Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wow... another pic

Okay, maybe I should have taken pictures separately but that would require an expertise that's beyond me. I mean, I'd have to figure out how to get two pictures onto the page without squishing them together...

The green one is what I'm now calling the "shawl from hell" and it's finally off the needles. It's the Sarah Blanche shawl from Cheryl Oberle's book "Folk Shawls". Lovely, lovely and probably easy for anyone who doesn't use the tip of their finger to push the needle out from under the stitch.

I gew up knitting "American" or "throwing" my yarn. So when faced with rows that I'd have to do 720 YO's, I fell back into my comfort zone of knitting right-handed. Yes, I had to teach myself continental in order to do the colorwork on the mitts, but I didn't want my hands to fall off with each of those rows. So I threw 720 YO's and then would come back and use my left index finger to push the needle out from those 720 YO's. If you're diabetic, think about pricking yourself 720 times, getting a break for (at most) 6 rows and then doing it all over again. Yup, I can now attest that the Knitpicks Interchangeable needle set in metal has sharp tips...

So the lovely and wonderful shawl from hell is done. I used Knitpicks' Wool of the Andes in Forest Heather and combined it with their Alpaca Cloud in Moss Heather. I wanted to add that little bit of warmth that you'd get from anything alpaca considering there's a lot of holes in this thing.... At first, it was a weird combination and I wasn't sure it would work together, but the more I knitted (you think I was going to frog this thing!?!?! ), it came together and worked into a lovely piece. Now it's done and I hope to never have to repeat that one.

The burgundy is the Wool Peddler's Shawl from same book, same author. Now this was a wonderful treat to work on. Came together in one measly week. Again, done in Wool of the Andes, but I chose Cranberry. I know, I know. Red and it should be bright. But I wasn't sure if it was going to my mother-in-law, who wouldn't have batted an eye at Strawberry or Cherry Blossom, or my aunt-in-law, who's highly conservative. And it's a good thing I chose the Cranberry. I think I'm going to switch presents. The Wool Peddler's Shawl is smaller overall and Aunt Lois is smaller in stature than my MIL. My MIL is not tiny. She's around 5'10" and she's got the frame of a farmer... which works since she grew up on a farm. Good Italian farming stock is she... Now Aunt Lois used to be a lot bigger. Believe me, marrying into this family, I felt like the showcase midget. I was 5'3" and weighed all of 115 lbs. (Don't ask me my weight now or I'll have to hunt you down... )

Anyway, the whole point of this is that Aunt Lois is shrinking fast. She's now even smaller than me. Yes, she's on a race with my Mom as to who will disappear first. Mom started out smaller at around 4'11" when I was married, but she's only lost about an inch in the almost 20 years I've been married. Aunt Lois has to be down about 4" or 5". So she gets the shawl that's smaller and my MIL will get the Sarah Blanche because it's bigger. Logical choice. And, someday, when there's just a pair of shoes walking in my door, covered with a shawl, I'll know who it is by which shawl is draped over the laces.

Last thing to knit for Christmas is Hubby's socks. I started those last night. Man, they're big. This might take a while, but I still have four weeks or so to get them completed.

Then I have to order the Philosopher's Wool kit for my brother. He was up for the holidays and I had Mom take him onto the website to choose which color he'd like. I'm not giving him a choice for pattern. The Timber-Framed will look terrific on him. I just figured he'd choose either Neutrals or Woodland because they're neutral colors and would go with everything under the sun. Nope. He likes Fire. So next payday, I'll order the Timber-Framed in Fire for him. It will be combination Christmas/birthday present because I can pretty much guarantee that I won't have it done by Christmas, but I'm fairly certain I can finish it before the end of February. So, somewhere in that time, he'll get a nice package.

Thanksgiving was lovely. This year, for various reasons, it was just my family -- my Mom, my brother, his two sons and his oldest's girlfriend. Lots of food, good conversation and Christmas tunes in the background. Okay, so let's move on to the amusement. (You think I could get through any holiday without some kind of comedy occurring?!? )

Black Friday. I don't even like venturing outside the house, let alone within 14 miles of a mall. So oldest daughter asks if she can use my car to take herself, her sister and her sister's boyfriend to the mall for shopping. Hey, be my guest. I have a shawl to finish. So off they go. They disappear for hours and I crawl upstairs to work on said shawl and finally get it off the needles while watching some old classics on the DVD. Since this is a day of leftovers, I don't take note when the kids come back and oldest daughter is off and running again. Later that night, I send the dogs on their nightly reconnaisance mission in the yard and Lacey is barking like mad. It's 9:30 or so, so I go to check things out. This isn't your normal neighborhood gossip bark. This is "there's something in the yard and I don't like it" bark. So I'm looking back at the woods, hoping it's not a skunk because I don't want to deal with that this late at night and I see something lying in front of the garage.

Hmm... what is that?!?! It takes me a moment to figure it out. It's my front bumper. I glance around to see what's missing. My truck, that's what. My little Kia Sportage is missing, but my bumper is lying neat and tidy in front of the garage. So I call in the dog, go in to the Hubby and ask if there's something he'd like to tell me. He just smiles and tells me that older daughter had a bit of trouble negotiating the space near a column at the mall.

Long story made short (yeah, I know... too late ), I ask older daughter the next morning after she's parked my truck facing away so you can't see that the whole front is missing--she said her parking job wasn't deliberate and I reply, "uh huh." So I ask her why everyone in the house knows what happened except me. She just smiles sheepishly and says, "Hey, it could have been worse! It could have been my truck!"


I'll keep you posted if I allow her to live long enough to get those mitts....

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another pair of mitts...

This is the new pair to replace the pair that went MIA. A new design, taking different elements from different graphs in Lizbeth Upitis' book and putting them together. In fact, if you notice anything about them, let me know. If you compare to the original pair that I made (from my post listed on Oct 13th), I think this one moves the colors at a more pleasing gradation. In order, the school's colors are blue, gold and red is a last, not-very-well-known color. I added the white because the teams wear white shirts at home games... er, sometimes. But I thought the white gave balance to the others which can be so strong.
In the first design, I started with the red and blue and gradually worked to white before getting into the blue and yellow main section. IOW, a total turnabout from red/white to blue/yellow. This one changes one element with each design and ends up with the blue as primary "background", so I think it works better.
Anyway, those are done. So I have those, the mitts for youngest daughter and the shawl for my mother-in-law completed. I'm hoping to finish the shawl for Aunt Lois this week.
Then I went out last weekend and bought some Shetland to make Hubby a pair of socks. I took all kinds of measurements of his feet so I can work up a basic design that will fit. (My Mom also wants the measurements because she wants to make a pair of socks for my brother and his feet are almost the same as the DH, just a wee bit smaller - size 10 as opposed to a 10.5 - so I'll pass those over to Mom as soon as I work up the first sock to see if it fits correctly.) Hubby has always told me not to bother making him a pair of socks, but he gets so cold when he's out shoveling or plowing or -- God forbid -- has to do a tow in the middle of the night. This wool is a bit rough, so I'll warn him not to wear them right next to his skin, but they should keep him nice and toasty when he's outside in the elements if he wears them as an oversock.
Course, if I do this, I might let loose a monster. He never wanted to go to a hockey game either. Now I can't leave him home...
I'm going to try to post again tomorrow. I have a sock that I'm working on and it's absolutely delicious. I found a free pattern called Garden Trellis and I'm making it up in Gypsy Girl's Ice Cream Sundae colorway ( This is beyond gorgeous. Another example of perfect yarn with perfect pattern. I did 8 pattern repeats and I'm curious if I'll have enough yarn for the foot. So I ran a lifeline at the end of pattern 7, but we'll see. I'm pretty sure I'll have enough, but you never know.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

New Pics...

Here they are! I'm doing this because I highly doubt that youngest daughter reads my blog. I know my Mom does, but I doubt my kids wonder what I'm up to or what I'm working on. Though the youngest flirts with knitting, she's more interested in the concept of creating and designing things than actually making them...

Anyway, these are the mitts she's getting for Christmas. I took graph #92 (I believe) from Lizbeth Upitis' book on Latvian mittens and adapted it to the fingerless design. I added the thumb gusset in plain purple and then added the braiding at the top of the gusset and the top of the hand for stability. I'd love to say that I'd planned it perfectly to get the braid at the top of the thumb gusset, but it was sheer luck that the bind off row coincided with a plain purple row in the actual hand design.

These still have to be washed and blocked, but I'm going to do all the projects at once on some weekend (probably after Thanksgiving while the rest of the world is doing the mall crawl and I avoid it like the plague ). I plan to cover my bed in towels and pin everything down for an entire day to give them a chance to dry. It helps that I have an overhead fan to keep the air circulating nicely. But I'll close the door (and prop it to keep kitties and dogs from saying "Ooooooo! New bedcover to rub all over!!!!" ).

Let's see if I can drop a second picture down here or if it will rise to the top of the page.... Oh well, it's also at the top of the page, but it's obviously the one on the right. Cherry Tree Hill in Indian Summer done in Jeannie Townsend's Cascading Leaves pattern. I don't think the pattern shows as much as I'd like, but I like the symmetry of Indian Summer and Cascading Leaves... I would never think of purple as an "Indian Summer" color, but the colorway is gorgeous. The bronzes and coppers and browns with the purple were simply too pretty to leave orphaned at the store.

I don't know what it is, but I'm in a "brown" mood lately. Not one of my favorite colors, which is dumb because it really does go with everything, but I've been knitting a lot with brown lately. I tried the magic loop method for the first time and did a headband in an Icelandic design from Dale's 92 Albertville flyer in brown, red, orange and peach with two single lines of sky blue. Came out really nice. Once I get that inside seam put together, that'll be another present for oldest daughter.

I also bought some yarn from Cathi at in her Gypsy Girl colorway of Cattails. Oh, what rich colors!!! My monitor didn't do this colorway justice. Course, I knew it would be better in person than on the computer, so that's why I ordered it and I certainly wasn't disappointed. I can't wait to cast that on.

But first I have to finish more projects. I'm into the second repeat of the pattern on Aunt Lois' dropped garter stitch shawl. It's slow work because there are two dropped stitch rows for every 12 rows of simple garter. All those yarn overs take time. I might end up taking that one to work with me so I can make some noticeable progress. After all, I knitted up my mother-in-law's shawl (the Wool Peddler's Shawl) in one week. I could probably manage this one in a week also, but I haven't carried it with me yet. Maybe this week once I finish the second pair of fingerless mitts.

Would probably be a good idea also. The second pair are for oldest daughter to replace the pair I'd made her that were either lost or stolen. She saw the first pair and I want these to be a surprise. I took several elements from the graphs in Upitis' book and combined them for my own, switching out the colors hopefully in a logical progression. I'm only into the third color change so I don't know yet how the whole project will work yet, but my fingers are crossed. So far, so good.

Let's see what else is new...

I also ordered fiber from Cathi at . Some gorgeous merino in a colorway called Daffodil. I've been trying to spin with merino/tencel and wondering why I was having some trouble. Damn stuff was slippery as all get out. Well.... Duh! It's got tencel in it. So I ordered plain merino to see if I could handle it easier. I was thinking of taking the colorway and plying it with a solid, so I ordered another 4 oz. of her solid color "Spice", thinking the contrast would work nicely. She was out of Spice. So she wrote and asked if I had a second color choice and I asked her to pick one. Her sense of color with her hand-dying is sooooo exquisite that I totally trust her judgement. And she sent me 4 oz. of the most gorgeous Ruby. Wow! I know I received it a week ago, but I haven't been able to touch it. Too much work and other obligations that kept me from being home much in the last ten days. But today is definitely a laundry and spinning day and my fingers are itching already. (I can't forget the laundry, though, or I won't have underwear to wear tomorrow... I bet you'll sleep better tonight knowing this stuff... LOL!)

I also got smart. I received my check for October on the second part-time job and I've decided that some of that money will go towards a "cleaning lady". A friend of mine's daughter is trying to save to buy a nice used car and she hires out for $15/hour. Yes, I did do some cleaning yesterday, but I'd much rather pay someone to do it for me and spend my time spinning, so I've hired her to come over and help clean and organize my mess. Her mom says she's wonderful and I'm more than happy to contribute to her car fund if she's willing to do the stuff I can't stand doing. (Give me a yard and I'll work for hours and hours. Bring me inside and I resent every single moment with a sponge or a broom in my hand... )

Oh, btw, remember I was trying to write for Harlequin for their new Spice Briefs line? Well, they don't like my stuff. So to heck with them. I'm going to investigate more with my knitting and spinning. I'm thinking of going for the Masters Certification with The Knitting Guild of America. I heard an interview with Ann Budd on the Knitpicks podcast and she says that she wouldn't recommend it for everyone because it's very time consuming and very detailed. She actually did get her certification and she said she learned a lot, though she doesn't use a lot of the new techniques with the kind of designing she does.

I was thinking that it might be something I could look for. Lord knows, I have the time at work. Maybe if I can get through some of the projects I have lined up, it might be worth it. Especially if I want to teach knitting. I think I'd make a good teacher. And I'd learn more new techniques and might find a way to incorporate new ones into what I'm already doing. I can already cast on in about six different ways, though I'd like to learn more ways to bind off. I can sew a seam so it's practically invisible (though no sewing at all is even more desirable... ). I can set in a sleeve and pick up stitches. Increase and decrease. Why not get the certification to go with it? It's a thought. I'd love to hear opinions on this.

Okay, off to start more laundry and hop in the shower. Have my "cleaning girl" coming today and have roving in the other room that's tired of being ignored. Have a wonderful week!