Sunday, December 31, 2006

Looking Back at My To-Do List for 2006

Dear Blog-

Ok, after I took breakfast to DH at the farmer's market (Sausage McMuffin with egg and hashbrowns, all of which is at one and the same time really gross, and pretty darned yummy), I came home and had my own breakfast, attacked the house, lounged about, etc. In general, everything except to come back here and show you what I had meant to do over this last year.

Here is my list:
*Cabled jacket from Debbie Bliss Cashmere Collection - done!
*Three pairs of lightweight wool socks. Ok, one down, two more to go. The problem is that I HATE knitting socks on little teeny yarn and little teeny needles. Very tedious. Love them with worsted, hate them with sock yarn. But they are my waiting room project, so I plug along on them.
*Felted bag with brown Noro. I'm thinking that must have been the one I did for my cousin last year.
*Ribbed scarf in Paton's Classic Merino. Hmmm... Have to dig that out and use it.
*Many lace scarves. Well, I did one, have another on the needles. Designed and knit yet another. Does the Argosy scarf count? In that case I have done one of those and have yet another on the way.
*Crocheted Lacy Fans sweater. Have discovered that crochet now bothers my wrists in anything but short projects. Still, I'll move this on the the 2007 list. Maybe I can do it in stages.
*Sweater with blue yarn from vacation. This turned out to be the Barbizon jacket from Morehouse that I am wearing right now, that you may see the occasional sleeve edge of in photos.
*Entrelac Stole. Ahhh! Sigh. My beloved Lady Eleanor's Entrelac Stole from Scarf Style that I loved, loved, loved right up to the moment when my DH offered to sell it to someone right off my back at the farmer's market 6 weeks ago, for a largish sum. I ordered the yarn for the replacement from Discount Yarn Sales on November 13th, and I'm still waiting for it to show up. This does NOT make me happy.
*? with green vacation yarn. This became the Sakiori III vest I made for DH (I should sell the thing next time someone admires it at the market, except that then I'd have to make another one). I used Bartlett yarn, and while it is pretty yarn it feels like barbed wire, and the leftovers are consigned to the donation heap.
*Level II of Master Knitter program. Uh, have to send in my re-dos for Level I first.
*Nativity set from Alan Dart pattern. Haven't looked at it yet, but will move it to the next list.
*Advent calendar from same source. I actually made about 5 of these ornaments, and have vowed to make one a month for the next year and get them all made.
*Victorian Mice, same source. I've made two. Will make more this coming year.
*Couch pillows. Still looking for a pattern that grabs me by the sneakers.
*Afghan. Slowly one by one I am making one with mitered squares from Noro Transitions.
*Light green felted bowl. Done, and sold it at the market.
*Dark green felted bowl. I think this yarn still lurks in the yarn cabinet as I decided that I really didn't want to make a dark green felted bowl after all. Wait, no it became my felted Geranium Leaf bag design.
*Two bags of Olive dk, Simply Garter vest? What a nightmare THAT is! I cannot possibly get the gauge her pattern calls for. On ANY size needle. It was something crazy like 3 sts/inch on size 9's with dk weight wool. Yeah, right.
*Color on Color Scarf from Scarf Style. Love this scarf. Just haven't summoned up the courage to spend that much on yarn for a scarf.
*Felted clogs. Decided I really didn't want them. Instead have made felted slippers for both my sister and my aunt.
*Felted ornaments. That one got shuffled to the wayside. Perhaps next fall.
*Pearl Coat. Love this pattern from Morehouse, but have noticed that I am making lots of jackets, and no 'inside the house' type of sweaters. This will have to wait.
*Knit skirt. Forget what or where this pattern is. It will have to wait til my bum shrinks. Drape and my backside are not a good combination just at the moment.
*Kiri shawl. Not sure why, I don't like triangular shawls. They remind me of the 70s.
*rug. Still hunting for rug yarn. Why doesn't anyone sell rug yarn anymore?
*Kimono cardigan. See Pearl Coat, above.
*needle felted Kiwi for Lynn. Did that! Gave it to her for the 1st anniversary of Kiwi Knitting.
*Noro Transitions scarf. This one mutated into the afghan above.
*Bag for Uber Sis. Done and sent to her for her b-day.
*Dineh Blanket vest from Folk Vests. Did it, love it.
*Simply Garter Vest. See olive dk wool above.
*Guild Sampler vest. Did it. Maintain that the designer should be shot.
*Colour Your Own Philosopher's. In the process even as we speak.
*Tiger Lily jacket. I like it, but look like hell in orange. Maybe later.
*Dream Jacket from Dazzling Knits. This one is a must, I'll move it to the next list.

Well, I think I did pretty darned well considering that I also did a whole lot that didn't start out on the list for the year.

Things I did that didn't make it to the list:
*Moebius scarf that was Alisoned to my boss when her Dad died.
*Entrelac Felted bag by Lori Sweazy.
*Aran cropped lace cardi from Elan.
*Rabbit for an old friend's new baby. But DH claimed it, so
*Bear for old friend's new baby.
*Lace square for the guild afghan.
*Many felted bags.
*A host of felted bowls.
*Elements Shawl.
*Huck Lace Shawl by Morehouse.
*Felted bowl for my sister in law's b-day.
*Einstein coat.
*Felted pears and felted pumpkins.
*cat sweater.
*felted hats.
*two wrist warmer sets with patterns.
*many millions of mini Christmas stockings.
*Ditto of little mittens.
*sachet trio....

And there are probably a whole lot of things I'm not even remembering.

My UFO's are things that are kind of dead in the water for the moment. I'm working on my PW CYO, so that could be called a work in progress rather than a UFO. Ditto the Argosy and the Scherezade shawl. So that leaves only my wrap sweater from Kidsilk Haze, my second one of the Elizabeth scarves, and THAT IS IT!!! Oh, and finishing my teeny amount of re-dos for the MK Level I.

I'm going to go away now, and come back later to put links in. I think.

Twins! I Have Twins! Uh, But They're NOT Identical...


Dear Blog-

Well, as I promised, here are the sleeves of my Philosopher's Wool Colour Your Own. I was very, very pleased with myself. Until, that is, I saw that although they may be twins, they are NOT identical. Hmmm... Then I decided, Hell, just get over it. They'll be on opposite sides of my body.

Now mind you, if I had seen the flaw while it was still on the needles I would have gone back and fixed it. And I know I still could. Don't know that I will, though. I'll think about it while I am working on the sweater body.


So last night I made my pockets while the sleeves blocked, and this morning I'll get my gauge measurement from them (the sleeves, that is), and then cast on for the sweater today. As I said yesterday, I don't want the idea of working on the sweater body to loom so large that I never get started with it, and I think the more time that passes before I get going, the larger it is going to loom.

Once I finished my pockets, I worked the second Argosy scarf til I had hit the halfway mark and finished the first ball of the SGL. I love how this is coming out, I really, really like this pattern and the yarn is stirring up little design thoughts in the back of my head that will spring forth fully developed at some point very soon, I feel. The drape of this yarn is just so gorgeous. I can see this pattern being my default gift for a whole lot of people this year. You'll notice that the Argosy scarf is living in the new bamboo root basket for the nonce.

Well, I had serious goo issues with my lungs the past few days. By yesterday morning I was very much in fear that I was getting pneumonia again. The winter before last I spent about three and a half months with first flu, then ten days in bed with yucky pneumonia, then two weeks later with bronchitis, then two weeks after that pneumonia again. As you can imagine, I really, really, really don't want to go there again. And apparently this is an issue with chronic asthma and respiratory infections. So do us all a favor, when you have a cold or the flu, stay home.

Anyway, I digress. I spent the morning yesterday with lots of hot fluids and lots of work with my little lung work-out thingee and by the afternoon I was breathing a lot easier and things were on the move, so to speak. My peak flow is better this morning and my lungs are clearing out. But DH felt that I really don't need to be out in the damp 38 degrees this morning for 4 hours at the farmer's market, and to tell you the truth, I have to agree with him on that one. He promises to ask the cat sweater lady to bring the sweater by next week so that I can have about ten minutes with it to write down what I did when in the pattern, and then I can add it to my pattern page.

Sooo... all this to say, that because I always think of this day of the year as one for reflection on the year past, and I have all morning to do this with, I think I will do a Year in Review of all my knitting projects for 2006. I think it will be fun to look back on my list of things that I wanted to do for the year, and see how much I have done, what I haven't done, what I would move to next year's wish list, and what I would leave off at this point.

I also want to write up a free pattern and one of my favorite baking recipes as a gift to you and have DH post the pattern for me to the pattern pages when he returns this afternoon.

So, I will go fetch breakfast for DH and drop it off at the market for him, and then I'll be back to show all that to you.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Look What the Knitting Fairy Brought!

Dear Blog-

I told you yesterday that I would show you what I got for Christmas, so here I am. I guess by now all my family know that I am A Woman Obsessed, so they just enable me with things relating to knitting.

First, a couple of weeks before Christmas, my parents gave me money as my gift, and I hot-footed it to work where I picked up the Denise pink needle set that I had been lusting after. I already have a blue set and love them, but because of what I went through in November I have a greater understanding what women who have breast cancer must experience - though I was very lucky and had a negative biopsy and so only saw the tip of the iceberg. But the thought that these needles were meant especially as a sign of support for breast cancer research meant that I had to have them. Then I thought about all those times when you really do need two needles of the same size on the same project at the same time, and I was doubly glad I had them. I then took all my Clover bamboo circs and put them up for sale on ebay (thank you ever so much if anyone here bought them, I really am appreciative) and with the money I made from the sale, turned around and gave it all to DH as HIS Christmas gift of a new computer desk. He has been using a wooden table for this for the past five years, I figure for all the wonderful things he does he sure deserves a real computer desk. And he bought me this gorgeous oak roll-top desk that I sit at now as a gift for our first Christmas together. So the gift from my parents was the gift that kept on giving!

Once I did that, he complained that he really didn't have any idea what to get me. I thought a minute and realized that I can always find things at the LYS where I work that would make me pretty darned happy as gifts, so in his name I picked out the gorgeous little Lantern Moon basket you see here, as well as a black sheep tape measure (that I have named 'Blackie', because I really am that original) and also the final pair of 12" Addi circs that I needed to make up the whole set of 12"ers. I really love those puppies, tho in general I really, really don't like Addi turbos. I did order some Addi Naturas to try on my Scheherazade Shawl, as I still haven't found the right needles for that yet. I should also mention that he got me a sweater shaver set with a large and a small lint shaver It is the very first of it's kind that I have ever found that actually works! And they work great! I have been shaving every woolly thing I have seen since. Also in this picture is the set of Lantern Moon rosewood circs that my LYSO boss gave me for Christmas.

And my eldest sister (also sometimes known as Uber Sis aka KnitWit RN) made this lovely felted bag for me as my gift. Even after she read my blog and saw what I had made for her! I love it, love the colors and moved all my things into it the day after Christmas and have been using it happily ever since. It was much admired in the salon when I went to get my hair cut this week.

Finally, my other sister and her partner gave me $$$ that were earmarked for use at Morehouse Farms, where I ordered the Algonquin Cardigan KnitKit in Natural Chocolate brown, olive bulky yarn to make one of their cowls with (my ears get awfully cold at the farmer's market) and one of their color sample books. Because I am planning to make a whole lot more things with their yarn in the future. I gave up using cheap yarn after my first project, and since then I have used nothing but nice wools and alpacas. But now I have decided I want to use really nice wool. Damn the torpedoes!

And just as great, Dear Blog, is that I finished the second sleeve of my PW CYO this afternoon, and they are over there --> blocking together even as we speak. I'll show them to you when they are finished blocking. I had thought I would catch up on a couple of other things before starting the body of the sweater, but am starting to see that I need to cast on the body right away and get started on it.

So off I go to flip through the PW book, and then cast on. Perhaps make my pockets first.


Friday, December 29, 2006

Oh Boy!

Dear Blog-

Christmas is finally over! The humiliating cat sweater project is finished! I have at last finished re-formating and organizing 17 patterns in my word-processing program, changed them all into Word documents, and from there into pdf files!

I'll take one story at a time. Last Friday, the 22nd, I had to go to the LYS to play Knit Dr in the morning, and then left there to run out and finish up my shopping. When I walked out of the last store I felt like I had really accomplished something and that I was that far ahead of the rest of the world. The traffic was awful last week! And I really, really didn't want to be out shopping on Saturday, I figured that was pretty masochistic. Then like magic, the appointment I was supposed to have on Saturday morning rescheduled, so I actually had the day free to get some final things out of the way. DH went out to do his Christmas shopping (the stuff I hadn't already done for him at the LYS) and I had a nice peaceful day at home. I was in the midst of re-doing all my pattern files so I also re-took a lot of the pictures and spent a whole lot of time arranging things, taking the photos, running over here to the computer to see which photos worked, and then setting up the next pictures. I did get most of them done, and took the last two yesterday. Also, my order of Silk Garden Lite for the second Argosy arrived, and I just had to start that, as I finished the first Argosy the day before.

Sunday was the farmer's market, and yes, in spite of the cold and that it was Christmas eve, people did come out and shop. It was too danged cold for me, tho, and I came home and got dinner started and also began my second sleeve for the PW CYO.

We had a lovely day with my Mom on Christmas, my Dad was too sick to put in an appearance and spent the day sleeping. He has Meneire's (sp? too lazy to go look it up) and gets horrible spells of vertigo that last for days. After brunch we hung out with Mom for a bit and then came home and relaxed with our books and my knitting. In his travels on Saturday DH got a thistle feeder for the birds, and as we sat there Sunday afternoon, he said, Look! The whole tree is filled with little yellow birds! We had three pair of goldfinches in feeding all at once, and that was pretty darned cool. I knew we had a pair as I had seen them from time to time over the summer in the back yard, but it never occured to me that we had more than that. How lovely.

It was back to the grind for both of us on Tuesday, I went for my last day working at the LYS, and he back to work, only to be sent home early as they were really slow at work. We were pretty danged busy at the shop, but not crazy. She made a mistake on the ad in the paper, and listed the sale as starting on Thursday instead of Tuesday. So right there, that tells you that there is a God, and he didn't want Lynda to have a crazy day at work like she did last week.

Wednesday I went and got a hair cut, ran errands, exchanged something I got DH for Christmas, and somehow ended up buying myself two jewelry boxes at 60% off. I started putting things in them and realized that I have things I haven't taken out and looked at in ages. It was like Christmas all over again.

Yesterday I had the free time to finish with all the formatting of the pattern files and ordered from Morehouse Farms, and here we are, waiting til I can eat breakfast, and then after I'll take my Mom out shopping for the day. We had proper winter-in-the-desert weather yesterday, very cold and rainy, and I know when the clouds clear off the mountains today that they will be covered with snow. This will definitely be a day for wearing the woolies.

So after I finished the first PW sleeve last week I decided that I really had to knuckle down and get the cat sweater done so that she could have it on Sunday when we saw her at the market. It really only took me a day to finish it, but as I told DH, it took enough hours that you really can't charge a decent hourly rate for the knitting, because no one is going to pay $150 for a cat sweater. So that will be my one and only knitted cat sweater and a lesson learned. Mark it down in the history books. But for what it was, it came out well. I didn't get to see the cat's Mom on Sunday as she came after I left, but I did get a call later that afternoon telling me how much he loved his sweater and that it was a perfect fit. So that ended well. I took this photo Saturday morning in my photo frenzy, and meant to take another when the light was better, but forgot. But you can see what it ended up like.

So while I was at it, I also finished off the Argosy Scarf from the latest Knitty, in the Silk Garden. I blocked it on Sunday, and here it is -

I do like the finished scarf, tho I think I will like it in SGL in the original colorway better. In fact, I have this one around my neck right now and will wear it today out and about. The SGL scarf that I just started is a bit lighter weight of course with a nicer drape and the colors are gorgeous.

I am also so close to finishing my second PW CYO sleeve that I should be done either tonight or Saturday at the latest, so I can block them on Sunday, and dive into the body of the sweater.

But you know that I have been in the process of putting some of my patterns up on a web page, and so I sat down and looked at all the patterns I have on the computer. My word processing program is Lotus Wordpro, which I realize is ancient and probably not cool, but I have been using it for years and know my way around by now. So I went through all my pattern files and made them somewhat uniform - pattern name on each page, logo and copyright info on each page, making sure that the photo was on page one, in some cases taking a photo if it was an old pattern and I didn't have one there, or retaking the photo if I had figured out a better way to stage it. With about 17 patterns, it took me a few days to do that. Then each one had to be saved into Word, which decided yesterday that it wanted to reformat all my pages, so I had to change them again once they were in Word, and then from Word into pdf files. Then I sat down and wrote up a short blurb on each pattern, noted down the photo # with each blurb for DH, and when he got home from work I just stepped aside, cooked a good dinner, and let him spend the evening (God bless him!) putting them all into seperate pages on the website and putting the Buy Now buttons on each page. So you have to go look, if only to admire what the website looks like. It needs a couple of small tweaks, but I am really pretty darned pleased with the work he did putting it all together. I still have several bag patterns that I did for myself that I realized should really be written up into patterns, I hope to get those done in the coming week, at the latest.

Well, time to go get ready to take Mom out shopping. I'll have to tell you tomorrow all about my knitting-related Xmas gifts.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

You know you're a knitter when 'shaving under your arms' means that your sweater is pilling. And comments on Comments...

Dear Blog-

I am finally having to face what the painful reality of being a Yarn Ho is. Sure, there are probably lots of women out there who think of themselves as Yarn Hos, but until you find yourself knitting a sweater for a cat for money, trust me, you don't have a clue what being a Yarn Ho really is. They say that every addict hits their bottom eventually, and sadly enough, I have hit mine.

I do something stupid like this about once a year. Last year at this time it was knitting a very unpleasant scarf of lime green mixed with fuzzy stuff for the very nice woman who helps run the farmer's market to give to her sister for Christmas. I don't remember what she paid me, but it wasn't enough to make up for the excrutiating boredom of garter stitch scarves, combined with the pain of humiliation inherent in knitting with fluffy stuff. The year before that I knit one for her in pink fluffy and pink sparkly stuff. Please God, let me have learned my lesson and can we move on?

The cat sweater is compounded by the fact that I am having to make this up as I go along. Not too terrible, but every measurement I need at any given point is not among the measurements I have at hand, and it took several days to hear back from her with my last questions. The upside is that it is A) small and should be over soon, B) made with alpaca, and C) knit on bigger needles and should be over soon. But my pain will soon be over and I can go back to working on my second sleeve of the PW to soothe my shattered nerves.


Speaking of shattered nerves, last night at about 8:30, DH requested that I bake something for him to take in to work 'before Friday'. Today being the only day after last night at 8:30 pm and before Friday, it was kind of down to a time crunch. It reminded me of the classic mother's complaint about the kid who tells his mother the night before he is supposed to bring the cupcakes in to class. However, my DH asks me for very, very little, and I ask him for a lot, so I am happy to do this for him, and pleased that he wanted something I baked. I am a danged good baker, I must say.

I was planning a trip to the grocery store today anyway (shattered nerves part coming up), but OMG! Just as God put every barking mad person in Tucson in a car yesterday and sent them out on the roads, today he sent them all to the same grocery store that I was going to. I swear people wander around in the store like they are in one of those Dawn of the Dead movies. Zombies! All of them! Staggering about aimlessly with glazed eyes. Do any of them know where they are going? Do any of them have a CLUE what they need in the store, or where to find it? How do these people feed themselves the rest of the year if they can't find a blessed thing in the store, ever?

But I survived (without a couple of things I couldn't find) and here I am, working on the cat sweater, working on the blog, and working up the energy to go do some baking.

Also, I have to tell you that I really appreciate and enjoy all of your comments. It gives me a little thrill to see the hit counter go up each time I look at my blog. Look! Someone actually wants to read what I write! I am not sure how to reply to individual comments and questions as blogger doesn't give you that option, everything comes to me with an addy of, and I would like to keep any replies separate from the blog, just to keep things moving. If in future you have questions, please, please put a return email addy in your comment. I promise not to publish your email addy, but it would give me a way to get back to you. Also, please do leave your name or nom de plume. Anonymous comments probably always have the best of intentions, but seem rather cloak and dagger, and makes me wonder why you don't want me to know who you are. I won't publish any anonymous comments, although I haven't received any that weren't pleasant, please have the courage of your convictions and leave your name. :-)

To Marie- The felted hat pattern is my own, so if you have tried one that was similar and didn't work, it wasn't mine. I'd be happy to help you if you would send me an email. I think I found a way to track down your email this morning, but I'm not certain.

Karen (and a couple of others who have asked) - I am in the process of converting my pattern files to pdf files and then I will put them up on the patterns for sale page. I believe that so far all the patterns will sell for $5, and there will be a Paypal button on each pattern page that lets you order the download right away. In the meantime, you can send the $5 and the name of the pattern (or what it is) through Paypal to and I will be happy to send you the pattern sooner. And thanks for the hint that I need to put in my contact info on that page, I really appreciate that, it was one of those no-brainers that get forgotten.

Anonymous - The cactus shown are indeed Thanksgiving cactus. Christmas cactus have a smooth-edged, scalloped leaf, T-day cactus have the leaf with the serrations. They are indeed very similar, but I haven't seen a true Christmas cactus for sale in centuries, they are all T-day cactus labeled as Xmas. Schlumbergia truncata (aka crab cactus) is the T-day, S.buckleyi is the Christmas one.

And to those nice people who commented on my sweater sleeve - thanks so much, I love it. I don't mean to seem immodest, to me it is more the work of the Knitting Gods and the designer, I am just so tickled that I am doing this. I can't wait til I have an entire sweater!

Ok, DH just called to say he is on his way home from work. Time to go put on the dress, the starched organdy apron and the pearls. No, I really AM kidding.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One sleeve done, and some blooms

Dear Blog-

Good morning on this cold, frosty December morning. I am in the habit of turning the heat way down before going to bed, because I like to sleep in a cold room in a bed with flannel sheets and a big fluffy down comforter, but the flip side to that is that when you get up in the morning, the house is danged cold and it takes it a while to warm up. Especially in this room and in the LR with the high ceiling, lots of windows, and only a little air exchange vent at the far end of the room. However, I dragged the little space heater down and plugged in here next to me, and it has really warmed the room up nicely.

Some things in this house that really do love the cold nights are my Thanksgiving cactus. I have them in the front window where they get northern light and can experience the cold. It is this combination that is so perfect in getting them to bud. They are just starting to get into full swing, so I took some pictures for you. I love this orange, it is a new one, and just covered with buds. Our friend Joe the cactus guy at the farmer's market tracked it down for me, and brought it to the market last Sunday.

This fuschia pink blooms like crazy once it gets going. These will continuously bloom all through the winter. You can see a little bit of the red one in the background.

This is a very pale pink that is so lovely when it is in bloom.

And a photo from outside the window (NOT taken this morning, thank you very much!) that shows the blooms a bit better. You can see the reflection of my car peeking around the corner of the bush.

But as exciting as all that is, the great thing is that I finished my CYO sleeve last night! This took me 4 days to do, and could really be counted as three days since I didn't do much work on it on Monday. I am planning to start the second sleeve today, as soon as I get home from all the things I have to do. I wanted so much to block this this morning, but on the other hand, I would really prefer to block both sleeves at the same time. So I stuck one hand in to roll back the top edge a little so that you can see the final bit at the very top.
Yes, sitting on the couch last nite I did slip it on my arm and show off my new sleeve to my husband, who already thinks I'm nuts, but loves me anyway. I am really astounded at how easy this is to do, and how quickly it goes. Of course, part of the reason for the speed is that I have been so interested in what each new section would look like that I can't seem to put it down. It doesn't look it in the photo, but it is 19" long, and I know it will block out a bit longer than that, anyway. I have longish arms and I hate sleeves that are too short.

I do have a couple areas where I differ with their design choices. If you look at their website, all the models seems to be swimming in their sweaters, the darn things are so huge. As I said I cut the 52 st. cast on for the cuff down to 40 sts and still could have reduced it a pinch more. Looking through their book tells me that they intend their sweaters to have 10 - 16 inches of ease! Whew! You could hide a whole nother person inside there! So I will be cutting down on the amount of ease a good bit.

So I asked DH if he would like a sweater or a vest done like this, and he decided that yeah, maybe he did. Last night I had him look through the PW book and pick out a colorway, next I'll have him choose a pattern, and then perhaps in February I'll order the kit. He asked me if I could make it with zip-on sleeves, and I replied with a flat No! The problem is that he does get too warm, and if he can convert it to a vest when he needs to, it will be more practical for him. But can you imagine trying to put separating zippers into that puppy and having ANYTHING line up! Let alone the nightmare of sewing them in? But on further consideration I allowed that I would be willing to make button-in sleeves.

I really have to work on the danged cat sweater, but DH has the clipboard with all the measurements in his car, so I will have to wait on that til he gets home anyway. Hmmm... perhaps I should pay some attention to the SS one of these days, too.

Ok, blog, off to get some things done, talk to you later!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Progress on PW CYO, and the Hat Saga

Dear Blog-

So I told you about how I started the Scheherazade shawl (hereafter known as SS), and then realized that it wasn't knitting suitable for evenings in front of the tv. So I relegated it to daytime knitting, and started on the other project I had been lusting after - the Philosopher's Wool Colour Your Own in Ocean Spray. It was a long road to starting this project. This yarn is processed in such a way that the lanolin is left in as much as possible. Unfortunately, along with a million other things, I'm allergic to lanolin. The instant it is anywhere near me (not even on my skin) my face starts itching, I start coughing, my mouth itches - not good things. And so I have to wash out the lanolin. This requires a sink full of hot water, a bit of Dawn (recommended method of Eugene of PW) and for me a face mask and gloves, the exhaust fan howling away and the windows open. Then I have to leave the house while it all soaks, come back and drain the sink, rinse the yarn, and hot water with Dawn again until the yarn rinses clean, each time leaving the house.Scrub the sink when I am finished, before putting any plates, etc in there to wash. Next I have to hang the yarn outside to dry, which means that it can't be a windy day or it will get the pollens on that I am also allergic to. In other words, the whole process becomes a big PITA, and I can only wash 2 skeins at a time this way. So about a month ago I had a brainstorm, and asked the woman in our guild who sponsors PW to come here every 2 years for a workshop, if she would be kind enough to wash my yarns for me so that I could start my CYO. Many thanks to Connie Mallette, I soon had nicely washed yarns that as soon as I got them home were twirled up into balls and ready to go.

So about a week ago I cast on for the cuff of the first sleeve, was knitting away on my 12" circ, and soon found that after enough of the fabric had come away from the needle it was going to make a HUGE cuff, something that wouldn't even serve a cuff purpose.

I ripped it all out and cast on 40 sts. This works much, much better, tho I suspect I could have done well with perhaps 35 sts. But not enough to really worry about, as the original 52 st cast-on was. I worked a couple of the cuff stripes, and then put it away in my growing obsession with Argosy and working slowly through the first SS chart. Saturday morning I was working away on the SS and wanted a small break from it but didn't really want to stop knitting. I picked up the abandoned cuff of the CYO and decided I would finish the cuff so that re-knit was no longer hanging over my head. It went pretty fast, so I decided that maybe I would just work the first section of the fair isle in the sleeve. Next thing I knew I was hooked, and spent the rest of the day hanging out in my t-shirt and sweats, knitting the CYO sleeve right up until I had to put it down to get ready for my husband's work Holiday party. I finished half the first chart on Saturday, and the second half of the chart yesterday, while helping DH at a very busy farmer's market, chatting to various knitters who stopped to see what I was doing, and talking to people about my felted bowls. When we got home from the market and I finished my lunch, I plunked myself on the couch and spent the rest of the afternoon working on the CYO. Here you can see my two day's worth of progress. I have about another half inch to knit before I work the top band and finish off the first sleeve. Their method, I find, is relatively easy work, with minimal puckering if I remind myself to relax and stay loose. And it is a heck of a lot of fun to do! Here is my sleeve so far...

I am loving this project, and suspect it will go faster than I had originally thought. It will be hard to work on anything else in the meantime.

My Hat Saga is this - at the Farmer's market where we have our booth, I also sell my felted bowls, as you may remember. I don't understand it myself, but it isn't unusual for people to pick them up and assume they are hats. They are far too small to be hats, and they are sitting on their bottoms like, um, well, like bowls. But it made me think about the possibility of making felted hats to sell. I wanted something shaped like a pillbox hat, with straight sides and a flat crown. After asking on a couple of the knitting lists, I found out that this hat shape is also called a kufi. So I googled around and found two patterns to take a look at. I wanted to get an idea of how others had approached the design, so I could then get an idea of what I did and didn't want to do. In particular, I looked at these two patterns -the Keppie by Pamela Grossman, and the Easy Head Hugger Hat by Danny Ouellette. While I really like the Keppie, I decided that working the crown in that method would mean too much process for a hat that was only going to end up felted in the end. So I bought the EHHH pattern, and made this one out of Aruacania Magallanes. Loved the colors, hated the yarn, it was very splitty, very, very loosely spun in some areas and painfully tight in others. Here is the hat I made with that pattern...

Ok, so, very nice for what it is, but a far too complicated method of coming up with that shape, if I want to felt the finished product and then sell it at what non-knitters think is a reasonable price. But it gave me a jumping off point for how to make this all happen. My husband wanted a hat made in the following colorway, and I started with his hat as my experiment, after measuring the EHHH to get an idea of dimensions and proportions, and then taking a guesstimate (I know, I know) at how much the Kureyon would felt...

This is made in big pie-shaped wedges that you attach to each other, every other row. You see me finished with the bottom half of the 4th wedge, ready to start the point that shapes the crown area. The method of construction is good, but it made a very large and kind of shapeless hat. I am also not happy with what would have been the bottom edge - the wedges didn't meld evenly and so the bottom edge is uneven where it changes from one wedge to another. It is now a bowl...

Next I measured that and compared it to the proportions of the EHHH, then adjusted both my method of construction, as well as the st count. And came up with this...

This makes a perfect average woman's hat. My friend Jen has been wearing it very happily for about 2 weeks now, and I had to pry it off of her head in order to take this picture... I have a largish head for a woman, so I will want mine slightly bigger, so that it maintains the straight sides when it is worn, as it does on Jen's head. Then my husband's hat will be just a pinch larger still. I am working on my pattern pages, and this pattern will be available by the end of the week, so check back.

The funny part of this story is how Jen got to have the hat. She has been having a hard year, and as I mentioned, our book group Holiday party was at my house two weeks ago. As everyone was leaving, Jen, an apparent hat freak, noticed my hat hanging by the door and fell in love with it. Next thing I knew, my tongue - without consulting my brain - offered Jen the hat. She loves it and tells me that she wears it everywhere. And I think it maybe put a bit of a smile in her heart at a time when things could be a whole lot better for her. And it just looks great on her!

Well, Blog, I have survived my trip to the PO this morning to mail packages to my sisters, although the door did try to bite my hand off when I was walking in, fully laden. (My first worry being that this was going to ruin me for knitting for a couple of days. It is finally calming down to look like a big ugly scrape, nothing worse.) But thank God for those automated postal machines, eh?

Off to launder, fold, wash dishes, and KNIT!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Honey!?! I Think Knitters Have Gotten Into The House And Are Starting To Build Nests Again! HONEY!?!?!?

Dear Blog-

So I saw these cute mitten and stocking patterns in the aforementioned IK and decided I needed a few of those, too. To them I added some store-bought knit ornaments from Cost Plus (at half price) and before I realized what I was doing, I had a knitting tree. If you look closely you can see the white mitten at the top instead of a star. This is in my dining room, which is in reality the knitting and computer room. You'll notice that I have a pink Denise set under the tree, and yesterday I spent a while gathering up my huge collection of Clover bamboo circs and trying to figure out how to sell them on ebay. With the help of my ever-patient husband I did finally get them listed, I'm selling them in lots according to the cable size. And hoping someone will want them as much as I did when I bought them. They are here, here, here and here.

Note all the Berryware on the wall. This is the stuff that was still made here in Tucson, including the flower plates that were experiements in design that were never made for sale. Apparently I am wealthy in Berryware. This doesn't show you my collection of her animal plates, or all the plates I have hung up in the kitchen.

While the small tree in the knitting room is about knitting, I decided that the mantel would be about birds and the forest. If you look closely you see a whole lot of bird ornaments and bird houses. I keep thinking I'll go out and cut off a dead branch to hang more birds from. Hain't made it out there yet.

You'll notice that the bird houses have little handmade stockings hanging from them...

And here finally are the trees in our living room. I used to put up a 7 ft tree each year that took me 3 days to set up and decorate. And it was gorgeous. It is admittedly a fake, but such a good fake that I would always catch people pinching the tips of the branches to see how fresh it was. Here in the desert, the last year I bought a real tree it was $85. And they are already pretty darned dead. My secret with the fake tree was always to buy a live wreath so that the room has the smell of evergreens. Works like a charm.

Then after my winter of pneumonia two years ago, I decided to hell with the 3 day tree, and I put up these little puppies instead...

You are looking through into the dining room, and right behind the lattice to the left is my knitting chair, and behind the lattice to the right is the back of the desk that I sit at as I write this.

I post this all for my pathetic sister, who wants to see my decorations. Now I get to nag and ask her if she has updated her blog in the last century.

Some other bits, Christmas decorations, and the here and now...

Dear Blog-

After spending an hour and a half in the dental chair this morning, I'm so happy to be free that I could just dance a jig. Only, honestly, it would be really scary if I did that, so I'll content myself with getting further up to date with the whole blogging/knitting relationship.

I wanted to show you some other things that I worked on during my freaked-out time in November, then in the next few days I can tell you the hat story.

I have an aunt , my mother's younger sister, who is about as fat as a dried twig. And she lives in the wilds of upstate NY, where winters can be rather brutal. Although I have inherited my father's face, I have also inherited my mother's body, and dang! if our feet don't get really cold in the winter. Well, last year I made a pair of these felted slippers from Fiber Trends for my sister for her birthday. Or maybe for Christmas. I don't remember which, they are the same day. If you go take a look at the pattern, scan down the little scrolly thing on the left to pattern AC-67x.

So I figured these would be just the ticket for my twig aunt for her birthday, which fell right around Thanksgiving this year. The unfortunate thing is that my aunt ALSO fell on Thanksgiving this year, breaking her arm and bruising her hip area so badly that she spent about a week in hospital and then another two weeks in rehab. But somewhere during that time the slippers did arrive and my cousin brought them to her in the hospital. She seemed to really love them, and told me I could start another pair for her anytime. I could have sworn she only has two feet. The good news is that she finally got home again this past weekend, whereupon the whole family held another Thanksgiving dinner for her.

Note the cute (and realistic looking) little needle-felted sheep.

I wrote this wrist warmer pattern for a class at the LYS where I teach. I also made a pair in just plain ribbing because I knew my wrist warmers would be held hostage at the shop until after the holidays, and I really wanted something I could wear at the farmer's market to keep my hands warm while I knit. I call them Winter Woodlands Wrist Warmers. Not just because I am a great fan of alliteration, but also because they just remind me of winter back east. The yarn is Paton's Classic Merino, probably my favorite just-plain-worsted yarns. I love this color.

What you can't see quite so clearly in this photos is that the lace pattern is of leaves. Let me go take another pic of the orphan left here at home...

The leaf design is more clear in the photo towards the top edge of the wrist warmer, but it gives you a better idea of how it all looks. And look! I knew those unopened bills would come in handy for something more than just mad laughter and a wistful shake of the head. So this would be a good time to remind you that I do have this pattern for sale.

Then I also made, for my eldest sister, the Sachet Trio from the IK Holiday 2006. After a fashion. When I started making the large bag, I realized a few things. One is that I hate to sew anything, I'd rather knit, so instead of knitting one long strip of stockinette as they do the pattern, then sewing up the sides and making it into a sack, I started with a Turkish Cast-on and knitted from the bottom up. I also felt that the bag itself was about twice as large as I would really want it to be, so all the pieces are half the size given in the pattern. I did start to make the third little sachet bag, but decided I didn't like it and ripped it out. My sister will love me anyway. Hmmm... I really ought to get those things out in the mail.

And here is a better detail photo of my Argosy than the one I tried to take last night in the dark.

Now for the Alan Dart ornaments. You've gotta love Alan Dart. I love Alan Dart. Any man who can sit around and figure out knitting patterns for mice dressed in Victorian clothing can't be all bad. Last winter I got his Advent Calendar pattern, and bought the huge sampler box of Merino Style dk weight from Knitpicks to make the various mice and ornaments. So here are a few of the ornaments I have knitted up so far. The wreath is finished knitting, I just have to attach the red ribbon and stuff the pieces I have done so far.

I have decided that I will only post photos of the Scheherazade shawl as I finish each of the 6 charts and the edging chart. Ditto the PW CYO, I'll put photos up of that as soon as I feel like there is something to show.

And because blogger does this PITA thing of loading all of your photos in at the TOP of your post, and then you have to click and drag them slowly down into place, I'll post this now and go take a couple of photos of my decorations, then come back and show those to you.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yes, it's me again

Dear Blog-

Phew! This time of year life just gets too darned busy. Last we talked I was up to my elbows in dirty wine glasses. I spent the whole day washing the dishes from the night before, and putting the house back in order. And they weren't even wild!

Makes me think of a time in my younger days when all parties were wild, going out with three of my work buddies and ending up back at this one woman's apartment to sit around and talk and drink a few beers. Ann had the MOST anal roomate, Miriam, who actually pressed her undies - I swear, I saw them in the drawer - and had all her bathroom things neatly lined up in the linen closet in alphabetical order. You can't make those kinds of things up. Ann ended up going to bed 'early' and told us we needn't leave right away on her account. So as soon as we were reasonably sure she was asleep, we rearranged all the furniture in the rest of her house, putting all the LR furniture neatly arranged in the dining room and vice versa. Even moved the artwork on the walls, the potted plants, the rugs, side tables, lamps, everything. It took us about an hour to do, what with extra bursts of laughter and stumbling over furniture. And then we quietly left. It seems that Miriam came home a few hours later and woke Ann up to ask what the heck had happened with the furniture. Ann told her to just go to bed, rolled over and went back to sleep. Yes, it was my idea. So next time you see me or any other fluffy, white-haired, bespectacled middle-aged knitter who thinks that having her book group over counts as a crazy night, think about the fact that we lost our vision and earned our grey hairs with wild living in our younger days. Remind me to tell you sometime about climbing the fence out of the baseball field at UC Berkeley in pointy-toed stilletto-heeled boots. On second thought, we're not going to talk about that.

Ok, I don't know what the heck that had to do with anything. Let me go flip my grilled cheese and pickle sammy.

Alright. Anyway, in between all the madness, I have been knitting. I was working on some Xmas ornaments from the Alan Dart Advent calendar pattern, and then a few days ago decided I had had enough of those for the moment, and started the Sheherazade shawl from Pink Lemon Twist. In a gorgeous smokey blue Merino Oro. Then realized that blind-as-a-bat owl woman can't knit that in the living room in the evening as she watches tv. First of all I HATE bright lighting, and this color just disappears when the sun goes down. And secondly the shawl is 99 sts wide and has no repeats. But dang, is it ever going to be gorgeous when it is done.

So I started my other project I was lusting after, to serve as an evening project. This is my Philosopher's Wool Colour Your Own in Ocean Spray colorway.

So now I have a complicated lace shawl in the works, and a fair isle sweater in the works.

Then the new issue of Knitty came out, and I fell in love with the gorgeous Argosy scarf. And yesterday when I went in to work I bought the yarn and started the thing, and am almost finished with the first ball of yarn. I just have two regrets (no, not the shawl and the sweater). I mistakenly picked out Silk Garden instead of Silk Garden Lite. I put this down to being a diligent employee and wanting to finish my transaction before I was due to start work in 3 minute's time. Sorry, stand back, I've gotta have my yarn first. Just let me buy my yarn and nobody will get hurt. My second regret is that I didn't get the gorgeous colorway that she shows in the pattern. So you can guess what version of this I shall make next. In the meantime, here is my version so far...

I artfull laid it out against the backs of a couple of Scheherazade charts so that you could see the yo pattern more clearly. And partly because I was too lazy to shove things aside and peel back the table cloth and take the picture properly.

So that is what I am doing right now, tomorrow I'll try to post about the other things I did in November and also put on a few pics of my Xmas decorates. I have a knitting tree.

Wav(er)ing madly while sitting perfectly still-


Thursday, December 07, 2006

Remember Me?

Dear Blog-

I'm sorry I haven't written in a while. Life just gets so busy during this time of year. But today I have not much to do besides washing a lot of dishes and putting the house back together, and so while more wine glasses soak, here I am.

I was an eventful month since I was talking with you last. I went through the whole breast cancer scare - to my relief my biopsy was negative - you can read about it on my other blog. What? You didn't know I had another blog? But you were my first blog, and I always love you best! I get to talk about knitting with you.

I've also been spending a lot of time sorting through every nook, cranny, drawer and closet in the house in preparation for a big yard sale the day after tomorrow. (Note to self: Put an ad in the paper today.) I will be so glad to get all that extra stuff out of the house and know that if we move again anytime soon, that part is already accomplished.

And last night was our book group holiday party, traditionally always held at our house. A fine time was had by all with much drinking and laughter, and this morning I feel like a truck ran over me, even though I had two sips of champagne at most. My camera decided that it didn't want to play, some pathetic excuse about low batteries, but I will see if I can't get a copy of the group photo out of Diane to post here.

Let me go wash another sinkful of wine glasses, and I'll be right back.

Ok. Anyway, I spent a lot of November knitting bowls for felting, from my own design. I have several pictures to share with you...

some before and after...

to be followed by lots of afters...

I should tell you that I not only sell the bowls, I also sell the patterns, in case anyone is interested, just send me an email at Same is true for any of my designs that I have mentioned here in the blog at any point. Someday I will figure out how to put in a link to a page with all the patterns and a way to buy them online.

Anyway, I am going to go ahead and publish this part of the day's effort, then coem back and show and tell the other things I have been working on this month.
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