Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy holidays!!!

Remember I'd reported that I'd doubled a strand of Trekking with some lace wt. merino? Well, the more I worked, the more I really didn't like it. And, if I don't like it, I can assure you that my daughter will hate it. Now, in the meantime, Mom had made a pair of socks for herself in Gypsy Girl's colorway called Lydia. ( to check that out) See those bright pinks and oranges. Very bright and cheery and I took one look and knew younger daughter would LOVE it. But I don't have enough for a whole pair. So I took that Knitpicks lace wt merino in a color called Lost Lake Heather and figured I could do toes and heels in Lydia. So I knit up the first sock. Just the heel and toe in Lydia. Yup, the combination is fabulous... except (isn't there always a "but"? ) without a cuff, this sock looks like it's for the Green Giant. It just looks wrong.

So I knit up a second sock and I added two single rows of Lydia in the cuff and then single rows every ten rows all the way down the sock. Contrasting the flourescent pink and orange against that dark heathered green.... they're beautiful. Now they're something my youngest will love and wear. Course, I have one sock without the stripes and one with. So I had to knit yet another sock to match the striping. I have about 20 rows to go (I'm finally down to the toebox on the last sock) and I'm done. It's taken me so long because I have to work at night and that dark heathered green is a real pain. Dark colors worked at night are not a good thing. Not unless you enjoy the inevitable headache...

Anyway, so, looking at the pic, the ragg-type socks are for Hubby. The cute little blue ones are for oldest daughter (with her preferred short cuff) and the green striped ones are for younger daughter. Last Christmas presents to be made and they're all done (with the last sock to be finished tonight when I get home from work). Whew! Lots of projects and I made it in time to get them all under the tree! Woohoo!!!!

Okay, more news. Mom brought me my kit for my Color Your Own Philosopher's Wool sweater. I was actually kinda surprised by the harshness of the wool itself, but they leave some of the lanolin in the wool. Yes, my hands are loving it, but it does make a rather hard fabric. So I had to swatch, swatch and swatch some more and I washed one of the swatches to see how it would feel after washing. Much softer. There will be better drape also once it's washed. The problem I had was getting my gauge right. They recommended a 3.5 mm (size 8) needle and getting 4.5 sts/inch. Uh huh. Man, they must knit some seriously TIGHT. I'm down to a size 4 needle and still getting at least 5 sts/inch. They also say in their directions that the fabric will "grow" once it's washed for another 2-4 inches. So I'm guesstimating the number of stitches. I started with the sleeve (as they recommended) and I keep trying it on as I go. Keeping it a bit snug so there's room to relax and bloom once it's washed.

I want it to fit nicely. How to explain? Not snug, but not hanging either. I don't like sweaters that are big enough to "flop" when I wear them. This isn't a sweater that I plan to hang to my knees and be worn with leggings. I want to wear a turtleneck under it and it be loose enough not to restrict movement. So I'm going to keep going with the sleeves and then I'll test for gauge in about ten different places before moving over to the body. But, so far, I'm loving it. The colors are muted (not as bright if your monitor shows vivid colors), but the combinations are coming out lovely. Another pic I'll have to load so you can see how it's all working together.

I also received the kit for my brother's sweater and I ordered their book "Fair Isle Simplified" and the directions for steeking are wonderful. They make it sound so simple that I actually can't wait to take a pair of scissors to a sweater for the first time... I'll probably still buy a cheap sweater in a consignment shop somewhere as a practice run, but I'm feeling very confident about the whole thing.

Have a wonderful holiday! Since no one ever leaves comments, I don't even know if anyone reads this short of me, but I wish the very best to everyone who actually stops in. I have a lot of projects lined up for next year and I can't wait to get started. I hope you have your list all ready to go.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Trans-Siberian et al...

No new picture this week even though I've accomplished LOTS of stuff. Well... more than I'd planned but surely less than I'd hoped...

I finished the socks in Gypsy Girl's Ice Cream Sundae. I did a pattern called Garden Trellis by Gail Dennis and they came out fabulous! (The reason I don't have a pic of those is because they jumped onto my feet for work one day and now they're in the wash. On feet or off, the next time they're free, they're posing. ) I also finished the pair of anklet style athletic socks for oldest daughter. Those also came out wonderful. Because I took a lace wt. yarn and doubled it, they're nice and cushy and should be very warm indeed. Then I got my Knitpicks shipment and proceeded to knit up the Hubby a pair of thick "woodsman's socks" from Elizabeth Zimmerman's book Knitting Around. I'd taken measurements of his feet a couple weeks ago and used those to get these socks started and finished. Wow, what a quick project in Knitpicks' Shamrock yarn. In fact, they knitted up so quickly and I have enough yarn left over that I'm tossing together a pair of mittens for me. More on that later....

Finally, I have a pair started for younger daughter. I took one strand of Trekking XXL and mixed it with a strand of merino lace wt. Funny, but if you saw it, you wouldn't think it would work. It looks really strange because the Trekking is mostly blue... er, sky blue with other colors worked in. I mixed it with a heathered green lace wt. It looks really odd until the striping of the XXL begins to kick in and, somehow, the whole thing is working. Another pic I have to take, but I was the extreme of lazy yesterday.

I never seem to get a day that I can just take off.... No getting dressed. No brushing my teeth. No chores. No expectations. No accomplishments.

So I remedied that and took the day off. I sat at my computer all day and played Bookworm Adventures. Oh boy, that was fun! Talk about testing your vocabulary and how many words can you come up with that use Q, X and J? LOL! Anyway, so I played all day. Then I went upstairs last night and started the mittens.

I was looking around for a pattern and then kinda thunked myself in the head and asked why I needed a pattern? After all the mittens I knitted when the girls were young and the pairs of fingerless mitts I just did not too long ago... Who needs a stinking pattern? You make a tube, you add a gusset for a thumb, knit some more tube and then decrease to finish it. What's so hard? So I started knitting and the first mitten is coming along fine.

The stupid part about all this is that I've been running around all week with cold hands. The temps really plummeted this week and driving has been a pain without any kind of hand covering. I have all this yarn sitting around my house, so why do I have cold hands? Because I've been concentrating on Christmas presents instead of whipping up a pair for myself to avoid the cold hands. Yup, I finally banged my head on the keyboard and knocked some sense into myself. I have two weeks to Christmas and I'm already 1/4 of the way through my last project. Yup, I can take a quick break and solve the cold hand problem before finishing that last project!

Anyway... I mentioned Trans-Siberian Orchestra. Yup, we've got tickets to the show tonight. We're sitting in the section right next to the stage. Can't wait! I've gone to the show the last two years and it's fabulous! Two years ago I took the girls and we sat down in the far corner from the stage. Last year, I added the Hubby to the crowd and we sat about halfway down the arena on the side. This year, we're sitting basically next to the stage. Does that mean next year we'll be on stage with the group? LOL!

All the news groups are predicting some really BAD weather for tonight. Freezing rain and sleet and snow and all kinds of messy stuff. I really, really don't want to blow off almost $300 worth of tickets because of a bit of precipitation, so please keep your fingers crossed for us. I don't want to look at the family and say, "Gee, the Christmas present that never happened..."

Yes, I have the DVD. We could toss it on the TV and watch, but it's not the same. Their concerts aren't even about the music even though the music is fabulous. What better way to generate the goodness of Christmas spirit than a concert with Christmas music? But what makes them so special is the show itself. The lights, the storyline and the special effects. Lights and flames and stars and snow. Trusses that move and lights that flash as fast as they can pick a song... It's an experience, plain and simple. And it's one that will carry you through the rest of the year. Not a concert that you walk out and think it's terrific but you can't remember much after a month or so. It's unlike any concert I've been to and I've been to well over 100 in my life.

I know their concerts are sold out by now, but if you haven't been to a show, get them on your list for next year. Unless you have someone who really HATES pounding drums and electric guitars, drag their butts to the show next year and see how their smile softens from generic "Yeah, yeah, let's be nice to each other" to genuine goodwill towards all men.

Worked a lot this week. Had the usual 40 hrs at the regular post and then worked the 2nd job on Mon and Thurs and added a basketball game on Wed night. Oh.... good news so far. Shelby interviewed to manage the women's basketball team on Thursday and it looks good for her to get the job. This will be terrific on her resume when she really begins to concentrate on her major, which is athletic training. She feels bad about not being able to always play with the pep band at the games, but I told her that team manager will do more for her resume than pep band. Now for the joke. (Isn't there always one? ) As a manager, she'll get a small break on her tuition at the school. This is what they offer for recompense for the time it takes to manage. Only she already has, basically, free tuition through my employee benefit and her scholarship. So when she mentioned that, they said maybe they can work out a deal to pay for some or all of her books. I don't see that happening, but I'll keep my fingers crossed on that one. She's got the free tuition and going to apply to become an RA (resident assistant) which could garner free housing. Now, if they could actually manage to pay for some of her books (which cost us approx $850 this past semester alone), she could practically go to the university for free. Even if they can't do the books (since the bookstore isn't run by the university, I don't see this happening--they're affiliated with, but not owned by), even if they can absorb her lab fees. Those were $200 this last semester and she's got another $250 this upcoming semester.

We'll see. Now to get the younger daughter as ambitious towards her education. She's looking at a college in Florida that offers no housing whatsoever... Yikes! But we still have another year before applications go out.

One more week of work and then I'm off for five weeks. I can't wait! I'd like the chance to get my house in order and do the final preparations for Christmas. Pull out all the presents and see what I have for everyone. Get them all wrapped and pretty and placed under the tree. Shop and cook and clean. And then start knitting sweaters. I have three sweaters planned.

The first two are both by Philosopher's Wool. First I'm going to do their basic Color Your Own for me. This way, if I screw it up, it's on my own project. After all, their designs are meant to be steeked and I've never steeked anything. This should be interesting. Someone on one of the yahoo groups mentioned that she bought a sweater at Salvation Army to try steeking before cutting into her own sweater. I might do that. HAven't decided on that yet until I read the instructions from PW. But, either way, if I screw it up, it'll be on my own sweater and not one I have planned for someone else.

Second sweater will be a combined Christmas/birthday present for my brother, Tom. It's an intermediate design called Timber Framed. I think I can handle that after several pairs of colorwork mitts. And I should have one steeked sweater under my belt by that time also. And both designs are going to be in the Fire colors. Think my family has a thing for red?

Lastly, I'm dying to try a Dale of Norway Olympic design. About 15 years ago, a local yarn shop was going out of business and I stocked up on patterns. I found a gorgeous pattern for the Albertville '92 design that the ski team wore for the Olympics. I've been holding it all these years and figure the PW sweaters can be my beginner steps to finally making this sweater. It'll probably take me until next winter to complete it because it's knitted on size 1 and 3 needles, but that could be my big project for next year. And if you think I'm not going to enter all these things in the Durham Fair next year, you're crazier than me... LOL! Am I stocking up on entries or what?

Well, have a wonderful week. One last week of work with lots of hours, but then I'll get five weeks of rest and relaxation. I've definitely earned some time with Bookwork Adventures this year...