Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
I just wanted to wish everyone Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I am going to take a break until after the new year so that I can work on projects and of course shovel snow. We are getting pounded with tons of snow most of us here don't know what to do with. Forget about driving in it.

So we are hunkering down and chilling (literally) out. I am working on setting up some knitting projects (socks) for 2011. I will come back after the new year with some 2011 knitting challenges.

I hope that everyone has had a great holiday season no matter what or when you celebrate! I wish that everyone has a wonderful New Year's Day and a very productive and happy 2011. Thanks for reading my blog this past year. I hope that you stick around for 2011. I would like to do more things with my blog this next year so let's see what happens. Hugs to you all and very warm wishes.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Handling Things

I have been trying to knit on three different projects at once and they are all coming together but just not fast enough. Over Thanksgiving weekend I did make some progress on two of the projects. I like to challenge myself and this project is really doing that!

I am making a pair of Convertible Mittens. Mind you have I have never done gloves or anything with a finger but hey why should that stop me?? I got the idea from Ravelry and actually found the pattern there. The only problem was I had to order a book to get the pattern. So I did. Well, I got two books by the same woman. I am excited about the other patterns but the Convertible Mittens pattern was the main reason I got one of the books by Sandi Rosner. Here is one of the books I ordered. Here is the other. They are small books but I have found plenty of patterns that will get used sooner or later...mostly later because I am running out of time.

The Convertible Mittens are pretty cool. They are wrist warmers with finger holes for four fingers but the thumb is knit completely.

Then there is the "hat" of the gloves that covers up the fingers when you aren't using them to pick up something.
The "hat" is attached to the body of the glove it self so that you don't lose it when it's not being used.

There is a button attached to hold the "hat" in place when you need to use your fingers. I don't know who came up with this idea, but it's practical and cute at the same time.

I finally finished the gloves and they will be on the hands of a really nice person that I have met over this past year.

I hope that she likes them. I will be finding out this week because we are going to surprise some of the workers at Borjo Cafe with handmade gifts for them. My favorite group of knitting friends go there once maybe twice a month to knit and sip on coffee and listen to live music. A nice surprise for good service, conversations about our knitting and loads of laughs are rewarded with a gift. 'Tis the season, right.

I was hoping that before post time tomorrow that I would have picture of the happy person who was gifted the Convertible Mittens. Sadly our weather was horrible and I am not going to see that person so when I do see them, I will post her picture. Love the snow, blast the bad timing!

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's a Guy Thing

It's a guy thing!

I have been knitting with a friend for over two years now and have gotten to know more about her and her family as I sit and knit with her. I have made several things for her over the years as gifts but have never done anything for her husband. John is a very nice man and it frankly never occurred to me to give him anything that was knitted. His wife knits so I just figure she would knit things for him.

Recently, well a wee bit ago, I made some felted bowls. Do you remember these? I gave them both away to different friends and I am happy to report, they both get used. During a conversation on a knit day John's wife commented to me that after they bought some new furniture and did some rearranging, there was a territorial felted bowl conflict. The felted bowl that she received for her birthday seemed to be collecting male "stuff" when it was moved to another table in the den. My friend said that John needed his own bowl. I know it was just a comment made in passing while lamenting over the guy "stuff" being in her bowl where her knitting "stuff" usually sat.

So the light bulb went off in my head and I began plotting. John would need HIS own felted bowl for his man "stuff". In the passing conversation about brown bowl, a favorite color was mentioned. Bingo! I had a secret project and I set off to get it done and done it is. As a matter of fact, it's been done for a very long time but our schedules have not been great lately and we have had little time knitting together so the gift has been sitting on my cluttered dining room table forever! As much as I love how the bowl turned out, I need to see the table for Thanksgiving dinner and the bowl has got to go!
So here is the bowl already knitted, felted and being dried. It is not a color I love so there was some purchasing done at the LYS.

It's a bit hairy but some of my friends said they wouldn't shave it because it adds to the charm. Seriously? Hairy has charm? Uhmm...okay...

Here is the finished unshaven, very charming hairy guy bowl. Since it has no design, I had to give it some character with some plastic apples I usually have on my dining room table. Nice contrast right? So I hope that my friend will be happy when I gift this " guy thing" to her husband. I am hoping it will add to the marital bowl bliss at their house.

Friday, October 29, 2010


I thought I knew what the definition of Vortex was but went to this place to verify I knew what it meant. Here is what I found.

1. a whirling mass of water, esp. one in which a force of suction operates, as a whirlpool.
2. a whirling mass of air, esp. one in the form of a visible column or spiral, as a tornado.
3. a whirling mass of fire, flame, etc.
4. a state of affairs likened to a whirlpool for violent activity, irresistible force, etc.
5. something regarded as drawing into its powerful current everything that surrounds it: the vortex of war.
6. (in Cartesian philosophy) a rapid rotatory movement of cosmic matter about a center, regarded as accounting for the origin or phenomena of bodies or systems of bodies in space.

With all of those explanations I understand this pattern. It's the Vortex Shawl. When you look at the pattern you will see a few things. One, it's mostly the stockinette stitch with a few yarn overs thrown in to give it the "whirl" look. Two, it's so simple that most any advanced beginner can make this shawl. It truly looks harder than it really was. For me, understanding the directions was the hardest part. There were directions that didn't make sense to me and an error on the last row. It took a fellow knitter (thanks Ashley) to help me get through the directions. If I was going to stress anything about this pattern, it would be to use stitch markers as the directions say to. It will save you loads of heart ache later, ask me how I know...

The whole project from beginning to end took about five weeks. One of those weeks was my vacation in Seattle. I made the mistake of not taking this project with me for fear someone would take my needles and I would surely cause a scene at the airport. Addi Turbos are not cheap needles to be confiscated. I did not bring a SASE with me like a friend suggested. I would have been one very sad camper if they took my needles. Pulling the shawl with hundreds and hundreds of stitches would have just about killed me, so it stayed safely home.

The yarn is from Knit Picks and it's called Bare. This is an odd Bare because it has flecks of blue, red, yellow, and green. It's been discontinued so needing more was not an option. I used a size 7 needle with many different lengths as the shawl grew. I finished up with a 40 inch.

In the beginning, the pattern is a bit tricky but as it grows it gets easier and if you use the stitch markers like you are supposed to, you have very little to memorize. I didn't even print off the pattern.

Can you see what I mean about the beginning? It was a wee bit fiddly but I did manage to get it started. I think I took about three or four times and finally it took off.

Can you see the red, blue and yellow bits in the yarn? It's kind of an oatmeal color. The current Bare is pure white and is promoted by Knit Picks easy for dyeing. This is not the same stuff by far.

I was worried the shawl wasn't going to be large enough for me. When I washed it in the bathroom sink in the wool wash, it got to looking much larger than it was on the needles. Then I took it out and put it through the spin cycle in the washing machine and it got even larger.

It's too large. Look what I saw...
Yup, it doesn't fit on my 9 blocking squares. It sure doesn't fit on my dining room table either. See what's hanging over?? So I did not pin it down. Not enough surface space. I would have pinned it on to my bed but we have an air mattress bed so that won't work.
If you have read the Vortex pattern you know the edging is a picot edging with eight total stitches. I did not like the way that looked so I did mine with a total of four stitches. After doing it that way I could see the shawl was curling horribly. After it was washed, spun out and laid out, it didn't curl as badly as I thought it would.
All-in-all, I really enjoyed doing this very simple advanced beginner shawl. If you have a round dining room table and needle to table cloth, I think this could be done with a cotton of some sort. It would make a lovely gift.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Time Killer

Time Killer

I know the title to this post is an odd one. It's not like many of us have extra time these days to be killing some, but I have a few irons in the knitting fire and a project to kill some time until those projects come completely together was truly needed.

Recently, I signed up for my first toe-up sock class. Since that class will take at least a month, I needed sometime to do in between times I had class. So I searched through my Favorites on Ravelry and found something I thought would be more or less easy to complete. Boy did I get that wrong!

I wanted to make the Seafoam Shawl in some yarn from my stash. I found some that I bought at a"Yarn Yard Sale" when I was a member of my local Knitting Guild. I can't tell you exactly how much yarn was in the bag but it said there were 15-2- ball. The yarn is Lino-Fino. The balls are pretty small and only have about 170 yards each. I paid $15 for the whole lot. Lino-Fino is made from 62% cotton and 38% linen and comes from Switzerland. So it seemed like a good deal to me. Besides it was green. What's a girl to do?

The Seafoam Shawl only has four rows. Two of those rows are just stockinette. So I'm thinking, this is going to be a breeze. UGH! For some unknown reason, the simpler the pattern, the harder I seem to make it. To make a long story short, after ripping out the shawl row after row after row, I resorted to a life line. I just didn't want to rip out anymore rows. The shawl only increases two stitches a row. One increase is at the beginning of the row and the other is at the end of the row. The rest consists of knitting and YOs. It would be a great beginner lace project since there are only four rows.

YOs seem pretty easy until you discover three rows down that you missed one. Every row should have an even number of stitches at the end. If there is an odd number, you have to rip out at least two rows to find and fix your error. I am not good at fixing a YO three rows down so I counted every row's stitches and I did finally break down and used a life line.
Here is the finished shawl from the front. The edges have a nice little ruffle made from kfKb increases. The main portion of the shawl is knit first and then the ruffle is added last. Be sure and use a 40 inch needle. I had a 32 inch and it got a bit hairy at the end. I forgot to mention that the doubled the yarn so that it would be more heavy. The pattern recommends a sock weight if I remember correctly.
Here is the back. It's a very small shawlette. I am planning to use it as a neck piece more than a shawlette. Do you see the cute ruffle?
As you can see the shawlette is pretty small. It doesn't even cover the back of my dining room chair. It was a fun project to fill in the gaps of working on my socks and a present for a friend. Now on to work on my sock for class.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Where Has All The Time Gone?

Where Has All The Time Gone?

I have not been a good blogger lately but I have still been a good knitter and I have been doing some other things that have kept me from keeping up here. Even though I have not been faithful to blogging, I have been faithful to my knitting. I three projects in progress and two of them have been long term projects. The two long term projects have been the sock blankie and the cotton blankie. They have been sitting around waiting for project number three to be done which is happening.

Besides knitting on the frog ensemble I went on a vacation of sorts. My husband had a business trip in the Seattle area and I got to tag along. It was really fun and only rained four days of the nine we were in the area. So it wasn't so bad. Seattle took my breath away as always and I would go back there to live any day of the week despite all the rainy days.

While my husband was working the first four days in a small town on the outskirts of Seattle, I had the rental car. So I got to go out everyday and play. I took my Garmin on the plane with me so we could use it in the rental car. I had big plans for shopping. I made it to three places that were on my list. There were way many more places I could have gone but you can only pack so much yarn in your suit case without paying even more money.

The first shop that I made it to was recommended to me by a friend here who used to live in that area. She was dying for me to go there and I was given strict instructions to take pictures, which I did. While I have not read these books, it didn't matter. I still got to the shop.

This is the shop that has Debbie Macomber's name on it. It's in Port Orchard, WA. The shop was bright, cheerful, clean and full of goodies that any yarnie would be thrilled to fondle. I know I was. I tried to use self control while in there keeping in mind that I have to get back on a plane with a suitcase that does not weigh as much as I do.
I just loved all the little Preemie hats on display. Who could pass these cuties up when shopping there? My eye feasted on this display.
I loved the color work in the vest, the matching hat and the baby doll with her own little vest.

Here is a close up of the adult sized vest and hat.
They are both really beautiful. Someone put in a lot of work on these. I am not sure I would have the patience for this and I think that's why I so admire these so much.
There were so many colorful things in the shop and this is just another example why I loved the shop.

This hat was next to the sweater above. I think they might have been examples of what was going to be taught in a class. Either way, I loved them both.

For some reason I seem to seek out buttons in yarn shops. Debbie Macomber's didn't disappoint. I bought two skeins of yarn to keep me busy in the hotel room in the evenings or when I would wake up at 4 AM everyday! The time difference gave me loads of time to work on projects because bed time was at 8. Ugh.

So that was the first shop I visited. I will post about two more places in the next weeks. It would be a really long post if I did all three of them at once so just one for now. Plus it will give me time to finish my current project so that I can take a picture. Time as you know, is not always on my side. See ya!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Feeling Froggy

There are some days I don't feel like getting anything done. You know those days where you would rather stay in your jammies all day? Now that I have cut the amount of hours I work, I have time to get a long neglected list of things done both for the house and knitting. I have been working on the blankies (not really-they are UFOs in waiting right now), a baby gift, one pair of socks that have been on the needles for a year (that is disgraceful) and the newest project that I am lovin'.

The more urgent project was started and almost (99%) finished within a few days. I was supposed to attend a baby shower for a co-worker and waited until the last minute to get the gift done. I had a conversation in passing with her one day and I got inspiration from our conversation. Since she doesn't read my blog-forget even knowing about it, I will post my pictures for the project.

My co-worker wanted a hat and booties for the baby to come home from the hospital in. She is due in December. Okay, the search was on. I bookmarked at least 10-20 baby hats in my Ravelry favorites and then viola, it came to me one day. The co-worker's husband is an avid bicycle rider. He's a chef like his wife but he has a passion for riding bikes. There is a local bike shop here called Fat Frogs. I am not sure how he is connected to the shop; maybe just a customer but it gave me a great idea.

Frogs. The baby needed a frog themed gift. I searched Ravelry and guess what I found?? Yup, I got myself a pattern for a frog hat, no scratch mittens and some very simple booties. Not sure if any of them will fit but she can use them for as long as she wants and then give them away. I thought the gift would be good for some laughs from the daddy. So here are my efforts.

First the booties. These are the simplest booties and the are knit in one piece and have to be sew up. If I have time I might make some more complicated booties but for now these are it. I haven't done my finishing yet as you can see from the ends hanging down.

Next are the "No Scratch Mittens". These are every bit as easy as the booties but they are done in the round. So quick to make and they are cute. I made them in green too so they will match everything else.
Last but not least...the hat. This is the cutest part of the whole ensemble. Just too cute.
What is a frog without the eyes???
I have not sown on the eyes yet. I have to either find or purchase some fiber fill to put in the eyes so they sit up on the head when they are put on. I will sew too little slits for the nostrils.
And the finished still not done. Hopefully I will feel motivated here shortly. I will post it when it's done.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

In A Jam

In A Jam
I have been knitting every day, really. The body of the yellow and white blankie is nearly finished and the wool blankie is resting until cooler weather prevails. I have to move on to other projects that are calling to me. One project that is being worked on is a baby gift. Pictures and pattern link will happen next week. I want to finish it before posting about it. It's about 75% finished, so you know it was a smallish project.

So in the mean time I have been caught up in the summer months food fest. I am such a fan of doing as much food from scratch as your time allows. Lately my time has been plentiful enough that I managed some food projects. One of which was canning. I am not a real experienced canner but I am throwing my hat into the ring and am trying everything I can right now. My favorite canned foods are fruits. I started about five years ago by making strawberry jam and blueberry jam. We picked all the fruit ourselves and I give it my best try. I was thrilled with the results but because of work I did not canned anything again for five years.

I felt inspired by a fellow knitter that it was opening up Pandora's box. I picked strawberries this year, twice. I made jam and we froze about 5 quarts of berries. There is only one bag of strawberries in the freezer and I am sad. Blueberry season has come and is nearly gone so we dashed out last week and picked four pounds of berries. We took three buckets with us but because of the heat and humidity and the fact it is the very tail end of the season, we barely filled up one bucket. My yield from the very brief picking was two batches of fresh blueberry muffins (we ate some and I froze some), froze one pound of plain berries and ended up with five half pint jars of blueberry jam. I am not a fan of jelly so all of my fruits end up and jam. I hate the thought of wasting the fruit.
The next season that is going on right now is peach. We had to drive to this place to pick peaches which ended up being a very pleasant tour of country back roads of Virginia and North Carolina. We went for the first time two weeks ago and we picked two pecks. Each bag they give you holds about 1 peck or 12 pounds. Since we were beginners, we didn't know we should have picked a bushel. When we got home I canned five quarts of my very first peaches. I made a peach cobbler and we ate some of the peaches too. I was so pleased with the results that we decided to go back and pick more the next week. So last Sunday we drove back to Knott's Island and picked three pecks. So that's 36 pounds of peaches. I have already canned six quarts and still have more to do. So today I am going to make peach jam and save some peaches for peach cobbler for a cookout this weekend.
The next season I will be looking forward to is apples.

Monday, August 02, 2010


I have been very busy working on two afghans and have not been blogging. I have been reading blogs but not keep up with mine. I didn't intend for there to be such a gap in time since my last post but I have actually been making very good progress on so many things. I have been cooking more, painting chairs, getting things ready for a fall yard sale and trying to finish two afghans before I lose interest.

I have talked about the mitered square afghan here in an earlier post. The wool mitered square has blankie has taken on a life of it's own. I am smitten over the whole process including five (yes I did say five) swaps to add different kinds and colors to my afghan. It has over 250 2"X2" squares. The afghan is knit on 2.25mm needles (the smallest sized ones). I usually knit my socks on that size because I like how smooth they look. I thought that since the afghan was going to be knit with sock yarn, I should honor that fact by knitting the whole thing with my sock needles. When I professed this fact in public, someone, anyone who was a friend should have knocked me upside the head. An intervention might have been needed at that point. Now it's just too late.

I have three one gallon bags of mini swap yarns to add to the wool blankie. I think maybe now I might have just about enough to knit the approx. 1,000 squares it's going to take. I have been averaging at least 2 squares per 5gm mini skein. I am very excited to want to finish this blankie whose finish time is estimated at about one year. Yup, one year. I don't want to take that long but there have been a few bumps in route to completion. One bump is blankie #2. I went with a friend to Michael's and they had Sugar and Creme 100% cotton on sale from $1.79 to $1.00 a skein so I purchased 20 skeins. I had a plan in mind and I was hoping to do it cheaply.

I wanted a summer blankie. After sitting with that wool afghan on my lap for hour after hour in the sweltering heat, I decided I needed a cotton version. Nuts, right?? Well, it's been so much fun that's it about half way finished. The wool blankie was temporarily forsaken for the newly loved cotton blankie. This time though I learned from my first mistake. I increased the needle size to #7s to accommodate the bulkiness of the cotton yarn. It has worked beautifully.

I am super pleased at how it's coming along. It's so much easier than the smallness of the wool blankie. Either way I am going to finish both sometime in the next year, but not before I start this blankie. I got invited to a baby shower. So tomorrow it's off to the yarn store to buy yet more yarn to make yet another blankie. I guess knitting on socks right now is totally out of the question...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Learning Curve

Learning Curve

I think that every time I try something new there is a learning curve. I have confessed in the past that I am big about reading directions but today was a different matter. I have been trying to dye roving and yarns these last few weeks. To help myself learn I have purchased two books. The first one is The Yarn Lover's Guide to Hand Dyeing by Linda La Belle and Teach Yourself Hand-Dyeing Visually by Barbara Parry. I have been extremely pleased with both books. What one doesn't have (which isn't much) the other has. They have been very helpful and talk about dyeing with different methods, equipment, mediums and anything else you can think of. Both books were money well spent.

I have been investing in equipment so I decided to invest in some different dyes besides using Kool Aid. I ordered some Jacquard dyes and have been playing with them every chance I get. My first experience with dyeing was using Kool Aid and I wanted to step it up. And step it up I did.

My first try was roving. I tried two different methods. The first was using my crock pot. This method was totally random. I presoaked my roving in vinegar and water for 30 minutes. I t was wrung it out about half way and then put it in the crock pot. The instructions said to put about an inch of water in the crock pot and a wee bit of vinegar. The vinegar helps the roving to be more accepting of the dyes. I did use Kool Aid for this roving. I used two packets of orange, two packets of red and one of the grape. To make a long story short, I sprinkled the packets as per the directions and when the water was clear (after sitting for 2 hours) I got this result.

This is what the roving looks like in the crock pot. As you can see there are loads of colors everywhere. This can not be duplicated so I hope there is enough to make something good out of it someday! I was very pleased with the way it turned out. I rinsed it, washed it in Wool Wash and laid it out to dry for two days. The one upside to having horribly hot weather was that the roving dried much faster than I thought it would.

Here is the roving spread out on the drying rack getting dried. There are lots of color variations. I hope they will translate into some great looking yarn later down the road.

I was feeling so good about what I was doing that I tried another method. I used an old crab pot for the dyeing part. Anything that any dye has touched is now strictly for dyeing purposes. It's recommended in both books that you get separate equipment. So I have been using some old things to get myself started. I am going to need some measuring cups but am sure that the dollar store will be good for that.

So here is effort number two with the total immersion method. I did use some of the Jacquard dyes for this roving. I can't tell you which ones I used but boy did I love the results.

See the lovely red/maroon color. That was the second attempt at dyeing. I am so excited about how this turned out. I do love that color. Both rovings were dried and then rolled into balls and have been added to my roving stash.

So feeling very smug about how well I thought the two above attempts went I went full guns this time. I actually dyed sock yarn to see how that would go. I can see there is a problem for me. The skeins need to be tied up more so that they aren't a tangled mess when they dry. You will see what I mean here shortly!
These are two of my latest adventures into dyeing. They were both done in the crock pot. As you can see the blue one fared much better in the tangle department. I have no idea what I did to cause the purple one to look so horrible but I am going to buy some cotton shoe laces like one of the books recommend. The purple one will be a total nightmare trying to find the end and put on the swift for winding.

Here are some closer looks at the two above.

So the learning curve continues. I am so excited about all of this. If you have never dyed anything, try it. It's like a package that is waiting to be opened.
Spinning Binge
I have been inspired by loads of spinners around me lately. The last few months I have been trying my best to decrease my desire to buy yarn and increase my desire to spin. I have way more roving than what I need so I have been spinning to try and decrease my roving stash. So I dusted off my wheel and got to spinnin'.

This roving actually doesn't belong to me but I did spin it up. I loved the roving colors. They are my kind of colors. I was under the mistaken impression that what I saw on the outside would be what I would see in the finished yarn. Wait until you see this...
Okay, I can get it small but look at that color. Where is all that fabulous color I saw in the braid? Gone, gone, gone.
This is the finished product. What a difference. I was just as surprised as the person who owned the braid. Actually she gave me two braids and I spun each on onto separate spools. Then I plied the two singles together and that is what the outcome was. I was disappointed but liked it at the same time. I loved the green but this sure was not what I was expecting. The yarn weighed 110 grams. I didn't measure yardage because the scale was new and had to be tested.
The finished product went back to it's owner. I didn't need more roving in my never decreasing stash. On to the next project.

This finished yarn is ages old. It's so old that I am thinking that I have had it at least 5 years or more. I bought it at a craft show and was such a new spinner, I didn't even ask what kind of fiber it was and I threw away the tag. I think it used to be a pound but I couldn't tell you so many years later.
It's a two ply that is almost lace weight. I have enough I could probably do a shawl. I again, did not measure the yardage but only the weight.
I got a total of 177 grams. I have to admit I used this roving to blend in with other colored yarns in the past so the 177 grams was the left over amount in ball form. I want to dye this yarn but just haven't gotten around to it yet. That will be another post in the future.
Here is one spool of two that came from the roving below. This time the roving and the singles look the way I thought they would. The roving came from Juniper Moon Farms when I went up there to attend their spring shearing day. There is 8 ounces of roving but for the life of me, I can't tell you what kind of sheep it came from.

Here is the finished yarn. I love the color variations. This is small enough to make socks and I have...113 grams. I have never knit socks from my own hand spun, but I think this winter I will.
Now off to find the perfect pattern for my yarn. It will have to be a cuff down sock and it could be a lace pattern...the search is on!