Saturday, December 27

Merry Christmas!

I'm stopping in at home over night and turned my computer on for a few minutes to catch up on the internet. (A few minutes is not enough. I gave up.) I hope everyone who celebrates had a happy and safe Christmas, and the rest of you had a happy and safe day.

Merry Christmas

The weather has been a little crazy here; we've had snow, ice, rain, fog, and thunderstorms all within the last week. It is over 50F at 9am right now, but the high for tomorrow is only 29F. Luckily it hasn't stopped us from going where we wanted to for the holidays.

I've got one more weekend of visiting relatives (mine and my husband's) and then I've got another week off work that I am so excited about. No plans yet, I'm hoping to spend a chunk of the time knitting, sewing, cleaning, and organizing. I want to start '09 in a good place, mentally speaking, so I need to de-clutter my desk and craft areas as well as my computer hard drive. (Does anyone else feel stress when their hard drive gets "messy"? I do - the same kind of stress a pile of dirty dishes creates!)

Here are a few photos from my holiday, including the only knit gift I made. More details on that in the next few days.

Kitty Pi cat bed

felted cat bed

cookie gift box
cookie gift boxes


crazy thick fog, for over 60mi

Christmas sock in progress

socks I started Christmas Eve

Friday, December 19

Finished: Fake Isle Hat

Taking full advantage of my unexpected day off, I finished my fake isle hat this morning. It is a little large even though I made the smaller size; I think I was trying too hard to make sure I didn't strand the colors too tightly that everything ended up a little loose.

Even so, I'm happy with the finished hat. The top is a little pointy, something I noticed while browsing finished hats on Ravelry but then forgot to correct while knitting my own hat. It doesn't bother me enough to rip it out and redo.

Fake Isle hat

If you are familiar with the pattern then you may notice that I reversed the main color and contrasting colors as called for in the pattern. The main color is supposed to be the variegated/striped yarn but I decided that I would rather have the main part of the hat solid colored and the design striped.

Pattern: Fake Isle Hat (pattern, or Ravelry)
Yarn: Paton's Classic Merino Wool in Demin, Paton's SWS Natural Blue

Needles: Clover bamboo size 8 Circs
Date Started/Finished: Dec. 15, 2008/Dec. 19, 2008

Snow Day!

Heavy snowing falling overnight and this morning caused an snow day at work. I'm so excited - not only because I don't have to drive in this weather, but also because this makes a three day weekend. A little bonus time to work on Christmas preparations.

(I didn't get to sleep in however, since I had to be up to find the closing announcement online. Oh well.)

first big snow of Dec. '08

There isn't all that much snow, not blizzard quantities anyway, but I think it was the timing of the storm coinciding with morning rush hour, plus a layer of ice under it that closed schools.

But it is going to be a long winter if this keeps up.

Thursday, December 18

Some things to Share

We are supposed to get hit with a big winter storm tonight and tomorrow. They've pushed back the estimated storm ETA about four hours - hopefully, I should be home from work before it starts to snow/ice. A number of schools around my area are already announcing that they are going to be closed tomorrow. I can only hope for such luck for myself.

There is knitting, baking, shopping, and wrapping going on here, but nothing exciting enough to talk about in detail. Instead, here are a few photos of what I've been up to.

Fake Isle Hat in progress

Fake Isle hat

Note: When picking out yarn for this project, do not choose two skeins which make you exclaim "These match so well!". The fair isle effect is unsurprisingly lost when the matching colors meet up.

Christmas Cactus going to flower?
Christmas Cactus

Flowering at Christmas?! Outrageous. The last time it flowered was April 2006. Of course, it is only three of the stalks.

new hair cut/color
new hair cut/color

Although, seeing the correct color might depend more on your monitor settings...

Sunday, December 14

Book Recommendations (or - Gift Ideas for a Knitter)

I realize this is a little late, but I have been browsing Amazon a lot lately looking for gift ideas and thought I’d post a list of my favorite knitting books that I own here in case someone needs an idea for the knitter in their life. (Hey - Amazon still has three days of free super saver shipping available in time for Christmas delivery!)

You really can’t go wrong with any Elizabeth Zimmermann book for a knitter. I think a beginner might be a little frustrated with her chatty, somewhat vague style but anyone willing to throw a few brain cells into the ring will get a lot out of it. My current favorites are the Knitter’s Almanac and The Opinionated Knitter. I enjoy simply reading them, even when I am not looking for a project to knit.

The Knitters Book of Finishing Techniques

by Nancie Wiseman

This is a book I come back to time and again. Many things are explained in a clear concise manner, such as different (and matching) cast ons/offs and increases/decreases. This book also contains the only written instructions for kitchener stitch that I have come across that actually make sense to my brain. There are also other helpful tidbits and great photographs.

The Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns
The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns

by Ann Budd

These books are a great jumping off point when you have an idea for a hat or pair of mittens with a favorite stitch pattern or colorwork design. Do a gauge swatch, find the numbers, and add in your pattern. I used the glove pattern earlier this year to turn a sock cuff into a glove cuff by adding a hand and fingers using the numbers given for my gauge!

New Pathways for Sock Knitters

by Cat Bordhi

This is a mind-bending collection of sock patterns. It is amazing that the unusual construction methods all result in wearable socks, but they do! Another book to make you think, and produce some very unique socks. Probably not for the new sock knitter - unless you love a good challenge.

Knitting New Scarves
by Lynne Barr

Think scarves are boring? This book looks at them in a new light, with sculptural design elements and unusual textures. I really enjoy the eye-candy in this book. It is very inspiring and relaxing to me to page through and look at the pleasing photographs and layout. One thing however, the typeface is a little small when you are actually trying to use a pattern, and I find it helpful to make an enlarged working copy. Besides, you wouldn’t want to write directly in this gorgeous book anyway!

This is by no means an exhaustive list of my favorites; they are the books I have turned to the most lately for help or inspiration. I think I will try to do a post of my favorite pattern books soon as well. There are some great ones out there.

Friday, December 12

Finished: Monkey Socks

Monkey Socks, finished!

I've named these my "better late than never" monkey socks, since I am at least a year behind the height of their popularity if not more. These were an easy knit, if a bit tedious. I've since come across a no-purl Monkey version on Raverly, but I do like the look of these even if the purls slowed me down a little.

This was my first time using Cherry Tree Hill's sock yarn and I really liked it. It is soft and springy, as well as being less "woolly" than Regia or Opal, the yarns I typically use. I think this has to do with the way it is spun. Whatever - I loved the feel of the yarn. I am slightly disappointed that it fuzzed up significantly after a gently wash and lost some of the stitch definition. (I'll have to get a photo to show you the difference.)

monkey socks, closeup
(this is a pre-wash photo)

Pattern: Monkey Socks by Cookie A. from Knitty. (on Ravelry)
Yarn: Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Merino in English Garden
Needles: two circulars - size 0 US Addi Turbos
Date Started/Finished: Sept. 19, 2008/Dec. 11, 2008

I couldn't get the color quite true to life in any of my photos. I guess that's what you get when you knit with blue and purple yarn!

Tuesday, December 9

I wasn’t. Until now.

I was shopping with my dad last Sunday, and he asked what I was making mom for Christmas. I said nothing –I wasn’t making anything for anyone this year. He said something like “Oh!...” I don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but it left me with a twinge of need to knit things.

So now I’m planning on making a few little drawstring pouches to hold small gifts and some pairs of mini mittens for people who haven’t received a pair yet. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t think I will be adding to that list but you never know.

Mostly I am making non-knit things this year, namely sugary treats.

I’m planning on giving an assortment of treats to a few coworkers, as well as making a plate to leave in the division office next week.

I am a little worried that it is too early for some of the things I want to make, since I have no freezer space to speak of for storage, so only goodies for work will be made this weekend. I’ll do another round of baking after the 20th for the people I’ll actually see on Christmas.

Here is what I am planning on so far:

Chewy caramels (I think mom is planning on snagging some of these for her coworkers), “As Good as Fannie May” fudge (that would be the Chicago chocolate company Fannie May, not the bailed out mortgage brokers), and then some type of cookie product. I’m leaning towards one of my favorite German cookies, such as Nussecken(nut triangles w/ a choco dipped corner) or Pfeffernuesse (spicy bite size cookies).

Steve has been angling for chocolate covered pretzels lately, so I might throw those into the mix for him. Of course, with melted chocolate around I might as well dip some marshmallow and peanut clusters, gummi bears (seriously) or strawberries. The possibilities are endless.

I’ll link to any recipes I decide to use later this week when I make up my ingredient shopping list. Yumm... I'm getting hungry just thinking of all these goodies.

mini mitts 2

Sunday, December 7

Finished: Mystery Beret

mystery beret 1

According to my notes I finished this on November 15th. It is Woolly Wormhead’s Mystery Beret from her Ravelry group. The pattern was posted in chunks without a photo of the finished beret. I love it! I’ve never made or purchased a beret before since I assumed I’d look stupid in them. But I think it is actually pretty cute and I look forward to making more.

mystery beret 2

Pattern: Woolly Wormhead’s Meret (link goes to Ravelry)
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Claret Heather, 2 balls
Needles: Clover bamboo needles, 16” circular, size 7US
Started/Finished: - Oct. 30th 2008 - Nov. 15th 2008 (clues released on Oct. 28, Nov. 6 and Nov. 13th)

Saturday, December 6


my computer  is home!

My laptop is home, powered on, booted up, and working properly. Well – at least while it’s plugged into AC power; I’m still waiting on a working battery. But that’s fine with me. I am so glad this fiasco is over.

Thursday, December 4

The Saga Continues...

I’m tired of talking about it (thinking about, dealing with it) and I’m sure you’re tired of reading about it, but here’s one more Computer Saga update.

I have my laptop back in my possession. This makes me very very happy. BUT. It doesn’t work. Nope.

I am fuming mad at Geek Squad. I know I am being lied to, but have no way to prove it.

(please note: The thoughts that follow are my opinion of what happened, and have not been proven yet.)

Basically, it seems they accidentally repaired my laptop without contacting me with an estimate because someone thought it was still under warranty. It was an expensive mistake on their part (the motherboard). Instead of contacting me and telling me what was done, a new service order number was created and parts of my laptop that I know were functioning just fine when I brought it in were replaced with ones that aren’t working, and that I can tell are obviously not my original ones (the ac adaptor and battery). I was quoted a high repair cost for these two things that I declined. I’m assuming this was an attempt to recoup some of the money lost in the mistaken warranty repair.

But how do I prove that those are not my ac adapter and battery? Because these are a mess and all beat up, while the rest of my computer is in nearly perfect condition?

At this point all I really want is an apology and an admission that they did something wrong. (I’m not holding my breath.)

And because I am so tired of depressing posts without photos, here are a few that were already uploaded into Flickr.

lily, macro
Cat Face, side view
Between a rock and a log.

Sunday, November 30

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

situation update: my laptop computer still unaccounted for, despite my husband spending another half hour on the phone last Friday. I am at work (on a Sunday) to spend a little time on the internet.

I hope everyone in the U.S. had a happy and safe Thanksgiving. We had a small get together at my parents house with good food and good company. I had Thursday and Friday off work which was fabulous since it’s the longest break from work I’ve had in over a year. (Well, if you ignore the fact that I am technically at work now…)

I didn’t have to prepare any of the main dishes for thanksgiving dinner this year. My contributions were cranberry sauce (deceptively easy to make, but not can-shaped), two pumpkin pies, a sweet potato pie, and banana pudding. Everything came off perfectly, except I ran out of sugar halfway through the second pie and had to run out to the grocery store on the night before thanksgiving. That was an adventure.

I haven’t been knitting much lately. I am bored with all of my current projects but feeling to guilty to start something new. (So far I have had exactly zero inspiration to knit any gifts this year.) I have had an urge to get my sewing machine out lately, so I might stop and buy some fabric on my way home. I’ve had visions of holiday place mats and cloth napkins, as well as some easy fabric gift bags.

Wednesday, November 26

Dear Internet,

Best Buy/Geek Squad effectively lost my laptop. Yes, really. I had been checking the status updates for my service order online for the last three weeks, and things started to look strange yesterday.

After spending an unproductive hour on the phone with the Geek Squad 800 number, we went to Best Buy where we dropped it off and the manager (who seemed as confused by the situation as we were) tried to sort it out. There wasn’t much he could do except update my service request with a statement that basically said “where is this computer?”

But it gets worse. Before it was ‘misplaced’, the system board had been replaced without my permission. They were supposed to contact me with a diagnosis before doing any repair work and did not. I would not have authorized this repair. I am not going to replace a part for half the cost of a brand new computer, when there is a decent chance the part will fail again.

And now I have a bill well over $300 for something I did not want. There is no chance in hell that I’m paying it. (But I really just want my computer back...)

To say I am angry is the understatement of the century.

Yarn and chocolate…. I need yarn and chocolate.

Thanks for listening, Internet.

Friday, November 21

Still (!) Computerless

...and starting to get antsy.

For the first few days without my laptop it was almost refreshing not to have it available to check the internet for every mundane little question/pointless trivia factoid that popped into my head.

Now that I am approaching my second weekend without it, all I can think of are things I need it for. My iTunes! I want to update my pod. My photos! I can't get my camera's memory card to work in any other computer (a problem in itself...) and really would like to upload some photos. Thanksgiving recipes, Christmas decoration ideas, holiday projects... Woe is me.

I looked closely at my service ticket for a problem diagnosis from Best Buy (Geek Squad), and realized it listed estimated completion date at Dec. 12th! I suppose that is 4 weeks from when I dropped it off, which is the estimate they gave me at the store, but the ticket is just for the diagnosis! I really thought he meant completely fixed and back to me in 4 weeks, not just diagnosed in 4 weeks. Whhiiiineee whinee whiiiiine.

So, in a effort not to forget anything, here is my running list of things I have completed or started since my computer died that I will have to blog about w/photos at a later date:

1) Finished my Woolly Wormhead mystery beret
2) Started and finished super bulky knee socks to wear to bed.
3) Started a scarf for my husband (too late, since it is already wicked cold and windy here)

Other things, which could possibly be done without photos, if I get a little computer time at work at then end of the day:
1) My annual holiday gift idea list
2) Thanksgiving recipes ideas
3) update my projects in progress, with photos already in flickr

...I'll add more as I think of them.

Thursday, November 13

(Amost) Computerless

A few nights ago, I almost died. I pressed the button to turn my HP notebook on and the lights came on, the DVD drive spun up, and …. nothing else. The screen was black and (I think) the hard drive didn’t spin up.

AHHHHHH….. my data! My infrequently backed up data! (Lesson learned.)

So I’ve shipped it out to be diagnosed and hopefully fixed. I have my fingers crossed that it is something small and inexpensive like a loose screen connection (not likely) instead of something very expensive like a fried motherboard (much more likely). Such a tough call – how much does it have to cost to fix before replacing it is a better option? Of course, it’s not like I really have the money to do either right now.

However it turns out, all I really want back is my data. Best Buy (Geek Squad) will recover and burn my hard drive for $160 if the computer is not salvageable, or my hubby thinks he knows how to do it himself. That makes me feel a little better.

It could take up to four weeks to get it back. I have my computer I work, which I am using now, plus the wifi on my iPod Touch so it’s not like I’m disconnected from the online world totally. But it’s not my little laptop. Plus, someone else is going to be touching it and seeing all my stuff.

Not that there is anything people shouldn't see, but still. I have issues with people touching my stuff. You understand right?

Sunday, November 9

Finished: Cottage Socks

I have wanted a pair of thick, tall socks to wear to bed for a few years now. I had this yarn (Wool-Ease Thick and Quick) with a pattern from Lion Brand on the label and decided it was time to whip up a pair.

I made the ribbing extra long, since I am tall and wanted them to come up over my knees. They are so warm and comfy - even more than I expected.

But yeah, knitting with super bulky yarn on size 11 dpns? Not fun. Quick, but not really fun. Especially trying to turn the heel!

Pattern: Cottage Slipper Socks from Lion Brand (on Ravelry)
(You can find the pattern free on Lion Brand's website - but you need to register an account to see it.)
Yarn: Wool-Ease Thick and Quick Charcoal (less than two balls) and Natural (less than a half a ball)
Needles: Skacel size 11 US plastic dpns

Tuesday, November 4


Today is election day in the U.S. (If you didn't know that, can I have directions to your cave in case things don't turn out well?) Make sure you vote!


Monday, November 3

A Little More Halloween.

Halloween felted bowl

This candy dish was a failed felted pumpkin from a few years ago (I don’t think I ever blogged about it). Instead of tossing it like most sane people would do, I stuffed it in the back of a closet and carried it through two moves without any idea what to do with it.

I came across it earlier in October and realized that with a little trimming and my fledgling needle felting skillz I could turn it into something for Halloween.

Halloween felted bowl

Not bad. I’m glad I kept it. =)

Friday, October 24

Apples, still. (Includes a yummy recipe.)

Remember my 20 pounds of apples? I'm still trying to find ways to use them before they start getting mushy spots. I found this recipe while looking through my very unorganized recipe binder. Papa (grandpa) typed it up for me a few years ago - it is "his favorite" apple crisp recipe from my grandmother. It is very delicious, and easy to make. I even had all the ingredients which usually never happens when I want to bake something on the spur of the moment.

apple crisp

Omi's Apple Crisp

4 cups sliced tart apples (I used 4 largeish apples to get this amount - but I would use more next time)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
3/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Heat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8x8x2" pan. Place apple slices in pan. Mix remaining ingredients thoroughly and sprinkle over apples. Bake 30 min, or until the topping is golden brown. Serve warm. Preferably with vanilla ice cream. =)


Wednesday, October 22

Finished: Pixie Flora Hat

Pixie Flora Hat

I love this hat. It is one of Woolly Wormhead's sideways knit hats, from her extensive collection of free patterns. I was amazed to find that I was only the third person to enter this hat into Ravelry. Come on people; it's a great hat AND it's a free pattern!

Pixie Flora hat closeup

I finished it in one night and used about a half a skein of Manos del Uruguay left over from my Must Have Cardigan. (Finished before I moved my blog to Wordpress...I still haven't been able to transfer 5 years of archives from Blogger over here. I need to figure something out so I don't lose all that history.)

If you read Woolly Wormhead's blog, you know that she has been having troubles with the printer of her self-published books. She is basically going to have to discontinue the full color hard copy of Going Straight for now. I have wanted to buy it for myself since it came out, but never managed to scrap up the money. I mentioned it to my mom and she told me they'd order it for me as a Christmas present. I need to check and make sure they order it before the October 25th cutoff!

No Longer Contagious.

Today was the first day in a week and a half that I was able to function like a normal human being after the cold to end all colds knocked me out. I washed and dried my hair this morning and wore something besides an old sweatshirt to work. I also cooked dinner tonight, if you count boiling hot dogs and microwaving broccoli cooking.

I haven’t been this sick (or sick at all) in a long time. My hubby said “did you really think you’d never get another cold again?”. I have to admit I sort of did. Silly me.

Part of the problem was that I couldn’t afford to take any time off work and had commitments in the evenings and over the weekend that I couldn’t miss. Nothing like not getting enough rest to extend a cold. Of course, I was in a horrible fog at work – doing the bare minimum to get by and staring blearily at people who were attempting to carry on a conversation with me.

Not to worry – I didn’t infect any one.

I picked up my knitting for the first time in almost a week tonight. (I also looked around at the mess in the kitchen and the piles of laundry… ugh, not feeling up to that yet!)

I have a bunch of photos I need to take and up load to Ravelry. About a month ago I photographed about a dozen scarves and hats to add to my projects and then lost the files. Seriously. I think I must have deleted them off the memory card thinking I had already transferred them to my computer, but never actually did. Which is a pain in the butt since they were good photos , and scarves are not the easiest things to get good photos off.

Wish me good light tomorrow afternoon!

Wednesday, October 8

Apples Everywhere.

Last weekend we did an official "fall is here" thing and went apple picking.

We went to a new place this year, Apple Holler in Sturtevant, WI. Their orchard is nice a big so even though it was crowded we rarely ran into other people. They also have pear and Asian pear picking in season which I will definitely have to remember for next year.

Apple Picking

I came away with almost 30 pounds (yes, you read that correctly) of Macintosh (my fav), Golden Delicious, Ida Red, and maybe a few other types that I can't remember.

I didn't think to take a photo of the stuffed-full bag. Too bad.

One of the first things I did the next day was make applesauce. I love homemade applesauce, to the point where i can't eat the watery stuff that comes in a jar. Here is my very easy applesauce "recipe":

Core and chop up enough apples to fill your Crockpot. I used 14 of various types but mostly Macintosh and I left the peels on.

applesauce 1

Cook on high for four hours, or until apples are soft and mushy. Strange as it sounds, the apples will actually appear to expand in the crockpot instead of sinking lower as you might expect. Make sure they don't bubble out of the lid. (Ask me how I know...)

When done, scoop into a food processor and blend to a consistancy of your liking. This batch was smooth with just a few small chunks. Add sugar to taste. My favorite is a little bit of "Sugar in the Raw" Turbinado sugar. Yummy! This make about 10 cups of applesauce. (It freezes well, just in case you don't think you can eat 10 cups in a reasonable time span.)

applesauce 2


Saturday, October 4

Seasons collide?

I had to stop at the grocery store on my way home from work last night to pick up a few things for dinner. (Which was taco soup. I’ll have to give you the recipe some time since it is one of our favorite meals, and one of the only meat-free things my husband will eat happily.) I broke down and bought a bag of Halloween candy which I swear is going to be the only bag I buy this year. I have a bad habit of buying a few different kinds and eating it myself since my husband will eat one piece and then forget all about it.

I love lollipops and hard candy ‘cause the give a little more bang for the caloric buck than chocolate. My current favorites are Carmel Apple Pops from Tootsie Roll. These seem to be something people either love or hate. The outside is sweet and sticky caramel and the lollipop part is sour green apple. Yum.

When I turned on the car radio as I was leaving Jewel I heard “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. Seriously. I was a more than a little incredulous that someone would be playing Christmas music already. It usually doesn't start until the day after Thanksgiving. The station wasn’t coming in clearly since it was on the frequency I use for my iPod FM transmitter (and not usually a broadcast station at all).

But then the next song up was “Horse with No Name” by America.

Very bizarre.

Tuesday, September 30

Finished: Malabrigo Waffles Scarf

Malabrigo waffles scarf

I loooove this scarf. It is so incredibly soft and comfy, plus long enough to wrap around my neck and wide enough cover my nose to keep out the cold. The pattern is a simple waffle stitch which I've written up below for your enjoyment. But first, outtakes from the finished-object photo shoot:

Waffles Scarf with Tribbles 1

Oh look, a Tribble!

Waffles Scarf with Tribbles 2

Um, hmmm.

Waffles Scarf with Tribbles 3

I think I'm in trouble.

Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted or another worsted-weight yarn of your choice. I used approximately 1.5 skeins.
Needles: size 8US, or a size to obtain a gauge you like with your yarn
Gauge: not very important, as long as you like the fabric made with your yarn and needle choice
Finished Size: my scarf is approximately 7.5 inches wide and 65 inches long after a gentle steam blocking.

Cast on 30 stitches

Row 1: knit across
Row 2: purl across
Row 3: (k2,p2) across; end k2
Row 4: (p2, k2) across; end p2

Repeat until scarf is desired length and bind off.

Below, you can see that both sides of the scarf form a nice pattern. The front side is on the left, and the reverse on the left.

Malabrigo Waffles Scarf, both sides

I'd love to see a photo if you make one.

Updated Jan 2010:
I neglected to mention in the original pattern how to minimize the curling of this scarf after knitting.

Blocking is the key here. I’ll explain my favorite way of blocking below, but your preferred method should work just as well.

To block, I use the “steam shot” button on my iron. Find a long heat and water resistant surface, like your bathroom floor covered in towels. Lay the scarf out and flatten as much as possible by hand. If you like, pin the edges out flat. Pass the iron slowing over the surface, hitting the steam shot button repeatedly as you go. Do not touch the iron directly to the scarf. I typically don’t pin the scarf down, but use my hand to flatten and smooth as I go. Be careful not to pull it so straight that you lose the waffle texture.
Allow the scarf to dry and cool before moving.

While it is impossible to completely prevent curling, this tames the curl to a manageable (and for me, comfortable) level while wearing.

Tuesday, September 23

Citrus Yoke, continuted.

Two things I have been thinking about on my Citrus Yoke Pullover are the edges and the collar.

The pattern calls for the edges to be plain stockinette which will obviously roll. I like the look of the plain stockinette edge – but without the roll. I realize this is not usually possible.

I thought about trying a different edge technique on the bottom and sleeve cuffs, such as some type of ribbing or a hem. I just didn’t think ribbing will suit the style of the sweater as much as a plain border and I really don’t need the extra bulk on a hem around my hips on a bulky sweater. I knocked around the possibility of decreasing stitches or using a smaller gauge yarn for the inside of the hem, as EZ recommended, but I still think it will be a little more bulk than I need.

So I ended the bottom of the sweater in plain stockinette and yes, it is rolling up like crazy. As I was knitting a sleeve the body had rolled almost halfway up to the yoke. Since the yarn is 50% microfiber my plan is to steam block the heck out of it and hope that it “kills” the yarn enough to control the roll. (Fingers crossed)

As for the collar, it is currently too high for my tolerance. And this is without doing any of the collar rows before the yoke increases! However, when I tug the yoke down my shoulders a little more the collar is perfect. Since my swatch loosened up a little upon washing I am going to hold off on changing the collar until the whole sweater is completed, washed, and blocked. If it is still too high I am going to pick open the cast on edge to rip out however much I need and then bind off at the new neckline.

I am going to try to finish this sweater by the weekend. I am looking forward to crossing another thing off my to-do list.

(I just re-read my last sentence. When did my life become solely about getting things done? Why do I need to finish it this weekend? So many self imposed, irrelevant deadlines. I think I need to slow down and smell the roses...)

Thursday, September 18

A fast knit.

I have wanted to write this post all week, but either didn’t felt like turning my computer on after work or I’d turn it off before remembering to post. I feel like I have been stuck in a fog lately, where I can’t even get myself to do the things I want to get done. BUT. I digress.

I want a new sweater to wear this winter which usually means I should have started one in April. Instead, I am using a bulky yarn, GGH Aspen, and the Citrus Yoke Pullover from Interweave Knits Winter ’07. Amazingly this is the yarn called for in the pattern which is a first for me. It was an accident though, since I have had the yarn for years without knowing what do it with it. I purchased it on special at Knit Picks before Knit Picks only carried their private label. Does anyone remember when they had the “try it, you’ll like it” deals? The Aspen was one of them and I got it for about $1.80 a ball.

The sweater is going so quickly. I keep holding it up and saying “I can’t believe how big this is already!” This photo was taken after only two night progress; I am almost done with the body less than a week later.

Citrus Yoke Sweater
The jury’s still out on whether I will actually look good in a bulky-yarn sweater.

The Citrus Yoke is supposed to be a turtleneck but I can not wear even a thought of a collar on my neck or I feel claustrophobic. So I have completely eliminated the lace repeat on the collar and jumped right into the increases after casting on. And you know what? I think it is still too high. I am going to wait until after I wash and block it for the first time but I might pick apart the cast on edge and rip out a few of the beginning rows to make it wearable.

Wednesday, September 10

Finished: Dublin Bay Socks

Dublin Bay Socks

These are my mom’s new Dublin Bay socks (free pattern here; or on Ravelry), out of Trekking XXL #66. She picked out the yarn at Stitches Midwest ’07 and I finally got around to making the socks for her!

(Are you tired of that story yet? I feel like I have been repeating it for a while now. Oh well, it’s staying in!)

Also, my new cat-face sock blockers! Aren’t they cute? I was tired of trying to figure out the best way to photograph my socks and bought them for myself last month.

These were made quite differently than the pattern. I worked them toe up, at the same time from both ends of the ball. I used two separate sets of circular needles, since I just get a huge mess when I try to do two socks on one set. I did a star toe (increases evenly spaces around) and a short row heel.

After the heel, I worked a few rounds plain and then followed the lace pattern from Dublin Bay. I think it looks great, even though it is technically upside down since I was working from the bottom up instead of the top down as the pattern calls for.

I love how these turned out and might make a pair for myself some day.

Friday, September 5

Gratuitous Cat Photos

I am still learning how to take good photos with my new camera and was practicing low light shots on my parent's cat last weekend. These all have a yellowish cast to them; need to figure out how to fix that. I messed with the white balance and it didn't seem to do it. (They were edited on the computer to fix the color balance, but I'd rather not have to do that.)


Sleepy Cat

As a bonus cat experience, here's my first go with Flickr's video uploader:

Dublin Bay Socks

I am almost finish with Mom's Stitches Midwest 2007 Socks, Pair 2. (Yes, 2007 - that's not a typo.)

Sock in progress with Capt. Sisko

This is the second sock, shown here a few days ago hanging out with Capt. Ben Sisko. The yarn is Trekking XXL and I love the subtle color changes with the dark base color. It doesn't seem to be making wide stripes like some of the lighter Trekking merging-color yarns do, but it is still very pretty.

Friday, August 29

Finished: Button Tab Hat

This was a total instant gratification project. I finished this hat in two days and I just love it.

Button Tab Hat (missing buttons)
still missing buttons!

The yarn is Creatively Dyed’s Soft Merino. It is so soft and the colors are beautiful. I love the little yellow/green flecks that show up every so often. You can find the free pattern here: Button-Tab Hat or on Ravelry. I only used about half the skein of yarn so I am going to make a little neck scarf thing with the leftovers.

Haven't been able to find matching buttons that I really love yet. At least I have a little time before it is cold enough to wear it!

Stranded Knitting at Stitches

I took an hour long market session class on stranded knitting at stitches. It wasn’t quite as good as I had expected, but I guess there is only so much you can do in an hour. That being said, I did learn how to do stranded knitting successfully (and correctly) and picked up a few great tips such as how to weave in ends as you knit. This is the sample I made and essentially my second try at stranded knitting.

stranded knitted practice
it's finished now, I need to update the photo!

You needed chunky yarn for the class, and I used Elsebeth Lavold’s Chunky AL. I love this yarn, but it sheds so much that I looked like a cat had been sitting on my shirt after I knit with it!

I typically knit continental (yarn in my left hand) and have never been successful in my attempts to learn how to knit with my right hand. Somehow, I managed to do most of this swatch using a two-handed method and knit with one color in each of my hands. I’m not sure why this right handed knitting clicked all of the sudden; maybe because my left hand was occupied with yarn of its own and didn’t want to “help”?

I think I am going to try to lightly felt this tube and turn it into a zippered pouch.

Now I want to pick out my first real stranded knitting project. I am thinking of Kate Gilbert's Bird in the Hand Mittens. Any suggestions?

Needle Felting at Stitches

Friday morning at Stitches my mom and I took a needle felting class together with Debbie Radtke. It was a lot of fun, and much easier than I had expected. Here are the little pieces I worked on during class. The first is a piece of a felted wool blanket Debbie gave to us to practice on, and the last two are felted squares I made to turn into a credit card pouch, and camera case. On the wooden skewer are a couple of beads I tried after she explained that it is possible to needle felt bits of fiber into beads.

Needle Felting supplies

This is something I definitely want to do more of in the future. I have a zillion ideas in my head of things I could needle felt! Of course we had to pick up a couple bags of fiber at the market.

The only downsize it my throat was very scratchy and my eyes were burning after working with the fiber for the 3 hours in class. Stupid allergies.

Stitches Midwest '08 Wrap-Up

I spent last Friday and Saturday at Stitched Midwest in Schaumburg, IL. (Yes, I took a day off work to go to Stitches... what a bad girl. I only felt slightly guilty.) Now Schaumburg is just another Chicago suburb really (although there is every store you could possibly need there), but mom and I stayed at the hotel and played tourist for the weekend even though we were both close to home. It was a nice mini-vacation with yarn!

I had a fairly long list of things I wanted to buy in the market and had been saving money for months for the occasion. In fact, some items on my list were things that I saw and Stitched last year and didn't buy. I figured that if I wanted them for over a year I really should just go ahead and treat myself. Here is what I brought home:

Stitches Midwest '08 goodies

WEBS Valley Yarns in Florence for a sweater
Berroco Inca Gold (also from WEBS) for a husband-scarf
2 skeins of Koigu for a Chevron Lace scarf
Cat-face sock blockers
A 9” size zero Hiya Hiya circular
New Pathways for Sock Knitters, by Cat Bordhi
Romantic Style, for the Butterfly dress pattern
A crocheted wire/gemstone necklace kit
Blocking wire set (not pictured)

All that, and I still came home with some cash! I have to say though that by the end of the day on Saturday, everything starts to look the same... especially the hand dyed and variegated yarns!

I did take a few classes, and will write about those separately.

Finished: Broadripple Socks #2

broadripple socks v.2

Ah, the infamous Stitches Midwest ‘07 sock yarn. This is one of two balls mom picked out for me to make her socks. I started the first sock almost immediately, and then put it down for other things. I picked it up again around October, finished the first sock, cast on the second sock, and put it down again to work on Christmas gifts. A few months ago I decided enough was enough and I HAD to finish at least one pair of her socks before Stitches 2008.

The pattern is a fingering weight version of the Broadripple Socks from Knitty. I can’t seem to find the pattern online anymore at Threadbear, but I suppose it wouldn’t be that hard to improvise from the original pattern. This is my second time making these socks and I still love the pattern. It's got enough to do that you don't get bored but easy enough to memorize and it looks great with striping yarns. I carried the leg pattern down the heel flap for this pair, and really love how it turned out:

broadripple socks v.2 heel

Hmm, I should take a photo with the sock on, I think you will be able to see the heel more clearly.

I finished these with about two weeks to spare, and gave them to her at Stitches ‘08. The second pair from the second ball of yarn is halfway done now too. (I was smart enough not to ask her to pick out any new sock yarn this year.)

Lazy Blogger

The further behind I get in the blog posts I would like to write, the less motivation I have to catch up. Also I am being lazy in downloading photos from my camera. So I am going to write up a bunch of things now, post them all at once, and add photos as I get around to it. And try to stay caught up in the future. Although I’m sure I’ve said that before!

Thursday, August 7

Not as fast as I’d hoped.

I cast on for the Perfect Periwinkle Turtleneck Tube Vest from Fitted Knits a week or so ago, thinking it would be a fast project. I suppose it could have been – for someone besides me. First off I decided to use Cascade Sierra, a cotton blend yarn. Even this amount of cotton is making my hands hurt. So that slows me down. But most of the problem is my own impatience. I wanted to shorten the neck because I am too claustrophobic to wear a turtleneck (seriously!) and decided that about an inch was “enough”. Now that I am looking at it, I don't think it's enough.

knit vest

The way this top is constructed, the two sides of the neck form the entire shoulder area. (Does that make sense? Hopefully you can see what I mean in the photo.) I tried it on and it looks sort of funny. I need two or three inches of collar I think. That’s still less than the 5 to make it a turtleneck, so hopefully I won’t die wearing it.

Also, I don’t think I am doing the left lifted increases and right lifted increases correctly. I am getting some funky small holes along the increase lines that I don’t like. Not that they will matter when I rip it back to the collar. I just need to learn how to do them correctly for next time.

I had hoped to be finished with this project by now, not started over. I am still hoping to wear it to Stitches, so that leaves me 15 days to finish. (Stitches is in 15 days!! Hooray!)

Wednesday, August 6

Midwest Fiber Fair Purchases

I wanted to show you the yarn I bought at the Midwest Fiber Fair a few weeks ago. I didn’t have much money to spend, but did get two gorgeous skeins of yarn.

Plain and Fancy Sheep and Wool Co DK

This skein is from Plain and Fancy Sheep and Wool Co. from Henderson, TX. They don’t seem to have a website, but you can see some of their yarns on Ravelry.

It is DK weight, and the colors look pretty true on my monitor. All of their colors were so beautiful. I could have bought the entire stand. I think I am going to make a lacy scarf or shawl from it.

Creatively Dyed

This one is from Creatively Dyed; a merino worsted weight. Sooo soft. It was such a difficult decision picking out one skein from her as well! There are so many types of yarn and color combinations you could look for hours and still not be sure what to get. This is going to be a hat – probably the Banana Republic Knockoff hat (on Ravelry).

Monday, August 4

Birthday Goodies

I thought I’d show off the gifts I received for my birthday last week. These are from my hubby – Notice the heavy inclusion of knitting books? I didn’t specially tell him to get me any of these; he picked them out on his own. He rocks.

birthday gifts

My parents gave me a new digital camera! I am so excited.

new digital camera!

This is an Olympus Stylus, one of the waterproof/shockproof models. My original camera, which is from 2002 I believe, was actually the first model of waterproof cameras that Olympus came out with. It was great to be able to use it in the rain or snow. This one can withstand amazing things such as underwater depths of 10ft, being frozen in and chipped out of a block of ice, and falling 5 feet onto a hard surface. I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about anything happening to it accidentally, but I think I would have a hard time purposely subjecting a piece of electronics to these elements! For example the instruction manual tells you that if the outside of the camera is dirty or muddy, well then just plop it in a bucket of clean water and swish it around! Ummm yeah… I don’t think I am physically able to put something that looks like a normal digital camera in a bucket of water.

I’ve played around with it a little and it does take much better photos than my old camera, especially in low light. Of course it is not where near as good as an SLR would be I’m sure – but one new toy at a time. =)