Thursday, March 13, 2014

Queue Up

Spring will just not arrive for us!  We are waiting patiently.  Well, we have been waiting patiently, but our patience is waning.  It seems that our nastiest of weather occurs on the weekends, which leaves us housebound and dreaming of greener and warmer days.  

Right now on my needles I have Owls.  I finished the lower part of the body and was ready to begin the first sleeve, but could not find cables to go with my knit picks needles.  Now, I could put the body on waste yarn and dig through the bin to find other needles of the size needed, but I was perplexed as to why I did not have those extra cables.  I am really not one to leave a project on needles, especially a project that would not come to mind.  I tend to finish what I start in knitting.  So, I went on a search and found Sitcom Chic by Bonne Marie Burns languishing for years.  There were two cables on the second sleeve (I knit sleeves in the round with two circulars).  Half of that second sleeve was complete.  I figured I could put those stitches on holders, grab those needles and run back to Owls.  But. . . perhaps I should just finish Sitcom Chic, have the cables AND needles back into circulation (pun intended) and have another finished project off the needles.  So that is what I am doing.  Pictures of Owls will have to wait, but soon there will be pictures of a spring sweater to reveal.  A spring sweater in the works since 2007.  Yes, 2007.

I have spent a bit of time organizing stash yarn and performing advanced searches on Ravelry to use up that stash yarn.  If you are like me, you search Ravelry in your spare time and find projects to fill up your queue.  These projects are in my queue and I have the yarn in my stash to make them.  Bonus!  (Don't tell my husband, but even knitting these up will not dent the stash yarn.  Well, maybe a dent or at least a little mark). 

Hey, Teach! by Helene Rush.  The stash contains three suitable choices:  Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in two different colors (gray and smoky green) and Knit Picks Mainline in turquoise.  Haven't decided on the color yet.  I've been on a blue kick lately so that's what I'm leaning toward, but breaking the lean might be good for me.
 Waiting for Spring Sweater by Susan Dempster.   Recommended yarn is Lion Brand Wool Ease Solids and Heathers.  I have a beautiful blue green stash I picked up at a sale years ago.  There is also in the stash a rusty red choice.  I'm thinking the blue green (see my bent right now?).
 Twiggy Cardigan by Jane Richmond.  I have an absurd amount of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick.  Many colors to choose from.  Thick and Quick tends to go on sale at Michaels periodically and when that happens I make a purchase (or two).  Time to thin out the thick (and quick) stash!
 Oatmeal Pullover, again by Jane Richmond.  I like her designs.  They are simple, yet feminine and classic.  I have a pretty tweedy Patons Chunky Shetland Tweed in light blue and gray.  I also have Knit Picks Shamrock which might work as well.  

Of course, my queue and available yarn is greater than the above selections, but let's start small, eh?  What's in your queue?

Stay tuned for upcoming Sitcom Chic.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Up To My Neck in Knitting

The first few months of 2014 was all about keeping necks warm.  We have had crazy cold weather in Northern Illinois this year.  Record breaking cold weather.  School-has-been-cancelled-due-to-the-cold-weather weather.  On one school cancellation day, I dug out some stash yarn and did an advanced Ravelry search (I LOVE that feature, do you?) to find this gem:  Incognito by Mercedes Tarasovich-Clark.  The first one was for me.  While my husband rebuilt a carburetor in the (heated) garage, I made myself a mustache in the well-heated house.  

 Dad's birthday was coming up (seems like all of us have January birthdays), so I fashioned one for him.  He is outside daily despite the weather.  He has to feed his birds and roam his property.  A little something to keep him a bit warmer.  He is always a willing recipient of knitted goods as his mother kept him in them from childhood.  Of course, when I first saw him in it via facetime, he was wearing it upside down.  A bow-tie maybe?  I explained the mustache to him and he righted it promptly.
 Then the young man was in need of a little knit attention (he gets very little of that), so the stash revealed some hunter-type colors and soon Incognito was adorning his neck.
My co-worker has two young girls who are deep into the mustache craze, so I made plans to fashion a few for them as well.
One in stash Vanna's Choice blue, which knits up reminiscent of denim.  The other in double stranded Caron Simply Soft (went down a needle size for a nice, tight fabric).  They were thrilled and the immediate envy of their classmates.
My lovely and hard-working classroom assistant was facing bus duty every afternoon in these arctic temps, so I knit her up a Marshmallow Fluff (fun and amazingly quick knit) in Lion Brand Thick and Quick (again, stash).  I did cast on 20 stitches and followed the pattern from there.  I believe I did not knit entire length (Provisional cast-on and it is knit long and seamed with a 3 needle bind off).  She loved it so much that she requested one for her mother who navigates a school bus and must sit next to the door which opens and closes for each batch of kids.  Made an identical one for her, but no picture to show. 
Isn't she beautiful?
 So, those around me have warm necks and I have a warm heart knowing I have a part in that.  All of the above neck-warmers/cowls were knit before the Olympic Bare Trees Jacket, but deserved a post of their own on this little blog.

And now on to my "test knit".  Standardized tests are underway, and I have begun to knit another queue item:  Owls by Kate Davies.  I downloaded the patterns years ago when it was a free pattern.  This is not stash yarn.  Last year, my LYS closed, and I was heartbroken.  That yarn store was in my "shopping town" which is about 10 miles away.  I was recently informed that my "working town" which is 5 miles away was now host to a quilting/yarn store.  Oooo!  An immediate cold weekend trip was in order, and I found this beautiful blue Cascade 128 Superwash.  As I knit up, I find dye transfer on my hands and uneven dying throughout the fabric, but we'll see how it turns out after washing.  I've heard review that this yarn pills horribly, but Cascade says to wash and dry in the dryer and pilling should not be bad. I'll follow their advice and keep you posted.  Right now I'm loving the yarn.  Soft through the fingers; a delight to knit up with.  

 Tonight I finished up to the armpit and am ready to begin short rows.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Olympic Knitting

For Ravelry's 2014 Revellenic Games, I entered several projects to be completed in the 16 days of the Olympics.  The Valentine Hat was one of them, as were a pair of Incognito Cowls for a co-worker's daughters.  But the big challenge for me was to complete a sweater, not only in 16 days, but less given that the aforementioned projects would be completed first.  My sweater challenge was Tree Jacket by Sarah Moore.  This one has been in queue for quite some time.  

We have had a long, cold, snowy winter that seems to be coldest and snowiest on the weekends.  Thus, it seems we have been confined indoors on our days off.  One such day I set about organizing my massive stash of yarn.  Don't get excited, it is not fully organized, though I'll admit it's better.  I found 6 skeins of Lion Brand Cotton-Ease that I'm sure I purchased when I lived in Arizona (read years ago), and I paired it with this pattern.  

Watching the Olympics and knitting was no hardship for me at all!  In dedication to my sweater event, I had to forgo cleaning.  I know, but a girl has been persevere to achieve, am I right?  My little buddy and I began my Bare Trees Jacket (in honor of the long, drawn-out winter here).

 I truly enjoy watching the Olympics.  It's like watching someone's dreams come true.  I, of course, cheer on Team USA, but no matter who wins, I share their enthusiasm and applaud them.  Years of hard work and persistence and sacrifice and dedication paying off.  To be medal-ed as the best in the world. . .  Of course, there was great disappointment in watching Team USA lose in hockey, but again, watching the medalists brought a smile to my face and warmth in my heart for them.  How can you boo at someone whose dreams are coming true?  Not possible for me.

 I began knitting with 11 days to go and accomplished 7 inches of the cowl.  Not bad!  On Day two I grabbed my project again for the 7:00p.m. start of the Games and discovered that in row 2, I had made a mistake and had to rip the entire cowl out.  Yes, there was garage language involved.  ;)  So, day two consisted of frogging, garage language and re-knitting the entire 7 inches I had just lost to get me back to where I had begun that day.  

  • cast on for size small, but added 10 stitches evenly throughout on set up row.
  • Picked up 4 stitches on the arm, then took them back out in the next two rounds (ssk, end of round k2tog)
  • knit sleeves in stockinette
After finishing with crooked, aching fingers on Sunday, in time for the finish line (deadline), I did a little dance.  It was iffy there for awhile.  In fact, Saturday evening I had decided I wouldn't finish and wouldn't even attempt to finish on Sunday.  Upon awakening Sunday I thought "what the heck is that?  I have put a marathon of knitting in and I'M NOT STOPPING NOW!"  I waited until the following day after work to post to Ravelry's finish lines only to find them closed.  I had read that we had 24 hours after closing ceremonies to get into the finish line threads.  I assumed (mistakenly) that it was 24 hours after the showing of the closing ceremonies.  Nope.  24 hours after the actual closing ceremonies.  So, no ravelry avatar (ravatar) for me.  But, I have the accomplishment under my belt, in my heart and on my body:
 After a day of wear, the collar droops and falls down as you can see in the pictures.  It stays up the first few hours of wear, but it's downhill from there.  Must be the cotton-ease.  Not sure what I can do to strengthen it?  If you have ideas, please leave me a comment.
 I was not aware that my photographer was snapping away.  I look very stern in these pictures, but was just patiently waiting for the husband to take some pictures, not realizing he was.  I have a very stern look and did not realize that about myself.  Those who know me will tell you, I am not a stern person.  
 And then he said "Why don't you smile for any of these pictures?"  So I did.
I already have a new knit on the needles (duh, don't all knitters immediately cast on the next project?).  It's my "Test Knit Sweater".  Next week is the standardized testing week and I am always working on a sweater during that time.  This year will be no exception.  I will be back to blog about that.

Boots is getting better about being snuggly with Heimo (yippee!)

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Head Over Heels

I am head over heels in love with this man, my husband.  For Valentine's Day, I knit him a hat to cover his head, as I've already knit him slippers to cover his heels.  He projects in the garage frequently, so I "stealth" knit this for him while he was home working in the garage.  When he came into the house, I had another knitting project at the ready to pop over this one.  

 The pattern is Bulky Knitted Hat by Kristen Omdahl.  I used stash yarn (yeah!) of Lion Brand Wool Ease Thick and Quick in brown and white.  It's knit from the top down, and meant to be knit flat and seamed, but I did knit it in the round.  I used Jenn's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off to finish.
 I've knit him a hat of this yarn before (my own pattern), and he loves the warmth of it, but I did not quite make it large enough to cover all of his ears.  
 With this pattern, we're covered.  Or, rather, his ears are covered.  
 And now back to my Ravellenic Games 2014 challenge knit.
With my catghan on my lap.  Always.
Stay tuned for details about my entries in the Revellenic Games 2014.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Past and Present

There is a certain time of day, in the late afternoon, when it is necessary to turn on the lights in the kitchen.  My kitchen is such a bright, vibrant space with plenty of sunshine beaming in.  But in the late afternoon during the winter months, the sun goes down and makes it necessary to turn on the artificial lighting.  I have plenty of lighting in my kitchen.  I do not like a dark kitchen.  

Today after working in the kitchen for a bit, I wandered to other areas of the house to do other tasks.  Just a short bit later, I returned to the kitchen and it needed light.  I make the transition smoothly, but for a brief moment, I mourn the passing of the sun from my kitchen.  But within moments, I am swept up in the pulse of making dinner, lively conversation, and reminiscences of the day and the kitchen is bright, bright, bright with love and lighting. 

This picture hung on a wall opposite my seating arrangement throughout the whole of my childhood.  My mother was kind enough to gift it to me when I started out on my own as a young adult and it has been in my kitchen ever since.  It is faded and aged.  I read and re-read this prayer over and over again as a child.  My eyes always seek out print.  I have it memorized I'm sure.  If prompted I could recite the whole thing.

How about a little project viewing?  The granny square lap covering rests over my dad's knees.  This was made by his mother, his wife and his daughter.  The granny squares in the middle were made by none other than my infamous mummu and came into my possession this past fall.  The four corner squares were made by my mother, who gave them to me last summer.  I put them all together, added filler and border (double crochet) and wrapped it for my daddy for Christmas.  I wish my crochet talent matched that of the matriarchs who came before me, but it is what it is. . . Not my specialty.  But I think he loves it nonetheless.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Twelve Things


Well, hello there.  It's been a year since I've been in this space.  A busy year.  To try to catch things up properly would take pages and pages of a year in the life essay.  Instead, I thought, let's do a list.  Twelve things for the twelve months that have passed.  Not a month by month sequence of events, but twelve major happenings in our lives.  After we get through that, there will be knitting (and a bit of crocheting) to post about.  But first. . .

1.  The boy finished elementary school.  
2.  The boy started high school.  Yes, we have a high schooler in the house.

3.  Lots of home improvement occurred, especially on the patio where we spend most of the daytime (and quite a bit of the evening) hours during cooperative weather.
After a particularly strong gust of freak wind (that I swear came out of nowhere!), we discovered the tempered glass tabletop shattered into millions of moaning pieces.  We were heartbroken.  That table hosts daily coffee breaks, meals, chat sessions, a spot of reading or knitting, pondering and entertaining.  The table is no longer being manufactured and after numerous phone calls we learned that we would have to take out a small loan to have one custom made.  

Inspiration struck and we designed and constructed our own tile table top.  I think it's beautiful!

4.  We welcomed a grand baby girl into the fold!  A beautiful little girl, who was immediately topped with a flower by this knitting grandma.

5.  My sweet boy Toivo passed away after a long fight with chronic renal failure.  He was a doll and a sweetheart to the end.  I held him as he passed and the last things he heard were my words whispering "I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you..."  I miss him every day.  We were together 16 years and two weeks.  His little brother was very lost without him.  The following picture was a daily occurrence with these two, but was taken the day before he passed away.  The picture that follows it, was Heimo the day after he passed away.   

 6.  The boy got his first deer.  Such a proud, young hunter you never saw!
 7.  The boys went off to hunting camp up north with the woodsmen! 

8.  My school got a brand-spanking new building!  It is beautiful AND has air-conditioning.  It is a treat to work in such a lovely building.  There are times I miss the character and flair of the 100+ year old building, but I am truly grateful to be in such a wonderful new school.

9.  My parents celebrated 50 years together.  Unfortunately, their anniversary was one week after another very large event, (#10) and so they were not given the celebration that 50 years deserves.  We, of course, all gathered with them, but given the expenditure of energy and money on #10, our fanfare with low-key.  What a beautiful couple.  They have been and continue to be an inspiration to me as to what a loving, married couple should be.

10.  I married the man of my dreams!

There.  Whew!  Twelve things that happened last year.  It was a year of big things and lots of lovely little things too.  I will be back in this space soon for an update of knitting activities.  Those big things consumed me and left little time and energy for this space, but hopefully I'll be back with some regularity.  Anything big happen for you last year?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Winter Whites

A box arrived!  
A February, winter box of glorious whites arrives!  
Packages are such a treat, especially when they contain yarn.

 This stuff is so lovely, even the cats want to check it out! 
 Wishing I had draped my table in a darker tablecloth to showcase the yarn, but it is the season of winter whites, after all!
 Boots obliges the photographer with a yarny pose.
 Does that label say Angora Merino?
 It does!  Lion Brand has a collection of yarns only available by online order, which includes this Angora Merino blend.  80% extrafine merino, 20% angora.  I did tear into the package to fondle this little ball of fluff and it is soft and sweet.  It is part of the LB Collection.    An affordable decadence.

Even the yarn band is a treat to the eyes.  Soon, these will be on my needles and will adorn my mother's hands.  Those hands that have held me so gently through the years should definitely be cocooned in angora softness! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Changing my Perspective

February is upon us.  I've been dreading February for a couple of weeks now.  It's my longest, most difficult month.  Have spent the majority of my adult life in Arizona, I struggle with the deep, long heart of winter here in the Midwest, particularly the lack of sunshine and outdoor time.  I've given this dread a lot of thought the past few weeks.  I have decided that I need to refocus and celebrate February, just as I celebrate the other months of the year.  Time to bundle up and get out in the weather and glory in the beauty that is the deep, long heart of winter. Beauty can be found in green grass under bare toes, as well as crunchy snow under layers of wool socks and rugged boots.

It is because of the long, dark days of winter that we are so joyous when spring arrives.  It is during the long, dark days of winter that we enjoy the extra time to lounge, relax and pursue our indoor hobbies.  It is during the long, dark days of winter that our houses feel so warm and cozy and welcoming.  It is during the long, dark days of winter that I can cuddle up in The Disco Blanket all day long and read a good book without regret for chores not done.

Welcome, February!