Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My FLS Mug Shot

I was determined to have at least one more FO to show off before the end of the year so I spent one hour finishing up my February Ladies Sweater this morning and then two hours trying to take a picture of myself while wearing it. This is not a very flattering pose but it's the best I could do with the timer. The floppy sleeves and the opening that draws attention to my tummy bulge are not very attractive when I am standing like a scarecrow, but in motion the sweater actually looks pretty good. I think I like it. I admit I had my doubts about knitting a baby sweater in an adult size until I saw a zillion of them on the racks at the mall. All of which are on clearance today. 75% off.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Back in Business

Now that all the holiday hoopla is behind me, I have been able to get back to work on some long standing WIPs in dire need of finishing. Resolution number one will be to get the other sleeve on my Palette Cardi finished. Here it is looking very odd, being modeled by skinny minny daughter. Of course it means cutting steeks again. I thought I had done a spectacular job on the first sleeve but on close examination I now see stitches that did not get caught up in the crochet technique I used and are in danger of doing some damage. The good news is that after trying it on, it does not seem so big after all. That brings me to resolution number two: Lay off the cookies.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Any Excuse

As far as celebrations are concerned, if there are candles and fried foods involved, I am there. For many years, this little menorah was used at school as a part of the "holidays around the world" lessons that were allowed in late December. When such things became discouraged and then forbidden, I had to give it a home. I couldn't just drop it in the dumpster. It is my rescue menorah. Each year it does its job at my house in spite of its political incorrectness in the public schools. The little candles light up the dark days of December and reminds us that no matter who, and no matter where, all things celebrated are good.

Besides, how could you not love something that has such a beautiful blessing:

Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who has kept us alive, and has preserved us, and enabled us to reach this time.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

There Goes Santa Claus

Yes. I know it's a little late to be talking about Santa, but since it was purchased way back in 1994, Christmas can't be officially declared over around here until the Santa puzzle has had the (almost) last piece put in. I say almost because one top right piece is missing. No matter. We put the first piece in every Christmas Eve and then it becomes a mad race to see who can finish the thing. It can get ugly. While the family went golfing this afternoon I put in a secretive marathon effort. Daughter and I worked as a team for an hour or two this evening and made a lot of ground, but it was me and the SO who made it to the finish line while number two son prepared a curry in my disaster of a kitchen.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Looky What I Got!

In addition to getting my Knit Pick's Gift Certificates (I got two!!!) this pretty little thing was stuffed in a coffee mug as a surprise from the SO. The photo does not show off the sparkle of all the little diamonds very well, so you will have to take my word for just how seriously pretty this little ring is. I was out shopping with daughter when it caught my eye. She was trying on engagement rings-just for fun. It's her new favorite hobby. The appeal of this ring for me was that it was sparkly and FLAT. Which means you can wear it and not get it caught on woolly stuff. How she managed to conspire with her dad to buy it and then keep it a secret for so long is beyond me. I never realized what good liars the two of them are. Makes me wonder.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It's Still About the Sweet Stuff

For a solid week I have done little except create ridiculously sugary confections that look much better than they taste. The Buche de Noel, our traditional Christmas Eve yule log cake, on the right, is one of the prettiest I have ever made but it tastes like chocolate frosted rubber. Yucky. Since no one ate it, I think I will shellac it and save it for next year. That gingerbread house needs to be condemned. Even the gingerbread men were laughing at it. As the sun went down on this last day of celebration, all the sweets, including my beloved mince pie, got scraped right into the garbage. The kitchen is officially closed. If it can't be heated up in a microwave, I'm not eating it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Too Silent a Night

Due to work and flight schedules, for the first time ever, our family get together is on hold until after the holiday. Last night, while the rest of the world was celebrating, it was just another Wednesday night for me. It was weird. Really weird. A peppermint martini helped some. So did the mince pie. And the fruitcake. Today I get to go to the airport and pick up number 2 son. Goody. It has been way too quiet around here.
Although I am feeling like a big old Scrooge at the moment, my jolly old Santa wall hanging wants to wish you a Merry Christmas. I am not the only one in my family that is yarn crazy. He was hooked by Granddaddy last year.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

It's a Wrap

I hate wrapping presents. I am terrible at it. The ability to fold paper neatly is beyond me. Everything I wrap ends up looking like I am giving away pillows. Wrapping is messy. Stuff ends up stuck to me and everything around me. I know that I should be using gift bags and only gift bags but gift bags under a tree is just wrong. My grandmother had the right idea. Each year she would box up all her gifts and then invite everyone over for a wrapping party. The kids would wrap and the adults would do mysterious things that always involved whiskey sours and mistletoe. Because all the boxes were scotch taped shut, you never knew whose gifts you were wrapping. I never knew how she knew whose gift was whose but she always did. She departed this life at 11 am one snowy Christmas morning after suffering a stroke several weeks before, catching us all by surprise. Like Christmas, she was supposed to go on forever. I miss you Meme. If you are looking down, please forgive the mess I made of my gifts again this year. It's just never been the same without you.

Monday, December 22, 2008

O Aluminum Tree...

I love my little vintage Pom Pom Sparkler. After years of buying trees that we planted in our yard after Christmas we finally ran out of room. I found this little cutie 6 years ago on Ebay before they became chic again and won her in a fierce bidding war for $49. I do not have one of those colored wheel thingys. I prefer that she remains silver and have instead lit her from underneath with white twinkle lights and from within with a string of extremely tiny white lights I found at Ikea. I consider her my Barbie doll of trees as I take great joy in dressing her up for the holidays. Each year it is a challenge to put together a new look. This year I wanted to knit those little sweater and mitten ornaments to hang on her but got too late a start. I did add a set of glass penguins and nutcrackers to her wardrobe. It was impossible to get a photo. Here she looks kinda like a stick with junk hanging on it but in my living room she is glowing.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Meet the Family

Just when I thought I was done my holiday baking I realized that I forgotten to make my favorite cookie. As the holiday stress begins to mount, I always find it very satisfying to be able to bite an arm or a leg off of something. In spite of my gloppy icing and lack of a steady hand, my adorable little family of gingerbread clowns were just what I needed to put an end to this year's holiday baking marathon. It is 9:30 pm and I have just taken the last cinnamon loaf out of the oven to cool. I am so done. Let the wrapping begin.

The Good Stuff

Yesterday was all about the cookies but today it is all about the rum. If you have never made the Bacardi Rum Cake stop reading stupid knitting blogs and go get a yellow cake mix, a box of vanilla pudding, some chopped nuts and a bottle of dark rum. With just those few items and other stuff you probably already have around the house you can make yourself mounds and mounds of little bite sized pieces of heaven. Drenched in a buttered rum glaze, this stuff is so rich that a mouthful is all that you need. Eat one with a glass of eggnog and you might have to call 911.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Gift of Fat and Sugar

At 7 am I was in the kitchen creaming butter and sugar into every bowl I own. This year the cookie baking marathon was going to be organized. I made all the dough in advance, actually chilled them (a step I usually regard as optional) and had all the pans parchment lined and ready to go. I MADE myself wash each utensil as I used it cleverly avoiding the dreaded sink overload. Everything turned out yummy except the one pan of over browned sugar cookies that, although created unintentionally, are always my favorites. Everything is wrapped and ready in a sea of plastic including the chocolate truffles (yes, kids I said chocolate truffles). At 4 pm I am finally sitting down with a strong cup of tea to hopefully coax some of the sugar out of my system after sending several boxes off with the visiting Granddaddy who each year puts the jam in the coconut thumbprints.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Another Wet Christmas

I just discovered that it is really hard to take pictures of rain at night. Trying to capture our dismal blend of mist and muck is impossible. I wanted all you people across the entire US of A to see that while you are getting your mountains of snow, we here in the nation's capital are having our usual soggy, gray holiday. The lights illuminating the mud and gloom only make matters worse. Tonight's news reports have tried in vain to make me feel sorry for y'all. I know you have to dig out and that getting around is difficult, but where the hell do you all have to go? I would love to have an excuse to sit by the fire knowing that all the holiday insanity was on hold and that I didn't have to make some lame excuse to get out of it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy 31st Nick!

Number one son turned 31 today. It seems like just yesterday I was measuring his little self up against the closet door on his special day. Look at that hair. Look at those eyes. What a cutie. Think about how cute my grandkids would be, if I had any. Just think about all those cute genes going to waste. I sure do.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

The big 5-5.
One foot in the grave.
Over the hill.
All true.
That's me over there in the grass about 35 years ago documenting my glorious self before putting on a bathing suit became an emotional crisis. Sigh. I can't think of one thing good to say about getting older except that I may get to retire someday and be able to spend my day in my knitting room instead of a classroom. I hate my job. I don't hate teaching, I just hate what teaching has become. Before I drag out my "what's wrong with education" soapbox let me remind myself that this is a knitting blog not a "I HATE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" blog so I'll shut up and go eat cake.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Man Fringe

I made this huge scarf in less than a week by working on it for little more than 10 minutes each morning before work. I am still amazed at how fast you can weave compared to knitting something in the same gauge. Since this is another guy scarf, I had to do something manly with all those loose ends. Since I am not ready to hem the edges due to a total lack of confidence in my weaving ability, I twisted the ends to make fat little fringes which look a bit more masculine. The guy this is intended for has no problem prancing around with snowmen dangling from his ears at Christmas or spray painting his hair green on Saint Patrick's Day so I probably did not need to stress too much about the sexual orientation of his scarf.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Calorimetry Crazy

I finally found something that I can have fun knitting and then actually wear so I have a giant pile of them at the moment and lots of balls of yarn still destined to become one. I discovered fabulous Tweedle Dee put out by Moda Dea at AC Moore and bought every colorway they make. I also exhausted Elann's supply of multicolored chunky acrylic. Some of these are destined for my head and some for gifts. Maybe. I am always very uneasy about giving my projects away as I become hyper critical the moment the thing has been finished. It is too itchy, the color is wrong, my finishing sucks and so on and so on until I convince myself that the thing is better off behind a dust bunny in the bottom of the closet. I still cringe at some of the truly awful things I have given to undeserving friends and family. I lie in bed at night and imagine sneaking into their houses and taking the hideous hat, scarf, etc. and then setting it on fire. Extreme, I know but you should see some of the ugly crap I have made.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Little of the White Stuff

For us Marylanders, the pitiful amount of snow that fell yesterday was a big deal. In the past several years, snow has become a very rare occurrence with little or no accumulation. Winter has become a chilly, damp season with mud being its defining feature. Owning a good coat here is a fashion statement more than a necessity. Thanks to an Alberta Clipper that flew past, for a few lovely hours yesterday afternoon, we were treated to a mini snowfall. My immediate reaction was to throw some cookies in the oven and then grab the tinsel tree and the lights and decorate everything in sight. Good thing I didn't give in to the too-early-for-me holiday spirit. This morning it is all gone.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Second Try

I love my new loom! After my first weaving disaster I have managed to crank out two scarves that can actually be worn. I hate the feel of thick, knitted scarves wrapped around my neck so this woven one is warm but light enough to be comfortable. The best part of weaving is that cheap acrylics make the best weaving yarn so in the past week my stash has grown considerably as I have been buying up everything Micheal's and AC Moore has to offer. Giant bags of yarn for under $50! I have enough stuff to make tons of scarves for lots of unsuspecting family members. Lucky for them that the holidays are only a few weeks away or I'd be filling up the gift bags with these things.

Third Try

Here is my third scarf made from some inexpensive Lion Brand Homespun and Red Heart Soft Yarn. It took me less than a week of after-work weaving. It's rather wide and very long so it's a perfect guy scarf. It got out of hand because I still have no idea how to warp the loom to I get the size I want but with scarves I guess it doesn't really matter. The fringe gave me lots of trouble. Since it was clearly a guy scarf- a granddaddy scarf to be exact- frilly, floppy fringe didn't work. I have no idea what to do with all the loose ends yet so I had no choice but to tie them up into stupid looking fringe. I have tied and retied the ends then trimmed them several times and I still hate them. The fact that the two yarns are different made it even more yucky in my opinion. I guess finishing issues will be my holiday homework.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NaKni Oh No!

Being the last day of November it's time to admit that I did not reach my NaKniSweMo goal. I attempted to complete not one but three sweaters in the month of November. Two were officially begun in the first days of the month but I wanted also to complete at least one sleeve on that Palette Cardi that has been hanging around since well, forever. I did manage to make decent progress on everybody but I totally over estimated the time I would have to myself on my 5 day Thanksgiving holiday. Sad to say, but holidays are about obligations not about knitting. Vacation Day 1 was all about cleaning and shopping. Day 2 was for preparing the feast and entertaining. Day 3 was Black Friday shopping- my very first ever. I just had to see what all the fuss was about. I was disappointed, it looked just like any other Saturday at the mall to me. No stampeding crowds anywhere, just lots of dazed looks and empty hands. Day 4 was dedicated to clearing out the stash room and today, a cold and rainy Day 5 has been for paying bills and blogging about how the month went so damn fast. In 3 weeks I will have the winter break to tie up all the loose ends so I'll stop whining and go find a quiet corner to knit in.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Giving Thanks

On this busy Thanksgiving weekend I would like to take the time to say that I am very thankful for being the owner of this room full of yarn and other assorted fiber goodies. I have spent the morning sorting and organizing a situation that could only be described as a stash explosion. I have been buying and then piling up my loot in their delivery boxes until it was no longer possible to get into my little craft room. I am also thankful for Tupperware. Their big plastic bins made it possible to hide all this stuff neatly out of sight. I have a birthday coming up and I don't want to anyone to think that I don't really need that Knit Picks gift certificate I have been hinting about.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

No Gobble Here

Our house is a turkey free zone on Thanksgiving. Even if I had not seen the unfortunate Sarah Palin interview this week, there would not have been a bird in my oven. For my family it is all about the chocolate chip cookies, fruitcake and Beaujolais. Add a grilled salmon hot off the outside wood stove, a few randomly chosen green things, the obligatory mashed potatoes and the feast is complete. The fruitcakes are baked early Thanksgiving morning, soaked in brandy and then wrapped carefully to be put away until Christmas. This year I was in too big of a hurry to get them out of the pan before they had time to cool and they broke apart. They won't be very pretty this year but I can confirm that they are tasty because I gobbled up the broken bits for breakfast.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Knitting at the Trump

Here she is. The queen of the knitting geeks, knitting away on the 24th floor of the Trump Plaza still on my Sunday morning post Madonna high. I actually made miles of progress on my black raglan in order to cure the intense vertigo I suffered when I discovered my room was on the top floor. I still can't believe my daughter actually talked me into getting this close to the window in order to get a good shot of the Trump sign behind me. In spite of the bad room location, the weekend was spectacular. I have not been to a concert since, well....Jerry Garcia was still alive, so I was very happy to discover I could still rock with the best of them.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Rock On

Like all working mothers who are expecting holiday guests, I should be spending the weekend before Thanksgiving cleaning my filthy house but I am abandoning the apron and mop to travel instead to Atlantic City to attend tonight's Madonna concert. Daughter and I will spend the night at Trump Plaza before taking tomorrow morning's trip back to reality. I am taking along my black raglan as a travel project but knitting on a weekend where I am celebrating my inner material girl is just not working for me.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't Laugh

Here is my very first scarf, hot off my new Ashford Knitter's Loom. I know it is really awful looking. Using my knitter's brain, I totally choose the wrong yarn for my first project. I wanted something with interesting color variations. I should have picked up one of the bazillion balls of sock yarn I have in my stash. Instead I picked up some ancient Patons hand-dyed which is a very lightly twisted wool that got all fuzzy when the shuttle passed through it. The warp actually broke when I increased the tension on the roller things. It seems you really need two different kinds of yarn to weave with. A strong slick one to warp the loom and something a little more textured to weave with. When I came to the end I remembered the loosey goosey way I wove at the beginning, so thinking I was being clever, I tried to replicate the look so it would seem like I did it on purpose. As you see, it looks terrible. This thing isn't going out the house anyway, so I should have spent the time warping the yarn I bought yesterday to make a real scarf.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Complete Beginner

Knitting to spinning to weaving. Seems like a natural (expensive) progression. For weeks I have researched all the rigid heddle looms on the market in order to get the one that would offer me the most options for future projects. I settled on the 20 inch Ashford Knitter's Loom so that if, one day, I am bored with making scarves out of my leftover bits of stash I could graduate to shawls. And besides, anything with Knitter's in the name can't be that difficult, right? The instructions state that I could make a scarf within a few hours of taking the loom out of the box. After several hours out of the box, I was feverishly looking for HELP on the web. Why hasn't ANYONE posted a video of someone actually using one of these things? We all understand the concept behind weaving. In and out, up and down, but tying 16 pieces of yarn onto the watchamacallits was making my brain hurt. It's funny how the words up and down can have so many meanings depending on what you are actually doing. There were also lots of other little surprises along the way. For example, you need lots of tables to clamp the thing onto which have to be a specific distance apart. Then you have to wrap the roller things up with a ton of copy paper. And then finally, when all is said and done, you need a friend to help you roll all that tied yarn up. Good grief. You need to be an octopus. I saw people on the web substituting soda cans. I used ankle weights. To make matters worse, I still don't really know where the down position of the heddle is and by the looks of my ugly little first project that is going to be a big problem. I don't want to discourage anyone from buying a loom. Right or wrong, I am having fun with it. Just be warned that it takes alot more than instructions and common sense to figure this stuff out.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

More Loot

I almost forgot to mention the things that I am the most excited to have bought this week-my Harmony wood buttons. They are perfect for my soon to be February Lady Sweater. At $1.99 for a pack of 2 they are a real bargain. I did not even know they existed until I heard someone talking about them on a podcast this week. They arrived with my Harmony Options circular needle set which I promptly put to work on the Gull Stitch pattern that makes up the body and sleeves of this sweater. I have to admit I am very nervous about this whole screw in needle stuff. I have heard horror stories about them unscrewing and leaving you with a lap full of loose ends but you can't beat the convenience of having all the sizes you need in one small bag. I am too impatient these days to go searching through the house for needles that seem to always be missing their partners. Of course there is no guarantee I'll actually keep these in their little zippered case either.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Spending Spree

My bank account took a tremendous hit this week. In some feverish fit of insanity, I bought a Strauch Petite drum carder, a 20 inch Ashford Knitter's Loom, the Harmony circular needle set plus two books of sweater patterns. I won't even mention the yarn. Or the roving. My debit card info is now BANNED from the same room as my laptop because all of this loot is from late night surfing while in a podcast daze. In my defense and in case you are a family member reading this who is thinking about tattling (yes, I am talking about you!) I had this money tucked away from my attendance bonus from work. Anyone who can make 180 plus days with a room full 6 year olds deserves a reward.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

The Road to Recovery.... paved with lots of Motrin. This morning I swallowed a handful of pain killers in order to get these socks finished. I blame them for my accident. If I had left for work at my usual time instead of finishing a few extra rows that fateful morning I would have missed the big pile up. I know I am being overly dramatic but just looking at them has been giving me the heebie jeebies so they had to go. I hooked them together to reduce any sliding action with a locking row marker and finished them in one marathon knitting session. I took my Ravelry FO photo and then shoved them way back in the closet. Way back. Didn't even block them.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween?

I've been robbed. It has been 9 days since my accident and I still can't manage to do anything using both hands at the same time. My hair looks like a rat's nest. My knitting basket and spinning wheel are covered with a thick layer of cobwebs. I did manage to painfully type out my credit card numbers to order this cheap, tweedy black yarn to knit up a replacement for the sweater that did not survive the crash. I have no idea how I am going to hand out candy tonight. At least I won't need a costume this year. I already look like a ghost having a really bad hair day.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Big Ouch!

No, I did not steek the arm of my favorite black raglan pullover. The guy in the ambulance did. I was in a car accident on my way to work Wednesday morning. I was stopped on the highway behind another accident when someone plowed into the back of my little Mini Cooper sending me crashing into the steering wheel and fracturing my sternum. Yes. I had my seatbelt on but I learned the hard way that if you are hanging over your steering wheel instead of sitting up straight the belt offers little protection. I loved this sweater. I made it at least ten years ago. I wore it all the time. My body will heal, my car is being repaired but my sweater is totaled.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Prayers for Summerilla

I finished my daughter's prayer shawl last night. I tied on all that lovely fringe while watching Desperate Housewives. It took FOREVER and when I looked at the first shawl I made I realized that I was hooking them on one by one this time instead of putting several pieces of yarn together. As a result there is a massive amount of fringe on this thing. It needs to come with a warning about open flames. I have visions of her cooking over the gas stove and going up in smoke. I am going to be praying that this prayer shawl doesn't give me something to pray about.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

I Swear It Followed Me Home

I think I have lost my mind. Seriously. I am suffering from a severe kit addiction. I LOVE the idea of someone else putting all my materials together for me so that all I have to do is pick up the needles and go. I hate picking out colors and choosing yarns as I am well aware (and constantly reminded by my daughter) that I have no taste. You have to admit, it is a gorgeous bag. I have fought the urge for weeks to buy it since I already have an over abundance of knitted bags that I never use. I have put it in my cart and taken it out several times. I visited it regularly. We bonded. Then one dreadful night I knew I had to have it. Underneath its little picture were the dreaded words available soon. I stalked that website until I got mine. Here she is safe and sound from the dreaded back order or even worse the discontinued.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Dog's Breakfast

This week's Knit Pick's Podcast challenged lace knitters who blog to show just how ugly lace looks while it is being worked on in hopes of preventing newbies from abandoning their projects in shame. Lace knitting is a rather secretive business. You say you never work on lace in public because it requires intense concentration but the real reason you don't take it out in public is that you really don't want anyone to think that you are actually making something so damn ugly. It takes a long hot soak and a fierce stretching to be able to see the intricate patterns that are hidden during the knitting process. This of course is what makes lace knitting so addicting once you get the hang of it. Blocking is like giving birth. Maybe better. Surprisingly, even beginning knitters have the skills to knit lace as the actual knitting is not at all complicated. It's counting stitches and keeping track of where you are that drives you mad. This is my Seasons of Mist and Mellow Fruitfulness (yes, that is the pattern's actual name) scarf-to-be. We were having a great time together until a naughty little yarnover got away unnoticed and required a painful tinking back this week. I now have resorted to lifelines (knitted-in threads that mark your place) every so many rows to repair my sudden lack of confidence in my ability to count to ten.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Crazy Fleece Chronicles Part Two

Later that day:
I could not resist playing with the giant wad of smelly wool (and neither could a very bad little dog) so I picked out some small, dry bits, took them outside and carded them. The VM that flew out of the stuff was everywhere but at least it was coming out. I was starting to have my doubts. After several cardings, the white and black turned into a lovely gray. I made a very sparse rolag and then tried my hand at spindling the stuff. I was able to make a decent little sport weight, 2 ply yarn. Then I knit up a small swatch without soaking and drying it just to see what it would look like. It feels like a fuzzy version of Lopi. I can see mittens. Lots and lots of gray mittens.

Crazy Fleece Chronicles Part One

Through a lot of really hard work the big $4 BAG of smelly wool has now been transformed into....a big PILE of smelly wool. I spent my entire Saturday scouring the stuff in everything in the house that could hold hot water. I started out in a tub outside but the water would not stay hot long enough to do its job so I had to carry it into the house for a soak in my bathtub. After all that washing and rinsing and washing and rinsing it still remains a very dirty pile of wool. It was not much fun trying to keep it all from slipping down the drain and spinning the excess water out in my little salad spinner took FOREVER. I can't believe how much wool this all turned out to be. It arrived here in a shoe box and now is spread out all over my living room floor to dry. My entire house smells like a barn. Keeping the dogs out has not been fun either. Every time I turn my back I find a dog toy in the middle of it. Sad part is that I am going to have to repeat this process again as I can clearly see now that all the grease was not removed. I am NOT however, going to try it again with the whole pile. I am going to pick through it and keep only the good bits and break it up into smaller bags so I can spread out all this fun.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

It Fits!

OMG! I actually knit something that fits. The Calorimetry hat/headband thingy is a very popular pattern for people who have way too much hair to fit under a hat. In order to cover my head in winter I either have to choose to have a lumpy head or let my hair hang down a la Morticia Adams which at my age is just not an attractive look. Sure it fits but I am not completely happy with the look of the thing. There are a series of holes that run down each side where the short rows are turned that look like mistakes in my wonky handspun yarn. My knitter's pride is having a hard time accepting these apparent flaws in the knitted fabric. I know they are supposed to be there but anyone else looking at my head will not. I have read there is a way to avoid those holes by wrapping the stitches so I suppose I am doomed to casting on another just to prove to myself it can be done.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Money Troubles

I recently joined the 10 minute a day spinning group on Ravelry in order to inspire myself to finish a half bobbin of pink stuff that I started a very long while ago. I use up my obligatory minutes watching the news each night where I am taking a strange delight in the financial woes of the world. While I am greatly effected by the high price of necessities and the lack of any salary increases this year, watching these big banks tumble has been deeply satisfying. After spending years writing checks to these f@#*ers to pay off high interest rates that came from them claiming to have received late payments that we all know were not real, I am enjoying every minute of watching them squirm in front of the congressional hearings that should have taken place years ago. My immediate reaction to any personal financial troubles that may lie ahead was to economize- by buying a BIG smelly 2 pound bag of raw fleece off ebay. This monster pile of wool was a real bargain at $4.00! Now I only need a $400 drum carder in order to process the stinky stuff.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

This One's For You Pete!

I apologize in advance for what I may say today because I am writing this in a Benadryl induced fog. My eyes look like Heather Locklear's in her mug shot. In the spring when everyone else is sniffling and sneezing I am fine. When the cool weather finally arrives and the first leaves begin dropping, I am a miserable MESS. The idea of picking up anything itchy is unbearable. Wool is out. Even the softest of the softest natural fibers give me the heebie-geebies and send me running for a tissue. My spinning wheel will be gathering dust until I feel better. That is a shame because I am all excited about learning how to Navajo ply. I have a bobbin filled with pink lace weight that was going to be my next shawl project. It will just have to wait. To keep my hands busy I began another prayer shawl in that icky acrylic Lion Brand Homespun that was so horrible to work with in the hot summer months. Now that crappy yarn is a blessing because it gives me a reason to use my GORGEOUS new Harmony wood needles. The large sized needles are really spectacular with all those layers of colors running through them. I also owe Lion Brand a big apology because I actually love, love, love the shawl I made this summer from the nasty old stuff. This one is for my daughter and it is in lovely shades of greens and browns. What you see here is only three nights of TV knitting so it looks like it won't be long before little Pete will be getting one of her own.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Too Cute

Here she is. My lumpy little dumpling bag. All ready to, stuffed with....uh... hmm. I have to admit that it is more fun to make a felted bag than it is to own one. I have several of the cute little things in all shapes and sizes but rarely use them. They are, after all, just a wad of fuzzy wool with a handle. Knitting in 3D is awfully clever but I have never been able to just throw my wallet in one and head out to the mall. They just are not real bags. Real bags have zippers and pockets and are made of stuff that can be thrown on the car floor even when it is raining. Felted bags are more like pets. Having said that, Knit Picks has a gorgeous new Fair Isle Sipalu bag that is just calling my name. I have been lurking in the Community Room reading all the posts from the bag's knit along group trying to talk myself out of spending the big bucks for the kit. At $35 this is no impulse buy. I don't even have a real bag that costs that much.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Happy Birthday Sandy!

There is only one thing more interesting than knitting in my little world. The sad thing is, if my family were ever stranded on an island with this guy, I know I would have to fight my little sister to the death for him.
Since this is your day little sis, here he is. He's all yours. At least for today.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Little Dumpling Becomes a Bag

One day I am complaining about getting this thing going and the next day it is done. Talk about instant gratification! I have been using my little faux go-knit bags to knit while I walk the dogs after work and tonight I am actually sorry to see it all over so soon. I am happy to report that my ratty old handspun is not looking so terrible. The colors are really nice and the lumps and the bumps will probably felt up decently leaving me with some cute little stripes. I hope. You never actually know just how handspun will felt up so I better not get too overly excited. The tricky part is still to come. I suppose I may be revealing too much to say that I have been known to felt up bags in the tub while I am enjoying a long, hot, bubble bath. Saturday night me and my little dumpling have a date. I'm bringing the wine.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The First Cut

I did it. I sat down in the peace and quiet of a rare Saturday all to myself and took the scissors to my Palette Cardigan that has been many months in the making. Eunny's Steeking Chronicles kept me company as I crocheted up the edges and then carefully snipped away at the tiny threads that held my precious project together. Miraculously, the edging held and I was able to pick up the sleeve stitches without a problem except of course my all too familiar issue with counting. I needed 157 stitches so of course I ended up with 136. The only other concern I have at the moment is, now that I have the thing off the needles, I can actually see how big it is. It is HUGE. When I have it on I look like the "after" poster for a weight loss product. I got so carried away with the fun of working with all the pretty colors that I never even considered checking the gauge. Too late now.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

My Little Dumpling

This was a bag of chips for dinner kind of work week so my progress on the little dumpling bag has been slow going. First, I could not figure out what yarn to use and ended up spinning my own. Then I realized I did not have the right size of needles so they had to be ordered. Finally those little plastic rings that make the whole project so cute are apparently NOT in any craft store in Maryland. I am close to losing interest in the whole damn thing but I don't want to be the only person on Ravelry that doesn't have one of these adorable little bags so I am going to have to force myself to get this thing started today. Maybe. I still have my Palette cardigan sitting here waiting for me to (gasp) cut the arm steeks. I admit that I am totally terrified of the idea of cutting holes in something I have been knitting on for months but it's either cut it or turn it into a giant stuffed pillow.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Boobies and Beer Fest

I knitted (ate) my way through the Maryland Renaissance Festival yesterday. Those poor socks that I planned to be my lunchtime knit were my companions whenever I found myself sitting. I turned the heel watching the jousting. I completed the gusset decreases watching a couple of nuns tell dirty jokes and made my way to the toe during beer breaks on this hot Saturday afternoon. Every year I always regret not making the effort to dress up. I don't have the boobies for a corset but this year I did bring that little Shale Shawl thinking that would make me look like a 15th century knitting granny but it was just too frickin' hot so the poor little thing stayed in the car. It was so warm that I was very close to dumping my felted wool bag in the nearest trash can rather than to continue having it itch and scratch my sweaty shoulder all day. It wasn't too hot however to cram my belly full of steaming hot goodies. Anything fried on a stick is my idea of a good time unless it's a frozen piece of cheesecake covered in dark chocolate on a stick. Now we are talking ecstasy.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

An Ugly Duckling

When you begin a project you usually have some idea as to what you are getting yourself into. Some projects are simple while others take on epic proportions. This was intended as a quick knit, something to practice making lace weight yarn for but it quickly got out of hand. I should have started with a simple scarf but instead decided to try my hand at spinning enough for a lace shawl. This Old Shale Shawl (aka Old Raggedy on Ravelry) and I have had quite a love/hate relationship. I loved spinning the yarn. I hated the pattern. The simplicity of the whole thing lulled me into a false sense of security which resulted in many stupid mistakes. And even worse, half way through, the colors started changing from subtle rainbow shades to neon brights although I swear I was spinning it from the same hunk of roving. Most upsetting. Then, tonight, as if by magic, that ugly duckling of a raggedy ass mess, turned into a lovely swan after being soaked and then blocked across my dining room table. Now that I can finally see her, the poor little thing is not so ugly after all.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Perfect Storm

As tropical storm Hanna raced up the coast and dropped buckets of rain on our little beach town by the Chesapeake Bay this morning, I looked out the window to see our brave little mail lady struggling down our long driveway with a very large box in her arms. I knew it could only be one thing since my back to school paycheck is so pitiful that I am back on a strict yarn diet. Over the summer, when I still had some fun money left after each payday, I pre-ordered the new Harmony straight needle sets in both the 10 and 14 inch sizes. Like everything else at Knit Picks the demand always exceeds their stock so I had a very long wait. I thought. They came on a perfect day and at a perfect time as I am struggling with the extremely boring task of knitting up a simple slip stitch belt for my big red cardigan. These gorgeous needles have a lovely slick feel to them and those fantastic long shiny tips and brilliant colors make even a dull project entertaining. Hanna can do what she wants now. I've got plenty to keep me busy indoors today!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Nothing to Brag About

My first week back to school with the kids was a major horror. Apparently the boss, spent her summer figuring out a way to reduce the teacher's lunch times down to only a very few minutes. As a result, I have nothing to show for my lunch time knitting after 5 whole days. Last year I managed to knit up an entire Pi Shawl during lunch so I am entirely pissed off. These ugly blue things in the photo are my first attempt at lace on the Magic Loop and they are being knit up in my morning 10 minutes of sit down time while I gulp some coffee and catch up on the traffic news before heading out the door at 7 am to fight the Beltway. I am using the Heartland Lace pattern from the Folk Shawls book and at the moment they look pretty bad. I am hoping this yarn blocks out well because if not I am not only wasting my time but some lovely vintage Schaffhauser Sock Wolle.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Big Red

There is nothing like having to try on a giant red wool sweater about a million times in late August. I have spent the past two days working very hard to get this thing DONE and setting in the sleeves is the last critical step. I hate sewing together my knitted pieces. Most knitters do. People who like to knit are usually not people who like to sew but unless your goal is to create a big pile of sweater parts, sewing eventually becomes necessary. So does trying on the garment. You can work months, even years on a project only to find that the damn thing doesn't fit or worse-looks awful on you. Lucky me. Big Red fits right down to those crazy over-sized sleeve cuffs. I am not totally loving the collar though. It looks a bit like Count Dracula's. I can either reknit it or hide it with a big scarf. I'm going with the scarf.