Friday, August 24, 2012

Gratitude Friday and Gift Giving - Shawl

Friday snuck up on me this week, hence the delay in today's post.  Why did this happened you ask?  Well, I started a part time job at my son's Waldorf School.  I am now the Community Development
Coordinator, which is a fancy way of saying I run the school's store and coordinate volunteers for our school events.  It's the first official job outside the home that I've had in eight years.  Yes, eight years.  It's going to take some getting used to I think.  So, this week I am grateful for the following:

1)  Being able to contribute to my family's finances in a significant way.  Thus, allowing my son to stay on at his fabulous school.

2)  My husband.  Yes, I could put him on the list every week, but this week was special.  He helped me brush up my resume, references, and write a cover letter and bio - all things I haven't done in twelve years.

3) My new coworkers who have helped me feel extremely welcome and wanted.

I'm at a bit of standstill with my gifts as I am waiting for a delivery with the final piece needed for my friend Emily's gift.  Which means all I have left to show you today is a gift I made myself.  I call it a gift because it was a project I did just for fun with no particular use in mind.  I used the Curatio Shawl pattern designed by the talented Kirsten Kapur.  And for yarn, I used a large skein of Rowdy Girl Sock Yarn dyed with plants by my friend Judy also know as Mamajudes on Etsy.  You can see the finished product below.

I modified the pattern by only doing 1 repeat of the final lace pattern instead of 2, and I knit a larger section in garter stitch along the bottom edge.  Honestly, I made lots of mistakes in this shawl.  I think the multicolored yarn made it hard for me to keep my place.  That and I put this project down and picked it up a lot instead of knitting for long sections of time.  I still think it looks good enough to wear and probably the variegated yarn which gave me trouble also masks some of those mistakes.  
What gifts have you made for yourself lately?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

WIP Wednesday - Owl Sweater Part 2

Sorry I missed you all on Monday.  My son Sam had his 6th birthday party with friends and family the day before.  Which apparently sucked all the creative juices from me leaving me with nothing for blogging.  But, fun was had by all and that's the point right?  As you can see by the photos below I didn't listen to my rational self which said "Work on your husband's sweater vest" (a vest that he is so patiently waiting for I might add), but instead I listened to my knitter self which said "Finish the owl sweater - it'll be so quick."  So, I worked on my owl sweater and ran out of yarn with only the collar left to go.  Ack!  I then tried it on thinking of what to do next when I realized it was also too big.  Do I cry now? No (well, maybe a little).  I just frog down to the waist, as the lower torso fits just fine, and switch to a smaller needle size and start again.  Did I say start again?  Deep sigh inserted here.

What went wrong you may ask? Well a very basic thing went wrong.  Something that is so simple to do, but I always hate doing it.  Something you do right at the beginning of a project.  Have you guessed it yet?  Doing a swatch to get my gauge right.  I mean I did do a small swatch on straight needles, even though the pattern clearly states knitting a swatch in the round with circular needles.  What did I find? Yup, I was a a whole stitch off and that can add up to extra inches very quickly. 

Will I now go back to Dan's vest you may ask?  Well, to be honest with you all probably not.  I mean I got to see this owl thing through don't I?  
What project are you putting off this week?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

From the Stash - Artyarns

My stash is getting bigger with my plans for this years Christmas gifts.  Is this happening to you as well?  Today's yarn is earmarked for my husband Dan's gift of gloves.  I've always shied away from making gloves even though Dan prefers them over mittens.  Instead, I just keep making mittens for him and then he doesn't wear them.  Not the best cycle to be caught up in as it leaves us both disappointed.  It's the thought of all those double pointed needles needed for each individual finger that's kept me away.  But, now I've found a pattern from Meg Swansen called I-cord Gloves which has me thinking I might finally be able to tackle this accessory.  You see all the fingers are made from I-cords, which are then woven to the hand. 
Sounds simple right?

I found this yarn at my local yarn shop Skeins which is about 5 minutes from my house.  Artyarns Ultramerino 6 is a soft, soft merino yarn that is hand painted.  The colors match a hat I made for Dan sometime ago so much so that I'm wondering if it was the same colorway, but done on a worsted weight yarn?  I'll never know as I didn't save the previous label - sigh. The best thing about this yarn though is that it was on sale, and a sale yarn that I actually know what I going to knit with it is the best kind of yarn there is.

What great yarn deals have you found lately?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Gratitude Friday and Gift Giving - Mother's Day

Yes, Mother's Day was a while ago I know, but the finishing of the gifts just happened so I am including them in today's post.  My mom requested a purple and green hat to wear with her sage coat that she wears in the Fall and Spring.  She's a very matchy/matchy sort of person and all accessories must match her many coats.  This is fine by me as there is always something to make for her to fulfill this need.  

First, we glued ourselves to Etsy to find some hand spun yarn (I had made her a previous hat from hand spun yarn and she is now hooked) in the colors she wanted.  Etsy did not disappoint and we were able to find this colorway called "Clover" from Moondogswife.  It was a seductive blend of merino and silk - so incredibly soft!  Into the cart it went.

Next, we headed on over to Ravelry to find an appropriate pattern for the fingering weight yarn.  Hands down we both loved Bellefleur by Wooly Wormhead.  Beret styles are great if you tend to wear your long hair up like my mother; as there is ample room for your "bun" or 'twist" without your hair getting squashed flat.  

This pattern was very well written and was clear and concise.  That said, it was a difficult pattern for me and required ALL of my concentration.  There were many frogging moments when my mind wandered and I made mistakes.  I believe this was exacerbated by the multi colored yarn as it was hard to see where you were in the pattern, but this was what my mom asked for so I plugged away.  Actually, I became a bit obsessed with the hat and wouldn't touch any other knitting until I finished it (this is not at all like the normal me who jumps from project to project.)  When it was finally completed I must say I was mighty proud.  Below is my mom wearing minutes after I was finished.

I choose not to block it as my mother was perfectly content with how it was, and I didn't want to tempt fate and have it stretch out of shape.  My favorite element of the hat is the baby cable that works it's way from the ribbing all the way to the center.  So sweet.  My mother being a gardener likes the leaf motif the best.

There was still a fair amount of yarn left, and as I hate to let yarn bits just sit around I decided to make what I like to call a scarflette.  A scarflette is a narrow scarf that usually only makes it around your neck to tie once much like they wore scarves in the 1950's.  This one actually came out longer then I was anticipating making it around her neck twice.  The pattern was simply a one row pattern I made up.   
It came out rather pretty even if I do say so myself.

Now, onto my Gratitude List for the week:

1) The cooler weather we are experiencing in Minnesota after a truly ferocious July.  I can finally walk our black lab Easy without her panting like she's going to die.

2) My online homeschooling community which keeps me updated on all the great classes and events I can take Sam to this Fall.

3) My feet.  Yes, I love my feet.  There I've said it - phew that's a load off my mind :)  I love the way they look, how they get me places and how they are so flexible after all these years.  I repay them daily by giving them Birkenstocks to wear.  Not the most attractive shoe out there but my feet adore them even more than bare feet.

What are you grateful for this week?  Please share.  I'd love to here them!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

WIP Wednesday - Owl Sweater

This poor, poor yarn has been through a lot I tell you.  It started out as a Shalom Cardigan which made me look like a line backer for the MN Vikings football team.  Needless to say it was frogged and rewound.  Next, it became the flattering Raspberry Layers cardigan.  Like I said this one was flattering, but cap sleeves during a Minnesota winter makes for cold arms I found out.  Thus I frogged again and rewound into lots of little balls this time around.

 Now this Malabrigo Alpine Pearl bulky weight yarn's destiny is the form fitting owl sweater by Kate Davies.  I have just enough yarn to make my size, just enough.  Of course this makes me worry that I will run out.   This worry is exacerbated by the fact that the construction is from the bottom up making amounts more crucial than a top down pattern where you can always just make the sweater shorter.  I mean you can just not do the neck you know?  My solution will be to knitting the length in the middle of the range of  suggested lengths for the torso portion and to make the sleeves 3/4 length instead of full.  Hopefully these measures will leave me enough to complete this fast moving project.  Seriously, this pattern is quick!  If only I didn't have to finish Dan's vest first I think I could finish this up in a couple of days.  
Using size 11 needles doesn't hurt either.

What WIPs do you have laying around your house this week?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Finished Project - The Missing Piece Hobo Bag

Here it is folks, my Missing Piece Hobo Bag finished and in use!  Yay!  First off, I am so glad I shortened the handle by 10 inches (thank you Ravelry knitters!)  I could possibly have shortened it even more as it hits about mid thigh on me (I'm 5' 6") and somewhat lower when carrying heavier items.  The Cotlin yarn from Knit Picks really has a lot of stretch and drape to it apparently.  Much different from the 100% nylon yarn Norah Gaughan used in the original pattern.  Substitutions can affect your outcome by a lot.

Speaking of substitutions, I am glad that I knit this purse on US size 9 needles instead of the US size 10 1/2 with which I got gauge as the purse is voluminous.  Don't get me wrong I like a big bag.  Being a mama I tend to carry a lot with me at all times.  You never know what you'll need right?  I'm often amazed by women with small purses.  For instance, where do they put their first aid kit, drawing stuff for their children, snacks, water bottle, spare hot wheel car, not to mention their latest knitting project? 

My lovely husband Dan took all these photos for me and I think he just got about every angle he could.  He's going to become a real pro at photography when I start finishing sweaters whether he wants to or not.  No, seriously he's very supportive and always loves to help.  I don't even need to bribe him like I do my son - how great is that?

Please don't notice the slight *ahem* tummy bulge.  Knitting doesn't seem to burn the calories like I wish it would.  And, so far I can't seem to master walking while knitting - can you?  I read once that Elizabeth Zimmermann managed to knit while riding on the back of her husband's motorcycle - so cool.

I love the above two pics as they look almost connected.  Also, it shows of the traveling cable along the bottom of each "wedge" section of the purse very well.  
I'm calling this project a success.  
What do you think?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sock Sunday - Van Dyke Pattern

Hello again.  I hope you're weekend is going well.  Mine started off with a bang having finished my pair of Van Dyke Socks on Friday night.  Yes, these babies have been around for a couple of years, but finally they are leaving the WIP basket for their permanent home in the sock drawer.  Woohoo!

The first sock went along swimmingly only ending somewhat shorter than the pattern calls for (three lace repeats instead of five) and only 5 rows of ribbing.  Sigh.  Should have purchased more yarn; the story of my life as a knitter.  The yarn by the way is Blue Sky Alpacas sport weight which has only 110 yards per skein.  This should have been a tip off for me, but I'm sure I thought 2 skeins = 2 socks - short socks I now know.  As you can see below I avoided the hole at the top of the gusset  this time by picking up extra stitches and knitting them together.  But, it was a little make shift and I'm still wondering what is a better way.  
Any thoughts?

  Then moving onto the second sock all was well until the very end when I realized I wouldn't have enough yarn to make the same number of rows of ribbing let alone doing my favorite Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off.  Ripping back to only 2 rows of ribbing I commenced casting off only to run out of yarn.  I cut off the tails from the first sock and used those to continue binding off only to run out yarn again.  Having no other brown yarn available to me I used a piece of rainbow variegated yarn to finish the last 2 inches.  It shows of course, but it's on the inside edge which hides it a little.  You can see it in this picture just a bit of blue and purple along the top edge.

So, a fair amount of imperfections in this pair, but I'm trying to focus them being completed instead of the errors.  Hmm ... it's not working yet.  My next pair of socks will be for my mother's birthday.  I have the yarn, but no pattern yet.  What's your favorite sock pattern? 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Gratitude Friday and Gift Giving - Three Hats

 Another week has come to a close and my but the summer is going fast!  Are you finding that also?  All the back to school ads are popping up and everyone's thoughts seem to be turning toward Fall.  I too am thinking of Fall/Winter by continuing my Christmas in July (now August) gift giving project.  Our friends John and Sara just had their 3rd baby girl and what do you think of when someone has three daughters (besides paying for 3 weddings - ouch!) well matching hats of course!  Bring on the Eenie, Meenie, Miney, Moe hat pattern by Kathy Broughton. It's a cute elfish hat pattern in ascending sizes baby through adult.  So, here they are Eennie, Meenine and Miney (I saved Sara from a matching "Moe" hat as I thought that took the cute factor a little too far.)

They are knit from Malabrigo bulky weight merino yarn that comes from a sweater I decided to frog as it made me look well, lets just say rather large.  The buttons are from my Grandmother's extensive button collection which all predates 1950 which was the year she died.  I really enjoy it when I am able to use one on a project and share a little family history.

Here is my ever so helpful son Sam modeling the "Miney" size which will fit his friend Abigayle who is also 6 years old.  Isn't he a trooper for doing this for me?

I love how cute it looks from the back with that little pointed top.  
Are you working on your Christmas knitting projects yet?

Well, that's it for the gift giving, as for what I am grateful for this past week it would have to be the following:

1.  The wonder and awe my son has for each "new" thing that enters his life.  For instance the used fish aquarium we purchased through Craigslist for his birthday yesterday was not "used" in his mind but a wonderland for fish waiting to be set up.  Such joy!

2.  The vacuum cleaner.  Yes, it is a mundane everyday appliance, but oh I couldn't do without it especially since adding a black lab to our family.  I was warned about shedding, but I had no idea I tell you!

3.  Our couples counselor.  Having a third party, who doesn't take sides, help you understand your partner and vice versa I have found to be an invaluable tool in keeping a marriage strong.

I thought about not sharing that last one, but it was on the top on my mind simply refusing to be thrown aside.  Hopefully it's not TMI (too much information) as my cousin would say.  So, that's my top 3 blessings of the week.  What's on your gratitude list today?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

WIP Wednesday - Mobius Vest

Have you heard of Elizabeth Zimmermann?  It really is hard not to in the knitting world.  So much so that people just refer to her as EZ.  Well, I am going through an EZ phase where I'm reading all her books and making a few sweaters as well.  Her way of constructing a sweater is fascinating to me and how easily she makes the math work out to customize it just for you.  What I'm showing you today is her Mobius Vest from her book Knitting Around.  It's just two long rectangular pieces of garter stitch knitting (with a bit of short row shaping half way through) made into a vest by twisting the rectangles a 180 degrees and seaming up the sides.  That twist gives you the lapels for the front of this cardigan style vest.  It's really that simple.

Now, this vest isn't going to win any current fashion shows, but it's practical, comfy and warm.  Basically, I just had to knit it because I was curious to see how it would turn out.  The I -cord as you go edging, short row shaping, and "afterthought pockets" kept me interested and the garter stitch knitting made it a perfect sweater to knit while visiting with friends.  All I have left is to tack down the second pocket lining and put in a zipper closure.  Of course this has been sitting in my WIP basket for over a month with only these two little things to complete, but I will finish really I will.

The funny thing is I knit this sweater with 3 strikingly different dye lots of the same color Malabrigo worsted weight yarn.  The story goes like this - I bought 3 skeins on Etsy for cheap to knit this vest, but it looked HORRIBLE on me (really I can't say enough bad things about it, it was that awful) so it was frogged and laid in wait for another project.  Then I couldn't find any other garment to knit with that little yarn (yes I know, hats and scarves abound, but I wanted a vest I tell you.)  I thought I could buy a few more skeins of the same color thinking "I can blend the dye lots so no one will know." Well, they were so different blending would look striped so I knit blocks of color intentionally showing off the difference in hue.  When I was just about done I ran out of yarn and ordered 1 more skein.  Ack!  At that point I thought so what and went with it.  All in all I think it looks alright, but it's destiny will probably be a homeward bound sweater. 

I tried showing you a few shots on how it fits, but without photographic help tonight you only get a couple of glimpses.  The upper one shows how the lapel and "cap' sleeve look and the lower one shows how the pieces are twisted inward making a V in the back.  After it's finished and blocked I will post again and you can let me know whether I was successful or not with my different dye lots.
What's on your needles this week?

Monday, August 6, 2012

For Kicks and Giggles

Using up every scrap of yarn after I finish a project is a goal of mine.  You've seen what I do with the smallish felt-able bits here and the itty bitty bits here, but what do I do with the 1/2 a skein plus bits?  Well, it depends on the yarn, what I need (or think I need) and what might make a fun gift.  This time around I decided I needed a small bag to carry a sock knitting project with me wherever I go.  Knitting projects tend to get all tangled up in my purse so I thought a separate bag would solve that little problem.  Using the leftovers from my Missing Piece Hobo Bag (yes, it's done and a post will follow as soon as I get pics!) I knitted up this bag from the book Last Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson.  Here it is:

It measures about 8 inches high and 6 inches in diameter.  My modifications were to only do 1 inch before the drawstring holes instead of 3 (since I wanted more bag than collar) and to make the bottom rounded like a hat so it would "sit" nicely next to me.  The original pattern called for a three needle bind off across the bottom making it a flat style bag.  I did decreases just like you'd do for a hat, but with less rows between the decreases and I love the spiral it creates.

The drawstring is a delicate 2 stitch I-cord with wrapped tassels - so fun!

The bag is very roomy with space for a full sock skein, pattern, needles and extras.  The only problem I have with it is that needles poke through the sides thus I will probably be lining this bag with fabric once my sewing machine comes back from the repair shop.  It will lose it's soft drapey quality, but will be more functional.

I still have some yarn leftover from making this bag too so stayed tuned for what I did with those little cotton/linen yarn bits.  Anyway, that's my project that was just for "kicks and giggles" this week.  
What do you do for kicks and giggles?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

From the Yarn Stash

This week's From the Yarn Stash yarn is from Dream in Color hand dyed yarns.  It's their bulky weight yarn called "Groovy" in the, now get this, "Green Lantern" colorway.  Yes, a super hero name for a colorway!  What's not to love when this yarn is earmarked for my son Sam who is 6.  I told him the name and he flipped out and says he can't wait to wear the sweater and BE Green Lantern.  I love Dream in Color yarns for the subtle variations of color that give the yarn a depth and rich quality.  Also, they are machine washable which is perfect for children who play outside and get gloriously dirty.

 Photo is a little dark as this one was hard to photograph.

The pattern I am using for this beautiful green yarn is Elizabeth Zimmermann's famous Tomten hooded jacket.  This will be Sam's annual "I'm growing like a weed" Fall/Winter sweater for the year.  I will be modifying this pattern slightly with a collar instead of the hood as he already has a hooded sweater (The Wallaby which was last year's sweater that thankfully still fits as I made both the body and arms extra long).  Sam expressed interest in a zipper closure and that will be a new thing for me.  Any tips out there for putting in a zipper on a knitted garment?  What yarn do you have stashed away for your Fall/Winter sweaters?

Friday, August 3, 2012

Gratitude Friday and Gift Giving - Hat and Mitts 2

How's your week going?  I was in a bit of a funk for a good part of my week, but managed to turn it around by the end.  What caused this funk eludes me, my mother claims it was the solar flares, my friend the full moon, my husband claims it was my sore throat, but all I really care about is that it has lifted.  So, what am I grateful for this week?  Take a look.

1. Craft Night with my homeschooling mom friends.  It only occurs once a month as schedules are so busy, but it's worth the wait.  

2. The book The Yarn Harlot: the secret life of a knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee.  I haven't had such a good laugh in a long time.  Reading about projects gone awry, works in progress and endless amounts of yarn - what's not to love?

3.  Packages in the mail.  I LOVE getting mail and a package is the best.  The anticipation, the arrival, the moment of opening it all thrills me to no end.  Of course, the packages are usually yarn and you can guess how I feel about that.

My gift giving this week was another hat and fingerless mitts set knit in Malabrigo yarn.  The hat pattern is aptly called Who? and is free on Ravelry.  It was a fun, fast and clever knit.  I went to my local fabric store to get buttons for the eyes and was so disappointed by the lack of selection.  White was pretty much my only option in the size I needed.  Are people just not sewing anymore?  Or maybe it's another sign of people doing their shopping online? Oh well, I think it still came out looking sharp.  

The mitts pattern I used is again the 75 Yard Malabrigo Fingerless Mitts.  It's just such a solid pattern and being able to squeak out 2 gifts from one skein is fabulous if you ask me.  The colorway is called Vermillion and it's a very pretty soft, almost pinkish, red.

The recipient of these gifts was my friend Denise.  Again, I choose the receiver by the color yarn I was using and since Denise loves red they were destined to be hers.

Who would you love to give a gift to for no particular reason?

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WIP Wednesday - I-Cord Rug

Do you remember this post on what I do with my yarn scraps?  Well, this project has been on hiatus for a while but now I'm back at it.  My intention is to make a rug out of felted I-cords made from all my scrap wool yarn.  All my super wash wool and cotton yarn scraps go to my son Sam for his creations.  Lately, he's making Popsicle stick "God's Eyes" as well as knitting bean bags. I just hate wasting such beautiful yarn you know?  But back to the rug.  Here are a few photographs of my 29 1/2 yards long I-cord wrapped up into a rug shape before felting.

 This is the shape I'm going for only a few feet bigger.  Yes, this will be a long term project.

 Here's a close up of all the pretty yarns.  I did a 5 stitch I-cord.

Now, I washed the yarn cord in my washing machine with soap (not detergent) and hot water agitating it for 30 minutes then I let it finish the full cycle. Well, it came out of the washer a tangled felted mess!  Ack!  I sat down and untangled it and noticed it felted rather erratically.  Where it was tightly tangled it did not felt well and where it was loose it felted just right.  Should I cry now?  All that time and effort and it looks a wreck.  I could have thrown it back in the washer again, but instead I decided to braid it hoping to even out the thicknesses and here is the result:

 Sorry for the fuzzy pics it's a very gray day today.  It measures about 15 inches in diameter.

 The braiding also evens out the colors giving them a more muted effect.

 I'm relived now that it isn't a total loss, just a different look.  Hopefully I can find a book at the library on how to sew braided rugs together.  Have any of you done that and if so do you have any tips?  But, in the meantime it's back to I-cord knitting my scraps.  60 more yards of cord should make a decent sized throw rug for besides a bed or in front of the kitchen sink.  I'll keep you posted!

What do you do with your yarn leftovers?