
As it turned out to having this as the March worked out well because the pattern was perfect for her gift and the timing was even better because her birthday is today which meant I got it done and ready to gift in plenty of time! (God has perfect timing).

Yarn Cascade 220 Heathers Orange and Navy
Size 11 and 10 needles
Licensed team print fabric

Oh, and I got a job…. Beginning Thursday, I’ll be working a couple of days a week (mostly for yarn money) at the new yarn store which just opened up in the next town over. Who knew you could get paid to play with yarn…? Yay!