Friday, January 30, 2009

New FO

I'm out of snappy titles for the time being. After the Great Hockey Brouhaha and a couple sleepless nights with feverish, vomiting girls, I'm not feeling particularly clever or witty. However, I do have some odds and ends to clear up on this blog.

First, a new FO to show. This is my version of the Palindrome Hat. I misread the directions and didn't stop cabling after 3 inches. So I had to improvise on the decreases at the crown. I'm not terribly pleased with the result and am considering adding a huge pom pom to the top to hide the rather wacky top. Since this is hat #6 for the Hat Trick 2009, I'm not going to do it over, since the KAL ends tomorrow.

On the other hand, this yarn is so pretty in the cabled pattern, I'm considering making another cabled project with the remaining skeins. (This yarn was the yarn I rejected for my Mom's afghan because the "no dye lot" yarn had definite color differences. I happen to have numerous skeins in the different shades to play with.) Who knows, I may make another Palindrome Hat with the correct length of cabling and decrease rows. And the matching scarf.

In Hockey News: For those who asked, it is possible to petition to have Hockeyman moved to a different school district to play hockey. It is a long and involved process because of MSHSL rules. Because in the past there were problems with kids using the Open Enrollment to switch to schools with better sports teams, they implemented a rule that makes players ineligible to play any sport for 1 calendar year after transferring to a new school. That rule applies to homeschool students as well. There is a petitioning process that can be followed to get a waiver but it is difficult to get approval unless you are transferring to a school with a team that is worse than the one you are currently on. HM is not terribly interested in transferring to a worse team at this point.

Also, due to the fact that our district is splitting into two high schools next year, they are going to be adding an additional J.V. squad next year. Given that we barely had enough kids available for two teams, the coach has asked that HM stay on the team. They will need every player (especially experienced HS players) they can get next year to field 3 H.S. teams and the coach is not likely to support the petition for HM to transfer.

At this point, HM only needs a team that is respectful of his religious beliefs, personal property and physical body. If the players can actually abide by the code of conduct contract they signed at the beginning of the season, HM has no problem with staying on the team. He doesn't expect them to be best friends, only mature adults. And since the team meeting, they have modified their behavior and we should be able to finish the season with no problems.

Now, for the bad news. My sewing machine is sick. I'm very worried, however, that this may be terminal.

Keep you fingers crossed for a miracle cure, especially since dance costume alteration season is upon me and I NEED a sewing machine.

Could this week get any worse?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Horrible No Good Very Bad Day

Yup, stole the title but it perfectly sums up a 24 hour period of time, starting Monday after hockey practice.

You see, I nearly stopped being a hockey mom this week.

Take a moment to catch your breath . . . I'll wait.

I can't blog about the details. I promised HM that I wouldn't. But there was a sleepless night, plenty of tears shed (on my part) and a very intense meeting between HM, Hubby and the coaches of the hockey team on Tuesday afternoon. As a result, HM will finish the season with the team, some rather nasty hockey locker room incidents will be suitably punished and steps will be taken to ensure HM's physical safety while at the rink. So, for the time being, I'm still a hockey mom. I've got some mixed emotions about it all but being a hockey mom means standing behind the player, 100%.

All this came on the heels of a long weekend in Red Wing at a swim tournament (which went GREAT - Bubba won a 6th place ribbon for 100 yd. backstroke - her first ribbon - WOOT), so I'm way behind on blogging about fibery pursuits.

For those who are breathlessly awaiting my announcement of which projects I took to Red Wing . . . I took the Center Medallion Sweater, Dancing Diva's Blanket and Hubby's Annual Birthday Socks. I actually finished HAB Socks and managed a few inches on DD's Blanket. I had far less knitting time than I thought I'd have. And definitely no quiet time to figure out how to recreate the pattern alterations I made to the CM Sweater's sleeve. I'm saving that project for a time when I have a few hours of peace and quiet to work it out.

I can't post a pic of the HABS - Hubby took them and immediately wore them to work the next day. He likey! I'll have to snag a photo after I wash them.

I finished another hat yesterday for the Hat Trick 2009 on Ravelry. I can post a pic but probably shouldn't. It's not a great shot (color is not accurate and look at my messy hair!) but all I have time to take at the moment. I'm still looking for a Wild logo to add to the hat and it still needs to be washed and blocked. Still, the bad photo is at least proof that something besides hockey drama is going on around here.

I'm nearly finished with the last hat for my third hat trick and will hopefully have a picture of it tomorrow.

Time to finish up a few things before driving HM to hockey. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a very uneventful practice today.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Getting Ready to Head Out

Not much knitting progress to show, yet. Still plugging away at the Annual Birthday Socks for Hubby. I have a couple inches of cuff left to knit before casting off. I also finished another preemie hat for charity this morning but since it looks exactly like the other two pink preemie hats, it's hardly worth photographing.

(I'm trying to use up the rest of the pink yarn, left over from Dancing Diva's
leg warmers. It's staggering how many preemie hats you can get out of one partial skein of Bernat's Softee yarn. Unfortunately, based on my experience, there is at least enough yarn for two more hats, if not three. Blast those bargain yarns that pack so much yarn into one skein!)

Anyway, here's my query . . . I will be out of town this weekend, starting tomorrow, for Bubba's swim meet in Red Wing. I'll have lots of extra knitting time and am trying to decide which UFO's I should take with me to finish. After all, I did make a resolution to finish three UFO's this year before casting on anything new.

(I'd really, really, really love to cast on a new project - socks, sweater vest, or maybe a big cardigan for which I already have this gorgeous yarn. Blast these New Years Resolutions!)

I have the Center Medallion Sweater, lacking a sleeve and bottom ribbing yet.

(I've forgotten how I modified the pattern for the first sleeve and it will take some figuring to reproduce it. Blast my bad note-taking ability!)

I have another Tweedy Vest in the works in this yarn.

(A fun, fast knit that makes me feel guilty when I work on it because it's the newest UFO of the bunch. Blast my over-active conscience!)

I have Dancing Diva's Blanket.

(Lots of easy garter stitch but a huge quantity of yarn to lug along. I mean LOTS - two knitting bags worth, since it is all in 1 pound skeins. Blast these large projects!)

Yarn for another hat that hasn't been started yet but would finish the Hat Trick for the Ravelry Group KAL.

(More guilt, since I've finished a total of 5 hats already, not counting the 4 preemie hats. Blast that ethnic heritage that developed this crazy guilt complex!)

Now, tell me, what would you choose to take on a 3 day weekend trip?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Oh, and AMEN!

Monday, January 19, 2009

We interrupt your regularly scheduled hat knitting . . .

I've been fanatically knitting away on hats for the Hat Trick 2009 group on Ravelry. I don't know why this particular KAL captured my interest but I'm having a blast knocking off hats, left and right.

Tally so far is 4 completed child/adult hats and 3 preemie hats. Preemie hat #4 is nearly done, as is adult hat #5. However, a quick check of the calendar revealed a rather shocking fact . . .

Hubby's birthday is this week!

So hat knitting is moved to the back burner while I continue the annual tradition of making Hubby a new pair of hand-knit wool socks for his birthday. I had started a pair of socks for him back in November. It was a rather disappointing start because the self-striping yarn did not seem to have any repeats. I had carefully wound the skein into two equal weight balls, as is my usual custom. I pulled yards and yards out of each center-pull ball, trying to get the yarn patterns to align. No matter how much yarn I pulled, nothing lined up. So I gave up and just started knitting from the beginning of both balls.

Fast forward 5 inches of knitting and all of a sudden, the patterns did have a repeat. The problem was, the matching stripes were 3 inches apart. Knowing my Hubby's disposition (perfectionist, symmetry-loving, engineering-type person), I knew he'd never actually wear the socks unless I fixed them. So the socks were set aside while I pondered the manner of their redemption.

Fast forward again to this morning. Knowing I only have a few days to finish these, I decided to be bold and cut off the toe section of one of the socks, unravel the sock up to the point where the toe shaping started on the other sock and re-knit the toe down. Two hours of surgery and reconstructions and you see the results above. Also, since the surgery left the sock 3 inches shorter than the other, I've spent the rest of the morning knitting it to the same length as the original sock.

Granted, I might have unraveled the offending sock completely and restarted it but by choosing the above method, I was able to get the stripes to match perfectly. Whether I save a significant amount of time by doing it this way is open to debate. I did have at least 1.5 inches of knitting that was saved, that would have had to be re-knit had I started from scratch.

Needless to say, I'm pleased with the results of this morning's attempt. Not only did I salvage a pair of socks that might have languished in the bottom of Hubby's sock drawer but I figured out that it is not all that difficult to re-knit toes. Should socks pop a hole in the toes, I know I can save them by knitting new toes. Sweet!

Now if I could figure out how to re-knit holey heels. Hmmmm?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Storm clouds

No, I'm not talking about weather, although I've noticed the arctic blast this past week dominated all my favorite blogs.

No, we're talking about the mood here at Chez Chapeau. Two of my girls had friends spend the night last night. Granted, grumpiness due to lack of sleep is a normal result of slumber parties. However, we have had a bit less sleep than normal at this particular party, due to some rather unusual excitement late last night.

Earlier in the evening, Hubby took Hockeyman, Dancing Diva and DD's friend to a concert in Minneapolis. After watching a full day of hockey (with some "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" during intermissions of the Wild Game), I tucked the Bubba, Peeps and Bubba's friend down to bed for the night. While making the rounds of the house to turn off lights and check doors and windows and such, I heard a ruckus going on in the basement. With the intuition born of an insane and illogical paranoia about mice, I concluded that one of the cats was chasing a heat-seeking rodent around the music room.

Completely committed to keeping the knowledge of the vermin invasion from the slumbering elementary-age girls, sleeping on the floor on the main level, I surreptitiously grabbed the telephone and called Hubby to see how soon he would be home to rescue me from this life-threatening situation. While he was already homeward bound and a mere 10 minutes from the house, he advised me to take some towels and block all the cracks at the bottom of doors in the basement, to keep the mouse contained until he got there.

Well, being the ever obedient wife, I faced my worst nightmare and ventured into the basement to do his bidding. All was going well, with the mouse cowering behind a bag and trapped by Harley. I was able to get the doors blocked as instructed and was tiptoeing back toward the stairs and my haven of safety (under the covers of my bed on the top floor of the house) when Harley managed to flush the little varmint out. With a leap and a dash, the mouse scurried past my feet, causing me to scream wildly and jump onto the nearest high surface.

Well, so much for keeping the knowledge of the mouse from the girls.

As I perched atop the arm of a chair and watched Harley make a valiant effort to capture the horrid thing, I hollered words of reassurance and comfort to the now wide-awake and hysterical girls and prayed Hubby would arrive soon to rescue us. Which he did - eventually.

After a good laugh with Hockeyman at my expense (perhaps I should have reminded him of a certain arachnophobic tendency in his own make-up), the men managed to catch the mouse in a shoe box and release it back into the wild.

Needless to say, after the adreneline rush, it took quite awhile to get the girls settled back to bed. And now I have a very tired, grumpy Peeps on my hands.

The moral of the story - don't ask your normally camera-loving child to model your latest FO for a photo after a late night of panic and mayhem unless you're willing to settle for a grumpy, pouty-lipped shot for the blog.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fly by posting

It's a big day in Minnesota. Anyone who is anyone in the State of Minnesota is reveling in the first above zero day since Monday by watching hockey. After all, it is Hockey Day Minnesota and we are the State of Hockey, doncha' know.

I'm off to watch the Gophers play hockey next (after a good afternoon of HS hockey viewing).

But I couldn't pass on showing the latest FO.

It's from the Swirly Girl Tam & Mitts pattern from an It looked like an interesting knit because of the short-rows and garter stitch stripes. And it was fun. The color isn't terribly true, but that was the best light of the day. Guess the warm front brought with it some pretty thick clouds and light flurries. Guess you can't have both heat and light in winter.

The pattern calls for a large pom pom on top. I haven't decided if I want to cover the cool center swirl with such a fluffy addition. I'll probably let Bubba decide if she wants one or not, since this is her hat.

Back to my recliner to enjoy a Gopher game now and a Wild game later. Go Minnesota!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

She's a Super Star

There are just some kids that are loved, no matter how much trouble they cause their parents. And there are some projects that turn out stellar, no matter how much cursing, muttering and bitter recriminations they inspire.

This was, by far, one of the most frustrating knits I've created in recent years.

Mistake #1 - using the magic loop method instead of buying a 16" circular needle in the right size or using dpns. The fact that I was working hard to control the tension of the floats on the reverse side of the fabric made tightening up the "seams" on each side tough.

Mistake #2 - using the wrong size stitch markers instead of buying or making smaller ones. Compounding the problem was the fact that they were open rings, which meant the yarn was constantly getting caught in various markers and pulling them out of the fabric.

Mistake #3 - not reading the pattern instructions closely enough and getting myself off on the decrease rounds right from the beginning. I was supposed to work 2 rounds of the pattern before doing a decrease round but I decreased right off the bat. That made my chart off by one stitch right from the beginning. Trust me, the idea of tinking back with this rather grippy, snarly yarn, over-sized open ring stitch markers and the magic loop method was not something I wanted to attempt. So I just forged ahead with the pattern, adapting the pattern as I went and being complete surrendered to the idea that this was just a "teaching" piece and it didn't matter how it looked when I was done.

Mistake #4 - attempting to perfect the two-handed Fair Isle knitting technique with all the above handicaps in place . . . and a Stupid Finger, to boot.

Mistake #5 - not stopping and taking measures to correct any one of the above mistakes in mid-stream and forcing myself to continue to the bitter end with all the moronic handicaps that I'd created for myself. Sometimes I can be just a tad too stubborn for my own good.

I hadn't looked too closely at the tam when I cast off. I wove in the million or so ends, sought a proper sized plate for blocking and finished stretching it out for steam blocking before really looking at the finished product.

It was a "WOW" moment. In spite of all the difficulties and awkwardness in knitting it, it turned out very pretty. The "seams" are not all that visible (a loose looking stitch here and there is all) and the float tension issues seemed to block out beautifully with a good burst of steam.

When Peeps saw it, she immediately fell in love with it and claimed it as her own - which is a good thing because it turned out pretty small. (Being the theatrical little lady she is, she couldn't resist hamming it up for the camera a little.)

Harley was even impressed.

Then again, maybe he just wanted me to pay attention to him, instead of staring, entranced at the wonder I had wrought.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Snowy Weather and Little Blessings

While schools in our immediate vicinity have not been let out early, there was enough of the white stuff dumped on us this afternoon to get the girls a snow day from dance this evening. While most people would probably consider this a "so what" kinda thing, for me it is a little blessing (#1).

You see, I have this issue with books. When I read something that I like, I have a dickens of a time putting it down. Alas, I made the mistake of starting a book yesterday morning and I ended up spending most of the night finishing it. I managed to squeeze about 2.5 hours of sleep in this morning. To compound the stupidity of my error, Peeps had an early morning eye appointment and we just had to get up by 7 a. m. to get her out the door and to the doctor to make sure that her eye issues were still under control. (Note: They are - she is 20/20 in the good eye and 20/25 in the weak one and the crossing continues to lessen. Little blessing #2!)

I've never been so thankful in my life to have a teenage driver in the house. When I got him up and asked him to drive us to the doctor, he was eager to help. More than that, with the snow just beginning for the day, it was an opportunity for him to work on his driving-in-snow skills before he starts his behind-the-wheel training tomorrow. Even with his novice driving status, it was probably far safer with him behind the wheel, that his poor, sleep-deprived mom. Little blessing #3!

And yet, Hockeyman still has hockey (they NEVER cancel hockey in Minnesota - that would be sacreligious) and Bubba still has swimming (as of now). So I have a couple little trips to make today but not nearly as much as usual. Having taken a little nap earlier today (little blessing #4), I feel well able to deal with the two activities that remain.

As for another type of little blessing, here is a preemie hat for the KAL on Ravelry. I pray that eventually this tiny hat is a blessing to someone welcoming a wee one into the world.

Now if I could just get a good, solid night of sleep tonight, we'd move into the big blessing category.

Friday, January 09, 2009

You just can't keep a good woman down!

Well, the Stupid Finger is coming along nicely. Because I splinted and kept the blasted thing dry and clean for 2 days, I've got a good seal on the wound and have graduated from the full finger splint to a regular band-aid with some sports tape wrapped around it while knitting and doing other things that might irritate or open it back up.

I have to admit, I must have knicked the bone pretty good because it is ridiculously tender and sore. It actually hurts more than the avulsion fracture of the middle finger back in June.

All that to say that I'm back to my regular knitting style and have knocked off a quick preemie hat for the Hat Trick 2009 and k3tog PHK group on Ravelry. My next goal is to finish the Fair Isle Tam this weekend, before returning to the preemie hats.

Once January ends, I'll have to get back to my usual New Years Resolution of finishing off 3 UFO's before casting on anything new. Definitely should NOT be a problem finding plenty of projects to finish, since I think the UFO's have been breeding and multiplying in the basket. They are overflowing and threatening to overrun the house.

I just hope they don't start plotting a coup. Yikes!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Stupid Finger Part Deux

I don't know whether to lay the blame on my husband for buying me a new set of razor sharp kitchen knives for Christmas, myself for jinxing myself while opening gifts by saying I'd probably end up cutting off a finger because these knives are for professional cooks or the fates because they seem to have it in for my left hand fingers. But the "Stupid Finger" made a dramatic return when I managed to slice my left index finger to the bone last night.

Unfortunately, I manged to cut across the first knuckle, exactly along the area where the yarn traverses as I knit. Though I was able to stop the bleeding within 20 minutes, and I knew my tetanus shots were up to date and avoided a trip to urgent care last night, it tends to crack open and bleed unless I splint it and keep it immobile. Alas, my knitting ability is now compromised. (Stupid Finger!)

Thus, my second "goal" for Hat Trick 2009 for the Ravelry Puck This Group is on hold. I had spent a few days reading Knitted Tams by Mary Rowe, had worked up the charts and color plots for the hat and had even managed to get 3" of the hat done before the cutting catastrophe occurred. While I can knit a little by modifying my picking technique, it is just too hard to practice the two-handed Fair Isle knitting technique with a Stupid Finger.

Fortunately, I can manage garter stitch. So I'm back to working on Dancing Diva's blanket once again. And I may cast on a simple rolled-brim baby hat to work toward Goal #2 for the Hat Trick 2009.

In the meantime, my silver lining radar has already come up with some positives about the return of the stupid finger . . . like pawning laundry & dishes off on the kids for a week.

Hooray for silver linings!

Friday, January 02, 2009

First FO of '09

My needles have been smokin' around here. Nothing like some New Year inspiration to get the mojo goin'. Here is Koolhaas from Interweave Knits Holiday 2007 magazine, modelled by the ever lovely Dancing Diva, who promptly fell in love with the hat and has claimed it as her own.

I joined a knit-along on Ravelry, kinda as a way to get motivated to get back into regular updates and posting over there. Being a hockey mom, I've been part of the Puck This group for quite awhile. So when they announced Hat Trick 2009, it sounded like a blast. Three hats in the month of January was the challenge. I cast on around 5:30 am on New Years Morning and finished at 2:30 pm on January 2. SCOOOOORE!

Ergo, I have my first "goal" of the month. I decided to try Koolhaas again, which had me kerfaffled the first time I attempted it. This time, however, the pattern made sense. It was one of those "doh" moments when I realized that k2tbl was not a decrease but, literally, knit 2 stitches through the back loopS. You can see how cleverly Brooklyn Tweed worked the crown decreases in the photo. Absolutely brilliant!

So brilliant that it took me a year to figure it out.