Thursday, March 31, 2011

Where Are They Now? 2AKCBWDay4

Whatever happened to your Cherry Garcia for Diane? Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something which you sent off to charity.
It looked like this, but was black. Baby Alpaca Chunky. Wonderful to knit with, perfect yardage to produce a Cherry Garcia with 1 skein. A lovely, warm gift. I knit one of these for a friend, Diane, who is a sales representative and is in and out of her car all day during Northern Illinois winters. She was tickled, delighted. She had said something to the man, but had not dared ask me to knit her one (she had seen mine). There's nothing better than to knit something for an appreciative recipient, am I right?
A couple of weeks ago, Diane's car was broken into. She had some money in her car. She had valuable storage drives in view, expensive sunglasses on the dash. What did the thieves off with? The money and her handknit gift, which I called Licorice Garcia.
So it seems that even the unsavory characters among us are appreciative of fine wool and fine craftsmanship. (and yes, I will knit her another).

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tidy Mind, Tidy Stitches 2KCBWDay3

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry. Tips: Many people use their blogs partly as an organisational tool – logging and cataloguing projects and newly attained skills, projects and modifications. Did you bare this in mind when you began blogging?
Yarn (dis)Organization/Wrangling
This bag travels with me everywhere:

Even to work, though I rarely knit at work. Can't leave home without it. It often contains more than one project. (Or the possibilities for such).
Contents: Options needle set, all knitting paraphernalia - scissors, tape measure, markers, etc., waste yarn, chapstick, hand lotion.
If I'm headed off to work and the current WIP is nearing completion, despite the fact that I don't have time to knit at work, unless illness warranting an ER visit, thus ER waiting room, ensues, I will make sure there is yarn and pattern available for project that I can start if I finish the one in progress. Twisted, eh?
Balled yarn waiting in shoe pocket:
Purchases on top of my clothes closet, still in shopping bags, or designated to project bags:
Purchased collapsible baskets holding some stash in another closet:
Hank draped over coat in coat closet waiting its turn to be balled (once balled it may end up in shoe pocket):
There is also a chest of drawers dedicated to stash yarn, as well as several plastic bins. If
Armageddon befalls us, I will have plenty of choices for knitting!
I do have a very organized system for books and needles, to which I strictly adhere. This wall of books contains all pattern books. There is a lovely turquoise vintage coffee pot with a bouquet of vintage straight needles on top of bookcase. All working needles are contained in specialized places and secured in personal closet. I once found a knitting needle on the patio table, having been left out overnight. The boys had pulled it for some such experiment that enters a boy's mind on a whim. Long talk ensued and importance of needles being designated use ONLY for knitting clarified and established. (though on occasion I use one to extract kitty toy from under dresser. If I pull a needle from that coffee pot, Heimo comes a'runnin'! He knows that a toy will be forthcoming soon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill + 1Up 2KCBWDay 2

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year? .
Greatest skill learned over the course of a year in my knitting? SOCKS! If you've read this blog you know that I was vocal about my dislike of sock knitting. I've always liked socks, just not knitting them. Then I discovered knitting socks with two circular needles. I was sold. I am sold. More socks are planned!
Of the pair of socks that I knit for mom (the blue and white pair), the first one was knit over a year ago (quite possibly two) on DPNs and I fiddled and fidgeted and fudged with them. My fingers cramped, my head ached, my eyes went bleary. I didn't get second sockitis, it was just plain old sockitis.
Didn't want to knit the other because I so had not enjoyed knitting the first. Watching the yarn evolve into stripes was great fun, but that was it for me. Despite this dislike, I continued to acquire sock yarn for my stash. Didn't use it, just collected it.
After viewing Cat Bordhi's youtube video on knitting with two circulars, I gave it a spin and there you have it folks, I now enjoy knitting socks.
Not only do I enjoy it, I am actively planning to cast on another pair shortly!
There are other skills I've picked up and knitted along the way, of course, it's natural in the world of knitting to acquire new skills. A few extra of note (to myself, if none other) would be shaping for my body, eyeballing patterns for my body and not just how it looks on the model, knitting top down sweaters and changing a pattern from flat to knit in the round.
This post is part of the 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. If you are interested in reading others' posts on the same topic, google 2nd Annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Tale of Two Yarns - 2nd annual Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, Day One

Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them. (for more information:
Sock yarn!
I know that I am declining specificity about label or fiber content, but I just love sock yarn. Who among us doesn't love sock yarn? So many possibilities afoot!
The endless possibilities. Self-patterning/striping yarn is amazing. Everytime I knit with a self-patterning/striping yarn I ponder the person who dyed this fiber. How was it they were able to exact out this pattern in the dye process. I do not have a schematic brain, so the very idea that someone can graph this out and perform it boggles my mind! Knitting with sock yarn has become an exercise in intellectual process, the wonderment of the talents of others.
The stitch definition of the fingering/sport weight yarns are superb and make me feel so talented. Did I make this fabric? Am I that consistent with my gauge? Boy! Am I talented!
Crampy fingers after hours of making those defined talented stitches. Little needles, skinny yarn = cramped fingers for me. After a project in sock yarn, I'm ready for a project in chunky weight yarn.
Chunky Yarn!
Again, no label or fiber specified. I particulary enjoy chunky weight yarn after a sock yarn project.
Just how quickly chunky weight yarn projects knit up. I can have a sweater in a matter of days vs. weeks in worsted; a hat in hours. I marvel at the thickness and the bulky stitch definition. What perfect "Vs" that bulky yarn produces. Knitting with bulky yarn makes me feel like an invincible knitter who can crank out a wearable garment in the span of a week.
Crampy fingers. Big, fat yarn and big, fat needles = crampy fingers for me. Executing cables in chunky yarn (a la Heather Hoodie Vest) absolutely ruins my knitting digits for the night. After a project in chunky yarn, I'm ready for sock weight yarn again!
Not coincidentally I am currently knitting in chunky weight and am planning the next project in sock weight.
Knitter Know Thyself!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Join Together with the Band(wagon)

I am currently well underway with Shalom. I'm truly loving this knit. Love the yarn, love the pattern. Malabrigo Chunky in Hollyhock colorway. The pattern is well-written, but I don't care for the waist shaping decreases, and should I ever make this again, I would use a different method. They are just too visible for me, especially in this chunky yarn. They are located under the arm on the sides, so I suppose they won't show much in wear, but I will know they are there. Right now my arms stitches are sitting on waste yarn. Have not yet decided if I will include something of a sleeve, or just bind off.
I must admit that knitting with chunky yarn makes me appreciate fingering, sport, and worsted weight yarn. That being said, knitting with fingering, sport and worsted weight yarn makes me appreciate chunky yarn. So, while I am working on this chunky yarn sweater, I am envisioning projects requiring fingering or sport weight yarn.
The hankering for a hank of sock weight yarn has me planning to cast on for Clapotis after Shalom. I have some brilliant colorful Opal sock yarn that I think would knit up a beautiful Clapotis. I'm usually neither a scarf knitter nor wearer, but feel the need to jump on the Clapotis bandwagon. However, all the pictures of Clapotis have me longing for the kind of je ne sais quoi that wearing a large scarf affords the wearer. Perhaps I secretly aspire to be a scarf wearer. Perhaps I've never had the proper scarf(ves) to allow me to be a scarf wearer. Oh, the possibilities of a new handknit! And since my knitting lemming is outing, I'll admit I'm also considering Monkey by Cookie A. Yes, the consideration is largely based on the desire to join all the other projecters and come away with those particular socks under my belt.
How would this look as Clapotis?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

General Springiness

Despite today's cold temperatures, and the general "not niceness" of my Spring Break weather, spring is trying to burst forth. The Stella d'Oro are popping up in Stella's memorial garden. Last year I put in three plants and they were beautiful, despite the "moon flower debacle".

What was the "moon flower debacle" you ask? I planted 4-6 seeds of moon flowers on the side of the house with two lovely cast iron trellises for them to climb. Before the summer ended, the moon flowers completely took over the side of the house, grew up under the siding and came out at the top of the house, inundated the central air conditioner and shut it down, requiring a service call, attempted to enter the garage, and choked out basically everything in its path! My mom puts in a few moon flower seeds every year and they climb singly or in pairs up her trellis and bring forth flowers in the evening. Our plants were like a science experiment gone horribly awry. Plant craziness. I had to cut them back every week so that they wouldn't consume the Stellas. In this picture, you can't even see the trellises anymore, they are so buried in depths of moon flower vines! Mom's moon flowers not only don't take over the trellis, but they don't creep along the ground and form ground cover. These vines were wrapping around themselves, 6 vines strongs.

They were a welcome sight to the neighborhood, as people I had never met approached me and complimented the lush greenness of this side of the house. Our house is at the bottom of a bit of a hill and apparently the people who owned the house prior to us kept construction materials propped against this side of the house, which was not a lovely sight when coming down the hill. (can you see the little Stella getting choked out?)

Don't get me wrong, the moon flowers were gorgeous and it was great fun to go out at dusk and watch the buds open, but there was a creepiness to the overwhelming way in which they grew and took over. Call me creepy, but I'm honestly considering planting them again this year!
Isn't that a fabulous flower:

See this little beauty? I bought two of these dwarf viburnum bushes last spring and planted them in the back yard. I anticipated color change in the fall, and red berries in the winter. I forgot about the berries, only to remember when the plants were completely drifted over in the blizzard. This week while I was touring my landscape, I noticed that the viburnum, both of them, were completely pruned. Now, I know I did not prune them because not only was a I looking forward to the winter berries, but also because they were not to be pruned the first few years. Terry did not prune them either. They are definitely pruned, these are clean, pruning cuts, not animal chewing or snapping from winter precipitation. After discussion with several people about this puzzler, we have come to the conclusion that someone entered the yard and pruned them for the winter berries, which are lovely and in high demand for winter floral arrangements. Can you believe that? Who would enter someone's yard and cut their bushes? We are hoping that the viburnum are not damaged and that they actually produce flowers this spring. Next fall when I return to work, I will be placing a sign and a camera to ward off evil-doers. We might even cage them. I am absolutely stunned that anyone would have the nerve to do that! Wow.

I'll keep you posted as to how they do.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Look What's On My Needles!

I had started to disbelieve that Shalom would ever make it onto my needles.
I even had plans in my head for a different project altogether to be cast on. And then I spotted the lovely Malabrigo chunky ball of yarn in its spring color loveliness, sitting there in the over the closet door shoe organizer (everyone does that, right? Stores balls of yarn in shoe pockets?)
Isn't it lovely!?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

My Kind of Spring Break Knitting! FO

I attended a spring break Stitch n Bitch with some friends today. Was a very fun session! There were only four of us; one of us knit (me), one crocheted, one learned to crochet (from the other) and one of us did needlepoint. We ate cookies and crab salad and worked away on our projects. I finished My Kind of Saturday:
I was even able to do lacework while chatting with the gals! Kudos to me! I had a bit of ladder at the beginning of the round. Hmmm? That doesn't happen to me. But I remembered it happened at the toe decreased on my Pour Moi! socks. Then it hit me...cotton yarn and stainless steel needles. I never get gauge with that combination, due to the slickeriness (my own word, thank you very much) of the cotton on stainless steel. I wasn't too far off on gauge and wasn't concerned as this was a cowl, but now I think it contributed to the ladder. Climb that ladder right up to the brain and implant that bit of self-knowledge for further reference! It might not drape exactly as it would with the additional 12 rows of stockinette (the first 6 of which were left out inadvertently - the last 6 intentionally). Mid-way into the lace pattern, I realized I omitted the stockinette that immediately follows the border. I just couldn't stomach the idea of frogging back all that lace at 120 stitches on the needles! The final set of stockinette was left out intentionally to make the pattern symmetrical! I'm calling it a design element change, rather than a big, fat mistake! And Angela made her first crochet project, start to finish, today! A lovely little variegated black and white coaster. And she was so proud of herself, and we of her!!! Welcome to the fiber arts, Angela!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Kind of Saturday

We took a small road trip this weekend to visit the Ps. The added bonus was time with my brother and his wife as well. While the ladies went shopping, the men went fishing.
Despite the cold temperatures on the Mississippi River, the men toughed it out.
The poles are minding themselves down on the bank. "should we head down to the bank, or over to what the young one has going?"
The youngest of the men understands the need for warmth (and has a penchant to burn things). When the ladies arrive, he is creating fire.
With afghans from the trunk, we huddle by the fire.
And now I'm home and it was a wonderful weekend with family. My kind of Saturday is surrounded by those I love. Speaking of My Kind of Saturday, when little owl (Skeeter, as I call him), came off the needles, I was all prepared to cast on Shalom, which we all know I have been planning to start for MONTHS! But the weather has been lovely, and the day of Skeeter's arrival was especially so. Therefore, the needles were requiring a springtime knit. Thus, My Kind of Saturday, by irishgirlieknits, being knit with Kollage 100% recycled jeans yarn Riveting.
This is my kind of springtime knit!
The yarn feels a bit scratchy right now, but am hoping it's like a pair of jeans and softens after a run through the washer and dryer! p.s. - I am officially on spring break!!!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Fly Away!

Little Owl is finished. The sun was out today and he got his first taste of fresh air and sunshine and trees! Isn't he a cutie? This is for grandbaby boy's birthday, so I can enjoy him for a couple weeks before he has to fly away to a new home. If he were mine, I'd name him Skeeter.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Prayers for Japan

I have several hits a week on my blog from readers in Japan. To my readers in Japan I offer my prayers and best wishes. May you and those you love be held in safety!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

True Love

This is a tale of two kitties (plus one). I met the man of my dreams and I am here to tell you two of the reasons why he is the man of my dreams. At the time we blended households, he had two cats and I had three. We have since lost his girl and mine and now we have three boy kitties. Boots owned the man before I and Boots is a fabulous cat who loves the hand-knits. What more could you want from a cat? Meeting a man who lived with cats was selling point number one. Boots is a very normal kitty cat. He likes high spaces, plays in a normal cat manner, bathes himself normally, talks to birds and other assorted outside critters who happen into view in windows. He enjoys the petting, but is not clingy. Now my two boys on the other hand...
Toivo loves the loving. Toivo is a big boy kitty and a big boy baby! Toivo has never liked men until we met the man. At bedtime, he has taken to leaning into the man and demanding loving. Sometimes so demanding that he licks the armpit of the man. Ewww. The man tolerates this. Not only tolerates it, but situates himself just so. Every. Single. Night. He talks to Toivo and fusses on him and loves on him until Toivo, until the cat gets too warm and wanders to the end of the bed. Toivo gets just as much loving as he wants. From the man. Every. Single. Night. Heimo is a whole 'nuther story. He has two interests in life. His mama and his toys. He has a million jingly ball toys. He plays with them and part of the game is to put them under the couch and then talk to everyone (in his little insistent hum), whilst looking under the couch. If a human gets up and heads for the broom closet, Heimo falls right into step and then leads them back to the couch, waiting for the ball to come back out from its hiding place. Then, he expects the human to chuck the ball down the stairs, bouncing it off of the wall so that it skips and jumps in proper chasing fashion. If you happen to chuck the ball wrong and it doesn't, in fact, skip and jump in proper chasing fashion, he will watch the ball tumble down the stairs, watch it land and then look up at you and yell. Despite the fact that there are a million of these jingle balls in the house in only four different colors, he will have a favorite ball for the day and that is the only one he will chase. You can try to fool with him by picking up a same colored jingly ball. He will not be fooled. He knows which ball is which. He will pester and hum until you find that ball. You will immediately know you've found the ball, as he will perk up and run for the stairs in anticipation. (yes, people, I am describing a cat!).
Why is this a reason I love this man of mine? He will talk to Heimo, get the broom, get down on all fours, retrieve the ball, chuck it down the stairs, and do that over and over as Heimo returns up the stairs with the ball. I've watched him, this man I love so dearly, set his laptop down, pick up Heimo's ball, chuck it down the stairs in proper ball chasing fashion and return to the couch to his laptop with narry a cross word for a goofy, obssessed cat!
I am one lucky woman!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Change of Ownership

We had babysitting duties this weekend. Grandpa tried his hat on baby boy.
So Grandma had to one up him! This one definitely works better!

The shower hat now has a completely different head to warm, but it's lovely on him! No matter, I'll knit another before the shower.

Baby boy has a birthday coming up and grandma has begun this:

It's Little Owls Version Two from KnitSimple 2010 Holiday Issue. His first birthday is at the end of the month, so I'll do the wings, eyes, beak and feet later. Must knit another baby hat for this week's shower! Shalom will have to wait until another day to grace my needles.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Et Voila!

Chausettes! Pour! Moi! Socks! For! Me!
He was actually licking them! And today's project... Hat for a baby shower from Itty Bitty Hats.
Plan to cast on Shalom tomorrow with Malabrigo Chunky.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Wanderlust and Dwindling Numbers

Yesterday we attended the funeral for my Mummu. Heartbreaking.
On the drive home, instead of knitting, I regalled my man with tales of my family, immediate and extended. She had a beautiful obituary, but there was a detail in there that really stood out with me. Mummu had six children and 16 grandchildren. I am the youngest (I do believe) of the grandchildren. I am in my mid-40s. The next statistic was that there are 8 great-grandchildren. (and one beautiful little great-great grandchild) I do believe that generally speaking, the generations grow over time. Six to sixteen to eight? I examined that and realized that relatively few of the grandchildren had children themselves. That seems odd to me. Only three of the original siblings have grandchildren. My father is not one of them. The man and I examined that. He pointed out to me that he had had a conversation with my dad and asked him when he left home, to which dad replied "the day after I graduated from high school I climbed on a train". I know that I, too, headed off for adventure shortly after my college graduation, choosing adventure, experience and opportunity over settling down with a family. Many of us cousins have apparently gone that route in our lives. I stated that I felt these statistics were oddly high for one family. It was my man who pointed out that I originate from adventurers. My grandfather left Finland to seek adventure, experience and opportunity. My Mummu's family left Finland to seek adventure, experience and opportunity. I come from a long line of this. It all makes sense when viewed through that looking glass. Nothing wrong with that (though the thought that the family line is diminishing).
There has been knitting. On Valentine's Day I finished the man's slippers, which he loves. He could barely wait for the felt to dry, checking them daily. They are now on his feet. Unfortunately, they are not a perfect pair to this knitter's eyes. At the conclusion of Bev Galeskas pattern, there is the option, when joining, to knit a bumper or not. Apparently, I knit the bumper on one and not on the other. Followed two different sets of directions. Both involve a three needle join and bind-off, so I didn't immediately realize the difference in my knitting. But, no matter, the man does not care about the difference, stating that it is simply aesthetic and not functional, this bumper, and since it does not affect the fit of the clog, nor the walkability of them, he could care less.
I'm turning the heel of the second in my pour moi pair of socks. Had initially anticipated finishing them by the end of February. The long drive to and fro the U.P. did not involve quality knitting time, as generally would be my passenger habit. That is ok. I spent time conversing with my man and sharing stories of my clan. (These socks will be off the needles this week!) I had two days of driving and giving dedicated attention to the love of my life. Quality time I am thankful for and there are no regrets that I spent that time in the manner I did. I am lucky indeed to have him in my life; I am lucky indeed I am from the clan I am; I am lucky indeed that I have time, talent, inclination and funds to support my knitting habit.
All need attention from me.
I met family for the first time. What a joy to be connected to these people. And all because of our matriarch, who leaves us with each other.
(The Frederik VIII is the vessel Mummu sailed to arrive in the US at age 4)