Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A Year in Socks

Rani is hosting a Year in Socks group and I decided to join. I suspect I'm going to be a bit challenged by the goal of finishing a pair of socks a month but since I've gotten a hankerin' to do some sock knitting already, I figured I'd give it a go.

I've already picked my February project, the Sweetheart Socks by Chrissy Gardiner, published in the Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007 magazine. Yes, I snagged a copy of that magazine as soon as it came out on the newsstands! I just love IK and this time it was a good thing I got my copy early.

HOWEVER . . . Because I'm such a die-hard toe-up fanatic, I absolutely had to re-draft the pattern for a toe-up construction. I also ran into a problem with the swatch being too large. It's a common problem I have with recommended needle sizes. I invariably have to size down 2 sizes to make gauge. In this case, since it calls for 0 needles, there was no way I was going to be able to size down this time. So I redrafted the pattern to eliminate some of the additional wales of ribbing between cable patterns. By eliminating 16 stitches all the way around, I've finally got a pattern and gauge that will actually work. It took several hours of playing in Excel to make a chart pattern that satisfied me but time spent up front will hopefully eliminate hours of frustration and frogging/tinking later.

I've been swatching with the leftover yarn from Hubby's Chocolate Twist socks. But I have some more Dream in Color Smooshy in Gothic Rose to use for this pattern. Isn't it lovely.

Now, I just have to wait until Friday to cast on, since the rules are specific about starting on February 1st.

Hmmmm, what should I do until Friday?

Sunday, January 27, 2008

What a roller coaster weekend!

Congratulations, Consolation Champions!

The boys had a rough start to the tourney, losing their first game in a shoot out. However, they managed to come back and win the next 3 games (all nail biters - eek) and take the Championship in the Consolation Bracket. The final game was won in a sudden-death, 4-on-4 overtime. The battle for this trophy was hard-fought, the win well-earned, and the pride in this trophy most understandable. I think you can see from the boys' faces how good they feel about this one. Maybe a little . . .

Another high note, I finished my version of the Dreamwalker Socks today. I know it's a lousy picture but the penalty for going to the championship game is having the afternoon game time. Which means the bus trip home got us here way past nightfall and, thus, left with lousy lighting for pictures. I'll have to do a post with decent FO photos soon. In the meantime, isn't the flashing of the colors on these socks so cool!

I no longer have much of a voice, due to some hootin' and hollerin' this weekend but I think it was a small price to pay for such a fabulous tournament experience.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Sewing Room Friday

I was debating about putting a picture of my sewing room today. Much activity has taken place there the past two weeks, with two costumes finished and more on deck to be sewn next week. However, my ego and pride intervened.

I'm what you call a whirlwind sewing diva. When I sew, I tend to let the chips (or should I say fabric snippets, threads, needles, pins and other detritus) fall where it may. If you've ever seen Eleanor Burns Quilt-in-a-Day style of sewing, you've got a pretty good idea how I sew. What's more, when I'm on a roll and it's time to dig out a zipper or lace or interfacing, the original storage box gets tossed aside, contents all rumpled and tumbling out. The area immediately surrounding my sewing table becomes a minefield/obstacle course that the rest of the family refuses to negotiate in order to reach me. My kids resort to standing in the doorway and jumping up and down and hollering for me to come out when situations arise that require my immediate assistance.

Therefore, to be succinct, my sewing room happens to be a disaster area right now. If I were to post a picture, I imagine that the Health Inspectors would be on my doorstep with a warrant for my arrest and a condemnation notice.

Ergo, I will leave the state of my sewing room to your imagination. And make plans to clean furiously before starting the 8 wolf costumes I'm slated to make next week. After all, I don't want to die in a fabric-related incident. That would just be too weird - even for me.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Road Trip!

We're heading out tomorrow morning for a hockey tournament in Moorhead. I'm a little nervous about this tourney because the boys have been slumping a bit lately and we're slated to go up against some of the toughest teams in the state. It's going to be a white knuckle tourney, I fear.

However, I'm hoping that the long road trip to and from will allow me to have some FO's to display next week.

In the meantime, here's a cute kitty photo to tide you over until my return. Harley is strangely attracted to tubs and sinks (especially when you're using them) and we often find him curled up in one to nap.

It's an endearing little quirk . . . until you try to brush your teeth.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

How cool is this?

Here is the paper ad for the show. We've also received our t-shirts, with orders to wear them where ever people are to promote the show. Posters are due this week and we have postcards to send out. With 10% of the tickets already sold, I have a good feeling that we're going to sell this show out in a short hurry.

On a costuming note, Mrs. Potts' dress was finished yesterday, as was her mop cap. I just need to whip together her neckerchief and Mrs. Potts will be a most fashionably dressed former teapot in Beastly history. I'll wait to post a photo until I can shoot her in full costume and make-up glory.

I think you all know how much fun I'm having . . . Squeeeeee!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Getcha some warmth where you can!

I fear that Koda has been a bit jealous of all the face time Harley's gotten lately. She decided to go into a series of seductive poses for the camera this afternoon, as she rejoiced in a patch of sunshine.She looks like she's having so much fun, I just wanted to jump in and join her.

A roll in the sunshine, anyone?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Living up to the hype!

Well, the Maine Morning Mitts are done and they certainly lived up to the billing as an instant gratification project. I cast on at 9:30 last night, worked for a couple hours before going to sleep, then picked them up again this morning and finished them before lunch.

You might notice, if you look closely, a distinct colored groove on my index finger. Once again, I've knit hand-dyed yarn so long that I've developed a semi-permanent tattoo. Believe it or not, this mark remains even after a long, hot, soaking bath this morning.

I'm a marked woman.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sewing Room Sunday

I totally skirted around Sewing Room Friday this week, with the costume reveal on Thursday and now this post. My goal in joining was to get into the sewing room more often. It goes without saying that it is working like a charm, even if I'm not actually posting my sewing progress on Friday.

Today I was cutting and sewing the costume for our Mrs. Potts. The delightful lady playing this character is Peeps' (DD#3) music theater teacher and is one of the funniest ladies I've ever met. I am very happy to be helping out the costume designer by doing some of the sewing for her and am especially pleased that I can get my hands on Peeps' beloved teacher's costume.

Needless to say, while cutting out the pattern, I got some unexpected and somewhat unwelcome help. There is just something totally enthralling about the crinkly sound of tissue paper to Harley. You can see that he's trying desperately to slap this skirt section into submission. Not very helpful and even a bit destructive. The poor guy ended up being grounded to my room for the morning. Silly kitty!

Once I banished Harley to the bedroom, I was able to finish cutting out the pattern and start sewing the bodice together before we left for a hockey scrimmage in Mankato Once I got home, I managed to finish the bodice and am ready to do a fitting tomorrow. Perhaps there will be something worthy of a photo by next Friday.

On the way to and from Mankato, I was able to complete the DH's birthday socks. The photo is lousy, I know, but it was dark by the time we got home. But DH put them on immediately and is still wearing them, so this may be the best photo you'll get until I get them back to wash and block. Needless to say, he's happy with his new socks and I'm happy to have a finished object checked off my to do list.

And happy to be able to cast on something new. Maine Morning Mitts, anyone?

In hockey news, the boys won 11-0. It was another embarrassing blow out, with direct orders by the coaches to pass at least 3 times and to go around the back of the goal at least once before making a shot. A tough game for parents on both sides to watch but the other team was very classy about it all. And kudos to the other goalie who stopped 34 shots.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Costume completed!

I can finally say that my costume is complete. The skirt and slip were hemmed last week and a mop cap and apron finished over the weekend. A dry run with the full costume and shoes revealed that another slip was required to keep the muslin petticoat from clinging to my tights. So today I whipped up a quick slip from some suit lining fabric.

Back when the cast list was first released, I knew I just HAD TO make a shawl for the costume, so that was the first item I made. The Flower Basket Shawl was an obvious choice, since I'd made it before and loved the symmetry and simplicity of the lace pattern. I really think the contrast between the charcoal grey and the deep oranges of the vest, apron and mop cap really pop and will look great under the stage lights.

There is one point where I will be standing with my back to the audience for a significant period of time. Don't you agree that the back of the shawl will be a much more interesting item to look at than the vest and skirt? Or my backside, for that matter.

For those of you who are curious about the lack of faces on the blog - that is the one restriction my DH put on my blogger activities - no faces and aliases for the children. A small price to pay for blogging freedom.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dueling passions

Being the fickle knitter I am, I decided to tackle another project that has been on my wish list for well over a year. Christmas 2006 saw the completion of this felted bag for my sister from Bags - A Knitter's Dozen. I vowed then that I had to have one of my own. With the frogging of Dickinson, I had some lovely yarn that was just begging for another cable pattern.

When the DH asked what I was making, I showed him the pattern. His response: "What, another bag?!?" Alas, even after 20 years of marriage, he can't seem to wrap his head around the fact that I have a bag obsession. Poor fella.

I have to admit that rehearsals for Beauty and the Beast are seriously cramping my knitting style. It is distressing to me because so little actual knitting progress seems to be getting accomplished and I have so little to blog about. I'm steadily plugging away on multiple projects in the few spare moments I have right now but they are all growing in very slow motion.

I have made significant progress on one sleeve of the Center Diamond Sweater and I've turned the heels and am on the way up the cuffs on the Chocolate Twist Socks for DH's birthday next week but neither project really warrants a photo yet.

On the other hand, I am having the time of my life preparing for Beauty and the Beast. The tavern scene is very challenging to block but is going to be spectacular and hilarious. I come home so excited and energized that I'm having a hard time winding down and going to sleep. And when I do, I dream about the show. It has been 20 years since I participated in a theatrical production like this and I'm totally falling in love with the theater all over again.

I may be a slow knitter at the moment, but the show must go on.

And the knitting UFO's will be patiently waiting until the show closes, like the true and faithful friends they are.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Going for the "awww" factor

Dancing Diva seemed to have a bit more help than usual with her Technology homework.

Harley seems to have fully recovered from his surgery last week and is as frisky as ever. He has grown considerably and is tipping the scales at 6 pounds now.

Koda still hasn't quite forgiven him for reminding her of the most hated location on the face of the earth (the vet office). Yet she couldn't stay away from Dancing Diva, either.

Since Harley had been confined to my bedroom for a few days, Koda has become even more attached to Dancing Diva, sleeping with her and pestering her for food at 5:00 in the morning.

I think Dancing Diva was quite entertained by all the kitty companionship today. Whether she has finished all her school work today or not . . . well . . .

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Back to Frog Pond

Not a great photo but who cares. My version of Koolhaas is now history.

Now, I consider myself a master of knitting. I've done just about everything in the 30 odd years I've been knitting. I teach knitting, I understand knitting, I eat, sleep and breathe knitting. But this pattern has me kerfaffled! I was fine up until I reached the second round of the decreases. Then - kerfluey! The pattern made no sense to me, the stitches didn't seem to line up the way I thought they should and I was beyond frustrated.

Couple that with the obvious shortage of this one-of-a-kind, hand-painted yarn and I was done. Koolhaas has bit the dust.

Maybe there is enough yarn for some Maine Morning Mitts?

Meh . . .

Friday, January 11, 2008

Sewing Room Friday Pictures

Yeah . . . ummm . . . okay, I got nothin'.

No sewing this week, although I did purchase some fabric for an apron and mop cap for my costume.

On the knitting front, I've cast on for a new, small, quick project. However, I'm afraid - very afraid - I'm going to run short of yarn - again. I'm going to keep going and see how far I can go but I'm afraid . . .

(Sigh) I am just becoming a regular at the frog pond.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Gah! A Whine Warning has been issued for this area.

Whine #1: What continues to amaze me is how soon I forget how lonely and interminable the time on sleeve island can be. I have spent at least 6 hours on this sweater since the blocked front and back were ready and this is all the progress I can report. Two and a half hours spent at the knit night Tuesday got me nearly finished with the turtle neck. The other 3 and a half has yielded two side seams and about 4 inches of sleeve.

It wouldn't be so bad if the knitting was pretty but this yarn relaxes significantly when washed and blocked and right now, the sleeve and turtleneck look so -grrr- tight and scrunched. What is more, the simple 2x2 ribbing seems like it should be mindless t.v. watching kind of knitting but the decreases on the sleeves requires just enough concentration to make it tense knitting instead.

On a positive note, I'm really liking this sweater so far and think it is going to fit like a dream when done (fingers crossed), so I'll just keep trudging through this ribby wasteland to the promised land.

Whine #2: I was disgusted with the final results of Project Runway last season. Jeffery did not win my vote as the best designer and I was tempted to swear off the show forever. However, a new year brought renewed hope that maybe my design sensibilities were not quite so far off from the beaten path and that this season's shows would prove to be more in line with my expectations (translation: addiction won out). However, when they kicked Kevin off the show last night . . . . Arrrrgh! I really liked his skills and abilities throughout the season so far. He'd always done well and his dress, though a bit conservative, was well made. Christian had been in the bottom two before and his dress last night was hideous.

Honestly, I think Christian was kept because he is just more . . . shall we say "interesting" than Kevin. While Kevin has clean, tailored and tasteful designs, Christian is all over the place with frou frou and fol de rol. He may be more avant-garde but I'm sure he was kept for the controversy factor, rather than his design ability.

Gah - I'll hate it but I'm sure I'll be watching it again next week.

Whine #3: The vet called yesterday and talked with Hockeyman. When told that Harley is active, playful and climbing all over the place, HM was told to keep Harley from jumping off the bed and other high surface. My response: HOW!?! This kitten is a maniac and there is not a room in the house that does not have a higher surface that he won't jump onto and off of. We have confined him to our bedroom and master bath area for the week long recovery period but just how do you keep an active animal down who insists on jumping? Doh!

Whine #4: Given Koda's absolute and unremitting hatred of all things veterinary, we are back to square one with the relationship between the two cats. Harley's odor when he returned from the vet has relegated him to the realm of "unclean leper" in her eyes and she's violently. vehemently and most vocally opposed to his presence in the house - again. Meh!

Well, now that I've purged my whines, perhaps I can approach the day with a bit more joie de vie.

Or I need to cast on another project . . .

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Harley's home

Just wanted to check in and let you know Harley is home and, in spite of being on drugs that should be making him sleepy, is playing and running around like a feisty kitten already. Koda has not yet forgiven him for smelling like that cursed vets office and greets him with hisses and growls. However, I'm sure once Harley has given himself a good grooming or two, they will be back to normal again.

I'm off to a knit night with Bonnie and a few other friends tonight. Woot! Though I'm too far away from completing anything, perhaps there will be some progress photos tomorrow.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Poor Harley

My little Harley was dropped off at the vet this morning to be neutered and de-clawed and micro-chipped. You never saw such a woebegone face as Harley's as Hockeyman and I left him in the arms of the vet. We were just contacted and told that he's out of surgery and doing well. He's managed to charm the whole staff, so I hope they can bring themselves to return him to us tomorrow, as scheduled.

I had a whirlwind weekend with Dancing Diva at a dance convention. I used the waiting around time to make some significant progress on a pair of socks for my Hubby's upcoming birthday.

I've finally reached the gusset shaping. I don't know why knitting socks for the men in my life seem to take so much longer but it seemed like it took forever to get this far. It's not like his foot is that much longer than my own (about an inch or so). It's not that having some mindless knitting is a bad thing but there were times when it seemed like I was knitting backwards - or at least in place for long stretches of time. One added inch = a rupture in the space/time continuum, I guess.

These are another variation on the twist stitch I used on Hockey Socks '07, done in Dream in Color Smooshy. I'm totally lovin' the subtle color changes of this yarn, which is far more suitable for the conservative tastes of my beloved mate than some of the more outrageous colors of which I've been known to make socks. With some diligence on my part, perhaps these can be done before his birthday in two weeks AND before we leave for the last hockey tournament of the year.

In keeping with my sock resolution this year, I signed up for Woolgirl's Sock Club. Both Rani and Guinifer have done this club in the past and it intrigued me. I'm also continuing to work on the Sleepwalker socks from time to time.

I'm working a plain, black stockinette sock to use as a prop for Beauty and the Beast. In keeping with the period of the show, I'm actually using (don't faint!) dpn's and knitting one sock at a time. Given how much I dislike dpn's, this has been predictably frustrating. Not only do I find using dpns awkward, knitting on flat, black yarn is just blindingly horrid. I did opt to stick with my toe-up method, which will make the sock itself more readily recognizable on stage and since I've made it around the heel, I've given myself permission to set it aside until I need it for rehearsals.

I have a feeling my socks are going to get a lot of attention tonight, since Harley won't be around to snag my needles, play with the yarn balls and generally wreak havoc in the knitting bag. Besides, I need something to soothe my worried kitty mom nerves while I anxiously await the appointed pick-up time tomorrow.

Poor Harley!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Sewing Room Friday

At last, some actual sewing progress to show. This is the start of my villager costume for Beauty and the Beast (BATB). As is pretty obvious, I still need to finish the hem of the skirt. I am also not pleased with the petticoat because it tends to get a little to chummy and cuddly with the tights I'm planning on wearing. (Not a good thing when the director has you galloping and leaping around the stage - yikes!) So I'm debating making a new petticoat or just lining it with a less clingy material of some sort.

I still plan on adding some type of patterned fabric to jazz things up a bit, so I'm making a striped apron and mop cap to round out the whole ensemble. Stay tuned for updates!

I also have some knitting progress to show. I've been trying to finish the front and back of the Center Diamond Pullover so that they could be blocked. I really had little faith that the very pointy, distorted diamonds I'd been working on would really block out flat. Whenever I tried to pull and twist them into some semblance of a flat square before they were finished (I'm just too impatient, sometimes), they defied all manipulation and stayed as pointy and bizarre as a Madonna brassiere.

But I should have known that Vogue Knitting would not let me down. After a good soaking, they behaved beautifully and practically blocked themselves. Here they are in all their flat and ribby glory. I've already seamed the shoulder seams and am well on my way up the turtleneck. Though I suspect that shortly I'll be stuck on sleeve island for awhile, I am thrilled with the results so far.

Certainly a welcome change from my recent visit to the frog pond! Oy!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Farewell, my love.

Sometimes you have to face the inevitable. After our passionate love affair last fall, it became very clear that it could not last. To my grief, after reaching a certain point, it became evident that there was not enough yarn to finish my beloved Dickinson. Therefore . . .

Perhaps, in another time, another place yarn, we will be reunited.