Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Going slow

Random kitty photo because I don't have anything remotely knitterly interesting to share. Mason is our oldest and best behaved cat. Consequently, he doesn't usually do anything cute or funny that makes me take his picture. My middle son, ever the middle child, doesn't want anyone to feel excluded and asked me to take Mason's photo just because.

The reason I don't have much knitty type stuff to show off is that I hurt my wrists and arms knitting this weekend. Somehow, knitting my son's hat with the different size needles and worsted weight yarn I put stress on my joints. I tend to have problems with carpal tunnel and repetitive stress type injuries and I'm in the midst of a flare up now. The odd thing is my left arm is bothering me more than my right. I don't use my left hand for knitting so I'm not sure why it hurts so much.

I'm still knitting. A little. And a little at a time. I've put the hat aside but I do want to finish it. I've got the lining and the ear flaps knit and I'm just about ready to start the color chart. I'll just wait a bit.

I also cast on the Malamute yarn. I decided to go with a Cable Rib pattern from Favorite Socks. I had the hardest time coming up with a pattern for this yarn and I'm pretty sure this isn't the right pattern for this yarn. It's okay though and I've decided that okay is fine for now. Not everything has to be wonderful. I'm not sure what I feel about the yarn either. It's a merino/tencel blend and it feels sort of like cotton (which I really hate knitting with) but it has more give to it. I'm getting used to it the longer I knit with it and I'll make up my mind when I finish the first sock and can really try it on.

I'm here and I'm knitting but I'm just going slow.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

SP 10

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
I generally knit with wool or wool/nylon blends. I made a cashmere scarf this year and loved working with cashmere. I do not like working with cotton in any form.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
I have a zippered case that dh bought me years ago to store my needles in. It's not beautiful but it works.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I've been knitting for about 13 years. I learned to knit from a friend who worked at a yarn store and made 5 Christmas stockings for family that year. I would say that I'm an advanced intermediate knitter.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?
Yes but I'm working on updating it.

5. What's your favorite scent?
I really don't care for smelly things - they make my nose itchy. I do like very clean, natural scents.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I have quite a sweet tooth. My favorite candy is good dark chocolate.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I don't really do any other crafts besides knitting. I do not spin and do not want to learn. I do not crochet. I love to cook, bake and garden.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD)
I can handle MP3s. I like 70s folks singers like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, and Carly Simon (I know she's not really a folk singer but it's the same time period).

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I really like purple and red. I don't care for pastels. I like jewel tones and I'm open to different colors.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
I'm married with 3 sons. We have 3 cats.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
I wear mittens and scarves but the yarn needs to be very soft. I'm wimpy that way. I'd love a pair of hand knit mittens.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
I generally knit socks although I sometimes knit hats, scarves and mittens.

13. What are you knitting right now?
I just finished a pair of socks today and I'm working on a Norwegian Star hat for my 13 year old. I plan to cast on for another pair of socks tomorrow from Favorite Socks.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I do the vast majority of my knitting on Knit Picks circulars. I love them. I'd really like some 16" Addis in size 3, 4, 5 or 6 to make hats with. The Knit Picks circs don't come in 16".

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Yes, brand new this year and I love them both.

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
Oh, probably 6 years old. I decided earlier this year that I'm not going to finish it because I really hate knitting it.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
I love the 4th of July. It's a holiday with very little expectation. I love fireworks and cookouts and parades.

19. Is there anything that you collect?
No. Well, maybe cookbooks though I don't intend to collect them. I love cookbooks by Food Network cooks (I'll admit I really like Rachael Ray cookbooks and own them all even though Rachael annoys me).

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I don't subscribe to any knitting magazines because I prefer small projects most magazines focus on larger items. I don't own any of the Yarn Harlot books and those would make good reading. I'm more than happy to receive used books.
I love solid or semi solid yarns and would like to try a new indie dyer. My favorite online yarn store is The Loopy Ewe. I love Cherry Tree Hill and Mountain Colors Bearfoot. I don't care for self striping yarn.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I'd like someone to sit with me to go over how I make a short row heel. I'd also like to take a class to go over different cast on techniques.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Yes. I have size 10 feet. I generally make my socks about 6 or 7 inches tall with a 2.5 inch heel flap and 6.5 inches in the foot before toe decreases.

23. When is your birthday?
April 5th

Conwy socks finished

Conwy socks
Pattern: Conwy from Knitting on the Road
Yarn: J. Knits Boston
Needles: Size 1 Knit Picks circs
Modifications: I only decreased to 64 stitches at the gusset instead of 60 and kept the foot at 64 stitches until the toe.

These are the first socks I've ever knit with decreases in the leg. They fit like a dream. I could have made them an inch longer in the leg and been a little happier but they seemed like they were going to be too tight if I pulled them up higher. I liked the twining cables but was very glad to have my Knit Picks needles with their very sharp points or I might not have finished the pattern. I'm not too quick so I didn't memorize the pattern right away but once I did it flowed.

The J. Knits yarn was mostly a pleasure to work with. The color variations are wonderful - I love the dark blue that runs through this yarn. The yarn is very soft and very strong. It has nice spring to it. There were a few slubby areas and it had a tendency to be somewhat splitty (which is a definite disadvantage in this pattern).

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Recycled yarn

This morning, this
became this

I've had that lone sock in my knitting bag for years. I'm not even entirely sure what pattern or yarn the sock is. I do know that I loved it when I knit it but for some reason never knit its mate. It was a beautiful sock but it didn't fit. It was too big. Knowing I'd never knit it a partner I decided to just frog the whole thing. I'll have to see if I have a matching skein of yarn somewhere. If I can find a matching skein the yarn shall become socks. If I can't find a matching skein, I've decided the yarn will become a keyhole scarf.

I'm still knitting the Conwy sock. I'm making progress - almost through the gusset decreases on the second sock - but nothing photo worthy. I should have a finished second sock soon.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Project Spectrum cast

Adam's new cast

It's just been one of those kind of weeks. It started last weekend with two full days of Scout events. It's not that the events weren't fun but by the end of the weekend I was bone tired. On Monday morning we left the house bright and early to go skiing. I don't ski - I CAN ski but I choose not to - but the boys and my husband have been taking lessons and skiing on Mondays. Everyone wanted me to come with them so I could watch, take pictures and help out with the younger boys in the lodge. The day went fine, the boys were thrilled to have me there, and I managed to get in a good bit of knitting. My oldest son hurt his arm while snowboarding but he seemed fine so we plied him with Advil and an ace bandage and continued on.

Tuesday was a catch up day. I was trying to get everything done that I hadn't gotten done over the weekend and Monday. I also had a dentist appointment in the afternoon and my oldest son's Court of Honor for Boy Scouts that evening. Wednesday brought the Nor'Easter. We had a pleasant day at home and I was so grateful not to lose power. Yesterday I was up early because my middle son had his first orthodontist appointment in preparation for getting his braces next week. As I was checking email and drinking my morning tea the oldest son came to show me his "sprained wrist" from Monday. I could tell right away that this was not a sprain and spent the next couple of hours getting him set up with an orthopedic appointment. It turns out that oldest son broke his radius in that snowboarding fall on Monday. Finally, by 2:00 yesterday we had finished with the orthodontist, the orthopedist, the lab (for my bloodwork), and two separate trips to Target (oldest son's long sleeve shirts don't fit over the cast). I was so tired last night I just wanted to cry.

Today is another catch up day. I've got the laundry started and the boys moving. I need to clean the downstairs of the house and keep the boys going with schoolwork. I don't want to spend the weekend doing chores that could be done today. I'm looking forward to a productive day.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This poor Hairy Woodpecker was at the feeder off and on all morning. It was not fit for man nor beast outside today as the Nor'Easter pelted us with snow all day. We don't often see the Hairy Woodpecker. He seems much more shy than his friend, the Downy Woodpecker. I was able to snap a few photos but I wasn't actually going to go outside to try to get a better one.

I've been waiting for a large order from KnitPicks and when I checked the UPS website this morning it said my package was out for delivery. I wasn't holding my breath because of the storm but I did hold out a little hope. Sadly, when I just checked the website again I got this message: THE PACKAGE IS DELAYED DUE TO EMERGENCY CONDITIONS BEYOND UPS' CONTROL. I'm sure my package will be delivered tomorrow instead and there's nothing in it that I can't wait another day for but I'm pouting like a three year old.

I have so much to be thankful for - my husband stayed home today and worked from here instead of driving in terrible conditions, my boys all went out to play in the snow, husband picked up a treat for me for Valentine's Day and made waffles for breakfast, we have heat and electricity (knock on wood for that) and plenty to eat, we have a beautiful fire going in the fireplace and roast chicken in the oven. It's a good day even without my package.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

First Conwy finished

Conwy detail

My first Conwy sock was finished this morning. I really wanted to share a picture but the temperature outside right now is 1 degree F. It's cold. Really cold. The funky winter lighting and the cold prevented me from being able to get a good photo. I'll try again later. The close up shot showing the detail on the leg came out much better. I really like the way the yarn works with this pattern. I don't think I would have liked this pattern in a totally solid colored yarn.

Here's what I think about the yarn and pattern:
Yarn - J. Knits yarn is very soft but has good memory. It produces a fabric with good stitch definition and good elasticity. The colors are very nice. The yarn could have a tighter twist and had tendency to split. There were also a few slubby areas. I was very glad I used my KP needles with this pattern and yarn - the pointy tips were definitely a necessity.

Pattern - Conwy makes a beautiful sock with twining cables all the way from the top to the bottom. The cables were easy to make once I got the hang of them and the 4 row repeat was easy to memorize. I've never done a sock with calf shaping before and I like how this sock fits. I knit it an inch shorter than the pattern called for but an inch longer than my usual sock. I wasn't sure I was doing the decreases down the back of the leg properly as the pattern only shows you how to do 3 out of 6. In the end I think I did fine because the back of the leg looks good. Again, I'm glad I was using a multi tonal yarn. As I was doing the gussets I kept the foot a bit bigger than called for in the pattern because it would have been too snug otherwise (I kept the foot at 64 stitches instead of 60 as called for in the pattern). It fits very nicely this way. I also did my own regular round toe that I always do. I just like it and don't see any need to change it.

Now I just need to get the second sock on the needles.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mittens finished

Peek-a-boo mittens
Mittens knit with Cascade 220 in Heather Blue. Eric loves them.

When the boys were little I used to knit all their mittens. Cute little mittens with reindeer on them. Once I even knit black mittens with yellow lightning bolts for my Harry Potter loving son. As the boys got older, however, they started to prefer store bought ski mittens. I was very surprised by Eric's request for me to knit him a pair but I was happy to do so.

This is my first time knitting with Cascade 220. It's lovely yarn. I will certainly return to it again the next time I do some worsted weight knitting (which isn't very often). It's much less itchy than the Brown Sheep yarn I always used in the past for their mittens. The mitts were a quick knit and made for a happy boy. They are also my second completed project for Project Spectrum.

I have my third Project Spectrum knitting project on the needles now. A pair of Conwy socks using the J. Knits Boston yarn that I've shown here before. The yarn is wonderful and I'm enjoying the pattern. I got a little confused with the calf shaping decreases but I stayed with it and it all worked out in the end. I don't think this will be a quick knit but I like how they look so far.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Chocolate Glazed Peanut Butter Tart

A cashmere scarf wasn't the only thing I made my wonderful husband for his birthday. I also pulled together this little concoction. It's a Chocolate-Glazed Peanut Butter Tart from the Chocolate edition of The Best of Fine Cooking. My husband was very surprised and delighted. He gave it two thumbs up and a big A+.

Like Sheri, at The Loopy Ewe, I don't pretend to be a food stylist but I thought this was too pretty not to share.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Stealth scarf finished

Stealth Scarf

Today is my husband's birthday and it was 10 degrees F when he left for work. It was the perfect time for him to wear his new cashmere scarf. I don't have any modeled photos of the scarf but he wrapped it lovingly around his neck before leaving the house. I don't normally knit for him because while he's terribly supportive my my knitting habit he has no desire for hand knits himself. He seemed to love the scarf.

The pattern for the scarf is called Little Pyramids. The pattern was a simple 6 row pattern - actually, a 3 row pattern that repeated backwards. It doesn't roll at all on the side or top edges and is completely reversible. I ordered the cashmere from Sarah's Yarns and I was very happy with it. Her service was exceptional and her prices for cashmere are very, very good. I LOVED knitting with the cashmere - it was soft like butter but sturdy. It produced a fabric with wonderful drape and very good stitch definition. Maybe I'll even make a cashmere scarf for myself sometime.

This is my second completed project for Project Spectrum in the blue/gray/white triad. I have two more projects on the needles right now. I'm making mittens for my youngest with some Cascade 220 in a heathery blue and I decided to knit the Conwy socks with the J. Knits Boston. Clearly, these colors are not a stretch for me. I should have mitten pictures to share soon.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Super Bowl shopping

I'm almost embarrassed to show this photo but I feel like I'm hiding a dirty little secret. I briefly mentioned that I went to a Super Bowl sale on Saturday. I didn't mention that it was at my all time favorite LYS. I drove an hour to go to the sale on icy roads and let me just say it was well worth it. The store was not the least bit crowded and there was plenty of staff working to assist in finding things. I met a couple of nice people and helped one mother pick out a great birthday gift for her sock knitting daughter.

I knew how much money I had in my Paypal account and I was determined not to go crazy and spend more than I had. I was careful and deliberate in my selections - the yarn you see here took me almost and hour and a half to pick out. With all the yarn in the store 30% off it was tempting to buy everything but I remained calm.

Here's what I did buy:
Louet Gems Grape -no particular project in mind yet
Louet Gems Linen Gray - I don't know why they call it Linen Gray as it is a very tannish khaki color. When I bought new khaki pants recently I realized that I had no socks to match. I figured this very plain boring yarn could become a most excellent sock with unlimited pattern potential.
Dalegarn Falk in black and cream - destined to become a We Call Them Pirates Hat
Dalegarn Svale - for lining of said pirate hat
Rowan Calmer - a beautiful raspberry color destined to become a Shedir
Mountain Colors Bearfoot Berry - no particular pattern but some nice warm cozy socks

I also got an unpictured skein of Cascade 220 in a heather blue which is being turned into mittens for my youngest as we speak.

I won't be doing any shopping for awhile. I have more than enough yarn to keep me happy for a bit.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I did my duty

I finished my duty socks this morning. Jared is very happy with them (though proclaiming them a bit short) and they fit him well. Mostly, I think, he's happy that I took the time to knit socks for him. His love languages are gifts and time and these socks represent both.

These socks also count as my first Project Spectrum contribution as well as my February socks for the Sock a Month KAL. Woohoo!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Pass it on

I have this belief that when we let go of things we make room in our lives for new things to enter. When we let go of things we don't love, we make room for things we do love. It's just the way the universe works. I love to get rid of things and I'm happy to pass them along to new owners who will appreciate them.

This week I passed along a nice box of preschool toys which I gathered from various places in my house to a neighbor with preschool aged boys. The next day my middle son and I found a slew of wonderful books at Goodwill. As a homeschool mom, I'm always happy to buy new books but I'm kind of picky about what they read (not very picky but I'd like it to be better than Goosebumps). It thrills me to no end to find good books for low cost at Goodwill. So old preschool toys out, new books in (new used books which is even better to my recycling karmic thinking).

I have become the owner of so much yarny goodness this week that I hardly know where to start. Today I received my second yarn swap. It's wonderful Maine Mousse from Furryarns. I can't even begin to tell you how happy it makes me to trade something I didn't want and knew I'd never use, for something that I love and I know I'll use.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Swap yarn

Look at this beautiful yarn I received in a swap for a book I really didn't want.
Brooklyn Handspun Winter Breeze

Here is a close up of my son's favorite part.
Closeup Brooklyn Handspun Winter Breeze

The yarn is Winter Breeze by Brooklyn Handspun. I can't believe that someone parted with it. I don't have specific plans for it right now but I'm keeping it close to me. Last night my husband asked, "Why do you keep smelling that yarn?" "Because it smells good," I said while tossing him the yarn. He took a big sniff and admitted it smells good but he didn't get it. Muggle.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Project Spectrum Knitting Goals

Project Spectrum has officially begun and I hardly know where to start. After two pictureless posts in a row, I have plenty of photos to share today. It seems like a good time to go over my Project Spectrum knitting goals for the blue, gray, white triad. After two pictureless posts in a row, I have plenty to share today. Remember you can click on any photo for a larger image.

1. Finish the stealth scarf in time for my husband's birthday in 5 days. It now measures 53 inches and I'd like to get to 64 inches if I don't run out of yarn first.

Stealth Scarf

2. Finish Jared's Silja socks. I've got the first one complete and the second one just rows away from starting the heels. I'm having a good attitude about this duty knitting as Jared routinely checks my progress to tell me what a good job I'm doing.
Jared's PS Silja socks

3. Finish the barely started hat for Dulaan. I found this turquoise yarn in my stash. Although I never knit with bulky yarn and it hurts my hands if I knit with it for very long, I figured I could eek out a toddler hat. I'd like to complete one charity project for each PS triad.
Project Spectrum Dulaan Hat

4. Knit socks with these beautiful yarns. I've had enough of smelling them and touching them, I'd like to knit with them. I won't cast on with either, however, until numbers 1 and 2 above are completed. I still haven't decided what they'll be. The Yarn Pirate yarn may become Monkey socks or Conwy socks. Any thoughts? The J. Knits is tougher because I want a pattern that takes full advantage of the color - probably something cabley.
Yarn Pirate MalamuteJ. Knits Boston
5. Knit at least one of the socks for the current Nancy Bush KALs. I'm not really terribly interested in either but I'm considering the Gentlemen's Plain Winter Sock (pictured on the right). Maybe if I find the perfect yarn at the yarn store sale this weekend. If I don't find the perfect yarn, I'll just knit a different Nancy Bush sock.
Nancy Bush KALs for February/March