Tuesday, January 30, 2007

6 ° Mittens

When we last left off, I was on my exciting jaunt with Christine. But there was much more fun (and yarn) in store for the weekend. On Friday, Pea and I packed up for a little get-away in upstate Connecticut. It was his Christmas present and I was glad the winter had been mild, because he loves to go hiking when we're away.

Of course, I'm run by Murphy's Law, so it was no surprise that this weekend brought the coldest weather we've seen all year. Although we didn't let it spoil our weekend, hiking was definitely out!! Also out were my Fetching mitts. When it's 6 degrees, bare fingers just don't cut it.

Luckily, there happened to be a couple of great yarn stores in the area, The Village Sheep and Enchanting Yarns & Things. We set out on a quest for yarn and a pattern for mittens. The yarn was an easy choice when I fell in love with some beautiful Manos del Uruguay. I'd never knit with this yarn before, but had heard great things about it. I sure wasn't disappointed!!

When I started to look for a pattern, a funny thought hit me. Maybe I didn't need a pattern. Mittens are pretty basic, right? I've knit tons of socks and a few Fetchings. How different can a pair of mittens be? So armed with my new Manos, some DPNs, a tape measure and a note-pad, I created these!!

6 ° Mittens
Cast On: January 26, 2007
Completed: January 28, 2007
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay, colorway 105
Needles: Inox US8 DPN's

I had such a good time writing my little pattern for these mittens. They knit up in a flash, and I was extra proud that I took the time to work out my own pattern !! I certainly have no aspirations of become a knitting designer, but I've typed up this little pattern in case any of you would like to try it! Click here for pdf file. I'll link it in my sidebar too. And if you knit it up, please let me know what you think. I'd love to see a picture of your mittens!!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Busy Girl = Bad Blogger

Look what happens when things get busy around here. I forget all about my blog and my blog-pals. Of course, that's really not true. I haven't had much time for posting, reading, commenting and e-mailing, but I have been thinking about my blog pals while I was away.

So, what have I been up to? Well, the four-day whirlwind started on Thursday, with a last minute trip to NYC. On Wednesday, I read a post by my "long lost twin sister" Christine about how she'd be flying into NYC to do a deposition and would have some free time before her evening flight. Christine and I refer to ourselves as twins because we have so much in common it's a wonder we aren't the same person. We are Geminis, who's guys share a birthday. We both started dating our honeys on June 26th. We love dachshunds - although I lose major points for not having one and telling Pea he can't have a dog. There is so much more we share, but it would make the post too long, so I'll just say again, we are twins. So how could I not jump on the opportunity to hop on a train and spend the afternoon with her!!!

As luck would have it, her deposition was finished in record time and she was waiting for me in Grand Central, flagging me down with our super secret twin signal (waving her sock in progress around so I could spot her more quickly!!!). It was really weird to realize that we were meeting for the first time, since I feel like I've known her for years.

Because I am a terrible tour guide and also because we were somewhat short on time, we only hit one yarn store. As you can see on the left, it was packed with yarn, so I think Christine wasn't too disappointed. This is The Yarn Connection on Madison Avenue, and it is well worth the trip. The somewhat small space was stuffed with sock yarns, sale yarns, wool yarns, cotton yarns, needles, notions, books, patterns, and a great selection of Christine's favorite crack Rowan Kidsilk Haze and more!!! The staff could not have been nicer, asking all about us and making a big deal out of our blogger story. They offered to help when needed, but left us free to pet the yarn and talk non-stop. As Christine said, they must have been very thankful to have the silence back when we left!

Surprisingly, we were both pretty happy to look and touch but not buy (much). Christine is stash-a-longing and was limited to sock yarn only. I'm also supposed to be on a self-inflicted yarn famine due to 1) the hugeness of my current stash and 2) the fact that I don't have a job or much room in the budget. We both managed to behave (although I may not have been so strong on the rest of my weekend - Christine, I needed your good influence with me when I went to more yarn stores!!!) We each limited ourselves to trying the new Tofutsies sock yarn. How can you resist a brand new, state-of-the-art (by which I mean crab and shrimp shell blend) yarn??? It Swept Me Off My Feet!!

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Miles and miles and miles . . . .

Nope, I'm not talking about how far I've walked for Runagogo - although today I did pass my personal goal of 35 miles for January!! I'm not even talking about how much sock yarn is in my stash! What I'm talking about is how far it feels like I've knit this Bejeweled scarf!!!

I finished my second ball of yarn last night. I'm only slightly over 50% done. I'm thinking it's going to take much more yarn than the 270 called for in the pattern. I'm sure that's because *gasp* I don't swatch for scarves. No worries though, I love how it's coming along, and there are three more balls of yarn on stand-by waiting to be put to use.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

It fits!! It fits!!!

All I have for you right now are some crappy mirror shots, but look!!

It fits!! Here are the stats.

Cast On: 7 July 2006
Completed: 15 January 2007
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine - Cherry
Needles: Addi Natura 24" size 4 (3.5 mm)

This pattern was very easy to follow, and I would definitely knit it again. I should have made the body a little bit longer and I'm not crazy about how the picots roll, even after a thorough blocking. When I knit my next one, I'm going to do the a straight neck instead, perhaps with a little ribbing. These little cotton tops are great for me to wear year-round when we go to ballroom dance classes and practices.

This is only the second adult-sized garment I have knit. I feel sure that I still have a lot to learn, but I guess I'll get there eventually. After all, practice makes perfect. (At least, I hope so!!!)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

From the depths of the WIP basket

Sunday morning I dove deep into the WIP basket and came up with this.

It had been sent for a time-out because after trying to finish the picot bottom twice, with two different techniques, it still looked like crap. So, I set about ripping back once more. Then, I re-knit the picot and tried the "tack down the live stitches" method. It worked like a charm, and on Monday morning I was ready to tackle the sleeves. Hurrah for tiny "sleeves", because on Monday afternoon . . .

we had blocking!!!!

The bad news is that we've had damp, rainy weather that hasn't been conducive to drying a FO. Luckily, yesterday and today have been dry and cold, so it's almost dry now. I'll have a modeled for picture for you in the next post - provided it fits me. I think it will, the pre-blocking fit was very good, just a little snug. Hopefully the yarn bloomed just the right amount for a perfect post-block fit!!

Monday, January 15, 2007

Point / Doublepoint

I feel like my blog has become pretty boring lately. Nothing but aimless rambling and a few pictures of the same old projects, with only an inch or so knitted on. So today, I have a special presentation for you. You've heard of Point/Conterpoint? Well, I am happy to bring you "Point/Doublepoint", with our hosts, (mostly) Self-Taught Knitter and Clover DPN. Our topic today, Yarn Addiction, or "When a Pretty Stash becomes a Problem".

(mostly) Self-Taught Knitter: Clover, welcome to the blog.
Clover DPN: Thank you, I'm happy to be here.

(m)S-TK: Yarn addiction and excessive stashes seem to be a hot topic in blog-land these days. Why do you think that is?
CDPN: Well, yarn addictions build slowly over time. It starts with a skein here and a ball there, a pretty hank of sock yarn. Next thing the knitter knows, she is finding yarns she can't remember buying, and running into major yarn storage problems. The new year seems to be the perfect time to face this addiction head on and do something about it.

(m)S-TK: So what you're saying is, a knitter can find themselves deep in the throws of a yarn addiction before they even realize they have a problem.
CDPN: Right you are. Yarn addictions are silent and quick. You often don't realize you have a problem until you find yourself choosing to eat Raman Noodles for a week and spending your grocery budget on lace-weight silk.

(m)S-TK: How can one identify a yarn addiction?
CDPN: My advice is to set up a spreadsheet and catalog your stash. This way, one glance will tell you exactly what you have.

(m)S-TK: Oh yes, I've done that. It's a great organizational tool!
CDPN: Did you find yarns you didn't even know you had.

(m)S-TK: Ummm, well, maybe a couple. Not many though.
CDPN: That's the first sign. Once your spreadsheet is complete, calculate the total yardage and see if the number is much bigger than you expected.

(m)S-TK: (defensively) Yeah, so, mine was. I'm sure that's normal though, right?
CDPN: There is no room for "normal" when dealing with yarn addiction. Did you then convert your yarn yardage into miles? What was that number.

(m)S-TK: Now, come on, Clover, that's quite a personal question. It's like asking my age or my weight.
CDPN: It sounds like you feel you have something to hide. Does the number embarrass you?

(m)S-TK: Well, maybe it was a bit larger than I expected, but I certainly don't have a stash problem!!!!!
CDPN: Jane Karen, you ignorant slut yarn floozy!!! You are in the deepest throws of a yarn addiction! I had a peek at your spreadsheet, and we both know you could spend almost a month knitting a mile of yarn a day and still have some stash left over. My advice to you, admit you have a problem and get into a stash-along program immediately!!

(m)S-TK: Now listen hear, you pointy headed twig, those stash-alongs are madness! No yarn buying for months at a time? Some with only one free day during the entire span. Are you crazy? No knitter could live with that!!
CDPN: Yes, any knitter can! Plenty of knitters are signing up and can only benefit from this "group therapy". I can help you through it.

(m)S-TK: Pthhhhhhbbbtttttt. I don't need your stinking help. I'm just fine. I'll try to knit more for my stash, yes, but I'm not signing up for any crazy yarn diet!!
CDPN: Oh Karen, until you face your demons and admit you have a problem, there is nothing I can do to help you.

(m)S-TK: Well, you know what, I think we're out of time for today. Clover, uuuhh, (mumbles sarcastically) thanks for your time.
CDPN: I only wish I could have done more to help you.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Be the needle, not the yarn.

Last week was our first ballroom dance lesson with our new teacher. Our regular teacher moved to Atlanta and we miss him terribly, but we are happy to be taking lessons with our new teacher too. Pea sometimes would have lessons with her while I danced with our old teacher, and we both think she's great. Our old teacher used to work primarily on teaching us new steps, while our new teacher is putting the emphasis on improving our technique - which we really, really need!!

One of the first things she zeroed in on was my posture. I've always had terrible posture. She was trying to relate dancing to other activities, asking me what sports I played in high school. Sports - me?? That's just laughable - I barely have enough coordination to walk around the house without hurting myself. So she asked if I swam. Ummm, no. So she just settled by telling me the best place to start is to think about keeping my b00bs up. Yeah, Pea liked that advice.

Next we started to work on spins. Again, due to the lack of coordination, my spins are always wobbly and off balance. She pointed out that posture is very important here too. Her example was this: "Think about trying to spin a piece of string. Doesn't work, right? Now think about trying to spin a stick. Much easier, right? So don't hunch over, stand straight and it will be easier to spin." To which a huge light bulb went off in my head! I get it!! BE THE KNITTING NEEDLE, NOT THE YARN!!! This I can relate too! She loved the analogy too, and wrote it in our folder for inspiration!

Now that I've bonded with my knitting needles and gained some new found respect for them, they seem to be working extra hard for me. After finishing the Footies for Holiday Head-Start, we dove into projects for the Not A Gift KAL. The sock I started Christmas morning is coming along.

I'm not sure how long I'm going to make the cuff, but I have a lot of yarn left. I guess I'll just keep going until I'm tired of it.

Bejeweled has grown quite a bit since we last saw her also.

With her, though, I've hit the dreaded black hole where you knit, knit, knit, knit, knit and the darn thing doesn't grow. I did finish the first ball of yarn last night and start the second, so I must be making progress somewhere, right?

What you see out the window are the new spindles on our front porch (the picture would have worked better if it hadn't been so overcast all day). Lynne had just asked me today how our renovations are coming. I'm happy to say they are, at long last, DONE!! The crew just has to come back one more time for final clean-up, and then I'll snap some pictures to show you!!!

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My first 2007 FO!!

Yesterday I finished knitting up my Cabled Footies!!

Cabled Footies from One Skein
Cast on: 4 January 2007
Completed: 10 January 2007
Wool-Ease Worsted - 138 Cranberry, less than one skein
Plymouth Bamboo size 8 DPN's

The pattern calls for about 225 yards of yarn, and Wool-Ease has 197 yards per skein. I bought three, thinking I could make two pairs and still have a good amount left over for some other project. I knit the smallest size, but added one inch to the cuff and still used less than one skein of yarn. So I've got plenty left over to add to the ever growing stash.

My only complaint is that I don't like the pointy toe. You decrease the toe until you have a total of eight stitches left. I knew it would be pointy, but I did it anyway. The don't look bad on the foot, but next time will knit the foot a little longer and only work the toe down to 16 or 18 stitches instead of 8.

Hurrah for socks knit in worsted yarn on size 8's!! These are a great quick gift knitting project, and they are my first FO for Holiday Headstart. They also count as my January socks for Sock a Month 2!! Whoppie . . . now on to some knitting for ME!!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Prize Mail!!!

As I pulled out of the driveway yesterday on my way to the grocery store, I saw Mr. Mailman. And I saw Mr. Mailman had put a package in my mailbox. It took all of my willpower to leave it there and go for the groceries, but I did it.

However, the minute I got home (even before I put all of the cold stuff away), I ran to the mailbox for my package. My assumption was correct, and it was my prize from Zonda's Blogiversary contest!!! I'm sure I unintentionally made it difficult for her, because when she asked my yarn type and color preferences, I told her I'd be thrilled with anything. It's true though - I don't have strong dislikes for any colors, and I love all sorts of yarns. So I was excited to see what surprise might be in the package!!

She could not have made a better choice!! The yarn you see there is Fraises des Boise from Scout's Swag! Isn't it gorgeous?? She also included a cute little notepad, some Burt's Bee's cuticle cream, and some Burt's Bee's lip balm. There was also a pretty knitting note-card (which she may have made herself??), but I forgot to grab it off m desk and put it in the picture. Thank you so much, Zonda!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Knit-A-Long and Walk-A-Long

I seem to be quite the little joiner lately. A few posts ago I mentioned It's not a Gift. But we all know I'm a walking contradiction, so I've also joined Holiday Headstart, which is the complete opposite of It's not a Gift. The idea behind Holiday Headstart is that you craft (it's not purely a KAL) one smallish quick gift each month (or a large one, if you are very ambitious), and by December 2007 you will have twelve holiday gifts ready to go! I loved the idea behind this and I'm already half-way done with my first quick gift.

This is one Cabled Footie from One Skein, done in Wool-Ease because the intended recipient has two small children and can't be expected to make sure one pair of slipper-socks doesn't get tossed into the dryer and turned into booties for the little one! I hope to get the second footie cast on today and have it knocked out some time tomorrow. I can hardly imagine having a Christmas gift for NEXT Christmas finished in January!

Last month another Knit-A-Long caught my eye, and since I had already purchased the pattern there seemed no reason not to join the Bejeweled fun. On New Year's Day I cast on with the rest of the KALers, but haven't seemed to find the time to knit much more on it since then.

It's a fun and easily memorized pattern, so it will make the perfect mindless knitting companion for evenings in front of the television. Have you noticed I seem partial to the cranberry color lately? This yarn was pulled from my stash. Although I wasn't the least bit tempted to join any official Stash-A-Longs, I would like to make an effort to use up some of the miles and miles of yarn I seem to have accumulated.

Speaking of miles, I'm sure you've noticed my new little ticker above the posts. I am one of the hundreds of knitters who is pledging to walk 100 Miles by April 1st with Runagogo. I shamelessly stole the ticker idea from Elizabeth!! I think having the ticker up there will make me more accountable for my miles. I've been having some trouble getting motivated lately, so I encourage you all to nag me shamelessly if you see those miles stalling!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

How weird am I??

Can you stand one more list of weird things? This meme has been all over blog-land, and I've been tagged twice, so it's about time I get my weirdness posted. (Even though I've been tagged twice, I'm not posting twelve things. If I posted that many weird habits, I may scare you all off!!) I must admit, this is one meme I haven't tired of reading - I've been strangely fascinated by every one's weird habits. I guess it makes me feel better about mine. So here we go!!

Six weird things about me:

  1. I have never outgrown my childhood fear of escalators. I'm pretty okay on the up ones, but have big problems with the down ones. I stand at the top with my foot out, and about six steps pass by before I can work up the courage to get on.
  2. I can't take the "top one" of anything. Plates on the buffet table, magazines on the rack, boxes of cereal, cartons of milk, bags of salad greens. Doesn't matter - I always dig for the second or third.
  3. Brushing my teeth makes me gag. Flossing makes me gag too. Every morning and every night, I gag through my tooth cleaning regime. On a really bad day . . . . well, I don't want to "over-share" . . . . but lets just say on a really bad day I have to start the tooth brushing process all over again.
  4. Immediately upon arriving in a hotel room, I must unpack all of my belongings and put them away. I also force Pea to do the same. The vacation does not being until everything is unpacked.
  5. I am really annoyed by noises. People popping their gum will send me over the edge. Ditto for slurping beverages and music I can hear through their earphones. Loud car radios get to me too. And when people pop bubble wrap, I have a melt-down.
  6. I've read many "weird thing" entries about people not being able to sleep unless the sheets and blankets are made up just so. I'm on board with that one, but here's another. I also can not sleep if the closet door is open. Nope, the closet door must be shut tight when we go to bed. Don't ask me why - but I guess it's to keep the monsters from escaping.
So there you go. Six ways I'm a freak, and I didn't even delve into my OCD cleaning stuff, like rearranging things in the dishwasher if they aren't put in just so! That stuff could take up a whole other post!!!!

I've lost track of who has and hasn't done this meme yet, so I'll refrain from tagging anyone because I'm pretty sure I'm the last one to do it. But if you haven't, please consider yourself tagged and let me know you'll be posting your list!!! I can't wait to come read it!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The end of the 2006 gift knitting!!

Happy New Year!! Hope everyone had fun. We always spend New Year's at the same friend's house with our close-knit group of pals. And yes, there absolutely was knitting!!! My friend Dave wanted me to teach him to knit, so I packed up assorted balls of yarn, some needles, and my copy of Stitch N Bitch. Unfortunately, his lesson lasted all of three minutes before he decided knitting was harder than he thought. I gifted the needles to him and loaned him the book, and he's promised to try again at home. I tried to make him take the yarn too, even though he said he has some at home. I hope it isn't acrylic. (Kidding - well, mostly.)

After the three minute knitting lesson ended, I spend another half-hour with my needles, finishing up my last Christmas knit. Poor Pea, his slippers were pushed to the bottom of the list because I lost so much secret knitting time when he was home sick before Christmas. But at least I got them finished before 2007!!

Aunt Maggie's Slippers
Cast On: 8 December 2006
Completed: 31 December 2006
Lion Wool-Ease - Wheat (402) and Forest Green Heather (180)
Clover Bamboo Straights, Size 9

Another recently finished Christmas knit was a pair of Fetchings for my best friend. These were finished the day before we exchanged gifts, and I was worried they might not dry overnight from their blocking. Luckily, they did, so they were wrapped and ready when I saw her!

Fetching from Knitty
Cast On: 21 December 2006
Completed: 29 December 2006
Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran - 300004
Clover Size 6 DPN's

It felt really good to get back into the old routine today. The house got a well needed cleaning after all of the holiday neglect. I was so happy to cook a nice (and healthy) dinner for tonight too. Pea wasn't too thrilled to be going back to work, but I think he made it through just fine!! As for me, I'm ready for some greedy knitting for myself now that the holidays are over. Looks like I'm not the only one!! (Click button for more info.)