Saturday, January 31, 2009

Big Boo Boo

Taking advantage of a furloughed day, (yes PGC Public Schools, I dared to say furlough: giving me 3 days "off" in place of my yearly $100 a month step increase is actually worse than being furloughed, so don't call it anything else you lying bastards) I picked up my Central Park Hoodie and look at what I found. A cable where there is not supposed to be a cable. In the realm of knitting boo boos this one is a rather scary. I can't think of a thing to blame this on. I also owe #2 son an apology for getting huffy when he sent me some health links this week on preventing dementia. It seems that drinking apple juice keeps the brain working. I'm getting some.

PS: To President Obama (just in case you read knitting blogs): We are not sissys here in the Wash DC area for closing schools when it snows. You just don't get it. We don't do it out of fear but out of celebration. You people up north get lots of snow. We get a sprinkle every few years so let us stay home and enjoy it for goodness sake. By the time school is out, the snow is usually gone!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Snow Day

I took advantage of our first snow day of the year to finish my striped scarf. I took it outside for its photo shoot and laid it on an iced over pile of snow because overnight our fluffy white stuff turned into a solid frozen mass. It turns out the wonky selvedge where I ran the black yarn does not look too bad when the thing is knotted up around your neck. This one may not suffer the same fate as all my other uglies and actually be worn. It is yet another boucle hybrid as I am still afraid to try yarns that are not so forgiving of my sloppy technique. I had planned on venturing outside to enjoy the winter wonderland this afternoon but it has begun to rain so I think I'll go warp up the loom again and enjoy what's left of the white stuff from the window.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Difference a Day Makes

That's the great thing about the weather around here. One day you are breaking records for months between accumulating snow and the next you have an unexpected blizzard on your hands. This is supposed to be less than an inch of snow but that table tells me different. We had a 2 hour early dismissal from school today so while it was still daylight I got the first shoveling of the year in. I shoveled everything in sight. I even shoveled a path into the woods for our woodland friends so they can make their way to the house for their nightly rummage through the trash cans.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Daily Dose

In order to drive away the wicked winter blues I have been dragging out some of my most colorful fibers to play with. If you had asked me 3 weeks ago what my favorite season was I would have said without hesitation that is was winter. Today I am not so sure. Winter for us here in the Washington DC area means a few days of cold mixed with an equal number of mild days so dealing with whatever Mother Nature sends our way is usually not a problem. For several weeks however, we have been blasted with an unrelenting jet stream of cold air that has created the cruelest of conditions. Mercifully, yesterday we made it all the way back up to almost 60 degrees. We saw the sun again and it was good. Today though we are plunged back into the depth of bitter despair with another week or so of frigid misery ahead.

We have no snow here. Nothing to justify all this stinking cold. No snowmen or rosy cheeked children riding sleds down hills here. No winter wonderland. We have iced over mud and stiff winds that suck the breath right out of you. For the next few miserable days I am hiding inside and turning my attention to all my warm wooly wonders while dreaming of warmer days ahead. It's only about 100 days to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. I can't wait.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Ravelry to the Rescue

Up until this week I had only considered Ravelry a source of entertainment but this week it saved my butt. After agreeing to producing a couple more Flared Smoke rings I realized I had no idea how I had made the first one. I had the pattern but I knew I had deviated from the original directions. After a few unsuccessful attempts to try and figure it out by swatching, I remembered that my original FO was on my project page. Duh. Thankfully I had completed the page with all the details I needed to get going. I had even posted lots of great photos to help me judge the completed size.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

My First Stripes

I was finally brave enough to try weaving in some stripes using two shuttles. Using what I know about Fair Isle knitting, I thought I could just wrap the ends around each other to avoid cutting the yarn. However, I used such a large repeat pattern that you can see the wrap very clearly on one end and it is not very attractive. It gives one edge a very unbalanced, messy look. After doing some research, I now know NOT to use this technique if your repeat is more than a half of an inch in length. Unweaving is much faster than unknitting but I am going to continue on with this one in spite of its obvious flaws. Since I already have a huge pile of really ugly handwoven scarves what's one more? Maybe I will sew them all together and make some kind of crazy quilt throw. Maybe.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Elective Surgery

My Hedgerow Coat has been a constant source of irritation. I finally get a winter cold enough to actually wear some of my handmade woolies and this thing has turned out to be a real UGH. First I hated the floppy collar so I frogged it and reknit it. Now it is those awful cuffs that have to go. The ribbing is so long that when rolled up they almost reached my elbow. I was not about to remove both sleeves and reknit them from the shoulder down. Encouraged with my recent sock rescue I took some scissors and just snipped them off. I rolled up a small hem and using a running stitch from the front tacked it down and them whipped stitched it from the inside to secure any loose stitches. Not a perfect solution by any means but certainly better than those floppy cuffs that were so not me. The next step is to order some dye to tone down that bright red wool. Nobody over the age of four should be walking around in something that big and that red.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

It's a Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

Thank you PGC Public Schools for giving me this day off to welcome the new neighbors. Being a total lazy ass, I spent the morning in front of the TV getting some serious knitting done instead of braving the cold and the crowd. The new work in progress is a Flared Smoke Ring but around here it will now be forever known as the Inaugural Smoke Ring. It's a long story that begins with my sister loaning hers to a relative to wear to the downtown festivities and the final result being that I now need to make a few more. I'm not sure this is what our new president would consider as a significant contribution to his community service initiative but it did keep me out of trouble for the morning.

Having a Ball

I love mindless, repetitive activity. I do not own a ball winder and can't imagine why anyone would ever want to deny themselves the pleasure of spending an afternoon winding wool. The tangled end is the yarn equivalent of a good jigsaw puzzle. Some people think it is liberating to just cut that part away, time being more precious than the last few yards. It is a combination of wanting to accept the challenge and fear that keeps me winding. I just know that if I cut off the last bits I will be absolutely certain to run short.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Worth Every Penny

Some people sleep walk. I sleep shop. My nightly ritual is reading blogs until I nod off. Someone, somewhere had a post last week about the best bread they have ever made and went on and on about this new baking technique outlined in the cookbook Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. I must be able to hit the one click purchase button on Amazon in my sleep because the book showed up at my door yesterday. I gave it a try today and this IS THE BEST BREAD EVER. No kneading, no mess. Just plop it all in a bowl. You barely mix it up. It sits on the counter for a few hours and then you put it in the fridge for a couple more hours and voila: the chewiest, crunchiest bread this side of Paris. The 5 minute deal is that you make a giant tub of gooey dough, keep it in the fridge and then you can cut off a grapefruit sized piece every night. You let it rise on the counter for a bit and then pop it into the oven where it swells up to be a delicious artisan boule with a lovely crust and soft insides. The book says to let it cool for the best flavor, but this one was gone within minutes of its photo shoot. To be honest, the backside of this loaf was already eaten before I had even thought to get the camera out. I had to pose it carefully to hide my impatience.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Too Cold To Blog

Since 6 am I have been huddled in my bedroom with a small space heater, 2 little dogs and a giant bird cage. We have a heat pump and if the temperature goes below freezing the only thing we get is cold air blowing from the vents. This morning, in the Washington DC area, it was only 9 degrees which is unheard of around here. I have several projects on the needles to keep me busy but my fingers and brain are numb so I cast on some mindless socks using a ball of my green homespun that had been waiting for just the right moment. A hot cup of coffee, a warm ball of wool with the promise of warmer feet and my latest book were the perfect ingredients for surviving this miserable morning. The only problem was that my mind kept wandering as to whether to go out and buy a bigger heater and possibly an electric blanket or two or build a fire in the wood stove and wait it out the old fashioned way.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Stupid Me

I am not new to lace knitting but I am new to life lines. My first experience with them was on the 20 something stitch edging on my pi shawl. They were a miracle, saving me from lots of hair pulling and stomach churning. When I began this large wrap project I used them faithfully, knitting across the whole gigantic row and then leaving them in for peace of mind. I put them in every 6 rows as this is a complicated 28 row pattern repeat. This morning it dawned on me that these long threads might not come out so easily so I gave one a tug. Nothing moved. Worse, I could hardly see where they were although they were bunching up my millions of knitted stitches. Slowly and carefully with a pair of tweezers and some sharp tipped scissors, I cut out all those miserable threads leaving only the last needed one in. New Rule: Snip and pick before I knit.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The In Crowd

There are some things that every knitter in the know must eventually make:

Booga Bag-so over it
February Ladies Sweater-have one
Wonderful Wallaby-got it
Dumpling Bag-check
Clapotis-ummm....sorry, ain't going there and I don't care if there are 9424 of them out there, I just don't want one-yet.

Here is my newest trendy WIP. Ta dah...The Central Park Hoodie. 2127 of them are finished or in progress. It comes in right under the FLS in popularity. I used to choose my projects because they were things I wanted to knit but now I have to admit that I troll the pattern popularity pages to see what all the other Ravelmaniacs are doing before I commit to a project. I never realized what a total groupie I am. I wish I had known in the 70's. I would have better stories to tell.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Battle Plans

My war with Mothra is far from over. I was willing to concede a sock or two but last night while plying some lovely green singles on my wheel I was attacked by none other than the cursed beast herself and several of her minions. It seems that my wheel and the area around it has not only been gathering dust over the holidays but has become ground zero for the evil winged things. Off to Walmart this morning to fill a cart full of more plastic things.
Things that hinge, things that snap, things that zip.
Even plastic things on rollers.
Central Park Hoodie got a very nice blue plastic carrying case.
I spent the afternoon washing baskets and gift wrapping all my wooly things in plastic with a paper covered moth ball packet for extra insurance. It's my own fault for tempting the little critters by leaving all my pretty leftovers from spinning out in baskets to admire. Those damn moths have been admiring the hell out of all my hard work.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Goodbye Kitty

After several frustrating tries I was finally able to successfully cover this giant kitty in pink yarn. I am not going to claim that it is a good fit, but it does cover the necessary kitty parts to be considered a sweater. The self striping yarn did some strange patterning and my button hole placements leave a lot to be desired but all in all it's decent enough to send her home in to her new mommy. It's been fun, but I have to admit I am glad to see her go.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mothra 2- Me 0

My battle against the ravages of Mothra has become a total comedy of errors. After snipping away the offending patch and then snipping the other sock to match, I slowly and carefully unknit the stitches in order to be able to reknit them back into a shorter version of themselves. All was going well until in some total fit of insanity I took all the unraveled yarn and plunked it into water to get the kinks out WITHOUT TYING THEM INTO SKEINS FIRST. I am a spinner. I know how to process wool into yarn so WHAT THE HELL WAS I THINKING? The kinky yarn all dissolved into a giant tangled wad that had to be painfully picked apart. Cold, wet, drippy yarn all over the bathroom. Grrr. I had to dry all that wet yarn stretched out on whatever I had handy to do the job, in this case a basket handle. spite of all that preparation and 2 nights of reknitting the blankety-blank socks, the mighty moth won the war. I just discovered another hole in the foot. Can't be cut. Can't be darned. Damn moth.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Man versus Mothra Part 2

For anyone not familiar with Mothra here are 3 minutes that explain it all:

I forgot how much I LOVED that Mothra song when I was a kid. I have no idea what those tiny twins are saying but I still can sing along.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Man versus Mothra

This is a giant pair of MAN socks. They are so long that on me they would be knee highs. Apparently over the summer a MOTH the size of MOTHRA had a good time with one of them. I am very vigilant about packing away the knitwear for the summer but it seems THE MAN is not. My attempt at darning this mess was PITIFUL. There is now a big ugly wad where the hole used to be and I have to say, that now, looking at the photo, the hole looks better than the patch. I am tempted to just cut them off and reknit them into a shorter length and be done with it. I don't know who I am more upset with-the MAN or the MOTH.

Monday, January 5, 2009

February Kitty Sweater

Daughter got this bare naked Hello Kitty for Christmas so we just had to run out and get yarn to make her a sweater. I want to make her a kitty sized February Baby Sweater but the whole idea has been a disaster. Since I just finished my own FLS you would think this would be a no brainer. However, the "pithy" directions in the Knitter's Almanac have made my brains hurt. I stalked all the Ravelry sites and beaucoup blogs where I saw plenty of gorgeous, perfectly fitted sweaters so it seems I am the ONLY person on the planet that does NOT get those percentages. Worse, this baby is not going to grow into it so I have to have a perfect fit. AND she has the neck the size of a linebacker so all those increase rows must be radically altered. After many false starts, I am now knitting with her sitting in my lap fitting it on her as I go. Try that with a real baby.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Going Green?

Every store you go in now has its own green version of the plastic bag. At 99 cents they are a real bargain. They appeal to my hippy-dippy, granola-eating self so I have managed to end up with quite a collection-almost a landfills worth. Daughter warns that if I don't stop I will be responsible for destroying the planet. The photo only shows the ones waiting patiently in my living room-not the GIANT IKEA ones that live in my car OR the twins (or triplets) of the ones you see here OR the ones that were holiday themed which are now packed away until next year OR the ones that now hold stash. Although I have good intentions, my contribution to the next big global disaster goes like this: Take bags to the store, forget them and leave them in the car, see the ones at the register, buy them. Repeat.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

At Loose Ends

Since I am still on vacation until the 5th, I have found lots of time to have fun with the new loom. This is my first attempt at using different colors to warp the thing and I really like the results. Now that I have figured out the mechanics of it all, my imagination is going wild with all the color combinations my stash has to offer. I am happy that this weaving thing that I am going through is still happening in spite of the fact that I was slightly traumatized recently when my poor little brown guy scarf was RETURNED because the blankety blank guy in question DIDN'T LIKE IT. Yes. I said it was GIVEN BACK. New rule for 2009: Only make things for people who ask for things. Wait a minute. Now that I think about it-that SOB asked me for that scarf. I should have strangled him with it. Men.

Friday, January 2, 2009


Only 300 and something days until next Christmas and I am already excited about knitting up some holiday colored dishcloths to wash all those stinking dishes I just spent the week complaining about to anyone who would listen. I was seriously up to my elbows in greasy crud and thinking about how nice it would have been to be using a hand knit holiday colored rag. Seriously. However, having just spent several days packing away all the Christmas odds and ends out of sight and out of mind, I am wondering how I am going to manage NOT to lose it before next year. Next year is a long way away. Seriously.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2008: My Year in Review

It seems I have been pretty darn busy this year:
One dumpling bag, two hats, three sweaters, four shawls, five pair of socks, six washcloths and a partridge in a pair tree.
Just kidding.

The thing I get the most use out of: My black woven scarf-lightweight but warm
The thing I wasted my time making: The Trinity Stitch Beret-way too big
The most expensive project: February Lady Sweater-bought twice the amount of yarn needed
The thing I am most proud of: Pi Shawl-an exercise in patience
Something I am already making another one of: Prayer shawl-good for snuggling
The most fun to knit: Tie between the sock blanks on a long circ and the Dumpling Bag-both addicting, must make more
Hated every stitch but finished anyway: Olympic mittens-I hate deadlines and Lopi in the summer
Can't wait to start: Central Park Hoodie-I want one, too!

Happy New Year!