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