Sunday, October 25, 2009

Punkin Snatchin' 09

We walked along the field on a brisk Autumnal day surveying the fallen. As far as the eyes could see, a testament to the battle so recently waged. In the distance, the warrior returns, triumphant, with the trophy held high....

But seriously, this weekend we went to the Pumpkin Patch and got ourselves some punkins. We made our way over to Eckerts, in Belleville, IL to find the perfect pumpkins for Halloween. Eckerts is really pretty fun since you get to ride on a trailer pulled by a tractor out to the patch and then walk among thousands of pumpkins and find the one that is just right for you. We had a really great time walking around a looking at all the options. Here's Franny with just a few to choose from.
And as you will see, everyone was victorious in the end in finding the right one.

The colors of the peach trees in the background were an amazing backdrop to a field of pumpkins. We spent some time in the Country Store after the ride back and I bought some Apple Butter, Pumpkin Butter, and an Apple Stollen we had for breakfast this morning. All-in-all it was a really great day.

So, what have I been knitting? Well, a variety of little things have been on my sticks lately. I've managed to end up with so many things in process that I'm now madly trying to work through several of them before I let myself start anything new. First is my current pair of socks. I only let myself knit one pair of socks at a time because I don't trust myself to finish the pair otherwise (the dreaded "second sock syndrome"). This pair is a plain jane toe up sock without much going on. I started it on the plane ride to see my mom and I didn't want to have to think while I was working on it. It's great travel knitting and I'm planning on taking it with me on the day trip I have tomorrow too. The really nice thing is I haven't had airport security even blink since the needles are so small. Kinda hard to be threatened by a glorified toothpick.

I have decided I really like toe up socks. I think I'm going to have to get Wendy Knits "Socks from the Toe Up" book and try out some of her patterns next.

I've also finally gotten back to my second full size sweater. I started this simple Raglan style cardigan but when I went to work on it a few weeks ago, I realized I had made a mistake about 12 rows back on one of the raglan increases. Well, it took me about a month to get up the nerve to pick it up and drop down 12 rows of raglan increase stitches and then figure out how to reconstruct them back up to the row I was on. This was less daunting to me than the idea of ripping out 12 full rows of stitches since each row is well over a hundred stitches. Once I actually got around to dropping those stitches it only took about an hour to get them all picked back up and get on my merry way. How cool?

I'm really enjoying the Cascade 200 yarn too. I haven't really used it a lot but I can see why it is a "workhorse" yarn for so many people. This particular color is Mallard and it is a really pretty heathered yarn. When you get up close you can see the pretty flecks of purple and it just has a nice depth. I can't wait to wear this sweater!

It's getting close to the holidays so I've been doing a bit of work for those too. I've decided I'm not really going to knit much for holiday gifts this year but there are a few special projects being planned. The first, and probably the most special, the a stocking for my niece. I don't know about you guys but when I was little, my grandma made me a Christmas Stocking that I still use to this day and it means more to me than most other things I own. Well, since Grandma is no longer with us and my mom is not really the "crafty" type, I decided I needed to make a stocking for Eva and carry on the tradition. I bought the yarn, Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, before I knew what pattern I might end up making with it. I figured at worst I would just to a random stripe pattern with it. However, while cruising the Webb's catalog, I came across the pattern for the Spotted Christmas Stocking and I decided to do that instead. It's been a good pattern so far because not only is it looking cute, but I'm learning new techniques. This is my first experience with an afterthought heel which is all I have left (it's going where you see the weird half stripe of green). I also learned how to do a knitted hem along the top of the stocking so that's pretty cool; two new techniques and a great present that I hope will be loved for a lot of years to come.

The last thing I have this week is a neat knitting heirloom I was gifted. My mother-in-law brought over a knitting bag that was her grandmother's and gifted it to me. It's in amazing condition and I am truly appreciative and honored. I hope great grandma Eva (funnily the same name as my niece) would be happy to know this bag made it to me. I can promise it will be used with love and hopefully for many a project. I think the cardigan shown above will have the honor of being the first project to be housed in the new bag. I'm excited to start using this piece of knitting history.

Well, time to get back to knitting. I hope you are doing the same. :)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Stormy Weather

The mood has been a bit sad around our house this week because we lost our beloved puppy "Weather" last Saturday, 10/3. Weather had been with us since 1998 when she did an impressive job dodging the dog catcher and jumping a friends fence to try and blend in with her dogs in the back yard and avoid capture. She was a beautiful spirit and impressive in her abilities to get what she wanted. She could climb a fence, hop boulders at the bottom of a waterfall, and when we went backpacking, she carried her own pack with her food and led the way on the trail. Weather lived a very full life until just these last few weeks and she definitely made our lives more full than we ever could have expected.

This is how I will always remember "The Best Trail Dog EVER!!"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

War Wounds & Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

What have I been up to, you ask? Well, less than usual I guess. First off, I will warn you this is an animal intensive post. So, why have I been up to less lately? Well, last Saturday morning as I was in the glow of just waking up when one of my dogs got spooked and started freaking out. Of course, this just got the other one started and next thing I know, I've got two dogs snarling at each other on the bed with me. I reached out blindly with sleep glazed eyes and managed to stick my hand directly into a mouth. Ouch! Those little teeth are sharp. Anyway, it all resulted in me with a giant finger for a few days, which makes knitting less than ideal. It didn't stop me though as you can see above. I was determined to get some wristers finished for my new step-daughter (that still sounds weird) and a little thing like a giant finger was not going to stop me. The good thing is I realized I really only use that finger for tensioning so it wasn't too bad.

On to the results. I based my wristers on the Leftover Mitts I found through Ravelry but I used the leftover Urchin yarn in combination with a solid corresponding black I had. Since I had the two colors, I just didn't start the cable until row 15 in the pattern and then I worked one extra twist in the cable pattern up the arm. I'm pleased with the results and so is Jess. (Try to hear Madonna's Vogue as you scroll through these photos)

I've also been working on some dishtowels I am trading for necklaces and earrings sets. I love bartering.

Other than those two things, I've made some progress on a pair of socks but I don't have any photos.

So what else has been going on? Well, my cat has been slightly traumatized. You see, he is very furry...

Or should I say "he was very furry..."

Or he could just be an alien...

Whatever he is, the other cats aren't sure what to think. Thank goodness this only temporary. He'll be back to normal before we know it. For now, he'll just have to deal with the furmiliation.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Who Woulda Thunk?

So, have you ever had a weekend where you know you're going to learn some amazing new things, but you really don't expect it to be about knitwear and yet when part of it is, it is so cool. OK, I know that was the run-on sentence from hell, but I've had one hell of a weekend. This weekend was spent meeting my step-daughter for the first time and she's 16 years old. Wow! Now I'm not going to get into my personal business on here so let's just say there were some circumstances that kept her out of the lives of my partner and me for the last 13 years but things have changed and she spent the entire Labor Day weekend with us.
Now, I can safely say I have a lot to learn about being a "mom" to a 16 year old. I did learn a few things this weekend though. I learned:
  1. I really prefer music where someone plays instruments, not a computer
  2. I didn't really like the fashion of the 80's in the 80's
  3. Blue eyeshadow can actually look pretty cute on some kids
  4. High school Algebra is a lot harder when you're 40

Well, I think you get the picture. But there was one thing that I was really surprised to learn and thus the reason I write this post. So let me take you back in time a bit...are you hearing Scooby Doo flashback noises? Good, we're almost there.

Seriously though, a number of months ago I decided to make the Urchin Hat by Ysolda. I love the look of it on the Ravelry project page and the construction looked interesting since short rows were pretty new to me so I decided to give it a go. I bought some Debbie Bliss yarn from my LYS and cast on. The hat went super quick and I loved it until I realized why it was going so quick; it was way too small.OK, time to try again. This time I want found some Rowan yarn called Spray from Webs and that was my next mistake. I loved knitting the hat but the yarn was way too bulky and the whole thing ended up much to stiff to be very wearable. Bummer.But alas, I am not one to be so easily deterred. As I said, I really enjoyed the knitting of the hat and I knew if I just found the right yarn, the hat would be great. So, back to Web's sale yarn to find some Rowan Chunky Print. I really like this yarn. The colors are pinks and charcoal greys and I just loved it. I got started right away on the hat and I think it was finished in maybe two nights. As I finished sewing in the last end, I placed it on my head and really...nope.

It sorta sucked. I loved the color and the look of it but it was just not working for me. I put it in a bag and really didn't think much more about it until this weekend.

This weekend Jessi asked me to see some of my knitting, and who am I to say no. I pulled out the bag of finished stuff I have in the corner and I came across the third knitted Urchin. I held it up to Jessi, she put it on her head and viola...something I never just looked darn cute on her. (ignore the 16 year old expression of near tolerance)
It really did look great on her and I really did learn something; sometimes you just have to find the right head for the hat.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Error of My Ways

So, as you may have noticed, I've slowed down a bit on the blog. Have I been knitting less? Not really. However, I have been doing a number of other things and I guess documenting my knitting hasn't really been one of them. I have been keeping up on Ravelry so I guess we know where my priorities are.

So you ask how my knitting has been going. Well, so-so I guess. You see, I have three projects I am actually actively working on right now. I have the simple Garter Rib socks out of Mini-Mochi for Steph: My version of the "My So-Called Scarf" pattern out of the hand dyed yarn with a color called Poison I bought from 100PureWool on Etsy.
And lastly my Cropped Raglan Sweater from a pattern on the Lion Brand website and in Knit n' Style April 2008. I don't even have a picture of this one yet but it's being worked with some pretty Cascade 220 Heathers.

So what's the problem you ask...I have made a mistake on each of these projects that has caused me to stop. What are my mistakes?
  • Steph's sock - time to turn the short row heel on the second sock and I'm getting big holes where I'm adding a stitch for the short row turn. I know that makes no sense to people who haven't knit a short row heel, and maybe even people who have. Sorry
  • My So-Called Scarf - I've managed to loss a stitch. I think I simply forgot one of the increases on the purl row before but I have to rip back and figure it out.
  • My Cardigan - I forgot one of the raglan increases...12 rows ago. I need to drop the 3 stitches of the raglan increase down the numerous rounds and try to add the YO I missed and then knit my way back up the stitches to where I am. I'm hoping to do this instead of ripping out the 250+ stitches in 12 rows of knitting and doing a "do-over."

So what is a girl to do when she has three projects being actively worked on and all of them have mistakes that must be fixed before she can continue? Well, start something else of course! In order to make sure I don't have to worry too much about mistake, I decided to get started on some dishtowels that I owe as part of a trade I've worked for some new jewelry. I went to Michael's last night a bought a bunch of kitchen cotton (and some other stuff for a Christmas gift but no need to talk about that just yet) and got started last night. I got the first towel done and now I just need to pick the next color to knit.

My next goal, to get the right mindset to sit down and fix my three errors and get on my way!!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Raindrops on Roses and Whiskers on Kittens...

These are a few of my favorite things...

Sunday mornings..Getting ready for a ride..
Best Buddies..
Darla laughing..
Real world color..
The view from one of my favorite spots on earth..
Something I've grown..
Something I just want to knit with right now..
(check out this Etsy shop to find more beautiful yarn from our local Dyeabolical)
And last but not least, something I've made worn by someone I love...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Feed Me!!

Check out what I found in the Lilac bush outside my window this evening.I found the nest about 3 weeks ago but I thought it had been abandoned. But then tonight I noticed the Papa Cardinal we've had as a regular visitor through the winter was sitting out on the branch, chirping, with a bit of food in his mouth. Then, being the detective that I am, I noticed him flying towards the "abandoned" nest and thought, duh, no so abandoned. As he flew in there I quickly spied a little head pop up to grab some grub. I grabbed my camera, snooped outside and shot a few pictures. How cute are these little guys?!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Little Things

On of the things I am spending more time thinking about in my life is the need to spend more time appreciating the little things. This sounds really cliche but if you really think about it, nothing could be more true. If we don't take the time to appreciate the little things in life that make us happy then how happy can we really be? The way I figure it, the more individual minutes you take to appreciate something that makes you happy, the more individual minutes you are actually happy in your life.

So here's the first "Little Thing" that made me happy these last couple of weeks. I got pictures of my niece in the Fiona Sundress I made for her. How could this sight not make an auntie happy?
I made this dress with some Peaches and Cream 100% Cotton yarn from my stash and I am just thrilled with how it turned out. I made the 18 month size and Eva is about 16 months right now so the sizing seems pretty good. She might even get two seasons out of it if she wears it as a top with little jeans or something next summer. She's got a little growing room but I think it looks great!
Then again, what wouldn't look cute on that little girl?
I also took some time to appreciate some beautiful handspun yarn one of my aunts gifted to me a while ago. I found this great pattern for the "Spring Cap" by Woolly Wormhead and I figured it would be a great fit for the yarn. Well, what do you think?
I am really happy with it. If I do the hat pattern again, I will make it a bit taller than the 4" recommended to give it a little more slouch next time. The colors of the handspun really look great and make a subtle sort of striping pattern. Really cute!
Enjoying a little sunlight this past weekend I pulled out the pair of socks I finished a little while ago and gave them a photog session. Like most things, they look even better in the sun! (not to mention with feet in them).
I took a little time this week to appreciate the chaotic yet slightly hypnotic colors of the recycled sari silk yarn from my stash. I'm working on something making me think of a lot of little things but those will have to be shared in another post once the finished product is gifted.
I took a little time to learn a new technique. I have this great Mini Mochi yarn to make a pair of socks. I have one skein per sock and the skeins together are only 390 yds. The recipient of the socks has larger feet so I wanted to make sure I was making these socks as tall as possible without running out of yarn. Well, that means only one thing, start from the toe and knit your way up the leg until you run out of yarn. Cool, time to figure out how to do that. I found the "Lifestyle Toe Up Socks" recipe, so to speak, on Ravelry and I got started. I started by learning Judy's Magic Cast-On (surprisingly easy), increased for the toe and started my way up the foot using a garter rib pattern on the top of the sock.
It is pretty neat to be able to slip this on the foot and check it's progress as you move along. I was worried it was too big but when it was tried on, it seems to fit just right. Neat. The striping of the yarn is fantastic but it's a bit splitty and I might look for some needles with sharper points to use to finish these up.
I went to the zoo and saw this not-so-little Little Thing.
I love baby elephants! I could have watched this little guy play for hours.

How about a little pink to take your breath away?
I took a walk and came around the corner of one of the alleys and found this.
A much more pleasant smell than the usual found in the alleys and definitely beautiful.
And I took some time to remember those who've moved on and all the little things they took with them. I am dedicating time each day to appreciate these Little Things in life and I hope you do too.