Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Conundrum of the Best Kind

Look here and see what I got:

My Sundara Petals Collection Yarn and my Lorna's Laces from Grumperina!

I received the Sundara yarn yesterday, and let me say, once SoS is over, I highly recommend that you patronize her (and other indie yarn artists out there!). Her yarns are absolutely beautiful, and the package was put together with such care.

The colorway is Calla Lilly, and she definitely captured the colors perfectly. She also included a beautiful postcard, a lollipop, and a fantastic exclusive pattern.

Then, today, I received my Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock from Grumperina. She selected a beautiful colorway, called Cool. She also included a chocolate bar! Yum! Thanks so much, Kathy! I promptly ran to the yarn room and picked out a pattern: IK's Winter '05 Embossed Leaves.

So, my dilemma: which do I bring with me on vacation down the shore this week? Of course, I will bring that bbbbbblllllllaaaaaahhhhhhh Trekking sock for knitting while trekking, and I am (finally) chugging along satisfactorily on Orangina. But this is vacation! I want something fun, beautiful, indulgent. Calla Lilly calls to me, and there is something just so delicious about the exclusiveness of the yarn and the pattern. You see so many of the same things on blogs all the time -- it would be fun to have something unique. But I have lusted for Lorna's Laces for a long long time, and cannot imagine it marinating in my stash...and the colors are so perfect for a seaside vacation?

So do I bring Sundara's Calla Lilly? Or some cool Lorna's Laces?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

A Day Without Knitting is Like a Day without Sunshine

Thanks for all the kind word of support after my last post. Mr. S. even assured me, totally unprovoked, that my knitting would be better tomorrow.

As many of you on the East Coast are, we are experiencing days of deluges. I decided to take advantage of these rainy days, and armed with the advice of my good friends Sally and Ann Marie (these are actual friends from my actual knitting group), and put aside the knitting and pursue some other creative outlets.

I am not, at heart, a crafty person, despite the knitting obsession. I do not do lots of craft projects with the kids. I do not make all my holiday gifts. I do not sew, quilt, paint, stamp, decoupage, or scrapbook. In fact, I have been a stressed out because I have been recruited to be the craft coordinator for the monthly meeting of my MOMs club. Never mind my extreme ambivalence for the MOMs Club in general...but these ladies have really asked the wrong person if they want anything more than crayons and glue sticks. Maybe a foamie-craft. That's about as crafty as I get.

However, my general lack of natural craftiness does not keep me from hoarding craft supplies, and purchasing things with the intent of making something with them someday. So in the spirit of Project Spectrum and Summer of Stash, I decided to dig through some of these craft supplies lurking in the closet and see what I could make. The final products did require one trip to the craft-o-rama, but many of the supplies were on hand to make the following:

Ribbon belts

Top to bottom:
1 -- this was the inspiration. The ribbon is actually a vintage silk skinny tie that I bought on a vintage shopping expedition with my sister this Spring.
2 -- brown with pink polka dots for me -- please ignore my horribly wonky hand-stitching. I mean it when I say I am not crafty.
3 -- orange with white polka dots for my skinny little Rosebud. Before we went to the craft store, she declared she wanted her ribbon to be orange polka-dots, because orange is her favorite color. Was I relieved when we spotted this ribbon?!

Stitch Markers in Project Spectrum June colors (blue)

And now does anyone think that I really went a whole day without knitting?

A much improved Orangina, with much prettier stitch markers.

Knitta, please!
(scroll down to the show notes for episode 28)

Monday, June 26, 2006

Defeated by the Knitting

Sometimes, the knitter and the knitting dance, with lovely yarn and a satisfying pattern, and a project just flies through your fingers onto the needles, pleasurable progress.

This is the week the knitting kicked my ass.

Orangina is killing me. I just can't get the lace right. It is a simple, 9-stitch pattern. Easy to memorize. And I keep messing it up. Over and over again. I have ripped it countless times this week, casting on again, only to be defeated yet again by simple yarnovers. In my first few attempts, I did use stitch markers liberally to keep me straight, and it did help. But about four inches into the piece, I realized it would be too big. So, I ripped it out, and with hope and excitement, cast on for the smaller size, knowing that it would go even faster, since the rows were now shorter.

I decided to forgo the stitch markers this time, since I had memorized the pattern, and seemed to be moving along without trouble. The stitch markers are a pain in the ass for this project as the lace shifts over one stitch every row, so instead of simply slipping a marker, you must slip a stitch, remove the marker, slip the stitch back to the left hand needle, knit it, and the replace the SM. This seemed to be slowing me down, I thought, and pressed on.

And then I spent the rest of the week wading in the frog pond, missing a YO here, or a K there, and throwing off the whole pattern. I think I have ripped out the first three inches of the back of this sweater 6 times now.

This weekend, we went down the shore. I brought Orangina and little sister's crunchy granola Trekking sock with the intention of knitting the sock in the car, and Orangina in the house when I had some free time. See, sister's crunchy granola Trekking sock has been boring me to tears. Gray. Cream. And every possible variation of gray. And Cream. And these socks are knitted on US0s, so progress has been slow going, to say the least. I have been studiously avoiding said socks, but decided to buckle down and make some real progress before the Sundara and the Lorna's Laces arrive, never mind the two skeins of STR, a few hanks of koigu and other lovely sock yarns just screaming to be knitted. It is time to get the dull Trekking socks out of my life, once and for all.

200 miles round trip in the car would get me through the cuff of the first sock. I was convinced. And while I ended up doing the driving on the way down the shore (if I cannot knit while driving, Mr. S cannot Blackberry while he driving either), once I again ripped Orangina on Friday night, having been again vanquished by simple lace, I was truly hopeful that this weekend would see a finished Trekking sock, with the second sock being cast on immediately. The sock would come along on my overnight anniversary jaunt to NYC with Mr. S, with lots of progress. I even imagined my Trek Along With Me post, with my humble gray and cream crunchy granola sock logging many miles with me -- Rhode Island, down the shore, NYC...

Things were looking good. And then, Saturday night, I tried one on. At least, I tried to try one on.


Now my sister has lovely narrow feet and delicately slim ankles and calves. But this sock would not go over my heel. See, I picked a slipped-stitch ribbed pattern, that gave wonderful definition to the ribs, but the combination of both ribbing and slipping stitches made for a too-tight cuff.

So, the 6-inch long cuff got ripped, and now I am knitting the ribs without the slipped stitches.

And I am trying to knit Orangina with the only stitch markers that were available down the shore.

Please please please let this be a better week.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Preparing for Take Off ...

So we leave for Seattle/Vancouver Island in five days ... FIVE! Yikes! I'm most definitely NOT ready. (sleeping bags? hiking shoes? passports? do we need passports? oye ...) But my knitted things are ready! (priorities, you know) I will be visiting with one of my best friends and her family's presents are all done:

Knitted bowls from One Skein by Leigh Radford

Penobscot Scarf (from Interweave) and Double Cable Scarf (from One Skein)

The other gift is the starfish purse which I posted earlier -- that should take care of Mom, Dad, and two girls. The bowls are done in worsted weight brown sheep (I doubled the yarn and knit them on size 17 straight needles, then sewed them up rather than on 15 dpns with bulky weight). The Penobscot is done in Hemp for Knitting DK and the Double Cable is done in my new favorite yarn -- it is soooooooo incredible (I am serious, I want crates of this stuff, I mean after the SOS of course ...) -- Blue Sky Organic Cotton. The softest, most luxurious cotton ... dude, you've got to try it.

But now for the big question
I need recommendations for Yarn Stores!! Send me your favorites in Seattle, Victoria (BC), and Tofino (BC). Ask your Canadian friends and relatives, I need good souvenir yarn (it's one of my exceptions for SOSKAL, you know!).

It will be nice to get out of the US for a bit, visit our friendly, more peaceful neighbors to the North. Maybe I'll find some good options for watching the World Cup (it's hard to be a big soccer fan when you don't have cable, there only so many times I can take the kids to a sports bar at 9 in the morning ...).

Send me your Yarn Shop referrals!!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Buttonhole bags ... felted

Ok, now they are felted. This free pattern comes from the gals at Mason-Dixon Knitting. The pattern calls for bulky yarn on 15s. I used worsted on 11s, so my bags are a bit smaller. I already made another, and I'm fixing to cast on again. I'm telling you, these bags are addictive.

I plan to use one of the bags to make a "Get Knitting" kit for an upcoming neighborhood auction. I'm going to fill the bag with a basic knitting book, some previously loved needles and several balls of yarn from the stash. How's that for some busting?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Progress Report

My recent goal has been to wrap up some unfinished projects while trying to bust some stash. So here it goes -

Washrahgs ... gone! (No pics, you get the idea).
Simply Lovelies ... done!

Itty bitty kinda log cabin blanket made on request using Cotton Ease ... in service!

Easy criss-cross tank in white Cotton Ease to kick off the summer ... dooh! Taking a breaking after some ripping.

Finally, some unfelted buttonhole bags in Lambs Pride wool ... nice stress relief.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Me? A Winner?

Certainly you all read Grumperina?

Then you know that I won her contest for submitting the 200th Jaywalker to her gallery. Here is the 200th Jaywalker, which I knitted in December 2005, before the inception of our humble blog. They are knitted in Trekking XXL, in some blue colorway. I would have photographed them better, but I gave these babies away as a gift to my sister-in-law.

This is the first prize I have ever won in my life. My name was never picked for May Queen, I came in second for student body president. I have never won a raffle or won any of the big stuffed animals at the fair. I was eliminated in the first round of the spelling bee. I did once get a plaque with an apple on it, for being the Best First Year Teacher in my county. A dubious distinction if you ask me, and a lame prize for sure.

But on Sunday night, my luck finally turned around and I actually won Grumperina's contest! And the prize?


Of course, this presented a bit of a dilemma, as I explained to Her Grumpiness. As the founder of the SoSKAL, should I accept more yarn? Especially sock yarn, as this is the section of my stash most in need of busting. Especially since Sundara Petals Sock Club Yarn will be coming my way any day now, to further enhance the sock stash. I briefly considered the non-yarn options, but quickly rejected them (I already owned the books, my rosewood DPNs snapped on me).

But then I snapped back to reality and realized that Grumperina was GIVING ME LORNA'S LACES YARN.

So I humbly accepted my prize and am breathlessly awaiting the newest addition to the sock stash.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Green Gable Done

Here, as promised, are pics of my finished Green Gable.

Project Details:
Pattern: Green Gable from ZephyrStyle
Yarn: Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, Robin Egg Blue
Pattern Mods: I spread out the waist shaping and added more hip shaping. I lengthened it by at least 1.5", and used a tubular bind-off.
Thoughts, ramblings, and lessons learned:
- Knitting from the top down is still a revelation to me. I love having tugless tops, despite the number of times I frogged the final few inches of this sweater to get it just right.
- There are numerous problems with this pattern, most of them detailed exhaustively on the Green Gable Knit Along. The main issue is sizing, and there is no schematic to help a knitter out. Believe me, I will look a lot closer at patterns and think twice if there is no schematic whatsoever.
- I did learn the the tubular cast-off for this sweater. It was not quite as fiddly as others have described it, but having mastered EZ's Sewn Cast-Off, I guess I am accustomed to casting off with a darning needle. I am not totally in love with how it looks, and I am not certain it was worth it, but it is nice and stretchy, and it is nice to learn a new technique once in a while.

Of course, the best thing about this sweater, my reunion with Curlypurly, has already been detailed on the blog. But you can read my final posting on the knit along if you are so inclined.

PS -- Sally, the full face picture is for you, girl!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Wednesday WIP Report

Current Sock in Progress
: Trekking sock, US0's, slipped stitch rib pattern. It's for my sister, who has begun her masters in Envirnomental Science. Do these look sufficiently crunchy and ecological? Whaddya think, Kate?

Current Design Project
: My first design, a simple baby sundress. Gedifra California yarn. First attempt was promising, but must rework bodice. First step: find real baby to try it on.

Current swatch
Soon-to-be Current-Sweater in Progress:
Orangina on size 3s. Will swatch on size 2s to determine just how open I want the lace. Fit seems to be pretty easy to fudge with this clever sweater.

Latest Stash Busting: Sweet little baby socks in Fixation, using up most of the leftovers from Rosebud's knee socks, and my traditional post-sweater Dulaan knit. Pattern and yarn undetermined. Stash diving later.


Where is Green Gable, you ask?

DONE!! Notes later this week once I get some good photos.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Knitting That Stash ...

So I'm plugging away at the stash ...

One starfish purse from America Knits in All Hemp 06 Lilac.

And most of a Penobscot Scarf also in the Hemp. I've done much more work since I took this picture, I've only got one lace block left. I'm excited to see how it will smooth out when I block it.

I tried to make a felted bowl (Brown Sheep Kiwi) when I was just knitting around one night, but lo and behold, I have either a baby bowler or a big grassy mound for the kids' little gnomes to run on ...

I've done some small amount of work on the stole, but I've started Lucky in Rowan All Seasons Cotton Black Currant for a baby that should be arriving soon.

Here is what I have so far for The Dulaan Project -- Fantastic! Many thanks to Liz and Martha who knit the bulk of the hats!

Question about doing yarn overs in the Penobscot pattern: When I do the yo, sl 2 kwise as if to k2tog, k1, p2sso, I find that my yo is much looser than the corresponding yo on the other side of the decrease. It's not that noticible with the hemp and with this scarf, but I think if I were actually doing it in the silk, it would bother me. Do other people have issues with their yo not being uniform? Liz, yours were just great in your shawl ... is this something that you focused on?

Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Shawl Makes Her Debut

Last night was my sister's 30th birthday, and Mom took us to Le Bec-Fin to celebrate. Six courses later, I am still stuffed.

But the shawl made her debut, so, here she is:

The obligatory full-stretch shot.

A close up, highlighting the lovely color variations, and to see the stitch pattern up close. One of the nicest things about this shawl is that it nicely defines your shoulders. At least that's what my sister-in-law said.

A bit of the dresss, for those who care to see...

Oh, I'm just so gleefully proud of myself!!

The particulars:

Pattern: Weavers Wool Mini Shawl
Yarn: Blue Heron Yarns Rayon Metallic in Hibiscus
Pattern Mods and Notes: The pattern calls for knitting the shawl in garter; I used stockinette. This yarn is totally unlike anything I would normally choose. I mean, it has a gold thread running through it. It almost borders on (she leans in and whispers) novelty yarn. But the colors are just absolutely beautiful, and they do match the dress quite well, if I do say so myself. And the hand of the fabric is just wonderfully soft.

The pattern is incredibly simple, which still did not incubate me from many trips to the frog pond on this one. I took me a while to be able to read my lace (although this hardly qualifies as lace, in light of what other lace knitters have created), but once I figured it out, and made liberal use of lifelines throughout the project, it went much quicker.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

High School Hi-Jinx

I've noticed in the last day or two that there is a "Memories of High School" meme floating around on some knit blogs. I generally avoid memes, but at least felt the need to share something that happened last week (anyone bored of my stories can scroll down to knitting content...)

As you can see from the sidebar, I joined the Green Gable Knit Along. Now I'm sure readers have been wondering, "where the hell is Liz's Green Gable?" We'll get to that in a moment. Last week, though, a poster named Curlypurly posted her finished Green Gable with a cute photo of her in a black gable with elbow length sleeves. I loved the modification, and her blurb was something funny about her 3-year old causing some kind of unspeakable chaos as the pic was snapped. Then, she seemed awfully familiar to me.

Well, the truth is, I am one of those people who remembers people. I remember names, faces, both significant and chance-meeting people. It was a great skill to have as a teacher, but can be devastating when you realize that while you remember everyone, everyone doesn't always remember you...So truthfully, I recognized her right away --

It was Marnie! Marnie and I were friends in high school. Read her blog entry on the Weird Little Internet -- she encapsulates our friendship perfectly.

Of course, as high school friendships do, it ended before high school, and we hadn't seen or heard from each other since graduation day, er...17 years ago. So you can imagine the hesitation before I clicked SEND on the e-mail I sent. Even in blogland, it feels more than a little awkward to re-acquaint yourself with someone after a long long time.

But here we are now, blogging and knitting the same damn sweater simultaneously. You should see the sweater she knit for ALICE COOPER. Too cool for words.

Knitting Content:

So what did happen to Green Gable? She was done. I tried it on. Cast off was too tight. Weird bagging in the love-handle region. I must rip out several inches and re-knit the increases in the hip area. So she languishes, but will be revived this week.

In other knitting news, this post was supposed to be accompanied by a glorious picture of me in a pink party dress, standing on the porch of a cedar-shake-clad home overlooking the incredible Narragansett Bay, showing you my finished, lovely Mini-Shawl.

It rained horribly the whole time we were in RI, so no good shots. The only picture the shawl showed up in is the drinking-college-friends-with-bride shot. See?

Heads have been removed to protect the innocents. Note pink shawl, second from left.

But have no fear. The whole outfit will have its return this weekend when I have fancy dinner at fancy Philly 5 star Frenchy dinner yumminess. Pics to follow!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Rosebud's Watermelon Knee Socks

Take a picture of my feet, too, Mommy!

2 balls of Cascade Fixation
knee socks for skinny-legged, narrow-footed Rosebud
+ 550 miles in the car
Fastest socks ever!

Other project stats, if you care: knitted from toe-up using Wendy's generic pattern, short row toe and heel, EZ's sewn cast off.

Rosebud loves them and so do I -- I think I see more Fixation in my future, but after Summer of Stash! I have enough to make some tiny baby socks too.

Now to decide my car-knitting for my trip to Rhode Island this weekend...