Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What's In the Box?

The October/November Challenge for Cheyenne River is in. Fill a cubic foot of box (that's 12"X12"X12") or thereabouts with warm woolies and mail them to Cheyenne River (P.O. Box 410, Eagle Butte, SD 57625) by December 1.

I mailed a box last week containing some socks and underwear. This one will get filled with scarves and hats and maybe some purchased mittens

There is no cat in the box.

We were away all weekend. It was time for a shower for the soon-to-be grand. His mom got lots of sweet stuff (including bunches you have seen here) and I met another of my readers (Hi, Sandy).

We had a horrid drive down through torrential downpours that slowed us so a snail's pace, or so it seemed. Ate lots of good food, saw the house that the Older Kid and the Not-So-New-Anymore Daughter-in-law are buying, and then we came home.

The Other Half had to go back to work, but I took the day to clean out the flower beds and catch up on my sleep laundry.

Back to the grind tomorrow.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Leftover Odds and Ends

There were a few odd bits of yarn left from all the fair isle-type sweaters I made for Dulaan some months back (scroll down).

I attempted to make them into a hat or two for Ship Support, but the colors were too close to make nice contrasting stripes and I didn't have enough of any of them to make decent looking hats.

Earlier this week, I hit on another brainstorm (uh, oh!) and decided to try a little stranded colorwork with what was left. What follows is the "recipe" for a "Cross Country Ski Hat" that will be winging its way to New Orleans with some other stuff.

I started with a gauge swatch (okay, I faked it, knowing that this is a "community" hat) and measured 5.5 stitches/inch or thereabouts in the stranded stuff. (This is traditional "sport-weight" yarn, Pinguoin Pingofrance, mostly acrylic/wool blend.)

I wanted a hat that's sufficiently snug to stay on so I cast on an even number of stitches (in this case, 100 -about 18" worth), joined and knit about 1" of garter stitch (k 1 round, p one round) for the band.

The pattern is one that I used to allow the mis-matched shades of blue and bright accents to "blend" into each other. It is:

NONONONONONONONO all the way around where N=New Color and O= Old Color

for two rounds, then NNNNNN for as many rounds as I had yarn, leaving a enough (you have to guess--and be liberal in your guess unless you enjoy tinking 2 color stranded knitting!) to become Old Color when I switched to the next color.

Do you follow? Repeat.

Here's the inside of the finished tube. I did a 3-needle bind off at the top when the tube was a little (like 1/2") longer than it is wide.

I will confess that I didn't mess with "jogless jog" on this one because there didn't seem to be a Jog Issue. (I guess if you look carefully, you can see the end-of-round, but to me, it passes the Drive-by Test).

Weave the ends in, snugging up the first and last stitch carefully.

Now, while it's still inside out, bring the two top corners together and stitch them together securely.

Smooth out the fabric.

Turn right side out.


Warm and cozy (because the fabric is mostly doubled). The pleats on the sides expand to fit.

I will confess (again) that I toyed with the idea of shaping the top of this hat like a beanie but couldn't figure out how to keep the pattern going (and didn't want stripes--see note at the top of this post about what a Bad Idea that was with this particular batch of colors). The 3-needle bind off came to the rescue.

It seams that I might have enough yarn left for yet another of these.

And on a personal note: I am taking a 5-day weekend because 1) I deserve it and 2) if I don't start using some of my vacation time, I will lose all but 5 days. That ain't happening!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Are We Cute?

Or what?

Sparky couldn't wait to try on her new sweater. Does it look a little familiar? That's because it's the fraternal twin of Belle's sweater, modified to fit a cat.

She may not be crazy about it now, but when there's snow on the ground, she'll be glad her bare naked belly is covered.

Yes, still. But we saw TED (The Evil Doctor) again yesterday and got another shot of steroids, so maybe the itching will stop long enough for some fur to grow back.

A girl can dream, can't she?


Sunday, October 21, 2007

Now What?

Carol who is a member of the Native American Support group that we just Mittn'd for, has risen to the latest challenge: to fill a box, approximately 1 cubic foot (1'X1'X1') with warm goodies and get it in the mail by December 1.

This is a challenge I can get behind! Just as soon as I finish my package for NOLA.

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Saturday, October 20, 2007

Coming and Going

You know those weeks when you meet yourself coming and going? Yeh, one of those! But in 12 hours, it will all be just a fleeting memory.

Tonight is our Empty Bowls dinner at the warehouse. We are commemorating 25 years in the fight to end hunger. The one that was supposed to be won (or nearly so) by now.

We won't go into the policies that are making it harder and harder every day to fight the good fight.

Also in the category of "coming and going" (or vice versa) is this wonderful wooly sweater that I made for the Other Half shortly after we moved here. The yarn was purchased on a "day trip" to Lambertville, NJ/New Hope, PA. He picked it. I picked the pattern. He wore it a lot.

But it got stretched out, and he got ::gasp:: thinner, and despite an attempt to shrink it just a little bit, it's still too big (too wide, actually).

So I figured that I could frog it back to balls of yarn, re-ball it, and make something new!

The yarn still is the "property" of the Other Half, so I guess I won't be making something for me.


It would make a great cardigan.

Here's the pile of new balls of old wool.

I used my ball winder to make cakes and now, I need to clean up the massive quantities of lint, dust, and fluff that are everywhere.

Before anyone asks, I did nothing to un-kink the yarn. No washing (I know it's clean--see above for sad tale of attempted shrinkage), no weighting. I didn't even frog it to my swift first.

I figure that the final wash and block will get rid of most of the kinks. I'll keep you posted.

And since my odd ball basket is full to overflowing again, I cast on 305 stitches onto my very l-o-n-g 10.5 Addis and started. . .

Well, I have the center stitch marked and I am debating with myself.

This will be either another mitered square baby blankie/lap robe for the Reservation, or a very l-o-n-g scarf for Covenant House in NOLA.

I have about 50 more stitches before I need to decide :eep:

The colors would be fine for a baby or a nearly grown up.

I'll keep you posted.

Update: It's going to be a blankie. So there!

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

Belle of the Ball

There's a bit of afall-like nip in the air here in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

Belle is modeling the perfect fashion for such a lovely fall day.

Pattern from Odd Ball Knitting by Barbara Albright. Yarn by Red Heart (Classic & TLC) in Barn Red, Teal, Black, Green, and Navy.

Isn't she a sweetie?

Go on, admit it!

Like all of the family pets, Belle is a rescue.

Why would anyone abandon such a nice beagle?

We're still waiting to tell her she's adopted. Maybe when she's a little older.


Saturday, October 13, 2007

Looking For My Happy Place

Sparky has been helping with the accessorization of my darker yarns. Nothing like a little white cat hair to jazz up plain black wool!

And we've both been looking for a Happy Place. She seems to have found hers in my closet. By pushing all of my shoes out of the way.

I wonder if there's enough room in there for me to join her.

It's been a rough week here in Lake Wobegon. Work has sucked the living soul from me, as we are missing a key person, and though others have offered to step up, there are some things that would take so much explanation that it's easier just to do them myself. And so I have.

But I am tired.

Thankfully, it's only one more week.

One of my coworkers has a friend who is undergoing chemo and has lost her hair and it's getting cold here in the Northeast, folks (though following on the heels of recordbreaking high temperatures, it was something of a surprise)!

He asked if I could/would make a cap for his friend.

Thinking soft, thinking washable, I stash-dove and came up first with some Fun Fur Stripes (in the South Beach colorway--long stretches of turquoise, lime, and pink) that made up quickly on size 10.5s.

It was acceptable. Soft, warm, a little funky.

Then I found this skein (or 3) of Lion Color Waves. The color is called Sunset Red. The pattern is on the label.

This stuff is positively vile to knit. It's bouclé. It's acrylic. It sticks to bamboo, nylon, and Addis. But it makes a lovely fabric! It's soft, it's warm, and it's a bit funky.

I handed off the remaining 2.5 skeins to someone else to make a matching scarf (or not) and threw in the skein of Pebble Beach colorway for good measure. I am happy to be rid of it!

I've done some other soul-sucking knitting (also for a good cause) this week. The Ship Support call is out for warm wool garments for troops stationed in Afghanistan.

I attempted a gaiter (tube scarf) with really bad results, so I frogged it and made the seaman scarf pictured on the left instead. It's the classic pattern, suggested by the Seamen's Church Institute, and though I was tempted to embellish, the best I could bring myself to was a slipped stitch edge.

After all, it's about the recipient, not me!

Yarn: well-aged Brown Sheep NatureSpun in Pepper.

And I'll be casting on this adorable bunting (Vogue KOTG Baby Knits) with the Brown Sheep Lambs Pride Superwash Bulky shown as soon as I figure out how to restructure the sizing.

The pattern calls for a 28" chest for the 3 month size. The Other Half pronounced it "shaped like it would fit a starfish!" And though I have no doubt that McMunchkin will be a superstar, being the first 2-legged grand on either side of the family, I'm pretty sure that he's more likely to be longer than average, rather than wider!

The colder weather has brought out the urge to knit with wool, and so I will. While looking for my Happy Place.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It's Int-tuh-lex-chul

Rabbitch tagged me with this meme because she knows how much I love them.

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why? Hardcover because the spines don't break and (usually) the pages don't fall out no matter how often you read them.

2. If I were to own a book shop, I would call it... Hidden Treasures

3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) There was an incredibly funny scene in There's a (Slight) Chance That I Might Be Going To Hell: A Novel of Sewer Pipes, Pagent Queens, and Big Trouble that was so high-lareous that I woke the Other Half and made him listen, but I gave the book to The Daughter In Law, and so I can't reference it here. Let's just say that it was so funny that I nearly wet the bed. Every night. Until I finished that book! Damn! I wish I could remember it!

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be... James Michener

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be… A large sketchbook and plenty of pencils so that I could draw what I see and write down my thoughts

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that… would hold the book open and turn the pages for me

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of... the library where I had my first card

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be… Jo March (Little Women)

9. The most overestimated book of all times is… War and Peace

10. I hate it when a book… ends

And so, because I know they love memes, I tag Anami, and Mariella.

Calling Carol K and Loretta: Please email me your snail addys so I can get your prizes to you! (amcmanus at ptd dot net--make the obvious corrections.)

Sunday, October 07, 2007


As a teaser, thought folks might like to see the little vest I whipped up over the weekend.

This one is for Afghans For Afghans and is about a size 8 (30 inches around and 20 inches from shoulder to bottom). I started with a child's cropped summer top in Knitting With Bits and Pieces edited by Jeanne Stauffer (House of White Birches). The pattern was designed by Patty Leatherbury. Then I got wild and crazy!

I used my Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns (Interweave Press) by Ann Budd to determine actual measurements that would be approriate.

Ann calls a 30" a size 6-8 and suggests a finished length of 17.5".

Keeping in mind that Afghani children tend to be slim but not short, I added some length and a bit of a pattern from the November issue of Creative Knitting (bought on the stand--I let my subscription lapse). The chart is the one for arm snuggies. (WTF?)

I used Budd's armhole and shoulder shaping (but I used short rows and 3-needle bind off on the shoulders) and I used her v-neck shaping (interesting and a bit different than I'm accustomed to--at least as I interpreted her instructions--see blurry photo left).

So, I ask, who designed this vest?

And now, what you've all been waiting for! The wooly goodies that were shipped to Cheyenne River in September included 398 hats and 406 pairs of mittens!

Here are the Mittnz prizes. They were donated by loyal readers. I can remember only some of the donors' names.

I am feeling incredibly stupid and forgetful (while at the same time virtuous, because I actually cleared up the mess I made and threw away some of the wrapping they were mailed in::oops::). Janice and Cathy donated beautiful stitch markers, Mary, Marilyn, and Linda sent mascots and books and yarny goodness. And someone else ::insert blushing embarrassed face:: also contributed books and yummy yarn, and if you will email me [yet again] I will happily credit you here and apologize profusely and such. So, please identify yourself.

The winners of the Mittnz 2007 Challenge drawing (chosen at random by the Random Number Generator) are:


Carol K
Chris M
Julie (wis)
Nancy L
and Loretta!

Please email me (amcmanus@ptd.net) your addresses and I will pop your prize packages into the mail.

Thanks for playing!

Edited Monday to Add: Two other prize donors were Anami and Julie. And I really do thank you. I'm not usually so dense!

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Saturday, October 06, 2007

Time, Gentlemen!

Chris finished her pairs of Mittnz (these are just 2 of the ones she mailed). Love the bright, cheery colors.

And some more kids will have warmer hands because Chris cared enough to rise to the Challenge!

Last Call at the pub, and last call for the Mittnz 2007 Challenge!

I need your pictures by midnight EST if you want to be included in this year's prize draw.

Fifty-six seven people are "in" so far.

Suzanne got in just under the wire, but let's cut her some slack! She learned how to post pictures just for the Challenge! Way to go, Suzanne!

And these are wonderful Mittnz and wristers. Lots of warm hands thanks to you!

I've started something new.

I'll wait while you all act surprised.

Okay, I've started a couple of new things.

The one over there (eyes left) is not the one I've started for the A4A Weekend Rally. They's been offered the opportunity to ship 80 cartons (up to 6000 warm items) through Church World Service. This is an opportunity that cannot be allowed to pass unanswered. So, get out the needles and cast something on! 100% animal fiber. Any color (white and pastels are discouraged because they look dingy so fast).

I'm making a pullover vest. In Lopi-type wool.

I am thinking that between car-riding today and the football game this evening and a TiVo marathon tomorrow. . .

Yep, I'll get it done.

Eyes left for another view of the mystery project.

I need the recipient to try it on before I go any further. I think it might be a little too big, and she's not going to get a whole lot bigger.

So, what do you think?

I've been enjoying Amanda's blog a lot. If you like to travel, if you like things Asian, or if you are just an adventurous "foodie" stop on over and check it out!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Last Round-up

Dragon Knitter is sending this pair.

They aren't Mittnz, but 4 heads will be warmer thanks to Jean.

The response to this Mittn challenge has been wonderful! All the participants together have sent over 1000 hats, mittns, socks and sweaters of various sizes and types.

Admittedly, some of them were "store-bought" but it matters not.

Drawing for prizes is coming soon. Report in to my email: amcmanus@ptd.net by Saturday!


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ollie, Ollie, Oxen Free

Or something.

Last chance to report your Mittnz, send your photos, and be included in the Great 2007 Mittnz Caper Draw.

The prize packages are sumptuous and lovely and have poured in from around the globe (and Canada, even!)

There is yarny goodness, knitting mascots (eyes left--isn't the one in the front just the sweetest thing?), books, Mittn patterns to get you started for next year, and stitch markers so you can increase for the thumb gusset.

I wish I was in line for a prize myself!

I have kept the prizes (mostly) way up on top away from the curious eyes and paws of Sparky the bob-tailed wonder cat.

There they are (eyes left again) up near the ceiling, waiting to be put together into goodie packs.

Is your name in the draw?

It's not too late (yet), but come Saturday, Mittnz 2007 will be just a pleasant memory.

Except for all the warm hands.


Monday, October 01, 2007

The End Is Near


Members of the NAS (Native American Support group are finishing up the Mittnz Challenge (and a sister-challenge to collect Hatz) this week. If you have participated and mailed (even if you couldn't finish 7 pairs and/or you couldn't provide picture proof), please email me 1) your name and 2) the number of Mittnz you sent. If you made warm wooliess (hats, scarves, or sweaters) I'll be posting those totals as well.

Don't be shy, report in.

I will be tabulating the results of this challenge through October 6. Drawing for fabulous prizes is October 7.

Don't be left out!

Betty sent me this picture of all the Mittnz she finished in time for the deadline! Wow!

Betty had reported in when Mittn pair # 7 came off her needles. She is now an official member of Overachievers R Us!

Members of the NAS (Native American Support) group are already working on the next challenge--to fill a box approximately 1 cubic foot (12X12X12) with warm woolies for the Reservation.

Will you join us? Here's how:

Get a box. Any box.

Start knitting warm things.

Fill up the box.


I'm sure you can find a place to give your warm woolies. The Reservation is happy for them, as is Covenant House in NOLA or a charity local to you.

Deadline is December 1.


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