Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bad blogger - no cookie today

I have a FO to report, but once again, no photos. The weather here has been gloomy, rainy and blah. Not good photo taking weather. Since my camera is just not good with dim lighting, you will be forced to endure a photoless posting.

I debated trying to take a dimly lit picture of my new yellow tank top and calling it Sunshine on a Gloomy Afternoon but thought it just wouldn't fly. Although the tank fits nicely, the color is pretty bright and it really will look better on me when I've developed a bit of a tan and can wear it with shorts. As for now, it makes me look like a bit peaked and sick. But perhaps that's because I am a bit peaked and sick, having contracted a mild case of the squirrel pox this week.

Which has left me feeling a bit blah in the blog fodder department. It has been spring break around here, so I've spent lots of time off of regular school work but nothing coherent or post-worthy seems to have inspired me to post. Just lots of random stuff has been flitting around in my mind. So perhaps the bullet-point post that some have started using on occasion might fit this situation. Here goes:

* Monday - I finally washed that gray out of my hair. I spent a lovely morning with close friend getting my hair cut and colored. We haven't been able to spend nearly as much time together lately, both being incredibly busy with growing families, so it was a good time of catching up, as well as taking care of these increasingly gray locks of mine.

* Tuesday - Drove the older kids to their classes (spring breaks did not coincide between our homeschool and the homeschool tutoring classes) and spent a nice hour at a coffee cafe knitting on some socks and listening to jazz. Since my DH worked from home, I didn't have to take the little girls and I was free to take a little time for myself. Very peaceful.

* Wednesday - Spent the day at the Mall of America at Underwater Adventures with the kids. It had been years since we'd visited this attraction and DD#3 had never been there. We had a delightful time looking at the exhibits and had a fun lunch at the Rainforest Cafe, capped off with a birthday dessert to celebrate DD#2's 8th birthday this week.

* Thursday - Squirrel pox strikes and I spent most of the day in bed with a low-grade fever and the sniffles. Since we had homeschool academy the next day, healing was the primary focus of the day, so I just stayed in bed and knit most of the day. As my reward, Sunshine Tank was finished.

* Friday - At our Homeschool Academy, I was a substitute in the Math Games class and had a blast playing some games with five teenage boys. What a fun group. I also am an assistant in a science experiment class, where we made homemade paper and experimented with inertia by crashing cars with GI Joes on them into each other. What a mess we made but what a great time was had by all. Who says learning can't be fun.

* Saturday - Now I have a weeks worth of laundry and housecleaning piled up and preparations to make for school next week, as well as stuff to prepare for Easter, Awana, the upcoming homeschool convention and dance recitals that are fast approaching. I've enjoyed my rather relaxing week but the old grindstone is calling and my nose is already twitching.

I think I could use another week off.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I think spring fever has struck with a vengence. Not only have I been cleaning out my UFO basket with a vengence, I seem to have developed "startitis". Not only have I started two new projects but I bought some new sock yarn and downloaded the Pomatomas sock pattern.

The yellow tank top is from a free pattern from Lion Brand's latest newsletter. I've had this Microspun in my stash for several years, purchased for a hockey team related project that ended up not happening. So I've had my eyes open for a suitable pattern to use up the significant quantities of this fairly bright yarn I happened to have on hand.

Since the tank is pretty boring 2x2 rib knitting, I decided to start a lace shawl from Knitsimple's spring/summer 2007 issue as well - just for kicks. The yarn is a nice wool/cotton blend in the most luscious rasberry color.

I finally found the perfect fabric for the top lining of my green handbag, so I'm ready to finish this bag up sometime this week. Since the kids are on spring break, I'm taking some extra time to do power through the sewing machine work that needs to happen on some of these bags.

More to come.

(Note to Guinifer - HB has started his spring hockey season. He's a year-round player, so we're off and running on the new season already. And we're grieving the end of the Gopher season. Alas . . .)

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Samus DONE!

Samus is officially done. I'd be lying if I said I was 100% happy with the sleeves. They are still a little too full for my taste but when I sewed them into the armholes, they fit perfectly. So removing more width would have resulted in needing to ease the armhole to the smaller sleeve, which would have looked even worse. To compensate, I did knit a couple shoulder pads and added them to the sweater, just to add a little lift to the shoulders and pull out some of the wrinkles.

I love the grosgrain ribbon I chose for the finishing of the zipper. It adds a little punch of color to an otherwise subtle heather blue yarn. I'm wearing Samus to Hockeyboy's game this afternoon. I think it will be the perfect weight to keep me warm at the rink.

Until HB's game, I'm off to watch the Gophers! Let's Play Hockey!!!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Finally - photos

Two FO photos to show so far. The Monkey socks, of course, have been done for awhile. But the Mermaid Costume from New Knits On the Block was finished this morning. DD#2 (Bubba) is thrilled and I celebrated the completion of this adorable little project with the purchase of a new suit to go under it. She can hardly wait to get to wear it to the pool. Now DD#3 (Peeps) wants one just like it.

The sleeves for Samus are being seamed and will be basted to the bodice for another try-on soon. The re-knit sleeves seem to be the right size but it is hard to tell until it's all together and tried. All in all, I've taken out nearly 2 inches in length. I also tried to knit the cap at a little tighter tension, to take up a little of the extra width as well. Keep your fingers crossed. Since the other finishing work is done, once the sleeves are in and approved, all that will be left is the zipper.

Watch out for my dust and try to keep up here. UFO Finishing Frenzy continues . . .

The handbag lining is sewed and ready to be attached to the handbag. I just need the time and inclination to sit and do the handwork necessary. Both Samus and the handbag are not portable projects, so they may wait until the weekend. Since the Gophers are playing in the NCAA West Regional Hockey Tournament this weekend, I'll have some t.v. time to sit and stitch. That is, if the game isn't the nail biter that last weekend's games were. OH MY - Blake Wheeler is my new hockey hero!

And if that isn't enough, I've cast on another pair of socks. After all, Hockeyboy's new season has started and I have to have one portable project to take to the rink (and everywhere else). Another pair of toe-up socks, of course, although I haven't decided on the stitch pattern for the body of the sock yet. I'm sure it will be a simple lace pattern, I'm just not sure which one yet. I've a few rounds left of the toe before I have to decide.

Tomorrow is the official first day of spring but I think my internal alarm clock rang a little early. Spring cleaning of the UFO basket is happening at an astonishing speed. Who knows, maybe it will inspire me to do some real spring cleaning. . . Nah, not likely.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Still photo-less

Due to inspiration and industrious effort, I can only report that I did not take any pictures of my Monkey socks yet. I was too busy finishing the sleeves for Samus, working on a birthday mermaid costume and making a lining for one of my many unfinished handbags.

I apologize for my lack of follow through on the photo but when you're hot, you're hot. And I'm in a UFO finishing frenzy. Perhaps I'll have photos of more than one FO in the very near future. In the meantime, I am not AWOL. I'm just on fire! Woohoo!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Shepherd's Harvest is coming!

I am officially registered for my classes at the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival. Last year I had a delightful time learning how to hook rugs and weave on a rigid heddle loom.

This year, I'm diving in to dying by taking both the To Dye or Not to Dye class and the Live and Let's Dye class. I've dabbled in dying with drink mixes with my kids and I helped DD#1 and a friend with a homeschool project by dying wool yarn with onion skins but I've never done anything with acid dyes. I'm am totally stoked about this.

Yesterday I found this fantastic article on Fiber Festival survival by none other the Yarn Harlot herself, so hopefully, I'll come home a little less burdened with stuff and a little more flush with cash than last year. As long as I avoid the spinning wheel salespeople, those she labels "enablers" or anyone else who will weaken my already shaky resolve to NOT purchase a wheel until I've actually got the funds to afford it, I should be fine.

So, is anyone else going to the Festival this year? Anyone?

FO Friday and Recycling a Reject

I have one FO to show but no photographic proof, yet. The Monkey socks are done and quite lovely but you'll just have to take my word for it until I can get a few free minutes during daylight hours to snap a photo. Between running kids to spring snowboarding, dance, church, annual testing, and girl's Bible study and trying to get normal chores and schooling done, I've forgotten to charge the battery on my camera.

I also have been diligently working on a recycling project I'm quite proud of. A few years ago, I used some Mission Falls Cotton I had left over from several baby gift projects to make myself the Maude tank from the In Living Color book. I love the pattern, love the yarn, love the colors. I just hated the tank on me. Once again, my inability to make a sweater that fits struck again. It was too large and the horizontal stripes made me look like a tank.

Maude Tank
So, after reading some articles on recycling old sweaters and pondering the issue, I made a bold decision - I was going to turn Maude into a tote.

I took the shoulder seams apart and frogged the front and back down to the under arms. I put all the stitches onto a circular needle and used 15 stitches on either side of one side seam and started knitting a bottom, using SSK and P2tog at the end of each row, along each side, to join the live stitches on each side. (This is the same technique used in entrelac to join adjacent squares and the entrelac stealth project was the inspiration for this particular reclamation project.) When there were 30 live stitches remaining, I used the Kitchener stitch to seam it up, finishing off a nicely seamless bottom.

Because the bottom edge of the sweater then became top edge of the bag and it was a bit too lightweight for my purposes, I picked up stitches around the edge and started knitting a hem. I added a purl turning row and after knitting a suitable depth for the hem, grafted the live stitches down to make a substantial hem for the top.

I'm planning to use cotton webbing to make straps and have a brand, spanking new lining idea percolating in this grey matter o'mine, which should make this tote completely unique and gorgeous when finished. You'll have to stay tuned for photos.

Well, yet another day of crazy running, with co-op, an airport field trip (complete with flight instruction for Hockeyboy - so cool!), a birthday party and dance practice. When will the running end?!?

Sunday, March 11, 2007

A Class Act

The knitting mojo has returned, albeit a bit slowly. It took Socks that Rock yarn and Monkey to do it.

I have a few inches to knit before closing the toe and seem to have plenty of yarn, so working from the cuff down has not resulted in a yarn catastrophe, hives, earthquakes or any of the other disasters that I suspected might occur if I deviated from my usual toe-up routine.

This is a fabulous pattern, easy to memorize and with enough elasticity to give me great hopes of staying up nicely once finished. The STR is dyed in a fun pattern, with nice striping and minimal pooling, with no really obnoxious blobs, which are my only serious frustration with randomly painted yarns. The yarn looks especially cool in the slip stitch pattern on the heel, which is leading to some serious thought on attempting an entire sock in a slip stitch pattern with this type of yarn.

On the hockey front, I have to report a really wonderful thing. Last night, our team ended up playing the same team that we played when Hockeyboy received his match penalty. After the game, the parents of the boy that was involved in the kicking call sought HB out and told him how sorry they were about the call and the penalty that he received and how unfair they thought it was that he was getting such a raw deal. Friends, I cried. This was a beautiful, classy piece of encouragement to give a kid before he heads into his disciplinary hearing. No matter how the hearing turns out, the support HB has gotten from his coach, the Association, his team and now the parents of the kid he supposedly tried to kick has made it clear to me that there are some great people in hockey. He's going to keep playing, no matter what. And I'm going to keep cheering!

(Our boys took 4th place, losing their last two games. Losing HB may have affected them, although we'll never know. They deserve a lot of credit, though, for moving up from the 12th seed to 4th in the district. Well done, Hawks!)

Friday, March 09, 2007

No joy in Mudville

Official word - the match penalty stands. Hockeyboy is suspended for the full five games required by MN Hockey rules and will have to go before the Disciplinary Commission next week. Because there weren't 5 games this season, this penalty will hold-over into next season.

HB is watching his team play tonight and tomorrow but he cannot sit on the bench, be in the locker room or celebrate on the ice if they win. And if they place, he will not get a trophy.

And all because they can't use common sense to fit the punishment to the crime. Frankly, rule without reason equals anarchy.

I think we're going to start Spring Break early this year. Skiing, anyone?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Rose's Wrist Warmers

As promised, photos of Rose's Wrist Warmers. I wasn't sure how to get a good photo of these, since the yarn is black but we stepped outside into the setting sun and used a flash, which seemed to help get enough relief on the cable stitches, although it did wash out the color of my shirt somewhat.

I used exactly 2 skeins of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran for these wrist warmers, with barely a yard of each skein leftover. The only adaptation I made was to make the palm side ribbed, after another blogger mentioned that her set turned out a little loose and she needed to drop a few stitches and crochet them up into a ribbed pattern to make the fit snugger.

Hockey update - no news from the district on re-instating HB. We have the president of our association and the Commissioner of Bantams, as well as our head coach all working to resolve this as soon as possible because the Cinderella story continues. The boys pulled out a stunning 4-1 upset last night and are going to the championship rounds starting Friday night. If you believe in prayer, please send some our way, as HB doesn't deserve to miss the championship round because of an accidental kick. He has always believed in playing the game fair and clean and has the low penalty minute record to show it.

This Hockey Mom's heart is heavy and the knitting mojo is temporarily gone . . . at least until the hockey mojo is back in the house.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Ejection, team spirit and a tough night

A quick post - Hockeyboy got a match ejection from the game last night. He was tripped and in his efforts to get up, he was called for kicking. In hockey, this is a major penalty because skates are razor sharp and capable of inflicting major damage. Although HB did not make contact with anyone and it was clear he did not intend to harm anyone, the ref gave the toughest penalty available and HB was ejected from both last nights and tonight's game and will have to go before the districts disciplinary commission before being reinstated.

HB is devastated, but the team rallied behind him, due to the unfair nature of the call and managed to pull off a tie against the first seed in the district. It was thrilling to watch this team skate their hearts out, all because they believed my DS to be innocent of the call against him.

HB's coach is attempting to get a special meeting of the commission this week, so that if the team advances, HB will be allowed to play in the finals. Keep your fingers crossed for HB and this courageous team. Their skating short already, with two players out with injuries, so they are a true Cinderella story in the making.

Rose's Wrist Warmer pictures to come later . . .

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Another great hockey day

Quick post to let you know the boys won another nailbiter. They beat the team that beat them last Sunday to advance to the next round of the playoffs. Hockeyboy managed to get another assist in the 5 to 4 win. The team plays again tomorrow night and Tuesday night.

In late breaking knitting news, Rose's Wrist Warmers were bound off on the commute home from the hockey game. Some tails to weave in and then photos to shoot and I'll have some pictures to post tomorrow.

I need to get some socks on the needles before tomorrow night. What is hockey without a project in tow?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

UFO Fatigue/FO Frenzy

I think I have discovered a new knitter's disease - UFO Fatigue. I have spent the month of February absolutely bogged down by the most dreadful inertia about my UFO Resolution. I can't claim that the knitting mojo has deserted me, just the finishing mojo.

The UFO Resolution was instituted with several goals in mind; 1) To jump start my interest in old projects I may have forgotten about or lost interest in, 2) to clear out my stash to make room for new projects/hobbies, and 3) if I was fortunate, to come up with some "no new expense" or "low additional expense" gifts for the upcoming year (you can't call them "free" because the supplies cost something initially, as my DH frequently reminds me - engineers can be so literal).

For some reason, this year, the resolution did not seem to give me the impetus I needed to move forward on the UFO's. I made excuses and launched into new projects, without finishing the requisite 3 UFO's. New Christmas yarn and stash yarn beckoned and lured and I was sorely tempted. (I haven't admitted it here before today but after Elfine and Roza's Socks were completed, I cast on these beauties and I'm already half done with the second one - oh, the shame). I've spent the entire month of February wracked with anxiety and guilt.

But today, that all ended. My UFO Resolution was officially fulfilled at 12:35 pm when I cast off on Shifting Sands, in the parking lot of the Bloomington Ice Gardens, prior to Hockeyboy's playoff game. After arriving home, the scarf was washed and is blocked and drying as I type.

Now, when I started Shifting Sands, I absolutely loved it. I learned how to cable without a cable needle and Grumperina's pattern is an easy one to memorize, making this an ideal commuter project. The only issue that made this project an UFO was the rather scratchy polyester/wool blend yarn I used. It was just plain harsh to handle and knit.

The photos above were taken before the scarf was blocked, hence the curling bottom edges. But daylight was fading and I needed something to post. I will also do a post-blocking photo because I have to admit that the washed yarn has a beautiful halo and seems much softer now (if you can judge from wet yarn). If washing makes a great difference in the final hand of the yarn, I may wind all this yarn into hanks and wash it before attempting to knit anymore of it.

As for the other part of the title, now that I'm freed from the constraints of my resolution, my brain seems to be on fire with ideas for finishing a bunch of my other UFO's. I still have a couple of handbags that need linings, for which I have found handles recently. Even Samus, which has had me feeling quite deflated and discouraged is beginning to appear more "alterable," if that is a word.

So perhaps the Resolution has done it's job after all, just in a roundabout way. On the other hand, as you can see by the other two photos, I have some new lovelies that just arrived from Scout to beckon and lure. After all, I am FREE!

PS: Hockeyboy's team won their game. HB scored a goal and got an assist in the first period. They play again tomorrow. Woohoo!