Friday, October 31, 2008

A Family of Classics

and miles of mind-sucking stockinette and garter stitch.

I decided to go easy on myself this Christmas um Solstice Winter Holiday season and stick with classics.

I already sorta showed the neutralish sweaters for the bigger folks, that's the camel Puno Cobblestone (sleeves finished, body started) and a mahogany mix Ultra Alpaca top-down wrap cardigan (body nearly finished, sleeves and edging to go) over there on the left.

But what's this? What is this ridge-y blue addition to the picture?

Why, it's a Tomten for the Tiny Prince! I'm using the Brown Sheep Lambs Pride Superwash Bulky that his mom and I selected Before He Was Even Born for a bunting (project abandoned due to car seat safety issues). There are contrast colors to add in, though it is a very rich shade of Navy and lovely on its own.

It's just. . .how many miles of plain knitting can I do before my head explodes?

The saving grace is that I had to do a little mental work as I downsized (or is it upsized?) the gauge on this Zimmermann classic (do an image Google search for wonderful photos by other knitters) from the 5 stitches/inch called for in the original to 3.5 stitches/inch that the Lambs Pride dictates.

In simple terms, what that means is I cast on 80 rather than 112 to get the approximately 24" that I want for the finished size (fudged a little to get a number divisible by 8, and I'll be adding a narrow button band).

In order to maintain the proportions of the jacket, I will knit 28 ridges (nearly 4500 plain knit stitches) before separating for the armholes. After that, I'll follow EZ's recipe to finish.

Whether there will be a collar or a hood will depend on how far my yarn goes. There should be plenty to finish it either way. Or I might use the excess to make an earflap cap. I would count on the thicker yarn to do the math for me.

Sparky isn't thrilled that the weather is changing. It's been downright cold in the mornings and there is very little warm sunshine in the afternoon when she'd like to go outside and work on her yellow.

What's a girl to do, but snuggle up on a lap and nap? Or help with the knitting?

We're both wondering what our friends Way Down South (southern hemisphere) are doing and whether they'd like house guests.

We will entertain all invitations.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

You Asked For It!

Because Sheila wanted to know the extent of the Stash Enhancement eXperience that I confessed in yesterday's post, I present a sampling.

So, a sampling is in the photo, but the spread sheet does not lie (and I have been knitting from these acquisitions, too!)

Here's what's new: Sort of from the left, Cherry Tree Hill Possum Lace (2), Summer Sock (3) and Orenberg Lace (just 1), Encore DK (4 each of 3 colors), and worsted (5 or so of a couple colors), Red Heart Baby Soft (3--almost a pound, they are big skeins), a bunch of Di-ve Zenith (12 balls total), Adriafil Knitcol )4 of those), and Fibranatura Baby Merino (the stuff the Growly sweater was knit from) in an array of baby shades (9 balls), some Dale Free Style (6) and Baby Ull (18), LB Magic Stripes (4 of those, planned for a sweater--Johnny at the Berroco site), Nashua Wooly Stripes (5), Rowan Magpie (10 in a very dark, dark navy--Janice gets these if I die before I can knit them up), the Puno and Ultra Alpaca for the current sweaters, and the Full Bag Lots: Elann Superwash Bamboo (seconds) in Eggplant and Cedar, and Ironstone Herb Garden (2 bags each).

Seeing the current state of the economy, I am really glad that I stocked up when I did! Otherwise, the next 5 to 10 years would be bleak indeed, knit-wise!

I am thinking that I might get rid of or use up the Online Linie Summertime. Picture of it knit up here. I have a full bag of grenadine (orangey-red) nearly full bag of marine (navy blue) and several balls of yellow.

I'll entertain suggestions in the comments.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Shifting Into Neutral

It's time for me to shift into panic mode again! The winter holidays approach no matter what I do to stop them, and so, I have begun the Holiday Knitting.

In our family, the "holiday" starts early with the Tiny Prince's birthday (November 16), followed quickly by The Birthday of His Dadadada (November 25). I try hard to make a Birthday Sweater for the Boy (and now his Son, the TP TM).

Fortunately, the Tiny Prince's Birthday Sweater was a fair entry, so it's done ::whew:: (Are you still here?)

I started the Older Kid's sweater a couple of days ago using the Cobblestone Pullover pattern (IK Fall 2007) by Jared Flood. I'm using Filatura Lanorota Puno (100% alpaca) in the camel heather colorway. Decided to knit the sleeves first, and I'm knitting them intermittently so that both will be finished at pretty much the same time and then I can cast on and knit the body, join the sleeves in and might actually finish in time (but don't hold your breath).

The other item in my bag basket of tricks is the Daughter-In-Law's Christmas sweater. This one's top down, a Knitting Pure and Simple cardigan (#263). I'm using Berroco Ultra Alpaca (50/50 alpaca/wool blend)in the mahogany mix colorway.

By way of yarn review: These two yarns are a pleasure to knit. Various websites assure me that alpaca is not prone to pilling (which is a relief). I have concerns about memory, though.

And on a whole different subject:

I have some plans to get healthy.

I can no longer stand the flab. I have a closet full of beautiful, serviceable clothing that will look and fit so much better with toned muscles.

So, I've started a tiny little lifting program.

Left to right: 1/2 pound ankle and wrist weights (I say, why bother?), 3 pound and 5 pound dumbbells.

I'm on the 3 pound ones now, working my way up. Will need to buy a heavier pair in a month or so.

My guide is this book that I got for 50 cents at a library book sale last spring. There's a website, too, that I discovered when I went looking for the book on-line so that I could link. Must check that out!

Anyway, this disclosure is by way of Keeping Me Honest. (You all know how that works, right?)

Keeping me honest Yarn Diet-wise: Take a look at the sidebar! (I'd be ashamed if I weren't so proud!)

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What We Have In Common

Here's what I have in common with Joe the Plumber:

I don't have a plumber's license either.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

A Variation On a Theme

I had a bunch of natural dishcloth cotton that I dyed with sassafras (see information on how I accomplished that here and here). It's a muddy beige color now and will probably fade with washing, but it seemed like reasonable stuff for experimentation.
Here's the pattern:

This bib is garter stitch (knit every row)

Cast on 20 stitches and knit one row.

Increase row, and every RS row: Knit 1 stitch, increase in next stitch, knit to second stitch from the end, increase in that stitch, knit 1 stitch.

WS: knit.

Repeat these 2 rows until there are 40 stitches on the needle (10 ridges, 20 rows completed) , knit even (no more increases) until there are 34 ridges (68 rows) total from the cast on edge.

Next RS row: Knit across 16 stitches. Bind off 8 stitches. Knit to the end of the row. Turn.

Decrease row, first side WS: Knit to the last 3 stitches (of the 16 before the bind off). Knit 2 together, knit 1.

RS: knit.

Repeat the last 2 rows until 10 stitches remain. Knit 6 rows even (3 ridges). Bind off in knit on WS. Cut yarn.

Join yarn at the neck edge of the second side.

Decrease row, second side WS: Knit 1, knit 2 together, knit to end of row.

RS: knit.

Repeat these 2 rows until 10 stitches remain. Knit 12 rows even (6 ridges).

Short row curve:

Next row (RS): knit 9 stitches. Turn, knit back.

Next row (RS): knit 8 stitches. Turn, knit back.

Continue in this way, working one less stitch each RS row and making a wedge that leans toward the neck edge until all stitches are worked. Knit across all 10 stitches.

Knit even for 12 rows (6 ridges) then repeat the Short Row Curve section.

Knit 16 rows (8 ridges) even.

Make a buttonhole: (RS) knit 4, bind off 2, knit 4. Turn (WS) Knit 4, cast on 2 (I used e-wrap cast on), knit 2.

Knit 4 rows (2 ridges) even.

Next (decrease) row (RS): Knit 1, knit 2 together, knit 4, knit 2 together, knit 1.

Knit 1 row.

Bind off (I bound off in purl).

Weave in all the ends. Sew on a cute button.

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oh, Baby!

Isn't this a cute sew-in?

It came from Button Drawer where I get all the cute buttons that I sew on stuff, and now, these labels, plus some equally adorable ones for sewing into the Tiny Prince's stuff, because, lord knows, he's not a baby any more ::sniff::.

The new baby in the very extended family is the Tiny Prince's soon-to-be First Ever First Cousin, hypthetical (but only for the mo') baby son of the Not-So-New Daughter-In-Law's Baby Brother and his Nearly-New Wife.

(Are you still with me?)

Here's what I sewed that label onto. Entrlac Afghan from Knitting for Babies and Kids (House of White Birches) in Superwash Worsted.

And here is a gratuitous review of the yarn: it sucks! Okay, not completely, but. . .

It is machine washable. It came out of the wash all pilly and covered with linty blobs which I guess I should have expected from a first run through when the knitted FO is made up of multi-colors of light and dark. Why, oh, why do the dark linty bits wind up on the light squares and vice versa? Karma? Murphy? You be the judge.

It's soft. It's warm. It's nicer to knit than Red Heart. Is that "damning with faint praise?"

I like superwash for baby and kid things. I have lots, so I'll continue to use it, but what a disappointment after all that work garter stitch.

And speaking of light lint on dark. . .

A bit ago, I looked over to my right and saw

No wonder there's cat hair all over my clothes. . .

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And They're Off!

I stopped at the post office this afternoon and mailed 8 packages.

If you won a prize in the Mittn Challenge, I'd appreciate a comment (or email) when your package gets to you.


And thanks again to everyone who participated in this year's Challenge. You are the best!


Officially Over

Mittnz 2008 is Officially Over.

All Mittnz have been mailed and the last prize has been awarded.

Jean G (designer of the snowman mittens that so many of you have knitted up) will receive Knit Baby Blankets!and some wooly goodness (okay, some cottony goodness, but it's still nice Mittn "wool").

Next up: Birthday and Christmas knitting and the finishing (and mailing) of the baby blankie, and 2 more baby gifties, and maybe, just maybe, a sweater or so for me!

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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Last Winner Still MIA

I am still waiting to hear from the winner of Challenge Prize # 8, but for the sake of my sanity, I need to get this stuff Out Of My Studio! and Off to the Winners!

So, without Further Ado:

Linda H wins Knit Baby Blankets and some surprise wooly stuff

Judy S gets Knit Mittens! and some soft squishies

Cherri will receive Folk Mittens and something besides

Marla's going to knit up a storm from Easy Baby Knits

I hope Kathy and Betty enjoy Hip Knits

and last, (or secomd last) but not least:

Jean C gets a copy of Merino Knits (and some merino)

Now if our last winner would just check in. . .


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Actual Knitting Took Place

I recently ordered (and received) both Mason-Dixon Knitting books. (Am I repeating myself? If so, sorry)

Since I am working on a baby gift for a new-coming member of the widely extended family (Older Son's brother-in-law and his wife), I went out and got some boy-appropriate colors of Sugar 'n' Cream and cast on.

The Mason-Dixon Baby Bib o' LoveTM jumped right onto my needles!

Solid blue (I think the color is "light blue") and a big honkin' green button. Size 5 needles.

Followed the pattern to the letter.

Then, I got to thinkin'

(Uh, oh, they all sigh.)

So I tried a little Variation On a Theme.

Blue/tan/white variegated. Big honkin' blue button.

Followed the pattern until I got to the strappy parts.

Then, I knit across 13, cast off the center stitches until there were 13 stitches left on my left needle. I knit to the end *(WS)turned and knit back on the strap stitches, turned, (RS) knit 1, knit 2 together, knit to the end**. Repeat from * to ** twice more, knit even on 10 stitches to 4" in length from the cast off row.

I repeated on the other side, except that the decreases were done one stitch from the neck edge on the wrong side.

I was so pleased with the result that I tried Yet Another Variation On a Theme.

Another variegated, this time shades of blue. Big honkin' yellow button.

This time, I cast on 20 fewer stitches than the pattern calls for. On each RS row, I increased 1 stitch on each edge until I was at the cast on number called for in the pattern then followed the pattern as written.

I used an e-wrap increase which makes a very distinct right- and wrong-side.

I am still refining these variations. Stay tuned!

And 'tis the season to be spreading holiday cheer to the troops!

The pattern for these cute little Christmas stockings is available at Jean Greenhowe's site. It's free and there are lots of variations.

Each stocking uses about 5 or so grams of yarn (DK weight) and something for trim (optional).

I'll keep making these until I run out of the appropriate colors or until the November mailing period for Ship Support.

And because it's getting cold Over There, and because the med-evac units need warm supplies for the patients year-round, and because cheerful is better when you are hurt or sick

Oh what the hey! I like working with these colors!

Red Heart Strata (100% nasty acrylic that softens up in the wash), color Pinball. 90 stitches on size 7 needles.

Got it at Smiley's.

And now, the Other Half and I are off to a used book sale. If there's anything worth reporting, I'll post an update.

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

No Knitting Content

There'll be knitting stuff tomorrow (assuming I survive, but that's another story).

Okay, so I was noodling around google (nevermind what I was looking for) and stumbled onto this (and if you think getting back there was easy, think again).

Having raised two high school athletes, I thought I was up on my sports regs. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that skates are required footgear for ice hockey and that, while shoes are required for most sports, it seems both basketball and field hockey can be played barefoot!

And it appears that only baseball players may wear Underoos beneath their uniforms!

You learn something new every day!


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Not Being Coy

As soon as I hear from the last Mittnz Challenge winner, I will be posting names and prizes. I think that's important, but not without being sure that the people whose names were pulled don't refuse their prizes. (It could happen!)


Sunday, October 05, 2008

And the Winners Are

Of course, the real winners are the recipients of:

1003 pairs of mittens/gloves/wristers (includes 81 pairs mailed in October)
234 hats
48 prs. booties/socks/slippers
17 sweatshirts/sweaters
1 vest
29 Scarves/neckwarmers
1 shawl/poncho

Thanks you to all who participated. That's a bunch of warm kids!

I suspect that many of my Loyal Readers (and Mittnz Makers) are anxious for me to get on with the last bit of business for the 2008 Challenge.

I quite scientifically and methodically collected all of your emails, photos, links, announcing that you made and mailed Mittnz.

Truth is, I dragged and dropped your emails to a folder I set up. If you wrote to me directly, posted to a list, or left a comment, I saved that email. If someone congratulated you on your total or in any other way indicated that she (there were no "hes" this time around) saw your post, I saved that email, too (on the off chance that I might have missed grabbing your own email).

Earlier this morning, I went through that folder and discarded duplicates (there were a few), because the Roolz said: one entry in the hat per Mittn Maker (or at least they should have, because that's the way this game is played--8 Mittnz, or 80 (yes, there were some!) it's still only one Mittn Maker).

Then I plugged the range (1-53) into

Random Integer Generator

and got this:

Here are your random numbers:

26 38 25 22
3 51 28 10

Timestamp: 2008-10-05 13:42:21 UTC

The folks whose names correspond to those numbers have been notified by email.

Here are the lovely prizes. Thanks to all who donated.

Watch this space for the names ofthe winners and the prizes chosen 'specially for them. (Because I suspect that many of us own the same knitting books, winners will be asked to "opt out" of books they already own.)

There will be another Mittn Challenge in 2009 with a goal of 9 pairs per Challenger.

Get your needles and wooly goodness ready and watch this space for the announcement.

Currently in progress: Blanket Challenge for the Reservation.


Saturday, October 04, 2008

What I Stepped in

Have I ever mentioned that we have been owned by cats forever? And that we are currently owned by one very pushy feline?

I thought that I might have written something about that here at some point. It's quite true, you know.

I probably have not mentioned that I usually (except when it is very, very cold, or I haven't washed the kitchen floor in a while, like now, OH!) tend to pad around the house in my bare feet.

This morning was no exception as I slid out of bed before dawn cracked (even on the weekend--something about circadian rhythm and just not being able to "sleep in" any more). But anyway. . .

I did my businesss performed my toilette (euphemism for "peed, brushed, took daily meds") this morning and (still) barefoot, trotted to the "studio" to sit and check the mail of e, and to knit a bit before the day gets underway when I stepped into something damp and squishy.

Not being inclined to get too freaked over things like this (see mention of old, grumpy, cat at the top of this page), I decided to wait until the sun was up before investigating and cleaning (we'll chalk that up to consideration for the dead to the world lump still sleeping Other Half, though the reality is, I just couldn't face what I might have to touch with my hands).

Imagine my surprise when I turned on the studio light to discover that the current (pinky toned) blankie had fallen from its perch and some (not many) of the live stitches were frogged (and not by me).

I followed the trail of the yarn that was (fortunately) still attached to discover:

Former center-pull ball, now damp, tangled mass of yarn.

What a relief to realize that I don't have to clean the bedroom carpet!

And I planned to wash the blankie before giving it away anyway.

(Note: Sparky the Bob-Tailed Wonder Cat does not usually steal yarn. This stuff has been the exception that proves the rule.)

Prizes!!! Did somebody say prizes? I will be photographing the Mittnz prizes (after the Penn State game) and pulling names for 8 fabulous fiber gifts. If you haven't yet reported your Mittnz shipment this is your absolute last chance to get in on the prizes. Midnight EST Saturday, October 4!

Email me: abmcmanus ::at:: verizon ::dot:: com --picture if you took one, or your best description of the 8 (or more) pairs you mailed, or a link to a photo.

I'll be posting the total and the prize winners this weekend.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

The Rest of the Ball

There was some Cottontots left from the petal bib, so I made another.

I like the basic idea in Mason-Dixon Knitting (which I just acquired, along with the second one by Ann and Kay from books, btw!), but I was afraid I would run out of yarn before I finished.

Turns out, I had pleanty and now have a small ball left over. Rats!

I started with 20 stitches (instead of 40) and increased one stitch each side (I used M1, but I have other ideas for the next one) until I had 40, then continued knitting even to the dimensions in M-D. I followed the instructions for the straps and button hole and sewed on another terrific button.

Here's another shot of the bib. Sometimes flat is better.

I have some ideas for variations, and I need a little something to travel with el and the entrelac blankie. I'm thinking that some manly looking bibs would be a perfect tuck-in.

Now to find some Cottontots in camo!

(The prototype (and the petal version) are for a baby girl. The next ones will be for little boys.)


Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Debra's been out of touch, Internet-wise, but as soon as she got back on line, she sent me this photo of the Mittnz she sent to the reservation.

It's never too late to knit (or sew or crochet) and mail, but time is running out to get in on this year's challenge.

If you've finished your Mittnz and plan to mail before the weekend is over, shoot me a picture now!

Ruth made these. Aren't they just colorful!?

And cozy looking??

Shoot that picture of your Mittnz to me:

abmcmanus *at* verizon *dot* net

(That really fools the harvesters!)


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