Saturday, April 30, 2005

Count Your Blessings

End of the month and confession time again. I spread out my WIPs (Works in Progress) and took their pictures. I am embarassed to report that several are still in the same state they were in months past.

And so, for your viewing pleasure I present:

The Aran vest. Okay, I've made a little progress, but the difference in color is becoming much more obvious. Press on, press on.

New cast ons. Baby hat on the left to match the Best Baby Sweater and a second BBS in yellow on the right. These little sweaters are gifts for soon to be twins, due in August with an early arrival predicted. Press on!

New cast on. Afghan for the fair. Pattern from Bernat Keepsakes and Lace booklet that was free with purchase from my favorite yarn pusher . The yarn, well-aged ABM Fluffy, came from there, too. I'll give this one away after the fair. It's becoming a very lightweight fabric with a 12-row pattern, requiring a bit of concentration. Press on.

The progress on the Knit Along sweater is slow but steady. I need about 3 more inches on that sleeve before I cuff it. Then the other sleeve. I am seriously considering an i-cord band on the front edge and either ties (like Wendy put on Laci) or a single button at the point of the V.

And here's everything gathered in one spot. In addition to the projects that were deemed worthy of their own photos, we have

1) The BBS from last month, still sans buttons
2) a pair of fraternal baby booties. The color doesn't show very well, but the instep on one is green and the other, purple. They need i-cord ties and some cute beads. Green on one, purple on the other.
3) The never ending (but it might be if I'd just start it!) sock project.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Gone With the Wind

Goodbye Bernat Breeze! So long. Farewell, etc.

And here's the finished nightmare:

It's about 30" square and a decent size for a tuck around for a baby in a carseat. I had no qualms at all about throwing the remaining yarn into the trash!

Done. Finished. Finito!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

AS Good As It Gets

I spent the day sorting buttons. No, really. I have so many buttons that it makes no sense buying more (though I still look at several on-line suppliers a couple times a month). The problem is, I am making two fraternal baby sweaters, so I need somewhat matching buttons. Sixteen of them.

Here's why:

One down, 2 to go! And since two will go to the same gestating mom, they need to be similar at the very least. Of course Best Baby needs a wash and block, and I guess I really should stitch the buttons in place. Yeh, they're just lying there.

And I made progress on the current mindless project: A garter stitch thing made of Bernat Breeze.

Yep, threw in a green stripe there. Will be throwing in yellow stripes and a white one as the spirit moves me. I want this stuff out-of-my-life!

Question of the week: Why, when one has unlimited amounts of marginal yarn (say, pink Bernat Breeze) does one ball stretch far enough to make a garment, but when one is down to the last 10 ounces of something equally marginal (for argument sake, let's say it's Bernat Breeze) with absolutely no intention of buying any more ever again, the damned project freakin' eats yarn?

I await your responses to this law of practical physics. (Don't you wish you'd paid attention in high school?)

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Bad Timing

I promised I'd tell about my week, though I'm not sure I want to relive it.

Let me start by saying that I did my first once-a-year volunteer shift at the soup kitchen this week. How incredibly uplifting and depressing, and what a conflict of emotions! Happy that people are getting fed. Sad that they need to be fed. Let me be clear. Many of the folks in that line are "working stiffs." It was very obvious. The ones that skipped the "main event," settling for a cup of coffee and a roll because "I only get 30 minutes for lunch," and the line was ever so long (easily 50% longer than last March, my last turn). People who are working. Little kids. Old people. People with obvious (and not so obvious)impairments. They shouldn't have to do this! But I am really grateful that there are people and organizations that make it so they can. Am I clear?


And I go back next Wednesday.

I consider it my annual "booster shot" of compassion. Running a regional food bank, I work on the fringes all year long. I move food toward the people that need it, but don't usually see them.

Then, there was Friday (the rest of the week was pretty much a blur!). I was on my way home, less than 2 miles from the house, in fact, when I witnessed what may or may not (I'm thinkin' not) have been an accident. A kid on bike went ass over head over the handlebars on the sidewalk ahead and slightly to the left of my range of vision. NO ONE but me stopped! I don't think he was hit by a car. I think he hit the curb or the broken up sidewalk with his bike but, Damn! What's wrong with people?

He was yelling and limping and bleeding but he ran for home (partway up the block) and left the bike on the sidewalk. Not a little kid. Like maybe 14. I guess I'll just have to take his word for it that he wasn't "hurt."

This is the second time that's happened to me in the same area (1st time was a little kid on a "Big Wheel" that shot out of an alley and ran head-on into my driver's side door!). I'm really thinking that it's time for some basic safety classes in the schools around here.

So, the weekend is finally here and the weather is a bit pissy. Errands to run. Laundry to do. Book sale in one of the towns on my regular errand route. It's going to be a good day!

In a fit of stashbusting, I've cast on (3 times) with this pink Bernat Breeze (the last of it! It's been 2 ponchos and 2 baby blankets and I still have 2 skeins left! I think it's breeding.. I'll just keep on picking up and knitting until I run out. If it's big enough, it'll be a baby blanket. If it isn't, it'll be a cage cozy.

This stuff really is nasty to work with. It splits and sticks and just doesn't look nice at all. A person with less packrat tendencies would have thrown it away by now!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Midnight Lace

It isn't quite midnight, but my body thinks it is.

Allergies and a bad case of spring fever are taking their toll!

Managed to make some progress on the Best Baby sweater. I'm thinking that I need to find another pretty 7-stitch pattern for the second one. Though, now that my mind and hands are working in sync, the second one might go faster if I stick with this pattern!

Sleeves are finished. I just need to pattern for about 5 more inches. I think littled domed pearly buttons. If there's enough yarn left on the cone, I think I'll make a matching hat.

Life as we know it has been just too depressing to blog about, so I'll save the gory details for the weekend.

To sleep, perchance to dream. . .

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Analyze This

It's been a long day, what with the election and all and the speculation over What-It-Really-Means. From my standpoint, it means I won't be going back any time soon (not that I was considering it).

I'm afraid of what it means!

So anyway, we watched our TiVo'd version of Beyond the daVinci Code that was on the History Channel. In my opinion, it's not a keeper. Wait for the re-run if you were considering a purchase!

And here's what I did while I watched:

I know it doesn't look very different, but I've reached the division for the sleeves and started the first one!

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Change of Heart

All the pieces of the little blue sweater are finished. I put it together tonight and have edited in this picture:

But I've already started the twins' sweaters 3 or maybe 4 times today. I had the yarn selected a couple of weeks ago (Red Heart Luster Sheen) and snapped a little shot (it's the coned yellow and green stuff on my April 3 entry.

I cast on a couple of Bliss sweaters, then remembered how very wide those patterns make up and frogged. I debated other yarns. I briefly considered using worsted weight and making a couple of 5-hour baby sweaters.

Here's what won out:

It's an Elizabeth Zimmerman design. The picture is from Vogue Knitting American Collection, but it's also in Knitter's Almanac. It was originally published in Vogue Knitting in Fall, 1990.

Such a sweet little sweater. A classic.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Less Than Zero

Long day with little accomplished but I did manage to get a haircut:

and work on the baby sweater:

If I had calculated the sleeves as carefully as I calculated the body (I am upsizing a pattern that a cyberfriend shared), I would be seaming it right now. But, as I plunged right on in, I had to frog the sleeve and re-knit it.

I do think I may be able to finish tonight or tomorrow. Liz, you were right. The texture is showing up a lot more than I expected!

I haven't touched the Aran vest. And my KAL sweater would be wimpering from neglect if it could. We won't mention the sock, either.

My kitchen is about half cleaned, though. Surely that counts for something!

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Blessed Event

Four of them actually, so far. To three moms (yep, twins!).

So I am working away on baby garments. The first package will go in the mail today. It's nothing special (but I hope it will be to the mom).

Second present (for the 4th baby) is OTN as I type:

It's gonna be a wee gansey-type "envelope-style" pullover. The shoulders overlap to make a nice wide neck for ease in dressing and baby comfort.

I definitely goofed on the yarn. Red Heart Hokey Pokey is pretty, but the tweediness obscures the texture of the yoke.

Live and learn.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Half Past Dead

Another long day.

This one started with a committee meeting at 7:30, then another meeting at 10, another at 1 (which conflicted with the meeting with the plumber that stood me up yesterday). Lots of time at the computer. Many trips up and down the stairs.

The day was productive, though. All is well.

I was ready to pull the car over on the way home. Just a little nap. 15 minutes. . .

Eating dinner helped. A lot.

Afterwards, I was able to admire spring:

And knit a little:

A very little. Like the last pattern repeat and the shaping at the top.

Now, I think, that nap would be nice, followed by a sound sleep of another 7 or so hours. Then I can get up and do it all again.

Monday, April 11, 2005

The Longest Day

The first day back is always long!

I got to shorten it a bit because I had a doctor's appointment at 3:20. Left at 3, thinking I had plenty of time. Wrong. Bad traffic. Got to wait an hour anyway.

Luckily I had along my KAL sweater. I was knitting away when I heard the staff say, "hey, it's the knitting lady!"

They all admired my sweater and commented on the "teeny, tiny needles" ( I think these are 7's - should have brought my socks!). They are all knitters or crocheters and pulled out their WIPs to show me.

I had to tell them that "knitting lady" is the nicest thing anyone called me today. Made my day!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

A Thin Line Between Love and Hate

I am this close :: puts index finger and thumb about a quarter inch apart:: to finishing the Grand Mitered Blankie:

I know it would look better photographed against the solid color livingroom rug, but that one is a very light color (white, in fact) which also shows of just how bad a housekeeper I am, so we will all have to live with the pattern!

The Recipe:

A note about this "recipe": Gauge is not critical! You can actually trust the "recommeded gauge" as stated on the ball band and not screw up too very badly. You can use any weight yarn you want to make a lighter or heavier blankie. You can use the size needles that make the fabric that satisfies you. You will need to have in mind, an approximate gauge (stitches per inch). If you aren't sure about this, go ahead and make a garter stitch swatch with the needles and yarn you plan to use and measure it!

To determine how many stitches (S) to cast on, multiply your gauge (G) by the finished size you want (F) by 2: S=GxFx2 (If you are feeling math impaired, use a calculator.)

Cast on S stitches, placing a marker between the center two stitches. Knit every row, decreasing (k 2 together) before and after the marker on every right side row until 2 stitches remain. Remove marker and k 2 together.

Fasten off if you are satisfied with the way the edge looks, or use an attached i-cord (cast on 3 stitches, *knit 2, slip 1, pick up a ridge bump and knit it, pass slipped stitch over, slip 3 stitches on right needle back to left needle* repeat forever or until you run out of ridge bumps) or any other edging that looks good to you.

What I did:

Yarn: Worsted weight big box acrylic (Caron, TLC, Pound of Love), about 25 ounces (or close to it--I had absolutely none of the "colors" left at the end).

Needles: I used size 7 (29" circular) and size 5 (2 double points, for the i-cord).

Gauge: 4 stitches/inch

Finished size: 40" square

I started with a cast on of 320 stitches, placed a markerbetween the 160th and 161st stitches and knit (and knit, and knit) every row (garter stitch), decreasing 2 stitches (one, either side of the marker) every right side row until I was down to 2 stitches. I changed colors at whim. There were 5 all together, a soft blue and a burgundy, bright yellow, lilac, and white. No color band is more than 5 ridges wide.

Now, I am finishing the edge with an applied i-cord

The square itself took exactly a week to execute. I did a lot of my knitting in the car and on the beach (it's mindless) and watching TV. I expect that the border will add another 4 days or so to the project. It takes a little more concentration (but not a lot).

The back:

is sort of interesting. The colors are softer.

I'm thinking that it might be time to drag out all my worsted weight wool oddballs and (finally) start a Surprise Jacket for myself. If I do, I think that I will make the color changes on the wrong side. I really like that effect.


Saturday, April 09, 2005

The Shop on Main Street

I always skip over yarn shop reviews on the lists (as in "I'll be traveling to Upper Podunk next month. Are there any great yarn shops there?"). If you are like me in that regard, you may want to skip this post!

In preparation for our trip to Virginia Beach, I googled. Once we got there, I checked the yellow pages. There are three LYS within the city limits, and probably several more within a 10 mile radius. Virginia Beach, I now know, is the largest city in the Commonwealth! (Of course, most knitters also know that doesn't necessarily mean squat for yarn shopping!)

There are three yarn shops in Virginia Beach. I was pleased that we were able to ferret two of them out with relative ease. (We also found Dunkin' Donuts, so the Other Half was mellow.)

First stop:

The hook and i is a charming shop set in a charming upscale strip right on Virginia Beach Blvd. The front of the store is devoted to needlepoint (lots of 'spensive canvas and wool that would have had me drooling 30 years ago). Lovely stuff! I was greeted before I was well into the shop and asked, "needle or yarn?" Yarn had its own space and there was lots of it! Foof and classic, local, imported, cotton, wool, and everything in between, patterns galore, needles six ways to Sunday--lovely stuff (I think I said that already). There were several shop samples of patterns I already own, in yarns I'd love to knit. I could have maxed out my card without even trying.

All I bought was this localish (Churchville, VA) tweedy stuff, Chester Farms Cestari. I am hoping that I got enough for a casual shell (1160 yards, about a pound). The color is Sea Shell, a golden tan with flecks of sage, blue, and a hint of rust. The fiber is cotton, wool, and silk.

Stop 2:

Ewe Knit Kits is a block or so off the beaten path. It is also located in a shopping strip and is a completely different shopping experience. Bright lights, bright yarns, every bit of foof that is new on the market, a wall of Koigu, Prism "stuff," and lots of other great yarn. Their book section was not to be believed with multiple copies of lots of the newest in print and lots and lots of classics. I'm sure there must have been needles, but I wasn't in the market, and didn't notice them.

There was a table where several knitters were working through simple and complicated patterns in interesting yarns. There were samples and swatches everywhere.

At that point, I was on a mission, looking for a laceweight yarn (mohair, perhaps) in a purple shade to make a stole. It was staring me in the face as I walked in the door:

Straw into Gold Kid Merino in a pale lavender. 1920 yards of it.

Now, to find the pattern I know I have here somewhere. It's called (I think) "Traveling Shawl" as in, easy to pack in the pre-shawl phase and in the finished form (that's the description). Does anyone out there know where I might have seen that pattern? (Yeh, yeh, Psychic Knitter to the rescue.)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Beach Blanket Bingo

I'm back! Did you miss me?

We spent 4 glorious days in Virginia Beach, about 7 hours south of here. Our room overlooked the boardwalk
and the beach (which is replaced every morning at the crack of dawn):
The weather was warm and sunny until Friday morning
which made it perfectly okay to leave and come home!

And when we got here, the sun was shining in Pennsylvania and it was warm enough to open windows and the daffodils were in bloom (pictures tomorrow).

What I can show today is the progress on the baby blanket

Sunday, April 03, 2005

You Can't Take It With You

But I'm sure gonna try!

Not taking anything that I'd be sad to lose (except for the time that will be lost).

Left to right: Blankie, hat, yarn for hooded 5-hour baby sweater, yarn for 2 Babies and Bears hooded sweaters.

I think I am taking enough along, but if I run out, there are no less tahn three LYS where we are going!

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Play It Again, Sam

Frogging the equivalent of 12 ounces of yarn is not a task I undertake lightly, but today, it's exactly what I did.

The blankie that I was Bonding, using the "sew as you go" method of joining strips was looking pretty sad. Both joins were sloppy. (I tried two different methods.) And I was quite dissatisfied. Charity knitting should, in my not so humble opinion, be every bit as carefully done as knitting for friends and family, or as I have been heard to utter: "good enough to give to the pickiest in-law."

This wasn't!

And, as I discovered when I started the raveling process, it wasn't put together all that well. Either I blew the instructions, or the method sucks. Doesn't matter which, I'm glad I rethought the original. Cute as the idea (big colorblock squares) was, the fact is, it practically fell apart in my hands!

Picture a blanket, given to a child whose parent doesn't knit or crochet. Now picture same blanket as woobie, two years down the road, coming apart at every seam. Not a pretty picture, is it?

So I started over using the same yarn, in a pattern that doesn't come apart easily, a giant garter stitch mitered square:

I might add a border after I finish. Or I might leave it "just so."

And on another note, it's raining again! With flooding predicted. And we have some vacation scheduled.

April vacation has taken us to the shore in search of warmth and sunshine for the past several years.

The first year, we went to Cape May. It rained the whole time and the wind blew constantly. At about 30 miles an hour. Nothing was open for the season yet. The temperature never went above 45.

Then we tried heading further south to Rehobeth Beach. That year, we arrived a little early to check in. It was warm and sunny. We were wearing shorts. We parked the car near the hotel and walked over to the business district. I swear that we had not gone a block when a wind kicked up, the temperature dropped, and it started snowing! And it stayed cold the entire time we were there!

So this year, we are heading even further south to Virgnia Beach. Do I think it will snow? No. This year, we get torrential rain, high tides and flooding.

The Other Half speculated that if we head west next year, we will probably bring on plague and pestilence.

The Kid is staying home to mind the animals. I think he may be getting the better deal.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Bitter Sweet

You wait until Easter is over so that you can get a bargain on leftover Easter candy (half price is good).

Better than chocolate bunnies. Better than Peeps. The world's best inexpensive (okay, admit it, cheap!) jelly beans are those made right down the road a bit:

Full price, they are less than a dollar (U.S.) a 10 ounce bag. Half price, they are dirt cheap. And tempting.

(Did I mention that I can eat a whole bag at a sitting?)

So imagine my disappointment when I opened this bag and found:

(Did I mention that I don't like black jelly beans?) Thirty-seven of them! One and a half of the seven servings in this bag are black! Fully 23% of my long-awaited, much anticipated bag of jelly beans. Black!

(Did I mention that black jelly beans are a favorite of the Other Half?)

(I wonder how many black ones there are in the other 3 bags I bought. . .)

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