Friday, September 29, 2006

Socks, a meme and a Sewing Companion

I've started my first official Socktoberfest socks. It's a few days early but they count, right? They are in Dancing yarn from Knit Picks in a tan, gold, blue, and green colorway, so they are very fallish. I'm knitting both at the same time, toe up, as mentioned before, just to get the process cemented in my head before attempting my next sock experiment.

My next sock challenge is to rewrite Bayerische as a toe up pattern. I doubt I'll attempt to do two socks at the same time, as this would be madness, given the complexity of the cable patterns and the pattern rewrite issues. I'll be swatching this weekend, just to see if I can get a decent gauge on 0 needles, since most of my socks are currently done on 1's or 2's at the most. Eunny mentions that these are very stretchy socks, so I'm hoping I don't have to go any smaller than 0's, since I knit very, very loose and usually have to go down 1 or 2 needles sizes on most commercial patterns.

If I can get to it in October, I am also going to attempt the 2-for-1 technique outlined in the latest Knitty issue. Instead of the socks being side by side, one is inside the other and you are both picking and throwing the yarn. Since I've been learning this technique for colorwork and to be able to knit backwards for entrelac, I thought it might be an interesting technique to challenge myself with for Socktoberfest.

Here's my answer to 10 Knitterly Things you didn't know about me, a meme from Grumperina.

1) I started knitting when I was 12, about 30 years or so ago.
2) I got really fast at knitting when I was a senior in high school when I was the head costume designer for a production of The Mouse That Roared. We needed chain mail for the soldiers and because I knew how to knit, I spent over 100 hours knitting silver metallic yarn on huge needles into rectangles for sleeves, hose and hoods for our soldiers. That's when I learned to pick. Throwing was just too cumbersome.
3) I started the Master Knitting program but just got bogged down by the boring swatching process. I intend to finish it someday but right now, I just have too many other (more interesting) things demanding my time and attention.
4) I knit sweaters for each of my serious boyfriends before finding out about the curse. When I met my future husband, I refrained from knitting for him until after the wedding. Muaahahaha.
5) I can't knit sweaters that fit for myself. Being a full-figured lady, I invariably pick a size too large and they all end up looking like big potato sacks. I keep swatching and trying again though. Samus is showing promise of being the first one that will fit (fingers crossed).
6) I was a machine knitter for many years and still own a knitting machine. I use it occasionally to make felted bags and to knit fabric up for local knit shops to felt for embellishment classes. I've been intrigued by the recent articles on knitting fabric to dye and then to unravel for hand knitting and felting.
7) Being somewhat ambidextrous (write right-handed, do sports left-handed), I taught myself to knit left-handed so I could work with left-handed students. I had one student who was so decidedly left-handed that it was pointless to try and teach her to knit any other way, so I learned to do it either way so I could be flexible.
8) I have not mastered picking left-handed - yet. It's a time constraint issue right now. I have too many WIP's and UFO's to really sit and concentrate on mastering left-handed knitting, especially since I'm not actively teaching knitting right now but it's on my someday list.
9) My pet peeve is really silly but it bugs me when people ask me if I made the sweater I'm wearing. Being a known knitter, everyone assumes I knit my own clothes. And it is to my own shame that I can't make sweaters fit me. I can sew costumes and clothing to fit other people but my own weird, full-figured shape makes me hard to fit. So it always bugs me when I have to say, "No, I bought this sweater." I have a whole list of excuses why I don't make sweaters - it's cheaper to buy them, I don't have time to make such a big project, this is too fine a gauge knit for me to attempt with my busy schedule - But the truth is, I can't make sweaters that fit me. Oh, the shame! So I just fume a little inside and go on trying to make a sweater that fits. (PLEASE let Samus fit, please, please, please).
10) I haven't met a knit technique I can't do, yet. I've tried everything I'm aware of so far and nothing has stumped me. Even the sock within a sock is just a variation of double knitting, which I have done. Being a visual learner and able to decipher written instructions with ease, I've been able to learn just about everything from books and, more recently, the internet. I hope it doesn't sound too boastful. I just haven't run across anything I haven't been able to figure out with a little trial and error. It doesn't mean I like to do everything I try. I just can figure it out and do it, if I have to. Except make sweaters fit my curves, that is. I guess short row shaping and pattern alteration should be my next research project.

Now, for that adorable little kitty picture. A fellow blogger has been bemoaning the fact that her cute dog insists on making her blocked knit pieces places to nap, with disastrous results. Well, my sweet knitting companion seems to think she has some obligation to help me with my sewing duties. I was helping one of my sewing students lengthen a costume pattern and while we were working, look who decided that the tissue paper made a great resting spot. Or perhaps she felt that a paper weight was needed to hold the tissue in place while we taped the inset in place. Needless to say, we carefully removed her from the pattern piece, to avoid any tears. I'm sure the sunlight streaming in had nothing whatsoever to do with the attraction of the tissue paper pattern, though.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Courage and the Cowardly Lion

Well, I joined Flickr. Actually, since I'm part of Yahoo, it was no biggy. So much for my irrational fears. So, I'm officially part of the Socktoberfest group at Flickr. Now I just need to learn how to upload pictures on Flickr. I'm just becoming internet saavy, whether I want to or not. But I'm wiped out and heading to bed tonight. Just too much to try and figure out after our first Awana club night.

I love the high energy atmosphere of the Awana clubs but it leaves me pretty drained by the end of the evening. So no knitting tonight, just sleep. Blessings to all and to all a good night.

Fear Conquered - almost

Well, I joined Socktoberfest. (OHHHH, verrrrry scarrrry.) I'm a sock knitter, so whatever, right? But now I need to decide about joining Flickr. Am I brave enough for that, too? Does anyone have any advice for me?

I guess I'm feeling a little gun shy because since I've become a blogger, some strange things have started happening to my computer. Little viruses have started appearing. Adware has become more and more menacing. Although my DH is a computer whiz and keeps on top of most of the latest threats to technology (he's an electrical engineer, after all), we've had a few snafu's that have caused some major consternation in the household. All this has transpired because his little lady has launched out and gotten internet brave without becoming completely internet saavy.

So, if anyone out there can tell me if it's just a coincidence that these new attacks have started since I started blogging and surfing other blogs and that joining Flickr to participate more fully with Socktoberfest won't send my computer crashing into the pit of oblivion for all eternity, I'd appreciate it. This timid little blogger is in need of some big time encouragement to come out of her internet shell. HELP!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Scenery, Socktoberfest and the Same old, Same old.

I didn't get out to the highways and byways today to capture the prairie grasses or the color of ripening soybeans but I did snap a few shots outside the dance studio while waiting for my girls to get out of dance class. I love the color of the sumac this time of year.

The rose is the last one on the shrub outside the studio. It was so beautiful and perfect, I tried to take a nice photo of it, ala January One but I fear I'll never measure up to her level of photographic perfection. Her header alone is worth the visit to her blog.

Onto knitting news. I've been debating joining Socktoberfest. Since I'm on a mission to make socks for Christmas gifts anyway, it seems like a great way to get some motivation to keep powering through the to do list. But I've never done a KAL or joined an online anything before (except the Haiku contest - oi, what a fiasco) and my fear of doing new things is really holding me back. And, if I sign up, that means I have the pressure of being accountable to someone else. A whole lot of someone else's. Like over 800 someone else's. Yikes!

Sockwise, I did cast on two more Widdershins with the Dancing sock yarn from Knit Picks. I've finished the toe shaping and am onto the foot. I decided to stick with the same Gull Wing lace pattern from my Flying Purple Widdershins, just because I have the lace pattern memorized and it makes the socks a little more stretchy. I'm doing two at once again, just to cement the process in the old grey cells. These will be gifts, so the lacy pattern will look impressive without taxing my already stressed mental state any further.

Wow, am I boring or what. I'm too chicken to join Socktoberfest and I'm in a sock rut and, although I haven't brought it up here yet, I'm still in stockinette purgatory with Samus. Well, at least there are a couple pictures in this post, even if they're not fiber related. Well, maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and something really wonderful will happen and I'll have something more interesting to post. In the meantime, I'll just have to dream about fascinating fiber stuff. Nighty-night.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Home again

Home again but without anything picture worthy. I did finish one of the Fetching mitts but when I tried it on, it was a little smaller than I'd hoped. So this pair will go to my soon-to-be 12 yo DD. It took the wind out of my sails enough to send me scurrying back to work on Samus. I did finish the right side and get me nearly finished with the back of Samus. It ended up being the perfect project to work on while visiting with family on our very quick trip to Iowa, since it is mostly mindless stockinette, with a few decreases for armhole shaping thrown in for interest.

I have to admit that I was kicking myself as I drove all the way home from Iowa, though. I had left the camera home and I was wishing every 1/2 mile that I had it. It was a lovely, sunny day and the colors of the turning grasses and foliage in the ditches were stunning. Now, admittedly, it's a little early for the trees to be at their peak. But I am a huge fan of the prairie grasses and the variety of plants in the ditches along the roadways of Iowa are surprising. And when they begin turning colors in the fall, it can be quite lovely. The range of colors from vivid green to pale chartreuse to coppery gold to deep russet reds. When you throw in the goldenrod and blackeyed Susan and some lovely purple flowers I can't put a name to, there were some truly lovely scenes I was dying to photograph. Compound that with the fact that I happen to love the color of ripening soybeans (call me crazy but that coppery russet shade with an underlying pale green peaking through is divine) and that as a backdrop to the lovely colors of the ditches was driving me wild.

I'm tempted to take my camera and go on a road trip by myself one morning this week and see if I can't capture a few photographs of these ditches and soybean fields before the elusive fall color passes. I'd love to try and recreate the colorway in a fair isle sweater, too, but fear that my skill is far too feeble. Only God can mix a palette like that and pull it off. But I can be so thankful that He gave me something so lovely to look at on a very long and tedious drive home. PTL!

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Why!?! Why is the universe causing all things tempting and luscious to come at me all at once? When I'm on the most stringent of fiber fasts of my existence. First, I find this. Of course, I have 2 skeins of the required 3 skeins of yarn needed. Do I just bite the bullet and order one more skein? Can I possibly go online with credit card in hand and order just one skein or will some uncontrollable urge overcome my up-to-this-point-in-time-perfect-self-control and will I end up going berserk and end up with yarn worth 1/3 the national debt?

Then the new Knit Picks catalog comes in the mail today. NOOOOOOO! I'm dying to start another shawl and the Alpaca Cloud or Shimmer are the top contenders for my next project. In my sleep-deprived, stressed-to-the-max state, the catalog is almost more than I can resist. Please, universe, stop with the knitterly temptations. Please let all my knitting catalogs somehow get lost in the mail and let all the gorgeous new sock patterns somehow look lackluster until we make our last car payment in a few months and I have money for yarn.

On the non-temptation side, I've bound off the first Fetching and am working on the thumb. I should be able to finish it very soon and hopefully, finish the other this weekend. I won't be posting for a few days because I'm traveling to visit family in Iowa over the weekend. I'll be back Sunday, hopefully with an FO and some pictures to post. It won't be a moment too soon. I had to turn our furnace on yesterday for the first time. It's rainy and cold here and we had our first frost here this week. They're talking snow flurries up toward the Canada border this weekend. That's Minnesota for you. Out of the frying pan and into the deep freeze in less than a week. My next project will be to design a hat to go with Fetching. I love the little cables, so it shouldn't be too hard to make a hat with a cabled brim to match. Who knows, maybe there'll be more than one FO on Monday.

Shameful confessions of the sleep deprived

I'm still blushing. The shame and guilt are so overwhelming. I'm so embarrassed. I'm the worst cheater in the world and the only excuse I have is that I'm sleep-deprived and was so excited and overwhelmed by entering my first blog contest that I seriously goofed up.

I ran across the coolest contest. Well, with the swag this one was promoting, how could I resist, especially being on such a restrictive yarn fast. But in my fiber frenzy, stress-induced insomnia crazed state, I messed up my haiku and pressed publish before proof-reading.

"NO NO NO NO NO NO NO" I scream at the screen. I look frantically for an EDIT feature - none exists. There it is - my flawed haiku for the world to see. I am such a flub.

I frantically re-comment, hoping to redeem the situation by being flippant. But by resubmitting my haiku in a new form, I know I cheated. The more I think about it, the more I realize that I'm a blatant fraud. Oh, the horror. What to do? Should I e-mail January One and plead for her not to blast me publicly and just quietly delete me back into lurkdom? Should I hope that my gaffe just fades into the background of hundreds of comments and pray that the few that notice it just sneer privately and that I don't become the butt of some internet-wide boycott or writing campaign?

For now, I am apologizing to all and sundry here on my blog. Please forgive me. I will refuse any prizes. I cheated, I know it. I didn't mean to. Blame it on on the fiber diet, blame it on sleep deprivation, blame it on my childhood, blame it on the hungry cat that's licking my face and sitting on the keyboard as I type, trying to get me to feed her. Just don't hate me.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Baby Blanket

Here is the baby blanket that was supposed to be delivered last night. My friend did not make it to the meeting but another friend was seeing her today, so I'm hoping it finally made it to it's intended recipient today.

This pattern is a simple 4 stitch repeat that is reversible. I originally learned it from the Colinette Comforts Throws, Shawls, & Scarves book, (Napa Throw, Pattern 6 on page 11). It's such a lovely, lacy rib pattern that it lends itself to the less elastic qualities of the cotton yarn. This blanket is made out of Lily Sugar 'n Cream cotton yarn. By selecting 2 different ombres with the same creamy background color, the colors seem to be melting into one another. I just love this effect and have used it in several different colorways for baby gifts. A simple garterstitch border and no special finishing keeps this a quick knit with maximum visual impact.

I'm ready to bind off my first Fetching and start the thumb, so progress is happening. But I'm already behind on about 15 different tasks today so . . . bye.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Elfin Widdershin Photos and Misc.

Here are the completed Elfin Widdershins. We were heading out for dance, so we slipped them on over tights and tried a little dance pose to show the heel construction. Tendus a la seconde!

The other two photos are of my little knitting and blogging companion. Photo one is if she's been fed before I begin blogging in the morning. Photo two is if she hasn't been fed before I begin blogging. Believe me, that stare is potent and very guilt-provoking. If the stare doesn't work, then she starts a sabotage campaign and walks across the keyboard, swishes her tail in my face and makes herself generally obnoxious until I remember to feed her. Then she's all sweetness and purrs again until the next time hunger strikes.

Fetching is progressing nicely, nearing the thumb. Also, I'm handing off a little baby gift to a friend tonight, so I can post the picture tomorrow. A very simple cotton blanket in an easy 4-stitch, reversible pattern. I've had it done for months and months but don't like to post pictures until after the gift has been given, just in case mommy is peeking. Just a teaser . . .

Monday, September 18, 2006

What not to Wear

This isn't really a rant, just a "What were they thinking" kind of thing. Maybe I'm just weird but I don't get the whole words on the back of shorts/sweats idea. If you're a parent, why would you want people looking at that part of your daughter's anatomy? If your married, does your DH want other men looking at that part of your anatomy? And if you're single and and don't have the perfect a*#, why would you draw attention to that part of your body?

Case in point, my family and I were on our way to church in our van yesterday and we saw a lovely couple with a stroller out enjoying a sunny, brisk fall morning. The only thing that spoiled the idyllic vision of this family was the rather large word swaying back and forth on her less than perfect hindquarters. Now, I'm not sure when she gave birth and am willing to give her as much grace as possible to get her figure back on her time schedule. The Lord knows I'm still working on it nearly 6 years after my last baby. But is it necessary to wear a bumper sticker to draw the eyes directly to a problem area?

The bumper sticker idea got the old creative juices flowing, so, I came up with a list of the top 5 things not to wear on the back of your pants if your rear end is . . . well, let's just say less than perfect.

5) Wide Load

4) your phone number

3) (in little letters) Stop Staring!

2) This Space For Rent


*or an ad for any diet plan unless there is a disclaimer "You should see how fat I used to be!" or a before and after picture.

Just sayin!

The Elfin Widdershins are done and photos will go up once the sun is up and I can get some photos taken. I'm onto the Fetching wristlets because I attended my DS's last fall hockey game last night and really, really wished that they were done and on my hands. BRRRR! I'll also be back to Samus and will probably cast on another pair of Christmas socks or some felted slippers soon. Need to keep going on Christmas stuff. With the cooler weather, the internal pressure starts to build . . . must make Christmas stuff, must make Christmas stuff.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Pictures worth a thousand words (I hope)

Here are a couple photos that will help those visual people see what I was trying to convey in words in my last post. This is my first attempt at altering photos with text. So it took me awhile to get it right.

In the first photo, the long needle is curving back on itself but it is indeed lying parallel with the shorter needle. Don't let the direction of the feet of the socks fool you, either. I just twisted them to aid in the composition of the photo layout. In reality, the shorter needle holds the front stitches and the long needle holds the sole/heel stitches.

In the second photo, I've attempted to spread things out and show where one sock knitting ends and the other begins in a logical fashion.

I'm sure that there is a book out there that shows this information in a better way, with fantastic photos and/or diagrams but this is how I reinvented the wheel by just experimenting and figuring it out as I went. Had I not been on a fiber fast (which includes books and periodicals and anything else that costs cash) I would have ran to my LYS and bought several books and learned the right way to do things and recommended the same books to my friends and fellow bloggers with great gusto. Alas, I had to slog through this on my own. Thus, here is my attempt at an explanation.

Comment Etiquette and a 2 for 1 sock question

I'm new at blogging and a little unsure at blogging etiquette regarding comments. I've seen some people answer questions in their blogs, others mention e-mailing people in response to their comments and I've had a few people pop into my blog and comment after I've left comments on their blogs. In the past, I've posted my own comment in my own comment field but that's just weird, so I've stopped that and the people that have commented on my blog are people whose blogs I read and comment on all the time, so there is a reciprocity thing going on all the time.

All that to say, if I make some total breach of protocol sometime, please forgive and feel free to let me know what a doofus I am. It is not intentional. I just haven't taken the Blogging 101 course or read any Blogging for Idiots books yet.

Yesterday, I did receive a question from livnletlrn about knitting two socks at once. I'll make an attempt to answer it here. Her question was,

"Can you tell which sock you're on after you walk away from your knitting for a while? I know I could tell if I always stopped midway through a row, but if I'm at the end of a row on both socks, would it be obvious which one to start with?"

Actually, it is the same as when working on one sock on two circulars - the yarn is on the side where you have to start. If you visualize it like two sweater sleeves on the same needle, and imagine that you've properly knit across both of them, the yarn is on the left hand side of both sleeves. When you turn the work to start the next row, the yarn will be on the right side of both. It is the same with the socks on two circular needles. The yarn will be on the right side of both socks when rounds have been completed on both socks and both circular needles will lie parallel to one another. Just make sure that the yarn is on the right side of the knitting and you'll be ready to go.

Where it gets tricky is if you've stopped between socks. Instead of having two parallel circular needles, you have a circle with four pointy ends sticking out in 4 directions. What I figured out is if I could find the last stitch I knitted by pulling on one of the four tips, that was the end and the next sock on the circle was the one I needed to start on. The other tell tale sign is that the yarn tails are facing each other between the spot where you left off. The sock you need to knit will have the yarn on the right side and the sock you just finished will have the yarn on the left side. The other two pointy ends will be hanging out on the opposite side of the circle with no yarn at all and be lonely and sad and wondering why they weren't invited to the party.

When you get to the heel construction, you have to treat each sock separately until your up to the cuff. The Widdershins pattern has one round between the short row heel shaping and the heel flap, where you need to pick up the wrap of the (wrap and turn) stitches and knit it into the next row . That's where I was worried about getting confused between the two socks. Because the round ends between the sole and the front of the sock on the needles, I have to move onto sock2 before completing a full round on sock1. Now, there are two ways to handle this. My was was to just work the pattern as written, moving onto the heel shaping on sock2 and remembering where I was on each sock and praying that I wouldn't get interrupted or that I would have time to write a note to myself if someone's hair caught on fire or there was an emergency. Option two would have been to handle sock1 by itself, simply slipping the stitches on sock2 without working them. This would have been much easier and more logical but being as it was very late and I was tired, never even occurred to me. God took pity on me, a poor, worried mama and kept everyone's hair from spontaneously combusting and kept the distractions to a minimum.

One tip that I use for knitting socks on two circular needles, I use two completely different length needles. This helps me in two ways: 1) I use one (the longer one) as my sole needle, so I always know which needle to increase for the gusset and to work the heel on and; 2) to make it easier to figure out which needle I should pull around to knit on. If you've ever used the wrong end and gotten all your stitches on one needle by accident, you'll realize what a timesaver it is use needles that can be differentiated from one another. Not only are the cable lengths different but the actual needle tips are 2 inches different in length. Another way to make the needles different would be to color code them with some permanent markings of some sort.

Now for the shameful admission of the day. I didn't finish the Elfin Widdershins yesterday. I thought I could but I didn't. This yarn ball is just not shrinking as fast as I thought it would. And I really want to use it all up, so I'll just keep plugging away. The cuffs are already 1-1/2 inches long and the yarn ball has shrunk by a mere 1/4" in diameter, so who knows how high they will go. Any guesses?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

It was a dark and stormy night.

It's amazing how much knitting you can accomplish when DD#1, who is almost 12, is at her first late night babysitting job. Granted, she was just a block down the street and I only got one fairly calm phone call about gum in someone's hair and how to calm a crying 22 month old who won't go to sleep, but it was one nerve-wracking, knitting-to-stay-calm night for this apron-string-loving mama. And since it was stormy and very windy last night, I fully expected to have to run down and sit with her after dark. Silly mama should have known better. This girl once went through an entire tooth filling procedure at the dentist without pain medication. She was too shy to tell the dentist that the novocaine didn't take effect and never shed a tear or even whimpered. She waited until the end of the procedure, walked calmly to the waiting room and collapsed into my arms and then proceeded to weep. This kid could break a bone and if she was in front of strangers, wouldn't make a sound. She stuck it out and was paid handsomely for a job well done. Oh, and she got the gum out with handy-dandy peanut butter and the baby to sleep with help from the mom who called with instructions to give a little medication for his cold.

Needless to say, DD#3's Widdershins are nearly done. I'm on the cuffs and plan to knit until I run out of yarn. Since my skeins collapsed and snarled up on me, I rewound the yarn into little balls and I'm down to 1" diameter balls, so I'm figuring it won't be long before I'm binding off these little cuties. I've been trying them on my little elf, so I'm sure they'll fit but they are the cutest little socks on the needles. They look like baby booties, they're so small. But then again, so is my littlest. When she outgrows them, they may get hung from my rearview mirror, they're so sweet looking. Pictures will be posted as soon as they're done and I can get DD#3 to model them for me.

I must say that knitting two socks at once has been an adventure. There were several factors working together to make this first time successful for me. 1) I was using a pattern that I'd used multiple times and I have the heel structure nearly memorized. 2) I was able to turn the heels in one marathon session, making keeping track of the rows I was on between the two socks even possible. Had I put the socks down at some point in the middle of the heel construction, I think I would have been hopelessly lost. 3) I kept the sock pattern basic - just stockinette. I did have to unknit two rows only once. Somehow, I used one sock's yarn on the other sock for a row and connected them. How bizarre was that. Unfortunately, I didn't see it until I had knit another row, so I had to unknit two rows on one sock. I didn't unknit two rows on the other sock and had to do some quick thinking on how to work around the needles to get my row counts even again. Just 2 minutes of thinking and a round of slipping stitches on one sock solved the issue. Fortunately, it occurred while making the gusset and it was easy to figure out how many rows I needed to even things out. Now that I've worked with two circular needles and two socks at once and have all the kinks worked out, I think I can tackle a patterned sock in the same manner.

Even though I was up well past midnight, I couldn't sleep past 5 am today. This blasted internal clock of mine works every time. I should be grateful, being a migraine sufferer, since altering the sleep schedule too much can trigger headaches. And I can nap later today, since we only have dance class on the agenda today. So I got up and folded laundry to Lime & Violet. Although their language and conversation is a bit on the bawdy side, I get a real kick out of them. I had about 8 loads of laundry backed up, so I dumped them all out on the office floor and folded away. With 6 of us in the household, my standard laundry procedure is to run laundry loads throughout the day while doing school stuff, and when I get a chance, I do marathon folding sessions. Usually, I fold in my bedroom, while chatting with my BF on the phone or watching Star Trek TNG in the late afternoon. But this week got away from me and my laundry was backed up to alarming proportions, thus the L&V version this morning. I must say, it was quite a diverting way to get through a very mundane and boring task.

For yarn addicts like myself, though, I have to say that L&V are serious Yarn Enablers! The Yarn Porn portion of the broadcast is causing me serious yarn envy issues. I am so on a yarn diet (more like a yarn fast) right now. I have everything I need to make all the gifts for Christmas and I cannot, must not, spend any money on yarn. I am so thankful they only broadcast once a week. And I am NOT clicking on the links at their site for the yarn shops (what does ETSY stand for, BTW?). I can't take the pressure. As soon as I get some birthday/Christmas money, though, Socks that Rock yarn is going to be my first purchase. With the buzz out there, I have got to try it. But I love their podcast, otherwise. Seriously.

Friday, September 15, 2006

And the stockinette goes on and on and on . . .

No knitterly pictures, no FO's, no charming or horrifying or sad or otherwise stories to explain the lack of pictures and FO's. Just stockinette purgatory and the finishing blues. I've got the "So close I can taste it - Close but no cigar - Close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and women" blues.

I'm finishing a felted purse for DD#1's best friend who moved to Texas this summer. Her birthday is next week and because she is homeschooled and hasn't plugged into the local homeschool group and church yet, hasn't enough friends to have a birthday party. So we're putting together a care package to send to her. But I've only gotten the "Beth" in "Bethany" embroidered on the flap of the bag done and then it needs to be lined. So no FO yet.

I've reached the armholes on Samus and am about 4 inches up the right front now. Stockinette goes much faster when it's only 46 stitches, instead of 216. It's getting huge and harder transport, so I'm torn between making it my work at home project or getting a bigger project bag out and continuing to drag it everywhere in an attempt to finish it as fast as possible. As a compromise, I'm contemplating starting the cable bands for the arms soon, just to have something more portable to work on while out and about.

Fetching is just sitting, since Awana is starting next week and I really wanted to have Samus for when the cold weather sets in. As Secretary for T&T, I sit just inside some double doors to check kids in and I usually freeze my tookus off. My handknit socks and winter boots or fur-lined clogs take care of my feet but I've lacked a sweater that really looked good with the kelly green uniform shirt I'm required to wear for Awana. The heathered denim colored yarn I selected for Samus should work to tone down the green of the uniform, without violating the dress code of Awana.

The Autumn Colors Bag is dry and ready for embellishment and a handle. I've fussed with the leaves I created but am starting to rethink the idea a little. I found some lovely embroidery ideas in Nicky Epstein's book Knitted Embellishments that are stirring up my imagination. I need to do some sketching, since the field I need to embellish is only 4" x 18". So I'm letting some thoughts simmer a little before jumping in on the finishing of that project.

DD#3 socks are just sitting, too, because I'm bored with socks at the moment, although I'm nearly ready to start the gusset. She is really anxious for me to finish them and she is such a little elfin thing, it won't take long, so I may just buckle down and knock them off my list this weekend.

Now, to add to my knitterly depression, has to come out with their fall issue. (Side note: I figured out how to add their button to my sidebar - wheee!) Of course, to tempt me, they have Diamante which are delightful little socks which look somewhat cably without a cable needle in sight. Talk about genius! These will be the first socks I cast on for myself, after gift socks are done. I have some black sock yarn that is just crying out for this pattern. But I will be virtuous and finish the gift socks and my UFO's first. Cablenet is another clever cable sock that doesn't necessarily require a cable needle that I may attempt at some point but probably only after the holidays and if I'm having a particularly brave or reckless day. They are totally lovely but look far too complicated for this addled and distracted homeschool mom. And as usual, the articles are wonderful. The one on shortening patterns was especially apropos for me, since I have to alter things all the time, being on the petite side and having 3 petite daughters (actually 2 petite and 1 truly elfin-sized daughter). So, as usual, before I get a chance to finish any of my UFO's from their previous issues, they just have to put out a new issue with new temptations and I just HATE them!

Okay, not really. I love I just hate my lack of time and the ability to "get 'er done." I think I need to go knit something.

Monday, September 11, 2006

I apologize!

Here is a very bad, ugly, nasty picture of the pre-felted Autumn Colors bag. My pride ordinarily wouldn't let me post such a horrid picture but I have been feeling so guilty about the lack of photographic evidence of due diligence on the fiber arts front that circumstances compelled me to just suck it up and put something on the blog. Since the sun is not up and I have to post before the kids are up and we start school, I'm stuck with horrid unnatural lighting. Poor planning on my part and I apologize to all those artists out there whom I admire that take such stunning photos and, if they stumble across this blog, are running to their toilets to hurl right now. I assure everyone, in real life, the colors are really very lovely and the bag is worthy of so much more than this crappy photo.

I completed knitting the bag yesterday and it's going in the washer in a few minutes. I just need to string some plastic through the casings on the top edge to keep the channels open for the dowels. The leaves on the front are not sewn on, as this is not the final arrangement planned. I have quite a few leaves knitted and some embroidery planned and the final arrangement is yet to be decided. I just threw those up to break up the large brown field. The odd ears sticking out on the sides are actually pockets. I can never get at my cell phone fast enough and sometimes don't even hear it, so outside pockets are now mandatory on all the bags that I design. My DS has indicated that this bag needs (do you hear that - NEEDS) bamboo handles, so I'll be looking for something like that to finish it off.

Because of my guilty conscience over my flirtation with Fetching, I've really focused on Autumn Colors and Samus this week. I'm within an inch or two of dividing Samus for the sleeves (finally). It really is a good project for t.v. viewing late at night or at hockey/dance while visiting with friends, because it is so mindless. But I would have loved having a finished Fetching yesterday. We had our homeschool group kickoff picnic yesterday. It was 53 degrees, raining and totally nasty out. But that's Minnesota for you. We go from the frying pan to the deep freeze in no time flat. So perhaps I should have just listened to my heart and just finished Fetching. I would have had something divine to keep me toasty yesterday instead of a guilty conscience and an ugly, horrid, nasty picture on my blog this morning. Doh!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Stockinette purgatory

Knitting continues apace, Autumn Colors bag nearing completion but nothing photo worthy yet. Stay tuned for continuing developments.

Swatch for Fetching done and first mitt cast on. Debbie Bliss is heavenly to knit with but I'm not a huge cable fan, especially on a small project. You'd never know it, with Samus in progress but I love the look, even if I don't enjoy the process. So I'm having my little affair while still trying to remain faithful. Is this considered an oxymoron?

Off to see Singin' in the Rain at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater with DD#1. The studio where my 3 daughters dance has a young dancer in a small role. So cool! So we're off to cheer for him.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

My Dirty Little Secret

I have a confession to make . . . I like Project Runway. I managed to resist the show for two years but I recently became addicted to this seasons shows. Having grown up wanting to be a costume designer for theater, I can just so relate to the dreams of these people, even if I can't understand some of the other aspects of their lives. Being a Christian homeschooling stay-at-home mom, some of the lifestyle choices these people have made are so foreign to me that I just cock my head to one side and go, "Huh????" But I so totally get the dreams. I watch them fly back and forth from their work tables to their machines and see them agonize over their design decisions and watch them try and justify something they know deep down inside is a poor choice but, dang, they don't have time to change it, so they, "Make it work!" I can't tell you how many all nighters I pulled trying to get a costume for a show pulled together that wasn't working but I didn't have time to do anything different. Ughhh! What memories this program is bringing back. I have to say, this makes for riveting t.v. for me.

What is funniest about it is my 7 yo DD#2 , who is most like me in personality (though not looks, oddly enough) first started watching the show and immediately started critiquing the clothes. And she uses the right language and has remarkably great taste - well, let's say her taste coincides with my taste. For instance, when Jeffrey's recycled newspaper/magazine dress started down the runway, her comments were, "It moves well, I like the cut and color and the belt is really nice. That one is my favorite."

So I say a sad farewell to Vincent, who left the show last night. I liked the fact that he knew how to make a pattern and tailor an outfit. What he lacked in pizzazz he made up for in technique and sophistication.

On the knitting front, I'm bored, bored, bored, bored . . . Stockinette purgatory continues, both on the sock front and Samus and the Autumn Bag. I have three sides done of the Autumn bag and I'm 1/2 way up the fourth. I'm actually "seaming" as I go by P2tog/SSK with the finished edge of the front and back as I knit up the side. These are the insides of the sides and I intend to pick up and knit an outside pocket as well. But it's just boring old stockinette stitch and I'm bored out of my skull with it. So I'm thinking about sneaking out and having an affair.

Just a little affair. A quickie, really. Remember the yarn I picked up a few weeks ago? The Debbie Bliss Cashmerino? After all, what's the harm. I deserve something warm and soft to keep me warm during hockey season, right? I'll finish more UFO's if I have something to keep me warm at the rink. Right?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dancing Widdershins Photos

The first Christmas present of the season are finished - if unwashed can be considered finished. I am starting a basket of knitted things that need to be washed, and/or felted and blocked. I figured I'll get a bunch of stuff together before I start washing them, then do it all in a batch. More efficient that way . . . and I can procrastinate some more until I can get some sock blockers. All of a sudden, they just seem like a "gotta-have" even though I've knitted socks for years without them.

It was a stretch to find any color in my garden, as my flowers are all fading here. Other than the annuals in the garden in back that I've used numerous times and the Russian sage and these black-eyed Susans, I'm running out of pretty flowers to use in my pictures. I'm going to have to get creative until autumn leaves start tumbling around here.

Today was are first full day of "official" school. Of course, it was a comedy of errors. The day started off with a flat tire. Because I had to have a functioning car, off I hustle to the tire place, first thing in the bright and sunshiny morning. In the past, I used to have to drag all four of the kids, with school books, with me to every appointment. This particular car joint has a waiting room the size of my master bathroom with exactly four chairs, two little cafe tables and a miniature picnic table with a box of building blocks as a diversion for the ankle biters, to keep them from trying to climb the very much more attractive towers of black tires that leave very permanent marks on every article of clothing and little body part that comes in contact with it. While I appreciate the attempt at diversion, the blocks are a very poor alternative to the obvious jungle gym built of rubber in the lobby, as viewed through the eyes of four active children who would rather eat dog doodoo than do their math pages in a miniscule waiting room.

So, with great delight, I decided to leave my younger two girls home with the older children, knowing that a 13 yo and an almost 12 yo who have both passed the Red Cross babysitting course can manage watching their siblings for an hour or so while I get the car fixed. And I don't have to keep them off those cursed tire towers. Oh, the freedom! I load up my knitting bag, my MP3 player and head off to get the car fixed.

I settle in, I'm blissfully knitting away on my two socks at once, listening to my worship music on my MP3 player when someone taps me on the shoulder. "Excuse me, your cell phone is ringing." Blast! It's the kids. WWIII has erupted. DS1 has done this and DD2 won't do this and DD3 is crying . . . blah, blah, blah. I calmly redirect everyone to their assigned tasks, calm the hysterical, assure the angry that I will assume control when I return. I hang up and return to my knitting, without my headphones. Better not risk missing another call.

Then the mechanic comes in. Bad news, my 11 yo car needs more work than we thought. Blast! We can't afford anything extra right now. I get the details, call my DH and he gets upset . . . "oops, that was a swear word that slipped out" upset. I start giggling, I'm not sure why, but somehow, it was just so funny. What I thought would be my happy little place had turned into a crazy, crabby, crummy zone and it just struck me as so absurd. I was still laughing when I told the mechanic what work to do, what to give me an estimate on, I sat and smiled through the remaining wait, while still knitting away on the socks, waiting for the next war bulletin from the front lines.

The irony is, the rest of the day didn't go much better. I had several more errands in the car, which is why it HAD to be fixed this morning, and I received regular news bulletins from the battlefront. It was not pretty. And now my house happens to look like a war zone, too. Yikes! Fortunately, with exception on one bloody nose, there were no serious injuries and everyone seems to have forgiven each other and to be on good terms.

As for me, I've had a glass of wine and I'm feeling much better now.

On a more serious note, my heartfelt prayers go out to Steve Irwin's family and friends. He was a personal inspiration for our family. My DS#1 is planning to become a vet and counted the Crocodile Hunter as his personal hero. One of his life goals was to meet Steve Irwin. He is disappointed that it will not occur on earth and is looking forward to meeting him in Heaven. My son asked how he'd find Steve in Heaven and I told him to just look for the wild animals and listen for the, "Crikey!" God bless you, Steve. Our prayers are with you, Terri, Bindi and Bob.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

slow knitting news

Not much that's picture worthy in the knitting world. To slightly modify a phrase from Lime and Violet's podcast, I'm in stockinette purgatory on Samus. I just finished my second skein of yarn. It's a good t.v. project but mind-numbingly boring otherwise. I have switched to the the Addi Turbos with no discernible demarcation in the knitting gauge but the new needles are giving me a new problem. Although I'm using 40" circulars, the needles are still slightly shorter than the width of the entire body of the sweater, so if I set the knitting down without the point protectors, the stitches fall off - both ends. Argggggh! Very slippery needles = fast knitting but dropped stitches if I forget to use tip protectors. Doh!

I've started the heel flap on the second dancing Widdershin. I'm hoping to finish it by the end of the weekend. The next pair of socks will be attempted concurrently, my first try at two socks at once. I'm going to end up with enough leftover yarn from each skein of sock yarn to make kid socks, so I may experiment by making DD#3 a pair of little socks. She's growing so fast, they probably won't fit long but they also won't take long to make, either.

Non-knitting news - I managed to strain my calf at kickboxing yesterday. Totally sucks because it means at least a week, maybe two, without exercise. I used to struggle with calf strains a few years ago. I thought I had the problem corrected but was a little late to class and jumped in without warming up properly and the calf just popped. I finished the class with some modifications but I'm hurting today. Lots of heat, gentle stretching, massage, and essential oils for the next week. Bummer, major. Upside, lots of couch time with my knitting and kids who will be doing extra chores and waiting on me hand and foot. Every cloud has a silver lining, I guess.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Lost and Found and Two FO's

TADA! The latest FO is another sock. This is the first Dancing sock, again with the Gull Wings lace pattern from Socks, Socks, Socks. As you can see, the lace pattern gets lost in the color of the yarn, so it is unlikely that I'll use this lace pattern with this yarn again but it is a mindless pattern, so no harm, no foul. I'm 2 pattern repeats from starting the gusset on the second sock, so these socks are flying off my needles right now.
Here are the completed Flying Purple Widdershins. No acrobatic moves were attempted this time around, although I did almost fall off the boulder retaining wall trying to get this shot. There were bees flying all around me as well, since they love my Russian Sage but I love bees and they never sting me, so we existed in harmony during the photo session. Blast that date stamp, I really need to figure out how to program my camera so it just goes away. I couldn't crop this one without destroying the balance so you'll have to just ignore the ugly red mark in the bottom of the picture.
And here is the lost UFO I found buried in my craft closet. The mass of fuzz at the top is a delightful novelty yarn (It did not photograph well - I'll have to try to capture it again later) that was the inspiration for the color combination. This will be a felted bag. The black is double knit and will be the bottom of the bag. I plan on adding appliqued diamond shapes with needle-felted curlycues or leaves to the dark brown stripe on top. I know it doesn't look like much now but in my fertile imagination, it is lovely and very autumnal and I'm delighted to have found it just in time to finish it for fall. I'm within a few rows of finishing the brown on the opposite side. Then I will pick up stitches along the black on the bottom and knit up the sides. I'll probably make the sides double and insert plastic while felting, to make pockets. I have a purl ridge an inch from the top of the brown, so I can turn down the top edge and seam it, to make a reinforced top edge. I'll probably use purchased handles to complete the bag, as well as dowels or rods through the top seams, to make the top edges rigid.

As for the novelty yarn, it may become a scarf to go with the bag or an embellishment for a sweater to be designed later or a gift for someone for Christmas. Who knows. It was purchased as inspiration and I love it and I'll figure out something to do with it, just like all the yarn that manages to worm its way into my far too susceptible heart.

Thank you for the comments, Sheepish Annie and livnletlrn. It is most comforting to know that I'm not the only UFO hoarder out here in cyberspace. Of course, Sheepish, there if you don't keep them as reminders, you can always smite them.