Thursday, December 29, 2005

Fuzzy Felted (and Feline) Frivolity

Presenting.... the felted fuzzy feet. As you can see, there's still quite a bit of stitch definition here. They only spent about 10 minutes in the super hot water, and if I'd left them in any longer, they wouldn't fit me. Therefore, I'm supremely happy with the way they are. They're comfy and soft and I've already used them to keep my tootsies toasty.

The felted Tychus, as modeled by my Christmapotamus. This one lost almost all stitch definition in the four or five rounds through the heavy agitation cycles. I probably left it in for one cycle too long, but who's counting? When this sucker was still wet, it weighed about 80 pounds. Now that it's dry, it's of course not as heavy, but it's also going to take one bruiser of a kid to be able to support this on his head. From what I hear, though, my nephew just might be that bruiser, so after I show off the hat at the yarn store, Calvin might just get a new hat. I can't really tell if it's a this-winter hat or a next-winter hat. I'm no good with baby head sizes.

The felted pumpkin also lost most of its stitch definition; it went through as many rounds as the Tychus hat. I wasn't very concerned about size for the pumpkin, just that it felt as much as possible. I haven't taken any pictures of it yet, because I still haven't put it all together. I need to find the fiberfill and get my act together, I know, but there are much more important things going on. (Like, I'm working on the comeback project of the year. More details later. You'll be so proud of me. Any guesses? Put them in the comments. If you're the first one to get it right, you get a prize*. Brenda, you're disqualified because I already told you about it. Besides, you get prizes all the time.)

Yesterday I had a dog blog, today it's a kitty ditty. Feline frivolity that is, black gold, Texas tea... Ahem.

I have this wonderful bench just inside my front door that used to belong to my grandmother. It's one of the two pieces of furniture that I own that I'm actually proud of. Well, it's currently the favorite spot for my kids. They switch sleeping spots every few weeks, and when I came back from Christmas, this was their new place. Remember when they were up on the cat-pole-platform and kept falling off? Well, now Krusty has a new trick she'd (rather not) like me to share.

Sometimes she does try to balance her fat little body on that arm rest, but here she's not climbing up, not climbing down, not doing anything but resting. In fact, I think she fell asleep like this shortly after I finished taking her picture and mocking her. She's just got her little front arms up on the arm rest and her little back tootsies standing on the bench itself. This cracks me up.

I probably took half a dozen pictures of her like this, and she didn't budge. Apparently this is very comfortable for her. I was sneaking around trying to be quiet and not startle her, but she didn't care. This is why I feel like I have her full permission to share this highly unusual pose with the world. If she doesn't like it, she can just climb onto her giant vomit powered spaceship and go back to her home planet.

Carrot got jealous of all the attention and decided to get in on the action by lending some (moral?) support.

*This is my blog's first contest! The comeback project has been both mentioned and photographed in this blog in the past. Everyone is welcome to participate!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Shoulder Sweater Success

First of all, I had a marvelous Christmas. It was spent with Mom, Dad, Midget, Aunt Karyl Lynn, and Mikey. There was SO much good food, a sprinkling of snow, plenty of presents, and a ton of love and hugs. I really enjoyed a relaxing time at my parents' house.

And the shoulder sweater? It was a success!
I'm pretty sure that after he opened it, he only took it off once to change his shirt underneath, and otherwise kept the sweater on constantly while I was home. One of the things that happened during the conditioner bath was that the sleeve got significantly longer. When I pointed that out to Dad, he said, "That's okay, sometimes my hand gets cold, too!" He's so supportive. He really likes it, and I think it looks pretty good on him, too. Photo credit goes to my mom, who got a brand new Kodak EasyShare digital camera and printer dock from Santa. This is one of her very first pictures using her new camera.

One of the most entertaining parts of Christmas day was when Midget got her presents. Midget is a beautiful Shih Tzu royalty whose dominion includes the entirety of my parents' property. I had gotten her two little rope toys at Target for Christmas, and when it was her turn to open her present, I handed the package to Dad, told him it was for Midget, and asked if he wanted to help her open it. As soon as she heard it was for her, she left the tissue paper she had been shredding on the floor and ran over, grabbed the package out of his hand, and carried it off to the middle of the floor. The following ensued:

The pouncing begins.

Pausing for a wrapping paper snack.

Ripping off the ends...

...and enjoying the spoils! Since she went for the white rope first, I thought I'd show Mom and Dad the black one, but as soon as I went to pick it up, she ran over, grabbed it out of my hand, went back and laid on the white one while she chewed on the black one. I guess she showed me! Later in the day, she opened her own present from Aunt Karyl Lynn, too, and proceeded to pull green fuzzies from her new squeaky toy. Silly pooch.

For anyone keeping track, I did finish my
Fuzzy Feet in time to felt them. I also felted the Tychus hat and my Knitty pumpkin. (Wow, I just now realized that all three of those things are from Knitty. Coolies.) Anyway, I keep forgetting to take pictures, so I'll try to do that tonight and share the fuzzy felted goodness with you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Picture Pages, Sort Of

I promised pictures today, and I won't disappoint you. I finished the shoulder sweater last night, and even gave it a conditioner bath to soften the fibers. I'm hoping that the resulting softer, looser fibers won't make it too loose to be worth it. Maybe a few minutes in the dryer will help. I guess we'll find out on Christmas!

This is really the best way to display it, even though you can't tell what it is when it's folded up like this. The sleeve is basically folded into thirds and tucked into the neck. I wasn't sure if I'd like the stripes at the cast off of the neck, but now I think I do.

This is not an easy sucker to get a picture of, especially when you're playing both model and photographer. Maybe Dad will let me take a picture of him wearing it. I'm assuming it will look much different (and hopefully much better) on him, as we vary in size. I'm really eager to find out if it works, and if it's what he was hoping for. Think warm thoughts, everyone!

The only thing I'd really like to finish before Christmas at this point is my second fuzzy foot, in order to felt them while I'm at my parents' house. Please note that this is a "like to finish" not a "need to finish" project. I have a couple other things to felt, too... my Knitty pumpkin and the brown and red Tychus hat that was in the store as a sample. It should felt really nicely and turn out really cool. Maybe I'll get it small enough for Calvin. We shall see.

There probably won't be any more posts until after Christmas, so... happy knitting to all, and to all a good night!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Why It's Always Worth It To Knit For Babies

Enough said.

(Only four more inches to go on the shoulder sweater. Pictures tomorrow when it's DONE!!! Oh, and you can get TWO snowflakes out of one ball of angora, instead of three snowflakes out of two balls like I originally thought. Two snowflakes down, two to go.)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mind Like a Drunken Monkey

I'm excited to be able to share with you some gems from recent web searches that have led people to this blog. There have been plenty of searches for "drunken monkey clothes" and "monkey knitting patterns", but I especially liked how these were worded:

"How to Learn Drunken Monkey"
(Umm, drink a lot, then act like a monkey. Who would be able to translate anyway?)

"drunken aunt and nephew"
(Calvin? A lush? Who knew.)

"mind like a drunken monkey"
(Welcome to my world, baby.)

"show me a drunken monkey"
(...and I'll show you some poo-covered walls.)

The Christmas knitting goes well. I cast on for the neck last night and got about an inch (out of 8) finished. I have more knitting time tonight, and Wednesday night, etc. And as I told Brenda, I have plenty of time.

For those of you still looking for monkey knitting patterns, here are two of my favorites:
Mr. Dangly and Monty the Monkey

Monday, December 19, 2005

Oh, Me of Little Faith

Please observe:
The Shoulder Sweater. *angels sing*

You're right, it's still on the needles. But I want you to look at some important benchmarks.

1. This is where I picked up while attending a Christmas party Friday night. (The party was at my manager's house. I wasn't the only one knitting.) I probably accomplished three or four inches while I was there. I know this is where I started because there was a knot in the skein at this point. I hate that.

2. This is where I attached the second ball of gray yarn. The black stripes, by the way, look cool when the sleeve is not on my arm. The black stripes look too skinny and dorky when the sleeve is on my arm. I am hoping that my dad's not-quite-as-buff arm will not make the stripes look skinny and dorky.

3. This is where I currently stand. I am ready to add the neck piece which will hopefully hold the thing on in order to keep his shoulder covered. I must admit, the ribbing and the wool make this an incredibly warm sleeve. I really hope Dad likes it. I hope even more that it will serve the purpose for which it was requested. And I hope it's not too scratchy for him.

Frankly, I'm shocked that I'm this far along. So is Mom, who mocked me incessantly last night on the phone. She didn't even believe I was this far along. She'd better read my blog today.

Saturday I worked in the yarn store. I bought some 100% French Angora and made this:
I should have enough to make two more of them. My mother thinks I'm not going to have time. Maybe she's trying to reverse-psychology me. (I have special permission from the Board of Verbology to use "reverse-psychology" as a verb. Leave me alone.)

I also worked on this at the store. It's the cuff for my first glove. This Trekking is awesome... I can't really tell as I'm knitting where one stripe ends and the next begins, but when I look back at what I've knitted, the stripes are fairly obvious. I'm pretty sure that's because at least two strands of color go from one stripe to the next. It's simply beautiful yarn, although the more I work with it, the less brown I see, and the more blacks and purples and blues and tans. I still think they will match my coat.

Today has been a good day for office gifts. I got a really cool project bag and a ball of wool/recycled silk from Kimmy, a neat-o frame decorated with buttons, tiny scissors, and a tape measure bow from Kate, and candles and the most faboo t-shirt from Leslie. I want to wear it every day for the rest of my life. Wouldn't you?

Friday, December 16, 2005

Look At This

First, look at this.

Okay, now look at this.

This is Jessica. You may remember her from the October knitting party. She is kicking major bootie on that blue scarf (she's finished an entire ball of Paton's wool and learned how to add on the second ball today), and she just started that purple one yesterday! Brand-spanking-new knitters who have the Christmas knitting crazies just crack me up. But isn't she doing wonderfully? I am so proud and impressed. She has been bringing in the blue scarf to show off her progress for the past week or so. I simply love it. Keep up the fantastic work, Jessica!

In other, unrelated news, congratulations to
my brother on his new blog title and format. Never having experienced such a transformation, I can only assume that this is a momentus event in his blog life, and therefore I can only heap happiness and well wishes upon him in this "significant", if currently-content-lacking endeavor. I hope this will greatly relieve your psychological pressure, brother.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

So Proud

Given my past history of knitter's ADD and the vast number of distractions and alternate activities that could be taking up my time these days, I must confess how proud I am of my single-minded purpose this holiday season: finishing dad's shoulder sweater.

I haven't let myself get carried away with that snowflake pattern, and I certainly haven't used any leftover sock yarn just to see "how that snowflake might work up" with it.

Any yarn in my stash must wait, especially since I bought it a while ago because it was absolutely stunning, and didn't really have a plan in mind for it. In fact, that will be the stuff that's easiest to avoid; I certainly wouldn't go looking for a new pattern to try with it during this incredibly pressed knitting season.

And I certainly wouldn't cast on any new projects, especially not any new projects meant for myself. Sure, I need gloves that will match my beautiful brown wool winter coat, but that can wait until after Christmas. In fact, the new year will provide a wonderful opportunity to search for the appropriate yarn, and then start the gloves. They will be my beautiful 2006 gloves!

It has been difficult, but it has been worth it. Every day, inches upon inches are completed on the shoulder sweater, and every picture I take shows the immense progress that has been done. The blood, sweat, and tears will carry me through, of this I am confident.

Monday, December 12, 2005

One Flake at a Time

This snowflake, knit from some random thin cotton I had in my house, from the very first pattern I've actually used from my pattern-a-day calendar, took me about an hour and a half to finish. Eureka! Christmas gifts for those for whom I had no idea what to give!

This is Christmas Corner. This is the only spot in my apartment (except for this wall) where there is Christmas cheer to be found. I took this picture for Brenda, who loves Christmas trees, and also, I suspect, the goodies found underneath/next to/near/beside them. Do you see that empty spot on the piano next to the big boxes on the left? I took this picture in a rare moment when there was no cat sitting there. Apparently I only clean off surfaces so that cats can sit there.

I finished four sewing projects this weekend. They are so finished, that if you look hard enough in the above Christmas picture, you can see them all wrapped up in boxes already. Do you see them?

I also worked diligently on my father's shoulder sweater. This *will* be done for Christmas. I'm not quite to the elbow yet, but it seems to be going quickly. I'm bummed that I had to restart it, but I think this time it will be much nicer than whatever stuff I was trying to do last time. This is one of those situations where it's very helpful to have an actual pattern.

Lastly, here is my newly reorganized Knitting Corner. I love to reorganize Knitting Corner. Especially when I should actually be knitting. Isn't Knitting Corner so pretty?

Friday, December 9, 2005

Don't Mock the White Death

The first half of the prediction came true. We closed the office shortly after yesterday's post, and it took me an hour and 20 minutes to make the 20 mile commute home. Most of that time was spent less than three miles from my apartment. I was lucky, however. The average time for the after-work commuter yesterday was between three and four hours. This picture was taken out the back door of my apartment building. There's usually a lake there, by the way. Unfortunately, the second half of the prediction didn't come to pass, so I'm back at work today, even though most schools are closed. I suppose I'm happy the roads are clear(er).

I missed out on a trip to Joy's house last night for dinner and crafting because of the weather, and when I told Brenda about it, she said she had called the white death upon us because she's jealous of when Joy and I spend time together. I thought that was pretty rude of her. I mean, if she hadn't moved to Tennessee, we wouldn't have this problem. Anyway, the kids watched me straighten* the living room and cut some fabric and sew some stuff last night while the snow glistened happily outside. They look utterly thrilled in the picture, no? Don't worry, they aren't about to kill me, they had just woken up. Silly fluffballs.

(*By "straighten", I mean, "move stuff out of the way so I can put more stuff there.")

Anyway, there should be some significant house cleaning** over the weekend, plus some more sewing, plus some significant knitting progress, enough so that I should have plenty to show you (maybe) on Monday. Cross your fingers! (Okay, now you can uncross them, because I know you can't knit with crossed fingers. Silly.)

(**By "cleaning", I mean, "put most of the stuff away where it belongs so that I can actually walk through the house without tripping over stuff and inventing new dancing/jumping moves.")

Thursday, December 8, 2005

The White Death Cometh

So I guess there are a few benefits to having inconsiderate neighbors and crappy apartment laundry facilities. Currently, only one of the two dryers in the building is working, and since it takes two go-rounds in the dryer to get clothes to an actual "dry" state, and each go-round takes approximately 45 minutes, and two other apartment dwellers were using the dryer before me, and one of them couldn't figure out that they actually needed to take their clothes OUT of the dryer once they were dry... I got to stay up until about 2:30am finishing my laundry. I would have gone to bed earlier, but due to incredible planning on my part, all of my bed accoutrements were the last to go in the dryer. (Everything had to be washed, since Carrot left me a little present on the bed during the day yesterday.)

So what about that is the benefit, you say? All of that extra time was used for knitting, of course! I got quite a bit accomplished last night. I made another 11
button snowmen, finished my super secret cabling project, and worked on my dad's shoulder sweater. Funny thing, that. I decided to re-start the sweater, based strongly on a pattern in this book. I thought I wasn't going to have to start over, but what I had so far was way off in terms of stitch count, and I think this will work better. I started trying to figure out exactly how many inches I needed to knit on it every day in order to finish it by Christmas, and since I'm not entirely sure I can knit that much every day (on one project!! every day!!), I'm not going to tell you how much I have to do every day, I'm just going to get it done. I can do it. Honest. It's the only thing I absolutely HAVE to have knitted for Christmas. You know, since the cable thing is done.

They're predicting a big snow storm for this afternoon and overnight, and I'm really hoping they'll have to close the office tomorrow so I can stay home for some extra quality knitting time. Chances of this actually happening? Probably pretty low. But one can always hope, can't one?

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Not A Cat Blog

Remember this yarn? This beautiful Cherry Tree Hill sock yarn in these gorgeous autumn colors that was to become a beautiful pair of Jaywalker socks for yours truly? Remember how the sock was so gorgeous? This beautiful yarn that teased me and taunted me and made me believe that it was my new best friend?

Well, the original sock and two other attempts at sock-making have been frogged, and the yarn is back in a tight little ball and it is in my bag and it will stay there and it will think about what it has done. And it will sit and it will think and it will stay there until such time that I determine it has had enough time, and only then will I allow it to come out and play again. Bad yarn.


Once upon a time I changed a purl stitch into a knit stitch by dropping all the stitches in the rows above the mistake, then picking them up the correct way all the way back up. This feat made me feel like good ol' Leo in Titanic: "I'm the king of the world!" Well, I have a little cabling project that I've been puffing along with since the weekend, and last night I realized that about three rows back, I twisted that one cable the wrong way. Alas and alack, what to do? Attempt to frog the last three rows and try to get all the cable stitches back on the needle in the right order, or drop those four stitches and try to pick them back up with the cable twisting the correct way? Right. Definitely the latter.

No pictures, and no documentary of how I did it. The project is a gift. But I was successful in my attempt, even though I did trap my working yarn behind one of the columns of stitches in the process and had to take that column out again, untrap the yarn, and pick that column back up again. This was tougher than dropping all the stitches in a straight rib and picking them back up, so I feel like I've reached another milestone. Plus last night I was able to help a lady at the yarn store with her sock by diagnosing the problem, helping her undo the work back to where the problem started, and teaching her how to do it correctly. These things excite me. I know I still don't know everything, but I love being knowledgable enough to fix my own mistakes and help other people find and fix their own.


Okay, so yesterday I talked about Krusty sleeping up on that platform, remember? (If you don't, you can just scroll down, you know.) Anyway, last night she made an amazing leap from the top platform to the arm of the couch in order to get to her dinner. I told her I was impressed. I told her it was an amazing leap for a five year old cat. She said, "Mrowr!!" I said, "Okay, okay! Four and a half years!" Sheesh. I didn't know she was so sensitive.

Anyway, I know this is a knitting blog and not a cat blog, but I was fortunate to snap this picture last night. Krusty was sleeping on the platform again,
and when I glanced up from my knitting, this is what I saw. Her head and one leg were hanging off the side of the platform... I don't know how she wasn't falling off. I snapped this picture and one other, and about 10 seconds later, she woke up enough to pull herself back up and fall asleep again. This picture cracks me up.

P.B. My friends are oh-so-helpful in reminding me exactly how much time that 20, no, 19 days is. Thank you, friends. You're SO helpful. Helpful helpful helpful.

Monday, December 5, 2005

20 Days

I stopped at Hancock Fabrics on Saturday (after a noon meeting and then a baby shower) and picked up some gift essentials. That's the stinky thing about wanting all your friends and loved ones to read your blog... when gift-giving time comes, you have less and less you can actually share on the blog so that no surprises are ruined.

Anywho, you'll be pleased to note that I didn't buy any yarn at HF. I bought some fabric and some felt and some buttons. A crazy amount of buttons, in fact. Why? Well, I found the cutest idea in my latest
Martha Stewart: Kids magazine.

Here's my little troupe of snowman ornaments, made from buttons, pipe cleaners, ribbon, and the tiniest isoceles triangles of orange felt. I was going to make some Santas, too, but that would have involved a lot more button buying, so I stuck with the snowmen. I'm going to give these out as office presents this year with cards, and they're so fun and easy to make, I may include them with other gifts, too. I ran out of black buttons, though, so I'll have to pick up some more before I can add more to this handsome little group. Sometimes I think the orange carrot noses look sort of like duck beaks, but I just blink my eyes, twinkle my nose and toss some fairy dust, and they're back to carrot noses.

The kids re-found the top of their tower yesterday. Carrot found it first, but Krusty was more committed to it. She kept falling asleep last night and slipping off the side of the platform, which led to some close calls and much thankfulness for sharp claws to pull her back up when she fell. I was impressed with her ability to wake up fast enough to catch herself, although I must admit to some giggling each time it happened. She slept up there all night, but Carrot slept right next to my pillow.

I keep telling people that I'm not going to abuse myself into knitting like crazy for Christmas this year, but I keep forgetting that I do actually have a few projects that NEED to be finished by then. One is my father's shoulder sweater, which I haven't worked on since early September. Another is a baby sweater for the granddaughter of the people who live up the street from my parents, and the last is a super-secret-surprise project that will be a Christmas gift. Plus I need to get my other Fuzzy Foot done before Christmas so I can take them home for felting. And that doesn't even include the sewing projects that I have planned as Christmas gifts. So in trying to convince myself (and others) that I have plenty of time to get stuff done, I'm really just in denial and I need to get myself in gear.

There's still 20 days left. I mean, come on... 20 days! That's a lot. Right?

Thursday, December 1, 2005

Annie Grook, Take Two

After weeks of careful planning about what knitting projects I'd take with me over Thanksgiving, I must confess that very little actual knitting took place. I had a good exuse, though.

Meet Calvin Kiley. He is, of course, adorable and most precious. Born Wednesday, November 23, 2005, he was 21" and 8 pounds 12 ounces. Check out my brother's blog for more details and pictures. Mom and I were incredibly fortunate to have the chance to go visit this past weekend, and even more fortunate that Calvin showed up just in time.

We were excited to see Maggie, too, and she was eager to show off all of her brand new big sister skills. We had tea parties and took walks and danced and sang and read books and played hide-and-seek (Have you ever played hide-and-seek with a three year old? It's hilarious.) and took naps and played with dolls and toys and had an all around fantastic time.

Remember those teaser pics from last week? Here are the full objects:
Here's Peter Rabbit, made from the "knit a square, make a bunny" pattern found here. The vest came from the bunny in Nursery Knits by Debbie Bliss, and just happened to fit this bunny. Happiness.

This is the other project: a baby quilt made with Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny fabric. These two projects made up 2/3 of Maggie's big sister gift, the other third being a bit Peter Rabbit picture book, which Grandma read multiple times while Maggie looked for her bunny's brass button, and checked out the bunnies on the quilt. A couple days later, Maggie got to show off her Peter Rabbit bowl and mug when we had oatmeal and hot chocolate for breakfast.

I got to spend time with Anthony and his family over the weekend, too. We had the meeting of the moms, and various combinations of both families got together for dinner two different times. Anthony got a digital camera over the weekend, so he was busy taking pictures of everything. We had fried mushrooms at
Kidd Valley Saturday night, I met some of his extended family, hung out with his mom and siblings, and we even got to do some sight seeing downtown on Monday afternoon.

I still have a cuff-down vs. toe-up debate to discuss for my friend Joy, that I promise I haven't forgotten about. I also have stacks of stuff looming on my desk, so I'd better get to it. Knitting content forthcoming, I promise.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Who It Is?!*

So Monday night I'm watching the Sci-Fi Monday night Stargate SG-1 marathon, when an episode I'd never seen before came on. The episode is "Avenger 2.0", where the "brilliant" Dr. Felger designs a virus to target certain stargates in order to disable them. The plan backfires when the virus spreads to the entire stargate system, rendering them all unusable and stranding several Stargate Command teams off world.

This Dr. Felger character had been in one other Stargate SG-1 episode that I had seen, where along with two other scientists, he helps to rescue SG-1 from the Jaffa that had captured them. So I recognized him from that other episode, but the more I watched the show, the more I felt I recognized him from somewhere else. I can typically make these kinds of connections, but I can't always figure out what the specific connection is.

This time, however, I was right on it. It didn't even take me until the end of the episode to figure out where I'd seen him before. (Actually, it was a lot of his movements and voice inflections that tipped me off.)

Dr. Felger is...

Harold Green from The Red Green Show!

Both characters are played by the actor Patrick McKenna. Sorry for revealing all this nerdiness, but I was very excited to make the connection, especially with how much I enjoy each of the two shows.

*The title of today's post relates not only to this ever-so-intriguing information about Patrick McKenna, but it also relates to the Mr. Robinson sketch by Eddie Murphy on SNL, where he answers the door by yelling, "WHO IT IS???" Heh.


I have actually finished a couple of things this week, but they cannot be revealed in their ultimate fullness until next week. So here are a couple of teaser pictures, and you can make up your own mind based on what you see.

Other than that, I've been trying to figure out what to pack for the Thanksgiving trip. Clearly the knitting projects take first precedence. I've narrowed it down to two for-sure projects (the CTHJ socks and the LLLC socks) and two probably projects (the mini-gansey and the other front to A's sweater). I've even printed out the TSA list of acceptable items and highlighted "knitting needles" in case anyone tries to stop me. Here's the full itinerary if you don't already know it (that means you can stop reading, Kimmy... ;)

Thursday morning Anthony and I are driving up to my parents' house where we'll have Thanksgiving dinner with Mom, Dad, Aunt Karyl Lyn, Uncle Larry, Aunt Nancy, Aunt Marilyn, Uncle Karl, Karla, her boyfriend, and Kevin. Around 4pm, Mom, Anthony and I will drive down to Columbus to stay the night near the airport. Our plane leaves Columbus at not quite 6am, and we arrive in Seattle at 10:46am PST. We'll be there through Monday night, and we'll take the red-eye, have a four hour layover in Texas, and be back in Ohio on Tuesday at 12:25pm.

No word on the nephew yet. As my brother said, it's still "anytime now".

I'll post more next week. Until then, happy knitting, and have a great Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Any Time Now...

... I should have a new nephew. I'm very excited.

In other news, let's play weekend report, shall we?

Friday night was awesome. Kim had her craft/card party, and I stayed way too late talking and eating and teaching a couple people how to cast on and helping Kimmie with her felted purse and random other things. Kim and I brainstormed a plan for the bottom of her felted purse (from
Holiday Knits), since she didn't want to buy the pre-made one online. That's what I worked on for most of the day Sunday. It was really cool to work out all the math and figure out which structure would work best and how to implement it... very fun.

Saturday I worked at the yarn store again from 10-5. They were pretty slow in the morning, so I started this:
Back to the Cherry Tree Hill yarn. (No, the second Liberty sock is not finished yet. I am well aware of the dangers this may pose.) This time I'm starting toe-up, as Brenda suggested. (Don't worry, Joy... I haven't forgotten your question. Tomorrow, perhaps.) Anyway, I think it's good to work on stuff from the store when I'm working there. Makes sense, methinks.

In the afternoon, I got to take a class in between hopping up to help customers. The class was Knitting Ganseys, based on the book of the same name by Beth Brown-Reinsel. I'll admit, the main reason I signed up for the class was that the newsletter for the store listed it as an advanced class. Plus, the book came with the class. (Since I get to take classes for free, I did have to purchase the book, but I'm really glad I did.) This is not a book I would have picked up on a random day or even considered. It previously did not have any appeal to me. But now that I've gotten into it and already learned so much from it, I'm really eager to read more and learn more of the techniques.

The book teaches you how to make a mini-sweater as a sampler before you attempt a person-sized sweater. So that's what we worked on Saturday afternoon. This is as far as I've gotten with mine. This is the front of the sweater... the back isn't complete yet. Ganseys are worked in the round, divided for the front and back once you reach sleeve height, then the shoulders are attached and the sleeves knit down from the shoulder.

The first new thing I learned was a brand new cast on. New cast on methods were developed for ganseys (basically, fisherman sweaters) in order to make the bottom edge more sturdy. This cast on is called the Channel Island cast on, and creates pairs of stitches with a bead of doubled yarn between them. It's sort of like our beloved long-tail cast on method, only there are two strands wrapped double around the thumb, and the technique is slightly different. Perhaps some time I'll document the technique here, but there's a great step-by-step in the book if you simply cannot wait. I think it looks super cool.

Not so much a new technique, but something that I was previously unaware of, is that the intended recipient's initials were worked into the plain section at the bottom of the sweater. This "B" is from the purl chart, but there's also a seed stitch chart in the book that you can work from.

See this mini-cable-twist in the body of the sweater? Easiest "cable" ever. Maybe you already know about this technique, but I didn't, and it may now be my most favoritest thing ever. Knit two stitches together, but leave them on the left needle. Knit once into the first stitch and drop both stitches off the needle. There you go. Mini twist. I adore it.

The last technique that I made it to was the sleeve gusset. Apparently this diamond patch in the armpit gives the wearer that much more freedom of movement without causing more stress to the sweater. I've been unaware of sleeve gussets in the past, but they fascinate me now. I can't wait to get further on the sweater so I can work on picking up the sleeve stitches and working the rest of the sleeve gussets and on down.

This book has a ton of charts and ideas and techniques, and although it does give a handful of specific patterns at the end, the idea is to combine your favorite techniques and patterns into a one-of-a-kind sweater. I feel like I'm beginning to understand that concept even more (even though I've pretty much done that before... especially with Maggie's birthday sweaters). This class has given me additional confidence to tackle my gorgeous
Latvian Mittens book, which is almost all color charts and techniques, and good luck combining them into real mittens. I'm excited to look back through that book as well and attempt some of the more complicated techniques.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Regularly Scheduled Programming

You know what's fun? Getting birthday presents a month and a half after your birthday. It stretches things out, you know? Like... makes the celebration that much longer. Well, last night I got this AWESOME birthday present from my friend Joy. She got me this book (which contains all 7 books in the Chronicles of Narnia in one volume) because I had told her the sad story of my previous Narnia collection.

See, a couple jobs ago, when I taught language arts in an inner city charter school, I would bring in books for the students, and make them read for a certain amount of time each day. (I won't talk about the scads of library books I would cart in, only to have them stolen so I had to pay the library for them.) I had gotten this great set of Narnia paperbacks from Scholastic (for the measly amount of $15.00!!!), and I took them in, and I had a student who wanted to read them. I'll admit, it wasn't the smartest idea in the world for me to let him take the whole set home to borrow. Especially when a week or so later he was expelled, and I never saw him again. I guess the good thing about it is that now this disadvantaged kid at least has a nice set of classic literature at his disposal.

Anyway, so I went over to Joy's last night for some Tuscan onion soup and salad, some good reading (Clifford and Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob the Builder and Dora the Explorer), and some hang-out-and-knit-and-watch-Survivor-and-Apprentice-with-Joy-and-Heather time. It was pretty sweet. I'm fortunate to have such a fun place to go when my apartment drives me crazy. Thanks, pweez, guys!

I'm still working on the washing machine cozy (or baby sweater, whichever you want to believe), and I'll post pictures when there has been good progress on it. I have a couple of deadlines rapidly approaching, and not every deadline is a knitting deadline. Tonight there's a holiday craft/card party at Kimmie's house, and I'm really excited. I'm not sure how much crafting I'll be able to do on my own projects, since I have at least three different people that I promised to help, but it should still be a good time.

Tomorrow I work at my yarn store again, and in the afternoon I'll be working in the store and taking a gansey class at the same time. It will be interesting to see how that works out. Updates, of course, on Monday. Until then, be safe, stay warm, and happy knitting.

Hope you're having a GREAT birthday, Morgan!

Thursday, November 17, 2005

This Is Getting Old

First: KnitPicks.
Again, no local yarn store has the monopoly on yarn. In fact, each yarn store chooses what they want to sell and typically does not have room to stock every kind of yarn available, in every weight available, in every color available. I have been to quite a few yarn shops in the area, and I buy different kinds of yarn at each one. *GASP!!!* That's right, I don't spend my entire yarn allowance at the yarn store I work for. Some companies make their own kinds of yarn. That means that you cannot buy that type of yarn anywhere else. Such is the case of KnitPicks. If I want a kind of yarn that is only made by KnitPicks, then I have to buy it through KnitPicks. The good thing about KnitPicks (and some other online yarn shops) is that the quality of the yarn is, in my experience, very high. Calling KnitPicks the "WalMart of the yarn world" is simply ignorant. Yes, they have nice prices. No, I would not want to use every kind of yarn they offer. But isn't that the case for any yarn store, local or online? If I want Rowan Wool Cotton, I go to O'Bryonville. If I want Manos or some ArtYarns, I go to Hamilton. If I want Cherry Tree Hill, I go to West Chester. If I want a new selection of stuff to choose from, I find a new yarn store. That's the beauty of it. There are options. There are choices. I can support multiple yarn places, thereby increasing the demand across the board, which eventually increases the supply and increases the options. Where's the downside? All the customers of my LYS are not going to run out and ONLY buy yarn from KnitPicks just because I mention on my blog that I have bought yarn from them in the past and plan to buy more in the future, because that is the case for EVERY YARN STORE FROM WHICH I HAVE PURCHASED YARN. I love yarn. I have stash issues. I want more yarn. My options are not limited. No one is going to go out of business. Oh, and I also buy yarn on eBay. Clearly I'm only hurting myself.

Second: My now-frogged, previously ill-fitting sock.
Yes, it was a mistake. Yes, I "broadcasted" said mistake to all of my faithful blog readers. Yes, the students in my sock class were aware that I messed up, and yes, I am a horrible person because of it. However, I fail to see how all my "credibility" is based on that one sock. The first night of the sock class I took in at least six pairs of previously completed, perfectly fitting socks to share with my students. Hmm, perhaps there's some credibility in that. Let's look at the other 20 some posts I've made in the young life of this blog. There are over a dozen different projects talked about, most of them completed, and all of them well-made and fitting for whichever recipient they were intended. I think that might establish some credibility, so that when I mention a project that isn't going perfectly, one might not think that because of that one project, I'm a complete failure at this hobby. Oh, what? It's a hobby? It's not life or death? Interesting.
The other thing about this sock, which, if you'd been reading all the posts about this particular yarn and pattern, you'd know already, is that while I was working on the sock, I was fascinated with both the yarn and the pattern. (How's that for a run-on sentence? Can you start ripping on my grammar now, please?) I'm clearly a process-knitter. Yes, it's nice to have a finished project once in a while, but the reason why I keep casting on for so many new projects is because I am in love with the process. I love learning new stitch patterns, using new yarns, seeing how variegated and self-striping/patterning colorways work out. So it's not really all that surprising that I waited until after I turned the heel to try it on. I love turning the heel. It's usually my favorite part about making socks. So again, not surprising. Process knitter. Remember that.

Next (third, for those of you keeping track): The Alien Scarf.
I know it's a darn cool scarf. It's a darn cool pattern, and OOPS! I didn't have the pattern with me when I bought the yarn. My brain, unfortunately, is not an encyclopedia of yarn yardage and pattern details. I really wish it was. I did not blame the yarn store I went to (not a local one this time, but thanks for trying) for telling me that the Lamb's Pride would be fine, because frankly, the yarn worked perfect for the project. There just wasn't enough yardage. Yes, my mistake. But I fixed it: I bought more yarn, and finished the scarf. When I told the story in my blog, I wasn't blaming anyone, I was telling the story of the scarf. I was explaining about the yarn, the process, the finished product, the handsome scarf model... all of that. I'm pretty sure that even in this public forum, I am permitted to tell my stories the way that I'd like to tell them. In fact, I think that's what blogging is all about.

Fourth, and last: This Knitsie Character.
Did someone pee in your Cheerios? Was it me? Do you wake up in the morning wondering how horribly I've messed everything up this time? If so, stop wasting everybody's time. I'm not perfect, I never claimed to be, and this blog is for me. You don't like what you see? Then stop reading. I'm not hiding behind some made up name throwing out insults and holier-than-thou comments on random blogs. I'm going to tell it like it is, good or bad. I'm not going to share only the perfect projects; I'm not going to share only the mistake projects. I'm going to share it all, because again, this is my blog, and that's why I started it. I have some really good friends who read this blog and enjoy what I do, and the same goes for why I read their stuff and can appreciate them. We support each other, we encourage each other, we laugh with (and sometimes at) each other, but we're always real and up front about it. It's never with a spirit of piousness or that we feel we're better than someone else, but always with a desire to learn more about something that has become a favorite pasttime.
I don't need to take a beginning knitting class, and many people will back me up when I say that I define myself as a qualified knitting instructor. I understand gauge, I understand yardage, I understand the process, but I will never say that I have nothing left to learn. I will never say that I am perfect, and I will never hide behind some internet facade to rip on someone else's hard work.
Either come out from behind the nickname and tell me what your real issue with me is, or leave me alone. This blog doesn't need readers like you.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Somebody Stop Me!

I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?

Anthony always wants the bad news first, so here it is:
I started another new project last night.

There are two good newses though!
1. The new project can be found on the project lists on my door.
2. The new project is being made with yarn from my stash!

Any guesses as to what it is?

(Joy, your toe-up/cuff-down quandary will be answered shortly in its very own post.)