Inexcusable

That’s the only word that can accurately describe my absence. I have excuses, but they’re pretty lame (flu (me), flu (Max), hip/back issues, etc., etc…do you feel even a little bad for me yet?).  But I’m back – for tonight, at least – to give you some random updates.

1. I’m finally doing a “Mystery Knit-a-Long”. I’ve been waiting for ages to find one of these before the mystery is solved and the fun has left the yarn store. The pattern is “Iznik I Heart You“, and all I know is that it’s lace, a shawl, and has ~1500 beads. This is SO not my kind of project: I love lace yarn (I have a rather impressive collection), but I hate to knit with it (which is why my collection is so impressive); I also dislike working with beads. They interrupt my knitting flow, and there’s way too much brow furrowing involved in getting the beads to go over a stitch. But this pattern is impressively well written, and the final product will be a surprise, so I’m going to stick with it. The first clue was released on Saturday, and I’ve already finished it. If you’re interested in joining in, the pattern is free until March 14th (read the pattern description to find the coupon code).

(psst…if you want to see mine so far, click here. I didn’t want to put the picture in the post in case I spoiled the surprise for someone else)

2. I finished a really cute sweater for Penny (a few weeks ago). I love it, and she loves it, and because of all this love, I’m going to make her another one.  My LYS has a sample of “Diggory” from Berroco, and it is sooooooo cute….but again, not something that I’d usually choose. It’s knit out of cotton, and the non-stretchy properties of cotton make my hands ache. But I’m going to make an exception this once, and see if I can get over it. So a few minutes ago I purchased the pattern, and started to look for the appropriate needles – size 5 & size 6, straight. My straight needles keep disappearing, but not in pairs. So I have one size 7, and one size 9 – you know the drill. When I looked in my mason jar o’needles, however, I immediately located both size 5s and both size 6s. This sweater is meant to be. So I’m going to start it right after I finish here.

Penny modeling her new orange sweater

Penny especially likes the giant buttons on her sweater, because she can do them all by herself.

3. Another project that I’ve (almost) finished is a pair of socks for my lovely hubby. Since I’ve started knitting, I’ve made him a hat and a pair of fingerless mitts…but that’s it. I was having some guilt about his wool deficiency, so I used “David’s Toe-Up Sock Cookbook” to create a pair of socks for Sir Alex. They’re not totally finished yet, because I can’t find my darning needles, which means I can’t weave the ends in. All this is because I can’t remember what I finished before I started on his socks, so I don’t know which bag to look in. And I don’t remember what I was working on before because I haven’t been blogging.

Socks that I knit for my husband, Alex.

They’re lovely, but a little sad with those long strings still hanging from them.

4. Which is why I’ll do my best to write some more tomorrow, so I’ll be able to find stuff.

…where I become one with my inner Dora

Lo hice!

OK, so Dora would have said, “Lo hicimos!”, but Boots wasn’t with me today when I went to the yarn store to teach my very first knitting class. I was on my own. Luckily, my class was filled with seven lovely ladies – even one from Menasha, Wisconsin who was in town with her husband on their annual “hide from the cold weather” vacation – and after my kind of awkward and shaky introduction, everything went great.

Among other things, I was nervous about how I was going to stretch teaching a non-conventional cast on (after that, it’s just ribbing and stockinette until we hit the heel flap) to fill a full 90 minutes. But as soon as we got going, there were questions and stories, and suddenly it was 3:00 and we were done. I didn’t even get a chance to tell my joke.

At the end, even the lady who argued with me every time I gave a direction was smiling and laughing, so I’m going to call my first class a roaring success.

Oh, and they loved the project bags. But that’s definitely (why can I never spell “definitely” right the first time?) not happening again. I don’t have the constitution to make that many fiddly little bags for every class.

AND (I can hardly handle how well this weekend is going) I finished my confidence boosting sweater. Observe!

Fitted February Pullover by Amy Herzog

My Fitted February Pullover, knit with Malabrigo Rios yarn

Fitted February Pullover by Amy Herzog 

I almost love this sweater…It may take another washing or two for the stitches to figure out exactly where they need to be. But it was comfy and warm, without being stifling hot, and I certainly appreciated it.

Unicorn what?

When I got home today, I found a little package on my front porch, and in it was this:

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Yep, I got a little tub of Unicorn Farts & a tube of Yeti Breath. The problem is, there was no note or packing slip inside, so I don’t know who to thank for this lovely and uniquely named gift.

If you sent it to me, leave me a comment and take your due credit! I love it, and want to thank you properly!

(in case you’re wondering, Unicorn Farts smell like sweet mint, and Yeti Breath is wonderful but difficult to describe)

(also, I finished my February Fitted Pullover; it’s being washed now, but I’ll get some pictures of it tomorrow)

 

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Too good to be true

Yesterday, I had an oddly successful crafting day. So successful, in fact, that I was slightly apprehensive about going to work today because surely, the proverbial other shoe was about to drop.

First, I made a cover for the lethally sharp end of my new spindle.

Spindle for Walking (Great) Wheel

The spindle is mostly benign, but having the cat and the kids around it made me nervous enough to make something to cover the point (this is the spindle, sans cover).

Spindle for Walking (Great) Wheel with it's cover

I made the cover out of some Fimo clay, then baked it in the oven. The design is very abstract, because I suck at making stuff out of clay.

The cover is attached to the accelerator head with a bit of stretchy string (like you’d use to make a beaded bracelet) so it will stay on when I need it to, but can be easily removed.

Next, I made a little project bag.

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It’s lined, and reversible.  And even more impressively, the pieces are all the right size AND the edges are straight.  If you want to see (kind of) how I did it, I referenced these directions. My plan is to make a bunch of these for Saturday.

Wait…did you not hear about Saturday?

I’m teaching a beginning sock knitting class at Yarning for You in San Marcos!! I’m very very excited, and more than a little nervous. To celebrate my very first class, I’m planning to give a little project bag to each student.  In addition to the basic sock class, I’m also going to be teaching a color work class and a more “advanced” sock class in February and March.

Which brings me to my final crafting victory for yesterday. The sleeves for my new sweater are nearly done. I’ve already finished the body, so (in theory, at least) this should be ready to wear for Saturday. There’s nothing like a new sweater that you made all by yourself to fill you with confidence!

February Fitted Pullover - Sleeves

And even though I was nervous, I did, in fact, go to work today, and nothing blew up. Yay! Two good days in a row (knocking on wood now)!

All Hail, the Day After!

Wow, the day after Christmas is so…

Mellow.

Sami is at her dad’s house.

Jojo is shopping with a friend.

Max is at a hockey “training camp”.

Alex is out (I think at the bookstore, but I could be wrong).

And Penny and I are lounging about in our jammies, watching cartoons, and playing with our new toys.

It’s been so long since I’ve had the time or energy to sit down and write out a post, that it feels slightly odd to do it now. But I’m back (at least until next Christmas’ craziness). I did finish all of my Wisconsin-bound knitting in time, and will show you photos of the items in action as I get them. For now, here is the Beer Mitten (from Knitty) that I made for my friend Mike. It took just an evening to knit and is really quite a clever design, addressing a problem most people didn’t know they had.

Beer Mitten from Knitty
Mike sent me this picture of his beer mitten in action.

I hope all of you had a lovely Christmas as well, filled with as much joy and merriment as you could handle. And I hope that you are enjoying the day after, as well.

Instead of that other thing

I just deleted a post where I put a lot of energy into taking dictation from the whiney voice in my head. To replace it, I’m going to do a bit of randomness for you.

1. This afternoon I went into a store to buy shampoo, soda, and coffee. I picked up the shampoo, then stood in the aisle near the checkouts for nearly a minute trying to remember what else I needed. I decided the shampoo was all I came in for, and proceeded to get in line to pay. Once I reached the front of the line, I remembered the soda.

2. Since at no time whilst executing number 1 (above) did I remember that I also needed coffee, I had to make another trip to the store after Max & Penny went to bed.

3. I’ve been diligently knitting on my Christmas gifts (although to be honest, I can’t remember how many I have left to do – but I think I wrote a post about it a few weeks ago, so I’ll just have to go back and look), but making lists (in my head, of course, because why would I actually want to remember this stuff) of all the lovely things I’m going to make once the holiday knitting is complete. I finished the second project-that-can’t-be-named at 4:09 am on Saturday, and wove in the ends and blocked it at a more reasonable time that afternoon.

4. I just glanced over at my wool chest, where I thought I had my pile of finished gifts stacked, and I can’t see any of them. As soon as I’m done with this post, I’ll have to investigate and possibly put a cat up for sale on eBay.

5. Tonight I went to my project page on Ravelry and hit refresh, fully expecting to see the “% complete” numbers to increase. I really can’t explain it, and (just in case you’re thinking about trying it yourself) it didn’t work.

6. I met a knitter named Diane at the ice rink last Friday. Not only did I meet her, but I had an actual conversation with her (I have trouble talking to strangers)! She said she had recently started knitting again, and was pretty excited about it.

7. I have about 40 rows left to knit before I start decreasing for the toe of the second stranded sock, so I’m going to go work on it now.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll show you some pictures of stuff.

But don’t count on it, because I’ll probably forget.

Too much Math

I’m still working on my Christmas knitting, and while the end is in sight, I still have some marathon-level work to do if I’m going to reach my goal of mailing all of my gifts back to Wisconsin during Thanksgiving week. I’ve found that I work much better under pressure, and can think of no better pressure than to figure out just how unlikely it is that I’ll get it done – and then do it.

To that end, after I ate lunch today I did some calculations on how much of the project-that-can’t-be-named v.2 I have left to knit.

There are 155 garter row “bumps” left. Each bump (2 rows) takes 3 minutes to knit.
155*3 = 465 minutes
465/60= 7.7 hours of knitting.
If I knit non-stop from noon (the end of my lunch hour), I could be done before bedtime. Unfortunately (and as usual), the whole “work” thing is getting between me and my knitting.

And, as if 7.75 hours of knitting isn’t daunting enough, I also calculated how many stitches are left.
155*50 (stitches per row) * 2 (rows per bump) = 15,500 stitches.
15,500 stitches LEFT TO KNIT.
This number is only slightly more palatable when compared to the number of stitches I’ve already knit (30,700), or the total number of stitches in the entire project-that-can’t-be-named v.2 (46,200).

It is, however, much easier to deal with when I consider that this is the second project-that-can’t-be-named that I’m making for Christmas this year, which means that I will have knit 92,400 stitches just for these two gifts.

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Two. Out of eight.

I’m not going to count the stitches on the other six, especially since one of them hasn’t been started yet.

Happy Birthday Penny!

You’d think I’d Never Knit Before

Yesterday I ventured out to the yarn store to show them the lovely baby sweaters before they get sent off to their respective little owners. While there, I found the most beautiful yarn (Tosh Merino Light, colorway “Cosmos”) and knew what needed to be done. I bought the Tosh, plus a skein of Frog Tree Pediboo in white and was excited to get home and start knitting a pair of socks that I’ve been contemplating for a long time (“Snow Under Cedars” from Think Outside the Sox).

SnowUnderCedars - 1

SnowUnderCedars - 2

Before I left the store, however, I was invited to join the ladies who were working for lunch. I had planned to stop off and get lunch on my own, and I have no issues with sitting in a restaurant by myself, knitting until my food arrives. But I seldom have an opportunity to chat with other knitters (other than my mom and Sami), and it was an offer I found difficult to pass by. We talked a little bit about knitting, and then about movies and books we enjoyed, and suddenly instead of a quick visit to the store, I’d spent well over an hour there – and enjoyed every second.

When I finally got home, I introduced the yarn I’d purchased to the pattern I had in mind and the needles (size 0 – oh my!) that would be integral in the transmutation of yarn into socks. And then, things got a little dicey.

On the first page of most patterns in this book there is a note that directs the knitter to page 168 for “unfamiliar techniques”. And the pattern I was using started off with, “Cast on (many, many) stitches using the braided cast on” which was, to me, an unfamiliar technique. But consulting page 168 (and 169, and 170) provided no clue as to how to achieve a “braided cast on”.

So I Googled it. No help.

The best I could find was a two-color cast on, which is used extensively the Latvian mittens I’ve knit, and which page 169 of my pattern book explained very well. I decided there must have been some miscommunication between the designer and the publisher over what the cast-on was called, and proceeded to cast on (many, many stitches).  After knitting the requisite 6 rows of corrugated ribbing (which I dislike vehemently, but I was trying to make the socks from the book and not my own hybrid interpretation of them), I finally glanced at the next page of the pattern [I should note here that I didn't have to turn the page to see it. It was right there, visible the entire time I was whining about the corrugated ribbing thing] and found illustrated step-by-step instructions on how to do a braided cast on.

So I’d totally ignored rule #1 (or at least #5) in knitting: Read thru the entire pattern before starting.

There was no way I was going to rip out all that ribbing, so I just made a note to remind me to use a two-color cast on on the second sock as well, and carried on. An hour was spent doing a two color braid around the cuff, and then I was finally ready to start on the color work part of the sock.

SnowUnderCedars - 4

The chart for this section is a standard color work chart. Thirteen rows, numbered from the bottom to the top. And I’ve been using charts for knitting almost since I started nearly six years ago. And still I started reading the chart – even noting the row number – at the top row.

I knit row 13.

Then I knit row 12. Then 11. Then 10. And then it hit me.

I was making the design upside down.

I recovered quickly and, to my credit, did not even briefly consider chucking the whole thing across the room. But I’m still not as far along as I thought I’d be, and it stings because I do know how to knit. I just forgot last night.

SnowUnderCedars - 3

Baby Hu Sweater - 3

Catching Up

So, it’s been a while, right? Well, I’ve been here the whole time, knitting and watching mindless television (because many of my current projects are either garter stitch knit flat or stockinette in the round) and trying to get something finished so I could show it off.

Well, you’re in luck today! I have two very cute little person sweaters to share with you. First up is the second Seamless Blue (but in pink this time), and is part of the Christmas knitting lineup.

Seamless Pink - 1

Seamless Pink - 2

Just as I was finishing the pink Seamless Blue, Sami told me that her favorite teacher and his wife were about to have their first baby. She wanted to knit their little bundle of joy a sweater, so I suggested the Puerperium Cardigan, a super-cute and FREE pattern on Ravelry. Of course, Sami being Sami, she had already decided on a pattern (she’s not nearly as wishy-washy as I am), but I really wanted to see the Puerperium Cardi knit up in person so I offered to make them a sweater as well.

So. Totally. Worth it.

Baby Hu Sweater - 1

This little sweater challenges my previously held notions of cute.

Baby Hu Sweater - 2

The yarn is left over handspun Alpaca from the polka dot mitts I knit a couple of years ago. I have about 5 yards left, which was cutting it pretty close.

Baby Hu Sweater - 4

Baby Hu Sweater - 3

And don’t you love the buttons? I got them from Common Threads (their store is much cooler than their website – don’t judge them) last weekend while Sami and I were finishing up the San Diego Yarn Crawl. I’ll tell you about that later (have you noticed that, when I write that ["...I'll tell you about that later..."], I never ever do?)