Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Happy 200th Post

Wow! 200 posts! It's gone by so quickly.

I guess I should have had some sort of contest or drawing but this milestone snuck up on me. I just happened to notice it this morning.

Oh well, I'll do some mulling and late night impromptu internal verbalizing sometime soon and see what I can do for the next milestone.

In the meantime, fresh off the needles is . . . NOT a UFO. I know, I know, I promised myself and ya'll a finished UFO. And I really intended to do so. I carry the ribbon cardi with me all the time, planning to work on it. But the Noro Silk Garden Lite was too alluring, too compelling, too . . . aw, the heck with it. Who am I kidding! I'm fickle and unfaithful where knitting projects are concerned.

My theory is that being a full-time homeschool mom and homemaker requires an incredible amount of stick-to-it-iveness. Faithfulness to my faith, my marriage vows, my family commitments and homeschooling obligations means that my life can get incredibly demanding and rigid. The list of "have-to-do" items is overwhelming.

Ergo, where faithfulness is not necessarily required, I can let the free-spirit side of my nature have full reign. Being an artistic person, I've come to discover that giving this side of my nature a little more leeway is not just important but absolutely necessary to maintain my ability to maintain the faithfulness in the rest of my life. Give a little, take a little, if you know what I mean.

So, I'm done apologizing for my schizophrenic knitting activities. At least it makes for interesting blogging.

So meet my Noro Ripple Scarf. I kind of made up the pattern from a classic ripple stitch and alternating 4 rows of 2 different Noro colorways. I like the way it turned out but next time (and there will be a next time) I'll make the scarf narrower and longer.

As far as my next FO - who knows. I'm letting my hair down and going with the flow.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

And the winner is . . .

ME! I actually won something last week!

The plastic tote withTofutsies yarn and pattern were the prize. The two books and magazine were more spoils from a little side shopping trip to Half-Price Books and Joann's. I was in the area, so why not . . .

Remember Gnorm the Gnome? Well, during his visit, I checked out a couple new yarn stores, including Zandy's. While there, I reluctantly filled out an entry form for a drawing for a sock knitting kit.

Why the reluctance? Well, I just don't win things. When I was much younger, I would enter all kinds of drawings and contests but after years and years of winlessness, I've become very jaded about contests and drawings.

I am not a cynical person by nature. I am very much an optimist most of the time. But this little area of my life is fraught with bitterness and angst. Those "give us your opinion and you could win a gajillion dollars" tags at the bottom of my Target Store receipts are often in serious jeopardy of being burned with dark and secret rituals every time the clerk hands it to me with a smile and a friendly reminder to stop by their website and enter. I stand there, wondering if the brand "LOSER" is glowing from my forehead, that they feel the need to prod me to enter. Or is it some secret attempt to gain access to my computer and steal my financial identity, as if the ultra-regular twice-weekly assaults of their store on my grocery and household budget wasn't enough.

Unfortunately, given my very sour attitude toward contests, when Zandy so kindly and pleasantly asked me if I wanted to enter, a very brief mental struggle took place. The Nasty Fella on one shoulder prompted me to pick up Gnorm and beat her senseless for even suggesting such a thing. But the Minnesota Nice Guy on the other shoulder prevailed ("After all, it's not Zandy's fault you're a loser.") and I merely smiled through gritted teeth and filled out the entry blank.

I'm hanging my head in shame because Friday morning Zandy called to tell me I was a winner. I guess I'm not such a loser after all. But I'm not going to let this one win sucker me into hitting the casinos around here. No sirree, Bob!

I am an ardent non-gambler. Casinos are taboo in my life. On the surface, the reason is that God called us to be faithful stewards of the resources that He's given us and gambling those resources away just doesn't fit that role.

But deep down inside, the heart of the reason is I just don't win stuff and I know I might as well write the casino a check for half my life savings, rather than sit for hours, feeding a machine coins in the fruitless hope that I might somehow win back all the money I've already fed the beast.

Might as well put the time and money to better use and spend it knitting. It's just a tiny bit less expensive (or maybe not) and at least you walk away with something besides a numb tookus.

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Ever started on a three-hour cruise, only to end up stranded on a deserted island?

Yup, I'm stuck on sleeve island and am really struggling with a major case of project ambivalence. I LOVE the fabric that I'm getting from the Berroco Zen Colors yarn. I can't wait to see the completed cardigan with the fabulous buttons custom-designed by Glastonbury Glassworks for it (Thank you, Deb!) in place.

But knitting with ribbon yarn is maddening! Arrrgh!

For those who are as yet uninitiated into the world of ribbon yarn, the twisting of the ribbon is a major problem. If the yarn is knit this yarn with few twists, the width of the ribbon fills the stitch, giving a nice dense fabric with lots of sheen and the cloth has flecks and speckles of color. Let the yarn twist, and the fabric becomes thin and the gloss is lost and the yarn ends up looking like a barber pole.

Now, let's compound the twistiness of the yarn with my penchant for knitting both sleeves at the same time. I'm notorious for thinking I'll remember how I knit an object and refusing to take notes. I've had socks turn out significantly different in size and shape and sleeves refuse to match. This old dog refuses to learn new tricks, no matter how many failures have occurred. After 30+ years of knitting, I know myself well enough to insist on knitting items that should be identical at the same time. It's the only way I can get the symmetry I'm a bit compulsive about.

However, on this project, this technique leaves my yarn tangled, as well as twisted. I've spent more time untangling and untwisting yarn than I have actually knitting it, effectively doubling the projected time needed to reach completion. Needless to say, I have to be in just the perfect state of mind in order to even force myself to pick up the Ribbon Cardigan, much less work on it.

Right now, the early morning hours, before the family is up and at it is the only time I'm giving to the cardigan. I'm making frustratingly slow progress, but progress nonetheless.

In the meantime, I'll try to come up with something interesting to blog about, instead of the redundant progress reports that would make ya'll ambivalent about me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Meet Dragonslayer

Yesterday saw the completion of the second Pomatomus sock. Since Hockeyboy was watching Star Trek Voyager with me at the time, he snagged them and tried them on and promptly pronounced them his. The roomy heel, combined with the extraordinary stretchiness of this lace pattern meant that they fit him like a glove . . . er, I mean, a sock.

Being the free spirited knitter that I am, instead of sticking to my goal of knocking off some UFO's, I cast on the hat for Hockeyboy. He is into the Eragon book series right now, so converting this to a dragon scale pattern was a no-brainer. I'm nearing the end of the first pattern repeat and it's going fast.

Hockeyboy has visions of snowboarding in this hat dancing in his head. And it's still July. Go figure.

And I vow to finish a UFO next . . . honest!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Doing it my way . . .

I resurrected the Pomatomus socks UFO this past weekend. I just finished the first one and have about 43 rows left on sock #2.

Friends, this pattern kicked my b***! If I had followed the pattern as written and used dpns, this pattern would have been a fun knit. But being the stubborn, toe-up, 2-at-a-time on circulars wench that I am, I had to rework the pattern my way.

First obstacle, the gauge was much different than my usual Widdershins stand by. This meant that I was on my own as far as calculating the gusset heel numbers. I have to admit that I made the heel flap too wide and the sock is a little bulky around the heel. Not to the point that it's not wearable but not up to my exacting foot-fitting standards. I have made notes on how to avoid this problem in the future, so the next pattern I rewrite will fit better - much better.

Then there was the issue of needing to transfer stitches from their original needle to the previous needle every 22 rows. By the time I got past the heel and was ready to start the cuffs, I knew that it would be a major pain in the arse to transfer stitches between needles using the two circulars method I started out with. I figured out a way to do it but it was awkward enough that I decided to transfer the socks to individual circular needles and finish the socks one-at-a-time, using the magic loop method. Still a pain in the arse but at least it was possible. Since I tend to break the bamboo sz. 1 needles (I have gorilla strength in my fingers - grrrr), I just didn't want to attempt the dpns this time but if I'd had metal needles, that would have been the way to go.

All in all, I learned a lot from attempting this pattern in reverse. Would I do it again? Nope. Sometimes there is a good reason for doing things the way the designer intended.

Oh, and Hockeyboy liked the fish scale pattern and yarn colors so much that the remaining yarn is destined to be made into a Pomatomus skull cap for snowboarding. He's stoked and I have a use for the extra rather vivid leftovers. Win-win, wouldn't you say?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Shopping Spree

Well, Gnorm is on his way to the next hostess on the list. We had a blast hanging with Gnorm. My girls fell in love with him and insisted on toting him around the Landscape Arboretum and fought over who got to take his picture next.

His last day, though, I kept him all to myself. He and I finished my anniversary spending spree and topped it all off with an ice cream cone at It's Just Perfect, a charming chocolate shop located in an historic railway station in downtown Chaska.

However, I'm sure all of you are far more interested in all the goodies I brought home, due to the generosity of my beloved spouse of 20 years.

My first stop was at Coldwater Collaborative in Excelsior, for their sidewalk sale on Thursday. I missed seeing Guinifer and Rani but I did manage to go over my budgeted allotment within 30 minutes. I'm thrilled with my new yarn and needles.

Oh, and the beads were from Cosecha Designs just down the road. It was another first visit for me and the selection there was immense. I was overwhelmed. It is definitely someplace I want to go back to, just to spend more time browsing.

The seed beads match the Shimmer Yarn I got for Christmas last year. I'm thinking about making a beaded shawl . . .

The large, rectangular bead was just so lovely and rich looking that I plan to make a simple pendant out of it. The photos just don't do justice to this gorgeous bead.

Today, I popped over to Zandy's in Burnsville. I'd never been there and showing Gnorm the sights was a good excuse to burn the extra fuel to go check it out. Gnorm was a big hit with Zandy and several of her customers. I managed to find some sock blockers and some masculine colored sock yarn for another pair of Hubby Socks. I love that she also carries other needlework materials. With a daughter that does Huck Swedish Weaving and Cross stitch, it's nice to have a shop that caters to both of us.

Finally, I made it over to Creative Fibers in Minneapolis. I've been reading her blog for a long time and it was so nice to finally put a face with the name. She is moving out into the western suburbs in the near future and was talking about starting a knitting/spinning group in this area. Be still my beating heart! Unfortunately, with the kids' schedules, I can not make it to knit night at the local shop but hope springs eternal that she may be my social savior by picking the "right" day and time.

This shop sells spinning wheels, weaving looms and fiber for spinning, as well as knitting supplies, so it is another multi-purpose type shop. I am so lusting after a spinning wheel that I have a feeling this shop is going to be visited again - soon!

I picked up the Cascade yarn to make myself another summer shell. I'm on the hunt for the perfect pattern, so any suggestions are welcome.

Have you ever had that satiated feeling after a great meal in a wonderful restaurant when you're exceedingly hungry after a modest fast? That's exactly the feeling I am experiencing about my shopping excursions. I am feeling rich in fiber and utterly, blissfully content.

At least for now . . .

Friday, July 20, 2007

See ya!

After spending a wonderful day with Gnorm, we're heading south to spend some time with family.

We'll see ya'll sometime Monday.

Have a great weekend!

(Gnorm checking out one of the great garden beds at the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Random Q & A

Over the past week or so, a number of questions have been asked. They don't seem to relate to one another but reply I must. Not being a professional newscaster, there will be no clever (or even not-so-clever) segues. So, we're just going to enjoy an utterly random Q&A session.

Rani asked:

QUESTION: Can I do a single stitch cable? (or two total?)(for a stocking down the back) - so . . . p,p,slip stitch to cable needle, knit, knit slip stitch p, p, or will I have to do more stitches than that.

And THEN, how many rows do I knit in between?

Yes, you can do a "single stitch" cable, otherwise known as a baby cable. The Orange Twist Socks had a single stitch cable, made as you described, with one row between cable rows. This resulted in a very tight cable, which was deliberate because the gauge was off on my socks and they were going to be too wide. Cables automatically pull in the width of the knitted piece, which I used to size down my socks without frogging and restarting the socks.

When working in the round, as on socks, you can put as many rows between twists as you'd like. However, when working back and forth, you have to put an odd number of rows between twists (i.e. 1 row, 3 rows, 5 rows, etc.) since you should always work cables from the right side of the fabric. How many rows you decide on depends on what you prefer. Make a swatch and experiment before you decide. Hey, you are a designer, after all.

Guinifer asks:

So...where is Zandys?

Zandy's Yarn Etc.

13710 Nicollet Ave.
Burnsville, MN 55337

Store Hours:
Monday, Thursday, Friday: 10am-5pm
Tuesday, Wednesday: 10am-7pm
Saturday: 10am-3pm

Sunday: starting Sept. 24 Noon-4pm closed on Sundays from April - Sept.
Closed Memorial Day, Independence Day


Ok I will show my ignorance here - what is the significance of the gnome?

Why, he is a traveling gnome! The inspiration for the swap was the Traveling Gnome Prank. It has been a lot of fun hearing about different knitters' hometowns and I'm thrilled to have Gnorm with me.

She also comments:

By the way I love playing hearts! We will have to play sometime. Does DH play because the 4 of us should play sometime if he does.

Yes, my DH is a Hearts Master. Definitely would love to play Hearts sometime. Call me.

Random Ranter states:

Glad Gnorm arrived safely, he is a fabulous guest. And I'm glad you like the goodies he brought. I feel I must warn you that Gnorm can be a dangerous influence in a yarn shop. (It was all his fault. Really.)

Uh oh! I'm in trooouubble!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Sometimes, you just gotta believe in a higher power.

I was on the phone with BFF Jewels this afternoon, talking about my upcoming, self-directed 20th Anniversary spending spree yarn shop hop. I made the wistful comment that I probably should wait to do the shop hop until one of the gnomes arrived, so I could take him around with me, but it would be hard to wait since the money was burning a hole in my pocketbook.

No sooner than the words were out of my mouth than the doorbell rang. I leaped out of the chair, sensing something wonderful was about to happen.

Sure enough, Gnorm had arrived, bearing some stunning gifts. I suspect that I've either given BFF serious gnome envy or she suffered hearing loss from hearing my squeal over the phone lines as I ripped into the box.

I'm almost afraid to cast on with the Rowan Summer Tweed Tara sent, it is so soft and squishy. It may spoil me for all other cotton yarns. The beads coordinate with the yarn perfectly, so I'll just have to come up with a pattern that incorporates the beads, too. What do you think of a beaded beret for fall?

The sheep tape measure is going to come in so handy. I usually carry a fabric tape measure but it's awkward to use because it always needs to be rewound and kept fastened with a rubber band. This little sheep (now named Annie) is going in my favorite knitting bag and staying there.

The deck of cards are a welcome gift, too, since Hockeyboy borrowed my one full set of cards to take to camp and they never returned. I'm hiding these to save for the next get together with my favorite Hearts playing friends. The notebook will also need to be tucked away because I have some little artists in this house that will commandeer it, if I don't take measures to protect it from their marauding hands. (I love my kids but they can be little pirates.)

The stitch markers are much smaller and daintier than the ones I made for myself, so they will be ideal for sock and lace knitting. So lovely!

Last but not least, the chocolate and tea are both welcome edible gifts. I'm fighting the temptation to gobble the chocolate down right away. After all, I ate a massive celebratory feast last night and it's going to take a week to burn off the excess calories from that meal. I wish you all had "smell-a-blogger" because it is such a heavenly smelling orange and dark chocolate bar. Add that to the peppermint tea and it's enough to make your mouth water.

Now I've got some gnome sightseeing to supervise. Stay tuned . . .


The score was tied, there were two outs and the count was 3 balls, 2 strikes when the last batter smashed a home run out of the park. Yup, I finished the shawl but only by the skin of my teeth.

I finished weaving the shawl at exactly 5 pm, which was when we were supposed to leave for our anniversary dinner. I was knotting the fringe in the car on the way. Whew! What a marathon weaving session it was!

I have discovered that red is so hard to photograph. After several tries, this cropped photo is the best I can do. It doesn't begin to do justice to the beautiful texture and sheen of the finished project but I'm very pleased with how the shawl turned out and the way it looked with the dress.

My DH and I had a lovely dinner at Santorini's Taverna & Grill in St. Louis Park. Since my DH entertains out-of-town clients frequently, he's become quite the expert on outstanding restaurants in the greater Twin Cities area. Because he is a vegetarian and many of those he entertains are as well, he goes to great lengths to find restaurants that have exceptional vegetarian dishes and this restaurant is one of his favorites.

Of course, being a homeschool mom, the closest thing to gourmet food in my daily life is going to Subway instead of McDonalds. What a delightful treat to have a quiet, romantic dinner with my favorite guy in a fine restaurant.

To top it off, the ol' man gave me permission to just go spend some cash on whatever I want. Being a total knitting muggle, he was at a loss to even know where to buy a gift certificate. Which rocks, because I can shop Etsy or look for clearance sales and get the biggest bang for the buck. I'm going to take my time and explore some new knitting stores and do some online searching for great stuff. More details to come later . . .

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

What a way to start an Anniversary!

I woke up and checked messages this morning and guess what I found! A nomination from Guinifer for this:

I am so humbled.

Guess I'm supposed to nominate 5 favorite bloggers, too, so here goes.

First, one of the earliest blogs I found and bookmarked was Live and Let Learn! If you think I've got the whole knitting homeschooler thing down, you gotta check this talented lady out. And she is a world traveler, too, which is something I'd love to be.

Next, Sheepish Annie has to be named. She is the blogger who is responsible for 95% of the coffee coming out of my nose most mornings. This lady should write books, although I'm sure if she did, incidences of laughter-induced urinary incontinence would skyrocket.

My favorite photographer/blogger has to be Riverrim. She takes such wonderful pictures of so many different things on her walks and she's also a talented spinner and knitter. I'm a devoted Lurker.

The next nominee is the only blogger I've actually met (besides Rani, who was already nominated by Guinifer): Lazy Daisy Knits. She rocks because she's not only a knitter but a tri-athlete, which was another goal of mine (albeit pretty unlikely).

Last, but not least is a blogger I almost met at Shepherd's Harvest. She was taking a class at the station next to the hand-dying class and I kept sneaking peaks at what they were doing because it was so fascinating. When a comment appeared on my blog the next week, I was flabbergasted because I recognized her from the photo on her blog. So (drum roll) check out Twenty Acres and No Sheep. She definitely rocks.

Well, off to attempt to finish the weaving on my shawl before tonight's festivities. It's looking pretty hopeless but I wouldn't be me if I didn't make a pathetically desperate attempt at meeting an impossible goal, all in the name of 20 years of married love.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Socks formerly known as Sizzle . . .

have been newly dubbed as Orange Twist Socks. This was not supposed to be my next FO but since the weaving board is not portable and socks are, I just seem to be knocking the socks off the needles left and right.

The yarn was hand-dyed at Shepherds Harvest by moi and the heavier weight yarn required that I abandon the standard Widdershins pattern. So, I made up my own pattern as I went along.

I'd supply more details but all this knitting has caused some tendinitis in my right wrist. It's a little painful to type at the moment, so I'll just let the picture speak for itself.

Let's hope that taking a break from knitting to finish weaving the shawl will be sufficient to heal the ol' achy breaky hand.

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Ta-da! All done with a week to spare.

I did modify the pattern ending a bit. I skipped two rows of the stockinette chevron pattern, starting the garter stitch border early. This way, I only ended up with two extra rows added on the last color stripe, which made it only 1/2" longer. The boucle yarn obscured the stitch definition enough that the shortened chevron section didn't really read any differently than the other stripes and my desire for symmetry was almost satisfied. BTW, Trek, I really liked your suggestion and will make notes on the pattern for future reference. I was just too lazy to rip and re-do this time.

In an ironic twist of fate, I happened to run out of the main yarn just two rows from the end of the afghan. After much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth, I weighed my options and decided to buy another skein. It's been percolating in the back of my head that some pillows to match the afghan might make a great Christmas gift for dear ol' Daddy, so I'll be able to use up the rest of the new skein later. Any pillow pattern ideas?

Now, the only remaining object with a deadline is the woven shawl for our Anniversary next Tuesday. Then I am done with projects with deadlines. I have a few WIPs/UFOs on my list to finish, then I'm casting on something fun for me before the crazy Christmas gift-making rush begins.

Do you realize there are only 7 weeks of summer left? I am totally wigging out! I'll never get through my summer project wish list. If only I'd used 3x5 cards . . .

Thursday, July 12, 2007

First, let me apologize . . .

Okay, I said I was going to try not to bore ya'll with afghan updates. But it is hard to stop the course of random thoughts that run through my head as I knit endless rows. Since there are less than 24 rows left, I decided to go ahead and post a few of the opinions that have been floating around my head about this project. That way, when the FO Photo is posted, there won't be any distractions from it's obvious visual charms.

First of all, I am not a fan of intermediate projects. What I mean is, there are some stitch patterns that become very boring after a few repetitions. However, they require just enough counting and close attention at times to move it out of the "mindless knitting" category. The combination of a fuzzy, no-stitch-definition yarn and a pattern is just fiddly enough to keep one from enjoying conversation or listening to anything requiring a modicum of mental concentration makes this a frustrating knit. As a "knit-along to a familiar old movie" project, it works. To do anything else while knitting this pattern was a waste. Give me utterly mindless or incredibly intricate patterns any day. Bah!

Secondly, I am not a fan of acrylic yarn. I honestly try not to be a yarn snob. After all, I am on a tight knitting budget and purchasing luxury yarns for everything I end up knitting would land the family in bankruptcy. Synthetic fibers have a legitimate place in the knitting universe. For instance, I would never had made Bubba's mermaid costume out of anything but inexpensive, washable synthetic yarn. It's a dress up costume that is meant to be used without an anxious knitter hovering around to make sure the costly yarn isn't snagged or stained. Given my considerable FO output and legitimate budget constraints, using acrylic occasionally is a given.

Afghans, obviously require a significant amount of yarn. And, this is a gift for a non-knitter (i.e. Daddy) so easy care is a must. Thus, the choice to use a reasonably priced synthetic was unavoidable. And, frankly, the yarn for this project is very pretty to look at and the finished fabric has a nice, soft hand. But knitting with it just plain sucks. For me, handling polyester just gives me the willies, especially when it's wet. It affects me like fingernails on a chalkboard. And this yarn actually squeaks as I knit with it. In order to stand it, I need to avoid knitting when it's hot and humid, to keep the sweat from compounding the goose-pimply effect the yarn has on me, and I need some kind of noise to cover the squeaking sound. Thus, the t.v. has been on way more than I like this past few weeks. For a homeschooling mom who is trying to wean children off of t.v. for the summer, this creates somewhat of a conundrum. Children, can you spell h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e? Meh!

Third, I don't like non-symmetry. Wait, I like some non-symmetry. But it has to be deliberate, well-balanced, artistic non-symmetry. For the most part, though, I prefer ordered repetition and perfect symmetry.

As the end of this afghan approaches, it has been a niggling frustration at the back of my mind that this afghan pattern ends in a non-symmetrical way. Let's see if I can explain my dilemma. The row pattern starts with 5 rows of garter stitch, then 7 rows of chevron stockinette stitch. The bottom of the afghan starts with the garter stitch section. But as you reach the top, the pattern ends with the chevron stockinette section. Well, as you probably know, stockinette fabric will roll, so the blanket just can't end this way. So the pattern writer added 4 rows of garter stitch to the end of the blanket.

I know, I'm being knit-picky about this but it's going to make the last stripe an inch thicker than any of the other stripes. It bugs me. Logically, since this is a gift to an uncritical, non-knitting Daddy who is not the type of person who will notice such a discrepancy, I should be able to let this go. If it were for my DH, I would expect him to get out his calipers and compare stripe depth, since he is an engineer who also likes symmetry and precision (my soul mate), but my Daddy is not at all like that. So why am I worrying about this? It's just neurotic of me but I can't help it, it bugs me. Pfthththt!

There, I've purged myself of all the negative little bugaboos that have been floating through my head. Hopefully, the next post will show a lovely FO photo with an appropriate joyful, positive post.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Weekend Knitting

One aspect of blogging about knitting that I find a little frustrating is the fact that some projects just take a long time to complete. While I knit (or work on other fiber arts) daily, sometimes the progress seems so slow that I feel uncomfortable posting about it.

Case in point: Daddy's afghan. I started this project a couple weeks ago. I firmly believed that using Homespun Yarn by Lion Brand and size 9 needles would make this project just flow from the needles at a record pace.

Hmmmph! Why I was so naive, I have no clue. I've knitted numerous afghans before and should have remembered how long they actually do take to finish. Not to mention the physical strain of wrangling yards of afghan in the heat of summer while wrestling with needles that feel like logs.

So, initially, I put off posting about it because the first inches of progress seemed so inconsequential. As the afghan progressed, I was still hesitant to post because it was obvious that there were still hours and hours yet to knit before I was even close to being finished. If I posted an early photo, then I'd feel guilty not updating the blog on my progress but would also dislike being repetitive - "Still working on afghan," "made progress on afghan," "Finished a few more inches on the afghan," etc. Yada, yada, yada.

The approaching deadline for completion on this project pushed me into overdrive this weekend, though. The afghan went with us in the car to Taylor's Falls on Thursday, which gave me several hours of travel knitting time. It has been worked on in the early hours of Friday morning, when I couldn't sleep. And it was worked on Sunday afternoon and evening, while I enjoyed a marathon of old movies on TCM. All in all, about 36 inches has been completed since July 4th. I still have a ton of knitting left to do, but at least the progress is finally blog-worthy.

Oh, and a FO managed to work it's way off the needles this weekend as well. While supervising the kids at the Mall of America Amusement Park on Friday, I worked on the second pair of Hubby Socks (trailing an afghan around would have just been ridiculous). It is amazing how much knitting you can get done while watching kids wait in line for rides.

Sock details: Charade pattern, modified to toe-up pattern using Socks That Rock lightweight in Black Onyx on size 1 Knit Picks needles, working two at a time with the Magic Loop method.

Oh, and I solemnly promise to try not to be overly repetitive with progress reports on Daddy's Afghan. Maybe. Or not. Whatever.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

One Reason I Love Knitting!

Babies rock. Especially newborns. Their minuscule hands and tiny noses make my heart melt.

Gift giving rocks. Especially hand-made gifts. Especially hand-made gifts for newborn babies. Life just doesn't get any better than this.

Our family stopped in last night to greet the latest member of BFF, Jewels', family. What a treat! The kids had a great time catching up with one another, the adults had a great time catching up with one another and their dog just had a great time in general.

The newest princess was passed around for all the kids to hold (except Hockeyboy, who promptly disappeared with their eldest boy to make an army tank out of duct tape - go figure). Peeps, ended up holding the baby for more than an hour. Being the youngest, she'd never held a newborn baby before and she just sat and marveled at this miracle of creation. I was amazed at her gentleness with this precious burden. There is good future mommy material in Peeps.

The bibs and burp cloths were a welcomed gift, especially by dad who usually gets stuck using a girly pink burp cloth in public. He welcomed a more "manly-colored" cloths. I guess no matter how much a man loves his daughters, there is still a limit to the amount of pink he can handle.

The fish was marveled over by everyone and finally named "Finigan" by the 5 yo boy of the family, who also dubbed the starfish "Starfish", in spite of many suggestions for names like "Bob" and "Ray". Based on the reaction of all the kids to the sea creatures, these toys are going to be well-loved and broken in before the little one gets old enough to even play with them.

That's just fine with me because that is the hallmark of a well-chosen gift. Ahhh, life (for this knitter) just doesn't get any better than this.

(Edited to add: I just looked at the date and realized that it's the first anniversary of this blog. Wow, how the year has flown. I am so grateful for the new friends I've made. Thanks for the comments and support, ya'll!)

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I hope everyone has had a wonderful Independence Day. Since my DH has the week off work, we have spent time with friends, celebrating our nation's birthday and took a road trip to Taylor's Falls today to do some hiking. Good times!

Well, the non-UFO/WIP finishing continued this week. All the leftover cotton from Jewel's baby gift was really bugging me, so when I saw the fish and starfish in Toys to Knit, I couldn't resist. I thought the sea creatures fit with the tropical colors of the yarn, so BFF's baby is getting a couple of additional gifts. I ran out of the blue yarn, just shy of finishing the last ray of the star fish, so I used the green instead (waste not, want not). Once the whole thing was sewn together, the back side of the star looked so much like a little elfman, I just had to add the facial features. I think it turned out just adorable, proving once again that running out of yarn can yield design opportunities that make a project one-of-a-kind.

I don't normally do book or pattern reviews but this book had a couple of problems that made it harder than usual to create these items. The design of the toys themselves are utterly charming and I have plans to make many more of the projects from this book. But the editing of those patterns was not what I would expect from a book that lists for US$19.95.

For instance, the following instructions for the fish pattern did not make any sense. Of course, I checked for corrections, which there were a few for other patterns, but not the fish. I was scratching my head over this one for awhile.

Next row: Increase 1 st at each end of this, and every following alt row, until there are 26 stitches.
Next row: P
Next row: Increase 1 st at each end of this and following 4 alternate rows until there are 30 stitches.

Now, if you do the math, if you increase 1 st at "each end", that is 2 stitches per increase row. We ended on 26 sts in the first instruction but there are only 4 stitches needed to arrive at 30 stitches. Ergo, there would only be 2 alternate rows necessary to arrive at the prescribed 30 stitches. Where does "4 alternate rows" come in? Did they intend for you to increase 1 st on one side per increase row over the course of 4 alternate rows or was the "4" a simple math error missed during editing/pattern testing? The rest of the pattern continued to work out based on the 30 stitches at the end of this instruction, so I have to assume the 30 stitch figure is correct and the error is elsewhere. I decided to ignore the "4" and just increase until I was at 30 stitches and move on. The other alternative would have been to follow the directions to do 4 alternate rows and re-calculate the rest of the pattern stitch counts accordingly, which would have resulted in an all around bigger fish. Both acceptable but my solution eliminated extra math - always a good thing.

Another issue I had was the vagueness of the instructions. The patterns asked you to "increase" but didn't specify what type of increase. It is obvious to me that a yo increase would not be appropriate for stuffed toys but there are bar increases, knit in front and back of stitch increase, as well as a few more obscure ones I'm aware of. There is no tutorial included, so you are left to your own devices to decide which increase might be most effective in a given situation.

Yet another issue was the lack of mirrored decreases in the starfish pattern. The pattern only utilizes k2tog but I changed it to k2tog on one side and ssk on the other, to make a more symmetrical looking ray, which also made it much simpler to mattress stitch the pieces together. It you check the center radiating seams of the elfman photo, I think you can see how nicely the seams came together with two wales radiating from the center. Non-mirrored increases would have resulted in a single wale radiating from the center, with a decrease pattern on only one side of it. IMHO, that would have looked imbalanced.

Frankly, being an experienced knitter and pattern designer, I was able to easily adapt and modify these patterns to suit my standards. But less experienced knitters might find some patterns in this book frustrating. Not impossible to use, but it would require a bit of research and careful interpretation (or experienced help!). 'Nuff said?

Now, I have to admit that I haven't abandoned all my WIP's this week. I was able to make a little progress on the shawl. I am loving the subtle plaid pattern that is emerging. It is a plaid that is visual but also textural, because of the variety of novelty yarns I've included with the finer, smoother yarns. Unfortunately, this is the result of 4 hours of concentrated labor, so I'm going to have to really hustle to get this done by 7/17. It should be stunning, whenever it is completed.

Well, this hiker chick is exhausted. Time to eradicate the grime and sunscreen film from this weary woman and hit the sack. Ta ta.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Meme

A new meme is making the rounds. I happened to see this one at Sheepish Annie's blog and was very curious to find out what happened on my birthday. Interesting to say the least.

The directions are: Go to Wikipedia and enter your birthday sans year. Then you record for all posterity the following: 3 events of note, 2 birthdays of note and 1 holiday.

So, for November 19:


Lincoln delivers Gettysburg address in 1863

Goldwyn Pictures founded in 1924

Milli Vanilli stripped of their Grammy 1990


King Charles I of England in 1600

James Garfield, 20th President, 1831


World Toilet Day or Equal Opportunity Day, take your pick.

Hmmmm. I don't even know what to say about the holiday thing.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Good things come to those who blog!

Folks, we have a miracle! As reported a few days ago, a very special blankie had gone missing over 6 months ago. After a long and fruitless search, it was decided that the blanket was long gone and we'd better just move on.

But, because of my recent post and pictures of the Lost Blankie Memorial Quilt fabric, a dear friend (and frequent lurker) popped in and saw the fabric photo and realized the mystery blanket in her house might be DD#3's.

When I received word that she might have the blankie, I didn't let the Peepster know, just in case it wasn't her blanket after all. When I arrived at my friends house, the blanket was in a plain paper bag. One quick peek revealed that it was indeed the right blankie. So with a grin that practically split my face open, I handed it to Peeps and told her it was for her.

Oh, the rapture and joy that filled the van for the next 15 minutes. The blanket was hugged, the binding was stroked, the special hand-drawn markings on the margins were admired and finally, the blanket was draped over the head of Peeps, who was just a little overwhelmed by her feelings of relief and needed to disappear from an equally joyful Mom's gaze.

From the bottom of our hearts, thank you, dear friend. We love you so much. God bless you!

(I need to go find some tissues.)

Urgent! Late Breaking News!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled knitting to bring you this breaking story from Minnesota. Sources tell us that a Twin Cities knitter has violated the conditions of her WIP/UFO finishing probation. An unnamed informant supplied us with the following photo, which shows an unidentified FO in her possession.

We received this additional exclusive photo, showing the source of inspiration of her latest Startitis infraction.

We contacted the suspect for an explanation but she was unavailable for comment. According to inside sources, she allegedly was working on a star fish pattern, supplied by the same dealer, and couldn't be bothered to speak with us.

Stay tuned for further late breaking reports. We now return you to your regularly scheduled knitting.