Wednesday, August 31, 2005

For Katrina's Victims

Like many people in America (and maybe around the world), I've been watching a lot of cable news coverage today. I am overwhelmed and so, so saddened by the devastation that Katrina has wreaked on the Gulf Coast. My prayers tonight are for everyone in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama who have been harmed by this horrible storm -- for those who have lost someone, I pray that they will be comforted. For those who were able to flee, I pray that they will find themselves safe at home as soon as possible.

The Network for Good has a site where you can make donations toward relief efforts, if you would like to help.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Conkers! You rock, Amanda! Our friend at Bulldog Knits googled this and discovered that, apparently, conkers are a type of chestnut. Here in Ohio, this is called a buckeye.
Too Much Knitting?

OK, so the Cotton Tots really did a number on me. I knit a lot, and have been doing so for awhile, but this is the first time I can remember feeling actual pain in my hands. So I've been taking easy. Sort of.

Weasley KAL progress...I've bought the yarn, and swatched for J's sweater. His will be the navy (Rowan calls it "Midnight") and S's sweater will be the reddish color (this being called "Conker"*). The letters will be done in the tan color, which is called "Cocoa". As you can see, I decided on using the Felted Tweed, since it is machine washable, and it's actually not a bad price considering the yardage. I also used Alison's helpful hints and created the charts for the initials on the sweaters. I was sorely tempted to do an H and an R, especially since this is what my little guys look like (one with brown hair and one redhead!). But I know I will get sick of saying to people, "They stand for Harry and Ron, you Muggle!" So I will be doing their own initials on the sweaters.

I also created a pattern with dropped shoulder sleeves, ribbing at cuffs and waist, and knit in the round with my Sweater Wizard software. I punched in the measurements and made my sleeve choice, etc., and two seconds later, voila, a Weasley pattern. I'm sure that the pattern will make an authentic looking Weasley. But I have to say there was something vaguely dissatisfying about designing with the software. I think it kind of took some of the fun out of it. And now I don't feel as though the pattern is mine. Oh well...

I told myself that I would give my poor hands a rest for a few days and just work on the Weasley "on paper." But I couldn't stand it. I had to start something else. So now I am working on the Glampyre Tubular Camisole. I think this will be a nice three-season garment, because you could wear it alone or with something under it. So here's my progress on that...I wasn't so sure about the bobbles, but I think that they will look nice. Amanda asked what yarn I was using (see picture in previous post). It's actually Coats and Clark TLC Cara Mia. It's a craft store yarn, but it is really nice. It's a blend of synthetics and angora -- basically the same as Katia Diana, but cheaper. It's been on clearance at my local JoAnn's, so I've been hoarding it. It's so soft and really nice to knit with. I will be anxious to see how it wears. (I didn't try washing my swatch, because I am a Lazy Knitter.) I'll let you all know how it goes!

* Can anyone tell me what a conker is?

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Now That's What I Call a Lovely Afternoon... Rain on the window, a little knitting, a little Earl Grey, sleeping little boys (not pictured). Ahhh...

Maybe that last post was a little too negative. Suddenly I'm feeling much more generous and less cranky than this morning. Must be the tea.

Take Back the Knit?

Having sent the shrugettes on their merry way to Sacramento, I now am sort of Between Projects. (WIPs? What WIPs?) I, of course, need to get started on the Weasleys (I'm swatching). But I really want to make this, so I'm swatching for that too. And, Lord help me, I'm sorely tempted to join another knitalong, so I'll undoubtedly be swatching for that soon too. And swatches aren't the most exciting blog topic, so I thought this might be a good opportunity for a little affiknitty editorial. (Ahem.)

Lately, in my blogstalking and Knittyboard reading, I've seen some things that make me nostalgic for the old days. Of course, I've only been seriously knitting for about five years, so I wasn't really there for the old days. But I bet the ladies at Meg Swanson's Knitting Camp are longing for the days when the most radical thing a knitter did was knit socks on two circulars.

I saw a thread at the Knitty coffeeshop entitled "Extreme Knitting." There was a warning with the link that said it wasn't for the squeamish. But I thought they were talking about hunter's dayglo orange acrylic! I never actually made it to the page with the extreme knitting, because the first page I landed on contained pictures of body parts and sharp objects that made me feel a little woozy.

And I've heard of and happened across plenty of examples of knitted phalluses and vibrator cozies. I'm a hip mom. Really! I have my own copy of Stitch n' Bitch! I proudly wear my Vote for Pedro t-shirt! But this sort of thing really makes me want to revisit Yarn Harlot's posts about tiny shoes. The only battery-operated thing I might have to cozy is my electric toothbrush. (Note to DH: Still need that i-Pod, honey! Thanks! Mmwahh!) What's next? Free pattern for edible panties using licorice laces? Nope. Already been done.

See, what I love about knitting is the possibility of creating something beautiful, like this. Or this, even though I don't really knit lace. Or something simple, but ingenious, like this. I thought about making some sort of knitting's-a-big-tent-there's-yarn-enough-for-everyone kind of comment, but on second thought, no. If there can be Knitters Against Fun Fur (where can I join up? I'm reformed), then maybe there could be Knitters Against Ugly Smut or similar. I am ready to be the Tipper Gore of knitting. There really ought to be a knitter's equivalent of the Justice League, where you learn the basics, they hand you some tasteful mostly natural fiber, and make you promise to use your Knitting Powers Only For Good. If you're with me, I'll be working on a cover for my kind of bedside companion.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Big Reveal

Here they are... after much procrasinating and at this point requiring overnight mail to make it to California by my nieces' birthday...the Mini-OSWs. Not matchy-matchy, because M & T are not the matchy sort of twins, if you know what I mean. At three years and 363 days, they are definitely asserting their individuality. You go, girls!
As I mentioned before, I made these in Bernat Cotton Tots. I bought two pink skeins, one white, and one variegated. After making four mini-shrugs, I still have LOTS of yarn left over. I think I can safely say without violating Stefanie's copyright, that I followed her pattern except that I cast on 24 stitches, worked increases until I thought the shoulder width was appropriate for the little girl in question, and then picked up a (more or less) appropriate number of stitches for the ribbing. I achieved the appropriate gauge for the pattern using size 8 needles for the main part and size 5 for the trims.
And now, on to the Weasleys... Yay!

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sarah Dallas Knitting

If there are two things that I love, they are knitting and books. Which makes me a total sucker for books about knitting. I have WAY too many pattern books, and stitch libraries, and knitting magazines, and other various reference works. See? I cannot resist the allure of the Newly Published Pattern Book. Especially the ones with the gorgeous photography. Extra irresistability points if authored by a Famous British Knitwear Designer, or the Editor of a Sumptuous Knitting Magazine. So it's no surprise that I couldn't walk out of my local chain craft store without Sarah Dallas Knitting. I was so shocked to even find it at my local chain craft store, that any willpower I might have had to just step away from the book was gone.

As a knitting porn-type purchase, I have to say it does not disappoint. Lovely, lovely pictures. Lovely, lovely projects. I am all over the Seed Stitch Camisole and the idea of the cardigan on the cover. (Aside gripe: Not that you could ever tell that the sweater on the cover is a cardigan from the photo. No more representational picture appears within. So if you want to know what your FO will look like, use your damn imagination. Ok, venting done.) The book is organized into four chapters, each focused on a different pair of colors. When I saw the "Lime/Lilac" chapter heading, I knew I had to have this book. You know how I feel about that color combo.

Ms. Dallas says that the book was inspired by seaside vacations, and the garments one might need to deal with variable seaside weather. See, this is why I really should be living in England. Because the idea of going to the beach and needing wool socks or gloves actually appeals to me. So, if you're at all like me, you can flip through this book and indulge yourself in a little daydream about British seaside towns and tea and Jane Austen novels and whatnot. And while we're indulging in fantasy, we can imagine our dirty clothes in her diamond seed stitch, white DK cotton handknit laundry bag. Sure. If the worst kind of dirty laundry you have is, say, club-soda-stained, barely worn linen camisoles. Another fantasy, courtesy of this book: ever having the time or inclination or attention span to knit a 4 foot by 5 foot afghan on size 5 needles.

But, generally speaking, I like the book. I can definitely see making several of the projects. And it's not doing a thing to squelch my developing infatuation with Rowan yarns. But don't be looking for that laundry bag among my FOs anytime soon.

Little shrugs, you ask? Um, they're almost done.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Another tiny shrug?!

I'm now working on my third tiny shrug. The first two are with my neighbor's daughters. Here's my progress. I have to say that the novelty of the OSW tends to wear off after your third or fourth consecutive shrugette. And the Cotton Tots, while soft and cute, is making my hands hurt. Birthday knitting. Why do I always get the idea to do this approximately eight to ten days before the birthday?

Well, I'm being helped along in my project by this... and this... Don't laugh.

Friday, August 19, 2005

First Knitalong!

Yep, I'll be knitting Weasley sweaters for my Little Guys. I am so psyched! I have BOATLOADS of Plymouth Encore leftover from other kid sweaters and various aborted projects. But I would prefer to use something that is tweedy or heathery looking. The only thing is, Rowan is just a little pricey for me for kid sweaters and considering that I do have boys, machine washable is good. I guess a trip to the LYS is in order, along with an e-yarn crawl. The fun never ends!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Tiny Shrugs

The toe-up socks, intriguing and fun as they are, have been set down for a bit while I work on another project -- shrugs for preschoolers, as I mentioned in my last post. After consulting the Knittyboard for advice, and checking some reference books, I think I have figured out how to adapt the One Skein Wonder for little girls. My math was clearly off on my first effort, though. I intended it to fit my neighbor's three-year-old, and instead it was just perfect for her nine month old sister. Whoops.
So, I'm now on my second effort, and having added more increases, I think that I'm going to be in the ballpark of appropriate sizing for a preschooler. I'm using Bernat Cotton Tots, which is not the yummiest yarn to knit with. But it makes a cute kids' garment. Instead of doing all one color, I'm doing the seed stitch cuffs and ribbing in a contrasting color. That also looks nice for a little girl, I think.
Now I just need to finish the second (for the neighbor's daughter--wouldn't want to cause sibling squabbling!), and make two more (for my nieces). By Monday. So, why am I blogging?

Monday, August 15, 2005


You scored 8% Slytherin, 20% Ravenclaw, 68% Gryffindor, and 36% Hufflepuff!
You might belong in Gryffindor,
Where dwell the brave at heart,
Their daring, nerve, and chivalry
Set Gryffindors apart.

Gryffindors are known for their courage, audacity, and devotion to what is good and honest.

Here's the link if you want to take the test too! The Sorting Hat Test

Friday, August 12, 2005

Fun with Digital Cameras

I figured out how to use my self-timer on my camera today. Earlier in the week I frogged my OSW and reknit it, to make it bigger. Good call. I look in this photo as if I am looking up at something intently. I am actually only trying not to look down at the camera, thereby creating scary double chin action. My latest plan is to try and adapt the OSW pattern for little girls in light worsted, so that I can make them for my twin nieces, who will be 4. In about two and a half weeks. And they live in California. No pressure.

I read somewhere once that it's a good idea to carry around your digital camera, and try to take at least one picture every day that pleases you. Then you can keep all these photos, and look at them when you need cheering, or inspiration, or just something to do. That idea really appealed to me, in the same way that I thought the neighbor kid's video collection in American Beauty was really cool. Of course, in the rush of having two little boys, and life in general, I rarely remember to do this myself. But the other day, I had my camera and I was glad, because I didn't want to forget seeing this. In case you are wondering, this is sunset in Everett, Ohio, in the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Full Frontal, Baby!

Because Olga said I needed to post another picture of Tivoli, one that is "full frontal" to use her phrase... We won't be winning any photography awards here, but you get the idea!

Having now worn it a few times, I can say that I have received several nice compliments on it. But it is starting to feel a little saggy. I think my fiber choice was non-optimal. Do all non-wool yarns stretch like this? Maybe after washing and blocking, it will shape up.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Socks!! Or, Laura Jumps on the Bandwagon

In some areas of my life, I can be almost a trendsetter. Par example, I was listening to Keane before they could be heard on the radio in Cleveland. And also ... Ok, so I'm struggling to think of another example.
Anyway, when it comes to knitting trends, I really lag behind the crowd. I just went through the novelty-yarn-scarf-thing last year. (For a variety of reasons, I just didn't have the mental energy for anything other than garter stitch rectangles, OK?) I am SO over that. I am only into actual real fibers now, as opposed to petroleum products. (I am willing to accept blends of naturally occurring fibers and petroleum products. Read these last sentences in your best Yarn Snob voice.) That means I have a bunch of stuff like this up for sale on eBay right now.
Since I've starting knitblogstalking (see! another trend I'm coming to late!), I've seen all these lovely socks that people have been knitting. Like Carolyn's. Because I am such a yarn ho, I actually had sock yarn in my stash, even though I've never really been a sock knitter. Someday, we think in the LYS, someday I'll want to knit socks, or lace, or [insert completely new-to-you project type here]. Well, baby, that day is here. I am obsessed with socks.
For the trip to Northampton, I pulled some Lion Brand Magic Stripes out of the stash and found some patterns on the net and among the ones that I have saved. Inspired by the Retro Anklet pattern in Socks, Socks, Socks and the Alison's Ankle Socks on The Blue Blog, I came up with these. As you can see, they are almost done. And now I can't stop thinking about socks. Which is good, because Le Mari wants socks, and thinks the Little Guys need socks...
I did these on one circular needle, and did the short row method for the heels and toes. Using one circular is the perfect way to do the short row heels and toes. You just zoom right through the socks. Fun, fun, fun.
Here's how I did it (I have a size 7-1/2 or 8 shoe and they fit me just right). My gauge is about 7sts/in with size 3 needles: CO 52 sts. K2,p2 rib for 1.5 inches. Continue in st st until work measures 4 in. Pick one side to be your heel. K to last st, wrap that st then turn work. P to last st, wrap that st, and turn. Continue doing this, always knitting or purling to the last unwrapped st, until you have 8 unwrapped sts on the needle. K to first wrapped st, k that st and the wrap tog. Turn and p to first wrapped st, put wrap on LH needle and p that and the st tog. Continue doing this until you have reincorporated all the sts into the heel. Start knitting around again in st st until you are about 2" from the end of your foot. Work the toes the same way you did the heels. (NB: Start on the same side as the heels, or your toe seam will be on the bottom of your foot.) Kitchener stitch the toes. Make another sock.
Couldn't resist another picture of those heels and toes. The joins are a little holey where I turned the short rows, but I think they'll full a little when washed. Also, no feet were stabbed by needles in the taking of that picture!
Holidays must end, as they say...

So I'm back from my trip, actually been back since Monday evening. I've been recuperating, catching up, etc. It was amazing fun. I was in Northampton, home of my alma mater, Smith College for the wedding of my best friend Kara. Nice weather, seeing friends, eating in restaurants without kids''s all good. Downtown Northampton was hopping all weekend with this shopping sidewalk extravaganza, which was a nice little bonus.
Here I am with the bride (in glasses) and another Smithie, our friend Colin (who was also in the wedding party). Note that Tivoli Tee made an appearance at the rehearsal dinner.
I did copious amounts of knitting and Potter reading on the trip. More on all that later...