Tuesday, November 30

New Pattern! Great Gift Idea (wink, wink)

Part of the blog silence this summer was due to the super secret project I was working on for Three Irish Girls. They (kindly, amazingly) offered to publish a pattern I submitted during their 'call for new patterns'.

Sidestep Ankle Warmers

From Three Irish Girls: The perfect thing to chase away the chill, these ankle warmers stop the gap between pants and shoes. The button closure allows you to remove them without getting them wet or muddy. And hey, they look pretty sweet too.

These are knit from one skein of TIG's super soft and warm "Deliciousness" Alpaca yarn. The color shown here is Bellini, which I think looks perfect modeled on a ballet dancer.

I, of course, wear mine under jeans and over gym shoes and think they look equally as nice and work perfectly!

You can find the pattern here for purchase for an easy-on-the-wallet $2.95 and here on Ravelry.

Many thanks again to TIG for giving me this opportunity!

Monday, November 29

It's that time of year again.

Actually, I'm sure it's past the time of year when I usually make my annual knitting gifts checklist post.

I decided this summer that I wasn't going to knit gifts for anyone this year. I'm making some gifts in other mediums (paper, food), but didn't want the stress of a long list of knitting. It's been a while since I've knit anything for myself, and my queue is a mile long. I revisited my decision many times, and was content with it.

Until last week, when I suddenly thought of a dozen things to make for different people. Instead of fighting off the urge... I went and bought yarn.

But I am trying to keep the list short. A scarf or too. A sleep mask. Slippers. Maybe a pair of socks or two?

The socks might be too ambitious but I am almost halfway finished with the first scarf. I can't decide what to do about the socks since I will need to order yarn if I am going to make them. Should I order it and try my best to get them done? Should I forget about it and save them for a future gift-giving occasion?

Sigh. This is what I was trying to avoid!

Christmas gift lists aside, it is apparently not the time of year for winter weather yet. I'm very thankful for 40 and 50 degree tmeps which turn any potential snow storm into rain.


Wednesday, October 20

A month and a half without a post...

and the last one was on cupcakes. That pretty much sums up my life during that time.

(Mmmmm....cupcakes. I wish I hadn't seen that photo.)

Knitting has been sporadic lately, except for one big, exciting project that I hope to be able to share with you soon. This project seems to have sucked up all of my knitting mojo, since other projects I have attempted to knit have been miserable failures.

Failures have occurred in the following categories:

1) Note-taking: the second sock with a leg less than half the circumference of the first
2) Gauge:the yarn - the hat that used up a ball of yarn before the crown; turned out to be about 30" around
3) Pattern reading:the vine lace cardigan, which is lacy but not vine-y; the yarn overs are placed wrong

(photos coming soon)

Luckily, I've have having much more luck with some other hobbies lately. I don't want to clutter up my yarn blog, but may share some links to my other work in the future.

Also, PARTY!! My hubby's birthday is on Halloween and we are planning a "mysterious, spooky, creepy, and kooky" bash this year. Which pretty much gives away our costumes.

Did you know that Morticia Addams knit in almost every episode? I'm thinking of starting something black and oddly shaped to have sitting in a knitting basket during the party.

At this rate, the "oddly shaped" won't be much of a stretch to produce.

Thursday, September 2

I need to try one of these.

Even though they fall into the realm of "ridiculously unhealthy" and possibly "sugar overload".


Deep Fried Cupcake

Tuesday, August 31

Stitches Midwest 2010

If you've been around this blog for a while, you may recall that my Mom and I go to Stitches Midwest together every year. It's a combination girl's weekend/last hurrah before school starts. (Except I'm the only one who has to go back to work now that she's retired, lucky lady.) It is held in Schaumburg, IL at a very nice hotel and convention center. They have an impressive lobby with multiple seating areas, water falls, and fire places. It is so nice to sit down there and knit with a few dozen like minded people, in such a fancy setting. Almost makes you forget reality...
(Which for me was the check engine light coming on during my drive to work.)

Mom in the lobby.

Since I have a major backlog of knitting projects, and since I am trying to simplify and "destash" (ha!), I only bought a few things this year. And honestly, Mom bought most of it for me. I tried to pay for a few things but she wouldn't let me - thanks mom, I appreciate it so much!

I've learned not to buy yarn unless I have a specific project in mind. That's the yarn that never gets used; yarn that sits making me feel guilty until I destash it, so I always go prepared with a list of pattern options with yarn requirements.

I chose yarn for two vests and one sweater, and all of the yarn was purchased at WEBS. We were joking that instead of going to Stitches every year, we should just make the trek to WEBS since that's the main place we buy from.

The first yarn I picked was Noro Maiko, for a vest. This yarn is such an amazing emerald green. I'm not usually drawn to green but the depth of color in this yarn was just too much to pass up.

The second vest was actually not something I had picked in advance, but a sample that WEBS had displayed from the new Mission Falls book. I loved it, but decided it was something I would like to wear to work and a $80 hand wash cabled wool vest does not mesh well with my work environment. I looked around the booth and found this Remix yarn from Berroco. 100% recycled fibers (nylon, cotton, acrylic, silk, linen), machine washable, very soft, plus they had a sample of a child's cabled sweater knit up and I was impressed at how much the cabled popped.

As for the sweater yarn, well, it is not something I ever imagined I would own. Thanks to WEBS great discount and my wonderful mother who insisted I must have it, I am now the proud owner of a sweater's worth of Noro Cash Iorha.


Now I just need to learn to knit faster. Or perhaps find more hours in the day.

Monday, August 30


This summer has been an usual one for me. Circumstances have uprooted my schedule and plans, leaving me with a feeling of missing time. Almost a month to be exact.

Part of the issue is the weather. Last summer was almost chilly every single evening. This year it had been a hot, humid sauna with lots of thunderstorms thrown in for good measure. And the mosquitoes. Oh boy, do we have mosquitoes - so bad they actually forced us to abandon a camping trip. Because that vague fog you see in the distance? It's not just a light effect of the sun going down or the heat radiating off the ground. It's a swarm of bugs.

One thing this weather has been good for is my garden. My vine plants have taken off like crazy and my naive certainty that I could keep the pumpkins reigned into our small garden space just seems funny now. I've had to pull them back from the neighbors side of the fence a few times and try to train them along the edge of the grass. They have grabbed onto everything including the tomatoes, other vines, and themselves.

I picked a cantaloupe this morning:


There is a good sized sugar baby watermelon going (along with a bunch of smaller ones):


And yellow squash!


The only thing that really hasn't done well is the cucumbers. This may be due to the new location I moved them to, or my laziness is tying them to the trellis on a regular basis.

Tomatoes, peppers, onions, and even strawberries have been great. I've got this tomato plant balancing itself over the grass:


and these little ones which popped up unexpectedly sometime in July. They've even got little tomatoes.


I really can't wait until I have a bigger space for all this. I hard to tell anything apart in the massive tangle of vines. (And weeds... but let's just ignore those for now.)


Monday, August 16


Just a quick post on the state of my stash, before I write about the goodies from the Midwest Fiber Fair. (Ah, the irony.)

My stash closet has reached capacity, and now the bifold doors won't open unless I hold back the gigantic IKEA bags of yarn and fiber to get them out of the way.

So I've weeded through and put almost everything I don't have a plan for up for sale on my Ravelry destash page. Go check it out! If you are not on Ravelry go sign up let me know and I"ll post the list here as well.

There is a lot of good stuff - sock yarn, sweater quantities, Rowan, Debbie Bliss, etc. Feel free to make an offer as well.

Thanks for your help de-cluttering my life.

Thursday, August 5

Going Forward.

First, for those who got in touch with me over the loss of my Omi either here on the blog, in email, or on Ravelry, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. Even such a small thing means a lot, and reassures me that she will not be forgotten.

One of the hardest parts of losing someone is the feeling of numbness and disbelief. Walking around shell shocked and, at least for me, stuck in your own head. The world can't see what you are going through or how much you are hurting and you can't comprehend how people can just go about their lives like nothing has happened. Wandering around Target in a fog to pick up a few essentials last week, people kept getting in my way (looking back, I was more than likely getting in their way), talking and laughing loudly all around me. I had to repress the urge to say "Look! My Grandma just died. Can't we all just get our toothpaste or DVDs and go home?".

But I am doing my better now both mentally and physically. My monstrous cold/mystery bug was almost gone but then took a turn into a nasty ear infection. I'm on a huge dose of antibiotics to get it under control (I'll spare you the TMI description...). I'm a little concerned since my ears are ringing louder than usual (tinnitus) which I hope is only temporary. I've had to keep one earbud from my iPod in at work when it is quiet and at night in bed just to cut the noise. I think that must be the true definition of "the silence is deafening"!

I haven't knit a stitch since July 17th. I am itching to pick it up again and find where I left off.

No photos yet, as my camera has been misplaced. It's probably in one of my dozen tote bags.

Saturday, July 31

Somehow, life goes on.

Today is July 31, 2010. My 30th birthday is tomorrow. My Mom's (not 30th) birthday was Thursday.

I've been fighting a monstrous cold all week, even staying home from work a day and a half because I couldn't cough and breathe at the same time. You can pick up some super germs in a hospital, especially when not getting proper sleep or nutrition. (Did you know you can make a meal out of a Dunkin Donuts coffee and a can of Red Bull? Multiple times?)

A week ago today, we buried my Grandma. Omi. My Omi, who I never called Omi in front of my friends when I was a kid since it always seemed too difficult to explain that Omi is german for grandma.

Three days earlier, on Wednesday the 21st, we got a call on my Mom's cell phone at 2:15am that she was gone. We had been home and asleep for about four hours. She had been home for less than 12 hours.

Four days earlier, Tuesday the 20th, was a coordinated effort by my mom's entire family - all eight of us - and a few wonderful hospice nurses and EMTs to get her home in time. After thinking it wouldn't happen, she made it and woke up enough to realize where she was. She tried to say my name, and mouthed "I love you" when I repeated over and over that I loved her and I would miss her. (I hope I didn't make her sad.) It was all I could do to leave her side and get some sleep.

Three days earlier. Monday. Everything is so surreal. We keep hitting the extremes of emotions when Omi wakes up to eat or talk to us, and then falls back asleep and struggles to breathe. Her doctor recommends hospice. We are devastated, but agree it is the only reasonable course of action. I am so excited with every small thing she does, as if it will really make a difference at this point. She lets me feed her a half a cup of chicken broth and a few bites of Jello. It was the most liquid she had in over 24 hours. I buy her a yellow carnation in the hospital gift shop. When I go to show it to her, she opens her eyes and says "it's pretty". I put it on the windowsill of her hospital room, and then carefully move it everywhere she goes for the next few days. I consider putting it in her casket, but am not sure I want to part with it. She is moved up to the hospice floor in the afternoon. Sitting in the family meeting room with a hospice Chaplin I think once again "What in the world am I doing here?". Talked with my very awesome and understanding boss, and was told everything there would be taken care of for the week and not to worry about it. Stopped at Target by my parents house to buy underwear, socks, and a few t-shirts.

Five days earlier, Sunday July 18th. I am taking a class on hand carding fibers at the Midwest Folk Art and Fiber Fair. It moved to the Lake County Fairgrounds this year, which is only 15 minutes from my house. How convenient! It finishes at 12:30, and I am looking forward to walking around the booths and picking up a few things I saw while browsing the day before. I check my phone, which I had heard beeping the text messages while in class, and see a note from my husband that says "call me as soon as you are finished". Mom had called him and said to get down to the hospital ASAP. I had him pack a change of clothes for me just in case, but I don't really plan on missing work Monday.

Thursday, July 15th. Spoke with my Mom on the phone. Omi is in the hospital after a spell of anger and confusion related to her (apparently worsening) dementia. They give her some prescriptions that seem to help and plan on sending her home soon. Mom doesn't seem overly concerned so I don't give it too much extra worry.

I always lived close to my grandparents (Omi and Papa) growing up. For many years, I was at their house every single day. Even as I got older it was unusual to go more than a week without seeing them. This was completely normal to me - I never understand how kids at school didn't see their grandparents often.

So many of the things I love are things Omi loved and included me in. Cooking, baking, gardening, sewing, knitting, reading... I am so thankful to have those memories with her. I am so very very thankful that I was able to be with her during her last few days and make sure she knew how much I love her. It helps to override the thoughts of I should have called more, I should have visited more.

My head is starting to clear a little and I am becoming more able to live in reality. Or at least some sort of alternate reality where I occasionally wake up and remember that she is gone. I do have some goodies I bought at the Fiber Fair, which I want to photograph and write a little about.

Finally, I hope this isn't too depressing or morbid a post. I needed to get it out of my brain while still preserving the memories for a time when I might be able to better process them.

Thursday, July 8

The Fold

A few weeks ago, my Mom came up to spend the day with me while my Dad was at a Harley-Davidson motorcycle repair/maintenance/care/something(?) class in Milwaukee.

We drove out to The Fold - an amazing yarn shop in Marengo, IL. This is the shop I bought my spinning wheel from in January of last year. I needed a set of hand carders for a class I am taking at the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair and well, we both needed yarn. Of course. Lucky for us, that Saturday happened to fall during their summer solstice sale, and everything in the store was 25% off.

Here is what I left with:

from The Fold

The small pile above shows how much restraint I had. They have literally walls of fiber for sale by the pound and shelves that look like library stacks of yarn.

Below is a close up of my new Schacht carders. I tried them out with a little bit of fiber and made what I can only call a rat's nest. Guess that class is a good investment!

my new hand carders

Wednesday, July 7

Fourth of July (Plus the last two weeks.)

We had a great little celebration last Sunday for Independence Day. For the first time in a week the skies were clear and the temperature was below boiling.

We had a BBQ picnic in my parents backyard, played outdoor games (ladderball, washers, football) until the sun went down, and then set off some (legal) fireworks. So much fun - except for being eaten alive by mosquitoes while trying to light fuses.

I was wearing sandals and have at least a dozen bites on each ankle. Every time I take a step now my shoes rub against them setting off the itch. Errrrg.

I haven't done much knitting since I finished my mittens a few weeks ago. What I have managed to do it royally f-up my sleep schedule (again). I thought I had it straightened out but when we didn't get home from my parents until 2am on the 5th I was back to square one. I was too wound up to sleep when we got home and only managed about 3 hours that night. I was of course tired during the day on Monday and decided to sleep as much as I felt like to "catch up".

Big mistake. Now I am stuck on a partially nocturnal schedule (again). Wide awake at night and exhausted during the day. I am trying so hard to keep myself going and awake after work but end up falling asleep on the couch because I am just. so. tried. And then of course, not tired enough to sleep at night.

As I've alluded to, this is about the 4th or 5th time I've done this to myself in 2010 alone. I've tried not napping during the day, setting alarms so I don't nap more than 20 minutes, loading up on caffeine, avoiding caffeine, strict bedtime routines, warm and cool showers, warm milk, white noise...

Does anyone have any advice? Something else to try? The frustrating thing about insomnia is that the advice you usually get is "just close your eyes and fall asleep". That's like trying to cure chronic depression by "smiling more". Believe me, neither works.

Huh. What a downer post this turned into! Here is a cat collage to try and salvage it, while maybe inducing some sleepy feelings.

Time Lapse of a Sleepy Cat

Sunday, June 27


We had a nice, low key anniversary celebration yesterday. Originally we had planned on camping for the weekend at nearby Chain O' Lakes State Park. The weather has been terrible around here lately and the Fox River, which feeds the lake, is at flood stage. We were watching the hourly forecasts obsessively for the past few days and decided late Friday night that it probably not the best idea to go. There was an 80% chance of thunderstorms with some severe predicted for Saturday. (It is worth mentioning that the last time we camped at Chain O' Lakes we had to evacuate when a tornado tore through the south end of the park.)

I am fairly angry to report that the weather was beautiful Saturday with no rain to be seen. I am trying to convince myself that the severe storms still took place 30 minutes away from our blue sky.

Our little party turned out to be just as fun as camping and was very 'us'. We had hot dogs with corn on the cob for dinner, played a stack of board and card games, watched Star Trek, and had yummy desert and beverages.

brownie and beverage

A few of the games were Ticket to Ride:

Ticket to Ride
(Which I highly recommend.)

and Monopoly Deal, which is an addictive and quick Monopoly-based card game that has all the fun of the original Monopoly without the tediousness of a three hour game.

I made a special super sweet and unhealthy desert - S'mores Brownies in honor of the missed camping trip.

S'mores brownies

The recipe is from Picky Palate and definitely worth a try if you love gooey s'mores or ridiculously sweet deserts (there are four full size Hershey Bars in that 8x8" pan). I did have a little trouble telling if they were done with the melted marshmallows on top, and ended up over baking them slightly. But no worries as they are still delicious.

Friday, June 25


Five years ago today, Steve and I were married. I really don't feel like five years sounds long enough - in a good way. We have been together since November 2001; 8 years, 7.5 months.

I wanted to find a photo for every year we have been together, but some of them are in a box at the bottom of my craft closet. I will eventually pull them out and add them to my little slideshow, but right now it would create a big mess that I don't feel like dealing with!

5 Year Anniversary Collage

Top Row (from left): 2002 - Easter. 2003 - my graduation from The University of Iowa (Steve graduated the year before. It took me five years, but I have two degrees). 2005 - our wedding.

Middle Row: 2005 - honeymoon. 2005 - honeymoon. 2006 - downtown after we moved back to Chicagoland.

Bottom Row: 2008 - camping. 2007 - Hawkeye Football game at Soldier Field. 2010 - five years.

Here's to many, many more.

Finished: Halley's Comet Hat

I want to finish up a few of the projects I've had sitting around since last year, before I started manically knitting D'sCS (I'm so tired of talking about it - I'm sure you're tired of reading about it!).

This hat was only a few rows away from being finished when it was chucked into the black hole of my UFO basket.

Halley's Comet Hat

This is Marnie Mclean's Halley's Comet Hat with a major twist. Whenever it was that I started this hat, I didn't feel like working from the top down since fiddling with four stitches on three dpns isn't my idea of fun.

I started at the brim and working the two row lace repeat upside down. As in, I worked the chart so the pattern came out the same as it would have if I knit it top down. I had major issues when it came to the comet lace motif at the crown. I tried and tried to re-chart it to be knit from the bottom up, but it never came out right. Tell me, is this not possible or was I majorly missing something??

Eventually I gave up and continued the lace pattern up the crown, and decreased quickly in the last two rows. I love how it turned out and it fits well.

Halley's Comet Hat
(I really want to get one of those foam head things for photos.)

The other notable thing about this hat is that it is made from the last ball of Elsebeth Lavold Classic Al from my Something Red sweater. I used all but the last few inches of it up - very satisfying.

Finished: Bella's Mittens

Or as I've titled it on Ravelry, the "I've Never Seen This Movie" Mittens. (I am working on the assumption that the movie is "Twilight".) Do they have some significance? Who knows - I just loved the pattern.

Bella's Mittens

Not too much to say about these. I used two skeins of Berroco Peruvia Quick yarn that I purchased from WEBS at Stitches Midwest last year. I followed the pattern exactly and they fit perfectly.

Bella's Mittens

The only thing that was slightly fiddly was trying to cross the cables without a cable needle on wooden dpns with bulky yarn knit at a tight gauge. But it wasn't that bad and they were such a fast knit.

Thursday, June 24

Dad's Sweater, Revisited

When I finished Dad's sweater for the second time, I had to wait a week or so before we would be together for him to try it on. When he (bravely, in 85° and humid weather) tried it on it was obvious that the sleeves were now too short, and the neck was a little snug. Eep!! I panicked for a split second before I remembered that I hadn't blocked it yet.

Blocking wool really is an amazing thing to witness. You can almost transform things into brand new garments. Once blocked, it fit perfectly and was even softer than before. Here's a final model shot:

Dad's Christmas Sweater
(He loves it. This is his 'picture' smile.)

I wanted to make a special label so decades in the future it would be known that I made this for him. (Hmm.. that sounds a little conceited when I see it written out.) I came up with the idea to embroider a wide piece of grosgrain ribbon and sew it near the bottom side seam of the sweater.

sweater label
(The red blob is a heart.)

My embroidery skill were much more lacking than I imagined. I guess looking at patterns, reading booking, and listing designs you want to make don't really count as practice. But I still love it and I think it adds a little charm. Just hopefully not in a kindergarten sort of way.

Tuesday, June 1

Finished!!!!!: Dad's Christmas Sweater

Can you tell how excited I am to have this project done?! Six months after Christmas, what a terrible daughter I am. hehehe.

Dad's Christmas Sweater

Technically I knitted 1.75 sweaters to get this final product. The first time was actually finished before Christmas but since I wanted it to be a surprise I had a feeling I would have to rip back and do some adjusting for size. And I did. But by that time I was sooo tired of looking at it (and was also working on some paper projects) that I let it sit for months before I actually ripped the yoke out. And then it sat in a small heap in pieces because again I couldn't bear to look at it.

When I did finally pick it up again (out of guilt, mostly), I just had to shortened the sleeves by about an inch and re-knit the yoke on a size smaller needle. I think I knitted the yoke in three days the first time around - it took me weeks this time. I have no idea how I did it so quickly before. So that's 1.5 sweaters knit.

The other .25 is in the the four different collars I had to knit and rip out to end up with one that wasn't too loose and sloppy or too tight. Like me, my Dad can't stand anything tight or constricting on clothing. A good way to torture us would be to force us to wear turtlenecks (shutter).

Dad's Sweater

The yarn is Berroco Blackstone Tweed and it's my new favorite yarn. It has a nice rustic look to it but is so soft. I really want to make a sweater for myself for it, and hubby has requested one too. (?! requested a sweater? Could it be true?)

I am going to see him this weekend and will hopefully be able to get a model shot of him wearing it.

So... Yay! Finished!!

What's next? A few quick and easy instant gratification projects.

Saturday, May 29

Where'd My Links Go?

So I noticed a while ago that Wordpress seems to have eaten my blogroll links. Not only are they not showing up on my site, they are no longer stored online. Shoot. I have no idea exactly how long they've been gone, but I feel very out of touch with the blogging world. My memory is such that I remember that I used to follow a bunch of knitting and other blogs, but I don't remember which ones. I know Ravelry has somewhat killed the knitblogging community, but I also know lots of you are still out there!

I'd love to build up my list again, as well as find new blogs to read, so if you'd like leave a link to your site or some of your favorites in the comments below, I'd appreciate it. =)

Thursday, May 27

Making Yarn.

During the last few weeks I have had an irresistible urge to spin some yarn. I haven't done any spinning in a while, since last year, since I have been working on other projects and didn't want to "drag" my wheel out into the middle of them. (Incidentally, this is also why I have a huge pile of sewing projects waiting in my closet on top of my sewing machine case.)

But my desire to spin won out over my desire not to feel buried in things to do and my wheel has been in the living room ever since. My hubby could care less, as long at it not blocking the TV. I've spun two braids of fiber so far*:

This Spunky Eclectic Club Fiber, which is a gorgeous naturally dark BFL with some rich colors added:

"Myrtle" fingeringweight singles
singles on the bobbin
a singles yarn, about DK weight, about 350 yards I think

and this Montadale wool fiber from Esther's Place and the Illinois Wool Co-Op:

"Petunias and Pansies"
Yarn being spun
two ply, heavy worsted weight, not sure on yardage yet

I really loved spinning the Montadale fiber. It seems to be kind of a rare find and I think I am going to have to go back to Esther's Place to find more. I have some ideas of what I want to spin next both in regards to fibers and styles of spinning. I want to try a three-ply sock weight yarn, a two-ply lace weight yarn, and a bulky singles yarn. "Try" being the operative word in there, since nothing I've ever spun has really turned out as I planned yet. Still need more practice!!

I've also been plugging away on Dad's Christmas Sweater. I am almost to the second and final set of neck shaping short rows. It it going sooo muuuuuch slooower the second time around. I think I finished the entire yoke in the three days before Christmas. Of course, that's probably why it look so much better this time around!

And a little hint: if you are knitting a garment for someone as a surprise and you know that you are going to have to rip it out to get the fitting right, do not weave in all of your ends, especially the kitchener under the arms, to the very best of your ability. It will take forever to find and pick them out. I know this from experience.

*Sorry for the lousy blurry, flashy photos. We haven't had much sun lately, and I never remember to take photos while it's out.

Tuesday, May 4


Is everyone else as happy as I am that spring has finally hit the midwest? We have even had a number of 80°F days already, although I could do without those.

Despite the warm weather we had a frost just last week and I haven't planted any in my gardens yet. I am going to scale is back slightly from last year since the main garden doesn't get enough direct sunlight during the day to make some of the plants happy. We are either going to put in a raised bed or add new soil since I'm sure the poor soil quality played a role in the stunted plant growth. It was all just an experiment last year! This year, I think I am going to stick to the basics: a few varieties of tomatoes and peppers, cucumbers, maybe an eggplant and a pumpkin or squash.

I received the new issue of Interview Knits in the mail yesterday, and there are a number of patterns I would like to make. It may be enough of a spark to get me knitting regularly again. I started to think about all of the yarn/pattern combos I have in my stash and how much I really would like to wear them. I think that proves that I'm a "product" knitter! I've never been sure before now.

I am busy tonight and tomorrow, but starting Thursday I am going to settle myself on the couch and knit all night. I really should start by finished my Dad's sweater...

Monday, April 12

Weekend Getaway - With Car Knitting!

Steve and I decided that we needed a long weekend away to break up the endless weeks of work and almost-but-not-really-springtime we were trudging through.

A quick, inexpensive weekend trip always takes us back to Iowa City, where I lived for eight years. It still feels like home every time I return. The best part of the trip was the amazing weather and the abundance of fresh, clean air.

The IC is over a three hour drive from where we live now and I wanted a small knitting project to work on in the car that wouldn't require much thought or concentration. (This would not be my Dad's sweater. Yes, I feel guilty.) I started a pink top down baby sweater which will probably go to a little girl soon to be born into a family of three boys. I picked a pima cotton/silk blend yarn out of my stash and it felt so good to be knitting again. By the time we got home Sunday night, I had the yoke and almost one sleeve finished. (An aching right wrist slowed me down more than hoped.)

Our time in IC (Coralville, actually) went too quickly as usual. The list of things to do consisted mostly of places to eat but I also managed to do a little damage at the yarn store down there street from where I used to live (sigh) and at the scrapbook/paper store in the same complex, where I shopped for wedding invitation supplies over five years ago.

My only minor disappointed came when my camera battery died in the middle of photographing signs in downtown IC, for a collage project idea using the various letters. Here is a small (and rough) sampling of some of the letters:

name from IC letters

I can't wait to go back, possibly with a better camera, to finish my plan.

I can't wait to go back, period!

Thursday, April 8

A brief Respite.

Even though I have been knitting some over the last few months, it is nothing like the marathon sessions I used to have. I would really like to get back to knitting more (when I can tear myself away from other recently acquired hobbies), but I do think this break has done me some good.

Not only is my mind clearer on what projects are important and which I don't really want to do, but my hands don't ache constantly anymore.

And that my friends, is a good thing. As much as I want to get back to knitting, I know I have to keep it at a sane level and not push myself so hard to "just finish this real fast!".

Because after all, what is a hobby worth if it is not fun?

Tuesday, March 30

Christmas in March

I promised months ago that I would share the Cobblestone Pullover I made for my Dad for Christmas. It was a hush-hush project, because I didn't want him to have any idea that I was knitting him anything, let alone a sweater.

The problem with it being a total surprise is that I knew the fit wasn't going to be perfect. My Mom helped by taking about a dozen measurements from one of his best fitting sweaters, but since the Cobblestone has a round yoke and none of his sweaters did... it wasn't exact. The yoke itself is a little too long, the neck is too wide, and the sleeves are a little too long. (I lengthened them from the pattern since he is tall but apparently I didn't stop knitting until they were gorilla length.)

Here is a photo of the finished (1st time around) sweater, and a less then flattering but cute pic of my Dad opening it Christmas morning.

Dad's Christmas Sweater

Dad's Christmas Sweater

After months of what felt like non-stop knitting, I just couldn't touch it for a while - let alone rip it apart. So it sat in a sad heap in my knitting bag, mocking me to just finish it already. So in February I got up the nerve to rip the yoke out, and ended up the three separate pieces again. (Body and two sleeves.) The idea of working on it again after finishing once makes my tired, but the thought of knitting something new makes me feel guilty, so I don't knit anything. I pick it up every night and look at it, but can't find the energy to pickup all those stitches and calculate for the smaller yoke I want to make.

(It's making me tired just typing this.)

BUT. I really want my Dad to have this sweater. It's probably going to be too warm for him to wear this season still, but at least it will be ready and waiting for next fall.

I am setting a goal for myself. It will be finished (2nd time) by April 11, two weekends from now. Or else it might never happen.

As a little motivation for that "Never Give Up" spirit, here is Reggie attempting to sleep on his favorite chair even after I've piled it up with junk.

Never Give Up

Saturday, March 6


Really? March? Wow.

I think the second biggest secret to being an adult is that time moves faster and faster the older you get. (The first is that you will never feel like an "adult" the way you expected to as a kid.)

Aside from the fact that we have had piles and piles of snow dumped upon us this winter, things have been good here. I have been keeping busy with a lot of good things, some of it knitting and fiber related.

Knitting has moved from must-do-every-time-I-sit to a relaxing in bed hobby. I'm fine with this right now, because I'm sure it will cycle around again soon. I've also been itching to spin lately, so I'll probably to that soon. And sew. I've got a pile of sewing projects built up since I hate to drag out my machine and set it up for one little thing.

I've also been trying to read, exercise, and sleep more. See? Plenty busy.

One of my goals for the year (some may call it a New Year's Resolution; I don't) is to enjoy each day and not spend so much time dwelling on the future or the past. It's working. I'm in a good place in my head and things are going well.

I've redone my craft room and added some new (IKEA) furniture. Once I get things picked up and organized a little more, I'll share photos or a video.

I haven't dumped photos from my camera's memory card since Christmas, but I hope to upload them to Flickr soon and start post here more regularly again. I am starting to miss the knitting community and Ravelry - if you can believe it, there have been entire weeks where I haven't logged in!

See you again soon.

Monday, January 4

How to Minimize Curling of your Malabrigo Waffles Scarf

I’ve received a few questions on how to stop the Malabrigo Waffles scarf from curling. Since it is a stockinette based pattern, the edges do want to curl in as you are knitting and wearing.

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.

Friday, January 1

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Once again I find myself woefully behind in my online life. I guess that's a good thing - it means real life is going well.

I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful Christmas with their families. We had our last family party today, and I am a little sad that it's over. The house always looks so empty when all of the decorations are pack up until next year.

Good news! I finished all (both) of my gift projects on time. The big one that I have been keeping secret since September is a Cobblestone Pullover for my Dad. For the record, finished on time means that I was sewing in the ends and steam blocking on my old bedroom floor at my parents house at 11pm Christmas eve, cursing how loud the steam shot was on my Mom's iron and waiting for my Dad to knock on the door and ask what that weird noise was.

I forgot to take photos, but will definitely get some when I see them for New Year's Eve.

I'm looking forward to my knitting routine returning to normal, and hope to have more to post again soon. I have been thinking a lot about this blog lately and the purpose of it. Really, I do it for myself. I must - I'm not sure anyone ever reads this anymore. I realized I started my first "Yarn Dreams" blog in 2003. Almost 7 years ago!! Is that possible?

(If you are reading this - leave a comment? Or send me a quick email? I'm such a terrible lurker myself, but I would love to know if anyone is still out there.)

Anyway, until next year, here is a scan of the front of the Christmas cards I made:

[caption id="attachment_328" align="aligncenter" width="210" caption="Card front"]Card front[/caption]

Take care, and see you in 2010.